Olive Wood Nativity

Holiday Home Tour 2017

Christmas spirit fell early in our house this year. Early November I just couldn’t hold back and started playing Christmas music all day long. The boys were overjoyed with me, singing all day long, but my wonderful hubby just rolled his eyes. It was too early in his opinion!

I did hold out for the Christmas decorations until Thanksgiving weekend. It is our tradition to go cut down our Christmas tree at Peterson Riverview Nursery in Allegan, MI the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The weather was so great Thanksgiving weekend! We did bundle up, but I think it was in the 40’s so not too bad to take a wagon ride out to the tree field to pick and cut down a tree. We also buy one of their handmade wreaths.

Want to see what we bought and how we set it up? Come on in!

Christmas Wreath Front Door

I don’t have a plan when picking out a wreath for our front door. This one with the burlap ribbon, pine cones, and white accents struck me this year. Although I don’t have a theme, I tend to shy away from traditional red bows and such. Isn’t this one lovely? They last forever too. I usually keep ours up until March or until I’m REALLY embarrassed that our front door is still decked out for Christmas.

It’s not even brown when I take it down! If I remember, I’ll take a picture and show you.

Burlap Christmas Wreath

We set up two trees in our house: the kids tree and mommy’s tree. The kids use our old artificial tree, sort of a Charlie Brown tree (ok, really truly a Charlie Brown tree!), and decorate it with colored lights and their own ornaments. It lives in their toy room, and yes, things get broken ever year. They love having their own tree to decorate and turn on each day.

I show you their tree in the name of keeping it real. It’s such a scraggly tree, but it bring endless joy to my boys.

Charlie Brown Tree

Then there’s mommy’s tree:

Silver Gold Christmas TreeIt is a family affair to decorate “mommy’s tree,” but the instructions are clear that mommy may move ornaments or veto decorations at any time. 🙂

I did move some ornaments, but kept the “house” that my oldest made on one of the interior branches. The branch is holding maybe 8 ball ornaments as close together as you could possibly hang them. Adorable.

I’ve had these ornaments for years. I’m very thrifty when it come to holiday decor, so these were all purchased a day or two after Christmas at 75% off. While I love all of the ornaments, I do like them to be not too precious. They might get broken with the little hands putting them on the tree or the dog’s wagging tail as he looks out the window. For those reasons, I want to love my tree but not put it up on an untouchable pedestal.

Not all of the ornaments are a matched set which makes it a little less perfect and all the more meaningful. This one is from my Bible study leader a few years back.

Gold Crystal OrnamentThis one is just from Target years ago, but I love the white, gold, and glitter.

Gold White Ball OrnamentAnother one from Target, I really like gold glittery ornaments! I just took pictures of my favorites, but ha, they all look the same!

Gold Glitter StarNext up, the mantle! We have a corner fireplace in our living room, and it is a challenge to decorate. The shelf on top is huge. There is so much space to fill. Now I know with decorating that not all space needs to be filled, but this is an awkwardly large space that looks funny very easily.

Corner Christmas Fireplace

I posted some of these photos on Instagram and Facebook recently and received some great suggestions on how to decorate a corner fireplace. Take a look at this one. It looks so much like my fireplace it’s scary! I wish I had done some research before decorating mine. I just get an idea in my head and start running with it. Next year, I will incorporate some of Kristi’s ideas.

The massive quote “O Come Let Us Adore Him” is my solution to shorten the depth of the mantle. I have a large canvas that I covered in white wrapping paper. Then I made a template in Photoshop and used that to draw the quote in pencil first on the paper. I went over the pencil with black permanent marker. Finally, I painted the star on with craft paint and called it a day! Easy to make, and easy to take off after Christmas!

Huge Christmas Quote

My new stockings are looking smashing, if I do say so myself. One small issue though, they are kind of heavy. As in, those weights barely hold the empty stocking on the mantle. They will surely fall down when loaded with goodies. I didn’t really like the magnetized decals that go on top of these weighted hangers (I liked the low profile!), but I think we need to add them to make the hanger heavier.

The nativity is my favorite one so far (I own three…I might be starting a collection!). It is hand-carved from olive wood, and my in-laws brought them back for us from Jerusalem. It is so beautiful and meaningful to me.

Olive Wood Nativity


Olive Wood Mary

Olive Wood Shepherd

Olive Wood WisemenI have another nativity that I was planning to put on the buffet in our dining room along with other pretty thing. Well, I did put it on the buffet, and the kids helped me put it up.

NativityOne wise man lost his hat and hand, and it looks like a sheep may have passed away. This is one area I don’t fix to be perfect. I like seeing how my kids put things up. It makes me chuckle every time I walk by.

As for the other pretty things that would make a lovely Christmas buffet-scape…well…I need to back up a bit and show you some real life. I wasn’t able to get our dining room all deck out because…WINE!

Holiday BuffetThe red blanket is covering and keeping two carboys of wine (one shiraz, one pinot noir) warm while they ferment. The random stuff next to it is all the tools to make the wine: acidity tester, CO2 something-er-other, and I don’t know what else. This is real life. It can’t all be perfect. Sometimes you just need to make wine. 🙂 Come on over in 2 years to have a glass!

The last kid friendly area is how we display our friend’s and family’s Christmas cards and our advent wreath. I made a couple bows (following this tutorial), and we tape the Christmas cards we receive to the tail each day.

Xmas Card Advent Wreath

I made this felt advent wreath at Bloom, a mom of young children group at my church, and it is perfect for pointing my kids to Jesus. My kids put up a berry every day, and we “light” the candles on Sunday as we read the Bible passage that applies to each candle.

This is my first time doing an advent wreath. I did not grow up in a liturgical church so this was not a part of our church tradition. I really like it so far. Jesus is the reason we celebrate. Dan and I work hard to make sure our children know that.

The best part? It’s felt. It doesn’t break! Christmas win!

Kid Friendly Advent WreathSo there you have it, a not-too-perfect, mostly kid-friendly, real-life Christmas Home Tour! My goal is to have our home look Christmas-y but not halt real life. We play hard in this house all year, Christmas included.

Do you have a favorite Christmas piece? Mine is the nativities!

Do you decorate early, late, slow, all in one night, wait until Christmas Eve?

Do you recycle your holiday decor or buy new things each year?

Main Bathroom Vanity Refresh

Main Bathroom Refresh | A Low Budget (less than $700!) Face-lift

I’m working to update my Home Tour page, and I realized there are so many rooms I never shared the “finished” update. Today I’ll cover our main full bathroom. We have one full bathroom with all the bedrooms upstairs (sniff…no master bath!), and we made giving it a refresh our project last winter. Wait…2 winters ago! Wow, time flies!

Here is the bathroom when we bought the house: pinkie-beige laminate counter tops, oak vanity, and vinyl floor that I’m pretty sure was in my parent’s house growing up. The green on the walls was not a terrible color, but the finish was looking very flat and dull. It needed freshening up.

Full Bathroom Before

Full Bathroom Before

We set a budget of $500. The bathroom was fully functional. Our main complaint was it wasn’t our style. For that reason, we only planned a face-lift rather than an extensive renovation. The plan was to paint the walls, frame out the mirror, paint the light fixture, tile above the shower, add a backslash to the sink, and re-stain the vanity.

Paint the walls

I tackled the walls during nap times (naptime with a 6 month and 2 year old…how I miss you!). I painted it using Valspar Reserve. I cannot find the paint color anymore. It’s not listed on the mixer tag the store put on it. Bummer.

Frame the mirror

To frame the mirror, we bought trim from Home Depot, mitered the corners then glued it right to the mirror with mirror adhesive. We roughly followed this tutorial. We did have to notch the trim for the clips that hold the mirror, but our were much lower profile than Young House Love’s. Just a few chips with the chisel was enough to hide our clips.

We did not fully connect the frame prior to gluing it to the mirror though. We glued it one piece at a time to the mirror. This was a mistake because we weren’t able to do a good dry fit since we had four separate pieces. We were off quite a bit on the corners. I spent some time filling, sanding, filling, sanding, then more filling and sanding to make those corners look decent. Don’t do it like we did! Put the whole frame together first!

Framed Mirror Backsplash

Paint the light fixture

The light fixture was fully functioning, and although I didn’t love the style, I didn’t want to spend precious budget dollars on a new light fixture. So I spray painted it using Rustoleum’s Universal Metalic Spray Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze. I happened to have this on hand, so all this update took was a few hours of prep and spraying then a couple days to dry. Voila, a whole new feel!

Tile Above The Shower

Here is where our super quick, super cheap update starts to fall apart. We have never laid our own tile. I always get ambitious and say I will, but then time gets tight, and we hire our friend to lay the tile for us. He’s so good, so precise, so we don’t have a hard time rationalizing hiring him! This project ended up being the absolute perfect one to hire someone to help us.

Tile above the shower seemed like such a cool idea, right? At that time, I was seeing it everywhere as an easy update without the cost and hassle of installing a whole new shower.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The cement board above a fiberglass shower unit is not straight. Not anywhere. Not by a long shot. The corners are not square, which rarely are in any corner of any house, but the bowed walls exacerbated this issue. This “easy” tiling project quickly turned into a nightmare, took two days with the help of a professional.

Look at that curve! The curve goes all the way around the shower where the fiberglass insert slips under the cement board.

Tile Above Shower Pitfall

Dan and our friend had to cut every side of every piece of tile. I specifically picked these tiles in this arrangement to minimize cuts, and it turned out not mattering a bit. Those poor guys had to make SO many cuts.

We did do all the grout and sealing of the tile ourselves after much thanks, blessings, and beers to our friend. 🙂 That process went as planned. It was lots of rinsing and wiping, but all went as it should.

The finished shower:

Tile Above Shower FinishedBackslash Around Sink Area

Thankfully, the vanity was level and the walls were not bowed. Tiling this section was a breeze. Whew!

new faucet

Re-Stain the Vanity

Last bit of bad news on this project: the re-staining of the vanity took FOREVER! It’s really all my fault. I should’ve used a new can of stain from the get go, but I just didn’t know what would happen with old stain. Now I do: it doesn’t soak into wood. Don’t use old, improperly stored stain like I did. Buy new!

For my first attempt to stain, I used the aforementioned leftover stain from my dining room table project (years before with improper storing in between, I’m sure). It did not soak into the wood. I, of course, thought it just needed more time. So I left it on overnight. What a mistake! The next morning, I was met with a sticky, gooey mess! I had to strip the entire vanity to get it off. Since I had little kids in the house, I used a more eco-friendly stripper, and it took several coats with many days of work. This was such a morale buster. I spent so much time on this vanity. I’m happy with the result now, but I was quite demoralized during the transformation of this beast.

The second time around, I bought a fresh quart of stain, and it worked beautifully! Even though I wanted to rip this sucker out and heave him to the trash, I’m glad I stayed in budget and persevered. It is a super sturdy, fully functional vanity. Truly nothing wrong with it! Now it looks better with its fresh new clothes on!

Re-Stained Oak Vanity

But wait! That’s not the end!

Bonus Features!

That completes our original plan, but while we were in the midst of the tiling debacle, our tiling friend got a hold of some close-out vinyl wood planks. He said it would be cheap, did we want to re-do the floor?

Hmmm, well, we really wanted to keep this refresh reasonably priced, but new floors would be nice…how much?

You’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you: $30. Thirty dollars! What?! Score of the century.

Our friend also works in flooring; hence, his access to super reasonable, close-out vinyl wood planks. He installed it for us while we were gone for the weekend, and we came home to this:

Main Bath Vinyl Wood PlanksThe floor was a game changer! The room still looked tired and old until the new vinyl wood planks were installed. Now it feels like a fresh new room!

The other score of the century was the laminate to apply to the existing counter top. We bought it in a sheet and glued it to the old laminate. The sheet of laminate was $40. Now if we hadn’t had the expertise of our friend (who also owned the right tools!), we couldn’t have installed this so cheap. (Full disclaimer: I don’t think I cleaned the edge of the counter well enough before gluing, so we chipped off those two corner pieces within a week of re-doing the counters. Sigh. Clean well before gluing anything! We still need to glue the pieces back on…another project for another day!)

One more bonus: a new faucet! We somehow landed a gift card to Amazon, and I can’t for the life of me remember how we got it. We used it though to purchase this faucet as we thought the old one was just glaringly off in light of all the newness around it.

With those three bonuses, here’s the finished look on the right side of the room:

Main Bathroom Vanity RefreshJust look where we started!

Full Bathroom BeforeAnd the left side of the room:

Main Bath Vinyl Wood PlanksFull Bathroom BeforeSo much lighter and fresher…it has new life!


Since I waited 2 years to share this update, I don’t have all the specs and costs for this project. We did go over the budget of $500, but not by much! I believe the total was about $660.

This project made our bathroom so much more enjoyable. I still love walking into this room two years later. The floor, the tile, the mirror frame, everything makes me smile every day!

Have you scored any awesome decor or renovation deals that just MADE the room? The faux wood planks did it for me!

Any plans to plan a low-cost refresh of a room? Do share! I love hearing other people’s plans to maximize the impact within their budget!


Micah’s Office, Part 2 | A Use-What-You-Have Home Office Transformation

See the first part of the story here. The problem, thought process, and rational behind the decisions.

Quick reminder: here is where we started:

Desk/Work Area

Following the floor plan mentioned before, the L desk arrangement was rotated to have the coffee table along the left wall and Micah’s desk jutting out into the middle of the room. This puts Micah’s work space directly under the overhead light. Light issue resolved! Yes! Well, partially, the coffee table is still somewhat shadowed (because the light is still behind Micah once he turns to work at the coffee table) so we kept the desk lamp on the desk but switched the side it’s on so that it illuminates the coffee table area.

The tall thinner bookshelf was purged (Betsey and I were on a mission to get this room functional, so we used this time to also get rid of anything they didn’t need anymore.) then relocated to their guest bedroom.  Yay for more breathing room!

The tall and wide, cube bookshelf was moved to the center of the back wall. It is no longer looming on the left when you enter the room. It gives more balance in this location. (Pardon the blurry composite photo…I did not spend enough time getting the right shots of this room!)

The short cube bookshelf was moved to go in front of Micah’s desk. The purpose here was threefold (1) to hid the cords and other disarray from the computer, printer, and label maker; (2) to provide a landing zone for the books Betsey and Micah are currently reading (and will need to grab to make use of their reading spot); and (3) to provide an area to display the decor items they love and have special meaning.

In the back right corner of the room is the first spot that was free to use the decor items Betsey had collected and loved but couldn’t figure out how to make work in a room. Notice the two baskets in the bottom left corner of this before picture.

Betsey had two lovely baskets, but they didn’t have a good home. They had wandered around the room, more out of being in the way than adding to the visual pleasure, if you will, of the room. I love the blue in the wicker vase. Whatever faux plants these are, they play well off the lavender walls.

Their home is now the right front corner with a bird print above it. The colors play nicely with each other and the wall, and we’ve put to use some pretties that have been homeless for years!

The Reading Nook

Betsey has a love of papasan chairs. She has two double papasan chairs in her home. I wanted this chair to look homey and intentional in this room.

When I think of a reading nook, I think it needs three things:

  • Comfy, cozy place to sit or lay
  • A light source
  • Meaningful decor
  • A place to set a drink or book

We accomplished almost all those things in this space:

  • Comfy, cozy place to sit or lay – double papasan chair
  • A light source – I moved the unused, not even plugged in, floor lamp from the back left corner to sit in the space behind the chair. Since this is an upward facing light, it also helps to illuminate the whole room. Micah could even turn it on for more light while working. Double win!
  • Meaningful decor – Betsey had a motivational collage she’d created that we hung above the chair. This is very personal, but I think your home should speak to you and give you pleasure when you see it. This picture gives her pleasure and reminds her of things she strives for. This is perfect and lovely for this spot.
  • A place to set a drink or book – We didn’t get this in place yet. The office was quite crowded with books (remember, Micah had just brought home 300!), and I didn’t want to over crowd the space. I may revisit this later with them, but for now, there’s no where to set your cup of hot cocoa while you read. 🙂

After the furniture was all moved into its new home, I had Betsey lay out on the floor all the art work and decor items she’d collected over the years. We set to work hanging things on the walls. I think hanging pictures/artwork and curtains do wonders to make a room feel like home.

We hung the motivation poster above the papasan chair.

We hung the bird print above the baskets in the corner.

We created a collage with a bunch of different pieces above Micah’s work space. This is my favorite part. We laid the arrangement out on the floor first and moved pieces in and out, and tweaked and tweaked until we had an arrangement we liked. The best part of this? Using beautiful pieces they received for their wedding (8 years ago!) but had never had a home. All of these pieces hold meaning to Micah and Betsey in some way.

Well, except the clock. I made them put the clock in. It was left in the house by the previous owners. It doesn’t even work, and Betsey hates the noise of a ticking clock so she wouldn’t let me put new batteries in. Ha! So I guess not everything has meaning. 🙂

Micah’s had a couple weeks to work in the new space, and I’m happy to report it is working out well! We are still finding a solution for his scale.

The best part of this project? It cost $0 and only 3 hours of elbow grease. The elbow grease would’ve been significantly less if we didn’t have 300+ books to move out and then back into the room. We moved all the furniture, purged, and organized during naptime on a Saturday (about two hours) then decorated for about an hour the next morning.

All of this was great fun for me, the planning, thinking, mock-up of the design, but the best part is this:

I️ just love that everything is in a place with purpose.

I like purpose, function, AND beauty in a space.


Micah’s Office, Part 1 | Rekindling an old flame: Organization, Flow, and Home Decor

Not THAT kind of old flame, folks! Get your minds out of the gutter!

I had an opportunity this month to work with my sister and brother-in-law (Betsey and Micah) to reorganize and decorate their home office. I have to tell you; it was so much fun. I haven’t done a home project for anyone else before, and it was invigorating, therapeutic, and just tons of fun.

How it all began: during some discussion with my sister, she mentions her husband’s, Micah, office set-up is less than ideal. She rattles off a couple issues quickly: lighting, surface space, and a room that looks like everything just landed in the room.

The bells immediately start ringing in my head: I could help her reorganize. I could probably help troubleshoot the layout and space issues. This is something I’ve always wanted to do – would she let me help?!

I offer my assistance, and she says yes! Woot! I’m so geeked! I love organizing and decorating my own home, and it has been a dream of mine to help others make their homes beautiful and comfortable too. Here’s my first chance!

So let’s walk through what happened!

Setting the stage: Micah works from home selling books online. So when he brings a bunch of books home, the room is littered with books. Quite literally, stacks of books everywhere. When we scheduled the weekend to do the reorganization, he had just brought home 300 books. 300. It’s quite the mess until he gets them processed and shipped out. The great thing about this is I got to see the office in action. I saw the version Micah has to work with everyday, not the cleaned up version. So it turns out, it was perfect time to re-do the office that weekend.


Disclaimer: These are a photos Betsey sent me as we were working through the design process. This is not post-300 book invasion. This is a more “normal” amount of books.

Problem Areas
  1. Lighting – There is only one overhead light, centered in the room. Micah’s desk is currently along the back wall putting the light behind him and casting a shadow over the desk when he’s working. To compensate for this, he has the tall desk lamp on the desk to illuminate his work area. Never mind the floor lamp in the corner. It’s not even plugged in!
  2. Scale – Micah weighs each box of books before they are shipped, and he does not have a spot to put his scale. He currently puts it in another room so he’s walking the books back and forth as he works.
  3. Dog Stuff – The precious pooch’s accessories need a home. Currently it’s an overflowing basket that sits on the floor.
  4. Intentional Design – They would like the office and reading space to look intentional. It has a “it just landed here” look about it.
Design Process (aka Mulling it Over)
  1. Lighting – Personally, I dislike furniture pushed against the wall. It makes the most room for walking in the middle of the room but makes for poor aesthetics. If we move his desk under the light, then we don’t need to buy new lights, rearrange outlets, or ceiling lights.
  2. Micah clearly needs an L-shaped desk for his work. He does data entry on each book then uses the coffee table to sort, package, and mark boxes for shipping. So the desk/coffee table arrangement needs to stay.
  3. Scale – I completely forgot to work in the scale. Sorry, Micah! Working that out with him now, I’ll update when that is worked in to the room. **Update – We’ve found an unused end table to hold the scale. Now the desk area is roughly “U” shaped. See after photos in the next post.**
  4. Dog Stuff – Betsey actually worked this out before I arrived. She found an open shelf in the closet by the front door so she popped the dog basket up there. Problem solved!
  5. Intentional Design – I rolled this issue around in my mind for at least a week before coming up with a new, intentional room arrangement. Our budget was $0 so I had to work with the pieces either in this room or shop their house for other options.
Floor Plan

All the bookshelves were on the left wall. They were both tall, which is fine, but they were too heavy, visually. The room was heavier on the left than the right. The design plan needed to keep the cube bookshelf as is very functional when Micah brings in 300 books to sort and ship. The other bookshelf held their personal books (but not books that were read often, just ones they didn’t want to part with) and was not necessary to keep in that location. Done, that piece is out of this room!

I suggested to move the large cube bookshelf to the center of the back wall. (1) It does not need to be well-lit as Micah is usually slowly loading or unloading it throughout his work day. It is simply there to hold books until Micah can work with them at his desk. (2) It is a large piece of furniture that could balance the room if in the middle rather than to one side without anything opposite to balance it.

Betsey has a double papasan chair that she wants to stay in the room and create a reading nook. I like it’s placement in the front right corner of the room, but any good reading nook needs a light and some decor.

Moving the L desk arrangement to the middle/left side of the room leaves the back of Micah’s desk exposed, and the back of any desk that holds a computer is rarely pretty. Cords galore! To solve this unsightly issue, I suggest moving the small cube bookshelf to back up to Micah’s desk. This will give Betsey a place to decorate and still hold personal books to grab when she’s reading in the papasan chair. Also moving the small bookshelf creates some empty space on the right side of the room, allowing for an area to decorate and let the room breathe.

Extra shipping boxes – For the most part, Micah buys new boxes to ship out the books, so he needed a place to keep the flat boxes. I suggest at the end of the coffee table, in the back left corner of the room. This way they are close to the coffee table where he loads up the boxes, but they are purposefully placed in the nook created in that corner.

Betsey and Micah had collected many pictures and artwork through the years but never took the time to put it up on the walls.

Tary no longer! Those lovelies are being hung! Tune in soon to see the afters!

Kitchen Reveal

While every room in our house is continually a work-in-progress (or so it seems), the bulk of the kitchen has been completed for some time…oh you know, about a year or so. Life gets the better of me most days, so here are the pictures of our kitchen (finally!).

A reference point, here is our kitchen when we walked through the house.


It was your typical builder’s grade 1990’s kitchen: oak cabinets, basic two basin sink, gooseneck faucet that didn’t quite reach into both sides of the sink, and beige counter tops.

Here’s what you can’t see in the picture:

  • the faucet is broken and leaking
  • the garbage disposal doesn’t work
  • beyond disgusting, rusted out dishwasher in peninsula
  • dirty, sticky, pealing floor (rolled laminate covered by peal n’ stick laminate tiles which weren’t applied properly)
  • sandpaper like walls
  • no appliances (oh wait, you can see that!)

Here’s what we loved about the kitchen:

  • biggest floor print of any house/apartment we’d lived in. Oh the cupboard and counter space!
  • even more space potential if the peninsula was moved out to the corner and extended toward the fridge area
  • sturdy oak cabinets (while out-dated, they were in good shape)
  • crown moulding on cabinets (I just love the look, and now we didn’t have to add it!)

To us, it screamed “I have potential!”

Our renovation maximized the potential we saw in the room and our budget so we did most of the work ourselves and kept as many things as possible. (We even tried to salvage the floor, but that failed.)

  1. We painted the cabinets ourselves. What a labor of love! It’s a lot of work!
  2. We hired out new countertops. We replaced with laminate, Wilson Art’s Carrara Santorini. This is a laminate version of Carrara Marble. So it is white with grey veining through it.
  3. We hired a friend to lay the subway tile, but we grouted and sealed it ourselves.
  4. We hired out laying of new vinyl flooring (done at the same time as the rest of the flooring in the house).
  5. We hired out skim coating the walls in the dining room and kitchen to cover the texture, but we did all the painting ourselves.
  6. Bought new appliances.
  7. Hired a friend to build a new peninsula.
  8. Installed new knobs and pulls ourselves (by ourselves, I mean Dan!).
  9. Installed appliances, sink, disposal, and faucet ourselves (again, I mean Dan).

I think that’s all we’ve done. It sure doesn’t sound like much when I type it out. It took us eight months or so though, maybe a year…we aren’t the fastest DIYers!

Ok, enough words, on to the pictures! Here she is today in all her glory!


Sink Area



Stove Area



Refrigerator Area


IMG_9051_smallIt doesn’t seem like the same room, does it?

The part I’ve been enjoying most about decorating my kitchen is making little spaces decorated and yet functional:

1. Next to the refrigerator:


2. Our “coffee station:” This is a new one. I want to add cute, matching mugs along with cream and sugar containers, but this is what I had on hand so far. I do like the functionality. It saves cupboard space and makes finding the coffee items easy in the morning.


3. Ok, so this isn’t a decorated space, but does everyone have an overflowing utensil holder? Is it just us? We use them all too…they are often all dirty…maybe we just need to wash our dishes more often…


4. Cute hand soap:


So there you have it! We are loving our new kitchen. We love to cook, so this space gets tons of use everyday!

Home Office

I finally have a home office area! We have a long skinny living room, and the front door opens into this large room. To make the room cozier and more conversation-friendly, the living room furniture is arranged around the fireplace on one side of the room. This leaves a rather large entry area and a VERY undefined space. We decided to take up the area behind the living room furniture with our new and improved home office!

Here she is now!


Oh happy day! The desk gets daily use by Dan and I, and  I am loving the devoted space to blog, work on the budget, or waste perfectly good naptime on Pinterest. 🙂

Here are two of my favorite things about this area so far (besides the desk…that takes the cake, of course!).

1. Brass Lamp – Who knew brass/gold would come back in fashion? I love this HomeGoods find! The light it casts is great too…not too bright and large enough to illuminate the whole desk.


2. My First Word/Scripture Art – I made this all by myself folks! This verse from Psalm 90 struck me in my bible study through Moses this year (Bible Study Fellowship, I highly recommend it!). I thought it would be so appropriate above a work space, asking the Lord’s blessing on your work…whatever that may be!


I’m still working on styling the shelf above the desk. It is functional (always my goal), but it comes off a bit cluttered right now. The shelf is also a different style than the desk, and I’m not sure if I’m bothered by it or not. I already had the shelf, so I wanted to use it. Hmmm…ideas? I love having note cards and pens in plain sight. I’m way more likely to write that thank you note with these items close at hand!


I tried to use things that I already owned to decorate this space. The only new things are the gold frame (Ikea), the desk lamp (HomeGoods), and the ceramic box on the desk top (Target). Everything else I already owned. I love shopping my home for decorations! It feels good to move things around or put things to use that have been sitting in a closet/furnace room for 2 years. Anyone else slow on the decorating wagon? I actually forgot I had the gerber daisy print…it was under the basement stairs, covered in dust. Oops.

Future plans for the space:

  • reupholster the desk chair – So exciting but a little intimidating…I’ve never tried upholstery before!
  • add a rug – not sure about this one. The large area will have me contemplating how to pull this off without competing with the living room or front door.
  • tweak the decor – again, not sure I have the best selections on the shelf/desk. It will be a work-in-progress for a while!

I love my office space! What good function have you added to your home lately?


Newest Member of our Household

Not a human by the way!

Although maybe baby Taz has made his arrival by now as I’m scheduling these posts ahead of time!

We inherited some beautiful wood furniture for Jackson’s big boy room! We’ve got two dressers and twin beds coming our way. They are MASSIVE pieces of furniture, so we’ve only managed to get one dresser to our house so far.

Isn’t she a beauty?


I’m so inspired to mix the old with the new and various wood types in this big boy room. I’ve found a new appreciation for old pieces of furniture, so I have no intention of re-doing this one. I plan to make the room flow with the furniture. Really, this is a super sturdy, well-made dresser (besides a few paint spots and scratches…which I hope to fix…google here I come!), and it is in perfect condition.


I have also renewed my love for my 50mm lense…but it’s super hard to do room shots because you can back up enough. It takes beautiful pictures though. Doesn’t it?

Hence, I don’t have a great picture of the whole dresser…I needed to be 10 feet outside my house to do so…and one story up…not happening. 🙂


I’ll share more as we get the room more put together and decorated. I’m so excited about our new furniture!

My Beautiful New X-Desk!

I’ve been wanting to set up a home office area in the house since we moved in (ahem, two years ago, ahem). I manage the bills and budget for our household, and the kitchen table just wasn’t cutting it. I would inevitably work on the budget too close to dinner or the end of the day, leaving a mess of receipts and the bills shoved to one side of the table. One day would fade into the next until, before you know it, that mess of paper is a permanent resident on our table. Yuck!

We have a long narrow living room, so we planned to add a small office area behind the living room furniture. As we donated all of our office furniture when we moved out of our last home (it was college stuff anyway, hardly our style anymore!), Dan was oh-so-kind to offer to build me an Ana White desk, the $55 Fancy X Desk. I was skeptical, but it was just as cheap as the plans advertise. It is made almost entirely from 2×4’s which are really cheap. We did customize it a bit for our needs. We left off the “X” in the back and we shortened it to fit our space.

Dan, with the help of a buddy, built the desk, and I finished it. I might learn how to use power tools for myself someday, but for now, I’ll stick to what I’m good at: making wood pretty!

I didn’t take a lot of photos, so I’ll try to fill in the blanks with my eloquent words. 🙂

Imagine Dan building the desk, and it looks just like the ones in the Ana White plans, minus the “X.”

Insert picture of built desk of naked wood.

Then I stained it using Rustoleum’s wood stain in Kona.


Stain makes even the cheapest wood so beautiful!

Then I wanted to try my hand a liming wax. While I’m not a huge cottage/rustic-y style decorator, I like the look of limed wood. Also, I wanted to break up the monotony of dark walnut that is present in my living room. I read many, many tutorials on the stuff, Briwax Liming Wax, and I was almost too intimidated to try after some of the stuff I read. However, this tutorial over at i Heart Organizing made it look super easy. So I went for it!

I followed the tutorial’s directions for application (putty knife) instead of the directions on the can – mistake #1. I used WAY too much wax. This stuff is pricey, and I wasted a whole bunch by applying too much. I learned from my mistakes though and just put a little bit on a rag and rubbed it in when I did the legs of the desk.

Below is my progression to get to my finished table:

  1. freshly applied liming wax (applied with putty knife) – WAY too thick!!
  2. first buffing with steel wool (#0000 grade steel wool)
  3. second buffing with rags (old t-shirts…this took serious elbow grease!)
  4. third buffing on of clear furniture polish to seal the desk and get rid of the grey haze left by the liming wax

Liming Wax Composit

All that to say, I LOVE my desk. It looks fantastic now!


It was a lot of work to get it to this point though, much more than I anticipated. I learned a lot from the tutorials I read, and the research was invaluable as I maneuvered around the hurdles I encountered finishing the table. My recommendation to anyone using this product is to (1) follow the direction of the manufacturer and (2) when in doubt, keep reading and finding more tutorials!

Lessons learned from liming wax:

  • Apply sparingly
  • Take your time rubbing it into the cracks and knots of the wood. You want to highlight the imperfections of the wood, the more the better!
  • Finish with another type of clear wax (I used furniture wax. This will also remove any grey haze from over application of the liming wax.) instead of polyurethane. I read over and over  not to put an oil-based top coat over wax; it will bubble and peal over time. However, I don’t know how to water-based polys will hold up. I was too nervous to try. I always get to a point in these projects where I feel too much time/money has been invested to experiment now. Just finish it the right way, Emily!
  • No need to workout the days you use liming wax….or at least you can skip your dominant arm. 🙂

Here’s one more look at my finished desk. Isn’t she a beaut?


Basement Bathroom Reveal

We’re going with the theme of bathrooms for now. Maybe it will inspire me to actually finish our main bathroom upstairs!

This room was the most unfinished when we bought the house. It was a mess of incorrectly installed cement board, unsanded THICK mud, and uncentered/un-square everything. My dad had the absolute joy of finishing it for us. The installation of each fixture came with the question: “Which side would you like square? Which side should be centered? Would you like it flush with the back wall or the side wall?” etc. you can’t have it all! The great thing is: you can’t really tell now that everything is installed and finished.

Let’s take a look at some pictures!

Vanity/Sink Area


Toilet Area (adjacent to sink, but really hard to photograph together without a wide angle lens!)


Shower and Linen Nook (Opposite sink and toilet)


I am loving the wood shelves! My dad measured and cut all the boards for me (bless his heart, every shelf has a different measurement!), and I finished them and Dan installed them. So basically, I just made them pretty. 🙂

Edit: I copied the tutorial from Thrift Decor Chick.  I forgot to mention that!


Side note: all the baskets on the shelves came from Ikea. Ikea has really expanded their basket selection. The prices are great, and the baskets are really sturdy. The ones on the shelves are especially sturdy. I bought two large, round ones in that style to use as laundry baskets upstairs. They are holding up great so far!

As we are working on our main bathroom upstairs, we’ve been using this bathroom as our main bathroom. So I feel the need to show real life…here’s all the junk I cleared off the ledge/sink so that I could take decent looking pictures. Enjoy!


Lovely. 🙂

And now for a little before and after. These shots aren’t the greatest because the room is small and difficult to photograph (bonus points for spotting the 36 week prego belly!), and the before pictures were taken before the door and linen nook shelves were installed which allowed for more room to snap pictures.

First, the sink/toilet side…







Now the shower/linen side…

Before (Shower then Linen Nook)







You get the idea…hot mess to serene, functional bathroom!

It feels SO good to finally have this room finished! It’s been 90% completed for over a year, but finishing and installing those linen shelves took me about 15 months. Yikes. Seriously, Emily. What procrastination! The wood sat in our garage so long, the boards warped from the moisture, so we had to flatten them with clamps before installing them. So much work and time wasted! Lesson learned! Finish the job in a reasonable amount of time!

Half Bathroom Reveal

Here is our “finished” half bathroom/laundry room! Unfortunately, due to circumstances with the dog it is not officially finished.

Exhibit A:

IMG_8688_smallLong story short: he went berserk.

Bottom Line: We need a new door. Thankfully it is sitting in the garage, but we need to install it.

Besides the door, all the other projects for this room are finished, so let’s look at the finished product!





For comparison’s sake, let’s see a good before and after!





Laundry side…




Ahhh…so much better than black and green!

Now that it’s “finished” I’ve thought of new projects: the door (obviously, although truly perfectly functional!) and new laminate on the sink (I have a remnant from the upstairs bath…can’t wait to blog about that project!).