A Trip to Kennywood

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There was one main thing on my summer bucket list and that was to visit Kennywood, one of the oldest and most beloved amusement parks in America that’s located just outside Pittsburgh. Founded in 1898, Kennywood is home to several wooden rollercoasters and was even designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

 

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I lost count of the number of times I’ve visited the park, but the last was back in 1999 the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college. Since then a few rides have said  sayonara while others have taken their place. I was anxious to reacquaint myself with the place.

 

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So a few weekends ago me along with eight members of my family headed to Kennywood for the day! Naturally it was one of the hottest days of the summer, which seemed appropriate. We baked in the sun – under our sunscreen, of course – from 11am until the park shut down for the night at 10:30.

The carousel above is over 100 years old, the wooden platform and hand painted horses make it beyond magical.

 

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Not everyone was able to ride every single ride (back injuries, inner ear issues, fear of heights – the list goes on), so we spent a good part of the day separating and regrouping. My ride partner was my 29-year-old cousin who was just as ride-focused as me (yeah, you can tell we’re related).

 

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I made sure to make a stop at my favorite eatery for some cheese-smothered Potato Patch Fries, one of those foods that’s become an institution within the park. And then I ate them so fast I didn’t even snap a photo – the HORROR.

 

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We rode the fastest coaster in the part in the front seat. My mom was seated directly behind me screaming the entire time, as one does on a rollercoaster, and I laughed so hard that I had tears streaming back to my ears! My eyes were even closed because I thought my contacts might slide right out.

 

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I was brought up on county fair and amusement park rides, both of my parents love them. Whenever someone is freaking out in the middle of one I’m usually the person sitting next to them, it must be some sort of unspoken law of nature. While riding the Black Widow (above) the teenage girl seated next to me lost it so bad that tears and snot were pouring out and her long hair was plastered to her face. She kept telling her friend she was going to pass out, while her friend held her hand and said that everyone was looking at her. Yeah, she totally didn’t care and bolted as soon as the ride was over and the harnesses lifted.

 

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Amusement parks at night are ten times better than by day, and I was immediately taken back to walking around Kennywood as a teenager with whatever boy I liked at the moment. Those were the days, man.

 

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National Painting Week: The Office Reveal (+ a Giveaway)

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I did it. I created an accent wall that I love that doesn’t feel tacky or cliche, but that still packs a punch. In this case the key was choosing two muted hues as well as embracing my love of geometry. But let’s back up for a minute and check out the before photos of my home office.

 

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The bare basics and oh so boring. A small Parsons style desk, office chair, filing cabinets to hide supplies, and artwork that has yet to find a home. Of course no room would be complete without a wayward throw rug, yes? As I mentioned in my last post, the walls had been painted a greyish white and that’s about all I’d done in this space since moving into my house last September.

 

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Before charting out the diagonal accent wall I’d settled upon, I gathered a length of rope and a few thumbtacks. The first step was maneuvering myself up to the tippy-top of my ladder to reach the high ceiling, where I tacked the rope in the upper corner. (No small feat for this 5’2″ girl.) I drew it taut as I pulled down to the opposing corner and tacked a few places along the way for reinforcement, then followed the line it created with painter’s tape. My (mad) method ensured a straight line, which is oh so important if you’re the OCD type like me who might obsess over any imperfections later on.

 

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It took two coats of SW 7110 Cosmetic Blush in my favorite Sherwin-Williams combo, the Emerald line in a satin finish. I’ve used this tag team on my last four painting projects and love it. Once the second coat was on I removed the tape by pulling away at an angle for a super crisp line. (A pro tip is to always remove painter’s tape while the paint is still slightly wet.) The low VOCs made the smell of paint non-existent, so with a small crack of the window I was able to start working in my office almost immediately.

 

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If you noticed, I turned my plan for a diagonal accent wall into more of an accent corner! I didn’t plan on it beforehand, but once I started taping things off it just felt right. So I went with it. The end result feels a bit like a pink beam of light shining on my workspace, which has been an especially welcome presence on overcast days.

 

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I relocated my desk to the newly painted wall and kept things simple with a brass lamp and fresh flowers. (Trust me, that desk will be cluttered in no time.) The project as a whole took just around two hours spread over two days. I have a few more pieces of furniture to add before the office is 100% complete, but this refresh is perfect for the immediate future!

 

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For the past three years I’ve teamed up with Sherwin-Williams to mark National Painting Week. Together we’ve tackled the front door and hall bath at my old home, and now my office. Each project wasn’t huge as a whole, but made such a positive change in my space.

Visit the National Painting Week site and see what other bloggers are doing to update and celebrate! Leave a comment below sharing if you have plans to switch up an area in your home for National Painting Week for a chance to win $100 from Sherwin-Williams. Giveaway ends May 17th at midnight EST.

I received product and compensation from Sherwin-Williams in return for this post. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Design Crush!

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This One Time, At Texas Style Council CAMP

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Photo Chelsea Laine Francis

The week before last I headed to Texas Hill Country, just outside Austin, to attend the fifth and final Texas Style Council. What had started as a group of like-minded people brunching on quiche a few years ago had grown huge in size, and this year was stripped back down to the basics. Two hundred women staying at a Girl Scout camp for a long weekend and leaving everything else at the door was the bare agenda.

 

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Photos Chelsea Laine Francis

Vintage camping elements set the scene as we made our way between cabins, sessions, and activities. Permission to only occasionally shower or brush your hair was granted as we all gathered to discuss the deeply buried stuff: vulnerability, keeping connections real, and creating a meaningful presence.

 

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Photo Chelsea Laine Francis

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Photo Kelly Beall

I was flattered to be asked to speak by TxSC founder, Indiana Adams, who I connected with back in January. (We were both on our way to Alt Summit in Salt Lake City and on the same delayed flight.) Speakers were asked to arrive a day early to have a little extra time to connect with the amazing sponsors on hand, as well as enjoy some outdoor activities.

 

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Photo Chelsea Laine Francis

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Photo Kelly Beall

I’d been looking forward to horseback riding and zip lining for over a month, so much so that not even the pouring rain could stop me. I have a difficult time stepping away from the screen and actually relaxing, so I’m taking it as a sign and looking into taking some horseback riding lessons. This weekend was a great reminder that it’s just as important to make time for yourself as it is to kick ass and take names at the office.

 

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Photo Chelsea Laine Francis

Throughout the weekend campers collected “badges” (pins) for completing projects, attending sessions, etc. I never got to be a Girl Scout as a kid and my competitive spirit took over – I had to collect them all! It wasn’t at all about the end result, almost more like a baseball card situation, but I happily accepted the Eagle Scout award at the badge ceremony Sunday afternoon for collecting the most pins!

 

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I was lucky enough to spend my nights sharing snacks and sleeping on a rock hard mattress in the same room as these girls – Chloe Mitchell of Hello Society, Cyndie Spiegel, and Joanna Hawley of Jojotastic.

 

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Photos Kelly Beall

The last day of camp showed up suddenly, as it always seemed to when I was growing up. TxSC was refreshing in a way few conferences are, full of women without pretensions or agendas. Women who I most likely never would have crossed paths with otherwise. A big thank you to Indiana for creating this labor of love that we all had the benefit of taking part in.

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Back in the ‘Burgh: 6 Months Later

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Several of you who took this year’s Reader Survey mentioned you wanted to see more of Pittsburgh, hear how it differs from my years spent in Oklahoma City, and generally just know how I’m adjusting to living back in my hometown. I’m 100% happy to share all of those thing with you, and so glad to hear (read?) there’s interest! I’ll be rolling out local maker profiles and tours in the next few months as well as highlighting my favorite spots as I discover them.  But until then, March 8th marked six months since the move so I thought I’d reflect a little on how things have been going.

 

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It’s been easier than I’d anticipated. Prior to relocating I honestly thought I might end up in therapy from reverse culture shock, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Turns out my small hometown still felt just like, well, home. It’s been going through a bit of a renaissance and the downtown area has been turning over slowly to some welcome new businesses. (Case in point: a juice bar opened last month!) It’s so nice being near family and the few friends I’ve kept in contact with through the years, as well as being able to see out-of-town friends who come back to visit. The anxiety that’s plagued me since college has decreased dramatically, and I feel more grounded here than anywhere which has been a discovery in itself. I’m absolutely in love with my home, it feels like the space I’ve always dreamed of creating for myself and it makes me proud.

 

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It’s been different than expected. I’d gotten so used to not living near family that I need to remind myself to make time to visit and take advantage of my new proximity. I get frustrated that I haven’t learned my go-to brunch place, favorite restaurants, or where to pick up that perfect gift just yet. The same goes for not having immediately built a community to immerse myself in. (I tend to forget that I built the foundation for one years ago by staying connected to the city online.) It’s a bit strange to live about 25 miles from downtown Pittsburgh as opposed to the 10 from Oklahoma City, so I’m in the car a bit more. I miss being 2 minutes away from Super Target (true story). My 115 year old house has had some issues – leaking roof, sewage in the basement from settled pipes, hot water tank died – that I wasn’t financially anticipating this soon.

All in all I know I made the right decision to move back. I’d been gone since leaving for college and I love getting to know this city as an adult.

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Alt Winter 2015

Alt Winter 2015-1-Design Crush

 

A few weeks ago, on a cold Wednesday, I headed off to Alt Summit in Salt Lake City. It was my sixth time speaking and it’s become that point in the year when I reassess my goals and mission for Design Crush, and connect with potential sponsors and like-minded people who see the value in blogging. Every January I come away feeling refreshed and refocused.

 

Alt Winter 2015 Brooke Dennis

Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

The evening I flew into town Overstock hosted a dinner at Rest for some of the attendees. I didn’t have a real feel for the brand prior to that point, to be honest. But I’m going to be completely transparent here when I say that sometimes getting to know the people behind the company can completely change perception. Just a super lovely, very real team that was easy to talk to and hang out with and an insanely delicious meal (beer can chicken, paella, ceviche, pickled onion rings +more).

 

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Thursday morning started bright and early thanks to jet lag and a poor night’s sleep – does anyone else have that issue the first night in a hotel? My roommate, Tabulous Design, and I took advantage and had a nice little breakfast (I’m obsessed with the Grand America‘s muesli and lattes) before talking to a few sponsors. I had to miss my friend Lisa Congdon‘s opening keynote for a few meetings, but everyone raved about it through the rest of the conference.

 

Alt Winter 2015 Brooke Dennis

Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

My panel was one of the very firsts – Pinterest: Community Growth, Revenue Streams, Driving Traffic – with Alexandra Evjen, Rachel Faucett, and Sara Martineau. Among all of the panels I’ve ever been lucky enough to participate in, this one was prepared to the nines. These ladies know their stuff in a big, big way and they’re excited about it too. If you’d like a few bits of advice that we talked about check out Alex’s post-Alt post.

 

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Wednesday night brought with it a Downton Abbey themed dinner. Proper and elegant with flowers I couldn’t stop taking photos of, the night ended up being an early one for me. After dressing up in a dropped-waist, short-sleeved seafoam colored dress and (heavy) statement necklace I just couldn’t hang after my four hours sleep the night before. Several episodes of The Big C later and I was passed out cold.

 

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While at Alt I also teamed up with Microsoft and Wayfair in their #DreamStudio, one of the sponsored lounges. They divided the space into three areas – craft room, kitchen, and living room/office – and had a few bloggers giving mini session on fun topics like Upcoming Art Trends in-between the main panels. Because I spent most of my time here I didn’t get to attend any panels other than my own, but I loved getting to connect with other attendees about something I’m passionate about!

 

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Friday evening were the Mini Parties, basically my favorite part of every year. Alt takes over part of the third floor of the hotel and each room is a different theme, most rife with photobooth opportunitues. My partners in crime were my roommate Tab and Dottie and Alix (aka Modern Kiddo). We had an agenda to take the best possible photos and stuck to it for three straight hours – the last one is clearly our money shot!

 

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I normally stay In SLC through Saturday and leave Sunday, but this year there was a ridiculous price difference in flights so I said goodbye Saturday afternoon after a leisurely breakfast and some good conversation with longtime friends. If you missed out this go around and are dying to attend Alt tickets just went on sale for Alt Summer!

(Alt 2010 (day 1 + day 2), Alt 2011, Alt 2012 (what I learned), Alt 2013,  Alt 2014)

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Checking In: September

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Making : pile after pile of broken down cardboard packing boxes
Cooking : I’ve been on a breakfast sandwich kick (apple English muffin + egg + cheddar)
Drinking : (diet) lemonade
Reading : The Book of Life, the third book in the All Souls Trilogy
Wanting : fall to slow down already
Looking : for the perfect dining room table and chairs
Playing : old mixtapes
Deciding : whether I need to make another trip to Lowes today
Wishing : that this house could set itself up
Enjoying : reacquainting myself with my hometown
Waiting : to put up Halloween decorations for another week
Liking : the sight of the changing leaves
Wondering : how long it will take for this town to feel like home once again 
Loving : all the help my family has been offering up as I get settled in
Pondering : how best to set up my office
Considering : when and where to buy this year’s pumpkins
Watching : Parenthood
Hoping : the headache I woke up with goes away soon
Marveling : at how much I love the local farmer’s market!
Needing : to go grocery shopping
Smelling : Bebe, who is laying next to me and desperately needs bathed
Wearing : my hoodie, constantly
Following : college football like whoa (Boomer Sooner!)
Wanting : a cheeseburger for lunch
Noticing : how the grass seems to grow slower here
Knowing : that I need to have a few electrical outlets upgraded asap
Thinking : about what to pack for the beach next weekend
Feeling : overwhelmed
Admiring : people who seem to juggle it all seamlessly
Sorting : through everything I’ve unpacked, trying to find its place here
Buying : washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc.
Getting : tired of spending money
Bookmarking : more articles than I have time to read, mainly about haunted stuff
Disliking : the slow process of setting up house
Opening : bills, bills, BILLS
Feeling : anticipation

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Checking In: August 2014

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Making : box upon box as I pack up for the move next week (eek!)
Cooking : does cereal count? (looking forward to getting back into it this fall)
Drinking : iced coffee galore
Reading : CNN’s site several times a day
Wanting : enough time to say goodbye to my friends here in Oklahoma City
Looking : at the dogs who are resting peacefully (for once)
Playing : not much – I’m in a music rut!
Deciding : whether I can wait to buy groceries until tomorrow
Wishing : for all of my favorite people to live in the same town
Enjoying : a summer-long marathon of Criminal Minds
Waiting : for college and pro football season to start this weekend!
Liking : this feeling of culling down all of my belongings
Wondering : how the pups are going to handle this 2-day long road trip 
Loving : how busy my evenings have been with lots of dinners and good conversation
Pondering : how best to pack up my art collection
Considering : lunch
Watching : again, Criminal Minds
Hoping : this last week goes just right – not too fast, not too slow
Marveling : at how summer has flown by this year!
Needing : the weather to drop below triple digits (please?)
Smelling : he sandalwood candle burning in my living room
Wearing : lots of tank tops
Following : several new Pittsburgh-based handles on Twitter
Wanting : PIZZA
Noticing : how different regions of the country go back to school at different times
Knowing : that my Mom gets here tomorrow to help me finish packing
Thinking : about how I’m glad I worked ahead on posts
Feeling : excited about football season
Admiring : my friend Clarisha for raising such a beautiful, smart daughter
Sorting : through old beauty products
Buying : nothing, saving my pennies for the house closing
Getting : a new (old) house
Bookmarking : podcasts to download for the long drive to PA
Disliking : saying so many goodbyes
Opening : lots of mortgage paperwork
Feeling : excited

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Insta Moving Sale!

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The only thing I really miss about regularly moving from apartment to apartment in my 20s is the necessary culling that happened with every relocation. I like going through my belongings to find the things I forgot I had, the things that I’m over, and the things that deserve a better life. Now I donate a few times a year, but there are always a few pieces that are maybe just a bit too good to put in a trash bag or cardboard box.

I’ve gathered some of those pieces as I pack up my life to move halfway across the country and am going to be posting them in the next few days for an Instagram sale. This sale is for Oklahoma City locals who can pick up their purchase only. The Sunbeam mixer above as well as pillows, lamps, art, and more will be available. If you’re local and looking for some deals you can follow along at @designcrush!

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Checking In: July 2014

13116 Green Cedar Terrace-Kelly Beall

 

After over twelve months of end-of-month Instagram updates we’re changing it up a little around here. (Of course you can still follow @designcrush on Instagram.) While pictures really are worth a thousand words, sometimes it’s just nice to use the words instead. So for now we’ll be closing out each month with a much more verbal goodbye, with a nod towards Meet Me at Mike’s for the idea of this list. Join in if you’d like!

 

Making : lists of style props to use for a photo shoot I have later today
Cooking : rarely, this summer has been crazy busy
Drinking : lots and lots of H2O and iced tea
Reading : the latest issue of The New Yorker
Wanting : this move across half the country to be over already
Looking : at photos that need edited
Playing : Jenny Lewis’s latest – The Voyager
Deciding : what pieces to put in a little Instagram sale I’ll be having in the next week or so
Wishing : for more free time
Enjoying : cuddles with my pups, Piper and Bebe
Waiting : for college and pro football season to start
Liking : this crazy cool weather we’ve been experiencing – 20+ degrees below normal!
Wondering : what it will feel like to live back in my hometown
Loving : how green my lawn is this year
Pondering : whether I can wait another day to go to the grocery store
Considering : whether or not to throw out my half dead orchid
Watching : The Leftovers, Food Fighters, True Blood, Masters of Sex
Hoping : for some great last hangouts with friends before I leave town
Marveling : at how some of my best friends are all because of this site
Needing : more coffee
Smelling : the scent of recently fallen rain
Wearing : my Marcel Warby Parker glasses
Following : Jenny‘s house progress
Wanting : carbs!
Noticing : lots of State of the Blog posts lately
Knowing : that I’m about to start a huge, new, awesome chapter of my life
Thinking : about how I absolutely have to do laundry today
Feeling : excited about closing on my new house!
Admiring : risk takers
Sorting : through every single possession I own
Buying : super exciting things like home inspections and insurance
Getting : lots of positive reinforcement and support
Bookmarking : healthy diabetes-friendly recipes
Disliking : how this summer is flying by
Opening : the windows – WIDE
Feeling : anxious

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The New Design Crush Headquarters

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After eight months of searching for the perfect home in Pennsylvania, I’ve finally found it. And made an offer. And am buying it.

You’ll have to forgive the shoddy realtor photos, but I don’t have any of my own. Because I’ve never actually set foot in this house. I KNOW. I’m buying it based on these photos and a video my Mom shot on her iPhone when touring it for me. Let me tell you, buying a place halfway across the country is no piece of cake! But I’m excited to share of these photos with you and take you on the journey.

Let me start by saying that this is not the type of house I thought I would end up with. Mainly because it’s not what I was looking for or like anything that’s ever been my taste. I’m clean lines, modern, open spaces. And without the renovations that have been done on this 1900 colonial I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. But a few weeks ago I spied it online, and then later that same day both my realtor and my Mom sent me a link to it as well. My response: I like a lot of the inside, but am not into the outside. And part of that still stands true, but it’s grown on me considerably. So about a week later I sent both of them to take a peek in person and the three of us all fell head over heels. As far as the facade goes, I’d love to add a wooden porch the width of the house that eliminates those three strange steps up to the front door probably about more than anything else. But like a lot of things I want to do to the interior, all in good time.

But you probably want to take a peek for yourself at the new Design Crush headquarters…

 

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The floors throughout the first floor have been refinished and (supposedly) the entire place was taken down to the studs. This is the living room right off the left of the foyer once you come in the front door. I love the high ceilings that run throughout this level. Right off the bat I’ll be pulling down those curtains in the little windows flanking the floor to ceiling fireplace and painting out the gold piece in the middle of the mantle. Eventually I plan on swapping out that tile in the hearth and painting the entire space white. I’ve always liked the look of a clean palette and really want my furnishings to be what brings color and personality to the house. The stone fireplace is much better in person (or so I hear) and is comprised of uneven bits and pieces.

To the right side of the frame is a huge open doorway into the dining room. The photo online is awful, but what you’ll find are three large windows forming a bay on the outer wall and a small built-in that’s thankfully already white. Off of the dining room is a fully renovated 3-piece bath and a small hallway to the kitchen.

 

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Nicely refinished, but those the cabinets are dated and only made fresh by a coat of paint. They’ll need replaced sooner than later. Glass tiling in kitchens and baths is a trend currently, but one that I’m not entirely on board with. (Are people getting hugely amazing deals on it? What is the deal?!) It will suffice for now, but the larger plan is to tear it out and do a half wall of white subway tile with white paint (again) above. I’m also debating whether or not I’ll replace the black granite with something different. The right wall in this photo has a cooktop (soon to be replaced with a range before closing) and a nook for the fridge. The opposite two walls are half white beadboard and half white paint. Completely livable at this point. In the corner they form I’m hoping to put up some open shelving for pretty cookbooks and serving pieces. One of my favorite parts – not pictured – are the beams on the ceiling. A total dream!

To the left there is also a doorway out to the deck and backyard, which we’ll get to in a minute, and a pantry. To the right is a doorway that leads around to a nook that has a door to the basement, as well as a hallway with a coat closet before you’re back in the foyer. I love the full circle layout a lot.

 

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Which leaves us here. The front door to the right (not pictured) has a half window and needs a coat of paint and that’s about it. This staircase curves up and to the left with a window set about halfway up. I’m not at all keen about the carpeting that leads the way up to and covers almost the entire second floor. Eventually I hope to replace it all with wood that closely matches the first floor, but that will require some savings. In the meantime, it will be good traction for the dogs since we’ve never lived with stairs before.

 

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The second floor has one small bedroom with wood floors that will be my office, and three other bedrooms that all look about the same. Like this. (Not nearly as dark and dingy as this shot implies.) Again, several windows forming a large bay and a seriously decent-sized closet considering this place was built in 1900! There’s also another fully renovated 3-piece bath.

 

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Continue up a switchbacked set of stairs to the third floor finished attic. Those windows are on all four side and total showstoppers! Again, I’m not fond of the carpeting, but at least it’s all new throughout. This floor is actually comprised of two huge rooms, one of which I’m hoping to make the master and the other the walk-in wardrobe of my dreams. This plan all depends on whether or not the central AC that’s going in before closing can have its ducts run up all three floors. A bit of a challenge, or so I’m told. I’m not sure what plan B is if that’s not a possibility.

 

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The back yard is a total blank slate, you can only see about a fourth of it here. Not large by any means but comparable to what I currently have. The deck is new and beautiful and I’m already imagining having my morning coffee on it, throwing parties, and about a hundred other things! I’m also looking forward to pillaging my green thumbed Grandma’s yard for peonies, lilacs, and poppies to plant.

Closing is scheduled for September 8th, so I hope to have some better photos for you at that point. Thanks for indulging me while I share the new digs!

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