Lighten Up!

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There’s always a “vision” when you look in a room.  I run through ideas of what I would like, and how I envision it in the space.  I had already transformed my kitchen from it ugly plain oak cabinets, fake countertops and green walls.  You can see that transformation from a previous post here: “Home Cooked Meal”. However, I was looking for a change- something newer/brighter.  Here is what the kitchen looked like before this project:

As you can see, it’s a small kitchen, and I felt like the decor didn’t represent my true style.  It had the antique cabinet and other elements I liked, but the color on the wall and accessory colors I chose made the kitchen feel small.  It was time to change it up!

I had already painted the cabinets a light color called: “White Down” by Benjamin Moore.   It’s actually appears a lot whiter than the image below.

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It took me a while to pick out the color for the walls.  As much as I wanted to lighten the walls, I didn’t want the kitchen cabinets and the color of the walls to be too similar. So I looked at a few paint samples…

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I ended up picking the color “Tapestry Beige ” by Benjamin Moore.

Once I started cutting in the paint, I was pleasantly surprised with how much brighter the space was becoming.  I didn’t realize how “dark” the previous color was.

I’ve always been a fan of black and white.  It’s clean, it and classic.  I sold the antique hutch, and replaced it with a low black cabinet and rustic shelves.  I love seeing all the white dishes on display, and storage underneath is a bonus!

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I took the old hardware, that I had previously sprayed bronze, sanded them and re-sprayed them in black.  This was an easy fix, and extremely cost effective since I didn’t need to buy new hardware.

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Final details like curtains and accessories I kept to white/cream or white/cream/black combo.  I replaced my cream and orange canisters with whit ones, a simple white utensil holder, and my favorite- a creamy white colored kettle.  I keep very little on the counters so it doesn’t look cluttered.  Again, my goal was to keep it clean and classic.

All in all, I am very happy with the turn out.  Here are after pictures.  Unfortunately in order for you to see curtains I had to take some pictures at night and some during the day.  I’m not too thrilled with the pictures, but here they are:

Backyard Overhaul!

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When I first purchased my home I was so excited to have found a place with a fenced in yard for my dogs.  It was all mine, but it was an absolute eyesore.  Well, here I am, 5 years later, and it has finally come to fruition.  Yes, a long time, whatever!  Each year I focused on a little something.

Problem #1: Back landing/stairs:

I started with the back stairs: or lack thereof.  These stairs were comprised of cinder blocks with bricks laying inside.  There was nothing holding it together but prayers.  I knew this was the first thing to be resolved- how the hell would the dogs, or myself, get in and out with out feeling like we were walking the plank?  Here are the before pictures:

As soon as my father and I started pulling away the bricks we saw that the whole inside was pretty much hollow, and the cinder provided no structural support.

 

A friend of mine from high school does masonry work on the side, and he installed the most beautiful blue stone stairs. The landing was wider, safer, and well- better looking:

 

Problem #2: White Stones

The back yard was filled with white stones; apparently the previous owners had an above ground pool and used these stones around it for drainage.  It was labor intensive to remove them.  Actually it was a b*tch.  My father and I sifted for days just to try to get some of them out.  These stones, although mostly gone, would continue to pinch my feet as I walked around.

 

Problem #3: Fence

As you can tell from the previous photos, the fence was barely standing up straight.  A new fence went up with an awesome new gate (that worked).

 

Problem #4: Patio

The brick patio wasn’t very attractive and definitely needed an upgrade.  It didn’t expand out towards the bulkhead, which left this open space.  I was left scratching my head.. umm, what the heck do I do with this?

Again, my friend from high school helped me pick out the cobble stone, and he crated the most beautiful patio for the space, and even incorporated some of the brick for an extra touch of flair.  The patio extended all the way to the bulk head, which provided a perfect space for the grill.  He re-used the brick to fill in the pathway to the gate.  By using the brick I already had, it was cost effective and really cleaned up the narrow space between the house and fence.

Problem # 5: Grass

Ok, so all these things look great together, but the greatest eyesore of the whole backyard was the lawn.  Excuse me I stand corrected: there was no grass, just desert scrub that existed in patches. Now this was difficult, because I have two big dogs, and I knew my choices for laying down new landscaping were limited.

Option #1) Seed: It would be almost impossible to put seed down- the dogs would walk through it and destroy the seeding and bring mud in the house.  Thus making more of a mess with little results.

Option #2: Hydro-seed: well apparently I didn’t have enough square footage for “it to be worth it,” as I was told from a few companies.  I say “to hell with them!”

Option #3: Sod.  I was terrified to put sod down, I know it can be temperamental and difficult to maintain in its early stages.  I figured I could replace pieces here and there if need be, but it made the most sense: I would get grass immediately and the dogs wouldn’t be able to inhibit its growth or bring in a hot mess!  I hired Dorabella’s Landscaping, and they were wonderful!  They took what was left of those damn white stones, grated it all, put fresh loam down, and perfect laid out the sod.

As you can tell the dogs are quite happy.  The whole dogs peeing on the lawn and causing yellow spots is another problem, but it will all work out.

I purchased new cushions to go with the really beautiful patio set I already had.  All in all, it was a lot of work, but now the backyard is done, and it’s a space I enjoy spending time in.

“Be Our Guest” Dining Room Makeover

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My dining room has been done for a while, but I haven’t had time to take photos, upload them, and all that jazz.  Anyway, now I am ready!  So when I first bought the house, the dining room was a very very olive green color.  I may have liked a shade of this color had it been a nice one, but after seeing this color I knew instantly I was going to cover it!  Here is what the dining room looked like before:

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Not to mention that there were a hundred holes in the wall from things that were hanging on the wall.  It took some time to patch and sand, but it got done…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce the room was patched and ready to go, I start painting.  I picked a nice taupe/beige color.  It’s Benjamin Moore’s Shenendoah Taupe:

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I liked that it was a nice neutral color, and knew it would look nice against my dark espresso colored furniture.  I re-used the curtains from my old house, because I loved them.  They are a damask pattern with earth-tones running through it.  I purchased the coolest chandelier from an Etsy dealer.  It is so rustic, it looks like it spent the last 100 years in the ground.

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I picked up a truly adorable sign at Vintage Thymes in Norwood, and I hung it above the dining room doorway.

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Since I don’t have a ton of kitchen cabinet space, and I packed my side server pretty well… I had no place to put my wine glasses, martini shaker, ice bucket, wine etc….  I had been on the hunt for a while for a nice cabinet to use for this, but I didn’t want anything huge or bulky.  On a whim, I found a cabinet at some warehouse! Randomly… but it worked out in my favor!!!

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I may paint it at a later date, but it serves its purpose for now.  I was able to put all my wine glasses away, and put my martini shaker and ice bucket on top.  It needed a little something, and I had just the thing!  I had gone to paint night with my mother a while back, and painted my own version of “Chat Noir.”  I knew I would use it in the house eventually, but didn’t know where.  Instead of using the colors red, yellow, and black in the traditional print, I chose to use blues, creams, black, and white.  The colors work well with my color scheme.  I put it on top of the wine bar as a finishing touch.

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All that’s left to do? Have a feast fit for a king and fill my wine cabinet with lots of yummy wine!

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Upcycled Heirloom

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So my mother has had my great grandmother’s picture frames in the shed for as long as I can remember.  When I moved into my first house I took them with me, trying to figure out what to do with them, but instead they stayed in my basement.  When I moved to my new place, and saw the master bathroom with double vanity sink, I knew instantly I would transform the old frames into matching mirrors for the his and hers sink.  Here is what they looked like before:

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They were definitely roughed up, but a little bit of patching and love I knew it was fixable.  Years and years of dust and grime had built up on the frames.  I decided it needed a good cleaning, but was afraid to use anything harsh on them.  I stuck with good old dish soap and hot water.

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It was an instant improvement!  The chips that were on the frames needed to be patched.  I used wood filler, and did my best to shape some details in it, which proved to be difficult.

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I decided to use Rustoleum spray in antique bronze.  They came out awesome!!! Once they were all cleaned, patched, and painted, I brought the frames to Wayside Glass to have mirrors put in them.  I was honestly a little nervous that they would not be able to put the mirrors in the frames because they are so old.  However, they managed to do it, and they came out wonderful.  Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend, they were hanged perfectly and they completed the whole vanity look.  Here is the finished product.

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“French Country Is So Comfy”

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I finally managed to put my family room together.  I knew from the beginning that I wanted a “French Country” theme, and I ran with it.  Just a reminder, the family room before was a bright purple/pink with a faux finish.  Lovely, NOT.  Here are some pictures of the before:

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Get the picture? How can you not! I painted my family room, foyer, and stairway Benjamin Moore’s “Baby Fawn.”

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It is such a neutral base I knew I could do anything with it.  It was very convenient that the couch I had from my previous home is a neutral color.  I like to keep walls, and big piece of furniture a neutral and accessorize with color.  When I think of “French Country” I picture creams, soft blues, grays, greens, etc.  I’m trying to decide whether I should start with my accessories first or the main pictures? Hmm… I think I am going to create a build up!  Ok, for starters, I blogged previously about the entertainment center I put together.  It had a white washed look, and was very neutral.  I grabbed some chicken wire baskets from Home Goods, which had a soft linen fabric on the inside.

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Not too shabby right?  It’s a solid piece I got from Walmart for $149.  It’s awesome, not gonna lie!  Ok, next… I went to Home Goods and found the PERFECT rug.  You know how it’s hit or miss when you go there, and you don’t always find what you’re looking for? Well I almost sh*t when I saw the carpet hanging.  It was PERFECT.  Had an interesting pattern, with creams, blues and golds running through it.

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It would be the perfect amount of bold color I would need, and definitely went along with the color scheme.  While I was at home goods, I also picked up the cutest little footstool.  With it’s burlap cushioned top, rope handles, and french writing, I had to have it.

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So once I had the carpet, wall color, and couch out, I wanted curtains of course, but really didn’t want to make them overpower the room.  There are a lot of windows and a lot of natural light.  I knew a pattern or a color would be too busy.  I found the perfect grommet panels in a light linen color.  They worked perfectly.  I also had a piece of wall art from my previous home that I used because I absolutely love it.  To me it completely looks “French Country” with its soft rustic blues and wrought iron.

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While at an antique shop, I spotted another incredible piece of wall art.  It was part of an old banister, distressed naturally over time, and absolute gorgeous, period.

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As for the throw pillows… I had these really nice lumbar pillows from Crate & Barrel that I definitely wanted to use, and it fit in well with the color scheme.  I scooped up a solid pillows (with an embroidered pattern), and a floral pillow that picked up all the colors in the room.  I put the three together, and what have you got? Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo!

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My couch is a sectional, and in the corner I wanted to make it a little different.  I bought up a neutral burlap pillow, and an awesome throw blanket from Target that was right on point.

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My coffee table is upholstered, and was purchased with the couch as a complete set.  I have a nice wooden tray on top, but wanted to pull in some natural components, greenery and what not.  I stopped by Fleurish @ the Win Smith Mill and picked up the cutest preserved boxwood topiary, handmade arrangement in a tart dish and a silver platter.  I had purchased a really cook lock and key from Madden Blue (also located at the Win Smith Mill), and I simply tied them together with some left over burlap. I put it all together, to make my own little center piece.

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Alright, more accessories.  I had previously blogged about the lamps from my previous home, and how I painted them over.  All about re-using and re-purposing!

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I picked up the cutest black distressed side table from 23rd and Bird (also located at the Win Smith Mill).  I added one of the lamps, and the cutest little hen to spice it up with some color!

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Alright, so there you go.  Everything has a place, everything set up and on display.  Here is the final product.

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Thanks for reading, and being a part of my home.  I mixed a little of the old with the new, and didn’t spend a lot of money!

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“Home Cooked Meal”

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Well, I have pulled all of my kitchen elements together, and it’s done! I wanted to share my before and after pictures of my kitchen.  I am still waiting for some one to put up my backsplash, but that should be happening soon.  I’ll just post about the backsplash separately!  Well I have put a lot of work into the kitchen. Trying to keep much of what I had, and really just making some cosmetic changes.  I’ll guide you through the process.  Here is the before:

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I mean it wasn’t AWFUL, but I’m a brat and wanted it my way.  Hey, if i’m going to live there I better love it right?  Well.  First thing I did was CLEAN the SH*T out of the kitchen.  GROSS, it hadn’t been done in forever, there was grease everywhere.  Next step: removing and cleaning the cabinet and drawer fronts so they could be painted.

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Next step PAINT.  I used Benjamin Moore “Broken Arrow.”  Love this color.

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Painting the cabinets was a bit labor intensive because they had to be cleaned really well, needed a few coats of paint, and a few coats of sealant, and all the hardware was sprayed an antique bronze to match the fixtures.  At the end of the day they came out better than I could have ever expected.

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I knew before I even turned the key to my new home that I would be replacing the counter tops in the kitchen.  It was one of the only big expenses I wanted to make.  However, I lucked out and was able to find a Groupon!  Pacific Stone gave me a great deal, I even got to do my upstairs master bath.  They cut the stone beautifully, the corners were not cut instead it was one giant piece with a gorgeous rounded edge.

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Fixtures went in, and I was able to put up the cabinet and drawer fronts with their new hardware too!

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I finished my gorgeous display cabinet for all my dinnerware, unpacked everything, accessorized and once everything was complete I smiled with a “job well done” look on my face.

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I decided that I wanted to accessorize with orange.  I felt it was a good combination with the colors and antique bronze fixtures.

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Not too much, just right.  Here are some more kitchen shots:

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Cookin’ Up A Storm!

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I can’t believe this project is finally done!! I have finally finished all the cabinets, frames, hardware, and have hung them up!!!  I have posted along the way- from cleaning, to painting, to sealing, and to cleaning and spraying the hard ware.  I am finally able to unveil the finished product! I really am so happy the way it turned out!

Here is the before:

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After all the hauling ass, here is the AFTER:

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Pretty damn good, huh?  Now I just have to get a glass cabinet for my dishes to put on the wall, and put up the backsplash!

Stairway to Heaven

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Thanks to my friend Steve, I now have steps leading out to my backyard! WAHOO! Not to mention they are freaking gorgeous.  Remember what I started with?  Cinder blocks and brick resting on mud, and unstable….

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 I knew that the steps were like this when I bought the house, and it certainly came up in inspection… I knew I was going to have to deal with it at some point.  However that some point proved to me immediate, because my dogs wouldn’t be able to go in and outside the house.  So, the stairs were demoed in a matter of 5 minutes, and I was left with a pile a dirt.

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I called Steve, and he was willing to helping me out.  I told him what I wanted, to a degree… because I never really know WHAT I want, but that’s neither here no there.  I did know that I wanted the landing to extend to the end of the house; make it a bit more substantial.  He simply said “don’t worry, I’ll make it look pretty.”  I knew instantly that he would.  He started framing out the steps.

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The weather was not very conducive to working with wet cement and all that, but he was prepared with a pop up tent, and went at it anyway!

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All said and done, I have to say that they come out GORGEOUS, and I couldn’t be happier.  Steve did an amazing job manipulating the field stone, and blue stone.  What’s funny is that on the top landing, there was one awkward piece, and my OCD got the better of me.  Steve simply said “you’re the one who has to look at it!” Thank god he had patience with me.  He fixed it, and made it perfectly symmetrical- and my serenity stayed in tack.  I now have my own little stairway to heaven.

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Nip & Tuck: Super Facelift

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I have been trying to keep my home renovation project under budget, which is why I have done a lot of the work myself (and with the help of my father), but sometimes you need to call in the professionals (plumbing, electrical, granite).  From the beginning I KNEW I couldn’t afford a complete new kitchen, and I had to transform my kitchen on a penny, that’s right- not a dime, a penny!  Luckily, I was lucky enough to have stainless steal appliances come with the home.  However, the cabinets were completely outdated.

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It’s all good though! I know some one who paints furniture, wink wink!  I was going to use chalk paint originally, but screw that; it would prove to be way more work- between painting, smoothing, and waxing.  SO, I decided to use latex paint with my paint air gun, and set up shop outside at my parents house.

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To save on costs, I chose to coordinate the paint for the cabinets with a bathroom.  This way I was able to get a gallon and utilize the whole thing.  I decided on Benjamin Moore’s “White Down.”

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The Cabinets had been properly cleaned and prepped.  I applied two coats of “White Down (In an eggshell finish) to the cabinets, and immediately the cabinets were COMPLETELY transformed!  I loved the color choice- they aren’t a bright white, and they aren’t a heavy cream color, I feel its a good balance between the two!

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Once the paint had a few days to cure, I knew I had to seal them properly in order to prevent them from chipping, scratching, and also allow me to clean them with soap and water down the road. I did not to wax the cabinets, and I certainly couldn’t use a polyurethane because it would yellow the paint, so I decided on Minwax’s Polyacrylic Clear Satin.

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I have used this product before, and it does leave a protective coat with a nice sheen.  However, I have had some instances where it was not so great, especially over whites.  If you apply the product too heavily it can yellow when dry.  After all the work I had put it already, I was really nervous about this happening.  I had posted a video on Facebook before I began… I was semi-freaking out.  I EVER so gently, applied the polyacrylic with my air gun.  The first coat came out AWESOME!!!!  I used 400 grit sandpaper in between coats.  I applied a total of 3 coats. Here is the finished product:

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ALL DONE! Now I just need to paint the cabinet frames, and once they are done, I can hang the doors back up, put on the hardware and call the kitchen a wrap!

“Let there be light, and there was light”

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I certainly had a lot of fun picking out the light fixtures for the house.  All the other lights were really outdated:

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It’s just that gorgeous 1990’s look, right?  Well… I have to say that I replaced literally every light in the house- whatever- it is what it is.   I can’t do one and not the others!  So I’ll walk you through:  Here is the light in the downstairs half bath, a nice antique bronze:

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Now, this light below I used in a number of locations: 1) Front Entry 2) Kitchen and 3) Upstairs Landing:

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Here is the pendant light over the Kitchen sink- the pattern matches the speckled look on the countertops

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I’m doing good so far right?  WAIT till you see the dining room light!!!  I knew I wanted a really unique chandelier, something different, something rustic…. I ended up searching on ETSY for a personalized piece.  I came across MOSAICUS, and the owner/creator Annette was wonderful to talk to!  Here is the light I ordered and put up!

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I love the color that it has on it, and it was given that aged patina look.  Here is the link to MOSAICUS‘s ETSY page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Mosaicus

I know, It’s a goodie.  Ok let’s move up stairs shall we?  So the master bathroom I carried through the antique bronze look.  I got these beautiful matching lights for the double vanity sink:

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Lastly, the upstairs full bath I went with a totally different look.  I kinda gave it a “new look” in a brushed nickel.  I am not sure If I love the idea- my OCD kicks in and says I should have stuck with the antique bronze, but changing it up isn’t bad right? Plus I liked the light, I think it’s different, a bit industrial- and I like beating to the sound of my own drum!

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So there you go- the lights are on in the house now!

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