before & after: the living room

Over a year ago, not long after I started this blog, I posted about the current state of our living room.

Living Before 1

It has been a gradual process but since then we’ve slowly transformed it to a lighter and brighter space that’s more reflective of our style.  Following are photos of the living room as it stands today.  I’m pretty happy with how it’s turned out, and while there are a couple little odds and ends that still need tweaking, it’s nearly there.  I’ll post a source list at the end for anyone interested.

The area that had the biggest transformation is the fireplace.  We painted the mantel in Behr’s Ivory Mist to match the crown molding and make it a crisp blank slate against which I could add rotating pops of color over time.


Then Devin re-tiled the hearth with slate in a beautiful herringbone pattern.  I am so in love with the hearth.  Sadly, I somehow lost all of the progress photos I took of Devin working on it so there won’t be a step by step post, but if you have any questions on how he did it, feel free to contact me and we’ll do our best to answer them.

I fell in love with West Elm’s Gem Mirror and scored it on clearance at our local branch.  I flanked it with some favorite art prints and a couple accessories to complete the mantel.


We swapped the rocking chair to the left of the fireplace out with one of the cane back hollywood regency chairs I scored at a flea market awhile back.  I STILL haven’t gotten a chance to paint and reupholster them, but it’s definitely near the top of my to do list.


The awkward space above the TV needed SOMETHING, but not a distracting painting that would make that wall too busy.  Against Devin’s wishes I brought home a papier-mache deer head from West Elm to try out in the space.  As tends to happen around these parts, Devin doubted me at first but upon seeing it up there for a couple of days, it grew on him, and we decided to keep it.  Meet Hank.  I love how he has a smirk on his face…cheeky bastard.



Lastly on that side of the room, we took down the wooden display box to the left of the fireplace and replaced with one of my favorite Mark Rothko prints mounted on wood.  I really love the variety of colors and textures along this side of the room now.


The ikat curtains that I made finish out the room nicely.  As do the two dogs sleeping on their bed 🙂


I added a vintage brass bamboo tray and brass trinket box along with some favorite books to the coffee table.


We collected the small pieces of coral in the trinket box on the beach in Paa Mul, Mexico on our honeymoon.



I added throw pillows in varying patterns to add some color and interest to the couch.



Lastly we swapped out the old collage frames on the wall above the Expedit bookcase with a mini gallery wall, and I restyled the top of the bookcase.



The quatrefoil tray is from Target, and it was originally a bland tan color which I spray painted over in gold.


This old metal toy truck belonged to Devin’s uncle when he was a kid.  I love its simple lines.


Aside from redoing the hollywood regency chair next to the fireplace, the other small to do is to replace the three framed prints above the side table.  With what, I’m not sure yet but when I see it I’ll know.


Here are a few more detail shots.





Lastly for comparison, here are some before and after shots.




If you’ve made it through the influx of photos thus far, I commend you!  We spend the most time in the living room of any room in the house, and we love what a bright and cheery space it is now.


Source List:

  • Mark Rothko art prints
  • Etsy: infinite love art print, brass bamboo tray, brass and glass trinket box, chevron throw pillow
  • Pier One Imports: recycled glass vases
  • West Elm: gem mirror, papier-mache deer head, diamond ikat throw pillow
  • Target: ram head, chevron urns, gold vase, yellow throw pillow, big piece of coral, quatrefoil tray
  • HomeGoods: small recycled glass vase on mantel, gold and silver notebooks on coffee table, blanket
  • Ikea: Expedit bookcase and storage baskets
  • Ross: garden stool, frames
  • Caroline Wright: paint drip art print on mantel
  • High Street Market: gold wishbone
  • Flea markets / garage sales: wire egg basket, hobnail vase, vintage Big Ben clock
  • DIY: ikat curtains, ikat throw pillow, herringbone hearth



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before & after: painted house exterior

The thing about short work weeks is that while it’s fantastic to have an extra day off, that also means that all of the work that was supposed to be done in five days still needs to be done in four days.  Which equates to a crazy short work week.   Add to that two long evenings of helping my sister move and what you get is my not having written a post since last Friday.  Ah well, better late than never eh?

I’ve finally taken some photos of the house exterior, though it’s not quite done and won’t be for some time.  Because “done” to me means:

  1. Spray painting the door hardware
  2. Choosing a new light fixture for the front porch
  3. Building a wooden railing and banister for the front porch
  4. Get a new front door
  5. Get a new roof

Those are in order of “most likely to happen fairly soon” to “maybe once our unborn child goes to college.”  As many of you homeowners may know, getting a new roof ain’t cheap.  We’re not talking about adding another layer of shingles on top of what’s already there.  We’re talking rip the whole enchilada out and start afresh.  The roof doesn’t leak (thankfully) so it’s not the greatest sense of urgency.  Though it’s become much more obvious now that the rest of the house looks nice and refreshed that the roof is pretty sad.  Whenever we do take the plunge, we’ll replace the brown shingles with some crisp dark gray ones.

Here’s the house before. (This was also before we put the front island in.)

I don’t even know what you’d call that color.  Pale pink?  Blush?  Whatever you call it, it was pretty BLAH.

Now, Devin and I have been talking about painting the house for the last three years.  It’s taken us THAT LONG to agree on a color.  Hey, don’t look at me.  Look at my fiance aka THE MOST INDECISIVE MAN IN THE HISTORY OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE.  We’d settle on a color, then he’d be all “Eh, I don’t know about that one anymore…it’s too brown/gray/blue/green/light/dark, let’s go look at more paint colors.”  Repeat eleventy hundred times.

We finally settled on Behr’s Fashion Gray for the walls, Graceful Gray for the accent and Gallery White for the trim around the windows and doors. The shutters and front door are Myth, also by Behr.

What do you think?

I love the blue of the shutters we made against the new wall color.  They look so much better than the old white louvered ones.

You can see that we also tore out the wrought iron railing that used to be on the porch, which as mentioned above we’ll be replacing with a wood railing soon eventually.

We debated for days about whether the window and door trim should be the Gallery White or the Graceful Gray like the peak and the garage door.  My vote was for white, Devin’s was for the gray.  I knew I was right, but let him have his way and we had the trim painted the lighter gray.  After which, he decided it was too much gray and not enough contrast (as I knew it would be), so then we had it painted over again with the white.

I’m not going to say “I told him so”…

…but I did. 🙂

By the way, that little sliver in the front curtain in all of the photos would be Echo trying to see what was going on outside WITHOUT HER HOW DARE I.

I neglected to take a before photo of the front door, but it was a light cedar wood.  I HATE the carved detailing in the center and wanted to fill it in with wood filler, but everyone warned us that it would still show through so I settled on just painting it for now.  Eventually I’d love to get a nice craftsman style door with maybe some windows across the top.

As you’ll see, no light fixture yet since we haven’t decided on one.  I like one on Lamps Plus, but I’m still trying to sell Devin on it because he doesn’t like that the glass is clear.  Give me a little bit of time :).

I also need to brighten up the porch with a couple accessories and need to spray the hardware with some oil-rubbed bronze (which is why the knocker is already removed).  I think it’ll really make it pop against the blue.

The copper rain chain was a gift from Devin’s dad and stepmom.

We’re pretty happy with the results.  Even Mr. Indecisive now comments every time we come home that “the house looks nice.”  Hallelujah.



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DIY board and batten shutters

The repainting of our house exterior is almost done…just need to finish painting the garage and front doors and update the hardware for the front door, and I’ll be ready to share it!  Devin and I spent this past weekend making new board and batten shutters for the front window to replace our old, sad looking louvered ones.

It was a fairly simple project, though in hindsight there is one thing we would have changed which I’ll note later in this post.  I based the measurements off of our old shutters, though if you don’t have those to reference, ideally the height should be the same as the height of your window (including the frame) and the width of each shutter should be half the width of the window.

Our old shutters measured 21 1/4″ wide x 55 1/4″ tall, though we ended up going with shutters that were slightly narrower than the old ones.  I wanted each shutter to have five boards across, spaced out just enough to see the definition between the boards.  Knowing this, I calculated that we’d need five 1″ x 4″ x 10″ boards, each cut down to two 1″ x 4″ x 55 1/4″ (with excess) for a total of 10 vertical boards.  Then for the cross boards, we needed  one 1″ x 3″ x 8′ board cut down to four 1″ x 3″ x 24″ for a total of 4 cross boards with room to trim down once we had the final width decided (pending the spacing).

Supplies Purchased

  • Five 1″ x 4″ x 10′ redwood boards
  • One 1″ x 3″ x 8′ redwood board
  • 1 1/4″ wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • 2 1/2″ wood screws
  • Anchors
  • Exterior wood putty / spackle
  • Paint

Tools Used

  • Measuring tape/pencil
  • Putty knife
  • Caulking gun
  • Masonry bit
  • Drill
  • Impact driver
  • Miter Saw
  • Clamps

We had Home Depot cut the boards down for us since they do it for free, and we don’t have much room in the garage right now to set up a big workspace due to the renovation going on in there.  Plus, you should know by now about me and shortcuts :).

First we primed and painted all of the boards on all sides.  We decided to paint them all before assembly since it would be hard to paint the spaces between the boards once they were all screwed together.  We also purposely decided that we wanted to use the rough side of the boards for the front of the shutters to give them a slightly rustic look.

The paint color is Myth by Behr in exterior semi-gloss.  It’s the same color that we painted the front door, and I LOVE it to bits and pieces.

Originally we tried to use paint sticks to keep the spaces even between the boards, but these little cork things worked better.  I have no idea what they’re for, but Devin had them on hand.

So we laid out the boards five across with a spacer on both ends.

Then Devin clamped the boards together nice and snug.

For the cross boards, we decided to place them 8″ from the top and bottom, so Devin marked off where they needed to go, then cut the cross boards down to the correct width using his miter saw.

Next we put glue on the back of the first cross board, then while I held it in place Devin started screwing the cross board into the vertical boards, two screws for each board.

It wasn’t until after we were already halfway done with the first shutter that we realized we could’ve just screwed from the BACK of the vertical boards into the crossboard, thus eliminating the need to fill the screw holes.  Ah well…now I know…for the NEXT time we make shutters, whenever that is ha.

Once all of the shutters were assembled, we removed our spacers, then filled the screw holes with spackle and let it dry.  Once the spackle was dry, we painted over the spackled spots and touched up everywhere else.

Then it was time to hang them.  I won’t lie.  Hanging them wasn’t my favorite part…and it’s definitely a two person job (hence no photos of this phase).

First, Devin drilled pilot holes into the four corners of the shutter.  Then with me holding the shutter up in place, Devin stood on a ladder and used a masonry bit to drill through each pilot hole and predrill into the stucco.

Next, he tapped anchors into the four predrilled holes.  Then I held up the shutter again, lining up the pilot holes to the anchors while he screwed the shutter in place.

Good times people, good times.  HOWEVER.  The end result was well worth it.  We still have to fill the holes in the four corners, but they’re looking good.

I love the natural imperfections in the wood. (Please excuse the large plant with the flower stalk in the way.)

We both agree that they’re a vast improvement over the old shutters.

Stay tuned to see the rest of the exterior, hopefully later this week!

*UPDATE:  You can see the rest of the painted house exterior here. *



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before & after: the bathroom

The bathroom facelift is finally done, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.  What was supposed to be a weekend project turned into a few days due to a mishap with the light fixture.  It all turned out for the better though!

Just to remind you, here are some before pictures:

Sayonara turquoise walls.  Hello calming gray.

Come a little closer, don’t be shy…

Doesn’t it look so much brighter already?  If you peek to the right at the doorway the shower is directly to your right with the bath tub on the far end.

The cranberry towels were ones we had already and are from Bed Bath & Beyond.  The rug was a gift and is also from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Above the tub, we hung the sunburst mirror from Target that I spray painted with Rust-Oleum’s Cranberry in Gloss.

I’m really happy with how it all turned out.

The floating shelves are from Home Depot.  I was initially hesitant about buying them because they got pretty mediocre reviews on Home Depot’s website.  People commented that they were pretty flimsy and couldn’t hold much weight.  I took a chance and got them anyway because I like the profile and trim on these moreso than any other floating shelves I could find.  There is truth to the reviews.  The mounting hardware isn’t the most supportive.  Also oddly, I had two of the exact same shelf but one had a metal bracket that mounted to the wall and that the shelf slid onto, while the other had a long wood block that screwed into the wall and then you screwed the shelf onto the block.  Weird.

At any rate, they hold what I have on them just fine, and I’m not concerned about them.  I just wouldn’t recommend putting anything too heavy on them.  At that price point, I think they’re totally worth it, especially for the dimension that the shape adds to the room.

Just to give you some perspective on how small our bathroom is, I literally stood wedged into the far corner of the bathtub to get this shot.  It’s my favorite one of the whole room.

If you look slightly to the left, you see the new medicine cabinet and light fixture, both from Lowe’s.

We were limited in what we could put over the sink because 1. We needed a medicine cabinet and not just a mirror because we didn’t want to lose that storage and 2. The opening for the old medicine cabinet was pretty narrow and we needed to stay within those measurements so that we didn’t have to move the outlet.  At any rate, I’m happy with the one we chose.

The brushed nickel knob plays well off of the light fixture and other brushed nickel accessories.

I love, LOVE the light fixture.  It was a happy accident that the first one didn’t work out because I feel like this one really works in modernizing the 1940s tile.

I especially like that the shades are rounded squares and have a second frosted glass shade within them.  Really brings some depth to the fixture.

If you look back over your shoulder, to the left of the door is the shower stall.  Gotta love that dated tile!  Ah well, at least the color looks classier against the pale gray walls.

To complete the 360 degree tour, if you turn left from here, you’re directly in front of the tub with the sunburst mirror above it.

The paint color is Sterling in Behr’s Paint & Primer In One in semi-gloss.  The trim color is Behr’s Ivory Mist in semi-gloss.

If you’re wondering about the other accessories…

The candle and glass pillar holder are from Target.

The metal basket holding the washcloths is from HomeGoods, as are the glass containers.

I love the curved ridges in the glass.  I actually found these in the kitchen section on a shelf full of various glass containers for storing food, but they’re perfect for a bathroom too.

I found the gray quatrefoil patterned towels at HomeGoods last month (mentioned here) and the tissue box cover was on clearance at Target (score!).

This white frame was on clearance at HomeGoods (can you tell what my favorite store is?) and the art inside is actually a section of Pottery Barn’s Bettina fabric.  I scored a good amount of the fabric from Ebay which I plan on making some throw pillows out of (note: one may or may not be for a future giveaway!).  I scanned over the fabric with the mat to choose a section I liked and then cut the fabric to size and taped it to the back of the mat.  Instant custom art!

The bathroom feels much more serene and is so calming now.  I mentioned before that when Devin first saw the newly painted walls, he said that it looked sort of boring.  Now that everything’s all done, he concedes that it’s a huge improvement.  Last night after I put the finishing touches on it, he looked around and said “A+ babe…looks great.”

Maybe I should rename this blog “Christine is Always Right.”  Has a certain ring to it :).

I considered maybe adding a roman shade in a complimentary fabric to the window, like the one I made for the kitchen.  While it would add another pop of color to that side, I’d hate to lose all of the light that comes in through that window.  It’s hard to tell from the photos, but it’s a privacy window so the light gets diffused nicely.  What do you think?

Other than that, the only other thing I want to add is a new soap dispenser which I’ll be making and posting about next week.

This facelift was long overdue but worth the wait.  Every time I’ve walked by the bathroom since we finished it, I can’t help peeking in there just to say hi haha.

Not sure why the tile reads so much bluer in the before pic, but the color is really more like the gray in the after picture.

I’m going to go check on my bathroom now :).



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before & after: stackable filing cabinet

You may remember me mentioning the worn yellow filing cabinet that I scored from an estate sale.

Now that I have the green light to make over the office, we finally pulled this baby out of storage, wiped off the dust and got to work.  As I mentioned previously, the paint job on the filing cabinet was horrendous.

Paint drips everywhere, paint on the hardware, inconsistent coverage and on and on.

We removed all of the hardware and we sanded…

…and sanded…

…and sanded some more.  It was no small job, and I was grateful that Devin offered to help.

I thought he’d never admit it, but he actually said, “You know, I think I could get into this with you.”  “This” meaning revamping furniture.  You are all my witnesses.  Those words actually came out of his mouth.

After the neverending sanding spree, I carefully wiped down all of the cabinets and drawers with a slightly damp rag, then wiped everything down again with a dry rag.

I actually kind of liked the distressed, shabby camouflage vibe it took on after sanding.

But that’s not the look I’m going for in the office, so I went ahead with my original plan.  Since this was a large metal piece, I decided that spray paint was the way to go.

After a couple very light coats of primer, things started looking a little less yellow around these parts.

Then two coats of Rust-Oleum’s Heirloom White later, the cabinet was looking positively invigorated.

My original plan was to top it off with two coats of Rust-Oleum’s Clear Satin spray, but when I was done, I wasn’t happy with the uneven finish on the top and sides.  I’ve heard that this is a common problem with spray painting larger surfaces.  The color coverage was complete and even, but from every angle you could see blotchy spots.

To remedy the situation, I finished the filing cabinet off with a few thin coats of Varathane’s water based clear polyurethane in a gloss finish.

It did the trick!  Not only does the cabinet have a smooth, even finish, it’s now super protected against any wear and tear it’ll get in the office.

I love how it turned out…and so does Devin, who admitted that he was glad I didn’t listen to him when he told me to “get rid of that thing taking up space and gathering dust at the shop!”  Hehe…what else is new?   (Note: since I still need to find replacements for some broken pulls, I’ve left the bottom row out of these “after” photos.)

I’m glad that I decided to keep the hardware silver instead of trying to paint it brass to match the campaign desk and dresser.  It looks great against the white.

At first, I planned to just freshen the hardware up with some satin nickel spray paint, but when I tested the spray on one of the broken pulls, it was too dark for my taste.  So instead, Devin polished them up with a rotary brush and then sprayed them with clear satin for good measure.

I’m also really happy that I went with a gloss finish for the poly because the sheen really makes the cabinet pop.

You can even see reflections in the top!  Hurrah for no more blotches!

I can’t wait to see how it looks in the office against the pale blue walls….but that will have to wait until we get all of the junk out of there :).

I love how crisp and clean it looks.  Now I just have to plan out what I’m going to store in the drawers so I can print up some nice labels for the pulls.

Devin thinks I shouldn’t be so literal about it and should just label the drawers with cheery, abstract words like “happiness” and “love”…who knew he was so whimsical?  I suppose I’ll wait and see how I feel about it once I actually start putting things in there.

First piece of furniture for the office makeover done!



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