Kids’ Bathroom Mini Makeover

The kids’ bathroom remained the only honey oak cabinets in our house after we renovated our master bathroom last year. I thought that it was the perfect room to do something a little different in because the vanity is small and we can always repaint if we want. So, on a whim one week while B was gone, I picked up a quart of Benjamin Moore advance cabinet paint in Kendall Charcoal (same color as Graham’s crib) and painted when the kids were in bed at night. The next week while B was out, I painted the walls (Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter) and hung some shelves over the toilet, and then just this last weekend B installed a new vanity light and hardware for us. And we have a fresh little bathroom makeover for right around $300 (most of which went to the light).

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Here was the before: Honey Oak cabinetry, Hollywood bulb vanity light, and never painted builder-primed walls.

dsc02113   The whole point of this mini-makeover was to make the laminate counters and linoleum floors work with what I updated. I know no one likes laminate and linoleum anymore, but with kids who can’t manage to keep the toothpaste off the counters and 3 boys that will all be using this bathroom, easy to clean counter tops that I’m not worried about and no grout lines to scrub toilet misses out of are a little slice of heaven. I knew that I wanted to do the cabinets Kendall Charcoal, so I grabbed some greige paint swatches at Benjamin Moore and just held them next to the linoleum and picked a greige that was the same as the darkest gray in the linoleum, which just so happened to be Revere Pewter. It perfectly brought the beige and gray together and I love this color.

dsc02544 The shelves were fun – I needed something above the toilet but didn’t want anything that would stick out too much for kids to hit their heads on as they grow. These added just enough warmth and texture and let me add little moments of personality to the kids’ bathroom.

dsc02548 It was a simple little update to bring the bathroom up to speed with the rest of the house. Next Honey Oak on my list? The bannister. Oy.

 

A Navy, White & Gray Nursery…Take 2

Sweet baby Graham got a few tweaks to Peter’s Navy & White Rugby Stripe Nursery to make it his own. Peter was taking his crib with him to his new room (Tom and Pete’s shared room). So we pulled Nell’s turquoise crib out of the crawl space knowing we’d be painting it because the turquoise made the gray paint in the kids’ rooms read a bit turquoise. After keeping our baby’s sexes a surprise for rounds 1, 2, and 3, we found out that Graham was a boy at our 20 week ultrasound. So the turquoise crib went dark gray for baby boy McKevitt.

 kendall charcoal painted crib

We kept the navy and white rugby striped curtains my mom and I made for Peter’s nursery, the dresser I’ve used as a changing table for all four babies, and the paint stayed the same.

gray painted crib

If we could play a game called “Stupid stands stubborn Emily took that she should have just caved on in the beginning”, the glider in the nursery would be at the top of the list. Luckily, these are first world problems. But, really. When I was pregnant with Thomas, I was 25, married for a minute under two years, and having a baby a few years earlier than we “planned” in the midst of a bad economy. So I took a stand on not buying a glider and used the wooden rocking chair my mom rocked my sister, brother and I to sleep in in Thomas’s nursery. Two years later, Nell came along and I wanted to change the nursery up with more color and less brown, so I bought an IKEA chair that didn’t glide and used that in both Nell and Peter’s nurseries. When we announced that Graham was on his way, my mom said, “I am just buying you a glider, I love rocking your babies and it drives me crazy that I can’t rock them at your house.” Now, 2008 scarred me for life so I’m always going to be budget conscious and I picked the glider out when Target had a great baby sale in January, but that Caroline was right. Should have listened to her and let her buy me the glider 6 years ago when she offered the first time…or two years later when she offered again…or a year and a half after that when she offered the third time. Oh well, we’ll thoroughly enjoy it for this last sweet baby to make up for it.

gray glider in nursery

A new changing pad cover on the dresser I’ve changed all my babies on. I love this dresser (and the $30 price tag…told ya, that 2008-2011 Emily was scrappy with a penny).

antique dresser changing table

A sweet little magazine rack bookshelf right as you walk into the nursery.

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And the sweetest little pumpkin that occupies this room. Though we’re still working on getting him to occupy it all night long, he loves looking at his mobile and playing in his crib.

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And you all know I love a “big picture” picture to really give the lay of the land.  That’s our sweet Graham’s nursery.

navy gray and white nursery

To take a look back at all my nurseries: Thomas’s Brown and White Board and Batten Nursery. Nell’s Nursery with Painted IKEA crib. Peter’s navy and white nursery.

House Tour: Dining Room

Following up the Living Room tour from last week, let’s move onto the Dining Room. It’s not a huge room – it’s to the left of our front door when you walk in our home, opposite the living room which is to the right of our door. A dining room was a must have on my list when we were house hunting – but in actuality, we’ve eaten in here maybe 10 times in nearly 3 years. At our old house we used our dining room ALL THE TIME and therefore I didn’t want to move to a house without one. But, at our old house our dining room was part of our family room. In this house, the dining room is closed off enough from the kitchen that it’s just not the most convenient place to eat when we have a big eat at island and a dining nook in the kitchen. I’ve toyed with different plans for this room in my head a bunch – turning it into an office and letting our office be a playroom, closing off the entry to the front of the house and making this a big mudroom and project room since it’s right inside the door from the garage. But, it will probably just stay a dining room :). We’ll see what the future holds. Here’s the dining room now:

 

industrial cottage dining room

urban cottage dining room

And here’s a look back at what the dining room looked like when we closed on the house – we moved in on a Sunday and I painted over the red (with Benjamin Moore Gray Owl) on Monday. Later we switched out the chandelier for something a little less ornate. If this room stays a dining room, I think we’ll eventually add wainscoting to the room to add some charm and brighten the room up a bit – the one window in the room is small and off center and doesn’t offer great light.

And that’s the dining room 3 years later. Living Room and Kitchen are next up!

House Tour: Living Room

So, I’ve been meaning to update pictures of our house for years. We’re coming up on 3 years in our house, and I’ve just not gotten around to getting pictures of everything all in one place. But as I was taking down the very limited Easter decor I put up this year last week, I figured I’d snap a couple pictures as I went room to room and just get it all done. Now, as you know with me, this is imperfect. I believe in real and I believe in honest. I’m not a designer, I’m not a career blogger – I’m a casual, Colorado girl who’s current role in life is to provide a warm, inviting home for my family and raise these young pumpkins of mine to {hopefully} be kind, loving, upstanding members of society.  You will not find perfectly styled, magazine-worthy vignettes in my home. There are 5 (countdown is on to 6) humans and a golden retriever who live their lives in this house every single day. The floors are scratched, the walls are dinged, and any flowers I were to put in a vase would be demolished by a football in 30 seconds. We live here, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. There is likely a basketball or a coloring book under a chair here, there and everywhere. And I take pictures of full rooms because I think you should see a full room, not just the pretty pillows on the one clean section of the white sofa or a stack of pretty books styled to perfection (if you’re looking for that, move along right now. I don’t know how to do that :)).

We live in a suburb of Denver in a home that was built in the late 90s. You can see what the house looked like as we moved in here and after unpacking (and making do with some things that didn’t quite fit in this house from our last house) here. We spent the first year of living here neutralizing all the paint, and since then we’ve gotten rid of some furniture that just didn’t work, rearranged about 30 times, and bought a few new pieces to put a little more of our touch on the place.

Let’s start today with the Living Room. My goal is to get the first floor done and blogged about before #4 arrives in a few weeks. So here we go: You walk in the front door of our home to a pseudo-entryway and our informal “formal” living room. I love this space and we use it a lot. Since moving in, we’ve painted the walls (Benjamin Moore Gray Owl lightened 50% – when we repaint if I stick with Gray Owl, I will just do full strength everywhere. The lightened version looks a bit blue in certain lights) and replaced the curtains. Next on my list is to replace the blinds – the blinds that came with the house are all orange-y wood and were never my taste, but they were fine and did the job. But that front blind isn’t functional anymore, so it’s time.

urban cottage living room

industrial cottage living room

I took away most of my signature green accents in my house last Fall. Simultaneously, I just felt like something was off in our house, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. The rooms didn’t spark joy as I walked through them. In a use-what-you-have-and-for-the-love-brighten-up-the-house-for-Spring moment a few weeks ago, I pulled out my old green pillow covers and spruced up the pillows on the living room sofa. And bam! Energy and good vibes came flowing back through the windows. (Might also have something to do with the fact that green is returning outside and I’m a Spring and Summer girl over Fall and definitely over Winter…but regardless, green in my home makes me happy. So what if Pantone and their color of the year disagrees. Do what you love.)

white ektorp sofa ektorp sofa with pillows

The antique window I hung in our 90s cut-out niche is still one of my favorite things and adds character to a feature I otherwise don’t love in our home. And I love it even more since I hung that puppy long before I’d ever heard of Fixer Upper. Not that I was the first person to hang an old window, far from it, but you know…it’s the little things.

how to decorate a niche cutout

  green black and white living room  living room

 So that’s our Living Room as it stands today. Stay tuned for the dining room…

The Boys’ Shared Room: Navy, Gray & Rugby Stripes

We moved Thomas and Peter into a shared room the day after Pete turned 2. I shared my inspiration for the boys’ room a month and a half ago, so I’m back with the current final reveal. Here’s what the room looked like when it was just Tom’s room. Peter will move out of the crib sometime this year (no rush, baby boy!) and at that point we’ll have to figure out a new bed situation, so the goal was to make due mostly with what we had and simplify the room so that when it’s time to get rid of the crib, we have some wiggle room to make more changes if needed. So this is a “for now reveal” of the boys’ shared room.

gray owl boys room

boys shared room

 

I bought a new, lower bookshelf to act as a bedside table between the two beds. I hunted for a long time for a vintage piece on wheels to no avail. Finally, I was about to buy an IKEA 4×4 Kallax shelf and put it on casters, when I discovered that Target sells copies in a “wood” finish that I like a lot more than IKEA’s, and in a lot more size configurations. Love that Target and their knock-offs. The lighter wood tone is the direction I was hoping to go with the room anyway. My style has changed a lot since I bought the trundle bed for Thomas 4 years ago – I like a more collected look now – a little modern, a little vintage, far less traditional than I used to be, and their future beds will likely not be espresso – metal or painted, or who knows!?. I like that I have some time to decide on that.  We put the shelf on casters so we can wheel it out of the way to pull out the trundle bed when Nell wants to bunk with her brothers.

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I bought two of these trunk baskets to house the boys’ “treasures”. The texture is a nice addition to the room, the gray wood tone helps to tie in the new bookshelf, and Thomas is a bit of a “collector” and having a place for all of his stuffies so they’re not overflowing onto the floor was necessary.

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So that’s that. It was an easy and inexpensive re-do, and works really well for the boys for this stage of our lives. No telling what the room will look like in a year when Pete’s out of the crib, but this is the boys’ room for now!

Room Sources:

Paint Color: Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

Bed: Similar to Pottery Barn Elliot Bed

Crib: Similar to Pottery Barn Kendall Crib

Trunks: IKEA

Bookshelf: Threshold by Target (casters added)

“Brave” Canvas: Hobby Lobby

Master Bathroom Remodel

At the end of October, we started our Master Bathroom remodel. You can see the before pictures in all their carpeted glory here. This was a complete gut job, and one we hired a contractor to complete. I knew exactly how I wanted the bathroom to look but we needed a bit of expertise on how much we could expand the shower. I handed my vision over to the company we worked with then met one of the owners at a local store the company works with where I picked tile, counter tops and finishes. Things like the bathtub were pretty easy – there were only a few tubs that would fit the footprint we needed it to fit, so we had limited options, and love the tub we ended up with. For cabinetry, I specified white, shaker-style cabinets and a cabinet between our sinks, the cabinet company sent us a mock-up, I had them add feet to it, and we were off and running. It was a pretty seamless process (to get started).

The remodel took about five weeks, plus an additional month waiting for a replacement cabinet for between our sinks to come in (though we could use our bathroom for that unforeseen extra month, so it wasn’t a huge deal). It should have taken about 2 weeks (plus another 1 -2 for the shower glass to come in), but there were a couple hiccups along the way. It all worked out in the end, and we are so thrilled with the final result. The biggest luxury we added was in-floor heat. I still brace myself every time I step foot on the tile, and then realize it’s warm and throw a little party in my head. And that freestanding tub, it’s a dream. So pretty and simple – I was a little hesitant to lose the big (eyesore) corner tub that I could easily bathe all my kids in, but this tub has plenty of room for the kids…and Quattro when he arrives. There were other things we added that just made the room. When the cabinet plans came through, I asked if we could add simple feet so that it would look more like a piece of furniture. We replaced all of the baseboards and trim in the room with simple wide trim. It’s exactly what I envision for the rest of our house – someday.  I love our concrete style tile floors. I wanted gray plank tile flooring, but I specifically wanted a more concrete looking tile, not a wood grain tile. Turns out, the wood look has saturated the flooring market and it’s really hard to find plank tiles that don’t have a wood look. It took a long time to find something that fit my vision, but when I saw this tile, I knew it was perfect. Our gray quartz counters remind me of our quartz counters in our old kitchen, though they’re a bit lighter gray and made by a different brand I can’t recall. In fact, I’m sorry to say I don’t know the brands or names of most of these things – I picked what I liked, physically handed my choices to the contractor, and they ordered them.

Enough talk, let’s just get to the pictures.

 

 

 

When B and I were shopping before we hired the contractor to get an idea of what we’d be spending on materials, I realized that B was very drawn to everything modern, and I was drawn to more traditional elements. I loved the classic, almost throw-back faucets, while B loved the ones where you could see water pouring out. I loved classic white subway tile, B loved the big modern tiles we saw. So, we compromised. We went a little bit modern, a little bit traditional. We picked a modern version of white subway tile – 4 x 12 with gray grout to make the tile really pop. Instead of a classic clawfoot tub, we went with a more modern freestanding pedestal tub that has a nod to traditional elements, but is sleek. The gray quartz counters add a more modern edge than the marble-esque quartz I also love would have. We went with classic cup pulls (from Pottery Barn) and more traditional fixtures (the Cassidy collection from Delta), but in shiny chrome. I think this bathroom was a perfect exercise in blending two preferences and coming up with a bathroom we both adore.

I added some natural texture and warmth to the room in the form woven shades, a woven waste basket and a rustic basket for holding our TP. I knew that with the gray and white room, we could easily end up with a cold feeling room. But adding the natural texture and a bit of brown helped to warm up all the cool tones.

All the hiccups that come with a project behind us, we are beyond thrilled with the result of our bathroom. It’s by far the nicest room in our house now and has me scheming big time and dreaming about things we could do to the rest of the house. Maybe someday – right now all of our extra saving will likely go to a minivan. Because, Quattro.

Master Bathroom Remodel: elfa Walk-In Closet

ELFA custom white closet

As part of our master bathroom remodel (almost done, but we’re waiting on a cabinet that needed to be re-done to come in before we can officially call it done), I worked into our budget a customized elfa closet from the Container Store (this is not a sponsored post, though that would be awesome). After elfa-ing our laundry room last year, I was sold on the efficiency that is the elfa system. My good friend works for the Container Store, and she was over one day while I was talking to her about our bathroom plans. I took her upstairs to see our closet in person – sometimes the dimensions of a room only tell you so much. She took a look at how we used our closet. I had a long hanging rod that had almost nothing on it since I fold almost all of my clothing. I had a small freestanding elfa drawer to hold my jeans and workout clothes, but it wasn’t a sufficient amount of storage and everything spilled over. B had double hanging space that was stuffed into a tiny area because our closet door opens to hide half of his side of the closet. B also has a (self-proclaimed) hat and jersey hording problem. He has jerseys and hats that he collected as a kid that he understandably doesn’t want to part with. But because he doesn’t wear them, they just took up valuable real estate in our closet before. And our lack of a system for containing that collection just looked sloppy.  Our shoe shelves were front and center when you walked into the closet, but weren’t laid out very well for our needs. So basically, we had a big closet with an awkward angled wall and no function.  In fact, before this closet re-do, I was adamant that walk-in closets were a waste of square footage.  I’m still not sure they’re not a bit of a waste of square footage, but now that our closet is functional I have a brand new appreciation for it.

So, together with my friend, we came up with a solution for our closet. Lots of drawers for me with a little bit of short hang and a small section of long hang (Colorado girls don’t need much long hang – we’re not a formal bunch!), a bit more hanging space for B but also some drawers. And lots of shelves behind the door to store things that we don’t access very often, but want to have on hand.

Here’s what we were working with before (mostly cleared out for our bathroom remodel and with a pint sized blonde running around, but you can still see the layout):

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See all of B’s hats and jersey’s up there on that top shelf?

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And here was our closet before anything was moved back in. We decided to install the closet ourselves and it took us about a day. 1/2 a day to take down the old stuff, patch and paint the whole closet bright white (what a difference truly white makes is a closet compared to the yellow-y white builders use!), and 1/2 a day to hang the new stuff.

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The great thing about elfa is that it’s changeable. So if when Quattro starts school in 5.5 years, I decide to go back to an office job (or maybe get a job at the Container Store to subsidize my elfa habit…) and my wardrobe requirements become a bit more formal, I can switch out some drawers for more hanging space. Or if we decide B needs more drawers, we can move his pant hanging space to behind the door and add another set of drawers next to his existing drawers.

custom ELFA closet with drawers

These drawers are my favorite things and probably the number one reason in my mind to go with elfa over many other closet systems. When we were interviewing bathroom contractors, one guy said “I’ll redo your closet, too. Build you some nice wood shelves.” And I said, “I’m good, I’ll wait for the elfa sale, I need drawers”. I fold the majority of my clothes (as evidenced from my tiny hanging space allotted in the photo two down), and these drawers keep everything in the closet so that I can get dressed in one spot. These have eliminated our need for a dresser in our bedroom altogether. Drawers are also the most expensive way to store your clothes, so there’s that. But in my mind, it’s worth every penny. I did tell B the other day, “If we ever DO move [NOT our plan, just talking hypothetically], we should totally take the drawers out before we list the house, replace them with hanging rods and move them with us since they’re the most expensive part of the whole system.” B politely smiled and said, “Or we could just not worry about that right now.” Probably wise, that down-to-earth husband of mine. It’s why we make a good team: his living in our current reality, and my not-so-much.

custom elfa closet with drawers and hanging space

Here’s my half of the closet. I love that it’s customized to how I keep my clothing now. And that I’m not pigeon holed into keeping this setup forever if my needs change.

ELFA closet shelves and hanging space

My friend and closet expert talked me through a couple trouble zones. Instead of giving valuable drawer space to my swim suits, for example, I bought some canvas bins to hold all of the things that we don’t access on a daily basis, but need to have nearby. The beauty of this is that it makes things easy to switch around for the seasons. I have started folding my sweaters, but there’s very little sense in devoting a whole drawer to my sweaters May – September in Colorado, so I’ll probably swap my sweaters into the bin and replace my swim suits and cover-ups in the drawer for the summer months. I have a bin for swim suits, a bin for tights, a bin for bags I’m not using at the moment. And lots of shelf space for more bins as the need arises.

organized walk-in closet with ELFA

Those same canvas bins hold B’s everyday hats, his sentimental hats and jerseys, and his logo shirts for work events (that he has to wear about once or twice a year for when he’s representing the company at an event, so didn’t need to be taking up room hanging or in a drawer he accesses daily).

closet redone

For our shoes, we decided to install elfa’s gliding shoe racks. B and I are clearly not shoe people as this is as full as they are at the moment. The shoe racks are awesome, and definitely more convenient than standard shelves that we always tended to just pile extra stuff on. I keep my heels (which I wear only for special occasions) in clear shoe boxes above my long-hang. Above the gliding shoe racks are more shelves. Here’s where I keep my bin for extra handbags and snow gear, and also where we will most likely keep out of season clothing (neatly stacked in bins of course :)) as needed. Right now we keep our entire wardrobes in the closet year round, but this system allows us to move to a more seasonal closet if we want to.

So, that’s our closet today. We installed this system a little over a month ago and I can say with complete honesty that it has stayed this organized since the day we put everything back. I didn’t move a single thing when I took these photos (which is why my orange striped sweatshirt hanging above is out of color coordinated order!) That, in my mind, is a closet organization success.

Once again, this is in no way shape or form a sponsored post, but the elfa closet sale (30% off) is going on right now if you are in the market for an organized closet yourself. I’m trying to justify the cost of elfa-ing Thomas’s closet since he and Peter are going to share that room in a few months. But after the major spending that our bathroom and closet remodel entailed, I think I’ll just save up for next year’s sale :). Let’s just be real about the cost: Our closet wasn’t cheap. Even with the sale it comes in at a pretty penny. To be honest I haven’t priced out other closet systems, so I have no idea how they compare.  But, even B, who I’m pretty sure just went along with this because I was so passionate about it told me that it’s been life changing. He’s also asked me if he’s allowed to actually use the shelves or if they’re just supposed to stay empty. Jury’s still out on that one.

Master Bathroom Reno: Before

This week we started our first big renovation at our house. The closest we’ve gotten to a big renovation before was our kitchen in our old house – I painted the cabinets, did a DIY subway tile backsplash, and we had new countertops installed. This time? Our Master Bathroom. This project is a huge one, and we’re not doing it ourselves. We know our limits – a backsplash? Yes. A small bathroom shower? Haven’t tried it, but I think I can and I will happily re-tile the kids’ bathroom shower (and am planning on doing it, their square bisque tile shower is starting to bug me more and more, but that will be awhile since our money and energy is currently focused on the Master. We can only lose one shower in our two shower house at a time!).

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We actually knew immediately after we moved in that we wouldn’t do this job ourselves. Originally we thought we’d just replace the carpet with radiant heat tile floors and that I thought we could probably do ourselves but from a time is money standpoint we could just as easily hire out, but as we lived with the bathroom for a bit, we realized there were a lot of issues that needed to be addressed. Like, apparently our shower door has been broken since before we moved in. It stopped fully closing earlier this year, so when B and I sat down to prioritize our savings for 2015, we agreed to fast track saving to gut and remodel our bathroom. We had the funds that we’d been quoted back when we got a “Let’s just see what it will cost” quote back in 2013 when we moved in by April, and then we just kind of waited. When our shower door really stopped closing this summer (like, we couldn’t even force it anymore), we decided it was time to find a contractor and get started. I knew exactly what I wanted and had the plan, I just honestly had no idea where to start. We toyed with being our own general contractor on this project, but as I had no experience with this scale of project, that didn’t seem prudent. So we interviewed lots of contractors. And very few returned calls when they promised to. And many were so slammed with work that they just weren’t taking on new projects this year. The real estate market in Denver was crazy this summer, and it appears so was the home remodeling market. After many flaky contractors paraded through our home, we ended up calling a company that B knows one of the owners of through some community work he does. I assumed they’d be way out of our price range because they build and remodel luxury homes in far fancier neighborhoods and towns than we live in. They came out and are working nicely with our budget, and actually came in at a similar number to what the contractors who had all flaked quoted us, too – and they did all the ordering and coordinating. We’re getting far nicer faucets and tile than I would have picked at Home Depot and for not much than we would have spent buying all of that on our own for the other contractors we interviewed. Lesson learned? Sometimes it pays to hire it all out.

So, our bathroom. The first thing that needed to go was the carpet. That was a given. Once we realized the shower wasn’t functional, we decided that we’d probably rather have wall tile that was “us” instead of beige builder squares circa late 90s/early 00s. So, knowing we’d replace the wall tile, we figured we’d redo the counter tops since the tile was also our counter top surface. Which just left the big corner bathtub and vanity in the space. The gargantuan tub is luxurious, but an eyesore. It’s also so big it’s hard to clean. And impossible to open the windows behind the tub. So, while we didn’t have to replace the tub like we did the shower and flooring, once we realized we were going to be doing a full scale renovation anyway, we figured it was worth it to spend a bit more and get an awesome tub that looks nice, too. I was going to reuse the vanity and just repaint it, raise it up a few inches to counter height, and build some shelves in the cutout. But when I mentioned this to the contractor we ended up going with they said, “So, how about for close to the same amount of money that it would cost to do that project, we just replace the cabinet with something you actually love?” Oh. Okay. Yes, let’s do that.

So, that’s a lot of talk to basically say, we’re starting our big bathroom renovation. Since I’ve never shown much of this room on the blog before, here are some (iphone – big camera is still broken) before pictures in all it’s carpeted, orangey-oak glory.

 

Here’s a panorama to try to give an idea of the whole space. It’s a weird room. We can’t change the actual footprint of the room much, but we can drastically improve upon the materials and appearance. You walk into the bathroom and there’s a nice linen closet on your right, double vanity past that, corner tub, and small shower, with a toilet room next to the shower. The closet is accessed through the diaganol wall to the left of the photo below, next to the toilet room. The long wall opposite the vanity has towel bars and that’s it.

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So, that’s the dated before. I’ll share photos again when the whole project is done, but I’m doing the occasional update over on Instagram (my account’s private after I got some weird comments a few months ago, but just request me and if your name is recognizable and you don’t post pictures of women’s feet, I’ll likely confirm you ;)).

Nell’s Big Girl Room

I just posted that I’m not really blogging anymore, but then I was clearing out the camera card before our vacation and realized I had pictures of Nell’s room that I could share. The shelves in her room aren’t styled (and probably never will be), but you all can overlook that, right? Last time I showed you Nell’s room, I had a 3 year old (enough said) a 1 year old and a colicky, refluxy 1 month old who screamed 20 hours a day. I can’t believe I pulled that blog post together. 16 months later, I have a sweet, helpful 5 year old; 3 year old (still enough said) and a wild 17 month old.  And I’ve given up on “pulling” any kind of blog post together. So how ’bout some quick pics and a few words here and there instead?

I bought a Jenny Lind bed off of Craigslist last month, and that was the impetus I needed to get Nell’s room whipped into shape. The bed was in great shape and I decided to keep it walnut – I love an old piece of furniture in every room, and I love a little bit of real wood tone in every room, too. With the bed came a vanity. It was in really bad shape and needed to be refinished, and I didn’t really like it. So I figured I’d chalk paint it and if still I didn’t like it, I’d sell it. And what color did I paint it? Raspberry pink.  Remember when I said there’d be no pink just because I had a girl? Yep. Feel free to laugh at me. I’ve embraced pink. The mirror on the vanity bounces light around her room nicely, and Nell loves her “pink desk” – she calls it a desk, and I don’t think my three year old needs to know anything about makeup and vanities, so we’re rolling with it.

raspberry and navy girl's room

painted jenny lind

My approach to decorating kids’ rooms is similar to my approach to the rest of my house – I keep the walls and bigger elements neutral and pretty classic and always include an antique or two (usually in their natural wood tones) in each room and then I have fun with the less expensive pieces. I don’t do theme rooms for kids in the sense that they have a theme comforter, themed artwork, and decals on the wall, but I bring their personality into the rooms in colors and the occasional art piece. Nell LOVES pink – I tolerate it. So, she has a quilt with some raspberry in it – a more tolerable shade of pink for me, but the quilt has lots of other colors that we played up throughout the room. The navy especially helps balance the raspberry for me, and ties Nell’s room in nicely to the rest of the house.  Nell’s bed and furniture are all old and I tend to like more of a mix of old and new in furniture, so I made sure that the patterns in her room were bright and colorful and modern to help keep her room from feeling heavy. Bright white roman shades on her windows also look clean and tailored and keep the feel of the room light.

 

navy raspberry and mint girl's room

 

 

window seat in girl's room

Confession: I never actually sewed the cover for Nell’s window seat, just wrapped the fabric around it – as you can see in the photo above. It’s on my list of things to get to this Fall.

pink mint and navy girl's room

So, that’s our Nell’s room. It’s one of my favorite rooms in our house. It’s also the only room in the house that has any pink in it. I must be going soft :). Tom’s room is my current project – I’m updating his gallery shelves and tweaking the layout a bit to be more functional for our kindergartner. Unbelievable.

The State of the Exterior: Summer 2015

I didn’t think I’d blog about our landscape progress because year one of any landscaping project isn’t that exciting in picture form. Plants take about 3 years to really establish their root system, so by the time Nell’s in Kindergarten, our yard is going to be awesome! But, in the interest of having pictures to look back on and documenting these projects we love, I thought I’d do an “in the beginning” post. I mentioned a few months ago that we hired someone to help us come up with some plans for the front landscaping – I don’t know plants. I know what I like when I see them full grown and in bloom, but in terms of just knowing plants, that is not my gift. The problem is that I did have a vision for outside, but I couldn’t articulate it well – so we decided to hire a landscape designer that our friends used to give them a long-range plan rather than piece it together little by little.  We didn’t want a complete overhaul in terms of the landscaping – I wanted to leave rock beds where they were, etc – but the landscaping at our house was pretty dire and short of just planting some stuff and seeing how it did, which B is okay with but I don’t have patience for, hiring an expert to just give us a cohesive plan seemed like the best use of our limited time.

front landscaping progress 2The first summer we lived here, B pulled out a dead creeping juniper shrub to the right of our driveway and he planted a few plants that Home Depot had left over at the end of the season, and we called it good for awhile. The next year, I bought some Endless Summer hydrangeas at Costco and planted them in front of the garage, but it became clear quickly that the crab apple didn’t provide them with nearly enough shade from the hot afternoon sun.   Over the winter, two pitiful shrubs on the left side of our driveway that we never really loved finally gave up the ghost, so we decided that the blank slate we were left with was the perfect time to bring someone in to give us an overall plan. And now we’re putting it into place.

 

Working with the landscape designer was so easy. She came over, chatted with me about my style and preferences, and then came in for a cup of tea. I told her I’ve always called our style “Urban Cottage” but with a Colorado twist. She totally ran with it, giving us shrubs that produce hydrangea like flowers but that will do much better with our hot West facing Colorado exposure. She suggested great perennials that over the next few years will spread over our rock beds and create 3 season interest and help to soften all that rock in front of our house, and she gave us some great recommendations for compact conifers that will help block some of our neighbor views and add greenery year round without growing too big for our front yard.

We’ve planted all the perennials the designer called for, and are now waiting on trees and a couple of boulders. I fear we’ve missed our window of opportunity for the summer, but we’ll see what the weather forecast brings because I know that getting the trees in will make the biggest difference and I would rather not wait until Fall. The first year of any perennial is always unimpressive, but I can tell already that when everything matures we’re going to have a great, 3 season landscape.

landscaping progress

I’m most excited about the part of they yard in front of the garage (above). Those shrubs will get pretty tall and grow into each other. They have gorgeous bright green leaves and pretty white flowers and I am already in love with them, but I know that I’ll love them more as they grow. I’m excited for the smaller perennials  to get bigger and lend some color throughout the summer. There’s another portion of this rock bed that’s planted bordering our neighbor’s yard, but the plants are so small it’s not noticeable from the street yet.  We’ll have a smaller scale evergreen in the back corner next to the garage to help soften the view of our neighbor’s house from the front, and a great boulder or sitting rock in front of it. I can’t wait.

front landscapingHere’s a look at the entire front yard. To the left of the new shrubs will go that compact evergreen I mentioned and the sitting rock, and there are already some perennials planted even farther to the left, but, again, they’re not much to look at just yet.  To the right of the driveway is a small garden where that dead creeping juniper bush was. It was unpleasant to look at, and we’ve planted perennials in there as well that just need some time to grow, but will add an ornamental tree to add some height to that side of the yard just as soon as we can track down the one we want. We have grasses for year round interest, and I’m feeling a little bit impatient, but the planting process is so fun that I think that helps. Back next to our neighbors’ fence on the right side of our house we will add a small hedge of narrow trees – that height and greenery will be awesome.

Eventually, B and I would like to have the cement strip between our driveway and porch removed and add a garden in there to break up all the concrete (funny because the original homeowners took out a garden there to add the cement – not the best for curb appeal, but practical for backing out of our side garage), and when the kids are older we’d love to add a porch railing. We talked about doing that last year when we painted, but decided against it for this stage of our lives. Our kids are little and they need us frequently, and it’s so nice to be able to see the kids riding bikes on the sidewalk from the porch and get to them in a second if someone falls.

So, that’s the state of our outdoors for now. I’ll be sure to post an update when the little tiny trees get planted. So that 3 years from now we can look back and see where we started 🙂