Family Beach Week 2014

Olivia got to go to her second family beach week this passed week.  We had so much fun!


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Day 10: Living Room Details

home reno
Yesterday I posted before and after pictures of our living room.  Today I will talk about what is actually in it to make it my perfect space.

I would describe our home as having a nautical undertone since we live in a coastal town but it also contains natural greenery, blue tones, neutrals, it is contemporary and most of all, it is homey.  We decided early on that we did not want to put a TV in the living room and wanted it to be a more formal sitting area.  The fact that Jamie’s flat screen, that he had to have for watching football, was too large to fit on the mantel and it didn’t fit in any of the corners made that an easy decision.  I’m glad we made it because it really keeps the space calm.


The living room has four windows on the front wall next to the front door.  It overlooks the left side of our front porch and the front yard.  It is the only real full wall in our living room because every other wall either has a stairwell, a fireplace or a large opening to walk into the kitchen.

This four windowed wall was the only place our ginormous couch would fit.  I can’t believe I actually did this four year ago, but I purchased a Paula Deen couch for our old home.  I looked for the perfect couch with my mom for awhile but I could not find one around $1,000 at the time that was big enough for two people to comfortably lay on.  I wanted it to be a couch that was deep enough for Jamie and I to lay on together as we watched TV.  The bigger, the better.  For scale, that is all three of us sitting comfortably on just one of its three cushions!.


Our old houses living room had vaulted ceilings and was very open so it fit perfectly.  This houses living room is more square and has regular 8 foot ceilings.  The couch is so big in it.  Oh, well.  I asked for it.

I originally purchased lavender floral accent pillows with the couch as a set but they did not fit my new living room decor.  The two turquoise, Chartreuse Diamond accent pillow cases were special made by The Blue Bird Shop on Etsy. The Sunshine lumbar pillow was on clearance for $10 at Home Goods.


Off to the left of the couch is the main focal point of our living room- the fireplace.  It was very important to me to keep the fireplace neutral and bright.  We have so many elements thrown together in our living room so the fireplace needed to be the glue that made it cohesive.  See how we transformed the fireplace HERE.


The whole fireplace aesthetic was created around this old picture frame originally from Home Goods.  I love the mother of pearl look it has.  I wanted to find tile that matched my favorite picture frame to put around the fireplace.  I found this Floriana oyster glazed porcelain mosaic square wall tile at Lowes (where else would I shop for home improvement projects???).  I loved the random mother of pearl oyster tiles it had scattered in it.

The large glass vase to the left of the fireplace is one of the center pieces from our wedding reception.  I didn’t want a lot of flowers in my wedding and certainly not at the reception.  I wanted to creat a simple coastal feel because it was on the water.  My mom and I purchased branches at Michaels and spray painted them white.  We used shells as filler in the tall cases.  Family were allowed to take them at the end of the night so every time I go to a relatives house I always see them and smile.

The seashell looks like something you would find at Anthropology but it was from a little thrift/re-purposed store in Southport, NC where we were married.  It was only $22.  I can only imagine how much Anthropology would sell that thing for!!!  It sits on top of an old copy of Moulin Rouge I purchased from a book store many years ago.  The picture frame with sweet Olivia in it is from Home Goods a few years back.

The mirror above our mantel is from Lowes.  My mom and I searched for my perfect mirror and could not find any under $200 that were white.  So, we had to go to plan b.  Find one I liked the shape of and spray paint it white.  This one is the allen + roth Oil Rubbed Bronze Round Framed Mirror with two coats of white spray paint.  Got it for $39.98 + $3 spray paint!!!  Can’t beat it.  My favorite purchase for the mantel so far is the fish from Home Goods.  He was on sale for less than $10!  The BLOMSTER set of three white glass candle sticks are from IKEA and only cost $14.99.  I still have little things to add to the mantel but I like the overall neutral feel it has right now.

The living room’s back wall has two openings that peer into the kitchen on both sides of a large doorway.  Due to the openings, their really isn’t a lot of wall space to work with. In the corner next to the fireplace I have a white Studio Narrow Wall Shelf from Pottery Barn and a black chair my moms client gave to her for FREE.  This corner has a more natural feel to it.


I can honestly say I have spent less than $20 all together on this book shelf.  The book shelf itself is from my room growing up and gifted by my parents.  Most of its contents have been gifted to us or I picked up free from Talbots.  When I worked as a manager for Talbots, we had a major props purge a few years back and the stock room was all up for grabs.  I got the three metal planters in the bottom right picture and the green plant ball fillers for free.  The blue storage box was also from Talbots.  I have them is every size and in every color imaginable!


The only things I actually purchased for this shelving unit display were the $3.99 SKURAR white IKEA planter, the white owl and it’s succulent filler and the books on clearance from Barnes and Nobles (green book under yellow vase on top shelf: Through the Looking Glass, pink book on top shelf: Jane Eyre, pale yellow book under birdhouse: Julie Andrews- Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, grey book on fourth shelf: Shabby Chic Interiors, brown book: Dogs, yellow book bottom shelf: Van Gogh – The Complete Paintings).

Josie has claimed the back right corner.  Her bed was $29.99 from Sam’s Club and her plastic navy toy container was a $1 from the Dollar Tree.

The two frames above Josie’s bed are old frames with burlap backs.  The navy frame has two starfish attached and the shadow box contains oyster shells.

The staircase wall next to Josie’s bed has an IKEA STÄLL shoe cabinet on it.  We are a NO shoes in the house type of family.  Growing up my house had the policy and I carried it into my own home.  I know some people get offended when asked to take them off but their is a great article on the benefits here.   I live by “my house, my rules.”  Shoes tract in dirt and would probably drive my OCD husband crazy.  I have this mental image of Jamie walking behind someone wearing shoes in our home with a Swiffer.  It’s bad enough that the dog lives inside with her long, black hair.  We have had many arguments about animals being allowed to live inside because he grew up with hunting dogs living outside.  “They were made with fur so that they can survive where they are meant to live- outside.”   My feeling is, why have them if you are not going to enjoy their companionship inside?  I obviously win every time and have Josie’s bed right in the middle of the living room.  It is in direct line with the front door and probably the first thing you see when you walk in.  haha!  Anyways… that’s a whole other can of worms.


See our staircase transformation HERE.  Two wing-back chairs create a walk way into the house.  The little side table between them is a piece my mom found and re-tiled the top and painted it taupe.

The wing-backs were the first furniture purchase my parents made when they moved to NC before I was born.  My mom got them reupholstered when I was little in a medium/dark denim.  It was the 90’s and on trend at the time.  They are so worn now but I like the color they have become.  You probably couldn’t even tell that they are covered in denim material when you see them in person.  When you recline them you can see the five shades darker they used to be on the areas that aren’t used.


Our coffee table was the same coffee table I grew up with.  It first was natural wood with a white wash.  It then was painted dark grey.  I liked the dark grey but it didn’t go with our new navy area rug.  So we did what we always do.  Painted it white.

It really pops now.  I have a STOCKHOLM IKEA white flower bowl with filler sitting on top of an Audrey Hepburn book.  We have three custom books I made of our wedding, Olivia’s birth and of our family pictures when she was a week old from Shutterfly on another corner.  My favorite pieces on our coffee table were this years 5 year anniversary gift from my mom.  They are a set of blue rope candle sticks from Anthropology.

The navy area rug is an indoor/outdoor rug from Home Goods that I got for $150.  My mom and I saw the exact same one selling for $300 online.  It was a steal for such a large rug!  The brazil blue cable-knit pouf made by Karma Living was $19.99 on sale at

So, what do you think?  Olivia loves our new living room, do you?

Check out our other renovations here:



Day 9: Living Room Transformation

home reno
Today, I will show an overview of the transformation our living room undertook during our renovation.  I go into detail about the items that make this space so wonderful HERE.

We worked pretty hard to get the living room in shape when we first moved in.  It is the central space in the house and if we got it completed, everything else would start to fall into place around it.

Our living room is the first space you walk into when you enter our home.  It is the first impression.


The front wall is made up of four large windows that overlook the front porch and yard.


It is the only full wall to work with in the living room so our big couch had to go there.

Our Paula Deen couch can probably fit 5 people comfortably.

Off to the left of the front wall is our fireplace.


The fireplace is the real focal point in the room so all of the furniture was placed around it.

To see our fireplace transformation click HERE.


The living room’s back wall has two openings that peer into the kitchen on both sides of a large doorway.  Due to the openings, their really isn’t a lot of wall space to work with.


The left side has a white Studio Narrow Wall Shelf from Pottery Barn and a black chair my mom got for free from a client.  This corner has a more natural feel to it.

Josie has claimed the right corner.

See our staircase transformation HERE.


The staircase wall has an IKEA STÄLL shoe cabinet on it.   Two wing-back chairs create a walk way into the house.


Josie likes the transformation, do you?



Day 8: Fireplace Rework

home reno

The fireplace in our living room is the focal point in the room.  We decided to not put a TV in our living room and to make it a more formal space.


The fireplace had a beautiful mantel but it really needed some loving attention.  It was painted cream with nasty yellow tiles and of course some were missing.

We first painted the mantel and the large tile that surrounded it white.  I used Valspar trim paint to do so.  Just by painting everything white, it made a considerable difference!


Then we took down the the old tile that was put on the actual fireplace with a crowbar.


I had an old picture frame originally from Home Goods that had a mother of pearl look.  I wanted to find tile that matched my favorite picture frame to put around the fireplace.  I found this Floriana oyster glazed porcelain mosaic square wall tile at Lowes (where else would I shop for home improvement projects???).  I loved the random mother of pearl oyster tiles it had scattered in it.

IMG_4680(Not pictured: white sanded grout caulk and grout sponge)

All of our supplies ended up costing us $60 from Lowes. Things we had to purchase for the project:  tile (we needed 5 12×12 sheets), a grout trowel with notches, a putty knife, rubber grout float, grout sponge, sanded grout, sanded grout caulk, and Mastic.


The tile sheets I picked out were 12 x 12. The height of the two horizontal areas we were covering were only 6 inches high so we had to cut them in half.


Next we had to stick the tile to the fireplace.  We used Type 1 Mastic for fire and stone as an adhesive.  It is a no mix needed and ready to use right out of the container adhesive.  When you put it up, apply enough adhesive for a tile sheet or two.  We put enough for one and an half tile sheets at a time.  If you apply too much adhesive at once, it will start to dry before you get your tile up there.  So, just do a little at a time.  Use the side of your trowel to make lines in the Mastic before you put your tile up.  When deciding where to start laying your tile, you generally should start where your eye will be drawn first.  That meant the middle for us and then we worked our way out to each side.


Next we used our Grout Float to apply even pressure to the tiles.  Press pretty firmly but not too much or you’ll squeeze all the adhesive out.  If you are stacking rows of tile on top of each other, you might need to get tile spacers because they tend to slide down a little when you put them up.


Jamie worked with his uncle a few summers doing stucco and stone work so he knew a lot about the grout.  I had to Google and Youtube to get an idea as to what we were doing.  He mixed white sanded grout with water outside as it rained.  The consistency was just a little thinner than peanut butter.


Then, Jamie grabbed a blob of grout with his Grout Float and started from the bottom and pushed it into all the cracks as he slid it upwards.  After it was up there, he wiped away the excess with the Grout Float at a 45 degree angle.  This made sure that the grout filled every nook and cranny.


After putting up the grout, we used a wet sponge to wipe away any excess grout from the tiles and the surfaces surrounding it.  You have to rinse your sponge and repeat a few times.  And you have to make sure to replace your water with fresh water once your bucket gets too clouded and mucky.


Lastly, we caulked all around the edges to make clean seams.

What do you think?  I love it.


Our little helper Bumbo Olivia seems to like it too.  She was fascinated with the bright white tile.


My favorite purchase for the mantel so far is this little guy from Home Goods.  He was on sale for less than $10!

I will be reworking whats on our mantel this week and will post more later.  Check out our other renovations here: