Cottage: Living Area

As promised, I have a progress update to share with you! Despite our bad news about the well last week we thoroughly enjoyed a long overdue visit to our cottage and time with family.  We had time to discuss a game plan to take care of the well, checked a few small items off the to-do list, also cleaned and organized the living area….

To jog your memory…this is where we started


then it got “worse” before we could make it better

And now…

A couple of my favorite features not shown in the views above

As you can probably tell…we both love the color blue

My uncle found the oars for us and with a couple of cans of spray paint we were able to add  some pops of color on our wood wall.  The mirrors came from Hobby Lobby (1/2 off!) and those are heavy-duty Command Hooks.  It is a small space so we want to keep the decor simple but to add interest we focused on using different shades of blue, patterns & textures.

There are still some finishing touches, but for the most part that space is DONE and it feels so good. We are still on the hunt for the “perfect” recliner for Mark to add to the space, it will have to be just right as far as size & scale…I know it is out there somewhere.

I have more to share later this week so make sure to check back!



Cottage: Well…shoot

Earlier this week I mentioned I wouldn’t be posting again until next week (which I didn’t plan on)…but since then we received some less than ideal news…we will have to put in a new well at our cottage.  There have been some issues with the running water over the last few months that got progressively worse. We were hoping for the best, that it would be an easy fix, but alas that’s not the case.  There are some potential temporary workarounds that will buy us a little time until we get it figured out.

I’m sharing this because unexpected expenses and setbacks are part of the game when it comes to remodels & renovations, and they can happen at any point.  As discouraging as it can be, you have to learn to roll with the punches…not something that comes naturally to but I’m working on it.

This doesn’t take away from our excitement, or our satisfaction in the amazing progress that has been made.  We’ll be heading North early tomorrow morning and will be able to discuss a game plan over the weekend.   Onward!






Cottage: We Miss You

Quick post today…It has been nearly 3 months since we’ve been back to our little cottage (insert sad face here) We miss it, along with everything that comes with it…seeing family & friends in MI, the progress, the relaxation that comes with being near the lake.  BUT…we’ll be heading back at the end of this week for short weekend trip.  If you remember from this post we reached the milestone of sleeping there for the first time and haven’t been back since.

We hope to make some progress on our punch list while we are there, along with decorating and organizing.  Our main goal this trip will be to get the cottage ready to use and enjoy for the summer.  I honestly can’t convey how exciting it is to be at this point.

Since we’ll be traveling, this will be my only post for this week.  I promise I’ll catch you up on our progress when we get back.

In the meantime, you can check out my IG (@by.the.poole) for some sneak peeks over the weekend. Also, you can catch up on our progress under “the cottage” menu tab.

I wish you all a Happy Easter!




Auction Anyone?

What are you doing this weekend? Looking for something different?  If you’ve never been to an auction there is no time like the present.

Mark and I started to going auctions a few years ago and became enamoured with the whole experience.  We have found unique and special items, we have flipped a few things to make a profit, and had a lot of fun doing so.  Some of our most favorite pieces in our house (like these copper kettles) are from auctions.

We have learned a few things along the way… 

First, come prepared.  Auctions are often several hours long and the one thing you might have your eye on may take a while to get to which means you need to be comfortable.  You will need to know what payment methods are accepted and have the means to transport your purchases.  Next, know your limit.  It is easy to get carried away with the excitement and get carried away during bidding.  We have made the mistake of paying more than we wanted (or should have) because we got wrapped up in the moment…its an adrenaline rush!  Last, don’t get discouraged.  You will get outbid.  I have found myself immediately attached to an item I felt like I “had to have” and the bidding ended up going far beyond our limit…it wasn’t meant to be.

The most important thing is that we truly enjoy going to auctions, regardless of what we may or may not come home with.

Ready to check one out? A great resource (that we use regularly) to find local auctions  is Auction Zip. You can type in your zip code/range/date/etc and it will show a list of area auctions with location, time, and even photo previews of what will be offered.  We typically stick to estate or antique auctions.

If you are an auction frequenter, or end up going for your first time, I would LOVE for you to share your favorite buys!






Spring Cleaning Part 2: Out

Well today is officially the first day of Spring!…now we just need Mother Nature to play along so it actually feels like it.

In Part 1 I shared my Spring cleaning to-do list.  In the spirit of full transparency, I will admit is nowhere near done yet.  Mark and I still need to pick a day to really knock it out; but I’m telling myself I have plenty of time.

Now that the weather SHOULD be nicer soon, it is almost time to move things outside…

  1. Treat lawn 

    We keep it simple with a combo of fertilizer & weed preventer applied once in the Spring & again in the fall.  Our neighbor has an immaculate lawn and there is no use trying to compete with him.   As long as I don’t have a yard covered in dandelions I’m happy.

  2. Spruce up flower beds

    Pull weeds, prune bushes, apply Preen (weed preventer) add fresh mulch and possibly a few new flowers. It amazes me each year how much of a difference this makes.

  3. Prep patio

    Clean off furniture, pull out cushions from storage, clean grill, refill propane tanks, new potted plants, and see what cute new decorations I may come across.

  4. Clean exterior  

    Spray with house wash & clean out dryer vent…not the most glamorous tasks but necessary.  I’ll also keep an eye out for a hanging basket & potted plant for the front porch.

  5. Clean Garage 

    Nothing fancy…Sweep, organize, sort out items to donate, store seasonal items.


Anything on your Spring Cleaning to-do list  that I missed?

Did you already get a head start?







Decorating For All

If you share your home with another person or people, chances are good you may need to take them into consideration when it comes to decorating.  Perhaps you could cover your entire house top to bottom in ultra feminine pastel florals and your husband wouldn’t care in the slightest…then I stand corrected in your case.  Whether you live with your spouse, partner, friend, children or otherwise, I believe it is important for everyone to feel comfortable in their home.

Over the years we have been together, Mark has taken more of an interest in our home decor and appearance.  I enjoy his input and he has good taste…I’m going to take partial credit for that. As much as this pains me to say, there have even been a few occasions in which I disagreed with Mark’s design choice but ended up happier with the result he chose.  Even if we aren’t selecting something together, I still try to consider his preferences and point of view in addition to what I like.  Because of this, we have reached a balance of masculine & feminine details in our home that represents us both.

How can you accomplish this? Here are 3 things I try to consider…

1.Compromise with Color

Example: Blush & weathered blue; Muted tones can be easier to blend and neutrals are always a safe bet.

2.Mix Materials

Example: Leather or burlap & lace; Blending different textures such as these keeps from going in a direction that is either too hard or too soft

3.Play with Patterns

Example: Paisley with plaid; Focus on coordinating or complimentary colors so you don’t have to worry about looking too random

And if those don’t help, you can always…

4: Assign Spaces

Example: Man cave or a she shed; This is more extreme and requires the living space to accommodate, but I know plenty of people who have made this work.  You do you!








Mission: Gallery Wall

Looking to make a statement? A gallery wall can be the perfect way to do so (and avoid the hassle of painting an accent wall).  Gallery walls can beautifully showcase collections of favorite family photos, artwork, objects and whatever else your heart may desire.

There is a particular wall we have in mind to turn into a gallery wall.  We have collected a few items so far we want to include; but I know we will need some direction putting it all together so I started searching for some inspiration…

First, I found all of  these great examples on
Next, all of these beautiful gallery wall photos from

There are endless possibilities when it comes to elements and combinations to create a gallery wall.  Now it is time to get to work on ours!

Which is your favorite? Do you have a gallery wall in your home? I’d love to see it!



Downsized Update

Mark and I had grand ideas about doing a complete overhaul of our living room…we were going to completely reconfigure our furniture, mount the tv over the fireplace, looked into buying a sectional…until we did a mock-up with our current furniture and it was terrible (I alluded to this here) Sometimes things are better in your imagination than in reality, this was one of those times.

BUT…that did not keep us from making some updates to our living room, albeit more subtle ones.  My Mom and I were just talking about this a few weeks ago, because she is doing the same thing at her house.  You don’t always have to buy a lot of new or expensive  items to make a difference. Incorporating a few inexpensive new pieces or just rearranging what you already have can still make an impact.

In this case, we did end up purchasing some new pieces.  This was not a one day trip. This occurred several days over several weeks at several stores (bless Mark for his patience when it comes to this stuff).

First, I wanted to find lighting that would coordinate but not necessarily all match, we ended up with lamps from 3 different stores

  1. Mix & Match lamp & shade From Target
  2. Accent lamp from Hobby Lobby
  3. Pair of  floor lamps from T.J. Maxx

Next…we flanked our sofa with this pair of C-Tables from Pier 1. They are multifunctional, easy to move around as needed, the storage is a nice feature, and the look reminds me of antique school desks.  Oh, and Ruby loves running under them.

Saving the best for last…after a great deal of searching we found an Ottoman on display (and on sale!) at our local LA-Z-BOY that was the perfect style/scale but I wasn’t crazy about the pattern. Then we were reminded that we could order it with a custom fabric choice and the sale price would still qualify.  As we were looking through the samples one of the Managers came up and showed me this fabric that was just released and wasn’t on display yet.  It took approximately .5 seconds to say YES! It has all of the colors in our living room and I LOVE the pattern…considering ordering a few toss pillows in this fabric.  This is the second time we have placed a custom order through this store and it has been well worth the wait!

We didn’t end up with a dramatic transformation but our living room does feel updated; a few friends have even noticed a difference.  This downsized version was also more affordable and proved bigger isn’t always better.

What BIG or SMALL projects do you have in the works?





Spring Cleaning Part 1: In

A few weeks ago Mark nearly made me swoon… he mentioned (out of nowhere) that we should pick a weekend soon to go through the house room by room and deep clean together.  Yes please!

We have a pretty even divide of regular “chores” that suits us both well.  For example: he does the floors/I do the bathrooms…he mows/ I weed the flower beds.  However, even as a team, a full seasonal clean can still be a daunting task.

Here’s an idea of what our Spring Cleaning will entail, starting with Part 1: Inside

1. Seasonal wardrobe change

I actually enjoy this one, swap out fall/winter clothes in closet & dresser for spring/summer clothes in totes under the bed.  Also, sort out any clothes for donation.

2. Move & clean under/behind…

This includes appliances (I can’t tell you the last time our fridge has been moved so that should be fun) and all furniture to sweep/vacuum/dust areas that are usually unreachable

3. Tackle the nooks & crannies

Baseboards, stray cobwebs in corners and on ceiling, vents, “wash the walls” as my mom would say, anything that gets missed in daily/weekly cleaning

4. Edit & organize

Clean out all expired items including food from pantry and fridge, medicine and personal care products from bathrooms and re-organize respective storage areas

5. General Maintenance

Change out water & air filters (we do this quarterly), touch up any scuffs on walls, tighten lose toilet paper holder…you get the idea

Spring cleaning may not be fun per se, but it always feels worth it.  My house feels fresher and it allows more free time to enjoy the warmer weather once it arrives.

Speaking of weather, hopefully before long we’ll be ready for Part 2: Out…stay tuned!







Cottage: Butcher Block

It’s been a minute since my last cottage update. No cause for alarm, we haven’t been Up North since early January and we’re down to miscellaneous punch list items to complete.  We will be back for a quick weekend at the end of end of March, after which I will hopefully have some exciting “reveals” to share with you.

So in the meantime…I’m going to backtrack and share a little about the countertops we selected for the kitchen.

Here are a few reasons why we decided on butcher block

  1. I/We like they way they look (most important)
  2. Affordability (almost most important)
  3. Cohesive with our other natural elements (cork floors, pine plank walls, etc)
  4. Easy install (thanks Pop!)

We purchased birch butcher block slabs & backsplash from Lowes, conditioned with 4 coats of food grade mineral oil/natural wax, cut down to size, cut out sink hole, installed countertops then backsplash.

The total cost was around $500 which is very reasonable compared to other countertop options.  The butcher block is a perfect complement to the floors and walls and I love the variations in the grain and colors.

Disclaimer: butcher block must be conditioned periodically to prevent it from drying out and cracking, and you have to be cautions with scratches and spills, but we don’t mind.

Interested in butcher block? Here is some information I found helpful:

7 Things to Know Before Installing Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher Block and Wood Countertops

All About Wood Countertops
















Recent Reads

Reading is relaxing for me.  There is nothing better than becoming fully immersed in a new book which often involves staying up way too late to read “just one more chapter.”  I’ll admit I do appreciate the convenience of e-books, but there is something about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages that can’t be replaced.  My mom shares this feeling, and she has been an avid reader my entire life…which is probably where I got it from.

I am always on the look-out for my next book to dive into. I’ll be honest, there are some books I have abandoned part-way through (gasp) because I just couldn’t “get into it”. Here are 4 of my recent reads that I think are worth checking out.  I will refrain from sharing too much detail because that is the beauty of reading…

The Magnolia Story

Chip Gaines, Joanna Gaines, and Mark Dagostino

Capital Gaines

Chip Gaines


I read The Magnolia Story first and was excited when they announced Chip’s book Capital Gaines.  I even got a free Magnolia t-shirt for pre-ordering, BONUS!  Both of these books give insight into the history of the Gaines family and how Magnolia became a household name.  Even though some of the subject matter may be similar the tone and perspective between the two books is very unique and you feel like you get a real glimpse of their lives far beyond what we see on HGTV.  They share so much heart and love, and who couldn’t use a little more of that?  In my opinion, you don’t have to be a fan of Fixer Upper to enjoy these, their stories stand on their own. Visiting Waco and Magnolia Market is already on my travel “bucket list” and these just added more fuel to the fire.

Of Mess And Moxie

Jen Hatmaker

Girl, Wash Your Face

Rachel Hollis


I first saw Jen a few years ago when she was on My Big Family Renovation on HGTV and I fell in love with her sense of humor.  I have read several of her books since and Of Mess And Moxie is her most recent.  It was actually through Jen’s social media that I was “introduced” to Rachel Hollis and in turn Girl, Wash Your Face.  Let me tell you…these ladies are strong, sincere and FUNNY.  Both of these books will make you reflect, laugh, and maybe even cry a little.  There were moments reading these books that I felt like the authors were sitting right next to me chatting over a cup of coffee…I definitely want to in real life.  Aside from just the entertainment value of a good read…both of these books would be great for book clubs, personal development, or gifts.

All 4 of these books are available on Amazon (Prime!)…if you are like me and love a good hardcover, they are all around $15.00 or less.

What have you been reading lately?


That One Room

I know at least some of you have one too…that one room in the house that is both multipurpose while simultaneously serving no single purpose well at all.

Sometimes we refer to it as the spare room, sometimes the office because there is a desk and bookshelf in there.  Occasionally we have used it as a secondary guest room, but most of the time we just use it to shove things we don’t know what else to do with, like a giant junk drawer.  Immediately after Thanksgiving it turns in to a staging area for Christmas decorations and a wrapping station, and that usually lasts until mid-January. There is a reason that door is always closed when we have company. 

This isn’t the first time this room has been a topic on here..there was this previous attempt  to make the room more pleasing to the eye. I really like some of the vintage/sports “theme” items we have collected, and would like to keep them.  However, those elements quickly get overshadowed by all of the clutter.

In my last post I talked about goals but I neglected this one…THIS will be the year THAT ONE ROOM will get a real purpose and be treated as such. I’m not exactly sure yet what that will be, probably an office, to be continued…


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