Creating My Modern Home

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Shutterfly through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Shutterfly, all opinions are my own.

Some time around three years ago I got the bug to have some gorgeous outdoor family pictures taken. You know, the flawless ones you see on Pinterest. I shopped for coordinating outfits for weeks, watched YouTube videos on how to get flawless on-camera makeup while not gluing my eyelids shut, and scoured our town for the perfect field with the perfect weeds we could frolic in. The day arrived with superb weather, no toddler meltdowns, nor wardrobe malfunctions, and our photographer got some beautiful shots of our family (I still use those pictures on my “About Me” page). I loved those photos when we took them and I find I love them even more now because my kids were so tiny in them. You forget they are growing before your eyes.

And since the day I got the proofs back I’ve been meaning to get some printed and display them in our home. Indecision and life just got in the way and before I knew it, three years went by. I started to notice friends’ houses and families’ hallways covered in their babies and old family vacations. “Gallery walls” filled their stairways and snapshots covered their shelves, and I started to feel a little guilty. The photo situation at our house was sad to say the least. Just a couple of department store diapered-baby shots hung from when our kids were brand new. It was time to do something!

So I did a little research. I was looking for a way to have a small gallery of our family but with a modern edge… trying to avoid the 1980’s class photo with the laser beam background in the tiny frames from living rooms gone by look. (You know what I mean.) I wanted fresh and modern but still pictures of us. It is our house after all and being surrounded by photos and memories of us is part of what makes this house feel comfortable and like home. My answer was found in metal prints from Shutterfly.

The sample photos on their site had me sold. Basically, they can print your photos on thin sheets of metal, in either a glossy or matte finish. I chose the glossy, true-to-color option, uploaded my photos, and arranged them on the website into a gallery wall option I liked. There were several arrangements and sizes to choose from. I tried to keep our entryway size in mind when ordering, and went with something close.

My prints actually arrived early and were packed really well. I was nervous that they might get bent in shipping but not a chance. (We’ve got plenty of bubble wrap and cardboard for the move now!) The colors are vibrant and extremely glossy. I arranged them a bit on our dining room table and came up with a configuration I liked. It’s slightly different than the configuration I ordered but it’s really easy to change your mind with the templates provided.

Time to get to work. I think I had the entire project done in less than 30 minutes. Here’s our entry before. I love the mirror (my brother-in-law made it) but I’ve got plans for that in another spot. I also recently refinished a midcentury dresser that is going in place of the teal table­– a DIY of years past J. (I look very serious when I take before pictures)

First thing I did was measure for the center of the wall and tape the provided template up using a level.

The template shows you exactly where to make your holes (or hole for smaller prints) and where the top of the print will end up. I used simple pushpins to mark the holes. Worked great.

Then I worked from the center outward and added each piece. (You can really see the glossy finish in this shot.)

The brackets are already attached to each print (woo hoo) and add a nice space between the wall and the metal print. Kind of makes them look like they’re floating when on the wall. And that slot just slips right over your nail.
And seriously, about 30 minutes later I was done. This is one of those projects that, every time I walk by it now, I ask why I didn’t do it sooner. I’m so in love with our entryway now. It’s modern, colorful, full of my DIY treasures, and us.


Mid-Century Modern Dresser Makeover

Heads up. For this post I worked with my buddies over at HomeRight who provided me both the sprayer and the shelter. My opinions and posts are all me though.

I'm sooooo ready to move ya'll! You know when a move is approaching and all cares about your current abode die in a pathetic pile of apathy along with your motivation to mow the grass or desire to get that grape that just rolled under the fridge? I'm living there right now. It's bad, people. Bad. Exhibit A: my hoarded-out garage.
A actually giggled when I watermarked this picture. Like the demand to steal it will be high. Better be on the safe side. ;) This is the aftermath of every box I've scavenged from the work garbage pile in the past few months, paired with various thrifted furniture pieces all meshed together like a giant game of Garage-Tetris. The boxes are for moving obviously (no giant cardboard DIY in the works as of yet) and for almost a year now I've been collecting and planning how our furniture will be in the new house. Included in those plans is this mid-century dresser I picked up at Salvation Army for $60. Sometime last year I lived out the drama of buying this beauty live on Facebook (originally priced around $125). It's a fun read.

My plans have always been to buy one of these suckers and use it as a console table behind our couch. Since our couch will be "floating" in the middle of the room, this winds up being front and center  when you enter our front door. The pressure was high (from an always skeptical husband who after all these years still isn't 100% confident in my DIY visions) to make it awesome. 

And, he was a little bit justified in his cautious skepticism. There was quite a bit of damage to the veneer on top.

Both sides and the middle were missing large chunks. However, besides being dirty and dusty, the drawers and legs were in great shape.

Since I knew I wanted to paint the top and sides, I didn't bother replacing the missing veneer. Instead, I removed what wasn't securely attached and re-glued the rest back down. Then I filled the missing sections with wood filler. I've used several kinds before. This time I went with the new Elmer's purple variety (dries white).

It worked really well. Went on very smooth (sometimes wood filler can be a little gritty). The kids even helped a bit. Kaley takes her supervisor roll seriously. And it's Florida, we never wear shoes. I'm surprised he's wearing a shirt (however it is a swim shirt, haha).

Once that was dry, I gave all the parts that were going to be receiving paint a light sanding... hence, crazy sanding eyes. Did I mention I got LASIK a couple months ago? How's it look? Getting off topic...

Then, I moved the entire thing to the backyard inside my new HomeRight spray shelter. I don't know if me or my neighbors are happier that I got this thing. I never realized how much paint I was wasting just spraying out in the open backyard. This takes the wind factor out and keeps the paint on my piece... not on my neighbors patio. (sorry bout that!) Also, funny thing happens in a tent in Florida in July... it gets hot. Real hot. Like I created a giant furniture oven. So not only did my paint dry almost instantly, I think I lost 5 lbs too. Bonus! :)

Once I got the dresser inside, I taped off the areas where I didn't want paint. That included the legs on which I use aluminum foil. Many DIY projects and rolls of tape later I learned that foil works amazing when you need to cover up weirdly shaped things. You're welcome.

Then I prepped my sprayer. This is the first time I have ever used a paint sprayer. I went the HomeRight route because I'd heard such great things about the finish a spryer produces from other bloggers. And like I said before, this piece is going to be in the center of my living room. I figured it was worth a shot. I followed the directions to set everything up (it was pretty quick). Thinning my paint took the longest and it didn't even take that long. Home Right provides a little plastic funnel that helps you determine if your paint is the right viscosity. I used exterior paint plus stain blocking primer in one. I was thinking durability. 

Then I began with one light coat after another. I did sand very quickly and lightly between them with a foam sanding block. I think I must have done 5-8 coats. But like I said, they were drying almost instantly and the sprayer works so fast, one coat probably took less than a minute. Super fast! I think I have told everyone that I will never go back to a brush for furniture. Just the time factor alone has me sold. The smooth-as-buttah finish is really just a bonus. :)

So that's it. The rest of the piece just got a good cleaning and some Old English oil and it looks brand new. My "new" dresser/console table has currently bumped our old sofa table out of it's spot in our foyer while it waits for it's spot on the moving truck. I didn't dare drag it back into the Garage-Tetris chaos with it's new fresh finish.

I'd say the hype was right. HomeRight Finish Max for the win. I would have never gotten this finish with a brush. Even if I had sanded my arms off. I can't wait to move it into its new spot... soon!


Thinking Out of the Box - Quick Dessert Ideas and Free Dessert Printables

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Sara Lee®, and Breyers® but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #EasySimpleSweet http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
To download the free dessert printables click HERE.

I'm writing this post as the rest of my family is sleeping. And, duh, "While They Snooze" but this this it's because I can't sleep! We're in the home stretch of building our home and lately it's felt more like an extra full-time job full of decisions about finishes and money. I don't have time for anything extra what so ever right now. My normal weekday looks something like: wake up, go to work, leave work, pick up kids, meet a contractor at the house, call 4 people to set up other house appointments, cook dinner, baths, bed, repeat. Any extra cooking is certainly out of the question, including baking. However, I LOVE dessert so I've been thinking out of the box lately (you see what I did there, ha!) on ways to whip up special, yet really fast dessert ideas when you're swamped and company is on the way over.

In fact, my sister was just in town with her husband and 3 boys on their way back from vacationing in the Keys a couple days ago. My mom called the night before to tell me they would be over and could I bring dessert. This is one of those times a quick trip to Publix for Sara Lee® Double Chocolate Pound Cake Slices and Breyers® Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry ice cream would have come in real handy.

Seriously, what kid (or adult!) doesn't love chocolate cake and ice cream? It's like the go-to of all desserts. And while I'm the kind of person that would devour chocolate pound cake presented to me in any form (utensils optional), I know there might be a desire by some to make it a little more fancy. So for that, I designed a few dessert-themed printables you can download for free.

Included in the downloadable PDF are cupcake toppers, flags, popsicles, and table tents. The kids helped me cut everything out and glue them to the sticks.

The popsicles are my favorite and I can see them being used for place cards or tucked in a napkin ring as a decoration. The kids have already claimed their favorites and use them to play house.

The toppers turned out so cute and make an already delicious dessert look even better.  I made a few blank ones so you can add your own personalization. I will confess, I'm the person that digs all of the chocolate and strawberry out of the carton and leaves the lonely vanilla for my unsuspecting husband.  :)

Kaley wrote the chalkboard "Scoops" sign for us which I think is funny because after she wrote it she asked "Don't you mean five dollars, Mom? I mean, nothing costs five cents."  So true, Kaley.  So true.

So head to Publix and stock the freezer with Breyers Ice Cream and Sara Lee pound cake (it's solo good!) for when company is on their way. Then download the printables and make them fancy! And, take advantage of $3.00 off any ONE (1) Sara Lee® Frozen Dessert 9.6-30 oz. and Breyers® Ice Cream 48 oz. (combined purchase required) now through 8/28/15 at your local Publix while supplies last.


{Series Part 5} House Update: From the Windows to the Walls....

Wow, it's been a while. Last I did an update post I was hoping for a cement slab. A lot has happened since then! We have windows and walls... and a roof, and a few other not-so-pretty-for-photography things but, it's looking like a house now and less like a mud pit. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you've seen some pictures. But I figured it was time for a post with all the fun (and not-so-fun) details. Wear your crappy shoes and coat yourself in bug spray; it's time to head out to the house.

Last we chatted I was hoping for cement and we got some. It also poured that week (like I was going to need an ark) and of course delayed things a little. Say it with me, DE-LAY. At this point it rolls off the tongue like my kids' names do when someone starts smacking someone else. Building a house is the slowest process on earth. Getting the slab poured took a couple weeks longer than it was supposed to. It rained, they couldn't get the pump truck out in time, the crew needed to be available, yada yada. All those things needed to line up. The stars aligned, a rainbow appeared, a butterfly landed on my shoulder, and finally a giant slab was born. (or something like that)

There were a couple decisions I had to make pre-cement. First was, what was going in the kitchen island. Since my kitchen sink and dishwasher will be in the island, power and plumbing had to be run under the slab (no walls to run it through in an island). Then in the living room, I decided it would be a great idea to have an outlet in the floor. Since my couch will be "floating" and not against a wall, I wanted some place to plug in a couple lamps.  However, the electrician needed to know that exact location of that outlet before the slab was poured. So in other words, he wanted me to go out into the dirt and weeds and mark where he needed to run his wires. If I was off in marking it, that outlet would end up in the middle of the hallway floor, in a bedroom on accident, or with my luck, next to a toilet. Seriously. How am I supposed to know where my couch is going to be, EXACTLY, when all I have to reference is a pile of dirt and some trees? I didn't even know if I was in the correct room. So, for that reason, I opted out of the floor outlet. We'll just have to live by candlelight I guess. 

After the slab was dry (cured for a couple days) the concrete block went up. I swear those guys had the entire house built like a giant game of Lincoln Logs in a day. It was amazing. I absolutely loved being able to walk through my "front door" and seeing the house that I designed come to life. At this point, with all of the walls open, the house looked massive. 

The next exciting step was when the roof trusses went up. We've already gained quite a reputation in the neighborhood since one of our contractors knocked out power to the entire street (yay) and the truss truck got stuck and had to be towed out of the neighbors' yard. Fantastic. I guess I know where to deliver some beer. But, aside from that, the truss guys were amazing. Like little swearing, shirtless, sweaty, monkeys climbing all over the trusses. 

Once the trusses went up, a separate crew came and "decked" the roof. Or in other words, added plywood to the whole thing. 

Then tar paper, then shingles. I had to choose the shingles from a website (I never saw them in person) which made me nervous but I'm happy with the them. We chose Pinnacle Pristine and the color is Hearthstone. We said all along we wanted a metal roof... until we priced a metal roof. Haha. Holy shingles. It's almost 3 times the price. Shingles it is!

Somewhere around this time the windows went in too.

And finally for the main exterior body of the house, we chose HardiePlank® lap siding in a smooth finish then painted it "Hematite" (very dark gray) from Behr (Home Depot). All the trim is set to be white and is actually a composite material, not wood. So, it won't rot. Yay for us! :) The bottom has been left undone because we're going to have a small band of stacked stone installed there.

The stone wasn't originally part of the plan and was an extra I added. Which translates to us paying for that out-of-pocket. Since it was out-of-pocket, we found a way to save a little money. Instead of having a hefty stone cap installed on top of the band of stone (where the stone meets the siding), we just trimmed the section out with the same trim we are using on the rest of the house.  It saved us around $700. Granted, I think the stone cap would have looked nicer, but our savings account is not infinite and I think this was a smart corner to cut. Now I have that $700 to spend somewhere else... like the kitchen or on some floors.

And speaking of... this post is WAY too long to get into the interior.  That's for another day. Until then follow me on Pinterest to see all of the ideas I've been saving up. I also frequently ask for advice on house decisions (wood floors in the kitchen?!) via Facebook so look for me there too and help a sister out! They say we might be moving at the end of next month but I'm not holding my breath. If we can be in for Halloween, I'll be happy!

#WTShouse - Sarah