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Ding Dong The Mural’s Dead. And Memorialized On My Mantel.

Oh, hi. It’s me. Remember? I’m the girl who sometimes blogs around these parts.

Lately though, instead I’ve been:


I’ve been managing that last one by yoga-ing, painting walls, and basically listing to “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies on repeat.

I don’t know why, but it helps. (There’s a message there, and it’s not just about getting naked with someone.)

Not to make excuses, but it turns out living in coastal Virginia leaves me with a lot less free time than I had while living in central North Carolina. Don’t get me wrong — North Carolina is a beautiful state with plenty to do. (Still, one of my most memorable getaways is Justin’s and my trip to Asheville where one set of strangers secretly bought our dinner and another taught us to swing dance.) It’s just that we didn’t live in the most exciting part of it.

But here in Virginia, right on the water, we have so many options — from Virginia Beach to Williamsburg and even the northern Virginia vineyards and D.C., a slew of entertainment is just a short walk or drive away. We know it, and our friends and family know it. So far in our two years living here we’ve had more overnight guests than seven years in NC. And this is good for 2 reasons:

  1. We really like having visitors, and
  2. It motivates us to update this house much more quickly than our last.

The most noticeable difference is in our front living room.

Let it be known for the record that I’m not a fan of having two separate rooms meant for “living.” (We also have a 4 season sun room, where we spend the majority of our time.) Aside from the time I used it to paint our kitchen cabinets for two months, it’s mostly been a source of neglect and embarrassment — especially since it’s pretty much the only part of our home that’s immediately visible to anyone who walks in the front door.


Also immediately visible upon entering was this stunning wall mural:


Which wasn’t even a mural, but wallpaper designed to look like a mural. My friend Angie and I were able to rip it off in about 45 seconds, which is the BEST luck I’ve ever had with wallpaper. Usually it takes days of work, and orbital sander, and lots of patching.

Don’t mess with an Aussie and her knife.

We learned the previous owners likely placed it there to cover this giant crack in the wall, which we’d already surmised was there since it was actually visible beneath the paper, but still. It wasn’t fun to look at.

Then, while I toiled away at a novel I would eventually break up with due to creative differences, Justin spent weeks patching the cracked and holy plaster throughout the large room, installing shoe molding around the baseboards (there was a gap from when we ripped out the carpet), painting the trim and built-in room divider, and priming the walls.

It was tedious and thankless work, but eventually the MINT GREEN WAS GONE! We then turned up the music on a rainy Saturday and set about painting. It took two full gallons and several hours, but eventually we triumphed.

Before (with the previous owners’ things):


Mint green carpet, walls, curtains, and trim. Mint green EVERYWHERE.

After (with our hodgepodge of stuff we didn’t know what else to do with):


A few things:

  • Yes, those are outdoor rocking chairs. But until we figure out more seating, inside they’ll stay.
  • The mantle isn’t staying like this. Once I actually get brave enough to hang art on our freshly painted walls, this will be less crowded.
  • We still need to replace the light fixtures, add switchplate and outlet covers, and install some window hardware, but at least this is no longer embarrassing when people walk in.
  • The rug is from Overstock and the paint color is Glidden’s Sand White (which we had mixed at Ace to a brand we like better).
  • We left our large Christmas tree in the attic of the place we lived in Georgia 9 years ago and haven’t had room for a big one since. Now that we do have room, I’m too cheap to buy one. Besides, this one makes me think of Charlie Brown.
  • Justin also stripped the forest green front door. I love the natural color and think I will condition it, even though he wasn’t able to get 100% of the green out of the grain. We’ll have to paint the part that faces inside, however, to cover up screws and scratches. Any suggestions?
  • I turned the built-in cabinet into a bookshelf to hide all of our embarrassing series (think Star Wars and Twilight), but many of the books are too tall and I don’t love how it looks. I’ll have to re-think this.

I’m not going to lie.

As nice as the entryway is beginning to look, a small, twisted part of my soul actually misses that crazy mural.

So to cope, I might have saved a scrap.

And I might have framed it.

Fortunately, it goes really well with the ugly wreath and garland I bought back in 2003.


Listen, guys. It’s my house and I’ll do what I want.

And sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe, a scrap of wall mural, a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, and to love you.


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Colleen Brynn

Oh man, I read this and thought about your insane world map and thought something happened to it, and I was like NO! and now I’m relieved.
Listen, you are still one of the most talented people I know when it comes to this kind of house re-doing. I will probably be sending you terrified snapshots of my future house with messages like “WHAT NOW?” haha


Oooh that would have sucked!!! And it’s totally not protected at all so *quickknockonwood*.

Lol we’re not that talented — we just dig in and figure stuff out as we go! That’s the biggest thing, is dealing with that gross in-between mess while you figure stuff out. You can DO it! :)


ARRRGGGG…I am all confused with where you live! Did you recently move? Like over Thanksgiving? ANYWAY…..MOM…ha, ha, ha…just kidding………and super cool that S. Brown just responds to you like that…you kick some butt on twitter! Brava!


Haaah I know how I confused you! (Sorry, I meant to respond to your other comment and then took a blogging hiatus and forgot about it. :) ) ANYWAY, we’ve lived in Virginia for 2 years and lived in NC for 7 years before that. But you thought I was only just recently moving because I re-posted an old Black Friday post on Facebook. (In that post, I talked about our upcoming — now two years ago — move.) Does that make sense? Either way, it’s not nearly as exciting as moving to Italy!!


Those are quite the before and afters. The ceiling looks higher! I like your book shelves, but if you’re looking for a change, I’ve had nice success with colour-blocking mine. Love the rug!


The ceiling actually feels higher in there! I think it’s having defined moldings… their walls/crown/baseboards/bookshelf/window trim/fireplace were ALL the same dull, dirty mint before. It was nuts. By color blocking, do you mean painting the back? I love that look!


Looks like you figured this out, but I just meant grouping your books by colour. (My design projects are not nearly as labour-intensive as yours.)


You get so much natural light in your house! I’m jealous, all of our windows face either north or south and we get a lot of shade, so we don’t get that lovely sun! I love that you kept a piece of the old mural in a frame, RIP wallpaper. You will be remembered, but not fondly!
I bought a house a few years back with the intention of fixing up, but nothing drastic. Painting, refinishing hardwoods after tearing out old carpet, tiling bathrooms, etc. MAN is it a lot of work! You have quite the eye for it though, looks cozy and inviting!


I’ll tell you what — the light is a trick of the camera. ;) This is a 1950’s ranch, so the only room we actually get really good natural light in is the sun room. This (east-ish) facing room does get decent light in the morning, but it’s pretty direct and then heads above the low roof line.

It sure is funny what we consider “not drastic” before we’ve ever had to do the work, huh? Even painting a room (especially if the trim needs painting and the walls need patching) is a lot more work than HGTV lets on!


Yeah, home posts! Being that I am not a renovator, I always appreciate people who are – so much talent! You don’t have to apologize for focusing on other things. Life is all about ebbs and flows.


Yeah we’re not renovators either. Funny how we keep ending up in homes that need work. ;)


I have been recently watching a lot of episodes of renovation shows on HGTV, renovating is definitely an adventure!

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