The Patio: Before & After

When we bought our little old house back in 2015, the backyard was not one of its main selling points. (You'll see what I mean at the end of this post.) It was overgrown with weeds and odd-shaped. In the northwest corner was a brownish-red brick paver patio that I solemnly vowed to eventually demo and replace with the likes of wood decking or limestone. Of course, that was before we renovated both bathrooms from the ground up, updated the kitchen, installed new HVAC, replaced the galvanized plumbing, refinished the hardwood flooring, painted the interior and exterminated the rats living in the attic. So needless to say, there was not much in the budget left over for the patio of my dreams. Six months down the line, we eventually saved up enough to redo the landscaping, created a garden space and bought new patio furniture. These simple updates went a long way in transforming the backyard and we finally weren't embarrassed to have friends over for barbecues.

Still, the patio remained in all its red, bricky glory. I considered adding an outdoor rug, power washing and overlaying some deck tiles like these from Ikea, but none of these felt like the right solution. Then one day, someone suggested lime washing and I figured it was worth a shot. So I drove to Home Depot and bought two quarts of lime wash and a cheap wooden brush for $75. For the next couple days, I painstakingly painted each brick by hand with a little 3" brush. Despite the inclement weather and phases of self doubt and painter's remorse, I couldn't be happier with the results. Most importantly, the three of us love spending time out here now more than ever, which was always the goal at the end of the day!


The lime wash I used is Romabio in Bianco White. The label claims that the wash is reversible up to 5 days with a power washer, so that was reassuring enough. The whole process took a couple days because I kept stepping back to examine it from afar. If one area looked too flat and opaque, I'd spray it over with the hose and use an old bristle brush to scrub down certain bricks to achieve the effect of depth and texture. 


For more progress shots & behind the scenes, check out my Instagram Story highlights!

Chairs: Article  //  Patterned Pouf: World Market  //  White Cushion: World Market  //  Green Cushion: Ikea  //  Green Side Table: Ikea  //  White Side Table/Propane Tank Cover: YLiving  //  Propane Fire Pit: Amazon  // Fire Pit Cover: Amazon  //  White Plant Stand: Amazon  //  Outdoor String Lights: Amazon


If you're wondering what this space looked like before, feast your eyes on these gems I dug up from the archives of an old phone. Some photos are from the very first time our realtor took us to see this little fixer upper, right after she cheerily cautioned us to "keep an open mind." I don't know if it was the dog poop or the air conditioning unit propped up with a stick but somehow we saw all of this and thought, yep we want to live here

The Kitchen: Before & After

I'm excited to share our kitchen today. This is the space where David and I cook our favorite one-pot meals together every Sunday, where we share the quick "how was your day?" and where Hoku appears at the drop of a hat when he hears the sound of vegetables being cut on the chopping block. If you want to see the before pics first, close your eyes and scroll really quickly to the slideshow at the bottom, but I just couldn't help but to start off with the AFTERS. So without further ado, put on your sunnies and I present to you our blindingly white kitchen. 

Our goal with the kitchen was to give it the best facelift possible without breaking the bank. David and I aren't crazy chefs and all we really wanted was a space that was clean and comfortable. The old kitchen had these large red Spanish floor tiles that I absolutely loathed because it had dark 1" grout lines, but I convinced myself that I could live with it. One of the things we absolutely needed to remove, however, was the old dishwasher because it was just smelly and unsanitary. But get this...they had installed the dishwasher, then literally tiled it in. Like, permanently. So in order to remove the dishwasher, all the offensive tile had to go. (Not great news for the budget but sorry, not sorry?) We ended up continuing the hardwood into the kitchen since we were refinishing the rest of the house anyway and I'm so glad we did because, it looks soooo much better now. And where the dishwasher was, we turned into a drawer for trash and recycling to declutter our floor space.

The kitchen cabinets are all original as is the butcher block and cooktop. The cabinets got a fresh coat of paint, new hinges and hardware. Stripping  four layers of cruddy old yellow paint off the cabinets was probably my least favorite part of the process as it involved two full weekends of breathing in heavy fumes and applying a strong stripping agent that came close to burning the skin off our hands. But it was worth it...I think. We also got rid of all the dark green 50's style square tiles, replacing it with a 2"x8" marble subway tile backsplash and white quartz countertop.

Shopping for appliances was another ordeal. We had no idea how difficult it would be to find appliances to fit small 50's kitchens, namely the fridge and the gas wall oven. After extensive research, we literally found the only fridge in existence (that was available in the US and wasn't some super fancy expensive appliance that had to be imported from Germany) that would fit our shallow 24" counter depth and other very specific old school kitchen dimensions. It was one of those scary big purchases that we had to just buy blindly from an appliance store in New York without seeing the actual thing in person because it wasn't available locally, so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. Luckily, it all worked out perfectly. So, thanks Summit, for being the brand that no one's ever heard of that also looks out for those of us with tiny kitchens!

Secondly the gas wall oven. Did you know that the gas wall oven is basically obsolete? Seriously they are all electric now. If you've ever searched for wall ovens on, you probably started off with like maybe 300 options, but after selecting "gas" and 24" widths, guess what? You end up with ONE option. A couple weeks before we were to install our oven, gives me the biggest heart attack by announcing that our only oven option in existence was discontinued and no longer available. (The alternative? Pay $3000 to upgrade our circuit breaker box to handle an electric oven, which was not an option.) I panicked and cried and scoured the Internet to no avail. Luckily our handyman was kind enough to call a local appliance store on our behalf only to find that they had one unit left. It was a bold stroke of luck and we made a mad dash to the store to pick it up. So yes, for all intents and purposes, we feel like we got the last 24" Maytag Gas Wall Oven with Delayed-Start Control ever. 

In the end, we couldn't be happier with the results. Is it the ultimate chef's kitchen to end all kitchens? Not really. The drawers aren't those amazing soft close drawers, let alone have any tracks at all. The "vintage" cooktop is impossible to keep clean. The glass cabinet doors were a DIY job by a previous owner which has a ton of scratches and doesn't even align with the inside shelving. But you know, it's a little thing we like to call "character." And after living without a kitchen for months, finally having a kitchen at all and one to call our own just feels like a dream. 

Fridge: Summit  //  Faucet: Delta  //  Sink: Vigo  //  Light Pendant: Schoolhouse Electric  //  Water Kettle: Smeg  // Toaster Oven: Breville  //  Cooktop: "Vintage" Kenmore (original to the house)  //  Gas Wall Oven: Maytag  //  Microwave: Panasonic  //  Backsplash: The Tile Shop  //  Cabinet Pulls:   //  Sauce Pan: Dansk Kobenstyle  //  Copper Cannisters: Old Dutch

And finally, this is such a small detail but I have to mention it...we added an outlet to the counter area to make it a more functional space for working and charging devices! Did you know that you can replace any traditional outlet with a USB outlet? It's so brilliant and saves so much space. Definitely one of my favorite updates.

And now, I present to you, the BEFORES...enjoy!

How To Survive A Remodel With A Dog

If you haven't been following us on Instagram lately, our big news this past summer is that we bought a house! A small, old cottage-y house with problems galore, but with great bones and a wonderful, walkable location. 

We focused first on high priority things like the faulty electrical, leaky plumbing and rat problem in the attic and then some nice-to-haves like refinishing the white oak floors and giving the place some new paint. For the sake of our budget, we'd suck it up and live with the ugly floor tile in the kitchen with its 1" monster grout lines and the Easter-themed pastel bathrooms. They say that renovations end up taking three times as long and twice the budget and that, ladies and gentlemen, is just the cold hard truth. The more layers of house we unveiled, the more problems we found and before we knew it, we had ripped out the offensive kitchen tile and gutted both bathrooms...among a number of other things we weren't originally planning on doing. 

As you can imagine, trying to adjust to a new place while dealing with loud noises and watching strangers walk in and out of your house on a daily basis can be stressful for a pup, but thankfully Hoku has been handling it well. Here are some things we've been doing to make the renovation just a little more comfortable for him.

1. Establish boundaries. Before any crew started their respective job, I made them well aware of the fact that there would be a dog in the house and asked them where they would need access. I made barriers out of things like boxes and suitcases so that my curious pup wouldn't be able to stick his nose near dangerous tools, toxic chemicals, sharp nails, etc. Also, with the front door being opened and closed constantly, I needed to make sure he couldn't run out while I wasn't watching. Despite my best efforts, he did manage to escape once but just ended up following one of the guys back in the house. (And scaring him pretty badly in the process since the dude probably thought that Hoku, collarless at the time, was some kind of wild fox or baby coyote.)

2. Create a safe retreat. That space ended up being my office, which was a huge relief because it needed the least amount of work and was located in the quietest corner of the house. It was the one room that was always clean and orderly and essentially a retreat for the both of us amidst the chaos. I kept the radio on to drown out the loud noises and Hoku had access to his water bowl, bed and favorite toys here.

3. Take breaks and stay on schedule. It was important for us to be able to get out of the house and escape from all the work going on inside, whether it was just going for a short walk or playing in the backyard. Making sure that walks and food times stayed consistent day to day was also key in creating some sense of normalcy. 

While we feel extremely blessed to have our own place to call home, living with a remodel is starting to take its toll on our sanity. We've been taking baths with a bucket, brushing our teeth in the kitchen sink, constantly rummaging through boxes to find things, and no matter how many times I swiffer, the house is always always covered in a layer of dust. (Yes, I am aware that the world's smallest violin is playing our sad song.) I am thrilled to announce however, that if all goes swimmingly, we will finally have a shower this week. A glorious, working shower. 

Here are some iPhone snapshots from these past few weeks. I'll be sharing more photos along the way as things start taking shape so stay tuned!