West Michigan Wednesday: “Leaving Iowa” and Live Music

One of the things we love most about our home is the location! We love living in Grand Haven and enjoy many activities in and around our town. I wanted to create a series that explores some of the great things that West Michigan has to offer.

west michigan wednesday

This weekend be sure to check out “Leaving Iowa” at the Historic Howmet Playhouse in Whitehall.  This show is part of the Howmet Playhouse Summer season so it only runs one weekend, August 1-3. Kurt and I had the opportunity to see it last winter at Muskegon Civic Theatre.  It is an amazing show with a great cast. Click below to check out the rest of the summer season. There is a great show every weekend this summer!

Summer Season at The Howmet Playhouse

Also, this weekend marks the debut of Kurt’s new band, “The Local Nobody.”  They will be playing at Lakeshore Tavern Saturday August 3rd at 7pm. Come check ’em out!

What is your favorite thing to do in West Michigan?

Updating A Plain Knife Block

I have been on a spray painting kick lately. I am seriously painting everything that I can get my hands on. While I would love to buy all brand new things for our house, that just isn’t an option. So, instead, I am giving new life to some of my old items.

When I was in college, my parents generously gave me a kitchen set with pots, pans, utensils and a knife block. Most of the set is long gone, after many moves and lots of roommates. However, that original knife set and block are still kicking. I have never even had to re sharpen them!  I don’t really like the look of a lot of things on the kitchen counters, but it is so convenient to have knives and a pair of scissors at easy reach. The blonde wood block just wasn’t cutting it for me aesthetically, so it was time for an update.

I just quickly sanded down my knife block and gave it a couple of thin coats of spray paint. I let it sit outside overnight to cure up and off gas before bringing it back in. I really love how it turned out.


I used “Tropical Oasis” paint and primer in one by Valspar. I had quite a bit left over after my stool project and I. LOVE. this. color! I just want pops of happy teal all over my home. It makes me smile every time I look at it. I think bringing some color into the kitchen helps tie in the stools and make everything look a little more intentional. Plus, the best part is this project was FREE. Can’t beat that!!

Now you see it: How to hide TV wires behind the wall

After the first walk through of the house I knew I wanted to hang out TV above the fireplace. It took a lot of convincing to get Kurt on board. Our mantle is quite large, placing out 32 in flat screen much higher on the wall than is ideal. However, Pinterest saved me yet again and after showing Kurt several pictures I was able to get his buy in. The question was “How!?” Most of the tutorials  about wire hiding did not include a fireplace. This prevented us from simply droping the cord straight down behind the drywall… we were going to have to go through at least two sets of studs to get to our outlet. The thought of drilling through our studs was overwhelming so we were determined to find another way.


We are absolutely loving our faux Ikea built ins. They add some interesting architecture and a whole lot of character. They also help hide some of our wires!


Yeah, that is not cute.

Our solution was to take the cords up to the crown molding and run it along the top, bypassing the studs before dropping down to our outlet. Kurt mounted our TV per the instructions and drilled a small hole for our cables to go through. We use an Apple TV instead of traditional cable and have not hooked up our Blu-Ray Player yet so we just had the power cord and an HDMI cable to contend with. We fed the cords through the hole and brought them up to the crown molding and drilled another hole.


We made this hole as small as possible to keep it from showing. You can kind of see it from the kitchen, but the built ins are so pretty I doubt any one will notice…. except now I just told you.


Then we just ran the cords along the wall by the crown until we reached the spot that we wanted to drop down our cords.


We also used this opportunity to hide our Apple TV and a power strip sitting on top of our bookcase. We use my Iphone and our Ipads as bluetooth remotes so there is no need to be able to see our Apple TV.

To drop our cords through the wall we used the “Flat Screen TV Cord & Cable Power Kit” by Legrand which we picked up from Home Depot for under $20.


From here on out, we were able to just follow the instructions. We attached the first power grommet to the wall at the top of the bookcase. The kit came with a really cool hole saw which made  this really easy, it just attached right to our drill. We used the included fish tape to feed our cords down to another hole 5ft down. The power harness could only reach five feet so we didn’t quite make it all the way to the outlet, but it is still such a huge improvement! We used the second power grommet to cover this hole and then simply ran the power cord to our outlet.


The whole thing was a pretty quick project and it was wonderful to use our bookcases as part of our solution. It is wonderful to have the power strip and our Apple Tv out of sight. We love the clean look of the mounted TV and hidden cords.


Faux Built In: Billy Bookcase Ikea Hack

Remember how I bought 4 billy bookcase from Ikea? I wanted to create a focal point on our living room wall with the fireplace, wall mounted TV and some built in bookshelves. Actually building the shelves wasn’t a great option for us so we turned to IKEA for an inexpensive solution. I browsed a lot of Ikea hacks and it seemed like the best option. It was time consuming but not too bad for our first big project!


Here is how we made our faux built in using two full billy bookcases and two half sized bookcases.


The first step was to assemble all four bookshelves. It looked like a Swedish furniture bomb went off in my living room!

After the  guys assembled the shelves, we realized that the measurements were a little bit off on each side of the fireplace and the shelves didn’t quite fit. My brother used his Reciprocal Saw to cut off a little bit of our mantle on either side. Yes. Our beautiful mantle. I had to hide upstairs until he was done, but I did snag a quick picture. Also, it turned out that our fireplace isn’t exactly in the center of the wall, so we had to cheat our shelves a little bit to create the illusion of symmetry.


It was already looking great with the shelves as is. We chose not to add the flimsy backer on the shelves. We needed to be able to access the electrical outlets and the switch for the fireplace.


However, we wanted to mimic the look of real built ins. To accomplish this I knew I wanted to add crown molding to the top and baseboard to the bottom. Our shelves sat a little under 4 inches so none of the baseboards would fit, so we pulled everything off of the wall


and set a piece of plywood under the shelves.


Then we screwed the shelves into the wall for added stability. We attached a piece of particle board in between the bookshelves to create a smooth surface for our crown molding. This also created a built in picture frame for where our TV would eventually go.  We used 1/2 strips of pine to connect the gap between our large and small bookcases and create a seamless look. Then it was time to nail in the crown molding. After some trial and error, we ended up going with a pretty simple piece of crown and borrowed a nailer from a friend. We painted the fireplace surround and the trim pieces “Ikea white” to match the bookcase. We just took one of the shelves into Home Depot and they did a color match for us right in the store.   Let’s take a look at our progress before adding the baseboards:


I’m not going to lie, the most challenging part about this project was our serious lack of tools. . The items that we ended up purchasing/borrowing to complete this project were  a brad nailer, compound miter saw, air compressor,  reciprocal saw and a cordless drill.  Because we were borrowing most of these tools, this project took a couple of weeks but the actual “work time” really wouldn’t be that bad if you had the hardware already.

And just as a reminder, this is our living room during our walk through


Check it out now with some beautiful Ikea faux built ins.


What a huge difference! I’m still not sure about the gray wall showing around everything. We have been talking about painting it white or even doing a fun accent color for inside the shelves. There are so many options! Also, we still want to do something with that awkward track lighting and I still have a lot of shelves to fill so this project isn’t officially finished. I’m excited to add a few interesting/pretty books and some more fun pieces. I’m sure the items on the shelves will continue to change and evolve as the mood strikes.


No joke, I find myself just sitting and starring at these pretty built ins. I think these bookcases add an interesting architectural feature in our living room. I love how they turned out!

I will be back on Monday to explain how we mounted our TV above our fireplace and hid our cords in the wall!

Bloomin’ Beauties

We just finished a July heat wave here in Grand Haven. The grass is crispy and our house doesn’t have AC. I want to enjoy the cooler weather today by sharing some of the beautiful landscaping and flowers that we inherited with our home.  This summer we aren’t doing any landscaping beyond the bare minimum of mowing the lawn. It has been really fun to see what is coming up courtesy of the former owners. Let me tell you, we have some pretties!

On Moving day our white lilac bush in front of the house was in full bloom.


It smelled beautiful! We had a lilac bush at my home growing up. The smell always takes me back and makes me think of spring!


My parents bought us 3 georgous hanging baskets to brighten up our porch. Two of them are purple and white and the middle has tiny little blue flowers peaking out. I love them!


They also bought us a colorful planter. It didn’t last long because of the shade on our porch but it was beautiful!


We had pretty yellow lilies flower in front of the house within our first week and have also seen orange and red popping up periodically around the yard.


It has been fun to grab fresh cut flowers to brighten up our home this summer. It seems like every day when I step outside there is a new bloom that wasn’t there before! Have you ever been surprised by a new flower peaking out in your yard?