Foyer Update: DIY Salvaged Door

About five weekends ago I did a little foyer makeover but there were a couple things missing. This past weekend I was finally able to tackle them and I’m so happy with the results…

I couldn’t help but share a little preview on my instagram while staining it on Saturday…

But first let’s stop and rewind.

Here’s the best before photo I found…

Sadly I forgot to take a pic of the old light. It was just a very non-descript, round white plastic flush mount box. Nothing special at all.

I wanted to bring a little “oomph” to the space so I found this cool pendant lantern at World Market

For $99, I was sold.

It included a long chain which we couldn’t use since we have standard 8′ ceilings and were worried about tall people bumping into it, so we removed the links to hang it as high as possible.

I love it so much.

That was easy enough…. next up came the real challenge: making this door look like an old salvaged wood door. There’s not a lot of sources for real vintage doors around here, and the ones I do find are either not the right size or style, or would need too many mods to fit, or they’re just too expensive.

The existing door was one of those cheap-o hollow core synthetic wood deals… and it was pretty beat up.

You can really see the fake wood grain texture here…

If you have one of those old school plain wood doors it would be ideal for this project, assuming you could sand down the stain a bit. Because mine wasn’t real wood, unfortunately I couldn’t strip & sand the paint off. That meant I had to face my worst nightmare again… wood veneer.

If you saw my post about my first attempt at this, you’ll understand why I hate it so much. Although to be fair, it’s the contact cement I hate—not the veneer.

But I was determined to make it work this time. I bought the same 2×8′ sheets as I did last time (from Amazon) for a total of $70 (this project isn’t exactly cheap if you don’t have wood doors to start with).

Fortunately, I only needed veneer in the centers of the door so there was minimal cutting involved. I just trimmed the length with a sharp utility knife (it didn’t have to be exact at all since the edges would be covered by wood).

This time I used a LOT of contact cement. Two solid coats.

And I waited 20 minutes before applying the veneer.

And it worked.

I thought I was going to have to veneer the inside edge, but I started sanding and realized this piece was actually real wood (score!) So I just stripped & sanded the paint off.

After veneering both sides, I brought the door inside of the house to adjust to the climate. On my last attempt, my table had sat in the garage for 2 days and after I brought it inside it was ruined, so the temperature shift definitely had something to do with it. I thought if I brought it inside right away, it would have a chance.

That evening around midnight, I checked on it and was horrified to see that it had started bubbling! Not as bad as my console table, but still… I was so bummed. I smoothed it down as best as I could and called it a night, expecting to see the bubbles come back by morning. But surprisingly… I woke up and it was completely smooth.

Not sure what happened there, but I didn’t want to take any more chances so I decided to finish this project inside…

Back in the garage, I had plywood strips cut to 4″. I bought a sheet of cabinet grade plywood at Lowe’s ($30) and had them cut it for me. I would have done it myself, but the sheet was too big to fit in my car so I let them do it.

Let me tell you… those workers don’t care about your project as much as you do, so they’re just going to run your board through the cutter as fast as they can and you’re going to end up with a lot of crooked pieces.

I only needed about 7-8 boards, so I set aside the straightest ones to use for this project.

I started with one of the vertical pieces that ran along the outside edge where the door handle would be. After cutting the length to size, I traced inside the door hole and used an arbor around the same size to cut it out:

Then I lined it back up on the door and used 1″ finishing nails every several inches to attach my piece:

And the first piece was on!

Up went the next one…

Then I measured and cut my horizontal strips. I went with 6 which appears to be standard for old doors.

Then I flipped it over and repeated the process:

And finally, it was time for stain.

I used a blend of Minwax’s Dark Walnut combined with touches of Rustoleum’s Driftwood and Weathered Gray. There was no real method to this… I just dipped my sponge in and spread it around however I thought looked best. I intended for it to look weathered so I wasn’t aiming for perfection.

Then I took some 60 grit sandpaper and roughed it up until I was happy with the results.

Before rehanging it, we had to deal with this door casing. Because I made the door wider, these inside pieces of trim had to be pushed back so the door would latch properly.

We removed the strips…

It was pretty rough looking under there, so I sanded everything down while Brad removed the old nails.

Before putting them back on, the door went back on the hinges…

Then I stepped inside the closet with my air compressor and flashlight, shut the door, lined the casing strips back up and nailed them in.

A bit of caulk & paint later, and this project is done!

And here’s the new light in action:

I didn’t have time to make new wreaths so they’re looking a little sad, but can you believe these have been up for a month? They’re champs…

I love the way it warms up the space.

One day I’ll give the inside of this closet a makeover…

Here’s the view from the entrance to the kitchen:

And reflecting in from the mirror…

Here’s an older shot just for fun…

And now the foyer is officially done! I would love to do this to all of the doors in our house… but sadly they are mismatched, and I’d also have to decide if it’s worth $100 per door. Or maybe I can look for someone getting rid of their hollow core wood doors that are the right size and transform them for just $30.

Next up on the to do list? I’m trying to decide between a DIY fireplace mantel or getting started on our master bedroom. Or being lazy and taking the week off 🙂 We’ll see what happens…


The Jenna Sue Design Co. Studio Reveal!

Another space has been marked off the to-do list…

This was one of the first rooms we started on after buying the house because it needed to be fully functional before we moved in a few months ago.

I ignored it for a while to focus on the kitchen, but now that that’s out of the way it was time to add the finishing touches.

Let’s take it way back to the beginning with the first photo we ever took in the house…

The room greets you right when you walk through the front door, and it was used as a library/sitting area (I assume?) with built in bookshelves…

The built ins were nice but they took up about 15″ of space that I desperately needed if I was going to convert this into my work area…

It also had a closet which was the perfect place for my shipping supplies.

Here’s a view looking back at the front door.

We ripped out the built ins, carpeting and gutted the closet…

Added some much needed lighting and window trim…

Built a half wall over the open stair railing and began planking…

And more planking…

Added trim, paint and lighting…

Set up the desks and equipment…

Maximized the storage space inside the closet…

Added shelves & artwork…

Finished off the desk with fabric for hidden storage, and built a large crate for bulky shipping supplies…

And finally, built this storage crate wall for smaller organization.

And now she’s ready for her big debut! Welcome to the Jenna Sue Design Co. studio…

You’ll have to make it past our kitty guard first.

I was inspired by these and made my own a couple days ago to replace the junky cardboard boxes that were there:

I love the softness the fabric brings to the space—it really helps to balance out all the hard lines and surfaces of the electronics.

But my absolute most favorite part about this space is what’s outside the window…

It’s such a nice space to spend the day in (and sometimes nights).

And that’s my studio!

So, what do you think? It was definitely a challenge to go from my last studio—a larger area where I could spread out—to a room about half the size. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make it work, but it just forced me to get creative with the layout and storage solutions. So far it’s working out just fine!

If you missed any of the progress, here’s a project roundup:

Adding window trim
Planking, adding trim & lighting, painting
Setting up the workspace & adding ledges
New art & DIY floating shelves
DIY wood crate & hidden desk storage
Rustic crate storage wall
File organization

And there you have it, our second “finished” space. By Monday I hope to cross a third off our list—the foyer. You thought it was done already, didn’t you? Turns out I have two more projects planned for this weekend, one is something I’ve never attempted before and I’m nervous/excited about it—you’ll have to check in next week to see what it is!


Studio Update: Crate Wall File Organization

Happy Memorial Day! Hopefully you’re all getting to enjoy the outdoors today with family and friends. We spent the weekend in Tahoe celebrating our 5 year anniversary…


via Instagram

The weather (and scenery, as usual) was perfect.

We even got a chance to get together with family we haven’t seen in years and meet new relatives…

via Instagram

Love that place. If you’re ever in Nor Cal, it’s a beautiful drive there and a must-see!

Before we left for the weekend I took some time to sort through all of our files and reorganize studio storage wall.

Way back at the beginning of this blog, I did a complete organization overhaul and ditched our old file cabinet in favor of a binder filing system:

I even made these printable binder templates so you could use them too:

This system has been working great for 3+ years. We always know exactly where everything is and it’s super easy to file papers/receipts away as they accumulate.

Now that we’ve moved across the country, bought a new home and undergone some renovations, it was time to update the filing system.

I started by laying everything out and determining what I could purge/combine/reallocate:

Several of the magazine boxes contained filler or things I no longer use, so those were the first to go.

I corralled all of the receipts I’d saved from our current house into these convenient expandable folders:

On our last trip to Ikea, I picked up a few of these wardrobe boxes which I thought would be perfect for storing bulkier papers and items:


I used one for manuals/warranties, one for business supplies, and another for all of our important house documents.

I didn’t change up the actual binders much as they were doing a good job already… here’s a peek at the inside of our Florida house binder to get an idea of how it works:

I use these page tabs to divide the sleeves into different categories:

Once I had everything organized, it was time to make new binder labels. I wanted to tone down the colors and keep it more neutral/sophisticated, so I opted for a simple striped background with a classic serif font (Bodoni):

Once everything was printed and trimmed, I just slipped the labels into the binder sleeve:

For my magazine files, I picked up these bookplates at Office Max:

They’re adhesive so I could easily apply them directly to the surface:

Then I printed out labels, cut them to size and slipped them into the bookplates.

And now this storage wall is good to go!

The top serves as a shelf to store my smaller packaging supplies.

Narrow ledges on the wall above it display charts and prints waiting to be packaged.

The lower profile design works great in this small space—it visually opens up the room and allows for a wider passageway around the desk.

Simple, clean and clutter free… just the way I like it!

Are your files in need of spring cleaning? If you haven’t tried the binder filing system yet, now is the time! I’m even offering up my printable templates to help you get started.

You can download the blank templates in both binder sizes:

Click to download BLANK TEMPLATES
Or download these pre filled templates here… use as many or as little as you wish:
Or if you like the old colorful templates, you can still get those here.
The templates are designed to print on 13×19″ paper (the label height is 11.375″, a little too large for standard 8.5×11″ paper)—but if you don’t mind them being slightly shorter, you can print them full size on 8.5×11″ (you’ll have to break up the labels on the pre filled template sheet to print full size—use borderless printing if possible). I recommend either card stock or heavyweight paper for best results.
Hopefully this will keep you busy & productive this week! It’s a big time consuming undertaking at first, but once you get a system down and everything filed away into its place, it’s such a relief. I promise.
I’m wrapping up with the finishing touches over the next few days, and I hope to have my final Studio Reveal Tour by the end of the week—make sure to come back and check it out!


Studio Updates: Rustic Crate Storage Wall (& my failed veneer attempt)

Today I’m sharing the dark side of DIY. It’s not often that a project completely fails to the point that it can’t be salvaged, so when it does it’s pretty upsetting.

As you can tell by now, I’m eliminating all of the turquoise in this house. I had this console table in the studio because it was the perfect size and just deep enough to hold my supplies but not take up too much room in the small space:

My dad built this piece for us years ago—here’s a glimpse of it in our first home (on the right):

A couple years ago I painted it blue for our Florida house…

And now I wanted it a natural wood color. Problem is, the surface was veneered, and once stained and painted there’s no way it can return to its natural wood color.

I really wanted to keep the table, so the only way to get what I wanted was to cover the surface with wood.

Enter veneer. Veneer isn’t cheap. The best deal I found was this on Amazon. And I had to buy two sheets so it ended up costing $70.

The material itself is like a really thick, sturdy paper. Seemed easy enough to install.

You can buy stick and peel veneer but it’s quite a bit more expensive, so I decided to just use contact cement.

After lightly sanding the table, I opened my can of contact cement and read the instructions…

It said to apply it to both surfaces and let it dry for 15-20 minutes, which seemed long to me.

My first mistake was not applying enough (you can see the thicker areas above where it’s yellowish and shinier—the entire surface should have looked like that).

The veneer just soaked it right up so it dried up real fast.

I figured that just meant I didn’t need to let it dry any longer, so I applied the veneer way too soon.

I didn’t notice there was a problem at first—it seemed to hold okay. The most challenging part of it all was trying to cut my piece to exactly the right size and apply it perfectly straight so it lined up evenly everywhere. That was my third mistake—you’re supposed to cut the veneer larger, apply it, and then trim the edges off. I didn’t have the proper tools to do this, just a dull utility knife.

I tried setting the table on top of the veneer after both sides had the glue applied, and then cutting the excess off on the ground, but the table is very heavy so it was near impossible for me to lift it up and set it down while lining it up perfectly. This is definitely a two person job.

Still, I managed to make it work as best as I could and I thought it was coming along pretty well.

It was a lot of work and very time consuming, though. I worked on it over the course of 3 afternoons.

Once all my flat surfaces were veneered, it was time to address the front edges. I picked up these lattice strips which were the exact width of my boards (1 5/8″) and also a light colored wood.
This was the easiest part of the project—I simply cut the pieces to size and nailed them on.
Then I patched all of the holes and seams where the veneer met, and sanded it all down.
For my stain, I used a random mixture to achieve a weathered brown-gray wood effect: Rustoleum’s weathered gray, driftwood, and dark walnut.
I was pretty happy with the results…
And I was relieved it was over.
Until the next morning, when I woke up and found this:
Every DIY’ers worst nightmare. The entire table was covered in big air bubbles. I figured it had something to do with the temperature change caused by bringing it inside (and also improper contact cement techniques, of course).
In a desperate attempt to salvage it, I peeled off the top layer and applied a ton of contact cement to both surfaces. I let it dry for the recommended amount of time (20 minutes) and began to reapply it.
Unfortunately, it worked a little too well this time because when I tried to peel it off to reposition it, it wouldn’t budge. I pulled as hard as I could and it ripped to pieces. And that’s when I made this sad instagram post:
The table is covered in dry contact cement and is now ruined, so I lost over $100 worth of veneer, trim and stain, as well as a nice table my dad hand built for me. It was a sad day.
I sulked for half a day and pulled myself together to come up with a Plan B.
Pinterest to the rescue… I spotted this crate bookcase and that was my answer.
via Pinterest
The cheapest and most easily accessible crates I know of are these for $13 at Joann:
The size was just right, too. Just slightly narrower than my console table which might even be better because now there’s a little more room to walk by.
With the 40% off coupon Joann always has, they come to $8.40 each. I already had two crates so I just had to pick up 4 more. You can only use one coupon per item/visit and I didn’t feel like making 4 separate trips so I paid full price for 3 of them. Still, a great deal though.
For the stain I decided to use a combination of Minwax in dark walnut with just a touch of Rustoleum’s weathered gray (basically the same combination I used for my large storage box).
It takes a little while to get into every little nook & cranny (~15 min for each box) but it was easy and I loved the way they turned out.
To secure them to the wall, I located the stud and drilled two screws in each crate (at the top & bottom)
They are dark enough to blend in but will be hidden by binders anyway.
Then I got to a road block… the outlet.
I took the cover plate off and the outlet ended up fitting perfectly between two slats, so I simply cut out a small section in the center with my jigsaw.
I left the cover plate off because it would have been even more noticeable—my scale will be plugged in 24/7 and there will be objects in front to hide everything.
To minimize gaps between the crates and make it one single solid unit, I also screwed them to each other.
Susie wanted to break them in…
They’re quite sturdy and they should hold up just fine to my binders and files.
I started to add a few things already, but tonight and tomorrow we’ll be going through all of our files and purging/reorganizing. I haven’t done that since I first set up my binder filing system over 3 years and two moves ago!
I’ll be rearranging some things and updating all the labels to fit in with the new house. 
That was a pretty popular topic with you guys last time, so if you love organizing like I do, you’ll definitely want to stay tuned for next week’s post. 
Can’t wait to fill these babies up! Better get started now…


Studio Updates: DIY Industrial wood crate & hidden desk storage

Sorry for being MIA last week… I had a project ready to share with you guys on Thursday morning when disaster struck…

via Instagram

I’ve since regrouped and developed a Plan B which I’m actually more excited about, so I’ll be spilling all the details soon.

In the meantime, I decided to work on something else in the studio by addressing this desk storage situation…

This is the first thing you see when you walk into the house, and it was a mess. My last studio was big enough that I didn’t need to utilize the floor for storage, but this room is about half the size and I have a lot of large bulky supplies that need to be stored underneath.

I knew right away that I wanted the space to be hidden. I thought about adding a panel either with more wood planks, MDF or beadboard, but there’s already so much wood work and hard surfaces in that room so I wanted to soften it up.

I love the look of this fabric from my girl Roeshel at DIY Showoff

That was definitely the way to go.

The goal is to keep the space simple, neutral and calming as to not compete with the artwork, so I went with a natural linen fabric found at JoAnn’s.

After laying it out, measuring and cutting to size, I grabbed a scrap piece of wood from the garage that was cut to 1×1″ and used it as my base. Then I simply folded the fabric over every 4-5″ or so and used a staple gun to secure it in place.

Then I nailed it to the desk from underneath:

Instant hidden storage! I later added trim around the top but forgot to snap pics so you’ll just have to wait for the final reveal…

I didn’t wrap it around the sides because I need to access my shipping tubes all the time…

Which brings me to my next project—building a storage box.

I needed something much larger. Two of those cardboard boxes wouldn’t fit under the desk, and I’m constantly running out so I desperately needed a bigger storage container so I can have a larger supply on hand.

I still have lots of tongue and groove pine leftover from all of our planking projects, so it was a no brainer to use those.

Building a box is a pretty straightforward deal—four sides secured together and a bottom.

My pine planks were 8′ long, so to minimize the amount of waste I cut them into thirds so they were all 32″ long (which worked out nicely for the width of the desk).

Because the edges have a tongue and a groove, I had to rip the top and bottom boards down so they were flat. You can see the original board on top and a ripped one on the bottom:

I also decided to use the flat side instead of the grooved side for the exterior of the box. Just a personal preference.

Because the boards lock together, I didn’t need to join them with nails or screws (just wood glue), so I just had to decide how to connect each side to each other.

I thought I’d give the Kreg Jig a try, so I made pocket holes along the ends of two of the sides:

I began by assembling them one board at a time, using a square to make sure they were level and wood glue along the tongue as I went.

And here’s two of the sides joined:

I noticed that some of the screws were coming out of the other side of the wood, so after the first pieces were together I decided to scrap the pocket holes and use screws on the outside instead:

I also decided that assembling the sides first and then securing them to each other was easier and faster.

Here’s my lovely assistant helping me attach the last side:

Everything was nice and square and solid in the end—success!

I had a piece of 1/4″ cabinet grade plywood leftover from another project that was somehow miraculously the exact same length as the box, so I just ripped the width down and we had our base.

We shot a some nails through the bottom to secure it…

And our box was ready for stain.

I wanted it to be somewhat rustic looking and let the grain show through, so I used a dark walnut stain with just a touch of weathered gray to neutralize the brown.

We used a paint brush to get into all the crevices. Love the way the color turned out.

For a cheap and easy handle, I grabbed some rope, drilled a couple holes into the top, fed it through and knotted it.

To add that extra special touch (and to hide all the screws) I found this metal L-trim piece at Lowe’s:

I bought 4 of them (@ $4.90/ea) and used a hacksaw to cut them to size (the metal is thin so it cuts easily). We used a metal file to smooth down the sharp edges.

To attach it to the box I drilled pilot holes on the top and bottom to insert screws.

Before attaching it, I gave them a coat of satin black (I thought the dark trim would give it more of an aged look).

It came out a little too shiny for me, so I used some steel wool to lightly buff and weather it:

Much better…

Finally, I used black screws to secure them on:

And the box was ready for action! And a cat photobomb…

I have so much storage space now… never running out of tubes again!

The box is fairly light so it slides in and out easily and fits neatly out of the way when I’m not using it.

Here’s a shot from the other side of the desk. It’s still completely hidden from view when you wa
lk in the front door—you have to actually walk inside the room and turn the corner to see it.

And that’s the latest from the studio! I’m almost ready to give the final tour… just need to revamp my file organization/storage wall which I’m starting on tonight. I have that lined up for Thursday (along with the details my failed veneering attempt… sigh).


Our Home Theater Room: The Reveal

I had some studio projects lined up for this week but had to order something at the last minute, so those will come next week!

Some of you have been wondering about our theater room since my Phase 2 update back in January. We’ve added furniture and have been getting some good use out of it—I’ve just been so busy with the kitchen that I’ve neglected to take photos—until now!

This is one of those rooms you really have to experience to appreciate. Looking pretty isn’t the goal here (although I tried, but in the end it still designed to be a dark cave). The main goal was to create an escape where you can enjoy a real theater experience without leaving the comfort of home. And I’d say we accomplished that.

I have to give the credit to Brad—this one is all him. Of course I gave him my input on a few design choices, helped pick out the furniture, and spent days hemming and hanging curtains…

Before I explain any more, let’s take another look back to how it all started.

The downstairs was one large and odd shaped room when we purchased the house. This is standing from the back—you can see it’s divided into two areas.

Here’s the area to the right, which is now the theater room.

No one knows what those platforms were there for, so we decided to embrace it and use it as elevated level seating.

In order to block all of the light out and make the downstairs a multi-functional space, Brad decided to separate the two areas and build a wall to enclose the theater room:

The door was later moved to the left

There was a closet adjacent to the theater which made the perfect equipment room.

Brad painted the walls black and wired a bunch of speakers…

Added carpeting…

I ironed, hemmed and hung a bazillion curtains around the perimeter…

We used special paint on the back wall to serve as our screen, finished it off with trim…

And installed fancy lighting…

Finally, we added furniture and cushions for a cozy viewing atmosphere. So I’m calling this project Done.

This room is a little tricky to photograph—because it’s so dark, I have to set longer exposures so the lighting is a little wacky. Tucked inside the crown molding is a color changing LED strip with a bunch of different settings controlled by a remote. The two lights in the center also change colors via remote, so we can control the mood at any time.

We picked up a couple of these black faux leather recliners along with this couch that folds out into a sofa bed if we ever need extra room for guests. They didn’t break the bank and so far we are really happy with them.

The entrance is behind those taller curtains, in case you were wondering:

There’s seating for 5-6 people up here…

But there’s also a good amount of floor space, so I brought in a bunch of large cushions for more casual seating.

The projector is seriously impressive. It’s an Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020 and it does 3D (which is awesome!)

To create the screen, we sanded down the back wall with a super fine grit and used a special white paint color designed to optimize the picture. It was much cheaper than buying a separate screen and we have no complaints so far.

The most impressive thing in the whole room has to be the sound. Brad installed this set of angled speakers up in the front (left, center and right channels)…

Two of these surround speakers on either side of the room..

This 12″ Cerwin Vega powered subwoofer (which shakes the whole room…)

And two of these on the back wall:

In the equipment closet next door, we have our Comcast Xfinity receiver, Xbox 360, amplifier, and Home Theater PC. All of these are connected to the room so we can do everything from watching cable TV to playing video games to browsing the internet and it will be projected on the screen.

If you care to know the technical details, here’s a summary from Brad (he’s also happy to answer any specific questions you have in the comments):

The Onkyo HT-RC270 7.2 Channel Receiver is powering the 7.1 Surround Sound system in the theater room. All the wiring is run inside the ceiling and walls via wall plates behind the receiver (visible in the picture of the equipment room.) There is an HDMI cable running from the receiver, to the wall plate, then up through the ceiling to provide video to the projector. The whole system is supplied network from the main switch in the upstairs closet via Cat 5 ethernet cable, which connects to a wireless router and 5 port switch in the equipment room. There is a Home Theater PC on the shelf which can play any content and stream from the internet. The Comcast Xfinity Remote Control is RF so it works though the walls. We are using an RF Extender on the Onkyo receiver (looks like a UFO on top of it) to be able to use the remote control in the next room. The Home Theater PC uses an RF wireless keyboard and track ball to operate from the next room.

And of course, there’s color changing lights in here too.

I wish I could invite you all over for a movie night, but you’ll just have to trust me that it really feels like you’re inside a theater (but better because it’s not 50° and you don’t have to sneak alcohol in your purse…)

I took a quick video last night which doesn’t do it justice of course, but it’s still fun to see it in action!

As much time, money and work we put into the kitchen, the home theater room is still the favorite of nearly everyone who comes over. I’m not much of a movie person myself, but I have to admit it is pretty cool to have something like this in your home (American Idol finale party, anyone?). If only I could figure out how to operate it when Brad isn’t here…
Over the next few days I’ll be finishing up our foyer, then wrapping up this week with projects in the studio. Excited for these ones…


Living Room Updates

Stopping in today with some way overdue living room progress!

Last time you saw it, we had just painted it & finished the new railing and it looked a little something like this…

A big bright empty shell, basically. It had a view going for it but that’s about it.

Step 1: Window treatments. When I ordered the woven shades for our kitchen, I picked up the same ones for the living room (the two rooms open to each other so I liked the consistency). They’re the Singapore Oak color from justblinds.com.

Definitely helps to combat the starkness.

To add even more texture and soften things up, I picked up these 118″ long Ritva panels from Ikea, which I am loving (huge shout out to a sweet reader named Erin who saved the day & sent me an extra Ikea curtain rod bracket at the last minute!).

They’re a nice thicker linen weight, much more substantial than the Vivan panels I’ve used in the past.

Step 2: Art. Remember this 20×20″ framed photo gallery wall I put together for $50 in our old bedroom?

I thought they’d be perfect for the tall narrow walls on either side of the windows, so I switched up the arrangement and hung them up the other night…

…ignore the awkward TV placement, that’s unfortunately where the cable jack is and we’re working on relocating it soon!

The next addition was a piece of furniture. I spotted this antique sideboard on our local Facebook buy/sell page and knew its was the one.

I think I talked them down to $220, but it was the perfect size and I had been looking for months (hard to find anything good up here), so it was worth the splurge.

This was actually a month ago… remember the instagram photo I took of Susie modeling it the day I brought it home?

Here it is filled with treasures.

The top row houses artifacts from our travels, and I’m still working on the bottom row. I just threw a few items in there for now, but it will be fun to switch up with the different seasons/holidays.

I also grabbed a few items out of storage for the top—this date wood block I made a couple years ago and a little birdie for spring, along with one of my newer chalkboard prints.

I love the hand carved detail on this cabinet.

To finish it off, I framed one of my prints in an old Ikea Virserum frame I painted black.

It’s a 20×28″ cityscape of San Francisco (my favorite city, and so far my favorite piece of art in the house) you can get your own (of any city) here 🙂

Not sure how I feel about the glass doors yet—I’m leaning towards replacing them with chicken wire for something a bit more rustic. As for refinishing, the wood is in great condition and I like the natural color, so I plan to leave it as is for now. I may do a light sanding and restraining in the future to something slightly darker.

And see that pop of greenery on the right? I found this ficus tree on the same local Facebook group and picked it up last Friday.

I haven’t had a lot of luck with indoor plants in the past, but I’m determined to make it work in this house. So I have high hopes for Fitzgerald the Ficus (I figured if I named him I’d be more inclined to try and keep him alive).

Now that the room has some personal touches, I feel like it’s finally starting to come together.

Starting being the operative word—we still have a long way to go.

But we’re getting there!

And Susie has become quite the gymnast since we put up the new stair railing. She’s been practicing her balance beam skills—running across the top level and jumping onto the couch below—and she’ll sit on this post for hours.

Biscuit, on the other hand, thinks it’s a scratching post. Bad kitty.

This weekend I’m turning my attention back to the studio for a few more updates, and by the end next week I hope to have it 100% done and ready for the official “After” tour. Time to get organized!


Our Outdoor Oasis

Happy Cinco de Mayo! One of you lucky readers has another reason to celebrate today as the winner of the Rustic Giveaway… check the Rafflecopter widget to see if it’s you!

Speaking of celebrations, we had a big one this weekend—our Housewarming party. If you’ve been following me on instagram, you may have caught my post right before the festivities went down…

Everyone seemed to have a great time and the kitchen performed like a champ. It’s built to entertain—we love that it’s able to easily accommodate large crowds (over the course of two days) and come out of it unscathed and ready for more. I predict lots of summer gatherings and holiday parties this year!

If you’re wondering about that deck photo, I’m here to explain. We’ve been making some improvements to the backyard over the past few months which I haven’t covered yet. Unfortunately I don’t have a proper before picture, but here’s one from when we were house hunting. This was basically the extent of the view…

On the left were trees that blocked most of the mountains on that side. I wasn’t able to take a pic before Brad started cutting them down—here’s a mid progress shot after he had cleared out a few:

Here’s the man in action:

The freshly dropped foliage caught the attention of our deer friends.

There’s a trail that runs through our backyard and we often see them running around and playing back there (the babies are adorable!)

Brad did as much as he could by himself, but tree cutting isn’t his specialty so we ended up calling in pros to finish the job. There was one tree directly in front of our master bedroom window that was really close to the house. Here’s the view from my studio where you can see it blocking the left side:

I actually captured it coming down—you can check out the video here.

And now the view from the studio window looks like this:

Much better.

It’s a huge difference in our bedroom. The tree was blocking the majority of the view before:

and now it’s wide open…

Now that the trees were out of the way, we were able to see the backyard of our house for the first time. I don’t think I’ve ever shared much of the backyard, so let’s start with the deck. Here’s the main deck off of the living room, taken from the lower deck:

And here’s the lower deck, as seen from the ground:

I took some photos of the back of the house but they got deleted, so here’s the one I have from my phone a few months back when we were doing a burn pile:

That day was the first time we’d ever seen the back of the house in it’s entirety after the trees were removed. If you’re curious about the layout—to the far left is the living room, the next window over is my studio, then the guest room, and the window on the right is our bedroom. The lower levels are the main downstairs room.

Now that the view was opened up, it was time to focus on our outdoor living space. I spotted the Ikea Arholma set and noticed that it was 25% off with the Ikea family member card, and I was sold. It was exactly what I had pictured and already a very inexpensive alternative to similar sets. So that weekend we took a little road trip to Sacramento, and just a few days later we were relaxing in it.

We als
o picked up this 9×12″ outdoor rug from Overstock.

I love how versatile the pieces are…

There’s endless possibilities for different layouts.

They’re quite comfortable, too.

I just realized I forgot to take a photo of this, but Brad wired up our flat screen TV next to the living room windows (we had it outside under our open patio in Florida), so we’ve been watching movies at night and playing concerts/music when guests are over.

The weather has been perfectly lately, so whenever we have guests, the deck is the favorite hangout spot.

Here’s a shot from the living room looking out…

Yes, we finally have curtains! There’s actually been several updates in the living room which I’ll be sharing on Thursday. But for now I’d better get back to catching up on work (and recovering from this weekend…) Enjoy your week!


A Rustic Giveaway

Happy May! It sure feels like summer here already… I’m loving the 80° shorts weather after a cold spell last weekend while our Florida friends were in town. We still had a great time showing them around our neck of the woods…
Growing up in Northern California I never really appreciated the beauty of this place, but now as an adult living here after 10 years away from home, I get it. (though I still miss Florida like crazy…)

Now it’s back to work as we tackle a few last minute projects and plan for our housewarming party on Saturday. The kitchen is ready, but I’m in the middle of some living room and outdoor updates for our guests (more on that next week!)

In the meantime, I have a little surprise for you guys. Remember this chalkboard from the kitchen reveal?

This was made by the talented LZ at The Summery Umbrella.

LZ creates a wide range of handmade goods for your home using reclaimed wood.

Everything from frames, to chalkboards, to planters, shelves and even hand painted personalized signs.

I love this whale so much:

and this magnet board…

and this sweet custom sign:

What’s great about this shop is that the wood comes in a variety of different color finishes and she can even custom color match. So many possibilities—I wish she was around when I was planning my wedding!

I’m so pleased with the quality of my chalkboard and it has become one of my favorite pieces in the room.

You can pick up your own oversized chalkboard at her Etsy shop here, or if you’re feeling lucky… how about a giveaway?

Up for grabs is your choice of one of the following:

Two 8×10 prints of your choice from jennasuedesign.com (up to $20/ea) framed in 8×10 reclaimed wood frames in the color of your choice


$75 shop credit to The Summery Umbrella (Etsy or Website)

You can enter 3 ways:

1) Leave a comment on this post with your favorite item from The Summery Umbrella
2) “Like” The Summery Umbrella on Facebook
3) “Like” Jenna Sue Design Co. on Facebook

Simple as that!

The winner will be announced in Monday’s post—good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Kitchen Source List & Budget Breakdown

First off—I want to thank you all so much for the overwhelmingly kind responses on our Kitchen Reveal last week. We put so much time and energy into this room and we’re like proud parents, so it feels great to know that so many of you are following along and are enjoying watching this house unfold! I wish I could invite you all over for dinner & drinks to celebrate 🙂

Update: to those who requested wider angle shots for the before and afters, I just updated my last post with new photos—scroll to the bottom of the Reveal Post to check them out!

Update 2: I also posted a quick video tour yesterday, see it here on Instagram.

Now it’s time to dive into all the juicy details.

I mentioned in the beginning that this wasn’t going to be a budget makeover. We did that in our Florida house, but I didn’t want to hold back this time. With that said, we still DIY’d as much of it as we could and shopped around for the best deals (of course), so we could have spent a lot more.
I kept a spreadsheet and tried to be as diligent as I could about recording every purchase, but over the course of five months, contractors working on different parts of the house and lumping labor charges together, and countless trips to Lowe’s for miscellaneous items, this is definitely not an exact dollar amount.
I also didn’t include things like pillows, dishes, plants, and accessories that aren’t kitchen specific and could be repurposed elsewhere. It becomes a gray area when you get into decorative items—where do you draw the line?
Let’s start with materials…
Floors: Armstrong Shell White Walnut Engineered Wood / ~$800 (I purchased the wood for the entire house at once, so I divided it by the square feet of the kitchen to get the total)
Ceiling & wall tongue & groove planks: Lumber Liquidators / ~$500 (^same thing here)
Wood for DIY Beams: Lowe’s / $220
Wood for trimming the windows: Lowe’s / $80
Paint & primer: Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee (white/trim), Valspar’s Montpelier Madison White (walls), Valspar’s Dark Kettle Black (door) / $280
Wood/supplies for pantry: Lowe’s / $120
Wood, stain & poly for bar and bench seat frames: Lowe’s / $150
Plywood, trim & paint for bench seats: Lowe’s / $85
Upholstery foam for bench seats: Ebay / $146
Batting for bench seats: JoAnn’s / $35
Fabric for bench seats: Fabric.com / $116
Tile installation supplies: Lowe’s / $130
Wood & stain for floating shelves: Lowe’s / $40
Quarter round / trim pieces: Lowe’s $45
Lumber, stain & screws for dining table: Lowe’s & JS West / $130
Now for the expensive stuff… the appliances. We purchased most of the bigger items at Lowe’s during their Black Friday sale.
Whirlpool Fridge: Lowe’s BF / $1563
Whirlpool Dishwasher: Lowe’s BF / $388
Corstone Sink: Lowe’s / $390 (no longer sold)
Faucet: Lowe’s / $150
Garbage Disposal: Lowe’s / $97
Whirpool Oven: Lowe’s BF / $971
Whirlpool Cooktop: Lowe’s BF / $388
Microwave: Amazon / $162
Wine Fridge: Living Direct / $237
Now for the fun stuff… decor!
Cabinets: Kraftmaid Durham Maple Square (in Grayloft and Dove White): Lowe’s / $8,235 after sales, promos and rebates
Counters: Silestone Quartz (in Marengo and Blanco
White): Lowe’s / $3,254
Pantry cabinets: Ikea Pax Wadrobes / $630
Bench seat cabinets: Ikea Akurum / $560
Bar cabinets: Ikea Akurum / $200
Quartz stacked stone: Lowe’s / $240
Bar floating shelves: DIY Ikea desk hack
Bar Accessories: Vases, tray & lantern: thrifted / Moose print: jennasuedesign.com / Cabernet sign: DIY / Frame: Ikea Ribba
Cabinet hardware & doorknobs: Ebay: Knobs / Cup pulls $77
Pendant lights: lightingdirect.com / $84
Pendant light bulbs, medallions & dimmer switch: Lowe’s / $70
Recessed ceiling lights & bulbs: Lowe’s / $250
Ceiling speakers: Amazon / $108
Upgraded light switches & outlets: Lowe’s / $30
LED under cabinet lighting: Ebay / $130
Table runner & flower box: DIY
Parsons chairs: Overstock.com (with old slipcovers) / $207

Woven wood shades: justblinds.com (Singapore Oak color) / $207
Subway tile: Lowe’s / $250
Runner: Dash & Albert – Wayfair / $90
Sink pendant light: Feiss Urban Renewal Mini Pendant

Rug: 8×10 Maui Chunky Loop – Rugs USA / $140
Chalkboard: The Summery Umbrella
Pillows & blanket: Ikea, Target, Etsy & TJ Maxx

Floating shelves: DIY
Dishware: Ikea, TJ Maxx, thrifted
Quote print: jennasuedesign.com

Pet portrait prints: jennasuedesign.com
Frames: Ikea Ribba (+ DIY fabric bows)
Pet bowl: DIY
Stool: Gifted
ORB Door knob: Ebay

Last but not least, labor costs. We hired out certain things that we didn’t feel comfortable tackling in our own. Here’s our rough estimate:

Reinforce kitchen ceiling, finish demo, build pantry wall: $1,100
Electrical (relocating wiring to the island, wiring appliances, etc) $1,750
Cabinet installation: $1,574
Countertop installation: $1,123
New drywall & fridge plumbing: ~$500
Sink & Dishwasher plumbing: $432

And I believe that covers everything.

Final tally drumroll please…..

GRAND TOTAL: $28,481

Again, this number is really just an estimate, but even if you add in every little thing we could have possibly forgot about, it’s still definitely under 30k. And I’m pretty confident we added more than that in value to the house considering we got a great deal for the neighborhood. It really pays off to buy a house that needs some TLC!

Once again, here are the project links which go into detail about each phase if you’d like to learn more about how it all came together:

Kitchen Chronicles: Planning Stages
Kitchen Chronicles: Demolition
Kitchen Chronicles: A blank slate (+ more house updates)
Kitchen Chronicles: Trimming out the Windows
Kitchen Chronicles: Finished plank ceiling & wall
Kitchen Chronicles: The cabinets & floors are in!
Kitchen Chronicles: DIY Wood Beams
Kitchen Chronicles: New Hardware & Paint
Kitchen Chronicles: The counters are in! (+ pendant light & faucet preview)
Kitchen Chronicles: An Ikea Pax Pantry, Part 1
Kitchen Chronicles: Ikea Pax Pantry Reveal!
Kitchen Chronicles: Building a Bar
Kitchen Chronicles: Building a Window Bench Seat
Kitchen Chronicles: A DIY Subway Tile Backsplash, Part 1
Kitchen Chronicles: A DIY Subway Tile Backsplash, Part 2
Kitchen Chronicles: Stacked stone bar wall & DIY floating shelves
Kitchen Chronicles: DIY floating rustic shelves
Kitchen Chronicles: Upholstered Bench Seating
Kitchen Chronicles: Building a Fancy X Farmhouse Table  

If I missed anything or you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!

So what do you think? Was the total more or less than you expected, or right on the mark? Imagine if we had hired out everything instead… yikes! I can easily see how the average kitchen remodel is over $50k. Glad we got the most expensive room in the house out of the way. Now we can focus on the other 2100 square feet… one project at a time!

I’ve got a fun giveaway coming up in the next post—you won’t want to miss it!