Author Archives: Krystle

About Krystle

Life, family, and design blogger here at Color Transformed Family. Mom to two girls and a boy who have completely stolen my heart. Care taker of Whistle Haven our house that's undergoing a complete transformation.

Command Central… The Kitchen

It’s been exactly one year since we first bought Whistle Haven.

One year since our vision of our family home began taking shape.  Whistle Haven was a foreclosure that had been on off the market for a while.  A house with great bones but in need of some TLC.  One walk through that parquet laden house with an outdated kitchen, an oddly laid out master bath, and popcorn ceilings galore and we knew this was where we wanted to live.  One year including six months of construction later and I’m incredibly grateful that God has allowed us to call this place home.

Last March we returned from China with Judah and moved into Whistle Haven just six days later.  Looking back we aren’t sure how we managed such a feat and an even bigger feat of unpacking everything as we struggled to help Judah adjust to his new life at the same time.  At the time we had one working toilet and sink and no kitchen.  We hooked up the old refrigerator and microwave in the garage and that was life for us for a while.

Crazy right?

The answer is yes!  But we did it! And it was so worth it because now our kitchen is one of our favorite areas of the house.  So before we get to all the pictures of the new kitchen let’s go back and look at what the kitchen originally looked like and how the floor plan has changed.

We ended up tearing all the cabinets out, saving the existing granite, and developed an entirely new much more efficient use of the floor plan for us.  You can see the original layout of the kitchen in the floor plan below.

Before:

And then how we really increased the size of the kitchen just by opening up some walls, getting rid of the peninsula, and moving all the appliances to one wall and designing a large island as the main focal point of the kitchen.

After:

You may remember from a post earlier last year that in an effort to save some major money we designed the kitchen layout ourselves using the IKEA design website.  I helped with the overall design and selected the Bodbyn cabinet but Michael Luke did all the nitty gritty stuff like quadruple checking to make sure that ALL our measurements lined up and then each cabinet and drawer would function best in its placement.  We put an incredibly large amount of thought and time into how we wanted the kitchen to look but in the end it was totally worth it.

When I envisioned our kitchen I knew I wanted it to be the center hub of the house. The place where everyone gathered as I prepared meals. Where friends could relax and make themselves at home.  A place we could entertain large groups of people easily.

One year and countless meals later I would say we achieved that dream.

I can’t say taking the cabinets to the ceiling was Michael Luke’s or our contractor’s favorite part but I absolutely love how they create the illusion of higher than 7′ ceilings.  When your working with a house that is approaching being 50 years old you can’t exactly expect the ceiling to be level.  So getting the trim to look uniform while at the same time filling in any discrepancies in height was certainly a challenge.  Just by extending the cabinets to the ceiling we created lots of extra storage.

The island is the focal point of the kitchen and the main gathering place for our house.  With sitting for eight it’s the perfect spot to feed the girls and all their friends, create masterful Play-Doh creations, spread out their school work, or for adults to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee.  When possible we try to keep things child friendly and able to withstand lost of use… because we plan to do lots of entertaining here at Whistle Haven.  That’s one of the reasons why we chose the Raskog bar stools from IKEA.  These metal stools are comfortable and at $35 each we went ahead and bought two extra that we can pull out if we need even more seating.

The island is visually asymmetrical… another design feature that I struggled with.  I truly had a hard time envisioning and feeling confident that it wouldn’t look strange for bar stools to wrap around one end of the bar.  Now that the island is installed it’s easy to see that it works and that the visual symmetrical weight of the island top brings everything together.

 The acanthus and clear dome glass pendants  are from Shades of Light but are no longer available.  These three lights alone probably stressed me out more than anything else in the kitchen.   I went back and forth on how many we should have installed, whether I wanted clear glass, and how big the pendants should be.  In the end I am extremely pleased with them and feel like they enjoy being front and center in the kitchen.  The lighting in general was a design challenge but I believe we got it right by adding ten recessed lights, three pendant lights over the island, under cabinet lights, and a glass pendant above the sink.

I’ve already mentioned that the island is the focal point of the kitchen.  Something that makes it extra special is that it is built from Southern Yellow Pine and came from my family’s sawmill, Hankins Inc.   We reused the existing granite on the counters in our kitchen so from the beginning I knew I wanted something different on the island.  As we were working on our house I thought it would be fun to integrate some of my family’s lumber into the renovation.  I’ve seen distressed pieces used as headers above wall openings but I didn’t really feel like that would go with the style of our house.

Scolling through Pinterest one night I noticed some wood counters.  I didn’t want exposed wood, or wood with a thin coat of sealer though.  From those pictures came the inspiration for our island.  I wanted something durable.  That’s where the idea came to use a marine grade finish.  The finish our on our island is probably somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″ deep.  It turned out beautiful and is holding up well.

The back side of the island houses our microwave and pullout drawers for storage.  The black stool serves dual purposes. It mainly works as one of our eight seats at the bar but also as my step stool to reach any items above two shelves up in my cabinet.  At 4’10” all that extra space is useless without a step stool.  I love that this one is always readily available for when I need it.

Ok, let’s talk appliances for a minute.  All our appliances except for the vent hood are Samsung.  The vent hood is from IKEA.  We had a Samsung refrigerator in Birmingham and were pleased with it so we chose the same brand here.  No big news… but some of the appliances do have some cool features.

Like the oven.  From the outside it looks like a single oven but on the inside…

it can function as a double or single oven.  If you look about a third of the way down on the inside of the oven you can see a metal shelf that slides in and out creating a single or double oven.  I had a double oven with two doors in Birmingham and loved it because of how quickly the small upper oven can heat up.  We knew we wanted another one because of what a time and cost saver they can be.

The new layout of the kitchen caused the oven and dishwasher to be side by side.  I didn’t want to visually see two appliances directly beside each other.  So we chose a dishwasher that can be covered with a cabinet panel letting it blend in with the rest of the cabinets.  In the picture above the dishwasher is directly to the right of the oven.  I like that it is conveniently hidden but most of all I love how quiet it is.  I know quiet dishwashers have been out for a while now but previously we would have to avoid using our washer during family times because it was so loud.  Now, I have to double check just to make sure the thing is running.

Running quietly will certainly be a top priority whenever it’s time to replace our washer and dryer!

Tucked over on the left of our kitchen is our work horse storage area.  I’m talking about the space that corals everyone’s junk and keeps the counters from getting bogged down with stuff. I owe you some inside shots of it… I promise.  For now, let me just tell you about them.

The lower cabinet to the far left is Michael Luke’s… minus the 40 lb box of sweet potatoes I have stored at the bottom. Inside he keeps his snacks for work, computer, and all the mail.

The middle lower cabinet is for the kids.  They have hooks for each of their backpacks and other gear.

The lower and upper cabinet on the right is our pantry with pull out drawers for all our canned and dry goods.

Finally, the upper left and middle cabinets store our family games, Play-doh, and puzzles. This keeps them out of reach of little hands but easily accessible for me to grab for them to play with in the kitchen.

So that pretty much sums up our kitchen and one of my favorite transformed rooms here at Whistle Haven.  As Judah has slowly gotten adjusted to life here with us we have had several opportunities to entertain, host a birthday party, and even a dinner party for 30+ comfortably.  Our house isn’t extremely large but we purposely set it up in a way that we can accommodate large crowds. Hopefully 2018 will bring us abundantly more opportunities to open our home to others.

 

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How I Lost 15 Pounds

One year ago I got fed up. I had had enough.  After nearly five years of “trying” to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight i was at my heaviest weight since bringing Noah into this world.  I was not satisfied with the look of my body but I honestly didn’t know what to do.  The more I “tried” the more it seemed like I gained weight.  I always thought it would be easier to maintain my weight once I became a stay at home mom.  No more sitting in a desk eight hours a day.  But all the running around after toddlers doesn’t erase all the snacks you find yourself eating with them and the secret pieces of chocolate you sneak into your mouth during nap times. Moms, you know what I’m talking about.  I knew that my next step needed to be serious.  I knew that this was a journey that I couldn’t do on my own because I can talk myself into eating any fun size candy bar, scoop of ice cream, or buttered biscuit.

The next step that I chose lead me to losing fifteen pounds over the past year!  I will be the first to admit to you that I was not overweight but keep in mind that I was not satisfied with the state of my body.  But when you are 4′-11″… (one inch shy of needing a booster seat) fifteen pounds is a LOT of weight and requires diligent effort.  Here’s how I did it.

Weight Watchers!

Yep, twelve months and a success story later and I have no shame in telling you that I followed in the steps of Oprah and joined Weight Watchers.  The only difference is that my success story doesn’t include personal trainers and chefs helping me on my journey.  My story is simply my life lived out normally while feeding and caring for my family of five. I’ve eaten out, vacationed, and occasionally splurged all while getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight and continually working towards my final goal.

 

So how did Weight Watchers help me?

It opened my eyes to that while I wasn’t eating a ton of food I was eating more than my body needed.  Unfortunately, my small little frame just doesn’t need a lot of food.  That fact is still a little sad because I LOVE food.  But I’ve learned to just enjoy a few bites of everything instead of feeling the need to consume everything offered me.  I have the Weight Watchers app and use it to calculate and budget my points for each day and week.  I get a certain amount of Smart Points each week that I can use whenever I want.  Generally, I save those for a special dessert sometime during the week. If I know that a party or big meal is coming up I’ll try to get some extra steps logged on my FitBit because it syncs with my Weight Watchers app and earns me extra Fit Points that can be used like Smart Points.

The beauty of the system is that I honestly don’t feel like I have been denied anything.  I’ve eaten mys share of sweets over the past year… they’ve just been balanced out with loads of fruits and veggies (0 Smart Points) and healthy cooked main meals.  Weight Watchers publishes a magazine and cookbooks throughout the year.

Most of the recipes that I have tried from these have been a huge success with my family with the girls begging me to cook some of them over and over again.

I haven’t attended a single Weight Watchers meeting, instead I chose the online membership route.  The catalyst that really got me motivated and opened my eyes to yummy treats like Halo Top Ice Cream is their social media platform Connect that is integrated into the Weight Watchers app.  Connect is filled with encouraging people, success stories, and endless motivation.

I’ve purposely taken time off from Weight Watchers while we were in China and during our Disney Cruise but it didn’t mean I wasn’t mindful of the food choices that I made.  My go to meals for dining out are grilled fish and vegetables.  I generally skip the salads and rolls because the dressing and wheat does nothing but eat up points that I would much rather use on something fun like dessert or an extra cup of coffee with creamer.

I’m the final five pounds away from my weight loss goal and I’m here to tell you that these five will be the hardest I have to lose.  Sometimes it’s not easy staying focused… especially now that I’m feeling confident in my body and loving how my clothes fit. I’m not giving up though and I don’t plan to stop using Weight Watchers once I hit my goal.  Budgeting my food is the way to go for me.  For years I have managed our grocery, clothing, and various other budgets for our household.  I understand and love the concept of using only what you have enough for and saving for something special.  Basically Weight Watchers speaks a language that I understand.  It may not be for everyone but I love it!

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Simplified Living

A few weeks ago when I was sorting through and pricing fall clothes to place in our local consignment sale I found myself with some free time on my ears and decided to check out this world of podcasts that I have heard so much about.

I know I’m super late to the game on this and I really didn’t know where to start but after searching around a little bit I stumbled across

The Minimalists.   Early this year we stayed with some good friends of ours in Birmingham who had shared with us that they loved listening to The Minimalists.  I remembered they shared with us how helpful it was to examine everything in their lives and ask themselves whether that item/task added value or took away value from their lives.  Michael Luke and I have always had the desire to simplify our lives and cleanse our house of “junk” so I decided to check them out.

The Minimalists are Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, two men who used to live it up with their corporate jobs, six figure incomes, more possessions than their jobs could afford, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.  After some major life setbacks they each realized that none of the  things were bringing them true happiness and were in actuality cluttering their lives up.

They stripped their lives down until all that remained were the essentials… the things that actually added value to their life.  I’m talking major simplifying that involved “packing parties”, scanning documents and pictures to hard drives, and drastically reducing the size of their wardrobes.

Now, I by no means see our family becoming super extreme minimalists but I have definitely seen the value in simplifying and over the past few weeks we have been evaluating everything in our lives to see what items add the most value to us and what steps we could take to simplify tasks around our house.

For instance, we have hardwood floors downstairs.  Michael Luke recently bought one of those automatic vacuum cleaners that cleans the floors for us while we are out of the house.  It adds immense value to our lives because we don’t have to spend all that time sweeping the floors every day now. Something else that adds value is that we don’t have any rugs downstairs except for in front of the sink and in Judah’s room. This means that we don’t have to roll them back to clean underneath them or spend extra time vacuuming them with our Dyson.

As a mom, why would I not want to make my job easier.  Do we really need those items we haven’t used in more than three months?  Is a collection of DVD’s we haven’t watched in years worthy of taking up drawer space?  Isn’t a closet much less overwhelming when it only contains clothes that I love and I know look great on me?

I’ve been purging toys, cleaning our drawers,  and pairing things down.  I took the place mats off the table that I thought made things easier but in reality they complicated cleaning up after supper.  I had to wipe every place mat off after dinner and then pick them all up to clean the table from any loose crumbs afterwards. Sure the table looked pretty with the extra color but it wasn’t making my life easier.  Now we eat and then the girls are able to use a damp towel to clean the table after each meal… way easier for me.

Reducing the clutter and the amount of your possessions also provides more free time in your life because there is less cleaning.  Which means less sounding like a not so fun mom who has to constantly ask her girls to pick their toys up.  Our girls don’t have a boat load of toys but it doesn’t take much for any child to accumulate a stock pile of trinkets.  Despite all their “stuff” when my girls play most days they end up creating many of their props needed for all their imaginary expeditions.  Before we moved earlier this year we packed up nearly all their toys a few weeks before the big day. Never did they complain about having less toys. They just came up with new ways to play.  They used their amazing minds and got creative.

I really think pairing down our possessions and simplifying our lives is going to have such immense benefits and allow us to focus on what we as a family value most… each other and time together.  It’s been fun examining our lives in a new light and reading about other families that choose to live a minimalist lifestyle.

A few fun new blogs that I have discovered on this dive into minimalism are:

The Minimalists

5 Kids 1 Condo

The Minimalist Mom

One thing I have learned over the past few weeks is that minimalism doesn’t have to look like concrete floors, bare walls, and a clean line sofa. Minimalism has many different looks and just may include a big comfy sofa, a bag full of Lego pieces, and a selection of dress-up clothes because all of these add value to our lives.

Is anyone else out there living the minimalist lifestyle?  If so, what resources or tactics have you found most beneficial?

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