Showing off Angela

Friday, August 29, 2014 0 comments

Happy Friday to you all! Whoot! Any fun plans this holiday weekend? I’m hoping to get to the pool one last time and get some more done in the family room. Otherwise nothing big planned here. 

Today I’m sharing a blogger who is actually a friend of mine – and the funny thing is we live near each other have some mutual friends but only met when we attended a paint workshop together years ago.

It’s so nice to have friends close by who you can talk “blog” with sometimes. :) Angela’s blog is called Unexpected Elegance and her home is beeeautiful. I think you’ll agree. She has mad decorating skills and makes it all look effortless.

Her kitchen (with pot filler!) is so pretty and classic:

pot filler above oven

And I just noticed we have the same chandelier in our kitchens:

weathered table and chairs

Told you she has good taste. ;) I love every single piece of decor in her home. Every one!

I love that Angela knows how to decorate but isn’t afraid to tackle DIY projects too. You may notice the door in the photo above. She took a regular hollow core door and made it into a Dutch door:

DIY dutch door

THAT is the kind of stuff I love. Taking what you have and making it an interesting and unique spot in your home.

She uses a lot of vintage finds in her home – she used to sell painted furniture and decor and I ALWAYS found something I had to have at her booth. I love how she used a barn door and some old legs to make this pretty table in her mud room:

stacking washer and dryer

She made a small area work really well when she made over that space.

So this one was one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen yet – creating that vintage stamped look on wood by using wax paper

wax paper transfer unexepected elegance

It makes sense when you go read and it is WAY easier than trying to paint all the words. Brilliant!!

Angela’s style is soft and light with lot of wood tones and it works so well together. Not only is her dining room table beautifully styled, but she made it herself:

DIY zinc table

She used a beautiful old base and then made her own zinc tabletop. It is SO cool. I’m not sure I’d have to guts to tackle that one but it looks so good I’d consider it. ;) 

Lovely right? You can see more of Angela’s beautiful home here. It will be great reading while you relax this holiday weekend – I hope there’s some relaxing in there for all of you!

Have a great one and I’ll see you next week!

Simple decorating

Thursday, August 28, 2014 0 comments

Hello there! I got to thinking after my last post about the trip to Better Homes and Gardens -- how one of the editors made things look so effortless. She threw together a few different centerpiece ideas for us in minutes, just using regular plates and items from the store and nature. Fruit and pinecones showed up a lot. :)

Simple decor really resonates with me – it’s one of the reasons I write this blog. A lot of the DIY projects I do are hard work and take some skill, but most of the decor in our home is simple and quick. It doesn’t need to take a lot of money or time to make pretty little spots around your home! I took a look around the family room and kitchen to share a few of my favorite simple ideas.

I get comments on my corks and candle often: 

simple decorating -- corks around candle

The vase was from HomeGoods (but I’ve also purchased similar containers at Goodwill) and I just plopped a candle inside and filled around it with wine corks. I didn't drink all that wine – just some. ;) I bought a bunch of the corks off Ebay a long time ago and still have some to play with.

If you follow me on Instagram you saw this one recently: 

simple decorating -- plants in pitchers

The vintage pitchers were $15 for the set at a local antique shop – I stuffed some plastic shopping bags down inside the bigger two and then placed the plants in. The small one holds an air plant. I LOVE the combo of the white and green! As I type this I’m noticing that most of these examples have green in them. Interesting. It gives a room life for sure!

I saw this simple idea on a blog and can’t remember which one it is! I’ve had the vintage baguette tray hanging on the wall for years and never really loved it there. The fake apples were sitting in a basket above the cabinets. Together it’s totally cute and EASY: 

simple decorating -- apples on tray

I don’t know where I got those apples but I’ve had them forever. They are SO REAL looking. They’re heaving like real apples too. They fool everybody. And you don’t need a vintage anything – a wood tray lined up with them would look just as pretty.

I love our pantry area – as you can tell I love to put plants in things other than just pots. I think it adds some interest – this one is a old crock:

simple decor -- boxwood wreath

And I hung that boxwood wreath up last spring and it’s never come down! I just wrapped some burlap around it to hang it and then nailed that into the top of the door. Bonus is that it works for Christmas too. ;)

All of these are easy and quick! To me it’s about looking at things in a different way – and taking inspiration from blogs. ;) Do you have any simple decorating tricks? Feel free to link some if you’d like.

**To find more info on the pantry door, go here.

Better Homes and Gardens tour

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 0 comments

Hello all! Oh my goodness, I have been so excited to tell you about the trip I took a couple weeks ago. I was approached by Better Homes and Gardens recently asking if I wanted to help promote their products at Walmart and then TAKE A TRIP TO THE BHG HEADQUARTERS.

Uh. Yes, I would like to take a trip to the Better Homes and Gardens headquarters, thank you very much. It is an honor and I’m so excited about this partnership:


I took a TON of pictures and this is only half of them – but still a lot of pics! The headquarters are located in Des Moines Iowa – which is really weird because the only two times I’ve stayed in Iowa in my life were this summer.

They truly went all out for us:

BHG bloggers

We got to see so many of their current and future products and in addition got a grand tour of the facilities. It was so fun.

Nancy Hopkins, the food and entertaining editor, gave us a beautiful presentation in one of their test kitchens:

BHG headquarters

Do you see the cutie fall cookie jars? Adorable. They’ll be out in stores soon. :)

Nancy did the easiest, most beautiful entertaining displays using basic dishes and food. It was so simple, seriously. I think we way over think things when it comes to decorating sometimes. The simplest are often the prettiest:

That was a plate, an upside down bowl and then another stacked on top. (She suggested using something like Velcro to make them stay put when entertaining.)

We got a peek at the fall and holiday products that will be in stores soon:

BHG Christmas products

We also got a tour through the test kitchens – it smelled AMAZING:

BHG test kitchen

What’s funny is they were making this shrimp and pesto meal and Christmas cookies – and the combo still worked. ;)

One of the most exciting parts of the tour for us bloggers was seeing where the shoot spreads and advertisements for the magazine. Rooms were built everywhere with fake window and “natural” light. You can’t even tell they weren’t real!:


And we got to tour the prop room. People. We could have spent hours in there poking around – it was crazy!:

BHG headquarters

And really, so well organized too. Everything down to the cutlery was organized by color. So cool.

We got to see some photo shoots in action too. We walked in to one and the space was so dark, I didn’t think there was any way they would get a good shot:

But the images were coming up on the monitor and were stunning. It was fascinating to watch!

One of my favorite areas was the workshop:

Gah. This girl was in heaven! It smelled so good in there too. Pesto and wood – good smells. ;)

They had a room filled with just walls – exterior and interior. My favorite was the board and batten wall:

There’s a planked on there in the back too. ;) The exterior walls even had lights and doors, it was so cool.

The part of the tour I was most looking forward to was the test garden and it did not disappoint!:

BHG test garden

This is another spot I could have walked around in forever. It was beautiful:

lily pads

I think the shade garden was my favorite. I want to create one in our backyard just like this:

shade garden

Easy, right? I love that they use this garden to see what plants work – how well they grow, what kind of light they need. I’ve become a bit of a gardening nut over the past few years so I was all geeked out. :)

We finished up the day with a trip to the Iowa State Fair – we had dinner and then had a couple hours to play:

Iowa state fair

We rode a bunch of rides and had an absolute blast.

I have to tell you, I was SO impressed with the products – I was surprised more than once at what was available and the price. This bedding was one of my favorites:

colorful bedding

I don’t know why but I was obsessed with it. I just think it is so pretty – perfect for a girl’s room. Or an adult girl’s room. ;) I LOVE all the colors. OH and the headboard – (with nail head trim!) starts at $150 and comes in two different colors!

I was so, so impressed with their lighting. I bought a very similar lamp for NOT $60 a couple years ago:

Here is the wood one and I believe the swing arm lamp will be coming out soon.

Their weathered wood pieces had us all excited – they look SO good and this finish is so popular right now:

That console on the left is really for TV components but I loved it as a sofa table – or in a dining room as a buffet.

Their slip covered sofas and chairs were comfy and didn’t have that slipcovered look at all – I didn’t believe them at first. ;)

fish pillow

And I wouldn’t think I would like a fish pillow but those looked pretty adorable.

Their dishes were gorgeous (very Pottery Barn-like) and that little tray in the middle with the candles was so versatile:

It would be so easy to decorate your table for the fall or Christmas with that! I can’t find it online but I’ll do some checking and see if I can find it.

Talk about knocking one off the bucket list! It was an absolute honor to be invited and they treated us so well. I can’t wait to show you more of the products in a couple months! If you want a link for anything you see here just let me know. :)


I received compensation from  BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. All experiences and opinions are my own. :)

It’s time for some board and batten

Monday, August 25, 2014 0 comments

Hey heeeey! Hope your weekend was great!

I got SO MUCH DONE in the family room over the weekend – so much that I’m crazy sore today. Me thinks I’m getting too old for the days of nonstop DIY. We’ve been living with our family room half way done for a couple weeks now – I’ve gotten very little done up till now. I was out of town for a trip three days, then I was sick for most of last week with a crappy cold. I didn’t feel like doing anything.

Yesterday was the first day I felt good and had a mostly free day to get things done. I can live with half way for a while – then all the sudden I can’t handle it one. more. day. and I go into beast mode. There’s something about this time of year – I want to NEST like you wouldn’t believe. I want to decrapify my entire house, fluff everything, start thinking about fall decor…all that stuff. And none of that is happening if I have the family room taunting me. :)

There’s so much for me to do in the room, it can become overwhelming. So I’ve been focusing on a few walls at a time. I painted the walls in one end of the room already and I’m still patching some of the board and batten and touching up paint there. But the biggest area that’s been bugging me is this side of the room:

It was really a mess, as you can see. My first plan of action yesterday was to finish up extending the crown molding. This is a little trick I use to make the crown appear thicker. You all know how I love me some chunky trim!

I’ve seen a method where they attach baseboards to the wall, I think upside down? And then you install the crown over it. A few things though – I already had the crown up in the room, so I’m not taking it down just to put it back up. Also, that’s a BIG added expense in a room this size. Third – I had already done this trick in the office so I needed to continue in throughout the space anyway. :)

It’s quite easy – it just takes a lot of trips up and down the ladder. (I should have legs of steel at this point, really.) I use this inexpensive decorative trim:

beefing up crown moldingYou can find it at Lowe’s and Home Depot. I just place it about an inch below the current crown. You can use a piece of wood or something as a spacer so you have the same distance around the room – I just use my level as I go around so it’s fairly consistent.

The great thing about working so high up is when you cut the piece too short for the third time and just put it up anyway cause it’s making you cuss, nobody will know:

DIY thick crown molding

Caulk and spackle people. Caulk and spackle.

It took three coats of semi gloss white (legs of steel) until it was covered, but it looks so good! Chunky!:

making crown molding look thicker

The day we tore down the wall one of the guys mentioned how I was going to have to redo all the crown in the family room to match up with the office because I had used the baseboards underneath. It fooled him, it will fool others. ;)

So I mentioned I was in beast mode yesterday and this is where the rest of the work came in. Here’s a shot of this wall just after I finished installing the small trim:

It hadn’t been painted yet, obviously. We had to patch a few holes from the TV hanging there before and the darker rectangles on the wall were from the molding I had had up there forever. Nearly eight years – I’ve been ready for a change for awhile.

After caulking the baseboards in three places, painting them, painting the bottom part of the wall three times in semi gloss white, installing all the board and batten and most of the decorative trim, finishing up the crown and painting the walls their new color, I ended up with this:

white board and batten

And I LOVE IT. Whoa, I LOVE how the white looks against our floors and the furniture. Yummy.

OK, so this spot is still far from done. I still need to finish that small decorative trim at the top of the board and batten – I ran out:

The door trim in the background still needs to be finished and painted. And the biggest thing is caulking and painting all the boards on the wall.

But it’s closer and it looks SO much better so I’m celebrating that!:

long table world market

I’m trying not to think much about the decor just yet – but the accessories will change up on that table. It’s a bit too neutral for me. And I want to paint that mirror a fun color, I just have no idea what it will be. :)

But the wall looks a ton better and I’m SO excited about the direction of this room. I still need to patch a few spots on the other wall, finish up the board and batten on the other side of the room (there’s not much) and then I’m putting all of my attention on the fireplace. I want this space done by the end of September – that’s my goal. Sooner would be awesome!

**To see my how to install the board and batten look, go here.
**For more about that awesome table and where it used to sit go here. :)

Fire in the dryer

Friday, August 22, 2014 0 comments

Hey hey! Welcome to the weekend! It’s rainy and dark this morning and I LOVE it. Rainy days make me feel so relaxed – I’d take a couple a week. :)

So today’s post is a brief one but I was surprised when I learned this so I thought I would share it with you all.

A few weeks ago we noticed that every time we dried our clothes they came out of the dryer smelling AWFUL. Like…fire.

I was annoyed that something would be wrong with the dryer considering it’s only a couple years old:

laundry room gray

Yes, the laundry room still isn’t done. We’re the only ones who see it so it’s down on the list. :)

I did some research online to see if it was something we could fix ourselves. We already clean out the lint every time we use it and at least a couple times a year we clean out the duct in the wall that goes outside. (SO important to do that – just do it yourself with a cleaning kit and a wet dry vac if your ductwork is short enough. Before we moved our laundry room ours ran through our garage so we hired out.)

So I couldn't figure out why we would smell fire. More specifically our clothes smelled like we had been sitting by a campfire. I read online that it is usually due to lint catching on fire inside the machine – which totally freaked me out. We stopped drying clothes in it for a few days till our appliance guy could come out and take a look.

To my relief but confusion right away he said it was nothing to worry about – and he asked if we had just painted inside our house. Funny he said that because that’s something I read online but dismissed it because we hadn’t been painting. THEN he asked about our floors – the ones we had just had restained in the family room and kitchen.

I was standing there wondering how in the world he would know we had just done our floors and told him yes and asked why. He explained that any oil-based or petroleum product will react with the gas dryer and cause the kerosene smell. Kerosene – THAT was the smell!

CRAZY. I had no idea. Our dryer is just below the floors that were refinished so that explains it. Funny thing is, when we first had the floors installed years ago our old gas dryer was on the same level as the floors and I don’t remember the clothes smelling like this. Maybe I was avoiding laundry at the time, who knows. ;)

So…if you ever do any work to your home that involves oil-based paint or have floors refinished – look out for that smell. We had aired out the house after the floors were done but it wasn’t enough obviously. I opened a bunch of windows that day and from then on they didn’t smell again – of course!

He said opening windows helps but otherwise you just have to wait till the floors really cure before it will go away. Crazy.

The good thing is that nothing was wrong with the dryer! Bad thing is we still had to pay for a service call. (He gave us a discount since it was so brief.)

Anyway, just thought I would share that little tidbit! If you notice that smell and haven’t had any work done in your home then get it checked out for sure. If you have and notice the smell around that time, it’s most likely from that.

Anyone ever had that happen? Do you all clean out your dryer ducts regularly? It goes a long way to avoiding dryer fires!

The best things I’ve ever done

Thursday, August 21, 2014 0 comments

Hello my friends! Our recent family room renovation has had me thinking lately…about the things that I’ve done in our house that have made the biggest difference. Some are little that only cost a few bucks. Some are bigger, but all are projects that I look at every time I walk by them and say “I’m so glad I did that.”

There are a lot of them, but these are my favorites. :)

This one is just “looks pretty” item but it was so easy and cheap! Last year I added some $10 hardware to the garage door to make it look more like a custom carriage door and less like the basic one that it is. I LOVE how it looks every time we pull up to our house:

diy carriage door hardware

It’s such a little thing but it makes me so happy. They’ve held up well too – no rusting at all. I’ve heard these kits went up in cost a bit but I believe they’re still under $30 – not too bad.

One that wasn’t so cheap but was still cheaper than paying someone were the DIY bookcases in our dining room. They are the first thing you see when you walk in our house and they make a BIG impact:

DIY built ins with kitchen cabinets

Our plan all along was to make this less of a dining room and more of a lounging space – but I’m playing with the idea of a larger table again. We’ll see. I’m SO proud of these built ins – not only because they’re pretty but because they are a perfect functional solution for us. The added serving ware storage is an extra bonus.

Another cheap and easy project that I am SO glad I did – adding some privacy to our bathroom window:

covering window for privacy privacy window

It took months before I stopped ducking when I walked by it at night, but now we’re used to it and I LOVE that it offers privacy but still lets the light in. And it was just a few bucks! I thought I not being able to see outside might bug me, but it doesn’t at all.

Of course a BIG one, the project that got me thinking about all of these – the removal of the wall between our family room and office. Oh that was a happy day!:

removing a wall

It’s come a long way since this photo but this shows where the walls were. From the very first day all I could think of was that it should have always been like this – and I knew it was the right decision. This project is the most expensive of all I’m mentioning here, but it’s nothing compared to the estimates we got to add on to the house. (And it was a whole lot less mess too.) You can follow along with the progress on this room here.

Years ago I wanted to brighten up our kitchen and I started by covering the black outdated tiles on our backsplash with white beadboard. It made a HUGE difference in this room:

beadboard backsplash

Yes, someday I will paint the cabinets, but in the meantime I can’t believe the difference it made in this space. All for less than $50 if I remember correctly. And yes, it’s held up incredibly well, I have no complaints! As long as it’s painted in a glossy white paint that you can wipe up easily there shouldn’t be any water or mess issues.

Another big project was our master closet storage that I created out of kitchen cabinets:

closet system with kitchen cabinets

Our closet was truly the thorn in my side for years and years – an utter disaster area and I was so fed up with it. I wanted more storage but wanted it to be closed storage – not just shelves that I knew we would clutter up like before. The cabinets have worked BRILLIANTLY. Ugh, why didn’t I do it earlier?? I still have plans to add shelves in the corners for even more storage. Again, the cost of the cabinets was way, way less than a custom closet system.

And finally, I know I mention it a lot but ripping the carpet off our stairs was one of the BEST things I’ve done, both for looks and functionally:

taking carpet off stairs

It is SO much easier to clean wood stairs than carpet! Just last week we had a drink spill down the steps and it was so easy just to wipe it up. All I do is vacuum them once every week (or two!) because we have three cats and a dog and you do see the fluff balls after awhile. Many have worried about how slippery the wood stairs are and I can tell you without a doubt that our carpeted stairs were more slippery than these. We each slid down the carpeted stairs a few times – it hasn’t happened once with the wood (knock on wood!!). This is just the case for our home, but I still think in general it’s easier to slip on that curved edge of carpet.

Because we had real wood under our carpet this project cost me less than $50 – I just needed some wood for the landing, stain and supplies. It was one of the cheapest projects but also one that was a lot of work. Pulling up the carpet and tack strips was no joke – but so worth it in the end!

There you go – my short list of the things that have made the biggest difference in our home, both in appearance and function. Function is HUGE for me – if it’s not going to work well for our family I’m not going to do it no matter how pretty it is.

Are there things you’ve done to your home that you think made a big difference? Things you want to do that you know you would love?