James kitchen remodel

Are you ready for a dramatic transformation? I sure hope so, because this project is one of my biggest transformations to date. Designing the remodel of this space for my friends/clients (frients with a long I, maybe?) was really such a joy!

Above is the before picture and below are a couple of pictures taken during the remodel.

The original kitchen was cramped with two narrow islands that did not accommodate my clients and their large family.

We moved the refrigerator from it’s original space to create a more fluid work triangle. The sink remained under the beautiful double window and we replaced the two small islands with one beast of an island with cabinets on the front and on the back. 

We opted to replace the tile flooring with a high quality luxury vinyl plank because this kitchen and living room area is adjacent to an outdoor pool. The LVP that we selected has a limestone core and is extremely durable in high traffic, and sometimes wet areas. It is the most wood-like LVP that I’ve found and I had lots of help from my friends at ProSource with finding just the right flooring.

For the cabinets, we chose to paint the surrounding cabinets white and stain the island a natural shade of wood. This combination could not have turned out any better. For the backsplash, we went with an understated, textured subway tile that’s classic and timeless with just a hint of shimmer. My client LOVES her workstation sink, as well as her GE monogram 48” double oven and range.

We used a mixture of hardware, being careful to keep scale and functionality in mind. For the countertops, we went with a neutral builders’ grade granite. Granite is really an unsung hero in the kitchen world. It can handle heat, water, oil and a whole bunch of abuse. Plus, the builders’ grade price is a serious value. 

My clients also opted to add a few special features to the cabinetry, as shown in the videos below. 

This remodel, from start to finish, took several months and lots and lots of phone calls, meetings and texts with my clients. It was absolutely worth it in every way. I enjoyed being around my clients and their sweet family. Seeing them enjoying their newly designed kitchen is just icing on the cake!

Tuesday Tip: Pantry Organization Step by Step

My hubby and I spent some time decluttering and reorganizing our pantry over the weekend. I love a good before and after, so here are a couple of very rough before photos taken straight from my Instagram stories.

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Step 1: We unloaded each shelf, one or two shelves at a time. I didn’t empty the entire contents of the pantry all in one fell swoop. The goal of this project was to create more peace and organization. I knew that if I unloaded the entire pantry and covered every single space of my kitchen and dining room with the items from the pantry, I’d get overwhelmed. First, I took out all the cookbooks and went through them. I wiped down the cookbook shelves and put the cookbooks back. Next, I took all our paper plates, plastic cups, and basically any disposable product out of the pantry and organized them. I wiped down the shelves where they had been stored and put them back.

Step 2: We went through each group of items that we’d removed from the pantry. We dedicated one area of our kitchen as a space to put things that will be donated and placed unused items there. As we worked, Justin would bag things up from this area and take the bags to the garage to eventually donate. We were snowed in during this project. We would typically put the bags of items to donate directly in the back of my van so that I could donate them as soon as possible. That little trick actually helps me a ton. I really don’t like having random bags in the back of my van, which motivates me to take care of donations quickly.

Step 3: We wiped down the shelves and bins that were holding the items we’d gone through. I honestly didn’t think I’d do this at first. I like to think I’m a fairly clean person and felt that I was maybe a bit above needing to wipe out the shelves of my pantry. Pride comes before a fall…the shelves and bins needed to be cleaned out in a bad way!

Step 4: We put everything back in a way that functions well and looks good. This final step is key! To help your storage space make sense, it’s good to group similar items together. I try to keep canned goods, glass bottles and condiments all on one shelf, but in separate groupings. Storing all of my baking supplies in one space brings great efficiency to my pantry. I love these Sterlite bins for open storage, these Oxo containers for baking supplies and this set of chalk markers and labels to keep it all labeled. If you have some serving pieces that you’d like to see, put them on shelves that you can see when you open the door. I stored my cake plate, a vintage cake carrier, some family heirloom wine glasses and a glass trifle dish on my top shelf so that I can see them whenever the pantry door is open. What I don’t see every time I open the door, are two shelves stacked with not-so-pretty large storage containers that I use often. I like that they’re easily accessible, but they’re not in my direct line of sight. We also keep our microwave on one of the side shelves of our pantry. This is purely a personal preference, but it’s a big priority for me and I’ve had my microwave in the pantry of all our homes. I like being able to use it fairly easily, but I don’t want to lose counter space, or over the oven space to a microwave.

Finally, there are a few things that my husband and I do to help us stay on the path to productivity when taking on a big project like this. First, we really try to start early in the day so that we can finish the project by dinnertime, or even bedtime that night. I don’t know about you, but a cleaning project that takes multiple days is not my cup of tea. Secondly, we each take breaks as we go. Our kiddos were in the kitchen just a chitty-chatting with us during this entire process. We both needed to step away from time to time so that we could have patience with the kids and get back to work with renewed energy.

Another thing that really helps me to stay sane and productive when doing projects at home is to not compare my home to others. My home doesn’t need to look like the cover of a magazine. I do love the look of a perfectly appointed pantry, with every single thing decanted and in matching bougie bottles, but that’s just not my reality. I have four kids who are all learning to cook right now. I often cook three homemade, from scratch meals on the daily. I don’t have the time or energy to stop them and say, “oh honey, please empty that dried pasta into the breakable container that’s labeled in Italian, okay?” Maybe that will be my reality someday. When I’m an empty-nester, you can all come and look at my pantry and ask me how I made it so perfect. I’ll tell you that it’s because the kids moved out and quit needing all our money and emotional energy. And one final tip on how to get a big ole project like this done is to try to laugh and have a good time. I know that sounds so cheesy, but it’s true! There are plenty of stressful moments, just ask our kids, but we’ve found that if we can laugh at and with each other, we have more fun and are more productive. Here’s the final after shot of our pantry clean out. Drop me a comment below and share any tips that help you conquer the big projects in your home!

A Weekend at the Cottage on Second

A couple of my girlfriends came into town this weekend for a very belated birthday weekend. We stayed at our dear friends, Mike and Belinda’s, Airbnb in downtown Bentonville. This place was just perfect for our girl weekend! 

The front porch is the perfect place to sit and relax. It was really cold, so we stayed inside a good bit. We did venture out for a walk to downtown Bentonville from the cottage. The location is perfect…when we walked downtown we saw lots of beautiful homes, shops and the best restaurants. 

I love the curated and collected look of this space. Belinda took her time putting the house together and it’s just absolutely lovely.

The house itself is really great for a group. The house has window after window after window, so we just felt like we were all in the most peaceful and beautiful space. Belinda had fresh flowers and plants throughout the house. 

All the bedrooms and living spaces are so well set up. We really loved cozying up in the upstairs living room and talking. I highly recommend staying here if you’re looking for a getaway in a beautiful home. You can go to this link to book the cottage. Let me know if you end up staying there and please tell Belinda that I sent ya!

Instant Guest Bedroom

When we bought this house, I knew the bonus room would be the perfect multi-purpose space. There is a bathroom off the bonus room, as well as beautiful windows, plenty of space to lounge around and a door for privacy. With four kids at home and my hubby working from home, I knew that having a designated guest room probably wasn’t an option. This space really lacks nothing and I can’t wait to show it to you!

We have company coming in from out of town this weekend to help me with some organizational projects post move. Ironically, the room needing the most help is the bonus room which doubles as our guest space. I put all the random lamps and pictures to the side and made up the guest bed. I wanted a guest bed that felt sturdy and like a real bed, but had the convenience of an air mattress as far as storage goes.

Enter, my space saving solution! I bought two of these bed frames. They collapse and open as easily as a card table, and they’re very solid! We have two extra twin mattresses that we use on the bed. One of these is stored in the attic (located just off the guest room)  and my husband uses the other in his office. The bedframe in his office is an antique and requires a box spring and a regular mattress. We got rid of the box spring years ago, so we use several slats and two regular mattresses and it works great!

I bought this thick, gel foam mattress topper and this mattress pad to add cushion and to unite the two mattresses. I read reviews and found these sheets on Amazon and they are very soft! I also bought two feather pillows and two regular pillows. The comforter was a TJ Maxx find, but this blanket is very similar. The euro-shams are a very old Bed Bath and Beyond find and the blanket at the foot of the bed was crocheted by my sister. The smallest side table is from TJ Maxx and the larger is from Lighting Emporium. Both lamps are old Target finds.

A few must haves for me in a guest room are plenty of pillows, a couple comfortable blankets, soft sheets, and a nightstand with a lamp. I’m excited to provide this cozy space for our guests! If you’re curious about what the rest of this room looks like, here ya go. I told you it needed work!

Creating a Welcoming Guest Room

A few weeks ago, I spent a few days with some dear friends while traveling with three of my kids. The entire time I was staying in their home, I felt so relaxed. Traveling with kiddos can certainly be stressful, but this trip was remarkably smooth. As I was driving back home, I started thinking about why my stay was so delightful. I truly enjoyed the time with our precious friends. They made the kids and I feel so welcome and comfortable. I think much of what made the trip so lovely was the guest room where I stayed.

A few things really made the room stand out in my mind. The bed was comfortable and had plenty of pillows and blankets. The sheets were soft and there was a basket near the bed with extra blankets. Nightstands and lamps within easy reach of the bed were a huge plus.

The room was uncluttered. As you can see in the pictures, the room was not at all sparse, but plenty of spaces are left open. I stayed in the cutest bed and breakfast with a bestie a while ago. It had so many knick knacks that we couldn’t find our own things amongst the decor. Having uncluttered spaces to put my jewelry, toiletries and clothes was a game changer for me!

This one is really personal preference, but having window coverings that kept the room dark at night and let light in during the day was surprisingly pleasant. I shared the room with my 8 year old son, so darkening the room at night was essential. When we woke up in the morning, it was so nice to open the blinds and look outside. 

The ensuite bathroom was amazing and fully stocked with fluffy towels and toiletries. Having a bathroom so close was really convenient, especially since I was sharing the room with my little guy. A couple of years ago, my Mom and my Nana came to stay with us for a weekend. I mentioned to them that we were looking for a house. My Nana immediately piped up and said, “Try to find a house with a guest bathroom!” I laughed and laughed. Who doesn’t want to share a bathroom with four kids? 😉

In the stage of life with a houseful of kiddos, I don’t have a designated guest room. But, staying here really helped me see how I can make the room where our guests stay more accommodating and comfortable. When you’re traveling, what makes you feel comfortable? Drop me a comment and let me know!

We Bought A House!!

Big news, y’all! We bought a house! Before I dive into the details of how we managed to find a house during a nationwide house shortage, here’s a brief overview:

A friend of ours mentioned to us that a mutual friend was planning to build a house and sell his current  house, which happens to be in one of our fave neighborhoods. We saw the house, made an offer, and closed on it today. The sellers will rent the house from us till late November, which is the projected completion date for their new home. Didja catch all that? 

Here’s how it went down, for those of you, like me, who love the details and a good story. We moved to northwest Arkansas about five years ago. When we moved here, our kids were pretty  young and we’d been homeschooling them for several years. We transitioned to a university model school once we moved here, which meant that our kids would be in school two to three days a week and homeschooled the remaining days. Our house is twenty-ish minutes from our school, which I didn’t think would be a big deal to me. I was used to homeschooling full time and spending the majority of my days at home. But, the drive ended up being a really, really big deal to me. Within a year of making this drive several times a week, and often three to five times a day, I knew that we needed to move closer to school. When we bought our current house, we’d planned on renovating it to make the floorplan to work better for our family. Justin and I  eventually decided to only modify the kitchen, since we knew our days in this house were numbered. After months of praying and talking and trying to make this house and location work, my husband and I decided that we would list our house and start actively looking for a house in Spring of 2020. Right about the time we were ready to get the ball rolling, the lockdowns began. We weren’t comfortable making plans to buy and sell a home during such an uncertain time, so we put our plans on hold indefinitely. 

While we were waiting, I was looking at homes on zillow like an obsessed house stalker. I drove through neighborhoods and approached the owners of homes I liked and gave them my contact information. I prayer-walked circles around our current house asking for God’s direction and provision. I made a list of what we wanted in our next home and prayed through it often. I even had a couple dear friends praying specifically through the same list. We thought we’d found a lot to build on, but the increasing building prices put a halt to that in a hurry. We thought we’d found a house that would work, and we even made an offer on it, but it fell through during negotiations. It seemed like we were in a holding pattern for months and months. I would see a house I loved and it would immediately go off the market. I even joked with our realtor that I was a magnet for unavailable houses.  I waffled between resting in God’s timing and provision and, in my lowest (and most dramatic) moments, feeling like He’d forgotten about us. 

This past April, we were sharing our discouragement about the house situation with our community group when one of our friends mentioned that a mutual friend would eventually have a house to sell. As soon as we got home from community group, I asked Justin to reach out to our mutual friend and ask him about his house. He immediately responded and even sent us a floorplan from when the house was originally built.  Once I saw the floorplan, I knew this house was a good option for us. We looked up an old zillow listing and could see from the old pictures that the house had all the spaces we wanted and a really good layout. I was already very familiar with this neighborhood because it’s located close to school and church and it has so many things I was looking for in a neighborhood…a pool, park, walking trails, and close access to the Razorback greenway, just to name a few. Justin and I had a few days to think about the house before we went to see it. Justin came up with the idea of proposing to the sellers that we would buy the house from them now and they could rent it back from us while their new house was being built. We talked this over with our realtor and she agreed that it was a great idea due to the current low interest rates and the fact that our offer would likely be appealing to the sellers. We set up a time to see the house and we loved it. After walking through the house, we sat on the back porch with the owners (the sweetest people ever, btw) and chatted for about an hour. We pitched our idea to them and made a verbal offer. I was a nervous wreck as I was the one doing most of the talking, and Justin and I hadn’t exactly agreed to make an offer that day, which is just a little tiny detail. Oops? I felt like the time was right, so I went for it! Later on that day, Justin and I talked and he assured me that I was not in trouble for making an offer. I was relieved! I’m still laughing over this. After a few negotiations with the sellers, we set a closing date and the rest is history. 

Our current plan is to list our house later this Summer or early Fall and move into our new house by the end of November. If you know someone who is wanting to move to northwest Arkansas, send them my way and I’ll connect them with our realtor. In the meantime, we’ll spend the summer swimming at our neighborhood pool in our new ‘hood and making design boards for our new space like the true house stalker that I am. I can’t wait to share our new place with all of you once we move in. Out of respect for the sellers, who have been the kindest, most accommodating people, we won’t be showing any interior pictures for now. 

If you’re looking for a house in this crazy market and feeling discouraged, I hope our story gives you a glimmer of hope. We prayed and prayed and prayed for this house over the course of about 3 years. If you’re praying for a house too, reach out to me and I’ll be happy to pray for you, too. God worked out every single detail of this process and we are deeply grateful for His provision and timing.