Category Archives: House

Building San Bernard with Tilson: The After Photos

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In May of 2012, we began work with Tilson to build their San Bernard plan on our property outside of Austin, Texas. It is a 2331 sq ft plan, with 3 br / 2.5 ba and a bonus room. This was an 80% build, which meant they fully finished the exterior, and took the interior up to the texture on the drywall. We were responsible for finishing out the home ourselves, which included: utilities (well, electric, septic & gas), paint (we hired a local contractor, Martin DeLeon who I highly recommend), flooring (another contractor, stained concrete by Artistic Impressions who I also highly recommend), plumbing fixtures, tiling (we hired a friend to do this for us using tile purchased at Lowes), cabinetry, appliances, electrical fixtures, interior doors, trim, closet organizers, and landscaping (contracted to Debbie of Sagebrush Landscaping). It’s now May of 2014 and it’s finally to the point I can take “after photos”.

Replacing the Vintage Sink with IKEA’s Domsjo Sink




Back when I was planning out my kitchen, my heart was set on a vintage cast iron sink. I searched Craigslist for months looking for just the right one. And I thought I found it. It was $50, and had a bit of rust damage, but my FIL recommended a guy he worked with (he’s a professional plumber) who refinishes cast iron. So I paid $225 to get it refinished. It looked stunning, for about two months. Then it started doing this:



The “new finish” was chipping and flaking and mold started growing beneath it. It was turning brown and smelling. The drain often clogged and dishes piled up. My husband loathed it. After months of pestering me, I finally agreed to get a new sink and take this one out. I will be honest, I cried a little. I really liked this sink! My compromise was that we would be keeping the wall-mount faucet. I needed that much, at least.



We started by taking out the old sink. Some of the paint came with it, as you can see. We decided on the IKEA domsjo double bowl sink. The catch was even though the overall dimensions are shorter than the vintage sink, the actual bowl size was significantly larger. It would be more than a simple quick change. I had to take out my veggie bin, move the refrigerator, remove the countertop, and move both cabinets 9 inches to the left. We built a custom base from scrap wood to be hidden behind the curtain. After dry-fitting the sink, I re-attached the cabinets to the wall and we measured for the new countertop cuts. The old sink was a drop in, and the new one was not. So we cut the counters and set them in place.



The connections would be an issue though. As you can tell, the plumbers were quite enthusiastic. To keep my wall mounted faucet (and to limit just how much renovation we would tackle) I made a faux backsplash to cover the holes and paint damage until we decided on either a full-wall backsplash, or a custom order ceramic piece to fit behind the sink.



There was a surprising amount of work involved to fix everything up so it looked nice again. I needed to add face trim to the new base (which was made with barn wood, so not a match at all!), we had to re-route the plumbing and install new drains, we added a disposal (yay!) and needed to extend the lines for the reverse osmosis filter and dishwasher. Then there was the caulking, cleaning up the caulking, sanding down the imprints of the old sink on the counters and re-sealing them, and the backsplash. So more steps than I thought, but it only took a week of working on and off. I’m very happy with the switch, it was definitely worth it!



As far as the veggie cabinet, I decided to hack it up and rebuild it rather than do something new. I had about 6″ of space left. It was built with pocket holes, so I simply removed the screws and used the same sides. I used the table saw to slice the back board in half and the chop saw to halve the shelves. It made for the perfect wine cubby! I have 10 slots for bottles, and a taller top that’s the perfect size for glasses.




I’m very pleased with how the sink looks with a wall-mounted faucet. I won’t lie though, it’s not a perfect solution for this huge sink. But I had to keep the aesthetic I fell in love with, and it works for me. The faucet reaches about 1/4 of the way into each bowl, so I can still fill up big pots and clean the sinks. To fill the original faucet hole, I grabbed a soap pump kit at Lowes specifically for this person. I love this little thing! It’s so handy. I use it for hand soap since I also enjoy my Fiesta dish soap pump my sister gave me to match my dishes.

Knocked Off: Schoolhouse Desk Bases with D Lawless Hardware


Hey guys! Now that I’ve settled more into new parenthood of two (little Caroline arrived late September to join big sister Charlie) I’ve been filling in those rare double nap times with some building. One thing in particular? Updating our desk bases! See, I started out with these vintage end tables:




I really liked the look, and that I found a fun and unusual way to repurpose these vintage tables. The problem? Well, they weren’t as functional as I would like. I couldn’t store things below the two tables on the ends, and there were cords tangled up behind the center table. Plus, the protruding bases actually acted as a nice little ladder for Charlie to climb up and onto the desk. Which meant a terrified mama and some broken containers. As you can also see, it was tough to clean beneath them because of those lower supports. So, as sad as I was, it was time to replace them with something else. And as soon as I saw the Schoolhouse Desk collection from Ana that Jamie of That’s My Letter built, I knew it was the one!



Putting the tables together was a lot of fun and really quick. I had two sheets of 3/4″ birch

Knocked Off: Tall Rustic Secretary

rustic tall secretary

My laundry room may hold the record for most changes in a year. The last time I talked about it, it looked like this:


I had just finished my pedestals and built a quickie shelf to stash my laundry soaps and hide the litterbox. We had our chest freezer shoved into the space left over. Not the worst setup ever, but not really the best either. Then at the September market I found this beauty:

chicken nesting box shelves

An old chicken nesting box. I decided to use it as decorative shelving. Originally I wanted some nice cabinets up here, but it would be pretty useless as I couldn’t reach anything in them without a ladder. And I’d still have to climb over the washer and dryer. So, I had my husband hang them up on the wall using a 2×6 as a cleat. He drilled it into the studs, then drilled the box onto the lumber so I could have it flush to the wall. I would have done it myself but he was a bit leery of me lifting over 50 pounds while full term pregnant. I guess I had to agree!




Once I had the box up there, I didn’t really like the freezer and shelf. In fact, I wanted a nice old Hoosier hutch, but we are pretty tight on our budget at the end of the year. So, what to do? Raid the barn! My dad had a 20 foot 2×12 and a few three foot 2×12 scraps, so I decided to use them to make a rustic reclaimed version of this Ana White Secretary.



While I really love this clean, painted version, I didn’t have the thinner lumber and trim available. But I’m still a big fan of my sturdy and free secretary!

rustic tall secretary

I even had to add a nod to the loose chicken theme we had going on with the nesting box by bringing my metal rooster in from the front porch.



The top isn’t too different from the original design. The thicker lumber mimics the look of the trim on the original.


Those mail slots are already really handy. I’m not very organized with my mail, so it’s nice to have a way to divide up what needs to be paid, what needs to be filed, catalogs, and what needs to be recycled. It also gives me a place to display our photo albums without Charlie getting into them and throwing them around. Which is one of her favorite things.



I made the door out of two old fence pickets (the same ones I used on my fireplace) and planked two of them together. The handle is one I had purchased for our barn door at our old house to use on the interior but couldn’t because of the placement near the wall. Do you see the hinges at the bottom? I didn’t have any euro ones available so I found a couple of small hinges that matched in my dad’s hinge bucket (seriously, he keeps everything!) and attached it to the 3/4″ edge of the wood and the shelf. It lets it flip open fully.


Here is where I hide the cat food, candle wax, and laundry detergent. I plan to add a latch to keep little hands out because she has already discovered the fun bottles.


Instead of making doors for the bottom, I added in an extra shelf and hid it all with a curtain. Why?


To hide that pesky litterbox! Our cat has no problem sneaking by and doing her business. In fact, I think she kind of enjoys the thrill of pushing it aside. She likes to hide in there and jump out at me when I’m doing the laundry. Cats are weird.


Now our freezer sits on the opposite wall, sad and lonely. I’m not sure if I’ll do anything over here in the near future or not. Depending on our homesteading ambitions we may upgrade to a full size freezer instead of the smaller chest freezer. We’ve nearly filled it up already with two deer and stored breastmilk. How’s that for a combination?! Oh, and I also took the door off to make room for the freezer. I think eventually I’ll either add a sliding door or leave it open. Not sure yet. And to child-proof my incredibly heavy secretary (which I built and moved into place all by my lonesome, I’m proud to add) I’m adding a six inch L bracket that will screw into the top of the piece and into a wall stud with 2″ screws. It won’t be going anywhere!

So there you have it. My third update on a room in the house we moved into only 10 months ago. I clearly have a problem with indecisiveness!


San Bernard Landscaping: The Back Yard

tilson san bernard back yard

So we’ve talked about the front yard, let’s check out what’s around back! The crushed granite path winds all around the house.


back yard garden

The back yard is pretty heavy on grass. I wasn’t too keen on it at first, but now I’m really enjoying it. We have three large dogs that appreciate a big space to run, and it’s a great change from the dirt patch it was. One thing I was certain I wanted was a large space to build a raised bed garden. I had three beds on the opposite side of the house for my sprint/summer garden, and I learned quickly that was a bad plan. It was a bit too shaded for veggies, and I ran out of space quickly. So I had Debbie block off a large chunk in the sunniest spot of the yard for a garden. I chose to fill it with the granite so I wouldn’t have to battle grass or weeds growing between beds. I used what we already had available, but the plan is to have 4 tall troughs (for veggies that need a bit of shade for part of the day), 4 short troughs, and 4 long cinder block beds. You can see 1 and a quarter of the cinder block beds now. So far it’s just the right size for my fall/winter plans, but I’m looking forward to saving up for more beds and dirt come spring.



Following the path and looking to the right of the garden we have a nice green spot where our septic tank hides, and some shade trees.


back yard path

Now we’re headed toward the patio!


reclaimed brick patio

The porch and patio were DIY projects. It’s a little wavy because we used sand we had leftover on the property instead of polymetric sand you’re supposed to use, but I still really like it. It’s a great spot for entertaining. Plus, I love that it’s nearly all made from reclaimed materials (the sand and gravel base were already here, and I found the bricks on Craigslist. Story is they’re from a century old torn down schoolhouse, all stamped with CRISP. I’m going to choose to believe that since we had to load and unload and move all 1700 by hand, while I was six months pregnant.) The only new material was the edging.


pier one papasan swing


Just off the patio is a small seating area. We planned to build a swing and arbor, but then my mom offered us this amazing Pier 1 egg chair swing that she was tired of having in her yard. Um, YES PLEASE! This swing is amazing, and has become my favorite spot in the yard. The arms have a built-in pocket for books and a cup holder. Score.


saltbox chicken coop

Even our chicken has a sweet setup now! We built this Saltbox Chicken Coop and Planter in the spring, and now it has an official home in the yard. Our lone surviving chicken is appreciating it immensely. We’ll see how she feels when we bring home a few new friends next spring and her McMansion gets a little more crowded.



Here’s the new full view of the back of our house. There’s a new crepe myrtle to balance our original tree to the right of the patio, and Jacob got a nice new firepit for Father’s Day that we plan on breaking in this weekend. I considered moving all the kid items like the water table, swing and slide for photos but it’s a part of our lives right now so why not include it?


san bernard porch


This back porch is what sold us on the house plan. We love it. Jacob built the railing and stairs himself and we recently had it all stained and sealed. He also wired in some outdoor lights on the top beam to light up the patio at night. I think he needs a few more clamps to straighten out that wobbly pvc though!




So that’s it folks! The end of our grand landscaping tour. I’ll make a fun before and after post to illustrate what an astounding difference professional landscaping made. It really did make it look like a whole new house!

San Bernard Landscaping: The Front Yard

San Bernard Tilson Home

A few weeks ago, I shared that we were tearing up our DIY landscaping and hiring the pros to take over our yard. I called Debbie with Sagebrush Landscaping. She works in the Austin and Hill Country areas, and actually did my parents’ landscaping when they built their home 15 years ago. After two weeks of work (the rain slowed them down or it would have been finished sooner) the last of the sod was laid down the day I went into labor with Caroline. So please excuse the long delay, I’ve been just a bit preoccupied! But today we had some fantastic weather and decent enough light, so I hopped outside to take a few photos of the new front yard.

San Bernard Front Yard

Here’s the view showing the full exterior of the house and our fenced area. We changed up the house plan slightly by taking out the half garage space and moving the doors from facing the interior of the yard so they now face front.



One of the first additions was a walkway from the drive to the front door. It’s so nice! Our garage tends to get full of projects and well, junk, so it’s easy to hop out and walk right to the door. We couldn’t add any plants to this area as we have cows grazing here, but the river rock fills in the space along with a large rock we removed from the foundation area prior to building our home. We have quite a few of these boulders in the yard now.


San Bernard Front Gate


My dad and neighbor built our fence, and the gate is made from some salvaged fencing we found on the property. We just sprayed it with some bronze paint and added a rustic fence post to the top to keep the gate posts straight. Then we hung a couple of old lanterns from the barn for decor.


Tilson San Bernard Landscaping

When we had our consultation with Debbie, I emphasized that we wanted a drought hardy design. I hated the idea of dumping a ton of water into grass. While we still ended up with a lot of grass sod, the front is mainly made up of crushed granite, river rocks, and native plants in mulched beds.



One way to keep from depleting our well water was to have a couple of rain water barrels beneath our gutters. This one barrel serves to water all the plants in the front beds.




To keep the entry pretty, we decided to go with rain chains instead of down spouts. We also hired to have the cedar treated and sealed so it would keep it’s signature reddish tone instead of graying out and cracking over time.



Now the cedar blends in with the front door tones, as well as the copper chains and the rock. Basically we just kept everything in the brown family 😉



To the left of the porch we have a couple of beds, some river rock to prevent wash out, and a crushed granite pathway that leads all the way around to our back patio. I love that they used the leftover rock from our exterior to build the raised beds and a bench. We already spend our mornings out here.


Sagebrush Landscaping on the San Bernard

I had to put my iron stegosaurus in the front bed. He just makes me smile. The built-in bench is the perfect spot to snuggle the baby with a cup of coffee while Charlie throws rocks around.



I was really happy that Debbie was willing to work with some of the plants I already had. These two apple trees in the front survived a brutal summer, and are just now starting to show life again. I’m really looking forward to watching them grow and eating delicious homegrown apples one day!



The biggest transformation has been the play area of the yard. This is where the sod begins. Debbie chose Celebration Sod, which is very drought tolerant and requires little water. Luckily we had quite a bit of rain this October and it’s saved me from having to water the grass so much. It’s already begun to establish and green up. Before, this was just a scraggle of dirt and weeds. Now, it’s a lush expanse of space for our kids to run and play. We had this section fenced off to keep the dogs and chicken away. It’s nice to know we’ll have a spot free of poop, digging, and destruction. And with small kids running around, our dogs can get a bit rough so this will help keep everyone safe.



With a two year old and a newborn, we haven’t gotten started on any large play structures just yet. So far we brought down a small castle from my mom’s house and a wagon that I plan to make into a kid’s garden for Charlie with some succulents. Later I’d like to build a swing set and perhaps a fort or play house.



We also have the tire swing Jacob made for Charlie’s second birthday present. It’s a pretty big hit. Charlie even put the chicken in there. If you look a bit closer you can see the pathway and mulched bed on the side of the house. I like that it helps our cheap little plastic hut that houses our water softener look more intentional and like it belongs. Before it just looked sad and lonely. All the trees keep this area very well shaded, which is so nice in the hot summers. We’ll still be able to come out and play knowing we’ll have some shade and a nice breeze.



And that’s it for the front yard! I know, it’s a lot of photos. But I’m just so over-the-moon about how well it turned out. Debbie did such a fantastic job with the design, and her crew was great. I’m eager to get the back yard cleaned up to take more photos and share them with you!








House Tour Update: The Master Suite

San Bernard Master Bedroom


Toward the end of my pregnancy, I had a mad fit of nesting. I wanted every project in the house “finished” before the baby came home. With a due date of October 7th, I was striving to hit an October 1st deadline as that marked one year from the start of the house. I have a couple of things I’d still like to do in the master suite, but for the most part, I’m at my “phase 1” finishing point. Let’s take a look!

Master Bedroom

What We Did:

Barn Wood Accent Wall for the Fireplace

Rustic Wood and Stone Fireplace


What is it when one area of your home is seeing improvement that makes you feel the urge to spruce up everything else? With our landscaping already looking so fabulous, I was staring at the plain drywall on the upper half of the fireplace dreaming of something better.



See what I mean? Just kind of bland. Plus I hated those outlets with a passion. Why would you stick the phone jack right there? Or perhaps place the plug on the side of the wall instead of front and center? I don’t know. As my mom would say, “A man designed this.” Or just somebody not nearly as nitpicky as she is 😉 When I woke up Friday and saw the rain pouring down, I was bummed out that it meant we wouldn’t have landscaping work done that day. We’d only made it to the dirt spreading phase and were supposed to see gravel, mulch and plants. Instead of pouting, I got to work! I had a wild hair to try the barn wood look.

When to Call in the Pros for Landscaping: The Before



Well guys, we did it. We decided to throw in the towel when it comes to landscaping. I posted these photos a few weeks back when we finished our brick patio, and it’s only gotten progressively worse. Our “yard” consisted of weeds, dirt, and fire ants. The larger I became in this pregnancy, the less energy I had for working out in the heat! Our rock beds were exploding in weeds, the rock path was washing out, and my poor poor bushes were being squished by our dogs cooling themselves in the only shaded area in the front. Lazy bums.



It wasn’t the worst yard ever seen, but it was looking pretty sad. And to be honest, we had no clue what we were doing! We looked into the possibility of adding faux turf, but that was going to be $6-10K for a small patch installed ourselves. So, we called Debbie at Sagebrush Landscaping to get a quote. What’s funny is I had done quite a bit of research to find landscapers who do natural xeriscaping to cut down on water consumption (the Hill Country is near a record drought) and after weighing all my options and looking at portfolio photos I chose Debbie. I found out after our consultation that she was the one who did my parent’s landscaping 15 years ago! That alone vetted her for me, since I love their yard and how grown in it looks now.

And so, we pulled up all the rocks, moved the beds, and got ready for our landscaping transformation!




We had given it the good ol’ college try, and sadly it just wasn’t enough to do justice to our house. And yes, we are also gussying up that gate and fence contraption.



Debbie came out yesterday to give me a basic idea of her plan (we had verbally discussed it prior) and painted out some lines where the new beds and path will be. There won’t be any grass in the front, just some planted beds, gravel, a mortared walkway to the door and a path that winds around to the back patio.




This nice shady grove of trees will be a play area for Charlie and her soon-to-be little sister.



I am SO ready for this part! Right now it’s very uncomfortable to go outside and play surrounded by sticker burrs and dirt. I’m so ready for some mulch and gravel and GRASS! The drought-resistant kind, of course. And the best part here is that we’re installing a fence and gate to keep the dogs out. They tend to destroy things. Like my bushes.




Rounding the bend from the front of the house is our side yard, which will be mostly grass with a very large gravel patch to house my raised beds. Hooray! My summer garden was relatively successful (I was drowning in zucchini and butternut squash) so I’m excited to make even more progress at growing our own food.




This scraggly section will be filled in partially with grass and mostly with beds around the trees and a nice seating area in the gap between those two trees there.




We’re also ditching these cinder block beds (I’ve transplanted my summer yellow squash and hope it makes it!) and getting another tree and some prettier beds around the patio.




Lastly, this area will also have some beds around the trees and filled in with grass.


So that’s it! The crew showed up yesterday to scrape the topsoil off the yard and dropped off dirt this morning. They’re making surprisingly quick headway and I’m told they should be finished Friday or Monday at the latest!! We are SO excited to get to finally use our outdoor space to its full potential. Plus it will be exciting to see our brick patio look more aged and built-in and less um, shoddy. GOODBYE WEEDS! I can’t wait to share the afters with you!


Caroline’s Closet Organization for $50



One of the very last projects we needed to complete before baby Caroline comes (I’m full term today! Yay!) was to build her closet organizers. I had been putting it off for far too long, and with a $50 Home Depot gift card burning a hole in my pocket I knew it was time to get planning. At first I had wanted to do the exact same setup as Charlie’s closet:



Two rods with a long shelf above and slim shelves on the sides. We’d have to do it in stages as the lumber for Charlie’s closet cost more than $50. Then I started browsing Pinterest and saw this closet from Around the Farmhouse Table



Perfect! So I cleared out the closet, and this is what we had to work with:



The small issue was the angle in the corner. Great for interest, but that meant our shelves couldn’t be wider than a 1×10 board.



After unloading the closet, I broke out the tape and started configuring and taking measurements. Oh, and my helper decided to sort through some baby supplies.



Here’s what we decided on for supplies:

San Bernard Pantry: Cedar and Vintage



A comment recently reminded me that I’ve never shared the pantry portion of our kitchen! When I posted about our Hand Built Vintage Country Kitchen, I left out the pantry as we hadn’t started on it yet. For an idea of the floorplan (we reversed ours, but the layout is the same) we have a large walk-in pantry situated between our range and the dining table. Let’s get started with the fantastic door, shall we?


I found this old screen door at the Wimberley Market Days and fell in love. It was a bit shorter and wider than the pantry opening, so I made some alterations to make it fit. To fill in the space at the top I created a Faux Transom Window with cedar, plexiglass and painted hot glue. I was loath to cut down the door in any way, so instead of hanging it inside the opening with a traditional jamb, we simply used three gate hinges to install it.



For the closure, I used a catch most often seen in bathroom stalls. I installed it upright to fit on the edge of the door. It’s not necessary, it just allows me to “lock” the door so my toddler can’t sneak in and throw stuff around.



I had a problem with the hinge tension, the door would stay open instead of flush to the trim. Oddly my dad had this screen door closing hardware in his shop, so I gratefully appropriated it and had Jacob climb the ladder to install it. I like that it makes that traditional screen door creak when it opens, and luckily it doesn’t crash closed.



Now let’s take a look inside! To the left of the entry I had some wall space and decided to whip up a spice rack and foil-holder a la Shanty 2 Chic.

Back Porch Progress

One of my projects this summer has been to take our back porch from a collection of hodge podge items and turn it into an inviting, usable space. It all began with the modern porch railing, rolling gate, and taking a reclaimed live-edge slab to use as a bar area.



We took the rustic tractor stools from the kitchen island to use out here as they’re weatherproof, and replaced the smooth short trunks with some taller mesquite trunks to raise them to bar height. The two on the end are stationary, while the two in the corner spin 360 degrees. They’re fun, and perfect for out here.



That odd little stand next to the door? That’s an outdoor light and fan. Our ceilings are much too high for a ceiling fan to be of much use, so this stand does a great job keeping the bugs away and adding a breeze on humid nights. We used to have a mini fridge here, but a friend of mine asked to borrow it for a while and since we weren’t using it I gladly gave it a new temporary home until we should need it. The fan is a great boon here in Central Texas.



Across the way we set up a seating area. The benches are from Garden Ridge, and the trellis rug is an outdoor rug from Lowes. We built the reclaimed coffee table from old dimensional lumber. Oh, and the “end table”? I made it by saving the old stumps from the tractor stools and using construction adhesive to secure flat limestone rocks on the top that I found in the yard!



I added a fragrant citronella to help discourage any mosquitoes. It may just be the drought here, but we’ve hardly had any this season. Or perhaps I’m just used to the clogged air of bugs from our old Lake Jackson stomping grounds and don’t know what to do with only the errant skeeter!



I couldn’t find any cushions to fit the longer bench, so I decided to just make my own from 2″x22″x22″ foam squares from Hobby Lobby inside a red duck cloth casing. For the pillows, I bought used coffee sacks from an antique store in Gruene. My mom had some old bed pillows lying around, and they were the perfect size. I chose to use the duck cloth on the back as the burlap can be a bit scratchy. That way I can have my reclaimed “pretty” side and a functional comfortable side. The Texas pillow is an outdoor pillow from Catstudio. They have tons of state and city designs. I looooove Catstudio products! I started a collection of their drinking glasses of places I’ve visited or lived. So this Texas pillow is a welcome addition to the back porch.



To the right of the couch we have a weatherproof trash can, and another stump that was a bit short to use in my “table”. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but it’s safe for the moment from becoming tinder. The lighted pistols were a gift, and fit in well with the rustic Western theme.

It’s so nice to have this outdoor space to hang out. I can shut the gate to corral Charlie while she plays with blocks in the mornings, and it will be fantastic to spend more time out here as the weather decides to drop out of the 100’s in the coming weeks. We still plan to add a wagon wheel chandelier that’s been in the works for oh, nearly a year now. I also broke down and called a painter to get a quote on sealing all our cedar. I’m technically not allowed to do that while pregnant, and the thought of getting up on a 20′ ladder to get those beams terrifies me anyway. I kind of have a fear of any height above three feet. Step ladders give me the heebie jeebies. Once we have our “final” porch finished I’ll be sure to update the space on our house tour post!



Laundry Shelf Unit from Stud 2×4’s



The last laundry project I posted left an awkward gap between the washer/dryer and the freezer with a hideous litterbox in full view.



We have a long-term goal for the laundry room, but for now I needed something there to hide that litterbox and give me a bit of storage for soaps and scentsy waxes.




In an effort to save money and use what I had on hand, this entire small shelf unit is built out of old 2×4 studs. I put together a quick tutorial in case you’re looking for something similar, and it would actually be a very pretty unit with nicer (and straighter) boards as well as some stain.

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Caroline’s Farm Fresh Nursery



With just over three months until Caroline’s due date, her nursery is set up and ready to go! It didn’t take me long at all once I put together an inspiration board:

Farm Fresh Nursery Inspiration Board


I think I came pretty darn close to my inspiration!



I used a crackled medium to paint the dresser and distressed it, then gave it some really cute butterfly drawer pulls. The animals are hiding the tether I put into the stud to keep the hutch from toppling over during changes.



I got the pink gingham oilcloth changing pad cover at Wimberley Market Days where I’m a vendor. I like that it’s easy to wipe down and won’t stain.



And of course I’m stocked with Charlie Banana cloth diapers, since I’m all earth-friendly now!

farm-fresh-nursery-diapersMy mom gifted her with this sweet cross .



I picked up a wicker chair at Lowes, and spray painted it white. Then I made it a cushion for some added comfort with flannel pink ticking.



The gallery wall is full of farm-themed prints and photos. The homestead with the wind energy may just be my favorite, since that’s my dream goal 😉



And of course no nursery is complete without a bucket ottoman! I made this one using the same method as Charlie’s, but found a sweet little orchard basket for the base and used the same ticking as the chair. I’m planning to use it for toys and blankets.



Next to the chair I topped an old milk jug I scored at an estate sale a couple of years ago with a 15″ wood round from Lowes that I painted grey. I secured the top with hot glue to keep it from tipping, and it’s the perfect spot for the sound machine and bottles during those late night feedings.



I’m using the same crib Charlie used, which I found at a thrift store. The sheet and skirt are from the Pottery Barn outlet.



I always smile when I see the sunflower monogram. It’s just so happy!

farm-fresh-nursery-monogramAnd of course the ladder display. I can’t wait to add photos of the little miss once she gets here.

farm-fresh-nursery-ladder-displayThis little horse rocker gives Charlie a good time


It will be replaced with the Mamaroo once Caroline is here. Charlie barely slept outside of her swing for the first six or so months, it was a life saver.



I’ll have to get a surge protector this time, as our last swing was sadly fried when our home was hit by lightning. Let that be a reminder, folks! Plug important things in to surge protectors, or you’ll be like us and lose a lot of electronics in a storm surge.



Charlie and I both adore this PB Kids play kitchen my mom bought for her. It may seem strange to have it in a nursery, but it will keep her entertained during endless feedings and changes!



For the lone window, I bought two yards of burlap and sewed it directly over a blackout shade for a little more fun. The tieback is a simple grosgrain ribbon I put two buttonholes in, and a $1 hook from Lowes.



I found the old window at an antiques shop in Gruene, and plan to fill it with cute newborn photos.

farm-fresh-nursery-window-displayIt came with the hooks already in the frame, so I just popped in two anchors and screws to hold it firmly in place. Don’t want it falling on little heads!



I’m still totally enamored with these tin doors. The texture is so fun! And Charlie enjoys sticking magnets on them.



And then to complete our “around the world” room tour, the tower of books!

cedar gallery book ledges


This room quickly became one of my favorites in the house. I love it. Despite having only one window, it’s bright and cheery and a lot of fun. I was unsure of the bright, sherbet green when the room was empty, but now that I have everything in it, I can’t imagine it being any other color. And with all the country details, there’s a clear farm theme without being overly kitschy.


Paint: Sherwin Williams Green Vibes

Old Table, New Leaf : Updating My Dining Area

A few weeks ago, you may remember me posting some updated kitchen/dining/living room photos along with asking some advice on my current dining set. I’d purchased the set at a consignment shop and painted it and reupholstered the seats. I loved it, without a doubt. But I wasn’t too sure I was in love with it in this space.

With some great input from you guys (seriously, thank you!) I decided to go ahead and sell it in favor of a solid wood table. When I offered to build my sister a new dining table, I had ulterior motives in mind. I wanted hers. It was a hand-me-down from my parents that we actually used growing up, so there was sentimental value. Plus, I loved that it was a solid wood, honey-toned oak pedestal table. The problem? It looked like this.

A 4 seater. Considering we’re currently a family of 3, working on our 4th, and regularly have my family over to eat, I wanted a 6-seater table. Yet there was hide nor hair of that leaf anywhere! It must have gotten lost in one of its several moves. No worries though, but I”ll get to that later. Lets focus on the damage, shall we?

Cup rings, dry splotches, and gunk. I saw one of those Pinterest tips about restoring wood with vinegar and olive oil, and figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot. Can I just say, WOW! What a massive difference it made. I used 1/4 C olive oil and 3/4 C white vinegar, and applied it with a rag. I let the first application dry, then repeated it two more times for a total of three passes. It really hydrated the wood with absolutely no chemicals, horrible smells, or messy work. Just a rag and some pantry items in 5 minutes passes.

Wow, right? And as a spoiler, this is an image of the table with the new leaf. The original section is on the far right. Barely a ring or dry spot to be seen. Now, lets get to the good stuff, the leaf!

I pulled out the table and measured the maximum amount of space I could spread the top before it started getting unstable. I decided on 24″. Then I measured the table diameter, which was 47″.

House Tour Update: Guest/Play/Office Room

So this room is kind of old news, what with blogging about the Un-Built In Desk already. I thought I’d go ahead and take a few more photos of the entire room, now that there aren’t any more active items on the to-do list. The desk area is finished, the tv is hooked up to a dvd player and our Wii so Elmo movies and Netflix are in constant rotation. It’s really nice since I can hang out in the same space while Charlie plays or watches some Elmo and I can catch up on blogging for a little bit.

A New Brick Patio and a Back Yard Tour

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have noticed that the past week has been spent on this brick patio. I’m so happy to say that it’s finally gone from this:

To this!

I found the bricks on Craigslist, the story is they’re about a century old and from an old schoolhouse. For $1.25 per brick, I snagged 1700 for the patio and we used nearly every one. For a quick rundown on materials and method:

My dad had leftover crushed red granite that we used for the base, as well as this sand base. Jacob borrowed a Bobcat skid loader and leveled out the gravel, then dumped the sand. We raked it out and used 10 foot PVC pipes and a 2×4, making sure things were as level as possible. It’s not exactly perfect, but after tamping it a few times the waves are subtle and the patio looks great. We purchased some plastic edging and 10″ metal stakes to keep all the bricks in place. Technically we should have done this before laying bricks, but we were unsure of the layout so we saved it for last. Then we filled in the edges with more sand, did our best to evenly grade out the surrounding ground, and called it a day. Here’s what we’re greeted with when we walk out onto the back porch:

SO much nicer than a mud pit! We are loving it. We decided on a basketweave pattern because it was simple to lay while still adding some interest. After laying the main rectangle area, we had a brief debate on whether to make a smaller rectangle attached (the “mushroom”) or detached (the “T”). Ultimately we decided on detaching it a bit and making a small pathway leading to the fire pit area.

On each side of the patio we made raised planter boxes with some cinder blocks. I still need to add more dirt, and plant flowers in the block holes. But, first I need a break!

I did manage to plant my roma and jalapeno seedlings. Not sure what will be on the shady side, but I’ll worry about that later.

We’ll also need a load of dirt, and some grass seed this fall. Right now it kind of looks like a sand box exploded. So…moving on.

We’re leaving a big chunk open for Charlie to run circles. Seriously. It’s her new favorite thing to do right now. As well as “jump like a frog”.

The dining area gets a lot of good shade. Though I’m not thrilled with the table, it looks too similar to the bricks. I’m hoping to sell it so I can build something new. We also took the time to finish up the deck steps, and they sure do look nice! The railings need a few more slats to make them kid-friendly, but for now we’re calling it done.

The deck needs just a bit more love until it’s “finished”. I’m envisioning a u-shaped sectional on the left there, and moving the tractor-seat barstools to the right. Plus securing the lattice and letting the grapes and blackberry vines grow up will really make it look nice.

So while it doesn’t necessarily look like a million bucks, it does at least look like a few hundred thousand 😉 We did it entirely ourselves (and a lot was on my own during nap time), didn’t spend a fortune (we splurged a bit on the salvaged brick, but saved a lot on gravel and sand for about $2500), and are thrilled with our new outdoor living space.

Now for a quick tour of the rest of our mess. We fenced in roughly a quarter acre to make a yard. So far we’ve mostly just done this patio space and a bit in the front yard, but we have big plans for the future. Here’s the rundown:

To the larger side of the patio, we have our chicken coop and the main back yard section. I’m planning on moving my raised beds to the sun-shine area behind the clump of trees. I already planted a satsuma there that seems to be taking alright.

If you turn just a bit toward the house, you’ll see the rest of the back yard. Right now you can see what we’ve been using as a drive way to unload materials and move dirt with the Bobcat. Hopefully once we add in a bit more dirt and toss out some seed this should fill in to look more like a yard and less like a road. We’re toying with the idea of running a short fence from that corner of the house back to the fence where the coop is, mostly to keep the dogs corralled. Not sure if we’ll do that or not.

Back to the other side of the patio, we have a small clearing where Jacob wants to build a small “man hut”. Basically a large 10×14 shed to act as a retreat and to store all his hunting stuff. I’d love to do something with salvaged materials, and see if we can make it self-sustaining. I have a feeling he’ll dig his heels in if I mention a green roof…

Once we get this area mowed and filled in a bit (and level those rocks), I think it will be a nice lawn area for kids and pups. Maybe set up some washer boards, cornhole, and horseshoes? Behind the rain barrel I used a fence remnant to keep the dogs out of my raised beds. This was a bad idea. The location is pretty tight, and without dogs, the plants are without protection. I was raided by a deer last week and it decimated my okra and pole beans as well as knocked over one of the sides of the beds. So I’ll be moving them next season to the more open section of yard, where I’ll put the dogs on deer detail.

That melon patch has really taken off! But my poor bed. Luckily nothing in this one was harmed, and my bell peppers and carrots seem to be okay. Though my tomato plants have yet to flower, anyone else having this problem? It’s my very first garden, so I’m on a severe learning curve. Perhaps I let the tomato plants get too leafy and large and now they don’t want to produce?

Heading back around the house, you see the “driveway” bald patch, and our really nice grove of trees. This is where I want to build a play house and swing set for Charlie and Caroline. It’s shaded all day and just looks magical in the afternoons.

From there you move on to the front yard.

We still need grass, and I should do some weeding in the rock beds. I planted two apple trees along the fence line to add some shade and fruit in the future. The trough planters have really taken off too!

Here we have zucchini. I had quite a few more plants but a digger ransacked them and I lost about 5 of them 🙁 So far I’ve been able to self-pollinate and harvest one though, and it was delicious! Best zucchini I’ve ever eaten. I’m holding out hope that I’ll get more later this summer.

This trough is a mix of winter squash and cowpeas. I just started seeing pods on the peas, and have pollinated and gotten excited about some budding squash. Judging by all the baby female flowers I’m seeing, I should have quite the stockpile! I have lettuces growing in the wagon, though I’ll probably save those for the chickens. I didn’t think through the whole “rusty wagon” thing when I planted them, and I’m not sure I want to ingest any bad chemicals from it. The small obscured pots are housing herbs.

Last but not least is my leaning tower of rain water. We used the last of the house fund to get gutters, and I had them lead them into two large rain barrels. And it’s been awesome! So far they’ve never run out, and even though we’ve had a pretty rainy spring, we don’t get a whole bunch of rainfall here in central Texas. A lot of this is morning dew. It’s definitely saved me a lot of water. I use about 10 gallons a day watering the plants, and it’s a relief to know I’m not raiding the water table to do it. Of course I need to do some freshening up, and plant something other than strawberries in that cauldron. They really haven’t been doing so hot.

So, that’s all of my rambling for today! We still have a ton of work to do to make the yard look nice. But we’re getting there. Every week we have a little more progress. One day I may even call it finished. That may be in five to ten years though!




Farm Style Corrugated Tin Closet Doors with PureBond

Do you remember Charlie’s Chalkboard French Style Closet Doors? Well I used the same method for the nursery closet, but decided to give it a barn-style twist! Since my theme is “Farm Fresh” I wanted a trough-like or barn feel for the doors. I found these sheets of corrugated tin at Home Depot and they are perfect! I think it’s a really fun way to liven up the space. And at only $9.20 per sheet, I spent less than $140 on materials for both doors.

Like the chalkboard doors, I used a hasp closure and installed it high enough for little hands to keep out. And should we ever get tired of the shiny metal look, the tin is simply screwed in and held in place by the trim, so I can easily take off the trim, remove the tin, and do something else over the plywood. Want to see how easy these are to make? Here it is!

I started by pre-measuring my opening and getting the Home Depot associates to cut my plywood down to size. I laid the tin sheets down on the plywood and cut them to length with some tin snips my dad had. I planned on installing trim over the tin to keep in in place, but you can cut it down so the trim doesn’t fit over the tin, but around it, and glue the tin down so your trim boards are all flush. Mine bow out slightly due to the corrugated parts of the metal.

I started by cutting my side trim to fit, using 1×4 cedar boards to match my floor trim. I used 1 1/4″ screws to attach it to the ply.

Once those were down, I measured the top and bottom trim, then had Jacob stand on it while I screwed them into place to push down the tin so both ends are flush with the side trim. It bows slightly in the center, but I don’t mind the rounded look. If it bothers you, just cut the tin shorter so it fits above the trim instead of beneath it and either screw or glue the tin to the plywood to keep it in place.

That’s it! Seriously, 3 easy steps to some fun and unique doors. You could even use mirror or flat flashing instead of corrugated tin for a flat, reflective surface much cheaper than those mirrored sliding doors. When you DIY, you truly can customize everything to suit your taste. And since PureBond is formaldehyde free, I don’t have to worry about off-gassing in the baby’s room.

I hung them using three gate hinges on each side, it’s very simple and straightforward, and took about 10 minutes. Once I pick up a little more steam, I’d like to do these interior closet door organizers from Ana White in both rooms. This closet doesn’t have any organization just yet, right now it’s kind of a dumping ground with the old changing table acting as storage.

Here’s my little lady inspecting my work. Oh, did I mention that the bonus here is that the doors are magnetic? Charlie decided to add a few of her letter magnets for kicks.

In other quick nursery updates, I painted the dresser/hutch combo we’re using as a changing table with a weathered yellow finish. My mom also scored the Pottery Barn Play Kitchen on a huge discount at our local PB Outlet, so those have found a home in here as well.

I’m still trying to pull everything together, but right now I’m completely exhausted. So please excuse the mess. Charlie still enjoys waking up at 3am to yell at us for a bit, just so we all know that since she’s awake, we need to be too. I think today will feature some Family Nap Time!

I’m expecting the rug to arrive next week, and have been working on all the art. I’m not sure what I’ll do over the crib yet, but I’m thinking it will involve sunflowers. It’s getting there! I have roughly 4 more months to pull it all together. Here’s hoping we all get some more rest and I have the energy to get back to work!

Farm Fresh Nursery Inspiration

Farm Fresh Nursery Inspiration Board

After a handful of rather sad-looking inspiration boards, I decided to sit down for a couple of hours and kick things into high gear with this nursery mood board. For our little Caroline (due in early October) I wanted to have fun with the farmer focus we have going on at our place. I had a lot of fun choosing the art (I’ve purchased everything but the mason jar photo), coming up with burlap coffee-bag style “logos” (Sweet Caroline Fields and Charlie Horse Farms), chose some fabrics, bought a rug, will be painting the dresser/hutch combo (not the one pictured) tomorrow, and hopefully will find a cozy butterfly chair for nursing and snuggles. My mom found a screaming deal at the PB Outlet for that play kitchen set, so that will be housed in the food and farm themed room. It should hopefully give Charlie something to do during the endless feeding and changing that will happen during the first few months.

I’m glad that I gave myself five months to nail down a theme, because I am in love with it! It makes me want to hone and polish Charlie’s big girl room so it will be as cute and happy and pulled-together as this one. I can’t wait to show you all the finished product!


1) Honey Farm Art
2) Farm Fresh Art
3) Mason Jar Print
4) Bacon Print
5) Egg Print
6) Farmer Print
7) Home Print
8) Milk Print
9) Butterfly Chair
10) Play Kitchen
11) Crib
12) Dresser
13) Rug
14) Burlap Art (personal)
15) Seersucker fabric
16) Floral Fabric

San Bernard Kitchen and Living Room House Tour Updates

It’s been almost six months since we moved into our San Bernard home, and we’re finally getting to the point where I can call a few rooms done. I have a few tweaks here and there, like accessories and decor to finish, but the main construction is through and I can sit back and relax a little! The kitchen has truly been a labor of love. From building the cabinets, finding the perfect pantry door (and installing shelving), sourcing truly vintage appliances and tweaking my open shelving display I have definitely had my fair share of work in here. It’s all worth it though. I love this room.

My favorite part is still the island. The stainless steel top is spectacular. I roll out dough, chop veggies, process meat, do art projects with Charlie, pretty much everything here! And it’s super easy to wipe down. I love that the microwave is off the counter, I found a square galvanized bin at the flea market to toss my recycling in, and have three great little nooks for my cutting boards, napkins bibs and rags, and recipe books.

Things are also looking more cohesive with that chippy, vintage screen door.

Of course I still have a few tweaks in store, but nothing really major. I’d love to find/build a new dining table in a medium wood tone and ditch the painted one, as much as I enjoy it. We just need something that wipes down a bit more easily with a toddler and a baby on the way.

And while I adore these tractor seat stools, they’re just a touch too big and heavy to be very useful in here. I’m looking for some nice metal leg numbers, maybe with leather tops. Or I’ll get lucky and find some vintage soda shop stools!

I’ll have a great spot for them by the grill once we actually finish (or better yet, start!) our brick patio. In other not as exciting news, we did finish putting up all the cedar trim, and hung our master bedroom door that separates it from the living room.

Crazy stuff right?! But it does look a lot cleaner, and it helps set my mind at ease to know things are really finishing up. It looks more like a house than a construction zone. I also landed on a good floor cleaning system for my concrete floors. I’d struggled for so long with a hazy white film after mopping the floors and it bugged me to no end. If you also have concrete and notice the haze, I mop once with diluted fabuloso, then after it dries mop it again with Seventh Generation floor polish. I know, I know, who wants to mop twice?! But it doesn’t take forever, it’s kind of a good workout, and I no longer have to stare at shabby looking floors. Now they actually look clean!

We’re still debating on a coffee table. I think we’ll probably hold off until there aren’t any toddlers running around throwing toys everywhere. Charlie’s favorite activity is to tackle dad on the rug, so we use the open space.

Anyway, that’s my rambling of the day! Three finished rooms I’d already blogged about 😉 But hey, they’re updated! I’m going to go through and update the photos from my house tour to keep things fresh. Otherwise, happy Wednesday to you all!