Heart of the home-before & after

As we approach 3 years in this home we are wrapping up our kitchen remodel. Although it was only really 2 months without a functioning kitchen there were probably more like 3 years of day dreaming and planning that went in to it. Now that it’s done I can honestly it’s say that I have the kitchen of my dreams.

Isn’t it funny how quickly we forget how something used to look?  The kitchen has only been done for a few weeks, and I’ve already forgotten how dark and narrow it was. One of the biggest thorns in my side was the massive refrigerator we had in our narrow kitchen. I am not kidding more than a few people commented on it’s size the first time they saw the kitchen.  I had tears of joy when that fridge left our house! In it’s place now sits a wet bar that we LOVE!!!!! It is not only functional, but it has turned in to a focal point in our kitchen.  2013-06-22 23.06.17.jpg


Our kitchen was really broken up in three parts when we bought this house. The main or working part with the appliances,  the drive by area (with the massive fridge), and then a tiny sitting room/nook area. The very first remodel project we attacked was to expand the space and make in to a nook and family room. We removed a wall and pushed it in to the old master bed room.


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After phase 1


So when it came time to do the kitchen remodel I had always envisioned a desk and built-ins in the nook area. My husband and I didn’t agree on this point, he thought it would be better to leave it open, and didn’t think we needed more storage (what?!!). I mean come on, unless you live in a McMansion who doesn’t need more storage? However, after seeing the walnut shelves above the wet bar he quickly changed his tune, and as a last minute add on we had our cabinet maker build this desk out of walnut.DSC_6396.jpgOne of the biggest moves we made in this remodel was to bump two feet in to the garage. That two feet allowed us to put in an island which was something we desperately wanted. Over the years we went back and forth between a peninsula and an island. However if we had done the peninsula and not expanded in to the garage, it would have still felt narrow and broken up. Now with the island and wider footprint it completely changes the space. It now feels like one continuous space where as before it always felt like my kitchen was really just the small narrow area that was the working part of the kitchen.


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While we truly labored over every decision, the one that we probably went back and forth on the most was on whether or not to open up the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. I have mixed emotions on the whole “open concept” deal. I think the idea that we need to have one big room is having it’s “moment” right now, and I believe it will  go out of style someday. I also think while it’s right for many homes (like our old one), it’s not right for this one. It’s an old colonial that was not built to be this wide open space. That being said, the house needed to open up and have a better flow.  So in the end we decided to compromise and  do a large cased opening from the dining room and kitchen. There is still a feeling of separate spaces, but it opens up the whole front of our house, changing the entire feeling when you walk in to our home.

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I have to take a moment to recognize our cabinet maker Cabinets by Steve,  http://www.cabinetsbysteve.com. They were simply the best to work with, and we LOVE the way the cabinets turned out. We had several bids and theirs was the most reasonable, and Steve actually visited our kitchen for our first meeting rather than making me go to them. From the beginning his whole team was terrific to work with-they didn’t ever make me feel like I was being annoying or high maintenance, and with every change they sent me an updated rendering, and kept us informed of any price increases or timeline issues. I can’t say enough about their professionalism and attention to detail, and to no surprise when install day came I was blown away by the finished product. If you are looking to do a kitchen or bathroom remodel, or just need a new cabinet I would highly recommend them-I promise you will not be disappointed!!

In the end-the kitchen remodel- has completely transformed our house in a way that no other room remodel has. It’s truly the heart of the home now, and although it was a labor of love it was worth every moment!








watch the flowers grow


Have you heard the song  “Flowers in the Window?” It’s a song that has been playing over and over in my head lately, specifically the line… “watch the flowers grow.”  This is our theme song for our recent backyard overhaul. When we bought this house two years ago, the yard, along with almost everything else was in sad condition.  Although we started with some interior work, b/c we love spending time in our last home’s yard, we knew it wouldn’t be long before we attacked the new backyard as well. In fact one of the reasons we purchased this house was b/c we knew it had potential for an amazing indoor/outdoor living space. In our recent master suite remodel we added french doors that opened up on to the yard, and the year before when we did the family room we also added two french doors to open up on to our patio to replace one small slider.



Then there was a falling down retaining wall, and some really creepy platform/stage thing in the back (that we still don’t know what it was intended for). The patio was too small for the yard and lifting in the corners. It needed to be replaced, along with the fence which consisted of a chainlink fence on one side, and a hodgepodge of fences in the back that was rotting in places. It also needed to go.

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Phase one: Last summer we started with removing it all, retaining wall, weird stage, patio, and dirt oh so much dirt!!  We poured a new patio that wraps around to the master bedroom patio, and put in a new fence on two sides.


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Phase two: This spring we hired  http://rivercitygardens.com/ do the design, and http://www.jwlic.com/ to do the construction. Both were fabulous to work with, and did an incredible job!!  Kathryn from River City Gardens was amazing, we gave her some ideas of what we liked, and pretty much she spot on with her design! The contractors were equally incredible. Jaylene and team were professional, and transformed our yard.

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In the end we are thrilled with how it all turned out! It well exceeded our expectations. We are looking forward to seeing our boys grow up in this yard, and watching the flowers grow.

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Today, as so many of us do, I reflect on the past year and can’t help but feel extremely grateful and lucky for a year of health and prosperity. I realize that it’s a precious few that actually have both in their life, and I try not to take this for granted.  On a personal note, it was a milestone year for me turning the big four zero, and although I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled about leaving my 30’s, I can honestly say that I have everything I could ever want in my life. I have a healthy family, a home that we are making our own (one remodel at a time), friends that are unconditional, and a job that I love!  Even as I write all this it sounds kind of “Mary Poppins-ish, ” but it really is a superecalifrag… well, you know.

On a professional note, this year has been the best one yet. I feel incredibly fortunate for everything. On the busiest of days over the holiday season as I was busting my hump to get orders out in time, (literally sweat’n to the oldies) I recognized how lucky I felt to be doing something I love, even if it is a stressful and busy business. All that said, this was  a year of big wins for Albie Designs. While luck and timing certainly cannot be discounted, I am going to take a moment to be proud of myself. As hard as that is for me to do, the truth is I worked hard, and sometimes I just need to take a moment to step back and acknowledge the successes. When you work for yourself it’s easy to forget to hit pause and reflect on completed work, and even pat yourself on the back. I guess if I am going to do such a thing, the final day of the year is a good place to look back from.

Peering into the rear view mirror of 2014, here are some of Albie Designs highlights:


Pretty much the only marketing I do is through other blogs which has become increasingly harder to do in an over-saturated market. I tend to target the popular design blogs that I love, but they have larger audiences as well. The are also usually very difficult to get mentioned on, as you can imagine they get thousands of soliciting emails similar to mine, and therefor response is rare. These are a few of the blogs that I was honored to be a part of last year,


Zulily Sales

I had three successful sales with Zulily this year,  with the last one that I did right before Thanksgiving being the best one yet!! I did almost as much in sales in a 3 day Zulily sale, as I typically do in a quarter from my Etsy shop. It was a big win for Albie Designs!

Domino–oh how I LOVE you!

One of the biggest heart stopping moments for me this year was when I saw in my INBOX an email from Domino Magazine wanting to feature my work on their website. I literally almost peed my pants. Domino is by far my favorite design magazine publication out there. My best friend and I joke about their book when it was released that it was our “design bible”…. seriously!!  So you can imagine my shock and excitement when they responded back to my message to them. I was convinced it would be placed into the folder of rejected emails with all of the others.


Property Brothers (HGTV)

In 2013 I received a lovely email from a woman named Nicole asking me if I would mind if my work was featured on an episode of Property Brothers. She and her husband were going to be on an upcoming episode, and had shown my work to the Property Brothers and they liked it so much they wanted to put it in one of the finished installed rooms. I was of course thrilled at this opportunity, and then it was a waiting game. Nicole wasn’t sure when the episode was going to air, or even if they would show my prints as part of the episode after all the editing that occurs. It was scheduled for spring time, but ended up actually showing in August 2014. I was at the beach with family, so it was so fun to watch it with loved ones. The episode was almost over, and in the final minutes lo and behold there they were a few of my international prints. It was amazing!!

Sorry, I couldn’t find the full episode online, and so all I have is this poor image of it taken by a friend who was watching the program.


To wrap up this rather long post, I couldn’t be happier with 2014, and I am looking forward to exciting stuff already in the works for 2015!! I truly hope you had a great year, and the next one is even better!!


Top image source found here https://www.etsy.com/listing/110903160/home-wall-decor-quote-print-for-wall-she?ref=br_feed_53&br_feed_tlp=new-years

More remodel pics

Here are some more shots of our master bedroom and bath remodel. Let’s start with the bedroom.

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dresser2This room is everything I wanted it to be and more! I love the double doors going out to our patio. It’s not huge, but it fits all of our furniture in it, and we wanted more room for the bathroom and walk-in closet.

On to the bathroom of my dreams. No joke, I will go in to it a few times a day and look around. I seriously can’t believe that it’s done, and we LOVE it!



showerbathy bathshelf bath I don’t really know what I love the most about it. If I had to pick though, I would probably say the shower tile floor. DSC_2865

It’s seriously gorgeous!! We got all of the tile from http://www.annsacks.com/. I will be back for more when it’s kitchen remodel time.

Last but not least is our powder room. It used to be the old master bedroom’s closet. Funny thing, it’s actually about the same size as my old master bath.


2 weeks

For the past 8 months I have measured time in increments of 2 weeks. It’s been a running joke in our household that everything in this remodel will take “2 weeks.” If you haven’t seen the movie Money Pit then our joke probably isn’t very funny to you. For us it’s been both our reality and a source of comic relief since we started the master suite remodel. Everything from the plumbing fixtures to the shower glass doors were all supposed to be done in “2 weeks”…….


Of course it typically took more like 3-4 weeks to get these things done, but in the end we couldn’t be happier with the end result.

So, let’s get down to business. Here are some before pics and a few during the process. I debated on whether or not to show the before pictures, b/c unfortunately they do not do a very good job of telling the story. We basically combined 2 rooms, 2 bathrooms, and a hallway to make one big master suite. There was some moving of walls, removing of toilets and a whole mess of electrical work that needed to be done to make this happen. DSC_1489 DSC_1510 DSC_1518 DSC_1521 IMG_1346

The last shot is of the double doors we added in our room. I’ve always wanted french doors like these in my room. I love the idea of being able to have access to a patio and/or your backyard.

And finally here are just a few shots of the new room and bathroom. I apologize they are not the best pictures. I borrowed a wide angle lens from my Dad to take the before pictures, and you can see what a difference it makes. I just need to get a wide angle lens for myself. I promise better pictures to come…..





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It’s funny even as I write this post, I realize how much I am leaving out with just a few pictures and a couple paragraphs to describe our journey. It was truly quite the process, and although we are no strangers to remodeling, this one seemed to take it’s toll.  Now it’s not enough to make us stop of course, we are gluttons for punishment! For now though you’ll find me most evenings relaxing with a glass of wine in my new tub dreaming of our next big project.


LOVE is in the air

With my 12th anniversary just around the corner, I have been thinking a lot about weddings recently. Oh how I love myself a good wedding to go to, and I hate that we’ve long outgrown the “wedding circuit” days. Now we are lucky if we have one wedding to go to a year! I really can’t think of a wedding that I didn’t love, but I think the most memorable ones for me get the details and personal touches right.  It’s not about the fancy food or big band, it’s all about the little nuances, whether it’s in the invitations, the ceremony, or at the reception that make a wedding stand out.  In fact, a few months back one of my customer’s was kind enough to share with me some pictures from her own wedding where her guests signed my Chicago print instead of the traditional guest book. Such a great idea! I’ve been to weddings before where you sign a picture of the couple, but I like this idea as well, especially if you fell in love in that city.  Either way it’s a nice change, and awesome because you can frame it and hang it somewhere in your house to remind you of your big day. Rather than signing a guest book that you pack away in a box that eventually ends up in the attic, never to be seen again (like us). I love that kind of detail that makes your wedding unique.

Here are a few shots from her wedding!0712 0713 0714

Master in the making

As long as we’ve been married we’ve never had a master suite per-se, we’ve had really small rooms with either a bathroom down the hall, or in the case of our last home, an airplane size bathroom (NO JOKE) connected to our room.  In the new house we are living next to our boy’s in one of the two rooms upstairs–not the intended master bedroom. The old master is on the main, and in our last reno project we cut it in half to create a great room attached to our kitchen.  While our room upstairs is a generous size, I get the special treat of sharing a bathroom with all three boy’s in my life, two of which are under the age of eight. Let’s just say I never sit down without checking first. So, as you can imagine I am more than ready to start the next phases of our renovation–the master suite, and the backyard (which I will post about later).  Our vision when we bought this house last summer was to have the master on the main, and although it technically already is, we wanted to create a “real” master suite by taking over one of the smaller bedrooms on the main. That way the boys will have the upstairs space to themselves, and we get the downstairs! Unlike our last remodel project, I want to do a better job of sharing the progress from beginning to end. So, let’s begin with the plans and some inspirational images that I have been daydreaming about for a long time…

Here’s a space plan that I worked up of our existing lay-out and what I am thinking for the new space.


And here are some of the inspirational images that are rolling around in my head….

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I hope you’ll check back in from time-to-time to see how this all plays out!