One Million Shades of White

In case you wanted to know, there are a million and one shades of white.  White? Really?!?!!  Yes.

I’ve always been more of a color-saturated sort of person I guess you could say.  In middle school my bedroom ceiling was painted a light, dreamy shade of mint green.  If I didn’t work in a professional environment, I just might have a neon pink streak in my hair right now.  Oh, and did I mention my car is bright yellow?

Considering my colorful history, I had naively assumed that white was simply something one could resort to when they didn’t have time or effort to decide what color to choose.  Oh boy!  What a rookie move . . .


You see, you can’t just paint your walls “white” to match your “white” tile.  That would be wayyyyy too simple.  And while we’re talking about it, I might as well mention that if you want white tile, you’ll need to decide which shade of white tile you’d like.

I didn’t realize just how many different white paint chips Home Depot had until after the tile was installed in the bathroom and it was time to get the paint for the ceiling, walls and trim.  After spending half of our retirement fund on paint samples in an attempt to find the right shade of blue to paint the exterior of our home (and still second guessing the decision), I knew better than to grab a gallon without getting a paint sample first.

So I tried Painter’s White and Falling Snow by Behr in the bathroom to see what would work best.  Falling Snow made the tile look yellow and almost dirty, while Painter’s White seemed to almost blend in and go with the tile quite well.  I thought maybe the color’s name- Painter’s White- was some kind of a secret code from Behr to me- as if they were saying- “Hey! This is the one that matches all of the white tiles in the world and that’s why we call it Painter’s White!  This is literally THE white that is in all of the rooms in all of the houses.”

Boy was I wrong.  It seemed great in the corner where I tested it out, but after purchasing a gallon and painting the entire room . .  . it looked . . . pink.

Our black and white bathroom looked like Pepto-Bismol, cotton candy, super subtle, whisper pink.

I kept trying to tell myself it was fine.  That it matched the tile perfectly and was the only shade that could work in there.  That the fact it’s called “Painter’s White” surely had to mean it was the standard traditional white paint selection of the American people who live in brick homes with attached garages and tiny yards.  And if it was good enough for my fellow countrymen, then it was good enough for me!  (Not sure if it’s the Olympic season or what, but I guess I’m feeling a little patriotic today . . . .)

Fortunately, I finally realized it would be easier to change my mind sooner than later, considering there was no toilet or sink at this stage of the game- so I kept searching for a more appropriate shade of white for the bathroom.  Well, the hard work paid off, because I discovered that Frost by Behr is the perfect shade in my bathroom and even worked great in our kitchen, guest bedroom and both hallways.  It is a nice cool white that doesn’t feel too stark, harsh, or clinical.  This shade of white also has enough color so there’s a nice contrast between the Behr Ultra Pure White trim and the walls.

Speaking of having enough of a “tint,” when the time came to tile the kitchen backsplash I was concerned about the tile not looking quite right since the gray cabinets turned out lighter than I anticipated.  I decided to ask my contractor if a more pure white tile was available for the backsplash, rather than using the same subway tile from the bathroom as originally planned.

Turns out, there was another option that worked great and helped to create more of a contrast between the cabinets and backsplash since the cabinet color is so soft and subtle.  The subway tile in the kitchen has a more clean and modern look, while the bathroom subway tile has a more vintage feel, so both are excellent in their appropriate locations.

All I can say is I’m glad to be done picking out white paint colors for a long time!  Who would have guessed that such a basic, neutral shade could prove to be such a decorating dilemma?

Bathroom Reveal . . . and another surprise too!

I dedicate this post to Kim, who reminded me this week that nobody even knows if we are still alive or if we just collapsed from exhaustion one day after working too long and hard on the house.  Yes, we are alive!  In fact, we actually live at the house now!!!!!!  I know, it’s about time, right?

Only four or five months behind schedule, we finally made it!  There was no extreme rush, but we had hoped to move in more quickly than we did.  I actually had packed away all my summer clothes and shoes in anticipation of needing to keep a limited amount of things with me in the small space we lived in at my parent’s house.  Lets just say June was a little . . . warmer than February.  With all of the projects that took longer than anticipated and all of the time that we spent working on more urgent things, updating the blog kinda fell by the wayside.

That being said, a LOT has happened here in our humble abode since we last talked.  But I know how long-winded I can be, and this a a blog, not a novel.  SO, I will exhibit some restraint and limit this to a quick bathroom update, showing you some of the first bits of progress in there as well as what it looks like now.  If you’d like to see the inspiration behind my decorating choices, you can read about it here.

I knew I wanted a lot of vintage charm in our bathroom with a classic high-contrast black and white look, but I can’t say I didn’t change my mind on exact details a few times before finalizing the plan.

For the past few years I’ve been obsessed with white subway tile and it happens to be a reasonably priced classic option.  I struggled quite a bit to commit on a grout color, though- I knew I loved the high contrast look but wasn’t sure if it would be too extreme. For the shower enclosure we went ahead with white tile/black grout and I love it! 

The high contrast is a bold choice, but the tiles are placed as close as possible (they have an automatic 1/16th spacing if you don’t use actual spacers) so there isn’t that much grout showing.

Our tile installer did a great job, but the slight imperfections in the tile and simple human error make for a perfectly imperfect look. If you can’t handle that but want a similar look, I suggest less contrast or no contrast in grout/tile color as well as slightly larger spacing between tiles which seems to make the slight variations less obvious.

For the floor tile I first wanted to do larger modern looking black hex tile as seen in my bathroom inspiration photos.  I quickly learned that the larger size of hex tile was more expensive and a little more difficult to find, so I started to consider the more common, smaller hex tile.  When I see black and white hex tile with different patterns I always admire its classic versatility, but I wondered if I might tire of it too quickly.

Then I started stumbling upon pictures of bathrooms or kitchens with penny tile and I was hooked! It has the same classic charm as hex tile in my opinion but with a look that I don’t think I will grow tired of quickly.

As much as I love redecorating and updating, I’ve tried to focus on selecting fixtures and finishes that we can enjoy for a long time and not pick anything too trendy right now (unless it’s small, inexpensive, and easy to replace).  I am so happy with how the penny tile turned out and think it certainly brings a fun mood to the space.  The thought of white grout on the floor terrifies me, and I saw a lovely bathroom with black penny tile and black grout and just knew that was the best choice for our space.

Here’s a midway shot of the bathroom progress:

And now the [almost] finished product!  As small as this bathroom is, there was certainly a lot of work that went into it.  After Peter gutted the entire room to the studs, removing the floor and sub-floor, the contractors replaced/repaired plumbing and electrical, drywalled and textured, tiled the floor and shower enclosure, and installed the vintage sink we found in Ft. Worth, the toilet, and the tub.

We are glad to know the bathtub is vintage and original to the home, and have certainly done extensive scrubbing on it.  The final condition of the tub surface is not 100% where we want it to be and we are still considering having it professionally refurbished.    The trim around the doors and windows in our home was much smaller before, and not the home’s best feature, so we swapped it out with wider craftsman style trim and it is one of my absolute favorite upgrades we did throughout the home.  Growing up in a bungalow built in the 1920’s I’m used to more substantial trim and love the look of it.

Peter actually did all the trim for the doors and windows himself (I even used crazy power tools and helped!!!), and we did all of the painting for the house ourselves to cut back on costs.  My dear Dad cut and installed the baseboards in the bathroom to help us out, and my sweet Mom has painted and toiled on projects over here more hours than I can even possibly count.  Without their help and encouragement we would have gotten stuck on quite a few projects with no end in sight.

Sometimes the last little details are the most difficult to complete, so we are trying not to run out of steam or stop making progress on the things that still need to be finished.  At the same time, we are trying to adjust back to a more balanced schedule and make more time for relaxing and enjoying time with friends and family.  As we complete those finishing touches, I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop and will try not to take six months to give you the scoop on the rest of the house.  As it is, I barely have time to scrub the paint off my hands, so I can’t make any promises!


In My Purse Right Now

I tend to have a problem carrying a little too much around in my purse with me at all times. 

The renovation process has exacerbated all this just a bit . . .  


Thought you might get a little chuckle from all of this. 

In case you’re wondering, yes my shoulder hurts and yes I do have plans to attend a yoga class soon. 

Sadly, this photo is actually nothing compared to last week!

Kitchen Progress

Things are cookin’ in the kitchen! I cannot believe the progress so far. Let me tell you, it has been a little insane with both of us working full time jobs and trying to do so much of the work on our own (plus a lot of help from Mom and Dad!) 

Most of the work on the kitchen and hall bathroom have been completely done by the pros, and let me tell you they are fast.  

With the slow pace of prepping the exterior for paint, cleaning and repairing drywall, and cleaning up the yard, it’s refreshing and exhilarating to see the fast pace of the kitchen coming together. 

First we got a new sub-floor installed, then the plumber and electrician came out and next it was time for insulation. Due to the age of the home, only the master bedroom addition had insulation, so we paid to have it blown in all the exterior walls.  We know the added energy efficiency will save us money in the long run.

One of the last-minute changes we made was deciding to open the doorway between the kitchen and dining room.  It only cost a little extra and we’ve noticed it significantly brightens the space and lets so much more light in. It’s such a simple change with a significant impact!! 

 Since the room next to the kitchen has a window and closet it can officially be considered a bedroom for legal/real estate purposes.  However, it is such an odd place for a bedroom, so we plan to use it as a dining room. It’s nice to know we could always put some French doors on that doorway to change the function of the room if necessary.  

We also wanted to make sure and open the doorway in a manner consistent with the age of the home- it didn’t seem fitting to open it up to the ceiling in a 1940’s house or to have the opening finished off with sheetrock only and no trim.  We plan to add wood trim later to match the rest of the house.  

Finally after all of that work it was time for sheetrock!  Then the crew came to tape and bed and texture, and around that time we met with our cabinet guy and he had some plans drawn up. 

Deciding the exact details on the cabinets was difficult.  I knew we wanted shaker style doors for that clean modern look with a classic twist, but who knew there were at least fifteen different options to consider in regards to cabinet design?

After looking at many different kitchen photos and going back and forth a few times with our contractor and cabinet guy, we were finally able to nail down a design.  In an attempt to keep this short and sweet I’ll spare you the details today, but check back later for more updates! 

Home Renovation Mortgages: #HowDoWePayForAllThis?!?!

Now that the cat’s out of the bag about our new (old) house, I’d like to share a little on the benefits and drawbacks of the Fannie Mae Homestyle Renovation loan and why we felt it was the best option for us.

Before we ever started looking at homes, my husband and I had our hearts set on a fixer-upper.  Both of us loved the idea of making our home truly unique and personalizing it to our own style.  If you have unlimited funds, purchasing and renovating a house with custom upgrades is no big deal.  We here at jesslovespete are a fairly low-budget operation, my friends.  Paying closing costs and purchasing a new home certainly couldn’t coincide with picking out custom cabinets and new appliances . . . or could it?

Since we love the charm and character of older homes, we knew the best way to stay in budget and have the best of both worlds would be to find a home that needed a little (or a lot!) of help and then put the sweat equity in to make it gorgeous beyond our wildest dreams beautiful, functional, and safe.

Many homes in need of significant renovations can only be purchased with cash, so ordinarily if you don’t have enough money in your bank account to buy a house outright, you can’t buy a fixer- upper.  But dry your tears, there is hope!

With the Fannie Mae Homestyle Renovation mortgage or FHA 203k, you have the ability to combine the purchase price of your home with the cost of renovations in just one monthly mortgage payment, paying closing costs only one time.

I’m not going to pretend that getting our mortgage loan was a piece of cake.  In fact, it was more like a plateful of broccoli with a kale smoothie on the side.  There was a lot of paperwork that had to be completed in a timely manner and a lot of decisions that had to be made way before we were really sure of what we were doing.  Prior to closing on the home (signing all the documents and officially buying it), we had to find a general contractor, agree on a detailed scope of work to be done, and then have our contractor fill out extensive paperwork and agree to the conditions of the loan and specific terms of payment.

We were also extremely limited in regards to the work we could do ourselves using funds from the mortgage lender.  Even though the Fannie Mae website clearly stated that a certain percentage of funds could be used by the homeowner to purchase materials, it turns out that our lender didn’t actually allow this.  This meant that materials for some of our DIY updates and repairs had to be purchased with our own cash and couldn’t be added to the loan amount.  The rules and regulations are always changing, so check with a local mortgage lender to see what options you may have.

Depending on where you live, though, you won’t be able to waltz into your local bank or credit union and get a 203k or Homestyle Renovation mortgage.  After calling almost every bank in town I ended up nowhere.  Only one local place said they might be able to do a unique loan circumstance that would be extremely strict and require closing costs TWO DIFFERENT TIMES in less than six months!!  And we were determined enough to almost consider it.  When we finally started working with our realtor, she immediately recommended two lenders in the area that could accommodate our unique request (reason #32 why she’s super- awesome).  So, if you have an awesome realtor, they should be able to help you out with that.

In spite of all the additional paperwork and effort required before we could finally close on the loan, I think it was so worth it!  I wouldn’t recommend this for the faint-of-heart or over-committed, though.  There were many ups and downs (and last-minute surprises) throughout the process, and I’m not even talking about the renovation process or labor we’ve already put into fixing the place up.

So what do you think?  Would you buy a fixer-upper?

Bathroom Plans & Inspiration

As I browsed magazines and searched the internet for bathroom design ideas and inspiration, I found myself gravitating towards picture after picture of bathrooms with the Kohler Brockway sink (shown in the first photo below).  At $1,200 and three feet long, there just wasn’t enough room in the budget- or the floor plan- to allow for such an extravagant purchase.
 I searched high and low for a comparable, more affordable substitute, spending more time than I’d like to admit to searching craigslist, e-bay, etsy, and anywhere I thought I could find a more affordable and space-effective version.

Then I stumbled upon this charming bathroom on pinterest and knew there had to be other wall-mount sink options that could be equally beautiful in their own right.

Unfortunately wall-mount sink options are fairly limited.  There were a few cost-effective options that almost seemed they might work, but they all seemed a little too Target bathroom . .  .  as in the actual sink that Target has in their bathrooms!!  Etsy offered some nice vintage alternatives, but those were also at a pretty price.

And so the search continued until Peter, my parents, and I decided to venture into Ft. Worth for some mexican food at Joe T. Garcia’s and our first trip ever to Old Home Supply.  This place is wonderful!  A MUST-VISIT stop for anyone renovating an older home or who likes to decorate with antiques and eclectic items.  I simply do not have words to do this shop justice- if you live in the area or find yourself in Ft. Worth for a visit you should check it out!

Anyway, there were quite a few sinks inside the store in addition to rows and rows lined up outside the shop.  So we searched . . .

And then we found this one!  At only $75!!!

The sink had some wear and tear and was certainly a little rough around the edges, but thankfully the woman who rang up our purchase gave us a business card for one of the guys that refinishes many of the items they sell.  The vintage tubs and sinks on display looked excellent and were a great testament to the quality of work he does. 

Yes, the refinishing cost more than the sink itself . . . BUT after pricing many different options, I am confident that we got a great deal overall and saved quite a bit of money while still getting something unique that we love.

And here it is looking all shiny and new!

As you may have noticed from both inspiration pictures featured here, I’ve got a little thing going on with black and white bathrooms right now.  It’s true.  I’m just a little obsessed.

So now that you get the general idea of where this bathroom renovation is going, here are some pictures of the bathroom before starting any work.  Before pictures aren’t nearly as fun as the after, but you sure need them in order to truly appreciate the end product.

As of right now, A LOT has changed in here that I cannot wait to share with you!!  But you will have to check back later because I have a lot of pictures and I have a lot of words (when don’t I have lots of words?) and I’m trying not to let this turn this into a full length novel.

until next time,


Photo Credit:
1.Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott
2. Unknown
3-8. My own photos



Mile long list: Numero Uno

Oh the joy of fixing up an old house!  As you all know, since it is now “jess loves pete official” we are the proud happy new owners of our own little piece of North Texas.  Or rather, our own little piece of work.

Below I have a list of major house updates/repairs that will be featured here in the weeks and months to come.  We have a lot of work to do, so I’ll keep this one short and sweet and catch you up on the details/progress soon.  Pictures to come, I promise!

  • Foundation repair (leaving this one to the pros!)
  • Some plumbing and electrical
  • Demolition of the kitchen/bathroom (this one’s on us)
  • Complete kitchen renovation
  • Complete bathroom renovation
  • Drywall cleaning/repair/re-texturing/painting
  • Replace all windows
  • Replace parts of rotting exterior wood siding
  • Prep and paint exterior
  • Installing HVAC (another one for the pros)
  • Replace exterior doors
  • Refinish wood floors
  • Repair/re-do master bath
  • Replace ceiling fans/light fixtures

That just about sums it up, although I’ve likely forgotten a thing or two.  And of course each category has several sub-categories of related projects.

Don’t get overwhelmed though- it’ll come together. If you panic your lips might fall off just like Bubble’s did  . . . and it’s not a pretty picture.  Keep it together people!!  In case of cabin pressure loss, please remember to place your mask on before assisting other passengers near you.  It is going to be just fine.

Take a deep breath.

And relax.

I’m trying to.  But does anyone have a paper bag?



When you want to completely redo a room, tearing everything (including the sheetrock) off and bringing it to bare studs, they call it a “gut” job.

Gruesome, right?

It is.

Peter ripped this room to pieces.

This was one of the first things that needed to be done so that the contractors could get started.

But before we get to the gory gruesome “gutting” here is a little look at the kitchen before we did anything.  Given the doorways, window, and essential kitchen elements, it’s not a terrible design/layout.

However, the water heater in the corner closet was taking up an awful lot of valuable space, leaving room for just two small cabinets on that wall.

Built-ins on the other corner provided additional storage but didn’t quite work in the space as well as we wanted, and the lower buffet-style built in on the right had to go since we wanted to widen the door opening there.  Unfortunately, some of the floor was in bad enough shape so the sub-floor needed to be replaced as well.

This gem-of-a-photo gives you a glimpse into the world of garbage disposal toxic sludge that is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before that frightening day. Sometimes things get worse before they get better . . . this project is no exception.

Since we wanted to move the water heater to a new location and take advantage of the space, we lost the ability to salvage much of the kitchen.  Although I appreciate vintage style greatly, this era of kitchen tile, low-hung cabinets, and soffits just weren’t my cup-of-tea anyway.

There were enough issues with functionality and condition of the space to justify new cabinets, which meant new backsplash and counters as well.  And if you’ve ever read the book, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, then you get the general idea where this is going.

Here’s a look at the kitchen once all the appliances, cabinets, walls, etc. were removed.  Peter did a great job with the demolition.

Now that you see the before, you have a point of reference for when we get to finally reveal the after.  The kitchen has already come a long way since these photos were taken.

I will get more pictures and update you on the progress soon!  

until next time,


We Bought a Fixer-Upper!

After many ups and downs throughout the house-hunting process, we are so excited for the opportunity to give a 1940’s ranch new life and make it our home!! Peter loves big projects, and I’m thrilled to be forced into selecting all new flooring/tile/cabinets for the kitchen and bathroom (among other things).

I’m a big fan of working with what you have and salvaging as much as possible.  Pinterest and home blogs offer an endless source of inspiration to help you make a big impact with a little price tag.  We are using the work-with-what-you’ve-got philosophy for most areas of the home, but there were enough necessary repairs to warrant a complete gut renovation in the kitchen and hallway bathroom.

Since we decided to go with a home-renovation mortgage, we’ve been able to combine the cost of renovations with the purchase price of the home.  There are plenty of pros and cons of doing this (that I won’t get into right now) but it can be a great option! We have a wonderful general contractor that we’re working with for the kitchen and bathroom, but most of the rest is up to us.

I cannot express enough how thankful we are to be able to purchase our first home.  It is a wonderful thing, and yet I feel about five years old most of the time and wonder who in the world let me buy a house?  What happened here?  It is very odd but beautiful thing.  Many parts of the home buying process are complicated/confusing/frustrating/challenging but it is SO WORTH IT.  We learned a lot along the way and I’d love to share some of how the process worked for us.

Don’t forget to subscribe if you want to stay up to date with all the latest news on our projects and forward to any friends who may be interested in seeing the process as we revitalize this house.  I have an exciting find to tell you about soon!

until we meet again,