House Exterior Before & After

You might think that a person who writes a home blog would take really great before and after photos of their major projects. But, in my case, you would be wrong. The before I lifted off the Redfin site and the after was taken on my iphone. Better than nothing though, right?


30th exterior before

house exterior after

Shortest post ever!


Backyard Office Dreams

We are on the move again! This time we are headed to dreamy Bend, Oregon. We are hoping to find a home to stay put in for awhile.  Our wishlist is pretty long and our budget is modest…But something we will need for sure is an office for hubs, as he will go back to working from home. You may remember the adorable home office he built himself a few houses/years ago (if not, you can see it here). While he is handy enough to do it again, he is short on free time these days, so I have been hunting down some pretty pre-fab office options and architect designs. Take a look:

Studio Shed

{studio shed}

backyard office

{Thomas Lawton Architect}

backyard cottage

{Beaman Building}

pod space

{pod space – my personal favorite}

rustic backyard office

{Park City Architects}


{Bunkie Co.}



ecospace backyard office


shipping container cabin

{shipping container cabin}

Dreamy, right? I think he might have a hard time not doing this himself, since when I showed him the last one with the shipping container he said, “I should do that!” Yes, husband. I think you should. Hope I’ve inspired some backyard office dreams for you. If you find something great I missed, please post a comment with a link.


For more inspiration follow this pinterest board, or this post

i ♥ ranch-style homes

I love ranch-style homes (not to be confused with actual ranches, which are also nice). 10 years ago I would have never thought my favorite style would be a ranch. But, I love them. I love the living all on one level (especially since we are in the throws of having little kids who find our downstairs “creepy” and refuse to use that entire half portion of our fairly small house without me glued to their hip). There is something uniquely cozy about the low vaulted ceilings & large-pane windows. I used to dream of a craftsman with a big front porch, now my dreams are all mid-century ranch goodness. Don’t think you are a ranch lover? Take a look at these and maybe you will change your mind:

modern ranch

modern white ranch

{see the entire home here}

modern ranch interior

modern ranch interior

{see the entire home here}

ranch remodel on a budget

ranch remodelled on a budget

{see the entire home here}

light bright ranch

breezy ranch renovation

{see the entire house here}

mid century ranch renovation mid century ranch renovation

{see the entire home here}

modern ranch

modern ranch redo

{see the entire home here}

new ranch exterior

zen ranch-style house

{love the serene exterior of this new ranch. see entire house here}

mid century modern remodel

{see the before and afters of this ranch redo here}


Cozy Spaces

My sister loaned me a book awhile back all about the senses (can’t remember the name, but she might post below if you are interested). It came about because we were talking about how smells take us back the furthest. You know when you are walking outside and all of a sudden you smell that smell of flowers that were at the front of your great-grandmas long driveway in Sacramento – where you visited often as a child – and all of a sudden you remember taking long hot walks to the corner store for an otter pop. You hadn’t even thought of it since you were 3 or 4 and then there it is – all because of the smell of some forgotten flower…Well, anyway for some reason I smell those remind-me smells an awful lot in the fall. The cold mixed with rotting leaves. You get the idea, right? I’ve mentioned before that my favorite smell is woodsmoke, but especially woodsmoke from someone else’s home, while we are taking a cold, wet fall walk…Which of course got me thinking of my favorite cozy spaces. Which led me to today’s post. If you can’t actually get away to one of these places anytime soon, maybe you should curl up with some coffee and have a daydream:


I’m going to admit that while I have a tumblr account I don’t really get it, never use it personally & rarely even look at it. However, while writing this post I stumbled on a tumblr account that has the most gorgeous pictures ever at theyardpdx. You should look at all of them. But in case you don’t here are a collection of my favorites:

rustic cottages and cozy spaces{I should probably just finish my post here, since anything else I might add will pale in cozy comparison…But I will try, so I don’t feel like a blog cheater by just showing you someone else’s collection}

storm king ranger station{this is the lovely Storm King Ranger Station in the scenic Olympic Peninsula, worth the drive if you live in the Northwest, you can’t rent the station but you could stay in the nearby Lake Crescent Lodge}

tiny cottage on Galiano Island{this adorable cottage on Galiano Island, British Columbia is by far the cutest home I have ever seen that was built in the 1980’s}

red barn on Kinderhook Farm

{Just when you thought I forgot there was color in the world I post a huge red barn! You can rent this perfectly rustic space on Kinderhook Farm in Valatie, NY for a farmstay. No TV or internet, just lots of happy grass-fed animals & fresh-air. Yes please!}

floating cabin in France{how about this beauty at Les Sources de Caudalie in France}

Whitegates Cottage in UK

{wouldn’t you like to have tea in front of this fire at Whitegates Cottage? You can rent it through the UK National Trust}

Treehouse at Treehouse Point in Washington State

-{this is a tree house you can rent at Treehouse Point in Washington state.  As a child my absolute favorite thing at Disneyland was the swiss family robinson tree house, so you can imagine my disappointment when I went back last year and found they had turned it into tarzan’s house. lame. Maybe If I stayed here I could imagine I was part of the Swiss family}


Now that I have got you daydreaming I will leave you with this poem, by Robert Louis Stevenson (from A Child’s Garden of Verses}

Autumn Fire

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

Small home love

When we were childless we spent 2 years remodeling a 2800 square foot home on a pretty lot in trendy Sellwood (a neighborhood in SE Portland). It was really lovely when we finished (you could say it was our “dream home” – If you want to see it click here), and had 4 bedrooms + an office, 2 baths & plenty of room for a family and for my in-laws who come for extended visits from Canada. Around that time I got pregnant with our first child & we realized that if I wanted to stay home and have flexibility financially the house had to go. We sold it & moved to an 1100 square foot home (with no garage) in the suburb I grew up in (Oregon City) a month before our daughter was born. I can honestly say we never looked back. There were certainly times when we wished for that guest bedroom and an extra bathroom, but I loved spending the first few years of motherhood in a little home that kept my girls close at hand (we had Eliza while living there too) and was easy to clean. As you know, we are now upgrading (moving next week – wheee) to a whopping 1536 square feet. It feels luxurious to us. 2 WHOLE BATHROOMS & an attached garage!!! I told Jeff I will finally be able to drive in the garage and vacuum out all the food the girls drop off the floor of my car – what a novelty (he then reminded me we won’t be able to actually park in the garage until he figures out what to do with the large metal industrial carts he bought as a project). I am not against large houses, living in the Oregon rain with little kids I often wish I had a football field sized basement for them to run around in…I just think the charms of small houses are overlooked. Here are the best things I learned living in a small house:

1. Floor plan is everything {a small well-planned space can be more livable than a home twice the size that isn’t well thought-out}

2. You really don’t need all that crap! {I promise, start giving stuff away and you will never stop, I have a goodwill bag going at all times. As I was packing my girls toys for next weeks move I was realizing how little of it they ever use. Instead they use imagination. Franki’s favorite thing to do these days is get food out of the cupboard and “organize” it on the floor as a “shop”}

3. Small spaces means you get to be in your kids business whether they like it or not, & your husbands for that matter. It creates closeness simply because you can’t get away from each other. {this is a good or a bad thing depending on your family dynamics, some personalities need more space}

4. Less to clean.

5. All your utilities are cheaper because you are using less of everything, since you have less of everything.

Enough said, Here are a few small houses I love {some of which make 1100 sqft seem gargantuan, but are also probably lived in by 1-2 person households}:

tiny craftsman home by green pods {Port Townsend plan by GreenPods, 420 sqft}

tiny reclaimed home{Dwell Space by reclaimedspace, 392 sqft}

tiny cottage by Ross Chapin{Egret Cottage by Ross Chapin Architects, 1150 sqft. You may remember me expressing my love for his homes on this post}

Tumbleweed Tiny House{Anderjack by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, the most beautiful 99 sqft I have ever seen}

tiny craftsman home{B-53 also by Tumbleweed, options at 777 or 874 sqft}

Perfect Little House{The Cherry One by Perfect Little House, 1458 sqft – if we were building a little house, these are the plans I would choose, just lovely!}

Bright Built Barn{BrightBuilt Barn by Kaplan Thomas Architects, 700 sqft}

small twisp cabin{twisp cabin by Johnson Architects, 12oo sqft – for a whole house tour click here}

Brick & Stone

I’m in Denver for a few days with my husband & on our walks we have seen some really beautiful brick buildings. I love brick & stone, especially the old crumbly kind (not so much the fake castle, new construction kind). We saw this beautiful church that has been turned into a private residence in the Cherry Creek neighborhood:

church converted into home

 This adorable brick duplex was right behind the church (they sure don’t make duplexes like they used to!):

brick duplex

I am in love with the tiny stacked brick that is above these windows (horizontal over the blue shuttered window and vertical over the brown trimmed windows), it reminds me of this crepe cake I pinned:

stacked brick on house

Last on my iphone picture tour of the Cherry Creek Neighborhood is this house, which Jeff says looks bearded. The brick is hidden under all that green ivy, also a favorite exterior siding application (although the Realtor in my husband couldn’t help but note that an inspector would call out all that living stuff growing on the side of the house a problem, not added charm):

ivy covered house


So, now of course I am thinking of all my other favorite applications of brick/stone. I am especially partial to the well-worn whitewashed look:

whitewashed brick house{originally seen on flowergardengirl}

whitewashed stone cottage{this beauty was the ancestral home of our President Ulysses S. Grant in Northern Ireland}

whitewashed farm house{this charming English home is from the 17th Century & is believed to be a home mentioned in a Wordsworth poem!}

metal home built into brick ruins{this simple weathered steel structure was built off-site and dropped within the confines of the remains of this beautiful old brick building. To see lots more pictures & take a look at the original post go to hindsvik at home – they also happen to sell fabulous vintage finds on their site too!}

adorable stone cottage{this charming stone cottage was originally found here}

perfect small brick cottage{this cottage + this setting = quaint perfection – not to mention the little fenced in garden! Originally found here}


Of course, I also love the exposed brick walls and stone walls inside of a building. My style tends towards modern, clean lines & old exposed brick brings warmth and life to a space, which is a nice contrast to modern styles. These photos of Capital Kitchen designed by Mim Design capture  a perfect balance of modern and rustic:

Capital Kitchen

Capital Kitchen


stone interior walls{these beautiful stone walls are inside a 15th Century home in Croatia. Full house tour originally found on the examiner}

brick interior walls{ love this whole room – originally found on Dream Book Design}

brick interior walls{originally found on That’s Chic}

exposed brick walls in modern loft{originally found on Elements at Home}

exposed whitewashed brick{originally found on coco+kelley}


If only we could all have ancient homes with hidden treasures like brick or stone hiding underneath layers of wall-paper, instead of nasty old plaster that needs a new layer, or boring sheet rock! {on that note, the sheet rock is going up in our house tomorrow :), so I’ll post some progress pictures next week}

details matter

I recently went with my husband to help one of his clients choose paint colors for her home, prior to putting it on the market. As we were leaving she threw in “hey do you think it would be worth it to change out the house number & mail slot?” (picture old, boring font, brass numbers screwed to the siding and a matching mail slot). The answer to this question is always YESSSSSSS! Of course. Especially when you have a $500k+ house that you’ve spent oodles of money on (and are even having the whole exterior painted). Don’t fall short of the finish line, the details make the house.

A few years ago we bought an enormous project of a house, in a really great neighborhood. I took my sales partner (at the time) over to the house and he looked it over and said, “that house looks like a bag lady!” He was right. BUT, it had a pretty lot, in a great location and potential (turns out by the time we finished the project we spent so much money we could have ripped it down and rebuilt it – oh well, live and learn).  It also, unfortunately, had cedar siding. There is nothing wrong with unpainted or stained cedar siding weathering to a soothing grey at the beach, but other applications tend to never quite look clean and finished. It’s all those darn grooves. That being said, we did the best we could and painted it a super dark brown to try and make it look it’s very best. We think it turned out nice – I think that was in large part due to the choice of details (porch light, good front door, house numbers, mail box). Here are the before and after shots (the before one is pretty poor quality, which makes it look kind of charming english cottage – trust me, it was much more cobwebby ‘Wuthering Heights’):

front door after

It is true that to get nice finishing touches you may have to spend a few bucks, but it makes a big impact. I put together a few collections that would look nice together:

{  mail box – Umbra, numbers – Seattle Lux, light – Geoform }

{ light – Kirkham, mail box – Waterglass Studios, numbers – Hamilton Sinkler }

{ numbers – Atlas, light – John Timberland, mail box – Ecco }

{ light – Bellacor, numbers – Ecco, mail box – Ecco }

My personal favorite would be a splurge at $275 but you get 2 for 1, with the combined house numbers & mailbox ( by Austin Outdoor Studio):

Hope this gets you inspired about sprucing up the front of your house. There are SOOOO many options I may follow-up with a second post on this theme.

A Fireplace makes everything better

I am spending a rare weekend away {sans children} with my husband at Skamania Lodge, along the Columbia River Gorge, in Washington. We’ve come here a half-dozen times, & what brings us back again & again is the massive wood-burning fireplace and the view {it’s definitely NOT the food}. The size of the logs used in the fireplace are gigantic.

Skamania Lodge Fireplace

Logs waiting for the huge Skamania fireplace

My favorite smell of all time is wood smoke {followed closely by the smell of daphne}. Cedar is best, and while on a crisp fall walk is the preferable time. But really, I like it at anytime and anywhere. Even when I go into a home where the fireplace isn’t properly venting and it has that weird, musty, wet wood smoke smell, I like that too.

I have a pretty short list of absolute wants in my next home:

1. Wood-burning Fireplace (2-3 would be nice too).

2. Some place that gets good afternoon sun for a garden.

3. Gas cook-top.

4. Potential.

I know…not closet space, not a huge master bath, not a 3-car garage, not even the more virtuous home attributes like hardwood floors & original charm. Those are all nice, but I think a fireplace covers over a multitude of house flaws. In one of our previous houses we took out the perfectly good, relatively new, gas insert and converted it back to wood.

Fireplace before (after insert was taken out)

Fireplace After (back to a functional wood-burning fp)

Some people thought it was weird and very un-modern of us. But other true fire lovers understood. I hear all the time about all the mess & effort of real wood – – but if you are honest with yourself is gas even remotely in the same category as homey, delicious, soothing, inviting, ancient wood fire? I think not! Here are some of my favorite applications of the wood-burning fireplace:

originally found at the elements of style blog

originally found at

This Wittus design is my personal favorite because it can be added to a home that didn’t come equipped with a fireplace and has a real minimal beauty to it:

Wittus fireplace original found on