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A Blank Slate

"I used to feel bad that I couldn’t afford to buy the beautiful buffet in the window of a fancy home design store or look longingly at the couch on display at the furniture store."

Ilerwoods blog kitchen
Ilerwoods New Kitchen

We would gratefully take other friends and families “hand me downs” so to speak when we were first married to furnish our home. We welcomed the furniture and decor but I remember telling myself that someday we would be able to go into a store and buy that display item that was pristine, shiny, and absolutely brand new.

What I didn’t realize is that although those items are lovely, they do not have a history. When we bought our 1935 fixer upper, we had a blank slate. Every room needed renovations and we had an empty canvas to create our own “showcase rooms.” As we began to work on the aesthetics of the home, I realized that every room was being brought back to life. The markings on the door jam of children’s heights, the carved etchings in the cement, even the old furnace in the basement that took a few minutes to heat up, these individual pieces collectively unified this old home. With that being said, I looked at my vintage pieces I collected over the years, and realized that every item in my home already did tell a story.

With that pivotal aha moment, I was ready to transform spaces in our home and yard that would fit our unique personalities, not what the advertisements and marketing gimmicks were trying to sell me for so many years.

Ilerwoods before Kitchen

When we took on the kitchen renovation, we had to dig deep to figure out a creative landscape that would evoke a warm feeling. Transforming the kitchen was an understatement. We had a long galley kitchen, with cupboards galore and then a random accent wall with plank siding and electrical cords dangling from a wall. There were no windows to see out of the “breakfast buffet” and the space was lacking character.

I thought to myself: what does a space really mean in your home, in your backyard, a balcony hideaway, or even a mental space? Every space that an individual creates is a reflection of their beliefs, their individuality, and their focus.

I relied on my childhood memories of sitting around our kitchen table having family dinners. The table was the focal point of our time together laughing, crying, eating, completing homework, and decorating holiday cookies. I also thought about one of my favorite Iler family road trips which was living in a converted barn in Bend Oregon for a week. The rustic feel of open beamed ceilings, coffee percolating in the morning, and windows to open to fresh, crisp air represented pure balance to my family and me. That memory I wanted to entwine into the kitchen transformation as well. So, how did we do it?

As we began to research the cost of creating a window in the kitchen, we realized that was out of our budget. When I looked up rustic bar stools that I wanted around the table, that too was out of our budget. So, I created a digital vision board of what the end product would look like and from there we began.

Ilerwoods Farm Table

The end product consisted of a beautiful farm table that Scott built. I had seen a picture of one in a magazine and Scott quickly assured me that he could create it! I wanted simple lines with a table that stood higher off the ground so we could stand and chat around this focal point. With a gray wash on the wood, this table feels like it has been part of our home for years.

The chalk painted palette wall replaced the plank siding accent wall (see my upcoming blog on the adventures of palette projects). We had an assembly line of Iler girls sanding each piece of wood, chalk painting the boards in hues of tan, white, pale green, and then we literally hand picked each puzzle piece to fit on the wall.

Ilerwoods- Mason Jar Lighting

The fluorescent lighting was replaced with Vintage 1940s mason jars that my mother in law had gifted to us, with amber lighted Edison bulbs. I had seen this at our favorite pub in Bend Oregon and I loved the warmth of the lighting. Scott and his assistant (our 9 year old daughter) worked tirelessly one weekend to tackle this project.

The curtains were hand sewn by a talented seamstress whom I call a lifelong friend. The materials she uses and the detail she can provide to textiles are extraordinary.

And the chairs? Well, let’s just say that my mom worked her magic on old chairs that were ready to be placed in a landfill. Her artistic touch far surpassed any chairs that I could have purchased at a store.

Ilerwoods Pallet Wall

The icing on the cake for our kitchen? Scott’s family had given us a vintage kitchen hutch when we were renting a house. We had no place for it in our home so I begged Scott to store it in our one car garage. The truth of the matter is that it sat in a musty garage for 7 years. Every time Scott wanted to donate it, I pleaded with him to save it a little longer. The wooden hutch traveled to our home and still sat in our garage. When we finished the palette wall, we took a step back and I thought, now is the time to bring in the hutch! The mint green knobs, the cream colored painted wood, and the rusted hinges fit like Cinderella’s slipper in our breakfast nook. It completed the area.

This space that WAS one of the most unattractive places in the house, has become a favorite place to gather in our home. The focus and vision I had in my head became a reality. Many times, we have a dream or an idea that has been circling in and out of our thoughts for many years, we push it away because it is not feasible, it is not the right time, or it quite honestly is not in the budget.

There is a popular proverb that says “Necessity is the mother of invention.” When there is a need for something, we are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it. When something is not tangible, that is when our creativity comes into play. Give yourself some time to really think about what items you have that can be repurposed, upcycled, or transformed. My old pieces of furniture became new again, with just a stroke of a paintbrush, a sanding belt, or a repurposed canning jar. On a cool morning, as I drink my cup of coffee from my farm table, I can almost see the Three Sisters snow capped mountains in Oregon and hear the chatter of childhood memories.

Visit our Ilerwoods Shop to see some of the unique products featured in this blog. If you are interested in having us create a pallet wall, contact us at

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OMG, I just love what you did! That does not even resemble what was there before!!! I can't wait to see it in person and I'm so happy I got to be a part of your journey to Iler Woods!

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