The Top 10 Posts of 2017 on the Grit and Polish

Before I get started on today’s post, I have to say that I wasn’t planning to do any kind of yearly wrap-up here on the blog. But I couldn’t quite get 2017 out of my mind.  What were the most popular posts?  Did you guys like the same topics as me?  Were room reveals, renovation updates, or personal posts the most viewed?

Yesterday I looked up the statistics on Google Analytics, and was shocked (SHOCKED!) with what I found.  The majority of the most popular posts viewed in 2017 were not actually from 2017.  Rather they’re old, like from before-I-had-a-handle-on-photography-photoshop-or-formatting old.  It was so surprising, that I had to share the results today.  This may not be the an interesting post for every reader, but it seems significant, especially to other bloggers, content developers, and generally curious folk.  So without further ado, here are the 10 most viewed posts on the Grit and Polish between 1/1/2017 and 12/31/2017, counting backwards from number ten…


No Paint No Gain

Ten // No Pain(t), no gain

This post on painting the Ravenna House from four years ago made the list. Honestly, I have zero idea why it’s so popular.  The photos are dark and the whole post lacks formatting.  It does, at least, remind me that my photography skills have come a long way (although I’m still using the same camera and lens as I did back then).


Farmhouse living room sofa

Nine // Farmhouse Living Room Our Sofa Is here – a giveaway

This was the first post of 2017, all about our new Interior Define sofa at the Farmhouse.  There was a giveaway attached, which I think helped the popularity quite a bit.  The kids still play on this sofa, every. Single. Day!  The sofa is huge (102″ long) and the perfect spot for our family of 5 to curl up for movie night.


hgtv pilot

Eight // We’re filming a pilot for HGTV

This was also from 2017 and all about the details of our HGTV pilot.  Pretty self explanatory.



Seven // A cement tile backsplash in the kitchen

Honestly I haven’t thought about this Dexter House post since I wrote it back in 2015.  It’s a pretty gritty post with over-saturated construction photos.  But cement tiles are pretty popular so there’s that.



Six // Building A New Fireplace – Patterned Cement Tile Surround

This is another construction post from 2015, but this series – about building a new fireplace in the 1905 Dexter House – is unique for old homeowners, so I’m glad it’s been of interest.  For the record, I don’t always think that cement tiles are a good fit for old homes, but they really fit with the architecture of the Spanish-style Dexter House.


master bedroom

Five // Farmhouse Master Bedroom One Room Challenge Reveal

The Farmhouse master bedroom is still one of my very favorite rooms that Garrett and I have ever tackled and apparently it’s one of our reader’s favorites too.  Watch for a winter update on this space later this week!


spool bed

Four // Vintage Find: A Jenny Lind Spool Bed

I loved seeing that a “resource” post made the list!  Writing about a style of antique furniture took a fair bit of research so I’m glad to see it was well received.  I’d like to do a lot more posts like this in 2018, both about antique furniture styles and about other topics that are valuable and relevant to home owners.



Three // 6 Day Kitchen Reno Reveal

No surprise here.  This 2016 project was such a FUN renovation that we did for our friends, Julia and Garrett, and it turned out beautifully.  I’m glad to see readers are still looking at it!


shower floor

Two // If at first you don’t succeed, a shower floor tale

This post is all about failing at renovating and trying again.  After grouting all of the shower floor tiles at the Ravenna House, we had to tear up and replace a large section because of drainage issues.  Mistakes in renovating are less than glamorous to say the least, but it’s also important to learn from our mistakes.  So I’m glad this post made the list, even if it makes me cringe.


drawers slide

One // DIY how to make old wood drawers slide easier 

I still get comments on this post every once in a while, so I’m not totally surprised to see it on the list, although I would never have guessed it would be #1.  This post, about making old wood drawers slide easier, is one of the first posts I ever wrote (ha!) and that was long before I got a handle on my camera or toyed with photoshop.  But even though the pictures are rough, I’m glad to see a DIY post took the number one spot, especially since it fits in our blog goals for 2018.


Well now that we reviewed 2017, I’m officially ready to embrace 2018.  Here’s to a great year ahead!



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Six tips to Keeping a Clean House (with young kids!)

My twin sister (and editor of this blog), Terry, keeps one of the tidiest houses I’ve ever seen.  Seriously, it’s like walking into a magazine!  And if you’re thinking that she spends all of her time cleaning, rest assured she does not.  She has 3 small kids, works part-time, is a fitness nut, and edits 2 posts for this blog every single week!  Yeah, she’s pretty much a super hero in my book.  So a couple of weeks ago, I asked my sis to share a few tips on how she keeps such a clean home with such a busy schedule.  I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did….

The Grit and Polish - Sissy's Living Room Chair

I’m one of those people that likes simplicity and organization, but living with young children is busy and messy (and obviously utterly fantastic!). So for me, keeping a clean and tidy house is paramount to keeping my sanity.  Here are six tips that I live by to keep a clean and functional house.

One // Do a little cleaning a lot of the time instead of a lot of cleaning a little of the time.  Don’t wait until the house is disaster zone to clean.  Got five minutes?  Wipe down the  countertops.  Ten minutes?  That’s plenty of time to mop the living room.  You get the idea.

The Grit and Polish - Sissy's Gallery Wall

Two // Put those little people to work!  After all, they are responsible for their share of the mess, so why shouldn’t they help clean up?  This kid cleaning set has been a hit for all my kids at all their ages–baby to 6.  My kids also can’t get enough of spraying the dry mop spry on the hardwood floors before I mop it up.  Though this more of a ‘helping out’ lesson than true help, kids can legitimately help by picking up, which I have varying amounts of luck with.

Three // Save those deep cleans for nap/quiet time, when you can really break a sweat.  That way you can get the house in shape without interruptions and without sacrificing a trip to the park.  And when all else fails, cleaning time is a great time for Sesame Street.

The Grit and Polish - Sissy's Living Room Fireplace

Four // Keep food at the table.  Don’t want to dry clean your curtains?  Keep those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the table.  Just don’t forget to wash hands after.  My children have to ask to be excused before leaving the table (and depositing their plates in the sink), that way, I can see how they ate and how clean they are before they leave the table.

Five // Clean up one mess before making the next.  After we make a big mess in the playroom, we pick up before moving outside to make a new mess.  The same goes with cooking…clean as you go instead of letting messes build up!

The Grit and Polish - Sissy's Living Room Bench All

Six // The biggest and most important tip to keeping a clean home is having a place for everything in your home.  Whether it’s your computer or your kids’ bike, have a place for everything in your home and keep those things in their places.  If you don’t have a place for it, you don’t need it!

The Grit and Polish - Sissy's Mantle 2



p.s. photos are from Terry’s living room.  They just sold this house, but moved into an 1911 beauty in Portland OR, so I’m hoping she’ll share that house with us too!


Happy Friday + Links 6/9/17

Happy Friday!  How was your week?  Garrett and I took the boys on a last minute camping trip in the San Juan Islands this week.  It rained and goodness the ground feels even harder when you’re 34 weeks pregnant, but seeing our kiddos explore more of the PNW and delight in ferry rides and beach combing was worth every bit of the discomfort.  Oh the joys of childhood!

Speaking of our kiddos, we are celebrating Wilder’s 4th birthday this weekend.  If you’ve been following this blog for long, you’ve probably already gathered that celebratory cakes are my thing, so you can expect to see me in an apron tomorrow, doing my darndest to create the chocolate dinosaur rainbow cake of Wilder’s dreams.  I can’t think of a better way to spend my Saturday…unless, of course, it’s baking the chocolate dinosaur rainbow cake of Wilder’s dreams in the kitchen I’m about to show you.

Well it’s Friday again so grab a cup of coffee and dig in to all that the internet has to offer:

Friday Gray Wade Design

Gray Wade Design Development via Instagram

Gray Wade Design Development constantly has me inspired on Instagram, but their Old Village kitchen (pictured above) stopped me in my tracks.  After seeing this, I was ready to demo our Farmhouse kitchen (good thing all of our tools were safely with Garrett at the Porch House ;).

Our Farmhouse master bedroom and the 6 Day Kitchen Reno made it onto recently.  Check out the article on navy and gold here.

This quick deck makeover (for under$1500!) was beautiful.

I love seeing the spaces people work in, especially interior designers, architects, and design/build contractors.  Because I know that these guys not only need space for the pretty stuff (design and inspiration), but also need organization and storage for the mounds of paperwork, invoices, drawings, and all the other less-than beautiful things associated with renovating and building.  Studio McGee’s office doesn’t disappoint.

10 tips from Farrow & Ball’s colour consultant to read before you paint!  “In light spaces paint them light and in dark spaces keep the colours dark, turn the rooms into jewels.” – Joa Studholme.

Colour consultant farrow and ball

Farrow & Ball via source

Related: I’ve been secretly dreaming of a pink dining room.  I don’t think I have the staying power to really go with pink – the color preference likely has more to do with the gender of the baby in my belly than what fits our family and home – but I’ve loved looking at inspiration, like this room and this one.



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Happy Friday + Links 6/2/17

Happy Friday and welcome to June!  Goodness it feels to be here.  On the back end of all that cold and snow, and with nothing but sunny skies and fresh veggies (and a baby!!!) in our foreseeable future.  Howdy summer, we’re happy to have you!

Lauren Liess Kitchen Dreams

Lauren Liess // Instagram

Before I get to this week’s links, I have to tell you about my new design crush, Lauren Liess.  Her style is simple, beautiful, and natural and I want to live in every room she designs (like that kitchen!…swoon).  Lauren isn’t exactly new on the design scene, but somehow I’ve been totally oblivious to her work my entire life.  Thankfully a kind Instagram follower pointed out that Helen Norman (as in Helen of the beautiful farmhouse we featured here on the blog a couple of weeks back) photographs for Lauren and I quickly found myself on Lauren’s Instagram, spending way too much time ogling her work!  I wouldn’t recommend following that link unless you have at least 2 hours to kill 😉

Well it’s Friday again, so grab a cup of coffee and dig into all that the internet has to offer:

I finally pulled the trigger on these office chairs for our home office since they were 25% off this week (sadly, I think the discount code ended last night).  They’re on backorder and won’t arrive until July, but I still can’t wait!

Lauren Liess bed

Lauren Liess, blue lake house // photo: Helen Norman

My Amazon wish list is now topped by…surprise, surprise…Lauren Liess’ book, Habitat: the Field Guide to Decorating.  Side note: that bedroom! Those textiles!

Flush mounts…ugh.  It’s so hard to find good ones, but thankfully Studio McGee put together this roundup!

I’m still thinking about a rug for the Farmhouse entryway.  I’ve resolved myself to an indoor/outdoor rug because we have kids and a dog and I really don’t want to constantly worry about dirt (because it’s inevitable).  I have my eye on this one and this one but I’m not sold on the whole recycled plastic thing.  Anyone have experience with one of these rugs?  I sure love the whole clean-it-off-with-a-hose thing but I always prefer natural materials.

I can’t read a word of this country home tour (are they in Sweden?) but the pictures are stunning!  That bathroom linen cabinet is perfection.

Planning to try out this hummus recipe this weekend.  I’m always on the hunt for healthy recipes my kids will eat too.

Hope you have a great weekend!




Weighing In // The Business of Blogging (Or the Lack There Of)

About a month ago, a reader comment got me thinking.  The comment was well intentioned and kind, but left me feeling anything but good.  I guess you could say the comment struck a nerve.  So I wanted to talk about it and give you guys a look at what goes on behind this blog.  The comment went something like this:

The lack of sponsors and ads all over the place makes your blog a pleasure to read.  It’s one of my favorites!

Nothing ground breaking, right?!  It’s complimentary and honest.  But the reader implied that they like the Grit and Polish because I don’t have sponsors and ads.  They like reading this blog because I’ve pumped thousands of dollars and thousands of hours into this blog and never received a dime in return (well, there was that one free rug pad ages ago, but you know what I mean).  In the context of the larger discussion going on in the blogosphere right now about blogging and compensation, this comment was a wake up call for me.  Because I don’t think of myself as a good blogger.  In fact, I think of myself as a bad blogger.  I’ll explain why in a second.


I can’t begin without saying that I appreciate your support and do not take it for granted.  You make the choice to read my work every time you come to the Grit and Polish, and I can’t thank you enough for that!  There is no shortage of  home renovation/design/DIY blogs out there to choose from, so it means the world to me that you chose to spend your precious time with me!  I LOVE writing and curating this blog, but without you guys reading it, I wouldn’t keep it going.  The Grit and Polish has always been a creative outlet and a way to share our work.  And for the past 3 years, I’ve chalked the costs up to an expensive hobby.  But then I quit my 9 to 5, and I found myself wondering if this blog could become more than that, because the Grit and Polish is SO MUCH MORE than just a hobby to me.  I listened to this podcast, read this post, read this post, and listened to this podcast (all of which discuss blogging and compensation) and wondered why I wasn’t asking for something in return for my work.  Content takes time to develop and good content takes a lot of time.  So like any good math nerd, I took stock of the hours it takes to run this blog and here’s what I found:

1-3 hours styling, photographing and editing photos / post

2-4 hours writing text/post

1-2 hour editing/post (thanks sis!)

Subtotal = 4 to 9 hours/post –> 2 posts/week = 8 to 18 hours/week

But that doesn’t count the time spent behind the scenes:

1 hour/week scheduling, organizing, and maintaining the blog (and probably more because my sis helps)

1 hour/week responding to comments (including social meda too)

1 hour/week honing my wordpress/Photoshop/photography skills

2-4 hours/week creating Instagram and Pinterest content

Subtotal = 5-7 hours/week

In total, it takes 13 to 25 hours/week to create the content you see on the Grit and Polish (and social media) and keep the blog running.  These numbers aren’t exact, but they’re in the ballpark.  And that is before you take into account the time we spend renovating and designing the spaces shown on the blog, which totals up to approximately one gazillion hours/week.

So how could all this unpaid effort possibly make me a good blogger?  I don’t think it does.  I think it makes me a bad blogger.  One who helps perpetuate the idea that bloggers should eschew compensation and create free advertising for companies, because that’s essentially what I’ve been doing.  I buy products at retail prices and provide photos and links to those products and show it to tens of thousands of people.  A very bad blogger indeed.  One who isn’t asking for her own worth.

So…it’s time to make a change here on the Grit and Polish.  I’m at the prepecise of turning my once-hobby into a job (or at least a venture that generates enough cash-flow to pay the babysitter).  This is a long time coming, and a change I’m really excited about.  You won’t see ads littering the site, but I am searching out partners (and maybe eventually sponsors) and looking into afiliate links.  Next week, I’ll be announcing my first partner, one I think you guys will really like, and I hope there will be many more.  My content won’t change – the projects, ideas and recommendations will be my own, as always – and I will take great care to select only partners and products that I can stand behind 100%.  The changes you will see on the blog include more renovations, better photos, and a much-improved/better-curated blog.  And I think old houses will champion for it.  Hopefully, you’ll be as excited as I am for these changes, but I understand that some people will be apprehensive, so I will do my best to take it slow and explain things as I go.

Okay, that’s the whole business (or lack there of) behind the Grit and Polish.  I’d love to hear your opinion.  Leave a comment and tell me what you think about this new leaf for the Grit and Polish.

More than ever, thanks for being here!




What Architectural Features we Keep in a Remodel // On Apartment Therapy

We are deep in the trenches of refinishing our hardwood floors, but I waned to pop over and share this Apartment Therapy article with you guys.  I wrote about how Garrett and I decide which original features stay and which go when we’re renovating old houses, something I think a lot of remodelers struggle with.  For us, the decision is oftentimes a little bit of a debate, but like all things in marriage, compromise creates the best outcome.  Usually…

Check the article out here!


Dexter House kitchen remodel

Hope your week is going well!  If you find yourself in need of a little more reading material, you can catch my first article for Apartment Therapy (7 tips to saving money on a remodel) here.



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My Money-Saving Tips on Apartment Therapy (and links to projects shown)


I’m over on Apartment Therapy today, sharing 7 money-saving tips for renovations that Garrett and I have learned over the years. Check it out here!

And if you don’t recognize the bathroom above, that’s because I’ve never shared the ‘after’ photos before. It’s the Dexter House‘s main bathroom, which we refreshed just before moving out. I shared a couple of details about the quick and inexpensive makeover in the Apartment Therapy article, if you’re interested.

All of the other photos that are in the article are from our projects too. I’ve included links below: the-grit-and-polish-apartment-therapy-projects-collage-text

Projects: 1. #6daykitchenreno | 2. Dexter Mudroom  | 3. Dexter Kitchen | 4. Dexter Master Bathroom




Farmhouse Granola Recipe (its Naturally sweetened!)


We take our breakfasts seriously here at the Farmhouse. Sometimes it’s brioche french toast with whipped cream and berry compote. Sometimes it’s farm-fresh scrambled eggs with crispy kale and bacon. But more often than not, it’s something quick and healthy like a yogurt parfait with homemade, naturally-sweetened granola.

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Granola 10

I must give credit to my husband for this recipe, who masterminded the naturally-sweetened part. We’ve been working on minimizing our refined sugar intake this year (except in our desserts because….yum!), so we sweeten this granola with apples and pomegranate juice. And I swear, you don’t miss the sugar!

He’s a genius like that 😉

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Granola 1.2The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Granola 3.1

We use full-fat, plain yogurt in our parfaits because full fat is just So. Much. Better. Trust me! And for the fruit, we grab whatever is on hand. Yesterday morning, it was cantaloupe, local apples, banana, and nectarine, which we tossed with diced spearmint. And yes, I know spearmint is not a fruit, but it grows like a weed by our stream and I can’t get enough of it. It adds such a light and fresh flavor so it’s been going into everything lately!

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Granola 9The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Granola 15The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Granola 12

Depending on what’s in our pantry, this granola recipe changes a bit. But the batch we made yesterday morning was as good as we’ve ever made, so it’s what’s I’ve written down below.  If you don’t like almonds, pecans, or raisins (or maybe just don’t have them on hand) they could easily be swapped out for your favorite nut or dried fruit.

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Granola 8

Farmhouse Granola

Makes two pints of granola. Store in mason jars with airtight lids for easy use though out the week!

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with coconut oil.

Add together in a large bowl:

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup currants

1/3 cup raisins

1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut

1/3 cup chopped almonds

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

cinnamon, to taste (we use 1 1/2 tsp)

salt, to taste (we use 1 1/2 tsp)

Mix together in large bowl until everything is coated in oil.

In a food processor or blender, puree:

1 large apple, cored

1/4 cup berry juice

1/2 tsp vanilla

Once pureed, add the apple mixture to the oat mixture and combine with a few swift strokes.

Spread granola onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola and put back in oven for an additional 5 minutes. Repeat this step 2 times or until granola is evenly browned. Granola should appear lightly toasted and dry.

Leave granola on the baking dish to cool slightly before serving or cool all the way before storing in an airtight mason jar. But my recommendation: dig in! Because granola is extra good when it’s still warm!

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Granola 6

I’d love to hear what you guys think of this! If you make it, post a picture on Instagram and tag me in it or leave me a note here. Pretty please 🙂



p.s. Speaking of baking…I’m dreaming of these decorated cakes. My nephew, George is turning one next week and I’m going to bake him a doozey!

p.p.s. Loving Studio McGee’s webisode series! Check out this one on kitchen styling (…they nail it, of course!).

p.p.p.s. I really resonate with this concept of one hour of focused work a day.  Thinking I’ll try it to get some writing done!


Renovating with Toddler: Work Clothes

When it comes to getting a toddler interested in working with mama and dada, it helps to have special duds for the occasion.  I mean, what kid doesn’t love dress up?!  And Wilder is no exception.  When ever dada puts on his work boots, Wilder dances around, begging to put on his own work boots.  And if we set his Carhartt overalls out, oh man, you had better watch out!  He will drag us out the door to get to work.  Work clothes help get our toddler excited about working, plus they have the added benefit of keeping him dry in the Seattle rain and owee free!  Here’s a rundown of the clothes we’ve found are essential for a work-loving toddler.

Renovating with Toddler: Work Clothes

Carhartt Overalls, Amazon – work pants are essential for a busy toddler, especially when you’re working outside.  These overalls are our favorite – they’re easy on and off and really durable. A good pair of thick jeans would work too.

Rain Coat, K-Way – we found Wilder one of these jackets on clearance at J.Crew last fall.  Since we live in Seattle, a rain coat is an essential kids item, but it really came in handy while we were building the shed this winter.

Flannel Shirt, J.Crew– Wilder has a few flannels he wears while working.  I buy them from J.Crew when I find them on sale because you can’t beat the quality but he also has some handmedowns from his cousin Walty too.  In the summer months, we substitute short sleeve shirts or tank tops for these.

Kids Work Gloves, Home Depot – Wilder loves his work gloves and he shows us by wearing them around the house. All. The. Time!  And when we’re working on projects outside or in, these are perfect for keeping his hands owee free.

Wool Socks, Smartwool – these wool socks are essential when we’re working outside in the rain.  They keep Wilder’s feet dry and warm.  I’ve been wearing (and loving) Smartwools for years, so I was really excited to find they make kids socks too!

Timberland Boots, Zappos – sure, these boots are spendy (I think we paid $65 for them), but they are worth every penny!  These boots keep Wilder’s feet owe free when he’s hanging around the nails, wood, and tools at our construction sites.  We bought the boots extra big so there’s room for Wilder to grow into them plus they’re so durable that they should last for baby #2 too!

Catch part 1 of Renovating with Toddler here.



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Renovating with Toddler: Books

I’ve been asked a lot about renovating with a little one around.  Renovation is hard work and parenting is even harder, so combining the two can be a little confusing, if not downright frustrating at times.  We are still learning how to juggle the two, but we have picked up quite a few tricks during our own renovation journey.  And it is high time I share those tips with you all!  With that in mind, I present to you the Renovating with Toddler series.  This will be a place for me to share tips and products to help get a toddler interested in renovating and keep them safe and entertained while parents get to work.

The Grit and Polish - Wilder in his work boots 22 months 5

Today I’m going to focus on books, since they’re one of Wilder’s favorite things.  We’ve been reading construction books since he was little.  I think books focused on tools and renovating can help foster an interest in kiddos and help them not be afraid of all the loud noises and strange looking tools mom and dad have suddenly gotten excited about.  Books may even help a kiddo get interested in what mama and dada are doing.  Here’s a roundup of some of Wilder’s favorites.

Construction Books for Toddlers

B is for Bulldozer, June Sobel – this is hands down Wilder’s number 1 requested book.  It pairs the alphabet with building a theme park.

The Toolbox, Anne Rockwell, Harlow Rockwell – this is a sweet book about a father’s toolbox.  I’m a sucker for simple, slow books, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, Sherri Duskey Rinker, Tom Lichtenhel – this classic story probably doesn’t need an introduction.  This one’s all about construction machinery from morning to night and Wilder gobbles it up!

Tap Tap Bang Bang, Emma Garcia – this is the other book Wilder asks to read every night.  It has a run down of tons of common tools and what they’re used for and how they sound.  Wilder LOVES this book!

The Little House, Virginia Lee Burton – okay it might be a stretch to call this one a construction book, but any time you move a house, it’s a pretty big project!  This one is a favorite in our house – it’s a bit slow so we only read it when Wilder is rested and patient, but it’s really sweet!



p.s. Apartment Therapy’s small cool contest is wrapping up!  Here are a few of my favorites: 660 sf of creative, 675sf of historic fun, and 525sf of Scandinavian natural.

p.p.s. A laid back, rustic retreat in Kentucky.  I would love to spend a summer here 🙂

p.p.p.s. Perfect for summer camping season!  Rehabbing an old camper is definitely on my bucket list!!!

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