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An Ikea Hack worth repeating | the studio desks

The studio is becoming such a pretty, inviting, inspiring place to work and create.

When we moved in to the house, this space was just a big unfinished area above the garage. We finished it out with a little bit of framing, cleaned up the drywall, added can lights, installed super inexpensive floors, painted with Sherwin Williams Shoji White and trimmed out the windows and baseboard (see the before + after post here).

Once the shell of the room was complete, it was time to figure out how to make it most usable. I pinned a bunch of inspiration images to my office Pinterest board and Ryan (who is much better at space planning than I am) came up with a layout.

In order to visualize a space all pulled together, I like to create a design board (here is the design board for the studio). It helps me make decisions without having to actually purchase items. We knew we wanted a long work surface along the back wall and it was just a matter of coming up with a practical, affordable, nice-looking way to make it happen.

After lots and lots of research on desk options, I finally settled on a diy version – or as they say, an IKEA hack.

The idea was largely inspired by this photo of an ikea dresser that had been dressed up with paint and brass hardware. It was just the look I was wanting in the studio and while not the perfect dimensions, it felt worth a try.

I bought and put together three of the Hemnes dressers, leaving the tops off.

The height of the dressers is 37 3/4″ which is much too high for a desk, so Ryan cut off the legs.

To top the dressers, I used two 98″ pieces of countertop from IKEA. This particular counter is not solid wood – just a top layer – but it can still be oiled and sanded as needed. It came in these long lengths that fit along the back wall perfectly and allowed for enough room between dressers to pull up a chair comfortably.

The main problem we ran into is that the finished height is taller than the average desk. The finished size with the legs off and top on is 33 5/8″ while a standard desk sits at between 28″-30″ tall. I don’t mind a taller than average desk at all as I am on the taller size (5’7″), but from experience, I know that sitting in too-low of a chair makes for crampy shoulders and neck.

We ordered the most beautiful leather adjustable chairs that raise to 22″ thinking they would be just the right height … but alas, they are just a few inches too short. I talked about that debacle on this post. They are almost usable as is, but I start to get a shoulder cramp after sitting at my computer all day since I’m scrunching up my shoulders to type.

We talked about switching up the desks to lower the height of the top, but ultimately stuck with the original vision and will be altering the chairs instead. We have a plan for that, but haven’t done them yet. I’ll share details once we’re done. For now, I’m just dealing with the chair height and enjoying how pretty the office looks.

Instead of using the small black knobs that came with the dressers, I switched them out for these super inexpensive brass-lookalike pulls. They really give the dressers that classic modern look I was going for.

As for the downsides of this IKEA hack desk, I can only think of two so far.

The first issue: there is space between the back of the dresser and the wall.

The countertop depth is 25 5/8″ and dresser is 19 5/8″. We just cheated the dressers forward which left that gap back there.

It honestly doesn’t bother me at all … but it is just something to consider.

Second issue: the desk doesn’t run all the way to the edge of the wall.

Ideally, we would have a built-in desk that ran the full width of the wall. Since the countertops only come in two lengths and we went with the longest, this is as far as the desks can span. Sure, we could have gone with a different countertop, but I was going for ease and a pre-made countertop was just what we needed.

I just put my baskets of wrapping paper in the empty space and it works great.

Before the spring tour (did you catch that post? If not, here it is!) I unloaded boxes and boxes of officy/crafty things and organized the drawers. It is so nice to have so much storage. I’ll show you inside the drawers soon.

Overall, this has been a very worthwhile IKEA hack. The total for the three dressers, two countertops and 9 pulls was $835 which is well under what it would have cost to have a custom wall-to-wall desk built.

Having that long workspace and lots of storage is so practical and looks great in the room as well. A win all around!

Do you have any other questions about the desks? I’m happy to answer in the comments …

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The one thing you can do today to perk up your home

If you open up a magazine and look at any well-styled home, you’ll notice a designer’s best secret: plants.

Since I’m a pretty good student and I do weird things like study the rooms I like, I’ve caught on to this fresh greenery idea and have fully embraced it.

I joke that the older I get the more I’m becoming a crazy plant lady. I literally get so excited when a new leaf sprouts and spend at least once per week tending to my growing collection (feeding, clipping, watering, etc.).

I wonder if because I’m not longer growing babies and doing my best to keep my toddlers flourishing that now I can focus a teeny bit of attention on other growing things. It’s quite possible.

Regardless, I so enjoy entering this phase of life where plants and flowers bring me such joy.

When I talk about plants, please know a couple of things:

  1. I’m no expert. I honestly have very little idea of what I’m doing. I google and ask around and take advice from people who know much more than I do.
  2. I’m convinced that anyone can keep a plant alive if given the right set of circumstances – decent soil, natural light, regular watering, occasional feeding.
  3. Check often at your local hardware store or nursery for anything that catches your eye. I often don’t know the name of what I buy – I just go off of the color, texture and size.

Perhaps you noticed all the green in the spring studio tour? I went slightly overboard and I absolutely adore it.

I thought it might be helpful to talk through what plants I have in the studio and ways you can add fresh greenery to perk up your home, too.

Here’s a look at what I have in the studio that fall into four categories: potted plants, trees (not shown, but just to the right lives the fiddle leaf fig), clippings and cut flowers.

Let’s talk about each category.

Potted plants

Potted plants are readily available at your local hardware or nursery and a good-sized plant can be purchased for less than $20. You’ll want to look at the indoor plants (sometimes called Tropical) and check the tags for any details on specific light/temperature/humidity requirements.

My go-to for potted plants are ferns. They are easy to find, inexpensive and have the best texture.

Boston Fern

Maidenhair Fern

Leatherleaf Fern

But don’t just stop at ferns. There are so many other cool options.

This gorgeous dripping potted plant steals the show in the studio.

I have no idea what it is (the tag just says 8″ assorted hanging – I know, really helpful). It was in the hanging plant section at Home Depot for around $14. I just snapped off the plastic hanger and set it up high on the shelf to cascade down. This one wouldn’t work great on a flat surface as the plant does trail, but it sure looks great up on a shelf.

Once I bring home a new plant, I typically pop them in a different container. If the container doesn’t have drain holes, just put the plastic pot it comes in into the container and pull it out when you water. Try using a basket, old silver sugar bowl, a thrifted soup tureen, cement planter – anything that catches your eye that is large enough to hold a plant works great!

Trees

The second category of fresh greenery you can add to your home for an instant refresh are trees. Obviously, trees are more expensive and have slightly different requirements from small potted plants.

In the studio, I put this rescued Fiddle Leaf Fig tree near the window to see if I could nurse him back to health. I bought it from Home Depot a few months ago for a discount because of its poor health and figured it was worth a shot. So far, it seems to be doing really well in this spot.

Fiddle Leaf Fig trees are everywhere in magazines and online – and for good reason. They add the perfect organic shape and color to any space. I wrote a post this fall with more inspiration photos and details for how to care for these mildly finicky trees (read it here).

Check with your local nursery for indoor trees. Most have a tropical look, but you can also find citrus, olive and ficus. I bought a gorgeous little orange tree last month and it is doing okay inside. A citrus tree is probably not quite right for my climate, so just be sure to do a little bit of research before investing and bringing home a tree.

Clippings

Free greenery?! Yes, please.

With spring finally here, the trees and shrubs are sprouting and flowering and perfect for bringing indoors. Just grab a pair of sharp clippers (I like these) and cut a branch or two.

Myquillyn had a great tip in her spring tour: she says to cut the branches two times longer than you think. That way, you’ll get that organic, tall, quirky look.

Our trees are still bare in the Pacific Northwest, but we do have a big camellia bush in our front yard with these pretty, waxy green leaves that I cut and popped in the sweetest little bud vase in the studio. Free and easy!

Cut Flowers

One last way to perk up your home is to add fresh flowers. I mean, who doesn’t just love flowers?!

I like to stay away from mixed bouquets and instead choose one type of flower per vase. Right now, tulips are in season and they are super easy to arrange. Just cut the stems at an angle, pop into a wide-mouth container and let them bend as they will.

Another favorite way to arrange flowers is to cut short and pack tightly (tutorial here).

Carnations – which are very inexpensive – can look so elegant when arranged this way. And bonus! they last much longer than other cut flowers.


So, if you’re looking for a way to bring life to your home this spring (and forever, actually), may I suggest adding fresh greenery. You’ll love how it awakens a space.

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Cozy Spring Home Tour | the new studio all prettied up

Today I’m joining a group of talented bloggers on a Cozy Spring Home Tour hosted by Rachel from Shades of Blue Interiors + Country Living Magazine and sponsored by HomeGoods. Country Living wrote a great roundup article with 22 ways to decorate for spring pulling from each space (read that here) and be sure to scroll all the way down for links to all of the other pretty rooms decorated for Spring!


shelves | dress art | pink vase | letter sorter | ribbon | linen files | stapler + tape | chair | lamp

I signed up to join this Spring tour of homes before I had any idea if I would have a room in our new house that was mildly ready for photos.

The house is in a constant state of disarray as we make improvements and updates which is super fun and exciting for us, but it makes it tricky to style and photograph a put-together room. In fact, as we speak, the entire upstairs is undergoing a makeover with new paint, trim and carpet going in which means everything had to be moved out and therefore is now piled into the living and dining rooms. So basically, the house is a mess.

Thankfully, we have this great space – outside of the house – that sits above the garage and has slowly but surely been coming together.

I lovingly refer to it as The Studio.

This tour was just the motivation I needed to finally unpack boxes, finish a few diy projects and pretty things up to make it ready for spring. I am so, so happy with how this space looks and feels!

desk | desktop | pulls | chair | sheepskin | lamp | shelves | box | vase | basket | glass ball

In case you missed any of the previous posts about this space, here is the before and after and this was the initial design plan.

Initially, the idea was for me and Ryan to use the studio as our joint work space. Since we work from home and work together, it made sense to share an office. But then, somehow, Ryan claimed the small office in the house and gave the whole studio to me.

It feels like an absolute dream to have this room to work, play, create, relax, workout and gather in.

Staying true to my decorating style, the main pieces in the studio are all very neutral: white, natural wood tones, warm leather, a touch of black, linen, mixed metals and woven baskets.

We semi-built-in a desk to ground the space and give lots of storage and surface area to work and create (full details coming soon).

Just last week I installed the floating shelves and could not wait to style them with a mix of functional items (the file boxes and letter sorter) and decorative (art, ribbon, vases + plants).

pillow | chair

My favorite part about starting with a mainly neutral palette is that decorating for each season becomes very easy.

By simply adding in a few inexpensive accessories like pillows, vases, art prints and throws, you get a seasonal look without having to change, spend (or store!) much.

To add a touch of spring to the studio, I surprised myself and decided to add little bits of pink around the room.

Pink has never been my go-to color, but I’m very much loving how it adds a feminine touch to all of the slightly masculine lines and finishes.

SIMPLE TIP: The key to adding in a ‘pop’ of color is to mix the tones for a natural, layered look.

In this case, there are bright, light, peachy and dusty pinks all mixed together rather than one consistent shade of pink.

Farm Anatomy | Nature Anatomy | basket | glass ball

This room is so charming with two big dormers that let in lots of natural light.

In one dormer lives my rescued fiddle leaf fig tree. It was near death at the hardware store and they sold it to me for a discount because of its sad state. My mission is to nurse this guy back to health and so far, so good.

I just love this view:

light | basket

The second dormer is a reading area with a cozy chair and new side table I found last week at HomeGoods. I’ve been on the hunt for something petite but sturdy and this hairpin/marble combo is perfect.

chair | table | rug | pillow |throw

And, of course, a room of mine would not be complete without lots and lots of greenery. I love the freshness it brings, the texture and color. All of the plants seen in this space are from my local hardware store – nothing fancy or precious and as long as I remember to keep them watered, they should last a long time.

We still have a few more projects to complete in the studio and much more to share. Soon I’ll give all the details on the desks, how the drawers are organized, a new work table for the center of the room, a diy dog bed for my constant companion, Atlas, and a final finished tour of the space.

Until then, I hope you enjoyed a peek at the space styled for spring!


There are so many gorgeous homes to visit on the tour … grab a cup of coffee and have fun clicking through for loads and loads of spring decorating tips and inspiration.

Shades of Blue InteriorsThe Nesting Place

Home Stories A to ZThe Golden SycamoreThe Lettered CottageTIDBITS

Craftberry BushJones Design CompanyRooms FOR RentJulie Blanner

Zevy JoyAKA DesignSo Much Better With AgeFinding Silver Pennies

The Chronicles of HomeUnskinny BoppyCherished BlissTown & Country Living

Clean & ScentsibleMaison de PaxElla ClaireMaking Home Base

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How to get the brass-look drawer hardware for (much) less

The drawers in the studio finally have hardware.

It took forever to put them on and here’s why: I’m terrible at it. Seriously, terrible. I put the cabinet/drawer hardware on in the kitchen and pretty much every one is crooked. How is that possible when you have a template and measure over and over again before drilling? I can not say. I’d like to blame the drill.

Regardless, I decided I was not willing to install the hardware on the drawers in the studio because they really needed to be straight and my track record wasn’t promising. With 12 million other projects in the house, the drawer pulls kept getting pushed off until my darling husband finally gave in to my constant request and worked his magic.

NOTE: installing hardware should not be this difficult. Simply find the center of the drawer, mark where the screws will go, drill a small pilot hole and then increase the drill bit to the correct size of the screw.

Now that the pulls are installed, let me start at the beginning and show you how they came to be.

My inspiration for the studio desks was this picture of the same dresser from ikea with brass bar pulls. I instantly fell in love with the look and wanted to recreate it in the studio.

After searching every resource possible online, I found that long brass pulls are crazy expensive. I adore these from Schoolhouse Electric, but there were two problems. 1. I was hoping for something longer than they offer (ideally 15-18″) and 2. $74 per pull was not in the budget. My sister has the same pulls in her gorgeous kitchen and while they are expensive, they are beautifully made, very heavy and true statement pieces. I just couldn’t justify it for this space.

Since I kept coming up short, I decided to improvise with a cabinet pull diy.

I found a 10-pack of 15″ bar pulls for $49.49. The size was good, shape was minimal, but color was wrong (they only came in satin nickel).

I figured it was worth a try to change the color with my go-to gold spray paint.

I rigged up a way to spray them to get even coverage by poking a hole through a cardboard lid and screwing in the pulls as you would on a drawer front. This little system worked great!

It only took a couple of light coats and the pulls were looking more in line with my vision.

The gold spray paint (Rustoleum Universal metallic in Pure Gold) has a pretty champagne-y gold finish and they would have been fine, but I was hoping for something just a bit more patina-ed and worn. Something that would more closely mimic the look of aged brass.

Out came the Gold Leaf Rub ‘n Buff.

This stuff is basically shoe polish for metal.

You take a glob and rub it onto the surface in a circular motion with a rag. It doesn’t take much until you have a richer golden/brassy color.

See the difference? On the left is the paint alone and the right has the polish on it.

How about a little side-by-side comparison:

For just $5 per pull + spray paint, polish and a little bit of time, I am really happy with the results.

If these were going to be used in a daily, high-use area – like a kitchen, for example – I might be a bit more cautious about choosing a spray painted pull. I can imagine that the paint will scratch over time and they may not look as good. For this space, though, they work great. And they look so nice on the dressers-turned-desks.

As you can see, there was one additional problem: the new pulls don’t line up with the pre-drilled holes.

So for the next diy, I patched the little holes for an (almost) seamless look.

We had a container of this patching paste in the garage, so I pulled it out and got to work.

I just dabbed a bit on my finger, sm0oshed it into the hole and wiped the excess away.

The holes were not quite covered after one coat, so I went over it again with a second and this time used a ruler to scrape it flat against the surface. A putty knife would probably be the tool of choice, but a ruler was right there and I didn’t feel like searching out the right tool, so I just went with it. #thestoryofmydiylife

Usually when you use this patching paste, you lightly sand off the excess and then paint to cover. In my case, I didn’t really want to sand the drawer fronts for fear that it would take off the pre-finished white paint. While my original plan was to paint the dressers a deep green, I’m really happy with the white for now and want to live with them this way for a while.

It dawned on me that since the paste washed off my fingers with soap and water, perhaps it would wipe off of the drawers as well (just the little bits of excess around the patched hole).

So with a bowl of warm, soapy water, a scrubby sponge (my fave from here) and a paper towel, I gave it a try.

A little bit of scrubbing and the patching paste came right up, just as I hoped.

If you look closely, you can still barely see the holes, but not enough to really notice.

Overall, I feel quite happy with the hardware choice and achieving the brass look for much, much less.

SOURCES

dressers | wood countertop | pulls | lamps | chairs | sheepskin | floating shelves | floors

wall + trim color: Shoji White by Sherwin Williams

For more about this space:

The Finished Studio

The Classic + Modern Design Plan for the Studio

A Hiccup in the Plan

Semi-Diy Table Lamps

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The six things I bought at IKEA (and one thing I wish I bought)

As I mentioned earlier this week, my friend and I ‘popped’ into IKEA last Saturday to grab a few things. It happened to be the grand opening weekend of the brand new massive store and it was literally busier than Disneyland. So many people.

On less busy days, I like to take my time and look around, pushing those wonky carts and snacking on the ikea animal crackers as we shop. But on this particular shopping trip, I had a short list of specific items I needed and was able to skip the showroom section and just cruise my way through the marketplace and warehouse.

I say that I have a love-hate relationship with IKEA, but actually, I mostly love it. Not all of it, mind you. Maybe 90% of the products are not for me, but those leftover 10% are pretty great.

Someone asked on instagram if I would share what I bought and I like that game (don’t you think it is interesting to see what people put into their carts?!), so I’m here to play. These are the six things I bought last week at IKEA (and one that I wish I bought).

LACK WALL SHELF | I grabbed four of these for the studio. They are very minimal and slightly modern, which is just what I wanted for above the desk. Ryan helped me install the first one and I did the other three by myself!

RIBBA FRAME | If you remember the design plan for the third floor hangout space, I bought two National Park posters for the wall and needed an inexpensive framing option. We have a million of these frames (see them in our old house here), just not in this color and size. You can’t beat the price and quality is just fine.

ZAMIOCULCAS PLANT | You guys, I’m getting out of control over here with my love of plants. I spent yesterday morning pruning, repotting, inspecting, delighting in my growing assortment of greenery. Is it just me getting older? Is it the fact that I’m no longer spending my every effort growing toddlers that now I can direct that care to plants? I don’t know, but I kinda like it.

FYI: a ZZ plant is super hardy and easy to grow in spaces with little direct sunlight but it is poisonous to children and pets.

RENS SHEEPSKIN | These sheepskins not only add a terrific texture to a bench, chair, bed or floor, but they feel amazing. I have one that sits on a cute tufted ottoman in the living room and another draped over my office chair. I love how it looks and feels so much, I added a second one to the matching chair.

KOLDBY COWHIDE | I laughed when I looked at my cart and saw sheepskin and cowhide. Apparently I have a thing for farm animals. The cowhide was for Ryan’s office, but I put it up in the studio to try it out and liked it so much I think I’ll steal it from him.

VITTSJO SHELF | Speaking of stealing … when we redid Ryan’s office last week, we borrowed furniture from around the house and this shelf was one of those things. It used to function as an etagere in the guest bathroom in our last house. When we moved in to the new house, we stuck it in the kitchen. And now it is in Ryan’s office with a second one flanking his desk (photos to come of his space soon). This shelf is super inexpensive, clean-lined and multi-purpose.

Great choices, if I do say so myself :)

What I missed out on buying but really wish I hadn’t is this great planter I never even saw it in the store (that’s the trouble with going quickly) but came across it this week online and have made a mental note to pick one up next time I’m there.

So that’s what came home with me from IKEA.

I’d love to know … do you have a favorite item from IKEA?

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how to camouflage outlet covers with wallpaper

Up in the studio (and throughout the whole house, actually), the outlets, light switches and wall plates are almond colored. I’m assuming this almond color was the standard back in 1992 when the house was built. Not a huge deal except that they look pretty grimy next to all of the white walls.

So on our very lengthy list of house projects is the tedious task of switching out not just the plate covers, but changing the actual outlets and light switches to white throughout the house.

Up in the studio, the outlets/switches/plates are also the almond color and they really do stand out against the walls.

The light switch in the above photo is the goofiest of all because in order to trim the window, we had to notch it out to fit the plate. Since it is right at my eye-level while I’m working, it’s been one of those things that I felt motivated to find a solution to.

Replacing all of the outlets/switches/plates in the studio falls very, very low on the project-totem-pole so an in-between fix was in order.

My answer: decoupage.

I did this same project five years ago in our old house. The issue then was that I had just painted the walls a dark color and the white plates stood out too much. Covering the plates with a pretty scrapbook paper was the prefect solution.

In this case, my goal was to make the plates look meaningful (and hopefully camouflage the almond-toned outlets and switches in the meantime).

This project is truly simple, fairly fool-proof and requires only a few dollars worth of materials.

Here’s how to decoupage outlet and light switch covers:

SUPPLIES

wall plate | pretty paper | Mod Podge (in matte finish) | paintbrush | scissors

A few notes:

  • No need to buy new wall plates – just take them off your wall and reuse them.
  • I prefer matte Mod Podge for this project so that you don’t get a glossy finish.
  • As for paper, the possibilities are endless. In our last house I used thick scrapbook paper. For the studio, I’m using a sample of the most gorgeous wallpaperWhatever you choose, go for something on the thicker side to reduce the puckering that can happen with thin paper.
  • I am not decoupaging the front of the paper for these outlets, but I did in our old house. It just depends on how durable you’re wanting them to be.

Okay, let’s get to it.

STEP ONE

Cut out a piece of your selected paper approximately 1/2″ larger on all sides than your plate.

STEP TWO

Coat the front with Mod Podge, flip it over and press to the center of the paper.

STEP THREE

Cut a notch in each corner.

STEP FOUR

Brush on glue and fold around edges.

If your paper doesn’t hold down, use a small clip to keep it in place while it dries.

Once the Mod Podge is dry, remove the clips and continue on (this only takes a few minutes).

STEP FIVE

Poke a hole in the center of the opening, then make several cuts around the circle.

STEP SIX

Brush on decoupage medium to paper, fold and press firmly to hold. Again, these little clips come in handy to hold it all in place as it dries.

After a few minutes, grab your cover, screw it in place, step back and admire your work.

Now I no longer cringe at the dingy looking outlets! The paper adds a subtle visual interest that looks purposeful.

The outlets are still clearly off-white, but look less out of place with the addition of the wallpaper.

And now I don’t mind looking at that goofy light switch anymore because it is covered in my favorite paper.

#itsthelittlethings

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Updating the Entry: painting the doors, trim + staircase

As we are beginning to meet people in our new town, we’re finding that when they drop by, we end up chatting in the entry.

The problem is, the entry is not the best representation of our style and what we’re doing in the rest of the house.

Here is the entry on the day we moved in (taken from the now moody living room):

The ultimate vision for the entry is to update the front door (with something like this to let in more light), add medium-toned hardwood throughout the entire main floor to keep the floors consistent, simplify the banister, remove the carpet from the stairs and replace with wood, add bulkier white trim to the baseboards and around the doors.

Before Christmas, we did make a couple of updates: switching out the light fixtures for these simple drum shade flush mounts and painting the walls and ceiling the same white as in the kitchen (shoji white by Sherwin Williams).

This definitely helped clean up the area, but it is still so far from what our vision is!

I would say that has been an interesting challenge so far in this house. We have a clear idea of what each room will end up like, but the process is slow, budget must be considered and there is an order that makes most sense.

For instance, replacing the carpet on the second and third floors takes precedence over adding hardwoods downstairs. Before we do hardwoods on the main floor, we want to take out the wall between the kitchen and dining room. And while we are taking out that wall, it will require moving appliances, so we want to be prepared to redo the whole kitchen at that point. It’s like the ultimate “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” moment.

We are trying to be realistic and find the balance between giving ourselves time to really live here and jumping ahead with our vision. And to top it all off, every square inch of this house has me so inspired to make changes that it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. I have this sense of urgency to make updates when really, there is no rush. I keep reminding myself to take it slow, keep it fun, share the process.

So what we’re ending up with is a series of stages of updating. Phase One: make short-term changes that freshen up the space for little investment. Phase Two: make long-term choices that take longer, cost more, but ultimately give us the result we’re after. Phase One might feel like a waste since it will all be changed out eventually, but these changes help us enjoy living and entertaining in the house today and that feels worth it. (The kitchen mini makeover is a perfect example).

The entry is another place for us to make our Phase One changes.

After we updated the kitchen and painted out all of the orange-toned oak trim, cabinets and doors, the doors and trim connecting the kitchen to the entry really stood out.

This is a view I look at a million times per day and so it was time to pull out the paintbrush and make a change.

Using the same method as before, I spent this past weekend painting and am so happy with the in-the-meantime results.

We used the same color as in the kitchen – Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams – in a semi-gloss finish. After a light sanding and cleaning, I simply painted on two coats of latex paint (the Behr highest quality, Marquee).

What a big difference!

The dark doors look modern and clean and even with the change in flooring material, it feels less busy.

Here’s another view from the entry:

The french doors leading into the still-untouched office are so handsome in the new dark paint!
And the stairs.

There is much to be desired with this entry staircase. We would love to have it feel more grand and open, but we’re a bit limited with how the floorplan is laid out. So the basic layout will remain.

While it looks like the carpet runner is just put down over the wood stairs and therefore would be easy to remove and paint the treads, this is not the case. The wood only runs along the edges. So for now, the carpet must stay. When we put in new wood floors, we will run them all the way up the stairs for a consistent look. At that time, we will also remove the rounded end cap and put in a simple straight-lined banister (something like this).

In the meantime, however, these stairs needed an update.

I wasn’t sure exactly where and how much to paint, so I started by just doing the side trim and banister/rails.

It ended up looking very choppy and drew more attention to the orange tone in the wood and the odd placement of the carpet runner – not things we were wanting to highlight.

So out came the can of paint and I went over all of it with the charcoal color.

So much better. Still not the perfect solution, but it does simplify the space.

When we moved in, we put that black dresser in the entry and I threw a few things out in an attempt to have it look decorated.

A favorite print found in a local boutique (sorry, I don’t know a source!), a vintage brass tray, cement light (from Target a few years ago), pleated wreath (here’s the tutorial) and a vase made in art class by our oldest son (a new cherished possession).

The black dresser feels pretty dark and bulky in this spot and will find a new place to be shortly. It is one of my favorite pieces we own, but it isn’t quite right for the entry. I’m thinking now with the dark paint, we need something lighter and brighter in the entry. I’ll keep you posted …

Right inside the door we have a bench, basket for shoes and tall mirror (such a steal at $49 from IKEA). I’d love to see a bigger rug in here – something durable with maybe a touch of color. I’m on the hunt.

Opposite the bench is a row of my favorite hooks (from here) for guests to hang coats and bags when they visit.

Phase One in the entry is complete. Phase One part two will be some changes in the furniture and styling and we’ll get to the bigger Phase Two changes later this year. Overall, these simple fixes do a lot to freshen up the space and make it feel more like us.

Now when guests drop by, the entry feels a little bit more like us.

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When you can’t find the table lamp you want, you improvise

After all the back and forth and option-weighing, I decided the desk in the studio will stay as originally planned. We’ll adjust the chairs to raise them up a bit and call it good.

I actually feel very happy with the decision and can continue on with putting the studio together …

Next up is adding in more ambient light in the form of table lamps. The light of table lamps is nice to work by and will also anchor either side of the desk.

In my initial design board, I planned on using these white textured lamps from Target. I liked the simple shape, but when I went to order, there was only one available (what?!).

As a second option, I came across this handsome ceramic lamp from West Elm, which I also really liked. I just couldn’t justify spending $300 on lamps for my office.

While out shopping the other day, I saw a pair of these column table lamps on clearance in the kid section and snatched up both of them for $45.

The shape is great, I love the wood base, the color was definitely not right for my studio, but I had an idea of how to fix that.

Enter the good ole days of DIY-Emily.

(Side note: I have not done a DIY project in almost a year. Crazy for a crafty girl who loves a DIY project! I’m glad to be back, friends. Glad to be back).

By altering these lamps, I hoped to create a hybrid of the two inspiration lamps – combining the shape of the first with the chalky gray color of the second. And because I didn’t spend much, I figured it was worth the DIY risk.

After taping off the base and neck, I painted on two coats of basic black chalk paint.

As chalk paint does, it dried a nice matte gray-black.

I could have left the paint as is, but went with the next step of ‘seasoning’ the chalk surface.

Typically, you season a freshly painted chalkboard to cure the surface and allow for full erasing once you start writing on it. These lamps won’t function as writable chalk surfaces, but I still wanted that pretty mottled look that seasoning creates.

After rubbing chalk all over the lamp, I wiped it in with a dry cloth and blew off the remaining dust.

The finished color is just the chalky black I was hoping for.

The lamps are now flanking the desk and look so nice!

Even though I initially wanted a pair of white lamps, these lamps remind me that bringing a touch of black into a room is always a good idea.

This was about as simple of a DIY as could be and I’m happy to be back in the crafty game.

Have you created anything lately that you’re particularly proud of? I’d love to hear!

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The third floor hangout room | a cozy, casual design plan

Since the studio desk situation was hurting my creative brain, I moved on to coming up with a design plan for the hangout space up on the third floor.

This house is just one big project and even though it would be great to go one room at a time, I can’t help myself :)

So while I continue to figure out the studio, we are simultaneously working on finishing up the third floor.

Let me remind you of what the space looked like when we bought the house:

This third floor was a major bonus and we knew right away it would be useful for our big family. To best use the space, we walled in that back half to create a bedroom for our oldest son (see his design plan here) and the rest of the space will be used for a hangout area.

Now that the paint and trim is finished and two new industrial lights installed, the shell is starting to come together.

Carpet is next; we’re ordering this week and should have it installed shortly. We are going a little lighter on the carpet and it will have a nice texture and more cozy feel than the industrial type that is up there now.

Audrey mainly plays in her room where all of her doll stuff is kept and the two younger boys have all of their legos and nerf guns in their shared room. Other than that, we don’t do a lot of toys anymore which means a playroom isn’t necessary. This third floor area will primarily serve as a hangout space for the boys and their friends.

Last week we found a sectional at Costco and bought it on a whim. We wanted to have a spot for the kids to lounge and this durable fabric, secure cushions and affordable price tag was a good fit. We will be bringing up a tv for the kids to play xbox and watch movies on, and we have a square coffee table that doubles as a great surface for board games. It will be really nice for them to have a separate place to be loud and have fun and not hear their mother reminding them again to please take their feet off the nice couch.

With the new kid-approved sectional in place, I spent some time pulling together a design plan to finish out the rest of the hangout room.

The first thing we ordered for the room were the two industrial lights. They are substantial, cool looking and set the tone for the slightly industrial/loftish boy space.

Next were the National Park posters. We had such an amazing time exploring a bunch of National Parks this summer on our road trip and so it felt right to bring a bit of nature and good memories into the room. I chose Yosemite and the Redwoods because they were two of our favorites, they reflect the evergreen trees we are surrounded by and the color of the artwork is so pretty.

From there, I pulled together some items that we already have and ordered a few accessories to fill in the gaps. The kids are notorious for pillow fighting with my good pillows, so I didn’t want to go overboard on pillows.

A living plant always feels like it finishes a space and after reading through the comments on this post, I am taking your advice and getting a zz plant for this space. It is supposedly very low-maintenance, prefers little water and can tolerate minimal natural light which will be great for this room.

We have a few more construction things to do (carpet, painting the railing and door, touching up the ceiling paint) and then I can start putting the decorative touches in!

SOURCES

National Park Art | Industrial Light | Paint: Revere Pewter |  Trim: Shoji White | Green Pillow | Pom Pom Pillow | Textured Pillow | Pom Pom Throw (coming soon to the shop) | Brass Tray | Bean Bags | 4 Cube Shelf | Gray Basket | Float Frame | Table Lamp | Rug

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Studio progress: there is an unexpected hiccup in the design plan

I set up a temporary desk in the studio last week and have loved working in this new space. The light is so good, it is quiet, big and open and the perfect backdrop for creative work.

Spending more time up there made me extra excited to get working on putting the studio together.

After we came up with the design plan, I ordered the dressers, countertops, lights, chairs, hardware, and diy whiteboard supplies to get this space organized and looking good.

The first step was putting together the IKEA dressers, which took me forever. Like at least two hours each. At one point, my 9 year old was helping me and doing a much better job at understanding the directions than I. I’ll chalk that up to his mad lego-building skills.

The third and final one was finished on Friday, just in time for the gorgeous leather chairs to be delivered on Saturday. So my weekend plans pretty much centered around pulling the rest of the room together.

As per the original desk idea, Ryan cut off the legs of the dressers to reduce the height and we topped the three with the wood countertops.

All was great until I pulled up the new chair to try it out.

The seat height was too short. BOOO! 

We knew it was going to be close, but with the adjustable height chairs and with the estimated measurement of the desk, we thought it would work. Unfortunately, the chairs are just too short.

Or the desk is too high.

Time for Plan B.

I’ll be honest: I don’t always do well with changing plans once I have something in my head. What I have in my head is what I drew on paper before ordering all the items to put it together:

And what I drew on paper is pretty much what it looks like with the dressers/counter tops/chairs in place.

I like the visual weight of the dressers. I like the symmetry. I like the double work areas and storage the drawers offer.

I don’t like that the configuration doesn’t go all the way to the wall on the right or that there is a seam in the wood countertop right in the center. Neither are total deal-breakers for me, but it opened up the door to explore new options.

The first option is to keep the desks as-is and just switch out the chairs. The ones we ordered are beautiful, functional, comfortable and I’m a little bummed to have to loose them. As a close alternative, I could use these counter stools. The 24″ seat height should work and it would keep the warm leather, which is what I was hoping for.

The second option is to change the desk.

So we started moving things around and brainstorming new ideas.

SIDENOTE: When I say ‘we‘, what I really mean is Ryan. He is flexible and a problem-solver and balances out my stubbornness and indecisiveness in situations like these.

Anyway, back to the desk. Here is one scenario we tried:

We could put one dresser in the center under the window with the wood countertops mounted on either side at a typical desk height (we pulled barstools from the house to get the idea. The desk would be mounted to the wall and up a little higher). Picture both sides having wood desks with the dresser slightly higher in the center.

A third option could be to remove the dressers altogether (and use them elsewhere in the room) and attach minimal table legs (like these) under the wood counters to create two side-by-side desks (similar to my old office desk as seen in the first photo above). They wouldn’t run the whole width of the wall, but it would allow for one solid desk surface. This option could work. I just really liked the idea of drawers at the desks and the way they anchor the end of the studio.

I don’t know, you guys. Why can’t I just decide?!

I told you that I would share the process of designing the studio each step of the way and this hiccup is a very real step in most design projects. Flexibility and creative problem-solving are good skills to have when you run into little issues like too-high desks and unfortunately, I don’t possess large amounts of either of those skills. At least not for this project where I had my mind set on the original plan.

And that is where we left off.

Ryan did get the can lights installed and I managed to bring up a million boxes of storage and office things that have been temporarily stacked up in the garage. At least that feels nice to have those parts finished.

But I’m still stumped about the desk and a bit bummed that the plans are not working as I hoped.

Hmmmm … what to do, what to do …

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The Family Room Sectional was our best choice yet

In our last house, the living room was open to the kitchen. It was our main hang-out space for hosting parties, hanging out with the kids and watching tv. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll likely remember the shingled fireplace and tufted chesterfield sofa that lived in that room.

The new house has a more typical floor plan with a formal living room near the front of the house (see it here) and a good-sized family room off the kitchen.

Having two spaces for gathering was very appealing as we could use the living room for quiet, adult-ish time and the family room for more casual family hanging out. We put the tufted sofa in the living room (see it here) which left us seat-less in the family room.

And that meant a search was on for a good, comfortable, stylish couch was on.

The main criteria were:

SIZE – big enough for all six of us to sit on

STYLE – clean, straight lines

QUALITY – durable frame, hard-wearing upholstery, down-filled cushions

AVAILABILITY – delivery within 4 weeks (we were on a time crunch to get furniture in the room before our family came to stay for Christmas).

Because of the size and slightly strange shape of the room and because we wanted a big, deep, cushy couch, we decided an L-shaped sectional was our best option. After lots of online searching and a few days of furniture store shopping, we ultimately landed on the Lounge II 3 piece sectional from Crate and Barrel.

You guys. I know it is just a couch, but seriously, it is by far the most comfortable couch I’ve ever sat on. Which can be a real problem because all I want to do now is sit on it :)

The size fits perfectly in the odd nook of the family room. We have big plans to elevate the simple style of this room (I’ll share our ideas soon!) but until then, the couch was just what we needed to make it feel cozy and usable. At Christmas, with all our family here, we fit 8 adults without a problem on this big thing. That was exactly what we were hoping for and it made us extra happy with our choice.

Once we pulled the purchase-trigger on the couch, we realized we didn’t have a coffee table. The hope for this room was to be a family-friendly, casual place for hanging out and entertaining so we wanted a coffee table that would not only be the right scale next to the huge sectional, but could also work for extra seating.

After searching and searching, I came across this tufted ottoman bench on sale at Target. The price was great and with two placed side-by-side, it creates a large surface that can also be pulled apart for more seating. The linen color is very close to the color of the couch – not a perfect match, but not too clashy. I’m thinking I’ll reupholster the top of the ottomans at some point just for contrast and maybe in a more durable, darker upholstery fabric since these get lots of wear. I’m thinking a navy herringbone could be pretty.

To save the existing fabric and add more pattern to the room, I draped my favorite wool blanket across the ottomans and topped with an old basket to hold books, remotes, a vase of the prettiest ranunculus and Jenga blocks for impromptu playing. There have been a few times when we needed a hard surface for drinks and snacks, so I just bring in another tray to set those on. For the most part, though, we don’t eat and drink out of the kitchen, so that hasn’t been much of a problem.

We ordered the couch online, but went into a Crate & Barrel store beforehand to see it in person and make sure it was the right choice. I’m so glad we did. We would have ordered the darker gray version, but in person much preferred the light color (ours is the Taft fabric in Cement). And – BONUS! – it is an in-stock fabric so it shipped much faster!

The couch is very deep, which we absolutely love, and throw pillows are almost necessary to keep you sitting upright. Luckily for me, I have a total love affair with pillows and was happy to add a few more to my collection for this room.

Overall, we are so pleased with the choice. It was an investment, for sure, and hopefully a family couch we can keep for years and years.

There will be so many more updates of this room that we’re hoping to get to this Spring. I think it might become my favorite room in the house if all goes as planned. Details to come, of course.

For now, here are all of the sources found in our casual family room setup:

1. sectional | 2. floor lamp | 3. pom pom throw | 4. leather pillow | 5. x pillow | 6. side table | 7. ottoman | 8. check blanket | 9. wood lamp (similar) | 10. basket | 11. faux fur pillow | 12. modern dot pillow | 13. geometric pillow | 14. blue pillow (similar)

 

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A classic + modern design plan for the studio (I’m so excited!)

Now that the shell of the studio is complete, it’s time to get to work on a design plan for how to best use the space.

You would think that I would have had this all planned out for months, but nope. This is probably due to the fact that I’m simultaneously thinking about a bunch of other rooms and that I’m so much better at visualizing things once I can stand in a space and get a feel for it. Now that the studio is ready and kitchen makeover is complete, my focus is fully on this space.

(Well, that’s half true. I’m also thinking about the fireplace makeover I have planned and choosing carpet and repainting the third floor … so many fun things to do in this house!)

I love a good before and after, but I also totally see the value in sharing the process of how to get from that before to the after. So for the studio, my plan is to share it all step-by-step.

When approaching the decorating of any space, I like to think about a few things:

What is the purpose of the room?

and

What is the desired feeling for the space?

I will use the studio to work at the computer, store my craft/decorating supplies, take product photos for the shop and instagram, record Coffee Chats, sit with Ryan to plan and calendar all things JDC, meet with clients and gather with friends to work around a table. I am such a visual person that I work best when my space is clean and orderly, and also creatively inspiring. So my goal for the studio is for it to be light and bright, organized, warm, comfortable. Basically, a place that feels inspiring to work in and relaxing to be in.

Last week Ryan and I spent some time up in the studio figuring out how to layout the space to make the most sense. The dormers and angles are charming, but also cause limitations (there are only three flat walls to hang things on!). Ryan is so good at space planning so I rely pretty heavily on him to offer his vision. And he delivered. He came up with a great plan to build in a desk along the entire back wall, add bookshelves/storage on the wall between the dormers, put a table in the center of the room and a reading/planning area in one slanted-ceilinged corner.

Here’s a rough sketch of the layout:
Once we had the general layout figured out, I got right to work coming up with a specific plan. I have a pinterest board dedicated to my favorite office spaces, so it was great to look through those images to pull inspiration.

Since we decided the best use of space was to create a built-in desk along the back wall, that was my first focus. I spent hours – literally hours! – searching for creative built-in desk solutions.

My mom has a cute home office desk with three sets of filing cabinets holding up the wood top. That was initially what I was going to mimic, but then I started having second thoughts.

First, the wall we are putting the desk on is quite large. I felt like a small filing cabinet just wouldn’t be the right scale. Second, I don’t need storage for files and paperwork. Third, filing cabinets are not cheap! It felt like if I were going to pay several hundred dollars for this desk situation, I might as well make it very functional and more in line with my desired aesthetic for the studio.

This led me down a long and time-consuming rabbit trail of searching for something other than a filing cabinet I could use as the base of the built-in desks.

I came across this image and it was the perfect jumping off point. I figured if a filing cabinet could be used as the base of a desk, so could a dresser.

Next it was just a matter of finding the right scale and price point for a piece of furniture. I scrolled through all of my favorite online stores, salvage places and craigslist to find three matching dressers/bookshelves that were the right depth and height and came up without many options. With the options I did find, I drew out the measurements and prices along with pros and cons until ultimately landing on the Hemnes 3-drawer dresser from IKEA.

The dimensions were not perfect, but with some alteration the height would be workable.

To help me visualize what the dressers would look like, I printed off a photo of the studio and drew right over top.

Seeing it on paper (even in a not-to-scale, sketch-y version) was just what I needed to make the final decision.

With the built-in desk figured out, all of the other finishes and pieces could be chosen. For the studio, we’re going for a classic, modern and pretty minimal feel.

light | chair | dresser | wood countertop | table lamp | throw | acrylic sheet | standoff screws | windsor chairs | rug | cowhide rug

I’m not straying much from my typical style, but maybe pushing it slightly more clean-lined than I would in the house. A warm, neutral color palette of white, black, natural wood and brown leather will give a simple backdrop to the creative work projects that will happen in the studio. I still haven’t decided if I’ll paint the dressers that gorgeous deep green (Calke Green by Farrow + Ball), or keep them white. Either way, I know I’ll bring in green with a few plants to add a bit of life to the otherwise colorless palette. There are a few things I’ll pull from our house (like our dining room table and a reading chair) to add to the mix and we have another built-in shelf to figure out for in between the two dormers. But progress is being made!

We have two out of three dressers put together, chairs and lights are on their way, a diy white board is in the works and one of these days I’ll get the kids to help me lug up the million boxes of office stuff from the garage.

Hopefully seeing my design process is helpful! I’ll keep you updated as we continue to make progress …

 

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Discover your style + decorate with confidence

I truly love decorating. The act of taking a space and infusing it with personal style, putting order to something haphazard, making functional and aesthetic improvements to a space, this is one of my most favorite things to do.

And based on the online conversations we’ve had over the years, on the comments and interest you’ve shown in the changes we made to our old house and are now making to our new home, you love it, too.

What is this draw we have toward decorating a home?

Some of it is just purely the visual part of living in a home that is pretty.

But the other part – the part that is harder to define and transcends trends, budget, style – is the way a decorated home makes us feel.

Welcome. Comfortable. Calm. Inspired. Energetic. Cozy.

Just as how wearing an outfit we feel good in makes a big impact on our days, decorating our homes in a personal and stylish way makes a noticeable difference in how we live in them.

And – BONUS! –  when we feel happy and relaxed in our homes, we are much more likely to invite others in.

The desire for a pretty home is in us, but what if the skills to make it happen are not?! 

The newest online class, SIMPLIFIED DECORATING was created to help us all make our homes into places we love.

How fun would it be if I could come over, chat about what you’d like your home to look/feel like, maybe move some furniture and shop for a few pillows or a new couch or whatever you need?! Since that is a little tricky to make happen, let’s do it virtually, instead.

I put all of my best decorating knowledge into video lessons that you can watch from the comfort of your soon-to-be-happily-decorated home.

We’ll walk through the whole decorating process: first identifying your personal style, next assessing your room, creating a design board with items that fit your style and finally, putting it all together in a way that makes sense.

The course takes place online and you can follow along at your own pace. There are 15 lessons, each about 5-11 minutes each (for a total of just over 3 hours of inspiring video learning).

WITH SIMPLIFIED DECORATING, YOU WILL:

  • Discover your personal style
  • Avoid common decorating mistakes
  • Create a design board for any room
  • Incorporate your style into your home
  • Save money by not spending on the wrong things
  • Get a cohesive, comfortable home that makes you happy
  • Have a clear decorating direction

 


The course is split into four parts:

In the first portion of the class, you will walk through a series of steps to identify your personal decorating style.

Putting a name to it and understanding what the style is characterized by is the first and most important step in the decorating process.


In the second section, you’ll learn the seven essential elements for every room, common decorating mistakes with practical tips for how to avoid them, and a simple way to establish a cohesive color palette.


Before you begin on decorating your room, you’ll need a plan. This section covers what features to look for in your space, how to create a design board, practical tips for avoiding overspending.

You’ll also learn my step-by-step process for decorating any room.


This is where you put your knowledge to work! Be inspired by before and after successes and discover three things you can do today that will make a big impact.


THE COURSE INCLUDES:   

  • worksheets for discovering your style
  • seven elements that are essential for every room
  • step-by-step guide for how to decorate any room
  • practical tips for where to save and where to spend
  • the best home decorating sources
  • 5 common mistakes and how to avoid them
  • how to create a design board
  • three things you can (and should!) do today

Registration is now open!

You can join now and begin at any time (tonight? yep. Next week? Sure. In six months? Also, yes).

Here is what Simplified Decorating students are saying:

“I LOVE LOVE LOVE your simplified decorating class and have had so many aha moments with your approach to decorating. I now see clearly my design style and my approach to shopping for things for my home has been more focused which is awesome for my husband. ?” – Natalie G.

“Thank you so much! You do a great job of breaking down the steps and making it easy to understand! Now I am motivated to finish my art studio, living room and dining room!” – Melinda B.

“My house now feels more complete and peaceful as I think about bringing home a new baby. No more empty blank walls! Thanks so much for all your help in making this task not seem as intimidating. I learned a lot!” – Kate W.

If you need a little help, inspiration and motivation to make changes in your home, I can’t wait to be part of it!

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Coffee Chat Episode 15 | in the new kitchen

Grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat!

Today we’re in our newly made-over kitchen.

I posted the full reveal with lots of before and after photos (read that here) and your comments were so fun to read through! Many questions were asked on repeat, so in today’s video, I thought it would be fun to answer them on video and talk through our answers.

Welcome to our kitchen! Let’s chat …

MENTIONED IN THE VIDEO

The most asked question by far was “Where is the microwave?“.

Answer: we moved it into the pantry.

Isn’t that a lovely photo?! It’s just a tiny pantry tucked under the stairs and we sacrificed some shelf space for the microwave. Ryan is on a mission to make this space more efficient, so I’ll keep you posted if/when he adds more storage.


Next question: “Do the open shelves really function as well as they look?” and sister-question: “Do they offer enough storage?

Answer: I love them, they function well and storage is not a problem for us.

I snapped a few photos to show you inside the cupboards. I am a big fan of editing and giving away anything that either I don’t use, like or need on a fairly regular basis. This reduces what we have and allows us to keep the less-lovely kitchen essentials in the lower cabinets.

If you love the look of open shelves but can’t give up all of your upper cabinet storage space, you could also try removing just one cabinet (in a spot that makes sense) to give you a space for display while still keeping some of the uppers for storage.

Or, just take them all down and whittle down your dish collection to only the ones you use and love and display them proudly :)


Many questions came in asking “How did you paint the cabinets?“.

Like I mention in the video, you will want to take your particular cabinets into account before following my instructions. Our cabinets are solid wood with a slight sheen and were very easy to paint. Other cabinets will need more of a sanding job or different paint formula in order for them to be durable. Just remove a door and take it into your local paint store to get an expert’s opinion.

Here are my steps: lightly sand with 120 grit sand paper. Wipe down to remove sanding dust. Paint two coats of latex semi-gloss paint (with a good quality brush). Let dry a few days to fully cure.

I took all of the drawers out and doors off to paint the cabinet bases and drawer fronts, then put the doors back on to paint the front and sides of those. We chose not to paint inside the cabinets, but if I were planning on keeping the cabinets for a longer time than we are, I would have at least done the inside of the doors.

If you are painting dark cabinets a lighter color, you may want to prime first, then do two or three coats of paint for a nice finish. Our dark paint color covered really well and made the job quite easy.


The shirt I’m wearing in the video is THIS COZY ONE.

Thanks for watching!

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A little peek at our house this Christmas

I hope you had a lovely Christmas!

We have spent the past two days doing absolutely nothing and it feels amazing. Especially after the weeks of non-stop work on the house to get it ready for hosting.

bradyfire Whew! It was a marathon that turned into a sprint on those final few days.

Thankfully, my mom and dad stopped by the day before Christmas Eve and we put them straight to work. We unpacked boxes, moved things to the new studio (I can not wait to show you how it is shaping up!), hung pictures and coat hooks, made beds, put up garland, vacuumed, mopped, scrubbed and – my favorite part of all – installed the open shelves in the kitchen.

We are so excited about how the house is coming together. We are slowing making progress putting our touch in each room and it is truly transforming it.

I’ve shared a few photos on instagram and wanted to share more with you here on the blog.

I know it’s after Christmas and we’re all ready to take down the tree, clear out the garland and freshen up for the New Year, but the house looked so pretty and the sun was shining in and I just couldn’t resist snapping a few photos before our family came over on Christmas day. Enjoy the little peek into our house!

livingroom The living room went through phase one of it’s makeover with new paint on the walls, trim and ceiling. Just the paint changed this room completely (see the house when we bought it here).

I’ll talk more about this room, our vision for it and what we’ve done so far more in detail in the new year so stay tuned for more details. I will say, though, that the deep green/blue/gray on the walls (Ancestral by Behr paired with the same charcoal trim color that we used in the kitchen (Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams) is doing just what we hoped it would for the room: it’s feeling so cozy and moody in there.

fireplace sofapillows2 We put our beloved linen chesterfield sofa in the living room and layered it with favorite textiles.

*the sofa came from a shop that is no longer in business, but I’ve done a little bit of research and found that it is this one. The sofa is only available to the trade, so click around and you should be able to find a retailer near you.*

furpillow The stripe blanket was a recent purchase – it is lightweight and those corner tassels are so good. The green velvet pillow is from Crate and Barrel and comes in an assortment of pretty colors. The white goat hide pillow is available in our House + Home Shop and is even better in person.

pillows I love how the green and white on the left mixes with the blue ikat pillow (made by my mom with this fabric) and gorgeous modern leather pillow on the right. The leather pillow makes us want to add much more of that rich camel color in this room. I popped in an old Noel pillow for Christmas and will have to find a good replacement for it soon.

trayontable livingroomfire I have fireplace makeover DIY idea that I’m hoping to get to soon. But seriously, it is pretty amazing how different and updated it looks with just a new coat of paint.

cornerchair livingcorner diningtable Other than pulling off the wallpaper border, the dining room hasn’t been touched. It actually looked quite nice simply dressed with cedar garland, felt pom pom garland (no longer available from West Elm) and a runner made with wrapping paper, more greens from the backyard, white bottlebrush trees and candles in old silver cups.

diningtablecenterpiece diningroomtoliving The metal dining chairs from Restoration Hardware, doxology canvas is by Lindsay Letters, library shelf is from World Market.

The kitchen is my favorite transformation so far. Kinda crazy since we were not even planning on doing anything to the room until the big rip-it-all-out remodel we have in mind (read more about that here).

christmaskitchen I will do the official kitchen reveal with before and afters and the budget breakdown soon. I can’t wait to show you the whole thing!

Ryan and I love entertaining and we’re so thankful for this place to welcome our family and friends in to. It was a mad dash to get things put together before our family came to celebrate and now that it’s over, it was worth every ounce of energy.

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