Master Bedroom progress

I am excited to show you our new bedroom today! It isn't finished—I don't seem to have a stash of cash to just go out and purchase all the accessories I want all at once, but it is in progress and I am too excited to wait until it is "finished" to show you!

I like things to flow from room to room and feel cohesive. Therefore, I used the same wall color I've used throughout our home, and repeated the accent wall color from our living room. When we remodeled our living room we purchased enough of this hickory wide plank solid wood flooring to eventually do this room also. It sat on pallets in our garage for several years so it felt great to finally get it installed! It was not the most forgiving flooring to lay and it took us several days to get the job done. So happy with the end result!

We formerly had two ceiling fan/light fixtures in this space. We struggled to keep this room cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and knew we wanted to keep a ceiling fan in this room. We opted instead for a simple design with no light, and then added 4 recessed LED lights to the room. We love the new fan. It is so much more efficient and quiet than the old ones, not to mention much more sleek and modern. 

Sources: Paint, accent wall, Behr Dusty Mountain; main walls, Behr Sandstone Cliff; ceiling fan from Wayfair; sconces from Wayfair (no longer available); duvet cover, Thomas O'Brien from Target (discontinued); lumbar pillow, handmade using a Target throw; throw blanket from TJ Maxx; rug from Home Depot; bed from Crate and Barrel; nightstands, vintage.

As a little reminder, this is what the room looked like before. The only place to put the bed was under the windows:

We tore out the closets and moved the bed to that wall. The closet was relocated next to the bathroom by stealing a little space from the office.

We still need to figure out what to use for window treatments. I love the simplicity of blinds, but this is quite a long window. In this case I am leaning towards floor-to-ceiling curtains to provide some softness and an insulating effect in the winter. Something subtle but textural. What would you do?

On the opposite side of the room, this little corner is where I would eventually love to install a gas fireplace. Until then, it houses a dresser (vintage—I bartered with a client to acquire these), and the Eames-style lounger I refurbished.

I would actually like to organize our closet well enough to house all of our clothes, even our underwear and things that are currently held in the dressers in our bedroom. I love being able to go from our bathroom into the closet to get dressed and having everything there in one place. 

Other sources: Paint color, Behr Sandstone Cliff (walls), Behr Powdered Snow (trim and ceiling), Behr Squirrel (doors); wood planter from Target; Union Jack pillow, handmade; magazine rack, vintage from a storage unit sale;  art by Scott Davis, a talented former co-worker—it is hard to tell from this but it features a deer wading through a misty Great Salt Lake.  Here is a closer look:

This was the mood board I put together before the remodel:

We had the bed and nightstands already. A friend sent me a link to the sconces shown above, and I ordered them right away (from Wayfair) only to get an e-mail about 3 weeks later that my order was cancelled. Boo. I had to go to plan B, and found the sconces we ended up purchasing (also from Wayfair, and now also no longer available.) Apparently that is a thing. If you see something you want, snatch it up immediately. 

The pillow in the mood board is from Citizenry (similar). Their stuff is beautiful. And also—expensive. I didn't buy it, but I do rather love the pop of color. 

The leather bench is still very much on my wish list, from CB2.

Finally, artwork. I love these joshua tree prints from Amber Interiors. I wanted to do something original and try to make my own local desert-inspired photos. When the yucca plants were in bloom along the Teton River I shot these images:

I just can't decide what combination to use. A pair of two?

Or one big photo?  Which do you like?

As I mentioned before, we finished the bedroom and office side of this space, and left the old bathroom in tact (i.e. functional) until we can tackle that project. It left some awkward spaces in the meantime. We expanded the bathroom walls by a foot or so, which left a gap between the new wall and old wall. (This is where we hide our stowaways ;) Our closet is temporarily set up where it will eventually go, however the old bathroom walls make it pretty narrow for now. 

Thanks for your input on the bathroom layout! It was helpful to hear your feedback. I am definitely leaning in this direction:

Thanks for following along, and let me know what you think! 

Office progress

Welcome to the new and improved view inside our front door!  (I know that office wall is really bare right now. That will change!)

As a little reminder, this is what the office area looked like before. 

And now, it looks like this! Not quite finished.

We opted to put frosted glass sliding doors in so we could fully close the office off and still let daylight in. The barn door hardware and doors are from Home Depot, and considerably less expensive than most others on the market, but I'm happy to say we were pleased with the quality. 

The little windows on the side were added for architectural interest and to allow natural light to still flow into the hallway. We were worried that closing off this wall would make the hall seem really long and dark. I think it was a great call. We plan to add glass windows with modern black steel frames to the openings. 

From the new (main) entrance to our bedroom, the office looks like this. We have temporarily put our old office furniture back in until we can afford to/have time to install cabinetry. (When we do, our sweet Paul McCobb desk will be for sale if anyone is interested!)

As a reminder, the cabinets will be something like this:

We changed the windows a bit since I made this rendering, but you get the idea. The floor space in the office is quite a bit smaller than it used to be. I did have to fight Tom for the real estate a bit. But I truly believe that good storage and organization is more important than floor space. 

To the right of the office is the old entrance to our bedroom. We originally thought we would put a powder room here, but opted instead to make a small closet. We made it the perfect size to hold our recycle bins and some pantry overflow, and it meets our needs perfectly. We still need to tile the floor and paint the shelves in this closet. Baby steps. 

Still to come—our master bedroom! Thanks for following along!

Fort Benton Cottage — Part 3

Continuing on with our tour through this cute little cottage, let's mosey through the rest of the house. (As a reminder, the listing is here. Part 1 and Part 2, in case you missed it.)  So as not to drag this reveal out any longer than necessary, this is going to be a long, photo heavy post. 

The kitchen

We probably spent less on this entire renovation than most people spend on the kitchen alone, so I am proud of what we were able to accomplish on our budget: new recessed lighting, a new window above the sink, all new cabinetry and hardware, countertops, sink, and faucet, durable luxury vinyl tile flooring, a new dishwasher and hood vent, a marble-topped rolling island, and a much improved layout. A new refrigerator would have been a nice addition also, but we did plan enough room for a full-sized fridge to be added. If I bought this house I would add a white subway tile backsplash and few well chosen accessories and this kitchen would be as cute as ever!

Instead of buying an expensive range hood vent, we used a traditional cabinet-mount version and asked the contractor to enclose the ducting with a custom wood box instead. I love how it turned out! And I love how the extra touch of wood ties in with the wood island and warms up the neutral space.

One of the best changes we made was to bring the laundry upstairs. Previously the hookups were in the deepest darkest corner of the basement.  I don't love laundry in the kitchen, but we were able to separate the laundry area with the partial wall (beyond the stove). Now the laundry feels like a separate area that is within easy access to the bedrooms, a huge benefit to the new home owners. 

The door shown below leads into one of the two upstairs bedrooms:

And this is another look into the laundry area (the washer and dryer hookups are to the right, out of sight in this photo. The location accommodates both side-by-side or stackable units.) Beyond the laundry area is the mudroom leading to the back door and stairs to the basement. 

The kitchen before:

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This was a hot mess of mis-matched cabinetry, wallpaper, and weird electrical fixtures. I do kind of like the wood cabinet unit, especially the upper glass doors. I might have been inclined to find a way to reuse it, but as you can see by the photos, none of the drawers closed properly. And the homeowners had already gutted this kitchen at the point I was brought into the project.

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Gutting the kitchen gave us the blank slate we needed to reconfigure the layout and update the electrical. 

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bedrooms and bath

The upstairs has two bedrooms with gorgeous original wood windows and natural light. We just had to gussy things up with updated flooring, paint, and lighting.  The ceiling in the Master bedroom featured a paneled design that we left alone. We added a smaller ceiling fixture to better fit the scale of the room (it matches the one in the living room. I'm all about continuity like that!) :)

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One simple thing we did that had a big impact was in the master closet. When it was added to the house, it was built out into the stairwell on the other side of the wall. You had to "shimmy" sideways around the big box just to descend the stairs. (Imagine doing that with a big laundry basket in hand!) You will see when I show you the stairway that this little slanted chunk we took out of the Master closet makes minimal difference here and much improved the basement access. We also widened the closet doors.

The Master before:

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You may wonder why we didn't refinish the hardwood floors in this room, and I will tell you. We definitely considered it. But widening closet and bathroom doors left gaps in the floor that would have needed repairing, and in the end the homeowner liked the coziness of carpet in the bedrooms anyway. The wood in the second bedroom was in worse shape and the wood floor guy advised us not to try to refinish them. 

The two bedrooms are joined by a Jack and Jill bath. The old doors into the bathroom were the funniest little elfish size. I loved the old doors in this house, but we found the closest match we could and replaced the bathroom doors with two new full-size doors.

Now check out this adorable bathroom! I don't have a true before photo, but believe me when I say this is a massive improvement. 

We cleaned up and reused the original tub, but everything else in this bathroom is new. I fought to do tile work in the bathroom and even though it costs a little more II think the money was well spent. 

Using a pedestal sink opens up the room, but it is also a risky decision when there is only one bathroom in the house. There was empty space behind the two bedroom doors, so we took the opportunity to add storage here instead, and a black granite countertop provides an extra area to primp. (We were in the process of installing the backsplash when this photo was taken so it isn't quite finished.)

The bathroom gutted during construction:

The second bedroom is as cute as ever with bead board paneling on the upper third. (These photos were not shot with a wide-angle lens, and as such they look smaller in these photos than they are in real life.)

mudroom and basement

The back mudroom is sunny and bright, so we simply cleaned it up by painting, adding hooks, and replacing the back door. 

This is the door to the backyard and the closest entrance to the garage.

Heading down the stairs to the basement, this is where you had to make yourself very skinny and descend the stairs sideways. (Too bad I don't have a before photo!)  The original construction work was very shoddy so our work in this area included lots of drywall repair, smoothing and leveling stairs, and of course, cleaning it all up with fresh coats of paint.

We couldn't spend a lot of money in the basement, but wanted to finish this portion of it to be clean and usable. There were two odd-sized door openings that would have required custom door solutions, so I turned to this tutorial to make screens that slide on metal piping. I think the result is fun and playful, though they will never be as solid as a real door. With an bigger budget we would have used actual smooth-sliding barn door hardware or framed in a real door. 

Now these two rooms are comfortable and usable as bedroom or office space.

The basement before:

The photo below shows one of the doorways now covered by one of the new screens. (It was formerly covered by a cracked vinyl accordion door. You can see the challenges here. The concrete was uneven and it would have taken quite a bit of work to even this out and frame it properly for a door.

The rest of this basement beyond this opening is fairly large and great for storage. The ceiling is shorter and the floor higher, so it isn't ideal for finished space. 

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And that's it!

I love to take an old house and make it new again, while preserving its best bits. This was a dream project and I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked on it. Now, someone please snatch this up and hire me to help you decorate! :)

Fort Benton Cottage — Part 2

Thanks for all your nice comments about this project yesterday! As a reminder, the listing is here, and I shared background and photos of the exterior in Part 1.

Today I'm going to show you the best part—the interior. I would have absolutely LOVED to have decorated and styled this house, but that was not in the budget, nor did it make sense for an owner who was planning to sell. So, you will have to use your imagination to see the potential in this empty house!

You walk into a light and bright space. (I decided to lead off with the pretty photos this time. The before photos are below.) The walls were all painted a uniform neutral color (Sherman Williams Agreeable Gray) and trim SW Pure White. The original floors were stripped and refinished to their natural color.

I just love the transom window in the living. The ceiling fixture was updated to a scale and period appropriate design. 

The fireplace and all its charm was left alone!

Sunlight streams in the windows so we capitalized on all the natural light by painting the bead board and trim a bright white. The original door was updated with a new lockset. 

Looking into the dining room, the ceiling fixtures was updated to a vintage fixture that features a milk glass top and metal shade. 

The original built-in was left in tact but we repaired and repainted everything to freshen it up. 

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One last view looking from the kitchen out to the dining room:

And here are the before photos. You can see how much darker everything feels! Also featured: oversized ceiling fans, wallpaper borders, and carpet adhesive.

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It isn't my intent to drag this out and leave you in suspense, but since it takes me time to put these posts together, and to avoid making these posts too large and hard to load, PART 3 will come to you tomorrow. 

Thanks for touring!

Fort Benton Cottage — Part 1

Last spring I was given the opportunity to work on a very fun project. Some friends of ours had purchased a darling little cottage in our home town in hopes of eventually retiring there and slowing renovating it. Unfortunately for them, circumstances changed and so did their plans. They no longer needed the house. Rather than re-list immediately and probably lose money on their investment, they decided to make some of the improvements they wanted to make anyway, in hopes of later reselling for a higher price. 

The market in Fort Benton has been in a bit of a slump this winter, so the house is still on the market and waiting patiently for the right match to snatch it up. It is a small house, but it is perfect for the cute retired couple, smart single, or small family looking for an updated home with character. The listing is here, in case you are interested! :)

Because the homeowners lived several states away, they hired a local contractor and then hired me to oversee the renovation and make all the design decisions. I must say they were the dream clients. The budget was small but I had complete freedom within those restraints. 

The exterior of the house was already cute. Its redeeming features included a front porch, rock chimney, solid metal roof (albeit in a distracting blue), original wood windows and clapboard siding, large front yard, and cheery landscaping. The property also included a very nice detached garage with an attached bonus space that could be finished as a guest space. Less appealing was the chipped paint on the concrete stairs and metal pipe railing and those odd porch roof posts that seemed to call too much attention to themselves.  

I wish my after photos stilled featured the pretty hollyhocks and foliage shown in the before photo, but it was late fall when these photos were taken, and the poor plants had been a bit trampled on by the house painters. :) Nevertheless, the changes are subtle but nice.

  • Simplified the post structure on the porch
  • Repainted the house to a slightly less pink color with crisp white trim
  • Removed the screen door so the wooden door could shine
  • Moved the house numbers off the door frame
  • Removed the ugly satellite dish!
  • Painted the flower boxes and front door in a dusky blue-green to tie in both the stone and the roof color. 
  • Added new iron railings and painted the cement steps
  • Added a new lockset on the front door and replaced the brass porch light with a black one to tie in with the other black accents.

When these photos were taken in late fall the leaves were falling obviously. But imagine it all styled up with flowers in the window boxes, plants growing in front, and a few comfy porch chairs!

Next post I will take you inside!

kitchen with a mountain view

Since I put my shingle out as a designer I've had a few inquiries about doing long-distance projects. With a couple such projects under my belt now, I can confidently say it works quite well! Today I am excited to show you a project where our primary communication was via e-mail. This client found me when my kitchen was featured on Apartment TherapyThey do live in-state, so I was able to visit the home once before the plan was presented, and again when the project was complete to take "after" photos. 

The client provided measurements and photos of her kitchen. We discussed her wants and needs in depth through a series of questions and answers via e-mail. At that point we had the opportunity to meet in person before I finalized their plan.

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 BEFORE

BEFORE

The original kitchen in this late-century ranch home felt dark and closed in. It's single window faced north, and the built in florescent box light topped the hit list. The red sink dictated the color scheme and limited their decorating options. The cabinets were showing wear and many of the doors wouldn't close properly. Otherwise, the galley style layout worked well for them. They weren't interested in opening the wall (left) to the living room, however there was an unused back door at the other end that left some opportunity to add additional space. (There is also a sliding door in the dining room that provides access to the back yard.)

I provided two 3-D layouts to them to help them visualize annexing the back door and pantry space into the kitchen area. Both designs called for removing the short end walls on either side that were non-load bearing, eliminating the soffits and florescent light box and installing can lights.

The first layout involved removing the back door all together, removing all upper cabinets on the north wall, and adding extra windows to make the kitchen feel lighter and larger and maximize their beautiful mountain views.

A second option showed the dividing walls removed but the back door still in place. The old pantry closet was replaced with cabinets to unify it with the kitchen. The single window was maintained and open shelves were added to replace the lost storage of upper cabinets.

On the opposite side, the appliance locations were maintained to save costs. We also explored the idea of glass upper cabinets to increase the light and airy feel.

The renderings helped them visualize the end result and in the end they took the leap that would give them the biggest impact—removing the back door and expanding the window. 

While their electric cooktop functioned okay, they eventually decided to make the switch to a gas stove. They opted for a range instead of a cooktop, adding a range above and eliminating the wall oven/microwave combo which provided them with extra counter space. They found a spot for their microwave by borrowing space from a coat closet and creating a niche just to the right of the refrigerator.

I also provided them with a mood board to help them make design selections since I was not involved in the shopping and sourcing portion of the project. 

I recommended a two-tone cabinet color scheme with a warm white on top and gray on the bottom. The light color would keep things light and bright, and the gray would add variety and durability to the cabinets that get the most wear. The design also included white subway tile and beautiful feature sconces from Rejuvenation above the windows. She had expressed a love for cobalt and had an inspiration photo with a stunning cobalt gas stove. I suggested that lighting might be a great opportunity to bring the color in without making a permanent commitment. (Shades could easily be swapped out later). I was thrilled that they decided to adopt the lights in their design, though they did opt for a more classic and neutral option (also from Rejuvenation).

Because their kitchen footprint expanded, they would need to either match their existing oak and refinish the entire space or replace it with something new. Their contractor found them a deal on reclaimed wood from an old gymnasium, so they chose to replace it. I love the character and warmth the new floor brings to the space.

Now for the reveal:

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A few fun features in their new kitchen:

I hope you enjoyed this tour! I certainly enjoyed working on this project and seeing the transformation when it was finished. Do let me know if you have any questions about sources and I will try to track down the info for you.

 

 

Eva's room

Thank you ever so much for your nice comments about our bath renovation last week! Just for that, I have another before and after post for you!

We completed this project in just over a week. We didn't do any major design back flips or murals in this room though. Like I said before, our goals became a little more practical, and a clean canvas is a great place to start. 

We already had everything just as it is—we just scraped and textured the ceiling, patched and repainted the walls, put in new flooring, and replaced all the trimwork—then moved it all back in. Oh- we did add a new light fixture and rug. 

My before photo was taken back when this room functioned more as a nursery and Eva was still in a crib, but you can see that everything was VERY blue. The carpet was original, and we were pretty anxious to get it out of her room because Eva was suffering from what we thought might be dust allergies.

Here is an even earlier before photo—back before we moved into the house. Pink and blue!

The built-ins used to have doors in the lower portion, but they were difficult to slide open. We removed them to make the shelves more functional for toy storage.

 

And after—whew! Relief from all that blue. And this is a north facing room!

The room still needs window treatments. I have white linen and all the supplies to sew roman shades.

Her bed is a Craig's list find from quite awhile back, though I never blogged about it. I was saving it for this post! I love LOVE both girls' antique beds!

The shelves took for-ever to paint. I lost track of how many coats it took to cover the blue with white. 

But they sure are great for storage!

The mirror was a prop I purchased for a photo I styled at my former job. I always loved it so I was able to buy it back from the photo department a couple of years after I left!

Simple, clean, and fit for a princess. One more room completed!

SOURCES:

  • flooring: Ikea Tundra in white
  • bed: vintage
  • quilt: Land of Nod, no longer available
  • bench: Land of Nod, no longer available
  • mirror: vintage
  • school chairs: vintage
  • Chandelier: Ikea Kristaller
  • Rug: Home Decorators Collection, Cozy Shag Rug in Hot Pink
  • Closet curtain: custum sewed by moi
  • Mirror in shelves: Ikea
  • Artwork: Etsy, prints from Tiny Fawn
  • suitcases: vintage
  • Paint colors: Walls–Benjamin Moore Silver Sage, Trim—Behr Powdered Snow

 

 

Bathroom reveal

I had grandiose plans for this bathroom at one point, including adding a walk-in shower and a clawfoot tub. I even purchased an old tub to refurbish. But 4 years into our renovations we are feeling a bit burnt out—or more practical. Either way, I decided to edit my plans to just a tub/shower combo and keeping everything in the same locations. I was going for FINISHED. We had a list of other projects to tackle once this was complete, so FINISHED seemed like a worthy goal.

(For previous posts about this project and to see my inspiration pics, go here, here, and here.)

I will list the sources at the bottom of this post.

I searched high and low but could not find a vanity that lived up to my inspiration and expectations. It took a bit of arm twisting, but I was able to talk my Dad into building it. (I found a builder on Etsy as a backup option, but doing it ourselves definitely saved us money). I chose this insanely gorgeous walnut for the project, and we went for a mid century design that resembled a piece of freestanding furniture. (I would have loved to use an actual vintage dresser, but it would have been a challenge to find a piece that met our size specifications. My search over the past 2 years yielded no options.) I gave my dad a rough design, and he helped me refine it. My dad did all the construction and I did the staining and finishing. It turned out just like I'd hoped!

We built the mirror to match, and saved even more money. 

The light over the vanity was one I had seen ages ago and loved. They were sold out online, but I ended up calling multiple stores and tracked down one of the last ones in stock. When it arrived I was surpised by how big it was... but the store had done me a special favor tracking it down and it didn't seem like a good idea to send it back! The inside is gold, so I carried those gold/brass touches throughout.

We kept the existing ceiling fixtures, although we shifted one so they would be lined up. The spacing was odd before. I adore these lights, and love that we were able to keep something from the old bathroom.

We had several boxes of tile left over from our kitchen/dining/entry/laundry spaces. We calculated it to be exactly what we needed for the bathroom, so we ordered one extra box to be on the safe side. In the end we had one box left over. Go figure. :)

Here are the juicy side-by-side before and afters:

The observant will notice a few structural differences: We removed the soffits above the tub and sink. We expanded the width of the wall between to accommodate the niches in the shower wall. The wall heat register is gone, replaced by a floor vent (we put in forced air heat throughout the house). 

Not exactly the same view here—sorry. The new shower is very light and bright. We chose simple 6x8 white tiles from Home Depot. Cheap and classic. We chose to stack them rather than stagger them subway style for a more contemporary look. 

Sorry- this view is shot at a different angle also, but I wanted to show you how we replaced the doors on the built-in shelves. Dad built these out of the walnut as well.

 

This before photo of the vanity is after we affectionately bid adieu to the red shag carpet and installed a cheap piece of sheet vinyl to tide us by.  And you may wonder—what could possibly be wrong with this delicious brown 70s tile and brown shampoo sink? If you are crying a tear over their demise, let me assure you they were past their prime. The tile was staring to fall off the front of the vanity, the sink and shower faucets leaked (horribly). Okay, we could have kept the shampoo sink, but I think it was time for a new look.

These shower niches were my brain child. I wanted something to look at other than a blank shower wall since you see this spot first when you walk in the room. Also, I like to keep things off the tub ledge. I think it was worth it, even though it added some challenge to the tile-laying process.

I had a small obsession with finding pretty shampoo/conditioner, but I couldn't seem to find any that fit the design scheme like I wanted. I was able to purchase the empty amber plastic bottles from Specialty bottles, and then I searched for some white vinyl lettering to label them with. I had trouble find the perfect letters, so when I saw these gold letters I thought- perfect! More gold! Tom thinks they look mail boxes now. Whatever. 


I had a couple of unused white frames on hand, so I scoured Etsy for some art to put in them. I ended up falling for these little watercolor dresses from Mary Catherine Starr, who did a "dress-a-day for 100 days" project. These are two of her originals. I thought it would bring a bit of femininity to the space since it is used primarily by our girls. 


We actually ended up replacing the toilet also. The old one was still pretty new—an expensive wall mount toilet with a power flush feature that scared the kids. I think it scared a few grown-ups too with it's sonic flush. Luckily we were able to access the plumbing through a closet in the basement and move the sewer pipe in order to put in a standard toilet. 


The faucets are fun and modern, but I'm finding the chrome shows. every. spot. The countertop is cut from a Quartz remnant I found in a local stone yard.

Finally, I added one last piece of art. I found this perfect frame on clearance at Target, so I just added a gold mat I found in my stash and a sweet photo of Sarah shot by talented Darla of rozephotography.com.

 

SOURCES:

 

 

 

 

everything old was brand new once

I recently came across some photos of our house while it was being built. It is so much fun to see these photos and imagine the excitement my grandparents would have experienced as they watched it progress. I know our house really isn't that old by many standards (it was built in 1971-72), but it is older than me!

The shop was built before the house was built. You know. Farmer priorities.

This next picture is funny to me. The house isn't yet finished and there is already a garden out back! (Even though the old house is right down the road.)


The builders and my Grandmpa—presumably celebrating a job finished in the new kitchen!

I love this next photo also. This furniture followed them over from their old house, but it really fit this atomic ranch. I'm not sure when my Grandma upgraded her furniture, but her next choices were much more Victorian in style.

With spring came the landscaping projects, and apparently a new color camera.

Tom was quick to point out the yellow tractor that is still being put to use on the farm today. (Dad says it isn't exactly new here, either.)

Mixing concrete for the terraced flower beds.

And these next photos must be from the next winter. There aren't any big trees around the house yet. It's fun to see the house when it was brown. It is back to it's original color again! (Well, most of it.)

The new garage door looks just like the old one. Especially today with all the snow piled out front.

These photos are taken in our backyard where they apparently flooded an area for ice skating. Sweet!

And here someone is about to bite the dust:

We started to tackle some exterior updates this fall, but we didn't get very far before the cold weather hit. As I mentioned, we have painted all the blue trim back to brown. We tore down half of the deck and have plans to redeck the rest and update the railing. I'd love to show you our plans—and when we finally have a chance to see them through it will be fun to have these true "before" photos to compare to!

Sarah's room reveal!

Sarah's birthday came . . . and went. Sarah was gracious enough to allow us until her birthday party this weekend to finish and we just made it by the skin of our teeth. She moved in on Friday night, 10 days after her birthday. (Refer to the previous post for before pictures.)

This project was all-consuming. At least Sarah can't say we don't love her-ha! My house has suffered for it. The piles of laundry and layers of dust are highly embarrassing. It was good to have a deadline to keep me motivated though it. The mural and furniture painting took the longest, so I am hoping Eva's room will go a little faster without so many of those types of projects. For now, I need a break. 

 

Loving her huge new window! I've ordered fabric to sew curtains (you know, because I apparently can't do anything the easy way in this room).

I took these photos before we moved all her toys back in. I love it all minimal and sparse, but it isn't a very fair representation of reality, I'm afraid. This corner with the mirror now holds her big Barbie house and castle and baskets of toys.


This niche is where the sink used to be. Sarah adores her new desk. 

I plan to sew a curtain for the closet as well. I would LOVE to build (or buy) a closet system to make this space more functional, but that will have to come later. 

The white floors are so clean and fresh and they make the room look huge. Having one bed instead of two helps also. Another favorite is her new rug. It is unbelievably soft—so soft she wants to sleep on it!

I'll do another post with a few sources and details. Chow for now!

entry progress

Hello and happy Thursday to you! Our girls finished up with their school year before the long weekend, so we decided to take the opportunity to get away. Last night we returned from a 6-day, 2000-mile road trip to the west coast! I would love to have all my photos downloaded to share, but before I spend the time to do that I need to get caught up on the unpacking and piles of laundry that await. I prepared this post before we left, so I will leave you with this for now and will be back next week with more. 

Remember what our entry way used to look like? It featured this slate planter. The dirt didn't exactly smell fresh and I was always afraid the cat would use it as a catbox. We were glad to get it out of there as there were a couple of rotten floor boards underneath. (We saved the rocks to use for a future outdoor project). 

The hallway looked like this:

And now it looks like this:

I've have been spending some time painting doors and trim recently, so it is nice to finally be able to show you the changes in this area! The biggest thing we did in the entry hall (besides replacing all the doors and windows) was to remove the closets and cupboards that were there before. Now we have a "landing strip" for our gear as we go in and out. Admittedly having this all out in the open isn't always fantastic. It does get stacked pretty deep with coats, backpacks, and shoes, but it sure beats the piles of stuff on the floor. Kids just won't take the time to put everything away in closets.

This is where I did the rest of the stenciling that I mentioned in my previous post. For shelving we actually purchased an IKEA Expedit unit. Everyone in the family has a basket to hold their sunglasses, gloves, etc. My dad built a shelf to go across the top. Then we simply added a strip of baseboard molding to attach the hooks to. We have purchased oak boards to build a bench, which I will stain to match our kitchen cabinets and shelves. The bench here isn't quite tall enough or wide enough, but it works as a place holder until we can build one. 

It is so nice to have freshly painted trim and doors and new windows. The fridge is a bit of an eye sore, but we love having an extra fridge and this is a pretty convenient place to have it. 

We replaced the front door quite awhile ago. This is what it looked like before, after we had started demo.

The old door wasn't in very good shape and didn't seal well. The side windows were even worse- they weren't even double-pane insulated glass. They were basically very scratched-up plexi glass held in place with wood stops, and had lots of dirt and condensation between the panes. We couldn't find a stock door/window unit to fit the space, so we ended up buying the door and glass separately. It meant we had to do quite a bit of trimming around them to make them look nice, but it is finally done. And painted!

I wanted the front door to have weight and presence, even though it is mostly glass, so I painted it Behr Black Bean. It is an off-black with green undertone. A glass door like this certainly isn't for everyone, and it wouldn't be for me either if we lived in town, but out here we don't have to be too concerned about privacy. I like to have the light stream in and it is great to have the view out to where the guys are working. If I ever feel like I need more privacy I might explore the options of frosted window film.

While the inside looks finished, the outside—not so much. I have a lots of scraping and sanding to do before I paint it (and ALL the exterior trim) dark brown. 

Now if I can just keep this little guy from jumping up and smearing all my glass.... :)

I have lived with my new entry rugs for awhile now, and I must say that I love them.

They are indoor/outdoor rugs from Dash & Albert (purchased from Wayfair, but they don't seem to have this pattern right now). They have a huge selection of patterns to choose from, and they are fantastic for an entry because they clean so easily. I usually just vacuum over them, but when I'm mopping I often run my mop over them as well. You can even take them outside and hose them off. 

Little by little... progress is made! It is so gratifying to look at before/after pictures like this and see how many things we have transformed! It's like playing the game "How many differences can you count?"

 

measuring up

I've seen various versions of Growth Chart rulers floating around Pinterest, including this cute one in the photo above from here. Most of them are done on a piece of wood that can be taken down and moved with you. Smart. 

But I had a built-in piece of wood that seemed perfect for the job, and after all, we don't plan to move. It needed a make-over anyway. The wood end cap on our fireplace was stained a lighter color and didn't match our new cabinet color.

A perfect spot for a growth chart!

I didn't take any in-process photos because I wasn't completely sure it would work out. And it certainly isn't perfect. I decided to do a reverse effect and let the wood show through where the numbers are. To do this I printed the numbers out on a full sheet of label stock and cut them out with an X-acto knife. I cut strips out of the same label sheet with a paper cutter, and then cut them to length. First I sanded the board really well, then I then carefully measured and stuck the labels to the board.

In case you are wondering, yes, it is accurate—at least to about 1/8", which is close enough for measuring height. I measured very carefully! :)

After my labels were in place, I painted 3 or 4 coats of chalkboard paint. This is where I erred. I should have primed in addition to the sanding. I had bubbles in my paint. This may or may not have happened anyway, I'm not sure, but it was very apparent afterwards when I rubbed chalk over it to season it. By then it was too late to sand and recoat because I had removed all of the stickers.

The other problem is that the stickers didn't come off very easily and paint bled under them in places. If you look closely my lines aren't perfect. But life is too short to worry about perfection. Good enough. 

After taking these photos I decided to clean all the chalk off, which makes the bubbles much less apparent. I still like the matte black finish, even if it doesn't function as a chalkboard. I mark the heights in pencil anyway because I don't want them to rub off. The pencil marks are a little hard to see on the dark color, but that's okay with me too because it stays looking clean.

I only wish I'd done this sooner! Abby is already 5'2" at 10 years old. Crazy. It will be interesting to see if the other two are even close. So far the tallest mark is at 6'3" (my brother). Any taller and my little dinner bell interferes with the measuring... but oh well, the dinner bell has been here forever and it will stay for nostalgia sake!

Beyond the growth chart is a little niche leading into the living room. It used to look like this:

Crazy, huh? We still plan to put a desk/command center here for me to use for cookbooks, my laptop, and school paraphernalia. I'd like to have my dad help custom build it to look something like this with little niches and closed storage, but he is a busy man and I might get impatient and find a solution I can piece together with stuff I can buy. Depends on which comes first—time or money. 

In the meantime, the wall was in rough shape from removing the mirror that was glued to the sheetrock, so I decided to stencil it using this stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils. The process was quite easy and it was less expensive than the Woods wallpaper I love. The main reason I bought the stencil was for an area in my entry that I will show you in an upcoming post. That area I painted with dark over light, but since I already had this spot painted dark gray, I stenciled light over dark and it turned out just fine. I used regular latex wall paint and a foam roller. I would definitely try this technique again—much easier than hanging wallpaper! 

kitchen before and after

I can't believe we are nearing a year in our new kitchen. We love it as much as ever, of course. Last time I posted about it we still had a pretty large list of projects to check off: trim work and painting, installing the open shelves, buying and installing a pantry cabinet, buying and installing a light over the island, and more. Slowly through the year we checked most of those things off the the list and I've been waiting... waiting... to call the whole thing "done" so I could post final photos. There are actually still a few little items to complete which I will point out to you, but I finally decided—good enough!

So off we go.

Maybe I shouldn't even point it out, but one of things on our list to finish is the tile above the left window. We ran out of mastic adhesive the first time around, and it seems like a great effort to get it all out to do such a small section. We might get around to it when we tackle another tile job in a bathroom or laundry room. For now it almost passes as intentional.

The shelves and light are new since I last showed you!

The pantry cabinet is also new. It beats the metal shelf that I lived with for awhile. Actually, this cabinet was mostly paid for with a credit from the cabinet company. Their color samples misrepresented the color and our cabinets turned out lighter than expected. They offered to refinish the doors, but the ends and frames wouldn't have matched so we opted for a credit instead.

You also get a sneak peak of some stenciling I did beyond it. Just a teaser!

We finished off the crown above the cabinets (a bit tricky since the space was pretty small) and painted all the window trim. I also bought new inexpensive bar stools.

The sideboard and china cupboard in the dining room were original, but I refinished them. I would love to remove the kick base and add feet to it someday. I sewed the curtains myself, and I don't think I've shown them to you yet either! I layered them with some woven panels I already owned.

I removed the doors from the firebox (my dad originally made them for my Grandma, but they just didn't work with my scheme (sorry Dad). I am planning to paint the inside a dark gray color, but actually the white doesn't bother me so much either. We have a little more fireplace to do also—namely fixing the propane valve so we can actually use it (!) and patching some mortar.


Here is an up-close look at the open shelves. I. love. them. Not only was it a good solution to a difficult space (there is a support beam above them that would have made an upper cabinet almost impossible), it keeps the kitchen very open and gives us really easy access to our every-day dishes. Right across from the dishwasher, no less. The supports are long steel bars that go through the shelves and into the studs in the wall. We predrilled holes for them before we tiled. (By "we" I mean my dad.) We used oak planks seamed together to make a solid wood shelf. I then stained and finished them as close as possible to the cabinet color. We added some hooks to the bottom to hang mugs.

Here is one last view:

I'll be back soon with more photos and a source list. Until then, if you want to learn more about our kitchen journey, you can follow the posts below:

What's wrong with my kitchen, anyway?
kitchen layout plans

ordering cabinets
kitchen finishes
What.A.Mess.
more demolition
kitchen lighting options
lighting options :: round 2
getting rid of the gunk
best laid plans
progress report—tile, cabinets, and stress
progress report—cabinets installed
we're cookin' now!
dining room hutch—before and after
kitchen backsplash and hood
kitchen organization

finally lounging

I am super excited to share today's post with you. I wrote about this chair only about... 6 months ago. In September I had a surge of productivity when I took the chair apart and completed the wood re-finishing. Then the pieces banged around in my storage room while I waited for my mom to have time to help me with the upholstery. On a cold and snowy Saturday a couple of weeks ago I was antsy to tackle a project. I left the kids with Tom for the day and plowed through the snow to my mom's house where I could tackle this project once and for all—without distraction, under the watchful eye of my mom and using her more advanced sewing machine. I'd like to say that was the end of the story, but it took a few more days before I could finally call it finished. I'm nothing if not persistent, though, so I can finally show you the finished product!

The back:

There she is! And I'm pretty proud of it despite its imperfections.

I must say this was no small challenge for me. It took time to disassemble, remove hundreds of staples, and carefully label and bag each piece of hardware. I took photos along the way to help me with reassembly—something I was glad for when I finally got around to it 6 months later. It was another time investment to refinish (sanding very carefully so as not to damage the thin veneer, then applying the stain and 3 coats of Poly acrylic finish, sanding between every coat). I spent another long day sewing hoping so much to finish it in one day. That night I gave up in frustration, feeling like I would never get it right. (I am, after all, a complete novice in re-upholstery). I spent a little time researching other redos online and discovered I might have been the only person crazy enough to attempt sewing the welting directly to the cushions before attaching them to the wood. Most people stapled their cushion fabric, then glued or stapled the welting separately. Easier, for sure, but my way was the way it was constructed originally. The problem was that the old leather was stretched out and made an imperfect pattern. Easing and gathering the stiff vinyl around the edges was really challenging. The result is very imperfect and there are plenty of puckers, but I think in the long run the construction will be stronger. 

A few days later with fresh and rested eyes I spent one more long afternoon stapling hundreds more staples into the flimsy wood frames (rather exhausting) and then screwing each piece back together. Even that part of the job took longer than expected, but it was so very exciting to watch it come back together!

 

Had this been an original Eames lounge and not a knock-off, I would have been inclined to use real leather. As it was, the only $$ I had into this project were for a few small supplies: buttons, welting, needles, and upholstery thread. The chair was free (my Grandpa's chair, cast off to the back recesses of the storage room in our house), and the vinyl was something my mom and dad had on hand and donated for the cause. 

 

I intended to make my own buttons, but it didn't take long to figure out the stiff vinyl and cheap button frames from the fabric store would have made a lousy combination. At the last minute we took the vinyl to an upholstery shop and had buttons made for us. It cost all of $5. Obviously well worth it! 

After seeing how inexpensive and easy the buttons were, Tom thought I was crazy for not exploring the option of professional upholstery to begin with. Maybe it would have been affordable—inside 2 or 3 hundred bucks perhaps. And the result certainly would have been better. However, despite the number of hours it took me (a lot), I still am glad I attempted it myself. It might not be logical, but it gives me a feeling of accomplishment and leaves me with something to be proud of.

 

You might enjoy seeing a few photos of the process, although, I didn't take any of the sewing and reassembly. My hands were too busy to pick up the camera!

Taking it apart (Each piece was built with an inner and outer bent plywood shell):

The back of the ottoman with the outer shell removed, showing how the cushions were stapled onto the fabric:

The leather removed:

And the cushion foam and inner plywood shell. (I reused all the old foam):

All the pieces lined up:

Checking to see if I had enough vinyl. This was before I removed all the welting. I then laid each piece flat, taped it to the vinyl, and cut around them. Each piece of welting had to be cut to the exact same length, so after they were removed I stretched them out and re-cut new strips.

The pieces laid out in the garage for re-finishing:

Now that it is done, I've heard a few say "This was always my favorite chair" or "I forgot how comfortable this chair was!" (Rumor has it the knock-offs are actually more comfortable than the real ones. This one reclines—the originals only swivel.) As such, I sort of want to move it upstairs to a place we can enjoy it often. For now, it resides downstairs.

The bright white vinyl isn't totally ideal with my living room furniture, however. And it looks pretty hot downstairs with my hounds tooth sofa:

 

So for now we are trekking downstairs for a change of scenery during our evening lounging.

Living room changes

 I have promised you photos of our living room changes, and I admit it feels like a chore to get these all uploaded. I should be cleaning my house today in preparation for my in-laws coming. And then when I downloaded the photos I took I was really disappointed. It was a really bright day, and without any window treatments on the windows, I couldn't control the light. The photos are washed out and too bright. Alas, they will have to do for now. The photos may not do the room justice, but I'm telling you—I absolutely love how it turned out and I love to spend time in there. 

I also should have labeled the photos "before" and "after", but hopefully you don't find it too hard to tell them apart! Ha! :) 

Here we go. This is the view you see when you enter our house and look into the living room. Before:

And after!

You can see a lot of the changes right here. New light fixtures, no more popcorn ceiling, new trim, fresh paint on the walls, and of course, new wood floors.

A little about the wood we chose: It is a pre finished, solid wood (Hickory) and wide plank (about 8"). It has some hand scraping and saw marks, and is finished in a color that is not too dark and not too light. I wanted something that wouldn't show every speck of dust. It was an in-stock deal and we got it for less than a third of retail price. Good thing—we have a ton of square footage.

When you look further into the living room, this is the view you see. This is before we moved in:

Before we moved in my dad had the heat system replaced and all the baseboard registers were removed. It left some unsightly holes in the flooring and wallpaper, but we just lived with that for a long time. Next photo is with our own furniture:

And now, after:

I had removed the wallpaper on the back wall quite a while ago in order to paint and install the wall unit that is there now. So I knew what I was getting myself into when it came to removing the rest. It was nice to have one less wall to do when we tackled it this time!

I still need to get window treatments and am going to opt for a woven solar blind that fits inside the frame for a clean look. I am waiting for a sale.

Above the window, my dad built a new light bar out of oak, and I stained and finished it. We added one more light. I just spray painted the old simple ceramic fixtures and added matching bulbs. My intention was to get a fixture like this:

from Schoolhouse Electric

...or even just the cages, but after buying 5 of them it would be pricey. And I actually think the cheap option looks just fine.

Under the valance/cornice we removed, the old light bar looked like this:

The box was made out of sheetrock and was cracked in several places. The lights weren't spaced evenly. The box was necessary to hide the wiring, because there is a header beam above the window. I love how the new wood bar looks.

On the other side of the room, there used to be a shelf unit that jutted out into the room and hid the passage into the hallway. While I was growing up, my Grandma had a fish tank on this shelf.

We removed the shelf right away, which left an interesting hole in the wallpaper and trim. It is hard to tell in this photo, but the wall was pretty shabby looking. The light fixtures and wallpaper don't really match the 70's era of the house, and they were added later (80's or 90's?) when my Grandma was apparently in the mood for more Victorian decor. It was the era of pastel colors and lace curtains.

Now this view looks like this:

Clearly I need some art on this big blank wall! I'll work on that. I replaced the light fixture in the hall with one I found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $6. At some point we hope to replace all the upstairs doors to match the basement doors (white.)

Light fixtures are always the subject of huge debate for some reason, and the living room was no exception. We were thrilled when we came across these from Restoration Hardware. They were reasonably priced to start and there was a 20% off deal. When all four of us liked it (Tom, myself, and my parents- which almost never happens), we jumped on them. I really like how the brass accents tie into the fireplace. They are made to use with Edison bulbs—and look fantastic with them—but unfortunately don't put out a ton of light. We might try them with different bulbs eventually, or just invest in a few lamps.

Another light on my wish list is a light for my piano. I had planned to look for a floor lamp that arches over, but I don't love them. Then I found this option (also from Restoration Hardware) which would mount to the wall and swing over the piano:

I haven't gotten it yet. Need to save my pennies. Another view of the big blank wall:

I chose to paint the one wall an accent color—Behr Dusty Mountain. It is a dark gray with green undertones and ties into the fireplace really well. The rest of the paint is the same I've used all over the house: Behr Sandstone Cliff (walls) and Behr Powdered Snow (trim and ceiling). I like to use a common theme to tie the entire house together, and then use accent colors that play well with the base colors.

And the sitting area:

I need to get a rug. The cowhide will stay also—its a big room. I need a 9 x 12 and would love a nice thick wool pile. That is going to cost $$$, so while I save for the perfect rug, I plan to shampoo a chunk of the carpet we removed and get it bound. It is hard to put something old back in the new room, but we desperately need a rug to anchor the furniture and keep it from sliding everywhere. A rug will also help with sound absorption, however I haven't felt it has been overly echo-y or anything.

Our living room furniture was new when we bought our house in Utah. It wasn't expensive and definitely isn't my dream sofa, but it has held up well and serves the purpose. Down the road when we are well past all of our renovations, then maybe I'll allow myself to think about saving for a dream sofa.

Looking toward the dining room, this is what it looked like before we moved in:

Before, with our own furniture:

And after:

In this picture you can see better the difference in the brass finish on the fireplace. For awhile there was a lovely line on the ceiling where the popcorn ended (scraped in the dining room and not in the kitchen). I love having it look clean and seamless now! You can also see my dining room curtains. I don't think I've shown those to you yet. I promise better photos when I take kitchen after photos.

You will ask about the sign on the fireplace. It was hanging in our shop, and at the recommendation of a design-savvy friend, I decided to bring it in and clean the bird poop off of it. (I know, gross!) I think my artistic uncle must have made it. It is carved out of plywood and looks a bit kitsch, but I think its great. (We no longer have cattle on the ranch, but my Grandpa ran them for a number of years.) I kind of like the casualness of propping it up on the fireplace, but people are always asking where I'm going to hang it. I suppose it looks unfinished there? I'm not sure I want it as the focal point on the big wall. I was planning a gallery of family photos there. What do you think?

So there it is! Now the balance of our upstairs is swinging to the "mostly done" side, and it really feels like us! I hope you enjoyed the tour.

 

basement bathroom

Continuing in sharing some of basement progress and rooms we are checking off as finally finished...

Next up is our basement bathroom.

Lest you forget how far we've come:

 

The pictures really don't do it justice. But don't you especially love the mirror that is hanging way to the right of the sink? And the laminate counter that just wraps itself right up the wall?

I've shown you various iterations of this bathroom as we've chipped away at the details—most recently the cupboards and the artwork. The last thing to be finished was the tile backsplash. We finally wrapped that job up when we were installing the kitchen tile and already had all the supplies out. We were finally able to hang the mirrors also, since they are mounted right above the tile. It's a miracle we didn't end up with broken mirrors while having them propped on the counter for a year!

The backsplash mimics the trim in the shower. I have had these baskets for quite awhile, but I found these cute chalkboard signs to mark them as "clean" or "dirty".

 

The yellow/green accents were kind of an accident, and not a color I would have been inclined to pick for this room, but I think I like it! (By the way, this room is was really difficult to photograph with no natural light or wide angle lens. I should have spent more time correcting the white balance. I did the best I could, but the photos have a distinct warm cast.)

 

I've mentioned them before, but these funny little vases are from CB2. I just love them, but we did have a casualty a short while ago. I was just happy they were still available so I could replace him (this time with a more secure nail). 

The old shower had a cracked plastic tile surround, brick barriers, and rough concrete floor. The new shower with it's marble bench and dual heads is by far the nicest in the house, so we all use it more than our own upstairs. One more thing we'd like to add to this room eventually—a Euro frameless glass shower door. Right now we have an extra long clear curtain liner (on the inside so it can slip out of sight when not in use). It works smashingly until we are willing to fork out the $700-900 it will cost to put in a glass door (choke). Maybe never?

basement guest room

We've been chipping away at a few projects in the basement, and I am finally getting to the point where I can call some rooms "finished". I thought I would show you some of our progress this week.

One room that received some attention was our guest room:

Remember the before?

 

Ha. :) I know some would say the before had more retro character, but the after makes for a very comfortable guest room. This room was all about using what he had so the design is a bit more traditional than the rest of the house, but I like how it came together.

 

We had closet doors sitting in this room for a long time waiting to be painted, so while we were painting the kitchen we finished them off and finally got them installed. Then I sold a big armoire that was taking up space in the corner, and replaced it with a chair that would be much more useful for our guests. (This chair used to have a home in our kitchen/dining area, but our new layout doesn't allow for a large chair like that.)

I hung a few photos on the wall—a watercolor I painted quite a few years ago and a collage of old family photos. I'd love to add more photos to this collage over time with some small vintage frames, so I plan to watch garage sales and Goodwill for unique ones.

 

The rest of the room was mostly old Master Bedroom furniture—all of it purchased at different times over the past decade or more. So as I said, very pieced together! I'm not into overdoing things, so hopefully this room is just the right amount of complete without feeling sparse. Does it make you want to come visit?

dining room hutch—before and after

Remember this?

I'm referring to our dining room hutch. People seemed to either love it or hate it. It does have some midcentury clean lines and it stores a TON. My great grandfather had made it as a wedding gift for my grandparents, so it had sentimental value also. But it wasn't perfect. The doors are a bit crooked and the finish was worn. The finish was very orange. The wood is inexpensive plywood. 

Here it is before we moved in:

Just adding my own furniture and decor already made it look WAY more modern. But when we finished the kitchen remodel, it didn't seem fit to go back in the dining room without some TLC. So I set to work.

Now it looks like this:

Can you see the difference? I know it isn't a major change. I wanted to improve it while still keeping its character.

First I stripped, sanded, and refinished it. I took a lot of elbow grease because this thing is HUGE. 8 feet long, to be exact!

I first tried a medium walnut stain—I didn't want it to be too dark—but didn't notice any difference. Then I tried dark walnut, and still I didn't see a significant change. This type of wood didn't seem to want to soak up the stain very well. Finally, I tried to apply an ebony stain over the dark walnut, and the grain really picked up the darker color. I liked the look of the enhanced grain and thought it was worth the double application.

 

I also replaced the hardware. The old wood handles were glued on and left a mark even after sanding and refinishing, so I chose a handle that would cover this up.

The upper cabinet got the same treatment. Next, I repainted the inside of the shelves white to match my trim color, and then painted the backs of the shelves with black chalkboard paint to make my white dishes stand out.

I have one more thing I want to do. I would like to remove the kick base on the lower cabinet and add legs to make it look more like a piece of furniture and less like a cabinet. Because the cabinet is so large and heavy, my dad wants to custom build metal feet that would be stronger than traditional legs. I'll keep you posted on that, but since it might be awhile, I couldn't wait to show you how it turned out!

landscaping project update

I started to type "landscaping project finished" into the heading and then decided that wasn't quite accurate. We are far from finished. But we did complete our landscaping goals for this year. As you know, we tackled the lower yard this summer and spent a LOT of time raking gravel—four truck loads to be exact. (My uncle helped with this job one day and said it should be prison work. Yeah, he's probably right. But it was also really good for the muscles in my upper body. Does anyone want to arm wrestle?)

It is hard to give an accurate "after" picture of this project. I took these photos before snow started falling last week, but winter had already shriveled all the plants I planted. You will have to use your imagination to see what will hopefully eventually look like intentional, natural landscaping. Right now it just looks like a sea of gray, boring gravel.

You will just have to imagine the lilac hedge full and and blooming, the juniper plants crawling over the gravel, and the salvia, seedums, and sage filling in with color. The rock staircase will be covered in beautiful ground covers (if the bunnies will leave them alone.)

The grass will be lush and green. Well, green at least. At some point we will probably plant a new variety of grass that can grow into a fuller, richer lawn. And I will enjoy not having to mow the steep hillsides.

The cement planters will fill in with hundreds of daffodils, tulips, and alliums. Roses and grasses will add texture and color year round, and I will eventually add more perennials to this area as I see how things grow and develop. I'll cover the soil with mulch in the spring as well.

Next spring I also hope to transplant some native yucca plants and add a few more perinnials to punctuate the gravel area without requiring a lot of water. 

For now we will rejoice in the satisfaction of a finished project and a much more manicured look as we pull in our driveway.