at home

our kitchen:: before and progress

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The kitchen has been (and continues to be) the biggest undertaking in the house. When we found this house, I was captivated by every detail-I was totally smitten. Which is why I totally ignored Josh as he kept saying “this kitchen needs work,” “there is no counter space,” and my favorite “there is only one drawer in the whole kitchen.” It’s like when you’re really in love with someone and you ignore all those annoying things they do like how they’re always late or they chew with their mouth open. I was blind to the kitchen’s faults.

So this is what we started with (again, these are all iPhone photos from before we moved in so they are poor quality, messy photos)

kitchen-before kitchen-before4

kitchen-before3 kitchen-before5

Charming right? ;) So yes, some glaring concerns like the color of that wall, total lack of storage and counter space, and some interesting layout concerns. Our original goals were this:

1- paint walls: As much as I’m all about a bright teal kitchen (I’m not), this room needed to be white. It was one of the only rooms I was able to convince Josh to let me paint white. The kitchen actually has the least light in the house (sadly), so white was the best way I could brighten it up.

2- add some storage and counter space: this was Josh’s big project, and I’m so grateful for a handy man because it has completely transformed the kitchen. We added a bookshelf, bar counter, kitchen counter, space for a microwave and toaster, and (soon to come) DRAWERS.

3-build kitchen table: We had so little furniture moving in, and we were a bit particular about what we wanted (and had limited funds to spare), so Josh built a lot of it. This includes our kitchen table.

Here is where we are as of today:


IMG_5012 IMG_5025

A total transformation right? I have to digress for a few minutes to praise Josh because he spent every single night in our little backyard shed putting the add-on bookshelf/counter top together. He completely designed it, put the plans together, and did all the manual labor. She’s a beauty, and so much more special because he built it for us. I’m a lucky girl.

We still have a pretty long check list left to do:


-finish kitchen table and build bench: We need to stain the kitchen table to match the counters and Josh is going to build a bench in the corner. I’m pretty excited about this, that was one of my big goals when house hunting-find a kitchen that we can build a “built in” bench. We’ll also need a few chairs or stools for the other side of the table.


-build shelves/drawers in built in: I should have included a picture, but right now, under that counter top is just empty space. We (by “we,” I mean Josh) need to do some electrical  work for the microwave and toaster oven and install the drawers. Fun stuff I hear.


-switch out knobs: I bought some that I loved and were perfect, but not actually perfect because they were gold and I realized the hinges were silver. Of course, I could switch out the hinges too. But this is a rental. When you’re working on a rental, there is this fine line between “reasonable spending on updates” and “remodeling for your landlord.” Sadly, switching out the hinges just goes too far. I’m learning to embrace silver, but I still want some knobs that aren’t so…dingy.

-minute shades for above the sink: Trying to decide what we want to do design-wise here. Do we go subtle or should they have a pop of color? I don’t want them to be too dark because we need as much light as possible in that room.


-style the bookshelf: Obviously, the shelf needs work. It has to be functional and pretty. Right now, it’s only function is storing the massive amount of wine we have left over from our housewarming. Who wants to come over and help finish?

-find a coffee/smoothie solution: The Keurig is in the attic right now while I’ve only been drinking iced coffee. The Ninja is taking up valuable real estate on our tiny counter. What I want is a coffee/smoothie station. The question is WHERE! The wall by the door to the hallway? Or by the window? IS there room? Is it cluttered looking? Realistically, I should wait until the table/bench is finished to get the sizing right, but I’m desperate for a solution, so I might do something with wheels so we can move it around until we find the perfect spot .

-art: I want something on that big blank wall where the kitchen table is, but WHAT? It’s such a big wall, so there is a lot of territory to cover.

-misc: There are a few other things we’ll probably cover, like possibly curtains/blinds above the kitchen table, something above the fridge (Josh’s request, not mine), a solution for that wasted empty space next to the oven, etc.

Same as the living room, we’d love to paint the trim and the ceiling, but it seems like such a big task (again, the renters struggle). We’ve resigned to the bowling alley-esque counter top (do we have any choice?) Other than those little nuances, I think our kitchen is shaping up pretty nicely :)

Here’s where I need your advice! 1-where should I put the coffee/smoothie station? 2-any suggestions on how to fill that wall above the kitchen table??

Catch up on our living room progress here.

our living room:: before

I’ve written three posts since we moved into our house a month ago. THREE. I honestly didn’t even realize it was only three until I went back to read the last post I wrote about the house and realized it was from the weekend we moved in. Technically, it’s four posts if you include the rambling I did this morning about balancing the busy and the happy. I missed this place and kept writing in my head which is probably why I didn’t know I had only written THREE times. In my head, I wrote every day ;)

I swear I’m not completely insane. Anyways, I’m here to talk about our living room because, like the rest of the house when we moved in, it needed work. Below is the only before shot I have of it . 1-I’m forgetful and 2-the second we moved in, I started painting it and moving things around and then it was no longer a before and only then did I realize there were no before pictures. Was that English? Point being, here she is, in all of her iPhone quality before-ness.

photo 2

I first fell for the white brick fireplace. I later realized it wasn’t actually a real fireplace, which was kind of a bummer (probably more for Josh than for me), but we have since moved on. All of this furniture is the landlords, so just picture this, but empty. Yes, still green.

So first things first, our original goals were this:

1-paint walls-we chose Behr Manhattan Mist, and every day I love it more. I wanted to paint the whole house white, but Josh insisted (strong armed) that there be some color. So sometimes it’s grey, and sometimes it’s blue, and depending on the weather, it’s also occasionally purple. Had you told me that last hue, I wouldn’t have chosen the paint, but I’m actually pretty fond of it.

2-buy rug-I believe I touched on this in a previous post but that was probably 5 years ago at my current rate of writing. I love Moroccan rugs, but I don’t love Moroccan rug prices. I stalked RugsUSA who has confusing sales because they are all really the same (so maybe that means they aren’t confusing at all). I couldn’t justify $600 for the rug I really wanted, even though I’m well aware that’s still very low for a great rug. We landed on this pup from Overstock and accidentally got the Trellis vs the Diamond that I wanted, but rugs aren’t easy to return. Plus, in person, it’s more angular than in pictures, so there is the third thing that has grown on me. Maybe I should change the title of this post to “Our living room: It’s growing on me.”

Kidding. I LOVE MY LIVING ROOM. Ok it’s out there now.

3-buy couch-Hah! I almost forgot about this battle because there have been so many since. When your budget is minimal, your couch options are sooo slim. I mean, I get it every advice giver out there, “Don’t buy an Ikea couch. You need to invest in a great couch and save everywhere else.” Which, okay yes, I get, but  what about when you need to save EVERYWHERE. Including the couch. People told me “Rooms to Go,” “Costco,” Josh tried to sell me on Craigslist, which I was even open to, but there was just NOTHING that actually looked good. So, as I’m sure you can guess, we bought an Ikea couch. And I haven’t regretted it for a second. It didn’t even have to grow on me because I always kinda loved it. Terrible instructions manual and all.

We do want to do the typical Pinterest hacks for the Karlstad. We plan on switching out the legs and getting the pillows upholstered, so that’s a future to-d0.

Besides art and all that jazz, those were really the main goals for our living room, and that landed us here.

before after




The progress is pretty great, but we’re still a bit of a ways to go which is a little scary since this is probably our most complete room.

  • upholster couch and switch out legs
  • finish coffee table: Josh built this, but the legs need to be shortened and it still needs a good stain
  • build TV stand: another Josh project (see: I’m the luckiest)
  • buy TV: we don’t have a TV, which makes the room feel a little empty and that really makes me a child of my generation
  • buy shades: I don’t want curtains because of the current window treatments, so I’m thinking just privacy shades.
  • change mantle art: this was all so temporary for the party. I mean, two frames don’t even have art. And there is a book about sailing and neither one of us sail. I was really in love with the books in the fireplace, but now I’m torn. If you’re still with me, do you think I should keep them?
  • shorten entry table legs and add art to the wall above: I should caveat that this is still set up from the party hence being flanked by two large man cave speakers. Honestly, we were considering keeping that wall pretty blank but this picture bores me to tears.

One thing you may be able to tell from these photos is the trim and ceiling need work, but the thought of painting them myself is revolting. I know painting the ceiling would go terrible. This house is a rental though (2 year lease), so it’s really not worth the investment for professionals. Thoughts?? Do I suck it up and paint it? Do I ignore it? Embrace the off-white trim and dirty looking ceiling? Also-the books, do I keep them?

rifle paper co wallpaper

The world made a cruel joke out of my daytime separation anxiety for my new house by putting me on bed rest with a terrible chest/sinus/entire body virus. Few things are as tough as having a laundry list of things to do and not physically being able to do them. So, as I crawl to the kitchen to attempt to make myself tea, I may or may not be covering my eyes to avoid the unpacked boxes and unpainted walls.

Lucky for me, my computer screen holds some distracting eye candy in the form of Rifle Paper Co.’s new wallpaper line for Hygge & West. Gosh, I can remember when Rifle Paper Co. was popping up in wedding blogs and the like. Anna has grown that company to this amazing brand, I have never seen something of hers I don’t love instantly. It’s probably a good thing I can’t wallpaper in this rental because I’d go pretty broke decking out the house in these designs. So behold, a bit of eye candy for you:

HW_Rifle_CitiesToile_RobinsEgg_Details_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_CitiesToile_White_Detail_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_CityToile_Ebony_Room_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Peonies_Copper_Detail_Web_5f90fe6e-a46a-4ebe-960e-ef1a71ba15fa_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Peonies_Mint_Detail_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Peonies_Yellow_Room_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Pineapple_Blue_Detail_Web_293b74eb-ce6b-40cb-82a1-b568efcd7c36_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Pineapple_Ebony_Room_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Pineapple_Yellow_Detail_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_QueenAnne_Blush_Room_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_QueenAnne_Ebony_Detail_Web_3a3e5382-9ca8-4bcd-a428-58d8301126ce_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_QueenAnne_RobinsEgg_Detail_Web_09cb5ac0-f3a0-4d6d-81fd-d03d9e5a9614_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Rosa_Hunter_Room_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Rosa_Indigo_Detail_Web_e80317cf-4e87-48df-b26e-63cae8aa56fc_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Rosa_Persimmon_Detail_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Safari_Blush_Detail_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Safari_Hunter_Detail_Web_1024x1024 HW_Rifle_Safari_SkyBlue_Room_Web_1024x1024

You can purchase the wallpaper directly from Rifle Paper Co. or Hygge and West. H&W does allow purchase of samples for $5 which is extremely helpful when picking out wallpaper, especially investment styles like these.

I love that safari print for a nursery, and the city guide design would look so great in a snazzy bar, but my personal favorite is the blue pineapple print. What about you, any favorites? If you’re planning to purchase, please tell me so I can follow along and see pictures and be green with envy!

first weekend home



After weeks of Pinning, planning, and living in various guest rooms, we finally moved into our new house this weekend. Let me tell you, we had grand dreams of painting the whole place, buying a new couch, and making things “livable” over the four-day weekend. HAH! It’s laughable to think at the progress I thought we would have made. Here’s a mini update peppered in with some iPhone photos.



We did paint. Some rooms. I wanted the whole house white. Josh didn’t even want to paint. So we compromised. It’s not really that fair to say we compromised considering these “colors” are almost white. The grey is Behr Manhattan Mist, blue is Behr Mineral Water, and that pretty shade of white is Behr Ultra Pure White. We tackled our bedroom, living room, kitchen, and half the bathroom before we ran out of stamina and paint. Still left on our list is finishing up the bathroom, the hallway, my office, and sadly, the trim and ceiling really need a fresh coat too.


The only room that is actually livable is our bedroom, but oh boy it makes me so happy. This blue is so peaceful, I love waking up here. (Don’t mind my moving bruises…)



On Saturday we took a break from painting to explore the neighborhood. I can’t stop thinking about how lucky we got with this place. Our only hesitation about this house was the location, but unexpectedly, the location is one of it’s biggest perks! We discovered this awesome park walking distance away. Plus, we can easily walk to bars, restaurants, a wonderful coffee shop, AND Morelli’s ice cream (we walked there twice this weekend, a clear indication I will never be bikini ready this summer ;) )



Just in time for Memorial Day, we put up our pretty American flag. Even though we have laundry lists of things to do inside the house, little details like putting this flag up or planting a tomato plant made a huge difference in making it our “home.”

20140527-122825-44905515.jpgUgh I love this neighborhood so much. How great is this mural outside our coffee shop? Have I mentioned- I CAN WALK TO MY COFFEE SHOP!


We took a lot  of breaks out on this porch, it’s so beautiful out here. Last night, we ate dinner on the porch, and we listened to the cicadas and watched the fireflies out in the front yard.

I really feel like the luckiest.



artful walls

Today, let’s talk about art. Mostly because Josh won’t talk to me about it any more. We are so stumped on what art to hang on our living room wall. Abstract? Watercolor? An illustration? Photography? Oh gosh, and don’t get me started on wreaths or antlers.

Okay, so here is what we’re looking at so far. The living room is the first room you walk into, so I want the room to look pretty clean. As you can see below, we don’t have a lot of color in here yet. Thinking we’ll add some deep blues to balance everything out. So what we’re looking for is something to place over the fire place. It’s a white brick fireplace, but ends at the mantel, not straight to the ceiling.

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Okay, so here are a few pieces I’m looking at.

BrissBassAbstract BrittBassArt

Of course I through Brit Bass in the mix. Gosh, she is so darn talented and right in my backyard. Honestly, I’m pretty sold on her work, but Josh isn’t crazy about abstract in this space. I don’t think he’s crazy about abstract anywhere…


We actually both agree on how awesome this Moby Dick painting is. Don’t you? But is it too dark for this space? I can’t decide.



West Elm Painting

The one thing we can agree on is water. The imagery and colors of water are perfect for this space, but in what form? Photograph of a high diver? Watercolor of the ocean? Watercolor of surfers?

Here is where I need your advice. What art should we put above our fireplace? Any of the above? Something I’m not thinking of? Should we go simple and do the antlers route? Switch it up with a mini gallery wall to combine a few elements?

being a great guest

Josh and I are 11 days away from moving into our new home(!!!), but that also means we are 11 days into staying with my sister and her fiance in their two bedroom apartment. I love all the extra time I get to spend with my sissy, but of course, it’s close quarters for four people. We’ve been grateful for seemingly opposite schedules and two bathrooms, however I’ve still been trying to be thoughtful with my presence in her home.


Whether it’s one night or long-term, being a guest in someone’s home requires a bit of delicacy and a lot of outward gratitude. On our first week night there, we cooked fajitas for everyone. We’ve planned a couple double-date nights, but also have been respective of their privacy and made plans out of the apartment for the weekend. We brought our own groceries (and store most of them in our room), toilet paper, and paper towels. These are all things that may seem like common sense, but the biggest difference (and saving grace the past 11 days) has been all of the extra touches we’ve taken around the house.


Cleaning up in the kitchen, replenishing the coffee jar, organizing the fridge, leaving treats, all things to spruce up the home a bit (and maybe distract the homeowners from the two extra bodies in their guest room). Kleenex helped me even more by providing their new line of Isaac Mizrahi Kleenex boxes to add some extra pops of color and style to the apartment.



I love all things Isaac Mizrahi, so of course he could manage to spruce up a Kleenex box too. Kleenex and Mizrahi partnered together to creative 4 designs intended to inspire your style. I may have even snuck one into the office too to add some fun to my desk. My sister thought these were such a fun surprise which is probably why she hasn’t gone completely insane having two new roomies the past week and a half.


Have you ever been a long-term guest? What gestures have you done to be a better guest? Hop on over to the Kleenex style finder and you can learn more about the Isaac Mizrahi collection and watch watch videos featuring Mr. Mizrahi himself where he provides his latest style advice and shares his own experience as a design leader for more than two decades. I wonder what tips he has for staying in your sisters apartment for 22 days….

This post was sponsored by Kleenex, but all opinions and obsessions for Isaac Mizrahi are my own. Thank you for supporting my sponsors who help me run this little blog of mine.