We’re back with another round of our most asked about home projects and purchases! We tend to receive several of the same questions about varying items and DIYs throughout our home, and this is a fun way for us to keep you in the loop on the durability and longevity of those choices. Plus, it’s always a good gut check for us to see what’s working – or what’s not. (Because your home should work for you, not against you!) Anytime we notice a recurring question float through our inbox, we add it to a running list so that we can compile all the answers into one place, to live on the blog, for everyone, forever. (No pressure.) Are y’all ready for Updates 2.0? Let’s go!
Psst: You can check out our first round of questions right here, where we dive into everything from the laundry room off of the master bedroom, our white kitchen cabinets, those floating workshop shelves and more!
On choosing white tile + light grout in bath and kitchen:
We chose matte white subway tile for both our master bathroom and our kitchen backsplash. When we considered grout colors, we opted to stay away from high contrast, and instead we landed on soft gray grout lines in both spaces. In doing so, we kept these rooms fresh and bright, taking advantage of the natural light that we receive in our home! We were met with concerns that the lighter grout would be difficult to keep clean in these high traffic rooms, but we took the so-called risk, sealed the grout and crossed our fingers.
Would we do it again?
Yup! The matte white tile cleans up just as easy as a glossier tile, and the grout has proven to be incredibly durable! Any concerns about lighter grout being harder to maintain went completely out the window after a few weeks. Pasta sauce splatters near the stove and splashing dish water behind the sink are no match for this bright and easy choice. In the shower, the white + gray combo has held up to countless scrubs, and for a deeper clean, we use a bristle brush to really get in there.
See our completed bathroom here and our kitchen renovation here.
On those DIY laundry sorting bags:
When we renovated our second floor bathroom, we moved a wall to take space from our soon-to-be laundry room off of the master bedroom, which in turn would make way for a larger bathroom. We knew the smaller footprint of the laundry room would require us to think vertically and keep storage solutions up and off of the floor, and that’s when our laundry sorting solution was born! It was designed to help sort laundry into different loads and make use of wall space, as opposed to taking up valuable floor space.
Would we do it again?
Yes, but probably slightly differently. The wood plank with brass hooks has worked out perfectly. It’s a sturdy and handsome solution to keep holes in the wallpaper to a minimum in case our needs ever change, and we wouldn’t alter this part of the design a bit. The bags, however, are beginning to show their age – which we suppose is to be expected after a handful of years? The finish on the plastic grommets are starting to chip, and although the canvas bags themselves have held up well, the fabric is starting to pull away from the snap-on grommets. (This may or may not be because we sometimes overstuff them!) I’ve been considering ordering new bags and having brass / metal grommets installed that are more durable and permanent.
See how we made our DIY laundry sorting station here, and here’s the laundry room reveal!
On the comfort of our Mello sectional:
After lots of careful measuring and an exhaustive search, we landed on the Mello sectional from Article as the focal point of our Tree House living room. We’ve been lounging on the Mello for over a year now, and you all want to know, do we still love it as much as our initial review?
Would we choose it again?
Heck. Yes. The Mello is one of our favorite Tree House decisions so far. The leather is incredibly soft, but still crazy durable. It’s beginning to wear ever-so-slightly in all the right ways, and she’s looking fantastic. I personally love how the low-slung, chunky design of Mello keeps her looking tidy, if that makes sense? Like, the seat and the seat back are still tight, so there’s no need to smooth or fluff every time you get up. Also, here’s a testament to Mello’s durability: One evening after returning home from dinner, we saw that Jack had nestled himself into the sofa while we were away. He has a habit of ‘digging’ to create the perfect nook (even if there’s nothing to dig), and as a result, there were very noticeable scratch marks. I think our hearts stopped for a moment – the scratches seemed as though they would be beyond repair, but we immediately wiped it down with leather conditioner, buffed, wiped and buffed again… and they disappeared. So, two things: Not only did Jack’s scratching not puncture the thick leather, but the quality of the material was able to withstand the damage!
Read about our first Mello impression here, and did you see that it’s now available in a light tan?
grey rug | cream bedding | quilt | headboard | sconces
About those Baxter rugs in the studio and bedroom:
The Baxter rug from Crate & Barrel comes in 546 different colors and 112 different sizes (okay, not really, but it does come in 9 colors and 5 sizes), so the hardest decision is which color will you choose? It’s thick and plush underfoot, 100% wool and has a hint of a heather effect, making it feel so cool and lived in from the start.
Would we choose it again?
Yes and yes! We have the grey Baxter in our bedroom and the indigo in the studio, and both have both held up incredibly well over the last few years. They’re heavy and solid, so they stay put without much effort, although we do like to layer them with a rug pad. (These pads are our favorite!) They barely shed and they’re woven so tightly that when spills and mishaps occasionally occur, things tend to wipe up with very little effort. We’ve searched high and low for a better do-it-all solid color rug, and we’re pretty sure this one takes the throne.
See our master bedroom Baxter here and our studio Baxter here.
pendant light | sconce | pouf | rug | curtains | side table | rocker (similar)
On choosing a white rocking chair in the nursery:
The white rocking chair has been the central feature of Lucy’s nursery for the last year. We purchased the ‘Urban’ rocker from Pottery Barn Kids, but it looks like it has since been replaced with the ‘Phoenix‘, which is very similar in style – sleek and simple, perfect for small spaces. Our rocker has some hours (days? weeks? months?) on it. From late-night feedings to reading books before bed, it might actually be easier to count the hours (er, days, weeks, months) that someone wasn’t sitting in it!
Would we choose it again?
Me: Probably yes. Scott: Probably no. The biggest issue is that the seat padding has condensed over time, and since there’s not a removable cushion, there is no way to fluff it or flip it over occasionally for more even wear. The smaller issue is that there is a barely imperceptible outline of bleed through from our jeans, but that will likely come out with a deep clean now that Lucy is no longer nursing and the chair will get a much needed break. I’m chalking the latter up to the light color of the fabric. In hindsight, we probably should have treated the fabric with Scotch guard, but we weren’t thinking clearly in those early newborn days! I think the reason that the rocker is questioned so often is the choice of white. Although our jeans have slightly discolored the fabric, we’ve been otherwise impressed with the fabric’s ability (we chose an ivory performance velvet) to repel stains from, you know, baby stuff. Any spit ups or dog slobbers have wiped right up with ease! I definitely have a sentimental attachment to the chair, so perhaps that’s why my opinion would skew towards yes!, plus, it’s so perfectly petite while still being comfortable. Scott, on the other hand, thinks that an investment chair should look a little less disheveled after one year. We both agree that a removable seat cushion that can be flipped would have solved the issue!
Check out our nursery reveal, featuring the Urban rocker, here.
On the durability of our DIY kitchen island (from a dresser!):
In an attempt to find the perfect marriage of form and function in the center of our kitchen, we turned a thrifted dresser into a kitchen island fit our very specific needs. Near-black paint and a custom rock hard maple butcher block top both tied in and contrasted nicely with the other finishes in our all-white kitchen.
Would we do it again?
Without a doubt! The island looks as great today as the day we finished it. We (and all of our friends and family!) absolutely love it. The DIY island remains the centerpiece and workhorse of our kitchen. It acts as a gathering spot, a buffet for serving up pot luck meals and a perfect bar top for mixing drinks. The butcher block is aging beautifully with proper care and a frequent oil. The paint was protected with several coats of satin Polycryclis, and it’s holding up to all the abuse that two big dogs, a baby, and a rotating cast of adults can dish out.
Here’s how we DIY-ed the island, and you can see the full kitchen reveal right here.
sectional | coffee table | brass sconce | floor lamp | large art | pouf
About that pearly white fabric on our Gaba sectional:
We love the Mello sectional from Article so much, that it was an easy decision to shop from Article again in our Chicago home. The Gaba sectional has only been a part of our lives for a few short months, and more than a few people have expressed concern over the decision to place an off-white sofa in a house that’s as full of slobbery dogs and babies as ours is. (We totally get it.) So, how’s it going so far, you ask?
Would we do it again?
You guys. A resounding YES! Before we committed to the ‘Pearl’ fabric, we ordered a sample to see to see it up close, but most importantly, we perform the kitty claw scratch test. This test involves attempting to absolutely destroy a fabric swatch with a sturdy thumbtack in order to replicate the effects of little Libby’s razor claws. If the fabric holds up to the kitty claw scratch test, we move on to the the spilled red wine test. That test involves, you guessed it, dipping the fabric swatch into red wine and attempting to clean it. And then we move on to coffee. And then we rub it all over our pups to see how much hair it attracts! The Pearl fabric of our Gaba passed all tests. We think that there’s enough variation in the fabric to conceal use over time, and since owning Gaba, we (and our guests) have already spilled beer, wine and cake on the fabric. We treated the Gaba with Scotchgard before using it, and the stains wipe right up with a bit of dish soap and water. In terms of comfort, the seats are deeeep, although firm. The back cushions are down-filled and soft. We like that the covers are completely removable and all the cushions can be flipped and fluffed as needed. In short? We love this sofa and it loves us right back.
Check out our living room refresh with the Gaba sofa here.
drawer hardware | toaster | butter bell | marble pastry board
On the DIY corner dog food station:
As a part of our kitchen renovation, we incorporated this DIY feeding station for Jack and CC. I would like to pretend that we didn’t agonize over the solution, but let’s face it, our dogs rule this roost. In the end, we customized a corner spot that would keep their food off the floor at a comfortable height for them, and we hung a painting of each pup over their respective bowls. Naturally.
Would we do it again?
Probably? The station itself is holding up wonderfully! It cleans up with a microfiber cloth, although the stainless bowls have left a slight reddish ring around the opening over time (but it’s not visible once the bowls are in place). Jack and CC love it, we can easily mop underneath it, and we think it’s minimal and attractive. The issue isn’t so much about the station itself, but more about how messy our dogs are! The drywall behind the station definitely gets some abuse, and water that dribbles behind the station has caused the caulk to crack (and get mildew-y – ew!) on the baseboard below. We may need to apply a thick line of silicone caulk around the edge to protect the wall above and below, which we should have done at the start. Another thought if you DIY your own: Leave enough space behind the bowl openings so that they’re not as close to the wall and add a line of silicone where the station meets the wall.
See how we DIY-ed this corner station here.
Friends, that’s a wrap on 2.0! And now we start the list fresh for next time – ha! Are there any projects, purchases, renovations, anything – like, anything – you’ve wondered about? We’re over here, taking notes.
PS: If you’re wondering where we got a specific item in our home, you can always shop our Chicago house and Tree House!
Thanks for sharing! We’re thinking about creating the laundry station you made. Would you purchase the same laundry bags again or are you searching for new ones?
We’ve been super happy with the bags! If anything, I might order the next size up.
Thanks for sharing!! This is such a helpful recap. I’ve been considering a version of the dog food station for our home and your tip is definitely worth noting :)
Thank you for sharing updates and home! You guys should be professional fabric testers! Our favorite has to be that awesome kitchen island from a dresser. Looking forward to more. :)
I love how you tested the fabric for the sofa. We always just buy ikea sofas because the covers are removable and washable. I wish more manufacturers did that!
I was wondering if you had thought about tiling the little corner around the doggy bowls. It might look really cute, like it’s the dogs little kitchen nook.
Thank you! It’s something we’ve joked about doing, who knows!
Would it look too weird to add a backsplash behind the dog feeding station? I suppose future owners might wonder why the kitchen wall is tiled 3’ up from the floor, but it might be a solution for the mess situation!
I recently ordered the Phoenix rocker in a platinum performance velvet, and I hope it works out ok. I needed something small too. Do you regret not getting the matching ottoman? I got the chair on sale but couldn’t bring myself to spend $400 on the ottoman.
No regrets on the ottoman! We like the wool wrap one that we have. I think you’ll be okay with the platinum color!
We built the laundry station for our appartement – clearly storage was not on the mind of the person who built this place. I can confirm that we love it and our metal grommets are holding up really well!
Love hearing this!
Hi, you mention using a leather conditioner on the couch after Jack had scratched it. what leather conditioner do you use and do you have a special buffing cloth?
We just use a microfiber cloth and the Real Simple leather conditioner that we purchase from Grove! More about that here: https://yellowbrickhome.com/family-friendly-cleaning-supplies/
Updates, such great idea! I’m wondering if you have had any issues longterm with the tile in your bathroom cracking because you didn’t use spacers? I’ve read you need to because of movement?
No problems whatsoever!