Home Update (a few years late)

Before I talk about the most recent renovations that have been completed, I figured I should back up and start with the most pivotal one: my own home! Back when I first bought it in 2017, I made a post on the Stevie blog about my “new” (old) home and the updates I wanted to make to it. Reading back on it now, I was surprised to see that I stayed pretty true to my ideas. A few things changed and I ended up doing a bit more to it than I imagined, but isn’t that always the way with renovations?!

I’ve really been loving the process of designing and seeing what it can do for a space. I say designing because I feel that “decorating” can sometimes lead to the cluttered, anti-minimalism mess that I’m trying to avoid. I don’t want to fill a room with stuff, but rather to refresh the design and the elements and let that set the tone. However, my journey into minimalism is still new and my home is far from perfect and completely clear of clutter. I have no doubt that writing this post will make me realize a few things I could do without 😉

Let’s dive in!

Kitchen & Dining Room

This is one area that I ended up putting a lot more work into than I had planned. Remember how I said the cabinets weren’t a priority? Well, they were! Remember how I said I wasn’t going to move walls? Well, I did! But it all worked out and the kitchen is a lovely, open space that is very functional for what I need. But it didn’t start out that way…

Let’s start with the pantry: the very tiny laundry room was just off of the kitchen, while the pantry was way over in the dining room! Or was it another closet? I guess we’ll never know, but either way it was not a convenient place to put food. So, we moved back the wall in the laundry room, taking space from the outside water heater closet and making a perfectly convenient pantry area right off of the kitchen. I added a raw wood shelving unit from IKEA and voila – an easily accessible pantry. It can be sealed off from the kitchen by this amazing barn door, and also helps to block out noise when the washer or dryer is running.

The original pantry (or is it a closet?! this will haunt me) was turned into a small dry bar space. This is something I somewhat regret, although I’m not sure what else I would have done with it. There’s already a coat closet in the living room, two hall closets, and a closet in each bedroom! These people sure had a lot of spaces to hide their stuff that they probably didn’t need. So instead I removed the door and frame and made this into a cute little space with some open shelving and a cabinet to store my more fancy serving ware, which I have used exactly once since I moved in almost two years ago. I think I’m starting to realize an idea that needs to be minimized…my next home will definitely NOT have a bar. But for now, it’s a nice way to fill in the space and display some little details – like my bridesmaid bouquet from my beautiful friend Kalia’s wedding! (she’s one of the only people who reads this, hi sweet girl!)

Before (I really wish they had left the motorized scooter)…and after!

In the kitchen I stayed pretty true to predictions – subway tile, quartz countertops, matte black hardware, a small amount of open shelving and a beautiful gray floor tile all went into this kitchen. I did end up replacing the doors of the cabinets to give them a refresh without spending a ton of money on brand new cabinets. These were in great shape, just a little outdated, so the new doors were a perfect compromise. We also took off that one random loner cabinet to open it up for some cute open shelves in the kitchen. I’m not brave enough to go full open-shelving yet, but this was a good way to test it out!

I had a lot of fun in the kitchen because I really got to dig into the renovating myself. In previous homes, I was involved in deciding the changes, but never really got to get my hands dirty. It sounds kind of strange to say I enjoyed spending hours scraping aged wallpaper from the dining room, but when I see what it’s become since then, I love knowing that I had a hand in that! Plus, I got to use power tools for the first time! My friend Trevor from high school is a contractor now, and he does amazing work. He was kind enough to let me help with demo and even let me use the power tools to help take down tile and old drywall – it was so much fun!

Furnishings for the dining room have been pretty straightforward: a mid-century modern table & chairs, plus an antique credenza that I rescued from my aunt & uncle’s home after they passed away. It doesn’t hold much, but it’s one of my favorite things in the house. Right now it’s full of candles that I’m slowly working my way through, a few decks of cards (I’m really not sure why), and on top is my record player and scant library of records (mostly Christmas albums, if I’m being honest…). The kitchen & dining room is next on my list to declutter, so we’ll see what makes the cut!

Living Area

The living room is one of my favorite places in the house, colorful and full of plants like a little oasis. I can usually be found curled up on the couch, lately watching home improvement shows on Netflix and working on my cross-stitch projects. It is so comfortable, with beautiful diffused light and the perfect calming atmosphere. But when I first turned the keys to this 70s beauty, the living room had old, musty carpet, rattling single pane windows and low popcorn ceilings. While I can’t change the height of the ceilings, the rest of it all had to go, starting with the popcorn ceilings. It’s amazing how scraping off just a 1/4 of an inch can make the ceilings look so much taller!

I added can lights and replaced those junky windows to decrease outside noise and cut my electricity bills in half. It was one of the more expensive improvements to the home, but definitely worth it for energy efficiency and future resale value! The living room and master bedroom face the street, so having some separation from the noise was absolutely a necessity. The gross carpet was ripped out and replaced with a beautiful floating laminate floor that flows throughout the rest of the living spaces in the house.

I went with laminate over hardwood because of the dogs – they can run their little toenails all over and throw their toys around without me having to worry about it scratching the floors! Plus they make great laminate options now that don’t look cheap or like fake wood, so it’s a great affordable choice if you don’t want the added maintenance of hardwood floors but want the look of beautiful wood throughout your home.

Last but not least, I painted the entire house white. Yep, the whole thing. Ceilings, walls, and trim were all a stark white. After living in my tiny, dark apartment for a year, I was really looking for a way to open up and brighten the space, and white walls was an easy way to do that. Plus, it allowed me versatility with decor – I could change up any pops of color in the decor without worrying that it would clash with the walls.

However, I did end up finally painting a few accent walls after I had lived in the space for a while. I got swept up in the Farrow & Ball craze, and chose their Hague Blue to paint an accent wall in both the living room and master bedroom. A gallon was just enough to paint both walls – this paint goes on thick so I was surprised that I only got two walls out of it! However the color is absolutely perfect, and I would definitely use their paints again. All of their colors are so rich and beautiful, and I love that there are only 132 colors, instead of thousands! This helped me get out of my “analysis paralysis” – it is so hard choosing between hundreds of shades of paint that all look almost exactly the same.

Finally, I added my furnishings and the living room was finished! The living room is full of trial and error pieces (mostly error, to be honest) because I bought most of the furniture before I was even living in the house. I was excited and really jumped the gun. I wish I would have lived in it more first to see what would work best for my day-to-day life. For example: in the future, I think I will go with a less clutter-inducing entertainment center. It looks amazing up next to the F&B wall, but all of the open shelves for someone who is trying to cut down on clutter just doesn’t work. And there’s the couch; while I love love love the look & color, it is decidedly NOT pet-friendly. Hair sticks to this thing like no other, and 98% of the time it is covered in blankets to keep it safe from the dogs. I think next time I would go with a more pet-friendly fabric or maybe a faux leather sofa.

Some things that do work: this gold 70s plant shelf that I found at Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market. It is one of my favorite furniture / decoration pieces that I have ever owned, and I love displaying the plants right next to the window. The beautiful piano came from my aunt & uncle’s house, and I’m really looking forward to sitting down and learning how to play – it’s always been a dream of mine! Still looking for the perfect bench, though. And of course I love this poster: it’s a constant, daily reminder to strive for quality (in all things), and that less is more.

The remodel in its entirety for this house took a little over three months – but we were very lucky in not hitting any major structural snags, it was nearly all cosmetic. I can’t wait for the next project, and my Pinterest boards are already filling up with ideas for the next place and how we can make it our own. Or, dare I dream – build it?!


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