Sep 15, 2018

New Floor to Ceiling Wood Fireplace Wall

Guess what?! The boys moved the TV off of our fireplace hearth!

Yay!

Now I can show you what I did to the fireplace wall bump out in our family room.

Let's look back at what it looked like before.
It was fine...meahh! (major TV blockage)

I wanted to bring the same treatment from our kitchen island (HERE) to the family room - which - basically, is the same room with our open concept floor plan.

So here is what a similar view looked like BEFORE.
Then - After!

(I bought Mazi a more comfortable, fluffy rug to lay on from Wayfair - Link)
OK - a little announcement here.

Marc finally got a grand piano!

A dream come true! Let's all say YAY together!!!!

"YAY!!!"

It's amazing to have music back in our house again! I wish I could explain the feeling in words.

In the last couple of years our lives have felt so uprooted with the move to and from Utah, living in an apartment while we built this house and with my sweet mama passing away - things have felt extremely different and quite frankly - sad, bad and just - not quite right.

When the piano came and got set up this week, my husband started playing music that he has played for me for our whole marriage. Ben, one of our sons, joined in with his violin and I was reminded that, though so much has changed, there are many things that are still the same.

The one thing that holds strong now is our little family. The four of us.

I do feel fortunate to have these boys in my life. My husband and I have been together a long time (link HERE). Memories flow through me with the beautiful and familiar music he plays.

I am truly grateful.
I like walking through the foyer into this sun filled living space and seeing that rustic dark wood fireplace accent wall right in the middle and then the formal-ish piano right next to it.

The mix of rustic and refined spells - my style!

I love it!
The gallery wall is still up in the foyer hall and I've added to it a little bit.

I am trying not to decorate with too much. Sometimes the more things you put in a space the more complicated it can feel.

I haven't really gotten anything new for the walls so I am just sticking with ornate mirrors and frames.
I like the mantel this way but, to be honest, I simplified it shortly after I took these pictures.

The black box there on the right end is our Sonos thing. We listen to music and podcasts on it.

Better than having the TV up there, right?
The mantel felt too tall as it was originally built so I removed one cedar 4x6 board and brought the top shelf down a few inches

For extra support I screwed in these iron brackets on each end. The brackets blend with the dark wood.
The weeping figs on either side of the deep colored wall bump out make the space feel homey.

All the sun light in here is a perfect welcome for the living greens. They love the sun.
For now, this is what works for us.

A new home takes a lot of time to figure out how each space works best for living, especially when there are options. My family and I are humbled in knowing we have these options here.

Thanks for reading!

Much love,

Aug 28, 2018

A Little Love Story

Since today is my wedding anniversary I thought I'd write a quick story about the man behind this blog & me. He makes it possible for me to do the things I love.

Did you know that I was only 15 1/2 years old when I met this guy? (exact same age as our twin boys are right now - OMG!) Marc was 17, we went to the same high school. I fell so in love with him very early and I wanted to marry him right away but he was more level headed and waited until he was nearly done with his bachelors degree before we married. Our families didn't believe in living together before marriage so we honored that.
People who know Marc absolutely love and respect him. So many times in our relationship I felt like I wasn't quite "good enough" for this genuine and talented Genius (yes, he's brainy and beautiful).

But he chose me and I adore him.

After 9 years of marriage we found a way to have our own babies through IVF. That was a hard time prior to getting pregnant. My heart goes out to people who experience infertility.

For us, it actually gave us time to sort out our thoughts on many subjects such as religion, politics, education, family relationships - the deep stuff. None were easy conclusions and these are ever evolving life subjects but at the point when our efforts to become parents came to fruition we were on the same page, so to speak.

So as much agony and pain we experienced, I am always grateful for the time we had to grow up and grow more together.
We had two baby boys who came 9 weeks early. A scary beginning into parenthood. We made it though and have laughed our sides out raising these little stinkers.
We've cried our eyes out too. The joy they brought to our relationship is beyond explainable. Having two babies at once living 2000 miles away from our families was both a blessing and a curse. How I needed my Mom so many times but she always had time to talk me through those days when the kids were sick with fever or I was over tired and making life harder than it had to be.
Fast forward through career changes, re-locations, buying, selling and renting houses. Making a home for these boys has always been so important to us but we also wanted them to experience things we hadn't as children.

Marc and I grew up in the same town our whole life until we were adults. Our idea was to give our kids the benefit of living in different parts of the country in hopes they would appreciate their knowledge and experiences of different places.

We still have feelings of guilt for uprooting them from our Connecticut home but as much as I wish I could do things differently, I believe that there are no coincidences in life. Hopefully the challenges they have had in being the new kids will prepare them for something they will better cope with in their own life journey.
We hope for the best and we have amazing days and days when I think "what the hell?' - but this is our life and we try to embrace the good.

Since I'm on a personal note in this post I feel a need to express credit to my Mom who recently passed. She helped prepare me for marriage and the great task of being a mother. Mostly through her example but also her patience and dedication to teach all of her six children strong values and endurance.
She leaves a legacy of strong families and so much love.
How I miss her.

Not sure why I wrote this post today but I guess it's important to know that behind pretty pictures and my DIY projects there are humans just living the real life. Life is not always pretty but as I get older I believe that this earthly journey isn't meant to be perfect but to give us opportunities to grow spiritually, learn to love unconditionally and strive to bring happiness into this world.

As I was meditating yesterday the phrase "Heart Centered Living" came to me and it made me think - that is what it is all about.
My sweet husband bought us a new beautiful home this year and I told him - I need nothing else for our big TWO-FIVE. I humbly already have it all - and more.
Thanks for reading my abbreviated love story and I hope each of you find and focus on the good things in your own lives...it's there, even if you have to look a little deeper.

Much Love,

Aug 15, 2018

Upgrade that Builder Kitchen Island

You know when you are building a house and you have that thing called "a budget"?

No matter how big or small it is, it never seems to cover everything you want.

What I did before every appointment with our builder was think about the skills I do have and skills I don't have. I went with upgrades on my "don't haves" (tile, appliances, plumbing - etc.)

The following is a picture of what I chose with our builder for our kitchen island.

Meeeeaah!

OK. It's big. (128 inches long - ghak!)
I can cut wood, I have saws, nail guns and an air compressor. I can stain and paint pretty much anything. So none of my money went to the cosmetics of our kitchen island. I only upgraded to a double, extra deep sink because - yeah, I don't do plumbing.
Did I buy "special" wood to match the maple cabinets?

Not a chance!
Friends...this is all wood from Lowe's - in stock. 1x6x6 pine, 1x4x8 premium furring strips (premium only because they are straighter), and 1x3 furring strips along with a few 1x2's in pine.

They vary in widths, depths and in texture.
To make the island deeper so it doesn't look like a "standard" 24 inch depth cabinet I added a 2x4 wall right behind it. Chunkier is better and in my case, I had room to grow my island.

BEFORE...
I had to remove the skimpy moldings before I began.

AFTER...
If you can cut with a miter saw a straight cut and a 45 degree angle you can do this too. I love my nail guns and air compressor but they aren't really necessary if you are willing to hammer or screw the wood together.
After all the vertical slats were put in place then I cut more 1x4 premium furring strips to trim out the bottoms.
There is my kitchen folks.

Some wood slats were given two coats of Dark Walnut stain by Minwax and some were just one coat so it looks varied in color.

I love the rustic vibe. Don't you?
Various wood colors tie in the rest of the wood grains in the house and quite frankly, it's just more "me".

I ordered more bar stools in black to go with my two old white ones and it plays off the black and white theme going on here and there and everywhere around the house.
If you are all detail oriented like my cute hubby, you will notice I added two slats of stained wood behind the stove hood cabinet. I could see the metal frame from the blower before and that bugged me so I covered that up real quick.

Yeah - this DIY makes my "custom" house feel a lot more like my own.

If you have any more questions about this project you can reach me on Facebook HERE and on Instagram HERE - or if you are a blogger, you are familiar with the comments section below. I also have email that I check when bills aren't due at hbrowning72@gmail.com.

Have a super fun week and just a little advice - don't over think it.  It's easy to complicate everything.

Much love,


Aug 10, 2018

Custom Sized Foyer Table

Hello Friends!

Guess what? I made something! Yup! It's been a long time since I have taken on a project but here is why.

Jul 23, 2018

Jul 13, 2018

The Family Room with a Question for You

Today I got my camera out to take a few pictures of Mazi. She got a fresh new hair cut yesterday and she looks like she lost 50% of her weight.

Jul 9, 2018

Black and White Dining

Happy Monday!
I hope you are all enjoying summer. Here in Virginia we are having the best weather. We deserve it after such high humidity for three weeks. We needed a relief.

Jul 2, 2018

Foyer Gallery Wall

The entire time while building this house I was imagining this wall with a console table along it with  a simple mirror or horse picture above it.

Mar 21, 2018

Feb 16, 2018

Let Your House Shine & a Glimpse at the 2nd Floor

As I drove through the neighborhood tonight I noticed some exterior lights that seem to come on automatically at dusk. Some people turned on their porch lights which I think makes a home look like friendly place.

Feb 11, 2018

10 Trends I am Taking Home in 2018

Let me show you some trends that I have seen around lately that I just have to bring home this year.
1- Light walls with high contrast floors and accents such as the black backing of the shelving area in the picture above.

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