house & home

Foyer Lighting Options

One nice thing about Squirrel Estate is the 2-story foyer.  Throughout the house, we have 8-ft ceilings, but it really doesn’t feel like it because the foyer lets in so much light and it feels so much more open and airy.

Our current foyer chandelier situation isn’t ideal.  It’s not horrible, but very dated and screams the ’90s to me.  It’s a brass octagonal chandelier and the bulbs are encased in glass panels.  For me, it just doesn’t look super inviting, and the dust inevitably makes the glass look cloudy.  I want a foyer light that looks open, inviting, and provides a good introduction to our home.


We’re probably getting an electrician to come out next month to work on a couple electrical projects, so I need to start narrowing down my foyer light options.  Here are the Top 10 contenders for our future foyer, in no particular order:

  1. Hadley Pendant Chandelier ($299.25 $399.00)

Hadley 4-Light Pendant Chandelier

2. Circles Sphere Pendant Light ($209)

Circles Sphere Pendant Light - Large gold

3. Sculptural Glass Geo Chandelier  ($288.75 $385.00)

Sculptural Glass 3-Light Geo Chandelier - Milk

4. Spheres + Stem Chandelier ($524.25 $699.00)

Sphere + Stem 9-Light Chandelier - Milk

5. Varlene Globe Chandelier ($139.99 $189.00)

Verlene Foyer 5-Light Globe Chandelier

6. Drubin Candle Style Wagon Wheel Chandelier ($309.99 $750.00)

Drubin 10-Light Candle Style Wagon Wheel Chandelier

7. Branch Chandelier ($429)

Branch Chandelier

8. Floral Burst Chandelier ($374.25 $499)

Floral Burst Chandelier

9. Collina Pendant ($260.99 $473.10)

Collina 24

10. Wooden Pendant Light ($194.59)

Sacred shape lamp  universe  pendant lamp  light fixture  image 0

I’ve chosen a wide range of chandeliers – some really classic and I don’t think it will go out of style anytime soon.  Some are a little bit more avant-garde, and I might not like it in 20 years.  And some are just pure fun, which I think represents my personality really well.

Which one will I end up picking?  Find out next month!

house & home

First Look at Squirrel Estate

If you’re new here, hi!  A little summary of our house adventures:  in August 2017, my husband and I bought our first house, a duplex in the northwest section of Philadelphia.  We currently live there and are hoping to move out by the end of the year.  We’ll likely rent it out to longterm tenants, but we’re also toying with the idea of turning it into an Airbnb (since we plan on renting it out furnished), that way it can also serve as a pied-à-terre for us.

In August of this year, we bought a house in Montgomery County.  If you aren’t around the Philadelphia-area, Montgomery County is basically the county to the northwest of the city, and it’s mostly comprised of small, suburban towns.  The main reason we’re moving is because of Ian’s commute.  Although our current house is only around 15 miles to his work, it can take up to 90 minutes to drive one-way (darn you I-76!).  Our new house is 1 mile away from his work, and it shortens his commute to 5 minutes.  Hooray!

This new house is also huge (to us, anyway).  Our Philadelphia home is around 1,200 sq ft (1,500 if you include the finished basement), and it is more than enough room for the two of us and our large dog.  The new house is 2,000 sq ft (2,600 sq ft including the basement), and it’s gargantuan.  We lovingly named our old house Squirrel House, because we lived on a street that had a nature-themed name and we had a lot of squirrels running around.  Our new house is situated on the edge of a forest, so we also have lots of squirrels.  Hence, we decided to name the new place Squirrel Estate.  I know, I know, our house is probably not big enough to be considered an estate.  But it feels like one to us!

We feel very lucky because the last owner (also the only owner) took really good care of the house.  It truly has good bones and he took care of all the important stuff you don’t notice first (new furnace, water heater, windows, roof).  The last owner was a single guy who lived in the house for 20 years by himself.  So it makes total sense why he didn’t feel the need to update anything aesthetic.  As long as it worked for him, why did it matter?  It’s interesting, some rooms feel like it’s frozen in the 90s, in mint condition.

Anyway, it’s been 3 months since we got the keys to Squirrel Estate, and we’ve been slowly and painstakingly transforming it to a house that we can call home.  It’s not easy since we both work, so the majority of the renovations are done on weekends.  By the time we move in, we won’t be anywhere close to being done either, but hopefully, the house won’t be in complete disarray.  We estimate it’ll probably take us anywhere from 3-5 years to get this house to a point where we’ve put some DIY touches on everything.  Without further ado, here’s the first look of Squirrel Estate (apologies in advance for dog photobomb).



One thing we really don’t like about the first floor is that it has 3 types of flooring.  Hardwood in the entry/coat closet (door to the left), carpet in the living area, and ceramic tile in the powder room (door to the right) and kitchen.  These transitions make the overall house feel smaller than it actually is.  The plan is to make this entryway, coat closet, and powder room all the same flooring (we chose a porcelain tile, more on that in another post), and the rest of the house will be one flooring.  Additionally, the entire first floor was painted a peachy color, which did it no favors at all.  I painted it a really pretty soft white that brightens up the entire space.  I also plan on giving the door some TLC with a sleek black color.

powder room



The powder room wasn’t bad, it’s just extremely dated.  This house was built in 1998, and everything just feels very 90’s.  Since we’re re-doing the floors of the entire first floor, this powder room will get new floors, new vanity, new toilet, new mirror, new lighting.  It’ll have the same layout but will feel like a totally different room.

living room/formal dining room

One of the reasons we were so drawn to his house was the open-concept of the living room/formal dining room.  We plan on making this my future piano studio space, leaving it pretty empty so we can easily set chairs up for recitals and baby & me classes.


dining room

I feel like today’s families don’t typically need 2 dining rooms.  Luckily, we have an eat-in kitchen sort of situation, so we plan on just using that as our dining room.  If we ever host a large party, we can always set up folding tables in the “piano room”.  Along with the rest of the first floor, all the flooring will be replaced.  Like our last house, we’ll be building our own dining table!



We really loved our IKEA kitchen in the last house, and we plan on doing it again.  This kitchen layout will probably stay the same (since we don’t want to move windows, we probably will still do the corner sink).  But the huge change here will be knocking down the pantry closet.  I think that’ll really open up space, and I want to install floor to ceiling cabinets that will serve as the pantry.  I think it’ll look really cohesive.





So one of the first projects I tackled was painting the stair railing.  In my opinion, this particular oaky color just looks really dated.  I painted it a really pretty black color and painted the spindles a smooth white to bring the railing to the 21st century.



upstairs hallway


I think there’s a lot of potential here.  I might do some fun wall treatment.  It looks really dark all the time because of the peachy color that is painted in the main living area.  A new lighting fixture will also update this space drastically.

bedroom #1


The smallest bedroom in the house and is painted the darkest color in the house *facepalm*.  For all the upstairs bedrooms, we will swap out the carpet for an LVP flooring, get new baseboards, and paint all the walls.  Since we think this room will be the future nursery, we plan on just doing the aforementioned swaps and then leaving it empty until the time comes for when we need the space.

bedroom #2



This will serve as the guest room.  New floor, new baseboards, new wall color, and maybe a fun wall treatment?

bedroom #3



This room is the largest of the 3 bedrooms (besides the master), and it has a mini walk-in closet.  We figured this could be the perfect office for both Ian and myself, as well as a general lounge area.

master suite









I think the master suite has so much potential to be so cozy and perfect.  But it does need a ton of work.  Besides the flooring, baseboards, and paint, we plan on removing the popcorn ceiling in the bedroom.  Also, where the media stuff is set up, we think it could look really sweet if we did some sort of built-in electric fireplace/tv combo.  We’re lucky enough to have 2 (!) closets.  I think these wire shelving systems are just very inefficient and don’t use the space to its full advantage.  We plan on doing different wardrobe systems to maximize the space that we have.  The bathroom is just not my style, it’s very dated.  Some day, we’ll probably gut the entire thing.  But until then, we’ll do a budget refresh so it can still feel luxurious.

hall bath



Along with the master bath, we will do a budget refresh to this space and gut it at a later date.  Everything here is in pristine condition since the previous owner obviously used the master bath instead of the hall bath.  So it also feels like a waste to just gut it when it’s still in great condition.  The main thing we don’t like about this bathroom is how low the vanity, toilet, and tub are.  BUT, when we have children, it’ll be the perfect height for them.  So the plan here is to do a budget refresh and let our future kids use it.  That way, we won’t feel bad if they destroy anything.  And somewhere down the road, we’ll probably do a full gut job.

laundry closet


I actually really enjoy doing laundry, so this sad laundry space makes me really discouraged.  We’ll get new flooring put in, and I’ll come up with some clever storage solution in lieu of the wire racks.  I want to make this space look really fun and modern.  Also, the laundry closet has two doors that just knock into each other (and block the hallway), so I also need to figure out a clever solution for that.








The basement, again, has so much potential.  We’re so glad the previous owner finished it as a large, open space (it’s an L-shaped basement).  We’ll paint the walls, swap out the carpet for something that’s more pet-friendly, and swap out the ceiling tiles to something more aesthetically pleasing.  The wet bar looks super cool, and we plan on keeping it and just updating it so it’s more our style.  The future basement will have 3 zones – a board game zone with a large table, a movie theater zone with a cushy sectional, and the coffee bar zone.  The basement also has a half bath … that is also very dated which we’ll fix.


An amazing draw of our house is that even though it is in a community of other homes, it really doesn’t feel like it once you step out into the backyard.  Our house is at the end of the cul-de-sac, and it’s just on the edge of a forest.  We have lots of mature trees (one of our must-haves).  The previous owner landscaped it to be pretty low-maintenance, so the backyard is mostly trees and moss.  We plan on laying down sod at some point and maybe moving some trees around.  But we get a ~jacuzzi~.




house & home

Photo Walkthrough of Squirrel House

Ian and I first moved to Philadelphia in the summer of 2017.  We bought a fixer upper at around 1,200 sq ft in a quiet neighborhood, and got to work.  Over the last two years, we changed everything from painting the walls to swapping out flooring.  Needless to say, everything looks very different from when we first moved in.  I love looking back at the photos of when we first saw the place to see how far we’ve come.  It also is a good reminder of the power of paint and a little elbow grease go a LONG way.

It’s crazy to think, we were just two kids in our mid-20s with a few power tools and big dreams.  We did over 90% of the renovations ourselves and probably put in around $20,000 for renovations throughout these past 2 years.

It’s very bittersweet, since we are in the midst of renovating a new home in the suburbs which we’ll hopefully move into in the next few months.  But we’re excited to rent out our current home to tenants who will love it as much as we do.

Oh, and for those wondering, we call our house Squirrel House because our street name is squirrel-related and there just happened to be lots of squirrels running around the neighborhood.

Most of the before pictures are from the listing when we first bought the house.  Some of the before photos are taken when we first moved in.  All after photos are taken on my trusty little iPhone SE.

living room – previously, this space had really outdated (and damaged) laminate flooring.  we swapped out the flooring, painted everything, replaced baseboards, and built fun furniture like the art ledge and the tv console.

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wall color: simply white by benjamin moore, newburyport blue by benjamin moore

dining room – our dining room isn’t super big, but it’s a good size to fit a large dining table.  we built this table that seats 8-10 people, painted everything, new baseboards.  but our proudest accomplishment here is probably removing the little hats on the chandelier.  instead of an outdated chandelier, it’s actually quite chic.

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wall color: simply white by benjamin moore

kitchen – the kitchen was super outdated, so really anything we did would’ve been an upgrade.  we decided to keep the range and refrigerator since they were in decent condition.  we opted for an ikea kitchen, since it was the most affordable for us at the time.  we tiled for the first time when we did the subway tile backsplash.  we built a floating shelf and painted (!) the existing tile floors.

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wall color: grey owl by benjamin moore

upstairs hallway – besides getting new flooring all throughout upstairs, the biggest change in the hallway is the faux shiplap wall treatment that we did throughout the length of the hallway.  it really does a good job brightening up the hallway and adding interest to the walls without adding pictures of artwork.

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wall color: polar bear by behr

bedroom 1 – the office.  for all the bedroom upstairs, we swapped out the floors, redid the baseboards, painted everything, and swapped out the eyesore boob lights and replaced them with stylish flush mount lights.

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wall color: simply white by benjamin moore

bedroom 2 – guest room.  this room was by far the tiniest room in the house.  we are still unsure how the previous owners managed to put a full-size bed and a desk in this tiny room.  but since we are currently using it as a guest room, we just opted for a full fize bed and a small nightstand that we had on hand.


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wall color: simply white by benjamin moore

bedroom 3 – master bedroom.  this room was one of the hardest rooms to renovate.  the layout the previous owners chose made us scratch our heads in confusion as to why they would position their furniture that way.  this room also had a significant amount of water damage in the ceiling and wall, so we had to get a plaster repair contractor out to fix that.

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wall color: simply white by benjamin moore

bathroom – the funny thing is that we ended up finishing the bathroom within the first month of moving in.  mainly because i refused to take a full shower in the old bathroom (i opted for quick 2 min quick wash) since the shower was sooooo dingy.  the old bathroom was painted a color that did not do it any favors, so i painted it a light gray that has a coastal vibe.  by swapping out the pedestal sink for a regular vanity gives us a lot more storage.  but the biggest transformation is probably removing the old shower door and opting for shower curtains.  since the bathroom is so tiny, it really opened up the space and made it seem much bigger than before.

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wall color: grey owl by benjamin moore

basement – we hired a contractor to do the majority of the work in the basement.  we had the staircase completely rebuilt, took off the old paneling and framed out the entire basement.  we added stylish drop ceiling to brighten up the space (the basement is actually really low, only about 7 1/2 ft height).  lastly, i laid down peel and stick vinyl flooring which is really great to have in the basement since the basement door leads out to the garage/outside, so we do come through the basement entrance quite often, and the vinyl flooring is so good for the high traffic area.

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wall color: polar bear by behr