Saving Etta: Living Room Reveal

I know it’s been a while since you received a Saving Etta update. And, there’s a good reason for the delay. Not only did I renovate two bathrooms for our local Habitat for Humanity this past week, but I also bought a house! After six months of touring houses and putting in offers, I finally had one accepted on a house. I’ll be giving you more details soon, but in the meantime, I want to invite you inside for the living room reveal in the Saving Etta house.

This room was one of my favorite rooms in the house because of how bright, open, and lofty the space is with huge 14 foot ceilings. The focal point of the room may not be something inside the living room itself. Instead the real star is the view to the backyard through the big Plygem Mira windows and sliding door.

During my breaks, I loved looking out at the serene yard with many birds hopping and flying around. The backyard is truly a gem in the middle of downtown Raleigh.

Before I get ahead of myself, I’d like to thank all the Saving Etta sponsors. They are all near and dear to my heart for their support and patience. When it comes to selecting products, tools, and clothing, these are the brands I select time and time again.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Progression of the Living Room:

The moment the living room was framed, I could tell it was going to be glorious. The huge ceilings and the diamond cut out for the window were enough to make me awestruck. It was also the moment I knew my architect had created something grand.

Before the electrical and lighting could be installed, my electrician pointed out one problem spot. He said there wasn’t a level spot for the ceiling fan. My framers had long left the job site, so I had to install a piece of blocking myself. It took a few trial efforts to figure out the proper angle to cut the blocking so it could fit level in the peak of the rafters.

Once the blocking issue was resolved, the drywall was installed. If anyone questions the insulation value of sheet rock, I can tell you it made a huge difference in maintaining the temperature in the house after install. (It also cut down on much of the outside noise.)

drywall installed in living room

Speaking of noise, if you had a sharp eye, you may have noticed the purple drywall on the left hand wall. It’s SoundBreak drywall used to reduce sound transmission between to rooms. You can read more about how I “sound-proofed” the rooms here (actually it’s more sound reduction than sound-proof.)

The fireplace surround was wrapped with PermaBase cement board in preparation for tile or stucco around the fireplace. (At this point I still had no idea how I was going to finish the surround.)

After the flooring was installed, the construction site started to feel more like a home. I still drool over how beautiful the Elegance Series wood floors from Impressions Flooring Collection looked in the house. I chose the flint color stain, but recently saw a house with wheat colored Elegance series floors, and they were equally as stunning (but definitely lighter in color.)

My friend Holly, Pretty Handsome Guy, and I worked together to assemble and install the cabinets in the kitchen as my trim carpenter worked on building shelves for either side of the hearth.

Ultimately, I deviated from the idea to tile or stucco the fireplace and asked my trim carpenter to install wood planks (faux shiplap) like I had in my own kitchen. (You can read the tutorial for creating and installing your own faux shiplap planks here.)

The fireplace is a ventless gas fireplace. I selected a sexy gas fire with decorative rocks for the living room. It has one linear flame and cranks out an amazing amount of heat! The few times we turned it on, the heat warmed the room very quickly. If the homeowners ever lose power they will be very comfortable using the gas fireplace for heat.

The Living Room Reveal:

At long last, I’m super proud of this room and hope you love it as much as I do.

The fireplace mantel is one of two original mantels from the house. Because they both had lead paint, I had them stripped down to raw wood. The old wood and age made them too attractive to paint again.

To protect the wood, I simply added wood filler to the nail holes and finished the mantels with a flat top coat from General Finishes. The top coat protects the wood but doesn’t have a shine to distract you from the mantel’s aged appearance.

The diamond shaped window over the fireplace is one of those details I’m glad we decided to include. I wasn’t about to order a custom window for that spot, so I learned how to make my own window. It’s a single pane glass, but the size and location means there’s not a huge energy loss.

The diamond window has the same shape as the attic vents on the exterior of the house. I’m so glad my architect added it to the plans. Little touches like this really show the attention to detail for the overall design.

saving etta front view seeded and straw

Remember the blocking I had to nail into the top of the living room ceiling? This is what it’s for:

The Fanimation Spitfire ceiling fan. Instead of black, I ordered a brushed nickel fan to keep it light and airy feeling. This fan is definitely one of my favorite modern fans.

A special thanks to Minted Spaces for the phenomenal staging they did in the house.

The furniture truly set the stage for the open house event and I’m happy to say we had multiple offers that same weekend. Hooray.

After the furniture was removed, the house felt empty. I knew it was time for Etta to be turned over to the new owners so they could fill the space with their furniture and create their own memories.

Many people have asked me if it was emotionally hard to sell Etta. It wasn’t because I love our own home and stayed focused on choosing things for the young couple I always pictured as the buyers.

The last day I owned the house, I ran around finishing the few punch list fixes. After everything was complete, I sat on the floor and tried to reflect on the last 18 months building and saving this historic house. It was crazy to think where this journey started and how much the experience deviated from my idea of what rehabbing a historic house would be like.

1900 triple A frame house

Although it was a huge undertaking and an experience along the way, I am proud to say, “I did it! I saved Etta!” The little bungalow I bought with a major roof leak and black mold had been turned into an amazingly beautiful home.

Saving Etta: 1900 Home Saved from Demolition and restored into a beautiful Triple A construction modern farmhouse.

Looking back I never would have bought the house if I had known how much was involved in rehabbing her. But, I’m glad I didn’t realize it, because this house pushed me and taught me many lessons. Plus, it would have been bulldozed like many of the other houses in disrepair in this neighborhood.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement and for cheering me on when I felt like I couldn’t press on. You are the best set of friends (some I’ve met and some I haven’t met yet) a handy girl could ask for.

I’ll be back with the last reveal (the upstairs bedroom and den), and then it’s on to the next house remodel. Stay tuned to learn more.

Galvanized Metal Star Garland | Pretty Handy Girl

Galvanized Metal Star Garland | Pretty Handy Girl

Remember when I told you I’ve been on a galvanized metal kick? Yes, you may have noticed my Rustic Metal Magnetic Window Frame on Monday. When I put the windows over our fireplace mantel, I knew there was something missing. I tried a few different garlands in the space, but nothing felt quite right. When I gazed upon the leftover galvanized metal, the idea to create a Galvanized Metal Star Garland was born.

Galvanized Metal Magnetic Windows | Pretty Handy Girl

Today’s post is part of the Deck the Halls DIY-Style tour hosted by Jen Woodhouse, If you are just hopping over today from Sawdust and Embryos, amazing vignette, right?! My favorite is the monogrammed scroll snowflake. Welcome to my little slice of DIY Blog heaven. I can’t wait to show you how I made several elements over our fireplace mantel.

Deck the Halls DIY Style | Pretty Handy Girl

The Galvanized Metal Star Garland is so incredibly easy to make. You’ll be looking for more places to decorate with a garland of stars.

Ready to get started? Grab these things and let’s make something stellar!

(contains affiliate links)


Draw stars on your galvanized sheet of metal. If you prefer a beautifully aged metal patina, you can follow this tutorial to make your metal age quickly.

Galvanized Metal Star Garland | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut out the star shapes with tin snips.

Galvanized Metal Star Garland | Pretty Handy Girl

Rub the pencil marks off the stars with a gloved hand. Read more

Pretty Handy Girl Living Room Reveal | Pretty Handy Girl

Cory Rolling Storage Ottoman from La-Z-Boy | Pretty Handy Girl

I’m so excited to finally reveal our living room makeover to you. I partnered with La-Z-Boy to furnish our living room almost exclusively with La-Z-Boy furniture and accessories. The furniture from La-Z-Boy arrived a while ago, but the rug was backordered for several months. My La-Z-Boy in store designer asked me twice if I wanted to chose another rug, but I’m so glad I decided to wait. I love the rug and can honestly say that it was well worth the wait!

Before we get to the tour, I think it’s only fair to show you a few pictures of the progression of the living room over the years. About a year after we bought the house in 2007, I painted the walls a lighter sage green and added sconces. We also paid a contractor to double the width of the opening to the kitchen. That made a huge difference. You can see the missing flooring where the small opening used to be below:


The sofa was a hand-me-down from my Godfather’s parents.


Underneath the red slipcover was this fabulously reupholstered sofa. Can you tell what year I re-covered it?


Ummm, hello 1990’s hunter green plaid. I don’t have a photo, but under this plaid monster is the original fabric from the 60’s. It was a floral woven tapestry fabric. I still can’t believe we sat on this sofa that was over 50 years old. It was hard as a rock.

In 2009, I pulled up the wall-to-wall carpeting and installed antique heart pine wood flooring. I also painted the previously painted white fireplace to look like brick again.  You read that right, the brick is painted!


In 2011, I covered the sofa with a new slipcover, but it was still the same uncomfortable hard sofa. We also tried positioning the sofa at an angle in the room.


This past winter we moved the furniture around again and for the first time we felt that we had found an arrangement that worked for us.

Pretty Handy Girl's Holiday Home Tour 2014

If you recall, I took a little field trip to our local La-Z-Boy furniture gallery back in December. I met with Lexie, the designer, who was invaluable with her expertise and design advice. Then you all helped me by voting for your favorite fabric selection (big virtual kisses and hugs from me to you for that!)

The voting was a tie, so I combined fabrics from the two winners and ultimately chose this combination:

La-Z-Boy Living Room Mood Board | Pretty Handy Girl

Ready to see how they look in the living room? Are you telling me to shut up already and get to the reveal? Your wish is my command, here is our living room reveal:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

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Make Your Own Clock Sign | Pretty Handy Girl

Make Your Own Clock Sign | Pretty Handy Girl

Making a clock is an easy project. All you need is a flat surface that you can drill a hole into and BOOM, you can make a clock. Let’s get started and I’ll show you How to Make Your Own Clock Sign.


Make Your Own Clock Sign | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Chalkboard sign (I purchased this chalkboard sign at Tuesday Morning.)
  • Clock mechanism
  • Ruler
  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Chalk
  • Damp rag
  • Vinyl lettering and numbers
  • Plate or circle template


Use a ruler to mark the center of your chalkboard sign near the top. (Center from the sides and use the same measurement down from the top for a balanced look.)

Make Your Own Clock Sign | Pretty Handy Girl

Use a plate or circle template to trace a circle for the clock face.

Make Your Own Clock Sign | Pretty Handy Girl

Disassemble the clock hands and parts. Lay them out in the order you removed them.

Make Your Own Clock Sign | Pretty Handy Girl

Insert the clock mechanism through the back of the hole. Read more


DIY Feather Art | Pretty Handy Girl

When I needed an extra piece of art for our living room gallery wall I created DIY Feather Art. You can create your own, but please purchase craft feathers, use fake feathers or paper feathers. (Per the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to collect feathers, nests and other anatomical parts of certain migratory birds.)


DIY Feather Art | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Rustic 1×4″ boards (I used pallet wood)
  • Wood yardstick or lattice boards
  • Watered down white paint
  • Paint brush
  • Clamp
  • Scissors
  • Kreg Jig
  • Pocket hole screws (1.25″)
  • Nylon line
  • Small drill bit
  • Drill
  • Staple gun
  • 1″ finish nails
  • Hammer or nailgun
  • Wood glue
  • Feathers
  • Pencil
  • D-ring picture hangers


Cut your 1×4″ boards to size (or select one board the size you want for your art background.) To connect the two boards, mark the location to drill pocket holes.

DIY Feather Art | Pretty Handy Girl

Use the Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes into the back of both boards.

DIY Feather Art | Pretty Handy Girl

Clamp the boards together and join them with 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.

DIY Feather Art | Pretty Handy Girl

Flip the board over and paint it with watered down white paint for a white-washed look.

DIY Feather Art | Pretty Handy Girl

Mark the width of the white-washed board onto the yardstick. Cut two pieces the same length. Read more