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!



Kitchen Chronicles: The Reveal

Oh happy day… the kitchen reveal is finally here! I can’t believe it! Five long months of countless hours, days & nights; blood, sweat and tears have finally paid off.

And it truly is our dream kitchen.

But you can’t fully grasp and appreciate how far it has come unless you’ve seen how it looked five months ago. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

When you first walked into the front door and turn to your right, you stepped into a dining area with a funky 70’s bar.

Here’s another view:

The dining area is open to the living room, divided by railing:

Straight ahead is the kitchen door which goes out on the side deck. Just to the right of that was the very small closed off kitchen. Also from the 70’s.

Here’s the view from the sink, opposite of where the photo above was taken:

Just so it wasn’t completely closed off, they cut a hole in the wall so you could see your dinner guests while you cooked. How thoughtful.

I knew the second I walked in that the wall needed to be taken down, and the entire room gutted and reconfigured.

We didn’t waste any time.

We worked with a kitchen designer at Lowe’s who helped us find the perfect setup.

I also supplemented the storage by making a pantry, bench seating, and a bar using Ikea cabinets and wardrobes.

Every surface was ripped out, rewired, new drywall, new floors, new electrical and plumbing, you name it.

We trimmed the windows, planked the ceilings, built beams, planked the walls, added recessed lights and speakers…

Tiled the backsplash wall, tiled the bar wall with stacked stone, built some floating shelves…

Built the bar and bench seats, built our dining table, replaced the outdated stair railing…

And so much more. There were lots of struggles and setbacks along the way, but we survived and now we’re able to enjoy this space with friends and family for years to come. I appreciate all of your encouragement and thoughts along the way—thank you for following me on this journey!

Without further ado… the after photos:

Thanks to my parents for letting me raid their property for all the pretty pink flowers this afternoon. Aren’t they gorgeous?

I made this no-sew table runner last week with a couple yards of fabric from Joann’s, some ruffle trim and hem tape.

The flower box was super simple—a 1×4 cut into pieces, secured together with wood glue and my nail gun, then painted/sanded/stained.

The chalkboard on the back wall was a last minute addition, and it’s one of my favorite things in the room.

More to come about it in a future post… (hint: a giveaway is involved).

I had fun drawing on it last night…

I’ve also decided to become a botanist.

Okay, not really. But I did start an herb garden, and after managing to kill all of our plants in FL, I’m determined to keep these babies alive. And cook with them.

Biscuit and Susie also have a little spot for them here.

I made prints of their silhouettes (you can get them for your furbabies at my shop), framed them in cheap Ikea 5×7 frames and stapled some scrap fabric to the back for a little extra specialness.

I also built them this food/water station yesterday out of scrap wood.

They seriously love it. They eat like 5x/day now.

Still loving my Ikea wardrobe/pantry cabinets. So much storage.

Still also loving these appliances in the island. No cramped cooking here.

I kept the color palette to whites, blacks, grays neutral brown/beige/ivory tones, and navy blue.

This way I can easily switch it up throughout the seasons.

It’s also very relaxing.

Good thing there’s lots of seating to curl up onto.

And thank you guys for weighing in on the bamboo blinds situation. I changed my initial choice after reading through the comments and went with the medium tan/brown.

I think it was the right choice!

Our bar is stocked and ready to entertain.

Which is a good thing, because we have guests coming from Florida on Friday, and a big housewarming party next Saturday.

I’m excited to test it all out!

Here’s a shot with all the lights on. There are 13 recessed lights, one pendant over the sink, and two pendants over the dining table.

I’m mildly obsessed with these pendant lights.

And that’s the story of our kitchen.

Just for fun… here’s some kitty outtakes:

We tried to get them to sit next to each other and pose. It didn’t last long.

She chooses the most random places to plop down and rest.

Update: A few of you have requested wider angle shots so you can get a true before/after comparison (it’s a little confusing since we converted two rooms into one, I know!)

I can’t seem to find my wide angle lens that I used in the before’s (I haven’t used it since those photos, and now I’m freaking out a little because it’s apparently missing…) so I did the best I could with my 24mm lens. Also, the wide angle lens makes the room look a lot larger than it is, so the new photos are a much better representation of size and scale.

To get oriented, here’s a before + after shot right at the entrance. The back of the foyer is the bar wall (the wall was there already, it’s just barely cut off in the before photo—we did rip the bar out though):

Same position, rotating just to the left (the sunken living room is on the opposite side of the railing)…

Take a couple steps forward to the dining room (now it’s one big open room):

Keep going forward and the kitchen was on the right:

Now walk to the sink, turn around and here’s the area you were just standing in (it’s now a built in pantry):

There was a wall here before… not anymore!

Looking back at the dining room from the kitchen area again:

And here’s a shot from the dining area window, looking back out towards the living room:

Hopefully that helps to clear up any confusion!

If you missed any of the Kitchen Chronicles, here’s how it all went down…

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    

Don’t worry, I have a full source list AND price breakdown coming up. I haven’t even started to add it all up yet so this should be… interesting.

I’m happy to answer any questions you may have in the meantime. We’ve learned so much along the way and I feel a lot more confident going into future projects (we have 3 bathrooms on our to-do list… bring it on!)

We’re currently on our way to San Francisco to pick up our friends from the airport and will be celebrating our birthdays this weekend, but I’ll stop in Monday with the source list/budget breakdown.

Have a wonderful Spring weekend 😉


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!