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Soon after sharing our pairs of chairs, I began the process of ordering a handful of fabric swatches for our recent estate sale find. There was some definite push back on keeping them as-is (even having family give us a ring and claim that they loved them, just the way they were!), but! Allow us to explain? We’ve nothing against the mustard color, say, in our living room of yore, but for our living room of right now, it felt too much like all the colors! Blue, red and yellow together has been a bit much, even now as the chairs harmlessly sit in place and wait for their makeover. The fabric is nubby and somewhat scratchy, not to mention, there’s the unmistakable scent of old perfume and 50 years of dust. They’ve been loved once, and that’s half the charm of a good furniture upcycle! (We love imagining a great back story.)

In their new life, however, we’re going the mellow route. Their mid century shape has our hearts, but we wanted a fabric that wouldn’t compete with our loud-mouthed rug and sofa. And although our walls are a soft gray – sometimes warm, but mostly cool – we opted to choose a handful of swatches in a similar color family to keep the room feeling lighter overall. We’ll break up the monotony of gray with a pillow (or two) and a throw (or two), but we’ll allow the velvet couch to remain the seating star.


We shopped for swatches through our usual haunts –, West Elm and House Fabric – and with a 4 pet household, our main focus was durability! We narrowed our choices down to a couple of favorites, then we gave them a literal scratch test with a push pin. Anything with too loose of a weave was out (sorry, linens!), but we immediately honed in on two Sunbrella samples: Frequency Ash and Canvas Granite. Although they’re both outdoor fabrics, they were super soft to the touch, but most importantly, no matter how hard Scott ripped the pin across the fabric, they would not tear, pull or give in the least. In other words? Kitty safe!


In the end, we chose Sunbrella Frequency Ash (above), for the slight slub texture that was reminiscent of linen without the too-open weave, and it has enough interest to be a step above solid gray. After receiving a 7-yard estimate per chair from our favorite upholsterers (who will also be taking on the job), we made the purchase! While it wasn’t the least expensive option, we feel good knowing that Sunbrella is tough enough for the long haul, and in the end, the cost of upholstery + fabric + the chair price is still lower than a high quality, store-bought arm chair. Not to mention, they don’t make them like they used to! And of course we love a good rescue; no one else will have ‘em.

And now? We wait. We wait for the fabric to get here, and we wait for the upholstery team to work their magic. Waiting; the hardest part, they say!

  • Jyll - August 14, 2014 - 7:42 AM

    I just received my fabric swatches from for a couple chairs I’m recovering and I swear we picked all the same swatches! Unfortunately the sunbrella ones are out of our price range but I still want to find something on the lighter side with darker grey variations!

    My issue is I keep seeing the exact fabric I want on couches and chairs but never at the fabric store … Guess I’ll have to keep looking!

    Can’t wait to see your chairs finished!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 14, 2014 - 7:48 AM

      Jyll, depending on where you see the chairs you like, most stores will sell their upholstery fabric by the yard! Worth a shot to ask. Also, definitely check out House Fabric – they have the Sunbrella Canvas Graphite for way less than!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - August 14, 2014 - 8:50 AM

    I’m a big fan of gray anyway, but I like the texture of this fabric as well. The chairs will recede into the background of the room somewhat, but still have a bit of personality.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - August 14, 2014 - 8:59 AM

    Great choice. Did you hit up House Fabric again?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 14, 2014 - 9:10 AM

      We did! We found a few Sunbrella choices we liked there, but they didn’t have Frequency Ash. So, won out!ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - August 14, 2014 - 9:18 AM

    Excellent choice. Whilst I love the look of the yellow I totally understand getting them redone. Especially when they have an old scent. Yuk. Can’t wait to see them! They will look amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - August 14, 2014 - 11:35 AM

    Thanks SO MUCH for sharing the name of your upholsterers!!! I have so many older pieces that I love but every estimate I have gotten for recovering has just left me hanging onto the old fabrics (yuck).

    Can’t wait to see the chairs with their new lookReplyCancel

  • David Vargo - August 14, 2014 - 12:52 PM

    Good bye smelly, itchy chairs. We tried to talk K&S into keeping you around. The new look will be awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Cara@theprojectaddict - August 14, 2014 - 4:54 PM

    Can’t wait to see the chairs. I love your couch! I’m looking for fabric for some dining chairs and that granite sumbrella may be perfect. I love fabric.comReplyCancel

  • Trude - August 15, 2014 - 12:20 PM

    Comfort is such a priority for me that it would have made this choice easy for me too. They lived a good long life with that old fabric, time to be reborn! ;) Besides, fabric is the easy part, it’s the good bones that are important!ReplyCancel

  • laura - August 15, 2014 - 4:15 PM

    I have to say I love the original fabric on those yellow chairs. I even love them with the busy rug since the walls are white.
    But I’m sure they will come out amazing.
    Covers Unlimited are the best!!! can’t wait to see the after.ReplyCancel

  • Kathy - August 21, 2014 - 9:33 AM

    I’m not sure if this has been asked before, but did you have that sofa reupholstered? If so, what fabric did you use? I have a chair that I want to have done, and what is on your sofa is exactly what I am looking for.



This post is a sort of last hurruh! from the entire archive of summer outdoor updates – from our decision to rebuild our front steps, which led to the replacement of our concrete pad, to planning our garden and the ultimate decision to nix a front path and go for the grass. After all that, Jack and CC now have a pee pit!


From the first time we mentioned the outdoor pit, we received a handful of puzzled comments and emails: A what? In short, it’s simply a designated outdoor area for our pups to do their business. It saves the grass and our newly planted boxwoods, but most importantly? It’s so simple and upped the curb appeal one more notch. (And it will further keep the appeal going strong as our grass, hopefully, stays green!)

With every decision that was made along this summer’s journey, we kept the pee pit in mind. (Weird? Maybe.) At the start of the season, we knew this would be the year we’d have a privacy fence installed, so when fresh concrete was poured, we asked our contractor to keep about a foot-and-half-distance between the edge of the pad to the start of our soon-to-be fence. This would be the home of the future pit:


All the supplies can be found at any big box hardware store, and while the materials and tools list is short, you’ll likely need a lot of it to fill the pit properly. We wanted our pit to run from the front fence to the front edge of our house, which was less than 30 square feet.

Weed block cloth
Pond pebbles / larger rocks
Pea gravel / smaller rocks

Measuring tape


WHAT WE DID. Our fence and slightly raised concrete acted as the outside edges of our pit, so if you’re building from scratch, you could always dig out an area of your lawn and use edging to keep the stones in, or you could pick up 2x4s to create any shape you like and have a raised pit! In our case, we planned on a 4″ deep bed for Jack and CC’s outdoor potty. This would allow for a 2″ base layer and 2″ top layer, which had up picking up 9 bags each of pond pebbles and pea gravel. It turned out to be a little too much, so we were actually able to extend the pit a little further beyond the front of our house.


After scooping out any remaining weeds and dead leaves, we used scissors to cut the block cloth to the width and length of our pit, which will prevent unwanted plants from pushing their way up. Starting with the pond pebbles, we poured them in, bag by bag. Any larger, rockier stone will do, as this acts as a drainage layer. While Scott poured, I used a shovel to smooth everything out.  Side note: There were a few small areas where the fence was slightly higher than the ground, so we stapled the cloth to the bottom of the fence to prevent spillage into the neighbor’s yard.


Once our drainage level was filled out, we laid down another sheet of weed blocking cloth. This time, the cloth is used to prevent your top layer from seeping into the cracks of the base level. From there, we poured our bags of pea gravel on top, and I smoothed them with my hands. (Um, does anyone else find it ironic that we used pea gravel for our pee pit?) Just like any type of larger stone would work for the drainage layer, any smaller, fine stone would work for the top!


And done! It took us all of an hour to complete the project (two and a half hours, if you count the trip to pick up supplies), and we’d say the hardest part is the heavy lifting; those bags of rocks are heavy.


You can see below that the gravel stops a few feet beyond our house, and eventually, we’d like to put a little fence or guard that’ll separate the front of the home from the back. Alongside the length of the house, we’ll be laying more gravel – mostly for peace of mind, as the garden unit windows can see out. Decorative pebbles are nicer than dirt, right? That’s a project that we’ll likely tackle next summer, once we get going on the back yard! (We’re already excited and nervous just thinking about that mountain.)


Of course the trickiest part is getting Jack and CC to actually use their designated area, and to do so, we’ve been clicker training them!


The idea is to use positive reinforcement – we give a nice big hooray! and toss them a treat while sounding the ‘click!’ – to let them know that peeing along the fence is good! (So good!) CC has been our stubborn little lady since the day we brought her home, but Jack has been a clicking success, so to speak, for years. He’s already shown CC how to, uh, use the pit properly (Hooray, Jackie!), and we know it’s only a matter of time before our little Chunk catches on, too.


As for maintaining the pit, rain will keep things odor free, however, a rinse with the hose every now and then helps. If they choose to forgo the ‘pee’ in ‘pit’ and opt for something else, it can be picked up and discarded as usual!


We have a good handful of months ahead of us before cooler weather settles into Chicago (oh, please!), so here’s hoping that grass stays green, the clicker clicks and the pups get a big round of applause with every potty break.

Can any other pee-pit-users chime in with tips? Successes? A funny story or two?

  • Valerie - August 12, 2014 - 8:07 AM

    Your wonderful pups inspired my fiance and I to adopt a rescue this past week. Lola is a schnauzer mix (I think the other half is pittie based on her build/brindle color). She is 9-12 mos old and a little loveable ham dispite her tragic first few months. Do you have any tips to share on how you got your pups acclimated to you/your home? Is there anything specific you found worked well for you?

    Thanks for having such a wonderful blog- we are DIY-ers as well and this pup is our next big project!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 12, 2014 - 10:12 AM

      Congrats on your newest addition! You have no idea how happy this made me. Is Lola your first pet? We’re big proponents of clicker training (which is really fairly simple to master), and we correct issues as we see them happening – not after we’ve stepped into a puddle and the dog has no idea why he/she might be in trouble (that’s just confusing). Our friends have a great dog blog that delves into a lot of useful information: Two Pitties in the City, and we also enjoy Love and a Leash (dig into her archives for tips and also heartwarming foster and adoption stories). So happy for you!ReplyCancel

      • Valerie - August 13, 2014 - 7:54 AM

        No- but she is my first rescue that I didn’t get as an 8 week old puppy and my first dog that I am raising in a city (or a 2 bed condo for that matter!). Fortunately we have plenty of parks to take her to but she’s not quite ready for off-leash play at the dog run. We definitely have work to do on not jumping on furniture- so we will have to give clicker training a try!

        Thanks for everything you do :-)ReplyCancel

  • caroline [the diy nurse] - August 12, 2014 - 8:43 AM

    You are my hero! This is brilliant. So pinning this for when we settle down :)ReplyCancel

  • Kelley - August 12, 2014 - 9:11 AM

    Love this idea! Just curious though – does the weed blocker impede drainage?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 12, 2014 - 10:08 AM

      Nope! The weed blocker is something that is used for a lot of landscaping, so it allows water to pass through, but it prevent weeds and unwanted grass/plants from popping up.ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Adventures of a Dog Mom - August 12, 2014 - 9:46 AM

    This is a great idea!ReplyCancel

  • Liz - August 12, 2014 - 10:47 AM

    I really like the pee pit idea, especially cause it will save your lawn and gives your pups a designated place to go even when it is cold (just a few stairs down from the front door is so convenient!)

    We dont have any dogs (one day!) but we have three kitties who have a “catio” off the side of our house that they access from a door in the basement. Because apparently my cats are lazy they quickly turned their catio floor into an impromptu pee pit (amongst other things) and we had a gross mess on our hands. We ended up putting down 12X12 concrete step stones in alternating colors or terracotta and gray to cover the bottom, preventing them from continuing to be lazy when their (very clean) litter boxes are mere feet from the basement entrance into the catio.

    Congrats on the yard- it looks amazing, and along with your gorgeous porch updates. Your house is really coming along! Thanks for sharing the journey with all of us!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 12, 2014 - 11:34 AM

      First, I LOVE the idea of a “catio,” but that’s terrible about the impromptu kitty pee pit! There are little worse messes in the world than kitty pee. No bueno.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@CapeofDreams - August 12, 2014 - 11:29 AM

    Are either of your dogs kickers? Kahlua likes to kick up the grass with her back legs after she does her business and my former dog did that as well. I love this idea but am wondering if she would kick all of the gravel out of the pit.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 12, 2014 - 3:52 PM

      Sometimes – not always! – Jack will kick. I suppose I’ve seen CC do it once or twice, too. We haven’t experienced yet on the pit, but I imagine it would absolutely kick up a mess! I guess it’s not so bad if that does happen though, as we can just sweep the pebbles back into the pit. If you have an all-the-time kicker, building a taller “fence” around the gravel could help!ReplyCancel

  • Kathy - August 12, 2014 - 11:46 AM

    I’m kind of embarrassed to say I always knew what you meant with the peepit! lol I have three about the size of yours. I have two that use the gravel, but one always always goes on grass. It’s just her preference, I guess, no matter how many treats she gets in the gravel! Oh well. I might break out that clicker again, you are right, it’s kinda weird but it does seem to get their attention. I had a rescue about 6 months one time, couldn’t get him to do much of anything. A trainer said start with the clicker, his name, and treat. Turned out the poor fella didn’t even know his own name! Once he connected his name with himself, he was much more willing to listen. Yay clicker!ReplyCancel

  • Jackie - August 12, 2014 - 12:01 PM

    I guess our entire yard is a pee pit for our Ridgeback, since we only have rock (no grass anyway) here in Az. My son’s pittie stayed with us for a while and really had to be coaxed off the patio and into the rock. (Of course he’s a little goofball anyway, and convinced that random things like muffin pans are out to get us, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.) I’m glad yours seem happier with the idea :)ReplyCancel

  • Julia at Home on 129 Acres - August 12, 2014 - 3:40 PM

    We live in the country, so the whole world is a pee pit for our pooch. I had a bit of a freakout on the weekend because I thought he was taking himself for a walk while I was gardening, but nope. He was just wandering into the soybean field so that he could do his business. Such a conscientious fellow. His weird hang-up is that he likes to pee and poop up high. So if he was at your place, you can bet he’d be aiming for the fence itself, not your beautiful gravel.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 12, 2014 - 3:43 PM

      Eh, it’s not so bad if it gets on the fence. Just not the grass! ;)

      I grew up in an area where we had a huge corn field behind our house. Our pup was free to do whatever he wished! In the city though? We find strange things to obsess over.ReplyCancel

  • Monika & Sam - August 14, 2014 - 10:22 PM

    Brilliant! Now…care to come out to a Colorado and show Sam how that whole pee pit thing works? Gold star for you guys for getting the fur kids to do their thing where you want them to.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - August 21, 2014 - 10:49 PM

    I love your puppy posts. Your dogs are so darling! I can’t get enough CC; she is so precious! <3ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 21, 2014 - 11:34 PM

      Thank you! She stole our hearts from the first meeting. Love that girl SO MUCH.ReplyCancel


This wasn’t on any of our outdoor to-do lists, but it was such an easy facelift to up our curb appeal. By no means is it perfect – it’s still a dented, old mailbox! – but it’s a major improvement over what we had going on before:


Our sad mailbox is welded onto our front gate, so it wasn’t as simple as undoing a few screws and attaching a new one. We considered going the new route, but the effort hardly seemed worth it (right now), as it would also require an unwanted dance with the post office of transferring locks and coordinating proper keys with our mail lady. A few months ago, I even called our local branch to ask what would be required, and the helpful woman on the phone sounded exasperated just explaining the protocol! When I asked if it was within our rights (not to sound overly dramatic, but Chicago has a lot of strange laws) to just paint the box, she said, go for it!


It looks like someone had glued something to the front at one point, and old names were written on with permanent marker. Despite scraping, scrubbing and fingernail picking, the metal still looked absolutely filthy, so we used a combination of Goof Off (for a final cleansing) and spray paint to get it looking, at the very least, cuter!


We discussed a handful of options for the color – Red? Emerald green? Soft blue? Hot pink! (kidding!) - but knowing that our neighbors would be seeing it much more than we would, we wanted something a little more safe and unoffensive. We even considered going with black to blend in with our fence (which admittedly could use a new paint job as well), but nixed that for something a little more fun. Why not? It’s just a mailbox! We’ve used Montana brand spray paints in the past, and it holds up really well (it’s made for all-weather graffiti artists!), and after going through the colors available, we both agreed on the color ‘Neptune.’


This brand of spray paint is known to have better control, so I didn’t have to worry about taping off too much of the fence. A few sheets of paper did the job! Once dry, it’s a slightly brighter and more green blue than our front door, but they’re similar enough that they also play well together!


Before starting the job at all, I did still have to ask our mail lady to keep the box unlocked so we had access to the inside to remove the locks, making it easier to spray paint. When I told her our plans, she said, I can’t wait to see what you do!, so hopefully it’s one of the more cheery stops in her daily routine now. (On a side note, wouldn’t it be fun if it was the norm to have the brightest, most colorful mailbox? Houses would look so happy! Getting your bills could be tolerable! I call pink!)

Eventually, we may upgrade our mailbox altogether, especially since we don’t need three separate locks. But for now? Cute!

PS… You’ll now be able to find us over at Bali Blinds, where we’ll be blogging alongside an inspiring crew of contributors! Check out our latest post – and update to our DIY Suds – because yup, we’re still using ‘em!

  • Jodi - August 8, 2014 - 8:29 AM

    SO CUTE! that’s great that your mail lady is excited to see it, too. =)ReplyCancel

  • Cammee - August 8, 2014 - 8:32 AM

    I can’t even believe that is the same mailbox!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - August 8, 2014 - 9:08 AM

    Great updating idea! We’ve got a really old purple (yes) rusty metal mailbox that I am thinking of painting, but it’s also really bent out of shape. Probably better to just get a new one. Maybe I’ll get a plain one and paint it something fun.ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - August 8, 2014 - 9:48 AM

    Speaking of crazy Chicago laws, since it’s illegal to sell spray paint in stores in Chicago, where did you get this lovely shade of blue spray paint? (I.e, who sells this brand?) (ie how far into the burbs were you forced to venture, haha, the dreaded burbs!)

    • Kim - August 8, 2014 - 10:18 AM

      So true! I should have mentioned that. We got this at the Blick’s Art Supply in the ‘burbs. Scott works in the (farther away) ‘burbs and can pick it up on his way home from work, but in a pinch, you can at least go to Evanston and go to the art supply stores there to get your spray paint fix!ReplyCancel

    • Nicole S. - August 8, 2014 - 11:17 AM

      I frequently order spray pain from Amazon to fulfill my Chicago spray paint needs. Super easy!ReplyCancel

      • Katherine - August 8, 2014 - 2:24 PM

        Oh, Cool. I guess I never thought of Amazon for spray paint! Thanks guys!ReplyCancel

  • Felicity - August 8, 2014 - 12:13 PM

    Huge improvement. So fun!ReplyCancel

  • Uncle Brain - August 8, 2014 - 1:43 PM

    Hey, was that color my idea or yours? Doesn’t matter, I am going to pretend is was mine since it looks so awesome. HA!

    I think I will send you a letter just so it can hang out in that box for a few hours.

    Also, the dinosaurs were the right choice as well–so much fun! And the drapes… sheesh, I can’t even keep up with the commenting. You guys are amazing.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 8, 2014 - 2:05 PM

      Thank you, Uncle Brain! Looking forward to seeing you SOON!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis - August 8, 2014 - 2:09 PM

    OMG, so easy and such a fun change!

    Do you still separate the mail for your downstairs tenant? Also, how is that working out?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 8, 2014 - 2:18 PM

      It’s going great! If anything, we worry that we’re the annoying neighbors to THEM (all the power tools and dogs running above their heads…). Also, their mail gets delivered to one of the 3 compartments in the mail box. :)ReplyCancel

  • q - August 8, 2014 - 6:36 PM

    Well done! Looks like the new one; suits to the door.ReplyCancel

  • Megan - August 10, 2014 - 8:53 AM

    Looks great! I love the color!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - August 11, 2014 - 1:35 PM

    We just got back from Iceland, and we LOVED the bright houses there. Whole houses the same color of your mailbox, topped with bright red roofs! Gray homes with blue roofs! White homes with red trim! Pink doors! Lime green houses! We loved it all, and are now contemplating painting our red brick house. I wonder what our neighbors would say to a whole house in the color of your front door….ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 11, 2014 - 2:02 PM

      That sounds AMAZING! I grew up in a small town where a lot of the houses were different crazy colors. I’ve always loved the charm in that!ReplyCancel

  • […] a little bit of elbow grease and the perfect shade of spray paint, the folks at Yellow Brick Home refreshed their mailbox for a pop of color and curb […]ReplyCancel

  • Lander Electric - August 14, 2014 - 5:39 PM

    Can’t get enough of a good DIY. This change looks really good and matches your door. Now, that’s a neighborhood mailbox I can get behind.ReplyCancel

  • Kaileen Elise - August 28, 2014 - 12:30 PM

    Love it! Looks so great… and I’d definitely love to check mail if I were you.ReplyCancel