Category Archives: Favorite Things

Our Favorite Things: Coffered Ceilings and a Room with a View


My most recent drool-worthy item has become coffered ceilings.  If you aren’t familiar, coffered ceilings are a repeating pattern of sunken shapes, most commonly squares or rectangles.  It instantly dresses up any room and makes a big statement.  It only really works in a room with high ceilings, hence my dreams of adding them to our 12′ living room ceiling.  Hm, now I just need to convince Chris to take on the project.  That may take awhile.  In the meantime, check out these gorgeous inspiration pictures.

Source: Houzz, Dillard Design Group, LLC

Source: Houzz, Sullivan Conard Architects

Source: Pinterest

Source: Houzz, Crisp Architects

Source: Houzz, M Woodruff Design, LLC


I’m no stranger to irony. Like, I find it ironic that I can’t stand when people talk about “the lake” non-stop, but quite frankly I love lakes. I also love the ocean, but it’s dirty and full of jellyfish (I blame growing up near Galveston for that fear).

Anyway, I told Julie a long time ago that the house was basically hers, but there were three things I wouldn’t compromise on: the garage would always be mine, I will always have a project car, and we’ll eventually have a lake house. No, I don’t mean for vacation- I want to live on lakefront property full time. It’s hard to match the beauty of the waterfront, and you never know when you’ll need to escape from a hoard of zombies… and zombies can’t swim.


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Our Favorite Things: Keys and Speakers


So what have I been digging lately?  Keys.  I’m not talking about piano keys or car keys, here, people.  I’m talking keys used for home decor (deep breaths, Chris, not everything needs a practical use).

Wondering how you can incorporate my newest obsession into your house?  Here are a few examples.

CW from top left:

  • This key ring is just the thing for topping off a tablescape, maybe on top of a stack of books or the final element to a coffee table tray arrangement.  Style Me Pretty.
  • Turn any doorknob into a romantic moment with a little ribbon and an old key.  Idea from French Kissed.
  • The key necklace line from Tiffany and Co. makes any girl drool.
  • Group keys together for an interesting wall collage.  Purchase this set of 3 keys from for $74.
  • A clever solution to using keys for framed wall art by Dream Home DIY.
  • For the techie in your life: a key shaped flash drive.  I guarantee you won’t lose this one with such an interesting shape (yes, I speak from experience). One option available at
  • Have a few old keys lying around?  Why not string them from trees in your backyard for instant interest. Idea from Shanon Manley.
  • Looking for a more modern, unique way to use keys in your house?  Check out these key wall decals in a plethora of color options from KathWren on Etsy.  Best part?  They’re only $24.99!
  • Use old frames, keys and hooks to add an interesting piece of art for any wall in the house.  Idea from The French Flea.
  • I love the idea of a key to happiness incorporated into the house.  And what girl can say no to a pretty pink ribbon?  The Alternative Wife.
  • Some may think this is key overload but I love this throw pillow made from gold key fabric and topped with canvas ribbon and a gold key emblem.  Available for purchase from Julieanna’s Creations on Etsy.
  • DesignSponge shows an easy, gorgeous DIY solution using small knick knacks and spray paint to form a key shaped collage. 
  • Another example of how to use several keys to create the perfect element for accessorizing a room.  Available at BHLDN for $18.

I didn’t waste any time finding ways to incorporate keys into our own house.  You can find old keys (or old looking keys) in a ton of places: art/craft stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s and Garden Ridge, flea markets, and online stores like eBay and Etsy.

Framed Key Print.

I found this awesome print of old keys from Winged Images on Etsy for a whopping $1.  She e-mailed the artwork over within a day.  I went to FedEx and bought a sheet of their “Antique” colored paper and printed it off at home.  One frame from Aaron’s Brothers later and I was in business.  Voilah!  Instant art.  The print is the perfect look for our newly remodeled master bathroom!  Etsy has a lot of great key prints- some offer artwork to print on your own (like I did) and some offer prints that they can mail you.

Ring of foot doom… err.. keys.

I found this ring of iron keys in a small shop in Cordoba, Spain for $15 (Haven’t heard of it?  Not surprised… it’s in the middle of nowhere).  They were heavy but I was determined to get them home.  It’s probably a lot of the reason my bag was 75 lbs.  So heavy, in fact, that my cab driver dropped my suitcase on my foot trying to lift it out of the car trunk.  Ever had 75 lbs land sharply on one point on your foot?  No?  Well, let me tell you the results.  Instant swollen foot.  Attractive purple bruise.  Fabulous footwear (in the form of a bulky boot) prescribed by doctor.  Three weeks hobbling around in boot.  Aka: So. Much. Fun.  Buuuttttt, it was worth it! 🙂  Look how great they look on my stack of books on the coffee table in our living room.

Collage art.

I found this bronze key at Hobby Lobby which perfectly completed my art collage in our living room.  I’ve been challenged with finding items to hang on the walls beyond printed pictures and mirrors.  A key is a nice change to the wall art pattern I was beginning to fall into.


As Julie pointed out, I typically shun anything that isn’t practical. One area that I believe deserves excess and extravagance, however, is music. Much to Julie’s dismay, I love loud music, and not just because I have the hearing of a retired explosives technician. I enjoy volume, but I demand clarity. To the untrained ear, anything better than AM radio is “sufficient,” but somehow I grew an extremely picky sense of hearing that rejects cheap speakers and pop music. There are only three brands of audio systems I’d ever allow in my house, and I’ve listed them in reverse order below:

3. Bose– say what you want (“No highs, no lows, just Bose”), Bose really does produce some of the most impressive audio equipment available, albeit a bit gimmicky at times. What’s unique about these systems is that the components are typically very small and easy to hide.

2. Bang & Olufsen– I first discovered B&O in England when I accidentally wandered into one of their retail shops, and I instantly knew I had stumbled upon a quality product. These homes theater systems typically come in very contemporary, almost futuristic designs, but they’re Danish… so what do you expect?

1. Burmester– There is absolutely no better sound system than those made by German manufacturer Burmester. Each home theater system must pass over 300 quantitative tests before being submitted for subjective evaluation by trained professionals in sound quality. It’s so high-end, in fact, that Porsche now offers Burmester sound in the Panamera and Cayenne. There is one drawback, though- a fully-loaded home theater setup will cost you a cool $60,000.


And Chris says I have expensive taste??


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Our Favorite Things: Sheet Music and Garages


We haven’t shown our latest house cravings lately so we thought we’d catch you up on things that have been catching our eye lately.

As a recovering piano player (7 years under my belt, the last 3 of which were not by choice), I’m always looking for ways to reuse sheet music that’s just taking up space in our house.  Thinking back on the hours I slaved away on the piano bench plunking out another rendition of “Ode to Joy,” I especially like the ideas that involve shredding the sheets (sorry Mom and Dad).

My inspiration:

CW from top left: My Girlish Whims, Style Me Pretty, Pinterest, RoseFlower48, Funky Junk Interiors, Miss Mustard Seed, Sara’s Perfect Party

Want to tackle your own sheet music project?  Try these DIY ideas:

CW from top left: Miss Mustard Seed, The Country Chic Cottage, Copy Craft, The Country Chic Cottage, A Diamond in the Stuff, My Shabby Chateau, Lost in Creativity

Want to leave the crafting to someone else?  Sure, let’s go shopping!

CW from top left: House of 3, Riri Creations, Carolina Cottage, Okiob Designs 


For the past year, my life has been consumed by home renovations. While I (usually) enjoy working on the house, my true passion is cars. I’ve been working on cars with my dad since I was old enough to hand him a wrench; the man taught me everything I know about being handy, including how not to organize your garage. My parent’s garage looks like a scene from Hoarders, and you can’t even get to the mower without enlisting the help of a backhoe to clear a few tons of junk first. I even heard a rumor that there’s a car in there somewhere.

Anyway, I vowed that my cars would always be garaged, and that I’d always be able to safely navigate the garage without climbing gear. I love the minimalist look of German race shops (which consist of cars, tool cabinets, and absolutely no dirt), but I also own bicycles, lawn equipment, and a few million gallons of paint. My desire to design a clean yet functional garage turned into a minor obsession with what I like to call “Garage-Mahals”, i.e. garages that are actually small showrooms attached to a house. My personal favorite combination is a clean, open space with no tools/equipment visible, interlaced with vintage automotive memorabilia.

Here’s a few over-the-top examples:

CW from top left: Toad Hall, Jalopnik, Frank’s Classic Cars, Garage Themes, Garage Design Source


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Our Favorite Things: What a Tool!


We’re going a little geeky on you today by presenting our favorite new “gadgets” we’ve discovered upon renovating our house.  It seems there’s a technological solution to everything nowadays!  Makes you wonder what they’ll come up with next!

  1. Custom Fabric.  I’m on a fabric kick right now because I’m about to make curtains for our bedroom and a few throw pillows for our living room so I constantly have fabric on the mind.  I stumbled upon this site, Spoonflower, where you can create your own design and they will print it on fabric for you.  The fabric’s a little pricey ($18-32 per yard) but what a cool way to put your unique mark on a room!  Once I find the right use (and can justify that price per yard), I’m definitely hitting up this site!  So many ideas, so much fabric!
  2. Mood Board: This isn’t a surprise to all of you who know me, but I’m a huge organization freak.  Everything must be in its place or I can’t focus.  The same goes for when I start on a new room.  I like to see it laid out before I get to work or I just feel overwhelmed.  Well, fear not.  There’s a solution and for all of you fellow HGTV freaks, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  A mood board.  A mood board allows you to layout the general feeling and style of a room and highlight certain pieces you want to add.  If you’re not a Photoshop or Scrapbooking-pro, you may be at a loss of how to assemble one of these.  Well, have I got the best site for you!  Olioboard allows you to create an online mood board in a drop-and-go format.  It’s easy, quick, and the end product always looks clean and professional.
Speaking of mood boards, I’ll leave you with a little treat.  See below for the mood board I created for our master bedroom makeover.  We just started on the room but we’ll share pictures of the finished product in the weeks to come!
  1. Miter Saw: My dad taught me how to use a lot of really dangerous tools when I was fairly young, the most invaluable of which being the saw. He also taught me how to use a miter box, and I quickly learned how worthless they are, which brings me to one of my favorite tools: the miter saw. My first experience with a miter saw was pretty magical, and I was hooked. When we bought a house that we knew would need work, I immediately ran out and bought my own. The idea that you could get such a clean, precise, and perfectly angled cut with so little effort instantly sold me, and the sound they make lets you know you’re dealing with something really manly. Just be sure to count all your fingers when you’re done.  Here’s one I would recommend from Home Depot.
  2. Cordless Tools: These days, everything is wireless, including power tools. If you’ve ever tripped over your own power cord, you know how stupid you feel, and battery-powered tools have eliminated at least one way to look like you don’t know what you’re doing. What’s more is that technological advances have allowed for higher-power, longer-life batteries, so you’re not recharging your whole tool cabinet every time you need to pilot a new hole. While they’re still no match for the 120v variety (I could bolt my hammer drill to the floor and spin the house around if I wanted to), the latest cordless tools can really simplify a DIYer’s life.  Check out this cordless drill at Amazon.

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A Few of our Favorite Things…

I’d like to introduce a new section to our blog called “Our Favorite Things” in which we list some of the items we’re currently lusting over.    The list is constantly changing but here’s what top-of-mind for us at the moment.


Sunburst mirrors.

Every time I see one of these mirrors in a store, I feel like a kid in a candy shop.  I am officially obsessed. Bronze, copper, pewter, wrought-iron- no matter the finish, I want them all.  It’s the perfect combination of art and function.  Not to mention that as a summer baby, I love the reference to my cheery friend, the sun.  These mirrors are ideal for entryways, fireplace mantles, and give any dresser that extra “oomph.”  You can also use smaller, rounded versions for a display plate or tray.  I placed one on our entryway table and filled it with candles.  I love how they reflect the candle’s light when lit.  See below for a few of my favorite sunburst mirrors out there, on both ends of the price spectrum.

1. Seventh Avenue, $65.99   2., $394.00

3. Pier 1 Imports, $199.95   4. Crate and Barrel, $199.00

5. Crate and Barrel, $199.00   6. Horchow, $495.90   7. Country Door, $59.99

8. Wisteria, $79.00   9. Ballard Designs, $269.00


Ceiling fans- the unsung hero of every room. Now, if you think it’s odd for someone to imply that a ceiling fan should be in every room, well, clearly you haven’t spent enough time in Texas. Summer is an eight-month season here, and ceiling fans aren’t a commodity, they’re a necessity. When Julie asked me what I was looking for in an apartment, I just said, “fans.” I think 75* is scorching, so I find fans to be invaluable- they’re relatively easy to install, dirt cheap to operate, and ultra-efficient because they cool you, not the room.

When I first moved to Texas, there were basically two types of fans: indoor and outdoor (except the airplane fan I had- if you can name anything cooler than that, I’ll give you $10). When Julie and I bought what seemed to be the last house in Texas that didn’t have ceiling fans and therefore had to install them, I realized that there are literally hundreds of choices, and that a fan is as much a piece of furniture as the coffee table. You can choose from dozens of shapes, sizes, colors, finishes, etc. I also discovered that installing a fan on a vaulted ceiling where there was once nothing (i.e. no circuit or ceiling box) is a job-and-a-half.

As you can see, fans are now available in a variety of styles, including the absurd.

1. Home Depot, Hampton Bay, $309   2. Home Depot, Hampton Bay, $69.97

3. Lamps Plus, Hunter, $319.91   4. Home Depot, Hampton Bay, $99.97

5., Fanimation, $691.95  

6. Lighting Universe, Fanimation, $1153.95   7. Lowe’s, Harbor Breeze, $98.94

8. Lowe’s, Harbor Breeze, $84.00   9. Home Depot, Hunter, $179.00

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