The Living Room: Redesigned!

So remember when the living room looked like this:

Then it looked like this:

Well now it looks like this:

And another view of before:

Stage 2 where we were using our older furniture and had the tv downstairs:

And how it looks like this!

For Christmas this year we bought each other new living room furniture. We have agreed that we have officially become old because we got super excited about new furniture. The lounge, couch, and loveseat were all part of our Christmas to one another. We knew when we moved in that we wanted to update our furniture and get pieces that reflected our personality better. We also wanted lighter pieces. the leather couches were super comfy but with our dark floors the couches were overbearing. We absolutely love the new pieces and the style! Even though our house was built in the 80s it still has a feeling of a Mid Century home. Since moving in we have done a tone of research in architecture and design and we really want our home to reflect the Mid Century Modern style. If you haven’t noticed we are minimalist and that fits right in with the Mid Century feel. We’ve also come to love the Scandinavian Modern approach to decorating and we are trying to implement it consistently throughout the house.



This little area is now my new favorite spot in the whole house! I’ve wanted this chair for as long as I can remember and the day we finally purchased it I was a very happy lady! It is a replica of the original Eames Lounge Chair and it can be found here.

I built the light art piece a couple weeks ago and I can’t be happier with it! We really wanted to make the living room a place that was slightly more formal. To use that meant taking the tv and gaming system out of the room and moving it upstairs. When we did that we ended up with a large wall that was completely bare. For the living room we really wanted it to be a room that was about conversations and community.Β  Some of our best time with friends have been when we sit around and talk about life and the arts. The Crane brothers (yes Niles and Frasier πŸ™‚ ) are two of our favorite tv characters and we love the diversity of their knowledge of the arts. Ok the Crane brothers are a little higher class ( and snootier) than we are but we do love the desire to be immersed in the arts… We also spend a lot of time just playing games with our friends and talking about nothing… yada yada yada… all those aspects were what we were thinking about when we were planning on how to use the bare wall. We over think things just a little πŸ™‚ We knew we wanted a functional art piece and this is what we ended up with.

I originally found an art piece that was similar to this in an architecture magazine and I customized it to our wall space. I’ll be posting later on the process of building the art piece.


I’m so glad that we took out the third large piece of furniture and now have an open entry into the living room from the front door. It opens the room up so much more and allows a better flow through the room. Also we took out the ceiling fan and I’m so glad we took it down! We had no clue how much it would open up the height of the room by just taking out a fan (plus it was a hideous fan that was made of leather and deer antlers… yep antlers. Ha not our style one bit!). Now we just have lamps to light the room and the sky light. We greatly enjoy havingΒ  more ambient light and not over powering overheads.

I also love our lampskin rug. Yes I’ve named it, Eleanor Rigby, and it is the softest rug I’ve ever stepped on. I’ve been known to move the coffee table at times and take naps on Eleanor with Amydog πŸ™‚



So with the new furniture and art piece we finally are starting to feel like we have a room that we are finished with and can full enjoy! We’ve already had several gatherings in the newly designed room and we both feel like we have achieved our goal of having a Scandinavian Modern/ Mid Century Modern room that lends itself to conversations. πŸ™‚

What do you think of our newly designed living room? What type of conversation would you have in a living room like this?


Happy New Year

snowday02175 copy

Happy New Year! I seriously can’t believe that it is 2013 already. The past year went by so quickly! It feels like we were just beginning 2012 and now it is over.

This past year was a great one for us. We purchased and almost completed renovating The Square House, we grew closer to each other in our relationship, we strengthened relationships with friends, we made new friends, I ran my first half marathon, and we had a great year with all of our couples that we had to honor of photographing their weddings.

Around here we aren’t much for resolutions but we both have some goals for the upcoming year that we would like to achieve.

– Philip and I both are seeking to grow in our personal art work. He will be doing more fine art landscape photography and I will be starting a side company from Ava Grace Photography that will devoted to boudoir photography and fine art portraiture for women. We’re both looking forward to branching out and doing more personal work.

– We plan on spending more time enjoying Square House and not working on the house πŸ™‚ After 6 intense months of renovations and working on the house we are tired of seeing tools and paint brushes… Thankfully we are just about done with all the projects we want to wanted to do and we can enjoy our home. We’ve enjoyed opening our home to our friends and family and can’t wait to host more in the future.

-In 2011 we traveled to some really amazing places. We visited Hawaii, Ireland, Amsterdam, Vegas, and half a dozen other great cities. 2012 rolled around and we didn’t make it out of Memphis that often. Part of that was due to our schedule this year and part was buying Square House and working so much on it. We absolutely love traveling and being home so much this past year really made us sad. So world, we are coming for you! Hopefully we will see a ton of new places this year and experience different cultures πŸ™‚

So here is to a fun, happy, full 2013! We hope that your New Year brings greatness to your life!

What are some of your goals or resolutions for 2013?

From the Kenneys (and our uncooperative pets)

Thoughts on running my first half marathon…

Today I did something I never thought I would do, I ran the St. Jude half marathon.

I’ve never been a hard core runner. I don’t like running one bit but I still signed up in April to run the half marathon. I had a couple reasons for wanting to do the race:

1. I wanted to see if I could do it.
2. All my siblings but one have finished half marathons and I felt left out of the cool club πŸ™‚
3. I needed motivation to workout, a goal to work towards
4. Lots of my friends are hard core runners and I wanted to relate to them.
5. Philip told me to get a hobby so i thought I would try out running.
6. The half is for a great cause and I like supporting organizations like St. Jude.

Twelve weeks ago I started my race training. At that point I really couldn’t run a full mile without stopping. I’ve always been a small person and pretty in shape but my cardio strength has been lacking over the past few years. I planned on starting earlier with my training but we purchased this house and it flat out wore me out so much that I didn’t feel up to running much…

Throughout training I followed Hal Higdon’s Novice Half Marathon training. It was a great program for a nonrunner like me. My weeks consisted of 3 midweek runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) and one long weekend run. Oddly enough I enjoyed the long runs a lot more than the shorted midweek runs. The midweek runs quickly got old and I felt obligated to do every run on the schedule. If I didn’t do the midweek runs my long runs really stunk…

And long runs almost always happened on Sunday after we photographed a wedding. Before I started running regularly, I could barely walk the day after shooting a wedding. Every muscle in my body would be aching from the long wedding days. After running regularly I no longer hurt after weddings and I could actually run 4-8 miles post weddings.

I trained up to 12 miles and I was typically running 11:30-12:30 minute miles. I had gotten to the point where I could start a run and run the entire thing with no walking. I figured on race day I would probably do about a 12 minute mile and that would put me at about a 2 hour and 37 minute finish time. Originally when I started training my goal was to finish with any time under 3 hours. Because my training was going well I was looking forward to race day and getting the race finished…

And then this Thursday I woke up with a sore throat and killer headache. As much as I fought it with vitamins and meds by Friday I had a full on cold. I sat in bed most of Friday and pouted because I had worked so hard and at the last minute gotten sick. I was so frustrated and annoyed. I knew if I didn’t run the race I would regret it for a very long time and would feel like a quitter and failure. I put a lot of pressure on myself to run the actual race and I wanted to see my hard work come to a good end. Friday night I cried as I went to bed, I had no clue how I would wake up feeling and what I would do about the race.

Friday night I barely slept and when I woke up I could barely breathe through my nose. When I run I do most my breathing through my nose and that really had me worried. I told Philip the night before that I wouldn’t run if I had a fever but I kind of refused to take my temperature so he couldn’t force me to stay home.

When we got down to the starting line I was full of nerves. I’ve only run in one other race and crowds really make me nervous. All my long runs had been by myself and I was nervous that I would start out faster than I needed to go and burn out too fast. I picked a pace team to follow that was going slower than my normal pace so that I wouldn’t over do it. I’m glad I picked this team cause it really helped me through the first 6 miles.

The first couple miles were pretty easy and I think I was going on adrenaline for those miles. Then I hit mile 5 and the fact that I couldn’t breathe really started to hit home. By this point I was shaking pretty bad and my greatest fear was hitting me in the face, I had a fever. Some how I powered through and made it to the finish line and by my goal time, 2 hours and 59 minutes and 41 seconds. I barely squeezed the goal in! But I did it!

A couple of times during the race I found myself crying. When I signed up for the race I had no clue how emotional this specific race would be. When I saw the starting line I cried for the first time. It said “You’re running to save their lives.” Talk about a heavy way to start. There are a ton of parents of actual cancer patients in the race because the St. Jude campus is in Memphis. As I saw these parents, some of them who had lost their children to cancer I couldn’t help but tear up and think of the pain they had gone through. We ran through the St. Jude campus at one point in the race and I pretty much sobbed the whole way through the campus as doctors and patients where there cheering us on. The race raised over $5 million for the hospital and I couldn’t have been more proud to run the race.

Even though I was emotional over the reason for the race, I got caught up in my own struggle while running. I had to walk about a mile of the race (in spurts) and it killed me to know that I wasn’t going to be able to run the entire thing. At mile 8 I was thinking of giving up because I was struggling to breathe. My throat was tightening up and I was shaking from the fever. My sister and brother-in-law were at mile 8 cheering me on and it gave me the extra strength to push on.

As I got near the finish line I couldn’t help but cry again because I was so miserable. I was in a complete fog and pretty delirious at this point. As I gathered all my strength to sprint through the finish I cried and cried. I was so frustrated with myself and my time and just ready to be done. Philip found me pretty quickly and I collapsed into his arms crying.

I had no clue how hard the race would be on me physically and emotionally. I set out to run the race for myself and ended up seeing that I was being extremely selfish and prideful in the running. I wanted to finish with a great time and beat some of the people I knew where running. Even when I finished and a couple hours afterwards I was really upset with myself for not doing better with my time. I kept thinking that I didn’t push myself hard enough and I couldn’t have done better. I was frustrated that I got sick with a silly cold and to me it felt like it ruined 12 weeks of training.

At one point this afternoon I had to talk myself out of my funk. I couldn’t keep putting myself down for not finishing in the time I wanted. Heck I should be pretty proud of myself for 1. finishing the race and 2. doing it with a freaking fever. Most of the children at St. Jude will never be able to run a half marathon! They are fighting to stay alive each day and I was having self pity because I had a bad run time. Talk about a humbling moment. I felt like crying all over again. Though right now I have a fever overall I am healthy and able to run anytime I want to. I can have a common cold and not worry that it will kill me because my immune system is so weak. I thought I was running for the kids of St. Jude and in reality the run taught me so much about my selfishness.

I am so glad that went ahead and ran today. I was a miserable experience physically but I needed that run emotionally. I will probably never run a half marathon again but I am so glad that today, even with being sick, I completed my half marathon!


Now to find a new hobby πŸ™‚


The Finished Side Yard

Five months ago the outside of Square House looked like this:

Five months later the outside of Square House looks like this:

Yep. Major change to the side yard!! The jungle is officially gone and has been replaced with additional railing, a patio area, and a custom fire pit! In the previous post I talked about how we cleared out the jungle area and laid down all the gravel. This post will shoe the final project and also how we built our custom fire pit.

All along this backyard from has been our inspiration:

We love the mixture of modern concrete, gravel,Β  warm natural woods, and greenery. While working on our own yard we decided that the finish style for our place would be Southwestern Modern. We took the inspiration from the above image and adapted it to our own place. All along we knew we would have a fire pit in the area. We both love fires and sitting around them with friends. What we didn’t care for were the store bought ones. For our personal style we have always be drawn to a more modern look to a fire pit. I personally LOVE the square concrete fire pits and had my mind set on one.

Through much discussion with one another we came to the conclusion that since we had never worked with pouring concrete into a mold (we have done concrete work for setting fence post, but that is a whole different ball game) we shouldn’t try and tackle a concrete pour for such a big project. I was really sad about this because I really had envisioned a concrete fire pit in the area. Also concrete alone cannot stand the temperature of a wood burning fire. Most modern square fire pits are actually gas pits and not wood burning. If we had done a concrete pit we would have had to line it with fire bricks and that would have driven up the cost and labor. So instead of doing a solid poured concrete fire pit we constructed one out of cinder blocks, skim coated it, insulated it, then added a fire bowl for the actual fire area. Here is the step by step plan that we took. Sorry for the poor quality of images while building, we just used my IphoneΒ  while working πŸ™‚
We started by measuring off the area for the fire pit. Originally we were going to use the pavers that we found in the area for the patio seating area. When we decided to go ahead with a large fire pit we took the pavers and made a walk way. But since the pavers were 12 inches squared they were perfect for getting a visual for the actual size of the pit.

Then we dug a six inch trench and placed the first layer of cinder blocks in the trench. At this point we leveled the first layer. It took a full day to dig the trench and level the first row. Leveling the first layer is vital for the structural integrity of the fire pit. This area is surrounded by crape myrtles and their root system is very intense! Ever shovel full of dirt was full of roots and we were constantly having to stop and chop up roots.

The finished fire pit was made up of three levels of cinder blocks. After leveling the first layer we went ahead and stacked the rest of the blocks on and let them set over night. This allowed the first layer to settle into the trench before we mortared the cinder blocks together.

Day two we took the top two levels off and then mortared each block in place. Even with leveling the first layer we stilled had to level as we went on. Cinder blocks are not the highest quality of blocks so the individual blocks at times were not level. This is where mortar is very handy; you can add more mortar to help level the block.

We used a total of (30) 8 x 8 x 16in cinder blocks for the structure. (These are $1.29 a piece at Home Depot)

We then let the three layers set for a couple hours and let the mortar dry. We then topped the cinder blocks with 8 x 16 x 1 5/8 cap stones. (We used 10 and they are $1.20 at Home Depot). We leveled as we built up but the top layer still was a little uneven when we went to place the cap stones. (Reference above image, the far side wall) I used extra mortar to help level out the top.

While I was mortaring the top Philip planted our new plants πŸ™‚

Next I skim coated the entire structure. I mixed up an entire bag of mortar and watered it down a good bit. I got it to where the mixture was similar to icing in consistency. If the mixture is too dry it will not spread or stick. If it is too wet it will not harden properly. Getting the mixture right was tricky but I eventually got it. Tip- the consistency is correct when you can tack your trowel, scoop up the mortar, and fling it to your mixing board. The mixture should come off the trowel easily and when it lands on the board it should hold its shape. If it runs, you have used too much water. πŸ™‚

Below is the final skim coat. I didn’t get any pictures of me doing the coat. Pretty much all I did was treat the cinder blocks like a cake and iced it. πŸ™‚ Philip kept laughing at me because I called it icing but really and truly that is what I was doing. ( Total I used two bags of mortar and those where about $5.00 a piece at Home Depot)

Another view of it drying. One thing I did do was I left a texture in the skim coat. Because we were going with a Southwestern Modern feel I left the mortar looking like stucco rather than sanding it smooth.

Next we put in about two feet of gravel. This was to help insulate the cinder blocks from the heat of the fire. (gravel was left over from the base layer on the ground)

Following the gravel came six inches of sand. The sand also worked as an insulator but it also help to hold the fire bowl in place. (We used six bags of sand and those were $3.77 a piece. The fire bowl was actually from a fire pit kit that we purchased at Home Depot. The kit was $39.)

And finally we place another 4 inches of gravel around the bowl to secure the bowl and help it match the rest of the area. We brought in our old patio furniture that we built last year and hung some lighting. The chandelier over the pit is actually the one that used to hang in the dining room. We replaced it with a more modern one and I stripped this one of its electrics and placed candles in the place of the light bulbs.

So here is final look at the area! Also you can see that the railing is no longer on the house! We wanted this new area to flow into the porch and breezeway area so we moved the railing to right next to the driveway. It majorly opened up the area and we love it.

The path way to the breezeway and the backyard:

A closer look at the stucco effect. Also we brought in 16×16 inch pavers ($3.35 from Lowes) to place around the fire pit. These are great for standing on while roasting marshmallows πŸ™‚

So total we spent about $160 for the fire pit and the pavers that are around it. Not bad for a custom patio piece πŸ™‚


Style | What We Wore | Come on Fall

I thought it would be fun to start sharing some of our favorite outfits here on the blog. I’m personally love fashion and try to use every excuse I can to get a new outfit or try something daring. Philip recently has found a love of fashion and now has an obsession with all things European. And the people rejoiced! We’ve recently found several stores that actually have sizes that fit his tall yet very slim frame. So a couple times a month we’ll be sharing some of our favorite outfits that we actually wear πŸ™‚

Last night we met up with some new friends for dinner. We had a blast getting to know them and we are looking forward to many more dinner dates with them. The weather in Memphis has been just plain dumb this summer and we are so stinking ready for fall! Memphis in the fall is what we long for all year; if we didn’t have such an amazing fall I don’t think I could live here… That said, we are totally over summer clothes. We both picked outfits that said “Fall would you please hurry up and get here” and didn’t care that we are still technically in summer.

Here is what we wore. First up Philip:


Savannah And Philip