Love for our 20 Year Old House

All this time at home over the past few weeks has me thinking a lot about our house.

I always thought I would live in an old house. I wanted the character, the charm, and the history that comes with old homes. I grew up in a farmhouse built in the mid 1800’s. My grandparents lived on a nearby farm (where Justin and I were married!) in a house that has now been in our family for over 100 years. My love for old homes runs deep!

But when Justin and I found our dream property, the house that came with it was not what I pictured for our forever home. 

Our house is 20 years old. Old enough to be dated, not old enough to be vintage. 😉 When we bought it, we had to look beyond the surface to envision our family here. It seemed like everywhere I looked were things that I wanted to change and it was a little overwhelming. But we could tell that the house had been well loved by the previous owners and I had a feeling that we could make this home our dream home.

I feel like homes built 20-30 years ago get a bad rap. The dated styles that scream “NINETIES” aren’t necessarily appealing and can be hard to look past. There’s lighting to update (just in the rooms pictured above, we have fluorescent kitchen lighting, boob lights [if you know, you know], and dated chandeliers), walls that I would love to freshen with paint, and an abundance of orange-y wood trim everywhere I look.

But if you can look beyond all that, homes built 20 years ago have so much potential and can be absolute gems. We have enjoyed slowly unlocking the potential of our home project by project since moving in last May.

Truthfully, even if we’re never able to change a single thing, I’m extremely grateful to have a home. Especially in the midst of this pandemic, having a safe space to socially distance is a blessing and privilege and I do not take that for granted. That being said, all this time at home does have me dreaming about a few of the updates I would love to make to the home, and makes me thankful for all the changes we’ve been able to complete so far.

Sometimes unlocking potential is is just a matter of re-imagining a room by removing window treatements, swapping out furniture and light fixtures, and changing up the walls like we did in our playroom.

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Sometimes it’s a full-blown gut job renovation to completely update a space like we did in our guest bathroom.

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And sometimes, it’s as simple as a little work, a fresh coat of paint, and shopping your own house to find extra decor to spruce up a dated space like I just did in our basement.

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I think it’s really important to love where you live. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be brand new, it doesn’t have to be fancy . . . it should just be a place where you enjoy being. A haven from the outside world. When I think about our home, I want our house to be a beautiful, cozy place where my family feels safe and others feel welcome (when this social distance time is finally over!)

Our home will be the backdrop to my kid’s childhoods. It will be the setting for many of the sweetest times in our lives. Even though there is still a lot of work we want to do, we’re not waiting to make memories here. We are choosing to love where we live every single day while we enjoy the journey of uncovering its potential.

Guest Bathroom Reveal!

After starting this project the last week of October, our guest bathroom is finally finished! If you missed my previous posts for this project, you can check out our renovation progress and finishing touches.

When we first moved in, this windowless bathroom was dark (so much brown!), outdated, and didn’t function ideally. The shower was tiny and difficult for an adult to maneuver in, and the vanity left just enough space on either side for little things to fall down and get stuck. We didn’t really have many options for alternative layouts, but we decided to gut the space and start fresh. And fresh it is! In the words of Buddy the Elf, “I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!”

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Ahhhh! I have all the heart eyes for this transformation. ❤

One of the biggest differences with the bathroom is the shower. I knew a tile shower would at least provide for a little more space inside than the previous fiberglass one and I fell in love with the handcrafted look of these subway tiles. Once our contractor ripped out the old shower, we realized that there was a ton of unused space behind the wall thanks to the built in cabinet in the bedroom, so we changed our initial plans to expand the shower and add a bench. While this pretty much destroyed our timeline and initial budget, it was so worth it! (I have no idea how I don’t have a better ‘before’ picture of the shower – all I have is a screen grab from my Instagram stories. Oops.)

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The shower is not only gorgeous but so much more functional. I wanted matte black fixtures and particularly wanted a shower head with a hose because this shower is the one that people will come in and use to hose off from playing outside or swimming in our pond. The hose makes it much easier to quick rinse off without fully showering, particularly for children. The shower niche provides storage for toiletries, the bench is so useful, there is much more room overall, the varying tile and stone meshes perfectly, the glass door (I agonized over choices!) is gorgeous, I could go on and on. I love, love, love the new shower!

Another big change was with our vanity. I discussed the saga in this post, but basically, it took us a long time to figure out what type of vanity to do (plumbing limited my initial ideas) and then mid-renovation we started the process of getting a vanity top made. Unfortunately, we trusted the wrong company and they basically ghosted us and delayed the entire process. We started over with a new company and were able to find the perfect quartz remnant to use. I’m thrilled with the final product!

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We decided to save some money and keep the original vanity, but we updated it with a fresh coast of paint and new hardware. I love the mixed metal look so I used both matte black and brushed nickel finishes. We added a new board on the bottom front so we could elevate the vanity about 2 inches (it was lower than standard vanities today) and added a small piece of trim to each side to make it flush with the wall. With a new counter top and faucet, it looks like a completely different vanity!

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The little elevated bronze tray was a $2 gem I found in a thrift store and snapped up right away. I wasn’t sure what I would use it for at the time but I knew I would find a home for it. I love it in this space – it perfectly corrals the soap dispenser, a candle, and small (fake) succulent and I think the colors warm up what is otherwise a fairly cool-toned bathroom.

Because this is a basement bathroom, there is concrete foundation creating a half wall. I decided to use this to our advantage and make it into an intentional feature with board and batten trim and I LOVE how it turned out. It makes a statement right away when you first enter the bathroom!

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Justin cut a thick slab of white oak to fit the top of the wall and it makes the perfect shelf to display some decor and provide space for our guests to keep toiletries. We decided to leave it unstained – I love how the lighter color provides warmth to the space! – and just cover it with a few coats of water-based, polyurethane in a matte finish.

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The artwork is a custom piece by JBeck Studio and perfectly ties the bathroom and adjacent bedroom (reveal next week!) together. I had to go with fake plants since there is no window but I love the little touch of greenery.

Finishing touches like new baseboards and trim, a freshly painted door and new door handle, a wall heater (can you believe there was no heat source previously? Brr!), and updated lights and a mirror finished out the space. We’ve already had overnight guests and they gave the bathroom 5 stars . . . and I’m pretty sure they would’ve done that even if they weren’t my parents. 😉

Even though it’s the guest bathroom, it’s also the only bathroom on the basement level so it gets used frequently. I’m so happy we chose to do this as our first major renovation project!

20200211_15410520200211_15304820200211_15275620200214_07402120200214_06150620200211_15373120200206_15380620200214_080747And one final before and after because I just cannot get over the transformation. We may have gone over budget and timeline (we originally hoped to be done before Christmas) but we’re so happy with the finished space.

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Sources

Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Smoky Mountain (color matched with Sherwin Williams)

Trim Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster

Floor Mosaic Tile

Shower Floor & Niche Tile

Shower Wall Tile

Shower Head

Shower Handle

Shower Door

Bath Mat

Vanity Color: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

Vanity Door Handles

Vanity Drawer Knobs

Vanity Counter Top: Viareggio Quartz Remnant

Undermount Sink

Vanity Faucet

Mirror

Hand Towel Rod

Toilet Paper Holder

Towel Hook

Behind Door Towel Hook

Shower Fan

Light Fixture

Wall Heater

Fake Plant

White Planter

Artwork: Custom from JBeck Studio

New and Improved Playroom

As many of you know, we moved to a new house in May. The house originally had two eating areas: a large but casual space off the kitchen and a formal dining room. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to convert the formal dining room into a playroom. It’s a great size and there is a large cased opening into the living room so it’s easy to keep an eye on what’s going on in there. It was the first room we decided to put some time and energy into updating since it gets used every single day and all the changes we wanted to make were cosmetic and pretty straightforward and budget-friendly. Today I’m going to share a bit about what we did to update the space for use in our daily lives.

Here’s what the space looked like when we first moved in:

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It didn’t exactly scream “fun room for kids to hang out” huh? I was itching to brighten the room up with paint, but it unfortunately wasn’t as easy as grabbing a brush. The previous homeowners had painted the walls with a textured paint (we think they may have mixed sand in with the paint to create a texture because it was very uneven on the walls). This made the walls look dingy even after they had been cleaned. Before we could paint, we needed to remove the texture. There were a few ways to go about this but we ended up just taking an oscillating sander and buffing the wall smooth.

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Justin testing out whether the sander would work for this project.

This process was very time-consuming and created a lot of dust. We had a bag attached to the sander to catch dust, windows open and box fans going to encourage the dust to go outside, and we blocked off the room as best we could but dust still ended up traveling into adjacent rooms. The process of sanding took a few days because we did it in short spurts to avoid inhaling lots of dust (we did wear masks to help) and to give our arms a break, as this was a workout for them! We also had to spend quite a bit of time on each section to get things as smooth as we wanted. It felt like forever but when we finally finished the walls looked so much better!

We washed down the walls to remove lingering dust, patched little dings and holes and then it was time to paint! Because the previous paint was so dark we first went over the walls with a layer of primer and then two coats of Benjamin Moore paint in Greyhound. We only painted three walls because my plan for the remaining wall was to use a fun accent wallpaper. We did put a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling because it also looked a little dingy, and this made the room feel much brighter.

For the wallpaper, I wanted something fun, a little whimsical, yet not too crazy bold. I bought three rolls of Magnolia Home wallpaper in Pick-Up Sticks in blue. It was the perfect choice, although hanging was a bit of a challenge. The wallpaper is prepasted and (theoretically) easy enough to hang – you just spray it with water, let the water absorb for a few minutes, and then press it to the wall. It doesn’t dry immediately so you have a chance to slide it around a bit and make sure it’s lined up the way you want. The problem for us was, even after all that sanding, our wall still wasn’t perfectly smooth. This created some wrinkling and made things stressful and incredibly frustrating for Justin and I. There were also a few places where we couldn’t get the seams to line up perfectly because it would have made the pattern crooked and created really noticeable wrinkling so we had small gaps. Our solution to this was to fill in the seam gaps with a white paint marker after the wall was dry, which did help to mask the gap. It’s not a flawless wall, but thankfully the pattern is subtle enough that it’s hardly noticeable at all, especially now with furniture and art on it.

The final thing we did was remove the old light fixture. We had replaced the flush mount that was in our master bedroom with a ceiling fan, so I just updated the flush mount with some black spray paint and we moved it down to the playroom. I would have loved a new light but we were trying to keep the room budget-friendly so for now this was a good solution.

The room was finally finished and it was time to move in furniture! Justin made a bookcase for toy storage loosely following these plans from Bless’er House. We bought inexpensive ready-to-assemble bookcases from a local company which he screwed together and used thin lattice board on the side fronts to create the look of a custom piece. I painted the shelves in Sherwin Williams Oceanus (the previous owners fixed up cars and they had a perfect paint room already set up in the garage) and Justin topped the whole thing off with a long plank of stained oak. He finished by nailing thin strips around the plank to give it the look of a chunky butcher block-style top which I LOVE.

I adore how the piece turned out, but there were many snags along the way. The shelves didn’t hold paint well and required many coats (and will need subsequent touch-ups). One shelf was slightly bigger than the other three (even though they were the same style from the same company) which created measurement nightmares. The top plank was initially cut a few centimeters too short so it required Justin to cut notches in the trim pieces he used on the side to make it look flush. There were just a lot of little logistical things and the project had more headaches than we anticipated. We’d probably never do it again, but I’m glad we did it this once because it works perfectly in the space!

We got a super inexpensive futon from Aldi (anyone else love Aldi??) and finished off the room with a few plants, a colorful gallery wall using frames and mirrors I already had, and an oversized alphabet print from a local company. And with that, the room is done!

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I’m absolutely thrilled with it!

I love that the room has gone from dingy to bright and airy. LJ plays in it everyday and I can testify that while it’s cute (in my opinion ha!) and decorated, it’s also very kid-friendly and functional in our daily lives. It was the perfect first room to tackle in making this house into our home and I’m so happy with how it turned out!

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I can’t wait to continue to transform rooms throughout the house!

 

A Look Back on our Home

It’s moving week!

Justin and I officially close on our new home on Friday afternoon and Saturday is moving day! I can’t believe that it’s finally here. I shared in a previous post that we were not initially planning to look for another house until the fall, but we found our dream property and we jumped on it. We did a 60 day closing since it was a sudden-ish decision and this gave us some extra time to prepare (and the sellers extra time to move out) so it’s been a bit of a long process. Now that we’re down to the final few days, both Justin and I are getting super excited!

While we’re thrilled for this new adventure and truly looking forward to settling in to our new home and starting the next chapter of our family’s life there, it is bittersweet to be leaving our current home. We bought this home when we moved to Indiana 3 years ago and we put a ton of hard work into it. Justin ripped up old carpeting and tile by himself. We recruited family to come help us tear down old wallpaper, repair holes in the walls, and repaint every single wall. I painted all the trim and doors. We replaced some light fixtures and we had new laminate flooring and carpet installed. Our friends Jeremy and Bethany came for a weekend to help us install a new subway tile backsplash in our kitchen. Cabinets got painted, flowers got planted, a house became our home. We love this place and truly made it our own over these past 3 years. We love our neighbors, we love our location. We love the memories we’ve made here. We are going to miss this place.

I thought it would be fitting to share some before-and-after pictures today as a little tribute to this sweet little home of ours. It’s the first home Justin and I bought. It’s where we mourned the loss of our first baby and joyfully brought LJ home a little over a year later. It’s where we hosted fun backyard parties, where we shared our dreams for our family’s future. We’ll always remember it fondly and I am thankful we’ll take the pictures and memories with us.

Entryway

Foyer After

I love that Scout made a cameo in the “after” shot because that little landing has been his favorite spot in this house. He spends most of his day perched there. We think he likes it because he can see out the front door and windows and also keep track of us in the living room and TV/playroom. As you can see, we changed out all flooring, painted the walls, and also painted the railing. We also changed the light fixture although it’s not visible in the picture.

Living Room

Living Room Before

Living Room After

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The most dramatic changes in this room was paint and flooring. This was really the first room we tackled when we moved in. Justin ripped up all that old carpet and we had new laminate flooring installed.

TV Room/Playroom

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TV Playroom After 1TV Playroom After 2

The previous owners used this space off the front door as an office. We initially thought we’d use this space as a dining room, but then we decided we’d get way more use out of it as a cozy den and it became a TV room (and then also a playroom when LJ came along – check out pics of this space on a typical day here). This became our favorite place to hang out as a family! Justin ripped up the hallway tile and laminate flooring here too and we had the same laminate installed as in the living room to make the first floor feel less broken up.

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Half Bath

Half Bath Before

Half Bath After

The first floor half bath was the only room in the house that had floor-to-ceiling wallpaper (and toilet humor-themed wallpaper at that) and I was all too happy to see it go. I chose a dark color for the walls of this small space and I love how it turned out!

Dining Room/Kitchen

Dining Room Before

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In my opinion, this space was the most dramatic transformation. The tile was in good shape so we left it but pretty much everything else changed. New paint on the walls, painted cabinets, new dining light fixture, new backsplash, new appliances – we loved how this room turned out!

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Laundry Room

Rounding out the first floor is the little laundry room off the kitchen. This wasn’t a big space, but painted walls and cabinets with a little bit of decor made a big difference!

Hallway Nook

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Our home is 3 bedrooms but when we moved in we knew we wanted to keep a guest room available for family and hoped to soon convert the other room to a nursery so I needed to get creative with finding space for a little home office. At the top of our staircase there is a fairly large landing with just enough space for a small bookcase and desk and it worked out perfectly for an office! The bookcase faced the stairway and the desk fit perfectly in the little nook – it was such a cozy place to light a candle and get some work done.

Master Bedroom

We rearranged the layout from how the previous owners had done things and I think it helped open up the room and make it seem much larger. Painted trim and walls gave it a fresh, relaxing facelift!

Master Bathroom

The “before” picture on the left isn’t great, but it gives you a small idea of our little updates. We didn’t do much in this room – took down the wallpaper border, fresh cost of paint, painted trim, and hung new towel rods.

Guest Room

Guest Room BeforeGuest Room After

We took down that border wall paper and those shelves, which were a HUGE pain because they were all anchored into the wall. There was a ton of patchwork involved but after a fresh coat of paint the room was refreshed! We kept it pretty simple in here, just enough to make a cozy space for guests to stay.

Hallway/Guest Bathroom

Guest Bath After

The hallway bath was mostly used as a guest bathroom since we just bathed LJ in ours. We painted the walls and cabinet (I actually love how the dark cabinet turned out!), added vanity fixtures, and took down the old shower door and exchanged it for a curtain rod.

Nursery

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Nursery After

My favorite room in the whole house! It was used by the previous owners as an office and we didn’t do much with it for a while. Then, when I found out I was pregnant, we started dreaming of a nursery. I would spend time praying in the room for the baby we would soon welcome into our home. Sadly, that pregnancy was ectopic and we did not get to meet that baby (read more of the story here). I shut the door and stopped dreaming to deal with my grief. Then slowly, I started going in there again. I painted the room before I was pregnant again, believing that someday a baby would need this room. I got this sign off Etsy as the first piece of nursery decor and when I got the glorious positive pregnancy test a few months later, I immediately hung it up by the door. This room has seen tears, rejoicing, preparations, and so many snuggles. I’m so thankful for this room!

And that’s our home. It’s been so good to us and we’re so thankful to have called this place home for 3 years. Now on to the next adventure!