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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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Phase One of the Family Room Makeover + best painting tips

I’ve shared this view of our most lived-in room of the house a handful of times:

But what I haven’t shared are the other sides:

We call this room the Family Room which sits off the kitchen and is the place where we do most of our hanging out. We chose the cushiest, deepest, most comfortable sectional (more about it here) for the corner to fit our whole family for movies and lounging. It has not disappointed.

What does feel pretty meh is the rest of the room. It is the one room besides our master bathroom and the kids’ bathroom that we have not yet touched in the house … until now.

Before I got started, I took a quick video for you:

So like I mentioned in the video, we have bigger plans for the room – think wood floors, new wider baseboards and window trim (like we did upstairs), planked walls or ceiling and a wall of builtins along the wall that currently houses the tv. The problem with our big plans is in order to do one part, it requires another part to be done at the same time. It’s like a massive chain of projects and we just don’t have the time, budget or finished plan totally figured out quite yet.

In the meantime, we’re giving it a PHASE ONE makeover, like we’ve done with almost every other room in the house.

What’s a phase one makeover? Well, I say it’s just doing the small things that don’t require much time, money or tearing out of walls. Things like paint, changing out lights or hardware, improving upon what you already have.

For the family room, phase one looks like fresh paint on the walls and trim, replacing the can lights with lower-profile white ones, taking down the ceiling fan and adding a new light fixture, removing the sconces and switching out some furniture.

First up on that list was paint.

After posting an in-process painting picture to instagram, a sweet reader said this:

“Can you (or have you already) do a post on tips for painting interiors? We’re getting ready to tackle our house and we both literally sat and looked at each other and said, “sooooo just paint…?”

That one made me smile. And my answer is basically, yes. Just paint.

But with a few pointers.

First, choose your paint. For walls I prefer a slight sheen (called eggshell or satin, depending on the brand), ceilings in flat and trim in semi-gloss.

We are carrying on with the same white we’ve used in most of the rooms and hallways in the house – Shoji White by Sherwin Williams. For more tips on choose a white paint, read this post about our old house and this one from the new house.

Then, grab your supplies. You’ll typically want an angled brush for cutting in the edges (like this), a roller and tray and painter’s tape.

Next, prep the space. We pulled all of the furniture to the center of the room and covered with thick plastic. If you’re taping off areas where you don’t want paint, now is the time to do it.

Finally, start painting! If you have two people, have one cut in the edges and the other follow behind with the roller for the main surface of the walls. If you’re painting solo, I usually cut everything in and then move to the roller.

We will eventually move the tv to a different wall, but for now it will stay – the cable is on that wall and it just felt easier to leave it for now :)

Once the walls had two coats and time to dry overnight, I went to work on the trim.

We painted the trim in the kitchen with the same deep charcoal as the cabinets and have just continued that downstairs – at least for now. Like I mentioned before, when we put in hardwoods we’ll switch out the baseboards and the window trim (just like we did upstairs) and it will go white, but in the meantime it feels fun to try something a little different with the dark trim.

For the trim, I did it just the same as with the rest of the downstairs trim (read my full post about painting out orangy-wood trim and doors here). I taped off inside and outside the windows as well as above the trim on the wall and on the edge of the carpet. So much tape!

I actually don’t like painter’s tape – it always, always bleeds. Sure, I could try the whole paint the background color first trick, but that seems so time intensive. So instead, I just tape it off, press firmly, then paint the trim.

When the tape comes off (after the second coat, but while still wet-ish), there are always areas where the paint bleeds under.

I’ve just learned to deal with it and I go back over with a tiny artists brush and wall paint to fix the smudges. It takes precision and a bit of time, but it’s not terrible. Just mildly annoying.

But, hey! Look how pretty that trim looks now!

When we first painted the kitchen window trim it felt like we put eyeliner on the windows. Suddenly they became focal points and directed your vision to outside, which is truly so beautiful. I am typically a fan of simple white trim, but this dark is quite eye-catching.

There is still one more patch of paint way up high to finish, then we’ll switch out the light fixtures (can’t wait to share what we’re doing!) and move some furniture around.

So far, just having the walls freshly painted and trim that striking charcoal has really updated the room. All for a few days of painting and about $100 in supplies. Not bad!

If you’re debating about whether or not to paint a room or paint out your trim, do it! It truly makes such a big difference.

I’ll keep you posted as we continue to work on Phase One of the Family Room Makeover.

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A free source for great photo artwork

Last week I hung the first artwork in our oldest son’s room.

You might remember when we shared the design board he and I created for his room. Poor kid has been waiting (rather patiently) for his mother to step up her decorating-a-teen’s-room game and pull it all together. This artwork was a move in the right direction.

He wants his room to feel cozy and Northwest-y and when I came across this photo of evergreens, a lake, snow-capped mountains in the back, I knew he would love it.

Here’s the best part: the artwork was free! 

Have you heard of UNSPLASH? It is an online resource with amazing hi-resolution photography that you can download and use for free. Photographers from all over the world contribute their work – there are over 200,000 photos of anything and everything you can think of.

Unsplash was originally created as a resource for stock photography for websites (think things like styled desks, moody coffee houses, close-ups of tools, etc.) and has grown into a massive library and community of generous photographers.

While searching through images, I came across this photograph which felt perfect for Ethan’s room. The great thing about these photos is that they are not just for web use, but they can be printed as well.

I downloaded the photograph and ordered a 20″x30″ print from Costco. It was done the next day and I paid $9.99 for the print. We had an extra frame from IKEA in our stash of frames, which worked perfectly. It was just slightly smaller than the print, so I trimmed it down and popped it in.

You can’t really tell unless you look very close but the image is a little pixelated – just something to be aware of if you print large-scale like I did.

There are literally thousands of photographs to choose from on Unsplash. Here are a few of my faves:

download here

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And here is the one I used for Ethan’s room:

download here

How great are those?! I could spend way too much time looking through and imagining where I could put more photographs around the house.

Thanks to the talented photographers who share their work with all of us :)

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