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DIY Decor

Porch Updates + New Indoor/Outdoor Rug

Happy June!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.

Our little baby monster recently decided that she doesn’t need sleep to survive, and sleep training has been difficult.  This combined with changes at daycare, and Jeremy starting a new job left us all feeling pretty tired.  So I decided to put the blog on hold for a month, and just survive.

Now we’re adjusting to our new routines, and getting back into the swing of things…mostly.  The long holiday weekend was so needed.  I took an extra day off on Friday to spend with Isla, she had her 6 month checkup and shots which are never fun – but she was a trooper!

On Saturday, we had a cookout with family and friends.  Now that it’s warming up outside, we’ve been spending more time on our three season porch.

It’s one of my favorite “rooms” in the house, a relaxing little window-lined space to hangout.  Last year, Jeremy and I painted the walls, and added some seating by refurbishing Jeremy’s grandma’s old wicker furniture.  We also refinished my grandpa’s canoe paddles and hung those on the wall.

This summer, we wanted to make it an even more inviting space.  One of our neighbors gave us an old mini fridge last year, so Jeremy cleaned it up and found a place for it.  Now when we have friends over, we have a convenient little spot for drinks, no running back and forth to the kitchen.

He also hung this oversized marquee letter that he made for our wedding 5 years ago.  It adds a lot of curb appeal in such a special, meaningful way.

Marquee letter S lit up at night

Finally, I found the perfect rug!  The Marina Rug from Ballard Designs.

Ballard Designs Marina Indoor/Outdoor Rug

Source: Ballard Designs

Smiling baby girl

Isla (and her two little teeth) approves!

Ballard Designs Marina Rug

Source: Ballard Designs

We purchased their Chevron Stripe rug a few years ago for our dining room, and it has held up SO well.  I knew that the Marina rug was made from the same indoor/outdoor material, so it was a safe bet for the porch.

It makes the space so cozy, but I also know that if we spill something on it (or the baby/murphy gets something on it), we can just take it outside and hose it off.  That’s a SERIOUS win.  I learned the hard way with one of my jute rugs last year that if you plan on living around a rug, it needs to be easily cleaned.

Ballard Designs Marina Rug

Ballard Designs Marina Rug on Porch

Wall color: Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee

Ballard Designs Marina Rug on porchI’m hoping sometime soon we’ll be able to redo the bead board ceiling, and add an outdoor ceiling fan.  This porch is what sold me on the house when we were hunting, so I’m really excited to see it start coming together as the space I was hoping for.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend, and thanks for sticking with me while I took a little break!

DIY Decor Family

Grandpa Sugar’s Refinished Canoe Paddles

Hi, readers!  Today I’m sharing a recent decor project that’s really special to me, because it is like hanging a piece of family history on the wall.

367These are my grandparents, Grandma Darlin’ & Grandpa Sugar.  They used to call us darlin’ and sugar when we were little – so to us, those were their names, too.  This has stuck with us into adulthood, and still stands today!  They are two of my favorite people on the planet.

They sold their house, basically our family headquarters, last summer in an effort to downsize.  An understandable decision, but we were all sad to no longer have this space as a gathering place.  I spent every Christmas Eve at this house since I was born…so it’s been a little bit of a change, as silly as that may sound.  Even though we miss this place, I’m really happy that they were able to sell and find a new adorable place to call home.  Jeremy and I often talk about winning the lottery and buying it back someday 🙂

houseSo many great memories in this place.

Last July when we made our final visit to help clean and take things off their hands that they no longer needed, my Grandpa took Jeremy and I up to his GIANT pole barn at the back of the property, to have a quick look through to see if there was anything we could take.  We spent a good 25 minutes out there with him, looking at everything they’d collected over the years, but didn’t see much we could use.  On our way out to head back down to the house, a pair of paddles caught Jeremy’s eye.  They were dingy, beat up, and partially broken, but PERFECT in their own way – so we asked if we could take them.  Grandpa laughed at us a little and said “I don’t know what you’d want those old things for, but alright!”

This is what we started with.  I love the look of aged oars, but these needed a little help.

DSC_1224-2I used an orbital sander, and did a light sanding with a 120 grit pad on both sides.  I went really easy on the handles and sides because the wood was a little softer and I didn’t want to reshape it.


Night and day difference after sanding, right?  I finished it off with a quick sanding with a 220 grit pad to get a nice smooth finish.  To get the weathered but clean look, I decided against actually staining the wood, and instead just put on 2 coats of sanding sealer.  There are compounds in this sealer called stearates that make the finish thick and soft.  If you plan on putting a harder finishing coat of lacquer over top like I did, you only want to stick with 1-2 coats of the sanding sealer.  Putting any more on increases the chances that your lacquer finish will chip or crack later on.

sandedI really like how the sanding sealer darkened the wood just a bit, but still let all of the weathered grain show through.


After letting these coats dry for 2-3 hours, I rolled on 3 coats of Spar Urethane in a semi-gloss finish.

DSC_1277Finished 🙂

Now the tricky part: trying to figure out how to hang these paddles on the wall in an “X” shape.  There aren’t very many tutorials out there on how to do this, so we had to wing it.

The taupe wall color had to go, so first I cleaned the walls and gave them two coats of Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee.  It’s a warm white that really cozied up the space and makes the oars pop.

DSC_1695I wasn’t crazy about the idea of screwing the oars into the wall and creating a million holes, in case we wanted to move them in the future – I was also worried about damaging the oars themselves, so I decided to hang these using medium Command velcro strips.  Each strip holds up to 12 lbs, so using 2-3 per paddle, these were more than strong enough to do the job.


To hang the first oar, I marked both on the wall and the oar where the command strips needed to go, and attached them.  To hang the second oar on top, I had to cut a stabilizing block of wood to place behind the lower part of the paddle to hold it in place, away from the wall.  I then attached the command strips, and put the oar in place.  Following the directions, you need to then remove the oars from the wall and press the strips on the wall firmly for 30 seconds, and then let the bond set up for an hour before hanging the oars again.



Thanks to my grandparents for letting us have these, I love having a little piece of your home hanging on my wall.

Smied Watermark

DIY Decor

A New Look for Old Wicker Furniture

In my Welcome Sign tutorial, I talked about how we were recently gifted Jeremy’s Grandma’s old wicker furniture.  We were pretty excited to get started on this project, because both Jeremy and I had the same vision for the furniture – this look (sans the striped pillows/curtains):


Black Wicker + White Cushions.  So clean, classic, and easy to decorate around for different holidays/seasons.

This is what we started with:


The furniture itself needed a little TLC, but it really wasn’t too bad.  I didn’t go to the lengths of re-wrapping the legs with wicker, because we wanted it to look like heirloom furniture – not brand new.  With this project, you want to take the steps you would to refinish any old furniture:

Clean + Prime + Paint + Top Coat

We started by taking a stiff-bristled brush and gently scraping off loose paint.  Be very light-handed with this, I made the mistake of thinking I needed to scrub harder than I did, and snapped a few pieces of wicker before I learned this.  We finished giving it a once-over with the air compressor hose, this was able to knock off any stubborn loose paint.

Oh trusty old Kilz, how I love you.  I bought four cans of their white oil-based spray primer – one for each piece of furniture.  Since these were going to be indoors on a three season porch, we didn’t need heavy duty exterior primer.  This will give you good coverage, hold up to temperature fluctuations, and hold the top coats of paint really well.  I followed the instructions and sprayed one thin coat, let it dry for one hour, then gave it a final coat.  Kilz has amazing coverage and has never failed me.


I did a lot of Googling before I started this project, and most people said that the way to go with wicker was an oil-based primer, with latex paint on top.  It makes for a durable combination, which is what you want for furniture you plan on using a lot.  Luckily, I had almost 1/2 a gallon of Benjamin Moore Onyx latex paint in the basement to use.  When refinishing wicker, you never, Ever, EVER want to paint with a brush.  Don’t do it.  Always spray the paint on, it gives a much cleaner finish.  We opted to use our paint sprayer attachment for the air compressor.

DSC_1162One caveat – these sprayers are not meant to be used with traditional latex interior paint, it is too thick and can clog up your equipment.  So before we started, we had to make a large batch of thinned paint.  We simply mixed 4 parts paint with 1 part paint thinner, and let it run through a straining funnel.  If it can run through the strainer smoothly, it will run through your sprayer.  This worked perfectly.


Wear a mask, gloves, and eye protection for this part, and cover your yard with a dropcloth if you don’t want spray paint shadows on your grass!  Much like the priming process, we did one coat on the furniture, let it dry for an hour, and re-coated.  We did thicker coats with the paint sprayer since we had to thin it out initially.


The furniture looked SO much better when we were finished with the final coat of paint – almost brand new!  But in order to keep it looking that way, I suggest giving it at least two coats of sprayable polyurethane.  This will keep the finish lasting a lot longer, and minimize the chance of paint cracking or chipping off.  We bought two cans of Mixwax Helmsman Spray Polyurethane in Satin – all of the reviews I read said that this left the nicest finish, and won’t yellow over time as some polyurethanes can.


You want really thin coats with this, so two cans was more than enough.  I followed the instructions (once the last coat of Onyx was dry), sprayed one light coat, let it dry for and hour, and re-coated.  If you’re going to be using your wicker furniture outside, do at least three coats to be safe.  Let this top coat dry for at least 24 hours before using your furniture.

Now that the furniture itself was done, we just had to find some white cushions to finish the look.  If you’re like us, at this point in the project you’re thinking “Whew, the hardest part is over.  Cushions can’t be that expensive, right?”

And you’d be so wrong.  Just like we were.

Cushions are stupid expensive.  Like more expensive than the furniture itself – sure, ours was free, but even if we’d purchased it the cushions would still be the most expensive part of the project.  There is nothing I can do about this, but I feel it necessary to complain because seriously, these are glorified butt-pillows.

We looked at Home Depot, Lowes, Pottery Barn, Ballard Design, Homegoods, At Home, TJ Maxx, Macys, Kohls, Target, and 1.2 million other stores.  Most places either did not carry white cushions, or if they did, they were $90 for a freaking lumbar pillow.  No bueno.  Thankfully, we stumbled on a sale Memorial Day weekend at Pier 1…and they had exactly what we were looking for, for great prices: the Cabana line in Cream.

pier1We bought the standard settee and chair cushions, and a few pillows, and did a happy dance through the parking lot all the way back to our car because Hallelujah!  We had something to sit on, now!  There are a ton of other items in the cabana line, but these were the ones we considered – I’ll bet that there are more amazing summer sales coming up soon for the 4th of July.

I’m just about 5 months along and realize that children + cream furniture are a disaster waiting to happen.  So, before we even set these on the furniture, I did three coats of Scotchgard just to be safe.  It’s a fail-safe product and gives me the peace of mind I need to keep these cushions/pillows clean.





Woohoo!  I love the cozy feel this new (to us) furniture gives our front porch.  Most importantly, Murph approves – it is now his favorite “room” in the house.  A big thank you to my mother-in-law Loree for letting us have these pieces!  I’m still looking for a side table, rug, and other accessories, but it’s really coming together.  Enjoy your weekend!

Smied Watermark


DIY Decor

Summer Vibes

I’m really loving this super-summery weather here in Michigan lately!  We did have one day of melt-your-face-off 95 degree heat, but other than that it has been perfect outside.  Nothing is better than being able to throw open all of the windows in the house, make an Arnie Palmer, and spend the day outside.


We’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks ripping out all of the front/side landscaping to start from scratch.  So far we have:


Endless Summer Hydrangeas
Japanese Maple
Creeping Sedum
Front BA

It looks a million times better, no?  Plus I love being able to cut fresh flowers for the house.  Peonies + Hydrangeas = gorgeous.  I just wish peonies bloomed longer, they’re a lot like avocados: not ready, not ready, not ready, not ready, not ready, n-READY!  Too late.


We also took on a little side project with my nephew, he’s been asking forever if we can plant sunflowers at the house.  Of course I can never say no to that sweet little face.   So I spent a week sprouting the seeds, and then he and my niece came over to plant the seeds in their own containers – how cute is their little handwriting?!


These days I’ve been trying to find ways to give the house a summery feel.  I took off the bow and garland from my St. Patrick’s Day Burlap Wreath, and made a simple little navy/white bunting for the front door.

wreathWe also set out some of Jeremy’s summer beer coasters – how cute manly are these?  I’m considering putting up a tutorial on how to make these – if you’re interested, let me know in the comments!

DSC_1375I also whipped up this new chalkboard – inspired by a current pregnancy craving of mine 🙂  Watermelon is the BEST in summer, pregnant or not.


How are you enjoying this beautiful summer weather?

Smied Watermark