We finally painted the house!

After months of agonizing over exterior color choices and options, we finally took the plunge and painted the house this week. We also got a brand new roof and painted the shutters, so basically we have done a complete exterior makeover!

In order to truly appreciate this, we have to go back to where we started. This is what the exterior looked like a few months ago, before we started tweaking it. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember me writing about some of our ideas for the curb appeal.

We started by building some shutters for the windows, which helped add some interest and dimension. We originally stained them a grey/brown color, but they just sort of blended in with our brown brick.

We also built a lattice structure on the left, where we planted some vines. Can't wait for those to grow!

The next step was choosing an exterior paint color. I had the HARDEST time making up my mind! I'm usually a very decisive person, so it was pretty frustrating. I just knew it was a very important (read: expensive) decision – no do-overs – and I didn't want to mess it up! 

We knew we wanted to get away from the chocolatey brown we already had because everything was just so brown – the brick, the roof, the siding, the trim. The house was actually painted four different shades of brown, which was another negative for the current color scheme. Why would we we need so many different shades?! The entire inside of our house is painted grey, so I think it's pretty obvious that we like the color grey. We thought we could go with a nice grey tone that might make the house a little less milk-chocolatey. 

We saved some serious cash by buying our paint during the Sherwin Williams paint sale. They were running a 40% off sale, but we didn't know what color we wanted yet. We ended up just buying the plain white base paint, and they said we could bring it back to add the color tint when we were ready. How awesome is that? We ended up saving $250 by waiting for the sale price, so we felt pretty good about that. 

We brought home several grey/beige colors from Sherwin Williams to try on the house. One was much darker, and the others were more of a medium tone. We painted them in several different places, trying to get a feel for what they might look like with our brick. 

Our house looked like this for a few weeks while we pondered the decision. We could NOT pick one! I felt like they were too grey and were clashing with our brown brick. It seemed like we were forcing a house that wanted to be brown to actually be grey, just because we really like grey.

I finally told the husband that I didn't like ANY of them, and I wanted to start over with more options. At this point I really wished Sherwin Williams had more color options available, and I felt confined by their selection. I wanted some warmer greys that had more beige/tan in the mix, but they just didn't have what I was looking for. 

This was a major turning point for this project. We talked to the Sherwin Williams sales guy about our predicament, and we found out that Sherwin Williams can color match other paint brands. We could find a color from Lowe's, Home Depot or another paint store and simply bring the swatch to Sherwin Williams. They can look it up in their database and create that color for you. Hallelujah! I suddenly had a whole world of paint colors opened up to me, so the hunt for the perfect shade was officially on. 

My favorite interior paint colors are from Benjamin Moore, so I decided to start there. I went to our local Ace Hardware to pick up a bunch of paint swatches. I found the winning swatch almost instantly. I like to call it love at first site. Shenandoah Taupe, will you be my house color?

While all of this paint indecision was happening, we finally had the new roof installed. We had a hail storm last summer and received insurance money to replace our damaged roof, but we've been waiting for the right time. Once we were finally ready we found out our roofers were already really busy, so we had to wait several weeks before they could do the project. 

Just like we did with our first home, we bought the shingles from Home Depot ourselves (on sale, of course). Buying them ourselves helps us get a better price with our roofers, and you know we're all about saving cash! As for choosing shingles, I'm a huge fan of the Timberline Natural Shadow shingles because I think the three dimensional shingles look so much better than the flat variety. I'm willing to pay the small markup for what I think it a much better looking roof. 

I thought a dark roof would make our house look so much better, so I chose the Timberline Natural Shadow shingles in the charcoal color. Instead of blending in with the brown brick, the roof now highlights the architecture and tall eaves in front of the house, which is exactly what we hoped the new roof would do!

Did you notice we painted the shutters, too? They got a fresh coat of Valspar Hematite, one of my favorite colors and the current color of our front door. 

Let's see the full transformation, shall we? 









The only sad thing about that after is that my poor plant is dying! Look at how lush and green it was in the top photo. Tragic. 

Anyway, we are so happy with our new curb appeal! We feel like we made the right choices, even though it took us a long time to make the picks. What do you think?

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Thrifting Fail.

My husband was right.

There, I said it.

When I brought home this $50 dresser from the thrift store, he was not happy skeptical.

 He thought it was ugly. (It was, but I had a vision. Remember?)

He thought it was falling apart. (It was a little beat up. The drawers didn't pull out very smoothly.)

He reminded me that it wasn't even the right size or height, based on what I said I wanted originally. (No arguments here; he was right. I wanted something much taller and not quite as wide.)

Quite frankly, he thought it was a bad purchase. But I convinced him to trust my vision for this ugly dresser. I made him believe we could salvage it into a beautiful vintage piece.

And we did! Once we blasted it with semi gloss white paint and added gold hardware, it was looking pretty spiffy. Not perfect, but a million times better than it was before. 

But there was one problem: It smelled.

I should clarify that it wasn't the whole piece of furniture that smelled; it was only the drawers. It didn't stink up our room when I moved it in there. But when you opened the drawers, there was a persistent musty smell that sometimes comes with old, neglected furniture.

I don't know about you, but I hate that smell. I have trained myself not to breathe through my nose in thrift stores because I dislike that smell so much. (Which is probably why I didn't notice that this piece smelled, but that's beside the point.)

I tried to get rid of the smell. My first method was this tip from Martha Stewart. I placed little containers of white vinegar each drawer and left them in there for a week. 

One week later, the drawers still had a musty odor. This time I decided to try wiping down each drawer with cleaner and leaving some baking soda in each drawer to soak up the smell.

I thought it had improved slightly after this method, so I decided to stick a few t-shirts in the drawer for a few days to see if the clothes would soak up the musty smell. Sure enough, they did. I don't know about you, but I don't want to put my freshly laundered clothes in a drawer only to have them soak up an "old" smell. No way!

I wasn't ready to give up on the dresser just yet (after all, we put a decent amount of time and energy into salvaging it), so I took my measuring tape around the house to see if it would work anywhere else. After all, it would be a good storage piece for anything other than clothing. I thought it would be a nice console below our TV, but it was too wide. 

I thought I could swap it out with the dresser in our formal living room, but once again it was too wide. (It's 77 inches wide, which is pretty darn big.)

I thought about putting it in my office/art studio where I currently have some Ikea storage. Once again, too wide!

So that brings me to today. I still have this dresser in our master bedroom, and it's covered in laundry baskets filled with my clothes – the same clothes that should be inside the dresser. It looks really junky, and my neat-freak husband is not feeling it. 

I have officially given up on keeping this piece of furniture, but I'm not sure what to do with it. I'm hosting a garage sale for my church soon, so maybe I'll sell it there. Or maybe I'll just donate it back to the thrift store where I bought it! What do you think?

There is a lesson to be learned here, though:

• First of all, sometimes my husband is right. (Don't tell him I said so.)

• I need to be more thorough when examining my thrift store purchases. Never again will I buy a chest of drawers without opening each drawer and assessing the quality- and smell! 

If I hadn't been so eager to find a dresser for my room, I probably would have patiently examined this one and passed on it. Instead, I convinced myself that I could make it work. And in the end I wasted a lot of my time (and my sweet husband's time) trying to salvage something that was never right for us in the first place.

Oh well, you can't win them all! Does anyone have a beautiful dresser they want to sell to me? :)

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Classroom Decor: DIY String Art

For those of you who don't know, the husband is a teacher/football coach when he isn't moonlighting as a carpenter, electrician, plumber and handyman extraordinaire.

For the first time in his career, he has his own classroom. His school just built a gorgeous, brand new 9th grade campus because of overcrowding, so he is moving over to that campus and is the proud owner of a shiny white classroom.

For the first time ever, we need to decorate a classroom. Of course I'm very excited about this new project!

Since we are decorating with our own money, whatever we chose for wall decor needed to be very affordable. The husband specifically requested "something cool and unique." Though he is a math teacher, he didn't want anything on the walls that relates to math. "Nothing cheesy!" was his only other requirement.

I mulled it over for a while before I came up with the idea to try some string art. I thought the geometric pattern would be really interesting (and a little math-related, although don't tell him that). String + nails + wood = masculine classroom art for a super cool high school math teacher and football coach. It's perfect, right?

I've never done string art before, but I think it turned out pretty well. This "FM" is his school logo, which seems appropriate for decorating a classroom. (Please ignore the dog hair on the floor... That's a constant at our house!)

I'm not going to lie and say this was a simple, easy project. It was a little more than I bargained for!

My first mistake was choosing to do his school logo, which is fairly involved and specific. Just drawing that logo onto the wood was pretty challenging because I did it freehand. It would be so much easier to try this project with a simple design, like a heart. Just keep that in mind if you want t try it yourself!

I used a peach colored pencil to draw it on so that the lines wouldn't be that noticeable. There is no erasing dark pencil from wood, so that wasn't an option. It was actually really hard to see if the logo was looking OK because the peach colored pencil blended in so well, so I decided to lay my tiny nails on top of my outline to make sure I was on track with my FM. Just laying those nails on top of the wood was a bit tedious, so I started to realize this project was going to be a pain.

At that point I felt a lot better about it, so I decided the next step was to make small dots along my outline to guide where each nail should go. I got my gold paint pen, which also blended in well with the cedar. You can see my little gold dots in this close up below.

For materials, we used 11/16 inch linoleum nails. We liked them because they were golden and had rounded heads, so they were more visually appealing than a lot of the other nails. For the string, we bought twisted mason twine. Both were purchased at Home Depot.

I honestly didn't look at any tutorials before starting this, so I was winging it. Once the nails were in place (oh my word, that took forever), I tied the string on to a starter nail and just haphazardly started looping it around other nails.

Back and forth, back and forth, on and on and on... My goal was just to fill in the FM so that you can clearly see the logo. Once I felt like it was visible, I tied a knot on the final nail and called it a day!

Luckily for me, the husband thinks it is really cool and is very excited to put it up in his classroom. I'll ask him to take photos once he has it up!

So that's the random project I've been working on. Does this make you want to try some string art? Take my advice and do a simple shape– it's so much easier that way!

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DIY Tissue Tassels: How to Make Balloons Extra Special

Have you ever heard of Geronimo Balloons? The brainchild of LA designer Jihan Zencirli, Geronimo Balloons delivers fabulous, frilly, whimsical and downright charming balloons all over the the U.S. and abroad. (Follow Geronimo on Instagram; I highly recommend it!) You can even buy her balloons through Anthropologie's BHLDN website.

Anyway, we were inspired by their stunning balloon creations to add our own spin to the 36 inch balloons I ordered from BargainBalloons.com for our "Ready to Pop" baby shower. Doesn't the fringe make the balloon about a million times more festive?

I wish I had taken pictures of the process, but we were frantically finishing up the party prep and didn't have time! But I promise it was very simple, and anyone can add this simple flourish to balloons to make someone feel extra special. 

I pretty much followed this tutorial, using my exacto knife to cut the tissue paper in thin strips. Instead of twisting it at the top, I wrapped it around the balloon string and secured it with tape. It's that simple!

I bought the various shades of pink tissue paper in the wrapping section at Target. It all came in one pack, so it was a piece of cake to create that ombré effect with the tassels. To make it easy on yourself, start at the bottom layer and work your way up the string to the base of the balloon.

Then we made the baby momma pose with her cute little bump and balloon after the party, of course!

And because we're total goobers, we frolicked with the balloons a little bit more for an impromptu photoshoot. Your best friend must be one who is willing to embarrass herself with you. That's my #1 requirement! (The kids playing in our neighborhood were totally looking at us like we were nuts.)

The next time you're throwing a party, you definitely need some balloon tassels. I bet children would go nuts for these at a birthday party! Or you can give one to your coworker for her birthday just to make her office/cubicle/workspace a little happier. You know it would be a conversation starter at the office!

That's the best word to describe these balloons: HAPPY!

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DIY "Ready to Pop" Baby Shower

When one of our longtime friends announced her pregnancy this past spring, my bestie and I immediately knew we would put our heads together to throw her a fun baby shower. We finally got the chance to celebrate her this past weekend with a fabulous "Ready to Pop!" themed shower at my home. It was a very special way for all of us to share in her joyous occasion.

My best friend is a professional catering manager, and we all know how much I love to decorate, so we make a pretty good party planning team. Once we picked the "Ready to Pop!" theme, we immediately starting planning ways we could utilize balloons in a way that was grown up and feminine. We were inspired by this gorgeous bridal shower collaboration between Anthropologie and Brittany at The House That Lars Built, but we put our own spin on it because we didn't have the exact same materials and setup.

I wanted to find a lot of balloons in various shades of pink, but I was on a budget. After shopping around, I bought hundreds of balloons from BargainBalloons.com, a wholesaler with a great selection and range of colors. I bought 11" Qualatex coral latex balloons (100), 9" pearl peach latex balloons (100), 12" standard rose latex balloons (100) and 5" gold latex balloons (100) to build the arch. Then I bought the 4 gold mylar letter balloons and a pack of six 36" powder pink latex balloons. My very best purchasing decision was buying two of the Qualatex balloon hand pumps so that we wouldn't have to blow all these balloons up with our own hot air. (Can you imagine?!)

I feel like I got an excellent deal on the balloons: I bought 400 regular balloons, 10 "specialty" balloons and 2 pumps for $57.43. When you consider that a 10-pack of balloons sells for $1.29 each at Walmart, we paid almost a 10th of the price by ordering online from BargainBalloons.com. It's so important to do your research if you want to contain your budget!

We wanted the balloon arch to really catch your attention right when you walk in the door. It was actually fairly simple to create, which surprised us. We used an oversized needle to thread the fishing line through the bottom of each balloon, just like this pin. Once they stacked on top of one another, they really rounded out into the thick, draping arch that you see in the photos. If we had any awkward gaps, we just taped on some extra balloons. Then we foraged in my yard for some greenery, which we taped in some of the gaps between the balloons. That really elevated the balloons from being juvenile to working perfectly in a grown-up party environment, which is exactly what we wanted. I seriously LOVE this balloon arch so much! It was worth all of the effort, for sure.

Once it was time to open presents, we asked the mommy-to-be to sit under the arch for photos. We left the chair open beside her so that each person could sit next to her while she was opening their gift. Then we took a picture of each person with the guest of honor. It worked out so perfectly, and we gave all the photos to our friend as a keepsake. I'll try to do this with my showers from now on because it's such a nice way to get a photo with each guest.

Here I am posing with the beautiful mommy of honor under the glorious balloon arch!

We carried the "pop" theme throughout the entire party, from the decor to the food and even the party favors. We even put our huge balloons outside to welcome the guests! (And I've been testing paint colors on the outside of the house, so I was hoping these balloons would distract the party guests from my multicolored garage. Sure enough, it worked!)

Kelsey, my party-planning partner in crime, did a fantastic job creating a delicious menu around the theme that included pie pops, cheese pops, popcorn  and pop-themed candy like Pop Rocks, Blow Pops and Ring Pops. We also added fruit pops and very cute soda "pop" from World Market. She created different levels on the table so that each food item would be displayed beautifully.


We made the pie pops ourselves, and it was pretty simple. Using premade pie crust, we did three different types of filling: Cookie Butter (Trader Joes), lemon and strawberry. Then she drizzled white chocolate on the lemon pie pops and milk chocolate on the Cookie Butter pops. So delicious! I can tell you those chocolate ones did not last long at all.

A word to the wise, though: Remember to soak the sticks for each pop in water first to avoid the smoke we had pouring out of our oven. Oops!

We bought charming vintage-y lollipops from Cracker Barrel as party favors, and they became part of the decor on the dresser. I added that adorable canvas art from Lindsay Letters (on sale now at Hobby Lobby), which I gave to the mommy-to-be as part of her gift. It's always nice to be able to use your gift as decor. I love items that have dual purpose!

I created these shower games in Illustrator to match our theme. If you click on the images below, you should be able to right click and save them to your own desktop. I didn't personalize them so you could use them for your own shower if you want. Hooray for free downloads!

Overall, we had so much fun hosting this party for our dear friend. Everyone had a great time celebrating the momma-to-be, and we felt happy to give her that special gift. 

I'll be back tomorrow to chat about how we made these awesome tassels for our huge balloons, which made them about a million times cuter. Thanks to the fabulous Geronimo Balloons for inspiring us on this little "customization" for our balloons. It's all about the details, am I right?

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