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a fireplace makeover {part one}

I’ve been holding out on you.

Last November we finally tackled our fireplace and gave it a makeover.

I completely love it.

Except like with most projects we do, indecision on the final detail set in and then life just kept going. Which brings us to today – seven months later – with a nearly completed fireplace makeover.

I was going to wait until the whole thing was finished and do a big TA DA! Before & After! but I’m thinking maybe some in-the-process photos are just as fun as the big reveal. And by posting this today, it will hopefully give me the motivation to get this last step finished so I can share the completed look {hopefully next week}.

First, let me remind you of what our fireplace has looked like for the past six years.

Except pretend the tv is not there because it only lived up there for a few months before we came to our senses and realized that it was way to huge and obnoxious to hang front and center in our main living room.

A few things about the fireplace:

It was fine.

But we never could understand the little notches on either side, or the niche in the center and we didn’t like the tile surround. The mantle was fine, maybe a little more detailed than I would choose, but it looked a bit funky with all those extra corners on the dry wall.

We brainstormed for months about what to do to make the fireplace either stand out and become the focal point of the room, or blend in and simplify things.


Finally, one day last November, with our brothers and sisters-in-laws over for a leisurely saturday afternoon, we decided on a whim to just tear the fireplace apart. Don’t worry – we had a plan – but we didn’t know until that afternoon that we were actually going to do that plan.


Down came the mantle.


Out came the tile. The guys decided it was just easier to cut the tile out and re-drywall. Pulling off the tile would have damaged the drywall so much they probably would have had to replace it anyway.


We already put the two built-ins on either side of the fireplace, and we just wanted a chunky, clean mantle to run across the fireplace visually joining all three sections together. Ryan built a simple box, then added a top piece and trimmed it out with pre-made molding.


Nothing fancy, but it gave us the substantial mantle we wanted.

Next came the kinda crazy part: we decided to wrap the top portion of the fireplace wall with cedar shingles. We were thinking we’d do wide horizontal planks, but when our friend suggested shingles, we both instantly loved the idea.  It’s totally unexpected, adds lots of texture, but still remains slightly neutral and gives us a sort of cottagy/outdoorsy look.

Random, for sure, but this room needed something interesting.

To get started, Ryan attached cedar strips of wood {lath} directly to the wall where the shingles would be nailed in.


Once those were up along one side, we couldn’t help ourselves and started nailing in a few shingles just to make sure we loved it.


{this was day two. Ryan’s brother & sister-in-law went home, my aunt & uncle came over. It was a revolving door of helpers}.

Yes! Love! So they kept going … filling in that terrible niche and wrapping the chimney with those little boards.


Later that night when family had gone home, a few neighbor friends stopped by to see the progress and we somehow talked them into helping.


These final three worked late into the evening and finished up the shingles. I’m not exactly sure what their system was, but they were quick. I think we had two compressors and two nail guns going at a time.


When we decided to go with shingles, Ryan jokingly suggested mounting an elk head and I thought it was a brilliant idea. He was so shocked, he ordered one right away before I could change my mind.


The stag head came from Restoration Hardware and is resin that looks like cast iron.


We were so excited with how it turned out.

Once the shingles were up, we had to decide what to do with the fireplace surround.

        I’ll call that Fireplace Makeover part two.  Stay tuned …

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solution to kitchen counter clutter

No matter how hard I try, the kitchen counter just seems to collect clutter.


Paperwork, receipts, mail, sunglasses, random toys, cords, ipads, phones … it all accumulates right here.


Ryan suggested that we find some sort of organizer to sort this mess.

Then he went to the thrift store and found this beauty:


He totally inherited his mom’s knack for finding good things in the midst of junk.

The 70′s wood grain side panels were a bit much, so I took it outside and sprayed the whole thing green – partially because it is a fun color, partially because it was all we had.



I’m not always a great spraypainter, but this one actually turned out great. The key is making sure there is no dust or dirt on the item, shaking the can for a long time, then spraying one pass at a time, releasing the spray nozzle each time. I did several light coats {letting each one dry for a few minutes} and it came out smooth and without major drip marks.

Now here it sits on the kitchen counter, organizing all of that kitchen counter clutter.


I’m not sure if that basket will stay, and I will probably tire of the green and spray it white, but for now it serves its purpose of corralling the clutter.


The random paperwork, receipts, cords, sunglasses are all still there, they’re just a bit more organized.


If you can’t find a funky 70′s metal organizer with faux wood stickers on the sides at your local thrift store, I have found a few great options available online:


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Here’s to practical solutions for the inevitable clutter.

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my dirty little secret

I’m coming clean today …


this is what the closet under our stairs looks like.

I try to keep it organized, but it just doesn’t keep. It’s where we store our vacuum, but also where we keep extra picture frames, accessories, lamp shades, pillows, paper, half-finished projects, a broken printer. The best thing about it is that I can close the door and forget this madness exists.


So I’m wondering … do you have a space like this in your home that you’d never dare show your guests, and you cringe every time you see it, but you do nothing to change it?

Come clean, my friends. Come clean.

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wallpapering with gift wrap {tutorial}

I often get an idea in my mind for a room {like, wallpaper for the back wall of the laundry room} and I search and search for what my imagination pictures.  Sometimes I find what I’m looking for; most of the time I don’t. Or maybe I find it, but it is way beyond my budget.

Which is why I am a DIYer.

And it’s also why I used giftwrap on my laundry room walls instead of real wallpaper.

The idea was originally executed in the nursery with my very favorite metallic peony gift wrap. I had searched for a real wallpaper that was similar and never could find it, so I ordered a stack of gift wrap and glued it to her bedroom wall.  This was all done before I began blogging {which means no photos} so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you how I did it this second time around in our laundry room.


Before we begin, here’s the most important tip: use thick paper.

The thinner the paper, the more likely it will wrinkle and look funky. My friend tried wallpapering a closet wall with a cute roll of glossy giftwrap and it did not work. So do your best to find thick paper without a sheen. And if you can find one with a repeat pattern or a random one that you don’t need to match up {like in Audrey’s room}, this project will go much more smoothly.

Okay, so let’s talk about what you’ll need:


:: gift wrap {either sheet or roll}. remember: thick!
:: wallpaper paste {I ordered this as my hardware stores do not carry wallpaper paste}
:: foam roller, tray, foam brush
:: scissors, pencil, exacto knife
:: clean rag
:: optional but helpful: yardstick, glue dots, squeegee

STEP ONE: tack up your first section of paper using glue dots {or an extra set of hands}. Roughly pencil any areas that need to be trimmed, being sure to leave a few inches overlap to be precisely trimmed later.


STEP TWO: roll a thin coat of wallpaper paste to the top section of paper and adhere to wall, smoothing with hands, clean rag or squeegee.


Continue to add paste in sections going down the length of the paper. I ended up just rolling it onto the wall and then pressing the paper down.

STEP THREE: trim around edges using an exacto knife


STEP FOUR: secure all edges with a foam brush and paste {this was easier than the roller for little areas}


STEP FIVE: Once your first piece is up, you can add the next piece – matching the pattern at the seam.


You can see the wrinkles in the photo above. Once the paper dried, most worked themselves out. There are a few remaining air pockets, but they are hardly noticeable.



I used this wrapping paper from Paper Source.

The wall in this room took about 1 1/2 rolls of paper.

The project from start to finish took about 3 hours.

I love how it turned out.


Questions? Please ask and I’ll gladly answer!

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laundry room idea board

Like most large households, ours produces a massive amount of laundry. And like most moms, doing that laundry is far from my favorite task.

I have found in my limited research that most laundry-doers fall into one of these categories:

1. you are forced to do laundry when you realize the kids are out of underwear. You have laundry-palooza and wash/dry/fold/put away 83 loads in one day.

. . . or . . .

2. you wash and dry as things get dirty, but are left with wrinkly clothes that sit mounded in baskets/your guest bed/your floor for days {or sometimes weeks} on end.  When the mountain can get no larger {or the kids complain that they can’t find any clean underwear} you spend four hours folding in front of some highly intelligent tv show like the Bachelor or Housewives of BH.

Am I right?

Unless you are my mom and find great joy in doing laundry and search the house for things that might possibly need washing just so you can do another load.

I’m not kidding. She’s crazy. In a good way.

Anyway …

I’m ready to change my ways and be a little more like my mama. Or at least reduce the elevation of my weekly mountains.

Most people would create a schedule or system to make things easier, or enlist their children to help. Not me. When in doubt, I redecorate.

Let me explain …

Here’s what my laundry room looks like today:


It’s a nice enough space – long and skinny, but plenty of room to move around. It’s light, conveniently located in our house {upstairs} and we bought a new washer & dryer last year that we are very happy with {top loading washer}.


The cabinets are reused from our kitchen {ugliest finish ever}, the laundry bins are random rubbermaid totes, and the wire shelf holds clutter. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for a clean, functional laundry room with plenty of storage {the washer was on our back porch in our old house and I was too scared of rodents to go out there half the time}, but I’m thinking that maybe if it was functional AND pretty, I would be more interested in spending time in the room. It may be a faulty theory, but I’m going to give it a shot.

Here’s what I’m thinking:


1. It all started with the rug. West Elm was having a rug sale and I just couldn’t pass this one up. While I usually steer clear from bold color, the laundry room seems like the perfect place to go for it.

2. Next came the idea to paper the back wall using my favorite gift wrap. I did this technique in the nursery, so I figured it would work again in here.

3. The butterfly print is from IKEA – it tones down the color while still being a pretty focal point. I’m thinking it will go along the left wall.

4. I will for sure paint the cabinets white and would like to replace the wire shelf with one or two wood ones. I still have to think about the hanging-clothes issue.

5. The chippy dresser will stay for now. I have no other place for it and actually think it could work in the room once everything else is looking good.

6. Time to upgrade from rubbermaid totes for dirty laundry bins – the cute gingham ones will come in the mail this week. Not sure what the material is like, but hoping they will work.

7. Let’s talk about that striped bin. Is it not the cutest? Also coming this week and very excited.

So that’s the plan. I’ll keep you posted …


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how switching out lights can make a big difference

Like most homes built in the last 10 years, every single ceiling light fixture in our house looked like this when we moved in:


Admittedly, it’s not the worst light fixture in the history of light fixtures, but it’s pretty boring.

One simple way to update a space and add style and interest is by switching out the ceiling light.  Over the past six years, we’ve slowly accumulated new fixtures for each room {only a few more to go} and it does make a difference. We have kept all of the original lights because when we sell, we will most likely take many of these with us.  Here are a few of our lights:

I installed this entry light all by myself. Nearly shocked myself in the process, but all worked out fine in the end.


The beaded fixture was a recent find at home depot. {right here}

In my office, I recovered a hanging drum shade in IKEA fabric, added bias tape to finish the edges and it definitely adds more personality to the space.


For a similar fixture, try searching for drum shade pendant {or choose this one}

We recently stole the crystal chandelier from the dining room and put it in our bedroom.


The scale is better in here and it makes the space a bit more glamorous.  I adore this chandelier – mostly because it came from our first home in Seattle – a teensy, run-down 1920′s craftsman. This light fixture was maybe the only thing worth keeping in that house.

In it’s place, we hung this giant rectangular fixture over our dining table.


It is from Restoration Hardware {we found ours at the outlet store for a steal!}.

This little light in our kitchen is a favorite due to its great industrial style and its low price tag.


The Ottava pendant lamp from IKEA.  I sort of want to wire in two more for a set of three over the kitchen table. A clear Edison bulb looks great in it.

My mom found this vintage chandelier at an estate sale and I sprayed it glossy black for Audrey’s nursery.


And put a bird on it.

If you are looking to update the lighting in your home, some great resources are:

Ballard Designs {I’m smitten with this and this}

Barn Light Electric {this one is next on my list for the boys’ room}

IKEA {this is cute}

PotteryBarn Teen {this one is fun. So is this}

and if your budget allows, Circa lighting always has great options.

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details of the giant hanging window in our entry/dining room

It’s one of the most unique {and coolest, if you ask me} things in our house: this oversize salvaged window hanging from a barn door track that separates the entry from the dining room.

I’ve never really blogged about it. What?! Sorry for the oversight.

Adding the window to the opening between the rooms accomplished exactly what we wanted … it created a definition of spaces, but also keeps things bright and open. Plus it adds personality to our ordinary home. That’s our favorite part.

From the front door, you can still see through into the dining room and beyond.

We found the perfect window at our favorite local salvage yard {Second Use – for you local Seattle-ites} for about $80.

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