Living Room: ORC- Fall 2020 Week 4

This week has been a bit of a whirlwind, personally and with this project. Its officially week 4 of the One Room Challenge. We did a big big thing, installed our gorgeous Ingrid Stuga Floors! Now I have to admit that this room being open to other spaces really puts a damper on the final results. I can see the old laminate in the dining room and the old beige tile in the foyer. We will get to those, but we have to decide on our kitchen refresh to do those floors. Home takes time, and I need more patience.

We started out by emptying most of the room, removing the baseboards and laminate, then renting a mini jack hammer (and so glad we did!). We wanted to remove the fireplace hearth- thats the raised tile or brick extension in front of the firebox. It was wasted space in the room, the tile wasn’t in great condition, it was sharp (my daughter scratched her foot just the night before). We are also never going to use this fireplace for wood, it will have an electrical insert, in California I think regular wood burning fireplaces aren’t even allowed in new builds any more.

Unfortunately the contractors that worked with the realtor to give this home a facelift before it went on the market had some less than stellar work methods. We began to remove the tile and noticed that underneath was a layer of backer-board, then drywall!?! which was thin-set to the concrete base. It’s common to have concrete over mesh instead of wood subfloor under the hearth, to prevent fire risk, but it’s not common or even recommended to ever use drywall under a hearth, and never would you thin-set drywall. Drywall crumbles very easily when the paper layers are removed, which is exactly what happens when you try to pry it up from the thin-set.

Look at this interesting old wallpaper? The leaves were actually raised, like leaf skeletons. Kind of cool.

So we had a crumbly dusty mess to deal with. It added an hour and a lot more dust than necessary. But we got it up, and gained 15″ of space in the room! After that we were ready to clean up the subfloor and add some screws to prevent squeaks. Then we rolled out the indoor pool blue underlayment and got work laying the floors! We have already laid floors in many rooms, so this wasn’t our first rodeo. It went fairly quick since the room is just a rectangle so not much to cut around. Then added new baseboards, the ones under the steps are temporary, and will be replaced once we do the other rooms with the hardwood nosing.

When we were finishing the floors, our electric fireplace insert arrived, and we had to put it in to test it. We love it! Does it look real? Not exactly, but it gives the ambiance of a fire, its safe and not smokey. It didn’t cover the hole completely so I need to make trim painted black to go around it. Speaking of little details, I also need to get some stone to finish the bottom of the fireplace that used to have the tile hearth in front of it.

So here we are, the floors are done! They look lovely. Now it’s the little details, fine tuning, and styling the room. I purchased a coffee table off Facebook marketplace (seriously sucked down that rabbit hole right now!). The coffee table has good bones but I don’t like the finish, so staining or painting is in the future. And I’m not sure about our old coffee table as an end table. Living room tables are my undoing. See you in week 5!

Our little pup loves to perch on the sofa and watch the world go by!

Living Room: ORC- Fall 2020 Week 3

Wow week 3 already for the One Room Challenge. This week it didn’t feel like much progress was made, but I did a thing I should have done a long time ago; we painted the fireplace!

I’m sure there are many people who loved the stone finish on the fireplace (I know our realtor did when he bragged about that upgrade he had the previous home owners do for the sale). But it just wasn’t my thing. It was very pink and cheap looking in person. Ultimately I want to cover it with drywall and Portola paints roman clay (I even have my samples to test colors) for the plaster look, but we have SO many projects happening that I knew it wasn’t going to get done any time soon and I had all I needed to finish this paint job.

I used flat Sherwin Williams paint in Alabaster (left over from my laundry/half bath room), and mixed in some baking soda. This was a total experiment, I’ve never used baking soda to thicken and create a chalk like paint before, but I knew if I didn’t thicken the paint it would never fill in between the stones, so I would be left with a lot of gaps or I would need to fill them prior to painting with either grout or drywall compound. I also knew I would need to do two coats since it wasn’t covering the stone completely with paint alone. I didn’t want to have multiple steps (read lazy) so I tested one side with the baking soda mixed paint and VOILA, it was thick and left a nice mildly gritty stone texture finish that wouldn’t require a second step!

Don’t mind the homeschool dining room in the corner. this is where I tried to use Chantilly Lace, the same color as the wall- it was too bright, so I went with Alabaster.

I really love the finish, it looks so much more lux and solid. I’m also glad I used SW Alabaster versus the brighter BM Chantilly Lace color on the walls. It softened the stone a bit to have the warmer white.

If you want to do this to your stone fireplace here’s the steps:

  1. Mix 2 parts paint to 1 part Baking soda (truthfully I just eyed my measurements, so it’s not very scientific, and depending on how thick and how gritty you want the finish you can adjust the recipe).
  2. Paint your stone fireplace. If you have stacked stone like mine without grout, be sure to get into the seams with enough thickness to fill any gaps.

Notes: I prefer flat paint, but I did another small project after with satin finish paint and it worked the same, the baking soda basically flattens the satin away.

Coming up next week are some big changes; Fireplace Insert, and FLOORS! So excited and exhausted just thinking about it. We have already replaced flooring in all our upstairs bedrooms and hallway, and our downstairs playroom. So we have some experience. Its a lot of work with many steps, floor removal, prep, laying the actual floor, and then finishing the trim and baseboards. But it will make a huge difference.

Living Room: One Room Challenge – Fall 2020 Week 2

It’s week 2 for the One Room Challenge, and I’m giving you all a very bad example of how this process should go. Why? Because I’m doing it all out of order. I’m basically decorating and styling, knowing very well that we will be removing everything to redo the floors in the next week or two. So don’t do as I do, instead be smart and get the big messy remodeling done before you bring in the new rug and rearrange the furniture.

I’m determined to spend very little money on this room. Partly because we have already spent plenty on new flooring (we are DIYing all the Stuga wood flooring in our home and have already completed our upstairs and the playroom), a new rug (got a great deal on it though!) and the not pretty but really important new chimney damper. That means most of the furniture, art, decor will be DIYed, shopped from my house, and my shop, Domov.

This week we did finally get a new damper on top of our chimney! We may have to relocate the wire hook in the firebox when we get an electrical insert, but otherwise it’s done. We hired out for this and I think its making a big difference. I have an extremely sensitive nose and unfortunately the previous owners didn’t take good care of the chimneys- they obviously enjoyed many wood burning fires, but maybe never bothered to clean them. With the poorly sealing damper, I was smelling smokey burnt smells any time I was near the fireplace. We even had it cleaned and it did little to stop the smell. Then we learned that the poorly sealing damper was actually creating pressure and pulling air in through the chimney into the house causing the smell to disperse. So while there isn’t a pretty after pic to show, this was an important part of the room.

The rug came and I really like it. It is a loloi rug, the printed kind, so not fluffly or really soft, but we added a pad and I’m someone who enjoys this style of rug. The colors are lovely, and I know it will look great with the new floors.

I have decided to repurpose our coffee table, which is too small as a coffee table for the space, as a low large side table. It works well for the space between both couches. I put up the new curtains and love them! They are super long and I really should hem them, but I may not get to it. Our blinds are battery operated with a remote, which we LOVE, so they are what we close and open, the curtains are just for decoration, but they add so much.

These Studio McGee blankets from Target are the best. My kids love a soft nicely weighted blanket and so they each have one, but this gorgeous brick colored one is mine.

And now the fauxdenza. We have had this guy for over 10 years now. Back in the day when blogging was everything, Anna of Door 16 shared her fauxdenza made from ikea cabs and we made one too. This one is made of ikea kitchen Akrum cabinets (their old kitchen line prior to sektion) with Veddinge doors and wrapped in stained plywood. It has been in every home and survived so much abuse from the kids and all our moves. Now as much as I love this piece and its durability, I’m not sold on it in here, but remember I’m trying to shop my home… so I removed the mid century legs that we had on it and replaced the knobs. None of it feels right yet, so more changes will probably come.

But the coffee table struggle is real- I believe I have had this issue in most every home. Other parents with young kids probably get the coffee table struggles too; it needs to be DURABLE, not too sharp or dangerous, and take up just the right amount of space for kids to move around freely. The other big hurdle, I refuse to pay a lot right now. And “a lot” is relative, but under a couple hundred dollars is my budget. So I’m checking facebook marketplace and nextdoor, and thinking of hacks or DIYs. Don’t get me wrong, I have found plenty of gorgeous perfect ones, besides the price and finish durability. There are some great options out there right now. But I would cry if I spent $900-$2000 on a table that my kids scratched up after the first week.

So thats where we are this week. Next week we will be starting on the floors!

Living Room: ORC- Fall 2020 Week 1


Here we go again! Its my third time participating in the One Room Challenge, I did in Spring 2019 before we even knew we would be selling our house when I remodeled the hall bathroom. I registered for the winter 2019 ORC, but life was not wanting that to happen, so I made the choice to sit it out. Then I registered and completed (but without any sharing!) the ORC for Spring 2020. I will have to do a post on thast some time. So I’m a little inconsistent and we will see how well I do this time with posting.

For those unfamliar with the ORC, you will get to watch me make a space in 6 weeks! Yes, only 6 weeks. I’ve been mentally remodeling and planning for much longer than that, but the work and finishing touches are happening fast.  The ORC is great because it allows you to see the full process designers use to create a space, planing, mood boards, selecting finishes, budgeting, etc.

We will be working on our living room. It has great bones, but needs some updating to be up to my taste. Definitely replacing the floors. We will already started replacing all the carpet in the house with Stuga wood floors and we LOVE them. So next is the laminate.

Here’s the before from the listing when we purchased the house:

See, good bones. Staged in the traditional way homes are staged, baby blue walls? Don’t ask me.

Here’s when we did what we could when we moved in over a year ago.

It’s been cute, but the room felt like it didn’t have structure. Its a large space and most of it was open. The kids liked it, but it didn’t feel cozy, I think we can do better. That rug has since been moved to our playroom, we do love that rug.

We did attempt a few things to try and make the fireplace work, adding a mantle and a mirror. And while I liked the look for christmas, it wasn’t my style year round, it was too busy and farmhouse-y. The stone looks much prettier in the photos than it does in person. Its very pale pink in person.

Heres the Living Room Mood Board:

Pretty huh?


  1. Replace the floors.
  2. Update the firsplace? First and foremost we are replacing our damper. It doesn’t seal well and we even had bees enter through the top in spring. We also plan to add an electric insert. No need to burn real wood (allergies and the environment). The new face lift may not be completed, but I will try!
  3. New Baseboards
  4. Figure out ideal layout
  5. The rest will all be decor, furniture placement, and styling!
  6. Paint touch ups
  7. Enjoy!

House Trends in Design, Whats Next?

New Mid Century Modern , Modern Craftsman, Modern Beach House, Modern Farmhouse… these are just a few home trends that have popped up over recent years and are modern takes on older styles. Recently you must have heard about “Modern Cottage”, unless you aren’t an avid follower of Chis Loves Julia; which if you aren’t, their blog and gram are worth checking out.

Chris Loves Julia published a post about their new home that they are renovating, The renovation has been exhilarating to follow. The house is quite large, and they are making some big statement changes. They have been defining the new style of their home as “Modern Cottage” which, much like Modern Farmhouse, is a bit of a nod to an older style, pulling in many elements, while modernizing it. Basically, it doesn’t have to be an authentic cottage- because how many of us live in the English countryside?

On my route to my sons preschool, there are about 5 large Modern Farmhouses being built/renovated in a 2 block radius- no, I’m not in the country, I’m in Silicon Valley. I think many of us credit the boom in this style to Joanna and Chip of “Fixer Upper” and Magnolia fame. Interiors and exteriors were white and crisp, with high contrast features; such as matte black hardware (which I will never stop loving), exposed brick, shaker cabinets, farmhouse apron sinks, shiplap everything, rustic wood floors, and country lighting fixtures- much to love.

Lately, we are seeing moodier vibes, stone exteriors and fireplaces, more vintage or vintage “look” items, European designs (like these ranges, absolutely gorgeous), white oak and light wood stained cabinets or darker painted cabinets, and matte black seems to be taking a back seat to brass, usually unfinished brass that will patina. With all of these features; its cozy, layered, and personal. I think Modern cottage is definitely a pretty trend and hope to see more of it.

So whats next, I guess thats the title of this post. Obviously no one can predict the next trend (though some designers might dictate it!), but I’ll tell you what I’m seeing popping up, and the vibe I’m digging the most right now…….wait for it…..

Modern Spanish Revival.

I know, its been done before, those early 2000’s home developments- but I’m not talking about those ticky tacky boxes on the hillside. I’m talking about this:

And this:

When Amber Interiors (my, and probably many others, design idol) revealed her “Whats The Story Spanish Glory” I was in awe. It was very different then a lot of her previous work, but so good. It really solidified my love for this style. Just take a look at these images of the inside!

I lived in a truly magnificent real Spanish Revival till about age 8. It was a special home with all the iconic features, terra-cotta  roof, arched doorways, spiral staircase, arched window in the living room. It was a work of art and I credit my love of architecture and interior design in part to that home. It was also in dire need of restorations so we had contractors there almost daily, something I’m sure my kids will remember from their childhoods too! So maybe, the style is a bit nostalgic for me.

And in full disclosure- I recently moved. My new house is much like many homes built around the 70’s in the Silicon Valley; soulless, sorta a ranch but not really, with hints of some styles, but ultimately not staking claim to any of them. Obviously it wont stay that way, I can’t live in a home without the desire to beautify it. So I began looking at what features were already there, and how I could maximize the style without completely knocking down my home and starting all over. Jenny Komenda of Juniper Home also talks about this; when you go to add, renovate, or simply decorate your home, unless you are doing a total rebuild, make it work with whats there- Stay true to your homes style. For example, if you have a mid century modern home, adding modern cottage is probably going to feel really off.

After studying my home for a while, and getting a little discouraged, I realized its got more Spanish Revival elements than any other style, so I began working from there. My home is stucco, I have arches across the front porch, I have beams in a cathedral living room, and while I don’t have a clay roof, many in the neighborhood do (its definitely the style will we will go with when it needs replacing).

Since then I have been researching and pinning all the modern Spanish and original Spanish revival homes. The crisp white stucco exterior mixed with darker windows (black or espresso or bronze), and a terra-cotta roof, just totally does it for me! I fell in love and so this is my style story or house genre (such great phrases from CLJ)

I’ve also noticed that some of the Modern Cottage features that are so popular right now, don’t even read Modern Cottage to me- they actually read Modern Spanish. For example, arches everywhere (doorways, windows), concrete and Mexican tiles, dark trim and windows, moody vibes. I guess that goes to show how many styles and trends share similar elements and borrow from each-other to create entirely new looks. If you want to see the ultimate marriage between Spanish and cottage, look no further than Patina Farms, an absolutely beautiful Modern Mediterranean home.

So while I’ll let everyone label their own designs, you heard it hear first, Modern Spanish is coming, even if only in my home, but I think it will be glorious.

What do you think will be the next trend? Or whats your homes style?

Bathroom Budget and Sources


I really liked participating in the One Room Challenge. There was definitely a feeling of “we are in this together”. Lots of supportive people working on complex and fun spaces.

Before I get into the sources for the bathroom, lets talk budget.

I could NOT find any accurate info on costs before we did our large remodel a few years ago. And part of that is because “it all depends” on sooo many factors. But the more designers and consumers openly share, the more others can get a clear picture of how this works.

Labor for this project, which included; demo, tiling, installing new vanity and toilet (remember I kept the same tub), updating shower valve, replace wall plumbing pieces, dry wall replacement and texture (where the old tile covered the wall surrounding the toilet), adding light above the tub, changing to two sconces instead of one overhead light above the mirror, and replacing outlets and switches. All this labor costed about $6000. I live in one of the highest cost of living areas in all of the US, don’t even think of owning a home under $1M kind of area. That means labor here is often higher than other areas.

But even so, what I paid was a STEAL. I attribute that to working with great professionals who I have used in the past and have rapport with, as well as acting as my own General Contractor. I hired my teams separately and managed what needed to happen and when. If I had hired a GC, they would have hired all the sub workers and then tacked on 20%, sometimes more. GC are absolutely invaluable when you get into big projects, or if you don’t know anything about remodeling and don’t have any good contacts for hiring the right team. I’m not knocking the mark up of a GC, its well worth it often time. But if you can (and be real with yourself, not everyone can), you will save a lot by acting as your own GC.

Also- know the scope of work, and get the quotes ahead of time. A change order is what happens when you decide to do something different or add something last minute during a project. Most of the time its going cost you more that way, then if you had a detailed contract outlining the work. It can also delay the project, which in turn costs time and money.

So labor was $6000 and items I purchased ended up coming to about $1800. So this was a $7800 bathroom remodel. Not too bad for one of the most expensive places to live in the US. And if you’re someone who always thinks of the return on investment, I would imagine this remodel would have great return if/when we decide to sell.


48” Vanity

Rug (vintage find)








Shower and Bath Faucet



Small canvas paintings (made by me)



Wall tile

Floor tile


Art on wall next to toilet

Toilet Paper Holder



Hand Towel

Candle (made by me)

Hall Bathroom Reveal! – ORC Week 6


Week 6 of the One Room challenge, Its reveal day! This project got a little hairy at the end, I probably painted for 5 hrs on Sunday. It’s a small bathroom, but the extra divider walls and cramped spaces made painting take so long.

We are really happy with how it turned out. I didn’t go into this bathroom saying, let’s go modern farmhouse, but it’s definitely where we ended up. It’s in line with the rest of the house and works well. To be fair, we went very safe in this bathroom, there’s talk of moving in the next few years, and right when we began this bathroom a home fell into our lap. It’s a total gut job, which of course I love. The current owners are taking their time on whether they want to sell it to us or not (it’s not officially on the market and no one has lived in it for over 10 years!), so its just up in the air right now. But yes, risks were minimal because of resale and budget. But you know what, theres a reason “safe” design is beautiful, its made to reach and please a wide audience.

Before you scroll down, in case you forgot where we started, check out the Week 1of ORC. Then we started with some intense tile demo in Week 2. And most of the tile work was done by then. In Week 3 the electrical got mostly flushed out, and we completed it by Week 4. Not much happened for Week 5, besides some decor decision and a lovely vintage rug. The textured drywall and painting were squeaked in this last weekend.

Whew, we’ve come a long way! And I feel transparency about remodeling/design costs is really important. So when I do my source post I will discuss budget and costs.

Ok, enough of that, lets look at pretty things. I love how bright and airy it feels, walking by it in the hallway just lifts my mood. The kids like it to. Let me know if you want to know about any of the colors, items we used, but I will do a separate post listing all the sources eventually. Enjoy!


Canvas frames for under $2!

I’m going to share a simple and very inexpensive way to frame canvas art. Whether it’s a painting of yours or a photo printed on canvas, adding a frame can make it feel more substantial and complete.

In the past I have used pieces of wood, 1x2s, mitered the edges and stained them, then nailed them to the canvas. This looks nice, but I wanted to do something for a couple of very small canvas paintings I had. These are about 6″x6″ squares. I wanted quick and easy and almost free.

I can’t remember where I originally saw this idea, and I tried searching afterwards, but didn’t find the post that sparked this, but I decided to go with paint mixing sticks as my wood.

Some paint stores give them away for free. Home Depot sells 10 packs of regular size (sticks for 1 gallon paints) and 3 packs of larger sizes (allows you to do this with a larger canvas!) for under $1. Anyways, they are readily available and free to inexpensive.

I didn’t want to bring the saw out so I hand cut them in a saw box. The wood is so thin that it goes fast. In the future I will probably miter them and use a saw, but this worked for a quick spir of the moment DIY frame.

After cutting the pieces, I sanded the rough edges down a bit with a sanding block I had on hand. The sticks I used have a ruler grid on one side, you could easily sand this off, or just make sure its on the back inside of the wood- this is what I did and it doesn’t show.

After cutting and sanding them I could have stopped and left the wood raw, but this is going in my bathroom. See it here for the ORC. I have a mirror in there and I wanted to match the wood a bit. So, again I could have pulled out some stain, but I wasn’t wanting to deal with the smell and the volatility- with 3 young kids around it can be hard to find the time to properly clean and put away items like that. Life is a bit unpredicatable around here, and I often get desgin stuff done in the in-between moments.

So, I just got my acrylic paints, and mixed a few colors to get a close match to the mirror frame. I added a bit of water to make it more of a wash then a full coat of paint. I wanted some fo the natural wood grain to come through. It took a few mixes to get the color I wanted- I just tested it on the cut pieces left over from making the frame. This all took less than 10 min.

After I settled on the color, I painted and let them dry. Then I took out my trusty hot glue gun, and glued them down. I told you, so simple. Now I have to say, make sure you get it on there right the first time because hot glue is NOT forgiving and it ripped some of the canvas, fortunatey only the canvas part that would remain covered. But this could have gone bad, and could have destroyed an irreplaceable piece of art.

If you have larger/thicker wood, I would definitely recommend you use nails or staples. But the sticks are really thin, so glue worked.

So there you have it, under $2.00 and the art feels complete.

These paintings were inspired by Melissa Lyons amazing flower paintings. Hers are huge and just absolutely lovely.

Check back when the bathroom is complete to see them up and in action!



ORC- Hall Bathroom Week 5

One room challenge week 5!

My rug came and its lovely.  I wanted some color, some vintage vibes, and one that was thin enough that we didn’t have to shave the door any more- it was a win win.

I picked out some more decor for the space, but besides that, not much has happened. We hosted my daughters frinds for a rockin 6th birthday party, and it really took up the weekend. We couldn’t start dry wall work and have our guests deal with the dusty mess, so we waited. This weekend I have a drywall guy coming to do it right for us. Then on Sunday, I will paint like a mad woman. Going with white, white, and more white. My whole house is painted white right now. I do think a future room project will lead to some other wall colors, but this bathroom needs the white.

Still to do: drywall, paint, threshold reducer, decor, style & photos. Going to have to really crunch the beginning of next week to get it all done.

And, as stressful as this project was, I’m already planning my next one. But its not a big reno, just some painting and decorating. Really excited about it.

ORC- Hall Bathroom Week 4


Getting close! Week 4 One Room Challenge. We are doing things a bit out-of-order. Electrical is all in, but the walls are not textured or painted. We had to get lights and mirror up so our guests had a somewhat finished bathroom for my daughter’s birthday party. We will have to take the mirror down and of few pieces of the sconces off and then cover the rest really well to paint. But what it looks like now is such a big improvement! The room feels bigger and brighter already. The height of the mirror makes a big difference.


I’m on the hunt for the perfect accessories. The rug is always tricky, I can get in a loop mulling over beautiful vintage rugs. Pro tip- Have an inspiration piece to pull from. Like a piece of art or rug, and build the design off of it. I did not do this, this project had all sorts of project creep going on. If you don’t know what project creep is, it’s when you do or plan a project, and then a bunch of other projects start to need doing.

For example, we started out this bathroom just planning to change the vanity and mirror and lights. Yes, no tile changes, no rerouting electrical. Well, when I saw the new vanity I couldn’t imagine putting it in the blue tile mess that we had. So tile became a part of the plan. Then we realized that the lighting needed to be not only updated, but placement needed altering due to the mirror, and we HAD to have a light above the bath. Giving the kids baths with it is very helpful. So there you are, a mainly cosmetic change turned into a major renovations. Oh and then there’s the unexpected, like whoever remodeled the bathroom previously used incorrect sizes for the p-traps and no new drains would install with it, so ultimately they had to redo the plumbing under the tub! Good thing I had a great team doing the tile and plumbing- another Pro tip- HAVE A GREAT TEAM.

A great team is one that cleans up after themselves every day, is flexible with your design changes (because there will be many!), charges fairly (not cheap!), produces good solid work, and is nice/tolerates to your kids! Ha, that last one is specific to me. My team had quite the inside view to my kids meltdowns and drama. There were siblings issues, toddler tantrums, kids moving in and out around them quickly. They were great and even got sweet byes from my littlest.

Still to do: drywall – tape/mud/texture, caulk, paint room, add filler pieces on side of the vanity, install a floor reducer at the threshold, finalize accessories, take some sweet pictures (this is going to be challenging due to the size of the bathroom and the wall). Not that much left!

Well that’s all for week 4 of the ORC. Check out some fo the other fantastic projects here.