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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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!

Growing up, Mr. Jack was always around. He taught my dad a whole lot of what he knew about building and carpentry – knowledge he subsequently used to help us on our new house.

2014-02-26 17.21.15

Mr. Jack came over one night after work to help us with the challenge of crown molding around the awesome fireplace Dad had built. I hadn’t seen him in awhile and it was nice to catch up with an old friend and introduce him to my husband and MIL.

Mr. Jack, you will be very missed, and every time I look at the beautiful crown molding in my living room, I’ll think of you.

Happy weekend, friends…

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!


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.


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.



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.





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.


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!

Hello friends! I’m sorry I suddenly went AWOL. Between small biz ownership, wedding season, a largely DIY home renovation, and packing for the move, something had to give.


Since we’d spent every waking moment at the new house over the past five weeks, there hadn’t been much moving prep to speak of. So on Thursday, after a late night of “final” painting work Wednesday, we had planned to box up the apartment. Unfortunately we discovered in a trip to the new place that that our ceiling touch up paint in the new kitchen was not successful – you could totally see it – and found ourselves repainting the whole ceiling instead. Luckily we’re kind of pros at that now. So Thursday was another late night packing.

We moved in on Friday and, with the help of the great team at Sure Load Moving, were able to get almost everything to the new place on that day.

Let the unpacking commence.

Unpacking is much more fun than packing, although the not-fun part was that, for the same reason the apartment wasn’t packed, I was wwaayy behind on laundry. I think I spent all day Saturday doing laundry, but I didn’t mind too much. It gave me a chance to spend a little time with this house of ours.

The past few days we’ve been able to settle in a bit more and try to get used to house-living as opposed to apartment-living. There are definitely differences that I had kind of forgotten — although I grew up in a house, I haven’t lived in one really since I was 18.

The first and only thing to get hung on the wall so far is my vintage key hook I brought back from our last Paris trip, because it is WAY harder to find your keys in a house I’ve discovered. Plus, I haven’t hung this in any of our houses before, and it’s just so wonderfully symbolic, isn’t it?

I actually purchased it on New Year’s Eve 2012, right before attending an amazing concert at Sainte Chappelle in Paris, and I dumbly bought it forgetting I would have to carry it through security. Somehow they didn’t even stop me, and I’m not really sure how I feel about that..? Either way, it has a great story and I’m excited to be able to find my keys!

Stay tuned for new cards, house pics, DIY tutorials, and messes in the kitchen…hurray for normal life again!

1. You’re wearing your paint colors. No matter how hard you try, you find little flecks of paint on your hands, legs, and just about everywhere.


2. Dinner most nights is something like this: two granola bars, some baby carrots, in bed, at 11:30.

3. You haven’t seen friends who don’t caulk, paint, scrape, etc. in weeks.


4. The site of a real, live, non-folding, clean chair in your living room just about makes you want to cry, except you’re too dirty to sit in it.

5. Even when you have managed to wrap up the evening before everything closed, food delivered to your table and not to your car window is a distant memory.


I kid, but seriously, this renovating thing is no joke. We are having such a great time and making stuff never gets old – seeing what a little hard work and elbow grease can do is an amazing feeling. Especially when you spend so much time working on computers nowadays. But all that said, I could do with a plain old hangout and watch a bunch of TV day soon.

This week is moving week and I can hardly believe it. It really has been a blur. Last night we put three barstools and my two new chairs in the house and it is starting to feel the tiniest bit real. But it is going to be very weird to stop going over to the house to work and just live in the house.

Only four days to move…ahh! Happy Monday friends!

We are in such a time vortex right now. I am in utter amazement that it’s been only 16 days since we took over the house, but at the same time, it feels like we’ve done so much and I can’t really comprehend how. Hardly a night has gone by that we haven’t come home from work and headed right to the house, and we have spent the entirety of the last three weekends painting, scraping, ripping, assembling, and you-name-it at our new address.

So needless to say, before this whirlwind officially began, I spent a lot of time poking around and dreaming up the look. I thought today – in celebration of starting to see light at the end of the tunnel – I’d share some fun home decor picks I’ve been saving around the interweb.


I just love the look of these linen pillowcases. Don’t they look so cozy and homey?


We know how I feel about marble. Love these authentic vintage bookends – we are so fortunate to have lots of awesome built-ins in the house and I can’t wait to fill them up with fun things like these.


This clock would look awesome on the accent wall. So unique and fun.


I think the hexagonal shape of this cute end table is unique but the materials are still classic. And again with the marble!


Obsessed with this color and I love the simple type of course. This Etsy shop is adorable – you should definitely check it out!


This pocket storage set up is awesome in the stripes and would be so good in a mudroom or laundry room.

Enjoy & happy Monday!

baltic linens | vintage marble equestrian bookends | wood starburst clock | hexagon side table | dreaming pillow | wall storage

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.


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!

So far, renovations are going well. Cabinets were installed this week and they will be measured for counter tops too. I can’t wait to see it come together.

This weekend will be all about tile & trim. Since we re-did the drywall in the living room, that means we have to put all the baseboard and molding back. We’re ready to do tile prep + actual tiling on the fireplace, but the back splash will have to wait until counter tops are actually installed next week.

Either way, that means it’s decision time. I made most of the decisions pretty quickly and well ahead of time – in part because we had to – but tile was near the end of the list timeline wise and easier to purchase (less lead time). As my design icon Candice Olson always used to say, tile and lighting are a bit like the “jewelry” in the room – such an opportunity to really pull everything together and make it sparkle.


So it’s one of the few things that’s still TBD. Have you looked at tile lately? My goodness there are just so many incredible options. Of course, budget is a somewhat helpful limiting factor, but today I just thought we would “ooh” and “ahh” at some of the amazing inspiration out there.

Since I didn’t do white marble counter tops (darn you practicality!), I don’t know that I’ll be able to resist a white marble for something at least. We’ll see where this path takes us I suppose!

all photos sourced from my pinterest board: beautiful tile