Reader Design: Erin's Perfect Midwestern Digs

Happy Labor Day weekend, Mutts! This weekend, people all over the country are celebrating what many deem to be the last weekend of summer. I, for one, can't wait for Fall - but I'll be celebrating like the rest of you in one of my favorite Midwestern cities: Chicago, Illinois. 

Another favorite? Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the brains behind today's reader design hails from. Welcome to Erin's Perfect Midwestern Digs! 

I found Erin via Instagram several months ago and continue to fall in love with her aesthetic with every post. Her home manages to be light, bright, simple, and durable - something that is increasingly important in Minnesota to withstand all of that cold and precipitation (and whatever those other three seasons bring). 
From Erin:

I’d describe my style as “handmade modern.” I love visually clean, modern spaces that have been softened by traditional architectural elements and handmade pieces. Though I’m drawn towards bright, modern spaces, I still want our home to feel approachable and “undecorated.” Using a mélange of handcrafted and vintage pieces really help to reinforce the relaxed and casual vibe.

Let's talk about the oven nook. What a place to bake a chicken pot pie come this Fall! I can't be the only one fantasizing about this, right??  Erin's favorite part of the kitchen are the cabinet doors below the sink. They were actually salvaged from the original kitchen in the home, just simply refinished with paint and hardware!

I love how they give our inexpensive cabinetry a custom look, as well as help pay homage to the home’s 90 year old bones.
I think personal style, interiors or otherwise, is born from simply figuring out what it is you are repeatedly drawn to. What do you find beautiful and why? I’m always trying to surround myself with inspiration, because I think style is something that develops slowly over time and never stops evolving.

I definitely pay attention to trends, but I try not to design my home around them, unless either I’ve loved this element long before it became popular, (i.e. my affinity towards the color blue), or I feel as though the trend will still have legs long after its heyday has passed, (i.e. classic subway tiles).
I really wrestled with whether or not to paint the wood trim in our living and dining room. I love white enameled trim, but throughout my childhood, my mother, who adored her beautiful Mid-Century woodwork, always taught us never to paint the trim. I had a bit of an internal struggle about it at first, but after seeing how weathered our 1930’s trim was, especially the sills, it made it a lot easier to go for the enameled trim.

Another beautiful original element of the house is captured in 1930s-era rounded archway. Erin expertly blends straight mid-century modern lines with romantic curvatures throughout her space. And then there's the dining room light fixture - woah. 

Whether it’s a vintage rug or sculptural light fixture, I’ll always be willing to splurge on one statement piece within each space. The perfect piece can make the entire space pop without much effort, so I’ll pair the statement splurge with affordable or thrifted finds to help balance the budget. My advice though would be to really make sure you love the piece (and will for years to come) before you buy. This is not the time to buy based on trends!

Erin, all I can say is BRAVO! Your space is perfect. Are you sick of hearing that word yet? Follow Erin along on Instagram or on her blog, Francois et Moi, for more inspiration!

Mutts, until next time! 

Kitchen Makeover! ||Again||

Hi All! I've been so excited for today forgive me if I whiz through and show too many photos. The truth is, I've kept something from you - our kitchen! It's been the sore spot in our home for a while now and the last time I shared it was several years ago when I painted all the cabinets and a chandelier in chalk paint. I thought it was great at the time! But we didn't have a happy ending. Let's recap:

Phase 1: Prior to moving in we painted our kitchen walls aqua blue. This space doesn't get a whole lot of light so I thought a pretty color would do wonders. Phase 1 also included removing our cabinet doors?? I don't know. But props to myself of 5 years ago for taking night time pictures that would eventually turn into solid 'BEFORE' pictures. I mean, as far as before pictures go, the worse the lighting the BETTER, right?!

Phase 2: I discovered how easy chalk paint was to work with and chalk painted every cabinet and a yard sale chandelier. Upper cabinet doors went back on and we finished with a high five.

This didn't end so well for us. Even after sealing and resealing, old cabinet bleed through was only the beginning of our problems. With three young kids who are only 'yay' high, (that's a universally understood height, right?), our chalk painted cabinets absorbed every grease smudge,  finger print, and foot print, (yes, foot print - the kiddos scale up the cabinets to reach the sink to wash their hands). They were impossible for me to keep clean, (and I specify 'for me' because I know others who are much more on top of keeping up with their cleaning, and perhaps don't have young children climbing up their cabinets).

So the chalk paint was a no-win for us. But it wasn't just our product choice, it was color. I've really come into a style groove with our home which has felt very natural and enhances all the sunlight we get. Our house is nestled in such a way that although we back right into a woodsy yard, we also get a substantial amount of natural light at any given time of day. My go-to for this particular house is to get down to a white canvas, add in some natural wood elements, snaps of black, and a subtle mix of metallic. Various colors come and go as the seasons change, but that's my basic formula and it has worked marvelously for every room. With the aqua walls and creamy off-white cabinets that our kitchen was rocking before, it felt very out of place in our house. My goal with every room is to play up it's positives and try to distract from it's negaatives. The result after the chalk paint debacle did the opposite - it didn't enhance anything!

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Same layout, same mismatched appliances, same cabinets - but a few little change-ups and this space feels fresh and new! Here are a few examples of some lesser appealing aspects of this room which have been greatly improved by this makeover:

Bummer: Unfinished, shortish cabinets - These 35 year old builder grade cabinets which don't even have some of the finishing touches of current day builder grade cabinets. With our vaulted ceiling, the cabinets appear to stop short - both at the top and at the bottom with no toe-kick.
But wait: By using the same exact paint color on the walls AND cabinets, the line between the cabinets and wall is blurred, and their unfinishedness doesn't seem so obvious. 

Bummer: Little natural light - this room is fairly closed off from the rest of our main floor, with just the window over the sink streaming light directly in.
But wait: I opted for a higher gloss paint this time around to help bounce the light around, and now the light just doesn't quit!

Bummer Mismatched appliances - We have a faux stainless steel fridge and dishwasher, and a white oven. But wait: To help streamline the look of our kitchen without spending on new appliances, we closely matched the paint color to our white oven to blend it in. 

After winning a gift card prize from a photo contest by Dot and Bo, Matt and I decided on this hammered brass pendant from the eclectic, curated site. Backed by a natural bamboo shade, we've got our warm wood and touch of metallic, giving that relaxed, yet sophisticated look we've strung through our home.

This time around we used a brand new paint product! To seal in the bleed through we'd been experiencing with these cabinets, I decided to go oil-based. I had used the Rust-Oleum Gloss Protective Enamel spray on this piece, and was so impressed with it I got the idea to use it on our whole kitchen! I used the spray for our cabinet doors and the can and a brush for the cabinet bodies. (We painted our walls in the same color that is throughout the rest of our home, Ultra Pure White by Behr). It cleans like a DREAM and reflects the light all over the space.

I love this progression! It took a little time to get it right, but everything I've learned through this room alone makes it so worth while!

Displaying our new DIY hand towels that the kids helped make!

And finally, some daily practice.:) 

That's it! Any questions or want to know more? Feel free to leave a comment!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Don't forget to check back in tomorrow when we announce our One Thousand Gifts giveaway winner - there's still time to enter if you look back at yesterdays post and leave a comment! And friends, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your incredibly touching birthday wishes yesterday. You guys are the greatest. Nuff said. :)