Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Category: Furnishing and Decor (Page 2 of 2)

A Vintage Guest Bed

Slav and I love to have people over. We love hosting dinner parties, movie nights, and occasionally overnight guests. We always have a good spare mattress, but never a guest bedroom, or even a guest bed. Whenever our friends stay with us, we throw the mattress on the floor with some comfortable pillows and comforters. Such simple setup did not make our time with friends any less enjoyable. We make it up by cooking amazing breakfast in the morning, and Slav makes a killer cappuccino.

Now we bought a five-bedroom house (!), we finally have the space to set up a real guest bedroom. In fact, we are tossing around the idea to convert the entire basement into a two-bedroom guest suite. With its own kitchen and bathroom, whoever is staying with us will have complete privacy, which makes a breeze for long time stay of family and friends, as well as short-term rental.

Here comes the exciting news: next week, we will be welcoming the first long-term guest in the ranch house – Slav’s mom is visiting us from Poland!

Mom Anna had lived in the States for decades before she moved back to Slav’s hometown, Nowy Wiśnicz. Slav’s parents built a beautiful house there when Slav was a baby. After living in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn for years, mom could not wait to go back home.

But living in a three story house by herself can get lonely. Mom has been craving some family time with us, and this winter, she finally pulled the trigger and comes to spend Christmas with us! We have been eating less for the last a couple weeks to prepare ourselves for the inevitable weight gain (mom is a really good cook). At the mean time, we want to set up a real guest bedroom  – with real bed.

If you remember our basement plan, we have opened the drywall in the utility room to convert the 3-bedroom basement to a 2-bedroom suite. The current two bedrooms are both on the northern side of the suite, directly below Slav’s office and our bedroom.

Ranch basement_proposal 1

We picked the smaller bedroom on the northwest corner for mom, which is below Slav’s office. The carpet in that room is in the best shape – relatively speaking, and our bedroom floor squeaks a lot, which can be noisy.


This room has been known as “Charlie’s bedroom”, because our dog Charlie sleeps here. The other room is bigger and a lot brighter, but Charlie picked this room as soon as he walked into the house. This room rocks a pair of fluorescent purple curtains, which gives off a brothel-like lighting when they are closed during the day. Charlie digs it.

Without any time and budget, we decided to focus on setting up a good bed for mom. We have picked up a pair of head board/foot board sets from Habitat for Humanity months ago, and we inherited a small table that can be used for bedside storage.




This head board/foot board set is made of beautiful hardwood, and is in pretty good shape. There are some scratches and small dings, but it is structurally very sound. I love the simple shape and small details – not too modern, not too complicated either, a perfect balance.



We have a pair of railing that fits the bed, but no frames. So our work includes to come up with some kind of bed slats for supporting the mattress, and give the head board and foot board a nice cleaning and refinish.


For cleaning and restoration, I followed the method from the Manhattan Nest, which was adopted from the Brick House. Basically, it involves

  1. Cleaning the old grease off the wood with Murphy’s Oil Soap (I used warm soapy water) and fine steel wool (grade 0 or 1)
  2. After the bed is dry, soak the wood with Danish oil or other wood finishes
  3. Wax and Polish with Howard Feed-N-Wax

I started by popping up the boards on a piece of plastic drop cloth, and scabbed it down with warm soapy water and steel wool. I used grade 1 in most of the places, and grade 0 on the second pass.


It was a true arm workout, but the boards cleaned up nicely:


The wood looked a lot lighter after cleaning. Since the boards are not painted or stained, the color you are seeing now is the true color of the wood, without grease and dirt.



After it dried, the boards looks pale at some spots. But do not worry, the oil is supposed to bring the rich color back to the wood.


Before I oiled it up this baby, Slav glued down a piece of loose trim and clamped it into place:


I had to wait a few hours for the glue to dry before applying oil, so Slav took the opportunity to make some bed slats. He cut up some 1″ x 8″ pine boards to fit in between the railings:


After the glue finally dried, it was time for the oil! I soaked a microfiber cloth with danish oil and gave the boards a good wipe. The color of the wood immediate changed. The image below was taken right after the first coat of oil. The left 2/3 of the hand rail has oil on top, and the right 1/3 is without. You can see the color difference:


Drier the wood pieces are, more oil they drink up. In my case, I could see oil “disappearing” within minutes. So I came back every 5 minutes to give the boards another coat of oil, especially at the hand rails and legs, where there were more wear.


It took five coats before the oil started sitting on top of the wood. With each coats, the color of the wood became richer. The picture above was taken after the third coat, and below is the finished product with five coats.


Here is the foot board after five coats of danish oil. I love the color so much.


I let the last coat of oil sitting on the wood for about half an hour, then used a clean microfiber cloth to wipe off the excess. I followed by polishing both boards with the Feed-n-Wax. It only took one pass to give the boards a great shine:


Slav cut up 8 pieces of slats, which covered 2/3 length of the bed. They together give a strong support for the mattress.


We popped the mattress on, with a brand new mattress protector and a pair of pillows with pillow protectors.


I finished the bed with crisp white sheets and linen duvet cover. A floral down comforter on top keeps the bed warm and cozy.


After finishing the bed, I moved onto restore the small bedside table. It was pretty beat up with paint and stains on top. It also got a lot more fade and wear compared to the bed.



Danish oil does not change the color of the wood, so even through it could give the table a richer color, it would not be able to mask all the wear. To restore the color of the table, I decided to give Restore-A-Finish a try. This is another Howard product and I’ve seen how it does wonders. I followed the same steps as those refinishing the bed – first using steel wool and soapy water to clean the surface, followed by rubbing on some Restore-A-Finish, then finishing it with Feed-N-Wax.


This is the finished result:


A pretty big difference from before restoration:


We opened the vent in the basement to make it toasty, and cleaned all the walls, floor and closets. Charlie’s bed is moved out of the bedroom (poor boy!). Now we have the guest bedroom ready!


There Are Cows in Our Living Room!

Happy Friday! I am stopping by to give you a quick update on our living room – we now have cows!

Not just cows. The Cows. Nine of them.

This cow print was sold by IKEA for 99 cents each when we spotted them a few year ago. Slav was immediately in love. He bought nine of them – yes, he bought nine identical prints! We had them hung 3 x 3 on our bedroom wall for a while and had no idea what to do with them. Until one day, an idea struck to let our friends in North Carolina decorate them. The goal was to have nice different products, from nine people/couple who made significant impact on our lives during our time in North Carolina. And all the people we asked kindly accepted the challenge! By the time we moved to CO, we had seven of them decorated in very different ways (still need to pick up the last two from NC). It is like a DIY art gallery from our friends.

And our living room could really use some art:


We hardly had anything hung at this point so the living room looked so pale.

We picked the southern wall to hang the cows:


I used some newspaper to map out where I wanted the cows to live, and Roxie was of course there to help:


Maybe she smelled our old apartment from these cows? Maybe she smelled our old friends who decorated them?


It took me about an hour to get them all neatly lined up. Now this is the view when you walk into our living room:


Pretty nice, right? Since I had my hammer out, I also hung the new painting we got from Poland in our little hallway:


This painting is also from Adam Faglio, the painter who did the castle painting in our bedroom.

These were tiny updates to our living space compared to most of the projects we do (grading with gravel this week, and roof next week!), but it made the space so much warmer and more welcoming. I hope you like them as much as we do!

Setting Up A Minimalist Bedroom


Happy July 4th, everyone! I hope you have a great weekend grill out with family. We do not have a grill yet – the old grill left behind by the previous owner was too gross to keep (thanks though!). We did order a new grill, a sexy beast to say the least. Cannot wait for it to be delivered.

After removing the old carpet and expose the hardwood flooring, we aimed to set up our bedroom and Slav’s office as soon as possible. A good night sleep is necessary for carrying out all the physical work we are doing, and some downtime at night on his computer is well-deserved for Slav.

I always wanted cozy bedrooms. However, the two bedrooms we lived in the longest in the past were either big, or directly open to the rest of the house (no door). Our new bedroom is 10’6″ by 11″. It can take a king bed comfortably, yet with ample room for bedside tables. Just like my all-time favorite bedroom below:

Our bedroom has a closet wall. However, the wall of closets was divided to two, with one opening to the office.

Bedroom closet


Office closet


This setup left very little closet space to the bedroom. Although I have been working towards a minimalist closet, I have a husband who does not throw away anything. Between Slav’s mom, who buys clothes and bedding for us constantly, and Slav himself, who refuses to let any old T-shirts go (“they carry memories!”), we need additional storage.

After consulting with Slav, we decided to get a storage bed. Coincidentally, the morning we went to IKEA, Emily Henderson published a post on storage bed. You bet I was reading through it while shopping in IKEA!

I love a storage bed that has simple lines and big drawers, like this one from Muji. I might ask Slav to build one in the future. But for now, we picked IKEA BRIMNES for its simplicity and storage capacity. Slav also wants it in black – he picked up the classy BEKVÄM stool in black too, which we had in NC but in birch color.

BRIMNES Bed frame with storage IKEA The 4 integrated drawers give you extra storage space under the bed.

This is how our bedroom looks like in our moving day – dirty window frames, old carpet, and cheap curtain rods.



After removing the carpet, we threw our mattress on the floor, and lived like this for about another week.


Slav spent a day to piece the storage bed together:


meanwhile, the living room became a dump ground while waiting for its own IKEA furniture.


At the last minute, we decided to rotate the bed 90 degrees. We gain 3 more inches this way for the drawers to be fully open.




Slav also took the broken metal frame off the window and installed blinds. We plan to get bigger window down the road, so good window treatment can wait. We purposely mounted two big blinds (35″) side by side, so we can get an idea how 70″ wide window would work with the bed. We can also play with the length of the adjustable blinds to find a desired height for the new window sill.


We did not like the king headboard options in IKEA, and we still do not know what type of headboard we want yet – antique? Something dramatic? With comfortable padding or bare wood? How tall should it be? I found this headboard on the Design Sponge. It will work for our bed, but it is a bit too modern for our taste.

What we had a clear vision for are the bedside tables. Slav has been using a drum his best friend gifted him a while back. It works for the few things he keeps next to bed. And any multi-function furniture is a win in my book.


As for me, I have been hoarding a live edge for a while. I found it in a discount store for $10 in Nashville. It has since been used as a candle holder, a center piece for the dining table, and a kitchen shelf. But this is what I really want to use it for – as a bedside table.


Two of the deep drawers hold our winter bedding and towels



And the other two hold Slav’s shorts, jeans and winter layers.



Slav has lots of pants and shorts, but he always piles them up and only wears the ones on the top of the pile. These drawers allow him to see all the pairs he has and provide easy access to any of them. Hopefully we can get more clothes into the mix.

We are only using the outer edge of the drawers – they are much deeper and can easily accommodate another line of clothing. But I have no plan to fill every drawer to the brim in this house. We voted on not buying any outfit until we consume what we have in hand. In another words, we will only be REPLACING our clothes.

With the heavy stuff out of the way, we are able to fit all of our clothes in the two closets:

Bedroom closets


Office closets


All of my 3-season clothes are in the bedroom closet. Slav wears T-shirts and shorts 99% of the time, so his T-shifts and underwear are kept in the bedroom closet too. The office closet is filled with his shirts, sweaters and winter coats. He accumulated lots of them when he was young and lived in New York. But during the last 11 years of living in SoCal and the South, most of these clothes were just collecting dust. They will definitely get some use this winter! (Let it snow!)

We are still far from the minimalist closet I’d like to have. But we live in Colorado where winter clothes are needed, and they take a lot of space. We have the plan to redo the closet with IKEA PAX system, and potentially to reverse the office closet to create a bigger bedroom closet. For now, I put up a pair of curtains over the bedroom closet for a cleaner look:


These curtains are also from IKEA.


We hung only one painting – the one Slav gifted me at our last anniversary:


It is painted by Adam Faglio, our favorite Polish painter. He is a family friend and what he painted is the castle in Slav’s hometown. You can see more of his work here.

Our bedroom is far from finished, but it is clean, comfortable, functional, and minimal. I’d like to bring some plants into the room, and get snow white bedding when we need to replace our current ones. I love this bedroom from the Design Sponge. And I think green plants and a bigger window will make our minimalist bedroom a truly peaceful place.

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