decor

Adventures in DIY tiling

DIY kitchen floor tile

There’s not much I won’t DIY, and I’m usually pretty spot on in my assessment of how difficult a project will be but this kitchen floor has turned into a huge pain. And to be fair, I’m not feeling the pain of how annoying the install process is— Dan is the one doing the mortar and laying the tiles. But what we planned on being a weekend project has now entered the second week of having no functional kitchen, and I’ll tell you what: not having a range is a lot harder than I thought. I finally broke down and bought a microwave yesterday so we could at least have some home cooked food.

We’re probably about halfway done with the kitchen and the same tile will continue into the bathroom and in the laundry closet, so I’m thinking we probably have at least another week of doing tile, though we thankfully have laid the tile where the range goes, which means it will be able to return to it’s home and functional status in the next day or two.

Next up, I’ll be grouting the tile, which is perfect because it’s a great project for me to do while Jack naps. Even though I hate working with it, I decided to go with the Fusion Pro grout again, just because I don’t have to seal it or anything. And I think it’ll be less annoying to work with this time simply because I’m not doing a contrasting grout (last time I did black grout with white hex tiles). Since I wanted a concrete floor, I’m doing the grout in as close to the same color as the tile to give it more of a seamless look. But you know I couldn’t make things easy, so we’re doing a herringbone pattern. It’ll be more subtle since the grout won’t be contrasting, but I still think it’ll add interest.

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Ooooh, and peep that new light fixture too! In the meantime, you know I couldn’t wait any longer to paint something chartreuse in this house. This color is Lemongrass by Behr and It feels so happy! Even with no trim.

Chartreuse door

That Airbnb Swiffer Life

Swiffer WetJet Wood

Now that the #thebravehouse is an Airbnb, I’m cleaning it a LOT more frequently.  Like, I wish I had cleaned it this often when we actually lived there! For the time being I’m the “cleaning lady” getting things all prettied up between guests, and with a very limited amount of time between reservations (usually just a few hours!), having a quick and easy process is absolutely essential.

Since I partnered up with Swiffer to try out their WetJet Wood, keeping my hardwood floors clean takes just a couple minutes, which is perfect for those whirlwind days when a guest checks out in the morning and another checks in later that afternoon. While my sheets are getting clean in the laundry, I can easily give my floors a swipe with the Swiffer so they look clean and new for the next guest.

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I’m pretty excited with how well our Airbnb bookings are going! I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me, acting as the cleaning service on top of managing bookings and such, so I might eventually hire out my cleaning to a professional. We initially just wanted to see if the house would even do well as a vacation rental and I figured I’d costs low by doing the cleaning myself.  I’m going to reevaluate at the end of the month (June is booked up at like 80%, so imma be buuusy cleanin!), and decide if I want to keep grinding at the cleaning myself, or get some help!

In the meantime, it’s me and my trusty Swiffer gettin’ her done! Check out the Swiffer WetJet Wood on Amazon here!

Swiffer WetJet Wood

#Melroseplacehouse Update No.1

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It’s been a LONG time since I did an update, and I could’ve posted some more over here in the prior months, most of it was just gutting the house, putting in new subfloors, and revising my design plan like 100 times. We ditched our original plan to add a bedroom and move the kitchen because it turned out to be out of our budget, so we’re doing a plain ol’ “lipstick flip” (as they say in the biz). So basically, keeping the original floor plan and just updating all the surfaces to be new and prettier. The original floorplan was not bad (minus the odd pony wall that separated the dining room and living room and broke up the whole flow of the space), so I’m not disappointed about the floorplan. The whole idea with adding a bedroom was just to add value to the home (3 bedrooms can fetch a higher sale price than 2), but you can’t add any value if you go over budget, so we scrapped my grand plans and went back to basics.

The other change in plans: we are now living in the house! I’ve mentioned it before in my post about #thebravehouse becoming an Airbnb, but we decided since we have two houses, it makes the most financial sense for one of them to be generating cashflow or at least paying for it’s mortgage and utilities. So even though we’re living in an unfinished house and all my socks have sawdust stuck to the bottoms, I’m very happy to a.) be spending SO much more time with Dan (he used to go straight from work to the house to work on it, then come home, go to bed and repeat. Needless to say, this girl whose love language is quality time was feeling a bit starved for our marriage to have time together), b.) be able to put in work on the house myself while Jack is either playing outside or in his room and during his naps, and c.) be generating an income with the other home I spent years crafting and curating!

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So as a little reminder: here is the original kitchen. This photo was taken the day we got the keys. The lower cabinets are the same, we just painted them black (Behr Broadway, the same color we have on the exterior, just in an eggshell sheen. Exterior is a semi gloss). We decided to get new uppers because I wanted them to be taller. The old cabinets felt too short and I wanted something that drew your eye upward and made the room feel taller. I have a couple more to put up, one over the fridge and one on the right side by that window, and then we’ll do a hood over the range and open shelving on either side of that, butting into the cabinets, like so:

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We’re gonna pop an island in there because this kitchen is HUGE. The floor is going to be a concrete-look 12x24 tiles, and then I’m thinking of doing a black tile backsplash, which would definitely be a bold move, considering the cabinets are also black, but I definitely don’t want to do a basic white tile. After all the basic stuff is taken care of we can move on to more fun stuff like putting in pendant lighting over the bar/peninsula and replacing the gross fluorescent light in the center of the kitchen, maybe putting in some can lights for optimal light in the space, and wrapping the odd little beam above the peninsula so it looks more intentional and not just a weird bump on the ceiling. Oh and giving everything a fresh coat of white paint.

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We’ve got a lot of work to do. We definitely didn’t do this whole thing in the most efficient way and it’s been a huge learning experience, but we’re trucking along and chipping away at each project on our very long to do list.

The Brave House is... an Airbnb!

Best Tacoma Family Airbnb

That’s right! Our cozy little home is now on Airbnb! You might be wondering, “well wait… where are you going to live then?” and that answer is: the flip house! I haven’t been able to do much work on the flip house because my only free time is during Jack’s naps… and I kind of have to stay home while he naps, you know? So we are finishing the flip house enough that we can live in it (flooring in, at least one bathroom finished, kitchen functional) and then we’ll be finishing it as we live in it.

In the meantime, The Brave House will be rented out to travelers looking for a place to call home while they’re on the road! We’ve already listed her and have quite a few bookings already! I’m excited to share the home I’ve put so much heart into with others, especially because I love Tacoma and am looking forward to sharing my love for the city with those who might be experiencing it for the first time.

If you or someone you know is coming to visit the Seattle/Tacoma area and is looking for a place to stay, send them my way! I wanted to make our place very family and pet friendly because as a parent and dog-owner, I know how frustrating it can be to find a good place to stay that can accommodate my dog and is also designed with a kid in mind. I’m in the process of creating a really fun bunk room that, while available for adults, will be an especially fun space for kids. Jack’s nursery upstairs has been converted into a regular bedroom with a queen bed, there’s another bedroom on the main floor with a queen, plus the bunk room, so it’ll be able to sleep 6, and we also have a pack-and-play available for anyone with a baby or toddler who doesn’t have one or want to travel with theirs.

I’ve got a lot of fun ideas I’m thinking of incorporating but for now, we’re in the thick of finishing up some projects on our (now) Airbnb house and working our butts off to have the flip ready to move in by mid-late May! In the meantime, check out our listing and share it with anyone who’s doing some PNW travel this summer!

10 tips for taking beautiful photos of your home

How to take beautiful photos of your home

If you’re an interior designer, proud homeowner wanting to showcase your decor, or just wanting to improve your interior images for instagram, here are a few of my tips for snapping the best shots of your interiors! A couple of these tips will relate specifically to DSLR shooters, but most are applicable to anyone— even those of you using your phone camera to capture your images!

01/ SHOOT STRAIGHT-ON TO WALLS

So basically: when you’re shooting, shoot directly at a wall, not diagonally towards a corner. This isn’t a rule, I shoot into corners all the time, but I do love the clean, straight lines of a straight-on shot. If you scroll through these photos you’ll notice almost all of them are directly facing a wall. There’s just something aesthetically pleasing about the perspective lines of a straight-on photo. Again, this can be a personal preference thing, but I notice that many of the photos I like and that are popular on Instagram or in magazines follow this guideline.

02/ ADD A HUMAN ELEMENT

These photos in this post in particular don’t do the best at showcasing this tip, but it is one thing I like to do, and find that I enjoy in other people’s photos. Put people (or pets) in your photos! My Corgi makes it into a lot of the photos I take of my space and I love how she adds a little bit of realness to the photo. I also enjoy putting myself in the photo (standing at the counter cutting fruit, making the bed, playing with my son) just to give a lived-in feel to my images. We do, after all, actually live here! It can be harder to set up, and getting a toddler to cooperate for photos might be more of pain than it’s worth sometimes, but I try to do it when I can.

Even if you can’t get an actual person in your image, you can at least give some kind of staging that alludes to people’s existence, haha. Maybe have an orange sliced up on a cutting board with a knife laid beside it when you take photos of your kitchen. Or a book cracked open with a cup of coffee and a scone on your coffee table when shooting your living room. Just little evidences of human life peeking through your photo.

03/ USE NATURAL LIGHT

Most of our indoor lights have a very warm, orangey tone, so when lights are on they can tend to tint everything orange. I prefer my images to look as natural as possible in order to get an accurate depiction of paint colors/upholstery etc, so I’ll turn off all the lights and use only window light. If you are a whiz at off-camera lighting and feel comfortable lighting your space that way, by all means!


Because turning the lights off in your home will often mean your space is a lot more dim than usual, you’ll probably have to put your camera on a tripod so you can use a long exposure in order to get the correct exposure in your image.

You can also open doors that aren’t in the photo in order to let light in from other rooms or outdoors. I’ll often open my front door when taking photos of my living room because it lets in way more light BUT! I have to put a white sheet over my door because it’s painted orange, so that orange color gets cast onto my space unless I throw a sheet over it. Light can do funny things like that, so just keep an eye out for funky shadows or weird colors getting cast onto your space.

04/ CLEAN UP CLUTTER

This one is kind of a personal preference depending on how “real” you want your images to be, but I do like to take photos of a space that has odds and ends and clutter tucked away. It helps put the focus on the design elements on the room and draws the eye to the areas you want. For example, my kitchen counters house waaay more stuff in my daily life than is shown in these photos, but I wanted to show the concrete counters and backsplash tile. With coffee makers and dish drying racks all over the counter, it’d be harder for the viewer to focus on those design elements. This can also apply to stuff like cords and remotes. Just tuck ‘em away for the shoot!

05/ MOVE STUFF AROUND

This might be considered “cheating” but I do it a lot. Move design elements from room to room! I definitely do this most with plants. I don’t have as many plants as I’d like in every room of my house, so I’ll usually do a little bit of plant musical chairs, adding plants to the room I’m shooting. You can also do this with stuff like throw pillows, blankets, etc. Since you’re not showing your entire house in one image, you can fudge a little by borrowing stuff from rooms not shown in the photo you’re taking. Tricksy!

06/ USE A WIDER ANGLED LENS

I don’t like to get too crazy, if you have too wide of a lens it can distort things and start to look fish-eyed. The widest I’ll use is a 24mm lens, which seems to be a good lens, especially for shooting smaller spaces. I like to use a 50mm for shooting details, and a 35mm is a happy medium between 50 and 24mm.

07/ SHOOT THE BIG PICTURE

I’m all about a nice vignette (I mean, c’mon, I spent a while styling that shelf!) but people like to see the big picture. If you have a small space, it might mean you have to step into the doorway of the neighboring room in order to get far enough back to fit your room in frame. See that pink door in my living room? In order to get a full shot of my entire living room I have to use my 24mm lens and then be standing about a foot into that doorway to get the shot. In order to shoot my tiny bathroom, I’ve climbed into the very back corner of my shower in order to get the shot. Whatever works!

08/ DIFFUSED LIGHT IS YOUR FRIEND

I do enjoy the occasional harsh sun, shadowed photo, but in general, it’s best to shoot at a time of day when the sun isn’t beaming directly into your windows and casting a bunch of really harsh light. A partially cloudy day makes for really wonderful light (though here in the PNW we can get too many clouds and it’s almost too dim to shoot some days)

09/ MOVE STUFF OUT OF YOUR WAY

Sometimes you want to get just the right shot, but the arm of a chair is getting in the shot. Don’t be afraid to scoot things out of your shot. When you’re shooting, look at the image you just took on the camera’s screen and make sure there’s nothing peeking into the shot that’s distracting the eye.

10/ SHOOT RAW

This one is a little more technical, and you might not have the right photo editing software to edit raw images, but shooting in raw (instead of jpeg) makes it way easier to correct things like over or underexposure. Most DSLR cameras have the option to shoot raw, you just have to scroll through your settings to select the raw option. Again, this one is a little more techy, so if you’re not super comfortable with your camera or if you don’t have software that can work with raw image files, don’t worry about it!

For editing, I like to use Lightroom for my “big camera” images. When it comes to phone images, I always edit using A Color Story app. They’ve got lots of filters, and you can combine, tweak and save your filters too so you don’t have to repeat all the steps you take every time to achieve a cohesive look on your photos. Another app I’ve used in the past for photo editing is Afterlight.