Two Duplex Kitchen Reveals – And Our Airbnb Listing Is Live!

Big day, big day, BIG. DAY. Not only are we gonna give you a tour of both completed duplex kitchens, we also FINALLY got our Airbnb listings up and running. Phew! So keep reading for all the photos & the details on how you can book a week there if you wanna check out Cape Charles for yourself (we think it’s the best summer vacation ever – but we might be a little biased).

Wood Askersund Ikea Cabinets With Blue Tile Backsplash
wood cabinets | white cabinets | | counters |fridge | range | pendant | faucet | hardware | tall cutting board |walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

So the picture above is obviously the kitchen with the blue tile & wood cabinets on the right side of the duplex (which you’ve seen bits of already in our post about installing the Ikea cabinets and tiling the backsplashes) but I’m actually going to pop over to the other side – the kitchen with the pink tile & blue cabinets (seen below) for the first part of this post.

Full Duplex Kitchen With Planked Wall And Pink Tile Backsplash
blue cabinets |white cabinets | | counters | fridge | range | pendant | faucet | hardware | tall cutting board | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

We’ve got so much to show you, but I want to start off by rewinding to the state of things when we first bought the duplex in 2017. This was the view from the living room towards the now-kitchen (see that orange trim through the doorway?).

And the previous (clearly not original) kitchen had been shoved into a former side porch to the left of that orange trimmed window above, which didn’t exactly feel like the right spot for it.

Here’s a comparative “after” shot to the one I shared two photos up. Obviously one huge improvement was widening the doorway (and adding a transom!) to connect these two spaces and maximize flow and light. Plus, now you can see our wall of tile all the way from the front door.

Bright Dining Room With Capiz Chandelier Looking Into Pink And Blue Kitchen
dining chairs | similar dining tablechandelier | mirror | cabinets | | pendant | faucet | hardware | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

The now-kitchen was actually a dining room of sorts before. We think. Although an old fridge was inexplicably floating in the middle of it. But clearly this bigger room was begging to be the new kitchen. At least that’s what the two-toned trim is saying to me in this picture.

Here’s a similar view of this area now. We raised the base of the window so we could run cabinetry across that wall and added pocket doors so the laundry can be closed off if it’s too loud while it’s running for anyone cooking or eating or watching TV.

View Into Pink Mudroom From Blue Kitchen Pocket Doors Closed
cabinets | |counters | pendant | faucet | hardware | coffee maker | toaster | paper towel holder | pink cups | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW White Truffle

One big update since you’ve last seen these rooms is that they’re actually stocked with stuff now. Blenders, toasters, coffee makers, pots & pans, knives, silverware, serving bowls, plates, cups, wine glasses, mugs, microwaves, even tupperware and salt & pepper are all ready for renters. And yes, there is a cheese grater on each side too. Along with wine openers and chip clips.

Duplex Kitchen With Blue Cabinets And Pink Patterned Backsplash
blue cabinets | | counters | pendant | faucet | hardware | coffee maker | toaster | paper towel holder | pink cups | faux fern | tall cutting board | range | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

We mentioned in our backsplash post that we opted for a different treatment on the stove wall because it felt too chaotic to continue our patterned tile on that side too (we leaned it up to see how it looked and it felt too crazy on two walls). So we went for something subtle yet wipeable and easy to maintain. Note: We could have done the accent tile on the stove wall, but the back wall’s visible from the front door and has that nice centered window, so we wanted to make that wall the star, and cast the side wall as more of a “supporting character.”

Ok, but back to our “subtle yet wipeable solution.” Some call it planking, some call it horizontal paneling, and some call it faux shiplap (real shiplap interlocks), but we were inspired to jump on the bandwagon after long admiring how Shea McGee works it into her beachy/modern home designs, as well as loving Chris & Julia’s TV wall in their family room. Our verdict: what took us so long?! (Also, where do I pick up my Fixer Upper merit badge?)

blue cabinets |white cabinets |counters | hardware | faux fern | tall cutting board | utensil holder | range | exhaust hood | microwave | faux fern | fridge

I’ll share a photo tutorial of it soon, but it’s basically just thin pieces of plywood we cut down to planks, nailed to the wall with small spacers, and painted with durable and easy-to-wipe semi-gloss paint (we color-matched it to the the cabinets so everything blends). We think it’ll provide a more durable and stain-proof surface than plain painted drywall – like how people add beadboard backsplashes – and it was so cheap & easy to do.

Shiplap Planking Detail In Duplex Kitchen With Blue Cabinets
blue cabinets | white cabinets |counters | hardware | range | exhaust hood | microwave | faux fern | dish towels | similar bowl

And while we’re looking at the appliances, you can see how we chose stainless for the slide-in range and refrigerator, but went with a white countertop microwave so it blended right into the white wall behind it.

White Planked Wall Shiplap With Blue Ikea Cabinets
blue cabinets | white cabinets | counters | hardware | utensil holder | range | exhaust hood | microwave | faux fern | fridge

I know some people have been curious about the exhaust hood over the range so here are the details. We decided to give one of Ikea’s range hoods a try because we wanted something that looked completely built-in like cabinetry. So the hood is just an insert they sell that automatically comes with all of the materials and instructions to build it into a standard Ikea cabinet.

The only thing you need to figure out is how it vents. Since we can’t vent outside (due to the central firewall required in a duplex) we chose their option to add charcoal filters that clean & recirculate the air. That’s the reason we left the tiny gap above the cabinet instead of adding crown up there. The charcoal filter traps the greasy stuff at the bottom of the hood, but the clean air still needs a spot to escape, hence that little crack up top.

Ikea Eventuell Hidden Range Exhaust Hood Closed And Open
cabinet | hardware | utensil holder | exhaust hood | pink bowls | microwave | faux fern

For the fridge we chose a not too fancy but still nice looking top freezer model. It’s not quite counter depth, but we were able to build it in with a side panel so it looks nice and unobtrusive. We were also sure not to buy one with an ice maker or water dispenser because both of those can break or cause leaks (when we lose power in Richmond our ice maker leaks onto our wood floors – ACK! So we don’t want to worry about that in a house that’s vacant in the off season). It may seem minor, but we’re trying to minimize/eliminate maintenance issues wherever we can – even the little ones. And we’ll leave ice in the freezer and a Brita filter in the fridge for renters, so they’ll have cold water & ice on hand.

Built-In Fridge Cabinet In Ikea Kitchen
blue cabinets | white cabinets | counters | hardware | microwave | faux fern | fridge

If you were scratching your head wondering where the dishwasher is, well well well, look what we have here: a built-in, cabinet-fronted dishwasher! The first we have ever done! And we love it. We really didn’t want to interrupt that line of cabinets against that back focal wall, so we crossed our fingers that this would work – and it did. Our plumber installed the dishwasher but we added the cabinet panel & hardware ourselves, which really wasn’t hard at all. It does take some careful measuring (they provide a helpful paper template to eliminate the guesswork) but overall it was very straightforward.

Cabinet Fronted Dishwasher And Trash Can In Ikea Kallarp Kitchen
dishwasher | trash can | cabinets | | counters | hardware |coffee maker | toaster | mugs | pink cups | faux succulent

We also have built-in trash cans on the far end of that back wall. Ikea allows you to customize these, so we were able to match the look of all of the other 3-drawer cabinets in the room, but the bottom two are actually one big pull-out.

The floating shelves are another thing you haven’t seen yet, and another thing that I’ll write a tutorial for in a future post – including how we drilled through the tile without disaster (it. was. nervewracking.) along with how we built them ourselves to custom-fit the space. We pretty much followed the same technique that we used for these floating shelves in our bonus room, but they’re a little thicker and more heavy duty so they can support tons of bowls and mugs and cups.

cabinets | | counters | hardware | toaster | paper towel holder | mugs | pink cups | faux succulent

Sherry stained them “Special Walnut” by Minwax, which is the same color we used for the floors throughout the house, so they tie in nicely and add some warmth and sort of an older/original vibe with the shiny new cabinets.

Pink Pocket Doors Between Duplex Kitchen And Mudroom
cabinets | | counters | hardware |coffee maker | toaster | mugs | pink cups | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW White Truffle

Okay, so now we’re back on the other side (the side with the green-y blue doors throughout). The kitchen layout is exactly the same on this side, just flipped, but the finishes and colors are different. So for example we have brass hardware in here, the shelves are a different color, the cabinets and backsplash are different, etc).

Duplex Kitchen With Blue Backsplash And Light Wood Ikea Cabinets
wood cabinets | white cabinets | | counters | range | pendant | faucet | hardware | tall cutting board |walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

This is what this side looked like before, as seen from the living room. That window in the way back is the one that now sits over the sink.

Once again, widening that doorway and adding the transom really opened up this space in a major way. That kitchen window gets some of the best light on the first floor, so in person you can really appreciate how good it feels to have these rooms more open to each other.

Duplex Dining Room With Blue And Wood Kitchen In Background
cabinets | white cabinets | | dining chairs | similar dining table | chandelier | art | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

This is the best before photo I could find of the now-kitchen itself. Apparently we were so distracted by the former kitchen (again, now the mudroom/laundry room) to take any good shots of the adjacent space. But it was basically just a big yellow room with a rando fridge in the middle of it. And some faux greenery… which I’m not knocking because faux greenery is basically our love language these days. #Foreshadowing

And here is a similar view today. You can see that we actually shifted/narrowed the opening to our now mudroom/laundry room a little (and added those pocket doors) in order to create some wall space for the cabinets to terminate into.

Blue Pocket Doors In Duplex Kitchen Between Mudroom
cabinets | | counters | pendant | faucet | hardware |paper towel holder | toaster | coffee maker | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW Oyster Bay

When I was talking about how we built our shelves, I should have mentioned that we designed them to be 8″ deep, which is intentionally too narrow for heavy items like large plates or bowls. We know some people don’t love the idea of open shelves because they worry the items might get dusty, so most of the actual serving stuff (bowls, wine glasses, plates, etc) are still stored in the cabinets. These are just a nice place for smaller overflow things like measuring cups and cutting boards and tea mugs that are often kept out on a rack or a counter anyway – along with some decorative things like vases/plants.

Wood Colored Opened Shelf Against Blue Tile Backsplash
cabinets | | counters | pendant | faucet | hardware | mugs | paper towel holder | toaster | coffee maker

We lucked out that the pine we purchased to build these shelves was VERY similar in color to the Ikea cabinets that we chose. So instead of staining them, we just clear-sealed these so they’d echo the blonde cabinet color. In these pictures they don’t look as identical as they do in person (when you look at them in real life, they’re so similar it feels like they were sold as a matching set).

Duplex Kitchen With Blue Tile And Wood Open Shelves And Chimney
cabinets | | counters | pendant | faucet | hardware | tall cutting board | large faux fern | pink cups

As for what else is in the cabinets, we’re thinking we’ll film some sort of “cabinet tour” once we’ve got everything fully moved in an organized. We ended up with a similar number of cabinets to our beach house kitchen, so we’re going to mimic a lot of the systems in there. Plates and flatware will go in the cabinet next to the sink. The drawers flanking the stove will get pots, pans, and other cooking stuff & servingware. The lesser used storage items will go in the upper cabinets, and we’ve got pantry storage in the adjacent mudroom/laundry room.

White Planked Wall In Duplex Kitchen With Wood Shelves

The smaller number of cabinets in here might not fit every possible gadget that someone might want to have in their full time home (especially a super chef-y person), but we love knowing that we have all of the basics covered with THREE CABINETS/DRAWERS TO SPARE. It’s nice to know there’s room to grow if we forgot something – but there’s already a ton of stuff in here (including things like ziplock bags, cooking oil, pyrex, a spaghetti strainer, soap & cleaning stuff, a vegetable peeler, an ice cream scooper, etc, etc, etc).

Blue Tile Backsplash With Open Wood Shelves In Duplex Kitchen
cabinets | | counters | pendant | faucet | hardware | large faux fern | pink cups | mugs | paper towel holder | toaster | coffee maker

We’re hopeful that next week we’ll have photos of both fully finished mudroom/laundry rooms for you – plus give a peek at how our little twin bed sleeping nooks turned out. And by that point I think you’ll have pretty much seen everything except the backyard, which is still in progress.

Duplex Mudroom Seen Through Kitchen Pocket Doors
cabinets | backsplash tile | counters | hardware | mugs | paper towel holder | toaster | coffee maker | floor tile | towels | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW Oyster Bay

And if you’re someone who has been thinking about renting the duplex, we’ve listed each side separately so here’s the info for ya.

Update: It’s not sold out! We’re getting lots of questions from people saying “is it all sold out until next year already?!” but it’s just the way Airbnb shows weekly rentals. Just the check-in Saturday will show up in black (available) on the calendar (the whole week doesn’t show up as available when you first glance at the calendar). But if you click on any available black Saturday in June, July, or August, the full weeklong rental gets highlighted in blue and you can then click on the following Saturday (your checkout day) to request to book that week. So sorry it looks like nothing is open! There are actually lots of openings in July/August as of right now.

So here’s the link to the Left Side (with the pink doors) and the link to the Right Side (with the blue doors). Each side sleeps up to 6 people (plus one baby – pack ‘n play & sheet provided!). If you’re interested in booking both sides at one time, just check the availability and book each of them for the same dates and the whole house is yours!

Right now we’re only offering weekly rentals for the peak summer season ((Saturday to Saturday, late June through August). We plan to offer shorter off-season rentals in the spring/fall too, but we’re warming up by renting for the summer season first – since we’ll be nearby at the pink house if an issue pops up. If you’re looking for something shorter than a week this summer, places like Hotel Cape Charles, The Northampton Hotel, and Bay Haven Inn offer nightly rooms for around $220-260. And as much as we love our dog, these rentals won’t be pet-friendly. We’re just trying to be extra sensitive to allergies and noise, especially considering that this is two homes with a shared wall.

It’s exciting (and nerve-wracking!) to finally open this sweet house up for reservations, so please bear with us as we work out any kinks during our first go at a short-term vacation rental. You know we’ll tell you everything we learn. And oh boy do we expect there to be a learning curve!

You can also check out our Cape Charles Travel Guide that we posted last year if you’re curious about what there is to do/eat there. Since we’ve written that, more shops have popped up – like a few new bakeries and even an escape room that’s coming!

P.S. You can see all of the other finished rooms of the duplex that we’ve already revealed along with how we tiled the bathrooms, planned the layout, and screamed into a pillow when the review board denied an architectural change we were dying to make here in our duplex category.

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The post Two Duplex Kitchen Reveals – And Our Airbnb Listing Is Live! appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

The Last Finished Duplex Spots You Haven’t Seen

We’re back with the (finally!) finished photos of the two small-but-mighty bonus sleeping spaces at the duplex! Plus we’ve got pictures and details of two of the hardest working spaces: the linen closet and our locked owner’s closet that guests won’t see – but you can! In short: these little nooks & crannies GO HARD for us. So we’re excited to show you how they turned out.

wall mural | sound machine | striped pillow | similar plant | similar table

Since we have two larger bedrooms on each side of the duplex with closets and dressers (you can see them here and here), we refer to these as “bonus sleeping nooks” – which are pretty common around Cape Charles, as well as in other beach communities. They pass all building and rental codes in our town (yes, we have an annual rental inspection!) and are basically just a cozy spot to sleep extra guests, complete with little comforts like a ceiling fan, light-blocking blinds, a sound machine, and two wall sconces you can flick on & off without getting up.

wall mural | sconces | green pillow | side table | sound machine | faux plant | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

It’s probably not a room you’d want to sleep in year-round (I mean there is that whole tiny house movement…) but for a weeklong vacation, where you’ll pretty much be hanging out all over town/at the beach and just crashing in here, well, they do the job. We aimed to make them feel cozy, comfortable, and fun – and a ton of visual interest came from the murals that you saw us hang a few months ago (you can read more about how to hang them here).

Sherry Smoothing Second Panel of Removable Wallpaper With Pink Door In Foreground

If you’ve followed along as we planned these rooms, you’ve seen us consider several layout options (bunks! two twins! a trundle! one big bed – or even a murphy bed!), and two side-by-side twins won pretty handily when over 13,000 of you tookour poll! They’re more comfortable for grown-ups to climb into than bunk beds (and much easier to make!), plus two twins can be pushed together for a king-sized sleep surface if someone requests that instead (hello versatility!).

A trundle got significantly fewer votes (whether it was a pop up or a traditional one) since many people have kids who don’t sleep well together – or adults who don’t want to climb over each other. And one big bed (murphy or regular) got even fewer votes – probably because there are two other queen beds for people who want to sleep together and folks seemed to like the flexibility of one room where people can sleep separately.

Duplex Sleeping Nook Orange Wall Paper Twin Bed Nightstand Detail

I gotta say I’m not surprised that twin beds won because when we travel we always look for… drumroll please… a room with two twins for our kids! It also doesn’t hurt that two twin beds can be RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING. Like the inspo photo below (or this one, this one, and this one). I’m 100% convinced that even the smallest spaces can have tons of style!


Ok, on with the tour! If you spin around in the space, there’s a pocket door (they make the most of small rooms since it doesn’t swing into the space). We also hung a handy little wall shelf with empty baskets that provide some vertical storage (you could store kids pjs, favorite books, or some clothes in them if you wanted those things within the room).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Duplex-Bedroom-Blue-Whales-Door-Shelf-751x1024.jpg
wood shelf | similar baskets | wall mural | sconce | striped pillow | quilt | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | pocket door: SW White Truffle

Here’s a better shot of the shelving system. It’s just 9″ deep (about the same depth as the sconces by the head of the bed) so it doesn’t feel like it’s IN YO FACE. I’m 5’2″ and have no issue reaching each item on those bottom two shelves – and the stuff on that top shelf is just decorative. There’s also room at the foot of the bed if someone wants to slide a suitcase in there.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Duplex-Bedroom-Blue-Whales-Shelf-Detail-725x1024.jpg
wood shelf | similar baskets | quilt | walls: SW Spare White

Since we know that may not be enough storage, here’s the good news: there’s a nice, big, half-empty closet just outside the room. Yes, literally one step.

Duplex Hallway Linen Closet With SW White Truffle Door Closed
wood shelf | quilt | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | door: SW White Truffle

Here it is all opened up. While it has a few shelves dedicated to extra guest towels and linens – plus a high chair and a Pack ‘N Play for anyone staying with infants – we left the bottom half empty so guests can toss in extra clothes, suitcases, whatever.

Duplex Hallway Linen Closet Open Organization
wall mural | quilt | ironing board | white bins | high chair | pack n play | door: SW White Truffle

And see those silver rods corralled in the bottom corner of the closet? That’s John’s ingenious way of storing the legs to the high chair that lives on that top shelf (so they’re easier to see/grab and not hidden up there on that high shelf). The white hoops are just 3″ PVC pipe couplings from the plumbing aisle at Home Depot ($1.68 each!) and we labeled them so people aren’t like… “are these headless golf clubs? Some sort of fold-away tent? A new way to communicate with aliens?”

Duplex Linen Closet Organization Ikea High Chair Legs DIY Holder

Here’s a closer shot of things like a few extra bath towels (each room has a pair left on the bed for guests when they arrive), and we have two Pack N Play sheets for people to use along with an iron, hairdryer, and first aid kit. We had some fun with a label maker as John mentioned on Monday’s podcast (I know, we are PARTY ANIMALS) just so everyone knows where to find things. It also makes it easier for our house cleaners to put things back in the right spot between guests.

Labeled White Bins in Duplex Linen Closet

We were even able to communicate some simple instructions to our guests with the labels we added. For example, the washcloth bin says “use gray ones for makeup removal please” since we heard from our cleaners that light colored washcloths rapidly get ruined when guests use them to take off their makeup.

Duplex Hallway Linen Closet Target Bin Label Organized With Washcloths

We also learned that it’s smart to add photos to your Airbnb listing of the perks you’re offering, so we snapped some shots of the high chair set up downstairs, so anyone scrolling through the pics sees it without having to read a bunch of fine print.

high chair | art | dining chairs

We also took a photo of the Pack N Play, which fits nicely between the double closets in the master bedrooms (as well as in a few other spots). It’s hard to see in this pic, but that window has white faux wood blinds, cause nobody wants to put baby in a corner super bright spot 😉

pack n play | rug | baskets | bench

But the hardest working closets in the duplex are downstairs under the stairs, right next to the TVs on either side. Renters won’t have access to them, but we thought you might be curious to see what’s in our locked owner’s closets.

Target X Base Bookcase As Media Cabinet With Floating TV
 |  | baskets | cord cover |  |  | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW White Truffle

These closets are for us to store all of the refills and extras that our cleaning people will need to access on both sides of the house as they flip them between guests. It’s all a learning curve to us, so I’m sure this will change over time, but inside we’ve got all sorts of bulk-sized refills for things like hand soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, dish detergent, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash (thank you Costco!). You can hear more about our adventures of being new Costco members here – it’s a whole new world.

Duplex Owners Closet For Airbnb Rental
back-of-the-door storage | plastic shelf | gray bins | tankless water heater | door: SW White Truffle

The closet isn’t huge, so we added some wire-shelving to the back of the door to wrangle small items like coffee grounds, coffee filters, tea bags, Sugar In The Raw packets, tissues, sandwich bags, light bulbs, bathroom spray, sponges, small bathroom trash bags, and various soaps. Then we bought one of these tall plastic garage shelving units and split it across the two owner’s closets (thanks to the sloped ceiling, one half of the unit fit perfectly on each side).

The plastic shelf helps us store toilet paper, paper towels, kitchen trash bags, and extra linens in case the cleaners don’t have time to fully launder everything between guests – or if they find something that has been stained or ripped that needs quick replacing. We’re learning that these very short turnover windows make it really important to have extra items on hand so there’s not a huge last minute panic. Here’s hoping!

Duplex Owners Closet Back of Door Organization

Some people reading the list of things we’re providing might be like WHAAAAAA????!!!” but many other rentals in our area offer those things and we wanted to as well. It totally varies by where you live I think. In the area where John’s parents have their beach rental, nobody provides sheets or towels (EVERYONE BRINGS THEIR OWN!) so it’s pretty funny to see how much things differ by region.

This locked closet is also where we access the tankless water heater & the HVAC system, so there is a hidden key that our plumbing & HVAC pros can access if they ever need to get in to fix something without us being there.

Duplex Owners Closet With Plastic Shelving Labeled Bins

So there it is. The last few finished interior duplex spaces! We still want to do a video walk-through so you can see how it all flows and connects. And we still have to photograph the back patios, which I can’t wait for you to see! They turned out even better than I hoped. Completely unrecognizable from what was back there before. I feel like they might be my favorite makeover in the entire duplex project! So cross your fingers for some good weather so we can get them all photographed ASAP.

P.S. You can see all of the other finished rooms of the duplex that we’ve already revealed (two kitchens! the front and back of the house! four other bedrooms! six bathrooms! two living & dining rooms! two mudroom/laundry rooms!) along with how we planned the layout, tiled the floors & backsplashes, etc, here in our duplex category. It’s almost two years of updates covered in just 20-something posts!

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The post The Last Finished Duplex Spots You Haven’t Seen appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

#128: Finding More Life In Less Stuff

Minimalism can still feel like an “out there” lifestyle, so this week we’re bringing in expert Joshua Becker to share how dipping your toes into the minimalist waters can lead to big gains at home and in life. He shares how to stop the slow creep of household clutter, what minimizing can teach our kids, and how it might even help you achieve some of your biggest life goals that have nothing to do with organizing or paring down. Plus, we take you inside a part of our house that many of you have never seen before, and we share what we’re both doing in the pursuit of a better night’s sleep.

You can download this episode from Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsStitcherTuneIn Radio, and  – or listen to it below! Note: If you’re reading in a feed reader, you may have to click through to the post to see the player.

What’s new

  • It’s a space we haven’t really photographed very much because it’s just been full of junk, leftovers, and decor “in purgatory.” But to give you a sense of its size, here’s a photo we took of it when we bought the house:
  • It’s not as clean as it was then, but it’s definitely a lot less chaotic than it had been before we started finalizing what was going to the duplex and donating everything else we had been holding onto for far too long.
  • And I know Sherry’s video promised a view from the outside to help orient yourself. The attic exists basically as our unfinished third story, which runs under the entire roof in this picture below:

Joshua Becker, The Minimalist Home

We’re Digging

If you’re looking for something we’ve dug in a past episode, but don’t remember which show notes to click into, here’s a master list of everything we’ve been digging from all of our past episodes. You can also see all the books we’ve recommended on our  page.

And lastly, a big thank you to Agility Bed for sponsoring this episode. This week one of our listeners can week a free Agility mattress and a pair of Therapedic pillows by entering at Giveaway ends February 8th.

Thanks for listening, guys!

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This content was originally published here.

How I Style A Bookshelf (Captured On Video In Fast Motion)

Ok, so this post was born from a random comment on Instagram a while back where someone asked if I had ever shared a video of myself styling a bookshelf on video so they could see my process and watch me shift things around… and I was like “would it be interesting/helpful if I recorded myself doing that and shared it?” And then so many people commented under that to basically say YES DO THAT. So I did. And here it is.

My friend Teresa recently added built-ins to her living room and asked if I’d mind coming over to style them. She knows my soul, and is well aware that’s basically my love language (tied with cheese and shrimp). And thanks to that IG request a while back, we brought the camera & tripod to capture it all. Speaking of her new built-ins, this is what the room looked like before with the Ikea bookcases they had from their last house.

And this is what they built with the help of her dad. These things are amazing! The bench seat under the window even folds up to reveal an extra compartment for stashing stuff, along with those two big base cabinets for concealed storage on each side.

Let the record state that there’s nothing wrong with Ikea bookcases, and they can look fantastic. We’ve had inexpensive freestanding Ikea bookshelves in our office for the last five years and love them. In Teresa’s case, she and her husband Andrew said they fit better in her old house – but ever since they moved six years ago they dreamed of someday adding built-ins along that wall. And it finally happened thanks to her extremely handy dad (John was literally wolf-whistling at the finished product). And then I got to swoop in and style them.

Much like nearly anything else you do, there’s a definite learning curve to tackling a bookcase. And I have a few specific (and very easy/free) things you can try that’ll help A TON. So you can hopefully skip over some of the mistakes I made for years and get to a finished result you love.

Oh and whenever we talk about bookcases there’s the inevitable question about what the ratio of books to other objects should be. It most likely will just depend on how many books you own and want to display in that area. That’s how we landed on the number of books on the built-ins in this video. Since they have other spots with books in their house, and that huge lower bench seat serves as additional book storage for the ones they didn’t want out, I just styled the shelves with the ones they wanted up there. It was that simple. Just do whatever you like – it’s your house.

Ok, but on to the video, which I truly think demonstrates so much more than words and even photos can:

Note: If you are viewing this post in a feed reader, you may need to click through to see the video player. You can also watch it here on YouTube.

We looked back at the timestamps, and the entire video took about 22 minutes to film, but I had spent around 10 minutes arranging things into stacks and groupings before we started filming (more on that in a second). So the full process took me about 32 minutes, but it could definitely take you longer if it’s your first or second try at loading up a bookcase. But the key thing to note is that I just kept trying things. Did you see how many items I put down and then moved around?! BASICALLY EVERYTHING. There is so much trial and error, so just try to stay flexible and switch things around until you step back & love what you see.

You’ll have to watch the video to see me demonstrating each tip that comes up on the screen (so definitely come back & watch that if you can’t now). But in addition to those tips – here are three more extra things I thought of after I recorded the video.

Initial Prep Makes Things A Lot Easier

Before ANYTHING goes on the bookcase(s), take out everything you want to put on them so you can see it all together on the floor en masse (like books, large vases, storage boxes and/or baskets, potted plants, picture frames, etc) and combine things to make LARGER GROUPINGS. For the books, put them into larger horizontal and vertical groupings. You can group them by color or subject or whatever you’d like (I often remember the color of a book better than the exact title or author, so I find them more easily when I group ’em by color – but do whatever works for you).

You might also have decorative boxes that you can stack to create a larger grouping. Or smaller objects that you can add to the tops of a few stacks of books that you’ve already made to add height and finish them off. You also might have similar objects that you can display together to make one larger grouping that reads as less busy (for example, a collection of 3 blue glass vases that you can group on top of a large horizontal stack of books).

This initial grouping step with everything laid out on the floor makes the entire process FAR EASIER. In the adjoining room to the bookshelves in this video, I did this exact thing on the floor. So that’s why I just breeze into frame with a stack of boxes all ready to plop down, or a whole grouping of books that are horizontally stacked together. Obviously large objects like vases and baskets, and smaller objects that you’ll pepper in later won’t necessarily have a grouping yet, but pairing up books and boxes and a few smaller things you’ll be displaying en masse is a huge help. Which brings us to my next extra tip…

Fewer Larger Items & Groupings Beat Lots Of Smaller Ones

This tip is born from a mistake I pretty much made constantly for years until it finally dawned on me… LARGER ITEMS AND GROUPINGS ALWAYS LOOK BETTER. Smaller vases sitting alone? Little picture frames not added to a stack of horizontal books or layered in front of a larger one? They look busy. They look piddly. They look lonely with so much space around them. The shelves just don’t look as grounded and balanced and complete when there are tons of little items everywhere.

Literally look at every gorgeous built-in you’ve ever seen and they’ll either have: 1) larger items everywhere (like zero small vases or little picture frames or tiny stacks of books anywhere) or 2) smaller items grouped with other things to appear larger and more unified so they don’t read as a bunch of tiny busy items (like stacked boxes that read as a grouping, small vases or frames placed on top of a horizontal stack of books that read as one unit, etc).

If you’re wondering why your bookcase looks off or busy or just don’t have the presence you’d like, my very first suggestion would be to remove or group smaller things to unify them and make them read as one larger “unit” to the eye when you step back – and to consider adding a few large scale items like a giant vase, a large basket for storage, or some larger book stacks. Sidenote: this also works for mantels, tabletops, open shelving, etc.

Also, This Can Be Gloriously Free!

Don’t forget to check wherever you have extra storage, (the attic, the garage, or even your kitchen cabinets) for large vases, plant pots, frames, and boxes. I often have to style shelves when I stage homes (more on that here and ) and I’m always scouring the house for anything I can use! I’ve totally stacked white shoeboxes and brought in pretty decorative bowls from the kitchen! In the words of Jay-Z, “I’m a hustler, baby. I just want you to know.”

Sometimes just 30 minutes spent using what you have around the house & trying a new arrangement or grouping can make you SO HAPPY. I did it a little while ago with our own living room built-ins and it still feels like a breath of fresh air whenever I walk in there. Talk about a free pick me up!

Can you tell that bookcases excite me? Anyway, I hope the video helped and that you have fun tweaking any shelves or bookcases you have at home. And if you want some other posts that have photos of built-ins or bookcases (or tips for making them), here’s one about building & filling our own living room built-ins, here’s another one where I share how I approach bookshelves when I’m staging a house, and here’s a podcast we did full of tips for anyone who wants a bookshelf full of books (without a lot of accessories in the mix).

P.S. Have you signed up for our free newsletter? It’s like a bonus post that comes to your inbox once a week and we promise never to spam you – you’ll just get tips and photos you can’t see anywhere else.

The post How I Style A Bookshelf (Captured On Video In Fast Motion) appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

The Duplex Laundry Room / Mudrooms: Completed!

Ok, two more duplex rooms are finished and photographed! And these two involved some sweat equity. We built in some nice tall storage cabinets next to the stacked washer/dryers, and also added two hook rails per room (you can never have enough hooks at the beach!).

As a side note, the way that the kitchens connect and flow into each laundry room / mudroom is one of my favorite things in the entire house. From the bold statement tile backplashes and fun tiled mudroom floors to the painted pocket doors (we added those to make it possible to close off the sound of laundry if you’re cooking, dining, or watching TV) – it’s just an area that formerly had zero charm or character. So it feels nice to bring some back!

Hangin Towels Seen Through Kitchen Pocket Doors Into Mudroom
, , and  floor tiles | similar shelf | hooks | towels | cabinets | backsplash | counters | hardware | door pulls | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW White Truffle

Here’s what the pocket doors look like closed. We went with solid wood doors, but added glass panes at the top so light would still pass into the kitchen through the side window in the mudroom (so it wouldn’t suddenly feel dark in the kitchen if you close the doors). We LOVE how they came out. These are called half-lite doors if that helps you find them. Ours are by Reeb. And these are the pulls we added to them. Affordable but so stately (they go with all of our other oil-rubbed bronze doorknobs throughout the house).

Pink Pocket Doors Between Duplex Kitchen And Mudroom

See what I mean about these spaces not having much character before? I mean except for that ceiling fan.

This used to be the view into the laundry room / mudroom, where someone added a very very cramped kitchen at some point (it used to be an open-air side porch, so we know it’s not where the original kitchen was located). These photos are all of the left side of the duplex, by the way, but we’ll get to the right side too.

Oh and see those black dots on the sheet vinyl floor in the before photo above? They’re roaches. They were everywhere when we bought the house because someone had set off a bunch of those roach fogger things before we toured it, so they were still sitting on the floors of a few of the rooms, along with all the belly-up roaches. But we were undeterred! Ha! Slightly grossed out, but honestly we have seen worse…

Anyway, here’s the view now, looking through that same wide doorway where we added the pocket doors and turned that space into a workhorse of a room – complete with a stacked washer / dryer, bonus “pantry” space thanks to the shelving system with baskets (they no longer sell that Ikea shelving system but here’s a similar one), and an entire mudroom portion to the right with tons of hooks, shoe baskets, a bench, etc.

Duplex Mudroom Pantry Storage Open Ikea Shelf Pink Herringbone Floor
, , and  floor tiles | similar shelf | baskets | faux plant | pendant | hooks | towels | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW White Truffle

If you walk into the room all the way and place your back to the back door, this is what you see. Our stacked washer &dryer, and the storage cabinet that we built in next to it (it’s an Ikea Sektion cabinet). We had originally planned to install lower cabinets where the shelving system is below that window, so we never expected to have access to that lower cabinet next to the washer & dryer (since the cabinets would have terminated into that area).

Stacked Washer Dryer In Duplex Laundry Mudroom With Open Shelf
washer | dryer | laundry basket | pink, , and  floor tiles | similar shelf | baskets | faux plant | pendant | hooks | towels | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW White Truffle

But the nice thing about this setup is that while our guests have access to the upper cabinet (where we’ve stocked laundry supplies, etc), we can use the lower shelf for paint and house supplies since it can only be accessed by moving the shelving system… which we anchored to the wall to avoid any tipping over issues with kids. So renters definitely won’t be going in there (no worries about kids somehow discovering our paint cans and repainting the duplex – ha!) but we can access it whenever we need stuff.

Also this floor slays me every time I walk in there. We laid each tile by hand and made the pattern ourselves, but it was totally worth it (more on that process here). Anyway, if you stand in the doorway with the pocket doors and turn to your right you see our jumbo hook rail, with 8 hooks on it (we love these hooks – so affordable and substantial!).

Hanging Towel Hook Storage In Duplex Mudroom With Herringbone Tile Floors
, , and  floor tiles | similar shelf | baskets | faux plant | hooks | towels | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

We debated some sort of built in bench with sides and shelves above it (kinda like this mudroom system) but it’s JUST SO NICE to keep things open and flexible like this. If you walk in with your arms full of bags or groceries or luggage, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to smash into things protruding from the wall. Back when it was a kitchen it felt really narrow due to all the built-in things along that side wall.

This is the view if you stand with your back to the washer/dryer. The secondhand diamond doors that we hunted down and used in here SLAY ME. I am so glad we held out for them and didn’t settle for anything else. The glass panes let in so much light and echo the original diamond paned windows in the front of the house (you can see those here) and they just feel meant to be on so many levels.

Pink Diamond Door In Mudroom With Herringbone Pink Tile Floor
, , and  floor tiles | hooks | towels | faux fig | keypad lock | frame |walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW White Truffle

That door is also our the keyless entry door for renters (since the outdoor showers are out back, so lots of people will walk back there to put their beach chairs in the shed, shower off, and come in using their code). We bought this coded door lock and have loved it so far. Approximately 1,379 inspectors and subcontractors and various other people have used it without any issues.

And just when you thought 8 hooks was enough, I’m gonna tell you once again that, in the words of The Greatest Showman, IT’S NEVERRRRR ENOUGHHHHH. After spending the summer at the pink house we learned you can literally never have too many hooks, so we added four more along this alcove to the right of the back door for a grand total of 12 hooks. We also shoveda bench in there that’ll come in handy for sitting and putting on shoes, etc – and we even added two baskets to store shoes and stuff like that too.

Towel Hook Rail With Pink Diamond Door In Duplex Mudroom With Bench
, , and  floor tiles | bench | baskets | hooks | towels | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW White Truffle

Ok, but now let’s switch over to the right side of the duplex, where it’s sort of an alternate-reality version of the one you just saw. If this house were a choose-your-own-adventure book, and you selected “greeny-gray doors & gray tile” instead of “pink doors and neopolitan ice cream tile” – you’d end up with this room.

Duplex Mudroom Seen Through Kitchen Pocket Doors
cabinets | backsplash tile | counters | hardware | mugs | paper towel holder |  toaster | coffee maker | floor tile | towels | hooks | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW Oyster Bay

Once again it’s looking very different than what we started with:

Here’s the current view through the pocket doors that we added. Oh and see how the doors stick out about 3″ on each side so you can easily grab the handles? We did that on both sides of the duplex to make it obvious to renters that pocket doors existed (we worried if they hid totally in the walls people might miss them). All that we did was add wood blocks to the end of the doors, so they can’t fully slide into the wall to hide completely. Plus it’s so handy because you can easily grab the handles to roll the doors closed since they’re always exposed. Handy to grab the handles. See what I did there?

Open Shelf Through Pocket Doors In Duplex Mudroom Laundry
floor tile | similar shelf | baskets | pendant | hooks | towels | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW Oyster Bay

Here’s the view on this side if you rotate to the right while standing in the kitchen and looking through the pocket door opening. Once again we have a stacked washer & dryer with that nice big built-in cabinet next to them. And we bought another Ikea shelving system to provide bonus pantry storage under the window (we picture people using the baskets and shelves to stash all of their chips, cereal, and other snacks that they keep around for the week).

Duplex Laundry Room With Open Shelf And Stacked Laundry
washer | dryer | laundry basket | floor tile | similar shelf | baskets | pendant | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW Oyster Bay

Here’s the view with your back to the back door. Once again the top cabinet of the built-ins is accessible to renters (and stocked with laundry supplies) but the bottom one will hide paint and house supplies for us, and if we need them we’ll just move that pantry shelf (which is anchored to the wall so it won’t tip – and so renters won’t have access to that lower shelf of supplies).

Duplex Landry Room Stacked Appliances Open Shelf
washer | dryer | laundry basket | floor tile | similar shelf | baskets | pendant | hooks | towels |walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

We also have 8hooks along this wall, and can I just say that I love finding great beach towels? These are actually the same ones we bought for the beach house and have used for over a year. I love the design, the playful fringe, and the generous size – and they have held up so well! Highly recommend.

Dupex Mudroom Hook Rail With Beach Towels Chevron Tile Floor
floor tile | similar shelf | hooks | towels | faux fig | basket | frame | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW Oyster Bay

If you take a few steps back into the kitchen, here’s what it looks like with the pocket doors pulled closed on this side. I love how they feel original and substantial but still let the light stream in from that side window in the laundry area.

Blue Pocket Doors In Duplex Kitchen Between Mudroom
cabinets |  | counters | pendant | faucet | hardware |paper towel holder |  toaster | coffee maker | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White | doors: SW Oyster Bay

If you step into the laundry room and stand with your back to the washer/dryer, this is the view on this side. This secondhand door wasn’t painted and we could’t bring ourselves to cover that lovely wood tone – so we just clear sealed it. Once again, I just ADORE these secondhand diamond doors. They’re a space-making choice for sure, along with the pretty glass pocket doors. Is it weird to have love affairs with doors? I think it’s fine.

Diamond Paned Wood Door In Duplex Mudroom With Chevron Floor
floor tile | hooks | towels | faux fig | basket | frame | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

We also added the four bonus hooks in the little alcove to the left of the back door over here (for a total of 12 hooks on this side too). You can see in the photo above that the alcove is a GREAT SPOT to place that bench without encroaching on the walkway when someone comes in carrying a lot of stuff (since it doesn’t protrude where people actually walk).

We originally placed the benches under the longer hook rails and they felt really tight – but they make so much more sense when they’re tucked into the alcove and it’s a perfect fit. I’ll have to make a video walk-through for you guys soon, so you can see every single inch of these spaces, and get a better idea of how they all flow together.

Diamond Paned Wood Door With Bench And Hooks In Duplex Mudroom
floor tile | hooks | towels | bench | baskets | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

So there are the two mudrooms / bonus pantry space / laundry rooms in each side of the duplex. Not only do they add a ton of function to the entire house, they’re so pretty to our eyeballs. And I literally can’t pick a favorite so don’t make me!

P.S. You can see all of the other finished rooms of the duplex that we’ve already revealed (two kitchens! the front! the back! four bedrooms! six bathrooms! two living & dining rooms!) along with how we planned the layout, tiled the floors & backsplashes, etc, etc, etc here in our duplex category. It’s almost two years of updates covered in just 25 posts!

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The post The Duplex Laundry Room / Mudrooms: Completed! appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

Before & Afters Of Our Beach House: Upstairs

Many moons ago John shared the beach house before & after photos from downstairs (tons of never before seen angles!) right here in this post. And it has taken us a while (how has it been eight months?!) to get the upstairs before & afters all together so you can see all of those comparisons, and browse the entire second floor of our project, which we are thrilled came together (it was looking ROUGH at the start). So let’s pop upstairs & look around, shall we? Because the transformations were just as big up there…


Here’s the upstairs hall as you face the front room that we converted into a mini storage room & office. There was tons of water damage, mold, and termite damage throughout the entire top floor.

beach house before upstairs landing crumbling drywall painted floor

This is the same angle now, with smooth walls and a non cracking ceiling! Makes all the difference, eh?!

If you take a few steps towards that doorway, this is what the room looked like when we bought the house:

And here it is now that we converted it into an office with the addition of some really simple shelves that rest on brackets (and a very basic desktop that we hung in a similar way). It adds SO MUCH FUNCTION to such a small space (when in doubt, go vertical whenever you can!).

chair / gold frame / curtains / curtain rod / shelf brackets / shelf tutorial here


This is what the front bedroom looked like when we got the house – we could see potential in that beautiful floor that we refinished, but it was pretty much a blank slate.

Here’s that room now, all furnished & welcoming for guests. This room gets such great light, so we love putting up friends & family who come to stay. It’s so lovely sometimes I wish it was our master bedroom – but there’s no attached bath. So we have the smaller bedroom in the back & leave this loveliness for anyone who comes to stay with us.

headboard / duvet cover / blue blanket / night stands / lamps / wood bench / curtain rods

Without a doubt my favorite part is this original chimney that we exposed (it used to be hiding in the wall behind drywall) and this dresser, sconce, and mirror setup that we created (the inlay dresser was my best craigslist score to date!).

 / rug / sconce

To give you more of an idea about how far back we stripped things at this house, here’s a photo that was taken from a similar angle back before the walls went back up. In order to address all the water damage & ensure everything was structurally sound, we had to go all the way back to the studs – and we patched that hole in the brick while we were putting everything back together.


There was also a middle bedroom that you used to have to walk through to get to the back bedroom (so… zero privacy). We opted to add a central hallway to change that middle bedroom into a fully private room (now people could take the hallway to get to the back bedroom instead of passing through this one. Oh and it came with a very rotten foosball table full of roaches and a ceiling that was literally crumbling onto the floor in a few spots. Not pictured: giant hornet’s nest.

Here’s the central hall we added, so you can see how it totally changed the entire upstairs for the better! We kept everything light in color, so it didn’t feel closed in, and we love how functional it all became with the addition of a few added walls and doorways. And if you’re looking for affordable hallway or bathroom or closet lights, these small industrial guys are such a great price and look really clean. The putty color on top is perfect.

gold frame / ceiling light

This is the small but cozy middle bedroom that we furnished simply with some soft upholstered items, wood tones, and then some nice brass and oil-rubbed bronze touches.

 /  /  / curtain rod / duvet cover /  / 


If you spin around in the doorway of the middle bedroom above, you’ll face the doorway to the bunk room, which was one of the worst areas in the house when we bought it. The walls were so damaged & rotten, that’s light from outside that’s shining in (and yes, if light can come in, every time it rained this room rotted more – we couldn’t even stand in a few parts of it because the floor was so badly damaged it could have collapsed).

There were also some animals living in here – hence all that debris on the floor. It was a mess.

Here’s that room now, after completely removing that side of the house and rebuilding it from scratch. We love to save what we can, but it just wasn’t secure or salvageable – but it was worth all that work because now it’s clean, and cozy, and free of animal excrement! HOORAY!

blackout shade /  /  /  / 

We built the bunk beds above that you see from scratch (here’s the tutorial for you) and had fun trying to get the wood ladder to tie into the original heart pine floors. That’s right, we saved them and put them back in when this portion of the house was rebuilt!


Here’s another shot of the bunk room, this one is if you have your back to the bunks. You can see that totally open area in the ceiling at the corner where every animal was slipping in with all of their friends.

We actually realized that we didn’t need such a long skinny room for the bunks when we were rebuilding, so somehow we squeezed a full bathroom, complete with a shower, into this space as well as the bunk room! It was another super functional update that we’re so glad we made.

drum stool / similar vanity / mirror / light fixture / towel / blinds

You access this bathroom from the same hallway you get to the bunk room and the middle bedroom, and we loved adding a lot of personality with that blue patterned tile on the wall.

Oh and I should mention that every single wood door upstairs is original to the house. We stripped and waxed them so they’re completely refreshed looking, but they still have great old details like the original latches and knobs (this one has a tiny ceramic knob, but many others have larger turned wood ones – they’re all so full of wonderful character and still work well for us).

patterned blue tile / subway wall tile / hex floor tile / 


This was the view when we bought the house if you walked up the back stairs and looking into the back bedroom, which used to open right up to the stairs themselves.

We didn’t do much reconfiguring of that wall you see above, but boy did it transform when we redid the walls and refinished the floors! There’s another original door and you can see what I mean about the wooden doorknobs that a lot of them have! They’re so unique and feel so solid in your hands.

 / night stands / wall sconces / similar headboard / similar duvet cover / blue pillow

If you spin around and stand with your back to the doorway above, this was the view when we bought the house. See how the stairs just popped you up into the room without much privacy for anyone sleeping in the back bedroom (which we turned into the master bedroom).

Well, after A TON of brainstorming, we came up with the idea of pocket doors that could be open so the light from that window would still pass into the bedroom, but at night (when there’s no light to enjoy anyway) they can be closed for privacy – so we can sleep in the bedroom and not feel like anyone in the kitchen can just pop up into our space. They create such nice privacy and also feel extremely original. Whenever anyone tours the house they can’t believe they weren’t there before.

similar rug /similar duvet cover / fan

Also, a quick chat about fans. They’re so nice in vacation house bedrooms – many people prefer to sleep with one on for a gentle breeze and we didn’t get it until we added them to all of the bedrooms here at the beach house & NOW WE GET IT! They’re also hard to find attractive ones that are quiet and work well and don’t look awful – but we got these and think they’re just beautiful. In two years of using them, we have had zero issues and really love them. So much that we added fans to the duplex bedrooms too!


The master bathroom was arguably one of the worst rooms that we inherited. The floors were so brittle we couldn’t walk on them and the tub was extremely close to falling through to the first floor. Oh and the ceiling was collapsing above it. Generally: everything was falling apart.

This room also had to be completely removed from the house and rebuilt from scratch since none of the studs or structure was stable – but again it was completely worth it because we earned a lovely master bathroom that doesn’t have holes in the ceiling or a floor that’s about to give way. SCORE!

glass shower wall / wall tile / vanity / white hex floor tile / blue hex floor tile

This was the view as you faced the tub (while standing in the bathroom doorway)…

… and this is that same view now that everything is rebuilt. You can see that we reconfigured the tub to be off to the right, centered under another lovely and large window. That move meant that we could add a freestanding shower to the left of the room. We also laid this small hex floor by hand, making the little blue flowers one by one, tile by tile (more on that here). It took forever but it feels so charming and original and beachy. We are so glad we did it! It’s one of our favorite details in the entire house.

marble table / wall hooks / white hex floor tile / blue hex floor tile


We inherited a pretty overgrown and lackluster yard thanks to it being really small and full of poison ivy and not much else…

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Beach-House-Backyard-Before-Vertical-768x1024.jpg

… but the after might be one of our favorite updates to date!

patio table set | lounge set |  |  |  | similar drum stool | shed: SW Mellow Coral

That before shot was from October 2016 and the next one was taken just a few weeks later, right after we cleared some of the brush and weeds. It’s also the project that gave John the worst case of poison ivy of his life. #memories

So yes, this backyard and I got off to a rocky start. But all is forgiven now because it has become one of our absolute favorite places in the world. No joke. We are out here basically every night that we are in Cape Charles.

 |  |  |  |  |  | | shed: SW Mellow Coral

The end result is also made sweeter by the fact that we had to wait for it longer than originally planned. Our original schedule was to tackle this in the fall of 2017, once our contractor Sean finished the inside of the house. But a new little project distracted all of us (ahem, the duplex!) and we back-burnered the beach house backyard. So for our first few months of staying in the otherwise finished beach house, this was our view out the back door:

Slowly but surely we got moving back there – getting a hot tub, adding a paver patio, and getting a shed built in a spot that would make the most of the layout and give us a nice nestled feeling. And thanks to a few strategic furnishings and a lot of greenery, here we are today! Our little backyard beach house oasis…

patio table set | lounge set |  |  |  | similar drum stool shed: SW Mellow Coral

The before shot below was the red rusted out shed we got with the house:

And here’s our new setup, which allows us to enter the shed from the left side (that path leads to two double doors that swing out without disrupting the dining area to the right – plus we got to add a charming planter box on the front).

Right across from the hot tub is our outdoor shower. Our contractor installed the same vinyl outdoor shower kit that he put in over at the duplex and it’s quickly becoming the most used shower in the entire house.

 | house light |  |  | house: SW Mellow Coral | door: SW Pale Patina

Oh, and this is what that same area looked like when we bought the house – complete with a not-so-safe-looking awning that we tore off ourselves. But the back door is still the same one, we just repainted it a cheerful new color (SW Pale Patina – the same color as the duplex shutters and the doors to our pink shed).

And I’ll leave you with one last before & after. This was the view down our side yard when we bought the house (ours was the tree-covered one on the right side).

And here’s that view today. The fence is also new and matches the ones that both of our neighbors already have in their side yards. It gives us some privacy, allows our dog Burger to be loose in the backyard, and offers a sweet little peek down towards the shed when it’s open. It also swings to be double-wide when needed (future planning for parking a golf cart back there). We love that our neighbors on both sides have the same one so from the street it all looks nicely cohesive – once ours weathers to be that darker brown/gray color it’ll be great.

So we hope you guys enjoyed that beach house before & after fest. And remember you can find all the paint colors & furniture/accessory links on our Beach House page – there are just some linked here – but that post is much more exhaustive. You can also see the downstairs before & afters of the beach house here on our finally finished (it’s only a year overdue 😉 Beach House Before & After page, which you can find from now on under the blog header in the dropdown menu that says Before & After. And you can browse .

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The Miracle That Is Sanding & Refinishing A Table

This is the story of how not one, but two tables got a complete refresh thanks to a little elbow grease and, well, a lot of sanding. And it’s also a testament to how generally great secondhand finds can be (they literally can look like new – or even better than something new). It’s also a testament to how straightforward it can be to breathe new life into an old piece of furniture. Not all DIY projects are always straightforward, so let’s hear it for that adjective!

Since the duplex has two dining spaces (one on each side) we obviously needed two dining tables. For one side we planned to use our old dining table, which you’ve probably seen in this photo from our second book.

young house love bright modern dining room makeover home decor

We replaced it over a year ago with a bigger table that we also scored secondhand – this time on Facebook Marketplace – and while some sleuths noticed the change on IG Stories or in a random social media photo, it wasn’t always easy to catch because it has pretty much been constantly covered in supplies waiting to be delivered to the duplex for the last six months. So if you saw it, you didn’t see much of it.

Anyway, the table shown above has been stored up in our attic for the last year or so, just waiting for eventual transport to the duplex. But first, it needed some love…

We actually got this table as part of a table swap with a friend. What, you haven’t heard of a table swap? Just kidding it’s not a thing, but it worked out well. She needed a big round table and the one we’d used in our second house was too wide for our current dining room, so we traded our big round one for her rectangular Crate & Barrel one. It fit our space MUCH better, but she warned us it was pretty scratched up and needed some refinishing. We’d always planned to sand & restain it at some point… it just took us nearly 5 years to do it!

We were a little anxious about taking a sander to a Crate & Barrel table, so we dipped our toes in slowly by first sanding the top of one of the legs. If it was a bust, no one would ever see the attempt. But fortunately, it worked. BEAUTIFULLY.

But before I show you more of this table, let me introduce you to the other secondhand table we refinished for the other side of the duplex.

My sister was replacing her old solid-wood dining table (which you can see in this old post from when we house crashed her in 2013) and we jumped at the chance to buy it before she listed it on Facebook. It too was pretty worn from years of use, but the size was perfect and we loved how solid and casual it was. I was less nervous about ruining this one, so I took my sander right to the top and went to town.

The battery-operated corner cat sander I already owned did a fine job, but it took a long time to get the finish off of this table completely. And even after an hour or so of work, it still wasn’t quite as stripped as I’d hoped. So I bought this $79 corded random orbital sander to see if a little bit more power (cue the Tim Taylor jokes) could get me a cleaner and faster result.

It. Was. So. Worth. It.

It immediately showed me how good it was for removing some of the more stubborn scratches and marks on this table (see the left photo above, which was taken before I used it, and the much cleaner and more stripped shot on the right, which was taken as I was going over it with the orbital sander).

It was also a lot faster, which helped immensely when it came to sanding off the thick factory finish on the Crate & Barrel table. Can you even believe how much wood grain was hiding under that dark red stain??

All in all it probably took us 2 to 3 hours to sand both tables, especially because of all of the legs and aprons we had to get too. But I was happy to have discovered the new heavier-duty sander and even MORE happy about the results.

We decided to transport them to the duplex like this and then stain and seal them in place, that way we could be sure we liked how the stain colors were looking in the space (and adjust them if they looked weird in the rooms). First we tested what it would look like if we just clear sealed both tables.

We loved the result on the table from my sister, since it deepened the color only slightly and didn’t disguise any of the wood grain. Sherry applied one coat of basic water-based sealer, and then for our second coat we tried this “Triple Thick” version to hopefully add extra protection and durability. It went on just as easily and we love the satin finish. Highly recommend it.

Here’s a reminder of what the top of this table looked like before:

And once we finished clear-sealing it, the lop looked like this:

Now the room has come a lot further (as well as that kitchen behind it), so this is the final result. We love how it ties into the wood door that you see peeking out of the mudroom next to the kitchen.

Duplex Dining Room With Blue And Wood Kitchen In Background
cabinets | white cabinets |  | dining chairs | similar dining table | chandelier | art | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

When it came to the Crate & Barrel table, our little test spot of the clear sealer just brought out the red undertones of the wood when it dried, which is NOT what we wanted. So we decided to stain it with a cooler brown color to downplay the red. Our first instinct was to use Special Walnut by Minwax, since that’s what we used on the duplex floors (you can see the before & afters of those here).

It was looking good as it was going on, but once it dried it looked redder than we wanted (it kinda felt like it was slowly creeping back to the dark red original color that we painstakingly sanded off). So we darted out to the hardware store and bought a gray stain instead (called Classic Gray) and wiped on a very light coat to see if it would cool off the red undertones.

It did just the thing we were looking for, so it was full steam ahead on this combination of stains. As for how we did this step, we wiped on a really light coat of the Classic Gray and then immediately wiped it off (the can usually tells you to wait, but we didn’t want things getting too gray).

In the end we’re so glad that you can still see the variation in the wood tones through those two layered stains, and after that quick Classic Gray coat dried, we did two coats of that same “Triple Thick” sealer we used on the other table and BINGO BANGO, both tables were done.

Oh and we only had to buy two of the gray dining chairs because four of them were the ones that we already had at the beach house (before we opted to replace four of them them with long benches). Sidenote: our dining table at the beach is ALSO a secondhand find! Yes, we own four dining tables, and none of them are new.

capiz chandeliers | benches | chairs | marble vase | rug | wall color: White Heron by Sherwin Williams | trim color: Stone Isle by Sherwin Williams

Let’s just glance back one more time at where the red duplex table started.

And here we are now, complete with our tiered capiz chandelier (in the gold finish) above that table.

Bright Dining Room With Capiz Chandelier Looking Into Pink And Blue Kitchen
dining chairs | similar dining tablechandelier | mirror | cabinets |  | pendant | faucet | hardware | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

On the other side we used our mixed-finish wire globe light (which also comes in white + brass, or all bronze) and added the white dining chairs from our furniture line. Sherry laughed about the fact that between the table, the chairs, and the backsplash in here, we’re repping something old, something new, and something blue. Maybe the duplex guests can count as “something borrowed” since they aren’t permanent? Might be a stretch.

Duplex Dining Room With Blue And Wood Kitchen In Background
cabinets | white cabinets |  | dining chairs | similar dining table | chandelier | art | walls: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

In the end, neither of us really knew what to expect as the outcome of these refinishing escapades, but we’re extremely relieved that they worked out so well. And apart from the new sander, some sealer & stain, and the cheap family rate my sister gave us on her table (ha!) we didn’t have to spend anywhere close to the cost of two brand new tables. Which clearly is our favorite party trick because our other two dining tables are also secondhand. Just gotta get around to refinishing them sometime… maybe in five more years if we stick to our pattern.

P.S. For lots of other furniture makeovers & DIY projects, check out our Furniture Upgrades category.

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Holiday House Tour 2018 & How We Decorated The Beach House! | Young House Love

Wanna see how we decorated our house (and the beach house) for Christmas? We have a ton of photos for you, so let’s get right into it. Since we for Christmas (literally all I wanted for Christmas was a white brick house, ha!) we had so much fun trying some new things out front.

We did some (why are those so hard to find?!) on the trees on each side of the door. Remember I upgraded those to because I can’t kill them and the taller height looks nicer on the porch with all the white brick. Those pots are actually the same ones we have had for 4+ years… I just spray painted them “Copper Rose” by Rustoleum (built in primer for the win – took about 30 minutes tops).

And of course I added my magnolia wreath that I make at that I go to with some of my favorite ladies every year (and every year my wreath gets bigger… I’m learning to let go you guys). This year we also added two fresh 14′ evergreen garlands from Trader Joe’s (just $7.99 each!) and I gotta say, we love the real greenery so much that I think that’ll be an annual tradition right along with my wreath-making pilgrimage (John strung up some more of the same  in there and we put the garland lights and the potted plants on the same so they switch on and off every night on their own).

Other than that we just have our favorite LED battery candles in all of the front windows (more timers for the win! no running around turning them on and off every night – they’re completely autopilot!). We debated adding some more lights to the bushes and I’m not gonna lie, I campaigned hard for … but John was just not that into them. So while the exterior decorations don’t exactly rival the Griswolds, we do have FOUR CHRISTMAS TREES INSIDE (!!!) so our Christmas spirit is still alive and well.

I can’t wait to take a picture of the house all covered in the ultimate holiday decoration… snow! I might just lose my mind when I see it blanketed in fluffy white stuff for the first time. So, picture of that to come!

We also grabbed one more of those fresh 14′ garlands from Trader Joe’s to hang around the windows in the kitchen, which only took a few minutes (we just tapped a small picture nail into the top of the molding on each side of the window – which is also how we hung the one outside around the door surround). They’re such small nails that we put into the very top of the trim in both cases, so they’re basically invisible. So lazy me is debating just leaving them there year-round so they’re ready to hold garland each December.

I also tucked a few of my favorite little holiday things around the house, like that I got a few years back, which I stuck together in a group on .

I kept the mantel simple this year with one of my favorite big pink bottle brush trees (it’s from Target years ago but here’s ). I also added that I picked up (one of my only holiday buys this year – they’re just so sweet I couldn’t resist – and they have little lights inside that glow thanks to two small batteries in the base).

On the other side of the mantel is a little faux flower pot that I got maybe 6 months ago at Target (they didn’t sell them as holiday decor – I think they were actually out in the spring) but they look so festive with their red & green (and pink – ha!) tones to me. And then I dragged in this pink vase I got maybe a year ago (sadly no longer sold) and added to the inside because DANG IT’S SO CUTE balancing out the glowing pink tree on the other side of the mantel.

This is (I think, they keep moving the link & changing the name) and it hasn’t had a “theme” in years. We just pile it full of handmade ornaments from the kids and friends and things we have made ourselves (like and these made from kid-art along with ornaments we’ve collected over the years, or during our travels. Viva la mish-mash!

The kids’ stockings are the same ones I got a few years back (here are ). Each year I add  (random alert!) just because it’s a fun pop of color and hey, if I can’t get John to go for leopard print stockings, at least I can get some sassy little elephants in there.

Over in the dining room I grouped my remaining bottle brush trees (all collected over the years – here are ) on and called it good.

But about those four Christmas trees I mentioned… while we’re pretty minimal with most holidays (like zero decor for Saint Patrick’s Day or Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving) I think Christmas is just our fav. And I can’t tell you how much we enjoy seeing glowing in the bonus room window at the end of the hall. We spend movie nights in here and can even see it glowing in the window when we pull into the garage, so it’s a nice spot for a little tree. And the kids love hanging the mostly felt & plush stuffed ornaments all over it – complete with the abominable snowman on top.

Oh and just like we do downstairs, we use around the base. We only need one for this little tree, and our main tree in the living room gets three.

Another tree lives in our son’s room, and it’s a retro feeling green tinsel one (here’s) with colorful lights that our boy picked out himself last year. It looks really fun with his bright green closet door (it’s Irish Moss by Benjamin Moore). Also that sequin banana ornament is from Target and he loves it. Oh and the wooden reindeer next to the tree was made by John’s grandpa many decades ago.

Before bed each of our kids walk into the hallway and ask Alexa to turn off their tree and it magically goes off, which thrills them to no end. Speaking of which, John “Lover Of Smart Tech” Petersik made a quick video to show you how a  can make turning a tree on and off whenever you want a LOT easier (especially one with the plug in an annoying spot). You don’t need Alexa or some other hub for this plug, by the way – you can just control it from your phone, which is nice. Sure, we could put this tree – or any of our other trees – on a basic timer like our exterior lights, but we love that we can turn on all the trees in the morning with one command (you can bulk multiple actions to happen at once). And similarly, we can turn all four of our trees off at once if we’re running out the door to a meeting or dinner. Note: You may need to click through from your blog reader to view the video player. And you can.

Our daughter has also loved having a tree in her room for a few years now (here’s ) and she takes great joy in redecorating it pretty much every morning. I like sticking her tree into  (it’s a fun deviation from having a tree skirt – and it looks cute with her bold closet door, which is painted Cinco De Mayo by Benjamin Moore).

If you listened to , you know we thinned out our decorations in an attempt to keep things simpler this holiday season (since I’ve been working on simplifying the house in general over the past year, I didn’t want to undo all my efforts by cramming every surface with holiday decor). And thanks to that pairing down session, we ended up with a bunch of “overflow” holiday decorations that we could bring to the beach house! We’ll be spending some time there with family over the holidays too, so we were really excited to decorate it for the first time. So three cheers for not spending a ton of money throwing all the things into my cart at Target, and getting to basically decorate this entire house with leftover stuff (aka: free!!!). I did purchase one tree – but literally even the ornaments on it are things we already had, so I’m calling it a win.

You probably remember seeing these  with  all over our house (both out on the porch and inside under the console table, depending on the year) and now they’re living it up at the beach house, along with that used to be on our porch before we upsized them.

The wreath on the door is one that we bought last year but (I LOVE the little gold bells with the gold transom numbers over them). Everything was so simple to plop down on the porch, and I love the bright red color of the boots with the pink siding (see for more on my love of pink & red together for the holidays).

Inside you’ll probably remember this as the one I used last year on the mantel. I liked keeping the fireplace mantel more cleared off next to the big green tree this year – and adding our garland to this table was a nice way to bring some rich green color into our mostly-white-and-gray entryway. Plus I was able to double it up so it looks extra thick on that marble top (more on ).

Over in the living room is the tree we bought – the single solitary purchase we made for the entire beach house decorating effort. I’ve always wanted one of these “” with charmingly sparse branches – and they had a big pre-holiday sale so I got this 6.5′ one for around $160.

All of the ornaments are ones that we already had from trees we did ages ago (we did waaaay back in the day, and have also done which is where the little green pear is from – oy, don’t mind those horrible photos from like a decade ago). We’ve found as we add more collected and homemade ornaments to our main tree in the living room of our house, the themed ornaments from those older trees have been used less, just because we don’t need 10 pink balls when we can have 10 random preschool masterpieces – ha! But I’m so glad we saved them because they’re perfect for this little tree here! Especially since it’s the pink house 😉

Oh wait, but we did buy ! I love that little yarn pom-pom stuff. It took three of them to do our 6.5′ tree and honestly if there had been four that would have been even better, but I got the last three.

Over in the back wall of the kitchen are a few other things I’m sure you’ll recognize if you’ve seen past holiday tours. Like that I painted seven whole years ago (how does time fly that fast?!?!) and a hammered bowl full or ornaments I’ve had forever on all sorts of surfaces. I also added a few feather trees to the kitchen and the pantry and in about 4.5 seconds it was feeling pretty jolly. My favorite thing is my girl did for me. I gave her free reign and just said “how about a holiday quote?” You can tell we watch a lot of Home Alone around here.

The funny thing is that John later remembered that I put that same quote on . Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. And I like her spacing better than mine.

Over by My Favorite Pink Stove Of All Time (yes, that’s its proper name), I leaned up a little plate I got a few years back (here’s ) and two white ceramic nutcrackers I’ve had for years. It’s so sweet how just a few things can make the entire kitchen feel ready to host a whole group of friends and family. I love that it doesn’t take much!

So there it is, a tour of our house all decked out for Christmas, along with some sweet stuff that we mostly repurposed for the beach house. We’d love to hear what you guys are doing to decorate for the holidays over on or , and if you’d like to see , and, here are those links. We also have a few other holiday ideas for you below:

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The Beach House Backyard Makeover (It’s A Biggie)

Just when you thought we were done with backyards (we shared the duplex backyards last week) we’re back with yet another… backyard! And this beach house backyard has been a long time coming, and it started out in an incredibly lackluster state – so we’re excited to show you what we did back there. It might be one of our favorite updates to date – especially since this backyard is really small but it all feels super functional and useful for our family – we’re out there all the time! And it’s about 1000% better than where we started.

patio table set | lounge set | | | | similar drum stool | shed: SW Mellow Coral

There’s a lot to see because we squeezed in SO MUCH into a relatively small space. And surprise! That actually turned out to be the key to creating this cozy and private-feeling area for our family (despite being closely surrounded by neighbors on all sides). But first, let’s flashback to October 2016 and the overgrown jungle we had just purchased. Gulp.

The next photo is taken just a few weeks later, right after we cleared some of the brush and weeds. It’s also the project that gave me the worst case of poison ivy of my life. #memories

So yes, this backyard and I got off to a rocky start. But all is forgiven now because it has become one of our absolute favorite places in the world. No joke. We are out here basically every night that we are in Cape Charles.

patio table set | shed light | lounge set | | | | similar drum stool | shed: SW Mellow Coral

The end result is also made sweeter by the fact that we had to wait for it longer than originally planned. Our original schedule was to tackle this in the fall of 2017, once our contractor Sean finished the inside of the house. But a new little project distracted all of us (ahem, the duplex!) and we back-burnered the beach house backyard. So for our first few months of staying in the otherwise finished beach house, this was our view out the back door:

When the town delayed our duplex plans in early 2018, we briefly returned attention to this area. Sean and his guys cleared out the overgrown vegetation along with the old, rusted, metal shed and we began planning a new one. You may remember hearing Sherry and I debate/argue about the new shed on our podcast around that time. You can hear the details of the disagreement in this episode, but here’s short version: the old shed had been built about two feet onto our neighbors’ property line AND any new structure was required to be set back two feet from that now-closer-than-we-originally-thought property line.

So our new shed would have to encroach four more feet into our yard than the last one had. Sherry didn’t like that and argued for no shed, but I thought one was necessary (are you surprised?) to house all of the sandy stuff like beach chairs and umbrellas and floats that we were dragging into the house for the first summer without it. I’m like the Oprah of backyard sheds. To every yard I’m basically like “you get a shed! you get a shed! you get a shed!” Spoiler: I was right – Sherry even admits it on camera in the video later in this post.

BUT ANYWAYS… by the time we agreed on something, the duplex delays had been resolved and the crew was full steam ahead over there. Meaning this backyard got left in the dust – or, more literally, the mud – for nearly a year.

Having an incomplete muddy backyard for our first summer in Cape Charles wasn’t the worst thing ever, but it was a noticeable rain on our proverbial parade. Because when there was an actual rain (or just a bunch of wet sandy kids coming back from the beach and using the outdoor shower) there was an actual parade of mud into the house even after they showered – cause there was mud between the outdoor shower and the back door. So it made us even more excited to complete this space.

We temporarily satisfied that appetite later that summer in the form of the hot tub we bought in August. Sherry (Lover of Hot Water, First Of Her Name) always wanted one, and I think it was also another way for us to make lemonade out of the limbo that the yard was stuck in. You’ve probably seen pics of it like this on Instagram, and there’s a reason why they’ve always been cropped like this.

The yard around the hot tub was just a grassy, muddy mess. We threw down a few large pavers to create a relatively mud-free walk to and from the hot tub, but it was – shall we say – subpar. I don’t even have any pictures of it. But here’s one from right before the hot tub was delivered to give you an idea. That’s the concrete pad we had poured for it to sit on.

So while the hot tub allowed us to enjoy the backyard, it also made us even more impatient to finish the rest of it. So earlier this year – once the crew was done on the inside of the duplex – we finally got to work on the backyards of the beach house AND the duplex somewhat simultaneously. It was kind of a whirlwind, but we were able to get some cost efficiencies by bundling the projects together (basically 3 sheds and 3 patios all at once – which saved us some money because we got to bulk order materials like stone and hardiplank and negotiate thanks to sheer shed volume).

I wish I had more progress photos, but we didn’t catch a whole lot of “in between” stages on our visits out to Cape Charles. But just like the duplex sheds, this one was custom built in place by Sean’s crew – using the same Hardiplank siding, the same pink paint color as the house (Mellow Coral by Sherwin Williams), and even the same tin roof that we’ve got on the main house. And I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but that was actually cheaper to have this custom built than to have a pre-built one of the same size trucked in.

Here’s what the area looked like back in March, after the patio crew was done and it was now up to Sherry and I to turn it into something inviting and cozy.

And thanks to a few strategic furnishings and a lot of greenery, here we are today! Our little backyard beach house oasis…

patio table set | lounge set | | | | similar drum stool | shed: SW Mellow Coral

So now that you’ve seen how we got here, let me point out some of the details and decisions behind what we did – and why it works so well for us. Let’s start with my pride and joy: the shed. Well, not the red rusted out shed below – the new one. Remember how I said the old shed was built 2-feet over our property line? That tree is effectively the end of our property.

We were initially annoyed by the setback rules for the new shed, since it created a 4-foot wide “dead zone” with the property line shifting 2′ over and the shed having to be placed two more feet to the right of our property line. But then we realized we could make the unconventional choice of putting the shed doors on THAT side of the shed…

It not only made use of that “dead zone” because we realized we could just add a paver path along the 2′ shed setback strip of our property (so the shed no longer felt oddly pushed to the right), and it also meant that we didn’t have to account for door swing clearance on the patio side of the shed, which would’ve prevented us from having a dining table out there. Plus we could focus on making the more visible sides of the shed pretty to look at (like adding a big window box on the front, for example). They call me The Shed Whisperer. Just kidding nobody calls me that.

| shed lights| string lights | shed color: SW Mellow Coral | door color: SW Pale Patina

I’ll show you the inside of the shed once it’s not a disaster pile, but trust me that it has been a game changer storage-wise. We have no garage or basement or anything at the beach house, so until now all of our tools, yard equipment, beach gear, etc has been stuffed inside in various places. So it has been HUGE to be able to keep all of that messy stuff out of the house now.

| window box |

The shed is 7′ x 11′, which is kind of a weird size – but we chose it precisely to fill the space (it leaves us enough room for everything else we planned back there, but is still large enough to create some privacy and contribute to the cozy, nestled feeling we wanted).

Speaking of privacy, Sean also added that little section of fence for our neighbors since their existing one wasn’t completely enclosed. It couldn’t be as tall as the lattice fencing due to a large tree limb that we all agreed we wanted to keep, but now both of our dogs can roam free in our respective yards and eventually the new section of fencing will weather to be the same color as the existing stuff so it’ll blend right in.

It’s also the same height as the fencing on the right of the shed in the shot above, so it should feel nicely balanced once it darkens in color over time.

The other big feature we added (and perhaps the other “elephant in the room”) is not the hot tub itself, but the hot tub STEPS. The Jacuzzi came with some basic plastic steps that we used all last year, but they were small, low, and a little unstable. So we knew we wanted something more permanent and substantial, and boy did we get it. Ha!

The crew who did the patio made these wide stone steps using a cinder block base covered with the same affordable pavers (they’re adhered in place over the cinderblock). The steps not only provide a much easier entry into the hot tub itself, but they also act as a convenient place to set your drink while you’re in the water and, better yet, even create additional seating. Sherry describes them like having a console table/bench right outside the hot tub and it’s true – we set a ton of stuff down on them, sit on them, etc.

These stairs are actually one of the shadiest spots throughout the day so they’ve become one of the more popular spots for our kids to hang out. They’ve probably eaten more snacks and meals there than at the table! And I know we’ll be so grateful for them when we have people over for a 4th of July cookout next week! Flexible extra seating and space to set things down = jackpot.

As for the dining area, we just wanted something that could seat 6 people but still fit in that pretty small space between and shed and the hot tub, and this 7-piece set was such a great buy (it’s even lower now because it’s a “Special Buy” – just $561 for seven pieces!). We paid $100 more and still thought it was an awesome deal because we saw it over here for $800 something!

I also have to point out a surprisingly beloved feature that is a complete fluke. See all that ivy? That’s our other neighbors’ old, rusty, metal shed (also built 2 feet onto our property – just like our shed had been shoved over on the other side). We originally hated it, but now it adds SO MUCH to the nestled-in-greenery vibe back here that we’re hoping our neighbors don’t replace it anytime soon.

Right across from the hot tub is our outdoor shower. Our contractor installed the same vinyl outdoor shower kit that he put in over at the duplex and it’s quickly becoming the most used shower in the entire house. We recently had to cut down some ivy that was encroaching on the house too much, but we’re eager for it to grow over the shower a little bit more because there’s something weirdly satisfying about having greenery in your shower.

| house light | | | house: SW Mellow Coral | door: SW Pale Patina

Oh, and this is what that same area looked like when we bought the house – complete with a not-so-safe-looking awning that we tore off ourselves. But the back door is still the same one, Sherry just repainted it a cheerful new color (SW Pale Patina – the same color as the duplex shutters and the doors to our pink shed).

While I take full credit for the shed (I also take full credit for my modesty) – I will give Sherry her due for the little lounge area she carved out in that spot next to the back stairs. We originally considered a planting bed there, but Sherry realized if we extended the patio all the way to the house, there’d be room for one of the functions the back yard lacked: a place to recline, kick your feet up, dry off in the sun after hot-tubbing, read a book, snuggle the dog, whatever.

She kept telling me she wanted something like two lounge chairs side-by-side, almost like you’d find on a pool deck. But we actually had a lot of trouble hunting down something that wouldn’t stick out too far into the walkway. But eventually Sherry stumbled on this lounge set and it’s been PERFECT (we got it on Amazon, but now only the bench is there for some reason – but we did find that one on Ebay). It has been perfect, not only in size, but it’s also super flexible. The bench can be pushed in to create essentially a big outdoor bed, or pushed out to become a foot rest, extra seating, or even a little coffee table.

lounge set | | bowl | similar outdoor pillow | shed light

The listing photo shows it with a fabric canopy draped over the top rails (and inexplicably, a rain chain???) but none of that is actually included. So we originally planned to cut off the posts, but they’ve kinda grown on us. The house provides plenty of shade so we’re thinking maybe some string lights around it? Or some outdoor curtains for effect – like this $4000 version but less intense maybe?

And I suppose we should talk a little bit about the plantings and greenery, even though they’re something we’re still kinda winging. Some of this was stuff we planted earlier this spring (like the boxwoods and lamb’s ear in front of the shed that has already doubled in size!) and some literally went in this past Sunday, so time will tell how things grow/survive.

We’re most excited to see how the window box fills in. Sherry found this perfect-sized box and my nephew and I hung in last month. It comes with a cool self-watering system that would be an easy DIY, but I’ll get into that in next week’s email newsletter. We basically filled it with elephant’s ear (for height), sweet potato vine (for trailing) and some rosemary (for mosquito prevention).

Speaking of which, we tried to work in some other mosquito-repellant varieties throughout the yard – like the lavender along the shed, mint in that giant clam shell planter (here’s a similar giant clam shell). Ours is an old accessory Sherry has owned for like 7 years (remember it in our last house’s fireplace?). We also added citronella and peppermint plants in the white pots by the hot tub. We’re not sure how much it’ll actually do to ward off mosquitos, but we figured it was worth a shot.

patio table set | | | shed lights|similar clam shell|

Sherry also shot this quick video (only 2 minutes!) if you want to get a better sense of how it feels to walk around the space at dusk – or if you just feel like your day would be incomplete without a Limp Bizkit reference.

NOTE: If you’re viewing this post in a feed reader, you may need to click through to see the video. You can also watch it here on YouTube.

And I’ll leave you with one last before & after as I wrap this puppy up. This was the view down our side yard when we bought the house (ours was the tree-covered one on the right side).

And here’s that view today. The fence is also new and matches the ones that both of our neighbors already have in their side yards. It gives us some privacy, allows our dog Burger to be loose in the backyard, and offers a sweet little peek down towards the shed when it’s open. It also swings to be double-wide when needed (future planning for parking a golf cart back there). We love that our neighbors on both sides have the same one so from the street it all looks nicely cohesive – once ours weathers to be that darker brown/gray color it’ll be great.

So we hope you guys enjoyed that tour around the beach house backyard. I feel like I didn’t even come close to capturing how happy this space makes us, especially since it feels like the beach house is finally complete*.

*Okay, not really. We’re already realizing this summer that there are some areas inside that could work harder or more efficiently for us (the kids need a crafting spot pronto, because the dining table is always buried in paper scraps and markers). Plus there’s the whole issue of the interior of the shed… which I may or may not have filled our car with lumber to remedy. More of these shed-shelves are on the horizon…

P.S. To see more before & afters of the beach house, and read about fixing it up, here’s a category with 35 posts that cover the entire renovation.

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The post The Beach House Backyard Makeover (It’s A Biggie) appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

Holiday Gift Guides for Everyone On Your List (With Stuff under $20 – And Even $5!)

As is the tradition, I’m a little late with this. Ha! But here it is! (I’m also late with my actual gift buying, so I better get cracking). We like to put all of our gift guides in one place, so below you’ll find the one we made for grown-ups, another one for kids, and (my personal favorite) one full of stuff that’s under $15. 

Gifts For Grown-Ups

Here’s what we’re loving, either firsthand stuff we bought for ourselves and have really enjoyed – or things we’re getting for friends & family (or hoping to find under the tree). 

Gifts For Kids

Once again we put things we actually own and love in here, along with stuff we’re buying our kids this year, or considering for other little cousins & friends. 

Gifts Under $15

Here’s my favorite list to make each year, just because I’m always amazed at how many budget-friendly things are out there that’ll make so many people smile BIG. 

    And since there are some pretty great sales going on right now, here’s what I’ve found so far:

    •  – Up to 70% off
    •  – Up to 40% off furniture and holiday decor 
    •  – Today only, 30% off home 
    •  – Up to 50% off gift items 
    •  – Up to 50% off ready-to-ship furniture 
    •  – Up to 70% off & free shipping 
    •  – 20% off your order & free shipping 
    •  – Save an extra 30% with code REWARDFORYOU  
    •  – Up to 30% off 
    •  – Gifts from $4 and up to 60% the entire store 
    •  – 40% off your purchase 
    •  – 40% off your purchase with the code WINTERFUN 
    •  – 50% off your entire purchase with code MONDAY 

    Psst – To see last year’s lists, a lot of which is still linked and for sale, click here

    *This post contains affiliate links*

    The post Holiday Gift Guides for Everyone On Your List (With Stuff under $20 – And Even $5!) appeared first on Young House Love.

    This content was originally published here.