Family Room Makeover

When we first saw our new home at the open house in November, we were immediately in love with the whole home. One special feature that the house has that really struck us, is a family room that you step down into off of the hall off of the kitchen. It was a charming and special feature and a spacious room. We immediately saw potential in the room. The previous owners had used it as a sort of man cave/ pool room/ hunting lodge. You’ll see in the picture below. Dark paneling, dark brown doors, a pool table in the middle of the room, a bear skin and a deer head displayed on the wall. The walls were COVERED in framed pictures. In short,ย  it was NOT AT ALL our style.


But as a I said, we saw lots of potential. My mom and I immediately started designing the room – lots of white paint would be used, light wood, seaside touches.ย  After we’d moved in and gotten a bit settled, we got started putting our vision into reality.

Here are a few more before pictures:

IMG_5348IMG_5337IMG_5545IMG_5513IMG_5541We started by getting new doors put in. We had insulated doors put in and picked some that had a charming design at Home Depot and that had more windows and let in more light.

IMG_5600IMG_5587In the pictures above you’ll see that the primer had been put on the dark paneling and the windows and door frames. The off-white yellowish paint remained on the top half of the walls at this point.

The stairs were the next item that needed serious attention. The stairs that the room had when we bought the house were two large, misshapen, uneven concrete steps. We had those taken out and a new, beautiful staircase put in place. The pictures below are of the concrete steps and of the new stairs before they were stained.


IMG_5586The room made its debut for company on Easter Sunday. We had so much fun designing the room and implementing our ideas! It turned a dark, depressing, dingy room into a gorgeous, spacious, bright and sunny room that we absolutely love spending time in!


Some information on where some of the items in the room came from:

  1. The absolutely gorgeous chandelier we ordered from Wayfair. We love it so much and stare at it regularly ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. The beautiful capiz coffee table was a Pier 1 find. It’s the perfect addition to the room. (A lot of the Easter decorations in the room also came from Pier 1).
  3. The lovely side board behind the chair and ottoman was a treasure we found at the Christmas Tree Shop.
  4. The paint colors used in the room are: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace for the top half of the walls (the plastered part). Benjamin Moore Simply White in semi-gloss for the paneling, the door frames and the window frames.

You’ll also see the finished stairs with the stain on them above.ย  You’ll note the seaside touches that we’d added at that point (the anchor on the wall, etc..). We’ve added quite a few more since and I’ll show those in a future blog post.

My mom and I had so much fun working together to transform this room. We make a great team and we loved every minute of the process and are so happy with the result!


Hallmark movie filming near us!!

A HALLMARK MOVIE FILMING UP THE ROAD FROM WHERE WE LIVE?!?!?!?! PINCH ME!! Truly a dream come true! We’ve always said wistfully, ‘If only Hallmark would film near us….” And then last week we found out that they were, in fact, doing that very thing!!!

Newburyport is one of the most charming towns you will ever encounter. Situated on the North Shore of Massachusetts, it offers cobblestone pedestrian streets, brick buildings, wonderful architecture, great shopping and lots of delicious dining options. It is one of our favorite places and it is a PERFECT setting for a Hallmark movie.

A friend of ours who lives in Newburyport, posted on Facebook last Wednesday that a Hallmark Christmas movie was filming in town and she included a picture of a huge Christmas tree that had been put up in Market Square in the spot where the town’s Christmas tree stands every year.

We immediately figured out when we could get to Newburyport to see the movie filming! I was also hoping we’d be able to be extras in the movie – how cool would that be?! I emailed and messaged everyone I could think of to get more details on times of filming, etc.. I contacted the Chamber of Commerce, local paper, as well as the Instagram page for the movie but wasn’t able to get specifics so we decided we’d head there on Friday and see what happened.

Friday was a chilly but sunny day and we were excited. When we got to town, the crew was actually working on taking the ornaments off the tree!! That was a bit disappointing but we were so glad that it was still up and partially decorated. As we stood and admired it, we just so happened to run into another Hallmark-fanatic who was there doing the same thing we were. She told us she had come to Newburyport every day this week looking for the filming. Every day, that is, except last night when she later learned they had filmed the scene with the Christmas tree in the Square! We were disappointed for her and for us because we hadn’t known about that filming either and would have LOVED to be a part of it. They needed extras for that scene as well! Ahhh! We commiserated with our new friend a bit, got to know her and felt the instant camaraderie that you feel with a fellow Hallmark-lover. Our new friend was also kind enough to take our picture in front of the tree.


You’ll notice from the pictures that the weather had very accommodatingly provided 11 inches of snowfall earlier that week. No need to spray soap “snow” everywhere for this movie! We had the real deal!

After we took pictures with the tree, we checked with one of the men taking down the ornaments and learned that the movie was taking a couple of days off from filming and would be shooting again on Sunday and Monday. So, we immediately decided that we would be coming back to town one, if not both, of those two days! LOL.

We enjoyed browsing in shops and admiring some more beautiful Christmas decorations in town and took our pictures in front of “McMillen’s” which is the name of the store or restaurant in the movie.


Next to “McMillen’s”, we peeked in the window of what is normally Brine but what isย  “Frank’s Diner” for movie purposes and we saw the adorable decorations and how the place had been transformed into a 1950s-style diner.

We then had an absolutely delicious lunch at Lexie’s. If you are ever in town, you must get a burger and fries (and milkshake!) at Lexie’s. THE BEST! I had the”Green Muenster” burger, my mom had the “Fun Guy” burger and we got the sweet and spicy fries and a vanilla milk shake to share. It was all so unbelievably good. Lexie’s never disappoints – it’s one of our favorites.


Some other Newburyport favorites of ours are “Ireland on the Square” (a little bit of Ireland in Newburyport) and “Best of British”. The lovely lady working at “Best of British” recommended a new type of tea to us and we are so glad we took her recommendation. Glengettie Gold is fantastic! A new favorite.


Fast forward to the following Monday when we headed back to Newburyport, this time with my sister and nephews along for the adventure! It was a warmer day and, surprisingly, the tree was as it was on Friday – partially un-decorated but still in place. There was a section on either side of State Street (the main street running through downtown Newburyport) that had a lot of decorations that hadn’t been there on Friday. Then we spotted the large movie lights and cables. They were filming!!

We chatted with lovely store owners about the movie. My nephew and I took some pictures with the decorations ๐Ÿ™‚



I hope that the way that the crew decorated both the tree and the streets inspires Newburyport to do more decorating than usual for Christmas next year. Newburyport really is the epitome of a Hallmark town and should be decorated as such. Typically they put only lights on the tree – no ornaments – and the streets don’t have much in the way of decorating. But the movie crew put gorgeous, large red, gold and silver ornaments on the tree which looked stunning and the extra decor along State Street was perfect.

I asked some crew members when the filming would begin – SOON! I also asked if they needed extras. The answer was unfortunately, no. But everyone I spoke to associated with this film was really kind and polite.

After another meal at Lexie’s (ha!), we took some pictures from across and down the street from the filming.

We headed home with happy hearts. We got to experience the making of a Hallmark Christmas movie in a small but wonderful way and it was a lovely experience. We can’t wait to see “A Ring for Christmas” when it airs and we’ll have our eyes peeled for our beloved Newburyport locations throughout.

Phase 2 of Sunken Family Room Renovation

A quick update for you of the progress that has been made so far on our sunken family room!

We’ve gotten the three doors replaced, the stairs have been built but not primed yet and the paneling has been primed. It is a really exciting process to watch happen. Stay tuned for further updates and check out the pictures below!


Sunken Family Room Renovation

One of the many things we loved about our new home when we first saw it was the sunken family room off of the kitchen. We saw so much potential in it. However, we knew it would need a lot of work in order to transform it into our dream family room.ย  When we purchased it, it had the look of a hunting lodge/pool hall. Neither of which are our style ๐Ÿ™‚ The pool table came with the house and so that has been promptly removed and we have begun the process of transforming the room into a light, bright, beautiful, cozy haven.

Here are some before pictures to get us started. I will be documenting the rooms progress here in future posts.


This is how the previous owners had the room set up. A pool table/hunting lodge room. In addition to the giant bear skin, there was also a deer head that is not pictured :/ And then they finished it off with the dark, unappealing paneling and doors.


These are the old, un-insulated, quite unattractive doors.ย  Not only did they let in a lot of drafts but they weren’t pretty at all. They are in the process of being replaced!

IMG_5509IMG_5545These were the stairs the room came with. Two stairs of differing heights made of concrete. We believe they were originally stairs leading to the outside of the house as the family room was a later addition. They have been removed and are being replaced with a lovely pine staircase complete with railing!

The whole room will be painted with Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace on the top part of the wall and Benjamin Moore semi-gloss Super White on the paneling and trim.

Stay tuned for the next update!



Painting! with Benjamin Moore

During our long house search, my mom and I often day dreamed and talked about how much fun it would be to paint our new house. And now we are there! LIVING THAT DREAM! The previous owners of our home liked dark colors which are not us at all. We have not been able to wait to start brightening the place up! Moving and unpacking and then emptying storage units and other life stuff delayed us from getting started but now we are! Thankfully the previous owners did paint almost all of the woodwork, paneling and kitchen cabinets white so we don’t have to worry about that (except for what will be our family room which does have some dark paneling we have to tackle. I’ll take you along on that journey as well! That room is going to be TRANSFORMED!).

We went to our favorite local hardware store and got some advice on how best to proceed with the painting of the dark walls. They recommended putting a coat of primer on the walls first because the previous colors are so dark. Then we spent a good amount of time on Saturday morning trying to match the white paint of our kitchen cabinets with a Benjamin Moore paint. We brought a kitchen drawer to the hardware store with us so they could use their magical color matching device. The first time it read a green-hued white which just was not right. The man who worked there (a very nice, informative man named Bob) then further wiped the drawer to try to get a more accurate read. This next time, it picked colors closer to the drawer color but still not right- too much purple and gray this time.

Bob said there are 10,000 shades of white paint available! I’m not sure if that was hyperbole or accurate but there are for sure A LOT to choose from. Benjamin Moore “Super White” was the closest in my eye to our existing white paint. Bob then suggested we take a look at “Chantilly Lace” as it is a very popular white and often people choose between “Super White” and “Chantilly Lace”. Well, we instantly loved “Chantilly Lace”. It had that little bit of warmth that we were looking for without it being too yellow or off-white. We were sold! With Bob’s help we decided on an eggshell finish for the walls in “Chantilly Lace” and one gallon of semi-gloss “Super White” for our kitchen cabinet interiors which the previous owners had not painted.

We left there two very happy campers. The sun was shining, the air was brisk, we had the whole day ahead of us to get started – BLISS!!

Paint journey to be continued…



I’ve baked up quite a bit this week.

  1. I made Christmas blondies for church. They were fantastic chock full of oreos, m&ms and chocolate chips. There weren’t any left at the end of coffee break.
  2. I made sugar cookies with my nephews with the molds that we used when I was a little girl. We then frosted them and added red and green sugars.
  3. I then made “Mischief Munch” with my nephews. It is reportedly one of the Elf on the Shelf’s favorites. It is now one of ours too! Very yummy!IMG_3706
  4. The boys and I made Christmas tree brownies and decorated them. I love these! I made them last year too and they are so much fun!IMG_3716I have plans for a lot more baking this week and next! I’d like to make gingerbread men, candy, peppermint bark and possibly a yule log. I LOVE CHRISTMAS and don’t want it to ever end!!

New House!

We officially got our new house yesterday and it is so exciting! We are busily moving boxes around and working on getting some Christmas decorations up in the new place. We are delaying our actual family Christmas celebration a bit until we are somewhat settled in. Here is our new mantel with a bit of Christmas added! It is all very exciting. 1B789570-8187-40B9-9FFF-0CC4EC89C028I also still have a lot on my Christmas activities list for this year. Some of the things on the list include: getting some fresh greens and wreaths and a second Christmas tree for the new home, finishing up my shopping at the mall – peppermint mocha in hand, driving by and seeing some awe-inspiring lights displays nearby (Christmas lights are one of the things that make me happiest in life :)), going to a carol service…quite a long list actually while also unpacking, organizing, etc.. It’s a lot but it’s a lot of good things!

I will chronicle our move and the painting and decorating that will be taking place in the new house here on the blog. Stay tuned!



“Christmas Pen Pals”

Ok, so this movie wasn’t actually on Hallmark. I have ventured forth into Lifetime Christmas movies a bit this year. “Christmas Pen Pals” was fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it left me with such a warm, happy feeling.

Niall Matter (who all Hallmark fans will recognize from the “Finding Father Christmas” series as well as “When Calls the Heart” and other movies) and Sarah Drew starred in it. They were both so lovable and endearing in this. Sarah portrayed her character, Hannah’s vulnerability and pain so beautifully and Niall likewise did the same with his character. This was my favorite performance of his that I’ve seen. His face was so sweet and loving when he interacted with Hannah and it conveyed so much.

The story revolves around their town bringing back a tradition from the 1940s where people would be paired up with a secret pen pal around the holidays. They would use code names and write to each other in the week’s leading up to Christmas. As this is going on, Hannah and Sam are spending time together again having previously dated for four years in high school and college. There is also the story line of Hannah’s family’s loss of her mom and all of their pain which is portrayed and handled really heartbreaking-ly beautifully.

All of the story lines are weaved together seamlessly. It is a well written, beautifully acted story and I will be saving it on my DVR to watch again!

Moving at Christmas

As we are about a week away from moving, we are in full packing mode as can be seen below. Moving at Christmas is for sure a memory that we will always hold close to our hearts. A time when the dream home entered our lives and even amidst all the busy-ness of this season, the holidays add a special sparkle to the experience.