Foyer Upgrades

When we moved in, the foyer had no “wow” factor. My goal was to create an inviting/welcoming entryway that led into our home. Here are a few before pictures of the way the foyer looked prior to our updates (this first picture is from before our dining room updates).

I knew I wanted to go with a neutral color in the foyer and change the light fixture. I also wanted to add a little area where we could hang coats. For the door, we added additional trim and painted the door Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal (same color from our dining room and fireplace built ins). We used this blog to help with the trim idea. Here are some after pictures:
We used a closet knob as a hook/hanger for the wood sign. It was painted with extra grey paint I had. We then had to buy a dowel screw from Home Depot so we were able to screw it into the wall.

Upstairs in landing (Yes, we think it’s 1990 and have a cordless home phone…)

I hope you enjoy the transformation! I would love to hear your thoughts/comments. 
  • Door trim: Menards (crosshead and floor base trim we had from dining room)
  • Door paint: Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal
  • Door wreath: Made from cotton blossom stems from Hobby Lobby that I formed into a wreath
  • Welcome Sign: Purchased from a vendor at Main Street Market
  • Long wood sign: World Market
  • Rug: Rugs USA
  • Coat area: Hooks from Amazon, barn light from Amazon, wood is 1/4″ plywood/underlayment and trim from Home Depot, storage bin from Target (could not locate exact item online but is Smith and Hawkins), picture frame, watercolor print of our house (purchased from 
  • Chandelier: Lowes  Kichler Lighting
  • Table: Home Goods
  • Mirror: Target
  • Clock: Home Goods
  • Lamp: Target 
  • Taper Candle holder: Crate and Barrel
  • Wall color in foyer/hallway: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter

Fireplace Renovation

When we moved into our new construction home just over a year ago, we dreamed of fireplace built-ins with lots of storage. This is a main wall in our house and a focal point, so we knew we needed to give it some pop. Here’s a before image of what the wall looked like:

We went with the basic tile on the fireplace because we knew we would rip it out anyway, so why waste the money? Of course, I perused Pinterest looking for fireplace wall ideas. By far, the most helpful and inspiring was Decor and the Dog’s blog. Halfway through the project, I also fell in love with ideas from Thrifty Decor Chick.

So how did we get started? And by “we” I mean my husband…. We removed the mantle being extra careful so we were able to resell it (I got $100 for it.). We also removed all tile but ended up having to patch the wall because the mantle and tile caused some damage to the drywall. We dry fitted the boxes inside the house, but the majority of the building was done in the garage.

Once all the boxes and bookcases were built, everything was painted with a spray gun outside. The color is Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal (same color as the upper wall in my dining room seen here). We also used 1/4″ plywood to create shiplap for the back of the bookcases (Chip and Joanna would be proud!). See I helped too!

I couldn’t resist decorating even though we were far from finished.

Here’s the half-way point without the cabinet doors:

Next came the board and batten, mantle, and tiling.

The mantle is made of cedar. He basically made a hollow box that fit over a 2×4 on the back wall to secure it. This is the mantle being dry-fitted. I later stained it outside in the garage and use a spray poly once it was dry.

Here is the finished tile! I majorly copied Thrifty Decor Chick’s herringbone marble design. I love it! The floor tile I used was an unpolished marble. Both are from Floor and Decor.

Here is the completed look without the crown molding.

Finally, here is the completed look! I’m sure I’ll redecorate the shelves many times before I’m satisfied. The middle section is pretty dark, so we may add some low voltage lighting to illuminate that area.

 Before and after


  • Paint: Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal
  • Tile: Floor and Decor
  • Materials: Home Depot, a mix of MDF and wood
  • Knobs/hinges: Amazon and Overstock

Secondary Infertility

I debated whether to write this post for a while now because I thought I would write it once it had a happy ending; however, that “happy” ending hasn’t come. I’ve realized though, that I’m OK with it. 

I had some fertility troubles when trying to have my son (back in 2012). I was married in July of 2011 only to be met 6 months later with a Crohn’s disease diagnosis. Let me tell you, it sucked! A LOT! I was pretty sick for the first half of 2012. Here, I was a newlywed expecting to enjoy my first year of marriage, and instead, I was in and out of the hospital with a husband who worked an unaccommodating schedule in law enforcement. 
Once I turned the corner in the second half of 2012, I decided I wanted to try to have a baby. It took us several months, but we were successful! James Ryder was born in August 2013. My Crohn’s had been (and still is) in control and life was good. 
In October 2014, we decided maybe it was time to try for baby #2. I wasn’t sure I was quite ready, but hey, are you ever really ready for another baby?!
I remember thinking I would be pregnant by Thanksgiving 2014–HA! I tried to be laid back about it, but I started to feel tense as the months rolled by with no luck. I have very abnormal cycles, so it was pretty obvious that things weren’t going to happen very easily. During this time, we were building a house and attempting to clean/pack up (rather unsuccessfully I might add) our current home to be rented. 
I decided in April of 2015 to see my doctor for some cramping I had been having on my right side. Much to my surprise, I had a positive pregnancy test at this visit. I was told it was a faint positive and not to get my hopes up. Pretty exciting, huh? Hey, you’re pregnant, but don’t get excited because it’s probably not going to happen.
I remember feeling unsure as to how I should react. Do I tell my husband right away? Do I make it special? Instead, I told him once we were both home in a not very exciting way. We cautiously celebrated knowing I would go back 2 days later for blood work to see if my HCG levels were doubling. I kept picturing a new little baby at Christmas time and how it was a crazy time to be moving and pregnant, but I was happy. 
One week later I had a miscarriage. It’s amazing how your emotions can be after only knowing you’re pregnant for 1 week. I felt so disappointed, and most of all, I could see how much it saddened my husband. There is nothing worse than hearing from a man who shows little to no emotion, who is strong all the time, who handles bad news in his job on a daily basis, that he is bummed.
Fast forward to fall 2015 when we started seeing a fertility doctor. He determined that I needed to have surgery on my uterus due to an isthmocele (damage from my c-section). I first said, an isthmo-what? Nothing worse than being naked in a doctor’s office and being told you need surgery while you’re alone. So based on his recommendation, I had surgery in November 2015, which then required 3 months of recovery until we could “try” again.
February 2016 I took Femara to ovulate, which worked! However, I did not get pregnant. I then decided, I need to take some time off. It sort of feels like quitting right now, but I mentally need a break. I think back to the fact that I started this in October 2014, and it’s now March 2016. Sure, when I start drinking a couple glasses of wine I get a little teary eyed thinking of how we don’t have another baby yet (damn you red wine!), but I also feel very OK with it. 
I turn 31 this May, and I know I still have time. I have decided to try to focus on my wonderful, crazy toddler who requires my attention and love. I have realized this is a big year for me to take a step back and enjoy what I have. Stop trying to “improve” things. Just enjoy. I’m trying to find more time for me and my husband to go on dates and take Jay to the park or the zoo. 
So, while this story doesn’t have the “happy” ending I had anticipated, I feel happy. I learned that happiness doesn’t mean always trying to one up your current situation. I love my boys and know that whatever is meant to be, will be. 

Toddler Updates

I’m really starting to understand what it means to be the mom to a toddler boy. I feel like I’m constantly on guard with eyes in the back of my head. We’ve had a bit of a tough stretch lately–Jay has been sick for about a month with a constant cough, Matt was sick with a sinus infection, and I had surgery (more to come on this in a later post).

I’m also finding myself having a hard time when it comes to the tantrums and defiance. I’m definitely the pushover parent, so I’ve been doing some searching on how to best parent a spirited toddler. I came across the book Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp. I’m about halfway through and already finding it to be really valuable. I’ve put a few things into practice in just a matter of a few days. It’s a pretty easy read too!

In other updates, Matt will be going hunting (ugh!) this weekend, so Jay and I will be on our own to stay busy. This is very unlike me, but I think I may put out some Christmas decorations this weekend. Normally, I’m an “after Thanksgiving” kind of girl, but we are projected to get 2-4″ of snow this weekend, so I think it might be the perfect weather for me to pull out some red and green bins! We have a mini loft space in our upstairs, so I’m thinking of putting a fake tree up there that overlooks the foyer. We are planning on getting a real tree for our living room that will be seen from the street.

I’m also excited for family pictures. I have put together some outfit ideas that I’m working on to create a cute theme. We are scheduled for pictures with my friend and photographer Jaime (Photos by Jaime).

Here are a few cute pics of my wild little guy.

 “Scared” of the fake dinosaur at the zoo


Dining Room Reveal

I ambitiously set my sights on decorating the dining room earlier this fall. We hosted an engagement party for my cousin, and I decided with 50 people coming to my house, the dining room couldn’t have white walls.

We moved in at the end of May and have actually done quite a few projects over the last 5 months (back splash; painting family room/kitchen; dining room flooring, painting, wainscoting). I also painted an older, espresso-colored bar using chalk paint to help give it an antiqued look. I really love how everything turned out. I think I still need a few finishing touches, but love the fresh look! All my details are at the bottom, including from where my inspiration came!

Before: Testing out my color choice. Room was pretty boring!

My hubs putting in the hardwood flooring

Top hutch of the bar. How/why my husband lifted it off with all of the glasses still on still baffles/haunts me…
One coat of chalkpaint
Pre-wainscoting and post-flooring

Finished bar!

While I do like the look of the puddled curtains, they do need to be hemmed a bit.

The Details:

I want to point out that Dear Lillie’s blog was my inspiration as well as this post from Houzz.

Light Fixture: Overstock, seen here
Bar: Older, from JCPenny (I think). Valspar chalkpaint from Lowes. Knobs from World Market
Curtains and Rods: Ikea RITVA curtains in white
Black and White Photo: Ikea
Canvas Prints: Homegoods–I purchased 3 of the same print and rotated the middle print
Pumpkins and Candles/holders: various places, Homegoods
Table Runner: Target
Wall color: Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal in matte
Flooring: Mohawk (provided by our builder free of charge due to some issues we had)
Wainscoting: Completed by our neighbor

Inspiration Boards

Over the next few months, we will be decorating/remodeling our dining room and living room. Having all white walls drives me crazy, and I’m hesitate to hang anything without knowing what the style of each room will be. Currently, our dining room has a chair rail and crown molding with carpeting (yuck) and all white walls–hardwood floors will be installed soon!

The living room, again, is all white with a crown molding. I have 2 ladder bookcases and a basket in that room as well–in addition to the plethora of toddler boy today strewn about! Here are a few of my inspiration ideas for the rooms. I have included a picture of the dining room. The light fixture is new and will stay.

Dining Room
Light fixture from Overstock as seen here. My hubby still needs to adjust the extra chain 🙂


Love, love, love this dining room! Color is Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal
I even love the plate design on the wall. I’m hoping to find plates at our county flea market this weekend to copy this idea.

Traditional Dining Room by Toronto Interior Designers & Decorators Jane Lockhart Interior Design

We plan to add board and batten wainscoting as seen on Make It and Love It
Love this cabinet
Living Room Inspiration

I desperately need living room help. All I know so far is that I want a cozy reading chair and some sconces. I’m thinking a rich grainy wood coffee table or side tables too. 

Love these from Overstock. Thinking on either side of a sofa or love seat.

Would love a chair like this in the corner with a reading lamp. Pottery Barn Jean Leather Armchair

Weekend Farm Wedding

This past weekend, we traveled to Monmouth, IL for my sorority sister’s farm wedding. Her parents own a beautiful farm on sprawling acres of land! There were so many beautiful, handmade touches that really reflected a true rustic farm wedding. We also had a blast hanging out with all my sorority sisters and their husbands.

We also got to take a fun visit to our college (Western Illinois University) to visit some old spots and have lunch.

 Dress from Men’s shirt from American Eagle

They even decorated the potty!

New House!

Ok, it’s been FOREVER since I’ve blogged, and I think it’s about time to pick back up again! So much has happened in our lives. We moved into a new construction home at the end of May in the far west Chicago suburbs and have been non-stop since then trying to get settled. I decided that a great little entry back into blogging can be a mini-tour of my new house.

The projects will be never-ending! We have already painted the family room and kitchen and put up a back splash. We have replaced most of the downstairs lighting as well with new fixtures that more fit my style. Next up is adding board and batten wainscoting to the dining room and installing hardwood floors. Then we’ll paint and add some wall decor.

I can’t wait to keep painting and adding window treatments to make it feel more like “us.”

Here’s some snapshots I had handy 🙂

Family Room view from our Living Room. Curtain panels handmade by my mother-in-law

Another view of the family room (taken prior to curtains being hung). Wall color: Benjamin Moor Revere Pewter

Kitchen. Painted in Revere Pewter. Lights are Elk Lighting. Backsplash is ivory subway tile and trim pieces. Middle section is done on a herringbone pattern.

Dining Room. Plans include board and batten wainscoting and thinking Benjamin Moore Kendal Grey. Light Fixture is from Overstock.

View from dining room into foyer. 
 Pantry door leading into Dining Room

DIY Fabric Headboard

For a while now, I’ve been wanting a headboard for our bed. I’ve seen several DIY websites where you can make your own fabric headboard. I decided to give it a try (with the help Matt).

First, I purchased batting and fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics. The fabric was a bit pricier than I was expecting at about $25/yard (I purchased 2.5 yards). Second, we purchased medium density fiberboard from Home Depot for around $22 and French cleats to hang the headboard on the wall.

First we cut the board to 5′ x 2.5′

Then we stapled the batting to the board using a stapler. Make sure you pull it really tight so there are no ripples anywhere along the front.

Next, we stapled the fabric. It’s a bit tricky to make sure the fabric is even and level.

When we were finished, we brought it upstairs and propped it up against the wall. We will be hanging it using the French cleats. Overall, I’m very happy with the finished results! It’s a bit hard to tell, but the fabric is grey/silver with yellow squares. I was nervous to get too bright of a fabric since our bedding is so bold.

Don’t mind that dog in the picture =)

Powder Room Makeover

This was an accidental powder room makeover. When we remodeled our master bathroom, we had to cut a hole in the powder room ceiling to get the drain in for the whirlpool. What I thought was going to be a simple ceiling patch job, turned into a new bathroom fan and half of my powder room ceiling missing. Because of all the construction and taping, the entire bathroom needed to be repainted, so I decided to give it a facelift.

Paint: I copied the paint color scheme off of this blog. The colors are Behr Ocean Pearl and Sea Salt from Home Depot. I went with an eggshell finish even though the blog suggested flat. I’m not a fan of flat paint textures.

Accessories: The accessories for the bathroom were purchased from Kohls (picture, coral, sea grass, and candle on vanity), Target (rug and towels), and Marshall’s (garbage can and soap dish).

Here are my only before pictures:

Now my after shots! Click each picture for a larger image.