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A quick photo tour of the yard + porch

We have now been in our house for all four seasons. As we have been working on the inside of the house, we have done very little to the exterior. I think part of us wanted to wait until we experienced the house in each season – to see how the sun comes through the trees before we thin them, to find out what plants pop up before we move things around, to live in the yard and front porch and back patio before we decide how to update them.

Now that summer is here, the plants have grown in, trees are fully leafed out and the weather is perfect for outdoor living, we’re getting excited to spend more time outside and make a few changes.

To be completely fair, the original owners of the house passed on a pretty beautiful place. The house is darling and landscape is really nice. Most of the plants and trees are 15-20 years old, which means they are full and substantial and fill the gardens nicely. So far, we have done nothing more than trim up a few branches and remove the back pergola (which was blocking light into the house).

It has probably been a few years since any major pruning and mulching have taken place in the yard, so that is what I’m looking forward to doing in the next few weeks. There are a couple of bare spots where I’ll fill in with low shrubs around the front walk and the poor soil is quite compact. Adding nutrient-rich mulch will give those pretty plants a boost.

The boxwoods leading to the front porch are big and a bit misshapen. We couldn’t figure out what happened to that middle one with the big sink-hole in the center until we watched a video the boys were making and saw one of them fall right into it. I’m not sure if it is salvageable – we may need to cut it way back? Boxwoods take forever to grow, so I’m hesitant to mess anything up.

The front porch hasn’t had much use, but now that the summer weather is here, it is proving to be a lovely space to sit. The kids like to swing on the porch swing and for Father’s Day, we bought Ryan two rocking chairs (here’s the link).

We have some work to do on the front porch: new front door, fix the wrapped posts, add a railing, repaint the decking, update the exterior lighting. At some point, we’ll remove the top arched windows and push the rectangular windows up, fix the siding and paint the house white.

One of my favorite views of the house is of the garage with dormers. The previous owners left window boxes with miniature boxwoods and I’ve added to them this summer with some of my favorites: sweet potato vine, creeping jenny and white bacopa.

Beyond the garage is the little chicken coop, set back in the woods.

Each morning, we let the chickens out and they roam the yard all day. They are funny birds who stay together in a little pack and wander about.

They haven’t started laying eggs yet, but should any day now.

Last week, Ryan hung a hammock out under a canopy of trees. It has been the coveted spot around here.

Every day, I catch myself feeling so grateful for this gorgeous retreat. We are surrounded by lush green, with plenty of room to explore, run around, throw the ball for the dog, lay out in the sun. What a treat to look out our windows at such a pretty yard and have such privacy.

Sure, there is a list of projects that must be done, and an even longer one with things we’d like to do, but we truly do love it here!

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Updates to the Studio just in time for summer

The last time I showed you the studio, the desks had just been finished and it was styled with hints of pink for spring.

Since then, I have added a few new pieces of furniture and switched out the pink for summery blues so it felt like a good time to do an updated studio tour.

Classic Summer Studio Tour 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. When we bought the house last fall, this room was just an unfinished storage area above the garage. We decided it would be the perfect spot for a home office and creative studio.

It is such a treat to have this big, bright room as an extension of the house. I am up here everyday either working or doing a barre workout (more on that soon), and now that there is a big work table in here, it will be used even more.

Summer Studio Tour The big work table is actually our dining table (seen here in our old dining room). We bought it over 10 years ago at the Restoration Hardware outlet store and I still love its classic style. Instead of using the table in the formal dining room in the house, we decided we really didn’t need it there and we have plans to remove the wall separating the dining and kitchen, so the table won’t be needed once that happens. It was not an easy task to move this massive, heavy table up the skinny staircase, but we did it and it’s such a nice addition to the studio.

Summer Studio desk space The table sat up in the studio for a couple of months without any seating while I figured out what I wanted. Individual chairs would have been the obvious choice. It just seemed like having 10 extra chairs would feel really busy in room that already has a lot going on in it.

Instead, I scoured the internet for inexpensive, simple benches that could hold two people comfortably and fit the width of the table.

summer studio tour work table and benches After lots of searching, I ended up ordering four upholstered benches from Target during a sale (you can also find them here for a great deal). I wasn’t totally sold on the nailhead trim (maybe too busy with everything else?) but I planned on making simple slipcovers to make for easy washing anyway, so I went ahead and bought them. They arrived over Memorial Day weekend, I talked my 9 year old into helping me put them together and now that they’re in, I’m so happy with how they look, feel and function.

work table and benches Perhaps my favorite thing about the benches is that they can be pushed in under the table to keep the floor open and visually disappear.

built in desks The rug is another recent addition. Originally, I had my eye on this plaid flatweave rug from Rejuvenation. I just didn’t have room in our budget to spend $799 on a rug (FYI, the rug is now on major clearance and had I known, maybe I would have waited a little longer before choosing a different rug!).

studio work space and desks desk | desktop | pulls | chair | benches | blanket | rug

Instead, I found this cotton rug from Home Depot and waited for it to go on sale. The size of this one is a little bigger than the average 8×10 and fits under the table perfectly. It is a flatweave with stamped design. I didn’t use a rug pad under because the table holds it down just fine, but it is recommended, so keep that in mind if you order for your home.

summer studio tour computer desk shelves  | blue vaseribbon | linen files | stapler + tape | chair | throw | lamp

To add in a summery feel, the spring pink accessories were put away and switched out for pretty blues.

built out studio space for summer This is one reason I like decorating with neutrals so much; it makes decorating for the seasons so easy.

Starting with a simple palette of white, natural wood, brass and those handsome leather chairs means I can switch out a throw blanket, add a vase or candle, a few notecards and artwork and change the feel of space.

summer styled shelves shelves | linen file box | basket | Q&A book | She Reads Truth

summer styled work desk I’m so fickle about color and can’t commit to living with any one color for longer than a few months, so keeping things mainly neutral with just a few touches of color keeps me feeling creative.

desk and shelf summer styled details computer on desk summer flowers art and peonies Not much has changed on the other side of the room. The reading area is a favorite spot with that sweet light, cozy chair and bright natural light. There are window boxes right outside each dormer window that add extra cottage charm.

studio reading area lightchair | table | rug | pillow | floor lamp

I still have a few more projects to complete over on this side – a diy white board and extra storage. We’re hoping to finish up those in the next week or so and you know I’ll share details along the way :)

studio plant string of pearls My #plantlady obsession is going strong in the studio. Our house does not get great natural light, but the studio does, so the plants seem to thrive up here.

Perhaps my favorite summery touch is this little wooden bowl I bought in Rwanda holding a bit of stolen sand from my favorite beach in Seaside, Florida.

sand in bowl After taking all of the photos, I had a few minutes to spare before the kids came home from school and filmed a quick studio video tour. Now, fair warning, I talk with my hands and was only holding the camera with one hand while the other was flying about. Therefore, the video is a bit shaky. But it shows how the room works together AND you get to see all the unfinished, messy parts that don’t make it into photos :)

I hope you enjoyed the tour!

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Reveal day! The kids’ third floor casual hangout space

If you remember from a couple of previous posts, we’ve been turning an open third floor bonus room into a functional space for our growing kids.

Since moving in, we walled in a bedroom and closet, painted the walls, changed out the lighting, updated the trim and replaced the carpet (read all about the updates here). Instead of it being a big open space, we gave the room structure and it works so much better.

With the shell of the room complete, I got to do the fun part and add finishing touches. I started with a design plan (see it here) and kept to a mainly neutral color palette (big shock, I know), pulling in a bit of green and blue for color.

The room is casual and comfy, a little bit outdoorsy and a great spot for the kids to hang out.

Now that the kids are a little older (13, 11, 9 and 7), our playroom needs have changed. No longer do we need tons of storage for toys or open spaces for floor play. Those were sweet days and I loved creating a playroom for the kids when they were little (see it here).

This hangout space needed to work as a space for the kids to watch movies, play games with friends, lounge on a comfy couch with a book or create with legos.

I loaded the sectional couch with assorted pillows because I just can’t help myself. Of course they all end up on the floor when the kids are up here, but I still insist on them because they add texture and pattern to an otherwise very plain room.

On either side of the big window are framed posters of two of our favorite National Parks. I just love the greens and touch of blue they bring.

And, of course, you can’t have a finished room without a touch of living greenery. This time, I chose a very low-maintenance plant called Zamioculcas Zamiifolia (ZZ for short). It doesn’t need much to keep it alive, so it is perfect for this room where I’m not regularly having to bring it down to water.

Next to the couch, tucked into the little nook is where we ended up putting all the legos.

Lego storage has stumped us for nearly 10 years. We’ve tried so many different solutions: colors organized into separate boxes (that was very short-lived), spread out on a lego table, under bed storage bins, lego pit (that was a fun one where Ryan built a half wall in the boys’ dormer bump-out and we dumped all the legos in there), plastic totes. You name it, we probably tried it.

Truth be told, I love legos. The boys are super creative and come up with the most amazing things. As they get older, they are less and less into building, but I still want to keep them accessible, especially for Mason (9) who still enjoys digging through, building scenes and playing with the guys.

Our current lego storage solution is working out great. The big galvanized trough is what we kept our baby chicks in for the first few weeks. Once we moved them to the coop, Ryan had the brilliant idea to use the bin for legos.

It’s super sturdy, had rounded edges so the kids don’t get hurt while digging, it holds all of our legos and won’t break like every other plastic lego bin has seemed to do.

To fill in the big wall, I hung two shelves left over from the boys’ old room.

My original thought was to fill that wall with shelves so the boys could put their lego ships/cars/guys/etc on them. But then the decorator in me came out and instead filled them with books and pictures and plants and decorate-y things.

Here’s a more pulled-back shot so you can see how the room fits together. Don’t mind the unfinished stair trim, handrail and door. Someday we’ll have all the woodwork painted :)

On the other side of the stairway is the entrance to the bedroom.

On the wall opposite the couch is the tv on a low shelf with storage baskets. This is where the boys keep the xbox, games, controllers and a million wires.

It is so nice to have this great room for the kids. They tend to hang out downstairs most of the time, but I like that I can send them up when they have friends over and it gives them one more spot to chill when they need space.

As I was taking pictures, I realized how hard it is to show how the room flows together. So I snapped over to the video setting on the camera and made you a video tour. Enjoy!

SOURCES

ceiling lights | couch (Costco) | coffee table (old) | pom throw | green velvet pillow | patterned pillows (Homegoods + made by me) | textured dot pillows | plaid throw | floor lamp (old, Target) | national park posters | poster frames | lego trough (farm store) | shelves (wood) + brackets | tv stand | beanbags | wall color: Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore | trim: Shoji White by Sherwin Williams

Thank you to Barn Light Electric for sending us the industrial ceiling lights. We didn’t want anything that would easily be broken by random flying objects (this is primarily a boy hangout zone!) and the caged double pendants are perfect. 

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Remodeling the upstairs with new carpet, paint + trim

At long last, we have new carpet, trim and paint on the second and third floors.

This was a big project we were hoping to do before we moved in last fall … but you know how things go … sometimes plans change.

Our closing kept getting pushed back and we were so anxious to just move in. On night one, we accidentally started a mini-makeover on the kitchen. Then we built a bedroom and playroom on the third floor. At the same time, we worked on finishing out the studio. Somewhere in there was Christmas and four out of six of our birthdays, gymnastics class and flag football, new schools, bible study, creating new classes, designing paper works … you get the idea.

Finally, in January, we decided to start the carpet/trim/paint project.

Here’s something you should know about me and Ryan: we are not fast decision makers. Choosing carpet was no exception.

We knew we wanted a loop carpet with a slight texture in a light-to-midtone warm gray. Durability was important, as was quality. At least we agreed on those criteria.

We went into a local wholesale flooring showroom we work with to pull options. There were a handful of carpets we liked but we really needed to seem them in the house to decide, so we ordered small samples of each of them. Once they arrived, nothing felt quite right.

So back to the showroom we went in search of new options.

This time we fell in love with the one on the right – a wool loop. I love a wool carpet and while most of the wools were out of our budget, this one was not. It was much darker than we originally wanted, but the idea grew on us.

When our carpet installer came by to check out the house and give us a bid and he urged us to not pick the wool. Mainly because there were a few necessary seams running in obvious places in a few rooms and he was not confident that they would look great with this tight of a loop.

We found ourselves back at the showroom yet again to pick another option. This time, we were pretty sure about what we needed, picked a textured loop in a nice color and placed the order.

Our final pick was Shaw Detailed Statement Loop in Textured Canvas. Whew. It felt great to finally make a decision.

Before we had the carpet installed, we wanted to repaint all of the ceilings and walls on the second floor (the third floor was already painted by yours truly). And since we were going to the trouble to have everything painted, we figured it was a great time to also replace all of the original oak trim.

So basically we had to move all of our stuff out of the second and third floors and pile it all up on the main floor for two weeks while the remodel was underway. We’re pretty used to chaos, so we didn’t think much about it.

Um … our house was a complete DISASTER.

Mattresses in the kitchen, temporary bunks set up in the family room.

Piles of furniture and beds and toys all stacked in the living and dining rooms.

Funny story: one night during all of this some girlfriends asked me to go out for dinner and I had to decline. My stress level was particularly high that night and one of my sweet friends suggested that I pour a glass of wine and relax in a bubble bath. Which sounded lovely except for the fact that our bathtub looked like this:

There’s nothing like a bathtub filled with clothes and deconstructed closet organizers littering the bathroom to put you at ease :)

It’s a little crazy to live in a house while it is being remodeled. Lots of patience and the ability to see past the mess is required. I was so looking forward to lightening up the walls, having fresh carpet and updated trim, that all the mess felt worth it. Short-lived pain for a big gain (or something like that).

We started by pulling off all of the trim around the doors, windows and baseboards. They just popped off with little effort.

Next came the paint.

To make things easy, we repeated the same white we used downstairs and in the studio – Shoji White by Sherwin Williams. It is a slightly creamy white with subtle gray undertones. All of the walls got an eggshell finish; ceilings in flat.

Next, the trim went up and old carpet came out.

The baseboards are 5.5″ and doors and windows 3.5″. I wanted a really simple framing around the doors and windows with just mitered corners. This is how we did the trim in the studio and I love how clean and modern it looks.

If we had more time, we would have had the trim and doors caulked and painted before the carpet went in, but alas, we did not. So a day later, the carpet installers came and worked their magic.

When you pick carpet in a showroom and don’t bring home a sample before ordering, you get a little nervous. Thankfully, it was just right and we were very happy with the choice.

The carpet is cushy, low-pile and a good light warm-gray. Per our carpet installers suggestion, we went with a good quality carpet pad with moisture barrier and because of the pattern in the carpet the seams we were worried about are nearly invisible.

Now that the walls, trim and carpet are in, the rooms feel so much brighter. And also cleaner.

We’re just waiting on having the trim and doors caulked and painted which will really finish up the rooms.

This very early 90’s window is not staying. It’s a shame to cover up natural light, but it must be done. Also, we sold our bed frame this weekend and now I’m on the hunt for a new one. Can’t wait to put our bedroom together!

Just for fun, here is a gif of each step:

It made a complete mess of the house, but we’re so happy with this clean slate!

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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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