Emily vs. Barn

April 20, 2017   //  Posted in: Barn   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

I just set out to update the look of our barn, referring to it as my “lipstick on a pig” project. The barn–which looks like a garage but isn’t a garage since the real garage is attached to the house where we park our cars–rests at the back of our property, and for awhile was well-disguised by excessive brush. Every year we clear and prune back more and more of those weed trees, creating a cleaner line of sight to the disheveled structure, and it looks pretty bad, I’m well-aware. We’re even rocking the classy combo of rusty fence + old lawn chairs + an old gas mower held together with metal tape.

Our really, really ugly barn, pre-stain makeover.

You can barely tell from the above picture, but barn’s been a WIP since we moved in; we started in on maintaining our back acre immediately upon moving in, and now can hardly remember a time when the barn was so surrounded by leafy overgrowth that it was invisible. It’s times like this that I’m glad I photo-document all of the things.

  • In our first summer here, we rebuilt/re-shingled the roof. We meaning Pete; I was pregnant for the first time and was cool to take pictures from ground-level. The new roof was necessary as the old one had been punctured by fallen branches, consequently rotted away (an IG image from way-back!), which also left us with a rotting floor on the inside, and crumbling roof beam structure. We also evicted some vultures which gained access through that large roof hole, taking back their barn-nest.
  • In our second summer here, Pete rebuilt the floor that was rotting away, the area that had been damaged due to the holes in the roof. In the year since covering it, the subfloor and joists had a chance to dry which was helpful because we could really see ID what needed to be repaired vs. what was still structurally sound.
  • Did we do anything in our third summer? No. A mini-patio which evidenced by the above photo, really isn’t much of anything.
  • We schemed plans to completely replace the exterior of the barn during our fourth summer, but at that point I was pregnant again and it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t going to be much help lifting 4×8 sheets of T1-11 (which is what we used on the treehouse). Plus, vultures returned through a broken window and we were advised to leave their nest and eggs alone. Avoiding anything disruptive, Pete redirected his efforts to rebuilding a retaining wall, which was the project he was sweating to mere hours before I delivered our son. Yes, I snapped this a minute before I told him it was time to go to the hospital.

Rebuilding a retaining wall near our two-story barn.

Back to the pig. In an ideal DIY world, we’d spend a few days replacing shingles that are damaged or missing, replacing both doors on the upper level, repairing trim (I’m not exaggerating when I say that 99% of it needs to be replaced), and installing gutters prior to staining and painting. In our world, we’re embarking on the fifth summer in our home, and I just recently noticed that the neighbor’s beautiful patio and fire pit stare directly at our haphazardly maintained barn; oh, the horror. I’m going at it the easy route with a few gallons of stain and paint to 1) make it tolerable and borderline pretty; 2) camouflage minor issues; 3) and do a deep assessment of what actually needs to be replaced so I can tackle it slowly in coming months or years.

I’m using the same opaque stain that we used on our backyard treehouse, Oxford Brown by Olympic. It has held up really well on the treehouse, and it’ll help the now pastel yellow-colored structure blend in more to the earthy surroundings. All that’s to explain why I brought home a big 5-gallon jug of the stuff this week, which cost around $180 if you’re keeping tallies on how much it might cost to do a cheap-o makeover like this one, and insisted on getting started on this project while I had a few rain-free hours this morning. If Day 1 was any indication, I’ll need a couple of coats.

Painting a cedar shingled barn with oxford brown olympic opaque stain.

Time to get busy.



Be My Boucherouite

February 21, 2017   //  Posted in: Decor, Flooring   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

We took a week-long vacation in Casablanca, Morocco for a wedding – that was more than 4 years ago – and ever since I’ve been searching for my own moroccan area rug inspired directly by the ones we had adorning our hotel room.

The Moroccan influence was just kicking off in the states at the time, but prices on quality vintage products quickly climbed, climbed, climbed as the demand increased. Rugs priced out of my range quickly on ebay, and were priced much too high by US/Canadian/Australian resellers trying to make a quick buck off the boucherouites, beni ouarain, and azilal rugs and other vintage home textiles. Sourcing the larger sized rugs, which are hard enough to find in good condition, became like hunting for the golden ticket. Mass production seemed to take over, with manufacturers like West Elm and NuLoom producing designs intended to mimic the patterns and colors the design community was demanding, but I’ve looked at many of those, read reviews, and decided against in hopes that I’d eventually find something authentic.

When our friends returned to Morocco last year I asked them to search, sending them off with general size guidelines and promises to PayPal them cash as fast as could be, but even within local souks and with their plethora of connections, these friends had a hard time finding exactly what we were looking for – a few cool options, but not quite the coloring or scale I wanted. I continued my search online.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon by chance–I think via Instagram–and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical about buying overseas from a website that wasn’t mainstream, but I took a chance. The shop, which is based in Marrakech, London and Barcelona, has a limited inventory of unique, authentic rugs available for sale, but the products listed were well-photographed, well-described, and priced affordably compared to all other sources I’ve been monitoring. This was exciting! Many of the rugs were larger in scale too, which is what I wanted – here’s the listing for one I chose. Shortly after I placed my order I received an email directly from a guy named Marc confirming that they received my order, and he sent me the tracking info for my package – totally at ease.

Good things come in small packages; my wedding dress (j.crew via ebay) arrived in a box that was smaller than a toaster (yes, really), and I was just as surprised when the 4.5′ x 7.5′ vintage rug showed up on our porch wrapped into a bundle the size of my torso.

A vintage moroccan rug bundled in the mail.

Good packing job, Marc.

A vintage moroccan rug bundled in the mail.

The price of the rug was £310.00 or ~$375 USD + shipping, and… total heart-eyes. Perfectly imperfect, which is what you expect with a “rag rug” made of scrap fibers hand-woven into an intricate, free flowing and casually asymmetrical pattern.

Our new-to-us vintage moroccan boucherouite rug from

I’ve rotated it around into different spots in our house to see where it works best; it’s definitely at home in the bedroom, in a low-traffic spot that I still intend to accessorize with new dressers and a killer floor lamp, but until I get that space adorned it lives in front of our fireplace, serving as a soft little play area for the kids.

Our new-to-us vintage moroccan boucherouite rug from

The hunt is real, but if you’re also looking for a moroccan rug I definitely recommend looking at, as well as ebay (worth noting that US-based and well-respected sfgirlbybay has her own ebay storefront of boucherouites too). The Etsy shop BOUCHEROUITE was also one I kept a close eye on.

P.S. Here’s a quick centimeter to inches conversion tool.

Lots of Reads

February 16, 2017   //  Posted in: HGTV + DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

For awhile now I’ve been meaning to assemble a list of links so you can check out the articles I’ve been writing for other publications. A few thousand new visitors still find their way to this blog every day, to which I say “hey dudes, I write a lot over on DIY Network which is why there are fewer and fewer posts here.” I’m still all kinds of busy in the blogosphere, I promise.

Busy as I was, I took a few months hiatus from writing late last year to regroup, focus on family and the holidays, and to give myself a chance to get excited about writing again. It worked. I’m rested and rejuvenated and was ready to dive back in right after New Years. Here are a handful of articles and galleries that you can check out:

For when you’re trying to keep the kids entertained:

How to host a painting party for a group of kids. This was lots of fun, and yes we actually hosted the party as a way to validate the concept and entertain our troops. We’re totally planning another shindig.

Kid-friendly stamps made using cut branches and things like brad nails and push pins.

Hosting an indoor movie night. (Daring varieties of popcorn, big screens, comfy seating.)

Easy appetizers (5 ingredients or less!). This was originally a football inspired post, but easy snacks are a must every weekend if you’re an entertaining household.

For when you’ve caught the spring cleaning bug:

If your tool area/shed/garage is a mess, I think you’ll find this post on garage organization pretty handy.

How to clean a fabric headboard. Because be honest – when there are 5,000 things that need to be cleaned in your home, the headboard is probably not high on your list. This is a cold + flu season must-read!

The best knife rack I ever made for $0 using a chunk of scrap 1×3, plus a lazy refrigerator and other ideas bundled as organizational tips for the kitchen.

Rainbow knifes in a DIY knife rack using a piece of scrap wood.

How to clean your coffee maker. Our Keurig was so gross.

Natural ways to keep pests out of your home.

Get those rolls of gift wrap, and stack of gift bags stored away. (One of two photo galleries I prepared for HGTV.)

For those eager to get your garden started:

Herbs, herbs, herbs. (I wore myself out on pesto this year, we just finished our last freezer baggie of it last week. I am officially ready to pause until we can make it fresh again mid-summer.)

Stone garden makers. Ours have held up great, BTW.

For those interested in remodeling and decorating:

How you too can have The Smartest Door On the Block.

What you actually need to consider if you want a gas fireplace. (I overviewed our experience upgrading to one right here, for related reads.)

I can’t even tell you how many frames I’ve made myself in the last few years. Here’s how you can make your own rustic picture frame.

Decorating using postcards (namely, using the awesome WPA-inspired National Park postcard series).

WPA-inspired postcards layered under glass as desktop decor.

10 uses for icicle lights after the holiday season! (Another HGTV gallery!)

When the weather is lame… yarn bomb all of the things.

For your kitchen makeover, when to hire out, and when to consider DIY.

Where to shop for table legs! A seriously good round-up that looks beyond some of the ordinary go-to shops.

And a few other posts that I think you’d like, and might want to pin/bookmark:

How to create a baby photo series. Several of you have asked me directly if I’m doing a photo series with Sam. I may not be monitoring the milestones as closely this time around, but have been diligent enough so far to snap our weekly photos! He was born on a Sunday, so I aim for every Sunday. Below are a few… August, October, January, February. The similar series I created for his sister was my most worthwhile effort of all time. (I even made it into a hand-bound book.)

How to make your own baby photo series.

YES, you can make your own coffee creamer. Go wild.

BIG GAME BINGO. Seriously, a good, free game of Bingo can turn any non-football fan into an enthusiast. Marketed to appeal during “the big game” but honestly, good for every single football game you’ll watch all season.

A DIY Swedish Torch. Chainsaw required, but man, does that make campfires easy.