The Kitchen.

It’s done*.

I love it.

You can see some before pics here.

There really isn’t anything I would change about it. I love our cabinetry (Martha Stewart ‘Dunemere’ in Picket Fence) We saved ourselves a lot of headache and expense by not changing our layout at all. We had already purchased our appliances when we moved into the house, but did buy a new refrigerator, microwave (in the pantry), garbage disposer, and range hood. I’d guess, all together, this kitchen probably cost us about $13k (gulp). That’s for new cabinets, hardware, quartz countertops, sink, faucets, backsplash, light fixtures, the appliances I just mentioned, and some of the installation labor. The biggest functional improvement to the kitchen is the addition of the range hood and garbage disposer. We do a lot of high heat cooking and having a hood that vents to the outside of the house is a godsend, not to mention fewer episodes of setting off the fire alarm. Doing dishes is always a chore, but having a disposer eliminates the always gross job of cleaning out the sink trap. The next functionality award winner is the island. Our stainless Ikea table was great, but low open storage with a toddler was a nightmare! Now there is a (childproofed) place for everything. We also put the island on casters in case we ever need to move a big piece of furniture upstairs. The mini-subway tile backsplash is soooooo much nicer than our grease spattered walls. Choosing cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling makes the room feel taller and gives us great additional storage. The cabinet hardware (Duluth from Restoration Hardware) is just the icing on the cake. Seriously. I love everything about this kitchen. It’s totally worth every penny and such a pleasure to cook in.

What do you guys think? You like? I’d love to hear from you.

* Looking at these pics made me realize that the island would look great if it had bead-board panel instead of flat. I bought some today. We also still have to add quarter round to the base shoe on the cabinets. Sigh.

** Our fridge is incredibly out of level. It’s so out of level that we can’t just use the leveling feet to correct it; we have to deal with the floor itself. Not sure when that will happen.

Partial source list here.

This is not a post about the kitchen.

It’s about actually having a little weekend family time. Pk is home from another around the world trip and he wisely suggested that we take the little miss to the Shedd Aquarium. We had a blast. It’s obscenely expensive to enter into all the special exhibits so we were cheap thrifty, and bought general admission tickets that only let you see the permanent collection. I’ve heard the Jellies exhibit is worth the extra dough, but 16 month olds have pretty short attention spans.

Lucy had a blast. It took a little while for her to warm up, but once she realized the fish stay behind the glass, she really enjoyed herself.

The objects of her affection…

We obviously weren’t the only people who thought that the aquarium was a great idea for a toddler on a rainy day. The place was absolutely packed with families and strollers. Lucy ran from tank to tank until she was absolutely exhausted.

After about an hour of careening off the knees of strangers and bouncing off displays, this is how we all felt.

Our trip was totally worth the post-visit exhaustion – I mean really, look at that face.

Sometimes it seems like time is hurtling by. Lucy is so active now, but it seems like just yesterday she was a little smushy newborn. I’ve loved every stage of Lucy’s development, but it’s really fun to watch her interact with the world in such a physical way.

Did you guys do anything fun today?

xx – H

Kitchen update

Hi friends. Sorry for the long pause in posting. I wanted to actually make some progress on the kitchen before I shared here. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

kitchen before. This was Saturday morning.

We spent all day Saturday packing up the contents of the cabinets, only leaving out what we absolutely needed for a temp kitchen. We also got rid of quite a bit of stuff that we don’t use.

Here’s how things were looking Sunday night. The stove, sink and dishwasher are all still connected which is making this the least disruptive kitchen reno possible.

Sean had to run ductwork to the outside wall for the new range hood. Once that was in, the new upper cabinets could be hung!

It’s been slow going hanging the uppers because the walls in this old house are no kind of plumb or level.

Here’s where things are today

A little chaotic, but manageable. The stainless island has become our temp kitchen and Sean is running new electric for the lighted cabinets that will go where the old wardrobe was. The new base cabinets will probably go in this weekend before Pk leaves for another long work trip.

I’m soooooooo excited about the new cabinets. They are 36″ tall and the gap between them and the ceiling will be covered with crown moulding. It’s amazing how much taller the room feels with full height cabinetry. I can’t wait until it’s done!

Neither can Lucy.

Hope all is well with you.

xx-H

It’s all in the details.

But first, a weather update. It’s hard not to feel like nature is playing a joke on you when the radar looks like this.

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That wee blue snowstorm was hovering directly over us yesterday and we woke up to another dusting this morning. Even the most affable among us are being dragged down by the constant cold and snow. It’s a little nerve wracking getting around all the ice when I’m so tippy, but I’ll hold fast to the idea that this baby will be born in spring time. 4 more weeks!

Our contractor Sean has been working hard to wrap up a few things in the meanwhile. First on our list was replacing the rest of the baseboards and door trim on the first floor, in the kitchen and dining room.

Here’s a before pic, from when we mostly redid the kitchen in 2012. You can see the skinny baseboard, and undersized door trim on the pantry and sliding door to the powder room.

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Sean carefully removed the old trim

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Then he installed the new trim and beefed up the door casings.

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Sorry, grainy iphone pics. You can see the little closet door here too. Lots of doors in a small space!

Here are the afters – you can see that beefing up the door trim brought the line of the pantry door up to the same height as the cabinet above the fridge (which needs to be leveled).

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I like the plinth blocks at the foot of the doors. They just make everything feel really solid.

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This little closet door was red in another life and sat primed and pinkish with no hardware here for 2 years until Sean actually gave it the paint job it deserved.

So, those are some little details that have changed around here. It’s amazing how removing the little eyesores around our house have really changed my impression of our space. When we first moved in, all the doors were plastic hollow core and had shiny brass hardware. These 2 panel solid wood doors were salvaged from houses all over Chicago and the North Shore – some of them are probably one hundred or more years old, just like our house. It feels so good to bring it back the simple, high quality details that it deserves. If you’re local, we’ve had great luck with salvaged doors at the Rebuilding Exchange in the city and even closer at Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse.

Next on our list – finishing the stairway bannister and replacing the doors on the second floor. We are also planning to gussy up the powder room a little bit – hopefully before this baby makes his arrival! His nursery is almost ready to share, just waiting on one more piece of artwork.

Hope you all are well,

xx-H

Dispatches from the couch

Guys. Lucy and I got massively smacked down by what I’m calling the plague this week. Sore throats, headaches, Niagara noses – you name it; we’ve got it. I had every intention of writing thoughtful posts  about many different things but right now my brain is operating at minimum capacity (truly – I watched like six hours of Bravo last night – if that’s not evidence of desperation illness, I don’t know what is.) Instead I’ll share a few picks of some little changes around our house for spring.

Kitchen/Dining area curtains BEFORE

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Kitchen Dining area curtains AFTER

IMG_4807Big surprise – I changed them back to white and used the Aina curtains from Ikea. I also hung the rod almost at the ceiling to make the window feel bigger. It looks so much cleaner and crisper now. I love those Anthropologie curtains, but I was feeling a lighter look for spring. Bonus – now the light fixture really stands out.

Kitchen Rug BEFORE

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Kitchen rug AFTER

IMG_4815It’s kind of nice to lose the red -but  I love, love, love the other rug and will probably bring it back out next fall. This striped rug, also from pottery barn, feels nice and a little preppy. This one looks like it’s sold out online but this one is similar.

Bathroom curtain and rug BEFORE

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Bathroom Curtain and Rug AFTER

IMG_4813So nice and bright! The wild floral shower curtain is from Pottery Barn also, and coordinates much better with the pink stool I sit on while miss Lucy takes a bath. I already had the white bath rug which collects much less animal hair  than the black rag ones I had before (YUCK!)

I added a pretty potted fern to our living room. I love having a little burst of greenery inside –

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Lets see, what else – oh! In case you thought I’m the only one obsessed with Japanese Animation films, here is evidence to the contrary. I’m thinking about getting this print for Lucy’s room.

That’s all. Hope you feel better than I do!

Helen

ps. Here is an elegant piece from Salon written by the film critic Roger Ebert, who passed away today. RIP.

p.p.s. I start shots for our 2nd fresh IVF cycle tonight – if all goes well (and that’s a big if) I’ll be injecting myself with needles everyday for the next 3 months!

One tidy corner.

It took me a while to realize that this Ikea Expedit unit wasn’t working in our playroom. It was too wide for the space, and I had a tendency to just shove stuff in it in such a way that Lucy couldn’t really see what toys and books were hiding in its depths. Most of the books were out of her reach and she was often tempted to climb up and get them (yikes!) A few months ago I picked up some of these ledges at Ikea so I could face the books out, and I planned to add some totes underneath so more of her toys would be accessible. Pk cut them to size and hung them for me after a few weeks of pestering gentle reminders.IMG_4773IMG_4774

Ta da! A somewhat tidy corner with a lovely display of books.IMG_4782

I’ve moved the fragile books out of reach and kept sturdier board books on the bottom. A little bin next to the play kitchen holds all of Lucy’s favorite ( ie read daily) books. I initially thought I would need to buy a few totes for toy storage but then remembered that we had this hand me down doll cradle which works perfectly to corral Lucy’s growing stuffed animal collection. Her blue walker/doll stroller finally has a parking space too (and works conveniently as tutu storage.) We still have one Expedit unit in this tiny room, but two was one too many. I did a huge toy purge and put a ton of toys in storage to use if we have  another little one – or donate if we don’t. There were so many that she just wasn’t playing with anymore and I wanted to leave room for new toys that seem to appear when I’m not paying attention.IMG_4779

The room just feels a lot more balanced now too, and bigger. I’d love to show you the other side, but didn’t have the energy to tidy my desk (womp womp.) There are still a few things to do in here – the window above the play kitchen that was buried in drywall still needs to be replaced, along with all the other windows in the house – and my file cabinet needs some touch up paint. Overall though, I’m so happy with this sun room – Lucy can amuse herself while I blog or pay bills and all her toys can pretty much be contained in this area. I would still love,love,love to finish our basement so I can move most of the toys down there, but for now this sunny space works great as a playroom.

Any little improvement projects going on at your place?

xx-H

House Tour

Our 1500 sq. ft house was in desperate shape when we purchased it out of foreclosure 3+ years ago. We’ve been sloooowly transforming it room, by room. As always, our home is a work in progress. Enjoy the tour of these rooms!

Kitchen –

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Guest Room

Upstairs Bath

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Lucy’s Room

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Living Room

Front Porch

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Our bedroom

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New light fixture in the dining room

For the longest time Pete and I lived with the really ugly ceiling fan that was in this area. We eventually stumbled upon this chandelier at one of our favorite thrift stores, The Brown Elephant, in Andersonville. We’ve had it hanging for about 2 years, and I’ve always kind of known it wasn’t right for the space, even though I love it’s vintage appeal.

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Sorry for the clutter – this is real life folks.

The fixture is really ornate, it’s probably a reproduction of a Victorian era fixture. It also has always hung a bit wonky, which made me crazy. Everything else in this kitchen/dining space has really clean lines, so when I spotted this fixture from Ballard during their recent sale I pulled the trigger.

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I really, really like it. I bought Edison bulbs for it and I love the little bit of industrial appeal it gives the room. Sean was also able to center it over the table (the other fixture wasn’t centered) and it just gives this whole space a better sense of proportion. We will keep the other fixture for now or maybe sell it at a garage sale (we only paid $40 bucks for it, so it won’t be hard to recoup that loss.) I think I’m going to change the curtains in this room, again. I love these ones from Anthropologie but they are just a little short. I’d love to raise the height of the curtain rod to make that window seem taller. I think I’ll probably go with the Aina panlels from Ikea in white that I just used in our bedroom. I really love the way they drape and they are a great price. I love experimenting with patterns and colors, but I tire of them so quickly. I always find myself reverting back to white and neutral tones. I guess seasonal redecorating is the way to go for me…

It’s so so so so cold here this week. The kind of cold that creeps down you collar  and leaves you gasping for air  and your fingers stinging when you come back inside. The kind of cold that made me snort when the Victoria Secret bikini catalogue came in the mail today. It’s a little strange to see so much spring merchandise in stores when it still feels so much like winter!

Hope you all are well –

xx-H

easy magnetic storage

We have a chalkboard wall in our kitchen. A little sliver of wall next to the fridge…IMG_1938

For the longest time I just kept the chalk on the nearest counter, but it was frustrating for Lucy to always have to ask me to get it down, so I decided to do something about it.  There’s a bit of the side of the fridge that protrudes next to the chalk wall and it dawned on me that it would be the perfect space for some magnetic storage tins. The pre-made ones (like these, or these) were a little too small to hold chalk markers, so I picked up a couple of inexpensive paint cans and some magnets (like these) at the hardware store. Simply glue the magnets on and voila! I was a bit sloppy with the glue as you can see.

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They have lids, but I leave them off so Lucy can grab her chalk.

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IMG_4647I added two magnets each, but if you are storing something heavier I would recommend adding a few more. I also really like the way the stainless finish blends into the rest of the kitchen.

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Happy Wednesday!

xo – H

Life around here…

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I had a great time celebrating my 30th birthday. On Friday night Pk and I had a date night at a new restaurant called Found. We totally indulged (!) ourselves while Grandma was on Lucy duty. We spent the next day snuggled on the couch watching the Muppets movie until our friends and family came over for pizza. I got another orchid for my growing collection. Maybe I can actually learn how to get them to re-bloom?

photo-1This little exhausted peanut has been having trouble sleeping at night. Last night she was up every 45 minutes from about midnight until 4. I’m not sure what the deal is – teething? weaning? growing pains? nightmares? She does seem to have added a couple inches in the last couple of weeks. but jesus. I’m exhausted. Also, she got accepted into preschool for the fall. PRESCHOOL. And,drum roll please… we’re fully weaned! It’s been 5 or 6 days – she still asks, but is pretty content just to snuggle when I discourage her from feeling me up. I’m proud that we made it to two years (and almost two months!)

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We’ve been making lots of Valentines around here. Nothing fancy, just the crinkly messy water color kind on construction paper that Lucy will probably find as an adult stuffed in the bottom of a keepsakes box.

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Maya likes Lucy’s Piggy-Bunny so much that I got her one of her own. Just kidding – I spotted a double of Lucy’s favorite stuffed buddy at a little boutique so I picked up a back up. I just caught Maya using them as pillows during one of her 27.4 daily naps.

Hope you’re having  a great start to the week! Any Valentine’s plans? I don’t think we’re doing anything special; I’m just happy Pk is in town this year!

xx-H

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