Two Story Cottage

Colorful Wooden Silhouettes

Dear Friends,

Happy Summer!  I’m right in the thick of it between swim team, camps, and travel.  I kind of love it.  We haven’t deviated too far from a typical schedule but boy do I enjoy the snippets of down time that appear here and there.  I’m exhausted at the end of the day from fixing a thousand meals and breaking up twice as many fights but it feels wonderfully fresh.  I know by August I may feel differently but for now I’m embracing it.

I’ve made quite a few changes lately despite our all over the place schedule.  One small change that makes a big impact is the addition of wooden silhouettes of the kids.  They can be ordered from Von Jet Silhouettes and I think they are a treasure.  I’ve always loved the classic silhouette but this takes it to another level.





I went bold with my color choices but I wouldn’t change a thing.  The weathered wood on the chartreuse fits right in.  As far as art goes, it is relatively inexpensive and something I’m likely to hold on to for years to come.  I’m glad I took the plunge with this one!

Happy July,




Inexpensive Fireplace Surround Update

Dear Friends,

I have been focusing on the family room since the New Year dawned.  We spend the most time there so it makes sense to use it as a jumping off point for the rest of the house.   I’ve been happy with our painted bookcase backs but over Christmas I decided the brown marble in our fireplace surround was just too distracting.  It was such a strong, elegant look and didn’t jive with the more casual, colorful vibe I was going for.


I had done nothing with the fireplace because in my mind I saw a total overhaul.  Shiplap or moulding, different tile, a cleaner mantel, the whole nine yards.  However, the reality of where that would be on the wish list meant it wasn’t going to happen anywhere in the near future.

Enter my decision to paint.


I spent a zillion hours on google looking at high temperature paints and ultimately decided to go a different route.  I discovered that Annie Sloan chalk paint is water-based and not flammable.  The website says it is safe for fireplace surrounds although it is not fire retardant so stay away from the anything that fire touches.


The graphite color gives a flat, slate-like look which is right up my alley.  I love slate so I’m a happy camper.  I realize that it doesn’t have the variation or interest that the marble did but I’m not looking for it to be a focal point. Oh, and I didn’t use any kind of wax because of the potential for it to melt.  I do plan on doing some kind of poly or topcoat to keep it from scratching but I haven’t gotten around to it. I wanted to be sure I liked it first.

I do so I should get on that.

Often, we hesitate to replace something that is nice or expensive.  Painting over marble is probably a sin for all stone enthusiasts.  However, I spent $30 and changed something that did not work for me to something that works for a few years at least.

One thing at a time and eventually we will get there!


New Year, New Stripes

Dear Friends,

I’ve got a permanent case of the stripes.  Whether it is clothes, fabric, walls or even ceilings I’m smitten.  I’ve been a stripes girl for years- dating back as far as my high school wardrobe.  Just about every house I’ve lived in has been a victim in some capacity.   Why should this house be any different?




I did wait 20 long, painful months.  I’m glad I gave in and got out the painter’s tape.  My house feels happy now.  The graphic element helps define the space.  I sometimes felt like the family room was a walk-through or had a “blank” feeling to it but now I can feel all four corners.

I actually did stripes on the opposite wall (the window wall) as well.  Not pictured today but consider it a coming soon.  The colors are the original Antique White from Sherwin Williams and a new SW color from the HGTV Home collection called Curling Willow. It feels both taupe and gray depending on the light.

I’ve missed blogging.  January has been a month of playing catch-up.  Balancing my new job with everything else has been a lesson in efficiency and I’m finally finding my groove.  Reid missed almost a week of school with a nasty viral illness and we had a couple of snow/ice days but we have hit our stride after stumbling into the New Year.

Happy February!


2015 Christmas Tour

Dear Friends,

The Christmas boxes are stacked in the garage and the house is finished.  I chose to step away and call it done despite more ideas, the desire to further tweak, and plenty of imperfection.  I’m thoroughly enjoying a festive house and I know the rest of the family is.  I love how warm and cozy things feel this time of year.


My camera battery was DOA this morning so I did my best with my ancient point and shoot. The clarity is lacking but I’m actually kind of glad it happened because I know I’m going into Christmas with a fully charged, ready to go camera.

It is only our second Christmas in this home so I was still in the mode of figuring out placement; however, I’m feeling much more settled this year.  Our tree is in the dining room and I don’t mind at all.  We can see it from outside which is nice and I’m not worrying about the kids crashing into it.


The family room is full of color and plenty of green.  Each year I get one new thing and this year it was the JOY letters from Ballard Designs.  As soon as I saw they were a Bring Home Ballard item, my decision was made.



Lacey and I had fun making the ornament garland on the mantel.   We put the ornaments on a string one by one and the garland was complete.  You can twist and turn them a bit but it is no different than stringing popcorn or beads.  I had a big 100+ box of ornaments that I bought last year at Target that gave us just enough.  I supplemented it with magnolia leaves, pinecones, and a couple of birds.

ball_ornament_garland colorful_garland ornament_garland

Our neighborhood common space is full of magnolias, so this year I used a lot of cuttings for our garlands and greenery.  Picture me sneaking around at night with my scissors and flashlight and you get the idea.

 dining_table_christmas  pine_magnolia_table



I decorated the kitchen a little more than usual.  Still no new backsplash, but check out my latest way to cover the fruit centerpiece.  Don’t you love that art piece by Salted Words?  It has really helped to change the overall feel.



Our advent trees are an important tradition.  The kids are at an age where they LOVE all of the daily Christmas things that we do.  Finding Ernie the Elf is at the top of the list of course.


This year I tried to hit most tabletops and vignette spots without it being too much.  I stuck to mostly bigger things and grouped as best as I could.  It is so easy to have so many little things and I am bothered by a lot of clutter.

birds_glass christmas_vignette foyer_christmas ornaments_brown

Not pictured -we broke tradition this year and bought a fake tree for the corner upstairs.  We will continue with our fresh tree downstairs but now the kids have a spot that is just for them.  They loaded up the tree with ornaments and it was nice to have less on our main tree. I let them have free reign with little expectation, but I find I’m enjoying it a lot more than I imagined.  The twinkling lights help so much on the dark mornings.

I’m gearing up for the next week of chaos.  We have a zillion things on the schedule with school, work, and parties before school gets out.  So far,  we haven’t been crazed but the last week before break always brings serious intensity.   After next week, we have almost a week until Christmas so it will be nice to recover a bit and enjoy the time leading up to the big day.

Are you finished decorating?  Or calling it done like I am?


Open Shelving in My Kitchen

Dear Friends,

I’ve drooled over many a magazine picture with open shelving in the kitchen.  However, as you know by now,  I’m a hopelessly practical gal.  I’ve never been able to convert.  I like to hide my junk, you know what I mean?  Keep the clutter behind the cabinets!

Regardless, in this house there are plenty of cabinets to go around so I could spare one for pretties.  But because I’m so into function, the obvious choice was my cabinet with glass doors.  It is already meant for display so why not go full tilt.  I took off the doors with a little help from my friend google.


It turns out taking off cabinet doors is a cinch which could be a bad thing.

Anyhow, the next thing you know I was painting the interior of the cabinet between pancakes on a Saturday morning.  I cheated and used chalk paint that I had in the garage.  I should clarify – it is chalkboard paint which is not the same but it is tinted in my favorite Dior Gray and I love the flat finish and lack of sanding.  I am not going to be using chalk on this paint by the way.


open_shelving kitchen_display_white


kitchen_dior_gray dior_gray_kitchen

I used my best white display stuff and dug around a little to fill in where needed.  Also, I am saving the glass doors to switch out on another cabinet.   It never ends, right?

It isn’t for everyone but I’m a super fan of the new look.  I like that the dark color takes the cabinets from more of a cream to hints of clay which is my preference.  From somewhat country to a bit more modern country.  Or rock n’ roll if you prefer.

No, I’m not going to take all of my cabinet doors down but a little change goes a long way.




Going Gray

Dear Friends,

This summer I started a collection of gray paint swatches. It started off innocently with a card or two but spiraled into a burning need for more, more, more.  I may have contracted a case of paint swatch perfectionism.  I’ve got every brand known to man and yet I couldn’t pull the trigger on any of them.

The victim in mind was the drywall around the fireplace.  Since painting the back of the bookcases, I knew that I needed an accent color to play nicely with the yellowy green.  The Timothy Straw was a bold choice so I needed the gray to blend but not scream “here I am.”

Well, Sherwin Williams recently had a big paint sale.  It turns out I’m suddenly very decisive when money is on the line. I settled on SW Analytical Gray because I liked the taupey tones it gave off.

Here is the before and after:



I think I like it.  It is subtle and does seem to complement the bookcases. I have other ideas of fun things besides drywall on the fireplace wall but I’m not there yet. Honestly, my ideal plan is to redo the fireplace altogether but that is so far down the list that I might as well enjoy the paint.

I spy a puzzle in the floor. Nope, I’m not about  to risk moving a zillion piece puzzle.

The obvious thing would be to paint the rest of the room in Analytical Gray but I’m keeping it Antique White for now.  I’d love to plank the walls with a white tongue and groove so I’m biding my time until that is a possibility.  Also, with an open floor plan it isn’t easy to paint one room without painting others.

I feel like painting that little old wall is a small thing that makes a big difference.  It feels much more finished which is a good feeling.

Details for the win.



Going Bold in the Family Room

Dear Friends,

August is here and the last few weeks have just flown by.  We spent a week at the beach and had a week of Vacation Bible School- both were equal parts fun and exhausting.  Teaching VBS reminded me to be extra thankful for those classroom teachers come fall. I’m finally catching my breath but school and all that comes with it is just around the corner.  We are squeezing what we can out of the rest of summer.

The kiddos are a getting a bit cranky as they do every August, although I’m not sure I’ll know grumpy until that first full week has stripped them down to their bare reserves.   Count me in there with them.

I got started on a project in the family room that has a cheerful feel and I’m a girl who likes a happy house.



The back of the family room bookcases is now Timothy Straw by Benjamin Moore.  It is a bold greenish-yellow color that had me at hello.   The fireplace wall needs paint or a treatment for sure.   I’ve been twirling that around in my mind for months.  It may get painted for now although I need to determine a color.  Maybe down the road I could do tongue and groove or shiplap.   Of course if that happens, I want to scale it down a bit and change the marble so we can see where that project would lead.



Summer is for pops of color and I’ve got that covered.  Luckily, I think that Timothy Straw will transition into fall just fine.  It is the rest of us I’m worried about.




Family Room: New floor lamp

Dear Friends,

Back in the spring I did a round-up of floor lamps.  I was looking at the swing arm style for the family room.  Well, for once I actually placed an order instead of just virtual window shopping. I got the arched bridge arm lamp from Shades of Light. The price was doable at $179 and I wish I had pulled the trigger sooner.  I’ve had the lamp for a few weeks now and I don’t know how we lived without it.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 2.11.47 PM

I use it in the evening to keep things light in the family room.  It is great for reading and a little ambiance.  It has a push button this sits on the floor – the kids love that you can turn it on and off with your foot.  Yeah, that was a fun game for a while.  Or not.


Because we don’t have room for a sofa table, the lamp helps create a more solid foundation between the family room and kitchen.  It softens the lines of the sofa and adds much needed height.


Look closely in the background and there is a sneak peek of a project I’ve been working on this summer.  I’m hoping it makes the blog next week. Summer is not a great time for blogging but it is a pretty good time for me to get some stuff done on the always growing honey-do-it-yourself list.

The striped pillows below are my original sofa pillows circa 2002.  I painstakingly picked out that fabric and those are still my colors.  I dug them out of hiding the other day – I’ll keep them around for summer anyway.


A floor lamp won’t solve the world’s problems but it has made my day to day life a little bit easier and much more pleasant.

Cheers to not sitting in the darkness.


Summer Touches

Dear Friends,

Independence Day has come and gone and we are barreling toward mid-July.  I’m kind of shocked yet I know that summer is just another swift moving season.  I feel like I’ve been hanging my head out the window of a moving car.  Wind-blown, content, and disheveled at the same time. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our lack of crazy but the days are long and exhausting.

Like days with a newborn where the tired is physical.

I’ve actually been doing a lot of little projects around the house but documenting them is a whole different ballgame.  I’ve got pictures so the posts will eventually come.   If I get up early in the morning, I’ve been running and I need it to face the hours with the crazy people.  They are fun but they will suck the life out of you.

I might be a shell of a person by August.

I’m not ready to think about August – we still have our beach week with the girls and a week of day camp to look forward to.  Just don’t say the “s” word because I refuse to let stinky sharks and their carnivorous ways ruin my vacation.  I’m hoping they will set up camp elsewhere by the end of the month.


Hydrangeas might be my favorite summer decorating piece.  My mom has an abundance of them in beautiful blue.  Summer decor is really somewhat of a year round thing here. My family room has the touches of coral, yellow, and blue so the mood is always a little bit summery. I hesitate to go all out with themed knick knacks but I do have a few summer touches to speak of.





Not an abundance of summer styling but those little details can make all the difference. Wooden coral and painted driftwood are beachy and bright. My summer style right now is a wrecked house, a pile of laundry, and an abundance of beach towels.  Throw in a pile of flip flops and a gaggle of goggles and the scene is complete.


Hot and Humble



Where We Are: The Covered Patio

Dear Friends,

We have been hit with a major heat wave here in the Carolinas.  It has been nearly 100 degrees everyday this week.   That is typical for August but not early June!  It has put a damper on the outdoor activities for sure.  I can usually be found on my porch in the early morning or evening this time of year but it isn’t quite as enjoyable when you sweat in your iced coffee.

Regardless, I’m thankful for a wonderful outdoor space.  We have a teeny tiny yard but our covered patio makes up for it.   Also, our driveway is sizable which is great for the kids.  We are actually in the middle of overhauling the backyard but I thought I’d bring you up to date on the covered space.




Buddy is as big a fan of the porch as I am.  Hot weather does not seem to bother him – he loves to be outside.

It is a mish mash of furniture – a combination of our old corner porch and screened porch.  I’d never have chosen the magenta with the blue but it brings an eclectic feel which works for me. It is cheerful and I’m happy in my hideaway.

I need that respite more in the summer than any other time.  So it may be triple digit temps with a million percent humidity but you will find me there with the fans on high.

Or not find me because I’m hiding.



\"Designed \"Development