Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

You know that house in blogland or on Instagram (or in your neighborhood) where everything about it seems absolutely perfect? Well, I think “perfect” can be a misunderstood standard. Especially in our own home.

What does perfect mean to you?

Will a house be perfect if you can spend a lot of money on it? Is it perfect if it has every feature you need or the exact layout you want or is the style you’ve always dreamed about? Is it perfect only if it is in the right location? Or is it perfect if every choice is on trend or makes an Instagram-worthy photo? Is it perfect if everything in it functions the way it should?

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

I found this definition of perfect online:

perfect: having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

I feel like the part about having all the required or desirable elements leaves the measuring stick of perfection up to our own interpretation. Which, as Martha would say, is actually very good thing. 

If you decide to set very few limitations on what you deem as required, achievable or desirable qualities, a high standard of comparison to someone else can determine whether or not you have “all the required and desirable elements.”

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

But if your expectation for what is required and desirable is “lower” (perhaps because it takes into account your own priority goals and expectations), what is “perfect” for you right now could take on a different meaning.

You know what I mean? No?

Well, let me try to explain.

Exactly two years ago we bought this house in Seattle. The market was and has been crazy here. So as I mentioned while we were house hunting, we knew we’d have to make some compromises to what house would be “perfect for us.” Our desired location lowered our expectations for the house we’d be buying, haha.

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

Fortunately, we were able to find a solidly built older home that actually feels nice to be in. That was a win, very few houses we looked at had “that warm homey feeling.”  You can’t really put a price tag on a home (or a life) that just feels right. That “feeling” ended up being one of our main criterion for choosing a house, even over a particular style or size.

This house didn’t have every feature I would have listed for my perfect “dream house,” but because it “felt right” we knew in time we could make it our own.

Making it our own doesn’t require that we make the design perfect, but rather, it is about creating a home that “feels right” for your family in the season you are in.

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts about our home, I’m increasingly finding myself drawn to simplicity. Not just in designing my home (although this house definitely seems to feel best when we use a certain amount of restraint), but simplicity in life!

Simple decisions all around feel the best to our family right now.

Rather than using perfection or a comparison to someone else’s high standard as a measuring stick, we are trying to use simplicity as one of our main standards for making decisions.

With simplicity as our goal, we can more easily learn to be content with what we can do (or with what are willing to invest in) during this season. 

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

So what does all of this have to do with painting our stone fireplace white?

You might remember that back when we painted our fireplace gray that I had said I wasn’t sure I’d want white stone. Painting the stone gray made sense to me, so gray it was! I knew it would serve our space well for the time-being. Paint wasn’t the “ultimate” fix I dreamed of, but it was the simplest and best choice for us in that season.

I thought by this point in time I’d be ripping out the stone anyway and putting in my dream fireplace. But even if we had to wait for many years, I told myself that I could always try to paint the fireplace white the next time I wanted a fresh new look.

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

When I got the itch recently to make some updates to our living room, I really thought the time had come to rip out the fireplace and start over. But when I used simplicity as my guide, I realized that once again that the simplest way to make changes was to apply a new paint color to the fireplace.

I reminded myself that if I didn’t like it or grew tired of it in time, I could always take a more drastic (and expensive, ha) approach when I was more prepared to tackle a bigger project with a bigger budget.

But that day was not today. Or that week. Or this summer. Or this year.

So, we painted it white!

And you know what? I’m totally OK with it. In fact, I think I actually like it white. I definitely like it better than I thought I would. It feels like a fresh, simple and clean backdrop for the room. So, now I’m extra excited about decorating for fall and Christmas! And all it took was some paint.

I’m even starting to feel OK with leaving the fireplace as it is for awhile, at least for as long as it makes sense. Because in this season in our life, simple actually feels almost perfect. You know what I mean?

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

And if you’re wondering what this fireplace looked like when we moved in, below is a flash back to the before!

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

Do you ever find yourself craving a life of greater simplicity? How does that play into the design of your home?

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover


Fireplace and wall paint color – Simply White Benjamin Moore

Mirror (mine was purchased locally but I believe this is the same one!)

Watercolor quote artwork on mantel

Rattan daybed

Gray and white pom pillow

Woven basket in fireplace

Birch logs

Woven Shades


Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity

We are coming up on our two year anniversary of moving into our home! Even though in many ways it feels like we’ve lived here for a long time, in other ways I feel like this home and property and I are still getting acquainted.

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity

I was thrilled last summer (our first summer here) to find a giant old lacecap hydrangea bush growing in our backyard. It felt like a gift! We had a large blue hydrangea in one of our past gardens, too. I had missed it so much.

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity

The bush is blooming and so beautiful right now, but we aren’t able to see it from the yard or house because the whole bush is hiding behind a large hedge. It obviously would have been ideal planted within view of the windows or patio, but instead I can just take a walk to visit the hydrangea as if it is blooming in a secret garden, tucked away so its joy can be discovered.

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity

I think every house I have lived in has taught me a little something about life and design. Do you find that to be true where you live, too? This house is already shaping my perspective in many ways, as it inspires me to embrace its simplicity and find joy in what that brings to my life.

Part of what will make a home beautiful each season is just slowing down so you can better appreciate what is already there. What your home offers or already has available may not be on everyone’s list of “must haves” but it’s something you happen to love or can grow to feel or find happiness in. Slowing down involves simplifying, so you can actually see the beauty around you.

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity

The beauty found in simplicity may not even be obvious at first glance, especially to anyone else. Simple joys are found in our surroundings are not because they necessarily shout “look at me, I’m amazing!” but because they quietly delight you. Delight is what you feel when something wonderful takes you by surprise.

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity

Simplicity is subtle, so the joy found in it can sneak up on you. It’s like an unexpected gift you receive only when you are paying attention to how you feel in your surroundings. To me simplicity doesn’t have to be defined by a certain color palette or decorating style. I think of it more as what you might miss out on if you are distracted by stuff that is shouting for attention. It might be clutter or accessories or colors or really anything that distracts rather than delights you.

What distracts you in your home may be different from what distracts me in mine. Photos can’t even really capture what simplicity feels like in a home, it’s such a personal thing.

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity

Simple joys in a home are found through experiences like the warm sunshine streaming through a room on a cool morning, or the delight of a breeze gently blowing curtains through an open window. Simple joys can even be discovered through the serenity you feel when your counters are clean, or the deep breath you can take after you’ve decluttered a long-neglected closet.

Even the sound of laughter in the house on a lazy summer day is a reminder that it’s not the material things we have or add or buy that transform our home. It’s simple joys that can change us from the inside out.

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity

Perhaps (like me) you want to feel a sense of delight in something as simple as placing a freshly cut bouquet from your yard in a lovely vase. Like I do, you might have to pare down, slow down, eliminate the unnecessary, or put forth a little extra effort to get to that place of simplicity. But, I think it’s worth it.

Our simplified surroundings invite those bright blue hydrangeas to really show off and take a place of honor in the room all summer long.

Simple joys, friends, Simple joys. 

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity


PS. If you missed my latest news, I’m writing a fun new book on decorating. But, I need your help! This book will feature questions and answers on decorating. The cool thing is the questions will be from YOU, my online buddies! YAY! Can  you think of some decorating or style questions you’d like me to answer in a book? Questions can be submitted via the form in this post.  Thanks, friends! <3

Dining room sources:

Scroll the arrows below to shop:

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity

Sources and details:

Gray ceramic table lamps and linen lampshades

Vase – HomeGoods

Watercolor floral pillow

Sisal rug

Rattan chairs: sold out from World Market (similar: 1 // 2)

Ombre beaded chandelier (or similar chandelier)

Woven window shades


Parsons chairs (round-up of options, mine are RH)

Peacock art print

Crane art print

Blue honeycomb pillows

Round white rattan mirror

Copper planter

Polish pottery

Striped banquette bench

Wall color: Simply White Benjamin Moore

Shiplap Wall Details

Kitchen Reveal & Sources

Summer Decorating: Finding Joy in Simplicity