This post is sponsored by Horizon but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
By now, everyone has seen what a huge, and I mean HUGE, trend anything having to do with the word “farmhouse” has become. I’m totally not ashamed to say that I jumped on that bandwagon years ago at the peak of my Joanna Gaines obsession, and mama’s never looked back. Then, a couple of years ago we bought our first house (you can read more about that here), and it was as if all of my “Fixer Upper” dreams came true all at once. I mean we had a total fixer upper on our hands y’all, and we couldn’t wait to transform our little Murray cottage into the kinda farmhouse the Gaines’ would be proud of.
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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. Truth 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) 😉. 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 décor 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 😉. 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 ThermaLeaf®, 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 😉. 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!
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 ending 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.
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 the 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.
Ever since we bought our little fixer upper (ok, and pretty much months before then), I keep dreaming about all the farmhouse décor 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. But somewhere in between apartment moves in Houston, NY, LA, & back now to Houston – the poor thing lost its legs. I like to imagine they were picked up off the sidewalk by some wide-eyed creative in NY, who was just itching to fasten them to some makeshift table as their prized (and only) piece of furniture. But I digress.