Friday, April 27, 2012

Faux Stone Fireplace

Hunter green was apparently a happenin' color in the late eighties and early nineties..Happenin' all over carpeting, wallpaper, and fireplace tile. At least in this 'ole house. But I've bid farewell to one more corner of hunter green existence for good with our much needed fireplace makeover. 


I hated it. This is what I dreamed of my fireplace looking like...

 I pinned it way back in the beginning of my pinteresting days. 

When I finally made it to "fireplace update" on my list of home improvements, I started by shopping around for faux stones to cover the fireplace surround. My Home Depot and Lowes did not carry them, to my surprise, so my search continued a little longer than I would have liked. Some required a minimum purchase larger than what I needed and some just looked awfully fake. But I found one I liked in a light gray color scheme through Antico Elements.  I just needed one 24 x 48 panel, but ordered a sample first to make sure I liked it up close. It was pretty realistic looking, cozy and rugged, but light as a feather. It cut easily with a jigsaw or circular saw and left smooth edges. I just measured the surround and cut according to fit, drawing lines on the solid back of the panel.

I paid $8 extra to get the fire-rated version.

I did alot of research and determined that since the faux stone I was using was so light, I did not need to remove the tile underneath. It would have done more damage trying to destroy it and with thin set mortar, the faux panels will not budge one bit. I used a trowel to smooth some mortar onto the surround, raked with the jagged end, then placed a panel on and held until it set.

Since our hearth is flush with the floor and not raised, I couldn't put a panel on it, since it would cover up the vent. I explored some pictures and found that I really liked the look of a slate gray hearth with stone surround anyway. So I ordered automobile engine spray paint that is made to withstand high temperatures. I chose a light gray primer and "Ford Gray" color paint by VHT . I taped carefully and use cardboard to cover the surrounding area. I primed twice then spray painted the "Ford Gray" color twice.

Then I held my breath to peel back the painter's tape for the

 I'm ecstatic with it! You see alot of reflection in the hearth and floor so excuse that. But it's now so much warmer and cozier than the cold, green tile. I wanted to have a fire for the picture but it's 85 degrees. Bye bye hunter green...Another one bites the dust.

Check Back Soon!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hallway Gallery Wall with Built-In Display

What might you say if I told you I painted our hallway black. Seriously.
If you know me at all, you wouldn't be surprised. Let me just say, it's gorgeous! Especially since it is grounded with white wainscoting for beautiful contrast. 

The upper hallway in our house overlooks the living room with a catwalk, which poses a great opportunity to make a statement. 

But before...The statement was, "I'm just boring."

 It needed attention and so I focused my diy energy on this little hallway and nook for a couple weekends, working between weddings, showers, ballgames, and end of year paperwork.
The "Beige Sand" color that our whole living room is painted made the upstairs hallway boringly bland. 
No flavor.

There was also a weird nook to the right with nothing in it. The wall just seemed to recede there for no reason at all.
But recessed lighting spotlighted the hallway walls like a perfect art gallery set-up that could be viewed from upstairs or down, so there was definitely potential. 


 In the picture above, you see enlarged photos taken from either our wedding reception or honeymoon. I had 20x30 posterboards made by Costco for $25 each. The artwork was beautiful, but it definitely wasn't given the highlight it deserved.

To start Operation: "Give this hallway some personality," I added wainscoting to the bottom third of the wall. Much like my faux board and batten treatment in the kitchen, I used pieces of pine lattice to create the effect, this time placing them horizontal and vertical to form a 2-panel look. I started with a long piece horizontally for the top, about 36 inches from the floor, since there was not an existing chair rail. Wood glue in a caulk gun and painters tape held it in place and finishing nails were then hammered in. Then I did the same about 6 inches below that. 

Pieces were then cut to fit in the top and bottom space vertically about 10 inches apart to create the finished look.


 I then painted all of it in "Classic Creme."


As for the top half of the wall...I pondered. Bright punch of color? Light and airy? Dark and Dramatic? 
I opted for option C, since it's such an open and airy space to begin with and receives great light all around. And I looove dark accent walls. 

In this case, I went just about as dark as I could get away with. As in pretty much black. I mixed about half and half "Wild Truffle" in satin, which we used to paint our cozy movie room, with "Black Onyx" in semi-gloss. It would be a rich and bold charcoal with just a hint of glossy sheen. 
Nothing makes artwork pop like a black backdrop.


Love love LOVE!! 
Scroll back up to that before. 
Now scroll back down. 
It's like the space was naked before, and now it's dressed!


 We have leftover hardwood from what we installed in the living room so we'll see if it's enough to finish up this upstairs hallway. The hardwood floors would really finish it up!

 The above picture was one of my FAVORITES from our reception. The water from the fountain in motion and the twinkle lights...beautiful. That's Sean's basketball coach he played for then assisted looking across at his wife. It's a breathtaking image!

I was originally inspired by this image I pinned for Benjamin Moore paint colors. I loved the idea of the greige walls below with the upper hallway dark with white wainscoting.
So, with the first half done, now to tend to that weird nook. 



At one point, I thought of creating a reading nook with a padded bench seat wedged inside and bookshelves all around. But that would be like sitting in a window seat with no window, leaving me always wishing for one. So I decided that little space was meant to be a built in shelving unit all along and just hadn't found it's purpose in life yet.

I picked up shelf brackets from Home Depot and got Sean to install while I cut the 4 wood shelves from 8 foot pieces I also got from Home Depot. 

With a coat of white for the shelves and the same dark paint for the nook, we finished this upstairs space with 2 weekends of work.     



I accessorized with books, ceramics, a clock and artwork.

 Recognize any of these guys on the shelf? They all got a makeover with spray paint.


 View from the living room:

Sometime soon, probably this summer, I'll be able to polish up the living room and share the whole thing. I know it's been a long time coming but it really is a process!

Meanwhile, another little "nook" of the house is crossed off the list.
Daring but classic gallery wall and display unit...

Now go paint something dark!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Let it grow...then let it go!

That was my hair in dance-motion just a few weeks ago during our weekend in Hot Springs for a wedding.

Cut to 2 weeks later and I'm perched in the salon chair waiting to have all of 11 inches snipped off.

Nervous? Sick in the stomach? Not me. Only every other hairstylist and customer in the salon. This is a time-honored tradition in my life that is just a normal routine for me. I never understand the attachment people have with hair. Much less my hair that's not even their own. My hair wasn't long because I was infatuated with it.
It was long because it grows.
That's just what it does.
So every 2-3 years, with lots of haircuts in between, I let it go until I'm completely sick of the weight on my head and then...I let it go.

So now it looks like this:

Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hair pieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from medical hair loss, will receive my hair. The last time I donated, I was entering grad school in Conway. The time before that, an undergrad at Fayetteville. And the time before that, a senior in high school. I remember every one of these haircuts because they meant something. There's no other reason I would remember a specific hair cut from 10 years ago.

So trust me, it's a fun change! The next time you're getting ready for a haircut, if yours grows fast like mine, let it go a couple more inches. Then maybe a couple more. And then just let it go.

Love ya!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Barefoot Blue Jean Night

After Dylan and Melinda's wedding, our crew loaded the hummer and headed to Smyly's Crabshack in Hot Springs. When we went inside, the vibe was a little...unrefined.
JUST how we like 'em!
You know...the kind of place you walk in and know no matter how little effort you put into getting ready that night you'll still be the best looking, most classy one in the joint? Yeah, that kinda place.

We thought we would play it safe and leave my camera in the car. But shortly after getting the night going, we KNEW it was going to be worth documenting.

Nina: "Um, we're gonna need the camera."

On the way back from the parking lot, this man looked awfully lonely sitting on his bike. So we fixed that.
Sean: "That man says you're gonna be on the Smyly's website. Good job."


{Sean and his girls}

When we got there, the dance floor was empty. There was just no sense in a perfectly mediocre band going to waste, so Nina and Ashley hit the center of the floor for a little air guitar and air drums.

Our pretty boy swags definitely brought some class to the place.

Then they brought some crunk.

Yes, I see that too.

We eventually brought enough life to the party that others were coerced into dancing too.

{Nina and Cody}

{Nina and Dev}

{Me and Seany}

Mohawk had no idea what was hittin' him.

We were pretty quickly dubbed "The Memphis Crew" that knew how to have a good time. And that we did.

We had SUCH a time!! Can you "Where's Waldo" my legs?

You can't get stiff when you're showing off your moves. You gotta stretch it out!

We gathered on the floor, playing a couple rounds of "Signs"-dance floor edition- throwing dance moves to each other to imitate.

Coolest guys ever! You should meet them.

This little lady had a blast dancing with our guys. And provided a whole night's worth of entertainment!

This one's for YOU Ashraf!

Dancing with pharmacy boy Ben.

7 months of marriage and that's already how you feel about him?

The next morning, Ben complained of how bad his knees hurt. I asked why.
Exhibit A...
Dustin tipped the band to play Walkin' In Memphis for us. I think I remember them saying they didn't know it? But after a break, and what I assume was a crash course in the Marc Cohn classic, they tried their hand at our request.

The melody was completely off. But at least they knew the words, which gave us something to work with. We belted every word!

We rested our bones for a bit...
Cody told me "!" as we watched the dance floor show.
Greatest compliment ever.
And I am loving that guy's red bandana and short sleeve shirt.

Cody and Ben with Jett, Ben's pharmacy school buddy, who Sean introduced to me as "Jeff" and Devin called "Jeb". Luckily, I was actually listening when he introduced himself to me before and I was able to set them both straight. With an awesome name like Jett, who would want to be called Jeff? Or, worse yet, Jeb?

Jett had a pontoon boat docked across the street. Spontaneous midnight boat ride to cap off the night? Why didn't I think of it myself.

No one else was on the lake in the middle of the night. The speakers were cranked just a little too loud for my headache that I still hadn't gotten rid of from the morning before, but once the motor was cranked and the wind was blowing, it all was perfect. We carried our killer moves and high-on-life attitude with us from Smyly's to the middle of the lake on our party boat.

Full moon, shinin' bright
Edge of the water we were feelin alright.
Back down a country road
The girls are always hot and the beer is ice cold.

Ashley manned the boat and drove us to a stopping point...
...Where, of course, someone mentioned the idea of jumping in.
Not a breath later, had Sean and Devin cannon-balled into the pitch dark water.

Nina and Ashley stepped over the gate to contemplate. Nina shook her head. "I can't be cold. You know I can't be cold," and took a seat at the front of the boat.

If I had dipped my toe in to test the waters, it would have retreated like a turtle into it's shell. It was arctic cold in April. Spring River cold. Too cold.


Ashley flew over both of the boys. I knew if I waited to hear what she had to say when she popped up, I'd chicken out. So one step behind her, I plunged over the edge.

So, let's slip on out, where it's a little bit darker
And when it gets a little bit hotter
We'll take off on out in the water

Girl you make my speakers go "BOOM BOOM"
Dancin' on the tailgate in a full moon
That kinda thing makes a man go mhmm mhmm

We doggy paddled and half-gasped, half-laughed, trying to draw air into frozen lungs. Yes, it was freezing. But why not feel alive?!

We climbed up the ladder, our soaking wet dresses clinging and dripping onto chill-bumped skin.
The boys layered us in their undershirts and button-ups and we shivered to stay warm on the brisk ride back.

When my head hit the hotel pillow that night, my body almost forgot that it was lying on a concrete hotel bed for the next 5 hours. And during the mandatory Waffle House brunch the next day to re-hash the "once in a lifetime" night before our drive back, my mind almost forgot about the hours of annual review paperwork and overtime that awaited me at home.
It was like a taste of a summer escape before we've actually made it to summer. As cruel as it was awesome.
But it was once in a lifetime.

Dreaming of Summer...
The Grays