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Picking a Faucet | Laquered vs. Unlaquered brass

October 14, 2017

While many of our mothers may cringe, a few of you may have noticed that brass is having a moment right now. Though NOW it’s thankfully showing up in a variety of different brushed and matte versions that are a fresh departure from the typical polished “gold” look that defined the finish 25 years ago. I was first exposed to the finish when helping folks match door sets and cabinet hardware from 75+ years ago. I love brass primarily for it’s old fashioned elegance, and the warmth of the hue. And I especially love the unlacquered brass that patinas over time adding a weathered, classic appearance to kitchens and bathrooms.

But what is the difference between polished and unlaquered brass?

Unlacquered brass lacks the top layer that keeps the brass finish of the 1980’s looking bright forever.  Instead, unlacquered brass weathers over time and takes on a beautiful and warm patina.  This is not a finish for the perfectionist, but better suited to someone who likes a bit of age and the unique appearance of weather metals. The same kind of person that has marble countertops and shrugs at the inevitable etching that comes from wine and lemon juice.

I was convinced that this was the finish I wanted to go with for our kitchen. When we were designing the architectural interiors for our Farmhouse I kept insisting on “living finishes.” After some convincing Nick came around to my vision of brass faucets and door hardware that would weather naturally over time — with more tarnish in the areas that were touched the most and bits of shininess left around the edges. This was all well and good until I started looking for an affordable brass faucet.  I collected inspiration from everywhere I went, read up on how to take care of brass and found the perfect cabinet hardware (at Rejuvenation no less!) but for the life of me I couldn’t find a reasonably priced brass faucet in a “living finish.”

Designer: Studio McGee | Photographed by House Beautiful

And here is why….

Unlacquered faucets are made of pure brass – and can always be polished to its original beauty.

Often faucets that appear to be brass are actually brass-plated, and are typically made of steel or white metal (zinc) to which molecules of brass are electroplated. A lacquer is applied to protect this plating, which is thin and will eventually deteriorate over time. Brass plated pieces can be polished successfully once the lacquer is removed but if the brass-plating itself has deteriorated the entire pieced often needs to be re-plated. An Unlacquered brass faucet is far more expensive to make because the brass needs to be clean and pure the entire way through which is hard to replicate without some serious attention to detail, hence the $$$.


Maddox Kitchen | The Beginning

April 8, 2017

Renovating our kitchen in #renovate48th is a project that I’ve eagerly anticipated since we bought this house almost 2-years ago, I know! It hasn’t even been TWO YEARS.

Its easy to forget how much has changed in this house when you’re living through it, going to sleep and waking up with projects in progress everywhere you look. It’s a good exercise in relinquishing those unrealistic dreams of perfection we all struggle with and the expectation of Pinterest worthy photos every weekend. The truth is, I hope that living in this house with it’s smoky, sticky cabinets with doors that won’t shut will make me forever grateful for a kitchen that’s easy on the eyes and functions as well as it looks (both inside and out).


Already this photo of the kitchen is different, you can see we’re about the rough-in the dishwasher on the left side of the counter and we’ve already painted over the split pea green walls. We left the trim because painting wood windows is really labor intensive and we thought our efforts would be better spent elsewhere.

In this photo you can see the first layer of  old linoleum that was ripped up so we could refinish the original fir floors we found underneath. In this photo you can also see what was a tiny utility closet and then a narrow door to access the dining room and the rest of the  house. We removed this entire wall, closet and the chimney stack inside that once fed the oil furnace in the basement. And check out those walls! Yuck!

Step 1 | Remove Closet and Chimney

Here you can see a better picture of the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining room. The bump out in the wall is where the chimney currently sits. Taking this out created a much better flow into the kitchen from the rest of the house and has enabled us to host more easily than before.

Another picture of the access to the kitchen. Even the linoleum was cracking apart!

Nick beginning to take down the lath and plaster from the closet.

Removing the chimney – we knocked it in from the roof and then carted it out.

Nick and Jon taking care of business.

During this project our sweet neighbor asked if Nick would be “spending lots of time on the roof, because it makes me nervous.” Lucky for her (and me!) This was a one time occurrence as he patched the spot where the chimney once exited the house. The pitch of this roof is fairly steep, so it’s not the easiest to work on.

Step 2 | Remove Wall Separating Dining and Kitchen

We installed a beam to take the load of the roof since the wall we took out was load-bearing.

You can see the hole in the floor where the chimney once went. Its crazy how just exposing the framing made the entire space brighten up.

All done! Just don’t step in the hole…

Step 3 | Remove Linoleum & Refinish Floors

Peeling that stuff off was harder than it looks. And underneath we ended up having to chip away at more linoleum tiles and pull up hundreds of little staples. This ended up saving us lots of money in the long run. By the time the guys came in to refinish the floors we had removed everything and all they had to do was weave in sections of wood to hide where the walls had once stood and sand and seal.

 The floors after weaving in new wood and three passes on the sander.

And after three coats of stain – we opted for the Swedish finish which is best for the northwest and our humidity. We did three coats because we have a larger dog and fir is a pretty soft wood.

That’s it for now! Stay tuned for updates on our progress as we demo and put in a new kitchen in less than 3 weeks!

Maddox Bathroom | Inspiration

April 5, 2017

Since this is the only bathroom in our house it needed to be beautiful and a workhorse for our growing family. I wanted it to be serene enough in its appeal that I might actually take a bath but also utilitarian in terms of easy cleaning and ample storage.


I love a pretty white bathroom and had my heart set on using beautiful encaustic cement tile found in many parts of the Southwest and Mexico to accent an otherwise white canvas. Unfortunately, these tiles are a pain to source and cost a fortune. I blame Pinterest for making me fall in love with these! Not only are they expensive but the durability of ceramic tile trumps encaustic far and wide, and with this being the only bathroom I couldn’t live with the possibility of the cement chipping with wear and tear. This decision was made easier when I found some 8″ hexagon tiles in a mosaic that resembled the look I had hoped to achieve with the cement ones.

River City Tile Company

Casa Haus

We plan to tile the entire shower and bring the tile up to chair-rail height around the rest of the room. Because it’s a small space the idea is to bring your eye up to accent the tall ceilings. I’m planning on using a textured subway tile to keep the room feeling casual and warm.

Architectural Digest


We plan on installing a new, slightly larger recessed medicine cabinet (the larger mirror will cause the space to feel larger). Also we will replace the wall-mount sink with a larger white vanity complete with an under-mount sink, marble countertop and drawers for storage. One of the bigger changes is switching the toilet from the South wall where it currently sits to the opposite side. This is the only way to fit in a larger vanity with storage and still be able to use the toilet.


Below you’ll find a compilation of what we plan to use and where to find them (sources are linked).

Tile | Faucet | Vanity (custom) | Towel Warmer | Double Sconce | Drawer Pulls | Counter-top (custom) | Medicine Cabinet

Maddox Bathroom | Progress Update

March 29, 2017

I’m excited to be talking about some plans in our bathroom, finally! If you remember from when we bought this house, the bathroom was a scary black hole. There was a gargoyle statue when we toured it, and the light fell off the wall when my sweet MIL attempted to clean it. Additionally, when we took possession of the house there was no hot water, basically a no-go if one plans to shower! We ended up having to flush the heck out of our water heater which had so much gravel and sediment in the bottom its amazing it still worked! Then Nick re-plumbed all of the hot water lines with PEX. The only casualty was the sink that cracked and fell off the wall when replacing our plumbing. The good news is, we got a temporary light working again, the bad news is it might have been better in the dark!

Plans for the Space

The plan of attack it to brighten it up in there. I want this bathroom to be bright and airy while feeling spacious since it’s currently the only bathroom in the house, so I am going with a soft palette, natural materials, not too much contrast, and majorly upgraded fixtures.

Mother Mag

My Domaine

And now for the…


The first item on the agenda was to remove the two layers of laminate flooring. For the flooring we have decided to use octagon tiles in an assorted pattern. I love the encaustic cement tile but the wear and tear on this bathroom calls for something durable like ceramic. The second task is to bring in some light. Currently there is one light over the vanity that we actually had to replace the day we moved in because while changing the lightbulbs the fixture fell off the wall. Let me tell ya, this house is REAL SAFE. I am planning to replace the vanity light and install recessed lighting over the shower and we are adding a new larger window in the shower that will bring in more natural light.

Wish us luck!


October 11, 2016

When we bought our house over a year ago it was inevitable that we’d be building a fence. Our lovable mutt, Sage is an active guy and needs to run frequently. Since we’ve been renovating the exterior of the house he’s either been on a long-line or inside the house -neither are great options for a pup that loves to both be with people and run round. This being said, our last project of the summer was to build a fence.


Lucky for us, West Seattle is home to some really resourceful and creative people and we found much of our inspiration right in our own neighborhood. Nick and I run after work together frequently -nothing like a spunky dog to get you out of the house – and it was a great way to do research for this fence. We noticed how hog-wire panels: used for fences, gates and trellises were popping up all over. What had been a mainstay in ranches for decades was seemingly rediscovered by homeowners and landscape designers and making a comeback all over Seattle. They are a reasonably affordable and low-profile solution for maintaining an open view while keeping animals in (or out). We weighed the pros and cons of having a hog-wire fence and settled on doing a few sections with hog-wire and a few sections with the traditional cedar paneling for more privacy along the back and side-yard.

What is hog wire? Also known as cattle or livestock panels, hog wire panels are made of steep rods welded at every intersections and galvanized with a heavy zinc coating. Feed supply stores and fence companies sell different styles with different rod-gauges and spacing – we plan on using a heavy gauge so that our fence won’t sag over time.



A close-up of a hog-wire fence.


This photo illustrates how planting around your hog-wire fences can disguise the presence of a fence.


I love how classic this one looks with the hydrangea and the white clapboard siding.

Preliminary Planning + Things to know

Don’t over-span your sections

Before deciding where to put our posts we had to decide where we wanted our gates (we’ll be building 4 total) and then our span sections would be predicated on where these gates are going. We plan to build the fence in sections after sinking out posts. Since sections are typically built in 6-8-foot lengths you know right away that your posts shouldn’t be any more than 8 feet apart. We decided on smaller sections because hog-wire is heavy and we didn’t want the weight of it over time making it susceptible to wind damage.

Sink Posts Straight and Below the Frost

Fence posts need to be a minimum of 2-feet or 24″ in the ground – a good rule of thumb is about 1/3 of the post. Because our fence is only going to be about 4-feet high we plan to buy 6-ft posts and sink them about 18″. Make sure to check where your gass, water and electrical lines run before you dig. We plan to sink a post right next to all of these so thankfully we’ve already mapped where the lines intersect so we know exactly where to dig.

*Currently figuring out plans for where the fence will go, how many gates we plan on having (the answer is 4!) and what style of fence we’re building where. In the front we plan to use the hog-wire, and in the back we’ll use a more traditional and private craftsman fence. Nick is currently tasked with figuring out how we can build a section of the fence to be removable in the back.

Painting #RENOVATE48TH

September 29, 2016

This is the LONG overdue post on how we painted our house – by ourselves!

If you missed the post on how we decided on our exterior color you can read that here. Today I’m going to unpack how we went about the physical painting of the house and all the nitty-gritty details that everyone forgets about (including me!). When I write these posts I’m ALWAYS shocked by how much work these projects can be,  and how time consuming it is to caulk FIVE BILLION NAIL HOLES!! Okay, I kid. But as you will soon read, paint doesn’t cover a multitude of flaws unless you apply some putty and caulk first.


We picked Pure White by Sherwin Williams for our exterior color. Here Nick is testing out a patch on the West side of our house. The stars happened to align that weekend and we bought our paint the when they had a 20% off deal – this helps when you’re spending $$$$ on paint.

 Getting Down to Business

After deciding on our color we pressure washed the entire house and scraped off paint that was peeling. We underestimated how long it would take to do this part, we spent an entire week of evenings pulling every last nail that had been left behind by the siding that was on top of the cedar. After this Nick caulked around each window and I caulked all the holes and spaces where the boards met so that the paint would make the siding look seamless. The one downside to picking white is that you see various imperfections but I like to think that its an old house and its not supposed to be perfect. We didn’t focus too much on the old windows as they will be replaced within the next year.

We solicited some help from a friend who had a spray gun and the expertise from being a house painter in his previous job. This was truly invaluable, spray guns take a certain skill in operating and cleaning after use. It took us about 2 hours to tape off the two doors, 11 windows and the roof over the two porches which meant lots of paper and tape to get the job done correctly.


The coverage was amazing and because of the rain we didn’t apply two coats. In fact, we only used about 10 gallons of paint total–excellent coverage and the paint sprayer did not suck up a lot of paint like some tend to do.  The paint sprayer has two parts you can connect to the nozzle: one that goes into a 5 gallon bucket and one that you hook up a small one quart reservoir bottle to.  The cleanup was a cinch–just take the nozzle apart and clean each little piece in a sink and stick the jetpack in a bucket of hot soapy water and turn it on to flush the tube.



The house when we bought it in August 2015 – Who would have thought we had windows behind those bushes!?


The house as of July 2016 – After tearing off the green press board siding and shingles, and replacing with new bevel cedar siding and T1-11 on The Skirt.

(read about this transformation HERE).



Pretty impressive, right? My girlfriend recently had her house painted and said it cost her around $6k, so if you have the DIY spirit, you can save a big chunk of change doing it yourself.


This last photo is my favorite. Eventually all of our windows will be like this one with the black frame. It really makes the window ‘POP’ and helps the house have a modern element without detracting from its original 1923 simplicity.


Painting #RENOVATE48TH

September 20, 2016

The time has come! This old house has been given a fresh coat of paint and we’re going to tell you all about how we did it. I’ll be honest, I have found it easy to walk into someone else’s home and give them ideas about paint colors but when it came time for us to paint ours I was suddenly on the fence about what I had always thought I wanted.

I knew from the get-go that I wanted the monochrome look with some rustic farmhouse touches. I’d had my heart set on a matte charcoal-black house since we purchased the home last summer. But as time passed I just couldn’t see it being black – it didn’t fit. So I decided to go white -a decision that I haven’t regretted. Nick was totally on board when I pitched him the idea of a white house so I while I narrowed the field in terms of inspiration he got to work figuring out how we could most efficiently paint the house.



I love how the white is bold without trying to hard to look modern – our home is almost 100-years old and I wanted it to look fresh without trying to be something it wasn’t.


This photo does a wonderful job of capturing how the bevel cedar siding will look with the craftsman trim. The trim will be the same color as the siding so it’s something to consider when picking our color.


This photo illustrates how the dark framed windows will look interact with the white. Photo credit

Narrowing the Field

Our first step was to bring a few swatches that we thought could work and hold them up against various planes of the house (the front, the side, etc) just to see how they looked in different lighting situations. Here are the three swatches that we brought in:


We painted it on a few sections of the house and decided we liked the Sherwin Williams – Pure white the best. The other two were a bit too yellow once applied.


Here you can see the impact of the new paint.

Stay tuned for the long overdue update on how we went about painting this old house!


September 20, 2016

When we last checked in we had replaced all of the existing cedar shingles with new beveled cedar siding. It gives the exterior of the house a much cleaner look and is congruent with pictures of the house from the late 1950’s.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

This post will outline our plan for the lowest 4-feet of the house, which we fondly refer to as “The Skirt.” In this photo you can see that its covered in wood shingles. This irregular cedar “shake” siding was used in early New England construction, and was revived in Shingle Style and Queen Anne style architecture in the late 19th century.


We will replaced the wood shingles with Texture 1-11, T1-11 or T111 (“tee-one-eleven”), a durable plywood sheet siding with grooves to imitate vertical shiplap siding. There is also a product known as reverse board-and-batten RBB that looks similar but has deeper grooves. We considered used the Hardi version of RBB but we plan to lift the house long-term which would mean ripping it all off again – so we went with the less-expensive option. Both T-11 and RBB sheets are quick and easy to install as long as they are installed with compatible flashing at butt joints.


Step one included tearing off all the existing shingles and pulling all the protruding nails. We found that you could see right into our basement in a few spots so Nick ended up having to rip a few boards to cover them up so that the T1-11 could be securely nailed to the house.


After patching all of the holes and pulling an excessive number of nails we covered everything with Building paper to protect against moisture. You can tell from the photo above Sage was clearly over the project and resigned himself to digging and sleeping his hole the rest of the day.


After stapling the Building Paper onto the house we secured the galvanized flashing underneath the last row of cedar siding to protect against water sitting on the top edge of the T1-11. This proved hard than we anticipated! We took the back of a hammer and attempted to pry the bottom edge of the siding out creating a space for us to slide the flashing into. We found that we had to be very gentle prying the hammer back otherwise the cedar would split and we’d have to replace the entire row. It was slow going, but over the course of the evening we finished the entire perimeter of the house.


img_3913We added some trim where the T1-11 met the lowest row of bevel siding and two trim pieces on each of the corners. It looks so much better all buttoned up!

Materials List

  • SmartSide 48 in. x 96 in. Strand Panel Siding. Found here: Home Depot
  • Galvanized Steel L Flashing. Found here: Home Depot
  • 1-Ply 60-Minute Building Paper. Found here:  Home Depot
  • Dewalt Stapler. Found here: Home Depot


September 9, 2016

In the last post we covered tearing off the first layer of siding, see here if you missed it.  Today I’m going to outline how we went about the process of re-siding the upper and lower parts of the house, some inspiration and the materials we used.




The shingles were in pretty bad shape in spots so instead of saving them we opted to tear it all off (both the top and bottom sections) and continue the lap siding all the way up the side of the house. You can still see where the green press board is stuck under our electrical piping, and if you look hard you can see the outline of the original house numbers over the door.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

When  we tore off the shingles on the upper half of the house we found that the tar paper stopped at the first floor rim joist. This may have been done to help the attic breath, but it also meant that there was no secondary moisture barrier. House wrap functions as a weather-resistant barrier, preventing rain from getting into the wall assembly while allowing water-vapor to pass to the exterior. If moisture from either direction is allowed to build up within stud or cavity walls, mold and rot can set in and fiberglass or cellulose insulation  will lose its *R-value due to heat-conducting moisture.

*R-value is a measure of thermal resistance for materials such as walls, panels and insulation, it gives an indication of how quickly they will lose their heat. The higher the value of R, the better the thermal performance and heat retention of the material or assembly, and the slower any heat loss.



We covered it with Tyvek home wrap down past the existing tar paper, which meant removing two laps of the cedar siding and replacing it after the home wrap (seen below) so that we’d have a water-tight membrane.


Exterior house - home wrap.JPG

Following the application of the home wrap we continued the beveled cedar siding up the rest of the main house, and the annex off the back of the house.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset




All finished! Please ignore the obscene bathroom window that refuses to close – hence the tape! The new one is sitting in the garage but we’re waiting to tackle the bathroom after the exterior is finished. Stay tuned for how we chose our exterior paint color up next!

Materials List:

  • Pre-primed finger jointed (6 x 1/2) bevel Cedar siding. *Compton Lumber is our go-to for all wood products in Seattle. They are friendly, knowledgeable and the quality of their wood products beat out big box home improvement stores by a long shot.
  • Stainless Ring-shank nailsStainless steel is recommended as Cedar reacts with certain metals. Ring-shank is important because the nail acts like a screw, where once it nailed it will resist backing out. Found here: Home Depot
  • Tyvek Home Wrap. Found here: Home Depot


August 4, 2016

Ever since we bought this house last August we’ve had lots of hopes and dreams for how to transform the drab army green exterior. After a long winter of tedious inside projects, this June we began updating the exterior! It began when we started to pull back the siding from the two windows we replaced in the guest room. Remember the hidden window? Well that was the start of something wonderful for our little Cape Cod. It turns out that our home had two layers of siding! While we didn’t find gold in the walls – straight cedar siding runs a close second and finding it under the green press-board was a great surprise.


Needless to say, we could hardly stop ourselves from ripping off the press-board now that we had seen what was underneath. It came off surprisingly easy, and we realized quickly that with the exception of a few boards that most of the cedar was in good shape.





We found cedar shake that was in poor shape so we decided to tear it off and take the straight cedar siding all the way up.


Thankfully we had some help – it turns out we’re not the only ones that like ripping off siding.


Now time to start over! If you look over the screen door you can still see the old house numbers. We found a picture of the house (see below) that shows the green siding was put on before 1956. The next photo isn’t dated but shows the cedar siding we found – we do know the house was built in 1923 which leave us with about 25 years in-between where its clear from the pictures that there were a number of changes made to the exterior of the house.

1956 House Photo

Old House Photo

Stay tuned for more updates and a post on our inspiration for the exterior of this house!


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