How We Removed Paint from the Brick on The Merc

Dudes! We’re renovating an 1928 mercantile store and turning it into our dream home! Start from the beginning here!

Uncovering the brick on the front of the Merc has been a huge undertaking. In the 1940’s when the original store was added on to, the brick was covered up and has been buried under 2″ plaster ever since.

When I was planning the exterior reno I knew that I wanted to uncover it, but the problem with that is that you have no idea what you’re going to find. The brick had 3 layers of paint on it and had been HEAVILY scarred so that the plaster would stick to it. It wasn’t the pristine and perfect brick of my dreams, thats for sure.

One good thing that came out of the plaster removal was uncovering the original Santa Clara Merc Sign. Oh my gosh, guys it was the BEST!!

Even with the brick in as rough of shape as it was, we weren’t coving it back up so we had some work to do. We tried a few different techniques for taking the paint off and some worked better than others. Loads of you thought we should just leave it, but because the building on either side will have white stucco I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough contrast and really wanted the brick to be its original color.

The first thing we tried was power washing it.

We tried 2 different pressures with it. The first one took off 2 of the layers, but the bottom layer stuck. (This is the lowest section of the wall in the picture above)

The second one was a higher pressure, and while it took the layers off, it also ate away at the brittle brick and left it looking worse than before. (The middle section in the picture above)

The next thing we tried was using a paint stripper and it did absolutely nothing.

We also tried a wire brush on a grinder and while it took the paint off, it destroyed the brick.

After so many failed attempts we finally found one that worked! We used flap disc sanding pads that you put on a grinder and they work SO WELL. We got ours at Home Depot (they’re these ones!)


Look at that!!!

They do take off part of the brick, but just enough to remove the gouges and smooth it all flat. The little indents that you can still see are from where they nailed the chicken wire to the walls.

The lower section where we power washed it is still a little rough but waaaayyy better than it was. I think we’re going to go over it with a belt sander just to smooth it out a little bit more!

Its definitely labor intensive but SO worth it! Can the husband of the year get a round of applause?!

Up next is getting the grout lines prepped and ready for new grout! Its a good thing I’m a pro at this already 😉. We will definitely need to seal it to protect the brick because its so old, do you have any suggestions on a good brick sealer? Something that doesn’t leave a sheen is what we’re looking for!

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August 31, 2017 at 10:53AM

She was adored in Britain, and beyond, and in her death was dubbed “the people’s princess.” Diana, Princess of Wales, brought a warmth and humanity to the British monarchy that it hadn’t known before, and the masses loved her for it. Her struggles, her heartbreak, her tireless charitable work endeared her to people everywhere, and 20 years ago — on Aug. 31, 1997 — Diana’s death at 36 in a high-speed car crash in Paris left the world in mourning. Tens of thousands paid their respects in person, tearfully laying flowers at the gates of Kensington Palace in her memory. Millions more watched her funeral, which was televised around the globe.

From left, Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Earl Charles Spencer, Prince William, and Prince Philip stood as the coffin bearing the body of Princess Diana was taken into Westminster Abbey in London on Sept. 6, 1997. (John Gaps III/Pool)

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17 Decor Pieces You Can Eternally Mix And Match (+ How To Pair Them!)

Hey hey!! You know when you have a new perspective come into your life and it makes you take pause? Well, my sister Amy just bought their first house (YAY!!!) and so we are in constant conversation about home decor and how to furnish it. I sent her over my private pinterest board of FAVORITE decor at The Home Depot and she was like, “um hi, why wouldn’t you share this with your readers?” SO. Are you ready to see 17 of my favorite pieces that you can mix and match?!

Lets chat living rooms. the living room is the first place that people think of when it comes to decorating because a) its the center of your home b) its what people see when they come over 3) it where you usually invest the most money. I’ve picked some awesome staples, consider these a spring board, that you can customize and fill in with DIY, thrifted treasures, or favorite pieces you already have! (Remember my post all about mixing thrifted + new?)

I love an eclectic mix of styles, its what Vintage Revivals is all about, so here are a few ways I would start!

I love all of these pieces so much and would use any (and all!) of them in my house! I feel like you can pick your favorite from each group and mix and match to your hearts content! These tables are money (especially that white and wood one! 😍) and hello, they’re all under $225!

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Are you sick to death of me talking about how great the rugs at Home Depot are? Literally everytime I hop online and look they’ve added even more and I swear to you the prices are the greatest I’ve ever found. That bottom one that is $126 for a 5×8 is DEFINITELY living at the Merc, and I used the one that is only $179 in Aspyn’s Living Room makeover!
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Lighting can be tricky, and while i love a good DIY, the thought of electrical currents surging through your body can be a little much for some people. I get it! These are some of my favorite lights that look like they came out of a perfectly curated designer showroom but cost 4x less than their showroom counterparts.

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Couches are probably the most important piece in your living room, which means they automatically get priority stardom. Amp up the style game with any of these guys (the blue leather chesterfield is SO good!!) and you’ve already done 90% of the work!


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Ok one more thing we need to have a heart to heart about. One reason that I’m a HUGE advocate of buying furniture from is because of their return policy. Sure you can order similar finds from other online retailers, but do you have a place to return them in store if it doesn’t work? I am LITERALLY the worst person at returning things and the thought of returning a couch? That needs to be shipped back?! That’s never going to happen in my life I’d rather live with it. But if for some reason I need to, I’ve got a Home Depot 10 minutes away that will happily take it off my hands. Why would you want the hassle of repackaging and shipping a couch? Blah.

So I’m dying to know, which of the pieces are your faves?

HUGE thank you to my best and favorite partner in all the land The Home Depot for teaming up with me on this post. As always, all selects and opinions are my own, as was the decision to get a Home Depot tattoo. I mean, people get Harley Davidson tattoos all the time, why would a Home Depot one be any different!?


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Kitchen Layout + Design at The Merc

A huge eye-opening lesson that I’ve learned with the Merc, is just how much planning ahead of time has to go into building or renovating. I’m admittedly a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. Its who I’ve always been but I can’t really do that with a renovation like this. Man its a good thing I have an awesome contractor to keep me on task! So while we are still a few months away from kitchen installation, and the walls are currently 2×4’s the kitchen planning is in full swing.

A few years ago I met Shawn from Aspen Mills, he is the most wicked talented cabinet maker that I’ve ever seen. He’s also a nice guy with an adorable wife that I want to be best friends with. NBD.

For years Shawn and I have had these “when I have a house…” talks. We even made it as far as designing the layout for the kitchen in the new construction house that wasn’t. I did a little digging and came cross the first time I mentioned him on the blog. September 2012. WUT. He helped me by cutting out these wooden circles. What a guy. Well I’m happy to report that after 5 years of waiting we are FINALLY taking our cabinet making relationship to the next level!!

Obviously the Merc is special and the kitchen at the Merc is SUPER special, being the heart of the home and all. So lets dive into the design, and then we can talk layout.

I’m trying really hard to keep the design of the Merc as period friendly as possible, looking through tons of images on the internet I came across a common theme. Cabinets. (I know you’re thinking duh) but in the 1930’s pantries didn’t really exist. There were just loads and loads of cabinets. So that’s what we’re doing!


Typical cabinets have at least a 2″ trim piece around the edge of the doors so that you can mount the hinges easily. (This is why Shaker style cabinetry is so popular!) but the style for the Merc is going to be a little different.

We’re doing inset slab doors. Inset means they sit inside the base frame,  and slab means that they are just a flat front. Similar to these guys.

But instead of leaving them plain, we’re adding a small bit of moulding on the edge. Picture a basic 1″ traditional picture frame and you’ve got it! I haven’t been able to track down pictures of what I want for inspiration, so we’re just going to go for it and hope for the best!

I’ve gone back and forth on wood vs. color vs. wood vs. color. Here’s my thoughts. Wood cabinets are great. They are classic. They also all look relatively the same. I mean sure, there are different finishes etc. but how often do you really see stand out wood cabinets that stand out because of the detailing? The grain is always the star.

You are way more inclined to see detailing on painted cabinets because the color is usually one uniform shade so variation in the design stands out. I’ve also gone back and forth on the color. I LOVE the idea of doing a really dark (almost black) green (like SW Jasper) but I’m feeling a little hesitant because its having a moment right now and I want to Merc to feel a little more traditional and a little less trendy.

Shawn used a similar color in a Parade home this year and it was SO pretty.

In order for the space to feel balanced we need some wood. so on our island and shelving we’re using bleached walnut.

Isn’t it so pretty?! Its exactly what it sounds like. Normal walnut that goes through a bleaching process. Shawn said it was pretty intensive so hopefully he doesn’t hate me when this is all said and done!

Ok so lets dive into the layout and then I’ll hit on a few more design elements that I am SO excited about!

For context, the kitchen is this little room inside the big room.

It looks little compared to the size of the rest of the space, but its actually pretty huge. There are just a few #mercperks we have to work around. For now, to get our certificate of occupancy from the city (the approval that we can move in) we have to put a temporary wall in the space that opens up into the living room. Another fun thing that we’re doing in phase 2 is putting in a giant divided light window between the opening and the brick (see where all of the sheetrock is? Behind that rack? That is where the window will be.

We’ve also go a massive window that we have to work around and the opening that goes into the entryway.

AND if that isn’t enough excitement, we’re keeping the brick wall with the little window.

So this is what we came up with. The top of the image is the opening that goes into the main entryway.

The only full wall is getting cabinetry and shelving galore! This is where the range is going to be. And if you’re wondering, no we’re not putting in a range hood. Which I feel totally fine about because my cooking skills are limited to eggs over easy and chocolate chip cookies. Do you think we’re crazy?

The tall cabinets on the sides are my favorite. We needed to come up with something creative because I’m keeping the brick and little window. The window sits quite a bit lower than the countertops which meant that they couldn’t go all the way to the wall and we needed something that wasn’t as deep as the standard base cabinets.

I’m straight up unapologetically copying this design from Buster and Punch. I LOVE IT. The horizontal dividers and wired glass. Freaking AMAZING.

The shelves aren’t going to be normal shelves. They’re going to be off the wall suspended shelves. These ones from are ohfarmhouse EVERYTHING.

Imagine something similar but covering the entire wall!

These suspended shelves are also solving our giant window problem.

We’ve got a massive storefront window in this space. With the ones in the entryway I feel like we were able to work the space in a way that we still had some privacy. To get more privacy than just having a window straight into the kitchen, we are putting the same style suspended shelves in front of it! That way if people walk by and glance inside they’ll have to actively look around things to see inside.

We’re putting our fridge on the left of the window and a tall broom cabinet on the right.

Most of our storage is going to be on this wall with floor to ceiling cabinets covering this entire corner.

The microwave will be in one of the lower drawer spots. The top rendering is the wall that leads into the entryway, the second one is where the window/entry into the living room will be.

The island is going to be in the center with the sink close to the stove. Shooting off from the center of it is a waterfall table made out of bleached walnut that has oversized dovetails on the edge.

I am SO excited about the plan that we’ve come up with! What do you think? Anything you’re particularly loving or hating?



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August 28, 2017 at 02:47PM

Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm along the southeast coastline of Texas over the weekend, the most powerful storm to hit the United States since 2004. As the storm lingers in the region, rainfall has caused major flooding in the Houston area and south Texas, leading to thousands of people needing rescue and evacuation.

People wait to be rescued from their flooded home after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on Aug. 28 in Houston. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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