{Beautiful Houses} Newport Beach

I am completely officially house project over whemed!  Stressed OUT!

I know…I know, in my last post I said that I was going to share the latest projects, but I can’t decide where to start.  I have about 3 projects that I am getting started on/need to continue, AND then there is the yard, which stresses me out even more.  I thought I wasn’t going to have to deal with the yard until at least April, but then it went and got sunny.  Suddenly all the bulbs are starting to pop up, and our yard has yet to recover from our wall repair and new fence last fall.  They back dug the wall to put in drain rock, and all the dirt is filled with rocks and now spread across what used to be our lawn.

I thought I’d just catch you up on how fast my head is spinning!  So…it was such a wonderful change of pace to fly south for a few days to visit my aunt.  There are some absolutely gorgeous houses in her neighborhood, which I thought I’d share.

When I’m overwhelmed with my own home, I like to lose myself in others!  Ah!  All the inspiration!

BetterRemade I Beautiful Houses

BetterRemade I Beautiful Houses

BetterRemade I Beautiful Houses

BetterRemade I Beautiful Houses

BetterRemade I Beautiful Houses

BetterRemade I Beautiful HousesLove this one so much, I had to share another view!BetterRemade I Beautiful Houses

BetterRemade I Beautiful HousesAhh!  LOVE THEM ALL!  You can definitely tell what design aesthetic I am drawn toward…I know, they all look alike after a while.  But they make me forget about the “in progress” disasters I have here in this place.

But I promise…no more hiding.  While I know some of our projects aren’t going to be quick, I should get started sharing updates in the hope that it will keep me accountable and pressure me to keep going!!

Side note – I realize as I keep scrolling through these, I LOVE a big tree in the front yard.  I’ll have to keep that in mind as I deal with the yard.

Have a good rest of the week!

{Update} Kitchen and Concrete Countertops

I’m at a bit of a pause on the kitchen.  I laid out a bunch of options (here) that I was trying to decide between, and haven’t completed my decision making yet.  I’ve finished the wall color, but have yet to do the cabinets.  I did what I always do…I narrowed down my top 2 – white walls, dark lower cabinet and dark walls, and white lowers.  Thought about it, thought about it, and then thought about it some more, and then on a total whim I went in a completely different direction…

Here was my before…all white.

IMG_5394As I previously mentioned, the one downside with the white was that it made the cabinets look dingy.  So the white was out.  But I still wanted to keep the option of dark lowers, so I went with a light green with some grey tones.  Benjamin Moore – Healing Aloe.


IMG_6150The Healing Aloe was a bit light, almost like it wasn’t really a color…or it wasn’t enough of a any color.  Does that make sense?  With all the light streaming in from the windows, it was super washed out.  And then this popped up on my pinboard.

Better Remade Benjamin Moore 2014 GreensThe Palladian Blue was so close to what I was going for!  Here they are side by side:

better remade - paint colorsSo I thought, let’s get all 2014 trendy!  (I’m never trendy!)

The Palladian Blue seemed like a good step toward being more of a color, so repainting I went!  Luckily, I hadn’t done all the edges or behind the refrigerator.

Better Remade I BM Palladian Blue

Better Remade I  BM Palladian Blue Can you tell the difference? :) Hard to tell.  Definitely looks darker facing the dining room.  I’m liking the color quite a bit.  It’s a happy color.  I don’t tend to go with happy colors, but I like this one.

And as for the cabinets, I will have to wait until the spring to complete that.  It’s so cold out that paint isn’t drying in the garage.  While working on the play table, I’d bring it inside between each coat to fully dry.  I don’t think I want to deal with that with a dozen cabinet doors.

And then there are the concrete counters, DIY’d here, back in September.   I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how they have been.  I am still undecided.  I originally did about 3 or 4 coats of the feather finish, and then 3 coats of sealer.  Within weeks, everything started soaking right into the concrete.  The counter space along the stove top is the worst.

Better Remade concrete counter update IMG_6168And then there was the night that we decided to use a deep fryer to make tempura.  As the night progressed, it turned into fried Oreos, obviously.  So, we are now left with this.   It’s totally fine.  I knew this was experimental, and this was bound to happen.  And to be honest, it doesn’t really bother me.  It should, but it doesn’t…you live, you learn.


This is the one spot that still looks good, mainly because it is where I usually have a towel laid for drying pots and pans.  It doesn’t get much action.  Better Remade concrete counter update

So…what I am I going to do about the counters?  I have more feather finish that I was planning on mixing up and doing one more thin layer.  There are a few spots along the edges that didn’t take, so I was planning on getting it out and rebuilding those areas anyway.  And then I just read that John and Sherry are going to be attempting the same thing in their kitchen.  I think I am going to wait and see what sealer they use.  I also got some great suggestions from readers, so I am going to look into those as well!  That’s probably why I am not super bothered by the oil stains.  Plus I look at the counter and have fond memories of sushi, sake, and fried oreos!

That’s what’s going on here!  While the kitchen is on hiatus, I’m going to move my focus upstairs!  I’ll be back next week with the mess that is our upstairs!

Happy Holidays!

I had grands plans of getting some projects completed and posted this week, but instead I’ve been relaxing and enjoying the season.  So until then…

Better Remade I  Happy Holidays


Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and see you in the new year!

{DIY} Holiday Felt Garland

I’m going to be honest about this post.  I made the garland last year, but couldn’t actually get myself to put a post together before the holidays.  So I am finishing it off this year.

One reason I love the holiday season is because it totally inspires me to make charming little holiday decorations!  Last year, I made these felt trees.

Better Remade - DIY felt christmas treeAnd this year, I have made felt poinsettia garland.

Better Remade - Felt poinsettia garland

My inspiration was found in the West Elm catalog.

west elm garland

I know…looks very similar.  I barely have the time to get crafts done, and definitely don’t have time to come up with them myself…so sometimes I just put my own minimal spin on them!

Better Remade - felt flowersFirst I cut out a bunch of flower shapes using a tag board template, I did some larger and some smaller.

Then I made little pom poms by wrapping butcher twine around my fingers about 15 times and then using thread, I cinched it at opposite sides,Better Remade - how to make a pompom tightly tied the thread in to a knot,Better Remade - how to make a pompom And then cut the twine about 3/8 inch from threaded cinch and fluffed it a bit.Better Remade - Felt poinsettia garland And lastly using needle and thread, I sewed the little pom pom through the felt flower and around some jute twine.Better Remade - Felt poinsettia garlandI envisioned putting it around the tree, but decided 10 flowers was enough for me, and it goes perfectly around the doorway!

Better Remade - Felt poinsettia garland

It’s not super holiday-ish so it can easily stay up all year round…which of course mine did!

Have you found any great Holiday crafts?!

{DIY} Coffee Table Play Top

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We flew out to Washington DC to visit my brother in-law.  Jesse’s family all flew out, so we were all able to spend it together.  It was a great trip with a very relaxed trip into the city.  Lucy is still a bit young for the Natural History Museum and slept through all the dinosaur bones…next time she’ll love it.   As for the flights, which I was totally dreading, they went very smoothly.  Some how, miraculously, Alaska Airlines was able to give us an extra seat for Lucy.  It made all the difference in the world.  I can’t even imagine how the flights would have gone if she didn’t have the car seat to be buckled into.  So I owe our Thanksgiving traveling success to Alaska Airlines! :)

Now we are back, and back to getting things done!

Remember a few years ago I did  The Great Coffee Table Switch-up, well it’s been switched up again!  Here is the living room with our coffee table, which sadly we moved out to the garage while Lucy was perfecting her footing.

Better Remade It’s been great having an open living room, but there is no where to set anything down.

Better RemadeAnd then there is the play table that my parents have Lucy for her birthday.  It’s a bit bigger though than either of us realized and this corner was really the only option.  I wanted it in a “public area” space where Lucy could play and I could keep my eye on her.  The down side is that it’s hard to get around the table.  And I have plans to build a china cabinet and together it’d be way to crowded.


I came to the realization that the best solution was a coffee/play table, but not a permanent one.  It’s the perfect height and I still need to have a grown-up coffee table when I have grown-up parties :)  So I decided a removable top was the perfect solution, and would be able to slide under the couch for storage.  AND it would protect the coffee table top from Lucy’s abuse and tendencies to bang things on it.

Initially I thought I’d have wood in the garage, but unfortunately I was about an inch low on length.  It’s a total bummer when you have to purchase new wood for only being an inch short.  So close!  I ended up having to purchase a 4×8′ piece of 15/32″ plywood.  Oh well, I guess!  I’ll have some for the next project.  I cut the plywood to about 1/8-1/4″ over the dimensions of the coffee table top to allow the play table top to just barely cover.  Then using molding I framed the plywood top to hold it in place.  I nailed it with a 3/8″ lip to help hold toys on the table.  And incidentally the lip has been helpful for Lucy to use when pulling herself onto the table.

Better Remade I Play top coffee table

Better Remade I Play top coffee tableAfter priming the top, the next step was to paint a landscape.  Now I wouldn’t recommend what I did next.  I used tempera paint.  I should have used a higher quality paint, but I had tempera paint, I don’t even remember why, and I didn’t want to buy more paint.  It was easy enough to paint with, but in some places got a little crackly.  It also dries a bit chalky.

Better Remade I Play top coffee tableThe chalkiness didn’t really matter luckily because I put about 3 coats of high gloss polyurethane over the top, and took the chalkiness right out of the tempera paint.

Better Remade I Play top coffee tableHere is is finished, and in use!

Better Remade I Play top coffee tableIt’s perfect for Lucy’s little wooden London set!

Better Remade I Play top coffee table  Better Remade I Play top coffee table

photoAnd it comes right off and slides underneath the couch!  Though it hasn’t actually come off…what’s the point?!

Better Remade I Play top coffee tableAnd because I need to keep it honest…here is our living room in reality.  It’s not fair to post photos of the house after a mad dash cleaning blitz during nap time ;)

photoIt’s a great easy solution for an inexpensive easily removable play table!

{Beautiful Houses} Gearhart Oregon

We just barely got back from our trip to the UK, and before I knew it we were off again to the the Oregon coast for our yearly trip to celebrate Nicole’s birthday!  Most of our trip was spent relaxing, drinking, and playing games which was absolutely the most perfect way to spent a stormy weekend.  But while the stormy clouds briefly parted, I ran out to do my other favorite thing…drool at the beautiful beach houses!

BetterRemade I Beach HousesGearhart Downtown

I’ve opted not to do captions for each photos…for your sake.  Each caption would be “Oh my gosh, this one is beautiful!” “I love this one!” “Isn’t that gorgeous!” “I want a house like that!” That’s pretty much all I said to Jesse as we walked down the narrow streets.  He was a good sport and just kept replying “yeah, that’s pretty.”

So I will just cover all the houses by saying, I love them all!  They are beautiful and gorgeous, and I dream of having a grey cedar shingled house with hydrangeas and a big porch!

BetterRemade I Beach Houses

BetterRemade I Beach HousesAh!  Hydrangeas!BetterRemade I Beach Houses BetterRemade I Beach Houses BetterRemade I Beach Houses  BetterRemade I Beach Houses BetterRemade I Beach Houses BetterRemade I Beach Houses BetterRemade I Beach Houses BetterRemade I Beach Houses

And for a few beach shots!  Lucy had a great time at the beach, although she didn’t seem to notice that it was considerably colder than the last time she was at the beach and swimming was not happening.   We basically ran interference.  You can see in the second picture, she was not thrilled about that.BetterRemade I Beach Houses BetterRemade I Beach Houses BetterRemade I Beach HousesIt was a wonderful weekend!  And now we are back and re-grouping.  And I am back to work on my long list of projects!   I have one just almost complete and ready to post!

Have a great week!

{Kitchen} Cabinet Colors and Off Topic Fencing

You can scroll through my ramblings and photos – but I need advice at the end!

A few years ago this was my dream kitchen inspiration.

original inspirationAnd this is where I am now:

IMG_5394I’m still very much in love with my original inspiration, along with these:

better remade I Kitchen inspiration{the marion house book}

better remade I Kitchen inspiration{house and home}

better remade I Kitchen inspiration

better remade I Kitchen inspiration{house and home}

My plan from the beginning was to go dark on the lower cabinets, but once the counters went grey I started to rethink dark lowers…Would it be too grey?   So I did what needed to be done – I photoshopped.  Kind of poorly, I’ll admit. :)

All White – no photoshopping:

IMG_5394White Lowers with Benjamin Moore Sylvan Mist on the walls:

mist wall white lowerWhite Lowers with Benjamin Moore After Midnight on the walls:

grey wall white cabinetBenjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal on the lowers and white walls:

(the kitchen cart is kendall charcoal)

grey lower white wallBenjamin Moore After Midnight on the lowers and white walls:

white wall navy cabinetBenjamin Moore After Midnight on the lowers and Ice Milk walls:

cream wall navy cabinetCan you tell I stumbled upon a BM color palette that sucked me right in? :)

bm colorsSo, let me just narrow it down.  After doing the photoshopping These are my top 2:

Better Remade I top picsI guess I can say that I am drawn to contrast.  The windows are so big that I could definitely get away with going dark.  And after looking through my inspiration, I think that a super dark navy would look really sharp.  I really like the the kendall charcoal, again on the kitchen cart, but I almost feel like it might be a bit safe choice.  Now I am a safe person, but part of me wants to go out on a limb and try something daring, and bold.  I know, Is it really that daring? :)

And then part of me is telling myself to stick with white because it’s classic and might be better for resale…and then in that case, I could just go bold and sharp on the walls.

Ah…help please!  Which should I go with?

And just for a quick update, for anyone that is curious about our fencing endeavors.   We busted our butts and got a new fence up along the 140′ side of our property.  It went much quicker than I thought and really wasn’t too bad, especially when you figure it saved us 4K.  Now if only someone would give me that cash!!!

photo 1 photo 2 photo 5photo 5But I hope I didn’t distract!  Back to color advice, I need it!! :)

{Kitchen} Subway Tile Backsplash

I made progress last week.  Well, the past few weeks.  2 weeks ago I did all the tiling, grouting, and sealing.  This week I painted.  Though I am not finished with the walls, I have to take a small break while I collect my thoughts and ideas.  And because our next two weeks are devoted to demolishing a fence, having our yard excavated, a retaining wall rebuilt and the fence rebuilt.  We’ve hired out the wall repair, but are tackling the fence ourselves.  It was about $4,000 more to hire out :(  We’ve given ourselves a ridiculously tight time frame.  We have to get the fence rebuilt by the end of next week because Jesse and I are going to the UK for about 10 days.  Our yard needs to be put back together for our house sitters and more importantly the fence needs to be up for the dog.  You can agree, my mini kitchen make-over wasn’t the best timed project, though it’s become my happy place amongst the chaos!

IMG_5405I wanted to keep the wall paint light, and looking at my pinterest boards the common theme was white.  That then of course leads to the next question of what shade of white.  I picked a white that had a little grey mixed in.  I had hoped that it would help pull in the concrete counters, but instead a few other issues arose.  First – I can’t help but feel like it looks like primer.  I should point out that I only painted the wall in the photo below.  The wall in the photo above does, in fact, only have primer.  And second – the white of the walls is too white and makes the trim look dirty.  I have to say though, the pictures make it look better than it is.

IMG_5400Quick Before

IMG_5369 IMG_5376And back to the after progressIMG_5393

IMG_5394I did have a big set back as I was replacing all the outlet covers.  You can see in the picture below, there is a small gap between the cover and the tile!  I seriously was about to scream.   My tiling supplies had been put away for over a week, and I had no interest in getting them back out.  And that type of cut is a huge pain.  But I know that it would haunt me if I left it.  It would whisper my name each time I’d enter the kitchen, and I would try to look away, but I’d just stare.  So to nip that, I replaced the tile.  Luckily I still had the tile cutter and had yet to return my tile surplus.

photo 1Using a screw driver (as my chisel) and a hammer I chiseled the tile out.  It came out in the form of about 50 little chards.  Once out, the surface was in pretty good condition and I was able to mix a little mortar, and more importantly, I cut a new tile on my first attempt.  I have to say…I don’t want to toot my own horn…but I’ve gotten pretty good at cutting tiles.  It seems a little sad that I’m done with tiling…a waste of talent :)photo 2

IMG_5413Now all my tiles are in, and I need to figure out wall color.  I’ll post my thoughts next week!  I’ll try to get my act together and do some photoshopping!  It’ll be big! :)


{Kitchen} DIY Concrete Countertop

So after finishing tiling the bathroom floor, I was on a tiling high and thought it’d be a good idea to keep up the momentum and get going on the kitchen.  We have a great kitchen – I like the blue, but don’t LOVE it.  And I LOVE the subway tile in the shower.  Unfortunately I can’t spend that much time in the shower looking at it longingly.  BUT if it were in the kitchen I probably could.



I’ve been stalling on the backsplash for a while now because I figured it made the most sense to focus first on the counter top.  And unfortunately we don’t have a budget for the kitchen right now.  I’d LOVE carrara marble, which would be GORGEOUS, but it ain’t going to happen!!  So what’s left?  (I know, there are a lot of options) I like the look of butcher block, but the thought of tearing everything out sounded exhausting and much more of a big scale project.  And I’d kind of like to keep my options open for doing something I truly love down the road.  My friend just mentioned porcelain counter tops – I’m intrigued!  But will have to revisit that idea later.

I was thrilled when I saw Kara Paslay‘s tutorial on DIY concrete countertops.  This seemed like the absolute perfect solution!  It was cheap, and I like the look of concrete counter tops.  My fate was sealed with Jenny followed suite and refinished her laundry room counter top.

It’s slightly experimental, but figured if this didn’t work, I always had IKEA butch block to fall back on.

So like most of my projects, it started at nap time.  I knew before I did any tiling, I’d have to prime the walls…that happened first.

photo 1

Then with Lucy still asleep, I thought to myself, “I wonder how easily the checkered tiles will come off the wall.”  And then within 30 minutes they were all down.  And more surprisingly, Lucy didn’t wake up, even when I was hammering a crowbar down on the tiles.  I guess I must have to hammering gently.

photo 2 photo 3

That was finished by noon and once Lucy was up, it was time for an outing.  I figured I might as well go buy the concrete material.

Kara recommended Ardex Feather Finish, but when I called Ardex to find out where I could buy it locally they told me that it wasn’t available at retails stores and I would have to buy it through a construction company.  Then I found that Home Depot carried a brand, Henry, (has been discontinued) with Ardex technology.  The specs guy at Ardex said that that would work just fine, so I picked up a few boxes…and then crossed my fingers and got started!

It’s pretty easy…as long as you aren’t a perfectionist.  To start I sanded down all the laminate using a pretty rough low grit sand paper, then once all the dust was cleaned off, I spread a thin layer of feather finish over the surface.

photo 4It was basically layer on, sand smooth, layer on, sand smooth, etc.  I did about 3 coats, and then left if over night.

photo 2(1)Then I went over it with a fine sanding pad and did one more thin layer to get a few of the unlevel spots, edges, or where the white counter was peaking through.

photo 5I say that you can’t be a perfectionist because this will make you absolutely crazy trying to make it perfect!  I keep trying to level everything so that there were absolutely no seams or visible lines between trowel sweeps.  Finally I just say, “this is concrete, it’s not supposed to be 100% consistent and smooth, it’s rough, embrace it.”

Next step – sealing.photo 1(1)I

IMG_5387You can definitely see here what I mean about the visibility between layers.  I think if once a layer was partially dry and the next went on, they’d end up slightly different.  A few little air bubbles, lower right of photo, appeared where it went on thicker.   It’s more along the edges, so I decided to be ok with it.

**spoiler alert**

Jesse came home after I sealed the counter tops.  I told him they weren’t quite dry, and to be super careful.  He cooked some potstickers on the stove and this is what I found the next morning.

photo 1 copyOil splatters!!  These counters aren’t looking good for us.  They might not fit our “lifestyle.”  The protected very well against everything else – water, coffee, red wine…but not oil.  I even dropped a bit of peanut butter, and it sucked right in the oils.

I left them for now because I need to move on to tiling.  I’m borrowing a saw that I’ve had for too long, so on to the backsplash, and then I’ll come back to the counters.  I’ll probably do a light sanding, new feather finish, seal, and then try waxing them as well.  I’ve been researching! :)


PS – I’m a little behind on posting.  You might notice in my instagram feed I’ve already finished the backsplash – but I swear it takes just as long to put a post together!  I’ll have the subway tile back splash up next week!

Stay tuned!

{Bathroom} Tile Floor Finished!!

Let me just start by saying…this went VERY well!  I’m nervous to take each step for fear of the unknown.  I had a bunch of extra materials incase I had to rip out the sub floor and rebuild…but I didnt!  And I as able to screw down a brand new toilet flange without any modifications.  I was afraid that I was going to end up having to make an emergency call to a plumber, but nope!  Piece of cake.  Turns out – installing a new toilet was the easiest step in the whole process!

This is where I left off:

Better Remade

I had removed the linoleum and half of the top layer of sub floor.  I couldn’t finish until I was ready to commit!  The toilet had to come out and since it’s our only one, as soon as it was out…I had to move fast!  The toilet came out on Sunday morning and it was go time!IMG_6148

You can see in the photo below where the repairs had been made for the old water damage.  It was nice to find.  The inspectors said it had been repaired but never said how.  I was afraid that the top layer was just put over the damage, but instead the damaged ship laps were replaced.  Made my job easier! IMG_6150

Once I screwed down the floor down the the joists for extra security, I laid the cement board down.  You lay thin set mortar down on the sub floor and then lay the cement board, then screw it in.  But mixing the mortar means that there is a time clock!  IMG_6155

I did the tiling in 2 parts.  I got about halfway done by Sunday night and then took a dinner break.  Lucy was gone, so a dinner out was a definite YES!  Plus I could use their facilities.  2 birds with 1 stone!  I ran out of time Sunday night, so did the final tile laying Monday morning.IMG_6164

Then after giving the mortar 24 hours to dry.  I did the grout Tuesday evening as soon as I got off of work.  IMG_6170

It’s really quite amazing how much better the job looks with grout.  It just gives the tiles such a crisp clean look.  Very rewarding.

IMG_6173And after waiting an hour, we put the toilet back in!  I was amazed how well it went, I thought at the least there would be some rocking since nothing is straight.  In the how to videos they talk about using shims to level the toilet.  We didn’t even need that.  Once screwed down, there was no rocking, no leaking.  We turned the water on, and the bowl just filled.  Just seemed to work perfectly!  I’ll be honest…I’m always a bit skeptical of new installation adventures.IMG_6177Then the next day was finishing the trim and caulk.

I have a love hate relationship with caulking.  It’s amazing what it can do for crooked old houses.  Take the photo below for example.  I cut the trim at 45 degree angles.  Then when in place, either they don’t add up to 90 degrees, or the corner isn’t 90 degrees…trick question – neither are 90 degrees.  And the wall doesn’t meet the floor at 90 degrees.IMG_6256But with a little caulk, you’d never know.  But it’s sticky and gets all over.  I kept wiping with a clean rag, then it would get from the rag to the floor, to my hands, to my feet, and on the walls.  It was most maddening part of the whole job!IMG_6260After the caulking I had to wait a few days for it to dry.  Then I painted the trim, then waited a few days, and repainted/touched up the walls.

The total project was 2 weeks long, and of that only 2 days was actually tiling.  The rest was touch ups and waiting, and touch ups and waiting!

I guess I didn’t mention.  I used a cararra marble threshold between the tile and the hardwood floors.  I still need to put a small piece of wood in where I had to cut out rotted wood, but I love the marble touch.  I love the look of cararra, but couldn’t afford to do the whole floor of tub walls in it, so the threshold seemed like the perfect affordable $10 choice.

IMG_6298  IMG_6336  IMG_6342Unfortunately there are only so many angles that I can shoot in a bathroom this small.  It’s only 3.5×6.5′ so really the only option is standing in the hallway shooting directly at the window :)

So just for the sake of before and afters…

Here is the bathroom when we first moved in:

Better Remade I  Tiling beforeBathroom after paint makeover, how we’ve had it the last 3 1/2 years:

IMG_4851 Better Remade I  tub beforeAnd now:


photo 1


I feel like I am on a project spree.  I think it’s kitchen time!  We have a lot coming up this fall, so it might be tough squeezing it in.  We’ll see…I’ll keep you posted!