Category Archives: Home decor

our basement reno: the end

Yes- you did see the finished product in terms of construction in the last post, but now you get to see us all moved in and decorated.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy these BEFORE/AFTER photos.  I always love seeing things side by side so I tried to do the best I could.

This first photo is from the day we moved into our home…just wanted to show you where our basement entrance is (right past the stairwell).



We had the plain door replaced with a french door, which matches our playroom ones and gives the basement more of a homey feel.  So, without further ado…you open the door and…





This is the BEFORE/AFTER of when you turn the corner on the landing of the stairs to go down.  What was cement flooring and poles turned into carpeting and a wall.


main room2


Basically that black pole (and three others) were built into the new wall, essentially hiding them.  This room is the first one you see when you walk down into the basement- we use it as a family room.  Here is a look at the other side of this same room.




So, there was an alcove already in place, so instead of just have a weird shaped space in this main room, we added a built-in.  Next is the guest room…but first, a look at the family room from another angle…


guest room better


In order to give you a somewhat understandable vision for this BEFORE/AFTER the first photo is just showing the open space.  Second photo shows how it was enclosed (behind there is the guest room) and the third photo shows the finished family room from the other angle.

Then, if you open that door on the right, you’ll see this (the guest room):



Next is the full bath- which actually opens from the guest room on one side and the hallway on the other.  We wanted to give access to the bathroom on both sides so if multiple guests were staying with us it would be easy, plus it just made sense for our every day usage.  The first picture is from the guest room door.  Then, I moved to 2 BEFORE photos from the other end of the bathroom and added the AFTERS from that same angle.


better before.jpgbathroom



Ok.  So you’re probably lost in terms of where we are in the basement, but if it helps, the entire thing moves in a circle.  I already showed you what outside of one bathroom door, so I’ll take you out the other door.


But if you go to the end of this hallway and look back you would have seen this BEFORE…


And the AFTER, now it’s all covered up…


The right door is the bathroom and the left door is our storage and utilities.  Just for fun, here’s our storage area- which is L shaped and all the utilities are to the right.


Okay, now moving on.  Behind the hallway on one side is the stairwell but the other side is Bart’s office.  Here’s the BEFORE/AFTER.



Then right beside Bart’s office is my “office” heheh… but let’s return to the main room to go into that room.  This is not the same angle, but it’s the same area BEFORE/AFTER.



Under the stairs I asked for a little kid’s hideaway, instead of a closet, which turned out super cute and the kids love it.




Right across from this kid’s hideaway is my favorite room…my craft room/exercise room/extra guest room/someday-a-kids-bedroom.  This is also where we added a huge window (it has two mini ones also) and a closet, so this translates to a true bedroom according to laws and stuff.



Note the giant window addition…and those poles are now hidden in a wall.





Last but not least…my favorite feature of our basement is our built-in so I wanted to highlight it.  It’s back in the main room.  This was a dream of mine since I saw the odd shaped space in the beginning.  I wanted a special reading place for all of us, plus added guest bedding, and bookshelves for all my books and trinkets.  Someday there will be many more pillows…

before built in


I think that’s all for now.  Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll put a little information down below about our amazing professional crew of friends that made this basement a reality.  We are so so grateful for this new space, what a huge gift!


The Main Man/Contractor/Builder Extraordinaire:  Mike Taratuski Tarry Builders (NJ)   Our Favorite Crazy Electrician: Andrew Yerike  Integrity Electric   The Best Floor Guy Ever: Bill Taylor Taylor Flooring

Paint: all Benjamin Moore (most walls light gray: Bunny Gray) (two rooms yellow: Lancaster Whitewash) (stairwell and built-in dark blue: Newburyport Blue) (bathroom aqua: Palladian Blue)


add some christmas to your life

I keep trying to think of titles for this post…things like ‘ten random ways to decorate for christmas’ or ‘decor tips you have probably seen on pinterest’ or ‘why i love decorating for this holiday the best’.  But alas, no title seems very succinct.  I just figured since I love christmasifying my house so much, I would share what I do.  Of course, with the disclaimer that probably all of these ideas aren’t super original but perhaps you might find one i-never-thought-of-that idea among this randomness.  That would make me happy.  To be completely honest, these pictures don’t even cover the entire house…just most of one floor.  I will admit I am slightly addicted to Christmas prettiness.


One of the simplest tips I have is using fresh greenery. It makes a world of difference in centerpieces, shelves, vases, etc…


I just used some old sewing drawers and filled them with greens, pinecones, candles and random christmas bells…wala- christmas centerpiece.


Here’s the greens again… plus I love lights inside colored glass- sorry you can’t see it lit up but it’s cool. Also note the garland…


I made this a few weeks ago, out of strips of fabric tied on a string. Super easy.


i LOVE putting “scarves” on all my animal heads…this is just fabric, but I also use ribbon. And a plug for my sister the creator- the mastermind behind that beautiful hoop art.


Chalkboards. I know, super lame because they are EVERYWHERE. But seriously the simplest way to add seasonal decor to any room.


My trick…use fake wreaths. I found this for $5 and then added some real boxwood greens and magnolia leaves and then the 50 cent berries… I went a little crazy with the wreaths this year because well- french doors just beg for them.  Our front door has a real wreath tho which is my fav.


Speaking of the berries…I get a bunch of these at craft stores after Christmas when they are really cheap and then here I just added one strand to hanging decor that I didn’t want to change…but now it looks cheerier.  I get a little crazy about changing out most of my framed art to Christmas art but if you want to take a less obsessive route…just add greens or berries.


This is our playroom shelves…note the gold “pictures”…they are just canvases spray painted gold for a little extra visual prettiness. The painted tree on the right was a craft I did with Josiah and I do have a cute red and green handprint picture the boys did last year that’s fun.  It’s a fun way to give them a chance to help and add to your decor collection.  Then another chalkboard I copied bc I love Elf … and the big red plaid picture….


It’s wrapping paper!!! I just wrapped up a canvas, that sits on this shelf the rest of the year, with Target wrapping paper. It instantly gives everything a more christmas feel. I’ve also been known to frame wrapping paper- especially if it’s from Rifle Paper Co


I couldn’t resist adding a picture of my favorite new purchase this year…felt christmas lights for the playroom. 


Another “add beads” display…plus this is a good time to mention my favorite seasonal artist Lindsay Letters…that’s where this print is from! She has amazing stuff!  And the garland around the stairwell is cheap fake stuff from Target that i just added pinecones, berries and magnolia leaves (and lights of course) to bulk it up.   Garland is super expensive when you buy it already decorated…though someday when I’m grown up, I might splurge.  


Here’s another “scarf”…ribbon this time.


my mantle…definitely my favorite thing to do every year! A couple tips: mirrors are a great filler so it doesn’t look to busy… fresh greenery again ties it all together.  But my other favorite purchase this year is the fake greenery in the jar on the left- it’s from Magnolia Market and seriously looks so real and beautiful in person.   And no, I didn’t paint my mantle green just for christmas, even though my husband thinks I did.


Another Lindsay Letters beauty.


Bottle brush trees have my heart.


When in doubt…a vase of fresh or fake greens, tie a ribbon and add some berries. done.


Also something I do almost every year is shop for holiday stuff after the holiday is over. Seriously cheap stuff and then I just put it in my bins for the following year. This fake tree was my best find last year- and I am in love. It’s in my kitchen and makes me smile. Also this print, another you guessed it…lindsay letters.

some little peeks


the entry way…foyer…whatever you call it.


my mission to add color to white walls commenced with this painting.


i LOVE styling bookshelves. This one isn’t finished, still tweaking but it’s good enough for now.


part of the living room…


dining room hutch…the rest of this room is a disaster…but this was a project i was excited about. the seller left this piece for free so i played with it.


by the kitchen sink. the most looked at windowsill in my days


eat in kitchen area…the most used area besides the playroom.

a room to play in

I am really bad at finishing rooms.  It’s like- inspiration hits me and I go go go…whether it takes me a few hours, days or weeks…and then I hit a wall.  And I’m done.  But I’m not really finished.  I just can’t do another thing in that room for awhile.  Yet, I hate sharing photos of a room undone.  Alas.  This is probably the reason we have lived in our house for 2 months now and this is really the first photos I’m uploading.  This room is the most lived in of all- the playroom.  I love it to pieces!  It has gobs of natural light and very high ceilings and two big cushy chairs.  I LOVE IT.  Enjoy a few snapshots…DSC_0004 DSC_0005 DSC_0006 DSC_0024 DSC_0026 DSC_0027 DSC_0031 DSC_0032 DSC_0033 DSC_0034 DSC_0037 DSC_0040 DSC_0045

it’s a fresh fall

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and one random favorite…because I couldn’t resist.


beautiful or useful

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.     William Morris

So- I came across this quote a few years back and it has always made me think.  I don’t fully abide by the thought but I do believe it’s a good goal for me to aspire to.  When we moved from the midwest I got rid of tons of stuff- a lot of decor that I’d been hanging onto for a decade.  Then we lived in a furnished winter rental that did not require much unpacking so most of my stuff stayed in boxes.

This past month as I rediscovered all my belongings I was surprised how many times I thought- “eh, I don’t really like this anymore”.  Sheesh.  Had my style really changed that much in a year?  Or was simplicity getting the best of me?  I think my style is evolving for sure, but I think as I get older I am also understanding the value of really loving what surrounds me.  Plus I am realizing that I care less about what people think when they walk into my home which is nice- it’s for me (and my family).  And I will always care about what my home looks like- that’s just how I’m wired and I embrace it.

What I’ve been noticing as I put together this new space is that I really like when I look at something and it immediately invokes a smile.  I’m much more daring (well, compared to my past!)  in my combinations of wall art or shelf contents and it’s freeing.  At some point I want my house to be filled with only what I love; versus fillers that are just so-so.


sandcastles, bear hugs, whales and my boys…an odd combination but i love


the most beautiful book


I couldn’t bear to see this tea cup go into a cupboard…


i saw this written on a planter and decided to write it on my succulent pot…it makes me laugh bc I am sooo not a green thumb and am just hoping to keep these plants alive


one of my favorite antique finds…and i spray painted it gold..eek. It literally makes me smile every time I pass it.


a china cabinet left behind when we moved in…my first one 🙂


the kid’s kitchenette was the most fun to decorate


yes, that’s a toilet. I covered the sponge painted walls with brown kraft paper…we’ll see what happens

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spray paint is my friend

Last night I totally spray painted in the guest bedroom…the window was open and I put down a paint sheet.  Shh I didn’t tell Bart.  It’s been too cold to paint outside and I’ve been dying to spray this old “breakfast in bed tray” I found that I am repurposing as a mini art center for Jos.  And I totally copied my sister and bought the wire bins at the Target $1 section and spray painted them espresso brown.

Last week I painted Regan’s name on a piece of wood I found at the beach and this week I am doing Josiah’s initials on another piece of drift wood.  I have plans to make a drift wood fish…but I gotta get down to the shore line where the good wood scraps are.  The whole “rebuild the boardwalk” thing is putting a cramp in my beach combing style.

I am really in the painting mood.  I can tell because I walk around the house eyeing things up…thinking if they might look good in another color.  Danger.  I think my knife block should be a different color but I just can’t decide what’s a nice enough neutral- or perhaps I should throw caution to the wind and do it up in a bright yellow or flashy red…and hope that it’ll go with our next kitchen.

I would love an old ladder to paint…or a kid’s table…or maybe a bulletin board.  I totally have a bulletin board somewhere- in a box…oh the boxes.  I can’t wait to unpack.  I am praying for a two year rental, at least.

It’s time.  A second coat can be applied.  Later.