Guys, I’ve neglected telling you about some of the incredible projects that have popped up in our house in the past few months.  I’ve mentioned before what an incredible craftsman Dr. Jay’s father is.  Remember the farmhouse-style dining room table he made for us?



Over the past few month’s he’s jumped at helping us with small projects to furnish our house. Small projects for him, though they would be impossible for us to complete. He created this bar for us during the kitchen remodel (among the many other kitchen remodel projects he completed for us!)


I’m sitting at this bar right now, blogging.  It’s the perfect place to sit because it’s very close to the kitchen, where the food is!  We love the thickness of the walnut wood and the contrast it provides to the stone counters and white woodwork.  In the photo above you can see that little leftover space between the door and the counter in the kitchen, to the left.  We purposely left that spot open (free from cabinets) because we wanted to break up the long line of counter/cabinet/drawers on that wall, and because cabinets and drawers would certainly be in the way of the door anyway.  So we left it open until we came up with the solution for what to do with that space.  I went back and forth shopping for off-the-shelf pieces, which were super hard to find in the right dimensions, and something custom.  And how would we make something custom?  Dr. Jay’s dad to the rescue:

ImageFour open shelves, made of walnut, that serve as the drop-off/pick-up point for anyone headed outside.  It’s where we leave hats and mittens, my purse, out-going mail, wallet, etc.  It keeps these things from piling up on the counter.  It has saved the kitchen, really.  We used a hanging system for the top two shelves and a bracket system for the bottom two.  It was a trial getting everything level and precise, but doesn’t it look intentional and as if it was always there?  He routed out grooves on the bottom of these shelves so that the wire wouldn’t slide around and become unstable.  These shelves make us look a lot more organized than we probably are!


Another piece he made for us is this console table for behind the sofa.  We bought the hairpin legs (from Modern Legs, who were great to work with by the way!) and attached them with screws to the bottom of this walnut cherry wood he pieced together and finished off for us.



In short, Dr. Jay’s dad is an incredible carpenter.  His name is Matthew DeBacker and the whole family has been bugging him for almost a year to start selling his work.  He finally agreed to start an Etsy shop, so I’m proud to introduce you to MODwoodworks at  He has a few of smaller pieces listed right now (things like breadboards) mostly due to the issue of shipping, but if you are in the Atlanta or North Georgia area you could probably arrange pick-up or delivery of a larger custom item.  Matthew sources wood local to the southeast from felled trees or fences which he has milled down for lumber.  He seeks out incredible cherry, oak and walnut (we love the walnut all over our house) and amazes us with his technique in combining the pieces he finds.



Matthew is always enthusiastic about the challenge of a design project and makes everything with such high quality.  And most of all, it’s something that he loves to do.  Many of you have asked me in the past if he does sell his work, so I wanted to be sure and let you know that yes, it’s finally out there and I know he’d be interested in talking to you about your project!


Table for Eight

It’s high time I showed you the newest furniture addition to our household: the farmhouse table Dr. Jay’s dad made.


It’s made out of beautiful walnut he acquired in Georgia, and it’s not even stained, just a few coats of poly.

It’s very large, 95” long and 42” wide.  We wanted it to be able to seat at least eight people, and we can certainly do that.  I bet we could even squeeze two more if we really tried.


I know, can you believe he made that?  We are so in love with it.  He did a beautiful job with the proportions, considering every detail from the thickness of the top and skirt to the tapering on the legs.  The legs are even bolted on so we can remove them should we need to move the table. 

Dr. Jay and I have been talking about getting a dining table for a while.  When we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary last June we decided that since wood is the traditional fifth wedding anniversary gift, it made sense to get serious about a dining table whenever we found a home to move into.  Thank you, Grandpa, for making our farmhouse table dreams come true.

Side chairs are from West Elm, end chairs are Tolix knock-offs from World Market.  I was able to buy all of them during January furniture sales, and all the chairs are very sturdy and proving to be kid-proof.

Originally I was thinking that we should have a rug underneath the table to protect the floors and for some pattern, but then I realized that we don’t have quite enough space for two feet of rug on each side of the table.  You need two feet on each side so that the chairs stay on the rug when you pull them out from the table, and because of the way the window bumps out, I don’t have the clearance on one end.

window bump 

(Excuse the quarter-round molding we still need to attach from after the floor refinishing.  And the walls that need to be painted.)

Think I should do those FLOR tiles so that I can account for these corners? 

Welcome back to me and to you

Hello Friends,

Having a wonderful 2013 so far?  Make any resolutions?  I like to call them goals.  It’s always good to have goals.  One of mine is to blog more.  So here we go.  And I know you are thinking, why is she just now talking about the New Year?  That happened like two weeks ago.  Well, Dr. Jay and the Little Miss and I just got back from a trip to the west coast (in fact, we’re not even home YET) and I haven’t really felt like I’ve shifted into my new year yet.  But I’m definitely done with 2012.  I’m kind of in-between right now.  Talk to me on Monday.  Hopefully I’ll be back on my feet by then.  See, we left Tennessee in a whirlwind on the 2nd for a trip to San Diego and Los Angeles (Dr. Jay had a conference and Little Miss and I tagged along and we left Mark to have fun with his various grandparents for several days).  Fresh from California, Dr. Jay and I want to juice everything, take more hikes and learn to surf.  It was a great trip. I’ll share some photos below.  But before we could leave, we had to get the downstairs ready for the floors to be refinished.  And some new hardwoods to be laid where there was carpet.  So this required some fancy footwork moving all the furniture out of the downstairs.  And Dr. Jay was working on re-mudding some walls that formerly had wallpaper on them and he wanted to complete all this before the floor work since it’s a messy job.  I wish I had photos for you.  We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  And we broke a pane in Mark’s window trying to hang some curtains.  Ughh.  It was one of those things that happens when you really don’t have time to deal with it.  But we managed to leave on time for our trip and without too much panic.  Yes, we left our house in the hands of a contractor.  I did remember to call my neighbor and let her know that we would be gone and that there would be trucks parked in front of our house for the floor work.  Other than that, we gave him free reign to work his magic while we were gone.  I am very very excited to see the floors tomorrow.  The house has red oak floors and the planks are about 2 inches wide and it used to have that sort of golden stain on it.  We had all the floors refinished to a stain called Early American.  We wanted them to be a medium brown with no red tones.  Anyway, leaving town was probably a great idea for us as a family.  It would have been too difficult to be there while this process was taking place.  BUT on the otherhand, it was hard for me as a designer to hand over the job to someone else and not be around to offer my suggestions.  We talked on the phone a few times (I really LOVE our contractor.  He is a perfectionist and I know he worked hard for us to be pleased with the job) but it was tough to not be around to say “Hold up, wait a minute”.  I actually had a dream the other night about the project going awry.  We came back to a scene of about 15 people roaming around doing some sort of tiling and I was confused because there wasn’t supposed to be any tile and I didn’t think so many people would be at our house.  The person running the job was actually a woman and she said “Honey, I gotta do what I gotta do.”  And then we had these crazy concrete statues (What?!) and I saw my contractor putting paint primer on them.  That’s when I lost it.  I screamed “Nothing vertical!   You aren’t supposed to touch anything vertical!”  Nice response, Rachel.  I don’t think it will be anything like that tomorrow when we see the floors, for the record.  But I thought that dream was so vivid I had to write it down.
I know I owe you a post on Sawyer’s room, and believe me, I have some decent photos of it.  BUT they are not with me at the moment so I thought I would update you with the state of the home renovations.  Basically, our plan for this year is to refinish the floors and add hardwood where there was carpet (check!), renovate the kitchen (sort of on-going), and remove wallpaper and paint a lot of the house.  Those are really the main goals for the house, along with just getting it in order and set up to host family and friends.  We’re actually pretty far along with the wallpaper removal.  We only have a super annoying/stuck on with super glue border in one of the rooms downstairs and the wallpaper in the bathroom upstairs to go as far as removal.  The other walls are being prepped for paint (which is a long process, especially when you leave town in the middle of it) and I’m currently choosing paint for these rooms.  That should be another post.  I have a lot of plans.
As far as the kitchen, we +hope+ to start that project by February.  We think we will use the same contractor (again, another post should be devoted to choosing a contractor) and we’ve already started in on buying some of the appliances.  We bought the dishwasher months ago when we bought the washer and dryer from Sears and it made sense to bundle appliances for more savings.  I bought the sink and faucet through my uncle who has connections in plumbing sales.  I cannot WAIT to use this sink and faucet- they are killer.  And we just scored the refrigerator on Craigslist a few weeks ago.  That’s a long story as well, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.  We got a fabulous fridge for under $1000, a little more if you add in the delivery fee but it was well worth it.  I’ll share more photos as there is more progress to share.  Tomorrow I will definitely have floor photos to share.  I cannot wait.  For now, here’s a taste of what we saw in southern California.  The architecture on this trip blew me away.  And the TERRAIN!  I had no idea southern California had so many cool landforms, and so many houses and buildings built right into it.  Incredible.  AND we saw Frank Gehry’s house.  I’m telling you, it was a blast.
ImageSalk Institute: La Jolla, California
By Louis Kahn
A building on the campus of University of California, San Diego.
UCSD blew us away.
ImageThe Library at UCSD.  Where you can read a book about astronauts in a building that looks like a spaceship.
ImageThis is the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD.  It is amazing.
Frank Gehry’s house in Santa Monica.  This may have been my favorite part of the trip.  Please tell me he still lives there.  He and his wife started building this house, which is actually exterior to the original Dutch Colonial house, in the late ’70s.  It looks like he just keeps adding to it.  It is a joy to see.
ImageI love this fence behind Gehry’s house.  I am totally gaga for the reveals in it.  Dr. Jay thinks I am such a weirdo.
Be back with floors and Sawyer’s room and so much more.  2013 is going to be a great year.

Little Sister arrives!

We did it!  We had our second child just 10 days ago: Sawyer Jennifer DeBacker.  Here we are introducing Mark to his little sister.




Sawyer has been an incredible addition to our family and already I can’t imagine life without her. 

I know I haven’t posted much in the past few months.  Life has become ridiculously full and busy, but I still think blogging is a worthwhile pursuit. I hope to

be more consistent with it once we are more settled.  I did want to share one thing (in addition to the baby announcement!) that Dr. Jay showed me this morning.  He has become an avid (and talented) photographer over the last year or so, and has recently started posting more to Flickr.  Today, through Flickr, he found an interview Moby gave to 1883 digital magazine about his blog about L.A. Architecture.  Los Angeles has been on my list to visit for quite a while.  I’ve been to California three times, and only really to Northern California and I know Southern California is like an entirely different country.  Anyway, I just love hearing Moby talk architecture in Los Angeles. He travels quite a bit and has a very interesting take on what he finds to photograph in L.A. 

Gives me the itch to travel there.  But I’ve got enough travel on my plate for the summer.  We move in a few short weeks and even fewer boxes have yet been packed.  I hope to be able to blog, but know I haven’t forgotten about you.  I just have to figure out how to juggle.

Thanks for sticking with me.