Our Upgraded Ikea Play Kitchen

I have a problem.

My kid has a nicer kitchen than I do.

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!

Refreshing Our Front Door

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?

So We Don’t Go Blind…

Remember way (way, way) back last year when we got some new windows?

Well, when we did that, we took down all of the blinds on the windows we were replacing (obviously) and have been (very) slowly replacing them. The windows in our dining room have been on the “to update” list for a long time, but since they’re so large, they’ve been pushed back over and over. Only one of the windows has been replaced so far, so as of right now, it’s looking a little crazy in there.

It looks crazier in person, I promise.

The plan all along has been to get new blinds for both of the windows in here (because we aren’t big fans of the faux wood blinds), replace the curtain rods with the same ones we have in the living room, and change out the curtains for something a little more colorful. All of those things add up to be pretty pricey, though, so we just kept putting it off. We actually bought the curtain rods a couple of months back when they were on sale, but they’re just hanging out in the garage waiting for the curtains. So, all that to say…we’ve done nothing in here.

But! We finally reached a point where we couldn’t handle it anymore. Every evening when the sun sets, it sets right in our backyard – meaning it shines nice and bright right through this window. Guess what time it starts happening? Right around dinner.

It’s fun. You’re just sitting there, enjoying your meal, when all of the sudden you are hit by a ray of light so bright you are momentarily blinded. And it doesn’t go away until the sun goes behind the house on the other side of our backyard, which means you’re often dealing with it for a while.

It also shines into the living room and hits the couch, which means that even if we eat dinner early we’re usually having to deal with it while we try to watch television.

So, yeah. We had to do something about it.

And I’m so glad we did. We decided to go with bamboo blinds in here – which is what we’ve slowly been adding all throughout the house (we currently have them in the kitchen, our room, and Jack’s room). We went with the same color we did in Jackson’s room because we love how they work with the flooring in there, which is the same flooring that will eventually be everywhere.

We’re able to adjust them to just the right height so that they block out the sun until it goes behind the other house, so it works out perfectly. I think they look great, and they bring us one step closer to having the window treatments in here finished – we just need to buy some new curtains (we keep changing our minds about what we want, so it may be a while).

It feels good to do another house update. It’s been quite a while since we’ve actually done anything, so I’m pretty thrilled with this little change. And I’m very excited to be able to eat my dinner without worrying about blinding myself.

Have you made any house updates lately?

A New Lamp

This post was written in partnership with Lamps.com. They provided me a lamp to review, but the choice of lamp was all mine and so are the opinions! 

Back when we updated the curtains in our living room last month, one of the very first things Corey and I agreed upon was that the lamp in the living room had to go.

We still love it, but with the blue curtains it just wasn’t working – too much blue in that one little area, and we wanted something that would contrast a little and wouldn’t just blend in completely with the curtains like this one seemed to. We weren’t really actively looking for anything yet, we just knew that eventually we’d be replacing that for something else.

Then, I ended up getting contacted by the awesome people at Lamps.com who wanted me to review a lamp for them. It was meant to be! They gave me a few suggestions of lamps but told me I could pretty much choose what I wanted, so Corey and I spent a while pouring over their website trying to decide which one we liked best.

Once I saw it, I knew pretty quickly that this guy would be coming to live in my home.

It’s the Clear HGTV Table Lamp and I’m smitten. This lamp is much smaller than the one we had here previously, which is not exactly what we wanted, but we are both absolutely head over heels with the look of it in this room. The pretty cork lampshade adds a really awesome texture that this room was desperately needing, and I am always a huge fan of plain ol’ glass lamp bases.

We have debated putting the lamp on a few books or something to make it look taller, but I think we’re both adjusting to the new size of it and I actually like it now. It settles into the background a little more nicely than our old lamp did while still providing a little bit of color contrast, and it just seems to layer right in the room without sticking out too much – like it was meant to be there.

I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence, but ever since we got this lamp I have found myself using the lamp light in the room much more than the overhead light. I love our fan and overhead light in the living room, but it doesn’t actually give off very much light, and it has a definite yellow cast to it (and I’m too lazy to change the bulb since the ceilings are about 7 million feet high there). But between this lamp and the floor lamp on the other side of the couch, it’s usually plenty of light for us throughout the day and into the early evening. I like the cozy feeling it creates in the room and it really makes me understand why so many designers talk about adding lamps to a room. It makes a huge difference in the entire feel of the room, and I’m obsessed.

Of course, for the past month or so the room has been very well-lit between these two guys and all of our Christmas lights…now that those have been taken down I may have to get a third lamp for the room to make up for it!

Overall I can safely say that Corey and I are both extremely pleased with our new lamp, and I kind of want to get one for every room in the house. Who knew all it took to capture my heart is a cork lampshade?

How do you use lamps in your home? Anyone else find a new lamp obsession lately?

De-Cluttering the Living Room

I know, I know. Sounds like the most boring post ever.

But it’s not what you think.

Back when we originally installed our homemade curtains in the living room, Corey and I both loved them. They were fun, bright, and made us happy.

But after almost two years of them, we’re both kind of over it. While we still love the colors and the pattern, it was definitely limiting us in what we could do in there – with that much pattern on the windows, there wasn’t much we could do elsewhere. And visually, I felt like they were just way too much – I felt like they made the room feel cluttered all the time.

We were both ready for a change.

So, we did some searching and fell in love with these Threshold brand curtains from Target. They’re much more neutral (only one color) and they still have a pattern, but it’s not too busy. While we were at it, we decided to go ahead and upgrade our curtain rods – we still loved the homemade ones but wanted something a little more substantial and “grown up”.

Mmmmm. I love this change.

The new curtains have a very calming effect on the room and make it feel much less visually cluttered. And they open us up to a whole world of new color options for things like the pillows and the accessories, because there aren’t a million colors in the curtains.

The new rods are gorgeous too – they’re these mercury glass rods from Target, and they feel so much more luxurious and expensive than the old ones (I mean, obviously they’re definitely more expensive than our DIY ones, but they’re still pretty cheap!). We had to buy two rods for the big window behind the couch and use the middle rod from one of them to extend the other rod and make it long enough for the whole window – luckily we found a broken one (the finial was broken, the rest was fine) at our local store and they sold it to us for only $10 – score!

I feel like this little change makes a huge difference in the room and gets us another step closer to where we want to eventually end up in here. We still want to replace the ugly white blinds with something prettier (probably bamboo shades, though I’d LOVE to do white roman shades if they weren’t so dang expensive) but for now, this is a good upgrade.

Anyone else changing out curtains in their home lately?