Kitchen in Progress

posted on: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We worked all weekend long on the kitchen and I am super excited about how much we've gotten done so far. I honestly thought this project would take a month of weekends to complete but I think our one solid weekend and a few miscellaneous weeknights here in the near future and we'll be all set. On a side note, thank goodness for video games, power rangers, bowls of ice cream and other such distractions we let the children indulge in freely the last few days so we could get this done. (One weekend with out ever changing them out of pajamas won't kill them, right? I mean, we were snowed in anyway).

So here's where we're at and some progress shots I took along the way...

The wallpaper border is down and there's no more superfluous light over the back door! (Also, that red wall color you see peeking through is next on my hit list ;)

The upper cabinets came down and the paint started to go up. (Not shown: hours of patching, sanding and hardware removal. I'm telling you, it's not the painting that's the pain, it's the prep!)

So, until last night I hadn't decided on a wall color and since we we doing white on all the trim, wainscoting, cabinetry and doors it was easiest to just throw white on the walls while we went. And after much deliberation I finally settled on a wall color (SW Aloof Gray) and now that we're done with almost all the trim and given it sufficient time to dry, I think we're safe to go back and tape it all off to do the walls. I'll probably start in on that tonight if I can rally myself after work

This light was gifted to us at christmas from my dad and stepmom and I was so excited to see it finally up. I ordered it from Schoolhouse Electric and it's nice because they let you customize cord length, glass color, finish etc. so you get exactly what you want. I love how simple and classic it is.

We got the open shelving measured out and hung on simple black brackets. The big debate is deciding whether to stain the shelves or paint them white. (Thanks to all who chimed in on instagram last night!) Josh wants to stain them, but I'm thinking once the walls are painted they'll look best painted  out white like the rest of the trim. Of course, we can always stain them and if we don't like the way it looks, go back and paint them out. But, I'm waiting to see the room with the wall color up before making the final call. 

We put up a new light to replace the fan and dropped off the remaining upper cabinet doors to have the etched glass inserts switched out with plain. We should get those back today or tomorrow and then we can finish up that last side of the room.

I couldn't resist throwing a few plates and glasses up on the shelves to get an idea of how they will look once they're done and styled and I'm loving them already.  A few more days of work and some accessories and this kitchen will be done! Or at least phase one done, but I'll take it for now. More updates coming soon!


Our Kitchen. The Official "Before" Post

posted on: Friday, January 24, 2014

Hi friends! I'm back from a very long, very unintentional blogging break. Not sure what happened there. The only excuse I have is that I've found myself in the throws of the January doldrums and there has been simply nothing exciting to report. The schools were cancelled today and temperatures are in below zero digits and we're facing a weekend of more of the same, but with maybe a foot of snow too. So, in light of this crummy forecast and on top on having absolutely zero plans for the weekend anyway we have decided to tackle phase one of the kitchen renovation starting tomorrow! Actually, that's sort of a lie, we've already done a few things here and there in the past couple of weeks, but the painting starts tomorrow, and that's the biggest part.

So, like any good blogger I put together a nice little collection of "before" photos so we can all marvel at the transformation after it's done one day soon, hopefully soon ;)

These are the official, OFFICIAL "before" photos because these were taken before we even moved in and all of the previous owner's stuff was still in place. (Meaning: please do not judge me for those knick knacks, they aren't mine!)

So the plan going forward is pretty simple. We would love to one day rip out the existing countertops and lay a new floor but that's big money and frankly there are more pressing uses of said money in other areas of the house at the moment so that's why we're calling this "Phase one". So while the floor and counter are certainly not ideal, they're liveable and for now they're staying. Phase one consists of the lighter cosmetic stuff we can do ourselves and on a pretty small budget.

1. Paint everything bright white.

I'm kind of in a white phase right now and I want everything clean and bright and uncluttered. The cabinetry now is painted a creamy, off white shade which doesn't mesh with all the bright white I have going on everywhere else in the house. It has to go. (Besides which, these cabinets could really could use a fresh coat of paint regardless of a color change).

2. The glass front uppers are cool, but the fancy schmancy scroll detail etched into the glass panels is not. Kind of hard to see in this picture, but I'm just going to have my glass guy swap them out with plain glass. Simple.

3. Open Shelving
Turning to our left now, you can see below another wall of cabintery with more glass front upper cabinets above. Those bad boys are getting ripped right out and replaced with open shelving which I'm totally pumped about. I think it's going to make the kitchen look completely different and way more updated and modern. The kitchen has all new appliances already which are top of the line and awesome...other than the dishwasher. It's an old white one that doesn't match the stainless we have everywhere else. It's also a complete piece of garbage and barely functions. It's not on the immediate agenda to be replaced but I have a feeling it will be happening sooner rather than later. Josh miiiight "accidentally" take a sledge hammer to the thing while ripping out the upper cabinets this weekend and I promise I'll look the other way when he does. The good thing is though that once the surrounding cabinetry is all painted white it will at least blend in a little better until the time comes for it to meet the curb.

3. Remove wall paper border

Kind of goes without saying. I'm including this as a techinical "before" photo although the truth is I actually already ripped that border down two weeks ago with the help of this kit I bought off amazon after having it recommended to me by one of our wallcovering reps. It still took a full day to get it all down, but the stuff does work.

4. Replace all the light fixtures.


(Admittedly the day we moved in I scrounged up some leftover kitchen paint from the basement reserves and painted over that jesus quote immediately. I'm just not of the camp that believes in using the finishes of your home to literally express your religious beliefs. (NO) thank you very much.)

5. Miscellaneous updates.

Which is to say, fix all the little weird things that keep this space from being cohesive and well-designed. Like for instance that weird little light hanging flacidly over the back entrance that doesn't have any purpose nor even a switch to operate it. Or like painting the remaining wood doors which they left unpainted for whatever reason and they just look weird with all the painted trim everywhere else in the room. And definitely replace all the silver switch plates and outlets with white ones that will blend into the walls and backsplash rather than making them stick out like a sore thumb. Why do people like to draw attention to their outlets? Someone please explain this to me.

So that's the plan. I think it will be a lot of work (the painting primarily) but I also think it's totally doable and will make this space so much more inviting and in the end it will look so much more updated even before the new floor and countertop. I'm excited and ready to get to work!

Have a great and productive weekend, everyone!


posted on: Wednesday, January 15, 2014


"I'm growing up!" he announced proudly one day, and at that particular moment his mother's heart suddenly shattered into a thousand tiny pieces.


A New Tradition

posted on: Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thank goodness for husbands who swoop in with the best plans just when you need it most. Josh in all his infinite wisdom booked us a night at the Inn in Chagrin Falls saturday for a little anniversary surprise and it was the most perfect timing.  After the past two-ish weeks dealing with everyone having the flu at our house and getting very little sleep because of it, this was just what the doctor ordered. 


After we checked in we wandered around town a bit before the cold eventually drove us back inside. It's the most charming little town with lots of small independent shops that are always good for window shopping. We had a VERY delicious and super laid back dinner at the village martini and wine bar and then took ourselves over to the movies to see American Hustle. (And yes I'd recommend it, because duh...Jennifer Lawrence).

We had so much fun we decided to make this an anniversary tradition from here on out. Maybe not this exact evening again, but rather than gifts we decided a night away together like this every January is a far better use of our money and it feeds our relationship far more than a new wallet or a fancy pair of shoes ever will.

What a good night. What a good seven years! I love that man.

Time to Share the Love

posted on: Friday, January 10, 2014

Hi friends, it's Friday! And thank goodness --- this week has sufficiently kicked our butts. We've been passing around the flu bug that just won't die from one family member to the next and back again. Josh has a little anniversary surprise planned for us tomorrow and I'm hoping everyone's health will hold out long enough for us to sneak away for a night without causing anyone too much misery. Fingers crossed!

So yesterday as Oren and I laid around on the sofa for endless hours of Power Rangers and Spiderman I kept my mind off our symptoms scrolling through all my favorite blogs and catching up on lots and lots of posts. As I was reading through them I thought how good so many of these ladies are at what they do; mothering, designing, writing and so on. They each bring little pockets of happiness to my day and that deserves a little recognition, you know? So today I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite online ladies and hope you take a minute to drop by their blogs so you can see for yourselves what I'm talking about. They're just GOOD.

I've linked to one or two of Georgia's posts here in the past, so you may or may not have visited her sunny little corner of the web before. She writes about motherhood in a way that's so poetic and endearing, yet totally natural and down to earth at the same time. And every time little Florin's face pops up in my feed I can hardly wait to click over and see her newest photo of that perfect little baby man. Cheeks for daaaayyyyysssss on that one.

Some favorite posts here (will  make your heart break in the best possible way) here, (that photo is pretty much everything there is in life) and here.

Ryan writes a super relatable blog (at least to me) about her life in Chicago with her husband, two kids and the huge project that is renovating an old house and turning it into a forever home. Huh, no wonder it strikes a cord with me come to think about it. Hmmmm... But really, it's all the little posts about life in between renovations that really make you start to feel like you know her. And if you did, you'd totally be friends, right?! Totally.

Favorite posts here and here (who doesn't love a good before and after?)

This is my sister in law Jessica's blog (and actually she's the one who first introduced me to Ryan's blog above). She writes a really, really great fashion blog from right here in Akron. She's taught me all there is to know about blogging. And also helps me with all my internet/blogger woes (of which there are many). She's my blogging inspiration even though my blog has nothing whatsoever to do with fashion. But I've watched her grow her blog from the ground up and watched all the time and hard work she's put into it really pay off.

Check out a recap of the year here and a favorite outfit post here.

I think it's safe to say I love everything about Emily's blog. Apart from being a major design inspiration to me and new mama to sweet little Charlie, her writing style is really what keeps me coming back every time. How can one person be so likeable, so talented, so transparent and honest about her life and work and also so, so funny? She walks the line between blogging worlds (design/lifestyle/motherhood) with impeccable style and grace. And  also, I mean...a fellow Emily? Kindred spirits, I'm telling you. How could I not love her blog?

And yes that IS an Anne Shirley reference and yes I am deep into book number three and LOVING IT. But more on that later.

Here's an example of an amazing design project she worked on and here's an example of a personal post I love. Not that these are necessarily even my favorites because how can I even pick favorites? Every post is my favorite.

Rachael writes. Like really, really writes. If you want a blog to actually READ and not just scroll through endless photos (nudges self) Rachael is your girl every time. Poignant, simply but artfully crafted posts that will make your own writing feel anemic.

A recent good one here and I love the realness of postpartum life in this post

There are so many others but I'll stop there for today and save the rest for another time. Who are your favorite reads? I love hearing about new bloggers, especially the smaller scale blogs flying under the radar, so share if you have any favorites I may not be reading. And have a great weekend everyone!

The last throws of the holiday season

posted on: Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Let's go back in time, shall we? Back two weeks ago when we were all off work and enjoying the last of the holidays and Ben was home and Rence was in town and no one was puking or living in constant fear of puking (refer to previous post). Oh yes, those were the good old days. We enjoyed copious amounts of Mexican food and copious amounts of snuggling with kittens at our leisure.

We watched Jeff and Rence throw down in the living room, using only the children as weapons.

And we could spend all day on a Monday in Cleveland digging through records and popping into antique shops on a whim.

And then we could end the day with the city's finest italian subs and go home to our warm beds where we didn't even have to set an alarm. 

The transition back into real life after the holidays is a cruel one, no? Hang in there folks and remember, only seventy days 'til Easter. 

(I know...that's really a poor excuse for consolation but it's all we've got. Chins up my friends, chins up.)

Seven Years Later

posted on: Monday, January 6, 2014

Today marks 7 years since Josh and I were married (together 13 now if you can believe it) and there really couldn't be a better time to take a moment to write a little about him here. Because this weekend reminded me just how good I have it. Like how completely grateful I am that I chose him, of all the people in this world, to be my partner in life. A few nights ago, within an hour of walking in the door from work, Wes and Oren both started vomiting simultaneously and completely out of the blue. Suddenly our house was in a total frenzy. All night long we were up, Josh in one bedroom, me in the other. Running past each other in the dark of the hallway with cups of water and paper towels and baskets of soiled laundry. Grateful for the two pairs of hands and two sets of arms between us that could care for and comfort our boys who needed us both right then, very, very much. The next morning I was feeling the effects of the sleepless night and tapped Josh for duty while I promptly passed out. I woke a couple hours later to find he had scrubbed the disaster of a kitchen we'd previously abandoned mid dinner the night before. He'd finished the piles of laundry that had accumulated through the evening and cleaned up and comforted a still vomiting and very sad little two year old. And let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, if there's one piece of advice I want to offer you is that if you're looking for someone to marry, marry someone like Josh. No one is perfect, and I'm not here to tell you that he is. But he certainly tries. He really, really tries to be his best self every day. To be a loving and supportive partner and father. He never shirks his share of the work or the effort it takes from BOTH of us to make this household run.  He is right there alongside me when times get tough, down in the trenches doing what it takes. And that's all you can ask for, really, in a partner, is one who continues to step up to plate over and over and over again. So thank you Josh, and Happy Anniversary. I love you.

How To: Paint Tile

posted on: Friday, January 3, 2014

Good morning everyone! I thought I'd share a little DIY with you today if that's okay. So, as you all know we moved in to a new (to us) house a few months ago and I have been working like a madwoman fixing it up to suit our tastes. The home was built in 1908 and has had many updates along the way between then and now. Some of which were good, some, not so much. One of the things that has been sticking out like a sore thumb to me since day one was the fireplace tile in our family room. It was a marbled green/burnt orange number and didn't really go with anything else we have going on in this room.

So instead of spending a thousand dollars having it ripped out and completely refaced I thought I'd try my hand at painting it first. I'd never painted tile before, but this seemed like a small enough project that I was confident I could handle it for my first attempt. I researched the best methods online and followed the instructions to a tee.

Step 1: Is obviously to clean your surface completely and let dry.

Step 2: Sand the tiles lightly (online it recommended 200 grit sandpaper). This will roughen up the shiny surface of the tile to give your primer something to cling to. Clean it off thoroughly again and let dry.

Step 3: Tape off the surrounding area and apply a coat of primer. I'd read that if your tile is in an area where it will be getting wet frequently (like a bathroom) to use an alcohol based primer. But since this was a dry space latex primer was sufficient. Since I was planning on painting the tile black, I asked them to tint my primer grey for me at the counter when I bought it.

 No going back now!

Step 4: Once you've applied your primer, let it dry completely and apply a coat of semi gloss or high gloss alkyd paint in the color of your choice and allow to dry overnight. The next day, apply a second coat of paint. The only bummer about this was that the alkyd paint is only sold by the gallon and I didn't even use a quart's worth on this little area so I have tons leftover.

Step 5: Wait two or three days to be sure the paint is totally and completely dry (I accidentally waited a week and a half - oops!) and apply two coats of water based urethane finish with a foam brush to protect the paint from scratching or chipping off and to give it that glossy tile look. Make sure you wipe down your tile and let it dry completely before applying the urethane because this is the finishing coat and anything stuck to the surface will be there permanently after this step.

And that's it, you're finished!
I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. Sure, if I had an extra pile of money laying around I'd prefer new tile over painted, but I think this is a decent option if you're on a budget. Now the tile just kind of blends in to the backdrop of the room instead of sticking out like a sore thumb. Which is exactly what I was going for. The paint has held up perfectly as of yet and it's been done about three weeks now. It seems fairly indestructible to little boys and toy trucks so far, but I suppose only time will tell how long it will truly last.  
And there you have it! What do you guys think? Would you ever attempt this in your own homes?

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