I still have one last room to show you on the tour of our little house, and it’s a super important one- the master bedroom. I feel like people often neglect this room, because nobody sees it. For this reason, I sort of get why the master isn’t everyone’s priority. But that line of reasoning only makes sense if you are decorating your home for other people… which I really hope isn’t the case. Homes should be beautiful and comfortable and just enjoyable to look at and spend time in because that is what will make you happy. I know that is certainly the case for me- when I spend time in a pleasing environment, surrounded by things I love, I am a much more positive person. I’m more content, more present, more productive, and more inspired.

Now that we’re all in agreement that beautiful homes make for happier people, I think we can also agree that the room where you start and end your days should absolutely be a priority, even if you are the only one who sees it. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend a ton of money either- just put some thought into how you want your personal space to look and feel, and make it happen. (And yes, that also means picking up the dirty clothes off the floor and making the bed every morning- I promise that extra little step will make a world of difference in how you feel when you step into your room at night).

But enough ranting- let’s get on with our tour.

So, when we started, our room looked like this:

(Penny, pictured with a bucket because she thought she was going to throw up. The wall color kind of made me want to throw up too, but I feel like she’s taking it a little far…)

Sort of long and narrow, but not a bad size, and there were two closets, which was a huge bonus (considering we didn’t even have one closet for our clothes in our last place). The paint color, popcorn ceilings, and ceiling fan would have to go, and after that it was just a matter of deciding how we wanted this space to feel.

For Kevin and I, we craved a bedroom that would be calm and relaxing, with just a hint of drama. I threw together a design board so we would have a vision in mind when we started hunting for pieces and putting the room together:

We already had a similar black bamboo headboard and wood nightstands, as well as a vintage Persian rug, but I knew I wanted a new pair of modern lamps to flank the bed, as well as a chair and dresser.

And here is the after:

Ahhhh. So much better. Calm, fairly neutral, but definitely not boring.

When I started trolling Craigslist, I was thrilled to find the perfect antique dresser for $60, just outside of Savannah. Kevin wasn’t as thrilled to drive the 2 hours to pick it up, but when we got it into the space, he agreed that it was pretty awesome. This may actually be one of my favorite little moments in our entire house.

The dresser is super old, and the bottom drawer always sticks (which wasn’t a problem in the summer since that’s where I keep my sweaters, but now it’s getting a little more use). And yet, I still love her! That green detail on the drawer fronts is actually tarnished copper.

I adore the juxtaposition of the modern round mirror with the warm old wood tones in the dresser.

Opposite the dresser is a cute little Windsor style chair that I also found on Craigslist for $20.

And on the nightstands are a pair of black and gold lamps that I got on clearance for $20 each at Target.

I kept the bedding simple, white a white quilt, white sheets, and a couple of throw pillows. I love this suede tassel one (found on clearance at West Elm), because it’s simple but still manages to make a statement.

See? I told you you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a pretty bedroom.

And lastly, over by the closet is my jewelry display that Kevin helped me make out of an antique printer’s tray.

There isn’t a whole lot going on in this room, but the mix of old and new, calm with just a slight edge, makes it feel like us. And is there anything better than waking up and starting your day in a beautiful space that feels like you?

So if your poor master bedroom has been neglected, like so many are, put in the effort and spend a little time making it the retreat you deserve. Or, at the very least, take a minute to make the damn bed! (wink)

Do you love your bedroom? Do you make your bed every morning? Be honest! And as always, let me know what you think!

Photographs by Amanda Seifert Photography

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A Tour of Our Living Room

Compared to the kitchen and bathrooms, the living room was in relatively good shape when we bought our home 9 months ago. It felt a little dark with the gray walls, there were popcorn ceilings and lots of wall cracks in need of repair, and one of the windows had water damage underneath, causing it to angle down on one side. Still, it was a decent size, the wood floors were in pretty good shape (with an interesting border detail inlaid into the wood), and there was built in shelving for added charm.

This is what you saw when you first walked into the room from the entry way:

Here is a different view, showing the arched doorway from the entryway:

That is the exterior door we removed, creating an opening into the laundry room/playroom:

This is the damaged window:

This is the built in shelving, and to the left of that is the wall we removed to create an opening into the kitchen:

This is to the right of the built ins- and now we’ve come full circle 🙂

We knew we wanted to make some changes to the space to open it up more to the rest of the house, starting with taking down part of a wall to create a pass through to the kitchen. The space to the left of the built in was the first to come down, and we were elated to discover a brick chimney hiding underneath the plaster as well. This seems like a simple change, but it was actually a ton of work, and I can never thank my Dad enough for all of the time he spent helping us to transform this space!

For one thing, the wall was load bearing, so he had to put a new support beam up, and then find a way to frame out the chimney, with all of the little angles and such making it much more time consuming than we ever imagined it would be.

The other major change we made was removing the damaged window and replacing it with french doors (also thanks to my Dad, who not only installed them but also gave them to us for free as they were leftover from another one of his jobs). Fun fact: those french doors lead to no where. There is literally an ancient monstrosity of an ac unit right below them (which shockingly still works, which is why we have yet to replace or relocate it), and no deck to step out onto. What there is, however, is a vision for the future: a large screened in porch with a stone fire place that we will be able to open these doors right up to on cooler days.

We’ve got some dreams, and more big plans for this house still to come, but since the window was damaged and we already had the doors, we figured why not put them in now? And I am so glad that we did, because from the moment that giant double door sized hole was cut into the wall, light instantly flooded this formerly dark room.

And there’s a great view of our ac unit, looking all purty.

From there, it was just a matter of removing the popcorn ceilings, repairing and repainting the walls, and clearing out the construction site that had become our living room. Penny is still bummed that we painted over her masterpiece, and talks frequently of the day when she will be able to have her own walls and paint whatever she wants on them, Rapunzel style. 🙂

Sitting in this room now, I can’t believe how different it feels. It is a happy space full of light, and all of us love spending time in here together. Let’s take a little tour around the room, and I’ll point out details along the way.

Furniture placement required a bit of pondering, because the room was long and narrow, with doors and windows on every wall. We were relieved that our beloved leather sofa just fit on the wall space between the built ins and the arched doorway, but we also wanted to bring in additional seating to make it more of a gathering place for family and friends.

We decided to float another sofa in the room to help break up the long space, and were really excited to find this smaller one (sadly no longer in stock at West Elm), because it was a great price but also was low profile enough to not feel like it was blocking off the room too much visually.

I loved how the skinny black legs matched the legs on our leather couch, and that the performance velvet fabric would be easy to clean with all of the animals and kids we have running around here.

Our desk fit perfectly behind the sofa, and Kevin and I both love how we can be working at the desk but still feel like we are part of whatever is going on in the room. (Also it is literally killing me that we never glazed the side of that desk and will most likely never get around to doing it…ugh, just don’t look at it). Moving on!

We also want to find a cool old door and put in on a sliding door track so we have the option to cover up the laundry/playroom, but aren’t in any hurry- I’m sure we will stumble upon the perfect door eventually.

Here is that time consuming but life changing walkway and exposed chimney I’ve been telling you about. Looking at these photos now, I’d say it was worth it!

 

You know I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these built ins! Any excuse to display some of my favorite books and objects, and I am all over it.

Across from the leather couch is our media credenza and television, and we have a cute little chair in the corner.

I do eventually plan to relocate this chair and replace it with something a little more lounge-worthy, but for now, it’s doing its’ job quite nicely.

I decided to hang a gallery wall above the couch, all in simple white frames, and I look forward to changing prints and photographs out as the mood strikes.

This is definitely the most neutral living room we’ve had yet- lots of browns and creams and whites with just a hint of green for color. For me, the key to keeping this neutral space interesting is having lots of different cozy textures in the room (the braided rug, warm leather, natural wood tones, and soft blankets and pillows).

And then there’s plants. I will never stop saying how much plants can transform a room, because it’s true! They will forever be my favorite decorating accessory.

I think that just about covers it! Thanks for touring our much loved and lived in living room. Let me know what questions and comments you have- I love to hear from you, as always!

*Photographs by Amanda Seifert

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That’s kind of a weird title, hinting at a strange combination of spaces, isn’t it? But admit it, you’re just a little bit intrigued by what a laundry room/playroom combo could possibly look like. Believe me, if you search for “laundry room playroom” on Pinterest, you are not going to find a whole lot- I’ve tried. So let me give you a bit of a background on this sad little room that ended up undergoing one of the biggest transformations in our entire house, and how it all came to be.

When we first toured our home, there was one room that was just a bit of a puzzler. It was a hastily done addition off of the living room that felt like more of an afterthought. There was basically an exterior door leading into a small room with lots of flimsy windows, and a horrible carpet covering the ever so slightly slanted floor. The exterior siding had never even been removed from the wall, so it really felt like an unfinished space.

The other puzzler was how to use the space. It had clearly been housing the washer and dryer, but there was still plenty of room left to use it for something else as well. Since there really weren’t any other options for a laundry area, we decided to continue using the space as such, but wanted to utilize the extra space as well. And that’s when we realized it would make the perfect play area for the girls.

Don’t you just look at this picture and think, “I want my children to play here!” I kid, I kid. But I promise, it gets better.

Although most of the girls’ toys are stored in their bedrooms upstairs, we knew it would be impractical not to have some sort of play area downstairs as well, where we would likely spend the majority of our time. Since this room was right off of the living room, it seemed like an ideal space for it.

The first step was removing the exterior door. Our living room already had lots of doors and windows, making furniture layout a bit tricky as it was, so removing this door helped with spacing in that room.

The next step was removing the exterior siding from the wall and the carpet from the floors. Lucky for us, my Dad had some laminate flooring leftover from a job, and there was just enough to recover the floors. It also happened to blend pretty seamlessly with the existing hardwoods in the living room. Replacing the windows wasn’t in the budget for the time being, but we knew we wanted to do something interesting on the walls to make the space feel special and detract from said windows (especially since the room would be open to the living room).

I quickly fell in love with the idea of putting ship lap on the walls. After some research, we discovered just how expensive real ship lap was, (and became super jealous of the folks in Waco, Texas who always seem to have it just sitting there, waiting patiently to be uncovered from underneath their drywall), and because we weren’t willing to allocate too much money to a laundry room renovation, we ended up going with a much more cost effective faux ship lap option instead. Kevin found large sheets of plywood that already had grooves in them, and it did the trick.

I still remember Kevin texting me these pictures of the walls as he was working on them. I was finally going to have ship lap! Faux ship lap, but still! It was so fun to watch this room transform- I had visions of a light bright space where I would happily fold fresh laundry as the girls played (ha). But really, I had never had an attractive and fully functional laundry room before. Whether hidden away in an ugly old closet, or stacking machines with no place to fold, all my previous laundry experiences were nothing to write home about. This time around, with a decent space to work with, I was determined to make this laundry experience as pleasant as possible.

This would of course start with the appliances. We decided to go with white front loading machines (for the same reason we went with white appliances in the kitchen– so they would blend in with the white walls). I know there are pros and cons to top loading verses front loading, and many people are not fans of the front loading variety, but I loved the look of them, and most importantly, I wanted to be able to put a counter top for folding clothes above them. We used extra butcher block counter tops from our kitchen renovation, and put a cabinet in the extra space beside the washing machine.

While I would love to tell you that that cabinet is used for cleaning supply storage, it is actually hiding the cat’s litter box. Genius, right? There is really no good place for a litter box- the idea of them is so disgusting and I have been tempted on many occasions to toilet train our cats Jack Burns style, but this is the best alternative I have found. There is a small hole cut into the side of the cabinet for the cats to get in and out (hence the mysterious gap beside the cabinet), and odors and litter tracking are now at a minimum. Most importantly, you can’t see it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Man, I wish I had fixed the rope handle of the basket on the right before this picture was taken.

Anyway, I feel like I have dedicated way too much time to talking about my cats’ litter box. Sorry for that. So let’s move on, why don’t we.

The rest of the space is being used as a sort of play and craft room for the girls. Their cute little table and chairs sits in the center of the room, and is definitely their favorite spot to hang in the house. It’s usually covered in paint and crayon markings, but it’s looking quite festive and inviting here.

On the opposite wall of the washer and dryer is their play kitchen, and there is a cute tiered storage stand in the corner for various play foods and other toys.

I love how the girls have their own space to play (and contain most of the mess), but I can still keep an eye on them from the living room. Eventually, we plan to add a sliding barn door so we can close off this room at night, or whenever we don’t want to be reminded of crafty messes and laundry. But for now, it’s still a really pretty happy space that I don’t at all mind catching a glimpse of!

I imagine this room will continue to evolve as the girls grow and their needs change. Perhaps it will become a space for using the computer and doing school work, or maybe it will just become a large utility/storage space. At this time in our lives, though, it is working perfectly for us. The colorful paintings drying on the counter tops and the pretty flowers blooming on the trees outside the windows definitely make for a more pleasant laundry experience, and who can complain about that? I still don’t love doing laundry as I had hoped I would. But I also don’t hate it anymore, so that’s something, I suppose!

What would you use this space for? Tell me your thoughts!

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After living in our last apartment, where there was no designated eating area and we had to push a table against the wall in the living room in order to make the space work, I was very excited to have a dining room again.

Our home is a traditional colonial- when you first walk into the entry way, there is a staircase in front of you, with a living room to the left and a dining room to the right. While not being an open concept home may be a deal breaker for some, I actually really like having separate spaces to retreat to in my home. There is something especially cozy about being in a separate dining room, enjoying meals by candle light and listening to soft music with your family and friends. For this reason, we didn’t want to change the space too much, but there were some things that had to go.

The popcorn ceilings and brick red walls being some of them. (See all the cracks that had to be repaired? I told you, this house is old).

And there’s Kevin, reaching in for another beer. I wish someone would have told me how much of our renovation budget would have to go toward keeping the crew “hydrated.” But I digress…

Basically the only major change we made in this room was creating a pass through into the kitchen, to open up the spaces just enough to create some flow in our home.

There is my Dad, after putting those pretty butcher block counter tops into place.

As you can see, we decided to paint the walls a creamy white in keeping with the rest of the house. From there, it was just about bringing in some furniture and accessories, and making this dining room the pretty, slightly sophisticated lady she deserved to be!

At first glance, you can see it is not a huge space. Just enough room for a table, four chairs, and a bench for the girls. But what this room lacks in space she makes up for in character. Do you spy those built ins?

If a house ever wants to woo me into falling madly in love, all she has to do is have a built in or two, and I will be ready to sign on the dotted line. This one was already here, and after a fresh coat of paint and some new gold knobs, it was ready for business.

For me, styling shelves is all about making them pretty and functional. The glasses and liquor decanters are all out on display and ready for use, with some sculptural objects (like that old wood cigar mold and those Himalayan salt candle holders) and colorful prints peppered in for some added interest. Candles, wine, and extra glassware are stored in the cupboards below.

This gives you a better glimpse into the kitchen– you can see how much more open these spaces are to each other now.

To the right of that window is our mid-century style record player console. I love its’ slim tapered legs, and the fact that the little door slides over to reveal record storage. The shelves on the other side were another chance to bring in some personality with family photo albums and my old collection of Nancy Drew novels (because you’ve gotta have a place to store your Nancy Drew novels).

We play records during every meal, so having this little piece in the corner of the room has been very useful for us. I also love that it allowed me to bring in a table lamp for some soft cozy mood lighting at night.

Here is the view from the kitchen, and is one of my favorite views of the space. When we first brought furniture into the room, it really felt like something was missing. I kept playing around with things, trying to make myself like it more, but it wasn’t until we hung those curtains that the room finally felt complete. Fun fact: I actually don’t have curtains in any other rooms of my house. In the majority of our spaces, I was more concerned with keeping things light and airy, and they just didn’t feel necessary. But in the dining room, with all of the hard surfaces, it really did need some textiles to bring a little softness into the space. The moment I saw these curtains I was in love- they elevate the room with the soft creamy fabric, but the fun tassel detail at the top keeps them from being too stuffy and formal. (From Urban Outfitters, but it doesn’t look like they are carrying them in this ivory color anymore, so those girls better watch it with their sticky peanut butter fingers!)

The other thing that really made the room feel complete was that plant. The room is small, and I didn’t want to bring in too much furniture, but that corner felt empty until that plant was brought in to fill up the space. If you ever have a corner that you don’t know what to do with, I’m telling you, pop a plant in there and call it a day. So I guess those are my tips for making a dining room feel complete: bring in some textiles, (whether through rugs, curtains, and/or upholstered seating), and always, always, some plants.

And here is probably my least favorite view. Not because of the light fixture, which I am obsessed with (it’s not original to the house- it’s from ebay, but it definitely feels like it could be). No, it’s actually that air return vent on the wall. Do you see it? Me too. It is such an unfortunate place for a large vent to be on your wall. I tried to distract myself from its’ unsightliness by hanging a really pretty seascape ($20 flea market find!) but it’s only kind of working.

So instead let’s turn back around and take in this view one more time. Much better.

I have played around with many different centerpieces over the years, but this little set up is definitely my favorite so far. The driftwood is sculptural and interesting, but narrow enough not to get in the way of plates, and low enough not to block the view of people seated across from you. Some tiny succulents sit on top for a pop of green, and the candles are for ambience. The girls ask us every night at dinner to “hot the candles,” and we are always happy to oblige.

So that is our dining space! We don’t have an eat in kitchen, so this is not one of those rooms that only gets used on special occasions or when we feel like being fancy. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner here every day. For that reason, I really wanted it to be a comfortable space for our family. It has some more traditional elements that go with the style of the home, like the gold chandelier and the built ins, but they are balanced with modern pieces, like the black armchairs and record player console, so it feels like us. It’s a calm and relaxing space to be in, with a warm and soft color palette, but the mix of textures keep it interesting.

For us, this is the real heart of the home. This is the place where the girls tell Daddy about their day, where we go around the table playing silly games like “guess what animal I am,” where we uncork a bottle of wine and talk about our dreams for the future. No distractions- just us.

Tell me what you think! Are you feeling this old school, traditional meets mid-century meets rustic minimalist vibe we’ve got going on?

*Photos by Amanda Seifert Photography

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When Penny told me that she wanted a pink and purple room in her new house, I panicked. For like, a minute. And then I decided to accept the challenge and try to find a way to make her the 4 year old girl bedroom of her dreams, and also a place that I might enjoy spending time in.

Penny’s room is a decent size, so we had some flexibility with furniture arrangement, but priority number one was choosing a paint color. Here is what the space initially looked like:

(And there’s Lucy looking slightly creepy hiding in the closet with Puppy).

Spacious, two windows, a closet- the perfect blank slate. We decided on a very soft lavender color for the walls (Silver Peony by Sherwinn Williams), and it turned out to be the ideal shade for pleasing a purple loving little girl and her neutral loving Mama. After that, it was just a matter of bringing in furniture and accessories to complete the space.

Here is the design board I shared with you previously:

Like Lucy’s room, we strayed a little from the original plan once we started bringing things into the space, but the overall feel still has the color palette and vintage look I was going for. Now let’s get started with our tour, shall we?

And here we are. I found that white metal day bed with a trundle on Craigslist and quickly snatched it up. It was such a great deal, and would be so useful for sleepovers once Penny got a little older. We decided to place it right in front of the window so that it would be the first thing you saw when you walked into the room.

Flanking the bed is a palm plant that just screams “Please lounge with a bowl of grapes beneath my draping leaves.” Above the bed to the left hangs a painting with the perfect purple and pink hues. We have had that painting in various rooms of our various homes for years, and it has never looked so good as it does in Penny’s room.

The bedding stayed mostly neutral in white and cream tones for flexibility, but I used the opportunity to bring in some color in the throw pillows. Can a day bed ever have enough throw pillows?!

I went a little crazy at Target because they happened to have a ton of pillows in our color palette at the time- I just love the soft vintage inspired shades of lavender, dusty pink, and mustard.

You’ll notice the same cordless bamboo shades adorning these windows that showed up in Lucy’s room– I love the texture they bring to the space. Beneath the other window, we placed Penny’s white dresser, and added in a sweet little retro chair with a pink velvet seat beside it (another Craigslist find).

I styled out the dresser with a lamp, picture frame, and plant that Penny picked out herself at the nursery.

To the right is our old record player. Penny was so excited to have one in her very own room, and listens to vintage Disney story books on it all the time.

In the corner, we put a tiered round table for bedtime necessities- a lamp, essential oil diffuser, and a couple other little odds and ends.

On the floor is a basket for stuffed animals, which Penny calls her “friends” (and I hope she continues to do so for a very long time).

On the opposite wall is some cube shelving for more toy storage- Barbies, train sets, legos, you name it.

That antique globe on top of the shelf is still one of my favorite things ever.

On the wall opposite the bed, we hung a pretty sunburst mirror and some book shelf ledges.

There is still plenty of space for play in this room, and the girls sit on the oval jute rug with their books and toys all the time, making shockingly appalling messes at record speed. That is the point though, I suppose.

So there you are! This is such a fun girly space, and I am still shocked that I can love a pink and purple bedroom as much as I do. Penny’s 4 year old dreams definitely came true when she first saw her finished bedroom, and yet I imagine her loving this room just as much 5 or 10 years from now. It is a pretty little room for a pretty little girl to grow up in, and that makes us both very happy.

What do you think? Could you get on board with some pink and purply goodness? Tell me your thoughts!

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We weren’t sure how Lucy was going to react to having her very own bedroom. She went from sleeping in a rock and play beside my bed, to sharing a room with her big sister when she was 6 months old, and the girls have shared ever since (check out this post and this post to see their previous rooms). We enjoyed them sharing rooms for a while, but as Lucy started to approach 2, it was getting a little harder to get the girls to settle down and go to sleep together in the same room.

So, when we bought our 3 bedroom home this past spring, we decided the girls would have their own rooms this time around. Lucy, being the youngest, got the smaller room, but she also got the cuter room, in my opinion. She has a view of the backyard and bright pink flowering crepe myrtles right outside her window, and there is a cute little home with a farmhouse style fence in the distance. She also gets the best morning light- walking past her open doorway with the sun streaming through her windows in the am seriously makes me so happy.

Let me show you what we had to work with when we first purchased the home:

I told you it was small. Also, the wall color wasn’t great for a little girl (or maybe anyone…I swear it was even worse in person). But the floors were in good condition, the bead board ceiling was cute, and it was the only bedroom of the 3 with crown moldings (major bragging rights for a 2 year old to have, am I right?). Also, there was a tiny closet, which was a nice change from the old armoire that both girls had to share in our last closet-less apartment.

Here is the design plan I created for Lucy and showed you a couple of weeks ago (in this post):

Since she didn’t have a dresser (and I didn’t really see a need for one now that she had her own closet with plenty of storage), I thought we would use the white armoire for toy and dress up storage instead. Also, I loved that piece and couldn’t think of another place to put it, so into Lucy’s room it went! Come to think of it, Lucy’s room is basically a reusing and re-purposing of many items we already had. I think the only thing we actually bought for this space was a nightstand. Second child problems I suppose. In all honesty, though, I love that we were able to create a fresh new space out of almost all existing pieces.

Let’s take a tour now, shall we?

Isn’t that the sweetest? I’ve told you before, I love cute little spaces (remember this playroom nook I designed a couple of years ago?). This room is definitely that. We decided to have Lucy make the switch from a crib to a twin bed when we moved into the new house, and she handled the transition swimmingly. Penny’s old bed fit perfectly along that wall, and the wardrobe filled in the opposite wall nicely. I debated on the perfect rug for this room, and when I threw that little round jute one down, it just felt right. There is something about a round rug that softens all the square edges of the furniture and brings everything together.

I discarded the patterned curtain idea from my original design plan, mostly because the bed being along the window made hanging curtains sort of difficult. I really love the way the cordless bamboo shades look in here though- they are clean and simple, but add a nice bit of warmth and texture. I actually used them in all of the bedrooms because I loved them so much.

I also strayed a little from the design plan with the pillows, mostly because I ended up using the dark green pillows in the living room instead. But I love how these plaid ones match the soft minty wall color. Also, I know you’ve seen that mermaid doll about a million times now in the girls’ rooms, but it was the gift we gave to Penny when we found out she was going to have a little sister, so… sentimental value I suppose.

We saw that cute carved wood bedside table on clearance at Celadon and snatched it right up. It is the perfect playful piece for a little girls’ room- do you see the legs are carved to look like animal legs? So fun. Lucy loves having her own plant (which she helps take care of as well), and that star nightlight from Target is seriously the best- I kind of want one for myself. Also, you can see that we replaced the dark wood fan for a white one that would blend in and go unnoticed (so maybe you didn’t notice then? I suppose that would mean it served its’ purpose…)

Another example of reusing- this is the fourth bedroom of Lucy’s that she has had that paper lily chandelier hanging above her bed. At this point, she will be taking it with her to hang over her marital bed one day as well.

Here is that sweet little armoire I was telling you about- it houses her toys and dress up clothes, as well as pajamas, socks and underwear. Extra toys are stored in the basket at the foot of her bed, and stuffed animal friends go in the basket beside the armoire.

Early on, I envisioned putting a teepee in this room to create a little reading nook, but quickly came to the realization that the room was just too tiny. We used this canopy we already had instead, popped the pouf we also already had inside of it, and called it a day. It’s still a really fun corner that both girls love to spend time in, and Lucy is none the wiser that she never did get that teepee.

And that’s about all there is to see! Lucy took to this room like white on rice- she climbed right into that bed like it had been hers all along and has never looked back. She really loves having her own space, and takes very good care of it as well. She seriously can’t go to sleep if a toy is left out or the closet door is left ajar. Kevin worries a bit about her ocd-like tendencies, (and blames me for them), but I see nothing wrong with it at all. When your room looks this good, you gotta keep it looking that way (wink).

Tell me what you think! Would you call dibs on this room? Or would you hold out for the bigger purple room? A tour of Penny’s room is coming next week, I can’t wait to show you!

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It’s here, it’s finally here! I’ve been dying to share our kitchen renovation with you for months now, but pesky little unfinished projects kept getting in the way. I know I’ve mentioned before that when we took down a wall between the kitchen and living room, we discovered an old brick chimney that had previously been plastered over. We immediately decided to expose it, loving the architectural interest it would bring to our home, but the ceiling and surrounding walls and flooring needed to be trimmed out once the plaster came down. It was one of those seemingly simple but actually complex little details at the end of the renovation that was just easier to ignore for a while since it didn’t really affect our day to day lives, aside from being an eye sore and preventing me from having photographs taken of the otherwise finished space.

A couple of weekends ago, we finally found the motivation to finished it up, and like any project that you keep putting off, we have been saying ever since, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” It’s the little final details that make all the difference, isn’t it? And now, thanks to my sister Amanda, who came over with her fancy cameras and mad skills and started clicking away, I can start sharing a tour of our home with you! I am kicking it off with the room that has undergone the biggest transformation: the heart of the home, the apple of our eye… the kitchen.

I have never had the privilege of completely gutting and renovating a kitchen in one of our homes before. We have either lived in rentals or homes that already had good enough kitchens, where we couldn’t justify taking out a nice stone counter top or decent cabinetry even if it wasn’t what we would have picked… you know the story. But this time, the gutting of said kitchen could absolutely be justified. If you want to read about the whole process, (progress photos, the reasoning behind our design choices, design plans, and hiccups we encountered along the way), click back to this post. Otherwise, we are going to skip to the fun part and show you the finished product! But first, some before pictures, because who doesn’t love a good before and after?

Before:

Phew. Those drop ceiling tiles and that faux marble peel and stick flooring still manage to give me the chills. I would also like to draw your attention to the rusty appliances and the weird mirrored back alcove, because it’s the last time you’ll see them.

And now, for the after! Starting with the sink area, because that’s my favorite part:

Sigh. Have I ever told you before that one of my wish list items for my dream home was to have a sink in front of a window? It’s sort of a small and silly thing, but there’s something so nice about looking out the window when you’re stuck at the sink washing dishes.

I cannot tell you how happy I am that we opted for open shelving instead of upper cabinetry in this kitchen. We have to keep them looking neat all the time, sure, but it forces me to only have dishes that I love the look of and that we absolutely need, something the minimalist inside of me appreciates. It also opens up this tiny kitchen, which is a major bonus. We used leftover butcher block from the counter tops to make the shelves, and the cobweb cast iron brackets are one of my favorite little details in this kitchen.

I originally switched over to wood handled scrubbing brushes because they are just so much prettier than sponges, but now I am a convert. Touching a stinky soggy sponge is gross you guys! These last longer and end up costing less than the amount we used to spend on sponges, and they work wonderfully. I also love the look of the amber glass jars for dish and hand soap.

Our coffee station continues to serve us well each morning, and I love having everything we need right out in the open (including that little milk frother on the upper shelf to the right- not sure what I ever did without it!)

Now lets move on to the area that used to house the rusty old fridge, and is now a counter seating/prep area.

Taking down the top half of that wall to create an opening into the dining room has been life-changing. It opens both spaces up so much, and makes the kitchen feel so much less isolating. The girls sit on those stools all the time to watch or help us meal prep (and by help I mean sneak peanut butter fingers straight from the jar), and it is one of our favorite hang out spots in our home.

This view seriously makes me so happy.

And right now, I have to interject to let you in on a little secret. That adorable trailing succulent on the wall…it’s fake. It’s taking a lot out of me to admit that to you, because I have always been very anti-faux plants. I have like 20 plants in every room of my house, and each and every one of them is alive and well. I love real plants so so much. But for some strange reason, every plant that I have put in this spot has died a quick and brutal death. I don’t know if that particular spot just doesn’t get enough sunlight or what, but I felt pretty strongly that that wall needed a plant, and when I saw this one at West Elm I decided to give it a whirl. I’m kind of loving it. Don’t judge too harshly.

This little stove is my dream stove. I love the retro look of it with the cute little clock.

I have been coveting library sconces for a while, and this seemed like the perfect place for one, highlighting our shelf above the stove.

You can tell we have children because of the gold fish crackers in the canister. What do they put in those things that makes kids go so nuts for them?! On second thought, don’t tell me- all I know is that that canister can never be allowed to go empty.

And finally, here is the little space that I told you in the previous kitchen design plans post that we weren’t sure what to do with. After knocking down the mirrored wall that led into the living room, we were left with a wide hallway and some extra space under the arched window. We debated a little bistro table and chairs, but ultimately decided that a pantry storage piece would be more functional for us.

We couldn’t put more cabinetry under the window because the window was too low, but when I saw this piece at Nadeau, I knew it would be perfect. It brings a little of the french country feel I was craving into the kitchen, and the open shelving is ideal for storing serving pieces and pantry food items inside of baskets.

I love turning on that lamp at night. If you have a place for a lamp in your kitchen, do it– it is such a cozy soft glow that I greatly prefer to harsh overhead lighting.

And now I’m going to show you the view from the living room, and tell you my one regret with this kitchen renovation: the fridge placement.

From the moment that fridge was moved inside, it immediately felt huge to me. It sticks out so much, and it drives me crazy that when I see the space from this angle, it blocks so much of the pretty open shelving and subway tile that I love. It just instantly makes everything feel tighter and smaller.

 Our solution is to move the fridge and put another cabinet and counter top in its’ place- this will give us more storage and also some prep space right beside the stove. And do you see that wall space opposite the arched window, beside the hanging apron? That will be the new fridge location. The plan is to recess it into the wall so that only the doors are sticking out, and we will have to borrow some space from the half bath that is behind that wall in order to do it. It will be a bit of a headache, but I really do think it will be worth it in the end (and if you agree, please tell my husband, who is not looking forward to another project and could use a little convincing). With small kitchens, every extra inch of space you can get counts, and I think that moving the monstrosity of a fridge will make all the difference.

With that one regret aside, I am still elated with the way our first major renovation turned out. When you are working within a very short timeline, mistakes are bound to be made, simply because you are forced to make decisions quickly and don’t always have the time to think everything through as much as you would like.

Still, as I scroll through these photos of our kitchen, I am feeling all the heart eyes, partly because of my sister’s photography witchcraft, (seriously, I am convinced that she could make a dumpster look beautiful), but also because we had a say in every little detail that went into this kitchen. We certainly didn’t go crazy- this is a budget friendly kitchen if ever there was one. But we kept it light bright and white just the way we like it, with wood and gold tones for warmth, and just enough vintage farmhouse charm for it to feel like it belongs in our older home.

One thing is for certain- I won’t be tiring of this space any time soon. I want to spend time in here, cooking meals for my family, pouring wine with Kevin and having sticky peanut butter-laced conversations with my girls, and that is what makes a home.

Let me know what questions and comments you have, I want to hear your thoughts!

For more information and links to the materials used in this renovation, click back to the Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Design Plans post.

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We are well into September, and the hint of coolness in the air, the whisper of changes to come, is having the same effect it always has on me. What is it about the impending change of seasons that leaves me feeling inspired to update and refresh my own life as well? After a whirlwind home renovation in the spring, followed by another hot and humid Charleston summer in which we were inclined to fan ourselves and retreat to the AC more than anything else, we have finally been motivated these last couple of weeks to tackle those last little projects and make our home feel like a finished product. With final touches like trim work and paint all completed, I am gearing up to have photos taken of our spaces so that I can give you a tour later this month.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share some of the design plans that inspired and guided us in the making of our new home, starting with the girls’ rooms. Just to refresh your memory (or fill you in if you haven’t been following along in our frequent moving saga over the past couple of years), the last two homes we resided in were historic 2 bedrooms that were tall on charm but short on space, which meant the girls shared a bedroom. In this post, I shared their first bedroom, in this post I shared their second bedroom, and in this post I waxed poetic on the joys of siblings sharing rooms. I believe I actually said the words “even if we had an extra bedroom, I believe I would still have the girls share a room,” and other such nonsense. Well, now, I am about to eat my words, because the second we bought a 3 bedroom house, I got to work planning each of the girls’ very separate bedrooms.

The main reason we decided to give the girls their own rooms this time around, rather than use that third bedroom for say a guest room or an office, was due to bedtime routine difficulties. With Lucy getting older and she and Penny becoming more entertained and amused by each others’ company, it was taking longer and longer for them to fall asleep in the same room, and my frustration levels were increasing exponentially. I love my children and feel very lucky to be able to spend my days at home with them, but when that clock strikes 7 and it is time for bed, I am ready for bedtime. I do not find it amusing to spend my few precious minutes of adulting going into their room repeatedly, morphing into mean mommy a little bit more each time, until they finally fall asleep from sheer exhaustion (and thus so do I). The other reason we opted for separate bedrooms was because Penny was elated with the prospect of having her own space, and while I wasn’t sure how Lucy would feel about it, she ended up relishing in having her very own room as well. Turns out, Lucy’s kind of an introvert like her mama.

And so, while Kevin spent his free time knocking down walls and tearing out cabinets, I spent mine fantasizing about the fun part, the design of our home. While I tend toward a more neutral color palette in the main living areas, and had already decided on a creamy white (“Alabaster” by Sherwinn Williams) for all of the walls and trim, I was feeling a little daring and decided to go with different paint colors in the girls’ rooms.

Penny was pretty adamant that she wanted a pink and purple bedroom, so I ever so subtly steered her toward a soft lavender shade for her walls (“Silver Peony” by Sherwinn Williams) and since Lucy was too young to express much of an opinion one way or the other, I decided on a light minty green for her room (“Window Pane” by Sherwinn Williams). Having never designed a pink and purple room before, and knowing that it could go very wrong very quickly if not done correctly, I started pinning some images on Pinterest to help guide me.

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While all of the images that spoke to me were very childlike and whimsical, the warm muted tones and vintage style furniture made them feel more sophisticated and easy on grown up eyes like my own. Pulling ideas from these inspiring designs, I got to work creating my own.

In Penny’s room, I loved how the dusty rose color coupled with the mustard yellow brought the color palette to a whole new level (less pink and purple Disney Princess and more sweet vintage little girl’s room). The plan was to find a new vintage style white bed for her, and use our existing white dresser and wood toy shelving for storage. The mix of white and wood furniture would add more interest and warmth to the space without competing with the complex color palette. In addition to the lavender walls, the color would be brought in through pillows and other textiles.

In Lucy’s room, we knew we would be using Penny’s old Jenny Lind bed as well as our white armoire for toy storage. Her room is much tinier than Penny’s (yet still bigger than their last shared bedroom funnily enough), but I was hoping to bring in a cute bedside table and create a cozy little reading nook for her as well, inside of a teepee or canopy of some sort. I really loved the softness of the mint green walls, so instead of bringing in a contrasting color, I decided to keep it serene and simple and add in darker tones of green instead. I played with the idea of bringing in some vintage style patterned curtains as well, since I loved the look of patterned wallpaper in the inspiration photos, but did not love the cost.

While the last two rooms I had designed for the girls had a very neutral backdrop of white walls and white curtains, with color being brought in through textiles and accessories, these designs were definitely a departure from my comfort zone, and I was excited to get started.

I plan on sharing a tour of each of the girls’ rooms soon. The design boards really helped me to plan out and implement the designs, but like always things evolved and strayed a little from the original plan once we got into the space. I really love how both rooms turned out, and more importantly, so do Penny and Lucy, but I will tell you that I do kind of have a favorite. I’m excited to show you the finished products!

Which design board is your favorite? Do you prefer white walls or color? Would you ever let your 4 year old pick the color for her bedroom walls? Tell me your thoughts!

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To My Four Year Old

Dear Penny,

Several weeks ago, on the eve of your fourth birthday, you couldn’t wait for the morning, convinced that when you woke up you would finally be taller than Mommy. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if you did find yourself taller than Mommy one day, but I am glad that day is not today.

Growing up is in the forefront of your mind lately- vegetables are going down much easier for you these days with the promise that they will help you to grow big and strong, and you talk every day about what your life will look like when you are a grown up. So far, we know that you will live in a pink house with lots of flowers, and you will be a Mommy to one boy and two girls- Shushy, Creepy, and Rose.  Your children will let you read to them and cook for them, and they will be very cute and very silly. How could they not be with names like those?

I have no doubt that you will be a very good Mommy one day, if that’s what you choose to be. Your loving and compassionate nature will make anyone who is a part of your life very lucky indeed. For now though, I am really hoping that you just enjoy being four. It is such a fun age, for you to experience and for me to watch. It is about becoming more curious about the world, and more independent. It is about forming friendships and dreams for the future, and discovering who you are and what you truly love.

Today, at the age of four, you are a girl with a fierce love for your family. You are also a girl who loves to create. Just yesterday, you made Daddy his very own coloring book full of things he loved, (including a very large mug of frothy beer), because he didn’t have one. You made your sister a Daniel Tiger themed story book for her to read at bedtime, and you made me a book about our family. My favorite page is the portrait you made of me in the morning, complete with glasses, striped pajamas, and bed head. The amount of thought and detail you put into everything is truly amazing. You love nothing more than sitting at your art table with a fresh piece of paper, and I love watching to see what you will come up with next.

Another place you will happily be is helping your Mom in the kitchen. You are getting really good at cutting up fruits, and love to help me bake or prepare dinner. You also like to help me clean, and I am going to enjoy this phase for as long as it lasts.

You are a rather emotional little girl, and are still learning how to handle the strong feelings that you have. You have never in your life thrown a tantrum- instead, your eyes well up with tears as you fight to let them fall when you are feeling upset. Your response is to hide and close yourself off when your feelings get too intense, and curiously enough, you have a similar response when you get too excited as well. When your favorite parts of a song or movie play, you often cover your ears and hide, as though you just can’t handle the excitement that you are feeling. It can be amusing, but also incredibly sweet.

I know every parent thinks this about their children, but your Daddy and I truly believe you are the sweetest, smartest, most amazing little girl with the biggest heart in all the land. Keep loving and learning and growing my sweet girl, but most importantly, enjoy being four!

*These photographs were taken last winter, so of course Penny looks like a million years older now, but Amanda Seifert Photography captured her personality so well, I had to include them in this post!

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As soon as the offer was accepted on our new old home, our wheels started spinning with renovation ideas. We had so many plans, and wouldn’t be able to do them all at once (budget and a 7 week timeline before move in day being the main constraints), so we had to prioritize.

The number one priority for me was patching and painting all of the walls and trim. And removing all of the popcorn ceilings (not for the faint of heart). The walls looked like they hadn’t been repainted in years, and the majority of the house was a flesh toned color that did nothing to brighten the space, in spite of all of the windows and natural light. We also knew we wanted to knock down a wall and another partial wall. Basically, all the dusty and messy stuff needed to get done before we moved us and all of our belongings into the new place.

That left room, realistically, for one more project- renovate the kitchen or renovate the full and half baths. All three of these spaces were in need of renovating, but they were also all in livable condition. It was really a matter of what we wanted to get done more and what we could live with waiting on. We ultimately decided to renovate the kitchen, because I felt like living through a kitchen renovation down the road, while residing in our home, would be more difficult. That, and kitchens are just more fun!

The next question was exactly how much renovating we wanted to do. The only elements of the kitchen we really liked were the bead board walls and the two light filled windows. The cabinets weren’t our favorite by any means, but we could potentially repaint them and save money there. Everything else- the rusty old appliances, the horrible drop ceiling, the even more horrible peel and stick faux marble floor tiles- had to be addressed. We also needed to consider layout- now was our chance to customize the kitchen to our liking, and we really wanted to get it right (which we didn’t, exactly, but more on that later).

The main problem with the kitchen was that it felt really closed off from the rest of the house. I didn’t necessarily want to knock down a bunch of walls and change our entire house into the open concept style that is so popular these days. I actually liked that this home felt like an older home, and there is a certain coziness to having separate spaces. But I also didn’t want the kitchen to feel like an isolated space in the back of the house, so we opted to make a few minor changes that we thought would help add flow to the home while still keeping its’ original integrity.

First, we decided to remove the cabinetry and dated mirrored back splash in that odd little alcove, and knock down that wall. Behind that was our living room, so it would create a nice pass through to that side of the house. Kevin cut that hole in the wall literally the day we closed on the house- it couldn’t come down fast enough! We soon discovered that there was also an old brick chimney that had been plastered over, and we quickly worked to expose that as well.

The other major change we made was cutting out the top half of the wall looking into the dining room, which made a huge difference in opening up both spaces. Because that wall was where the fridge was originally located, we knew we would have to change the layout of the appliances slightly, and thus the cabinets. When we took a closer look at the cabinetry, it became obvious that the age and quality (there were no backs on them), meant that we wouldn’t be able to simply relocate them- they were not worth repainting and would have to be replaced.

Once we had a game plan, I got to work on the fun part- the design plan. Even though we would be doing the labor ourselves, we were still on a tight budget, which would play a major role in the materials and finishes we ended up using. Still, I am no stranger to working within a budget, and was giddy to be renovating a kitchen that would pretty much be a blank slate!

In keeping with the historic style of our colonial home, we opted to go for a modern farmhouse look. Kevin and I started pinning images we liked on Pinterest for inspiration, and were really drawn to photos of kitchens from the 1930s in particular.

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What we liked about them was that instead of matching upper and lower cabinets everywhere, the storage pieces were separate pieces of furniture. Even the sink and appliances often stood alone as opposed to being built into the kitchen. As a nod to this style, we knew we would want some separate piece of furniture for storing pantry items, whether a hutch or shelf or buffet, and we also knew that we didn’t want any upper cabinetry. We opted instead for simple shaker style lower cabinets (surprisingly affordable ones from Lowe’s) and open shelving on the walls above, since we really liked the look of our dishes and were happy to display them anyway.

The other sort of controversial choice we made was to go with white appliances. I know everyone feels like they need to get stainless steel these days, but honestly, I’m over it. It felt too modern for this house in particular, and I wanted the appliances to sort of blend into the background rather than stand out. Besides, we knew we wanted gold finishes in the cabinet knobs and pulls (and a gold towel bar instead of putting fake pulls on that drawer below the sink, an idea I saw on Pinterest and loved). A retro style Smeg fridge was the ultimate dream, but out of our price range, so I was happy to find a line of appliances called GE Artistry that still had a retro look to them- I mean, how stinkin’ cute is the little clock on that stove?! I was also really loving the painted cabinetry thing that has been happening all over the design blog world, and thought a deep green would be so striking.

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Lastly, a combination of butcher block counter tops by the dining room cut out and quartz counter tops by the farmhouse apron front sink would bring in both some warm wood tones and the cool marble look I had been coveting. For the floors, we would go with a classic black and white tile- timeless and affordable. Thus my first design board for our kitchen was born:

We planned on moving the stove over and putting the fridge next to it, with a shelf above for storage. By the sink, we wanted to remove the upper cabinets and replace with 2 more shelves on each side. Finally, under the cute arched window by the walkway to the living room, I toyed with the idea of a little bistro table and chairs. It was all looking pretty good, and we were getting excited about our vision for the space. And then life happened.

The first issue was with the cabinets and the fact that we were buying them from a big box store instead of having them custom made. Because the drawer fronts were not deep enough, we wouldn’t be able to do the apron front sink of my dreams, and would instead have to do a drop mounted white sink. The other problem was paint- even though I loved the look of painted cabinets, the reality was that we were buying new white cabinets with a very slick factory finish, and it would have been nearly impossible for us to sand them down enough for the paint to stick, then paint them well enough to look professionally done. The last thing I wanted was for us to do all of that work, only for the paint to start peeling off. Had we been refinishing the old cabinets, I would have definitely done it, but it was just feeling like too much work for brand new cabinets with not the best quality wood. Who knows what we would have found once we started sanding them? Plus, we started to wonder if maybe the dark green painted cabinet look was a trend that we would eventually tire of. The cabinets were new, white, a safe color that would always suit our tastes, and it would save us a ton of time and effort to just leave them as is.

The next thing I had to give up was the quartz counter tops. I really loved them, truly, but I also really loved the butcher block, and as the renovations went on and more and more things kept coming up (thus bleeding more and more money from the budget), we ultimately decided to save and just go with the butcher block everywhere. I wasn’t too upset, as I really loved the warm look of it (especially since our cabinetry would now be white on white walls with white appliances), but promised myself I would find a way to bring in that marble look I loved elsewhere, perhaps in the form of a marble tray or other kitchen accessory.

As we got to demoing and painting, we realized that not all of the bead board on the walls would be salvageable, particularly where the upper cabinets had been flanking the window above the sink. We made a last minute decision to do white subway tile all the way to the ceiling on that wall instead, and I am so glad that we did. It’s such a simple but classic detail that adds just another subtle, interesting element to our kitchen.

Another last minute decision was to go a little bolder with the floor tiles.

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I had been coveting the aged cement tiles that are becoming really popular with kitchens as of late, (but again they were not in our price range), and then I stumbled upon a porcelain tile on Wayfair with a similar look for a fraction of the price. I loved how the bold pattern would create interest in our otherwise white and understated kitchen, and Kevin agreed.

So here is our revised design board- I changed out the wooden hutch for a gray washed buffet, because of all of the wood tones that would now be brought in with our counter tops. I also love how it pulls some of the gray tones from the floor tiles. You may also notice that the fridge is different- once we went to order the first one, they couldn’t find it in stock anywhere and we had to find a new one very quickly. Still, I think it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I love having a freezer on the bottom (we hardly ever use it), and the shorter french doors definitely help in the tight space. Still got that cute little retro style stove though!

cabinets / floor tiles / fridge / stove / butcher block counter tops and shelves / faucet / cabinet pulls / cabinet knobs / towel bar / milk glass pendant / black library sconce / cast iron shelf brackets

So there you have it! The kitchen is almost done (with the exception of some trim work that needs to be installed and painted), and we really do love it. Its such a pretty space, white and bright the way I like it, but with lots of warm textures in the walls and counter tops. I am obsessed with our open shelving- the cast iron cobweb brackets bring in so much character, and I love being able to put away and get dishes down so easily from those shelves.

Still, after living with it for a few months, there are some more changes we are now planning on making. We want to move the fridge from its’ current location beside the stove, as it just feels like it sticks out too far and blocks to much of my favorite view when coming in from the living room. The plan is to steal some space from the half bath behind the wall (along the walkway toward the living room) and recess it into the wall. Then, we can get another lower cabinet to place beside the stove instead. We are also still on the hunt for the perfect buffet piece for under the arched window- I am hoping to find something vintage and full of character, that can conceal our pantry items and microwave (which is currently and most inconveniently residing outside in the shed, as I refuse to take up all that precious counter space on an ugly ol’ appliance).

For a full tour of the finished product, head over to the Tour of Our Modern Farmhouse Kitchen post!

Tell me your thoughts! Would you have chosen to renovate the kitchen or the bathrooms? Do you prefer the first design plan or the second? Would you ever consider doing butcher block counter tops in your own kitchen? Do you think we’re crazy for going with white appliances? I want to hear it all!

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