I’ve told you I’ve moved but I never did a farewell post to my first house. This house means a lot to me, even though it also drove me crazy at times. My husband bought this house when he was still my boyfriend, I was in college and had just finished chemotherapy. He bought it in 2006, I moved in during the fall of 2007 the day after our wedding, and we moved out just before Christmas in 2014. I lived in this house when there was no kitchen, when we had no bathroom doors and had to cross those delicate boundaries, through cars that drove into the yard and into trees (but thankfully never the house), through getting our first dog, through a break in, and through our learning curve as DIYers.
This house was built in the early 1940s by my husband’s great aunt and uncle. My husband bought it from his great aunt before she died, and now another family member has bought it from us. Because it stayed in the family, we were able to have a simple transaction and the family member was very flexible while we had our infinite house hunting process. Additionally, the relative assured us he wanted to change things like paint colors so he didn’t require us to touch up before we moved. Nice guy, huh? So while I’m not proud of how every room looks here, I can tell you that there’s now a Blues shrine in the space we used as the office and that room seems to get a lot of love. Here’s a shot of the room before we moved in and when we moved out.
And again with the dining room
Here’s a glance at the living room:
The bathroom ended up changing places in the house, hence the major redesign. Here’s what we started with:
And here’s what we ended with:
We had a can of paint ready to go for this room and thankfully the new homeowner has already painted it in a color of his choice. This room was our test room for yellow and we ended up finding the perfect color and putting it in the kitchen. This picture is the last trace of our failed experiments.
That kitchen was really my favorite part of the house. It came out looking so good and while I love my new one, there’s a sense of pride that comes from planning and designing a space of your own.
I’m leaving out the bedrooms and some older exterior shots on this tour to protect our privacy and the new homeowner’s as well. I always thought this house had so much potential and while we found some of it, I know that the new owner will find even more.
The last time I showed off the third floor it was from the week I moved in. Immediately my husband and I had a goal for this floor. We wanted a place to relax after work, to put the job behind us, and to have our own urban oasis.
It was December when we moved in and before the end of the month we ordered a couch and coffee table. We wanted a sectional and while we checked places like Crate & Barrel and West Elm, we didn’t find the style or price point we wanted. We were about to give up after a C&B trip when on our way to dinner we passed IO Metro. I didn’t think I could afford what was in the window display but upon walking in I found a lot of things I liked. Even better, when the assistant heard my husband and I discussing some styles she helpfully let us know we could see even bigger markdowns at an end of the year sale. By the next week we knew what we wanted and placed an order.
Here’s what it’s looking like now:
The space is finally starting to work for us. We have a TV up here so we can easily binge Netflix while having a cocktail or a beer. We did some small upgrades to our HVAC system so we kept cool this summer. We still need to do some insulation work on this floor of the house so we are holding off on repainting any of it until we know what the damage to the room might be.
And here’s some of those pretty little details:
This space also nicely doubles as a workout space. I can just move the coffee table and do my Wii Fit or some video workouts right in front of the TV. I want to make the closet space on this floor more functional so I can store some small weights or equipment as well as games or other entertainment for when we have guests over.
I’m thinking for fall I will swap out the blue pillows with some orange ones and maybe add some new cozy throws to the space since I know this past winter we camped out here quite regularly. I know I’ll also want a floor lamp since I’ve been known to cross-stitch or read up here. I’m still on the hunt for something that might have that industrial modern vibe but is easy to access without having to stand up from where my butt is firmly plopped. The hunt continues but if you’ve seen something let me know!
- Sectional: IO Metro Bree Sectional
- Coffee Table: IO Metro Cohle Coffee Table
- TV Stand: Pottery Barn Rhys Large TV stand (discontinued)
- Rug: Ballard Designs Tabitha Rug
- Floral Pillows: World Market Emma Throw Pillows
- Blue/Yellow Pillows: Target’s Room Essentials 2-pack Suede Pillows
- Oversized Gray Pillows: Target (appears to be unavailable online)
- Kitchen Cabinet pulls: Liberty 3-in arched pulls
I mentioned before that I was looking for a way to turn my little dining area into some sort of drink bar. In February I was expecting some friends over for Galentine’s Day Brunch so it was a perfect time to set up the drink area.
I bought an older model Keurig for the area and stocked up on a few K-cups. In winter I’m definitely more of a hot coffee and cocoa drinker so I wanted to have some warm options.
I bought some cute mini spoons and a creamer from World Market, something to hold sweeteners from Target, a sugar dispenser from even before my time, a mason jar leftover from a batch of salsa, a sweets jar from Pier 1 and corralled it all on a tray from Ikea.
In the cabinets up above I keep some of the good stuff. You can see my Anthropologie mugs (gold available around Christmas), my every day mugs, some travel mugs, and a much nicer tea set for company. I have a few more sets still packed up. I also keep some tea and cocoa up here (and more cocoa in the cookie jar).
Kcups go in the drawer now that I have some handles on them. It makes it so much easier to open!
I also wanted to share a bit of my themed party for Galentine’s Day that I had. Galentine’s is a beloved day in the world of Parks & Rec and I wanted to honor it and some of my closest friends. The girls drove all the way across the river to come see my new house, drink some of that coffee/tea/cocoa or one of the endless mimosa combinations, and eat some skillet potatoes, a pancake bar, mini quiches, and croissants.
I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could so I only took some photos before and none during. Sometimes you just have to put the camera down and enjoy the moment! (And the mimosas)
There’s one room in the first floor I didn’t give you much of a chance to see– the pantry. When we first toured the house the pantry was a mess and I was convinced I wouldn’t have the same problem.
The one on the left is from the old owners and the one on the right is two days after I moved in. Try as I might I could not unpack my last 4 boxes of food. It made making dinner difficult when I couldn’t find most items and I’ll admit I was looking for an excuse to try some of the new neighborhood restaurants. After trying a Thai place, a hot dog place, a diner, and getting a little sick of food out I knew I had to address this problem sooner than later.
The pantry is about 8 feet tall and only had 3 shelves. The shelves were sagging and when we took them out of the wall it turned out most weren’t even anchored correctly. It was a disaster waiting to happen.
I had been waiting for the big Elfa sale that the Container Store holds each January. You get 30% off all Elfa parts including installation if you aren’t a DIY kind of person. I was hesitant to buy a system like Elfa when I thought just one or two parts might work and we could custom build something but I figured we needed to start cooking ASAP and this was supposed to be a quick process.
My husband and I got to the Container Store nice and early and got the last spot before having to wait in a queue. Show up with dimensions of everything, from height to width to the depth of your doorframe. The associate helping us did a quick glance at the measurements and then walked us to some displays to talk about our likes and our needs. My top priority involved spice racks, shelving, and dog food storage. My husband wanted to make sure he could find what the recipes I leave him call for and wanted the platinum shelving over the white. After saying yay or nay to certain details, the associate told us to browse the store while she spent 20 or so minutes making a design. When she finished, she found us and had us look it over. This is usually the point where you can make changes but we were sold on the design. She double checked wood colors with us but it was so on target that we were able to hand over our credit card immediately.
There’s a lot of perks going through the Container Store for your design. One is that they assemble all the items you need for the install and you can pick them up same day or at a later date. We had enough time to go grab lunch and when we came back they walked everything to our car in bags and wrapped up. The other perk is that your Container Store account logs everything you bought, the design made for you, video tutorials, and even the custom instructions for install in case you lose your other set.
Here’s the sketches our designer was able to create for us:
Installation was really easy. I think we drilled in about 10-15 total holes and everything just hangs from the top racks. Here’s the completed look:
Here’s another look without any food in it
There’s still some adjusting I plan to do. The glass storage containers used to be on the counter or in my lazy susan and now all the labels can’t be seen in the pantry. I plan to swap in some different containers as I find items on sale or as the old containers run out. I also might still adjust what I store on the shelf above the dog food storage since it can fit my Kitchenaid mixer in there and that might be a better use of the space. While I figure out those little details, I can keep appreciating the details of the new look.
The shelves have plastic on top of them so nothing can fall through and so I can quickly clean the shelves if something spills.
Those shelves on either side hold soooo much. The ones on the left fit tall bottles or wider containers and the ones on the right hold all those spices I have and the skinny bottles for cooking.
And those drawers, man I wasn’t sure about them. I thought they might not hold enough but I was surprised. You can customize the size of your drawer so in my setup you see a 1-drawer at the top, 3 of the 2-drawers, and on the bottom is a 3-drawer. The top one holds kitchen rags and towels, the next one can fit boxes of rice, breadcrumbs, and chicken broths. The next one holds all our snack foods like applesauce and granola bars while the one below holds all my baking supplies. The bottom one fits all the trash bags, napkins, and paper towels. There’s also enough space between the drawers and the wall that we can fit a step ladder so we can reach all the things tucked at the top like crackers and my cake carrying cases.
Right now I’m trying to budget one expense a month to making over the house and the Elfa pantry was our January project. December’s expense was a sectional that should be arriving any day now, hopefully before I finish the tour. Now that it’s February I’m trying to figure out what to prioritize. Do I get a rug and chair to finish off the third floor? Do I build some shelves and finish off 3 of the bathrooms? I’m really itching to have some part of the house complete so it’ll likely be one of those two options but if there’s a sale somewhere all bets are off.
My new house is located in the Tower Grove East neighborhood of St. Louis City. I didn’t even know about the neighborhood until late 2013/early 2014 when I started scouting future neighborhoods. I’ll include a neighborhood description in a later post, preferably after it gets warmer and I can start taking longer walks.
The new house is 3 stories tall and was built in 1899 as a 2-family home. I’ve been compiling a house history too so expect a history lesson at some point too. In 2012 it was combined into a single family home. We bought it from the buyers who took it over after that renovation was complete.
Since the house is a little overwhelming, I want to break down some of the house tour by floor. It’s easy to get lost in the layout so here’s the basic map of the first floor:
It’s a long and skinny room that’s wide open. I tend to hate open floor plans and when I first walked into this house back in July (5 months before we closed but yet another story for another day) I remember saying “Why did we pick this house again?” which was a little harsh. This house is pretty cool on the first floor but every floor just gets cooler. It just so happens that the first floor is super intimidating from a decorating standpoint. I have many ideas and yet none at all. If you have ideas as you look through the pictures, please oh please scream them out.
This is a shot from the front end of the house looking straight to the back.
And now looking from the back door to the front entry. There’s a lot of square footage in between so I’ll show you some of that too.
One of the coolest things in the living room is the fireplace. This is the best maintained one in the home and one of the best I saw in all my house hunting. That cool design on the front of it is hand painted and all of this tile is original. I’m fairly certain the exterior color scheme is based around the colors here.
The kitchen is bigger than my last one but has fewer cabinets. You’ll see why that’s not a problem in another minute. What I really love about this kitchen is all the arches. It’s St Louis so you have to have some arches here. The door on the left here is a pantry. At my last house I had a floor-to-ceiling cabinet that functioned as a pantry so I was excited to have something bigger than that when I got here. I’ll post a pantry makeover soon since that’s one of the first projects I did. Next on my task list has to be drawer pulls since opening each drawer takes two hands right now and I can’t do that while cooking.
See why I don’t mind fewer kitchen cabinets? I have even more in my dining room in the wine bar. Or coffee bar. Or tea bar. Or brunch bar. I’m clearly undecided, though wine bar is probably a certainty with the built in wine glass storage and wine fridge.
That door to the left up there goes to the basement. To the right of the wine bar is a door to a powder room. Ordinarily I would assume you all know what a bathroom looks like but I do want to show off at least one neat thing about it.
Okay, that’s two things. The bathroom and many other rooms have functional transom windows. We tend to keep the powder room one closed because well, you know but even our front and back doors have the transom window feature. I’m also really into the vessel sink in this bathroom. It’s not usually my thing but somehow it just works in here.
There’s just so many features like that in this house. There’s original flooring refinished, 5 panel doors, transom windows, dental trim, 12-foot ceilings, 10-inch baseboards, original fireplaces, and all that exposed brick that appears on every floor of the house. Sure there’s growing pains after a move but this house has so many beautiful things that I’m willing to look past it.
Last year, each month I posted a to-do list for 2012 from Get Organized Now. I still love them and highly recommend checking them out. This year I want to swap out how I plan my household to-do lists. I want to give each room in my house equal amounts of love and opportunities for improvement. Each month I plan to write out 5 ways to improve each room in the 28/30/31 days.
For this month, I’m starting with the kitchen. This is the most complete room in my house and only needs some finishing touches. Here are 5 things I want to tackle:
1. Paint the ceiling
I repainted the room but some paint hit the ceiling. A good new coat should make the room look more complete.
2. Seal the grout
When I did all my tile I had to let the grout rest before sealing it. I think 6 months is plenty.
3. Clean out the fridge
Time to check those expiration dates and use up some condiments with some creative recipes.
4. Create a dog station
My dog Nova has a little corner of the room with a dog bowl but I think something that says she has her own little spot would be more than welcome
5. Un-Christmas the Kitchen
I still haven’t taken down my Christmas decorations from my ladder bookcase. In fact, the whole room has little touches of Christmas all around. It’s time to pack it all up and give my bookcase a new look.
What room of your house will get updated first in 2013?
When I got my KitchenAid Mixer the first thing I did was buy a beater blade for scraping down the sides. This meant I now had 3 extra attachments just hanging around when I wasn’t cooking something. I had a habit of losing them in drawers or the deep space of my baker’s nook.
As part of my kitchen makeover, I’d built a little baker’s nook to hold all my extra baking supplies. That might sound a little silly but I have a lot of supplies. The baker’s nook was actually built to accommodate our lower window and give me a surface to roll out cookie dough (or bread dough or pizza dough) on easily. The nook was made by substituting vanity cabinets for kitchen cabinets and then just using a separate piece of countertop.
One side holds all my baking sheets and cake pans while my drawers hold things like cake piping tubes and tips, food coloring, sprinkles, and just general odds and ends. I had one lower cabinet left to fill. I added in my cake and cupcake stands, my hand mixer, and my double set of springform pans. The whole thing felt a bit empty still.
Enter those pesky Kitchenaid mixer attachments. There was plenty of space in there for them but I didn’t want them to get lost in medium springform pan #2 (heaven forbid!) so I came up with a solution that seems so obvious I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner: 3M hooks. Look how easily I can find my hooks now.
And a closeup
For under $5 I’ve got an easy storage solution that my college self would be proud of.Pin It
I have this giant chalkboard in my kitchen that has at times had anything from a dart board drawn on it to shopping lists and meal plans and even a cock fighting ring drawn on it. (Yes, that really happened)
For summer I envisioned an actual theme to the board. I wanted a big banner with all my summer goals below it so I could try to do all the cool hipster things like picnics in the park, a drive-in movie, and music festivals. I had no clue my summer would have so many days over 100 degrees and my summer goals would shift from fun outdoor things to hiding inside with the air conditioning. Before that reality hit, I did manage to make myself a cute banner for free.
To make this banner I took 16 paint chips, 4 in each shade I had laying around. It’s a good thing I went through a pastel phase last year but I wish I’d been into blues and purples too. Still, my color selection was pretty nice and coordinated with my walls very well.
I cut the labels off each paint chip and then cut each paint chip into 3-4 usable pieces vertically before cutting each color into its own strip. Don’t try to be perfect here, having some variation makes the banner have more character. I separated each color into a pile (so green, pink, orange, and yellow) and pulled 5 or so at a time randomly from each color stack. I started with my pink stack choosing 5 of the different shades and overlapping them while sewing slowly over the top. Then I added on orange, then yellow, and then green before returning back with yellow, orange and red. Just go slow while sewing through paper and you’ve got it.
I left long ends at both the beginning and end of my banner rather than cutting them off so I could easily hang them from my chalkboard.
The banner hung for a month because I just couldn’t think of anything worthy of the fun design. Luckily, my husband is much more creative than I am. My birthday was at the end of July and I woke up on my birthday morning to see him designing a masterpiece.
I don’t talk too much about my husband Daniel but he’s a very talented man. He wanted to be an art major in college before settling on computer science instead. He’s really the creative talent in our home. I’m more abstract in my ideas but he can put anything to paper and make it happen. He designed the chalkboard and the artwork on it. Back when we made this room while I decided I wanted a room “full of sunshine” and I chose tile and paint to make it bright but I think he delivered the sunshine for my rainbow with his masterpiece.Pin It
Centsational Girl is having everyone share their favorite kitchen gadgets and I wanted to make sure I chipped in. When I was getting married I was also moving into an empty house with no kitchen. I had never lived on my own outside of a dorm room, I didn’t like cooking (only baking) and had no clue what I needed. It should come as no surprise that I had no clue what to stock my kitchen with and ended up with a pinata. Luckily I had some advice from others, some relatives who stocked me up with items and gift cards, and I learned a lot along the way. Now I have a bunch of favorite items but here are 10 I couldn’t live without.
My cousin Allison was hosting Pampered Chef parties around the time I was getting married and she stocked me up with some amazing tools. I have added to my collection since then but these 4 are my must-haves. I love the bamboo spoons, I put them in my dishwasher and at 4 years old they look brand new. My Mix n Chop makes bulk cooking so much easier; I can have finely ground beef or shredded chicken in an instant. My bar pan gets most of its use as my pizza stone and it’s held up remarkably well. I also have the round stone in this collection. Finally, the scoop– I use this for cookies and I’ve tried buying the ones at Target and never again. My Target scoops both broke when they got caught on chocolate chips or M&Ms while scooping but my Pampered Chef one is going strong 5 years later. I don’t sell these products but if you go to a party I wouldn’t hesitate to stock up on every single one.
True story, my parents once went to a conference and met George Foreman. That’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to a celebrity. I know he’s more of a figurehead for the brand but I love my George Foreman grill, celebrity BFF or not. It has 5 removable plates that I can wash in the dishwasher including waffle plates and grilling plates. I cook burgers, chicken breasts, and kebobs on mine all the time. My other favorite way to cook with it is to put in the griddle plate and use it as a panini press. My turkey sandwiches always feel classier after a go in the George.
I see so many people who add the KitchenAid Mixer to a registry and I was no exception. I also see a lot of people who break them out to make cookies at Christmas and to collect dust the rest of the year. Why would you do that? I use mine to make pizza dough, bread, shred chicken, whip pie, not to mention mixing up all sorts of desserts. You can even make butter in a mixer. I like mine with the beater blade, it scrapes down the sides of your mixer which is perfect if you’re making something with a high liquid ratio.
I also like my immersion blender. I use it to mix up soups or spaghetti sauce and the chopper attachment is perfect for anyone who wants the functionality of a food processor but doesn’t use them often enough to justify the space those devices take up. I haven’t used all the attachments yet but I like what I have tried.
My next item is a bit of a cheat since it’s 3 items in one. I know a lot of people just starting off spend money on a giant knife block with 20 knives. Save your cash and instead invest in 3 quality knives. I use the Wusthof brand and all I need are the paring knife, the bread knife, and the 7″ Santoku knife.
My last item was such a help when I was first learning how to cook. I wanted to make sure I was cooking recipes that weren’t likely to fail and didn’t call for any ingredients I’d never heard of. The Taste of Home Cookbook is on its third edition now and each cookbook comes with a 1 year subscription to Taste of Home magazine.
I have many more items that would make the honorable mentions list but that would drag on even longer than all these did. Like I said, most of my most beloved kitchen items came to me as gifts over the years. Some smart people shared their wisdom with me in gift form so I try to pass along the same knowledge to those around me. I usually do it in gift form but I don’t quite have the cashflow to buy all of you an item. Do you have any items that you couldn’t live without in your kitchen? I’d love to know what I’m missing.Pin It
After I had the cabinets installed, I struggled to know how to keep them organized. I have a ton of space but I also have a ton of stuff and I wanted to use the space to the best of my advantage. I’ve already shown you how I failed with my lazy susan but I wanted to show you an arrangement that’s worked for over a year now.
This is the cabinet I use most minus the ones that hold plates and cups. It holds my tupperware, gladware, mystery brand-ware (I have no brand loyalty) and my tall appliances.
So I found a new home for my rolls and used the undercabinet baskets in a new way. They were the perfect size to fit under my shelves and hold all those tricky lids. Tupperware lids in one basket, gladware lids in another basket. Then I just stacked up all the plastic containers how I like to use them. An easy solution to an annoying problem.
In the middle I store my rice cooker, blender, and ice cream maker. You’ll be seeing a lot more of that last one soon. I keep the blender in the middle because I use it the least and I keep my most frequent tools right at an arm’s reach. Don’t be afraid to switch up the standard placement of your shelves. I tend to start at the top and work my way down when setting shelf height.
At the very top I store 4 bowls. 3 are usually in my freezer holding chili but chili season is over so all 4 are ready for ice cream and sorbet duty this spring.
What do you do to keep your cabinets organized?Pin It