New Entry Hall

Since we live on the second floor of our two family, our ‘entry’ is a stairwell. Really no storage space to take off shoes or coats and the rug was pretty gross at this point. I couldn’t even tell you how old it was. Also, as was prevalent in many homes in the 70’s the walls were wood paneling, painted some neutral beige and the gum wood trim shellacked to reflection. Again, once boredom sets in, there is no stopping me!


As you can see, its just a plain, simple, very small stairwell. My first thought was to just brighten it a bit with paint, so I painted the walls, Sherwin Williams, Silver Strand. But then once you have a fresh coat of paint and horrendous carpeting, what are you going to do but rip it up!


That alone made a world of difference. We are going to resand the floors at some point in the near future and install a runner instead of recarpeting. But I still wanted/needed to come up with some storage solution. I did ask on Houzz, but got zero responses. Well actually one response was to leave it alone. But again, 900sf! So I found some wall mounted racks on Pottery Barn, clearanced and installed those. Granted, it doesn’t add that much storage, but it’s a place to hang the dogs leash’s and my most used coats.



I am still not 100% sure I will keep the smaller rack, but once the floors are sanded and the runner installed, I will see how it looks. Thankfully it’s not in the way of people going up and down the stairs. I also would like to add some framed family pictures on the hand rail side and thinking a mirror might add more light. Still somewhat of a work in progress.



Undecided Paint Color for Hallway

One room at a time. Having lived through a previous renovation project where the every room in the house was under construction, I have learned my lesson. This weekend, I updated our small hall. It’s not very long, maybe 10′ and very narrow, less than 3′. Prior to my updating our entry stair hall, this was the only place to really hang coats. And when you live in a 900sf apartment, any storage you can find/make, is a blessing!

When we moved in, the hall was an off-white color. My husband had installed the mirror and coat hooks years ago, and they are still in excellent condition and very useful, so kept them. All I did was update the paint a little as it was worn from the renters.


The color was fine and very neutral because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. Eventually though, as is a sore spot with my husband, I grew bored of it and wanted to change it up. Our home has a lot of character for being so small and I felt that it really wasn’t showing well. It was a Behr paint color and blanking on the name, so I will update that at a later point. That said, it’s a great neutral color that I think would work great in most cases, just not mine ;).


So here is the start. I was a little worried it was going to be too dark for the space. There is no natural light and only the one overhead flush mount light fixture. My paint guy told me worse case, they could always lighten for me, if needed, so I went ahead with it! Benjamin Moore, Van Courtland Blue. Turns out, it didn’t make the hall feel like it was caving in on you and really made the white casings pop. I love it. Added a Pottery Barn runner I found on clearance and voila! Oddly, it looks so much brighter!



Back at it again….

So after taking some time off to get married, have a honeymoon and throw a reception (yes in that order), I am back renovating and updating our 1910 FourSquare.

First on the agenda was the front porch. It really is an extension of the living room in the better weather months and we use it frequently. Unfortunately, it was still caught in the 70’s, blue rug on top of blue linoleum and all.


The windows, until we win the lottery, I will have to live with. They are actually not bad and it’s nice to be able to have the windows open even in the rain. Really, they were the least of my problems.

The first thing I had to do was clean it up. When we first moved in, that consisted of wiping down all the woodwork, fixing the blinds and adding a rug and some furniture.

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Not ideal, but for the time being it was fine. It was a place to sit and enjoy the breeze with a cup of coffee in the morning.

Eventually, I added better seating, using wicker furniture I upcycled myself. I also moved my old steamer trunk out there to use as a side table.

I also ended up painting it. I used a more blue-gray on the lower half of the wall and just repainted the ceiling in a semi-gloss white. The ceiling was not easy since the weather had done a number on the beadboard. I had to caulk a lot of it, but I was not going to rip it down and do it over. Some day, perhaps, but at this juncture, I just wanted something easy and nice to live with along with less labor 🙂 I also ended up replacing those white plastic blinds. Trying to clean them was not worth the work at all. (added note, I tend to get bored with furniture arrangements and move things around, as you can tell in the second picture, I moved the seating to the other side of the porch. Yes that is a margarita machine, that got me through the summer).

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Now, a couple years later, I am tired of looking at that blue rug and wanted to put down some other flooring. Obviously cost was the biggest factor. It’s a porch. I didn’t want real hardwood and wasn’t sure the porch could actually sustain that added weight and cost. The next option were those Ikea slats used for decks.

Ikea Slats

But at over $500 to do the porch, that exceeded my entire reno budget. The next obvious option was linoleum. But stick on squares, glued down planks, fake stone, slate, wood? There were endless options. That said, not all of them would work on a three season porch. We ended up going with a floating plank style. That way it would allow some give and take during the season changes. Laying it, was by far the easiest job. We managed it in a few hours.

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Added some quarter round to hold it in place and give it a more finished look and we were done!! Not bad for a $200 renovation!! And my husband got to bring his bar table and chairs back from his sisters house!

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And we are done!

I just realized I never updated after we put in the pendants…ooops!! But I was recently married, so hopefully that excuse will cut it 😉

So we are finally done! I am so in love with this new kitchen. Especially the new ‘island’. I have done so much baking and purposely leave everything out now, because I can!!! Odd as it may seem, it seems so much larger now, even though the square footage is the same. We do use the breakfast bar and find myself just sitting there when husband is doing the dishes (yes he actually does them , without me even asking!!) or when he is cooking. I really couldn’t have asked for more. Ok, well a dishwasher would have really made it complete, but husband does just a great of a job!

I’d like to think my mother-in-law is smiling and so happy for and perhaps a bit envious that she wasn’t able to use it, I would have loved to make gnocchi with her.


Thank you all for following along.


May I present, our final kitchen!

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Ive updated a little since these pictures, adding a runner and some curtains.

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I am still also going back on whether or not to add crown moulding. It really, never ends.


Thought some before and after pics would be kind of cool, since we are still waiting for pendant lights 😉 Apparently the ones we ended up choosing are very popular.

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Capture 2   Kitchen 1


Otherwise, we are pretty much done with the kitchen! The only other thing is window treatments and I am still going back and forth on what I would like. Butter yellow with some gray? Red? Cafe curtains or Roman shades?


I do love it and love even more being able to cook and spread out. So far I have made apple cider donuts, scones and various other treats that would have been very difficult in the old kitchen.


Home Stretch!

And we have a kitchen! After two and a half months, lots of blood, sweat and tears, we are in the home stretch. Cabinets are complete, with trim and panels. The sink wall was tiled and grouted and the hood is up! The first thing I cooked on the stove was pancakes. I definitely have to readjust to cooking with gas. Baking is so amazing now, I can spread out everything on the countertops. I have to say, in the grand scheme of things, 2 1/2 months probably isn’t that long, especially when it comes to renovating your kitchen. But when you are living through it, in an only 850 SF apartment, it can been….claustrophobic.

Overall, I am very happy with the way it turned out. A couple things, looking back I may have considered a little more, ie perhaps putting the cooktop on the island that way we could have possibly added a dishwasher? Maybe not having all the walls pastered, since most of the walls ended up with cabinets. Considered taking out the pantry wall all together and putting a door at the top of the stairs to the back yard? Other than those things (which really wouldn’t have changed much except for the dishwasher), I love the way it turned out.


For nostalgia purposes, the below pic is of the kitchen from the mid 70’s and what it looks like today. That is Mario’s mom in the picture.

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I do love the deep sink. And because we are lacking a dishwasher, it’s fantastic for hiding dishes that haven’t been washed yet! I am happy that I did not go all the way to the ceiling with the backsplash on the hood wall.

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Clearly, I still need to get some painting done, and the pendants should be arriving in a couple weeks, but all the trim looks great!

I can see the light…..

At almost 2 months exactly, we are finally in the home stretch. While I would love to say it was a fairly simple process, I’d be lying. Big time. It’s very stressful and aggravating when you are basically living out of one room and your home is in a constant state of chaos. I think, if you really want to test a relationship, live through a renovation ;). Thankfully, we made it through and are super excited to christen the cooktop and start doing the dishes in the kitchen and not the basement!

The floors are amazing. Originally we were going to go with a lighter color, but when we went to look in the store, I saw these ones and thought they would look good with the gray cabinets. I was right! They definitely warm up the space and I love the red tone with the gray and how it picks up the red in the brick.

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And the countertops also went in recently! This is what really enhanced the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s amazing how much more counter space we have now. We even created a breakfast bar so that we can grab a quick bite in the morning or for dinner when it’s just the two of us. The overhang is in the first view you see below. I had thought to do on the other side where the countertop is longer, but I felt it would disrupt the flow of the kitchen since that is the space the oven opens up into. There was more floor space on the side that it’s at now.  You might also notice the french door by the windows. We originally had a solid door there and because that is where our pantry is, were going to leave it open. However, in thinking about it, it does tend to get cold in the winter in that hallway, so we decided to put in a french door since it will still give the space an openness, but keep the cold out. Now to find stools….

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French Door


Also, a little addition I created to cover the electrical panel. We could have put the panel on the opposite side of the wall (which is the master bedroom), but I just felt it was easier to hide in the kitchen versus the bedroom. About 6 months ago I came across a kitchen towel at Sure La Table that I loved. It showed almost all the different shaped pastas out there and was in Italian (fiance being Italian, this makes sense). I was going to eventually frame it and hang it on the chimney, but it ended up being a perfect size to cover the electrical panel I love the colors too.

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The only major task that remains is the backsplash behind the sink and cooktop. The rest is more cosmetic tasks, ie painting, trim work, hardware,  hooking up the plumbing  😉




After watching videos, reading blogs, hits & misses, cabinets are in!

After much blood, sweat and very little tears, but some thrown tools, all the cabinets are in!

I have to say, Ikea cabinets, could use a little more instruction. Not only that, but having to go back 5 times for missing and damaged pieces was definitely not fun. You most assuredly, need to watch the youtube videos out there and would suggest joining the IkeaFans blog, too. However, once you get the hang of it, it does move along a bit smoother. And at this point, I could probably have a second career installing. I will admit, I was surprised at how sturdy and strong the cabinets are. I was a little worried that they would be as flimsy as some of the bookcases, but that was definitely not the case. I would also make sure you save all the instruction booklets. Some may seem repetitive, but depending on the cabinet style you chose (full drawer pull outs versus drawer pullouts) the instructions will be towards the back on how to attache drawers and doors differently for each style. Sounds confusing, but just save them all :)!

In hindsight, there are definitely things I would change. I didn’t realize the cover panels we as thick as they were, so I should have taken that into consideration with my planning. Luckily in the one area where it makes the most difference, you can’t really tell. The other thing, is because the cabinets have legs versus solid base, I probably would have put the floor in first. That would have also given me another 1/2 inch of height in the cabinets, and every little bit helps.

Otherwise, I am pretty happy overall with how the layout panned out. We ended up order a bit more countertop on one side to create a place where we could pull up a couple stools and eat. Since we changed the original layout a bit, it took away the eat-in-kitchen, so this gives us that back in a way. I prefer to eat in the dining room, but for a quick bite to eat or even breakfast, it will be nice to just eat in the kitchen.

There are still some finishing touches that need to be completed, ie crown moulding, base moulding, toe-kicks, but being able to move everything out of the dining room and put into cabinets was a huge relief to me.


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One drawer is missing because it was damaged and had to replace it. It’s been since added

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Our new coffee bar cabinet!

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These cabinets that wrap around the chimney, gives us so much more counter space. I can’t wait to take advantage of it!

PS. I do love the way the chimney outlets look!!

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We will be covering the space above the microwave with a filler piece. The space above the fridge, I am probably going to leave, but put a basket with towels on it?

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The cleanest the oven will ever be again 🙂


The floors have started to go in as well and look beautiful! I will share those pictures later!


And the cabinet nightmare/sweet dream begins……

There should really be a warning and a book handed out when you purchase your Ikea cabinets. Now, I did hear from some people that you should definitely google instructions and/or hire a professional when installing. Since we are both pretty handy (and they charge $100 per cabinet to install), I figured we could handle it.  That is, until 143 boxes showed up for 14 cabinets. Not a mistype, 143 boxes. That is because each item is packaged separately, right down to the hardware. Thankfully we had room in our basement for all of them, since we were going to originally put them in the dining room or porch.

So two important notes-

1. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK OFF EVERYTHING, when the delivery comes. All the boxes have the corresponding 8 digit item number on the outside of the box. Make sure you keep track as they are unloading (since we opted for the delivery) or as the guys are bringing them out of the back and loading them on your cart (if you choose to pick up yourself). We ended up with pieces missing and some items damaged.

2. YOU ONLY HAVE 48 HOURS TO REPORT damaged or missing items. Now, we went about 50 hours or so, but they still took care of everything, I just wouldn’t push it with any longer. The pieces that were damaged, we may have gotten away with still using as it was the ends of the toe kicks, but to me, you paid for brand new, undamaged items, so that is what you should start with. It took a few days for the new pieces to arrive and they took the damaged ones with them. That process was a bit of a pain and can’t say I was thrilled with the delivery company, but I think overall, generally speaking, they were fine.

What Ikea also isn’t very clear about in their instructions is that the toe kick is also your filler piece and the crown molding and the bottom molding of the wall cabinets, are the same you just flip them when using on the top to the bottom. Again, I would HIGHLY recommend youtubing video of cabinet installation where it will all make more sense, from how to install the paneling (you screw in from the inside of the cabinet using the pre-drilled holes) to how to add the filler pieces. I would skip the official Ikea one, as just like the instructions, they don’t really talk you through it and basically just show pictures of it put together.

You will need to have some carpentry skills and a good table saw with a finished blade. I would also suggest picking up drywall screws and anchors. They are not included and unless you are a magical genius, some of your cabinets will not hit studs and you want to make sure they are secure to the walls.

I will say, once you figure out how it all goes together, the process of assembly is much easier. BUT WATCH THE VIDEOS FIRST.


The other thing that did not come with the delivery was the countertop. Since we opted for Quartz, that has to be done separately and they give you the name and number of the company to call when you are about 2/3rds of the way done to set up an appointment for them to come out and measure. I think, it’s probably about a two week lead time. This is where we messed up, somewhat because at this point, we will have all the cabinets up and won’t have countertops until the end of August. I am not sure there was much we could have done to expedited that since we had to wait for walls to go up, plaster to dry, etc… Perhaps if we weren’t renovating on a part-time basis we could have had the cabinets assembled….but can’t change that now.

What I did want to make sure of is that I spaced everything correctly, so we did end up assembling a few to make sure the plumbing and electrical would fit the way we set it up in the plans. Yes, I am awesome like that and everything ended up being perfect and we have two inches of play on the sink wall. Which is amazing since I really didn’t know how the walls would turn out. The old cabinets, they ended up having to notch the wall to get them to fit. But with the removal of all the old plaster, we gained some footage in both ceiling height (went from 8′ to 8′ 4″ )and the length of the sink wall (7’11’ to 8’2″). I have to say, that 100% made my day.

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Lining up of the base cabinets. From left to right there will be, the cooktop cabinet, a pull out trash cabinet, the sink cabinet and 3 drawer cabinet.


Because of the delay in the countertops, my plan now is to just get everything assembled, hung/attached and get the floors in. Counterops will now be the last thing to go in (well actually the pendant lights we ordered will be last since they don’t arrive until October!). The wall with the fridge, oven and microwave can be fully assembled because there will be no countertops there. So at least we can use the microwave and oven.


Another note when installing the cabinets, double check your hanging height. The only thing I failed to take into account was the hanging height. I thought the tall cabinets next to the fridge were 88″ total, they are actually 95″ taking into account the legs of the cabinet!. So, when we measured to hang the wall cabinets, I wanted the top to also be 88″ to match the tall cabinets, which is how they were first hung. We will now have to change that to the 95″. Thankfully we gained that ceiling height so there is some room on the top of the cabinet. It was a minor error (to me anyway because I wasn’t the one hanging them;) ), as the cabinets could have gone all the way to the ceiling and looked just as good. We are adding lighting inside the wall cabinets though, so having that extra couple inches helps.

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I also went with the Benjamin Moore Intense White over the Revere Pewter, which just ended up being too dark for the look I was going for.

I will update as the process continues. We took a break today to get the screws that aren’t supplied  and to pick up an extra panel we didn’t realize we needed.


Until then……



Walls make everything alright!

As we are entering week 5 of this renovation, I was starting to get bummed out it was taking so long. I am aware of the rule, “Twice as much and 3x’s as long” or is that “Twice as long and 3x’s as much”, either way, when you are living it, it can get depressing not really seeing any progress. That is, until the walls go up!

This was a discussion that I wasn’t really party to. Now, I am of the sheetrock, prime it and paint it. Apparently, my other half is of the sheetrock, plaster, prime and paint. I think where it’s a kitchen and most of the walls will have cabinets covering them, it was a place we could have saved money and not plastered, however I didn’t have the final say. Hindsight? Skip plastering a kitchen, except the ceiling maybe. That said, it may be worth having a professional sheetrock and tape your seams, unless you have some experience with that. I did have a little, but I know my strengths and weaknesses and that is definitely one of the weaknesses.

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Sheetrock hung!

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Plastering starts!

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Plastering finished! I will concede the walls do look amazing and the guys did an AMAZING job. They protected my chimney and that seam where the chimney meets the ceiling couldn’t have been more perfect. I was originally going to add crown molding to the top, but now I am just going to leave as is, it came out that good. McCues were the guys we used (yes same family as the nurseries).


Oh, and I am sneaking in a picture of the finished chimney because I am so proud of the way it came out. But I don’t think I will ever do that again ;). It was sealed with one coat to protect it, which I would recommend, unless you want that shine look, then add multiple coats. It goes on pretty easily with one of those 3 inch rollers.

Chimney 6


Next step, assembling and mounting of cabinets!!!!