I Got 99 Problems But the Deck Ain’t One

Like most homes in the south our little abode has a deck in the backyard. There’s nothing really special about it…just a standard rectangle deck.  Other than the red color, there was nothing offensive about it. It’s redeeming feature was it’s size (that’s what she said). The deck spans almost the entire length of the house. So, in that regard…nice.  However, after spending some actual time living and using the deck we discovered a “usability” problem. This giant deck only had one tiny, crooked staircase to get into the yard.

Let me back up a second and explain why that’s such a big deal. The backyard is a main attraction…an oasis if you will. It’s a fenced in beauty that neighbors have actually admitted to coveting (Yeah, it’s weird). My point being, this deck was actually preventing you from really enjoying and accessing the the yard.

I mentioned it in passing to my dad. Or as he should probably be called “The Deck Master.” This man just really loves building decks…really nice decks. As I was saying, I mentioned my annoyance that there was only one way to get off the deck (unless you were willing to hurl yourself over the rail) and before I could finish he said “I’ll come over this weekend and take a look at it.” Oh, sweet. This was a bit surprising because he was so adamantly against helping us build a TV built-in. “You stick to what you know,” he said.

That weekend he came over and took a look and he didn’t seem too impressed. I could see his eyes judging its inferiority. Then, like fate he was walking down the staircase and the last step collapsed! And if you knew my dad, he’s not a big guy…muy tiny in a masculine way of course.

The Deck Master: “How the hell did this thing pass inspection?”

The Deck Master: “Look at it, it’s crooked!”

Me: “Uh, I dunno. It’s always been like that?”

The Deck Master: “We’ll have to start over.”

Me: “Ooook.” I’m gunna go inside…it’s hot.”

Honestly, I’m not sure how this conversation concluded…but I’m sure it was me going inside. Here’s a picture of the culprit. The death staircase!

CrookedStairs

Over the next couple weeks we discussed ideas for the deck. Our ideas ranged from simple. Aka, adding another set of stairs and rebuilding the crappy crooked staircase. To what evolved to the epic deck we have today. Whilst we were brainstorming my dad said:

The Deck Master: “You know what’s a shame? That stupid railing prevents you from actually seeing the yard.”

Me: “Huh, you’re right. I hadn’t thought about that.”

The Deck Master: “Why don’t we build it so it doesn’t have railings?

Me: “Duh!”

I mean look, he’s totally right. The railing totally separates the yard from the deck rather than them naturally leading into each other.

blockedView

So, he sketched out an idea…a crazy smart idea. Keeping the base/foundation and size of the deck. But instead of adding railings and 2 staircases, we were going to add a staircase around the entire deck. Brilliant! Keeping safety in mind, we added some built-in seats to prevent people from falling off the corners/ends.  Once we all agreed, we started building. By ‘we’ I mean The Deck Master and T. (Not me)

diagram

First things first…the boys got to destroy something. Their smiles were un-matched as they took a sledgehammer to the railings. In order to keep the deck usable while it was being built we decided to build it in 2 stages. First we’d tackle the left, then the right. Everything went pretty smoothly. I guess that’s what you get when you work with a Deck Master. The only tiny snafu occurred when they got to the corner (where the staircases had to connect). While they are building this section I came outside to check it out and here’s how it went down (some drama may or may not have been added):

Me: Uh, guys the corner isn’t straight.

Boys: Yes it is.

Me: Um, no. It’s not.  (This went on until the next day).

Dad: The next day. I think it is actually crooked. I was aligning it to the original deck.

Me: You mean the one that we are replacing b/c it’s crooked?

Dad: The stink-eye and a smile were given.

Boys: Man, we’re going to have to redo this WHOLE section. Tear it all out and start over.

Me: Um…

Boys: All that work and time was for nothing…DAMN.

Me: Um, guys…

Boys: We’ll have to go get so much more wood…

Me: Guys…

Boys: We’ll have to cut all these pieces and pull up all these boards.

Me: GUYS! Why can’t we just cut this little piece and just pivot the frame?

Boys: Huh.

Me: I’ll be inside if you need me.

mic drop

After this, the build continued on flawlessly…here are some in progress shots. Because there’s something so fascinating about wood framing. (Maybe that’s just me?)

inBuildDeck

I would have loved to say that nothing was harmed during this project. However, we did have casualties of construction. We lost three beautiful hostas, sad face. We tried to move them to another location…however we unknowingly handed them to the voles on a silver platter. Lets have a moment of silence for the plants that were lost.

Hostas

Ok, that’s enough. 🙂 Without further ado, here’s the new deck. Isn’t she pretty?! It’s so functional, incorporated, and modern. It really does link the house to the backyard. We couldn’t be more happy with the outcome! I mean look at it …

BeforeAfterDeck

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Color of the Year Announcement

I’m officially WAY too excited about the Color of the Year announcement. It’s like the Grammys for designers. I wish they would televise it so we could see the drama that goes on when deciding the color.

You non-nerds are probably wondering “What the heck is the Color of the Year?” I’ll fill you in, hold your horses sheesh. But before we get into that we’ve gotta talk about Pantone. Isn’t that a fun word? Pantone.

Pantone, inc. is a corporation known for its Pantone Matching System (PMS)…not to be confused with human PMS which is a totally different story. These guys are the leaders in priority color space used in printing, manufacturing, fabrics, plastics, etc. Basically, they were the first ones to standardize colors. Which is genius, because this dramatically cut down the “PERRYWINKLE vs. EGGPLANT” fights. Who’d want to be in that battle? There’s still a little lingering confusion for guys…but you can’t win em’ all right?

how_men_and_women_see_colorsBut seriously, a standardized color system that’s universally accepted completely revolutionized the printing industry.

So, each year Pantone hosts a meeting to debate and select the color for the following year. Apparently the meetings are pretty intense. Calling representatives from various industries, color experts, and color standardization groups. They all gather to determine the winning color by searching the world for influence, including: film, art, travel destinations, pop-culture, technology, economy, textures etc. Here are a few of the past colors that have been selected.

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 3.02.23 PMSecondarily, the color choice is also connects to the Zeitgesit school of thought. Meaning, it’s the intellectual influence during a particular period of time. In other words, it’s a visual representation of the saying ‘Spirit of the time.’ How fascinating, right!? For example, 2012’s “Tangerine Tango” was paired with this statement “a spirited reddish orange, continues to provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.” Making the color something you can relate to, as though it’s representing yourself and the world. Watch out, this blog just got philosophical.

This year’s color of the year is…. Emerald (PANTONE 17-5641) – Cue the confetti mortars!

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 3.16.37 PMThe fine people at Pantone define Emerald as,

“ a vivid verdant green, enhances our sense of well-being further by inspiring insight as well as promoting balance and harmony.”

Sums up the world we’re living in quite nicely doesn’t it? They go on to say,

“Since antiquity, this luminous, magnificent hue has been the color of beauty and new life in many cultures and religions. Also the color of growth, renewal and prosperity, no other color conveys regeneration more than green. For centuries, many countries have chosen green to represent healing and unity. Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.”

How can you argue with that? What a perfectly written summary describing this beautiful pigment. So, what can we expect this year? We’ll all be green with envy…because we’ll be seeing it everywhere. It’s already showing up in fashion, cars, interior design, retail and so much more. I can’t wait to incorporate this beautiful color into our home décor!

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 3.16.00 PM

“We’ll all float on alright”

I’m a huge fan of floating shelves! They are so modern, functional, classic, simple, and elegant. Floating shelves also really make your trinkets pop! While browsing the web I came across a post on Young House Love’s blog on how to build your very own floating shelves.  I won’t bore you with a detailed play-by-play. Rather you read this post for all the details on how to build them.

With my dad’s help we were able to follow the directions to create custom floating shelves for our home. I decided that I wanted 2 shelves above the buffet in the living room, and 2 shelves over the toilet in my bathroom. They turned out so great they have quickly become my favorite addition to the house yet.

Living Room Floating Shelves:
Since we moved the buffet into the living room I felt like it needed something to anchor it in the space. Floating shelves were the perfect solution because they are installed it makes the buffet seem like it belongs. Not to mention it’s a perfect place to store some fancy glassware and serving ware. Functional AND beautiful – swoon.
LivingRoomShelvesBathroom Floating Shelves:
Prior to the shelves, there was a mini storage thing attached to the bathroom wall. It wasn’t totally hideous…it just wasn’t my style. So, my first task was to remove it, patch the holes, sand the wall, and paint. I thought I did a pretty AWESOME job…if I do say so myself. You can’t event tell, look!

BathroomShelvesAfter that was completed, I was able to hang my 2 mini shelves in the same place. It really makes my trinkets really shine. Before you couldn’t even see what was in the glass case.
These shelves were surprisingly simple to install and are such a gem. Now that I have them I want floating shelves everywhere. I think I can survive for a little while with just 4…but I see more in my future.

Cha-cha-cha-changin’

One thing you can always expect is that I will constantly change my mind. (Insert Taylor rolling his eyes here). He asked me recently, “When are we going to be done with the house?” Isn’t that precious? He thinks that one day we’ll actually ‘finish’ the house and never change, update, renovate, revamp, or tweak ever again. I said to him, “If that ever happens we’ll just have to move.” I’m not sure if I saw terror or disbelief in his eyes. Maybe both?

On that note, I totally re-strategized the downstairs. The whole thing was bothering me because something about it felt ‘off’. The most difficult part about it was it wasn’t just 1 thing that I could easily fix. The whole space felt disjointed, thrown-together and otherwise confusing. And the kicker is that I ACTUALLY tried to avoid all of those things intentionally. Oh wells.

After many laps around the house, 100’s of pins, and many sleepless nights later…eureka! I had this glorious moment of clarity in the middle of the night because I’d figured out how to fix it…fix everything! So, here’s my midnight brilliance.

First up is the living room!

At first we decided to create channel seating surrounding the fireplace. There were tons of photos that made this option so homey and welcoming. However, our room is so long that this arrangement wasn’t working for me. For instance:

  • This arrangement left weird space on each side of the room. The space wasn’t quite big enough to be a full space, yet wasn’t small enough to ignore.
  • This arrangement also didn’t provide a lot of space between our TV unit and the sofa/chairs. It wasn’t impossible to get through but it wasn’t easy.
  • This arrangement didn’t leave a lot of space on the far right side of the room. This side of the room houses the kitchen table and doors to the backyard. Since we spend most of our time on that side of the room I wanted more space.

LRLayoutBeforeAfter

Without a great layout it was difficult for me to get excited about furniture, artwork, or accessories because I was constantly wondering why it felt “off.” Therefore, I knew that we had to re-evaluate the living room’s layout before I could move on. So, after some thinking we:

  1. Re-arranged the sofa and chairs. We put the sofa in front of the fireplace…GASP! I know we’re such rebels. But here’s the thing. We never use the fireplace because we live in North Carolina and it never gets that cold here. Moving the sofa opened up the room so much and makes it so much more inviting. Every time I walk in I feel like it’s saying “Hey, glad you’re home, come and sit!”
  2. Moved the chairs to the left side of the room to make a seating area. In between the chairs we put our fun little bar cart rather than a boring side table. A friend that was visiting said, “I like your little Mad Men area.” I thought that was such a perfect complement because that’s what I was going for. (I had just watched like 3 seasons back-to-back.)
  3. Moved the buffet into the room on the far left wall because we wanted the right side of the room to serve as an eating/serving area. So, obviously the buffet made sense. It actually fills that space quite nicely.
  4. Add another table to the left side of the room. Since it’s still in progress I’m keeping it a secret. So check back for more details.
  5. Lastly, the table area was originally going to consist of some banquet built-ins. However, after much thought and deliberation we decided against it. Instead we’re going to buy a little settee instead and I’m much happier with that decision.

Once we re-arranged the room totally opened up and started to feel like home. We also felt like it was closer to being ‘us’. Since we’re pretty confident on the furniture now we started hanging some pictures and art. I’ll be sure to add photos of those as we go.

Next, the dining room!

This room changes more often than a teenage girl getting ready for a first date. I think I’ve changed my mind about this room 3 times now? Yep, 3 times.

  1. Dining room – every southern girl must have a dining room to entertain dinner guests, right? Well that’s what I thought I had to do. So, when we moved in I had grand plans to create a bold yet classy dining room. Complete with dining room table, chairs, buffet and china cabinet. Since we don’t entertain tons of guests at the same time the room sat empty and sad. The only time we used the room was to pass from the stairs to the kitchen. Eventually it hit me and I thought, “Why does this room have to be a dining room? It seems like such a waste of space.” That led me to think about our house in general, which isn’t a huge home. It seemed so illogical to let such a large room sit there unused. That’s when I pitched the idea to Taylor that we turn our dining room into a music room, which of course he loved.
  2. Music Room 1.0 – Unlike myself, Taylor is a gifted musician. He can literally pick up and instrument and learn to play it quickly. I get super jelly because I’m musically challenged. But we’ve all got our gifts.  To create the space we:
    • swapped the buffet for desk so he could have a place to work on his music.
    • brought the large chair and ottoman in so he could sit and read.
    • left the china cabinet because it’s such a small piece it doesn’t look out of place.
    • hung his 3 guitars on the long wall so they’d be easy to access.
    • After about a month the whole space began to bother me again. Something about it was off because it felt jumbled and thrown together.  Then it hit me, when you come in from the front door it’s the first room you see. And what you saw was 3 large guitars, a random desk, and a china cabinet. There was no synergy to bring all these pieces together. So, I began to think….
  3. Music Room 2.0 – I still liked the idea of the music room…I just needed to figure out how to bring all the pieces together (without spending a ton of money). Here’s what we decided to do:
  • switch the desk around to the long wall (What you see when you enter the front door)
  • flank the desk with 2 Ikea bookcases. They will actually look like a built-in because they’ll fit so perfectly. This way, I’ll be able to decorate the shelves with books and trinkets rather than 3 guitars.
  • place the chair in front of the shelves on the left side along with a little lamp for reading.
  • place 1 guitar with stand on the right side of the room.

FirstFloorLayoutI’m confident that this new layout will be the one that sticks. After we’re done, I think this will be a beautiful and functional space. What more could a girl ask for?!

Kitchen 1 – Christine 0

Our kitchen has been bugging me for a while. There’s just a lot going on that I didn’t (until recently) know how to handle. When we painted the house I had 2 days to decide all the paint colors for the house. I give myself mad props that I love all of my paint selections except 1, the kitchen. Which happens to be the most pain-in-the-butt room to paint. So, when I mentioned that we’d have to repaint the kitchen Taylor gave me the stink-eye. I let it slide because I want to give myself the stink-eye.

Currently the kitchen is painted a rich espresso brown. Which is a really pretty color and I still actually like it, just not in the kitchen. Why? Because I thought the kitchen would get more light than it actually does (well it gets gorgeous light during the day…but I rarely see the house during those hours). So, most of the time it’s super dark in there and not welcoming. The reason I’ve struggled with the kitchen is because of the combos that are going on in there. The cabinets are a honey color, and the granite (yeah, nice right?) is mostly black with flecks of brown, green, and turquoise. It wouldn’t have been my first choice but it’s actually quite pretty. So, when choosing a paint color I went with the brown since it was the easy choice.

DarkKitchenSee what I mean about it looking dark? On to the changes! I decided that I needed some inspiration so I went over to the Tile Shop. I took my paint swatch sample. Using the current bathroom color (Retreat) and found a lighter version for the kitchen. It’s called Sea Salt. This way I wouldn’t be introducing a totally different color. I also took photos of the granite. Here are the options:

TileKitchen

Which option did I decide? Drum roll……

  • Option 1 – Pulling out way too much green and was leaning towards masculine to me. It was also $30 a sq. foot. MOVING ON!
  • Option 2 – was beautiful! But when I saw it with the granite it became super busy. There was too much going on in my opinion. Plus it was $24 a sq. foot. NEXT!
  • Option 3 – seemed like it was going to be too simple. However, when paired next to the granite it really amplified the colors in it. And it was $7 a sq. foot. WINNER winner chicken dinner!

With option 3 all squared away I can rest easy knowing that I’ve figured out this room. All it needed was a great tile and paint selection!

Winter Project Mash-up

Despite the lack of activity on the blog we’ve actually been quite busy this winter. With a lot of our big projects completed, we’re finally able to start working on some of the smaller details. These details are exciting because they start making a house feel like our home. I’m currently obsessed with these “Best of 2012” lists that are all over the internet. So, without further adieu, here’s the Cashwell project mash-up.

1. Type Tray Earring Holder

EarRingImageI saw tons of photos showing how people turned old type trays into jewelry holders. Guess what? I had an old type tray AND paint. So, I thought to myself, “Huh, that looks easy!” Life Tip: When you think it’s going to be easy…it won’t be.  In all honesty, this was the most complicated and frustrating DIY project that I’ve completed. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, she’s over-reacting, it’s just a little paint.” I get it, I really do…but it’s not. Here’s what went down.

  • Step 1 – Clean the tray. Using warm, lightly soapy, water I rubbed down the whole piece. Making sure I got all the dog hair, dirt, and dust out of all the nooks and crannies.
  • Step 2 – Paint coat 1 of the tray. Since, I decided I wanted a simple glossy white I didn’t need to prime it. Thank God. Do you know how long it takes to paint all those little boxes? They each have 5 faces that need painting. Lets do a little math shall we: 1 tray back + 4 tray sides + (96 boxes x 5 faces) = insanity, epic hand cramps, and tears.
  • Step 3 – Paint coat 2. Yep, you gotta do all that again!
  • Step 4 – Have a mini melt-down because you realize it needs another coat.
  • Step 5 – Paint coat 3.
  • Step 6 – Have a drink during this phase of false security while you watch your handy paint job dry.
  • Step 7 – Simply screw in the eye-hooks and hardware. I thought those little screws would just…oh I dunno, SCREW IN? Nope, they did nothing. I had a perfectly painted tray box silently crushing my will to live.
  • Step 8 – Give up. Contemplate throwing it out the window.
  • Step 9 – Get mad. Become determined to finish this stupid project because you’re not a quitter and you can’t let the tray beat you.
  • Step 10 – Drill TINY starter holes into all 96 boxes.
  • Step 11 – Buy another tiny drill bit. Why, because you snapped that drill bit in half. Yep, those spaces are small and apparently drill bits don’t bend. So….
  • Step 12 – Drill holes in all the remaining boxes.
  • Step 13 – Screw in all eye-hooks by hand. Not skipping a beat when you completely destroy your manicure.
  • Step 14 – Be half-excited when you’re done because you know it’s tainted your soul.

Even though this project wasn’t fun to complete. It’s actually really fun to use. It does exactly what I thought it would do. Having all my earrings and bracelets in one place I can quickly choose a look for the day. However, I do give it a good stink-eye from time to time.

2. Necklace holder

NecklaceImageHi, my name is Christine and I’ve got a necklace problem. I’ve got a really nice acrylic box from the container store; however, I could only fit 1/3 of them into that space. Therefore, I was only wearing the baubles that were easy to find. I knew I needed a solution that allowed me easy access to all my necklaces. After a lot research I decided on a couple of things.

  • How do I organize them? Currently, I had them organized in a box placed into individual sandwich baggies. Even though they weren’t tangled I knew that if I couldn’t see them I wouldn’t wear them. So, I decided that I’d need to hang them up some how.
  • Do I want the necklaces to be decoration? My bathroom only has one wall. So I had to choose between displaying my necklaces or something else. I decided that I didn’t want the necklaces to be on “display.” I wanted to save that precious wall space for other décor (link this to floating shelf post).

My mom found this Elfa tie organizer and I knew it was the way to go. It has tons of hooks for future purchases, the hooks are deep giving my bib necklaces plenty of space, And it was SUPER easy to hang. I decided to hang it in the closest so I can see all my necklaces but they don’t have to be the only décor element in my bathroom.

3. Stair Rail

StairRailImageOur home was built in 1984 (coincidentally the same year my hubs and I were born). It’s common for homes built during this time to have natural, or dark stained trim. Luckily, the previous owners decided to paint all the trim in the house glossy white before we got here.  However, they neglected to pain the stair rails. I’m assuming they didn’t attempt it because they are against the carpet, thus making it difficult to paint. However, I’m not thrilled with the carpet anyways. It’s rather old, lumpy, and otherwise gross. So, getting a little paint on it was the least of my worries. It was a quick win in my opinion.

We already had all the supplies:  paint, brush, and drop cloth. I gave it a few coats of high gloss white and it really makes a difference! The railing blends into the room rather than sticking out…which was my goal. We’ve still gotta paint the long hand rail up the stairs…but we’ve have to wait until it stops raining.

4. Closet Shelves

closetImageThe closet in the 3rd “bedroom” is the second largest closet in the house. So, it was pivotal for it to be functional and be able to organize our stuff. It originally only had 1 shelf about 5 ft. up with a clothes poll below it. Can you say useless?! So, we took that out and measured the space. We decided that we wanted 4 shelves total … because we’re short people and we didn’t want things on the top shelf to be literally out of reach.

Ideally there would be an Elfa shelving solution in every closet in our home. However, this is real life and I had a coupon to Lowes so that’s where we went. We spent WAY too much time deciding, changing our mind, and circling back to the beginning. We decided to go with wire shelves because:

  • Almost no need to clean
  • Easy to install
  • Inexpensive
  • Durable
  • Hold a lot of weight

Not to mention that we know we wont be in this house forever…so I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on closet shelves when we’ve got other important things to take care of. The shelves came with all the necessary hardware and a detailed instruction guide. We were able to finish the project in about an hour.

Afterwards, I popped over to Target and gathered up some clear bins. The clear bins make it really easy to find what I’m looking for. It’s not the most beautiful closet system, but it’s got great personality.

5. Coffee Table vs. Ottoman

ottomanIt became clear that we needed something in the living room. But what to get? Taylor grew up with an ottoman and I grew up with a coffee table. Talk about lives divided.
So, we talked about what we wanted our new addition to do. At first I was weary about an ottoman because I feared that it wouldn’t be as functional as a table. However, after a lot of research it turns out that I was wrong… yep, I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong.

The ottoman was actually MORE functional than a table. You can sit on it comfortably, you can rest your feet on it comfortably, they prevent clutter, and you can easily put a tray on it to accommodate the need to place something on it. Once we decided upon an ottoman I began searching for the perfect specimen. I had size, price, color, weight, comfort, and design mandatories. Me have mandatories…shocking.  I ended up deciding on a beautiful ottoman by West Elm, who in my opinion can do no wrong. It was perfect!

  • Size: Perfect 3ft x 3ft size for our house
  • Price: affordable and within budget (It helped that Christmas was around the corner)
  • Color: They had multiple colors and fabrics to choose from. I ordered swatches to help me decide upon the color
  • Weight: Not too heavy that I can’t move it and not too light that it slides around
  • Comfort: Very cushy and comfortable
  • Design: Modern with a flair of Moroccan in the leg style…love!

They didn’t sell the ottoman in stores because of the fabric options. So, I ordered her online and would be shipped between 8-10 weeks. WAIT WHAT? 2 months….sigh. It arrived in about 4 weeks…and we love it.

DIY Custom Frames

You wouldn’t be able to tell based on my excessive “DIY” pinboard. However, this project wasn’t actually meant to be a DIY project. I fully intended this to be a simple purchase, enjoy, and move on sort of thing…but sometimes you just gotta roll with it.

Now that we’ve completed most of the “big projects” I’ve started to focus my attention on adding some flair. I’m starting to think about photos, art, collectables, and decor to define “our look”. The first thing I wanted to add was a small collection of prints. My grandparent’s purchased them at the 1947 World’s Fair and I’ve been dying to display them. They are bright watercolors depicting foreign cities across the world. Out of the 9 photos, I chose four vertical photos that I wanted to frame.

A friend of mine mentioned that she was going to IKEA so I asked her to pick up some frames for me. I measured the photos and decided upon the 19×24 inch frames. I wanted a thick mat and these frames would allow 5-6 inches around the photos. I was so proud of myself. I’d decided on the artwork, I’d picked out the frames. All I had to do was pop the prints into the frames then I’d be done! We’ll, I was wrong. However, the good news is that you get to benefit from my ignorance. Let’s begin shall we?

Once home, I promptly opened the frames to lay my photos in and finish this project. However, I ran into a problem. Three mattes were white and one was off-white, WHAT THE? Not even 2 and 2! ARG. This threw a wrench in my OSD world. On to plan B.

  • PLAN B: Go to Michaels to buy mattes using my coupons.

*Skip to me rocking back-and-forth in the fetal position in Michaels* 



Of course they don’t carry metric sizes. Darn you IKEA! I love you, but this is America. Where we have measurements that make sense. I digress.

  • PLAN C: Buy mattes that are close to the correct size. Then cut them to fit.

Yes, mattes. I ended up having to buy 2 mattes for each frame because of the frame sizes. I got really large frames because I’m a fan of expansive matting. So, instead of buying 1 very expensive “custom” matte, I bought 2 so the small photos would fit in the big frames! Here’s what I did to customize my store bought mattes.

  1. Flipped the frame over and popped the backing out of the frames. **Careful not to break the thin glass. Not that I did that…ever.
  2. Using the backing of the frame, I traced it on the back of the larger matte. This showed me where I needed to cut the matte.
  3. With a nice pencil line as my guide I cut the matte by laying a large metal ruler next to the line and following it with an XACTO knife. **Note: This method won’t give you an angled look. However, I’m not a huge fan of angled mattes anyways because they seem a little outdated. Plus, they are wicked hard to cut.
  4. I cut the inner matte in the same manner because my OCD wouldn’t let me have a matte that was thicker on the sides. Right?! … anyone?
  5. Once I had both my mattes cut, I taped all three pieces together on the backside. This way I could check to make sure everything was centered and otherwise gorgeous.
  6. Once I was satisfied with the placement I popped all three pieces into the frame.
  7. Bam done!  Unless you have multiple frames…**Repeated this 4 times…fun.

The end result was well worth the effort. (As a side note…my walls are not actually indigo as these poor photos depict. They are more of a navy and I’m baffled by where this blue is coming from.)

Additionally, can you spot the dog in the photo above?! I didn’t event know she photo-bombed me until I uploaded the photo. She’s such a ninja. Below is a closer photo of the paintings which are still a bit blurry. I’m working with an iPhone camera people … cut me some slack! Aren’t they amazing?

Anywho, I decided to group the images in a block of four. Why? One being that I only had one wall that was only so big. And adding them in that arrangement made the room look taller. Bonus! So, the room that Taylor and I decided we’d decorate last is now the closest to being done.

I like big built-ins and I cannot lie

Along time ago in a far away land I was a young girl fresh out of college. I had a shiny new job and something I wasn’t used too…a regular pay check. I skipped down to hhgreg and bought myself a 47inch LED TV and sound system. Yeah. Take it all in. It was something that I wanted for myself that was probably not super useful but freeking awesome! Either way, this TV is now loved by T, so it obviously came with us to our new house.

In our townhouse we had the TV sitting on a buffet table my parents gave us. However, we wanted the buffet table to go back into the dining room along with it’s matching china cabinet. Plus, we didn’t really want the TV to sit on a piece of furniture in the new house because we love the way they look mounted.  The issue was that our house was built in 1984 and therefore not flat screen friendly. Actually there were only 2 options for possible TV placement: mounted above the mantle or on the small wall across from the fireplace.

We decided that the wall was a much better solution for a couple of reasons:

  • We didn’t want the TV to be the first thing you saw when you came in the front door
  • The mantle in our house is tall so we would’ve had to look way up
  • A big black TV on the mantle didn’t attractive and we preferred the mantle to be decorated
  • The TV was too big for the space over the mantle and looked very overwhelming

Once we decided upon a location T and his friend mounted the TV and drilled some holes in the wall to hide the wires. The look was somewhat underwhelming…

This may be the saddest “before” photo I’ve ever seen. Look at it! If this photo had a sound effect it would most definitely be “Womp Womp.”  And before you ask. Yes, that is a giant unicorn candle holder. Don’t judge, when I’m done with it it’s gunna be amazing! Anyway, as you can see we were using a small bookshelf my dad built for me in college. We crammed it with our DVD’s, equipment, remotes and sound system. It’s just plain sad. We knew we had to do something about it but what?! We considered a few options:

  • Buy a TV console unit
    • I don’t know what it is about TV consoles but they look cheap to me. Why? Even the pottery barn ones weren’t anything special but they cost 1000’s. What the what?!
  • Make/DIY a console unit out of a buffet or dresser
    • I had more luck in this department. However, the results were still not what I was going for. Another issue was that these pieces struggled to hold all that I wanted them too. Why? Because they weren’t built for this purpose. A lot would hold DVD’s but the sound system and equipment was a struggle.
  • Create a built-in
    • When I first proposed this option I thought that we’d never be able to afford it. So, I didn’t even take myself seriously at first. However, I came across this image on pinterest and there was no going back. It’s perfect. Clean, modern, simple, and had all the right stuff in the right places.

My hunt for a contractor was on. I asked my dad because he likes building things. I think our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey, you wanna help us build a TV built-in?

Dad: No, not really.

Me: Ok, good talk.

So, I guess he was out. I asked some people at work and got some names. I called and got quotes from a few people and I was shocked that this CUSTOM unit was going to cost less than a PB TV console. Yes, custom. He asked us to sketch out what we wanted and he’d build it. What?! Have I died and gone to heaven?! I was sold immediately.

Glen, our contractor, came out to our house to measure and gather design ideas. I gave him the photo above and he customized it to fit into our space. While he was there he mentioned that there was a vent on that wall that was going to prevent us from having a wall sized unit. I wasn’t having that. SO, I suggested that we move the intake vent to the other side of the stairs. He called his buddy right there and he showed up about 15 minutes later and said that it was doable. We signed the contract that night.


Over the next couple of weeks Glen worked at his home-based shop to cut, assemble, and paint sections of our unit. Once complete he contacted us to set up a time to install the built-ins.

The install was fairly smooth except for a few minor bumps. The most time consuming part of the first day was getting all the wiring figured out. All three of us drew diagrams to tame the wires. We finally agreed a few hours later. It was actually quite complicated because we didn’t want to drill a hole in each stud for thewires. So we had to work around that. We actually lost air conditioning for a day because the wires behind the unit were so short he couldn’t move it. So, we had to have a guy come out and extend the length of the wires. Sheesh. After those small setbacks he quickly attached the main pieces to the wall with only shelves, trim and touchups left to complete.

Look at that little stinker! She photobombs me all the time! Anywho, Glen came back the next day to finish off the project. He add the trim at the top of the  unit, touched up the paint, added the floorboard trim, added the shelves and wine rack, and prettied it up. And it looks AMAZING! The built-ins make the room look taller and way more sophisticated. And the best part is that it’s actually functional. We get a lot of use out of the drawers, shelves and wine rack. We couldn’t be happier with it. Glen also liked it so much he’s putting it in his portfolio. What?! If the contractor loves it you feel even better about your project! Take a look at the finished piece below.

I just threw some of our current bobbules onto the shelves to decorate. There are a lot of pices from grandparents, travels and various other memorobelia. Like this “Genie lamp from my grandmother, some books from T’s grandfather’s library along with some of our own flair.

I’m sure the items will change and flow with time. I’m hoping to spraypaint a few pieces to start having some sort of color theme in the room. Whats the color theme? Well you’ll just have to come back and find out soon! 😉

Not-So-Mini Bathroom Makeovers

If you could see our house you’d think we just moved in, and we did…9 months ago. The house is in varying degrees of disarray depending on what projects we’re working on, how busy we are, or if I’m traveling, etc. You can’t tell at the moment but Taylor and me are actually very tidy, neat, and organized people. Do you know what happens when people are forced to live in an unorganized home? Taylor and I were suffering from clutterphobia (yeah I made it up) and the side-effects are not pretty. So, we knew getting one space organized would stop our clutter nightmares. We figured out that the 3 most used rooms in our home are: the kitchen, living room and our individual bathrooms. (Sorry folks but it’s the truth.) We knew that the kitchen and living room were uphill battles but the bathrooms were relatively simple and affordable to update.

We’ll start with my bathroom since I’m telling the story. J First let me tell you that I’ve decided upon a “theme” for my bathroom.  This is always the hardest part for me because I have to commit to one style and not put everything I like into one room.  BUT I’ll give myself a pat on the back because I’m in love with the possibilities. Before I reveal the theme I’ll let you know how I got to the decision. I had some criteria that helped guide me:

  • Feminine (Not French country and fat cherub feminine)
  • Light and bright
  • Relaxing
  • Organized
  • Welcoming
  • Flow with the bedroom’s décor (since my bath is attached to the master bedroom)

I went to my old friend Pinterest for some inspiration. However, can I just say? Who has bathrooms that big!? Geeze. Anyway I found these photos and I knew what I wanted to do.

I know what you’re thinking, “a sea themed bathroom how original” but gimme a chance to explain my vision. Wow, how artsy-fartsy was that statement? Ok envision this:

  • Purple, grey, white and turquoise color palette
  • Small framed prints of coral
  • White sea pebbles
  • Floating white shelves
  • A few nice shells that I’ve found
  • Framed whale’s tooth (This is really cool. I found one on the beach recently)
  • A purple geode for texture
  • Small print of the image above
  • Accents of clear glass

That doesn’t sound too bad right? Actually it sounds quite beautiful doesn’t it? Trust me. Its gunna be quite the tiny retreat when I’m done. We’ve taken a few strides already and it’s on its way to being fabulous. So far we’ve:

  • Replaced the standard mirror with a framed one
    • We followed the same process as Taylor’s mirror update with a slight color difference. The mirror came from an old dresser that we had and it happened to be the perfect size.  We spray painted it white, strung some new wire on the back, and hung it up in place of the old standard mirror.
  • Removed the closet door and added a curtain
    • I decided to remove the closet door because when both doors were open the knobs would get locked together…causing me to go a little crazy. Plus, a curtain is much prettier than a boring door. So, I simply removed the door and it’s hardware. Bought a spring loaded curtain rod from Target. Then fed the curtain on and fastened the rod into place.
  • Adding drawer organization
    • I’ve got about 6 drawers and one cabinet under my sink. The lower drawers and cabinet were taken care of. But the top 2 drawers, that I use the most, were total chaos.  On one side I keep my daily necessities and the other houses my make-up. So, T and I went to the container store and found some nice acrylic drawer organizers.
  • Began hording cute accessories
    • I guess “we” haven’t been hoarding accessories, it’s just me. Either way with my “modern, undersea elegance” theme picked out I discovered that I actually have a lot of accessories that I can already use. I guess all those years of shell collecting finally paid off!  Check out the cute stuff I’ve found already!

    All these updates have been inexpensive and quick to accomplish. Now, my little bathroom is stress-free, more organized and well on its way to becoming a mini-retreat. This brings us to T’s bathroom makeover. The last time we saw his bathroom we had just finished updating his mirror but we recently completed a bunch more updates.  So far, we’ve:

    • Painted the sink cabinet black
      • Painting the sink cabinet made an immediate impact in this room. He wanted the bathroom to look modern and crisp and I wanted to make sure the bathroom contrasted with my bathroom while still complementing it.  So, we decided to go with a high-gloss black for the cabinet. It really pulled the room together. The grays, whites and blacks play so nicely together.  It’s also an easy color palette to add pops of color too because it’s neutral. Currently, he has green as an accent which is masculine and flows well.
    •  Replaced hardware
    • Following the gray theme we knew we wanted silver toned knobs. We found some really nice rectangle knobs at Lowes that had a brushed nickel finish. They really pop against the black cabinet.
    • Organized under the sink 
      • T mentioned that he could never find anything which made getting ready frusterating. So we were able to find some tubs, bins and acrylic trays that fit in the drawers and under the sink cabinets. A little organization makes a day-to-day use so much more enjoyable.
    • Added a glass shelf over the toilet
      • We found a small glass shelf that we loved AND it matched the hardware, Bonus! It looks great and adds a display area. T’s able to display some accessories that help give this room personality.
    • Replaced Light fixture in the bathroom
      • This is the one addition we are most proud of. We’re mostly proud that we didn’t electrocute ourselves. But we’re also proud that we did it on our own. It was really simple to replace.
      • Cut the power to the room (Thank goodness it was in the directions. Or we probably wouldn’t have thought about it.)
      • Unscrewed the old fixture and we found some HOT wallpaper hiding underneath.
      • Unhooked the wires from the old fixture
      • Attached the new fixture to the wires. The wires were color coded so it was really simple to figure out which wires went where
      • Mounted the new fixture over the existing mount
      • Little putty, sanding, paint and BAM. Done. (See how excited he is!?)

    All of our hard work has paid off! We’ve only got a few little tweaks until we can stamp this room as DONE. We’d like to move the shower curtain up, add a light above the shower, paint the trim around the sink and add some accessories. The small updates have made such a huge difference in this room. It’s nice to know that a little truly does go a long way.

Mini Bathroom Makeover

Before we moved out of our townhome I half-jokingly mentioned that I’d love to have “his and hers” bathrooms. Well friends that dream has become a reality…and it’s AWESOME! He doesn’t have to deal with “all my potions” and I don’t have to deal with his sink whiskers.  It’s quite possibly the smartest thing we’ve done for our marriage 😉

We live in a home that was built in the 80’s so the “master bath” isn’t huge. It’s basically the same size as the other bath upstairs. The only major difference is the master bath has a small towel closet in it. Anywho, I took the master bath and the Mr. took the hall bath. Let me mention that the hall bath is literally right next to the master bath, so don’t feel too bad.

Well since the previous owners obviously shared the master bath that one had a few upgrades while the hall bath was overlooked, sad face! Well it was time to give poor T some upgrades, and we did!

We took a mirror that I bought from Goodwill and spray painted it black. We wanted to replace the boring standard mirror that came with the house. It was actually a really simple process:

Look, that little stinker photo-bombed by picture! 🙂

  1. Wiped down the mirror with a light soapy water
  2. Sanded it a bit to smooth out any imperfections
  3. Masked off the mirror with tape and newspaper
  4. Applied 2 coats of matte black spray paint (Rustoleum)
  5. Let the paint dry. Then removed the tape and paper

And here’s another angle! It feels good to be able to redo an old piece and put it to good use.

You may have noticed those strange holes right under the mirror. Those are the previous mirror’s hardware. So, we’ll have to putty and paint them to totally complete this project. However, we’re going to wait until we paint a mirror for my bathroom. We’re sure we’ll have the same issue in there and we only want to putty/paint once (luckily both bathrooms are the same color). We still have a lot of things in mind for this little bathroom, but we’re making progress!