DIY Library Card Catalog Murphy Bed

I think I may have a new favorite DIY project.  It was not super cheap, it was not quick and when I described it at the beginning of the project, people looked at me like I had three heads.

But now we love it.

DIY card catalog murphy bed
Really really love it.  (Photos taken in a basement with no natural light do not do it justice, trust me, I tried).

Why a Murphy bed?  Well, we have a four bedroom house and we are not moving.  When we have another child sometime in the future, we will need that last bedroom.  And getting rid of the craft room was not an option that I liked.  The guest room was the least used, but with out of town grandparents, it was still a necessity.

There is a bathroom in the basement, along with a TV and some empty space (and exercise equipment and a fridge and tons of toys if you are so inclined).  Bingo.  New Guest Room on an as needed basis.

The bed was going to be Queen Size, so the cabinet was going to be a predominant feature in the space.  We thought about making the facing look like an armoire, but I wanted something more interesting.  Enter the faux library card catalog.

DIY Card Catalog Murphy Bed

So how did we do it?  We bought hardware that came with plans online (here).  And Derek and my father-in-law built the basic bed according to those plans.  They used predominantly plywood for the actual construction of the cabinet.

DIY Card Catalog Murphy Bed

Then came the drawers.  After a whole lot of math by the boys, we settled on 102 of them.  One of the challenges was the foot of the bed had to be in a certain place and a certain size.  Since it would hold the bed while people were sleeping in it, it was important.

DIY card catalog murphy bed

The drawers were cut out of 3/4 inch MDF because of cost.  Then all the edges were routed.  Bless my father-in-law with that stack of drawers.

DIY Card Catalog Murphy Bed

The drawers were nailed on in rows with a paint stick used as a spacer horizontally and flat molding nailed on vertically. 

DIY Card Catalog Murphy Bed
DIY Card Catalog Murphy Bed

We talked about adding molding on the top or on the sides, but after extensive research on library card catalogs (I’m looking at you Google Images), we decided to leave it plain to make it more “authentic”.

And then I finished it using a modified glazing technique.  Which will be a story for a another post.  Sneak peek: It took forever, may have involved some tears and cussing but I think the results were worth it.  I learned a lot. Stay tuned.

After it was finished, it was time to install the hardware.  Which was another challenge with this project.  When you need 102 pieces of hardware, they can’t be $7 a pop.  Especially since they are completely decorative and non-functional.

After much searching, I found my pulls here (but if you are buying them in bulk, check out their store on eBay).  At about a dollar each they were the winners.  When they arrived they were shiny in fake brass kind of way, so I aged them.  I tried a variety of methods with different results, (bringing me back to my junior high science fair days) with a clear winner.  Again another post. Now they look old and worn.

DIY Card Catalog Murphy Bed

Derek constructed a jig to make sure they went on straight.  And then he had the super fun task of screwing on

We brought down the mattress from the guest room, and the new guest suite was born.
Just pop open the leg and the mechanism releases.

DIY Card Catalog Murphy Bed

Add some pillows and a quilt and we are ready for guests.

DIY card catalog murphy bed

And the majority of time when it is closed and being played around, it is just nice to look at.

DIY card catalog murphy bed

And we can tell Carter about the good ole days when that was the way you looked up books. 
And he will look at us like we have three heads.

Cost breakdown-
Murphy Bed Hardware and plans- approximately $300
Lumber-About $300 (rough estimate as we were also buying supplies for other DIY projects at the same time)
Hardware- $155
Glazing Supplies- $15 (I already had the glaze itself from previous projects)
Mattress- $0 (used the one from the guest room)
Total: $770

Not bad for a incredibly functional yet nice-to-look-at piece of furniture.

We loved this project (especially now that it is done) and it is DIYable.  My father-in-law used to work as a contractor/carpenter so his skills were a huge help to Derek with the construction while he was in town. But if you are good with DIY and furniture building, we think you would be able to handle it, as the plans come along with the hardware. Also as I mentioned before, this was not a fast project.  The actual construction took Derek and my father-in-law a weekend.  But the finishing and the hardware application kept us busy for awhile.

DIY card catalog murphy bed

But worth it.  What do you think?

How To: Make A Simple Tray

I love trays.  You can have a random collection of stuff sitting on a flat surface looking a whole lot like clutter.  But with a tray, presto.  It looks deliberate and styled.  Magic.

Over the past couple of months, we have been trying to spend a little time spiffing up our master bedroom.  The room that one could argue should be a top priority had been getting the short end of the decorating stick. 

So I wanted a tray for the top of my dresser.  And I wanted it to be a very specific size and color.  DIY project time.

How To: DIY tray

How To: Easy (and Customizable) Wood Tray


Plywood the size of your desired tray

Molding with a rounded edge

Wood filler or caulk

Miter or block of some kind (only a couple of small simple cuts)

Pretty paper for the bottom of the tray

Coordinating Paint Color


Polyurethane of some kind

Pourable resin (can get at hardware or craft stores)

Hammer and Nails (or nail gun)

Spray Adhesive (optional)


1. Cut you wood to the desired shape.  Nail the molding to the side with 90 degree miter cuts at the corners.  Use caulk or wood filler to hide the corner seams.

How To: DIY tray

2. Prime and then paint the sides.  Here is where I tell you not to do what I did.  Either stop the paint before you get any on the tray edge. Or paint the ENTIRE thing.  You will see why in a minute.

How To: DIY tray


3. Poly the sides.  I used a spray.

How To: DIY tray

4. Cut your paper to the exact size of the bottom of the tray.

5. Dry fit it and then spray a light coat of spray adhesive to adhere it to the bottom.  You could probably skip the spray adhesive and be fine if your paper is a tight fit.

How To: DIY tray

6. Mix your resin and pour according to the directions on the packaging.

How To: DIY tray

This is when my mistake became apparent.  With the resin, my paper became translucent and you could see the wood grain…and my paint line.  I did not mind the grain, but the line annoys me.  Not enough to redo the whole thing, but enough to tell you about it.  Oh well…learn from my mistakes.

7. After the resin hardens the amount of time on the packaging (I believe mine was two days), put your crap in there and watch it become collection-like.

How To: DIY tray

My tray is my dump all on my dresser.  And the place where I keep  my favorite jewelry.  Having it out and seen makes me wear it a whole lot more.  And every once in a while I rotate it around.

How To: DIY tray

Not to mention I love the marble paper (found a local paper store).  And I choose to ignore the blue peeking through.

How To: DIY tray

I have been dumping stuff on the tray for two months now and the resin has held up beautifully.

How To: DIY tray

This will be my go-to project for any space that needs some spiffing up.  Next time I will do it properly…or choose some thicker paper.


You would think that the room that you spend a third of your life in would be the first to be beautiful.  But not our master bedroom.  It has been ignored for other projects for too long. And now it since the other rooms are getting closer towards being “finished” it has our undivided attention.

To share with a basement reno and a baby.  Oh and two dogs.

Sure we painted, and made the bed and added some other furniture but it never got past that halfway mark. Because no one ever sees it except the two of us and a lot of the time it holds unglamorous things like laundry baskets of clean clothes we I am too lazy to put away.

Or recently bottles, burp clothes, and pack and plays. Nothing says glamour like cloth diapers for cleaning up baby urps.

Part of the issue is it is a huge room so it is taking a lot to make it look complete. But I am on a new kick and have lots of ideas up my sleeve to make it elegant, relaxing, and personal.  And add some color. 

First up was adding some picture frames or something above the nightstands for some height.  Because the lamps look puny.  See…(yes this picture is from over a year and a half ago but sadly looked pretty much the same until this weekend.)


And now…


Not a huge difference, but we are taking baby steps here.  Any guesses what we framed?  Give you a hint…it was cheap and simple and has personal meaning without being photos.

A closer look…


In keeping with the theme of remembering our trips (like with our Italy gallery wall and maps), I went with our passport stamps.


It was super simple-just scan them in and blow them up.  I then opened them up in a simple photo editing program and messed with the tint and saturation in a non systematic way until they looked the way I envisioned.  Then a quick print and trim before sticking them in a frame.  All of my stamps on my side of the bed and all of Derek’s on his.


We had some repeats of course since we do travel with each other a lot, but even those looked different because of the varied backgrounds they were stamped on.

So now as I get ready to turn off the light, I can remember our fond times in Italy Frankfurt, Germany. 


Long story.

But it still makes me smile.

A Dog’s Life

In the quest to slowly but surely get the master bedroom to being officially an “after”, I knew we had to something about one of the last eyesores in the room-the dog beds. 


The current ones were plaid, old and furry.  But they are a necessary evil.

Because you can’t just take away their beds because they are ugly.  Well I guess you could, but that would not be very nice.

And you can buy some cute dog beds but they were never the perfect size or color for our space.  And what fun is buying them when you can easily make them?

So a little while ago I bought some fabric I loved for this purpose.IMG_0633

(In case you are curious…the fabrics are Summer Soiree by Paula Prass and Two by Two Stripe by Michael Miller)

Horribly impractical with the white being perfect to exhibit mud and the black a magnet for dog hair.

But oh well….I told myself that is what a washing machine is for.

I made the beds very simply. I just measured the space, added a couple of inches for seam allowances and the depth of the pillow, and then constructed it just like an envelope backed pillow.  In other words exactly how you could make a pillow case for a pillow form.  Super quick and easy.  And a perfect beginner sewing project.

Here is the back on one bed with the overlapping fabric.


Then you just have to stuff it with something soft and washable. 

You could make a matching pillow form with muslin and polyfil for this purpose.

Or you could be green (and cheap) like me and find something laying around to stuff it with.  Because let’s be honest anything that is soft (for the dogs) and washable (for you) would work.

So let’s just say that you melted a king size duvet insert trying to stuff it in your washer which turned out to be too small.  Not that you (or I) would be dumb enough to do that….we are talking hypothetically.  You could cut that in pieces and stuff your beds with that.  Hypothetically of course.


Whatever you use does not not need to be perfectly sized.  Just shove it in there and you get this….


or this….


Perfectly smooth….no.  But cheap and honestly our dogs have more fun shifting and digging at the lumps to get it to their liking.  Smooth beds are boring.

And if you have extra fabric you could make a little pillow for their head.  


Winter had already shifted the pillow for her liking….but of course would not lay on it as soon as the big bad camera made an appearance.

She was however happy to try both beds before determining which was to her liking.


Which one do you think she should choose?  Is she more a chevron or stripe type of girl?


The TV Question

So since the bed is done, I have been working on accessorizing the master bedroom so that it complete.   Not just 90% but completely finished.  Which you all know is a big step for me.


But in trying to complete this process I have come across an obstacle that I have not been able to wrap my brain around how to successfully hide it’s ugliness. 


You see it?  Yep the cable box (the speakers aren’t my favorite either but they don’t bother me as much for some reason).  I don’t think the reed diffuser is masking it. 

So how did the cable box find its home on the dresser?  Isn’t there a better place for it? Let’s back up a bit.

It all started when I declared that I did not want a TV in the bedroom.  Growing up we did not have cable and TV was not a big part of our lives.  We were not allowed to have TV’s in our rooms and we all had to figure out how to share one.  Sounds like fun huh? Derek on the other hand really enjoyed having a TV in the bedroom and assumed when we got married that we would have one.  Because that is what people do.

I lost the battle 5 years ago.

But until recently this is where our TV was located in our room as I did not want to crowd a dresser with it and a new flat screen was planted firmly on the “want” list and nowhere near the “need” column.  It was classy as well as dusty.


However when we went to the furniture store to buy a mattress, somehow this magically followed us home.


Amazing how that happened.

So you can see that there is no place for the cable box where the TV is located.  The box currently is near the location of the original cable outlet.  So Derek ran the longest wire ever through the attic and down the wall to the TV.  In order to change the channel, you have to point the remote to the box on the dresser and not the TV. This took some getting used to and still is a little strange.

But that leads me to the problem….I can’t cover the cable box with a basket or something else because of the remote issue.  And that is the same reason it has to be in a prominent location and not stuck on some shelf somewhere.

So do you creative people have any ideas about how to fix this?  I will admit that the TV is really growing on me and maybe I was even……wrong.    Or are there more “no TV in the bedroom” people out there?

While you are thinking here are some other sneak peek pics of the other things I am putting together in the space-





Details Details

I may have mentioned our bed before (like here here and here), but I promised a process post and I wanted to make sure I delivered.

The entire room is not complete, but I am happy to report that the bed is done (except for pillows of course….a little color is coming)
I love how the room does not feel so monstrous anymore and our furniture now looks like it fits.  And the couch does not look like it is swallowing the bed.  For example-

Yeah much better.

And the best part….the bed cost less than $250 to build.

We are forever indebted to Ana at Knock-Off Wood for the plans (here).  We used the Farmhouse Bed plans in the King size and a canopy with just a couple of adjustments.  I have said it before, but she is a goddess for DIY’ers and we can’t wait to try out some more plans.  Well I am at least….

Since we have a more modern and less rustic aesthetic in the master bedroom, we used a solid piece of wood with a little molding in the headboard and footboard instead of the slats.
I also had Derek raise the height of the footboard in order to combat the couch scale problem.IMG_0782
For the finishing, I debated between staining, painting and glazing.  For a very long time. But since we had to use three different types of wood to get all the sizes we needed (we only could find 4x4’s in cedar) I was worried that the different grains would look different and wrong if you could see them with stain or glaze.  So instead I went with old faithful- Ace Cabinet and Trim Paint in Cannonball.

First, I filled all the screw holes with wood filler and sanded it all down with an orbital sander and medium grit sandpaper.  Then one coat of Zinsser 1-2-3 waterbased primer, two coats of the black and three coats of polyurethane (in satin finish) later we were complete.  The next day we put our new mattress in and were enjoying our new bed.

Buying all the wood in the proper sizes (especially since I wanted some minor modifications) took some time at Home Depot, but I am happy to report that this project was a one tripper.  The lumber is where we spent all the money of $250 since we had all the supplies and if we were successful in finding 4x4’s in something other than cedar ($$$) we could have probably saved another $75.  And Ana was correct, the only tools we used were a drill, sander, tape measure, miter saw, level and nail gun (hammer would have done just fine if we did not have the nail gun).

So here is my view from my pillow on the new bed……ahhhhh.
Well if I was being honest that is the view up….unfortunately with the new furniture placement I look directly into the hideous and dated master bath.  There is a reason that there are no pics of it on the blog.  Think pink blinds, carpet, wallpaper and brass.  Yum. You know what that makes me want to do…….

Wanna Sneak Peek?

it has been two weeks and many hours of priming, painting, and polying but the bed is ready for a sneak peek…..



The master bedroom is not totally put back together as evidenced by the empty picture hooks and lack of accessories but I could not wait to share how the bed came out.   Also the bedding is missing a duvet cover and pretty pillows.  But just focus on the bed right now.  mmmmkay?  After pics and a more detailed “process” post will be following shortly .

Also I am probably the only moron that did not know this, but king size duvet inserts can not be laundered even in a super extra capacity front load home washing machine.  Because it melts and shreds.  So that duvet insert that is sitting all pretty on the bed in the picture?  It is now going to have to cut into a couple dog beds.  Major Fail.  But on the bright side I have a reason to go back to Homegoods.

So what do you think?


See previous bed progress here and here.

Whatever Happened to the After?

The laundry room after has been in the works for a long time.....and we are still not totally there yet. Remember how I am the queen of completing 90% of a project and then moving on to start something new? Well this one stalled around 70%. Since May.


Honestly the laundry room was not at the top of our renovation list because while it was full of oak and had a very awkward was the laundry room.

I did not get a true "before" picture because Derek was way too quick ripping out a laminate counter

So imagine a long laminate counter above the wood strips. The layout with the counter made for a lot of unusable space. We also had the pleasant surprise of finding that counter was not really secured to anything....the former owners decided just to set it on the strips of wood. The light fixture just had a single bulb which made the room very dim but did do a good job of hiding the dirty walls.

Ahhhhh oak...

But I kept telling myself that it was the laundry room and therefore low on the priority renovation list.

Then the dryer stopped working.

I pretended to be sad....but I really was thinking "front-loaders". Derek was really sad because he thought a new TV was next on the big purchase list. But clean clothes are a need right?

So we bought these babies.

I even blogged about my love for them....sad isn't it?

Paint color was difficult in this room.  But we finally decided and repainted, reorganized, and relit.

And there it has sat for months.

Why?  Because I wanted a counter spanning the the entire length of the room over the washer and dryer and over a side shelf that would hold laundry baskets for sorting clothes.  The problem with that small request?


Outlets and water valves right where the counter needed to be hung.

So we gave up took a breather until this weekend when we decided to tackle the counter problem.  I was leaning towards just placing some sort of counter material on top of everything and not secured to the wall.  Derek however decided to raise it a couple of inches over the outlets and cover the gap in the front with decorative molding.

We did a lot of thinking about our countertop if choice.  The first priority was that it be easy to move if we need to.  We hope our new machines last for a very long time, but in case they bite the dust in the next five years, we did not want to add the pain of ripping our counters to accomodate the new dimensions.  Also while the counters are secured well, they still cannot be secured all the way across because of the outlets and water valves so the material could not be too heavy.  Bye granite and tile!

Since I am happy with the top of my craft room desk especailly considering how much abuse it gets, we decided to go the MDF route with tons of poly on top.  Cheap, easy, light, and moveable......perfect.

So right now I am in the process of finishing the MDF.  I have a really great design in mind that I hope will look awesome and tie the entire room.  I am seeing visions of green painters tape and gray paint.  The first coat went on Sunday so hopefully the 300 coats of poly will be done by this weekend for finally an "after".  Or I could wait another six months....hmmmmm.

Two Pieces of Paradise

I am not usually a big houseplant person but ever since I saw this picture years ago I have been in love with those plants. Of course now years later I have no idea where/who this picture is from...I believe it was someone on the Nest if I had to guess. I also saw a similar picture (same room, different angle) on one of the blogs I read regularly a couple of weeks ago. But now as I am writing this post I cannot find that post anywhere. I know, my Internet research skills suck.

But anyway, I started to hunt for this plant last winter for the kitchen. Of course I had no idea what the name of it was. I went to a nursery and all their indoor plants were way more than I was willing to pay for a single plant. Nothing at Home Depot either. But then I found one at Lowe's for under $20 and this baby has been growing beautifully in my kitchen for the last couple of months. (It is called a Bird of Paradise in case you were curious).

So when our master bedroom was needing something with height, presence and you know earthiness I went out and bought a bird of paradise mini-me. (This time only $8.50 whoo hoo)
The Houseplant family

Here it is all ready to grow in its new big pot.....

I think some more miracle-gro is in order to achieve that height and presence thing....

All the pots for the plants are Homegoods scores. I could never bring myself to drop a hundred bucks on a ceramic pot but I found the big pots at my favorite store for 39.99 and the smaller one for under twenty. They are glazed ceramic and weigh a ton (which is why we put the wheely thing on the one on the carpet) so if you are on the hunt for nice large pots check it out.

Crafty Saturday

Since it looked like this outside.....
Ice covered all the buds on the trees, weighing them down

the plans to get the landscape edging and raised beds done had to be postponed. So since we were stuck inside the house I worked on some crafty projects.

First, I finished pillows for the new loveseat in the master. I have made tons of pillows before but these were the first ones I made to fit a pillow form. That way if they get dirty we can take them off and toss them in the laundry or if I want something different I can easily change them. I still need to finish the cover for the neck roll that will be in between the pillows.


The fabric on the front was on clearance for three bucks yard a local store and the back fabric I had left over from drapes at our old house.

Hopefully after the roads clear and we can finish getting curtains rods and such so we can post pics of our entire master bedroom redo.

My other crafty project involved a knitting loom I found at Wal-Mart on Friday. I have previously tried to teach myself to knit and failed miserably. I had all these grand visions of knitting beautiful things while watching TV. Even with Knitting for Dummies all I succeeded with was getting frustrated. So when I saw this loom I thought that for 5 bucks I could give it a try. Here is what I accomplished in a 2 hours (while watching TV) today.....

It's not the prettiest scarf, but what did I expect when I bought less than pretty yarn for a dollar to practice with? I can't wait to get nice chunky yarn and try it again. Here is the link to the loom. I would do a whole how-to but it is right there on the site. I am so excited and guess what everyone is getting for Christmas next year? You might want to request a color now.....

Homegoods Score

I have a slight obsession with Homegoods. Luckily one is within walking distance in case I need a fix. It is not unusual that I need multiple carts in order to get everything out to my car. You know you bought too much when you have to make more than one trip to get everything in the car. On a recent Homegoods excursion I found these sexy lamps for the master bedroom.

Lamps are one of those things that are always more expensive than you would expect them to be (like faucets and rugs) but at 49.99 I think these babies were a score. I think they will look great in our newly painted master. It was very difficult to get a good pic of them but the white base is glass with a swirly pattern.

More pics to come of the master bedroom renovation (with the lamps) as soon as new furniture arrives!