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Chimney Sweep, Sort Of.

When working on a house this old, it’s so easy to get distracted and want to do all the things!, and it’s equally easy to question the order in which to do so. You all know that our lack of baseboards in the entryway (and living room and studio) are driving this girl right up a wall, and while we keep saying, it’s next on our list!, it’s totally not. We don’t think.

This is partially due to funds (each room will be upwards of $200+ on the low side due to the much larger trim we chose) and partially because there are other items that are more important. (Oh, studio, studio. I’m looking at you.) There’s also the need for much needed down time (as we recently discovered during life’s messy moments), and we’re also at a point where we need to pick and choose how we spend our money. In between the more costly projects, we also need to do things that’ll make an impact on us now without requiring too much receipt tracking and account draining.

So! Over the weekend, I finally took care of something I had meant to do before we painted the studio pink. Again, sometimes the order gets fuzzy when you have tunnel vision – and in that case, family in town meant painted walls were way, way more important than this nagging to-do: Cleaning that chimney!

The chimney in the studio was uncovered when we tore down the crooked wall that divided the room in half, and at this point, it’s purely for aesthetic purposes. (You might remember that our contractors added support into our first floor ceiling to handle the weight.) It’s not gorgeous by any means – tuck pointing, anyone? – but we love the added element in the big, open floor plan. It’s charming. It has imperfections and flaws, and it’s well over 100-years-old, still standing, and we love it.

The one thing we could easily fix though? The black soot that trailed down the front. It never once crossed our minds to paint the brick (a few of our friends asked if we would do so, but we love the look in its natural state), so it would need a good scrub down. My first round of internet searching for what to do, what to do? brought up a whole lot of nothing (mostly a good power washing – um, no!), but I eventually stumbled upon this forum thread suggesting Greased Lightning, which by the way, can do about a hundred things – laundry, household cleaning, wine spills! We’re not affiliated with them in any way, just genuinely impressed! Here’s what we did to get our perfectly imperfect brick chimney looking its best:

Greased Lightning
Spray bottle with water
Old towels
Handle bristle brush (soft-medium)
Coarse bristle brush
Protective respirator  mask

WHAT WE DID: The process was really simple, although it did require some muscle and a couple of hours. Before doing anything, I wrapped a few old towels around the base of the chimney to catch all the gunk. I then worked in small sections down the front (and a little bit around the sides where the soot had trailed over), starting at the top and working my way down. Over and over (and over again), I did this: Saturate with Greased Lightning, scrub, rinse with water, repeat. I did each section 2-3 times, allowing my softer bristle brush to do most of the legwork and switching over to the course brush for really tough spots. I also found that if I sprayed some water after the Greased Lightning, it would suds up more, which I liked. Note: This stuff smells pretty strong, so I’d recommend a respirator mask!

After completing each section, I did a final rinse with a lot of water, pointing the nozzle at a downward angle to direct the grimy water towards the base of the chimney. Every 15-20 minutes, I’d rinse my scrub brushes and wipe down the surrounding walls of any splatter.

Two hours later, I was done! I’ll admit that it was a little bit of a guessing game since the brick was so wet; right after completion, everything looked pretty dark:

But the next morning, we had a clean chimney! There’s a small section down the front left side at the top that’s a teeny bit darker than the rest of the bricks, which might maybe mean it’s still wet – even now (is that possible?). Or are the bricks just a bit discolored after decades of soot filth? Overall, the Greased Lightning really did the trick, and now that it’s clean, I can’t believe we let it go for this long. (But isn’t that always the case? I’ll be saying the same thing about those f@!*ing baseboards.)

One last step that we’ve considered is sealing everything in, either with a low sheen Polycrylic or a made-just-for-this brick sealer. We don’t have any issues with the chimney being dusty or crumbly, so it might not matter at all – but perhaps it’ll be just what it needs. Have any of you sealed your interior chimney/fireplace surrounds, and if so, did it make a difference?

Now, just imagine the studio with baseboards! (Okay, I’ll stop with that. For now.)

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - February 26, 2014 - 7:36 AM

    Love the exposed chimney and cleaning it made a total difference. It might be a good idea to seal it with brick sealerReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ 702 Park Project - February 26, 2014 - 8:11 AM

    Wow, it looks great!! What a cool feature! :)ReplyCancel

  • Brandi G - February 26, 2014 - 8:19 AM

    Just found your blog and love it. We are seven years into a remodel of a 1950′s ranch house and still don’t have baseboards. Soon though!! Good luck with your reno.ReplyCancel

  • Helen - February 26, 2014 - 8:46 AM

    I did seal some similar aged brick on our second floor and it made it noticeably darker and most definitely orange-er. I think the brand of masonry sealer I used was called Jasco? If it’s not dusty or crumbling, I might skip it. If you want the color to look richer and darker, go for it!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - February 26, 2014 - 8:50 AM

    What a difference! It really looks great. I think I’d go ahead and seal it, just to keep all your hard work protected for years to come.ReplyCancel

  • Cait - February 26, 2014 - 8:58 AM

    The chimney looks great! I’m still totally jealous of the exposed brick. Crossing my fingers that our fireplace is brick under the tile and can be salvaged.

    And I know what you mean when you say “I can’t believe we let it go this long”! Sadly I feel that way about a lot of things around our house.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 26, 2014 - 9:04 AM

    Thanks, guys!

    Helen, oh, that’s good to know! I didn’t even think of it potentially changing the brick color. Hmm, something to think about.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ hurricane sandwich and the casita - February 26, 2014 - 9:04 AM

    This is such a fun feature in the room! Also, we are in the midst of similar projects… halfway through baseboards after many months in the house, and noticing how sooty the chimney is looking. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - February 26, 2014 - 9:57 AM

    Wow! What a difference that made!! I will definitely have to look into that type of cleaner. (and your baseboards will be in at some point and they will be gorgeous :-))ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@CapeofDreams - February 26, 2014 - 11:16 AM

    The brick will probably be easier to clean in the future if you seal it. It looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Jackie - February 26, 2014 - 7:56 PM

    The chimney looks good :)

    On a baseboard related note, have you looked for a door & trim store in your area, as opposed to just a hardware store or home improvement store? When we replaced ours we found they were *significantly* cheaper at the specialty stores.ReplyCancel

  • Marie - February 27, 2014 - 9:08 AM

    The sealing idea looks great, I’d vote for it. With the great job done, it’ll keep it as long as possible without you needed to clean the chimney too soon.
    About the baseboards, I can’t wait to see it done, too. What about a whole post on the subject ? I’d like you to show us how to do because I’d need your advice, and also because I LOVE your awesome US baseboards. We don’t see them often in Europe, most of the time only flat boring ones. What a shame. Please, baseboards post, please ;-)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 27, 2014 - 10:16 AM

      Marie, thanks! We’ll keep that in mind. We have so many rooms to do, so a better break down of what we do / how we did it could be helpful. Thank you for the input!ReplyCancel

  • stephanie@babasouk - March 5, 2014 - 11:07 AM

    Wow this is impressive work guys! It looks so clean now…incredible. Hard work pays off!ReplyCancel


Vittsjo Refined

The purpose for our nook: Sit. Relax. Enjoy music. We knew this would be our funny little room to play our records (man, we‘ve really been missing our records!), read a good book and hang with the pets. A few readers mentioned here that they could totally see our girls sneaking into this room, baking in the sun and leaving only in the evenings to fill up on tuna. These comments were so endearing to me, that my only hopes for this room is to make that true.

To make this happen, we’ll still need to find the perfect body-hugging chair, and we’re working on piecing together our former living room’s Flor tiles (although we’re thinking those will be for the interim). We also needed a place to stash our vinyl collection, and as we mentioned after painting the room green, we finally assembled an Ikea Vittsjo unit that was originally intended for the kitchen – which, by the way, will mean we’ll need to get another one for the kitchen. They’re inexpensive, well made (for Ikea), and the perfect alternative to, say, the much-loved Expedit or Billy bookcases. But because records are heavy, we needed to reinforce the glass shelves they come with for something that can bear the weight:

Like most Ikea pieces, there are many, many ways to hack an item – so many! Kate at Centsational Girl has a great write-up on nothing but Vittsjo ideas, and while we toyed with the idea of a different color altogether, we actually really liked the matte black finish for this room (the kitchen, however, may get a whole different treatment!). Our plan? We wanted to add wood shelving not only for the warm look it would provide, but again, to give us enough support for all of our records.

The original glass shelves actually sit on small tabs inside the steel frame, and we would need to fit shelves to sit on top of the steel frame. (Support, support, support!) The measurement needed for each shelf was 14 1/4″d X 39 3/8″w, which meant that our (more affordable) options were mostly limited to 4×8 sheets, as common board planks only have a depth of 11 1/2.” This, of course, turned into quite the debate at the store, as we couldn’t bring ourselves to purchase the smaller laminated pine sheets that would allow for only one shelf per board. That would’ve added a cost of $80 to a $70 shelf, which felt silly.

After walking up and down the aisles for a ridiculous amount of time (and considering buying MDF and just painting the shelves), we finally decided to buy a 4′x8′ sheet of birch plywood for $40. We chose a sheet with a nice grain, and we had the sheet cut down in the store for all of our shelves! After ripping the whole board down to 39 3/8″, a friendly sales associate continued to cut that down to 14 1/4″ planks, which gave us enough for 6 shelves – leaving us with 1 extra (always good to have in case of a mistake!).

Now that we had our shelves, we would need to notch out the room needed for the vertical supports, so I made a paper template. For anyone wanting to do the same, these were the measurements needed on our 14 1/4″d X 39 3/8″w stencil:

We laid our template on each shelf, I traced the notches with pencil, and Scott used a jigsaw to cut out the little squares needed for the vertical supports.

Each shelf got a good sanding, then I spent the next couple of days staining and applying Polycrylic to each one. For the color, I used two coats of Minwax Special Walnut, which is a shade we’ve come to love for a true medium brown (no reddish tint!). I followed the stain with two coats of Polycrylic, giving it a light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper between coats one and two. We allowed the shelves to dry for a week before putting our heavy records on them – although to be honest, it was simply because life got busy (and an extended dry time never hurt, right?)

With our shelves ready to go, we would need to add horizontal supports on the sides of the bookcase if we wanted our records to have a place to lean. The negative space between the front and back vertical supports is almost 13,” and with a record being 12,” well, we would need to remedy that. Scott suggested we use these 3/4″w aluminum flat bars (so smart!), cut them down to size and screw them directly into the bookcase…

Like this! We sprayed them with matte black paint (using a spray primer first), and touched up the screw heads with a cotton swab. One of our favorite tricks for spray paint touch up? Spray the paint directly in the lid, then use the little pool of paint with a small brush or cotton swab to cover up what you need:

After I loaded our records on the bottom two shelves, I very excitedly went through each of our still packed (!) boxes labeled decor. Oh, I was so happy to see our old vases, cameras and mini Polaroids. I scattered a few favorite pieces around the house (including my hot pink Sexy Rexy, which I couldn’t run up to the studio fast enough!), but finally settled on this still in-progress shelving set up.

Our main hesitation in choosing plywood for the shelves was knowing that we’d be able to see the edges (which is not plywood’s finest point), and you know what? We kind of love them. The birch plywood we chose has a beautiful grain on the surface, and seeing those laminated edges really – like, really, really – doesn’t bother us like we thought they might.

As much as I love a good photo of Jack (I mean, you know we’re obsessed with him), he would not move out of this shot. He does this funny side smile and won’t make eye contact when he’s being stubborn, which is exactly what he’s doing here. In any case, I’m taking the photo below while being tucked way back in the corner – eventually, this will be where the turntable will sit on a little bureau of some sort – to give you an idea of just how adorably small this nook is. Our giclée print mimics the colors in our records on the opposite side of the room, which makes us happy.

Our chair, ottoman and Flor-tiles-to-be are still in flux (especially the chair), not because we don’t like the way it looks, but because we definitely imagine something cozier. Warmer. The girls – and me, too! – need a good napping chair.

We’re almost positive we’ll be putting another Vittsjo in the kitchen for open storage, and we’ve been tossing around ideas for how we’ll handle that one. A bright color? Blue? Pink? White? Wood shelves again? We love a good Ikea makeover, and we’re sure you’ve got some up your sleeves, too! Can we see?


PS… Better Homes & Garden has nominated these two kids as the top 5 in the Decorating category of their Blogger Awards! We’re still speechless that we’ve made it to this point (we’re in pretty fantastic company; we urge you to check out all the finalists), and we’d love a vote from you! Voting can be done once an hour and runs through March 5th. Winners in each category will be mentioned in an upcoming issue of BHG – crazy! Click here to vote. Thank you; we love you. XO.


  • angela - February 24, 2014 - 7:26 AM

    Love the shelves! I have seen them at IKEA and have been thinking about where I can use them in my own home. The shelves look great with wood, too!

    Angela @ Number Fifty-ThreeReplyCancel

  • Amanda - February 24, 2014 - 8:45 AM

    I love these shelves! I wish I had an Ikea around here. Maybe I’ll have to do some online shopping …ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - February 24, 2014 - 9:07 AM

    Love this hack! And I too like the plywood edges. It adds to the rustic-ness (?) and retro vibe of the records and room.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 24, 2014 - 9:18 AM

      Angela, go for it! This unit is one of the better made ikea items and full of custom possibilities!

      Laura, oh, yes, more rustic for sure.ReplyCancel

  • andee - February 24, 2014 - 9:43 AM

    I love your idea about spraying paint into the cap and using a q-tip. One of those, why didn’t I think of that it’s so simple…DOH moments for me.ReplyCancel

  • Cait - February 24, 2014 - 9:46 AM

    Those look great! I totally need to do that in our Art Room for books and supplies! I was going to do a similar Ikea Hyllis hack in our Library, but we just lucked into some hutches at ReStore this weekend and we’re going to make into build-ins. (fingers crossed that goes well)ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 24, 2014 - 10:04 AM

    Ooh, good luck, Cait! How fun.ReplyCancel

  • Marie - February 24, 2014 - 10:16 AM

    Once again, you made the most of it and this shelving unit is absolutely awesome. I love the edges too, and thank you for the trick about spray paint. I bet Jack was dreaming about a future sunny day in the nook, I can see that on your picture. I read your “sage” post and I’m glad it worked very well. Never forget to always look on the bright side of life – Jack does !ReplyCancel

  • Hannah K. - February 24, 2014 - 10:27 AM

    I love everything about this room — I want one in my own home!ReplyCancel

  • Cait - February 24, 2014 - 10:27 AM

    Thanks Kim! If it turns out half as nice as your amazing media wall in the condo I’ll be over the moon!ReplyCancel

  • Meg - February 24, 2014 - 10:30 AM

    Damn, you guys are good.ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - February 24, 2014 - 10:49 AM

    So, Sorry – not sure if I’m not reading your post right …. did you leave the glass shelves in and just put the wood on top or have you removed them? If you’ve removed them – what are you going to do with the glass?

    Beautiful little nook is coming along nicely. I actually just picked up a sample of that paint because I think it would be nice in my bathroom! Thanks as always for your inspiration!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 25, 2014 - 2:29 PM

      Hi Katherine, sorry your comment got stuck in spam! We did leave the glass in, but it’s not actually supporting anything. The glass sits INSIDE the steel shelving unit, and the wooden shelves sit on TOP of the steel. And thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Staci - February 24, 2014 - 12:27 PM

    This is awesome. Was it hard to get the plywood into place after you had made all the appropriate cuts and whatnot? Do you think the aluminum supports will support the weight of the records over the long haul?
    I love the way the edges of the stained plywood look, too.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 24, 2014 - 12:52 PM

    Staci, nope, once we had our boards cut down (ever-so-slightly on the large side), they went in smoothly. When I traced my lines with the template, Scott cut on the OUTSIDE of my lines, so it’s a snug fit, but definitely not loose at all.

    You know, this bookcase feels really sturdy overall, but that’s a valid question. The plywood adds SO much support, so we don’t think we’ll have any problems (there’s no bowing of any kind happening, and there’s a lot of weight on them!), so we don’t think so. Of course time will tell, so if we ever need to upgrade for poor support reasons, we’ll surely blog about it!ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Adventures of a Dog Mom - February 24, 2014 - 1:18 PM

    I love it, in fact I love what you’ve done with this room!ReplyCancel

  • tia - February 24, 2014 - 2:01 PM

    omg u have midnight marauders on vinyl!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 24, 2014 - 2:10 PM

    Wow, good eye, Tia! That gets played a LOT in our home.ReplyCancel

  • caroline [the diy nurse] - February 24, 2014 - 3:16 PM

    I’m loving it! I think the wooden shelves make it look 100 times more substantial. With the glass it just looks so wimpy. And I like the wood edges too- its like a subtle pattern :)ReplyCancel

  • Cyd - February 24, 2014 - 7:28 PM

    Love this! I’ve been wanting a set or nine of the Vittsjo shelves, too, and I love this look. Also I’ve been voting for you guys like crazy since Friday! ;-)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 24, 2014 - 7:49 PM

      Thanks, Cyd! How awesome would a WHOLE bunch of these along a long wall? And I’ve been voting for you like crazy too!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@CapeofDreams - February 25, 2014 - 4:04 PM

    If you ever want to change the look of the plywood sides, it would be really easy to put birch tape around the sides. You just iron it on and then trim with a chisel and sand. It looks good the way it is, but it would look a little more finished that way.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 26, 2014 - 7:26 AM

    Jessica, we did toy with that idea… we’re not ruling it out, but I was so sure I would hate the look, and surprisingly, we really ended up liking it! Thanks for the tip.ReplyCancel

  • Krista - February 27, 2014 - 5:02 AM

    Wow! I wish I’d seen this before we blew the bank on some Besta that we’re not really loving in our space.
    I think birch ply edges can be really beautiful when finished in more of a clear coat manner vs staining.
    Great job!ReplyCancel

  • [...] was posted in Design on March 2, 2014 by Drew Lambert. My husband, Scott, and I have this funny little room just off our main living space. Over the past several months, it has unofficially become our [...]ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - March 12, 2014 - 1:32 PM

    Hi! As a fellow vinyl collecting couple we were scouring the internet looking for record storage solutions as we just weren’t happy with our current situation. Love this, AND we have a pair of unused Vittsjo sitting in storage!! I read a bunch of other entries but was super curious to see if you could give some more info on how (if?) you plan on connecting your record player up to your stereo system? Very, Very curious! And, LOVE the house! It’s looks very similar to the direction we are taking in our new home! I’ll definitely be following to see what you do next!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina - March 13, 2014 - 1:55 AM

    Love, love, love! Just bought a pair of the Vittsjo series shelves and I’ve been searching all over the place for clear instructions on how to add the DIY wood shelving. FINALLY! My search is over, hehe. You guys did such an amazing job, can’t wait to get started! Keep it up, will definitely be following :) Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 13, 2014 - 8:37 AM

    Hi Melissa, thank you! Do you mean how are we connecting the record player to our stereo system, while the stereo system is in another room? I’ll let Scott chime in on that one, since he’s the master of all the cabling (he should be chiming in soon!)

    Katrina, so happy to hear!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - March 14, 2014 - 10:49 AM

    Hi Katrina! YES! We actually have the same old sound system as yours in our old home but kept everything in the same cabinet. However in our new home we wanted to upgrade (looooove your selection btw! Definitely on our short list!) and have a separate record area, VERY similar to what you guys did. Was just curious how you guys plan to connect everything! I get that it’s not something that would interest most people, so thank you for your quick response! REALLY appreciated! You guys are the only reference to sound systems and record players AND video game consoles I’ve been able to find!
    P.s. We sold our home before we bought a new one so we’ve been crashing at my inlaws while we wait for settlement and I SO get the “we really miss our records” sentiment. DYING!ReplyCancel

  • Scott - March 14, 2014 - 5:27 PM

    Hey Melissa! We are lucky enough that that wall behind the main media center (where the TV is mounted) buts up to the room where the turntable now lives. We used the hole that the TV cables run through on the TV side, and the flexible pass-through wall plate linked below on the “nook room” side. The RCA connection cables (as well as our tiny turntable pre-amp) will run behind the Vittsjo unit and stay out of sight. The installation was simple with the included template and only took about a half hour. Hope this helps and good luck!


Burn & Cleanse

As some of you had gathered from this seemingly unassuming post on baseboards, the last handful of weeks for this little family has seen some rocky patches. We don’t tend to air our grievances here on the blog (unless it’s the ups and downs of DIY), simply because we see this virtual home of ours as a happy place. Yes, we’ve been known to get off topic and freely share the insurmountable stresses involved with living in a dust bowl for months (and months), but the reason we come back here week after week (and year after year!) is probably for the same reasons you do – to share how this home is, and will constantly be, unfolding. To be inspired by you, have conversations with you, and as we often do, ask you to chime in with your ideas and help us cultivate the swirling thoughts in our heads.

Lately, it felt as though Scott and I had been handed over a big bowl of lemons, so to speak, and that bowl was getting bigger and bigger and bigger. (If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.) We were starting to get crabby with each other (which is just a terrible feeling), and our normal DIY-tasks for the weeknights and ends felt like mountains we didn’t want to climb. It wasn’t that we were angry to be installing baseboards, no, but a cloud had settled over us and things were feeling… foggy? Despite our best attempts to calmly talk to each other, our recent bout of stressors created hasty judgement and irrational thinking. We were having trouble seeing through the haze, and one day last week, we hit our breaking point.

We said, this has got to stop. We no longer wanted to be upset doing the things that we love to do! We hated that we were being so short with each other! We were tired of feeling exhausted by the idea of projects X, Y and Z – projects we would normally be thrilled to do. It wasn’t our to-do lists making us mad; it wasn’t even this never ending winter. A small dinner gathering with friends had us realizing that hey, listen up! It was up to us to turn those frowns upside down. It’s us – and only us – that can control how we respond during these times that aren’t complete sunshine. So, we did two things.

For starters, we accepted that we were ready to get back to our old selves. (Do you know how hard that is when you’re feeling so down?) And second, we tried something that I had been curious about for years (after first seeing Kathleen do the same). We burned sage.

Sage is known to cleanse, purify and bless, and in practice, it’s commonly done inside a home. (We are by no means experts, and we have the utmost respect for those that are.) This isn’t something we’d typically do, but the negative energy in our home had to go, and to be quite honest, we were feeling that we had been hitting nothing but dead ends. We were open to try something new. We not only needed to clear our minds and give ourselves a mental fresh start, but we no longer wanted this house to be a trigger for our underlying stress – especially when it was never this house’s fault in the first place. And so, we burned sage. After the initial lighting, we blew out the flame and allowed it to smolder, carrying it throughout the house. We held it up to doorways and corners of the rooms, and yes, we even held it up to us and our pets. We said, good riddance, bad vibes!

It has been cathartic in a way that we never thought possible, and whether or not the effects are placebo-esque or tried and true practice, we feel better. Our home feels better. We did the same a few more times throughout the course of this week, and we’re ready to think clearly again; we’re ready to be our best selves. And while this is so far out of our realm of normalcy (add to that our blog-writing-comfort-zone), we’d love to know more from those of you who have banished the bad. Or, maybe, you’ve considered this cleansing, too?

PS… Yeah, that photo totally looks like something else. We picked up our white sage ‘smudge’ at Whole Foods, and there’s a good bit left for many, many cleansings.

  • Sally - February 21, 2014 - 6:39 AM

    Very interesting. We are in the process of evicting a tenant for non payment of rent (very stressful) and I have been thinking about how to clear the negative energy after he has gone. My husband will think I’m crazy, but I am planning to clap the energy out of the space, something I read about on the interwebs. I think anything like this is worth a try, and I’m glad you have found something that has worked for you.

    Love following your progress and hope you can find the enjoyment of it all again!ReplyCancel

  • Jane - February 21, 2014 - 6:57 AM

    First, let me say that I’m sorry you guys are going through a rough patch. You’re right, this is always a happy place to come to and read. You guys do an amazing job at being positive and just plain *awesome* on here.

    Second, I think that burning sage is a great idea. I am not sure if I believe that it truly does anything physically to alter the aura or energy or whatever, (though I’d like to think it does). Regardless, I think the act of burning the sage is very intentional, and because of that, it’s like you’re consciously setting the new tone that can help get past an emotionally rough time.

    Finally, I love that you said “It’s us – and only us – that can control how we respond during these times that aren’t complete sunshine.” – I agree so strongly with that sentiment. I did training on that a few years ago at work, about how we are in charge of our reactions. But man, when you’re in a funk it can be so hard to consciously try to turn those negative thoughts in a more positive direction.

    All this rambling to say. . . I agree with you, loved this post, and am sending cheer your way.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - February 21, 2014 - 7:09 AM

    I am so sorry to hear that things are rough for you all right now. I totally hear you though – for us it always seems that when we are down, more and more things keep piling up.
    Honestly we have had a rough couple weeks as well and my mom actually gave me a smudge of sage and although I felt a little goofy at first walking around the house, I honestly love the feeling afterward. It smells awesome which is a plus and it was just a nice thing – I think the act of it, of knowingly setting an intention of good energy flowing into us and the home was the key.
    I really hope things start looking up for you – we are in the positive direction now (stuff has gotten fixed, pups have healed up, etc.) and I know you guys will be soon too.

    Thank you for this post and Happy, Happy Friday :-)ReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ 702 Park Project - February 21, 2014 - 8:34 AM

    I know this feeling all too well. Our 4 month restoration project is now in its 10th month. About a month ago, my husband and I got to a point where we couldn’t even mention the house without a huge negative cloud moving in. We were no longer finding joy in the process and just wanted it to be DONE. But after a long conversation, we both agreed to be thankful for the good things that were happening, and not dwell on the things that weren’t exactly going as planned. Things have been better, and next week we have plans to bless the house, and I’m so looking forward to it! :)ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - February 21, 2014 - 8:45 AM

    Oh, I totally understand. Working on a house can be draining and fun at the same time. And you’ve been doing so much hard work lately! Hope the sage (and your renewed mindset) helps. From my perspective, you’re doing an amazing job. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 21, 2014 - 8:49 AM

    Sally, I’ve never heard of clapping! And I’m so sorry you have to go through that. Just reading the words alone caused my heart to beat in panic. I sincerely hope things look up for you.

    Thank you, guys! We are feeling much better. Even writing that post made me feel better. Just a series of bad luck and unfortunate circumstances came along, but things are turning a corner, thank goodness. (We can’t remember the last time we felt so out of whack.)ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl - February 21, 2014 - 9:17 AM

    I actually really like this. I’ve had a lot of financial stress this week, and at one point, I said out loud: I need to start over. As someone else said, this is a really “intentional” way of doing that. I may just have to try it myself. Thanks, and I hope you guys are able to pull yourselves out of your funk.ReplyCancel

  • zandi @ radical possibility - February 21, 2014 - 9:57 AM

    i’m always drawn to blogs that are happier, with a focus on the good sides of life rather than using it as a platform for venting. but, by immersing myself in those corners of the internet, it feels as though i’m the only one that hits walls, that fights with my partner, that just does not want to finish a project.

    all that to say, im sorry you hit the wall that we all know too well, but i appreciate you talking about it. its real, and it sucks, and im glad you’re nearing the light at the end of the tunnel! i honestly think that this spring is going to be what soooo many of us chicagoans need.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 21, 2014 - 10:08 AM

      Zandi, agreed. I enjoy reading blogs for inspiration, and I avoid the ones that vent. Even still, it’s helpful to know that the beautiful blogs have specifically curated that happy space, and that doesn’t mean there are never road bumps! We all have our bad days.

      Also? I was totally catching up on your blog while you left a comment on ours. Whoa.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - February 21, 2014 - 10:25 AM

    This post totally hit home for me today. We’ve felt lost in a bowl of lemons at our house too and hit the breaking point last night. Fortunately, after a long night of talking and listening, we came out of it with a plan of attack. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for putting it out there, it was a good read this morning.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 21, 2014 - 11:41 AM

    Angela, we’re sending good vibes your way!ReplyCancel

  • Jill - February 21, 2014 - 12:01 PM

    I believe in these kinds of ritual-type things, a form of meditation. I also have realized that my diet plays a huge role in my emotions. Sugar is soooo bad for my mind; I get depressed & downright mean!!! I also have discovered how awesome stretching before bed is; you realize just how much tension you physically carry in your neck, shoulders & back!!! It’s nuts & helps ease that “weight of the world” on your back. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 21, 2014 - 12:22 PM

    Jill, great tip! I always think I should stretch before bed, but neglect to do it. Diet is another thing we should take into consideration, especially because there are days where we’ll be so into working on a project, that we’ll totally forget to eat! Not good. We’ve been better about it, but we need to make a much better effort for our own sanity. (Scott will say, you’re getting “hangry!” – you know that!)ReplyCancel

  • Grace - February 21, 2014 - 12:49 PM

    This light is epic! It works perfectly with the basketweave tile…so chic!ReplyCancel

  • Leslie - February 21, 2014 - 1:55 PM

    Best of luck getting back to “normal”. I can’t even begin to image how much stress can be brought on by a home renovation. Have you thought about taking a break from the projects? Do you work on home stuff every day?ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 21, 2014 - 1:59 PM

    Thanks, Leslie! The home renovation really isn’t the problem, and that’s the most frustrating part. Our other “gloom” was, however, bringing us down during the renovations – which was causing the frustration. And yes, we’ll be taking a little bit of a break this weekend! :)ReplyCancel

  • caroline [the diy nurse] - February 21, 2014 - 11:34 PM

    I love this. My husband and I have also been in a rut but more of a physical fitness one [that was quickly spreading to other areas]. I just wrote a post of how I was starting to come out of it. It’s amazing how exercise and eating right can give you so much more energy- not that that’s news but when it’s the last thing you want to do it’s a big deal when you actually do it. SO yay for getting back on the diy horse, sage and all :)ReplyCancel

  • WEEKEND LINKS. - PINK LOVES PURPLE - February 28, 2014 - 8:04 AM

    [...] Burn & cleanse?  I may have to try this… [...]ReplyCancel