Home renovations, pt. 1

Hard to believe it’s been since April that I’ve posted here. My entire summer, except for one glorious week of vacation on the Oregon coast, has been consumed by home renovation projects. Like 50 of them going on simultaneously. And, as I’m sure any of you know who have renovated your homes yourselves, it has not exactly been fun, although I have enjoyed certain parts of it. We’re coming up on October here real quick and we still have projects left to finish and a couple, mainly one massive one, that we haven’t even started yet. Anxiety? Yes. Some doubt that we’re really going to pull it off? Yes. Sleepless nights and some avoidance of reality? Check and check!

Entry/Kitchen BEFORE
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Entry/Kitchen AFTER

This process has provided me with a lot of “opportunities for growth” in the areas of patience, acceptance, compromise, and letting go. Let me just say that my default when things do not go as planned is denial, blame, and negativity. I have to fight real hard not to let those things overtake me, and I’ve been up and down with this a lot lately.

When we started planning for these renovations back in December we were relying on misinformation from a moron at the bank who over promised on some things. Like WAY over promised. By the time everything was finalized, I had already had to let go of my dream bathroom remodel with a soaker tub, my hardwood floors, my cedar hot tub on the back deck, and later my new kitchen appliances. And as projects started to run over budget, I’ve had to let go of a few more things I had planned to get done. And while I may sound somewhat ungrateful, I really do love what we’ve been able to do so far. It’s kind of amazing to scribble plans out on paper and then see them come to life. There is just a part of me that revolts against having something I want taken away. Maybe that just means I’m a big baby. HOWEVER, I CAN actually reason like an adult, it just takes me a beat or two. So basically, starting in the Spring, I have been going through a cycle of 1. Outrageous excitement 2. Disappointment 3. Acceptance 4. Gratitude. I guess the universe just thought I could use some practice at this? Thanks, universe. Now leave my remodel the f*#% alone!

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Living Room BEFORE
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Living Room AFTER (for now)

What we have been able to do so far is:

  • Install new wood-look laminate flooring and new custom baseboards throughout the common areas upstairs
  • Replace carpet on the stairs and in the downstairs bedrooms
  • Modify cabinetry in the kitchen to make it more open
  • Install quartz countertops in the kitchen along with new kitchen sink, faucet, and light fixtures
  • Remove walls in the kitchen and entry and reconfigure closet in the kitchen
  • Tear off and rebuild a new deck and staircase on the front of the house
  • Stain front deck and stairs
  • Order custom metal railings for deck and staircase
  • Modify cabinetry in the living room
  • Install new French door from living room to back yard
  • Tile master bathroom, paint existing cabinetry, install new hardware and accessories
  • Tile new backsplash in the kitchen
  • Remove shrubs in front of house and replace with pavers
  • New area rug in the living room
  • New ceramic planters for front stairs
  • New baseboard heaters in living room and kitchen

So yeah, really does seem I’m an ingrate when I look at that list!

Like I said, there’s still more to do, but the inside of the house is basically done and that’s a giant relief for me. No more microwaving shit in the living room. No more having to hang out in my bedroom because it’s the only place we have furniture. And most importantly, no more sharing a bathroom with boys!

Stay tuned for home renovations part two…….


The Remodel

So, I can’t even tell you how many years I have fantasized about walking into an appliance store and picking out new appliances for my kitchen. It’s kind of a nerdy thing to fantasize about, but I have honestly spent countless hours doing it.

Right before my birthday in December, my husband and I were driving home from “town” when he looked over at me from the driver’s seat and said, in a very serious tone, “I have to tell you something”. My first thought was, “This is gonna be bad”. My second thought was, “Shit, he’s gonna tell me he actually voted for Trump instead of just teasing me that he was going to and now we’re getting a divorce”. In my head, I had already gone to “Where am I going to live? My life is over.” He quickly brought me back to reality by telling me that he’d been talking to the bank, and starting in the spring we are going to build the master bathroom we have been talking about since we moved in to our house. AND we’re getting new kitchen appliances. AND we’re rebuilding the front deck and stairs. AND we’re painting the exterior of the house. AND we’re getting new windows. AND we’re getting new flooring upstairs. AND, if we can make it work, we’re getting a spa out on the back deck. Needless to say, I did not believe him. I really thought he was messing with me, and I thought it was really mean. As the shock and disbelief subsided and it finally set in that he was telling me the truth, I started screaming, and I may have cried a little. If you guys have read my other blog post about my home, you know how important my home is to me. How long and how often I have dreamed about the projects I want to do to the house, and how unlikely it would be for my husband to be telling me we were going to do ALL of the projects. ALL OF THEM!

Just for the record, my husband did not vote for Trump (nor would he ever).

Since December, we have been planning and planning and re-planning various arrangements for the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, the front deck and stairs. It’s kind of become our Saturday morning ritual. He gets up at 5 am, stokes the fire, plows the driveway, goes on a 2 mile snowshoe walk with the dog, comes inside and brings me coffee in bed as I’m waking up and we spend the next hour or so penciling out different designs and ideas. It’s been the best winter of my life so far, guys. Also, how amazing is my husband?

Everything has not been finalized with the bank yet, so we have not financially committed to anything, but we have gotten a bid on the windows we need to replace or add, and we’ve priced out the kitchen appliances. I’ve also priced out some soaker tubs for the master bath, though I’m hoping to find a vintage cast iron claw foot. Those are pretty much the only solid costs we have nailed down so far. We’ve looked at different flooring options for upstairs, but have not made a decision yet. I’m leaning towards engineered wood, but we’ll see. A lot of the design decisions will depend on the cost of the projects as we start to bid them out and add them up. What’s very important to us both is to plan the projects with the environment in mind. That will mean buying energy efficient appliances, eco friendly materials wherever possible, and buying things of quality that will last. If doing so means that we have to wait on one or more of the projects, I’m okay with that. Luckily, my husband is very handy and his dad is a contractor. We’re planning to do a fair amount of the work ourselves which will help us save on labor costs.

exterior inspiration board

Since we’re in a holding pattern right now until everything is finalized with the bank and the funds come in, I’m trying to restrain my excitement. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been pinning things to my Remodel board on Pinterest multiple times a day, though. What’s been most interesting to me through this process so far is that, even though I’m super excited about these projects, I also know that I’m totally going to be okay if, for some reason, it doesn’t end up working out. There’s an underlying calm to it all. A healthy detachment. For that, I am most grateful.

My ideas for the design aesthetic of my remodeled home are mostly in line with the design we already have going on in the interior of the house. I have a mid century modern thing going on, mixed with 70’s bohemian and some rustic elements as well. I guess I would call it “mid century bohemian cabin in the woods”. We’re going very dark for the exterior paint (like almost black) and will have natural wood elements from the deck/porch and front door. The upstairs will most likely have continuos flooring throughout (with the exception of the bedrooms, which we had re-carpeted when we moved in – I like carpet in the bedroom since it’s so cold here in the winter). The sunroom will get tiled and the walls will be painted. We’re opening up the kitchen some by removing the L-shape in the counter and taking some walls down. My plan at this point is to do stainless steel Kitchen Aid appliances, white subway tile, keep the original wood cabinets, and build some bench seating for the breakfast nook. If the budget allows we will switch out the pink Corian countertops for white. The pink is definitely going, though. We’ll also be getting a new sink and faucet. Probably a stainless under mount, although I’m toying with the idea of copper.

kitchen inspiration board

The master bath is veering off a little from the rest of the house, as I’m leaning towards a black and white color scheme. I’m hoping that with the natural elements of the cabinetry (or countertop) and wood door leading outside, it won’t look too modern. I feel like the vision has been in my head for so long that the design elements have been relatively easy to put together. The hard part is all of the details that you don’t think about until you’re actually measuring and planning the layout of the space. We had originally wanted to put the washer and dryer in the master bathroom (they’re currently downstairs in a laundry room that you can only get to through the garage), but as we started penciling it out, it was just too cramped with a stand up shower and a soaker tub. I have not been able to enjoy a bath since we moved here, so I’m not willing to compromise on my dream bath. It’s something I used a lot in our Portland home and I really miss it. Now that we know the washer and dryer are not going in the bathroom, we are still debating where the best place is to put them. No final decision yet, but we’re leaning towards building a closet for them in the hallway behind the kitchen. My only concern is how much space it will end up cutting from the kitchen.

master bath inspiration board

I’m cautiously optimistic about the entire project and will be posting updates as the remodeling begins.

If you’d like to check out my Remodel board on Pinterest, have a look here. And if you have any tips or advice from your own remodeling projects, please feel free to share!


The hygge life

I only this year learned of the Danish word and concept of hygge (pronounced “hoogah”). I have no idea how this information escaped me for my whole adult life (especially considering my Scandinavian heritage), but I’m pretty stoked I finally have it. For those like me who made it to 2016 before discovering this word and it’s meaning, I’ll do my best to explain. While there is no direct translation, the closest word we seem to have in the english language is “coziness”, although it means so much more than that. In essence, it means creating a warm and cozy atmosphere to enjoy life’s simple pleasures with the people you love. The Swedes and Norwegians have their own translations of hygge. It’s an important part of the Scandinavian culture. And it makes sense. It’s from these Scandinavian cultures with long, dark and cold winters that this concept was born. It’s a way not only to cope with, but to actually enjoy and delight in the circumstances of those long winters. A group of friends and family gathered around a table full of candlelight and lively discussion, enjoying some mulled wine and a warm meal. Curling up with a book and your favorite blanket in front of the fire, a perfect cup of coffee in your hand. That’s hygge.

I wish someone had told me of this sooner! I’m closing in on my fourth winter in Northern Idaho. The first one was brutal. The last two have been a bit more mild, but still long and dark with plenty of snow. All three have found me at some point feeling depressed and hopeless. When it’s dark at 4:00 in the afternoon and zero degrees outside for like months, my perspective on life changes. And not in a good way. By mid March, when the snow is still falling, I start weeping a little on the inside (and sometimes on the outside). It’s usually followed up by a bitter Instagram post with some expletives. And while I’d love to be able to order some resort wear online and fly off to some tropical paradise for a couple of weeks, that’s just not in the budget for me right now. So perhaps a new attitude and a shit load of candlelight will do the trick. I’m willing and ready to give it a go.

I’m not sure what this winter has in store as far as weather is concerned (they’re saying it’s going to be a wet one here in the Northwest which means a lot of snow up here on the ridge), but I can tell you that I plan to fully embrace the hygge life. I’m determined to keep a mindful and positive perspective. My candles have been purchased, my vintage inventory has been raided for all things cozy, my living room and dining room have been rearranged, my sewing room is ready for me to craft the shit out of something, and my mind is prepared to embrace this long, dark and cold winter.  Maybe I’ll even get into the Holiday spirit this year (it’s been a while).

If you want some hygge inspiration of your own for this winter, check out my pinterest board. It’s full of all things cozy and warm. If you have any hygge inspiration for me, I’d love for you to share! Leave your comments below. And if you’re looking for candlestick holders to live out your hygge dreams, I almost always have some in stock so check out Douglas Vintage.





So my home is ready for winter, my mind is prepared for a new perspective, and the snow should be arriving soon, so it looks like I made it in time. I’ll let you know in the spring how it turns out.


The one day boy’s room makeover

My oldest son has always been incredibly laid back. When he was growing up, he wore whatever I bought him to wear, he ate whatever I put on the table, and he tagged along with me wherever I went. Without a complaint. Not so with my youngest. Since he was two years old, he has had very specific things he will eat and not eat, wear and not wear, places he will go and not go, movies he will see and not see. One time when he was three years old he tried to jump out of our moving car when we picked him up from school and told him we were going to see a kids movie at the theater.  Most three year old’s would think this was good news! But this was not his idea. It was ours. And he was not on board. And so it has always been difficult to navigate as a family where we are going to eat, what movie we’re going to see, because he feels so passionately for or against certain things. This gets particularly tricky for me as a mom when trying to clothe him (he refuses to wear long pants – even if it’s 19 degrees outside). So I can only buy him shorts, and they have to be a certain type of shorts and they have to fit a certain way or he will not wear them. And did I mention how stubborn he is? He can really stand his ground. For someone like me who loves style and design and fashion and decorating, this has been challenging. I want so badly to pick out his clothes, I want to decorate and organize his room, and I want him to wear a real coat when it’s cold outside. I know you’ve heard the saying “choose your battles” but I have to be really, really choosey. Because battle, this guy can do.

When it comes to designing and decorating his room, it’s mostly a battle I choose not to have any more. Pretty much every time I have done it, I have been met with defiant refusal to even consider that what I have done might be a good thing. So I have mostly given up on the idea that he will ever have a cool room. I’ve tried to involve him in the process to see if that might help, I’ve tried to redecorate while he wasn’t home, I’ve tried to catch him in the right mood, I’ve tried everything I can think of. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to his room that mostly just makes me sad to look at.

Right now, he’s twelve but in a few months he will be thirteen. He’s growing up and I feel like his room needs to grow up with him.  At the very least, his room needs to be functional. And right now, it really isn’t. His closet is an unorganized disaster full of things he does not need or use, things which only sit on his closet shelves to collect dust and mock me. He has been mentioning for a while now that he would like curtains on his windows. My mom recently gave me some curtain rods and curtains from my sister’s house that will work perfectly, and he’s even approved them! So I’m thinking this is my opportunity. He’s already expecting a change with the curtains going up, so how about I organize his closet and desk at the same time? And maybe do a few other things…..while he’s at school.




I spent most of the day cleaning out Caleb’s closet. There’s still some organizing to be done there, but this project was all about getting what I could done while he was at school and without spending any money. I had to hem the curtains my mom gave me because of the baseboard heater underneath the window. My husband happened to come home for lunch, so I roped him into installing the curtain rod while he was home. Once I got the curtains up and the closet cleaned out, I moved on to the fun part – decorating. Because my budget was $0.00, I used my ever evolving free styling skills to shop the rest of my house for decor. I took a side table from one of the guest rooms to use as a nightstand, grabbed some artwork from other parts of the house, and “borrowed” a few items that have not gone up for sale yet in my vintage shop. It came together pretty easily and I had high hopes I could convince Caleb that this was a winning situation for all. I picked him up from school and went and bought him a snack before I told him. Once he was fed, I explained what I had done and he seemed mostly concerned with whether or not I had installed the curtains. When I told him I did, he seemed relieved and I was certain I had a chance. He humored me for one day. Bless his heart. When he got home from school the very next day, he systematically removed everything I had put in his room, and moved everything back to the way it was. Oh, and he established a new rule. Whatever he puts on his walls, stays on his walls! It wasn’t a total fail……at least his closet is clean.





On my love of home

Mad love and a few details from my home

It’s a very good possibility that I take my home too seriously. Don’t worry, I have already over analyzed this for you as if you wanted to know why….

Briefly, my theory goes something like this…I come from a broken home and when my dad left, my mom had to work her ass off to keep our house. It was not easy for her, especially with two daughters on the cusp of teenage angst (more on that later). But she did it. And not only that, but she took great pride in her home. The inside, the outside, everything from the furnace to the Christmas lights. All of it. We were all falling apart when our family broke. It took years to completely fall apart and be put back together (some of us are still finishing up on construction), but our home was always a lovely and safe place to be. No matter how chaotic my life was emotionally through those years, I always had this physical refuge of home. And so my home has always been very important to me. It’s my haven, my safe place. And I want it to be lovely.

So like my mom, I keep a running list of projects that need to get done on the house, I keep my house tidy, and I decorate and redecorate and redecorate. So that when I walk into my house, I feel relaxed and I’m surrounded by the people and objects that I love. I feel at home.

When we moved to Idaho, the search for our new home was paramount to all else (at least for me). We had spent the previous seven years fixing up our house in Portland, so I was no stranger to a fixer upper. We purchased (after dramatic negotiations) a 1967 rancher with daylight basement on 13 acres of forested land that we fell in love with on a beautiful ridge line right outside of town. We’re in the country, but it only takes five minutes to get to Safeway. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. The master bedroom had been expanded in the 80’s and still had bright blue carpet. Almost every square inch of the place was painted mauve. There was very outdated (and not in a good way) wallpaper in both upstairs bathrooms and the kitchen. Removing wallpaper is top on my list of despised home projects. I thought I had paid my dues in Portland, but apparently I was wrong. I got right to work with the money we had saved for the move on replacing the worst of the carpet in the upstairs bedrooms. We decided to keep carpet in the bedrooms since it gets so cold here in the winter. Zero degrees is REALLY cold. The rest of the flooring upstairs, which is the main living space, will eventually be replaced with hardwood.


There’s a sunroom off the living room which I keep changing my mind about.  Should it be a game room?  A meditation space? An extra living area?  It’s not really going to be anything until we fix the flooring.  My dog destroyed the emerald green carpet in there by pissing all over it, so I pulled it all out one day thinking I would just slap some paint on whatever was underneath and be good for a while, until we had the time and money to tile it.  Unfortunately, underneath the carpet and padding was some sort of linoleum which some dumb ass glued a layer of foam down on, which cannot be entirely removed.  I scraped as much as I could off (and inhaled a shitload of it into my lungs), but you can’t even walk in there now without getting your socks covered in smelly gray foam particles.  It’s been at least six months since I started that little project, but it has turned into a sort of pandora’s box which will most likely involve ripping the entire front porch and decking off to rebuild it correctly so that water drains properly and doesn’t leak into the sunroom. I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re going to find a host of other problems when we finally dig into that one. That’s one thing that really sucks about a fixer upper. You have to spend all of this time and money on shit that’s not even fun. Or pretty. It’s like replacing the plumbing or the roof. Necessary, but LAME!

The biggest challenge I face today in regards to my home is patience. Or lack of it. This is also something I struggle with in almost all aspects of my life. My natural state is not one of patience. I want every project on my list done. Yesterday. I want unlimited funds and a contractor at my beck and call. I also want a new car and a beach house, but this is not my reality. No matter how many times I wish upon a hay truck. We have been in our house for three years now and almost all of the major projects on our list remain unchecked. Because major projects are expensive. And I suppose I have not learned enough of patience yet to set aside money little by little to save up for these projects. So wallpaper has been removed, walls have been painted, furniture has been moved and moved back, and I have acquired many things that I love to decorate my home with. And someday the projects will get done. All of them. You should see the version of my house I have in my mind for the future. It’s so great. I can’t wait to show you, I can’t wait for it be a reality. But I will wait. And I will practice what little I have learned of patience until we get there.

What’s your biggest challenge with your home right now?  I’d love to hear your comments below!
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