Old House Design The Scenery House

Choosing Our Exterior Trim Color

June 24, 2019

brick tudor exterior 1929

I love our brick home but I don’t love the color of the trim. It matches the mortar almost exactly and that’s just not the exterior element I want to emphasize the most. I heard from our neighbor that the trim was last painted 2 owners ago. She watched as the owner hung out of the windows to paint the trim and said she thought it looked very dangerous. I also learned that the color is called peanut butter and I’ve never heard a more accurate color name.

In addition to switching up the color, we also want to have the trim painted as a chance to repair some very crackled and weathered paint and wood. The trim and paint at the front of the house are actually in very good condition but the back and right side are the “weather” sides and have not fared nearly as well. We decided to hire painters as this project is beyond our abilities and I get nervous about either of us that high up on a ladder.

Paint colors for brick exterior trim.

We scheduled the painting to begin the first week of June but they have yet to show up. We’ve had a very rainy spring in Pittsburgh, so I’m sure their schedule has been thrown off. And we didn’t have to give a deposit (probably for this very reason) BUT I can’t say I’m not salty that my check-in phone calls and voice mails have not been returned. The bright side here is that means I get to spend more time agonizing over my color choice.

Sherwin Williams exterior paint swatches with brick.

Red brick homes with black trim are my favorite kind of homes. But more often than not, the roofs on those houses are slate or gray asphalt. Our home has a medium brown roof, which no doubt was chosen to go with the peanut butter trim. I’ve been worried that going super dark or super black on the trim would look out of place with the roof.

Sherwin Williams paint swatches for exterior trim.

Our painters are going to use Sherwin Williams exterior paint, so I grabbed the darkest brown paints I could find. And then on a second trip, grabbed even darker colors. I made Andy display the swatches against the trim in different spots around the house as well as holding them up high near the roof over the front door.

Black magic swatch with brown roof.

Sherwin Williams black magic and black fox.

Our two favorite colors quickly became Sherwin Williams Black Magic and Black Fox.

And because visualizing paint on something as big as a house is tough, I mocked up some options in photoshop.

Exterior Trim Paint Option 1 : Black Magic

Brick house exterior with SW Black Magic trim.

The first Sherwin Williams black paint option we gravitated toward was Tricorn Black, though it felt a little too intense to me. SW’s Black Magic is a slightly softer black, but still has that boldness we’re looking for. This option says, OUR TRIM IS GREAT, and brings out the darker notes in the brick.

Exterior Trim Paint Option 2: Black Fox

Brick house exterior with SW Black Fox trim.

When I first posted that we were thinking about the perfect Sherwin Williams color to go with our brick exterior, SO MANY people DMed me to say how highly they recommend Black Fox. And they were right. It looks so good with brick and goes well with our brown roof. This is a super subtle option, one that lets the brick speak a little louder than the rest.

Which is your favorite, which one would you choose: Black Magic or Black Fox?

Furniture The Scenery House

Bedroom Updates with Article

June 10, 2019

Article Level Bench and Luxu Chair

This post is in partnership with Article. All opinions are my own.

It’s been seven months since we made over our master bedroom for the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge (see the master bedroom reveal here) and I’ve been thinking about what we missed. Design challenges are great, but I’m a big fan of taking things slow: slow decorating if you will. It’s so important to take your time and see how you’ll use your space, how you’ll live in it, to determine how you should furnish it. Time lets you see what you forgot, what is too much, and what will bug the heck out of you.

One of the major focal points of the room is the fireplace surround (with electric fireplace insert) that my father and I built together. I wanted it to serve as a cozy spot to curl up with a book or a cup of coffee, but it’s been missing a comfy chair that would make that possible. Another bit that’s been bugging me is the visual emptiness at the foot of the bed. Early in the planning stages for the room, I knew I wanted a bench, but couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I skipped it. And I can tell you that every time I looked at photos of the room, my eyes burned a hole in that empty space.

Article Level Bench with Fireplace

Enter Article, who reached out to help add the finishing touches to our bedroom. Article has original, modern furniture pieces that work beautifully with my modern traditional style. I am a huge fan of mixing furniture styles so a room looks collected (but not eclectic) rather than that straight-from-the-catalog, bought-all-at-once look.

What I like about Article is that they offer a range of modern pieces unique to them, at prices that are fairer than what you’ll see at most furniture retailers. If you’re like me, an introvert through and through, shopping for things from home without ever having to talk to a person is extremely appealing. And if you’re an overthinker and chronic worrier like me, it’s soothing to know that if you don’t like what you’ve ordered, there’s a 30 day satisfaction guarantee. That means if you don’t love it, they’ll come and get it out of your life with a refund minus the original shipping fees.

If you’ve ever added furniture to your cart only to abandon it once you see the shipping fees, Article’s $49 flat rate shipping (or free for orders over $999) is for you. And if you want that extra level of luxury, there are affordable options for in-room delivery and assembly for you at check out.

Let’s get a better look at that furniture.

Bedroom with bench at foot of bed

Our new Level bench in bella tan leather is exactly what I had in mind for the foot of our bed. I’ve mixed a lot of wood tones in this room, so I knew a wooden bench wasn’t the way to go. The black metal legs are modern and simple and the tufted leather is classic with just the right amount of texture.

A king size bed wants a 60″ bench for things to look right, and benches this size at this price are very hard to find. Functionally, we needed a place to stash our extra pillows and blankets, and a place to sit and put on socks in the morning.

Article Level Bench

Article level bench leather detail

Texture on texture on texture on texture. *chef’s kiss*

Article Level Bench and Luxu Chair

Now let’s get a look at that chair! It’s Article’s Luxu Chair and it’s a gem. I love it both turned toward the fireplace and turned outward, facing the room. It’s such a sturdy piece but not too heavy for me to move. When I ordered the rug for our bedroom, I was counting on more of an olive color punch. I’ve been searching for the right green chair to bring out the green tones in the rug and this is it! The cedar green velvet has just the right olivey-gray hue to pull out those olive tones in the rug and add that extra color I’ve been craving.

The cedar green colorway has been retired BUT the Luxu is still available in a super luxe navy called nightshade. And if you’re still hunting for the perfect green velvet chair, Articles still has some solid options.

Article Luxu Cedar Chair

That velvet is seriously SO soft truly elevates the whole piece – it looks muuuch spendier than it is! The seat is on the firmer side, which is perfect for me because soft seats are trouble for my old bones. The back cushion is plush and is stuffed with a fiber down blend. The width of this chair is nice and generous, not quite a chair and a half but definitely roomier than your average lounge chair. There’s lots of room for me to sit with my legs curled up or with a corgi at my side.Article furniture luxu cedar chair

Just look at that profile. The tapered walnut legs are a nod to midcentury design, which fits in with so much of the furniture on our home.

Our master bedroom feels so much more finished and comfortable now. Every piece feels intentional, useful, and thoughtful, which is my goal for every room in my house.

Do you have any Article pieces in your home? Have you been wanting to order but have questions? Ask me!

Before and After The Scenery House

The Blush Bathroom Gets Custom Roman Shades

April 3, 2019

This post is in partnership with Alva

Our blush bathroom was one of the first rooms in our home to get a makeover. The previous owner had 3 different window treatments on these windows and we swapped them out for just 1: a light diffusing roller shade. After a while, I noticed that our roller shades just weren’t providing enough privacy for all the things one does in a bathroom. The bathroom sits at the front of our house and looks across the road at our neighbors. Although I don’t think our neighbors spend a lot of their time trying to look into our bathroom, I’d like to just save everyone from every kind of embarrassment. Once I realized the true need for privacy, I started dreaming of adding a custom flat roman shade.

The original windows in our home are one of my very favorite features and they deserve something special. I’ve always loved the look of roman shades in bathrooms so I was so excited to partner with Alva for my first ever window treatments made just for me.

How to Order Custom Window Shades: Order Swatches

To get started, I ordered free swatches (order your swatches here) from Alva to compare 5 different colors of their Belgian flax linen. I ordered graphite, spruce, natural, oyster, and mist. I was drawn to the graphite (a deep charcoal color) thinking it would complement the bathroom’s pencil tile and black accents. I also picked two neutrals, natural and oyster, because you can’t go wrong with a neutral. Oyster is a warmer, creamier shade of white vs. Alva’s optic white, which is a truer, bright white. For fun, I added spruce to my sample order, I liked that it had just a hint of color while remaining on the neutral side. And for a very safe, can’t-go-wrong-with-gray, option, I picked mist.

The samples arrived in a matter of days and I paced around the bathroom wondering which to pick. When in doubt, take it to Instagram — I put it to a poll in my stories and it was a dead heat. 50/50 between natural and oyster, 50/50 between mist and spruce. BUT I got the most excited, passionately decisive DMs about the spruce (I see you, Yellow Brick Home). It was a favorite of mine from the start because while it’s pretty neutral, it’s got the right amount of special to it. And I cannot resist pairing green with blush. AND I can’t stop using green throughout my home, and I hear that cohesive design is a thing, so my gut told me spruce was the way to go.

How to Measure for Custom Roman Shades

how to measure for custom window shades

I decided on an inside mount for my shades and measured using Alva’s measuring tips as a guide. Chances are your windows are not perfectly square (especially if you have an older home like mine), so it’s really important to take 3 measurements of the height and width of your window and to go with the smallest of the 3 when you order.

Choose Your Cord Control Option

roman shade cord options

Alva offers cordless, cord lock, continuous loop, cordless, and motorized cord options but there are some limitations based on the depth of your window – our windows are 3″ deep. I went with a cord lock (minimum 1 1/2″ window depth) because continuous cord requires a deeper window depth (minimum 3 1/4″ window depth) and I also wanted a white cord that would blend visually into my window frame. I also decided against the motorized option (minimum 3″ window depth) because the shade would be installed in a high-moisture space.

Alva’s shades are lined by default, which helps add privacy and gives the linen more structure, but you can also order your shades without lining. I wanted the extra privacy and wanted to keep a consistent look of white treatments on the outside of our house.

I ordered my shades and they arrived 13 days later. As soon as they shipped I received a tracking number and a couple of days before they arrived, I got an email with assembly instructions. I really appreciated the heads up, if I had needed to pick up a new drill bit size I would have had time to prepare. The email also let me know that linen is a wrinkly business and that steaming is recommended. You know I love to steam textiles.

How To Install Roman Shades

Installing roman shades

Drilling pilot holes for roman shades

The blinds were safely packaged together in a single box and included easy to follow instructions. The first step is put the included screws into the mounting holes, lift and center the shade in your window with the front edge at the front edge of the window frame, and use the screws to mark where to drill the pilot holes. Use an 1/8″ bit to make the pilot holes, then line the shade up with the holes and secure it in place with the screws – this step is much easier with two people.

Although I ordered two shades with the exact same window measurement, my shades arrived with slightly different widths. The larger shade was a tight squeeze but fit into our window, the smaller shade was no problem. Mistakes happen and what matters is how they’re handled. I wrote to Alva to let them know about the discrepancy and they let me know about the Alva Happiness Guarantee: in the event of manufacturing errors, they will send a prepaid FedEx envelope for you to return your shade and they will remake it for you at no charge. Because ours ended up working out, I kept them and everything is working properly. In the event that you make an error measuring your windows or just don’t like what you ordered, they will work with you to make it right.

Detail of linen roman shades

Linen roman shades with leaded glass window

I love that because our shades are the exact length for the window, we aren’t left with feet and feet of extra cord, dangling around looking messy and being dangerous for children. The cord pull is made of wood and painted white.

Good to know: Because I went with a cord lock, the shades came with a TON of warnings for baby safety. Cords are very dangerous for babies. Alva sent a plastic cord cleat that would keep the cord wrangled, but I chose not to use it.

Spruce green linen roman shades

I am so happy with how the spruce linen looks, the color is unexpected but beautiful and the texture is perfect. The flat roman shades really elevate the look of the space – I love that the mounting hardware is hidden.

Blush bathroom with linen roman shades and classic tile

This is what the shades look like installed and open. The cord lock moves smoothly and locks easily by moving the cord to the right, making it easy to pick exactly how much shade I want to keep down or up. I like to keep them open at a height that lines up with the bottom of the first row of our leaded glass panes.

Blush bathroom with shades drawn lit by sconces

And here is the bathroom with the shades down, granting me all the privacy in the world.

Are you ready for a custom window treatment of your own? Alva is giving away a $300 gift credit to one lucky winner. Sign up for Alva’s newsletter below for a chance to win. Sweepstakes is open to US residents only and the last day to enter is Wednesday, April 10th. One winner will be randomly chosen and notified via email on April 11th.

Interiors Inspiration Shopping

I Love the Internet

March 8, 2019

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of my links, I will receive a small percent of the sale at no additional cost to you.

There’s so much good stuff on the internet and sometimes I get my act together to gather up my favorite things from the week to share with you. Here’s what I’m most excited about this week!

[ Room for Tuesday ]

Sarah and her husband Emmett recently moved into a newer, builder grade home and have just revealed their first bathroom transformation. They took their very boring, very dated, and very chopped-up guest bathroom and turned it into a layered and detailed traditional gem. I really can’t get over how gorgeous the floor tile is and am endlessly impressed that she and her husband tiled everything themselves AND got all of their tile and fixtures from Lowe’s.

[ The Gold Hive ]

Ashley from The Gold Hive has been planning and replanning her kitchen layout for FOUR years and she is narrowing that biz down. She thinks about moving walls in ways my brain can’t and is working around special limitations due to her home’s historic designation. She’s got two fantastic options (one with indoor/outdoor bar seating. WHAT.) and is asking you to vote for your favorite. Go for the renderings, stay for the floor plans.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by STACY | Blake Hill House (@blakehillhouse_) on


Stacy from Blake Hill House is an absolute old-home-restoring powerhouse. I’ve been glued to her progress as she refinishes the floors in her 1880s fixer-upper. And I can’t get over her gorgeous dining room and am totally mesmerized by this timelapse of her clearing the room in preparation. She is definitely one to follow if you love old homes.


West Elm Hudson Lamps

[ Black + Brass Floor Lamp with Fabric Shade | Black Floor Lamp with Brass Shade | Brass Floor Lamp with Fabric Shade | Brass + Black Table Lamp | Wood Base Floor Lamp with Fabric Shade ]

I blinked and missed some stunning new lighting from West Elm. The Hudson Collection stopped me in my tracks (and by my tracks I mean the extremely speedy way I scroll through the internet). I’m not sure how long this sale will last but right now, West Elm is offering 25% off + free shipping for one item (exclusions apply) with code YESWAY.

Sunroom with arched windows fiddle leaf fig

[ Our sunroom as seen on Style by Emily Henderson ]

A really wild thing happened this week, a tour of our home was featured on the Style by Emily Henderson blog. I have looked up to Emily forever and am endlessly flattered that she chose to share this little place of ours with her readers. And if Emily helped you find me, I AM SO GLAD YOU’RE HERE. I am overwhelmed by the response and all the kind words and by how much everyone really loves the sunroom wallpaper. Thanks to an EHD reader (thank you, Frances!) I finally know the source of that famous wallpaper – it’s the Lillian pattern by Thibaut. If you haven’t seen the tour yet, please check it out!

Blush Bathroom Restoration - The Sweet Beast Blog

[ Blush Bathroom Reveal | Paint Color ]

And somehow ANOTHER great placement happened this week, our bathroom is in the April 2019 issue of HGTV Magazine. If you grab a copy be sure to tag me, it’s so crazy to see our home in print! If you haven’t seen our blush bathroom transformation before, check out the full reveal.

And finally, I want to leave you with this:

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after-thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.”
— Nanea Hoffman
(via swiss-miss)

The Scenery House

My Home is Featured on Emily Henderson’s Blog!

March 5, 2019

The title above is something I never thought I’d be lucky enough to type. I am so flattered and still in shock that Emily Henderson has even seen a picture of my home, let alone wanted to share it with her readers. I’ve been chatting with Arlyn, Emily’s amazing Editorial Director, since November about doing a tour and I had a million excuses as to why my house wasn’t quite ready just yet. But it was ready, it IS ready, it will always be ever evolving, slowly being undecorated and restored, reinvigorated and redesigned. I’m so proud of the work we’ve done here and I am so grateful for this opportunity to show it off.

Emily Henderson’s designs have been a guiding light for me in my own work for as long as I’ve had a space that’s my own. All of this to say, I feel like I’ve won an Oscar.

A million thank yous to Emily Henderson and Arlyn Hernandez for seeing me, seeing my home, and sharing it. See the full home tour on Emily Henderson’s blog here.

And thank YOU my friend, whether new or old, for being here. It means so much to me and my little family.

If you want to see all the rooms in my house in one place with links to more info about them, check out my House Tour. If you’re interested in learning more about the Green Guest Bedroom featured on Emily’s Instagram, check out the reveal post.

If you want to see where we started with this house, there’s no better place than my tour of the first-floor listing photos and the second-floor listing photos.

If you aren’t already, please be sure to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest and sign up for my newsletter on the right and you’ll never miss the good stuff!


DIY Interior Styling

How to DIY a Large Scale Modern Art Triptych

February 25, 2019

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of my links, I will receive a small percent of the sale at no additional cost to you.

diy large abstract art living room

Figuring out art for above our sectional has been a long process. I even wrote a post about what to do with that big blank wall almost exactly a year ago and have done truly nothing about it since. OR HAVE I? I have. But only recently.

moody living room with large triptych
corgi on couch mid century dresser living room

[ Lamp | Sectional | Rust Pillow | Paint Color: Benjamin Moore Raccoon Fur ]

Our IKEA sectional runs along the longest blank wall in our whole house, and it’s been a bit of a challenge for me. I considered building a gallery wall, a grid gallery (like the grid gallery in our bedroom), painting one large art (something like the abstract art in our guest bedroom), or just framing a large photo. I even considered a very long shelf. And then I saw this art in a CB2 catalog.

The Inspiration

[Source: CB2 Catalog]

It’s clean, not too busy, modern, and totally DIYable. The components are pretty simple: a frame, a mat, a solid piece of paper, sketchbook paper, and a drawing on that paper. Once this idea was in my head, I couldn’t let it go, so I set to planning. I went to my local JOANN and Michaels to find their largest, slim black frames. I found my favorite option at JOANN with the large-wall-friendly size of 40×27 inches. I went back home and dropped that size of frame into a SketchUp model of the living room and decided that 3 frames would fit quite nicely above the sectional. My next step was to figure out how much of the frame I wanted to fill with a mat, how much space should be solid paper, and how big my sketchbook paper should be. I’ll walk you what decisions I made and how I put it altogether.

DIY Large Framed Art Triptych Supplies:

  • 3 40×27” frames (measurement is of the inside, frameable area)
  • 3 Custom cut 40×27″ mats with a centered 16×25” window
  • 3 Sheets of 19.5×25.5” Canson colorline art paper in cream
  • 1 Top-spiral watercolor sketchpad
  • Pencil
  • Charcoal
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Spray fixative
  • Rubber cement
  • Masking tape
  • Ruler
  • iPad Pro (very optional)

How to Make Your Own DIY Abstract Art Triptych

Planning is important! I use SketchUp to plan things like this but you can easily do this with good ol’ fashioned paper, pencil, and measuring tape. If you need help visualizing the scale of things in your space, it never hurts to map things out with painters tape. My plan told me 3 40×27” frames would work nicely above our KIVIK sectional, but you can make this same art project and in whatever multiples you want. 

I picked up my frames at JOANN and put them in a tiny cart. I found some Canson Colorline art paper in cream (plus gray and white as back-up options) as well as a small watercolor paper sketchpad.

I saved an image of my mat diagram to my phone to have as a reference. It has the exact outside frameable area (40×27″) and a window of 16×25″. Always make sure that the dimensions of what you’re matting are larger than the size of your mat window so you have room to secure your art.

I waited in line at JOANN to have mats cut but overheard the person at the counter say that they send out their matting and framing work so there would be a few days lead time involved. Your girl is impatient – if I want to wait a few days for something, I’ll order it online FROM MY HOUSE. So I paced the aisles, putting all my measurements into MatBoardandMore.com for a base price, and then called a nice person at the framing desk at Michael’s who said he’d do same day mat cuts for me as long as I didn’t show up too close to closing time. The MatBoardandMore.com price was $39.78 with oversize shipping included and the gentleman at Michael’s quoted me at $44.00 per mat. I wanted to wrap up this project up over a weekend, so getting the mats same-day at a higher cost was worth it to me.

Back home from my shopping adventure, I started sketching out some simple line-drawing abstract art ideas on my iPad. I wanted to create a fluid line, so I drew connecting loops and lines with interesting bends without worrying about making something perfect.

If you’re less comfortable with drawing freehand, a simple geometric shape or stack of shapes would look great. Abstract art is just that – it’s abstract and imperfect. Another idea is to make no-look line drawings of objects in your home (lamps, vases, plants, etc.) or people. To make a no-look line drawing, just put your pencil down on your paper and look directly at what you’re drawing, make one continuous line to draw your subject and never look down at your paper until you’re done! This is a fun way to stretch your brain and not focus on perfection.

Once I had 3 that I liked, I used my iPad as a light table, placing the paper on top and then tracing my drawing with charcoal. You can skip the iPad entirely and just sketch out your art with pencil and then trace. 

I smudged my charcoal in a few places but was able to clean it up perfectly with a kneaded eraser. To make sure my art would last and not create anymore smudges, I tapped my paper over the sink to release any loose charcoal and then sealed my work with a spray fixative. 

While the fixative dried, I secured my large paper to my mats using tape. My art school days will have me recommend acid free masking tape, but scotch tape will do the job. Tape opposite corners first, securing all four, and then secure the top, bottom, and sides.

Once my drawings were completely dry I distressed the spiral-torn edge a little by bending the ends and tearing a few so that it looks like it was swiftly torn from a sketchpad. Super casual.

I used my quilting grid to clearly mark the placement of my art without having to make any marks on the paper. Next, I laid them face down on a piece of cardboard and coated the backs with rubber cement, all the way to the edges. I quickly and carefully placed the sketch paper using my quilting grid as my guide. To ensure perfect adhesion, I placed a book on top of the paper while the rubber cement dried.

Once the rubber cement set, I placed my art in the frames by first removing the backing cardboard and then placing my matted art inside the frame. I secured the backing board back in place and then the artwork was ready to hang!

diy large scale art corgi on couch living room

My SketchUp drawing told me I wanted the edges of the outside frames to a few inches in from the edges of the back cushions of the sectional and for there to be 6 inches of space on either side of the middle frame. When hanging artwork above furniture, a good guideline is to have the bottom edge of the art fall 8 inches above the top of the furniture.

diy abstract art triptych
close up of diy sketch art
view from living room into entryway

And that’s it! The new art has made our living room look much more finished and cozy and was the perfect minimal, modern touch it needed.


Gift Guide: For the Ceramics Collector

December 4, 2018

Abstract Art Mid Century Dresser Vignette

I am a ceramics enthusiast. Vessels, jewelry, doesn’t matter. If it’s breakable, opaque, and beautiful: I love it. If you have someone in your life who collects ceramics (or you are this person and need to tell people what to get for you) I hope this gift guide is helpful. I’ve included objects from small makers, some Pittsburgh-made faves, and larger store finds for a range of prices and styles.

Gift Guide For the Ceramics Collector

Gifts for the Ceramics Collector:

  1. Ettie Lamp in Pink | $228 $126 on sale today
  2. Oatmeal Shop Sand Union Knot Necklace | $50
  3. Winnie Round Black Planter | $40
  4. Spotted Ceramic Vase | $12
  5. Clay Factor Court Mug | $50
  6. Trent Wind Chime | $35
  7. Eleonor Bostrom Matchstick Dog Black | $80
  8. Hand-Thrown Cocktail Plate | $18
  9. W/R/F Lab Ceramic Mug | $28
  10. Chock A Block Necklace in Sand/Clay | $66
  11. Bombabird Small Grooved Container | $34

Hey heads up: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.