Tag Archives: Before and after

Simple updates for big impact

When you’re looking at a room, it’s the little things that pull that space together. If you’re like me, it takes a lof of time some time to figure out exactly which details you need to focus on! (I am seriously so slow at making decisions- blame it on decision fatigue.)

Our living room is off the kitchen, and we don’t use it as frequently as our family room, so it gets pushed off to the bottom of my list. This room is, however, the first space you see when you walk into our home, so I’ve been making more of an effort to pull it together.

It used to look like this:

I was AD|GIFTED new curtains from Jinchan.com (check out their Instagram, too!) Let’s be real- my old curtains had seen better days. I had chopped cut them sloppily at the bottom because I was too rushed, and they just weren’t providing enough privacy. I get that they were sheers, but there’s different levels of opacity, and they just weren’t cutting it.

These new curtains have a subtle embroidered vine detail that gives them a more finished look, as well as a heavier weight so I feel like we have a little more privacy. They do let in the light gloriously, though!

I am so pleased with how this little change made a big difference in the feel of this room! What do you think?



From the bottom up

When we bought this house, there were six different types of flooring in this house. I don’t know about you, but that just annoys me. It was visually very jarring- the bedrooms had old *old* dirty white carpet I just couldn’t keep clean, the laminate flooring that covered the hallway, living room and kitchen was scratched to oblivion, the hardwood parquet in the family room was sunbleached and had very noticeable bump in the middle of the room… it was a hot mess. Not even hot… it was just a mess.

We’d been going back and forth on when to put in floors for quite some time. Floors are a big ticket project, and this house isn’t small- almost 2500 square feet. We wanted to do the bedrooms and all the living area. (Basically, we didn’t do the pantry/laundry and the bathrooms.) I am also incredibly slow at making decisions about expensive projects- I want to be 10000% sure before I decide, because there is no going back- like, no freaking way am I going to rip out floors that just got installed because they’re not quite right.

We could have postponed for a year or two, but our timeline for new floors got pushed up when we found out Baby Devaurs 3 would be making their arrival in August. (By the way, it was a girl and her name is Millie <3) The thought of a baby crawling around on that dirty floor just wasn’t it. We got quotes from several companies, and set the dates- June 2021.

Side note: There are some projects I’m totally cool with doing myself- this wasn’t one of them. The demo was intense, the amount of precision required was overwhelming, and I was 7 months pregnant. This was a job best left to professionals. I know some people install floors on their own, and I am in awe. I am not one of those people. I know my limits!

Because this house is… this house, it wasn’t a relatively seamless install. (I know NO project is, but this house always has the wonkiest, weirdest, STUPIDEST issues caused by previous owners who wanted to fix things cheap and fast… every project. Every time.)

The first issue we had was the subfloor. Because of the way the previous owners had installed the laminate, we were facing replacing all of the subfloor throughout the majority of the house. This would have increased our project cost by 50%- which just wasn’t feasible for us. I cried that afternoon when the contractor was explaining the situation to us- tears of frustration, mostly, because it seems like decisions of other people always stymie our progress with improving this home. Thankfully, the contractor was able to find a way to work around this safely, and we didn’t have to replace all the plywood subfloor. {Note that by June 2021, plywood had increased in cost by nearly 50%, so this workaround saved the project.}

Another strange issue that just feels about right for this home was the hump in the family room floor. This hump was so noticable that you could place a ball in the center of the room and it would roll to the side! The contractors had to do a ton of self-leveling concrete. I’m grateful that it’s mostly gone- they could only do so much because of the sliding glass door that had to have clearance maintained so it could function.

This project was finished in a week- those men worked so hard and I was and am so grateful for them. I know that if we had attempted this ourselves, it would have taken months! The before and afters are unreal, too…


If I could change anything about the floors… it would be nothing. The floors we picked are perfect for us (I chose a light greyish/white because my children and my dogs are in and out all day, and so there is always a lot of dirt, dust and dog hair.) We went with LVP, because it’s waterproof and tough. I know some people hate grey floors-and that’s ok. I like grey so much. I live here, not them. *shrugs*

Despite the fact that I wouldn’t change anything about my floors, I would change a few things I did to prep, survive, and finish up this project:

  1. I rented plastic storage bins from a local California company called Boxbee. I’m not linking them because they were terrible, start to finsh. They delivered my order late and were really unhelpful with giving me delivery details, and then they forgot to come and pick up the damn boxes! It was such a pain. Renting boxes for a move or temporary storage is a big yes from me, but **do not** work with this company if you’re in Northern California. I love that I didn’t have to deal with a lot of cardboard recycling, and this only added about $150 total to the cost of the project… it was totally worth not having to buy or find boxes, then tape them together, then break them down. I labeled the boxes with Post-Its so I could be semi-organized since the boxes just stayed in our garage during this process.
  2. I would not stay in my home during the process, especially with small children who were not in school and being very pregnant. The crew that worked on our home was great, but it was tough to manage keeping my inquisitive posse out of their hair. Haha. Covid constraints made it tough to get out of the house and find stuff to do, so it was really just about making the best of a pretty difficult week. We went to the park a lot.
  3. I wish I would have had a cleaning person come in afterwards, instead of struggling to do it myself. The house was super dusty and dirty from construction, and I don’t know why I didn’t give myself permission to get help, The funny thing is, this isn’t the first time we’ve done a floor installation, so I knew this would be a dusty process.

Alright… After:

To say that we’re pleased would be an understatement. It just feels better, and looking at the floors doesn’t make me feel twitchy, ha.

Any questions? Pop them below or find me on my Instagram!



Look at how far we’ve come!

Before I do a deep dive into the indidual projects that have been completed, I think it’s beneficial to take a snapshot to see how far we’ve come since April of 2018. I get so discouraged when I look around my home- I tend to notice the unfinished and out of place before I see what IS in place. (Lemme tell you, living with kids is really testing me and teaching me how to turn a blind eye to things a bit more.)

Just last week, Google Photos very helpfully showed some photos from the week we did a final walk through on this house. I remember I wasn’t able to come, because I couldn’t miss any more work and child care constraints, so Jensen flew solo and sent me photos to keep me updated. It’s unreal how much this home has changed, as demonstrated through these few photos!

Family/Great Room before, Feb. 2018

This house has great bones, which is why we chose it… but there were certainly big ticket projects we needed to undertake to make it OUR home. Four years later, and we’ve gotten much closer to our vision of what we wanted this home to become.

Family/Great room in June 2021this section now has all of Millie’s baby boys, and I haven’t had the energy to find a better spot for them :)
Entryway before, Feb. 2018
Entryway as of this weekend. The rubber boots are for gardening and checking on my chickens 🙂

I get really discouraged when I look at the list of things we still need (and want) to do. But this photo reminds me of some the really, REALLY big things we have finished, and I have to smile. It really has come so far in the four years. That’s not to say that we don’t have more to do (looking at you, bathrooms, kitchen, and pantry!) but it feels like a totally different home.


Dusting myself off

It’s been a minute two months since I last posted.

Writing has been on my to do list for a month, at least: write two blog posts this week. I start with good intentions, and then, I fall flat and push it off until tomorrow.

I have had a lot on my mind and on my plate, and it’s easy to get caught up in the inane minutiae of adulthood. My career- or lack thereof- has been something I’ve been grappling with. I’m not teaching this year- partly by my own choice, partly by things that are beyond what I could control.

I’ve struggled with feeling like a weakling, like I couldn’t hack it back in the classroom so I’m here sitting on the sidelines. I come from a teaching sector that is very, very competitive and also pretty traditional.  A common mentality in this field is if you don’t go full speed all year, you’re a poor teacher.  I know, deep down, I’m not a failure- in fact,  in having the courage, maybe even the audacity, to chase what makes me truly fulfilled, despite what others may say about that choice, is the best way to carve out my path to success- it’s also difficult to face your former colleagues and tell them you’re “throwing in the towel.”

When I was five, I declared I didn’t want to live in Bakersfield when I grew up. When I was nine, I decided I was going to go to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. One of my  high school teachers commented he had never seen a student so determined to accomplish her goals. With this in mind, admitting I don’t know what I want to do with my life is difficult, and frankly, a little embarrassing. Glennon Doyle talks about this- the falling, the waiting, and the rising. I know I’ll figure it out, but in the meanwhile, I just have to sit and wait- not one of my strong suits. 

On top of my <not even close to> midlife crisis, I’ve had to put both of my children into child care programs. They’ve both been great and are flourishing (David cries when he has to LEAVE preschool, no lie!). However, I miss them! I loved being able to be home with these two incredible little kids who amaze me every single day. I realize part of motherhood is letting go, but that certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

Finally, Jensen and I have had our house renovation plans derailed by this ^&*($Y% stupid retaining wall. Jensen has been working SO hard on finishing it, but it’s an 80 foot long project, and the hill is nearly 5 feet tall at some points, so it’s been slow going.  We decided we’re going to finish a few small projects after we finish this &*$($)# wall so we feel like we can have actually accomplished something! 

I have to keep reminding myself that faltering is part of growing. Pursuing what makes me genuinely happy is worthwhile. This too, shall pass. If you’re in a place like I am, filled with uncertainty, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other- keep on dusting yourself up, and get back on that damn horse and ride, a piece of wisdome I learned from my years of horseback riding. Some days you’ll go forward, some days you’ll fall back, but ultimately, by deciding that what you want is more important than what others want for you, you will get to the place where you’re living an authentic life. And frankly, don’t you think you deserve that?

You do.




Family room update

I’ve been absent for a bit because life has been busy! We’ve had lots of guests, the kids have been very active- Caroline is becoming quite the confident walker!- and I’m trying to savor my time with my children before I have to go back to the working world.

Jensen and I had big plans for doing more renovations, but the wind was knocked out of our sails when our retaining wall failed



I hate this fricking wall. 


This is no minor issue- its only ten feet from the side of our house, and it’s nearly fifty feet long. It’s also very expensive to repair- like, three bathroom updates expensive… Needless to say, we lost a little bit of our motivation and got the wind knocked out of our sails, so we’ve been sitting in stasis for a bit, trying to find solutions to this major problem that won’t gut our finances.

On a positive note, I finally got 95% of the boxes unpacked and sorted, so it feels a bit more like home every day. David finally stopped asking about going to his old house, which also helps.

I wanted to do a quick overview of the family room, as this is where we spend most of our time and it’s really the most finished room in the house… besides art work. That’s always something I struggle with.


This is the view from the kitchen dining nook. I love this room- I really do. I love the paint color (Sherwin Williams Sea Salt FOR LYFE!), I love the rug (Costco special, although someday I’ll buy a gorgeous vintage rug when I don’t have to worry about kids destroying it), and I love our sofa- down feather- wrapped cushions are dreamy, people. Dreamy. I also adore the parquet floor, which surprises Jensen to no end. It’s real hardwood, and I am enamored with the way it sounds and feels underfoot. We need to get drawbacks for the sheers (Ikea, by the way), but every single time I go to buy them, I forget when I’m shopping. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this!?!?!?!

This is our current toy storage situation. It’s not BAD, but it’s certainly not ideal. I got some really great ideas from readers on Instagram, and  I’m trying to figure out if I want to buy a cubby system or use what I already have and maybe build a simple floating shelf. We also need to refinish the children’s table that we have so we can create an art station. I wanted to keep the kids toys in the family room so that I can keep an eye on them when they’re playing. <No, it’s not this clean during the day, but we clean up toys every night as part of our bedtime routine. See the post here to get more information about how we put our toddler to bed each night.> (Also, peep the bar- I can’t wait to have more parties so I can really utilize this thing!)



I missed putting a pair of little boy’s shoes away… oops. 

There’s only thing I really don’t like in this space- and there’s so much to like, seriously! It’s a large room, it has incredible INCREDIBLE light because of the skylights, the floors, and the sliding glass door (which is okay but we’ll update eventually to French doors… can’t wait…) I hate the fireplace. Some people really like the rock fascia on the fireplace, but it’s just really not my jam. It’s A LOT of rock. Like, an 8 foot corner of rock. And I also prefer to have rooms that are predominately white or light colored, not brown. I think this fireplace just drags the room down. I’ve been doing a lot of Pinterest hunting on this, and have narrowed it down to a few ideas, and I’m drawn to painted white brick or white paneling. (Surprise, surprise) I also want to add a mantle- it needs SOMETHING there to break it up.

Thanks for joining me on this little tour- step by step, this house is coming together!




Joyeux anniversaire

On Saturday, Jensen and I will celebrate six years of marriage. It’s hard to believe that the man I met at college bar nearly twelve years ago, when all we did was drink drink drink….


Is now the same man I have two beautiful children with.


Twelve years is a long time when you’re 33- that’s nearly a third of my life. We dated long distance for six years before we got married and finally lived in the same town. We’ve lost beloved family members, moved multiple times, changed jobs, lived in a place we didn’t like at all, had babies, endured a very stressful pregnancy during which we thought Caroline had some potentially serious health problems, he supported me as I struggled with postpartum anxiety, Jensen completed a strenuous fellowship program our first year of marriage and I finished graduate school during David’s first year. It’s never been easy, not once.


And I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve heard people say that opposites attract, and in some ways, I guess that is true about us. I’m much more of an emoter and Jensen takes longer to share how he feels, for instance. But I believe our core values are very similar, and that’s why we’ve been able to make it through so many challenges. We’re honest with each other, sometimes painfully so. We laugh together, at the same kind of things. We love to explore the world and see new things (we have a shared travel list on our family organizer app!). We value personal growth. He tolerates my desire to watch Anchorman over and over and also my resistance to watching anything but comedies.

Marriage isn’t easy, but it’s good. Some days are harder than others. Some days are really, really fun. Some days you have to clean up puke from your toddler that you caught in your hands… <those aren’t the best kind of days>… and some days you walk 10 miles in London with your partner and find the world’s best paella from a street vendor on Portobello Road or get tickets to seats only twelve rows up from home plate at Yankee Stadium or are lounging on a beach in Cabo San Lucas eating plate after plate of nachos. (I love nachos.) There are going to be highs, and there are going to be lows… are you going to hold each other through each of those?

If I had to share one rule I’ve practiced the past six years, it’s this- treat your partner, and yourself, with respect. We always, always try to be respectful of one another. If you are respectful, you are kind, thoughtful of one another’s wishes and to one another, and admit your mistakes- these things will make your marriage a happy one. I believe it has for us.



I’m about to eat some nachos. Just kidding. Maybe. 


I’m so glad I yelled at Jensen across the Z Club during graduation weekend in 2006. There’s no one in the world I would rather do life with than him.






Better than before

I love second hand furniture.

I’m frugal, I like old stuff, I hate furniture shopping- coincidentally, this is the only kind of shopping I hate- but I either inherit furniture from family members or find it on Craigslist or vintage shops.

I think my best find yet came from Farm Girls Vintage Finds in Bakersfield, California. The owners go on buying trips across the country, because, let’s be honest here, most of the good antiques and vintage come from the east coast, at least in my experience. When I found these chairs, something about me told me to take another look:


They had an interesting shape over the top that I haven’t seen very often, and I love deep armchairs… I like to be able to pull my legs up and cuddle in. When I saw the price tag- $150 for two chairs- I just decided to bite the bullet and get them. We were getting ready to buy our new home and knew we needed more furniture to fill it.

Before I even purchased and picked them up, I knew I’d have to reupholster them, so I went to a local lady and asked her for a quote. When she gave me the price range- between $400-600, depending on the fabric- I knew it would be worth it.  A well made piece of furniture will cost at least this much, if not more, so I felt this was definitely the right decision.

I really, REALLY struggled with picking out the fabric… I wanted something bold, but wasn’t sure if I could live with it. I even put it to a vote on my Instagram stories, and I’m grateful you all helped me pick this fabric.


I cannot tell you how overwhelming selecting fabric can be- when there are literally 23,000 options! I narrowed it down by color and pattern type, and ordered swatches. Admittedly, this added about $30 to the cost AND slowed the process of getting the chairs finished sooner rather than later, but I really needed to see the fabric in person.

I dropped off the fabric- all sixteen yards of it!- to Lori, and waited patiently. We moved across the state in the meanwhile, but thankfully my parents were willing to pick them up for me and bring them to me when they came up to visit.

Sometimes you just need to follow your gut when you make a bold choice, and I’m glad I did. These chairs are amazing. They were worth the wait and every single penny!


My dad said when the upholsterer described the fabric to him, he couldn’t believe I’d picked yellow- but when he saw them in person, he admitted he was wrong. They’re gorgeous, and yes, I’m biased and I love mustard colored anything and I’m a sucker for a bird and floral print, but holy cow. HOLY COW.

I can’t wait to finish the living room and do them justice, but in the meanwhile, I smile everytime I see them. They’re bright and sunshiney and really bold, and I am positively delighted!

I do need to offer a few pointers if you are going to reupholster furniture. This was my first experience, and I had a learning curve!

  • Pick quality furniture. These chairs are solid wood- probably from the 1940’s or 1950’s. They had upholstery tacks on them, which definitely dated them from before the 1960’s. These chairs will outlive me. It’s worth it to invest money in something that will last so long. You’re not going to want to spend this much money on an Ikea couch- I do love me some Ikea finds, but this wasn’t the time or place for it.
  • Pick the right fabric. <Do as I say, not as I do>The fabric I selected is NOT heavy duty fabric, and this will probably be something I regret- kind of. It’s not designed for every day use on furniture- I’ve seen it on drapes and it’s most likely better suited for that. However, these are occasional chairs, so I’m not going to sweat it. I knew this fabric would be an issue, but nothing else spoke to me, so…
  • Don’t be afraid to go bold, especially if the fabric really speaks to you. If you think I’m crazy for saying this, this rule doesn’t apply to you- but if you get me, you know this is right.
  • Find an upholsterer you trust, check their work, and communicate with them. I found Lori through Yelp, she was honest, I loved her work, and her enthusiasm for these chairs was all I needed. She answered my questions honestly, as well. She was great!
  • Get quotes before you start. Obviously.

Have you ever loved a piece of furniture so much you got it recovered? What was your experience? Comment below!

Happy Tuesday!




Instagram Squares & Pinterest Saves



My personal scapegoat. 

Social media can be a beautiful, positive tool. It’s hard to imagine doing anything creative without a little Pinterest scrolling to get our minds flowing, or tapping through Instagram to find some fabulous home before and after’s. A well phrased Google search can find a solution to just about any question you might have. I can spend hours and hours looking for inspiration. My social media home design inspiration board, on both Pinterest and Instagram Collections, is big.


It can, however, hinder us. I see square after square of beautifully designed spaces, and homes that always look clean, and it makes me feel like I’ll just never get there. I’ll never have the money, I’ll never have the talent, I’ll never have the time, I’ll never… you get the drift.

I was starting to feel really discontented last week. And when I say discontented, I was REALLY upset. I started to hate our new house. I started to get really angry at all the little “surprises” that keep on popping up (especially the retaining wall on the side of our house, which, all of a sudden, decided to fail within the first week of us moving in. Repairing this retaining wall is going to prevent a bathroom remodel for at least another year!!!! And we need to remodel THREE bathrooms!!!!!!!!)

I was getting more and more upset, and then I made myself pause. I reminded myself of two truths I know and so easily forget:

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Don’t judge your beginning to someone else’s middle. 

Here’s the thing… I can choose to be angry or I can choose to be content. It really is a choice. Jensen and I worked really hard to get this house- we jumped through a lot of hoops and sacrificed a lot to get to a place we love. It’s not going to be perfect. It’s never going to be perfect! No one has the perfect house, and I do mean, no one. Every home has it’s quirks.

Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere had a thought provoking Instagram post a few weeks back of a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Her caption was talking about how everything in her home is a huge mess because she’s been busy living her life and working so hard and being a mom, but this one corner of the house, with this vase of fresh flowers- it was “killing it.” It was a poignant reminder that we use social media to show the best of us, and, while that’s ok- who doesn’t want to see more beauty?!- we need to ground ourselves and realize that it IS just the highlight reel.

It’s okay to feel the mean reds once in a while. It’s okay to wonder if you’ll ever get to where you want to go, in whatever way that means to you. But please, for your sanity, don’t stay in that space. Use that to fuel your fire, to push yourself to where you want to be. You are capable of so much more than you realize. You’ve made it through every trial you’ve been through before- don’t let social media be the thing that stops you from growing and building and living your best life. That’s right- YOUR best life. It’s your life, and your definition of best is yours alone. You can’t compare pizza to ice cream- they’re both so good, and doing so would be ignoring the great things that each of these foods have. Your life is the same way- don’t deny the beauty and meaning of what you’re creating by comparing it to someone else who is living their journey.

Last Friday, I took a big deep breath, and I made a weekend to do list. It was tangible things I knew Jensen and I could accomplish on Saturday that would help me feel better. We worked really, really hard, and let me tell you- working on that back patio and getting my closet shelving fixed helped change my outlook. I felt like I made progress on what is, unquestionable, a big project. And I felt a whole lot happier.

We’re all just doing our best, friends. Just keep on trying, and keep on making your life beautiful. Enjoy the journey.




Our Hilltop Home Tour- Living Areas

This is part two of the new home tour; if you want to see the bedrooms, click here. The living space in our new home is enormous- we’re gaining almost a thousand square feet- the lot itself is nearly two acres. We wanted our children to grow up raising livestock through 4H, and I also wanted to own horses again. I’ve missed that part of my life so much.

So… anyway, welcome to our new home!

The front door is on our list of things to update, but currently it’s low on our list of priorities. We had originally intended to replace this dated glass window, but learned, upon closer inspection, that it’s actually a false window! We’ll have to have it covered with siding so that it matches. It’s just going to have to wait until we redo the siding in the next few years. We will be repainting the door- color TBD.

The entry way leads into the kitchen <<not pictured, as it was covered with our packing mess as I was trying to get out of town to make it to Easter lunch on time!>>. The lighting fixture will be updated ASAP.

The formal living area is directly off the entry way, and has a fireplace (one of two). We will be updating the fireplace and the mantle in due time. The vertical blinds will be coming down quickly- as mentioned previously, David is very enthralled with them.


The family dining room leads directly off the formal living room and is right next to the kitchen. The ceiling fan will be updated soon.

This room is lovely- so much light! There are skylights and high windows in the ceiling. We are going to use this as our primary gathering space, so anticipate lots of seating and  soft textures.

The dining area is an unexpected bonus- I never expected to have one in a new home, but it will be wonderful to have. I inherited my grandparent’s formal dining set, so it will be a nice addition to our new home to carry on her memory. (The door across the family room leads into the guest suite, just for reference.)  And yes, the chandelier is going to go, ASAP! I already found the replacement on Ikea!

Finally, the pantry. I love LOVE LOVE that the laundry is inside, and I love how much storage is available. We’re going to replace this white wire racks with stainless steel bakers racks.  I think this space can wait for updating, but I have some ideas that will make it really beautiful!

I can’t wait to share the next steps with you!