DIY (Easy & Inexpensive!) Planter Boxes

I have to be honest—we were pretty underwhelmed when we first stepped out of our realtor’s car and laid eyes on this house (well, until we walked through the door and saw the view… but still.) Curb appeal has always been a challenge for me—it’s a little out of my element and landscaping scares me.

However, I can’t ignore it forever. We have several guests coming during the holidays and I wanted the front porch to be just as cheerful and festive as the inside. Let’s take a look at our entryway situation:

Yawn. Very blah, right? I pulled my DIY moss letter out of storage just to have something there and added a couple boxwood wreaths… and then I neglected it.

We don’t really have a front “yard”, persay—it’s a big wrap around driveway with some rocks, shrubs and trees in the center, and pavement everywhere else. We desperately needed some greenery near the front door, and when I found these planters from Ana White I knew they were perfect:

I loved the style, the plans were easy and they’re under $20 each—one on each side of the porch was perfect.

Last week I made a Lowes run to grab my supplies, including two evergreens to fill the planters:

I got straight to making the cuts:

The plans call for cedar fencing for the sides which I had never worked with before. They’re super inexpensive and light weight, but vary so much in thickness, color, texture and quality. Look at the differences…

So they certainly have limited uses when building furniture, but they’re great for this project.

I won’t rehash all the details of the plans (you can find those on Ana’s site) but here’s a quick rundown. The first step was to make the sides. I set three boards down on top of two 1×3″s, spaced them out by eye and used wood glue and finish nails to attach them (I don’t have a square so I lined them up along the corner of a sheet of hardboard, not shown):

Here’s how the front looks:

It didn’t take long to finish all eight sides.

Then it was my least favorite part, pocket hole time. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only blogger who isn’t infatuated with the Kreg Jig. I appreciate it for what it is, absolutely, but more often than not I run into problems (anyone else?)

Drilling the actual holes went smoothly (although somewhat time consuming)…

And everything came together, but I had a handful of screws that went straight through the wood which happens to me a lot. Not sure if they’re going in at the wrong angle or just too much torque on the drill. Some of those screws were stuck so I had to cut them down with my dremel (dremels are the best!)

Anyway, rant over. I still ended up with these babies:

Next it was time to add a shelf for plants to sit on. This was the easiest part.
I measured how far up I wanted the shelf to be and used 1×2’s as cleats (attached by wood glue + nail gun):
Then I nailed in some more 1×2’s and scrap wood:
Ana’s plans end here but I wasn’t loving the exposed top edge showcasing the mis-matched cedar boards. I had enough 1×2’s leftover to trim the top out so I used more wood glue and nails for that.
And my planters were built!

I gave them a quick sanding to smooth out any sharp edges and splintering. For the finish, at first I considered painting them black to match the front door, but then realized the space was entirely lacking warm/wood tones so stain was the answer.

I found this Cabot stain and sealer in one at Lowes and decided to give it a try:

Because of the roughness of the cedar, I opted to brush it on rather than my normal method of wiping to apply. It worked great.

The cedar took the stain much heavier than the smooth pine, so I applied a second coat just to the pine boards after letting it sit overnight.

And that’s it! Total time was probably around 6-7 hours (with no help, including breaks—it would go a bit faster with a second person but it’s totally manageable on your own).

The plant guy at Lowes helped me choose these beautiful evergreens ($20/ea) which should be relatively low maintenance.

He said I could simply leave them in the plastic bin and they’ll do fine—no re-potting necessary! That’s my kind of gardening. And if I manage to kill them, I can take them back for a full refund within the next year, no questions asked (although I swear I’ll try my hardest not to…)

And here they are… the first step to improved curb appeal.

I really think they do a lot to anchor the space. We still have a ways to go but it’s a good start.

I also added bows to my wreaths for fun.

I had another successful flea market trip this past weekend and I can’t wait to set up some of these items for a front porch seasonal display. If you follow me on instagram you saw this already…

I’ll be working on that over the next few days, along with freshening up our foyer for Thanksgiving guests and I’m even throwing in another free printable! I know I’m way behind the industry standard blogging schedule for fall decorating but better late than never, right?

Be back in a few days!

Easy Chalkboard Lettering Tutorial + Free Fall Template!

One thing I love about chalkboards are the ability and ease of which they can become part of your seasonal decor/celebrations. Not to mention how lovely they look on their own (especially when displayed inside a huge reclaimed wood frame):

My first chalkboard design, back in April:

For our BHG photo shoot last month I switched it up:

I’ve been having fun coming up with new ideas for different seasons (as well as parties we’ve had) but when it came time to start thinking about our Thanksgiving decor, I decided to give hand lettering a try.

I posted my sketch on instagram the other night:

A while back I received requests to share my method for chalkboard lettering. I’m nowhere near skilled enough to freehand something fabulous directly onto a chalkboard, and also I enjoy creating the designs on my computer, so I found a method that works great for transferring printed designs.

After I was happy with my sketch, I scanned it in and refined it a bit (I use Illustrator but you can use any word or text editing program to come up with your own):

My chalkboard surface measures a whopping 30×40″, so I set my background to that size and scaled my design until it filled a good area of it:

If you have a larger chalkboard and want to save yourself a couple steps (or don’t have the software to do the next step), at this point you can take your file down to a copy place (like Staples or Office Max) and have them print it out on the cheapeast paper possible relatively inexpensively. I didn’t feel like getting out of my pajamas so I decided to just split the design across 9 sheets of 8.5×11″ paper—that is the grid you see above (the large white box represents the overall chalkboard surface).

Then I printed each page out (using the cheapest/thinnest copy paper possible on a draft setting—quality doesn’t matter!)

This next step is also optional, but since my design didn’t print borderless, I trimmed off the white edges so I could line them all up without any overlap:

Then I got brought it over to my chalkboard and got it into position:

Now the chalk comes in. The type of chalk you use is actually quite important. I tried to use a cheap/dollar store brand last time and it didn’t work at all. You want chalk that has a more powdery/richer residue and not as slippery/waxy, if that makes sense. I think any decent name brand should work.

Simply take your chalk and rub it on the backside of your paper where the design is printed. You can cover the entire paper but I found that just wastes time (and chalk), so I hold the paper up a bit so the light shines behind it and I can see where I’m drawing.

You can also use colored chalk for this step—it really doesn’t matter much since you’ll be covering over it anyway.

Once it’s covered, set it back in place on the chalkboard, printed side up. Then grab a hard object to use as a burnishing tool. Because the strokes in my design were on the thick side and didn’t need to be super exact, I just used the cap of a sharpie, but with more intricate designs I’ve actually used the tip of a ball point pen.

Staying within the lines of your design, apply firm pressure until you’ve covered the surface to transfer the chalk powder onto your board. Before going too far, lift up a corner to make sure it’s working.

Once you see it working, you can tape that sheet of paper in place and apply the chalk to the back of the other sheets.

I took a sheet adjacent to the piece I had just taped, applied chalk to the back, taped it back in place and then repeated the process. Removing one sheet at a time makes it easier to keep everything in position.

Once the chalk was fully applied to the back and everything was taped into place, I continued to trace the design with my sharpie cap. You don’t have to spend too much time on this—the general idea is just to get an outline that you
can trace and refine with chalk (or a chalk pen).

And here it is!

Finally, it’s just a matter of filling it in. You can make the strokes as thin or as thick as you’d like, or just follow the template.

My little apprentice was watching intently.

I thought about going festive with orange chalk, but decided to keep it more traditional and classic with the black and white.

Whenever we have gatherings, guests usually end up doodling or writing messages on the chalkboard and I can see this being filled with things our guests are thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving—we’re hosting up to 12 people this year (my first time ever), so the planning is underway!

Thankfully we have a table that was built just for this purpose.

This chalkboard is only the first touch of fall in this kitchen, but there’s more on the way!

I have lots of flea market shopping and DIY’ing to do and plan to share updates of our front porch, foyer and dining table over the next couple weeks.

In the meantime… who wants a free Give Thanks template? I’ve made it super easy for you to download and print to use on your own chalkboard. Or simply print it out and frame it as art if you’d like. It’s an 8×10″ file but you can scale it up to any size for the chalkboard template since the quality doesn’t make a difference.

Just head over to my Facebook page to download! (You may have to click Continue or OK to be redirected)

Alright, time to get the ball rolling on our front porch which is in major need of some updates. I’ll be back next week with some progress (starting with another DIY wood working project—wish me luck!)

Living Room: A Complete Source List

Alright folks, the wait is finally over! Today I’m sharing the complete source list for our living room along with all of the links to recap our journey. Make sure to check out the full Reveal post from last week if you haven’t yet!

Let’s start with the basics:

Wall color: Valspar’s Montpelier Madison White (in flat)
Trim, plank wall & ceiling color: Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee
Flooring: Armstrong Engineered Walnut in Shell White
Beams: DIY (my tutorial here)
Fireplace stone: Lowe’s Desert Quartz Ledgestone
Fireplace hearth: Lowe’s Style Selections Leonia Silver Porcelain Tile
Mantel: DIY Salvaged beam with Minwax’s Dark Walnut stain (installation)

Art: Custom Roman Numerals Print / Reclaimed wood frame
Black frame: Ikea Nyttja frame / DIY mat & photo
Brass candlesticks: Flea market
Antler candle holder: Gift from friend
Metal pitcher: Thrift store
Black lanterns: Snedco Wholesale
White pumpkins: Michaels
Wood log basket: ? (super old)
Pillows: Ikea
Rug: Amazon (in bleached)

Custom pouf: Etsy (highly recommended!)
Loveseat & chaise lounge: Ikea Kivik
Armchair: Craigslist
White Covers: Comfort Works in Liege Eggshell
Tree Stump table: DIY
Deer pillow: Ebay

All other pillow covers: Ikea
Ivory throw: Home Goods
Curtains: Ikea Ritva
Bamboo blinds: (Singapore Oak color)
Ladder: DIY
Brown blanket: Flea market / Plaid blanket: Target
Wreath: Home Goods
Wall sconce: Lighting Direct (painted black)


Antique cabinet: Craigslist (DIY refinish)
Mirror: Craigslist (DIY white wash)
Vase: Target
Antler: Flea market
Scale: Flea market
Gourds: Joann (painted)
Metal containers & vintage books: Flea market
Wood lanterns: Pier 1 or World Market (I think… it was years ago)
Coat rack: DIY with Lowe’s hardware
Basket: Mom’s (sorry Mom)
Scarf: Forever 21
Pumpkins: Michaels
Console table: DIY (via Shanty 2 Chic)
Art: (source at beginning of post)
Metal pitcher: Joann
Lantern: Antique shop
Vintage chest: Flea market
Lamp: Walmart
Blanket: Amazon (cheapest source I’ve found but available at multiple stores)
Custom Quote print via Jenna Sue Design / Frame: Target
Vintage books: Flea market
And… I think that covers it! Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any other questions or need clarification!
In case you missed any of the progress, here’s all of the living room updates:
As for the total cost, I didn’t keep track of the details so unfortunately I can’t give an exact number. By far, the most expensive element was the fireplace with the stone coming in around $1300 and labor at around $1900. I just ran through the list for a quick total (mostly off the top of my head) and I came up with a ballpark in the $5k range. This is not including the flooring and wood planks (since we bought that in bulk for the whole house) nor does it include items we’ve owned since our last home like the couches, rug, pillows and art. If so much of it wasn’t DIY’d/thrifted you can bet we’d have spent a least double.
Even though $5k isn’t a drop in the bucket, I’m absolutely positive it’s increased our home’s value by several times over that amount (the benefit of buying a fixer in a nicer neighborhood!) so it was all a worthwhile investment. Not to mention how happy it makes us and will be enjoyed for years to come (hopefully 😉 )
So… what’s on our agenda next? Between the upcoming holidays, hosting family gatherings and an increased workload, we’ve decided not to jump into any new projects until January. But don’t think that means this blog will go silent… I can’t tell you how excited I am to decorate for the holidays! I have a million ideas swirling around in my head and with just 24 days until Thanksgiving, planning starts now.
I’ll be back in a few days with a festive Thanksgiving chalkboard tutorial (+ a free download so you can print your own!). ‘Tis the season—bring it on!

Living Room Details: DIY Cabinet, Tree stump table and Sofa Slipcovers

I decided to consolidate this all into one post so I could have a dedicated living room source list next week and you won’t have to scroll through a bunch of chatter to find what you’re looking for. Keeping things simple and easy for ya!

First up, one of my favorite pieces in the entire living room…

Originally I wasn’t going to have anything on this wall at all. Brad ended up running some wires from the cable jack behind it to our outdoor TV (right on the other side of the wall) and they needed to be hidden, so I had to come up with something.

Then I stumbled across this gorgeous cabinet from Shanty 2 Chic:

I loved the simple styling and the fact that it was narrow, and the perfect size! The plans seemed easy enough too (I followed the instructions from Ana White as well as referenced the photos from Shanty 2 Chic).

The stained wood she used turned out gorgeous but I realized that all of the furniture I had in the room was wood/brown so I decided to switch it up and go with a warm gray. I’ve had trouble in the past choosing grays—they always turn out bluer than expected, so this time I went with a much warmer shade—Valspar’s Mountain Smoke:

It actually looks pretty cool in this photo but next to all of the other gray swatches, it was a very muddy shade with brown/green undertones. It really is the perfect gray, I think.

Whitney had ripped down a sheet of 3/4″ Purebond plywood for the main frame, which isn’t available at Lowe’s, but since I wasn’t staining mine I used a sheet of 3/4 MDF instead. Best choice EVER. MDF is so easy to work with—doesn’t splinter or crack and it’s super smooth which makes it perfect for painting.

I had Lowe’s rip it down into strips to make it easier to transport, but their measurements weren’t perfect (as usual) so I ended up having to rip it down on our table saw (I don’t know what I’d do without that thing!)

I won’t get into the step by step details since you can find those in the links I posted above, but here’s some photos during the process. This project calls for a Kreg Jig which I’ve had some trouble with in the past (mostly with the wood splintering and the screws poking all the way through) but it worked like a charm this time—great for MDF:

The plans aren’t super detailed—like it doesn’t say what order to assemble the main cabinet pieces in, so Brad and I just assumed it didn’t matter.

First pieces up!

This is where more detailed instructions would have come in handy (or perhaps common sense on our part) because after adding the shelves in we realized we couldn’t fit our drill in there to secure the top. Oops.

We had to improvise with hand held screwdrivers. It’s solid.

There were also a couple conflicting measurements on the cut list which set us back but luckily I had leftover scraps of wood I was able to make work.

The doors were the easiest part:

I decided to add a bit of cottage flair by swapping out the plain plywood sheets with beadboard:

Once the frame was assembled we attached the back. I still had some particleboard leftover from our bedroom wall panel project so I was able to save some cash by using that up:
Then it was time to add the trim!
I lied about the doors being the easiest part, this step actually was. No mitering involved!
After patching all of the holes and a good sanding, it was ready for paint:
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again—Valspar Signature is where it’s at. Best paint I’ve ever used.
And it’s a match made in heaven with MDF… one thick coat is all this baby needed (the pine trim and beadboard needed another coat).
After the paint dried, I applied a coat of Minwax finishing paste for protection (it’s a wax that I think is meant for stained/bare wood but it was perfect for this project—easier than brushing on poly).
I loved the hardware Whitney used in the original build and I was able to find the hinges at Lowe’s (in gold, I spray painted them black) and I grabbed some rustic looking black handles from there as well.
I found the perfect sized baskets at the Container Store, which arrived just in time for the photo shoot.
Love, love, love this cabinet. Favorite build ever. Huge thanks to Whitney and Ana for the plans!
Next up… the tree stump table.
This project caused a bit of headaches.
I’ve wanted to make one forever and I knew it would be perfect in the living room. Fortunately we have tons of chopped trees leftover from their removal earlier this year:
I picked out my favorite log and had my dad come over with his chainsaw to help cut it.
The cut didn’t end up being exactly straight, and his chainsaw broke mid-way through so I was left with a crooked log that was borderline too short and very uneven.
Fortunately I just happened to buy a planer a couple months ago at our local flea market so I could finish the job with that. Oh, and this was less than two days before the photo shoot. My dad just got his chainsaw back from the repair shop that day—Brad had broken it trying to cut down the first tree stump table last month. Apparently this chainsaw was determined to not let me have my table.
I spent a solid hour in the garage that night trying to plane it down and get everything level, which ended up mostly just taking another 1-2″ off the height.
Then it was time for the bark removal. These logs had been sitting outside for months with no rain so I figured it would peel right off. Well, maybe 6 inches peeled off without a problem and the rest was completely stuck on. I guess if there are other logs on top of it, it won’t dry out.
There was no way I’d be able to remove it all before the shoot so I had the stylist hide the removed bark side and shoot it as is…
Oh well.
A few days later I returned with a chisel and hammer and slowly started chipping away…
It was definitely a pain. If you plan on making one in the future, put your stump somewhere dry and let it sit for a few months before even attempting to remove the bark.
Finally I managed to get every last piece off. It wasn’t perfect, but I gave it a quick sanding and called it a day.
To address the height issue, and also make it mobile and allow for air circulation at the bottom (which I read was recommended) I added some small casters purchased from Lowe’s:
I skipped the poly and am leaving it natural for now.
I love it, so it was definitely worth it in the end.
And if you’re curious about this white sofa slipcovers above… here’s what happened. Remember my post back in July asking for your thoughts what to do with the living room arrangement?
And then I decided on this layout, but wasn’t sure what to do with the couch fabric…
We still had the kivik slipcovers from our last house—which I loved at the time, but this home is definitely not the same beachy style. I loved the quality and fitment though, so it was an easy decision to go with Comfort Works again.
I tossed around the idea of white and gray, but figured I’d wait until the actual fabric swatches came in the mail to make a final decision.
White has always been my favorite color for sofas, but I’ve been too scared to take the plunge (hello, stains) so I just wrote it off completely. But then I discovered Comfort Works recently came out with a new “stain resistant” fabric called Liege, so I ordered a sample in “Eggshell” which reads as white but it’s really an off-white oatmeal linen blend up close.
I absolutely loved it. I was still skeptical about it’s stain-repelling effectiveness so I put it to the test with some red wine…
Yes, I wasted good red wine for this test.
Literally… the wine just fell off of it like it was never even there. It was like Scotch Guard on crack. I have no idea how it was possible but I immediately showed Brad (th
e OCD clean freak) and convinced him to let me buy my white slipcovers. Forget the gray, I want all white.
They even make custom sofa covers so I was able to get one for my armchair. I just had to send them photos and fill out a measurement form and their team did the rest.
Fun fact… Brad and I bought this chair on Craigslist for $35 back when we lived in LA (almost 8 years ago, where does the time go?!) Here it is way back when…

It’s super comfy so I couldn’t bear to part with it (and I didn’t have to spend hundreds on a new armchair!)

I could choose whatever style I wanted so I sent them some of my favorites I’d been collecting on Pinterest…
Relaxed/loose fit with piping and pleated corners… perfect.
The covers arrived over a month ago but I waited until just before the shoot to swap them out so they were nice and fresh.
I think they nailed it and I really couldn’t be happier.
Now I’m just crossing my fingers the stain resistance will last forever! The good news is, the cushions are reversible so if there is a catastrophe, I can simply flip it over to the other side. The other good news is because I opted for the loose fit, the covers are easily removable to throw in the wash so it shouldn’t be a huge pain when they need a cleaning.
Whew, alright, that’s enough information crammed into one post! Mark your calendars for Monday where I’ll be sharing all of the sources for this living room (and if you don’t want to miss anything in the meantime, feel free to follow along on instagram!)

The Big Living Room Reveal!

Ok, everyone. The day has finally arrived. I’m especially excited for this reveal because it happens to be October, and it’s finally cooled off here in Northern California enough to actually feel like fall… which means I got to have some fun with cozy decor (seasonal decorating is my absolute favorite… just wait until December!)

Let’s remind ourselves of how this place looked when we first stepped foot inside it one year ago…

Welcome to the 70’s…

Okay, that’s enough of that. Here it is now:

Let’s back up to where you first enter at the top of the staircase (just in front of the foyer, for reference):

This is what you see straight ahead (I relocated the ficus tree downstairs and brought my DIY ladder back in):

This antique cabinet greets you at the bottom of the landing…

I’ve rearranged this decor on this cabinet yet again (I think this is the third time this month…)

It’s just too much fun, I can’t help myself. All of the greenery in this room was freshly cut from our property Sunday. There’s plenty of variety to go around here in the mountains.

Moving along… you’ll find the entrance to downstairs on your left. So glad I painted this door black.

Next to that is the awesome vintage trunk I scored at our flea market.

I just love the character it adds to the space.

And this lamp… <3

And then we have our new couch covers!

Couldn’t be happier with the white linen. I’ll talk more about these next week.

There’s the kitchen, if you were wondering how this all flowed together. It’s a two story home but t
he living room is on it’s own “half story” in between.

Our hidden subwoofer table fits perfectly to the left of the couch.

And then there’s the fireplace…

I posted tons of photos of this recently so I won’t focus on this too much. I did make a couple small styling changes though.

It was chilly enough for a fire yesterday and Susie was all about it.

Can we talk about this cabinet for a minute?

I’ve decided it’s my most favorite thing I’ve ever built. And the gray color is so dreamy.

I bought a sheet of MDF and some pine boards and had this the next day. Magic.

I’ll share all the details on the building process later this week. This might be my favorite “moment” in the room.

Can’t own a mountain home without a deer pillow…

And this cable knit pouf… sigh.

Handmade via Etsy and perfect. Don’t worry—I’ll post a complete source list next week.

I also just finished this tree stump table yesterday, literally right before these photos. More on that to come.

Susie’s new favorite spot.

Also my favorite new lounging place.

Especially on the extra cold days, by the fire…

And that concludes the tour! Thanks for coming along and following us on our renovation journey…

The DIY cabinet post will be later this week, followed by more details and a complete source list next week. Cheers to the last week of October!

BHG Magazine Shoot Recap!

What a weekend—it went by so fast and I can’t believe it’s over already! (If you missed the news, you can find it in my last post, and if you missed all the instagram action, make sure to start following!)

A 3-day shoot was scheduled but everything went so smoothly and the team were such pros that we were able to knock it out in just two days. (Not that I would have minded them sticking around a while longer… I loved the entire experience!)

In the days before the shoot, the stylist (Jessica) began shipping props/decorations to our house…

I had to reassure Brad and let him know that it would all be gone the day the shoot ended, ha. Jess also packed her SUV with more goodies on the way to our home from the airport the day before the shoot (Saturday).

And the flowers… swoon…

They came all the way from LA and unfortunately, some were wilted so we had to improvise. Fortunately there’s lots of natural green foliage on our property and I was able to clip some branches (which I preferred the look of anyway!)

The photographers arrived first thing Sunday morning and began to set up. I tried to hold back from drooling all over their fancy equipment.

There was as specific shot list to follow and I assumed it would be done by room, but the photographer (Paul) ended up walking around the house see which shots had the best light at the time and captured those spaces before the good lighting shifted. Makes perfect sense!

The first capture of the day—our foyer. They left it pretty much the same, but since this will be for spring/summer they wanted more pops of color, so some chartreuse green boots and a matching wreath were brought in:

It was super interesting to see what went on behind the scenes. Like in the shot above, the kitchen window was making a glare on the ceiling so the photog assistant (Isabelle) ran outside to hold up a scrim to filter the light:

Those scrims were used in most of the shots, along with strobe lights to fill in the shadows:

But the actual photography went by really fast. I was impressed at how quickly they were able to get everything set up for each shot—they knew exactly what they were doing (obviously!). Paul was so helpful with explaining the process to me too (although I tried not to bother him too much). He said our house had excellent light and it made his job very easy 😉

The bulk of our time was spent styling/setting everything up…

The objective was to use as much of my own decor and DIY projects as possible in every shot. Then Jess would grab a bunch of her props and start editing them down until she was satisfied. My goal was to let her be creative and assist as much as possible—fetching props, cutting branches, moving cars, grabbing food, etc.

It was so neat seeing a new perspective and a fresh set of eyes come in and do their thing. I found myself thinking “wow, I never would have even thought of that!” on many occasions. I’ve never been around any stylists/interior designers before so it was a great learning experience.

And I was surprised at how non-meticulous it was… there was a fair share of fixing minor details (like spending 20 minutes to get ice cubes and lemon slices just right) but I forgot to empty the trash in my studio, for example, and Jess just said “Nah, leave it, it looks more realistic that way!”

My perfectionism wanted to kick in and move/rotate/fix a lot of things but surprisingly, Jess ended up leaving a lot of what I had in place already untouched. So if nothing else, it should definitely look “lived in!”

Early preview of our living room… don’t look too hard! Full reveal to come next week.

Here’s a peek at our bedroom… love the pillows she added:

We waited until just the right time before sunset to shoot the deck.

I like how they pulled the bar cart up into the shot.

Notice anything new? We added string lights last week. Love them so
much. Not sure if they’ll make it into the final images though.

Day 2 was dedicated to the kitchen. They needed a lot of shots there since it will be in both magazines.

Here’s the bar area, mid styling:

I love that Jess wanted to use every opportunity to include my prints. They’ll be all over the house! Can’t wait to see them in action.

Here’s the crew (myself included) right after we finished Monday afternoon. They were such an amazing team to work with and I can’t thank them enough (and BHG) for choosing to work with us!

The whole experience was definitely more casual than I had expected. No stress at all… everyone was really laid back, worked well together and got along great. It was perfect. Even my cats were well behaved and wanted to hang out with them!

Huge thanks again to Maria, Jess, Paul and Isabelle from Jenna, Brad, Susie & Biscuit <3

Come back next week for the living room reveal!

We have some news!

I’ve been keeping a little secret for six months…

Our house is going to be in these magazines!

Yes, that’s two different Better Homes & Garden’s special interest magazines! I was just as surprised as you are.

I’m actually no stranger to these particular mags—remember our Florida master bathroom makeover? It was featured in the Real Life Kitchens & Baths magazine (back when it was under that title, they’ve since changed the name to Kitchen + Bath Makeovers):

And my Paris city map print was featured a few months ago in Do It Yourself magazine:

When the editor of DIY mag saw my kitchen, she pitched it to her team and they decided to shoot a full house tour! Only problem was… we hadn’t even touched any other rooms, aside from my studio. This explains (a little bit) why we’ve been so busy! Just in the past year we’ve been able to complete our kitchen…



Master bedroom…


And living room… which is actually only 95% done and the shoot starts the day after tomorrow, so uh… I better get on that…

Those are the rooms they are shooting for the spread in Do It Yourself Magazine. They’re shooting a third day just for Kitchen + Bath Makeovers, so it will be a very exciting few days!

Just to clarify, we didn’t remodel our house for the shoot. It would have been done regardless, exactly the way it is now—only maybe not quite as fast. So you can thank them for my more frequent than usual posting schedule 😉

As you can imagine, we’ve been scrambling to get everything done around here. We could barely walk through our mess of a living room 2 days ago…

I still have to un-decorate for fall and re-decorate for summer (since the issue will be released sometime in spring/summer 2015). But I have an amazing stylist who has been shipping Target packages to me all week (sadly, I can’t keep any of them!) and it’s so interesting to see their new ideas for our home.

It’s not all fun and games though… we’ve also been dealing with the maintenance side of things… like touching up all of our bleeding pine knots…

These things are pure EVIL, I tell you. It’s our third attempt to cover them and this time we used the PVA primer that the painters suggested and used on our living room ceiling. We spent all night Tuesday priming and by Weds some knots were already peeking through, so I am not optimistic. I’m currently covered in dried paint after repainting the entire kitchen ceiling & wall, living room wall, foyer, and window sills last night.

Today will be spent wiping every baseboard, removing every cobweb, dusting every crack and crevice, window cleaning, mopping, laundering… etc etc.

The stylist arrives tomorrow and photographer on Sunday, with shooting lasting Sunday through Tuesday. This might be the most exciting thing to happen to us all year.

I’ll be back Weds or Thursday with a recap of the shoot, but I fully expect to be over-gramming the entire experience, so make sure to stalk my Instagram for real time behind the scenes action! Oh, and I must wait until later to share my latest DIY furniture project… sorry for the suspense 😉

The evolution of our living room fireplace {+ more fall decorating}

First thing’s first—the winner of the framed Roman Numerals print has been chosen! Check the Rafflecopter box to see if it was you!

Whew, I can’t even explain what a relief it is to finally have this fireplace finished! It was the most daunting task on our living room to-do list (after the ceiling was finished) and finding a tile installer ended up being a huge stressful ordeal. Between the lack of tile workers in this small town, the first guy backing out at the last minute, several insanely high quotes, and another cancelled contract due to an incorrect estimate, we were facing the reality of having to do it ourselves.

But just in the knick of time, we found a replacement and let me tell you, hiring this job out was the best decision ever.

Let’s start back at where we left off a few weeks ago. Our handyman had installed 2×4’s for cement board support:

Living in the mountains now, I’ve embraced the cabin style (albeit in a subtle way) and at the heart of any good mountain retreat is a statement-making stone fireplace. We love the more modern look of stacked stone and were very pleased with how the bar wall in our kitchen turned out so we used the same quartz stone.

Since the materials were on the pricey side ($4/sq foot and it took over 300 sq feet) we decided to keep the hearth simple with some light gray porcelain tile, which ended up being around just $40 total.

After weeks of hunting down a tile guy, he came in last Tuesday and started the prep work. This was the end of Day 1:

Then the tiling began. End of Day 2:

More tiling and cement board—end of day 3:

By Friday evening (day 4) it was 95% done. Excuse the crappy cell phone pic…

The finishing touches were added Saturday morning (another bad pic, sorry!)

We do plan on keeping our TV there (Brad insisted, I can’t fight it) but I made sure it wasn’t a permanent installation. Just two plugs and it’s easily put away if needed. All of the other components are in the hall closet, fortunately, so I’ll just have to decorate around the TV.

But not before I took some proper “After” shots of it, all ready for fall. I had fun grabbing whatever seasonal-ish decor I could scrounge up around the house to dress it up a bit.

This is one of those things where you just have to be standing in front of it to really get a sense of scale and the way this changes the entire feel of the room. It truly is the heart of our home now.

I’m trying real hard to pretend like it’s fall here, even though it was 90° yesterday.

We have more firewood than we know what to do with, and I’m so looking forward to putting this new fireplace to good use.

Change is coming, soon… I can feel it…

We have this tree in our front yard that started producing these perfect orange and red bulbs (seeds?) the first week of autumn, right on cue. It makes for some great festive arrangements.

I scored this whole stack of vintage books at our local flea market the other day for just $10 (along with that chunky blanket for $1).

My Roman Numerals print decided to make another appearance… the classic black and white typography just goes with everything (and adds a touch of sophistication, don’t you think?). I layered it with
a black and white vacation photo (see more on that DIY project here).

You’ll have to ignore the weird lighting. The bottom of the fireplace had natural light from the windows shining on it, so the top looks a bit darker and warmer in color. It’s all uniform in real life, I promise.

The brass candlestick holders were also a flea market score, and I found the inexpensive black lanterns online here—they have so many to choose from!

The antler candle holder was a gift from my friend’s dad who makes them.

We have a fireplace screen that will be in place normally, but I left it off for this shoot.

Look who I caught up to no good…

Autumn needs to hurry up and get here so we can cuddle up with our furbabies by the fire. I know they’re anxious for it too.

And now the best part… where we can fully appreciate the makeover by traveling back in time to the “Before”…

And after we painted the walls…

Can’t wait to get the rest of the living room put back together! We’ll be working on that tomorrow. And then I have some exciting news later this week, along with perhaps my proudest DIY furniture build yet.

See you in a few days!

DIY Wood Side Table / Subwoofer Enclosure

Today I’m sharing the easiest piece of furniture I’ve ever built. Seriously.

I’m pretty much the opposite of Ana White when it comes to carpentry—my dad was a wood worker and apparently his skills skipped a generation—but this project? I whipped it up in just a few hours (with Brad’s help) and it’s absolutely perfect.

First, let’s talk about the dilemma that started everything.

Brad decided that our living room needed to sound like a movie theater (apparently one home theater isn’t enough) which of course requires a big subwoofer. I have to compromise sometimes, so I let him win this battle.

But this monstrous black box just didn’t fly with my design plans for the space, so I decided to make it functional by hiding it underneath a table. I couldn’t find any store bought options that worked—the right size, look, and it had to be vented yet still hide this box at the same time—a pretty tall order. DIY was the only solution.

I took to Pinterest for inspiration and fell madly in love with this photo:


Yep, this is the one. There were no build plans or step by step instructions (I couldn’t even locate the original source) but it seemed easy enough to throw together by eye.

A old pallet would be perfect for this job, but we were fresh out of those so I headed to Lowe’s and found the most imperfect 1x3x8 and 1x4x8 boards I could find, along with a couple 2×2″ stair balusters to use as my inside supports:

Total cost was around $30, but any old boards would work for this so if you have scraps lying around, it can be done for much cheaper (or free). I liked the idea of having random board widths instead of keeping it uniform to add to the character.

The only other tools needed are a saw, wood glue and nails (we used our nail gun with 18 gauge finish nails).

After measuring the sub box and adding a couple inches on each side for breathing room, I trimmed all the pieces down and grouped them into three sections—front and two sides (we left the back open to the wall where the wires came out).

Then the fun part—distressing! We figured it was easier to do this before assembly.

After trimming my 2×2″s to the correct height, we arranged our group of front boards on top of them, lined everything up by eye (remember, imperfections are good), dabbed some wood glue and secured them with our nail gun. So easy.

Then we flipped it on its side and secured the corresponding boards at 90° to line up with the front pieces—we did this for each side.

Starting to look like a table already!

Then we simply attached the last two 2×2″s onto the back of the sides.


It was at this point I re-measured and realized the sub was a little too long to fit (oops… told you I’m no good at this stuff)

Fortunately, we were able to remove the rear 2×2″s and secure them to the very back of the sides instead of the inside edge, which gave us just enough room for the sub to slide in.

Finally, it was time to nail down our top pieces. We decided to not leave any gaps—just a personal preference.

For extra stability, we added a small piece of wood on the back side at the very bottom.

And our table was built. We were going to add foam underneath top to help with vibrations, but we did a test run with the bass cranked and there was zero rattling. I even put a bunch of metal stuff on the top, and nothing. The sound was nice and clear, no rattling, and it looked great—win-win! I love it when we can come up with creative solutions like this that make us both happy.

Finally, it was time for the finishing touches. I grabbed three different stains from the garage (dark walnut, provincial and driftwood) and went over each board with different mix to give the boards a more random look:

Then I let the stain soak in for a few days—I’ve found this drying time is crucial, especially if you plan to sand afterwards. Don’t rush it!

When I came back to sand it, the stain lifted so nicely and gave it that perfect bit of aged wood look (I used 80 grit paper and focused mostly on the edges).

And here it is with the sub hiding inside. You’d never even know.

I apologize for these lackluster “after” photos… our living room is a mess of construction right now so I can’t even move it into place, let alone style it.


It’ll be on the left side of our sofa, tucked in by the fireplace. Once I get the white slipcovers on and the rug in place, it will be a nice break from all of the clean & light shades of the sofa, curtains, rug, and wall color while bringing another natural element to the room. I can’t wait to see how it looks next to the stone fireplace….  speaking of…

It’s ALMOST DONE! I’m going to wait until it’s completely finished (next week) to share. My instagram friends got an early preview on Wednesday…

I’ll leave you with that for now. But it’s looking pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself.

Have a wonderful weekend… see you back here Tuesday!

Giveaway: Roman Numerals print & Custom Reclaimed Wood Frame!

I am so excited for today’s giveaway! If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you probably remember my huge custom chalkboard hanging in the kitchen…

And you may remember it was built by the super talented LZ at The Summery Umbrella. LZ was the first person I thought of when I wanted a custom frame made for my new Roman Numerals print.

The print is a sizable 20×28″ and it reads November 25, 2013 which is the date we closed on this house (almost a year ago, crazy!) I love the subtle representation of the date—and the fact that it’s a little cryptic. A fun conversation piece while adding a little drama to the space.

And that frame… I’ve never loved a frame so much. LZ was so great to work with when I told her my vision, she completely nailed it.

Bonus—it’s also super lightweight and can easily be moved around and re-styled (which will happen a lot, I’m sure!)

I knew one of you would fall in love with this just as much as I did, so we’ve teamed up to offer a lucky reader one of their own!

The print will be personally designed for you, customized to suit your needs… you choose your own date, colors, size, and optional text:

And the frame can be customized too! Choose from any color your heart desires…

I went with Natural, but the colored wood could be fun as well!

Here’s the giveaway details:

Prize: (1) Personalized Roman Numerals Print, in any custom size up to 20×28″, (1) Customized Reclaimed Wood Frame (to fit the print). The print will be framed, carefully packaged and shipped to your door, ready to display!

How to Enter: 

Using the Rafflecopter widget below,
1) “Like” Jenna Sue Design Co. on Facebook
2) “Like” The Summery Umbrella on Facebook
3) Leave a comment on this post with a significant date you’d love to display in your home

The contest will end exactly one week from today—Tuesday October 14th, and the winner will be announced then.

In the meantime, be sure to check out more photos and personalization options for my Roman Numerals print, and lots of amazing reclaimed wood finds from The Summery Umbrella!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! Be back in a few more days with another living room update 🙂