How We Did In ’16 + Goals for ’17

9 Jan

Each year we set out a list of the things we want to accomplish on the house. Here’s how we did with our 2016 goals…

  1. Finish the mudroom. Done! We shared the finished mudroom in September- it is still one of my favorite spaces in the house. Function + Beauty! mudroom-horizontal
  2. Finish the pool fence and re-stain the deck. Done! It turned out so awesome. See more of the backyard area here.close up of fence
  3. Update the living room built-ins. Also done! We finished these in November, they really transform our whole first floor. More pics hereimg_6018
  4. Create a “big girl” room for Kate. I have one more little project to do in here and a few tweaks and should have a reveal later this month! It’s so stinkin’ cute.
  5. Finish the shed. Done, for the most part. We need to do a little more landscaping around it. Pics to come in the Spring.
  6. Build a fire pit. This did not happen. We just have some Adirondack chairs around a fire ring right now, but would love to build a stone fire pit/patio. fire pit
  7. Paint master bedroom closet. We have beautiful built ins in our master closet but they have been bare wood for 2+ years. Since no one sees our closet it keeps getting pushed off. In 2017 it will happen.
  8. Install pavers around the pool. Didn’t happen but it is a top priority for 2017.

So for 2017, we would like to accomplish the following:

  1. Install pavers around the pool.
  2. Finish Kate’s “big girl room.”
  3. Paint master bedroom closet.
  4. Build a built-in fire pit.
  5. Build a kitchen table from native New Zealand timber.
  6. Organize/clean up garage and pour a new floor.

We also have the “flip” to complete by March/April so that is our big focus right now.



Holiday Gift Ideas: 2-3 Year Olds

27 Nov

Now that the holiday shopping season is in full swing I thought I’d share some gift ideas I’ve been gathering for our two (almost three) year old daughter, Kate. If you have any little girls (or boys) in your lives, maybe this will provide some inspiration!

Here are a few things that we are hoping to get our daughter this year:

1. Trolls Boombox. Kate loves to sing and dance and is always asking for a “dance party” so I think she will love this boombox that she can control herself. She is a big fan of Trolls (it was her first movie in the theater) and the music is SO good. Currently $25 from Walmart.


2. Balance Bike. Her big gift from Santa this year will be a balance bike to help get her ready for a regular bike. These are supposed to replace the need for training wheels and tricycles. This one from Schwinn is reasonably priced and got great reviews on Amazon. It comes in four colors.


3. Mermaid Blanket. Kate is obsessed with mermaids right now and I know she will get a kick out of this mermaid tail blanket. It comes in a variety of sizes from baby to adult and 30+ color combinations, so I plan to order one that matches the teal and pink colors in her big girl room. Starting at $26 off Etsy.



4. Play-Doh. Kate and her friends love to play with Play-Doh and as a result all of ours is all dried out and mixed together. So I’m planning to toss the old stuff and start fresh with this 24-pack from Amazon for less than $20. Hours of fun.


5. Christmas PJs. Every kid needs a special pair of Christmas “jammies” to wear to bed on Christmas Eve and open presents in Christmas morning. Each year I let Kate open up her Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve, along with a Christmas book. These organic pajamas by Burt’s Bees are adorable and less than $12 right now at Target. They come in sizes for the whole family too (if that’s your jam). There is another more masculine gray version that is super cute too.


6.  Dress-up shoes. Kate is really getting into dress-up play and when a vacation house we stayed in over the summer had some of these, she wore them non-stop.  This set of 4 pairs from Melissa & Doug is $15 right now on Amazon.


7. Toy Dyson Vacuum. Kate is all about helping with tasks around the house so I think she would love this Dyson replica toy vacuum. It even has real suction so her play time can be productive, too! $30 right now on Amazon.


8. Jewelry Box. What little girl wouldn’t love a jewelry box with a turning ballerina in it? This one from Pottery Barn is sure to be treasured for many years to come. They come in various sizes and colors starting at $39.img17o

If you are like me and do almost all of your shopping online, here are a couple quick tips I use to save some extra cash.

  1. Ebates– This site gives you a percentage back on almost every online purchase you make. I installed the plug in, so you don’t have to remember to shop through Ebates, it pops up every time you visit a retailer that offers an Ebates reward. They send you a check each quarter and I’ve earned more than $200 since I signed up about a year ago. They also provide you with the best and latest promo codes for the retailers.
  2. Raise– This site/app allows you to purchase gift cards at a discount. So for example if you are about to spend $100 at Sephora, see what $100 gift cards are selling for on Raise (they are $95 right now) and save a few bucks. You can choose for it to be delivered by mail or electronically— in which case it sends the code directly to your phone.  I started using Raise in January and have saved more than $100. You can sell your unwanted gift cards too. Use this link to get a free $5 toward your first gift card purchase.

You can also find my gift ideas from last year here for 1-2 year olds.

Happy Holidays and happy shopping everyone!

This post contains affiliate links

Big Reveal: Living Room Built Ins!

25 Nov

Our living room built ins are finally done and they look amazing! The last time I showed them on the blog, they looked like this:


And now here they are all complete:


A lot better than what we had just a few months ago:


Since the last update we installed a honed black granite hearth to replace the dated tile. Next we installed Tile Shop’s Claros Silver stacked stone on top of the existing brick.

Here’s a close up of the fireplace before:


And now:


We used the same fireplace screen and gas log set as before.

Ben also installed a switch on the right side of the built ins so we can easily turn on the gas fireplace.


Here’s a look at the fireplace turned on, so warm and cozy!


The cabinets are painted a crisp, clean white called Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore. We chose oil rubbed bronze hardware and found the cup pulls from ATG Stores and the knobs from Home Depot.

Ben installed a chase behind the TV so all our cords are hidden in the wall and the components and our printer are in one of the cabinets.

The closed storage is great; we have board games, serving dishes, office supplies and more in there. Way more functional than the open shelves before.

Here’s another view farther back. You may notice the fireplace isn’t centered so there are more cabinets on the left side.


That side table is relatively new from Chip and Joanna’ Gaines new line of furniture at Value City. And the table lamp is also new from Target (on sale here).


The built ins finally match the rest of the renovated first floor and everything flows together nicely. Here’s a look at the main first floor living area:


I never showed the wainscoting we installed in the dining room:


We also installed beadboard on the kitchen peninsula. The kitchen stools are from Ballard Designs.



Here’s the other side of the living room looking toward the front door and the playroom through those french doors. The rug is from Home Decorators or Amazon here. You can see how we created the barn wood beams here.


Here’s a look back at the living room when we bought the place four years ago:

12 Oaks Before 149

You wouldn’t even think it was the same house now:


Lastly, here are the built ins looking particularly warm and beautiful after we hung our stockings and decorated for Christmas today:



Hooray, this is one of our last major projects inside the house (for now). Now all our focus is on the “flip.” Update on that to come soon.

Tour Our New Flip

26 Oct

Last Friday we closed on a 1931 Montgomery Ward home that we are going to bring back to life and sell. Woo-hoo. Another flip! This home has so much charm and potential, and we actually used to live across the street, so we know firsthand how great the neighborhood is.

Here is the front of the house, which actually needs very little work. img_4539

We love the paint color so will just touch it up where needed.


That bonzai-looking tree will go and we will freshen up the landscaping in the front. The house also needs a completely new roof.

We need to make the driveway wider with fresh asphalt because right now there is a weird hedge row and wood patio that blocks more than half of the garage. img_4552

The garage is actually quite nice, you just can’t get to it right now.


Here’s the backyard which we are going to fence in to provide some privacy from the neighbors.


We will add a paver patio and lots of landscaping, similar to this drawing our landscape designer friend drew up for us.



Here’s a couple more pics of the backyard and back of the house. It’s a small lot (about 1/4 acre) but is very typical for this neighborhood.



Moving inside, here is the front room which used to be a front porch.



We are going to remove the wood paneling, drop ceiling, front closet, and then open up the ceiling to a cathedral ceiling with beadboard and maybe some rustic beams. It will look so different and open it up a lot!


In the living room, we have to do some electrical to get the light on the switch (it was just a fan on a pull cord), remove the wallpaper and carpet, paint everything, stain the floors, and clean up the built ins. I absolutely love the built ins!


If you saw on Instagram, we already ripped out the carpet and it already looks SO much better.


There’s parquet flooring under the front porch area so we will need to lay hardwoods there and then stain it all a nice rich brown color.

Here’s the dining room which needs a new light fixture, wallpaper stripped off, paint and floors stained. img_4575

The kitchen is in the back of the house and needs a lot of work. We actually plan to re-use most of the cabinet boxes and re-make the doors, remove the soffit and then add glass-fronted cabinets where the soffits used to be. We did this in our first house and it looked great.


We plan to take out the wall above the current stove to open it up to the rest of the house, and add a bar height top. img_4570

We will take out the wall ovens and add a slide-in range with a microhood instead.


The cabinets will be painted a fresh coat of white, and of course all new stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, backsplash, sink, hardware and fixtures.

The fridge is on this wall, and we will build out the pantry cabinets deeper to line up with the wall.


There’s two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor, which you get to by this charming archway.


The bathroom will basically get a full gut with new tile, vanity, toilet, fixtures, and more. We also need to add a shower head since this is only a bathtub right now.


Here are the two bedrooms on the first floor which actually have large closets.



As you can see in that photo, the previous owners smoked in the house for 40 years(!), and so all the wallpaper is stained with smoke. Surprisingly it doesn’t smell too bad, but we are of course stripping all the wallpaper and painting everything fresh and new.

The stairs to go up to the 2nd floor are off the kitchen and they lead up to 2 more bedrooms and a powder room.


The railings aren’t up to code so those will get re-built and then we will remove the carpet, wallpaper and then paint the walls and stain the floors.


Our current thinking is to make the entire upstairs a master suite with a large closet and bathroom. So ripping out the wall between the two bedrooms and extending the current powder room which is teeny tiny.




Lastly is the basement which is straight out of the 1970’s.



There’s also a full bathroom down here.


We have some foundation and waterproofing issues to deal with in the basement, so are in the process of tearing out all the paneling, floors and dropped ceilings.

That concludes the tour. It’s a ton of work, but we know it will look stunning when we are done with it in a few months.

If you want to see some of the other properties we have “flipped,” the home we renovated last summer and made into a rental property was pretty similar here. And here is another flip we did 3 years ago.