The Living Room Reveal

The living room is where we spend almost all of our time as a family. We play lots of board games, watch a little Netflix and the kids dance. A lot. With this in mind, I wanted the living room to feel inviting to the kids, but I also wanted it to be a space that felt fun for us to entertain in.

The living room looked like the rest of the before pics – kind of blah and tired. It had the same dark floors as the living room and the same clay color as every other stinkin’ wall in the house.


The living room and dining room spaces flow into each other so we kept a cohesive theme throughout the two rooms. We also wanted it to be light and airy, so the grey is one shade lighter than dining room color and we decided the forego window treatments to let in as much light as possible.


The only kind of big thing left that I want to change in the room is the tile on the fireplace. I’m thinking of finding a tile that would be authentic to the house -maybe a penny tile? I’m not in a rush to change it up, but I think the tan tile is a bit underwhelming and dated.

I also decided to go with a royal blue area rug to add a punch of color. I got it from and I ordered it sight unseen. The good thing is that there were a ton of reviews and pictures, so I felt fairly confident ordering it. I was incredibly relieved when it arrived and it was exactly what I wanted for the room.

Looking into the living room from the dining room
Looking into the living room from the dining room

I have to say, I’m pretty happy with the space. It’s small enough to be cozy, but big enough for crazy kid dance parties. I was a bit worried about Lexi “Hulking out” and pulling all of the books off of the bookshelf, but so far so good. The kids books are all on the right hand side and so far, she’s been content to bring a book (or five) over to the table to read.

I’m also a big fan of the TV over fireplace. It’s nice that little hands can touch the screen or change the channel…for now.

Now, if I can just keep the dogs tracking mud onto the rug, all will be well.


Winter Wonderland…It’s About Time!

Since moving to North Carolina four years ago, we’ve come to expect and appreciate two things: changing leaves in the fall and a good, heavy snow in the winter. For some reason, waking up to a blanket of ethereal white makes all of the cold (non-snowy) days worth it. So, you can imagine our consternation when February arrived and we still didn’t have a single real snow. Sure, we had a freakish dusting before Halloween, but after that, we had nothing. Nada.

What made it worse is that we’ve had three false alarms, one of which predicted a 100% chance of heavy snow – figure that one out. Naturally, this past Saturday (and with only a 30% chance of a light snow), flakes started falling fast and earnestly.

We had planned on making a final trip to the old house to take the trash to the dump, but when we looked outside and saw this, we quickly nixed that plan.

snow92 Instead, we made a quick trip out to fill up our keg and load up on munchies from the grocery store. Florida friends, it’s our Northern equivalent of hurricane parties! And the kids? Well, they got suited up and headed out to play.

It was Lexi’s first time out in a significant amount of snow. She didn’t know what to make of the snowflakes.



Once she realized that it was nothing to worry over, she loved it!



I asked Parker to hop into the picture, but his mind was already on the snowman he was planning on building. Check out his serious expression.



Of course, the dogs wanted to play, too.



Oh yeah, something I should probably have mentioned – we have a third dog now. She adopted us. Her name is Daisy Duke and she’s a Plott Hound.


I promise to give you the full story soon, but it’s still emotionally exhausting to think about. Suffice it to say that she was very much unexpected, but faced with the prospect of euthanasia at the local shelter, we made room for her. And there sure is a lot more of her than the corgis!



Back to the kids. While Lexi loved playing in the snow…



She got cold. Fast. In this next picture, she’s saying, “MA-MA!!”



So we got our sweet Lexi inside and she and her Nana cuddled to get warm.

snow03Of course, the boys still had a snowman to build, so once she was warm, Lexi happily settled at the window with her “sheep-ie” hat on to watch them.



After about an hour, the snowman was built and the boys were proud.



And here’s the happy face I know and love.

snow02Everyone got hot chocolate, I made a pot of chili and we settled in for a (kind of) quiet night. The next morning, I woke up to a glorious sight. It had been snowing all night long and the snow was powder light.






Thank you, universe, for our heavy-but-not-debilitating-snow. Now, if spring could hurry up and get here, it would be much appreciated.

With freezing toes,


Painting Our Kitchen Cabinets

When I first saw our new house, I fell completely in love with the windows in the kitchen.

The back of the kitchen.
The back of the kitchen.

It was light, airy and had plenty of  cabinet space even without upper cabinets over the sink area. What I wasn’t in love with was the builders oak cabinets that were installed. While the cabinets were fairly new (installed around 2007), it’s clear that the previous owners went with the least expensive new cabinets they could buy.

Looking into the kitchen from the dining room.
Looking into the kitchen from the dining room.

Since it wasn’t in our budget to replace the cabinets and since there was nothing wrong with them, I decided to take the plunge and paint them. I cannot tell you how many articles I read online about painting cabinets. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t cut corners in this process because lets face it, you can’ undue a paint job. All of the online articles and testimonials outlined the same process:

  1. Clean and degrease the cabinets
  2. Wipe dry
  3. Sand 
  4. Wipe with wet cloth to remove grit
  5. Prime with an oil based primer
  6. Sand the primer
  7. Add 2-3 coats of paint, lightly sanding with a fine paper in between coats

The color that I ultimately went with was Benjamin Moore’s Linen White, but the retailer cut the color added in half. I had explained that I wanted the cabinets to have just the slightest hint of cream instead of being an ultra white.

Honest to God, prepping and painting these cabinets was the most tedious house project to date. It’s a good thing that the kids weren’t here while I was working on this because I was cursing the blasted beveled edges the entire time. To get into the cracks, I had to paint the creases with a small brush and then use a roller designed for cabinets to eliminate the brush strokes. There was definitely one point during the process where I thought, “Was the oak really that bad?”

Alas, after a solid week of work, it was done. We’re going to call these our “during pictures” because a couple of things still need to be done.

(1) We have to paint and install new baseboards – you can see that these are still oak and painting them would have been a big hassle since they sit snug against the tile.

(2) We need to replace the white microwave to match our stainless range. This Frigidaire range has traveled a thousand miles with us from Florida and we’ve moved it to 3 different North Carolina houses (storing it in the basement at each one). It is a full convection oven and it cooks like a dream (and it cost well over $1000) so I didn’t want to leave it to our renters in Florida. I am so thrilled to be using it again – I’m a dork about appliances so this makes me very, very happy.

Okay, without further ado, here are the comparison pics for the cabinets – I’ll start with the before again so you don’t have to scroll up and down to see the differences.


Now one year later, we’ve finally painted the baseboards and added hardware to the cabinets. (We also have a new monster toaster oven.)



Other than the stainless range, you’ll notice that we also switched out the dishwasher from the white Frigidaire that was there to a stainless steel Bosch. We bought the Bosch for the first house that we were renting here in North Carolina (that had an unusable dishwasher) and since we knew that we were eventually going to be buying our own house up here, we went ahead and bought this top of the line dishwasher. It has a stainless interior, it’s roomy and it is super quiet.

You’ll also notice that we changed the paint color from that blasted clay color to a color called Churchill Hotel Wheat (it’s a Valspar signature color). Since the kitchen tiles are a warm color, we didn’t want to put a cool color on the walls, but we also didn’t want to add a color that would clash with the grey of the dining room (the kitchen opens up to the dining room). This color is the perfect complement.

We loved it so much, we also used it in hallway between the kids rooms, the master bath and my office. All of those pictures will be coming soon, too. Just as soon as I move the boxes out of the way so that you can actually see them!

**One year later – I’ve added some breadbaskets from South Africa above the cabinets, added a glass tile backsplash, we’ve replaced the microwave and you can really see the difference the painted baseboards and cabinet hardware made.


Closer look at the backsplash.
Closer look at the backsplash.

For effect, here’s the final Before/After: