Making it Lovely began as my husband, Brandon, and I were looking for our first home in January, 2007. We have been living in our 1910 Oak Park bungalow (just outside of Chicago) ever since. Fixing it up and making it, well, lovely.
Jump to a section: living room // dining room // kitchen // my office // Brandon’s office // bathroom (first floor) // entryways // library // our bedroom // my studio // bathroom (second floor) // guest bedroom (former) // nursery // Eleanor’s bedroom // front porch // backyard
Most of the woodwork throughout the first floor of the house was unpainted but not in great shape, and nearly all of the walls throughout were white.
I painted the living room pink (Wild Aster, Benjamin Moore), brought in our orange patterned chair, and added a pink Madeline Weinrib zigzag rug.
One day, I fell for a crazy floral patterned chair, so I bought the floor model for half-off (there was a tear in the upholstery but I patched it). I sold our orange chair, added a floor lamp and a new side table, and gave some new life to the reading nook in the room. I also swapped out the Eames DCW for a rocker, and painted the trim white for an updated look.
I feel like it’s time for a few changes to the room, but it still looks mostly the same right now. The quilt above the couch has come down for a while, and a round mirror is in its place. I’ve also replaced the coffee table, and pillows are always changing in and out.
The dining room had a lot of natural woodwork when we moved in, including a large built-in buffet.
We moved the Nelson saucer pendant to the living room, and I put up wallpaper (Mibo’s Clacket Lane) when I was five months pregnant with Eleanor.
Then when I was five months pregnant again, this time with August, I painted all of the trim white. Painting natural woodwork always seems to call up strong feelings, pro or against, but the wood photographed better than it ever appeared in real life, and I loved it once it was all white. Eventually, I also painted the ceiling and the wall above the picture rail gray.
The contents of the built-in hutch change periodically — sometimes all white, sometimes a little pink or coral, and it gets spruced for holidays and parites, too.
When Brandon and I bought our house, we thought that we would freshen up the kitchen with paint, but after we moved in we realized that it needed a full renovation. Everything in the room except for the floor is new, and we did most of the work ourselves for a grand total of $11,000.
And After, Again
Yellow was nice, but I wanted to try my hand at an all-white kitchen. I love it.
Brandon and I referred to the wall color as “Barbie skin peach” when we moved in. Since I work from home, this was one of the first rooms that we redid. I painted it the same shade of pink that I’d had in our old apartment (Benjamin Moore, Pink Innocence), and painted the peach woodwork brown to match with the existing stained trim. I made changes and rearranged the room over time, but it was still pink for many years.
I repainted the office a few years later (Sherwin Williams, Contented) and painted all of the trim white. I added a closet door, changed the light fixture, rearranged the furniture again, and brought in a few new things for a different look.
This was the only room in the house that wasn’t plain white when we moved in; it was primary blue. Brandon and I painted the room brown (Driftwood, Benjamin Moore), added bookshelves, and a small desk. It’s a small room that was once one of the house’s original two bedrooms, but when an addition was added, the stairs cut right across the window. Finding a good layout in the awkward space was tricky, but we did eventually rearrange the furniture, replace the desk (which had come with the house), and add media storage for all of our CDs and DVDs. Unfortunately the top of the storage is a clutter catch-all! We’ll have to tidy up in there so I can photograph it.
Bathroom (1st Floor)
This is the only room we haven’t done much to. It has a vintage sink and pedestal tub.
Before and After
We painted the natural knotty pine, installed a handrail for the stairs, and I sewed curtain panels for the window and door. More recently, I painted the trim white, but left the doors’ natural wood.
Our library is really just an oversized landing at the top of the stairs. Brandon had the genius idea of lining it with bookshelves (we were both booksellers for years and have a large collection).
The library has stayed mostly the same since we first tackled it, though it did take me a while to find the right curtains.
The library has gotten some additional use as a play area with the addition of a coffee table and a giant castle. Art and accessories have been changed, and there’s a giant fiddle leaf fig, but the general look remains the same.
This is what the bedroom looks like now. I recently redecorated and painted the room gray (and hung that amazing chandelier). The room was lovely but very white before.
It can be switched up pretty easily with different bedding.
This is another room that Brandon and I ripped the carpet out of, and then installed new bamboo flooring. We added trim and painted all the woodwork white, painted the walls pink (Benjamin Moore’s Wild Aster), and changed the lighting fixture. This studio is where I filled all orders for my stationery shop, Pink Loves Brown.
My studio was eventually relocated to the basement when we were expecting August, our second child. This room is now Eleanor’s bedroom.
Bathroom (2nd Floor)
We wanted to fully renovate this bathroom when Brandon and I moved in, but we spent our remodeling budget on the kitchen instead. We updated the room with just a couple hundred dollars, and over the years, the blue tub and toilet have grown on me. They’re charming.
The room is long and narrow (7′x14′), but with sloped ceilings so the space is quite awkward. The odd paint job wasn’t helping things.
This room has since been converted (first as a nursery for Eleanor, then for August), but it was a lovely guest bedroom while it lasted.
This room functioned as the guest bedroom before we turned it into a nursery.
After (Eleanor’s Nursery)
I loved sitting in the glider and reading stories to Eleanor. It was one of my favorite spots in the house.
After (August’s Nursery)
The crib, paint, and furniture layout remained the same, but it was updated through fabric choices (I sewed the curtains and crib skirt), and a new, more boyish dresser. Now August gets read to in the rocker, and it remains a favorite spot.
My old studio became Eleanor’s new bedroom when we needed her nursery for August.
We loved that this house had a spacious front porch, but it was very plain. I painted a rug directly onto the floor (and I was nine months pregnant at the time).
This is what the front porch looked like after I redecorated it for Better Homes & Gardens.
We gave the porch furniture to my mom the next summer, and this is what the space looks like now.
Nothing but grass and a chain link fence. Brandon and I put in a paver patio and landscaped everything ourselves.
The garden is still filling in, but it looks great so far. My favorite place to sit is in the egg chair (kids always love to play in there too).