First Scrap Wood and Still Life project: our faux brick wall

As mentioned on my new web page, Scrap Wood and Still Life, I’m making a more concerted effort to bring joy to folks with my DIY projects and painting. (Follow along on Instagram, @scrapwoodandstilllife.)

My first attempt at bringing readers DIY posts was a couple years ago through a blog series called Home Sweet Farmhouse Home that coincided with the release of my novel, Lead Me Home. It was so much fun that I’m starting it back up again.

Besides a unique way to be creative and love on our homes, I think folks are drawn to DIY and farmhouse themes because restoration touches on our innate longing to know that no matter how messy we are, can be renewed and restored by God’s grace (Psalm 51). Such themes also touch on the fact that we are made in the image of the Lord (Genesis 1:27). Since He is the ultimate Creator, no wonder many of us feel called to create!

On to the project: our faux brick wall

Recently we installed a faux brick wall in our basement stairwell. This was super fun and truly one of the easiest home improvement projects I have tackled to date.

Here’s the wall we started with. It’s mostly stripped bare of the gallery wall I had there before, but even then it was pretty blasé. For 12 years I’ve been wanting to do something creative with the space, because it is open and visible to anyone who comes in, and the little shelf-like area was just begging to be something useful.

After surfing Pinterest for hours and hours, I decided on a faux brick wall with my own version of a German Schmear treatment.

Here’s how I did it.*

Source list and tools (not an exhaustive list):

Liquid Nails makes this project a breeze. Make sure you get the Liquid Nails made for putting up paneling–there are a lot of different kinds. Some DIY sites recommend nailing as well, but if you use the Liquid Nails as directed, I’m pretty sure the paneling won’t go anywhere.

Once the panels were up and given a day or so to dry, I applied plenty of spackling paste to the seams of the paneling, and then randomly in other places. This is where my process differs from a lot of others you’ll see, which spackle all over the brick. I just applied it sporadically.

Then I simply painted over it all with the chalk paint. I left some spots bare and painted some more lightly than others. I just eyeballed it until I was happy with the coverage and look.

Some people want the whole wall to be white, which is a little cleaner looking. Others prefer to let more red hang out, for a more rustic or industrial look. The important thing is to use your imagination and have fun with it!

Finally, caulk all the edges.

I used a 2×6 cut to the length of the shelf, a 1×4 as the shelf back, and stained them with Minwax’s Jacobean, one of my favorite shades of their stains.

Here’s a couple of close-ups:

I added a couple of paintings I made, which were inspired by my cousins’ dairy farm, also the inspiration behind my novel, Lead Me Home:

The real life Red:

Let me know if you try this project!

And if this inspires you, have fun!

Be blessed and celebrate your creativeness, friends!


*Please refer to the main Scrap Wood and Still Life page for an important disclaimer. 

Home Sweet Farmhouse Home Episode 2: Settee remake

Did y’all like the first episode about the kitchen table remake? That was so much fun!

I thought I’d follow that up this week with another furniture re-do, or upcycling, as I like to call it. (I promise to show you the overall room one day, but right now the house is a disaster because we’re having a big ol’ bash for my oldest son who’s GRADUATING from high school! I think I might have mentioned that once or twice…#proudmama)

So here’s the piece I started with.

This settee is so charming and I loved the colors in it when this room (and much of my house) was more of a french country cottage feel. But alas, yellow and green and red don’t work with farmhouse style.

(Big white dogs evidently do…)

Now I’m no Joanna Gaines, but my theory about farmhouse/industrial style decorating is that it’s simple (because there’s too many chores on a farm to be fancy), it’s cheap (because there’s too many mouths–human and otherwise–to feed), and it uses what’s around.

That’s why I try to stick with these three tools and a glue gun.

(Never mind that I can’t sew and have destroyed three machines trying to learn.)


The only thing I bought for this project was a few yards of white cotton duck/canvas from Hobby Lobby. I doubled the thickness of the material to make sure the old pattern doesn’t show through.

I left the original bottom cushion on as it was, fabric and everything, and stapled the new fabric to the sides, careful to keep the material pulled tight as I worked my way around. To help the fabric stay more even,  staple in the middle of one side, then the opposite side, then the two ends. Then staple everything in between.


The back of the settee features a post running down the middle, and of course on all four corners. In these spots, I used the scissors to split the fabric, folded the rough edges under, and stapled some more.


Once the big piece was in place, I used the leftover fabric remnants to make the little skirt, which is cute (IMHO), but serves a larger purpose in covering up all the staples. 

First I cut four strips from the leftover fabric.


Then I ironed a little pleat along one side of each fabric strip so that the top of the ruffle is smooth and won’t fray.

The bottom of the ruffle was left with raw edges because it’s kinda farmhouse style (IMHO) and I think a frayed edge adds charm and a bit of an “aged” or at least “well-loved” appearance.

(Also, if my cows dogs rough it up it will look like it’s supposed to be that way. )


After ironing the fabric for the pleat, I grabbed my glue gun and stuck it on, pausing ever couple of inches to fold the fabric back onto itself to create each little pleat. You could measure out the spots where you want the ruffles if you want to be precise, but I just eyeball it because I don’t have time to be precise. I have a herd of cows dogs to tend.


Here’s the end result.

I did fold the side edge of the ruffle where it met the arm/leg of the settee so that the vertical edges would be clean.


Another view of the back ruffle.


And here’s the finished bench.

I’m so thrilled with how it turned out.

And I really need to go get some Scotch Guard. Because of the cows dogs.

I’m using it in my dining room at the dining room table, which I’ll show you once the grad party is done and my house is clean again. But I just love the look of a cozy chair or two pulled up to a country table.


I hope you liked this episode of Home Sweet Farmhouse Home!

Now for the contest!

To be eligible for a chance to win a prize package like this, including a signed copy of Lead Me Home and a milk bottle full of candy, make sure you:

  1. Repost and share this blog post on your social media sites, along with the hashtag #LeadMeHomeNovel.
  2. Leave a comment here on the site, below. Feel free to share and/or link back to a farmhouse project or something farmhouse that you really like!

I’ll let the post and contest run through Friday and notify a winner Saturday, when I’ll put everyone’s names into a computerized random name chooser.


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)


Thank you so much for stopping by today.

Stay tuned for a more episodes of Home Sweet Farmhouse Home this spring and summer.



New blog series: Home sweet farmhouse home

I can’t sit still for long.

It’s a trait that has annoyed family and friends for as long as I can remember.

I just gotta create.

While writing is the art-song of my heart, upcycling and painting are the art-work of my hands. Something about taking a shabby or out-of-date item and making it into something new reminds me of the way the Lord has–and continues to–create something new out of the discolored, cracked and chippy places of my life. (2 Corinthians 3:18)


Since my new novel, Lead Me Home, is about…well…HOME, I thought it would be fun to share with you a few of the projects I have going on at my house, specifically farmhouse style projects. We don’t live in a farmhouse, but it can’t hurt to pretend, right? I love the new, simple, clean style, and I’m having fun mixing in a bit of industrial and French country with it.

I’m in between manuscripts right now, so I’m upcycling and updating our house (which was pitifully neglected) like a mad woman. My oldest baby is also a senior, so I have the added incentive of spiffing the place up for the big grad party. (NOTE: It’s true what they say about not blinking, mamas…don’t.)

So here’s the first project that I’m GIDDY over.

My kitchen.

Specifically, my kitchen table and nook.

Okay, so the table is clearly missing from this picture, but I wanted to show  you what this little area looked like “before.” It’s cute enough, but the butter yellow walls have been butter yellow forever, and while my nickname is Ms. Toile, I was tired of the heavy cornice.

Oh, and say hello to Jaxson, our big white dog. He’s one of our three golden retrievers.

Here’s the table (below). I do decorative painting as well as plain old wall painting, and again while this was cute for awhile, I was tired of it. I think all the men (one beloved husband and three teenage boys) might’ve been tired of it, too.

I considered sanding it down and repainting it, but then I fell in love with farmhouse tables on Pinterest and decided to put a whole new top on it.

I’m in a farmhouse mood anyway, since my new novel, Lead Me Home, takes place on a dairy farm.

I’m also into cows.

Like, REALLY into cows.

This painting was done by my dear friend, Sharon. You should really check out her paintings.

Can you stand the cuteness???

Since I decided to re-do the table, I of course had to re-do the stools. Decorating is a little like that book, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, don’t you think? One thing leads to another and before I know it the whole house is under re-construction.

The stools have a special story.

They were once in my middle school science labs, and the school gave them away when the school was closed several years back.

I ran into a little problem with these, thinking I could easily strip the multiple layers of spray paint I’d applied over the years.

That was messy.

And gross.

And stinky.

And I nearly cried at the lack of progress until I looked up “chippy bar stools” on Pinterest and realized chippy bar stools are totally in style. Not only that, but people PAY to get stools that looked all cracked and peel-y like this. So I stopped freaking out and decided to love them as-is.

On to the table top.

My Dad happens to be one of the most gifted woodworkers EVER. Really. He has a workshop stocked better than the Home Depot, and his attention to detail is amazing. He actually built the original table and the bench in the kitchen a few years back, which I adore because it has a lift-up seat for storing everything, including dog food for all our fur babies.

My plan for the new table involved slapping a few pieces of cheap rustic wood onto the top, but Dad (concern in his eyes) kindly offered to help. He helped me find beautiful pieces of poplar (instead of the knot-infested cheap pine I’d been eyeballing) and secure them together with carpenter’s glue and these awesome clamp thingys.

After that, we used a variety of finer and finer grained sandpapers to smooth out all the bumps and imperfections.

This whole process reminded me a great deal of the writing process: moving around and piecing chunks of ideas together, then refining and finally, polishing.

We used three coats of maple polyurethane, sanding between each coat to create this strong, glass-like, GORGEOUS sheen.

I used the same process on the new, 15-inch diameter stool seats, which I found already pre-cut and sanded at Lowe’s. I just had to screw them on.

Here it is, all put together.

I painted the walls a soft, custom white I’m calling”sugar cream pie white” from Sherwin Williams.

I made some other changes in the room, as well as the dining room, which I’ll show you in upcoming posts.

In the meantime, thanks for visiting.

Let me know what you think of this series, and post links to your own DIY projects in the comments.

Oh, and be sure to pick up a copy of Lead Me Home for a story of hardship and hope in the heartland!