Foyer Update: The Reveal

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter! I spent the weekend transforming our foyer from this….

To this:

But let’s start from the beginning. Lots of photos today so grab a drink and get cozy.

Originally I was planning on another board & batten treatment for this wall, kind of like what I did in our old house…

But then I remembered I had tons of leftover planks just sitting in the garage so I thought I’d save some money and use them again. It’s also nice because it’s consistent with the planking in the adjacent areas.

I won’t go into depth about the planking process (you can read all about that when we did our kitchen ceiling, kitchen wall, studio, and living room), but here’s a quick overview.

Step 1: Remove the existing baseboard.

Step 2: Relocate the wiring for our door chime (this wasn’t necessary, but I thought it’d look better tucked in the corner by the door instead of on top of the planks. I picked up an old fashioned little bell to replace the giant wood & plastic relic from the 70’s.

Step 3: Cut some planks. I started on the small wall first, and had to measure for each one since the wall wasn’t perfectly even all the way down.

Step 4: Secure planks to the wall. On these, I shot two nails through the tongue of each to hold it in without being visible (the groove of the board below will hide them. The tongue and groove locks them together so you don’t have to go overboard with the nail gun.

In no time, this wall was finished.

Then I started on the main wall—same process here, except I used two nails on each end instead of along the bottom since it would be hidden by trim.

For the bottom, I just ripped down the last board with a table saw and it locked in place.

Already an improvement…

Then it was time for trim. I started with quarter round at the top…

Then quarter round again where it met the wall on the right, and a 90′ piece for the outside corner on the left.

Then came the tricky part… this edge where it met up with the bar.

At first I was going to use quarter round again, but decided another 90′ piece would look nicer, and that way I could also cover the edge of the stacked stone. To give it something to nail to, I first put up a scrap piece of wood cut to 3/4″.

At the bottom where it met the counter, I cut another piece of wood the same depth but wider to cover the larger gap.

Then I secured my corner piece over them:

Whew, much better. And finally it was time to spackle the nail holes & caulk the seams.

It takes a whole lot of caulk to get into all the little spaces…

Before painting, I decided to use a primer over the knots because I’ve been noticing a slight amount of yellowing where the knots are on the other plank walls. It’s nothing obvious, but enough to take the extra step of using primer (I used Zinnser’s in the blue can for this). Since it was water based, I was able to go ahead and touch up over the already-painted walls elsewhere in the house while I was at it, and hopefully that will stop them from bleeding through any more.

After the primer was dry, I applied a couple coats of my go-to white satin paint (Valspar Signature color matched to Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee), and the hardest part was over!

Then the real fun began—decorating.

I had the perfect mirror to use… remember this guy from our sunroom?

He was a perfect fit. But I decided to age him a bit by sanding the edges.

Much better.

Next, I wanted to bring some function to to the wall with a shelf—but it had to be small because we open the left door every now and then to bring large things through. A custom shelf/ledge held up by brackets was what I decided on.

I have a bunch of old wood lying around so I grabbed a pallet and started hacking away at it. This is the first pallet I’ve ever attempted to disassemble, and seriously, I’m not even sure it’s worth it.

I started prying one piece at a time, and after about 20 minutes of struggling I only had one board off. Then I took my jigsaw and tried to cut them all off. Finally, Brad came to the rescue with a huge crow bar and helped me pry each individual rusty nail out. It took probably an hour just to get this one board.

I’d think I’d rather just buy a bunch of wood at Lowe’s, throw them in the backyard for a few years and let nature do its thing. That would definitely be easier.

Anyway, after I finally got my board, I cut it in half and gave them a light coat of stain (Minwax’s Dark Walnut).

I picked up these brackets at Lowe’s for around $6 each, but they only came in white and I wanted them to look like iron.
So I spray painted them of course (satin black). And once they were dry, I was ready to assemble my shelf.

Using black drywall screws, I secured each bracket to the wall…

Followed by the wood pieces.

Simple as that!

For my last project, I decided to add some greenery with a couple door wreaths. I picked up four wire wreath bases for $2.50/ea at Joann’s (I plan to make two for the front door as well) along with green floral wire.

We’re spoiled out here in the country with a large variety of plants and trees, so I stepped out into the front yard and found some shrubbery that was in full bloom. I gathered some clippings that I thought would make perfect spring wreaths.

To attach them, I snipped off small pieces of wire and bent them into a U shape…

Then starting from the outside, secured my clippings one at a time (here’s the back):

It takes a while to get the hang of it, but after the outer ring is done it goes by quickly, and in 20 minutes or so I had this:

I thought about incorporating some flowers, but I loved the simplicity of the leaves so I left them as is.

I’ve never made a natural wreath before so I have no idea how long it will last, but I plan to spritz it with water frequently and hope it stays good for at least a little while!

With the final touches on the door, the foyer is dressed up for spring and ready to welcome guests…

These pretty flowers came from the same shrub as the wreath leaves. They’re a big hit with bees.

I picked up the antler at a local flea market for a few bucks, and I’ve had the gold dish as long as I can remember. It holds spare change/keys/etc.

I pulled an old Ikea vase out of storage to serve as an umbrella holder. The metal bicycle basket was purchased on Ebay a few years back and is great for mail and small packages.

Most everything was reused/repurposed in this space or I had it on hand already, so this whole makeover cost me around $30 (for the shelf brackets, trim pieces and wire wreaths).

Not a bad deal considering this is how it started…

I still need to spruce up the closet door and replace the ceiling light, but this proves that you can still have a welcoming entryway even if your foyer is tiny/nonexistent. And on a budget!

Alright folks, guess what? My next post is the Big Kitchen Reveal! I’ll be doing last minute preparations over the next few days, and the post will be up first thing Thursday morning (in the meantime, you can follow my instagram feed where I may post a sneak peek or two…)

I’m so excited to share everything with you guys, I can hardly wait. The countdown begins…


Foyer Updates: New paint & door hardware

If you’ve been following along on instagram, you may remember this in-progress photo I posted on Tuesday…

Not the best looking door yet, but let’s back up for a second… here’s what we’re working with:

Of course that was way back when we first bought the house, but literally the only thing we’ve changed since is the floors.

Everything else was gold, beige and bleh. Had to go.

Remember when I painted our kitchen door black?

I love that door so much—I knew black was the right choice for the front doors too. They needed to stand out rather than blend in to the background.

I used the same paint (Valspar Signature Duramax Exterior paint in Dark Kettle Black, which is a soft smoky black).

Let’s take a look at the front of the doors first…

Not a terribly offensive color, but really not my style.

The old mismatched brass handles were especially rough looking.

After scrubbing the doors down, removing the hardware and taping the trim off, it was time to paint.

The first coat always looks rough…

Covering over darker colors is a little easier…

The paint dries pretty fast though, and by the time I finished one side and took a small rest, it was time to put up another coat.

Here’s how the second coat looks:

Then a third coat, which covered pretty well.

I went over it a fourth time just to get any areas that were peeking through and make sure it was fully covered.

After drying, we installed our new hardware. I ordered matching handles for all three keyed entrance points (the kitchen, front door and garage) so they would all be keyed the same. Nice and simple.

For the front door, I spray painted the decorative handle bars (we painted the gold screws black after this photo was taken). The doors look grayish here—they are definitely black when you step back, but next to the oil rubbed bronze you can see that the shade is definitely a softer black.

Once that was taken care of, I painted the foyer and hallway in the same barely-there gray I use throughout the house—Valspar’s Montpelier Madison White.

I am seriously in love with this paint—it covers in just one coat so I was able to paint the foyer and entire hallway in less than a couple hours. Easiest paint job ever.

Here’s a hallway photo from the other night…

And here it is now:

Certainly far from done (I plan to add some kind of molding/trimwork and a ledge for frames), but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s much more refreshing in there.

While we’re at it, we’re updating the old switches so that’s still in progress (I need to make a Lowe’s trip to grab some plates). I also ordered matching ORB handles for the rest of the doors in the house, so they should be here in a few days—so ignore the taped down closet door below. And I plan on either replacing that door entirely or transforming it with trim + paint in the near future.

I also added this jute runner I picked up at TJ Maxx for $30 a couple weeks ago…

I’ll bring in more pieces this weekend to add some personality, but for now I’m just loving the contrast it brings to the space.

No more blending into a sea of white & beige!

Both doors open, which is convenient for the large packages we’re always bringing into the house, but we normally keep the right door latched in place.

Now they are just begging for some spring wreaths for a pop of color. Planning to get on that soon.

Meanwhile, it’s time for another planking project! This little foyer wall is my next victim…

Work begins tonight, so I’m hoping to have a fully functional, fabulous foyer photo for you on Monday (say that 5x fast).

Enjoy your Easter weekend!


Kitchen Chronicles: Building a Fancy X Farmhouse Table

Happy Monday! Is it starting to feel like spring where you live yet? We’ve settled into the consistently 70’s and sunny routine here in Northern California—perfect garage DIY weather!

This weekend we took on the biggest piece of furniture I’ve ever built—the Fancy X Farmhouse table from Ana White:

I enlisted the help of my former-furniture-maker-Dad and we were able to knock out the construction in a couple afternoons (probably 5-6 hours total?). If it was just Brad and I, I’m sure it would have taken quite a bit longer.

I followed the plans with a couple modifications to better fit the kitchen. The original table is 96″ long, but I wanted mine to span the length of the island and comfortably seat eight, so it ended up being a whopping 112″ long. I also raised the height by a couple inches to accommodate the slightly taller bench seat.

For the lumber, I considered Lowe’s but was wanted to get the best possible quality of wood (no warped boards) so instead I headed to a local lumber yard and spent a little more on Douglas Fir instead of pine.

Here’s a tip I didn’t know before: the lumber you see for sale (at Lowe’s and HD too) is “green”, which means it’s not fully dried out yet and has a tendency to warp over time. Apparently this doesn’t matter for framing houses, but not ideal for furniture making. The fully dried options were literally 15x the cost of the green lumber. The local lumber yard said in the future I could place an order 2 months in advance and they’d reserve some wood for me to let it dry out first. Of course I didn’t have time for that this weekend, but they said they thought I’d be fine if I used plenty of screws.

The total cost came to around $120 (I used four 2x10x10″ boards instead of 2x10x8″ boards for the top and grabbed two 2x4x10″s instead of 2x3x8″ for the center supports, plus Douglas Fir instead of pine, making it more expensive than the original $65 plans).

I also picked up a quart of stain and box of 3″ wood deck screws, which brought my overall total to just under $140 for everything.

Once we unloaded the wood, we didn’t waste any time in getting started. We went through the instructions and made all of our cuts using a miter saw:

I won’t go into the detailed step by steps here—it’s all laid out in the plans and there are lots of comments on both Ana White, Shanty2Chic, and also the Brag Posts on Ana White’s site, some of which link back to other blog posts. I spent a couple hours reading through as much as I could to make sure I was prepared.

I will do a quick recap though. Here’s one of the first steps that you have to be really careful with—building the table legs:

Our measurements didn’t exactly line up with what they had in the plans, but the most important thing was that they were squared and level so there would be no funky gaps. Definitely a two person process. The wood was so soft that we found we didn’t need to pre drill pilot holes a lot of the time and could just countersink the screws.

Here’s the beginnings of the table legs… they look like little headless people excited because they’re about to be holding up a table.

Here they are connected with 1×4’s on top and bottom…

And finally, with two more layers of 2×4’s and little feet:

That’s the bulk of the project right there. We completed that in a few hours the first afternoon and then my dad came over Saturday morning to help with the rest.

The next steps were connecting the two legs with two parallel 2×4’s and adding the small cross beams. Brad joined in to help on this one (having three people was actually really helpful here).

I used my Kreg Jig to make pocket holes for this part—two on each board, and we also used a nail gun on the angled parts. And don’t forget the wood glue!

The Kreg Jig came with a handful of these wooden dowel plugs which were nice to fill the pocket holes:

Pretty soon, our base was completely done! We didn’t secure the top boards until the very end—we just set them on top in this photo for a visual:

Next we had to trim a bit off of the length of the top boards. To keep them together and level (they weren’t perfectly straight) we strapped them down, measured out 8″ from each side, made a chalk line, and trimmed them off with a circular saw:

Then it was time for stain. I wanted a warm weathered distressed gray, so I decided to use a mix of three diff
erent stains to achieve it:

One thing I wish I would have paid more attention to is the selection of wood. This wood has some really reddish/orange pieces, which I am not a fan of, but unfortunately I ended up with several of them. No amount of stain will hide that completely—you’re still going to see that pinkish tone seeping through.

The base wasn’t so bad—most of the boards were a yellow/white tone underneath.

It probably took me longer to stain than it did to build the table. Getting into all of those small spaces and edges is time consuming, and I would constantly stop and sand and restain to get the coloring I wanted.

The top pieces had the most red in them and were the biggest challenge. I found myself mostly using the lighter “driftwood” stain to try and combat the warmer tones.

At some point I just had to call it quits and accept that it is what it is. I was hoping once I brought the table inside it would blend with its surroundings better and wouldn’t look so red.

Back inside, I laid out my new rug (from Rugs USA—the same 8×10′ I have in my office and my most favorite rug in the world)

Then we brought the base in…

And arranged our boards on top. To attach them to the base, we simply screwed them in from above—two 3′ screws per board.

On the opposite side, the boards weren’t completely straight so we strapped them together and drove the screws in to keep them nice and secure (on an outdoor/picnic table you’d want to leave space between the boards for water to seep through, but not indoors).

Then I filled the holes with putty. I haven’t had a chance to sand them down and add stain yet but it’s on today’s to-do list (we did this yesterday afternoon).

For extra security, we added two boards in the center and attached them with smaller screws from underneath. You can’t see them unless you’re underneath the table.

Then we were finally ready to hang our pendant lights! I picked these bad boys up in January for just $40/ea from lightingdirect.com—absolutely in love:

We hung the first one, but there was a problem. The ceiling boxes weren’t exactly in the correct position.

It looks ok from this angle…

But not so much from here:

We had to wire the boxes last year, when the room was still an empty shell, so we literally just had to guesstimate exactly where the table would end up. It would have been a miracle if we landed on the correct spot, so I figured this would happen.

Fortunately, we have a solution—ceiling medallions!

I’m headed to Lowe’s today to see if I can find a couple of these. The plan is to position them over the correct location and have the box and wire hidden underneath to one side. Since our ceiling is wood we can simply screw them in anywhere. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I’m loving the way the room has been instantly transformed into a combined open kitchen/dining space…

I foresee lots of big dinner parties, holidays and family gatherings here. And this my friends, is the last glimpse you’ll see of the kitchen before the Big Reveal next Thursday (if all goes as planned!) I can’t believe we’re almost at the finish line.

After we finish the pendant lights tonight, I’ll be shifting my attention to the foyer which really needs some extra lovin’. I predict more plank walls in the near future. Check back in a few days to see what I’ve been up to—or follow my progress along the way on instagram where I’m always posting projects in real-time 🙂


We have new stair railing!

This stair railing has been the bane of my existence for weeks now. Something had to be done, but neither of us have dealt with anything like this before and it seemed like an overwhelming task so we’ve been avoiding it.

Here’s what we were dealing with… a 1970’s guard rail off the kitchen with some newels that were too short/mismatched/crooked…

Missing railing along the staircase that was never put back after the floors were installed…

And then another guard rail (on the left above) that was loose and didn’t match any of the other railing we had. It was a giant mess.

I was so sick of looking at these outdated newels that I got Brad to start chopping them off one day…

That was exciting, but then we had no idea what to do next. I looked into several DIY options, but the materials were pretty costly and I still wasn’t confident we’d figure out how to securely install the railing that went down the stairs.

Finally, I gave up and hired a carpenter who offered us a great deal. The weight was lifted off my shoulders and I had him start last weekend.

I don’t have a ton of photos of this process as we were in and out of the house most of the time he was working, but I was able to snap a few while he was finishing up the lower sets:

I told him I wanted it clean and simple. Straight lines—nothing rounded or fancy.

He trimmed off that banister, of course.

While he was working on the top railing, I got started on this unfinished trim along the sides:

I just picked up a long strip of wood at Lowe’s, cut the pieces to size, and then used putty to fill the nail holes.

Once everything was caulked, sanded and taped off, it was time for primer (I used the BIN shellac based in the red can). Primer was necessary in this case because he used redwood which would end up bleeding through over time if it wasn’t sealed in.

Let me tell you, this whole process took for-e-ver. Definitely the most labor intensive painting project I’ve ever done. And painting is only half of it—there’s still all the prep work of puttying, sanding, caulking, wiping down, taping off, and then you have to sand between each coat, then wipe it down again, then touch ups, and messy oil clean ups and there’s so many hard to reach areas… I had to take many breaks just to keep my sanity.

Here’s a coat of primer on the top railing:

I did two coats of primer to be safe. It doesn’t cover completely, but enough to block the wood grain from bleeding through.

All primed and prepped for paint!

On the stair risers I didn’t bother with primer first as it was a different type of wood, just three coats of paint worked great.

I used a foam roller as much as possible for a smoother finish, and then a short handled brush along the hard to reach places.

After four days of many long hours of work (I literally just finished touchups an hour ago)… this project is finally OVER!

FYI, it may not look like it from the photos but all of the whites in the house are the same color (Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee).

The railing is semi gloss and plank wall is a satin finish, and it’s actually Valspar that I color matched to the white trim.

Here’s how the bottom set of stairs looks from below:

I just love how nice and fresh risers look when painted white (let’s hope they stay that way!).

Don’t mind the messes in the background…

Such a huge improvement in the kitchen.

What a difference it makes, really. The old railing was not doing the room any favors.

It’s a much nicer view from the banquette seat.

And my favorite part—the before & after!


We still have a long way to go as far as new furniture and decorating the living room, (it’s looking a little too monochromatic in there for me) but I think the most challenging part is over. Huge sigh of relief.

I’m actually picking up a piece of furniture for the plank wall today, so I’m excited to get the ball rolling on that. We’re cramming in lots of projects over the next couple weeks—more kitchen progress next time!


Studio Updates: New art & DIY floating shelves

I was hoping today I’d be able to show off our new stair railing, but things are taking a bit longer than expected and we’ve got a few more days to go.

In the meantime, I focused my attention on the studio yesterday with a few fun little updates I’ve been meaning to do.

First up—the closet:

See the empty space on the right? It needed to be functional, and I had a plan.

After reconfiguring the desks back in February, I was left with the end of a table top that we had chopped off to fit:

I knew right away that I wanted to repurpose it into floating shelves. The process would pretty much be the same as our floating bar shelves—cut the pieces to size, hollow them out, build cleats out of 2×4’s and attach them to the wall, slide the shelves on top and secure them in place.

After measuring the space and deciding on a size, I cut them down using a table saw:

They ended up at around 10×11″, and one side had to be painted so the cut edges could go in the corners.

We decided to make two cleats for each shelf in an “L” formation where they’d be mounted up against the wall. First I had to push the paper filling out of the way… easy enough:

Then we cut two scrap pieces of wood so they fit snugly inside:

We attached them to the wall using two extra long screws per piece (4 total per shelf). Two ended up in studs, and we used inserts for the other two.

Then we wiggled our shelves onto the cleats and secured them using short screws from underneath.


I added a couple baskets that can slide out for super functional added storage.

I still have one or two more tweaks I want to make to this storage system, but for now I’m loving the extra organization!

Moving along… I had a sad little empty wall that was needing some love.

Old photo, but the only one I have that shows the wall!

 I decided a gallery wall was in order. I wanted it to be somewhat representative of my business (this is my work space, afterall) so I chose items that were relevant in some way—after a couple hours of gathering my pieces and some quick crafts, this is what I ended up with:

I had some other pieces I was thinking about mixing in, but in the end I decided to keep it simple and not overwhelm the space.

Here’s a closer look….

The top right is a star named after my grandfather who passed last year (a gift from a dear friend). He was always a big supporter of me and my business and it’s just a nice sentimental reminder to never quit/dream big.

The two smaller prints are from my own line—a simple motivational message and the date I opened my first Etsy shop.

To the left I framed my article from Jacksonville Magazine a couple years back and my initials are just above that.

You may remember these initials that I painted from my very first

Then I gave them a facelift when I moved into the new studio…

And here they are again with a new transformation.

First I spray painted them white.

I wanted to add a fun pattern, so I printed these woodgrain backgrounds I made onto thick paper:

Then I flipped them over, applied spray adhesive (modge podge would work just as well) and firmly pressed my letters onto the paper.

Then I brought them inside and carefully traced around the edges with an Xacto knife until they were all cut out.


I could always modge podge over the entire thing for extra protection, but these letters won’t ever be touched or handled so I left them as is.

This gallery wall is straight ahead when you first walk through the front door, so it’s nice to have something with a bit more personality to greet you instead of a blank wall.

While I was at it, I had some more frames that were collecting dust and a large empty wall that was begging for something.

Remember these city maps from our old bedroom?

Sadly, one frame didn’t make it in one piece during the move (R.I.P.) so I decided to split them up, and two of them fit just perfectly above my printer:
Eventually I may end up swapping these maps out with something else, but for now I’m happy to represent two of my favorite cities (Brooklyn and SF).
Psst… you can get your own city here!
And speaking of maps… I spotted my Paris map in the most recent issue of BHG’s Do It Yourself Magazine while at Safeway yesterday!
Pretty cool, right? It’s on newsstands now and there’s lots of great ideas in there too, so be sure to flip through it next time you’re out!
In other news—we took an impromptu road trip to Ikea on Saturday and picked up a bunch of stuff… specifically, lounge furniture for our deck. It’s all scheduled to be delivered today so you can look forward to a post on that soon.
Meanwhile, we’ll be focusing on finishing up this stair railing in time for Thursday’s post. It’s going to be a ton of sanding, caulking, priming and painting, but it’s already looking so much better. Can’t wait to share!


Kitchen Chronicles: Upholstered Bench Seating

A major milestone was just reached in the kitchen—we have seating!

I started building the cushion tops yesterday afternoon and it was completed last night—I spent probably about 4 hours on my own and another 1-2 with Brad helping, to give you an idea of the time commitment. It helped that I had been through the process before—remember my upholstered headboard?—so I knew what to expect.

To get caught up, make sure to read about how we built the window bench seat last month. Today I’m covering the second part, how to make the upholstered cushions.

Here’s my supplies list:

-Upholstery stapler & staples

You may also need flat brackets & screws to connect your plywood base if you have an extra long bench (over 8 feet) like mine.

A couple weeks ago I briefly talked about building the frame for the island bench seat while the cabinets were being painted. After they dried, we secured them to the frame and ended up with this:

To fill the two gaps between the cabinets, I trimmed down a 1″ board to the correct width, painted it white, and secured it through the sides of the cabinets (so it was level with the cabinet front rather than flush with the doors).

Then it was time to build a base for the back. The seat cushion had to be flush with the edge of the counter which was sticking out 3/4″, so I grabbed scrap pieces of MDF, cut them to size, and screwed them into the back so there would be a nice level plane all the way across.

Then we were ready to go!

I bought a 4×8′ plywood board at Lowe’s and had them cut it into 24″ strips, since that was the width of both bench seats. The window seat was 123″ long and the island was 111″ but my plywood was only 96″, so I had to cut a second piece of plywood and attach them together.

At first I used my Kreg Jig to make pocket holes…

But it didn’t work out so well. The plywood just wanted to break off and crumble. Luckily it didn’t matter too much—I just needed to keep the pieces from sliding around while I wrapped them. They would be secured to the cabinets with screws in the end so they wouldn’t go anywhere.

The first step was to get the foam cut to size. This time around I used real upholstery foam since these would be getting a lot of use (unlike my headboard which just needed to sit there and look pretty). I was able to find a ton of different sizes on Ebay, and found this 3″ thick medium density foam for just $26 a piece. They were 24″ wide which is exactly what I needed, and 72″ long so I ordered three of them.

I laid down my batting first (just to save a step) and aligned the foam pieces:

Then I positioned my plywood (already cut to size) piece directly over it, making sure everything lined up:

I had to cut the excess foam off of the length, which I did using a basic steak knife.

It wasn’t terrible but this is probably the trickiest part of the operation. It’s okay if it’s not perfectly smooth, but if you end up with bigger lumps, you’re going to see it through the batting and fabric.

Next I cut the batting, leaving enough for it to be wrapped and secured.

This is the fun part. You just wrap it around, keeping it secure but not so tight that the batting starts to separate, and staple that sucker in.

I stapled every 6″ or so—just enough to keep it smooth all the way around.

Finally, it was time for fabric!

I posted a peek of the fabric I chose on instagram last week…

Yes, it’s finally time to bring some color into this room. I knew it was going to be navy blue, but I was endlessly debating between this pinstripe fabric or a solid navy. In the end I thought it would be fun to bring a hint of pattern in, so this ticking stripe won (not a bad deal at $9/yard either!)

I rolled out the fabric, face down, and positioned my cushion on it, leaving several inches on each side to wrap it.

Then I cut around the edges and stapled it just like I did with the batting.

Actually it’s a slightly different approach here—there’s a fine line between pulling too tight and creating ripples, and not pulling tight enough so that you have excess fabric. It’s a little tricky.

But I was happy with the results and repeated the process for the other two.

For those I ended up using brackets instead of pocket holes to adjoin the two boards:

They still moved a bit, but it was a much quicker/easier solution.

I was super nervous about my measurements being off, especially after adding batting and fabric, but luckily everything lined up flush with the edges of the cabinets.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why the seat cushion is smaller here—I realized after ordering the foam that the bench was going to be too high for the table. Standard seat height is around 18″ and that was the height of the cabinet already (after elevating it with the toe kick). Whoops. So I ordered 1″ foam instead and it worked out just fine.

To make sure the cushions didn’t move, I stood on them while Brad drilled a few screws into the top of the cabinets from underneath:

For the back cushion, we had to go through the island with extra long screws to grab the plywood and pull it tight:

…aaaand it worked!

We repeated the process for the window bench seat.

Finally, I added the trim pieces on either side of the island to hide the gaps/edges where they met up. Just this morning they were caulked, sanded & painted to finish the job.

I grabbed a few pillows to get something on there—these will be changed up a bit before the big final reveal in a few weeks, but here’s how things look in here now…

Now imagine a big farmhouse table right in front of this…

That’s next on our to-do list.

Kitties love the new seating. They’re all over it.

This toile pillow (from Ikea) is probably my favorite thing in the whole entire house right now. It was actually my inspiration for bringing navy into the kitchen.

So much seating, it’s crazy. And this doesn’t even include the 4 chairs that will be on the other side of the table.

Can’t wait to test it all out for our housewarming party! Counting down the weeks (er, days) now…

Next week I should have an update on how our staircase/railing is coming along. If you can’t wait until then, make sure to follow me on instagram because I’m always posting little updates along the way!


New Living Room paint & a Fireplace Makeover

Is it Monday already? I’m dragging this morning after a little too much of everything on a family trip to Sonoma Valley this weekend…

via Instagram

It’s only a three hour drive but it was my first time in wine country—and it was beautiful. On the way home we stopped at a Barnes and Noble where I grabbed a copy of the latest issue of Cottages & Bungalows…

Anyone remember this room?

I was honored to receive a four page spread about the sunroom in our Florida house! (Special thanks to my girl Shayna @ The Wood Grain Cottage for showing me a sneak peek of the article before I could get my hands on a copy!)

Now that the weekend is over, it’s back to reality—work and house projects. In between kitchen projects last week, we made time to spruce up the living room with a fresh paint job.

Here’s how it looked in the very beginning:

And then after moving in, still very beige:

I decided to keep things open and airy so I used the same barely there gray I chose for the top half of the studio walls—Valspar’s Montpelier Madison White.

We were going to tackle it ourselves, but this room has some seriously high ceilings—some of them directly over a staircase, and there was just no possible way we could do it. We found a local reputable painter (my parents use him all the time) and he made us an offer we couldn’t refuse so we went for it.

And now it’s like a whole new room.

Don’t mind the random tv placement—we need to figure out how to move the cable box to the fireplace, so it’s hanging out there for now.

The stair risers will be painted this week!

The paint was a huge improvement, but there was still a big eyesore…

This dingy red fireplace had to go.

My ultimate vision is stacked stone all the way up to the ceiling (maybe the same stone we used for our bar wall?) But this requires quite a bit of time/effort/money, none of which we’re willing or able to dedicate right now.

So we went with the easy temporary fix—paint.

First I had to clean it up a bit and address some of the issues… like this:

And this:

It wasn’t going to be perfect, but there were some obvious cracked/missing bricks that I thought could benefit from patching. I used “Presto Patch” which is a powder you mix with water and it forms a cement-like putty that dries and hardens rapidly.

It worked pretty well in areas like this:

The larger areas usually needed a few coats, so it took a little while to do the job. And it was a messy job.

I didn’t go over every spot as it would have taken all day—I don’t mind a little roughness. It’s just temporary, remember.

I also had to prepare the tile surface by scraping and scrubbing off this sticky tape all the way around it…

After a few hours of prep, it was time to paint!

To keep the grays consistent, I pulled another color from the studio (we used it on our plank walls)—Valspar’s Ocean Storm.

I didn’t know what to expect as this was our first time painting brick, but it was not fun.

It took a lot longer than expected. The flat surfaces of the bricks weren’t all that bad—just a couple passes with a roller brush. The grout was an entirely different story. It was difficult to get into every single nook and cranny.

We were up for a good part of the night just trying to get it covered. There are still a lot of small touch ups we need to make, but we’re happy to call this project Done (for now).

Much better, right?

For a $40 gallon of paint, you can’t beat it.

I haven’t decided when I’ll go ahead and pull the trigger on the stacked stone—we’re going to live with it like this for a little while and see how the other projects pan out. I can’t wait to build a nice chunky mantel for it!

For now, I’m just enjoying the fact that the red is gone and the living room feels a lot calmer.

I think this week we’ll be focusing on the stair railing—it’s an issue we’ve been putting off for a while now and it’s a safety hazard that needs to be addressed. Check back later to see how things are coming along!


Kitchen Chronicles: DIY floating rustic shelves

These last few days have flown by! With our housewarming party approaching in May, I’ve been tackling a handful of other projects. The kitchen is still our priority though, and our newest addition is one of my favorites…

Here’s how it all began.

This open wall between the two windows needed something, and I thought would make the perfect space for a couple smaller shelves:

Originally I bought two of these from Ikea because the length could be customized to fit…

But after we decided on a white backsplash, it was just too much white. I needed a more natural element, and wood was the answer.

I spotted a couple tutorials on Pinterest that got my attention, like Ana White’s floating shelves at YHL:

And these from Shanty 2 Chic:

Ultimately, I decided Shanty’s version was simpler (+ required less wood) so I used that as my inspiration. They were a bit too thick for what I wanted, so I substituted the top & side pieces of wood for 1/4″ plywood instead of 1″ boards.

Because I would be staining the wood instead of painting, I splurged on the cabinet grade plywood ($30 for a 4×8′ sheet) rather than the $15 cheap stuff.

I had Lowe’s cut it into three 32″ strips so I could transport it in my car…

via Instagram

I also bought a couple whitewood 1x2x8″pieces for the shelf supports, and a pint of wood stain.

After deciding I wanted my shelves to be 30″ wide and 9″ deep, I cut the 1×2’s to the appropriate size—30″ for the back piece and 8″ strips for the depth. I used four 8″ pieces for extra support since I was placing thin plywood on top instead of a thicker, more solid piece of wood.

Here’s what all of the cuts look like, and how they would fit together on the right.

I spaced them out evenly, made marks then drilled pilot holes into both pieces so the wood wouldn’t split…

Then I dabbed some wood glue onto the ends and secured them with 3″ wood screws. These might have been stronger using pocket screws from my Kreg Jig, but I thought they were strong enough for my purposes (plus they’d be hidden).

Here’s one finished support piece:

Next it was time to cut my plywood pieces. The top and bottoms would be identical, as would the sides, and then there’d be one front piece which would be slightly wider to hide the right and left edges of plywood. Here’s how it went down:

The edges splintered a bit when I ripped them down with the table saw, so I went with it and decided to make these “rustic.”

Time to get these babies up!

We were never going to find the studs, so we needed anchors that were long enough to go through both tile and drywall. I found these at Lowe’s ($3 for 2)…

They were way overkill, but were the only ones I found that were long enough and they didn’t break the bank so I picked up two packages (two for each shelf). I also had to drop $11 on a special 1/2″ carbide bit made for cutting through tile.

It put up real fight. It took Brad several minutes to get through each one. These bits get real hot and smoky so I had to constantly spray water as he was drilling to cool it down.

After going through two batteries for our drill they were finally in. Then we slipped the anchors in and were good to go (actually, two of them broke off inside of the wall so I had to run back to Lowe’s for more)…

Once that was done, we drilled holes into our support shelves and then secured it with the bolts that came with the anchors.

These shelves aren’t coming out of the wall. The wood would split in half before those bolts came out.

Finally, it was time to build our shelves!

I attached the top & bottom pieces with 1″ brad nails…

Now, I’m no Ana White—wood work is not my forte. My measurements did not end up perfectly and I was a little bummed. But then I remembered that in the world of rustic/farmhouse style, imperfections = character. And I remembered why I chose this style (or did it choose me because so many of my creations have been imperfect and I had no choice but to embrace it?) Either way… rustic for life.

Even still, I used wood filler to help conceal the most obvious seams and gaps.

But I also just went for it and banged it up a few times with sharp tools.

I wanted the color to be a neutral mix of gray-brown to tie into our wood floors, so I grabbed all three stains I had—Rustoleum in Driftwood, and Minwax in Dark Walnut and Ebony.

I played around with the mixture until I found a combination I liked…

Staining is always my favorite part. I could do it all day.

Once it was colored to my liking, I sanded down the edges to give it that extra distressed touch.

And finally, I sealed it with a few coats of Polycrylic I had leftover…

And now I have these beauties:

Sometimes I’ll walk in the kitchen and just stare. I heart them.

The second the polycrylic dried, I ran to storage and pulled out some of my favorite things to display. I’ve got to save something for the official “After” photos, but here’s a sneak peak I shared on instagram because I just couldn’t wait…

Tomorrow morning we’re road tripping to Sonoma for a weekend of wine tasting, but there’s some major changes happening in the living room. I’ll be back Monday to share!


Kitchen Chronicles: Stacked stone bar wall & DIY floating shelves

How about a brand new bar wall to start your week?

As a reminder, here’s what it looked like Friday:

Let me start by saying this project was not a happy one. The tile install itself wasn’t so bad—there were just a number of small setbacks and frustrations that made this drag on for over ten hours and wear our patience thin. Renovation has its ups and downs… this was definitely a low point.

Just need to keep it real once and a while and let you guys know that this DIY stuff is not all sunshine and rainbows 🙂

On that note, let’s start at the beginning!

I mentioned a bit in my subway tile post about wanting to use stone on the backsplash. That didn’t happen, but I knew I could at least incorporate it into the bar wall. I’ve always obsessed over stacked stone and now was my chance to use it.

I found these quartz ledgestones at Lowe’s for $4/ea:

via Instagram

We bought 80 pieces but ended up using only 62 of them (+ we had a 10% off coupon), for a total of around $240.

I also wanted to make the wall functional with shelving. On our Ikea trip, I bought a couple of these…

But the brackets ended up creating a problem. We couldn’t install the shelves on top of the stone because it was an uneven surface, and we couldn’t tile right over the brackets without notching them because they had a slight curve at the back. And you can’t really notch quartz stone anyway because they don’t break off easily like porcelain or ceramic tile.

So I had to come up with a plan B quick…. and that’s when I spotted these unused desks from the old studio…

They certainly weren’t the right depth, but the length was perfect, and they were lightweight. I could make them floating shelves!

First I patched and sanded the small holes where you attach the legs:

Then we ripped them down to 11″ on the table saw. They have this paper/cardboard filler inside of them that can be easily pushed down…

It makes the perfect pocket to insert a cleat.

For the cleats, we ripped down some spare 2×4’s to 1.75″ by 1″ to fit snugly inside the shelf opening. Here’s the cleat going into the shelf on the left:

Now that we had that part figured out, it was time to start tiling!

Originally we thought we would need a cement board backer, but I discovered that the manufacturer says it’s only necessary for walls 10′ tall or more. Whew! Drywall it is.

We used the same Type 1 mastic we had used for the backsplash tile (the guy at Lowe’s said it would be fine). We just made sure to use a lot more to get into all of the grooves and hold it (these tiles are heavy!) and we buttered the backs of each piece.

The pieces fit together quite nicely…

Here’s something else we had to deal with—this outlet. I really didn’t want it breaking up a wall of tile. In hindsight we should have rewired it to the side of the cabinet before we installed the bar but it was too late for that.

I have to give credit to my dad—he came up with pretty genius solution: hide it behind a removable piece of stone, James Bond style.

To do this, we first had to position a piece over it and trace it so we wouldn’t get mastic on that area.

Then we tiled around it as normal.

The secret stone was done last so we’ll come back to it—back to the rest of the wall.

We used the same wet tile saw from our backsplash and it worked great. It was a little trickier to maneuver since there wasn’t a flat surface to hold the tile down, so it was difficult to get straight cuts sometimes.

The two pieces on the left were notched from another tile to fit. The great thing about this stuff is that there are uneven gaps everywhere, so if you mess up a little, it’s no big deal!

Some of the gaps are bigger than others, naturally, and you end up with parts like this…

It all blends together when you step back, but I could always go back in and add some colored caulk.

After our second row was complete, it was time to start planning out our first shelf.

We marked the studs and drilled our first cleat into them using 4″ decking screws (making sure it was 100% level—this part is essential!)

Then we slipped the shelf over it and secured it from the top using screws every 8″ or so.

For those of you who want to try this at home, it’s worth nothing that this method won’t support a ton of weight. We’re only using this for lightweight items so it will suit our needs, but I wouldn’t use it as a bookshelf or anything.

After the shelf was up, we tiled around the bottom…

And up to the edge so we would have a level surface for the next row.

And the tiling continued…

3 rows later and it was time to install our second cleat. The first board we had was bowed a little too much (it was actually a 2×4″ we saved from our kitchen demo, so it was almost 50 years old and a little worn down), so we had to rip the shelf out and start over.

The second time around worked out though.

And it was about this time late on Saturday night that I started hating life and called it quits.

I should also take this moment to thank my husband for putting up with all of these projects I throw at him, especially lately. Renovation is not his passion or hobby, it’s mine, and he’d much rather be doing something else every weekend (and most nights). But he always agrees to help me and goes along with whatever new plan I throw at him (I think after three houses he’s finally trusting my vision!) So Brad, thank you, seriously, for everything <3

The next morning we came back (somewhat) refreshed, ready to finish the job. First we had to deal with a teeny angled slivered cut to fit under the second shelf…

Stone likes to do its own thing and will just break off sometimes if it wants. We had fun trying to piece this one back together. There were several slivery cuts on the top half. Each time something cracked or chipped off or was cut wrong it was another $4 down the drain (stressful!)

But we forged on and finally made it to the top…


Now to deal with this outlet…

Both the receptacle and plate cover had to be recessed so the stone would sit flush. Brad cut the drywall out around the edge to do this.

But that left us with a not very clean look, so we made a template using a jigsaw and a scrap piece of wood…

I painted it white and used mastic to adhere it to the wall, then cut my ledgestone into thirds, secured the two outside pieces around the outlet and caulked them in.

The center piece kept wanting to fall out, so we hot glued some velcro to the stone and the wood to keep it in place.

You can see it if you look closely, but that’s okay. Much better than a white square box!

I’m not sure if I’m going to do anything to hide the edges. They really don’t bother me at this point, but depending on what I do with the wall on the opposite side (the foyer) I may add a trim piece to cover it. Thoughts?

I love the warmth it brings to the room and that it breaks up all the gray. Once I get the jute rug in there, it should really tie it all together.

These shelves were begging to be accessorized, so of course as soon as I set down the camera I stocked it all up.

But you’ll have to wait until the final reveal to see what I did!

Can you believe Brad wanted to keep this originally?

This week I’ll attempt to build more floating shelves for the backsplash wall. Check back in a few days to see how that turns out…


Kitchen Chronicles: A DIY Subway Tile Backsplash, Part 2

On Monday I left off with a recap of how we installed our subway tile

A few hours after that post, we started on the grout. Here’s what we used:

I went with an unsanded grout to be safe (Mapei’s Warm Gray), because some of the seams were less than a 1/8″ (you’d normally use sanded grout on 1/8″ or larger seams, unless the tile is easily scratched like glass). I’m sure I would have been fine either way though.

I mixed the grout by eye, making sure it was peanut butter consistency…

It’s said to have a “working time” of around 25-30 minutes, so I mixed it in small batches. Then we just plopped it on and spreaded it into the seams, moving at different angles to make sure it was in there good.

Sidenote: grout floats with handles like these suck. Horrible design. Get the kind with the handles on the center.

It actually would have been somewhat enjoyable if my arm didn’t start to ache after a while. I like activities that involve small details.

Here’s the big wall, you can see the difference between the ungrouted tiles (top) and the grouted tiles below.

Brad followed behind me with a damp sponge (after letting the grout set for about 10 minutes) to scrub any excess off.

Here’s the same wall after the grout has been wiped down at the bottom:

We made sure not to grout where the tiles met the counter, in the corner, window sills, etc because I’ll be using color matched caulk for that.

The whole process took more than a couple hours (for ~65 sq ft for reference). It requires more time than you would think!

But again, worth it when you see the results of your hard work.

The one issue we had that I didn’t read about anyone else having was lots of “gunk” left behind after grouting…

I’m pretty sure it’s mastic residue that wasn’t wiped up, and the grout made it more visible. We tried to wipe it off as best as we could, but man… it’s hard to get all of it when your hands and everything around you is covered in it!

So I spent another couple hours just scrubbing with a damp brillo pad. Sometimes I had to scrape it off with a putty knife.

My forearm hurts just thinking about it.

Anyway, we’re now ready to seal the grout. As of today it has been 72 hours (the recommended waiting time) so we can get started tonight. I had read about people mixing a sealer additive in their grout (in place of water) to save the extra step of sealing afterwards, but I passed when I saw that it was $40 for a container… and now I’m totally regretting that decision. I’m ready to just be done with this tile already!

Here’s a shot of the quarter round installation:

All along the ceiling, too…

I used some leftover cabinet trim for the sides of the cabinets:

Yesterday I got everything caulked and painted, and this is where we’re at now:

Wowza, that’s
a lot of white.

After some caulk & sealing, this project will finally be over!

Meanwhile, we have a couple other things going down.

Our hinges finally arrived from Ikea, and now our bench seat has all its doors!

Yes, that’s foam you see sitting on top. A cushion DIY post will be in the near future.

I have to say, the gaps between the doors didn’t bother me quite as much after they were all on. But I still wanted to test it out. I cut a scrap piece of wood and taped it up there to get a rough visual:

What do you think? I think I like it slightly better than the empty gap, so I’m going to pick up some wood at Lowe’s tonight to fill them in (and probably a test pot of paint color matched to the doors).

In other bench news, we started on the back of the island seating!

We’re building this one the exact same way—except with 3 36″ cabinets instead of 4 30″ cabinets.

First I had to build the base.

I measured and cut my 2×4’s and laid them out…

Then screwed the pieces together…

Then we secured it to the back of the island.

Now I just need to finish painting the cabinets and set them on top. I primed them yesterday, but ran out of foam rollers so I couldn’t paint them.

We plan on getting these installed this weekend, along with tiling our bar wall (!) so I should have some pretty fun stuff coming up next week.

I also have a very important decision to make. I ordered swatches from justblinds.com for the kitchen, dining room and studio windows. I’d like them all to be the same since the rooms are open to each other.

I’ve narrowed it down to these 3…

I posed the question to instagram this morning and Tibet Oak seems to be the favorite so far.

At first I was set on Antigua Natural, after seeing similar styles in kitchens…


But I’m really drawn to the Tibet Oak. I think it would look lovely in the living room and contrast with the dark wood across from it in the kitchen.

But then I wonder if it’s too dark and heavy for the kitchen, with the dark beams and bar counter there already, and I wonder if something like Singapore Oak would work better? The medium brown shades will tie in with the jute rug that will be in there soon.

I have no idea! I’m trying to order these today so I’m counting on you guys to help me figure this out. WWYD?

Update: I just snapped this photo for a better visualization. After reading some comments in favor of the Singapore Oak, I’m leaning that way. It’s a very close match to the jute rug I’ll be using (which will take up most of the dining area)