August 03, 2017

A year later, it’s finally time to reveal our new {mostly} IKEA kitchen! I would love to spend hours on this blog post and include the hundreds of images of our DIY failures and successes, but I know all you REALLY want to see is the finished project! My friend Megan Lorenz, who is an amazing interiors photographer, came over last month to photograph the kitchen for us. I was thrilled with the kitchen before, but her photos made it even more stunning.

So…let’s begin. This was our garage after IKEA delivered 200 (yes, actually 202) boxes into our garage. The delivery guy actually said something along the lines of  “This is the biggest delivery we’ve made so far”. (IKEA St. Louis had only been open for a year at that point, but the statement still really surprised me). I spent an ENTIRE day organizing the boxes into piles (which would later become specific cabinets).

Looks like a perfect project for someone due with a baby in a couple of months!

Anyway, I feel like I have to throw in some background information to make this kitchen transformation a bit more dramatic. What you see below is what we started with…and below that is from when we first moved in…

We moved here in 2011 and I thought the kitchen would be immediately updated…didn’t happen.

The floors were a hideous Pergo-esque thing that butted right up against our original hardwoods in the living room. If you look closely at the next photo you can see where the two floors meet. We knew that had to go, but weren’t exactly sure if we would continue the hardwoods into the kitchen or go with tile.

Everything about the above photo makes me say “WOMP WOMP”. No storage, you could barely open the dishwasher door, the countertops were granite but didn’t fit with the kitchen,  and the backsplash was old and boring. Just yuck.

This photo shows where we came in through the garage, and had to squeeze by the refrigerator to get into the house. We had no drop-off space for our purses/diaper bags/computer bags/coats/mail. This left us feeling constantly bogged down with STUFF and nowhere to hide it. I pined after a mudroom but figured we just didn’t have the space.


Many of the homes in our area built in the late 1960s-early 70s had these little rooms which we assumed was supposed to be a  bar. When we first moved in we thought it could be a wine space–this lasted for a while until Grif’s tastes turned from wine to craft beer, and our dogs turned it into a luxury dog apartment. We knew this room had to go, and thought it might become our pantry.

That brings us to the dining room, which really, I kind of liked. I found some cool lights at CB2, we made some neat wood/gold shelves to collect junk on the wall, threw in lots of IKEA furniture, and called it a day. Problem was, the dining room took up a LOT of floor space that felt unused.

Fab view of the original paneling along the dining room walls **shudder shudder**…this ain’t no Joanna Gaines ship-lap.

So there’s the space we had to work with. When I found out I was pregnant with Gillian in November 2015, we decided we better redo the kitchen ASAP because after we had 2 children it would just be too hard to deal with. We (mostly I) went into crazy-town mode. We called IKEA and set up an appointment with their “kitchen designer” who comes to your home and helps you with the layout of your new kitchen, and what to buy so that you can DIY it. This meeting unfortunately did not go so hot. The designer was friendly, but wasn’t able to offer us the transformation we were looking for. It’s actually a much longer saga that I will not go into, but in the end it worked out because he referred us to an interior designer named Elizabeth Kavlock, of Dashing Designs. She was like our kitchen angel sent from heaven :)  You see, previously I had hunted for a designer who would come up with a design for us using IKEA cabinetry, but I couldn’t find a soul in the St. Louis area who was willing to do so. We met with several kitchen companies who gave us outrageous bids and essentially told us we were crazy for creating an IKEA kitchen. After one phone call with Elizabeth we knew we were headed down the right path.

This is the original idea she came up with to “flip” the kitchen and dining room. The thought had entered our head before but we couldn’t quite get our minds around the idea. Unlike what the other designers had come up with for us (which basically was an update of what we already had), she was able to fit a gigantic island, which was my dream come true. We were also able to avoid replacing one of the windows along our back wall which was a huge money savings.

After the layout was approved, the hard part started, which was the actual ordering/building of the kitchen. There were a few miscommunications when translating the design into IKEA cabinetry, because you can’t necessarily customize it. I don’t even want to tell you how many times we made trips down to the store to buy things, return parts, buy more parts, harass the kitchen helpers, but more crap, cry in the parking lot, use swear words, and curse IKEA for existing (but it all worked out in the end, right?)

The demolition and building started in March, and we were able to complete the basics by the time the baby arrived at the end of July. Below you can see some detail shots of the process.

After what you see above, we wasted a lot of precious time because THIS GIRL wanted clear grout. Yes, that’s a thing. Unfortunately, after testing it a million different ways on the backsplash, we admitted defeat as it wasn’t going to work on our pretty frosted glass. We went with white and I ended up loving it, so it’s all good. We also had to vacate the house for a week to get our floors refinished. We found an amazing guy to replace the Pergo with wood to match our existing hardwoods. He was also able to fix some other trouble spots that were created when the previous owner removed walls but cheaply filled in gaps between the wood. The floors  were a transformation all on their own.

If you’ve been reading for this long…wow..good for you! I’m finally going to reveal the new kitchen! Hurray! But I do of course want to thank my husband who worked his TAIL off building this kitchen. While I spent hours upon hours shopping for/researching/ordering light fixtures, backsplash tile, countertops, brass knobs and pulls, furniture, and appliances, he was tediously building every drawer, cabinet, shelf, and hinge you see. I followed him around checking every inch of tile work and double checking if objects were straight and and symmetrical. Drove him insane. But together we came up with our dream kitchen and I couldn’t be prouder!

Enough talk. Here are the photos that Megan took…woo hoo!

Dining room, After! Behind the black wall is the mudroom (former kitchen). The light is original to the house, but we spray painted it a prettier gold!

The banquette seating is also built from IKEA Bodbyn cabinets.

And the mudroom! I have lots of “favorite” parts of this renovation, but the mudroom is at the top of the list. I keep imagining all this stuff that used to be dispersed throughout the house, and how it now has a space! On the other side we have some calendars, bulletin boards for artwork, and a table for our keys and whatnot. The door was purchased at ReFab and came from a deconstructed building at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

And Now, the heart of our home! Since it’s been complete, we truly spend more time in here than anywhere else in the house. I love that we can eat breakfast together at the island, entertain guests in the dining room or living room while cooking, and have plenty of open space to fit our families! I think we created something a bit different than the ALL white kitchen with our splash of color with the tile. I feel that it’s beautiful but also really functional.

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this tour of our new Kitchen/Dining/Mudroom! Below I’ll include lots of sources in case you’re curious where to purchase items that you see above :)

Kitchen Designer: Elizabeth Kavlock with Dashing Design. She is fabulous!

Cabinetry: IKEA Bodbyn, both white and gray

Quartz Countertops: LG Viatera, Hallmark Stone

Backsplash Tile: Loft Horizon Seafoam Green 2×16, TileBar

Farmhouse Sink: Kohler

Faucet: Delta Trinsic Touch 2.o, Champagne Bronze (It is much cheaper elsewhere)

Island Chairs: Target, Windsor Counter stool in mint (we scored an excellent deal on these when target was having a sale)

Island lights: Katie conical pendant, purchased at Ferguson

Flooring: Rob’s Flooring, Alton, IL. He does not have a website, but has a Facebook page. I recommend him 1000 times over!

“After” Photos: My dear friend,  Megan Lorenz Photo



May 17, 2015

This will be the longest blog post I’ve ever created, and deservedly so! Nicole and I met back in 2009, when I photographed her pajama-clad family on the day after Christmas for a fun photo shoot. Turned out Nicole was a photography student…and I was looking for an assistant to help me with my fast-growing business! She made a fabulous assistant–at each wedding I could look to her for support–whether it be important gossip regarding who’s mother disliked who, or for my end-of-the-night plate of wedding desserts. I have always been able to count on her!

Since Ellie arrived 2 years ago, I’ve pulled back from the wedding side of things…but when Nikki asked me to shoot her wedding in Cancun…there wasn’t any way I could say no! So Griff and I brushed off our passports, left Elliott for the first time, and hopped a plane to Mexico!

I’m not sure if a family could be any more fun than the Caleo’s. They were so accommodating (I felt guilty if I DIDN’T have a Miami Vice in hand), that the weekend didn’t feel too much like work. After we settled in, I was able to capture some engagement photos, some family pics, and some shots of the rehearsal dinner…

The Hard Rock Hotel Cancun was an amazing venue for a wedding weekend. The day of the wedding couldn’t have been more gorgeous. There was no shortage of beautiful backgrounds for the wedding photos. Nikki and Don’s roof-top reception was laid-back, with yummy food and fun dancing. The day flew by…and the night ended with an amazing show by a troupe of fire-dancers…so cool!!!

After some recovery time the next day, we had some fun with trashing “A” dress…not “The” dress. No way was Nikki soaking her gorgeous wedding gown…so she bought a cute, cheap white dress and trashed that one instead!


Nikki and Don…and the Caleos…thank you so much for bringing us along to capture your wedding weekend. It was surreal and a blast, and I hope you love your images. Love you Nicole!!!

December 22, 2014

This Christmas, one of my “gifts” to my husband, Griffin, was to show off some of his AMAZING work to everyone! It can be hard for me to put into words what he means to our family, but his dedication to making our house beautiful is just one of the many reasons why I love him. Starting back before Elliott was born, he started working on the basement bathroom. He hired someone to finish the plumbing, but everything else was done with his own two hands. We chose to paint the room Sherwin Williams “Softened Green”, which I think makes it feel very spa-like. The tile is just gorgeous, and I’m in love with our rustic-looking wood-tile floors. I think my favorite part of the bathroom is the oval-shaped mirror over the vanity back-splash.

The best view in the bathroom is from the jacuzzi tub. I’ve spent a few nights here with a glass of wine catching up on Project Runway :)

Next comes Griffin’s favorite room in the house. While he worked hard on the bathroom, he really put his heart into the bar. He is, after all, a craft-beer aficionado. We carried the wood tile from the bathroom out into the bar. Griff took the pre-finished cabinets from Home Depot and customized them. He’d been saving a slab of butcher block for years, hoping to find the right place for it. It looks perfect as the bar-top. The Schlafly bottle cap backsplash is a nod to his favorite local brewery. We look forward to spending many nights entertaining friends in our very own basement pub :)

Merry Christmas! Let us know if you ever want to come have a drink :)

November 18, 2014

I want to apologize for my sad, unused blog! Full time job + 18 month old baby = shifted priorities! Anyway, more on that later!

In October I was honored to photograph Carolyn and Daniel’s wedding at the Missouri History Museum. As you look back at recent blog posts, you may recognize Carolyn as the 4th out of 4 Chao sisters whose weddings I’ve photographed. Crazy! These Chao people are good folks, and I will miss shooting a wedding for them every couple of months! I look forward to capturing memories of lots of grandchildren :)

As I write this blog it is currently 15 degrees (on November 18th), and I’m looking back with fond memories to this beautiful fall day :) I enjoyed watching Carolyn have a moment with her grandmother (who personally sewed the straps on her wedding gown), see her future husband for the first time, and especially enjoyed the random fireworks display that popped up at the end of the evening!

Teasleys, I hope you enjoy your wedding photos :)


Ceremony + Reception: MO History Museum

Floral Design: Thorn Studio

July 17, 2014

“We can’t take serious photos”, Emily stated to me at our pre-wedding consultation. Sometimes when I hear these kind of statements I get a little nervous. But these two rocked out their photos, even in the sticky StL humidity! Emily is the 3rd of 4 Chao sisters whose wedding I had/will have the pleasure of shooting. Pretty sure they should invite me to Thanksgiving this year? Just sayin’.

Some highlights of Emily and Tyler’s day included: Windy downpours followed by 95 degree heat, getting ready at her parents’ gorgeous condo overlooking Forest Park, A-MA-ZING florals by Thorn Studio (including a  beautiful flower headpiece), an awesome steel-drum player who played the music for the ceremony with more energy than I’ve ever witnessed, a surprise serenade from the groom, and an end-of-the-night Sno-cone truck.

And hey…the bride wore Birkenstocks (sounds like the name of a book, doesn’t it?)  Enjoy this beautiful wedding!