Our Finished Kitchen!


After months of renovating, our kitchen is finally complete.  And, we are thrilled with the results.  The makeover was definitely worth it!


A few before shots as a reminder of how far we’ve come…

The new view when you walk in to the kitchen

SHL Kitchen After III

And, the previous view…

The new wood-tile floors make the whole room feel more cozy.  By moving the the pantry and refrigerator over a few feet, we created more space to extend the countertops and create a seating area at the island.

SHL Kitchen After VII

Now, we have a bigger pantry, a “built-in” refrigerator, and a mini-bar (the main bar is now in the man cave).  And, room for bar stools at the island.

SHL Kitchen After IX

Our new Formica countertops are low-maintenance, affordable, and complement the new look of the kitchen. And, I love our new backsplash!

SHL Kitchen After XII

We didn’t spend a fortune on this makeover, but it feels like we did!  I’ll share our overall budget soon!

Thanks for stopping by!


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Choosing Flooring – Wood v. Tile

Our decision to move forward with our kitchen was strongly based on our intense dislike of the original vinyl floor.

SHL Kitchen After 4

20 year old vinyl flooring

As much as we knew the floor needed to be replaced, we disagreed about whether to go with wood or tile.  I love the classic, beautiful look of wood, but Tripp liked the practicality and function of tile.  He worried about wood floors in the kitchen and the potential of damage due to the greater likelihood of leaks.  After so many years on St. Thomas, with boring beige 12″x12″ tile floors, I knew I couldn’t go back to traditional tile.  So, we were at a standstill.  I considered wood-grain tile, but I wasn’t impressed with the tiles that I saw.

Until I found a great real wood looking tile at Lowe’s…and it was on clearance!  It has a nice wood-grain look and texture, and the tiles are long planks (48-inches long and 7 inches wide).

I bought a box that day and brought it home with a few wood samples to show Tripp.  He immediately preferred the look of the tile piece, although he initially thought it was wood.

And the hunt was on for clearance tile.  Our local store only had 10 boxes, and we needed ~36 boxes.  So, we drove to 5 different stores within an hour of our home to score a great deal.


Yes – $1.99 square foot versus the original $3.98 square foot!  We even found one Lowe’s store that was selling it for $1.69 square foot, so we bought them out of all 20 boxes they had in stock.  The only downside is that Lowe’s is no longer selling this exact tile; however, they do have a few similar options.



We had the tile laid throughout the entryway, front closet, powder room, mudroom, hall, and kitchen.  I calculated that we we need about 36 boxes of tile, so we purchased 43 boxes to be on the safe side and allow for breakage.  In the end, we had 7 boxes left over (meaning my original calculation was dead on!) and we returned the extra boxes.

I would love to boast that we laid the tile ourselves, but we are just not that talented, handy, or patient.  Our wonderful handman, Jim, is responsible for all the hard work.  And, he did an absolutely wonderful job!


SHL Tile Redo V

Max loves the coolness of tile floor.

It took a lot of time, but we are in love with our new floors.  They are durable, dog-friendly, and gorgeous!  We have receive so many compliments, and most people don’t realize it’s tile until we tell them.


I think it’s quite an improvement over the original vinyl flooring.

SHL Floor After

Stay tuned for more of our kitchen update!

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Life on Lakeshore Drive

Missing Christmas

SHL Baxter Christmas

Poor Baxter is not ready to pack up his Christmas spirit yet.  But, it’s time.  All those needles on the tree skirt are pointing to the end of the holiday season.  So, this weekend we will pack up the ornaments, the stockings, the lights, the garland, etc., and Tripp will start his countdown until next Christmas.

Budget Kitchen Update – Part I

We are nearing the final stretch of our kitchen update, and I am thrilled with the results.  It’s been quite the adventure – over the last several months we have our handyman has reworked our pantry and refrigerator wall, installed beautiful wood-grained tile floor, updated the finish on the kitchen island, and installed new counter tops.  Our final touch will be installing a new back splash.



The original pantry wall

SHL Kitchen After 2

The updated pantry wall

The pantry was awkwardly designed, with the side of the refrigerator being the first thing you encounter then you walk in the kitchen.  I wanted to enclose the refrigerator, pull the pantry out a few inches to be flush with the refrigerator, and push the bar area back to enable us to extend the kitchen island counter top.

Jim, our handyman, started by ripping out the old pantry.  He had to move the refrigerator outlet, the water line for the ice maker, and he added a recessed light to our new pantry (such a luxury).

SHL Kitchen Pantry Redo

The ripped out pantry wall

He then framed and drywalled the new pantry, which is about 4 inches wider and 6 inches deeper than the previous pantry.  That doesn’t seem like a lot more space, but it really feels like it to me.

SHL Kitchen Pantry Redo I

The new pantry location

SHL Kitchen Pantry Redo II

Max approves of the new space

We used the previous cabinet above the refrigerator and framed in the refrigerator.

SHL Kitchen Pantry Redo III

The new design is shaping up.

SHL Kitchen Pantry Redo IV

I am thrilled that the side of the refrigerator is hidden

At one point we discussed having new cabinets made to match our current cabinets, but the current design is more budget friendly.  We opted to go with a bi-fold door for the new pantry, and we are really happy with the result.

SHL Kitchen Pantry Redo VI


We are still determining how we want the bar to be structured, so for now we are using a linen cabinet from Target.  It’s working well so far, but will not be our final piece.

SHL Kitchen Pantry Redo V

Much better!

I hope you like the improvements as much as we do!  Stay tuned to see our new floors!


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Tears in America’s Paradise

SHL Island

In 2008, I met my husband, Tripp, while visiting a friend who lived on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.  The short story is, we fell in love, and I moved to the island a few months after meeting him.  At the time, it made sense.  I loved my life in Orange County, CA, but I was willing and ready for a change.  In hindsight, it was insane.  I left a good job, fantastic girlfriends, and a condo that I loved (and had finally nearly finished updating and decorating).  But, it was definitely an adventure, and it has become an important part of our story.

Tripp and I spent the first 7 years of life together on St. Thomas, a 32-square mile island in the Caribbean.  St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Water Island, and a number of smaller cays, make up the US Virgin Islands.  These islands, surrounded by turquoise blue water, are known as “America’s Paradise”.  It even says so on the license plate.  They are a major cruise ship and tourist destination.  As a US territory, Virgin Islanders, just like their commonwealth neighbors in Puerto Rico, are US citizens.  Americans.

On September 6, 2017, St. Thomas was hit by Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane that had already demolished Barbuda, St. Martin, and Anguilla.  Irma tore roofs off homes, uprooted trees, tore the siding off buildings, destroyed roads, condemned the hospital, and left many people without safe water, food, and shelter.  St. John and the British Virgin Islands were also leveled by Irma.  Then, two weeks later, Hurricane Maria, another category 5 hurricane, destroyed Dominica, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico while causing additional damage and flooding to the islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma.

The situation in the USVI, Puerto Rico, and the BVI is dire.  So many people, including over 3 million Americans, are without water, food, and shelter.  Relief efforts have begun, and there are stories of amazing people doing amazing things.  Organizations like Island Dog Rescue, that sent a large plane to fly all the dogs and cats from the St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix animal shelters to Virginia Beach, VA, where they were delivered to the safety of local animal rescues (how awesome are they?).  Tim Duncan, a St. Croix native, has been actively involved in collecting and distributing donations.  Congresswoman Stacy Plaskett was instrumental in setting up Fund for the Virgin Islands through the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.  The islands are in desperate need of any help you can provide, whether monetary or supplies.

Want to help? 

USVI Recovery 

Island Dog Rescue 

Adopt a Family in the USVI

There are just a few ideas for donations.  Check your local community for ways that you can help as well.  Thank you!



Pretty No-Sew Utility Skirt

After years of tiny, awkward, flooded, mosquito-filled laundry rooms on the island, I am super grateful for our large, very efficient, dry, pest-free laundry room.  Our washer and dryer both work, there is a counter top for folding, lower cabinets for storage, a rod for hanging clothes to dry, space for a drying rack, and a utility sink.  I found some great gently used upper cabinets to paint and hang above the water and dryer, which are in the process of being refinished, but, in the meantime, I wanted to make the utility sink a little prettier by adding a skirt.


I found this great shower curtain on clearance at the HomeGoods near my office.

SHL Skirt curtain


It compliments my inspiration piece for the laundry room, was ~$5, and the fabric is relatively heavy.  I started by measuring the utility sink for 2 panels, one along the front, and one along the right side.  Then, I spread the curtain on our table, marked the measurements, and cut the fabric.

I had fusing tape on hand to use instead of sewing the seams.  I folded each seam in place and ironed it in place before inserting the fusing tape and ironing it in place.

Then, I added a strip of sticky-back velcro along the top of the cleaned utility sink, and the matching strip along the top edge of the newly fused skirt.

And, voila!

SHL Skirt After 1

Hope you enjoy!  I look forward to sharing the completed laundry room soon.

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A Stroll Thru Life

i should be mopping the floor


Dining Room Update

Our dining room was originally chocolate brown with a sharp white chair rail.  It was a beautiful paint job, very clean and classic.

I knew I wanted to eventually paint the area under the chair rail white with gray above, but with so many other rooms needing attention, it was not a priority project.  Then, I found the canvas cow that reminded me of our time on St. Thomas, and the room started to get more attention.

SHL Dining Before Cow

And, then, we found our dining room table on clearance at Macy’s.

SHL Dining Room before table

With the dark furniture, the room felt so dark and enclosed, and I knew it was time to lighten it up.

First, I taped the chair rail, baseboard, and molding around the windows.  Since I was going with lighter paint colors, I primed both sections of the wall.  I used the left over white primer from the kitchen for the lower section, and the leftover gray primer from Tripp’s office for the upper section.

Even with just primer, the room felt more open and spacious.


SHL dining room after

This is the best after picture that I currently have on file.  Still a work in progress, but at least I can see progress being made.

I think the Before and After with the cow best reflect the change.



Guest Bath Update

Nearly every room in our house is a work-in-progress, and our guest bathroom is no exception.  Although it is still in need of further updating, I think we have improved the overall look of the bathroom by simply removing the wallpaper, painting, and adding a simple shower curtain.

At some point in home interior design history, this bathroom was a real work of art.

SHL Guest Bath Before

Yes, it’s true; the wallpaper border and the shower curtain match.  I had no idea that they actually matched shower curtains and borders.  And, in case you can’t see it in the above picture, the walls have a special “faux finish”, which I have affectionately referred to as bologna splatters against the wall.

SHL Guest Bath Before 1

My goal with this project was to remove the wallpaper border, freshen up the paint to remove the bologna splatters, and change out the shower curtain.  The vanity, counter top, and flooring are part of the “work-in-progress” features of this bathroom, but it was important to me that our guests not feel like they were in a mid-90’s time warp when visiting us.

The first step was removing the border and the 90’s light fixture.  I was surprised that the adhesive on the border was in better condition than our powder room, so it took a bit longer than I anticipated to spray and scrape off all the border and adhesive.

Once the border and light fixture were removed, I painted 2 coats of Sherwin-Williams’ Agreeable Gray. 

And, here is the initial simple update on our guest bathroom.

SHL Guest Bath almost after

Pardon the poor lighting.  It isn’t a fancy, spa-like bathroom at this point, but it is a clean and simple update.


Easy Spring Wreath

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for Spring!  Our daffodils are starting to sprout up and there are buds on our trees.  And, even though the Ohio weather doesn’t seem to appreciate the fact that it is now Spring, I decided to deck our front door out in a new Spring wreath.

SHL Spring Wreath 1

I found all my supplies at our local Michaels store.  I had a 40% off coupon, and Spring faux flowers were 50%-60% off.  I bought a grapevine wreath, one bunch of dahlias, a roll of ribbon, and a “T” letter (for our last name).

I wrapped the ribbon around the wreath, and tucked the ends into the wreath.  The great thing about grapevine wreaths is that you don’t need to use a lot of hot glue because you can tuck and wrap everything through and around the vines.  Then, I used my wire cutters to cut the flowers from the bunch, leaving about a 4-inch  stem to wrap around the back of the wreath.

SHL Spring Wreath 2

After the flowers were attached, I determined where to place the “T” and plugged in my hot glue gun.  I dabbed a bit of glue to the back of the “T” and also on a few leaves to pop in for greenery.

SHL Spring Wreath 3

Voila!  Easy Spring wreath!

SHL Spring Wreath

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