How We Keep Our Upholstery Clean (+ a Giveaway!)

How we clean our upholstered furniture // via Yellow Brick Home

This post is in partnership with BISSELL®

One of the big reasons that we enjoy being a part of this home-loving community is because so many of us also share the love of pets. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times that you’ve said, I’m here for the dogs! Isn’t it a funny but wonderful thing that complete strangers can form a bond, simply for having a dog (or a cat or a bunny or a lizard or…)? It warms our hearts to know that you, like us, have a hard time imagining a home without these loyal best buds – with their cold noses, bubblegum paws and warm bellies. Our pets are family, they bring our house to life, and, well, if we’re being honest, they bring the mess, too.

We wish we were kidding when we say that every single decision we make in our home is a direct result of being pet parents. This will look different for everyone, of course, depending on your own pets’ behaviors, habits and quirks, but for us, we’re mindful of the rugs we lay, the weave of a throw blanket and the upholstery on the sofa. It’s important for us that the items we bring into this house can withstand a busy family, muddy paws and an upset belly from time to time, because accidents can and will happen! We always say that nothing in our home is too precious, and when it comes right down to it, we love these pets of ours more than we care about a mess.

But you know what helps? Being prepared. Last year, we shared with you how the CrossWave Pet Pro® changed the game, and it’s still our go-to for an overall deep clean as a part of our healthy home routine. We loved it so much, that a few months later, we purchased a BISSELL® SpotClean Professional, a powerful portable spot cleaner for upholstery, carpet and car interiors – to name just a few things!

How we clean our upholstered furniture // via Yellow Brick Home

This thing works. Scott and I get giddy when it comes to trying out new-to-us cleaning products, and we were so impressed with the performance of the SpotClean Pro, that we couldn’t help ourselves but to clean All the Things! (And then boast our love on the blog, too.) We love that it’s compact in size, but the 5′ hose and power cord are long enough to scrub a sofa, the stairs and the seats in our car with ease. The tank is large enough to handle multiple cleanings, and only a small amount of BISSELL’s concentrated cleaning solution is needed for the deepest clean. In other words, we’re not pausing in the middle of a job to refill a tank.

There’s a small trigger that releases the cleaning solution in a fine spray, and we’ll scrub the brush over tough stains before applying pressure to lift away the excess moisture through the hose:

How we clean our upholstered furniture // via Yellow Brick HomeHow we clean our upholstered furniture // via Yellow Brick Home

No matter how many times we’ve used it, we’re always raving about how clean and fluffy and new our furniture looks when we’re done! It’s the perfect companion to our CrossWave for when we need to refresh the sofa or clean up a small accident quickly.

How we clean our upholstered furniture // via Yellow Brick HomeHow we clean our upholstered furniture // via Yellow Brick Home

It’s no secret that Scott and I are over-researchers (to a fault, at times!), but in this case, choosing a BISSELL brand cleaner was an easy decision. Not only are their concentrated cleaners earth, family and pet friendly, but did you know that BISSELL donates $10 of your registered purchase towards animal welfare organizations around the country? The BISSELL® Pet Foundation™ was founded by Cathy Bissell as a way to reduce the number of animals in shelters and rescues through pet adoption, spay/neuter programs, microchipping and foster care. BISSELL wants every pet to find their forever family, just as our pets have chosen us and our home as theirs. Note: If you already own a BISSELL product, you can give back to the pet community by registering your product here!

How we clean our upholstered furniture // via Yellow Brick Home

As a bit of backstory, Scott adopted Libby from a clinic after she was surrendered by her owner for being “problematic” (I say, in air quotes). She had asthma and intestinal issues, but Scott fell in love with that tail-less behind and sweet personality on the spot, and he welcomed her into our family without hesitation. Her issues subsided with medicine and love, and over time, we completely weaned her off of medication! A few years later (and almost ten years ago to the day!) we adopted Jack, and he completely changed our lives. He submerged us head-first into what it meant to be the responsible owners of a Pit Bull, and many of the friends we have today are a result of joining community groups to advocate for the breed. Jack is gentle and stoic and minds Libby no business, but he also has an excitable side and loves to greet every person who walks through our door.

When we moved into our current home, we wanted Jack to have a companion, and he chose CC. She was everything we thought we didn’t want. We worked through a local rescue, requesting a white Pibble with a pink nose (pretty please, as if we had a say in the matter), and they said, sure thing, we have just the dog for you! The rescue owner immediately texted me a photo of a rotund chocolate chunker, and she said, trust me, this is Jack’s soulmate.

How we clean our upholstered furniture // via Yellow Brick Home

Our days tend to be full of chaos, cuteness and cuddles – and yes, a lot of messes. But by now you know, we’re not too worried about that.

How we clean our upholstered furniture // via Yellow Brick Home

Here’s the thing. We can’t imagine our home without our pets, and the BISSELL SpotClean Pro helps us to have our pets and our clean home, too. And because we couldn’t love their helping hand any more, we asked BISSELL if we could share that love with you, and they were enthusiastically on board. So together with BISSELL, we’re giving away a SpotClean Professional to two lucky readers! Here’s how:

  • Using the Rafflecopter widget below, enter as many ways as you’d like.
  • You must be located in the United States to be eligible.
  • Giveaway runs through Tuesday, February 6th, and the winner will be contacted directly. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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8 Things You Can Do Right Now for a Closet You’ll Love Waking Up To

8 tips for a more organized closet you'll love to wake up to! | via Yellow Brick Home

closet system | hardware | floor mirror | bedding | navy rug

Are we all Marie Kondo-ed out yet? Yes? No? Kind of? Okay, here’s the deal. Several years ago, we overhauled our master bedroom. (It’s hard to believe it ever looked like this!) Some of you might remember that it used to be a kitchen when our home was still divided into multiple apartments! As a part of that renovation, we swapped a door in exchange for a wall of windows, installed plumbing for a nearby laundry room (best decision!) and created a big, empty drywall box that could accommodate two IKEA PAX units.

Right before all of that, I had finished reading everyone’s favorite organizing book, made only more popular recently due to Marie’s adorable Netflix series. As cliche as it sounds, following her advice did change our lives! It was magic! We hauled so much junk out of our home, and we were so much happier for it. After the big master bedroom renovation, we were careful to only fold away sweaters that sparked joy and vintage tees that we loved. For years, we’ve done a pretty good job at sticking to it, and we’ve never been big on shopping for clothes anyway. Even still, I have started to feel my sense of style change, and I realized I was holding on to blouses, dresses and cardigans that Old Kim would wear. Old Kim liked bright colored everything and a boxier cut. New Kim craved simplicity and comfort, a great fitting pair of jeans and a neutral pair of boots. (Fun side story: As I waited in line to donate a bag of clothes, the guy next to me – also hauling his own bag – said, dude, I just Marie Kondo-ed the s*** out of my house. You, too?)

So when New Kim’s friend Meghan the Stylist offers to help clear out her closet once and for all, she accepts. (Aaand – third person, end.) I stripped down to a bathing suit, and I tried on anything that wasn’t a clear yes or no. The two of us were brutally honest about each and every item in that closet, and I have greeted each day with a much better mood ever since! I’m no longer thinking too hard about what to wear, because I love each and every item. It took just two hours to set myself up for success, and I’m-a share the process with you so that we can all open our closets with a smile, once and for all.

8 tips for a more organized closet you'll love to wake up to! | via Yellow Brick Home

headboard | sconces

1| Empty the entire closet. Yes, the whole thing.

I used to fling open my closet doors and pull out only the few items I didn’t like and fold them into a bag for donation. I’d do this twice a year – summer and winter – and I’d abide by the rule that if I hadn’t worn it the previous season, out it went. But it wasn’t until I read about Marie Kondo’s method that it clicked; I should have been doing it in reverse all along! By emptying the entire closet on the bed, you can give everything a more critical eye and try things on – plus, this is your chance to give the interior of your closet a much needed dusting while you’re at it. Give yourself a blank canvas.

8 tips for a more organized closet you'll love to wake up to! | via Yellow Brick Home

2| Put back only what you love, no exceptions.

This one is self explanatory, but seriously. I was brutally honest with myself in this go-round, and it helped to have a friend with me. When in doubt, I tried it on. If I didn’t feel like a million bucks or Meghan took too long to give me a thumbs up (it happened more than a few times, ha!), it went to the donate pile. I even went so far as to toss every last pair of socks and undies that had been buried under my go-to picks, relieving that overstuffed drawer of excess weight.

8 tips for a more organized closet you'll love to wake up to! | via Yellow Brick Home

3| And while you’re at it, swap your mismatched hangers for the same style.

When things look nice, you’re more likely to keep it that way. If your closet is full of mismatched hangers, take this time to choose one variety. I personally love these flocked hangers (also in gray and beige!) because they take up minimal space and my clothes stay put; no more wasted time battling those slipping shoulders.

8 tips for a more organized closet you'll love to wake up to! | via Yellow Brick Home

closet system | hardware | floor mirror | bedding | navy rug

4| Know when to hang them; know when to fold them.

How often do you find yourself avoiding an item of clothing because it’s perpetually wrinkled? This is your opportunity to make a plan on what goes where – and stick to it. I like to hang blouses and button-ups (i.e., anything that’s not a T-shirt), dresses and jackets. I fold tees, anything knit, pants, pajamas and workout clothes. For my fresh start, I folded everything Konmari style (well, just short of communicating my appreciation to each garment). I have to confess that I always thought folding things in half and thirds was a bit of a time suck, but I was blown away by how much space it saved. I’m a fan.

5| Keep like items together.

This seems obvious, doesn’t it? Pants go with pants and shirts go with shirts. Even still, it’s too easy to slip into the habit of hanging clothing or stuffing items into drawers where ever they’ll fit. I went so far as to fold my V-necks with V-necks, concert tees with concert tees and stripes with stripes.

8 tips for a more organized closet you'll love to wake up to! | via Yellow Brick Home

6| Make shelf adjustments.

If your closet has shelving or adjustable drawers, assess what’s been working for you and what hasn’t. Now that your pile of clothes is likely a lot smaller (Scott and I filled two IKEA bags to the brim), take a moment to move shelves up or down – or create a new configuration completely!

8 tips for a more organized closet you'll love to wake up to! | via Yellow Brick Home

7| Allow the empty space to breathe.

The combination of lightening up my wardrobe and folding Konmari-style left an excess of empty space in my drawers, and it has been amazing. Push aside the urge to keep a few extra on-the-fence items when you see this empty space; allow that empty space to breathe. In the meantime, make a list of clothing that you actually need, and purchase it when it’s just right (not on a whim).

8 tips for a more organized closet you'll love to wake up to! | via Yellow Brick Home

closet system | hardware | sconces | bedding

8| Change out the hardware for something awesome.

We’re big believers in investing in hardware that makes your heart sing! For an item that you touch every. single. day, it’s worth spending a little more on something that makes you truly happy. Treat yourself. Consider swapping out the old hardware on your closet doors and dresser drawers for something that’ll make you excited to shop from your ‘new’ wardrobe in the morning! We have these in unlacquered brass (although it looks like they’re no longer available in the 18″).

8 tips for a more organized closet you'll love to wake up to! | via Yellow Brick Home

Moving Forward

Now that you’ve gone through every last item with a fine tooth comb, resist the urge to fill up all that empty space (see #7 above!). Instead, consider investing in well made, quality clothes for the long haul. Saying ‘no’ to fast fashion is a much larger topic that I’m interested in learning more about + practicing, and for now, I’m taking small steps. A change like this can take years. (I’m late to the game, but I am so in love with Everlane and their mission!)

Stay true to what works for you, not what works for everyone else. The New Kim, to be quite honest, has a somewhat boring wardrobe. Aside from a few checked shirts and floral blouses, I’m all about black, gray and cream – and I’m okay with that, because I love every piece! Hone in your ‘uniform’, and relieve yourself of that stressor every morning.

Of course, you’ll still find items to donate from time to time. If after all of this you still find yourself digging past that sweater that makes your arms look funny, donate it. Donate it right now. We keep a rotating donation bag in the workshop and add to it all the time (home items, too), and once it’s full, we drop it off while we’re out running other errands.

8 tips for a more organized closet you'll love to wake up to! | via Yellow Brick Home

My ultimate goal is to get to a place where a big purge is no longer necessary. I think we’re kind of there, but I know we can get better. (In fact, that flash sale I asked you all about is happening in a few months. Can’t wait to share more with you soon!)

Friends, what else would you add to this list? I’d also love to know your favorite ethical clothing brands! Feel free to share them in the comments below so we can all learn from one another, and/or I can put together a resource post with your feedback if you’re interested?

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Modifying Our Media Center + Keeping It Organized

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

media center | coffee table | vintage rug (similar) | pouf | arm chair

Sometimes a seemingly tiny change can make a huge impact. We always say that if someone walks into a room and can’t pinpoint why they love it, it’s been done well! Our goal is always for the details of an entire room play nicely together, so it comes together as a whole cohesive space.

With that mindset, we’ve been on the hunt for a perfect credenza. The recent sofa/coffee table/chair swap was the largest part of this rooms’ update, but the old credenza was feeling like it didn’t fit the space any longer. We considered giving it a new life with a fresh coat of paint, but what we really wanted was something wood toned. Something to bring in an extra layer of warmth. Kim mentioned a few weeks ago that we’d finally tracked down the right piece – but it needed a couple of small tweaks to be just right. Here’s what it looked like after putting it into place, pre-tweak:

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

We ultimately landed on the Nagano Sideboard from At Home, thinking that it would offer a beautiful compliment to our oak flooring, nearby coffee table and the caramel leather of our arm chair without being too matchy-matchy. We first fell in love with the sturdy look of this piece months ago (and we couldn’t believe that it was still available!), but something still felt the slightest bit off.

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

We agreed that the credenza was a bit too top-heavy, and Kim had been searching for an excuse to try these rounded legs from Prettypegs for ages. This felt like the perfect application! These legs would allow the piece to sit lower to the ground and create more breathing room above, and they would detract a bit from the overly MCM feel of the credenza (since nothing else on our first floor fell into this category). The replacement legs are designed as upgrade pieces for popular IKEA furniture, but the included mounting hardware is universal so we pulled the trigger and waited anxiously for the legs to make the overseas journey to our doorstep!

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

We ordered our Prettypegs in a raw finish since we knew we’d be staining them to match the new credenza. After one thin coat of Golden Oak stain and two coats of matte Polycrylic, the finished look is a near identical match to the credenza!

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

While the new legs dried, we made a couple of small modifications to allow the sideboard to function as our new media center. The hole saw made quick work of providing cable access to the left cabinet section where the stereo receiver and our electronic gadgets would eventually reside.

Note: We’ve found so many uses for our hole saw kit, that it found its way onto our recent roundup of essential tools for the DIYer. It’s a seemingly odd tool that we find ourselves using more often than we realize!

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

After the access hole was complete and free of sawdust, we reconnected our electronics, tidied up the cables, and we were ready to attach our new Prettypegs! The hardware included with the legs is seriously heavy duty but almost invisible once installed. We were very impressed with the quality. The new legs brought the credenza lower to the ground (by a little more than 2 inches), and we spaced them a little farther apart than the original legs, giving the piece better proportions and a more squat, solid look. Yes!

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

This before and after gif illustrates how that seemingly small difference makes so much more sense:

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick HomeMid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

The installation of the new television and low profile wall mount (similar) required a bit of touch-up paint, so while we were at it we finally took the opportunity to paint the frames of our left and right in-wall speakers. The speaker grilles are paintable as well, but they’re slightly off-white right out of the box, so we left them as-is and they almost disappear into the wall while still sounding fantastic!

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

In order to keep our delicate electronics safe from the Lucy’s curious little hands, we’ve installed safety latches on the left door and all three center drawers. The right door opens up freely to reveal a basket full of her stuffed animals and other toys. Lucy has quickly found great joy in flinging the door open and yanking the basket to the floor, spilling her toys everywhere. Her goofy giggle as she looks up at us like she’s actually getting away with something cracks us up every. single. time.

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home

The long search for the right piece and the subsequent modifications were well worth the effort for a finished product that we’re thrilled with! The living room finally feels whole again, and we’ve found ourselves spending as much time in this room as possible – something we weren’t doing as much in the previous configuration; it just wasn’t working as hard as it could have been for our new family dynamic. The warm neutral tones are cozy and inviting, and the lower proportions of the furniture make the ceilings feel higher than ever. We often find ourselves counting down the hours until we get to settle in to our favorite spots on the sectional, dim the lights and enjoy an evening cocktail (or two).

If you find yourself drawn to a piece of furniture but wish there was one thing done differently, give it a chance! We’re big proponents of modifying a piece to fit your needs exactly. Don’t settle for less, friends.

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The Weekender

The Sweet Beast One Room Challenge // beautiful neutrals, wood tones, vintage rug and fireplace

the sweet beast’s master bedroom

How, where do you start when it comes to creating a home that you love? I was struck by the simplicity in Emily’s message on this Instagram post, via the sweet beast. (It’s worth a click.) Essentially, how can you successfully design a room if you don’t center the space around what you’re drawn to? It’s far too easy to see a beautiful home online and want to emulate it in your own family room, bedroom or bath, only to find yourself stuck in a state of frustration. What works for someone else in their space – their light, their room dimensions, their family size – won’t always work for you, and that’s okay! If you’re feeling paralyzed by indecision (um, guilty), take a step back. Re-center. Gather up those inspiration photos and really look at them. I mean really, really look at them. What do you like about them? Is there a recurring pattern that ties these images together? Take notes on exactly what you love. Start small.

Most importantly, never forget to surround yourself with what you love (you and you alone, friend!). Because as Emily says, This is how you build a home full of character and a space that welcomes you and makes you feel at home. (Also, the sweet beast is one to follow! Love her Pittsburgh home so much.)

What Else?

Can’t. Stop. Staring at Heather and Aaron’s all black kitchen. They killed it.

Remember when I said I wished I could be one of those girls that could rock a turtleneck? I ordered these in black and moss and now i’m watching the mailbox like …

I can’t remember the last time I tried on a pair of jeans and they just fitUntil these.

When we mentioned that we were on the hunt for a tone-on-tone wallpaper to play nicely with the walls in our Tree House sleeping loft, someone suggested that we take a look at Kate Golding. Ob-sessed doesn’t even begin to describe it. We’re torn between Canadian Shield, Sand Dunes, Garter Snake, Grasses Dawn, Juniper Summer and Caribou – wait, did I just name all of them?!

Kate Golding wallpaper


Speaking of the loft, we’re so close to nailing down the design for our new railings! We sent our fabricator photos from Kelsey’s farmhouse and Chris + Julia’s home, and we tweaked the details to fit our unique space, incorporating a safety gate, grab bars and hand rails for the ladder. We can’t wait to have the final plans in hand and share them with you!

I’ve touted my love for this cheek tint in the past, but in search of something more pink, I strayed from my usual (‘beam’) and ordered ‘puff.’ It’s the sweetest shade that still looks natural, and I’m convinced it gives me that youthful glow I was missing.

However, I’m still ISO of a great pair of (hopefully affordable) yoga pants! I prefer a high waist with a 7/8 length, a smooth sheen to the fabric, and for the love of Pete, I would really prefer it if there wasn’t a seam straight up the middle of my you-know-what. Help a girl out? (Please and thank you!)

Happy weekend, friends!

Updates To Our Most Asked About Home Projects 2.0!

We’re back with another round of our most asked about home projects and purchases! We tend to receive several of the same questions about varying items and DIYs throughout our home, and this is a fun way for us to keep you in the loop on the durability and longevity of those choices. Plus, it’s always a good gut check for us to see what’s working – or what’s not. (Because your home should work for you, not against you!) Anytime we notice a recurring question float through our inbox, we add it to a running list so that we can compile all the answers into one place, to live on the blog, for everyone, forever. (No pressure.) Are y’all ready for Updates 2.0? Let’s go!

Psst: You can check out our first round of questions right here, where we dive into everything from the laundry room off of the master bedroom, our white kitchen cabinets, those floating workshop shelves and more!

How we organize our master bath | via Yellow Brick Home

tile | door hardware

On choosing white tile + light grout in bath and kitchen:

We chose matte white subway tile for both our master bathroom and our kitchen backsplash. When we considered grout colors, we opted to stay away from high contrast, and instead we landed on soft gray grout lines in both spaces. In doing so, we kept these rooms fresh and bright, taking advantage of the natural light that we receive in our home! We were met with concerns that the lighter grout would be difficult to keep clean in these high traffic rooms, but we took the so-called risk, sealed the grout and crossed our fingers.

Would we do it again? 

Yup! The matte white tile cleans up just as easy as a glossier tile, and the grout has proven to be incredibly durable! Any concerns about lighter grout being harder to maintain went completely out the window after a few weeks. Pasta sauce splatters near the stove and splashing dish water behind the sink are no match for this bright and easy choice. In the shower, the white + gray combo has held up to countless scrubs, and for a deeper clean, we use a bristle brush to really get in there.

See our completed bathroom here and our kitchen renovation here.

DIY laundry sorting bags using grommets and hooks

canvas bags | wallpaper

On those DIY laundry sorting bags:

When we renovated our second floor bathroom, we moved a wall to take space from our soon-to-be laundry room off of the master bedroom, which in turn would make way for a larger bathroom. We knew the smaller footprint of the laundry room would require us to think vertically and keep storage solutions up and off of the floor, and that’s when our laundry sorting solution was born! It was designed to help sort laundry into different loads and make use of wall space, as opposed to taking up valuable floor space.

Would we do it again? 

Yes, but probably slightly differently. The wood plank with brass hooks has worked out perfectly. It’s a sturdy and handsome solution to keep holes in the wallpaper to a minimum in case our needs ever change, and we wouldn’t alter this part of the design a bit. The bags, however, are beginning to show their age – which we suppose is to be expected after a handful of years? The finish on the plastic grommets are starting to chip, and although the canvas bags themselves have held up well, the fabric is starting to pull away from the snap-on grommets. (This may or may not be because we sometimes overstuff them!) I’ve been considering ordering new bags and having brass / metal grommets installed that are more durable and permanent.

See how we made our DIY laundry sorting station here, and here’s the laundry room reveal!

Our favorite paint tools so you can get the job done right! via Yellow Brick Home

On the comfort of our Mello sectional:

After lots of careful measuring and an exhaustive search, we landed on the Mello sectional from Article as the focal point of our Tree House living room. We’ve been lounging on the Mello for over a year now, and you all want to know, do we still love it as much as our initial review?

Would we choose it again? 

Heck. Yes. The Mello is one of our favorite Tree House decisions so far. The leather is incredibly soft, but still crazy durable. It’s beginning to wear ever-so-slightly in all the right ways, and she’s looking fantastic. I personally love how the low-slung, chunky design of Mello keeps her looking tidy, if that makes sense? Like, the seat and the seat back are still tight, so there’s no need to smooth or fluff every time you get up. Also, here’s a testament to Mello’s durability: One evening after returning home from dinner, we saw that Jack had nestled himself into the sofa while we were away. He has a habit of ‘digging’ to create the perfect nook (even if there’s nothing to dig), and as a result, there were very noticeable scratch marks. I think our hearts stopped for a moment – the scratches seemed as though they would be beyond repair, but we immediately wiped it down with leather conditioner, buffed, wiped and buffed again… and they disappeared. So, two things: Not only did Jack’s scratching not puncture the thick leather, but the quality of the material was able to withstand the damage!

Read about our first Mello impression here, and did you see that it’s now available in a light tan?

black bedroom // Benjamin Moore Raccoon Fur // via Yellow Brick Home

grey rug | cream bedding | quilt | headboard | sconces

About those Baxter rugs in the studio and bedroom:

The Baxter rug from Crate & Barrel comes in 546 different colors and 112 different sizes (okay, not really, but it does come in 9 colors and 5 sizes), so the hardest decision is which color will you choose? It’s thick and plush underfoot, 100% wool and has a hint of a heather effect, making it feel so cool and lived in from the start.

Would we choose it again? 

Yes and yes! We have the grey Baxter in our bedroom and the indigo in the studio, and both have both held up incredibly well over the last few years. They’re heavy and solid, so they stay put without much effort, although we do like to layer them with a rug pad. (These pads are our favorite!) They barely shed and they’re woven so tightly that when spills and mishaps occasionally occur, things tend to wipe up with very little effort. We’ve searched high and low for a better do-it-all solid color rug, and we’re pretty sure this one takes the throne.

See our master bedroom Baxter here and our studio Baxter here.

Neutral nursery design | via Yellow Brick Home

pendant light | sconce | pouf | rug | curtains | side table | rocker (similar)

On choosing a white rocking chair in the nursery:

The white rocking chair has been the central feature of Lucy’s nursery for the last year. We purchased the ‘Urban’ rocker from Pottery Barn Kids, but it looks like it has since been replaced with the ‘Phoenix‘, which is very similar in style – sleek and simple, perfect for small spaces. Our rocker has some hours (days? weeks? months?) on it. From late-night feedings to reading books before bed, it might actually be easier to count the hours (er, days, weeks, months) that someone wasn’t sitting in it!

Would we choose it again? 

Me: Probably yes. Scott: Probably no. The biggest issue is that the seat padding has condensed over time, and since there’s not a removable cushion, there is no way to fluff it or flip it over occasionally for more even wear. The smaller issue is that there is a barely imperceptible outline of bleed through from our jeans, but that will likely come out with a deep clean now that Lucy is no longer nursing and the chair will get a much needed break. I’m chalking the latter up to the light color of the fabric. In hindsight, we probably should have treated the fabric with Scotch guard, but we weren’t thinking clearly in those early newborn days! I think the reason that the rocker is questioned so often is the choice of white. Although our jeans have slightly discolored the fabric, we’ve been otherwise impressed with the fabric’s ability (we chose an ivory performance velvet) to repel stains from, you know, baby stuff. Any spit ups or dog slobbers have wiped right up with ease! I definitely have a sentimental attachment to the chair, so perhaps that’s why my opinion would skew towards yes!, plus, it’s so perfectly petite while still being comfortable. Scott, on the other hand, thinks that an investment chair should look a little less disheveled after one year. We both agree that a removable seat cushion that can be flipped would have solved the issue!

Check out our nursery reveal, featuring the Urban rocker, here

White kitchen and black island with butcher block top | via Yellow Brick Home

On the durability of our DIY kitchen island (from a dresser!):

In an attempt to find the perfect marriage of form and function in the center of our kitchen, we turned a thrifted dresser into a kitchen island fit our very specific needs. Near-black paint and a custom rock hard maple butcher block top both tied in and contrasted nicely with the other finishes in our all-white kitchen.

Would we do it again? 

Without a doubt! The island looks as great today as the day we finished it. We (and all of our friends and family!) absolutely love it. The DIY island remains the centerpiece and workhorse of our kitchen. It acts as a gathering spot, a buffet for serving up pot luck meals and a perfect bar top for mixing drinks. The butcher block is aging beautifully with proper care and a frequent oil. The paint was protected with several coats of satin Polycryclis, and it’s holding up to all the abuse that two big dogs, a baby, and a rotating cast of adults can dish out.

Here’s how we DIY-ed the island, and you can see the full kitchen reveal right here.

Article Gaba sectional in Pearl White, a living room makeover (or a makeunder?!) // neutral, cozy living room via Yellow Brick Home

sectional | coffee table | brass sconce | floor lamp | large art | pouf

About that pearly white fabric on our Gaba sectional:

We love the Mello sectional from Article so much, that it was an easy decision to shop from Article again in our Chicago home. The Gaba sectional has only been a part of our lives for a few short months, and more than a few people have expressed concern over the decision to place an off-white sofa in a house that’s as full of slobbery dogs and babies as ours is. (We totally get it.) So, how’s it going so far, you ask?

Would we do it again? 

You guys. A resounding YES! Before we committed to the ‘Pearl’ fabric, we ordered a sample to see to see it up close, but most importantly, we perform the kitty claw scratch test. This test involves attempting to absolutely destroy a fabric swatch with a sturdy thumbtack in order to replicate the effects of little Libby’s razor claws. If the fabric holds up to the kitty claw scratch test, we move on to the the spilled red wine test. That test involves, you guessed it, dipping the fabric swatch into red wine and attempting to clean it. And then we move on to coffee. And then we rub it all over our pups to see how much hair it attracts! The Pearl fabric of our Gaba passed all tests. We think that there’s enough variation in the fabric to conceal use over time, and since owning Gaba, we (and our guests) have already spilled beer, wine and cake on the fabric. We treated the Gaba with Scotchgard before using it, and the stains wipe right up with a bit of dish soap and water. In terms of comfort, the seats are deeeep, although firm. The back cushions are down-filled and soft. We like that the covers are completely removable and all the cushions can be flipped and fluffed as needed. In short? We love this sofa and it loves us right back.

Check out our living room refresh with the Gaba sofa here.

White kitchen inspiration | via Yellow Brick Home

drawer hardware | toaster | butter bell | marble pastry board

On the DIY corner dog food station:

As a part of our kitchen renovation, we incorporated this DIY feeding station for Jack and CC. I would like to pretend that we didn’t agonize over the solution, but let’s face it, our dogs rule this roost. In the end, we customized a corner spot that would keep their food off the floor at a comfortable height for them, and we hung a painting of each pup over their respective bowls. Naturally.

Would we do it again? 

Probably? The station itself is holding up wonderfully! It cleans up with a microfiber cloth, although the stainless bowls have left a slight reddish ring around the opening over time (but it’s not visible once the bowls are in place). Jack and CC love it, we can easily mop underneath it, and we think it’s minimal and attractive. The issue isn’t so much about the station itself, but more about how messy our dogs are! The drywall behind the station definitely gets some abuse, and water that dribbles behind the station has caused the caulk to crack (and get mildew-y – ew!) on the baseboard below. We may need to apply a thick line of silicone caulk around the edge to protect the wall above and below, which we should have done at the start. Another thought if you DIY your own: Leave enough space behind the bowl openings so that they’re not as close to the wall and add a line of silicone where the station meets the wall.

See how we DIY-ed this corner station here.

Friends, that’s a wrap on 2.0! And now we start the list fresh for next time – ha! Are there any projects, purchases, renovations, anything – like, anything – you’ve wondered about? We’re over here, taking notes.

PS: If you’re wondering where we got a specific item in our home, you can always shop our Chicago house and Tree House!

Our Baby and Pet Gate Solution (+ 21 Baby Gates That Look Good!)

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Home

light | table | chairs | vase | faux greens | high chair | gate

Our little Lucy has been a speedy crawler for a long time now, but a week before her first birthday, she decided that it was time for her to walk! She chooses her steps selectively and is still quicker to crawl, but with her newfound sense of mobility she’s also discovered that climbing the staircase (with very close supervision) is her very favorite activity. In addition, she tends to leave a 14 foot ring of food crumbs around her high chair during mealtime, which is just a little too tempting for our furry family members – whom she also takes great joy in feeding food that was meant for her!

All this to say, we knew it was time to install a few gates around the house to keep both Lucy from quickly ending up near the stairs and to keep the dogs away while we eat together as a (human) family. (But don’t worry, Jack and CC are the quintessential vacuums, speedily slurping up any mushy remnants that have fallen to the rug.)

Baby/dog gates can be a tricky thing. Functionality often takes priority over form, which of course, but they can leave a lot to be desired in the style department. We’ve DIY’d a few gates in the past – like the ones in the OTAT dog adoption center, our friend Kiira’s home, and our own side yard – but the layout of our current home made the use of traditional gates (no matter how custom) a challenge. We searched high and low for the perfect solution, but in the end, we ended up finding a version that functions much like a retractable roller curtain. We also liked that this gate rolls out of the way when not in use, so while the roll and hooks will always be visible, the durable ‘gate’ fabric is out of the way when not necessary. This gate has been a game changer for us and we’ve even ordered a couple more to place elsewhere in the house. Gates everywhere!

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Home

Like most purchases we make online, we’re sure to read the reviews, and the reviews on this one? Well, they’re not stellar, but upon further digging, the majority of the negative comments are due to a fundamental misunderstand of how the gate works. There is a small round button at the top of the main portion of the gate that must be pushed in and turned 90 degrees in order for the gate to ‘release’. Once the button is turned and therefore released, the gate will roll out smoothly until it is placed on the ‘hook’ end. The gate then retracts a bit (similar to the function of a seat belt) and locks into place. Many of the negative reviews mention that the dial must be held with one hand while the gate is extended with the other, but this is simply not the case, and we’ve found the gate easy to use and very intuitive once used a few times.

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Home

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick HomeAfter the initial test drive, we’ve also found these gates to be incredibly durable! CC decided to give the kitchen gate the ol’ flying hippo test and took a bumbling leap over it when a friend came to visit. With a complete and utter lack of grace, she barely made it over the top and landed unfazed on her goofy snout. Jack wouldn’t dare risk embarrassing himself as CC often does, so beyond that one incident, the dogs have stayed in the areas that we’ve intended after a few lessons where they were rewarded handsomely with treats.

Several days after trying our retractable gate in the kitchen during mealtimes, we ordered another to install at the landing at the top of the stairs. We mounted this on on the far side of the landing, which keeps the pups from being able to see down through the front door and to the sidewalk so they don’t bark every time our sweet mail lady (or a neighbor or another dog or, or, or!) comes by.

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Home

Having the gate on the small landing around the corner from stairs also keeps us from having to balance precariously on the top step while we open and close the gate. Old house stairs can be steep!

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Homeattractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Home

Although DIY was our first thought as we dove into this search, we’re happy to report that the retractable gate solution works really well for our family and the layout of our home. And although you can see the mechanism when rolled away, we’ve found that in the spaces where we need them, it’s more convenient than a door that needs to swing out of the way when not in use.

During our deep dive into all things baby-and-pet-gate, we also found a variety of gates we think would look great in any home, and we’ve rounded those up for you, below! As a bonus, several of these gates are from custom sellers that can customize shapes, sizes and finishes to meet your needs.

21 Baby Gates That Look Good Doing Their Thing

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Home

1. white retractable | 2. aluminum swing | 3. white/grey walk-through | 4. matte bronze walk-through | 5. white metal walk-through | 6. custom geometric

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Home

7. custom modern white | 8. metropolitan | 9. extra-wide walk-through | 10. expandable swing | 11. mid-century | 12. easy close metal

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Home

13. expandable XL tall and wide | 14. modern wood | 15. black retractable | 16. expandable wood | 17. rustic wood sliding | 18. light wood push to close

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Home

19. slim metal | 20. expandable teal | 21. easy swing and lock

attractive baby gates | our baby gate review | DIY baby gate | via Yellow Brick Home

Repairing Grandma’s Vintage Clock

Neutral living room with warm whites and wood tones | via Yellow Brick Home

sectional | armchair | coffee table | console | ivory pouf | leather pouf

Kim’s grandparents’ midcentury clock has been with us for almost 10 years now. It received a thorough structural repair a few years ago (click over for photos of the insanely colorful condo if nothing else!), but the clock’s mechanism finally gave up the ghost 18 months ago. At least. I mean to be honest, we can’t remember that far back, because we haven’t been able to tell the time since. We knew that a heart transplant for this sentimental beauty would probably be a simple task, but it was just one of those projects that kept taking a back burner. Well, there’s no time (har har) like the present, so we finally bought the parts and got to work.

Based on what Kim’s mom and dad can remember, this clock has been in the family for 50 or 60 years. See photo evidence, below. Just as the orange cast and grainy image would suggest, this photo is around 25-ish years old.  See that little Kim, peeking out between her Pap Pap and Grandma while her sister looks on, obviously bewildered by the beauty of said clock? Aren’t old photos the greatest? Grandma’s eyes were closed and we just have to deal with it. So. Good.

We put together a quick video documenting the process and also outlined the steps below for those that prefer the old fashioned way! Note: f you’re viewing this in a reader, you may need to click over to the original post to view the video, or you can watch it here on YouTube

[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”GaoRVZxX” upload-date=”2019-01-18T10:00:00.000Z” name=”How To Repair A Vintage Clock” description=””]

What we did:

We purchased our replacement movement kit based on two factors: hole size and shaft length. Common options for each are typically 1/4″ – 3/8″,  so to determine the correct sizes for any clock, simply remove the old mechanism and measure each dimension. Movement kits in all sizes can easily be found right here!

How to repair an antique / vintage clock | via Yellow Brick Home

The first step of the project is to remove the hands and threaded nut of the movement mechanism. Then simply lift off the clock face:

How to repair an antique / vintage clock | via Yellow Brick Home

The side-by-side comparison below shows the old mechanism on the left, versus the new one on the right. Note that the shaft on our kit is a similar in length, but a bit smaller in diameter, which is fine. Keep in mind that unless you’re in the mood for some careful, tedious drilling, you don’t want the shaft to be larger than the hole in the clock’s face.

How to repair an antique / vintage clock | via Yellow Brick Home

Next, the threaded nut from the new kit can be removed:

How to repair an antique / vintage clock | via Yellow Brick Home

…And the shaft can be placed through the face of the clock. Carefully tighten the nut to hold the mechanism kit in place. Use a wrench if needed, but don’t over tighten!

How to repair an antique / vintage clock | via Yellow Brick Home

From what we can tell, clock hands are pretty much universal, so we opted to place the original hour and minute hands onto the new kit. The original mechanism didn’t have a place for a second hand, but the new kit contained an adorable little brass piece, so we went ahead and installed it. It’s on the shorter side and admittedly kind of tough to see against the brass face, but it sure is cute!

How to repair an antique / vintage clock | via Yellow Brick Home

vintage sunburst clock | repair kit

The great thing about these kits is that they can be used to spruce up a non-working clock, or to make a brand new clock out of literally anything. No, really, anything! In college, I found a cool old Buick hubcap at a flea market, and I turned it into a clock using a drill and about 5 minutes of my time. The possibilities are endless!

Why is it that these tiny projects are the ones that we put off for way too long? Because don’t you agree that they’re often the most satisfying? This little swap took all of 30 minutes – including the time to film! – but it would have taken less than 10 if we weren’t documenting the process. Hopefully this provides a small bit of motivation to repair a broken clock or wrap up that tiny project that’s been on your list forever!

Video note | Music is by ProleteR, and this vlog was filmed and edited by us, Kim + Scott. If you enjoy our vlogs, it’d sure make our day if you subscribed to our YouTube channel!

PS: How sweet is this?

53 Tools to Build Your DIY Library

An organized workshop using Gladiator GearWall from Lowe's | via Yellow Brick Home

DIY nail art | our workshop

Given the number and variety of projects we’ve documented here on YBH, we get a lot of requests for tool buying advice. We totally get it; with the sheer volume of brands, styles, cross-compatibility (or lack thereof) and varying levels of quality available, purchasing decisions can certainly be overwhelming. So as an aid to wading through the sea of options, we’ve assembled a three stage tool buying guide that we hope will offer some insight into the tools that we’ve found helpful throughout our own renovation journey!

We believe in buying quality tools the first time. While it’s tempting to go the inexpensive route when purchasing tools, quality tools will not only stand the test of time, but will lead to quicker, safer completion of projects with lower levels of frustration. (So important!) Purchasing tools that will need to be replaced when they wear out quickly or fail prematurely will actually cost more in the long run – not to mention the environmental impact of tossing sub-par materials.

We’ve broken our choices down into three stages, with each building on the stage before it. For example, purchasing the tools in Stage Two prior to Stage One would result in the lack of a hammer. That’s not going to help anyone!

Stage One is composed of tools for the first time homeowner or apartment dweller.

Stage Two features tools for the owners of a ‘cosmetic’ fixer-upper and likely reflects the most substantial investment.

Stage Three is made up of tools that we’ve found necessary for our not-quite-gut rehabs and have become indispensable to us as we continue to renovate our Chicago home and our Michigan Tree House.

Note: This post is not sponsored and the brands displayed here are our personal preferences. We tend to find a brand that we trust and stick with it, so you’ll surely notice some repeating themes. Many of the tools below are the exact tools in our toolbox(es). Otherwise, we’ve chosen similar or updated models – or the tools we wish we’d purchased in the first place! You might also notice that we’ve intentionally left off safety and protective gear like glasses and gloves, because we’re all smart enough to know that’s a given, right?

Another note: In the interest of avoiding a specialty tool rabbit hole, we’ve also intentionally left tools for tiling and flooring (wet saw/grout float/flooring nailer etc.) off the list. Tools like these that only perform one specific task can easily be rented at a big box store or tool rental shop as needed. We’ve also purchased some of these speciality items second-hand on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace and re-sold them when we were done.

Here we go!

Stage One| First time homeowner/apartment dweller

You’re out on your own! The tools in Stage One will help complete simple tasks like painting, hanging art, replacing light fixtures, assembling furniture and completing small repairs around the home. We feel that investing in these tools is nearly mandatory for anyone and will help in gaining self-reliance.

Building your tool library | via Yellow Brick Home

1| 12 volt drill/driver: This compact workhorse will live in your tool bag and end up getting a workout on almost every project. Choose your brand wisely here as future battery/charger compatibility will determine many of the tools you purchase in stage 2 and 3. Your power tool kit starts here.

2| Hammer: You will use your trusty hammer all. the. time. Buy one that feels nice in your hand and select a weight that you’re comfortable with (yes, hammers come in varying weights). Antivibe technology helps keep your elbows healthy if you’re into that sort of thing.

3| Multi-function ratcheting screwdriver: This will eventually be replaced by a whole set of screwdrivers in Stage 2, but don’t skimp. This tool will live in the ‘junk’ drawer forever so the tool bag doesn’t need to come out for every tiny fastening job.

4| Bit set for your drill/driver: We recommend a set with drill bits, every screwdriver bit you could imagine, and even hex head bits that will make assembling all of your new flat packed furniture a breeze.

5| Tool Bag: Choose something small and manageable here. We prefer a tool bag as opposed to a box because we find it easier to squeeze into limited storage spaces. (Our Big Bag O’ Tools lived under a kitchen cabinet for 7 years along side a compact miter saw when we lived in our condo!)

6| Fastener Organizer: A Grandpa Jar is great when you’re starting your tool kit, but we are strong proponents of sorting by category. At the beginning of your journey, save every extra fastener from every project. You’ll need them all eventually.

Building your tool library | via Yellow Brick Home

7| 24″ Level: From hanging artwork to tweaking adjustable legs on furniture, this tool has infinite uses to keep your home from looking like an M.C. Escher lithograph.

8| Platform step ladder: The top platform is a must have. Look for a model with tool storage and a hook to hold a paint bucket handle.

9| Adjustable wrench set: Because you’ll often need 2 wrenches at the same time, a 3 pack of varying sizes makes a lot of sense.

10| Plier set: This 4 pack offers a ton of value for the money. Quality needle-nose pliers alone will pay for themselves after one use.

11| Paint kit: Quality brushes and rollers will last quite awhile if properly cleaned and maintained. Start here and add/replace as necessary.

12| Paint roller extension handle: We’ve tried a handful of these and we always come back to the Sherlock. Don’t waste your money. Buy the Sherlock. Unless your ceilings are taller than 10 feet, the 2′ – 4′ extension should be more than long enough – and it’s much easier to store than the longer models.

Building your tool library | via Yellow Brick Home

13| Utility knife: A sharp knife is a safe knife. Utility knives utilize replaceable blades so your cutting edge is always on point. I’m not at all sorry for that dad joke.

14| Hex wrench multitool: The hex tools that come with flat pack furniture are usually cheap, soft metal and their use often results in cursing. An inexpensive multitool will help you curse less.

15| Blue tape: Blue painter’s tape is great for painting crisp edges when your hand isn’t as steady as Kim’s, who spent the better part a decade painting microscopic puppy eyeballs. Blue tape is also great for laying out the size and placement of rugs and furniture. Both uses are handy.

16| Joint/putty/spackle knife: This multi-purpose bad boy is designed to spread spackle, but we’ve also used it for scraping and gentle prying tasks. We’ve also never replaced the first one we ever bought.

17| Carpenter’s pencils: It might not seem necessary, but quality pencils are mandatory for any measuring or cutting task. Buy a few and they’ll last much longer than the time it will take for you to inevitably lose them.

18| Tape measure: Please, please, please do not skimp on your tape measure. Like your hammer and compact drill/driver above, you’ll use it for almost every project.

19| Razor blade scraper kit: The plastic ‘razor blades’ included in these kits are absolutely indispensable for scraping labels and paint off of delicate materials. The actual razor blades will remove delicate materials completely. Choose wisely.

Stage Two| Cosmetic Fixer-Upper

Your new home has great bones! The floorpan is excellent, but the features are a little worn and dated. You’re confident using all of the tools in Stage 1 and are ready to take on slightly larger challenges. Replacing bathroom fixtures, installing a new faucet and even building simple furniture like a picnic table are all possible with the tools in Stage Two. This stage is also where you’ll take the plunge and purchase tools that will form the core of your cordless power tool arsenal. You’re going to make big things happen in Stage Two.

53 tools to build your DIY library | via Yellow Brick Home

20| Compound miter saw: We’re jumping right into the big leagues. A solid compound miter saw is necessary for clean cuts on long boards. We’ve replaced every single inch of trim in both of our homes and we couldn’t have done it without a compound miter saw. If space allows, opt for a wheeled stand. Portability is key and the quicker you can set up and tear down your saw, the more likely you are to use it.

21| Scratch awl: Another one of those tools that you didn’t know you needed until you’ve found yourself using it constantly. We use ours to mark locations for hanging art as well as for intricate scraping tasks.

22| Quick clamps: Gluing, grasping, and cutting tasks are made simpler and safer when materials are held firmly in place. Quick clamps can be used with one hand, which is incredibly convenient. 

23| Caulk gun & caulk caps: Sealing and finishing work is much easier with a nice caulk gun. Save your unused caulk with caps.

24| 18v/20v combo tool kit: This kit will form the backbone of your ‘full-size’ tool kit. Most combo kits of this size will include a hammer drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw, and oscillating tool plus a flashlight or a bluetooth speaker etc. Be sure to watch the sales around summer holidays for big price cuts and ‘choose a free bonus tool’ promotions at the big box stores and online. Buy the kit that contains the right tools for your needs and add on bare tools from there.

25| Dremel kit: With the right attachment, a Dremel tool at the right speed will cut just about anything. 100% necessary. We prefer the cordless variety, because tricky projects that require a Dremel often take place far away from a power outlet for some reason.

53 tools to build your DIY library | via Yellow Brick Home

26| Full socket set: Buy the big kit all at once or be forever cursed by mis-matched sockets bouncing around in a bag like me. I’m asking you to be smarter than I was on this one.

27| Drill bit set: All of the drill bits. All of them. Except masonry bits. Those fall under the ‘specialty’ category.

28| Speed square: Because right angles are always correct. Another dad joke and I’m still not sorry.

29| Carpenter’s square: Great for framing and larger scale right angles.

30| Wire stripper/crimper: Anything with electrical connections is much more time-consuming without one. Ask me how I know.

31| Locking pliers: Handy for acting as a ‘third hand’ in tight spots and for awkward twisting tasks.

53 tools to build your DIY library | via Yellow Brick Home

32| Sturdy snips: Buy these before all of your other tools and use them to cut open those annoying molded plastic packages. Also great for their intended use of trimming sheet metal.

33| Full screwdriver set: The simple ratcheting multi-screwdriver moves into your junk drawer for quick jobs and this set lives in your big tool bag now.

34| Quality studfinder: We love this particular model because it scans deep into the walls of our Chicago home, which contain 130 years of mystery. You were expecting a dad joke, huh? Not this time.

35| 12″ pry bar: This model is called the ‘wonderbar’ for a reason. Incredibly handy for removing baseboards and other small prying tasks.

36| Folding sawhorses: Stash them in the corner of your garage until you need a solid cutting surface.

37| Nylon mini brush: This is basically an industrial-strength toothbrush. Handy for cleaning small parts and keeping your tools tidy.

53 tools to build your DIY library | via Yellow Brick Home

38| Tool bag: All of these tools need somewhere to live. This larger tool bag now becomes your go-to and the smaller bag from Stage 1 can be repurposed as a task-specific bag. My small bag now holds our drills and all of our specialty bits.

39| Random orbital sander: We’ve used this tool to refinish furniture and smooth out poorly painted surfaces. Pick up a multi-pack of sanding disks with a variety of grits while you’re at it.

40| Rubber mallet: Because sometimes things need a little ‘coaxing’.

41| Staple gun kit: Framing artwork and simple upholstery jobs are made much quicker with the right tools.

Stage 3| Full-On Fixer-Upper

So you’ve done what we did (twice) and bought the ugliest house on the block, huh? You’re ready for Stage Three! These are the tools we’ve come to rely on with our live-in, one room at a time renovations. We still rely on professional contractors for HVAC, plumbing, electrical and structural work, but these tools help us accomplish pretty much anything else!

53 tools to build your DIY library | via Yellow Brick Home

42| Air compressor/nailer kit: If you’re ready to tackle baseboards and trim molding, (or maybe you’d like to test your math skills and install some crown molding?) an air nailer can be your best friend. If air tools aren’t your thing, this would be a great time to add to your cordless kit with the this guy.

43| Nail setter set: Because every once in awhile, your nailer will misfire and you’ll need to set the head flush with the material. Seriously – please don’t buy a nailer without spending the extra ten bucks for nail setters.

44| File set: Sometimes a Dremel is too much. A file can also help keep your cutting tools sharpened.

45| Bench vise: We like the clamp-on style for the sake of portability, but if you’ve got a dedicated space, go all in and bolt a vise directly to your work surface.

46| Table Saw w/portable stand: Table saws are incredibly handy for accurate rip cuts. They’re also incredibly dangerous. Please, please, please use caution. Respect this tool. Seriously. Now that careful dad has said his peace, we absolutely love our table saw and couldn’t accomplish cabinet installs and finish work without it.

47| Right-angle drill: We didn’t know this tool even existed until we needed it. Now we can’t live without it. Drilling and fastening in tight spaces is a heck of a lot easier now.

53 tools to build your DIY library | via Yellow Brick Home

48| Jigsaw: Detail cuts are much quicker and more accurate with the correct blade on a jigsaw.

49| 48″ level: A long level is great for leveling across expanses greater than the 24″ that your Stage 1 level can span. Very helpful for kitchen installs and framing walls.

50| Drywall square: Accurate 48″ cuts on drywall can technically be made with a long level, but this tool keeps things clean and fast. We also clamp ours down and use it as a guide for long cuts with the circular saw.

51| Laser level: Leveling 180 degrees over multiple surfaces is nearly impossible without this tool. Don’t buy it until you need it – you’ll know when the time comes.

52| Chisel set: Necessary for installing handle and lock sets on brand new doors. Also handy for flush-mounting anything to a wood surface.

53| Hole saw set: Hole saws are great for cutting round holes that are too big for your drill bit set. Used semi-infrequently, but very handy.

We dug through our tool bags, checked the garage and opened every drawer we could think of to make sure everything made it on to the list, but surely we might’ve missed a tool or two? Chime in with any of your favorites below, so that we can all learn from one another. What tools are in your bag of tricks that you simply can’t live without?

PS: See how we organize our workshop in this post!

53 tools to build your DIY library | via Yellow Brick Home

Lucy Is 1!

Lucy turns 1! A gold and pink kids birthday party | via Yellow Brick Home

Lucy’s: high chair | boots

Lucy Sun is now a one year old. One! I’m an extremely nostalgic person (almost obnoxiously so, to the point where I can pinpoint exact dates, years and times of a memory by hearing a few notes on the radio or catching the scent of a passerby), and last month, I said to Scott, This is so weird, but I really miss Northwestern right now. Let me reiterate: I told Scott that I missed going to the hospital. Apparently used to my strange and random thoughts, he said, I’m not surprised. He clarified by reminding me that exactly one year ago, we were making the trek to Northwestern weekly, ensuring my good health and counting down the days until we would meet our baby girl. We made a ritual of our visits, usually grabbing a croissant and coffee in one of the hospital restaurants, and sometimes, we’d schedule my checkups around the lunch hour and make a downtown date out of it.

In the days leading up to Lucy’s birthday, the same thing happened again. I would reminisce on where I was – to the minute! – one year prior. Today, I was packing our hospital bag. I was going to jury duty. I was feeling a stomach pain. I was waking you up to tell you that today was the day. Here’s a fun fact: I was selected for jury duty the week that Lucy was born! The case lasted Monday through Wednesday, and Lucy gave me the first sign of her arrival on Thursday late night / Friday morning. Guys, I have fallen for our little girl so furiously, that I even kind of miss jury duty. Because even that  – even jury duty! – was a part of my journey to her birthday.

Lucy turns 1! A gold and pink kids birthday party | via Yellow Brick Home

Lucy is curious and kind. She enjoys dining out and running errands, and she’ll flirt with anyone nearby. Her attention span is too short for a book, but she’ll babble endlessly to her stuffies (this is her number one right now!) while reclining in her pint-sized rocking chair. She took her first steps a week before her birthday, but she refuses to do it again, preferring to crawl or furniture surf. She smiles with her whole face, scrunching her nose and squeezing her eyes tight (you can see this below!). She has the dreamiest belly laugh, and bath time is, hands down, her favorite. Our favorite is the morning, when we scoop her out of her crib and lay her in our bed. We spend the first 20 minutes of every day squeezing her thighs and making her squeal! She rolls under the covers and plays peek-a-boo with the sheets, pausing only to give herself a round of applause.

Everyone that told us it only gets better has been right, and yet, I still cried on her birthday.

Lucy turns 1! A gold and pink kids birthday party | via Yellow Brick HomeLucy turns 1! A gold and pink kids birthday party | via Yellow Brick Home

We spent that day with our closest friends and family, a celebration planted firmly in-between her morning and afternoon naps. It was chaotic! And loud! And frenzied! But more than anything, it was really the best day. We peppered the first floor ceiling with white, pink and gold balloons, and we ordered a (ridiculously large) confetti cake from our favorite bakery. We created an upbeat playlist for the party, but it was drowned out by good conversation and the excited screams of the neighborhood kids chasing one another. Lucy had her first taste of pure, unadulterated sugar, and she absolutely loved it. She is her mother’s daughter!

Lucy turns 1! A gold and pink kids birthday party | via Yellow Brick HomeLucy turns 1! A gold and pink kids birthday party | via Yellow Brick HomeLucy turns 1! A gold and pink kids birthday party | via Yellow Brick HomeLucy turns 1! A gold and pink kids birthday party | via Yellow Brick Home

We snapped her 52 week instant pic on Friday, putting a wrap on her one year of weekly photos! If you’ve been brainstorming a fun and (super duper) easy photo idea to document the growth of your own littles, we can’t recommend this method enough! I just set a weekly recurring reminder in my phone, and there was never any pressure to find the same backdrop, blanket or accessory. We’d lay her on the floor or hold her hands up to stand, and for consistency, Scott wrote the week on every photo. Moving forward, we’ll switch to monthly, and perhaps yearly once she turns 2? (But let’s not talk about turning 2 today, okay?) It’s so fun to sift through the weeks, and we’re constantly changing our tune on our ‘favorite.’ Week 22? 26? 38? We hope Lucy will enjoy looking back on this fun project, too.

Of course, I’m a camera happy mom that also has close to 2,000 photos shot on my DSLR, and I cannot wait to dive into those, choose favorites and put a proper system in place for documenting Lucy, our pups, Libby and this family as a whole. Would anyone be interested in a post on how we organize digital photos and our ideas and methods for printing and displaying?

I’m sharing this moment in time because our lives have been forever changed by one sweet Lucy Sun, including how we live in our home, what we bring into our home and every decision we make. This post is a celebration of the joy that Lucy brings to us, our family and friends that might as well be family.


I can not, will not end this post without offering all of my love to anyone who is in that sad, frustrating, infuriating position I was in just a few years ago, a time that I remember as raw and real as if it were last week. I shared only the smallest glimpse into our infertility journey on the same day that we announced the best news of our lives, yet your response was proof that this is a community that thrives on love and support. Since that day, I have continued to hear from you. Our own experience has made us sensitive to what and how much Lucy we share, because the very last thing I would want you to feel is grief. Instead, my hope is this: I need you to know that I can continue to be your sounding board, and I will share with you as little or as much as you need to get you through a time that can feel utterly hopeless. I’m one email away. I can be your coffee + commiseration friend.

Party photos via our friend Renee @ Gooch Too.

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The Weekender

Neutral living room, light wood tones and leather, Benjamin Moore Intense White walls | via Yellow Brick Home

sectional | coffee table | chair | pouf | lamp | velvet pillows | vintage rug (similar)

For the last two years, we’ve been on the hunt for a different television console. We enjoyed the one we had just fine, but after modifying it, painting it and then finally saying goodbye to our navy sofa, the room started to feel so one-note. White, cream, ivory, soft gray and putty – it was like fifty shades of white. We considered giving it a whole new color, but what we were really craving was something wood toned. Something in the same family as our coffee table. We still wanted the room to feel light, bright and layered, and although it would have been fun to choose a punchy color, we feared we’d grow tired of it quickly. (Colors we considered: pink, plum, forest green or matte black. We were all over the place!)

And then Scott remembered this credenza from At Home. We stumbled across it during this whirlwind porch makeover, and we actually ended up purchasing the smaller version for our studio refresh! Of course, many months had since passed, and because At Home has all their inventory on the floor, we weren’t holding our breath – but! You guys! They still had one! One. We have plans to swap out the legs for something lower, but we are so happy we nixed the idea of a bold splash of color for something that felt better suited to our style today. For the first time in a long time, we feel truly happy with this room. It invites us in. It makes us smile. It felt like putting the last piece of our living room puzzle together.

What Else?

 With the new credenza, I caved on a new television. Recently, I shared Scott wall mounting it on Instagram Stories, and I was immediately flooded with questions on our TV + mount combo. We bought this 4K smart Samsung during an insane sale (less than currently listed!) and paired it with this mount. The mount is so, so thin, and the television only floats 3/4″ away from the wall. Our former TV was on a swing arm mount, which pushed it 6-7″ away from the wall, and because we rarely (if ever?) utilized the swing arm function, we gave it up for the sleekest option we could find. Scott is in love with the new 4K television and raves about the quality of, well, everything. I’m, um, nodding politely and pretending to notice the big difference.

 In a complete change of topic, have you ever been through a friend breakup? They can be so painful, but often times, it can be for the best – even if the ripples can still be felt years later. This resonated with me so hard, and I only regret that it took me 30 years of my life to learn this.

 Are you watching Tidying Up? (Aren’t we all?!) Marie Kondo is every bit as adorable as I envisioned her to be, but I’m only sad that the show seems to gloss over many of the principles in her book. Get the book (if it’s not already on your bedside table!) for a deep dive into the KonMari method, but if that’s so not your thing, the Netflix series still sparks joy, too. Here’s the trailer:

 After talking with you through Stories, so many of you have asked about my eyeliner! I actually create a cat eye with two products. I start with this one to draw my line – I like it thicker – and then I fill it in with this. The latter takes a while to get the hang of, but it’s heavy duty and doesn’t budge all day even with tears or rain (and I’ve put it through both!). It takes makeup remover to get it all off. I use this one.

Makes me smile, laugh, cry. It’s always a tie between this baby and the Dodo for a midday pick-me-up.

 Scott’s family introduced us to this addicting game over the holidays, and we were instantly hooked. It’s like Tetris, board game style.

I’ve shared this so many times, because it’s too good not to: My favorite parka is on final sale right now, and it’s worth every cent! It’s incredibly warm without being puffy; I often times only wear a t-shirt underneath it. In Chicago! For reference, the petite was too short on me, and I’m 5’4″. The XS in regular fits me like a glove. (I have olive, but the red is adorable, too!)

This weekend, we’ll be celebrating Lucy. She’s turning 1 tomorrow, and yes, I’ve already cried about it! We ordered balloons and a cake and a big lunch for our closest friends and family, and we splurged on the cutest pair of teeny, tiny Docs for her. I had a pang of guilt during checkout (she’ll only wear these for, like, a month!, I thought), but I brushed that aside, because this sweet goose only turns one year old once. #noregrets

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