If you follow me on Instagram you’ve likely already seen a billion photos of this kitchen because it’s where Jackson now spends 90% of his time. Seriously – if this kid is awake, he’s playing with the kitchen.
I’ve had a lot of questions about it, so I figured it was high time I do a quick post giving up the details. We decided to get Jackson a play kitchen for his birthday for no other reason than we thought he might like it. We didn’t want to get him more random toys (he has plenty of those!) and we wanted something that was high quality and would grow with him. After looking at a lot of play kitchens online and not finding anything I was willing to place square in the middle of my living room, we landed on the Duktig kitchen from Ikea. It’s affordable and essentially a blank slate – perfect for customization!
We debated colors and styles for a long time before deciding on anything for sure. I really wanted the accessories to be gold, and Corey really wanted it to be something other than white or gray. We also wanted something classic that would fit in with the rest of our living room, since that’s where it would be going. After much back-and-forth, we ended up with navy on the outside, and leaving the white parts as the are.
We also added in some cute drawer pulls we found at Hobby Lobby to look like stove knobs. Jackson loves to twist them, and I think they add a great touch and make it feel more “real”.
One of my favorite parts of the kitchen is that it has little feet that can be added on the top so it grows with him. I think it will be usable for many years – the model that we looked at in the store was tall enough for an elementary-aged child!
We got a ton of play food from various people for his birthday, so his kitchen is always well stocked. Our favorites are some cans and a cookie-making set from Melissa and Doug, and a shopping basket full of pretend versions of the store brand food from our local grocery store – it’s so cute to see mini versions of the food that’s actually in our pantry!
I’m glad we took the time to spruce the kitchen up, because it’s visible from just about everywhere in the house. I love that because it means I can always keep an eye on him when he’s playing with it, and I actually love how it looks in the house.
Now if only I could get my actual kitchen to look half this nice!
If you’ve been reading for a while, then you’ll know that Corey and I get just a little, ahem, excited about decorating for Christmas. I was looking back at some of our oldChristmasposts recently and laughed at how quickly our house went from just a few decorations to complete over-the-top insanity. And we aren’t slowing down anytime soon – we already added a few new items to our collection this year!
What can I say? I don’t decorate for any other season, so I figure I have permission to go all-out for Christmas.
We had a special challenge when we were decorating this year – a mobile baby! Jackson isn’t walking yet, but he’s crawling all over the place, pulling up on everything, and getting into EVERYTHING. So as we were decorating (and buying new decorations) we had to seriously consider what he would be messing with and how we could make sure he stayed safe.
We went ahead and decorated our tree as normal – by the time we did the rest of the house we had already had a tree up in our room for a few weeks and he had been really good about leaving it alone. He’s curious, and he’ll touch it/bat at the ornaments a bit, but he’s generally good about listening to us when we tell him to be gentle. We stuck to putting our breakable ornaments up high, but beyond that our tree looks just like it always does.
Our bookshelf was where I really had to get creative. Jackson loves to play with the items on the shelves and I generally keep a few toys for him on the bottom shelves so he has something safe to play with. I wanted the entire bookcase to be decorated for Christmas, but didn’t want to have to constantly be pulling him off of it. So, I put all of our cookie tins on the very bottom shelf (they’re pretty much indestructible and make a really loud, fun sound when you pull them off the shelf!) and put some soft, not-suepr breakable things on the second shelf. So far it’s worked great – he loves playing with the cookie tins and has pulled a few of the items off of the second shelf but has left the stuff towards the back (like the big candle) alone. We’ll see if he stays this good about it for the entire season, but I’m pleasantly surprised so far!
The dining room is mostly the same as it is every year, but this year I added a felt tree on the back of the fireplace – Jackson loves playing with it/pulling everything off of it. It’s really meant for slightly older kids who are actually interested in decorating it, but he enjoys it a lot now, and it will grow nicely with him over the years.
Jackson loves the tree in the kitchen – all of the ornaments that he can reach are totally safe for him to play with, and none of the ornaments on this tree are too precious, so we’re a little more lax about letting him play with it. He’s still super cautious and hasn’t really pulled anything off of it yet – he just loves to touch it! He’s also very curious about all of the items on the counters – the mini tree by our sink may be his favorite decoration in the whole house!
I’ve always been a gigantic fan of the entire Christmas season, and I absolutely love everything about it…and this year, with Jackson, there are no words for how much more special it is. I love watching him experience everything for the first time, and it makes me so much more excited for future years when he understands it all a bit more!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, which you know I do pretty rarely, so I promise it’s a good one! I couldn’t pass this one up and I’m excited to share!
I’m pretty hesitant to do sponsored posts around here. I know they can be annoying for readers (I read a ton of blogs myself, so I get it!) but I think they’re a great tool when they’re done well. I mean, who doesn’t love to learn about awesome new things? So, when I got an email about reviewing a Kwikset SmartCode 913, I was very intrigued. My sister has a similar lock on her front door (and has had it for years) and her family loves it…and I’ve always thought it was so cool.
As intrigued as I was about my sister’s lock, I never really thought we’d be interested in having one ourselves, until a couple of weeks ago. Corey and I carpool to work, which means that every day one of us ends up with the car and drops the other one off. Well, our car doesn’t require the key to be inserted in order to drive (it just has to be in the car with you) and I happen to have an extra car key in my purse. But no extra house key. So one day during the insanely hectic first week of school, I was rushing out of my classroom to pick up Corey and Jackson and I left the actual key ring (with the house key) laying on my desk at work. But, of course, I was still able to get home because I had the extra car key in my purse. So, when we got home and suddenly realized we didn’t have a key to get in the house, we weren’t pleased, to say the least. We managed to break into our house, but it was seriously inconvenient and would have been disastrous if we hadn’t been able to break in (we would have had to drive the 25 minutes back to my school, which isn’t fun with a tired, cranky, just-wants-to-be-home husband baby).
So needless to say, when I saw that email I knew we had to try it out.
I was also excited about this little project because I took it as a kick in the pants to get a few other things done to our front door that I’ve been itching to do for a while. Corey and I are pretty good about keeping the inside of our house looking clean, nice, and updated, but the outside? Not so much. We’re those neighbors with the constantly overgrown lawn and bushes, and no matter how hard we try to stay on top of it all we are constantly falling behind. So I decided that with this new lock, we were also going to upgrade a few things on the front of our house and make things look at least a little bit nicer out there. Because, really, when this is what you’re working with, it’s not that hard to make improvements:
Lovely. I absolutely love our yellow door but it was looking a bit worse for the wear (yellow is hard to keep clean!) and the porch light has driven me crazy since the day we moved in. Add to that the out-of-control bushes (not pictured, but trust me when I say you don’t want to see them) and the random crap we have laying around out there (I honestly have no idea why the gas can is there, but it’s been there at least a month!) and you’ve got the perfect formula for the ugliest front porch ever.
What I really wanted to do was re-paint the front door and trim, and completely re-do the flower bed in the front. But to be quite frank we have higher priorities in our house, like the fact that our bathroom is still in complete shambles. So I made myself keep the projects limited to things that could be completed in an afternoon, and for a minimal amount of money. On the agenda?
Cleaning the front door
Cleaning the porch
Putting away the gas can (why is it there??!)
Changing out the porch light
Changing out the doorbell button
There were a ton more things I would have liked to take on, but this was a good start. Corey worked on installing the new lock while I cleaned the door, and I was surprised at how quick the process was – he was done in about 20 minutes!
It was a very straightforward install, and thankfully the new lock matches our door handle pretty perfectly. The instructions were clear and easy to follow (though honestly, Corey barely even looked at them since it was all so basic) and I think the hardest part of the whole process was deciding what code we wanted to use. You can program up to 16 different codes (so you can have a master code that only you know, plus codes for different people who may need to get into your house), but we’ve only got one in for now.
We both held our breath a little when it was time to test it out, but it worked perfectly! I’m pretty excited to not have to fumble with a key every time we come home (it’s a pain when you’re holding a baby and a million other things), and locking the door is just the press of a button now. I love it! You can, of course, still use a regular key with it, but I’m looking forward to just keeping my key ring in my purse for now…between the car not needing me to insert the key and now the house not needing a key, I’m feeling pretty excited!
You can set it to automatically lock after 30 seconds, but we’ve got that function turned off for now – our door is old and clunky, and you have to press on it in order to get it to lock. So, when we eventually replace this door, we’ll probably use that…it’s an awesome function when you’ve got little ones running around!
We’ve only had the lock installed for a little over a week, but we’re big fans already. I feel pretty good about us continuing to like it long-term, since my sister is still using hers after quite a while!
As for the rest of the makeover? Well, it’s nothing drastic, but I think our entryway is looking a bit more taken care of. You saw the before, but did you notice that rusty, disgusting doorbell? I almost felt bad making people use it…
Now it’s nice and shiny and new. We need to caulk the edges still because it doesn’t fit exactly like the old one did, but it’s looking so much better now!
And, of course, we have the new lights. These probably made the biggest impact since they were replacing awful, rusted fixtures that were obviously from the ’80s. These new ones make a huge difference!
Overall I’m pretty thrilled with this little mini makeover! We obviously still have a long way to go (new paint on, um, everything, new plants in the beds out front, and a new door!) but this makes the whole thing a lot more tolerable in the meantime. And there are no words for how nice it is to not have to fight with a key when I’m getting home from work and trying to juggle carrying all of my stuff and Jackson – pressing those little buttons is so much easier!
Would you ever have a keyless entry for your house? Anyone else do any mini updates this weekend?
Ahhh – it feels so nice to finally be rid of all of our carpet downstairs.
(Please excuse the baby paraphernalia. I live in a house with a 6-month old, so it’s inevitable. My house definitely does not look like a magazine with no baby toys floating around, so there’s no reason to pretend it does!)
We’ve been talking about doing this for forever and we finally got around to it a few weeks ago – for those of you who missed it when we did Jackson’s room or the dining room, we’re slowly going through the process of replacing the flooring throughout our house with this “luxury vinyl” flooring from Lowe’s. It looks surprisingly like actual hardwood but is really peel and stick vinyl. It’s incredibly affordable and easy to install, and it’s super durable (which is vital when you have three dogs and a 6-month old!)
We also switched up a few other things around the living room while we were at it. Hadley was not a fan of the new flooring (it’s slippery and she still has to learn how to walk on it) and so for the first few days after we installed it she hid upstairs all day long so she didn’t have to step on it. We finally decided to bring in the big rug from the garage as a temporary measure to make her happy and to make the floor a little softer for Jackson. Turns out, though, we love how it looks in here and it’ll probably stay for the foreseeable future. It’s super sort and feels good underfoot, and it’s a really easy to clean rug so it’s great for a high traffic area like the living room.
We also switched out some pillows and got a fiddle leaf fig (I’m determined not to kill this one!). We don’t love the ottoman in here now with the new rug…it feels a bit too formal and out of place, but we haven’t decided what we’ll do about that yet. The options are to get a different rug (which we aren’t sure about, since we really like this one) or replace the ottoman (which makes us sad, since we really like it and haven’t had it for that long). We’ll see where we land, but for now we’re just happy it’s looking so much better in here!
It makes me so happy to see consistent flooring again from one side of the house to the other – dealing with that carpet transition for the last few months hasn’t been fun…the house feels so much more cohesive, and it immediately felt so much cleaner!
We still want to bring this flooring into the kitchen, but that’ll be last on our list – we want to finish all of the upstairs first. The next step for now is to re-install baseboards in both of these rooms and to fix the fireplace – Corey accidentally knocked off one of the tiles on the wall when we were working on the flooring. We had already been planning on doing something to update the fireplace, anyways, it’s just a little higher on our priority list now!
Whew, it feels good to be done with this! Now we just need to take a breather for a few weeks and then muster up the energy to tackle the baseboards – it’s never a fun project, but it makes such a big difference in how finished the room looks!
What have you been working on in your home lately?
Alright, so I wish I was coming back from my impromptu blogging hiatus with a more exciting post, but I’m not. It may not have the prettiest photos or be the most fun to read, but I searched the entire internet for posts like this as we were gearing up for this project and they’re sadly lacking – so I want to document this for anyone else who might take this on in the future.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to it. A few months back, Corey and I replaced the flooring in our dining room – it was a major change and we’ve been very happy with it. Our goal was to get the living room done as well before summer ended, because Jackson has been spending more and more time on the floor lately and we hated to have him on that nasty carpet.The only problem with tackling the living room was all of the tile – there was a small spot of tile in front of the fireplace and a larger area by the entryway…and we were terrified of getting it up.
My sister and brother in law took this project on a couple of summers ago, and we have heard nothing but horror stories about how tough it was to get the tile up, how long it took, and how much they hated the entire process. So needless to say, we weren’t looking forward to it. But, as much as we weren’t excited about it, summer is quickly coming to an end so we decided to get it done last week. My sister emphasized to us that we needed to get some sort of a power tool to get it up rather than doing it all by hand, so we knew we wanted to start there. We headed to Home Depot (we chose them over Lowe’s this time because they’ll rent tools and Lowe’s won’t) and asked the guy at the tool rental department what he recommended. He pointed us to a demolition hammer with a chisel bit (for getting the tile up) and a scraper bit (for the thinset). It was a bit pricey (about $100) to rent it all for the day, but we figured if it made the job easier, it was well worth it.
I could practically end this post here and just call it a day – I’m telling you, that tool was amazing. Most of the blog posts and tutorials I read prior to renting the tool didn’t seem to give us much hope – people mostly seemed to just use a plain hammer and chisel to get rid of the tile and thinset, or they didn’t elaborate on what they did. Let me tell you again – the demolition hammer is the way to go.
It was noisy and messy to get all of the tile up, but Corey got everything up and smoothed out about an hour – it didn’t mess up the concrete foundation at all, and thanks to how smooth it left the concrete there was no other prep work for us to do besides cleaning up. It was fabulous! Once we had all the tile up, we ripped up all of the carpet in the room – while we still had the tool, we also used it to smooth out any weird areas of concrete that were bumpy or would otherwise interfere with the flooring. It was exhausting (and disgusting) but soon enough, we had a carpet-less living room…and a giant mess.
And here’s where I’ll leave you because I haven’t gotten around to taking photos of the finished room yet. But it is finished, and I’m in love! I’ll take photos soon and hopefully be back next week to show it off – it’s looking amazing!
Okay, anyone have any fun house updates? Up to anything exciting lately?