Home Decor

Townhome Kitchen Renovation

It’s finished! We’ve been doing some work on our home to modernize it a little and make it more to our taste, and the biggest project yet, renovating the kitchen, is finally done! (Ok, the biggest project time-wise was painting. Holy cow, that takes forever. But this is one we’ve been saving up for and I’m so thrilled with the transformation!)

So you can really get the full effect: here’s a before from when we moved in.

Really, it already had charm. What immediately made me fall in love with this place was the sunshine and warmth — we visited it in the dead of a very snowy Wyoming winter. Previous owners had repainted the cabinets from an icky orangey-brown laminate wood color, which was awesome. But all that yellow and cream and more off-white… no thanks! And the sink was beat-up porcelain and stuck out from the counter quite a bit so there was always grime building up around the edges and water trapped behind the sink.

It just didn’t make financial sense to tear out and redo the kitchen completely — the cabinets are small and old, sure, but that’s a lot of money to throw into a townhome! But, we felt like we could do something. So we decided to just switch out the counter tops and add a back splash. We’ve been working on repainting the whole home from that buttery yellow (it’s actually a color that wasn’t so awful — at least it’s warm and sunny — but definitely dated and not my style), so that was going to help, and then we got a quote from a nearby contractor (these guys, if you’re local!) who came highly recommended. They were awesome to work with, and they helped us take it from that photo above…

to…

drumroll….

This!

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We were going for “bang for our buck” here, so I chose an upgraded laminate, and seriously, it looks so much like actual stone! It’s gorgeous!

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(It’s Wilsonart “Bronzite,” if you’re curious, with a premium finish — it has a little texture instead of being completely smooth)

As for the back splash, good old subway tile was a classic look and nice and cheap, plus I love it so I was happy to go with that option. The gray grout is what really helps it tie everything in, and I think it turned out just gorgeous! (Funny how little things make such a big difference)

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(Yes, we’re keeping the twinkle lights. Until spring comes back. Gotta hygge things up!)

The biggest usability improvement was swapping out the old sink with a stainless, single sink and a taller faucet. It makes SUCH a difference! For one, I can fit a casserole dish AND several pots and pans — at the same time! It also has very low edges, so cleaning around and behind it is easy. And the faucet is awesome. When we were renting our previous apartment it had an awful, super low faucet which made it really hard to do dishes in the already-tiny sink. We actually bought this same one and installed it there and it dramatically improved our quality of life (you laugh, but I’m not kidding. I was also super pregnant and it was a really hot summer and that small thing brought quite a bit of relief!) The owner reimbursed us for the faucet too! So something to consider, even when renting: you can do small things to improve the place you’re living.

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That’s kind of our philosophy about home stuff with Andrew: we generally agree to not take massive risks and keep resale in mind (OK I’m usually pulling for the crazier ideas and he’s reining it back to normal territory ha), but the other one is taking the pains to do it right and take care of what you have. Maybe this isn’t our forever home, but it’s worth making it into a cozy space and making it work for us with our family’s current needs. The cloffice is a good example of this!

The only thing we changed to the layout was to extend the counter top on the “peninsula.” There’s not a ton of storage space in this kitchen so I wanted to eventually add shelves beneath the end of the counter top, kind of like this.

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(Source) And I found the PERFECT, super cheap IKEA hack for it! (No seriously, it’s a $15 fix) I’m so excited, we’re picking it up this weekend! Of course it’s nice to have the extra ten inches of counter space. And pretty to look at, too!

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There you have it! A major kitchen upgrade without having to redo the whole thing and spend who knows how much on all that work. I think it was absolutely worth it, even if it might be considered putting lipstick on a pig. In this home, it was the perfect fit, and it really does feel like having a whole new kitchen. Even just swapping out the sink and faucet is huge! And removing the “back splash” ledge from the old laminate counter top gives us an extra inch of space, plus the white tile gives some more light to those corners. It’s just perfect for us. ❤

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Adelina agrees, and insisted on being in the picture 😉

We still have a few things we’d like to do in an ideal world: the appliances are getting old and I’m ready to be done with the ivory theme anyway, plus those globe pendants are something else, but one thing at a time. And I love that we made a big impact and really improved our day-to-day experience without starting all over and spending an arm and a leg.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Holidays · Home Decor

Deck the Halls! Christmas 2017 Home Tour

This town home of ours is quickly becoming a little paradise. I’m so grateful for a place to call our own that suits our needs and that we are slowly sprucing up. I feel like it’s a little diamond in the rough that just needed a little extra loving!

I realize few people dislike Christmas so saying “I love Christmas” isn’t much of a statement at all, but gosh dang it I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I love the lights and the glow and the cheer and the air thick with feeling, and the people trying to be just a little bit better to each other.

And I love that we get a whole month dedicated to trying to draw nearer to our Savior, one that’s especially heavy-laden with warmth and feeling. All the decorations aren’t just pretty things: they originally had specific meanings. Evergreens — everlasting hope and life. Red, the first Christmas colour. A friend shared this the other day: “It was used first by men of faith to remember the blood shed by the Saviour for the world. Christ has given his life and has shed his blood so that every man can have access to the gift of God, eternal life. Red is deep, vivid, bright, it’s the greatest colour of all, it’s the symbol of God’s gift to men.” The bells, ringing with joy at the good news, the lights, pointing to the Light of the World. (For more on how we’re working to teach all of this to our kids, check out this post for some ideas!)

With all that said, the decorating and the little traditions and the Christmas music sure are just plain fun, too! So off we go!

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I’m still working on finishing our stockings, but I love our little matryoshkas on the Christmas mantel. (And yay, we have a mantel!!)

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That painting up there is called Little Lamb by Jennedy Paige, and there is a beautiful description and story that goes along with it, you can read it here. It’s also special to me because our Jonas looked so much like this baby as a newborn ❤

There’s a funny story about this noël sign below: I got it from a local craft fair last year, but the artist hadn’t added the trema on the e so I just added it with chalk! Ha. I realize in the US most people just spell it “noel,” but I had to get it just right in our french-american household!

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Our tree is nothing fancy, but I still love it (and it nearly gave up on us this year after a heating-vent-melting-the-feet incident… but my husband saved the day with a hairdryer, ha!) We got it for our first Christmas with real jobs, after college 🙂

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I made the tree skirt a few years ago, we have several Christmas things I made with this cute collection of fabrics! The ornaments are a collection of memories like I’m sure most of you all have. The cowbell is from Andrew’s mission to Switzerland (which we went back to visit this summer, and now I’m in love…), the footprint ornaments are each of our kids (red for Jonas, purple is Adelina — we made hers at a DIY-pottery painting shop, but the second time around we were nowhere near any of that so I just ordered a package of paintable ornaments from Amazon and did it at home the day before we went to get his first casts! I’d like to get it glazed sometime so it’ll be a little better preserved.)

Adelina made the little jingle bell ornament at our library’s story time last year, back when she pronounced it “beaglebells!” ❤ And that western star up there is a nod to the Cowboy State we’ve been living in the last five years now. It’s also unbelievably heavy and needs a lot of help to prop up and stand up there ha!

Then we have a cozy corner or two and a basket full of Christmas books. I’m still working on building our collection, and the library is helpful too — we always find some fun books there! (I’ve written about this tradition and some resources back here)

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(Do you like miss relaxation’s cameo above? Ha! I made the red print pillow covers, and the text ones are Jane.com finds — I love the reindeer one especially!) Then there’s our advent calendar and the piano area with some Christmas music we’re practicing 🙂

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And this year I may have gone a little overboard and… decorated our kitchen for Christmas! But come on, who doesn’t need little mini-wreaths for their kitchen cabinets?! I love this version over here, and this was my original inspiration.

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Yes, one of our kids chewed off the corner on our Christmas card… ha. I’m honestly not sure which one did it either! I’m also super excited to get those counter tops and back-splash (re)done — it’s happening very soon and then we can finally finish painting the kitchen! And let’s not forget the countdown chain to Omi & Opi’s house 🙂 I plan to tape Christmas cards we receive to this pantry cabinet — I LOVE getting Christmas cards! And sending them, of course!

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And we had to throw in a little festivity upstairs too… Yes, Adelina has a homemade “Christmas tree” in her room!

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Ha! And there’s my friendly little pillow in the guest/Jonas’ room. My MIL is an awesome enabler of my sewing passion, she found this cute pattern! (more here)

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Well there you have it, thanks for stopping by!

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Home Decor · photography

Fall Mantel & Fall Fun

Before I go full bore into Christmas magic (because in full disclosure, our tree and Christmas decorations were up the day after Thanksgiving — the morning, even!) I wanted to share a little fall warmth too!

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There’s the change in the air outdoors, the slanted sun rays in the evening… and autumn is amazing for all that baking and those delicious, hearty soups… (some favorite recipes here) The kids agree!

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And of course, I love decorating for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Autumn in general. I’ve always been a Fall kind of girl — revealing summer clothes never really suited me, I much prefer some cute layers and boots and scarves, and all those fun accessories! Not to mention caramel is one of my favorite things in the world — it’s a family inheritance 😉

So now that we finally have a gorgeous mantel in our home, I can decorate it for the seasons!

Hold on, back up: I haven’t even blogged about this yet! My in-laws came in September while my husband was off at Coast Guard recruiter school for three weeks, and they helped me complete a ton of home projects, including that glorious cloffice. The other big one was my father-in-law helped me build a mantel for our fireplace!

It was all brick before, with an unfinished top — so bizarre! — and now it is gorgeous and I just love it. It completely changes the living room. That, and the new coat of wall paint my husband surprised me with while I was in France with the kids (amazing, right?!), and our home is coming along so beautifully ❤

Before, during, and after, all dressed up for Halloween! (And yes, those frames contain pages from a Martha Stewart magazine. Because, why not? And also I was waiting for some prints of our family photos this summer…)

Isn’t it amazing?! I’m so proud of this project — I designed it, then my father-in-law and I got to work and DID it, on our own! I just got tired of waiting on contractors — it’s a small town and hard to get things done around here, hence the frontierswoman spirit of “I’ll just hike up my skirts and do it myself!” Ha! I’m so grateful to my in-laws for their support in all the craziness. This blog tutorial was really helpful in coming up with the concept and details — although mine is slightly different since it had to fit over an existing top of mantel, so the box is snug around the top and sides of all that brick.

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The dream team!

Anyway, once Halloween was over I switched it up to more fall glory — and we finally got our photos up!

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I love that white pumpkin on the end. (Check out my thanskgiving tablescape over here for more fall decor!) And of course I got some good fall books from the library to read with my daughter and she LOVED the one about fall leaves — especially the raking and jumping in piles part 😉 — so we had to go execute on a gorgeous fall day!

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She especially loved that the neighbors had left out little kid-sized rakes, it was a blast for her to help out. I need to find some of our own for next fall!

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And this cute kiddo was happy to tag along, of course 🙂

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Was there ever a more cheerful baby?! I just love him!

Anyway, that’s a wrap on fall — I feel like we really got a chance to soak in the season.  (It helps we only had one major snowfall before Thanksgiving!) Now, on to Christmas cheer!

Home Decor · Organization

How we Converted a Closet into an Office!

We did it: we finally have a home office space! And yes, it’s in a closet. We affectionately dubbed it the “cloffice.”

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I’ll be honest: I’m really proud of how this turned out. This little project has solved SO many problems for us! My quality of life and efficiency has gone up so much since we finally solved this years-long no-office dilemma!

Yes, it’s a bit claustrophobic I suppose, but it works beautifully for us. This was SO worth it, it was actually really easy to put together and it has such a massive impact on our quality of life and effective use of space! This home has quite a few closets, and we’ve always had an ugly office desk sitting in our living room the last several years. We couldn’t figure out a better way though since we’ve never had enough rooms for an office — our son’s room already doubles as a guest room! And then I had a stroke of genius while scrolling through Pinterest late one night while Andrew was out of town (ha). It only took some paint, a few shelves, and some stick-on battery-powered click lamps, plus a trip to IKEA and the hand-me-down-store-of-mom-and-dad for some organizational items. And voilà! 

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I just LOVE how it turned out. It would be fun to do some removable wall paper or something to pretty it up, but already it is so convenient and neat. Everything is in one spot and we have so much more space in our living room to just breathe and enjoy family time. Work is contained to this tidy little space.

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A few notes on what we did:

  • There were already brackets for four shelves, so we just re-purposed one of them for the desktop and added an extra one for the smaller shelf. I measured the width and had boards cut, then painted the shelf ones. Boom, done. (Of course I first had to empty the closet and repaint it too, since we’ve been repainting the whole house… but it was a quick enough fix.)
  • We took the door off. I wouldn’t recommend leaving it if you’re going to have a computer in there and other electronics, they need room to breathe. We could put a tension rod and curtain to close it off if we wanted, but this space is pretty well-organized so looking at when I’m coming down the hallway doesn’t really bug me. 
  • We picked up the filing slots and bar with cups for pens from IKEA, as well as the white and gray floral bins above. The click lights are a battery-powered Walmart find. The batteries don’t last terribly long though so don’t forget to turn them off when not in use!
  • I used this cord protector kit (which I’ve also used in our daughter’s room in the past — it’s awesome for baby-proofing wires) to route the cord up to the printer on the first shelf, and I drilled a hole through that shelf for it.
  • Right now the computer is plugged in to an outlet just on the other side of the wall but we’re getting an outlet put in directly there so we don’t have to worry about Jonas deciding to unplug our computer!

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Someday if we have a dedicated guest room, I’d love to do this in a full-width double closet for a craft room/office type of space like this or this… once again, Pinterest sure has me dreaming!

Anyway, there you have it: our new closet office!

Home Decor

Nursery Reveal — Roman du Renard Fox Theme

We are expecting baby #2 any day now, so I thought we’d allow a little nostalgia for my first’s nursery — because there wasn’t much nursery decorating this time around since they’ll be sharing a room! It is so much fun to prepare and anticipate a little one. Hope you enjoy!

There’s a whole not-at-all-funny story about how we were up at SIX AM the day of the newborn photo shoot to move the crib back in and how it didn’t fit… but we’ll just not revisit that. Anyway… come along with me!

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Photos where you see me and/or Adelina (aka the good ones ha ha) are by Tracey Allred Photography from our newborn shoot, the rest are just pictures I took.

So the goal was a soft, somewhat neutral woodland theme based on a book my grandfather gave me as a child, with a feminine touch. But go figure, the colors I wanted aren’t super common in baby aisles; you’ll find a lot of pink, blue, yellow, jungle colors, and that’s about it. Although lucky for me, woodland themes are really popular right now so you can find a lot of owl stuff, etc. And it was so fun at the baby shower because everybody went nuts with the fox theme and there really were a lot of cute outfits with foxes on them!

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And a stinkin’ cute foxy cake! (Check out Frost Me Cakes by Nikki if you’re in the Casper area, she’s amazing!)

A lot of what you see in the room is handmade/DIY — in fact the only thing that isn’t homemade in some way is probably the furniture! It was so much fun preparing all of it, and a great way to prepare for a little one’s arrival 🙂

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The vinyl tree you see behind us was made and designed by my sister- and brother-in-law. Pretty talented! We’re still working on putting the other ones up because it’s struggling to adhere to the stupid wall texture (believe me, if I had had a choice to not have orange peel texture, I would have been all over it! But apparently “we don’t do that here”…) Anyway. Doing almost everything myself was also a great way to get a look I wanted for much cheaper. I was able to reuse/swap/get for free a lot of the materials.

The biggest expenses were the fabric (which was a gift from my in-laws) and furniture. The changing table was a gift from my sweet coworkers and the chair we already had as part of our living room set (gliders are EXPENSIVE!), so all that was left to buy was the crib, and I really think IKEA is such a great deal for this. (I found this review helpful, by the way)

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That would be virtually the cheapest crib there is out there, and we really like it. (All the sources are at the end of the post)

Here’s the book that inspired it all, and the coordinating blanket I made a while ago — with a dang cute baby inside 🙂

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For the quilt below I shamelessly copied one I really liked. It also just so happened to be the right color theme essentially, and I’m ok with that. Here’s the pattern I followed (sort of).

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The decor was really fun to make. I couldn’t find just the right colors of yarn (and they photographed a little funny too) but I got as close as I could. The letters are simply cut out from cardboard, then I wrapped them with yarn using a hot glue gun — those curvy ones were pretty dang tricky! And then of course there’s my awesome DIY stag (plastic christmas ornament, wood plaque, hot glue & spray paint: boom!), and a wood slice that I think is pretty nifty.

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It says “I am a child of God” in French. I found the wood slice at Hobby Lobby and burned the text in using one of those engraver tools (you can find them at craft stores, I borrowed someone’s). I wrote it in pencil first to make sure I had it where I wanted. Those tools are not easy to do curves with, by the way, but it turned out pretty cute 🙂

I also made the changing pad cover and curtains. We use those cloth diapers/burp cloths on top because “accidents” happen a lot… but it still ends up getting washed frequently! I should probably make a few more.

For the curtains I used that awesome pom pom trim at the bottom of each “stripe” of fabric. I wanted to just buy white curtains and sew strips on, but I couldn’t find some cheap enough, so I ended up buying a dirt-cheap white sheet at Walmart and using it for my fabric. Tadaa!

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And then there are animal silhouettes cute glued onto canvasses (I imagine mod podge would work great for these, I’ve just never shelled out for it — although I hear you can make your own for pretty cheap). I copied this little applique fox from Pinterest.

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I made this growth marker at a recent church activity (perfect timing!) and I love it. I need to properly attach it to the wall but in the meantime it’s not like she can stand up to it anyway! You can find tons of tutorials online for these, mine is whitewashed and then I stenciled on the numbers.

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I kind of like the little imperfections, can’t wait to document a whole family’s growth on here! It’s pretty crazy to think about.

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Mama and baby fox. I’ve been using the big one to document Adelina’s growth, it’s been pretty fun to see her from week to week!

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I stole that idea from my friend Iris, check it out!

There are still some things I’ll add with time — maybe a floating shelf, a few more wall hangings missing, plus a friend embroidered the most adorable little fox scene, but for now that’s it. Hope you enjoyed the tour, thanks for stopping by!

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Sources:
Crib: IKEA Gulliver crib
Changing Table: Walmart
Quilt, Changing Pad Cover, Crib Skirt, Curtains: handmade, using fabrics via Fabric.com (here and here are the two main ones I used)
Rug: IKEA Tejn Faux Sheepskin
Mama & Baby Fox: IKEA
Book: Le Roman de Renard