After a short hiatus for my bar exam studying, taking (remote!), and passing (woo!), Chris and I were itching to get back on our renovations when a 60s-era multi-unit almost literally fell into our laps. We’ve finished two of the four apartments, and have two more to go. Per usual, I couldn’t have possibly made them the same, and gave each its own funkiness.

Here’s before and after of unit 1:

Here’s more after photos:

Here’s unit 2:

Dormont In-Between

A few years back, we restored the hardwood floors and made a few other quick updates to a house in Dormont. In between tenants this summer, we were going to fix a few cracked tiles in the kitchen when I came upon the single greatest good news a home renovation warrior can have when fixing floors: the hardwood extends into the kitchen. Needless to say, we tore up all of the tiles and restored the floors. Why not add some funky blue base cabinets, gold touches, and a backsplash while you’re at it.

Here is what it looked like when we bought the house, after our first phase (July 2018), and today:


I realized I never shared this house we rehabbed in 2018. Which is crazy, because it is probably the starkest before and after we have. (Although when Chris is the one who starts a project without me, the before photos are never as good -.- ) It was a big undertaking because the property was in such bad condition, but all it took was a little TLC. We cleaned, painted, fixed electric, and refinished the floors, changed out lighting, added a parking pad, a door, and a little walkup in the back. Bonus: our current tenant is a union carpenter (!) and actually built a deck on the back for a discount on rent! Talk about a dream tenant.

Also, I did not get to help very much with this house. I’d just started my second year of law school (which was the busiest by a long shot) and Chris did most of Screen Shot 2020-06-01 at 2.28.37 PMthis on his own – like pulling up the carpet and filling thousands of carpet staple holes. I did, however, polyurethane the floors on a Saturday at midnight after a show we attended downtown. (Timing is everything with poly, and we kind of cornered ourselves there.)

This house some really cool potential and awesome space for a big kitchen and a fun bathroom renovation, which I am excited about.



Finishing our basement

Once Chris and I get an idea for our house, we almost always have to do it. So when we thought, hey, you know we still have enough room in our tiny basement to split it in half and make the entrance from the garage in a mudroom we were putting up 2x’s for drywall the next day.


Note, sagging wall in stairs: they had screwed the handrail directly into the drywall (not a stud), so after years of that pull, the plaster was completely buckled under the weight. We were thankful this had been the reason, and replacing the plaster with fresh, not bending drywall was easy.

Also, note the picture with our “where our wall is going to be” test. We had that up for a few days to see if we thought the space was going to be too cramped. Chris wanted to keep his workshop in the back, and the piping, AC and furnace were a lot to have tried to finish the whole room.


Winter Break Quickie

This project was mostly cleaning, painting, and replacing the floors. We added new appliances and a bathroom refresh. And I got to do it over my winter break from law school.

I love the potential for the kitchen in this house. Such a big room! One day we’ll get in there and really make it awesome.




living room




Dormont Do-over

My summer project was to make a few fixes to get this property updated and ready to rent. There are still a few things we need to do, but we’re excited with where this all ended up. Next up is a little exterior work, which we will probably try to tackle this fall.


Entry/Living Room/Dining/Stairs:




What we’ve done so far:

  • In the kitchen, we took out drop ceilings (worst invention ever), and replaced with beadboard.
  • New appliances, including rearranging spaces for more function, more cabinet space
  • Refinished the wood floors
  • Painting everywhere. Woodwork especially was rough and needed some serious sanding and paint. Went with two pretty basic, neutral grayed-out colors. It’s more cost effective to just buy a lot of the same color for the rentals — both woodwork and walls. I like using fun colors, but keeping your palette limited makes for easy fixes and not having to remember hundreds of different ones when you have a few properties.
    • For woodwork, we use Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee. We also used Benny Moore Cinder for lower gray kitchen cabinets. (Cinder is the same color they use on Ikea’s gray shaker cabinets). Benjamin Moore makes hands down the best paint. Especially for woodwork. The difference is night and day. It is always worth buying the good paint.
    • For walls, we used both Sherwin Williams Snow Drop (bathroom and dining) and Behr Ultra Silver Marlin (everywhere else).
  • A few new light fixtures
  • A few major wall patches (see dining room)

Upstairs Bath: Round 2

One of our first projects when we moved in (view here) was to quickly resurface the tile in our 1950s-pink upstairs bathroom. We knew this was a short-term fix, so when we found the time and tiles, we jumped on the chance to pull all that pink out and begin phase two.

We also wanted to add a glass shower door to show off the new shower and make the tiny bathroom seem a little larger.

Side-by-sides: BEFORE, After Phase 1, NOW

A few things about refinishing tile: This was an experiment in the first place. We wanted to see how it would last, and it was great for us for about 2-3 years. We probably did not work as patiently as we should have to ensure it stay longer, but we knew it wasn’t a permanent fix in the first place so I guess we were probably lazier on the cleaning, sanding, scrubbing required beforehand, and probably didn’t wait as long in between coats.

After a few years of wear and tear, it still remained *okay* but there were a few spots, generally more vulnerable/odd-cornered ones that started to peel.

I would still definitely recommend this as a quick and easy fix, and again, stress to actually take your time scrubbing and letting the material dry. We used this.

Enter phase two:


and WOO!

Nancy’s Kitchen


Late September, we purchased a rental property, and it did not have a kitchen.

We had a ton of fun with this one, including a strict deadline (TWO months for people with full time jobs/full-time law student! WHAT?). It was also a stretch for the artist in me to not go crazy on lighting or anything that wasn’t necessary for a rental. That was hard. I wanted to put in a bad ass farmhouse light over the island and a new fridge to match the other stainless appliances, but I had to restrain myself. (UPD: I put in a farmhouse light!)

I splurged for a cool tile mosaic, and we’ve found a pretty inexpensive granite company in our area (~$1000, including install and sink compared to upwards of $4k retail). Granite, we figured, might be cheaper in the long run because a tenant isn’t going to ruin it with hot pots and stains, plus the bonus of resale value makes up for it on its own.

There were a few crazy things with this project.

The kitchen walls were also all bead board, as was the ceiling. We decided we’d make the ceiling a point of beauty and keep that original boarding. The walls we wanted something more solid so went with dry wall. You can also see that we tiled the backsplash right on top of the old wall because it was solid enough.

You’ll also see in the during pictures our cabinet layout process, which we used for our own kitchen too. It’s fun to move around all the different cabinets and play with how we could make it work. Notice the cabinets are the same as our kitchen. We did not intend for this. We get our cabinets at a builder’s auction, along with our tiles. They’re about $8,000 from the manufacturer, but we get them between 2 and 3K.  The ones that went cheapest at the auction ended up being our same cabinets! (Although we got these same ones for $1,000 less this time around). Again, as with the granite, we decided good cabinets were worth the price. Solid wood that isn’t going to get icky or destroyed after tenant wear and tear.

We popped a well-earned bottle of champagne after this one.








Our DIY Wedding

When a creative writer and an industrial designer get married, the result is a lot of fun DIY pieces and parts. We first started with a fun brainstorming and strategy session with our parents and friend Joan, and together, we came up with an overall “theme” plus a few quirks we knew we wanted to incorporate. We’re outdoors-loving travelers and athletes, and we wanted to celebrate the adventures we’d taken over the six years leading up to our wedding. Somewhere along the line, a little underlying “bee theme” inserted itself into the mix too — which was fun because we keep bees, and the wedding was on an organic farm, who has a bee in their logo.

We had so much fun bringing these ideas to life — a caveat I’d add that that is the most important part. Chris and I are incredibly decisive. Our house was the first we saw, our dog is the first we saw when we searched rescues, and our wedding was no different. It helps to not take anything too seriously, stay organized in it all, and if at any point the amount of stuff you want to do becomes too much, then don’t do it!

The result was a customized day that brought out our personalities without being too over the top.

With the exception of the ones taken before our wedding day, all of these photos are by the talented, creative, and brilliant Rachel Joy Barehl. Check more of her work here.

We utilized Chris’ tech shop membership a lot for our wedding, including using their laser to create coasters for our guest’s name tags.

We got some metal roofing tin and used the TechShop to design our sign and cut it out on the water jet. It was awesome. Everybody needs a water jet.

Every table was named after a place Chris and I visited while we were dating. We used the laser-printer to make table signs that looked like little postcards and then had postcards of us in each place. My brother, a graphic designer,  made icons for each table to match name tags with table signage. My mother-in-law made the little flower boxes out of her old deck wood.

After working at a design agency, it was important — stupidly important – for all the signage to match with the same font and palette. Just like we take on a client brand project, I did the same with anything I designed for the wedding. I think the result was a little piece of simple, subtle uniformity most people don’t think about. I took the font and colors from our invitations, save the dates, menus and wedding programs, designed by my dear friend Krystal at lettered love studios (check her work out! It’s incredibly versatile, custom, and she’s absolutely brilliant!)

Had to. My mother-in-law and aunt made our dog Pete the cutest little tuxedo. We had a family friend pick him up from my house before the ceremony and take him back afterward. And everybody needs to get themselves a best friend who is super down to walk your dog down the aisle. He was such a good boy!

These banners led guests from the parking lot to the ceremony. They had a number of major events in our relationship ending with “the adventure continues” when you made it. Our friend Bill (at Visionary Signs) printed them on cloth for us.

We also used the same patterned fabric for our ceremony programs and Celtic hand-fasting ceremony (hint: we had a lot of extra).

(sidenote: get ready to see this fabric on anything I ever make in my life for the next forever because we have a ton of it)

I worked with Pittsburgh local artist and seamstress Jen Rocket to turn my mom and grandmother’s dress into my dream. She ended up using just about all of the lace, and adding a new skirt.

Other pieces and parts


  • my childhood dream cake (baked by our Aunt Karen);
  • custom floral arrangements;
  • little french fry containers for this kids;
  • local band from the town we met (and local beers from Pittsburgh and Athens!)
  • My mom recruited a bunch of friends to grow a bunch of bright colored zineas to put in watering cans
  • an arbor (built and stained by Chris); and more!

And if you like what you see here and are near Columbus, check out our awesome vendors:
Venue: Jorgensen Farms
Invites, programs, menus, etc: Lettered Love Studios
Flowers: Joan McKinney at Aurora
Makeup: Mary Moore
Dress: Jen Rocket Sewing/Design Studio
Hair: Charles Penzone Grand Salons
Sound & DJ: The Wild Path
Band: The Wild Honeybees
Cake: Karen Holliday