Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals. I'm a recovering former vegan and vegetarian, now healing with a nutrient-dense mostly Paleo diet, and love at-home CrossFit and yoga workouts. I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

New mom to baby Otto born April 2018!


DIY custom straight-sided vent hood with Zephyr insert

This is the LAST tutorial of our kitchen reno!! We've done the whole project ourselves so there are lots of DIYs to share with you, but this one was a brand new skill for us and I admit I was a little nervous before starting--but it turned out to be one of the most straightforward projects!

We wanted a modern, sleek, straight-sided built-in vent hood over our range, with an attractive insert visible underneath (as opposed to an independent, up-the-wall stainless steel vent hood like at our last house OR one that looked like part of the cabinets). After collecting lots of inspirations and ideas, we built this hood cover from scratch and used a high-end but affordable insert from Zephyr!

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How to add character to a cookie-cutter house!

I LOVE this topic! There are so many 80's, 90's, and 2000's builder-basic homes around me (I've owned/lived in two of them, even) and I love helping my friends with ideas to personalize theirs. Cookie-cutter, basic homes need more than just decor to feel like home. You need out-of-the-box thinking on updates (but you also have more opportunity to go with your favorite style!).

Both Ashley and I have lived in brand-new builder basic, cookie-cutter homes (like my first home) (and I has also lived in this dated, dingy 90's one). This week on the Your Home Story Podcast we talk about ways to take these homes beyond decor and make them feel unique and fitting to your personal style! You’ll hear tons of ideas in this episode, ranging from easy DIYs to projects to plan ahead for.
Image source--you HAVE to click/swipe and see the before!

Resources & inspirations mentioned:

  1. What is a cookie cutter house?
  2. My painted doors and trim
  3. Adding trim to make plain doors look paneled
  4. My latest spray painted light fixture
  5. How to spray paint a brass fireplace screen
  6. Blesser House shares some great ways to add charm to a cookie cutter home.
  7. Picture frame molding idea.
  8. My faux wood beam installation
  9. Amazing before/after of fireplace area/built-ins
  10. How to add interest to the exterior of your cookie cutter home.
  11. Houzz article on how to customize a cookie-cutter house.
  12. Blesser House has some really great before and after’s
  13. Apartment Therapy post on exterior updates to make your house less cookie cutter.
  14. The Lettered Cottage’s tips for adding character.

You can find us on our blogs or connect with each of us on Instagram:

And you can join our Facebook group here to connect with other listeners and ask questions!

You can listen here or in your podcast player!
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This fixer upper's 1-year anniversary: progress so far

IT HAS BEEN A KILLER YEAR. So much has happened since the beginning of last summer, it's been almost too much to handle! But now I think we're pretty much on the other side of a lot of the stress and hard work... well, some of it.

It is really satisfying to look back at the "before" pics of this house and compare how far we've come.

We moved into this house ONE year ago. We got the keys 7/2/18 and spent the next two weeks emptying trash/donations, cleaning, and painting as much as we possibly could. (Here's our first month progress and 2018 recap.)

Then we've done a ton of larger projects over the past 12 months and here we are!
Here's the full before photos post... (yikes). So, what have we changed??

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How to save $4k on appliances for a full kitchen reno with Sears Outlet!

While the first goal of our kitchen renovation was updating everything to a style we like, we also had to choose function-heavy pieces like new appliances. Appliances are not cheap, no matter where you get them, and our budget for this project was on the very low end of kitchen renos!

The cheapest appliances are usually not the most attractive (and the prettiest ones are crazy expensive). But I really didn't want to replace our fridge and range with plastic-ey, modern-looking, builder special stainless steel ones. We also wanted special features--panel-ready dishwasher, slide-in range (not freestanding), and counter depth fridge!

So I looked around for scratch-and-dent appliance places near me. In that search I found Sears Outlet. They sell brand new appliances at the lowest prices you'll find in-store or online--floor models, lightly scratched pieces, last season's models, overstocks... they have huge selection and all the same brands you see elsewhere.

I did the math... buying scratch-and-dent appliances like the ones we chose can save you about $4k!!! These are not builder basic appliances, either--like, we got the most beautiful KitchenAid range from Sears Outlet. Check out the price comparison and my favorite stylish appliance options for our modern traditional full kitchen reno!

Thanks to Sears Outlet for providing our range in exchange for this post! You can shop Sears Outlet online or at a store near you!

Remember you can also check out other posts on this DIY kitchen reno:

Affordable, traditional-look appliances

You can see the kitchen design elements below... I decided the straight-lined, chunky handles on KitchenAid appliances would be best for our traditional-leaning kitchen. Handle style is so important with appliances! Metal color, too; some brands' stainless steel is more on the blue-grey side, whereas I liked the warmer tone of the KitchenAid metal.

The first appliance we chose was the new range. We weren't switching to a gas range, but I wanted a slide-in (that is, controls on the top front rather than standing up 8" or so at the back). Slide-in ranges are never cheap. Even the lowest price one out there is close to $1,000 (and it's not cute). But it was really worth it to me to have that sleek look of countertop all the way across the range wall (plus it's easier to keep clean). I found the perfect KitchenAid glass top slide-in range, with extra features like a back venting option and non-stinky self-cleaning.

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Novice DIYers' take on a full bathroom reno! Interview

Remember that 6-week full bathroom reno I shared a couple months back? That gorgeous space belongs to my friends, Gabriela and Matt, who were brand new to this kind of DIY effort when I guided them through that one. Well, they're sharing some lessons learned today!

Can you tackle a complete bathroom reno as a new DIYer? What challenges might come up? How do you get the tools to actually complete the job?

Today on the Your Home Story podcast, we interview my friends, "novice DIYers," about their recently completed mid-century modern inspired bathroom makeover. Hear their tips for staying on track, actually doing the work and what they plan on doing next time to make their project go even smoother.

We chatted about:

YouTube videos that our first-timers loved:

You can find us on our blogs or connect with each of us on Instagram:

And you can join our Facebook group here to connect with other listeners and ask questions!

Listen here or in your podcast player!
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DIY, budget-friendly floating-look open shelves!

I knew I wanted to include open shelves in our kitchen because I loved them so much at our last house! We did very simple DIY wood + metal bracket open shelves at our last house, and installed them over tile. It was a DIY success, but they were never that exciting looking.

For this kitchen (lots of white, more elegant, less boho than our last) we wanted more presence to our open shelves. Thicker, stained wood. I looked into floating shelves, but because of our stud locations, we weren't confident we could make any of the premade brackets work. Plus, the chunkier floating wood shelves available now are sometimes $200/shelf! We needed 3, custom length at about 27".

But, because of where the backsplash tile ended, it would have been awkward to use traditional brackets. Instead, we put together some beautiful shelves that have a floating look (from some angles!), have more thickness than a plain board cut to length, and are the perfect rich color for our kitchen!

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