Riverside Retreat Kitchen Plans

The Riverside Retreat kitchen renovation has been a long time coming, but we’ve finally pulled the trigger on Phase 1 and today I’m sharing all the plans for this budget conscious makeover!

If you’re new to the blog, we bought/moved into this house last summer with the goal of renovating it (on a budget) to become a vacation rental. Today it’s about halfway completed, and now that we’re no longer living there, we’ve finally started tackling the bigger projects like the kitchen and bathrooms. Make sure to check out the Before Tour here along with our design plans (you can also watch the video tour here).

The kitchen doesn’t look too horrible in the photos, but the cheap laminate cabinets were falling apart (and rotting away from exposed plumbing and water damage on the back wall).

It’s a decent sized room (13’5″ square) but floor plan of the house does not allow us to knock down any walls to open it up (it borders a laundry room, bedroom and a downstairs bonus room).

Door to the laundry room on the left, and main entrance from the dining room on the right (a bedroom is behind the wall in the center and can’t be removed):

The one thing this kitchen does have going for it is 9′ ceilings, which goes a long way to make it feel more open.

Last September we replaced the tile floors with new Pergo laminate, but didn’t touch anything else. I don’t recommend staying in a house during weeks of tile demolition—we will never forget living through The Great Dustpression of 2018.

I’ve had a year to think about the design for this space, and have finally come up with a plan I feel good about. The two biggest considerations for me were 1) price point and 2) overall look/feel.

Since this is an investment property and we have a limited budget, I had to be thoughtful about where to best allocate those dollars and that meant no splurging on high end items. With that said, a unique and eye-catching design is critical to stand out in the vacation rental market, so this can’t be a generic white kitchen. I had to find creative and inexpensive ways to make it feel custom but still classic, and in line with the overall theme of the BnB: tropical, earthy, boho, mediterranean resort style with lots of deep greens, natural textures, wood tones and bold patterns. 

I looked to Pinterest for inspiration, and a few recurring ideas stood out. Love the green used here, the vintage rug and how light and open the room feels with white uppers:

via the Everygirl

These cabinets are more teal but another great example of how much taller a room feels with open shelving/white on the top half. Love the gold accents and rug too:

via Style Me Pretty

Talk about going all in on color! This shade of earthy green is the closest to what I’m looking for, and it looks killer next to all the brass, natural wood and warm tones.

via Jean Stoffer Design

These cabinets are more of a sage green, but yet another example of green lowers paired with white on top. Such a refreshing combo!

via deVol kitchens

With my design direction established, I spent a lot of time searching out products that fit the style—and most importantly, the budget. Here’s what I came up with:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

A quick breakdown of the sources:

1. Cabinets

Cabinets are the foundation of a kitchen and typically the biggest portion of the budget, so I tend to choose them first when coming up with a design. I knew I wanted green lowers, but wasn’t able to source anything in stock in the right color. I quickly realized I’d have to use a custom color, and shopped around for unfinished cabinets I could paint myself, but even those options fell short (the wrong style, too expensive, not easily customizable/confusing ordering process).

Eventually I landed on IKEA, which is generally accepted as the most economical customized route. I’ve used their cabinets to build a DIY pantry, bench seating and bar area, but this would be my first time using them for an entire kitchen. Those were all positive experiences so I felt confident going all in this time. One of the biggest selling points, for me, was the ability to use their 3D planner to visualize the design before ordering.

After going through all of the options, I settled on the Torhamn style for the main cabinets/lowers, and Axstad for the white uppers.

I chose the Torhamn line because they’re wood and can be sanded/painted, they’re a classic shaker style and one of the most affordable door styles Ikea offers (picture all the wood cabinets in these renderings painted green—exact color still TBD!)

We’ll have to do some modifications/custom work like adding filler pieces, building a surround for the fridge, a custom range hood, crown molding and trim. Even still, we were able to customize quite a bit with the help of an Ikea associate. I’d highly recommend going over your plans with them before ordering, as they can make suggestions you didn’t even know were possible. Like our upper doors…

The 3D planner won’t let you mix and match door sizes with cabinet frames (we used 30″ plus 20″ boxes for the uppers) and the associate was able to swap the smaller doors out for individual 50″ doors. We weren’t able to preview the taller doors in the rendering, but this will be more functional and look cleaner (and saved us a little $).

We’ll be adding floating shelves on either side of the window which will help the kitchen feel more open, make it easier for guests, and save $ on cabinets. I did opt to spend a little more on their Spolad built-in dishwasher with a matching cabinet panel on the front—so worth a few hundred more to have a nice clean row of uninterrupted cabinets!

We ordered everything last week during their kitchen sale (10% off) and spent $5853 total, including our countertops and the dishwasher. It’ll end up costing more after all of the modifications we’ll need to add, but I’d consider around $5k (for the cabinets) in a standard sized kitchen to be a pretty sweet deal.

2. Backsplash

I knew I wanted to use Bedrosians Cloe tile since it first launched last fall. I’ve had samples sitting in a box for months and decided the white colorway would be perfect for this space.

It’s a classic subway style shape but the color variation, sheen and texture add a ton of dimension and interest. Now the only question is… stacked or staggered?

3 & 4. Pulls & knobs

I was almost ready to pull the trigger on these knobs and pulls for our Heights House kitchen and ended up nixing those plans since there was no matching appliance pull. But that means I can finally use them now!

I found them on Lowe’s and love the fact that the pulls come in 4″, 5″ and 6″ lengths with matching knobs.

The best part is, they range from just $4-$8. Done and done!

5. Pendant light

We’ll be adding a pendant light above the sink, and this schoolhouse style is timeless, classic and budget-friendly (also on sale until tomorrow!)

6. Countertops

This was one of the more difficult decisions because I had envisioned white/marble-like counters in the original plan. I thought Ikea’s Eckbacken would be perfect (only $80/slab!) but didn’t love the way it looked in person and was concerned with the quality over time—definitely too good to be true at that price.

I couldn’t justify spending thousands on real stone, so that left us with the tried and true budget-friendly option—butcher block:

Ikea carries a few different styles/species, and I chose the Karlby as it was the closest match to our floors.

Even though it wasn’t my first choice, I’ve come around to the idea of wood—especially given the fact that our countertops only cost around $300 total. You really can’t beat that!

7. Faucet

A satin brass/gold finish similar to our cabinet hardware was the most important factor for me here, and those options are surprisingly limited. I’ve been using fixtures in Delta’s champagne bronze line for years (reputable brand + beautiful finish), and found a simple/relatively affordable faucet that fit the bill:

8. Sink

I love a good farmhouse sink—in fact I’ve used them in every kitchen remodel since 2013—but this time I decided to mix things up and go with an undermount. No particular reason other than to try something new and save a few bucks. This simple white 33″ undermount sink is only $163 and has good ratings, so we’ll give it a shot!

9 & 10. Fridge & range

This was another decision I researched heavily and went back and forth on a LOT. I plan to write a dedicated blog post on the non-stainless steel appliance options I found and lay out all the pros/cons of each, so I won’t get into those details just yet.

Ultimately, I decided on Whirlpool’s sunset bronze line, using this counter-depth fridge:

And coordinating Smart electric range:

Price point was the biggest determining factor, and they’ve popped up on sale twice in the past couple months (15% off right now until 8/7!) We won’t be ready to order for a while, so I’m hoping to wait and snag them on sale again a couple months down the line.

I think that covers everything! I’m on the hunt for a vintage (or vintage-style) rug but that will come later, and I’m still on the fence about adding an island. Since it will be a vacation rental there doesn’t need to be a ton of cabinet storage for food/pantry items, just the basic essentials. Demo began last month but we’ve switched our focus to other projects, so we’re still working on getting contractors lined up for the work.

The plumbing and electric need to be redone first, and we’ll be hiring out the vast majority  since we’ll be busy with a newborn starting in a few weeks—although we DID buy a paint sprayer and plan to DIY painting the cabinets.

The only thing we’ve purchased so far are the cabinets, counters and dishwasher, and this won’t be a super quick renovation so everything else in the design plan is subject to change! You never know what may pop up in the next couple months…

I’ll be sharing updates on Instagram if you want to follow along with the renovation, and I’ll also post periodic updates here on the blog to show the progress. In the meantime, we’ve got a new bathroom that’s only a couple weeks away from being finished—more on that next week! Exciting times at the Riverside Retreat…


Heights House Smart Locks & Home Features

It’s not often talked about in the home/design blogging world, but I believe smart home features are every bit as important (sometimes even more so) as design and décor. They provide convenience, comfort and safety, and keep our house (and lives) running smoothly.

Now that we’ve finally settled into a permanent home after years of traveling and renting, researching and implementing smart home features has been a priority. We spend the vast majority of our time here, so why not make it as functional as possible?

In this post I’ll be sharing the features we’ve added to our home, our experience with them so far and what’s next on our list. Good news: most are easy to install and easy on the wallet!

First, let’s talk about these doors and locks (not smart home related but I’ve been meaning to share the sources!)

If you’ve been around for a while, you know my love affair with doors and hardware runs deep. They’re one of the most important design elements in my book, and this house was no exception. I ordered custom solid core 7′ doors from a manufacturer on Ebay and had them painted in SW Accessible Beige.

When it came to the hardware, I had a specific style in mind, and Emtek was my first choice. Apart from being well known for their quality, Emtek has an insanely huge catalog of options in every finish under the sun, so I was able to find exactly what I was looking for.

I opted for a 9″ Colonial plate with the turino brass lever in matte black for all of our interior doors. One of the best and most unique features of Emtek is the ability to mix and match different backplates, levers and knobs in different finishes—not only with full handlesets, but even on individual sides of the door! This really comes in handy if you have one side of the door painted a different color (which I often do) or want a different style for the interior of a certain room.

The matte black lever style goes with everything so I decided to keep them all consistent, but it’s nice to know I can easily switch out different parts in the future if I change my mind.

Moving onto the exterior doors—here’s where the technology comes in. We enter the house through the back patio french doors, and wanted a secure keyless entry system. Emtek just released their EMPowered Smart lock a couple months ago so we decided to give it a shot.

All you need is the smart deadbolt paired with a regular passage handle (no keyset/lock required) so I used the same 9″ colonial plates in matte black, but with knobs instead of levers.

Installation and setup is straightforward, though you do have to drill an extra hole in the door frame for a sensor. We can’t get enough of the sleek look (and hallelujah for no fumbling for house keys!)

We used the same smart lock on the front door as well.

You can program multiple codes for friends/visitors to use, and it can be controlled with both Alexa and the August app.

This is especially useful when we’re away—we can simply open the August app and see the current status (the sensor lets us know if the doors are closed/locked, closed/unlocked, ajar or open). We can also lock/unlock both doors, and view a timestamped history of when they were opened and which code(s) were used. Pretty convenient, right?

As much as I love technology, I didn’t want the hardware to look too modern and take away from the medieval style of the front door, so I thought the Baden entry set was a nice compromise.

On the inside, I just switched out the lever to match the other interior doors.

And there’s one more very important addition to the front door…

Our Ring Doorbell Pro!

Several months ago we installed the Ring doorbell at the Riverside Retreat and it has been one of our favorite upgrades. We knew we’d want one for this house too, so I scooped up the Pro version when it went on sale for $199 a couple months ago.

If you aren’t familiar with the Ring, let me tell you why it’s one of our most useful smart home features. The Ring records video and sends you alerts when there’s motion at your front door (with the Pro version, the sensitivity field can be adjusted so it won’t pick up activity in the street).

The built-in camera, microphone and speaker allow you to see, hear and communicate with visitors in real time (through the Ring app or your Alexa devices).

You can review a log of past activity, and there’s no subscription required—however—after 30 days you’ll need to subscribe their Recording Plan in order to store/retrieve past recorded videos (plans started at $3/mo last I checked).

We didn’t bother subscribing after our free trial ended at the Riverside Retreat, but it would have come in handy when a car flipped over and crashed into our driveway a few weeks ago ? Once that house becomes a vacation rental, you can bet we’ll be buying the subscription! Still undecided if we’ll splurge for it at this house…

Let’s get out of the heat and step back inside to our next smart home feature—the EcoBee thermostat:

The EcoBee was recommended by our builder’s low voltage installer (over the Nest or other similar models) and we have no complaints so far. The two biggest selling points for me are the ability to set it on an automatic schedule, and the fact that it communicates with Alexa (this was a must).

It really is just set it and forget it, and you can program different away/vacation modes as well. Although there is an ongoing battle in our house over the ideal settings… one of us does not agree that 75º when you’re 8 months pregnant during Florida summer is acceptable. 68º at night is pushing it, too. Marriage is all about compromise, right? 😉

Our last (but certainly not least) and most used features of the house? The Amazon Echo Spot and Dot:

We started using Alexa this past Christmas and haven’t gone a day without it. The Echo Spot is our main hub, and we keep it in the kitchen/dining area where we spend our evenings. It’s voice controlled and mostly used to play music and podcasts, but it’s also very useful for setting timers (especially while cooking) and reminders throughout the day.

We also keep an Echo Dot (it does the same thing, just without a screen) in our bedroom and I just bought another one (on sale for only $25!) for the nursery, which will be perfect to play white noise once baby starts sleeping there.

For me, the biggest selling point of Alexa is its compatibility with so many other smart technology devices. We use it with our door locks, thermostat, Ring doorbell and house speakers—and that’s just scratching the surface. It’s so nice to have the option to control everything by voice and with one app.

One cool feature is the ability to customize routines, where you can give Alexa a command and have her execute a set of pre-programmed actions. Before heading to our room for the night, we’ll say “Alexa, we’re going to bed” and she’ll lock our doors, set the temperature and play the music of our choice:

How neat is that? If you’re unfamiliar with Alexa and all of its features, I’d definitely look into it (Amazon reviews are my favorite way to research). It has made our lives so much more convenient and will only continue to improve as new technology is released and Alexa skills are added. I’d recommend starting with an Echo Dot (you can get two right now for $50!) and see how you like it.

Our smart home journey is only beginning, and we’re still in the process of learning and adding more features. We had speakers installed in the kitchen, dining room, living room and bedroom and we’re currently looking into smart receivers to be able to control them through Alexa (music is life around here and we can’t go a day without it! Also, necessary for entertaining which we love to do).

We also just bought a smart TV on sale during Prime Day (our first TV in years!) which will connect to Alexa and allow us to watch Netflix, access apps and the internet. We have no desire to pay for cable (we don’t watch TV anyway apart from football season) so this setup is perfect for us.

Future upgrades we’re looking into are a smart garage door (ours is broken and desperately needs to be replaced), smart bulbs/lighting and smart AC vents (this technology is still very new, but we waste a lot of energy cooling the entire house at night instead of our bedroom only).

Tell me, have you jumped on the smart home train yet? I’m convinced it’s only a matter of time before we’re controlling everything in our lives via voice or app. Time is our most valuable resource and anything that makes our lives operate with less friction is a step in the right direction. What smart home features do you use and love?

Easy (and affordable) DIY Trellis Install

We’re now a couple months into our new routine of maintaining the yard at the Heights House. Figuring out how to properly care for so many different plants has been a bit of a learning curve (not to mention the never ending weeding and mowing!) and I still owe you guys a complete landscaping post. That will come soon, but today I wanted to share a recent project we tackled on our own that I’m pretty proud of.

Part of our landscape/hardscape plan was creating half-moon bumpouts along the wall on our back patio for bougainvilleas. Here’s a shot from May after the paver installers finished, before they were planted (in blooming season!)

They were planted and stayed wrapped around the little wood trellis for a while as we focused on moving in and other projects…

The plan was always to construct some sort of large trellis so that they would climb the wall. Originally we had envisioned vines organically crawling across the stucco, but those are invasive and would end up damaging the house eventually. Our landscaper suggested bougainvillea as an option, and we loved the idea (especially in blooming season) so that was the route we took.

The next piece of the puzzle was how to build the trellis. There are so many options to choose from—pre-made wood sheets, DIY from scratch, fabricated metal, hooks and wire—the list goes on. Pretty quickly I eliminated the costliest and most time consuming options, as  we have a laundry list of more pressing house projects to complete this summer. After spending ample time on Pinterest (which gave me plenty of great ideas but didn’t lead to a clear winner) I spotted these on Amazon…

The price tag was the first thing that caught my eye (only $50 for 2 panels) and when I read the details and reviews I was even more interested. We had a pretty specific size to fill between two windows, and most of the other options I found were a too wide and/or too short. This trellis expands all the way up to 120″ and we could adjust the width to fit the wall. And since it was already assembled there was little work involved—simply attach it to the wall. I was also a fan of the natural willow branch material and thought it’d be a nice contrast against our light walls. SOLD!

They arrived a few days later…

Then we had to figure out how to attach it to the wall. With wood siding it’s pretty simple, but when drilling into concrete you need to use anchors. We found these plastic anchors that can be used with drywall or masonry:


And I also grabbed a pack of these hooks to screw into the anchors:

Before getting started, Lucas held up the first trellis while I stood back to direct.

Once I was happy with the position, he held it in place as I marked the wall at four corners of the trellis where we wanted to place the hooks. The trellis was then removed, and Lucas drilled into the holes using the masonry bit that came with our anchor kit.

Next, the anchors were inserted and gently hammered into place.

Followed by the screw hooks…

A wrench was used for the last bit to make sure they were nice and snug. These aren’t going anywhere!

The process was repeated on each corner…

Moment of truth…

And it fit!

In hindsight we realized it would probably make more sense to face the bottom hooks down and the top hooks up so there’s natural resistance, but the trellis wasn’t going to budge unless you were physically trying to take it down. Just to be safe, we cut some wire to wrap around the hooks.

The trellis sticks out a few inches from the wall, which should be a good distance to allow the bougainvillea to weave through.

Since the expandable joints make the trellis easily movable, we decided to add a fifth hook in the center to keep it from shifting.

That did the trick!

And our first trellis was ready to roll…

Followed shortly by the second:

Finally, we had to remove the old wood trellis and get these bougies climbing. We used a jigsaw to cut out the old…

Then carefully pulled apart the branches and wrapped them around the new trellis. No real rhyme or reason to this, we just tried to be as careful as we could (although there were a few casualties in the process).

But these plants seem pretty hearty and have been thriving in the past several weeks, so we’re hopeful they’ll take to their new home.

Think tall thoughts, little bougies!

They’ve been hanging out here for 17 days and not much has changed yet, but they aren’t regressing so that’s a good sign…

The addition of the trellises have definitely made a noticeable difference on the patio.

They have such a lovely presence and fill the space quite nicely. And the entire project cost less than $70 (that’s $35 per trellis!) and under two hours from start to finish.

We’re also loving the view from inside…

Ahh… it’s the little things in life. So happy with the way our home is shaping up.

If you have an empty section of wall on the outside of your house, I highly encourage you to give this a try! There are lots of ways to make it your own and you can use planted pots if you don’t have any ground space. Landscaping and greenery really does make such a difference, and will especially pay off over time as they fill in. Looking forward to watching them grow!

More Heights House updates, coming soon! In the meantime, you can follow the progress in real time on my Instagram stories and see what’s been inspiring me lately on Pinterest. Happy mid-summer!

Nursery Closet Reveal

Today I’m sharing Part 2 of our nursery organization—the closet! Make sure to check out Part 1 with our hidden storage changing table first in case you missed it.

Here’s how the closet and nook looked when we moved in…

This wall was originally an 8′ closet in the build plans, but we opted to divide it into a 4′ enclosed closet plus an open nook for a dresser/changing station (one of our better ideas, I must say).

Closet makeovers are high on my list of top DIY projects because they’re small and manageable, and you can have more fun and experiment with the design since it can be hidden behind doors. Plus, organizing sparks all the joy for me so this is right up my alley (and obviously I’ve been dying to start nesting after 7.5 months of carrying this baby!)

For this project, I went with painted stripes instead of wallpaper (we were all wallpapered out after our recent closet makeover, plus we’ll be hanging a wall mural on the adjacent wall) so I picked up a roll of the widest painter’s tape I could find (1.88″).

There’s a few different ways you could approach the spacing, and we decided to keep it simple and make the stripes even. Instead of marking up the wall, we ripped off small pieces of tape and carefully lined them up along the edge of the wall vertically every couple feet, acting as spacers. Starting from top to bottom, we secured the first piece of tape, making sure it was aligned with our tape spacers. Then we moved the spacers to the right side of the tape and repeated the process.

Lucas stood on the ladder and handled the top section, while I took over on the bottom half. It took us about an hour in total.

We did the same for the nook wall.

Now here’s the important step—instead of simply painting the wall and calling it a day, you’ll want to first paint the wall with the existing wall color (the color underneath your tape) to avoid bleed through. This will ensure the wall color bleeds through under any loose areas of the tape first, blocking the second color. I used SW Alabaster (flat), one coat should suffice.

After the wall color has dried, go ahead and paint your stripes. I chose a gorgeous pale putty pink (SW Malted Milk) in satin.

Seriously can’t get enough of this color.

I applied two coats for full coverage with a smooth foam roller and waited around 20-30 minutes, until it had just dried, before removing the tape. Moment of truth!

This is the fun part…

Look at those stripes! You can see a bit of the pink closet wall before we had removed the tape there.

And here’s how the closet turned out. The house painters didn’t do a perfect job priming/painting this area and the tape ripped off some of the drywall, so we had to do some touchups, but no big deal. I also painted all of the trim and doors Malted Milk (the existing color was SW Accessible Beige, if you were wondering).

Now for the closet part! After lots of research trying to figure out the best/most budget-friendly and easily customizable closet system, I settled on the IKEA Pax wardrobe. I’ve used the Pax in the past, both as a kitchen pantry and bedroom built-ins, so I was familiar with the process and ease of assembly/customization. After using Ikea’s online planner to design the perfect setup, we happily made the drive there with our shopping list in hand.

A few days later when we went to put it all together, I realized our closet was 7/8″ too narrow for the standard 24″ deep wardrobe—ugh! At least I can blame the oversight on pregnancy brain (I’ll miss having that excuse in a couple months) so back to Ikea we went, this time coming home with the 14″ deep frame. Here’s what we bought:

We assembled the frame as planned, opting to skip the back piece to allow the stripes to show through.

And there she is!

There was just one slight issue—the baseboards prevented the frame from being flush up against the walls (those pesky baseboards are always causing trouble!) Fortunately, we were able to use our Dremel multi-max to easily cut them away.

We just got this tool a couple months ago, and I’m not sure how I ever lived without it (we’ve used it for so many things around the house already!)

Once both sides were cut, the frame was able to slide nicely into place.

Our frame was secured to the wall and ready for drawers and shelves…

The closet depth ended up working out perfectly in the end, as the fully extended drawers cleared the door trim by about 1/4″—whew!

I also added a few shelves and a pull-out clothes rod.

That was it for the Pax system, but we still had around 25″ of empty space on the left side. I decided that two more clothes rods would be the best use of space, so I picked up a $13 72″ rod from Lowe’s and inexpensive low profile flanges from Amazon. The flanges were secured to the drywall (with anchors):

Then into the wardrobe frame with short screws, and the wood rod was easily cut down to size:

We also picked up a 12×48″ laminate shelf for the top (it matches the Ikea shelves quite nicely and costs only $9) and a 1×2″, which we cut down into 3 pieces and painted to make our own brace:

The shelf was cut down to size, and we marked a line along the wall after holding it level in place:

The 1×2’s were secured along this wall with anchors and screws, checking each piece to confirm level:

We lined it up so that it would be mostly hidden behind the rod:

And this closet is DONE! Not bad for under $250 right?

Oh my heart…

Organizing this little space has been the highlight of my pregnancy (nesting mamas, you can relate!)

I mean really, does it get any cuter than these bows?!

I picked up this canvas keepsake box at a recent trip to the Container Store, and found these fabric storage bins for less than $7/ea on Wayfair (it pays to shop around!)

The great thing about this wardrobe is that I can easily swap out drawers/shelves/clothes rods within the Pax system as her storage needs change.

Three drawers are plenty for now though—enough to hold onesies (top drawer), bottoms (second drawer) and pajamas (third drawer).

I picked up these expandable drawer dividers at The Container Store to help keep things organized.

The sweet gold + ivory velvet hangers are another one of my favorite budget finds at just 38 cents each (they also have rose gold, which I almost bought instead)

I just can’t with her little coming home outfit. Six more weeks and I’ll be dressing her in it…

The woven storage bin on the top shelf was another Container Store find at 30% off (under $12!) and it’s still on sale. I’m using it to store her next size up clothes.

I found this $10 seagrass basket on Amazon and have a second larger one on the way (they’ll be used for toys and laundry).

The ring door pulls arrived just in time to snap these photos yesterday evening. They’re the same $3 pulls from Lowe’s I used for our last closet makeover—so versatile and you can’t beat the price!

In love with this whole door situation, and I’m really glad we went custom on these with the French chateau style.

Never has a closet made me so happy (and that’s saying a lot if you understand my love for closets!)

We’re just getting started in the nursery, so hold onto your booties! More pink and bows and baby girl goodness coming your way soon…

Nursery Changing Station DIY (with hidden storage!)

Before we get into today’s post, we have a long overdue vlog update! Watch below to see what we’ve been up to since moving into the Heights House:

And now for the details on our first completed nursery project…

Last weekend I shared live updates in my Instagram stories of our progress, and my DM was flooded with hundreds of messages, so I figured I’d break down the details for you in a separate post.

We had this nook built with the intention of using it as a changing station for baby, and last month I found the perfect vintage dresser:

A couple weekends ago we painted the trim and stripes (using SW Malted Milk)—I’ll share the simple method we used to get clean stripes in the next post this week:

Although the dresser was a perfect fit, it didn’t offer a ton of surface area and I didn’t want to build shelves above it to put everything on display, or have to open the drawer to grab something every time. Somehow we came up with the idea to move the dresser forward and build a hidden cubby behind it—lightbulb moment! 

Our materials list was simple—a 1x6x8′ pine board from Lowe’s and a couple brackets. We measured the width of our nook and cut two long boards for the bottom and side, and two short pieces for the ends.

The plan was to assemble them together like this, with the open end against the wall:

Since the top and sides would be visible, I went ahead and painted those areas (using the wall color, SW Alabaster). We also cut a few extra blocks to make dividers:

After the paint had dried, it was time for assembly. First we needed to attach the bottom to the sides. Holding the two pieces in place at 90º, we predrilled two holes:

Then inserted our screws:


Repeat on the other side, and we were ready to roll:

Before getting it into place, we predrilled two more holes for the screws that would attach to the wall.

After measuring the dresser to determine our desired wall height, we marked our measurement along the wall…

Then held the shelf up along those marks, checking for level.

Once in place, we drilled through the last four holes we made to mark the locations on the wall and removed the shelf. The screws closest to the wall would end up in a stud, but we needed to use drywall anchors for the other two (btw, never using anything other than these self drilling anchors again!)

Once the drywall anchors were in, we lined our shelf back up and inserted the screws (one into the anchor, one into the stud).

For extra support, we decided to use a couple of these metal brackets along the bottom:

First step, find and mark the stud locations:

Then attach the braces into the wall and shelf (for the wall we used longer screws than what was provided in order to reach the studs):

And we’re in!

At this point we decided there was no need for an additional piece of wood in the back, since the back of the dresser would serve the same purpose. Here it is in place… you’d never know something was behind it!

Until you peek around back…

Obviously I couldn’t wait a single minute before organizing it. We have yet to buy most of our changing supplies so this isn’t the finished setup (do we need anything other than diapers, wipes, rash cream and lotion?)

The next day it was time for a dresser makeover! I decided on Maison Blanche‘s french lime paint, in the color Printemps (which is a pale sagey green):

I also made sure to use a brand new brush (my favorite $5 brush) and applied the first coat:

This paint is not like regular latex paint at all—it’s has a powdery finish that you layer on and end up with visible texture and depth for an aged look. It can get really thick, and I found that it’s best to water it down for a smoother finish.

I applied 3-4 coats, lightly sanding with a 320 grit block in between.

You can see how much lighter it gets when it dries (the bottom drawer is still wet in the photo below):

Finally, I sealed the dresser with three coats of Minwax polycrylic in matte:

It’s hard to capture the true color in photos, but it’s so soft and delicate, and I think it will be gorgeous with the forest mural…

And I love the way it looks next to the natural texture of the seagrass changing basket.

One more time for the overhead view…

I’m tempted to put our cat in the basket for a practice diaper change 😉 Daydreaming is fun…

I also didn’t waste any time organizing these drawers! The nursery is now 95% organized (even though the room is only 10% complete…)

Next up I’m spilling all the details on her closet makeover. My nesting has been in serious overdrive lately (making up for lost time) and nothing makes me happier than staring at all her little clothes and accessories neatly stored away. Can’t wait to share that with you in a couple days—stay tuned for more nursery fun my friends!

Nursery Design Plans

I can’t help but smile as I write this… I’ve been dreaming about designing my very own nursery for so many years, in every house I’ve lived in for the past decade. This is finally where my baby comes home. It feels surreal, mixed with equal parts excitement and gratitude.

My dream nursery design has evolved over the years, and most recently has been influenced by our travels and the inspiration used to build our Heights House.

It’s not a very large room, measuring just over 10’x12′. We opted to divide the closet into two sections, creating an open nook perfectly sized for a changing table—best decision ever. I also ordered these custom 2’x7′ Chateau closet doors from Simpson Door Company.

That gives us one wall of closet/dresser space, one wall of windows, and two empty walls to work with.

I’ve been stockpiling inspiration on Pinterest and came up with this vision: a calming garden sanctuary mixed with classic French architecture, soft putty pink alongside creamy whites and golds, natural woven textures next to delicate flowers and bows, sprinkled with vintage details and charm.

It’s a whole lot of styles and character wrapped into one little room, which I’m dubbing French Country Forest…

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When coming up with the design plan, there were a few things I immediately knew I wanted, and others I’ve gone back and forth on (and still haven’t figured out completely, to be honest!)

The very first thing I chose many months ago is what sparked the entire vision for the room—this forest wall mural from Rocky Mountain Decals:

Is this not what garden dreams are made of? It’s as if it was designed to float above a crib. This will be installed on the back wall where her crib will sit (eventually) and I’m over the moon excited to see how it looks in person.

Speaking of crib, that’s one item I haven’t found the perfect match for yet. Baby will sleep in our room in a bassinet for the first six months or so, and I’ve decided to take my time and shop around. In the meantime, I found this gorgeous macrame hanging bassinet (under $50!) that will likely just hold her toys for the time being. At that price, I couldn’t pass it up.


The chandelier is another decision I’m still debating on. I have it narrowed down to three options… this aged white candelabra style:

This elegant and slightly more modern gold style:


And this one which is simpler but almost 1/3 the price of the other two:

I’m completely torn! A gold finish is my preference but I do love the more traditional/aged look of the other two. #1 is so pretty but #3 is crazy inexpensive and I love a good bargain. Do you have a favorite?

Another design element I was sure about from the beginning was using a soft blush pink as the primary room color.

The winner was pretty clear—I found my match with Sherwin Williams Malted Milk. It’s subdued and elegant, the perfect shade of putty pink.

The trim, doors, window wall and left accent wall will all be painted Malted Milk (with everything else in SW Alabaster). The back wall of the open nook and inside of the closet will also have a stripe accent—you may have caught the process last weekend in my Instagram stories if you follow me there!

In the next nursery post I’ll share all about these DIY stripes and closet setup, stay tuned 🙂

Speaking of accent walls, molding will be a major feature in this room. I’ve partnered with Ekena Millwork once again and am excited to incorporate a variety of traditional moldings on the walls and ceiling:

If you’ve been following my work for the past year or two, you know that moldings and trim have become a staple in my designs—they’re what’s going to take the sophistication of this room to the next level. Just imagine the prettiest wainscoting details in blush pink… sigh.

I’ll make sure to do a separate blog post with all the DIY install details—apart from the mural (or maybe tied with?) I predict this will be my favorite feature of the room.

To soften the room, I’ll hang floor to ceiling off-white linen drapes. I haven’t ordered these yet, but am in the process of narrowing down swatches from Barn & Willow  (I worked with them to design my reading nook roman shade which was top notch quality). A little inspiration…

To add softness and texture to the floors, I found this 8′ woven rug from Wayfair:

It’s perfectly neutral with an unique varied weave that should be great to hide stains and spills.

Next up: the glider! This was one of the more challenging items to find, as most (at least the ones I liked) are surprisingly expensive. I searched high and low to find something stylish and comfortable for under $500, and think I’ve exhausted every option on the internet (any fellow mamas-to-be want a blog post with all of my findings?)

In the end, I landed on this swivel glider for $399:


Right now they only have gray listed, but according to their website they’ll have more ivory back in stock soon (fingers crossed, as I’m waiting to purchase!) I chose this option not only for the price and style, but also the bonus storage ottoman that will be perfect for storing nursing supplies.

Moving right along to the last section: the changing nook! Days of searching secondhand online paid off, and I snagged this vintage dresser that happened to be just the perfect size:

I’ll be coating it with Maison Blanche’s Printemps French lime paint, a light sage green (the same color used here in my apothecary nightstand makeover):

Sorry wood purists, not changing my mind! 😉 One of my favorite features is the original marble top, which will be easy to wipe clean and adds another layer of color and texture.

Speaking of texture… I couldn’t pass up this darling seagrass changing basket:

A little pricey for what it is, but it’s one of those details that won’t go unnoticed in the room.

On the wall behind the dresser, we’ll be DIYing a hidden storage shelf/caddy for all of our changing supplies—definitely one of our best a-ha moments! Looking forward to sharing a tutorial with you soon.

And on the wall above the dresser, I’m on the hunt for a pretty gold vintage mirror. This classic style with a bow is currently in the lead:

But I’m also considering this unique shape for under $100…

And I’ve still got my eye out for antique mirrors secondhand locally, so we’ll see what ends up there!

The last piece of the puzzle is a DIY flower mobile I’ll hang above the changing table to give baby something pretty to look at 6-8 times/day…

via The Merrythought

My own version will look a bit different, as I have a stash of florals in storage I’ll be pulling from as well as adding a few more. This is the fun, stress-free kind of DIY project I could do all day long 🙂

And there you have it, my dream nursery! There will be a few more details like artwork, hooks, hardware etc that will come together later and of course I’ll share all the sources during the final reveal. Hoping to get this room completed within the next month, and that means baby girl had better stay put until her due date (7 weeks to go, ahhh!)

Happy days ahead…

Closet From Scratch Reveal: Riverside Retreat

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

Today calls for a mini-celebration, because we’ve finally knocked one small but mighty project off our to-do list at the Riverside Retreat!

If you’re just tuning in for the first time, a couple weeks ago I outlined our plans to create a master closet + doorway to a new master bathroom, along with the framing and drywall progress. Here was the original bedroom wall:

We bumped the wall out 2’10” to accommodate a closet and space for the new bathroom.

Then drywall went in, followed by taping and mudding…

Then the doors and trim:

The door panels came with a protective plastic cover on both sides so you can easily paint or stain the wood without having to scrape paint off the glass later. I used Valspar’s Cracked Pepper in semi-gloss:

The unfinished wood soaks up the highly pigmented paint so it only needed one coat.

Some of you may have caught a timelapse of removing the plastic in my Instagram stories…

Once the doors were prepped, we removed them and moved onto the next stage. I had an extra roll of this lovely toile wallpaper from Brewster Home leftover from our powder bath at the Heights House, and thought it would fit perfectly in this space. One hour later…

We also painted the trim SW Loggia (to match the rest of the house) in semi-gloss.

Next it was time to assemble the closet. I ordered this Easy Track closet kit made to fit closets up to 5′ wide:

Assembly was straightforward, requiring just a drill (if you’ve assembled IKEA furniture, you can put this together!)

We did have to cut our rods and one shelf down a bit since our closet is under 5′ wide. Even still, it didn’t take us more than a couple hours.

Since this house will be used as a vacation rental, simple and cost effective was our goal as we don’t need a ton of storage and organization features. If this were my own closet though, I’d definitely add a few of the drawers and accessories that fit with this kit!

After the inside of the closet was complete, we reattached the doors. I ordered a new 28″ Jeld-Wen door for the bathroom that matched the 1940’s style of our existing original doors and it turned out perfect! I got mine on sale for $140, but even at the regular price I think it’s a great deal for a pre-hung solid core.

The final step was adding curtains to the french doors. I picked up some inexpensive muslin fabric, cut it to length and used peel and stick hem tape to form pockets at each end.

Then we mounted sash rods to the top and bottom…

Worked like a charm!

And just like that, our fancy little French closet was born…

I wonder who will be the first person to use it…

We’ll be storing extra towels, linens and pillows for the house here.

And we built it extra deep so suitcases can fit too.

How gorgeous is this glass Schlage knob? These will go on all the interior doors throughout the house, and this is the first one installed.

I’m also digging the delicate ring pulls on the closet doors.

They’re only $3/ea and I’m thinking about using them again in the nursery…

This whole door situation is my favorite. Those curtains just do it for me.

There’s also something about an old fashioned folding hamper

I’m having a bit of closet envy now, wishing we had this setup in our own house!

A closet is also the perfect place to try out wallpaper for the first time. I just used what I had on hand, but a few other options at Lowe’s caught my eye like this striking black & white toile, this textured grasscloth I’ve been wanting to try (perfect for a closet!) and this fun nautical pattern (fitting theme for a vacation rental). Lowe’s has hundreds of options and I’ve had great luck finding just what I was looking for there.

Fortunately closets are also some of the easiest spaces to pull together (even when built from scratch) and these customizable kits are definitely the way to go, especially for under $200 like this one.

Let’s do a little quick Before & After comparison…

And for a little dose of reality, here’s what the rest of the room looks like right now…

Desperate measures to block out the window reflection in the photos:

The rest of the house is covered in tools and construction dust & debris at the moment, and that won’t be changing anytime soon as we continue work on two bathrooms, a kitchen and two more bedrooms. This is quickly becoming the longest house renovation in history (only a slight exaggeration) but today at least, we celebrate one small victory…

More plans and projects, coming soon!

Kitchen Progress: Heights House

A couple weeks ago I shared a complete “Moving in” tour of the Heights House (btw, the YouTube video is already up to 100k views—insanity!) with a quick walkthrough of each room.

Today I want to dive into the room a lot of you have been asking about—none other than the heart of our home, the kitchen…

This isn’t a room reveal post (we still have a few things to do in here!) but a progress report where I’ll be sharing the sources and our plans to complete the space.

First thing’s first—make sure to check out the Kitchen Plans post from back in January, which explains the whole design process and all the decision making, including cabinet selection, fixtures and appliances.

I partnered with Lowe’s on this project, choosing Kraftmaid cabinets (I used them in my Modern Farmhouse and Cottage Flip and was very happy with the results, so it was an easy choice) in the color Mushroom, with the Durham Maple Square face. We had a lot of fun choosing our layout and storage features—I’ll have to do a dedicated post soon showing exactly how we organize everything.

I went into detail on this in the Kitchen Plans post, but we ended up choosing Silestone Quartz Calacatta Gold counters after seeing the slab in person. The overall design is pretty subtle, but more noticeable in person than the photos…

I love that it’s not too “in your face” and I think it’s classic enough to stay on trend for many years.

The overall tone is white with soft gray veining, but it does have bits of gold in some areas (hence the Calacatta Gold name).

Our counter installation isn’t actually complete yet, if you’ve noticed the lack of a backsplash. We were waiting for the stove to be installed before having them take the last measurement, since we’ll be adding quartz above the stove inside the range hood surround:

I think it’s going to look pretty stunning with our brass pot filler…

I ordered this Danze Opulence pot filler to match the stove & faucet. It’s heavy solid brass and I can’t wait to use it 🙂

And while we’re talking about this range hood, the surround started as a mockup I made in Illustrator…

I worked directly with my builder and one of his carpenters to bring it to life over a few days.

I freehanded the templates for the curved sides, and they used plywood and 2×4’s to construct the frames.

We had to make a couple modifications but I think they did a fantastic job of executing my vision.

Did you know drywall could be so flexible?

The surface was given a few coats of mud, sanded down and painted, and that’s where we’re at today. I’ll likely need to coat the inside with satin paint to make cleanups easier—we’ll see how it does over time!

Ok, I’m sure you’re all wanting to hear more about the star of the show, the work of fine Italian art that is our range…

It’s a 48″ dual fuel Hallman range, white with brass hardware. I purchased it through Appliances Connection (it’s the same price and lead time no matter where you order from) because of their rewards program—we bought our 48″ range hood at a discount with points from our stove order.

Overall, it wasn’t a perfect experience. I originally ordered the ‘bronze’ hardware which is depicted as almost a champagne gold in Hallman’s photos (it was a close call for me between this and the brass, which is $100 less):

Then I did a bit more research and found a real life customer photo—the bronze is actually more like black (oil rubbed bronze) in real life! Nothing like the product photo. I immediately called Appliances Connection and requested to change to brass (this was about a week after placing the order) and they said it was too late, and that I’d have to pay $800 to change the hardware. Umm, no thanks, and Hallman really needs to fix their product photo (they said it was in the works, but five months later it still hasn’t been updated—here’s how the bronze really looks):

I came to terms with the bronze hardware and even decided I liked it. Then last month when we called to get an update (it was past the delivery date at this point) they told us that the order was delayed for two more months because they didn’t have the bronze hardware in stock. In an ironic turn of events, they offered to ship it out with the brass hardware, which was in stock, at no additional charge. So that worked out…

It took five months to arrive from Italy (we actually just received the toe kick last night after trying to track it down for weeks) and we’ve barely had a chance to use it because our gas was only hooked up two days ago. The gas installer broke the elbow pipe while attempting to install it the first time and it’s a special pipe from the manufacturer, so he wasn’t able to find a replacement. Fortunately, the CEO of Hallman himself reached out and offered to expedite the part for us at no cost, which was a pleasant surprise!

However, the ignition on one of the burners has already stopped working so we’re going to have to call customer service and hope it’s an easy fix. So far, the only verdict is that it’s an incredibly gorgeous appliance and I’ll be extremely disappointed if it doesn’t operate half as good as it looks… because this girl likes to cook. I took a gamble with this range because the price is significantly less than anything else in its class, so I’m hoping Hallman won’t let me down!

On the topic of appliances—I’m a firm believer that they should either be beautiful, or hidden. There are a few major companies that are finally coming around (hello, GE Café) and offering customizable colors, but the majority are still stuck in the stainless steel era.

Long before designing this kitchen I was pretty set on using integrated/panel-ready appliances that would blend into the cabinets as seamlessly as possible. These tend to be pricier than your average appliance, but well worth every penny in my opinion. Can you spot the dishwasher?

Well hi there, handsome!

After lots of reviews, I landed on this Bosch model and so far, we’re very pleased (especially after living without a dishwasher for over two years—what a luxury!) A few of you with the same model messaged me on Instagram saying how much you loved it, too. It has a separate utensil rack, which is basically the greatest invention in recent dishwasher history. I’ll be sure to cover it more in depth in my kitchen organization post.

Another choice we’re quite happy with is our KitchenAid panel ready fridge. With the exception of an exquisite Italian range, I’d always prefer panel-ready appliances (fridge & dishwasher) to anything metal, customizable or not. An uninterrupted row of cabinets just looks so much cleaner, don’t you agree?

Not going to lie, it was no picnic to get these panels on for us first-timers. We took on the challenge ourselves as our cabinet installer was stumped.

It took a couple nights, trips to the hardware store, and a lot of tiny adjustments to make it work. But we love our new fridge!

You know what else we love? Our hardware. Swoon.

Relatively speaking, these were the biggest splurge in the kitchen. I’m always a cheapskate when it comes to hardware, shopping for bargains on Ebay and Amazon, so this order was  tough one for me to pull the trigger on. Here’s the thing—I didn’t have a lot to choose from, because I needed matching appliance pulls for the fridge and freezer. These are a specialty item so there’s not a ton of options, and the few I liked were $$$ (ours were $185 each—ouch!)

And then of course I needed all of the matching cabinet pulls, which weren’t nearly as expensive but it all added up. These are RK International satin brass and I ordered from myknobs.com (the only retailer I found that carries the full line). Here’s the order breakdown, for those wondering:

While we’re on the brass train, let’s talk about this faucet!It’s from Lowe’s and a great price, especially for solid brass. I just love those vintage European hot/cold taps! It was one of the first things I chose for this kitchen and originally I thought I might give it a light buffing with steel wool so it has more of a satin look to match the pulls, but it matches the stove and pot filler so I’m leaning towards keeping it as is.

The sink is a 30″ VIGO Matte single basin farmhouse, and I chose it because the pretty detailing on the front (for some reason the 30″ size isn’t on Lowe’s anymore, but they have other sizes and styles). I’ve used different styles of farmhouse sinks in the past and like to switch it up every time!

And wrapping up our hardware/fixture selections are these lovely vintage schoolhouse sconces—I ordered four at a great price from Lowe’s:

This was many months ago and unfortunately Lowe’s no longer carries them, but I found them (also very affordable!) here on Amazon.

One thing Lowe’s does still have in stock, that is one of my all-time favorite finds (and decisions for our house) are these floors.

I’ve mentioned them several times on this blog but if you’re new to the party, these are the Villa Barcelona Terrassa French Oak engineered planks. Only $4.99/sf, beautifully textured and have proven to be pretty much indestructible so far (they survived tools dropping from ladders and heavy appliances dragged across them without a single visible scratch).

Oh, speaking of ladders—we have a few exciting projects coming up! We’re currently working with a local metal fabricator to build a custom iron ladder that will be mounted onto the side of the fridge to access our wine cabinet.

Don’t judge our sad collection at the moment—one of us hasn’t been able to enjoy wine for 6 months 😉

Another project in the works is this barrister bookcase I scored on Facebook marketplace. I plan to paint it black and use it as our pantry/food storage.

Because pantry items are not the most pleasant thing to look at, I ordered this frosted window film in a matte ivory color to hide the contents. I think the warmer shade is much nicer (and less modern looking) than your traditional frosted glass cabinets. Looking forward to seeing how this one turns out!

Another furniture refinishing project is also in the works, and it may be the death of me. I apparently forgot (or blacked out) what a pain it is to sand stained and lacquered furniture down to bare wood—especially larger pieces with lots of little details…

It took me almost two hours just to sand the top of this piece with an orbital sander, and that was the easy part. I have to change the pad out every 5-10 minutes because it gets gunked up with lacquer and stops working. Sanding is my least favorite DIY activity of all (and paint stripper to remove lacquer is even messier and you still have to sand—anyone have a miracle solution??)

The end goal is to get it down to a nice natural wood tone, and I think all the effort will be worth it. The hutch will be used to hold our microwave, coffee maker, and cups/barware on the two upper shelves. It’ll sit on the counter, centered above these two end cabinets—can you picture it?

I found this relatively compact microwave (that still fits our biggest plates) for only $76 that fits perfectly inside the hutch (we’ve been using it every day and love it).

You may have also caught a glimpse of something new in the last photo… I painted our French doors! If you recall, they were wood (mahogany) before:

I didn’t mind the wood (the exterior will be left as is and we’re leaving our front door mahogany as well) but once the wood hutch is introduced, there will be too many competing wood tones next to each other. And you know how much I love a good black door…

PS I used SW Tricorn Black (one of only two blacks I ever use, Valspar Cracked Pepper being the second, and they’re basically identical).

The last project we’re currently working on are floating shelves for the back wall. I ordered these brackets from Shelfology —I’ve worked with them on a few floating shelf projects in the past and knew they’d be perfect.

We’ll be adding four shelves total—two on either side of the range hood—using cypress wood from a local lumber mill. Can’t wait to stock them up and give this kitchen some life!

And that should cover everything so far! We’re hoping to get the shelving, ladder, bookcase and hutch finished within the next month (spread out amongst all of our other projects) and then I can do a more formal kitchen reveal. Although I still need to find a really great rug and maybe some window treatments, and those things take time!

Here’s a little sneak peek at the toe kick I just took this morning… it’s just sitting on the floor because there doesn’t appear to be a way to actually install it, so that’s one more thing we’re going to have to figure out…

I’ll be sharing the progress on my Instagram stories as we tackle the rest of our to-do list in here, so make sure you’re following me there for all the latest updates! Next up is the reveal of our master closet at the Riverside Retreat…


Main Bathroom Design: Riverside Retreat

Two days ago I shared our plans to divide our main bathroom at the Riverside Retreat into two, adding a small master bath plus a closet:

Over the next week we’re focusing on completing the closet, but work on both bathrooms will be in progress simultaneously with the help of our handyman.

Let’s dive right into our plans for the main bathroom! It was the only one in this three bedroom house, which we’re renovating to use as a vacation rental with the capacity to sleep up to 10 guests. Clearly, one bathroom will not cut it! Here’s how it looked before:

Talk about 50 shades of white…

The one thing it had going for it was its size—which isn’t huge by anyone’s standards, but a lot of it was wasted space and fortunately there was room to steal some of it for another bathroom. Here’s the original floor plan:

And here’s our plan to reconfigure the area, adding a master bath and closet:

One more thing to point out here—the goal for this project (and the entire house) is to keep the budget as minimal as possible, while still making smart and stylish upgrades. We’ve done pretty well so far staying on track with the rest of the house, but now we’re getting to the more expensive projects (kitchen and bathrooms) so affordability is top of mind.

With that said, I came up with a design plan I’m really excited about, using budget-friendly finds from Lowe’s + a DIY wall treatment:

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The main feature of this bathroom will be the forest green walls, which I’ve wanted to try for a long time now. We’ll be DIY’ing a simple board and batten treatment (complete with a blog and video tutorial!) so stay tuned for that next month. I haven’t decided on the exact color yet—waiting until the walls are in so I can test out a few samples in the room (never commit to a color before testing swatches in person!) Here’s a vague idea of how it will look, to give you a real-life example:

Via @kirsten.diane

But closer to this color:

via @buildingwalnutfarm

The next decision to make was flooring. This charming black and white tile caught my eye at Lowe’s and I couldn’t get it out of my head…

It has an old world/classic look that is fitting for our 1940’s home, it’s durable, stain and slip resistant which is perfect for a vacation rental (or any house, really) and I love the contrast of the light pattern with the rich green walls and molding. Since our bathroom is only 50 square feet, the cost (including installation materials) will come in at under $300. For me, this tile was a no brainer!

Next up: the 36″ Scott Living vanity:

You may recognize this from another bathroom renovation we completed a few months ago…

I was very pleased with the style, storage and quality of the 48″ we used in our guest bathroom, so it was an easy choice to go this route again—especially given the price ($499 including the stone top and sink!)The open storage at the bottom is also a bonus for storing extra towels. Just like the last vanity, I plan to swap out the chrome knobs with simple brass $3 round knobs to customize the look.

For the faucet, I found this pretty Venetian Bronze Delta Valdosta for only $170:


And one of my favorite finds for this room—this bronze schoolhouse vanity light, on sale for only $79 right now!

The only item I haven’t sourced yet is a mirror for the vanity. I’m hoping to find something antique (I try to incorporate at least one vintage piece in every room) and secondhand mirrors are plentiful on Facebook marketplace/Offer Up/Craigslist, so I’m confident I can find something in the coming weeks. Ideally it will be an oval or curved shape (similar to the mood board) with some sort of nice frame detailing. We’ll see what pops up!

The shower wall tile is the only area that could be considered a minor splurge. I spotted these brick style subway tiles on display at Lowe’s the other night and fell in love…

The photos don’t do it justice. They have a really nice rustic texture that looks almost like the surface of bricks, which I think will go nicely with the aged texture of the floors. At only $1.29/tile they’re still a good deal, but since we’re tiling the entire shower all the way up to our 9′ ceilings, I’ll need to order quite a bit.

I’m making up for the cost of tile by choosing affordable fixtures, like this Delta Venetian Bronze tub/shower faucet for only $130:

I’ve had good experiences with Delta, and this bronze finish also matches the vanity faucet so this was another easy choice. We also need to replace the tub, so I looked for the best deal with good ratings and landed on this simple white American Standard 5′ tub (under $300):

On the wall next to the shower, I’ll be picking up a handful of my favorite $5 gold hooks to hang towels:

And that’s the design! I’ll be figuring out a few last minute details like the vanity mirror, shower curtain and artwork over the coming weeks, but it feels great having the main elements in place. Coming up with the design is just as important as the execution, in my book!

While we were on our babymoon last month, our handyman began demo on the bathroom. Goodbye old shower!

He ran into some issues, like having to pour a new cement post in the foundation because there was nothing holding up corner wall near the tub…

We also discovered all of the original 1940’s cast iron plumbing, and decided to replace it throughout the house. It was a good thing we did—yikes!

The old contractors left all the construction debris underneath the house rather than disposing of it, like remnants of the original tile:

Extra time was also spent replacing many of the rotted floor joists, so this baby was taken down completely to the foundation. Here’s the view from the door (the toilet used to be below the window):

And looking to the left, where the wall was removed to make room for the new master bath:

Here’s the view from inside the bedroom, looking into what will become both bathrooms:

The shower wall, standing from inside the new master bath:

The vanity will sit in this corner:

The bathroom door and closet were framed last week:

The plumbing should be finished soon, then the new subfloor can be installed along with framing to divide the two bathrooms. The progress has been much slower than we anticipated (and costlier due to all the surprises) but that’s how renovations go sometimes (most of the time ?) so we’re rolling with the punches.

The next bathroom update will be a blog tutorial + timelapse video of one of my favorite easy wall treatments: board and batten. Looking forward to sharing those with you in a few weeks, if all goes well!

Stay tuned for all the details on our new kitchen at the Heights House, coming next week…


Building a Closet from Scratch: Riverside Retreat

Now that we’re moved into the Heights House, it’s full steam ahead on all the remaining projects at the Riverside Retreat—two bathrooms, two bedrooms, a kitchen and bonus room (that’s almost half the house—we still have a long way to go before it’s rent ready!)

Over the next month I’ll be sharing our design plans and progress for each space, with the goal of having it completed in early fall (baby’s due date in August was our hope, but that’s not looking very likely anymore).

Demo began on the bathroom while we were on our babymoon a couple weeks ago (you can read/watch more about that in this post) and we were hoping to be further along at this point, but then came the delays—like replacing the rotted floor joists and the original cast iron plumbing throughout the house—which have pushed our timeline for this project back at least a few weeks.

But the show must go on, and I figured I’d take the opportunity today to share the design plans and progress so far—specifically for our new master closet.

When we first moved in, the bedroom at the back of the house looked like this:

It had a small closet in the corner that was added on at some point:

And on the other side of this wall was the one and only bathroom in the house:

This was where we slept for a couple months after moving in, and we made it halfway decent:

We took down the closet when the new floors went in and have used it as an office/storage/hoarders room ever since. It’s a hot mess.

From the beginning we planned to turn this into a master by splitting the existing bathroom into two, and taking a few feet away from the room for a closet and small master bathroom. Here’s the original floor plan (I use the Homestyler software for my floor plans/renderings):

They aren’t big rooms, but definitely large enough to work with to maximize the functionality of this house. Here’s the plan we came up with:

A section was taken from the main bathroom to create a (tiny) master bath, and the new south wall of the master bedroom pushed up 30″ to allow more space for the new bathroom and a closet. And there’s still enough room for a queen canopy bed and two large night stands! The reconfigured areas are highlighted below:

And a 3D view, just for fun (these aren’t representational of the exact furnishings/materials that will be used):

Another view from the opposite end, looking at the front of the closet and bathroom door:

I’m still finalizing the design for the bathrooms so I’ll do separate posts outlining all of those details soon, but for today, let’s focus on the closet.

The first step was to cut an opening in the main bathroom for the master bath. This photo was taken standing at the door to the main bathroom, you can see the bedroom on the other side.

Then came framing (view from the bedroom looking back into both bathrooms)…

The beginnings of a closet!

Framing was finally completed last week. You can see the door opening for the new master bathroom on the left.

Then drywall, always the most exciting part:

And taping/mudding, which should be finished today:

Here’s how it looks as of now:

And as a quick refresh, here’s that same wall when we moved in last year:

Okay, time for the fun part… the design! I’ve been saving ideas to Pinterest for over a year and finally get to put my inspiration into action.

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The first thing I identified for the closet was glass panel French doors. I’ve been obsessed with using these in closets for a while and this was the perfect opportunity to do something that felt special and unique. I found these unfinished wood bifold glass doors at Lowe’s, and ordered two in the 24×80″ size (48″ total width):

Unfortunately it looks like they’re no longer available (boo!) but Lowe’s does have a frosted glass version in the same sizes. I also found these which are super affordable, and I absolutely love the 3/4 glass panel style:

Here’s one of my inspiration images from Pinterest (I can’t track down the original source) but how amazing are these?

Tonight I’m picking up fabric to mount behind the glass and I can’t wait to see the results. It is such a charming and elegant look, and it doesn’t have to be expensive! I’ll also be swapping out the wood knobs for these $3 antique brass pulls.

Next, I found this white wood closet kit that can be customized to fit different widths.

Lowe’s carries several different options for materials, colors and configurations and if this were my own home I’d definitely add all the bells and whistles. For a vacation rental, however, simple and affordable is best! This setup fit our needs and budget—though you can get the same kit and add drawers for an upgraded look.

I also found this wood and cloth laundry hamper which will come in handy for guests staying longer than a weekend. I love the simple design and the fact that it’s compact (and under $40!)


One way to dress things up without spending a fortune is wallpaper. Fortunately, I have a couple rolls of this toile wallpaper leftover from our powder bath at the Heights House—yay for free!

And speaking of keeping costs down, I plan to reuse paint I already have on hand to complete this project. The walls will be painted the same color as the rest of the room (SW Alabaster), the baseboards + door trim will be the same color as the rest of the house (SW Loggia) and the french doors will be Valspar’s Cracked Pepper.

We’re waiting on the bathroom door to be delivered and installed before the weekend, and then we’ll be able to get the trim up and everything painted. Aiming to have the closet portion of this project completed by the end of next week—let’s hope there are no more delays!

Check back in a couple days for the design plans and progress on the main bathroom…