This post is in collaboration with Schlage. Progress in the garden apartment has been moving full steam ahead, and it kicked off with the demolition of the old flooring and installation of new. We had high hopes that our contractor could pick up where our tile guys left off, but unfortunately, his current job is taking…
  • @worldsworstflipper - May 19, 2017 - 6:53 AM

    Love the Bowery knobs! I replaced 22 80’s brass levers in my house with bronze Bowery knobs when we moved in and it might be my favorite update! Huge impact for relatively minor work! Lovely choice!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 19, 2017 - 10:47 AM

      WOW, 22 levers?! You’re a champion. Nice work!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - May 19, 2017 - 10:29 AM

    I just replaced all of my doorknobs with the bowery knobs (in polished nickel!) as well! But I ran into a snag when replacing the last one – the backset on the door is not standard (it’s about 4″). Any ideas on how to make the new knobs work with the existing door?ReplyCancel

  • Paige Flamm - May 19, 2017 - 10:57 AM

    This looks so bright and fresh! I love the look!


  • Emily E Hoar - May 19, 2017 - 2:05 PM

    I love those knobs! I’ve been considering replacing the knobs in my house. Half of them are really neat 1950 originals, but I can’t find a similar replacement and am not looking to pay an arm and a leg. The other half are ALL different. The bathroom has a linen closet door, hall door, and bedroom door all clumped together, with three different knobs in different finishes. It drives me crazy! Might be time to just replace them all to match, even the cool 1950 ones.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 19, 2017 - 2:10 PM

      If the 1950s knobs are cohesive, I’d leave those be, and only replace the others! Having two types of knobs throughout still works, I think. Start with those bath, linen, hall and bedroom doors – the impact on that area alone will be well worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Alli - May 19, 2017 - 6:12 PM

    It makes me absolutely CRAZY when the knobs but not the hinges are updated on a door. I was feverishly reading your post hoping you’d get to the all-important hinges. Nice work :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 19, 2017 - 8:54 PM

      You can’t forget those hinges! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Aileen - May 22, 2017 - 9:04 AM

    Would you mind sharing where you found your doors? We have 1960s hollow fake wood doors and I’d like to replace them all, but I’m having a hard time finding bedroom and bath doors. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 22, 2017 - 9:29 AM

      We got ours at Home Depot, but also saw them at Lowe’s or Menard’s! They should be pretty easy to find in any big hardware store, but if not, take a photo and show someone in that service department. They should be able to special order anything.ReplyCancel

  • Weekly Kickoff – EricEstate - May 28, 2017 - 6:53 PM

    […] Black doorknobs on white doors. […]ReplyCancel


It’s been close to a year since we completed our master bedroom renovation, and a little more than a year that we’ve been sleeping soundly on our Leesa mattress. Not surprisingly, we’ve received lots of emails since then from those of you that have been curious about our Leesa – do you still love it?, you ask. The…
  • Tricia - May 16, 2017 - 7:45 AM

    I have the Leesa, too, and LOVE it. Do you guys use a mattress pad that you like? I bought one that I hated because I felt like it trapped in more heat. The Leesa is comfortable without it but with a dog and a kid that end up in my bed, I feel like I need the stain protection.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 16, 2017 - 8:43 AM

      Ooh, I meant to mention that! We use this mattress protector (the Leesa is too pretty to risk anything), and it works great! It’s large with deep pockets, but it’s thin enough that it tucks nicely under our fitted sheet without ANY additional bulk.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - May 16, 2017 - 9:23 AM

    I can’t believe this was a year ago! Which means I waited a year to ask my question, whoops. We have a similar problem with our ceiling being uneven, and so I loved your idea to bring the white down and have a perfect line. However- I have original crown molding in our room. A) Do you have crown in the room? B) if not, do you think that technique would work if I painted the ceiling, crown, and wall the same white? My husband says no but I think it could work! Otherwise dark paint would look weird as our ceilings are quite sloped in some areas. I think it would really stand out. Thanks! This is still one of my favorite rooms of yours!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 16, 2017 - 9:35 AM

      We don’t have crown, but I agree with you, I think it would still work to paint the upper portion of the wall, the crown and the ceiling the same bright white. It will look a THOUSAND times better than dark paint that slopes up and down along a crooked ceiling/crown line. We couldn’t be happier with our decision to only go 3/4 up the wall with dark paint!ReplyCancel

      • Danielle - May 17, 2017 - 8:19 AM

        It’s such a great solution and a wonderful way to make a statement without a typical statement wall or something. I think I’ll work on convincing my hubby! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Erica - May 16, 2017 - 10:06 AM

    Thank you for the update. I’m struggling with my current memory foam mattress and looking for an alternative. I’m looking for something that doesn’t sag. I feel like my current bed gets an impression that doesn’t recover so my back isn’t being supported as I sleep on my side. I want a bed with fast recovery.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 16, 2017 - 10:47 AM

      No sagging over here! It looks like the day we unwrapped it on our bed frame.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - May 16, 2017 - 11:58 AM

    We’ve had ours for a little over two years and are still totally in love with it! I used to be a hotel mattress lover, but now I seriously am excited to get back to my own bed even after really nice hotels :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 16, 2017 - 12:11 PM

      We are SO on the same page, haha!ReplyCancel

  • susan - May 18, 2017 - 2:13 PM

    You said you slept hot on your previous mattress. Is the Leesa cooler?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 18, 2017 - 2:40 PM

      YES! I sleep hot in general, but the Leesa has a cooling layer that helps out SO much.ReplyCancel

  • Marge Ryan - May 19, 2017 - 9:18 PM

    Had my Leesa for a few years now. Still no rolling to center. Firm but soft on all my body parts. I never feel any pressure points. Most important to note that it keeps a perfect temperature. I’m never hot from it. Such a positive purchase from day one.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - May 20, 2017 - 10:36 AM

    How did you get rid of your old mattress? Did Leesa help you with that? I’m interested in purchasing a Lessa mattress, but I’m a single female who lives on the 3rd floor of a walk-up. There is no way I could manage getting rid a mattress on my own. And, those stairs — oh, my! Traditional stores will take your mattress when they deliver your new one. This is one thing that is holding me back from ordering a Leesa.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 21, 2017 - 11:35 AM

      Hi Rebecca, we were able to donate ours, and I’m pretty sure that’s not a service Leesa provides (I’m also sure that’s what keeps costs low!). I know that in our area, there are donation stores that will pick up items for you, or it doesn’t hurt to call Leesa’s customer service and ask what they suggest!ReplyCancel

      • Rebecca - May 22, 2017 - 7:04 PM

        Thanks! It never even occurred to me to donate a used mattress. I will check out that option — although, I’m not sure how usable a nearly 20-year-old mattress.ReplyCancel


This post is in collaboration with Article. On a good day, 60-degree weather in the city can feel a good ten degrees warmer when the sun’s hitting you. It’s during times like these that we like to eat lunch on our east-facing back patio, where the cool air is mixed with hot sun. For the better…
  • cait - May 11, 2017 - 5:46 PM

    Side tables are a great idea for out on the porch! You always seem to have to manoeuvre yourself around bigger ones rather than the other way around. Beautiful photographs xReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 12, 2017 - 10:15 AM

      Right?! We were always moving our large one closer to the swing, or closer to the chairs, so we thought, let’s get two small ones. A table for everyone!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Winchester - May 11, 2017 - 8:55 PM

    This is so cozy! What a great space for winding down in the evening. I know Article for their sofas and chairs, like you said, so it’s fun to see other stuff they offer. The tables are beautiful!ReplyCancel

    • Sarah @ Article - May 12, 2017 - 4:04 PM

      Thanks, Rachel! Kim did an amazing job styling out our Nimbus tables and we’re excited to get the word out there about our other collections! We now have articles for outdoors, bedroom, and for accessorizing. Let us know if you have a new favourite ;)ReplyCancel

  • Jenna - May 12, 2017 - 9:58 AM

    I am in love with CC! She looks like a great cuddle buddy! Love the switch to two smaller tables as well.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 12, 2017 - 10:15 AM

      She is the BEST cuddle bud.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Gold Hive - May 12, 2017 - 10:23 AM

    Oh CC, you’re such a heartbreaker!

    This porch is the bee’s knees and that dappling of magic hour light on the swing is so dreamy!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - May 12, 2017 - 12:06 PM

    This is bursting with inspiration for our own front porch, which only collects little tiny bikes and packages. I want to sit out there! We’re doing it.ReplyCancel

  • Victoria - May 12, 2017 - 12:27 PM

    Any chance you can share about the new swing cushions? We built one just the same and the hubby keeps asking for more comfort :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 12, 2017 - 12:36 PM

      We purchased 18″ deep Sunbrella cushions from Home Decorators collection, but it looks like they just merged site with Home Depot, so I’m having a tough time finding them! These are similar (although not as in wide of a range of colors). Our white pillows are from Crate & Barrel (also Sunbrella), and the pink ones are IKEA!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - May 12, 2017 - 3:11 PM

    This makes me miss having a porch so badly! Love what you guys did with the space… and those pups are too sweet. xoReplyCancel

  • […] Kim & Scott Vargo, Yellow Brick Home […]ReplyCancel


Late summer of last year, we had just completed our DIY planter boxes for the back patio – all 37 linear feet of them! – and after a consult with a local nursery, we felt pretty comfortable bringing in soil, planting and mulching in September. We’ve never been much of green thumbs, but since living in this house, we’ve had…
  • Debra - May 10, 2017 - 6:23 AM

    The plant with pink flowers in last photo is a columbine. These come up easily by seed, will reseed themselves, and some have beautiful deep colors. A staple in the garden! I am also in the Chicago area and have thrown away more dead lavendar than I can count. I have the autumn blooming white clematis that gets huge. Good luck with yours. You may want to consider mixing in an early bloomer and midsummer bloomer clematis for color all season long.ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa - May 10, 2017 - 6:58 AM

    Yes, I second Debra’s comment. It’s Columbine, Aquilegia, and comes in a lot of colors. If you keep it dead headed, it will prolong the blooming period and you can also grab seeds and spread it around a bit. It is just for Spring, early Summer though. Also for the Clematis, you might consider a colorful flower against the white background. There are some incredible choices out there. Look at Joy Creek’s catalog. Just a thought.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 10, 2017 - 10:28 AM

      Glad to hear the love for the columbine – and thank you guys for helping us remember what it is!

      As for the clematis, we personally prefer the look of the white flowers on white siding for a more peaceful feel. :)ReplyCancel

      • Caitlin - May 10, 2017 - 10:48 AM

        It also looks like one of our columbine plants, which is a “winky mix” varietal – much more upright and tightly grouped. There are other varieties (including single and double blossoms, though double blossoms won’t self-seed) that are lower and more spread out, and a few dwarf varieties too! We love our columbines. :)ReplyCancel

  • Ann - May 10, 2017 - 8:13 AM

    One trick I’ve read about getting strong plants like your juniper to cascade over a pot is to attach small plant weights to the ends. This helps train the plant’s habit to trail rather than stick straight out like a salute. Good luck, things are looking great!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 10, 2017 - 10:29 AM

      Ooh, I’ve never heard of that! I’ll have to check it out, thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen A Conery - May 10, 2017 - 8:14 AM

    Just a thought… did you also topdress with extra mulch for the winter? I’ve always heard that layer of topdressing helps in colder areas.
    I’ll third the comment about the columbine. I have several and I love them… so many beautiful colors and shapes to the flowers. But they are a brief seasonal bloomer, though the foliage will stay all summer.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 10, 2017 - 10:30 AM

      We did add a little extra mulch before winter, but not much. I’m really thinking the insulation is what saved us!ReplyCancel

  • southern gal - May 10, 2017 - 8:45 AM

    couple of things

    1 perennials … sleep creep leap
    the first two years are spent developing roots … what you see these first two years will be smaller then as they mature.

    also each perennial has its own growth cycle.. and blooms … many take a longer time to ‘grow’ back each season …

    2 to get continual blooms thru the spring and summer select a variety of plants with different growth and bloom cycles. so in the early spring some bulbs come up and as they are in full bloom then your perennials start to push up. by the time they are spurting up your bulbs will be dying back.

    echinacea is a late summer bloomer – very late july but mainly august .

    3 in planter boxes an important task is to constantly trim and prune. you do want to have plants fill out but dont want them to take over. so every week take an hour or so and take your pruners (buy good ones) and check every plant . you want to pull off dead leaves and prune back … for hydraganeas find out what kind yours is. one blooms on OLD wood from the year before (sets buds in the fall) the other blooms on NEW wood – (sets buds in the spring) its important to know which yours is so you dont cut off all the buds!

    4 make a trip to your local nursery every few weeks (not home depot but a real nursery) they will have plants that are appropriate for your area and you can observer what is blooming etc at that time and then purchase knowing you will get that.

    the most beautiful and hardest thing of planning a perennial border/bed is to stagger the blooms and growth of your plants to have a continuing stream of color.

    5 remember that a plants leaves can also be a part of a color scheme. there are wonderful plants that have different colors than green for leaves (ferns and hostas have a huge variety of leaf color) and they add a fabulous counterpoint to the greens of perennials and evergreens.

    spend hours pouring over gardening sites to see how master gardeners do it. that is the best way to learn as well as visiting gardens in your area.

    its exciting to have a new garden.

    mine is 12 years old and i change and learn every year.
    see many (tons) of photos on my flickr and instagram accounts.

    so excited for you!

    ps DONT forget to FEED your plants!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 10, 2017 - 10:32 AM

      Thank you so much for all of this feedback! What fertilizer would you recommend for feeding?

      And yup, we’ve heard of that saying before: sleep, creep and leap. I suppose we’re in the creep year! We have a handful of local nurseries that we love, and we like to ask lots of questions before purchasing. They help to remind us of what will work in different areas of our home – inside and out. Their guidance has been invaluable over the year!ReplyCancel

      • Tracy - May 11, 2017 - 8:43 AM

        There’s a product called maxicrop that I believe is just powdered seaweed. Dissolve a little in water and spray onto the leaves/stems. They love it! Working a little bat guano into the hole where your planting is also a good idea.ReplyCancel

  • Bernadette - May 10, 2017 - 9:37 AM

    Looks great! My sky pencil holly didn’t survive the winter :( but my coppertina that I barely kept alive through last summer is back and thriving! My terrace is under construction most of the season, so I’m focusing my energy this season on new indoor plants for my Woolly Pocket.ReplyCancel

  • Ann - May 10, 2017 - 11:29 AM

    How did the hostas in the front come back?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 10, 2017 - 11:46 AM

      Great! One of these years, we’ll fill out the back half behind the gate so we have a beautiful row of hostas down the whole side of the house…ReplyCancel

  • Paige - May 10, 2017 - 12:34 PM

    Your planter boxes look awesome! I can’t wait to get some made at our house!


  • Crystal - May 10, 2017 - 1:37 PM

    I think you guys would love some nasturtiums. You can get climbing or bushing varieties, but they are both amazing. They have large leave, big flowers (they come in pretty much every shade from yellow to orange to red), and are actually edible as well with a light peppery flavor. I love adding the flowers to a salad for a punch of color and flavor all at once. They die back every year, but my experience is that they reseed themselves really easily and come back year after year.ReplyCancel

  • Stacy G. - May 10, 2017 - 10:37 PM

    Everything looks great! We are a few weeks behind you, but the plants are starting to wake up.

    Hydrangeas are my very favorite. I could not grow them in California because we stuck to drought-hearty natives. However, they grow well where we live now, so I planted one three years ago at the end of our first summer here in BHH. I am delighted every year that it comes back.ReplyCancel

  • […] love seeing updates from two of our favorite backyard projects last year — Julia’s and Kim’s! Both of these talented ladies happen to also be the host of the “A Night In” series […]ReplyCancel


We are so, so (so!) excited to kick off our next project – the garden apartment! If you’ve been with us since the beginning of this house’s renovation journey, you might remember that our home is zoned as a residential two-flat, meaning, there are two living units. Before us, the house was split into several apartments, with each…
  • Rebecca - May 4, 2017 - 7:53 AM

    So exciting! We own a legal 3 flat in Bridgeport (Chicago) and after 4 years are finally getting to the basement unit. The whole building needed a lot of work (and then we had a baby) and my husband had tried to do much of it himself so as you know, it’s slow moving! We’re excited to fix some of the old termite damage though, make it less basement like (hopefully) and get it rented after it’s been sitting empty for about 2 years. I’m looking forward to seeing your changes! Good luck!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 4, 2017 - 8:58 AM

      Exciting and good luck to you as well! We know the feeling of slow moving all too well…ReplyCancel

  • Katy DeBardelaben - May 4, 2017 - 8:06 AM

    Cooooool! I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Sounds like it’s going to be amazing.

    Question though: is tile floor freezing cold in the winter? Seems like an odd choice for a ground floor unit in Chicago but I have never actually had tile floors so maybe I’m just projecting.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 4, 2017 - 9:03 AM

      That’s the million dollar question. We weighed heavy on this decision! We asked the former tenants of the tile was too cold in the winter, and they said, not really at all (much to our surprise). They told us that in the summer, it felt especially nice. We considered luxury vinyl tile (man, that stuff has come a long way!), but we knew that we wanted something crazy durable for years – decades! – to come. If this was our personal family room, we might have chosen luxury vinyl for the warmth, but because this is a rental, we had to keep in mind that we can’t babysit the people that come and go. We can’t ask people to put felt pads on their furniture (wouldn’t that be something, haha). Everything needs to be tough as nails from the start, so a cooler floor in the winter was our sacrifice. Luckily, area rugs and fuzzy slippers can help with that!ReplyCancel

      • Julie - May 4, 2017 - 11:05 AM

        Interesting, we are putting in luxury vinyl planks in our rentals because they are so durable and waterproof. Maybe not as durable as tile, but that options wasn’t in our cards.ReplyCancel

      • Lori - May 4, 2017 - 12:05 PM

        How about putting radiant heat under the tile? The electric kind is fairly straightforward to install.ReplyCancel

      • Jessica - May 4, 2017 - 12:38 PM

        I was just coming here to beg you to reconsider the tile flooring! We live in a similar climate and have endured basement tile and basement engineered flooring — both were miserable. If you ever get tenants with a young child, it is freezing to crawl around on that floor. I understand the durability issue with a rental, but please consider radiant flooring at the very least.ReplyCancel

      • Karly - May 8, 2017 - 3:02 PM

        We have vinyl plank flooring in our basement (in central Canada) laid directly on the cement. It’s not warm but I feel it is warmer than tile would be. It is also crazy durable, scratch proof, water proof etc. And in terms of install it was much less work than actual tiling would have been for us to DIY. Just some input regarding going the vinyl route!ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie - May 4, 2017 - 9:23 AM

    Love love love the video and so excited for your project! I’ve never been a fan of garden units, but Id move into yours in a heartbeat 🐶🐶🐈 good luck on the reno!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 4, 2017 - 9:24 AM

      Thanks, Bonnie! Our biggest challenge is making any renter forget they’re in a garden unit. We’re going to really be focusing on the details to make this place feel special, fingers crossed!ReplyCancel

  • Jane - May 4, 2017 - 10:24 AM

    This is going to be fun. Any chance of posting room dimensions?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 4, 2017 - 11:12 AM

      Both bedrooms are about 10′ x 10′, and overall, the entire space is around 820 sq. ft.! It’s small, but we think it has the potential to pack a big punch. Lots more to come in the weeks and months to follow!ReplyCancel

      • Jane - May 4, 2017 - 2:57 PM

        Thanks! I have a similar size space and have been dreaming for years of all the fun stuff that could be done. I can’t wait to see how yours turns out!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - May 4, 2017 - 10:45 AM

    I’m so excited to watch this transformation for a rental unit. Lots of people share transformations for their own living space, but I know it is different for a rental. Like how we put in luxury vinyl planks in our rental, but might not be our first choice for our primary home.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 4, 2017 - 11:04 AM

      Ooh, I’d love to know more about your choice using LVP! We strongly considered it, but in the end, we were too scared that renters might scratch them with furniture, pets, etc. We felt and looked at so many samples, and we were impressed with the quality, but we just couldn’t quite commit. How is yours holding up in a rental?ReplyCancel

  • Josh Johnson - May 4, 2017 - 11:45 AM

    Can’t wait to watch this project develop!ReplyCancel

  • Akiyo - May 4, 2017 - 12:01 PM

    That’s what the tiles were going to be for! :D So excited to see the progress and final!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 4, 2017 - 12:08 PM

      Yup! Hence my questions about how you’re still loving it. :DReplyCancel

  • Ross Greenberg - May 4, 2017 - 12:18 PM

    Ooooh how exciting! I am planning on moving to Chicago in 3 months! How do you plan on renting the space? I’d love to talk more about it!! :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 4, 2017 - 12:32 PM

      Hi, Ross! If you’re interested, please reach out to us via the contact form in our menu bar (or our email is listed there as well)!ReplyCancel

  • Haley - May 4, 2017 - 1:12 PM

    Are you going to do the wood look tile everywhere? Kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms included? Because that would look so goodReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 4, 2017 - 2:04 PM

      We are! We considered doing something different in the bathroom, but in the end, we thought continuity would help the space overall.ReplyCancel

  • Ryan - May 4, 2017 - 4:24 PM

    I can’t wait to see how this space turns out! So exciting!

    Since you say you live in your favorite Chicago neighborhood and I’m assuming there’s a lot of cool stuff to do around there, have you ever considered using your garden unit as an Airbnb? You’d stand to make a lot more money that way than renting it to tenants. Just a thought…ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 5, 2017 - 10:38 AM

      We’ve definitely talked about that, but in the end, we felt a little strange having people that were looking to have a vacation staying IN our home, if that makes sense? It would be more to manage as an Airbnb (cleaning schedules, etc), but I guess you never know what could happen down the road! For now, a rental feels like the best option for us. :)ReplyCancel

  • angela - May 4, 2017 - 6:25 PM

    I am SO excited to read about your projects for this!! I dont have a rental unit of my own, but it’ll be very interesting to see why decisions are made for a rental versus your own home. And I bet it’ll be awesome. Almost makes me want to sell my house in the suburbs and apply to be the tenant for this unit! hahaReplyCancel

  • Marti - May 5, 2017 - 10:51 AM

    Very exciting!

    I’m a big fan of garden units – my first three Chicago apartments were garden units. Their lower cost let us rent nicer apartments in great locations that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford. Props to you for helping Chicago stay renter-friendly!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - May 5, 2017 - 11:35 AM

    So excited for this project! Lots of potential since it’s basically a blank slate!ReplyCancel

  • Debbie - May 6, 2017 - 8:00 AM

    Can you please explain about what you were burning and waving around in the rooms ?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 6, 2017 - 8:28 AM

      It’s sage! We were smudging. We do it to clear the air, so to speak, for a fresh start and ridding any bad vibes. It’s a little hippy dippy, but we like to do it at the start of most projects (and anytime we hit a rough patch)! See more about it here:

  • Haley - May 8, 2017 - 3:59 PM

    Didn’t you also keep the old condo as a rental property? I can’t quite recall.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 8, 2017 - 4:14 PM

      We did! Our tenants just renewed for another year. :)ReplyCancel