Last month, we took back-to-back trips to the Washington coast and Oregon coast, with Ben's family and mine. The beaches in the PNW may not have palm trees, bright blue water, and white sand...but they do have their own stunning kind of beauty! Both vacations were really fun, and a good reminder that we don't have to go anywhere exotic to have a great time. We got our new camera right before we left, so I was kind of obsessed with taking pictures the whole time. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites here, in case any of you are planning a trip to the Washington or Oregon coast. It really is beautiful up here in the Northwest...come visit!
Our first trip was to the Washington coast with Ben's side of the family. It was Ian's first time seeing the ocean, and he was a little scared of the waves at first but he looooved the sand. We all stayed in a vacation rental near Ocean Shores, and took day trips to nearby attractions: Kalaloch, Ruby Beach, Lake Quinault Lodge, and Seabrook.
I loved this tree near Kalaloch, called "The Tree of Life" because it's tenaciously hanging on by its roots, and (amazingly) still alive even though the ground beneath it has washed out!
Ruby Beach has to be one of the most gorgeous beaches I've even seen, with all the seastacks and driftwood amidst the fog.
We also saw the world's largest Sitka spruce. There's a ton of rainfall on the Olympic Pensinsula, so it has tons of massive trees (and lots of waterfalls too).
Lake Quinault Lodge was lovely and charming. We just dropped by to check it out, but one day I'd like to stay here.
And I loved the town of Seabrook! It's a planned community, so it did feel a bit TOO perfect, almost like a movie set, but all the houses were just gorgeous and dreamy. Here's proof:
And those are only a few of my favorites. Picture-perfect, right?
On our way out, Ben and I stopped by La Push (it's the beach in Twilight if it sounds familiar, right by Forks). I had never been there before...it's beautiful! You can actually camp on the beach there--maybe someday.
After that, we headed to the Oregon Coast for vacation time with my side of the family! We stayed in another rental house, this time on the beach in Pacific City, OR.
It warmed my heart to see Ian spend time with his great-grandparents. He's the first great-grandchild (and grandchild) on my side of the family, so he got a lot of attention the whole time. ;)
We didn't do any day trips with my family since my grandparents aren't as mobile as they used to be, but it was nice to relax and kick back at the beach. We played a lot of games, built a giant sandcastle, flew kites, and went for walks. And Ben and my siblings did some boogie boarding and skimboarding too.
I can't believe how fast summer is going by! It feels like we just got back from this vacation, but it was actually a full month ago. And it's practically September already?! Say it ain't so!
We've owned our house for a little more than a month now, and I'm just getting around to posting pictures of it...FINALLY! I had originally planned to take some before pictures once our new camera arrived--but then some friends of ours needed a place to stay so we moved in a little sooner than planned. And then the house wasn't empty anymore and it was kind of messy (the way it is when you're in the middle of a move), so I kept putting off taking pictures until I could clean up. But the longer time went on, I started getting anxious about how I hadn't done a house tour yet sooooo I I had to remind myself that they're just BEFORE pictures anyways! I don't think anyone else gets stressed out about trying to get "the right kind" of before pictures, haha. I'm so weird! Anyways, I never had time to do a proper clean so you're seeing the house in a kind of embarrassing in-between state. We've moved in some stuff, but we haven't arranged everything the way we want, and we still have a lot of boxes in the garage, new furniture to buy, and art to hang on the walls. Promise me you'll look past all that stuff though, k?
Here she is!!! We've dreamed of buying a house for so long, it still feels super surreal to me that we actually DID it...we bought a house! I think some of you (especially those that have been reading this blog for awhile) may be surprised by the house we chose, because it's certainly not what I initially wanted. I've always loved old charmers from the early 1900s, and we looked at a LOT of them here in Spokane. But although we're not afraid of a few DIYs here and there, major house renovations are way outside of our skill level. My hope was to find a solid old house that was in good shape and didn't need anything major, but every one we looked at needed quite a bit of work--more than we're capable of taking on. So eventually I agreed to look at some newer houses with Ben (which is what he wanted from the start). And we found one we both agreed on! It's not a cute old character home, but it feels right for us and our stage of life. It needs the perfect type of work (all cosmetic stuff), it has a good layout, and there's plenty of space for future kids. If you remember the three choices I told you about...we chose the new-ish house!
Our favorite things about it are the vaulted ceilings, the natural light, the open layout (that we plan to make even more open), and the fact that it has no basement!!! Haha. After years of living in a daylight basement, we are just sooo ready for tall ceilings and big windows. The house also has a pretty big yard that feels private, is in an excellent school district, and--best of all--it has no major issues to fix! So we can jump right into the fun stuff.
The first thing we wasted no time in doing was new paint. Before, the whole house, including the ceilings, was tan (the color that's still in the bathrooms and extra bedrooms). We gave ourselves a clean, fresh start and went WHITE (Behr Ultra Pure White to be exact). I know most people who go from renting to buying are probably eager to paint any color but white, but we're weird and white walls are our favorite! At least we both agree on that. :) I thought painting would be no big deal and we could knock it out in a couple days before moving in (ha!), but it actually turned out to be quite the ordeal due to the super tall ceilings in our entryway and living area. We finally figured out how to do it safely, without having to perch precariously on a ladder. The key is an extendable pole! All the effort was worth it--I love how clean and bright it is now.
The next thing we want to do is tear down the weird wall in the living room (above) that's clearly not a support wall since it doesn't even go up to the ceiling. That will give us more an open concept kitchen, which I like. The kitchen's pretty dark right now and I'm not a fan of the wood cabinets. They're actually decent quality so maaaaybe we could reface them...but I also want to change the layout (why is the sink in the corner?!) so maybe not. We'd also like to cut a window in the back wall and put a big farmhouse sink under it--so we can see the backyard while we're cooking or washing dishes. And I want Shaker style cabinets, new hardware, and pretty quartz countertops. I'm chomping at the bit to get the kitchen remodel going, but Ben wants to wait and live in the house for awhile first. Soooo I'm currently measuring, dreaming, pinning, and pricing out different options so I'm ready to go when he gives me the green light. If you have any kitchen remodel advice, please share!
Further down the priority list, I also want to remodel all the bathrooms. We have three full baths (which is great!), but they all look pretty dated: tub-shower combos, honey wood cabinets, builder basic tile, and laminate counters.
Here's bathroom one,
bathroom two ,
and bathroom three...see, don't they all look the same? Definitely not my style, but at least they function just fine, so we can save up to remodel them without any real urgency.
This is our master bedroom. We painted it white, but we still have a lot to do. As you can see, our mattress is currently on the floor...I'm hoping to get a new bed, dresser, and nightstands soon! I also want to paint the rest of the bedrooms (we have four total), which will probably happen sooner than later. A couple of them are prepped and ready, I'm just trying to decide if I want to go white in there as well, or if I want to do color in the extra bedrooms. After all, there's already a lot of white in our house!
One of my favorite spaces right now is the dining room. I love the French doors, and the arched doorway that leads to it. It's not a huge space though, so once we tear down the wall between the kitchen and living room, I might move our dining table there and put a smaller round table here.
We also have a family room for the first time, which is exciting! This will probably be a den/kid's play room. We still need furniture, and we eventually want to replace the laminate flooring too (I hate how shiny it is, and it has some bubbling and damage).
Lastly, we have a backyard!!! Yayyyyy. The previous owners left us a kid's playset and wooden playhouse, which was a nice bonus. Ian has enjoyed having his very own swing, and I have plans to paint that playhouse and make it cuter.
The yard is pretty much our last priority right now, but eventually we want to make it more our style...a new patio, hot tub, outdoor seating and string lights, etc. You can see some of my inspiration here.
Besides all the major to-dos, there's also lots of decorating that I'm excited to get started on: lighting fixtures to switch out (so many boob lights!!!), window treatments to choose and hang, rugs and furniture to buy, and decorative accessories to add the finishing touches. The plan is to take things slowly, though, so we're not just filling rooms with stuff for the sake of it.
After FIVE months of living in limbo (thanks Mom & Dad!) it's soooo nice to have our own space again...and it's even better that we OWN it and can change whatever we want!
What do you guys think? Did we make the right choice with the new-ish house? I'm sure I'll always feel a little twinge when I see a gorgeous old house for sale, but I'm also enjoying the peace of mind with knowing that our electrical, plumbing, and foundation are all up to today's standards. And while our house is pretty "builder basic" right now, I know we'll add more character as we remodel and decorate it. Can't wait to get started, and I'll be sure to blog about our progress!
P.S. Just for fun, here's the wish list we made when we started house hunting a year ago. We did pretty good! Obviously, moving to a less expensive area is what made that possible, but I'm pleasantly surprised when I see how many of our wish list items this house actually checks off.
This post is sponsored by KEH Camera. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are included, and I will receive commission for any sales generated through these links.
I mentioned in my last post that I've been working on upgrading my camera. It's something I've wanted to do for so long--ever since I learned the difference between a full frame camera and a crop sensor! My Canon 60D has been a trusty sidekick and a good camera to learn on, but the tight crop makes it hard to get photos of small rooms and candid shots of people. I always have to back up really far. Plus, my friend Corlana (who is a legit photographer) has a camera that lets her send photos directly to her phone. Once she showed me that feature, I was convinced! I might be justifying here, but I honestly think that will motivate me to take more photos with my big camera instead of my phone. Which is one of my goals for the year! So it's totally worth it right??? Think of all the beautiful photos I'll take of our children throughout the years! All the precious memories we'll capture! (Can you tell I've been working on Ben?) I finally convinced him to let me upgrade to a full frame, on the condition that I sell our current camera to offset some of the costs.
So when KEH Camera reached out to me about selling a used camera with them and documenting the process, I was like, "it's a sign! let's do this!" They are the world’s largest provider of used cameras and photography equipment, and they make the process super easy and convenient. And the prices were totally fair--actually, a little better than I expected after doing a little comparative online research.
All you do is enter the gear you have to sell, then select what items are included (battery, charger, etc.) and the condition according to their grading system. It lets you know what their estimated price is, and you decide whether you'd accept a lower price if they determine it's in a lower condition. You can also opt to have your gear shipped back for free if that's the case.
KEH also gives you an extra 5% if you choose to receive your payment as a gift card. Since we were planning to get a new camera anyways, we decided to do that. Then we checked out, downloaded the packing list and shipping label, boxed up the gear, and sent it on its way! No arranging meetings with strangers from Craigslist, no wasting time on potential buyers that don't pan out, and no paying for shipping. Pain free!
I just got my gift card last week and wasted no time in ordering the camera I wanted (a Canon 6D). I'll keep you posted on how it turns out buying a used camera! Overall, I would say the selling experience was super positive, easy, and straightforward--and I love that it was all online. If you're thinking of selling or upgrading your camera gear, or if you're looking for deals and you're open to used items...definitely check out KEH! From now through the 31st, you can get 7% off your order with the code LUCKY7 as well. Depending on what you're getting, that 7% can be pretty significant.
Anyways, I hope this review was helpful for some of you. I can't wait for my new camera to arrive!
I know I still haven't posted pictures of the house we bought! I'm in the process of trading in my camera, so all I have so far are some dark iPhone photos. We're currently working on painting all the common areas white, which is taking longer (and way more paint) than I thought it would. Lesson learned: if you're going white on top of a dark color...double the amount of paint that the online calculators say you're gonna need. Especially if you're hitting the ceilings too. I think this process has confirmed that we're glad we didn't get a major fixer-upper, because even painting is getting us overwhelmed, exhausted and impatient. Can we be done and move in already?!? Haha.
While I'm waiting, I've been collecting lots of inspiration. It's fun to look through my old pins with the lens of what we're actually working with, and see what could be possible in our own house. It's definitely not "there" yet, but I see the vision. All these photos are more to do with space planning, and less with the actual decor.
Living Room: The best thing about our living room is the tall vaulted ceiling and big windows. I think it would be cool to add some faux box beams to emphasize the ceiling, kinda like this house photographed by Jessica Comingore. But I can't decide if this is just a trend or if we'll actually like the beams long-term. Is it silly to add beams when they're not really needed for structure?
Dining Room: We currently have two possibilities for the dining room. One is a small space connected to the kitchen, more like a dining nook. It could fit a round table (similar to this space via Decor8), which would be perfect for family dinners.
However, we already have a large rectangular dining table and I like using it for bigger dinner parties and game nights. So our other option is to put that table in the same space as the living room. We eventually want to open up the kitchen, so it will make more sense then (like a big great room), but it might be kind of weird until we do that. I'm thinking about doing both options--a small dining nook/kitchen table AND the bigger dining table for when we have people over. But I also want to eventually have a kitchen island with barstools. Is that too many eating areas???
Image via Lonny
Kitchen: Which brings me to the kitchen!!! This is the space I'm most excited to remodel. It's going to make such a big difference. Right now, our kitchen is closed off by a half wall, which we want to tear down. That will open the kitchen up to the living room, and make it so much more spacious and light. This kitchen by House*Tweaking is similar to the layout that I'm thinking...an L-shaped kitchen with an island. We also have dutch doors off to the right that open to the backyard.
As for style, I've always loved white kitchens, but since the whole house will be painted white...maybe we need to paint the island a color? Or do darker lower cabinets? I love the combination of white, soft green, and marble in Sarah Sherman Samuel's kitchen.
The backyard: This is another space I'm extremely excited to make our own. It's our first ever backyard!!! It's actually a pretty good backyard with cherry trees, lilacs, lavender, peonies, and more plants and trees that I don't recognize. But there's also some weird landscaping with a lot of rocks, and a Trex deck that's been torn up by the previous owner's dog. Eventually, I would like to make a brick or concrete patio that leads out from the dutch doors, then put an outdoor seating area, an outdoor dining table, and a hot tub on it. And hang some string lights of course!
Those are some of the main spaces I've been thinking about so far (all the common areas). We also need to set up the laundry room, furnish the bedrooms, and (eventually) renovate the bathrooms. So there's a lot of work ahead! It's gonna be fun...