When You Love Art A Little Too Much

Earlier this year I put a small gallery wall in my living room.  I spent a lot of time thinking about picking art pieces that would all flow together and purchased all black frames. There was so much good art out there though I had a tough time narrowing down  my choices since there was a limited number of places to hang them.  I picked my top ones and hung it up. Since then I still have been eyeing the art that I have pinned wishing to purchase more. The dilemma I was having though is that my thermostat is placed right in the middle of the wall so it is hard to work around it.

Then I had an a-ha moment – what if I put a shelf below it and have the artwork placed around it. Sometimes things are so obvious that you just can’t see them right away… Anyways, my wall measures 73″ wide so initially I planned to purchase 2 shelves that measured 36″ wide making the total 72″. The plan was to put these two shelves next to each other to make one continuous shelf. Since I have one frame that is pretty large I planned to only have two rows of shelving. I was going to save this plan and file it away as a future project *until* I came across build plans to make your own shelf. Intrigued I reviewed it to see what was involved. Not only was the cost super cheap, but each row of shelves could be made with one continuous piece of wood. Yes!

I followed the plans provided by Ana White and got the wood trimmed to size at Home Depot. Then I decided to use the left over paint from my dining room project to help carry the color into the living room.

And here is the finished product – yay! As you can see I now have lots of room to add more artwork to my ledges.

Dining Room Molding

I love moldings; plain and simple. They add texture and architectural details to homes that are normally not included. I love them so much I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to them. Over the last year I have updated my downstairs windows with a craftsman window trim and was ready to tackle another molding project. I restored my dining room from a former playroom and decided this would be the best place to tackle it.

Here are my inspiration photos…

What inspired me about these walls was the square shape and the dark grey color. I have been wanting to do a dark moody accent wall but have been struggling to get the courage to go so bold. My current wall color was this beautiful color from Sherwin Williams called Alpaca. It is this perfect pale grey that changes its tone throughout the day. So to go so dark was a little nerve wracking. I explored lots of different paint options but decided to take the plunge into the darkness and picked Cloak Grey by Sherwin Williams. And can I just speak for a minute about how cool this name is? Every time I say it I have this image of a dark evening around the turn of the century. I imagine Jack the Ripper walking the cobblestone streets with the gas lamps on stalking out his next victim. Kind of creepy and eerie but for me it is more intriguing. I think that is what dark moody walls mean to me – mystery and intrigue.

Once the color was decided my amazing sister, Jessica, and I worked on a plan for how to build the molding. So this is a perfect place to pause and insert some opinions… You know all of those DIYers that blog about how you can build these type of molding walls in like 2 hours. Well I am here to say this is not one of those projects. First of all I am an amateur with tools, I left that in the hands of my sister who is more versed. Second we spent most of our time on this project doing the math to make sure every square was evenly spaced. We also ran into an issue with my wall not being level which created some confusion – we decided to make the moldings level visually vs. using the laser level.

If I was to provide a guesstimate on the time spent to build the wall, I would say we probably spent 3 days on it (assuming non-stop 8 hour days). Yep, it was that intense. And again I would say a lot of that time was spent designing each piece and making sure that wood was all evenly spaced out. Once the math was solid the easy part happened – slicing, dicing and screwing it all in. Again all courtesy of my sweet sister. After each piece was securely screwed in each and every squarely was painstakingly caulked. As you will see in the video at the end of the post, the  wall and wood was painted while the wood was being installed – this was my job. 🙂

Just like with any project, we grew from the experience and if we were to do it again I am sure it would go faster. All in all though the final result though was well worth all of the hard work. In the future I will be setting up the rest of my dining room with new lighting, artwork, table and chairs. For now I am just going to relax and enjoy this gorgeous weather!

Finally, I thought it would be fun to show a quick look at the wall being built…



My New Thermostat

One of my goals for this year is to make my home a smart home. I am fascinated by the use of technology in the home – from dimming lights to controlling your water sprinklers, there is so much these little gadgets can do to make our homes run more efficiently and with greater ease! And really isn’t that what we all want out of life??

The first smart home device I chose was the Nest thermostat. I was immediately drawn to the super chic design. They also recently released more color options which I absolutely adore – I decided on the copper color. But the thermostat itself gives homeowners the flexibility to check and modify the temperatures from their smart phones. I was particularly interested in having this accessible for those long hot months. I was already dreaming how how I could lower the A/C when I leave work so when I came home it would be nice and cool.

One of my favorite things about the Nest so far though is the ability to have the A/C and Heater temperatures set. What does that mean? Well in Houston we don’t have normal winters like the rest of the US. I would say they are more like bi-polar winters – one day it can be 30 degrees and literally the next day it is 80 degrees. Just another reason I never pack away my summer clothes. But with the Nest thermostat I can say if the temperature drops to say 60 degrees, turn the heater on. And I can also say choose to have the A/C turn on if it gets warmer than 75 degrees. Smart, huh?

Unlike my previous thermostat, I can also check the temperature and adjust it all from my phone. So in the summer if it is a particularly hot day I can always jump on my phone at work and lower it so the dogs don’t get too hot. I can also be super lazy and adjust the temperature when laying on the couch or in bed (which happens a lot).

Stay on the lookout for more posts like this on more smart home devices.

Updated Built In Bookcase

Since I have moved into this home I have had my eye on this bookcase. I have always felt like it was an eye sore and wanted it gone. So during my floor installation I asked my contractor to tackle the job. He is such a good sport 😉

So here is what the bookcase looked like before anything was touched… I believe that when the house was initially built back in the 90s the intention was for the homeowner to put their TV on the second shelf since mounted flat screen TVs were not yet popularized. Today though there is absolutely no use for it and it just consumes a lot of wasted space. As an aside I have mounted my TV over my fireplace. The shelves above and below have always been an awkward size as well – too deep and too tall for books and most decorative objects. You can see my solution was to put games up there and the bottom shelf had large mismatched baskets that stored my collection of CDs and DVDs.

My initial vision for this bookcase was to square it out. I am really strong believer of straight corners and having this weird half angled corner always bugged me. However after removing the drywall they discovered that there was a pipe (right exposed section) that jutted out which would prevent them from making a smooth straight corner. To give you some insight there is a 1/2 bath on the other side of the wall. So at this point in the remodel I had two options – bring in a plumber to relocate the pipe OR put the drywall back and make the best of it. I decided to go with the second option for several reasons – I didn’t have a trusted plumber on standby that could drop everything to come tackle this project and I didn’t know how much this was going to cost to fix. You might remember I was also in the process of replacing my flooring at the same time.Reluctantly I decided to have them rebuild the drywall back up. I was super bummed that my dream wasn’t going to happen but I decided I would make the best of the situation and build a better version of the bookcase. In the original version the shelves were super deep – again because I believe it was designed to accommodate a large boxy TV. From my recollection the depth was around 29″. I decided to change the shelving instead to be 16″ deep. I made this decision primarily based on the depth of the DVR. The second thing I did was decided to add some faux shiplap on the back of the inner wall of the bookcase. I also decided to increase the number of shelves from 3 to a total of 6. The final touch was adding the same wood trim to frame it out. It is the same design used with my windows. With all of these changes, the final product was perfect. Now I have a purposeful, chic, well designed bookcase.

And here is the final product styled… So I have to say that while this projects didn’t follow my initial vision for the bookcase, I am very happy with how it all turned out. Since completion I have been slowly adding books, lots of plants (of course) and various decorative items. 

Downstairs Flooring Remodel

Last November, I decided to take the plunge and replace ALL of the downstairs flooring to wood tile. I have been wanting to replace the flooring for awhile for several reasons: kids and dogs are messy. Well that is really just one reason but that can spin into a multitude of problems right there. In my previous home I had Pergo laminate flooring throughout the house (except the bathrooms). I choose the laminate because like most Houstonians I have seasonal allergies so wanted to have as little dust as possible. I was also drawn to the easy clean up. The laminate flooring was such a breeze to maintain – spill? no problem just wipe it up. My only beef about the laminate was how it could get damaged if you had an unknown spill there was a possibility of it warping. Overtime I noticed there were some minor superficial scratches made to the floor. I believe these were caused by nails from large dogs and also from scooting furniture around the home. These weren’t major problems but still a little pet peeve.

So when I moved to my current home I wanted to update the flooring to be the same clean surface like the laminate. My criteria for picking out flooring types was pretty simple – it had to be easy to clean and have little to no maintenance. I had been considering purchasing the same exact laminate in the same color but then I saw one day wood tile and I was a changed woman. I loved how the wood tile looks exactly like wood but has no maintenance. I was always concerned about mopping my laminate floors that they may eventually warp so tile eliminated that concern. Also these are really strong floors and really really hard to damage. Needless to say I was sold.

The wood tile I picked out is called Castille Wenque Wood Tile and is available at Floor & Decor. The reason I chose this tile? Really it came down to price. I had been eyeing the Natural Timber Ash Wood Tile at Lowes. However it was $3.99/sq ft and the Castille Wenque was $2.99/sq ft. This is where I press the Easy button. Done and done.

What I love about this tile is that it really does look like wood with so many variations in the color and texture. And the color – it has this soft brown grey color that is a really good neutral base. I picked this because it will go with whatever decor I choose now or in the future. I would also like to think that it would be appealing to future homeowners whenever I sell the home.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I had the tile installed in November 2016. So one question I expect will be asked is how is it holding up? The short answer is it is perfect! But in all fairness, I do want to mention one small issue I noticed during installation that is a known issue amongst installers called “lippage“. Lippage is when the tile are laid down so close together like mine were it creates a small amount of lift in the tile. You will notice the issue when the tile isn’t seamless from one to another piece – it is raised up a smidge. I have done some research on this – some installers say it is because of the length of the tile aka large format tile (mine is 45″ long). While others say it is because the grout line is less than the specified width. You may notice from the pictures the grout is barely if at all visible. I would say it is about 1/16” of an inch.

So that would be my *only* complaint but that is really stretching it for me because at the end of the day I would say it is barely noticeable visually unless you are looking for it. Now if I was a true perfectionist I would pull it all up and have it laid down again. But really it isn’t worth the time and effort. I am truly happy with the results!


In case you want to read more on lippage – here are some additional resources: