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Interior: The Plan

I love the saying, “You don’t plan to fail.  You fail to plan.”  When it comes to renovating a whole house that’s over 3,000 sq ft, planning is even more crucial. When we first visited the house, I immediately went home and sketched out the existing floor plan, then started manipulating the floor plan to see where we could change things in order to create the kind of living space best suited to our family.  Once I was happy with how to alter the space, I used a free online room planner, in order to make a cleaner version.  I then handed over my plans to our architect so that she could draft out a professional version that we could submit for permits.

Here are what my floorplans for Before & After looked like, so that you can get a clearer idea of how the house flows and the spaces relate to each other.

Upper Level - Before

Upper Level - After

On this floor the big changes happened in the master suite.  We doubled the size of our master bedroom and bathroom so we could achieve this:

Elegant Master Bedroom

This also meant we lost our fourth bedroom.

Main Level - Before

Main Level - After

The main level saw a lot of action.  This is the floor where we took down several walls to really create an modern open floor plan.  To see the panoramic view of what the space looked like once we took down the walls go here.  We also, opened up the kitchen and closed up window and created an inviting living room.

Vintage Modern Living Room Before and After

But since our kids are still young we converted the sunroom to a playroom.

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Eventually, when we don’t need to keep a close eye on the boys we will change the room back to grown up space.  But for now it suits our needs well.  Though containing the toys is a daily battle.

Lower Level - Before

Lower Level - After

The lower level was completely the opposite. It was already open. In fact it was too open because it had been a dance studio. To see it in its full original glory, go here. Instead we carved out a bedroom suite complete with bathroom and walk in closet for my mother who lives with us. Hello fourth bedroom!  Way better than the original fourth bedroom, plus we still have a HUGE family room and unexpectedly gained a mini-gym, while converting the changing rooms into a lovely home office.

Black and White Office Remodel 2

I love it when a plan comes together.

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Before & After: A Vintage + Modern Living Room Reveal

If you follow me on Instagram you know that this Before & After Reveal has been a long time coming.  For the better part of the last year the living room has been done, but not quite done. Finally, it’s “done done” and I’m happy to share the transformation with you. In these Before & After shots you get to see how much the space has changed. Removing all the wood paneling was the biggest change, because while the house always got great light, the paneling just sucked up all the light and made the space feel so much darker. Maybe they were going for a Mad Men-esque cocktail lounge vibe, but for us we wanted the space to be bright and welcoming, while feeling layered and lived.

Modern Vintage Living Room Remodel

The sideboard/bar was the missing link and only just came together after my incredibly lucky trip to a local estate sale where I scored so many Vintage Finds. The sideboard bar and artichoke lamp are what you see immediately upon entering the house, so I wanted it to be a space that made an immediate impact.

Living Room _ 09 copy

Before finding these key pieces, that space was just a catch all, which I hated. Now the bar connects the living room and dining room seamlessly, and making the living room feel more expansive without actually using more space.

Modern Vintage Living Room Remodel

The only splurge in this space was the sofa which is covered in a super soft and luxurious grey/silver velvet. (I was tempted by the Belgian Linen, but since we have a cat, the texture of the linen would have been an invitation to scratch).  The sofa is a splurge because it’s also a super comfortable sofa bed with memory foam mattress.  Since we opted not to have a guest room in favor of having an office  the compromise was making sure the sofa bed was comfortable.  We’ve all slept in those sofa beds with super thin mattresses and coils poking in your back.  This is NOT that kind of sofa bed.

Modern Vintage Living Room RemodelNotice something that is the same? Yep, we kept the piano. Hubby is a super talented musician. It was his dream to one day own a baby grand, so we made the piano a part of the house purchase. Often he’ll sit at the keys and unwind after work.

Living Room _ 28 copyLiving Room _ 07 copyNotice the curved loveseat from my recent Vintage Finds also made it into the living room.  The boys love it and often somersault over it. Often though, you can find Big Boy comfortably nestled in it, playing Minecraft on the iPad.

Living Room _ 14 copy

But I think what brings the space to life, is all the little details, from the artwork, to the vintage colored glass I’ve collected over the years. Slowly, everything is finding its place.  And, while I love all my mid-century vintage finds, I didn’t want the space to feel like a time warp. I want the space to honor the past while embracing the present, so it was a balance.

Here are some more images for your viewing pleasure.  I think it was worth the wait.

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Key items in this room:

Payton Sofa bed - American Leather (I bought it during a 20% off sale)

Loveseat – Vintage

Side tables – Vintage Drexel

Coffee table – Vintage Drexel

Yellow Window Panels – Target (no longer available)

Curtain Rods – Home Decorators

Sideboard – Vintage Basic-Witz

Large Abstract Painting next to bar – Limited Edition print Crate & Barrel (no longer available)

Still Life Painting over mantel - Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi  Original

Faceted Mirror Sconces – West Elm

Yellow Lamp – Vintage with new lampshade

Artichoke Lamp – Vintage

Grey & Yellow Rug – Joss & Main



Sarah - Wow! This is quite a transformation. I love how you’ve made it look both vintage and modern at the same time. That yellow love seat and that light fixture are amazing!

isadorag - Thanks Sarah. What do you think of the fireplace? I added a thick walnut mantel, but am debating whether the brick should be au naturel, stained or painted.

francine - this makeover is incredible! y’all have done a amazing job!! :)

isadorag - Thanks Francine!

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Interior: Kitchen Breakdown

Luxe Ikea Kitchen

I recently had the honor of having our Ikea Kitchen remodel featured on House Tweaking.  It’s one of my favorite blogs, ever, and was recently voted one of the top DIY blogs by Domino magazine.  I can only dream of this little blog one day attaining that level of expertise. Dana’s readers seemed to like what I’ve done with our kitchen and a few asked if I could provided a cost breakdown.  When I was doing our kitchen remodel, I wasn’t budgeting per room since I was redoing the whole house in one go.  However, for the readers’ sake I’ve gone back and pulled together numbers that might be helpful.

Ikea cabinets                    $5,300

Quartz Countertop                $2,900

Marble Mosaic                    $525  ($10.50 sq/ft for 50 sq/ft)

Frigidaire 27″ Sink              $500

Hansgrohe Faucet                 $435

Industrial Globe Pendants   $387 ($129 ea, needed 3)

Hickory Hardware 5″ Pulls  $92 ($5.75ea, needed 16)

Hickory Hardware Knobs    $114 ($4.55ea, needed 25)

LG Dishwasher                    $650

LG Counter Depth Fridge       $2,800

Broan 36″ Canopy Hood         $640

Verona 36″ 5 Burner Range    $2,500

Frigidaire Microwave         $100

Installation                 $2,700

TOTAL                $19,643**

When I added up all these numbers for the first time I was actually quite proud that I managed to pull of the look of this kitchen for just under $20k.  I really stretched every dollar I could buying the kitchen cabinets and counters during Ikea’s famous kitchen sale (though we only benefitted from 15% off, rather than the 20% off they are giving away these days).  Plus I bought ALL the appliances during the post-Thanksgiving cyber Monday sale at AJ Madison.  The added bonus on the appliances was free shipping and no tax, which also saved us a bundle.

I didn’t think I would be able to break out the installation cost, but I found an email exchange where I quoted the bid amount to my Hubby. Mind you, a $2700 install does not include the demo, rough-ins and electrical work that were needed in order to get the space ready for a new kitchen. The number was just for the install, but the Ikea installers were WAY more.

Let me know what you think? Do you think I spent wisely?  I think that one of the biggest bangs I got for my buck was the marble mosaic backsplash.  While $10.50 sq/ft is not cheap, I did not need that many sq/ft and it makes a huge impact.  Also, I still have quite a few left over tiles, since you always buy a little bit more, just in case.  The kitchen really is the heart of the home.  It gets such heavy use, everyday, so when spending, I tried to be careful, not frugal as I want this to be a space we can enjoy for years to come.  Hope this helps other would be Ikea Kitchen remodelers out there.

**Note that numbers were rounded, also tax & shipping were not included for the purposes of this calculation, though in most cases I got free shipping.

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Inspiration: Rustic Retreat

Today was National Dream day, named in commemoration of MLK’s Dream Speech.  While I would love for the world to be a better place for our children to grow up in, my dreams are smaller in scale, more personal. I hope you’ll indulge me while I share my dream of the perfect family friendly rustic retreat.  It’s a place that I imagine our boys building memories in and a place that they could bring their kids to.  My dream rustic retreat looks like this:

1) Space for running around



2) A pool for warm summer days

infinity pool with a view


3) A great casual kitchen with open shelves

farmhouse kitchen


4) Bunk Beds for the kids

rustic bunk beds


5) A place to hang around

hanging chair


6) Alfresco dining area

alfresco dining


7) Simple, crisp master bedroom



8) A cool Dutch door

rustic dutch door


9) Lots of windows to let in the light

industrial factory windows black


10) A fire pit to enjoy the outdoors when the weather gets cooler

fire pit


Honestly, I don’t know how a city girl like me became so country.  But, this is my dream. What’s yours?


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Out and About: A Weekend Away

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You probably didn’t notice that there was no “Out and About” post for July. That’s simply because we actually didn’t manage to make time for each other.  With school out and kids to engage, it was harder to carve out time .

So, we made up for it with a weekend away in August.  Originally, I had thought we would go to Palm Springs.  It was our favorite, quick getaway destination when we lived in L.A. We like the weather, the midcentury design, the relaxed, hip vibe.  But it turns out that getting to Palm Springs from the Bay Area is not that easy or cheap.  So we decided that we needed to go somewhere else with a reasonable expectation of hot weather (the Bay Area is so cold in the summer) and easy to get to.

We ended up at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale AZ.  We wanted to stay somewhere nice since this was our first weekend away ALONE in four years.  The hotel was very nice, service was great and hubby and I got to do things we normally don’t do, such eat food without having to consider a little one’s palate, read a book, watch violent/suspenseful movies on TV, and of course, chill out by the pool and do nothing.  It was rejuvenating, though I will admit that for both nights I had a hard time falling asleep because I missed my boys so much.

Here are a few pics from our August date taken on my iPhone.

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