Our 9 Big Project Before and Afters of 2016!

January 3, 2017  —  Written by Julia 

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We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

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We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! While we haven’t been actively blogging, we did do some major behind-the-scenes upgrades over the past two weeks, switching hosts and moving to our own dedicated server that will hopefully make the blog quicker and more enjoyable for everyone this year.

Every year, we lay out all of our project predictions for the year–the rooms and spaces we hope to tackle in our home–and then at the end of the year we look back, sometimes comically, to see how we did. At the beginning of 2016, we predicted in this post that we’d complete 5 rooms in our home: two bathrooms (nope, nope), the master closet (no, again), the family room/playroom (yes!) and the back deck (yup!). We only checked off TWO of those. Two! But, we did have a fulfilling 2016 even still. So before we break down what we have up our sleeve for 2017, here’s where our energy went in 2016:

1. The Family Room/Playroom:

This large room has been life-changing for our family and it’s hard to believe last year, at this time, it had no function or purpose. This was the longest project of the year, spanning over several months, but it was worth every dollar and minute. We spend a lot of time down here now playing, watching TV, or lounging while Chris plays the piano. Next to the kitchen, it’s probably the room that we use the most. Read more about this big DIY project right here.

2. Long Island Entry Project for Lowe’s!

At the beginning of the year, we had the absolute pleasure to travel to Long Island and make over the entry of a very deserving, impossibly sweet, family for the Lowe’s Spring Makeover. It was an incredibly challenging, 24 hour makeover that I still can barely believe we pulled off but we love how it turned out and are still in touch with the family. We re-watched the little video chronicling the whole thing in this post last night and it brought back all the feelings surrounding that project.

3. Replacing Our Front Door

Although it’s not a complete space, ditching the side light and swapping out our front door (for one we ordered online!) did so much for our home’s curb appeal, and even for how much I love our home. I LOVE it now. Read about how we ordered the door and trimmed it out.

4. The Pittsburgh Kitchen

Topping our list as our most challenging project of our year was the kitchen we did in Pittsburgh for Frigidaire Professional. But, man, was that rewarding, too! We did it in 6 days, light on sleep and heavy on rain, and still talk about it almost every day. How did we do that?! Read all about it here and watch the renovation video here. And the reveal (I cry every time!) here.

5. The Back Deck (and Outdoor Fireplace!)

In late Spring, we made the decision to trade our smallish backyard for a sprawling deck and then DIYed an outdoor fireplace a couple months later as the capstone. We never, truly never!, spent time in our backyard before doing this and now we often keep the patio doors open in the evening and the line between indoors and out is a lot more fluid. It’s been wonderful for entertaining and we can’t wait to add more of an outdoor kitchen (and maybe a hot tub?) in the future. Read more about the deck here and the outdoor fireplace here.

6. The Stair Railing

Upgrading our stair railing was a big bang for the buck change that happened this year. It cost less than $1500, but did take some time (ahem, 7 months!) to find a reliable contractor to get the job done and who could fulfill our vision. It still makes my heart skip a beat. Read more about it here.

7. The Wall in the Living Room (finally!)

There are a few spots in our home that have always kind of stumped me. They’re awkward or just uninspiring. This wall in our living room has been that for years. Nothing quite fitting. This year, we finally conquered it with an inexpensive, under $75, planking project and haven’t looked back. Read about it here.

8. The Girls’ Bunk Room


Our last big project of the year was our daughters’ room. We finished it up in November as a part of the One Room Challenge (our first time participating!) and there have been so many happy nights since. Faye isn’t officially moved in yet, but we still call it her room, too, and there is a lot of time spent in there together. Read more about it here.

9. Bathroom Refresh

We also did a quick weekend refresh of our hall bathroom right before the holidays and I’m so grateful we did. I can’t even count how many people have gone in and out of there in the past two months and every time, I felt more confident knowing everything was more presentable. Read more about that here.

There were two big projects that we left 2016 in-progress–our home office and the guest room–both of which we hope to share big reveals with you soon. 2016 was good to us. It was busy–very busy–and fulfilling. And if I would have said at the beginning of the year that we would do all 9 of those things, I would have probably scared myself out of doing them. But here we are, on the other side, so grateful we had the opportunity to improve our home and others and share it all, too. Can’t wait to share with you what we have planned for 2017!

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What do you think?

  1. Bonita says:

    Love love love you guys! Your style is beautiful and your podcast usually has me laughing.

  2. Sarah says:

    2016: The year I purchased my first home, yes, but more importantly: the year I found Chris and Julia. Thank you for your constant inspiration, your transparency, and always making me laugh on my drive to work.

  3. Jenn Freeman says:

    Still feels like a dream! So very grateful to be a part of your year!!

  4. Laurie says:

    If you had done a wood deck instead of the composite deck would you have still done the fireplace? I have a wood deck and want to do either a fire pit or fireplace. I worry about embers and the wood deck.

  5. AlisonGi says:

    You would not even know that is the same house. They are all great, I think what made the most impact and change for the better is the front door (after all that is the first thing you see) and the stair railing. What a difference they made taking it from dated looking to modern. Not even sure how you got all of that done. Do you still do client work? You don’t ever mention it.

    • Julia says:

      We were too busy with projects and had to take a break from clients. It’s really something I’d love to start up again this year, but we’ll see!

  6. Nicole Orrell says:

    I’m sure the pun wasn’t intended, but I got a chuckle out of your comment about the wall in your living room “There are a few spots in our home that have always kind of stumped me”. Get it… Stumped… Tree… Print… Ahhhh.

    Keep up the great work! You two are awesome and inspiring!

  7. Mara Smith says:

    Um, you forgot #10 … the podcast!

    Bravo, you guys!

  8. Jeanna says:

    That kitchen remains one of my all time favorite renovations :)

  9. Tristin says:

    Amazing! Please tell me 2017 will be all about the master bathroom. I need some inspiration and you always deliver!

  10. Erin says:

    You had an amazing year, and you are one of my favorite blogs to follow! You always have a reasonable but interesting approach to renovations. Keep up the good work in 2017!

    I didn’t know if it is just me, but your post didn’t show up in Bloglovin. Just figured I would let you know.

  11. Linda Grubbs says:

    Wow! Not sure how I stumbled onto your blog…but I’m so happy I did!! Love your style and personality!
    I’ll be following along with you, that’s for sure!

  12. Megan says:

    Seriously- seeing all of these in one post… amazing!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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