Category Archives: House & Home

a call for curb appeal.

Hey, guys! Long time no post, eh? With the warm weather we’ve been having here in Minnesota, I have been outside every chance I get. It’s finally raining today so I decided I’d finally sit down and reunite myself with the blog. On the subject of being outside, today’s post is all about curb appeal!

I’ve put a lot of effort into updating the interior of our house the past [almost] two years and now I’m looking to do the same outside. Last year you saw how I updated the facade of our house by painting the door red and the shutters black in place of the pine green color they were previously sporting… But that was about all I did in terms of boosting our curb appeal.

This summer I’m determined to step it up! So far I’ve replaced our house numbers for more modern ones, mulched the front garden (I went bold by using red mulch instead of traditional Cypress, see below), and added a few new plants. (As for the backyard, you can check out the mini flower garden I made and the vegetable garden we built HERE).

curb appeal

But there is still a lot I want to do yet this summer in the front…

curb appeal wish list1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 }

1 – First up is window boxes. If I only accomplish one more “curb appeal” item this summer, I want it to be window boxes. I love how such a simple feature can add so much charm to a house, like this, for example. Now it’s just a matter of deciding to DIY or buy… Keeping more $$$ in my wallet sounds appealing, but I’m drawn to the idea of saving my sanity time by skipping the DIY and going with a store-bought version that will more than likely last longer than my handmade one… What do you think?

2 & 3 – While #2 isn’t huge on the priority list, I’d really like to replace our front light with a more modern version that better fits our style. (For reference, this one is comparable to what we have now). We might not get around to tackling that this year, but we’re definitely planning to add pathway lighting which is an easy and relatively cost-effective way to spruce up the front of a house.

4 – Rain chains! Not only do they serve a practical purpose (help divert rainwater runoff and reduce soil erosion outside the home), they also look cool! Getting one of these isn’t a must-have by any means but if I come across one for a good price it will definitely be coming home with me!

5 – Last but not least, a new door mat. We bought a standard “Welcome” one when we first moved in which is now at the end of its life. This time around I’d like to go with one that is more fun & colorful like shown in the pic above.

So there you have it — my plans for boosting our curb appeal this summer. What things have you done (or plan to do) to make the outside of your house more appealing?


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bathroom makeover + DIY concrete counters

Happy Monday!

I’m finally getting around to showing you the before + after pics of my main floor bathroom makeover which included DIY concrete countertops! I also revamped the vanity by giving it a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. (Note: prior to this project, I painted the walls and changed out the mirror but don’t have any before/after pics of that).

Let’s get to the details, shall we?!

bathroom before and after


As you can see in this before pic, the countertop was a 60s-era laminate that was not only unattractive, but was starting to chip away in some spots (mainly behind the sink). Rather than spend a few hundred bucks to replace the countertop (we already recently did that in our upstairs bathroom, seen here), I had a much cheaper alternative in mind. I’d been seeing a few tutorials for concrete countertops floating around on Pinterest, namely this one and this one, which turned out to be the perfect solution since I could just apply the cement right over the current countertop.

concrete countertopsA bag of cement, a container of sealer, plus a few weeks worth of time and here we are!

(If you want a detailed step-by-step tutorial, reference the two links above). One thing I will point out, however, is that once you’re done with applying and sanding the cement, the instructions on the sealer say to not use the sealer on cement that is less than 7 days old in order for the cement to fully cure. This is something that wasn’t mentioned in any of the tutorials I looked at but I think it’s important to note for the sake of knowing exactly how long this project will take you from start to finish. For me it was two weeks — applying and sanding three coats of cement to the counters over the course of one week and waiting an additional week to seal.

concrete countertops

You guys know from reading my kitchen cabinet makeover post that I am not a huge fan of distressed cabinets because it can be hard to differentiate paint from dirt/grime. The same distressed finish that was in our kitchen was also on these cabinets (wah, wah, wah). I gave them a good sanding followed by one coat of bonding primer and one coat of paint in ‘coffee white’ by Valspar. The window trim was also sporting the distressed finish (not really visible in the photos), so that got a few coats of new paint, too. The room feels so much brighter and cleaner now!

bathroom vanity makeoverI also replaced the hardware on the vanity using some knobs & pulls that a friend of mine salvaged from when she remodeled her 1920s kitchen. It was a bonus that they happened to match the mirror frame perfectly! And while we’re not sure, we think they could be original to her house, making them antiques — bonus!

before and after

Shortly after I started this project I was super excited to see that DIY-pros John and Sherry from the infamous Young House Love blog were also working on adding concrete counters to their house. You can see their in-depth tutorial here!

diy concrete counters

diy concrete countertops

The counters clearly show the trowel marks and various spots created by air bubbles and sanding. While this look may not be for a lot of people, I love the uniqueness of it — no two concrete counters are ever alike!

diy concrete countertops

window wall art

To go along with the new “industrial” feel that the concrete countertops gave this space, I hung up one of my antique windows that had previously been in the office.

bathroom makeover

Overall, I’m really happy with how the counters turned out. Now it will just be a matter of seeing how well they wear over time.

As for the room as a whole, I’d still like to get a new sink + faucet, and possibly opt for a different light fixture (similar to the one in the basement guest bedroom), but for now I’m calling this space good!

Want more before + afters? See our basement bathroom makeover here and our upstairs one here.

What do you think — could you see concrete counters being a fit for somewhere in your house?

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DIY “dream” wall art.

Aside from the “bigger” projects I’ve been working on as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve also intermittently been working on a few smaller-scale projects like what I’m showing you today.  Say hello to my latest piece of DIY wall art!

diy wall artThis project ended up being completely free because I already had the supplies laying around. Don’t you love it when that happens?

diy wall artI’d been on the lookout for some wall art for this space for a while but hadn’t come across anything I really liked or was willing to spend the money on. While rummaging through our workroom a few weeks back, I was reminded of some scrap wood that I had left over from a previous project (this one, to be exact).

First I secured the wood together with a flat brace. I purposely secured them unevenly for a more “worn” look and painted over them with several coats of different colored paint to distress it. (Check out my distress how-to here). From there, I printed out the letters from a Word doc, cut them, and traced them onto the wood. Once I filled in the trace marks with black paint, a little more distressing took place and that was it! Easy peasy huh?

diy wall art

I am thinking of making a smaller one similar for the office that either says “inspire” or “create.”

This is a project anyone can do at home. Even if you don’t already own the supplies, wood is pretty easy to come by for cheap and all you need are some stencils and paint.

Click the links to check out my other DIY signs — Fresh Eggs, Garden Tour, Market.



P.S. The main floor bathroom project is complete… I just didn’t get around to taking pictures over the weekend. Stay tuned for an update within the week and head to my Instagram for a sneak peek!


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a few “befores”

Happy Friday, all!

I mentioned in a recent post that I’d have some new house projects to showcase fairly soon. Well that changed when I got a little overly ambitious and jumped into a handful of them at once. Because of all the bouncing back and forth between them all, there isn’t one that is fully complete quite yet.

As much as it pains me to not be able to pair a “before” picture with a pretty “after” one, I figure I’d show you some of the “before” ones regardless so you can get an idea of what I’m working on and get ready for some big transformations.

First up is the utility room in our basement…

utility room, before

utility room, before

Thankfully this project is nearing the final stages and I’m happy to report that all of the clutter you see is gone, the floors have a fresh coat of concrete paint, the work bench has been replaced with floor-to-ceiling shelves from IKEA, and the space feels like an extension of our other rooms, as opposed to a dingy furnace room where the dog sleeps.

The second big project I’ve been working on is updating our main floor bathroom (see the upstairs bathroom makeover here, and the basement one here).


That old school laminate countertop is getting a major facelift thanks to this concrete tutorial I found over on the Little Green Notebook blog. This weekend I’ll be sanding down the third layer of concrete and [hopefully] calling it good with a few coats of sealer. Once that’s complete, the next step will be to re-paint the vanity (the cabinets are currently sporting that same distressed finish our kitchen once had), replace the hardware, and eventually get a new sink/faucet (I am loving this one).

Aside from those two undertakings, I’m also in the midst of spring cleaning the house, preparing for a garage sale in May, and working on a piece of wood wall art (inspired by this one).

Sorry this post didn’t contain pics of a start-to-finish project, but hopefully you’ll be seeing some sooner than later!


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bathroom facelift, round 2.

Last year you guys saw our upstairs bathroom facelift here where we made a handful of basic updates, i.e. paint, new storage cabinet, accessories and framing out the mirror. Well a few months back we finished what I’m calling “round 2” of the bathroom facelift which involved installing a new counter top, sink, & faucet, and I also added a new toilet paper holder, a new towel ring and I gave the vanity a fresh coat of white paint. Oh, and I ended up moving the bird shower curtain from the basement guest bathroom to this one.

sink before

sink after

bathroom makeover

bathroom vanityThe vanity got a fresh coat of paint and a new toilet paper holder. I kept the original glass knobs for their charm.



bathroom before and afterView from the hallway. Previous homeowner pic compared to the bathroom today.

before and afterIn the after: mirror is framed out, new counter top + sink + faucet, & replaced the towel bar with a towel ring.

I would love to replace the light fixture and I’m considering painting the back-splash tile white, so don’t be surprised if you see “round 3” of updates for this room… but that’s all for now!


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chandeliers and shenanigans.

Oh what do you know, it’s been a month since I’ve put out a new blog post (reference spiel about my sporadic blogging habits here). And to be honest, I don’t even have a real post put together (as I write this) but figured it was time to get something on here so you know I’m still alive and kickin’. For whatever reason, Sunday mornings always seem like a good time to get words on paper the web.

So a few home updates…

I have decided (for the time being) to not paint the basement fireplace. (A big thanks for all those that weighed in on the subject!) But since I’m not painting the fireplace, I’m looking for other ways to give the space new life, which I hope to update you all with soon.

I finally got around to taking the “after” pics for round 2 of our upstairs bathroom makeover (i.e. new counter top, sink, faucet, and a few other miscellaneous changes) which I mentioned here. I’m making it a priority to get that one on the blog this week, while it’s still relevant.

In other home decor news, here are a few snap shots…

dining roomMy latest [exciting] consignment find is this chandelier I picked up for $38 (probably best intended for an outdoor patio or pergola) that I hung in our dining room. We don’t have ceiling lighting in this room so I like that this gives the illusion that we do, plus what dining table is complete without a chandelier above it?!

chandelier(picture I took on my phone with the candles lit)

mantelWith spring right around the corner, I’m starting to add more greenery around the house. These IKEA plants are always a quick and cheap solution for rooms that don’t receive much light (or if you can’t keep plants alive!).

shelf stylingI’ve also been making an effort to change up the decor and “re-style” our built-ins.

bookcase stylingI’ve started collecting old books that have intriguing spines. These are super cheap at garage sales/thrift stores and add a lot of visual interest to shelves. (Everything on this shelf is either from a garage sale, thrift store, or was a hand-me-down).

tableI moved this hand-me-down table from our bedroom to the living room (where a taller table once was, seen here) which I think looks much better in this space. The galvanized planter was a .50 garage sale find from last summer and the faux sheep skin rug was $9.99 from IKEA.

gold elephantI found this plastic elephant at a garage sale last year for .25 cents and spray painted him gold. He’s now a fun piece of decor in our home office.

So there’s a few snap shots of random updates from around the house to fill the void of my blog posting. Look for more home posts soon!


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the great fireplace debate.

To paint or not to paint? That is the question at hand regarding the brown brick fireplace in our basement.

Let me be brief here. I think the fireplace should be painted white (like here or here). The husband, on the other hand, thinks it should stay as is but knows full well that when it comes to interior design projects, his opinion is taken lightly. So in an effort to not jump the gun and whip out my paint brush before I thoroughly think things through here (after all you can’t exactly un-do a project of this nature), I figured I’d ask for YOUR input to get an outsider’s opinion.

brown brick fireplace

brown brick fireplace

So based on the pictures above, what do you think — paint it white or leave it as is?


P.S. Just for the record, I have no intent to ever paint our main floor living room fireplace as I love the charm red brick gives!


Filed under House & Home

home trend: windsor chairs.

Windsor chairs emerged in popularity during the 17th century. If you open the latest issue of any interior design magazine or take a trip to IKEA, you’ll likely see that this iconic chair is making a comeback. Rather than pay hundreds for replicas at high-end stores like Crate & Barrel or Restoration Hardware, there’s a good chance you’d be able to find your fair share of various Windsor-style chairs at your local thrift and consignment shops, keeping in mind that a little paint can go a long way in transforming a piece of furniture!

windsor chairs

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 }

windsor chairsimage via

What do you think — are Windsor chairs a trend you’d try or so not your style?

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crave vs save.

I’m back with another round of “crave vs save”! These product price comparisons just go to show you don’t have to shell out big bucks to get what you’re after when it comes to decorating + furnishing your home. If you look hard enough, there will almost always be a cheaper version whether it be at Target, a thrift store or even something you could DIY. Patience and diligence is often all it takes!

crave vs save

soap pumpAnthropologie, $32                                    Target, $9.99

tree stump table     Crate & Barrel, $399                                   DIY, approx. $15

sheep skin rugs   Pottery Barn, $79                                                IKEA, $29.99

pillow price comparisonAnthropologie, $198                          Etsy, $30 (cover only)

woven storage basketsPottery Barn, $129           World Market, $59.99              Target, $24.99

Have you come across a great deal lately that you know would have costed you a lot more elsewhere?

(View my last “crave vs save” post here)

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Filed under House & Home, Money Saver

how i’ve repurposed old window panes.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know by now that I love mixing old with new when it comes to decorating my house. I think it gives a home more character… a sense of history, if you will. Antique window panes are a perfect “old” item that can be worked among newer/more modern decor.

I picked up my first window pane for $1 at a garage sale which I then turned into a chalkboard. Soon after, I started coming across several other great ideas for how to use windows on Pinterest and before I knew it, I had a handful of them!

Long story short, here are the various ways I’ve used old window panes around my house:

window pane turned chalkboard#1 – Like mentioned above, this was my first window pane I purchase and was only $1 at a garage sale! I simply painted the panes with chalkboard paint and hung it in the back entry way of our home along with a rail, wire basket and S-hooks from IKEA to a make it a mini command center.

how to use old window panes#2 – This window pane was given to me from my mom for Christmas (she got it from the farm of her cousin) and it’s currently just leaning against the wall in our home office. I’m not sure if this is where this one will stay but for now I think it serves as a piece of art in its raw state.

old window pane turned picture holder#3 – This is the largest of the windows I’ve collected and I think it’s the perfect size for our fireplace mantel. (I previously had this one there). This particular one was $12 at a local antique shop. I printed and placed a few black and white engagement + wedding photos into the panes to make it more of a stand-out art piece.

old window pane#4 – This window pane is simply being used as wall art in the basement bathroom off the guest bedroom. There used to be a different piece of wall art there but with the recent installation of the industrial sliding door, I thought the window seemed more fitting for the space. I picked this one up from an architectural salvage store in St. Paul.

DIY window pane idea #5 – This window (identical to the one pictured above) is being used as a picture/note holder. I knocked out the panes with a hammer and stapled chicken wire onto the back. It’s hanging next to the vanity that I turned into a desk. (See that transformation here).

So those are the five ways I’ve used window panes around my house!

What do you think of decorating with old windows? Is it something you’d try?

Here are a few other ideas I love:


Filed under DIY, House & Home