About Me, design + style, house reno

Day in the life + a really, really low quality Advent-ish home tour

December 20, 2016

Thought I’d kick it a little bit old school today with Christmas being just a handful of sleeps away, and most bloggers having fallen silent in the lead up to the Silent Night. I wandered around the dirty house snapping some phone pics after driving to school this morning to drop off “free dress” clothes to a very, very angry kindergartener whose mom was up too late alternating between rubbing a barfing kid’s shoulders and finishing this excellent book until o’dark thirty and forgot and sent him in his uniform.

How’s that for a run-on sentence?

Anyway, it’s past noon here in the Mile High city but I’m dressed only in the very loosest application of the term. My new Costco leggings are dreamily soft, but I would not recommend leaving the house in them without a long tunic or skirt situation. Which compounded the awkwardness of this morning’s jeans + thermal handoff to the aforementioned kindergartener. I’ll just leave it at that.

We’re kind of hanging on by the loosest of threads to our Christmas anticipation over here with one definitely sick kid who was mysteriously well enough to go to Tae Kwon Do last night, but who climbed riiiight back aboard the vom train around 11pm last night. Thankfully, he doesn’t have school on Mondays and Tuesdays this year, so we haven’t exposed anyone aside from his poor little martial arts buddies. And nobody else has yet to hurl. Crossing every digit and pleading with heaven to spare us from a holiday puke fest.

Anyway, on to the house tour, shall we? I actually love this house more and more each day that we edge into Christmastime, because it just calls out to be decked in candles and garlands and tiny Little People Nativity figurines and broken ornaments. The weirdly green mossy fireplace stones almost look intentional when festooned with my festive dead Trader Joe’s eucalyptus branches.

Also, I realized that I’ve hardly shared any pictures of what this new place looks like, save for a handful of hideous 70’s before shots, and like a grade A creeper, I will admit that I love looking at pictures of other people’s houses. Especially if they are A. significantly more beautiful than mine or B. just as sketchy looking up close.

Keep option B in the forefront of your mind as we tour, mkay?

It seems that Evie will be joining us on this little virtual reality excursion, because since her 3rd birthday five whole days ago, she has ceased napping but also ceased using diapers altogether, so while my introverted soul recoils from the extra hours on duty, my wallet is sighing with relief at having just!one!kid! in diapers for the first time in 4 years.

She just walked into the kitchen asking me for shrimp and vitamins: “Babe, where are the cups? Do you know, honey? I need a glass of water. And some shrimp and my vitamins.”

Without further ado…

Let’s start in the kitchen, shall we? It’s where I spend 89% of my time. Not cooking, exactly, but pulling slices of turkey out of the meat drawer and flopping them in front of various people’s noses. And retrieving clementines to peel. And mostly picking up IKEA plastic cutlery because I’m too dumb too committed to Montessori to move the kid’s stuff up into a higher cupboards. Plus, as you’ll soon see, there are precious few cupboards to be had.

Let’s start off with a candid shot of Luke and his persistent love interest, the garbage can. Treasures in, treasures out. So far I have retrieved numerous forks and knives and not a few toys and once my phone. He, in turn, has fished out many a plastic strawberry carton and egg shell to cackle with delight over.


Moving into the expansive belly of the galley kitchen, we have the … entire rest of it:



And a gentle candid shot of a little human hard at work. See how masterfully he empties the cupboards and learns all about the world around him by trashing it? Poetry.



Lest I be remiss, I’ll end the kitchen portion of our tour with an action shot of the cat drinking water off the floor. Is this because she has none in her dish? Or is she just an opportunist like the rest of the family? A lady never tells.

Moving out of the kitchen into the dining room, oh wait. I forgot to turn around and show you my “office” and the pantry. Hang on.


(My coworkers are ever present.) See that cleverly-disguised-in-white-latex 90’s tv/entertainment center situation? No? Just a pantry? Good. Move along.

And this? This is where all the magic happens:

Moving back through the kitchen to the dining room, which you may remember had floor to ceiling orange wood paneling, aka “vertical shiplap” plus tootsie roll brown wall-to-wall carpet, I’d say we’ve made some real improvements.


As you can see, it gives us an almost panoramic view of the main level of the house. We’ve scratched our heads over how we could gain more space for a bigger table and more chairs, but,


There really isn’t any space to take from. That wall is lined with the major kitchen appliances in an already slender galley kitchen, and then the fourth “wall” of our dining room is really just the enormous jut of the hulking stone fireplace the previous owner installed as a questionable aftermarket design “upgrade:”


Still, it fits the 6 of us when we don’t have company. And when we do? We make it work. We had Dave’s parents and 3 of his adult siblings over for Evie’s birthday dinner, and we crammed 11 humans around that oval, yessir we did. It was an intimate and festive affair.

Moving into the living room/family room situation from the dinning area, you can see the front door and the entryway that leads to my office/the kitchen. The main level of what is effectively 3.5 levels is pretty small and kind of set up like a circle, so the kids have a sort of track to run. Which they do.


If you turn back around you can see the fireplace and the edge of the dining room table:

(And I have to admit, that fireplace which is weird and hulking the rest of the year, it does shine at Christmas)


This is a shot standing just inside the front door, watching my kids learn Latin declensions watch Netflix. #memories





And then turning to the left, my favorite little corner in the whole house. I love to curl up in that perfectly distressed leather chair with the great hammered brass trim (that I thrifted for nine freaking dollars) and read at night. Paint colors in this room are Sherwin Williams for HGTV “Passive” grey and “Marshmallow” white, if anybody cares. (Primed the wood paneling with oil-based death smelling Kilz and then slapped 3 coats of paint on it before almost asphyxiating, in case anyone is looking for a good wood paneling painting tutorial.)


Moving into the entry way and looking back towards the kitchen, we head upstairs to the main bedrooms. (We also have a basement that we’ve framed out a 4th bedroom for the big boys in, but 4 months in and they’re still sleeping in what will eventually be the family room/playroom, because hanging drywall is one thing, but tape and texture is a whole other beast. Which we have yet to tame. Maybe I’ll do a separate post on the basement next time, because this is getting loooong.)

So anyway, here’s the entryway, as seen from the kitchen/my office. If you walked forward towards the front door, you could turn left and look back into that previous view of the fireplace and couch. 20161220_093115

If you turn right at the cheetah print scarf, that would take you down to the 1/2 level of what I’ve dubbed our tri-and-a-half level house, which houses the laundry room, the entrance from the garage into the house, and a weirdly large bathroom that I have big plans to convert into a mudroom with some floor to ceiling beadboard and built in shelves. Backpack station be mine.


Ominous drop off, no? Ask Luke how he knows it’s so. (Also, proof that one shouldn’t drink and tile. I am not making any judgments on the previous owner’s soul, just observing the dangers of mixing home improvements with ever clear. Which I presume would be the necessary fuel behind such a design choice.)

And the laundry room, which has dreamy light and would look amazing with a tasteful little chandelier and a pocket door swapped out for the regular one, wouldn’t it? A girl can dream.


Turning back towards the front door and looking right around the corner from this perilously not-to-code stairwell, we have this little number:


Which you can bet your bottom dollar I’ve fantasized about stripping down to the solid wood and doing some kind of rich coffee colored stain on the treads, but…kids. Who keep falling down the gently carpeted too-short planks and cause me to raise some praise hands every time I hear little heads hitting polyester padding and not wood.

Upstairs on the left we have the sole functional shower in our palace with 4 bathrooms. That’s right, 4 toilets, but only one reputable shower that does not cause mysterious waterfalls to pour out of the front of the house. Dave re-caulked our master shower about 3 weeks ago, to be fair, but we’ve been – okay, I’ve been – too afraid to test it in freezing temps lest lest the leak problem be deeper than we realized. One shower for a family of 6 we can handle. Burst pipes in the dead of winter, not so much.

So this beauty was also floor to ceiling orange wood paneling. How lucky are we?? And I Kilz’d it and nearly sent myself to urgent care in the process, and I solemnly swear never to paint again without a respirator or at least a high quality mask. Or maybe just never paint again, ever. Like, never.

But it looks so much better white. Even if it does give off a bit of an unintentional birchwood forrest vibe. Ah, well:



What’s that you say? Not enough shots of wilted eucalyptus in mason jars here? Wait, wait. Don’t click away to Pinterest yet. Here:



(This post sponsored by 222.4 million germs and parenting guilt surrounding oral hygiene decisions.)

Moving down the hall past the bathroom, we have the master bedroom which has great, dreamy lighting. Unfortunately I’m so attached to the airy look of the daytime lightning the white curtains provide, we no longer have blackout quality sleep at night.

But look how pretty:





Some laundry in the bottom of the shot. “For relatability”


And my decorative scarf rack, aka the only color in this entire whitewashed and gray situation, according to my beloved. Also, see that painting? My talented friend painted that for us as a belated wedding gift. It’s an original rendering of the view from outside their wedding reception, where Dave and I had our first kiss. (Sorry, future kids who are one day trolling mommy’s blog archives and now grossed out.)

20161220_094407Oh, and see that hideous little snippet of baseboard heating? Gah, those things are ugly. But the heat they put out is dreamy and soft and non-drying and so much better on everybody’s lungs. But the radiator covers are he.i.no.ous. These ones in our room are in the best shape of the whole house.

Oooookay, moving along seriously, let me just dump some shots of our master bath and then Evie and Luke’s room and we’ll call it a day, yes? Totally unrelated, but my awesome next door neighbor just knocked on the door and handed me a note while whispering furtively about candy canes and “coming through the garage door” on Christmas Eve.

The note encourages me to give him a call about “Gaylord the Elf.”

I really love my life.


Hey, I painted that poop brown vanity dark grey myself. Pat, pat. Never mind the shower. Nothing to see here.

Moving on:


Evie’s palace. It’s a little bit bigger than the master, maybe? But with no en suite. So we let her keep it. Meanwhile, her older brothers bunk in the basement like dogs.


I hung a mirror at her height in the closet, and it’s a popular spot for the elves who live here.


Look, here comes one now! Pls note the IKEA super hero bib turned cape. Luke has a flair for accessorizing.



And then finally, Luke’s spartan quarters:


The previous owners slapped a white coat of paint on everything (and I do mean slapped) before they listed this house, and I’m so glad they did, slaps and splats and all, because it makes a world of difference to have a clean, blank slate to start from. We installed wall to wall gray carpet throughout the upstairs and the basement, because after repeatedly crunching the numbers on every other potential solution for flooring (and living for 2 weeks with the persistent eau de dog poop) we just LOL’d and said OH WELL IT’S DISPOSABLE ESSENTIALLY, RIGHT???? and then laughed maniacally while spending $$ (but not $$$$$$$$) to coat the floors in bodily fluid catching fabric stretched and tacked down tight to all four walls, which I calculate will need to be completed replaced in 4.5 years. But so far I’m really happy with the color choice, which is holding up marvelously to the kid traffic.


And I think at a record-setting 2000+ words, we can call it a day. Tune in next time – or maybe never – for the basement and backyard edition.

And if I don’t see you before then, Merry Christmas!


  • Reply Jacqui December 20, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    A few thoughts:

    1. I love house tours. Thank you for sharing your home!

    2. We bought these pull down shades from IKEA that you could put behind your pretty white curtains and they would block out the light really well when needed.

    3. We just bought a house, less than a month ago, and we have those same baseboard radiator covers. I hate them. They’re ugly and fall off all the time, but they do keep the place toasty. I have dreams of getting the child proof ones that are a bit more attractive.

    4. We also have a poop brown vanity in our bathroom and I don’t know why I didn’t consider painting it, but now I’m inspired!

  • Reply Leora December 20, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I loved your house tour and the commentary too!

  • Reply Monica Kopecky December 20, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Sweet and hilarious post. I love it! I’ve been in my new home for 8 months, 1800 square feet. It’s a tri or bi level, I don’t even know. You come in the entryway which is decently big and go up, down or to the garage.

    The one area where we differ is I barely saw any children’s toys. Where are they?!? My girls have toys in their room, in the basement and in the den/family room. Maybe yours are in the basement. Can’t wait to see your next house post!

  • Reply Diana December 20, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    I loved this! It’s refreshing to see something real and normal, not what many style bloggers will post as their “embarrassing” befores. The fireplace looks so perfect with the stockings!

  • Reply Ashley S. December 20, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I love this.

  • Reply Mary December 20, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Your house looks beautiful Jenny! Commentary hilarious, as always!

    Also – I have a guess for what the bell is for in the bathroom (housing 4 of the same age group in my house right now) – but was curious what it was for…?

  • Reply Brittney December 20, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Cute!! I love house tours (especially, un-staged ones), thanks for sharing!

  • Reply jeanette December 20, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Your home is full of warmth, reflecting you well. Thanks for showing it to us.

    I had the same thought on a blackout roller shade for your master bedroom window and the same question about the bathroom bell and the same thought on your wonderful fireplace with stockings (and love the O Antiphon chalkboard note…). You have a lovely window view in your office and I envy the window in your laundry room…

    If I were looking to expand your dining area, I’d make the living room into a big dining room with the cozy fireplace, the picture window, and all the floorspace you would need, reposition the leather chair over to the spot where the Christmas tree is (giving it the library/dining room feel) and put the sofa in the area where the table is right now. I don’t know the dimensions of your current dining area, but possibly the smaller chair would fit right beneath the “Do all things with love” canvas (but don’t trip over it on the way to the dining room). Of course, you’d have to get an electrician to add ceiling fixture wiring ($$) and put the dining light there, but your dining room would be much roomier and a real gathering spot. It would be a very well used space. People do tend to gather around the table for conversation and coffee. Or wine and cheese. Or dessert. Or game night. Or help with math. Or that school project. Make it work for your social gatherings and family life at the same time. Nothing says the living room has to be the living room (unless you really need it to be).

  • Reply Ellen December 21, 2016 at 6:13 am

    I also love seeing real homes. And yours is lovely and so neat! Your minimalism has really paid off, unless the clutter is all in closets, as it would be in my house.

    My one thought was how pretty a blue accent wall would be at either end of your kitchen. A light shade would go well with the grey and white tones of the rest of the house. But then shades of blue are like the Gaines’ ship lap for me.

  • Reply Deb December 21, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Love the tour! And I so relate to the room reno–we just did one in our home and once the drywall was hung I was all, “Sweet! The room is almost done!” Au contraire…I forgot about the taping, mudding, sanding, mudding, sanding, mudding, sanding grossness. Our entire house was coated in white dust for what felt like forever until we were finally at the point of priming. Now we literally are almost at the point of done–just have to hem and hang the curtains and viola! It gets better–one piece at a time 🙂

  • Reply Caroline December 21, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    “Slaps and splats” – definitely the new way to paint!

  • Reply Rebecca W. December 22, 2016 at 5:31 am

    I’m also curious about the library bell in the bathroom! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, and for posting right before Christmas!

    • Reply Jenny Uebbing December 24, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      It’s a potty bell! Somebody shared the concept with me when we were struggling with Evie a couple months back. She gets to ding it when she goes. It didn’t work to potty train her, per se, but she now continues to find it highly motivating 1 month into being officially out of diapers.

      • Reply Monica Kopecky December 24, 2016 at 1:23 pm

        What a cool idea!

  • Reply BridgetAnn December 22, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing! Our new-to-us home has a similarly sized main floor…. but we only have one bathroom and my pantry is a 1960’s tv cabinet 😉 I second the quality of radiator heating.

    As to the dining space, I’ve thought about a rectangular or large square table that would fit in a corner for non-eating times, with benches on those 2 sides. We had an eat-in kitchen growing up, but a small one, so the table was pushed up against the wall during the day (bench seating underneath for meal time). Benches stored under the table don’t take up real estate and can fit a lot of bottoms 🙂

  • Reply Cami December 24, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Thanks for sharing, Jenny! I love your fireplace/ builtin/mantel area. I’m a little sad because we wanted that but somehow bought a house without it. Instead we have a 90s impractical media builtin niche which will likely cost a lot to make functional. And no fireplace. Sniffle, sniffle. I have no pretty focal point to decorate like that. I wanted to share though that you can paint the brass fireplace window frame black to say goodbye to brass. A friend of ours did it and it was a nice improvement. I wish you a very Merry Christmas in your new home!

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