styleberry BLOG » where pretty meets practical

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The Holidays have come & gone. I hope you were able to unplug for awhile & enjoy them to their fullest! My husband was on call, so we took it easy and spent quite a few days only going where our bikes could take us. We like quiet holidays & try our best to keep a slow pace and enjoy them without all the fuss. Of course, there was this little ‘ol renovation happening in the midst of it all, but we’re a short walk away from the project so it was easy to pop over as needed. :)

Over the broken work weeks most of the electrical was rewired & all of the plumbing has now been run. Some drywall has gone back up and we have LIGHT!! A house sure starts to look like something you can live in when the drywall starts to go in. So exciting!


(Thanks to this incredible Physical Literacy Gift Guide by my inspiring friend Amanda of Move Live Learn, my kids got a slackline under the tree for Christmas & it occupies them at the new house while I spend countless bits of time on stuff with the contractor that is “soo boring.” HA. Seriously though, it’s an AWESOME addition to our new yard!!)

We ended up having to rewire the whole house and so that came with some big decisions, especially if you are the kind of person who doesn’t like to see cords when you plug stuff in. I did my best to space plan with the stuff that we have, knowing full well that we’d like to replace much of our current furniture over time. We haven’t bought much of anything new in the last decade, so we are well overdue for an upgrade in many areas. However, the renovation is taking all my decorating $$ so we’ll be working with what we have until we can swing more. I think it is always fun to have something to look forward to, so I am staying positive. Or trying to. Especially about that 2000’s cherry wood bedroom set that I cannot seem to get rid of. Someday…! I spent the “redecorating the master” $$ on a fun new custom loft in Everett’s room (!!!), so we’ll wait. Oh, what we do for our children. :)


My materials are trickling in & I am super excited with the progress. Just about everything has been purchased, so now it is time to be patient. Doors, floors & walls will get done. I am so eager!

I shared the design details for the Kitchen & Kids Bathroom with you, and the last space with so many design details to tackle is the Master Bath. I was set on a Marble bathroom. Lots of white. & some grey, to break up the white cabinets we’ll have in so many other rooms. I searched high & low for a good-looking marble that would work with our budget. If I had all the moolah in the world, it may look a bit different, but I am so happy with what I ordered & can’t wait to see it all together!

The space is a generously sized two room area that we are keeping two rooms. We really, really like having separate wet/dry areas in the bathroom. We’ve lived in a few places together as a couple and know what we do/do not like. A separate potty is a must. We’re currently living with one sink in a teeny tiny master bathroom and keep bumping into each other when we brush teeth. (A luxury, I know! I am not sure we’ve ever brushed teeth together on a regular basis!!) We’ve been used to two sinks and were thrilled at this layout, as it will give us the space that we’re so greatly lacking right now. Here’s what it was just a couple short months ago:


While spacious, the vanity builtins were super low–about 6 inches lower than you see these days. It works fine for kids, but for adults, it felt like you’d be bending really far over to wash your face. So we took this bathroom down to the studs and are re-working the cabinetry.


The shower/potty combo is fine as a footprint. There was a door that went right into the bedroom, instead of to the Master hallway–both offering access to the bedroom with the master bedroom door shut. So I decided to remove the second door in the bathroom, as our current rental taught me how little I like to fall asleep staring at the bathroom door. & how much it stinks to have your partner flip on the light when you are asleep, faced that direction. So it’s gone, as are the cabinets. I also removed the tub and we’re doing a stand alone shower. We are not bath people, and I would rather have two separate areas with a generous vanity area than a big bathtub that I do nothing with but dust.

Here is my design plan & inspiration:


Inspired by the image on the upper left, I did three vanity lights set to the sides of the mirror instead of two above them. There are only a couple of things that I didn’t like about this house, and one of them is the lack of natural light in the vanity area. I want to put the light where it counts, right in front of us! So I chose some super simple fixtures, over this beautiful vanity. All are linked on my pinterest page, if you are interested. I ordered 6×12 in honed Arrebescato marble to be set in a herringbone pattern on the floor throughout both spaces. Someday, I would like to either tile or board & batten the walls in the vanity area, but for now–it’ll be drywall. I’ll come up with something fun. I need to leave some projects for “eventually.” :)

The stand alone vanity is grey and beautiful. I had my electrician put the outlets low on the wall, so we can feed all cords IN the cabinets & have nothing on the counter. In the master, I am looking for complete minimalism. I want to protect this space as a simple, uber clean area for us to retreat to at the end of the day. Nothing for my kids to mess up!

The shower & potty area will be mostly marble, as the shower will be tiled floor to ceiling. I designed it with a bench and a sizable inset to not only house our shower essentials without the use of a rusty shampoo rack, but also to showcase the star honed marble I fell in love with the first day I went looking for materials. It was pricey, so to stay on a modest budget I was able to order just a few square feet to cover the big inset that will be on the shower wall. It’s all about compromise. New towel hooks will go where the old door used to be, as will hampers. Darn laundry’s gotta go somewhere! New cabinets will go above the potty to house the rest of the essentials. I want everything out of sight & clean. :)

We’re so so close, I can almost taste it. After we move in, we will have moved four times in 2.5 years. & I am SO so SO eager to settle. For so many reasons. But mostly, just to be able to breathe. To have a refuge for our family that functions well for us. To once again, have a place to pour my heart into that is mine. I am already dreaming about the exterior & how I am going to make the ketchup and mustard facade disappear. I am dreaming about making the mudroom/laundry uber organized. I am stoked to have a true office for the first time ever.

As I turn from design to decor, I get really excited. Most of the big decisions are done…and now the rest of the fun begins. I have been in purge mode for awhile now, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. The always inspiring Nester shared these thoughts on “quieting your house” yesterday and I loved them. Less is sometimes more, and editing is good.


I found this yesterday at an Estate Antique shop here in town & it spoke to me loudly. It was in the half price room & I negotiated it down to a very good price so I snapped it up. The two trains, powerfully going in opposite directions. The cautionary “ding dings” (as my kids call them) signaling that it’s time to proceed, down an open path ahead. I want this house to be full of things that I love, and listening to what I love, really love, is a practice. I’ve conditioned myself to deal seek and force myself to love stuff that is on clearance, because it’s the best price. So over the years I have collected a ton of stuff that was a good deal that I am luke warm on. I am trying very hard to be careful of what I collect from here on out. I have to love it. A lot. & I haven’t bought anything but necessities for this place until I found this. I cannot wait to give it a new home. In my new home. :)

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

While the holiday fun is swirling all around us, I am working on all the “guts” of our renovation. All the “three inches here” and “move that five inches there” meticulous decisions that go into a renovation of this scope. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a distraction from the season but it’s a pretty good one–one that I am grateful to have! Over the last two years I have simplified my life so this season doesn’t get overwhelming. That is paying off as I manage this project while also taking care of all the additional responsibilities that most of us moms have this time of year–which could be completely overwhelming. But every day we get closer to moving in. & that feels good.

Right now we’re in the plumbing/electrical/framing and some drywalling phase of the project. Not much looks a whole lot different, but it’s all the prep work that will help close off the walls as soon as possible so installation of tile & flooring can get done. We’re on the right track, but it’s a long one! We are doing all new electrical and that is a big job.

This week I rendered the kitchen so power is now in the right place. & that led us to the last of the framing–the fireplace. This is open to the kitchen and a major focal point of the space. I have agonized over this piece of the puzzle for so long. It’s wonky and off center and our eight foot ceilings make it really tricky to manage.

styleberry_renovation-week-5_1 Plan A was to drop the firebox to the floor so we could mount the TV over the fireplace. I did not love this idea–at all–but we were knocking out all the walls the TV could go on & there is a giant wall of windows on the other side. It was seemingly the only option. So I was going to use the fireplace as the center, and built-in shelving on both sides for balance. The right side would have to be built out into the room a bit (HVAC is behind that wall–we can’t extend into it), and the left would be able to be a little deeper into the existing niche. But then they demo’ed.
styleberry_renovation-week-5_2 Once the wall was exposed we learned that unless we wanted to do a big roof patch & structural reinforcement, the firebox was going to stay right where it was. Not dropping. & four inches off center. This meant no TV over it & on to plan B.

So what I decided to do was remove a little less of the wall we were knocking out on the other side of the doorway (on the right,) which will accommodate a flush, wall mounted TV. We’ll have a small cabinet to house the components & are having all the wiring hidden in the wall. & I am accepting that this is a renovation–not a new build–and that comes with a side of imperfect. Here’s a peek at Plan B:


All of these image sources are linked on my Pinterest Board–and each has contributed to my final composite image. With every step I take on this project I remind myself: LESS IS MORE. Simplicity. Function. Casual. Cozy. That is what I am after. I want a really cottage-y, mixed size stone on the fireplace in the middle. It is off center a smidge–and while the firebox will be centered to the stone center column (extending the left side of the brick part that is cut off above) it’s still going to be a bit off.

Instead of adding more cabinetry (which will be visible in the kitchen & playroom from this space) I am opting for floating wood shelves in a niche on the left. Flooring will extend into the niche, but there will be a drywall header on the top. These shelves will be more for decor than function–as I plan to use the playroom for most storage we’ll need for books & toys.

On the right side, (oh, the darn right side!!!) I have decided to just keep is simple. It has to be flat because of the HVAC unit. Paneling seemed too fussy. Ledge shelves were too cluttery. Plain drywall seemed too boring. So I am going with a wide plank shiplap. Still simple, but with a little added interest, bringing a casual vibe to the space.

We’re also pulling from the gas line that runs to the furnace to bring gas to the fireplace. I am getting some gas logs for in the firebox but opting for no glass for now. We can always add later, but I’d like to keep it open and see how we like it. The hearth will extend out about a foot from the firebox, so it should be just fine. In the end, as much as I love wood burning, I think that for emissions and safety reasons gas is the better option for us right now. Whew. Now on to the next big set of decisions!

Wishing you & your family a wonderful holidays! I will be stepping away for week six to spend time with my kiddos. But I will fill you in as soon as my they are back in school! We should be installing tile by then–how exciting! Xoxo.


photo cred: Sara K Blanco Photography

  • kristin - loving the updates on your home, and reading your blog again. we aren’t doing a gut in our latest house (we aren’t a military family- but have move 9 times in 12 years… nuts) but it is one where we have plenty of choices to make. Trying to be wise, and frugal. :) Thanks for the inspiration and also the information! hope your holidays are fruitful with family!ReplyCancel

Before we started the renovation I was terrified about the construction timeline landing over the holidays. BUT, then it hit me: Holidays = Sales, & what better time to purchase all the pretty things for a house then smack dab in the middle of the best deals of the year?! Add to that the reality that most people don’t want to be under construction during the holidays, so contractors may be available & willing to work during this “slow” season & my nerves settled. The timing was actually pretty perfect! So here we are! Demo is done & we are now in the slower phase of plumbing and electrical when not much changes every day. But it will again soon!

This renovation has exercised my deal-hunting skills to the max. I am absolutely stretching our budget as far as I possibly can to make this place our dream home-for-now. I am trying to make decisions wisely and that means I can get more for my money. & why wouldn’t anyone want to do that?!

While everyone was shopping for kids & family on Black Friday, I was taking full advantage of the best appliance sales of the year and stocking up on all of the materials for our kitchen. Then last week our poor UPS guy unloaded my big farm sink & the endless boxes of fixtures and kitchen details & we were overrun with boxes. Thank goodness for the dumpster! Last week I showed you the general layout of the newly opened kitchen & today you’ll get a peek at the kitchen design board. I am still working out specific details, so final product links will come later, but you can always peek at my pinterest board for the not-yet-final details.

So at long last…here’s where I am headed! :)


I have always wanted a white kitchen. The brighter the better. However, I knew I didn’t want it to be ALL white. I need some contrast in my life. So inspired by this gorgeous kitchen by Pinney Designs, I got to work. Light floors, white cabinets, slightly grey backsplash & a countertop that tied it all together was my goal. I fell deeply in love with some pendants by Restoration Hardware and knew I wanted to add mixed metals and warm woods into this space as well. I wasn’t sure I was going to fit the RH fixtures in budget but a couple weeks ago I made the trek to the RH outlet and started digging. I opened every box I could and hit the JACKPOT. I found exactly the pendants, in exactly the size I was looking for and got both of them for well under what one would have cost at full retail price. Meant to be!!

As much as I love the brass hardware trend making the rounds, I knew I wanted a commercial style kitchen faucet and I really wanted to play with mixing metals in this space. Plus, I am going to have a second mini faucet for our instant hot/filtered water and they aren’t yet made in bronze–so that made that color a deal breaker. Brushed nickel hardware with bit of antique bronze and oil rubbed bronze will be scattered throughout. I don’t want it match matchy–but it will all blend. Light floors with slightly darker, warm wood accents & bamboo roman shades. Grey floors in the adjacent mudroom. Bits & pieces of reclaimed woods + antiques that I have taken from my grandmothers’ kitchens. I am just so excited to put this place together I cannot even tell you! I have a whole other article on functionality that will be coming up when we have the final kitchen design done–because as much as I love the design stuff, function is of utmost importance. So look for that soon! BUT…until then, I have to share these with you.

We had a family session with Sara K. Blanco scheduled and were set to be massively rained out. WELL, she threw out this “crazy idea” (thinking I would hate it): shoot in our totally gutted house. & I JUMPED!! YES!! Why not capture this beautifully messy part of our story in the space that we’ll soon call home! The light is a dream and she sure didn’t have to ask me twice! So there we were. One Tuesday afternoon my kids rode their scooters over & the rest is history. Magic, pure magic, Sara!! :)




styleberry_renovation-week-4_4 styleberry_renovation-week-4_2


I like real photography. I like moments that happen spontaneously. Snippets of our actual life. & moments that are imperfect and dirty and messy.

Like when the dog eats your garland.



Thank you, Sara, for chasing us through the dust!! You are so talented. Local friends, book her!!



Fun already being had in the kitchen. :) I can’t wait to have her back when it’s done. <3

  • Marianna - I love it that you are back here, writing frequently. You were missed friend. Your new kitchen is going to be amazing. Can’t wait for the post of the apocalypse :)
    The photos are so warm and happy! A joy to see!ReplyCancel

We are knee deep in the mess of demo and today is probably the very last day–so hard to believe! I have been very busy making all the final selections for finishes and getting everything on order so it gets here by the first of the year and it has been quite the process! Luckily, I have had my “dream house” in my head for a very long time so making these decisions has been super fun and relatively easy. While I would never call this my dream house, this is a project that has been amazing for our family & the end result will be a very functional home that lies within our budget for this stage of our life in San Antonio.

We are a military family, and with that comes some uncertainty. We don’t get to pick what city we live in. Sometimes we have to leave when we don’t want to. Sometimes we have to go places we do not want to go, for short lengths of time that make home ownership/renter life a frustrating process. We’ve moved five times in the last twelve years and when we move into this house, it will be move number six. So to do a renovation of this scope as a military family is a pretty big deal! It IS a dream, even if it isn’t the BIG budget dream in my head. It’s still good to have “someday” dreams in there. :) I feel fortunate that we have enough stability with my husband’s career field that we think we’ll be here awhile. There are only two military hospitals in the US that can support his specialty, so we’re hoping to stay here for decent amount of time. His commitment ends the year Everett graduates from High School, so if we are lucky, there is a chance this will be the last house my kids will call home before they go to college some day. That possibility made our house hunt all the more challenging–we needed room to grow. Our family is complete, but we needed the space to nourish teenagers and guests and our introvert lifestyle–somewhere with lots of corners to go settle down and read.

Living in so many homes over the last decade gave me a really good idea of what I like and don’t like. Our current rental home (the WORST of them all) has provided even deeper clarity–and much of that surrounds the closed kitchen. I’ve talked about it before, but the most crucial element of our house hunt involved the possibility of opening up the kitchen.  If this wasn’t possible, the house would not work for us. The kitchen bones in this house were just perfect for my vision & while the family room is a little smaller than I would like, it will work. Here’s how we’re going to change the pretty square living space floorpan–original on the left, new on the right:


The teal represents the current/future doorways & cased openings. We will be closing off the pass through from the kitchen to the old dining room so I can create a U shaped, eat in kitchen. The “eat in” part actually bumps out beyond the wall line in the drawing above.

When you walk in the entry way, this is the view. To the right is the bedroom hallway, to the left is the playroom & this is what will be the combined family room/open kitchen.


If I walk in & turn back a bit, I can see into the playroom. My original plan included opening up the wall with the sconces on it so this was a big giant room–but those plans came to a screeching halt when we learned that this is a major load bearing wall. Having a house that is standing trumps my desire to have a totally open space. This is actually going to be great–a cased opening gives us the ability to still put furniture on walls, as the massive windows make that impossible on most other walls.


Here is where we are today:


Where the wall stands will eventually be a 9ft peninsula with stools tucked under on the family room side. The sink will be centered on this peninsula & there will be two pendant lights over the top. Directly behind it on the other side of the “U” will be the range, centered. On the adjacent wall, the bottom of the “U” shape, will be the refrigerator. This makes that perfect working triangle & lets there be LIGHT & light & more light all through the space!


Just through the doorway will be the eat in kitchen area. The cabinets were removed to accommodate a full size kitchen table. You can see the laundry/mudroom through the doorway on the other side of the kitchen. There is actually an afterthought third half bath back there too, which will be converted to a pantry. YAY for a pantry. I really miss having one!


Below is a view of the entire “eat in” area. Removing the cabinets & peninsula make it easily accommodate the big table I will put there.


The wall the sink is on is going to take a little more work to remove than anticipated, as one roof support lies directly on that wall. The header will be moved into the attic & this should be open by the end of the week. When I close my eyes I can see the big countertop that will be home to many fun projects, from Christmas cookies to homework & everything in-between!



& the cased opening to the playroom should be passable without support today–(peninsula is on the right, if you are turned around) and that means we are well on our way to making this space what I had envisioned!

Builtins will flank the big window in the playroom & while I had originally planned to have an angled bench run under the window, I don’t think it would be very functional. Instead, I am leaving it open and plan to use that space a little differently. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t design this space around the holidays though–as I can’t imagine how dreamy this is going to look with a round twinkly Christmas tree right in the middle! :)


The feeling I get when I see my vision come to life is pretty amazing. I know we are all born with different gifts and often it takes a very long time to figure out what your gift is & what makes you tick. For me, choosing not to get a design degree has long been something I questioned. This career actually popped up on a personality test during my career counseling my senior year of college. But back then, I had a soon-to-be-husband heading to medical school and I was going to be the breadwinner. I couldn’t go back to school. & my career after college taught me a lot. It’s part of my story. But here I am–still wondering what’s to come. Wondering what I am going to make of my professional life from here on.

I stumble a little bit when I describe what I love to do. The truth is, I love designing homes. The fact that my formal education doesn’t involve this leaves me hesitant to call myself a designer. I stick to decorator or interior stylist. But I AM designing this house. I am not just decorating. & I LOVE it.

My husband & I keep having the conversation about what comes next. Where do I go from here when this project ends? Because it will. Soon. & I have to keep doing this. It is creative work, it is fulfilling work. & while I still have so much to learn, I have learned so very much along the way. My new story is well under way. & that, is pretty darn exciting. :)

Next up: the functional design & kitchen finishes! To say my kitchen has kept me up at night is an understatement. It is MY space & it has received the appropriate amount of my attention. I can’t wait to share the rest of the pretty & practical plans with you!

  • Missy B - I have your next project… thinking about renovating our kitchen. Would be interested in hiring you as my interior stylist. ReplyCancel

Thanksgiving is always one of my favorite holidays, as there is nothing I enjoy giving more than nourishment by way of healthy, delicious food. This year my parents joined our feast and it was so nice to have an extra set of hands in the kitchen–Thanks Mom! We’ve been living on leftovers ever since. YUM, YUM! Having my parents in town also helped me run all kinds of house errands while my kids were off from school and I got a lot accomplished. Navigating the scene in a new city is always a challenge, but I have found my footing & know just where to go now. I am just waiting on some final bundle deals & will pull the trigger!

One of my favorite & most essential to our family happiness rooms is our shared kids bath. Our current rental has taught me SO much about what we need to be happy campers in the bathroom. Like…having separate hot cold valves in the shower makes my littlest a dependent showerer and I want him to be able to do this independently. I cannot wait for a single handle again! & dual sinks would be a dream because the fighting over the sink…yikes. & a laundry basket in the bathroom helps immensely! A separate shower from vanity would be HUGE. The list goes on!

When we found this fixer upper, this second bathroom was one of the MAJOR pluses in the entire house. It has beautiful built in wall to wall cabinets that are in impeccable shape. It has a separate potty/shower room. It has a massive 8 foot countertop with two separate sinks. & storage, storage, storage. It may be the loveliest shade of bubblegum pink right now, but the bones are spectacular. & I cannot even find a reason to ditch the cabinets, so I am keeping every single one. & leaving the insides pink. What a fun surprise! :)


That blue carpet is actually sitting OVER a big pink tile floor. A lovely addition…(!!!) While this bathroom may have sent many people running I couldn’t get over the size. It is SO big & the storage is superb! So much is just cosmetic!


I knew that I wanted to stay pretty budget friendly on this bathroom and keeping the cabinets sure helps. They will be painted white and get some fun hardware. I knew I wanted a statement floor but the square footage on this bathroom is pretty large for a bathroom. I have looked up and down at cement tile, but it is quite pricey for the amount of space I have to cover, AND I haven’t found a pattern that didn’t feel overwhelming for the space or that I felt like I could live with for a long period of time. It is a BIG commitment! I had settled on a pretty but inexpensive DalTile octagon dot floor when I found THE ONE. I was browsing at a Trade Only tile shop here in town and this line of ceramic tiles caught my eye. I found one that took my breath away & the rest is history. I may not be able to commit to pattern but I sure can commit to stripe and this was IT!


From then on, the bits & pieces of the story came together & I overhauled a few decisions that I had made prior (grey painted cabinets + white floors + quartz counters). I decided to go white on the sturdy ‘ol cabinets, which will help brighten the space, especially the vanity area which has no natural light when the potty door is closed. kids-bathroom-inspiration-board_styleberry In a further effort to stay budget friendly, I am going to go with a butcher block counter (time for an ikea trip!) instead of a quartz counter, which will save me about $1500. SCORE. The counters are really, really low (one reason we are removing them in the master) and while great for kids, do feel a little dated. They are made nearly 6 inches higher these days. Therefore, I am going to replace the sink with a vessel sink on top of the wood counter, but one that is still inset, so the bowl still dips below the counter, minimizing splashing. Normally I would run the other direction from a vessel sink–they are NOT my favorite–but they totally make sense on such a low counter top. I also made sure that the bowl profile is very low, making them almost feel like a hefty built in. I know it’s a bit risky going for a wood countertop, but with the amount they are used in kitchens, I figure water and a little toothpaste can’t be that harsh. We’ll see. We can always replace down the road pretty easily if they don’t work out. But I really wanted a warm wood effect amidst all the grey & white! I am going for a fixture with one handle on the kids baths because as pretty as those dual handle faucet sets are, well, an all in one unit means four less handles to keep clean. Practical is what I am after!!


I’m on the hunt for some great vanity mirrors for above the sinks & the wall behind will be shiplapped. I’ll go for industrial style lighting–still deciding on metal shades or glass to maximize light. I am all about making it as bright as possible! :)

In the shower/potty room I am keeping it pretty simple. The pink tub was in great shape so I am having it re-glazed white and keeping it. The three shower walls will be tub to ceiling white subway tile with grey grout. Simple, simple. & we cannot forget how pretty that chrome heater is going to be in there!


I may be more excited about this room than any others so far as that floor is just my fave. Hence, you get to see it first!


But right now, the rest of the house is getting demo-ed. The kitchen is mostly gone (!!!) & almost all of the flooring in the house has been ripped up. The wallpaper gets better & better by the week! It is pretty amazing how different it looks already!


Our rental property is the grossest/oldest/least functional house we’ve ever lived in and I cannot WAIT to call this new place home. It will be worth the sacrifice of taking it slow moving here, I am sure. But I am getting antsy! I will always recommend renting in a new city before buying but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Moving twice & the unsettled feeling just plain sucks. But I am convinced that this is all part of our story and there is absolutely no way we would be doing this renovation if we didn’t live here, in this icky house, because I would have NEVER EVER looked at our new house. Ever. Thank goodness for that estate sale! I am grateful every single day. :)

  • Rebecca - I was totally wondering about water with the butcher block counter top and then you mentioned their use in kitchens. I actually have on in my kitchen and while I do have to oil it twice a year, it has held up pretty well. Also I bet you could get it sealed for extra protection.ReplyCancel

  • Sara - Butcher block is lovely, but if its unsealed it will need to be oiled. We had our whole kitchen done with them. We personally oiled them quite frequently (every 2 months or so) to keep them looking nice. You can usually tell when they need to be done as they begin to look dried out. We were also careful about spills as again, if unsealed, they will stain quite badly actually.ReplyCancel

  • Julie M - Love those striped floors! I know that vessels are “out” eith designers but I put them in my new zen master bath just for the funtion and style. They look fantastic!ReplyCancel

Everyone around me is talking turkey & meanwhile I’m all show me the TILE! and WOOD FLOORS! and MARBLE! and FIXTURES! I worried that doing this huge renovation over the holidays would be a drag but let me tell you–if you have to buy an entire appliance suite, doing so over Black Friday is a major win! I think I am going to stretch this already stretched budget even further thanks to these holiday sales! :)

& YES, it’s officially happening! After signing on all the dotted lines, we walked away with keys to our new property! The next day, we signed the paperwork with our contractor and today, we’ll have a dumpster in the driveway ready for all that demo! AHHHHH!!!


After getting four bids for contractor work (this job is MASSIVE) we settled on the person we trusted the most & was the best communicator. I think finding a good communicator is probably the biggest tip I can give you so far–but I plan to revisit this as we move further along with the project. I have a lot to learn!

So how much of this is DIY? Well. Right now, not a lot. I know my limits & I know who I married. My husband has a job that requires a lot of him and especially his hands. Even the smallest cut on his hands poses a problem & this project is beyond our scope of work & knowledge. When we sat down and went line item by line item on the bid sheets, we scrapped what we could tackle later and included what we wanted/needed done ASAP–and what was easiest to do with the walls torn apart. We’ve cut it down to almost the bare minimum which takes up nearly our entire Phase One budget. So the rest will come with time, as you can expect with any well loved home.

On our final walk through of the house the day before closing, I found the most amazing gift on the counter in the kitchen. All of the original hand drawn blueprints from 1959 were beautifully preserved. Everything from the exterior to the interior built-ins & cabinetry is in the bound set of documents and I am just tickled to have them!! Hardly a thing has changed & it is so neat to see these in real life. If I had to do my education over again I surely would have gone into architecture and design. I think. Love, love, love. & I am so grateful to have them!


I mentioned before how perfectly preserved this house is and the retro quirks are some of my favorites. A few things get oohs and aaahs when people walk through the door. Those of you who are following along on Instagram may have already seen these, but they are worth sharing full size to appreciate their antique flair!

This gem of a radio is also a whole house intercom system with matching speakers in every bedroom. This house is set up in a “T” shape, with the kitchen/living areas all on the long side of the house and the bedrooms extend the length of the top of the “T”, through one small hallway. It is very modest in size, so why an intercom was necessary is not something I can grasp, but I know the original owner was a Doctor and maybe this was a fancy splurge? One can only guess! In any case, I am keeping it. :)


Another super retro treat in the bathrooms are these chrome wall mounted heaters. They are functional and in perfect shape. Why you need this in a city where the A/C is still running in January, I just don’t know! But this one in the kids’ bathroom will stay! Sadly, we will build cabinetry over the one in the master. But I can just see it with navy and white subway tile and some warm wood accents!


Another “gasp” feature are all these push button light switches. They are so charming. I do really like them, but we have to have the whole house rewired and updated to three prong plugs & add some recessed lighting so they will have to go. But aren’t they cute?!


& now that I have the ability to go to the house whenever I want (we are renting dark, dreary, depressing place five houses away) I am reminded of all the reasons I was drawn to this old house. In San Antonio, old homes are hard to come by. & when you do find them, they are usually on tree lined streets with massive oaks–which I LOVE. However, trees are not so much conducive to the natural light that I love & require. BUT…BUT! This house! Even with three massive trees on the property (you can see one through the window on the left) it gets flooded with light from the East to the West all throughout the day. & as soon as we knock out a couple of these walls, it’s going to be even better!

This is the kitchen at dinnertime!!


& this is the living room, looking into the kitchen at the end of the day. The wall with the shelves will be removed & there will be a 9ft peninsula with tucked in bar stools underneath. This is where my holiday family gingerbread decorating dreams come to life! The wall to the left will also have a large cased opening looking into the room below.


& this is the front room (future playroom) looking into the formal dining room which we will convert into a reading room/guest room with two big french doors. I am hoping we can stretch the budget far enough to include built in bookshelves on either side of this massive front window (which still is half covered by blackout panels in this picture!). I don’t want to have much furniture in this front room & a built in + bench seat will be my toy storage solution. :)


& lastly…the floors. OH the floors! There are ten different types of flooring in this house. (one additional blue carpet didn’t make the picture) so we will be replacing it all. I plan to run light colored wide planked engineered hardwoods thoughout the space, everywhere except the entry, mudroom & bathrooms. These wood floors are in pretty great shape but are just too dark for my liking. So away they go!


I can’t WAIT to show you some of the materials that I have selected to go on the floor. It has been a labor of love & I am so excited. This process has been invaluable & I am making some amazing contacts here in San Antonio to help become a great resource for my future clients. There is no better way to learn than to DO & no better way to DO than to work on a personal project. We expect to be in the house in about twelve weeks and I am so happy you are along for the ride! Here we GO!!!


  • Amanda - LOVE that you are sharing the process. Keep the updates comin’. It’s going to be beyond beautiful. No doubt about it! xoReplyCancel

  • Vicky - Would you mind sharing what appliances you are looking at? We are in the same boat and hoping to get a good deal this weekend. Specifically curious about dishwasher, stove, and washer/dryer :)ReplyCancel

    • -shawna- - Hi Vicky! That will all come in my kitchen post–but right now the best deal I can find is on a full LG suite. I have always had LG w/d (new this summer) & am very happy with them! There are fabulous deals to be had right now!! Best Wishes!ReplyCancel

  • Pam - OMG! I absolutely LOVE that old radio/intercom system and am so happy that you are keeping it!! That is so cool!!!ReplyCancel

  • Amie Danielson - I’m so excited to follow along! The blueprints are an amazing gift! My CA girlfriend owns a home built in the same era, and she has the original prints framed and hanging on the wall in their home. They’re so fun to see.ReplyCancel

New cities are hard. Finding new friends is hard. & I always say that if I walk away from each stop with just one friend for life, I am a very lucky gal. My time in St. Louis, as hard as it was, came with a new collection of amazing women I get to add to my lifelong friend list. One of them (Thanks, Meg!!) recently introduced me to The Shine Theory, which states that “you shine when the ladies who surround you shine. It finds its foundation in mutual female support and promotes women lifting other women up, instead of tearing them down…When you are constantly with ladies who are passionate, driven, and killing it in general, it allows you to step up your game. Instead of worrying about other’s successes and making comparisons, I was working on myself and using the women who surround me as inspiration.” & as written elsewhere–“When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her.”

YES. Just YES.


& that brings me to this space that you’ll see in a minute. One crisp Fall morning I invited my new friend Amanda to my house in STL. We chatted and connected deeply. We mozied through my house & she was drawn to my work, handiness & bright and personal style. By the time she left I swear she had almost drawn up a contract for me to sign, so I would decorate her home before I moved away. HA. Now, I have talked about my strong ability to say NO to most things, but I couldn’t ever find a way to say NO to her. & her project. It was one of those pivotal moments where every part of me was excited and screamed “Just do it! It sounds so fun and she specifically asked YOU and…and…and…” But then there was that little whisper, the “This is scary, you don’t know all there is to know about doing this, you don’t have a new business plan, you haven’t restructured your LLC yet, you have no time…” The list went on. But I also happened to be in the middle of reading Big Magic at the time. The dance between creativity and fear is a seriously real thing for creative people. Maybe you have felt it, too. For me it’s where my passion meets my work–and I get all weird about getting paid for what I love to do.  Decorating is a tortuous process that I happen to really, really enjoy. The puzzles, the budget, the purposefully eclectic gathering of pretty and meaningful things that go together just right. It’s so fun. & this was a really, really fun project. A perfect way to kick off styleberry creative on the right foot!

So tasked with the goal of making her house a home, we hit the ground running. This room is only half of the project, as you’ll soon see. We were working in a two room space that was a big playroom/art room. The end goal was to carve out a true dining room space and create a new space for her children to make/move/create in the adjacent room. Words like “bright” and “fresh” and “green” were what she was asking for. How is this for a before & after?! (maybe it looks familiar!?! Kids stuff is soooooo hard to sort through…) :)


But I didn’t do this all myself. Concept & design? Yes. But these clients are DIYers & DIY they sure did! A big, huge part of who I am and how I roll comes with a giant side of a “Yes, I CAN do it MYSELF” spirit.  Most of my good friends share this trait with me & I am continually inspired by those who get out there and make it happen. DIY & bargain hunting are in my bones and will be a huge part of any project that I do, personally and professionally. & to work with clients who were ready & eager to tackle projects & be coached on the “hows” and “whys” was a dream!

Part of why I love to share on this blog is to encourage you to go ahead and pick up a power tool, hammer into that wall, use that paint brush and just GO for it. I am always surprised to hear women hesitate to get dirty and make changes in their own houses. & with that always in the back of my mind, part of what I hope to do, is give you a nudge. You are stronger than you think. You are more creative than you can imagine. You just have to try, and fail, and try again. We ALL start somewhere! & we all fail a LOT! I have painted thousands of square footage and still drop paint on the floor now & then. But dang. My clients killed it. Look at that beautifully cut in trim!  styleberry_peacock-farm-2

If you look closely in the “before” shot, you can see a dark & dreary table pushed up against the window. One of my first suggestions was to Chalk Paint (here’s where I show you how to make your own) the table–as it would add instant brightness to the space. This table was a DIY project that she completed with some coaching from me. & I could not be more proud!! It looks FANTASTIC! & allowed us to stretch her budget even further on other fun things.


I just LOVE these bright & bold curtains that we used as the inspiration piece for the rest of the space.

styleberry_peacock-farm-4 styleberry_peacock-farm-1 Adding various collections of seasonal stems and trinkets to a tray in the center of a table can be a simple & easy way to make it feel festive! & that is what I have watched her do with each seasonal family dinner!
styleberry_peacock-farm-7 This affordable Ikea Rug grounds the space against a dark wood floor & the sparkly mirror shoots the sunlight throughout the entire room. It’s like night & day in here.

I cannot wait to show you the rest of the space. My heart always skips a beat when I get to make spaces for kids. I have a BIG heart for creating rooms where kids can be kids…so look for that coming soon!


But for now, especially as we enter the season of sharing dinner at our family table, maybe you can start to think about simplifying your space. It’s so easy to change out stems and add a placemat to make a simple space seem overwhelmingly seasonal. Simple is best! :)

& Amanda, I am so proud of all of your hard work & what you learned to do during this project. I am forever grateful for you. Not only for your friendship, but for all that is you–your energy, your enthusiasm, & the way you go out there & blaze a trail as an incredible #BossLady. I have learned so much from you & smile every time & see this fresh & pretty space. I miss our coffee dates at this table!! Xoxo.

  • Ashley - I’m seriously going to need you to make an extended trip to Kansas to help me beautify my home. Love this!ReplyCancel

    • shawna - I am tinkering with the idea of taking on some E-Design work when I am done! :)ReplyCancel

  • Deanna - WOW! You would never believe that is the same space, or the same table. Gorgeous.

    Did she purchase new chairs, or were those repurposed too?ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - You’re amazing at all that you do. I’m just so happy I convinced you to take this on. Look at it! It’s beautiful! It matches your heart. :) Thank you sooooooo much for helping make my house a home. Remember me when you are famous… xooxoxoReplyCancel

Did you bake any cookies over the weekend? I hope you did! & I hope you loved them! & if you didn’t get a chance, the recipe is ready & waiting! They fit so well within my life goal of creating something Pretty & Practical–as they are as cute as they are delicious, and not too terrible for you! ;)

I digress.

When I think of creating a home, the feeling is not that far off the feeling that you get when you bite into a fresh baked cookie–it’s enticing, warm and leaves you feeling satisfied. But maybe some you prefer an edgier cookie, with dark, decadent insides. Or maybe you like a perfectly formed macaron. Any way you look at it–you likely have a favorite & understanding WHY you love what you love is worth investigating–especially when you apply your preferences to a home.

Pinterest has quickly become one of the best ways to visually catalog home style, but beyond just looking at what you like, I encourage you to really think about how you FEEL about being home. What does HOME mean to you? What do you plan to DO there? A sexy, clean lined modern space is going to feel very different than a tailored, traditional space. Just like an eclectic cottage is going to feel very different from a minimalist midcentury modern home. There is no right way to design a space, but there is a way to do it wrong–and if you create (or have created) a space that you don’t love–then it’s time to make a change! Maybe it is pretty, but totally unpractical. No bueno. Pretty is overrated if it doesn’t work well!! & Pretty is also totally subjective. You can create your own brand of pretty. & it’s best if you do just that!


As I sat down to start drawing up plans for the overall feel of our new house, I was admittedly overwhelmed. I never thought this would be a reality for our family. After such a disheartening house hunting experience, I never dreamed I would actually get to start from scratch on an old house & make it mine. & then it all happened so quickly that I had no choice but to dive right in & start making decisions. I had been collecting ideas here on pinterest for a very long time, but now that I actually had to decide and start prioritizing, I was looking through a whole new lens. An “um, I think I do but I am not sure and really? I can do THAT?! But wait, how much for those?” kind of lens. Reality. ;)

Each of the four homes we’ve owned/rented has taught me a valuable lesson in wants, dislikes and needs. From how I’d like the counter to meet the sink, to light floors being a non-negotiable, to how an open kitchen changes our family dynamic & each house played a significant contributing role in my decision making process for this home. I made a list of things I dreamed for it to be & have made every decision with them in mind–and I encourage you to do the same! Here is mine:


& with all of this in mind, I started creating. I always aim to make the complicated simple & I applied that same principle to this project. One style of door. Same flooring (mostly) throughout. Each bathroom has a specific feel, that is unique, but SIMPLE. I plan to pare down our belongings even further and not move anything into this house that we don’t need, that includes all the furniture I have been saving for “just the right house!” (SO easy to accumulate when you are a military family & you have no clue where you’ll end up next!) I have designed some built-ins that will allow further furniture purging, and I am striving really hard to achieve my goal of negative space in all rooms. Well. Except Caroline’s Room. There is nothing about her that says Negative Space. & I respect that. :)

My main goal for each room is to leave no corner unused, and no corner cluttered. Our new house, despite its dated and petite feel, checked so many of our functional boxes. It is a modest Ranch style house, with no more space than we need, and no less. Each room will have a specific functional purpose and everything has been designed to work with each room’s purpose in mind.

& whether you are moving into a new space, or simply dreaming up ways to better use yours–there are a few important question we can ask to make any space more functional. I ask all of my clients to give me thorough answers to these questions:

  • What do we NEED to do in this space?
  • What do we WANT to do in this space?

& if a space is not working, then we are probably not able to do what we NEED to do in it & it’s time to clear out, reorganize, and only bring back what will make it a useful space. Or maybe you even have spaces that are going completely unused–how can you reimagine them?

I walked through this house and identified each room’s purpose–and I cannot WAIT to walk you through it after we get the keys next week!! The Bedroom & Bath purposes are obvious. & we now have a little dedicated Office, which will serve as an adults only lounge space (or call room…ha!), craft room and dock for our laptops. We’ll have a Family Room that will be open to the kitchen, where we plan to read on the couch, hang as a family or watch TV. We’ll open the former Formal Living Room into this space and make it a playroom area for the kids, where they can build and draw and be kids. & off the new playroom, we have one more room, which will undergo the biggest change in function.

Originally a Formal Dining Room connected to the kitchen with an open doorway, this room is begging to be overhauled. We aren’t formal dining people. We don’t host dinner parties. A casual BBQ is more our style and I couldn’t see having a whole, beautiful room dedicated to an activity that is just not part of our routine. We’ll have a casual eat in kitchen & I am creating a bar top and that gives us all we need for dining function. & by losing a doorway to this space, this means I am gaining a whole wall of cabinets in the kitchen and getting a “flex” room, which I’ll turn into a guest room/reading nook. Way more function. & more on that later.


Sources clockwise: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8

Once the floorpan was laid out & made sense, then I started looking at specifics. The footprint of the house screams cohesive & casual, yet private back in the bedroom wing. Unified (light in color!) flooring selections will help marry the living spaces & bedrooms. Elements of white and natural materials (stone/brick) will cozy up the living space. & the baths will have natural stone with elements of grey & white, and pops of color accessoried in, but not permanent parts of the design. I want a mix of metals, textures and layers. & of course, a beloved gallery wall or two will help add to the personalization of the space. The kitchen will be white, with a slightly contrasting backsplash. & with as much color as I love having in my life, the house bones & finishes will remain very neutral. I always recommend this–because our own personal, colorful touches can go a long way when added after the finishes are chosen! That whole house feel will be accomplished by the constant presence of white and interwoven materials. More on that as we break down the rooms. :) But I will save that, as we can go into more detail later in the process.

For now, I am out working hard to source all of the materials, inspired by my design boards, in real life & within budget. NO small task!! I can’t wait to share specifics with you! I’ve spent hours scrolling through materials online, which my husband does not understand. I find it enjoyable, and he loathes the process. But I believe you have to look at a LOT of rooms before you can decide what you really love. & that is what I will leave you with: be inspired by beautiful homes. Then take that inspiration, and create something beautiful of your own. The most important part of it all, is that it screams “YOU.” :)

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  • Tammy - I love following your journey! We are embarking on a similar project but have been living in the house (a mid-90’s gem) for two months now. Reno won’t start til spring as we are still in early planning stages. I’ve had a hard time reconciling what the overall “feel” of the house should look like, and you articulate it so well! I truly value your opinion on things because we are in a similar stage of life (young children at home, husbands in medicine that leave the details to us, and we just want a comfortable, livable, pretty space to feel like home.) Thank you for inviting us along on this adventure!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - I am so excited for you and your journey.

    We bought a dog of a house in a great neighborhood (spectacular view too) almost two years ago. JUST finished our last BIG project….our master bath. I am so pleased with the results. Our home now flows beautifully. The quiet zen feel worked perfectly for this house.

    Only worry my hubby has is that I will sell it and move onto another project house :) I have done whole house renos way too many times in his book :)ReplyCancel