Our Breakfast Nook has come a LONG way.

May 6, 2020

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This post is sponsored by Pella.

Yesterday afternoon, Faye perched herself on one of the chairs in the breakfast nook and took tiny bites from an apricot for at least 20 minutes. Enjoying it and everything going on outside of the windows surrounding her.

We knew the breakfast nook would be a constant hangout spot as soon as we moved in. This little alcove off of the kitchen was the perfect place for a round dining table, a place for casual eating. We wanted a formal dining room — but day to day, this “nook” is so cozy and convenient. We eat here and snack here and play games here and love looking out on the yard. And it’s our favorite place to start the day.

The breakfast nook is open to the kitchen and living room and we really put a lot of emphasis on natural light when we re-imagined this space. The black architectural series windows from Pella frame the landscaping perfectly–it is the art.

But it didn’t always look like this! Over the past 11 months, we have been slowly updating it. When we moved in, it looked like below (yes, I put a vase of flowers on a folding table–don’t wait!):

The entire space has been overhauled little by little–new table and floors, chairs and light fixture and paint (Alabaster on the walls and Accessible Beige on the trim, both by Sherwin Williams),  but the biggest change from replacing the old prairie style windows for something that felt more classic–we went with Pella’s Architectural Series Contemporary wood windows in black. They’re the perfect marriage of modern and traditional, and the black looks so good. It really emphasizes the view outside. But, I’m getting ahead of myself — if you’re thinking of replacing your windows, you’ve got questions. And I’ve got answers.

For starters, I can think of four great reasons to replace windows: curb appeal, interior design, energy efficiency, and general function (Does it “work”? Is it safe?). The breakfast nook had windows that were about 30 years old. (You might remember this post, when my sisters and I painted the sashes.) They were functioning okay, but we knew that we could upgrade their efficiency while improving their design.

(Below you can see the before)

One of the first things we needed to determine was if we’d need a full-frame installation or a pocket installation. A full-frame installation is when you replace the whole window frame. A pocket replacement keeps the original frame (along with the trim and the casing) and just replaces the old window with a new one of the same size. If you’re changing the shape, size, or style (bay window, for example), you’re going to need a full-frame installation. If you’re current window frame is in good condition, you can probably get away with a pocket replacement. Pocket replacements are obviously easier in brick or stone homes since these materials would be impacted by changing the window size or shape.

These were all full-frame installation since the window brand, style, and color were all changing.

Then we had to decide on single-hung, double-hung, casement, sliding or picture windows. This all comes down to whether you’d rather slide your windows (up and down or side to side) or crank them open. For the big windows, we went with a “sash set fixed” or picture window (they don’t open). The side windows are casement windows — they roll out so the entire height of the window allows fresh air in. You can see them propped open a bit in the photo below.

And now the question you’re really here for: Can I DIY the installation? Technically, yes. If you’re a builder or a carpenter or you’ve had lots of practice with this sort of thing, you already know you can install a window :) But Chris and I hired our contractor to install these. And this isn’t our first rodeo! We’ve installed several Pella windows over the years, each time hiring a professional to install. In my opinion, it’s worth the money to ensure that it’s done right. Added bonus: If you hire a pro, they’ll take care of recycling the old windows for you. (These have to go to a deconstruction service. You can’t leave them out on the curb.) We donated ours to the reStore and our crew took them there for us!

You’re probably going to want to go with the glass that blocks UV rays. We asked for these for a couple of reasons: First, it helps the fabrics not to fade and to keep looking fresh. Low-E glass also protects your art and keeps your house cool (even if you don’t have AC). This has been the biggest noticeable difference in our home. Our home never feels drafty or too hot!

We had these installed in the winter. I’m telling you this in case you think you have to buy new windows in the spring/summer. Whenever it’s good for you and your contractor, make that the time. We’re installing windows for this house in stages, a few at a time.

So how much did it cost? The windows for this breakfast nook came to just under $5,000. But your budget for your new window(s) will depend on your customization and your house. The cost of hiring a pro will vary depending on where you live. We ordered a custom Pella window for our last house — and put a window where there was not — for $335. So it’s truly a sliding scale depending on size and finish. They have a variety of series at different price points!

There are still a few things we want to add to this little nook. We finally decided on some chic roman shades we’ll be adding. And here’s a question for you: the plaster ceiling medallion was there when we moved in and at first I hated it, but now it has kind of grown on me! Yay or Nay from you?!

See more about our large custom arched window here and our Pella dining room doors here!

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What do you think?

  1. Alexandra says:

    When you crank open your Pella casement windows, are the insides white or black? If they are white, does it bother you visually when you open the windows? The Pella sales rep told me they are not “solid” black (if that makes sense) since they don’t open them to paint them at the factory. ?? Thank you!

  2. Tannelle Clarke says:

    Is the Accessible Beige full strength color & what sheen did you use? I love it all & plan to paint my walls & trim the same. Thank you!

  3. Wenndy says:

    My home is 21 years old, and I want a full installation. But, I don’t know if I can find the brick my home has. I’m not sure how to proceed.

  4. Marisa says:

    Have you shared what window casing you are using? Size and one piece or two?

  5. Marianne says:

    Hum… you like to choose the contrary of what we say… so what should I say…
    Let’s be honest : it’s a Yay ! :)

    (What a dreamy home you have !)

  6. Trisha says:

    Hello. I love watching your progress and your design! Is there a link somewhere that I missed for the nook chairs?

  7. Paula says:

    I love the moulding. Such a beautiful but discreet original touch to the home.

  8. Shannon says:

    I like the medallion. It’s subtle, but interesting.

  9. Corinne says:

    I like the idea of ceiling accent in this area, but I think doing a ceiling medallion with clean lines would be better than the texture change.
    I love these options with modern fixtures:

  10. Jonelle Riboni says:

    Keep the medallion, it is subtle but makes the ceiling interesting and not boring.

  11. Nicole Orrell says:

    When reading this post, I came to the picture with the ceiling medallion and thought to myself, “Wow, I haven’t noticed the medallion before! I wonder if she intentionally cropped it out of previous pictures? but wow, it looks really nice in the space!”
    There are some really UGLY ceiling medallions and this one is nice and subtle and compliments the shape and scale of the table REALLY well.

  12. Rachelle says:

    The medallion has always… confused me. I think maybe it’s the scale? The texture also reminds me of my grandma’s textured ceilings. To me it looks like it’s covering up something in the ceiling as a quick fix. If it’s grown on you though, I think you should keep it. It’s probably hard to assess from photos only.

  13. Katy says:

    This space is stunning!! Quick question: What is the height of your trim?

    We are currently building a home and the standard size is 5 in. Our current house has 7 1/2 in. and I love it. I’m worried 5 in. will be too short.

  14. kip says:

    Actually I was going to ask if the ceiling treatment was in the plaster or an add on.

    Also congrats on being featured in Millie magazine. Loved your story.

  15. Courtney says:

    The new windows are stunning! I love the plaster ceiling medallion. There are so many lovely modern elements in this space already and that ceiling feature softens it all just a touch.

  16. naomi says:

    Hey Julia.
    Just read one of your old posts from 10 years ago ” I SPENT OVER $10,000 IN THE LAST YEAR” – on rent. Don’t personally know you but, it puts a smile on my face wondering whether you ever knew you’d be sitting on your couch enjoying the view through that beautiful giant window. You’ve created the life you want and its inspiring.
    Just trying to say in a weird round about way – thank you for letting us be part of your journey.
    oh yeah… I vote “hell no” to the medallion. :-)

  17. Katy says:

    The space is stunning!!

    Question for CLJ: I have searched your blog, and I am sure I missing the answer somewhere, but what is the height of your trim work? Thank-you so much!!

  18. Ginger says:

    The medallion on the ceiling was one of the first things I noticed on the IG picture earlier today. I love it. It defines the space even more. Especially since your table is round.

  19. Judith says:

    I like the medallion. It’s not too fussy or visually demanding, but it centers the space a bit and makes the placement of the light fixture and consequently, the table, look a lot more intentional. Especially since you plan to forego a rug under the table.

  20. Holley says:

    I don’t think the medallion takes away from the look, but I would prefer a cleaner look without it, I think! Either way you go, it’s a gorgeous transformation!

  21. Grace says:

    Where are your old chairs from? I love the new ones but we’re in the stage of needing something wipeable and all of the black windsor style chairs I find are either too traditional looking or too short (the Serena & Lily ones are TINY).

    • Julia says:

      I gathered those from a few places over the years! Wayfair, amazon! Pretty much everywhere sells them. Search “spindle chair” or “windsor chair”

  22. Monica says:

    I love the medallion.

  23. Sarah says:

    We desperately need new windows in our house. The circa-1994 bottom-of-the-line wood versions we have now are terrible (there’s one that’s so rotted that the sash literally fell into the yard when I closed it one night), but I am overwhelmed by the expense.

    Maybe Pella should do a contest for your readers! ;)

  24. tracy says:

    I love the medallion! It is the main reason I read through the whole post. Love the windows too, of course!

  25. Katie says:

    Is the Assessable Beige color at full strength or did you cut it to a percentage of the full color?

  26. Loreen says:

    Windows are beautiful. So no bug screens? You don’t need them where you live?

  27. Teri says:

    Keep the ceiling medallion!

  28. Rachel says:

    I like the the medallion in theory – but it is kind of hard to distinguish since it’s the same color as the ceiling. Maybe painting it the trim color would make it stand out more and emphasize it as a feature?

  29. Zoe says:

    I’m surprised so many people love the medallion! To me, it doesn’t register as a medallion–it makes me think of when we removed a flush mount and revealed the area underneath that had a different finish/needed to be painted to match the rest of the ceiling–it looks kind of unintentional and is straddling this weird line of subtlety that makes me think there’s a better solution out there! I like a medallion there, but I think it needs to be a different type.

  30. Robyn says:

    I’m curious how you like your dining room chairs. I almost bought 4 of them, but have fear of buying furniture online.

  31. Sherry F says:

    I love the plaster ceiling medallion!! Please keep it. It looks great with your light fixture and round table.

  32. Kristin says:

    Keep the medallion. It adds some nice texture to the overall pretty simple space without making it feel busy.

  33. Julie says:

    Love the changes! Can you share sources for bowl and vase?

  34. Debra says:

    Yes on the plaster ceiling medallion. It keeps the space from becoming too sterile and predictable, but is still subtle.

  35. Angela Clark says:

    I actually love the ceiling medallion, at first when I saw it in the first picture I was like..ummm…hmm..what is that? Then I thought well that is a really neat addition to the space, tone on tone and not too obvious but adds some warmth!

  36. Tarynkay says:

    I like the ceiling medallion!

  37. Kelly says:

    It’s looking so beautiful Julia. I agree about keeping the medallion. I think context is everything- it looked a little “extra” before you renovated, like one piece of jewelry too many. But now that you’ve simplified the material palette it looks intentional and special.

  38. Mounica says:

    A definite yay from me!

    How is the space functioning at night without any blinders? Especially with those beautiful living room windows, do you see any issues with privacy?

    • Julia says:

      We live on a pretty large lot with lots of privacy so we’re not too concerned, but we did get some shades for the breakfast nook coming!

  39. Maya says:

    Yea from me too! Are you going to put a rug under the table? It’s looking good!

    • Julia says:

      Not planning on putting a rug here! I like the clean look (especially with three little kids!) and with rugs in the adjacent living room, It’s a nice visual rest.

  40. Christina says:

    I wish black windows existed for a reasonable price when we built. I always say that black windows frame Earth’s artwork like mascara on the windows to the soul. One could have gorgeous eyes and I am all for ‘all-natural,’ but a little mascara highlights the beautiful. Your windows are perfection!

  41. Krystal says:

    I LOVE that ceiling medallion. It’s so subtle and understated, it’s a wonderful surprising detail. I actually had to go back and really look at the before photos because I couldn’t remember it being there before – it looks like something unique and beautiful that you guys would have put in yourself! I vote keep it, absolutely.

  42. Emma says:

    Keep the medallion. You need SOME texture to help bounce around the light.

  43. Elizabeth A Weber-Falk says:

    Yay. It adds a nice visual interest.

    • Teresa Marek says:

      Love this whole space. Thank you for sharing the details, considerations and the cost. FYI I painted my 25 year old kitchen cabinets Thunderous because of you and love them…

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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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