Kitchen Renovation – The Plan

Pretty much since we bought our house, the kitchen was always the worst offender. In fact, B was sold on this house and had to convince me — the kitchen being one of my sticking points for the price of the house (which was over our budget). Also, the kitchen was green when we bought it, so that was another strike against it. So it’s very exciting to finally be in the process of planning out our kitchen renovation. Unfortunately our kitchen doesn’t have an ideal footprint where we would just be updating cabinets, countertops or flooring. In fact, we’re moving walls to extend the footprint to create an actual kitchen!

The Plan

As you can see above, we have a tiny little alcove with all of our cabinets, sink and stove… and then a larger room for our fridge and a bunch of other random pieces of furniture… our fridge used to be in a different spot when we got the house, but moved it to be less in the way… yeah it’s an odd configuration with a lot of wasted space in our “larger part” of the kitchen. Oh and did I mention, zero counter space?

The layout and our initial plan of what we thought we could do versus what is more practical have changed as we’ve worked through the logistics with my Uncle whose a contractor. He gave us some really good things that added space to our design, but also made us think through some practical and more functional design layouts which we took to heart and have incorporated into the final plans. One of my must-haves was quickly smashed with reality based on the space limitations we still have, so my kitchen sink will not be facing a window looking out into our backyard… 😢 Mainly because, we weren’t accounting on having a door still in our kitchen space, instead we would be putting a slider door out of our dinning room onto our patio. Unfortunately we quickly vetoed that because it would be about $5k, need HVAC reworking, and eat up about 2-feet or more of our patio for nice walk out steps. My uncle also felt from a functionality perspective, having a door in the kitchen to go in and out to grab stuff made more sense and the more we thought about it the more we agreed.

Another big part in this planning, is tempering expectations – we have a tiny footprint currently, so the updates and expansions we’re planning feel like we are going to be getting this massive and more open space… which we are, but not as much as we think. I’ve also been dreaming of a cozy little breakfast nook, but have even been doubting my initial vision for that, because I’m afraid we won’t have as much space as I’m thinking/hoping.

Also, don’t worry – we have actual cad plans of the space besides my poor measuring and rough sketch!

The inspiration

I must admit, I am usually one that has a vision and everything planned out – especially for our house projects, but this one is making me super indecisive and unconfident about what to choose. On one hand, I want to make some bold choices with flooring, or a cool backsplash… and on the other hand, I feel like I know I’ll end up keeping it pretty classic and timeless with simple and safer choices. But I want to push myself to picking at least one bold thing. The vibe I’m going for is glam, yet classic and cozy. We also will not be skimping on the finishes, from appliances (already half ordered🤞) to the hardware, lighting and faucets… oh! and heated floors.

I’m fairly confident we will end up going all white cabinets, although I do love a light blue/grey color – but I’m also in a green obsession (Thanks, Ashley Brooke!) so we shall see. Definitely going with gold finishes and maybe leaning towards a rich butcher block counter top and tile floors. But if we do end up picking a stone countertop, it sounds like Quartz is the resounding and durable choice.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Soooo many things to decide! B and I are planning to go do some window shopping at a few different spots to scope out flooring, backsplash and maybe even a direction on cabinets. For now, we are still working on finalizing the actual floor plans with our amazing friend and then we’ll be getting our contractor in here to talk numbers and timing. We’re hoping we won’t have to do anything structurally, but there is that chance still. We are also really hoping we can get this done in 2021 — but are also realistic that we may need to push to 2022. Here’s to hoping we have a brand new kitchen in time for Christmas!

Lastly, if you’ve made it this far – what do you love/hate with your kitchen remodel? What do you wish you would’ve done differently or can’t live without? Comment below, or shoot me a private message!


Before & After: Backyard Makeover

B and I have talked about this project off and on for a few years now. We are fortunate to have a decent size yard for the city we live in, and I’ve always loved our green space even if we have a small dog. But, we have a back spot that has some trees and the grass doesn’t grow great, plus we get a small lake back there when we have heavy rains. The back also faces an old paint chipping garage — so we always thought it would be nice to add a little privacy and greenery. The problem though, was we would have to build up the area based on how that area handles the rain.
Backyard(4)We had two different ideas on how we could do this. Mine was making planter boxes and B’s was building up the ground and using rocks to build a sort of wall. I quickly sold B on the planter box idea, for a few reasons — (1) we could customize the dimensions and look however we wanted to fit our space and (2) the stones I would want to put in the backyard would be expensive, as I’m not the biggest fan of the more generic ones you can find in stock at home improvement stores. Thus the planning begun and the measurements started. We ended up adding in a second planter box to the right of the main area to help B out with another dead grassy area that he hates!
Backyard(1)The larger planter box we made was 8ft by 4ft and the smaller planter box was 4ft x 3ft, both 18 inches tall. We used 2×4’s for the posts and then used pressure treated wood for the exterior sides and stained them for extra weathered protection. We cut all of the wood and I stained it while B worked on getting the holes dug for the support beams.

Project Supply List:
– (3) 2x4x10ft posts
– A mix of 1x6x10ft and 1x6x12ft pressure treated wood
Thompson’s WaterSeal Stain & Foam Brush
– Post Hole Digger
– Quick Concrete Mix
Metal Edging
– 2.5-3 cu.yd of Top Soil
– 24 bags of Pea Gravel
– Plants of your choice

Digging the holes for the support post beams was tough, as we were working around roots, we tried to get 2ft deep, but sometimes we couldn’t. Luckily we also used quick concrete mix to help support the beams and keep them in place. We even lined up our cut boards for the first lower box level to make sure we were lining up the posts and box properly and ensure everything was level — this really helped and allowed us to have a good base to work up from once the support beams were secure in the concrete.
Backyard(2)Once we got the boxes in place, we felt super accomplished and add top pieces to help finish them off! From there we ended up lining the insides with a weed barrier landscape fabric to keep the dirt in. Next up, we just needed to order the dirt! The last piece beyond the dirt that needed to be figured out was trying to find some sort of treatment for in between the boxes around the trees. We talked about adding some edging to help break it up, but upon further research and inspiration, we opted to create a space sweeping around the boxes that we could fill in with the pea gravel. I found this metal edging that I just think has such a sharp look, we would be able to create a custom space to help complete this new area!
Backyard(8)
Backyard(3)Once we finished the edging off, it really brought this space to life and separated it from the rest of the yard — without taking away too much from our green space (which was a constant concern for me!). We got three yards of dirt delivered pretty quickly – for the record, we ordered way to much and could’ve gotten away with two and a half yards or so. We also got this delivered on one of those red hot July days, B busted his butt and filled the planters (not recommended). When we actually got to planting, we had to remove a lot of dirt so that was why we ordered too much! For the plants, we knew we wanted to get arborvitaes for the large planter box to add a bit more privacy, so we did our research and visited the nursery to pick out trees! We ended up buying a bit more expensive ones that were already 4+ft tall. We also kept going back and forth between getting two or three — we ended up choosing three knowing that we will need to trim and maintain them a bit more!
Backyard(5)For the smaller planter box we got a hydrangea – which I think I’m going to switch out for a Limelight version, like we have in our front yard. In a year or two the hydrangea bush will completely fill this box and will be a beautiful addition to the backyard!

Quick project cost breakdown: Arborvitaes & Hydrangea ($300), Pebbles & Dirt ($225), Wood & Stain ($140), Edging ($50) — Estimated project total: $715 

The plan for next year is to get a bunch of different sized terra-cotta pots and add more plants or veggies around the boxes on top of the pebbles to fill in the space more. You may also notice the large decorative fence (how-to blog coming up next!) that is covering that gross garage! Yes — we crafted that up and love how it helps finish the space.

Questions about this makeover? Leave a comment below!

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How to: Upgrade an Old Dresser

Almost four years ago, I updated our bedroom dressers to better fit the aesthetic of our bedroom.  The dressers were originally B’s – and they were a glossy black with old gold handles – they were just dated and super dark!  So in order to do a quick update we had sanded and spray painted the dressers and the knobs, in order to save some money by NOT replacing the knobs.  It was an easy half a day project with a huge upgrade, you can see the original before and after here.

…. Well it was time for another easy upgrade – this time a color upgrade AND hardware upgrade.  I found a 25-pack of knobs for $32 on Amazon – when you’re updating knobs, be sure to check how many holes your current knobs use (one or two), if there are two holes you’ll want to measure the space between and find knobs appropriately! Of course you can fill holes and drill new ones – but that is a whole other ball game. 🙂
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As I mentioned above, when I first made over these dressers, I went with the spray paint route – which I do love the magic of spray paint. But this time around I wanted to use paint for ease of application and clean-up!

Upgrade Step-by-Step:
(1) Buy your supplies: paint, sand paper, roller, brush, new knobs, paint tray, hand-held screwdriver
(2) Remove your old knobs
(3) Sand all the surfaces you’re planning on painting – just a light sand to rough up the surfaces works.  Knowing I had dark black under my light grey – I didn’t want to have to do 50-coats of white by revealing too much of the original color.
(4) Be sure to wipe down your surfaces after sanding to get rid of any access dust before you paint!
(5) Start painting!! You’ll want to do at least 2-3 coats depending on the original color you’re covering up – make sure your surfaces are dry between coats and use a brush to get are the roll places for every covered.
Pro-tip: You might want to add an additional coat onto the top of your dresser surface since this will be getting a bit more wear and tear. 
(6) Once you’ve painted and everything is dry and covered it’s time to get our dresser back into place and had your hardware with a handheld screwdriver!
(7) Stuff with clothes & decorate!
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For the color, white was a no brainer and the gold knobs were an easy way to modernize the dresser with an elevated touch.  I was able to get these dressers updated within a few hours – the weather helped being so nice that the layers of paint dried pretty quick, so I was able to keep it going with little breaks in between!

Since these aren’t in our bedroom anymore, this was just another way to update one of our spare rooms – and these are the dressers B uses everyday so they definitely get used and needed more sprucing. I’m pretty happy with how this turned out although I do wish the knobs were a little more centered on the drawer, but I was using the existing holes so I’m ok with it! Dresser Makeover - the bee life (4)
After it was all said and done, this dresser upgrade only cost $32 and some change between the new hardware and a paint tray – I used white paint I already had around! The upgrade with the white helps brighten the room and the knobs get rid of that dated feel and make these dressers feel new and modern!

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Easy Small Pantry Makeover

Being cooped up with the cold weather, I’ve been slowly working through the house and either deep cleaning or organizing and cleaning stuff out.  And one space that is neglected but highly needed and functional is our kitchen pantry! We already have a tiny kitchen with not a lot of storage so making sure this space is utilized and fully functional has been on the to-do list.
diy - small pantry makeover
I was inspired to organize the space, but as I was thinking about that I thought – what if I paint it? Which then spiraled into, oh! I have some left over wallpaper – so this turned into a mini-makeover that I did in a few hours. Our pantry was a place where we just threw stuff – probably because it helped cover the old and ugly, hence not being the most functional.

Tips for Organizing Your Pantry:

  1. Expiration Dates.  I know I’m not the only one that had a few pantry items that were expired – these are easy items to toss, especially if you’ve just been holding onto them – but not actually using them.  Even if things aren’t expired – clean up those straggler bags with the crumbs in them!
  2. Consolidated. This is crucial when you have a smaller space – I had multiple bags of confectionary sugar – so combining those into a container quickly gained space.
  3. Get Creative. Even though this is your pantry, have a little fun with the space! It would’ve been easy to paint it white and use generic shelving liners – but if you have some wallpaper consider using it for the shelf liners or the wall backs!
  4. Get Storage Containers/Shelves.  Luckily I had shelves that were white and useful in our odd space – so I just made a list as I was cleaning out my pantry of things I needed baskets or containers for.  In between coats of paint I made a Marshall’s run and was able to stock up on some containers to dried goods and clear trays for spices and such! I would’ve preferred all white lids, but since this was a bit impromptu – I bought what was in stock! I’m sure I’ll upgrade eventually.
  5. Organize By Food Group. I tried to think through the layout and organization by food group/pairings – for example – all of my baking ingredients on one shelf, spices and other cooking supplies consolidated together, etc.

8For our pantry makeover – I ended up painting the entire inside, this is one of the few spaces that lingering green from the previous owners – and although I’m a fan of some color, I love what white paint does to a space, especially a small one!  Since this space is not the greatest constructed – I didn’t want to mess around too much so I stuck with aesthetics and just updated the existing layout & pieces.  Here is the evolution off the de-greening. 9
I ended up taking the shelves out and gave them a good scrapping to get off the old wooden shelf liners.  They were so gross, not to mention hiding a few layers of other stickers underneath! So it was good to give it a good clean and fresh couple coats of paint. I had leftover wallpaper from my Skinny Dresser Upcycle – which I initially wanted to use this on the backs, but luckily decided to go the easier route with using it to line the shelves, which worked out because I wouldn’t have had enough! Plus I love the subtle pop of color and pattern that it adds to the shelves with the white backdrop.

67The other benefit of cleaning up the pantry was I ended up organizing and consolidating some things like our tin-foil, plastic wrap and sandwich bags into a hanger on the pantry door which basically freed up an entire drawer in our kitchen! So the organizing, consolidating and purging spread out beyond the pantry which actually gave us room for things. With using up leftover paint we had, and buying some organizers and the leftover wallpaper I spent about $60 for a small thing of paint and 10-different organizers.  I’m unsure about adding labels, so I may still add a few more fun and functional finishing touches.

Beyond this space looking pretty awesome and making such a difference – it feels good to have this space cleaned up, organized and efficient.  Plus it was an easy weekend DIY with a HUGE impact, although I’m sure I’ll rearrange it like 20-more times. Yay, for easy makeovers!

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Shiplap Wall Inspiration

Mini-spoiler, we’re working on our own shiplap/wooden plank wall for our Basement Makeover. Since it’s just for our basement and we’re going for the unfinished-finished look, we wanted to keep it simple and not spend too much money.  With that said, when I started looking into DIY’s on the different options of how we could accomplish our shiplap wall, I was overwhelmed at the options and price variations.
Shiplap Wall Inspiration - bee life blog
So if you’re like me and researching the many options of how to shiplap your space,  here are some things to consider while you plan your own DIY.  Take into consideration the overall look, how you’re finishing the rest of the space and how much effort you want to put into this project!

Straight vs. Alternating Boards. The way you decide to finish the space is something to think about! Whether you’re going for a straight across board look or mix and match sizes they’re two completely different looks, especially depending on how you finished them and how much you’re shiplapping.

Pre-finished Wood.  This seemed like the path of least resistance, although the price point and the amount of pre-finished wood we would need with this option added up quick. Although from a low maintenance perspective these options like this Home Depot’s Nantucket Gray Poplar Weathered boards or this kit from Lowe’s of White Barnwood Shiplap Plank Wall kit are great options.

Painted vs. Stained. Depending on how you’re placing your boards – straight or alternating, this may determine the way you want to finish the look!  Also thinking whether you want something painted or stained may affect the pattern you decide.  We decided to go the stain route, because it’s easier and we ended up painting way more than we expected with other projects.  Plus, I think the stain look with bring in a nice place with some of the other unfinished elements.

Type of Wood.  Determining the type of wood you want to use, can also affect your cost and overall look.  Whether it’s plywood, finished wood, actual barn wood, or the pre-finished wood mentioned above.  We ended up going the maple-wood plywood route loosely inspired by this DIY tutorial by Angela Marie Made.

I’m looking forward to sharing more details on our Shiplap Statement Wall DIY in the coming weeks – we are definitely excited to see how it turns out and think it’ll be the right amount of finish for our unfinished basement.  View more shiplap wall inspiration here!

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Image Sources: Half Stained Image | Straight plank with wreath | White plank bathroom 

 

Planning My Dream Living Room

My house is a constant work in progress. With my ever-so-changing ways, I’m always looking for new ideas to improve and fine tune each room using different color paints and pieces of furniture. For me, there is one room in particular that would require a larger makeover, our living room – mainly because of the layout. Don’t get me wrong, I love our current furniture, our century home built-in’s and calming color pallet. But you can always dream of better things!Living Room Inspiration - the bee lifeSources: Top Left || Top Right || Bottom Left || Bottom Right

When thinking of pulling my dream living room space together in our current house, I would first and foremost need a completely different floor plan.  Our living room is long and narrow, with two openings along the one side so it makes for limited layout options, so in order to have my dream living space, here are the 6-qualifiers that would help make my dream living room a reality;

  1. Flexible Layout: I love to rearrange furniture, so having options to move larger pieces into different spaces is key for me.  I would also love the option to be able to have multiple areas within the space, for example a more intimate/formal seating area behind the larger living space.
  2. Neutral Bases & Pops of Color: When designing a room I like to start with big, neutral pieces; like this amazing sectional I found on Arhaus (see below). These types of pieces are the perfect starting point to build from. From there I like adding in pops of color with accent pillows, rugs or lamps, because these can always be switched out!  My go-to colors are navy’s and white’s with hints pink or yellow to really highlight the neutrals.
  3. Comfy & Cozy: Since my fiance is 6’6″ finding a couch that is wide is important, this also makes for cozy family snuggles including the pup! To finish this feel, extra large and easy to grab blankets or pillows (you can never have too many pillows), in nearby baskets are a must.
  4. A Statement Piece: Like an awesome chair, a bold ottoman, or a show stopping mirror will help create a secondary focal point in the room.  This could also be accomplished by dressing up the fireplace/mantle area with those pops of color or bold accessories.
  5. Metallics & Texture:  Again, this is where the accessories come into play, whether it’s a fuzzy blanket or a fun metallic pillow, lamp, or picture frames, adding these different textures to the room creates depth and movement. And a little bit of glam.
  6. Family Photos: This is the finishing touch and a must in my book. Adding vintage and current family photos keeps loved ones close, while adding an element of history plus it’s a great conversation starter with guests. Pull this look off with a great symmetrical gallery wall or lined table or mantle filled with gold or silver frames.

Living Room Inspiration (2) - the bee lifeShop the Look: Arhaus Outerbanks Sectional, Faux Fur Throw, Arhaus Amelie Mirror, Target Deniz Side Table, Gold Frame 1, Gold Frame 2, Arhaus Velvet Pillow

My dream space would be traditional and classic, with a little bit of glam mixed in.  It would still be practical and livable, it would be inviting and cozy for friends and family to enjoy.  It would be big with lots of windows and a killer fireplace. My dream living room space would be a lot of things with killer unique and functional pieces.

Share your dream living room must-have’s in the comments below! Looking for more inspiration? Check out these other luxury living room selections from Arhaus for your dream living room!

House Tour – Backyard Patio

If you’ve been reading along, you may have gotten hints of our latest home project/renovation… our backyard patio!  This project was 100% a want on B’s end, and maybe about a 55% want on my end.  Sure I’ve wanted and dreamed about a backyard patio in our blank slate of a yard, but we’ve gone this long, so why not wait some more? But once B started getting quotes and kept moving the project forward, I jumped on board and helped from an aesthetic perspective to help pull it all together and finish it off.

The space we picked is off the back of the house, and connects seamlessly to the driveway for a universal flow for expanded living space. We’ve got plans for the house in a few of these areas so we designed with that in mind. Last summer we were looking into doing a square paver patio, but after numerous chats with family/contractors, it didn’t seem like it’d last for the price we’d have to pay. Plus it was WAY more than we were expecting at the time.  So we started exploring stamped concrete this time around figuring out textures and colors we liked.   It all came together just how we envisioned it!
House Tour - Patio(7) - the bee life

Since we only had one piece of furniture, the dining table a hand-me-down from B’s aunt & uncle (2-years ago!), we went shopping for some pieces.  We had our eye on black iron chairs that matched the table pretty well and found a similar base for the umbrella, so we were able to use the table. The dining space works out perfectly and we’ve already had a few dinners out on the patio.  The conversation set was a find that I fell in love with thanks to Emily Henderson, but luckily we were able to take advantage of some Memorial Day sales and got a great price on everything!

The last finishing touch that really pulls the space together (besides the super comfortable wide chairs – that I am OBSESSED with) are the bistro lights!  I’d bought almost half of the lights we needed when they were on sale last season for a steal of $8 each compared to $24.99 *WOW* – moral of the story, always buy more than you think you’ll need, especially if they’re $8 and you don’t have a use for them at the time!

We’ve spent so much time outside in these last few weeks now that we have this additional living space.  It was definitely worth it and I’m glad B pushed for this, because we love how it turned out and having another space to entertain in!

// Want the look?
Dining Chairs; Lowes || Outdoor Fire Pit; Lowes || Table Umbrella; Target || Umbrella Base; Target || Bistro Lights; Target || Conversation Set & Chairs; Target 

DIY – Side Entry Tile

Our latest home project was tiling our side entry and the stairs that lead up to the kitchen area.  When we first moved in, the space was drab with gross stick-on tile with wood panels and layers of wallpaper.  Well our quick fix was an easy paint job and removing the wallpaper and floor.  We painted the revealed wood floor white and added some grips on the stairs – but as you can imagine white floors for an entry is not the cleanest or the prettiest. So, like I said, it was a quick fix in need of more help.

So it was Bentley’s idea to finish this space and add tile to the landing and to the stairs. This was the first time we tiled a space, so it was a little daunting at first figuring out what we needed, what tile we wanted, and when we would be able to do this.  The biggest piece that helped save us and this project, was being able to borrow my Dad’s wet saw to cut the tiles. B and I split up tasks, he would cut the tile and I would lay the tile!

The stairs went surprisingly well, but because we used large tiles there was a lot of cuts involved, although less pieces. I’m not sure if the stone we picked was the most cost effective (actually I am fairly confident it wasn’t) but we were going mainly off of aesthetic. Once we got to the platform it was very messy and hard to maneuver in the tight space without stepping on the tile! But we finished with only three trips to the hardware store once we got started. *smiles*

We waited the appropriate amount of time and then some before B finished the space with the grout and once that was dried he added some trim work. We finished off the space with a new storage piece to hide shoes and we were wrapped up!  It was fairly easy project once we got going, and we definitely feel like we’re tiling pros now.  This space has been instantly upgraded, it’s more durable, weather resistant and easier to clean up. We love how it turned out!!

Guest Bedroom – Reveal

It’s Friday! And I’m happy to share our latest and first little home makeover of the year, one of our guest bedrooms. The reason we did an impromptu makeover is because this room always felt like it was an after thought and just thrown together. It was a combination of my first apartment furniture; a dark brown book case and TV stand, and brown curtains – mainly because we had them so we made it work. The color of the room was yellow, we had kept it the same as when we moved in to keep it simple, but it was really bright! This is also the most used guest room, so it just made sense to give it more love.
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Instead of buying all new furniture, although I was tempted, we ended up, updating old pieces and buying a few new key pieces. We updated the book case and TV stand with some white spray paint and added some legs to the TV stand (B’s awesome idea) in order to raise it off the ground a bit.  And if your an avid Bee reader, the night stand might look a bit familiar – yes I redid it again, this time with some fun colors and new handles! I am a bit obsessed. We also painted up an old window and found a fun green wreath to create some rustic wall art.

New pieces include the curtains (LOVE!), the bedspread, the hanging light and the rug (which will probably be replaced again) and a few new picture frames and little accessories around the room. I am sure there will be some more accent pillows and blankets added to keep the space cozy and colorful.

I love the updates we’ve made, the wall color feels more calm and relaxing, and it’s fun to add some pops of color. I’ve always been a fan of color, but finally found a way to do it in a mature way and not childish. I also feel like the space feels so much bigger with the update of the white furniture. Can’t wait for some friends and family to enjoy the space this year! We will definitely be having a lot of guests ❤

Shout out to my little peanut for posing and being a good sport in all my pictures!