A Better Night’s Sleep

Our sailboat Houd Vast is currently still on the hard, but in less than a month, she could be back in the water. Over the weekend, we removed the winter cover, and tackled the first of many spring projects.

At the top of our wish list was getting a better night’s sleep aboard. Last year, Nick and I spent nearly every weekend on the boat, and it didn’t take very long for us to realize that the cheap foam mattresses that came stock on the cabin beds didn’t make for good sleeping.
We typically sleep in the boat’s aft cabin, which has a large and spacious (but not very comfortable) king-size bed.



Unfortunately, replacing the old foam cushions wasn’t as simple as purchasing a new king-size mattress; if you look at the graphic above, you’ll see that the foot area on either side of the aft cabin is not square – one side has a cutout and the other side an angled base.

Nick and I researched many different options, including a custom mattress…which was so very costly! Also, we really needed two separate cushions in the cabin for ease of removal; if you check out the graphic above again, our engine compartment is below the companionway stairs and is accessible through panels in both the head/shower area and the aft cabin – since Nick has to routinely access the engine for maintenance, we have to remove the right side cushion. When we do that, we either stack the two cushions to the left side of the cabin or pull one out into the salon. Having one large mattress would make that process nearly impossible.


After lots of research, we finally settled on a memory foam topper based on comfort reviews and the ability for us to cut the foam to the exact size we needed. We purchased this 4-inch Serta 4-pound density memory foam mattress from Overstock.

Most memory foam mattress toppers are 2 inches; since the cabin cushions on the boat rest on wood (with no box spring) we went for a thicker 4-inch mattress (we also opted for pure memory foam; many come in memory foam/basic foam combos). Also, the denser the foam the firmer it is; 3-to-4 pounds is recommended for stomach/side sleepers and 4-to-6 pounds is recommend for back sleepers.

Below are the original foam cushions after we removed them from the mattress covers.


You can see in this closeup that the previous mattress was just cheap foam padding.


After we received the new memory foam mattress, we unrolled it and let it expand for almost three days. Before we decided to cut it into pieces, Nick and I carried it up to our bedroom and slept on it, right on the floor, for a night! Thankfully, while sleeping on memory foam does take some getting used to, we both found it to be very comfortable.

After letting the mattress fully expand, we laid out both mattresses and used the old foam cushions as a template.




After we had the cushions traced, Nick used an electric carving knife to cut away the extra foam. (It’s hard to tell below, but we set the new memory foam mattress on top of the old cushions, so the knife cut into those rather than the wood floor.)


Since the memory foam mattress was nearly the same thickness as the original foam, they fit perfectly back into the original mattress covers.


It only took about half an hour before we had both mattresses cut and back into their covers. It was an inexpensive and simple project, but I think it will make a world of a difference and bring us a much better night sleep, especially since we are looking to take a few longer trips this summer.


Since we had great success with this project, we may tackle the bed in the V-berth cabin later this summer.

Until then, happy resting 🙂


Warm wood and white

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season and New Year! Although it was hectic, Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with our families in Wisconsin.

One of my goals for the new year is to simplify, especially our home. While I want to have a cozy and inviting house, I aim to achieve that with the least amount of stuff…but the struggle is real 🙂

To start the new year off, Nick and I decluttered the small storage and mechanical rooms on our lowest level. We have a tiny attic but no garage, and our finished basement offers very little  storage beyond these two rooms (which hold everything from our suitcases and yard tools to our bikes and sails/textiles for the boat).
Blueprint LL

It felt so good to rid ourselves of the clutter that has been slowly amassing in those two rooms since we moved in five years ago. Since three giant trash bags of junk isn’t visually interesting, I thought I’d share another quick and easy project that we recently tackled.

After creating our colorful wooden tree forest, Nick and I (intentionally) had some leftover pine wood, which I wanted to stain and use as a table top for the small storage unit in my craft room/office that holds my stationary and sewing and craft supplies. If you’ll recall, a few years ago, I sewed a curtain to hide the clutter in the drawers.

This room, like the rest of those in our house, is small. While I love the tranquility of this mostly white space, this corner of the room was feeling a little too white recently with my white desk, storage unit and owl bookends.


So I had Nick cut down the remaining pine book to create a topper for my shelving unit. It’s hard to tell in the photo below, but it’s actually two pieces of wood cut to the same size with a small lip overhanging on each side.

While I originally wanted on solid piece of wood on top, our Home Depot only carried 12-inch wide pine that was two-inches thick, which I didn’t think would look good for this project and is too thick for our Dremel Saw-Max to cut. So we bought a 10-inch wide board that was 1-inch thick.


After Nick cut the pieces to size, I covered them in a few coats of cherry stain to match our hardwood floors and finished them with two coats of poly. Below are the finished pieces, before I taped them together with double-sided tape.


And here’s the finished result. It’s a really minor change, but the stained wood definitely adds warmth to that corner of the room.


Finally, here’s an photo of the room from the doorway. The stained wood top ties in well with the wood floor and makes my owl bookends really standout, when before they were lost in all the white finishes.

*Forgive me for the terrible night photo, but this time of year, I’m rarely at home during daylight hours (and we’ve been away the past few weekends…a post on what we’ve been up to is coming soon!)


What do you think, does my little croffice look cozier than ever?

Merry Trees

Two winters ago, one of my favorite bloggers, Inspired by Charm, DIY’d the cutest little wooden forest for the holidays. As soon as I saw it, I added this to my list of must-do projects.


While it took awhile, I finally have my colorful holiday forest. Michael’s blog post includes all the instructions you’ll need to complete this simple project, so I’ll skip quickly through the details of how Nick and I tackled it.

A few weeks back Nick and I bought a 1 x 10-inch pine board at the hardware store. Our board was only half as thick as the one used in the tutorial, because our cutting tool (a Dremel Saw-Max) only has the capacity to cut through a 1-inch board. Even though the wood is considerably thinner, the 1-inch boards stand stable and still work well for this project.

As usual, no project gets done around here without my trusty partner. Nick set up a cutting station outside with saw horses  and after lots of math and measuring, he cut the board down into eight varying sized triangles.


Nick said our Dremel worked fine for this project, but a circular saw would probably work best. Here are all of the cut, but unfinished, trees.


Following the tutorial, after Nick cut the trees, I sanded and painted them with craft paint, which I cut slightly with water so the wood grain was still visible through the paint. Once the trees were dried, I used the handle tip of a craft brush to dot on the white paint snowflakes.

I love how the trees turned out – festive, modern and so colorful!


We currently have the forest set up in the kitchen, along our window sills, and I can’t help but smile every time I walk past them. These will definitely be making an appearance in our home for many holidays to come.

Anyone else tackling any holiday projects?

Heart the Hearth

We did it! We (mostly) finished our hearth retile project before our guests arrived from Wisconsin to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with us.

Before I (hopefully) wow you with before-and-after photos, let me remind you of where we were in the fireplace project. If you’ll recall, Nick spent a few days demo-ing the previously painted tiles and cement underlayment after I became frustrated with having to repaint the hearth every spring to cover burn marks. That left us with a several inch deep hole in the middle of our living room.


The next step was to build back up the concrete-slab substrate,  which Nick expertly did with some Quickcrete concrete mix, making sure it was as level and smooth as possible.


We let the concrete cure for more than a week before before continuing. Things look pretty rough here, but I promise you it gets much, much better!


With the prep work done, our next step was to select our building material. Nick and I agreed early on that we liked the look of white and grey marble, but sticking a slab of shiny polished marble in front of our existing painted fireplace seemed like too much of a contrast between old and new.

With what felt like limitless options between slate, tile and stone, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. I came across this photo from HGTV, which had a painted white fireplace similar to ours, and a hearth re-tiled in honed marble (with a satin and not polished finish).


We both really liked the pattern of the herringbone tile in the inspiration picture and were able to find similar tile in two local stores: The Tile Shop and Home Depot. We also ordered a sample from an online company, Builder Depot.

While we liked all three tile options, the tile from the Home Depot had a lot more beige and brown streaks mixed in with the grey, and the tile from the The Tile Shop was a little too tumbled for our liking. We eventually settled on the honed Cabrera marble tile from Builder Depot, since the size and shape were closest to what we wanted (and they offered free shipping, so the price was very comparable to the other choices). The tiles came in 12×12-inch sheets and cost $11 each; we estimated that we needed six sheets, but bought an extra sheet just in case of any bloopers 😉


Nick and I were able to buy a very well reviewed wet saw for half price, thanks to a pre-Black Friday sale at Home Depot. Purchasing the saw cost just a few dollars more than renting one, and we plan to eventually re-sell it on CraigsList, so it was well worth the short-term investment. Nick had no issues using the saw, and we were very pleased with the cuts.


Our next step was to dry-fit the tiles to the hearth. I found measuring the tiles to be the hardest part of this project since we wanted to have a consistent looking tile layout and cut along all four sides of the hearth. While that required us to cut every single sheet of tile, the finished result was worth it.

We measured each tile sheet twice (thankfully!) and then marked the cut line with pencil. Rather than cut all at once, we laid, measured and cut each sheet individually, which took us a couple of hours. We did the very best we could to get the tiles to fit properly and with equal spacing in between, but our 90-plus year old house is far from level or square. You can see below that we used wooden paint stir sticks to ensure equal space around the perimeter for the grout.


Once we had the pattern and tiles laid where we wanted them, we moved them in their exact order to a long flat piece of cardboard so we could keep them nearby and in order.

The next step was spreading the thinset and laying the tiles, which was relatively easy since we’d done all of the cutting prep work. We worked in small one-foot sections outward from the center toward the edges. Where the tile sheets met, we used 1/18-inch spacers between the tiles to maintain consistent grout lines. Once all of the tiles were set, we let the thinset dry for almost three days (we used a pre-mixed thinset that we had leftover from our kitchen backsplash project; while the pre-mixes are very convenient, they do have extended drying times, and we wanted to ensure the base was really solid).


Grouting the hearth was probably the easiest step in the process. We mixed unsanded grout with a latex additive (we bought all our supplies at The Tile Shop since their staff is very knowledgeable) and pushed the grout mix across the tile joints in all directions to ensure the cracks were filled. (I like to really get into my work :))


We let the grout dry for about 30 minutes and then lightly wiped off any excess with a damp sponge. We read that it’s important to not over wipe the tiles, or you could remove too much of the grout, so we left a thin haze covering the tiles. We let the grout dry for about twelve hours and then re-wiped the hearth again with a barely damp sponge. The next day, we used a clean, dry rag to buff off the remainder of the grout haze.


This was the point when our guests arrived, and while I really wanted to be finished with the project, it was more important to us to do it right.  So we skipped relaxing in front the fire and let the grout set for another two days before sealing it with a natural stone tile sealer. Since fireplaces tend to be dusty, dirty places, I did a second coat of sealer on the grout the following day.


Nick and I are thrilled with the look of the new hearth (and we are pretty proud of our handiwork, especially since this was our first time tiling!).


The hearth is light and bright, complements the nearby marble coffee table and really helps complete the more contemporary look of the room.


As a reminder, here is what the fireplace looked like when we moved into the house; we are so happy to no longer have that dark red stained brick and tile.


I’m pleased to say the hearth works perfectly too! Nick and I had our first fire last weekend, and sure enough, a burning ember fell right on to the tile and grout, but this time it didn’t leave a burn mark!


So who wants to come over and join us for a hot cocoa in front of the fire?