The Living Room Reveal!

Boral Old Country Fieldstone Fireplace

A few months ago, I was sharing the video tour of this house, unsure of whether or not it would one day be ours. But here we are! Halfway finished with a complete redo of the first floor. A lot of you were surprised I had chosen an ’80s house, and to be honest, so was I. The home we visited with the sunken conversation pit? I was sure about that one. It was meant for me. Or maybe not, because someone else put in an offer before we had a chance. Que sera, sera, I guess! The location and floorplan of this home is probably better for our family, so I’m telling myself that it’s a good thing we missed out on the other groovy pad.

Check out our fireplace makeover and the full living room reveal at A Beautiful Mess.

MandiMakes living room makeover before

There are four reasons we confidently chose this house. The location is just down the road from the major shopping area, and I’m constantly running to the store for supplies in the midst of projects I for for my work. Plus it’s just convenient! The school district is the best in our area, and I honestly never thought I’d be able to afford a house of this size in this school district, but I guess we we just at the right place at the right time. Also, we felt pretty safe about a home built in the late ’80s being up to code without surprises with plumbing or electrical. The floor plan was a little odd, and had been slightly changed by the previous owners to close off the front sitting room and dining room, but it was perfect for our needs to have both a study and an office, as well as a closed-off yet centrally located playroom. And lastly, there were enough features that I loved about the base of this home that I knew it could be awesome with some cosmetic changes— for instance, the living room opening up to the kitchen/dining room was nice, but also I loved the bright light from all of the windows and skylights.

media center makeover

I shared my ideas a bit in the original video tour of the house, but things changed. Here is my first and second post about the living room planning and progress where I discuss my thoughts behind various options. I’m happy I went with a lighter floor in here because it added to the bright and limitless feeling I wanted for this space.

A fresh coat of Benjamin Moore’s Super White made a huge impact in the space, but obviously the transformation of the fireplace wall was super dramatic! I think it’s the best decision we’ve made for this home makeover. I actually didn’t do any demo on the fireplace wall (besides removing the mantle and carpet), instead I chose to cover up the brick with an affordable manufactured stone veneer product called Cultured Stone by Boral. I wanted a warm neutral stone with some variety in its mix, adding textural interest and even pattern to such a starkly bright white room.

Check out all of the details about the fireplace makeover at A Beautiful Mess.

after demolition

built-in nook shelving

Over at A Beautiful Mess today, you can read the entire post with even more photos of our living room reveal. I shared a lot of the thought process behind the choices for the space and talked a bit about how I define our home’s style.

You can also check out the reveal of our adjacent sunroom I shared this past fall. And next up with be the final reveal of our kitchen!

joybird taylor golden sectional

Mandi's Living Room Before and After

I was so glad we finished this space in time to decorate for Christmas and spin some of my favorite holiday records. It really made the long wait worth it! It’s also fun to see the kids enjoy the records so much, and I have to admit, I hope it contributes to a lifelong love of music for them.

media center fireplace wall

At this point in the renovation game, I’ve learned quite a few things, but the biggest piece of advice I can give is to just take things one room at a time! It can be so hard to live in a home where so many rooms are in upheaval. Not only that, but making so many decisions at once can be overwhelming and lead to bad decisions.

If you’re doing the work yourself, like we did, I’d also recommend finishing one room before beginning on another, or certain rooms can just drag on forever! For me, that has been our kitchen. I was almost finished with it at the beginning of Fall, but I literally just have two final details I haven’t been able to finish up because of the pressure to finish other rooms as well. It just became too overwhelming and I felt myself begin to shut down.

My dad retired from his career a couple of weeks ago, and I know he enjoys working on home projects, so I’m hoping having him more available will give me the motivation I need to get a second wind!

Mandi's Living Room Before and After


halloween toastWall paint: Benjamin Moore’s Super White
Fireplace stone: Boral Cultured Stone Old Country Fieldstone in Summit Peak
Flooring: Lumber Liquidators engineered bamboo
White Ardex: eBay
Large area rug: Lulu & Georgia
Sofa: Welles sectional from Joybird
Glass side table: All Modern
Coffee Table: Chairish
White chairs: 1st Dibs
White side table between chairs: LexMod
Credenza: vintage Broyhill Brasilia from Main St. Modern in Canton, Ohio
Black swing-arm wall sconce: Hayneedle
Curtain rods: IKEA
Curtains: HomeGoods
Hearth cushions: Deal Genius
Sunroom wicker chair: vintage from Main St. Modern in Canton, Ohio
Sunroom table: Lexmod
Sunroom rug: Amazon
Sunroom wall planters: West Elm
Watercolor Louise Brooks portrait on credenza: original from German artist Galerie Minimal on Etsy
Large neutral art created by my girls
Decorative trays: Home Goods
Vases, floor lamps, bar cart, photobooth panel, yellow op art, and little girl portrait are vintage.

Our Home for the Holidays

Modern Christmas Decor

It took me a few weeks longer than I wanted, but I did it! I decorated our home for Christmas. Errr… make that, I decorated our living room and parts of our kitchen for Christmas. I’m excited to share the before/after of our living room with you, but consider this a very generous, festive look at the “after” before my detailed post goes live in a week or two!

I had hoped to have most of our first floor renovations complete before the holidays, because decorating for Christmas is one of my greatest joys. But we were able to finish up the living room this December and at least make one room merry and bright! I’m very much looking forward to when our entryway will be completed next Christmas. Draping garland on a stairway railing has been a lifelong dream of mine that I’ll finally be able to accomplish! We didn’t have stairs at our last house, or a mantle, so I sort of felt jipped every Christmas. Funny enough, though I designed this fireplace in our new home, I opted against using a mantle. But! At least I have stair railings.

Modern Christmas Decor

When I shared our Christmas tree on Instagram stories in November, I received a bunch of messages asking where we got it. This is actually the large version of the small trees we had on our dining room cabinet last year. (Check out last year’s decor here.) It’s 9′ tall, though the bottom is pretty far off the ground, so it doesn’t feel super large. I found this silver feather tree on Wayfair, and there are multiple sizes available. (We have three different sizes because I love it that much!) It’s not called a “tinsel tree” or an “aluminum tree,” so I just just stumbled on it when looking for champagne trees, and am so glad! It’s absolutely perfect for our home.

We will be using our old tree in another room next year when more spaces are complete. But this year, we have this one tree, and it feels pretty magical.

Modern Christmas Decor

Our sunroom is kind of chilly this time of year, so we don’t spend much time in here, though it’s warm enough that my plants are happy. I have draped some bead and homemade pom pom garlands over the door and hung my favorite glittery peace wreath in front of the doors. The doors stay closed most of the time, but I opened them for this cozy photo!

Modern Christmas Decor

When Phil and I were newlyweds, I used a lot of red and green in our home’s decor all through the year, so it felt natural to use a lot of it at Christmastime. But now that I’ve honed my home’s style a bit more and have gathered favorite things through the years, I have a more specific vision of festive decor, and surprise! It’s mostly neutral. I like to use lots of white and winter themed items, because we can keep them up longer, but also because it fits my home’s style. I also add more glam this time of year because, well, ’tis the season! Disco balls, glitter, and silver tinsel aren’t things you’ll see me use any other time of year, but it would seem I can’t get enough of it at Christmas!

Next year I may add more natural elements like homemade cedar garland, but we’ll see how the spirit moves me. :) More rooms will be ready, so I may even do different themes in different rooms! Am I a little Christmas crazy? Why yes, yes I am.

Modern Christmas Decor

Modern Christmas Decor

I found these paper globe lantern lights at Target, and bought the last three they had in stock. No regrets! I’m only using one in the living room for Christmas cheer, but I plan on using the other strings year-round in the kiddo spaces of our home when those are complete. They’re so fun, glowing and cozy in the evening, but when they’re unplugged, they still look nice hanging there by the window!

The silver peace wreath hanging on our french doors was found at World Market a year or two ago. But I saw a friend of mine made her own myrtle version this year, and I thought it was perfect!

Modern Christmas Decor

Modern Christmas Decor

Our new TV is hung by the chimney with care, but the stocking are still tucked away, because, well, I had planned to hang them on the stair rail, and as you know, the entryway isn’t looking very festive just yet. But! We are just so elated to be able to gather in our finished living room to watch Christmas movies and read Christmas books together as a family. We watched my childhood favorite, The Muppet Christmas Carol, with the kids over the weekend, and it was a smashing success. 

What’s your family’s favorite movie to watch this time of year? We love the Polar Express too, but I’m still looking for a really good one about baby Jesus. In the meantime we love that A Christmas Carol teaches about the perils of greed and the joy of giving. xo

Modern Christmas Decor

Kitchen Shelving + Holiday Table Decor

DIY open shelving wall

At long last, I’m ready to share the full tutorial+tips for building this wall of shelving! I built this entire thing completely by myself, and yes, you can too! I was able to use construction-grade pine lumber, but a lot of elbow grease and a few tricks helped make them look much nicer. I shared the entire process at A Beautiful Mess, so head on over to check it out if you’re keen!

Another fun project I shared at A Beautiful Mess this week is this fun mandarin tower table centerpiece. This craft was a huge hit at our house, as Lucy was able to make one without any help from me (shocked my socks off!), and the girls loved plucking mandarins from the tree to have for a snack.

fruit tower table decor

fruit tower table decor

We’re hosting a gathering on New Year’s Eve, and I think we’ll make a couple more towers for decorating our snack spread. They look so fancy, but they’re simple and economical to make.

open wood shelves kitchen

Same for my shelving system! Well, okay, so it’s not exactly simple. But as far as woodworking goes, this is pretty straight forward. If you end up building something similar in your own home, I’d love for you to share it with me!

We’re very eager to finish up the last details of the kitchen project, which seems to be dragging on and on. It’s so tricky when you’re working on two spaces at once. We also have just finished up the living room completely (!!!!) and I’m sooo excited to share that with you very soon. Home renovations are exciting, but man, they are all-consuming. I’m ready to finally decorate for the holidays and take a little breather from all the drywall dust everywhere!

DIY shelving system

DIY open shelving wall