Kitchen Renovation: Thoughts

Typing the words “kitchen renovation” above in the blog post title gave me chills. I’ve never undertaken a renovation of anything. I have painted, wallpapered, and built IKEA furniture all the day long, but I’ve never torn anything out to bare drywall and concrete and started from scratch.

Get ready for a huge post with lots of words and not that many pictures. Actually, maybe I should sprinkle in some inspiration pictures to keep you with me.

Photo by Grant Harder via Dwell

If you know me, you know I have a lot of thoughts on almost every topic (Virgo overthinker), and this is no exception. When it comes to kitchen renovation, the thoughts swirling around in my mind include but are not limited to:

  • Home resale value: Selling homes is my business. I know that a 1960s kitchen will not fetch top dollar when I go to sell. Does that make it less worthy of a kitchen? Have I not hosted a hundred gatherings with friends and family, and made delicious food in this kitchen for six years? Haven’t the cabinets and countertops lasted 50 amazing years? What’s the obsession Americans have with redoing their kitchen every 10 years?
  • Cost: I live in a comfortable, modest condominium in an aging complex. I don’t need to pour too much money into this renovation; over-improvement is a real problem in my price point and I may not get the return-on-investment that a four-star kitchen deserves. At the same time, the cheapest materials are, well, cheap. My current kitchen has lasted 50 years. I do not think any materials on the market today will last 50 years. (See below)
  • Sustainability: As you’ve heard me mention twice by now, I keep bumping up against the idea that Americans are obsessed with renovating things. To be honest, I feel like a European deep down in my soul… and I want to be satisfied with, and even heart-warmed by old, beat up things. Like my old, beat-up kitchen. On the other hand, I love interiors, and I do think an overhaul of my kitchen/dining room layout could function better and improve my quality of life.
Cliq Studios
  • Home rental durability: Part of my long-term plan is to move to another place and rent this condo out as an income property. After 2 advantageous refinances, we are in a place where that makes sense financially, with regards to the monthly payment. Part of my ethos is to be a socially conscious landlord who takes care of their tenants and doesn’t price gouge. So I want the kitchen to be nice but not too nice (I don’t want to be heartbroken if it collects scratches or scorch marks).
  • Style: My home was built in the 1960s, it has a ranch layout (as much as a condo can have a ranch layout) and 1960s-scaled windows, exterior, and a low, lean flow from room to room. I want the new kitchen to connect with this. I’m a strong believer in letting your home’s origin inform future renovations, not just swapping in what is currently on-trend.
  • Empathy: How can I encourage buyers I’m working with to buy the cheaper, outdated home and renovate if I haven’t also done it? I need to put my money where my mouth is and undertake a major renovation. Then I can offer empathy, recommendations, and wisdom.

If you made it through that colossal brain dump, you deserve to get something pretty out of it. Here is my working inspiration board… it’s not complete yet, but I’ve been using it to weigh out options as I hone my way towards what I really want.

Do you have any predictions as to what direction I’m leaning? In the time between when I made this mood board and when I published this post… I’ve made some big decisions!

If a kitchen reno isn’t in your wheelhouse: The myfriendstaci25 wallpaper coupon code is still good at through September 25!

If you’ve been through a kitchen renovation, please send me encouraging remarks in the comments or nuggets of wisdom you wish you’d known, going into it. Bonus points if you did if all on a serious budget! Thanks in advance!


As I may have mentioned in my last post, my bedroom has never really quite come into its own, design-wise, even as the other areas in the house have begun to seem more or less “finished.” This is a common issue with bedrooms, because these rooms are private and do not need to be decorated to entertain the general public. Funny how things work out; I had planned a bedroom overhaul for 2020 before COVID hit, but once the stay-home order came out, it became clear there would never be a better time to show my home some TLC.

Check out my wallpaper journey – and check the bottom for a 25% off coupon code!

For a refresher on how the room started, and a piece-by-piece breakdown of the mood board, check out my last post.


This was my first time tackling wallpaper… ever. I’m happy to report that the process proved to be much easier than I expected! The kit I ordered from Photowall included everything I needed except for a bucket and paint roller, which I already had on hand.

In addition to reading all the Photowall instructions, I watched a number of youtube videos before beginning, and I found this one by Spencer Colgan to be the most helpful; it’s where I got the idea for the paint roller. In fact, his youtube channel has tons of tutorials on hanging all different kinds of wallpaper. Another resource I drew on was Young House Love. In their post, they hang peel-and-stick wallpaper, but many of the principles are the same.

Considering the resources I listed in the paragraph above, I feel like diving into a detailed how-to on this blog would not be the best use of my time or yours. Check Spencer’s video and the Young House Love post referenced, they have explained everything very clearly. I will share some of the things I learned, however, because when you watch a video made by an expert it seems foolproof, but there was a bit of a learning curve.

Had the room cleared and the plastic laid down… ready to start!

Learn from my mistakes:

Here are a few things that I had to adapt to along the way.

First, use more glue than you think. The wallpaper glue is pretty thin and runny; we ended up rolling the wall with glue and brushing it onto the back of the wallpaper (especially the edges) to make sure we got enough.

Second, measure both the right and left corner, floor-to-ceiling. We began on the left corner of the wall, following the instructions. However, by the time we reached halfway across the room, we noticed that the ceiling had actually been slanting up the whole time and we were on track to have over an inch of wall with no paper – obviously we wanted the pattern to match up! Luckily, I had chosen a fairly forgiving pattern and the window in the center of the room made it easy to do a subtle “reset.” The slightly mismatched pattern is obscured by the bed. I should have begun the paper with a little extra overflow on top… there was plenty of extra at the bottom.

Third, don’t be afraid to squeeze glue out of the seams to get a good seal – you may have noticed on the youtube video Spencer had a wet towel on his shoulder. THIS IS KEY! Have your wet towel handy especially if you hate having sticky hands like me… because this is a pretty messy process.


At the end of the day, it was thrilling to see the dramatic change. Many people say that painting a room a light color will make the room seem bigger, but what I found is that the exciting wallpaper actually makes the feature wall seem larger.

Active time with the wallpaper only took about 3 hours to do this feature wall. Clearing out the room and putting it back together took longer! If you want more step-by-step progress footage, check my Instagram highlight which has stills and video from the weekend I tackled this project.

The Finished Wall!

wallpaper / rug (similar) / bed / bedside tables (similar)
lamps (similar) / sheetsquilt (similar)

Voila! I’m very happy with the result. It reminds me of a hotel – which is pretty much the ultimate goal for me since I love staying in boutique hotels.

You’ll notice a few changes in the before/after, but aside from the wallpaper, everything you see here was already owned. I love swapping things from room to room for a free mix-up. You might see I traded out the rug. The black and white geometric rug from the mood board did look good with the wallpaper, but this gray geometric rug was a Black Friday purchase that I never really felt went with the living room. Swapping the rugs brought perfect harmony to both rooms. The final touch this room needs is a solar shade for the window- as you can see above, this room gets a lot of light first thing in the morning. I haven’t hung any art up on the paper yet because I think the wall is art now.

Now that I know how easy the paper is to put up, I’m brainstorming other areas in my home where it can be used. I would love to know if you would ever tackle wallpaper in your home. What color or design would you pick? A large-scale mural on a feature wall like me? Or a repeating pattern, perhaps doing the whole room for a more traditional approach? Photowall has thousands of options, including the option to upload your own photo, so head over there to find inspiration.

I’m so excited to let you know that Photowall has extended a coupon to all readers, offering 25% off through September 25, 2020. Enter myfriendstaci25 at checkout!

I love to hear from you. Please add your thoughts or questions in the comments!

I was not paid to write the post but I was gifted product from Photowall to bring my vision to life.

Master Bedroom Refresh

Since moving into this condo in 2014, my master bedroom has undergone small and very incremental changes. At first, we didn’t even have a headboard and were just working with a metal bed frame. I’m so picky—I finally narrowed down my options and ended up with one of IKEA’s cheapest options, TARVA. Totally cool with that!

Someday, if I want to change up the look, this raw pine can easily be painted or stained. For now, I am totally digging the honest, Scandinavian look of untreated wood. My other preferred bed option was the very popular CB2 Alchemy bed in either black or gold.

For our dresser, I am still totally loving this IKEA dresser, purchased way back in 2012. They don’t make it any more, which is a real shame because I love the generously sized drawers and straightforward Parsons-like lines.

Here’s a 6-year old photo of the dresser featuring a cute young Mosey with very little white on his snout :)

Other than that, the room honestly has a lot of furniture in it. The two pieces acting as bedside tables are actually emptier than you’d think. We are using our old bedside tables, pushed together, as a TV stand across from the foot of the bed. The awesome Wurlitzer stage piano is in here too—I don’t really have a better spot for it and I cannot bear to get rid of it. Lastly, storage is kind of an issue in the condo so I’ve got a stacked pair of IKEA pine cabinets in the corner that look like an armoire but are actually just holding a ton of random things.


To be honest, this “before” has a lot going for it. I love the look of white walls and pine together. It’s very Scandinavian feeling, and the guitar on the wall adds some fun to the room. But there isn’t really a focal point or dramatic moment in here, which my other rooms have.

I got the opportunity to work with a wallpaper company and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Photowall has partnered with me on a wall mural and it’s going to totally change the vibe of the whole room. Here’s the inspiration board, most of the things on here are stand-ins for items that I already own.

wallpaper / rug / bed / bedside tables / console table / lamps / quilt

I can’t wait to share the afters with you!