My first blog love

Aug 1, 2013 by

Do you remember the first blog you really loved?  The first one you really learned something and found a way to use it in your own life?  I know exactly where my obsession with blogs began.  2009.  When I first started house shopping.  Lucky for me, somehow I stumbled upon Young House Love.

Now it’s almost cliché.  Who doesn’t love Young House Love? But this was four years ago.  Before the book. Pre-Clara.  Before they were mainstream.  In the world of design dilemmas and mood boards.  Anyway…

In the midst of house shopping, Chris and I disagreed a lot.  I wanted something new.  The apartments we lived in when we were first married were all basically less than a year old.  I loved the walk in closets, tile floors, and open floor plans.  Chris wanted something with a little more character — he wanted a house that needed a little love.  The beauty of archived emails is coming across gems like this:

Email C&S

For those of you who know me in real life, it might surprise you to learn that Chris won the war (I really like winning).  The kitchen project was what I feared most.  And what we were starting with was not ideal.


Take note:  builder beige walls, almond color outlet covers, gold/white cabinet pulls, sweet vintage upside down basket light fixture.  Our house was built in 1991.  I thought they quit making those light fixtures in the seventies — maybe the previous owner liked hers so much she had it installed here? I just don’t know.



Again note: The scalloped piece above the sink, 80’s cabinet pulls (and brass hinges), ancient refrigerator, off-white range hood (= no microwave). Oh, and what you can’t see?  Dirty, chipping cabinets in serious need of a fresh coat of paint.

The positives?  Beautiful hardwood floors.  Plenty of space.  Solid wood cabinets.

So, I was at a loss with what do with our eat in kitchen.  I scoured the internet for ideas (ahem, before Pinterest) and saw this post on Young House Love and just knew I could make it work.

Young House Love - Ania

I loved how the hardwoods were similar to ours and loved how open it felt even though it seemed like a smaller space.  So we got to work.

Craigslist Table

We scored a $65 Craigslist pedestal table.  Enter some sand paper, primer, paint, poly, and sweat equity.  (I think I mostly followed this tutorial).  At the same time, I was convinced we needed to paint the cabinets.  So we removed all the cabinet doors…and eventually everything from inside our cabinets and refinished them ourselves (it helps if you have an unfinished basement where you will have room to work). I followed this tutorial for cabinet painting.  Also, as you can see below, we installed a new microwave.

Kitchen Renovation

I was still struggling with a color scheme for the room, although I knew I wanted to keep the cabinets white.  Again,  Young House Love came to the rescue when I saw this picture of their fully renovated Kitchen.


I loved the white cabinets with the hardwood floors and how bright and beachy it seemed.  This was where I wanted to go.  Still, we had a lot of work to do…


We painted all of the trim, the ceiling, and the walls.  We worked with Beautiful Home Interiors and did an exact color match to Glidden’s Gentle Tide, the same color as was in the Young House Love first house kitchen (blues can go so wrong and this is the absolutely perfect shade of aqua).


Enter new hardware for the drawers (and for the cabinet doors, and matching hinges).  We got these from Lee Valley.


I also lined all the drawers and the shelves.  This liner is from Target.


Also, we are blessed that my Dad is an electrician (and Chris’ dad knows lots about home improvement too).  He was able to teach Chris some basic electrical, so we also switched out all the outlets and light switches to bright white, and finally got rid of the upside-down basket lamp.  We replaced it with this pendant from CB2.  We also added under cabinet lighting and lighting above the cabinets as well.

White Subway Tile Renovation

We also learned a lot of about tile.  We actually used credit card points to get a Lowe’s gift certificate — which covered the cost of these white subway tiles.  We  used a gray grout (this is important so you can see the subway pattern).  This project only took a few days — the most time consuming was all of the cutting.

Eva Juliet Etsy

I searched far and wide for some sort of art to hang in our kitchen.  This is a lot harder than you would think.  I didn’t want pictures of kitchen objects or food.  I liked the idea of some type of botanical print, and initially settled on herbs.  Then, I decided that it needed something besides just green.  I saw these berries prints on Etsy, and instantly knew they were the ones. We put them in gallery frames from Target and they were everything I had hoped for.

Enter 4 new Felix Chairs from Crate and Barrel, and a bowl of fruit and here is the “after” of our eat-in-kitchen area…


 So much better.  And facing the other direction, you see this:


And this:

Final Kitchen Renovation

I’d call this an in progress shot.  We still need to replace the dishwasher (the racks are actually powder blue — so at least they match the walls? And hey, the thing works).  We also need to replace the florescent light, and I’m really struggling with this – any suggestions?

So this is where I learned the true power of the blog.  I learned how to do almost every single project in this room from one blog or another.  We paid $0 for labor.  While the transformation might seem small, it makes me very happy.  We are no design or DIY experts.  Still, I think it is really inspiring that even in smaller town like JCMO you can find resources and inspiration from all over the globe to really make your home what you want.

What are your blog loves?  Design/house blogs? Mom blogs? Fashion blogs? Tech blogs?  I’m building my lists in Feedly….

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  1. It looks amazing! Paul wanted character, too and while I love that, I didn’t want to do any work. This looks like it was a great decision, though and I love the wall color!

  2. dayla

    Stephanie it looks great! That wall color makes my legs feel all wobbly. I LOVE it and I also love knowing a YHL reader from back in the day. I’ve been on a project hiatus and you’re inspiring me to get back in the groove! Thanks.

  3. I loved this post. The work turned out great! We did the same thing with our kitchen, ours was way uglier…..hoarders FTW. The e-mail was great. I bought a house instead of an engagement ring late 2011. I won, but we all won.

    Some sort of Brushed Nickel ceiling light or fan? The kind that are on strings? Google Search: Brushed nickel kitchen lights. (Some of the sweet Bellacor stuff is $300+ yikes) or the over cabinet lights that are more hidden on the walls above the cabinets.


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