Renovation Tips and Tricks

Dear readers, I’ve got houses on the brain. This past weekend I got a sneak peek at Sous Chef Lauren’s new (and newly decorated) house, and we’re almost to the finish line of our basement renovation here at La Moneda. Wooden Nickels asked if I think I’m finished making big changes at our house for a little while, and while there is something my husband and I want to do to this place in the long run, it’s not likely to happen until preschool tuition payments are a thing of the past. Just gives me more time to plan and save and dream. If you’re thinking of renovating, dear readers, I strongly encourage you to do it. Here are my words of wisdom, even though you didn’t ask.



Bite the bullet: If you’re thinking of an improvement, big or small, and you have the funds to make it happen, do it! There isn’t going to be a convenient time, and you might have to live with your in-laws for a year, and the front door slamming open and closed 85 times a day might cut nap time short once or twice, but do it anyway. If you have a vision, or an idea you stole from Pinterest or HGTV, and you’re excited about it, make it happen!



(Even if you won’t be in your house forever): As I said above, there are always reasons not to make a big change to your house, and it not being your “forever house,” is certainly at the top of the list. But a couple of thoughts on that. One, I can’t tell you how many people in my very own neighborhood have told me, “We thought we wouldn’t be here for so long, but…….” insert any number of job/school/life-related reasons here. We all think we know where we’ll settle down and sometimes life happens and we end up somewhere else. And also, your happiness is worth it. If there is something you want to do to change a space, and it will bring you happiness to see it completed, you should do it. Even if you’re only in that space for six months, or a year, or five years, if seeing a change would make you remarkably happier, make the change.



Work with someone you love: We’ve always been happier with our renovations when we’ve had a great relationship with our contractor. The man who was in charge of our first big addition had a great sense of humor, and we loved chatting with him. I baked him chocolate chip cookies when he was working in the snow, and never felt silly asking him questions or sharing things I was worried about. Similarly, one of his subcontractors still does handyman work for us because we love him just as much. When we were planning our kitchen, we had two estimates, and though we loved the woman behind one of them, we ended up going with someone who gave us a lower quote. Dear readers, one of my biggest regrets in life is not going with the pricier kitchen company, because we got what we paid for when it came to customer service on that less expensive quote. I wish we had spent more (it’s wasn’t like it would have doubled the cost), and gone with the person behind the steeper numbers.

guest room.


Have patience: It’s not news that no matter how much you love your contractor, the renovation process will take longer than he or she lets on in the beginning. But patience remains important as you fill whatever space you’ve just designed. What we’ve found, being in what we are almost certain is our forever home, is that when you’ve designed a space exactly how you want it, you’ve got to show some judgement when it comes to filling the space. When I was in an apartment, and when we owned our first home (aw, #tbt to Casa Glass of Milk), there were times we bought things on the cheap, to fill a need quickly. Those things do not have a place in the forever house, at least not parts of it that are renovated exactly how you want. I’d rather live with a light bulb hanging from the wall until we find the perfect fixture, than slap something up quickly, and let it be just okay for way too long.

La Moneda, an Update

Dear readers, we have owned La Moneda for three years now, and lived in it for two of them. Let’s do a little #tbt here. This is where we started.



Since then, we’ve made upgrades both big and small, our first being, of course, to almost double the size of the house. Before too much longer, we’ll even have a finished basement! It is the most exciting feeling to think that almost all of the major interior renovations we wanted to do have been done.


And it has sent me into overdrive when it comes to the idea of “finishing” the house. I’m so glad Gooplet has gone from being a newborn, to a super-curious toddler in that time, because it’s changed my vision for our space completely.


By completely, I mean my vision now includes more colors than simply blue and white.

front hall.

I love seeing Design Mom’s “Living with Kids” series, and even more, I love reading the homeowners’ takes on their spaces. While ogling this one the other day, I thought a lot about a question I’m pretty sure Gabby asks with every feature, “What do you want your kids to remember about growing up here?” I hadn’t given it a moment’s thought because I’m not a fancy blogger whose home would be featured on Design Mom.


But then I realized I should absolutely give it thought before I take one more step toward “finishing” this house.


So far, I can tell you for sure that we don’t have designated spaces just for kids or grown ups. Gooplet doesn’t get his own playroom, my husband doesn’t have a man cave, and that craft room I’ve always dreamed of isn’t happening either. That’s not a choice I would have expected to make, but let’s be honest, parenting has thrown me for enough loops that I’m already over it. I want my kids (well, my kid) to remember that home is where we are together.

What about you dear readers? If you have kids, how do you want them to remember their home?

(Clicking on the pictures will take you to their sources.)


The Cutest Prints

I found this Etsy shop while browsing Pinterest the other day, and dear readers, I’m smitten.

The prints are ones you download and print at home, which means the price is absolutely unbeatable.

When my son was born, I put together a collection of illustrations from children’s books for a small gallery of frames in his room. But I think it’s time to replace them with some trucks and trains.



A friend came over once, and noticed I had a lot of “things that say things” on my walls. She is 100% correct. I love words, and surrounding myself with especially good ones is a habit of mine. I was mindlessly scrolling the internet this past weekend, and finally bit the bullet and purchased this piece.


I’ve been wanting something for the exposed brick wall in the kitchen/living area of our house, and this is exactly the right size and sentiment. Can’t wait for it to get here.

ps, Here’s some more of what’s on our walls from earlier this year, when I challenged myself to get some art with pictures instead of just words and mostly succeeded.

To the Window, to the Wall

Yep. I went there. And I did what Gretchen Rubin told me to do in The Happiness Project and I indulged in a modest splurge.

PB Teen Katie Daisy "Sunshine + Salt Water" Watercolor Surf Art at... ($129) ❤ liked on Polyvore featuring home, home decor, wall art, multi, sea home decor, sun wall art, wood wall art, surf home decor and wooden wall art:

My absolute most favorite tip to give anyone trying to make a house a home is to put art or photos on the walls.

"How about Jupiter?" - Limited Edition Art Print by Maja Cunningham in beautiful frame options and a variety of sizes.

You could be living in a sea of milk crate furniture and those damned IKEA pegs that help you line up shelves, or you could be dreaming of the zillion dollar curtains you’ll have some day on your naked windows, but if you can pull it together enough to hang art, things will start to feel homier.

mother embrace by Kate Ahn at

The beginning of June marks 2 years since we moved into our house. 2 years! And funny enough, we’ve just made a couple of changes to the layout in terms of where we want furniture and how best to use our space.

Wanna know where we got something, or what paint color we have on the walls? Browse each room in our house with shoppable links to get the look yourself.:

Mid-summertime Limited Edition Art Print by Emily Jeffords | Minted 30" x 40" $325.:

So I’m looking at our first floor with fresh eyes, and stalking the mailbox every day to see these pieces arrive. I’ve got a couple more personal items on the way from Framebridge, and then I’ll bust out my hammer.

Flamingos – Signed Acrylic Painting Print by CatCoq. Artwork Printed on 8.5"x11" High-Quality Archival Paper. Tropical Flamingo Wall Art

*Clicking on these items should take you right to the sources.

Home Improvements

As of today, we have lived in La Moneda for a year!  A year!  Though it will have been “finished” for a year in July.  But is a home ever really finished?  The warm weather has me re-energized when it comes to getting this place to look like I want.  Here are some of my more recent finds.

wetherly duvet.:

When the Pottery Barn catalog arrived with this on the cover, bam, click, purchased.  Not just that day, that minute.  It didn’t hurt that it was on sale.  We have a patterned carpet in our room, and a big, splashy, floral print, but we’re going big or going home with florals, because I love this duvet.  (Wooden Nickels, allow me to spare you the comment about how you don’t do duvets.  I know you don’t do duvets.)

eating outside.:


Oh my gosh, the porch.  All I want is an inviting outdoor space where I can hang out with friends for hours.  The (Not So) New Girl and I made it happen on a recent Thursday afternoon.  But things aren’t exactly the way we want them just yet.  On the list of things to improve are a patio, grill, seating area, and twinkle lights.  We made that last one happen this long weekend, and have big plans for the others by the end of summer.*

Chip and Joanna Gaines of the HGTV show "Fixer Upper" have launched a new line of furniture, Magnolia Home, manufactured by Standard Furniture in Alabama. Their hit TV show is based in Waco and surrounding Central Texas towns. Photo: Magnolia Home Furnishings


Ah, the dining room.  We have my husband’s dining set from his bachelor days, and dear readers, the only things that table held were some unopened boxes from IKEA.  And yet, here we still are, 10 years later, eating off that table and using the chairs.  They represent a fateful trip to Crate and Barrel in which we learned that I choose furniture differently from others.  Joanna Gaines has some gorgeous looking pieces I’m coveting when the time and budget are right.

my dream.:

(source–and really, are you kidding me???)

And last, but definitely not least come built-ins.  I have dreams of built-ins everywhere in our house to hold my ever-expanding book collection.  Anyone know of a cheap builder?

*Side note, I am obsessed with this porch-themed stuff from Swoozies.


What I’m Reading

I fell in love with a centerpiece idea I saw on A Beautiful Mess last week.

le pain

It shouldn’t have surprised me to see it there.  After all, these are the girls who dreamed up the guest room cart.

Elsie suggested having a tray full of breakfast carbs along with lots of butter and jam options, and setting it out for weekend guests on those mornings when cooking a big breakfast isn’t on the agenda.  This idea came at exactly the right moment.  I saw it after I had finished eating dinner with AGOMYR at Le Pain Quotidien.  We love splitting a baguette (or two, in this case) and slathering it with their jams and chocolate spreads.  On this particular visit, I realized a combination of the dark chocolate spread with berry jam on top would be to die for.  AGOMYR one-upped me by laying the dark chocolate on first, and topping it with sea salt.  If this combination is such a beloved dinner favorite, why wouldn’t it would just as well at breakfast?  Who wants to sign up for our guest room next?

It’s Beginning

To look a lot….

You know!

Like Christmas.

And on Black Friday, I’m okay with it.

If you can humor me, I have one more home-related post this week.

Because it’s time to decorate.

I don’t go overboard for Christmas.  Nothing like these people, for whom I have the utmost respect, but perhaps not the same amount of time as.  I’d rather be baking cookies.

However, I do deck the halls with little touches here and there.

Getting ready always starts with Christmas sheets.  I firmly believe everyone needs a set.  You think I’m kidding, but these sheets are important.  They’re a teeny little touch that you’ll see every single morning and every single night.  They’re just plain happy, and they’re just for a month, which is not long enough to get sick of them.  Mine are from Pottery Barn, but aren’t sold anymore.  These in stem green are similar, and Garnet Hill has some fabulous flannel options as well.

If you’re sleeping in new sheets each night, you’d best be prepared with Christmas pajamas as well.  I picked up this pair from the JCrew outlet over the weekend, and couldn’t be happier with them.

They make me want to curl up with my favorite holiday movies and a mug of peppermint hot chocolate.

Once your bedroom is ready to go, head to Target and splurge on some melamine dinnerware.

Sometimes when the holidays hit, you’re completely overwhelmed with work appointments, life appointments, and putting together holiday cookie bags for all of your friends and neighbors.  Getting dinner on the table every night doesn’t hold the same thrill that it does the other eleven months of the year, and you need a little extra something special to keep you motivated.  Short of sprinkling glitter all over the table, I can’t think of anything better.

And that, dear readers, is it.  Of course we’re headed to town for a tree tomorrow, and the stockings will be hung by our chimney with care, but that’s where we stop.  The trick with Christmas decorations is, contrary to popular belief, not to go overboard.  Put little touches in places where they’re least expected, and let them keep surprising you.

*A note – in order to keep the holidays sacred, and to ensure you never tire of your decor, these must, absolutely must, be taken down no later than January 2.