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Confession: Epic Fireplace Fail

Hello friends,

Remember our fireplace makeover that began, um, nine months ago?  You don't?  Well, let me give you a recap.

Our fireplace is a large, tiled, corner fireplace, and it always seemed kind of on the "cold" side, for lack of a better description.  (Old photo here, pre-hardwood floors, but you get the idea).

We wanted to preserve the tile that was on the fireplace by using a product called Airstone - looks like stone and can be installed directly over the tile.  Perfect.  Diane, from In My Own Style, did a fabulous job transforming her fireplace, and I loved the look.  Plus, it would accomplish our goal of keeping the tile intact.

I was also a smitten kitten with Layla's fireplace makeover at The Lettered Cottage - so ours was going to be a hybrid approach, incorporating elements from both of these fireplace transformations.

So, we got cracking (back in November, that is).  I had a cookie exchange party deadline, which means that I get highly motivated to get. stuff. done.

Hardwood floors were installed, and we drywalled over the top portion of the fireplace and started working on a mantel.

The Airstone was an easy installation, and we were going to frame the sides with wood.

We added additional molding detail to the top portion of the fireplace, and were on version 3.2 of the mantel.  But then, I wasn't feeling the idea of wood on the sides of the fireplace anymore.  And let me just state for the record, that corner fireplaces (and their mantels) are a huge pain when it comes to making changes to them.  I curse you miter saw...

So, we lived with it for awhile.  And then the kids would make comments like, "Mom, when are you going to finish the fireplace?  Didn't you start it in like, November?  Geez, that was like, eight months ago."

But, living with it, didn't make me like it any better.  So, we're starting over.  We're going to take the tile off completely and just go all in on a redo.  So, this is what it looks like now:

Stone samples, but I'm not digging on them right now either.  Back to the drawing board.  We're also thinking about taking the stone all the way to the ceiling (which means all of my hard drywall work would be for nothing.  Le sigh.)

But, by taking it down to the bones, we'll be able to get this done right (hopefully).  We are still arguing debating about the mantel.  I would like a wood mantel, hubby is suggesting things like "stone slab mantel".  Since it's a crazy corner fireplace, it's in no way "standard", which makes it a real treat.

So, there you have it.  My fireplace fail confession.  I guess the lesson in this is to really take your time and think through a project before jumping in with both feet.  But sometimes, I am a slow learner just can't help myself.

Do you have any epic DIY fails to share?


Reader Feature: Spectacular Kitchen Redo


We're getting back into the swing of school around here, and while my 2nd grader greets each school day with enthusiasm, my boys - 7th grade and (gulp) freshman, aren't quite as thrilled in the early hours of the morning.  I really can't believe I have a son in high school.  It seems like I just sent him off to school as an ambivalent kindergartener.  What saddens me is that I know time is going to move at warp speed as we navigate the next four years.  I don't remember reading about this in the Motherhood Handbook...

Any words of wisdom from veteran mothers out there?  I'm all ears.

Let's move on to some kitchen goodness, shall we?  Nearly a year ago, I got an email from Kelly, asking some questions about painting kitchen cabinets, along with some photos of her kitchen.  Well, I was thrilled that Kelly thought to circle back with me to share her kitchen transformation, and she was kind enough to let me share them with you.  I know you'll love it as much as I do.

Let's start with the before - definitely great bones in this kitchen!  Already spacious, warm and welcoming, right?

Oh, but look at it now!  So bright, fresh and beautiful!  I have to give Kelly some serious snaps on her before and after shots - they couldn't be more perfect.  I told her that I felt like I was playing one of those "compare the photos" games - trying to figure out the differences between the two.  And no, she doesn't have a blog.  She should, right?

They ended up hiring out the painting/carpentry work.  I can't say that I blame them - this is a HUGE kitchen and suffice to say, her hubby was a bit ambivalent about Kelly tackling the painting on her own with "zero experience".  She went on to say,

"I ended up doing a bigger remodel than I originally planned so my husband and I did the backsplash, lighting and plumbing work ourselves.  I think it turned out well and I am so glad to be rid of the orangey oak! "

Kelly discovered that there is a big market for nice kitchen items that are in good condition, and was able to sell all of their old appliances, sinks and faucets on craigslist.  On top of that, they had their old kitchen granite recut and installed in their kids' bathrooms, which didn't have granite originally.  So resourceful - I love it!

Are you catching all of the subtle changes that were made in this kitchen?  Hardware, appliances, wine fridge...  Yes, please.


I know your heads are swirling, and you want details!  Lucky for you, Kelly listed out all of the changes, which should help to answer your inquiring minds!
  • New appliances (Dacor double ovens, microwave and 36" rangetop.  Miele dishwasher).  I have been so happy with these appliances. And I am glad I stacked the microwave over the ovens.  I was nervous about that, but it has been great for us.
  • New sinks (Blanco granite composite sinks in cafĂ© brown).  Best sinks ever.  I love the look of a farmhouse sink, but just couldn't afford it.  Now I am so happy I went with the composite sinks as opposed to the Kohler enameled cast iron sinks because my sinks do not scratch or stain at all.  And they are so much cheaper.
  • New faucets (Danze in oil rubbed bronze).
  • New granite (Typhoon Bordeaux)
  • Painted and glazed kitchen cabinets (SW Shoji White on perimeter and SW Anonymous on island).
  • New cabinet hardware (Top Knobs).  I especially love the refrigerator/freezer pulls. 
  • Moved wine fridge from the island to the desk area.  And replaced space in island with drawers.
  • Reconfigured desk into a "wine bar" area, with new cabinet doors.
  • Added pot drawers under the rangetop.
  • New backsplash (tumbled travertine)
  • New lighting: chandelier over the island and three pendant lights around the outside countertops
  • Changed outlets from brown to cream.
So, what do you think?  Pretty spectacular, right?  Thanks again to Kelly for sharing your gorgeous space! 

Do you have a space you would like to have featured?  Please give me a shout - I would love to see it and share it! 


Knotty Pine No More


I'm finally done with the Room Full O'Knotty Pine, and I couldn't be happier with the end result.  Was it a big project?  Yes.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely! 

I plan on doing a follow-up on this project once my friend and her family are moved in and settled.  I know that she will put her own stylish stamp on this house, and it will be quite the transformation when it's all said and done. 

First, a quick side by side before and after:

Even without furniture, it's off to a great start, don't you think?  Ahhh, so light, fresh and clean!  They're also getting new windows in a few weeks, which will be an impact all on its own.

As a refresher, let's see how far we've come, shall we?

And a "before the before" photo (before they moved in).

Another before angle:

The jury is still out on the yellow door.  I love it, my friend isn't feeling it - she was thinking of something a wee bit brighter I think - and mentioned painting it white.  At which time I grabbed her by the shoulders and tried to shake her back to her senses.  I think this room was made for a door with a pop of color, don't you?  If not yellow, what color would you choose?

Built-ins - Before:

And after - they tore out the scalloped trim that surrounded the center section of the built-ins, which was an instant improvement.  (Please excuse the paint can - the center doors didn't want to stay shut.)

Another "before the before" shot:

And now:

And the fireplace - probably the biggest impact of all.  Before-the-Before:



Such a statement - I love that she chose black for the fireplace.  A great contrast against the clean, crisp white.

I'm planning on writing a tutorial on this project once my head clears from all of the oil-based primer.  It's a totally doable DIY project, but you just need to be prepared to put in the time to prep properly and paint your heart out.

Have you tackled knotty pine or other paneling in your home?

Linking up to:
Tatertots & Jello - Link Party Palooza
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia - Tuesday Treasures
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesday

TDC Before and After


Mission: Pantry Organization


With the beginning of a new school year upon us, it almost feels like New Year's all over again for me.  I feel compelled to get organized and have things in order.  Granted, by looking at my house right now, I'm far from being that self-actualized, but one area of my home is ready to kick off the new school year in style.  

The Pantry.  A space that gets more visits than most rooms in our home.  How many times do your kids venture in and out, looking for something to eat?  More times than I can count (especially in the summer months).

But, now that school lunches and after school snacks are upon us, this is one area that is the epitome of chaos, and needed an intervention.

Let's start with a quick side by side, before and after shot:

Now, let's break it down a bit.  I have to give a shout out to Toni at A Bowl Full of Lemons (thus my lemon tribute in the photos), for being an Organizational Yoda to those of us who are somewhat organizationally challenged.  Her site is chock full of tips and tricks, as well as plethora of drool-worthy organizational photos to inspire you into action.

First, I pulled all of my stuff out of the pantry (and was astounded at how much crap was in there!).  Then, I bucketed items into common groups and loaded up on bins, baskets and containers to put them in, so that they're easy to find and most importantly, stay organized.

The baskets are from TJ Maxx - perfect for holding microwave popcorn.  The XOX containers are from Marshalls - perfect for snacks, crackers, nuts - you name it. 

I used magazine holders to store my cookbooks and cooking magazines, so that they are more visually appealing vs. willy nilly all over the place.

I moved the canned goods to the right, and it seems to make more sense and hopefully will keep can clutter to a minimum the next time I go to the grocery.

I found some cute containers at TJ Maxx with chalkboard labels already on them.  I'm planning on getting more labels for my bins and baskets, so that there is no question where things are and where they belong!

The real trick is going to be keeping my kids out of the snacks that are intended for lunches.  I'm already seeing the supply decline more quickly than it should.  But locking up snacks in my pretty pantry would just ruin the whole look!

Are you catching the organizing bug with a new school year beginning?

Sources for my containers, bins and baskets:

- The white plastic bins are from the Dollar Store

- The XOX containers are from Marshalls

- The glass containers with the chalkboard labels are from TJ Maxx

- The baskets are from TJ Maxx

- The wire baskets are from Marshalls & TJ Maxx

- Magazine holders are from Target and IKEA

- The aqua chevron bin is from Target

Linking up:
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday

TDC Before and After