We moved into our new house the very end of August, so it just seemed natural to decorate for Fall as we were unpacking in September. Fall is my most favorite season for decorating, it's so cozy and yummy smelling and just homey. Thanksgiving came and went and it was on to Christmas decorations. Needless to say, things were hung by the fire with care and the mantel was once again dressed to impress. As we entered the new year, it truly felt like a blank canvas in our home, fresh and clean, but a little too empty.
I love living in new construction, clean toilets, crisp carpet, you get the idea, but zero character, at least in our price point. If I was to day dream about a house, it would be a big ol' craftsman oozing with character in every nook and built in. But, snap back to reality (not a bad thing, just one that needs a little character), one of the first projects we completed while still unpacking was the fireplace wood paneled wall.
Here is the before, a true blank canvas:
The builder put outlets in the wall to accommodate for a tv, it even had a spot to run the cable wires through the wall, but we came to what I think was a beautiful decision of having the tv not take center stage and instead, hang out on the side. I'm thankful the space allowed for that. Kelly tucked the outlet plate thingys into the wall, and drew pencil lines on the studs so he would know where to put the penny nails (he borrowed his dad's nail gun).
I pictured barn wood, old textured wood with a story just waiting to be told, but seeing as though I do not have a dilapidated barn, I had to get a little creative. My mother in-law had told me about a technique using vinegar and steel wool to "age" wood. I looked it up and thought I would give it a try. Initially I planned on staining pine, I thought it was the lightest and cheapest option, I figured I would have to apply several coats to let the vinegar eat away at the wood a bit, but a friend suggested using untreated cedar fence boards. Brilliant. The texture was great, the boards were light weight and extremely cost effective. I decided on a subway tile pattern with the boards. We have a classic subway tile backsplash in the kitchen and I just enjoy the clean lines and simplicity of the pattern.
I made the stain and Kelly cut the boards while the stain marinated for the recommended 24 hours.
The stain is super easy, I apologize I do not have measurements, but just go for it!
Take fresh steel wool (I found it at Home Depot), put a couple of clumps into a mason jar, fill the jar up with vinegar (I also got this at Home Depot, I read a couple of blogs with different ratios of water and vinegar, HD had a water vinegar mix in the cleaning section and it worked like a charm). I also added coffee grounds to the mix before adding the vinegar to make it darker. I opened up one of Kelly's K-Cups and sprinkled some in. Let the stinky mixture sit for 24 hours.
Voila, you have a chemical free wood stain.
When the stain was ready, I laid the wood out on a tarp in the driveway, put on some latex gloves, pulled out a clump of steel wool and started applying with the grain. At first it didn't look like anything was happening, it appeared clear with coffee grounds sprinkled on the boards, the steel wool was flaking off and I thought, what am I doing?? Thankfully, it was a hot day and the stain started drying fast and I could see the results immediately, the perfect mix of grey and brown. I applied two coats only waiting an hour between coats. Some of the boards got pretty dark, almost black (too many coffee grounds I think), so after a day or too, I did a white wash, which for me was a Nicole mix (not measured) of old white paint I had from painting our old house cabinets and water. I used sophisticated techniques of slopping it on with a paint brush and an old dish rag at times, whatever I thought was working best, and wiped it down with paper towels and more old dish rags or rather rags that became old pretty quickly. As we say, the team was happy with the results.
But, after all the holiday decor was down, it looked a little lonely up on the mantel.
So, the little guy and I went shopping today.
I visited an old friend, goes by the name Ross. I've been closer with Marshall(s) lately, it was good to catch up with Ross, he had a lot of good things...
Sadly, some of them just didn't fit.
I loved the mix of wood and amber glass, but these below didn't make the cut. I wish I would have known that when a lady stopped me in the store and said "Oh, you are the one who took both, I just went back to that aisle to get one." Sorry, awkward, sorry. Check back, I have on good authority they might be getting a couple back in.
We also found this gem, $3 people! That's a don't think about it too long, put it in your cart and make your decision deal. It was a no brainer for me, these colors work perfectly for our powder bath and this verse holds special meaning, I must have asked Kelly to say it 200 times during Levi's c-section.
When Georgiana got home from school she saw the mantel and said,
"Yes, that's definitely a keeper!"
I found two of these mini candle holders that match perfectly to the larger pair my sister gave me, but they too didn't make the cut...
So begins the internal debate, do I return them because I don't have a spot for them, or will I have the perfect spot as soon as I return them?? For now, they are staying at the house. I'll give myself a few days to think on it and move them around with price tags on their undersides.
Maybe they will be mini planters...