DIY Paneled Ceiling (How to Cover Popcorn Ceilings)

I’m so excited to share how we DIY planked our living room ceiling today. This one week project adding a TON of personality and made our living room feel much more expensive, polished and true to 1965 when it was built. This project is surprisingly affordable (around $800!) and can be used to cover over popcorn or any ceiling that is not your taste or needs more detail. It’s the single BEST DIY we’ve done in this home so far!

But first, a walk down memory lane. Here’s how it looked when we purchased the home last December—

As you can see here, when we bought this home the ceiling was painted gray to match the walls. We were excited to have a vaulted ceiling, and to remove the curtains to modernize this room. That said, the room felt very off. It felt tall, but small, and very boring. We were pretty confident that with some vision and DIY work we could make it really special, but it felt a bit overwhelming as we had never taken on a wood ceiling before this.

Thankfully, some guy named Collin (inside joke from our podcast if you don’t listen yet) is the most fearless DIY-er I have ever met in my life. He assured me that we could figure it out, no matter what. So we went for it!

This is “after,” WOW-WOW-WOW, right? What we did was add pre-made paneling to the entire ceiling, white washed it, and then rewrapped the beams so they are just a tiny bit more substantial and modern. It was absolutely the right call for this home and made a NIGHT and DAY difference in the overall vibe when you walk into the home.

Oh! And by the way, here’s the affordable chandelier we chose for our entryway.

Alright, I am going to pass the baton to Collin to tell you the DIY information. I really hope this DIY will be one you all keep doing for years and years to come.

cedar wood planks
white wash stain
-liquid nails

-circular saw
-measuring tape
-pneumatic nail gun

Measure the square footage of your space to determine how many planks you’ll need. The wood planks come in packages of 14 square feet, so this makes it easy to calculate how many you will need! We had about 425 square feet to cover, so we needed roughly 30 packages.

The panels are suuuper lightweight so it makes this pretty easy! Especially if you have an extra person to assist, which i would recommend if you’re adding them to a really high ceiling. It can get a little intimidating attaching them yourself while up on a really tall ladder if you don’t have much experience with ladders or aren’t great with heights. So, play it safe and ask a friend or family member to help! To attach them, you will need to use liquid nails and a nail gun. Simply put a bead of liquid nails on the back side of each panel, stick it in place and shoot nails into each end and into the middle of each panel. These panels are also tongue and groove, which means they actually connect into each other, making a really seamless look!

This next part is optional, but i think worth it for how beautiful the finished product is! After all of the panels are attached, take a brush and white wash stain and brush it onto the planks, making sure to brush in the direction of the grain. We just did one coat, but if you want a really dramatic white wash, give it a few more coats until it has the desired look. Additionally, the existing beams that run across the ceiling in this space were awkwardly thin and didn’t look right, so we simply added some pieces of 3/4″ wood to the 3 sides of each beam to make them bigger and look more appropriate for the size of this room.

And let’s wrap up this post with a few more completed images!

Thank you so much for reading. Be sure to pin this project for the future! xx- Elsie + Collin.

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Project Assistant: Collin DuPree, Photography: Amber Kelly. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Episode #44: (MIN) Oops I’m Moving Again Follow Up Q+A

This weeks mini episode is a follow up to Episode 42 where I share the story of how we decided to move instead of build-on. As expected, you all had a lot of questions, comments and feelings… so this episode is in response to that!

Ting is joining me again on this episode as Emma’s roof is being redone. I think he makes a really good co-host. So, thank you Ting for filling in–especially since he did this with like 12 hours notice. 😀

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Show Notes:

-So, definitely the MOST asked question was that you all want to see the new house. I promise we will get to that in the next month or two… but right now we are still under contract and I am superstitious about that stuff. I will say we are planning to do a video tour and a photo tour (plus years of blog posts to come!) so don’t worry… I can’t wait to share with you. It’s a part of my job, but I also genuinely love sharing home stuff with you!

-If you haven’t heard Episode #42 Oops I’m Moving Again this episode is a follow up to that big announcement. So listen to that episode before this one!

-I answer all kinds of questions including: Is the house haunted? How did you pay for this? What made you fall in love with the new home?

-If you have a ghost story please send them to podcast AT abeautifulmess DOT com. We are planning to do two ghost story episodes this autumn. We LOVE ghost stories and I know you have amazing stories because we’ve occasionally received them in the past and it was a TREAT.

-I mention our main bedroom wallpaper (here’s a link to the wallpaper).

-Our a-frame playhouse and mid-century play set from our previous home.

-I mentioned that we ordered a Joybird sectional that never even arrived, so we rerouted it to our new home. Here’s the sectional…. can you guess what color we chose? (hint-hint… the name of the color is very personal to our family)

Hard drying paint tutorial (use this if you want to paint kitchen or bathroom cabinets)

-Shout out to Davis Custom Finishes who painted our home within a week of me texting them (Wooo! If you live in Nashville hit them up!) and also FGL flooring who did an incredible job on our wood floors.

If you have any other questions, just ask em here in the comments!!! xoxo- Elsie

Episode #43: How To Be Your Own General Contractor

Hi! This week, Emma’s roof is being worked on, so she is taking the week off. Elsie’s friend, Ting, has joined us in her place. This episode is all about how to be your own general contractor (or project manager) during a renovation, which can save thousands of dollars. If you’re planning to renovate a kitchen or bathroom in the future, you’ll definitely want to give this episode a listen. We talk about so many things, including lessons we learned the hard way!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Show Notes:

Here’s a photo of Ting in case you’re like me and you have to Google every single podcast voice to see what they look like. Haha! Also, is it just me, or are pre-COVID photos so CLOSE and awkward looking now … it’s funny to me how quickly I got used to never hugging anyone. Bizarre!

What we cover in this episode:

-We define the difference between a general contractor and a subcontractor or sub.
-The pros and cons of being your own GC.
-Tips for hiring a contractor and what to look for.
-How to create a payment schedule, especially your first time working with someone new.
-How to be a good manager + always keep a paper trail.
-Uh oh … what if you need to fire a subcontractor.
-How to be prepared to get quotes (aka how to be a good client)
-We each share our favorite type of renovations.
-The big wins: focus on finding a good price, creating a good payment schedule and keep all your communications in writing.
-And we end with a little pep talk!

We also answer a reader question about how to keep a house clean and have cute rugs, etc., with PETS. We each have very strong feelings on this subject. Basically, it’s worth it! Just let your pets mess stuff up—you only live once! 🙂 Oops. I think I just found my “hill to die on” haha.

Thanks so much for listening. We love you! Elsie

Elsie’s Living Room and Breakfast Room Tour

  • This room has come SO FAR. I’m really proud of the work we’ve been able to complete on it. Here’s how it looked when we first bought the home at the end of last year.

I knew right away that I wanted to paint the kitchen in order to help it blend with the rest of the home. The dark cabinets made it feel disconnected to me. I also wanted to lighten the fireplace—we ended up using mortar paint to recolor it a creamy white.

One of the highlights of our home are the giant picture windows that look out to trees. In the winter, before the trees were full we could also watch the sunrise there every morning. It’s pretty magical. We LOVE the views and the direct access to our porch from this living room.

I love having a breakfast table right next to our kitchen—it’s so convenient with young children. The open floor plan (in general) definitely does have pros and cons, but my favorite part is probably that I can sit on the sofa and sip coffee while our girls eat their breakfast or that whichever of us is cooking doesn’t feel disconnected while the rest of the family hangs out or plays.

If you scoot back 10 or 15 steps from that last pic, this is the view. This is far and away our most used room in the home, from breakfast to bedtime stories and everything in between.

I am such a big fan of the mortar painted fireplace. We ended up using the color Swiss Coffee by Behr, which is the perfect creamy white, in my opinion. If you are looking for a warm white that’s not too beige, I recommend it.

We hired Asa’s team, Davis Custom Finishes, once again for this project. They were so fast, so if you live in Nashville I HIGHLY recommend giving him a call.

Here’s a list of sources to each of the items that are still for sale.

Sofa/Article, Rug/Apple & Oak, Coffee Table/Anthropologie (sold out, but here’s a similar one), Hanging Chair/Two’s Company, Breakfast Table/Wayfair, Pink Dining Chairs/Urban Outfitters, Wicker chandelier/World Market (sold out, but here’s a similar one), Mirror/Anthropologie, Blanket/Lucky Collective, Dress/Target.

Thanks for coming along on the tour! xx- Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Kelly. Project Assistant: Collin DuPree. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Episode #42: Oops, I’m Moving Again

Hi hi … OK, so WE’RE MOVING and this episode contains the long version of the story! This was an unexpected decision that we made a little over a month ago. I wanted to wait to share the news, A. Once we knew it was really happening and B. On the podcast where I could really CHAT it out since there are so many moving parts and details. Hope you enjoy … my personal drama is 100% your entertainment this week. Haha!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Show notes: 

-Before I begin … I get it, this is crazy. But also it’s just a house. It’s both. I simultaneously feel humiliated that we spent so much time shopping for a “forever home” only to move six months later, and proud that we took the leap to pivot when it became clear it was the right move. So anyway, feel free to poke fun at me, I honestly really deserve it this time. UGH.

-If you’re not a podcast listener or cannot listen without a transcript (we have been working on adding transcripts, by the way, apologies for the delay!), I can summarize for you why we are moving. The short answer is that during the quarantine we decided that it would be easier to move to a larger home than to take on the project of building on to our home. COVID-19 put a lot in perspective for us, and suddenly “easier” and “simple” became a huge priority. And with the virus still escalating, we realized that having our ideal office and guest space was more of an immediate priority than we felt it was when we purchased our current home last December.

-Our next episode will be about big quarantine changes. We have collected some STORIES—I laughed, I cried … it’s gonna be a doozy. If you have any stories we’d love to hear yours in the comments here or if you prefer you can email us at podcast AT abeautifulmess DOT com 

-Here’s a link to Joy Cho’s post I mentioned that sent me over a cliff (not her fault, I was already headed over that cliff for sure—haha). But truly, I am grateful that COVID-19 forced me to take a pause and really evaluate our options before jumping into a lengthy building process.

-Here’s a link to our realtor Daniel Long, who is such an angel human and talented realtor.

-In the episode, I feel like I could have better described what we love about the house we ended up finding. I have always been a REALLY bad storyteller and jump ahead, skip details and generally just rush through stories and skip all the best parts. Ugh!

So here’s a little more JUICE. The new house that we found checks every single box from our must-have list, which we never expected to find. It is way more pet-friendly for our dogs than our previous two homes have been (one of our dogs is becoming elderly and can no longer do stairs), it has all the rooms on our must-have list. It doesn’t need a lot of work but it also DOES need a lot of updating—the perfect combination for a blogger like me. It is beautiful, but very much stuck in the 1990s, so it will be a fun ongoing project for us that we can tackle at a pace that fits with our life as parents of two little people. Also, the yard is flat, and the cul-de-sac is perfect for our girls, as they are both into riding scooters now. Most importantly though, it felt strangely “like home” from the first time we stepped foot inside. Our realtor, Daniel, even commented that it reminded him of our previous home, which felt right.

-So, prepping our half-moved in home to list in one month was SUPER crazy. One part fun and exciting, and one part the most exhausting month of our lives. I’m still recovering from the stress of it.

For most of the month, we didn’t even know if it was possible. Then suddenly, the last of the clean up was done and it felt like a magic moment … the house looked GOOD. Here are some links to stuff that has already gone up: painted kitchen cabinets, refreshing our deck, our painted exterior (and there is quite a bit more coming over the next month or two!)

-I’d love to hear your ideas for surprising children with a new home. We’re so excited and we want to make it special for them, especially since this has generally been a really unsettled year for them.

Whew … I feel like we just bonded on a whole new level. Haha! Thank you so much for following along. I love you! xx- Elsie

P.S. If you have more questions, leave them for me here. If we get enough questions, I might do a mini episode just Q+A and clarifying stuff from this episode!