MY FIREPLACE GETS A WHOLE NEW LOOK

Hi everyone! I know I’ve been MIA for a while, and I apologize for that. Earlier this year, I started a new job working at a local architecture firm. The firm does all kinds of work but mostly residential renovations and new construction. I really do love going to work each week, but it limits how much time I have to work on my own house. So I’m unable to post as often as I was, but I’m still here!!!

Today I’m going to share my most recent DIY project. I’ve started a complete makeover of our great room. This is a big project because I’m changing out pretty much everything in the room and it’s a decent size room. But the first thing I wanted to do was address my existing fireplace…

BEFORE

This is what it looked like before. It’s a standard, traditional wood mantle on a plain wall. This a common mantel style where we live. In fact, every home in our neighborhood has pretty much the exact same mantel. Boring! I wanted to change it to something more modern and interesting, something kind of like this:

source
source

Since we couldn’t afford to hire a contractor to completely change out the whole fireplace, I decided to figure out a way to DIY this project myself (with the help of my husband). I came up with a a very affordable and doable plan…

I started by completely removing the old fireplace mantel and the two baseboards that flanked it. I was happy to find there was nothing unexpected happening behind it.

With the old mantle off, it was now time to build the new fireplace wall. I drew everything out on the computer before I even started so I knew how it would all come together.

I kept the existing gas fireplace exactly as it was because I certainly wasn’t going to change that out or move it. I also decided to keep the existing stone fireplace surround because there is nothing wrong with it and I like the simple black look. Plus, keeping it the way it was simplifies the project and saves me some money.

But it did mean that before I framed out a new wall for the fireplace I needed to attach a few pieces of wood to the wall in order to create one level plane for the new wall I build to rest against.

The pink pieces are the 1×4 boards I will be adding to the wall.

I attached some 1x4s to the wall making sure to secure them into the existing studs.

Now the black stone around the fireplace sits flush with all of the 1x4s.

The next step was to basically build a new wall from 2x6s.

The orange pieces are the 2x6s I’ll be adding.

My husband and I built the new frame flat on the floor and then lifted it into place on the wall, securing it to the existing studs with screws.

The mantel will later be secured to the double 2x6s which are screwed into the wall studs.

MY FOYER/HALLWAY MAKEOVER: PHASE TWO

The work on my foyer/entry continues! If you missed my phase one reveal then go check it out first. Today I’m going to share phase two of this makeover…

I started off this phase by fixing an area of our foyer that wasn’t quite right. When we moved into our home I noticed that there is an area of molding underneath the main staircase that looks unfinished. Take a look:

I believe it was built this way, and it looks like the builder maybe ran out of materials and just threw on what he had left instead of buying what was needed to finish this correctly. Who knows?! But it was time for me to finally make this area look the way it was supposed to look to begin with.

I added two pieces of wood below the stringer and then continued the base cap molding all around the edges. I also installed new taller baseboards in this area. So now the whole area looks like this…

(this is after we painted the walls and before we painted the trim)

Looking better… it just needs to be painted which I’ll do later.

With that area fixed, I then continued with the baseboards. I installed new taller baseboards through the entire entry area and the upstairs hallway. Fortunately, the baseboards on both staircases were already 5 1/4” tall.

Next, it was time to get painting! My husband helped me prime and paint all the walls in the entry, upstairs hall and back staircase.

This is what it looked like before:

And after the paint:

I went with a basic white and I was surprised by how much brighter the rooms instantly felt after changing the paint color.

Painting all of the trim was the next step, but first I needed to do another project…

I wanted to do something with these decorative pieces on the end of each step on our main staircase in the foyer. These are officially called stair brackets. I am personally NOT a fan of these. I guess they are an added decorative feature, but in the area I live in these are nothing special. They are a standard builder grade element in the typical suburban house. I personally feel like this particular bracket design is very colonial looking and our home is not a pure colonial style. They just don’t fit! I’d prefer a very clean minimal look to these stairs.

MY FOYER/HALLWAY MAKEOVER: PHASE ONE

I have two new things to share today!!

First, I have given my website a new look!! I’d been wanting to do this for awhile and am grateful that I was finally able to squeeze some time out of my busy schedule to make the changes. I do all of the design and maintenance of my blog myself… which is crazy because I knew nothing about setting up or maintaining blogs when I started. I’m still learning so much each day!

I feel like this new website design better reflects my own personal style and is also more user-friendly. Check out my updated ‘About’ page and my new ‘Projects’, ‘Portfolio’ and ‘Design Advice’ sections for easy access to all of my DIY projects, makeovers and design tips. Hope you enjoy the new layout!

But the blog isn’t the only new thing I’m sharing with you today, I have also started a new makeover project! For this project I’ve divided all the changes I’ll be making into phases, and I’ll be sharing the reveal of each phase as I go. So today I’ll share phase one!

I am excited to finally be getting to alter one space in my home that has been bugging me for years—our foyer! I’ve had a plan to redo this area for a long time, but it kept getting bumped by more pressing projects and responsibilities. I’m so grateful to finally be able to tackle this outdated space!!

When you enter our home you come into our foyer or entry or whatever you want to call it…

this is the view from our front door

our dog says hello

This space opens to my home office…

And also opens into our dining room…

I have already given my home office and our dining room a makeover, and I’m happy with how both of those rooms turned out. However, sandwiched between these two newly updated rooms is my very outdated entryway! Right now when you walk between my dining room and my foyer it almost feels like you’re stepping into two completely different homes! So I’m very excited to finally bring some cohesion to this area of our house!

However, this makeover goes beyond just this area of our house. I’ll show you…

THE DESKER (MULTIFUNCTIONAL FURNITURE)

I recently finished a complete bedroom makeover for my teenage daughter. As I mentioned in that post, I created a special piece of furniture to fit her needs in the room. 

She had requested a desk to do her homework and a vanity to do her hair/makeup, plus she needed a small dresser for storage. But her room is not huge so there wasn’t enough space to put three separate pieces of furniture. My solution was to combine all three pieces into one. I unintentionally started calling it ‘the desker’ (desk + dresser) for lack of a better name.

This single piece of furniture allows her to do her homework, do her hair/makeup (she has a tabletop vanity mirror she uses) and store clothes as well as desk supplies, all while taking up a small amount of space in her room. Now please don’t think I’m claiming to have invented this piece of furniture. I have seen similar pieces in hotels before. This is just my own take on it.

My plan was to purchase an affordable used dresser and then add a wood top and side leg creating a waterfall effect. This would give the piece a clean modern look which would work well with the style I was going for in her room.

My first step was to find an affordable used dresser, but it had to have certain features…

  1. It needed to be about the same height as a desk (about 28″-30″).
  2. It needed to not be too large (30″-40″ long was ideal) so that proportionally it would look right and there would be enough space to fit the desk area on the side.
  3. It needed to have a minimal modern style.

Turns out it was harder than I thought to find a used dresser that matched that criteria. The few pieces I found were either way too expensive or very cheaply made and not very attractive. I literally looked for a dresser at various places off and on for a YEAR!!!!

Finally, last fall I came across this baby:

This is a Conant Ball mid century modern, solid wood dresser that I was able to snag for $80. I liked the clean lines and it generally fit all the dimensions I was looking for. I wasn’t expecting to find such a nice piece of MCM furniture and was actually a little hesitant to alter such a great dresser. There was a part of me that wanted to restore it to its original glory and use it somewhere else in my home. But it was not in the best condition plus I’d waited so long for a dresser that would work for my ‘desker’ project, so I moved forward with my original plan.

top of dresser

The dresser had an unattractive eggplant colored paint job that was not in good condition so I couldn’t just paint over it. Instead, I had to sand the whole thing down which took awhile because there were multiple layers of paint on there. Then I primed it and painted it white.

already looking better