Napkin Pillow Covers


Over the weekend I stopped by World Market to check out their sales. I had a $10 off $40 coupon from the World Market Explorer program and I wanted to pick up a few things for our newly renovated family room. I found some super cute patterned cloth napkins and thought they would be just the thing to brighten up our rather drab, hand-me-down couch.

I choose these lovely patterned napkins with florals and birds (the Whippoorwill pattern). My daughter pointed at the birds and tried to bark, so I had to go for them.

There are lots of other pretty patterns though!

chevron napkin Gemma napkin vintage floral napkin

If you get a napkin with a lace trim, like the vintage floral on the right, you can just remove the trim with a seam ripper and incorporate in the place of piping on the pillow!

I love how cheap and easy it is. The napkins are perfect 20×20″ squares so you don’t have to worry about cutting. I added a zipper using this awesome tutorial from Design*sponge, but you could also create no-sew versions using this tutorial from Centsational Girl.

They go really well with the storage boxes I found on sale on the same World Market shopping trip…


…which have now found a place on the Expedit entertainment unit (now discontinued from IKEA).


And no, I haven’t really fully arranged the books and accessories yet. Chris still has to anchor the unit to the wall, and then I’ll really get my style on. In the meantime, there are a few random things (like the TV mount) sitting on the shelves.

Remember that Modern Family episode where Phil procrastinates anchoring the cabinet to the wall and then it falls during an earthquake? I feel like we might be heading for a repeat of that episode…

A Garden 1st Birthday Party

We were thrilled to be able to invite the family over for Baby Brownie’s 1st birthday party, even more so that the weather was gorgeous and we were able to do it in the yard.


We had been so busy with our family room renovation that we started working on the yard area for the party the night before the party! See that grass? That sod was laid THE MORNING OF THE PARTY. Yes. That’s how we roll. But it looked SO MUCH BETTER. I wish I had a before pic but where those two patches of grass are there were just two piles of dirt. Amazing what a difference some green makes.

Of course, after the party we had to pull up all the sod and re-level the ground underneath, which had been all pitted by people walking all over it at the party. But it was worth it.


You  can see that some parts of the garden are still unfinished, hence the pile of dirt in the corner. But that didn’t prevent us from having a great time.


The birthday girl was happy to play with tissue paper.


And we all enjoyed celebrating our little angel who has grown up so much in the past year; I can’t believe how time flies.

Fireplace Revamp


Here’s the promised post about how we took our fireplace from this:


To this:


Although we had lived with the old fireplace for a year and it had been doing just fine, we decided that since we had the flooring out and everything, we might as well reface the fireplace while we were at it.

First, Chris removed those awful builder-grade brass sconces and patched the drywall. We then painted the walls a lovely happy spring green and painted the fireplace mantel a bright white (instead of that yucky off-white color).


This already made a huge improvement in the space but after all the work we had given the rest of the room, the imitation slate tile on the fireplace was starting to look really dated and ugly. We decided to tile the fireplace surround.

So we made a quick run to Home Depot and picked up $100 worth of new tile. At first I was considering a penny or mosaic tile but Chris thought they looked too bathroom-y. We decided to go with a pretty light quartz ledgestone for the fireplace face (Desert Quartz Ledgestone, I can’t find the exact product again online but this one from Home Depot is almost an exact match) and a porcelain tile for the hearth that looks almost exactly like rough flagstone. Seriously, Chris’ Dad could hardly believe it was tile and not real stone.


Chris removed the old tile, which came off pretty easily. It had been mounted directly on the plywood and the fireplace face…which doesn’t seem very secure…that might explain why it came off so easily. Chris laid out the pattern on the floor so we were happy with the color distribution.



Chris and his dad mounted cement board onto the fireplace face and then screwed a piece of 1×4 to the cement board to act as an anchor for the top half of the tile (we didn’t want the tile sliding off before the Thinset dried!). After the top half of the fireplace was done we had to let it dry for 3 days while the Thinset cured, so Chris and his dad tiled the hearth, which was relatively simple (we’d had a bit of experience tiling the laundry room so we knew what to expect). The hearth was even easier because we didn’t have to cut any pieces to fit.


Here I am applying grout and buffing excess grout off the surface of the tile (that was kind of a chore because of the rough surface of the tile).


And then Chris finished tiling the face of the fireplace!


I love it. I think it looks so much more updated and cozy than before. Of course it will look nicer once it is styled and the surrounding carpet is in. We also need to cut some molding to cover those unsightly gaps on the bottoms of the wood pieces.

The surprising thing is that this project really didn’t take very long AT ALL. Especially compared to some of the other tedious long-term projects we’ve had going on around here. It took us two evenings, and a few days of drying time. AND it was cheap with a price point around $100. Just a little work and not a lot of money, but it makes a HUGE difference!

Sharing at HopeStudios!


Happy Green Walls

One of Chris and my mottoes is “Everything Takes Longer Than You Think”. At least, this has seemed to be true in our remodeling adventures. We start what seems like an easy project and then that project snowballs into about a thousand other projects, and it ends up taking 3 times the time we originally thought it would. Case in point, the family room.

If you remember, it originally looked like this:


IMG_9786 A

After we moved in, we lived with it pretty much as is for a year:



But after the baby started crawling, we decided to turn this room into our baby-proof room, and we decided to freshen it up with a coat of paint. Then because the wood flooring was all water-damaged and had missing holes in it, we decided to put in carpet.

Fast forward 3 months and it looks like this:



It’s already a huge improvement, but it’s still not done! Here’s what we did:

1) Closed up two large holes in the ceiling that opened into the loft room.
2) Removed the carpeted stair treads and spray painted the spiral staircase in Rustoleum Hammered Dark Bronze.
3) Patched tons of drywall, hired in a contractor to help us smooth-coat the ceiling.
4) Painted the ceiling white.
5) Installed can lights
6) Painted the trim semi-gloss white.
7) Removed the damaged flooring.

We’re still working on:

1) Re-facing the fireplace and tiling the hearth.
2) Re-installing trim around one of the windows.
3) Choosing carpet and getting it installed.

It took us a really long time to get this far because of the water damage in the walls. Chris had to patch the roof, re-caulk the windows, and replace much of the damaged drywall. On top of this, the stairwell into the loft space was wallpapered in a hideous old wallpaper that WOULD NOT COME OFF. The drywall had not been primed prior to the installation of the said hideous wallpaper, and therefore when we soaked and tried to remove the paper, the drywall paper started disintegrating too. Chris ended up painting over the wallpaper with an oil-based primer and then we painted it to match the rest of the room downstairs.


I’m loving the fresh green walls. It makes me feel happy. It’s “Nantucket Breeze” by Benjamin Moore, color matched in a Behr paint.

We weren’t going to do the fireplace surround at first, but then the aforementioned snowballing effect let us to consider chipping out the ugly fake slate tile and installing this lovely ledgestone. More pics on that later.

Slowly but surely wins the race, right?



Before and After: Painted Stairs

Remember this hideousness?


As we work on getting the family room fixed up, one of the biggest impact projects we undertook was to remove the carpeted stair treads (they were grody, stained, and all-round nasty), and to repaint the badly scratched and stained metal staircase.


Here it is half painted and already looking much nicer minus the awful stained carpet. We used Rustoleum Hammered Dark Bronze spray paint. That stuff is seriously amazing. You spray it on (after cleaning and priming of course), and moments later, it curdles into a beautiful hammered finish. It looks much more expensive and professional than just a simple smooth finish.


Ah much better! With the dark bronze color I feel like it looks more industrial-modern rather than dated-80s. We also painted the stair treads but we intend to fill them in with stained wood treads.


It’s hard to show you in a photo what the hammered finish looks like but this gives you the general idea. It is MUCH nicer than a smooth finish…that speckling is ALL paint, folks! It helps to camouflage imperfections in the underlying metal nicely.

We’ve still got a lot to do in this family room but we’re starting to feel like we’re really getting someplace! Can’t wait to see the finished product!



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