Keys are for Suckers | Smart Lock Upgrade

Time for a small confession: I don't like change. I'm one of those 'if it ain't broken, don't fix it types. I was one of the last people to get a cell phone, I don't gravitate toward gadgets or tech innovation and I don't like watching television on my computer. I could give you a longer list but let's just say, I'm part Amish. So when it comes to implementing technological advances in my home, I usually shy away. Not so shocking when you think of my love of old homes and vintage furniture I suppose - the old way can sometimes be the better way. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong generation!

But there are some rare cases of a truly better mousetrap. It just takes one little crack in the facade to see the light.  Case in point, we installed the Schlage Sense deadbolt at our shore place and I am.in.love.

Keyless Lock


I had been thinking of replacing our standard deadbolt with a keyless deadbolt for years but now we have finally done it, it's such a huge convenience. The advantages are many - especially in a vacation home.
  • No longer having to carry a key to the beach preventing the whole "hide the key in a shoe" game. Nope, criminals will never figure out our genius hiding place!
  • Never having to make a copy of a key again. Sorry local hardware store.
  • Being able to give friends and family their own unique codes (and being able to turn them on and off at will)
  • Being able to give temporary codes as needed to the occasional plumber or condo inspection
  • Never being locked out again because you forgot your key (no, that never happens to me - my mind is a steel trap!)
  • Schlage Sense has a keyed option (although I don't plan on ever using that - keys are for suckers)

Schlage Sense Keyless Deadbolt
schlagesensedeadboltpackageandaction

So what took me so long? Well, I was worried it would be difficult to install (I was wrong - it installed with a screwdriver), I was worried it wouldn't be secure (wrong again - it meets the highest industry rating for security), I was concerned it wouldn't work with our less than stellar Wi-Fi signal (no issue here because it uses Bluetooth, not Wi-Fi). So essentially I was worried about absolutely nothing and I'm so pleased I got over my fears and went ahead and joined the modern age.

Schlage Sense Keyless Lock Set

What about you?  Does new technology scare you off or peak your interest?


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Schlage. The opinions and text are all mine.


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Small Space, Big Style Bathroom Makeover

A builder's basic bathroom gets a fresh facelift with shiplap, graphic black and white tiles and and a few industrial accents.

Ready for another impressive before an after? I shared a friend's living and dining transformation last week that just took a little bit of shopping to accomplish. This makeover involved just a tiny bit more work but it's so worth it!

black and white bathroom renovation

Let's take a look at the before. Perfectly functional but needed a style upgrade.

She kept the toilet and the pedestal and put most of her hard work/budget into the floors and the walls. She added texture by planking all 4 walls and painting a bright white. (She used birch plywood sheets in place of traditional shiplap but it looks just as good as the real deal) Then she added contrast with this cement tile like ceramic floor that is a total showstopper. All of that white is totally grounded by the black pattern.

New lighting was key because this bathroom gets no natural light. A new round mirror really softened all the hard edges in this space. Finally she made some decorative swaps with the mirror, towel wrack and shelves. My jellyfish print was the perfect finishing touch if I do say so myself!






I totally love what she did - fresh and updated and making the most of the small space. What do you think?


Living / Dining Room Makeover

This builder grade living and dining room gets a stylish makeover with some key decorative changes.



It will not surprise you that I absolutely love to help friend's decorate their homes.  All the fun and none of the expense - what could be finer?  I can be a little bit ruthless in my quest to get rid of the less desirable but it's all for the greater design good.  So when a friend moved into her less than 20 year old home, naturally I had lots of suggestions.

Let's start with the before photos:


While I couldn't convince her to do anything drastic (I was really pulling for a black dining room but she wouldn't go for it), I think the change is pretty dramatic.  Just goes to show you how much the right furniture arrangement can change the look and feel of a room.


The fireplace surround was a pretty garish green marble but the cost to replace it would have been considerable so instead she painted it using a dark grey chalk paint.  I wasn't sure if was going to work but it looks amazing! The chalk paint's flat finish mimics a dark stone perfectly -  you would never guess it was painted marble.




Despite not having the right spot for that lovely bar cart, I can enjoy it vicariously through her dining room.  And she scored huge by finding the table and sidechairs on super sale at a furniture outlet.

I love how clean and updated it feels even though there was no construction required (the joys of a newish home!) What do you think of the before and after?

Both rooms are painted in Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter. Links to the specific or similar items found in the rooms can be found below.


The BEST backyard trees for privacy

Looking for a landscaping solution to an ugly view?  These foolproof trees have delivered!The Best Backyard Tree for Privacy

This is a post I've been meaning to write for years but somehow never got around to it.  Do not adjust your dials - I'm still the black thumbed blogger you have known all along but I wanted to share this little planting secret that I'm still impressed by all these years later.

My backyard is tiny and the back of our house faces a rather unattractive view.  This is a pretty common problem here so I figured there wasn't much we could do except plant a few trees and hope they grow high enough to make the view more tolerable.  Unlike other decorative topics, it's hard to find much on the internet about how high plants will grow in confined spaces so we were at a loss. So we turned to our friend (who was also a wonderful landscaper) for some help.  Aside from privacy, we needed plants that would have a small footprint and be hard to kill as I had a knack for murdering anything with roots.

Here is what it looks like now:

Here is what it looked like the day they were planted:


He selected Leland Cypress trees, serpentine Cypress trees, 1 red maple and a few other ornamental plants (that have since been crowded out).  If you would have told me that those plants would not only grow to hide the ugly view quickly but also thrive with absolutely NO involvement on my part, I wouldn't have believed you but they did!  Not only that but they don't shed their foliage during the winter so they create a privacy hedge all year round.



It has been almost ten years now (although it took much less time than that for them to grow to full height - they were hiding the view in just a couple of years from planting) and they are still going strong. In that time I've killed countless other plants in this backyard - my record is mostly unblemished! So I can only say these are somewhat magical trees that have survived a plant serial killer.

All this to say, if you are an urban gardener who is short on space and don't have a clue what to plant, you are very welcome!





DIY Tiki Bar

Build a basic tiki bar for your next backyard luau with these easy to follow instructions.


Somehow Oscar is turning one next week and we wanted to make sure to mark the occasion in a way that would fun for the adults and the kids. A backyard luau is something we have never done before so we went with it.  In addition to the grass skirts and flower leis, I wanted to build a basic tiki bar to add to the charm. I made this one small enough for our back deck but you could adjust to any size.


I wanted to make something quick (I made this during baby naps over 1 24 hour period), easy (no special tools required) and reasonably cheap.   This was my solution and I think it looks appropriately Gilligan's Island. I also plan on reusing it for this year's Halloween display so doubly useful for me.  If you wanted to create something that would withstand the elements for longer and/or looked less rustic, you could use cedar which withstands moisture and rot but I just used the cheapest lumber I could find.

Materials used: 13 1x4 cut into 35 inch lengths, 2 1x2 cut into 29 inch lengths, 6 1x2s cut into 13 inch lengths, 1 16x36 inch wood piece for the top, 2 29.5x13 wood pieces for the shelves, wood screws, stain or paint

Build the Tiki Bar

  • Line up 9 of the 35 inch pieces edge to edge. Screw together using 1x2s.  Place those pieces where you want your shelves to sit. I have them at 13 and 21 inches from the bottom. This will make the front of the tiki bar.
  • Line up 4 of the 35 inch pieces edge to edge, screw together using 1x2.  Repeat.  This will make the left and right side of the tiki bar.
  • Screw the left and right sides to the face by abutting the short edge to the back of the long edge.
  • Screw in the 1x2s to the underside of the top.  Screw in at right and left for extra hold.
  • Place the shelves on the 1x2s support
  • Stain or paint as desired. I used a mix of brown paint and MinWax Coastal Grey stain.
  • Optional: use scrap wood to create Tiki Bar sign hanging from the counter

The only tools you need are something to cut the wood with (or get your local hardware store to do it for you) and a drill.  It came together pretty easily and has a lot of rustic charm perfect for a luau display.


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