2016 Holiday House Tour of Content.

As some of you may remember, last year's Christmas decor-spectacular was brought to you by the lovely Monica Mangin of East Coast Creative and Lowe's.

We were the recipients of a Holiday Makeover, and Monica and her team came to Content. in October (just days after Halloween) and decked our halls with a ton of Christmas cheer. You can check out Monica's recap of the Makeover here.

Well, this year, it's up to me. Thankfully, all the decor used in the Makeover was ours to keep for years to come. The Makeover was just in the Great Room, so I wanted to spread the cheer out a bit throughout the house and add my own spin.

Content. has 10 fireplaces. One day I hope to decorate them all completely different, with their own theme, but 2016 was not that year...

This year, our theme was "don't spend any money + use what you have". We added greens and garland to accent the mantels, and I reused my favorite mix-and-match brass candle sticks with simple white candle sticks.

My favorite Makeover keepsake, these blackboard Nutcrackers!

The Great Room is a pretty large space, so we used both of the artificial Christmas trees again, which are prelite and a dream to put up and take down.

I'm not sentimental about having a real tree. I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to them, in fact, and with all the foot traffic Content. sees, let things to clean up (ie needles) is preferred. 

We did quite a bit of personalization this year, adding this cherished ornament to the tree which was a gift to us from our friend Lin.

Lin is not only super thoughtful, she's also REALLY creative. For a whole year, she held onto this stamp which she received and saved from our wedding invitations and collected these tiny pine cones from the camp where we were married.

She made this beautiful ornament and it was a house warming gift when we moved into Content. and we couldn't love it more.

A little holiday cheer was added to Guest Room 1. The large green accent wall was begging for some holiday inspiration.

What, doesn't every room need a full sized toboggan? I certainly think so...

Never one to eliminate chairs from a room (I love guests!) I simply moved these loungers, displaced by the tree, closer to the front door. Luckily, we have two front doors, so blocking one wasn't a problem at all.

This little spot is now the perfect nook for reading Twas the Night Before Christmas.

We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so I wanted the holiday decor to be minimalist. These simple window wreaths and ribbon are subtle but beautiful and just the right amount of holiday without being over the top.

The dining room got some handmade love. The wreath on this fireplace was made by me during a second annual wreath making day with my favorite girlfriends.

My girl Veronica captured this pic and said it best:

Here's my attempt at displaying all of the beautiful Christmas cards we receive each year. I created this "Christmas Past and Present" banner using a free printable I found online.

I picked a few cards from Christmas past to display along with the new cards we received this year.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas! From Content. we hope your season is Merry + Bright!

Kitchen Renovation (Phase 3)

All right everyone, I know, I know, you're way overdue on a kitchen update. So, go get yourself a drink, sit back and get comfy.

If you remember, when last we chatted about the kitchen in my Phase 2 post, we had just completed all the dry wall. That seriously feels like a lifetime ago, but in reality was only 3 months or so. Since then, a considerable amount of work has been done on the kitchen.

Most notably, the new pine floors, the cabinets, the kitchen island and trim. All respectively works of art and achievement that my wonderful husband should be very proud of!

Let's start with the floors. If you recall, the existing oak hardwood in the kitchen was worse for wear. It was not original to the house, but was also installed around more recent constructed (1980s) cabinets, so when we removed these cabinets, huge gauges and holes remained.

See the gauges and holes in the old flooring?

It really was a shame to pull up that much oak, but we resolved to save the wood for future projects and moved on. Once several more layers of linoleum were removed, John had a fresh surface to work with.

In an effort to match the existing dining room hardwood, John first sourced wide plank, white pine boards and cut them to width.

Then, over the course of a weekend, John and I cut the tongue or groove into each side of the pine boards. It was a tedious, precise process but in the end saved us a lot of money!

All of the completed boards, now with tongue and groove.

Then, the tongue and grooved wood was left to properly acclimate to its new home indoors, and then installed the following weekend. In fact, it was Easter weekend. Holidays don't have that same relaxing quality much these days...

Working together, we glued and nailed each board, creating a similar pattern in board-length to the dining room floor. John couldn't wait to try out his new toy, sorry, tool.

Like a kid on Christmas morning. "I've always wanted a flooring nailer!"

Originally, John was opposed to using glue, hoping to use a more traditional method, but a good contractor friend stressed otherwise and reassured John using glue was the right move. Not only would the glue secure the boards over time, but would also alleviate floor creaking which, as we all know, is notorious in old construction.

High-fives celebrated each successfully installed run, and we pushed on with only one minor snafu. Probably celebrating a little too early (more high fives and a dance break) our pattern accidentally got out of wack causing us to scramble to pull up the glued and nailed board without damaging it. Aside from that 30 minutes of panic, all went extremely well!

After the boards were laid, we started on the decorative flat head, steel nail detail, again mirroring the dining room pattern. John sources these from the Tremont Nail Company who are known for their authentic restoration products.

To install the decorative nails, first I drilled pilot holes using a simple cardboard template. I'll admit, this was nerve wracking. Drilling "not so random" holes into a JUST perfectly laid floor seemed insane.

But once John nailed and set each one by hand, the extra effort was clearly worth while.

Then, John used a tung oil finish diluted in mineral spirits to seal the floor. We long debated trying to match the 100 year old dining room color with a new stain in the kitchen, but in the end, have opted to let the wood age naturally.

Honestly, the tung oil and mineral spirits smell like stinky feet, and has permanently ruined a few articles of clothing, but the smell dissipates a bit everyday and now I burn even more incense.

Long story short, the floor is gorgeous! I love my kitchen floor!
Protective paper is down

Once the floor was in and the oil had several days to cure, we placed a protective cover on the edges and John and our brother-in-law Joe installed the cabinets. Woot woot, thanks Joe!

Thanks for the digital level Dad, it was a life saver!

You remember, right? We purchased all the kitchen cabinets back in November, and I have since been staring at them since, dreaming of this magical day...

All of the cabinets were designed by John and I, and Dawn, our awesome cabinet consultant at Home Depot.

At the time, Home Depot was pushing American Woodmark with extra discounts if you attended information sessions so we signed up, ate complimentary doughnut holes, and got free upgrades.

All in all, the standard cabinets through American Woodmark are good quality, durable, and spot on with production time. We were very happy with the process and purchase, now, I'll just be over here paying them off till 2035 ;)

From there, John was focused on the kitchen island. From the start of designing the kitchen, we envisioned a very large island. Remember the kitchen itself is pretty big, and we wanted the island to fill the space and adequately host lots of family and friends. I don't think we anticipated as many Beer Pong/Flip Cup requests right away, but hey, we love it that everyone is excited to hang around in our kitchen.

The cabinets are IN!

We designed the island to be double sided. One side would be for food prep, with drawers and a microwave cubby below (thanks for the idea Kyle & PJ!). The opposite side would hang over 12" or so, creating a counter height seating area, with large bulk storage below.

John sources these large, rough, locally cut oak slabs from a guy named Dave. I'm not entirely sure how the bromance began, but I'm pretty sure John is looking for any excuse to pay Dave another visit, so let us know....

Once we had all the pieces laid out, we determined which natural features in the boards (curving, cupping, mill patterns, etc) worked best side by side.

The wood was then scrubbed, treated, dried and prepped.

Looking dark brown from being wet, washed and treated.

Choosing the best 4-board arrangement, John cut six of the center edges straight, and left two rough at the outside edges.

This is me "supervising"

He then joined the center edges together with dowels and glue as not to show any finishing (nails) on the surface.

Then, he applied a dark, oil based stain which will repel water, stains and will be easy to clean.

Applying the oil, stain.

This island is a beast! It took 4 guys (thanks for your help Ryan, Shawn & Vin) to move it into place.

Truth be told, its not 100% installed. Overtime the wood will dry and react to heat and humidity. So far, the over hang has started to curl a bit. We have added some temporary bracing to help the wood dry flat.

The island is a work in progress. We absolutely love the rustic look and feel, and because of that, will work with the natural reaction of the wood to see how best to make it happy in Content.

Most recently, the ceiling, floor and chair rail trim had all been installed. Similar to the master bathroom, John recreated trim to match the existing trim in the dining room.

Our friend PJ was back at it, priming, and prepping for paint. Thanks PJ! The old kitchen had faux wood "wainscoting" as a chair rail. Instead of recreating something new, we matched the existing faux paneling, and will paint it white to match the other trim. 

New trim!

I haven't shared any of the decor decisions made for the kitchen, which will follow in a separate post. Also, I haven't picked a wall color, so you're suggestions are ALWAYS welcomed!!

What do you think so far? Let me know by commenting below!