Thursday, October 12, 2017

Week 2 // Fall One Room Challenge: California Casual Living Room

Vanessa Alexander

Today we round the corner into Week 2 of the One Room Challenge, a biannual room makeover event hosted by Linda of Calling it Home.  Last week, I shared a look at the evolution of my living room - my focus for this challenge - and how it has slowly morphed through renovation and decor trends over the last 7 years.   This week, I am checking in with you to share more about my direction and the design influences for the California Casual design I will reveal on November 9. 

We've lived in our home while we've renovated and over time, focused sporadically on each room as budget has allowed. Two recent changes - a new floor and our recent kitchen remodel - have both helped solidify our design plan and created an easier, open feeling flow from room to room.  As I work to complete a more finished look with our adjacent living room and adjoined dining area, its important to me to not only create something complimentary to other rooms in the house, but continue with something that is aesthetically aligned with aspects that are important to my husband and I in our private living space.  In the end, what will our living room reflect about us and how will we live in it?

Design Influences

California Casual is a style that has recently come into better focus through the widely published work of local California designers. But I feel like its been evolving for quite some time. I can think back to places I frequented as a kid in the 80's and remember hints of what it has now become embedded into those early furnishings.  Nostalgia aside, what has drawn me most to this style are the airy rooms, earthy, muted tones, clean lines and soft textiles - all things that are comfortable and soothing for two people who spend most of their time saddled in front of a computer or navigating their way through LA traffic all day.

Amber Lewis

Laura Singleton

Surf Shack - Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Design Goals

Our design goals for this space are well defined and will continue to unify the rooms throughout the house. We will transition away from trendy accessories (many still packed away from when we put the floor in this past Spring) and work toward something modern, but a little more timeless.  

In next Thursday's update, I will share work in progress and a first look at some of the materials that will be brought into the room ahead of the final reveal. In the meantime, catch sneak peeks on Instagram (@HoltwoodHipster) and be sure to check out progress by the other guest participants on Calling it Home.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Week 1 // Fall 2017 One Room Challenge: A California Casual Living Room

Today marks the start of another round of the One Room Challenge, a biannual room makeover event hosted by Linda of Calling it Home. As I've done many times before, I am throwing my hat into the ring to makeover a space in my own home and will blog about my progress over the next 6 weeks. Each Thursday, I'll share an update here on the blog and I will link up with other guest participants sharing their own progress report. I'm certainly no newbie to this event and all the work that goes with it - last round I even redesigned our Modern Farmhouse Kitchen. For the Fall 2017 One Room Challenge, I'm completing the design of our Living Room/Adjacent Dining Area. To get a better idea of the design scheme throughout our home, you can see other rooms I've completed for the One Room Challenge linked up in the sidebar.

For now, let's take a closer look at the focus for this challenge.

In full transparency, you can see that our redesign has been underway for some time. We've been slowly renovating and remodeling our 1967 rancher here in Orange County, California for the last 7 years. I would have liked to have come right out the gate of our purchase with a full remodel done the right way. But as first time buyers looking at original 1960's everything, it took some time to find financial footing to back our plan. In the end, time was on our side because our plan has evolved quite a bit while living in our home these last years. After laying some of the groundwork, today we're finally feeling sure of our direction.
We gutted the room immediately upon purchase and started with a clean slate. Lighting, paneling and paint went a long way for a long time. We almost didn't want to clutter up the space with furnishings because after living for 9 years in a cramped beach area back house,  it felt so, so good to finally have these big empty rooms to call our own. We picked a glossy dark floor in haste and it would be nearly 7 years until we realized that it was the root of our mistake. In the process, we threw some good money after bad, redecorating and trying to brighten up a room darkened by the heavy contrast of the flooring we chose. It also took some time to find the tone of our home. Home trends and the romantic idea of owning a midcentury rancher with a pool sent us traveling down a decor path that leaned too desert glam for our everyday tastes. What resulted was a lack of cohesiveness in all the mass produced, hollywood regency-meets-boho accessories that had started to accumulate.

We recently brought in a more muted white oak floor that was a game changer for us. The path was clear and even more defined as we wrapped up the remodel on our kitchen for the Spring 2017 One Room Challenge. There is now a greater synergy from room to room as you walk our halls and ultimately there is a greater vision for what we want one of the most lived in spaces of our home to reflect about us.

In next Thursday's post, I'll share the game plan with you.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Best of Etsy // DIY Printable Art

DIY Art Prints

Artwork can make a significant dent into any design budget. Sometimes the design starts and builds around a favorite piece of art. But it's been all too common that I find myself nearing the end of a design project, wondering what to hang on a glaringly bare wall with little budget remaining to acquire an art piece - much less frame it. More often than not, the printable art options on Etsy have saved the day - and to my delight, allowed me secure art for my project affordably and quickly. 

Calling all Fall 2017 One Room Challenge Link-up Participants! Looking to build an expensive gallery art wall or find a focal piece for your design project? Here are my picks for some of the best DIY art prints on Etsy, organized by categories that are trending right now. The Etsy shops I'm featuring here also have dozens of other selections available as well.  Be sure to click on through and check them out.


Above the Sea: 

EmDesignsPaper // DeziDeziDesigns // HelloGorgeousWallArt // ILovePrintable // SALTYNALU
DIY Art Prints

Wild Wild West: 

DIY Art Prints

Above the Trees: 

DIY Art Prints

Cali Vibes: 

***Favorite places to have your DIY artwork printed to size:


Monday, September 18, 2017


Make Your Own Perfume Oil, Custom Scent, Signature Scent

Perhaps the only positive from my blog hiatus was that I have a backlog of some really good stuff to share with you - one of which is the build your own fragrance bar I pulled together for my sister in law's bridal shower. Tasked with styling up the party and incorporating an activity of the non-game variety, I created a fragrance bar that would address both. This decorative assembly of oils, pipettes and pretty packaging allowed guests to mingle and create something useful and personal to take home from the shower. In today's post, I'm showing you how you too can create a similar build-your-own fragrance oil bar set up for your shower guests. I did all the legwork for you and am sharing my well researched resources and experience to make your set up easy and more affordable.

Shower Idea, Perfume Bar

In approaching set up, you'll want to focus on both the aesthetics and self-serve quality, lest you'll need to station an attendant at the table to direct guests on how to assemble for the duration of the party. Know up front that it will be helpful to have someone who knows what they are doing on hand to get guests going. But I found that a quick guide to assembly, framed and placed front and center on the bar went a long way to encourage guests to create and experiment on their own. Also helpful- create and publish 3-5 pre-tested scent recipes for guests who want to participate, but are not feeling particularly experimental.

Creating your fragrance oil blends

Your fragrance oils will need to be made ahead of the party. These are the pretty bottles from which guests will layer together in a roller bottle to create their own personal scent. To create these, I added therapeutic / cosmetic grade essential oils to each bottle filled with a carrier oil - in this case sweet almond oil. Be cautious - you do not want oils that are solely used in candle making. These may contain other ingredients that you don't want to put on your body. There is a bit of science involved in this step and I am not an expert. However, I will refer you to a couple of expert resources here and here that will guide you through the steps. Safety first - I would always err on the side of caution for a skin safe ratio (in this case, essential oil to carrier oil) and keep your pre-blended solution at the lowest recommended percentage. Remember, guests will be layering multiple scents anyway so a blend that seems very light at first will build in intensity within the roller.

You'll note the bottles are relatively full above. Unless you plan to use these again at another party or have more than 50 guests, I would suggest you only fill these to half to save yourself the extra cost. We had 50 guests and bottles were hardly depleted. I recommend you use a 4oz bottle filled 3/4 full or an 8 oz bottle (like we did) filled to half with your carrier oil. It will still present nicely but you won't have as much waste.

Shower Idea, Perfume Oils

Selecting your oils

I am sharing the list of oil blends I created and featured at our fragrance bar and some notes on how to blend. These are presented in order - so the base note would go into the roller bottle first, then the heart and finally the top note. You don't have to use the scents I used - there are many others to select from. Essential oils have become increasingly popular for use in home diffusers so you may even already have some of these in your oil collection. Brand selection is somewhat controversial depending upon who you talk to and cost can really add up.

That said, I thought this collection was reasonably priced and offered a nice array of different scents to build on. 

Make Your Own Perfume Oil

Make Your Own Perfume Oil

Table Essentials

Blending oils can get messy so consider that as you plan your set up. You will want to be sure you your fragrance bar is not in a carpeted area so that any spills might be easily cleaned up. Linens will be soiled (as I learned) so hard surfaces like the tile samples I put to use above went a long way in both presentation and maintenance. Open the bottles up and present them with ready to use pipettes. These pipettes should remain in each bottle - guests should not use them in different bottles as scents will cross pollinate. Keep in mind that guests will also want to sample the scent before they commit to it, so sample cards available on the table (and a receptacle for used cards) will be helpful. 

Label your bottles using tags you create or those generated by a label maker as I did. Coffee beans are also useful to guests who want to clear their olfactory palette before inhaling another scent.
Make Your Own Perfume Oils
(Complete list of sources below!)

Packaging for Take Home

We actually hosted this shower close to Christmas time and I found many guests were creating a personalized scent for gift giving. Regardless, its a nice touch to send guests home with some swag in a pretty package.  Clear plastic cylinders (see below!) often used for candy packaging were a perfect solution. Pre-stuffed with a little wood excelsior, the rollers slid easily into the cylinder before being capped and sealed with some decorative washi tape.

Make Your Own Perfume Oil

The DIY fragrance bar was a hit at the shower. Just ahead of the upcoming wedding, there were so many guests meeting each other for the first time and this non-game activity encouraged mingling and interaction. It was fun, made a decorative statement and guests got something useful to take home.

Source List

Bottles - these are the ones used above, but these would also be extra pretty!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Arrangement of the Month: September 2017

White Floral Arrangement, Hydrangea and Roses

Full of fluffy white hydrangea and roses, this month's floral arrangement represents a clean slate as the season changes from summer to fall. Too busy with the getting back to business, business, I plucked these right from the grocery store and created a statement arrangement where we'd be greeted at each trip in and out the door. Despite a methodical selection of buds, it's the greenery that really steals the show here. Our garden is turning over as well, so pruned cuttings from our formerly out of control Lady Banks climbing rose were also added in for some extra dangling drama. 

Friday, September 8, 2017


Palm Tree on the beach, Single Palm Tree

I've always been fond of this little limbo-land time lapse between summer and fall. For so many years, it's signaled renewal much more positively to me than the post-holiday void of January, when the wallet is spare and the diet and gym membership beckon. Like clockwork every September, there's a bustle of activity around back to school and the forming of game plans that lead into the holidays. There's the changing of the wardrobe, the opening of the windows once again, a difference in the way the light washes across the room and a cozy, but spirited energy that I feel only fall can bring.

The inner nerd in me also craves a bit of back-to-productivity. The downtime that comes with summer fun is good for all of us, but I'm happiest when I'm on schedule. Truth be told, my fall calendar is already filled out with things I hope to accomplish before the year officially ends in January - personal goals, plans for my online shop, Bird + Belle and around the house.  I guess I'm not too far away from that kid who was once first out the door with my packed-to-the-gills book-bag on the first day of school after all.

Reflecting a bit, this summer was good to me. We finished our kitchen remodel just before the calendar turned over, spent a lot of time in the pool, threw a couple of good parties and closed it all out with a weeklong vacation by the beach with friends who feel like family.  Before our extended crew arrived, Ryan and I had a few days alone on a mostly empty beach with little Valentino and to me, it was some of the very best days of this year. After 18 years together, we have an easy vacation cadence that we're quick to settle into once we arrive and its a comforting thing to know that we can fall back into sync that easily, especially when the demands of the work week can often take us off track. So the time alone was a good chance to regroup and reconnect with my little family and I'm moving into this next season fueled by that.

Speaking of family... I feel like there is something I've wanted to say for some time, but I've hesitated over relevance to this blog and a reluctancy to disclose something so private. Still, it has impacted my time here, resulting in a year long blog hiatus and all too infrequent posts. So for that reason alone, it feels somewhat remiss to not mention it. For the past 3 years, we've been trying for baby - 3 years this fall in fact. In that one regard, the transition into this new season is a bit of a bittersweet milestone. For much of this time, I've retreated and internalized the frustration, loneliness and anguish that comes with all that, not wanting to make others uncomfortable by discussing it or appear as though I was appealing for sympathy.  My sole goal in raising it now is certainly not to do either of those things, but to sort of release a bit of that internalized struggle out into the wild, to vent the steam in the pot so to speak in a healthy way. I've opened up in other ways recently and I've actually found some catharsis in doing so. I've also realized that one couple's experience with infertility is not someone else's either, so while it's important to recognize that others are going through it too, it can be somewhat difficult to connect through details, something that is oddly isolating on both ends. The reality of that might keep me on the fence from talking about it more here (or maybe it wont - maybe its something that should be talked about to break down all those walls). But I'll just say simply that where I am now with this is that I want to be more open about it as my current reality behind the pretty Instagram pictures and recipe posts. There are scenic seafood boils on the beach, busy remodels and fully decked out parties being had. But there will always be the behind the scenes happenings too and I wouldn't want anybody to misinterpret all that for the real-life human stuff.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Cocktails with the Mister // Make this Rose Mojito

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe
****Among my husband's greatest talents is his ability to make a very drinkable cocktail. He never worked professionally as a bartender, but at any house gathering, you'd be sure to find him mixing away at the bar for a thirsty line up of our friends who put their faith in him to "surprise them" with something particularly delectable... and he always delivers. Never too tart, never too sweet, never too strong.  The glass in hand is without fail the one you didn't even know you wanted. 
So I too asked if he would surprise me with a monthly recipe and feature it here on the blog. So today, we're kicking off 'Monthly Cocktail with the Mister', where he will ideate and mix you up a drink just in time for the weekend happy hour. ***

It's not uncommon for my wife and I to be out in a local restaurant and for her to request I 'figure out how to make this' cocktail she's sipping eagerly through her straw. Such was the day she returned from shopping and dropped a similar request to deconstruct a drink she had at the new upstairs bar over at our local Nordstrom. The drink is known as "Vine Street' on their menu and has both the flavors of a glass or rose and a minty mojito. Ingredients (though not the measurements) are listed on the menu and they probably would have been kind enough to tell her how to make it if she had asked. Nevertheless one Sunday afternoon I set out to make her my interpretation of that cocktail, which emerged as a Rose Mojito.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

She didn't believe me, but it's important to measure for this one so that you get the right ratio of vodka to rose. I also added an additional ingredient not found on the menu, but one that became immediately important to help balance the heat of all that alcohol out in the drink - simple syrup.  I could only guess that the restaurant used a slightly sweeter rose or prosecco in their version. You have some flexibility when it comes to the grapes and mint - add a little more or less according to your own tastes. When shaken, the grapes and mint flake off into the mixture and end up in your glass - much like those little flakes of ice in a martini that always seem to make so good.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

Once shaken, the foamy elixir is strained and served over ice and then garnished with a skewered assembly of grapes and mint after finishing with floater splash of prosecco that gives it a nice soda like fizz in the finish.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

Recipe for Rose Mojito
Recipe by Ryan Neally for Holtwood Hipster

2.5 oz. Rose Wine
1 oz. Vodka
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup
12 grapes (10 for muddling, 2 for garnish)
6-8 leaves of mint
Squeeze of Lime
Splash of Prosecco

In a cocktail shaker, muddle grapes and mint, along with your simple syrup. Muddle well so you get all the juice out of those grapes and release the mint by breaking it up.

Add your vodka, rose and squeeze of lime to the shaker. Cover and shake well.

Prepare your glass of ice. I like to use crushed ice for this drink.

Strain the mixture over the ice, making sure to shake the flaky remnants of the mint and grapes through the strainer holes into your glass. Finish with a splash of prosecco and skewer of grapes and mint.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

There are quite a few bottles involved in this drink, but capped well - the rose and prosecco will save for a couple of days in the fridge. Cheers!


Friday, August 18, 2017


The inevitable summer wind down may already be in the works, but end of season outdoor sales have me dreaming of ways to extend the feeling of summer through a quick refresh of our outdoor decor. Our loungers that we purchased when we bought our house 6 years ago finally gave way and made it to the curb. So, I've been on the hunt for replacements and in the process, uncovered the best patio furniture and accessory deals. Today, I've rounded up a few of my favorites and I'm sharing them with you here. I admit that it's always a gamble to wait and see what inventory remains at mid-August. That rug or dining set you had your heart set on in April may no longer be available. My own indecision (or lack of allocated budget) earlier in the season meant I missed on a couple of things this year myself. But there are still some good design options to be had - and many are being offered at steep discounts as retailers make way for holiday inventory.

In this round up, you'll find many of these items reduced by 50-60% off. Retailers are also extending additional discounts through coupon codes so your savings may even be far greater than what you see on the product page. Personally, I'm thinking hard about that sectional and 2pc lounger featured here. Can you believe it? The geo rug you see below - it's just $22 on clearance right now. 

2017 summer end of season patio clearance products
Find them here:

2017 summer end of season patio clearance products
Find them here:

2017 summer end of season patio clearance products

Find them here:

2017 summer end of season patio clearance products

Find them here:
Find them here:
25. Play Teepee   26. Chiminea   27. 3pc Dining Set

See any favorites? Are you in the loop on other sales hitting the web this week? Do tell! 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles by Holtwood Hipster Blog

Around here, we're always on the lookout for ways to step up our foodie game and it doesn't always mean patronizing a new restaurant. Finding a way to craft our own version of a common store-bought item can be so satisfying - even if it means some extra time in the kitchen. Take these easy to make refrigerator pickles for example. In no time flat, we made use of that extra bounty from our garden and produce piling up in our refrigerator drawer and had a full on pickle parade to snack on for weeks to come. Trust me once you make your own pickles, you'll reconsider that jar of grey, lifeless cucumbers on your next trip to the grocery aisle.

Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles by Holtwood Hipster Blog

Truth be told, our upcoming camping trip gave us further motivation for prepping our jars of beans, cukes and carrots. Camping (or any gathering really) is serious food business amongst our group. As we typically do this time of year, we're making preparations for the camp Bloody Mary bar we host each morning during our stay. It's always a good way to circle up the troops before kicking off the day's festivities and we are always working on something new to bring to the table for those who swing by on site to take part. This year, we're stocking the bar with our very own handmade pickled garnish accoutrement (you know, if we can keep from eating them before we get there). I even designed some labels to further personalize our offerings.

Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles by Holtwood Hipster Blog

Of course, you don't have to make a caseload at one time like we did. It's easier - and quicker than you might think to prepare a jar or two of your favorite variety.

Quick Steps

It's a simple preparation equation: wash, cut, boil and fill.

Wash. You'll want to give a good wash to all your veggies and jars.

Cut. Prep all your vegetables by chopping well before you make your brine. You may find you need to double your recipe like we did given the volume you wish to bottle up. We used green beans, carrots, onions, turnips and cucumbers. My husband also made a batch of pickled eggs. But you'll also want to prep cuttings of fresh herbs like dill and thyme and even extra onion, peppers and garlic cloves. You'll be layering those extras into your jars around your veggies.

Boil. There are many brine recipes out there. In all, we whipped up 5 different brines for this round. But don't be intimidated. There are a lot of recipes available out there with enough flexibility to satisfy all tastes. If you like them on the sweeter side, add a little extra sugar and use cider vinegar vs. the common white variety. I also whole-heartedly recommend using other types of vinegar like champagne, white wine, red-wine and even rice-wine as alternatives to the more pungent common white.

Fill. When you fill your jars, you will want to layer in your herbs, garlic and onion amongst your cut veggies. Leave an inch at top (so if you need to cut your vegetables down, do so). You can always go back in and add after the brine has been poured in.

Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles by Holtwood Hipster Blog

My Tips

  • Use kosher salt - not table salt in your brine. 
  • Jars come in all shapes and sizes. Its fun to mix and match. I like to use these quart size and these smaller ones.
  • Change the hue of white veggies like turnips and onions by adding a couple of slices of beet.
  • Stray from the common pre-made pickling spices and use other things like mustard seeds, coriander seed, dill seed and caraway.

Recipe Links

Here are some links to recipes I personally like. I typically stick to the published ratios of water-vinegar-salt-sugar in these recipes, but I do take some liberties with the herbs and spices to suit our personal tastes. Not all use boil brines, but that's my preferred method.

Feasting at Home gives a great foundation for brines (with really pretty pics!)
Baked at Midnight features a non-boil, half-sour brine
Leite's Culinaria has a good recipe for a sweet pickle
Dinner Then Dessert has a recipe for the pickles I can't get enough of at my favorite Lebanese restaurant

There are a ton of recipes out there. Do you have any hot tips or personal favorites to share?

Care to see what we're cooking up this time? Our culinary camping adventures are well documented over on Instagram (@holtwoodhipster). Click the link to follow along!


Friday, August 11, 2017


Rose Wines to Drink Now, Best Rose Wines

I get it. By now, it's mid-August and your thoughts are already drifting to a pumpkin latte. But friends, the weather is still warm and you're well ahead of Labor Day weekend. From where I sit, there is still plenty of time to fill your glass with a refreshing rose. Not sure which one to pour? Fear not. I've spent the last couple of months sampling them all (trust me...) and I've narrowed it down to some rose picks that are easy to drink, easy to find and easy on the pocketbook.

Rose Wines to Drink Now, Best Rose Wines

AIX Rose 2016 ($17) // I might have been drawn in by the label, but was very happily surprised with the drinkability of the AIX Rose. I picked up mine at Whole Foods and paired it up with a platter of cheese and veggies (go here for some ideas!).

Saved 'Magic Maker' ($14) // The label design got high marks from Forbes back in 2014, but this limited CA production wine also deserves praise. It's been my pick during concerts this year at both the Bowl and the Greek and I've found it consistently stocked at our local grocery chain store.

Whispering Angel ($19) // I picked up a couple of bottles of Whispering Angel for a family pool day and quickly understood why I've seen this one on so many bar and restaurant menus this season.

Listel Grain de Gris ($10) // Our local walk-up fish counter serves this one and its another one that is just so light and drinkable! Not sure and want a second opinion? Wine-searcher lists this one as climbing in popularity over the last year. Its also affordable enough to serve to the masses while entertaining.

JCB #5 Rose ($19) // I've seen this one priced as high as $29 a bottle which might fall into the splurge category. Catch it on promo right now at or your local BevMo.

I've declared pretty much anything by winemaker Gerard Bertrand a good choice. There are some pretty tasty bottles of bubbly made by this wine house. But I say, start with the Cote de Roses ($13), as its easily found on your grocery store shelf (and at Costco!). Then branch out and sample the Chateau La Sauvageonne ($20) and Gris Blanc ($12) found at chain outlets like BevMo or Total Wine. All three bottles are solid tasty options to drink now through the official end of summer.

Am I missing any of your favorites? Drop me a note in the comments section! There's certainly plenty of time left in these last warm weeks for me to adopt a new favorite.


Monday, August 7, 2017


What we loved and didn't about our Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Remodel

Well hello there!

We are fast approaching the 90-day mark on the backside of our Modern Farmhouse Kitchen reveal for the One Room Challenge (can you even believe it?!). As far as room makeovers go, I know I often wonder how the people living in the space feel about the "after" once the buzz of renovation activity has waned. Would they do anything differently given a second chance?

In that spirit, I thought I'd be a good time to circle back and let you know how things are holding up with our own kitchen remodel, what we're loving and if there are any things we'd reconsider if I had to do it all over again.

A quick reset to catch those of you up with our primary goals for this project.

Improved functionality in our smallish kitchen workspace
Durability across our selection of upgraded surfaces
Lots of layers and textural details
Creative use of space to maximize our what we have
Project an overall brighter background in a shady area of the house
Design it to flow and function well for entertaining
Ensure the update is complimentary with other areas of house

You can see what we started with [here] and what became of the adjoined kitchen / dining areas after in the reveal post [here].

So, let's break it down. Are we loving the changes we made? In short yes. Are there things we'd do differently, well maybe.


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


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. 


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.
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