Natalie’s Custom Kitchen Island

Well this spring I shared my kitchen makeover with you all, then life got a little crazy so I never got to zero in on some of the details.  Today I want to share a little bit more about my center island.

One of the priorities with this kitchen remodel was to make our kitchen island our families main eating area.  It originally sat 4 so we needed to extend it to accommodate our party of 5.  I could have chose to just extend the concrete top we were doing over the main area, but I really wanted to do something a little different.  I considered using marble and a few other materials, but then I came across a gentlemen by the name of Chuck Paulson who had done 2 amazing barn wood mantels at a clients of mine.  They had found him on Craigslist and highly recommended him.  Here are some pictures of the mantel he did for them.

As you can see, Chuck does an amazing job preserving the original character of the wood!

I gave him a call and explained what I was envisioning and what he built exceeded our expectations!  He even suggested adding some rustic bolts on the end to give it a little more character and we love how they turned out!

The barn wood extension is supported by some beautiful brackets we found on ebay.  We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!!  Please visit Chuck’s website to learn more about his work.

Heritage Mantels

or contact him at:


Have a great day everyone!!



A good old fashioned before and after

It’s just fun to see before and after shots.

Here is a set of chairs I recently did for a friend…

After a little love. . .

Painted with flat enamel {Painter’s Touch, of course} and sanded for a little rustic charm.  I took off the cushions because they had cording around it then added new ticking stripe material for the seats.

I didn’t notice that Joann’s had switched from their weekly 40% coupon to a 30% off coupon.  Bummer.  This means less shopping trips for me…I’ll wait for the 50% specialty coupon now from now on and plan projects in advance.

Natalie’s House is For Sale!!!

Well we have big news today here at JJ&Co…

Natalie’s house is for sale!!!

Do you know someone who is looking to buy a beautiful home in the charming historic town of Stillwater, Mn?  Well be sure to share this news with them!

Here is all the information on the home~

Built in 1913- built to last!! Original farmhouse in a newer development. Located in a quiet caldesac on 0.4 acre lot with a pond view. Just 5 minutes from downtown Stillwater. Great schools!! Great Neighborhood!! Non-smoking home. Well cared for and thoughtfully and professionally renovated. Beautiful maple floors- tons of character and excellent craftsmanship!

Recent updates:
- new Hardie Board Maintenance-free siding
- new Pella windows
- remodeled bathroom with new claw foot soaking tub, ceramic tile floors, and concrete counter top
- 2014 kitchen remodel including concrete counter tops, Marble tile back splash, Karndean LVT flooring, and an apron front farm sink and faucet.
- complete finished basement with new block foundation

*Professionally designed and decorated
*Has been featured in 6 nationally known home decorating magazines
(currently being featured in August 2014, Cottages & Bungalows Kitchen issue)

Approx. room dimensions~

Parlor 15×14
Living 16×14
Kitchen 18×14
Dining Room 10×10
Bath 5×6

Upper Level:
Bed 1- 10×12
Bed 2- 15×13
Bed 3- 12×13
Bed 4- 10×14
Bath 6×9.5

Lower Level:
Family 13×18
Work Out 15×13
Bedroom 11×12
Laundry 8×9
Bath 5×9

This home is priced at $425,000.

Call, email, or text Natalie to schedule a showing. Only serious inquiries please. Pre-qualified buyers please. Not rent to own, for sale only.

****For Sale By Owner****

Thanks so much!!!



Please feel free to share with your friends who may be looking to move to the Twin Cities Metro Area!!!

A New Dishwasher!

It’s the little things that make life so much easier.  Our dishwasher was an eye sore and the trays were all rusty.  The rust transferred to our dishes and stained them all.  I researched new trays to save us from having to pay for a new dishwasher but the trays were $150 each.  Really?!

Instead we bought a new LG dishwasher…the floor model from Best Buy.  We got a super deal and this baby is amazing.

A cycle is 2 hours and 7 minutes.  Seems a bit crazy but my dishes have never been so clean.  It is whisper quiet, has cool ring tones when you turn on the touch buttons and the stainless steel inside should be a long term blessing.

I used a variety of dishwasher detergents in it…just to see.  The name brand powders don’t dissolve all the way, leaving a glob of stuff in the tray.  Same with the pods sometimes.  Liquids are the best choice.

It’s hard to only get one new appliance when the others are still the ones from the 90′s.  All in good time!

Landscaping Cheater

I hate landscaping.  Seriously.  Hate.  …but I love the look of a well taken care of yard and flower beds.  Our landscaping had a TON of weeds and had been neglected, even by us this first year while we concentrated on the inside of the house.  I did some research on what we could do to minimize our time landscaping in the hot TN Summer.  We decided on pine needle mulch.  It comes in bales for $3.50 each at the Home Depot with about a dozen mini-bales inside.  We used 26 bales to mulch the entire property {less than $100 to landscape the entire property, including a new side yard area you will see below}.

What you may notice are some of the things still on the list…the post that needs replacing, a decision on whether to trim away the ivy or let it repair itself up the banisters and add some lighting.

I couldn’t decide if I was going to let the ivy stay or get rid of it.  I just tossed a bunch of pine needles on it to see how it reacted to the acidity of the needles.

Everything is lush and needs to be trimmed…one step at a time.

The side yard before…

I took out a stone walkway in the backyard that had sunk mostly into the ground.  There were quite a few stones so I used them to make this stone wall.

About the mulch…

It was so super easy to lay and has a ton of other benefits:

1. Expense

It was very inexpensive per bale and each bale covered a lot of area once you fluffed it out and filled in spaces.  It was also awesome to be able to pick up the bales right at the Home Depot and not have to use a truck to get mulch loads.

2. Termites

It actually keeps the termites away and here in TN that is a plus.

3.  Ease of Application

I used some landscape gloves and distributed all 26 bales myself in a matter of about an hour.  All I had to do was spread it around, no landscape cloth needed.  HUGE time and back saver.

4.  Acid Benefits

The acid in the pine needles help to kill those darn weeds so I didn’t need to weed first.  It will also keep the weeds away plus the acid will actually help certain plants thrive and improve your soil overall.  Did you know that regular mulch actually creates the perfect place for weeds to grow?

5. Stays in place

It doesn’t wash or blow away like regular mulch does.  It also stays loose and fluffy over time plus losses its color a lot slower than colored mulch.  You will also have to do less maintenance on the pine needle mulch overall since it decinigrates slower.

After having the mulch for one month: It is slowly compacting itself down a little better and making a block for those weeds.  So far, the weeds have been cut down by 95%.  I have only had to spray a few.  I think if I laid it a little thicker then I wouldn’t have to spray at all.  Serious weed control.  I also noticed after a few storms that it really does stay in place.  It has also started making a nice solid edge between flower bed with mulch and grass.  I am in love!

admin - Joanna, We’re so happy you found us!!!! Hope you enjoy our blog!

Joanna in Ca. - Just found you through the new issue of Cottages & Bungalows-oh, how i LOVE your kitchen! :)

admin - Thank you for your encouragement!! It has been a blessing…both the pine straw and TN. I love hearing from neighbors and we hope to make a trip to Alabama soon too!!

Miss Kitty - I live in Alabama with similar weather conditions to Tennessee and I love me some pine straw as a landscape filler too! A new batch of pine straw about once a year makes a huge difference in how the yard looks. It does compact over time but you can easily fluff it up again with a rake. When it does start looking sun-bleached, I just add a few bales on top of the good base (like you have) to brighten it up. I love what you have done with your yard especially the low wall you built with stones from the back yard…that sounds like a real job!

Another Amazing Cottage Getaway

You may remember my dream cottage getaway that I had last summer with my high school best friends.  Well we got to do it again this summer but decided to try Jane’s {the very lovely cottage owner} other cottage rental on Clear Water Lake in Annandale, MN.  It was just as amazing!!!!  It was slightly smaller, a little more rustic, and slightly less $$, but like I said… still AMAZING!!!  It felt like we were on the east coast.  Very “nantuckety”!  I’m so excited to share it with you today!!!

Here is the front of the cottage…a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e

Here is the entry way, kitchen and darling dining nook…

Here is the cozy living room where we spent many hours catching up with one another.

This hall leads to the bedrooms that comfortably sleep 6 people.  The 4 of us girls once again decided to sleep in the bunk room so we could all be together and lay in bed and chat:)

These great interior windows look into the master bedroom.

And here are the bunks that made us feel like kids again!!!

We also spent a ton of time out on the screen porch.  The weather was perfect so one of the nights we decided to stay in and have a dinner of snacks out here.  It was also the perfect place to cozy up with our coffee in the morning.

This annual get together has been a godsend to us.  We come from all over the globe to reconnect and spend precious time with each other.  It seems to get harder and harder each year to carve out time for each other but we continue to make it a priority.  We have been friends 25+ years and we look forward to so many more years of friendship ahead of us!

I’m super excited to visit this cottage again in August with my husband and 3 boys.  As I sat here writing this post, I showed my youngest the photos so he could see where we will be staying.  His exact words were, “It looks kinda too cute for us”.  Maybe for you little boy, but not for mom!

If you would like to get more information on renting this cottage, please contact Jane either by phone (320)250-0675) or e-mail


Kim’s Master Bedroom Revealed

The last piece of the flooring puzzle was my bedroom.  We ran out of flooring because we changed a few ideas from when we ordered our first batch of flooring and when we were installing.  We decided to go ahead with extending the new floor into the entry and all closets, which left us a Master Bedroom short.  Then we were on a wait list for more.  Then it came and it was different than the first batch.  Isn’t this all fun?!

Here is the BEFORE…

The floor is in and here is where we are today…

This room was a Benjamin Moore color I got from the reuse room…free and a full gallon.  I painted the cove using the same paint but added white to it to make it a shade lighter.  Otherwise, it’s the same furniture and the same decor, so no money spent there.  The only thing we did differently is we took our dresser and split it into two halves.  This dresser is actually two naval ship dressers stacked on top of each other.  My grandfather was in the Navy his whole life and got to take items from his ship they retired.  He was crafty like this.  I am wearing one of his spoon rings right now and have a ton of his photos hanging in my house.  Redo furniture, make jewelry, photography…sound familiar?  Anyways, Brant made another top for the other half and now we have end tables instead of one dresser.

As you know, a room is never really finished.  I have plans.  This house has taken so long and so much effort to get it up to a blank slate that I have not had a lot of time to design and create.  I am looking forward to posting about changing things up, adding new and tweaking it to my style.  So much more to come and so much is already done and ready to share. Stay tuned!

Bedding & Lamps: Target

Pillow Shams {white}: TJMAXX

Drapes: IKEA

Stupid Light

Yep, it’s still here.  I have run through a million ideas to change this light, to reuse it, to replace it, etc.  But here it hangs.  If I could spend whatever I wanted on a new light the decision would be easier but large sized lighting is expensive.  Since we are on a budget, we have been trying to figure out what to do without breaking the bank.

In the background is my new tennis racket sunburst.  They sat in a box in my room forever.  Once we did the floor in my room, I was forced to go through the extra boxes and was reminded of these cool rackets.  I thought I may be over the vintage stuff but I just plain love the vintage and chippy.  I especially love mixing old and new.

Here are some ideas we thought of:

-Antlers or driftwood

-Paint Stir Sticks painted

-Glass Ball Jars

-A mesh basket…like a lobster basket and Edison light bulb

-Painting the entire old fixture white

So this is not a before and after post…it’s a stuck-in-the-middle post.  I’ll update as soon as I have something new in its place!

admin - Great idea! I am in love with those Edison bulbs so I think they have to be incorporated somehow. Thank you for sharing!!

admin - That is too funny! I hope I didn’t offend anyone with the same light. It just isn’t my style and it seems like there is a way to bring it up to today’s style. I’ll be attacking it soon. I’ve been talking about it long enough!!

admin - You are amazing…thank you so much for all those great ideas. Stay tuned…I may just have to attack it now!!

liz - OMG — I have the same stupid light and am also stuck as to what to replace it with. Lowes did have an iron sphere light which I liked but not DH, so back to square one. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!!!!

Donna Rogstad - I suggest you remove the glass, probably break it out. Then spray paint the chandelier what ever color you want and put the old fashioned Edison bulbs in it. I did this on a smaller one for our cabin to hang in the stairway. You would not believe how different it looks!
Can’t wait to see what you decide to do.