Filed under: house

holiday cheer

A few weeks ago, we went with some friends to the National Forest to cut down our own Christmas tree (after obtaining a permit of course). Usually we just buy one at the small lot near our house, but we were up for the challenge.

Or so we thought.


I guess I thought we’d drive in, spot a tree, cut in down and then be on our way. Instead, it ended up being a drive and a hike. Since I was wearing Avery in the Ergo, I opted not to climb the steep hillside (where the better trees were, naturally) and instead stood in the snow/rain with our friend’s tarp draped over me and an increasingly fussy toddler. (Making family memories!)


But my mood lifted when I saw this guy come down the hill.


I’m not sure why, but we always tend to go for a Charlie Brown tree and this one is no exception. Also, one strand of lights, gotta love that. To make it fit we had to push the couch over and put it on a small side table, which I think also helped as a toddler deterrent (although she’s been really great about not touching the tree). Growing up, we always had an eclectically decorated tree and I’m carrying the tradition on. We try to buy a new ornament each year and I have a few that my mom passed on during a purge a few years ago (and they’re 80’s fabulous, which is the best).


Other than the tree, we did a little decorating here and there. The moose are new this year and were bought at Crate&Barrel.



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My mom gave me this little craft store advent calendar last year and it’s been fun to count down the days with Avery. Although really, she has no idea what’s going on and often reacts with a blank stare.

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Finally, Mr. Bails – still not a fan of the reindeer antlers.

Merry Christmas and happiest holidays to all of you! We’re certainly looking forward to it. Even though Avery doesn’t really get Christmas yet, she has a few surprises sitting in my office that I’m pretty excited about.

master bedroom redo: wall color options

Yesterday, I painted swatches of the four bluish-gray colors we’re considering for the bedroom walls.


(They are, from left to right: “silver streak”, “eclipse”, “smoke gray” and “ashland slate”. All Benjamin Moore.)

Drastic differences, huh? Kyle and I laughed at the idea of a serious blog post about what color we should choose (though it’s not as comical as our choices for Avery’s nursery!), especially given that colors can vary from monitor to monitor. But, if you do have an opinion feel free to weigh in! (At this point, we don’t have a clear favorite.) Back in 2008 we painted the room white because it only has one window (north-facing) and tends to feel darker than the rest of the house. However, after living with it for a few years we’ve decided to embrace the lack of light and go more cave-mode. We love how cozy Avery’s room feels, but decided to lighten things up a bit for this space.

We’re going to give it a few days before we make a decision, but anything will be an improvement over the yellow-tinged white paint that’s there now. (Lesson learned, never buy off-the-shelf “white” paint.) Slowly but surely we’re chipping away at this room. Maybe a post-Thanksgiving bedroom charrette? What could be better!?

(Painting these swatches reminded us of our first go-around with picking colors for this room. Yikes, our house was scary.)

checking in

Somehow, we’re always busy. In the past, busy meant working on the house weeknights and weekends – often staying up late to upload photos and share our progress on the blog. Nowadays, even though we’re still working on the house (sloooowly), we’re working on Studio Zerbey more. And that work doesn’t necessarily translate to direct blog posts.

(Oh, you did want to read a summary of interior insulation options for mass masonry wall assemblies?)


Actually, I have several blog post ideas floating around in my head, but they are either time-consuming or not quite ready for showtime. I’ve also been reluctant to write a “we’re still alive!” post, but here it is. We’re still alive! Our one year anniversary of starting Studio Zerbey (formally, as a team) is this month and I’ve been thinking of writing a series of posts that talk about what we’re working on, what it’s like running our own business and how we strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance. We also have some new Studio Zerbey projects in the works that we’ll be sharing in the next few weeks.


…and behold, we are still making progress on the bedroom!


We haven’t made a decision on paint color, but I’ve narrowed it down to 50 4 shades of gray. Now I just need to get sample quarts and see how the colors look in the space. (We’re thinking something in the mid-tones.) And a big thank you to all the feedback we received on our last post – we’re leaning towards option 3 but are still undecided on a few elements.


Avery and I took a short trip to the east coast last weekend and when I came back a new headboard was waiting for me! This is a teaser shot, but we’re really happy with how it turned out. Of course, we’ll have to take it back out to paint and such, but we’re enjoying it in the meantime. (I’ll take photos and give a full run-down of how it’s fabricated in a later post.)

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Finally, we’ve also been busy with a certain toddler. Avery is walking all over the place and generally very busy doing busy toddler things. She was too young to get into Halloween last year, so this was our first attempt at trick-or-treating. (And because she’s only 15 months old, her candy = our candy! Yesssss!)

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We kept it simple and went to our neighborhood’s downtown area, but she was understandably overwhelmed by it all. It wasn’t until we got home and gave her a few bites of candy that she put two and two together. Sugar rush, weeeeeee!

master bedroom redo: making plans

Well, it’s been about 8 months since we first talked about redoing the master bedroom and in that time we’ve been able to accomplish…approximately nothing. (Besides lots of thinking about the bedroom, which I suppose counts for something!)


But we’re not giving up! Our plan is to make all the decisions and buy all the materials up front (what a concept!) and then just knock it out in a weekend (plus or minus a few days). Now that we host client meetings in our house, sleeping on a mattress in our living room might not be the best idea. (Although, I’m sure Avery and Bailey would love it.)

So, in the spirit of moving forward and making progress, I assembled three different “idea boards” for colors/materials/products/etc. Really, I’m just trying to establish a direction that we can get excited about. You’ll notice some elements that are consistent throughout and that’s because we have made decisions on a few things, including:

+ Flooring: in 2008, we refinished the original fir floors but they were really never that nice and have since been trashed (ahem, Bailey) again. So last spring we bought these Flor carpet tiles on sale. (Psst, I just noticed Flor is having a big sale right now!) They look a little darker in the photos but the thing I like is that they have hints of gray, blue and brown so should easily match any direction we go with. To save money, we plan on installing them as a “reverse area rug” of sorts, omitting any tiles that would be completely under the bed.
+ Bedding: the downside to owning a CA king is that it’s hard to find sheets. We have one set of light blue/gray ones that we plan on working with for the time being. We also recently bought a new dark blue/gray duvet cover from IKEA. I haven’t had the best luck with IKEA duvets in the past, but I must say I’m impressed with this one so far (and it was much more affordable than similar versions I’ve seen). Although I don’t own it yet, I’ve also been eyeing these coverlets from West Elm. I admit I’m partial to the yellow but think any color could work.
+ Headboard: the plan is make a built-in headboard from a sheet of maple plywood (which is currently residing in our shop).
+ Lighting: we plan on keeping the Artemide Tolomeo sconces and Modern Fan Co. fan/light combo.
+ Wardrobe: the IKEA PAX wardrobe will be staying but in lieu of adding custom doors (an idea we’d been tossing around) we plan on replacing the existing brown curtains and IKEA tension rod with something new and more functional.
+ Chair: I have a simple IKEA chair (that we bought in the as-is section years ago) that I use as a glorified clothes holder. (Y’know, for the stuff that needs to be hung back up.) It was pretty beat up when we bought it (for $5 I think?) and I don’t necessarily need to replace it, but then I saw this West Elm chair that Dana put in her bedroom and I WANT. Again, maybe it’s ridiculous since I rarely sit in this chair, but I’m thinking we could use it as extra seating when we have big groups over for dinner? (Also, Kyle says I’m good at rationalizing.)
+ Walls: part of the original motivation to redo the bedroom was that we hated our off-the-shelf “white” walls. First we thought we’d repaint to match the rest of the house (BM’s “Super White”) but we love the dark walls of the nursery so much that we’re now thinking more in that direction (though a bit lighter or less saturated perhaps).

Anyway, design options!


Funny enough, the biggest design obstacle I’m having with this space is NIGHTSTANDS. I feel like I have searched and searched (as seen on my Pinterest board for this room) but have yet to find the right thing. The nightstands shown in this first scheme are IKEA, but the actual color is a much brighter yellow and not quite the vibe we’re going with here.

I’m also still hunting for fabric for the wardrobe curtains (I’m thinking fabric will be a better route as standard curtain widths aren’t quite enough). I found this pattern on Tonic Living. In my mind we’ll do something with a small print and some color (but not too much!) so maybe this could work. I think whatever fabric we choose will help determine the wall color – in this scheme I’m thinking a lighter (yet warmer) gray to compliment the darker gray in the fabric. (The pillow is West Elm.)


In this second scheme, I chose a brighter, more playful curtain fabric (also from Tonic Living) with a more blue-gray wall color and these end tables from Target (which I think may be too blue in real life). In general, we like to use color for accessories and other elements that are easily changeable (like curtains and free-standing furniture), but color also tends to become a focal point so making the right decision can be tricky.


The third scheme delves a bit more into neutral territory, but there’s something calming about it. The curtains (we’d had to buy 4 panels) are from Crate&Barrel and the pillow is from West Elm. I found the nightstand on Makers Alley. (Anyone ever purchased something from there? I hadn’t heard of it before.) The concept is similar to our current nightstands (discontinued Offi TV stands that no longer fit with our bigger bed) and I like that, but I’m also thinking it could also be a DIY project. Though with the maple plywood headboard as a backdrop, I think I’d be inclined to make the box part a color. I suppose the good news in all of this is that nightstands are the one thing that could be added later.

So this is where we’re at. Design-minded friends, what do you think? Maybe there are some more options out there that we have overlooked? I would say we could go ahead and get started but I feel like we need to have a fabric or curtain picked out before we commit to a wall color. Oh, and then there are accessories and artwork. One step at a time.

FYI – I’m not being paid by anyone for the content in this post. Just hours and hours of good ol’ fashioned brainstorming and interweb searching.

the new fridge

Back in 2010 when we were remodeling our kitchen, Kyle asked if we should consider getting a bigger refrigerator. At the time, I’m sure I rolled my eyes and told him that our 4 year-old fridge was perfectly fine and super energy-efficient and took up so little space at only 24″ wide.

So that was that.

Fast forward 3 years and we now have a new, “I told you so” refrigerator. Ok, so the old one (a Vestfrost/Summit model that we sold quickly on Craigslist) was still working fine but it was starting to get cramped. Turns out, when you have a kiddo and work from home, you eat at home a lot more. Gone are the days of swinging by a coffee shop on the way to work or grabbing a sandwich at the deli around the corner. In other words, I eventually caved. So we went to our local appliance store (Albert Lee Appliance) to scope out what was available. We were specifically looking for counter-depth options that were 30″ wide and surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot to choose from. But it didn’t matter – in our hearts I think we knew which fridge we coveted more than any other.

Yes, we are architects and yes, we got the Liebherr [insert cliché here]. Or, as I like to say (with dramatic flair), Leeeebeeeerrrr.


But first, let’s back up to early September when our kitchen looked like this. Yeah. (By the way, all of the process photos were taken with my iPhone. Sorry about that.)


Getting the actual fridge and installing it was the least of our problems. First we had to tackle expanding the existing opening by 6″, which meant trimming the base board and metal ledge and detaching the pantry and sliding it down 6″. Naturally, there was an outlet that needed moving too.


…and then there was drywall patching (not pictured) and filling in cork tiles. Oh, and the new fridge has an ice maker(!!) so there was that water line that needed to be installed too.



Yes, the cork has obviously faded (that’s a whole other blog post).


I know Bailey, I know. The only saving grace in this whole ordeal is that back in 2010 Kyle had had the forethought to install the fir plywood panels in a way that would make a future expansion feasible. The panels that run along the top of the cabinets are actually one long panel to the left of the fridge and one short panel over the fridge and pantry. Therefore, only the small panel had to be replaced (the vertical panel remained attached to the side of the pantry). Bonus – we even had an extra sheet of fir plywood in the shop.


After the new piece of plywood was finished and installed (Kyle did a biscuited connection to the existing horizontal panel and then a glued connection where it sits on the vertical panel), it was time for a new piece of edgebanding.

Edgebanding is basically a thin veneer of wood with an adhesive on the backside that is applied using the heat of an iron.


It’s purpose? To cover things like this:



The banding went on easily, thank goodness.


After it had set, Kyle used a chisel to trim the excess off the top.


A little sanding, a coat of finish (yet to happen) and we’ll be done.

I didn’t have the patience to wait for the coat of finish (this project has stretched out long enough as it is!), so here you go. Looks like it was always there, right?


The handles, the handles!


Kyle used his metal cutting chop saw to trim the ledge. Six inches of fridge for six inches of art seemed like a good trade.


The inside is smartly designed too. I love that we can put gallon size containers in the door. (Also, don’t judge us on all of the beverages – we had friends over for fish tacos last weekend.) 🙂


Oh, hello big beautiful produce drawer.


The freezer is pretty straight-forward. There isn’t a ton of room, but we have a chest freezer in our basement for surplus or big items. Also, ice maker! This is the first time we’ve had one since we moved to Seattle! Will this inspire a renewed love for cocktails? Only time will tell.


The integral hinges have a soft-close (and self-closing) feature which is oh so gratifying.


It was a splurge, but we’re in love. Refrigerator love. (Kyle says “love” is a strong word to use when speaking about a refrigerator but I’m keeping it in.)