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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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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If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last several years, it’s to always be prepared for change. I’m not just talking about the changes that happen to you (although there will be plenty of those), but the changes that happen because of you. The ones that come from the inside, working their way out and creating a chain of events that leads you to a totally different place from where you were or ever imagined you would be. Does doing something you never thought you’d do mean that you aren’t being true to who you are? Or does it mean recognizing and acknowledging that who you are now is different from who you were yesterday, or who you will be tomorrow, and that’s okay? Because you guys, we did it again. It started with an inkling, a teeny thought, or idea rather, way back in January. And now here we are, months later- that little seed has sprouted into something very large and full of life, and once again our lives look completely different.

Let me take you back to the beginning. It was January, we had just finished clearing away the Christmas decorations, Kevin was done traveling for a while, and we could finally sit back and breathe after the hectic holiday season. Life was good, we were happy. And yet I couldn’t stop thinking about the email we had recently received from our landlord, asking if we planned on renewing our lease in July. Kevin and I had assumed we would, had not even questioned it, really. Still, for some reason I found myself reluctant to reply.

I kept chewing it over in my head, and before I knew it I found myself secretly checking the Trulia app on my phone almost daily. I think it started out of curiosity. We were paying an exorbitant amount of money in rent each month (so much so that our meager eating out/entertainment budget made it almost pointless to live in the center of downtown), and I wondered how much money we would save by moving just a little further away. I found a couple options that were significantly more affordable and still in desirable, walk-able neighborhoods within 15 minutes of downtown, and when the timing felt right (meaning he had a nice cold beer in his hand and was in a chipper mood), I brought up the idea to Kevin.

He was understandably shocked that moving was even on my radar, having only lived in our dream place for 6 months. But as I started talking, a whole bunch of explanations spewed out before I could stop them, things I didn’t even realize I was feeling until I said them out loud: the amount of our budget being spent on rent each month, the isolation of being one of the only stay at home moms in the area, the feeling of dread when one of our neighbors in the building would have a noisy party that would surely keep the girls up late, the frequent texts from our downstairs neighbor complaining that the pitter-patter of the girls’ little feet as they played in their home was too noisy, having to walk the dog multiple times a day because we didn’t have a yard…you get the idea). Kevin pointed out that we  knew about all of these issues going into it, and plenty of people all over the world survive without a yard and share walls with neighbors and are perfectly fine, and wasn’t it a small price to pay to be able to live in our dream location, and would it really be worth moving to a different area just to save a couple hundred dollars in rent… and not so very long ago, I would have agreed and said he was right. I had heard all of these things before- heck, I had said all of these things before (remember this post?). But it wasn’t about any one of these complaints that had slowly been festering in my head. It wasn’t even about the culmination of them. It was something about not feeling completely comfortable in our own home. Our own home. And that’s when it hit me.

“What if we bought a home instead?”

Now I know what you’re thinking. Weren’t we already homeowners once before? Weren’t we dying to get out of the suburbs, tired of the HOA complaints if our yard didn’t have the right kind of pine straw, sick of having the choice between Ruby Tuesdays and Applebees on a Friday night? Didn’t we love being able to call the landlord when something went wrong, spending our weekends enjoying our city rather than mowing our unruly lawn? It’s true, we had not been happy in our previous homeowner situation. It had never really felt right, not quite us. It was almost as though we had been playing house, doing the thing we thought we were supposed to do. Moving downtown was bold and risky, and surely everyone thought we were a little bit crazy, but at least we were listening to our hearts. It was exciting to be doing what we had always wanted to do, living out our fantasy. It felt more like us for sure. But was it a perfect fit? I still wasn’t convinced.

So we decided we would take what we had learned from two very different experiences and finally figure out what it was that we really wanted. There is no perfect situation, and you can argue both sides to every scenario, but the past couple of years had definitely given us a better idea of what was most important to us. Location was still number one, but downtown prices were completely off our radar, so we would have to look elsewhere. It would need to be a place with walk-ability, near shops and restaurants we actually liked to go to. It would need to have charm and character, a history. Our previous homes had been fairly new builds in newer neighborhoods, and although we had made changes to the insides to make them feel more like us, we never felt truly attached to them. Renting in historic downtown had taught us that old homes would forever have our hearts, so that’s what we would need to get. An older home in an older neighborhood full of character and friendly neighbors who had a pride in their community. And most importantly, it would have to be ours. A place where the girls could run freely, and Kevin and I would have plenty of projects to do to make it shine. Projects that we would be happy to do, because we would be caring for a home that we truly adored, that we wanted to lovingly restore and cultivate for our family. Soon, we had our answer.

We decided to look solely in Park Circle, a trendy up and coming neighborhood 15 minutes from downtown Charleston, full of cute old homes and its’ own downtown area with fantastic restaurants. We set up some showings for that week, and before we knew it we were once again house hunting!

The plan was to spend the next few months looking at homes in the area, find the perfect place, and still have a couple of months to do any necessary renovations before our lease was up in July. But when have we ever done things the way we planned to?

Instead, we fell in love with the 4th house we saw on our very first day of house hunting. It was a 1930s white colonial with old plaster walls, and a kitchen and two bathrooms in need of a complete overhaul. But it was perfect. 1400 square feet, not too big but not too small, since we knew from living downtown that we actually liked the minimal lifestyle of having less to take care of. 3 bedrooms, 1 and a half baths. Original wood floors with a gorgeous inlay detail. Crystal doorknobs with brass art deco plates. Arched doorways. Built ins in the living and dining rooms, and a cute little telephone nook in the entry. It was priced well, a steal in the neighborhood, with a ton of potential. When our realtor called the seller’s agent to find out the details, she discovered that there were multiple offers on the property, and we would have 3 days to come back with our best and final offer. My heart sank- I was already envisioning us there, covered in paint and knocking down walls, and now we were being forced to make some very big decisions very quickly.

We knew we had stumbled upon a gem, and we weren’t the only ones who had. The competition factor definitely upped the ante for us, so we decided to offer full asking price (which was also the maximum amount we were approved for), write the sellers a personal letter, and hope for the best. A very long day later, and we had our answer- we were about to be homeowners again!

We closed on our new home in mid February, spent several weeks renovating, and moved in at the end of March. Our landlord had agreed to let us out of our lease early (thank goodness for small miracles), and we had 7 weeks to scrape popcorn ceilings, repair and repaint very cracked and damaged walls, knock down other walls, and completely demolish and renovate the kitchen. Did I mention we were doing this ourselves, with the help of my amazing contractor father (as well as countless family and friends who either took a sledgehammer to a wall or watched the girls so I could help paint), all while Kevin continued to work 40 plus hours a week at his day job? The sheer amount of work that went into just getting the home move in ready for us in that short amount of time was insane.

But we did it! I still can’t believe we did it. Just days before we moved in, the floors still covered in paint splatters and a thick layer of dust quite literally everywhere, and I didn’t think it would be possible, yet here we are! Proof of what a little determination and hard work can do. And proof that you can think you want one thing, only to learn that what will really make you happy looks completely different. But this is life folks! It’s about evaluating what we have, what we need and what we want, whatever that may be at any given time, accepting the changes that happen both to us and within us, and finding a way to make it all work.

There are so many things I want to share with you, (so very much more than these grainy photos- although to be fair it was a construction site at the time and before photos are supposed to look bad), but this post is too long as it is, so I’m going to have to take it one day and one room at a time. I will just tell you that we are all completely smitten with our home and our neighborhood, the changes we have made and the exciting changes still to come. We are so very far from done, but one thing is certain- this feels like us. Dare I say we are finally home?

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Oh Sweet Lucy, where to begin. I am very late in writing this post, as you turned 2 on March 31st and we are well on our way into May. I have no excuse for my procrastination except to say that in my mind, turning 2 means that you are officially not a baby anymore, and admitting that my baby is not really a baby is super hard to do. And Lucy, you are so clearly not a baby anymore.

Maybe it’s having an older sister that you are desperate to catch up with, or maybe it’s your driven personality (you get that from your Daddy), but it seems like you are growing up much faster than I had anticipated. No more diapers, no more crib, and you have handled and embraced these changes so smoothly it almost makes my head spin. You are talking in sentences and singing songs, and trying to do everything yourself just like your sister does it.

You still think Penny is the coolest girl around, and find Daddy pretty hilarious too, but you are definitely Mommy’s girl through and through. You went through a phase recently where whenever we spent time around anyone outside of our immediate family, you would cling to me like a second skin and refuse to even look at anyone else for at least an hour. It was slightly annoying and inconvenient at times, but now that it’s over I will admit that I didn’t exactly hate the extra snuggles.

You are not a morning person. If anyone opens your bedroom door to say good morning before you are ready to start your day, you scream and thrash around until you are finally left alone again. I just laugh and leave you to it, probably because I can kind of relate. You prance out of your room all cheery and full of smiles a couple of minutes later, and it’s as though nothing has even happened.

 

Your puppy is still very well loved (as people will often mention when they see you out and about with him), and it’s hard to imagine a time when you won’t require his cuddly services at bedtime. We left him in a Lowe’s parking lot a couple of weeks ago, and got all the way home before we realized it. That was a rough afternoon, but thankfully he arrived back home safely and in one piece.

You love to do anything that requires focus, like coloring or puzzles, and have only recently started to get really into books, which makes me super happy. You will basically do anything your sister wants to do though, and there really isn’t anything cuter than seeing the two of you play together.

You know the words to all of the Moana songs, and would definitely watch it every day if we let you. (For a while there, we kind of did). Your favorite character is Maui (“Wowee”), and listening to you sing “I know it’s a lot, the hair, the BOD” pretty much makes our day.

You are a painfully picky eater these days, (painful because sometimes you won’t even touch your pizza or chocolate chip pancakes, and I’m sitting there with my healthy salad or veggie omelette all jealous and fighting the urge to not force feed you), and often it seems as though you are living off of fruit and goldfish crackers. You are skinny and tall for your age (not sure where you get that from, honestly), and remind me of a tiny pixie with your soft wispy hair and cute little upturned nose. I could stare at you, running around in pig tails with that teeny squeezable butt (which has been bare the last couple of weeks due to potty training) all. day. long.

You have a wicked little laugh, more of a cackle really, and Daddy spends most of his time with you trying to make you laugh just once more so we can hear it again.

Basically, we all just adore you and don’t know what we’d do without you in our lives. Penny always tells me how you are her very best friend and practically begs me to wake you up early from your nap each afternoon because she misses you too much (don’t worry, I never do- I know better by now). Daddy will goof around with you and get you all riled up and silly at any time of day (particularly right before bed, which he knows makes Mommy mad, but does it anyway because he loves you just so darn much). And Mommy? She is fighting the urge to eat you right up practically every minute of every day, you’re just that yummy.

Thank you for so perfectly completing our family, Lucy Pearl! We love love love you.

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6 months after moving out of our single family house and renting our first apartment downtown, we were finally able to sit back and breathe. Our old house had finally sold, and we were feeling quite settled and content on Queen Street. All of the little projects had been tackled, everything had been hung on the walls, and it felt like home. The ringing of the nearby bells on Church Street had become an expected and welcome sound in the background of our days, and we were used to the constant stream of tourists in front of our windows each day, excitedly pointing out the charming homes and shops along the way. And we lived in one of them! It was pretty idyllic, almost dreamlike, to be able to just focus on the here and now and be happy, without any nagging worries going on behind the scenes.

The problem with dreams, though, is that eventually there is a moment when you have to wake up. Finding out that we wouldn’t be able to renew our lease was that moment for us. Our landlord had decided that he wanted to move into our unit, and we would have to leave. It was quite the blow, learning that we would be forced to pick up and move yet again, with two young kids in a very competitive rental market. We took a minute to mourn and wallow in our bad luck, and then hit the streets looking for a new place to call home. And that’s when we learned, once again, that things often happen for a reason, and maybe there was a place out there that we would love even more.

So let me back track and tell you about the day that we saw the place we are currently calling home. I can still remember the look on the landlord’s face when he saw us walk up to the imposing Charleston double style home towering over Wentworth Street, showing off with its’ ornate Italian style double piazzas and Victorian double doors. His eyes widened in surprise, taking in our double stroller that housed two small children, and he said with an ominous chuckle, “You are all planning to live here? It’ll be tight!” (And he didn’t even know about the dog and two cats yet!). We laughed nervously and assured him that we were used to small living, and apprehensively followed him inside. I have no doubt that as he trekked up the grand staircase ahead of us to the second floor apartment, he was thinking that this would be a complete waste of his time. I, however, was too busy deeply breathing in the musty odor that only accompanies old homes and taking in the intricate plaster work along the moldings and chandelier to care.

After escaping the dank, dimly lit stairwell and patiently waiting for him to open the door to the unit, we were rewarded with a flood of natural light. I think that is what first sold me on this place- all that glorious sunlight streaming through the windows. How could you not be happy in a place like that? Ignoring the college student decor (or lack thereof) and mattresses on the floor, I couldn’t help but look around the place in awe. The shockingly tall ceilings, double fireplaces, huge windows and french doors everywhere I looked had my jaw dropping to the floor. Stepping out onto the large Southern style piazza (which was pathetically adorned with one sad little folding chair at the time), had me dreaming all sorts of dreams of what this space could be. There would be reading, and relaxing, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

View More: http://amandaseifert.pass.us/wentworth-home
View More: http://amandaseifert.pass.us/wentworth-home

After Kevin and I had kindly thanked the landlord for showing us the place and had pushed the stroller out of ear shot, we both had the exact same sentiments- there was no way we could live there, but we HAD to live there. Let me explain.

So, while we had already downsized, we were still living in a pretty standard set up on Queen Street. We had the lower flat of a 2 story home, with a long driveway for parking, and a backyard. There was a living room, a playroom, a dining room, kitchen, two normal sized bedrooms. Besides the occasional pitter-patter from the neighbors above us, we could almost pretend we were still living in a single family home, so it wasn’t a far stretch from what we were used to. This place, on the other hand, was a far stretch.

For one thing, there was a shared parking lot out back, but no yard for the girls to play in or for the dog to use when nature called, and no additional parking for guests. There was an intimidating amount of stairs leading up to the unit (and I could just imagine the headache that would come with trying to get two children up and down those stairs, along with a cumbersome double stroller). The front door opened right into the living area, with no separate entry. There was also no separate dining area (and only a tiny galley style kitchen), so the dining table would have to be in the living area as well, which, although it felt deceivingly spacious with the super tall ceilings, would definitely be a challenge to arrange furniture wise. The only closet in the entire unit was also in the living area (yes, you read that right, there were no other closets). Immediately to the right of the front door was another door leading to an almost identical room that would be the master bedroom. It felt enormous at first, until we realized that the second bedroom was a tiny room off of the bedroom, so in order to create some sort of pass-through between the bedrooms we would need to figure out a way to divide it up. The current tenants had a long curtain going across the room for privacy, which I wasn’t feeling and knew we would have to come up with a different solution should we decide to live there. I had no idea how we would fit a bed and a crib into the second bedroom, let along something to store clothes. And what about the toys? There was no way we could store toys in that bedroom, and the living space would already be cramped housing both living room and dining room furniture. There was just no way we could make it work.

And yet…

That natural light. Those windows. Two fireplaces. Three sets of french doors leading out onto a breathtaking piazza. A claw foot bath tub. An entire wall of built-ins in the bathroom. Ornate crown moldings. Original wood floors. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. We went home that night still discussing the place on Wentworth, going back and forth over how many challenges there would be to make it work for our family. We looked up the history of the home and learned that it had been built around 1850. It had survived the Civil War, the great earthquake, and Hurricane Hugo. Finally our weakness for historic charm and character (and our apparent need to make things difficult for ourselves) won out and we put in an application. I think by now you should know that Kevin and I tend to follow our hearts over our heads, (for better or worse), and just trust that everything will work out. I was nervous but also excited for the challenges ahead. If I could make this space work for us, I could make any space work…right?

Almost 7 months later, and I can’t believe we ever doubted we could do it. I am going to share a tour of our space very very soon, (I would do it now but I think this novelesque post is quite long enough for one day, and thank you if you have stuck with me this far!) along with some of the things that helped make it possible for our family of four to live comfortably in less than 1000 square feet (spoiler alert: purging and de-cluttering was huge). Until then, here is a little teaser of the outside of the building.

View More: http://amandaseifert.pass.us/wentworth-home

Wouldn’t you need to live here too?!

Photographs by Amanda Seifert Photography

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