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. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

10 Years Together

Brent and I started dating ten years ago today. TEN YEARS y'all. 

Nashville, TN - Vanderbilt vs UGA game 2007
We met at The University of Georgia the fall of our Junior year (2006) and went on one date but didn't start dating exclusively/officially until the end of summer 2007. That year will forever be known in the "story of us" as the year of the chase. 

Chattanooga, TN - 2007
I wasn't in the best place when we met and was definitely not looking for a serious relationship. Brent was persistent and patient and though I fought off dating that year, I did love being around him and our friendship grew and grew. Finally, something clicked and all at once I saw that everything I was looking for in a boyfriend was right in front of me. Things got more serious between us that summer as our conversations got longer and we got closer and closer. As our Senior year started we went to a Kenny Chesney concert with a group of friends and had our first kiss. From that day on....we were a couple.  

Ten years has absolutely flown by. Together we have had a lot of good times, experienced some low points and done a whole lot of growing up. We've been married over 4 years,  had 1 child (hi Croix), 1 dog, 2 houses, 4 jobs and 3 degrees. We have been to 13 countries, 3 continents and we've done 1 zillion DIY projects. We have been busy and we have had fun. 

Rome, Italy - Honeymoon 2013

Florence, Italy - Honeymoon 2013
We are true partners and the longer I live the more I realize just how lucky we are. Life can be hard and I really don't know what I would do without our relationship. If he's not pulling my car out of the mud (last week) he's cooking me dinner or driving all over town helping me furnish the new showroom. Brent is my counselor, my chef, my advisor, my comfort zone, my comedic relief, the best dad to our Croix and my best friend. Doing life with him is truly one of the biggest pleasures of my life.

South Port, Florida - Wedding Day May 4, 2013
Photo Credit: Tisha Saunders
Oooooh and fun fact:
September 7th 2012 is the anniversary of our engagement. Brent proposed on our 5 year dating anniversary in Highlands, North Carolina. 

Highlands, NC 2012
Photo Credit: Lori Foster
Happy 10 years to us! 
All photos are my own. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Architectural Details - Foyer

After we finished up the mantle rehab in the dining room, we started seriously thinking about curtains for the space. I'll get more into the selection process of those later, but while considering options and talking through costs, we realized that because the dining room and foyer kind of bled into one another, the foyer windows would need to be treated too. But 5 single windows and a bay of windows was going to be a lot of fabric and the options we really loved were not inexpensive. THE STRUGGLE! So, then we started talking about treating the foyer as it's own space and doing something different on those windows. It could work as there was a slight floor height transition between the rooms plus two faux columns separating the spaces,  but neither of these elements felt visually strong enough to make this idea work. The concept felt forced and off.  

Here is an image standing in the dining room looking into the foyer. You can see the columns I'm talking about. 

What happened next I'm going to blame on our new found love with all things Fixer Upper.  Brent said, what if we mounted antique brackets to the columns to accentuate them more. Not only would this add another layer of interest to the space but it would be a great way to visually separate the rooms without building walls. I loved the idea!

Lucky for us Scotts Antique Market was the next weekend, so we loaded up The Croix and headed out to find our brackets. We perused several options, but ultimately ended up landing on these beauties pulled off a front porch in Ohio. $200 for the whole unit (which we broke into two separate corbels). Not cheap, but they were much larger than a lot of the options and we liked the details. Not too plain, but also not too gingerbread house.

We got them home and separated them..... 

Next we knocked all of the loose paint off. We didn't want to mess with them too much, but we also didn't want paint shards falling on the heads of our guests, so we got them cleaned up a bit... 

And then placed them on the columns:

Once we identified the exact placement, Brent mounted them to the column and ceiling. Meanwhile Croix focused on an intense activity of loading and unloading his box whilst overseeing the progress. #management

With only one of the brackets up, you could already feel how well this was going to work....

and did work! Like a charm!

Visual interest, check. Defining room boundaries, check. Another layer of charm and interest, check. This whole concept worked so well that I may even go nuts and wallpaper the foyer!

All photos are my own. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Walnut Fireplace Surround

Hey, you know what takes a beautiful antique mantle with a white marble surround to the next level of eye candy?!? A walnut coat.

I know it's a little early in the season to be talking about coats, but can you deal with the prettiness?! 

OK, now that I've gone and showed you the final results let's dig into the details of this final element in the rejuvenation of this 100+ year old mantle. After we got the mantle painted, things were looking really good, but there were some holes on each side of the mantle from where the old fireplace used to sit.

We've known about the holes since we mounted the mantle earlier this year, so we've had some time to contemplate the fix. There was always the option to repair the sheetrock and paint the walls but as the mantle really started to come to life with the marble + paint, we started dreaming of adding a final layer to the scene in the way of natural wood. It just seemed like the perfect finishing touch. 

We knew we wanted to use walnut and we knew we wanted that walnut to be thick so the frame would be substantial enough to look proportional around the mantle itself. We had heard about a wood store from the folks at Highland Woodworking and popped by in early July to see if we could find what we were looking for. 

The wood store is called Carlton McLendon, Inc. and IT...IS...AWESOME! Because I design cabinetry for a living I'm a big fan of wood, but this place takes the love of wood to the next level. There is literally wood everywhere in every species and size you can imagine. Not surprisingly they had exactly what we were looking for in a big stack so we were able to sift through and pick the pieces we wanted.

These were the winners:

After that, they took the wood downstairs and ran it through the plainer. This machine smooths the top and bottom of each piece of wood, and makes it flat and symmetrical. Here is Brent catching the wood as it came through. This step was really cool because the beautiful graining and color started to show through immediately.

Unfortunately Carlton McLendon's didn't have a joiner which is the machine that cleans up the sides of the wood. This step is very important because we needed the boards to be the same size and STRAIGHT. Lucky for me, I have some super talented, woodworking friends, specifically Richard Oliver, an engineer at Bell, who rigged up a jig on the table saw to trim the wood evenly. The pieces ended up being 2" thick by roughly 5" wide.

With the wood all trimmed up we started the sanding process. Brent sanded all three pieces with 150 grit paper.

Next, we applied a coat of Tung Oil. We landed on tung oil as our finish of choice after talking with the guys at Highland Woodworking.  Natural walnut is just so beautiful, so we knew we didn't want to stain it, but rather just protect it and bring out its natural grain. They suggested Tung Oil, so that's what we went with. We applied a coat, let it dry for 24 hours, sanded it down (1st round with a 220 grit), applied tung oil, let it dry for 24 hours, sanded it down (2nd round with a 320 grit) and then applied our third coat of tung oil, let it dry for 24 hours and sanded it down a final time (3rd round with a 400 grit) with one more application of tung oil at the end.

Once the boards were completely dry, Brent applied wood glue to the back....

And then installed each piece, starting with the sides. Thank God Croix was willing to lend his muscles to the cause. 

So, because Before and Afters are just so satisfying to see, let's take a walk down memory lane...

The original fireplace:


The 100 year old mantle fresh out of my Papa-Jack & Grandmother's garage:

And finally........

Boom! We are proud of this one, she has come along way!

All photos are my own. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Chit Chat ((August 17'))

August has been a busy month so far! Last week we had work + life the first half of the week and then on to a little family trip to Texas. My brother-in-law Jimmy's Mimi had a 90th birthday in Houston on Saturday, so we made a fun trip out of it by adding on San Antonio, Austin and Waco. This was my first time to visit Texas so I was all about seeing as much as possible in our short time. Each city was cool and fun in it's own way from the Alamo and River Walk in San Antonio to some delicious food and bats in Austin (yes, bats - google it!) to the charm that is Magnolia in Waco and finally a birthday party in Houston for the cutest 90 year old I know. We had a great time but we were excited to get back to Atlanta to see our little Croix Boy!

19 months old.
We did a LOT of walking in Texas and I wore these shoes every day. I brought tennis shoes as a back up in case my feet needed a break, but the sandals were comfortable and my feet were stylish and happy the whole time. For $49.50 that's a win.


Before we get off the Texas subject we HAVE to discuss Magnolia. Are you guys Fixer Upper Fans? To be honest, I'm a new fan as I don't watch a ton of HGTV, but my Mother-In-Law, Cindy gave me their book for Mothers Day and I loved it. After that we started watching the show and Brent and I both really enjoy it. We were all super excited for the Waco portion of our trip and I'm happy to report that all things Magnolia did not disappoint. We got cupcakes at the bakery, shopped at the store, toured around the Seed & Feed, kicked a ball on the lawn and took a ton of pictures. It's just a happy place that is so well done and layered in consideration and inspiration.

The store was full of all kinds of good stuff and I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonably priced it was. It was hot and it was crowded but it was worth the drive and somewhere I would definitely recommend going if you get the chance.


Let's talk food for a minute. Do you guys like pizza? If so, you need to try Varuni Napoli in Atlanta.

This place is not new, but it is easily our favorite pizza joint in the city. The pizza is made to order in a wood burning oven and it's the closest thing to the real deal italian pizza I have tasted here in Atlanta. Sometimes Brent and I go here, sit at the bar and watch them make the pizza, mentally taking notes in hopes the same tasty results will one day come out of our pizza oven.


I found out about a little trick on Pinterest and now I have found myself using the site more than ever. Obviously Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration and ideas for anything and everything; house projects, outfits, workouts, recipes, costumes, etc. They have it all. But my biggest qualm with the site was you never could figure out where anything was from. Before, if you like a paint color, a piece of hardware, an earring, could click the picture and it may take you to a retail site, a blog, or just nowhere but often times I could never figure out where I could get what I was seeing and liking. It was frustrating and really turned me off from the site all together. But THEN I learned this trick....

Ok, we are going to use this pin of our dining room from our first house as an example.

So you are perusing Pinterest and you see this picture and really like the horse head on the table. It's just what you have been looking for! So you click the photo and it enlarges the image like this:

Now, do you see the little white square in the top right corner of the picture? If you click that a croppable square will appear that you can drag around the photo and then crop in around the element you want to know more about.....

Here you can see I have cropped around the horse head and now all kind of similar items are popping up on the right side.

How cool is that!? You're welcome in advance! 

Unless otherwise noted all photos are my own. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Today I want to talk countertops.

White marble is still one of the most popular countertop selections in the kitchen and bath market despite the fact that it is porous and does require upkeep and maintenance. Over the years countless companies have come out with  man-made options some of which I have talked about here on the blog, however when it came time to pick the countertops for my first kitchen, what did I choose? Marble. But maybe not next time for me...why? Well, there is a new (to me) kid on the block and he is putting all of the other options to shame. His name: Neolith.

This name may ring a bell as I talked a lot about it during a few instastories surrounding my  Luxury Living Show Bath at Phipps Plaza earlier this year. I selected the Calacatta Gold for the shower walls and was blown away by the finished results.

Photo by David Christensen for Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine
Can you believe this is not real marble? I had seen the marble - esque slabs in person at Stone Center, but seeing the product installed in this shower application just blew me away. It really looks like marble. The veining, the colors, even the feel..... 

Photo by David Christensen for Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine
It's a looker that's for sure, bur even more importantly, it is virtually indestructible.

Yes you read that right, this product is....
  • UV Resistant - making it great for outdoor applications.
  • Waterproof - No etching!!!
  • Freeze/Thaw resistant - another great attribute for an outdoor surface
  • Hygienic - meaning it is suitable for food contact. In fact it's just as good as stainless steel.
  • Easy to Clean - No household material will hurt it. 
  • Heat resistant up to 500 degrees celsius
  • Stain Resistant
To prove the last two points Leo Chuahy, owner of Stone Center brought a few props into our showroom last week to showcase the toughness of this stone. Up first - a blow torch.....yes, a BLOW TORCH. 

A lot of quartz surfaces say you can put hot plates and pans right out of the oven on their surfaces, but most of them can only withstand up to 350 - 390 degrees. Neolith is heat resistant up to 500 degrees celsius (932 degrees farenheight!), so there is nothing you could cook in your kitchen that would be hot enough to hurt these countertops.

Next he pulled out a sharpie and a can of spray paint. He let me write on the stone with the sharpie and then wiped it right off with rubbing alcohol.

Next, he sprayed this smiley face on the stone using spray paint.....


..... let it dry and again, it wiped right up. For me, this is so cool because I think of all the activities that happen on our countertops, specifically our island. While you can get (and I did) natural stone surfaces like marble sealed against food and beverage stains, I would of never feel comfortable enough to let Croix color with sharpies or Brent paint something on my old marble countertops. They were just too fragile in my mind. It would be really cool to have a surface that not only looks the way you want it to, but is care-free enough you can actually use it and enjoy it worry free.

Ok, ok, you get it..Neolith is cool, but what exactly is Neolith? Neolith is a sintered compact surface made with 100% natural material. Quartz, silicon and clay are mixed together and brought to solid form using high pressure, high temperatures or both, which is exactly how the earth makes natural stones like granite or marble. It is a 100% recyclable material that comes in a lot of different patterns and finishes, from matte to polished and a few in between. One of the coolest things about this product is it's size. It's light weight and can get as small as 1/8"(3mm) thick which is what you would use for cabinet cladding. The next size up is 1/4" (6mm), perfect for walls and flooring (this is the size we used for the walls of the shower in the photos above). And finally 1/2" (12mm) which is the size used for the countertops. The shower wall application is especially nice because you will be able to create drama and beauty with no grout!

As you can see, Neolith has a lot of good points, however, like anything, it has it's limitations. It is not chip resistant. No stone countertop is, but there can be the misconception that because this stone is SO easy to care for and worry free that it is indestructible. But this not true, like any stone, it can crack or chip if it's hit at the right angle with the right pressure. The good news.... chips and cracks can be repaired.

As I think about my next kitchen remodel, it excites me that there is finally a product like Neolith that will allow me to get the look I want without sacrificing my sanity down the road.  It's funny because when we bought our first house, the kitchen was the very first thing we tackled, but now that I'm a Mom, I'm thankful almost every day that I do not have a brand new kitchen in this house as I watch Croix slam into cabinets and spill anything and everything on the countertops. Kids change things and while I know he will grow out of this specific phase, he is going to live here, eat here, play here, do homework here, etc. for the next 16 1/2 years, so the idea of having a surface in the most used room of my house that he can actually use without me worrying sounds pretty good.

So yeah, I'm a fan....can you blame me? 

If you are in the Atlanta area and you are interested in hearing more or would like to see the stone for yourself, Stone Center in Norcross is the place for you. Click this link here for their info. 

Unless otherwise noted all photos are my own.