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DIY “fireplace.”


i’m excited to share with you a project that my brother Brian + i completed together this fall: a DIY faux fireplace for our upstairs living room!



{p.s. how cute is my niece?!}

after seeing my sister-in-law’s amazing faux fireplace {pictured above} + begging her to tell me how she did it – and where she got the rustic wood! – Brian and i tackled our own DIY interpretation in my home.


to create our faux fireplace + mantle, which is approximately six feet wide and four feet tall, we used the materials listed below. i estimate that this project cost around $250 in materials; the reclaimed wood was free.

overall, i wanted to echo the dimensions of a real “fireplace” and mantle, which required us to build our structure out from the wall. my engineer brother drew up some plans {ahem, nerd}, based on where he found studs in the wall. we then used 2×4’s and 2×6’s to create a base surface to which we attached the reclaimed wood pieces and the wainscoting for visual appeal.


  • 2×4’s and 2×6’s to create the base for the faux fireplace {pictured above}
  • heavy-duty and super-long screws {that’s as technical as i get, ha!}
  • plywood, trimmed to size, for the base of the fireplace
  • wainscoting, trimmed to size, to add aesthetic appeal to the faux fireplace insert and the base of the fireplace
  • a whole bunch of reclaimed rustic wood {the pieces that we used were from a local abandoned shed and fence near my sister-in-law’s home}



{optional: cute baby who thinks the fireplace base is his own personal performance stage}

having this focal point in our upstairs living room has really changed the look and feel of the room. before we built this faux fireplace, we had a large Expedit bookshelf from IKEA in its place. while the storage capabilities of this bookshelf were top-notch, particularly for the kids’ toys and books, i was ready for a change.

instead of focusing on storage, i wanted to focus on creating a focal point in this room that 1) was pretty and, 2) frankly, that’s purpose was just to make me happy. {sidenote: i’m a firm believer that storage can – and should! – be pretty, which is why my home is full of woven or wicker baskets, large metal containers and colorful storage totes. but this girl wanted a happy place just for me, so we changed it up.}

in terms of styling {and i’m no Emily Henderson, but i love how i styled this part of my home, so i’m sharing!}, when the building phase was completed, i threw a bunch of my books in the middle of the “fireplace,” where the firebox would be if this were a real working fireplace. then, i roll-folded a bunch of neutral-colored blankets {some of which were made by hand by my grandmother!} and placed them in a felt basket with leather handles {a Target find}. then, i placed a taupe and black pouf on the other side of the fireplace. finally, i hung a garland of felt balls {thanks again, Target} on a few finishing nails that i pounded into the wood. so far, i’ve been changing this garland with the seasons, which has been quite fun; the photo above features an acorn garland for Thanksgiving. it was also quite charming to hang our boys’ stockings from the mantle in the Christmas season, as you can {partially} see below.


because we mounted the television above the fireplace, i kept the styling of the mantle simple, with just a few items to the left and the right of the television to provide access for the remote control. i know that placing a television above a fireplace, real or not, is a widely debated topic in the design world, but i LOVE the way that this wall now commands attention with two “big items” – the fireplace and the television – working together. plus, the main critique that i found with this sort of arrangement involved the difficulty of seeing the television while seated, but our mount is adjustable, so we tip the television down slightly when we’re seated on the couch. and, since our upstairs living room is completely open to our kitchen, we can still play “Wheel of Fortune” {me and Jord’s guilty pleasure – we compete hardcore} while gearing up for dinner. in other words, this set-up works SO well for our family.

here’s how the fireplace currently looks:




as you can see, the taupe and black pouf has been replaced by a basket, which holds Q’s musical instruments; the pouf now lives on the floor next to our armchair and is a rest for aching feet after a long day’s work. and though it’s not pictured now, more often than not, L’s Blaze and the Monster Machines playset is often atop the base of the fireplace, awaiting its next play session.

my kids love to use the fireplace as a performance stage and an obstacle course {never a dull moment}, but overall, the fireplace brings me so much joy that i could care less. many thanks to my brother Brian for the many, MANY hours that we spent on this project!

DIY mini hockey rink {L’s third birthday gift}.

For L’s third birthday, his Grandpa Steve {Jord’s father, aka our go-to handy-guy and all-around fixer-upper} gifted our oldest boy an awesome mini hockey rink that he DIYed himself. Our hockey-loving boy couldn’t have been more pleased! Check it out:



And today, i’m here to share with you the steps to DIY a hockey rink of your very own! Many thanks to Jord’s dad Steve for writing up the list of materials and the steps, so that i could share the how-to with you!



1/4″ hardboard, cut to approximately 30×13″ with rounded corners {this is used for the foundation of the rink}

1×4″ pine select quality board {this is used to strengthen the underside of the foundation of the rink}

1/32″ polyethylene sheeting {this is used for the “ice” and the “glass boards” that players check each other into :)}

1/2″ wire nails

Sharpie markers in red and blue {to create the regulation lines for the hockey rink}

1 1/2″ PVC pipe {this is used to create the two hockey nets}

Scrap piece of 5-ply hobby plywood {this is used to make the hockey sticks}

1/2″ wooden dowel {this is used to create hockey pucks}

Black spray paint in a semi-flat finish {this is used for the hockey sticks + the hockey pucks}

White spray paint in a gloss finish {this is used for the foundation of the rink}

Image of a hockey rink {this is used as a reference when drawing the regulation lines of the hockey rink}

Image of a hockey stick {this is used as a reference when creating the hockey sticks}





Tin snips

Needlenose pliers

80-grit sandpaper

220-grit sandpaper

Sanding block

Tape measure



5/8″ drill bit




1. Create the foundation for the rink by cutting 1/4″ hardboard to approximately 30×13″. Then, using dividers or a compass, draw out the four rounded corners of the rink and cut using a bandsaw. Then, to add strength to the base, cut and secure a 1×4 along the perimeter underneath the hardboard.


2. Once the foundation of the rink is its final size and has been strengthened with a 1×4, it’s time to create the “ice.” Use the foundation of the rink as a pattern by placing it on top of the polyethylene sheeting and tracing around the sheeting with a pencil. After tracing the foundation of the rink onto the sheeting, cut a corresponding oval out of the sheeting using tin snips.

3. Once the foundation of the rink and the ice are both cut to final size, paint the foundation of the rink using white spray paint in a gloss finish.

4. Using red and blue Sharpie markers, create the regulation lines of the hockey rink, making sure to follow your image of a hockey rink for reference.

A helpful tip: As you draw, leave a bit of time in between drawing each line to prevent smearing!


Use a dashed line to differentiate the red center line from the two solid blue regulation lines; for the red center line, use a yardstick and create dash marks every 1/4″ across the sheeting.

Once you’ve drawn the regulation lines, it’s time to create the four face-off circles and the small face-off circle at center ice. Use whatever you have on hand to create these circles; for instance, L’s Grandpa Steve used the inside circle of a roll of masking tape to create the four larger circles and a kitchen ramekin to draw the smaller face-off circle at center ice!

Finally, you’re ready to draw the two goal lines, including each goal’s cage and crease. Again, be certain to allow the marker ink to dry before you begin drawing another regulation line!

A helpful tip: While the name “center line” implies that the red center line should be located precisely in the middle of the “ice,” the other lines are a bit more tricky to place without doing some math. Thankfully, Grandpa Steve did the math for us, so if you are following the dimensions of our mini hockey rink (i.e. your hockey rink is also approximately 30×13″}, here are a few numbers for you: the goal lines are drawn approximately 2″ from either end of the foundation, and the blue lines are drawn approximately 11″ from either end of the foundation.

5. Now that the “ice” is complete, it’s time to use the remnant of the polyethylene sheeting to create the “glass boards” that go around the outside of the foundation of the rink.


A helpful tip: Ensure that paint on the foundation of the rink is dry before completing this and all future steps of the building process.

Using the foundation of the rink as a guide, wrap the remaining polyethylene sheeting around the foundation of the rink and cut to the appropriate length and height; for reference, the glass “boards” around L’s hockey rink are 2″ high from the bottom of the foundation of the rink. Once cut, set the sheeting aside.

A helpful tip: Since you want the sheeting to wrap around the entire foundation of the rink, you will likely need to cut two separate pieces of sheeting and overlap them at center “ice”; consider allowing for a 1″ overlap, where the two pieces of sheeting will join on each side of the foundation of the rink.


6. Secure the “ice” to the foundation with 1/2″ wire nails, using the needlenose pliers to help you to hold the nails in place as you hammer. {NOTE: Since glues or any type of adhesive are unfriendly when it comes to polyethylene sheeting, nails are the best way to go.}

A helpful tip: Ensure that the marker lines that you’ve drawn on the “ice” have completely dried before completing this step in the building process.

A helpful tip: Nail the “ice” the foundation along the edges only, so as to prevent the hockey pucks from hitting or bouncing off of the nails during play.

A helpful tip: After securing the “ice” to the foundation of the rink, if you notice a slight overlap between the foundation and the “ice,” use 80-grit sandpaper and a light touch to lightly sand away the overlap of the two pieces. Take care to ensure that you don’t sand away the white paint on the foundation of the ice!

7. Once the “ice” is in place and the sheeting for the “glass boards” is its final length and height, it’s time to prepare the “glass boards” to be secured to the rink.

First, using a light touch, use 220-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the cut edges along the top and the bottom of the sheeting.

Then, starting approximately 1″ past the center line of the “ice,” work your way around the foundation of the rink, wrapping the sheeting around and securing it to the base of the foundation every few inches with 1/2″ wire nails. Then, secure the seams of the sheeting {the 1″ overlap near center ice} with clear packing tape.


8. The final steps of the process involve creating the accessories that help the hockey rink to come alive: the nets, the pucks and the sticks!

To create the nets, cut two pieces of 1 1/2″ PVC pipe at an angle to resemble a net.

To create the pucks, cut the 1/2″ dowel in slices measuring approximately 3/16″. Cut as many pucks as you’d like! Sand smooth and spray paint black in a semi-flat finish.

To create the sticks, hand-draw a hockey stick shape {here’s a collection of images to reference!} onto hobby plywood. Using a 5/8″ drill bit, drill a hole in the inside knee of the hockey stick {where the hockey stick bends into an L-shape}. Then, cut away the remaining wood using a bandsaw. Sand smooth and spray paint black in a semi-flat finish.


* *

And that’s it! You now have your very own mini hockey rink that will provide you and yours many hours of hockey-filled entertainment :) thanks again to Grandpa Steve for giving our Lionel this amazing gift that he so adores AND for sharing this tutorial with us!

art time with a toddler.

this week marked our first days of summer 2015. to mark this auspicious occasion, L and i checked one item off of our summer bucket list: paint some canvases together. while our paintings may not be worthy of a place in the MoMA, we certainly had a blast painting side by side, which is all that matters, am i right?


– blank canvases

– acrylic paints {i used what i had on hand from past projects, but since L is such a fan of making art, i hope to add a few more fun colors to our collection in the future!}

– foam paint brushes {again, i used what i had on hand, but i’d love to eventually purchase actual paint brushes for him to use!}

– paper plates {to hold our paints}

here’s a few photos of our little artist in action:






and voila – the finished product:


it was a great way to spend a summer afternoon, especially since the temperatures here in SD have been a bit on the cold side lately!

what activities are you enjoying with your kids this summer? do tell!

spring + summer projects {our home}.

we’ve had our first taste of spring here in South Dakota, and warmer temperatures and sunshine-y days bring out the good ol’ “do all the things” attitudes in Jord and me. you’re on watch, Listy McListerson – we’re coming after you!

to give you a hint of what’s to come from us {and from this here blog} in the coming months, here’s a few projects that have jumped up on our to-do list:

1. plant a vegetable garden. we’d love to get our hands dirty and plant our first-ever garden early this spring. while we wait for temperatures to warm up a bit more, we’re dreaming of DIYing a raised garden bed or two {like this} and placing them in our front yard for maximum sunlight.



2. remove the dogwood bushes surrounding the cement patio in our backyard.

as i mentioned here, we’d love to improve sight lines around this patio to help us to see and interact with our young, play-loving kiddos, so we plan to remove these bushes early this spring as well.


3. move the “man nook” to the guest bedroom {and DIY some rockin’ industrial shelving while we’re at it}.

after many conversations about Jord’s current “man nook,” we’ve learned the following things:

* our visions for the “man nook” are very, very different; while i want a finished, polished and “pretty” space {in that it fits in with the rest of our home decor} in which he can work and play, Jord envisions a space that is totally, 100% his – a “no-girl-opinions-or-prettying-up” allowed kind of feel;

* the current “man nook” is SMALL {it IS a closet, after all}. while we surely knew this before the space became “the man nook,” Jord’s plans to customize the space to fit his needs are making us wonder if his {great} efforts to make it work are worthwhile;

* we have a third bedroom downstairs {what we’re calling our guest bedroom} which is currently a glorified storage room, meaning that it’s largely unused.

thus, after some enlightening conversation, we’ve decided to move the “man nook” to the guest bedroom downstairs.



but, instead of just plopping down a desk in there and calling it quits, we’ve decided to take our time and plan out a killer wall of industrial shelving {using pipes and stained wood} that will really MAKE the space.


we’re super inspired by the photo above, which is from this post over on A Beautiful Mess. the post features the home of Jessica Krause. we weren’t the only ones who were inspired – in fact, after seeing this wall o’ shelves, Traci over at Beneath My Heart wrote up a super helpful tutorial that has us believing that we can really make this project ourselves!

but, before we can make this wall o’ shelves happen, we need to paint the walls in the guest bedroom {i’m currently brainstorming colors, but my gut reaction is something neutral and fresh, along the lines of our new lower level paint job}. we also need to move the full-size bed to another wall in the guest bedroom {we will be using the wall that the bed is currently on for the shelving, since it’s the only wall in the room without a ledge going around the perimeter}. finally, we need to go shopping for some totes and devote some time to project: organization in order to pack up and move OUT of the room the various {and many!} baby-related items and other stuff that has accumulated in this room since move-in day.


we can’t wait to tackle this project, since it will be such a welcome change for Jord {more space! natural light!} AND will be a handsome installation for whatever this room turns into {for instance, it will surely be L’s future bedroom down the line}.

what projects are you tackling? do the first signs of Spring have you in a tizzy as well?

crunch time’s a-coming! {boys’ shared bedroom + baby haven}

i’m back again with yet another update on the boys’ shared bedroom – the room is {almost} ready!

as a reminder, here’s the overall look that we’re going for in the boys’ shared bedroom:


and now, here’s our updated to-do list:

1. take down the ceiling fan.

2. paint the ceiling {in Benjamin Moore’s Lacey Pearl} and touch up paint on the walls.

3. hang the warehouse light fixture.

4. install DIY custom shelving flanking the window in the room {two wooden shelves – stained grey – on each side of the window, hung with hefty, exposed black brackets}.

5. order two monogram pillows and a metal photo print, courtesy of Tiny Prints.

6. order the rug {pictured above on the left side of the inspiration board, from Urban Outfitters}, as well as a few knick-knacks for the boys’ shelves that i’ve been coveting on Etsy :)

7. print and frame some custom artwork that i made for the boys’ room, as well as a piece of printable artwork that i purchased from Etsy {we’re about halfway through this process, hence the half-checked-off text}.

8. pick up the repainted bed frame, the repainted Moses basket stand, the DIY Moses basket bedding, the DIY changing pad cover, and the repainted rocking chairs from my parents’ house.

9. hang the curtain rod + curtains, hang the artwork and vinyl decals, and dress L’s bed and baby’s crib – really, this is the time to decorate our hearts out!

the triangle vinyl decals {from this Etsy seller} look outstanding in the room, but my favorite moment happened when L walked into his room after i hung the decals. as soon as he saw them on the wall, he said, “Look at all the triangles!” and instantly wanted to touch them :) he loves them!

the biggest room-maker, though, has been the custom shelving. my engineer brother worked VERY hard late into the night to hang these shelves for us – we’re so grateful! we hung two shelves on each side flanking the window. plus, i’ve officially put away my drill and hammer as well – all of the wall decor in the boys’ shared bedroom is in place!

we also were able to dress L’s bed and officially start the move to the big boy bed this past week. {the bed transition has been a journey in itself, and i promise you a post on that process soon!} his bedding looks adorable; he especially loves picking out the trucks and the cars on his bed sheets and naming the colors of each one that he sees! baby boy no. 2’s crib bedding should be shipping soon from this Etsy seller – i can’t WAIT to see how it looks in the room!

my Mom also spent some quality time with her sewing machine over the past week or so, and the Moses basket bedding and changing pad covers are nearly done and looking OUTSTANDING! all that’s left is to pick up a few last-minute items from the fabric store to finish out the bedding, and then we’ll officially be ready to embark on decorating the baby’s “haven” in our master bedroom, which is what we’re calling the {one!} wall of space that baby no. 2 will have in our bedroom for the majority of his first year.

also happening in the “haven” – on another visit to our home, my brother built our Raskog cart from IKEA, our non-permanent storage solution for diapers and other baby necessities while Baby Boy lives in our bedroom – the fun turquoise color looks great with our indigo walls in the master bedroom, and the cart is fully stocked with cloth diapers in anticipation of baby’s arrival! i’m still collecting artwork and other items to hang on the wall above baby’s “haven,” but i hope to get started on the hanging process very soon – i can’t believe that in five-and-a-half short weeks, we’ll have another boy in our home!

in other news, we’ve decided to ditch the fun geometric rug from Urban Outfitters – the original plan was to put it in the boys’ room, but after arranging the furniture in the room, there wasn’t enough open floor space for the rug to make an impact. so, we thought about moving the rug into our bedroom, but the scale is just too small for the open floor space that we have in there, so back to the store it goes!

what projects are you working on around your home?