Modern Exterior Paint Colors on a Suburban Home

By | Room Makeovers | 3 Comments

I get a consistent stream of questions in my inbox from blog readers, friends and family asking for help with their homes. I love these questions! I try to answer as many of them as I can, but it’s fun to prioritize the questions I have a particular passion for. And that’s how we’re here today—one of my favorite design problems to solve for others is exterior paint colors. I think it may be attributed to the fact that I’m dying to paint our house, too.

So let’s get to it. This is the house of a co-worker’s mom and she was looking for ways to help its exterior pop. Similar styles of homes surround hers, so selecting paint colors to help stand out in a modern, fresh way was important too.

Fresh Take on Exterior of Suburban Home

I have to admit, for this style of home (brick, with siding), I almost always have the same answer when it comes to the paint approach: go DARK. As dark as your comfort zone will allow you to go.

This is where I’m so lucky to have a Photoshop guru as a husband. He whipped these up for me in just a few minutes. These types of decisions (painting a whole house!) require some visualization.

Fresh Take on Exterior of Suburban Home

How beautiful is that! I know the choice to go dark can be a scary one, but it does make such an impact in a really fresh way. And yes, picking those dark paint colors can be so intimidating. In store and at home, the dark color swatches look so, so deeply dark. But I swear to you, all of those dark values in the color fade away in the sunlight. Worth it!

In the mock-up above I also applied the siding color to the trim—I was interested to see what it would look like with a lighter, creamier trim. That look (dark siding, light trim) is below. And spoiler alert, I really, really like it.

Fresh Take on Exterior of Suburban Home

The specific colors to be used in this project are:

Benjamin Moore Bracken Slate – garage door and all siding

Benjamin Moore Tucker Gray – all trim, soffit, facia and gutters

The front door, while still shown as red here, will be painted black to match the shutters. I’ve been waiting with baited breath for a few weeks now—can’t wait to see the real, finished product!

What about you? Are you on the dark exterior bandwagon?



Tips and Tricks for Popular Teepee Pattern

By | Craft & Create, The Brothers May | 2 Comments

One of our “big” gifts to the boys for their first birthday was their eyeball teepee. It was entirely DIY, from creating the fabric to cutting the poles to sewing it all together. For the teepee itself, I used this popular teepee sewing pattern and while it feels silly to write a tutorial on something I followed a pattern for, I do have some words of wisdom should you attempt it on your own.

This was my first time working with a pattern on a sewing project so while I’m a complete newbs, it was an overall great and dare I say enjoyable experience!

I followed the instructions of the Sew Baby Terrific Teepees pattern nearly to the T, with the exception of a few things below.

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

Tip #1 – Reduce length of each PVC pipe by 6″

I actually didn’t have enough length to cut (5) 66″ pieces as the pattern suggests, so I stumbled into this tip accidentally. I only had (5) 60″ poles on hand and the length was perfect. An extra 6″ inches on each pole would have been so strange visually, so I’m glad this happened! I bought (3) 120″ lengths of 2/3″ PVC pipe at Home Depot and cut them in half at home using my miter box and saw. To remove the stamps and writing on my PVC pipes, I sanded with a rougher grit sheet of sandpaper (80), followed by extra fine grit (200) for a smooth finish.

Tip #2 – Use a shoestring to tie poles together

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

The instructions called for a clothesline-type nylon rope to thread between each pole, which is great in theory, but did not make any sense in real life. The nylon rope they suggested was very thick and unruly which made threading it through each hole difficult. My mom had the genius idea to use a shoelace, which worked like a charm. Its most beneficial attribute is its stiff end, which gave me an enormous amount of threading power.

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

Pro Tip: Buy shoelaces for this. Don’t be like me and steal them off the only pair of tennis shoes you own. *smacks forehead*

I didn’t particularly like the shoestring-only look (even though they were a fun color), so I dug into our party decor box and found this strand of brightly colored woven globes. Me likey.

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

Tip #3 – Sew a double seam hem on all sides of the panels

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

The pattern suggested a single fold hem (meaning the folded-under edge would be left raw) instead of a double fold hem. This was a big mistake, because now I’ve got lots of unraveling. Newbie mistake. I’d recommend a small 3/8″ hem before moving onto the 1/2″ hem. It shouldn’t change the pattern in a big way, plus it’ll just look more finished. For mine, I need to add some Fray Check (raw edge sealant) to combat all the fraying.

Tip #4 – Add 1″ non-skid rubber feet to the poles

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

This teepee is light! I imagine it’s only a matter of time before my boys can pick it up and Hulk smash it across the room. Kidding… sort of. But it does scoot around on our hardwood floors a lot. I picked up (5) 1″ rubber feet and added them to the ends of the PVC pipes. Tada! These also keep up the fabric so it doesn’t slouch around the bottom.

Using the Sew Baby Teepee Pattern: Tips and Tricks

This was such a fun project. Challenging for a newbie? Yes. But doable? Yes. Did I want to throw it out the window at times? Yes. Would I do it again? Probably.

There you have it. Any teepee makers out there? How did you bring yours to life?


What I’ve Learned From 5 Years of Blogging

By | Random | 9 Comments

Lessons from 5 Years of Blogging

A few weeks ago, I hit the 5-year mark of blogging. Say WHAT! I know, I can’t believe it either. It all started so innocently enough. In 2011, I had a lot of opinions about decorating and DIY, I had been binge-reading Making it Lovely who was my idol at the time (and still is) and I realized I wanted an online voice too. What started as a half-assed (ok, it’s still kind of half-assed LOL), after-work journal of sorts has turned into a bonafide side business. What started as a Tumblr called “House Stuff” has turned into 600+ posts, over one million page views, nearly half a million visitors… it’s nuts.

Blogging is full of lessons in patience, perseverance, tough skin and more. Here are some of the big lessons for me, personally.


The blogging world is chock full of quiet, introverted folks. I’m one of them. We’re people who have tons of opinions, good advice and know exactly what we want to say…. except we have a hard time finding our voice in a group. The blog becomes therapeutic in that way. We get to say exactly what we want, and the best part, we get to think it through first.


I’m a terrible blogger. My blog design hasn’t been updated since 2013 (until now!), I don’t optimize my ads, I don’t have any Pinterest strategies, my media kit is years out of date. I don’t do/rarely do the things that serious bloggers do every day. My focus all of these years has been on keeping a journal and telling my DIY and design stories on a somewhat consistent basis. No pressure, just words on a page. I think that, while not recommended if you want to quit your day job, has been huge for me in terms of stamina. And, you know what, I haven’t done too bad for myself despite my neglect. Further proof that you don’t need to have big numbers to get attention from big brands and publications.

Now, there are TONS of bloggers that have both amazing content AND amazing back-end traffic strategies. These are the men and women who are my gold standard and my inspiration. One day I’ll get there (do I want to get there?), but not anytime soon and I’m so OK with that!


The only reason I’m still here 5 years later is because I do the things I want to do and avoid/ignore everything else. Here’s a great example. As a DIY/design blogger, there’s a lot of pressure to “find a niche.” Meaning, find a topic you want to post about and only post about that topic. Well I gotta tell ya, that gets really boring after awhile! More focused? Yes. More clear to readers? Yes. But the reality is, I’m a complex person with complex non-house projects. I’d like to post about all the things—my kids, our financial adventures, life hacks, etc.


It’s never been my focus to turn this into a huge money-making venture. If it was, I would have had to shift my focus from content generation to all of the back-end stuff I’ve done a great job of ignoring all of these years (see #2). And I really don’t want to do that. I have a great full-time job, so there’s no pressure to turn a specific dollar amount each month. Some months I make $10 and others I might make $500 off the blog. $10? Great! $500? Awesome! Not relying on the blog as an important revenue stream for our family has been very freeing (and very important for #3, too).

NOW, saying all of that, if you want to be in it for the money, then GO FOR IT. There is so much money to be had in blogging. Most of the money comes from brand sponsorships.  As big brands evolve their marketing plans from old-school advertising to influencer engagement, there is literally no limits to what you can accomplish. Just be prepared to put in the time, effort, etc.


My gosh, the amount of free stuff offered can get a little overwhelming at times. I mean, I was handed an entire suite of kitchen appliances entirely free of charge. It’s NUTS! But… BUT… there are typically strings attached. “Payment” while not money, is usually in the form of a post, social media mentions, event support, etc. Not required, but certainly expected. And of course, there are tax implications because all of these gifts have to be reported as income.

I have to be careful with this. It’s easy to get hooked on the free stuff. To be swayed in design decisions based on what you know you might get for free. And more importantly, to receive free stuff that is so ridiculously expensive at retail that you and your readers could never normally afford it. Not good!


I’ve been in the blogging world for 5 years and during that time, I’ve been lucky enough to befriend amazing, badass bloggers. I can’t even tell you how helpful it’s been to have a friend who gets just as bothered by a crooked picture frame as I do. Or who knows the sting of a negative comment. Or who can commiserate over poor Pinterest traffic. And better yet, who knows the struggle juggle of kids and getting house projects done. It’s been really awesome, motivating and therapeutic to have others in the same boat as me. I hope I’ve helped them as much as they’ve helped me.


Many of you have been here since the beginning. And even better you’ve stayed with me when things slowed down considerably with the arrival of the twins. The comments, the shares, the emails… heck even just seeing my page view count… this keeps me going. It’s just nice to be writing to people who share the same interests as me (related to #6). For the first two years, it was crickets. If you’re a new blogger, this is the toughest barrier to overcome because you will hear crickets for a really long time at first. Keep your head down, keep producing content and keep going.

Considering blogging? What’s holding you back? Imagine where you could be in 5 years if you start today.  😉



P.S. A huge, HUGE kiss, thank you, hug to to my husband who helped me be a little less terrible by redoing this site for me. It’s pretty great, right! I’m still working on some features, but it’s been a breath of fresh air.