Merry Christmas and Thank You

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Wishing you a warm and wonderful Christmas wrapped in the love of family and friends. Thank you for generously sharing your time and friendship with me.

xo, Kimberly

How to Choose New and Replacement Windows and Doors

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Source: Marvin Windows and Doors
I'm happy to report that after a year and a half of looking at windows (and changing my mind twice about the color), I have finally ordered our new windows  and all of the exterior doors with the exception of the front door which I'll share shortly...after I order it....

                                                                                                        case I change my mind.

Farmhouse Renovation Update: I Like Big Trucks (and I cannot lie)

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I've had a couple of you ask whether or not I'd be sharing holiday decorating this year. Honestly, the jury is still out on that  and here's why: over the course of the last two weeks, we've officially entered the "it's gonna' get worse before it gets better" phase of the renovation, at least as it relates to the exterior. 

Fortunately, Piper has adjusted to the fact that the only way to enter or leave the house is through the garage and I actually think that she's enjoying watching the daily parade of guys with heavy equipment.  I have to admit, I am too.

We started small. The first machine was the bobcat with the giant saw on the front of it that dug the four foot deep trench from the lot line to the back door. This trench is where the new underground electric service, cable and phone lines will run and pretty much ended my gardening and landscaping  season for the year. I though that I was prepared for the mud.
                                                                             I wasn't.

From there, we moved on to the big stuff. Excavation equipment dug the foundations for the new additions. First, a smaller addition in the rear of the house which runs from the  left side of the blue tarp in the photo above to the back door (this addition will contain the new hall/mudroom and master bathroom.

Next, the second, larger, addition which extends from the front of the south end house into the front yard. This addition will contain two bedrooms, a full bathroom, and my new studio space in addition to a small covered patio.

Since the south end of our home is currently on a crawl space, the addition is also on a crawl space This saves us money on excavation and concrete and we don't have to worry about excavating below the existing footings where the current structure is resting.

Then, the fun part started. Huge trucks filled with gravel arrived along with a conveyor to pump the gravel from the street into the foundation. Small children walking home from the grade school across the street began to loiter and a mom with a toddler in a stroller and a large cup of coffee showed up a couple of days in a row. I considered getting out the folding chairs and making popcorn but between the rain and the snow, I decided against it.

I also decided that attempting to change the decorations in the window box was probably a lost cause because it would take a pair of boots and a ladder to get to it. At least I can get to the pumpkin that is still on the front porch to throw it away and when it snows, I no longer have to worry about shoveling the front sidewalk...because there isn't one.

It has been incredible to watch as these huge pieces of equipment gently excavate just on the other side of the wall where I sit without even a ripple in my morning cup of coffee. As you probably have guessed, I've become friends with the excavation and concrete crews and they have generously shared stories of their families and how they got into the "business" while we stand at the back of someone's pick up truck sharing lunch or coffee. 

The majority of them have emigrated from Ireland and I've enjoyed the moments of hearty laughter and fabulous brogues that I've listened to on the other side of the very thin walls where the brick has been removed and all that separates me from them is a layer of drywall and some insulation for the last two weeks. 

Yesterday, the concrete pump  and parade of concrete trucks showed up for the second time as the foundation walls were poured.  Mercifully, the weather has been holding mainly in the 40's and 50's here in Illinois and with the exception of a few days of rain and a little wet snow, we've been blessed to be able to get this part of the construction finished before the real cold sets in. 

Today, the land surveyors will be here to perform a "spot survey" to ensure that the foundation is at the correct height before we build on it.  The concrete crew will also come to strip the forms off of the walls and spray the concrete with a sealant to help with the dampness in the crawlspace. Next Monday, the foundation floors will be poured. After that, they'll back fill (put the dirt back against the outside) the foundations and the heavy equipment will be gone. 

Who knows....once that happens, maybe I'll change the window box....or put a wreath on the front door.


Farmhouse Renovation Floor Plans and Progress

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After what feels like an eternity (just under two and a half years) and a number of  "bumps in the road"  I'm excited to finally share the revised plans for Phase 2 of the remodeling and renovation here at the farmhouse and to be able to tell you that we have been issued a building permit!

Natural Stone and Ceramic Tile Selections for the Farmhouse

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A couple of weeks ago I made final tile selections for the farmhouse renovation.  True to my original plan, I used natural stone  and hand formed ceramic tile.  Unlike my original plan, the tile that I ended up choosing isn't at all like what I originally chose over a year ago.  Take for example the powder room floor tile above.  I originally thought that I'd use traditional French hexagonal tile. Instead, I selected a pattern that's just a little bit out of the ordinary but still gives me the same rustic French feel.

Red Yellow and Gray Fall Porch Decor

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This year, I decided on a red and yellow color scheme for my fall front porch decor. As you may have guessed if you saw my fall window box planter post, I chose mums and heuchera for my front porch as well.

Abundant Harvest Fall Urn Planters for a Stone and Stucco Home

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Today I'm sharing the abundant harvest fall urn planter arrangements that I created for my clients, T&J. A few weeks ago I met these clients t their gorgeous custom home for the first time.  They've asked me to"tweak" a few things on the exterior as well as to do interior staging and select the finishing touches for their incredible home.

As you can see from these photos, their home is a gorgeous, custom stone and stucco  that confection that was built just about five years ago. Their new landscaping is getting established and filling in nicely.

I love projects like this where most of the "heavy lifting" is complete and all I need to do is to add the "jewelry" to an already gorgeous design.  In the front of the home,  I'll be adding shutters to a couple of the windows, a window flower box above the garage,  and choosing furnishings for their front patio.

Since fall and winter are coming and I'm also working on my own home, I'll be designing the shutters and window box for this home in coming weeks but depending upon weather, they may not be installed until spring.  In the mean time, I've created fall urn planters for their front entry and added just a few mums to bring fall color to their yard.

 Using their existing containers, I created arrangements using mums, kale, heuchera, broom corn and faux pumpkins from the craft store.  The size and scale area appropriate for the size of the home and these planters will last until we do their holiday decorating in late November.

I love it when my clients see their home decorated for a particular season for the first time. The look on J's face when she stepped out of the door on Saturday was so sweet as she hugged me and said "I must have done something really good at some point in my life to deserve to have you in my life."

It's moments like that....a few brief seconds, shared on a gloomy Saturday morning or a sunny Friday afternoon, that remind me of how much I love doing what I do. I love helping clients to create warm and welcoming environments that are a reflection of them. Bringing the feelings and visions that they have for their home to life is my favorite thing to do.

I can't wait to show you the inside of this gorgeous home in the coming months.  I'll be staging and decorating four bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room and family room.  I'll also be doing some holiday decorating for them both inside and outside (and you know how much I love the holidays!)

 I'm thankful to have this gorgeous home to decorate while our home is being renovated. Creating abundant harvest themed fall urn planters for J & T's  front entry is just the  start of the fun so be sure to follow along.

I'll be sharing my own fall front porch decorating as well as farmhouse construction updates later this week so be sure to stop by.

Thanks so much for reading!

Fall Window Box Planter

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I'm not ready for fall....but my windowbox planter is.  It's filled to the brim with a combination of mums and kale, twigs, dried seed pods and leaves.  Of course, I'm not sure how long they're going to last. 

IKEA Rast Hack: Industrial Nightstand

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I love it when I have the opportunity to try new things and share them with you.

I love it even more when the opportunity to do try something new coincides perfectly with a project that I wanted to try needed to do anyway....finding my son a nightstand.
Let me introduce you to this wonderful little industrial-inspired nightstand that I made for my youngest son's first college apartment using an IKEA Rast dresser and supplies from Menards, Pittsburgh Paints and Hickory Hardware.

A few weeks ago, I got an email asking if I wanted to join eight other bloggers for a "challenge." I thought to myself, "Are you kidding?!  I LOVE a good challenge....after all, I'm the girl who's trying to make a farmhouse out of a 1950's ranch house"...but I digress.

Vintage French Carved Wood Chair Preservation and Mini Makeover

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As much as I love painting furniture, there are times when I think that pieces are better off left alone.  Such is the case with this sweet little vintage French carved wood side chair that found me a few weeks ago. Sometimes, I'm lucky enough to find a chair that needs very little work. This is one of those chairs. To me, this chair was perfect when we found each other in every way...except for one.

How to Landscape a Corner Lot

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Today I'm sharing my solution to landscaping for privacy on a corner lot.  If you follow Serendipity Refined on Instagram, you know that over the last ten days I decided to do some landscaping in the front yard at the farmhouse.  I designed a 60 foot long berm that is roughly the shape of a boomerang and contains several varieties of evergreens as well as some flowering ornamental trees and shrubs as well as shrub roses and perennials that will not only provide privacy but will add a focal point to our front yard.

How To Build A DIY Rustic Cedar Window Flower Box

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It's true. I chose mid-July to build a cedar window flower box for the farmhouse. I know that may sound crazy but I was bored...and local nurseries are closing out their summer flowers. At 50% off, the cost of filling the nearly seven foot long flower box wasn't bad. Rather than purchasing a bunch of individual flowers, I simply filled the box with four hanging baskets!

Farmhouse Essentials: Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Products Peony Scent {element}

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It has been awhile since I've shared some of the products and items that I consider to be essential elements here at the farmhouse. These are short, sweet, non-sponsored posts about products that I use and love. Today I'm sharing my 2015 Summer Crush: Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products in PEONY! If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know that I'm stocking up for summer!

 I've used Mrs. Meyers products in my home for several years.  They're eco-friendly cleaning products made from essential oils from flowers and herbs that not only smell wonderful but do a great job of cleaning, too! I also love the fact that they're easy on my budget with most items are under $4.00 and the fragrances are so yummy that I sometimes think that I should wear them as perfume....or eat them!

This summer, my favorite fragrance is Peony.  I'm on my second bottle of the hand soap and multi surface cleaner and it's not even July! I use it in the kitchen as well as the bathroom. It makes my whole house smell like a summer garden.  My only regret is that they didn't make a home fragrance spray in this line. Oh well, maybe next time.

I purchase my Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products at Target but they're also available online at Mrs Meyers, at Amazon, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond and other stores. Just beware...Peony is a limited edition so grab it while you can!

Do you use Mrs. Meyers? What's your favorite scent?

 Thanks for reading!

Rustic French Country Milk & Chalk Paint Grandfather's Clock Makeover

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Today I'm sharing a rustic French country painted Grandfather's clock that I made over using both Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint.  I love using both types of paint on the same piece and have been doing it for a couple of years because I really like the crusty, rustic, layered effect that I can achieve by layering ASCP and MMS (with bonding agent).

French Farmhouse Update: Learning to Cha-Cha

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Sometimes life requires a little "cha-cha".  It's been awhile since I've updated you on progress here at the farmhouse.  That's mainly because there has been none.  After approximately nine months of working with a builder who we thought was going to do this project for us, he stopped returning calls....he simply disappeared.  Don't get me wrong, this is a big project...a HUGE project and we don't have unlimited funds so I can understand if he changed his mind. I just wish that he would have let us know six months ago.

I have interviewed five other builders and the cost estimates to complete this project have come back over twice our budget.  Not at all like what I saw last weekend when I watched the Property Brothers marathon as I was stenciling Sadie's bedroom.  The Property Brothers rehabbed eight or nine different homes each of which took eight weeks or less to complete and none of which cost more than $175,000.  Clearly, I'm doing something wrong.

The estimates that I've received to rehab our 1800 square foot red brick ranch in the Chicago suburbs (with us doing all of the landscaping, exterior painting, and interior finish work ourselves) have been far more than any rehab that I've seen on television with time estimates of six to eight months  to complete the project. I'm pretty sure that I could build a new house for less money than a couple of the quotes that I've received.
So, I'm waiting to hear back from two remaining builders before I take a step back, scrap the plans that I spent a year developing,  and go back to the drawing board to start over to redesign a rehab for the farmhouse that we can afford to build.  

In the mean time, I'm making the best of living in a house with walls torn out, windows painted closed, and no air conditioning.  I'm painting a little furniture, doing a little landscaping and helping  friends with projects that they're working on. We're living in three rooms and have never been closer as a family.  I'm thankful for that...and the fact that everyone is keeping their sense of far.

I know that there's a reason that this project has been delayed and I also know that we'll move forward with the renovation of the farmhouse when the time is right. In the mean time, I'm learning a lot about patience...and faith...and perspective. After all, in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing more than an inconvenience...just a little plot twist in the story of my life....a story that is far from over. 

Thanks for reading. 

Bright and Graphic Porch Decorating: Welcome Home Summer Tour

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Today, I'm sharing summer on the screened porch.  Creating this warm and welcoming look is easy. The graphic black and white with pops of bright colors make this porch a perfect place for summer entertaining. I love porches....all of them...especially in the summer!
I grew up in a big old white house.  Well, "big" is probably a bit of a stretch but it seemed big at the time.  It had three bedrooms, only one bathroom and no air conditioning...

but none of that mattered because we had two porches. Those porches that shaped my childhood.

Gold and Gray Stenciled Bedroom

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Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of creating a large, multi-toned stencil for the bedroom of my friend, Sadie.  Sadie is English by birth, a floral designer by trade and a fellow lover of all things vintage.  Her bedroom is an eclectic mix of things that she loves and which tell the story of her life so, when she asked me to stencil it for her, I knew that the stencil that she had chosen would be gorgeous....even before I saw it.

Spring Shade Garden 2015

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Hello! Oh my gosh, it feels like it has been forever since I've had the time to write.  It has been a whirlwind two weeks. We celebrated Mother's Day a week early by spending a day working in the yard at my mom and dad's home because I had to fly to Atlanta for business on the "real" Mother's Day.

Easy Chocolate Lace Cake Decorations with SugarVeil

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As some of you know, Saturday was my oldest son's birthday.  I've always baked a cake (or pie, when requested) of their choosing for their special day.  This year, instead of what has become the tradition of home made cheesecake, he requested, "vanilla layer cake with vanilla buttercream icing". Simple, right? Sure....and boring so I decided to add some dark chocolate lace decorations as a surprise.

Non-Slip Yarn and Cloth Covered Hanger Tutorial and a Story About Closets

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Today, I'm going to show you how to create non-slip yarn or fabric covered wire hangers. They're beautiful, nearly free, and a necessity in my home. Why, you ask? Have you ever hung up a sleeveless dress or blouse only to find it on the floor of the closet the next time you were going to wear it?

A Quick Hello, More Farmhouse "Parts" and a French "Lady"

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I've been a little quiet lately here on the blog.  Part of that is because my full time job has been crazy busy as our company is preparing to migrate to a new computer system and my department is involved.  I'll be spending a week in Atlanta for training in the beginning of May and am hoping to do a little farmhouse shopping while I'm there as well. 

Pastel Spring EDIBLE Easter Table Decorating

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I can't believe that it's Easter! It snuck up on me this year! So much so that I honestly had no idea how I was going to decorate my Easter table until four days ago. This year, my Easter table decorating is pastel colored...and edible!

Furniture Makeover Tutorial: Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint and Paper Napkin Decoupage

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Today I'd like to show you a new way to use an old technique to brighten up painted furniture. I used printed paper napkins as a part of the makeover for this customer piece.  The flowers and butterflies on the Miss Mustard Seed milk paint table above are paper napkins which have been decoupaged onto the piece using Mod Podge. 

Easy DIY Peter Rabbit Spring Wreath Door Decoration

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This year, my spring front door wreath decoration is different from what I usually create. Instead of spring flowers, I chose faux vegetables and when I'm thinking about spring and vegetables, there's only one story that comes to mind....the one about a large vegetable garden and a pesky little bunny named Peter Rabbit. This wreath is an easy DIY that took exactly ten minutes to assemble.

Recycled Baby Food Jar Easter Chick Candy Holder

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Yes, there is a yellow pom pom Easter chick candy holder made from a recycled baby food jar in the photo above. And YES, it is wearing a sparkly gold glitter crown.  Why? 

                                                                                                                                   Well.....why not?!

Reader Painted Furniture DIY Help #2: Maureen's Chalk Painted French Linen Armoire Cabinet

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The second reader painted furniture piece in this year's series is Maureen's armoire. To tell you the truth, I wondered if someone would have an armoire to paint this year after Nancy's  fabulous armoire which we transformed using ASCP Provence with dark wax, last year so I was really excited when Maureen messaged me about her pine cupboard. 

If you haven't seen Nancy's cabinet, you really should (click the link above to view the original post). It's one of my most popular painted furniture projects with over 7,500 pins and shares to date!

Reader Painted Furniture DIY Help #1: Elaine's ASCP French Table Makeover

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It's that time of year again! No, not spring...I thought that it was going to be spring last week when the temperatures climbed into the upper sixties for a day...but then it snowed again yesterday.  I'm referring to my annual Free Help With YOUR painted furniture Project offer.

Farmhouse Renovation and A Story About Towels

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Have you ever had one of those days?
                                                                  One where you were just done?