02 March 2015

Kitchen Tour


If you follow me in Instagram (@jessicademaio) or if you 'Like' A Simple Kind of Life on Facebook, you saw that I picked up a few new things from Homegoods over the weekend. Three out of four of the items ended up in our kitchen. It was motivation enough for me to clean the space up and take some photos to give you all a real tour.

I like our kitchen a lot. It's a big space and very open, which both Jordan and I like. Is it my dream kitchen? No. Could it be? With some tweaking, it could come close. Before the house was renovated, the kitchen was split into a kitchen and a dining room with a wall between. I can't imagine how cramped both spaces would feel if that wall was still here (we also probably wouldn't have loved the house as much). With the exception of two bar stools at the counter, we didn't have an eat-in kitchen in our townhouse. We also learned from having one and never using it, that we really don't have a need for a formal dining room, so this setup was a perfect solution for our family. 


One of the first things we did in this space was swap out all the lights: the pendant above the sink, the two flush mounts, and the light above the kitchen table. The lighter, brighter ones we chose were such a fresh change.


Past the lights, new paint and our fauxdenza, we haven't done a ton of work in the kitchen. We haven't needed to. One of the biggest things that sold me on this house and the kitchen was the white subway tile. While the cabinets aren't my taste and granite is great, just not the color I would choose, the TILE choice could make or break my kitchen feelings. 


I like clean, simple tile and subway tile is my favorite. Either all one color (grey, black, white) or close to it. I apologize in advance to all of you who have this, but my biggest tile pet peeve is when people insert rows of teeny tiny multicolored tile in between their multicolored backsplash. It's too crazy and busy for me, especially when paired with a busy granite countertop. I just need simple and classic. 


For me, not having to replace tile is huge. What I do want to change? The cabinet color. Yup. Brand new, barely a year old cabinets and I dislike them.


I dream of a tuxedo kitchen. (See examples here, here, and of course here.) Crisp white cabinets up top, dark charcoal grey on bottom. And fresh, modern hardware to replace the current knobs and pulls. I would love an all white kitchen too, but because of the dark tones in the granite I think a charcoal colored cabinet on the bottom would look best.


My favorite part of the kitchen? The french doors that open to our deck. When we were still looking at the house Jordan recommended swapping them out for a sliding glass door, but I put my foot down. French doors are such a dream to me. In the summer I love opening both doors and letting the light and warmth pour into our kitchen. I hope to do some work to them this summer. The plastic dividers are yellowed and cracking and the outside of the door is a half-painted red. I hope to repaint both sides of the doors and remove the dividers for maximum light (picture like this).  



I painted that little sliver of wall on the far left with chalkboard paint. If I was a proper blogger/DIYer I would have had some elaborate calligraphy quote drawn for these photos. But I am a mom, and I'm tired, and I gave my toddler a bowl of Cheez-its and my iPad so I could snap these impromptu photos while the baby napped. 


Had to sneak a shot of these grocery store blooms that we've had for over two weeks without a single dead flower. Sorry for some glaringly bright light in some of these photos. Trying to get good shots in natural light while the outside is covered in bright white snow makes for interesting photos. Maybe I should have adjusted the exposure and taken fresh photos, but like I said. I am a mom and I'm tired... and I finished the Cheez-its last night. Besides then the next batch of photos will make the kitchen look reallllly good, even if I haven't changed anything.


Here's the part of the kitchen I don't know what to do with. There's a built in desk on the small wall between the kitchen and living room. If I was designing this kitchen I would either have done a full counter with glass cabinets above for tons of storage, OR I would scrap anything on this wall in favor or putting an island in the middle of the kitchen. Since I'm not designing this kitchen, I'm stuck with this built in. Bleh.


We are using it for what it is - a desk. More a dumping ground for mail and Lucy's school papers. However, I have a desk upstairs and our house is small enough that we really don't need two office spaces, although I do use it sometimes to do work during the day when the kids are home. I'd like to use this space as something else, however with the uneven counter and the opening for a seat, it's difficult to make it look like anything but a desk. I do think once we paint the cabinets I might like the look of this space a little better.


And for perspective, how the kitchen looks out into the living room. 

End. Of. Tour.


A quickie source list:

Kitchen table, chairs and stools: Target
Placemats: TJ Maxx
Light over table: West Elm
Fauxdenza: DIY (Part IPart II)
Art above fauxdenza: DIY 
'D' Plaque: Anthropologie
Glasses: Anthropologie
Striped towel: West Elm
Indigo Moon print: Honey Lake Studio
Fiddle Leaf plant: Home Depot
Planter: Christmas Tree Shoppes
Shelf with hooks: Target
Pinapple print: Society6
Bulldog bottle opener: Pottery Barn
Cutting board w/handle: Christmas Tree Shoppes
Knife set: West Elm
Red striped towels: Homegoods
Runner: West Elm
Canisters: Amazon
Round cutting board: Crate and Barrel
Pendant above sink: Pottery barn
Flush mount lights: Home Depot
Message board: DIY
Print on desk: Grandmother's recipe, framed
Wood wine holder: Target
Upholstered chair: Target



23 February 2015

The Toy Closet (AKA The Best Idea I've Ever Had)

(Embarrassing side note: Please ignore the obvious fact that we STILL have yet to paint the wall behind the stairs. That will be happening with the entire upstairs hallway repaint we hope to do in the next few weeks.)

It's been a while (a loooong while) since I've found the time to write a post (no joke, this one took me a week to write). I miss it, I really do! Life has been a whirlwind filled with preschool, working from home, holidays, crappy weather and sickies after sickies. Most of my days are long and it's usually just the girls and me for 12-14 hours while Jordan is at work. When the girls go to bed, I usually start my work day. Working from home and working at night has left little to no time for blogging. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see how I fill my days.

I'll admit that at mid-February we are starting to go a bit stir crazy. We've had snow, rain, bitter cold, nasty winds, anything and everything keeping us indoors. We try to sneak outside when the weather cooperates (which is rare these days), but often we are stuck inside and have to make do with the toys and crafts we already have. With Christmas came a whole new set of toys, and while they are great for entertaining our kids, Jordan and I definitely had a "where are we going to put all this stuff?" moment. 

Little by little I still try to work on our house. Sometimes it's a simple as Mila takes a nap and I'm zoning out, staring at the wall drunk on no sleep and a caffeine buzz and I get a sudden idea to create a gallery wall in our upstairs hallway. Being at home all day, every day can be a curse for a DIYer like me who is constantly surrounded by all the things I want to change/paint/replace/decorate. Not only that, but having two young kids and being surrounded by toys everywhere was starting to wear on me. You can see in some photos of our living room that we have a coat closet under our steps that lead to the second floor. For the first few months of living here we used it as that, a coat closet.



We also used some of the narrow space under the steps to store extra toys that didn't fit in the baskets and toy box that we had in the living room.



My parents bought us an awesome new console table for Christmas from CB2 to replace the vintage dresser we had against the kitchen wall. That simple swap has started to transform our living room/entryway into a real space and I quickly decided that the toys had to go. Don't get me wrong, I love/adore/cherish my kids, but when you enter my front door I don't want you to know I have them (kidding.. sort of). Jordan and I hate clutter, and kids = toys = clutter. The toys needed a new home.


Since we enter the house through the garage/mudroom, it's really inconvenient to have a coat closet by the front door. Jordan and I agreed that it would be a better use of space to turn that closet into a toy closet. We took out the coat hooks and moved them into the mudroom. We then purchased a few pre-cut, stainable shelves from Lowes (the same wood I used for the fauxdenza) and some simple brackets. Within a few hours of hanging brackets and organizing toys, we had this:


Lucy calls it her 'closet room'. It's beautiful and organized and all the toys with the exception of the oversized ones like bouncer, walker, etc. fit in here. Lucy knows where they go and each night before bed all the toys go back in the closet. It's AMAZING.


There isn't a ton of reasoning behind where I put things with the exception of keeping toys with small parts either up on a higher shelf or stored in zip lock baggies in the baskets on the floor. The wicker baskets hold a lot of Mila's toys for easy access since these days she wanders into the closet and starts digging around. Books, board games and puzzles are grouped together but aside from that, things find their way back on some shelf in some order and I'm ok with that.


The set-up was easy. Because of the slope in the wall, we had to do some quick thinking to make it work and still look nice. The closet simply has a 3' shelf, and two 4' shelves, one of which connects perpendicular to an already existing 3' shelf that I installed months ago. 




The photo below shows the pre-existing shelf. We decided we wanted it to butt up against the existing shelf, which left a gap on the left side. It conveniently worked out that we could use that space to tuck away fold up tents and tunnels. It seemed almost like it was meant to be that way. 


With the exception of board games and puzzles, I like to discard the boxes that toys come in. So if you know me personally you've probably heard Jordan make fun of the fact that I have a freezer bag addiction when it comes to organizing toys. Things like tea sets, magnet dolls with a million articles of clothing, My Little Pony and their dozen hair accessories, and other toys that come with too many pieces are neatly zipped up and put away in the striped baskets. It saved me a lot of anxiety when we had the toy box as I hated the idea of a box full of loose toy parts.


I even added hooks to hang Lucy's Doc McStuffins costume and any of her princess dresses she might bring down for the day. I snagged those lion hooks on clearance a year ago from Anthropologie for $3 each, knowing I would eventually find a home for them. 


Our new home is the perfect size for our family, but it isn't huge. Living in a house without a basement or 'playroom' dedicated to all things toys, we need to maximize our space and do it in a smart way. I really think that the toy closet was the absolute perfect solution to our toy storage situation. It might seem that for two kids we don't have a ton of toys, and maybe we don't. That's sort of intentional as I have learned that too many toys means that 75% of them don't ever get played with. Also keep in mind both girls have a number of toys that are kept upstairs in their bedroom closets as well for days when we are playing upstairs. My craft closet keeps us fairly busy on some of those cabin fever days, too. 

You can see in the first photo we snagged the bench from the mudroom and put it along the steps where I had originally put my Target bench (now in our master bedroom). With the toy box empty, it replaced the mudroom bench to double as storage for hats, mittens, scarves, etc. 


The girls now bring their toys out and play on the rug while I make dinner, do dishes, even clean. It actually makes the perfect little play area.

It feels good to post! I hope this post is the start of more to come. Bear with me. :)

03 November 2014

Mila Jane - 6 Month Milestones



We are halfway to having a one year old! 6 months seems almost unbelievable. I am truly trying to soak up every minute, while at the same time I'm loving each milestone. I'm a little late posting this but I figure better late then never. At least she hasn't turned 7 months yet!

  • Just about 15lbs. Gaining weight beautifully and eating great as usual.  
  • Sits up. Can only last a minute or so before she needs a little bit of assistance, but she's getting stronger each day. 
  • Can stand with mild assistance when holding onto something.
  • Is starting to really like her walker and bouncer. Is sitting in each for longer and longer periods of time. 
  • Really focuses on toys and holding them, grabbing them, and of course putting them in her mouth.
  • Starting to use her consonants - dadadadada
  • Reaches toward people when she wants to be held/picked up. 
  • Very clingy to mommy.
  • Less drool (woohoo!), but no teeth yet. Has starting chewing her tongue a lot, so I'm thinking they could be on the way.
  • Loud, loud, loud! Squeals and shouts.
  • Best laugh ever. Her laugh is so genuine and hearty. I don't remember Lucy's laugh being so 'real' at this age. I love hearing it several times a day. 
  • Eats rice oatmeal each night for dinner. Otherwise breastfed. 
  • We've tried 4 solid foods so far (squash, banana, avocado, apple) and she doesn't like anything! She doesn't even want to taste when she sees something other than cereal on her spoon. I even tried mixing with cereal, breast milk, etc. Girl doesn't want anything but milk and oatmeal.


21 October 2014

Fauxdenza (Part 2) - Staining and Styling


Our fauxdenza is finished and we couldn't be happier. In the last post, I showed you how we built the cabinets and hung them along the wall in our kitchen. 


For fun, let's rewind even more and see how things looked pre-shelves. Back when we just had a teeny bar cart.


Don't get me wrong, I love that bar cart and it was an awesome thrift find. Unfortunately, things looked so awkward when we just had the bar cart alone because it was so small and that space is so large. We were in need of a larger, more practical storage solution.


Now that the fauxdenza is finished, that side of the kitchen finally looks complete. The fauxdenza looks like its always been there. I can't quite explain why, but that part of the kitchen also looks larger to me, now. I think choosing a narrow storage solution that ran along the length of a big wall was a smart choice over adding a hutch or large piece of furniture that came over a foot from the wall. 

We spend so much time in our kitchen that it feels good to have this project complete. (Now to find time to work on those french doors next..)


So how did we finish it? 

Once the cabinets were hung, all we had left to do was stain and install the top. I found this gorgeous solid wood panel at Lowes. It was made for staining and the design of the wood planks is gorgeous. By luck, it just happened to be 1'x6', the exact measurement of our fauxdenza. (As a side note they also had other sizes with smaller or larger lengths and widths. )


Once I saw the planked design I was sold and you couldn't convince me to get a piece of wood cut down to size. Here is a closer look at the design of the wood, pre-stain.


And how things look mid-stain. The color I chose was Rust-Oleum American Walnut. I wanted something that would compliment the kitchen table set and my usual go-to for all things stain (dark walnut) just wasn't going to cut it here. I needed a warm, red tone. This is actually the color I should have done our dressers in our bedroom to better match the nightstands, but oh well. 


Three coats of stain and two coats of polyurethane (with a very fine sand between, this is key) was all it took before the top was finished. I couldn't wait to put the top on and start filling up those cabinets and styling the top. We decided right away that this was going to serve as a bar in our kitchen.


We opted not to add wood pieces to the sides of the fauxdenza because we liked the look of a single wood top better. For the look of our kitchen the wood sides would have been too much. The styling of the fauxdenza needs some tweaking, but for now I'm happy with how it looks. I also love the pop of color from my Honey Lake Studio print. 


To prevent drips from ruining the finish of the wood, I'm storing all our bottles in this metal tray I scored from Target a few months back. I'm excited to finally get to display some of my pretty glassware from Anthropologie.


A big pro to having this fauxdenza is that we now have a lot of additional storage space in our kitchen. I wanted to be able to store glassware and other bar accessories in the same area as our 'bar' as opposed to keeping them in the dresser in the adjacent room. Now we finally have everything in one place. 


You can see the vast amount of storage we now have. I'm not done filling those shelves, yet, but I was happy to clear our cookbooks off the top of our fridge and to be able to tuck some of the lesser used bottles away.


Yes we have a lot of booze, but Jordan and I both work (well I used to work) in the booze industry. In the words of Bethenny Frankel "Booze bought this house." So for us it's totally appropriate to have a piece of furniture dedicated to our booze.  


A few shots of the beautiful wood top, because I'm pretty proud of my stain job here. I have definitely improved my staining skills since tackling the dressers. This top is so much smoother and looks so much nicer than my last project. As I mentioned above the key is a good, fine sand between poly coats. Makes a huge difference in the feel of the finish.


Many of the tutorials I read used a veneer edging on their wood tops, but we liked the look of the raw edge and decided to keep it as is. 


I'm still deciding if I want to keep the shelf and frame on the wall next to the french doors. The hooks are convenient for holding the dog collar and leash, but I'm wondering if it looks too cluttered now with the fauxdenza. We are also still contemplating installing a long shelf above the fauxdenza to store some of our pretty glassware. This would mean we would need to find a new home for our painted canvas.


What do you all think? Keep the painting or install a shelf? Keep the small shelf or find a new home?