Twenty Favs of Twenty-Thirteen

2013 has been quite the year. It began with a book tour, mid-pointed with us moving into a new house, and ended with us finding out that we have a baby boy on the way. And in between there have been lots of projects, announcements, transformations, and other good stuff. So we thought we’d make our last post of the year a look back at our 20 favorites – from makeovers to personal moments – of the last 12 months. We fell off the “monthly superlative” train somewhere around our move, so we’re well overdue for a little retrospective anyways (cue the slow jazz). So here we go, in no particular order…

#1 – Refacing Our Old Fireplace: Perhaps one of the things we miss most about our old house is fireplace and its total facelift. We marble-tiled the surround (including our first stab at herringbone) and constructed, trimmed out, and painted a whole new surround. More on that here, here, here, and here.

#2 – Clara’s Cheery Big Girl Room: I think we’d all vote that our favorite space in our new house is Clara’s room, where we’ve had fun with a soft pink ceiling, some chunky crown molding, colorful raindrops & a rose-colored door, no more crib, and a wall o’ fun.

#3 – Our Much-Nicer-For-Now Graphic Master Bath: The stenciled subfloor in the sink nook off of our master bedroom is SUCH an upgrade from the old worn carpeting that used to be there – and it was such a cheap solution. We’ve also ripped up that old carpeting, painted the walls/trim, hung a nice big window-ish mirror, and updated the vanity by adding shelves and new hardware along with refinishing it.

#4 – The Pergola, Er, Cargola: The pergola we built on our carport (hence, the “cargola”) fulfilled our lifelong dream of having a pergola. Okay, maybe lifelong is a stretch, but having constructed it from scratch (even building those brackets) gives us quite the confidence boost for someday adding one above our double garage at this house. You can read about the entire process here and here.

#5 – An Imperfectly Perfect Painted Pillow: It’s not what she initially envisioned, but we ended up loving the bleed-tastic outcome of this colorful painted pillow that Sherry stenciled using a metal screen and some sponged-on craft paint.

#6 – Striped Stair Makeover: It was plenty satisfying to finally rip up the old carpet on our stairs, but we’re so glad we didn’t stop there. Instead, we painted lots of blue trim and bannister posts white, also went white with the stair risers, painted the stairway walls and ceilings a light gray-tan color, and stained the railing a dramatic dark tone that picked up on the new black & white runner that we installed. More on that here, here, and here.

#7 – Simple Frames For John’s Favorite Art: Although we haven’t found a new home for them yet (maybe the nursery or the office?), I loved creating these super simple wood frames for my big bike posters when they hung in our old sunroom. And they were only $7 each!

#8 – Spreading Cheer at The Children’s Hospital: How could we not include this? The most rewarding project we took on this year – heck, this decade – was doing a holiday makeover for a family waiting room at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. You can read more about that process here, here, and here.

#9 – Celebrating Our Little Dragon: We didn’t think we could top the fun of Clara’s worm-themed 2nd birthday, but celebrating Clara’s third birthday with dragons was a heckova good time. Speaking of which, someone’s already talking about her 4th birthday, and she came up with the idea of “a gold party” all on her own. So far she wants to wear a gold dress, serve gold food, and give out gold coins to everyone while they get their faces painted gold… should be interesting to see how this evolves over the next five months.

#10 – Making Over Our New Deck & Sunroom: We can’t wait for winter to ease on outta here so we can get back to enjoying the outdoor spaces that we spent so much of this year transforming. From patching, stripping and restaining the deck to completely overhauling the formerly closed-in sunroom (lofted ceiling! tiled floor!) we’re ready to kick of Spring out there already. You can read more about the deck makeover here, here, and here. And check out the sunroom reveal (with links back to each stage of that undertaking here).

#11 – Dropping Our First Single: I just watched this again and half-laughed, half-buried-my-face. We are SUCH BIG NERDS. But hey, it’s all in the name of some good fun & foolishness (pun intended).

#12 – Upgrading Our Vacation Jars: This easy update to our little vacation time capsules – which up until now had been housed in mason jars – breathed some much needed life into one of our favorite projects of yore. It was nice and simple – and now we’ve got an even bigger collection of these personal “travel snow globes” of sorts.

#13 – Hardwood Floor-ifying The Upstairs: This almost didn’t make the list because the process was far from my favorite time of the year. But ripping up the carpets in our upstairs to install new hardwood floors (and painting all of the doors and trim) was certainly well worth it. You can read more on that process here, here, here, and here.

#14 – Taking On A Showhouse: Accepting the challenge of helping to design an entire house for the 2014 Richmond Homearama (to benefit Habitat For Humanity) has been both exciting and more than a little intimidating. Over the last month we’ve transitioned from the planning stage to full on let’s-get-this-thing-built-and-finished mode. It’s been a bit hectic lately, so we totally owe you an update (beyond just what’s been showing up on Instagram). The house is now framed, sheetrock is going up next week, and one of our favorite elements – the exposed wood porch detail (made from reclaimed wood) – is coming together right before our eyes.

#15 – Our $51 Guest Bath Update: Embracing the vintage-y feeling of our old guest bathroom, meant sprucing it up with simple (and extra budget friendly) ideas and accessories. First we painted the walls, tended to the window, and then added art and accessories. I’m not sure we’re ready to start putting yellow tile in anywhere voluntarily, but it was undeniably charming in the end. We actually kind of miss it!

#16 – Clara’s Jellyfish Costume: In our second year not doing a store-bought costume, Clara threw Sherry a curveball with a request for a jellyfish fairy/princess/queen (depending on the day). But with an umbrella, some pretty dangly things and a string of LED lights, we had one happy jellyfish on our hands.

#17 – Cheap & Easy Hallway Upgrade: Another project from the last house that we’ve earmarked for this house is hallway board & batten (although I’m sure it will evolve for this space – maybe in a chunkier and more detailed way). This hallway update cost us less than $60 and was something the new buyers loved during their first tour, so we’re so glad we got ‘er done. You can read more about the process here and here.

#18 – Interviewing Jonathan Adler: Put a line through this on Sherry’s bucket list: she talked with one of her design idols, Jonathan Adler. And we got all of her extra-gushiness on tape to prove it. If you missed it before, here’s her giddy interview below:

#19 – Finalizing Our Curb Appeal: In addition to the aforementioned pergola, we also stepped up our front exterior by boxing out the porch columns to make them match the chunky columns that were already on our carport (more on that process here and here), painting the siding for contrast, and even adding some window boxes.

#20 – Announcing The Barnacle: And of course, we can’t make a list of favorite things in 2013 without including a nod to what will surely be the highlight of 2014: the new baby boy (er, “bun” if ask Sherry, “barnacle” if you ask Clara) that we’re expecting in April. Which reminds us, it’s just about time to start working on that nursery!

And of course, a big reason that these moments are our favorites is because we get to share them with you guys. So a big thanks for being part of our 2013. We can’t wait to continue this wild ride with you guys in the big ‘1-4. Sherry’s currently going through 10,000 photos and writing a big tutorial about Clara’s homemade Christmas gift, so we’ll be back with those details on the 2nd! Haaaappy New Year to you and yours!

Now it’s your turn. What’s topping your list of favorite life moments / house projects / rapping attempts of the past year? Is there anything in particular that you’re excited for in 2014?


  1. Chez says

    A bit of a heavy response, but I just wanted to say thank you for your blog. I am going through some very difficult life circumstances right now as well as some medical problems, and your blog provides a moment of distraction, levity, and smiles every day. What you are doing is making a difference- so thank you. I am hopeful for a better 2014.

    • Heather says

      I would love to get your opinion on adding board & batton to our house. We are adding a small mudroon in the future, and I thought board & batton with hooks would be perfect for the space. The problem is we have wood trim throughout our house. Do you think it would look funny to have one room with white trim and board & batton? Thanks for your opinion!

    • says

      No way, I think that would be sweet! I love a mix (wood floors with white trim, white trim in some rooms with wood trim in others, etc) so I think it can totally work!


  2. Erin Kann says

    Love the favorites of 2013! So I have to ask, which sushi restaurant will it be for tonight? Hope you guys have a happy new year!

  3. Liz O says

    Popping out my baby girl is definitely #1 on my list! Thanks to you guys for a great year of blogging! It helps me get through my workdays :)

  4. Vanessa says

    Thank YOU guys for this blog! I love seeing all the changes and my husband has now gone from groaning to “okay, bring it on” when I mention “that one home blog with the adorable little girl that reminds me of our little blondey”!

    Our biggest project we did was redoing the flooring and all trim in our entryway from ugly maple laminate and golden oak builder-grade trim (not to mention three different colored doors) to dark hand-scraped-look laminate and WHITE doors and beefy trim everywhere! Definitely inspired by you guys!

    Now to have the husband read and reread your cabinet painting posts. We have a golden oak kitchen and mauve laminate countertops to tackle this summer… :)

  5. Lisa E says

    I remain amazed at your energy and ambition. Can you please bottle that and send some my way? :D Seriously, you guys rock. All the best with a soon to be, new family addition. Have a blessed, safe and Happy New Year!

  6. Vanessa says

    What a wonderful 2013 you had! Wishing you an even better 2014! Happy new year, John, Sherry, Clara, Burger and baby barnacle!

  7. Emily says

    I’m looking forward to seeing your show house in 2014! Are you guys going to be available anytime during the homearama for meet and greets? I’d love to say “hi” and get my copy of your book signed. Thanks for keeping us all entertained during the workday and have a blessed New Year!

    • says

      Wahoo! We’d love to do that! We plan to be at the house a few of the days that it’s open at least (although we should have a two week old baby, so a lot is up in the air). Will definitely keep you guys posted if there are good days to come by with us there so we can show you around ;)


  8. Darcy says

    2013 has been a difficult year, so I am very much looking forward to 2014! I am hopeful that it will be a better year!

    As for a summary of the year, the one huge thing for our family is that my hubs brewery business FINALLY opened in November, and so far it is going really well! Its A LOT of hard work, but its the dream, KWIM?!? :-)
    The kids get bigger every day, and make me laugh all the time! Here is hoping for a good 2014!

    You guys have had an incredible year — I can’t wait to meet Baby Barnacle!

  9. says


    Best Decision: Moving from Utah to Washington.

    Most “Whew!” News Received: That we could use some legally-tied-up money to help purchase a house.

    Most “yep!” Moment: Finding the “little white house” that I’d always dreamed of on the water. (Well, technically it’s less than a mile from the ocean.)

    Best Naming Moment: Listening to our hearts and naming our little place “Tumwater Shores.” More on that special name here-

    Biggest Emotional Moment aka Biggest I-Need-to-Blog-About-It Moment: Meeting the woman who was driving the car that hit my husband when he was riding his bicycle (and technically at fault). All of the little bits just went went away and we became fast friends. She’s the best woman, the kindest mother, and an amazing (and stylishly-young) grandma!

    Most Life-Changing Conversation: My husband telling me two days ago that he’s ready for another child.

    That leads to 2014

    Biggest Hope: Giving another sibling to Susanna Hope

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