Ah! So excited that I finally sat down to start this little pine blog! You may be thinking- what the heck is the little pine? But I mean, total valid question. The little pine is our first home and the recent passion project! If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen tons of our behind the scenes of the renovations already- but if you haven’t, give #thelittlepine a look when you’re bored and scrolling.
One of the biggest dreams for Kevin and I has always been buying a home. We’ve hoped for so many different ways to make it work- maybe we’d buy property and put a tiny home on it, maybe we’d wait until we found a log cabin. Maybe Long Island just wasn’t going to work, and upstate was the place to try. But, when you’re a wedding photographer your life is pretty much painted black and white for you for the next year or two in advance. So here we are, pretty rooted to Long Island (and okay with it.)
The two important factors for us that were make it or break its for purchasing a home:
- a good chunk of property- ideally at least an acre.
- nice garage or a barn on the property, for kev!
- (also for me: some nice lighting through the windows, that too.)
- (and: I really wanted to live out East, I grew up in Riverhead, and love it out this way.)
So now flash forward to the end of August 2017. A house was still a dream, and to be honest not one that we thought would happen anytime TOO soon. No attempts at pre-approvals, no research on mortgages, no house shopping. Just some Zillow scrolling here and there, when long behold we stumbled across what looked like our DREAM home.
To put the icing on the cake to boost our confidence that this indeed was the ONE, the realtor happened to be someone I grew up going to school with and graduated with. This felt like the ultimate sign to go check it out, so despite having NO idea our chances of being pre-approved, we went to the open house before it began that following Sunday.
We fell in love, of course. The house was a former lake house in Calverton that had been renovated into a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom ranch. The front porch had a white swing and rocking chairs (ugh, my heart) and the backyard was EVERYTHING. The house is in the pine barrens and the entire left side is surrounded by preserved land, which gives us the feel that the already decent size property (.75 of an acre) felt like so much more, without having to pay for it. A two car garage with a detached garage/barn on the property (literally Kevin’s dream set up) – it was seriously everything we had hoped for and more.
Now, we knew that taking on this house would mean a lot of renovations to make it our own- more cosmetically than anything, but we LOVED the open floor plan and to be honest, the yard was more exciting for us than the actual house itself! Kevin’s a really handy guy, surrounded by a ton of our handy friends, so projects didn’t scare us at all. Realistically we probably could’ve lived in the house just the way it is, but within 4 hours of our closing the carpets had already been ripped out of every single room in the house.
Without any other house shopping (like- we didn’t even blink an eye at any other homes, that’s how much we loved this one) we were SO fortunate enough to have everything work out and we made the Little Pine ours on December 21st, 2017! (Don’t get me wrong though, the whole mortgage process and everything wasn’t all rainbows, it was a long annoying process. But we made it! Any of my entrepreneur friends probably know how many extra loops you have to go to get approved for things self employed.)
Here’s a look at the first day we saw the home, focusing on the living room, which is going to be the first project I’ll share our progress on!
Carpets in the entire house, an off white paint which was amazing because we opted to re-paint the entire house white because it didn’t take long to cover (I wanted the space to be BRIGHT and airy, and for the decor to bring the color.) I loved the front window, looking out the the porch too! You can’t see it in this photo, but the ceilings are vaulted with two sky lights- another AMAZING perk!
Here’s a shot from the first day we moved in! Felt already SO different seeing it empty for the first time. Our first project was ripping out all of the carpet, with the help of some of our best friends and family, it was gone within hours! Then came taking out all of the staples that held the carpet down….. the ultimate tedious project.
Seeing the house in daylight without the carpets felt like an entire new space ALL over again! The living room and master bedroom has hardwood flooring, but the hallway and two spare bedrooms were half plywood/half hardwood- I’ll do a post about the other floor option we opted with soon. The process of the floors was one of the most major that we have tackled yet.. between the renting the sander and several days of staining and clear coating, it was definitely a labor of love.
By the time the floors were sanded down, we almost felt sad to stain them. They looked so fresh and beautiful!
Before our closing we had agreed that we wanted dark hardwood floors to contrast against the white walls. I couldn’t be more in LOVE with how they turned out!
Kev and his brother, Dave, starting the staining process. It was actually pretty horrifying at first, you couldn’t tell how it’d come out! We actually slept at the house for the first time on Christmas Eve (best thing ever) but the staining process started right afterwords, which meant that we couldn’t stay in the house for a few nights until it was done- so it felt like the longest process ever! We were not only doing the living room at this time, but we were also doing our bedroom floors, too.
Ready for what it’s looking like today?
Ah, I LOVE the floors! They came out so amazing. I love all the love Kevin put into them, too- we’ll always remember it every time we look at them. We spent a few weeks without furniture, but then finally decided it was time to make some decisions. We also slowly have been tackling the other project (and maybe the most hated) of painting all of the moulding in the house white vs buying new. So this means more sanding and more painting. It makes the space look SO fresh though!!
Things still on our list to do:
- Get rid of the original blinds, they’re wooden and actually really great quality, Kevin kind of loves them- but I want to throw a curtain rod up with some sheer curtains I think.
- Also: a CEILING FAN, I can’t wait for that to happen!
- Of course some photos/wall art need to happen, too.
We get so many questions about the couches whenever I post on Instagram and we couldn’t be happier with them. We ended up going to Raymour & Flanigan outlet for furniture- everyone recommended so many amazing places and as dreamy as west elm and similar places are, it just wasn’t worth it to us to pour so much money into. I honestly feel like these couches were a steal (<I linked them!) and seriously one of the comfiest that we tried.
Kevin had wanted leather, but I really wanted fabric- and then we together both really loved grey surprisingly. We tried a few others that maybe looked a little better, but we were sold on how comfy these were! We got this guy, and then that love seat to match, too. It was perfect to kind of close in the living room space and to give more seating when people are over. Pillows are from target, and have been changed out a few too many times!
I’ve been trying really hard to make this house feel like a good mix of Kevin and I. He’s really let me take control of decorating of course, but I love making it OURS. (For anyone that doesn’t know, he works on tractors for a living, so we live in a pretty tractor filled world.)
Side note: We literally had no idea who Joanna Gaines was before we moved in and started decorating- everyone kept bringing up fixer upper (I know, we live under a rock) and so we finally gave a watch and I immediately bought her book. Of course my obsession kicked in, and a good chunk of our decor is from the Hearth + Hand target section!
Another piece that we got from Raymour & Flanigan outlet was our entertainment center which we love SO much!!! It matches the floors perfectly and just look like such a nice piece for what we felt was an awesome price. We ultimately want to get a bigger screen tv that we can mount to the wall, but we aren’t in a rush- so for now it’s sitting in there. (We don’t even have cable, just use netflix- so we’re really in no rush.) With that being said- it’s been interesting trying to how to decorate in the meantime! Deciding what to hang on the wall is harder than I thought, I’m so picky! I give so much credit to interior designers, I don’t even know how to make decisions for myself.
We incorporated old milk crates from Kevin’s grandparents dairy farm as our side table, which is almost useless because I stuck a plant on it! We found this perfect tray from reclaimed wood at In The Attic Too and it fit great. I’m also obsessed with another Hearth & Hand planter piece stuck on the floor here. The palette I’m loving is WHITE walls, DARK wood and pops of greenery all over!
A few weeks after buying the house I went on a date out with my friend Jenny from Wildflower Floral + Events and she brought me to check out In the Attic Too out in Jamesport and I knew I needed to bring Kevin back. I left with this old ladder, which in the scheme of things we need for the house felt kind of crazy but still so necessary… I love it, I’ll probably eventually stick it in my home office. I’ve just been swapping whats on it constantly, I don’t LOVE how it looks but it fills this spot in the room nicely. We actually ended up going back to In the Attic and getting a custom vintage door headboard made… and I’ll rave all about that and them in my master bedroom post! The old bottles are from White Flower Farm House which is another spot I’ll be heading back to when it comes time to grab some more pieces for the house!
I’ve also really been into the whole galvanized look since the house, too. In the warmer weather we can always leave dirty shoes/work boots on the front porch, but upon moving in I knew we needed a quick solution for bringing in dirty shoes without having a mud room (or a coat closet when you walk in) so you know, just another Heart + Hand piece.
This wall actually had a light fixture you’ll see in the first photos that we need to cover because we’re not going to put one back, so in the meantime I stuck this little felt board right over the hole to improvise. At first it was just because it balanced and covered the hole, but now I kind of love it here. We also got this cute door stop, to prevent holes in the wall from the door without having an ugly door stop on the wall.
Speaking of the door: that’s another project we will tackle! We can’t wait to get a new door, or to even just paint it!
So there you have it! A work in progress! Can’t wait to share some more of the journey with you guys!