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new year, new updates

Happy New Year, everyone!!!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season.  I’m seriously looking forward to 2017, despite our current, ummm, political situation.  I’ll be turning 40 this summer (gulp) and hope that 2017 brings a lot of positive growth and changes.  Blogging took a backseat during the long holiday season but we were still working on projects around here so there’s plenty to update you about and of course talk about 2017 projects.

This is a ridiculously long post, so buckle up.

The Living Room
The goal was to finish this room before our holiday soiree in mid-December….and we managed to pull it off!  Last time I shared our progress, we had just painted the floor and the newly-battened walls but the fireplace mantel hadn’t been built yet.


Designing and building the mantel was a major team effort with my husband, especially since we had zero experience and the design/trim was basically eye-balled from looks I loved.  Liking the look of something is one thing but executing it is quite another.  We  pulled this one out of thin air.  What trim do we get?  How do we build the layers of trimwork so it looks classy and not like inexperienced idiots (that’s us) slapped it together?  A lot of math, engineering, and freaky wood cuts went into this but the outcome is totally worth it.

First we built a flat wood base that encompassed the space the mantel would take up. Then we added the trim on top of that, along with the mantel shelf and dentil crown molding trim underneath.



Not too shabby.



This room is big and furnishing it will take time.  Plus I’m still trying to figure out what to furnish it with.  Most of it seems like pointless space.  Take this side of the room…..sorry this is the old  pic, I didn’t take a full view updated one….



We don’t really need a second seating area back there, so I’m thinking maybe two tall bookcases flanking the window with articulating arm sconces above them and a round, skirted table in the bay.  ???  The bay window isn’t full height so that nixes the option of curtains, which is why I like the idea of bringing in fabric with the skirted table to soften things.

Something like Maura’s room.


However, on the other side of the room I can totally picture pinched pleat linen curtains with this curtain rod from PB.  But would it be weird to have an asymmetrical curtain situation going on?




Let’s not talk about the TV situation (yes it’s from 1985, yes it was free, yes it’s covered in stickers) and this terrible over-lit picture.


It’s embarrassing.  I swear 2017 will be the year we come out of the dark ages.  Something like zees (French Kiss reference).


The Powder Room
For the past two years I’ve blabbed that we’re going to renovate the powder room during the next round of ORC.  But of course it hasn’t happened yet.  Basically we’re reluctant to spend money on this room when the tile – although YELLOW- is in perfect condition and there are so many other more pressing projects around here (i.e. fogged up, broken seal windows; wonky electrical issues, etc).  Zap.

Here’s the room the day we moved in.  Trust me, in person, the wallpaper was dingy and gross.  Not Anthro at all.

yellow bath

After stripping the wallpaper two years ago (and ditching the yellow toilet), I did nothing but prime the walls, thinking we’d renovate “soon.”  Since we’ve now decided to hold off on the renovation till 2018, I realized that the walls needed more than primer in the meantime.  Painting them black seemed like a good way to balance the sweetness of all that yellow.  We also knocked out that pointless vanity.



Lots of black and white art to come on these walls and a bamboo bookcase in that nook.

The Office
This is really flexible space and the way we use it will probably change over time.  We used it as an office (and loved having dedicated space for that) until the living room renovation happened at which point we moved the sofa, armchairs and TV in there.  That turned out to be super cozy, especially during the warmer months since the screen porch is right off it.

Notice the weird scalloped 1950’s trim.  It needs to die.


Anyhoo, the other side of the room looks like this.  Den central designed for a ginormous TV.  Hi, ceiling fan.  Also die.


Long term, this built-in probably needs to be re-built but for now we’re going to work with it, see how things pan out.  Painting it is a must, likely BM Polo Blue.  Not the green you see tested on the side.  Oh and the green toile wallpaper stays of course.


Again, inspiration by Maura.  If you’re not following her IG account, you’re missing out.


We need to finish painting the trim and doors in this room too, once my husband muds and sands the ceiling from our tear down of the scallop trim.  Spoiler alert, that did not go smoothly.  The ceiling behind the trim is a different height than the rest of it.  In part because, according to our neighbors, this ceiling was re-done around the trim, after the bathtub upstairs fell through the rotting ceiling.  So glad we weren’t here for that.


Phew, well that’s all for now.  Bless your heart if you’re still reading this tome of a post.  Lots going on here in 2017.    Thanks for your all support, dear readers of this lil’ blog.



living room renovation update

It’s been 5 weeks since we started tearing up the living room and we’re finally in the home stretch.  Well, I say that with optimism because the hardest part is still ahead of us – building the mantel.

Let’s revisit the oh-so-glamorous BEFORE.


What I imagine a fireplace in Trump’s lair looks like.


And here’s where we stand this morning.


Please ignore the mediocre pics in this post.  It’s been cloudy for like a week and I just finished painting the subfloor last night so I didn’t want to walk on it.  It’s hard to photograph a room you can’t actually go into… 730am on a cloudy morning.

The Walls
It took a while to patch the many problems on the walls, including the former pointless cubbies.


After lots of mudding and sanding and clean up, we were finally ready to add our batten wall treatments.  This room is too big for my taste (and furniture stash) so I wanted to bring the walls “in” somehow.  Adding texture would make the room seem smaller and cozier, more like a library than a bowling alley.

Initially I was thinking shiplap but then I worried it would be too busy.  Plus even faux shiplap like we did the mudroom would get costly in a room this size.  Floor to ceiling battens were the way to go.  Subtle texture that wouldn’t break the bank.


You can see in this pic I’d started roller-ing on the wall color – BM China White in eggshell finish.


For the battens, we bought two 4’x8′ sheets of 1/4” hardwood plywood ($13 each) and ripped them down to 2” wide strips with a band saw.  A lot of math later, we were air nailing the battens every 22”.


The Fireplace
I swear we stared at the green marble colossus for a week, trying to figure out what to do.  Somebody cemented those slabs on real good and we worried that demo-ing it would open an expensive can of worms, possibly compromise the fireplace and get us in over our heads.  Not to mention that slate slabs for the fireplace surround turned out to be super spenny.  Then I found these black slate 12″x 24″ tiles at Home Depot.


The color and texture was perfect and with the straight edge on the tile, I thought we could lay them over the marble without grout lines and they’d look like slabs of slate. ???  It couldn’t get uglier so we decided to give it a go.

To rough up the surround and make sure the thinset and tile would stick, we took a diamond blade grinder to the marble.  Hideous green marble.  Hideous.  Nobody panic, everybody breath.


Then we laid the tile, using as few cuts as possible in the most visually logical layout possible.


I love it.  You can still see the lines where the tiles meet but that makes a bit rustic and gives the eye a break, instead of just a cube o’tile.

The Floor
Last night, I finally painted the floor which was so satisfying after all the prep work.  I used Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor paint in Urbane Bronze.





Now….to build the mantel.  Here’s the direction we’re heading.  Simple dentil molding mantel.  The mantel will be painted the same color as all the trim – BM China semi-gloss finish.


We’re almost there!!!  And then the kids want to mantel to look like this for Halloween.

CLX100116_106country living

What do you guys think?  Do you miss the green marble and seafoam carpet?  😉




good bye, seafoam nightmare

As summer winds down, we’re plotting what house projects to knock off the list this fall.  Keeping in mind the cost, bang for our buck, longevity, cozy factor going into winter, etc.  Luckily we still have plenty of heinous rooms to choose from.  What rose to the top of the heap though is….our embarrassing living room.  The seafoam bowling alley.

Here it is the day we moved in.  Shudder.


We stripped the wallpaper off this past Christmas to reveal seriously funky walls.  Not sure what that smoke/dust is….


Call me crazy but this room is too big, right?  I don’t have the furniture for this action.  You can see the retro step-down to the living room on the right here.



It doesn’t help that our temporary living room in the office is cozy as hell.


My husband and kids keep asking if we can keep the TV and sofa in here.  But my suspicion is, if we have a den, we’ll never set foot in the living room again.



So we can’t abandon the living room.  We gotta make this work.

First up – add faux board and batten treatment to the walls from floor to ceiling.

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28172001d985cb1eac71580ee7ff6564lauren liess

As for color, I’m planning to paint the walls and trim the same off-white.  BM Sea Pearl is my top choice right now.

sea pearl

Or a tad lighter with BM Cloud Cover.

cloud cover

But I’m leaning towards the more saturated Sea Pearl.  ???

These pointless wall alcoves are getting the sledgehammer.  The designers kindly recessed them into the wall (Liz Lemon eye roll) so we’ll have two huge holes to seamlessly patch with drywall.  Good times.


I’m planning to put the TV on a dresser or sideboard in this spot and build a gallery wall around it.

8e669061aab86d3be33f8f890848a157alison piepmeyer

Next up is the fireplace – it’s the focal point of the room and desperately needs a face lift.  Also this fireplace wall is soooo long and totally without architecture.



No more green marble and chintzy mantle.  I’m picturing a classic mantle with dentil trim and charcoal slate surround.

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8b87b2f9824096cf1684e9fb8f235269my domaine

70dbc0326df47cc061ad12d36a1d67c5L. Kae Interiors

I’ve picked out this mirror for over the fireplace.



Now, to annihilate the seafoam carpet.


As many of you know, hardwood floors are unfortunately NOT hidden under the green carpet in the living room.  We had a similar situation in the dining room and decided to paint the subfloor while saving up for hardwood floors. We’ll do the same treatment in the living room and stick with the same color too (BM Aegean Olive).


For floor covering, I want something neutral and cozy and have been going cross-eyed researching jute rugs.  It has to be affordable, not filled with dust and shedding fibers, and have a cool weave that looks expensive.  A tall order.  But I think I found a winner with the Maui braided jute rug from Rugs USA.


Our coffee table situation is shaping up nicely too.  I scored a vintage Ming-style coffee table off Craigslist for $40 bucks.


The top was a wreck though, like a honey badger had been at it, but nothing wood putty and sanding couldn’t take care of.  I’m putting oil based primer on tonight and then it’ll get a few coats of BM Advance in semi-gloss White Dove.

There are sooooo many decisions to make in the living room!  Furniture, curtains, bamboo blinds, lighting, art.  This is a huge space and we basically have nothing to fill it with.

What do you think about plans so far?  How would you fill this room up?  Make it look cozy, collected, lived-in.  Demi lune tables flanking the fireplace with oversize art above them?  Console table behind the sofa?  I need your sage wisdom, guys.