Our Virginia House: One Year Later

I can not believe it’s been a year. Well, it’s kind of been a year. Today marks one year since we first walked into this house with our realtor, Gwen. This was the first house we looked at that day, and we were both ready to write an offer before we even got back to the car. We had about 6 more that she had made appointments for, so we dutifully checked those out, but none even came close to this one. So, the next day we went to her office to make our offer, and the next day she called me to let us know that it was accepted. Yay!

We closed on the house in early December, and literally started tearing down the things we didn’t like on day two. I remember standing in the living room, talking about what we wanted to do with the space. Graham started taking down the chair railing, I started pulling off wallpaper, and before we knew it, the room looked like this:2015-12-20-11-24-39-1

We’ve done SO much over the past year. Everything from small projects (like painting the bedrooms), to HUGE projects (like brand new siding), and I honestly think we both love this house more and more every day.

So, let’s me bombard you with a ton of before and after photos.

The House: 2016-06-05 11.42.31grey-house-pink-front-doorgrey-house-pink-front-door-32016-06-16-20-52-24You can read more about our siding & the pink front door here. The only thing left on our exterior to do list is to update the landscaping. A very hot, dry summer killed nearly all the plants out front. Luckily most of them were planted in galvanized buckets, so they’ll be easy to get rid of. We’re going to keep it simple (and low maintenance): boxwoods & hostas in the front beds, aerate and plant more grass, and in the bed on the side, I think I’m going to plant something bee friendly.

The living room:living room 2016-06-17 00.11.292016-06-17 00.12.002016-06-17 00.09.46This space is so close to finished. All we have left to do in here is to hang pictures over the couch, and for Graham to build doors for the two bottom shelves of the built-ins. We’ve also updated the ottoman from the disgusting grey and white one pictured to a solid grey one. Considering it’s sitting on a grey rug, the room needs a pop of color. So, I’m on the hunt for a bright rug, but I’m not in any hurry. If you want to see more before and after pictures, you can read more here.

The Dining Room:Dining room2016-06-17-01-18-492016-06-17-01-20-322016-06-17-00-45-46The dining room used to be a second living area, which we don’t need. It would literally have ended up as another storage space. What we DID need though was a bigger kitchen. So, we decided to turn the second living area into a dining room, and expand the kitchen into the old dining room (we now refer to that space as the kitchen annex). This room was the easiest room of the house to update. There was no wallpaper, no paneling, no chair railing (the only room on the first floor with none of those things). All it needed was fresh paint (Benjamin Moore’s Black Pepper). It does still need a light fixture, but that’ll come next year when G gets home.

Half Bathroom:half-bath2016-09-02-03-52-022016-09-02-17-33-48This room is 100% finished, and I love it more than it’s probably normal to love a bathroom. You can read more about the remodel here. I’m so glad that I let Graham do the wainscoting, I’m so glad we splurged on the tile and the sink. I just love this space so much.

Master Bedroom:master bedroom 2 Master bedroom 2016-03-11 04.42.57 2016-03-11 04.45.052016-03-11 04.40.45Excluding the hallway, which has wallpaper, the rooms upstairs are only in need of new paint. However, our bedroom is the only room that has actually been painted. It’s not the largest room in the world, but it’s a good size. I can’t get over how tiny it looks in the before photos.

Kitchen Nook:12226966_10102221202589367_3226349745380194267_n2016-06-23-16-48-392016-07-05-23-34-172016-07-05-23-35-02
Taking down wallpaper only to put wallpaper back up felt pretty ridiculous, but it was necessary. It was after we started ripping down wallpaper that Graham mentioned how lucky we were that the wallpaper wasn’t covering really bad walls. That thought never occurred to me. Then I get to the nook, and the walls were REALLY, really bad. The walls were so bad, it made me wonder if the nook was an addition. They just looked and felt different. So, we decided to put up wallpaper, to save ourselves about 4 years of spackling and sanding. We also decided to put trim up on the opening. Corners are the worst part, and they’re so delicate. So, this substantial trim not only makes the opening look more finished, but it also will help protect the walls over the years when people inevitably bump into the corners with pieces of furniture.

And for the rooms that still have a looooooong way to go (and for the most part look SO MUCH WORSE than they did on that first day)… no pictures of those since they’re depressing to look at. Maybe next time I do an update the after pictures will be blog worthy 🙂


The Most Beautiful Half Bathroom Ever.

When we moved into this house, the half bathroom was completely fine. It was way too brown, but not bad at all. Our biggest issue was the size of the vanity. It was WAY too large for the space.half-bathSo, we bought a pretty pedastel sink and planned an “easy” bathroom makeover. But, of course home improvement never goes according to plan. When we sold the vanity in February, we learned that the floor underneath was unfinished. Deja vu, right?2016-02-20-11-34-10-1 Graham had a utility sink that we stuck in the bathroom until we were ready to renovate. Such a pretty bathroom to live with for 6 months, right? 2016-03-11-05-01-19 Anyways, before Graham left for Honduras we finally finished the bathroom. And it’s more beautiful than I ever thought a teeny tiny half bathroom could be. Everything was replaced, even things that were technically fine and in good shape (like the light fixture). We spent more money than we planned (of course), but we both think it was all worth it.
2016-09-02-17-05-16Buddy’s a big fan of the new space…2016-09-10-14-58-08(If anyone knows why there is a painting of George Washington in my bathroom, I’ll send you some cookies 🙂 2016-09-10-14-59-32 2016-09-02-17-33-34 It’s actually not what I had originally planned, but I love it so much more than I loved my initial ideas. This is the same paint color that we have in the dining room, and I’m still obsessed with it. Since the color is so dark, and it’s such a small space, Graham really wanted to do wainscoting in the room. I was against it at first, since I love this color SO much, but I’m glad I let him do it. It looks AMAZING. 2016-09-02-17-33-38One of the things I love most about this room though is the GORGEOUS tile we picked for the floor. Once it was down, we decided to use the same tile when we eventually do the laundry room & kitchen… Making the trip to Canada pointless but still so much fun.
2016-08-30-12-18-42 2016-09-02-17-33-42 2016-09-02-17-33-48 Didn’t G do an amazing job on the wainscoting? 2016-09-02-17-33-54So there you have it. The last home improvement you’ll see for a while. But seriously, seeing how amazing the bathroom turned out has me SO excited for the other house projects we have planned. Like the kitchen. ESPECIALLY the kitchen.

Sources: Sink, Mirror, Light Fixture, Floor Tile

What I’m Loving Wednesday: Kitchen Seating Areas

Now that our kitchen nook is finished (wallpaper, new white trim, new light fixture), it’s time to start on phase two. From the day we first saw the house, I wanted to create a bench in the bay window, and create a cat seat for Buddy & Charlotte. But now, I’m having second thoughts. The space is so pretty & sleek, and I don’t really want to do anything permanent that’s going to cover up the bulk of our wallpaper.

2016-07-05 23.34.17

I also don’t want to put a table and chairs in the space, for several reasons. 1) The table we have their currently has become a catch all for all of our crap. Cookbooks, mail, my purse, G’s work hat, books, pet stuff, you name it & it lands on that table. It always looks messy and cluttered. 2) We never eat there. I learned yesterday that G has breakfast there in the mornings, but that’s it. We used the table a few times when Sav & Elise were staying with us, but we used the dining room when Shana & Elliott stayed, and I preferred the dining room. Once we do our kitchen remodel, we’re going to create enough room at the counter for a couple of bar stools. So, I’m pretty okay with not having a table and chairs there.


The space the first time we saw it.

No cat seat bench, no table & chairs… what does that leave for a nook off of the kitchen?

A seating area. A while back we were watching Property Brothers, and they had created a little sitting area in the kitchen. I’m not sure why that randomly popped into my head the other night, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. We don’t eat in the kitchen, so why not make the space something pretty, that will get more use. Graham likes to hang out in the kitchen to keep me company while I cook (and occasionally vice versa), and I love the idea of comfy chairs for the non-cooker to hang out in. I love the idea of boldly upholstered chairs to break up the monotony of a grey and white kitchen. I can see Buddy and Charlotte hanging out in the chairs, bird watching from the big windows.

So, enough babbling and let’s get to what I’m loving: these kitchen seating areas.

Happy Wednesday!

How is it July already???

Can you guys believe it’s already July 5th? I had a little mini breakdown yesterday, when Graham asked me what was wrong for the zillionth time, and I verbalized that July 4th was the last holiday we’d have together before he goes to Honduras. I cried, and cried, and cried some more, and felt better once it was all out. I wish the weather had been better so we could have gone out and enjoyed the holiday, but despite crappy weather, we had a pretty great & productive weekend.


Our weekend started early, when we met for lunch at Chipotle, and during lunch he got the call that they were done for the day. So, we ran an errand in Hampton, went home so he could change out of his uniform, and then went to Virginia Beach. He wanted to go to this fancy woodworking store. I kindly requested he drop me off at TJ Maxx, and come back for me when he was done.

The weather was gross, and looked like storms were coming any minute. The sky looked so cool. I literally made G turn around so I could go back and take a picture. 2016-07-01 16.06.02-1

After leaving the woodworking store & TJ Maxx, we headed into Norfolk to return some shoes to Nordstrom, and then made a stop by Strawberry Fields for some Gelato. Their case was fixed, and full of flavors this time. Graham sampled a few before going with the blueberry french toast. I went with the white chocolate raspberry trufffle. Both were fantastic. G wanted to walk around the area, while we ate our gelato, but I was hot and wanted to get back in the car. Luckily I  won, because after a few minutes the bottom dropped out and it started raining like crazy!2016-07-01 16.17.34-2

Since it was raining, our plans to grill for dinner needed to be changed. We had planned on grilling, but that wasn’t going to happen. Instead we went with the drunken noodles from Chrissy Teigan’s cookbook. I was excited to find the wide fresh rice noodles from an Asian market in Hampton. And speaking of this cookbook, I am OBSESSED with it. If you only buy one cookbook this year or next, buy this one! 2016-07-01 20.05.38-2

Saturday was the only pretty day of the long weekend. We started the day with breakfast at First Watch. Their pancakes are insane, and the bacon is always so crispy and delicious. Definitely my favorite breakfast on the Peninsula. 2016-07-02 10.55.41-2After breakfast, we took Hermione for a long walk & a swim, and then headed home to work on our breakfast nook project before going out for the night. This was supposed to be a simple, one weekend project: hang wallpaper, paint trim, done. But no. It’s turned into a two weekend project. The wallpaper only took a day, but instead of painting the old trim, we decided just to buy new stuff. So, he’s spent the past week cutting trim, & pre-installing it (he hung all of it up, made sure it fit, and then took it down so we could paint it), and this weekend we finally got to paint it and install it (for real).

Saturday night we headed to Hampton for the 1st Annual Bob Ross paint night. This was fun, but frustrating at the same time. I’m used to being good at things, and apparently I’m not good at this type of painting. We had a good time though. It was a beautiful night, and there was live music & cheese fries. 2016-07-02 18.47.35 2016-07-02 19.11.40-2 2016-07-02 19.56.02 2016-07-02 20.31.59-2After paint night, we wanted real food, so we headed to Fort Monroe for dinner at The Deadrise. I’ve heard a lot about this place, and I was excited to try it. I was especially excited that we managed to score two seats outside. 2016-07-02 21.00.34 2016-07-02 20.56.06-1It was dark, so unfortunately there are no photos of the food (I guess that means another visit is in order…), but the food was delicious. I had the fried seafood platter, Graham had the grouper special, and both dishes were delicious! Mine was ridiculously huge.

Sunday and Monday were spent recovering from Saturday’s indulgences, and finishing up the kitchen nook. I’ll post more later in the week, but for now, here are a few photos of the finished space. I can’t remember the name of the wallpaper, but it’s from Sherwin Williams and I LOVE IT. From a distance, the space just looks painted. When you get closer, you see it’s kind of got a salt & pepper feel to it. It also has a light sheen, which I love. We wanted something neutral, but with some texture . It works well with the grey paint throughout the rest of the house, and I’m so excited to see this space with wood flooring (that’s a post-Honduras project though).
2016-07-03 17.56.07Finished! All that’s left was changing out the light fixture. 
2016-07-04 19.56.00-2I‘m a big fan of this simple, energy efficient light fixture from Home Depot. It uses LED lights, and is super sleek. We also installed a dimmer on it. I always assumed that these tiny, energy efficient LED lights wouldn’t give off much light. I was so, SO wrong. Without the dimmer, it’s insanely bright in here. 2016-07-04 21.41.57Too bad the rest of the kitchen isn’t getting it’s makeover for another year. Since we found out that we get to stay here once Graham returns from Honduras, we’re no longer stressed about the kitchen, and the cost of the remodel has been drastically reduced. Instead of paying $7,000 for cabinets from Ikea, he now plans to build them himself, which should cost a fraction of that. But ugh. Last night, I was standing by the microwave, admiring the nook. Then I stood in the nook and took in the rest of the space. I quickly turned around and went back to admiring the new wallpaper. It’s terrible, but honestly once he leaves, I probably won’t use this space much. Cooking when he’s gone is zero fun, and I always end up wasting SO much. 2016-07-04 21.48.51

Our Living Room Transformation

We’ve been living in our house for about 5 months. Other than the massive photo dump of exterior photos yesterday, I really haven’t shared much about the house since this post back from March. But last week, our homes exterior wasn’t the only area that saw some big changes. Our built-ins & fireplace are mostly finished (they still need doors to cover the bottom two shelves).
2016-06-17 00.13.49Honestly, I love this more than the new siding & pink door. Why? Because Graham did this. He did ALL of this.

But let’s start at the beginning. The first time we walked into the house on October 24, 2015, it was very, very brown. And while it was done better & looked better than the house in Arkansas, I still loathe brown trim. And that paneling. Eek. The brown crown pulls your eye to it, and makes the space look smaller. The mantle was wimpy. I hated the brass fireplace doors. Basically, we hated everything (cosmetic) about this room. But, we saw potential. living roomWithin days of closing, we started ripping things down, starting with the paneling and the chair railing, so that we could paint. It was around this time that I suggested built-ins on each side of the fire place, and Graham started thinking about redoing the fireplace. One of his favorite projects in the Arkansas house was the beautiful mantle he built, and he was excited to build one for this house. 2015-12-20 11.24.39-1 So, everything ended up coming down. I don’t think we intended to destroy the existing mantle, but it just sort of fell apart when he started pulling it off. Oops. One of the other things that HAD to go was the ceiling fan. It didn’t have a light kit, so Graham ghetto rigged a desk lamp over the fan blades, so that we could work at night. 2016-01-05 20.38.27-1As with most home projects, everything takes longer than planned. We quickly upgraded the light fixture, and started painting EVERYTHING. The trim took forever (2 coats of primer, 3 coats of paint). Graham also went above and beyond and did some re-wiring so that he could build a channel to hide all of our electronic cords. He also tiled over the brick with beautiful marble tile. 2016-01-25 17.51.352016-01-25 17.49.34 - CopyWhen we moved into the house, it was painted, but the built-in wall continued to look pretty bad. It was all being covered, so there was no point in hiding all of our test swatches.

In March, the built-ins were FINALLY finished. Graham did every bit of this himself. Hundreds of dollars of wood, hours of sanding & painting… And it was worth it. These things are MASSIVE. And heavy. And so, so beautiful. He used his paint sprayer to get the perfect finish, and while they seemed like they took forever (and were so much more expensive than my idea of just running to Ikea), they were SO worth it.
2016-03-07 01.40.25Not long after the built-ins were installed, Graham dry-walled over the fireplace. He built the wall out a little, to accommodate his cord-hiding channel. The cords go into the built in (the shelf with the constantly falling #5), and down another little channel to the surge protector on the bottom shelf. 2016-03-11 04.59.542016-03-13 16.05.38The, finally, we he starts on the fireplace.2016-05-12 17.52.52-2 2016-05-14 10.07.24-1

And now… here we are today. Everything (except the two doors), is complete. 2016-06-17 00.10.31This mantle turned out more beautiful than I could have imagined. Those are the same fireplace doors from the first photo, just painted (because holy crap, fireplace doors are expensive!). They do have new hardware though. And the beautiful tile work, which is actually what he’s most proud of, since it was his first time working with tile.
2016-06-17 00.12.002016-06-17 00.09.46This trim here. OMG. I’m obsessed with it. He couldn’t find anything beefy enough, and we wanted something similar to what we had at the apartment, so he bought the wood and using router bits, he shaped it to how he wanted it. 2016-06-17 00.08.05 I can’t wait to have doors covering the bottom two shelves, all of those wires and rolls of vinyl are not very attractive, but I’m so happy and excited with how beautiful this space is. I’m so thankful he wouldn’t let me rush him, or take short cuts. 2016-06-17 00.11.292016-06-17 00.14.18

A Pink Door & A Grey House

Pink Door Grey House | Bake. Create. Love.

Sometimes things happen that you don’t plan on, and that you’re not quite ready for (like G’s imminent trip to Honduras….). New siding for our house also falls under that category. Don’t get me wrong, we knew it was going to happen, and it’s definitely something we wanted. We just didn’t plan on it quite so soon. But thanks to one hell of a salesperson, we found ourselves signing a contract in May.

Then, on June 1, I sent an email to our salesperson, complaining about the lack of communication we’ve received through out this process. She tells me that our materials haven’t come in yet, and she’d call as soon as she had an update.

The next afternoon, I came home for lunch and saw a truckload of new siding sitting in our front yard. Graham told me that he had spoken to the installer, and they would be out tomorrow to install it. (FYI, it’s now June 21, and I still haven’t heard from the salesperson.)

So, The next morning I wake up to this. IMG_2870

While the whole process was loud, and made Hermione so anxious, it was actually pretty painless for us. Their crew was efficient, and polite. They made a huge mess in the yard every day, but always had it cleaned up before they left. Our plan was just to paint the shutters, but they told G early on that there was no good way to get them off without damaging them, so they went and bought us new ones. By Saturday night, they were here: 2016-06-05 11.32.22

The siding took about three days to finish (even though the sales person told us one day). Then another day for the new gutters. We had planned to paint the trim ourselves, but when G got on the roof to start, he noticed carpenter bees eating into the wood. So, we called them back out to wrap the damaged trim. (We’re still going to paint the dental molding under the gutters. Someday.) We painted the door frame in one afternoon, and then did the front door the following evening.
2016-06-13 18.16.18-1But now, other than the dental molding needing to be painted, we’re done. We now have a house that we are absolutely IN LOVE with. Pulling into the drive way every day just makes me happy. The gray, white & black is classic, and the hot pink door just makes me happy. I am so in love with what this house has become in just six months. 

Pink Door Grey House | Bake. Create. Love. To me, some of the smallest changes have made the biggest impact. Like squaring off the garage, removing the decorative piece from the top of the door frame, and removing the white railing from the front step. I’m horrible at remembering to take good before photos, but this is the best one I could find of the entry area before. 2016-06-14 09.38.15
And after…
Pink Door Grey House | Bake. Create. Love. 2016-06-16 20.53.11

Front of the house – Before & AfterBake. Create. Love. | Pink Door Grey HouseBack of the house –  Before & After (‘After’ shot added before the gutters were installed.)2016-06-03 18.07.37

Source List: Siding –Mastic Vinyl Siding – Deep Granite, Door Color: Valspar Duramax, Hint of Cherry, House Numbers – Hillman Group 5″ Floating Numbers

While I won’t recommend the company we went with, due to their horrible customer service, but I am pleased with the work of the installers, and love how my house looks! That’s what matters, right?



A busy, chaotic weekend.

I’ll start the wrap up of the weekend with Thursday, since this is what I woke up to Thursday morning.
IMG_2870 I was happy about this, since G and I both HATED the yellow siding and blue trim. The first time we saw the house, the realtor asked what we thought when we were leaving, and I told her with the exception of the kitchen and the exterior  color I loved it. (Below is the before picture.)2016-06-05 11.42.31 It still needs a few more things done before we’ll have an official after photo. The trim needs to be white, the decorative trim around the door needs to be painted white, the house needs gutters (the gutter guy is supposedly coming tomorrow), and, most importantly, the door needs to be painted hot pink. 2016-06-05 11.32.22I’m glad the blue trim almost matches the new grey siding, because it doesn’t look terrible from a distance, but I’m hoping to get it painted this week. After about a month of non-stop rain, it’s actually supposed to be sunny for the next week.
2016-06-03 18.55.10As for the front door… let’s just say there are a LOT of different shades of pink out there. I had it narrowed down to two, then had actually picked one, when I started re-thinking my choice. So, who knows what shade of pink my door will end up being… But it will be one of these. 2016-06-04 17.33.05

Other than the siding installation, our weekend was uneventful. We took the dog for walks, to get her away from the chaos at home (the highlight of the weekend was Graham telling her “Not to be a Trump” when she was barking at the Hispanic crew. (She’s not racist… she dislikes everyone equally.)

It was also a weekend of simple, but delicious dinners:

This catfish and udon noodle Blue Apron dish was AMAZING. I saved this recipe card and will definitely make this again and again. I modified it slightly, by adding half of the spice blend to the broth. The broth was heavenly. When I saw G about to pour the remnants of his broth down the drain, I rescued it from him, and finished it myself. 2016-06-03 20.16.48-2 This pistachio butter salmon, from Stuart O’Keefe’s new book was the best salmon either of us have ever had. The flavor in this was INSANE, and the salmon was perfectly cooked.2016-06-05 19.43.56-1And of course we did some grilling this weekend. Graham decided it had been 360 days since he was last able to grill (he’s not dramatic or anything ;)), so we had a simple dinner of steak coated with the Dizzy Pig ‘Shakin’ the tree’ seasoning (my new favorite. I’ve seriously been putting it on EVERYTHING.) and sauteed zucchini.
2016-06-06 19.08.05-2

Monday was a long day. And a shitty day. Between Charlotte having issues that resulted in poop all over the house (and her needing a bath…), and getting pooped on by a bird during Hermione’s walk, it was a long day. So. Vodka. Just a splash in a glass of my strawberry-mint limeade (recipe coming later this week) was exactly enough to take the edge off.
2016-06-06 18.43.10-2 And a little post dinner Halo Top was the perfect end to a long day.
2016-06-05 16.13.44-2-1

Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!