Build / Design / Home

Blonde Birch Farm: Floors, Doors and Finishes Galore


The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm We closed on our house in early December, but we didn’t move in till the end of January. Truthfully, we are still moving in, even though we have officially been living here for a month and a half. Before we bought the house, the sellers had replaced the carpet downstairs in the family room, but the carpeting on the stairs and throughout the upstairs bedrooms, was absolutely trashed. When I say trashed… I literally mean we needed to entirely replace the flooring upstairs before we could or would actually move our stuff in.

For those of you who have gone through this process, you understand what I mean when I say that replacing flooring opens a rather large can of worms in the renovation department. Before floors can be laid, baseboards need to come off, paint and drywall should be entirely finished – depending on the state of your home it can be a big job. Naturally, this all comes at the period in time when other folks would have been packing and readying to move. One million decisions to make, zero time, and intense back breaking labor for days on end, all while the kids have to be fed, watered and helped with schoolwork. This doesn’t even include the fact that we have one million family birthdays in December and January, along with the obvious winter holidays and this year – hip replacement surgery for my mom. It almost killed me. I’m still recovering.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

In the master bedroom, there was some relatively new wallpaper and a personal heating and air conditioning unit. I know these units work really well, but you guys, what an eyesore. If I am updating and remodeling my house anyhow, I am certainly going to focus on the HVAC (crucial in this climate), so I don’t have to live with one of these above my bed, forevermore. So… wallpaper removal, HVAC unit removal, carpet and baseboard removal, drywall repair and paint for this space. All of this needed to happen at light speed, so the flooring could be installed in here and we could move in. The other spaces didn’t need quite so much work, luckily, but it was still insane.

Here is where that can of worms rears it’s ugly head… Since we would be removing the baseboards, it seemed like a reasonable time to replace the doors and door casings. The former owners had installed security latches and electronic keypads on two of the bedroom doors, essentially destroying the door and frame. So, another decision to make and more work to be done, prior to the floors going in and prior to having any real plan for this house, moving forward. I don’t recommend working within these parameters, this is how mistakes are made people.

So I browsed, sampled and clicked my way through every store both online and locally, to find the perfect options at a reasonable price. I found a huge selection of super stylish doors, in both hollow core and solid core, that were extremely affordable, at Lowe’s. They don’t seem to have the best of their door selection online, for some reason, but in their stores, the choices are many and the price is right! No joke. I chose ReliaBilt 2-panel Square Top Plank, but the 5-panel Shaker was a close second. I also chose to buy Solid Core doors rather than Hollow Core, since we are living in close quarters until we add on. It helps cut down on the sound quite a bit. They are a little bit like this door, but with a squared off top panel, as you can see below. I bought 7 doors in various sizes and with various handing for $1100. For solid core doors, that are super stylish, that is a fantastic price.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

Paint color was simple, my go-to is Behr Marquee, color matched to Kelly Moore Swiss Coffee. I typically use a Semi-Gloss for doors and trim, and an Eggshell or Satin for walls. Done and done. Hardware for the doors was a no-brainer since I already had a large portion of what I needed, from a campaign I worked on with Schlage.

But flooring, oh my gawd. What a nightmare. Let me walk you down the rabbit hole of my thought process and what I ended up doing. At first I was thinking that something ‘lifeproof’ would be a wise idea. We have kids, dogs, a rabbit and an absolute ton of mess – all the time. I happen to be a huge proponent of vinyl flooring. Sounds absurd to some of you, I’m sure… but after having lived with a vinyl wood look flooring for many years, in the early days of this type of product, I have come to know and love the benefits of it. Until my kids are grown and out of the house… paying for expensive flooring and having it ruined a little at a time – just didn’t seem like a stress I wanted to take on. As for tile, no thank you. It’s cold, slippery and doesn’t work well for our life stage. Penn had a permanent bump on his head from about 12 months old till he turned three.

But, it turns out there isn’t a wide range of luxury vinyl planks available in the colorway I was looking for. In fact, I never found a single one. Which is weird, but likely just a lag in the product development. In the next two years there will likely be a couple in the specie and color I was looking for. Also, it turns out that luxury vinyl planks are just as expensive as wood flooring. So if I am going to spend the money anyhow, it may as well be for the real thing and not for a somewhat temporary flooring solution. So vinyl was out and engineered or hardwood flooring was in. Once again I was floored at how few options there were in general, and there was not a single affordable option to be found. Anywhere. I think the least expensive option I found, in the style and color I wanted, was around $6 a square foot. Well, I don’t consider that to be affordable and definitely doesn’t leave room for the cost of labor and other materials.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm So basically, we would only be able to purchase flooring for upstairs, so that we could at least move in, and we would have to do it ourselves, because… crazy expensive. We found a few flooring options that we loved, and one in particular that Mike loved. Which is saying a lot because he essentially hates everything, all the time. Honestly the flooring sitch probably deserves a post on it’s own, it was complicated, and cumbersome and there were a lot of factors that went into it – so stay tuned for all the goods on that.

In the meantime, know that we did get the floors laid, we moved in and have been enjoying every single thing about living in our new / old fixer upper. Except of course the drywall dust (that stuff is the devil), living with no doors for longer than I care to think about and constant array of tools that must live close at hand, all the time. But otherwise, absolutely everything.



Build / Home

The Blonde Birch Farm Interior


The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

Pull up a sofa, let’s curl up by the fire and chat about all things DIY renovation, here at the Blonde Birch Farm. Except the fireplace is currently indisposed and not functioning (and partially sitting on the back patio), so we can’t quite do that just yet – but soon – promise!

I took you on a tour of the property last time, and today I am giving you a peek inside at the living spaces. These images show the spaces as they were back in September, before we bought it. For context, this house is a 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home, advertised at a little over 2400 square feet. The house sits on 2 relatively flat, entirely usable acres, which is a magical to find in this area. There is a semi-attached barn conversion with an office and a large workshop-garage space on the bottom and a guest apartment on top.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

After moving in, we discovered that the main house is actually only a little more than 1700 square feet, and that the additional square footage listed, included the office and guest quarters in the barn conversion. I’m fairly certain this isn’t entirely Kosher, but it matters not since we were already planning on a major remodel and addition – sooner rather than later.

The picture at the beginning of this tour shows the view from the entryway into the family room. The image above is looking the opposite direction and toward the entryway. This is essentially the only true living space in the house. Let’s just say I hope to remedy this in the very near future because it is close quarters when we have company. That accordion style door you see in the image above is actually our pantry. Not shown, is the powder room that sits opposite from that pantry.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

You can get a sense of the actual entryway area from the image above. You can also very likely see that this home is not currently open-concept in any way, shape or form. Since we are currently using the family room space as a living and dining combo, it is no longer as open and airy as the pictures make it feel. But, that built in cabinet in the corner there is actually a wet bar, complete with a working sink and a light. Peeking out from the left hand corner you can see the dining room and the stairs.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

The dining room is somewhat enclosed, as a traditional dining room might be, and is situated conveniently near the kitchen. My modern tendencies make this space feel not quite right for an actual dining room, which is probably good since this was the only space that could easily house our piano. This is also why we are rocking the living – dining combo…

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

The kitchen, typically the heart of a home. This one has a lovely window over the sink, but if you have a keen eye you might have noticed that this window is just one of three styles already found in the two rooms we have shown so far. I think the previous owners started updating some of the windows, due to water issues, so this likely explains the mash-up.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

There are a couple of nice appliances in this house, namely the dishwasher, cappuccino maker and a steam oven – all Miele. Aside from those little nuggets, you might notice no obvious fridge in the kitchen, aside from a mini fridge…

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm That’s right, that door you see on the other side of the breakfast nook leads to the laundry room, and that my friends, is where the fridge and the steam oven lie. True story: I didn’t know what a steam oven was and had to look it up! At least we get to pass by the sunny bay window in the nook, along the way.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

Aside from a powder room that sits between the wet bar cabinet and the kitchen, that concludes the main floor of this house… and now for the second floor spaces.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

The master bedroom in all it’s glory. A nice size altogether, though the placement of the door limits the amount of space for nightstands, once a king sized bed lives here.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

The master bath appears to have been updated sometime in the last 5 years, probably around the same time they updated the kitchen. There is a cohesive look between the two, with similar tile for the back splash and surround. The shower is a tub-shower combo but the design is similar to the built in bathtubs from the 70’s and entirely crafted from tile.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

This nifty little space must be some sort of master sitting room or was originally meant to be a study that adjoins the master – I’m not entirely sure.  The previous owners used it as a gym and it has come in handy for me in an entirely different way, so yahoo for that.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

This room above is the first of the other two bedrooms in this house, and currently the room I put the boys in. Neither of them likes to sleep alone, so I put them together hoping it will keep them in their room at night. Alas, this is rarely the case, but a gal can dream… Their window looks out into the backyard and has a nice view of the pool.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

Above is the third and final bedroom in the main house. It is nearly a mirror image of the adjacent bedroom that the boys are in. This room has a window that looks out over the front yard and has a lovely view of the land around us as well.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

Which leads me to the second full bath in this house in all of it’s tiny glory. Behind the curtain lies a tub – shower combo and let me tell you… this space is not large. We are all currently using this bath for various reasons and it is a tight squeeze with a decent amount of inconvenience thrown in for good measure.

The Design Confidential Renovates The Blonde Birch Farm

The last stop on our tour is the guest apartment space, above the workshop. It is large and in charge, to be sure, but there is currently no bathroom in this building, so it leaves something to be desired. Someone staying here would basically need to go leave the apartment, head down the stairs and into the workshop, then outside to enter the main house through the laundry room. Even then, there is only the powder room downstairs so all bathing needs to take place in the second bathroom upstairs. This makes the hygiene sitch a bit complicated.

The previous owners apparently had a thing for watching movies on projectors, hence the large outdoor movie screen in the backyard, and this room was built around that purpose as well. It has a cutout above the bed and an interesting raised platform outside the space, sitting above the stairway. This is where the projector is supposed to sit, projecting through the cutout and onto a screen that used to be mounted to the wall.  There is also some sort of surround sound speaker system built in, but honestly I am not sure it is the most modern of technologies and is likely not going to get much use from me.

I hope you enjoyed this lengthy tour of the house and a major dose of ‘before’ shots… I have so many plans for this place and I can’t wait to share them with you. We are absolutely fumbling our way through the process and there is a huge learning curve – but I guess that is all part of the fun?

Build / Home

The Blonde Birch Farm


The Design Confidential and The Blonde Birch Farm If you are a long time reader of this old blog, you might be wondering about my radio silence for the last couple of months… I heart you all for sticking around and sticking it out! If you follow me on instagram, you may already have a clue what I have been up to, but if not, then you should because at least for the next little bit, I will try my best to be more up to date with the latest happenings over there. It will be more real-time… if you will. So let’s dive in and get you all caught up, shall we? Read More

Design / Home / Shopping / Studio

A Gathering in Indy with Delta


A couple of months ago I had the great pleasure of heading out to Indy with Delta Faucet. While you may not instantly think a trip about faucets would be a great pleasure, I can tell you wholeheartedly it was. I have been on a many, many trips with brands in the past, but this particular event was extra special, not only because of the brand but certainly because of the small but amazing group of bloggers and designers I had the good fortune to be surrounded by. Read More


Free DIY Furniture Plans // How to Build a Queen Sized Murphy Bed

Ever seen a piece of furniture perform a magic trick? Voila! Check out this queen sized murphy bed plan! When in the closed position, this plan looks like a cabinet with 2 shelves and tons of storage. Need a bed and not a cabinet? Simply remove shelf items, remove the carriage bolts that secure the bed in the upright position,  and you have a fancy bed! If only everything could be this magical.
DIY / Entertaining / Studio

DIY // Faux Marble Pumpkins



It’s that time of year again, when the faux pumpkins start to spring forth from my faux garden, or a little place I like to call Michael’s… and this year’s design is already set in stone with a DIY Faux Marble design. You see what I did there? Yep, feeling pretty clever today. Actually it has been something of a tough couple of weeks here at the Turner Casa so I am scrambling to catch up and a bit scatter brained, so hopefully this tutorial isn’t all over the place! But truly this DIY project is far easier than it looks, so hang on to your socks and let’s take a trip down faux finishing lane.

Read More


Reader Showcase // An Emmerson Dining Bench

Look What I Built! Using Free DIY Furniture Plans from The Design Confidential #builtTDCtuff via @thedesconf

A gorgeous Emmerson Dining Bench to match a gorgeous Emmerson Dining Table…. and an adorable pup to model their hard work for us. I’m not sure it gets any better than fur babies and real babies, in an on furniture, acting like humans, that are in and on furniture pieces built by said humans. So good, am I right? A fabulous build indeed, thanks for sharing with us on Instagram @Josie_Havana.

Built From These Plans
To Read More About This Build, Visit This Blog Post


To view hundreds of other amazing real reader builds, check out or showcase page. Of course you can also browse our hundreds of plans and build yourself something amazing. If you have built from our plans and would like to show us your hard work, please send me an email with pictures and details of your build!


Free DIY Furniture Plans // How to Build a Countertop Storage Tray

You Can Build This! Easy DIY Furniture Plans from The Design Confidential with Complete Instructions on How to Build a Countertop Storage Tray via @thedesconf Increase your counter space with this countertop storage tray, by going UP with this simple, elegant and super quick build! This plan features a 2 foot wide by 5-1/2 inch deep and 8 inch tall countertop storage tray to stack those items that you need in a pinch… spices, cups, books and more. Did we mention how cheap this build is? We challenge you to make it out of scraps – that’s right, a $0 cost build!

I hope many of you had a lovely holiday weekend and my heart is breaking for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. If you have some sincere ideas of how we might join together as a community and physically help those in need, please speak up. I would love to brainstorm with all of you super smarties….

Read More

Design / Home / Shopping

Form Versus Function / Family Room Design Plan


The Design Confidential Family Room Redesign Mood Board + Design Plan When last we left off on my family room redesign, you actually had no idea I was even working on one. It has been such a crazy year around here so far and I am glad to have both kids back in school. It gives me the chance to resume something of a normal schedule. With both boys home, there is no chance of getting much done around here, at all.

Read More


DIY Furniture Plans to Build a Steppe Tallboy Dresser


DIY Plans for a Steppe Tallboy Dresser have been high on my project request list for quite some time. Many of you have been asking and we are finally bringing you a few matching pieces to coordinate with our ever popular Steppe Dresser! I love a good chest of drawers, and when those drawers are stylish… well that is simply my fave! We have so many DIY Dresser Plans for you to choose from and of course you can browse our entire Plan Index for coordinating pieces!


Read More