Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Evolution of our Mudroom Bench

We are thiiiis close to finishing up our mudroom, but before I do the big official reveal I wanted to circle back and show you the progress we made on the element that kick started the whole project....THE bench

Here she was when we got her home. 

The bones of the bench were good but the finish had definitely seen better days. Re-finishing/ Re-viving the bench was a must but to help us figure out the best approach we decided to start by sanding the finish off so we could see what kind of wood we were dealing with. Now, sometimes the act of sanding can be relaxing and rewarding as you see the beauty of the wood beneath shine through, but this was not one of those times. Nay - the size of the bench + all the twists and turns made the process take forever while the realization that the wood buried underneath was pine took about 3 milliseconds. WOMP, WOMP. Don't get me wrong, pine is a fine wood and given that this bench was made over a 100 years ago for a church, it actually makes a lot of since, it just doesn't bring a whole lot of excitement to the table visually. Here she is all naked....

This is where life gets real. So, I don't know how any of you guys go about projects but for us, we typically have a few happening at one time. During this particular time we were working on the new laundry room door at the same time we were working on the bench. So, while one of us sanded the door the other was busy working on the bench. We talked through our vision for both while we worked and ultimately decided we would sand the door down and leave it raw and exposed (mostly because it's finish was beautiful underneath all of that paint) and we would stain the bench in a complimentary hue. Well, the door finished up before the bench and we LOVED the results of that project. With the door up we were ready to stain our bench. We ended up selecting Briarsmoke by Varathane. A warm, brown-gray hue. The staining process was pretty fast and we left it outside to dry all day.

That night, we brought it inside and set it in place and instantly we could tell something was off. We decided to wait and see it in the light of day, but unfortunately that didn't help. The bench + the laundry door didn't work, the colors were too close to be in the same space. It looked like we tried to match and we missed. Plus, I honestly think the laundry door was so pretty and organic looking it made the bench look like it was trying too hard. It was obvious that one of them had to go and we both knew it wasn't going to be the door, so it was back to the drawing board on the bench.  WOMP WOMP x 2.

So, at this point we were not about to sand the bench again, but even if we were willing to, what would we do to it? Staining wasn't going to work and while we could paint it, no color felt right or obvious. The bench needed to have personality and flair without competing with the other elements in the space (shiplap, blue door and laundry room door). As we discussed options we kept coming back to an idea we had talked about way back at the beginning, during the time we actually thought the bench was going to go in the dining room...upholstering it. I had seen an image awhile ago of a seating situation in a restaurant. It was a set-up where one side of the table had a booth and the other side had a chair. Are you visualizing? OK, so on the booth side the seat was upholstered as was a strip of cushion that had been installed up towards the area your middle back would hit if you were to sit there. The lines of the design, while totally different kind of reminded me of our bench, specifically the thin back rail piece, and Brent and I agreed upholstering the seat and the back of the bench could produce a similar aesthetic vibe which could be cool and different. So, we loaded up the Croix and headed to the fabric store.

There are a lot of fabric stores in the Atlanta area, but one place we love to go when we don't want to spend a fortune is a place called Fabric & Fringe. The place is huge and full of fabric at great prices. We didn't know exactly what we wanted, but we kind of had a thought that we wanted a leather (pleather/vinyl) look and they have a lot there.  Lucky us we came upon a really pretty camel option that was $10/yd (what!!!) and decided it was the one. Fabric & Fringe also sells all of the parts and pieces you would need to upholster a piece like this so we bought some batten and a cushion there too and headed home to give DIY upholstering a whirl.

Before we could do anything we painted the bench white. While the seat and the back part of the bench would be upholstered some wood would still show and we really wanted that to just kind of go away visually. So, we painted it the same color of white we plan to paint the rest of the downstairs (eventually) - Benjamin Moore's White Dove, OC-17. Next, we traced the bench seat with a sharpie onto the cushion so we could get a perfect fit and then used some fabric glue to attach it to the seat.

Then, we wrapped the cushioned seat and the back rail in batten and secured with staples. 

With the prep work done we were ready for the fabric. 

Let me start by saying if you've been reading this blog long we all know Brent has mad skills but he really showed off on this DIY. I was there, sure and every now and then I would use the staple gun to shoot a staple or two where he told me to, but for the most part he upholstered this entire bench by himself, whilst watching a UGA game. Now, he did have Croix helping, so of course that's probably the magic ingredient (ha!) but in all seriousness he had the majority of this puppy covered in vinyl in less than an hour. He would of finished the whole thing but about halfway through upholstering the top portion, the fabric ripped (womp, womp x3) so we had to get more fabric which delayed things a few days.
One final detail was the addition of two leather belts. 

Yes, you read that right...belts. We picked two black belts up from the fabric store with plans to install  them to the bench seat and the back for a little added flair. And whoa, what a difference this made!

Another idea we had on the fly was to wrap the foot rail in the fabric as well and I'm so glad we did! 

Well, there you have it. The longest post ever written about a bench. It had painful moments, no doubt, but Brent now has a back up career as an upholster and we have an awesome 100 year old bench that adds a layer of cool to our mudroom I don' think we could of gotten from something store bought. 

Unless otherwise noted all photos are my own. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dining Room Curtains

We are in the process of wrapping up the mudroom remodel (2 posts left to share!) but before we bounce back into that project I wanted to show you the newest addition to our Dining Room....


It never ceases to amaze me what an instant difference curtains make in a room. It's like the room has it's eyebrows and is giving you a hug all at the same time. I talked a bit about our curtain journey back in August and shared how we decided to use some antique brackets to separate our dining room from the foyer. This allowed us to purchase more expensive fabric for the dining room curtains because we wouldn't need AS much.

We considered several options in various colors and patterns....

And while any one of them would of worked we fell in love with the texture and dimension the raised flower pattern brought to the table.

Once we made our decision we lined up our favorite super-star seamstress - Cindy (Brent's Mom) and she got to work creating the curtains. In no time she was back in Atlanta, curtains in hand and we (Brent) got them installed. One tricky element was the bay window. We decided we didn't want to hang curtains within the bay window because we didn't want to block the natural light, so we had to find a rod that could make a 45 degree turn.

The curtains add such a nice layer to the space and I love how they pop against the background of our antique mantle

The  room feels so much fancier with the addition of the curtains. Brent and I both agree this is definitely the fanciest room we've ever created (in our own house that is). But I guess if you're going to have a fancy schmancy area in your house a dining room is the best space for that to be! All in all this room is feeling SO good and while it definitely needs some fluff - a rug, art, lighting, has come a long way this year and is definitely one of our favorite spaces in the house. 

All photos are my own. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall Decor + Croix is Famous

Hey Y'all, welcome to my Fall front porch!

Random fact: Thursdays have always been my favorite day of the week. A lot of people love Friday, Saturday or Sunday, but for me it's always been Thursday. By Thursday you are so close to the weekend you can feel it, the day has promise and excitement of what's just around the corner. Fall has the same affect on me. Fall is just all good things - cooler weather (well, hopefully that will be coming to Georgia soon), college football, pumpkin spice lattes (I'm basic, I'm aware) and a whole list of exciting things on the horizon - Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Croix's birthday, New Years Eve, etc...

My love for the season always has me eager to pounce on our Fall decor as soon as October 1 rolls around and this year was no exception. Actually it was...I put out some of my decor at the end of September. GASP....I wear white pants after Labor Day too. I'm wild, I know.....

But I'm not the only overly excited one around here.....

This year we built upon on the scene we created last year by adding some bats to the mix in addition to a fresh collection of pretty mums and pumpkins.

I'm especially obsessed with the little gold pumpkins we sprinkled around. 

The cherry on the top of this month was definitely seeing the October issue of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle Magazine because just look who is on those glossy pages representing Bell Cabinetry & Design....

Photo by Rustic White Photography. 
He will be signing autographs just as soon as he learns to write his name. ;)

Bats | Gold Pumpkins | Buffalo Check Mat DIY

Unless otherwise noted all photos are my own. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

New Laundry Door

I have a new door update in this whole, "let's turn a hallway into a mudroom" situation we have underway right now, but this time for the laundry room!  The hallway is about 18 feet long and has 4 doors (entry door not shown below) and the laundry room is roughly 10' x 12'  and has 3 doors! It's madness....doors EVERYWHERE!

It has been especially frustrating in the laundry room because this space has doors that actually open up into each other. With that being said it's hard for me to ever really complain about my laundry room because it's in a convenient place, has a laundry shoot (hello, YAY!!!), a big storage closet and a window.  So it may not be the prettiest (...for now ;)...) but I was lugging stuff down to a sometimes wet and always spooky basement in our last house, so all in all this space is a dream. However, when the entry door has to be shut to be able to access the storage closet, something has to be done. And that something was a barn door.

I love barn doors and Brent and I have long talked about installing one in this space. In my opinion barn doors are the perfect solution when you need separation but privacy is not necessary. Barn doors don't offer a lot in the privacy department, so installing one for a bathroom or a bedroom can get awkward, but the only ones needing privacy in a laundry room are the dust bunnies, making it a great space for a barn door.

With this in mind, we headed to Scotts Antique to find a door. We wanted something old and unique with cool detailing and figured Scotts would be the perfect place to find such a treasure. We dug around and mentally tagged several contenders. As we were walking around discussing the options we noticed a trailer off in the distance with doors inside.... And in that trailer we found what was quite possibly the ugliest door (in terms of color scheme) I've ever seen.

Now, at first sight this guy definitely had a face only a mother could love, but as we examined the actual details buried behind the red and yellow paint we realized this door was exactly what we were looking for. It checked all the boxes - it was old, circa early 1900's from Ohio and was oozing with unique + cool detailing, specifically in the form of a giant oval window with beveled glass. It was the right size and reasonably priced at $120 so we loaded it up and brought it home.

The official Before....

Once home we began the process of removing the paint so we could see what kind of wood we were dealing with. The door was painted differently on each side. One side was the yellow/red combo you see above and the other was a light yellow color. We started with the ugliest side and brushed on this Stripper all over the door. I don't know if you guys have ever used this stuff before, but it was fascinating. The thick paste is so strong the paint literally bubbles up almost immediately and then scrapes off. This took several rounds because there were so many layers of paint. For the other side of the door Brent tried a different technique. He used a heat gun to to melt the paint and release it's seal from the door. This approach was less messy and seemed to work better.

With the majority of the paint off, we began sanding the door. Interestingly, the light yellow side of the door had been stained at one time, so as we began sanding we were left with a really beautiful finish. The red/yellow side was fine, but the more we sanded the more of a light pine wood we got. I think it will naturally darken over time, but the other side was definitely prettier and, lucky for us, the side of the door that would naturally face the hallway!

The last step was using a razor to clean the glass and then windex-ing the heck out of it until it was all shiny and new.

Next, Brent got the barn door hardware mounted. We purchased this hardware from Home Depot. It was relatively simple and quick to install, but once we hung the door up we realized we would have to cut the backband (moulding that sits around the door casing) off because it was too deep and the door hardware was hitting it.  So, Brent cut it off and we caulked the space and will paint when we paint everything else to make this little surgery spot go away.

We could literally not be happier with the end results here. Not only does this door add so much life and additional interest to this space, but the door is truly one of a kind and SUCH an improvement from the way we found it. Plus, best of all, it functions like a dream and really makes the laundry room so much more efficient.

All photos are my own. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

New Entry Door

Confession time - I'm a freak about lighting. An honest to God highly opinionated, overly critical freak about it. On one hand I love lighting and believe in the power of a great light fixture in a space, but most of the time I don't actually want to see that light turned on. Especially for a photo. I hate when the only light source in a room is from a fixture. The shadows, the light bombs, the coloring, oyyyy it makes my blood boil and my eyes hurt all at the same time. Now, I'm aware that task lighting is necessary, but to me, the happiest spaces are those that are primarily lit with natural light.

Well, guess what - the hub of our current project - the hallways right off the garage was a great example of a bad lighting situation. I've known it since the day we moved in. It has cans, it has a pretty little pendant, but it has only second hand natural light (powder room window and laundry room window) which makes it dark and shadowy. Annoyingly, it's not just the hallway, the breakfast room and stair landing are in the same boat. The latter two sit in the center of the house, and the garage is on the other side of the hallway so there has never been much hope for integrating a window BUT a few weeks ago a sliver of hope occurred to me.

Enter the existing door. 

This is the entry door from the open air garage which means just on the other side of this solid beast is sunlight. Glorious, glorious sunlight. This door needed glass. It would change everything, I just knew it. 

As I mentioned the idea to Brent I honestly had no idea how involved this change would be. Turns out, the whole thing was relatively simple.  The first step was to pick out the door so we perused the Internet to find that Home Depot actually had a pretty wide selection and their prices were pretty good at just over $200. As much as I was desperate for the natural light, I knew we didn't want a full lite door. Not the right look, plus we didn't like the idea of being that exposed from a privacy standpoint. We ended up selecting this 9-lite door and within the hour, the old door was off and the new door was on. 

Just look at that light.

As excited as we were with the instant happy this little change had already made, this door switch-a-roo was not without some hiccups. The first, the door hardware. Brent measured the hinge location of the old door as compared to the new door before mounting and while that was all good, the latches in the door way were way off. Nothing is ever simple, sigh. Brent used his drimel to cut out new latch locations to match the new door and we used wood filler to cover the old holes, creating a seamless look. Next, it was time to paint the door. Initially we thought about painting the door white to match the shiplap walls (all just primed as of now) but then we decided NAY, let's do something fun. So, we settled on this dusty blue/gray color called Flint Smoke from Behr.

It took a few coats but I could tell we had a winner after just a few strokes. 

It's like the door was meant to be this color. So happy and so warm at the same time. And the natural light from the glass is a game changer y'all, not just for this mudroom area but for the breakfast room and stair landing as well.

We are so happy with the results, but I will say the one negative to the pretty new door is the fact that it just magnifies the ugly creamy trim color. We are still weighing options as to how to attack this. Do we paint the entire downstairs with a fresh clean white? Or do we go back with the creamier color to keep costs down and keep things consistent throughout the house. Perhaps with the new natural light flooding in the old paint color won't seem so yellow. What do you think?

All photos are my own. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Last week I shared how inheriting a 100+ year old bench kick-started our mudroom and today I'm excited to show you some progress! So, as a reminder - this is the space we were working with:
The door you see with the letter magnets is the entry door from the garage. The hallway, directly to the left as you come into the house leads you down to the Powder Room straight ahead, which is where all of the light is coming from in this photo, and the laundry room and hall closet on the right side. It's a decent sized space with a lot of doors and very little natural light basically screaming....MAKE ME A MUDROOM!

To get the ball rolling on this project we could think of only one element that would really start to set the tone for this space....SHIPLAP! We wanted to add some interest to the walls and nothing says interest + mudroom like shiplap so we jumped right in.

To begin we headed to our local Home Depot to peruse the wood options. We found they actually sell 6" high shiplap and while that was tempting we really wanted the individual planks to be taller. So we decided to make our own shiplap using 8" high primed 3/4" thick x 16' long pieces of wood.
To start we talked through how we wanted the ship lap to integrate with the existing crown moulding and baseboard. Brent cut a small piece so we could hold it up against the mouldings and we quickly decided to do away with the crown and just let the planks go all the way to the ceiling. This was necessary because the 3/4" piece of wood was deeper than the bottom of the crown which would of created a weird intersect. As for the baseboards - we decided to keep those in tact. For several reasons, but mainly because the depth of the plank against the baseboard wasn't an issue and we knew  removing the baseboards would open a whole can of worms in terms of what do you do with the shoe mould that sits between the hardwood floors and the baseboards themselves? We didn't have an answer to that question, so we left well enough alone.

We started on the long wall, directly to the left when you enter through the garage. This was the longest wall so we knew there would be the least amount of cuts to do here. We started at the top of the wall because our ceilings are little over 8 feet high so we knew we would have one plank that was a bit shorter than the rest and we wanted that plank to be at the bottom.
For those unfamiliar with shiplap there is no set rule for spacing. You can make the gaps between the planks as big or as small as you want. We played with a few options and decided to leave a nickel space between our planks for a more classic look.
The process went something like this: We would measure the wall, Brent would cut the wood (when necessary) and bring it inside. Then,  I would dab wood glue on the back and we would lift the plank into place and use nickels to achieve the gaps we were going for before Brent used his nail gun to secure the wood in place. We moved pretty fast and with every board that went up we got more and more excited as the space really started to come to life! We loved the look so much we decided to continue the ship lap on the perpendicular wall that leads to the stairs. It just felt right....
Obviously those mitered + angled cuts were not fun, but Brent and his big math loving brain figured it out and we are SO happy with the results. It sounds crazy but this shiplap has completely transformed this space. This hallway used to just kind of be there and now it literally demands attention. It feels interesting and alive and the cool part is THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING! We haven't even painted it yet! There are so many more layers to add, but for now let's all revel in the fact that stacked pieces of wood can take a space from zero to hero.

All photos are my own. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Bench

My Grandmother & PapaJack's Country House garage strikes again! 

Last year around this time we picked up the 100+ year old mantle that belonged to my PapaJack's Mom. As you know, we have since made over that mantle (read all about it here, here, here and here). Earlier this summer we picked up another oldie, but goodie - a 100+ year old bench/pew from a church in Nashville, Tennessee.

We had spotted the bench last summer but it took us a whole year to get our lives together enough to actually pick it up and take it home.

We had a few ideas as to how we could incorporate this bench into our space. One thought was to use the bench in the dining room. We both love the look of a bench on one side of the table and chairs on the other. But, by the time we got the bench home we had already figured out our chair situation in that room so we crossed that idea off the list. The other option had been to put the bench in the hallway, off the garage, to serve as landing spot for Croix's Diaper bag, our work bags, my purse, etc.  You know...kind of like a mud-room.

We had always planned to build-out some type of mudroom here and this bench felt like a good place to start.  While I had always envisioned our mudroom being made out of cabinetry, I think building out a space around a cool piece like this bench could be a lot more interesting. We spent our long car ride down to the beach a few weeks ago scheming and dreaming about a lot of house plans, this mudroom space included. After sifting through a ton of inspiration images and sketches I think we have a pretty solid plan and we are pumped to jump in.

I have a feeling this one is going to move pretty fast, because once you have an idea that can add organization AND pretty to your life you just have to get it done ASAP! 
Unless otherwise noted all photos are my own.