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Claire’s Nursery

20 Jan

Claire celebrated her 3 month birthday on Friday so it seems about time that I finally share some photos of her nursery! I love love love this room. It’s the first time I really got to start a room from scratch and I had a ton of fun doing it. We painted the room grey the year before Claire was born and I promised Pete when we did it that I would not make him repaint if we had a baby. I knew he was worried that if we had a girl it would be right back to pink! But I had at least a tentative color scheme for a girl or a boy.

Once we found out we were having a girl, I started honing in on the design. I never had a theme in mind, just colors. With grey on the walls I knew I wanted to bring in pink, white, and one more accent color. I just wasn’t sure what that accent color was going to be or what shades. Stay pale and serene? Or more bright and bold? After lots of pinterest-ing, I settled on something sort of in between and teal as my other color. Pretty and girly while still being fun. At least I think so!

Seriously, I love everything about her room and can’t pick favorites.




Claire already has lots of toys and books! The dolls and cradle off on the left were all actually mine though.




I love everything about that little side table right now but I’d be lying if I said it usually looked like that. Usually it’s covered in books, my cell phone (for tracking sleep and eating patterns), and my water. But this was much prettier to photograph! How cute is the little pacifier charm my Aunt gave Claire? Love it. And her ruffly curtains. Hopefully she’ll like pink as she gets older since I thought these would be very pretty even in a bigger girl’s room.



Anthropologie knobs for a little extra sparkle and fun texture on the ottoman.


I was really excited to find these prints on Etsy. Such cute, fun characters.

Be Real

But, of course, my very favorite part of the room is the beautiful little girl who sleeps there. :)


Crib: DaVinci Jenny Lind – it was out of stock everywhere when I looked and (strangely, enough) actually got it back in stock first!

Dresser: Ikea Hemnes – I wanted to buy an old one and paint it but luckily realized my limitations.

Dresser Knobs: Anthroplogie – though it looks like the exact ones are no longer available.

Curtains: Land of Nod – but no longer available

Rug: Urban Outfitters

Glider: Room & Board – little bit of a splurge but we figure we’ll use this in another room later!

Ottoman: CB2

Bookshelf: IKEA Expedit

Prints (above dresser): trafalgarssquare on Etsy

“Be Real” artwork: Target

Wall graphics: Blik Iron Vines


{Kitchen Reno} Finished – and finally photographed!

15 Apr

At long last, the “After” photos of the kitchen! It has been done for quite a while (with the exception of putting things back on the wall which still isn’t really done) but we’ve been busy hosting dinners and brunches, spending time with family, and all kinds of other fun things. My apologies that it took so long to make the time to clean things up and photograph it for you. :)

Now then, let’s take one more look at “Before” so you remember just what we were working with:

And, without further ado, here’s what it looks like now:

(The color is a little off in that second image but you get the idea. This whole post is reminding me that I need to spend some serious time learning how to set the white balance in my camera. Oh, and please ignore the picture frames that need to be filled and the wall that isn’t quite done yet. More to come!)

Closeups of my favorite things – the light fixtures, backsplash, and drawer pulls.

So, what do you think? We really couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out!

(P.S. Getting the kitchen done was on my 30 Before 30 list so I get to cross it off now…even if it was a little late!)

{Kitchen Reno} What’s wrong with this picture?

11 Mar

Hello! Still here. Still waiting for the last two panels from the cabinet maker to arrive.

I had a feeling this would take a while (the cabinets originally took 5 weeks to come in) so I wish the guy would have just said that instead of suggesting he could get them done pretty quickly. Oh well. Almost there. I’m just ready for everything (including the re-organizing and re-decorating which is coming along slowly but surely) to be done!

But, while we wait, I thought we could play a game called “What’s wrong with this picture?” (As a bonus, it gives you a good sneak peak of the cabinets and hardware!)

Now, you have to ignore the fact that there’s no countertop, sink, faucet or backsplash. I wasn’t expecting any of those. And I should clarify that by “wrong” I mean something that is completely a personal preference. But is anyone else with me on not putting a knob (or in this case, pull) underneath the sink when that’s not a drawer? Ugh. I know in the grand scheme of life it is not a big deal but it made me want to cry. I swear I’m not usually so dramatic but with so much planning and money going into the project I just want it to look exactly how I pictured in my head. To me, that is not a functional drawer so it doesn’t get any hardware.

In my defense (because I bet I sound a little crazy here), I was very laid back and understanding of the construction related adjustments they had to make based on what was in the walls/ceilings/etc. And, in the contractor’s defense, he was extremely apologetic, made arrangements to fix it (it’s one of the panels we’re waiting for), and asked what I wanted on every other detail. (Ironically, on every other detail we were in agreement or I took his lead if I wasn’t sure.)

So, all’s well that ends well in my book. I just can’t wait for it to be gone. :)

{Kitchen Reno} How Niklas Hjalmarsson saved the day

29 Feb

Hello! Sorry I’ve been away for so long. A friend texted today that she was afraid the kitchen renovation had done me in. In case anyone else out there is wondering, I am still alive and things are actually progressing rather nicely. In fact, we’re almost done! We’re waiting on a few final things (including some panels that needed to be ordered late from the cabinet maker) but hopefully those will be done soon too. Of course, things are a little more chaotic than normal and when I am at home I generally try to avoid it all by hiding in our room. So far, this is very good for my sanity. Not so good for blogging.

It would be hard to give updates without ruining the final reveal, but we can start talking about a few things that have gone wrong. Let’s start with the biggest error (which was totally on our part) that could have also been the most expensive.

When we started planning, our intention was always to extend the laminate that’s throughout the rest of the living space into the kitchen. Light maple looking laminate. We had seen plenty of it at the home improvement stores. And we even had an extra piece which had the name and serial number on the back for an exact match. No problem.

When we were getting estimates from contractors, the one we hired is the only one who expressed concern at the feasibility of this plan. We assured him we were set. Now, in hindsight, why I thought we were set is beyond me. It’s entirely un-characteristic of me to think something will work until it has actually worked. But, with my momentary lapse in judgement, off we went ordering cabinets and proceeding with plans before we had the actual product secured.

The day after we ordered the cabinets, I decided we needed to order the floor as quickly as possible. And this is when things started to get a little more difficult. Turns out Armstrong no longer makes the same exact flooring. Oh. And do you know how many color, wood grain, and plank size variations laminate flooring comes in? By my estimate, a gazillion. Sure they all look the same when you’re not trying to match them to something but, let me assure you, they are all VERY different.

We checked every local home improvement store. Nothing close. We had a local Armstrong dealer trying to help us find the current version of our floor, which he promised is something they do all the time. It was close, but not great. I searched and searched and searched online. No luck.

I started to have a minor breakdown (mostly because I was so angry at myself for not having it figured out before.)

Right about now, I started thinking about how we’d go about replacing the floors throughout the entire entryway, kitchen, and living areas. We were planning on extending the existing floor because otherwise there’s no place to stop and start something different. If we couldn’t find flooring to extend into the kitchen, it would all need to be replaced. I actually don’t like the floor very much so I wouldn’t be too sad about replacing it. However, that was not in the plan – financially or logistically. I was already worried about the disaster soon to come. I couldn’t imagine moving around furniture and replacing the floor too.

My meltdown progressed from minor to major.

And then something funny happened. Pete gave me a hug, as he generally does when I’m upset. On the TV, the Chicago Blackhawks game was just ending. Niklas Hjalmarsson was recognized as one of the players of the game. Niklas Hjalmarsson made me think of Ikea because I think this commercial is hilarious. And then it hit me that our floor looked like it could come from Ikea!

My meltdown shifted back slightly towards hope.

I wasn’t sure if Ikea sold flooring but of course they do. Tundra in maple effect. Exactly what I had been looking for all along.

Here’s an image of the transition. Can you see where the color changes slightly? It’s in the center of the picture, right at the opening of the cabinet doors. Not too bad, right? It’s not a perfect match but it is close enough to do the trick for now. Best of all, this was a solution that cost less than $100 instead of $400-$600 for the option from the Armstrong dealer or who knows how much to replace it all.

Thank you, Niklas Hjalmarsson, for saving me thousands of dollars and a lot of anxiety. I bet you never thought your commercial would have that effect!

{Kitchen Reno} Week 1

12 Feb

We’re less than 1 full working week into the renovation and already there has been a ton of change over here! In fact, by the end of the first working day (which ended up being Wednesday instead of Tuesday because one of our general contractor’s children was sick) they had gutted the entire kitchen.

You have no idea how excited I was to see the inside of those walls. It’s pretty fascinating don’t you think? I climbed through the plastic that’s blocking off the entire work area (and probably supposed to keep me out) and stared at it all for a long time as I tried to figure out how all pieces connect.

The progress over the next 2 days was not as dramatic looking as the electrical changes and updates were all made. However, on Friday, the new drywall went up and things are looking a little cleaner again. Even if there is a layer of construction dust covering every surface imaginable throughout the condo!

See the new pot lights? I wonder when I can have him back to put them throughout the living room too. Seeing the changes here makes me realize just how bad the lighting everywhere else is too!

Monday will be another day of prep work and then the cabinets will be delivered on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to another week of major changes!

{Kitchen Reno} Design Plan

9 Feb

As important as the structural plan is, let’s be honest, I’m also super excited about the design aspect of the kitchen renovation. Since we’ve been debating this project for years, I debated the cabinet colors and backsplash for just as long. My heart, from the very beginning, wanted white shaker style cabinets. If this was my forever home that’s what I’d do. But it’s not my forever home and I needed to think about re-sale. That’s how the worrying starts. I know what I like, especially when I see it. I don’t, however, know what other people like. Oh, what to do, what to do.

I tried long and hard to talk myself into getting a more traditional wood but, in the end, I just couldn’t do it. If a future potential buyer doesn’t like white cabinets, they probably won’t want to buy my condo and I just have to be OK with that. White kitchens are classic and timeless (well, at least the ones that I like are) and that’s what I want to create. Plus, in a kitchen like ours with no natural light, I think it’s the best way to go. When the time is right to put our condo on the market, we’ll just have to find the buyer that agrees with me!

This is the image from a Better Homes and Garden Kitchen and Bath special that finally convinced me to never look back.


Source: via Jackie on Pinterest




I’ll have more pictures and product resources as things are actually installed but, in the meantime, you can also check out the rest of my inspiration photos on my kitchen Pinterest board. You might even see tiles very similar to the ones in the photo above. ;)

{Kitchen Reno} Structural Plan

7 Feb

As a reminder, here’s what the kitchen looked like before the renovation started (the new appliances arrived yesterday and Demo Day 1 is today!):

Let’s start with the list of problems we wanted to fix:

  • Not enough counter space
  • Not enough cabinet space. There are four awkward/un-useable/totally dead corners. *Four.*
  • Original cabinets from 1967 – meaning doors and drawers that are squeaky and hard to open
  • Because the dishwasher was added later, the sink is no longer centered with the upper cabinets.
  • When I painted the doors, I was going to add a second coat to the sides after I put them up. Embarrassingly, 5+ years later that still hasn’t happened. Obviously, this could have been fixed without a renovation, but it bothers me enough to put on this list.

Here’s how we’re going to solve those problems (and then some):

  • Put in all new cabinets, gaining back 3 of our 4 wasted corner spaces (it was the best we could do and still fit everything in)
  • Flip the fridge and stove to create better visual lines and less bulkiness in the space
  • Move the dishwasher to the wall on the right and re-center the sink
  • Update the appliances to stainless steel
  • Replace the countertops
  • Remove the soffit (hopefully)
  • Update the lighting
  • Add in a backsplash. Yay!
  • Remove the bulkhead and extend the wood laminate flooring into the space (again, creating less visual distraction and breakup looking into the room.)
  • Build in shallow cabinets on the left wall above (where the buffet is in the pictures)
  • And the really big one – build a peninsula opposite the wall of shallow cabinets (extending from the wall where the fridge currently is)

It’s going to be SO different to have that peninsula. The effect will be to extend the kitchen and make it seem bigger even though the appliances stay in the same area and we don’t have to knock down any walls. I can’t wait!!