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April 26, 2014 / JustinKays Porter

West Wing Demo

The West Wing had long outlived its glory days as a sort of secondary garage-storage room-workshop. And you know how much boys of all ages love demo work… we get them started real young in this family. Here is Will’s first attempt with a sledgehammer. Dani, please don’t blame me when Will starts hammering holes in the walls of your beautiful new home… it was Stephen’s idea!


But I digress. If you recall from the months and months ago when I first told you how much I loathed the West Wing (more on that here), and the fact that the structure is not a wing and is not on the west side of the house, you can only imagine how excited I was that demo weekend had finally arrived. I was even more excited than my mom is in this picture:


There aren’t any photos to show my excitement, but that captures it quite well. Here are some photos of the demo work, and a step-by-step guide on how to demolish the West Wing at your house. Oh, wait, you don’t have one? Consider yourself lucky!

Step 1: Remove any existing windows and doors (this is probably the least fun part). Then take your first whack at the drywall with a crowbar.IMG_0824

Step 2: Realize that you don’t have to remove all that drywall, only the parts concealing electrical work that you do have to remove. Then stand around and make a plan.IMG_0835

Step 3: Raise the roof! Actually, just remove it entirely. No photos of this step, sadly. I think my dad did this during the week without us? Or the roof removal process wasn’t very photogenic. It was a long time ago, and I don’t remember…

Step 4: Detach to-be-demolished walls from to-remain walls.IMG_0840

Step 5: Push walls over!!! Note: my steps may be slightly out of order. Don’t worry about it…IMG_0846

Step 6: Examine handiwork. Reward yourself with a beer. That’s the most fun you’re going to have today: now you have to break up all the demolition debris so it fits into the massive dump truck you borrowed.IMG_0853

Step 7: Drive massive dump truck to the dump. While you’re driving, you MUST grin like a little kid the whole way. This step is non-negotiable.IMG_2881Step 8: Thoroughly enjoy watching the dump truck do all of the remaining work for you. That’s right: no shovels, no brooms, no clean up; just push the button and watch it all slide out! (Click that link to watch the quick video)IMG_2883

Step 9: Share the glorious before and after photos, and revel in the sunlight now streaming through your kitchen window.





Before and After #1


Before and After #2


Before and After #3

And there you have it. That’s how to demolish the West Wing in 9 steps (give or take, I probably forgot a few in there somewhere). It’s probably also worth mentioning that we went back after demo was done and gave all of the newly exposed wood trim a thick, fresh coat of paint. To, you know, protect it from the elements. Even though there weren’t very many elements to be had this winter in California.

I am happy to report that 6ish months later we love our new, open-air, outdoor patio. The BBQs have moved up to this space now, and we eat a lot of meals out at this table. And now that the warm summer months are fast approaching, we plan to use it even more!

April 25, 2014 / JustinKays Porter

Back in the Saddle, Again… Again

Hello, boys and girls! Welcome back to what was once a fairly consistent blog that most of you probably semi-enjoyed (or at least pretended to be somewhat interested in). You’ll be happy to hear that the blog is making a comeback. Again… But for real this time! We have way too much to show and tell, and I’m too excited to keep these photos locked up on my computer/hard drive/camera card any longer.

Now this is just a teaser post, to get you all ready for the big show. But you should know this: unlike other blog revival efforts, I already have SIX posts ready to go. All I have to do is press “upload” and they will be available for your viewing pleasure. But then you would probably be completely overwhelmed and stop reading, so we’re just going to do one at a time. For your own good!

Just one last note, and then you can get excited in anticipation for the blog content set to roll out tomorrow. For those who have been to our house in the last 6-8 months, you will probably notice that the blog content is starting with projects (and trips) that we took last summer/fall. My apologies for this, but be patient… there is a lot to catch up on before I can start revealing all the hard work we’ve been putting in to the Lounge and the Shop. Here are a few teaser photos, to keep you coming back for more.

Sneak Peak!

Sneak Peak!

More Sneak Peak!

More Sneak Peak!

And I need your help on this, faithful readers! If I fall off the wagon after the 6 posts I’ve already prepared for you, please harass me with a barrage of emails/texts/blog comments/phone calls/facebook messages/etc. until I post again. But be warned: the goal is three posts a week, so don’t start bothering me if a day or two go by silently 🙂

Lounge Preview

Hope you’re all happy and healthy and gearing up for some great projects and travels of your own!

Justin's face after the paint spraying experience

Justin’s face after the paint spraying experience

Cutting tile for the lounge

Cutting tile for the lounge

November 24, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

Early Summer Outdoor Changes

Now I know you’ve all seen more current photos of the backyard than those that I’m sharing today. Just keep in mind I’m going back in time to fill in some of the blanks, and show you some “progress” photos 🙂

Backyard Demo

When we bought our house, we inherited quite a few extraneous structures. One of these structures we love and is quite useful, and may be one of the reasons we wanted to buy this house in the first place. What, you don’t want a 1000-square foot shop where your husband can make (and fix) all kinds of cool things? Well, you’re just crazy. Anyway, other than the house and the shop, we knew that all of these covered structures would eventually be torn down.

We got rid of the first structure back in early spring so we could make room for our planters and fruit trees.  Now, to open up our backyard a little more, we decided to tackle the two most offensive structures in the yard. Which also happen to be the easiest to knock down, but that is beside the point. The first structure to go extended off the back of what we call the west wing. The second structure shot off the front of the shop. The previous owner liked covered spaces a lot…

Enter crowbars, sledge hammers, manual labor, and some good old fashioned blood, sweat, and tears. My dad came over and helped out with the first tear down, and I wasn’t really kidding about the blood, sweat, and tears! Demo can be dangerous, kids, but also fun… Here are some photos of the men in action.

bphoto 1


bphoto 3


bphoto 5

Extraneous structure #2 Justin tackled all by his lonesome. I watched and enjoyed my cocktail. And helped a little!




Fence Building

Dan, Brigitte, and Aspen came to visit us early this summer. Dan and Justin spent the better part of the weekend building a fence and gate on the left side of the shop. This shop side yard area was all covered and perfect for storing wood, garden tools, project materials, and other goodies, so we were reluctant to tear it down. My dad had the idea to just bud a fence and a gate in front of it, to make the area look more finished and less of an eye sore.

Dan and Justin did a beautiful job, and everyone was thrilled with the outcome. While the boys worked away, Brigitte and I entertained Aspen and did a few canning/jamming projects of our own!

photo 3


photo 1




photo 5



Redwood Bark around the Planters

One weekend, I decided to buy four yards of redwood bark and spread it all around our fruit trees and planters. I’ll spare you the details on this one… Let’s just say it was really hot, I bit off a little more than I could chew in an afternoon, and I apologize to that evenings BBQ guests for having to watch the tail end of my shoveling bark out if a truck in my bikini. Good thing no one took pictures of that! Talk about a hot mess. But the bark looks great!




Tree Haircuts (and Removal!)

Apparently my family is plagued with black walnut trees. We inherited a rather large one, and while it has provided lots of shade for us it also provides lots of stuff to pick up. Not to mention, it was in need of a serious haircut. So haircut she got!


As a kid, I was convinced that black walnuts must be the messiest trees in the world. My parents used to coerce my sisters and I into having races to pick up the most walnuts. So you can imagine my shock when we moved into Burrows, had the black walnut to contend with, AND discovered an even messier tree. Enter our neighbor’s silk oak. I don’t understand the name: it’s not silky and it’s not technically an oak… Anyway, after living with the silk oak mess for about six months, we got our neighbors permission to chop the thing down. Even though this tree was in the neighbors yard, at least half of it hung over the fence into our yard, dropping leaves, berries, furry things, and who knows what else. It also blocked a lot of sun. Sadly, Justin and I both had to work while the tree trimmers were there so we didn’t get to see the show. But now, we have no more mess, more sun, and a pretty view of that same neighbors magnolia tree. Here are the before and afters:


We also had two cypress tress removed from the front yard:


And we trimmed up the big tree in the front as well.


Front Yard Irrigation

We spent a day putting in irrigation and drip sprinklers in the planters off the front porch. I spend most of my gardening time out back, and the plants we had up front suffered from my lack of attention! Now with drippers, they get plenty of water even when I forget.



Sorry for the super long, whirlwind post. But we have a lot to catch up on! And I’ll end with a funny picture from one of our many work days:



November 17, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

One Year at Burrows (Part II)

As promised, here is part 2 of yesterday's before and after post. For those of you who were following the blog before it mysteriously disappeared, yesterday's post may not have been too surprising. But today's post may just knock your socks off. This is what we've really been doing all summer! I've divided our outdoor spaces into the former west wing, the yard, and the shop. Enjoy!

The Former West Wing

When we moved in, there was a large, walled- and windowed-in, “covered porch” off the south side of the house. This essentially blocked all natural light from coming in through the kitchen and bathroom windows, so I complained incessantly about it. Also, as we discovered last winter, it leaked like a sieve. Another great reason to get rid of it before the rainy season! After a massive demo project, we finally got some good old natural, southern light into the house. And (major bonus) a nice big, partially covered patio with a wood burning stove. Who can complain about that? No one!

As a quick side note, the west wing is an incredibly deceptive name for this former structure. It is not on the west side of the house, and it is not really a wing in any sense of the word. But for some reason, the name just stuck. So don't worry about it…

Here is our “missions accomplished” list:

  • Remove (and sell!) all the windows, doors, and skylight (gotta love Craigslist)
  • Remove the electrical work in the walls and ceiling to be demolished
  • Demo the walls and most of the ceiling. We left the space over the table and the wood burning stove covered
  • Re-roof the portion of the west wing ceiling we left intact
  • Paint all the newly exposed beams
  • Strategically place empty beer cans over the rebar protruding out of the stem wall leftover (hey, we're classy like that!)
  • Moved in our patio furniture and BBQ apparati to create a pretty sweet hang out spot

So open and light and bright back there now! In the short term, we are planning to add some plants and outdoor art to the patio, add a light fixture that isn't fluorescent over the table, and do some patio furniture makeovers. In the long term, we plan to do a legitimate addition to the house in this area, but that's a few years and a few pretty pennies down the road.

The Backyard

This is my favorite. Even more so than getting natural light in kitchen. When we moved in, the backyard looked more like a junkyard than any place where you would want to hang out. It took a lot of work and even more imagination to make this area what I would call a functioning backyard. But now it's beautiful! Here's what we have done so far:

  • Removed all the miscellaneous junk back here. This involved a few trips to the dump, a few craigslist sales, and perpetually full garbage and recycling cans.
  • Weeded. And weeded. And weeded some more. Actually, I'm still weeding… Not sure I will ever cross that off the to do list 🙂
  • Demolished the extraneous structures. Throughout the last few months, we removed a shed, a structure off the back of the west wing, a structure off the front of the shop, and another large covered patio off the north side of the shop. LOTS of demo
  • Built a fence on the south side of the shop to wall off the storage area back there. It was a magic act: now you see all the construction/project materials we are storing, and now you don't! Plus, it's a pretty good looking gate.
  • Built redwood planters for our backyard garden and trimmed up the fruit trees (and added a few more) along the fence behind them.
  • Gave the big black walnut a haircut. He needed it, desperately.
  • Paid to have a silk oak tree removed from our neighbors yard. This was expensive, but so worth it. That tree dropped something year round and made our yard a constant mess. But no more!
  • Poured concrete to connect the existing patios on the north and east sides of the shop, and to create a mow strip for the future lawn.
  • Installed sprinklers and irrigation all over and leveled out the lawn area to prepare for the sod.
  • Put in sod! Talk about rewarding. Another magic trick: from dirt to lawn in just a few hours!
I hope you're as impressed as I am. I love it back here! It's still a work in progress, but it has come a long way. We are planning to stain all the concrete at some point down the road for a softer look. We will be replacing the window on the front of the shop with French doors, and plan to make the patio to the north of the shop an outdoor bar/kitchen area. You have to dream big, right? We also have lots of planting to do. And maybe a water feature? An outdoor fire pit? A side yard bocce court? So many options, so many projects!
The Shop
The shop is definitely still a work in progress. We have decided to split this building in half: the left half will remain a shop, but the right half will be turned into a lounge/hang out area. As it stands now, the left half is a shop and the right half is more of a storing and staging area. Some of the furniture you see will stay, and some has been spoken for but is temporarily living here. We are hoping to put up the wall, put in the French doors, paint, and do something with the floor on the right side this winter. Maybe find a second hand pool table, shuffle board table, a few dart boards, you get the idea. And once the wall is up, Justin can finalize his plan for the shop and finish getting organized over there. Here's our “so far” list:
  • Sold all the tools and machinery that belonged to the previous owner (Justin and I didn't have any part of this, and, no, we didn't see any of the money from that sale. That all happened before we owned the house).
  • Removed most of the shelves (big surprise!)
  • Got the shop side organized. Justin had a lot of tools to begin with, and got a lot more for Christmas last year, but a lot of the tools here are also hand-me-downs or on semi-permanent loan. You'd be surprised how many people you know that want their tools and equipment to go to a good home where they will be used and loved! Another part of the organization was refurbishing a kitchen island. My aunt and uncle were remodeling their kitchen, and passed their island (and dishwasher and refrigerator!) to us. We put the island on wheels, gave it a fresh coat of paint, and created a top out of recycled flooring (more on this later), and now we have a roving work station!
  • Cleaned out the lounge side. I would say organized, but that's a stretch. We got rid of everything we knew we wouldn't want, and tried to set up the rest of it in a respectable fashion. Oh, and we now have a beer fridge 🙂

The shop may not look that different. But, as Justin says, at least everything in their is ours now. I haven't decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing… But there you have it!


November 16, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

One Year at Burrows (Part I)

I must apologize for my prolonged absence from the blogosphere. It's a funny thing: when the days are long and the sun is warm, I find myself out doing projects, not writing about them! With the onset of shorter days and cooler temperatures (and the fact that I've had multiple people ask me what happened to the blog), I have decided to stage my return!

Instead of starting with the details of the projects we've completed over the last several months (I know, I KNOW, it's been awhile…), I thought it would be more fun to hook you back into the blog with two massive before-and-after, whole-house posts: one for inside, one for outside. In October 2012, we met our future home for the first time. We drove down to Campbell the day after one of my best friends got married in Marin, and only a few weeks after Justin had knee surgery. Needless to say, we were tired, and I think Justin was on pain killers of some sort, but this was our first chance to see the house and we couldn't pass it up. And I will be the first one to admit that I didn't see the potential…

I guess you could say I couldn't see the trees through the forest? When we first came to Burrows, the house (and west wing and garage and shop and backyard and miscellaneous structures) were so full of stuff that I just couldn't get my head around the potential of the house and it's good bones, the size of the lot, the great neighborhood, or the shop (I will say that I was thrilled that we wouldn't have to fight about who could park in the garage and where all the tools would live). You'll see the pictures; every square inch of outdoor space was covered and being used as extensions of the shop, and every wall in the house was covered with shelves.

I must also admit that it didn't take me much convincing that buying the house was a good idea. It's a good thing Justin saw everything the house and the lot could be. I was still apprehensive about the whole thing until we really got in there, refinished the floors, painted EVERYTHING, and moved all of our stuff into the house. Then I had that light-bulb, “aha” moment. I love my husband and his good judgement 🙂

Now, before I show you all the pictures, I just have to take one small paragraph to say thank you. Thank you to everyone (and there are a lot of you!) who have helped us. From navigating the loan and title process, to refinishing floors and painting, to copious amounts of weeding, to all the cleaning and demo, we could not have done this by ourselves and we are so grateful for the love and support from each of you.

Okay, enough rambling for now. There will be plenty of time for rambling in future posts that are dedicated to filling in the blanks from the last few months. Without any further musings, here are the before and after pictures of the inside of Burrows, and a list of the projects we've completed in a year. It's amazing the difference a year (and some blood, a lot of sweat, and a few tears… mostly of joy!) can make!

Watch for the before-and-after outside post, hopefully coming through tomorrow 🙂

Living Room

Hopefully it's obvious, but the before pictures will be on the top (or left side), and the after pictures on the bottom (or right side). Here is a list of whole-house projects we completed:
  • Removed carpet
  • Patched, refinished, and sealed original hardwood floors (special thanks to my dad, Papa, and Lucas for this massive undertaking!)
  • Painted walls, ceiling, and trim
  • Installed baseboard and quarter-round

And a list of living room specific projects:

  • Replaced the grimy curtains with plantation shutters
  • Installed a ceiling fan
  • Moved in our furniture, hung some art, and decorated (and bought and rearranged things as necessary!)

Dining Room

  • Replaced grimy curtains with plantation shutters (even though you can't see it in this photo)
  • Refinished and painted the dresser and dining room chairs
  • Made a mason jar chandelier
  • Hung an oversized print of our favorite photo from our honeymoon in Argentina


  • Cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned some more!
  • Ditched the fluorescent shop lights for something easier on the eyes (and with dimmers, too!)
  • Hung some art to cover the ugly electrical box
  • Got a “new”, hand-me-down dishwasher that works great
  • Got a “new”, hand-me-down refrigerator that doubled our PG&E bill, and subsequently purchased an actual new refrigerator
  • Demo-ed the “west wing”… More about this tomorrow, but by removing that add-on to the house, we allowed a serious amount of natural light in through the kitchen window


  • Installed picture shelves to display our favorite travel photos (which you can't really see I this photo)
  • Removed the western inspired “coat rack”
  • Added trim and painted all the doors, including the doors into the bathroom, office, bedroom, guest room, and the hall closet cupboard doors (we also did this for the closet doors in the bedrooms)


  • Removed the shelving on every wall and patched all the holes left behind (I wasn't kidding about this before…)
  • Moved in and created a nice space for Justin to work from home and for me to sew 🙂
  • We also did some serious closet management in here to make this tiny closet work for us


  • Installed a ceiling fan, which also replaced the gross light fixture that was in here
  • Moved in
  • Although you can't see it in this photo, we also hung some art, refinished a dresser, and put in a giant mirror to bounce some light off and make the room appear bigger and brighter

Guest Room

  • Removed the shelves and filled in the holes (just like the office)
  • Moved in, and as far as we can tell our guests like this little spot just fine!
  • The second photo is a pretty good shot showing the door detailing we worked on in all the rooms


We haven't done much here, but a little bit went a long way!
  • Installed a curved shower curtain rod and a bright white, cotton shower curtain (that really brightens things up!)
  • Installed a new light fixture over the sink
  • Ditched the gross doily curtain over the window. Yuck!

Well, there you have it folks. Hope you've enjoyed this post, and the outdoor version that will follow soon! Most of the indoor improvements we've already blogged about, and this summer was really about creating a livable outdoor space. But you'll see that tomorrow, and I don't want to give away all of our surprises 🙂


July 8, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

Mendocino Birthdays

For as long as I can remember, my family has gone camping near Mendocino, usually twice a year to coincide with the best conditions for abalone diving. This was tradition from before I was born all the way through high school. Then we all went our separate ways (i.e., college) and it was just too hard to get everyone in the same place on a weekend with good tides during ab season. So after a few year hiatus, I decided it was time to reinstate the annual Mendo trip! I was having abalone withdrawals…

Last year, we made the trip to Mendo on Justin’s birthday weekend. It was cold and foggy, but we still managed to gorge ourselves on abalone and wine. We even went wine tasting in Anderson Valley on the way home. However, with the wedding planning madness of last spring, we just couldn’t get our act together for Justin to dive. This year was a different story!

All bundled up with the birthday boy (2012)

All bundled up with the birthday boy (2012)

fog + food = typical Mendo (2012)

fog + food = typical Mendo (2012)

Justin got all set up to dive, AND it was sunny and warm. Like shorts and t-shirts warm. This is relatively unheard of for Mendo camping.  It’s more likely to rain sideways than be sunny. And this year it was my birthday, and I really couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

Shorts and tees for the birthday girl this year

Shorts and tees for the birthday girl this year



Justin went diving and successfully “caught” his share of abs for our feast.  I’m not sure if you catch abalone, or what the term is… The abalone are like giant one sided clams. They have a big suction cup foot that attaches to the rock, and abalone divers have to pry them off the rocks. And I should specify: I don’t mean dive like scuba dive. I mean dive like free dive (no tanks, just one big breath), down to 10 or 15 feet where the abalone search and prying activities commence. Oh, and the water is absolutely freezing. You couldn’t convince me to go out there without a dry suit, and then I’m still not sure I would go! Needless to say, these abalone divers are savages. At least in my humble opinion.

what a savage. look at those abs!

what a savage. look at those abs!

more savagery and awesome abs :)

more savagery and awesome abs 🙂

So the men dove and the girls sat on the beach. After our morning festivities near the ocean, we went back to camp. We spent the afternoons playing games and prepping the abs. Then we feasted!

waiting for our men to bring back dinner :)

waiting for our men to bring back dinner 🙂

our "view" from the beach. can't really see much until they come in to shore...

our “view” from the beach. can’t really see much until they come in to shore…

the welcoming party

the welcoming party

yard games back at camp

yard games back at camp

abalone preparing and feasting. glorious!

abalone preparing and feasting. glorious!

Moral of the story: we camped, we indulged, and we conquered. Well, Justin conquered. Me, not so much. Still waiting for that dry suit…

Side note: we also went into town at some point. We popped in this really cool reclaimed wood shop that had Justin and my dad drooling (and my mom and I to a slightly lesser degree).  We also tried to go to a brewery in Fort Bragg, but the brewery didn’t open until 6pm on Saturday. Who does that?!



we could have spent hours here...

we could have spent hours here…

Second side note: we went wine tasting in Anderson Valley on the way home (again). It just so happened that we caught the tail end of the Anderson Valley Pinot Fest, which we thoroughly enjoyed 🙂

yaaaaay pinot fest!

yaaaaay pinot fest!


Third (and final) side note: Talk about an EPIC birthday weekend. 26 is going to be a good year!

July 8, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

Like College, but Not…

Justin’s college roommates, Bass and Ferro (and Ferro’s gf, Sarah), recently came up to visit us and check out the new pad.

We spent Saturday catching up, drinking, eating, and playing yard games. It was the typical way we spent a lot of Saturdays in college, and I felt obliged to say as much. Here is how that conversation went:

K: Sometimes it feels like we never left SLO…

B: Ya, except you two are married and bought a house.

F: And now we drink Coors Light instead of Natty Light.

Well, if you put it that way… Sometimes it takes a little perspective to realize how far we’ve come in the last few years 🙂


June 17, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

Welcome to the Jungle

Like I said a few weeks / months ago, we had some finish work to do on the planters. Because our veggie garden looks like a jungle, I thought this would be a good time to share our finished planters and our massive tomato plants (among other things!). We finished off the planters by adding boards to the corners and across the top, kind of like a really skinny bench seat. See?
My kind of before and after picture... on the left, see the finished planters. On the right, what they looked like before

My kind of before and after picture… on the left, see the finished planters. On the right, what they looked like before

Up close for the beauty shot

Up close for the beauty shot

Workin away

Workin away


So now our redwood planters are wonderfully complete, and our garden has gone crazy! I think our plants like their home quite well.
We've started calling the garden the jungle... hopefully this picture gives you an idea of why. And this was taken about two weeks ago!

We’ve started calling the garden the jungle… hopefully this picture gives you an idea of why. And this was taken about two weeks ago!

We have been harvesting spinach, arugula, beans, basil, mint, and strawberries for awhile now and we just started to enjoy our first red cherry tomatoes. Our early girl tomatoes are starting to look a little less green, and pretty soon we will have tomatoes coming out of our ears! Good thing we have a basil bush to go along with all those maters. And good thing I have perfected my pesto recipe!


The apricots are also jut starting to soften and sweeten up. In a few days we should have at least a few that are all ready to go.
June 17, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

The Furniture Shuffle

Ever gotten a new piece of furniture and had to shuffle some pieces around to make everything fit? We haven’t quite gotten to that point in our house yet, but when we get a new piece of furniture it’s exciting to be able to fill a blank wall. Hence, the furniture shuffle begins!

Nancy found us a sweet dresser at a garage sale that definitely needed some love. I don’t know about you, but we aren’t crazy about white and pink anything, much less white and pink furniture. Regardless of the heinous paint job, we could see the potential in this piece and were excited to clean it up.

looking good... kind of...

looking good… kind of…

We used the same materials and strategy we used to paint our first dresser (and dining room chairs), but this time we went with a soft shade of green instead of navy. Enter TSP and our trusty paint sprayer…

who doesn't paint furniture in a bikini?

who doesn’t paint furniture in a bikini?

what a great painting set up

what a great painting set up

Now for the furniture shuffle. We wanted to put this new dresser in our bedroom and replace the two dressers we had smushed together under the mirror. These are perfectly functional dressers, but we weren’t crazy about the look they created when pushed together.



We swapped them out for this newly refurbished dresser and couldn’t be happier with the result. I love the pale green and the dark wood frame of the mirror. The high contrast (and the much needed pop of color) make this room look a lot less hodge podge and a lot more sophisticated.



more after (a little less bare)

more after (a little less bare)

one more!

one more!


last one, I promise :)

last one, I promise 🙂

We were left with two perfectly functional unused dressers after stage one of the furniture shuffle. We decided to fill up an empty wall in the guest room with one dresser. See this bland empty wall? Even though the baseboards and paint look gorgeous, it was definitely lacking something…

incredibly empty wall

incredibly empty wall

In goes the dresser. We also added a frame, so now when you come visit us there is a table top and a mirror for you to use 🙂

much less empty wall!

much less empty wall!

The second dresser is hanging out in the west wing until we figure out a new home for it. Which will happen eventually…

June 7, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

Plantation Shutter Splurge (and new chairs)

I should start by apologizing for the serious lack of posts lately… it’s  not that we haven’t been doing fun and exciting things, more that I have been too busy working in fault trenches and working on a somewhat time-sensitive surprise project. But more on both of those things in a later post!

Up to this point in our home renovating, we have tried desperately to keep costs down and work on projects that don’t break the bank. And don’t worry, there are many more budget projects to come! But today I want to share our first (and so far only) splurge. We decided to put plantation shutters in the two front windows of the house! Specifically, the big picture windows that face the street in the living room and dining room. The beige pleated drapes that hung in these windows have been a serious eyesore since we moved in. We did give them a good washing and steaming (thanks, Mom!) to make them look temporarily presentable, but the ultimate goal was always to ditch those dowdy drapes.

Here are some before pictures of our main living spaces with the clean, wrinkle-free, yet still hideous curtains:







See what I mean? Just all-around bad. Definitely not the vibe we are going for in our first home! So we found a reasonably priced vendor, picked out our shutter style, and swiped the credit card. Next thing we knew, our living spaces had been transformed into more modern rooms with a cleaner, brighter feel. I must say, the splurge was well spent!






LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! That’s all I can say, and I sincerely hope you agree.


I should also mention that we snagged these dark brown leather chairs on craigslist for a steal and just love what they do to the room. Plus, they are sooo comfy. The couch that was previously under the window has rejoined its twin in storage. I also feel inclined to mention that the shutters do a surprisingly good job of blocking out the street noise. A nice, unexpected perk. With every project, our house feels more and more like our home 🙂