Project Before and Afters

Our Little Cottage in the City: The Final Home Tour

The day has come, my friends, to show you our final home tour on our little cottage in the city.  It is definitely bittersweet to share this post and video with you, since so much love and hard work has been poured into this home.  We were definitely never intending to sell it only a year and a half after we purchased it (if we had known, we never would have bought it in the first place), but opportunities much too grand to let pass by came up that we just had to jump on for the future of our growing family.

I explain in the video a lot of what we did as well as why we finished the basement right before selling, so watch that if you would like more detail.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the video with before photos, an emotional update, and a full home tour of the house at the time of selling.

Upstairs Floor Plan Before and After

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Entryway/Living Room

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Dining Room

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2014-11-26_0006Kitchen

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2014-11-26_0009Bedroom/Bathroom Hallway

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2014-11-26_0030Upstairs Full Bathroom

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Back Bedroom Upstairs

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Front “Master” Bedroom Upstairs

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Stairway Down to Basement Family Room

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Basement Floor Plan Before and After

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Basement Family Room

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Basement Full Bathroom

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Utilities/Storage Room

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Back Basement Bedroom

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Front Basement Bedroom

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I hope you enjoyed the final home tour!  We are very sad to leave this home, especially now that it is almost exactly how I envisioned it would be for us over time as our family grew, but it is just a house and now someone else can enjoy it.  We would greatly appreciate prayers for a quick sale close to asking price so we can move on to a new home hopefully before little Celia arrives.

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Gallery Wall and Curtains

Remember my big plan for our dining room after the board and batten was installed?  I planned on adding a gallery wall above the board and batten as well as finally adding some curtains and changing out the chandelier.  Before we did the board and batten, I made a Photoshop rendering of what it would all look like:

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Last time you saw the dining room, it looked like this:

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Of the three things left to do, we can check two of them off the list: adding a gallery wall and curtains!

It now looks like this:

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We ended up going with simple navy curtains after trying out quite a few in this space.  I found some that I loved (finally), but realized that the standard 84″ panels were just too short.  The curtain rod would have sat right across the trim at the top of the window, which just looked horrible.  I have learned years ago about hanging curtains high and wide to make a window seem bigger (and to let in more light), so I definitely wanted to go that route.  It’s funny that we don’t have tall ceiling but somehow standard curtains do not work for us. Maybe our windows are higher than normal?  I’m not sure.  We ended up going with my favorite and most affordable option – Merete curtains from Ikea.  They don’t seem to have the navy panels online, but they were in the store.  They are actually the same curtains we used (only in white instead of navy) in our living room that I painted stripes on.  I like the style and the way they lay.  They were about $30 for two panels, which as a huge deal compared to the other ones we were looking at!

The reasoning behind the gallery wall is simple.  I loved our gallery wall we had in our hallway right when you entered our last apartment.  I would stare at it often.  It was such a beautiful reflection of our marriage and life together.  So, I really wanted to add one to our home.  Why the dining room?  Well, first of all, the wall opposite the buffet has two eyesores on it: a vent and a smoke detector.  Not exactly beautiful, and definitely not easy to work around.  Sure, we could have painted the vent, but it is not recommended to paint smoke detectors, and the positioning of them made it nearly impossible to spread any other kind of art out in a way that would look nice on the wall.  So, instead of working against the eyesores, we worked with them!  By filling the wall up with frames, the vent and smoke detector go unnoticed by most who enter our house.  We plan on changing the smoke detector out for a white one (it is currently cream) so it blends in even more, but it works for now.  We also decided to do this in our dining room because it is the center of our home.  It connects the living areas (kitchen and living room), it is where we spend a ton of time, and it is visible from most places in our living area.  We love that where we come together to spend time together houses a beautiful collection of photos, art, and special keepsakes that we adore.

Now for more photos!

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I’m not going to go through every piece of art, because most are photos from our past, our wedding, or photos I have taken.  Some were cut out from magazines.  Some were created by me in Photoshop.  Some are paper goods from our wedding.  Some are stock photos I found online for free and printed.  Some are special pieces I bought for San.  Some are pieces of art or greeting cards we have accumulated over the years.  There really is no way for me to source everything, but if you have a question about something you see, ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction!

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At the center, I placed a wide, thick frame I believe we picked up at a garage sale years ago.  I thought it would be the perfect frame to have in the center and to build all the other frames off from (if it looks uncentered in other photos, it is simply because I used a wide-angle lens and am shooting at an angle – the frame is centered on the wall).  I thought it would be fitting to create an “established” sign with our last name and the year we got married since that is what this wall is a reflection of – our marriage.  I simply measured the frame, found some nice fonts and created a document in Photoshop.  I then sent it to Staples to be printed for $7.  It’s perfect and we love it!

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As for the frames, they are mainly Ikea, but many are from dollar stores and garage sales.  I simply bought some Krylon white spray paint that can be painted on any surface and gave them all a couple coats so they wold match.  I love the diversity of size, shape, matting, and design.

In our last apartment where most of these hung previously, I used the method of measuring the space I was using, laying all the frames out on the ground to see what they would look like, and then hanging newspaper cutout replicas of the frame on the wall to make sure the sizes would work on the wall.  This time around, I didn’t bother laying them out on the ground first.  Instead, I traced them all with newspaper again and assigned them all a number.  Then, I hung all the cutouts on the wall, shifting, adjusting, and rearranging as I went.  Then, starting in the middle, I started hanging them.  I started in the middle because I knew for sure I wanted that long frame there, so if frames didn’t end up looking good next to it, I could change them before getting half way through with the whole project and having to start over.  I changed a lot as I went, so I’m happy I did it this way so I didn’t have to feel locked in to a certain configuration.  At the end, I looked for gaps and then measured those areas and searched for cheap frames to fit.  The dollar stores and stores like  Menards and Home Depot were great at helping me gather the last frames (some of them very small) without spending  a ton.

 

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We just love how it turned out!  We have plaster walls, so I have been intimidated ever since our renovation about hanging anything on them for fear that they will just crumble to pieces.  An employee at Menards tried to convince me that I would need to anchor every little frame, even the tiny, light ones since I was working with plaster.  I’m so glad I didn’t listen!  I simply used a picture nail for most of the small frames and anchored only the larger, heavy ones.  For the small ones that were likely to shift, I cut the Command picture hanging velcro in half (so each strip could be used twice instead of using two strips on one frame) and stuck it to the bottom center of those frames and the wall to keep them from shifting.  I haven’t had to adjust any of the frames even once in the two months since I tackled this project!

Since photos are great, but a video is much better for showing what a room actually looks like, I’ve included a video!

Where do you keep your sentimental photos/keepsakes? Do you display them or keep them hidden away for safe-keeping?

Entryway Update & Hidden Office Storage

It is almost laughable how excited I am to finally be able to share this update with you!  You see, in our last home tour video and blog post, we had started turning our second bedroom on the main floor into an office.

See?

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Little did we know that three days after posting that home tour, we would conceive our child, so needless to say, the second bedroom will not become an office anymore.  I definitely was excited about creating an office, but that was mostly because I needed something to look forward to when my greatest dream of having a baby seemed like something that might never happen.  Now that it actually is happening, I am very excited to move everything out of that room and design a nursery!

When I overhauled the now-navy lateral file cabinet in the photo above, I knew that it would have a use even if we got pregnant or adopted down the road.  Although we don’t have a space for an entire office right now since the basement remains unfinished, we need the capabilities of having an office on our main floor since I have a photography business and we do normal office-related tasks at our home such as bill-paying, budgeting, filing important papers, preparing our files for taxes, and so on.  So, we had to get creative about how we would make our living area, which is definitely not huge, function as a living room and dining room while also functioning as an office.   However, the office part had to be secret because we don’t want our home to look like an office when we have people over, so we had to get creative.

Enter our newest addition to our home: an entry way drop zone and little decorative nook.

We brought the file cabinet out of the second bedroom and placed it next to the half-wall on this blank wall that we see upon entering the house:

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Now it looks like this!

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The file cabinet does not look office-y at all and ties in perfectly with our navy rug in the living room.  We absolutely love how this little nook sets the tone of our colorful, quirky, happy house.

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On the file cabinet, we have a little pedestal vase filled with some decorative vase filler from Target.  Next to that, we have some candy for guests to take when they enter and leave our house.  I just love those little details!  Stealing the show is my favorite print we own that I got for Christmas two years ago.  It’s the Michelle Armas Trellus print.  I love how it ties in so many of the colors in our house and is just so vibrant!  I can’t help but smile when I see it, and now I get to see it all the time!  I also put a decorative blue frame San got me probably six years ago for my birthday from one of my favorite local stores, Patina.  It holds one of our engagement photos.  In front of that is just a little quote plaque.

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I am in love with decorating shelves.  We love the ones we have in our kitchen, but those do not get changed up very much because we love them just the way they are.  Because we don’t have a fireplace/mantel, I have always wanted a place to decorate for the seasons, to hang stockings from, and to change out whenever the mood strikes.  What a better place than in our little entryway portion of our living room?  Right now, the shelves were somewhat decorate for Independence Day, but the colors work in our house so I’m just leaving it for now.

Most of the little nicknacks were collected over time or were gifts from friends.  I grabbed some of our blue books to add some color and used nicknacks as book ends.  The red horse chess piece was a gift and the white ceramic owl (Owlfred as we like to call him) is from a cool Australian store that is in the Mall of America, called Typo.  The other wall plaque was a gift, the mason jars I purchased at estate sales and were used in our wedding, the vintage Pepsi-Cola can was found at a thrift store on our honeymoon, and the lantern was purchased at Target, I believe.

On the top shelf, the lantern with a candle was a gift, the Bless this Home frame was a gift and I just painted it with coral paint, and the silver vintage jug was also used in our wedding.  The flying pig is actually very special to me.  I have always had a thing for pigs (I’ve always wanted a pig named Disco), and I even had Vans shoes with flying pigs on them in high school.  I adored those shoes.  I don’t remember where I saw the ceramic flying pig, but I had to buy him that second.  We named him Edwin, naturally.  Anyway, he is signed by John and Sherry from Young House Love during their book tour.  Funny story, I was actually mentioned on their blog twice (once in photo form, and once I got an actual mention) because I posted a funny photo of myself holding their book in front of our gallery wall in our old apartment in my pajamas because I was so eager to pick up the book that I walked through our apartment building looking like that to pick it up.  I chronicled all the madness and excitement on my photography blog.

 

Here are some closeups of the decorative goodness:

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Now, the file cabinet is not the only way we conceal office storage.  In fact, our beautiful buffet we added during the renovation is full of office-related supplies, even a huge color laser printer (WHAT?  WHERE?), but you will have to watch the video below to see how we conceal our office supplies in the buffet (and you can see more of the entry way nook as well).

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The House Made of Really Long Lists

I have been an avid decorating/DIY blog reader since I was a sophomore in college, about six years ago. I’ve dreamed of owning a home my whole life and have “designed” my dream house over and over again growing up, both in my mind and on paper. However, I never realized how much anxiety was tied to the excitement of home ownership. My dream decorating never took into account funds, or lack thereof, experience, or time. Now that I’m 24 years old, married for two years, with a full-time job and a business on the side (plus a dog and a social life), I’m realizing that a beautiful home of my dreams is not easy (and not always fun) to achieve. After finally finishing our major renovation, I can’t help but look around the house and see all of the millions of little things we still want to do. I’m extremely excited about these things and in love with our home even the way it is, but I’m a forward thinker and have trouble not thinking about all of the stuff I want to do.

Since I’m a list-maker by nature (just look in any drawer, notebook, or purse in our house and you will find proof of this), I thought I would share a list of all the things we have planned for our home. This makes me feel much better just knowing it’s all written down and helps me stay motivated. I have no idea how many of these things will actually happen or how long we will live here, but we adore our house and want to keep loving on it as long as possible!

This list contains more than just major decorating, it also contains things we want to buy and organizing projects as well. I also included the rooms that are not created yet (the basement family room and basement bathroom) or used as such yet (the two basement bedrooms that are sheet rocked but are being used as storage).

I’ll make sure to update as we go along!

Front Yard

 

Marital Glue House at Closing

Exterior

Garage

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Entryway

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Living Room

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Dining Room

 

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Kitchen

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Main Floor Bathroom

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Main Floor Hallway

 

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Master Bedroom

Second Bedroom on Main Floor

Basement Family Room (not yet created)

Basement Bath Room (not yet created)

Basement Front Bedroom  (not yet used)

Basement Back Bedroom (not yet used)

Basement Laundry/Utility/Storage Room

Back Yard

Whew!  Like I said, a lot to do!  I’m excited to see which we actually do and how this list changes over the years.  What are your favorite things you’ve tackled on your home’s to do list?  What is something you never anticipated doing?

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2013 Holiday/Renovation-Completion Tour

It’s definitely been far too long since we have posted, but this has been a very crazy year!  We wanted to update with posts for every step along the way during our renovation, but since that took up our weekends and many of our nights, there was really no time to update.  Instead of going step-by-step through the renovation (which we might break down a little more in the future if anyone is interested), we are instead showing you the “final” (right, it’s never finished) tour now that the renovation is done and we have it decorated for the holidays.

In this video, I explain what we did as well as what we are planning on doing, because there are still tons of things on our to do list.  Coming up soon, we will be posting a rundown list of all the projects dealing with our house, both finished and left to do.  Trust me, there are a lot more “to dos” then there are “finished” at this point, but most of the major stuff is out of the way!

Before you view the video, let’s recap what the floor plan looked like when we bought the house:

house plan before

And this is the house after the renovation:
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What we did:

Please don’t mind the random music in the middle of the video.  I’m not sure how that happened and didn’t realize it until it was already uploaded.

We are so excited to finally share the results!  We have tons of projects planned for this year, but will be tackling them at a slower pace so we hope to update as we go this year!

We would love to know your thoughts on what we have done and what we plan to do.  I love being inspired by other people’s ideas and love getting input from others!

I hope you all had a merry Christmas and have an amazing new year!