We were asked by Porch.com to share our favorite memories or “happy place” in our home as part of their love your home series (you can follow along at #loveyourhome). If you haven’t heard of Porch.com, it is a really cool home network that helps you find inspiration for your home, find the right professionals and get advice for all things home and DIY. We are so happy to be able to be a part of this series and share what we love about our home.
To us our home is our sanctuary. It is where we relax, recharge and our favorite part of all, create. Brent and I were paired up to work together on design projects as interns in high school and since then we have found that we are at our most happy when we are able to make, build and design things together. So it is no surprise to us that when we look at our home we don’t just see it as four walls where we live or just a place to come home to after work each night. We see it as a blank canvas full of possibilities and one of our favorite things about our home is not a particular piece of furniture or even a room but rather the process of making the house unique to us, making it our own.
Now to be honest one of the main reasons we can so easily see our house as a blank canvas is because it is literally blank and bare. This is our first home and our one bedroom apartment’s worth of stuff didn’t come close to filling it up. Several of our rooms have sat empty for quite awhile now. However, rather than going out and buying a bunch of stuff to fill up the rooms (which we can’t afford to do anyway) we like to brainstorm for awhile on a way that we can make each empty space in our home have a purpose as well as incorporate our personal style. The process of dreaming up ideas for our home, bringing those ideas to life and then enjoying the spaces together is what we love most about our home.
Two of our current favorite spots in our home are areas that were completely empty and had nothing in them for over a year, our reading nook and our breakfast nook. These areas forced us to really put on our thinking caps, dream big and get creative to make the spaces work for us.
Empty Alcove to Reading Nook
When we moved into our home we had an alcove next to our fireplace. There was an electrical outlet and a cable outlet in this area. Basically all signs (outlets) pointed to this being the place intended for the entertainment center and TV. However, we just didn’t like the feeling of the TV being off center so we opted to put it on a different wall. This decision left us with a big empty hole in our living room. We weren’t sure what we were going to do with it so we just left it and had to learn to be content with the void.
After about a year we started to give more thought to what we could do with the space and decided that based on our lack of seating issue in the living room, we could use the space to provide additional seating. One idea led to another and we ultimately came up with the idea of turning the empty alcove into a cozy reading nook. The process included cutting, roughing up, staining and installing the wood plank wall on the back of the niche. Then we built and stained a bench to fit exactly in the space as well as created our own custom cushion to fit the bench since it was not a typical size. Finally, we installed a fun light to really bring the space to life and brighten up a dark corner so it makes for the perfect spot to stretch out and read. This was our first major project in our home and really set the tone for our next projects and established our style.
It is a favorite of ours because teamwork and a lot of laughs helped us to get through that never ending wood plank wall and the finished result has led to many cozy nights curled up reading in this inviting space. That is if the cat doesn’t beat us to it. Plus, it makes us happy when guests fight to sit in the reading nook over sitting on the couch.
Empty Breakfast Nook to Coffee Shop Inspired Dining Area
Another area that sat undecorated and unused for well over a year was our breakfast nook. I would like to say that is because we eat meals in our dining room but that is not true because we turned our dining area into our library. We are at that unglamorous stage of life where we eat most of our meals on the couch. There, I said it out loud. We had a small dining table set but the space it sat in was bare and cold.
We had dreams, big dreams of transforming the breakfast nook into our own private coffee shop. This project was intense. We designed and built a 7-foot wide coffee bar from scratch and built the front of the bar to have the same weathered wood planks as our reading nook to tie the two rooms together. For the top we created concrete countertops and then built a custom framed chalkboard that was also 7-foot wide. We decorated the coffee bar with all sorts of fun jars and bottles. We kept our dining room table but added a rug underneath to define the space and spruced it up with a few little décor items.
This project was one of our favorites because we will have a lot of crazy memories from building it. The whole process of mixing and setting the concrete was a crazy one that did not go perfectly but we are already looking back and laughing about it. The coffee bar really turned the space into a fun, eclectic area and now we find ourselves spending our mornings drinking coffee here together. And evenings eating dinner here are like we are having a date night every night in a private coffee shop!
We have learned that decorating your first home when you are on a budget is not a sprint but a marathon and leaving rooms empty for a while to eventually create spaces that you absolutely love is okay. Because it is the journey to creating our perfect home together that is the fun part. What we love most about our home are the memories we are creating as we dream up ideas, design, and build out our favorite spaces together.