Wednesday, July 31, 2013


We just got back from a family trip to Glacier National Park.  It was so beautiful and majestic.  We saw some amazing sights and didn't get eaten by the black bear mothers and cubs that were in the vicinity of our campground the entire week, and I'm grateful on both counts.  Here are some of my favorite views from the trip:

It was so fun to be out in nature and spend time with family, but I'm really grateful to be home and sleeping in an actual bed again.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Let There Be Light

For Mother's Day, Mr. Jones bought me a chandelier I had my eye on. Is it weird that I ask for light fixtures for special occasions? Because I'd like to think it's not weird, especially since this isn't the first time it's happened. Or the last.  Anyway, the light has been sitting on the floor of the front closet for about 2 1/2 months now, and I finally sweet talked my cute husband into hanging it for me. (I've yet to overcome my fear of electricity and learn how to install a light myself, but I have a feeling that it might be a skill I'll be learning in the near future since I have more light-switching-out plans on the horizon.) When I first got it, I thought I'd like to hang it in the entry way, but then I switched out the light covers on the existing dining room chandelier, and while doing so I also switched out the covers on the foyer chandelier and decided I didn't really need to change out the entire light fixture after all. I used the same seeded glass covers as in the dining room.  Let me preface these pictures with an "it's really hard to photograph this area because of the abundant amount of light shining in through the glass window in the front door." But, I love that the seeded glass light shades on the chandelier match the seeded glass in the front door window.  It looks nice in person (even though you can't really tell much of anything texture-wise in these photos).

So, I was happy with the light in the foyer, but there was a light right next door that was bugging me pretty seriously. Here it is:

I really didn't love anything about it.  The yellowy/tan light cover felt heavy for the room, and the shape wasn't my favorite either.  Enter, my Mother's Day present:

I love the shape and how it just fits in this room better. I love the light pattern it makes on the ceiling.  I love how bright it makes the room when I'm playing the piano in the evening.  Mr. Jones just shakes his head and says, "I'm glad it makes you so happy."  Yay for good lighting!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fireplace Redo

My mom has been saying for a while that she wants a new mantle for her fireplace.  I offered to make one for her and actually put it down as one of my goals for the year, but as it got closer, I convinced her that a total fireplace makeover was probably in order.  Here's what the fireplace has looked like for about 36 years:
My dad built it for them back in 1976, I think?  And it was pretty awesome then.  But several decades later, it needed a little updating.  So, I started surfing Pinterest and the DIY blogs for inspiration.  I think I got most of my information and courage from John and Sherry at Young House Love with this post on how they redid their fireplace.  I figured it couldn't be that hard, right?  And I loved how they just built the new face over the top of the old one.  So, I gathered my supplies last week and headed to my parents' house.

The first problem was that the rock that was currently on the face was really uneven.  I couldn't get a level enough surface to attach the 1/4" concrete backerboard.  It was also thicker than I had figured and made the new surface stand out too far for the tile trim I wanted to use.  After much heckling from my father, I finally decided the only way to get the finish I wanted was to chip off the old rock where I wanted my tile to go.  So, about 6 hours and several blisters in the making later, I had chipped about 6" of rock off around the inside portion of the fireplace surround.  I'm telling you what, I was sweating buckets during this stage of the process.  My parents have no A/C, it's been a super hot summer, and swinging a hammer and a chisel was tough work.  And the rocks weren't actual rocks.  They were something called z-rock, which is a composite material, and it kind of just chipped all over in pieces instead of coming off in whole pieces.  I was kind of cursing in my head a little, but it was too late to turn back, so I kept at it.  Once I got the rock off, I used masonry screws to attach the concrete backerboard around the opening.
The tile I picked would be about 4 1/2 inches wide, so I cut 6 inch strips of the backerboard and just stuck it right up to the edge of the surround.  Then, I started tiling.  I was lucky and only had to make a couple of cuts with a tile saw, and I used some premixed adhesive/grout, so that saved some time and effort as well.

I should also mention that I totally forgot to bring my nice camera, so I was snapping all of these photos with my phone.  Oops.  The tile went up quickly, and then I had to wait 24 hours to grout, so I got to work building the wood surround.  I used some particle board I had at my house, along with some trim pieces to build it all out.  Wood glue and a nail gun were my friend. Before I actually stuck the wood surround up and attached it to the wall, I grouted the tile using the same premixed adhesive/grout that I used to attach the tile.  It was pretty easy and straight forward to use, although I didn't have an actual grout float, so I improvised with one of my mom's spatulas from her kitchen.
I attached the surround with big long screws into the old surround, and then covered the screw heads with trim.  I used some matching tile trim pieces to cover the backerboard and tile edges on the inside of the tile.  I used grout like glue and taped the pieces along the top while they dried.  For the mantle, I just started wrapping pieces of trim around the top of the surround, then put a piece of crown molding up last.
Once the crown went up, my dad helped me stick some extra wood up top for the mantle piece to drill into near the wall, and then I attached the mantle board.  Then I used hole filler to patch the nail holes and caulked the seams.
Then I left it for a few days while the grout/nail filler/caulk cured.  Today I came back and painted.  So, all told, it was three pretty solid days of manual labor, but I really love the final result.  It's probably my most difficult and rewarding DIY project to date.  Here are the official before and after photos:

So, there it is.  Not the most thorough of tutorials, but if you have any questions, just let me know.  It was labor intensive, but not terribly technical.  I was a little nervous going in, because I've never done anything like this before.  But, like I said, aside from some serious sweating, it wasn't unmanageable.  

My mom is happy, and that's the most important thing for me on this project.  And I learned a lot and gained some confidence in the home improvement area, so that's a win-win as far as I'm concerned. :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Dining Area

Next up on Project Make This House Feel Like Us is the dining area. It was the same dark brown as in the music room, and although it looks quite pretty in this picture (which was on the flyer when we looked at the house):

it was actually a lot more orangy brown looking and not my style at all. I sat on it for several weeks, and then one day grabbed the lighter taupe paint of which the previous home owners had left us 5 gallons and started painting it.

It was amazing how quickly the space felt like ours and no longer felt like the previous owners'.  I don't know if you notice in the photo above, but I also changed out the light shades on the lamp.  At first I felt like this chandelier would need to be replaced to make it feel more modern and fit the space better, but then I realized that if I replaced the light shades, it would go a long way in creating the look I liked without the cost of replacing the whole chandelier.  So, for less than $6 a pop, I was able to change the look of the chandelier:

The seeded glass light shades are a nod to the seeded glass in our front door and in a kitchen cupboard. The glass ties in to the touches I already love in the house and changes the whole feel of the chandelier.

That leaves just the living room that still has the offending brown color.  Guess what's up next? :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Music Room

Here's the thing: we bought a beautiful home with really nice details and a lot of upgrades.  But, here's the thing:  some of the upgrades and finishings, while nice, are just not "us."  So, I've been making it my mission to personalize our new home.  And it'll be a very gradual process, I'm sure, but I thought I'd document it here for posterity (or for me to look back at in my old age).  

First up: here's a picture of the room off the front door when we looked at the house.  They were using it as an office.
Nice, right?  But that dark brown paint just wasn't floating my boat.  So, we moved in and within a week I was painting.
I chose Benjamin Moore's Palladian Blue for the color, and I LOVE it.  It's kind of a blueish greenish color, depending on the light.  Not too dark, not too washed out.  The third picture down is probably the most accurate depiction of the actual color.  Here are some shots of the finished room, which we're using as a music room:

I still have some work to do in here.  First up is changing the light fixture out for one I got for Mother's Day.  That will hopefully happen tonight.  Also, that corner with the chair needs a little decor TLC.  But, for me, it's a huge improvement over the dark, lodge-feel that the room had before.  Baby steps.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Trail Running

I've always been a pound the pavement kind of runner.  I run on roads and sidewalks, and except for the occasional gravel or dirt road during a Ragnar race, I stick to pavement.  Moving to the country has placed me right next to a huge system of trails, though.  And I found some runners in the neighborhood who were willing to let me tag along on my first (and now second) trail runs.  Holy cow!  It's a very different kind of running than road running, and I'm really loving it.  Steep hills, dusty trail, the occasional jack rabbit and thistles in your socks, and a whole lot of heart pounding and sweating.  We only went 4 miles this morning, but it felt comparable to the 14 miles of roads I did last weekend.  They said in the winter they snowshoe the same trails.  I think I'm in for some fun times!  Here are my feet and socks after taking my shoes off this morning (and, no, that is not tan line on my ankles!):

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Beginnings of Jones Inc.

I realize that blogs are kind of old hat by now.  Back in 2004, our family started a blog before blogging was really even a big thing as a way to keep in touch with family and friends who lived far away.  And now with Instagram, Facebook, and other social media becoming all the rage, I realize blogs are even waning in popularity a little.  But in an effort to not overwhelm my friends and family with a nonstop flood of pictures and stories, I'm creating my own corner of the Internet to give myself a place to stick all my projects, thoughts, and ideas.  Hopefully you find something that is helpful, interesting, or inspiring along the way. Welcome to Jones Inc.!