Making our House a Home

Remember Admiral Ackbar!? He’s back to show you what we’ve been up to with our most recent home renovations. I tackled the last of the wallpaper removal on the bottom floor (apart from the wallpaper in the closets…don’t get me started), which means no more smoke-stained, ivy wallpaper to greet us outside of the bedroom, bathroom and critter room. Hopefully next time you see this space, the wood doors will be painted white, which I think will really help make the tiny hallway look more open.

I chose the blue-grey color we painted our living room to bring into the small hallway to try to carry the color throughout the house. Painting the teensy space between the two doors was not a good time—I prefer to paint an entire bedroom of walls over trim any day. We’re not sure what to do about the light between the two doors…seems very random and pointless, but for now it will stay I suppose.

Another project I can now check off my to-do list is painting a chalkboard door in our kitchen. This project was incredibly easy and brings a lot of personality to the kitchen. I primed the door with some of the previous homeowner’s leftover blue paint in the basement and then gave it three coats of chalkboard paint with a roller. Once it dries, you have to rub chalk on its side on the surface of the door to sort of seal it.

I figured we could use the door to jot down our weekly menu or grocery lists (or to just write nerdy notes to each other). This way we can avoid the inevitable “What do you want to have for dinner? I don’t know, what do you want for dinner?” ten minute, back-and-forth conversation.

I painted the back of the door so we have more room for doodling and staying organized, but I managed to rip part of the paint off by pressing too hard with the chalk (thus the “uh oh”). So for anyone else who wants to try this at home, I suggest being pretty delicate when writing on the chalkboard surface instead of attacking it with the sharpest end of the chalk. Lesson learned!

Hopefully next time I write a home renovation post, it will be about removing the wallpaper in the upstairs portion of our home (I need to get motivated, stat)!

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Before & After: A $10 Seashell Cross Stitched Table

You might remember me talking about this cross-stitched table I bought at ReStore a couple of weeks ago for $10. The seashell look isn’t for me, so I planned on painting it white to match the table in our sunroom and replacing the stitched piece. At first I thought an old page from my grandfather’s Animal Encyclopedia might look cool, but the pages ended up being too small to fit inside the framed area. Instead, I decided to rip out a page from my American Illustration book, where a painting by one of my favorite artists, Jason Holley, jumped out at me. I’ve always loved this illustration and thought it would mesh well with the look of the sunroom.

Here’s a before and after shot of the new side table, which goes well with the bunny pillow less than a foot away. Sorry Pete, but I love me some bunnies.

Speaking of bunnies, ours definitely dig the table revamp, I made sure to get their final approval.

Our chinchilla Maude didn’t really care for the bunny side table revamp (she’s more of a seashell girl), even after I gave her a few scritches to try to win her over.

Overall, this project was incredibly fast to tackle (thank god for spray paint), affordable and it gives our sunroom a bit more personality.

What are some simple DIY projects you’ve attempted lately?

When Yard Work Takes Over

Since becoming homeowners in May, yard work has become the bane of my existence—I’d much rather paint a ceiling or remove smoke-stained bunny wallpaper any day. Luckily for me, Pete is an outdoorsy type who enjoys mowing the lawn and weed whacking. The thought of working outdoors in 95 degree heat with our neighbors getting a lovely view of my weeder’s crack (note to self: wear a belt next time) and sweaty upper lip is not my idea of an enjoyable weekend afternoon. That being said, I’m very grateful to have a partner in crime who tolerates my screaming and flailing when I inevitably mistake a caterpillar for a small garden snake during my hallucinating-in-the-heat breaking point.

I understand that a yard is a reflection of the people inside and an extension of their home, but sometimes I just want to ignore our curb appeal and enjoy the comfort of our A/C. Unfortunately, our yard has been looking so frightening lately that we mildly resemble the Klopek’s house from The Burbs. The front of our house and our brick path has practically disappeared since being taken over by weeds. There’s something about being sweaty, smelly, aching and totally covered in bug bites that makes you feel accomplished at the end of the day…but I still prefer paint in my hair or spackle under my nails if given a choice.

On Saturday, we decided to attempt to tackle weeding our brick path in just a few hours before our friends were scheduled to visit. What I thought would be about a two hour ordeal ended up taking at least six hours between Saturday and Sunday. The weeds were underneath the bricks entirely, so each and every brick had to be lifted and replaced. Once the weeds were cleared, the gaps between the bricks were a lot larger, so the spacing was totally off. I tackled the main path on my own while Pete mowed the lawn and put his new weed whacker to use. I realized I should have used a guide to keep the path straight, since now it looks absolutely wibble-wobbly. Pete bought a bag of sand to help fill in the spaces, but we soon realized we underestimated how much sand we needed, so the cracks still need to be filled in for the most part. I plan on re-laying my part of the path since the gaps are too large and the sides aren’t straight, but I’m going to save that for a cool autumn day. I am pretty embarrassed by the wavy lines since I’m a total perfectionist, but I’m going to try to not let it bother me until the heat wave dissipates.

Pete was much more skilled when laying down the other part of the path. I helped pull out bricks and weeded underneath while he meticulously smoothed the dirt and made sure everything was straight. He even chiseled custom-sized bricks since we needed a few half pieces toward the end of the path. I weeded near our hedges and what is left of our flowers while he finished up. The lesson learned after the past two days is that we should tackle yard work bit by bit instead of putting it off after a few weeks. I suppose that’s what happens when you spend an entire weekend laying a black and white checkerboard floor or cleaning out a strange concrete circle of weeds—which we have decided is perfect for either sacrificing goats or adding a fire pit.

Pete’s mom stopped by today with two huge bags full of fresh produce from the co-op his parents belong to. I am really looking forward to trying out some new recipes, since a lot of these items are new to us (dandelion greens, chard, kohlrabi). We are having a small barbecue this weekend with some of Pete’s friends, so I’m thinking of tackling potato salad, guacamole, grilled veggies and cucumber salad. Any other ideas of how to make the best out of 8 lbs. of tomatoes for some BBQ food?

Speaking of food, Veronika and Bryan came over this weekend and spoiled us with some amazing home-cooked treats. They set up a photo shoot scene in our back yard because the talented Amber of Live it out Photography was itchin’ to shoot the handsome couple. Veronika’s attention to detail in styling is amazing, whether she’s whipping up a rustic boutonniere or mastering beehive hair, she never ceases to impress me with her creativity. I’m really looking forward to seeing Amber’s photos and think it’s pretty exciting that our backyard will be making an appearance!

A freshly-groomed Betty White wishes you guys a happy August—we have a lot to look forward to this month and are excited to share our latest happenings with everyone.

Before & After: Revamping the Kitchen Floor

This weekend was spent making over our kitchen floor, which as you can see, started off pretty grim when we moved in a little over a month ago. The old floor tile felt dirty on our feet and no matter how many times we mopped it, it still remained a lovely shade of stained, yellow-ish blue. Not cute. We decided to shop around for affordable peel and stick, vinyl tiles in black and white. We were surprised when we found out both Home Depot and Lowe’s did not sell simple black and white, vinyl stick-on tiles. I called several tile distributors in the area and got a lot of “Ha, are you serious? I haven’t seen a checkerboard floor since the 80’s” responses. Uhh, obviously these people don’t browse Pinterest on a regular basis.

I ended up finding a wholesale tile distributor in New Jersey called Mazer Wholesale, where they sell packs of 20 white or black tiles for $7/piece with a 5-year warranty. Yes, please! We were able to give our floors a new look for under $100 in just one weekend, so I think it was definitely worth it. The tiles arrived just two days after my order was placed, so I couldn’t have been more happy with the shopping experience. Plus, the owner even posted a black & white checkerboard tutorial video on YouTube explaining how to install the tiles easily. I have a feeling we’ll be ordering more tiles from them to give our bathrooms a quick floor fix as well.

Anyway, back to the old floors! This is what our kitchen looked like when we had our initial walk through of the home.

Here’s how the floors look now, with our bright blue walls and IKEA storage area. I really like peeking out to our other rooms and seeing the transition of colors. I definitely think the downstairs feels a lot more like “us” now. I am excited to do the same to our upstairs, which for the most part, hasn’t been touched since we moved in (eep!).

The first thing we did was decide how we wanted to install the tiles on our floor. We were trying to figure out if we wanted to lay them diagonally or straight. We ended up choosing the diagonal route (left), which took a lot longer than it would have if we were working with straight lines, but I think it makes the room look wider. We began laying the tiles from the front, righthand corner and placed all of the whole tiles.

Once we finished sticking all of the whole pieces to the floor, we had to start cutting out patterns to place the pieces which were touching the walls. It was incredibly difficult to cut pieces around vents, quarter round and door frames, but with some patience were were able to knock it out by Sunday afternoon. We both definitely had our fair share of dramatically flopping on the floor out of pure exhaustion and having sticky finger syndrome for 48 hours, but it wasn’t anything Goo Gone couldn’t help fix.

Our vents were the most frightening shade of brown I had ever seen (sorry for the lack of a “before” photo), so I sprayed them with black RustOleum. It’s surprising how much of a difference the black vents make in the room—everything looks a lot more clean and polished now.

Here’s a view from our dining room, where you can see one example of the flashing (is that what it’s called?) in the doorway, which Pete replaced throughout the kitchen and mudroom.

I really like the retro vibe of the kitchen and although it still needs some TLC (painting the door white, touching up the white in the mudroom, hanging airy curtains), I think it suits our personalities perfectly. Speaking of personalities, I am so happy that I am spending my life with this boyfriend of mine. We went through crazy mood swings together during these two days, which consisted of excited-exhausted-delirious-hot-and-bothered-starving-hopeful-proud-and-smelly. There’s nothing I enjoy more than singing songs together and inserting the words “Betty White” or “schloops.” We are both absolutely nutty and I couldn’t be more ecstatic to share our quirkiness together.

That being said, I felt awful that Pete has to tolerate my obsessive, perfectionist tendencies. I’m a crazy person and insisted that we have the tiles line up perfectly where the kitchen meets the mudroom. Luckily for the ginger, I assigned myself to a large majority of the painfully difficult tiles, which resulted in a lot of grunting, throwing parchment paper pattern balls and occasional swearing on my part. The worst was trying to place tiles underneath the incredibly heavy oven, which cannot be moved out of the way due to its awkward placement. Runner up for the worst was trying to get tiles behind the fridge without cracking the tiles we had already placed in front of it.

Here’s a view of our mudroom, which now has brand spanking new cove moulding at the bottom. This is one of the many rooms on our neverending to-do list which needs major lovin’. The creepy door leading to nowhere looks like someone from a horror movie clawed at the trim for days. I definitely need to sand the window and door frames and give everything a nice coat of white paint, not to mention toss the previous owner’s little tree car freshener. Baby steps.

All in all, I think this is one of those budget-friendly projects which can really makeover the entire look of a room in just a day or two. Plus, we’ve come pretty darn close to resembling the inspiration photo I “pinned” on Pinterest (one of my new favorite websites!) a while back:

Has anyone else ever tackled a quick, affordable, DIY floor makeover? If so, how did it go (comment with photos if you have them!)?

Patio Sets, Sunrooms & Seals!

Like total procrastinators, Pete and I recently began our search for a patio set, since barbecue season is here and we have nowhere to seat potential guests. His mom and I went looking for a set which he would approve of (the boy is surprisingly picky) and didn’t have much luck. Since it’s so late in the season, most stores only had a few options to choose from, if anything at all, so I began my search at IKEA.

I made my way to the South Philadelphia location, where I was able to snag the Ransby table on major sale for $99 and the last two matching chairs for $40 a piece. I was able to find four more chairs to complete the set at the Conshohocken IKEA location, where the same chairs were priced at $70 a piece. Lame. I asked the employee if she’d be willing to match the Philadelphia store price and she scoffed at me. A girl’s gotta try. Seriously though, when did chairs get so expensive? I’ve been scouring thrift stores to see if I could find any wooden chairs to revamp without having to dish out a fortune, but no such luck.

You might have caught a glimpse of the concrete death pool in the shot of our new patio table. Remember what it looked like when we moved in? Terrifying. Since these photos were taken, the circle had filled up with high weeds overflowing onto our concrete patio.

I made it my mission last Sunday to clear out the weeds and take out all of the stones so I could place them in a more organized fashion. Now Pete and I are at a standstill with the new and slightly improved concrete death pool. Should we wait until we can garden some fresh herbs/flowers or save those for our fenced in garden? We could rig some sort of fire pit situation I suppose, but I’m not sure how we’d go about that without it looking sort of awkward with dirt underneath. It doesn’t help that the circle wasn’t cut with the best craftsmanship, but at least it’s a bit cleared out now. If anyone has any clever ideas on how to make it look nice, I’m all ears!

While in Conshohocken, I paid a visit to Impact Thrift Stores, where I have had the most luck with vintage finds in the past. “Bric a Brac” was 25% off, so I went there in an attempt to find glass pitchers for future summer barbecue festivities (I’m dying to try out some sangria recipes). While browsing knick knacks, I walked down an aisle of artwork and gasped/flailed/squealed. My heart pitter pattered when I saw a signed Charley Harper serigraph print from 1975 on the wall. Charley Harper is my all-time favorite artist, so to find one of his serigraphs signed at a local thrift store, seemed a bit like fate. I looked at the price tag. $175. All of the other artwork on the walls was priced from $3 to $30, so the store knew they stumbled upon a treasure. I carefully plucked the print from the wall and brought it with me as I sat on a hideous, olive green and pink floral couch from the 70’s.

As a gal on an unemployment/freelance budget, I am very careful with my savings. I’m comfortable spending $5 on a glass pitcher, but to spend over $50 on a print on a day other than my birthday, seems a bit selfish to me. After fifteen minutes of mulling, I began browsing Charley Harper signed serigraphs on my iPhone and discovered that the print was going for $350 (unframed). With the 25% discount, I would be spending $130. I decided to make the splurge and rationalized my purchase by telling myself that I would sell something back home to replace my wedding photography savings (keep an eye out for a wedding dress for sale post soon!).

Now that we have a much-loved Charley Harper print to keep us company in the kitchen, I am much more enthusiastic about spending time in there. I decided to make black bean burgers for Pete and I, which I’ll be posting the recipe and directions for later. I’m on a vegetable and fruit-infused water kick now that we have pitchers, which has been incredibly refreshing in this painfully hot weather.

Above on the left is a “before” shot of a table I purchased for $10 at ReStore (I kept the price sticker on it to give it an unflattering “before” look). I plan on spray painting the table and replacing the cross-stitched seashell linen with an old page from my grandfather’s Animal Encyclopedia. The white table above is part of the furniture set we inherited from the previous homeowner. I gave it a fresh coat of white paint with the intention of keeping it upstairs with the rest of the pieces, but decided the guest bedroom was too crowded with furniture and brought it to the previously bare sunroom. When our patio chairs aren’t outside for shindigs, we’ll keep them safely indoors in our sunroom…we certainly don’t want anyone stealing our overpriced IKEA chairs (can you tell I’m bitter that the Conshohocken location charged nearly double for the same chair sold in Philadelphia?).

Here’s where I’d like some reader input—do you think I should spray paint the white table a color (like a deep blue teal) or keep the white on white look? I plan to spray paint the mini end table to match, so I need to make a decision to begin the makeover process. The other treasures in the sunroom include a huge Charley Harper book, a mosaic owl from HomeGoods and a vintage tea towel from 1978 with a vibrant bird print.

I figured my grandfather’s old bird paintings would mesh well with the overall theme in the room, which is tied together with the nature-inspired Gislev rug by IKEA (yay to scoring a large rug for under $15!). Even though the Julie Rothman rabbit pillow always manages to poke me with its sharp feathers, I still heart it.

Betty White and I don’t spend much time in the sunroom lately since it is scorching out there, but we look forward to the days when we can people watch with a cool drink in our hands (lets just pretend she has hands for a moment, please). It really is the little things that make a house a home.

Kitchen: Before & Progress

This past weekend was spent making over our kitchen, which was much-needed to say the least. My parents and grandma visited from Delaware, which was a nice break. My dad power washed outside while Pete tested out his new battery-powered weed wacker (which he has since returned). My mom and I worked on removing the last of the bunny wallpaper, patching and sanding the ceiling and priming everything. Pete and I decided to paint the kitchen Martha Stewart’s Lagoon color, which matches a lot of our kitchen accessories.

In case you need a refresher of what the kitchen looked like a month ago, here are photos from the initial walk through of the house. The wallpaper which was once bright white had turned an unfortunate shade of brown. The same can be said for all of the ceilings throughout the house, which have been taking at least three coats of paint to cover on average.

We have plans to get a new sink unit and vinyl, black and white checkered floor tiles once things settle down a bit for us. I am in the job hunting process and Pete just accepted a brand spankin’ new job, so we are going to wait a wee bit before we make any purchases for the moment.

The light fixtures in the kitchen made me cringe even more than the floor, which always looks dirty no matter how much you mop it. Luckily Pete has picked up on the handyman thing very quickly, so he has been tackling a lot of electrical projects throughout the house, including simple light fixture installations.

Here’s a glimpse of the kitchen right before we moved in—filled with painting supplies and tools galore.

Notice the wires popping out of the wall from a hideous light fixture which was underneath the cabinets. We ripped it out and Pete replaced it with a much more updated version.

Here’s one of the most unfortunate, unflattering photos ever taken. You’re welcome. This is what I look like after sanding a recently spackled ceiling. And yes, I am wearing glasses under my safety glasses.

My parents brought their dog Whiskey, who took a nap on my grandma’s shoe while she took a nap. It was definitely a priceless sight.

Here’s the kitchen in all of its patched/painted glory. I know it’s only in progress, but I think the pop of color really makes a difference in the mood of the room. The updated light fixtures seem to make an impact as well…thank god for no more florescent lighting.

The door to the mudroom was incredibly scratched, chipping and yellowed, but two fresh coats of paint made it look a lot better. We’ll eventually paint all of the doors throughout the house (we are on a budget, people!) and probably swap out the hardware for something more modern.

Pete’s sister gifted us this adorable, mosaic owl from HomeGoods, which I fell in love with instantly. Yesterday my friend Cubby came to visit and she gave me the mama version of the owl as a belated birthday gift. People sure do know how to make my owl-lovin’ self smile. The chalkboard calendar was from Shauna and Stephen of Something’s Hiding in Here as a thank you for drawing a portrait of their cute pooches for them.

Here’s a peek at some of our kitchen gadgets, which were a gift from my friend Susan a few years ago. I especially love the little veg-hog veggie brush. The “how to eat a lobster” serving tray was a find at one of my favorite thrift stores in the area, Impact.

This is our bird hook for hanging Betty White’s leash, our keys and any other randomness.

I’m hoping to be able to add more photo booth pictures to our fridge after we go to the shore in a couple of weeks with Pete’s family. It’s the little things that make me happy.

This Grandma Was a Cowboy painting is by Jason Sho Green, one of my favorite artists whose exhibition I visited at Art Star a few years back.

Quirky aprons, linens and pot holders are just the thing to cheer up a previously dreary kitchen. The apron and potholders were a gift from my brother and lovely sister-in-law this past Christmas. The tea towel below was from our friend Valerie, who shares an appreciation for all things embroidered. I’m so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends who know our style so well. I really love looking around a room and thinking of someone when I see a certain object.

Like this teapot, which was given to me by the always stylish Cubby…I like how the cherry red contrasts with the blueish green tint of the room.

Betty White approves of the new lighting since she can see the crumbs on the floor a lot better now.

Speaking of crumbs, she was dying for a Beggin’ Strip while I was taking photos, so I had to oblige. This is her smug, I-knew-I-could-get-a-treat-out-of-you-if-I-flashed-my-puppy-eyes stare. I’m such a sucker.

Anyway, this is our kitchen progress so far! We are trying to make major impact changes without putting a dent in our wallets, which is really making the place start to feel like home. What little changes did you make to your home to make it your own when you first moved in?

One Month Later: All Moved In

Supposedly two of the most stressful events in a person’s life are becoming unemployed and moving. I’ve had to deal with both of those situations within the past week and I’ve managed to come out of the experience pain-free (minus some shin bruises and paint in my hair). Last week I was told I would have to be let go at the magazine due to some changes relating to funding and management. I took this as a sign to hunt down the perfect job for my creativity and talents, somewhere I can learn from a group of peers who will inspire me to be better every single day. Luckily I have unemployment money coming in to hold me over, along with freelance photography and blogging work on the side. Despite the stress of moving into a new home and having to be creative with an entirely different budget, I am actually incredibly excited for this opportunity. I plan to challenge myself to find something where I can truly grow and allow myself to try new things.

A month has passed since Pete and I purchased our home together and we are finally settled in. We spent this past weekend moving in our belongings, with the help of Pete’s family who were sports for dealing with our massive amount of stuff. During my recent stint of unemployment, I spent the week before our move-in painting ceilings, trim and walls to make sure our first floor was live-able. We packed up nearly the entire contents of our apartment in one day, so needless to say, we started this weekend off completely exhausted and ready for a nap. Unfortunately, Pete and I are pretty obsessive about unpacking things before we kick our shoes off to relax. Today is the first day I’ve had a chance to just sit for an extended period of time, and despite feeling a bit lazy, I have to say it’s pretty darn nice. Our to-do list remains never-ending, but I thought it might be swell to share our progress with you so far. We are pretty proud with the achievements we’ve made in only a month and I look forward to tackling many more house projects with Pete in years to come. This weekend we will be removing the rest of the wallpaper in the kitchen, patching, prepping and painting the ceiling and walls.

I’m so lucky to have such a supportive boyfriend and family, I can’t thank you guys enough for all of your help over the past month with everything. It’s also really amazing having a second family just around the corner…I definitely owe Pete’s family a coupon for one month of free manual labor, especially now that I’m unemployed. Anyway, I can’t wait to share our future projects with you guys, but until then, here’s what we’ve been up to lately.

Betty White approves our new rust-colored rug, which has been unbelievably comfortable to rub our feet on after a long day of working on the house.

Here’s a look at our sunroom at the moment. Up until yesterday, it was filled to the brim with boxes and yard tools, but at least now the boxes have been unpacked and recycled. Eventually we’ll get patio furniture and all sorts of pretty stuff to fill this room with, but for now we’re just going to toss some beach chairs and garden tools around and hope no one judges us too much.

The sunroom door leads to our living room, which holds our new IKEA Karlstad sofa in Isunda Gray, courtesy of my way-too-nice parents who spoiled us with a new couch for our housewarming gift. They also surprised us with ceiling fans, which Pete managed to install on his own and impress me with his man skills. Another thing you may notice about this room is how shiny and new the floors look! Pete’s parents were super kind and chipped in for us to have the hardwood floors refinished as their gift to us…we really think it makes an incredible difference! Don’t forget to look at our last round of before & after shots as a reminder of what things looked like up until now. The white fireplace and trim really make the walls (and Betty White) pop. Speaking of walls, we had thought we selected a medium gray color for the room, until we actually ended up painting and discovered we had ourselves more of a blue tone. This just goes to show that purchasing paint samples is worth it if you’re a stickler for perfection, but we think it actually works out well in complementing the orange rug.

Painting the wooden door, windows and trim white was one of the most time consuming things, but definitely well worth it in the end. Betty White agrees, despite making her disgruntled “why are you using flash so early in the morning?” face.

We plan to get a floating shelf to put above the couch, which will have framed artwork and knick knacks resting on it, but until then we just have a lonely astronaut painting by one of Pete’s favorite artists, Scott C. You will also notice during this tour that we are lacking in curtains and decorative pillows, which will be resolved once we have some more savings for emergencies, such as one of us having to go on unemployment (ahem).

Pete gifted me these beautiful pop-up books by Robert Sabuda last Christmas and they remain to be one of my prized possessions. Robert came to my illustration class in college to teach us his ways, so it is extra special to have his work on display in the house.

The dining room area consists of a table I revamped with vintage family photos, along with a gossip bench and cabinet I refurbished.

I really like these framed prints by Berkley Illustrations above the thrifted globe and camera finds. Our BFF Laura Kicey created the colorful architectural composite above the owl chess set, which matches the chartreuse, yellow and purple tones in the room wonderfully. We have her work throughout the house, as we like to think of ourselves as two of her biggest fans, evah!

The bay window area with natural wood is one of my go-to spots throughout the house. It’s really nice to unwind and catch up on emails while listening to the birds chirp and cars drive by outside. The framed piece by Jeff Soto above the gossip bench is one of my favorites because of its sense of nostalgia and pop surrealism, with a little bit of robot love thrown in.

Sadly, the kitchen has been neglected during this entire process, but we will give it some much-needed TLC soon. The walls are half wallpaper-removed, half in need of major patching and repair, so it’s definitely a big project that will easily eat up an entire weekend. Our plans are to paint the walls a deep teal-blue and utilize black and white checkered vinyl tiles in addition to swapping out the sink for a birch and stainless steel, free-standing model from IKEA. We plan to remodel the kitchen as our first major project, but for now we are just making it work with our modest budget and some elbow grease. Ew. Whoever came up with that term needs to rethink that one.

There was an enormous amount of kitchen storage in our previous apartment, so we had to be creative when trying to make room for odds and ends in our new, much smaller space. We used this bookshelf by ikea to store things like tupperware, dish towels, random appliances and our treasured copies of Everyday Food.

Here’s a glimpse into our office/critter room, which is under construction for the time being. Pete was kind enough to treat me to a sweet drawing desk with a light box from IKEA for my birthday, which can barely be seen in these photos. Unfortunately, the desk legs aren’t back in stock yet, so my office area is kind of in shambles while we wait. I am so excited to start using the desk, it will definitely take me back to my days of making carbon copies of Ariel and my other favorite Disney characters.

This room is an especially difficult one to photograph, so bear with the terrible angles in this one. We’re not really set on the positioning of most of the artwork in this room, but I figured once the desk is assembled we’ll have a better idea of where we want to hang certain pieces. Willie Nelson, Cadbury, Maude and Applesauce are all pretty pleased with their new digs and window views.

Willie Nelson may look like he doesn’t approve of the new house, but I think he’s just putting on his game face. Don’t sass him, he is a feisty one (not really, he’s a big poof ball of cuddles).

Meanwhile, Betty White attempts to eat her foot off on our new horseradish quilt by West Elm and patterned sheets from Target.

The closet space in the bedroom is pretty much non-existant (you can’t even fit the width of a standard hanger in it), which is why we had to be creative once again about figuring out storage for our clothing. Thank goodness for IKEA’s green storage bins, which we had an abundance of in our apartment. Plus, this way we have an opportunity to showcase our knick knacks. Pete thinks the owls are way too cluttered in there, so we might end up shifting them to a floating shelf elsewhere, but for now they can keep us company when we go to sleep. One of my favorite owls is the one my brother gave me after his theater company toured in France. The owl actually opens up, so I suppose I could stash drugs in him, but Fun Dip sounds like a much more enjoyable option.

Betty White was begging for pets and flashing her Britney during these photos, so please don’t be too appalled by her exposed lady bits. She doesn’t know any better, honest. The lamp and dresser were inherited from my grandparents, which is the case with many of our knick knacks and artwork throughout the house. I really like mixing vintage pieces that have a lot of heart to them with more simplistic, modern styles. Laura Kicey’s contemporary construct photography matched the grey and yellow tones of the room, which made me happily flail because I was itching for some artwork above our bed. What looked like a light gray on the paint swatch has turned out to appear quite mauve on the walls at times, but we’re okay with it. We actually ended up purchasing a very pale gray for the walls, only to test it out and realize that it looked pretty much white. I decided to paint the ceiling, windows and trim with the nearly-white gray instead, to keep the room looking muted and serene. Lesson learned: stop being lazy and invest in some gosh darn paint samples!

The new bedding is really comfy and definitely makes it harder for us to get out of bed in the mornings. Betty White has deemed it her own, and is often seen flashing her pink “area” to innocent passersby.

I forgive her though, because she keeps me company while I listen to This American Life podcasts and wear pajamas until mid afternoon on days like this.

All in all, it’s been a pretty exhausting week, but I look forward to all of the change to come in the next few months. Be sure to stop by again soon for more progress shots and updates on my editorial/creative job hunt!