Back to School Hack




In the spirit of back to school, I’ve partnered with Porch, Wayfair & Lonny to bring you a fun project that will help ease your kiddo’s transition from summer to the classroom. Search the hashtag on social media #back2schoolhacks to see what others have done! I remember as a kid, it was always crucial to stay organized from day one, and this project is perfect to encourage your little one to stay organized, and have fun while doing homework.



I created a cozy homework corner, and turned a toy cubby into a mid century inspired book & toy organizer by adding mid century table legs to the bottom. Zano isn’t quite school age, but he likes to “read” lots of books and lay on his belly and draw pictures in a note pad. I imagine him growing into this corner, reading chapter books and doing math problems, although it makes me teary thinking about it!

And SURPRISE! There is a giveaway involved! A lucky reader will win $500 gift card to Wayfair AND $500 worth of cleaning services from Porch!

How to enter:

  • Follow Porch, Wayfair and Lonny on Instagram and
  • Tag 2 friends in the comments on our photo to join in on the challenge!

The giveaway ends September 14th at Midnight. Winner will be announced on September 14th via social media.


I have to thank Wayfair for offering the play tent and cubby, and Porch for organizing this back to school event!  Search the hashtag on social media #back2schoolhack to see what other bloggers have done!

This project was in partnership with PorchWayfair, & Lonny online magazine.




The routine I never knew I needed


morning exercise routine essentials // brittanyMakes


I used to be a runner, did you know?? Half marathons were my thing. Then… I got pregnant and had a kid and now I’m a full time working mom with a 3 hour round-trip commute. Cue the music! But seriously, it’s a tough gig! Finding time to exercise has been SO difficult, especially considering I would have to give up the time I spend with my kid to exercise. Part of me I felt super guilty about any time I chose to work out over spend time with Zano, while the other part of me feels depressed and bummed out about turning ‘soft’. Is it so much to ask to fit into my pre pregnancy jeans?!

I started talking to some other working moms who seem to have their sh*t together, and spotted a common theme. They all wake up early (like 4-5 am early!!!) and do their exercises before the kids wake up, before breakfast, before traffic, before work… I was fully convinced I could never be a ‘super early’ morning person. Waking up before 7 am requires a bit of effort. BUT! I was determined, adamant actually, to change my routine so that I could squeeze in a workout before I actually start my day.

I read somewhere that someone said – if there’s something you want to do today, and doesn’t happen before 10 am, chances are it’s not going to happen.

It’s so true! How many times have I pushed off the day’s workout into the evening and ended up bailing on myself because ‘I had a long day’ or ‘I’m tired’.

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is, it’s officially been a full (work) week of me successfully waking up before 5:30 and squeezing in a workout before the day starts. I realize I might still be in the ‘honeymoon phase’ of this new routine, but I can’t tell you how emotionally pleased I feel. I feel energetic, happy, and best of all, guilt free! I can chill with my son in the evenings without feeling down on myself for not having exercised that day

I made some huge changes to my morning routine. I started putting my alarm in the kitchen, so that I have to exit my room and walk to the kitchen to turn it off. It helps me wake up!  I also started setting up my workout station & gear before going to bed so I don’t have to think very much when I get up. I also made a point to get the appropriate training shoes. I’ve only owned running shoes, but come to find out running shoes are not good for your form when lunging and jumping and doing other cross training exercises. OH, and it doesn’t hurt that I found the cutest sports bra ever! I took advantage of the Labor Day sales :)

I’ve done the P90X workout routines in the past, my husband actually lost over 60 lbs doing the first installment. My biggest complaint has always been they’re such a time commitment. I’m not quite ready to do a 60 minute workout in the morning, but I can do a 30-40 minute routine! I’ve started the P90X3 series. I’m not super strict on the workout schedule and diet yet, and who knows if I’ll get there, but I do really like the workout routines. My abs and butt are totally sore! And just so you know, this isn’t a sponsored post, and in case you wanted to know, yoga is hands down my favorite routine in all 3 of the P90X installments.

I still run on the weekends. I found a jogging stroller on Craigslist and have been pushing the stroller while I run. It’s so heavy and hard!

Now that I’ve put it out there for all to see, it’s your turn to tell me how you all do it! I’m committed to this new routine, and hope I stay diligent in becoming a super early morning person!



Our wood tile floors – your questions, answered!

Hello! How’s everyone’s week so far? I’m super excited about a long weekend – I need it!

Ever since we started our kitchen remodel (almost a year ago, whaaat?!) I’ve received countless emails and questions over our kitchen. I kid you not, most relate to either the hardware or our wood tile flooring. On top of that, about two weeks or so ago my kitchen was featured over on Apartment Therapy, which normally would be something to celebrate, however the article actually contained a lot of false information, specifically related to wood tile flooring. Today, I want to directly answer the questions I’ve been asked the most, as well as provide clarification to the Apartment Therapy article.

navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes

Here are the questions I’ve been asked most often:


Apartment Therapy’s statement:

“… Wood tile is still tile, which means it will be very cold (especially for folks in Northern climates) …”

Let me preface my response by saying, I live in California where we don’t have “real” winters. I walk around barefoot all the time, and the flooring doesn’t feel any different than the original wood flooring we had before. The only difference I feel is the grain, as our previous flooring was lacquered smooth and shiny, while the wood tile we have has a texture similar to reclaimed wood.

I will also suggest, use a little common sense! If your AC is on, your house is cold and your floors are probably cold. If your heater is on, your house is warm and your floors are probably also warm.  Also, get a rug! Put a rug under your bed, or in your living room, or under your dining table. Rugs help warm things up.  And my last common sense observation, chances are if you live in a colder climate you’re already wearing slippers, right?

Some folks have installed a heating system under their flooring. Some do this under all kinds of flooring options, not just wood tile. And some homes actually have their heating systems run under their house (like ours!), which naturally keeps your floors a little warmer.

Bottom line, it was our preference to install wood flooring, because durability trumped the point of view that “tile is colder than wood”. It just sounds like a silly argument.

navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes


Apartment Therapy’s statement:

“… It’s cheaper to cover the same floor with wood-look tile than with a real wood solution”.

I wish they would have written “It can be possible for wood tile to be less expensive than wood flooring”. The truth is, while the price of the wood tile might be less by the square foot, the cost of labor for tile installation is probably double that of installing wood flooring, as there are more steps involved in laying tile (cement backer, thinset, tile, grout, sealant, etc), not to mention each step requires additional time to set up or dry.  Honestly, it was a little more expensive to install our tile floors compared to wood flooring.

navy & white kitchen reveal | brittanyMakes


Apartment Therapy’s statement:

“…Even a really hard wood wouldn’t be as durable as the tile when it comes to scratching and denting…”

Thankfully, Apartment Therapy’s statement is correct. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are arguably the most durable flooring options out there. I honestly wish I would have recorded it, but my husband literally took one of our wood flooring tiles and banged it on the concrete to test it’s durability (because we were apprehensive, too!). Not one chip or dent or scratch after banging it on the concrete. I’m sure there are skeptics still out there, so I might just video tape my husband doing it again, just to prove it’s durability!

faux wood tile


We chose the 8″x48″ Allways in walnut from Bedrosians.


Grout is a tricky thing! We chose a grout one shade darker than the wood tile, probably the darkest brown on the grout palette. Anything lighter would stand out too much, show dirt, and make the flooring look visually busy. Our tile guy had offered to make us a sample if we were torn between two grout colors. This is pretty standard, if you’re not sure which grout to choose, ask your tile guy to make you a sample! It’s worth taking that additional step, because one you grout there’s pretty much no turning back.

Read more about our selection process and favorite wood tile options in this post.

I’m an open book! If anyone is curious about anything else that I haven’t dived into yet, ask away!


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!



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