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:


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.


Dewalt miter saw

Bostitch nail gun (we used 2″ nails)

Craftsman air compressor

Zircon stud finder


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!

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…