3 Years Old

The Wits turned 3 years old today!

It’s hard to believe that this whole thing started 3 years ago in a rental garage after finding a few old dressers on craigslist to update.

I knew just what I wanted for them.  We set out to do the repairs and finished them without electricity or running water in that workspace.  Some people in the apartment complex stopped by to see what we were up to because they noticed two crazies working on something in their garage every evening and weekend.

The first dressers made their way to New York with a couple who told us that we are really going to be something in this field one day.  That message was a constant to us and very encouraging each time.

From there, we did a lot of customer jobs, delivered things out of state and shipped a few pieces on etsy to various persons around the U.S.

We wanted more space to live and work, to stop renting and also craved a big project.  In December of 2011 we moved into this house and never looked back.  After reaching one goal, we’d move on to the next and never stopped setting more goals.  We expanded our family to include two pups who don’t even blink when we start to make noise.

Our dream was to move to the Pacific Northwest.  The opportunity came up a little over a year ago with Greg’s job and we jumped on it.  We set out to overhaul almost every room in the place before moving.

The house is nearly finished today and I can’t wait to get back to refurbishing furniture regularly once we get to Seattle.   Greg and I love designing/improving furniture and homes so much that we believe it is our calling and intend to continue doing both.

3 little years.  I wonder where we’ll be in 3 more.

Featured on House*Tweaking!

I don’t say OMG very often but this has been an amazing OMG week with two features on some awesome, inspiring sites.  Today’s spotlight is over at House*Tweaking where Dana interviewed me about our Ikea kitchen reno.  It was an honor to be chosen by her since she is one of my absolute favorite bloggers.  Take a look!


Befores and Afters: Renovations of Each Room (with Sources and Totals)

I thought I’d show you around our place.  Well, some of the photos are from some time ago, but not much has changed.  The rooms have a new shade of paint, new doors, new trim, and new lighting.  Both bathrooms, the kitchen, outside and basement were/are a bigger task than just that, but also include all of those new fixings as well.

We’re now working on the 3 rooms and a few closets in the basement for the final lap of this race.  Having very little to put towards it has made some of the decisions for us.  We’re going to lay the groundwork, but much like the landscape, the next owners will have to put some work into it.

Throughout these 2 1/2 years we’ve lived in often ridiculous circumstances with a lot of adjusting and “making do.”  We’ve learned to just roll with it over our 10+ years together, so it wasn’t too far of a stretch for us.  Keep in mind I bring you these shots while we’re only a few months away from listing this southern Minnesota house and (hopefully soon after) finally moving to Seattle.  We have a hodpodge of belongings and are preparing for house guests.  Annie’s parents and sis are coming to help out and see the place snazzed up.  Things are a bit awkward and un-staged.

It dawned on me that I haven’t really shown the multitude of updates and renovations we’ve done to the place in one post and our page dedicated to the topic has not been updated in some time (working on it).  I wanted to make this one photo-centric so here are the befores and afters.

Living room before

Excuse the blur

After in Sherwin Williams Passive gray and Benjamin Moore Decorator’s white on the trim

I said it was a hodgepodge of belongings…

New Pottery Barn rods and French gray curtains in the living room


There’s always a dog toy in the photos around here

After with solid doors from a builder’s outlet store (8 for about $300) and front door free on craigslist (with a little work done to it) 

Or a dog

Hutch before (between the living and dining room)

After with help from family, heavy duty hinge and all 

Now secret attic entrance/bookcase 

Dining room before

After with solid hardwood maple flooring (rugs covering that beauty)

Work in progress

Door blind and pendant light from Overstock.com, table/chairs/bench from craigslist, rug from Ikea, kilim rug from ebay and table light from Target clearance

Hallway before

After (most inside of closets painted in Benjamin Moore paper white paint which is between light gray and white)

Master bedroom before

After in Benjamin Moore gray owl

Set up for guests (yes, that is a new-to-us bed and dresser from craigslist)-blinds from Lowes-comforter from Target clearance years ago

Schlage satin nickel doorknobs in andover and addison with contemporary nickel pulls on the closet

Second bedroom before

After in Benjamin Moore Chelsea gray

Before trim and the door was painted

Our lighting picks

This is one hard room to capture with our queen bed in it for the time being-notice no closet (put that space in the bathroom)

Main bathroom before

After with matte subway tile, hexagon marble floor tile, paint is Benjamin Moore gray wisp, and the sources are here (picked these lights instead) 

We opened the door from 24″ to 30″

DIY refinished tub

Added a closet for a stackable washer/dryer and storage-shelves from Target-basket from HomeGoods-Turkish towels from here-rug from Restoration Hardware (my sis made the artwork)

This bathroom finished for about $1600 

Basement bathroom before

After with glossy white subway tile, mosaic floor tile from Lowes, shower rod from here – Benjamin Moore gray owl (again but looks a different shade in this room)

Sources here (rug from West Elm and basket from HomeGoods)

Ikea mirror-Target towels-sink and faucet from Wayfair

Shower system from Amazon-shower caddy from Bed, Bath & Beyond

Basement bathroom was finished for about $1500

Kitchen before

After with original plans and project like these, this, this, this, this and finally this 

Paint is Benjamin Moore Rockport gray (missing a few cover panels)-knobs from here and pulls here-lights from Home Depot – rug from Target clearance and temporary (dishwasher was $60 craigslist score, faucets and sink were from discount online stores like the Amazon “used like new” section)

We already had the stove and refrigerator – great range hood for $199.99 from Rakuten

Ikea kitchen with some custom details (like molding from Menards, painted using Benjamin Moore color match technology to the Ikea Adel off-white color)- no more pocket door (we opened the doorway)

Butcher block counter from builder’s outlet store and flooring is Mohawk Rockingham solid coffee maple (when we bought it it was called Rockford…yeah both the paint and flooring were called Rockford)-blinds from JCPenney.  

The kitchen was finished for about $4500 (Ikea cbinets were $2600 for our 9′ x 10′ galley kitchen)

Outside before 


DIY slat fence 

New exterior lights and mailbox from Amazon 

New breezeway patio

Stairs before

During (not finished)

Basement bedroom 1 before (working on the reveal now)

During its “studio” phase (it was this for 2 years)

Basement bedroom 3 (or 2…now it’s open and going to be an entertainment room…reveal later)

Same room

Still the same room…they are big rooms downstairs 

Potential basement bedroom 2 (or 3)

We used this as the furniture refurbishing room when we couldn’t use the garage.

Not shown or mentioned is the utility room which has had some updates, replacements (water heater and repaired water softener)

You’ll have to wait for the rest of the updates-hope to see you here then!


The New Kitchen

Sorry to leave you hanging on the kitchen progress for a few weeks.  I honestly was more focused on moving past it-being one of the last big projects to tackle-to be a decent blogger.  I planned to get out my big girl camera and take some decent shots, then I said nah and took my iphone out.  To read more about the kitchen renovation (and see the “befores”), check out this, this and this post.  Those include our opinion and experience using Ikea products.  (This post makes the 4th about that topic.)

It is an ikea kitchen with custom features.  The total for the kitchen reno was under $4,500.  99% finished-a few cover panels (we have to cut those at our friend’s house and that has not happened yet) and we did not get enough toe kick from Ikea to finish the stove side which we plan to get soon.  Pay no attention to the protective film we still have on the cabinets.  That is not coming off until we go to put the house on the market Dana from House*Tweaking featured this kitchen on her site!

To finish the whole “Ikea experience” talk…putting the cabinets in was fairly simple and went quicker than expected.  We tackled one side one weekend and the other on another.

Be prepared is the best advise I can think to give.  We had the cabinets together before installation, the measurements and tools were nearby, then we had the energy and expectations that some biffs will come along the way.  None really.

Since we wanted to get the cabinets as close to the ceiling as we could and add molding, we had to make a custom base for the pantry cabinet to somewhat match where the base cabinets sat.  The refrigerator is not counter-depth so it took some work to get the upper cabinet in (custom framing) and we simply put Ikea’s large panel on the side-cutting only a little off.  Assembling the drawers, catches and dampers wasn’t bad at all.  (Ahem be sure to have them facing the correct way.)

The flooring was a different story.  That came from a discount seller I found online and while all that was great and dandy, installation was sometimes awful.  Moreso the husband/wife + home improvement factor where one of us (me) is pickier about some things.  But, the solid 3 1/4″ coffee maple hardwood is beautiful.  Worth it.

These pics are misleading because we have 2 energetic pups who ruin pretty much everything in the house they can get to which is why I normally have a dozen rugs on the floor and other precautions in place to help.  The big rug is from Ikea, some are Target clearance specials and some were just by the check out at Menards to protect the new hardwood maple flooring.

I wanted a little something for myself since I will not be staging the place-we’re just trying to get out of here, folks-so I got a kilim rug to bring in some color.  Found that baby on ebay.  Well, I found it on etsy then found the same seller on ebay who marked it a lower price once I started watching it and I got free shipping which was not offered on etsy.  Anywho, I love it.  It’s one of the few things I get.  Besides, staging is the next phase of life for me.

You can’t see the ugly rugs in these pics, but know that they are there on a daily basis…along with a large, old microwave and various other things typically on the counter in the kitchen.  I was wise enough to take those things out of the pics.

What do you think of the kitchen?

The paint is Rockport gray from Benjamin Moore.  The trim was color matched using Benjamin Moore’s system at our local hardware store.  The butcher block is from here, a builder outlet store (if you’re in the Minneapolis area).  Of course, Ikea cabinets, molding and other trim from Menards, lights from Home Depot and Lowes…if anything tickles your fancy send me a comment and I’ll get back to you with the details.  Hardware, flooring, sink, faucets, etc..

I love the kitchen.  The flow, storage, look, everything is so much better.  On to the basement!

Psst Wanna See the Kitchen So Far…

Just a Sunday post to bring you some recent photos of the kitchen.  Lots of small things left to do.  I hope to get a real post up about our overall experience using Ikea cabinets to finish off the series (post 1 about buying, designing & tips and post 2 about delivery & assembly then there was this post about the kitchen demo in-between those).

I’d also like to tell you a great way to get a more vintage/great patina on butcher block countertops using all-natural products.  *I should note that our counter was purchased at a builder’s outlet store and not from Ikea.  They don’t sell the maple version and we got our countertop for a terrific deal.*

The entire kitchen was, or will be, finished for under $4500.  Goes with our budget renovations on both bathrooms and pretty much the entire house.  Almost finished.  Almost time to find another house to fix up near Seattle.

Let’s start with what the kitchen looked like when we bought it (and mostly stayed that way for 2 1/2 years which was hard for a homecook/food enthusiast like myself)…

We did a few small things during those 2 1/2 years and one very big thing which was taking out the pocket door and opening the doorway between the kitchen and dining room.  That was about 1 1/2 years ago.  It made a huge difference.

To get the built-in look for the fridge, we had to bring in the other side of that doorway by about 7 inches, but it’s still very open and scaled correctly with the house.

And now…

A few items we left in the design even though we weren’t 100% on them (like the light above the sink) .  The house is renovated for resale and not necessarily our own tastes, but some of it seeped through.  I had to keep this in mind so as not to drive myself too crazy looking for just the right this or that.  Each room we’ve touched (95%) flows well into the other, I think anyway.

If you have any questions and comments leave them below and I will get back to you.  Instagram is also a good way to get in contact with me.  Like always, go have yourself a great week!

Let’s Hear It For My Mom

Post-Mother’s Day I thought I’d share the blanket and pillow my mom made for me.  I know I’m a bit backward as I am a pet mom without human children and I should have made her something, but it just aligned this way.

She said I would be receiving a package with something she’d made, but I had no idea what that would be.  Then these arrived…

Gorgeous chevron, right?  I love them.  Thanks, mom!