Author Archives: Scott

As our house continues to feel more and more like home each year – and not just a construction site where we happen to sleep! – I’ve gradually convinced Kim that decorating for the holidays makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, m’lady loves Christmas like nobody’s business – it’s just that the past two winters have seen their share of construction dust and distractions that have kept us from celebrating our home in its full holiday glory.

This year we vowed to change that.


Although the upstairs is still mostly off limits, our exterior and first floor projects are largely complete, giving us safe zones and keeping us happy (and sane). With a simple design plan in mind, we headed off to Ace Hardware armed with measurements of our entire front porch and visions of a tidy and classic Christmas display for the first time in over a decade.

We agreed on these warm white LED lights for energy efficiency, and we outfitted the whole operation with a dusk-sensing timer so there would be no need to remember to plug and unplug the lights each night. We also picked up extra long extension cords and removable command hooks, and on our way home, we stopped at our favorite nursery (hey, Tony!) and grabbed a big roll of fresh garland.

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We’re really happy with how things turned out, and the whole install only took about 2 hours on an oddly warm Sunday afternoon. As an added bonus, we also picked up a large storage bin where everything will live neatly until next season!

Do you decorate your home’s exterior? Please tell me you live on one of those magical streets that you can spot from miles away? If not, we’d like to help! Together with the Ace crew, we’re giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader for your own holiday decorating (or house fixing up-ing or anything else you wish!). The giveaway runs through Monday, December 21st until 5pm CST; simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be announced within this post by Monday evening. Good luck and happy entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. See all the blogger projects on the Ace Pinterest page.


The guest room got a simple lighting upgrade!

It’s the Eden Pendant from CB2, which by the way, much like our headboard, has been in storage for a handful of years. Originally intended for somewhere in the condo, Kim scooped up the (then $50) light, with the intention of converting it to a hardwired ceiling pendant; well, it never happened. When purchased, it had an unoffensive clear cord with a plug, but an easy enough re-wiring with a thick cloth cord and hard-wire conversion kicked it up a notch – while also allowing us to install it where ever we’d like without outlet restrictions.

(A quick word of caution: While this project is fairly straightforward, it’s a recap of what worked for us, but use your head, cut the power, and always be careful any time you’re dealing with electricity. We don’t want anyone getting hurt, right? )

Original electrical cord/socket
New cloth covered cord
Ceiling mount kit (we used this one)
Canopy (we used this one in black)

Wire cutter
Wire stripper
Utility knife


WHAT WE DID. Starting with the original plug-in cord, snip the cord with your wire cutters! This is simultaneously the easiest and most daunting part of the job. (Did we just ruin a perfectly good lamp?)

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Next, you’ll remove two small phillip head screws to remove the ceramic socket from the socket shell. Once you’ve separated it, you’ll have 2 more screws to undo, releasing the original wire ends.

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Now it’s time to install the new electrical cord! We buy our supplies from Snake Head Vintage – not only is it very affordable, but there are countless options to mix and match ceiling canopies with cords. The black cord we purchased is very thick, so I had to carefully cut away a small length of cloth covering to enable the cord to fit through the socket shell. (This doesn’t matter, as it will be completely hidden once everything is put back together.) Next, slit the outer covering of the wire, being mindful to avoid cutting each of the individual wire sheaths. Use wire strippers to expose the ends of the black wire (hot) and white wire (neutral). The green wire (green = ground) can be left alone.


Affix the exposed ends of your wires to the screws on the back of the socket.


Screw the socket back into place, using the first two screws you removed and you’ve successfully re-wired a light!


On the opposite end, we used this canopy and ceiling mount kit, which comes with a strain relief that helps to support the pendant weight while affixing the wire to the canopy. Using the strippers again, now expose the black and white wires that will be wired in to your junction box. (Green was stripped for illustration purposes only; it wasn’t necessary for our application. This is a great article to understanding the colors of your electrical wires.)

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For the ceiling mount, we did everything the same as the light in our funny little nook, after cutting the power at the circuit breaker, of course!


The cloth cord will usually look a little kinked the first day or two, resulting in a slightly crooked pendant appearance. The good news it that it will relax over time – give it a day or two – and your light should level out perfectly.

We’ve spent the last few days putting the finishing touches on the guest room, and I think it might be our favorite room yet! Photos have been snapped, and the reveal is coming soon. Now we’ll just need to keep the momentum rolling when it eventually comes time to get to work on our bedroom, which, sadly, is still a pipe dream away. (On the other hand, did someone say kitchen?)

This time last year, our poor yard was so covered in sawdust and our contractor’s bevvy of tools that we never really stopped to realize that our front lawn (more of a dirt patch at that point) was almost entirely shaded by 3 mature trees. Why does this matter now you ask? After a few brisk days, those three trees were tricked into thinking that autumn was already here, and it started dropping leaves like it was going out of style.

This is only the second time in our lives that we’ve had a “real” yard to take care of (and a first in Chicago!), so managing the oncoming mountain of leaves is a little bit outside of our wheelhouse. After realizing that we’d quickly be fighting a losing battle if we didn’t get ahead of the leaves early, we partnered with our pals over at Ace Hardware to involve some heavy artillery. Toro Electric Blower/Vac to the rescue!


On no less than three occasions, Kim has been absolutely convinced that we’ve found a way to murder our newly planted lawn. (I’m not saying she’s overly dramatic, but I’m not saying she isn’t…) Each time we’ve raked it, walked on it, or that one time we held a yard sale (literally, in our yard), she was sure we’d wasted time and energy planting it in the first place. A blower/vac was the perfect solution to remove and pulverize the leaves without harming the grass. Yeah!

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After a few minutes easily blowing the leaf litter out of our grass and small mulch bed, I switched over to vac mode and sucked everything up into the included bag. The upside to city living? It took no more than fifteen minutes, and our lawn was leaf free! Nice. Side note: The photo below was taken before I had finished blowing the leaves, hence the, um, super leaf-y yard. I may have been excited to give the vacuum a test run!


And because you all know Ace is all about sharing the love and helping you check off your to-dos, together with the Ace crew, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! The giveaway runs through Tuesday, September 30th at 5pm CST; simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be announced within this post by Tuesday evening. Good luck and happy entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with the tools necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own.