Cobblestone Pavers

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Ever since we first moved into our house, we knew that we wanted to transform parts of the exterior in some ways. Initially, we did only minor adjustments, but recently, we were able to make changes to the front walk and driveway that we envisioned from the beginning.

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We had the concrete steps and path removed and replaced with cobblestone. The color variation of the stones fits right in with the texture palette of the house, and creates a very rough natural look.

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We also replaced the concrete of our entire driveway, which was really in need of attention. The timing of this project came right after our neighbors had just completed a large addition to their property. We had to figure out how to create a privacy screen of some sort to replace the wall that they had knocked down.

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We ended up going with a wooden fence, and put a row of trees in front of it. In order to provide a warm ambiance, we hung solar powered lanterns from the posts. The new additions to our property further enhance the space for entertaining, or just relaxing outside on the patio as the sun goes down.

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Baby Crochet

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Having a baby has been an immediate excuse to crochet to our hearts content for both my mother (who taught me the craft), and myself. I focused on making a couple of blankets and some hats similar to those I’ve made in the past, while my mother created some lovely blankets, clothes, and toys.

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As soon as I found out we were expecting a baby girl, I started planning this granny square flowers blanket for her nursery. This was my first time making a granny squares blanket involving four colors per square, and to this scale. It took more hours than I care to count up, but the finished product is perfect for her room.

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Even before finding out the sex of the baby, my mom got busy making blankets and clothes for our little one. I absolutely love the variety in patterns and colors, and have already made great use out of them for taking her outside and wrapping her up for daytime naps.

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Here are just some of the beautiful clothing pieces my mom crafted. Each blanket she made also has an entire matching outfit to go with it – including pants, bloomers, hats, and shoes.

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Another project my mom tackled was making crochet toys for Eva’s baby gym. I sent her an image of crochet fruit that I found online, and asked her if she thought she could make something like it. Sure enough, she had these all done by the end of that same day, and her versions are undoubtably more detailed and better constructed.

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I’m so happy to have these lovely pieces for Eva, and something tells me that this baby girl has more handmade crochet items coming her way from her mom and grandmother. Having the pieces made with so much love makes them even more beautiful, and we will treasure each of them for years to come.


Nursery

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Ever since we purchased our home, we designated one of the bedrooms as the nursery. Though we knew it would be a couple of years before we would be ready for children, we decided to leave that room untouched until the time came. That time came this past summer when we found out we were expecting, and the opportunity to design this final room in our home has been one of the most exciting projects during my pregnancy. The room came together slowly over the past few months, and now that we’re mere weeks away from meeting our baby girl, we can at last say that it’s ready for her arrival.

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The anchor piece to the room is this lovely mural that James hand painted above the crib. Adventure awaits our little one as she sets off on a ‘voyage extraordinaire’ to the furthest recesses of her imagination.

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We will of course be spending a lot of time in this room as she grows, and having a comfortable spot for feeding and reading is an essential. After looking at various chairs, we decided on this wingback chair that didn’t feel too bulky, and fit this corner of the room perfectly.

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Opposite the window we set up a changing station with a simple shelf above it to fill up the empty space. Owl hooks above the changing pad will be used to hang up her clothes for easy access as we get her dressed.

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A variety of toys and animal friends are used throughout the room to make the space welcoming. One of my favorite touches is the blocks spelling out her name on top of the bookshelf. The blocks use Spanish words such as ‘gato’ and ‘buho,’ which will come in handy raising bilingual children.

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We also used some decor pieces from Guatemala, like the wooden mask we brought back from our travels, and an adorable tiny pitcher and teacup that my mother brought from Guatemala on her latest trip.

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Even when it came to practical items such as a hamper, we took the opportunity to make it a fun and endearing element by picking one shaped like a cute elephant.

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Another instance where we took something practical and made it more whimsical was in hiding the baby monitor inside a painted birdhouse. This solution is not only a more pleasant visual touch, it allows us to securely hold the monitor in place where it can look over the crib, while also hiding away cables.

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On the wall by the door we put up a small decorative mounted coat rack to easily access coats and jackets when we’re heading outdoors. I love how it gives us the opportunity to display more of her adorable tiny clothes.

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Though we know that this room will continue to evolve as our baby grows up, it’s just right for welcoming her to her new home. We are so grateful that we have this space that she will be able to call her own.

 

 

 


Guest Bathroom

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As we move from project to project in our home, we have been focusing primarily on the spaces that are most exposed to guests. A while ago, we completed the guest room, and now we have just put the finishing touches on the guest bathroom. This was quite a large project, considering how small the room actually is, and our first concepts for it date back to before we even closed escrow.

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As you can see in these images, this bathroom was quite hideous when we bought the house. The only thing that we considered keeping was the bathtub, but ultimately we replaced it because it wasn’t in great condition.

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We knew that we wanted colored tile halfway up the wall, similar to the bathroom in our old apartment. After visiting several tile stores in Los Angeles County, we ended up going with this lotus flower accent tile that we had seen before we even had the keys to the house. We went with a dark green bullnose cap and a sage green subway tile that’s reminiscent of our kitchen cabinets, giving the bathroom a sense of cohesion with the rest of the house.

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For the floor tile, I have always loved the look of small marble hexagons, and how well they juxtapose with subway tile. Removing the vanity and replacing it with a pedestal gave us much more floor space to make the room feel less cramped.

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In order to have some storage space, we designed this cabinet that spans the length of the wall, and had it custom built by Martin Cabinet Designs. The layout of the cabinet allows for a decorative mirror to hang in the center, and I especially love the rounded corner shelves that give us space to put up decorative bathroom items.

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When it came time to pick out the shower door, we went with a frameless textured glass that would allow more light into the shower than a framed one.

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Porcelain cross handles in the shower are another element inspired by our apartment bathroom.

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After all of the construction and cabinet installation was done, it was time to pick out the accessories. We selected items that would not only provide the needed functionality, but would also make sense visually for the space. The bathtub caddy has become a favorite for relaxing in the whirlpool tub with a book and glass of wine.

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Though I have no idea what this bathroom possibly looked like in 1931 when our home was built, I certainly feel that we have done the space justice with our recent changes.


Fireplace Transformation

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One of the main elements of our new living room is the fireplace and built-in housing for the television. This multi-faceted project took a long time to complete, and ended up including some DIY work on our parts that we weren’t initially planning for.

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The original fireplace was very bare, and lacked presence. The brick face was broken in a few spots, and the remnants of carpeting were stuck to the bottom edge. Overall it was unappealing and needed a change.

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We knew that we wanted to be able to cover up our television when it was not in use, as well as house all of our electronic devices inside of a media cabinet. Once we determined the color of the tile and how the doors would open, we started designing the entire piece. James created this concept art, and we worked with Martin Cabinet Designs to figure out the specifics of mounting the television and running the cables. They then had the difficult task of building the cabinetry over the existing broken fireplace.

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The level of detail they added was exactly what we were looking for, and it came out perfectly in both design and function. It instantly became a part of the room, enabling us to easily forget that it ever wasn’t there at all.

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With the carpentry done, we thought that we would be hiring contractors to tile over the brick, but because it was such a small job, we decided to do the tiling ourselves.

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This was our first time ever using mortar, but it was easy enough to apply to the brick. First we had to smooth out the surface, which was especially difficult around the pieces of carpet that were stuck to the bottom.

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For the tile itself we went with 3 inch square tiles from Fireclay Tile in Kelp, which has a lovely variety in shading, and a subtle shattered look. We used 1/4 inch spacers, which gave us plenty of leeway if our tile placement wasn’t entirely even.

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Having to use a wet saw was one of my biggest hesitations, as they can certainly be intimidating, and proper safety precautions are very important. Once I got the hang of it, it cut very cleanly and made the whole project go smoothly.

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After setting all of the tiles and allowing the mortar to dry it was time for the grout. We picked a white grout to let the green of the tile really stand out.

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We were relieved to get a clean edge around the bottom, and the bullnose tiles around the rim of the hearth give it a softer look in comparison to the sharp brick edge that was there before.

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Once it was all dry and finished, we placed a new fireplace screen that better matched the iron detailing in our living and dining rooms, and added a couple of plants to the hearth. Another home design project successfully checked off our list.

 


Our Living Room

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Our living room has been a work in progress since we first moved into our house in 2015, and I can finally say that it is complete.

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Though fairly small, there have been a lot of structural changes made to the space, which happened in multiple phases. The bookcases, railing, sconces, and fireplace seen in this shot were all absent when we first moved in.

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Here’s a look at how this room was set up when we moved in. You can see that the corners flanking the doorway were empty, and the fireplace couldn’t look more different.

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The first change that we made was adding the built-in bookcases. As soon as we saw the empty corners, we knew that we had a great opportunity to add presence. Here you can see the concept art that James put together before handing it off to the carpenters.

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The build and install was done by Martin Cabinet Designs, who we would later work with for the fireplace and our kitchen remodel. The two pieces greatly improve the flow of the space, and it’s hard to believe that they were ever missing.

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The shelves allow us to display some of our books and a few favorite trinkets, filling the room with color and charm.

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When thinking of the size for the bookshelves we wanted to make sure to keep this thermostat in place. Though it is no longer functional, it serves as a fun reminder of the history of our home.

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After the bookshelves were up, we focused on decorating the entryway. A new Tiffany glass lighting fixture and some decorative objects made the space feel complete and cohesive with the rest of the room.

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We made some simple changes to the door, such as a new door handle that would also compliment the switch plates around the house.

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Hooks to hang our coats, scarves, and purses keep us organized and avoid clutter.

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We use the same table that we had at our apartment to hold keys for easy access on our way out the door. The trays that hold the keys were originally used to hold our wedding bands for our wedding ceremony.

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One of my favorite details of the entryway was already there before we moved. This is the mail slot where we receive our daily mail. We painted it the same color as the moulding to give it emphasis.

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The next big change was working with with Isaac’s Ironworks to add the railing that separates the living room from the dining room. We opted for this small bench and some decorative pillows to put up against the railing, which gives us some extra seating without the heaviness of another sofa. A tiny side drink table gives guests a place to set down their cocktail.

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The last major changes were the built in surrounding the fireplace mantel, and the media cabinet on the side. Above the fireplace, the built-in houses our television, allowing us to close it away when not in use. The media cabinet on the side hides away electronic devices, and serves as a table for our record player, which we use frequently.

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After all of the big changes were done we focused on the smaller details such as setting out books on our coffee table and getting new plants to give the room extra life. I’m very happy with how this space has turned out, and all of the slow progress on it has certainly paid off.


A Tiny Laundry Room

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The final part of our kitchen remodel was finishing up the attached laundry room. When conceiving of the layout, size was the biggest consideration. This is a very narrow space that was certainly not built with the size of 21st century appliances in mind, so the very first decision we made was to stack the washer and dryer, instead of having them side by side. We knew we wanted to de-emphasize how far the washer and dryer extended out, and wanted to have a visual divider from room to room, so we put a curtain in the doorframe to create a soft separation from the breakfast nook.

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We were able to make the most out of this small space by having a custom cabinet built by Martin Cabinet Designs, who also built our kitchen cabinets and breakfast nook. We gave them details on how we wanted it to look, and they created it to fit the space and our needs perfectly.

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Our kitties, Titan and Atlas, have their own private doorway to enter their litter box, and the bottom of the cabinet rolls out for easy cleaning.

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On the opposite wall from the washer and dryer, there was just enough room to put up some hooks that I use to hang a few small purses and scarves.

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A couple of small shelves on the wall complete the room by giving us a little extra space for storing items. It may be tiny, but our new laundry room fits all of our needs, and the kitties seem to be pleased with it too. It just goes to show that you don’t need to knock down walls in order to make a space more functional.


Kitchen Remodel

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After a full year of planning and saving, we have finally completed the first major remodel in our home: the kitchen. As soon as we bought our house, I knew that the kitchen had to be one of the first major projects. Not only do I spend a lot of time in the space, but the previous kitchen looked unappealing and was hardly even functional. The changes we made compliment the texture palette of the house, provide functionality and organization, and give the space the charm that it was begging for.

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As you can see from this before and after, we mostly kept the layout of the kitchen the same. However, there are some major differences in the sizing and features of cabinets and appliances. The previous cabinet doors were very small and poorly spaced, making it almost impossible to store anything larger than a medium sized pot. Most of the drawers were either broken or didn’t open, the faucet was turned to one side and refused to budge, the vent did not function, and the teeny oven couldn’t even fit a standard cookie sheet. These were all very frustrating issues for someone who cooks as much as I do. We had our custom cabinets built by Martin Cabinet Designs, who were able to construct everything just as we envisioned.

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Even before we bought our house, I had a general idea of how I wanted the kitchen to look. Once we had the measurements, James created this concept art to help us figure out exactly how it would all come together. Though some changes were made to the final version, the feeling you get when you see something you designed come to life is nothing short of exhilarating.

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The biggest change to the layout was opting for open shelves above the stovetop, instead of cabinets like it had before. This change has been so impactful not only visually, but also functionally. I absolutely love that the tile goes all the way up to the ceiling, and now I can display more items while keeping common pantry items organized and within reach.

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The small oven was one of my biggest complaints, so after a lot of consideration I decided to go big and add not one, but two standard size ovens. I have always loved the look and flexibility double ovens provide, and I’m already so glad I went in that direction.

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Going with butcher block countertops was one of the very first decisions that we made. We picked out this beautiful acacia wood that has a wonderful variety in color. It’s perfect for the the galley layout of our kitchen, and adds so much warmth and country charm.

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One of my favorite features of the kitchen is the wall mount faucet. The butcher block counter top dictated that the faucet not be mounted to the counter, so it created the opportunity for it to come out of the tile instead. For the farmhouse sink, James insisted that the apron absolutely had to be fluted to breakup the large white front, and I couldn’t agree more.

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Aside from the kitchen galley, this remodel also included the breakfast nook corner. The same team that made our cabinets made this built-in bench with a top that lifts for extra storage.

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Here’s a look at the corner before the remodel.

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We kept the original built-in corner cabinet which we always liked, and just gave it a fresh coat of paint to match the new cabinets.

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There are a few items in our new kitchen from our trip to Guatemala that we previously had on display in our old apartment. Not only do they work well with our terra cotta floor tile, but they provide a sense of continuity with our first home together.

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We felt that it was very important to incorporate a variety of patterns with these pillows to liven up the breakfast nook.

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We also added several new plants throughout the space, which are a simple way of adding life to any room. I made these macramé hanging planters using twine to fill in some of the space above the bench without feeling too heavy.

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I am so pleased with how the entire remodel came out, and relieved to have such a large project completed. I have already been busy using the new space, and look forward to many delicious meals that will be cooked in our lovely new kitchen.

 

 


Dining Room

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After many months of working on different parts of our home, we have finally finished our dining room. It was difficult to figure out what to do with the flow of this space at first, because it is not a room in and of itself. The living room steps up into this dining room, and the kitchen is visible from both. Our goal with the design of the dinning room was to form a transition from the richer dark woods of the living room, to the lighter rougher textures that will one day be in our kitchen. Though this is a fairly small room, it included many individual projects such as the staining and upholstering of our chairs.

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We had intended on simply purchasing a bar cabinet online, but when it arrived, the wood turned out to be significantly redder than we anticipated. Like with our chairs, I decided to re-stain it, and changed out all of the handles from black to a subtle gold. The cabinet didn’t quite fill out the wall, so a small plant and colorful framed art were perfect for filling up the empty space.

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With the cabinet we now have a chance to display some of the items that we’ve had hidden away for ages, such as our wedding china.

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We have also displayed other pieces that have some significance, such as the crystal glasses James used to propose, the framed number from our wedding table, as well as souvenirs from trips such as our honeymoon.

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We were able to find this mirror with corners that echo the scrolls of the chandelier and the round backed chairs. In this piece we needed to use paint to bring the blacks and golds more in line with the browns of the room. We contemplated a frame at first, but decided on a mirror since it would reflect parts of our living room.

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Our biggest infrastructure project so far has been the installation of central air conditioning. We decided to house the thermostat inside of this decorative metal box cut into the wall, and picked out similar decorative vents for the ceiling as well.

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In order to create a separation between the dinning room and living room, we added a small railing which was a custom design built by Isaac’s Ironworks. We gave him reference material based off of the staircase in our old apartment building, and he made it exactly as we envisioned. When designing for our house, we’re always keeping in mind what we loved about our apartment, and the iron, the color of the hardwood, and the paint of the doors all create a sense of continuity with those memories. We are relieved to have another room finished in our home, and look forward to entertaining friends and family in this space.