7th House on the Left

Pull Up A Chair

posted by Ashley  /  33 Comments

First of all, we so appreciate all of the virtual love and support from you guys when we posted our last post! The comments, emails and messages have meant so much. Thank you for sticking in there with us!

You know how like a million years ago, we were trying to decide on chairs for our new dining room table? Well, after months and months – seven to be exact – we finally have dining chairs. And we can have people over for a real dinner again! Cue: the corniest version of Funkytown America’s “Celebrate Good Times”.

Dining Room / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I’m going to go ahead and apologize for the weird lighting in these photos! That’s what I get for trying to take pictures at noon! The room still looks a little sparse; although I want to keep things simple and not make it too busy. Two things I’m on the hunt for right now: 1. Some sort of simple modern green/plant/floral decor to go down the center of the table – channeling my inner Joanna Gaines. 2. An old, beat up, black (or almost black) guitar to hang on the wall in the corner – something that looks like it would go in Deacon Claybourne’s house.

Back to the chairs. I love. these. chairs. So does Greg, but I was the one with the squeals of “Don’t you just love theeeeeeese?!” for weeks after we got them. Okay, I may still do that from time to time. Maybe not everyday, but every time I walk through the dining area, my heart is happy. That, my friends, is what happens when you picked the right piece of furniture for your home.

Restoration Hardware Dining Chair Pairing / 7thhouseontheleft.com

As I mentioned when we bought the dining room table, I was dead set on waiting until we found the perfect chairs and were completely positive they were the ones. After a lot of going back and forth (because that’s what decorating is like is casa de Brown), we finally decided on classic industrial side chairs paired with upholstered classic modern chairs on the ends. (The Remy Side Chair in Burnished Steel and the Sloan Armchair in Weathered Oak Driftwood / Belgian Linen / Sand – both from Restoration Hardware).

Restoration Hardware Dining Table / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I’ve got to be honest, at first I was a really apprehensive about the metal side chairs. Sure, they look cool but I wanted chairs where our friends and family would be comfortable enough to easily spend hours sitting around the table playing games and talking. Therefore, whenever these chairs would come up in my search, I’d disregard them as an option. It wasn’t until after our church bought these for our meeting table when I realized they were actually pretty comfortable. They don’t sit at all like you’d think a metal chair would and I can attest to the fact that they’re great long conversation chairs.

When we purchased them, Restoration Hardware was having one of their Friends & Family Sale (20% off everything, including sale items). The chairs were marked down from $139 each to $99 each. With the sale, we were able to get them for $79 each. If you’re following the math, that’s a savings of $60 per chair! They have similar chairs on Overstock and at Target, but they aren’t as good of quality and aren’t as large as these. But, the ones at Overstock and Target were more expensive. So, this was a great deal.

Dining Room Chairs / 7thhouseontheleft.com

As for the upholstered beauties, I love the classic meets modern look of these. They’re kind of like a modern take on a wingback – which really spoke to my and Greg’s personal styles. Exceptionally comfortable and cozy, these chairs just had us at hello. They’re 43.5″ high, making them about 6.5″ taller than the side chairs. So, they’re large enough to look more “substantial” than the side chairs, but not too huge so that it looks out of place or overpowering for our living/dining room combo area. In the words of Goldilocks, they’re just right.

With the 20% off for the RH Friends & Family sale, we were able to save a good amount on these chairs as well, though they were still pretty pricey as fast as dining chairs go. However, with dining room chairs, we’ve found that you get what you pay for. By mixing the more expensive chair with a less expensive chair, we got a look we really love.

Dining Room / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Oh, and while I’m at it, a dining table update! (For more about our dining room table, check out this post!) As for sealing the table top (we still get questions about that a lot), we have yet to pull the trigger. So far, the table has held up beautifully and we really haven’t felt a huge need to seal it. We don’t have kids, so there aren’t a ton of spills and messes going on around our neck of the woods. Though, all of our friends have small kids, so we’ve had a few small spills here and there, but there hasn’t been any damage at all. The table is so rustic that is there was, I don’t think you’d notice it anyway. (‘Tis one of the perks of having a rustic dining table.) On the other hand, if it was sealed, I would probably relax a little better when we eat and have game nights. The main thing I inwardly freak out about are drink rings. So, that being said, we’ll probably end up sealing it at some point in the future. But for now, it’s doing just fine.

Back to Black

posted by Ashley  /  55 Comments

Last week I was walking through the foyer and realized that whenever I walk through that little area, something just bugs me. Like, a lot. It doesn’t make me happy; it just stresses me out. I’ve never felt this area to be “done” nor have I ever really “loved loved” what we put together during what seemed to be a whirlwind of a project. It’s been a good temporary solution while we spent some time realizing what we really wanted to do. Really, I was just happy to have anything at all filling up the otherwise empty area. The foyer isn’t big by any means, but it can still house a small table just fine. I’m currently on the lookout for something to replace the existing one, and I’m thinking about finding a new home for the lamp (either in our house our someone else’s house entirely – not sure yet).

Foyer (Part 1) / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I look at that and immediately think “circus”. To be honest, I’m still not totally sure how to get the “circus” feeling out of this area. All I know at the moment is I love the pendant light fixture (it makes more of a statement in person) and the sliver of a gallery wall to the right of the door. That’s about it. Everything else is on the chopping block. Since we took this picture, I’ve moved the basket under the table to the living room and taken the books on the top shelf back to my office. The vintage umbrella stand is now being used as wrapping paper storage (which makes me happy every time I see it), and the rug is currently folded up the foyer closet. I really do like the rug, and might even bring it back later somewhere else in the house. But for now, it’s just too much for my mind to handle.

Realizing how much frustration this little area has been causing me, I mentioned to Greg that I thought we needed to bring the foyer down a notch and start over. So, being the oh-so-thoughtful husband that he is, he pulled out a paint brush and the same paint we used on the two back doors (Black Suede by Behr) and got to work. About three hours later (including two coats and drying time), our front door now has a new, classier, lease on life.

Door Color: Black Suede by Behr / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Even though all we’ve done is paint the door and move the rug, it already feels less “trend shack” and a little more on the subdued and classic side of the spectrum. Since the umbrella stand isn’t there anymore, I’m thinking about picking up a few more frames to bring the gallery wall sliver down to the floor to make it look a bit more finished. We’re also contemplating getting some chunky aged brass door hardware. Greg actually came up with that idea, and I think it will make the hardware stand out nicely against the new, dark color.

All of that to say… sometimes we make mistakes, and guess what? That’s okay. We just scale it back, pick out what we actually like, take a breather and start over. I’ve got to be honest and say it’s quite a bit nerve-wracking to make mistakes on the internet for thousands and thousands of people to see. You’d think after blogging for three years, I’d be over that by now, but, I’m not quite there yet. Hopefully you guys will continue to stick with us as we live and learn.

Even though we aren’t quite sure what direction this foyer will go in the future, here are a few inspiring spaces that we’re really digging:

Foyer Inspiration / 7thhouseontheleft.com

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

These inspiration photos are classy, grown-up, and as far from circus-like as possible. On top of that, have the whole rustic/modern thing going on we love so much. We definitely want to incorporate some fun eclectic accents mixed in here and there, but we’re going to be much more selective this time around. We shall see where that takes us!

Q: Hi Greg and Ashley, My husband and I are currently trying to decide on a kitchen cabinet route to go with our kitchen remodel. I’ve always loved Kraftmaid and heard great things, but recent research has led us both to a lot of negative reviews about the quality the cabinets and paint finish. Would you share your experience? Are you still happy with your cabinets all this time later? Would you go with Kraftmaid again? Thanks for any info! -Kara

A: This question has been coming up a lot in our mailbox lately, so we thought we’d dedicate a post to our kitchen cabinets. Before I delve right in, let me preface this by saying, we have no connection with Kraftmaid and this is 100% our honest opinion about our experience with our cabinets. That said, the honesty part is true of all of our posts. This post is going to try to be pretty comprehensive – we’re trying to make it the post we wish we’d have read when shopping around for cabinets ourselves.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Before we get to what we think about them now (a little over two years later), I guess we should do a quick rundown of the cabinet designing/ordering/installation process…

Once we finally decided on going with KraftMaid cabinets (more on the decision process here), the first thing we did was meet with a kitchen designer at our local Lowe’s. After a quick consultation in the store, he came to our house, took measurements and listened to our ideas/wants/wishes. We already had a layout in our heads, so he took down all of our notes and put together a rendering for us to look over.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

He emailed us the initial renderings, and we made notes on what we loved, liked and didn’t like, let our thoughts and opinions simmer for a few days, then went back into Lowe’s for another meeting to finalize the layout. The cost to have the kitchen design put together and priced out was $90. However, since we ended up actually purchasing the cabinets from Lowe’s, that cost was deducted from the final cost of the cabinets.

I think the overall cabinet-buying experience can have a lot to do with the sales person (or “kitchen designer”) you deal with when you plan out your kitchen and order your cabinets. You get to know them, they’ll call you often throughout the process for questions and updates, and they are who you turn to when you have questions or concerns. We were lucky enough to score a really great guy to work with. He was extremely personable, fun and knew his stuff. The only snags that came up (if you even want to call them that), were some design differences when it came to the bookshelf on the end of the peninsula and leaving space for the floating shelves next to the window above the sink. He tried to talk me out of both design elements multiple times. As for Greg, he was down with whatever I chose when it came to making the kitchen less “cookie cutter” and more unique. Those two ideas were a bit out of the norm, so I totally get where he was coming from. I’m sure he has some crazy requests now and then and just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t regret our off-beat decisions later. When it was all said and done, I stuck to my guns and he respected my decision. About a year or so later, I ran into him at Lowe’s. He said he saw our kitchen in Better Homes & Gardens’ Kitchen & Bath Makeovers magazine, and he wished they would have featured a photo of the “awesome bookshelf in the peninsula.” So, I think that means I won him over in the end, haha.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

At the same meeting when we finalized the layout, we also chose our cabinet style and finishes. We went with the Dove White finish and the square recessed panel door style (aka shaker door). For hardware, which at the time was “free” with the purchase of the cabinets, we chose the Aged collection.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

If I recall correctly, the cabinets ended up arriving a few days (if not a week) early. That was fine since our kitchen was empty and waiting for the huge mountain of boxes, but our installers weren’t available for another two weeks. So, we had to maneuver around the monstrosity above a little longer than anticipated – but it didn’t really bother us.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The decision to have a pro install the cabinets was worth every single penny. In our case, they were installed by a local company subcontracted by Lowe’s. For this part of the process, we really just left that area of the house alone and let them do their work. I actually had just returned home from having surgery the day before they came, so I ended up staying at my mom and dad’s house hopped up on pain meds while the chaos was going on. Now, looking back, I think that was a blessing in disguise. I would have probably been a nervous wreck and wanting to watch everything going on. So if you’re having cabinets installed and have any Dilaudid around… no, I’m TOTALLY kidding. Do not do that. Seriously though, just get out of the house, take the dog to the park, go get your hair cut and colored, do some retail therapy… you get the gist.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Larry and his team came and put the entire kitchen together in a matter of two or three days. We had a piece of trim missing from our order (it belonged on the ceiling right above the peninsula), which came in about two weeks after the cabinets were “done”. Once the tiling was done, Larry came back to install the missing trim pieces, as well as the other trim pieces that had to be removed for the tiling. If you’re having countertop-to-ceiling tile installed (like we did), just remind your installation guy to not put on the cabinet trim pieces that touch the wall until the tiling is done. We didn’t realize that would be an issue at the time, so the tile guy had to take the trim pieces off and the cabinet guy had to come back and reattach them. Once that was done, everything was “done”.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

QUALITY // Structurally, we’ve had no problems whatsoever. Everything is just as sound, sturdy and solid as the day they were installed. Aside from a handle or two getting loose – a problem easily solved with a quick turn of a screwdriver – we’ve had absolutely zero functional problems with the cabinets.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

As far as cosmetic issues, we’ve had one issue that we’re in the process of fixing. In the sink cabinet, the center mullion (Greg looked up the term so we wouldn’t have to call it “the thingy that goes between the doors in the middle”) is just a little too long. Unfortunately, this has caused some paint chipping. This might have something to do with the installation, I’m not completely sure, but the good news is that we were told it’s covered by the warranty. As long as you own your home, KraftMaid will guarantee your cabinetry to be free from defects in material and/or workmanship under normal residential usage.

The only other little thing that has come across our radar is that we wish the doors were soft-close like the drawers. Kraftmaid has since added the Whisper Touch soft-close feature to the doors, so if you’re in the cabinet market now, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

COST // A lot of people have asked us how much our cabinets cost to see if the price they were given is “right”. The thing is, every kitchen is different, so we really can’t answer that question. The features like roll out shelves, cabinet-covered appliances, extra shelves, and bookcases all add up to a different price tag for different spaces. That said, the final price of our cabinets including installation was around $17,000.

Was it worth the money? Absolutely. Greg and I both think it’s important to invest in larger home purchases to ensure quality and longevity. In the long run, you’ll end up spending less money if you invest in something of higher quality upfront. This is especially true for kitchen cabinets, which are permanent (or semi-permanent, at least) fixtures in your house because once they’re in, it’s tough to change things later. Obviously, the cabinets were the most expensive aspect of our kitchen reinstall. The entire kitchen renovation totaled to approximately $28,000 – the cabinets taking up about 60% of the budget. The total (which includes everything from switch plate covers to appliances) is actually much lower than what we read online and in magazines. It’s also lower than the average kitchen gut-job renovation in our area, so we were happy with the final number.

Would we purchase KraftMaid cabinets again? Yep. We’ve been extremely pleased with the durability and quality. On top of that, all of the customizable options are crazy amazing. I literally drew what I wanted the bookshelf to look like, and they did it! It’s worth the extra money to get something that fits your wants/needs so that you can love your kitchen for years to come.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Going through this process ourselves, we have four bits of advice to pass along, in case you’re going to be tackling a similar project:

01 // As for getting started on the cabinet-buying process, we recommend meeting with a kitchen designer and giving them your absolute dream wish list of everything you hope and desire for your space. Then, when they come back with the design and the estimated sticker price, take away the things you can live without until you get to your target budget.

02 // If you have it in your budget, have the cabinets installed by a pro. Actually, I would even go as far to say make room for it in your budget. Even if you think you or someone you know is all DIY-savy and are handy with a nail gun… trust me. These guys do this every day. They’re familiar with the dos and don’ts, and you’ll save yourself some major headaches and possible repair costs down the road. We were definitely happier spending the extra money to have it done well and right the first time.

03 // When we had our initial rendering, I showed it to my mom and Grandma to get their input. After all, they’ve been doing the homeowner/cooking thing a lot longer that I have and I thought they’d have some good input – and they definitely did. Because of their advice, we moved a few cabinets around and changed out drawers for cabinet doors in one spot in particular, which turned out to make a huge difference in the productivity department. That said, entertaining too many opinions might hurt your decision-making process. Just pick the brains of the people closest to you, including that friend that is killing it with the organizational skills and ideas.

04 // Take the time to be absolutely, 100% sure you love your layout before you place your order. Once we decided on a layout, I was so excited to place the order and get the ball rolling. Greg talked me into waiting at least a week before placing the order. Even though I was like a kid waiting for Santa on the longest Christmas Eve ever, it was worth the wait because we made a few small tweaks, and I felt 100% confident when we said, “Go!” and wrote the check.

We hope this review helps you guys out there in the decision-making process. For a complete list of kitchen resources and more details, check out this post. To read aaaaaall of the posts having to do with the kitchen, click here or check out the Projects page for a list of the “meaty” kitchen reno posts.