Farmhouse Modern: Living Room Fireplace Revamp

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It’s crazy to think it’s been a year and half since we moved into our first home, a true fixer upper (you can read more about it here). The house was built in the ’70s and literally hadn’t been inhabited for 6 years, so to say we had our work cut out for us was an understatement. Since taking on a huge project like this can feel daunting, especially when you agree to take on the bulk of the work yourself (plus one incredibly handy father-in-law), my hubs decided early on that we would tackle each room one by one and work our way through the house. Since none of our eyes could stand looking at the varying shades of mustard-colored walls and lovely cream-colored trim much longer – we started with painting the living room first a neutral, natural tan and trim/built-ins white. It was also an excuse for me to go knob shopping, aka my happy place, aka the easiest way to completely transform any piece of furniture, kitchen/living room cabinets, etc.┬áTruth be told, I’ve always had a healthy obsession with cabinet knobs, and back in the day (pre-kiddos) Anthropologie’s home section had me like a kid in a candy store (cue overly dramatized heavenly music) ­čśë. We ended up finding these Allen + Roth matte black cabinet pulls at Lowe’s, since my father-in-law had the genius idea to open up a business account (we’re officially 3M Residential) which saved us 5-10% off every time.

The last piece of the pie, and what we knew would be the main focal point of our living room, was the floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace. But you can see from the “before” photos below that it needed a lot of work and was missing a crucial design element – a mantel. In grand “Fixer Upper-style” tradition, I’ve always loved a rustic cedar, shelf/mantel. But when we considered how large the actual fireplace was, which took up a whole entire wall, we realized that a more traditional full-sized mantel was the way to go. We agreed that white would look best and complement the built-ins we’d just painted the same color. We also tossed around white-washing the brick or just painting it white since the previous owners hadn’t used the fireplace properly and all of the brick around the opening was stained black. Instead we found some brownish/black, rustic porcelain tile that we used to frame the opening and knew it would contrast nicely with the white mantel. You can see the final transformation in the photos below.

Once the structural renovations were complete – it was my turn to step in on the d├ęcor side. As you can imagine, after a cross-country move, me not working fulltime, and a baby on the way – my decorating budget was definitely on the frugal side. But much like how I approach fashion styling, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to look stylish. My first rule is to look at what you already have. Chances are you already have one or two key pieces – in this case it was a large black beveled mirror and candle holder/candle – that you can start styling around. That way, all you have to do is fill in the gaps by purchasing a few more trendy items that can easily be switched out from season to season, like pillows, blankets, baskets, etc. And finally, you just have to know where to shop. I spent months scouring the racks at HomeGoods, Hobby Lobby, and At Home to name a few, looking for the just right, perfect accents for our fireplace. Yet it was still missing something.

I love plants, but I am not the best with them – which used to keep me up at night in my early twenties, wondering how I would ever be able to keep a tiny human alive. Rest assured, I do and I am ­čśë. However, I knew an artificial plant would be the best choice and there are so many out there now that look just as good as the real thing. So I was super excited to partner with┬áThermaLeaf┬«, a company that specializes in fire retardant artificial foliage. They were kind enough to gift me the perfect snake plant I’d been searching for, that was the final touch our fireplace needed. My sweet neighbor, who works at a plant nursery and has quite the green thumb, even commented on how real it looked and how much she wanted one. I will say, I’ve since had to move it to higher ground after a certain very curious 11-month-old decided it was great fun to pull all the moss out of its pot ­čśë. Luckily it’s such a versatile mid-sized plant that it pretty much looks great anywhere.

You can shop all of the items I mentioned via the links below, and I’ve also included several of my top picks for similar products. Hope y’all like it as much as we do and stay tuned for more before/after fixer upper reveals in the coming months!

Living Room: Before

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Mother’s Day Becomes Father’s Night

This post is sponsored by Huggies, Pull-Ups, GoodNites but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

So much changes when you have another child, and not just in the conventional ways. Sure there’s always a period of adjustment, especially when you wait almost 4 years to have another. It’s like just the right amount of time to get used to having an only child, and then wham – everything changes with the birth of a new baby. I still remember my hubs having a little heart-to-heart with me before the baby came, after I expressed some insecurities and anxieties I’d been feeling in one of my more honest pregnancy posts. And like always, we tackled this new phase in life as a team and figured out ways he could start helping out more with Garrett. One way we knew we had to tackle was bedtime. I’d gotten into the habit of laying with Garrett in his bed every night until he fell asleep – and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that was not gonna fly once a baby was in the picture. So Grant started taking over with Garrett at night which at first I was sad about, because it was just another thing to remind me that he was growing up and didn’t need me as much anymore. But then a funny thing happened – I got to witness the most special bond developing between a father and his son right before my eyes.

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CH2T Covets: How I Save on Home Essentials

This post is sponsored by Scott Brand, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

It’s crazy to me to think that we’ve lived in our little fixer upper for nearly a year and half now. We’ve pretty much finished all of the major work we wanted to do on the house, including some outside lighting that my hubs just installed. It’s pretty amazing what a big impact a small thing like lighting can make on a home, and we actually wish we’d done it sooner. In fact, we were just saying how it’s got to be our favorite thing we’ve done that gave us the most bang for our buck. It’s funny the things you start paying attention to once you’re a homeowner. Ever since we moved from a 1 BR apt in LA to our first home in the suburbs of Houston, I’ve come to appreciate the fine art of saving money. One way that’s been the easiest, is saving on those home essentials that you know you’ll always need like toilet paper/paper towels. My favorite products are Scott and I love that you can┬áconveniently buy them at Amazon.com and have them shipped directly to your door step. We call that a “mom win.”

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Mom Jean Confessions: Grace Period

We’ve officially made it past the four week mark with baby Charlotte, and I have to say I’m incredibly proud of Garrett for adjusting to this new way of life so quickly and so well. From the minute he saw Charlotte, he went into big brother mode – asking to hold her, and wanting to get as close to her as possible if anyone else was holding her. Every morning he walks into our room (where I’m more than likely nursing Charlotte back to sleep) and he gets as high-pitched as a banshee saying “Hiiiiii. Whatcha doingggggg?” (I realized that he gets this from me – isn’t it funny how a toddler can remind you just how often you say things out of habit?). There have only been a handful of times where he’s gotten upset over me not being able to do whatever it was he was asking me to do, which ended up making me feel way more guilty than he had intended. Even so, I try not to let my head wander to “that place.” That place where you remember what it was like with just you and him. That place where your mind tricks you into thinking he would have been so much happier as an only child.

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Space Themed Toddler Room Reveal x Seedling Littles

When my husband and I met, he was still working at NASA (he literally used to train astronauts at NASA’s NBL – soooo he’s kinda a big deal, but he’d never tell you that ;), and I never dreamt we’d have the chance to pass on his love of space to our son someday. But it’s like that passion was passed down in his genes, which has been so special since moving back home to Houston and living just five minutes from NASA. In fact, we were just talking the other day about the wonderful irony of us┬áending up buying our first home back in Clear Lake, after living in NYC, LA and traveling all around the world. Funny how life comes full circle sometimes.

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Morning Rituals with Dad x Bonobos

When Bonobos asked me what my husband’s style says about him, I knew it would be a great fit (literally), because my husband is all about finding the right fitting clothes. Bonobos’ mission is to help men find the perfect fit and take the pain out of shopping, so win/win if you ask me. As women, we know how different our body types can be – but have you ever stopped to think that men actually struggle with the same issue? I hadn’t really thought about it either, until I met Grant – Mr. 6’4″, slender yet muscular build, with the longest legs (I call him Dig’ems, after the Sugar Smacks frog) you’ve probably ever seen. The poor guy can’t just go into a store and buy a suit – he typically has to block off a week to hit up every store imaginable and then when he does find the right one, he has to tack on another week waiting on alterations. Sorry, but, ain’t nobody got time for that. Luckily he’s a pretty easy-going guy, and when he does find the perfect fitting suit – the man looks “sharp” as my late British dad would have said. Plus, he’s got impeccable taste. If you don’t believe me, check out his guest post from two year’s ago  – Pushing Forty, A Men’s Style Guide in 8 Simple Rules.

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CH2T Covets: Baby Registry Must-Have From a 2nd Time Mom

To try and “momsplain,” as I like to say, all that I’ve learned since having my first child three and a half years ago – would quite possibly need a blog dedicated all to itself. I’d call it “You Know Nothing, First-Time Mom” (where all my GOT fans at??). Enticing idea, but instead I’ve decided to do a little run-down of my single favorite baby registry must-have that just might get you through those second (or third, or fourth) baby blues.

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The Day I Almost Lost Him

By now, if you are brave enough to follow my sometimes senseless ramblings on social media, you probably saw a more serious side this week. It started off with a doctor’s visit for my son to figure out why he’s been struggling with some type of cough/wheezing situation for the past month or so. I shared how I was at my wit’s end as he fought us tooth and nail to take his steroid meds – which in the end I figured out the syringe and candy/popsicle chaser did the trick…along with the opportunity to profess to daddy afterwards “I took my medicine and it was GROSS!” He’s still scared to death of the inhaler/aero chamber contraption – oh and don’t even get me started on the┬ánebulizer (just ask the nurse about that one, if they ever invite us back). But so far, the meds alone have gotten rid of the cough, so I’m hopeful he’ll be getting a clean bill of health at his follow-up visit, and it’s not something more serious.

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Mom Jean Confessions: Leap Year

Everyone knows 2016 was a crapshoot. I don’t think I know one single person who couldn’t wait for it to be over. So as I was mulling over just how to put into words what this year meant for us, it dawned on me – 2016 was a leap year. Now try and follow me here. A leap year, in both┬áthe literal and metaphorical sense, means to correct drift. So if you think about it – all 2016 was meant to do was get us back in synch and help us find our true North. I don’t know about you, but the older I get and the more complicated life is – it only seems harder and harder to follow my internal compass. But 2016 was a year for reflecting and looking inward, whether I wanted to or not. Many of you have read my initial recap of this year that I wrote back in Sept. Well a lot, and I mean A LOT, has happened since then.

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Top 5 Pins of the Week: On a Pedestal

Ever since we bought our little fixer upper (ok, and pretty much months before then), I┬ákeep dreaming about all the farmhouse d├ęcor I can’t wait to get my hands on. I’m currently commissioning my father-in-law, a.k.a the master carpenter, to build us a pedestal stand for a round table that’s been in my hub’s family since, well, lord knows how long.┬áBut somewhere in between apartment moves in┬áHouston, NY, LA, & back now to Houston – the poor thing lost its legs. I like to imagine they were picked up off the sidewalk┬áby some wide-eyed creative in NY, who was just itching to fasten them to some makeshift table as their┬áprized (and only)┬ápiece of furniture.┬áBut I digress.

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