During our renovation planning, we had big goals for the kitchen and living room, but the rest of the spaces we were mostly looking to spruce up with fresh paint and fixtures. In the dining room, there was a chair rail existing already, and I decided I really wanted to create more of the feel of moulding by painting the bottom out white and adding some “boxes.” Now that we have a table and chairs in there, too, I am so pleased with how that space has turned out.

So here’s where we started…this is the listing photo and also two photos I snapped.

1

First of all, there was a door in between the kitchen and dining room which, in our relatively small living area, made no sense. So we got rid of that. Late one night when we were already so very, very tired, we started painting the top half of the dining room. Bye bye yellow…hello lovely light gray-blue. The new color is called “North Star.”

2

A little further on in the project, I painted out the bottom half of the walls in a nice bright white. I think I did two coats of it pre-moulding.

3

The moulding we created out of half round, which is really inexpensive and readily available. I measured and drew out all of the boxes carefully. The easiest way I found was to decide how much drop you wanted from the chair rail (I did 4″), do the same on the bottom, and then take each wall individually as far as how wide the boxes are. Things like outlets and trim will have a lot to do with determining that. Once I had them all drawn out, Dad was on the saw and R and I were on leveling and nail gun duty.

4

Here’s how it looked after we finished painting the half round, replaced the light, and the floors were redone. About the old light — I know I know, it’s not that bad of a light. But it was super dark and very very yellow (especially when you turned it on) and I just felt like it was so in-congruent with the restful, sophisticated sort of look I was trying to create. So when the right light appeared in front of me and was well priced, we snatched it up.

5

It stayed that way – empty – for about the first three months we’ve been here. Luckily we ended up finding a beautiful dining room table that I know we’ll have for many many years. We really wanted to invest in a piece that wasn’t going anywhere for awhile and wouldn’t fall apart when we moved (cough, cough, IKEA). We paired it with simple white Parson’s chairs.

6

I’m still missing artwork on all the other walls, but that will come in time I’m sure. In the meantime, it’s a really bright and cheerful space that I love looking in on. I think the addition of the moulding and the new light really make it!

I’ve written before about how a fresh coat of white paint almost always does the trick, but in this case, it was a fresh coat of black paint. When we moved in to our house, we painted all the walls except for one guest bathroom (which I’m making plans for, don’t you worry). Many of the doors and trim still need some work – you never notice how chipped and rough looking those details can become after years of wear and tear.

So on an incredibly hot and 1000% humidity (extra 0 intended, if you were here you know what I mean) Saturday, we decided to work on the front door. It was white, along with all the trim around it, which felt kind of blah and you could really see all the scuff marks and wear from a high traffic area. Terrible relaxers that we are, we put on the music and started painting.

Black-door-2

So here’s the before and the in-the-middle..

door-before

Before we moved, I had painted the handrail of the bannister black, so it was a nice tie-in to that and provided some much needed contrast.

black-door-1

Photographing black is hard, especially when it seems to be backlit every hour of the day! Oh well, you get the idea :-) I’ll try to blog some more of our house adventures soon. Happy weekend!

It’s been three weeks since my last post, and what a busy and fun-filled three weeks it’s been!

babyshower-2

I had the honor of co-hosting a baby shower for a dear friend a few weeks ago, and it was a first in so many ways: her first baby, my first baby shower hostessing experience, our first “large” gathering in our new home. It was also fun for me to engage in some of the other parts of party planning which I don’t see as often – food, entertainment, and decorating. Of course, the paper part was a given for me, and baby Luke already has his very own custom monogram.

babyshower-1

Jeni’s sister, Lizabee, and I teamed up to make fun bunting out of paper and fabric. Lizabee also came up with and set up the adorable onesie decorating station which was a big hit with our very creative guest list. I was also lucky to have my mother in law there to help us with all those last minute details and she also brought along some yummy tea sandwiches.

The inspiration was the idea of “tea for the tot,” so we did a “tea bar” in my mom’s antique baby bath. It was the perfect place to ice down some pretty glass bottles of different teas. I also experimented with making lavender simple syrup, which was a first, and it actually turned out pretty well I think. Little sugar cubes and lemons rounded out the tea bar. We also did a “signature drink” – a delicious and very pretty cucumber sangria.

babyshower-3

Here I am with the mother-to-be and my fellow host…

babyshower-4

It was such a fun day, and so nice to have so many good friends in our new home. Special thanks to the ever-talented Monica of Sablee who made our yummy scones and cupcakes too! Also, thank you to Jordan Tate, one of the new mama’s friends whom I was so happy to meet, and who is a very talented photographer and took these photos while I ran around like a crazy lady ;-)

..here she is in the old apartment, hanging out the in the background…

after

…in the background no more, because she is RED!

redtable

It’s funny how you can have not enough furniture or too much furniture or just the wrong furniture. Because my dad and I built this table together for my first apartment way back during my sophomore year of college, it’s not one I really wanted to get rid of, but it also somehow doesn’t fit anywhere in the house.

R came up with the genius idea that it would be an excellent serving table on the porch we love so much. Since the rocking chairs went blue with cheery red and white pillows, what better than to to have a bright UGA red serving table?

If anything, we are definitely ready for Fourth of July. :-)

We have really settled into homeowner life and I must say, it agrees with me. I’ve always been someone who much prefers a good book and a bowl of popcorn or a movie night at home to being out on the town, so having a little more space all to ourselves is just the thing.

With this wonderful warm weather, it’s also been a lot of fun to dive into “yard work.” I know it seems weird to call that fun, but isn’t it funny how as you grow up, tasks like that become so much less of an issue? I remember how, as a kid, it was the worst thing ever for my mom to tell me I had to vacuum the stairs or help in the yard,. While it may not always be my first choice of activity, I take a lot of pleasure in taking care of my life and home nowadays.

hydrangea

My green thumb is still developing. Batting 50% on these little vincas. Hopefully the beautiful blue hydrangeas and lorepedalum (I’m learning the names of all sorts of flowers and shrubs all of a sudden) will do better in the front yard.

vinca

The other fantastical thing about having a house is the grill. We got one a few weeks ago and we’ve had all kinds of fun with it already. Over Memorial Day weekend, we even tried out grilling pizza which, in my view, was a smashing success. There was something so nice and smoky it added to the crust, and it was so quick to make which was fantastic too. But my all time favorite grilling item: zucchini. It’s delicious. Try it.

Things are quiet around the blog, I know, but that’s because they are so busy in the studio. My previous estimate of program fans was grossly wrong – we will make closer to 2,000 during May and June. Coupled with all the awesome Fall weddings we are gearing up to make invitations for, it’s one giant paper party around here. Stay tuned for many sneak peeks and follow on Instagram for the on-the-go updates.

How was your Memorial Day weekend?

When we moved into the new house, we inherited some old porch furniture from the previous owners which we were more than happy to accept, not really having any of our own. Our move coincided beautifully with the arrival of spring, so the porch has quickly become one of my very favorite parts of the house. It’s no wonder then, that I sit out there and dream up ways to make it better.

before

While the rocking chairs were fine like they were, the cushions were so faded and tired and I just thought a fresh coat of paint would really make them feel a little less like a free old pair of rocking chairs. In my head, I saw a vivid, smooth, lacquer-like bright yellow to really punch it up in our sea of wooden porch + furniture. I bought a couple cans of spray paint and got to work.

Unfortunately, my best laid plans quickly shattered. After two coats of yellow spray paint, I was left with this monstrosity.

horribleyellow

Holey moley that does not look like I imagined it. My best guess is that the wood was so dry and completely unsealed that it just sucked the paint right up, and I was left with the grain showing through in a very pronounced way that made the yellow look dirty and blotchy.

That’s about when Robert started wondering allowed if anyone’s ever sued Pinterest for giving them bad ideas. Determinedly, I decided I would not end on a Pinterest fail, and instead I’d embark on the rescue mission.

The guy at the Lowe’s paint counter gave me the insightful advice that I might just need to do a new color. Yellow is apparently a notoriously hard color when it comes to paint. Lesson learned. So the weekend before last, I got out the plethora of flat white paint we still have from our renovation, a paintbrush, and set to work “resetting” the rocking chairs. Let me tell you, it takes awhile to paint something with so many rungs and nooks and crannies by hand.

byebyeyellow

Bye bye yellow.

Once I did that and let it dry overnight, I moved onto the new color: dark blue. I landed on it because it’s a color I like and also I knew that it would hide the grain if it still insisted on rising up and creating dark spots. The contrast would be a lot lower. So here we go…

timeforblue

Tip: painting rocking chairs is an obnoxious task if you don’t prevent them from rocking. Some old 2×2’s made a good “platform” of sorts and also made it easier to paint the bottom edges / keep it off the plastic.

Thankfully, this plan seemed to work better than the first go round.

finishedchairs-web

So we are now the proud owners of the most thoroughly painted yellow-white-blue old rocking chairs ever. I am glad I did it because they are so cheerful now, but I sure didn’t set out thinking it was going to be a two week project. Has that ever happened to you?

Over the weekend, I finally started playing with the most-fun part of moving: accessorizing! All of our bigger pieces have been in their places since we moved in, but all those little touches take longer to find their way. Art, books, knick knacks…that’s the really fun part.

beautiful fireplace

I have to confess that this beautiful fireplace intimidates me a bit. It is so gorgeous in its own right that I hardly wanted to put anything on it. But when your husband asks when you’re going to do something with the fireplace, you know it must need something :-)

Especially after the move and renovation and all the expense associated with that, I knew I wasn’t ready to commit to buying anything major for this, especially when I have a 100% empty dining room waiting for furniture. For some reason I have been kind obsessed with greenery and boxwood wreaths and topiaries lately, and the color scheme of the house is mostly deep grays, navy, and green, so it seemed like a good place to start.

I found these fun little vase fillers at Pier 1 along with that really freaking cute potted topiary. I guess it’s still a topiary even though it’s not on a stem? Beats me, I like it.

Out came the botanical prints I had gotten for that pesky corner of the apartment, and I think the combination of accessories and prints bring some nice life and color to the molding. Still very simple though, which I love. It’ll do for now!

tileinhouse

I had left off the first fireplace post before addressing the surround, so I’ll just say this — there was going to be white marble in the house somewhere, and the fireplace was the most logical place for it to go. No concerns about wear and tear since it’s a gas fireplace and plus it’s not a huge area which helps on the bottom line.

I did first buy marble subway tile before changing my mind and going with the small sheets of marble tile. I’m really glad I did. It was easier to install and I love the effect of the grades of color. One thing to note when buying sheets of natural stone tile – LOOK AT EVERY SINGLE SHEET! I made two or three trips to Lowe’s before I got sheets that looked good together – some were really uniform, some almost all gray, etc., and if you don’t get that right, you will be able to tell they are sheets. Definitely worth spending some time with that. Otherwise, tile is a messy but not too complicated job. Thanks Dad.

My best laid plans to practice my photography skills and take photos of the house died with the camera battery, so perhaps one day this week I’ll manage to have the battery charger and the camera in the same location. I can’t wait to share photos of what we did in the kitchen and the other little projects going on. Have a wonderful Wednesday friends!

I am in love with this gorgeous fireplace, and completely unable to comprehend that it’s in my house. Photographic evidence of the splendid-ness provided by Seastar Arts…

Almost Done-5

I remember when we first toured the house and how the realtor and R both were a little surprised at how strongly I disliked the existing fireplace. It was, in fact, a fireplace, which I loved, but it kind of ended there.

before photo

First of all, I really don’t like yellow-y wood tones. Secondly, pairing yellow-y wood with black granite tiles is a no-go in my world and, even though I know I’m no photographer, it just made the whole thing a black hole. Thirdly, the surround is not EVEN and goodness gracious how that would have driven me crazy. Fourth, it’s too tall for the space. The mantle was obviously a find from somewhere else that was thrown into this room, but the living room is really not very big and has your standard 8′ ceilings. The scale is off all the way around.

Originally, I budgeted for and planned to paint the mantle and change out the tile. I also thought about adding some paneling above to take it to the ceiling. All of that changed when we decided that the fake paneling had to go, though.

photo-1

In order to rip the paneling out, the tile had to come off, which is not an easy feat. The mantle was actually held up by two nails (really?!) and laid OVER the tile. So I was pretty glad we pulled it down.

In all honesty, we could have just put the mantle back up, I know. But once you had a raw room with all those possibilities….and once you’ve spent two weeks babying drywall into becoming beautifully smooth walls….it just didn’t feel right.

photo-2

drawin

So out came the drawing board.

Luckily, my dad and husband were around this whole time and tolerated my crazy. Let’s be honest though, the three of us together are sort of like the Energizer Bunny or something – all very intense people who want things done right, aren’t afraid to figure it out, and will not quit (even when it’s good for us).

With the rough plan drawn up, we started wandering around Lowe’s to determine how we were going to build this thing. My dad has built lots of things before and R and I were lucky to get to learn from him. All in all, the mantle is made from a combination of 1×4’s, 1×6’s, 1×2’s, etc. that we bought off the shelf at Lowe’s.

 

 

photo-5

unnamed

If you break it down, it’s really quite simple in its geometry, but the effect of creating the “raised panels” makes it feel higher end (I hope). Also, I had been determined since the beginning to bring it all the way to the ceiling.

fireplace2

I think that’s probably enough rambling for today. We’ll get into part two – tile surround – in the next post…happy Friday + happy weekend!

With a project like this, there are bound to be some unexpected detours and mishaps along the way. Luckily we haven’t had anything major, but a few have come up and taught us a thing or two.

renovation-mishaps

There was deciding to take the fake paneling down and discovering that some knucklehead GLUED it to the STUDS of the house. Subsequently spending several nights grinding Liquid Nails off the studs so we could put drywall on it and have it be even (seems good, right?).

There was finding the window was not installed that well, fixing it, and then being happy about fixing it and accidentally breaking it in the excitement.

There was that time when I climbed down the ladder and stuck my favorite running shoe into a can of white paint. And the cabinet installer very kindly helped me, and then sheepishly said, “first time I’ve seen that one!” Yes, my clumsiness is kind of on another level.

In case you ever find yourself in that unlikely situation, I did manage to save them by very quickly hosing them off and immediately washing them following these instructions.

I am sure there are many more bloopers to come, but hopefully we can keep it to a minimum. We are heading into weekend three and are nearly halfway there! Very exciting to start to see some of the finishes come together.

Happy weekend friends!

It occurred to me over the weekend that I really haven’t done a good job actually sharing what we are doing to our new home. So today I thought we would go over the menu.

20140216-222609.jpg

We bought a home built in the 1970s that was moderately updated but not all the way by any means.

One of the the great things about the house is that, in the early 2000s, a major renovation was done to open the living room to the kitchen and also to add a very nice master suite. Additionally, they put in some lighting in the main living areas during that time. And the final big plus: wood floors throughout the entire downstairs.

Otherwise, in the kitchen, the cabinets were original and not in a “saveable” condition. The tile countertops were a 90’s black granite tile with wood trim. The appliances were definitely on their way out.

There were some popcorn ceilings in the upstairs and the wood floors needed to be refinished. Overall, a good fresh coat of paint was needed all over, and you know I couldn’t go without changing colors anyway. A lot of the light fixtures were pretty fabulously 80s too.

So, that’s what our general list and plan has been for the last few months, of course with a lot of other boring homeowner-y fix-it things too. Some things we’ve hired people for but a lot of them we’re doing ourselves. As we get further into the renovation, the list definitely evolves, such as deciding to go all sheetrock ninja and remove wood paneling.

20140216-221039.jpg

This past weekend we finally got to start painting that beautifully sanded drywall on which we worked so hard. So far I’m completely in love with the paint colors.

The other big thing was the fireplace. My very awesome dad was willing to help with this project. Of course I had a drawing all worked out of the moulding panels and mantel I wanted, and he made it happen lickety-split.

20140216-220941.jpg

Yay, more painting!

This week, kitchen cabinets go in. I am so excited about that! It will be amazing to see them real live and in color after all of our agonizing and planning.

Happy Monday!