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.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Musical Chairs

So, the funniest thing happened. I literally shopped my own home for the answer to a long time hunt for our dining room - chairs!

OK, so after we got the mantle all painted up, the space was feeling good, which made us even more eager to keep the ball rolling. The room definitely had/has a ways to go but one obvious element that was missing was chairs.  Ever since we had the table made and purchased the blue wing back chairs last summer we have been on a quiet hunt for dining room chairs but could never find anything just right.

Then a few weeks ago, my Aunt Janis offered us a set of dining room chairs from a house she is selling. They are a more traditional style antique (ish) stained wooden chair with an upholstered seat. While the current state of the chair would not work with the aesthetic of the room we were optimistic we could sand them down and reupholster the seats to make them jive. We hadn't had the chair 24 hours when Brent started sanding the finish down on one side of the chair and we immediately began the conversation about what color we would paint them. But, with every idea we threw around, it became more and more obvious to me that painted chairs would not work in this space. The table was stained, the wing back chairs were a blue upholstered fabric, painted dining chairs with another fabric on the seats just seemed like way too much going on. I knew the chairs needed to be stained in medium color similar to the table. And then it hit me.....I have chairs like that. Sitting just a few rooms over in our breakfast room were the chairs I needed.

Do you guys remember these chairs from our first house

They came with us when we moved and had been sitting around our breakfast room table. We had 6 of them and they were a wedding gift from my parents. We could only fit 4 around our little table in the first house, but needed 10 to fit around our much larger breakfast table at the new house. Unfortunately  they stopped making this exact chair so we ended up purchasing these other chairs from World Market and mixed the two styles around the table. It has looked good for the past 18 months, but in a flash I knew I needed those 6 upholstered chairs in the dining room stat....and guess what?

I was right. 

They are PERFECT and instantly felt right in the room. So now, all I need is 6 more of the "X" back bistro chairs to fill in the gap in the breakfast room and I'm back in business.

 I have to say it's pretty exhilarating making pretty things happen and spending zero dollars. I'm sure Brent would be thrilled if I started making a habit of this new shopping style. #eyeroll

All photos are my own. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Gates Nursery Reveal

On June 8th our family welcomed it's newest member - Gates!

I'm so excited to be an Aunt and I'm even more excited that Croix and Gates are so close together in age. Cousins are THE BEST and I love that they will get to grow up together.

Today I want to show you all his nursery. Let me start by saying I had literally zero to do with this space. My sister, Candace, who could totally be an interior designer herself, (hello, remember her home office?) + her husband Jimmy get all the credit here, I just love how happy it is. Plus, I know spaces like this only make the world a better place, visually at least ;) and need to be shared.

Ok, let me show you around.....

They bought a new house earlier this year and got started on the nursery right away by having the walls painted Shoreline by Benjamin Moore. They wanted a crisp and clean color to act as the backdrop for all the pops of fun decor and furniture. 

Speaking of fun decor.....umm..... H E L L O adorable little friends....

On the other side of the room sits the changing table with a closet full of teeny tiny little boy clothes beyond. I love how they elevated the look of the Ikea dresser with some new cool brass hardware! 

One of my favorite elements in the room are the framed words to the song "Little Boy Blue" flanking each side of the window that Candace had commissioned from Journey Joyful on Etsy. Our Grandma used to sing that song to us all when we were little and I think it was so sweet to bring a piece of her (Gates' namesake!) into this space. 

Pretty stinking' happy right?!  I'd totally lay here, all wrapped up in my swaddle like a burrito, enjoying the sites.  Gates is definitely a lucky little guy! Plus, it's cool to think it won't be long until Gates is crawling on that cute rug and reading stories with his Mom and Dad in the rocker and likely ripping all the beautifully styled items off that bookshelf (Croix will teach him that part :) )

All photos are my own. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Finishing Our Antique Mantle

We finally pulled the trigger on a finishing treatment for our 100+ year old fireplace surround in our dining room!

If you have been following along (here and here) you know we were torn on how to treat the finish of this jewel. As much as we loved the existing dark stained look, the overall finish was in rough shape and we knew it would have to be addressed.

To make matters more complicated the piece is pretty fragile.  There are a lot of delicate details throughout, which is what makes it so beautiful,but it also makes it susceptible to chipping so we knew a huge amount of sanding or messing with the piece in general would not be ideal. So, we decided painting was the way to go.

We taped off around the mantle, and more importantly around the new marble surround.

Then we pushed the dining room table back and created a Dexter-esque room with floor to ceiling plastic to ensure no paint or paint dust would make it's way to the rest of the room/house. 

With everything prepped we were ready to paint. We decided on Stone Hearth by Benjamin Moore, a nice creamy taupe in a gloss finish. We felt like the taupe would bring the elegance while the glossy finish would accentuate all of the beautiful detailing throughout this piece. We loaded up our trusty paint gun and got to work. 

Brent sprayed the entire piece with one thick coat of paint and we let it dry for a few days. Once dry we were extremely happy with the color but noticed we had a lot of caulking to do. The lighter color definitely covered up some of the missing wood chunks, but it also brought out all of the cracks and imperfections. 

We filled in all of the holes.....

... and then sprayed on another coat. 

 Next, we got out the sand paper and sanded down any imperfections/runs in the paint and then applied our final coat of paint. 

Once that paint was dry I could not pull that plastic covering down fast enough.


What do you guys think? Did we do the mantle justice? We are loving it and can't wait to build the whole room around this statement piece. 

The next step? We plan to add walnut trim around the fireplace to fill all of the open holes from the previous mantle. If you follow me on Instagram you know that Brent and I popped into an awesome wood shop the other day and came home with some great wood. Here is a little sneak peek of what's to come......

All photos are my own. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

My Dad

 Whoa, 2 posts in 1 did you get so lucky ;)

With the new showroom opening, I feel like I have come out of a fog and I have lots to say. On my mind tonight...Father's Day. We have had a very family-centered last few days as my sister and brother-in-law welcomed their first child, Gates, into the world! The birth of my first nephew got me thinking about names, sentimental meanings, family and my own little one, Croix. It always makes me smile when I think about how Croix shares his middle name, Glenn with my Dad, Kendall Glenn.

I got the chance to spend a lot of one-on-one time with my Dad over the past few days as we waited and waited and waited for baby Gates to arrive. During this time I was reminded how awesome he is and why we wanted to name our first son after him. I knew my whole life he was great. He has the kind of temperament and quiet wisdom that draws people to him. Dry wit, relatable, weird in the best way and down-to-earth realness are just some of the qualities we hope Croix gets from his Papa K. I think back on my own life and all of the people who played a part in making me who I am today. Sometimes it makes me weirdly excited at the great foundation Croix has (and doesn't even know it) just based on the family he was born into.

We won't be spending Father's Day together this year, so that will give my Dad a few weeks to forgive me for bragging on his awesomeness for all the world to see. :) Love you Dad!

All photos are my own.