living & dining room remodel

The main changes that were done for the living room & dining room were switching out the carpet for hardwood floors and removing most of the wall mirrors.

The only wall mirror we kept was the one above the fireplace because the frame around it made it look modern and it fit the aesthetic we were going for. We replaced the pink tiles around the fireplace with new marble tiles and bought a new fireplace door. The wet bar was completely redone with the same cabinets, countertop and mosaic as the kitchen and the faucet was replaced with a new one.

Here are some before and after photos:


Sources: cabinets & countertops by Fullerton Cabinet // mosaic, marble tiles & hardwood floors by Choice Granite // drawer pulls & handles (that were added later) // faucet // fireplace door // all photos were taken by my husband, James


kitchen remodel

Before we closed escrow on our condo, we already started planning the remodel. We knew everything in the kitchen had to go except the fridge because it looked new and matched the look we were going for: white, grey and modern.

The white cabinets and grey counter tops were an easy decision. But we went back and forth on if we should use quartz, granite or real marble. We ended up choosing quartz because it was hard to find a grey granite that we liked and real marble stains and yellows too easily. We didn’t know what kind of mosaic we wanted but as soon as we saw the one we chose, we knew it was the right one. It has marble and pale mint glass, which surprised no one considering our wedding colors were mint & grey.

In addition to replacing all the cabinets and counter tops, we also moved the placement of the fridge and pantry. By moving the pantry to where the microwave and stove used to be and keeping the space where the pantry used to be open, it made that corner look much bigger. We’ll eventually add a built in breakfast nook bench.

All the under cabinet lighting was installed by James. Even though it was his first time, he did an awesome job :)!

What transformed the space the most was removing the doors and widening the entryway to the dining room and removing the blocks on the ceiling that was covering the HVAC vent. We had our contractor shorten the vent  and move the opening so that only one wall needed the block. With the entry way wider and the ceilings higher, our kitchen looked twice as big as it did when we started.

Here are some more before and after photos of the space:



Sources: cabinets & counter-tops by Fullerton Cabinet // mosaic by Choice Granite // dishwasher // range // range hood by Superco // pendant lights // drawer pulls // faucet // all photos were taken by my husband, James


our new condo

{Day 1 of renovations]

It’s been a quiet few months on this blog because I’ve been busy renovating the new condo James and I bought at the end of last year. It’s 1,800 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms located near Century City. You can actually see my work building from the balcony!

Renovations began right before Christmas and ended last week.

We still have a few things to take care of (fixing windows that won’t shut, replacing a rusted doorknob, getting some of the doors sanded and repainted, etc.) but for the most part, it’s done and will be move in ready soon.

Now, we just have to find a suitable tenant.

We bought this place with the intention of moving in eventually – maybe when we have a kid or two. But right now, we’re perfectly happy living in our 480 sq. ft. (rented) studio. Not to mention, the overhead cost of our new condo is twice our rent so we’ll be saving a lot more money staying put ;).


Valentine’s Day tradition

{Valentine’s Day 2011}

Back in 2011, James and I started a Valentine’s Day tradition: rent a movie and eat pizza (usually Dominos) and sushi at home. We didn’t know it would be a tradition at the time. But it worked out so well, we’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day this way ever since, with exception to 2012. In 2012, James got his first paycheck right around Valentine’s Day so we went to a nicer restaurant to also celebrate his first full-time job.

I got the idea to stay-in for Valentine’s Day when I realized how stressful this holiday was for so many couples, especially couples who were semi-long distance. James was living in Irvine at the time while I was living in Los Angeles. So we lived justtt close enough where it didn’t make sense to NOT spend Valentine’s Day together.

That night, instead of showing up frustrated like he usually did after sitting in 2 hours of traffic, James showed up relaxed, knowing that that was his one stop for the night. And when he’s more relaxed, he’s also much more romantic, which makes me feel happy and relaxed. We enjoyed a relatively inexpensive dinner, which still felt indulgent because who eats pizza and sushi in one night?!

What’s great about our tradition is that it takes the pressure off. No more deciding on where to eat, what to wear and what we’re going to do to make this day “special.” And without pressure, Valentine’s Day is a lot more fun for both of us.

So if you haven’t made any Valentine’s Day plans yet, why not considering making a night-in your new Valentine’s Day tradition?


2017 (looking ahead + goals)

Twenty seventeen is already shaping up to be an eventful year.

First off, we have at least 8 weddings to attend (possibly more). And since one of the weddings will be in Boston, we’ll be taking advantage of the short flight to New York and visiting the City right after.

In addition to our Boston/New York trip, we also want to travel in the Spring – perhaps an Alaskan cruise or a trip to Europe. And because we had such a great time celebrating our one year anniversary in the Bahamas, we’ll either go back again for our two year anniversary or visit another tropical island – Turks and Caicos, maybe.

Aside from weddings and trips, we also have new condo issues to deal with. We’re still in the renovation process, which is projected to be done at the end of March (hopefully sooner). Once it’s almost done, we’ll have to start looking for a tenant. Our intention is to move in eventually (most likely when we have kids). But we’re renting it out for the time being to save money. And frankly, we just don’t need the space. Our current 480 sq. ft. studio is perfect for our current needs and lifestyle. The thought of moving into an 1,800 sq. ft. 3-bedroom condo actually overwhelms me!

With the new year comes new goals. I used to focus on habit changing goals like exercising more and drinking more water. But I find goals like that to be way too vague and difficult to track/quantify. So now I make what I like to call “one time goals” – goals that you only really need to achieve maybe once in your lifetime.

For instance, last year, I made it my goal to finally complete my citizenship application. I had been a permanent resident for 20 years and was eligible to apply for citizenship the last 15 years. My mom never got around to it when I was younger and when I became an adult, other things took priority (finishing college, getting a job, getting married, etc.). After the wedding and honeymoon was over, I decided it was time to finally get this thing done once and for all and 2016 was going to be the year. (This was accomplished back in May!)

For 2017, one of my goals is to finally post that studio apartment tour video I’ve been working on.

Another goal is to scan all printed photographs that don’t have digital copies. So pretty much all photos prior to college. The thought of losing all my childhood photographs, especially the ones with my parents, to a fire or earthquake gives me a lot of anxiety. I know I will feel a lot better when I have a scanned copy of every photo as backup :).

What are some of your goals for 2017?


2016 highlights

I didn’t think 2016 could be nearly as eventful as last year (with our engagement, wedding and the death of our two dogs…) but it definitely was.

Here’s a quick recap of the highlights in chronological order:

  • meeting one of my favorite bloggers
  • having my voicemail played on The Minimalist’s podcast
  • traveling to Taiwan where James and I introduced one another to our extended families for the first time and did a wedding photo shoot
  • becoming a US Citizen (and voting for the first time)
  • attending the Selena Gomez concert
  • continuing the tradition of an annual Palms Springs trip with my college girlfriends
  • driving to SF (stopping by Fresno on the way up & San Jose on the way down) and biking across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • doing the Bridge to Nowhere hike and bungee jumping for the first time
  • attending my first UCLA football game
  • being featured on Miss Minimalist’s blog
  • getting a raise at work
  • buying our first condo
  • celebrating our one year anniversary in the Bahamas

The one major negative event that took place in 2016 was having to put my bunny of 9.5 years to sleep.


Otherwise, what an amazing year 2016 was.

Happy New Year everyone!


$0 white elephant gift exchange

This year, one of my friends proposed a brilliant idea for our group’s white elephant gift exchange: $0 spending limit – bring something(s) you already have in your home that’s either new or gently used.

As a sucker for any excuse to declutter, this idea got me really excited!

Here’s what I ended up bringing as my gift:

  • a white desktop file (similar to this one) with file folders
  • a perpetual calendar
  • an insulated water bottle
  • a cookbook
  • some unused black balloons

And here’s what I ended up with:

  • 2 bottles of white wine
  • several snacks including a box of Turkish delights
  • a shoe cleaner
  • sage
  • men’s deodorant

I kept one bottle of wine and the deodorant (for my husband) and gave away everything else.

This turned out to be one of the most successful gift exchanges I’ve ever participated in because 1) everyone had a good laugh seeing what kind of clutter everyone else was trying to get rid of 2) a lot of people ended up getting something they could use (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?) and 3) no one had to spend any money!

I will definitely be proposing this $0 spending limit idea for all future gift exchanges.