Heights House Powder Bath

Some of you may have caught a few glimpses of our DIY progress in this room on my Instagram stories over the past several months, but it’s one space in this house I haven’t shared yet… until today!

Here’s how it looked earlier this year when the house was still under construction:

And here was the design plan I came up with:

After the floors and trim were in, Lucas and I installed the wallpaper. I didn’t save any photos of this process and I’ll say it was by far the most challenging wallpaper installation we’ve done because it wrapped around the whole room. I’m just glad our marriage survived the ordeal 😉

Fortunately, this pattern is extremely forgiving and you don’t notice all the areas we had to slice into unless they’re pointed out!

The other major player in this space is the vanity. For weeks I looked for the perfectly sized vintage dresser, and finally found it on Craigslist for a bargain (diligence pays off!)

I sanded it down and refinished it with Maison Blanche‘s Wrought Iron vintage furniture paint which gives it a super rich velvety finish, and sealed with Maison Blanche’s clear antique wax.

I also kept the original wood knobs and gave them a couple coats of Rustoleum Metallic gold spray paint, which I believe is the most realistic gold shade in a can (I did my research!)

For an added layer of dimension and protection, I wiped on a bit of gold rub n buff as well (that stuff is my new favorite find, I’ll have to do a blog post all about it!)

To convert the dresser into a vanity, I opted for an undermount sink (because of the taller height) so we had to cut out the center of the top two drawers to accommodate the plumbing. Easy work with our dremel.

Then we had a custom top and backsplash made from white quartz (I arranged this through my builder’s stone guy). I was able to show him inspiration photos, give him the dimensions and he did the rest.

And then came the wall mounted faucet of my dreams (the price dropped $80 since I bought it earlier this year—still worth every penny!)

Tip: if you’re building a new home… make sure to plan out all of your plumbing BEFORE the rough-in stage! We had to pay to redo the plumbing in this room because I decided on a wall mounted setup after the fact. Sigh…. but #noregrets.

I saved money with a $41 sink, then splurged a little for my favorite handsome toilet (of course).

A few more little details, and this room is done!

The very last piece was just installed last week—our custom linen roman shade from JCPenney of all places. This is the fourth one I’ve purchased and I’m obsessed with them (especially for the price!)

I’m a huge fan of classic toile, and I think powder baths are the perfect place for it.

You can barely see it peeking through in the next photo, but I found this great vintage style pendant light for only $90:

I love the way the vanity turned out, too. Refinishing dressers are the easiest way to save money and add character—win-win!

One of my favorite things in this room is the Anthropologie mirror. I’d been eyeing it for months and actually received it as a gift from a client!

This room is really all about the small details, like the 9″ Emtek door handles used throughout the house (you can read more about our door hardware in this post).

Another budget buy was the $15 Amazon towel ring and $20 wrought iron TP holder.

I love using these amber bottles for hand soap—I bought several to use in multiple bathrooms. The vase was a $1 thrift store find!

These vintage framed drawings were also a thrift store find from years ago.

I think that covers everything!

What’s your favorite detail?


Trim: SW Pure White

Vanity: Vintage, Maison Blanche Wrought Iron paint






Pendant light

Window shade


TP holder

Towel holder

Amber soap dispenser

Artwork & vase: thrifted

Next on the blog: our new smart home features plus living room design plans!

Updates: Riverside Retreat Progress + Motherhood

I’ve been meaning to share updates on our progress at the Riverside Retreat, but we’ve been a bit preoccupied with a newborn and trying to figure out our new normal. We’ve hired out some help and have been DIYing the rest, but we are wayyy behind our original schedule to complete this house as priorities have shifted.

I had so much more time and energy when I was 9 months pregnant, ha! I’m trying not to beat myself up about it as I know one day this will all be a distant memory, but it’s always tough when you’re in the thick of renovations with seemingly no end in sight.

Fortunately, things are wrapping up soon with our new master bathroom! Weeks ago I shared our Blue Lagoon Design Plan:

Quick recap—this is a tiny master bathroom we’ve created from scratch by adding walls in an adjacent bathroom and bedroom:

When I say tiny, I mean the smallest room I’ve ever worked with—33 square feet and just large enough for a pedestal sink, toilet and shower. But what it lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in personality!

Before bringing this bathroom to life, first thing was first: building a new closet from scratch:

Followed by a complete remodel of the main bathroom:

Over the summer we made (slow) progress on the new master bathroom, and I’m happy to say we’re nearing the finish line. There are no before photos to share since this room didn’t exist, but here’s Day 1 of demo, opening up the wall in the old bathroom (you can see the master bedroom window on the left):

Here’s the view from inside the bedroom, looking into the open space that would become both bathrooms:

A lot of work needed to be done, including repairing the foundation, replacing joists, running all new plumbing and electric. We basically had to start from scratch. Once all the not-so-fun demo stage was over, it was time to start adding walls! First up was the wall separating the bedroom (you can see the opening for the door on the left and new closet on the right).

Followed by the walls to separate this bathroom from the main bathroom…

We also opted to add a 2’x4′ window to let in some much needed light and prevent this small room from feeling like a closet.

Next came the floors…

A shower curb was constructed and hardi-backer hung…

We ran into a situation with the plumbing for the sink, and our installer decided it would be best to construct a 2×4″ frame rather than break into the block wall to recess it. We opted to limit the bumpout to just behind the vanity, as we couldn’t afford to lose 4″ of wall space in this already cramped bathroom.

Fortunately, it ended up working out quite nicely because it gave me the idea to run a shelf ledge all the way across the back wall for much needed storage.

Our Cloe blue tile covers the wall below the shelf ledge, and continues floor to ceiling on the back wall and around the shower.

Drywall/backer board install is always one of the most exciting parts, when you can finally get a sense of space!

While the size makes it difficult to capture much in one photo, we were pleasantly surprised to find the room didn’t feel as cramped as we’d imagined in person.

The next big milestone: tile! These pebble tiles require some artistic ability to install, as you have to constantly step back and rearrange individual stones to avoid seeing the seams.

Fortunately, grouting does help to minimize the lines and even things out. We used Mapei sanded grout in Alabaster.

Next came the statement-making Cloe tile…

We used the same Alabaster grout here to help blend the tiles a bit.

We also installed the shelf ledge across the vanity wall to provide some counter space. I plan to stain the wood in a light-medium tone (still deciding on the color).

The small pedestal sink ended up being the perfect size, and how bout those lovely swans?!

I’m digging it.

We still need to finish the trim, paint, hang the mirror and light and artwork, install the shower faucet/drains, shower curtain, hooks and accessories.

This room is nearly impossible to photograph even with a wide angle, so you’ll just have to come see it in person 😉 The Cloe tile is absolutely gorgeous in real life—perfectly imperfect with a lovely translucent quality.

I’ll have to share a video tour in my Instagram stories so you can get a better sense of the space once it’s finished. Watch for that in the coming weeks!

Next up is the kitchen…

It’s not looking like much right now, but we’re slowly getting there. I shared the design plans in this post and our progress in this post. Since then we installed the butcher block counters:

And tested out green paint swatches for the lower cabinets.

These were the Valspar test samples I used for the main bathroom since I already had them on hand, and I was most drawn to #3 (Valspar Alpine Top). However, cabinets require special paint and after much research, I opted to use Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint which is made for cabinets. Valspar also has a cabinet enamel which I’ve heard good things about, and I would have gone that route, except they only offer it in a semi-gloss finish. Come on, Valspar! I prefer to use satin, so Benjamin Moore it is.

I went to my local Ben Moore and picked up a sample of their closest color match, Peale Green. It’s the HC-121 swatch on the bottom right.

Here’s Peale Greene painted on the front sample board, next to Valspar’s Alpine Top (#3). It’s a bit more olive and not quite as saturated as Alpine Top, but I don’t mind. I’m not trying to match a specific color exactly, so I’d rather stick with an off-the-shelf color vs trying to custom color match, to keep things simple.

We purchased a paint gun and respiratory mask and have the cabinet doors in the garage, ready to go. There’s a lot of prep work, priming and drying time involved, so it won’t be a quick and easy process, but that’s next on our DIY to-do list.

Last weekend, we ordered a range hood insert and Lucas built a custom vent hood surround (you can see it here, pre-installation):

I opted for a simple square design, but I’ve got something fun and very unique planned for the finishing touch. I’ve never seen it done before and it’s a big experiment, so you’ll have to stay tuned to see what it is 🙂

The box was built out of cabinet grade 3/4″ plywood and 2×4’s, and attached to the studs.

A hole was cut at the bottom for the vent, which was then attached to the plywood. Easiest DIY ever!

I looked everywhere and found this insert to be the most affordable with the best reviews. It can be vented to the outside or recirculated (with a charcoal kit)—we plan to run the vent up to the roof for maximum efficiency.

There’s still a lot that needs to be done as you can see, but just like every messy stage of life… this too shall pass.

Switching gears to a more personal topic now—let’s talk about motherhood and work/life balance. Our Esmé is almost six weeks old and I will say, no one can prepare you for the shift that happens once they place that baby in your arms. Shift doesn’t even describe it—more like a magnitude 10 earthquake that shakes everything to the ground and forces you to rebuild a new life. I expected this, of course, but didn’t quite expect the massive hormone drop in those first weeks and the complete lack of productivity even though I’m awake 20 hours a day.

Shannon Renee Photo

That second part is what gets to me most—those days, weeks and months on end of constant projects and progress, abruptly coming to an end. They’ve been traded for non-stop nursing, pumping, cuddling and calming. Quite the transition, and I don’t take it for granted, but at the same time I feel disconnected from the world and my old self. It’s tough to scroll through Instagram and see the amazing projects everyone else is working on while ours have been stalled for weeks. It’s hard to stay inspired and motivated to keep going when you’re so exhausted and limited, both physically and with your time.

Shannon Renee Photo

I get the most fulfillment when I’m bringing my creative vision to life and accomplishing goals, and those are on the back burner right now. I worry I’ll never be highly productive again… Esmé will always need my attention during the day, I can only be gone for so long (without paying for child care). I can’t imagine balancing more than one child—I don’t know how you other mamas do it!

Shannon Renee Photo

There are a few silver linings on the horizon, though. Tomorrow I have my six week checkup and hopefully I’ll be cleared for exercise, which means I can finally get out of the house for mommy & me workouts. I am so looking forward to being active again, stepping outside and socializing with other new moms. I know it will be invaluable for my mental health and overall wellbeing.

Shannon Renee Photo

The other hope I’m holding onto is the fact that 6-8 weeks seem to generally be the most difficult peak for newborns (as far as crying, sleeping, digestive issues, etc) and that her sweet little personality will continue to develop. There’s nothing better than newborn coos and ear to ear grins—they’re what keep me going all day!

Shannon Renee Photo

So that’s where I’m at, nearly six weeks into this motherhood journey. More difficult than I anticipated, but I love this baby more than life itself and I know we’ll eventually find our rhythm. And it helps to know I’m not in this alone—I feel such a connection to all of you other mamas!

PS—our photographer captured the sweetest little video for our girl. You can watch it here 🙂

More to come…

Our Festive Fall Front Porch

This post is part of a paid collaboration with Lowe’s Home Improvement. All opinions are my own.

My favorite season is upon us! Even though it’s still 90º here in Florida, that won’t stop me from taking every opportunity to get into the autumn spirit. It just doesn’t feel like fall until I’ve baked something pumpkin and decorated the porch—my two September traditions.

I’m here to prove that you can make it feel like fall no matter where you live! Just crank up the AC, simmer a pot of cider on the stove, and decorate the front porch. Boom, instant autumn.
Remember our front porch at the Riverside Retreat?
We completed that makeover in May, and it has been sitting there (neglected) ever since. I thought it’d be the perfect blank canvas to have some fun with this year, so a few weeks ago I took my first baby-free solo trip outside of the house to find some inspiration at Lowe’s.
They had just started to roll out their fall/Halloween decor, and I thought about getting a few of these faux pumpkins
But I held off and came back last week once the real pumpkins arrived. They had so many options and I couldn’t resist the pastel/natural colored variety, so I loaded up the car!
The straw bales weren’t tagged but I asked and found out they are also for sale, just $6 a piece.
Then I went on a mission for mums…
I was pleasantly surprised to find several options here as well—white, yellow, orange, purple and red, and in a variety of sizes. They came in these festive baskets so I didn’t have to buy separate planters.
My favorite was this large 3 gallon multi-colored mum which I displayed in the most visible location by the door.
These lavender coleus caught my eye in the garden section, so I grabbed two. I think they add an interesting layer to the mix, don’t you?
With the pumpkins and flowers taken care of, I searched on Lowes.com for a few finishing touches, and found this pretty maple leaf wreath for the door.
And speaking of maple leaves… there’s a few maple trees at a park nearby so we took a walk the other night and collected a handful of leaves that had fallen. These might be the most convincing seasonal accessory—you’d never know I was sweating through my clothes in the hot Florida sun while taking these photos! 😉
Every porch needs candlelight—especially when they’re in the form of LED lanterns.
These are perfect for outdoor use and I’ll be able to reuse them throughout the year. So much easier than real pillar candles (most of mine melted on the patio over the summer!)
Last but not least, I couldn’t pass up this woven plaid throw. There’s something about tartan and fringe that immediately makes any space feel cozy.
And there you have it—my key ingredients for a festive fall porch: a wreath, straw bale, mums, pumpkins, lanterns, leaves and a cozy throw. You could even mix it up and add gourds, cornstalks and pinecones, or other fall colored foliage.
Hopefully this inspires you to get in the spirit if you haven’t yet broken out the fall decor, even if it still feels like summer where you live. Just a few mums and pumpkins goes a long way 🙂
Up next: a Riverside Retreat master bathroom update!

Heights House Kitchen Reveal

After over a year of dreaming, planning and building… our Heights House Kitchen is FINALLY complete!

You may remember we started planning the design way back in February 2018 for the original Heights House (RIP) and stuck with a similar layout/footprint for the new Heights House. We worked with Lowe’s to design the custom cabinetry, counters and appliances, which I went into detail on in this planning post.

There were so many elements that had to come together for this room—including coordinating installs with our builder’s team and Lowe’s subcontractors, waiting on special order appliances and scheduling everything in order, and adding our own DIY touches like appliance panels, a custom range hood and shelves, wine cabinet and refinished antique pieces.

The kitchen was the last (and most complicated) room in the house to complete, as expected, so we didn’t mind the wait. All good things take time!

Make sure to read my last progress update for all the details on the custom range hood, appliances and accessories (and more!)

Without further ado, here’s how our kitchen looks today…

For those who were waiting on the results of my rug fashion show post—the winner has been chosen! Did you guess correctly?

I’m in full-on fall mode over here, and the warm tones are the perfect way to get in the seasonal spirit.

I’ve been baking every pumpkin recipe I can find and lighting all the spiced candles. Isn’t autumn the best?

Installing these floating shelves was a DIY project we tackled a couple months back, using Shelfology heavy duty floating brackets and cypress boards from a local sawmill (you can see a few progress shots in my Heights House Story highlights on Instagram)

The shelves are stocked with mostly thrifted/vintage items I’ve collected over the years. You can never go wrong with classic white and wood!

Speaking of vintage… this barrister bookcase was a Facebook Marketplace find I refinished (painted & frosted the glass) and now it’s our pantry storage. I love the contrast it adds!

And then of course we have this vintage beauty, also a refinished FB Marketplace find. We simply sanded the stain and varnish to reveal the natural wood finish.

In this cabinet you’ll find our microwave, toaster, glasses and mugs.

These custom roman shades from Blinds Galore were the very last finishing touch in this kitchen.

I debated on adding window treatments, but I think they go a long way to soften the look of the room and make it feel cozy and lived in!

Of course, I have to mention the focal point in the room…

We waited several months for this beauty to be built and shipped from Italy, and after owning it for a couple months, I don’t regret it. We’ve had issues with a few of the burners not working sometimes (apparently the stove wasn’t calibrated properly) and we’re still working with Hallman to fix it—but it has been great for a few dinner and pizza making parties we’ve hosted.

You still won’t find a similar range at or near this price point, so for me, the savings absolutely justifies the purchase.

How fun is this ladder? We had it custom made by a local metal shop and they did an amazing job. No more standing on chairs to get to the wine! 😉

Just behind the ladder is our dining area. The only thing we bought for this room so far is a dining table

What you don’t see is the mess of boxes and bills and baby gear carefully cropped out of the shot 😉

One day I’ll get around to getting new chairs, a chandelier and artwork for the dining room. For now, I’m just enjoying having a finished kitchen.

And so is Susie, who saw my camera come out and took full advantage of the opportunity.

Such a sweetheart… I love this girl!

I love this shot captured by Shannon during our shoot a couple weeks ago.

And just for fun, a photo my sister took back in April (with a 5 month baby bump!)

We’ve come a long way, baby!


Walls: Sherwin Williams Alabaster

French Oak floors 

Cabinets: Kraftmaid Durham Maple Square in Mushroom

Counters: Silestone Calacatta Gold Quartz 

Drawer knobs 

Drawer pulls 

Appliance pulls 

48” Hallman Range 

KitchenAid panel ready fridge

Bosch 800 series dishwasher 

30” VIGO sink

Brass bridge faucet

Brass pot filler 

Wall sconces 

Shelfology floating brackets

Roman shades (Camdyn Pumice cordless relaxed fit)

Hutch & bookcase: antique

Ladder: Custom fabricated locally


Stoneware plates and bowls

Shelf accessories: vintage, thrifted

Dining table

Alright friends, there’s another pumpkin recipe with my name on it so back to the kitchen I go. I hope you enjoyed our kitchen reveal and it was worth the wait! More fall inspiration on the way…

Our Newborn Family Portraits

Last week I had the pleasure of working with Shannon Renee Photography on an in-home newborn photoshoot and wanted to share our first family photos!

Finding the time to do anything with a newborn is more difficult than I thought it’d be, so I’m so grateful Shannon was able to come to us for an in-home session (she has a studio where she often shoots families, but I asked if she could come to us instead). It also makes the photos that much more special as they capture our day to day life (minus the hair, makeup and wardrobe, of course 😉)

Shannon showed up with a full wardrobe for both mama and baby, which was amazing because Lord knows I have no time to shop for clothes right now!

I borrowed a couple of her dresses, and Shannon took care of dressing Esmé, complete with the sweetest little accessories.

I mean, how precious is this lace romper?! Everyone tells you not to buy any newborn clothes because they grow out of them so fast, but I regret that now because Esmé’s entire wardrobe consists of a handful of plain newborn onesies, and she has nothing cute to wear for photos! Good thing Shannon came prepared.

Shooting newborns is a special skill, let me tell you! Esmé was a hot mess for the first 30 minutes and would not calm down. Don’t be fooled by the angelic face—it was a task to get her still enough to sneak in a good photo.

Fortunately, Shannon was very patient and was able to suggest new poses and positions (and outfit changes) to keep things running smoothly.

Esmé definitely preferred the swaddle!

Her daddy got a smile out of her…

She also got daddy’s blonde hair 🙂

But she has mommy’s nose and lips…

It’s so fun watching her change by the day. Last week she gave us the biggest smile… I swear it wasn’t a gas reflex. I know 3 weeks is supposed to be too early for that, but it was my favorite moment with her so far and we’re convinced it was real!

We’re crazy in love obsessed with this girl.

Sleep has been more of a struggle lately, despite how rested we look in these photos (Shannon must use some sort of magic filter to hide our exhaustion, ha!)

We know the newborn days are fleeting (even though these early weeks can feel like an eternity) so we’re holding on to all the good moments and reminding ourselves during the hard times that “this too shall pass…”

This photo is one of my favorites—look at that squishy kissable face!

We couldn’t be happier with how this shoot turned out. It definitely captures the blissful moments of newborn life 🙂

I hear that one day all of the exhaustion and new parent struggles will be forgotten. It has to be true, otherwise we wouldn’t keep having children, right? 😉

This angel is worth it all. We’re so lucky to be your parents, little Esmé Rose.

And one kitchen sneak peek for you…

Stay tuned for that reveal coming up next! A huge shoutout and thank you to Shannon once again for capturing such beautiful images of our new family and home. We will cherish them forever!

Stylish (Non-Stainless!) Kitchen Appliances Roundup

This post is part of a paid collaboration with Lowe’s Home Improvement. All opinions are my own.

It has been a while since I’ve shared an update on the Riverside Retreat kitchen (we’ve been a little distracted around here) but I’m happy to report that progress is being made! When we left off, the kitchen had been completely gutted…

Last month we had a crew in there to finish demo, redo the plumbing, fix a few damaged joists and repair the subfloor, run new wiring for new outlets and recessed lighting, and install smooth drywall over the textured ceiling.

Then they assembled the cabinets, leaving the doors off of the lowers since those will be painted.

You can find more details about the cabinets we chose in the kitchen plans post.

Now that the cabinet boxes are in place, Lucas has taken on the challenge of custom carpentry work to make everything look built-in. There’s a lot that needs to go into it— including fridge panels, filler pieces, toe kicks, a custom hood, crown molding and decorative trim (not to mention sanding, priming and painting!)

He’ll be spending the next couple weeks there getting as much done as possible before going back to work. We’re hoping to have the whole room finished by the end of October, but we’re also allowing ourselves some flexibility because taking care of our newborn comes first!

One of the most important decisions for this kitchen was choosing the appliances. In my last post I shared that I had decided on Whirlpool’s Sunset Bronze line, and in this post I’ll explain why I chose it along with a comparison of the other options I was considering.


It’s no secret that I’m 100% on board with the non-stainless appliance trend. I’ve been sold on it for years and couldn’t wait to completely banish stainless in our Heights House kitchen. This kitchen was no exception, however it came with the caveat of a much smaller budget. Since this house will be a vacation rental and investment property, we have to be more frugal (and creative) with our renovation dollars while still making sure each room feels fresh, timeless and unique.

Choosing appliances in general can feel overwhelming, especially today when there are more non-stainless options than ever before (finally!)—so I’ve rounded up my favorite colored appliance sets available at Lowe’s to help narrow down your search. Heads up: everything is on sale right now!

  1. GE Café Counter Depth French Door Refrigerator – $3249  (10% off through 9/25)
  2. GE Café Double Oven/Electric Range – $3099 (5% off through 9/25)
  3. GE Café built-in Microwave – $2899 (5% off through 9/25)
  4. GE Café built-in Dishwasher – $1369 (10% off through 9/25)

I’m sure you’ve all seen these pop up in your Instagram/Pinterest feed over the past year, and for good reason. They’re drop dead gorgeous, you can customize the hardware, and they’re made by a trusted name and innovator in the space for over 125 years.

The GE Café is a complete line of coordinating appliances including refrigerators, dishwashers, wall ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, ranges and range hoods. The styling is both clean and modern but with a nod to vintage details as well—they really look beautiful in any kitchen.

From what I’ve read and seen online, the consumer ratings are positive and they seem to be a solid investment. You can customize the hardware which is a unique feature to this line, and a major selling point if you’re particular about finishes like I am. When it comes to appliances, you’ll come across strong opinions/experiences on both sides no matter the brand, so it’s important to do your own research on the specific model before purchasing.

If money were no object, I’d get these in a heartbeat (and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate if it were my own home—I did even consider going this route at the Heights House for a minute). For this lower budget kitchen remodel I can’t justify the added expense, but I’d strongly recommend considering these for your own kitchen if you can swing the cost. You can view the full GE Café line at Lowe’s here.

  1. KitchenAid Counter-depth French Door Refrigerator – $2499 (16% off through 9/25)
  2. KitchenAid Electric Range – $2299 (17% off through 9/25) 
  3. KitchenAid Over-the-Range Microwave – $749 (10% off through 9/25)
  4. KitchenAid Built-in Dishwasher – $1099 (5% off through 9/25) 

Next up is the striking KitchenAid Black Stainless suite. This is the most comprehensive line, offering the widest range of refrigerators, plenty of dishwasher options and several range and oven configurations. The design is actually very similar to the GE Café collection, but it has a fingerprint-resistant metallic black sheen rather than a matte finish.

KitchenAid Blog

I highly recommend going to see the appliances in person first, but that’s not always possible, especially with these specialty colors. Fortunately, there’s plenty of photos online which is also a great way to help you visualize them next to different cabinet colors and styles (and don’t forget to look through the ratings/reviews section for customer photos as well!)

KitchenAid blog

If I had black cabinets, I’d definitely look into this suite as an option. It’s a more affordable alternative to the GE Café line, and there’s a wider selection to choose from. We also love the KitchenAid fridge in our Heights House and wouldn’t hesitate to order from this brand again. Check out the full line at Lowe’s here.

  1. Samsung Counter-depth French Door Refrigerator – $3199 (5% off through 9/25)
  2. Samsung Electric Range – $1699 (17% off through 9/25)
  3. Samsung Over-the-Range Microwave – $499 (10% off through 9/25)
  4. Samsung Built-in Dishwasher – $899 (5% off through 9/25)

This appliance suite popped up onto my radar when browsing the non-stainless options at Lowe’s. I was immediately drawn to the rich bronze color and began researching more.

Vintage Revivals

The Tuscan Stainless Steel finish doesn’t offer quite as many options as the other brands and it’s certainly not as popular, but I was able to find one “real-life” kitchen example via Mandy at Vintage Revivals. The color is very unique and the metallic sheen does change quite a bit in different lighting.

Vintage Revivals

Samsung also offers the Family Hub smart technology with a built-in refrigerator screen, if that’s something that interests you. The customer reviews are solid across the board for this line, making it a worthy candidate to consider. For my kitchen, the price point was a little too high, but if you’re in the market for something bronze, there’s nothing else out there quite like it!

  1. Whirlpool Side-by-Side Refrigerator – $1899 (10% off through 9/25)
  2. Whirlpool Electric Range – $2099 (5% off through 9/25) 
  3. Whirlpool Over-the-Range Microwave – $949 (10% off through 9/25)
  4. Whirlpool Built-in Dishwasher – $899 (5% off through 9/25) 

Finally, we have Whirlpool’s Sunset Bronze suite (and what I ultimately chose for our kitchen!) In the end, the final decision came down to price (this was the most affordable counter-depth refrigerator option) but all else being equal, I was most drawn to the elegant champagne color. I think it will be a nice compliment to the gold hardware and add warmth to the room.

Jo Alcorn

With this being a relatively new color launch, I had a difficult time locating many real life examples online to get a true idea of the color. From what I did find, there was quite a bit of color variation and I think a lot of it had to do with the surrounding room and what was reflected in the metal. Fortunately, I found these great shots from Jo Alcorn’s kitchen reveal which sealed the deal.

Jo Alcorn

The Sunset Bronze line isn’t as extensive as the GE or KitchenAid offerings, but all I needed was a counter-depth fridge and slide-in electric range. Bonus: the finish is fingerprint resistant (great for a rental) and the range has Wifi enabled smart technology—not sure if we’ll ever use that but it’s a nice feature to have! The 20.5-cu ft counter-depth fridge I chose has a smaller footprint which is suited for our modest sized kitchen, and practical for a short term rental where there won’t be a ton of cooking.

Jo Alcorn

In my extensive search for actual photos of the Sunset Bronze, I came across this YouTube review along with a YouTube video of Jo Alcorn’s kitchen reveal. From what I’ve seen and read online, I feel confident that these appliances are the right choice for this kitchen remodel and I can’t wait to see them in person!

I hope this post was helpful to those of you on the hunt for non-stainless steel appliance alternatives at a range of price points. It’s a major decision that should be planned out during the initial design stage, right alongside your cabinet color and style.

Keep in mind that you certainly don’t have to go out and purchase a full set of matching appliances! I personally prefer to keep their visual presence limited in kitchens (we’re using a panel-ready dishwasher to blend in with the cabinets) but those can be quite costly. I’d recommend matching at least the primary color and finish of your main appliances so they look cohesive. Smaller items like the microwave can be hidden behind a cabinet/pantry or in an island, so that can be one way to save on costs if you don’t have the budget or need to replace everything at once. Matching your cabinet color to your appliances is another way to help them blend in without interrupting the flow of the room.

KitchenAid blog

Have you ever purchased or considered colored appliances? Do you think stainless steel has ended its reign as the status quo in kitchen remodels? I’m hoping more manufacturers get on board with these new looks and start offering them at affordable price points—can you imagine the design possibilities with a full range of color coordinated customizable appliances? Raise your hand if you agree (and help me DM every major appliance brand to tell them what the people want!)

If you’re hosting for the holidays this year and looking to update your appliances, now is a good time to start planning so you’re all set before the big rush (how is it only 12 days until October?!) Keep in mind that Lowe’s can take care of the installation and hauling away your old appliances so you have one less thing to worry about!

Our new Sunset Bronze fridge and range are scheduled to arrive 10/1, and I’ll be sure to share updates in my Instagram stories ASAP. Join me over there to watch the kitchen progress over the next month…

My favorite neutral rugs under $200 from Lowe’s

This post is part of a paid collaboration with Lowe’s Home Improvement. All opinions are my own.

It has been a while since my last kitchen update at the Heights House, but the last pieces of the puzzle have finally come together and it’s just about ready for its debut!

When designing this space, I knew right away that the rug would be a key element. The simple shaker style cabinets and neutral color palette would allow for the rug to dictate the overall feeling of the room through color and pattern. When it comes to more permanent choices like cabinets, I tend to go neutral so that I can easily change up the style through more affordable accessories like rugs.

With a blank canvas to work with, I could take this room in any direction so I began my search online at Lowe’s. I’ve ordered rugs through them before and knew they had an impressive selection (literally tens of thousands of options) so I felt confident I’d be able to find something that fit the bill.

First up: deciding on the size—this is always the first step when choosing a rug! I opted for a larger rug in the center rather than a runner in front of the sink, as it felt much more balanced (and once baby starts crawling around it’ll be nice to have a softer area for her to play on while we’re working in the kitchen).

With our floor space measuring 8’ wide, a 5’ rug was perfect to fill the space nicely without crowding it. The length didn’t matter as much—both the standard 7’ and 8’ would work.

With the size determined, I began to narrow down my search criteria. There were over 9,000 options in those two sizes alone, but I wasn’t done narrowing down.

Next, and perhaps most important in my book: price. As much as I love a vintage one of a kind rug, I can’t bring myself to justify spending a fortune when there are so many affordable and stylish options out there—especially when you like to switch up the look of a room as much as I do. I set a max budget of $200, which still gave me over 5,600 results!

Now is when you grab a tall mug of pumpkin spice coffee, put on some music and enjoy a little “me” time (that’s what online shopping is for me, at least 😉)

I spread it out over a few days, but eventually made it through all 131 page results. Normally I’d narrow down by color as well, but I didn’t have a very specific look in mind and wanted to see what caught my eye. My preference was to find something relatively neutral with a subtle (ideally vintage-esque) pattern, but with enough color to contrast with the beige and white and bring a little personality into the room.

After my exhaustive search, these were the top five contenders:

From my experience, rugs are one of the most difficult items to shop for online because they’re not only very tactile objects, but the colors almost always look different on screen than they do in person (even when comparing to the ‘real life’ customer photos).

Just like you’d never want to choose a paint color without putting samples on the wall first, I wouldn’t commit to buying a rug unless I had access to samples first or it had an easy return policy. Fortunately, Lowe’s offers free shipping AND returns, and you can simply return online purchases to your nearest store instead of having to ship them back.

Rather than trying to narrow it down to just one, I thought it’d be fun to share my top five budget-friendly vintage style rugs from Lowe’s. Who’s ready for a rug fashion show?!

Option 1: Allen + Roth Brookford Charcoal/Ivory Rectangular Indoor Handcrafted Area Rug, $198

This wool rug was the thickest and heaviest of the bunch, and super soft underfoot.

The overall color was a bit more beige than how it appears on my monitor, which has somewhat of a green/yellow tint.

It’s a lovely design with a high quality feel, though it has a more traditional look vs the vintage style I’m after, and the beige wasn’t providing much contrast to the cabinets and floors.

Option 2: Safavieh Brentwood Surat Cream/Gray Vintage Area Rug, $80

Coming in as the most affordable option, this rug is on the thinner side (0.3” pile height) but very smooth and soft. The coloring is quite a bit cooler in person (at least in my kitchen) with slate blue-gray and ivory tones.

The polypropylene fibers make the colors shift at different angles—you can see in the first photo it appears to be a very subtle light gray, but the color and pattern really jump out when you’re standing directly above it.

I love the subtle design of this rug and the neutral hues, and it’s a great choice if I’m leaning towards cooler/blue tones.

Option 3: Safavieh Valencia Jiles Gray/Cream Vintage Area Rug, $176

This rug had a similar weight and feel to Option 2 with a 0.25” pile height, though the material is a woven soft polyester. I didn’t notice much of a color shift from different angles, which I like.

The coloring is a neutral gray with green and light brown detailing, which I thought was a nice complement to the beige cabinets.

This rug is definitely neutral enough to last through different seasons/decor styles or move around to other rooms in the future.

Option 4: Safavieh Vintage Mosed Gray/Multi Rectangular Vintage Area Rug, $186

Made with power loomed viscose yarn, this rug is most vintage looking of them all. The fibers are smooth and soft, almost like velvet, so when you rub your hand across it the color will change.

It also looks quite different from every angle, as you can see in the photos. The coloring is bluer in person than the warm gray displayed on my screen, although when I had it unrolled in the living room it read as more of a cool gray.

I really liked the faded vintage pattern, but would have to decide if the blue and lavender tones were the direction I wanted to take for this kitchen.

Option 5: Kaleen Boho Patio Taupe Rectangular Vintage Area Rug, $199

The most expensive of the bunch, this polyester flat weave rug is suited for both indoor and outdoor use.

It’s one of the thinnest at 0.125” pile height, but there are no shiny fibers which means the coloring is consistent at every angle. With the lights on, the rust/burgundy tones are more prevalent in person than depicted online, though at certain times of day it does read as a neutral taupe overall.

This rug was the most realistic looking vintage option, in my opinion, and great for hiding stains. It’s also the boldest color so I’d have to be fully committed to the warmer tones.

And there you have it, a complete review of my favorite neutral rugs at Lowe’s! Which one is your favorite, and which one do you think I chose? I’m looking forward to sharing the winner in the kitchen reveal soon!

Hopefully this post will save you time searching online if you’re in the market for something that won’t break the bank. And since Lowe’s makes it super easy (and free) to return without question, don’t hesitate to order a few rugs (or more) at once—it’s always better to have options than to settle!

Stay tuned for more kitchen updates next week,

Esmé Rose: A Birth Story

Our angel baby took her first breath exactly one week ago, on August 29th at 4:53 am.

Our world has been rocked as the hours and days blend together in the thick newborn fog. The entire experience has been surreal to say the least, and I wanted to write down as much as I could about her birth before it fades from my memory.

At my 39 week appointment I was checked for the first time, and pleasantly surprised to discover I was already 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. I hadn’t been feeling any contractions or cramping, and was hopeful that my body would go into labor on its own before the 41 week induction recommended by my doctor.

40 weeks came and went and I progressed to 75% effaced, but still only 1cm. With family in town and the nursery finally finished a few days later, I was ready to get this show on the road! We tried every trick in the book to get things moving. I was awoken by cramps one night after walking two miles, but by morning they were gone. I had to come to terms with the fact that labor wasn’t going to come naturally.

Stacy Larsen Photography

The day before my scheduled induction, I saw the doctor for one final checkup, ultrasound and NST. I was still at “1-ish” cm, but the baby’s heart rate wasn’t very active on the NST and the doctor recommended we go straight to the hospital to be induced. From the moment she muttered those words, my brain switched over into a whirlwind of nerves and excitement, and I’m realizing now that it will never go back to my pre-pregnancy state.

Stacy Larsen Photography

The hours and days to follow have been a blur to me, but we made sure to have Lucas take notes of the events and timing during the labor process so we could share our story.

On the way to the hospital we stopped back at home for a quick shower and to gather our bags. By 2:30pm we were checked in and anxiously awaiting family to meet us there.

An hour later I settled into my room as they started an IV and monitoring my contractions. I was already contracting every 2-3 minutes on my own (apparently the threat of being induced made my body start cooperating?)

However, I wasn’t feeling anything and the contractions weren’t making me progress. The nurse suggested I try walking around for an hour to see if that would help them intensify, and after being checked at 6pm I was still a “stretchy 1cm” with the baby showing no signs of dropping.

At this time, they decided to start me on cervidil which could be left in for up to 12 hours. The plan was to use this overnight, then switch to pitocin to begin active labor in the morning. The nurse confidently predicted I’d have this baby at 5pm the next day (after two hours of pushing).

Cristina Danielle Photography

Our family was in and out of the room during this time, wishing us luck and telling us they’d be back first thing in the morning to be there for the delivery. My sister stayed with us for a few hours as labor began to record photo and video.

Cristina Danielle Photography

By 7:30pm the contractions started getting uncomfortable, though they still followed the same 2-3 minute pattern on the monitor. I tried to move around as much as I could and keep myself distracted, but even in the rest period between contractions there wasn’t much relief.

At 9:45pm the nurse came in to check me, and I joked that I surely must be at 10cm by now. My heart sunk when she said I was still only around 1.5cm—how many hours of this would I need to endure?

Cristina Danielle Photography

I was given an Ambien to get some rest, but there was no way I could relax for even a minute as the pain intensified into what felt like one continuous contraction with varying levels of pain. I tried bouncing on the birth ball which seemed to provide the most comfort, but the monitor kept losing the baby’s heartbeat in that position so I was told to stay on the bed.

By 11:45pm the contractions were lasting 45-60 seconds every other minute, and the intense pain mixed with the Ambien left me in a daze. I tried to remember the breathing techniques I had learned but it was difficult to stay focused on anything.

Cristina Danielle Photography

At 12:20am I was checked once again, and had finally progressed to 2cm. All along we’d been told I needed to reach 4cm to get an epidural, but the doctor said I had progressed enough at this stage that they could administer it. 30 minutes later I vaguely recall the anesthesiologist entering the room. I held still through a contraction as the epidural was inserted and remember thinking I’d rather take 100 of those than one contraction.

Within minutes, my toes started tingling as I felt my body begin to relax. The pain slowly began to subside, and all I can remember are the lights going dim as I closed my eyes for the first time that evening.

I was awoken at 2:40am to check on my progress, and in less than two hours I had made it to 6.5cm! Things escalated quickly from there, and just 90 minutes later I was complete at 10cm with the baby’s head fully engaged! They broke my water and I was feeling a lot of pressure and pain on my left side, so they called the anesthesiologist back in. He said I had a hot spot which he was able to correct by adjusting the epidural, and once it was working properly, it was time to push!

At 4:30am I pushed with the first contraction, and the baby’s head was immediately in sight. Around 15 minutes later the doctor took over, and I pushed through three more contractions. Esmé Rose was born at 4:53am, weighing 6lbs 13 oz and 20.25″ long.

She had swallowed a lot of fluid and was gone for what felt like forever as they cleared her lungs.

But she was full of life and wonder as they placed her on my chest, and stayed there for an hour and a half.

She nursed right away—I have vague memories of this but was told she nursed for a whole hour. We’re not really surprised though as we saw her practice swallowing at every ultrasound and she constantly had the hiccups in the womb.

I couldn’t imagine laboring without the epidural after six hours of minimal progress. As soon as the pain disappeared and my body could relax, she was in our arms less than four hours later. The night was a blur of pain, emotions and anticipation, but it was all worth it to bring our sweet girl into this world.

This is the first grandbaby on both sides and we’ve all been waiting a long time, so you can only imagine how loved this little one is.

She’s especially stolen daddy’s heart, and he’s been right there with me through every late night feeding, swaddle and diaper change.

We couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect baby—she truly is an angel.

Now the family is back in California and we begin the process of settling into a new normal. My hormones are still all over the place and the love I feel for this little girl is overwhelming. Having a child truly is watching your heart beat outside of your body.

Esmé Rose LeBlanc, we love you more than you’ll ever know.

PS: In case you missed it, I shared a video of our pregnancy journey earlier this week… enjoy 🙂

The Nursery Reveal

Today is the room reveal I’ve waited weeks, months and years for… and my friends, it was worth the wait! My design dreams have been fulfilled and I can’t imagine a more perfect space for our little princess. Click to watch the reveal below:

Before I share the photos (warning: there are a ton), make sure to get caught up on our progress over the past couple months:

Nursery Design Plan

Nursery Changing Station

Nursery Closet

The Big Nursery Molding Project

Without further ado, our french country forest nursery…

Where do we begin? How about the real MVP of the room—all of the gorgeous molding from Ekena Millwork:

I linked to the exact molding we used in this post, so make sure to check that out for all the details. It truly takes the feeling of this room to another level, like you’re walking into a mini-palace. Fancy millwork for life!

Perhaps my favorite piece of molding in the room is this facia we installed above the closet doors, which makes it look like an armoire. And about these doors—they’re the Chateau bifold doors from Simpson Door Co, which we mounted on individual hinges to swing outwards. The French curves are perfect for this room!

I had the most fun designing this closet.

Where else would I be able to use pink stripes and gold bows? Obviously, I had to take advantage of the opportunity!

Next to the closet is the highly functional changing nook. We planned ahead during construction and had our builder leave this nook open, and I found the perfectly sized vintage dresser that doubles as a changing table.

I refinished it, added a hidden storage shelf on the back wall for diaper supplies, added a seagrass changing basket and scored a sweet vintage mirror for $35.

I also DIY’d this flower mobile using a wreath wire frame and faux flowers from Michaels. I’m thinking this will instill in her a deep love of florals 🙂

If the molding is the key player in this room, the rainforest mural from Rocky Mountain Decals is sure giving it a run for its’ money…

This was the very first thing I picked out for the nursery many months ago, and the jumping off point of the design. It’s peel and stick removable paper which made for an easier install, and even better, a quick removal once we’re ready to take it down (hopefully not for a while!)

The room just came alive after the mural went up. I think I need one in every room…

The hanging macrame bassinet was a registry gift and I still can’t believe it’s only $50! It’s really just a placeholder until I find the perfect crib, which we won’t need for another six months since she’ll be sleeping in a bassinet in our room until then. Maybe I’ll use it as a toy holder in the meantime…

I wrapped a eucalyptus garland around the rope for an extra foresty-touch. The little details matter!

One major nursery must-have, according to my findings, are blackout curtains. Dark rooms are key to making sure baby sleeps well, and I take my sleep very seriously.

I worked with Barn & Willow on these custom extra wide ivory drapes, using their organic cotton fabric which looks like linen up close.

They’re fully lined blackout, super thick and extra luxurious. I even sprung for the 2-pinch pleat style which make them feel so much fancier! I love that they’re neutral and classic enough to stay in this room forever, even as it transitions (I used this gold curtain rod found on Amazon).

One item I spent a lot of time researching was the glider. There are surprisingly few affordable, stylish and functional gliders on the market, and I waited for a month for this one to come back in stock. SO WORTH IT.

It’s extremely comfortable, has a super smooth glide and swivel, has stain and water resistant linen fabric (supposedly) and (my favorite part!) an ottoman with storage. Of course I haven’t had a chance to give it the real-life baby test yet, but after an exhaustive search, I’m gonna make a bold claim that it’s the best ivory/cream glider on the entire internet for under $400.

See that little side table?

A $13 find on OfferUp, refinished in Maison Blanche gold metallic paint and organza wax. Love the way it turned out!

Another find I’m loving is this Wayfair chandelier for only $180:

I was debating between it and two other (much more expensive) options and I’m so glad I went with this one. It’s the perfect size for this room (35″w), has a nice rustic finish and I think the simpler style is a nice contrast against all the fancy millwork.

The braided jute rug is another Wayfair find that I couldn’t be happier with. It’s relatively affordable, exactly as pictured online, and soft enough for baby (isn’t that the sweetest big sister in the window?)

For the back wall, I found these darling baby animal flower crown prints on Etsy and used Ikea frames.

The hooks are vintage replicas I found on Ebay and aged them with rub n buff.

My hormones can barely handle the cuteness right now.

Now that the nursery is FINISHED(!) we are 100% ready for baby to be here in our arms. I’m glad she didn’t come early so we could get everything done, but I’m hoping she comes on her own before we have to evict her.

Last week (before the nursery was finished) we had a last minute maternity shoot with local photographer Stacy Larsen, so I thought I’d share a few photos from that session! It was so nice to get out of my DIY clothes for once and capture these last memories before our lives change forever…

A huge thank you to Stacy for these beautiful photos, we will cherish them forever!

Okay baby girl, the nursery is ready for you. We’re ready for you. 

The Blue Lagoon Bathroom Design

Moving right along to our next project at the Riverside Retreat vacation rental: the master bathroom!

If you’ve been following the progress over the summer, you may remember our plans to add a second bathroom to this house by taking space from the main bathroom and adjacent bedroom (check out this closet addition post for all the details). Here’s the original floor plan:

And what we came up with:

It was a bit of a challenge to design a new layout that would allow for enough space to create a new bathroom with a shower, but not take away too much from the existing bathroom or bedroom. It’s a teeny tiny room, but has everything you need!

Just as I went for a bolder look in the main bathroom, this master suite needed a unique theme of its own. Months ago I stumbled across this gold swan faucet and couldn’t get it out of my head. That sparked the entire design concept…

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

Fun, right?! Definitely a little bolder than I’d go in my own home, but for a funky Florida vacation rental by the river it’s perfect. Bring on the swans and turquoise tile!

As with every project in this house, budget plays a major role so I had to strike the right balance of interesting yet affordable with the design. With a tiny room you can spend more on materials without breaking the bank, so there are a couple splurges here—but it’s those little details that make all the difference.

I found the swan faucet on Amazon for $92 here, though at the moment they only have nickel and chrome in stock. It is available in a slightly larger size here, and I was also able to find the smaller size on Ebay here. It’s definitely a statement piece in the room!

When it came time to choose a vanity, a pedestal sink was really the only option due to the size constraints. But given that it’s a second bathroom and no one will live here full time, it was the perfect solution! I had to find one with the smallest footprint possible, but that still included a little countertop space, and budget-friendly. This Barclay model for $175 met all those requirements:

This pretty scalloped mirror was another budget Lowe’s find at just $66, and I love the way the curves mimic the sink and tie in with the overall swan lake theme—fluid, graceful and elegant.


The most dominant design element in this room, hands down, is the tile. When Bedrosians launched their Cloe line last year, I received samples in the mail and fell in love with the baby blue:

These tiles planted the seed for a water-inspired bathroom, and finding the swan faucet later sealed the deal. The Cloe line has become super popular, but I have yet to see it in baby blue ‘in the wild’ so I can’t wait to try it out! I’ve had the pleasure of working with Bedrosians on a few projects this past year and they’ve graciously agreed to step in as a sponsor again. The entire back wall & shower, along with the lower half of the vanity wall will be covered in this tile (in the subway style, leaning towards a stacked installation).

As for the floor tile, originally I was dead set on using a large format marble look-a-like (to keep costs down) but then I spent too much time wandering the aisles of Floor & Decor and saw this…

I’ve used pebble tile once in the past (remember my master bath reveal circa 2016?) and loved how spa-like it felt. The river rock design seemed like a perfect fit for the theme of this room, and I had to follow my heart, despite the $13/sf price tag:

Fortunately since this is a tiny room, only around 30 pieces were needed to cover the entire floor (shower included) so I didn’t feel quite as bad about shelling out the extra dough—especially since the wall tile is sponsored and I’ve kept costs down elsewhere. Like this $130 shower faucet:

The Delta champagne bronze line has become my go-to for pretty much every bathroom lately. You can’t beat the finish or price, and the fact that it’s a trusted name puts my mind at ease. I was also happy to find this cool pendant light on sale for only $48 at Wayfair:

The curved shape is very swan-esque, don’t you think? This will hang above the mirror rather than a wall mounted sconce. And speaking of swans… I had to incorporate them in artwork somehow. I put my Photoshop skills to use and created a couple abstract prints which I’ll hang in simple wood frames:

Last but not least, the finishing accessories! Apart from the pebble tile, these were the only other splurges but I have no self control when it comes to Anthro home decor. Their Demeter brass towel ring and toilet paper holder is just too good to pass up.

It’s the little things in life that bring the most joy. Also, they remind me of swan feathers.

After the design was chosen, I mocked up the floor plan in Homestyler and used the 3D view to get a better sense of the space (ignore the design/finishings as they’re just a general idea, the program is quite limited in that respect):

In the next bathroom post, I’ll share all the progress photos from demo day to putting up walls and installing tile, and where we’re at now before the big reveal. This has been a fun little project to work on and I’m looking forward to seeing it all come to life!

PS: I published our last vlog before baby, catching up on all the craziness of DIYing and preparing for the big day! Watch it below:

PPS: The nursery reveal was supposed to be this week on baby’s due date, but there was a shipping delay on the last item that needed to be installed so it will have to be pushed back to next week 🙁 Despite this, I still snuck in a quick maternity shoot in the nursery yesterday so I’ll leave you with a little preview…

Stacy Larsen Photography