Monday, August 30, 2010

Maura's Dining Room Makeover!

Hey friends!

Hope everyone is having a fab week! I am so excited to share today's post with y'all! This is an amazing reno!

My sweet friend, Maura (who also runs the FAB blog 365 Atlanta, where she highlights events and places in and around Atlanta - CHECK IT OUT) agreed to let me showcase her gorgeous Dining Room transformation.

So in Maura's words:

My husband and I live in a Cape Cod-style cottage in Johns Creek. Our style is informal, cottage-y, eclectic. Our dining room was very chic and 1987. After 4 years of living with it in favor of tackling other, larger projects in the house (new roof, new kitchen, back porch/patio/retaining wall/garden, etc.) we finally couldn't stand it anymore. 1987 had to go.

The main issues in the room were: metallic gold faux-finish treatment on the walls; wimpy chair rail and crown moulding, courtesy of a lazy builder; and ugly, outdated window treatments that were (yep, you guessed it) more shades of metallic gold and bronze. In other words - not at all appropriate for our little Cape Cod and not at all appropriate for the new millennium. The only good thing was the chandelier, which I bought at Ballard's Outlet for a whopping $70.00 (regular price: $400.00).

First, we removed the chair rail and baseboards, which were standard builder-style. Unfortunately, the builder had used both nails and liquid nails to affix them to the walls, so we damaged the walls a bit during the removal process, but thankfully, we have really great painters who are aces at fixing that kind of thing! All of the wood we installed to create the new moulding was purchased pre-primed, since we planned to paint it all white anyway - saved our painters a step! Using 1x4s we installed new baseboards, to give it a cleaner, more Craftsman-style look.

Then we cut 1x4s into 4.5-foot tall pieces and began installing them at 16" intervals all around the room (we had worked out the math ahead of time to make sure it would work evenly around the room). Each corner got a double board in order to anchor the room. On top of the verticals, we put up 1x6s all around the room, on which we installed the shelf, all the way around. The shelf, made of 1x4s sitting atop standard casing (look in the crown moulding aisle at your local Home Depot or Lowe's and there are a number of options to choose from. Casing is simpler to use than crown moulding, which would also work but would require more intricate cuts. Additionally, casing is substantially less expensive than crown moulding, making it an even more attractive choice!).

We also beefed up the existing crown moulding by dropping down two inches and adding a row of base cap (also found int he crown moulding aisle at your local home improvement store) all the way around. Our painters painted the existing crown, the two inch space of wall and the base cap glossy white to create the illusion of a of more substantial crown moulding, which balances the room better, especially now with the heavier new moulding/paneling on the bottom.

In one of the "During" photos, you can see our paint chips, taped to the walls all around the room in our attempt to find the perfect shade of chocolate brown for the finished product. (Notice, too, in the "Before" photo with the piano, the delicious shade of sea foam green that was just one other ill-informed color choice for this poor dining room.)

We settled on a Behr paint color from Home Depot, with the incredibly original name of "Traditional." Our painters used Eggshell paint for the brown, and a glossy, oil-based true white to match the rest of the moulding in our house and to really set off the chocolate brown. The result (in my humble opinion) is a classic semi-formal dining room, appropriate for our Cape Cod-style cottage. It can be dressed up for holidays, but is not too stuffy.

Here's the skinny: the cost of the lumber and other materials was around $300. Our painters repaired the walls, caulked all of the woodwork and nail holes and painted for around $350. For substantially less than we would have paid a trim carpenter to create the room for us, and it was surprisingly easy. The most difficult part was the measuring (once, twice, three times) to accurately space the vertical boards and purchase the right amount of lumber and make the best use of it without too much waste.

Our job was made much easier by borrowing a friend's compound mitre saw and nail gun and compressor; however, a hand saw and mitre saw could have been used with a bit more muscle required and we did use a traditional hammer for much of the project, until we got to the shelf installation and crown moulding.

All in all, it was a relatively simple transformation that looks much more difficult and impressive than it really was! With a little planning you can completely change your space...and amaze your friends!

Maura Neill is a REALTOR in Atlanta and a DIY-enthusiast (a.k.a. cheapskate. Why pay someone else to do what you can do yourself?). She is also the Founder and Editor of, your guide to the best things to do in Atlanta, one day at a time. She lives in her adorable Cape Cod with her husband, Ben, their three crazy cats, and Charlie the Wonder Beagle.

Thank you so much, Maura for letting us sneak a peek in your home! That is quite the transformation! You and Ben make a great team!

As always, if you have a project that you would like to share or a suggestion for the blog or my home renovations, please feel free to email me at

Hope ya'll enjoy the rest of the week!


Brandi Nell

Thursday, August 26, 2010

From Brassy to Sassy!

Hi Friends!

Whew! What a crazy week! This is my busiest time of year at work and things really won't slow down until November - so please bare with me.

I really hope you enjoyed Katie's home makeover last week! It so fun to get a sneak peek into the homes of others - I would love to share yours here as well!

Okay - so today's project may not be to every one's taste, but I think it turned out super cute!

The hubs and I have been starting to plan the overhaul for what will become my office/sewing/craft area. I am so excited about what we are planning and cannot WAIT to get started on it... but with work being insane, we can't dive in until after September.
So, instead - I will begin working on small projects that will go in the room that will make a BIG impact when we finally get to work in there.

We knew we wanted to change the light fixture in the room, but with slanted ceilings and two skylights, I was limited in what I could put in the room. I knew I wanted a chandelier or a pendent light - but something unique and fun (in an office/sewing/craft area, I want to be INSPIRED, not bored).

So we found this old brass and ceramic chandelier at Goodwill (for a steal at $11)and decided that we could transform something old and dated into something bold and fabulous.

I loved the cracked look of the ceramic and decided to keep it.

So we taped everything off that we didn't want painted.
Then we cleaned the brass, lightly sanded the brass, then cleaned it one more time. Once we had a good, clean surface - we began the spray painting... Isn't the bold red so fun? Don't forget to paint the hanging chain!

We let the paint dry for 24 hours then removed the tape, and voila! What was Brassy, is now Super Sassy!

I think this chandy will look fab in my workspace, especially with the Mexican tile floors that are already in there.

I still have to find some cute shades and hang her. But that will come in good time!

Hope you guys have a fab week! I would love to know what you think about the new Chandelier, so feel free to comment below! And don't forget, if you are working on a project (big or small), I would love to see it or maybe even feature it here. Just send it to me at Talk soon, friends!


Brandi Nell

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Home Makeover - Katie and JM Edition

Hi Friends!

Well this has not been the best week for the Wigley Household so far... We discovered on Sunday night that our air conditioning unit's drain line was clogged, causing a minor flood which got under our brand new floors in our bedroom. WHY OH WHY could this have not happened six months ago when we had the hideous carpet in there?!?!?

At 2am on Sunday Night/Monday Morning, we got the idea to go and get kitty litter to pour all over the floors to draw the water out from under the flooring. (Want a funny visual? Imagine me and the hubs standing around in our PJ's and staring at piles of kitty litter all over our floor at 3am) We probably won't know how much damage was done for a couple of days. Oh, the joys of home ownership. Needless to say, I haven't been able to work on any projects this week.

On to a happier note, I wanted to share our friends (in real life and the blog world) Katie and JM's beautiful home. Katie has a super cute blog where she shares details of planning her wedding, attending 10 other weddings, and remodeling her home... makes your head spin, right?

While Katie's fiance, JM was away for the weekend, she and her family did an OVERHAUL of their home.

Before. Doesn't this room scream BACHELOR PAD!!! Its hard not to notice the GIANT Flag and Pool Table.

AFTER... Beautiful Formal Living Room! (NOTE: All of the chairs will be recovered by Katie's talented Mother-In-Law)

BEFORE Eat In Kitchen

AFTER... BEAUTIFUL Kitchen!!!! I am loving the new chandelier!

Before... Bright Blue Dining Room. (Katie - I am totally loving the Pie Safe! Where is this piece now?)

AFTER... New Dining Room! Brighter, lighter, and makes the space seem so much bigger!

BEFORE: Old Entry

AFTER... NEW Foyer.. SO much more inviting don't you think???

WOW! Can you believe she and her family did that in ONE weekend?! What a nice surprise for JM to come home to (hubs, don't get any ideas).

Katie, thanks so much for letting me share these great projects!

If you have a project you want to share, please email it to me at

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week and please cross your fingers for my floors :) Talk soon, friends!


Brandi Nell

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Cornice Boards for the Bedroom!

Hey Friends!

If you are coming over from Pinterest, YAY!  I am so glad you found my little corner of the interwebs. I do hope you will stay a while!  Feel free to email me with any questions.  Just click on the email icon above my picture on the right! I'd love to hear from you. xoxo

We have been so busy lately! Between work, mini vacations, and upcoming wedding festivities - we have barely had time to do anything on the house. I have been giving the hubs a hard time about getting some projects done... finally last night we started working on the window treatments for the bedroom... cornice boards.

We did a cornice board for the bathroom last year and I loved the way it turned out.

Ever since we finished this one, I have been itching to do more. I have been needing two for our bedroom. A few people have asked me how to do them. They are super easy.

So here we go!

The windows looked SO naked.

First I went and picked out my fabric at Forsyth Fabrics. If you live in Atlanta, or anywhere near Georgia - you NEED to go here. It was like fabric heaven (thanks Colleen for introducing me). They had so many great choices, it was really hard to pick one. But, ultimately I decided on this gorgeous fabric.

It goes so well with my quilted bedding!

Okay so here is what you need:

1. Fabric - for two small windows, I only needed 1.5 yards
2. Batting
3. Wood for boards (front and two sides - and a piece to use as a cleat on the back)
4. Glue Gun
5. Staple Gun and Staples
6. Scissors
7. Trim (if you want) - For these two small windows, I used six yards
8. Measuring tape :)
9. Screws (Smaller than the thickness of your boards)
10. Nails
11. Hammer
12. L Brackets or Simpson Strong Ties (like these) - 4 per window

Okay, so measure your windows. You need to figure out how long you want your board to be, how tall you want it to be, and how far OUT you want it to stick out.

NOTE: You will need to cut THREE board pieces: two side pieces (determined by how tall and how far out you want the cornice board to be) and then the front (determined by how long and tall you want the cornice board to be). I covered each piece individually and then later attached them together with brackets.

You will first need to cover each board with batting. Be sure to stretch the batting tightly and have no lumps. Wrap the corners like a present. Keep this as clean and "lump-free" as possible.

Now that you have the piece covered in batting, its time to cover it in fabric! Just as you make the batting look neat, do the same (but even more carefully) with the fabric.

Remember that cleat I told you about? Here is a pic to show you what it looks like. Its attached to the BACK of the main piece. We nailed it into place, shooting the nail from the front through to the wood cleat (to make sure there is no nail sticking out of the fabric in the finished product).

The cleat is about an inch lower than the top of the "front board," giving you room to wrap and attach the fabric.

Wrap the two boards the exact same way you did the first one.

Now, its time to attach the boards together. You are going to use ONE Simpson Strong Ties to attach the side of the board to the front. Make sure to mark where you want the screws to go.

Then screw the two together using the Simpson Strong Tie. You MAY have to cut some of the fabric away if it is in the way of your Strong Tie.

Do the exact same thing to the other side Once the two side pieces are attached to the front, you can add trim if you wish :) I simply used a glue gun to attach trim to the bottom and top.

To hang your cornice board, you will use 2 more Simpson Strong Ties and screw them directly into the wall. You will screw the other sides of the Simpson Strong Ties into the cleat you have on the back of your "front board."

*Side note: The hubs is not wearing a shirt at this point. OSHA would not approve, and I didn't think you would either (or maybe you would?) so I have cropped out his buffness.

Now, you can stand back and admire your work!!!

Okay, so you know how I told you that you can custom order them online for $185/piece ++ ? Well, this one only cost us:

$15 in Fabric
$10 for batting and trim
$10 for hardware
Wood - FREE (scrap wood from previous projects)

Grand total for TWO windows = $35.00

And we didn't have to wait weeks, we did these in two hours. Gotta love some DIY!

As always, I welcome questions and comments. Please let me know if you are working on something you would like to share! Talk soon, friends!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

YAY! We are today's DIY Show Off Feature!!

Hey y'all!!

The DIY Show Off

I'm honored and humbled to have been chosen as today's Feature at The DIY Show Off!! If you are popping over from The DIY Show Off, welcome to Brandi Nell the Southern Belle!! We are so happy you popped over! Here you can follow "the hubs" and I in our adventures in "fixin' up our home." We have tons of fun (and tons of fights) working on the house. It is definitley a labor of love. Click here to read more about our home and about the blog!

Thanks so much to my old friends - you guys have been so supportive... and I appreciate your comments and suggestions and of course the laughs. For all of you new visitors, I hope that you'll become a friend and visit often! Don't forget to send me links to YOUR blogs as well!

AND thank you to Roeshel at DIY Show Off! You definitely made my week!!

Looking forward to making new friends and reading new comments! If you have a project you would like to share with me, please email them to me at

Talk soon friends!

Brandi Nell

Monday, August 2, 2010

Once again... I have to apologize

Hey friends!

I hope you all had a great weekend! Once again, I find myself apologizing for being a "bad blogger." I have been out of town for the past week taking classes for work.

I will be back to blogging soon - I pinky swear.

Have a good week!

Brandi Nell