Category Archives for Decor

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

WARNING: Today’s post is super long. Pull up a chair and a large cup of coffee because you may be here awhile.

Today, I’m drawing inspiration from one of my favorite blogs Nesting Place who’s joining forces with 24 other bloggers to show off their real homes. Real, imperfect, not styled for Better Homes & Gardens homes.

In last week’s post, Nester Girl shares, “We’ve knocked down walls, we’ve put things off, we’ve lived with the undone and the imperfect. We’ve got little pockets of pretty next to little pockets of ‘we’ll do that one day when we get more money and time’. There’s some pretty, there’s some potential, there’s some ugly, and it’s only fair that I show you all of it.”

Her leap of faith to show the un-blog-worthy parts of her house has really opened my eyes.

Of course I’m proud of our house and could not be more pleased to show off our beautiful rooms that we’ve spent the last fourteen months renovating. But there are plenty of not-so-great areas. Even downright scary looking sections. Because the Nester Girl is absolutely right- there isn’t enough time or money to do it all at once. We’re not Kim & Kanye for christ’s sake! We’re Jared & Julie- excited to DIY, saving for a baby, working full time jobs, exhausted and (one of us) pregnant.

So allow me to take this post to showcase the reality of our renovation. You’ve seen what we’ve done (pssst, visit the House Tour page for ever changing present pics) and now it’s time to see what we’ve yet to do.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re dying to work on this stuff but the “when are you going to do something with that?!” comments are really not helping us any. Seriously people. Back off. We’ll get to it. And in the meantime, if you’d like to donate any funds and manual labor, we’d welcome it with open arms! Kidding, sort of.

We’re certainly not short on ideas. Here’s the current to-do list…

1. Baby’s Room: Priority numero uno. Last year we removed that pesky drop ceiling, ripped up the shag carpet, added the can lights and new ceiling fan, but that’s basically where we left it. The door stays closed darkening our second floor hallway and we’ve just been using the room for storage. But since I’m in a constant state of nesting even when not pregnant, you can imagine how badly I want to see this room primed and painted and ready for all that cutesy-ootsey goodness!


2. Basement: A dumping zone for all our paints and supplies, the only thing we really have to show for progress on this basement is this new zoned heating system and new stairs.



With no chance of turning this into a finished basement (not enough ceiling height) we do have plans to make this a clean and bright storage space. We’re even prepared with loads of shelving in those neon green boxes.


And speaking of storage, since we cleaned out the baby’s room in preparation for painting and have yet to clean and paint the basement, where do you think all our storage boxes went?


Yup, the third floor guest room. So in case you were expecting to stay at the hotel Swanson in the next few months, better look into more spacious accommodations!

3. Third Floor Stairs & Landing: Ugh! There are few spots in our house that make me more unhappy than this third floor landing. I guess it’s a testimony to how much we’ve accomplished since at one point this house was covered in this blue carpeting and pastel wallpaper. But most of the time it just reminds me of Aquanet and shoulder pads… aka everything that was wrong with the 1980s!




4. The Backyard: So yes, progress has been made with the removal of the pool and deck and the painting of the back steps. BUT, there is still so much to do! Yardwork is daunting for me in a way that our indoor renovation never was. I think it’s the time consuming nature of it and the serious manual labor involved. Not to mention the cost! Our yard will be a step by step by step by step process that will take shape over the next 5-10 years- as most people’s yards/homes tend to be.


Though it’s a patchy mess to the right where the pool and deck were, I still could not be happier to have that hideous thing out of my yard. And the small piles of wood chips are a victory too. Buh bye stumps! That back red fence you see covered in vines will be another thing of the past this month.


But the rest will come in pieces over the next few years. Like this area that I hope to have gravel laid, three large raised vegetable beds, and a large grilling area. I’m currently collecting mismatched wooden dining chairs that will someday sit at a long harvest table in the middle of the yard. For those of you that are Parenthood fans, yes, Braverman-style.


And then we have super lofty goals for the left side of the yard. We’d love to extend our driveway straight back into the yard that arrives at a large shed/garage in the back corner. I did have to have garage door repair Rock Hill so that we could start this new project. Not necessarily for all the vehicles we intend to own but more as an area that our kids could ride bikes and skateboards and play hopscotch and Jared could store all his workout, and biking, and kiteboarding gear in. The man has a lot of gear. I will gladly park in the driveway and forever scrape off snow and ice from my car for the hubs to have a garage-man cave. After all, he did tear down a big ugly pool for me.


5. The Little Things: These are things that obviously didn’t matter as much to us if we haven’t gotten to them by now but eventually, we really will get to them. Promise!

Like a new screen door. We never did find the screen to this storm door and our house gets intense morning sun! Mix that with a black front door and black storm door with no ventilation and holy hell will that heat hit you when you open the door in the morning! We have our sights on a beautiful new storm door, just need to get around to actually buying and installing it.


Mudroom closets. Again, we know the IKEA closets we will eventually purchase for this nook. We’ll be able to store all our winter coats, hats, gloves plus a small cleaning closet for this neat-freak so I can stop dragging down the vacuum from the third floor! But for now, it’s a good nook for the stroller! Yes, at just two months pregnant, we researched and bought a stroller. Remember my husband loves gear? Even baby gear! We plan on getting one of the best vacuum cleaners for pet hair before baby arrives to keep our carpet cleaner. Shelves in the bathroom. Another little nook! It was always intended for shelves, we just haven’t gotten around to it. Eventually it will be nice to have a space for washcloths, extra toiletries, and those bath toys that are bound to accumulate no matter how much of a minimalist we think we are.



Finally, this dilapidated wall in Jared’s office. My husband really is a saint. He’s never once complained about this nasty wall and his desk happens to face it. You know there’d be some serious bitching from me if I had to stare at these gaping cracks and wonky door to the old chimney stack that doesn’t closed every day! But bless his heart, not a word. It’s on the to-do list nevertheless.


Stepping it Up

Our front steps have been an embarrassment for quite some time. Not much to look at originally, they really went from bad to worse with all the lumber, garbage, appliances and furniture going in and out that door for a year.

Here’s our front steps way back in April 2013…


And then only a month later. Our demolition boots were not kind to these steps…


By the end of May 2013, I had to do something to prove to the neighbors that we really were going to take care of and love this house! So up went the grass and in went the garden…


After a long, hard winter I am pleased to report that almost all of our perennials survived and are starting to thrive!


Only catch is, the better the garden looked, the worse those stairs looked!

We’ve come to the conclusion that wood outdoor stairs in New England is just a bad idea. Between the snow and salt and then a blast of heat in the summer, paint peels and wood splinters. So down the road, we’d really like to do something spectacular with our home’s first impression and replace the entire portico with a larger façade and stone steps.

But needless to say (as I rub my growing belly) it is looooow on the priority list.

So a temporary painted face lift will have to do the trick! Jared researched and purchased a fantastic full coverage deck paint from Behr Premium called Deck Over in pewter. This goes on thick like quick sand and fills in a lot of cracks even on concrete. We tried to purchase the exact same consistency in white but despite the white sample on the display in Home Depot, the helpful paint staff assured us it didn’t come in white and provided us with a Behr Premium white stain. This was definitely not as all-covering as the Deck Over brand but after two coats, we were satisfied enough with the results.

And speaking of results…

It’s not perfect and there are definitely a couple spots to touch up but overall, I think it makes a huge difference to the curb appeal on our home.


I really have to give Jared all the credit on this one. These paints had a strong smell to them and he would not have his pregnant wife helping even if it was outside. So a full weekend was devoted to the front and back steps! Bravo husband!


Hey Look! A Sun Porch!

Sometimes an alternative can be so fantastic, you start to forget what option one was. Over the last two weeks we’ve revealed our dingy little sun porch, the face lift we gave it with some paint and accessories, and now the make over is complete!


I absolutely love the seating option we chose. This love seat and club chair are from Target’s Threshold Collection. I was really drawn to the boxy arms and the grey-brown color of the waterproof wicker. The cushions are a nice taupe color with decent padding.



These pale blue pillows from Homegoods are for outdoor use so should stand up against the beating sun.


The porch is so inviting to walk into at the end of a long day. Like our own little summer cottage retreat. With our first couple of 75 degree days in a row here, we’ve put the screens down to let the ocean breezes in. It’s just the perfect spot for day dreaming and lemonade sipping and I intend to waste many a summer evening here!

Sun Porch Seating Options

Last week I shared our big sun porch reveal and revealed that we still hadn’t purchased any seating options. It’s a nice sun porch but you can’t do much but stand out there.


We intended to purchase this sectional from IKEA but their lack of inventory became so frustrating, we decided to shop elsewhere.

IKEAThere are plenty of outdoor seating options out there! It seems like just about everyone is pushing a wicker collection these days. But taking in to consideration size, price, and aesthetic (I have my heart set on a boxy kind of seat, one that you could rest a drink on the arm) really narrowed down the options.

So what do you think we’ll choose?




Sun Porch Makeover Reveal

Alright, I’ve left you in suspense long enough. The reasoning behind the delay is due to IKEA’s shotty inventory predictability for the wicker sectional we wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some IKEA but when you have to leave work, drive 30 minutes to the store, borrowing your father’s truck- you really should be able to purchase online and have a guaranteed pick up in store. But that’s not how my big blue friend rolls. They have this “inventory predictor” that has no rhyme or reason to it from the consumer’s point of view. One day there’s nine in stock, the next day two, the next day none until three come in on Thursday, oy vey!

Well sectional or not (and in this case not), I’m fairly certain this is the best this little crooked sun porch has ever looked…


It’s amazing what a coat of paint will do!


Or a couple coats, really. Definitely took some priming but after that, basic white did the trick. We peeled up all the faux wood parquet tiles and painted the floor the same Benjamin Moore Rockport Grey as our master bedroom floor.


The curtains were a small stroke of genius if I do say so myself. Knowing that a rod was next to impossible since the curtains butted up to the ceiling and anything structural would look ridiculous in a sloping sun porch, we decided to clip shower curtain rings onto metal rope tightened with a turn buckle. The shower curtains soften the corners of the room, add a little privacy, and are already moisture resistant in case we leave the screens open in a rain storm.


But it’s the accessories that make this porch so inviting. I’ll even tell you where we got everything!


Galvanized Outdoor Light from Lowes. Farmer’s Market Sign and Barn Star from Homegoods.


Wooden Table came from a friend and Hood Bin was antique find from my Mum. Watering Can from Target. Boxwood Spheres from Homegoods. The big sphere has tiny twinkle lights in it!



Vintage Mounted Bottle Opener from Target.


Glass Globe String Lights from Target.


I absolutely loved opening both French doors on Easter and letting the party spill out onto the porch. It would have been even nicer with seating but what can you do! We’ll keep searching for alternatives and keep IKEA in our big blue back pocket.

before and after

Sun Porch Makeover

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this sun porch. It’s a small room that juts off the back of the house. You walk out our mudroom door and there’s a back door to the left leading to the yard enclosed by Skilled Fencing and a small space to the right with walls of windows. It’s unheated and poorly constructed. So much so that it’s visibly leaning to one side. The supports under the right side are indeed sinking into the earth. Not detrimentally so but to someone who firmly believes in the Monica Method of “if it’s not a right angle, it’s a wrong angle” this is highly irritating.

The porch was this sort of Pool Liner Blue (yes Benjamin Moore, you can use that color I just coined) when we bought the house.


It was pretty early on in the renovation when we determined that the narrow dark door that led to this porch needed to go. We replaced it with a set of gorgeous french doors taking the view from the kitchen to the porch from this…


to this…


… minus the jumbo roll of insulation or whatever that is out there. The porch did become sort of a catch all for old appliances, tools, etc. during the renovation. I found myself constantly hiding things on that porch in order to tidy up the construction zone. I have to say, the dishwasher and stove that lived out there for nine months probably didn’t help that slant any.

In time, we will eventually need to rip this puppy down and build it right and strong and lovely. But for now, we’ve done the best we could with a temporary makeover that is sure to last us a couple of seasons.

And as for the reveal… you’ll have to tune in next week!

Hang in There

In honor of the first day of spring, we’re hanging our coats up. Well, not for good. It’s still quite chilly. But we did get a brand new coat rack for our mudroom!

This row of anchor hooks from Pottery Barn is super sturdy and goes nicely with all the greys in our mudroom.



We’re able to fit five coats comfortably, which in my opinion should be sufficient enough for everyday use. Our coats when guests come over along with off season coats will be kept in the closet we intend to install directly across from this rack in our mudroom.

It’s the perfect addition to our mudroom and looks great over our still sort-of-new bench!



Master Bedroom Touchups

I love our master bedroom. It’s so bright and clean. I know a lot of people like dark bedrooms but I would never want to live in a cave. Give me fresh! Give me breezy! Give me heavy white linens to rest my head on every night and glorious sunshine to wake me up each morning. I want to feel refreshed in a bedroom. Restored, renewed, revived!


And this bedroom is just that. So when I think back to where it started, it really doesn’t seem like the same place. See this? Shag carpeting, yellowed wallpaper, and a drop ceiling. Oy vey.


Since the first floor received the bulk of our attention (and budget) I made it my mission to make the best of this bedroom. We weren’t going to remove the horsehair plaster or the dented old trim or even redo the flooring. This was a total patch job. But if I do say so myself, a really eff-ing great one!

My Dad skillfully repaired dents in the walls after Jared and I tore down all the wallpaper. And my Mum and I tackled that drop ceiling. Hard to even look at this again…


But after all the patching and cleaning, paint was the saving grace in this room. If you recall, I painted the trim and walls a lot but once they were as perfect as they were going to get, we turned our attention to the floors. There was no saving these hardwoods in terms of sanding and staining and I know they are so imperfect but I just adore these wide boards with their occasional creek.


So a putty grey paint transformed them into beach house chic floors.


The only problem with painted floors is that they get chipped. Especially when moving furniture. To avoid such problems consult real experts, like Ottawa Painter. So the floors have kinda looked like this since we moved in last September.



Fortunately, it’s an easy fix. A spot here, a spot there, and voilà!


They will never be perfect but I love them with all their cracks and flaws just the same.

Steamy Sunday

Steamy because I was positioned about two inches from every radiator in the house painting the poles that run into our basement. It’s one of those little projects that tends to get forgotten after a big renovation.

Our radiators were very dark and dingy but painted a shiny metallic before we moved in. But once they were put into place it was pretty obvious that those pipes that lead down to the heating system in the basement needed some attention. See this one in our living room still caked with some foam insulation? Ick.


So we broke out this Rust-Oleum Aluminum paint again, laid down some newspaper, and got real cozy with the radiators.


It didn’t take long and seems like such a small task but it really made a big difference. Check out these before and afters.

In the living room…

Living Room

In the front entry way…

Entry Way

Tucked behind the treadmill in the mudroom…


And up in our bedroom…


The bedroom one really drove me crazy because the room is so light and airy and that nasty pole was the last piece of transforming that room. That and touching up the floors but more on that tomorrow!


Medal Count

The Olympics are always so exciting- and even more so when you have an office full of skating fans (figure and hockey) and a husband constantly checking the medal count! In honor of those medals, this post is devoted to the athletes’ bling!

Gold, silver, or bronze- it’s got to be amazing having one of those around your neck. But in case you’re like me and more focused on your home decor than your triple salchows, let’s cheer for some of these metallic winners!

GOLD1. Gold Gilt Sunburst Art Mirror | 2. Threshold Iron Wire Table | 3. Gold Flatware | 4. Hammered Brass Bowl | 5. Stockholm Work Pendant Lamp | 6. Gilded Mod Dog Print | 7. Brass Lion Door Knocker


1. Resin Deer Head Wall Art | 2. Silver Garden Stool | 3. Silver Lobby Desk Phone | 4. Nautical Steel & Glass Patio Pillar Candle Holder Lanterns | 5. Nautical Wall Light | 6. Jewelry Tree


1. Seaside Outdoor Pendant | 2. Redsmith Dining Chair | 3. Rubbed Bronze Bathroom Sink Faucet | 4. Envelope Mailbox | 5. KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 6. Kartell Plastic Lamp