We’re slowly chugging along on finishing up the bedroom, while also planning for laundry cabinets and drawing up ideas for the backyard this summer(!). Today, I wanted to share a super simple IKEA hack – with the term hack being used lightly – for a perfectly sized, slim floating vanity using the EKBY ALEX.

Stepping back quickly to our PAX wardrobes, our entire goal was to eliminate the need for a dresser (or two), as we wanted to keep the walls free of any heavy furniture. Instead, I knew I wanted to have a small landing spot for a vanity to hold my equally small stash of makeup and jewelry, and we both agreed it’d be nice if it was long enough to display a few favorite items, too. After debating between countless skinny consoles or DIY, we ultimately landed on the inexpensive EKBY ALEX – with just a few modifications, of course!


The EKBY is meant to be installed using a minimum of two brackets (like this), although three is recommended. We both loved the simple shape and the slim depth, but against our dark walls, we weren’t loving the idea of adding brackets – even if we did go with black. Endless Googling showed variations with legs, wrapped in wood or wallpapered, and although we toyed with the idea of using hunky industrial L-brackets and painting them the same color as the wall, we were determined to keep it looking light. Could we make it float?

Eventually, I turned up this BESTA hack using heavy duty corner braces. If it seems obvious, it’s because it is! Unlike L brackets, corner braces can be completely hidden from the inside and attach on three sides. I bought two packs of these 3″ heavy duty braces, and we were golden. Tip: Always drill a pilot hole before screwing anything into IKEA furniture (or anything, really)! To prevent us from accidentally going through the other side, we flag our drill bit with a piece of blue tape, which tells us when to ‘stop.’ 

floating-vanity-02 floating-vanity-03

We discarded the back of the unit (which was a thin piece of cardboard, more or less), which allowed us to attach the braces to the wall. In order to gain access, we had to stop short of installing the bottom piece and sliding in the drawers. We were able to hit a stud on one of the braces, and for the other two (we installed three total), we used toggle bolts. This was surely overkill as nothing in this vanity is more than a few ounces on its own, but it’s also nice to know that this thing is strong. Float, float!


With the unit on the wall and the bottom in place, we went to slide in the drawers and hit one small obstacle: IKEA includes thick plastic bolts to attach the sides of the drawer to the back, but the slightly rounded head hits the edge of the corner brace! We removed the bolts and (carefully!) used wood screws instead.


As it turns out, it will float! The vanity is installed along the wall that leads into the bedroom, right next to the laundry room door. The 12″ depth makes it a non-issue, allowing for easy flow between both rooms and back out into the studio. floating-vanity-10 floating-vanity-07 floating-vanity-09

Inside the drawers, I used a flatware organizer for makeup and small bowls for containing my fancy (ha!) jewelry:

floating-vanity-11 floating-vanity-12

The drawers don’t pull out all the way due to built-in stops (the photos above show the extent of their range if you’re curious), which I thought might be a problem in the beginning but having used the floating vanity for several weeks now, it’s a non issue. The notched out pull is decently sized, so I push my trays to the back of the drawer when they’re not in use, and you can barely (like, baaarely) see them with the drawers closed, which makes me happy.

floating-vanity-13 floating-vanity-14

We also picked up the IKORNNES mirror after seeing how cute it is in Anna’s bedroom, which is such an IKEA gem! We wanted a small-ish mirror that would sit on top since we’ll be hanging art above the vanity. Speaking of which, we’re waiting on a few photo prints, frames and one more sconce to arrive, and soon enough, we’ll be calling this room done!

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - May 3, 2016 - 9:06 AM

    I’ve never known a sweeter vanity. This is all turning out so amazing. I’m not surprised, just really inspired.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - May 3, 2016 - 9:20 AM

    I listened to the Marie Kondo audiobook while driving from Cleveland to Pittsburgh with my best friend last November. I tell you this because a) I’ve been reading your blog for many years, and you were clearly living like Marie Kondo long before Marie Kondo’s method became a thing, and b) I saw your Pittsburgh book and was immediately taken back to the city which blew.my.mind. I won’t get into my opinion of the book (except to say that it could have been more, umm, succinct), but I wanted to say that I admire your ability to keep things in your home EDITED. It takes mad skills, which I don’t have!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 3, 2016 - 10:07 AM

      Amy, so funny, thank you, but where do I begin?! First, yes, Pittsburgh is awesome (the entire side of my dad’s family still lives there), and GO PENS. Second, I love how polarizing Marie Kondo’s book can be! We got the most helpful information out of the clothes organization and getting rid of BOXES – like, boxes for our old smart phones, boxes for my billion year old laptop, etc. And third, I’ve never been a fan of clutter, but don’t be fooled – we have an entire room that we lovingly call ‘The Scary Room,’ which has a constant rotation of items we need to sell, frames and miscellany from our last home (still) and boxes for donation. Once a year, our block has a big yard sale where we toss it all out there, and every year the room gets better. One day, it will be completely free of ‘stuff’, and we will weep with happiness.ReplyCancel

      • Rachel - May 3, 2016 - 12:59 PM

        yay pittsburgh! i’ve lived here for 7 years now, and i’m getting to be quite fond of the ol’ girl. i’ve lived in lots of other places, and my husband and i are glad we’ve chosen the ‘burgh. it’s got character.ReplyCancel

        • Kim - May 3, 2016 - 1:10 PM

          Rachel, yeah! We always joke that it feels like we’re in a spaghetti bowl when we head back home – so windy and twisty, especially coming from flat grid-like Chicago! But we love it so much, as long as we don’t take the wrong bridge and get stuck going 10 miles in the opposite direction we intended…ReplyCancel

      • Haley Hepburn - May 12, 2016 - 2:44 PM

        Okay this is SO good to hear! One of the things I’m so impressed by is how your home is so pared down! It’s very aspirational to me. Can you do a post on the scary room? Where even is that in the floor plan?!ReplyCancel

        • Kim - May 12, 2016 - 4:19 PM

          The Scary Room has a long way to go, but we hope to start on it towards the end of this year! I may just have to do a post about it though since we get a lot of questions about all of our “things.” If you look on the floor plan post, it’s labeled “guest room #2” on the second floor: http://www.yellowbrickhome.com/2013/08/02/the-floor-plans/ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Coleman - May 3, 2016 - 9:23 AM

    You guys are magic!ReplyCancel

  • Leah Prevost - May 3, 2016 - 9:40 AM

    What a great idea to float it. I need to do this in my room! Your bedroom is looking mighty fine!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - May 3, 2016 - 9:57 AM

    Hi Kim! Can you source the fan? (Weird, right, but hard to find a good looking one!! And you’ve done it, of course.) Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 3, 2016 - 10:03 AM

      Yes!! It’s the Vornado from Rejuvenation! It comes in a few sizes (and colors), although we have the mid-size one. It is so quiet but really powerful, and I can already tell we’ll be using it a lot this summer.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - May 3, 2016 - 10:18 AM

    Looks great!! Where is the giant standup mirror from? It’s gorgeous!!!ReplyCancel

  • Miranda Bouck - May 3, 2016 - 12:23 PM

    Awkward comment for an awkward photo, but is it possible to get a shot of what it looks like from the bottom after it’s been attached to the wall? I think I can visualize it in my head, but I want to be sure “I’m sure.” I can see myself using this hack and I want it to work! LOLReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 3, 2016 - 12:26 PM

      Hi Miranda! The bottom looks exactly like the top! Once it’s been attached to the wall, we attach the bottom (identical to the top piece) and slide in the drawers. Does that help?ReplyCancel

  • Maria D Miller - May 3, 2016 - 6:22 PM

    Just an FYI – over the years I’ve made a few floating/wall vanities with various products – many being IKEA. The main issue is this – if you at ALL lean on/rest your elbows on said surface, in time, it will pull from the wall – no matter your anchors. Forewarned is forearmed. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - May 5, 2016 - 2:36 AM

    Ahhh I absolutely LOVE your house. Your design aesthetic is so simple but still visually interesting. Makes me more excited to move back to the States and buy a house. ^^ReplyCancel

  • Nicole Dupuis - May 6, 2016 - 7:36 PM

    What a great idea! I rent in Boston so I can’t have something like this but as soon as I move I’m doing this.ReplyCancel

  • Denise - May 8, 2016 - 8:44 PM

    Love this! And paired with the navy wall elevates further. http://www.decoraid.comReplyCancel

  • Decor Aid - May 8, 2016 - 8:45 PM

    Love this! And pairing with the navy wall elevates further. http://www.decoraid.comReplyCancel

  • Dakwerken - May 10, 2016 - 2:21 AM

    That’s a very good job done by you Kim! Inspired from your works. Even I’ll start doing such DIY stuffs in my home :)ReplyCancel



Over the last several days, your kindness was, and still is, overwhelming. After a medical emergency for our Maddie girl, we had to make the heartbreaking, yet compassionate, decision to allow her go to a pain-free place on Saturday. She was thirteen. It was the absolute worst, but we know it was the right choice, something I’m only able to admit days later (although still struggling with all at once). She was the queen of our entire household and deserves a million tributes in her name; I’ll do my best to start right now.

I adopted Maddie when I was in college. Growing up in a full pet household, this felt momentous, as she was the first pet I brought home on my own as an adult. I bargained with my landlord – who had a no pet policy – that I would clean the common hallway and move the building’s trash to the curb every week if he could make just one exception on his strict rule. I’m sure he thought he had struck gold with my proposition, but really, I felt like I’d won that game. The shelter told me that they estimated her to be around 9 or 10 weeks old, and I was drawn to her low-key mellow attitude. She fell asleep in my hand, I paid the $60 adoption fee (draining my entire college-day checking account!), and together with my roommate, we brought her right to the pet supply store where we picked up the essentials – toys, a tiny bed, cat nip, and oh yeah, food and litter.


Almost immediately, she fell ill. She was already scheduled for her first post-adoption check up, and when I brought her in, the veterinarian told me I had a barely 3-week-old little lady on my hands! She was weak and needed nutritious, fatty food. For a month, I stirred high protein wet sludge with dry kitty kibble, adding drops of water and nuking it all in the microwave to keep it extra soft and manageable. I fed her from my finger, and I used a syringe to shoot water into her mouth. She made a full and fast recovery, and as a result, she became fiercely loyal to me.

During the course of her younger years, she saw several roommates come and go, but she took to me, her mom, more than anyone. Whereas I could scoop her up, rub her belly and stroke the top of her head whenever, wherever, she loved Scott on her terms only. She chirped when he came near, and she put on airs as he pet her, despite her loud telltale purrs. Maddie was just this way, not only with Scott, but with most. She was sassy, but she kept my head warm (and my hair tangled) during the night. She could mean mug like no other, but she smiled and kneaded all the biscuits while she slept. She protected her kitty sister, Libby, from the pups, but if she suspected we saw her being sweet, she’d flip up her tail and sashay away.


We’ve been watching Libby to make sure she’s okay with the loss, too. She appears to be… fine. Jack forces himself into her cat bed, which besides not being physically possible, is both hilarious and gut wrenching. We find ourselves annoyed that the toilet paper has been staying perfectly raveled on its roll, and all of these deep window sills we’ve built – just for her! – are irritatingly bare.

Our house is six pounds lighter, although it feels like a thousand. In our minds, she’s curled up next to TP mountain, with all the window sills and all the sun. We can’t thank you enough for your generous and comforting comments, texts and emails. On a daily basis, it fills my heart to know that I’ve painted the pets that have left lasting impressions on your lives, too. Losing a pet is immensely difficult, and we know we’re not in this alone. We want to tell you, you’ve made us smile with the warmth you’ve sent our way.

  • Steph M. - April 26, 2016 - 3:43 PM

    I’m at workeystone holding back tears. It is so hard losing them, but she, obviously, had a fantastic life and was so well loved. Sending you all the good thoughts I can!

    Also, Spanky shredded his first toilet paper roll last night in his entire life. So maybe she’s passing on this sassiness from kitty heaven. 😻ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 26, 2016 - 3:56 PM

      Oh my goodness, that is amazing. Enjoy those shreds, lady!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - April 26, 2016 - 3:44 PM

    I’m so sorry for your loss. :(ReplyCancel

  • Hannah H - April 26, 2016 - 3:45 PM

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss and my heart is going out to all of you. We have two cats and debated before getting a dog (all rescues). I pulled up your site before we pulled the trigger on the dog and showed my husband Maddy and Libby and how you all manage together. Life has changed since getting a dog because they offer so much more quick, immediate feedback. We have our sweet Sadie (our first fur baby) who is 10 and very much the queen as well in so many subtle ways. We’ve tried to make sure to still leave time for the sometimes finicky, but so worth the wait, love of our kitties. Dog and cat relationships are so different, and it can be easy to overlook all the silly, funny and loving things that cats do on a regular basis. But you miss them so much when they are gone.

    I admire you all so much for all the work you do for animals and the love you give them. It’s so sad that part of the love is the loss. But I know they stay with us forever. Hugs to you.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 26, 2016 - 3:58 PM

      Hannah, so kind, thank you. The dynamic of our once two-cat / two-dog household was really entertaining, that’s for sure! We always said that the pups and the cats agree to disagree, but it’s been tough seeing how much it is affecting Jack.ReplyCancel

  • Jeannie - April 26, 2016 - 3:47 PM

    Ohhh soo, so sorry. Sending you lots of warm thoughts and love. I’m fighting back the urge to tear up at work!! Aren’t we all better for having these furry friends in our lives? If only they could stay longer…Maddie sounded fiercely loved, and I bet she knew it!!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - April 26, 2016 - 3:57 PM

    I got all teary reading this. So sorry for your loss. Losing a pet, no matter the circumstances, is always hard. They are your babies and important, memorable members of a family.ReplyCancel

  • Cait - April 26, 2016 - 3:58 PM

    Beautiful post, Kim. So many hugs to you, Scott, Jack, CC and Libby.ReplyCancel

  • Jenn - April 26, 2016 - 4:04 PM

    Kim and Scott,
    Our hearts go out to you. Maddie was a beautiful fluff and you got an amazing run! Which makes it all the harder. We lost our Lilly bug, also top in the pecking order, last summer, and it was rough on the girls, but especially our dog who she protected from the other cats! The best help advice anyone gave was to allow myself to grieve her loss and not be constrained by the idea of her as a “pet” – ignore what non-animal people might think and just take time for yourself when you feel it welling up.
    Jenn & AlexReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 26, 2016 - 4:14 PM

      Lots of time and lots of welling up over here! Thank you. :)ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - April 26, 2016 - 4:09 PM

    Feeling all the feels over here. Kitties are the best. <3 to all of you.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - April 26, 2016 - 4:29 PM

    I am so sorry for your loss. We just lost a precious lab to cancer almost a month ago now. It’s so sad and a hard decision to make. I know we made the right decision for our precious Callie girl but the sadness and loss is so hard. Animals make a special place in our hearts that never go away. My little Maltese is still struggling with the loss of her life long best friend. We have to keep her busy and an eye on her when she is sad. Make extra time for the other sweet fur babies. You just never know if and when it’s their last days. Know your sweet kitty is not in pain. I look at it like I wouldn’t want to sit there suffering and slowing dieing if I had the choice. To watch Callie dieing of cancer was to saddest thing especially knowing we can’t do anything to help her. We tried too.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 26, 2016 - 6:51 PM

      Oh, Christine. I’m so sorry to hear about Callie! Give extra live to your Maltese today, and we’ll do the same with our crew over here.ReplyCancel

  • Anna Kristina - April 26, 2016 - 4:42 PM

    Sending all of you a big virtual hug. It sounds like she had an amazing 13 years, and I’m glad you got to enjoy all of them. My husband and I just adopted a three-year-old cat, Astrid, after years of landlords not budging. I hope we can give her the same sort of love and joy that Maddie had with you! (And if she spoke English, I’m sure Astrid would be sending her condolences as well!)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 26, 2016 - 6:52 PM

      Astrid is GORGEOUS! Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Emily I - April 26, 2016 - 4:45 PM

    I’m so very sorry. I’ll be thinking of you.ReplyCancel

  • Joanna - April 26, 2016 - 5:54 PM

    Just went full onions while reading this…

    So sorry to hear you lost her after only 13 years, but it sounds like you gave her a wonderful home.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - April 26, 2016 - 6:57 PM

    I’m literally crying over here. It’s a perfect tribute. Aaron, Mojo, Hank and I send all our love your way.ReplyCancel

  • Megan - April 26, 2016 - 7:21 PM

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I had to make that decision five years ago for my dog, Rugby. He was, hands down, the best dog ever and I too adopted him in college with little money of my own but made it work. We’ve since moved on physically after his “sister” showed signs of depression. I think dogs do it differently than cats though, but I’m glad you’re looking out for the pets too.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - April 26, 2016 - 7:41 PM

    I am so sorry for your loss. My cat was around 15 when he crossed the rainbow bridge. It has been close to 7 years now and I still miss playing fetch with the ring from the milk lid. I miss that little booger.ReplyCancel

  • Bernadette - April 26, 2016 - 8:26 PM

    Virtual hugs to all of you. This is never an easy time… I can’t even think of the words.ReplyCancel

  • Lynne - April 26, 2016 - 10:05 PM

    Each leaves an indelible mark on our lives. Like Maddie, I adopted my Bear at a young age. A dog, but still my first as an ‘independent’. When boyfriends came and went, there was Bear. He was the only constant. As he aged, I bought one story homes and made flooring choices based on his needs. When his hips gave out, we walked with a sling. Because as a lab, he couldn’t bear being shut out from the world. When he left me at 19, my world momentarily ceased to exist. I believe we end as better people when we recognize the impact sentient being have on our lives. Having seen your ‘pack’ in all your pics, the two of you are amazing people.ReplyCancel

  • Cassie - April 26, 2016 - 10:27 PM

    I’m so sorry for your loss :( I’ve read your blog for years and it’s been a constant source of joy and imagination, and a huge influence in my own blog creation as well. Consequently, my fiancé and I also just had to put down our pet, the world’s most lovable dog, Lola, a few days ago. I kept telling myself that this was the last kind act we could do for her, but it was still the worst thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through these emotions as well, but in my opinion, heaven is specifically reserved for the pets who have given all the love for all their lives, and the very few people who measure up to them. Hang in there.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 27, 2016 - 12:32 PM

      I’m so sorry, Cassie! Your words are perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Karen - April 26, 2016 - 10:53 PM

    So sorry about your kitty :(. I had to put my 13 year old down as well. She was only companion for years. It’s been about seven years ago and I still miss her.ReplyCancel

  • Kim B. - April 27, 2016 - 12:29 AM

    I”m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute you’ve written to her here. It’s wonderful to think of the lifetime of love that you and she shared. I’m so sorry she’s gone.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - April 27, 2016 - 9:48 AM

    What a wonderful tribute. I’m not even that much of a cat person, as they say… but your description of her personality and loyalty to you is making me tear up at my desk. I’m so sorry for your loss and for the hole in your household. Hugs!ReplyCancel

  • Susan @ Jubilee Furniture - April 27, 2016 - 10:17 AM

    Oh Kim! I’m so sorry for your loss!ReplyCancel

  • misie - April 27, 2016 - 10:36 AM

    SO much love being sent your way friend. so much.ReplyCancel

  • Meredith - April 27, 2016 - 11:40 AM

    I adopted an older dog (8); I live alone and work full time and I knew a puppy would require too much attention. As she ages, I love her SO MUCH and know the day will come when I am saying goodbye as you had to. I mourn that I didn’t get to experience all of her years. I told my vet how hard it was to live in fear, and he said, “Embrace the fear, and the pain when it comes, because it means you had something great in your life.” Which certainly doesn’t alleviate the pain, but I found it to be helpful. I’m glad you had something great, and I’m sorry she’s gone now.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 27, 2016 - 12:02 PM

      Thank you for adopting a ‘senior’ dog! Hold that girl tight.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie - April 27, 2016 - 12:47 PM

    I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am to hear this…What a devastating loss, and I’m sending every SINGLE good feeling that I can possibly muster to you guys…Thanks for sharing her sweet story!ReplyCancel

  • julie - April 27, 2016 - 12:49 PM

    Oh Kim, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope that in the times when you find yourself missing her, you can still feel her presence with you and that the thought of her getting tangled up or being her sassy self can instead bring you a smile.ReplyCancel

  • Monica - April 27, 2016 - 1:29 PM

    what a lucky and lovely little one. I’m sorry for the ache her physical absence brings. Ah, and Jack carrying a torch for her… so sweet! Long may he and C. and L. remember her and snuggle with you to give comfort.ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - April 27, 2016 - 2:04 PM

    Thank you for sharing the story of sweet Maddie. We have a similar story of our 13 year old cat, Luna. She was found abandoned by friends and was only maybe 6 weeks old at most when we took her in. Our thoughts are with you guys in this tough time. Much love to you and Scott, as well as Libby, Jack, and CC.ReplyCancel

  • Meghan - April 27, 2016 - 2:59 PM

    Awwww Kim, so so sad for you, Scott, Libby, Jack and CC! We feel for you so much in your pain of loss. Sweet Maddie was so very loved by all of you! Kim, I remember with gratitude your loving reply when we shared our loss of Ndugu two years ago (his portrait brings us continued joy, thanks so much!).. You told us how Ndugu must be hanging out with Tigers, and no doubt they were fast friends! Love to think Maddie will likewise be embraced by many furry friends in the beyond.. Much love to you guys as you heal.. You’re in our thoughts.. xoxoReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 27, 2016 - 3:18 PM

      Meghan, I remember Ndugu well, and I am so touched that you remembered Tigers! We’re so honored that you reached out. Just after Maddie passed, I told Scott that she looked so calm. Quite a contrast to how we must have looked in the moment. He told me, she just met Tigers.

      I really like to think of all the pets having a BALL (literally and figuratively?) and doing whatever they want to do, 24 hours a day. I can only imagine the happiness and cuteness up there.ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - April 27, 2016 - 4:28 PM

    I’m so sorry Kim. I know how it feels and I recently lost my youngest cat which is still raw and your post bright me to tears again. You gave her such a wonderful life. Thinking of you guys :(ReplyCancel

  • Victoria - April 27, 2016 - 5:41 PM

    This broke my heart, especially when I got the part about the bare window sills. I can’t imagine losing my sweet senior pug, Tyson, just thinking about it… ugh. So I know you must be torn up inside. I don’t even know how you managed to write this beautiful tribute…

    My heart goes out to you.

    <3 Victoria (& Tyson)ReplyCancel

  • Liz - April 28, 2016 - 11:37 AM

    Best. Cat-mom. Ever. <3ReplyCancel

  • Sierra - April 28, 2016 - 4:05 PM

    So sorry for your loss! You can tell through your blog that Maddie was well loved and had a great life! Sending prayers and good vibes your way.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer I. - April 29, 2016 - 12:11 PM

    This post broke my heart. I’ve been following your blog for several years now and can tell that like myself, your pets are your kids. I’m so very sorry for your loss and you gave her a wonderful life.ReplyCancel

  • sandy tompkins - May 1, 2016 - 12:36 PM

    I know how you fee. I lost a beautiful tabby about two years ago. He lived to be twenty. I went down to the local animal shelter and brought home a beautiful short haired kitty. She is the love of my life. There are so many beautiful animals at the shelter I want them all.ReplyCancel

  • Kara - May 4, 2016 - 11:28 PM

    I feel for you. What a great story, and great cat. Clearly a member of the family that will be missed greatly.ReplyCancel

  • Lavues - May 15, 2016 - 5:11 AM

    She’s such a lovely cat, I am so sorry for the loss, but I am sure she is happy that she met you :’)ReplyCancel



One of the biggest perks we get from writing about our home renovation is connecting with like-minded people – you know, you. We receive emails on anything from where we like to shop to who we’d recommend for plumbing and electrical and whole-house-gutting, from paint color favorites to suggestions on Chicago pet rescues. It’s obvious we love discussing all things home + pets, and recently, I found myself in an email thread with reader, Rachael (hi, Rachael!), who was in the midst of a whole home refresh. Every wall, piece of trim and kitchen cabinet was getting the Light and Bright treatment, and by project’s end, I was just as invested in the final product as she was! Having hired out the work, she writes:

We took a few days to get out of dodge while the heavy lifting was taking place this week, and I haven’t slept a good night since! I keep second guessing all of my choices. Will the gray be too dark? Will the white be too white? Is matte the right finish choice for the walls? […] I don’t know how you take on these projects all the time. This is a serious strain on my sanity! Can you write a blog post on how you cope with the challenges of indecision and heartache and the voodoo tactics you employ to sleep at night while in the heart of the process?

I shared our conversation with Scott, and he responded with a yup!, as in, Rachael, we get you. Whether hired or DIY, both options can be a mental drain. When hired (aka, not in total control), we find ourselves more anxious about the final results, whereas DIY (aka, all the control we could ask for) is not always the fastest or, sometimes, even the most cost effective solution. I want to start by saying that, yes, we do have heartache when things break bad, we do lie awake at night overthinking super white versus bright white, and although we’ve yet to try voodoo tactics, we do smudge.


I’m an over-analyzer and planner by nature, and as a result, we do our best to start every project with a purpose and loose timeline. (I say loose because larger projects that need hired contract work can – and have! – gone off course in the past.) Before beginning our three-room-triple-threat at the end of last year, we gave ourselves a pep talk. We said, these are some of the last rooms in our house that require big time demolition. Let’s promise to have fun with it. Saying these things aloud help us to conquer any fears we might individually have about what’s to come, what decisions are yet to be made and what problems – if any, but likely – will arise. It lets us know we’re starting any project, large or small, on the same page. While crossing that finish line is a great feeling, we should have fun doing it, too.


Let’s say you’ve just started your project, and you’ve stated your happy mantras aloud, and then before you know it, you’re cursing the plumbing stack you didn’t know was behind that wall and is now causing you to re-think everything. There’s no downplaying how upsetting that can be, but in the grand scheme of things, is it really that serious? In most cases, probably not. Plans change. We press ‘reset’ on our brains, and we move towards a new plan. It’s not always easy (the kitchen door debacle immediately comes to mind!), but we force ourselves into a mental shift. We remind ourselves that everything will work out, because it has to.

Remember the day we smashed champagne on the side of this house? We had no idea what was to come. We didn’t know there would be endless lath behind the walls or that there would be a lack of insulation. But we also didn’t know we’d discover a hidden arch in the entryway or a chimney in the studio! We learned quickly that it would become a requirement to begin each and every project with a come-what-may attitude. Those curveballs don’t matter much when you’re kind-of-sort-of expecting them.

reno-life-10 RENOVATION-partition-01

It’s frustrating (and somehow funny) how working towards a greater end goal can so easily begin to feel cumbersome when you’re in the thick of it. Do you ever question why in the world you’ve started such-and-such project and is it even worth it? We do. We do all the time! I really think that’s because anything that important to us will keep anyone awake at night. It’s a mix of excitement and the unknown, and even after almost 7(!) years of documenting our journey from our actual yellow brick home to this – our gray vinyl siding home (ha) – I still feel abuzz when I sit down to write. I want our decisions (and indecisions) to play a role before I hit ‘publish.’ Because when something is worth it, it’s rarely simple.


So, why do we renovate? We do it because we can’t imagine not doing it. It won’t always be this way, so we remind ourselves to embrace the experience right now. Throwing sledgehammers through these walls will go down as some of our favorite memories, and we still get a crazy jolt of energy when we finally find the perfect fabric for an upholstery project or mortar the last tile onto the floor. And when we write the story of this house, we make an effort to share the bad with the good, right here.


We’re rounding out 3 years in our current home, and we still have entire rooms – and a whole back yard! – we haven’t even touched. How cliché of me to say, but slow and steady wins the race. Same with renovation and all it entails: indecision and heartache and celebration and everything in-between. We’ll get there. You’ll get there. With time.

  • Carrie - April 21, 2016 - 8:21 AM

    SO well said!! This post was really poignant to read as someone only six short months into their reno…You nailed it—literally!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 21, 2016 - 9:40 AM

      You’ve been knocking it out of the park, Carrie!ReplyCancel

  • Sara - April 21, 2016 - 8:43 AM

    In my experience, almost no one else will even be able to tell the difference on all the stuff you are driving yourself crazy over. I have an eagle eye. My eye zooms right to every little discrepancy and flaw. No one else sees it. And no one else cares. It’s your home and you want to love it, but to do so, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’ll never be perfect unless you’re going to live in it like it’s a museum.

    I’ve made some mistakes along the way and it’s cost me some money too. Sometimes that’s what it takes to learn what works for you.

    I feel like sometime we reno nerds need a gentle slap back to reality. We aren’t solving for cancer cures here. We’re decorating our houses. Such first world anxiety we create for ourselves!

    If the white is too white, paint it a different white – or don’t. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 21, 2016 - 8:57 AM

      You’re so right, Sara! Scott reminds us to take a stop back regularly. He will say, how lucky are we that we can renovate in the first place? He – and you! – couldn’t be more right.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Larkin - April 21, 2016 - 2:14 PM

    I so enjoy reading your journey and especially love this post! Thank you, Kim. Living in a 112-year-old fixer in Portland…these are the things I need to keep reminding myself. After 9 years in our house, we’re finally getting baseboards (in keeping with the little scrap of original we have) next month. Woohoo! This little victory will most certainly command its own celebration. Keep on keeping on. It’s looking beautiful!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 21, 2016 - 6:50 PM

      HOORAY FOR BASEBOARDS! Game changer. You got this, Ashley!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis - April 21, 2016 - 5:16 PM

    I can’t believe it’s been 3 years! I’ve loved your blog and projects for so long, it’s been so fun watching you move from amazing DIYs in an apartment to your spectacular current home. You’ve inspired me to tackle projects outside my comfort zone and I’ve bought a lot of products based on your recommendations.
    As always, can’t wait to see what’s next!
    Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 21, 2016 - 6:51 PM

      So sweet, thank you, Alexis! Does time fly or what. Madness, I say.ReplyCancel

  • Casey - April 24, 2016 - 7:03 PM

    Great post! I have discovered your blog somewhat recently and have enjoyed getting to “know” you guys and your projects. This post made me laugh because I have always said in every DIY project we have done there seems to be this mid-point where everything is looking it’s absolute worst. The excitement of starting is gone, you’re tired, and it’s looking nothing like a final ta-da. And in that moment I always catch myself looking around and thinking- Oh my god what have we done?!? The terror sort of floats to the surface. But like you said it all works out because it has to. I love following your reno (those stairs!!) and wish you the best of luck!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 25, 2016 - 10:10 AM

      It does, it just HAS to! Thanks, Casey!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - April 25, 2016 - 7:15 PM

    I totally needed this today. I am just beginning to renovate my 1962 brick ranch and keep going back and forth on every decisions. But at the end of the day I just need to remind myself to relax, have fun, and I will get there. Eventually.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - May 4, 2016 - 3:03 PM

    YES! It is so hard not to look back at decisions after making them. I keep trying my darndest to keep it moving forward. The house will not be perfect, it never was. What will I do in 5 years if I get it all perfect this first go around?!ReplyCancel

  • Kara - May 4, 2016 - 11:32 PM

    Timely for me to read – my husband and I just bought a new home that needs lots of love, but has oodles of potential. A good reminder to enjoy the journey!ReplyCancel

  • VerbalGoldBlog - May 5, 2016 - 10:57 AM

    This all looks so great! I love seeing and reading about your journey, even though it does look like a lot of work, but definitely worth itReplyCancel

  • Tina - May 13, 2016 - 10:27 AM

    Wow this about sums up everything I’ve been feeling, going through, dealing with, etc etc in the last month with the new shop. Thanks for sharing, Kim. I needed this boost :)ReplyCancel