House Beautiful

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Episode #1 Recap: Terra’s Big House (THE STUDIO)

{ photo courtesy of Lifetime }

Yooooouu GUYS!? Ahhhhhh wassup! Did you all tune in last night? And by last night I mean Wednesday night cuz I’m a day late posting. In case you’ve been living under a rock and missed my social media blitz the past week, our new show, “Terra’s Big House” premiered 2 nights ago on Lifetime. (WATCH ONLINE HERE). It’s the first of 6 episodes during which my trusty right hand contractor & partner in crime – Cory McCrummen – and I will take on a HUGE remodel for Terra Jolé (star of Little Women & DWTS) and her husband Joe Gnoffo (most hilarious dude on the planet), renovating their house ONE room at a time… Or will we? Cuz I feel like we’re always just about ONE sneeze (or fart) away from getting canned. Ya never can tell. I mean let’s be honest. Even Penny looks like she’s not so sure about us.

But apparently I’m feelin like we’re sittin pretty at this point. Cory looks like he’s about to do the Care Bear Stare to win them over.


SO – we have $150,000, and the goal is to stretch that moo as far as we can to completely tailor the house to Terra & Joe’s family’s needs and make it function and FEEL little people (“LP”) friendly, but not necessarily LOOK like we scaled everything down. Take everything “custom” out of the equation, and a whole house reno for $150k is already a lofty goal. I know, I know, it sounds like a lot – AND IT IS – but as anyone who has ever renovated any space (let alone an entire house) will tell ya, that money goes SO FAST. So in addition to staying on budget, we needed to somehow do this renovation:

a) *without* overtly shrinking everything in the house, and

b) without alienating average sized folks like yours truly.. (hey. what if I come over for pancakes one morning?), or potential buyers down the road, should they ever decide to sell. We also needed to be mindful of their littlest nugget, D’Artagnan (aka Grayson)… he’s still young enough that T&J aren’t sure if he’s going to grow up to be little or average sized, so we needed to design for both.

But imma tell you one thing: kid’s gonna be a stud with the ladies. LOOK AT THIS LITTLE MUFFIN!!

Long story long, this house needs to be comfortable and functional for EVERYONE. So, that’s the premise, and that’s a tall order (pun totally unintended). Let’s spitball about THE SHOW!


First of all, can I talk about my co-star for a sec?? I feel like we filmed so much that they probably just couldn’t squeeze everything into a wee hour, but I gotta toot C’s horn for a sec: Cory McCrummen and I have been pals for AGES (he’s married to a lovely friend of me + Karrie’s, so fan those loins, ladies!), and he’s the one contractor I know that I trust implicitly. He’s got that good ‘ol Honest Abe thing going, is genuinely the kindest person you’ll ever meet (WAY nicer than I am), is so conscientious about his work (which is impeccable) and so thoughtful and compassionate when it comes to dealing with clients… um, contractors like that don’t exist, people. What makes C really unique is that he cut his teeth in both the design AND construction fields, so he’s got killer experience on both sides, and an amazing aesthetic to show for it.. and much different than mine.  I joke that his is “moody” (code for a restrained palette) and I think he said once that my style is like my personality (e.g. like “a party”)… or like Skittles. But if you saw the shots of his work, you can tell he’s got very refined, pared down but still warm, soulful, timeless taste. So, I have the best partner in crime EVER heading into this season.

Which is also going to be like heading into battle, if you happen to have seen the Entertainment Tonight trailer… YIKES.


The Studio was like our “try out” to do the main house.  The studio space is behind the main house, and was being used as a guest house / storage area before we got our grubby little paws on it. We had $3,000 to do this space, which doesn’t go far when you need: paint, some construction materials, wallpaper, an electrician, new lighting, furniture, rugs, accessories etc. Add to that the fact that 4 people (and 3 dogs) needed to live in this space, and it had to serve as: a bedroom, a kitchen, a dining room, a baby’s room, and an office.  That’s a little something I like to call trying to ride 5 horses with one a$$. Here’s what it looked like before… The two-toned wall/ceiling thing here was distracting and just made the space feel disjointed. I knew we needed to paint the ceiling, walls AND that weird trim piece in between all the same color to unify the space and give it a seamless, clean look.

Walking thru here unscathed was like playing Operation, but in real life.

This is the scene you see when you walk in the sliding glass doors – bed against the wall, boxes peppered (everywhere else).

This was the kitchen… see how low the ceiling starts at the top of the backsplash (before it vaults)?  It’s almost as low as the bottom of the cabinetry.  So if we had wallpapered ONLY that area, and left the ceiling, the wallpaper would’ve gotten lost and looked confusing. And chopped up the room. I also really needed the kitchen to kind of have a **POW** element and to delineate it from the rest of the space, since the natural barrier – that closet (on the right) – was coming out and being replaced by an eat-in island. Also.. the boob lights – no bueno.

We weren’t given many (decor) parameters on this first project – it was early on in the process, and while I did have a grasp on Terra’s taste, I also knew this was going to revert to a Guest House later, so I was thinking about it as something they may want to AirBNB someday… something that needed to feel like an escape and have a universal appeal for guests.  So this space was kind of like a free style. I told Cory that I thought it might be fun to do a Hawaii theme, and he legit looked at me like I had 7 heads with 1 eyeball in the middle. But that idea was born of this BEAUTIFUL WALLPAPER from Hygge & West (Aja in Khaki by Justina Blakeny), which I’d been obsessing over – and figured Terra would not be into at all.

Here’s how that scene went down. She fer SHURE thinks I’m nuts.

But check it out! HUUUUUGE thanks to Hygge & West for rushing these rolls out to us! They are the tits, if you guys haven’t worked with them before. Wallcoverings are super affordable, they have a calculator on each product’s page so you can tally how much you need (this is a pain in the arse otherwise), and their patterns are so great. PS: video of the kitchen all completed at the bottom of this post!

See! Cory’s stoked.

We replaced those godawful boob / mushroom lights with these little fellas. Less than $10 at Home Depot, and we spray painted them with a dark green Rustoleum. This was one thing Terra loved.

What do you guys think??

Another big project for this space was recovering the existing bed (that velvety-teal one) to make it more gender-neutral and just a little more fresh. I found this KILLER striped upholstery fabric at Threads in San Diego for like, $15 a yard. #stealing.

C-money was nice enough to help me get the fabric stapled into place on the headboard.

HHHHAAAAAAaaaaa – ask him if he came back to nail in nailheads after this……………

After the headboard was done, I had to detach the footboard from the side rails so that I could recover those as well. This is where it gets ugly, kids.

When they wouldn’t come apart, I went all CofC vball on it and put my back into that sucker and gave the footboard a big WHAP to knock it loose from the side rail. And then it jacked me in the face SO HARD that I heard real-life birdies tweeting and saw stars for a few minutes. And then, the next morning, I hatched a Cadbury egg, right there outta my forehead. In July. Happy early Easter.

So hot. Imagine trying to ice this thing to get the swelling to go down… biggest cold-headache ever.

But check out that detail!!  That was a $5 box of antique brass nailheads from (Michael’s, I think), a little elbow grease and one near-concussion.

Here’s how the rest of the studio turned out… those cameras move so fast! I wanted you guys to see more of it, in case you missed:

Lanterns are from HOMEGOODS!  Have you ever? Console was World Market and it’s so affordable. Desk & desk chair were Terra’s existing.

One really interesting thing I learned about doing a TV show is that you can’t use ANY artwork without the written consent of the original artist.  Like, not even an iPhone pic, and certainly not any sort of artwork you’d normally think nothing about scooping up from TJ Maxx, or even a garage sale. So the night before this reveal, I went to CVS, bought a piece of posteboard and some kiddos’ paints & paintbrushes, and painted THAT pink gem below.

With the help of my trusty co-blogger and bestie, Karrie, we stayed up till 1am at the dining room table painting this guy. What you didn’t hear last night on camera was Terra saying that it looked like Penny painted it…  bahahhahahaha. And she’s not wrong! But it was the best I could do with about $20 in the budget and 12 hours left to find scrounge up some art. Covet Living Original Artwork right there, kids.

I also had to use pics from my trip to Hawaii last year for the black & whites over the bed.

Frames are IKEA!

BIG THANKS to my homegirl Lauren at Hollywood at Home for helping me with pillows!!!

And thanks to my trusty off-camera man for helping me carry them, cuz I didn’t make it far past the front door. That bag weighed about 4 zillion pounds.

Look how pretty… aaaaaand it was right around this time when Terra told me no more pink/purple.

Breakfast, anyone? Nothing tickles my pickle more than a few really gorgeous vintage pillows on an all-white bed.

We kept Terra & Joe’s existing sofa (though it was MASSIVE) to make them kind of feel at home here, and also to help out budget-wise. It’s funny – it is SO BIG and it was 1 of 4 furniture layouts I did in CAD, and it even looked massive in the drawings… like it was going to swallow up the room. But in the space in real life, it totally worked. That doesn’t always happen.

Trunk courtesy of One Eyed Willie. #gooniesneverdie

That little plug-in wall sconce was from eBay… I was looking to use one from Schoolhouse Electric, but theirs have a weeks-long lead time and they’re also around $300, give or take, so I scoured Etsy & eBay. Ended up with this guy, who is brass and ORB/black… #mixedmetals. Which I came to find that Terra was NOT a fan of, but I needed that fixture to be two-toned to tie into the other dark and brass elements in the room and add some cohesiveness. Another note… that fella was just under $100 which was great for our budget, but is a great example of “you get what you pay for.” I was afraid if I touched it, it might fall off the wall (or break) because it was VERY fragile and not well made. You guys know I will cross 7 lanes of traffic if I see a Goodwill or an Estate Sale, so I appreciate saving where you can, but there are some things where it’s better to buy quality. I would’ve swapped that sucker out if I could but we were in a hustle.

The breakfast area may’ve been my favorite. Probably because of those cute little kumquats that I had one of the producers bring from his yard (what up J!) cuz they were impossible to find. The table settings I snapped up from Homegoods LITERALLY the night before. Rocks glasses are mine (Tarjay!)  Stools are from CB2.

(More behind the scenes)

…WHAT UP CAMERA CHRIS?! Best guy ever right there.

Rug was from Rugs USA and was a &#% STEAL! That 9×12 was on sale from $379. Drapery Panels are Pottery Barn Emery Linen drapes in Oatmeal, double width. Lantern Cory actually brought from home and gave to Terra. How much do we love him?

Did you notice that we were all MELTING during that reveal?? I think Joe said his “fat was crying” at one point and I almost peed my pants. It’s because it was about 105 degrees outside and the Studio didn’t have A/C… just a little rolling unit in the bathroom. Which is where everyone would huddle in between takes.

Otherwise, this scene KILLS ME. I’ve been cackling for days.

And this one warmed my little heart. ONE POINT GRIFFENDOR!!!! SLASH yay Terra for being open and coming around! Everybody’s giving her a lotta &$#% for pushing back so much (and oh, did she ever) but it’s easier said than done having some stranger come into your house and start goin’ to town. :

This made me cackle and spit out my food a few hours before the premiere:

This text from a client after the show also had me in stitches… she’s not wrong!

More of these zingers to come… cuz my microphone was on ALL THE TIME which isn’t always a good thing. PS they ALWAYS made me sit on a chair higher than Cory’s for these interviews. Why, I ask? Am I interviewing for the role of Paul Bunyan’s wife? Also.. you guys know I don’t wear makeup in real life, but def had to for on camera, and had it professionally done for these interviews, so I look a lot like Stephanie Ballard’s distant cousin, Stacy.:

And this is DEFINITELY some foreshadowing…

Stay tuned!! The show airs every Wednesday night for the next 5 weeks in a row! 10pm East Coast Time, 9pm Central, 10pm West Coast Time, and if you have Direct TV anywhere you can watch on the East Coast schedule!

Love you guys all for watching!! Thanks so much for all the support 🙂


Saturday Morning Mishmash

sigh, saturday

Good MORNIN Sugarplums!!!  Happy Saturday!  You know what my favorite thing to do on a weekend morning is, so, I’ll tee it up while you refill your coffee…

first I drink the coffee | covet living

This antique poppy in coral from Spoonflower of all places is amazing.  And it’s a dead ringer for Raoul Textiles, but at a teeny fraction of the price.  Can you picture it as drapery panels or a big gorgeous roman shade in a kiddo’s room?  I can.  And I DIE.

antique poppy

My every (single) day, fave hairdo.

fave hairdo

This kitchen makes me so (so) happy.  Between the arched glass pantry door, the giant demijohn lamps on the console/island, and the dough bowl, it’s the warmest/fuzziest thing I ever did see.

kitchen warmth | covet living

And it makes me almost as happy as things like this.  Which is what my entire Instagram feed looks like.  Karrie asked me the other day what she needed to do to make sure I didn’t become a dog lady someday, and I was like, “Psssht – fat chance.”

golden retriever in lake | covet living

Cuz this is legit going down.  Sorry Karrie.

puppy class | covet living

One more.  I meaaaan…..


Moving along.. the gorgeous paint color of this dresser totally inspired me to refinish my next piece of furniture in whatever that hazy grey-blue is.  I also just had my Modern Farmhouse client in Ohio do her playroom built-ins in it.


Hello, Spring.


What my life in Cali feels like…

straw hat

summer surf

life in cali

I got this yesterday from my buddy Mully.  Heavens, he’s so right.  We’re a long long way from Kansas Ohio and where we were 2 years ago, Campers.


Speaking of that place that starts with an O, *this* is a solid reminder it took me a long time to realize and could’ve saved me a LOT of grief had I understood it sooner. But ye know – it’s a journey.

never argue

WHAT is this glorious print and can I put it on (anything/everything)??  …jk, it’s Persia Black on Taj Ecru from Quadrille and it’s to die.

persia in black

Take me back to there, svp. #tuscany


What my someday dream home dreams are made of. brass and marble

Every now and again I appreciate a good crisp, white linen lampshade, but most of the time it puts me to sleep.  A super easy way to customize whatchoo got goin’ on and warm things up / introduce some color & texture to your space is to have your existing shades recovered in a favorite fabric.  Karrie & I are doing this in her dining room with her wee chandelier shades (prob doing a burlap)… Bunny Williams has this whole collection which is so cozy I can’t take it, but also so expensive I could never afford it:

Bunny Williams Home Shades

So thank heavens there are lovely Etsy sellers like this one who do custom shades in baller fabrics at a fraction of the cost.  Like these… which would be AMAZING on some crystal wall sconces:

Sconce Shades

Speaking of sconces… this is the most drool-worthy one I’ve eva seen.

favorite sconce ever | covet living

Love Loren Hope’s photog skills almost as much as her jewelry.  I’d like this blown up into a massive print to put in my dining room, thannnnksss guuuuuuuuurl.

waves and whitewater

This one is also amazing:


My **FAAAAVORITE** white wine.  Not sure where its been all my life but if I was once lost, now I’m found.  My girlfriend Becky brought it over the other night for dinner.  Bonus: it’s $10.99 at Trader Joe’s.

pine ridge chenin blanc and viognier

Behold: the perfect jeans + white tee combo.


Loving this print from Scalamandre… Bali in Roses & Moss.

scalamandre fabric


best nail color

Dallas Shaw’s Insta, which is a sea of dreamy pink eye candy.

dallas shaw instagram

Clayton Sconces by AERIN for Circa Lighting.  #nomnomnom

Clayton Wall Sconce

So sweating Gigi Hadid’s style these days.

gigi hadid malibu tee

Please, get in my (beach) house now.

rug love

I’ll take a coupla you, too.

bella cane stool

Who knows when or if I’ll ever find someone I’d like to marry, but when/if I do, I’d like to wear THIS gown by Liz Martinez… GASP.  That is the most stunning wedding gown I’ve ever seen.

best wedding dress ever

On that tangent… it’s funny how your priorities shift as you get older.  Every girl’s got a dream about what she wants her wedding to be like, and I’m sure if you’d asked me 10 years ago, it would’ve been a REAL big to-do / fuss.  And now, I’m like, howsabout just give me the most amazing person (ever), maybe a simple but beautiful antique ring from Tadema Gallery down there (or just a simple pavé band), a handfulla good friends and family, a beach and a taco truck, and I’m cool.


Kenil in Indigo Textile from Penny Morrison.  You could use it for pillows or upholstery, or you could just frame it b/c it’s so beautiful.

kenil in indigo | penny morrison

I DIED yesterday over this stunning tile design, via my dear friend and fellow designer, Cory McCrummen.

tile cory mccrummen design | covet living

The perfect weekend outfit.

weekend uniform | covet living

Just about the only philosophy you’ll ever need…

joy in the ordinary

The most perfect candle scent, ever that I picked up from Pigment as a Christmas gift for my girl Caitlin, but haven’t been able to find since.  Pomegranate Citrus by Capri Blue.

capri blue pomengranate citrus

a) I need these immediately, b) somewherelately is a great follow.

steve madden pumps

I ran across TONS of amazing hardware when I was scouring the universe for Karrie & Tim’s house… these pulls are so unique and would be amazing on an island, or on a refinished dresser:

cast brass pulls

I need this jumpsuit, stat.

white jumpsuit

I’d also take a handfulla these to hang down a long hallway. #perfection… and #bonus – they’re under $200 each at Wayfair.

Wayfair Hayden Pendant

Hello, lover.

Picture 14079

Picture 14079

Take me to there.

somewhere lately pool

AND I’m off to make breakfast.  This is a go-to: sautéed spinach (set aside), then roasted tomatoes, then scramble eggs + a handfulla feta + cilantro, then toss the veggie mix back in, then top with fresh avocado.

steph's go-to break

Have a great weekend, you little love nuggets!!


Steph's Scanned Signature