Monday, July 16, 2018

Our Laundry Room/Mudroom Remodel Reveal!

(Click here to shop everything in this image!)

As most of you know, we lived in a rented townhouse for a long time before we finally bought our first home (a home for which we searched for several years) this January. It was such a long process to get here, and there isn't a day that passes where I don't feel immensely grateful to be living in a home of our own. That said, we knew as soon as we put an offer in that we would need to remodel the majority of the house over time. Our first step was to put in a patio so our family could enjoy our backyard this summer. Our second step (and first room to tackle inside) was to remodel our laundry room into a functional, beautiful space. We teamed up with our favorite brand for home improvement, Lowe's, and designed and built an entirely new laundry and mudroom - for less than $5,000 and in less than 3 weeks. I am absolutely thrilled to share this space, and how we did it, with you today! (Note: Scroll down to the bottom of the post for a complete lists of products and tools we used, with links.)

You can see from these before photos that the original laundry room severely lacked storage (stay tuned for a more specific post on the storage aspect of the space and how we came up with solutions for it). There also wasn't anywhere for us to fold laundry, so we were dragging loads upstairs to fold on our bed. (Which - let's be real - often resulted in balls of wrinkled clothing that got repeatedly pushed to the bottom of the to do list.) The space also didn't have the essentials to make it a mudroom, something that we felt was important to our home. Because we enter our house through the garage, we needed a bench or some sort of area for the kids (and us, and guests) to take off their shoes, and proper storage for the shoes. We decided that in order to really transform the room into what we needed, we should strip it completely and start from scratch.

The first thing Robbie and I did was sit down and put together some mood boards and (admittedly very amateur, but still useful) renderings of a new design for the space. I am the visual/artistic person in our relationship, and Robbie is the practical/numbers person. So I created a color scheme (black, white, gray, and wood, with pops of deep red) and sketched out design ideas, and Robbie determined placements and measurements. We also made a list of the things we would need to do in order to make the space best suited for our family: replace the old linoleum floor with durable tiles, build a counter for folding, build a bench with an area for storage, add two rows of cabinets for storage, add shelves for storage and visual appeal, paint the room a darker color, replace the light fixture, replace the old washer and dryer with newer models that actually worked (!), and add accessories that would allow the space to be more inviting as we entered our home.

Once we had a specific plan for the room, it was time to head to Lowe's and to shop for all of the necessary products and tools. This was one of the most fun parts of the project for me. Getting to take my mood boards and sketches and make them a reality by finding the exact items we needed to bring the space to life was the best! It was slightly daunting too - many of the DIY projects we'd be tackling were completely new to us (neither of us had ever installed tile or built counters or benches), and we needed to keep the entire project within a budget of $5,000 - so I was nervous that I'd get the wrong tools or materials. In the end, we were able to complete it within budget, and because we literally did everything ourselves, we learned so much along the way that we'll be able to put to use for future home projects.

Next up was demo day! Okay, so we didn't really demo anything. But we did remove the old washer and dryer, take down the current wire shelving that was on the wall, remove the current coat rack, and pull up the linoleum floor. Once everything was out and the space was clean, we were ready to get started.

Robbie was only off the road with the band for two and a half weeks, so we were motivated to dive right in. We did the majority of the work at night after the kids went to bed, and although that meant lots of 3 AM bed times, it's proof that even without a lot of free time, a remodel like this can be done fairly quickly with the right products and tools.

Our first project was the most involved: laying the tile. I wish I could take credit for this portion of the remodeling, but it was Robbie who did all of the work. I won't write a novel explaining the entire process of how he did it (you can check out a great tutorial on how to install tile right here), but I will share the products and tools he used to make it happen. My favorite part of the tile portion, obviously, was choosing the tile itself. I initially wanted a patterned tile, but then I saw this Style Selection Mitte Gray Porcelain Tile at Lowe's and fell in love. I knew we were painting the walls black which would be striking itself, and I thought the texture and colors of these gorgeous tiles would perfectly complement it. I chose a light colored grout to go with it, but then after considering the fact that it's a high traffic area, changed to a charcoal gray grout instead. (And I'm so glad I did; I am smitten with the way it looks.) From start to finish, everything (from cutting the trim around the door and floor to arranging then cutting the tiles to putting in the backing board, mortar, grout, etc.) took about 3 solid nights. In addition to the tile and grout, we used these items to complete the floor: tile spacersthin set mortartrowelgrout floatfiber cement backer5 gallon bucketutility knifesteel spiral mixing armsWet Tabletop Sliding Table Tile SawOscillating Saw. (Confession: We messed up the spacing and had to pull up and reinstall about 1/3 of the room. But we'll save that story for another time. And it was honestly a great learning experience. There was more laughter than frustration, and that's ultimately what matters, right?)

After the tile floor was complete, we had a little dance party on it (no really, we did), and moved on to the second most involved project: building the countertop and bench.  My dad has a lot of experience with wood working, so he joined us for this portion of the project. I had a vision that involved birch butcher block, which is just so stunning, but also very heavy. Thankfully the 3 of us were able to maneuver the butcher block pieces (2 of them, 6 feet each), and Robbie and my dad did the measuring, cutting, and actual building of the counter. For the bench, I had originally looked to buy one that would include storage, but I couldn't find one that was a small enough width to fit next to a washing machine and dryer. I am so glad my dad and Robbie ended up building one from scratch, because it is truly stunning, and one of my favorite parts of the room. And they designed it as a built-in rather than a freestanding unit with legs, which allowed enough space underneath for 2 of these beautiful baskets for shoe storage. To build the countertop and bench, they used the butcher block as well as my dad's circular saw and saw horses, a standard drill and screws that we had on hand, these corner braces (for the bench), these shelf brackets (for the counter), this stud finder, and this level. (Note: While they built the counter and bench before we painted or hang the cabinets, we did not install them until after.)

Next up came painting the room. Moody paints are really on trend right now, and I wanted to take the plunge (my paint comfort zone is usually limited to white or gray), but I also wanted something that would stand the test of time. I discovered the most gorgeous black (called Caviar) by HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams, and opted for that in an eggshell finish. I was admittedly a little nervous to do the room in black because it's already so small, and was amazed to see that it ended up creating the opposite effect - the room looks much larger with the dark paint. I love it so much that I'm planning on getting the exact same paint for our downstairs bathroom.

After the painting was complete, we recruited my dad to help us hang the cabinets and shelves. Because creating storage was one of the biggest motivations behind this remodel, I'll be sharing another post soon with the details on how we installed the cabinets and shelves, along with other ways we designed more storage for the space. For now, here are cabinets and shelves we chose (I wanted simply designed, white cabinets to create a contrast against the black paint and to flow with the white appliances, doors, and trim in the room, and some sort of wood style shelves to complement the butcher block), along with the items used to install them: large cabinets, small cabinets, cabinet pulls, shelves (with hardware and brackets), wood veneer shelvesshims, a standard drill and screws that we had on hand, this stud finder, and this level.

After the cabinets, shelves, counter, and bench were complete, it was time for the new washer and dryer! After six months of using a washer and dryer that barely functioned, this was incredibly exciting for us. We installed them ourselves and were genuinely surprised at how simple it was. I could devote a whole post to the level of adoration I feel for this washer and dryer, but instead I'll just say that I can't recommend the Samsung AddWash 5.0-cu ft High-Efficiency Stackable Front-Load Washer and Samsung 7.5-cu ft Gas Dryer highly enough. Top notch. (Items we used to install the washer and dryer: gas connector, foil duct, gear clamp, pipe wrap tape, washing machine connector, steam dryer kit.)

Next we switched out the old light fixture for this one (I am obsessed with it) and these light bulbs, and changed out the brass door knobs for aged bronzed ones and brass hinges for black ones. I actually hadn't even thought of changing the hardware on the doors, but once the room was almost finished, the brass just didn't flow well. And the change was an easy fix. We then hung a new wall-mounted coat rack and this super unique pothole mirror. We also cut down a dowel rod and used white shelf brackets (we painted one black) to made a laundry rod for hang drying clothes.

Once everything else was finished, I completed the shelves with some storage jars I had on hand for clothes pins, dryer balls, and pocket change (you can make similar ones with mason jars and chalkboard paint, or get these cool vintage looking storage jars), some succulents, and a photograph that my dad took with one of his film cameras, developed, and hand-framed. I added this red throw pillow and this ivory one (which I love so deeply I plan on getting a few more for our family room) to the bench, and this absolutely beautiful oriental throw rug to the floor. I also picked up this antique style bronze basket for transporting laundry to and from upstairs.

By doing all of the projects and installation for this remodel ourselves, and investing in tools that could be used for multiple projects, we were able to completely redo the space and design something perfect for us for less than $5,000 (including the washer and dryer!), when it would have been much, much more expensive to hire a designer and contractor. And of course, we are so grateful to Lowe's for carrying all of the products we needed for the room from top to bottom, and working with us to help make this dream space a reality. Robbie and I agree that it is, by far, the nicest room in our home. (Would that be weird to live solely in a laundry room? Asking for a friend.)

Dreaming of, designing, and remodeling a space in your home is such a rewarding experience - we get to enjoy our work every single day! And we're very inspired to remodel more rooms in home now that this one is complete. If you have any questions about the process of our redesign, please let me know. I'd be happy to answer!

(Click here to shop everything in this image!)

Tile: Style Selection Mitte Gray Porcelain Tile
Grout: MAPEI Flexcolor CQ 0.5-Gallon Charcoal Acrylic Premixed Grout
Tile Spacers: TAVY 100-Pack 1-in W x 1-in L 1/4-in Orange Plastic Tile Spacer
Mortar: TEC Skill Set Large Tile and Stone White Powder Polymer-Modified Thinset Mortar
Trowel: QLT by Marshalltown 11-in Flooring Trowel
Grout Float: QLT by Marshalltown 9.5-in x 4-in Rubber Grout Float
Backer Board: James Hardie 0.25-in x 36-in x 60-in HardieBacker Fiber Cement Backer Board
Bucket: Encore Plastics 5-Gallon Commercial Bucket
Utility Knife: Marshalltown 2-Blade Utility Knife
Mixing Arms: QLT by Marshalltown 16-in Steel Spiral Mixing Arms
Wet Saw/Tile Cutter: Kobalt 7-in Wet/Dry Tabletop Sliding Table Tile Saw with Stand
Oscillating Saw: DEWALT XR 28-Piece Cordless 20-volt Max Brushless Oscillating Tool Kit
Butcher Block: The Baltic Butcher Block 6-ft Natural Straight Birch Kitchen Countertop
Large Storage Baskets: RGI HOME 18-in W x 12-in H x 14.25-in D Natural Fiber Basket
Small Storage Baskets: 11-in W x 9-in H x 10-in D Natural Water Hyacinth Milk Crate
Paint: HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams in Caviar Eggshell
Large Cabinets: Diamond NOW Arcadia 30-in W x 30-in H x 12-in D White Shaker Door Wall Cabinet
Small Cabinets: Diamond NOW Arcadia 30-in W x 14-in H x 12-in D White Shaker Door Wall Cabinet
Cabinet Pulls: Brainerd Bar Pulls Center to Center Stainless Steel Cabinet Pull
Shelves: allen + roth 24-in W x 1.5-in H x 7.8-in D Wood Wall Mounted Shelving
Level: Johnson Level 48-in I-beam Level
Stud Finder: Franklin Sensors ProSensor 1.6-in Scan Depth Aa Metal and Wood Stud Finder
Shims: Nelson Wood Shims Shim (Actual: 1.25-in x 7.75-in)
Corner Braces: National Hardware 2.5-in Galvanized Corner Brace
Shelf Brackets for Counter: Style Selections Steel 5.25-in D x 7.63-in L x 1.55-in W White Shelf Bracket
Shelf Brackets for Laundry Rod: Blue Hawk Plastic 2.05-in D x 2.05-in L x 0.77-in W White Shelf Bracket
Dowel Rod: Madison Mill Round Wood Poplar Dowel (Actual: 72-in L x 1.25-in dia)
Washer: Samsung AddWash 5.0-cu ft High-Efficiency Stackable Front-Load Washer (White) ENERGY STAR
Dryer: Samsung 7.5-cu ft Gas Dryer (White) ENERGY STAR
Gas Connector for Dryer: BrassCraft Inlet x Outlet Stainless Steel Gas Connector
Foil Duct for Dryer: IMPERIAL 4-in x 96-in Foil Flexible Duct
Galvanized Clamp for Dryer: Galvanized Full Clamp
Pipe Wrap Tape: 3M 2.5-in x 30-ft Pipe Wrap Tape
Washing Machine Connector: EASTMAN 2-Pack 6-ft L 3/4-in Hose Thread Inlet x 3/4-in Hose Thread Outlet Stainless Steel Washing Machine Connector
Steam Dryer Kit: EASTMAN 72-in L 3/4-in Hose Thread Inlet x 3/4-in Hose Thread Outlet Braided Stainless Steel Steam Dryer Installation Kit
Light Fixture: allen + roth Yordan 15-in W Aged Bronze Flush Mount Light
Light bulbs: GE Vintage 2-Pack 60 W Equivalent Dimmable Soft White A19 Vintage LED Light Fixture Light Bulb
Door Handle for Door to Garage: Gatehouse Baron Antique Bronze Mushroom Passage Door Knob
Door Handle and Deadbolt for Door to Garage: Kwikset Tustin Venetian Bronze Single-cylinder Deadbolt Keyed Entry Door Lever Combo Pack with Smartkey
Hinges: Hager 4-in H Flat Black 1/4-in Radius Interior Mortise Door Hinge
Spring Hinges: National Hardware 4-in H Oil-Rubbed Bronze 1/4-in Radius Exterior Barrel Door Hinge
Antique Style Laundry Basket: 17.5-in W x 15-in H x 14.5-in D Antique Brass Iron Basket
Throw Rug: Safavieh Windsor Davar Red/Ivory Indoor Oriental Throw Rug (Common: 3 x 5; Actual: 3-ft W x 5-ft L)
Rug Pad: Surface Source Dual Surface Rug Pad (Common: 3 x 5; Actual: 3-ft W x 5-ft L)
Red and Orange Throw Pillow: Surya Trenza 22-in W x 22-in L Red/Orange Indoor Decorative Pillow
Ivory Throw Pillow: Loloi 13-in W x 21-in L Ivory Indoor Decorative Pillow
Mirror: Dimond Home Pothole Dark Gray Framed Round Wall Mirror
White Blinds (already in room; not part of project): LEVOLOR 2-in White Faux Wood Door Plantation Blinds

Huge thanks to Lowe's for partnering with us on this project and post! 


Friday, July 13, 2018

Saying Goodbye to a Best Friend (+ Feelings On Being An 'Influencer' In Difficult Times)

Saying Goodbye to a Best Friend (+ Feelings On Being An 'Influencer' In Sad Times)

When I posted back on July 2nd about taking a break while we were in the mountains of Colorado, I fully intended on the blog being nice and full this week. I did share a really fun post about my favorite summer snack food, but shortly after hitting publish on it, I got a call that my best friend of 23 years, who had been battling ALS since early last year, had just passed away. I knew that call was coming any day now. But it didn't make it any easier. It hurt really, really bad. I'm crying as I type this, to be honest. I feel very depressed. It sucks. So I just couldn't post about anything else today (or yesterday) other than what is happening - yet I struggled with whether or not to post this too. And I want to explain why.

I get more emails and messages asking how I became an "influencer" (so not a fan of that term but "blogger" sounds outdated these days) than any other topic. And honestly, I don't have an answer. It's not something I planned by any means. I worked in the fashion industry for 14 years as an eco-friendly designer, and then I started this blog as a side project to promote a new Etsy shop I'd opened back in 2010. Much to my surprise, the blog took off more than I ever imagined, and eventually evolved into a full on lifestyle site (which was completely different than how it started). A few years later I had Essley (my first babe), and shortly after that I decided to close the clothing line and work full time on my blog and social media accounts. In the past year and a half, they have become a solid way to support my family. I work a lot, and I work hard, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a really great gig. I get to stay home with my kids and still support them monetarily through creative work. I get to partner with some really great brands. I get some seriously fantastic opportunities for projects and campaigns. There is a lot of work and a lot of reward. I am very grateful.

In times of loss or tragedy, however, I feel torn about how to go about things around here. The weird thing about being an "influencer" (again, not a fan of that term) for a living is that even when you keep the vast majority of your life private (which I do), you want to remain authentic. (Or at least I do, and I know most of my friends in the industry do as well.) Yes, I partner with brands when I tell my stories, but I am always genuine, and I always incorporate my true self. And that makes it really difficult when something really shitty happens in your personal life. Blogs are not journals like they were 10 years ago. But they also aren't (or at least shouldn't be, in my opinion) commercials that lack soul or substance. When something like this happens, do I just keep posting and treating this like a job in an effort to be professional, even though my friends and I are heavily grieving? Do I not post at all and just allow myself a break, even if that means risking income my family depends on? Or do I find a place in between, where I am sharing with my followers (who over the years have become friends!) what is going on, and pay tribute to one of the greatest people I ever knew, without getting too personal or crossing a line?

Really, I can't pinpoint the "right" thing to do when it comes to my weird job in times like these. So I'm just going with my gut. I posted about Goki on my Instagram and Facebook accounts, and I'm also posting here - both because I want to pay tribute to him, and because I felt it would be almost disrespectful to him to pretend things are okay right now. I pushed back some sponsored posts, because even though this is a job, the most important thing in my life right now is focusing on this great loss, and sending all of my love to the beautiful inside and out wife Marissa, absolutely amazing 2 year old daughter Mika (seen in the photo above), and wonderful parents that Goki left behind when his battle came to an end on Wednesday. Because this isn't about me or my completely insignificant ramblings about what I should share here. It's about them. His close friends are really hurting right now, but his daughter, wife, and parents are the ones who were really left behind. (I can also confidentially say that Goki would be shaking his head and laughing at me reading this. He always made fun of me for overthinking everything. He was/is a true free spirit. I'm just a wannabe.)

I want to share with you guys something my 4 year old daughter said to me yesterday morning when I woke up: "Mommy, don't be sad. Goki is fine! When he died yesterday, the universe sent a bubble, and it took him up to the stars, to heaven, and he feels much better. I promise he is so happy! Mika knows this too." Those were her exact words. And I believe her. He suffered for a long time, and now he is free. If any of your happen to be grieving a loss, I hope her words help you as well.

I've been thinking about addressing this subject here for a while, and my mind is so overwhelmed right now that I needed to address it, but I don't want it to overshadow the main reason I'm posting - and that's that the world has lost one of the most incredible people I've ever known. Goki, thank you for years of adventures together (all over the U.S., Costa Rica, Mexico, the Bahamas, etc. etc. etc.), phone calls that lasted for hours (and always with wine), endless laughs (usually late at night), and for always being so protective of me. I love you forever.

And to all of you, thank you for letting me ramble on with my thoughts, and share pieces of my life and heart here, in between the posts about pretty things and family projects and food and fashion and the things that make life fun but ultimately aren't nearly as important as relationships and love. In the end, those are the ONLY things that matter.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My Favorite Summertime Snack On the Go

Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. This post is in partnership with California Almonds, but all opinions are my own.

Shocker, Melissa is posting about snacks! It's no secret I have an affinity for snacks. Most of the recipes I post here are snack related, and I'm also constantly gushing about how I'm grazing on snacks throughout the day.

But there happens to be a snack I love so much, a snack that is so simple and so perfect for summer no matter where you are and what you're doing, that I'm devoting an entire post to it. And yes, this post is sponsored. But it's not an ad. It's a love letter. Anyone who knows me in real life can attest to the fact that I never, ever leave my house without almonds. And anyone who reads here knows that I include almonds in recipes I share all the time. So it only makes sense that I share with you guys why almonds are my favorite summertime snack, at home and on-the-go.

First let's talk about the why. In short, almonds taste freaking delicious, they're really healthy, and they're super convenient. I incorporate almonds into my smoothies, oatmeal, salads, and baked goods, and I make nut butter and nut milk from them. But I also take them with me everywhere, especially in the summertime when I'm outdoors a lot chasing my kids and need to maintain my energy. They're full of protein and fiber which sustains me. They allow me to consume something quick and without thought that isn't full of empty calories. (In fact, a recent study shows that a handful of almonds provides up to 25% fewer calories than previously thought!*) And they're packed full of nutrition. One ounce of almonds is a great source of vitamin E and magnesium, contains 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, and is a source of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. Did I mention all of the good, healthy unsaturated fats? I mean really, there's no arguing that almonds are the perfect snack.

*Novotny JA, Gebauer SK, Baer DJ. Discrepancy between the Atwater factor predicted and empirically measured energy values of almonds in human diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012; 96(2):296-301.

Now let's talk about the how - specifically how I keep almonds on me at all times. In terms of convenience, it's pretty obvious. Almonds are small and fit anywhere, they're not messy, and you can eat just one or a handful depending on how hungry you are. I usually keep a whole bag of them in my car, but I also have several reusable containers of them in various bags depending on activities.

I throw a container of almonds in our beach bag when we go to the pool or the beach. I've yet to find a more practical snack for pool days! I almost always have a container of them in my purse. Whether I'm running errands or attending work meetings, it's really nice to be able to munch on a handful of almonds when I'm hungry. I take almonds with us when we go hiking or are out exploring nature. I pack almonds in our carry on luggage when we fly (we leave the day after tomorrow for a long trip to Colorado and yes, I already have my almonds ready to go), and in our bags when we go on summertime road trips. I even throw a little bag of almonds in my pocket when we walk up to the local park.

I also always put a container of almonds into Essley's lunch/snack bags for activities and camps. My kids love them as much as I do! And that makes me happy, because almonds keep them full between meals, and are packed with protein, fiber and healthy fat, but are low in sugar. You can't ask for a better snack for your little ones.

There you have it friends: my ode to the ultimate summertime snack on the go. If you're a California almonds fan like I am, I would love to hear the ways you enjoy them while you're out and about in the summer!


Monday, July 2, 2018

Taking a Summer Break (At Two Miles High)

Happy July friends! July is my favorite month of the year. To me, it defines summer. And as you read this post, I am relishing in summer at 9,000+ feet in the air in the mountains of Colorado. We'll be here until the middle of next week, and while it's not just a vacation (Robbie is working at Red Rocks for 4 days and I have some work obligations as well), it's really nice to be able to get away and be with family and friends during the most wonderful time of the year.

During this time, I will be doing something I never do - taking a break from the blog for the next week. If you'd like to follow along with our trip (because if you're a blogger and you don't overshare your vacation, did it really happen?), you can join me over on Instagram (both in my IG Stories and on my feed). And I'll be back with a whole round of new posts mid next week.

In the meantime, here are a few fun summertime themed posts you might enjoy:

Summertime Family Story Night
Summertime Inspired Cakes
A Summer Day at the Zoo
Summertime Watermelon and Feta Guacamole Dip
Summertime Lemon Lime Vodka Spritzers
7 Ways to Make Summer Last
Deep Thoughts on Summertime

See you next week! And if you're here in the states, happy Fourth of July!