The Almost Finished Kitchen Reveal

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343 West / Interior

This is not really how I had imagined the final reveal happening because technically it isn’t completely finished and technically we aren’t even living in our house anymore. When we first decided to renovate our kitchen and laundry room we had a pretty solid life plan for the next few years, but then midway into our renovation that plan changed and we decided to move. Now we are renting our house out to some friends who we know will take good care of it while we live in an apartment in Boston.

As I write this I’m two time zones away from 343 West in a basement apartment with brown shag carpet and no dishwasher (again!) while our renters are enjoying our new gas range, quartz countertops, and herringbone tile floor. (also, I just need to say it somewhere, our apartment costs DOUBLE what our house does!) Like I said, not really what I was imagining, but I suppose life sometimes happens differently than you plan for and being in Boston is something we’re very excited about, but we’ll talk more about that later.

We had our Penske truck all loaded up, and our keys handed over to our renters who had already started to move in, and we were about to drive away when I remembered we didn’t have any photos so I ran in to take a few before we left. There are still a few last touches that need to happen like putting the hardware on the cabinets and painting the trim that TJ is going to do for us, and I never did get to put up my fabulous mural wallpaper in the laundry room, but otherwise it looks pretty amazing if I do say so myself.


A vent hood that vents outside?!?! And over a gas range?! I die.


Woo doggie, look at that farmhouse sink. And a dishwasher! And no more awkward corner cabinets!


All those cupboards around the fridge are filled with drawers making our pantry approximately 17,852 times bigger than it was previously.



A space that perfectly fits my oblong marble table and bentwood bench.


I held onto this light fixture for ten months before hanging it. I love that smoked glass, even if we did have to hang it a bit high for traffic.

And if you need a subtle reminder about what our kitchen used to look like or want to see some of the process:

The Official Before Photos

Inspiration and Planning

The Nitty Gritty

Herringbone Floor and New Appliances

Cabinets and Countertops

So there you have it. All that hard work did actually pay off. Stay tuned for more about our new adventure in Boston!

Kitchen/Laundry Renovation: New Cabinets and Counters

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343 West / Interior

We thought for a long time about what we should do for our kitchen cabinets. We really loved the organization of Ikea cabinets, but didn’t really love how any of the doors looked so our initial plan was to buy ikea cabinets and then have someplace like Semi-Handmade make custom door fronts for us, so they would be a little higher quality and not be laminate. We got this all priced out, but the door fronts were surprisingly expensive, and we would still need to pay for someone else to paint them, or do it all ourselves, which would have been okay, but a significantly larger amount of work.

Then we talked to TJ and he introduced us to a guy he has worked who makes cabinets. We had Rafael come and give us an estimate and the custom cabinets with fronts ended up being just a bit less than the Ikea/Semi-Handmade plan, but the price also included painting and installing them which made it an even better deal. Another added bonus was that custom cabinets would fit into our kitchen better with less filler pieces required, because it would be made to our exact measurements rather than fitting together the standard sizes made by Ikea. We asked him to include some of the features of Ikea cabinets that we liked to make things more functional so it was a win all around.

The new configuration of cabinets is probably the best decision we’ve made in this entire renovation and it’s amazing how much more spacious our little kitchen feels now. The awkward L-shape was converted to a galley style and even though the closet we stole from the living room for the kitchen was quite small, it did allow for more cabinet space and for moving the fridge to a better location. We only added about 20 sqft with that closet, but the space feels so much larger and looks so much roomier. Surrounding the fridge with pantry cabinets filled with drawers to more easily access the stuff in the back is also a huge improvement and gave us exponentially more storage than we had before.

There are a few other nifty features that help the kitchen to be more efficient as well. Next to the sink is a false cabinet that pulls out to hold a garbage and recycling bin. In the laundry room one of the lower cabinets has a little opening for the cats to crawl through so we can hide their litter box and its stink. Our microwave is out of sight in a perfectly sized cabinet next to the fridge and we also have a tall cabinet to store the vacuum, broom and mops in.


Hidden microwave in the cupboard.



on the left side of the frame you can see the lower cabinet for brooms and the vacuum and the opening for the yet to be installed new washer/dryer.


The hidden trash cupboard…with trash in the can…


The countertop guys came and installed our quartz counters and farmhouse sink which I love! One benefit of having such a small kitchen is that we were able to get remnant pieces for our counters so they ended up being really discounted.

IMG_4393Between the kitchen and the laundry room we only needed four pieces, and they were all smaller than 36″ wide so it wasn’t very hard to find what we needed for a good price. I LOVE our counters, and quartz was the best decision. We sacrificed a fancy tile backslash in favor of just a small quartz lip in order to keep to the budget, but the counters turned out so amazing that it really wasn’t a sacrifice at all. I would make that choice again and again. Plus I think the small lip contributes to the uncluttered feel of the new kitchen.

Kitchen/Laundry Renovation: Herringbone Floors and New Appliances

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343 West / Interior

I have wanted herringbone floors for years. When done with a wood-look tile I think they are both classically beautiful while their durability makes them very practical. However, every time I mentioned herringbone floors to someone I receive two different responses: “Those are so pretty!” and “Those are so much work to put down!” When I told TJ what I wanted he was skeptical and tried to talk me out of it even though he wasn’t going to be the one doing it. Aaron even started to have second thoughts but fortunately I had a secret weapon, someone who likes me enough to go along with my crazy ideas and still at least pretend to like me—Aaron’s mom 🙂

Mom Puglisi actually lays tile professionally in Washington and flew down to Utah for a week to show us how to do things/keep us on task so we would actually accomplish things. Everyone told us that laying a herringbone tile floor would take forever, but with her guidance and help we blazed right through it in less than three days. Unfortunately we were working so hard on this project that I really don’t have any pictures at all of the process, but the final result speaks for itself.

Also, I realize I talk about how beautiful all these improvements are, and then post dusty fingerprint photos of everything. My only defense is that they’re mostly taken on my phone while I’m covered in some type of dust and just remembering that I should document something for posterity. Plus, let’s just save the beautiful ones for the final reveal, (which is getting closer and closer!)


Herringbone in the kitchen right after being grouted


Straight tile in the laundry room after being grouted.

The first day Mom Puglisi and I cut and installed backer board around the cabinets on our newly scraped clean floor which took most of the day to do because of some of the unusual shapes we had to cut and because none of our walls are really square. The second day, while I was at work, Aaron and his mom started on the tile and made it through almost all the herringbone pattern in the kitchen. We decided to do herringbone in there and then just a straight laid pattern in the laundry room because it really was a very labor intensive pattern but this was a great decision and I think it turned out fantastically.

I can’t take any credit here at all because Aaron and his mom did pretty much all of this while I was at work. I laid about three pieces of tile, and the rest of the time that I was even present while this was going on, my job was to mix the cement stuff to be the right consistency. So really I came up with a crazy idea and then had other people do all the work 😉

After the floors and cabinets and counters and everything was in, TJ connected the gas range, the dishwasher, faucet, disposal and installed the vent hood before we moved the fridge in.


New gas line for our GAS RANGE!


We have a dishwasher now! (don’t worry, I wiped those fingerprints off)

The vent hood was a bit of a nightmare—both the crawling around in the attic at that spot to get the vent to the outside installed, but also the vent hood we had chosen. It was from ikea and the installation process was not very well thought out according to TJ. It took Aaron and TJ quite a while to get it put in, and we had to trim some of the metal on the top piece to make it actually fit where it was supposed to go. I’m not sure if we were just doing it wrong, but it was sort of ridiculous how hard putting that thing on the wall was.


Spending a very long time trying to get that vent hood up.

In theory the fridge should have been by far the easiest appliance to put in, but because of a measuring error, it was about a quarter inch too tall to fit into the space we had made for it. We had given the cabinet guys the measurement we took from the front of the fridge, but at the back, there was a small piece that stuck up about and inch and a half extra (who designed this fridge!?) So we ended up having to remove the over-the-fridge cabinet and move it up just a bit. This was rather unfortunate, as that one little cabinet was the most difficult to install out of the entire kitchen. As I mentioned earlier, our walls are not square so getting it to fit took three guys an hour of pushing and pulling things into place before screwing it in, and now we had to take it back out again and move it up just a bit. Fortunately, finagling it didn’t take quite that long and in about 35 minutes TJ, Aaron and I and got it adjusted just a bit higher so the fridge could slide in. (Aaron and I held it up, TJ did the finagling and installing.)


Random piece at the back of the top of the fridge that made it not fit correctly. Why is this even here?


The space between cabinets for the fridge, and the dreaded over the fridge cabinet we had to move up just a bit.

Kitchen/Laundry Renovation: The Nitty Gritty

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343 West / Interior

Obviously the part of this renovation I am most excited about is the way it’s going to look when everything is finished, but the vast majority of the work on this redo is not just a facelift. It’s slithering around in the attic and crawl space doing electrical, and plumbing. Adding in gas lines and drains. Moving walls around, and coordinating the cabinet makers, countertop people, and tile people (that’s us!) and just generally making sure our house doesn’t burn down.

Because of this we decided to hire a contractor to do most of the work, while we would contribute to save money where was doable for beginner DIY people. (remember the door frames?) This has been the best decision. Having someone who knows what they’re doing and has the ability to do it efficiently and correctly the first time has been worth every penny. TJ Sorensen, our contractor, is awesome. He cares a lot about the quality of his work and has been our guide every step of the way on this renovation. Plus he’s our neighbor, so we know him well and he’s close by when we have questions.

Before we even ripped out the kitchen TJ got got to work in the laundry room removing the, ahem, “drywall” and adding in new washer dryer hookups and outlets we would need. I use quotes because that wall was part poorly installed and patched drywall, part weird little wooden panels, and part what I think may have been bits of duct tape under the paint. Bleh. Aaron and one of his friends spent a couple hours removing the shelves in there, and we sold our old washer dryer, before TJ opened up the wall to get to work. When I came home from work the first day he got started I was like, “Wow! thanks so much! It already looks so much better.” and he looked at me like, I just took out some drywall, lady.

Some of the patched "drywall"

Some of the patched “drywall”

wall1 wall2

I could probably write an entire post on each little fix and solution TJ worked on but for the sake of time and because I didn’t actually see him do most of it or get pictures, we’re going to summarize. TJ did the slithering in the crawlspace and attic to add in new hookups, new outlets, a drain in the laundry room, a gas line for the new range, and can lights. He converted the sink outlets to GFI, added in wiring for under cabinet lighting, dishwasher, and disposal (!) and also took out the closet in the living room to add more space to the kitchen, which required him to remove a wall, and move the door frame over about 6 inches. All the drywall replacement and repairs were taken care of by TJ and even with that long list, I’m totally glossing over all the things he did over about a week.


New wiring for disposal, and the under cabinet lights behind where the old backsplash was. TJ also had to replace that bit of drywall because it was too damaged after we removed all the tile (we aren’t putting tile back there in the final design)


New W/D hookups for our stacking set after removing the nasty “drywall”


New can lights and a place for our chandelier! You can see where the old ceiling fan, and single flush mount fixture was before.


After removing opening up the wall to the living room closet and before moving the doorway over. TJ also made a new attic and crawl space access in other parts of the house because they were both in this closet.


In process of moving the doorframe to the right a few inches.


Reframing the living room wall after removing the closet and moving the doorway to the kitchen over a few inches. There is a little bit of extra space still from the closet we didn’t need for the cabinets in the kitchen, but we are just going to drywall over it.

While TJ was working on all those things Aaron and I were also making some good progress too. Sam and a couple of Aaron’s friends helped us take out all the cabinets in the kitchen and then we worked on ripping up the floor.


Aaron and Sean taking down a cabinet


Super cute goggles and shooting ear protection while removing tile (it was loud and there were shards!)


No more old kitchen!

The floor was a bit of a nightmare. On top there was a layer of peel and stick vinyl tiles that were probably only a few years old. These came off with ease, but underneath we discovered a very old layer of linoleum. Some past resident had obviously tried without success to remove this layer because the top part of the linoleum that has the design on it had been peeled off while the bottom half of the linoleum layer made up of cardboard-like substance remained behind. We quickly discovered this was because it was glued to the sub floor with TAR! Real, black sticky tar. I don’t know who’s idea that was, but they apparently didn’t want it to ever come off.


Tiny bits of linoleum chiseled off the floor.

We first tried using a hammer, putty knife and crow bar combo, then switched to using a chisel. After TJ lent us a hammer drill and that worked a bit better but not as much as we would have hoped. We cycled through a combination of those tools before we figured out the bit on the hammer drill was just super dull, so we went and bought a new one that was at an angle that also made it easier to get at the floor. I’ve never felt more like Rambo than when I was using that hammer drill and obliterating the tar-stuck linoleum. After about four days of chiseling away by hand we cleared the last quarter of the kitchen floor in about an hour and a half.


No more linoleum! (and a sneak peek of a cabinet panel!)

After we got all the nasty pulled out and TJ got a bunch of the inner workings fixed, the next thing was to bring in the cabinets and then Aaron’s mom came into town to help us put down the tile. That’s when things started to get pretty. Stay tuned!

Inspiration and Planning for the Kitchen/Laundry Reno

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343 West / before / Interior

Over the last two years I’ve come up with about 30 different ideas for what I wanted the kitchen to look like. I love planning all the little details but I kept changing my mind about what I wanted, because how can you just choose what your kitchen should look like?! It drove Aaron nuts.

It wasn’t like we had no direction at all, over the years I’ve been collecting things I loved that I really wanted to have in my kitchen—an oblong marble table, a thonet bentwood bench, a light fixture, a painting. That was at least a starting point but it took a long time to figure out what we wanted because I would find something I loved, but Aaron would hate it, or Aaron would find some super modern minimal kitchen he loved that I would hate. When we came upon the kitchen in the image below (designed by DeVol) it was the first one that we both said I want that, so it stuck as our inspiration. Below you can see two “inspiration boards” we put together with the overall look we were going for in both the kitchen and laundry room.

kitchenInspiration LaundryInspiration

We also made this pdf with the basic layout we wanted to give our contractor and cabinet guy, so they could see the overall look and some of the details we wanted. We are going to be reconfiguring the layout, quite a bit, to go from an awkward L-shape to a galley styleScreen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.15.13 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.15.23 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.15.35 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.15.46 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.15.55 AM

Introducing The Kitchen/Laundry Room Renovation

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343 West / before / Interior

This is standing in the doorway to the living room. (please excuse the sander, I took this while we were refinishing our floors in the rest of the house.)

Currently our kitchen is a strange hodge-podge of peel and stick vinyl tiles stuck on top of bubbling linoleum, awkward and hard to reach cabinets, and a really weird floor plan that doesn’t really make any sense. It’s ugly, it’s inefficient, and from the moment we moved in I’ve been dreaming about the day we would get to rip out all the ugli and make something fabulous. Ladies and gentlemen, that day has finally arrived and I am dying I’m so excited.

Ever since we bought our house a year and a half ago we’ve been making slow but, uh, steady progress on things. This renovation, however, will be the biggest change we’ve attempted yet and I’m excited to see the new life it will breath into our home. After months and months of saving our moolah and figuring out a plan of what we actually want it to be like, we are ready to get started!

Below, for your viewing pleasure, are some of the before photos of our kitchen so you can see how far it will come by the time we are finished with everything. I plan to post about our process as we go, so stay tuned!


This is standing next to the back door looking into the kitchen (look at that nice walkway between the fridge and range!)


This is standing next to the sink looking toward the living room. That green wall with the frames on it is a closet in the living room, and we are going to remove it to allow us more space for cabinets and the fridge.


This is standing in the far end of the laundry area looking towards the back door. The opening to the kitchen is on the left. (we had removed the dryer from the room before I took this picture)


This is standing next to the back door looking into the laundry area. The door on the left goes into our bedroom.



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Adventure / In Utah / Photography


Saturday we decided we wanted to just get away from everything for a bit, so we packed up the PT and drove down to Canyonlands. It was a quick trip —from about 5pm Saturday to 12pm Sunday and we didn’t actually even camp —just folded the seats down and slept in the car. Our neighbors thought we were crazy when they saw us come back so soon but there is something so majestic about watching the sun come up over a canyon that just fills my soul and it makes even a quick trip worth it..NightCloudsThroughTheBrush1ridge1valley1brushcomboOverTheWall1DrivingLandscape1twistedComboWindshieldCactusComboAaronLooking1

Utah Fashion Week Spring 2016

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Fashion / Projects

Utah-Fashion-Photographer-Alexis-Puglisi copy

Last fall when I decided to do the Utah Fashion Week Show I was still sort of on the fence about if I really wanted to do it. I had an idea I was slowly working on, but I didn’t feel the motivation I normally do and I considered maybe dropping out because the time and energy it takes is quite substantial, and my inspiration wasn’t really there. Then, over Christmas break we went to Europe and we visited the fashion museum in Bath and left with inspiration running out my ears, so as soon as I got back in January I changed my idea and got to work for the show at the end of February.

I mentioned this in my last post about the fashion museum, but as I looked at clothing from different eras of history I was so impressed at how girly things used to be. They had lace, bows, ruffles, beads and ribbons and all sorts of really feminine embellishments covering every inch and they didn’t even care it was maybe over the top. I found it really whimsical and ran with that for my line. I decided to make a line that was really playful and fun, but modernize it by having each piece having one area of intricate detailing that was girly and fun while choosing some pretty bold colors.

Also let’s just pause for a moment and talk about how absolutely invaluable Makayla and Alicia were to this show.  They were the most fantastic HMUA team ever and I still can’t believe I lucked out and got them to help me. I told them my basic idea for the gowns and they designed the perfect looks to go with my theme that really just made everything come together so well. These girls have mad skills!IMG_5889IMG_5902

Also, special thanks to everyone involved in making this. The UFW team really knows how to put together an amazing show, all the photographers who come to document make everyone’s work look so good. Seriously, so many talented people come together for this event and make it a lot of fun to participate in.

Now on to the looks!

This first dress, worn by Emme Franks, was actually my final dress in the show. Saffron was a popular color during Georgian times, and I think it is simply gorgeous. This gown uses 14 yards of raw silk, has a more that complete circle skirt because of the pleats,  and we ended up making a hoop skirt to go under it because I couldn’t find a crinoline that would be long enough for my 6ft tall model. I think I would add a bit of crinoline under there in the future, but it worked okay for the show.


The sleeves on this were inspired a bit by the sleeves on my wedding dress because I really wanted to do something sparkly and beaded for them and I think they turned out great. Sewing those little beads on took forever though. A lot of people commented how she looked like Belle, which I hadn’t really thought of, but I guess she does. A yellow ball gown will do that. Utah Commercial Beauty & Product Photographer

This pink lace gown worn by Dru Franks actually took the longest to make out of all of them, which is surprising, because it looks comparatively simple. It’s got a soft pink lace with raspberry velvet ribbon detailing, and then there are raspberry pearls sewn onto either side of the ribbon. The ribbon is more purplish than magenta in real life than it looks in these images. Utah Commercial Beauty & Product Photographer

Sewing those beads on by hand took forever, which is ironic because you can barely even see them really. I liked the texture it added though, so we persevered through it. Aaron helped quite a bit with that part. I think there ended up being about 25 yards of beads on this dress. Utah Commercial Beauty & Product Photographer

I think this pink and blue dress worn by Megan Stevens ended up being my favorite thing in the show. The blue velvet ribbon was such a rich and gorgeous color and I think it paired beautifully with the pink flower embellishments on the floral organza. Utah Commercial Beauty & Product Photographer

I spend a lot of time putting those sleeves on then taking them off again, but in the end I decided I loved how flouncy they were. Utah Commercial Beauty & Product PhotographerThis green dress worn by Felicia Soth I had actually already made for an earlier show, but it fit in nicely with this theme, and is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made so I decided to add it in. I remade part of it because I had done some weird construction things the first time around because I was in a rush. So now it’s even better!


The texture of the netting overdress paired with the Art Nouveau pattern appliqués which were lasercut, added some intricate detailing I’m in love with. Utah Commercial Beauty & Product Photographer

This red dress, worn by Jamie Johnson, was also made from the same raw silk as the saffron gown, and I am equally in love with this color. Utah Commercial Beauty & Product PhotographerRedLight

On the flutter sleeves, which were made out of silk charmeuse, I had laser cut flower appliqués as well that were probably my favorite bit of detailing from this line.


My team was so awesome, and it made for a really fun night.


Show photos by  Jesca Cluff (watermarked) and Natalie Crofts for KSL (non water marked)
Hair by Alicia Troché — Instagram: @hair_by_cherie
Makeup by Makayla Plock — Instagram: @makplockbeauty

Bath, NYE, and Saying Goodbye To Europe.

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Adventure / Travel

BathEven though Bath didn’t work out for Christmas we really wanted to visit at some point on our trip, so after leaving Paris we took a train straight there. Besides Harry Potter World, Bath was my favorite place we visited on this trip and if I were to go back I might even skip London and come here because it was just perfect. The streets were small and winding with colorful shops, the countryside surrounding the city was beautiful and it maintained the perfect balance between quaint small-town feel and there still being lots of interesting things to do.

Everything in Bath is built from the same cream colored stone from a nearby quarry that really made me feel like everything was too beautiful to be true. It seemed like someone had come in and built the city in one fell swoop and it couldn’t really be real because it was too picturesque. I’m looking through my photos and I have very few from our time in bath, but everything we saw was just really beautiful. IMG_3788

My favorite thing we did in Bath was go to the fashion museum. It was just this little gallery in the basement of some government building, but it was incredible! The collection on display was no Louvre, but they had a great sampling from a lot of different eras, and I was just thunderstruck at some of the detail on those clothes. Clothing is such a beautiful art. The inspiration for the line I showed at Utah Fashion week came from this museum and how fun these clothes were. Many of the clothes we looked at had an attitude just like, bows are pretty let’s put on 14 more! or Yeah! More lace! MORE LACE! I loved how unabashedly girly a lot of the stuff was and the intricacy was mind blowing, especially considering on many of these garments, every single thing was made by hand —fabric, buttons, beads, lace…IMG_3768IMG_3760


All the boxes behind each of these dresses had more dresses in it. I wish we could have seen more!


They had things from all different eras and it was fun to see how styles have changed over the years.IMG_3778IMG_3775  IMG_3781

This was part of “The white dress project” by Alexander McQueen. When they were designing Kate Middleton’s wedding dress they made an entire project of white dresses so that no one would know what her dress would be like because everyone was working on white dresses. These were a few of those white dresses.IMG_3774 copy


Sometimes I wish we could just wear these crazy, intricate, beautiful things around everyday, though I suppose not being able to move easily would get old after a while.

After a few lovely days in Bath, we headed back to London for New Year’s Eve and our flight home the following morning. We found this cool 1920’s themed party and bought tickets before we left which I was super stoked about because sparkly dresses! Also, side note—Aaron did the fingerwaves in my hair. I tried really hard but couldn’t get it to look good so he said he would help me and it turned out perfect. I never cease to be amazed by his skills.

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They had a live jazz band, the decor of the ballroom was pretty fun, plus I got to wear a sparkly dress and feather jacket. It was the perfect way to end our trip and ring in the New Year.