Beach House Bathroom Makeover in Progress!

For the past six weeks, we’ve been working  on the bathroom at the Jersey shore house .  This bathroom hasn’t been updated since the house was built.  Not only does it look dated, but the tile is crumbling, faucets are leaking and it’s  a dark, cramped space.

 Here she is in all her 1970’s glory:


With only one bathroom for this 1,200 square home, we analyzed every nook and cranny to see how we could maximize the space and make it feel larger.

 Here are the structural changes we have already completed:

Replace existing door with a pocket door and remove linen closet.


Before, the door opened into the bathroom, towards the wall on the left.  This was where the linen closet was and you couldn’t open the closet door unless you first closed the bathroom door.  It was an awkward setup.

Replacing the door with a pocket door and removing the linen closet gave us enough room to install a 60 inch vanity and add a second sink.  I don’t like losing a closet but we can compensate for the lost storage with some open shelving and the space we gain with the larger vanity.

Add a skylight


The skylight has flooded the bathroom with natural light and has made the space feel much larger.  Before, there was just the one small window and because it is in direct view of anyone entering the house from the backdoor, it stays covered most of the time.

In terms of design, I am going for a light, bright space with a mix of high and low finishes – mixing rustic ship lap on the walls with shiny marble on the floors and vanity top.   I found a vanity on Craig’s List which will get a facelift  with paint and new hardware.  This will stretch our budget and  allow for a splurge for real marble.  I am also playing with mixing the hardware a bit – using both brass and chrome. I’ll layer on some color with the towels, window curtain and plants.

Here’s the inspiration board I put together for the new bathroom:



There’s lots of finishing touches happening this week.  I can’t wait to share the final photos with you!



Rustic Glam Graduation Party Decor

My daughter’s high school graduation party was a great opportunity to try out some DIY party decorations.  These ideas would work equally well for a casual wedding, shower or anniversary party!  Here’s a run down of what we did:

Giant Balloons & Tassel Garlands


I love these giant, 3 foot round balloons.  I got them from and rented a small helium tank (which filled 5) from Party City.


We made our weatherproof tassel garlands from plastic tablecloths.  I will share a tutorial on how to make them in another post.

We also used the tassels to decorate the beverage stations and gift station.



Wood Lawn Signs


We made some cute wooden signs to designate the lawn game area, the photo booth station and the bubble station.


These were simply stained pieces of scrap wood on which my daughter did some modern calligraphy using leftover exterior white paint.




Bubble Station


This was a fun idea for the little ones…a plastic dispenser filled with bubble juice.  We made a few bubble wands out pipe cleaners and put out a supply of pipe cleaners for those who wanted to make their own.  The rustic tabletop attached to a tree stump was a last minute creation by hubby.



Photo Booth

The photo booth consisted of a frame tied to the trees, along with a bucket of photo props. I got the props from Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon….about $4.




Card Suitcase & Well Wishes Station


To corral the cards and gifts, we used a small vintage suitcase.  We printed out some letters on card stock to spell “cards” and glittered them for a touch of glam.  We asked our guests to impart some words of wisdom for Elizabeth and put them in a “well wishes” jar.  This also gave the early arrivers something to do while we scrambled to add the finishing touches!

Photo Display

For a photo display, we used an old door, screwed to a tree, just in case the wind kicked up.  We tried to find photos of Elizabeth through the years that also included some of our guests.


Lights, Lights, Lights!

Lights really add to the ambiance of an event.  In addition to clear string lights in the patio area, we wrapped three tree trunks with white Christmas lights.  The trees framed the firepit area.




I found these cool battery operated wicker globe lights at Pier One.  They were nice under the umbrellas.  Hubby drilled a couple of holes in the wooden umbrella frame to keep them from sliding.


We made some homemade bug repellent using essential oils and put it in sweet mason jars topped with a floating candle.  They kept the bugs away and added to the ambiance.  I will share my recipe in an upcoming post!




Flowers are a no brainer…they always make a party special. My dear friend Teri,who has amazing flowers, let me raid her gardens early Saturday morning. I made a bee line for her orange and peach blooms in roses and daylilies to add a pop of color to our mostly neutral decor. Teri advised putting a little bleach and a little Sprite or 7-up in the water.  I did this and we enjoyed the flowers for days!




While the party turned out lovely, I will treasure the week of crafting and decorating with my almost grownup daughters.


My daughter Meredith, and her friend Ingrid on the left, also helped out as servers during the party.  I couldn’t have managed without them! Oh, and Jack thought everyone needed a glow stick necklace.😎

Patio Makeover … bringing the inside out!

Our daughter’s graduation party recently motivated us to work on our back yard and patio area.  Because the yard slopes off, the first floor of our home is elevated in the back of the house.  Underneath there is a covered patio area which, until now, was a network of cobwebs, grass clippings and dirt.   It’s a space that we had yet to use since we built this house two and a half years ago.  Here’s how the patio looked before we began:




My goal was to create a comfortable, inviting space without making any significant investments in furnishings.  I love all the great outdoor furniture that is available now – upholstered seating groups, gorgeous tables, etc.  But we really don’t envision using this area on a regular basis as there is already a deck and sun room just above the patio so why invest in pieces that will rarely be used.

Here was my plan:

1. use the outdoor furniture that we already had

2. borrow pieces from within our home for use during the party

3,  fill in the gaps with a few thrifted items

4. soften the space with some inexpensive curtains, pillows and rugs.

We gave the patio a good scrubbing and brushed away myriad cobwebs.  I then stained the exposed porch columns, face boards and step risers with Sherwin Williams “Spicewood” exterior solid stain.



I intented to stain the ceiling rafters white but this would have been a big job and I was running out of time.  So, I moved on to curtains.  I whipped up inexpensive curtain panels using  ten 6×9 dropcloths that I prewashed and dried to soften.  I’ll share how we did the rods and the curtain details in another post.


We “zig zagged” some clear string lights that I found at Target across the ceiling.


For the “living zone,” I already had the porch swing from our previous house.  I pulled two porch rockers from our front porch (which is too hot to sit out on in the summer anyway), along with two rattan end tables and a coffee table from the sunroom above.  I found the rattan pieces, along with two rattan sofas,  at a church rummage sale last year for $50!


I like how a rug really cozies up an outdoor space so we invested in a basic 9×13 outdoor rug from  I figured we could use this anywhere – the sunroom or even indoors so I didn’t mind making the $200 investment (after 20% off coupon).

For a pop of color, I pulled a small oriental rug from our living room.  I had found this a couple a months ago at our local Habitat Restore for $10.


The two outdoor palm leaf pillows on the swing are from Target … $15 each.  The striped pillows on the rockers and the swing I had made last year.  I purchased the Waverly outdoor fabric for them from

I kept accessories to a minimum, pulling in just a couple of tropical plants from the sunroom.  This left lots of room for our guests to place their drinks and food.

On the dining end, I started with our outdoor table that we’ve had for more than 20 years. For chairs, I pulled two spare indoor dining chairs that we had for the ends and paired them with mismatched benches.  I am a big fan of benches and pick them up whenever I find them.  They are amazingly versatile …as seating, as a coffee table, at the foot of a bed or even for bookshelves.


I softened the white bench with a couple of pillows that I purchased a few years ago from Pier I.  The other bench happens to be upholstered and is quite comfy.  I have plans to recover the seat with a rag rug when I find one but for now, I just ignore the mauve color.


We added a kayak oar above the sliding door that leads to a game room.  I found this at a local antique store for $25. I think every space needs a few natural wood pieces and this oar fit perfectly above the door.


My two favorite new pieces are this potting bench which was a garbage pick:


Hubby cut it down a bit so that it would fit perfectly in this nook.  We intend to use the hole on the right to drop in a container for ice when I find something that will work.

The second new piece is this very sturdy serving cart on wheels that I found at Habitat for $45.


Of course it’s meant for indoors but a couple of months under a covered patio isn’t going to hurt it.

 I knew that both pieces would be ideal food or beverage stations.  In fact, here’s the Pottery Barn version of the potting bench beverage station.

And here’s my potting bench tricked out as a beverage station.


We used the serving cart for all of the soft beverages.  It was super functional and I was even able to use the drawers to hold the sweet little mason jar drinking glasses.



Borrowing from indoors is a great way to enjoy your outdoor spaces during the warm weather months without spending a lot of money!   I’ll share more about the decorative party elements in an upcoming post!

Happy Summer Y’all!











Graduation Party Planning!

It’s hard to believe our baby girl, Elizabeth, is graduating!  It sounds cliche to ask where has the time gone, but really where has it?

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 I want to celebrate this event beautifully for her as we have had so many major changes and moves over the past four years, that we glossed over other milestones like confirmation and “sweet sixteen”.

We are still working on the home that we built two years so this event has really kicked us into high gear to get some outdoor projects done.

I’ve been furiously pinning ideas and here are some of my inspiration photos for this party:


We’ve had this on our To Do list for awhile and hubby is in the process of leveling off an area and building a retaining wall. I am envisioning something like this:




I love this idea of wrapping a few trees with small white lights.  These trees will frame the fire pit area.

Create a romantic spot by twisting a string of white lights around a cluster of trees in your backyard.:


More lights

I like these larger string lights to frame out the patio area.

a feast in the forest / sfgirlbybay:


I am working on some easy drop cloth curtains to frame the covered patio area, something like this.

Do you need some shade on your back patio?  Try these easy DIY drop cloth curtains!:


I don’t know if this will happen in time but we would like to build a floating dock for easy access to fishing and boating on our pond.

Nothing too fancy, just a small wood floating dock for fishin or chillin -:



We’ll have an area for lawn games so I think these signs would be really cute.

Wood Signs Lawn Games by WoodenTreeBoutique on Etsy:



We are planning a beverage station and snack station on the lower patio, with a buffet dinner on the upper level sunroom and deck.  Here’s some photos I have been pinning.

Abbott Zinc-Top Island & Hutch | Pottery Barn - probably wouldn't have room for this, but maybe something smaller but same style for serving food & drinks:


rustic wedding ideas-cute display of different lemonades for party or wedding with stump as base:


S'mores Station- Outdoor rustic farm wedding | Megan Brooke Handmade:


galvanized tubs for drinks - (via Style Me Pretty):


I love these little daisy cut mason jar toppers from this Etsy seller.

15 Gold Pewter Daisy Cut Mason Jar Lids for by FancyThatLoved:

For the little guests, I think this idea for a bubble station is super cute!

Set up a homemade bubble station so your kids can play without needing your help every five minutes.:

Photo Booth

I like this idea of hanging a frame from a tree with a few props.  I think the kids will have fun with this.  And,  we’ll encourage them to post photos on Instagram.

High School Graduation Party Ideas:


Photo booth at grad party:


Instagram Hashtag Rustic Wedding Sign Lawn Stake by WoodAndInkCo:


Fun Decorations

I love these giant latex balloons.  My daughters are going to craft the tissue paper garland to attach to them.  We’ll use the balloons to direct traffic flow to the backyard and pond area.

Party Ideas (!):


Paper Tassel Garland & Giant Balloon - Indian Summer by Paper Fox on Scoutmob Shoppe. Give your shindig a modern, crafty feel with a handmade paper tassel garland and giant balloon set.:


Lawn Games

We are planning to set up badminton and quoits.  I thought this DIY twister game looked fun … another project for my daughters.


Outdoor Twister Graduation Party Idea. This game is the perfect addition to your graduation party for outdoor get together by using only 4 cans of colorful spray paint and 5 sheets of poster paper.


I haven’t decided on a color scheme yet but I am thinking fairly neutral with maybe a pop of orange here and there  I would like the decorations to compliment the rustic setting of our home.

I have a lot of “Hens and Chicks” so I plan to incorporate them into some table centerpieces.  Something like this.

Love the succulent and candle mix. Very simple yet pretty. Citronella candles for patio table.:


And  some colorful blooms to add a fun pop of color!

Throw a fabulous outdoor party with these 7 steps for backyard entertaining


 Here’s  a few other ideas that have caught my eye:

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sources: suitcase, card display, bugspray station

I figure if we accomplish 75 percent of what I am dreaming up, that’s a win!  So right now it is all hands on deck to pull this celebration together … and lots of prayers for nice weather on June 18th!

















Industrial Shelving Update

We’ve been busy with several house projects, all in various stages  but none of which are complete.  Part of the problem is that I like to wait and see what comes along in terms of accessories and furniture.  I love thrifting and yard saling, rather than buying new, but it does take awhile to find what I have in mind.  So rather than continue to wait for these projects to be completely finished, I decided to share some “almost finished” photos of our loft area.

When we built this house two years ago, the upstairs laid out in such a way that we gained a bonus space which we refer to as the loft.  It is situated outside of my three children’s bedrooms and measures about 10 x 10.  The space has a vaulted ceiling and a railing that looks down upon the foyer.

Ever since we moved in, this space  has been the dumping ground for paperwork, photos, school projects … basically everything paper. Here are some “very real” before photos:



I wanted to use this space as a hangout area for my teens as well as an organized repository for our personal files, mailing supplies for my daughter’s Ebay business and my Etsy store, photo storage and gift wrapping supplies.

The jumping off point was shelving.  I was intrigued by these DIY industrial shelving pics.

 This one is from

how to build industrial shelves

And this one is from

Adorable kids' desk area

Both of these women have great tutorials on how to build these shelves so I’ve provided links to their blogs.

In our planning, we knew we needed to incorporate a place for our printer.  Also, the location of the studs dictated that our sections would be about 16 inches wide.  The worst part of the project was removing all of the stickers from each individual piece of pipe.  This actually worked out to be a great project for my mother!


Once the shelving unit was done, I brought out my collection of suitcases and baskets to house the various supplies – one suitcase is just for ribbon and tags, another for tissue paper.etc.


I also incorporated some of my daughters’ ceramic projects and drawings, along with my collection of vintage Reader’s Digest books for color.



Along the bottom, I used these square crates from to organize gift bags and mailing and filing supplies.  I stained them dark walnut so they would  blend in with the shelves.


The industrial shelving serves as the primary organizational area for this space.  We also included my dad’s oak file cabinet.


My dad was an engineer  – very organized and also very frugal.   I love the way he replaced one of the missing handles with a mismatched one.  My parents were auction lovers and rarely bought anything new so I am sure this cabinet was one of their auction finds.  I increased the functionality of the cabinet by purchasing wire frames  from that fit nicely in each drawer and allow me to use hanging file folders.  The cabinet still has the familiar creak when I pull open a drawer …which always reminds me of Dad.



We placed a small sofa that we already had in this space, although  I would like to replace it with a sleeper in the future.  The bamboo shade is from  The rug is a sisal that we had purchased from Pottery Barn for our previous house.  And the trunk/coffee table is a piece that we’ve had forever.


I would like to add a  bohemian vibe to the space by changing out the pillow on the sofa (for now it is a pillow form wrapped in a blanket) and bringing in a few low maintenance plants (maybe a macrame plant hanger).  I would also like to  find either a mid century chair or a rattan chair for this empty corner:

100_7972So more to come on this project but so far so good.   It feels great to finally have this space organized!








Houseplants and Pretty Containers

I am guessing that houseplant sales go up in January and February as we all seem to be longing for some green in our homes about now!

I’ve purchased three houseplants over the past three months and I am happy to report that they are all thriving!

Lemon Cypress Topiary


First up is my lemon cypress topiary. I bought one before Christmas and then decided I needed two.  Lemon cypress is actually a shrub but here in the northeast, the winters are too cold for it to survive outside.  I really like the chartreuse green color.


When you cut them to shape them, it gives off a slight lemony scent and hence the name.  I plopped mine in two old blue spatterware bowls that I had.


 I occasionally give them a turn if I find they are leaning to one side.  I water them whenever the soil feels dry – usually 2 or 3 times a week.


For Christmas this year, I gave my friends little lemon cypress trees, wrapped in burlap and tied with baker’s twine and a chalk tag.  Sometime like this:

alice lane home collection, lemon cypress trees, hostess gift, mercury glass votives:


Stag Horn Fern


Next is my stag horn fern.  This is a really cool houseplant that hangs on the wall.  Yep, I said hangs on the wall.  I was intrigued by it because it resembles antlers and lately I have had an affinity for antlers.


I purchased this online from  It comes already mounted on a cedar board.  Literally, all I had to do was pound a nail in the wall and hang it up.  It gets indirect sunlight and is doing great so far.  I know you are going to ask how I water the thing, right?  Well about every two weeks, I fill the bathtub with water, and place the entire fern (board and all) face down in the tub.  I let it float in the water for 30 minutes or so, or actually until I remember that it’s in the tub.  Then I drain the tub and hang the fern off of the spigot to let the excess water drain out.  Usually, I wait until the following day before re-hanging so it doesn’t leave a wet mark on the wall.  I also mist it occasionally with a water bottle because our wood burning fireplace tends to make the air pretty dry.

Here’s a few of my favorite pics on Pinterest of stag horn ferns:



Garden DIY: Mounting A Staghorn Fern | The Fresh Exchange


Job’s Tears

Lastly, I bought this little guy last month and he actually looks better than when I bought him.  He’s called Job’s Tears (I was drawn to its name).  For this one, I used a wooden mortar bowl I had.  It actually is in a plastic container with a drain saucer that sits inside the wooden bowl.


It is viney so it needs a container that will allow the vines to hang down.  I have mine on our bar cart in the dining room, so I thought the mortar bowl was a nice tie to dining.  And, I like how the chunky wood looks in contrast to the brass and glass bar cart.








The Organizing Continues – Pantry & Paints!

I love the month of January. For me, it is a time to slow down after the busyness of the holidays. It’s usually peppered with a couple of snow days which adds to the take it easy, watch movies, stay in our pj’s all day kind of mode.  And there simply is less to do at this time of year – no outdoor chores, not as many school projects and activities with the kids and no big celebrations. It’s a time that I typically catch the organizing bug and actually have the time to do it! I accomplished three organizing projects this month and each has given me a good deal of satisfaction and renewed my creativity.

The first was organizing my desk space. And, I am happy to report that in the past three weeks it has stayed organized!

The second one I tackled was my pantry closet. I don’t have a before photo but it had gotten pretty bad. So, no big earth shattering ideas here but basically I use baskets and some shallow enamelware trays to corral like items: baking items in one; breads and crackers in another; nuts, seeds and dried fruits in another, and so on.


My canned goods are arranged in rows back to front. This makes it easy to see when I am getting low on something.  It also ensures nothing gets buried in the back.

For cereals, flours, and sugars I use large plastic rectangular containers by Click Clack that allow me to see the contents.  Because they are stackable I can make better use of the shelf space.  I’ve been using these plastic containers ever since a professional organizer came to one of our MOPS programs when my teenage daughters were just toddlers. They have served us well!


On the floor I have an old large enamelware pot for storing dry cat food. So much more convenient and attractive than a big old bag.  The cat food stays fresher, too.


I use a rectangular Basketville basket for storing paper towels. They fit perfectly.


I also have two small baskets that I added “s” hooks to so that they can hang from the wire shelving … one houses extra flatware and the other one keeps straws in arm’s reach for my little guy.


Ahhh…. it feels so good to have some organization in the kitchen again!

My last organizing project was to address our ever growing supply of leftover house paints. We probably had 30 cans or more containing varying amounts of paint and scattered throughout the house. If you’ve ever opened a can of paint after it’s been sitting around awhile, invariably there is rust around the inner rim which falls into the paint upon lifting the lid, making it unusable.  That’s because paint cans are not air tight. The best idea I could find for long lasting paint storage was to transfer the paint to mason jars.


I covered the ping pong table with a plastic tablecloth and then gathered up every paint can we had. I opened each can and stirred up the paint. Using a $1 plastic funnel I poured each paint color into one or more mason jars. I labeled each jar with the color and finish information, along with the room that we used it in. Nothing fancy – just masking tape and a sharpie.

My 6 year old son had a blast helping with this project – he’s responsible for the happy faces on the labels and jar lids!  I know I will look at these lids years from now and smile, thinking back to the day that he excitedly stirred and poured alongside me.


I worked on this over the course of several nights and voila – this long awaited project is now finished! The paints are altogether on a shelving unit in our basement, each properly labeled. The jars take up less than half the space of all the paint cans. Incidentally, in order to throw paint cans in the garbage they need to be completely dry inside. Adding a little kitty litter to each empty can quickly absorbs and hardens any paint residue.


January, you’ve been a good month. I hate to see you go!