A Quick Patio Entryway Refresh!

The entryway into our house from the patio got a little flash makeover this past week and I’m loving it!

Modern, Bright Entryway Makeover

After finishing our basement kitchen update, I realized that this entryway space next to it also needed a little TLC. It is essentially an extension of the kitchen (the tile from the kitchen wraps around and leads to the door) and since it leads directly out to our patio, it’s a natural storage space + drop zone for all the things that we need and use when we’re outside: everything from sunscreen and bug spray to towels and swimsuits. Visually, when standing in the middle of our basement, you would see our gorgeous new kitchen on one side and in the same line of sight, this hot mess of an entryway on the right side.

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Yikes.

Earlier in the year when I did a few easy projects for our basement refresh, the walls got a fresh coat of paint (Sherwin Williams Repose Gray) and then later when I did the kitchen update, the floor tiles got painted. Here’s what the space looked like a few months ago before any updates (I had moved the bookshelf so I had a space to photograph the finished dresser update I did for my niece’s nursery):

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We don’t have a closet or storage room near this door, so we definitely needed something to corral all of our outdoor things. When we first moved, the little bookshelf (that I built in eighth grade woodshop!) landed here, but after a year in the house, it became obvious that the bookshelf wasn’t cutting it. It wasn’t big enough to hold all of our things and it looked super chaotic with all the colors of items and mess of storage on open shelves.

I searched and searched for the perfect affordable storage solution and I fell in love with this cabinet (it’s actually a TV stand!) It is a super popular item on Target and kept selling out quickly every time it came back with limited stock, but I was finally able to snag one!

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It is shorter than the bookcase that was there before and at first I worried that it wouldn’t be big enough to actually hold everything we need it to. I’m so happy to report that it fits all we need – and we could even fit a little more in there if we needed!

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When it came to decor, I started with things I already had. The potted plant was given to us from my in-laws (it’s actually eventually going to be planted outside) and the candle was a previous purchase from a local company. I’ve had the metal and wood basket for several years and I rounded up a bunch of magazines to store inside so that they’re easily accessible if someone wants to grab something to read while lounging outside.

Modern, Bright Entryway Makeover

This sweet little rubber plant was my Mother’s Day gift from Justin and the kids this year and I love how it looks here. (I took the guessing out of things – which I highly recommend – and told Justin exactly what I wanted, including the local shop and exact link to this tree, but I made him be the one to actually purchase and pick it up so it still felt like a gift haha!)

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Since the cabinet was short and there was a lot of wall space, I wanted a huge statement piece of artwork above it but I did not want to shell out a ton of money. I found this digital download print on Etsy and had it printed for pickup at my local FedEx in a 24″ x 36″ size.

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Justin actually took the casing from the old trim around the door and used it to make this frame! We got the idea from Cass Makes Home – she shared a tutorial on her Instagram a few months ago. Justin just cut each piece to length (corners cut at 45 degree angles with his miter saw), then he used epoxy and corner clamps to attach all the corners and gave it extra stability with two staples as well. I then filled all the old nail holes with wood filler, sanded it down, and spray painted it with this subtle gold color. The print is attached in a super sophisticated way – the back of it is taped to a piece of cardboard and the cardboard is then duct taped to the back of the frame. Ha! Justin attached two sawtooth hangers to the wooden frame and we hung it up. I think it turned out great for a giant piece of inexpensive art!

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And then there’s the door leading out to the patio. Justin and I updated the trim and baseboards to match the renovated kitchen (eventually we’ll run this all the way around the basement) and I felt like this was a perfect opportunity to go for something bold and fun with the door. I went for it with Sherwin Williams Brittlebush, a snappy golden yellow, and I love it! It just feels like sunshine and brings a little bit of the outdoors inside.

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Fun Fact: Yellow is actually my favorite color but I don’t use it a ton in the house because it can very quickly feel like too much. An accent door was the perfect way to pack a punch of personality (say that five times fast!) in this space and I’m obsessed. I found this little sign at Target and it felt just right – we love to host guests and we do want them to relax and stay awhile. 😊

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I’m so thrilled with how this space turned out. It’s functional and beautiful and now feels like it complements the kitchen and the rest of the basement instead of being a chaotic eyesore. It was definitely worth spending a few days updating this space!

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Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray in Eggshell

Trim Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Satin

Door Color: Sherwin Williams Brittlebush in Satin

Cane Cabinet

Stay Awhile Sign

Landscape Print (digital download)

Doormat

Candle

One Room Challenge: The Finished Kitchen!

After two months full of renovating, I am absolutely thrilled to say that THE BASEMENT KITCHEN IS FINISHED!

$1500 Kitchen Renovation!

I started this project as part of the One Room Challenge and due to unexpected delays (hello mold) and a week off for our family vacation, I got it done just as the challenge ends today. Whew!

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Before I dig deep into the finished space, let’s revisit where we started two months ago.

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We were thrilled that the house had a full kitchen in the basement for guests and entertaining, but it was definitely a little lackluster and a lotta orange. I set out to transform this kitchen while sticking to a small budget of $1500 max, and while I knew the space had potential, the final result is even better than my wildest dreams.

The first project I tackled was painting the tile floors. I used a special paint made for flooring from Rustoleum and a whole lot of painter’s tape to create a simple patterned look and I love it! To read more about the process, you can check out this blog post. So far, the paint has held up really well and only needed some small touch ups after the drywall guys were not careful moving the stove.

20200313_092504Kitchen-15Next up were the cabinets. Justin and I first chose to completely remove the single cabinet that was in between the sink and the window. We still have plenty of storage and this really helped open up the room a little bit more. It actually seems bigger without that cabinet blocking the way!

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After removing all cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware, deglossing and priming every surface, and debating color choices for a few days, I finally painted them Rock Bottom by HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams. It’s the perfect moody gray/green chameleon color and I love it so much! I chose a high quality paint so I only needed one gallon (and I still have paint to spare). You can read more about the painting process in this blog post. I did place these bumpers behind each door and drawer to keep the painted surfaces from sticking to one another and pulling off the paint. So far, everything has held up well!

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As for cabinet hardware, I wanted to change things up a bit from the previous look. I wanted the door handles to be single knobs instead of handles, so I used wood filler to fill in the extra holes and then painted over them – the holes are now practically invisible unless you know where to look for them. I found these knobs for the doors and these bin pulls for the drawers and I love the combined look!

$1500 Kitchen Renovation!

When it came time for counter tops, I had to make some big decisions. In order to stay within budget, replacing all the counter tops was not an option, but I knew I wanted to at least replace the top of the “island” (it’s technically not an island but just go with it). The previous owners had created extra counter space by wrapping the laminate around to the wall to create a small ledge. While I can appreciate the function of this, I wasn’t a fan of the look, and I knew we wouldn’t miss that bit of counter space. Plus, without the ledge in the way, we would have room for three stools instead of two and that was going to be way more functional for our purposes anyways. There was no way to remove just that extra ledge of laminate, so we removed the whole thing and created an accent island look with a butcher block counter top.

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We got the butcher block counter top from Menard’s and I ADORE IT. It is exactly what I hoped for and I love the look so much. We did hit some major hiccups through this process though and it became quite the saga (mold behind old paneling, wonky cabinets that needed moving, tile needing to be cut away…) If you want to read more about how this transformation took shape you can read about it in this blog post.

Since I couldn’t replace the rest of the counter tops, I decided to paint them instead. I ordered this kit to create the look of marble and while it certainly isn’t cheap, it came with absolutely everything needed to complete the project and it was still MUCH cheaper than replacing (the quote for new laminate came back at nearly $2000 including install, while this paint kit was just under $200. I’ll take that savings!)

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I plan to write an entire blog post hopefully later this week that shows the process of painting the counter tops, but for now, I will just say that it was not at all as complicated as I expected and while it is far from perfect, I am very happy with the results. It really feels like I have new counters!

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Now, no one would walk in to this kitchen and think that I got real marble installed, but I really do think it looks convincingly like I got new marble laminate. It is definitely better than the brown, pressed leaf pattern that was there previously so I am counting this as a major win. Stay tuned for a post with all the details!

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We also replaced all the baseboards and window trim in the kitchen. I wrote all about the DIY window trim we (okay, mostly Justin) installed and you can read about it here. I just wanted a simple trim that framed our gorgeous view of the outdoors without distracting from it and this was perfect.

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The sink faucets got upgraded as well. There were previously two faucets: the main one for filtered water and the little one for unfiltered well water (preference for the previous owner). The main faucet was replaced by this gorgeous matte black one, which I bought from the new and used options for a small discount, and we closed off the well water faucet hookup and installed a matte black soap pump for dishwashing soap instead.

20200313_092801Kitchen-23I tried not to buy a ton of new decor for the space and instead shopped my own house for plants, art, towels, and other decor to put the finishing touches on. With the exception of this vintage floral print from BFF Print shop, I already had all of the framed artwork. I loved taking off the extra trim and using this ledge (where the house foundation is) as a functional place to stack lots of art and plants. It feels extra special because the artwork is all personal!

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Overall, I could not be happier with how this kitchen turned out. I poured tons of hours and a lot of hard work into this and really had to stretch myself to solve some problems and come up with budget-friendly DIY solutions. I also have to give a huge shout out to Justin for all his help with many of my projects – he is so awesome! I’m so proud of how we made this kitchen come to life AND I’m extra proud that we stayed within budget. The grand total for this entire renovation was $1,494.27!! I am doing a happy dance over here!

Kitchen-25$1500 Kitchen Renovation!Kitchen-13I could go on and on about this space, but I’ll leave you with this. If there’s a change you want to make to your home, I encourage you to go for it! There were a lot of things with this project that I had never done before, and it can be intimidating to try new things, but you don’t know what you can do until you TRY. And while I stand by the fact that you can transform a room without a huge budget, even a teeny tiny budget can make a difference. Have $100? Try swapping out cabinet hardware. Have $30? Try painting the walls. Have $5? Scour your local thrift stores for a piece or two of decor to spruce up your space. It doesn’t have to be the biggest, fanciest, best renovation possible. I have been discouraged before watching people transform rooms and they gut it down to the studs and completely remodel everything. While that’s great, and I certainly hope to do that with a few rooms in our house, it’s very expensive and therefore not always a realistic option. But even if you can’t do everything, you can do SOMETHING. And each little thing you do can help you fall more and more in love with your home. ❤

Sources + Budget Breakdown

Flooring

Rustoleum Home Floor Paint (Steam Gray & Haven Gray base coats; Top Coat): $160.44

Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape (6 rolls): $57.59

Misc supplies (rollers, Krud Kutter, etc.): $31.22

Cabinets

Kilz 2 Primer (already had – I buy a 3.5 gallon bucket at a time because I use this for so many projects!)

Liquid Deglosser: $8.53

Showcase Paint (in Rock Bottom by HGTV HOME by Sherwin Williams): $41.71

Hardware (cabinet knobs, drawer pulls): $99.90

Bumpers: $6.69

Paneling for island: $22.02

Counters

Butcher Block: $212.93

Giani Marble Paint Kit: $192.55

Misc Materials

Lumber for Window Trim: $36.02

Baseboards: $32.36

Wall Paint (Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Eggshell): $28.86

Window + Baseboard Trim (Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Satin): already had from previous project

Dish Soap Pump: $23.53

Faucet: $64.96 (bought from new/used)

Caulk: $7.89

Wood Filler: $5.33

Brushes: $12.79

Rollers: $4.98

Decoranything not listed below was either thrifted or I previously owned!

Counter stools: $284.60

Rug: $83.67

Clock: $25.48

Hand Soap Dispenser: $10.18 (used antique gold rub n buff to change silver to gold!)

Goldenrod faux plant: $20.04

Vintage floral art Print: $15 digital download + $5 printing

GRAND TOTAL: $1,494.27

*Note: we did not factor in the cost of having to hire drywallers to repair the mold because that was a repair our home needed (multiple areas of drywall needed repaired, not just in the kitchen) and that cost came out of a separate home maintenance fund. This is why it’s so important to have money set aside as a homeowner – you never know what will pop up!

 

 

One Room Challenge Week Four: The Dreaded “M” word

Week Four was a bit of a beast in our basement kitchen renovation.

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On the positive side, I was able to get the walls painted. I chose Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Eggshell, the same paint that we used in our guest bedroom, and it makes the room look so much better! Unfortunately, that was about the only thing that got fully completed due to some fairly major snags we hit.

Over the weekend, we started working on the counter tops. My plan was to take off the counter top on the peninsula part of the cabinets and replace it with butcher block. It’s a bigger job so Justin was willing to help me and it went much quicker with two people addressing it!

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I’ve never really thought about how laminate counter tops are installed before, but it turns out they are fairly easy to remove. The counters were screwed directly into the cabinet, and then there were two angled ledges connecting the narrow counter on the side to the wall that were screwed into the wall through a piece of paneling. We just used a small rechargable screwdriver (without a doubt our most frequently used tool for small home projects!) and got everything unscrewed.

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Justin took a razor blade and ran it along the wall to peel off the caulk that sealed the counter to the wall. After that, it was just a matter of lifting the counter off! This was the easy part of the day.

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The first problem we ran into was discovering that the base cabinets here were not installed square. It’s barely discernible to the naked eye, but it ended up being a big problem. The butcher block counter I want comes pre-made at 36″ wide and 72″ long. From the wall to the left corner of the cabinet, 72″ will give a small overhang. From the wall to the right corner of the cabinet, 72″ doesn’t even quite reach the end of the cabinet. So frustrating!

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As you can see from the above picture, there is empty space between the cabinet and the wall. The previous owners just used a piece of paneling on the front of the cabinet to make this peninsula longer, so we decided to remove that frame and move the base cabinet a little closer to the wall so the counter top would be long enough. We won’t miss the lost inch of counter space and it will make things much easier and cheaper than buying a custom made top.

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We set off to remove the front of the cabinet’s paneling and quarter round trim. This would have needed to be done anyways because the top of the paneling got damaged in removing the cabinet – not a big deal since it’s inexpensive and easy to replace. The quarter round came off fairly easily with a crowbar. The paneling was a bear to remove because not only was it nailed to the cabinet but it was also glued and they used tons of glue! It was a frustrating and slow process but we finally got it all removed and also removed the wooden frame they had created between the wall and cabinet.

As we were doing this, I started thinking about possibly adding a thin sheet of beadboard paneling to the wall so we wouldn’t have to move the cabinet. The vertical lines would add visual interest and give us the extra space we need for the counter to at least go past the edge of the cabinet (without much overhang, but I can live with that). We also assumed that the paneling still on the wall (previously under the extra counter) was glued down and would cause some damage in removing. Beadboard might solve both problems: cover the damaged wall and make the counter tops long enough to cover the cabinets. We started to remove the paneling.

This is when things took a huge downturn.

Our assumption that the paneling was glued was correct, but it was way worse than we imagined. They used so much glue that the walls were very seriously damaged when we tried to rip it off. Huge chunks came out! And not only that, but we hit the dreaded four-letter “m” word: MOLD.

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We immediately knew that we had to pause this project and get a professional in here. We are not equipped to handle removing mold and replacing drywall and we want to make sure it is done right. We already have a call in to a professional and are waiting to hear back on a quote from him. Until then, this part of the project is on hold.

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This is definitely not the news we wanted, nor is it the progress point we wanted to be at right now. It’s discouraging and affects our timeline, but this is just the reality of renovating. We’re hopeful that we can get the drywall guy in sometime this next week to address this situation but until then, we just have to hold off on the kitchen. We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing as a family, although I did start shopping my house to test out some decor pieces for the space. If you caught my Instagram stories, you know I spent time restoring this thrifted copper planter to it’s former glory. It’s going to be a great decorative addition to the kitchen! ORC-3

While my project is on pause, I’m going to enjoy browsing the progress that other people are making on their rooms. The fun part about the One Room Challenge is so many people join and are trying to finish their own rooms – it’s so fun to watch the progress and cheer others on in their own projects. You can check out all the other rooms here. Hopefully I’ll have good news to report next week and be able to get back to work!

 

 

House Tour 2020

May 18 is an anniversary of sorts in our family: it’s been one full year since we’ve lived in our house!

I thought it would be fun to do a complete “house tour” and document what every room in our house currently looks like one year into living here. Some rooms have been completely remodeled, some have only had minor updates, and others have yet to be touched (one hasn’t even been unpacked yet).

A small disclaimer: I wanted to show what our house really looks like and how we’re using it in each stage of life, but I obviously did clean up before taking pictures. I didn’t want to make it look like a picture perfect model home because that’s not our reality, but just as I like to clean up before guests come over, I also cleaned up before virtual guests come over. 😉 That being said, I decided not to stage rooms (for example, I chose not to do things like add pillows to Vi’s crib just for the picture) since that’s not really how we live right now, so it still feels very authentic and true to our life.

My plan is to do this every year as a way to see how our home changes over time. I love seeing the evolution of a space and how the rooms in our home adjust to our growing family. Here’s what our home looks like in May 2020, one year after moving in.

Basement

Guest Room

The guest bedroom in the basement was one of my top priorities to address when we moved in. When not in a pandemic, we have overnight guests frequently (1-2x each month) and I wanted a comfortable space for them to stay. The room did not have a window and felt very dingy and dark, so we set out to add a window and make it feel light, bright, and cozy all at the same time. I would still love to swap out the overhead light and replace the carpet eventually, but I’m thrilled with this room’s transformation! Read more about this room’s renovation here.

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Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom was the first room that we completely gutted and remodeled. New flooring, expanded tile shower, new lighting and fixtures – even though the layout didn’t change, it feels like a totally new space! You can check out more details in this blog post.

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Entertaining Space

Most of the basement is one huge open-concept living space. We bought this house with the hopes to do a lot of entertaining down here, so I’ve been putting in some effort to freshen it up. I am by no means done with this space, but a little bit of paint and removing some decorate trim has made it come a long way (blog post on our simple basement update here).

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And in the interest of full disclosure, here’s what our “entertainment center” situation currently is. I’m brainstorming alternatives to the bent folding table, but for now, it works. I know I’ll be glad to look back on this in the future when we have something different there to see how far we’ve come. 😉

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The space behind the couch will eventually have a table and chairs for hosting meals and game nights. Justin is actually in the process of making a table for this space, but until it gets finished, we keep our treadmill and the donation piles from my de-cluttering spree here (I know I said I would show our reality but I’m still cringing over showing spaces like this ha)!

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The basement kitchen is my current project for the One Room Challenge, and even though it’s in a major state of disarray, I’m very excited for the progress happening here (see my most recent update post here) – it’s going to look so good when it’s finished!

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Rounding out the open-concept space is this area to the right of the kitchen. Someday we plan to put a ping pong table here but for now, it’s a workspace for painting and storing furniture that we plan to sell.

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Mudroom

The last part of our basement is the mudroom in between the garage and the living area. As you can see, it needs work. I envision a combination workout space + some cubbies for storage eventually but for now…it’s just a bit of a catch-all (cringing again!)

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Main Floor

Laundry Room

The laundry room is really more like a laundry hallway. The washer and dryer are squeezed into a small space between the garage and a bathroom. Eventually, I would love to take out the bathroom and expand the laundry room but those plans are far down the road. Other than moving in our washer and dryer (which barely fit!) this space hasn’t been updated at all.

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Full Bathroom

Directly to the right of the laundry room is a full bathroom that we haven’t made any changes to yet. Normally, this bathroom doesn’t get used – the only exceptions are when we have many guests stay with us or in the middle of a pandemic. Since Justin works in healthcare, he uses this bathroom to shower when he comes home from work. It’s super convenient since it’s right off the garage and only used by him. As you can see, LJ and I wrote a few little notes to encourage him when he gets home. 🙂

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Powder Room

The powder room on the main floor is the only room that wasn’t painted brown when we moved in. We haven’t done anything to it yet, but it’s nice to at least have a little pop of color!

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Office

One of the rooms that got me the most excited about this house is our office, although right now it’s a disaster zone. I joke that it is our Room of Requirement because if you’re looking for something random, it’s probably in there. All of our unpacked boxes of books and decor are stored here and it’s kind of a makeshift office/extra guest room for an air mattress if needed. It doesn’t look like much right now, but I have plans to make it into a dreamy office + library – imagine those French doors opening up into floor to ceiling bookshelves and a cozy reading chair tucked in by the bay windows! I’m hoping we can start that renovation in the fall.

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The dining area off the kitchen also had a ton of potential (those windows!!), but we haven’t put any work into it yet. It currently just has a simple hand-me-down table and chairs and a few faux plants, but someday, this room is going to shine!

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The kitchen next to the dining room is another room that we haven’t put any work into. We’ve brainstormed a few ways that we’d like to change the layout a bit and update the appliances, but since that is a project that we’re several years out from, we’ll likely do a “phase one” renovation and at least update the wall color and maybe paint the cabinets.

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The previous owners used the room connected to the kitchen and living room as a dining room, but when we looked at the house I knew it would be the perfect playroom. It was the first room we updated (see that renovation post here) and I’m so glad we did because it gets used every. single. day. We still plan to update the trim and baseboards, but we’ll wait until we’re ready to do it throughout the whole first floor.

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The living room is yet another room that we have put zero effort into. We plopped down the furniture from our last house and called it good for now. Again, so much potential (more dreamy windows!) but in our life with two little ones, this casual arrangement works best for right now.

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Rounding out the main floor is the staircase off the living room (again, so much potential there!)…

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…and my favorite seven square foot space underneath! See all the details of this little nook’s transformation here.

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Top Floor

LJ’s Room

While no extensive work has been done upstairs, when I was 8 months pregnant and in full on nesting mode, we did get the bedrooms painted (they were all previously brown like the rest of the house). LJ’s room got some color-blocked walls and simple decor that feels just right for a little boy’s room.

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Vi’s Room

Vi’s room was painted white and recently got a little scalloped accent wall to make it feel more girly and fun. I also finally got some art up on the wall (notice I’m still waiting on one picture) and the room is much cozier.

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Kid’s Bathroom

The kids’ bathroom has had a very minimal amount of work – all we’ve done is take down the sliding glass shower door and replace it with a shower curtain. Other than that, we haven’t touched this room.

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Master Bedroom

All we’ve done in here so far is paint the walls, and the room is definitely lackluster. Again, so much potential here (more bay windows!) but right now it’s just simple and functional.

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Master Bathroom

The en suite bathroom has gone through a phase one renovation. We eventually want to gut it and rework the layout, but for the time being we just updated the flooring, painted the walls and vanities, and switched out some fixtures. You can read about that renovation here.

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Outdoors

The property is one of the biggest reasons we bought the house, so we’re thankful for a few outdoor lounge areas. The previous owners left a porch swing on the main level porch, which is perfect for enjoying a peaceful evening looking out over the pond. I’d love to add a few plants to this space too!

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Our walkout patio on the basement level has room for a table and chairs and I also created a little lounge space in the corner of the patio. This year I’m hoping to add a few end tables string lights, and potted plants to the space.

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That’s our home. It’s a work in progress, and we love the process of transforming it into the home of our dreams, but we’re not waiting to enjoy it until it’s “done” (I mean, is a house ever even done?) We are enjoying it every step of the way and choosing to love where we live at each stage. ❤

Plans for our “Secret” Nook

I’ve been itching for a project.

We’re in the sixth week of quarantine, and I’m starting to get really antsy. Not to mention, all this extra time spent at home translates to having lots of extra time to look around and dream up things I’d like to do to our house. I’ve decided to join up with the One Room Challenge starting May 7 and tackle a more involved, yet still fairly low-budget room renovation (stay tuned for more details soon!) but in the meantime, I found myself in need of a smaller project.

I’ve already finished a few other projects in this time of quarantine: first with a simple basement refresh, then with a freshly painted garage landing with a really special purpose, and finally with a sweet scalloped accent wall in the nursery. It feels so satisfying to get a quick project done and see how a little work can make a big difference in improving a space!

I’m really motivated to finish one more project before the One Room Challenge so for the next 12 days, I’m focusing my efforts on the tiniest room of our house – a little Harry Potter-style cupboard under the stairs.

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Since the first time we looked at this house, I knew I wanted to use this unique little closet as a fun nook for our kids to play in. Even though the door is by no means hidden under the stairs, it feels like one of our home’s little secrets and I want to make it a really special hideout/play space.

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A few weeks ago, Justin and I had a DIY Date Night and made the two small floating bookshelves as the first little update. I’ve had some ideas for this nook swirling in my mind for a while, but seeing the shelf project complete got me excited to do more and I started dedicating serious time to forming a plan. The “room” is just over 7 square feet but I want it to pack a serious punch. I initially thought I’d do a fun wallpaper, but I kept coming back to really wanting this room to feel like a secret. I want it to be full of unexpected surprises. I spent some time just sitting in there, imaging ways to add extra character and fun into such a small space. After thinking through different plans and letting them stew in my mind for a while, a couple ideas kept resounding loudly in my mind.

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I’ll be sharing the progress on this project over on my Instagram account, but I’ll leave you with a few hints for now:

  • One of the surprises involves this piece that I asked Justin to make for the space:

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  • The room itself may not be hidden, but there are some aspects of it you can’t see without going inside…

I’m excited to share this journey with you and hopefully have a fun reveal coming soon!

 

 

 

Lessons Learned: Guest Suite Reno

In case you missed it, I recently shared our renovated guest space. Our house has three bedrooms: three on the top floor and one in the basement. The basement bedroom has an attached bathroom and it made for a natural choice in guest room, but it was in desperate need of some updating.

To see pictures of the final bedroom, you can check out this post,

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And to see pictures of the final bathroom, you can check out this one.

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While Justin and I have done many small cosmetic changes to our previous homes, this was the first time we hired a contractor and did major renovation work. We learned so much from the project and today I thought it’d be fun to look back on the project as a whole: what we learned, what we loved, and what we wish we did differently.

Lesson #1: Plan Extra for Timeline and Budget

I had read somewhere to plan for a project to take 10% longer than expected and cost 10% more than expected. So we planned for extra time and money . . . and we were still way off. Our initial timeline of 5-6 weeks stretched to almost four months and we went over budget about 25% from our original estimate.

One big reason for the blowup of our original timeline and budget was the shower. When the old fiberglass shower was removed, we discovered unused space behind the wall and decided expand the shower to be much bigger and include a bench. This dramatically altered the timeline and budget with more time, more labor, more materials, and more money. We knew this and decided to allocate more money towards the project. And now that we’re on the other side, I can confidently say it was 100% worth making these changes. We love the shower and all the space it now has for our guests!20191030_202714

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Even with the changes to the shower, we still went over our adjusted budget. There were a few things that we didn’t initially take into account, such as a new shower fan and heaters for the room; however, a lot of our problem was that we knew the things we needed to buy on our own, but we didn’t actually plan out exactly what we would buy beforehand. Which leads me to my second lesson…

Lesson #2: Plan out ALL materials in advance

We knew we needed drawer handles. We didn’t plan which ones in advance. We knew we needed a shower door. We didn’t plan which one in advance. We knew we needed a light fixture, tiles, a counter top, faucet, a shower head, towel rods . . . you see where I’m going here. We didn’t plan any of this in advance. I waited to make those decision as we went along because I wanted to see how the room was coming together to make sure that whatever I chose was going to work.

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The problem with not knowing these details in advance is that we didn’t really know how much we could allocate to everything. We just had a general fund that we had set aside for the project and when we bought a shower door, tiles, towel hooks, etc, they just came out of the pool of money.

Looking back, this seems like a really obvious rookie mistake, right? I didn’t know how much each item was going to cost, and I was just choosing the items I liked as we went along. I was trying to stay balanced (i.e. I splurged on a shower door but said no to my dream mirror and chose a cheaper option) but in the end, the lack of planning is one of the reasons we went over budget. I really should have gone through and priced out every single item we needed to buy beforehand. That way I would have known exactly how much I had to spend on each item, and if there would have been items I wanted to change or add as we went along, I would’ve been able to adjust other items accordingly to stay in budget. Planning every item also would have helped me to see all the little items that I wasn’t initially thinking of, such as a shower valve, light bulbs, etc. to make sure we planned for everything.

#3: Don’t buy things too far in advance

This sounds like the opposite of what I just said, but while there were many things I should have planned in advance, there were also things I bought in advance that I shouldn’t have. For example, I bought not one, but TWO mirrors in advance. I thought I would use one for the bathroom mirror and couldn’t decide which one, so I got both. Unfortunately, I used the measurements based off the old mirror size. I didn’t know that the vanity would be raised or that the new light fixture would hang down further. The space for the mirror ended up being smaller than before and neither mirror worked in the space. Not only that, but I bought them too far in advance and they were both outside their return windows!

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Luckily, one mirror was able to be used in the guest room above the vanity table. The other mirror is still in the box but I do think I know where I want to put it now. Still, these were silly purchases to make so far in advance!

#4: Get clear on your vision

Probably our biggest lessons learned came from the bathroom vanity situation. I knew I wanted to change the vanity, and told our contractor we’d be replacing the old one, but didn’t have a clear vision for what that would look like. Demo had already begun when I decided I wanted to do a floating vanity. Then we realized the way the plumbing had been done wouldn’t work with a floating vanity and would be way too expensive to change. This shouldn’t have been shocking. We definitely could have looked at the plumbing from the get go and realized our limitations.

Then we decided to keep the old vanity  with a few updates and just replace the countertop. I searched and searched online and in stores for a pre-made one that would fit wall-to-wall, but couldn’t find one. We were already 3 weeks into the project when I talked to a local company about getting one made. We wasted seven weeks before switching to another company (read the whole story here).

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While I’m ultimately really happy with how the counter top turned out, if we would have honed in our vision for the vanity, realized we just needed a counter top made, and reached out to multiple companies from the get-go, we would have saved a ton of time and a whole lot of headaches and frustration.

Also, we would have avoided another hiccup, which was . . .

#5: Choose similar materials at the same time.

I chose the floor tile, shower floor tile, and shower wall tile all together. Then the tile guy brought in some samples for the shower threshold and bench. Then I chose the vanity top after all that was installed. Now, looking back, I wish I had chosen ALL the materials together. The one thing I really don’t like about the bathroom is the shower bench top.

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The option presented to me by our tile guy is fine. I like it enough, and it seemed like the best option at the time. But I don’t like that we had to use two pieces instead of one and now that all the other materials are in, it just doesn’t feel quite right with the rest of them. I really, REALLY wish I had used the same material on the bench top as we did on the counter top, but I didn’t know what that material would be when we did the shower.

This is a good example of many lessons learned together. I could have loved the bench top if I had a clear vision, if I had figured out all the materials and chosen them together, and if I had . . .

#6: Allow time to figure out what you really want

Because of my poor planning and because I didn’t have all my materials at once, I allowed myself to settle for something that was just okay. When my tile guy presented this top as an option, I didn’t research further. I wasn’t crazy about the tile, but I didn’t hate it and thought it was probably the best option. Yes, I should have started thinking about the materials earlier. But I also should have allowed myself a little time to look into other options to find something I loved instead of feeling pressure to just pick something and settle for just okay. I should have asked to delay the decision a day or two to look into other options.

#7: Test paint on the surface it will be on

I talked about this a little in the reveal post, but when I went to select a trim color for the guest bedroom, I tested it out on the wall because the trim wasn’t installed yet. Silly me! I knew to test it on multiple places throughout the room because light can change slightly throughout. I knew to test it next to the wall color to make sure I liked the contrast. And I liked the color I chose . . . until it was actually on the trim. The color looked different on the wood trim than it did on the wall (duh!) and I didn’t like it on the trim. So I had to go and re-paint all the doors trim. I love the new trim color, but it was tedious and annoying to re-do and had I just tested paint on the actual trim pieces I could have avoided the whole thing.

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#8: Get opinions from multiple contractors/companies

When we first started planning, we reached out to two contractors. I’m so glad we did, because only one of them proved to be reliable (obviously, this is the one we chose). Then when it came to vanity tops, I looked at multiple companies but only followed through with one (because at the time, this was the only company I could find with the material we wanted). Obviously, this company was not a good choice and we had to go back to the drawing board and find someone else. Lesson learned: always get multiple opinions/quotes/etc.

Overall, I love how both rooms turned out. In many ways, it fulfills and even exceeds my original vision for the space! We learned a lot from the whole experience and I know that the lessons learned will be valuable help to us as we continue to go through the house room by room and make this house into our dream home.

Guest Bedroom Reveal

For the past 3+ months, we’ve been working on updating the guest space in our home and everything is finally finished! I could not be happier with the transformation and I’m so excited to finally share how the space looks now.

Welcome to our guest room!

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When we first moved in, I knew this area was the first major renovation I wanted to tackle. This basement bedroom was a natural choice for a guest room, but there were some pretty major things to address: no window, dark walls, odd outlet placements (why is there an outlet halfway up the left wall??), and of course, that wallpaper.

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The biggest change we made was to add a window to bring in natural light and make it a legal bedroom. Luckily, even though it is in the basement, only the bottom half of the wall is foundation/underground so our contractor could add it without much extra hassle to the exterior. The natural light is mostly indirect due to the angle of house and the fact that the window is behind our back deck, but it still makes a huge difference.

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I also knew from the very beginning that I wanted to nix the wallpaper, brighten up the walls, and add board and batten to make the half-wall into a feature, which ended up doubling as a headboard. I love how it turned out!

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Justin cut down, sanded, and stained a nice thick slab of white oak for the top of the wall, which provides not only a shelf for plants and simple decor, but also extra space for guests to place things if needed. And did you notice the artwork giving a little nod to the room’s original decor? Much more my style!

There wasn’t a way to fit a dresser in the room without it seeming crowded, so on the wall opposite the bed we converted the built-in TV cabinet to a linen closet for guest use and to hold extra towels, blankets, pillows, etc. You can read all about that full project in this blog post.

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We also swapped out all the old trim – I wanted a much thicker look and it actually made the room seem bigger and the ceiling higher! – and painted it in a soft contrasting color. I didn’t want too stark of a contrast, so at first we had it painted just a shade or two darker than the walls. but it didn’t end up providing quite enough contrast for me. I chose to lighten up my favorite shade of gray to 75% and repaint all the trim and doors and I’m so much happier with the contrast now.

Even though there isn’t room for a dresser, I still wanted a space for guests to sit and get ready. I had a narrow table from the entryway of my previous home and, when paired with a mirror and chair, it was just right to use as a small vanity. It also solved the problem of what to do with this awkward little angled wall – win win!

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A wider desk would have been too clunky in the space, but this is thin enough to work and still provide space for jewelry, make-up, etc.

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There is an en suite bathroom, but that bathroom is the only one in the basement so it is frequently used even when we don’t have guests. Because of this, the room sort of doubles as a hallway to the bathroom. I wrote all about the bathroom renovation here.

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When it came to furnishing the room, we did get some new things but I also tried to shop our home as much as possible. A lot of the frames, books, candles, tchotchkes are things I’ve collected over the years. It’s fun for me to find ways to mix new things with the old!

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I plan to share a post of all we learned from this experience at some point, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy soaking up this new space. 🙂

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Thanks so much for following along with this fun renovation!

Sources

(Note: I provided non-affiliate links to everything I could, but many things were either thrifted, bought from a store with ever-changing inventory like TJ Maxx, or bought years ago.)

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster

Trim/Door Color: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray (tinted at 75%)

Window Trim Color: Sherwin Williams Dot to Dot (this was the original trim color, which we painted over on all the trim but kept around the window)

Linen Closet Color: Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay

Linen Closet door handles: Rejuvenation

Linen Closet drawer pulls: Rejuvenation

Round Mirror: Home Goods

Vanity Table: World Market (similar)

Chair: Target

Bedding: Home Goods

Sheets: TJ Maxx

Nightstands: Wayfair

Lamps: Target

Lampshades: Target

Magnolia Candle: Target

Alarm Clock: Target

Window Roller Shade: Graber

Lily Prints: Juniper Print Shop here and here

Lily Print Frames: Ikea

Ballerina Print: Juniper Print Shop

 

 

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

Linen Closet Reveal

The guest suite renovation is so close to being finished! We have an installation date for our vanity top and a few other odds and ends to put in place but it should all be wrapped up by the end of next week – I can’t believe the countdown is in single digits!

While the entire project isn’t quite done, I couldn’t resist revealing one aspect that is finished: the transformation of our built-in linen closet!

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I never thought I would be so excited about a place to store blankets, but here we are.

Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane and look where this all started.

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This was originally meant to be a TV cabinet; however, the house is 20 years old now and this built-in was made with big and boxy TVs in mind. Remember these?

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Source

What a flashback! Truthfully, even if we could have fit a modern TV, I doubt we would have. Since the room is our guest room, I wanted to make the built-in more functional and aesthetically pleasing. A closed linen closet was the perfect solution!

Since there is also a closet door on this wall and not much space for artwork, making the cabinet a focal point by painting it a different color was a no-brainer. After testing out multiple colors, I settled on Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay. I also knew I wanted to incorporate black accents into the guest room since I’m using a lot of matte black fixtures in the adjoining bathroom. I found these bin pulls and offset handles during Rejuvenation’s sale and fell in love.

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We had to replace several of the drawer slides and LJ enjoyed throwing toys in the openings before all the drawers were put back in. 😉

I knew we’d be storing extra blankets, pillows, towels, etc in the top cabinet and the large opening wasn’t very practical for storing all that so Justin made a simple shelf to match the one already in there.

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Our contractor built two doors to cover up the opening and installed them when they were primed but not painted. (Hi Vi!)

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We hit a slight hiccup here. When I first tested out colors for the built-in, I got those little sample sizes you see in the above picture. Unfortunately, what I had bought covered everything except the doors, so I had to go back and get another little jar to finish the doors and it wasn’t the same shade! I went to the same place and asked for the exact same color and product, but the shade was ever so slightly off. It probably wouldn’t have been super noticeable to a casual observer, but I could tell the doors were different than the rest of it and it was going to bother me to no end. I ended up going back to the store and getting the shade a THIRD time, hoping that the third one would match the first and I’d only have to repaint the doors, but the third shade matched the second. I ended up having to repaint the entire front of the built-in and the drawer fronts. Super annoying, but I was happier knowing everything matched perfectly.

Lastly, Justin drilled holes and attached the door handles and the cabinet was finished!

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The closet is stocked with extra pillows, blankets, towels, washcloths, and a variety of toiletry items that our guests may need. I keep things like travel-sized shampoo & conditioner, lotion, bar soap, toothpaste, dry shampoo, contact solution, q-tips, extra toothbrushes, extra razors, feminine products, cotton balls, extra toothbrushes . . . anything I can think of that a guest may have forgotten that they can use without having to ask. The drawers are empty and available for guests to use if they want.

I’m so happy with how this piece turned out – I can hardly believe it is the same TV cabinet from just a couple months ago! It’s so gratifying to see a vision come to life and this one turned out just like I had hoped.

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Now on to the next project!

First Home Project in 2020!

Our first home improvement project of 2020 is underway! (Even though we’re still working on it, I’m not talking about our guest suite since that actually started in 2019).

Our first project of 2020 is . . .

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this wall at the top of our garage stairs. Bet you didn’t see that one coming, huh?

I’ve always wanted to have a designated place in our home to measure the heights of our growing family. I love the idea of watching our children grow over time and documenting it in a permanent place that we’ll frequently see. Once we moved in May and decided this is the house we want to raise our family in, it was high on my list of things to do. The only problem was figuring out where to do it.

I’ve frequently seen it done in homes on a door frame or on the back of a door. This wouldn’t really work for us because we plan to eventually paint the doors and replace all the trim; I don’t want our marks to get removed or painted over! We had the same problem with interior walls – our laundry room wall would have been an ideal place, but we eventually plan to gut that space and change around the layout, and this would include painting. Plus, paint trends change over time and I would be nervous to commit to a wall color knowing I could never change it in the next 40+ years or it would cover the marks. Justin suggested marking our heights in an interior space like a closet or the pantry, but it just doesn’t have the same effect when it’s hidden and hardly ever seen.

This wall in our garage provided the perfect solution. Our home has a unique layout where the garage is actually on the level of our basement, so you need to walk up stairs to get to the main floor. The landing space right outside the entrance into the main floor was the perfect place for documenting our heights: it’s a discreet space (not in the middle of our living room) that we see every day, and since it’s more of a utilitarian space not subject to trends, I don’t have to worry about changing styles or decor. Hooray!

Now, I don’t love the color that was already on the walls, but we weren’t really up for painting the entire garage at this time. So we decided to just patch and paint the landing area for now. Since the garage is a bit of a workhorse space, there was a lot of patching to do! (Also, if you’re curious, that little extra stairway to the little door is our attic storage space).

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The wall is now dry so we need to sand down all those patches, wash the walls, prime, and paint. It’s a simple project, but I’m so excited about it!