Chaos at the Cottage Flip: Episode 10

I don’t know how else to describe last weekend. It was a whirlwind of setbacks and progress and chaos and I’m so glad it’s over. And much like the worst storm in 10 years that just hit our area, I think the darkest days of this journey have passed. At least we can hope.

But there is a silver lining in this… keep watching/reading til the end:

I try to maintain a positive and uplifting narrative but it’s also important for me to be open and honest, which means sharing the not so fun parts of this experience. And what good is a story without both the highs and lows? The struggles make it so much more rewarding in the end. So thank you, stressful weekend, for making this journey that much richer.

Let’s start from the top… in no particular order, as there is no structure to the madness right now.

It has been an unseasonably rainy/snowy winter, which is great for the drought in California but horrible for productivity. Last Friday the clouds parted for a brief moment, so I had to schedule moving all of the furniture into the flip. I had been planning this for a while, and it was designed to be perfectly timed as the flooring was supposed to have been done the week before, so all of the bedrooms would be clean and ready to start setting up the furniture. The furniture had to be moved in ASAP so that I could arrange it, figure out what I still need to order, and have it arrive by the photoshoot (scheduled in less than four weeks).

Well, we show up and the house is exactly in the same condition as we left it on Christmas. Piles of sawdust and wood and trash everywhere, baseboards not even installed—there wasn’t a single room that was finished or even clean enough to move furniture into.


Apparently the last box of wood was damaged so they were waiting on replacements, and when they tried to drive to the house there was a snow storm and their van couldn’t make it. There was no dry place to store the furniture outside, so we had to pile it on the rubble in the living room:


And just like that, the entire schedule went down the drain. It was a sad day.


At this point I can’t afford to waste time, so my parents and I got to work, doing whatever we could manage to do. My dad put the final pieces of range hood trim in place:


If you watched Episode 9, you may remember that we weren’t quite finished with our DIY vent hood. I’m happy to report that it’s finally done… and looking quite awesome, if I do say so myself. Here’s how we finished it off underneath:


After the final piece was nailed in, My electrician did a sconce test fit to make sure the spacing was all good:


There’s not much room to work with but I’m happy with the arrangement. I think the sconces will look great with my new copper cabinet pulls & knobs:


The reclaimed wood we used for the hood wasn’t quite as uniform as I’d like, so I found this Minwax stain at Lowe’s and thought the color was a good match:


I lightly sanded the boards and dabbed a bit of the stain on:




For those who were asking, I also plan to stain the counters in the same shade and use the water based poly to seal them (along with the hood boards). I came to this decision after reading through numerous bloggers posts and experiences, and weighing the pros and cons of poly vs Waterlox vs Mineral Oil. The only downside to the poly is that it isn’t food grade, but not having orange counters was a better trade off in my book 🙂 I’ve stained butcher block with poly in my previous laundry room with amazing results so I feel confident about going that route again.

UPDATE: I just spoke directly to the butcher block counter manufacturer about this and he’s looking into options for food safe coatings that can be applied to the stain without changing the color. I’ll let you know what happens!

Side note—the appliances were delivered but the delivery guy couldn’t get his lift up the snowy hill and my contractor has to rent a dolly to bring them in, so the fridge and stove are sitting under a tarp up the street. Let’s hope they survive.


While we were working in the kitchen, my mom grabbed a paintbrush and started working on the exterior doors:


Leaning towards painting that door trim white—thoughts?

Meanwhile, my electrician swapped installed the new hallway light fixture:


And a new laundry room chandelier—the lighting in here is SO gorgeous in person. I wish my phone could capture it… ignore the washer/dryer, they’re back in place by now.


And perhaps my favorite… the upstairs bathroom swing arm wall sconce. Yum.


I love this fixture so much I ordered four more for the bedrooms 🙂


A beautiful round gold mirror will be hung there soon!

Speaking of bathrooms, I was pleasantly surprised to find the beginnings of my tile work in the downstairs bathroom:


So pleased with my tile choice. It looks greenish online but it’s really a neutral gray in person, for anyone considering it. It has my seal of approval.

Back upstairs, my dad helped me finish off the trim for the shiplap wall I started a month ago:


I used my easy DIY shiplap technique, and we finished the top with a 1×2″, a 1×2″ shelf ledge, and quarter round strips vertically in the corners.


In the two main bedrooms, we reattached the small closet doors we had removed weeks ago to paint. A quick and simple task, right? Of course not. There were missing screws, the doors were suddenly too big or crooked and didn’t fit back into place properly… or maybe we just didn’t notice it before. Either way, a 10 minute project turned into 3+ hours after having to cut them down and sand them and make another trip to Lowe’s for missing screws and get magnets to hold them in place and repainting…


During this process I asked you guys on instagram and snapchat what you thought about the hinges. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep them black, even after going through all the work to remove the doors…


Every single one of you (except one) said to keep them black. So that’s what I’m leaning towards.

Speaking of door hardware, we went through a similar situation in the kitchen downstairs…


For whatever reason, the doors didn’t want to go back on straight so we had to make some modifications. There were also missing screws, and one missing hinge which I can’t find a replacement for so that’s one more tiny but crucial detail to go on my ever growing to-do list.

But at least I got to install these fun (& inexpensive!) new handles:


And that sums up Friday afternoon & Saturday. On a stormy Sunday morning, my mom and I trekked up to the cabin ready for a full day of painting the bedrooms. I walked inside, flipped on the light switch, and nothing. Pitch black. The storm had left us without power but the clock was still ticking, so my Plan B was to drag a couple dressers out onto the porch where there was just enough light to see, and attempt to get some furniture painted.


The dresser above came from this room:


The trim work behind it will be painted a light gray, and I was wanting a dark gray for the dresser but didn’t have anything close, so I improvised. Maison Blanche’s Wrought Iron mixed with a bit of Coquille.


Let’s see if this works…


I painted it on as fast as I could before the winds started to pick up…


Meanwhile, my mom was next to me painting this dresser:


Which will go back in this room:


And for this one, I chose Maison Blanche’s Printemps. The most beautiful shade of pastel green you ever did see.



But after the first coat went on, it started pouring. Then the wind came. Then the dressers were soaking wet and we tried to bring them inside but dropped one in the dirt and the paint came off and we gave up. Now they’re sitting outside up against the house because there’s not enough room inside and we’ll have to try again another day.

The bedrooms really needed to be painted, but the light from my phone wasn’t cutting it. Then I found a flashlight and we rejoiced like it was Christmas morning.


We carefully taped and caulked and coated the trim, painting in the dark for hours while branches fell on the roof and loud noises that at one point we swore was someone banging on the window made us consider grabbing our bags and fleeing to the safety of home. But these rooms aren’t going to paint themselves, especially now that we’re a week behind schedule thanks to the unfinished floors.

Just as we were about to call it quits, the power was restored and we stuck it out long enough to paint 70% of the second bedroom (we were supposed to finish four rooms, ha):


I left the middle section wood in case I thought I’d like it better that way, but nope. It got painted.

After a day of defeat, it was a solemn car ride back to my parents house as I came to terms with having to do this all over again the next day rather than return home to the city as I normally do on Mondays. My sweet parents felt so bad for me that they both agreed to take the day off work to come help me. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

We showed up bright and early Monday morning to the welcoming sight of the flooring installers, who weren’t even expected to show up. They assured me the floors would be done in a couple days or so which was the best news I’d heard all week.

While they were scurrying around the house installing baseboards, my general contractor was there with his crew installing countertops and shelves, digging trenches and building benches while my tile guys were wasting no time in the downstairs bathroom and going over kitchen plans.


I was running around trying to film & instagram & snapchat it all while answering contractor questions and helping my parents paint upstairs.

This paint, Valspar’s Woodlawn Colonial Gray, is one of the best decisions I’ve made for this house:


It just opens up these rooms and looks so heavenly with the new floors.


With the three of us working all morning, we finished almost three rooms…


How bout that shiplap?


I wanted to keep some of the original wood so I left this nook unpainted. Still undecided.


Unfortunately, we ran out of paint on the third bedroom so our day ended there…


But seeing those rooms transformed by paint really turned things around for me and brought my spirits back up. Next Friday I’ll be back to finish it off before finally moving the furniture in.

Let’s revisit the kitchen for a sec with some real time updates! As I type this, my contractor has been sending me updates and here’s the latest. First, newly installed countertops over on the living room cabinets by the fireplace. I used reclaimed wood again—may end up staining them, will have to see how it looks in person:


Second, we have our window seat bench!


The top was made using the same butcher block from Lowe’s. It’ll all be stained & sealed with Minwax Weathered Oak and polycrylic. And there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll end up painting the window trim light gray to break up all the wood.

And last but not least… floating shelves! My hardware arrived from Silicate Studio a few weeks ago and I’ve been dying to put it to use:


My contractor was awesome enough to send a quick video of the final install, for anyone wanting to see it in action:

And here they are!


Can’t wait to decorate those babies.

Oh yeah, here’s a fun teaser… I decided to do something a little different with the kitchen backsplash. My tile guy and I worked on a plan and I am super excited to watch it come to life…


You’ll just have to wait and see!

In other news, two major ongoing issues that have been adding stress to this project are the exterior paint and new roof. Because of the nonstop rain/snow/freezing temperatures, there hasn’t been a window of opportunity in months to paint or replace the roof. After talking to several roofers, at this point and with the projected forecast, it’s just not going to happen. The roof is structurally fine, it’s just nearing it’s lifespan and has fallen behind on maintenance, so all we can do is clean it up and hope for the best.

In order to paint the exterior, the weather must be both dry and above 32* for several days for the paint to properly cure. That is not a possible scenario here in winter, so they’ve been looking into renting fumigation tents to cover the entire house and industrial heaters to keep it from freezing. We’re talking every possible creative solution here. They searched the entire state and were unable to gain access to one, so Plan B is to attach plastic tarps from the roof to the ground as a protective barrier. Not exactly a simple mission for this house.


We’ve been constantly checking the weather to watch for any possible openings, and it looks like there may actually be one this weekend—it will be freezing but at least no rain. Send all your positive vibes my way that the forecast doesn’t change—we really need a break here!

Whew…. that was a long winded post. Who wants to get into house flipping? Don’t all raise your hand at once now.

Honestly though, I am eternally grateful to even have the opportunity to be doing this. It certainly adds a lot of pressure when you’re on a deadline for a magazine shoot that will shape your future opportunities and you’re documenting every minute of it for the world to see and judge and your life savings is on the line and it could all go down the drain with a bad snow storm that you have no control over. But I wouldn’t want any other career 🙂

Enough blogging, I’ve got another weekend at the flip to prepare for. If you still want more after this novel of a post, you can catch the daily updates on instagram, snapchat and facebook and watch the madness unfold in real time. Your comments & feedback are appreciated more than you know!

Disclosure: Some of the products listed were provided via sponsorship—all of which I selected and fully approve of.


A Christmas Vlog & 2016 in Review

“Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
-Dr. Seuss

As I was wrapping up my Christmas vlog a few days ago, I felt the urge to acknowledge this past amazing year by digging through the archives of 29 vlogs and reliving some of my favorite moments.


First, I wanted to share our Christmas story. It was a memorable one this year, starting with a trip to NYC and a chance to see the city in full holiday spirit, then back home to celebrate a white Christmas in the mountains with my family, followed by a gathering with Lucas’ family in the city. I know these days of having everyone around for the holidays will be fewer and farther between as we begin to move away and start families of our own, so this was a rare and special opportunity. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it:

As for 2016—I knew from the start that it would be full of change and it didn’t disappoint. From starting a vlog, to jumping back into DIY and reigniting that spark, to selling my home and moving to San Francisco, spending time in Cuba, Mexico, Vancouver, Seattle, Tahoe, Boston, New York and California, deciding on my future in real estate and buying my first flip, and finding a partner to who makes every day even more amazing—I’ll never forget this first year of falling in love. Nothing can replace it.

On New Year’s last year I wrote a letter to 2015, with no idea where I’d end up in 12 months. Even though I didn’t continue my solo travels and worried I’d regret it, I know in my heart that I made the right choice.


2017 is shaping up to be an even bigger year, with a few major life changes in the works. I can’t wait to share them with you all soon. But first, I have a house flip to finish. Just four more weeks, you guys… it’s going to be a whirlwind. I’ll be back next week with an update, and you can always follow me on instagram or snapchat to watch live as it all goes down.

May 2017 be your best year yet!


DIY Vent Hood + new floors, counters and sink: Cottage House Flip Episode 9

Whew, what a week it’s been! I hope you all got to enjoy a nice, long relaxing break (some of you still are, cheers!). We were blessed with a white Christmas at the flip:


I had hoped to accomplish an ambitious list of projects over the weekend, but realized pretty quickly that it was too much to try to squeeze in around the holidays when there’s family in town. You can watch it all go down in this week’s Cottage House Flip Episode 9:

The most important task was to install the vent for the stove and build a hood cover for it. I’d also hoped to mount two floating shelves and stain & seal the counters. Spoiler alert: We only completed 90% of task #1.

But before we talk DIY, let’s check out all of the other updates. Since my last post, we have one really big exciting change: new floors!


Well, mostly. Those are also 90% installed, but should be done by the time I come back. I decided on the Pergo Max Premiere in Scottsdale Oak:


They’re 7.5″ wide plank laminate and have a nice matte finish with an embossed texture that makes them look more like authentic rustic wood.


Originally I was set on engineered wood, but while at Lowe’s these caught my eye and I actually preferred the look to the wood (you can see the wood sample on the left and Pergo on the right):


With a lifetime warranty, high durability and scratch resistance, 5 star ratings online, and oh yeah—less than half the cost of the engineered wood—it was a pretty easy choice. And I think I chose well.


I was on the fence about painting some of the wood trim upstairs, but this has made it abundantly clear that the stair landing wall and most of the wall paneling in the bedrooms will be need to painted:


In the same soft gray as the bedroom closet doors, Valspar’s Woodlawn Colonial Gray (excuse the sawdusty mess, but you get the idea):


Who wants to come help paint? 🙂

Let’s move on to my favorite space… the upstairs bathroom!


The wall boards have been patched, the tub is back in place, and the faucet and sink are almost functional…


It’s so close, I can feel it!


I’d be happy to just talk about and stare at this room all day, but we’ve got a ton going on in the kitchen, so let’s head downstairs.

It was a mad house at the flip on Saturday morning, with 3 guys laying floors, 2 more installing the counter and sink, another just outside and my dad, Lucas and I trying to figure out the vent hood situation—all fighting for space in a small kitchen. But we made it work.


…and check out the new sink and counters!


I mentioned after my Kitchen Plans post that I’d switched to Lowe’s baltic butcher block instead of Ikea (I wasn’t able to make it to Ikea and it didn’t make sense to pay for delivery, plus the Lowe’s butcher block is solid, thicker, and comes unfinished):


My contractor did a great job mitering the pieces and making it look seamless, and now all it needs is some stain and sealer. I plan to stain it in light/medium neutral shade, similar to the floors.

And this sink…


Isn’t she pretty? I also switched my original Ikea plan with this massive 36″ Vigo model from Lowe’s.


I love the slotted detailing on the front and think it gives it a nice unique touch. So pleased with how both of these turned out!

Okay… now for the DIY project. Let me preface this by saying I’ve built everything from tables to cabinets to doors & more, and nothing comes close to the level of complexity that was this vent hood. I made my calculations and drew up fancy computer generated plans… and ended up tossing them as soon as I realized what I’d gotten myself into.

With that said, this tutorial will not be thorough, because none of us can even explain what we did—including my dad who is a former carpenter.

But let’s back up for a second. Here’s the empty wall I was working with, above the gap where the stove will go:


I had my electrician install wall sconces to flank the range hood:


And I was picturing something along these lines:


Seems pretty straight forward, right? Just build a frame, attach it to the vent, and nail up some boards. A fun little weekend project, spending some quality time with my boys.

On Friday we went to the lumber yard and grabbed about 30 feet of these 1×8″ reclaimed wood boards, which just so happened to match the new floors quite nicely:


But those would come into play later. First we had to build a frame to hold this shiny new vent hood to the wall:


It’s a Broan PME300 from Lowe’s, and I also picked up a 6″ duct kit to vent to the outside (which is always recommended).

After measuring and drawing out my dimensions on the wall, we built a frame out of 2×4’s which fit snugly around the outside:


Then we secured a couple boards to the back wall to push the vent out a bit, since it has to be positioned close to the center of the stove for best results.


At the top, we nailed up a few pieces of 1″ boards where the hood narrowed. Here you can see that the sconces are a bit too close—those were added before the drywall and cabinets were installed so the measurements changed a bit. It’s a tight fit between the ceiling beam but my electrician will go back in and adjust them a couple inches.


Next, the angled pieces were added along with the vent frame, and we cut a hole for the duct.


Once the hole was cut on both the interior and exterior siding, the outside wall cap was installed and the vent wired up, set into place and screwed into the wood frame.


Then we called it quits for the night and went home.

The next day was Christmas Eve, and I was not confident that we’d be able to complete this hood that day (there was a winter storm and we had to return before dark for our holiday dinner).

We assumed the trickiest parts were behind us, but that was not the case. I have to give so much credit to Lucas for stepping in and taking charge of figuring out each step. It was a collaborative effort between him and my dad (I helped wherever I could but it was mostly them) and I’m so impressed with how quickly he’s learning the ropes of DIYing, and even more thrilled that he’s genuinely enjoying it. #proudgirlfriend

Anyway, the building of the frame continued…


One step at a time. Some parts were easier than others.


Like anything with 90 degree angles.


These pieces? Not as much…


It took a few several tries to get it just right. And by “just right” I mean “close enough.”

Eventually, our frame was finished and ready for the reclaimed wood! I decided to make our lives difficult and miter the edges. The first row of boards were straight, so that was easy enough:


Except that reclaimed = bowed and imperfect, so the joints didn’t exactly match up perfectly. Good thing it’s supposed to be rustic…


The boards were attached using finish nails, so they can be individually removed without any issue if the vent hood/duct/wiring should ever need to be repaired or replaced.

Then came the tricky compound angles. Not only did the side cuts have to be angled, but they had to be mitered at the right angle, matching both the frame and each other… using boards that were both bowed and tapered. It was literally mission impossible.


We had to make some adjustments and compromises along the way, but we did the best we could.


And it didn’t look half bad.


Each board probably took 20 minutes of measuring, remeasuring, cutting & recutting since every board and angle was different.


By the time we reached the top, I realized I wanted to add some extra trim to finish it off. We ran out of wood, it was dark and dumping snow, so that is where this project ends.


On the bottom, I’ll attach another board which will end up looking like this:


And to finish off the top where it meets the ceiling, I’ll run another board along the outside to give it a nice finished edge:


I’m bummed we couldn’t even completely finish one of the projects on my list, but still pleased with how it looks…


I was on the fence about painting it white or gray, but I think I like the natural wood—at least for now. We’ll see once the tile is in place and counters are stained.


What do you think?


While I was at the lumber yard, I picked up a couple 2×10’s to use as floating shelves:


They’ll be installed along this wall…


Using these shelf brackets from my favorite shelf hardware shop (remember those fun master bath shelf brackets?)

That will happen in the near future (hopefully) and in the meantime I’m crossing my fingers for dry, non-freezing weather so we can finally get the exterior of this house painted. These next five weeks are going to be challenging. But they will also fly by, and I’m looking forward to everything the new year has in store…

On a more reflective note—2016 was such a monumental year of change and growth for me, both personally and professionally. Between falling in lovefinishing and selling my home, moving to the city, traveling and buying my first flip, it’s going to be hard to top. But I have a feeling 2017 will be the best one yet… 😉


I’m so thankful for this past year of your encouragement and support, and hope you’ll continue with me on this journey through 2017. There’s going to be some changes, but I’ve never been so sure of what I want and where I’m going, and can’t wait to experience another year of this big, amazing adventure called life.

Wishing you all the happiest ending to your 2016, and I’ll see you in 2017!

Disclosure: Some of the products listed were provided via sponsorship—all of which I selected and fully approve of.




Kitchen Cabinets & Stenciled Walls: Cottage House Flip Episode 8

If last week’s update was the biggest yet, then this week comes in second place with another major milestone and some pretty exciting changes! Take the full tour in today’s Episode 8:

I was with the installers on Saturday to watch the cabinets go up in real time, taking lots of instagram and snapchat updates—so if you follow me there, you were the first to see it!


And here they are!


It looks a little bare without knobs, appliances and countertops but that will all change soon.


As you may remember from the kitchen design plan post, I opted to skip upper cabinets to keep the small kitchen from feeling too heavy, and instead plan to install two 73″ shelves between the fridge and the wall (shown in the photo above).

To create more storage, I added a full row of cabinets along the largest wall, ending near the front door (there was nothing there before):


Here’s a wider angle view:


You’ll notice the two round sconce boxes above the gap in the center—that’s where the stove & range hood will be.

Another shot of the fridge, dishwasher, sink and home to the future floating shelves:


And this empty space below the window will be a long built in bench nook:


They also added a row of matching built in cabinets next to the fireplace:


I’ll use reclaimed wood for the countertop surface here to tie in with the fireplace surround.


Is it all starting to make sense now? Be sure to check out the video which gives a much better visual representation. You can find the full cabinet details & kitchen plans here.

Apart from the cabinets, I have a brand new retaining wall and staircase at the front of the house (it’s almost done):


And the beginnings of a new back porch & siding:


And as promised in last week’s post, a proper photograph of the upstairs bathroom with the floors I can’t stop staring at:


In other news—after a weather delay, the flooring has been delivered and install began on Tuesday! There’s a lot of prep work involved (thanks to an old crooked house) so they aren’t planned to be completed until next week. That means the next time I step inside the house, it will (should) have new floors!

Now that we’ve got all the major updates out of the way, let’s move on to some DIY, shall we?


Before painting the walls white upstairs, I considered leaving a wall or two with wallpaper, just to preserve some of the original character and charm of the home. In most houses I wouldn’t have even considered that, but this place is practically a life sized dollhouse, and with cottage style vacation homes in the woods, you’re allowed to have a little more fun.


In the end, I decided the 60’s motif was just a bit too much, but in an effort to retain some of the original quirkiness, I came up with a compromise: stenciled walls.

Stenciling is less of a commitment as it’s low cost, beginner friendly and you can simply paint over it if you don’t like it.

I chose two accent walls—one inside one of the four smaller bedrooms, and one in the laundry room. Smaller spaces lend themselves to bolder patterns and are the perfect place to experiment, in my opinion.

After scouring the internet for days (I’m quite picky with my stencils) I chose the Allover Brocade Wall Stencil:


And the Spanish Lace Scallop Wall Stencil for the laundry room:


Both from Royal Design Studio Stencils.

Here’s an original shot of the bedroom I chose to stencil:



Side note: based on Lucas’ suggestion, I’m replacing the queen bed with a daybed which will go along the back wall and free up some space.

I somehow neglected to take a photo of it after the walls were painted (oops) but it looked the same, minus wallpaper and carpet (you can watch the video for the “before” shots).

When it came to selecting a color, I fell in love with the peachy coral used in the example on Royal Design Studio’s website and couldn’t get it out of my head—so I embraced it.


Brushed Rose was the winner! (also, what does “Snow Pa” even mean??)

Anyway, while I was at Lowe’s, I found this round brush and thought it’d be useful:


Also needed for this project: a foam roller, paper towels, painters tape, and of course, your stencil:


Some people use spray adhesive, but I found it wasn’t necessary since the stencil doesn’t need to stick against the wall to work, and it definitely won’t stop paint from seeping through. More on that in a sec…

This room has trim in every corner, so before beginning I removed the trim on the edges of the wall (which made life 100x easier). I decided to begin from the ceiling since the top of the wall would be the most visible (the bottom will be hidden by a bed).

Because the pattern was organic and not symmetrical, I didn’t need to start in the middle of the wall, so I kept it simple and began in the corner.


You’ll need to make sure the first piece is straight (never rely on your wall!) so I used a level to get it in place, and taped the edges with painters tape.


Then I loaded my roller up with paint, thoroughly rolled it out to make sure it was evenly distributed, and “off loaded” any surface paint onto a paper towel. The key is to make sure there’s a very light amount of saturation.


Then I cautiously began my first coat.


You’ll learn quickly that if there’s too much paint or you press too hard, it will seep through. The best technique is to give it several light coats until reaching your desired coverage. On that point, you don’t need a lot of coverage at all. It’s not like painting a wall—you won’t notice if you can see the wall peeking through once you step back.

Here’s a close up of the stencil after coating it—this is actually one of the heavier coatings I did but you can still see a bit of the wall through it:


You definitely don’t want to wait for the paint to dry and give it another coat—especially at the corners where you have to realign the stencil perfectly each time. Don’t even try it! So get a paint with good coverage (I love Valspar), give it one good coat, then remove the stencil while the paint is still wet so that you can touch up any imperfections.

Before moving onto the next repeat, let the paint dry for a few minutes (it won’t take long since you only used one light coat), just enough so that it doesn’t smudge when you position the stencil on top of it. I went on to the ceiling filler (it came free with my stencil):


This is where I ran into my first edge and things got just a bit tricky.


I used my roller for as much as I could, then pushed the stencil up against the edge with my hand and used the round brush to reach the top. The stencils bend nicely so you can really get in there.

While that was going on, I began working my way across the wall:


An important feature of the stencils are the registration marks. These ensure that your repeats are in just the right spot:


They are positioned all the way around the stencil design (you can see my fingers pointing to two of them above). Just make sure not to paint over them so you can see the shapes underneath from the last stencil!

Once I had my technique down, it was smooth sailing:


To minimize the waiting time between each repeat, I worked both vertically and horizontally.


I was worried this project would take forever and I wouldn’t finish in time, but the photo above shows my progress after less than 2 hours (including setting up and stopping every 5 minutes to take photos, record video, and instagram/snapchat my progress). Not bad at all!

The next day I came back to finish the job. This was cabinet install day so I ran downstairs between stencil repeats to watch the progress and document it.


The stencil will accumulate more and more paint, and at some point you’ll have to clean it off. A bathtub/sink and some sort of scrubbing apparatus is ideal for this, but with no running water, I had to improvise with windex and a putty knife…


This was by far the least enjoyable part of the entire process, but it’s necessary if you’re stenciling anything larger than a small wall.

Finishing the stencil along the floor was a breeze because the bottom 4″ will be covered by trim. I recommend doing it this way if possible.


Before you tackle stenciling, it’s important to leave any OCD tendencies at the door and realize that it’s an art, not a science, and that imperfections are inevitable. Taking your time and exercising caution will certainly help, but you’re just not always (or perhaps ever) going to have perfectly crisp lines. If that’s what you’re after, I suggest wallpaper. However, you’d be surprised at how much they disappear once you step back just a few feet.

Example: See how lovely this wall looks?


Here it is up close. Not exactly perfect, right?


Another reason why I’m drawn to the more organic patterns where you can really get away with it. I don’t think I’d even attempt something that required super smooth and concise lines.

And here’s the wall now with the corner trim back on:


This will be a fun room to decorate! Counting down the weeks…

Okay, ready for the next one?

Last week I began the laundry room transformation with new countertops and a cabinet door makeover:


I knew pretty early on that I wanted to do something fun with the back wall, but still make sure the room had more of an elegant feel. The Spanish Lace Stencil was just the ticket.


I was aiming for a more subtle effect, so I used Maison Blanche’s Cobblestone paint (the same shade I used for the tub and vanity—I’m only slightly obsessed).

Since this was a smaller wall and a more symmetrical pattern, I decided to start in the center.


First one down, nice and easy.


The registrations are a bit different on this stencil, with full cutouts rather than just the outlines:


All was going well until I got to the edge and had to contend with three different wall angles…


I tried. And failed.


I had to repaint that area and start over.


I ended up cutting the stencil along the edge so I could get it flat up against one of the walls. The key is to work in super small sections, just large enough to where you can push it all the way up against the corner with two fingers, then work your way down, readjusting as you go.



And then there’s just some areas that are impossible and you have to freehand.


Fortunately, I chose a design that lends itself to the “vintage/aged” look so I can get away with plenty of imperfections here.


After overcoming the initial obstacles, the top of the wall wasn’t too bad at all.

And after five hours, I was…


As is often the case in life, the hardest challenges bring us the the greatest rewards. And this wall turned out better than I had anticipated.


I can’t wait to add a little bling once this beauty goes on the ceiling…


It brings so much warmth to the space, and I’m so looking forward to having these brick floors finished and grouted!


Not quite done in here but already night and day from where we started…


And that wraps up another week at the cottage flip! Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to sell this place in 8 weeks… especially when the fog rolls in and the snow starts falling outside the window…img_5122

It’s such a beautiful place to be.


Who wants to buy it and live here? 🙂

Next weekend I’ll be in NYC for a holiday party, so unfortunately that means no visit to the flip and no progress update next week. But I’ll make up for it over Christmas, because we have some exciting DIY’s planned in the kitchen—and of course we’ll have the new floors in and a whole lot more.

In the meantime, you can always stop by my Facebook, instagram and snapchat (@jennasuedesign) and say hello! Happy Holidays everyone, and I’ll see you back here in two weeks!

Disclosure: Some of the products listed were provided via sponsorship—all of which I selected and fully approve of.




The Walls are White, and more! Cottage House Flip Episode 7

We’ve reached the halfway point of this renovation and completed the single biggest update—the walls have been PAINTED! Watch the transformation & more in Episode 7:

In today’s post I’ll be covering the highlights, but make sure to watch the video for all of the updates!

I barely recognized the house when I walked in the door last Friday—let me show you the transformational power of paint.









This house is shaded under a forest of pine trees and gets very little natural sunlight (especially now in winter) so I knew immediately that white walls were the best choice to make the space feel open and brighter.

After a lot of researching and hearing opinions from other bloggers, I went with Valspar’s Bistro White which is a very neutral (neither warm nor cool) shade.


The heaviness of the orange wood has been lifted and the space feels so light and airy now.


If you find it too stark just trust me, once the wood floors go down and I get all the furniture and accessories into place, the walls will fade into the background.


It’s the perfect blank canvas for decorating and allowing all the wood trim to pop. I didn’t unmask the windows because there’s still some touchups that need to be made, but those should make an appearance on the blog next week.


Since I’m trying to keep this blog updated in as close to real time as possible, my contractor sent me a couple photos of the kitchen Monday afternoon:



We finally have drywall! And look at that beautiful wood window!

After a 2 week delay, the cabinets were finally delivered Tuesday (!!!). They’re scheduled to be installed Saturday, and I’ll be there taking photos and videos and instagramming and snapchatting it up.

While we’re still discussing the kitchen, I found this pedestal table on a local buy & sell Facebook group on Sunday and the sweet sellers offered to deliver it to me that day…


It cost me a grand total of $30 delivered. Thirty dollars! I’d been hunting for this exact size and style for a month. Major score. I plan to paint it a soft khaki or gray, and it will end up approximately in this location in the kitchen:


In front of the built in bench seating along the right wall. I’m hoping it won’t be too crowded in there. Here’s another angle:


The tricky part about flipping on a crazy fast timeline is that you can’t wait until something is in place to decide what will look good and what to buy next. You just have to visualize everything together, buy it all at once and hope it works out exactly the way you pictured in your head. Not the easiest thing to do, and I’m sure there will be some last minute changes so I’m giving myself a few weeks to arrange furniture and decorate (fingers crossed I’ll even have that).

In other news, I painted the front door black (Valspar Cracked Pepper):

Front door in Valspar Cracked Pepper

And the downstairs bathroom looks like this:


This might be the last room to be completed. My tile guy/plumber needs to finish the upstairs bathroom, then the laundry room next, then probably the kitchen before he can start in here. It’ll be done sometime in January.

Speaking of the upstairs bathroom… holy moly:

Brick veneer floor tile

This screen shot does it absolutely no justice and I’m kicking myself because I forgot to take an actual photo… but these floors. Oh these floors. Lowe’s wins all the awards for offering these. I chose TEC grout in Silverado which blends into them nicely. This only reaffirms my prediction that this bathroom will be my favorite room in the house.

If you’ve been paying close attention, you may remember me stating that this weekend I’d be stenciling a couple walls. I’d been trying to schedule that for the past few weeks, and this weekend was finally going to be the one—I had it all planned out and was ready to go.

Then an hour into my drive to the cottage, I realized I forgot the most important thing… the stencils. Horrible, I know. After pulling off the freeway and debating if I wanted to battle San Francisco traffic and add another 3 hours onto my already 3 hour drive, I ditched that plan and decided to figure out something else to do. That something else ended up being painting, which is all I can really do at this point.

My painter had finished painting the bedroom walls last week (goodbye floral mismatched wallpaper!) which made me question my paint color choice for the closet doors.


I was aiming for a soft, subtle gray and hoped the color would pop more once the walls were painted, but sadly they did not. Gray paint is so tricky.

Valspar Modest silver

Modest Silver is a nice color on its own, but without much natural light, it was too similar to the walls. And it looked slightly too purple. Back to the drawing board.

Instead of starting over from scratch, I remembered that I had chosen another nice gray for the exterior—Valspar’s Woodlawn Colonial Gray—shown below compared to the old door color:

valspar gray paint swatches

The exterior hasn’t been painted yet so I didn’t get a chance to test it out, but with no time to spare I took a gamble and bought a gallon in eggshell.

Fortunately, the DIY gods took mercy on me, because this color is perfect.

valspar woodlawn colonial gray

I ended up painting the trim around the doors as well for a cleaner look. I only had time to do the two bigger bedrooms but plan on painting the doors and at least most of the paneling in the other rooms as well (who wants to come over and help?)

valspar woodlawn colonial gray

With that issue resolved, I had just enough hours to squeeze in a last minute DIY project in the laundry room. Here’s an older photo after the laminate countertop was removed:


A chunky reclaimed wood counter would add a nice rustic touch while staying in budget, so I headed to the lumber yard and found a nice 2×12″ for a whopping $40:


It was then cut down and secured into place:


I sanded down the rough edges then turned my attention toward the cabinet. The plan was to paint it black but since I had a few extra hours, I decided to get a little fancy and add some trim, in the same style as my DIY closet doors.

This idea came to me on the drive there so I made a quick stop at Lowe’s to pick up two pieces of 8′ lattice molding. Can’t beat a $10 upgrade!

I posted a complete video & blog tutorial about this technique already, and this is essentially the same process so I’ll keep it brief.

Starting with the first piece, I placed it diagonally across the door and positioned it on each end. Then I traced a line where the cut needed to be (a very non-technical procedure—professional carpenters shield your eyes):


A line was also drawn at the bottom, then I used my miter saw to cut it down.


I repositioned the piece to make sure the cuts were correct, and applied a line of liquid nails to the back:


Then I held it back into place and secured it with finish nails.




Time to putty those nail holes & seams…


The putty was left to dry overnight.

DIY farmhouse door trim

The next morning I sanded it down and gave it a coat of my favorite black paint (Valspar’s Cracked Pepper again):

Valspar Cracked Pepper

Then came the jewelry! I picked up these fun $3 vintage style brass pulls on Ebay:

Valspar Cracked Pepper

And that concludes Phase 1 of the laundry room update!

Valspar Cracked Pepper

These photos make the trim design appear very subtle but you can see it quite clearly in person (and in the video):

Valspar Cracked Pepper

I think we’re off to a good start in here…

Valspar Cracked Pepper

Next Saturday the floors will go down (using the same brick pavers as the bathroom) and I’ll stencil that back accent wall. A new sliding door and a few touchups & accessories later, and this room will be complete! It’s so close I can feel it.

I know my updates haven’t been too terribly exciting for the past two months, but that’s all about to change now that the demo/structural/behind the scenes work is almost done. You’re about to be bombarded with a whirlwind of updates. Bring on all the pretty things!

And if you’re wondering why there’s now a specific deadline to complete this flip, I have a very important photoshoot scheduled for February 9th. I’ll spill more details as the day gets closer, but that leaves me 2 months to get this place finished, furnished and decorated. I haven’t started panicking just yet because I have a great team of contractors and supportive family & friends who I can count on to step in and help if needed, so I’m keeping the faith. Stress doesn’t solve anything, right? 😉

Follow all the updates this weekend on my instagram stories and snapchat @jennasuedesign and watch as the kitchen comes together! Exciting times around the corner, my friends…

Disclosure: Some of the products listed were provided via sponsorship—all of which I selected and fully approve of.


A lot to be Thankful for: Vlog Episode 28

It feels like ages since my last vlog back in September! They’ve been replaced with DIY’s and video tutorials, but capturing and preserving the memory of life’s little moments and special occasions with family is something I’ll always make time for.

This Thanksgiving was a special one, with Lucas’ parents in town along with Aunts and Uncles I don’t see nearly enough. It was a reunion filled with music, stories, too much food, rainstorms and snowstorms, and of course, a healthy dose of DIY.

One of the best Thanksgivings on record… looking forward to many more to come with these people I love so much:

Happy December and happy holidays my friends! One month left of this monumental year, with big things to look forward to in 2017 😉



Custom Bathroom Vanity + Cottage House Flip Episode 6

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and are feeling refreshed and ready for the holiday season! Mine was spent with some of my favorite people—Lucas and both of our families—and we enjoyed every minute of this rare and precious time that we can all be together.

I also took advantage of the extra set of hands and came up with a group project for my dad, Lucas and I—a custom bathroom vanity:


And put together a video documenting the experience:

Just so we’re all on the same page, this is the vanity for the upstairs bathroom, which I revealed plans for last week:


The last brick tile was set as we first arrived to the house on Friday—can we just take a moment to stare at these beauties?


As of Monday the tile was supposed to have been grouted—I haven’t seen a photo but it will be something to look forward to when I come back on Friday!

We’re still waiting on the wall mounted faucet before the wall planks can be reinstalled and painted, but that should all be taken care of over the next few days.

Back to the vanity. Here was the original:


A bit cramped, so I decided to forgo the L shape to open the space up a little. I didn’t want anything too small though, so I thought it would be best to keep the same length. After no luck in my search for anything that would fit the bill, I knew that something custom built would be my best option.

My light bulb moment was this old desk that came with the house, had been disassembled and just sitting around in the kitchen…


It was too deep, but nothing a little saw blade couldn’t fix. The chest of drawers would sit in the corner, then I’d place two table legs on the other end and use some reclaimed wood for the top. Inexpensive and efficient!

With a plan in place, we headed to Lowe’s to grab our supplies (and shared it on instagram, of course)


I ended up with these two table legs, top plates and hanger bolts:


I also grabbed a 1×4″, a handful of lattice trim and small decorative molding to finish it off.

Then we were on our way to the lumber mill to pick out the perfect reclaimed wood top… until finding out they had closed early and wouldn’t open until after Thanksgiving. So much for that plan!

Without any other source for that type of wood, I decided to stop by the Restore as a last resort on our way to the house, knowing I had to find something and make it work. The DIY Gods were watching over me that day when I spotted this coffee table—and it was half off for Black Friday, making my total just $18:


My dad recognized this table as one he had in his home growing up, so clearly it was fate 🙂 The carved top is a different style than rustic reclaimed wood boards, but I actually came to prefer this look instead. I love these happy DIY accidents.

Now that we had all our supplies, it was time to get started!

After measuring the space, I decided the vanity should be 52″w x 20″d, so we removed the top piece from the coffee table, measured and cut it with a skil saw:




Next it was time to chop down the dresser. After removing the drawers, we had to add a brace to the top and bottom for stability:


Around 13″ needed to be cut off the back, another job for the skil saw:



Same process for the drawers:

img_4925 img_4929

The back piece of each drawer was then nailed into place:


Now for the legs. The smaller ones had hanger bolts already preinstalled, but these didn’t (not exactly sure why) so my dad drilled a hole in the center of each, then threaded the bolt in with a wrench.


The legs were 29″ but the dresser is 30″, so we had to fill the gap. The top plates are 1/4″ tall, so a couple of 3/4″ scrap wood pieces below it would do the trick:


After marking our leg locations on the underside of the table, the scrap pieces of wood were screwed into place, followed by the top plates which the legs would then be threaded into:


And the legs twisted right into place:


Then it was time to flip the dresser onto the other end and secure it in place:


To hide the gap and connect the legs to the dresser, making the vanity look more finished, we placed the 1×4″ on the outside of the legs and mitered the edge where they met for a smooth joint:


The 1×4’s were glued and attached to the legs with finishing nails:


And attached to the dresser using pocket screws:


Then it was time to flip it over and admire our hard work and ingenuity! Hey there, Frankenvanity:


I attached two more 1×2’s to the exposed side of the dresser so it looked even:


I could have left the dresser as is, but I wanted it to be a bit more polished, and trim is always my favorite way to do that.

The lattice strips were the perfect size to frame the face of the drawers:


It’s as simple as measuring and cutting each piece:


They’re attached with a bit of wood glue and a finish nail on each end.


All done:


I could have stopped there, but I decided to take it one step further with trim around the outside edge too. I started with the same lattice trim:


And put Lucas on putty duty:


Then I added another layer of my small decorative trim on top of the lattice. Just because.


After spackling all the seams and nail holes, Day 1 was over! Whew.


The next day we returned to the house with sandpaper and paintbrushes in hand. It was time to make this thing pretty.

I put Lucas to work sanding the top. Ideally I wanted to have an unpainted wood vanity, but with the mix matched wood, that was never going to happen. So I decided that having a wood top and painted bottom would be the next best option. But first, the lacquer needed to be removed.


I dislike working with paint stripper so we used an electric sander instead:


There’s definitely some elbow grease and time involved (it probably took around an hour) but fortunately, Lucas didn’t mind:


While he was focused on that, I began on the drawers, starting with sanding the wood filler and corners until everything was nice and smooth:


Shortly after I was ready for paint. I grabbed my can of Maison Blanche in Cobblestone—which you may remember is the same color I painted the clawfoot tub a few weeks ago:


I was actually planning to paint the vanity black, but changed my mind at the last minute. I’m slightly obsessed with this color.

It’s such a rewarding feeling, watching that first coat of paint go on and your vision come to life:


Raw wood always soaks the paint right up, while the lacquered parts take a few coats:


But I could paint for hours. It’s easily my favorite part of these projects.


While I was in my painting zone, Lucas had finished sanding the top:


Much better, but still a bit too orange hued for my tastes. I decided to experiment and mix a bit of my Cobblestone paint with water to see if that would tone it down:


I used around a 50/50 ratio and lightly brushed it onto the wood, immediately wiping it off with a rag:


You can use as much or as little as you’d like, and multiple layers to achieve your desired results. Here it is with one light coat:


I was surprised at how much it toned down the red—that coloring is normally super difficult/impossible to get out of wood.


But I ended up with a really nice subtle weathered finish that I love.


The top was sealed with Maison Blanche’s varnish in satin, which I’ve used on both of the vanities in my last house with great results. It dries invisible and creates a water repellant barrier so it can be used in wet areas.


Now that the top was protected, I looked through my stash of waxes to find something for the vanity base. I had used dark brown wax on the tub and didn’t want the finishes to match exactly, so I opted for the white lime wax:


The was was buffed on with a soft cloth over the smooth areas,


And I used a brush to get into the nooks and crevices:


You can use more or less and layer it on to control the effect. I liked being able to see the whiter coloring so I gave it a bit of a thicker application. A bit difficult to see in photos, but here’s a waxed drawer on the left compared to just paint on the right:


It’s more noticeable up close in person, and it’s nice to just have a hint of aged texture.

The was was applied to the rest of the paint…


And then it was time to bring it upstairs for a test fit!

You’ll have to excuse the poor lighting/photos for this one… don’t worry, good pictures are in the future:


Just imagine white planked walls, grouted tile, a vessel sink and big gold mirror and all the pretty decor… sigh…


This is actually going to be the first room completed. And my favorite one, I’m predicting it now.


Although I haven’t decided if I’m going to swap out the handles or not. Thoughts?


While we were finishing up the vanity it started snowing at the house… the first snow of the year! And in a matter of about two hours it became this:


A magical ending to a wonderfully awesome Thanksgiving weekend. I’m thankful for an amazing boyfriend & dad… couldn’t do this without you, boys <3

Now that I have another big project out of the way, I’m ready to focus on something a little lighter—wall stenciling, anyone?

I’ve picked these two patterns out, and have my eyes on a bedroom and a laundry room wall…

Follow my instagram and snapchat (@jennasuedesign) as I share my attempts at this process starting on Friday, and then head back here next Wednesday for another video & blog tutorial!

So much to do, so little time… hoping your December is slightly less chaotic than mine!

Disclosure: Some of the products listed were provided via sponsorship—all of which I selected and fully approve of.


Bathroom Plans & Cottage House Flip Update

Today I’m headed back home for Thanksgiving where I’ll be dividing my time between feasting & flipping. What better way to work off that pumpkin pie than with some DIY? And this weekend I’ll have family around to help so I’m hopeful we can make some nice progress.

I haven’t been to the house in 10 days (which feels like a month) but my contractor has been sending me daily updates, and things are coming along!

In the last update, the siding had been removed in preparation for a new foundation:


A few days later, the foundation was done:


And the front of the house reframed and wrapped, along with a now centered and symmetrical front door and window placement:


The siding went up and the covered porch railing down:


Then a new porch was built!


That’s the most recent photo update I’ve received, but other major updates include:

  1. Rebuilding the back porch (a lot of dry rot was discovered, resulting in more $$ to the budget)
  2. Patching and replacing the ceiling & wall boards in the living room & kitchen
  3. Removing the kitchen door & preparing the walls for cabinets
  4. Finishing the recessed lighting downstairs & rewiring the lighting upstairs
  5. Prepping/painting the walls upstairs
  6. Setting up the new plumbing and starting floor tile in the upstairs bathroom

The kitchen cabinets were also delivered yesterday and are scheduled for installation December 10th. The counters and tile backsplash should go in right after that, so we can build the range hood over Christmas. So much for finishing this flip by January like I’d originally hoped, ha…

The plan for this weekend is to build a vanity for the upstairs bathroom, but before we get into that let’s discuss bathroom plans! I’ve been pinning up a storm lately and have finally settled on two different bathroom plans.

Here’s how the upstairs bathroom looked when I bought the house:



And as of 10 days ago…


And here’s my vision…


I’m calling this the Old World Cottage bathroom, with its’ blend of European style elements and rustic cottage charm.

It’s quite a small room, so first I’ll have all of the wood painted white to brighten the space.

Then comes the part I’m most excited about… this brick flooring from Lowes:

brick floors from lowes

They’re individual pieces of flat brick veneer which I had set in a herringbone pattern:


And of course, my newly refinished clawfoot tub with aged brass hardware:


I’ll drape some romantic gauze or lace curtains around the tub, and on the wall behind it will be this vintage cathedral mirror I picked up at the local Restore for $25:


I’m still in the refinishing process, but I plan to leave it wood. I’m also debating on adding a rustic wood shelf ledge across the back wall below the mirror.

On the opposite wall will be the new vanity, and our DIY project for this weekend. I’m a huge fan of repurposing furniture for vanities, and this time was no exception. I wanted something with storage and as much counter space as possible, but not so heavy that it would weigh down the already cramped space. I decided that a happy medium would be a small chest of drawers on one side and an open area on the other.

I scoured thrift stores and flea markets and yard sales for the perfect sized dresser with no luck, then had a light bulb moment…


This desk came with the house, didn’t sell at the estate sale and had been taken apart and used as a table saw base:


But it was free, functional, and I could make it work. So this chest of drawers will be chopped up, trimmed out and painted within a matter of days. I’ll use two table legs on the opposite end, something along these lines:


We’ll turn it into a new custom desk, give it a coat of paint (khaki? gray? ivory?) and wax, and use some nice stained wood for the counter.

On top of that will set a white vessel sink:


A black wall mounted faucet:


This lovely round gold mirror:


And glass shade sconce:


Still working out the accessories but a woven storage basket, wood stool and turkish towels will also be involved. I have a feeling this room might be my favorite of them all.

Next up we have the downstairs bathroom:


Soon to be the…bathroom2

The jumping off point was this tile from Wayfair:


I debated between several different patterned tiles but in the end was drawn to the mix of diamond and organic shapes, and muted green & gray colors in this one.

The tile will cover the floor but also run up the wall to just above the faucet, which happens to be the same faucet as the upstairs bathroom (in brass) and the same one I used in my last guest bathroom (you really can’t beat the style and price):


The tub is staying and the shower tile will be replaced with large white tiles as not to compete with the feature tile. The shower faucet will be replaced with something oil rubbed bronze:


And I’ll add a little touch of gold & sparkle to the ceiling:


Back to the feature wall. I spotted this antique cart in the perfect size at a local thrift store, and it was mine for $60:


I haven’t decided if I’m going to leave it as is, sand it down and give it a colored wax, or paint it. Any thoughts…?

On top of it will be another vessel sink, the brass faucet shown above, and a reclaimed wood shelf across the wall to the shower, separating the tile from the plain wall above.

Rather than use a small mirror above the vanity, I hunted down a large one to reflect light from the window across from it and make the space feel larger:


This pretty french provincial mirror is another $25 Craigslist find and I’m still debating on how to finish it. Leaning towards ivory or gray with light distressing, but it will depend on what I choose for the vanity.

Above the mirror will be two vintage style wall sconces:



I’ll finish it off with a few small accessories and that’s it! What do you think? I’m just crossing my fingers I can get it all done in time, because now I’m officially on a 12 week deadline for a special photoshoot (more on that later) so there’s no room for error. Yikes.

For now it’s one day and one project at a time, and I’m planning on taking lots of photos and videos for you guys this weekend, which I’ll share next week.

I hope you get to spend the holiday eating and drinking with your favorite people this year. I’m thankful for my wonderful support system who help me get through this renovation, and all of you lovely readers for your continued support. Happy Thanksgiving! <3

Disclosure: Some of the products listed were provided via sponsorship—all of which I selected and fully approve of.




Vintage Clawfoot Tub Makeover + Tutorial with Maison Blanche

If only every weekend at the cottage flip could be like last weekend… the kind where you show up with a paintbrush, get to experiment with all kinds of new vintage furniture products, and leave with the clawfoot tub of your dreams, without any way to mess it up or break something, all in one afternoon. I even got to head home a day early so I could enjoy a lazy Sunday in bed.

If flipping houses was always this easy, we’d all be doing it, right?

Nevertheless, I have Maison Blanche to thank for my favorite DIY project yet, and today I get to reveal my beautiful new tub…

DIY Clawfoot Tub Makeover with Maison Blanche Vintage Paint

Complete with a video tutorial, walking you through each step:

The video covers everything in depth, but I’ve also included a written tutorial below!

This is actually my second tub makeover—remember this one?


That tub solidified my love/obsession with painted clawfoots, so I jumped for joy when I found another plain jane in the upstairs bathroom, just begging for some personality:


After aging the brass hardware last week, it was time for the tub to get its own makeover!

I had used Maison Blanche Paint Company products on my first tub and it was unlike any paint I’d tried before, so there was no hesitation to use them again this time around.

First I had to decide on a color… 

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-15-34-pm screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-15-44-pm

Last time around I used a mix of Vanille, White Pepper, and white lime wax. This time I wanted to try something new, so they sent me a bunch of goodies to experiment with…


In the end I narrowed it down to a handful of colors and waxes, and grabbed some brushes to get the party started.


I wanted a warmer look for this bathroom and was leaning towards Cobblestone based off the color chart, so I tested that shade out first. The paint is thick, almost mud-like, which is characteristic of the unique chalk-based formula:


Just to be sure, I swiped on a few more neutral shades:

Maison Blanche Cobblestone, Hurricane, Franciscan Gray, Coquille

My first instinct was right, and Cobblestone was the winner. And here’s a little behind the scenes action… you may remember seeing this go down live on my instagram stories & snapchat 🙂


Perhaps my favorite thing about this paint is that there’s no prep work involved. It’ll adhere to almost any surface without peeling off like latex tends to do on anything that’s coated or slick.

It went on nice and easy over the painted metal…


I gave it two coats for full coverage and then turned my attention to the feet.

Dipping into my sample pot of wrought iron (which I also used last time), I gave each of the feet a couple coats as well. I barely used any of it—a little bit of this stuff goes a long way.


As both paints dried, I began to prep for the next phase.


Once the paint dries, it takes on a smooth velvety finish and needs something to seal and protect it. Varnish is one option, but for this project I prefer the hand buffed look of wax, so I cracked open a few cans in varying colors:


In the video you can watch each of these waxes in action—here’s a screen shot (though they’re a bit easier to make out in person):


The dark brown wax gave it more of a dimensional look and deepened the color, so that was my winner. You can see how it settles into the grooves and brings out the texture up close:


It’s also buildable, so you can apply as much or as little as you want for a light or heavy effect. I didn’t want it to change the color too much, so I applied two thin coats.


Because it’s buffed on by hand, it gives the surface that natural variation in color that makes it look more authentically aged, which I think adds a lot of interest.

Now that the body of the tub was done, it was time for the finishing touch!

Maison Blanche has a product called Organza which is a creamy, shimmery gel that makes any surface look like metal. Real antique brass feet were my dream but of course I’m not able splurge for those, so I couldn’t wait to recreate the look instead.


Organza comes in a handful of colors depending on the type of metal look you want, and I chose Oil Rubbed Bronze which gives the appearance of a darker copper/bronze. It works best on top of black for a dimensional look.

To apply, I dabbed my brush with a very small amount and lightly skimmed the surface, allowing the black paint to still show through in some areas:


If you apply too much, you can gently buff it off with a soft cloth. It dries super fast, and I gave it a second quick touch up coat to highlight a few areas.


Applying both the wax and organza took under 30 minutes (including documenting each step). This whole project came together much faster than I thought and by mid afternoon, my mission was accomplished.


Now to get this tub back in the bathroom where it belongs…


How amazing are those faux brass feet?! They even match the doorknobs


Trying to find those small moments of pretty in a sea of construction and chaos to keep me sane…


If you don’t have a clawfoot tub lying around, this technique can be used on pretty much anything at all. I’m already eyeing other pieces of furniture I can paint and wax and turn into “metal”. There will be more where this came from!


To recap, here’s what I used for this makeover:

Maison Blanche Vintage Furniture paint in Cobblestone

Maison Blanche Antique Wax in Dark Brown

Maison Blanche Vintage Furniture paint in Wrought Iron

Maison Blanche Organza in Oil Rubbed Bronze

There’s currently all kinds of demo and mayhem happening in this bathroom, so before we get too far I want to share all of my plans and sources for both of the bathrooms along with a full house progress update. Stay tuned for that next week, and let me know if you have any questions/comments about today’s project! As always, you can reach me on instagram, facebook and snapchat @ jennasuedesign. Until then…

Disclosure: Some of the products listed were provided via sponsorship—all of which I selected and fully approve of.



How to age shiny brass instantly! + Cottage House Flip Episode 5

It has been quite the eventful/stressful past few days—but I survived! And I’m not even talking about the election—more like broken shop equipment, broken laptop, flat tire, expensive tow truck rides, project plans derailed and DIY frustrations. But you’ve gotta take the bad with the good, and despite the setbacks, life is good.

You know what else is good? Magical potions that instantly transform shiny brass to aged perfection…


It’s true, and I’m not sure how this has fallen under my radar for so long—but this miracle liquid exists and it’s my new BFF.

Today I’m sharing a quick recap in this post, but to watch the process in action (and see more house flip updates) you’ll want to check out this week’s video:

Let’s back up for a second. I was fortunate enough to inherit this beautiful clawfoot tub in the upstairs bathroom:


I love the idea of gold hardware (remember the bathroom in my last house?) but this wasn’t exactly gold… it was shiny brass. So I thought about it for a while, and then I stumbled upon an old video demonstration of Martha Stewart aging some brass handles—what a trendsetter she is.

Upon further investigation, I found that a few others had discovered this potion and used it on smaller hardware, but I wasn’t sure it could be done with larger pieces. After shopping around, I decided on this brass ager for just $11 online and figured at that price, it was worth a shot:


The tub and hardware were relocated into a nearby bedroom during bathroom demolition so I had my work space all set up:


You won’t need a lot for this project—just the brass ager and some fine sandpaper/steel wool if your pieces are small, or a sponge/sponge brush for larger items.


Note that this process only works on real brass! I tried it on the cheap faux brass plated stuff (by mistake) and nothing happened, so don’t waste your time.

Real brass has a clear coating to protect it from tarnishing. This coating has to be removed so that the metal can react to the solution. You can sand it off, or you can make your life a lot more difficult and use paint stripper like I did. I didn’t realize what a pain this would be until it was too late, but that is why I’m the guinea pig for these experiments—so you can learn from my mistakes 🙂

I already had the paint stripper on hand (from the fireplace makeover):


This part’s easy, you just brush it on:


Except unlike the photo, you need to use tons of it. Coat that stuff on as thick as possible. More = better. I didn’t use enough the first time around, so after waiting around 40 minutes for it to dry, I tried to scrub it off and was left with a stubborn, globby mess:


The whole room was a mess.


I tried every form of sand paper and abrasive pads but felt like I was getting nowhere after hours. So I gave everything a good, thick recoating and called it a night.


The next day I came back to a nice bubbly coating and was much more optimistic:


When it looks like that, it comes off nice and easy. Plumbing is still a bit tricky with all the joints and tight spaces, but I did the best I could to scrub it all off:


There was definitely still some stubborn parts, so I recoated, waited and rescrubbed for the third time (see why you should just sand it?) until it was all gone—about five hours of work in total.

The brass will look exactly the same as it did with the clear coating, but it will now react to the aging solution. And now the fun part begins!

If your pieces are small enough to be submerged or dipped into a container of the solution, lucky you—you’ll be done in under a minute. If they’re larger, you’ll need to continuously coat & recoat with a sponge. It takes a bit longer but the almost instant gratification is still fun!


The higher concentration of solution, the faster the metal will darken. Even with the sponge brush it still reacts really fast. Here’s how it looks after about 30-60 seconds with a light coat on one side:


You can see it’s much darker where the liquid is pooling. I also tried submerging part of it directly into my container to see the difference. It worked so well! Much darker after about a minute:


If you were watching my instagram stories that day, you caught the first preview:


The great thing about this process is that you’re in complete control of the effect. You can darken it as much as you want, and easily remove areas where it’s too dark with a light sanding. With the sponge brush application, you’re bound to have streaks where the liquid has settled, but they’re easily buffed out:


Click on the video to see this part in action:


Real aged brass has a natural patina that varies in color, so I wasn’t necessarily looking for a uniform shade throughout. I enjoyed the process of coating, sanding and repeating to achieve my desired look.


So long, shiny brass!


I’m looking forward to getting everything reinstalled—that probably won’t happen for another month or so—but I’m not done with this tub makeover yet! Next week I’ll be testing some special paints for the exterior and feet, and of course you’ll get another step by step video tutorial!

In other news, the house is currently being ripped apart:


The new foundation should be done by Friday and then we can start rebuilding the exterior. Next week I’ll have new siding, windows and front door so things are finally moving!

On Sunday I also managed to squeeze in a quick night stand makeover:

img_4827 screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-12-30-54-pm

And get a head start on refinishing this vintage mirror, which I plan to hang over the tub:


I still feel like I’m behind schedule and there’s so much to do and coordinate (all in a very specific order, of course) and it’s a challenge living almost 4 hours away and only being there 3 weekends/month, but, I think it’ll get easier over time once the major projects are underway and I can focus on the details. I’m holding onto that light at the end of the tunnel and staying focused!

Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement. Your instagram & snapchat messages help me stay motivated while I’m working hard at the flip so keep ’em coming! Until next week…