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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!

wrapping paper + nails.

we’ve made some fun little updates around the house in the past few months (yes, months – i know, i’m a bad blogger to not share home-related changes with you that have been around for MONTHS!), but fear not: today, the time has (finally) come to share them with you.

behold, what i call the “nook” above our hallway upstairs:



as you may know, if you’ve read any of our posts about our wedding back in 2010, my mother collects bird houses and has for many years. i was bitten by the birdhouse bug in a different way – specifically, i dig birdcages, so i’ve collected a few over the years. this seemed like the perfect place to display these, both of which are leftover from our centerpieces at our wedding reception. click here to see them in action!

the corner also features another wedding decor item that’s been repurposed; recognize these manzanita branches from our wishing tree display?

i’ve also hung a few pieces of artwork around the house, the first two of which were housewarming party gifts back in november:




fun, right? while i’m not sure the design of the “home” print is my style, it sure is a sweet saying! i also love the way the “hope” word fits right in to our gallery wall in our hallway upstairs.

and now, for a new addition to L’s room – faux taxidermy, yeah!



that’s a rhino, and he’s my pal. i like him oh so much, and L thought it was funny to touch (before i hung the rhino way, way up high so that L’s little hands can’t reach him). our friend the rhino is from Cardboard Safari.

last up, i’ve had some fun adding drawer liners made from wrapping paper (from the One Spot at Target!) to our newly repainted nursery-changing-table-turned-console:



i definitely want to seal these drawer liners up with some Mod Podge before too long to make the graphic cuteness last, but i haven’t gotten that far yet – soon!

what mini updates are you making around your home? isn’t it funny how the littlest things can make a room seem more polished or finished? adding a few accessories to the nook above the hallway was a real game-changer for me.

updated tour: upstairs living room.

one of our biggest oversights that we didn’t notice until, well, now, is that in our initial home tour {see the bathrooms, the kitchen and eat-in area, L’s room, the master bedroom, the laundry room, the guest bedroom, the exterior and the lower level}, we never showed you our upstairs living room!

this room has gone through a TON of changes since we moved in last summer, but here’s the current state of the room (and my, does it make us happy!):


this is the view of the room as you walk up the stairs and turn to your left; the kitchen is completely open to this room, and is located behind the couch in this photo.

we recently mounted our 40″ television on the wall upstairs, and while we plan to conceal the cord inside the wall (much like this), we haven’t had a chance to get this done yet. the antique grey-washed desk (below the television in the corner) was a recent find at a local small-town collectibles shop. i have yet to style this desk – ideas, anyone?

the large bookshelf in the room is a workhorse, and it’s from IKEA – it’s one of the Expedit pieces, and it’s one of our favorite inexpensive but hard-working storage pieces in our home. i’ve recently restyled the bookcase – it’s still quite cramped and a bit busy, but it’s certainly better than it was; i’ll be giving more details on my inspiration for restyling this bookcase soon!

the grey furniture (complete with button detail, as you’ll see in the photo of the chair a few pictures down) is a find from a local furniture mart – i fell in love almost instantly with the vintage lines of the pieces. the rocking chair and the footstool have been transferred from L’s nursery to this space; both were given to me by my mother when L was born.


pictured above is the blue console table that i told you about in this post; we previously utilized this versatile piece as L’s changing table in his nursery, but we repainted it (in BM’s Blue Lake) before moving it into this room.


See the button detailing on the chair back? I love that. The rug below, which was also originally in L’s nursery, is an inexpensive rug from Urban Outfitters.



here’s a closer look at the rocking chair and photo vignette in the corner; the fridge is on the other side of the wall of the large black scroll frame. Also, how cute were Jord and i on our wedding day? {for more wedding pictures, see our wedding page!}

as i mentioned earlier, this bookcase has been such a hard-working storage piece for us, ever since we brought it home from IKEA three years ago. the four bottom “cubes” are all reserved for L’s books and toys – he used to require the bottom eight “cubes,” but we’ve done some purging and rearranging, so his toy collection is more manageable. surprisingly, he largely leaves “mama’s books” alone (the ones on the third tier of “cubes,” which are in his reach), but it’s only been a few weeks since we’ve changed the layout of the bookcase – we’ll see how it goes!

one final “corner” of the living room to show you, and it’s all L’s:



L’s grandparents gifted him this adorable Melissa & Doug wooden table and chair set for Christmas, and L’s had a complete blast sitting down and leaping up out of the chairs. he has already shared a meal with his cousin (who is older by just four months) at the table, and it was the ideal size for both boys. he enjoys having a space that’s just his size!

of course, i wouldn’t be me if i didn’t have a wealth of plans for this space, including repainting the walls from the (boring!) shade of taupe to something deeper and crisper (knowing me, it’ll be grey!) and adding a built-in window seat in front of the window, but this space feels more finished than any other room in the house (apart from L’s room, which is coming along nicely as well). i’d love to someday install hand-scraped hardwood floors and replace the graphic area rug with something larger and more natural (jute?), but the current flooring situation is ideal for our growing family; with little L on the loose (and hopefully more to come someday), it’s nice to have soft carpeting to shield their tender, crawling knees.

what’s the most “finished” room in your home? are you a person who feels like your home is never truly “done,” or have you thrown up your hands in victory already? i swear, i’ll still be tweaking things when i’m ninety years old…

a few little updates.

today, i thought i’d share a few small-scale updates that we’ve made around the house.

update no. 1: we’ve made a few additions to our small-scale gallery wall in the upstairs hallway. layout-wise, these frames are hung at the end of the hallway upstairs; L’s room is to the left, and the master bedroom is to the right.


the frame at the top right features a map of Seattle, one of Jord and my most favorite places, and the destination of our honeymoon redo in 2011. we became quickly entranced by the city, and i can’t wait to return (for a solo trip this time!) in April – more on that to come.

update no. 2: after seeing this adorableness on Pinterest, i had to duplicate the same look in our kitchen:



i’d love to paint or add color to the cake stand (which is a World Market find), but for now, this adds an eensy bit of charm to doing the dishes – or at least that’s what i’d think if i ever did the dishes…

update no. 3: we hung some canvases of L around the house because, well, he’s our boy, and he’s the most adorable little guy to us. my aunt joked that she’ll be anxious to see if our future kiddos get the same love all over our walls when they join our family someday, but i’m confident that if our future kiddos are as cute as L, they’ll be blanketing the walls of this place.

here’s an arrangement of canvases that span the staircase down to the lower level:



update no. 4: when L was born, he was blessed with one awesome changing table, a find that i explained in this post of yore. since he’s grown, we’ve repurposed his changing table as a console table of sorts in our living room upstairs. since our color scheme upstairs doesn’t include such a bright hue of lime, the table needed a fresh coat of paint.

as i’ve mentioned before, i’m a big fan of the punch of color that our freshly painted blue entry doors offer to our entryway, so BM’s Blue Lake was the obvious choice when repainting the table.

here’s the table in L’s nursery, shortly after he was born {photo by Creative Kindling}:


and now, take a look at the repainted table in action in our living room:


We love how the fun punch of color adds personality and flair to the room. Our living room upstairs is looking quite different these days, so look for an updated tour soon!

The fun (and smudged – sorry!) mirror is from IKEA, and the lamp, tray and decorative wicker balls are all clearance finds at Target. The black velour floor pillows are from a few seasons back at Target.

update no. 5: we ditched the builder-grade mirror in the upstairs bathroom in favor of a rectangle-shaped mirror in a black scroll finish.

here’s the before:


and here’s what our loo looks like today:


i suspect that we will eventually ditch the black finish on this mirror in favor of something more metallic, (especially if i convince Jord that we should paint the bathroom navy and add white beadboard – wouldn’t our large, chunky mirror refinished in gold or silver look fabulous?), but i’m loving the change for now.

what small-scale updates are you making around your home these days? i’m still on the hunt for some throw pillows with fun graphic prints that won’t require me to sell my soul away…any leads?