A Couch for the Win (Living Room take 2)


Well guess who finally got a couch in the living room?  That’s right, this girl!

The Grit and Polish - Living Room Update 4

If you remember back to last year, Garrett and I had a debate going whether or not we wanted needed a sofa in the living room.  I was 100% for. He was 100% against.  Well I don’t want to gloat, but…I won!

Of course bringing a sofa into the space means lots of rearranging and redecorating.  So it’ll be another week or so until I share photos of a finished living room.  Until then, you can imagine me, lazying on that sofa, kicking my feet up, and swelling with victory 😉



p.s. Happy Easter! I didn’t get around to decorating for the holiday much this year (read: at all), but if I did, I’d love a table top like this one.  Oh and we’d definitely be eating our ham off antique china!

p.p.s. Now that Spring has sprung, I’m planning to make this fresh potato salad A LOT!

p.p.p.s. This has got to be the most perfect farmhouse I’ve seen!

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A Beautiful Seattle Fixer (you won’t believe what it sold for!)


From time to time, I like to show you guys a listing I’ve had my eye on.  And this fixer in the coveted Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle had me pretty excited.  Houses in this neighborhood are expensive even by Seattle standards, so when this 3bed/1bath listing came on the market for $556,000, we had to at least consider putting in an offer (we didn’t).  It has since sold to someone else for a crazy sum of money, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

2218 Warren Seattle House - Front

Pretty house, right?  And it doesn’t look too fixer-ish from the outside.  But the finished 1650sf interior is another story…

2218 Warren Seattle House - Fireplace2218 Warren Seattle House - Kitchen2218 Warren Seattle House - Staircase2218 Warren Seattle House - Pink bedroom 22218 Warren Seattle House - Bathroom

And here’s the real potential for profit…a 780sf unfinished basement!

2218 Warren Seattle House - Basement 2

I check local real estate on a daily basis, so I like to think I have a pretty good handle for what properties are worth in this market.  But I was shocked (SHOCKED!) to find out what this old house sold for last month…


Yes, that is an eight followed by five zeros!  And yes, I agree with you, this town has gone crazy.  But I am really excited to see what the new owners do to the place, assuming they have some room left in their budget to renovate!

See the full listing and photos here from agent Mary Ann Fordyce, Windermere R.E. Wall Street Inc.

Update: Nice catch by reader, RLS!  This house was renovated and sold again in November 2015 for…get this…$1,955,000…!!!



p.s. Frances McDormand on aging.  Inspiring stuff.

p.p.s. I’m really into this industrial kitchen style. What about you…cool spaces, right?

p.p.p.s. We’re building a shed (with reclaimed siding!) in the Ravenna House’s backyard.  Hoping to have it finished soon, but in the meantime you can catch updates on my Instagram page.


House Stalking


So Garrett and I have been stalking a house for a good year and a half now.  No, it’s not the short-sale that we’re under contract on (hoping to update you guys on that soon…as soon as we hear from the lien holders!).  It’s more like a forever house.  If such a thing can exist for renovation-addicts like Garrett and I.

The house we’re stalking is a short walk away from our current house in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle.  And it’s what Garrett calls the Jumanji house. You can barely see the front door behind all the jungle-like foliage.  It’s a house with ivy growing over most of the siding.  A house with holes in the roof and birds living in the attic.  A house with so much gosh-darn potential.

The Grit and Polish - House Stalking Isn’t it lovely?!

Now I don’t want to be an enabler, but I have to tell you that house stalking is really easy. At least it is in Seattle.  There’s soooo much information available online these days.  Any good gen-x google-user (or maybe even an iPhone-obsessed toddler) can find out a ton of information on a house and it’s owner via the great world wide web.  Should they want to.

Based on the King County website and Zillow, the house we are house-stalking is:

  • 2.5 Stories, 3300sf (900 unfinished)
  • 3 beds/2.25 bath
  • Built in 1909
  • Features: Fireplace, deck
  • And if this house was in good shape, Zillow estimates it’d be worth $750k (yeah this city’s real estate market is crazy!)

Wouldn’t it make the perfect house for us to call home?!

We’ve certainly tried!  Over the past year and a half, we’ve sent polite, introductory letters, facebook invitations, and emails to the owner.  I even left him a plate of chocolate chip cookies.  Not to mention we’ve done a million and a half run-bys, but all to no avail.  He hasn’t responded once.  But don’t worry, we’ll continue to watch this postential-bursting beauty.  I’m only hoping that this house finds a new owner before the wet Seattle-winters turn this old beauty into a true tear-down.

How about you guys?  Any other house stalkers out there?



p.s. I stumbled upon Nicole’s old-house-renovation blog over the holidays and I am obsessed!  I mean check out this dining room…stunning!

p.p.s. And speaking of newly-discovered blogs…am I the last one to hear about Mr. Money Mustache?!  This guy is awesome!  And full of inspiration and ideas on how to cut down on expenses and retire before you’re too old to appreciate it!

p.p.p.s. Did you guys catch this beautiful Brooklyn apartment tour on Cup of Jo?  Loving those tall ceilings, chunky crown molding, and all that natural light.


The Grit and Polish New Years Recap

Guys, it’s been a great year on the old-house/renovation front for this family.  We’ve accomplished a TON!   Last year this time, we were spending every spare moment working on the Ravenna House and also juggling a 6-month-old who had just gotten his two front teeth on Christmas day (true story).  The Ravenna House looked something like this at the end of 2013:




Oh my, I’m glad that’s over.  Renovating is a lot of fun, but so is living in a house after it’s been renovated!  We moved into the Ravenna House in March of this year with the main floor complete and we’ve been finishing up the basement and backyard on a snail-slow pace ever since. Here are my favorite moments from 2014 at the Ravenna House

1. The Kitchen.  Hands down, this is what I’m most proud of at the Ravenna House.  It’s the biggest transformation and the prettiest room to photograph.  The kitchen also happens to be the most popular subject-matter on the Grit and Polish.  But in case you’ve missed it, you can get caught up on the renovation here, herehere, herehere and here.

The Grit and Polish - White and Marble Kitchen and Flowers

2. The basement.  This space used to be scary and black and full of who-knows-what-kind-of bugs and rodents.  Now it’s a family room, bedroom, and bathroom that Wilder does a lot of playing in (how awesome is carpet?!), I do a lot of laundry in, and Garrett does a lot of Gonzaga basketball watching in.  Plus we have a kegerator down there, so you pretty much never need (or want) to leave.  More on that space here, here, here.

Basement Paint and Carpet - exposed beam

3. Removing the garage.  This isn’t a glamorous see-the-finished-space moment, but taking out the old, structurally-comprimised garage opened up off-street parking at The Ravenna House, which is AWESOME in this busy Seattle neighborhood!  So it’s definitely on my top-moment list!  Plus we got to have a “tractor” at the house for a few days which pretty much made Wilder’s year.

The Grit and Polish - garage removal.jpgThe Grit and Polish - garage demo and tractor rides.jpg

4. The upstairs bathroom.  The transformation on the upstairs bathroom in 2014 was pretty monumental.  It went from all-pink and icky (ala the introduction picture above) to all-white and shiny.  Plus finding those hexagon tiles under the linoleum was one of my greatest old-house-loving moments of all time!  More on this space here and here.


I would be remiss if I didn’t include one item from the Bryant House in this New Years recap.  We lived in that house until we moved to the Ravenna House at the end of March 2014 (more on the move here).  And though we didn’t actually do the renovation this year, I posted on the Bryant Houses’ kitchen so it kinda counts as a highlight of 2014!   Here it is, my last personal old-house highlight of 2014:

5. The Bryant House kitchen and dining nook.  The Bryant Houses’ kitchen is actually one of the most popular posts on the Grit and Polish, and it’s one of my favorite rooms that we’ve ever renovated.  We completed the work in April 2013, just before Wilder was born, and oh boy do I have the sweetest memories of holding my brand new baby boy in that wingback chair at the dining table!  The room is light and bright and was constantly full of family and friends.  More on the kitchen here.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant House White Kitchen Renovaiton.jpgthe Grit and Polish - kitchen renovation with built-in dining nook featuring West Elm lighting.jpg

Okay now that I’ve shown you my favorite me moments of 2014 (at least on the renovation/old-house front), let’s move on to the blogosphere world.  There are a TON of great old house renovation and lifestyle blogs out there and I want to highlight a few of my favorites.  But I’d love to hear from you guys…please please please include your favorites in the comment section!!!!

Top Blogosphere Old-House Moments of 2014:

1. Katherine got a new old house to renovate.  Then refinished the dining room floors.  And I fell completely in love.

2. I found an old-house-lover fixing up a giant southern house and got to follow along every week while they renovated it!

3. Manhattan Nest is written by an absolutely-hilarious old-house lover named Daniel, and its full of trials and tribulations of fixing up a very, very old New York house.  And if that wasn’t good enough, Daniel bought a second New York House (aka Bluestone Cottage).  Two old house renovation for the price of one (blog)!

4. I found This kitchen.  I’m not sure when the renovation was done, but this Jessica-Helgerson-designed kitchen is my favorite for 2014!  In case you don’t remember, I featured this one back in September.

Jessica Helgerson-Alhambra Kitchen

Hope you are all enjoying your last week of 2014.  Happy New Years…I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings for all of us 🙂




When in Sonoma…

The Grit and Polish - Sonoma 48 Hours

Two weeks ago, Garrett and I went to Sonoma for a little R&R and birthday celebration (Garrett’s that is).  And it was awesome!  Sonoma is the sweetest little boozy town I’ve ever been to.  Winery tasting rooms around every corner, loads of historic houses, and absolutely gorgeous scenery.  It’s not cheap, but it’s everything quaint and charming.  Truly the perfect spot for a getaway, sans-kiddo.The Grit and Polish - Sonoma Wine Trip Collage 2I left my camera at home, so you’ll have to excuse the iPhone photos.  I think you can tell that we saw a lot during our 48 hours in Sonoma.  Here’s a quick rundown of our favorite spots…

Three Sticks Winery was the highlight of our visit.  Hands down!  The tasting room is in a renovated 1840’s adobe house (yeah you caught that right…I said 1840!!!) just a stones-throw from Sonoma Square.  And the space is amazing.  Like Ah-Mazing amazing! I mean I could have spent a whole day just peeking around, taking it all in.  I’m still thinking about those wood shutters and steel doors two weeks later.  And thank goodness that just like their tasting room, their wines are impeccably crafted, tasteful, and delicious.  We came home with a few bottles of their red blend, Castenada.  Can’t wait to open these and remember that glorious space in a year or two!  And p.s. Hayden is oh so helpful and had awesome recommendations for other great spots to hit up!

Wine Tasting at Boyd Family Vineyards is like visiting a country farmhouse.  Literally.  The owners, Joan and Stan Boyd, do tastings inside their new-but-old-looking farmhouse that they share with their two winery pups.  This is a place we’ll come to again and again if for no other reason than the cozy atmosphere, particularly now that we’re wine club members!  Good thing we love their wines – especially the Cuvee and Syrah – and they’re affordable!  This winery is actually in Napa but worth a trip even if you’re in the area to visit Sonoma!

Repris Winery was our first stop in Sonoma County and probably the most beautiful.  The tasting room is high up on Moon Mountain amid acres of vineyards.  The scenery really couldn’t be more beautiful, except wait…they have a look out even higher up on Moon Mountain, accessible only by ATV.  My friends, if you’re going to propose to your significant other, do it here.  Just do.  And if you like Sauvionagn Blanc and Pinot Noir than you’re in luck, because they are just plain delicious, not to mention the only bottles in their lineup under $80…ouch!  This place was glorious.  And p.s. they have caves!

HopMonk Tavern was the perfect place for a beer…you know if all that wine is getting to you.  We stopped in to catch the Gonzaga basketball game and fill up with a few bar snacks before hitting our next winery.  Good beer selection and great bar good!

Sonoma Square is a large park at the center of Sonoma.  It’s beyond quaint with old buildings lining the perimeter and a gorgeous City Hall at it’s center.  We spent a couple hours walking around, looking at the shops, and popping into a tasting room or two.

We ate Garrett’s birthday dinner at The Girl and the Fig.  It has a special ambience that I can’t quite put my finger on, but the dining room is comfortable and current and welcoming.  They do food like we like it: fresh, foodie and delicious.  Garrett had the flounder and I ordered the beet salad – it was a light meal but perfect since we had had a late lunch.  We split the sparkling flight which came in three mis-matched crystal glasses and the drinks were as good as the presentation.  If you find yourself in Sonoma, definitely stop at the Girl and the Fig.

My favorite meal was our breakfast at Sunflower Cafe.  Mostly because by Saturday I was coming down with a cold and they offered green smoothies, which made me feel a little better about drinking wine all day (turns out a green smoothie can’t counteract all that wine…I ended up with a full-blown cold when I got home).  And also because the omelets are awesome.  We got to Sunflower Cafe early, around 8am, and sipped coffee amongst the locals until it got busy with wine-enthusiasts at 9am.

Oh man…El Molino Central!  Get the pork tamales…you won’t be sorry.  Like most things in Sonoma, these little yums are spendy, but they are just so good!  The perfect lunch in-between wine tastings.

Phew!  That was a fun, whirlwind of a trip.  It was almost just as fun the second time, writing about it!  This was actually Garrett and my third time to the Napa/Sonoma area.  We’re no wine experts (not like these guys!), but we love tasting wine and being around such a fun craft industry.  We usually end up taking a couple cases of wine home – some cheap bottles (which in Sonoma is around $40 or less) and some more expensive bottles for celebrations, which I’d love to age in our cellar…if we had a cellar.  Hmmmmm, that might need to be on our must-have list when we buy our next house 😉

Sonoma was the perfect spot to spend a weekend celebrating my main (big) man and a great way to kick off a going-to-be-awesome December!  And for all you wondering, Wilder stayed home with his grandparents and he slept through the night twice (why doesn’t he usually do that for us?)!  Oh and yes, we brought home some great bottles of wine to share with friends and family over long dinners at the Ravenna House.  Life is good!

Top Photo: old adobe-wall of building near Sonoma square. Photo Collage (from left to right, top to bottom): El Molino Central, Three Sticks, Three Sticks Adobe floor, Three Sticks bathroom floor, Vineyard on Moon Mountain, Three Sticks shutters, Repris lookout, Repris caves, old building near Sonoma Square. 



p.s. A few other top destinations to visit.  Number three and five are definitely on my short list!

p.p.s. This post is about gallery wall art (which really lovely – they have awesome taste) but I’m obsessed with that wainscot!  OBSESSED!

p.p.p.s. And speaking of booze – kids and beer halls, a natural pairing in the Northwest 🙂


I Have My Eye on You: Portland House


Well we’re back from Sonoma (more on that after my wine fog clears) and I have to show you guys a house I’ve been eyeing.  If you’re been following the Grit and Polish, then you know that I love old houses,  especially ones that are in some state of decay.  And this house fits the bill.  The only problem is that it’s 200 miles away in Portland, Oregon…

1711 NE 72nd Ave Portland OR 1

Isn’t it lovely?  I particularly like the blue tarp on the roof!  Here’s the interior:

Portland House Collage

Photos via Windermere Steller/Scott Anthony

I make no claims on the neighborhood/location, but as far as the house goes.  Love.  Big full-heart love.  I mean yeah, it needs a lot of work.  But the built-ins, unpainted millwork, box-beams, clawfoot tub, wallpaper…it calls to me.   Loudly.  Kind of like an angel’s trumpet.  And at $204,900, it’s listed for about $95k below the Zestimate and $165k less than they foreclosed on it for earlier this year, so seems like it could be a good deal.

Why do you guys think?  Am I crazy?  Or does your heart swoon when you see a house like this too?




The Second Bathroom: An (Almost) After


Well we still haven’t quite finished the basement bathroom.  But it’s about 99% there, so I’m throwing in the towel.  Some day we’ll get hooks up and hang a mirror.  Maybe even add a little art.  But until then, I’m calling it done enough.

The Grit and Polish - Basement Bathroom Remodel

We originally envisioned this space as more of a utility bathroom with a large, deep sink and taller faucet.  A place to bathe a baby or throw your shoes after a rainy run.  But a series of events – mainly the budget and our intense desire to wrap this project up – left us with the materials at hand.  The mahogany door is original to the house (although refinished) and the vanity was a $100 Craigslist find that we painted and put a new top on.

Unfortunately this room gets like zero natural daylight, so the photos have an eerie glow.  But ignore that.  In person, it’s a warm and comfortable space.

The Grit and Polish - Basement Bathroom VanityThe Grit and Polish - Basement Bathroom Remodel 2

This space has heated floors, which is amazing.  But even without these, this room would be pretty popular.  Garrett and I both shower down here despite the fact that our room is upstairs next to the main bathroom.

The Grit and Polish - Basement Shower Renovation.jpg

The faux-wood tiles run seamlessly between the bathroom and laundry room.  I had Garrett lay these in a herringbone pattern, to tie in with the kitchen backsplash.  I’m pretty into these tiles – they are inexpensive and look great.

The Grit and Polish - Bathroom and Mudroom Herringbone Floors

It’s amazing how much work we’ve put into this little space.  When we bought the The Ravenna House, there was no bathroom in the basement.  There was actually nothing in the basement besides a sketchy black-painted room and an old non-functional furnace.  Here’s a pic after we finished demo but before we finished framing.  To orient you, the new window on the back wall is the window in the bathroom over the toilet.

Ravenna House Basement Bathroom Photo 1 1-31-14

After we finished framing, we plumbed and sheet-rocked and tiled and painted.  We even had to pour a partial slab back where we had to dig up the ground to install the new drain line.

photo-1-25281-2529blogger-image-17315300IMG_8229Basement BathroomBathroom shower tile 2 Masking for Basement Paint 3

And because I like to leave things on a good note, here’s one more pic of the done-deal:

The Grit and Polish - Basement Bathroom Remodel 1

Vanity: Craigslist | Marble Countertop and Sink: GS Cabinet | Door and Hardware: Original to house | Floor Tiles: Home Depot | Shower Floor Tiles: Home Depot | Shower Wall Tiles: Home Depot | Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams White Duck | Trim Paint: BM Simply White | Mirror: 10+ years old, from Michaels | Sconces: Amazon

More on the bathroom inspiration here, renovation here and tiling the shower here.

What do you guys think?  Anything you’d do differently?


p.s. This apartment is ah-mazing!  Although I disagree with the author – 1000sf isn’t that small.

p.p.s. Two of my favorite people chat: Martha Stewart and Kai Ryssdal (of Marketplace).

p.p.p.s. I say yes to Greece.  Yes, yes yes!


Ravenna House Tour on Lemon Grove Blog

Happy Wednesday guys!  Just wanted to drop a quick line and let you know that the Ravenna House is featured on Lemon Grove Blog today.  Check it out here, and while you’re there take a look at Mary’s lovely old house!

Thanks for having us, Mary!

Ravenna House - Living Room Mantle.jpg




New Orleans!

Well guys we’re back from vacation (did I tell you we were going on an anniversary trip to the South?!) and making some good progress at the Ravenna House. We started laying pavers in the backyard and the windows are officially replaced (and look great).  But I’ll save all that for next week.  Today I want to show you a few pictures from the most magical city I’ve ever been to…New Orleans!

I completely fell in love with this place. The stone sidewalks, southern hospitality, sunny weather, and talk about old houses! It’s an amazing city and we’ll definitely be back.

The Grit and Polish - New Orleans Collage 10-14-14

We did a ton of site seeing and eating in the 5 days we were in New Orleans. A few of our favorite actives were a mule-driven carriage ride around the city (departing from Cafe Du Monde), walking around the French Quarter and Garden District, taking the St. Charles trolly, doing a swamp tour by boat, sitting on our hotel’s balcony, and seeing Oak Alley plantation. And eating at EAT. Crazy good food.  Plus Wilder slept through the entire dinner so Garrett and I actually got to enjoy a meal.  Got to love traveling with a 16-month old 😉

New Orleans, I miss you already! Until next time…


p.s. In case you’re planning a trip to New Orleans soon, check out these great guides from Love Taza (here and here) and Joy the Baker (here).

p.p.s. This house has so much going for it. Old, check. Beams and brick, check. A greenhouse off the bedroom, check. Used as a movie set, check. What more could a girl want?!

p.p.p.s. Halloween sweets are for adults too!

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702 Park Project

Sarah at 702 Park Project (one of my absolute favorite blogs) invited me to do a guest post today.  You should head on over and check it out!  So why is Sarah’s blog one of my favorites?  Yup, you guessed it, I’m obsessed with her old house!  It’s a 1902 American Foursquare, which they’ve been renovating from top to bottom, and it’s dreamy!

Thanks for having us, Sarah!

The Grit and Polish - In the Kitchen with Bubba



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