Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A tour of our (new!) Christmas home

Hello and welcome to a tour of our holiday home! Be sure to check out a full list to the other ladies on the tour at the end of the post! This year it's a special one because it's our first in our new house. I'm honestly a little surprised that I got as much decorating done as I did considering I just emptied the last box (the ones not still in the storage room) a few weeks ago. 

It has been a blast dressing up this house, I've thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy checking out the photos! I took a ton, as always. If you have questions about an item let me know but I will link to each space/some items at the bottom of the post. I also list some sources to the family room since this is the first you'll see it! 

Oh and I took some of these in the evening and some during the day, so they go back and forth. You'll notice our Elf has moved in some of them. ;) I shared our front porch dressed up for Christmas here, but those pictures didn't have a cute dog in them: 
Dark door with sidelights and windows

I have to laugh when us bloggers say we're keeping decor simple -- because sometimes it doesn't look simple at all to me. 😂 But this year I really did tone it down, just for the sake of my sanity. I'm still getting used to the house too, so I took it easy this year. So, it's simpler than what I've done in the past, but may not be simple in your terms. :)

light gray open vanity bathroom

fresh soap sign in black

Tissue boxes count as decor in this house. ;) 

white kitchen with white wavy subway tile

two tiered wood and metal tray

black white and brass hanging pendants

IKEA black hanging rod over stovetop

I had big plans for the mud room/laundry, but we're still in this settling phase where we are constantly dumping stuff in there. I'm hoping to get it better organized now that wrapping is almost done and I'm done with holiday decor. I still love our big chalkboard and use it a lot!:
DIY chalkboard on wall

white table wood chairs

World market Everett table decor

I splurged on those Luminara votive candles (hanging from the chandelier) at an online summer Christmas sale. They are the ones that look like real candlelight and are usually so expensive! They are SO cool. Love them. 
Christmas dining area with candles

12 foot Christmas tree

open staircase with white spindles 

wood and white stairs with white balusters

Our great room is our absolute favorite place to be right now. It's the lights, candles, the fire and the cozy sofas...all of it makes it such a welcoming spot. We are obsessed with it!

white fireplace with light gray tile

Little houses were from the Target dollar spot! Actually a lot of our holiday decor is from there. ;) 
little white Christmas houses

Red and white Christmas mantel
I dreamt of this light for years -- we had no place for it in the old house. It was the first one I knew I wanted. It's the reason most of our rooms have no lights yet or $20 ones. ;) Totally worth it!!
12 light round metal chandelier

Back when we were building I shared my ideas for the set up for this room. Symmetry won out -- duh. ;) Did you ever have any doubt? (I really did consider other options,'s ME.) I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE it:
tall fireplace with symmetrical sofa layout


tall fireplace with two sofas facing each other

These are the rooms that were decorated in the house -- we have a tree in the basement and our son has a few things up in his room, but that's it. And it's plenty. Greenery, lights, candles and a few soft items like pillows and blankets go a very long way to making your home feel festive and cozy!

Here's a list of items/posts in case you're wondering! Some affiliate links included for your convenience:
Front porch tour and sources
Powder room tour and sources
     Round Christmas board, Target dollar spot
     Island stools, Target
     Our granite
     How to stain and treat butcher block
     Hanging rack over stovetop, IKEA
     Island pendant lights, Wayfair (we did not get them here but these are the same!)
     Two tier wood and metal stand, World Market
DIY chalkboard in mud room 
Dining area tour and sources
Staircase tour and sources 
     How to make an easy DIY bow
Family room:
     Dark blue chairs and small round end table, World Market
     Sofas, local store called Urban Underpriced
     Ceramic houses and Merry Christmas banner, Target dollar spot
     Red and white stockings, Target
     Round mirrors and plaid blanket, HomeGoods
     Plaid DIY pillows
     Round glass coffee table, Amazon
     Black "x" consoles
     Similar light fixture (not sure it's the same one, but close!), Wayfair

I think that covers it, please let me know if I forgot about anything! :) I hope you enjoyed a look at our Christmas home and the tour of the new family room!

Be sure to check out the rest of the ladies on the tour today -- I love ALL of their beautiful homes!

Thrifty Decor Chick 2017 Christmas tour

Centsational Style

I am lucky to call all of these women friends of mine and they are incredibly talented! You can see all of the lovely ladies on this week's tour below: 

I'll be back later this week -- our school break is starting soon and we go into total hibernation mode for two weeks straight. So things will be spotty over the next couple of weeks but I'll be checking in. I'm already starting to get the itch to dig into some DIY projects in the new year so I promise things will amp up again soon! Can you believe Christmas is only in FIVE days away?? Time has absolutely flown by this year.


Monday, December 18, 2017

My bright and pretty office

Hello there! I was supposed to share our Christmas tour today but moved it to Wednesday because I ran out of daylight to take pics the other day. You'd think after nearly ten years of this gig I'd remember that little issue, but no. ;) (If you want to see the tours kicking off today, go check out the homes of my beautiful friends Chris and Beth.)

So instead I'm sharing a tour of my new office today, and this room doesn't have a lick of Christmas decor in it! I wanted to add a little something festive in here, but I'm calling it pretty much done at this point. Next year for sure! I've shared a bunch of rooms in the house so far -- if you missed any you can see the porch here, the staircase, dining area, foyer, mud room/laundry and powder room here!

This space its so different from the loft I used as an office in our old house, it will be fun to see how it comes together. You may remember that I have big plans for this room. The built ins will happen at some point next year. I hope! But until then, it's such a bright, pretty space that I'm really enjoying:
Long desk in middle of office

I'll share links to some of the items and projects from this space at the end of the post, so if you're interested in something specific you may find it there. 

I get asked about those grids a lot! They are old window grids I found at Goodwill years back. Love them! I have plans for them when I do built something here, but for now they fill in that big wall nicely:
Office with desk in the middle of room

Still not sure what light I want to use in this room. I picked out quite a few of these inexpensive "boob" lights for the house until I could figure out exactly what I wanted. I hope to find something awesome in the new year.

The (affiliate link) campaign desk is from World Market and so far I really like it. It's nice an sturdy, I love that I can prop my feet up on the bar across the front and it's got plenty of work space!: 
Long light wood desk

My only issue with it is the drawer on the front -- it's a pain in the butt to open and close. It has pull out surfaces on either side that I haven't needed, but I can see that they might be helpful when I'm sewing or working on a craft here!

The desk chair is just an extra chair from the basement, I still haven't found the perfect one. I want something that's comfy because I like to pull my feet up or sit cross-legged when I'm working. Oh and you can see how I hide my lamp cords here. It was a little more challenging with this one that I had placed in the middle of the floor, but I did OK. ;)

The drapes used to hang in our family room and they look great in here! Don't look too close -- they are so wrinkled and it will probably be awhile before I get to that item on my list:
Chair in corner of office

This room was a disaster for a long time after we moved in so it's nice to have it cleaned out and somewhat organized. I'm glad you can't see in the drawers, ha!

This dresser used to sit in our family room and I still adore it. It fits in so nicely in here! One of the most fun parts of moving into a new house (for me) has been finding spots for things from our old home:
Painted desk in black with gold hardware

This little TV was in the loft before, but it didn't seem so small there! One thing we've noticed in this house is how small our TVs look here. It has to be the taller ceilings? Or maybe because I'm not quite done with hanging items, so the walls look more bare? I don't know but it's so teeny, it makes me laugh:
Campaign desk from World Market

I'll eventually hang art around it I'm sure. I have so many fun ideas for this space! 

I couldn't find a spot for this bench (that I love) and then I realized the dog didn't have a spot to sit and look outside. So being the good dog mom I am, I put it here and he sits here ALL DAY monitoring the neighborhood. 😊
Black dresser with brass hardware

I've told you before that I have to live in spaces for quite awhile before I "see" the end result in my head. It's starting to get there for this room, and just last night the plan for our master bathroom totally came together in my brain. It's getting me excited to get started on projects in the new year!

Upholstered chair with nailheads

I've always used a tray to corral items on my desk. These are items I reach for most often and I like having them out:
World Market campaign desk

The donut is actually one of those squishy things -- I've had it for years and love to squeeze it while I work. ;) Those glasses are those blue light filtering ones I got on Amazon. I'm not sure if they do any good but I figure it's probably worthwhile to wear them while working.

I've got a few more things out/hung (the clock needs a battery) and it's coming together!: 
I'm going to make everything beautiful quote

I'm so lucky to have such a pretty space to work! I'm excited to see how this room changes over the years. 
Tray on desk for small items

Do you have a space just for you in your house? I love working in here in the evenings with the lamps on and the candle lit. I just adore this house. ❤

I'll link to projects and items below -- let me know if I forget anything!

Bamboo roman shades (These are what we used in the old house too. Just got them all up in the whole house and they are 25 percent off right now!)
Long campaign desk
My favorite printer! (So small and still does it all)
Window grids, magazine rack, tray and white lamp: Goodwill
Upholstered chair and bench: HomeGoods
Black directors chair from my Design Dash experience!
Free printable bird/nature prints on wall
Painting black dresser 
How to make store bought drapes look custom

Affiliate links included for your convenience!

Friday, December 15, 2017

How to create a pretty, simple holiday display (for cheap!)

Hey hey! Happy weekend! Any plans? We've got a busy, fun weekend ahead. 

This year I've reeeally cut down on the Christmas decor I put out, just because I didn't want to overwhelm the house (and me) with too much so soon after moving in. But it's surprising how so little can make the house feel so festive! 

One of my go-to's is the simplest decor and you can add to it as you wish to dress it up. I've had these glass candle holders for years and use them every Christmas. (Check the end of the post to see how I've dressed them up over the years.) This time my plan was to leave them bare and create a candlescape on either side of our fireplace:
Simple Christmas centerpiece decor

I used ten of the holders (five on each cabinet) and just placed them randomly (shortest in the front) on top. 

Then I grabbed some greenery -- years back I found the BEST faux greenery at Big Lots (they don't sell it anymore 😢) and got a bunch of it. I used wire cutters to trim it up so I could place the little bunches in random spots. I use this stuff EVERY year. It looks so real!: 
How to create simple holiday decor

I just placed the greenery around and in between the glass. Simple votive holders are inside, but I later removed those because they created a shadow when lit. Just put your votives inside or use fake LED candles (on a timer or remote is even better!). 

Then I just added some small red bulbs scattered throughout (I'll show you that in a bit). I liked it with the bare candle holders but they were kind of disappearing even when lit. So I grabbed this wrapping paper I found at HomeGoods last year: 
Birch wrapping paper

I got it specifically because it looks like birch and I knew I could use it for something like this!

Just cut the pieces to size and wrap around the OUTside. I taped them along the backs. And there you go!:
Wrapping Goodwill glass with wrapping paper

Isn't that pretty? SO pretty at night. And super simple and even with wrapping the paper around the holders, it hardly took any time. I wrapped them while on the phone to change a flight, so it worked out well. ;) (If you use real candles make sure your paper doesn't hang over the edge, especially on the short ones!)

I didn't want much but I wanted it to be festive -- and you can't go wrong with more candlelight!:
Simple Christmas tablescape decor

Of course this is one of those where anything goes! Fill them up with various colored bulbs, snowflakes, ribbon, whatever! It will be beautiful, I promise:
Black "x" cabinets on either side of fireplace

I had some LED lights strung through there at first too, but they took away from the candlelight, so I didn't think it needed them. 

Don't get me wrong -- I LOVE a house full of Christmas decor! I already have plans to do more next year. I'm giving myself some grace this year and yet, the places I've decorated have made a big impact so the house is certainly not lacking the Christmas spirit:
Black cabinet round mirror

Next time you're at Goodwill or the dollar store look out for these! You can use them SO many different ways! 

Here's my sweater wrapped version from a couple years back:
sweater wrapped candle holders

These wrapped in gold and silver were a favorite! They looked so good with that mirror!:
Dollar store candles with paper decor

I loved the snowflake versions too: 
Dressing up plain glass candles

And these metal candle holder wrappers can be used any time of the year: 
metal sheeting around glass

See how fun they are to dress up? They are the little black dress of holiday decor. ;) 

Do you go crazy with holiday decor or keep it simple? I find it depends on how the year has gone for me. Sometimes I'm in the mood to go crazy with it, sometimes I crave a calmer house. 

I hope to share a holiday tour of at least our family room and kitchen next week! Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, have a GREAT weekend!!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How to finish and protect wood counters around a sink

So you know when you have to tackle a project (DIY, work, home, whatever) and you put it off forever because you think it's going to be a big pain...and then you do it and it takes no time at all and turns out beautifully and you kick yourself for waiting that long?

Yeah, I do that often. When we were picking out finishes for the kitchen I knew right away I wanted to do butcher block on the island again. I've had it in varying forms in our kitchen since 2010 and adore it. I just love the warmth the wood brings to a kitchen...and they are easier to take care of than you think.

This time, though, we have a sink in the island. So I thought I may have to treat it a little differently than before. This is when I should have trusted my gut and experience a little more, because I made some choices that didn't turn out the way I hoped. With the help of my trusty Minwax products (that I LOVE), I finally got this project done the way I wanted!

Our contractor suggested we use mineral oil for the wood, and even though I have never used that for my butcher (but have for cutting boards), I agreed to use that after talking to some friends who did as well. Well, it didn't work well at all. They put numerous coats on the wood and I wasn't happy with it. I'm not sure if it was just the brand or what, but one thing that bugged me is it didn't change the tone of the wood at ALL. Usually any kind of oil will deepen the wood tone at least a little. It was still very light and looked just like bare wood (I stood in front of it and asked when they were going to oil it, when they had already put on many coats). And, when we would use the sink or place a glass on the counter, it would leave a raised water mark. You don't want to deal with water issues and a protective coat should NOT allow for that.

No matter how much of the oil we used, it still did it. So I had the builder sand the counter down again and then we babied it for awhile till I could decide how I wanted to finish it. We left it bare for six weeks before I finally decided on a plan and started it one night...and it hardly took any time at all.

The first step was to get rid of all the water marks. I am kicking myself I didn't take a before pic, because it was looking pretty crappy. But all it took was wiping down the counter with a wet towel to "pop" all of the wood. Using water on your wood opens it up and is actually not a bad idea before staining. The water marks disappeared and everything was looking uniform again.

But if you ran your hand over it, it was rough from the popping. To knock that down a bit I used very fine steel wool (grade #0000) over the whole thing:
Fine steel wool between coats on wood

My Dad always recommends steel wool and I find it works great to smooth out the wood out a bit. Dads are always right! You don't want to sand it down big time, just a light pass. You'll feel with your hands where it's working.  

There will be some residue from the steel wool, but using a wet rag would pop the wood again, so a tack cloth is helpful here. It is sticky (I absolutely hate the way it feels so I use a glove!) and grabs all the junk before you stain. You couldn't see any of this just looking at the wood!:
Tack cloth for cleaning up dust

Next up, the prep! SO important! I know I blabber on about this every time but it's good stuff. The Minwax pre-stain conditioner gives your surface a nice, neutral finish to even everything out:
How to condition wood before staining

You can find it at any hardware store and I highly recommend it. Just wipe it on, that's it! I did a small staining project recently and was in a bit of a hurry so I didn't use it. I was shocked at the difference. One thing in particular I noted was that wherever I went to apply the stain, my rag left marks where I started on the wood. So if I added stain in the middle, there was a clear mark from where I applied.

With the conditioner that doesn't happen. You can start wherever and the stain wipes on beautifully. I won't do another project without it. :) I think it also gives you more time too. It allows you to work with the stain a bit longer and keep that "wet edge" as you work. (You don't want stain to dry mid-project or you will see where you stopped and started.) 

I've been raving about the Provincial wood stain for a year or so now and I'm doing it again. It's become my go-to color. It's a perfect brown -- no red tones and not crazy dark: 
Provincial stain from Minwax

I used that on the butcher block because it works with our floors so well. I didn't want them to match exactly, but I did want it to be the same tone. You can see a little in this photo how similar they are:
Minwax provincial stain

One thing to note about staining -- and I noticed this because we had lived with the bare wood for so long -- it can be a little bit of a shock when you first apply the stain. Staining is one of my absolute FAVORITE projects because it's instant gratification. But it brings out details of the wood that you didn't see before. That's the beauty of it, but it can throw you off at first too. 

Not to worry though, because after the process it looks amazing and you want to sleep on the island because you love it so much. ;) 

You need to let your stain dry well -- follow the instructions, but at least 12 hours is good for a project like this. Some people like to add another coat but I rarely do. One and done for me! After it's dry, take your steel wool and go over the whole surface again. This gives you smooth start for the next step.

Because I wanted to have a surface that protects against water, I went with Minwax Tung oil

Minwax Tung oil
I should have just trusted what I know and love from the start! I used it on our first butcher block and was so pleased with how it protected the wood. It's not a thick finish like polyurethane, so keep that in mind. I don't like using poly on a countertop because if you need to refinish it down the line it's more difficult to remove. 

Tung oil really seeps into the wood and protects beautifully. I used a rag to apply (just like I did the stain) and poured it out onto the counter first: 
Tung oil for wood counters

Then rubbed it in. Don't be stingy with it -- it will penetrate the wood so it's hard to use too much. It really finishes off the whole process so nicely -- see how it deepens the tone even more?:
Best oil for butcher block counters

Ack! I just love it! So good. 

Use a rag to really work it into the wood. I did this at night and used the lights above the island to kind of stand back and see where it didn't look like it was rubbed in well. You can tell by the sheen where it needs to be worked in. 

I waited 24 hours in between coats of the oil, and sanded once again in between with the steel wool. This ensures that your surface will be smooth as a baby's behind. Two to three coats of Tung oil is recommended, I used two and it's protecting the wood wonderfully. I like to reapply every six months to a year, but I've waited years in between coats and it held up so well. 

I made sure to really rub it into the cut wood around the sink, as well as around the faucet:
How to treat wood counters near sink

Black sink, wood countertops

Since I've finished we haven't had to baby the counter one bit. It's just awesome stuff and I really can't recommend it enough. Liquids just sit on the surface and even sticky stuff can be scrubbed off no problem:
How to protect wood countertops around sink

It's prettier than I could have imagined. We absolutely LOVE it:
Getting a perfect finish on wood countertop

Provincial stain on wood countertop

Wood island countertop with sink

How to treat wood countertops around sink

It warms up our kitchen so much! Wood just feels cozy and homey to me, and is a great contrast with the modern materials we have in our kitchen. You can't go wrong with a combo of solid surfaces and wood in my opinion:
How to stain and treat butcher block wood countertops

How to stain and treat wood countertops

I found the stools at Target (affiliate). I had been on the lookout for a fourth of our previous stools for months and couldn't find one anywhere. So we'll use those in the basement eventually. I got these around Thanksgiving for a GREAT deal. Love that they have a back -- this kitchen was calling out for that for some reason. 

I know many worry about wood around a sink, with good reason. But this oil protects so well, I'm not worried about the wood counters at all. We do wipe up around the sink after using it but we did that with laminate and granite too. 

I know some are concerned about having a food safe wood counter, but after curing this stuff is not going anywhere. We don't cut wood on our butcher block -- I love the eventual nicks and dings that give it a patina over the years, but I would never cut right into it. If you ARE planning to do that with your counter, do not use stain.

Do you have butcher block counters? How have they held up? I'll be sure to update you on how ours hold up! I don't have worries that this will stand the test of time -- we didn't baby our old counters and they were awesome. 

This post is sponsored by Minwax. I only work with brands and products I use and love!