The Sunroom

One of the other projects we hustled our butts off to get completed prior to Zano’s 1st birthday party (which was already 3 months ago! Jeeze!) was our sunroom. Unfortunately we ran out of time and couldn’t get the space completely finished, but we were able to get the new tile laid on the floors literally the day before the party #closecall

Here is a photo of the sunroom, the day we closed on the house. I get why the sellers painted the floors, but something about this color just magnified dirt. I could never keep it clean.

SUNROOM Before | brittanyMakesThis space isn’t one I’d expect you to hate, chucks, I didn’t hate it that much, but there’s nothing great going on here and I knew from the moment we bought the house that I’d have to make a few changes in order to make this space feel welcoming.  It’s not pictured, but one of the complaints we had over this space was how it was accessed. We had this bulky (and broken) sliding door that literally took your entire body weight to open. I’m not going to hate on sliding doors, most homes have them, but I will point out that no person ever said “oh! that sliding door really helps make that extra space feel like an extension of the home”. Nope. It’s never been said. I checked!

What I’m getting at is, the sliding door was preventing this space from feeling like an extension of our, rather small, home. It was broken anyway, so we decided to replace the door with French doors (!!!)


Sunroom-door-&-stepWe had to extend the door opening by about 4-6 inches to fit our new doors, which actually wasn’t that big of a deal. We also had to extend the step all the way to the right wall. Luckily our landscapers were working on our backyard and helped our contractor frame out, rebar, and pour the additional concrete for the step extension. It was definitely 2+ man job.



Sunroom-stepWhile our contractor was prepping the sunroom floor for tiling, my husband went on to pre-seal a few hundred individual tiles. If you’re thinking about using cement tile for a project, this step is crucial! Cement tile is SUPER porous, and will soak up anything and everything if not properly sealed. We chose to grout this tile with black grout, and knew if we didn’t pre-seal the tile job could go bad so fast, and there’s almost no method of recovery once the tile has been stained.

Sunroom-tileWe pre-sealed the tile 3 times. There were a small handful of tiles that must not have gotten the triple treatment… we ended up having to strip the sealer and use an acid wash in order to get them clean. Let’s just say that wasn’t a good day. Our contractor is basically a magician. Tile is his trade and he knew the secret concoction to get them back to normal looking. Bottom line, make sure you pre-seal! It would be great if these cement tile companies would pre-seal their shiz so their customer’s don’t have a coronary upon installation.

black & white ceramic tile | brittanyMakesBelow is just after the tile was grouted. Can you spot the few in the back corner that have a darker haze? Those are the tiles that had to get the magic potion treatment.


Sunroom-tiles-groutedBack to the vision of this space… I envisioned this space as being an extension of our house, and a great bridge to the backyard. I wanted to create a casual lounge + play area with built in  benches decked with pillows, hanging plants and cacti, you know – like a mini California retreat.

Sunroom-building-benchesI had it in my mind I would build these benches myself, then the reality check set in a) there was no way I could get them built myself before the party and b) projects like this always take me 20x longer to do myself. Our contractor busted these benches out in a day. I call that money well spent!

Sunroom-benches-1Our contractor framed the benches with 2″x4″s and finished with 1″x2″ cladding and galvanized screws. Then he cut and laid plywood for the bench seats. We left about an inch lip with the top piece of cladding to help keep the bench cushions (which I still have to finish sewing) in place. Also, notice the angled drink ledge! So fancy.

DIY built in bench seating | brittanyMakesI stained the finish wood with a mixture of 2 parts Provincial to 1 part Light Walnut, then applied an outdoor poly to protect from sun and moisture.

DIY built in bench seating | brittanyMakes


sunroom built in benches | brittanyMakes


black & white cement tile in sunroom | brittanyMakes


That’s where we’re at with the sunroom. Hopefully I get these bench cushions finished this week since we’re hosting another party this weekend! If it weren’t for these forcing functions my house would probably be full of half completed projects. No joke.





California Modern brass, wood & marble bathroom | brittanyMakesWe have a MIRROR!!! This mirror has to be the most drama filled project I ever attempted. I don’t even feel like getting into it in this post. I can’t taint these pretty photos with the story about this dumb mirror! I’ll pair the story with the full before & after, how’s that?

What I will tell you is this: this mirror came out to be $65, is a DIY, AND an Ikea hack!

California Modern brass, wood & marble bathroom | brittanyMakes


California Modern brass, wood & marble bathroom | brittanyMakes


California Modern brass, wood & marble bathroom | brittanyMakesThanks for hanging in there while I get this mirror situation sorted out. The take-away from this project is this: spend a little extra when it’s needed. Finishing things off the right way is always worth the few extra bucks.

I’m happy to report I have officially taken the first shower! My husband hasn’t moved in yet, I’m choosing to think he’s letting me soak it all in by myself for a few days, but in reality I think he’s just afraid he’ll get pee splatter all over the vanity and make me mad. #truth

SOURCES: // Matte back hex tile // Matte black wall mount faucet // brass wall sconces // brass knobs // white vessel sink // white subway tile // gold dipped light bulbs

Catch up on the remodel!




Life lately!

Hello, hello! I’ve let a few too many days pass since the last post, sorry! It’s been an interesting last few months. Some of you who have been reading for a while know I’m a financial accountant in my day job (it’s as cool as it sounds). Well.. this past spring I was promoted to Controller (yay me!) and somehow my workload tripled and all my free time disappeared. The blog is taking the brunt of the suffering, which is in no way intentional. The hour or two I have each evening after the kiddo goes to bed, I’ve been working on a very exciting new venture: an online vintage rug & textile shop!

Vintage African Indigo pillow

sneak peek!

(pardon the crappy iPhone pic)

I have a few more very important things to do before launching, but if I were to ballpark a launch date (since everyone seems to ask!), it will most likely be 4-6 weeks from now.  Starting a biz on your own dime is no joke, it takes time and patience! So, thank you for being patient with me, and I hope you’re as excited about this as I am!

Some other super fun updates – we had another bathroom mirror setback. I don’t know why this mirror became such a giant ordeal. I’ll have the full story for you soon, and I’ve been told it’s definitely being installed this week.  I’m so over it.

On a brighter note, we’re teaching Zano how to play bocce ball!

backyard bocce


Italians start ’em young :) PS: how adorable are his sandals!



Nursery Update

My son, Zano (pronounced like “on” not “an”, more about his name here), is technically a toddler now. 14 months old. I can hardly believe it! He is officially saying words now. His vocabulary consists of “shoe” and “cheese”, which sound like “choo” and “chee”. I die.

I think the denial I’ve carried over him growing up so fast spilled over into his nursery. If I didn’t finish it, he wouldn’t grow up, right? Do you recall the mood board I created? I was all about the neutrals, keeping things light and airy and serene in hopes to counteract the loud colors of baby toys.

baby boy nursery ideas


First, I painted his walls a nice shade of gray (Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore), brought in the decor and started hanging art and mirrors that I had on hand. I bought a white rug (which I loved but was two sizes too small, ugh!) and told myself “be happy about this, it’s exactly what you wanted!”

DIY leather pouf/ottoman | brittanyMakes

For some reason the space really bummed me out. It was OK, but it wasn’t jiving well. The walls looked dingy, the art and mirrors weren’t purposeful, the rug was too small, the rocker wasn’t working with the space.  I happened to be researching something about light and color, and learned about directional light its impact on the color your walls. Zano’s room receives Northern facing light, and the colors you don’t want to paint in a northern facing room are: gray, white, blue. Basically anything with cool undertones are a no-go. The trick to dealing with a northern facing room is to embrace it’s drama and intimacy, and go dark!

Dark & Moody Nursery with navy walls & a vintage rug // brittanyMakesHere’s what happened. I sold the rug to a cute, expecting couple, and went on the hunt for something vintage. I wasn’t looking for red, but this rug had me at hello!  Then, I painted the walls a dark blue, Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore. This wall color is everything!

Dark & Moody Nursery with navy walls & a vintage rug // brittanyMakes


Then, my good friend Shavonda hooked me up with these stellar chairs, for a deal that was basically free! They are in such good condition, I feel terrible even thinking about reupholstering them. I let them hang in our living room for about a month, but I knew they were destined to be set against those walls. Tell me you agree! Mustard + Navy 4eva!

Dark & Moody Nursery with navy walls & a vintage rug // brittanyMakesI would say I’m about 85% happy with the room so far. A larger rug would be preferable, but I love the energy this one brings to the space. I also need to figure out the blank space above the crib as well as the blank space below the wall sconce. I’ll get there soon!

Sources: rug (vintage) / crib (discontinued, similar here) / crib sheets (target, past season) / himmeli mobile / hamper / brass floor lamp (vintage) / side table (Target, past season) / curtains / sconce / wildebeest bust (West Elm, no longer available) / hare print / chairs (vintage) / mongolian fur pillow / flokati / fox / wolf / hedgehog 





Bathroom Accessories

When I originally designed the bathroom, I kind of ignored the fact that not all brass finishes are created equal. Maybe I was hopeful it would all just go together… but it’s kid of a small space which means mis-matched brass finishes would definitely be noticed.  Turns out our sconces didn’t match the mirror I had purchased, and the sunburst brackets I was dying to use also didn’t match the sconces. Light fixtures are kind of a more permanent accessory, being hard wired in and all.. so I decided to return the mirror and the brackets ::sad face::

The replacement mirror is in progress. I swear, the mirror design is a genius idea! A genius idea that has now delayed us moving into the bathroom by what, 7 weeks now? I found out yesterday we didn’t order enough of one (very important) piece, so now we have to wait for that to get ordered, shipped & delivered. #storyofmylife

I still need to pull the trigger on bathroom accessories. The longer I wait the more I second guess myself. I need to just do it! Things I need: shelf above toilet, tissue cover, soap dispenser, trash can, soap dish, bathroom stool, etc. Help me decide!



I like both options for different reasons, black will tie with our fixtures and yet the white marble will blend in perfectly with the walls and vanity counter. One will stand out while the other will blend in.  Considering all these options are on sale right now, I think I should pull the trigger this weekend.




Let me introduce you to our Backyard

Backyard before 1

Here is our back yard. Our back yard at it’s original state, I should say. Is it even fair to call it a yard? There are better terms that could describe this space: waste land, dirt pit, the place where dreams go to die. This wasn’t our favorite spot in our house and I’m sure you can see why.

Backyard before 2

I feel like I’m always saying this when it comes to the projects we take on, but honestly, we weren’t originally intending to remodel our back yard. We thought remodeling our backyard was a ‘3-5 year out’ kind of thing. But then we were itching to just “get an idea” of how much it would cost us, so that we could, you know, “save for it”. But then we start talking about it, envisioning it, drawing out different ideas of what we could do where and how, and what we could do to cut back so we could afford it ALL. It became somewhat attainable, so we went for it.

Before I begin, I want to emphasize the fact we aren’t made of money. Everything we’ve done so far to our house has been in the spirit of ‘getting the best bang for our buck’. My husband and I are finance people, we budget then research, tweak budget and do more research until we’re satisfied that we’re a) getting everything we want, within reason and b) not forfeiting our kid’s college savings fund to make that happen. With that discipline, were able to pick and choose certain things in the backyard that satisfied our wants and desires, and honestly probably made it look like we spent double, if not triple, what we actually spent.

We had a few needs & concerns with the backyard that we prioritized before initiating work:

  1. Grading – the yard isn’t level, it takes a hard slope downward towards the right back corner. We needed to grade the yard without creating water drainage issues, or upsetting our neighbors
  2. Drought tolerant landscape – we live in California and we’re in a severe drought which means mandated brown lawns. Our curb appeal is awful but this drought thing is serious business, so we needed landscape that is drought tolerant but adds some visual appeal
  3. Dog area – we needed to section off an area for our pups to “do their business”
  4. Low maintenance – My husband and I work 40-50 hours a week each, excluding commuting time which is an additional 3 hours a day. The last thing we want to do when we get home is prune bushes and mow the lawn.  We happily pay a landscaper to do this for us twice a month. I am all about paying for services that make you a happier, less stressed person, and landscaping is one of them! But! We’re also frugal and the added cost of landscaping a huge lawn in our back yard isn’t something we wanted to deal with. And a mandated brown lawn at that. So, we needed to find a better, low maintenance option.
  5. A fun place to hang out! Our backyard is so huge, I think it’s double the square footage of our house. We needed a space to entertain since our house is on the smaller side.

So, we called up a trusted landscaper (he’s more of a hardscape guy, come to find out) and scheduled a time for him to check out our backyard. We talked, measured, drew lines in the dirt, all to help get an idea of placement and design.

Backyard before 3

Here are the main design aspects we wanted:

  • Modern aesthetic
  • Ample seating
  • Bocce court (it does double duty! I’ll explain in a sec)
  • Fire pit
  • Dog area
  • BBQ station

Here’s what I drew up for our contractor. Gotta love good ol’ graph paper and colored pencil! But seriously, someone please teach me how to do this digitally (Sketchup? Autocad?). Thanks!

Backyard sketch

I created a Pinterest page specifically for backyard inspo, I incorporated a lot of my favorite elements into the design (floating slat bench seating, modern concrete foundation, drought tolerant landscape). Here are a few that were most influential to my design:




We broke ground on the backyard just 3 weeks before my son’s 1st birthday party. We may have cut it a little too close! Next, I’ll go into more detail on how we addressed our needs & concerns with our final layout. And progress pics, of course.



Bathroom Update

It’s been a couple weeks since I updated you on our main bath progress. I didn’t bridge the gap between last two updates very well, so today I’m going to fill you in on how we got from no grout to the almost finished product. We still don’t have a mirror, or a shower door. I refuse to hang a shower curtain and cover up all that beautiful tile. So until we throw down on a frame-less shower door, we’ll continue using our garage bathroom until all is complete.

Here we were a few weeks ago, tile was up but not yet grouted.

white herringbone bathroom walls // brittanyMakes

I remember clearly, it was at this point I wasn’t convinced one way or the other to go with black or white grout on the walls. Our tile guy was really great with us, he mocked up two sample boards, one with white grout and the other with black. Initially I was leaning towards black grout for two reasons, it helped define the pattern and is the classic choice when you think of subway tile. We ended up choosing white grout for two completely different reasons, white hides any imperfections in the tile job, and although we inspected every element of these walls and the imperfections were slim to none, dark grout can make a beautiful tile job go bad REALLY fast. I felt that the risk of regretting the grout decision weighed heavier with black grout over white. The second reason I realized was the black grout would look a little busy in this small bathroom, and distract from the other elements in the space that should really be more in the spotlight, like the vanity and the floors.

White grout it was!

white herringbone bathroom walls // brittanyMakesI think I just purred.

white herringbone bathroom walls // brittanyMakesThe tile wraps from the door frame around the shower and back to the opposite wall about two feet. I had our contractor install ship lap on the opposite wall, which wraps around the door as well. I’m really happy we did this, I love the look of ship lap!

bathroom wall with shiplap // brittanyMakesNext, we installed the vanity! OH how I LOVE this vanity. This was my first go at customizing a piece of furniture, and since I like being honest, it was part headache and part a total dream. I would definitely do this again. But differently. So many lessons learned with this piece.


walnut + marble bathroom vanity // brittanyMakes

One of the headaches with the vanity was over the marble remnant. The cabinet builder we used works with a marble shop, literally right next door. All we needed for the vanity was a marble remnant measuring 20″x 40″, basically a really tiny left over piece. I went to the neighboring marble shop, picked out a slab that I loved (so far so good!), and requested a quote for fabrication as our contractor would install. I waited 4 days.. 7 days.. 10 days! 10 days before they sent me a quote. OK fine I understated our project is small, but you’d think the quote would come a lot faster, right? Maybe the business world has me jaded, that turning things around same day is too much to ask for? Whatever.. anyway, so we finally got the quote, 10 days later. Can you guess how much they quoted us?

walnut + marble bathroom vanity // brittanyMakes$1500!!!!!!!!!!!

What the! Did you just fat finger an extra zero?! No, thank you. I’ll continue my search.

I was estimating like $400, maybe. So I went home, complained a little to our contractor and he offered to check out some places in his neighborhood. We also talked about a sad fact – if the homeowner (me, a woman, shopping for a remnant in the middle of the day looking like a rich stay-at-home wife-y) goes shopping they’re bound to get quoted double, maybe quadruple the price compared to if the contractor (a work-boot wearing sweaty dude) shopped for the remnant and mentions self install. The truth hurts. Our contractor was able to get the remnant you see above for $350, including fabrication! There’s still a lot of sex-ism out there. Whatever, I saved a ton of money having him shop for us!

walnut & brass vanity, black white & gold bathroom // brittanyMakes


Here she is! Remnant installed, gorgeous light fixtures installed, hardware installed. Although this mirror-less thing is seriously cramping my style.

SOURCES: // Matte back hex tile // Matte black wall mount faucet // brass wall sconces // brass knobs // white vessel sink // white subway tile // gold dipped light bulbs

Catch up on the remodel!



Navy Gold & White Kitchen Reveal

Happy Monday!!! Get your Pin-it buttons ready friends, this is the brittanyMakes moment you’ve all been waiting for!

The full kitchen tour is here. If you’re new to the blog, check the bottom of this post for quick links to the progress on this makeover.  Now, get ready to feast your eyes…

navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes

This is the view of the kitchen/dining area from our sofa. It’s hard to believe less than a year ago there was a giant wall blocking this view.

navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes

I love this angle. There’s nothing like a farmhouse sink flanked by symmetrical doors and drawers.  And that gold faucet. Heart eyes all day long.

You remember the before? Woof, right?


In hindsight, I kind of wish we had waterfall-ed our island. It would have added $$$, and the space is rather small, so we probably made the right decision. The other thing I’d like to fix are the switch plates under the island. It’s not something that keeps me up at night, so I’m cool for now.

navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes

I really lucked out with those roman shades. They match the cabinet color perfectly! More details on those soon!

navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes

Our sliding door broke within the first week of owning the house. We used the remodel as an opportunity to widen the doorframe and install outward swinging French doors. We LOVE how they look! When both doors are open, the sunroom feels like an extension of the house, when before it felt completely closed off.

navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes

We usually have a third counter stool in the below photo, but I move it out of the way to take the picture.  You can really see the wood tile in these photos too. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how much I love these floors.

navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes


navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes

The last thing we have to finish is the void above the refrigerator. We need to add a piece of trim or whatever to finish off the fridge. It’s just kind of a bummer to see the bottom of the plywood cabinet. I could probably just paint the bottom of the cabinet and it wouldn’t be so noticeable. Whatever! It all still looks good to me.

navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes


For those who have been here with me through this entire process, thank you! It’s taken a while for us to finally get here. I feel so lucky that we were able to make improvements to our home, I love everything we’ve done so far. If you haven’t seen the before yet, click on the posts linked up below. You’ll be shocked what we started out with!

Have a great Monday!

Sources: Wood tile floors | Carrera marble counters | subway tile backsplash | farmhouse sink | exhaust hood | refrigerator | range | lower cabinet paint color: Cyberspace by Sherwin Williams color matched to Kelly Moore Dura Poxy | Target Windsor style counter height stools | Lew’s brass hardware | Cedar & Moss pendant lights | CB2 bell flush mount light | Delta faucet | Target polka dot vases (in stores only) | Target gold & cement vase (in stores only) | Oh Joy for Target gold pitcher footed chopping board | vintage rugs | brass globe chandelier | dining table | dining chairs – vintage | black china cabinet – vintage | mid-century style bar cabinet | Roman shades

Get caught up on the remodel!



Casual Fridays

woven wall hanging // brittanyMakes

My first woven wall hanging

Summer is practically here! We’re essentially done with our indoor and outdoor renovations, just those annoying finishing touches like sealing the concrete and paint touch ups. I plan to tackle some of these projects this weekend. How about you?

Go Warriors!



Dining Space Makeover on domino!

Our kitchen/dining area has pretty much held the spotlight on the blog here since we began renovating last September. Soon the rest of our house will finally get some attention! It’s like our kitchen is our first child – we’re the parents posting way too many photos of our kitchen on social media, talking ‘kitchen this’ and ‘kitchen that’, and almost going as far as saying our kitchen is so smart for it’s age, it’s going to grow up and be the president of the United States!

We’ve been doting on it for way too long. It’s about time we turned the spotlight onto our next “children” – the bathroom, the sunroom, the backyard! And maybe even the nursery. Oh yeah. The nursery…

BUT! Before we do that I must share the after-afters of our kitchen and dining space. And don’t be mad, but I’m going to break them up into two posts because, well, I feel like it.

Let me remind you of the before, taken the day we bought the house. My goodness, can there be any more beige?


And after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, we have the after!

navy gold & white dining room | brittanyMakes

Please tell me you see that chandelier! Holy crap, right? It’s incredible. Let me introduce you, that is if you haven’t yet been introduced, to the uber talented Sarah of Lucent Lightshop. Sarah made this chandy with her bare hands!

Lucent Lightshop Brass Globe Chandelier | brittanyMakesSa-woon! 

Lucent Lightshop Brass Globe Chandelier | brittanyMakes

Sarah is known for her ever popular line of brass light fixtures. She is a downright genius, a crazy talented maker and has her finger on he pulse of today’s hot modern lighting. There is something for everyone, and the price point is so right.

Make sure you check back here on Monday! I’ll be posting the full kitchen reveal. If you can’t wait that long, you can read more about the dining room AND get a sneak peek of the kitchen over on today!


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