Arden’s Nursery

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in Simple Redesign | No Comments

We originally designed the nursery for Zelda when she was born in 2013, but we moved Zelda to a new room to prepare for Arden’s arrival at the end of 2015 (I’ll share photos of Zelda’s new room soon—my wide angle lens is in the shop right now).

Before: This is the only before photo I could find. When we moved in, we dumped all of our junk in the room until we could sort it and put it away.Nursery Before

After: We painted the room Oyster Bay (Sherwin Williams). I love this color—it makes the room feel really serene, and it’s gender neutral. We replaced the door and door hardware, painted the trim white, refinished an old dresser and used an IKEA shelf and desk to create storage and a changing table.clean_simple_nursery_inspiration_0004.jpg


IKEA + Semihandmade Kitchen Renovation: Before and After

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in Before and After, Renovation | No Comments

Our kitchen remodel was by far the biggest project that we took on in the whole house. We ended up moving out and living with my parents for four months while our house became a land of dust and construction (I’ll have to share more of the “in progress” photos later). I don’t think most people would recommend taking on a renovation like this during the first year of parenthood, but I’m glad we did it when we did. For more details on the renovation (budgeting, floor plans), check out our full feature in Houzz.

Also check out a few of the kitchens that inspired our finishes:

  • Smitten Studio was the original inspiration for using IKEA cabinets with Semihandmade cabinet faces that we could paint.
  • Jenna Sue Design Co. inspired the white subway tile and open shelving.
  • We loved the dark contrasting island in this Houzz photo.
  • We love the waterfall countertops in this Houzz photo (the waterfall countertops added time and expense to the project because they required extra materials and a special team, but it was completely worth it in the end, since this really sets the tone for the kitchen design).

Before: We started with wallpaper, a horrible fluorescent light, wood cabinets and a severe lack of storage that led to cluttered counters. The one thing we did like was the clean white Corian countertops, which gave us more confidence when we chose this surface for our new 13 foot island.ikea_semihandmade_kitchen_remodel_0001.jpg

After: We knocked out the wall between the kitchen and dining room to create one big continuous space. We donated all of the old cabinets and appliances and bought new stainless steel appliances. We used IKEA for our base cabinets and DIY shaker Semihandmade cabinet doors that we painted Alabaster White (Sherwin Williams) on the perimeter and Cracked Pepper (Behr) on the island. The island is 13 feet long, and most granite and quartz options only come in 10 foot slabs, so we opted for Corian, which can essentially be melted together so that it’s seamless at any length. Corian also worked great for the waterfall edges on the countertops. View all sources at the bottom of this post.
Before: Cluttered counters and THAT WOODEN SCALLOPING.

After: We moved the sink to the island and made the area under the window into a window seat. The cabinets that make up the window seat are actually top wall cabinets that are meant to go above the fridge. These were built onto the base frame with the other cabinets and reinforced with an extra layer of wood on top, then finished with a custom 4″ cushion from Cushion Source. This gives us an amazing amount of extra storage for toys on one side and our own work bags and office supplies on the other.
Here’s the initial mockup I created for this space using IKEA’s design software and a bit of Photoshop.
IKEA kitchen with semihandmade cabinets


Turning the Living Room into a Dining + Living Space: Before and After

Posted by on Mar 17, 2015 in Before and After, Renovation | No Comments

When we bought our 1970s home in 2012, we loved its bones, but we knew that we wanted to put our own personalities into it.

Before: The living room was carpeted, the trim was brown wood and the walls were white.Living dining room combo: before

After: When we renovated our first floor and expanded our kitchen, we moved the dining area into the living room. We painted the room North Star Gray from Sherwin Williams (inspired by this room on Houzz), hung CB2’s Firefly Pendant Light above our giant Reclaimed Wood Dining Table from Crate and Barrel and hung linen curtains high and wide to make the windows look bigger. The flooring is Argonne Forest Oak from Shaw Flooring, the geo rug was a find and the chairs are available on Amazon. We also replaced the base board with a taller white board when we replaced the floors. The window trim is original; we just added white paint and faux wood blinds. The high chair is the Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair.
living dining room renovation:  afterLiving dining room combo: after

Before: The kitchen was a lot darker in the distance with its closed in walls and oak dining room renovation: before

After: We actually ended up expanding the wall by a few feet to make room for our refrigerator on the other side in the kitchen, but the overall feeling is much more open now that you can see all the way through the kitchen and into the family room. The wooden floating shelf was inspired by our Sunday morning routine when we lived in downtown Chicago—we would walk down the street to Intelligentsia to get out of our tiny high rise apartment, and we would sit at their simple wooden coffee bar to sip coffee and catch up on dining room renovation:  after

Before:living dining room renovation: before

After: This photo really shows how we extended the wall to add the fridge to the new kitchen. The dining room area became part of the kitchen, and the new dining room expanded into the living room. We also removed that 1970s pendant light and added recessed lighting in the kitchen. The canvas on the far wall was my own photo from a wedding I photographed in dining room renovation: afterfirefly pendant with detroit photography canvas

Before: The piano came with the house, and it’s way too heavy to move anywhere else in the dining room renovation: before

After: We originally bought the gray Marlowe daybed to go by the window where the dining table now sits, so when we rearranged the living room to make it a dining + living space, the daybed ended up by the piano. We actually use it more now—after dinner, we move into the “music area,” where Jeff plays guitar, and Zelda accompanies him on piano (as well as a one-year-old can, anyway).living dining room renovation: afterliving dining room renovation: after

We had the floating “coffee bar” shelf custom made out of Michigan reclaimed wood by a company called 2nd Chance Wood Company here in Michigan. They have an amazing workshop where they transform wood from old barns around the state into projects like this one. The stools are from Target, and the posters are from Line Posters. They make these awesome screen prints of subway systems from around the world. We chose Chicago because we lived there for almost four years—and spent countless hours on the red and green lines—and Rome because I studied abroad there in college. I love how different they are. Chicago is generally very linear and organized, and Rome’s subway is just one big mass that’s been made to curve around the ruins and history of the dining room renovation: after

Updating the Entry: Before + After

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in Before and After, Renovation | No Comments

When we moved into our 1970s house a few years ago, we knew that we had a lot of work ahead of us to make the house into what we wanted it to be. The entry was one of the first areas that we started to tackle.

Before: The whole house had brown trim that we ended up painting white, along with flimsy brown doors that we eventually replaced with five panel doors from Home Depot.Allie at Home EntryAfter: We went all in on color with Sherwin Williams Languid Blue. I guess you could say that we were a bit inspired by the Phil and Claire’s house on Modern Family. If I’m being honest, there are days when I feel like the bold color is a bit much, and there are days when I totally love it.

The updated flooring is called Argonne Forest Oak from Shaw Floors.Allie at Home Entry afterBefore: We weren’t huge fans of the existing light that was hanging in our entry, but we discovered that it would be hard to replace because there was no direct wiring above it—it had a heavy duty chain swinging down from higher up on the ceiling.

After: As much as we would have liked to replace the light with something more modern and fun, the wiring logistics led us to a simpler option. We ended up putting track lighting higher up on the ceiling. We also added my favorite feature—the entry gallery wall—but more on that in just a minute.Allie at Home Entry before and afterBefore: The closet doors were brown with flimsy wooden knobs

After: We had the doors sprayed white, and we bought simple black knobs from Home Depot.

Allie at Home Entry before and afterBefore: Beyond the paint and new knobs, the lighting by the entry closet was always dark. We had one glass globe that hardly cast enough light to see.

After: We ended up replacing the globe with a set of recessed lights to brighten the area up at night.Allie at Home Entry before and afterBefore:Allie at Home Entry beforeAfter:Allie at Home Entry afterBefore:Allie at Home Entry beforeAfter: We used to have my Detroit canvas hanging on the wall going upstairs before we moved it to the dining area. We’re still figuring out what we want to put here now.Allie at Home Entry afterBefore:Allie at Home Entry beforeAfter: Besides the paint and track lighting, we added a sturdy baby gate to the top of the stairs to keep Zelda safe. You can also see the updated switch plates on the left side of the photo.Allie at Home Entry afterBefore:Allie at Home Entry beforeAfter: We’ve redone almost all of the lighting in our house. The upstairs hallway used to be so dark at night—it just didn’t have enough lighting, and the light that it did have was old and faint. We ended up putting recessed lighting throughout the upstairs hallway to brighten things up.Allie at Home Entry after

Adding Art to the Entry

We get so many compliments when people walk into our home for the first time, because the first thing their eyes are drawn to is this gallery wall with twelve 20×20″ canvases from our adventures over the years. We jokingly call it our timeline wall, like a huge version of our Facebook timelines, because it reflects some of our favorite memories and travels over the years. We’ve included photos from our time living in Chicago and DC, along with trips to Los Angeles, northern Michigan, Seattle, hiking 14,000 mountains in Colorado, skiing in Colorado and visiting London and Rome.

Here’s the fun part about these photos—we actually had them printed directly from our Instagram feeds through a company called CanvasPop. These were all photos that we had taken on our phones over time and posted to Instagram. They aren’t nearly as crisp as the Detroit canvas that I had made out a photo that I took on my professional camera, but the canvases give them kind of an artsy feel. My only advice for a project like this is to stick to photos that don’t include people. The Chicago photo in the upper right cornber includes a crowd, and they definitely look more abstract (almost painted).

Allie at Home Entry

Canvas Pop wall

Micro-where? Our Hidden Microwave

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in Organization, Renovation | No Comments

When we started our kitchen redesign, we loved the idea of clean lines and clutter-free counters. We loved the concept that our architect had drawn up and rendered in IKEA’s design software, but we didn’t love IKEA’s microwave solutions. I swear to you that I spent countless hours pondering what to do with this thing. We loved the idea of the Sharp Microwave Drawer Oven, but we couldn’t commit to the price. We thought about getting a trim kit to make a microwave look built in, but we couldn’t find the right look. Finally, we decided to go with the most stupid simple solution we could come up with—we decided to buy a standalone countertop microwave (a Samsung Counter Top Microwave) and hide it in the lower cabinet along with the toaster.

hidden microwave in lower cabinet

When the lower cabinets are closed, they all look the same, but the two cabinets on the far left are actually doors that swing out to reveal the microwave and storage for cookie sheets and other flat objects, while the rest of the lower cabinets on this wall are pull out storage.hidden_microwave_0002

Here’s a close up look at what the cabinets look like when they’re closed.hidden_microwave_0003And here’s what you see when you open the cabinet up. We’ve found that it’s really easy to just grab the toaster and plug it in each time we use it. It’s not a big hassle, and we prefer to keep the countertop as clean and minimalist as we can.

We were worried that it would be a pain to keep the cabinet doors open while using the microwave. Would they get in the way? Would we run into them every time we wanted to use the microwave? In the end, we’ve LOVED everything about this solution. We pop the doors open when we use it (it’s rarely more than a minute at a time), and we happily close it away when we’re done. It makes the whole kitchen look so much cleaner.hidden_microwave_0004Here’s one more view with the pull out drawer open so you can see the difference.hidden_microwave_0005If you’re considering this solution for your own kitchen and you have reservations about it, I say go for it! This is by far the best solution we could have come up with, and we feel super sneaky about our ability to hide away what could otherwise become countertop clutter.

I’ve only had to give the microwave one good scrubbing so far, and it was no big deal. Yes, I had to sit on the floor to get a good look around and make sure everything was clean, but it was no less convenient than standing on my tippy toes trying to clean the back of a microwave up high. And the doors have deterred Zelda from getting into the microwave so far. When she’s older, we may add additional childproofing—the microwave itself has a childproof setting, or we may opt for the old fashioned cabinet latches that can be hidden inside the door.hidden_microwave_0006

Laundry Room Redesign

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in Organization | No Comments

The laundry room was the one room in the house that we somehow failed to get a before picture of. I guess it was just that forgettable. When we moved in, it was being used as a closet (complete with brown carpet), so it didn’t seem like it qualified as a room in the house. The laundry was down in the basement, and we were desperate to move it upstairs by the time Zelda arrived (we ended up finishing about a month after she arrived—better late than never, no?).

Before we built out the laundry room, we were hanging clothes all over our bathroom to dry, so we came up with this super simple solution to give us a dedicated place to dry clothing. We bought a basic off-the-shelf wall cabinet at Home Depot for $99 and hung it in the middle of the wall, then we bought two extra strong tension rods and added a few nice wooden hangers to each. These things are pretty sturdy, but we do have to be careful to spread out the weight if clothes are particularly heavy.

A little paint also helped to freshen things up. The color is White Clay from Behr.

laundry room redesign ideas: hang tension rods for hangers to dry clotheslaundry_room_redesign_ideas_0002laundry room redesign ideas: hang tension rods for hangers to dry clotheslaundry room redesign ideas: hang tension rods for hangers to dry clothes

We tore up the tile and replaced it with Menorca tile from The Tile Shop. It has a nice mix of gray and beige tones, so it goes with anything—but it goes get a bit cold, so a fluffy white rug keeps our bare feet cozy. The hamper from Target helps us keep clutter (e.g. dirty clothes) off the floor. I also bought a little magnetic rack for the side of the washer to organize my Norwex wash cloths. You can get a similar rack on Amazon.

Laundry room floor and organization

The Master Bedroom: Before and After

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in Before and After, Simple Redesign | No Comments

Unlike our kitchen and first floor, our bedroom redesign was fairly simple—the room was transformed with a little paint, curtains, some new doors and decor updates. We did bring in a little electrical work later on with the addition of recessed lighting and a wall mounted television, but overall, the bedroom was more of a slow transformation versus a huge renovation.

Master Bedroom Before: When we bought our house in 2012, everything was brown and beige, and the windows looked small and bare.

Master Bedroom After: We painted the trim white, hung curtains from Z Gallerie high and wide to make the windows look larger, bought faux wood blinds from Home Depot, painted the walls light gray (Sherwin Williams North Star), added recessed lighting that can be dimmed by remote control, bought a tufted bed from Joss & Main, hung photos from our trip to Paris and bought the Shake Low Dresser from CB2 to fit under the window. The laundry basket is from Home Goods, and the lamp is from Pier One.Gray and Yellow Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom Before:bedroom_design_0014

Master Bedroom After: After spending eight months living in DC with a television mounted on our bedroom wall, we came home and immediately hung the television up on our own wall to clean things up. Our master bathroom is small, so we added a BESTÅ BURS desk from IKEA with a table mirror to give me extra space to get ready. We also picked up a basket with a lid from Target to store the odds and ends that collect around the room and hide the television cords.

Master Bedroom Before:bedroom_design_0013

Master Bedroom After: We had the closet doors sprayed white and replaced the knobs, and we replaced the bedroom and bathroom doors with five panel doors from Home Depot. The mirror is from CB2.bedroom_design_0010

Finishing Touches: The fake plant is from Crate & Barrel, the Owl bookends are from Z Gallerie, and we used a simple end table from IKEA as the side table.bedroom_design_0002




I searched high and low for the small side table to fit the tiny space on my side of the bed. I ended up coming across this drink stand at Target, and it was the perfect fit.


bedroom_design_0009bedroom_design_0011 bedroom_design_0007