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!

Sources:

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

Rug

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


Riverside Retreat Main Bathroom Reveal

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

Oh happy day, one more room at the Riverside Retreat is officially in the bag!

This project has been over two months in the making—starting with a few setbacks and stalled progress, and ending with a mad dash to the finish line over the past few weeks.  Make sure to go back and check out the Design Plan/demo kickoff post along with my DIY Board and Batten tutorial to see the progression if you haven’t yet.

Meet the “50 Shades of White” Before…

Seriously. Every inch was some shade of mismatched white.

The room was a decent size but we had to reconfigure it and take away space to add a second bathroom, as this house only had one (not gonna cut it with 10 guests in a vacation rental!)

We added two walls to create a master bathroom, as you can see in the new floor plan below (labeled Main Bathroom):

Demo promptly began, and (no surprise) there were quite a bit of plumbing and foundation issues to fix.

We ended up bringing in a second contractor a few weeks ago  to get things moving quicker. Finally, some progress!

And we’ve put in long hours over the last couple weeks installing DIY board and batten, painting, and adding the finishing touches. Finally, our earthy + classic budget bathroom is ready for its debut!

The real MVP here is the gorgeous green, Valspar’s Wilderness.

I love going bold in smaller spaces—making a statement is what design is all about!

My second favorite player is this charming vintage style floor tile. It’s just the right amount of pattern to balance the bold walls and fits in well with our 1940’s home (our installer used a generic white for both the floor and shower tile grout).

There was a big debate on Instagram around what color to paint the new Jeld-Wen door. I couldn’t decide between green or white, and at the last minute I opted to make it same color as all the other doors in the house (SW Loggia). I think it was the right move because it breaks up the green/white and ties in with the other neutral warm accents in the room.

We’re also swapping out all the original door handles with these gorgeous Schlage glass knobs:

But this view? This has to be my favorite.

I scored this schoolhouse vanity light on sale for $76 (it’s still a killer deal even at full price) and the mirror was a $30 secondhand Facebook Marketplace find (it actually came from a Disneyworld hotel).

The Delta Venetian Bronze faucet was another budget-friendly find with great ratings and a simple, classic style.

Recognize this vanity? It’s the same one I used in our Heights House Guest Bathroom but in the 36″ size.

I love this vanity because there’s lots of drawer storage, and you can choose from several colors/sizes/stone tops (I went with the Carrara engineered marble top). FYI—it’s now $100 less than when I purchased it! If you’ve been considering this vanity (or any new vanity), now’s the time to jump on it.

The only modification I made was painting the chrome handles gold (I used black spray paint and gold Rub ‘N Buff to give it an aged patina).

For the shower, I used one of Delta’s most affordable faucets in a matching Venetian Bronze finish (only $130 but it’s low in stock!) and replaced the one-piece tub with a budget-friendly model.

And how lovely is the shower tile? It has a slight color variation and is porous/textured to look like brick. Difficult to capture in photos, but it looks amazing in person and I think it fits in nicely with the earthy/classic style of the room.

One neat addition are these vintage photos of our city.

I Googled local archives of old photos and found our county library website with a huge collection of free downloadable images.

Then a little photoshop manipulation to make them sepia toned, add my own text, and print them out (these are 12×16″ prints in 16×20″ Ikea frames). I think these will be a fun touch for out-of-towners to see a little history of the area.

And the $5 gold hooks that have become a staple in almost every room these days! Can’t beat the price and style.

The only thing we kept from the original bathroom was the toilet (nothing wrong with it) and window, which I painted black. I hung a ready-made bamboo shade and simple 96″ waffle weave shower curtain (new favorite long shower curtain, by the way!)

On the day of the shoot I realized I forgot to order a toilet paper & hand towel holder—oops! Those will be added next 🙂

And that wraps up the Earthy + Classic Budget Bathroom Tour! I’m happy to say that this one turned out pretty much exactly as I had imagined/hoped.

I hope our guests love it just as much as we do!

Sources + Budget Breakdown

Paint: Valspar Wilderness (satin), SW Pure White (eggshell), SW Loggia (semi-gloss)

Floor tile / $288

Shower tile / $730

Tub / $150

Shower faucet / $130

Vanity / $500

Vanity faucet / $160

Vanity light / $76

Mirror / $30

30″ Jeld-Wen door / $130

Door handle / $65

Towel hooks / $23

Picture frames / $85

Window shade / $45

Shower curtain / $27

Curtain rod / $23

Molding & trim / $250

Paint / $40

Total: $2729

Of course this doesn’t take into account any labor costs or labor materials (those numbers unfortunately got convoluted between two different contractors). But if you aren’t doing a complete gut remodel down to the foundation or hiring out the labor, you can easily recreate this bathroom for under $3k with some DIYing and a trip to Lowe’s.

The best part is, you don’t have to compromise on quality—and I’d say the end result is comparable to any $10k+ bathroom I’ve seen!

What do you think about the deep green? It’s probably the boldest wall color I’ve ever used, but this is a vacation rental so I’m not trying to play it safe! Every room will have its own unique vibe—just wait until you see what we have planned for some of the other spaces 😉

Next up: a vlog update, kitchen rug fashion show and the nursery reveal… hopefully all before baby arrives!

 

 


The Big Nursery Molding Project

We just conquered a huge milestone in the nursery and I couldn’t wait to share our excitement! If you haven’t been following the progress, make sure to get caught up first:

Nursery Design Plans

Nursery Changing Station

Nursery Closet

As a reminder, here’s how the room looked a couple months ago:

Shortly after completing the closet makeover, a truckload of boxes of fancy molding arrived from Ekena Millwork and we set aside a weekend to tackle as much as possible.

Spoiler alert: I’m not taking a minimalist approach here—I’ve been dreaming about designing this room for years and stockpiling ideas to make it extra special for this sweet girl I’ve waited so long for. Nurseries and kids rooms are one space you can have more creative freedom with and I’m taking full advantage—bring on the decadence!

Starting with the crown molding

I used a tape measure to visualize the size before ordering, but even I was a little taken aback by just how large it was in person. 12″ crown is not something you see every day! Fortunately the size isn’t too overpowering for our 9’4″ ceilings, and makes the room feel even taller.

Before installing, we painted all eight 8′ pieces (SW Malted Milk in satin) because it’s easier to do on a table than above your head while standing on a ladder (especially with all those little details!)

We set up our trusty 12″ Dewalt miter saw and attempted to make the first cut the same way we normally install crown molding… then quickly realized we were in over our heads. The crown was too big for the saw, and there’s no way we could clamp or hold it perfectly still while cutting.

There may have been some hormone-induced tears immediately after this attempt, followed by calls to every local master carpenter I could find. Turns out there’s not many qualified carpenters nearby who had the time or capability to do the job, and the one quote we received came in at over $1000. NOPE.

After wasting a week trying to figure out a Plan B, my sweet amazing talented husband said not to worry, and that he’d figure out a way to make it happen. He then spent nearly every evening after work for the next two weeks pulling off a modern day molding miracle.

I can’t even attempt to share a tutorial for this one (you can find my regular crown molding tutorial in this post). Lucas drew up plans and thought he had the angles figured out, but every corner and angle was different (yes, even with new construction walls!)

The bad cut graveyard says it all.

Apart from the challenge the sheer size presented, the pattern had to be matched up perfectly as well. This resulted in a good amount of waste, and we ran out at the end and needed to order two more pieces (shout out Ekena for being so prompt and understanding!)

Thankfully, this urethane molding is super lightweight and so easy to work with—we’ve used it for tons of projects over the past year and it’s hard to go back to MDF/wood.

I mean… look at this work of art. These pieces didn’t line up at the corners but Lucas was able to file down around the edges and now you can’t even tell. Try doing that with wood!

And any gaps disappear with a little spackle. Pro tip: wet your finger when you apply the spackle and it’ll go on super smooth, making it much quicker and easier to sand later!

A bit of liquid nails on the back…

Followed by a few finish nails is all it takes to secure it.

You can bet we were happy dancing all over the room once the last piece was in. Crown molding expert level status unlocked, VICTORY IS OURS!

With the biggest challenge out of the way, we moved onto the wall molding. I came up with the idea of transforming this wall with classic French inspired wainscoting using panel molding:

I love this option because it requires no modifications of your existing baseboard/trim, and the process is pretty straightforward! This is the same technique we used to frame our wall mural in the Riverside Retreat so I won’t go into detail again as you can find that tutorial here.

This time I chose a simpler trim style, using the Pompeii panel molding and matching corners.

After drawing out the measurements and layout on the computer, we cut the molding to size and started with our center rectangle first.

These pieces are the same lightweight urethane material and attach to the wall just as easy, with a bit of liquid nails and finish nails. The only tricky part is making sure they line up as seamlessly as possible, which means adding shims sometimes since the pattern doesn’t always match up perfectly between pieces.

I really enjoyed this part of the molding process (especially after the crown!) and it didn’t take us long to get our first panel up.

Next one up…

Last but not least!

I spent all day Wednesday painting (whew, that’s an exhausting job at 8.5 months pregnant) but well worth the effort…

Isn’t Malted Milk the dreamiest color?

Moving right along… I wanted to do something fun above the nursery closet door, and found this gorgeous fascia in Ekena’s catalog. I knew it’d be perfect…

We cut it down to size, nailed it up and gave it a couple coats of paint…

OBSESSED. Doesn’t it make the closet look like an armoire? I knew it’d be good but this might be my favorite piece of trim in the whole room.

Finally, it was time for the crowning jewel—the ceiling medallion:

32″ of pure feminine gorgeousness! I painted it white to match the ceiling so it wouldn’t compete with the wall molding. And next came the chandelier—I ended up choosing the budget-friendly Wayfair option after everyone’s input in my Design Plans post!

I like the rustic finish, but may coat it with a bit of gold paint to make it a little more glamorous. We’ll see how it looks when the rest of the room comes together.

Here’s how the room looks right this minute. We’re 75% of the way there!

Our next big project is putting up a wall mural on the back wall, which will happen this weekend.

Then it’s a matter of bringing in the bassinet, rug, glider, curtains, table, mobile, artwork and hooks.

Hoping to get this room photo-ready by mid-next week!

Really cutting it close with this due date here, but I have a feeling baby girl is in no hurry to arrive.

Fingers crossed she stays put two more weeks so we can wrap up a few more projects and maybe relax for a day before she gets here. One can only hope for the perfect timing, right?

One day at a time… tune in next week for the Riverside Retreat bathroom reveal!


DIY Board and Batten Tutorial

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

Kicking off the week with our latest project at The Riverside Retreat, and one of my favorite DIYs! Watch the timelapse tutorial below:

As you know I’ve done my fair share of wainscoting/wall molding treatments over the years, and I’d have to say this board & batten technique is the most beginner-friendly (aka, my recommendation for all you first timers out there!)

We’ve been slowly working on the main bathroom at the Riverside Retreat over the summer, and are now finally at the finishing stages (see the Befores and read all about our plans in this post).

After adding two walls to create a second bathroom on the opposite side, we installed a new tub and shower tile

Along with this cute vintage inspired floor tile:

Finally, it was time to break up the 50 shades of white and give this bathroom some color! But first, a little molding magic in the form of board & batten.

There are many ways to approach this project depending on the look you want, but for this beginner level tutorial I opted to choose the most budget-friendly and easiest to work with materials. Here’s what we used:

Materials

1×6 primed MDF (baseboard)

1×4 primed MDF (top board)

1×3 primed MDF (battens)

1×2 primed MDF (top ledge)

(Optional) chair rail molding (to add a little detail)

Caulk, spackleliquid nails, paint

We needed four 8′ lengths of each material to wrap around the room, except for the 1×3 vertical battens—we used 19 of those. Total materials cost including paint: less than $300.

Tools

Dewalt miter saw

Bostitch nail gun (we used 2″ nails)

Craftsman air compressor

Zircon stud finder

Level

Tape measure

Let’s get started!

Choose a wall to begin and measure to find the length of your 1×6 baseboard. Keep in mind that you’ll want to miter both edges for a clean 45º joint (you don’t have to miter, but it looks more professional this way).

A quick test fit to make sure it lines up with the edge of the wall…

Perfect! Now, take your stud finder and mark along the wall (or baseboard) at each stud. You want to make sure the baseboards are attached securely to the wall.

Once the stud locations are marked, grab your nail gun (either 16ga or 18ga works) and nail along your marks (I used two nails per stud to be safe). Your nails should be long enough to go through the MDF, drywall and into the studs (2″ is plenty).

Repeat the same process (measure, miter, mark studs & nail) on the next wall.

Don’t worry if your miter joints aren’t perfect (it happens a lot, especially with older houses/crooked walls). You’d be amazed at what a little spackle and caulk can do.

Once you’ve put all the baseboards in, it’s time to move onto your top horizontal piece. First, decide how high you want your molding. This is 100% a personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer, but I prefer taller molding (especially since our ceilings are 9′ high) so I went with a total height of 5 1/2″ feet.

Go ahead and mark the wall where you want the bottom of your horizontal piece to rest. I marked a few different places just in case (your floors won’t always be level, especially if they’re tile).

Now, place your level on your mark and draw an even horizontal line.

Continue the line all the way around the walls. By the time I got to the window, my line was more than 1/2″ off from my original mark, but a level line is more important than matching the distance to the floor!

Next, grab your 1×4 and repeat the same steps you took for the baseboards (measure, miter, mark studs & nail to the wall). Make sure the bottom is even with your level line.

Repeat until all top horizontal pieces are in.

Now you’re ready for the battens! Before attaching these, it’s important to assess the whole room and plan out your spacing. This is important to make sure you’re avoiding any obstacles or funky spacing issues as each wall will be a different size.

We worked out our spacing to avoid the main outlet near the door, which ended up falling at around a 13″ gap between boards.

Fortunately for us, we were able to achieve similar spacing on the other walls for a uniform look (it ranged between ~11.5-13″ around the whole room). Aim for consistent spacing, but calculate your measurements by wall, not by room!

For example, this wall was 58″ wide. To get the spacing as close to 13″ as possible, we needed to add five battens—each batten is 2.5″ wide for a total of 12.5″. Subtract the width of all the battens from the width of the entire wall (58 – 12.5 = 45.5). Then divide that by the number of spaces between battens, which would be four. 45.5 divided by 4 = 11.375″. Close enough!

You won’t notice the different spacing of each wall if it’s off by just a couple inches, but you can always adjust where the battens start and end (they don’t need to begin along the edge of the wall or in a corner!)

Our largest spacing was underneath the window, but I promise you’ll never notice the difference (especially after the toilet is installed).

Before you do any cutting, make sure to measure for each batten where you plan to attach it, because the height will not be consistent throughout the room (unless you’re special and your floors are perfectly level!)

I like to use liquid nails for reinforcement, since they don’t usually end up in studs.

The wonderful thing about MDF is that it’s semi flexible which allows it to bend around walls that aren’t straight or have imperfections (so no huge gaps to fill unlike wood) AND the edges are smooth, no splinters or sanding required (also unlike wood). Not to mention you never have to worry about bowed/warped boards, and it’s a fraction of the cost.

I used 3-4 nails per batten and they went up so easy. Once the first is in, measure horizontally and mark where the next board should go (remember the spacing was calculated earlier and will be different for each wall).

I made a mark both at the top and bottom, measured and cut the next batten, and did a test fit to be safe:

Before gluing and nailing, make sure to double check with your level (this is the most important step!)

Repeat with the next batten (mark, measure, cut, glue, level, nail).

This part goes by fast!

Once all the battens are up, it’s time to add the top ledge. This part is optional, but I think it makes the molding look more finished (plus it’s so cheap and easy to add!)

Grab a ladder (or a taller person) and measure the width of your first wall. You’ll want to miter the corners of these just like the baseboards and 1×4’s.

Apply a generous line of liquid nails along the back.

Set your ledge in place. Happy face optional.

Nail down at several points along the ledge, being careful to aim towards the back so your nail doesn’t end up coming through the front. It can be a bit tricky to get the tip of the gun flat against the molding, but you can always hammer the nail down later if it doesn’t fully countersink (we had to do this a few times).

Here’s a closeup of the mitered edges in the corners (we had to come back and do the wall on the right another day because we were waiting on our door trim to be installed).

On the opposite side where the wall ended, we made simple straight cuts.

Carry the ledge all the way around the room. Here’s an inside joint from above:

And an outside joint:

Almost there!

Most people stop here, but I decided to take it a step further and add some fancy chair rail molding (I’m all about those extra details). 

This was measured/mitered/nailed up the same way as the top ledge. We used a decent amount of liquid nails so we wouldn’t have to use as many finish nails.

Pro tip: nail into a flat/smooth area if possible, which will make the hole much easier to spackle and sand.

A quick little diagram for reference:

Put your power tools away because the hardest part is done! Time to spackle those nail holes…

And caulk allllll the seams (the most time consuming and my least favorite part)…

Give those time to dry, use a sanding sponge to get all the spackle nice and smooth, then move on to the last phase: paint!

I picked up a handful of green samples to try out at home (do NOT skip this step—the more samples, the better!) I actually had to go back to Lowe’s for more because they looked so different on my walls vs in store. These are all Valspar colors (and take this photo with a grain of salt, because I promise they look different in person and in your own home):

I was glad I went back for more samples, because the last one (Wilderness) ended up being the winner! I bought a gallon in satin (more durable for bathrooms than flat or eggshell) along with these Purdy rollers. I normally use foam rollers, but those tend to leave roller marks if your paint has any amount of sheen, and I couldn’t risk that with satin paint.

Moment of truth…

Even during the first coat I could tell it was perfect!

Painting went by fast. The roller covered 95% of the surface area (also, totally switching to this roller from now on—I think it’s better than the foam and no roller marks to be found!)

We used my favorite short angled brush for all the little details.

Paint with a sheen takes more coats to cover vs flat (especially over primed MDF), so we ended up needing two full coats plus a bunch of smaller touchups.

There was a big debate in my IG stories about whether to paint the window trim green or white… most of you chose white (my initial plan) but after much consideration, I went with the green!

I think it’s a much more sophisticated (and less predictable/safe) look.

The door trim was painted green too, but I’m still debating on whether to paint the door green or white (it’s just primed right now).

 

So in love with this Valspar Wilderness. Depending on the wall/time of day, it ranges from an emerald green to an olive green to a deep mossy green.

Once we get our lights installed, the color will be even more dynamic. Looking forward to seeing how that looks later this week.

We still have quite a bit to do in here—crown molding, finish the door, install the vanity/faucet, lighting, toilet, hang the mirror and artwork and shower curtain and all the last minute details by the end of this week.

But we’re pretty excited about making it this far!

Hopefully this tutorial gives you the confidence to give board and batten a shot, no matter your skill level or experience. You might be surprised at how simple and straightforward it is! If I can do it 8.5 months pregnant in the hottest Florida summer days, I know you can too 😉

Check back in a few days for nursery progress!