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Updates and decorating (finally!) in the family room + kitchen

Our house is not done. We have so much more to do with it, so many ideas and plans and sometimes it can feel a little frustrating to have the vision, but have to wait to bring it all to reality.

I do my very best to look around and see all the things we have done, to remember where we were just 10 months earlier, to be grateful for this big, wonderful house with its big, beautiful yard. But, ugh, sometimes I can feel a little impatient and a touch envious of all the pretty, finished homes out there (like my sister’s, my friend’s, anything by Studio McGee).

Our kitchen and family room are two rooms that we can’t wait to update. They are the heart of our home, the spaces we spend the most time in and hang out when our extended family and friends are over. We have great ideas for how to transform these rooms … we’re just not exactly sure when we will execute.

So we’ve been doing the small projects that feel like progress – painting the walls and trim, replacing the bulky kitchen cabinets with open shelves, wallpapering the guest bathroom, changing out light fixtures. All of these minor changes have done a lot to update the rooms.

What hasn’t really happened is decorating.

We’ve been in the house for nearly a year and I have hung approximately three pictures on the wall (and they’re all up on the third floor where I hardly ever visit).

A few days ago, I wrangled my friend into helping me move some furniture around in the family room just to try to make it look better in the meantime. I didn’t want to buy anything new because ultimately we’ll add built-ins and move the tv and figure out the rug situation once hardwood floors are in. But I just felt so bummed out looking at a bare room with zero decoration. It was time to make some changes, make it feel a little more lived-in and inviting and add some personality.

We shopped the house, moved things around, stole lamps and even hang a few pictures.

It’s not the finished, perfect, ideal space we hope to get to at some point, but it’s so much better. And, actually, it feels so much more homey to us all.

This old wood church pew is my favorite borrowed piece from Ryan’s mom. It hasn’t had an official home in this new house until we tried it (and love it!) pulled up to the kitchen table.

(Let’s not talk about the wrinkles in the rug. I hosed it off to clean it, laid it over our outdoor furniture to dry and it hasn’t been the same since).

chairs | leather pillow | pendant light

bar cart | lamp

(art print from the September Paper Works collection)

sectional | ottomans | floor lamp | x-pillow | pom pillow | leather pillow  | stripe basket

chair | pillow

bookshelf | basket (on shelf)

Moral of the story: do what you can do today, with what you have to make your home feel happier to you :)

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From 90’s to Now: Guest Bathroom Makeover Before + After

Before and afters are the very best, aren’t they?!

Our little guest bathroom has undergone a great transformation that I can’t wait to show you.

Here’s a sneak peek of the after (because I just can’t handle leading the post with one of the before pictures!).

Isn’t it pretty?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Our house was built in the early 90’s and we think underwent a few updates throughout the years – tile floors in the kitchen and mud room, a full master bathroom remodel in the early 2000’s, possibly a few light fixtures over the years and we’re guessing the bead board and vanity in the small main floor guest bathroom we not original when the house was built. Even with those updates over the last 25 years, most of the house still feels a bit dated. We’ve spent the past year slowly making changes to bring a more modern, current feel to our home. The little bathroom was next on the list.

This little windowless bathroom sits right off the kitchen and is the only bathroom on the main floor.

Here’s a random photo to help you get a feel for where it is located (that doorway on the left):

The location of the bathroom is not our very favorite as it lacks privacy and feels sort of weird having it open right into the kitchen. One of the first things we did when we moved in was add an automatic closing hinge to the door so that while sitting at the kitchen table, you don’t have to peer right into the bathroom (then we added a magnetic door stop so that you can make the door stay open if needed). Eventually, we’d like to move the door around the corner in the entry hallway to offer a bit more privacy and close off the bathroom from the kitchen.

Here’s another shot to show you how the bathroom fits in the floor plan. To the right is the front door and entry hall, to the left is the family room and behind us is the kitchen table and kitchen.

So, when we first saw the house, this is what the bathroom looked like:

And when we moved in, it looked like this:

The first order of business was painting over those red walls.

Red was a very popular color – especially for dining rooms – in the late 90’s, early 2000’s, but it is perhaps my least tolerable color and felt particularly painful to my neutral-loving-eyes in this tiny bathroom. One afternoon after the boys’ football game, I pulled out a leftover can of paint from our old house and painted right over that red.

After painting the walls white and the door and trim charcoal, we replaced the chunky black framed mirror with a thin round brass mirror and installed modern brass towel and toilet paper holders (no longer available, but this and this are very similar).

Those little updates did a lot to just neutralize the space and make it a little more updated.

The thing about this little bathroom, though, is that it is right in the middle of the house where we see it and use it often and yet it had no unique style. It was also feeling super dark and heavy with that black vanity.

So this summer, I’ve been making a few additional easy changes to inject a bit of style and special-ness to the otherwise blah bathroom.

The first step was painting that vanity. I ordered a sample pot of paint during a Sherwin Williams paint sale in one of my favorite gray-blues called Rushing River (it’s the same color as Audrey’s bed, seen here). I think the sample was $4.50-ish. I lightly sanded the vanity and then just brushed on three coats of satin paint and let it dry for a few days before adding knobs I had leftover from our old house.

Lightening up the vanity did a lot to tone down the size and starkness of the previously black vanity.

Next, I installed a striking (and slightly dizzying!) removable wallpaper called Vintage Poppy in a deep navy color. In case you missed it, here is the post all about the installation process.

With the brass mirror back up on the wall and a few accessories added for color and detail, here is that little bathroom all updated for today.

The best part is that now when the door is left open, the bathroom is actually charming to look at!

These little changes have made a big impact in turning our 90’s bathroom into a modern and updated space.

SOURCES

mirror | wallpaper | vanity paint | towel bar (similar) | hand towel | striped tray | white vase (similar) | brass vase (vintage)

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How to Hang Removable Wallpaper (with a couple of issues resolved)

The one main floor bathroom in our house was in need of a makeover. It’s just a little box of a room with no windows and is visible off the kitchen.

When we moved in, the walls were painted very bright red, which made my neutral-loving-eyes ache. I painted the top part of the walls white a few days after we moved in last fall (see that here) and the bathroom has sat untouched since then.

This summer, it was time to continue with the makeover. I’ll share the full reveal with before and after shots later this week, but for now here’s a sneak peek:

Today, I wanted to talk about that amazing wallpaper.

It’s removable! I installed it myself! In just a few hours!

I knew wallpapering this little window-less room would be a bold statement but it felt like a good way to add interest and something special to an otherwise uninteresting, yet regularly used room. For the past nine-ish months, I’ve been looking at patterns and ordering samples (here’s one I liked) until I finally ordered a sample of this Vintage Poppy print I first spotted on Spoonflower.

As with every other space in our home, this makeover is a Phase One makeover. Are you getting sick of me saying this?! Eventually we’d like to move the door (so it’s not right off the kitchen), change out the vanity for something smaller and replace the beadboard with tile. But until then, I was ready to make the room a little more in line with our style.

Wallpapering with removable wallpaper was a great option – it is less expensive than regular, I didn’t have to hire a professional installer and, if we so choose, we could reuse the wallpaper elsewhere.

Once I decided that this was the wallpaper we wanted to use, I decided to contact the designer to see if she wanted to trade her wallpaper for a blog post. As it turns out, the wallpaper designer not only sells her designs on Spoonflower, but she actually has her own wallpaper shop, Art of Wallpaper.

Amy was happy to with me (yay!) and shared that her peel and stick wallpaper is printed on a much better grade paper. She sent me a sample from her shop and it was indeed a better quality. It is thick and has a canvas-y texture, so it more resembles a nice wallpaper.

I was wanting her Vintage Poppy pattern in deep navy color and she was kind to work with me on getting the color just right. Once I approved the sample, she printed up my order and sent it my way.

The paper comes in 24″ strips in whatever length needed. For our bathroom, it took 10 4′ strips.

I have installed removable wallpaper once before and loved the results (here is that post) so I was excited to try this easy wallpapering again.

The process is quite simple:

1 | PREPARE WALLS

It is recommended to wipe walls with 70% alcohol, but since our walls were painted not too long ago, I just wiped down with a microfiber cloth to remove any dust or dirt. It is suggested to you let paint cure for 30 days before installing wallpaper over to reduce the risk of paint peeling when removed.

2 | GO FROM LEFT TO RIGHT

This is where I messed up last time. I didn’t realize that the pattern is repeatable from left to right and I had a tough time getting my pattern to match up in the last house. This time, I paid attention to the instructions and installed correctly :)

To install, simply peel the backing paper from the top and line up along the top of the wall. The first sheet is obviously the easiest, but also most important. Make sure it is straight! I pulled out a level to make sure it was going on straight. If your walls are not square (very likely), adjust the paper to keep it level.

3 | MOVE DOWN THE WALL

Once the paper is lined up on the top of the wall, continue to pull the backing paper down and press lightly with you hand to hold the paper in place.

4 | PRESS TO SMOOTH AND ADHERE

Use a flat squeegee (or in my case, a pastry cutter?) to smooth out and firmly adhere the wallpaper. It is removable, which makes it super easy to lift and adjust if needed.

5 | LINE UP THE PATTERN

The second piece overlaps the first by about 1/2 inch, so lining up is fairly easy. It just takes a little bit of adjusting and readjusting to get it just right.

Then just keep going!

6 | TRIM AROUND OUTLETS

Use a utility or exacto knife to trim the paper around the outlets. Just don’t cut too far outside to make sure the outlet plates cover up the seams.

7 | TRIM THE EDGES

Once all the paper is up, go around the top and bottom edge with a utility knife to trim the ends. I just did it by eye, but you could also use a metal straightedge to help guide.

For the most part, installing was easy and straightforward, but I did run into a couple of problems that might be helpful to share to help you avoid them:

PROBLEM: WHEN CORNERS ARE NOT SQUARE

This piece wrapped around the corner and it turns out, the corner was not perfectly square. As you can see, the paper would not smooth flat. I tried and tried to adjust to get the paper to smooth out, but couldn’t get it to work. Ryan had the brilliant idea to use my utility knife in the corner to carefully slice the paper from the point it would not lay flat corner and then overlap the paper. Because the pattern is so busy, you really can’t see the overlap. Problem solved!

PROBLEM: WHEN THE PAPER STICKS TO ITSELF

UGH! I had this strip – my very last one! – up on the wall, but just didn’t love how the pattern lined up. I pulled it off thinking I could just reapply and somehow the paper folded itself together and stuck. I panicked for a second because I really didn’t want to waste an entire piece AND I was almost done! I brought the piece over to the kitchen table and although I was worried I would stretch out the paper and wreck it, I firmly pulled the paper away from itself. Slowly, but surely, it worked. Thankfully, the paper went back up on the wall and there is no evidence of it’s trauma. I completely attribute this to the quality of this paper.

After just an hour or two, the wallpaper was up!

It’s crazy and striking and just what I was hoping for.

I can’t wait to show you how great the before and after shots are!

If you’d like to try out removable wallpaper, I completely recommend it. For rentals, temporary spots or for long-term, the peel and stick variety makes wallpapering accessible.

Amy from Art of Wallpaper is offering us 15% off with code JONES15 through August.

She offers peel and stick and traditional wallpaper in hundreds of styles. Here are a few of my faves:

Have you tried removable wallpaper? Any other questions? I’m happy to answer!

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The Chickens + their backyard coop

You may remember that we dove headfirst into the country life and bought baby chicks this spring. Well, I’m happy to report that those sweet little fluffy chicks have grown into full-size, egg-laying hens.

This is our first go at raising chickens and while we don’t know all there is to know, perhaps you’d like to hear a bit more about how things are going and you’d like to see their coop?

Oh, good. Because that’s what this post is all about :)

For the first 6ish weeks, the chicks lived in our garage under a heat lamp in a big galvanized bin (which is now used as the kids’ lego bin on the third floor). Our plan was to design and build a chicken coop, but while walking through Costco, we spotted a pre-made coop and decided to go the easy route and brought it home. Here’s what it looks like in the product image:

It is a perfectly fine coop, but needed a few alterations to work for our chickens. We painted it white, reinforced the base and sides (it’s not the sturdiest right out of the box) and added an extension of the bottom ‘run’ to accommodate our six chickens. With those simple changes, it works great and was a much easier project than if we built from scratch.

You know what the hardest part of putting it together was?

The foundation.

It’s a good idea to have fencing material around the sides and top to keep predators out, but the underside is equally important. We don’t want rodents, coyotes or raccoons digging under the coop, so Ryan set us up with a Fort Knox worthy barrier.

We started by clearing a spot in our backyard for the chickens to live. Our yard is wooded around the perimeter and so it took a bit of work to clear out a few trees, underbrush and one million roots.

Once we had our spot cleared, we measured out the finished size of the coop and dug a perimeter about 12 inches down to fill with cinderblocks. This will prevent anything from digging down and getting up under the coop.

After the cinderblocks were in and level, we added metal grating and large cement pavers to create a foundation.
And then the coop was set on top.

Ryan added a back section for added space and put in a lift-up top so we can change the food and water and access the lower pen.

I love the idea of growing flowers or vegetables in the top garden box (like shown in the product image), but that didn’t happen this spring. We also plan to put in some shrubs and ground cover around the chicken coop to add back some green. That should help with how sparse it looks now!

The chickens are pretty easy. I like to let them out in the morning to wander around the yard, pecking at the grass, eating bugs and seeds and whatever they can find, and then around dusk they find their way back up into their sleeping quarters.

Usually we go out after they are in their coop to close and lock the door, but one night a few weeks ago we did not. They were fine all night long until they wandered out early in the morning and a coyote ran off with one of the chickens. Poor Nugget made a nice breakfast for that mean coyote. Surprisingly, the kids did okay with the loss of Nugget and it reminded us to make sure we go out each night to close up the coop.

So far, we have two chickens who are laying every day. We’re pretty sure the two black and white spotted ones are the layers, based on the fact that they have the most developed top red floppy things on their heads (apparently, that is an indication that they are developed enough to lay eggs).

Our chickens LOVE when we feed them scraps of food – especially fruit. It’s ridiculously entertaining to watch them devour a watermelon or leftovers from dinner and squawk at each other when one gets in the way.

Lately, they’ve been hanging out by the back door waiting for us …

We’re still learning about raising backyard chickens, but so far things have gone fairly well. Our friends just gifted us this darling book to help us learn more about chickens and gardening:

If you’re looking for a resource on homesteading, you’ll adore this book (and the blog!). I can’t wait to dig in and learn more about how we can use our property to grow more of our family’s food.

I sound like such a country girl. And maybe I am :)

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How to keep your home protected while you’re away

This post is sponsored by Blink Home Video Security. 

When we set off on our four month road trip adventure, our original plan was to have a friend stay in our house while we were gone. Plans changed and as it turned out, our house was left vacant for all but one week (when out-of-town friends used our house). Our old house was in a safe neighborhood, surrounded by lots of neighbors who offered to keep an eye on the house, but still, we wanted to take precautions.

We packed everything valuable into a safe. We hid away all electronics. We closed all the windows, locked all the doors and put lights on a timer.

And Ryan installed simple, affordable and very effective security cameras.

He originally discovered Blink cameras on a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 and was instantly sold. He put up five of them in the house before we left for the trip and we were able to monitor any movement from his phone no matter where we were in the country. Crazy, right?!

Once, while somewhere far from home like Texas or Oklahoma, Ryan’s phone alerted him that there was movement in the house. He checked the app and watched video of our good friend, Johan, looking around in the garage to borrow our pressure washer. Ryan called him and totally creeped him out when he told him we were watching him on video :)

Thankfully, that was the only time the cameras were motion-activated and all was safe with our house while we were gone. It was really reassuring to know that even though we were miles from home, we could still check in to make sure everything was safe and sound.

We liked the security cameras so much that we’re using them in this new house as well.

Whether it’s during the night, while we’re out for the day, or on a week vacation, it is nice to be aware of what’s happening when we’re not around.

(Ryan is even thinking about putting a camera out by the chicken coop to watch for predators at night!)

So here’s how they work:

You get a camera and receiver for $99 or a set of two cameras + receiver for $169 – check them out here. The cameras come with very straightforward instructions to make set up very easy. You download the Blink app, follow the walk-through, place the cameras where you want them and adjust the settings to fit your needs.

The cameras work on batteries that last two years (no ugly cords!), and the receiver just needs to be plugged into an outlet and connected to wifi.

Once the cameras are set up, you can place them anywhere in the house that you’d like to monitor (typically near entry points of the house).

So far, we have one set up in the entry facing the front door:

See it right there on the tray? It’s nearly missable.

And the second camera is in the kitchen facing the back door:

The camera comes with a low-profile mounting bracket, so you can mount the camera to the wall if that works better for your home.

You monitor everything from the Blink app on your phone. Each camera can be individually armed or disarmed to record whenever movement is detected. If this happens, a notification will be sent to your phone so you can see what is happening. Alternately, you can also open up the app and refresh the camera to see your home in realtime.

I grabbed a quick video so you can see what the quality looks like:

These security cameras are pretty brilliant. They are so simple to set up, easy to monitor from your phone and offer peace of mind while you’re away from the house.

The best part: you don’t have to pay a monthly fee and all you need is wifi (and NO CORDS!).

I don’t do many sponsored posts, but when Blink asked if I would share about their product, it made total sense. We actually use these cameras! And love them! And you know I like to share things that are helpful to our family as they may be just what you are looking for for your home.

If you’re away from your house during the day, want to keep an eye on things at night or you’re headed off on a vacation and would like some extra security measures for keeping your home safe, we could not recommend Blink Security Cameras enough.

The people at Blink are generously offering a set of indoor cameras + receiver to one lucky JDC reader.

To enter the giveaway, simply sign up for Blink’s newsletter here.

Giveaway ends Monday, August 7th.

*UPDATE: the giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Laura D.!*

If you’re interested in purchasing indoor or outdoor security cameras for your home, CLICK HERE to learn more.

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