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Managing our Finances: Part 1

For years Nick and I have been struggling with managing our finances. We didn’t think it was that bad until it got to a point where we both had enough. I started Pinterst-ing a few ideas on what to do and came across this awesome post:

It’s a must-read, but basically it talks about how most people have two bank accounts, one for savings and one for checking (that was us). In this post, it recommends having 7 bank accounts (YES 7!) to help you organize where your money is going. Nick and I sat down and discussed this and decided to start first with opening a new bank account at a different bank that was going to be our “every day expense” account. So at one bank we have our savings and a checking, but our checking we wouldn’t use other than for auto bills and all expected expenses spent every month (mortgage payment, utilities, phone bill, etc.) Most of our paychecks go into this account as well. For the new account, we figured out how much we spend a month on food and extras for ourselves and direct deposit from each paycheck into this account. We set a goal for ourselves that this is only what we get for each month and when its gone, its gone and we cannot dabble from the other account.

So far we only have 3 accounts (technically 4 accounts with the HSA account). We are currently working towards setting up the Husband’s Checking and Wife’s Checking as well as the Emergency Savings. I think its so important to keep these organized so you know exactly how much is going into each and there are no more guessing games as to where your money is going.

Please keep in mind, this is a learning process and it wont be perfect right away. Try it out at first and make adjustments as needed. We have now been doing this for 6 months straight and its constantly changing, but we are much better at recognizing where exactly we want our money to go. We talk about it and think it through. We also set up monthly money meetings to get together and talk about it, so we are always on the same page.

Along with the advice of organizing our bank accounts, Nick started listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts and this really jump-started our focus on money management. Along with his book “The Total Money Makeover“, Dave Ramsey has shaped our image of money and the step-by-step process to becoming debt-free. Nick and I never realized how much debt was a burden until now and we are doing everything possible to get rid of it.

I know money can be a sore subject, or something most people don’t like to talk about (just like me). But rather than ignoring the money issue, take action and learn how to manage your finances!


Our House: Before & After

Two and a half years ago, we bought this house with the intentions of making it ours and thats exactly what we did. With a lot of hard working hours put into this beauty, it has come out exactly the way we wanted! Take a tour through our diamond in the rough with the before (when we bought this house) photos and the after photos.

The Front: (please ignore the fact that the before photo was taken in the summertime and the after was taken in the dead of winter)



When you walk in the front door:



The Living/Family Room:



The Dining Room:



The Kitchen:



The Kitchen:



The Kitchen:



The Bedroom/Office:



The Bedroom/Nursery:



The Master Bedroom:



The Guest Bedroom:



The Bathroom:



The Backyard: (please ignore the fact that the before photo was taken in the summertime and the after was taken in the dead of winter)



The Patio: (please ignore the fact that the before photo was taken in the summertime and the after was taken in the dead of winter)




Kitchen Remodel – The Finale

The kitchen is Done! Finished! Complete! and I’m so excited to finally be posting these photos for you! We started this project in November, right after we moved in and what an adventure. If you haven’t seen the work-in-progress posts, check them out here for part 1 and here for part 2! I couldn’t be more proud of the work Nick has done and doing 98% of the work himself! A HUGE thank you and shout out to Bryan Murray, Alex Stewart & George Stewart for helping install the cabinets, Ray Broker for helping Nick with the handles and microwave install and Chris Luebbers for working on the electrical.

Anyway… I’ll let the photos speak for themselves! Oh and be sure to check out the end of the post for the before & afters! What a difference!

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Baby Stewart’s Nursery

The Nursery is finally done, and so are the photos! I’ve been asked for photos since I got pregnant and I apologize for taking so long, but it has been a process. There are so many adorable nursery styles and themes out there, but the thing that sold me was the faux deer head! I originally wanted the big one {this one} for over the crib, but when thinking about the mobile and collage wall, I went a slightly different route. I’m calling this theme: “Woodland Meets Geometric” or “Whimsical Woodland”.

The colors for the nursery was the easiest and surprisingly the first thing I picked out. My fav colors are mint and gray and have been for over a year {yes, they change frequently}. I knew they would be perfect for a little boy’s nursery, so once we found out the gender of our little one, I quickly got to work! I picked the paint color first {which is actually an interior design no-no}, but I found this muted mint color and fell in love. Interior Design 101 – Designing around a paint color is so much more difficult than picking a paint color to match your decor. Luckily enough, I found the bedding that would coordinate perfectly and the rest came together.

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We ordered the rocker and that took {what seamed like} FOREVER! I wanted something that both Nick and I would be comfortable in and could plan on sleeping in, if needed. Whats great about this chair {and well worth the price} is it is a “convertible rocker” – basically, the rocker legs come off and stationary legs go on, to make the chair great for our living room years down the road.

Originally, I was going to make the curtains, but then realized the task was much bigger than any You-Tube Sewing tutorial I could learn off of, so I found some others I liked just as much {pre-made} here.

I had my eye on the silver leather pouf online for months… one day I walked into ZGallerie and they had this one – ON SALE – plus 50% off! What a steal! That was an exciting day for sure!

The mobile above the rocker is little silver planes and this hung in my Grandma and Grandpa’s bedroom for as long as I can remember. It’s so special to me and reminds me of them, I knew I had to include it in my little boy’s nursery!


I came across this little Mustache pillow on the clearance rack at Paper Source. A totally random find, but I loved it so had to have it! Gotta have a Mustache in my Little Man’s room.


The dresser is a vintage dresser that was actually my mom’s when she was a baby. Then I used it when I was a baby, and my brother as well. Between storage and a few other households in the family, its been well taken care of and was in great shape. We just had it repainted and it looks fab!


I found these adorable little wooden owl knobs at Hobby Lobby with 50% off, talk about perfect, right? I <3 them!

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We got so many books from our showers that I had to put them on display! I love reading books to little kids and can’t wait to read to my own!


I’ve had these blocks forever, I bought them years ago on Etsy as newborn photo props and decided to display them in the nursery as well with his initials. I’m not giving away his name to the internet world yet… we will announce it when he’s born!

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I found this idea on Pinterest and immediately fell in love with it, although they did wood burning and I just wanted to write on them. After a witch hunt to find these wooden plaques, I found them at Michaels of all places {thank you Whitney}! Both Nick and I decided on two Bible verses and I went to work.



I had been looking for a big “E” to hang in with this collection and actually found this one at the A Paris Street Market at Aspen Grove from a vendor that makes his own furniture. Such a great score!


The crib and changing table are Pottery Barn Kids. I originally had another crib picked out on, then got a PBK catalog in the mail with this crib ON SALE, and was actually cheaper than the one I had picked out. Knowing the quality of PBK and the sale price, we couldn’t resist! I loved how gender-neutral it is so we can reuse it for however many times we need to and its pretty modern, which is what we were looking for.


The mobile was definitely a project and I loved that Nick helped me strategically plan this thing out so that the antler and each ornament spin, making it a realistic mobile. The antler is kind of heavy, so we had to make sure it was tied up really well and don’t worry… it is! The antler is from ZGallerie and the ornaments, I found on Etsy {they made the owl one special just for me}.


Who doesn’t love a JellyCat Woodland Owl? He’s so soft and precious, I just couldn’t resist!


I immediately fell in love with this bedding because it has all of my colors and I love the triangles, but I’m a little disappointed with the shop I bought it from, because it took 3 promises of delivery, and didn’t happen… this is why this post is delayed. Anyway, my suggestion is to find a fabric that you like and try to make them yourself! Thats what I’m going to do next time! Remember: no bumpers and frou frou fabric or blankets, pillows, etc… SIDS is a very serious occurrence that can happen and your babies can suffocate… they say nothing in the crib but the flat sheet for at least the first year of life. {Obviously we will take the stuffed animal out when he arrives}.


The changing table, we actually found on Craigslist and purchased it from this wonderful couple who didn’t need it anymore. {Thank God for Craigslist!}


I loved organizing the closet. We had talked about re-doing the whole thing to have shelves and lots of storage, etc. but honestly, we have enough work to do around here. I found this idea on Pinterest to buy the Ikea bookshelf and that helped out a lot. We’ll take it for now!


VOILA! It’s finally finished and ready for our little guy to come and enjoy it! We can’t wait!



A great way to figure out a design is to create a storyboard… here’s mine:

Boy Nursery_2

 1. Silver Deer Head  |  2. Paint  |  3. Real Wood Plaque  |  4. Print & Frame  |  5. Jellycat Owl

6. Silver Deer Antler  |  7. Real Wood Creature Ornaments  |  8. Crib  |  9. Sheets  |  10. Owl Knobs

11. Wingback Convertible Rocker  |  12. Mustache Pillow {Paper Source}  |  13. Baskets

14. Silver Leather Poof {Z Gallerie} |  15. White Faux Rug  |  16. Trash Can



The Icing on the Cake

Finally, we got our light in for the kitchen – the finishing touch to our Kitchen Remodel! Now I can officially take the finale photos and post! Hurray! My wonderful husband installed it today while I was at work and literally when I walked in the kitchen, my heart stopped! It is absolutely beautiful.

{this photo does NOT do it any justice!}



The Last 7 Days – Bathroom Remodel: Part 1

Well, what started as a small project of replacing “big blue” our 1950’s porcelain blue toilet, with a new one… turned into gutting and remodeling our entire bathroom. Here was our week:

Sunday – Mission: Replace toilet

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Here’s what we found {EWWW GROSS!}:

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The floor was rotted through, the flange was rusted and breaking and there were definitely signs of mold so its a good thing we decided to do this BEFORE the baby comes!

Here’s a few photos of the rest of the bathroom:

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Then Nick really started ripping stuff out:

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Tuesday – Our electrician came out and helped us put in some new electrical. I’m so excited to have some light in this bathroom, plus a fan!

Wednesday – Nicks brother Alex came out and helped him take out the tub and pick up the new tub at good ‘ol Home Depot:

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Thursday – The plumber came and updated the shower plumbing, tub drain and the toilet nastiness. Nick helped him install the new tub. Also, Nick put in insulation on the exterior wall {the only insulation in the entire house} and installed the pre-made inset boxes in the shower.

Friday/Monday – The drywall guys came out and started putting stuff back together including Durock cement board in the shower.

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Also, while all of this was being done, we managed to pick out the floor tile, shower tile and accent glass tile for the shower, insets and backsplash. As well as the shower and sink fixtures, paint color, light fixtures and mirror. Here’s the plan:

Bathroom Storyboard

Wall Sconces  |  Mirror  |  Sink  | Faucet  |  Paint Color  |  Bead Board/Trim  |  Toilet  |  Glass Tile  |  Wall Tile  |  Shower/Tub Fixture  |  Floor Tile


Whew! What a whirlwind! Stay tuned for the next steps and we will see how it works out!


Kitchen Remodel – Part 2

Nick and his friend Bryan {who is a home-remodel expert}, installed the cabinets:

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The countertop installer came to measure once all of the cabinets were in place and level. Then it was 2 weeks until installation. We definitely liked the lighter – gray granite. We found this granite at The Granite Source in Centennial called “White Cashmere” and our sink is a single basin made of black granite composite:

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Then finally, it was installed:

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The hot water dispenser is a MUST. My mom has had one for years and I’ve always wanted one. Since we have a cold water dispenser on the fridge, we didn’t need both, but they make those also! Everything was installed JUST before Thanksgiving! Thank goodness for having our kitchen finally functional!

While my mom and her boyfriend Ray were in town visiting for the holiday, Nick and Ray installed the chrome handles on the cabinets:

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Then they installed the microwave:

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We decided to take a few months off of working on the kitchen and rest. I also wanted to find the perfect backsplash and I knew this could take some time. We went back to The Tile Shop and found a long subway tile in marble that originally we wanted to install in a herringbone pattern as displayed in their shop:

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Isn’t it amazing? Well after much contemplation on how to actually install this pattern, we decided to nix the herringbone and just go with a classic subway look. I love the herringbone, but theres something just so timeless about the subway and I’m really happy with it:

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We also replaced the tiles in the window sill with a custom wood one:

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Now… with this wall! Ugh! It had 50’s wallpaper, then a layer of paint, then 70’s wallpaper. Talk about a nightmare! Nick wanted to just take the wall down and put up new drywall and honestly, that probably would have been much easier. Instead, we both spent hours scraping wallpaper and sanding to get the wall as flat as possible. It actually turned out pretty good!

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To be continued…



Kitchen Remodel – Part 1

Since we moved in on Nov. 2nd, our kitchen has been the main project of our house. Thank goodness it’s finally done!! The worst thing is living without a kitchen for however many months, and being forced to eat out or do your dishes in the bathroom sink. Everything is unorganized and the construction leaves your house a disaster! This is what we got to go through:

Here is a recap on how it looked before we moved in:

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First, we opened the doorway:

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Then Nick Demo’d the rest:

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We ran into a little problem when we ripped out the dishwasher. For whatever reason, when they re-modeled the kitchen in the 70’s, they tiled the dishwasher in, so it wouldn’t just roll out of its cubby. We then figured out why when Nick pulled up on the dishwasher to get it out of its spot, the water was connected only by a copper pipe and the pipe pulled right out of its joint in the floor, causing the water to flood down to our basement. Talk about five minutes of PANIC and chaos!! Lesson of that day: Turn off the water whenever doing ANYTHING in your kitchen or bathrooms before you get started, you never know how things are connected!


Next: Replacing the drywall {Nick has done this before!}:

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In the meantime, our cabinets arrived:

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Everything is fully demo’d and we had a few drywall guys come in to patch/mud the wall:

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Next: Tile the floor. We originally picked out something light-colored, until I had the vision of a dark floor against the white cabinets and we came across this beautiful ceramic tile called Titanium Negro in the 12×24 size. I absolutely LOVE the metallic finish!

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Here’s how it came out:

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To be continued…


Our Home: Before Move-in

In October 2013, we purchased a 1959 brick ranch-style home in Centennial, Colorado. The original owners sold it to us and took great care throughout the years. It was remodeled in the 70’s in a “southwestern” theme and they finished the basement with a full wet bar and a built-in dance floor! These people sure liked to party! So we knew it was a great fit!

As a designer, I have the (so blessed) ability to picture a space with how I want it to look and this definitely came in handy with this house (no offense to the previous owner). I plan to post room-by-room remodel photos so you can see the transformation.

Here are the photos from before we moved in:


Living Room {right when you walk in the door}:



Dining Room:




My Office:


{Soon to be} Nursery:


Master Bedroom:


Main Bath {don’t you just love the porcelain blue?}:


Basement Bedroom 1:


Basement Bedroom 2:


Basement Storage Room:


Basement Bath:


Basement Party Room {with full wet bar and dance floor, YES!}:


Patio & Backyard:


Thank you for taking a tour through our home before we moved in! It really is a diamond in the rough and I can’t wait to show you what we’ve done!