home tour

Christmas Home Tour 2017

There is no time I love to decorate our home more than at Christmas.  My mom was the master decorator and the Queen of Christmas, so growing up, our home was always magical at Christmas.  I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to dress up my home for Christmas and love doing it every year EVEN if it looks like I puked totes before I finish.  Anyone else?

I have shared before one of my “would like to haves” was a 2 story entry so I could decorate it just like my mom did when I was a child!  I am so thankful for the opportunity to do that.  So, come on in and let me show you around.   If you want a peak into our home last year, click here.

I have always wanted to have wreaths on each of the windows.  Every year I add a little something to our outdoor decor.  This year, I added battery operated lights to the wreaths on the 2 little window wreaths.  I am thinking next year I might add one more bush into the lights and some more battery powered lights for the garage wreaths.

My mom taught me how to make a wreath, the bow and add “picks” (those things in the bins at Michael’s with a stick on the end).  Every year, I fix and fluff the wreaths.  It’s a hot glue project so I can totally handle it.  If you have ever wanted to make your own bow, Youtube offers great tutorials!

The sled is actually my grandparents’ sled they gifted me and my dad used it when he was a little boy.    My mom handed down the door garland to me and gifted us the little snowman on the porch.

Like I said, I love decorating our staircase with garland.  I actually put two lit garland strands together to make it more substantial and then use zip ties to secure it to the staircase.  Every morning, I turn it on and it truly makes me so happy!

I am always curious how other people decorate.  Do you take down your normal decor to replace it with Christmas decor? Do you add in?  I do a little bit of both.  I took down about one tote’s worth of decor, mostly fake plants to add in some Christmas decor with my other existing items.  I love having some holiday decor in my office to add to my shelves.

There is nothing I love more than sitting in our family room and watching TV by the glow of our fireplace garland (handed down to me by my mom) and Christmas tree.

I store the kids seasonal toys on one of the bookshelves.  The little people nativity, indoor snowballs and all sorts of Santa hats and other little toys.

Growing up, both Scott and I received ornaments every year.  My mom carries on the tradition with my kids and gets them each a gift based on their interests for that year.  This year Solon got a Seattle Seahawk helmet, Vera got a zebra and Lucy got Poppy the troll.  She also gifted us with a very meaningful ornament this year (more on that another time).  
The kids love putting on their ornaments.  We also get an ornament from the places we have traveled so its fun to reminisce about the different memories we have made as a family.  This year we added a Seattle ornament to our tree.
Growing up we always had these candle nativities that went round and round.  We have 3 but I just got out two this year, little hands love to play with them, so we enjoy looking at them on a shelf during this season of life.  We do light them on occasion too.

 My mom gifted me this nativity when we first got married.  It has stood the test of time with little hands moving the different characters around.  This year she gifted us the angel (it’s not Willow Tree) to add to our set.

We love getting Christmas cards and this year, we decided to try something new and affix them to our pantry door.  We love looking at them all season long.  Then at the end of the season, we pop a hole in the corner, string them on to a ring  and place them in a basket to enjoy all year long.

I like to add a few seasonal touches to our bathrooms, bedrooms and mudroom.  I cannot get enough greenery this time of year.

My mom is a needlepoint artist so she gifted us a couple of pieces as well as a few pillows that we display lovingly.

Our backdoor is where we keep our 25 days of activities advent.  The kids love coming to peek inside to see what our little activity is everyday.  If you are on my email list, then you got my free printable. If you would like it, just sign up for my email subscription (here).

I love turning on the greenery at night in our bedroom and just enjoy the twinkling lights as I relax before bed.

The kids each have a little tree in their rooms and this year I put all the Christmas books in Lucy’s room in a basket.  It seems we do most of our reading upstairs and Lucy does twice the amount of reading since we do it before nap and bedtime.  Our books are getting more use being upstairs this year.  
So there you have it, a peak into our home this year.  I am so thankful for the roof over my head and the opportunity to dress it up for the season.  We love inviting people into our home and enjoying the wonder of the season together.  Merry Christmas!



PS — If you are looking for all the Christmas movies and shows on TV, this website has all the listings!  Bookmark for all those cozy family movie nights in!  I also created this little graphic too!

Until next time, keep on keeping on with an intentional, joyful, faith-filled life.  #tribekoko
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Linking up with Andrea for her Show & Tell Tuesday – head over to see more homes all decked out for the holidays!

Renovated Century Old Home Tour

I am back with another installment of Welcome Home: Come On In.  I love to do these posts and introduce you to women who are creating beautiful homes for their families.  I hope this post inspires you to look at your own home and see the beauty and potential it has!

photo courtesy of Salt & Light Photography

Let me introduce you to my darling and insanely talented friend, Judie.  Her husband was the pastor at our church when we first started attending back in 2005.  Both John and Judie spoke right to our hearts and shepherded us for several years before and after our salvation in Christ from the pulpit, to visits in our home to bible studies and everything in between.  John was serving a short-term mission in Africa when he died suddenly.

Shortly after, Judie sold their home they shared together and found this house.  It was a foreclosure, with broken windows, sky high weeds, and even a dead cat in the basement.  When others would run for the hills, she saw potential.

Isn’t that just like the analogy of Christ, in our wretchedness, He saw potential in each of us! I hope you find inspiration in how Judie transformed this house into a home. 

For over a year, she worked with so many people to renovate a house and make it her home.  You will not believe the transformation.  Her son Jon (pictured above) was the general contractor behind the project but she says every time she looks at items in her home, from the windows to the bannisters, she sees the people who poured their heart into this project.  

Let’s take a look at her transformation as Judie answers some questions about her home, shall we?

Exterior Before

Exterior After complete with a happy pale pink door
photo courtesy of Salt & Light Photography

Do you know any history about your home?  

It was built in 1917. So happy birthday this year! It was built by Mr. Ankeny but he built it to rent to the railroad workers, he never lived in Ankeny.  The original train depot is across the street. 


What features do you love about your home? 

There is a quaintness that can only be found in older homes.  It has sloped eaves in the bedroom which make it so cozy.  There is shiplap on the kitchen wall which used to be the exterior wall of the home.  One of my favorite features is the enclosed front porch which i have made into a “sleeping porch” – not much sleeping happens but its a wonderful place to curl up with a good book and watch the world go by!  The hardwood floors are original – so beautiful and easy to maintain.


Sleeping Porch Before
Sleeping porch after

Looking back at the entry door from the day bed
Before — looking into the front entry and family room from the dining area

Family room after

Family room after looking out the front window

Family room after looking into the dining area
How does your home work for you family?  

I have a large fenced in backyard which is great for the grandkids.  I entertain a lot and have bible studies in my home and can easily seat 16 people in the dining room!  The house seems small from the outside but in taking down walls it is very open concept and ideal for groups.


Dining area looking into kitchen on the left and bathroom on the right
Dining area after looking out onto the sleeping porch

Dining area after looking onto the kitchen

kitchen after

kitchen after
kitchen after

breakfast nook off the kitchen after
main floor full bathroom before

main floor powder room after


What are small indulgences you have around your home? 

Some of the lighting fixtures are vintage and were purchased for less than $5.00 and refurbished.  I purchased English wallpaper in the powder room (seen above) from Ebay.  I love cutting flowers from the gardens and having small arrangements in the rooms.   


Stairs and guest bedroom before

stairs after

guest bedroom after

Upstairs under construction to form a bedroom, bathroom, laundry and office nook

Upstairs looking onto office nook and bathroom/laundry area

master bedroom after

office nook 

master bathroom with laundry adjacent off to the right
master bedroom from the bathroom


How does your family influence how you outfit your home? 


Since I am a single woman i have some freedom in how I decorate!  Lots of pinks! 


How has your home changed since you purchased it? 

Completely renovated.  The house was empty for a year prior and was in pretty bad shape. Every piece of trim, doors, and some walls were torn out.  The entire kitchen and bathroom were demolished.  An upstairs bedroom was renovated into a bathroom and laundry room.  On the exterior there is new siding and a new roof.

Where do you shop for your home? 

Overstock, TJ Maxx, IKEA.  The kitchen cabinets are all from Ikea.  The chandelier in the dining room was from Overstock.  I repurposed a little table for the bathroom vanity.  My son found the lamp in my office at a project he was working on and thought I would love it, I did! 


Where do you find home inspiration? 


My oldest son had a vision for the home and acted as general contractor and he incorporated so many unique features.  My good friend, Laura, (her house is featured here) helped design the kitchen and bathroom and her creativity inspires me. My daughter-in-laws gave ideas and I gleaned from Pinterest also!

Why do you love calling this place your home?  

When my husband passed away, I was devastated.  My whole world changed and I had to sell the home we lived in for 10 years.  This home was an answer to prayer – an ugly duckling that was transformed!  My family, my friends and my church came together to make a house a home.  One of my favorite things about the home is that my friends and family wrote scripture verses on the beams and floor boards before the drywall was installed.  Another plus is that i am just steps away from the bike path, uptown shops, and the farmer’s market.  In England many people name their homes so I named mine “Callington Cottage” after the town in which I was born. 
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I am so inspired by all the work Judie and her friends and family did to make this forgotten house a beautiful sanctuary and home.  What was your favorite spot?  What did you think?  I hope it left you inspired as well.  Her home has been featured in both local and national magazines, so don’t be surprised if you see it the next time you are flipping through ;).
For more of the Welcome Home Series, Check out these —
Until next time, keep on keeping on!  #tribekoko
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Linking up with My Glittery Heart for Oh Hey Monday and BYBMG and Erika for Tuesday Talk

Renovated Home Tour



Welcome back to my 2nd Welcome Home: Come On In series.  You can find the first one here.  I am so excited to introduce you to my friend Laura and her family.  Her home is delightful but not only that, her husband and her have redone their home from top to bottom on a budget, mostly DIYing by her very handy husband.  Laura stays home with her 2 children, soon to be 3 in August!  She is a dear friend and just an insanely talented but humble person. 




Here are a few before pictures to help you appreciate all they have done…



Family Room Before

Kitchen Before

Bathroom Before

  Now enough of my jabbering…here’s Laura and her sweet dog.  I’ll let her take it from here, enjoy!






Who calls this house home and how long have you lived there?


My husband Jared and I live here with our two kids, Izzy (4) and Rex (2) and we are welcoming a baby girl in August! We also have a dog, Zoey. We bought the house in March of 2009. Jared moved in and I joined him two months later after we got married! 

Her husband built this desk and the console table in the family room by hand…



Why did you choose your home?

Our home was a foreclosure and my father in law actually found it on Craigslist. We chose it because of the location, the charm, the yard, the price, there was a shop for my husband and really it was just perfect for us. My husband works in construction, so it was very doable for us to fix up the house. It was in really bad shape when we got it. There were several offers on the house by the time we found it and the bank was in the last stages of choosing a buyer so we didn’t think we even had a chance. We offered higher than the asking price and because we were actually going to live in the house and not flip it the bank accepted our offer. To us it was a miracle and an act of God, a true answer to prayer.





What do you love about your home?

After 9 years I still love many things about this house. I love the cape cod style. Dormers add so much character inside and out. I love that it has lots of big windows and is very bright. It also has a fairly large yard with mature trees which we love. Our backyard is pretty private which has been a big plus. We spend a lot of time out there. I also love that we have been able to make it our own since we have remodeled almost the entire house. It has been so fun for me to pick things out and design each and every room. It’s really how I started discovering my love for homes and design. And we live on a street with many retired folks and widows and they are the sweetest most wonderful neighbors! 


How does your home work for your family?

Since we only have 1200 square feet of livable space we have had to make our home work for our family. We have gotten very creative about extra storage, organization, furniture placement, etc. For instance we put our desk in our living room since there was nowhere else to put it! We actually really like having it in the living room. And just recently we added a recessed wall cabinet in our upstairs hallway to put linens and bathroom supplies. Right now, things are working fine for us but it’s about to get even better since we are finishing the basement. 🙂 I do have to admit that recently our house has started to seem smaller as our family, possessions and visions grow bigger. We often discuss whether or not we add on, or move some day. It would be a long time from now, so for now we are making it work and how we do that is a conversation we have to have a lot. We have to be very picky about what we allow in to our house, we clean out A LOT, and have adopted the less is more strategy. I also remind myself of how cozy it can feel and that I already struggle to keep this small house clean, so those things help me stay content. 

Dining area…

Command center by the front door in the kitchen/dining area…



How do your kids influence how you outfit your home?

Having kids in the home has influenced just about every decision we have made for our home in the past 4 years. 🙂 And the dog before that! We have dark furniture because to me it is more important to have furniture that appears clean and requires little maintenance than to have light furniture, which honestly I would prefer. We have acquired several bins and baskets and they’re everywhere! Under the couch, beds, in closets and cabinets! I don’t have things that can break easily anywhere near the floor. I learned that lesson the hard way. We keep play doh in our powder room cabinet, puzzles in one of our desk drawers and colors and coloring books in one of the cabinets in our kitchen. 🙂 It’s very possible to have a kid friendly house without having kid things out everywhere all the time. I just aim to have a place for everything so it can be put away. I am really looking forward to having a play room in the basement once it’s finished. And we are planning to add 3 closets down there. I do want to say that not everything is polished and picture worthy over here all the time and I don’t expect it to be. That is really not a realistic expectation when you have kids! But it is nice to be able to pick up at the end of the day or during naps and have a defined place for everything. I also find that I’m able to relax more and feel less stress when there is less clutter!


Their daughter’s room…that bed was a $60 CraigsList find that they refurbished.

Laura’s husband built this kitchen for their daughter…

How has your home changed since you moved in?

It has changed so much! We have removed and moved walls, we have painted every surface and replaced almost everything since there was so much damage when we moved in. Doors had holes in them, the ceiling was falling down in one bedroom, faucets and pipes were dripping, drains didn’t drain, lights didn’t work, the roof leaked, the basement flooded. It was a huge mess. I really have to give my husband credit here for being so knowledgeable about these things. We couldn’t have bought this house if it weren’t for him. We’ve also added a lot. Window seats, the portico on the front of the house, the built ins our master closet, wall sconces (I can’t get enough!), and outdoor lighting.


Love that ceiling detail…

What are small indulgences you love around your home?

I love our upstairs bathroom. Although those weren’t small indulgences haha. This was my dream bathroom. Jared built the vanity and upright cabinet. He added the medicine cabinet in the wall. We got carrara marble countertops and subway tiles for the shower. It’s my favorite room. I also love the master closet. Jared built the cabinets, drawers, cubbies, window seat and cabinets by hand. It’s just really extravagant to me! I even get to display my shoes. It’s definitely indulgent. 🙂 As for small things I do, I love to change my decor seasonally. I have pillow covers, wall hangings and prints, throws and other things that I change out just for fun!


Their son’s room…

Look at that fun blue bead board ceiling…


Where do you shop for your home?

My favorite store of all time is Pottery Barn. I have loved it for the longest time. It is pricey. The way I afford things there is by shopping sales, using coupons, or waiting for my birthday or Christmas. I have had their store credit card for a long time and although I hesitate to encourage credit card use they send me awesome coupons (like $25 off $50) a few times a year. So I rarely buy things at full price and have managed to accumulate many things from their store! I also shop at Marshall’s (Des Moines’ hidden gem of home items), Homegoods, World Market, Anthropologie, Hobby Lobby, Ikea, H&M Home (online) and Target of course.  You can find items very similar to Pottery Barn items at Marshall’s and Target. And if you like Anthropologie, World Market is a great lower price option to get that style. 




Where do you find home inspiration?

I am always looking for inspiration for my house. I have even found myself noting things from some of the homes in the cartoons I’m watching with my kids haha. There are movies that stick with me for a long time because they had neat houses. Is anyone else like that? But mostly I find inspiration from catalogs, magazines, Pinterest, blogs and probably the very most from other designers on Instagram. There are so many amazing feeds out there and I have had the most fun following along and getting ideas from other people. I also love to drive around certain areas in Des Moines and just look at the houses. My favorite is the amazing homes you’ll find south of Grand. 


Their master closet…seperated by those sweet glass french doors.

A way to hold jewelry in the closet…



What are you still on the hunt for for your home?

My tastes change often unfortunately, so I am frequently hunting around for things and then usually not buying them and waiting until a birthday, Christmas or Anniversary. 🙂 Lately I’ve had my eye out for a new desk chair, a bigger rug for our bedroom and garage doors! Which we plan to replace this fall, hopefully. I am looking for a carriage house style door. 




A sweet retreat for their kids made by their dad…

What’s still on your home to do list?

This list seems to be never ending! Even though we have already done so much it is hard for me to not keep dreaming and envisioning and coming up with new ideas for our home all the time. I am constantly drawing things out that come to my mind. My husband often comes home to sketches and photoshop mock ups. I really have to battle this day to day and seek contentment. We have so much really. Fortunately, having two busy kids to chase is a good distraction most days! 

But anyway here is a short list :). We are currently finishing our basement (which will include a family room, play room, laundry room and bathroom). Next up will be new garage doors. Down the road we would like to add a “bump out” breakfast nook to our kitchen, a new deck and patio, built ins and stone around our fireplace, can lights in the living room, built in storage in the master, replacing all our windows on the main floor (second floor is already done phew!), refinishing all the original hardwood floors and extending them into the kitchen and I really want to add ceiling beams to the living room.  That’s a short list ;). 

 It could all change in an instant depending on life and if it doesn’t all get done, it will be okay.  If it takes years that’s fine too. I am just so happy to have such a cute roof over our heads and wonderful people in it and try to remember how far we have really come with this home. Since I became a stay at home mom 4and 1/2 years ago, we have gone at a much slower pace and yet things still get done. God provides and the patience literally pays off as we have never had to take out a loan!



Erin here —  Now you know why I love Laura so much.  Not only does she make beautiful, cozy spaces but she is just a delightful person, tremendous mother and wife, loves the Lord and a great friend.  Did I mention her amazing voice?  


Please get in touch with Laura about her design services, you can also find her on Instagram.  Her feed is beautiful!  You can find Jared’s construction business on Facebook.  They would be delighted to work with you and as you can see, they do phenomenal work.   


Thanks to Laura and Jared and their sweet, growing family for letting us take a look around.  Leave a note to tell them what you loved!  If you have any home needs, don’t forget to contact them! 


Until next time keep on smiling and keep on keeping on!

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