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 🙂

Living Room Updates: A DIY reclaimed wood coat rack

Monday mornings are most people’s least favorite time of the week… but to me, they’re inspiring and full of potential. I’m usually still riding the high from finishing the past weekend’s project—in this case, a weathered wood coat rack:

This project stemmed from an “A-ha!” moment when contemplating what to do with this big empty wall…

It was simple, easy, inexpensive, and can be used for both function and seasonal decor. The perfect solution!

You’ve probably seen plenty of reclaimed boards with coat hooks on pinterest/blogland, so it’s nothing new here—the only problem is, I had no reclaimed board. I could have ran to the local lumber yard to find one, but I decided to skip the hassle and make it work with a 1×6 I had leftover from a bent beam in our master bedroom:

I wanted to go beyond my usual denting/scratching on the surface method, though, and make this thing more realistic. So I took a hack saw and started working at the edges…


It was getting there, but taking forever.  Time to break out the power tools.

The jigsaw quickly sliced through the wood—just a minute on each side was all it took. After it was roughed up enough, I finished it off with a couple more sharp tools.

Once it was sufficiently weathered, I used my mouse sander to smooth out all of the rough edges.

Then I gave it a coat of stain (Minwax’s dark walnut) and let it soak in for a while (the longer the better!)

Finally, I hit it with the sander again, added coat hooks, and here it is:

I also made a few adjustments to the back wall, like the addition of a new customizable Roman Numerals print which will be available in the shop tomorrow:

The date I chose has a lot of significance… it’s the day we closed on our home (November 25, 2013). I love the meaning behind it and the fact that it’s subtle enough that you wouldn’t know at first glance 🙂

That awesome barn wood frame is from The Summery Umbrella (the same shop that made my giant kitchen chalkboard) and one of you will get a chance to win both the frame and personalized print tomorrow—so stay tuned!

I’m quite excited for the possibilities with this coat rack… seasonal decorating will be so much fun!

Although it’s still 90° here, I’ve been inspired lately to decorate for fall. It was on my mind at the flea market Saturday where I ended up with a nice collection of goodies for just $18…

My recent fall obsession started with a few updates outside…

Then migrated to the kitchen…

And now it’s spilled over to the living room. Complete with a full-time black cat.

Sadly, my autumn decor is only temporary—in the next week or two I’ll be making the house look like summer again. I won’t give any more details just yet… but feel free to make your guesses 🙂 You’ll find out in a couple weeks!

Next up is finishing this living room. We’re trying to schedule our fireplace tile installation for Wednesday and it’s expected to be finished by Saturday (everything crossed!).

I’m also in the middle of a couple DIY projects. Later this week I’ll reveal the rustic crate end table I made from this:

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the giveaway!

DIY Bar Cart & a Deck makeover for fall

Happy Friday! Today I’m sharing a new space—well, I’ve shown it once before, when our furniture arrived…

This past summer we added a TV and a grill, and have been entertaining quite a bit so it was time to step things up.

I found this bar cart plan from Ana White and knew it was exactly what we needed:

If you follow along on instagram you may have seen the construction in progress:

There were a few hiccups, but thankfully my dad was there to come to my rescue, so it all worked out in the end.

My first thought was to stain it, but the deck has so much brown tones and it would’ve been too much. I had some black exterior paint leftover from our front & kitchen doors so I knew that would be really sharp looking.

I took my time with this one—patching every hole and sanding it all down…

Then gave it a few coats of paint and added hardware:

And I just love it.

My family was headed over for an evening BBQ shortly after these were taken, so I decided to have a little fun decorating (seasonally appropriate, of course—even though it was 85° yesterday)

I love that the tray is removable, and that the cart is on wheels so we can roll it right up next to the grill if needed.

Form & function at it’s best.

And while I was at it, I couldn’t help but have a little fun with the rest of the deck…

When the sun sets, temperatures cool down and we break out the blankets and lanterns.

Even little Biscuit wants in on the action.

I ordered the striped pillows from Target for a steal—$54 shipped for all four, and love the pop of color and pattern they bring to the space.

I still have a few more plants to add but it’s almost there.

We’ve only had our grill for a month or so but it has been put to good use already (another flea market score!)

To get a better sense of layout, here’s looking towards the deck entrance (from the living room and kitchen):

The TV is on a swing arm and can be adjusted for viewing (it was used on our patio in Florida and works great here, too). It’s connected to our main system inside so it can play any TV, music, etc on the same channel as the rest of the house.

Outdoor living is huge in California, especially in the transitional seasons when the temperatures consistently hover in the 70’s and 80’s.

The outdoor space is the reason we bought this house—thankfully we didn’t need to do any major renovations out here.

These mountains, cozy furniture and good company are all you need.

Cheers to fall…

Aside from a few more plants, I ordered some cafe lights to string above the deck so I can’t wait for those to arrive. Just those couple additions and we should be all set!

Meanwhile, the living room is a different story. Our tile guy bailed on us at the last minute so we had to scramble to find a replacement. Reliable and reasonable contractors around here are hard to find apparently, so we ended up going with Lowe’s for the installation. Hoping to get the ball rolling on that next week!

I’m still keeping busy with projects, though. Putting the finishing touches on one wall in our living room and building an end table this weekend. I’ll have more to share on Monday, so check back then! Enjoy your weekend…

A vintage glass doorknob DIY for under $14!

Home sweet home… it feels good to be back! Thanks to everyone for sticking around while we took some time off to visit Florida.

Our tile guy was supposed to start on the fireplace last week but he’s been working on another job so it keeps getting pushed back (the frustration!). We’re hoping he’ll start this week (or we may just have to find someone else).

In the meantime, I’ve been tackling some smaller projects. I finished one yesterday that I am so excited about, it’s worthy of its own post (updated after new reader info!)

Vintage hardware lovers… today is your lucky day.

So, remember how the downstairs door looked like this a couple weeks ago?

A while back we upgraded all of the knobs in this oval oil rubbed bronze style, which was fine, but once I painted the door black I wanted something that popped a bit more.

Vintage hardware has always spoken to me, and I’d be in heaven if all of the doors in our house could look like these…


But seriously, have you looked at the prices of these things? Most will set you back $100 or more, and if you plan to do a whole house… well, forget it. Not an option for us. Not only that, but most don’t fit with the modern 2 1/8″ bore hole size and you’ll need to completely modify or replace the door to get all the parts to fit. So not worth it.

I’ve been determined to find another way.  After much searching, I stumbled upon this glass knob set for the very reasonable price of just under $14.39 shipped:

The link is acting strange, you’ll need to copy and paste this into your browser to get it to work: 

(it comes in nickel and brass as well). To complete this project you only need the door knobs though (assuming you are happy with the color of your latch and strike plate). You can get the knobs easier, like this one for under $8 on Amazon or Home Depot (if you don’t mind spray painting the metal, or you can get the bronze for $10):

The problem with the complete door knob kit that I purchased is that it doesn’t fit standard bore holes (despite what the Q&A says). The screw holes are placed 2″ apart but the bore hole is 2 1/8″ so there’s nothing for them to screw into.

The solution is to buy these wooden inserts which you attach to the inside of your bore so the screws have something to go into:

But even those are way more than I wanted to spend, and more hassle than it was worth.

I had to come up with a solution… so after some pondering and google searching, I came across these back plates (also called escutcheons):

They were $13.98 shipped which I thought was a great deal considering my alternatives. And I knew I could easily customize them to get rid of the brass.

While writing this post, I found them at Amazon for $8.99 shipped and Home Depot for $5.80 shipped!

Now that I had all my parts, it was time for a little DIY.

First, I had to remove the metal ring on the holes because my spindle wasn’t long enough to reach through to the other side:

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with the brass finish, so I started by sanding it down a bit (with 220 grit paper). There was a silver metal underneath which I let peek through.

Then I sprayed a light coat of satin black. I didn’t like how it looked up against the black door (which is a cool/light black) so I sanded it down and decided I liked what was happening (you can see the sanded plate on the left and unsanded on the right).

Then I dug around in the garage and found some gold and brown spray paint, so I started experimenting.

I added some gold and sanded a bit, and once I added the brown it gave it a subtle rusty effect which looked very realistic. After a bit more sanding, they looked like this:

Love! The whole thing only took about 10 minutes (including waiting for the paint to dry in between sanding).

Installation was super easy. The latch and strike plate were staying so I simply removed the old knobs, slid the new ones through with my new back plates, screwed the plates directly onto the door, and tightened the handle. Easier and faster than replacing standard door handles (and about the same price!)

I love the way the rusty color coordinates with my fall wreath. Happy accident.

Because I didn’t shop around enough (oops) my price came to just under $25 for everything, but if you buy the back plates for $5.80 and the glass knobs for under $8 on Amazon or Home Depot  (and use your existing latch and strike plate), you could get the same thing for under $14. That is seriously cheap for this setup.

UPDATE: A reader just informed me that they sell a kit like this at Home Depot for $19—it includes the mortise latch but you could just leave that out for modern style doors. Unfortunately I don’t live near one but that’s also a good option if you just want to buy everything together!

I would replace all of the knobs in my house in a heartbeat, except that I haven’t been able to find any vintage style privacy knobs that work with modern doors (and aren’t ridiculously expensive). Boo. If you know of one, let me know!

In other hardware news, I got my pendant pulls in for our sideboard—I found them on Ebay for only $3.50 shipped!

They came in brass, so a couple quick coats of black paint later and they’re perfect (and I was able to leave the key hole exposed!)

And that’s all for now. I have an almost finished project in the garage right now that needs my attention today… those of you who follow me on instagram got an early preview 🙂

In the meantime, we’re enjoying this beautiful fall weather that arrived right on schedule…

And after months of a dry spell, we even got some rain!

Unfortunately it was short lived, as it’s expected to climb back into the 90’s in a few days. But it did get me excited for fall.

I’ll be back at the end of this week to share, and *hopefully* will have an early fireplace update then as well. Fingers crossed!

Living room update & decorating for fall

Happy Monday! Is it starting to feel like fall where you are yet? It’s been in the upper 90’s here but that didn’t stop me from breaking out my autumn decor and jumping on this bandwagon. I’m slowly coming to terms with letting go of summer.

Last week I finished giving our sideboard cabinet a makeover and posed the question on instagram... which knobs?

It elicited quite a polarizing response… a lot of strong feelings on both sides. But one person said I should keep looking, and in the back of my mind I knew that was right. I didn’t love the choices they had at Lowe’s, but I had no other options at that moment so I impulsively bought two pairs and decided I’d settle.

Well, I changed my mind, took them both back and ordered these instead:

I love the look of pendant pulls, and these were only $3.50 shipped! I’ll probably spray paint them black. And that way I shouldn’t have to cover the skeleton key.

So that is why there’s no knobs right now…

As you can see I switched things up a bit. I took down the map print and pulled out a large mirror from storage.

I had the opportunity to visit Home Goods last week (drool) and grabbed this lovely fall wreath while I was there…

(I added the bow)

I also got to utilize my flea market scores from a couple weekends ago.

Like this awesome vintage scale.

And this cool rusted milk jug (which I filled with foliage from my dad’s yard).

And the two rusty metal boxes on the left for $1 each, as well as the red and black plaid blanket for $2.

I bought the lanterns ages ago when we lived in Florida—they’re filled with white pillar candles and mini pinecones.

The pumpkins I’ve also had for years (either Michael’s or Hobby Lobby).

After setting all this up, I finally figured out what I want to do with the staircase wall to the left of it. I’m going to find (or make) a beat up piece of wood and add coat hooks, then probably relocate the jug to the right (or just leave it empty).

Mid way through the photo shoot, Susie wanted in on the action.

This is one of her hiding spots.

It was a rare cloudy day yesterday (I almost forgot what c
louds look like) which made the mountains extra vibrant, so I had to look over and snap a photo…

We don’t get too many leaves that change colors in the fall because of the mediterranean climate, but it’s nice that our view is at least consistently green and full year round.

After sprucing up our sideboard for fall, I decided to tackle an easy project I’d been wanting to take care of…

This is the door to separate our lower level, and there was way too much white in this area.  It needed contrast.

I used the same paint color (Valspar’s Dark Kettle Black) as our front door and bedroom door in an eggshell finish. One by one, every door in this house will be black.

Rather than tediously taping it off (which never works perfectly anyway) I used Katie’s method of windex and a putty knife to scrape off the excess paint.

I had a nice short handled angled brush so I still tried my best to get a clean, smooth line so I didn’t have to remove as much in the end, which definitely helped. The paint came off so effortlessly, it actually ended up being easier to just use my fingernail under a paper towel for the smoothest line. I also avoided scratching the glass that way.

Here’s the new door:

Complete with a fall wreath I made a couple nights ago.

Oh yeah, I also had purchased a fancy glass knob but realized I need a retrofit kit to adapt it to the bore hole (why can’t they make modern door handles with glass knobs that aren’t $100? Argh) So, I ordered some backplates online and I’ll replace the handle as soon as I get them. Stay tuned.

I love how it ties into the front door. Yay for contrast!

And now for the big exciting stuff… our ceiling is finished!!

Our handymen worked on it Friday and Saturday and it all came together perfectly.

My dad and I quickly assembled the beams Thursday (using the same method as the kitchen and our bedroom) and they were up in no time.

They also added quarter round trim, caulked and painted:

And they’re just perfect.

Here’s my view right now from my desk:

And from the back corner of the room, looking towards the kitchen…

And looking back towards the foyer:

And this is what you see when you walk in the front door:

They really draw your eyes up and anchor the room. I’m so happy/relieved this part is out of the way.

Now… completely unrelated but I just had to share a daily dose of cuteness for your Monday. This little 4-week old furball is in our guest room as I’m typing…

I don’t know how I’m even at my computer right now instead of in there cuddling. Sadly, it’s not my kitten—we’re holding her for a friend who is moving today. But HOW CUTE is she?!

In less than 24 hours we leave for my favorite place in the country… Florida! I’m so excited to be reunited with my sister and friends for a week… and to remember what rain and non-freezing ocean water feel like… ahhh. Tiling on the fireplace won’t start until we return on the 24th, so there won’t be another post until that’s done (in at least two weeks).

In the meant
ime, you can follow me on instagram to see what I’m up to and join in on the Florida fun. Have a wonderful last week of summer!

Living Room progress report

We’ve been busy bees in the last week! Let’s talk about where we’re at now… starting from where we left off last week:

Right after that post went up, so did our mantel…
Unfortunately, and I didn’t realize this until it went up, but the wood isn’t perfectly straight. It a little twisted which means one side isn’t exactly level…
See how it angles upwards? It bums me out but unfortunately at this point there’s nothing I can do—short of driving back to the lumber yard, attempting to find a perfectly straight chunk of wood (does that even exist?) spending another $70, refinishing it and pushing back our timeline. Not going to happen, so we’ll embrace the imperfection by chalking it up to being more rustic. There ya go.
The TV will be sitting on this and we realized our tv base is wider than we thought, so we had to extend the mantel by adding a few inches to the back of it (which our handyman secured with huge lag bolts). This will all be hidden by the framing and stone.
Here’s a shot from the bottom:
Still figuring out how I’m going to hide the side where the bare wood is… either wood putty to blend the two and stain or veneer.
After the mantel was in, the framing went up (using 2×4’s):
Then Brad ran some cables to where the TV will be.
I asked him to give a writeup of what he did in case anyone is curious (I could never explain it):
1 – Power – We tapped out of the outlet next to the fireplace to get power up there so we ran ROMEX wire in the wall next to the fireplace.
2 – Network Cables – We ran two Cat6 network cables. One cable will extend the HDMI video signal from the AV Receiver in the network and audio closet to the TV over the fireplace. The second cable is just a standby
or data cable. It can be used for anything data related, internet, network, etc to any device next to the TV, or a smart TV in the future that needs internet. They are each 75ft long.
3 – RG6 Coax – For future use, in case someone wants to put a cable box physically at the TV, they can connect this outside the house to the cable splitter.
4 – Possibly might run Component RGB cables, if I have an issue with Video delay caused by the extender box.
Extending video from the closet – What we’re doing is splitting the output of the AV Receiver to the fireplace, and to the outside deck. To do this we’re using the Monoprice HDMI Splitter/Extender. This duplicates
the HDMI output of the AV Receiver and sends it to both places using CAT6 Network cable. HDMI Video will not run over about 50 feet without issues. The audio is straight out of the AV receiver in the closet to the 5.1 audio system
in the living room. 
Clear as mud? Great, lol. Moving along…
For our ceiling, I found a painter at the last minute and explained to him our situation with the pine knots bleeding through despite using shellac based primer. He decided to use something called PVA Primer which is used to seal porous surfaces (drywall) and apparently contains a plastic-like quality that should block the tannin from bleeding through.
Oh yeah, I noticed as they were prepping the area for paint that some of the knots had already started to bleed through! After less than a week! Thanks a lot, Zinsser customer service… let’s be clear: regular water based primers do not work on knots!
The painters sprayed a couple coats of the PVA primer followed by two coats of paint (Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee in a low sheen)…
Don’t forget, the beams will hide the ceiling seams.
The ceiling looks great but I’m still not convinced about the knot bleed through. We’ll find out soon enough, I guess.
After the paint was dry, Brad got up into the attic and finished wiring the lights and speakers.
It sounds so good in there! Now we can have music playing in every room. Fun stuff.
And the lights….
Seriously, you have no idea how much of a difference these make until you install recessed lighting in a room that had no overhead light sources before. It’s like a completely different space… we can actually use it at night now.
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of design. Don’t neglect it!
We have six on the ceiling and three along the soffit. They’re warm LED bulbs on a dimmer so we can change the mood with one touch of a button.
Here they are on the lowest setting. Kinda hard to tell from the photos but we love being able to control the mood.
While all of this was going on, I was giving our sideboard a little makeover…
I know not everyone agrees with me on this, but I’ve lived with it for a while now and it just wasn’t working out. Something about the glass bothered me and I just don’t like lacquered furniture. It also wasn’t some expensive rare piece in perfect condition so it’s not like I am modifying anything super valuable. 
Why keep something around if you don’t love it, right? No harm in switching things up to suit my needs.
I started by removing the glass which was held in by thin pieces of wood… super easy to remove:
Here’s what we were working with after removing the shelf:
It was brought outside for sanding. I used 80 grit paper (on my mouse—best sander ever):
The sanded areas look lighter because of the dust but it’s darker once you wipe it down. I spent a few days on this… sanding is a lot of work! Especially when there’s a lot of little details.
I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to finish it, but it started looking a lot like my au naturale dresser I recently made over in our master bedroom…
And I loved the way that turned out, so I decided to do the same for this one. That means no poly, no wax, just wipe it down and it’s good to go. 
I may very well change my mind in the future and add a coat of wax to it if I feel it needs it, but I’m digging the raw wood look.
These inspiration photos for the doors pretty much sealed the deal on chicken wire:

Don’t you just love these? I have no chicken wire in my house and it’s about time. Luckily, my dad had a roll leftover from his coop and gave it to me…
I didn’t have any specially designated wire clippers, so I used workman’s pliers and soldiered through it:
It’s not the most fun material to work with.
Once my pieces were cut, I did my best to straighten them out. This wire has a mind of it’s own and I haven’t quite figured out how to make it perfectly flat, but it’s not easy to pull it straight against your frame when you’re securing it, so you want it to be as flat as possible before installing. This was my best attempt:
Starting at the top, I used my hand stapler to secure them in place, working my way around the perimeter.
Many times the staples didn’t secure completely against the wire so I had to hammer them down. Soon after, I had this:
I like how subtle it is. It’s not in your face chicken wire.
Repeat on the other side, and this sideboard is (almost) done!
One of the knobs was missing when I bought is so I still need to find replacements. It’s times like these when I miss living near a Hobby Lobby.
I was going to fill it back up and shoot it all finished and styled, but then I started to pull out my fall decorations and decided to rearrange everything, so that’s worthy of it’s own post. I should have a post ready Monday. I promise, it looks a lot more exciting now than it does empty!
Thanks for stopping by… enjoy your weekend and feel free to follow along on instagram for what I’m up to in the meantime 😉

Living Room Reno: Progress & latest flea finds

Back with an update! Our handyman started work on the ceiling Monday and it has been a slow and steady process ever since. If you follow me on instagram you know this already…

To recap—we decided to plank the ceiling and install beams to match the kitchen in the adjacent room:

But since this ceiling is vaulted and 16′ high at the top, we couldn’t do it ourselves, so we hired our handyman (the same one who built our stair railing).

Step 1 was to buy our tongue and groove boards. I still had a stack leftover from the first purchase, so I bought 420 square feet to cover the ceiling (and it ended up being just enough, whew). It came to $570 after a 10% off Labor Day coupon.

Because the living room is a little under 24′ long and these are 8′ boards, we had to cut a few inches off each one. That was fun (not).

We covered the entire garage by standing them up to make them easier to prime.

We didn’t have to prime the entire boards, just the knots. Let me tell you, these knots are a nightmare. We didn’t use any primer for the kitchen and living room and within a few months the tannins started bleeding through.

We later added both primer and paint on top of them with no luck… it comes back within a couple weeks every time. So when I did our foyer makeover, I made sure to cover the knots completely with Zinsser’s BIN shellac based primer (which is supposed to be the best out there)…

Sadly, a couple months later and I can say it made no difference at all. It even bleeds through on the dark painted planks:

This was taken from my studio which wasn’t primed, but I’m sure it would have bled through anyway. You could argue that it just adds to the rustic-ness, but I’m not sold so we’ve been periodically touch up paint which only lasts for a couple weeks. It’s such a pain!

With this new ceiling going in, there’s no way we can get up there to touch it up so I wanted to make sure they didn’t bleed through. I called Zinsser and explained my problem, and they suggested trying to use their water based (1-2-3 in the blue can) first this time with the BIN oil based on top of it. I don’t trust water based primers to block tannins but I didn’t know what else to do so I gave it a shot.

We applied four coats of the first primer on every knot…

And covered that with a coat of the BIN…

Whew, that was a lot of painting. And no, I don’t feel confident that it will work. I’ve since talked to more painters and after some online research, have discovered new primers that are supposed to be fail proof. We haven’t hired a painter yet so I may pick up a can of specialized primer and have them hit the knots one more time before painting.

Back to the living room. This was taken during Day 1. We’re adding six lights and surround speakers so we had them run the wiring and cut the holes while they were up there.

Currently, it’s a bit chaotic in here…

But the planking is done!

This is a shot looking towards the kitchen (the smaller holes are for the lights and the larger ones are speakers). The extra three lights along the soffit was Brad’s idea…

Here’s the perspective from the fireplace looking back toward the stairs and my studio:

We picked up the wood for the beams yesterday so we’ll be building those soon and they’ll run along the two seams where the rows meet.

That’s all the progress I have at the moment. The guys are in the living room as I type working on framing out the firep
lace so that will be next! Unfortunately we’re having some issues with our mantel (the wood isn’t completely straight and we discovered it’s not deep enough) so I’m a little nervous about that. We’ll see how it all plays out.

In the meantime, I’ve been having some success at the flea market. I found this large vintage chest for $60 which will make the perfect side table next to the couch:

I also picked up this 45-piece dinnerware collection for just $30…

We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year so they’ll be perfect!

From the same vendor I got this lovely King sized bedspread for just $5:

The tassels match our navy bedspread and I love it. I have a thing for old blankets.

This navy pitcher was just $1…

And last but not least, we finally got ourselves a grill.

$140 with tons of extras, what a bargain.

We broke it in Tuesday night by cooking for friends & family…

Grilling season lasts a bit longer here in California so it will be put to good use before the year ends (hello, football parties on the deck!)

That’s the latest around here… I’ll be back sometime next week with another living room update!

Living Room Reno: Inspiration, Gameplan and a Fireplace Mantel

Yes, I’m still here—alive and well! Taking some time off to focus on work and soak up these last few weeks of summer. Luckily it will stay warm here for at least a couple more months (and hopefully bring some rain with the change in seasons… this drought is the worst!)

But back to decorating. It’s time to get serious about our living room.

Before I talk about the specifics, here’s what I’ve been pinning for inspiration…













Get the idea? A mix of rustic, cottage & farmhouse, open & airy, casual, calm, and most importantly, cozy. Just like the rest of the house, basically.

This is the current state of affairs…

I posted this photo a few weeks ago to ask for opinions on a slipcover solution. I listened to all of your suggestions and ended up making my final decision.

To keep costs down, I’m going to stick with the arm chair instead of getting another Kivik lounge. And nope, I’m not going to rearrange the furniture—after going through every possible combination, this layout still works best for us.

However, I’m ditching the footstool in favor of a large cable knit pouf, similar to this:

That way I won’t have to worry about the chairs not matching because they will be intentionally different. The white slipcovers will pull everything together.
I also changed my mind about the gray slipcover on the loveseat—that will be white as well.
It’s a soft natural white in linen so it doesn’t look too stark. And of course I’ll be layering in patterned pillows, blankets and furniture. 
I’m thinking a vintage trunk to the right of the loveseat…

A tree stump or two from our backyard in between the two chairs…

via Pottery Barn

And some light sources which have yet to be determined. It will stay nice and simple to let the real star of the room shine…

The fireplace.

There’s not much to look at now, but you just wait. In a few weeks (fingers crossed) you won’t even recognize it.

Our handyman (the guy who built our stair railing) is going to cover the brick by building out a base from 2×4’s, then a tile guy will cover it with cement board and tile it with stone all the way up to the ceiling. It’s going to be a show stopper.

Why not do it ourselves? Well, the ceiling is over 16 feet tall at the highest point and not only am I too chicken to attempt to tile that high, but we don’t own scaffolding. Some things are just worth paying for.

We’ve decided to go with the same quartz ledgestone we used on our bar wall in the kitchen:

The rooms are open to each other so it will be a nice way to tie them together, and it also pulls in the shades of gray and brown throughout the house. And while it’s not cheap ($8/sf), our fireplace is in view as soon as you walk through the door and the intention is to make it the focal point + heart of our home, so I’m willing to invest some cash to give it that extra “wow” factor.

And of course, no fireplace is complete without a mantel. I pretty much hit the jackpot with this one. Because we live in a tiny mountain town, logging and sawmills are everywhere, so a few days ago I took the truck out to one of them in hopes of finding “the one” (if you follow me on instagram, you saw the live update):

Acres of every type/shape/size of wood you can imagine. Piles upon piles of reclaimed wood… it was a DIY’ers heaven.

The owner quickly helped me locate the perfect timber (already the correct dimensions—12″ deep x 4″ thick—he just had to cut the length to 9’6″ to fit our fireplace width):

And it was only $70. I’ll definitely be back here for more.

Here it is back in the garage:

The raw wood was really rough and splintery…

I used my Mouse sander with some 50 grit paper and went over it as best as I could. Since it’s not your normal piece of treated wood, there’s no way to sand it smooth—I basically just took the furry parts off.

This made the color much lighter…

so I picked up some dark brown stain to give it a nice rich contrast against the light tile.

I used Minwax’s “Provincial” stain (the dark walnut I had turned it black) mixed with a tiny bit of weathered gray to lighten it a bit (this type of raw wood really grabs the stain so you have to go lighter).

Because the grooves were so deep, a bristle brush was the only thing that could penetrate the surface (normally I just wipe on using a cloth).

Here it is ready to be sealed!

It has to dry for 8 hours, then I plan to use a few coats of this matte poly:

So the mantel will be ready to hang next week. Now I just have to wait for our guys to do their thing.

But wait, there’s more!

This ceiling is getting the full tongue and groove + wood beam treatment as well…

When we were house hunting, a tall living room with beams was my number one request (aside from a killer view). I’m not letting go of my vision so now’s the time to do it. It’s going to be just like the kitchen (same materials, paint, etc), except with just two beams evenly spaced (8′ apart, the room is almost 24′ wide).

Here’s a shot of the kitchen from the living room, to see how they will look side by side:

It only seemed fitting to continue it into the living room.

Plus, we need to add recessed lighting and speakers (it’s so dark in there at night!) and there’s limited attic access above the ceiling because it’s vaulted, so the only way to do that is to cut out pieces of the ceiling from below to run the wiring. Now we’ll be able to just cover right over it with the wood planks and not worry about replacing drywall or patching—so it solves that problem.

Oh, and of course we’re not doing this part ourselves either. We’ll prep and cut the planks and construct the beams, but our handyman will be doing the install.

We also have to relocate the TV to the fireplace mantel…

Unfortunately, the cable is connected to that outlet and it has to be ran back outside and then inside to the fireplace somehow—Brad’s figuring that part out. However, because there’s an outdoor TV right on the other side of that wall, the cable box and receiver needs to remain there, so I’ll need to find/build a small console table to place under the frames (and I’ll have to convince Brad to move the outlet over so there aren’t ugly wires running across the wall…)

And finally, I’m giving this sideboard an update:

It’s a little too shiny and new looking for me right now—I see some farmhouse style in the future for this one.

Alright, that’s a lot of information crammed into one post, but now that it’s all out in the open I look forward to getting started! Timeline for completion is anticipated to be 5-6 weeks. I can’t commit to a posting schedule (partly because we’re relying on other people) but I will update as often as I can. Hope you can follow along and enjoy our newest transformation!