Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Farm-house Kitchen; One Room Challenge

Just 6 weeks ago, we embarked on a long awaited kitchen remodel, complete with new countertops, tile and appliances for our 1960's era kitchen.  Throughout this time, I blogged weekly about our progress and shared some of the triumphs and challenges encountered as a guest participant in the One Room Challenge along the way. For this redesign in such a crucial area of our home, we chose not to move walls or replace cabinetry, but instead transformed these well loved bones with a contrasting paint and materials scheme that also complemented new white oak flooring replaced at the same time throughout the entire house. 

Wanna see a really good before and after? You can catch up and see where we started HERE

It was an ambitious and hair pulling undertaking to be sure. But I think the results I'm revealing today were well worth it.

Erin Neally-Holtwood Hipster-One Room Challenge-modern farmhouse kitchen-ranch style kitchen

Erin Neally-Holtwood Hipster-One Room Challenge-modern farmhouse kitchen-ranch style kitchen

We upgraded and brightened up this high traffic area in the house, creating a functional workspace open to entertaining in the adjacent dining area, which was also fully remodeled. The existing farm-style table was sanded down and given a rustic finish, intended to contrast against some of the more modern fixtures and wallpaper. We ditched the maker grade, bonded leather benches and introduced a cozier, mixed seating arrangement - complete with slipcovered host chairs, a striped linen bench cushion, and black spindle chairs on the opposite side. Our glassware cabinet saw paint and hardware upgrades which worked to create a more eye-popping display for our barware collection and chrome, nautical pendant lights were swapped out for a simple, translucent option, creating an unhindered line of sight which worked to make the room seem bigger than it really is.
We put several lighting styles to work throughout the kitchen and dining area, all of which are now set on dimmers to suit function and mood in the immediate area. Bulky under-cab lighting in both the kitchen and dining bar areas were replaced with a cooler, more efficient LED option. We also added lighting to the glass-front dishware cabinet in the kitchen area, which brightened up the bank of charcoal cabinets on the left side of the kitchen. Functional improvements went beyond lighting as well. We better utilized hidden cabinet space at the front of the peninsula, which now houses both a compact microwave and an assortment of cookbooks.

Along with our charcoal and white color scheme carried through paint, tile and veiny Silestone counters, we also incorporated various woods into the design plan. The bar shelves and flooring were built from white oak, while the countertops were custom cut from wide planked acacia. You'll also see olive wood and maple board accents weaved in throughout. Also on the lumber front, clear pine shiplap was also used to frame out both the newly added range hood and peninsula facing.

Glass was also a consistent materials theme - seen in the dining pendants, barware display and then brought full circle into the kitchen by the use of glass-front mesh overhead cabinets now showcasing our collection of white dinnerware.

What you don't see here - but what I am most excited by - is the functional impact afforded through the redesign. This One Room Challenge remodel - like the others before it (Guest Bath, Master Bedroom, Masculine Workspace , My Studio) - forced us to rethink how we wanted to better use this room within our home. We cleaned out and cleared out, donating and repurposing what we could. Our pantry has new slide out shelving (that we built ourselves!), pots and pans are not jammed behind cupboard doors and bowls are no longer cohabiting with pantry items. It's been a real game changer for us - and I can not wait to use that new all gas range.

A big thank you to Linda at Calling it Home for creating the One Room Challenge and for being such a great host to all of us who participated in the Thursday round up. As a guest participant, I always look forward to joining this event for the learning experience it provides and the design camaraderie. To that end, I also want to thank the many people who took time out of their day to encourage and motivate me during those long 6 weeks without a functional kitchen. I have to say, there were some tough, chaotic days mixed in there (and yes, lots of fast food). The kind, encouraging words offered on  my social media posts helped make it all a bit more bearable.

I also want to thank my Dad, who again jumped in to save us with his painting and carpentry skills. I estimated he put in roughly 354 miles round trip on his commute over the last 6 weeks to help push us over the edge after our awesome contractor and electricians had done their thing and we are eternally grateful. 

I'll be posting sort of an after-the-reveal in the coming week to detail some of my favorite aspects of this redesign and will be sharing a list of sources as well. So more to come... 

// Design: Erin Neally
// Construction: South Coast Pro Services
// Flooring: Diversified Flooring
// Lighting by: Trim Wholesale Lighting
// Styling and Photography: Erin Neally


Thursday, May 4, 2017


It's Week 5 of the One Room Challenge and I have a brief progress update for you on my ranch-style kitchen makeover. It's busy times over here! Afterall, I have just one week to go to make sure all the puzzle pieces come together for my design before revealing the final look to you all next Thursday! I actually plan on shooting the room over the weekend, so that means I'll be burning the midnight oil at the end of my real work day for the next couple of nights. 

Here's what's happened since we last checked in:

If you're following along on Instagram, you might have seen a sneak peek at the glassware cabinet display I was building out last Sunday. I'm pretty pleased with how the glassware contrasts against the new black background. Clearly, I'm approaching hoarder status with my glassware collection. But I can assure you that it gets used by many and often during get togethers and dinner parties. 

 There are many aspects of this room I'm already proud of. But the wood counters I sanded down and finished myself are near the top of the list. I researched endlessly to make sure I'd use the right product to protect them from wear and tear and landed on Waterlox. We're in CA so the only formula we can get our hands on is a Low VOC formula. I was nervous considering every reviewer I found online had used the regular formula. But man, this stuff went on easy and with a little elbow grease, buffed out to perfection. Its smooth as butter you guys and the beading I saw when water tested it gives me confidence that this will hold up to our daily use.

Also at the top of that list - the striped bench cushion I completed last Saturday. I'd stared at our dining bench purchased in a bonded leather for years, imaging it in bathed in stripes and now - it is. Contrast piping and everything guys... 

Our pantry makeover also came together last weekend and I've spent the last several nights organizing and restocking. My husband and I built out the Oak sliding shelves ourselves. The stain actually ties it in with the adjacent wood countertop just to the left of this cabinet. I can't wait to show you next week in the full room reveal!

I realized over the course of this week that I did not give you much of a glimpse into our purchases for the room. We worked a lot with what we had, but this remodel was also a step up from the interim makeover we had completed when we bought the house 6 years ago, so it was time for some upgrades.

 So that's where we are in Week 5. Next Thursday, I'll be sharing the final reveal with you all and I'm very excited to show you what has been accomplished in a short 6 weeks.

Be sure to check out all the other guest participants over at Calling It Home. The last week is always rough and they can use some moral support as they work to cross the finish line.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Week 4 of the One Room Challenge always seems to sneak up on me. This is my fifth round as a Guest Participant in this bi-annual makeover event and just when I think I've figured out some sort of formula for balancing the work and progress reports efficiently, Week 4 sneaks in to remind me that I'm past the half-way point now and it's time to stop concepting and buying and just kick it into high gear and finish this room up. 

But I do have progress to report and actually when I look at it here, it's not a half-bad place to be. 

The biggest win - the counters are in and we have a sink. Guys, a kitchen renovation is no joke. We had set up a makeshift kitchen in our living room just to feel as if we had a home base of sorts, but for the most part we've been eating out for nearly every meal. The temporary loss of the sink was the biggest inconvenience though. We underestimated just how often we use the kitchen sink for hand-washing, rinsing out of cups, wiping down surfaces and so forth. So you can imagine how glad we were then when the sink finally arrived and we were able to install it along with these beautiful Silestone countertops. 

 Early on, I mentioned a farm-style table re-do and today, I'm happy to finally share more details on this makeover with you. If you are following me on Instagram, you may have already seen some of the transformation. But you need to see what the original table looked like to truly appreciate the impact of the before and after. Our table was quite dark and thickly layered in a brown town stain and lacquer finish. I was so worried that underneath all of that there would be some awful veneer that I could not do much sanding with. But to my happy surprise, this table was solid wood and stripped down to a very light natural wood - much lighter than what these pictures could capture.

I refinished the top in a weathered oak look, putting my own spin on a tried and true stain mix created by prettyhandygirl (see below for more details). I've actually used this same custom mixed stain previously on a couple of other projects and I knew it would get me close to what I was hoping for with this one.

The legs and accompanying bench were painted out in Valspar's "Tomcat" in Satin - a true, but just slightly softer black. I love the contrast and how the lighter table top brings both warmth and airiness to the dining space within the kitchen now.

As you can see at the top of my post, we also removed the over-range microwave and cabinet and started to build out a range hood with insert. This will open up the space above the range like we were hoping for and let a little more of that tile backsplash show through. The peninsula also got a wrapped lumber treatment to create a more solid and streamlined look for that part of the kitchen. 

As I mentioned in the last post - we decided to refinish our existing cabinetry in lieu of buying new. So one day, all the doors finally came off and my Pops took them home to sand them down and pretty them all up. We're so lucky to have him step in and help us (again) on this project! 

In demoing and prepping, we had to confront some bad drawer liner decisions (and I'm not referring to the 1970's daisy print you see going on there above). Guys - the sticky rubber shelf liners - don't do it. It's such a mess to get off and completely ineffective in areas like a pantry where liquids can seep through.

Because of built in niches within the cabinet fronts, we had to keep our existing copper hinges. So we sprayed them black for the lowers and white for the uppers so they would better blend into the face of the cabinet. 

One of the happiest moments of Week 4 for me came with the installation of white oak pantry shelves made by my husband and I. These are solid, pretty and super functional. I can't wait to show you how these turned out. Game-changer for us when we finally move back into the kitchen and hunt for that box of pasta or can of soup.

I'll have just one more week to show you my progress before the nail-bitting final reveal in two weeks. Until then, please check out all the amazing transformations taking place by other One Room Challenge Guest Participants over at Calling it Home.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


It's Week 3 of the One Room Challenge and I am finally sharing a look at my design plan with you all for our soon to be modern ranch-style kitchen. 

You guys, this one has been a long time in the making.  I've been dreaming up this kitchen for many years, collecting inspiration from far away places we've visited, restaurants we've enjoyed meals in and designer kitchens I've admired. My mainstay neutrals of black, white and woodsy accents will come into play for the foundation, but I think my design will really take shape in the composition of lines, textures and mixed materials that will be put to use in the room.

For visual inspiration here, I am sharing four designer kitchen concepts above - a modern-rustic amalgamation of dark and light, each - a cook's kitchen to be sure. That vibe is ultimately what I want to achieve with my final reveal in 3 weeks.

I should stop and mention that I sort of dislike pigeonholing anything with labels. In the end, I'm hoping my design will stand on it's own and be a collective mix of several styles I admire and ultimately something appropriate to our home. 

But I'm hoping that by calling my design scheme "Modern Ranch Kitchen", that the moniker will resonate with someone out there searching through the 200+ guest participants in the One Room Challenge and pinpoint something they are looking to achieve in their own home - and that there is an aspect or two here that might work as inspiration for them too. I feel like that's how it's done best - we all get a little something from each other creatively to turn around and make it our own.

So with that out of the way - let's talk paint.

Budget always comes into play when renovating a room - or as we are doing at the moment - several in our home. So it was no surprise that we resisted temptation to move walls and install brand new cabinets and instead, opted to doll up the ones we already have. I don't look at this as a compromise though. I know the power of paint and I have one of the best painters in my back pocket. Yes, my Pops has returned for another round of the One Room Challenge and will be painting our cabinetry out in a two-toned scheme - light uppers, dark lowers.

I've tested paint samples for months by the way - knowing our kitchen looks different in the Spring than it does in the Fall. The five that got slapped on our pantry cabinet a couple of weeks ago made the final cut and ultimately - we had a winner and I have to say, it was completely unexpected.

They call it "Astronomical" and it really is to me. This dark grey cures with some khaki green and I've even seen some blue in there at the right time of day.  It will play nicely with our "house white"- White Dove featured just above.

We went with a slab of Silestone to withstand the wine and coffee beatings our peninsula will surely take on a daily basis. But you'll also find some beautiful wide plank Acacia wood countertops pulled in on the other side of the kitchen. These wood slabs are truly butter you guys and defy any of my old reservations about wood countertops. 

I'm also really excited by the irregular shape of our backsplash tile, though I'm sure it will present a couple of headaches in the installation process.

 Things will warm up in the adjacent dining area, where a textural mix of striped textiles, mixed metallics and woods will collide. There will be acacia and white oak, stripes on stripes and dark, matte hardware on detached cabinetry - much different from the chrome baubles on the kitchen doors.
I'm making over many of the pieces that already exist in this space to save on budget and well, honestly I couldn't find alternatives I really wanted to invest additional budget in. New paint and fabric finishes will make old new again.

Next week's post will be jam packed with progress pics. While I've been dilly dallying with "concept" posts here, we've actually been hard at work with tear down and the great "build back up" on this space. We hired a contractor to help us out this time and we've had a steady crew of construction guys and electricians to schedule around each other. I thought well ahead on this one and ordered up materials and yes, appliances (!) so we're tracking right on schedule for this 6 week project. 

Did I mention we also decided to tear out and replace the floors throughout the whole house as well?
It just happened, it really, really did.

See you back here next Thursday! In the meantime, please be sure to check out (and lend some support to) the other participants in the One Room Challenge over at Calling it Home.

Inspo image sources: [1] Devol Kitchens [2] Amber Interiors [3] BHG  [4] Blair Harris
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