How To Hang a Straight Row of Hooks (or Anything)

When planning the pool house, I didn’t picture art on the walls.  Instead, I wanted the accessories to serve as art.  Which means every item has to be extra special to serve the functional purpose and add a design element.  Obviously with a pool, towels are necessary.  I found beautiful 100% cotton striped Turkish towels from The Longest Thread and I bought ten.


Our pool will have only one ladder, in the shallow end, close to the window in the photo above.  For convenience, I wanted to hang seven of the towels on hooks below the window, placing the remaining three near the future hot tub area.  To hang the seven hooks in a straight row, I held the towel on the hook up to determine my height, marking it with a piece of blue tape.  Next, I eyeballed down the line, placing tape on each batten strip.  With the tape up, I held a level, marking the line on each strip.


Next, I held up a hook, making sure the level line ran through each screw hole and marked each.



With the tape still in place, start driving the hook and screw in.  Before tightening too far, pull the tape off and continue attaching.


Voila, easy, perfectly straight row without a bunch of measuring.  If you have to measure the spacing between each hook, stretch a full piece of tape or paper across.  It’s easier to mark it up and change than the wall.


Over by the future hot tub, three more hooks and towels are hung higher below that window.


I love the pattern and softness the towels add, just like functional art.


I realize I’m jumping the gun adding towels before we even have the pool liner, but I’m excited to unpack the accessory hoard I’ve had for over half a year.  Speaking of my accessory stash, I pulled out all of the bathroom goodies and got it all in place.  Stay tuned for that next week!

Painted Doors

Quite often, when I post an image on Instagram, I get questions about the paint colors used in our home.  Usually about the wall of the living room, master bed and bathroom, and our doors.  Everyone seems really comfortable painting walls any color, but doors feel like so much more of a commitment.  And I get it, sure you’re only choosing one color, but that one color has to play nicely with the colors of the rooms beyond.

From the get go, I knew I wanted to paint the orange toned wood doors in our home.

New-House-Dining-into-Living-Room April 13 2012

White feels like the easiest option, but I wanted to avoid the inevitable dirty fingerprints that two boys surely leave behind.  I gathered up any and all colors that got my attention.  Instantly, I was drawn to a warm gray with green undertones, Squirrel from Behr.  A quick paint sample on the door confirmed my love and I spent a couple of weeks painting every door.


The darker color feels like punctuation, a little accent.  We’ve had this unique color for nearly four years, and it adds so much character to our rooms.


Far and away more than white ever could-just look at this quickly Photoshopped picture.  It’s fine, but pretty boring comparatively.  Oddly enough, I feel like the white draws more attention to that side.


If you’re considering painting doors a color other than white, I’d suggest picking the door color first, if possible.  By painting our doors first, I’ve been able to choose wall colors for each room that compliment the door.  If I were reversing the selection process, it could have been tricky to pick a door color based on all the connecting room paint colors.

Install a modern ceiling fan, yes they do exist!:

These gray doors have a slightly green undertone, but still pairs well with cooler neutrals.

Our Humble Abode Blog Main Bathroom Vanity

As well as saturated or bolder colors.


Unlike the white trim, the color is incredibly forgiving, not showing the smudges from dirty hands.


Of course, black doors are also a lovely option, especially paired with simple trim.  I love the combination Lauren Liess created by adding brass plates and unique door handles.

Navy is another beautiful option, like this closet door from Yellow Brick Home.  It’s especially easy if you plan to use a lot of neutrals on the walls.  It’s a great way to add color, but an unexpected way to bring it in.


I also think a deep, nearly black green would be a lovely, unusual color on doors.  Something like our theater walls, painted Jasper from Sherwin Williams.


Do you have painted doors?  If so, what color and how do you go about pairing it with wall paint?

A Thrill of Hope

Every holiday this year, I’ve kept decorations to a minimum.  Rather than stressing about getting everything taken out, set up, and put away, all for only a couple of weeks of enjoyment, I’ve used only what I really love.  After sorting out the Christmas decorations, donating what I didn’t want to keep, I noticed I didn’t have anything to put on the mantle.


To fill the void, I knew I wanted to add a wooden sign (for warmth) with a song lyric on it.  After tossing out several options, Ben said he liked ‘A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices’ best.


To create the sign, I used two 1 by 12 inch reclaimed cedar boards, salvaged from our neighbors replaced siding.  After cutting the boards to 36 inches wide, I flipped each over to secure together with scraps of tongue and groove pine and 1 1/2 inch wood screws.


Using Photoshop, I created a digital design and had planned to print it as an engineer print to transfer.  I didn’t have time to get there, but when I picked the boys up from school, I asked a teacher friend of ours if I could use the projector to trace it.


Sure, it took some time, but it wasn’t terrible and the boys decided to ‘help’ me trace.  When I returned home, I laid the paper out, centering it on my boards, then taped one end to keep it from shifting.  Transferring the text is so easy with carbon paper. Years ago, I bought a pack of 20 sheets and have used them for different projects.  I just shift my sheet around to the parts I haven’t gotten and trace the design with a mechanical pencil tip, minus the lead.


Then, I turned on the Gilmore Girls revival and started filling in with paint.  It’s far from perfect, and you’ll see there are still bits of the carbon peeking out if you look closely.  If you have a cutting machine, that is certainly a great option to save time.


It’s the center of the mantle, with a white ceramic house (filled with a battery-powered strand of twinkle lights) and simple bottle brush trees round out the mantle top.


A string of adorable wooden and plaid trees, from Target’s dollar spot, and stockings identified by initials hang from railroad spikes.


I’d love to get a few bigger brush trees to add more height and color on the sides.  New stockings are also on my to do list, since these aren’t my favorite.  I don’t think the boys really appreciate the dangly beads on theirs.


Another super holiday addition is a red plaid throw and a vase of evergreen branches clipped from our trees.


No mess, no stress, and all is easily stored away once the season has passed.

White Versus Colorful Mats

Seven months ago, I found a beautiful vintage dresser on Craigslist, begged Ben to come with me to buy/haul it, and have loved it since.  In that post, near the end, I had taped up a gorgeous Emily Jeffords print that I planned to frame and hang above.

Craigslist-Dresser-with-Emily-Jeffords-Art-VerticalBecause this wall is large, I knew it needed a proportionately big piece of art to fill it.  I ordered a 30 by 40 inch print, but, turns out, that size is hard to frame.  Initially, I wanted to build a frame, but never took the time.  After extensive searching, I didn’t find any affordable framing options and let it simmer on the back burner.  Well, it only took me seven freaking months to get it done, but now that it is, I adore it.


Recently, while browsing Goodwill, I spotted a large chrome frame with near perfect dimensions.  The simple profile was exactly what I had in mind, keeping the focus directed at the art instead.  As a bonus, it was only fifteen bucks.  Once I got it home, I took the glass, mat, and backing out to give the frame a couple of coats of white paint.  Then, for a little drama, I decided to paint the double mat an olive-green.  Nothing as saturated as the colors in the painting to detract from the art, but enough to add interest.


But, to give the art a little buffer, I added a slim white mat inside to give visual separation between the mat and art.


White mats are readily available, an easy go to, and go with anything and everything I’ve ever framed.  Let’s face it though, it’s a safe, standard choice.


Colored mats add unexpected boost to art, and can highlight the art more than a white mat could.  However, colorful mats don’t belong around all art.  Generally, I like to use colored mats when the art is neutral, like these black and white leaf prints.



Do I think a white mat would look pretty?  Absolutely, but I also think the green gives more visual weight to the art, also bringing a touch of green from the curtains over to this side of the room.


If you’re not quite ready to go that bold, layer a colored mat beneath a white one.


A slim grass-green border, just a quarter to half-inch reveal will emphasize the art without being over bearing.


For a more subtle contrast, pull a color from the art to make a small piece of art seem a bit larger.


White frames are better suited to busier, smaller, or more colorful art because it allows the art to be the stand out.


For extra oomph with white mats, I like to use a thicker board or double up.  I found a precut 11 by 14 inch (inside, 16 by 20 inch outside) double white mat at Hobby Lobby for only five dollars to surround our new house portrait from The Littlest House.

Easy Bathroom Accessories

Utilitarian spaces like kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms are always easier to accessorize than living/bedroom areas, simply because you’re aiming for function.  But function doesn’t have to equal ugly.  To finish off bathrooms, I select items that serve a purpose, are still pleasing to the eye, but aren’t always found in the bath section.  If you’re looking to add character, here are my favorite additions.

  • Cute towels and hooks:  Go crazy and pick a fun pattern and/or color because towels are so easy to swap out.  Near the shower, single label hooks hold peppy striped Turkish towels for a dose of fun.
  • basement-bathroom-finished-from-door-straightFramed mirrors:  I always ditch the builder standard plate-glass mirror in favor of a framed one.  Pretty mirrors are everywhere, so don’t settle for boring!  Our main bathroom sports a vintage campaign style mirror that came with a dresser set.


Our master bath has a unique round metal framed mirror to offset the rigid lines throughout the room.


Another vintage wooden mirror, that came with our bedroom dresser, is a welcome warm addition to the cool neutrals of the basement bathroom.


Also, to get great, flattering lighting, use sconces instead of overhead lights.  Fewer shadows are cast because the sconces light from each side.

  • Add vertical storage shelves:  Short on floor space?  Go up!  In our main bathroom, we removed a wide vanity to add a smaller vanity plus a floor to ceiling shelf stack.  At 16 inches wide, it doesn’t eat up much of our floor plan, but does offer a great deal of storage.

Main Bathroom Shelving

By widening the basement shower, we narrowed the space between it and the door.  Rather than letting that space go to waste, four floating shelves fill the void, putting it to good use.


  • Glass storage:  Especially in bathrooms that guests often use, I like keeping essentials in plain sight.  No one wants to rummage through cabinets to find cotton balls or soap.  Cylindrical jars keep band aids, soap, cotton balls and cotton swabs handy on a shelf in the main bathroom.

Store Toiletries in Sight

A triple stacked glass container on our master bathroom counter is used daily.

Master Bathroom Toilet

Four black lidded canisters fill a basement bathroom shelf, but keep those items out of limited drawer space.


  • Art, preferably without eyes:  Almost anything goes here, but I always feel strange adding art with eyes.  With moisture concerns, I avoid using anything too expensive or precious.  Vintage, almost ugly oil paintings are great.


Or you can think outside the box and hang something different, like vintage arrows.

Cedar-Tub-Shelf-in-BathroomSimple Instagram photos add a bit of color, too.


Near the toilet, an added outlet (on the same circuit as a GFI outlet, so it’s grounded) is a great spot for a little night light, or perhaps a fancy heated toilet seat.

For easy clean up, I prefer relatively clutterless counters.  Even so, I love to add something pretty, like a small plant or picture frame along with a drinking glass and soap.



  • Trays:  To keep drawers and cabinets free for toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc., I corral toilet paper in a wooden tray or basket.

House-Tour-Four-Years-In-Main-Bath-VanityAgain, keeping necessities in sight avoids awkward searching or running out.


  • Upgrade shampoo, conditioner, and soap bottles:  I know my OCD is showing here, but I really love how sleek and fancy real soap pumps make a space feel.


Also handy when you shop at Costco and don’t want to keep a giant bottle in the shower.


  • Extra towels:  Have extra space?  Free up room in the linen closet by keeping towels in the bathroom.  A great accessory, but guests can easily help themselves.


Of course stylish garbage cans and shower curtains never hurt.