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Nikki Tran Blog | Designer. Artist. Photographer bio picture
  • Hello Friend…

    and welcome to the blog! I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with Rusty, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just the two of us - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with your cup of tea and begin reading. Enjoy, friends! (Latest posts on the right!) --->

Hello dear friends!

(Music? Yes, let’s.)

We’ve been busy over here, adjusting to the new home and life we’re making in this quiet neighborhood tucked inside the Twin Cities. The bathroom upstairs already has been getting a lovely makeover – brown has turned to blue, tan to white, and an old sink has been replaced by a new, old looking, pedestal sink. It’s something like a mini spa to me. I’ve always wanted a blue bathroom – for some reason the old house’s bathroom never became one. Perhaps it was all the orange wood and the absence of a window.

The little bathroom in our new home has a big window with white trim, the door is white, the trim is white, the freestanding tub is white (I would call it a claw foot tub but sadly the feet were removed – no idea why!!), and our new storage organizer above the toilet is white. Everything is bright, and really it should be, especially in that size of a bathroom (when Paul and I are in there together brushing our teeth, we have to do a little dance to get around each other and the door). It’s not quite done, but I’ll show you some progress photos. I’ll be hanging a few art prints on the wall still, and I’m planning on free-handing some words over the doorway. I’m still not quite sure. I love that it feels spa-ish to me. I’m honing in on that feeling.

So here is our bathroom before we moved in, taken from the MLS website. It still looked like this until a couple of weeks ago when we decided to change out the sink. It was too small and I really had no room for much in that area.

We bought this lovely. :) I’ve always wanted a pedestal sink ever since living in my childhood home and we’ve always loved bronze hardware, thus our decision to pick this combo. Once Paul took the old sink out, we realized the pipes were pretty far out from the wall, hence the pop-out bead board wall Paul had to add behind the sink, otherwise there would be a huge gap. :)

Here it is completely finished (except for a tiny bit I have to paint on the edge)! Isn’t it lovely?! I started painting the top part of the walls a very light blue (called Streetwise from Behr) – it’s not yet finished. :) And when it’s time for calming bubble baths, I light that candle and only have the lamp on for light. It’s divine.

Bathroom Remodel | Nikki Tran Blog |

And here’s the other side of the bathroom BEFORE I did anything to it. The rack behind the toilet came with it, but it was pretty wobbly and things would often fall through the shelves. I needed better storage. I’d been getting ready every morning in the much tinier bathroom on the main floor (it’s right off of Paul’s office) and I just wanted this space to have my things (Paul’s bathroom is the beautiful one in the basement – subway tiles, a heater, vanity sink…it’s lovely.)

And here we are today with it! The bottom will all be white to blend in with the tub and bead board wall, and the blue is on the top. We got the beautiful storage cabinet from Target (it looks incredibly crooked when looking directly at it, but our house is old. Floors are slanted. What can you do? :)) That art print on the storage container is available in my Etsy shop in case any of you want some lovely Jane Austen words in your own cozy bathroom (or any room in general, it’s not picky).  What do you think? Does it feel spa-ish to you?? :)

I’m beginning to love so much about this place. The sun is absolutely divine when I come home from work. It’s cut from the blinds and makes patterns on the corner hutch in the kitchen, and it bounces off the fall colors in the dining room making it extra warm and snug. The living room is a tiny little cave during the day, and then in the afternoon it’s full of warmth and little pockets of light. The sun sets right in front of our porch, pouring into the living room through the tree branches. I was worried, when we moved in, that we wouldn’t have any light in this house because it was so close to the neighbors and surrounded by so many trees. But it’s proved me wrong and I adore the speckles of light on the walls throughout the day.

NikkiWe’ve been hosting a bit more now that things are settling down. There are still boxes and random artwork lying around – a few too many stacks of books piled in corners on the old, wood, floors – but we’d never see people if we waited until the house was perfect. My aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and immediate family came over for pumpkin pie, Easter pizzas, donuts, and drinks the other weekend. We talked and sipped in the light of that gorgeous sun. They all approved of our new house, stamping it with love and hugs.

Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comPaul’s family came over this past weekend to celebrate my nephew’s 9th birthday, complete with ice-cream cake and magic shows. (He is incredible – someday we’ll be reading about him and how he began to do magic at the age of 7.) We showed his parents our new home, chatted over pizza and cake, and ended the evening watching the beloved The Little Giants movie with the kids and our brother, Joe. (I relive my youth every single time I watch that movie. Becky was my hero and Jr. made me swoon.)

And then just a few nights ago, Paul and I celebrated being married for 6 years. (I’m lucky, I know.) Although our anniversary was Sunday, he surprised me with dinner reservations on Friday night at a cute farm-to-table restaurant down the road (it reminded me of one of my favorite restaurants in Jamaica). We ate duck and sweet potatoes, sipped wine and beer, and cheered to 6 years over an on-the-house triple chocolate shooter. Perfection.

Our Anniversary | Nikki Tran Blog |

In between the busy-ness of our everyday lives, I try to sneak in time to paint. I’ve been creating homemade cards for my family whenever there’s a birthday or special occasion, and I’ve been having the most fun with it. My family and I have a lot of inside jokes, mostly from old movies, so there’s always details only they would appreciate. For example, my dad’s Father’s Day card is below…from Field of Dreams. :) I’m just finishing my nephew’s birthday card – he’s a fan of the pizza-eating turtles so his card will have some green faces and cheese-dripping pizza painted on.

Field of Dreams Watercolor Card | Nikki Tran Blog |

And that’s pretty much been life over here. One of our guilty pleasure shows is on (Naked and Afraid – don’t judge until you watch. It’s unbelievable.), Rusty is snuggled in the few inches between me and the couch, and I’m still on a mini cloud 9 after visiting our old town after having a dentist appointment today. (I love my hygienist so I don’t plan on changing dentists, no matter the drive.)

After the dentist I walked down the street to my favorite antique store – where almost everything in our house is from – found an old library’s lecturn that will be used as a bookcase, an old photograph of our old town, and an old, crinkly copy of Treasure Island. I walked out with all my goodies, packed them in the car, then took a short walk to the coffeehouse to get my favorite coffee smoothie. With coffee in hand, I roamed the streets of my favorite little town, soaking in the sights and sounds and probably looking a bit odd to others with my big smile on my face. It’s autumn and that town looks like a postcard. I could just kiss it. The lake was bright blue and people were walking everywhere. When I made my rounds through my favorite spots, I drove to our old street and was too thankful my neighbors were outside. We hugged, caught up with life, played fetch with Harley, and then it was time for me to go home. The sky is still there, open and beautiful as always. The trees are bursting with color, and our little lake is still glistening with the setting sun. I love that place, but as always it’s wonderful to be home with Paulie and Rusty, no matter where that is.

Have a wonderfully, autumn-like weekend, friend! I’m hoping we’ll have some time to pick out that most perfect pumpkin, perhaps pick an apple or 5, and drink tea on the front porch. :) Cheers, friends! xoxo

Home at Night | Nikki Tran Blog |

  • MelanieNovember 22, 2017 - 8:06 pm

    love hearing your updates and glad for all your good news…ReplyCancel

    • NikkiNovember 27, 2017 - 6:44 pm

      You are too kind, Melanie! Thanks so much for visiting my blog! :) xoxoReplyCancel

Nikki Tran Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHello dear friends. Some relaxing music before we start? Yes, let’s.

I feel as if this conversation has consumed my entire being for the last few months, so I’m hoping this will be the last big chat about it on my blog – hopefully you’re not too sick of hearing about it. (I feel so melodramatic about the subject, but what can I say?)

Our first home will be officially sold tomorrow. Paul and I pre-signed on Monday, the new owner is officially signing tomorrow afternoon. It’s hard to believe it’s actually happening!

We had a wonderful good-bye, however. On Sunday, after watching Rusty’s best friend for the weekend (he was so thrilled!), we drove him and his things back to his house since it’s right across the street from our lovely old home. I punched in their garage code, left Harley inside the house with all his goodies, shut the garage door, and walked across the street to our home one last time.

Paul and I cleaned out the rest of the house – there wasn’t much left except a few odds and ends. The curtains had been shut for a few weeks so I opened them to dark, moody clouds over the lake, let the windows open to breathe life into her…gave her a little last bit of love. Our best friend/neighbor Kraig came over (walked in just like on Seinfield like he always has done) to help Paul move some heavy things from the house, and while they were taking care of that important stuff, I had other important things on my mind.

Out the dining room doors I went, onto the deck, breathed in a big cold breath of fresh air, and walked towards the garden. My lavender was doing so well – boldly purple and smelling like Heaven; the roses were still springing tiny bushels of sweet-smelling buds; the hydrangeas were already turning its dark and moody color for the winter; the apples were ripe and bright red hanging from the tree; and the vegetable garden was still somehow flourishing – no consistent water and no love in a few weeks, you’d think it would stop producing? It had just rained but I opened the gate and walked through the mud anyways. The bell peppers were enormous and turning red (of course I picked a few, wouldn’t you?), the jalapenos were also bright red, and the basil…oh that delicious basil. I couldn’t be greedy – I have a basil plant in my kitchen so it can always smell like summer. I picked things here and there, dodged a few dropping apples, and made my way through the rest of the yard, watching the lake move angrily about. Winds in the East and such…

Nikki and Paul Tran | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comAfter all the work was done in the house – I went back in to help vacuum and clean some last minute things – Paul asked if I wanted to walk through one last time. Of course – why else have their been tears on the brims of my eyes this entire time? Time to let it all out!

So we walked through each room, me touching the walls and making sure everything looked just right for the new owner, trying to remember this house’s every little detail. Out to the yard we went, our favorite part about this house. We walked along the stone path to the swing – something we would do a lot, especially on those over-stressful days at work or in life – and took our spots to enjoy the lake. We didn’t say much, I was too busy sniffling and wiping my eyes. But we sat there taking in all the sounds and smells of this little corner of Heaven (to us it really was), knowing that the next time we see it, it’ll be from afar while visiting Kraig or Bruce and Traci. What an odd thing to think of! Someone else living here? Goodness, I hope he keeps the roses.

As we made our way back inside, we stopped at the garden – Paul grabbed a red jalapeno for us to try (hot, hot, hot) and I clipped a rose from each rosebush to hang and dry at our new home.

Sentimental? Me? No way.

We said one last good-bye to the inside of our first home and pulled the screen door behind us for the last time. My heart may have actually broken a tiny bit at that moment.

Paul had us take a picture outside in the front yard (as you can see above my eyeballs are a little red and shiny) and then we gathered our things and hopped inside the pickup truck.

Nikki Tran Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comAnd now here we are, picking up where we left off; a home-cooked meal here and there with the sound of records finishing, long walks through the quiet neighborhoods (the best for trick-or-treating), and the deliciously slow, hot, bubble baths with a glass of wine in hand. Life’s little treasures, right? We’re having an impromptu family party this weekend – I absolutely can’t wait. It’s time to fill this old (new) house with a lot of love and “Dear Diary” moments.

Rusty is pawing at me to go to bed now – who needs a clock around here? Jammies are already on, the heat is set so the mornings aren’t so chilly and feeling like winter, Paul’s getting us glasses of water, and there’s a lovely book about Walt Disney waiting for me on my nightstand.

Cheers to you, dear friends, and to the (almost) weekend! xoxo

Hello dearest friends!

It’s time for an update, wouldn’t you say? The last you heard from me I was raiding my garden for as much basil as possible before the big move. And now we’re here!!

(Music? Yes please.)

It has been a whirlwind to say the least. The past few weeks have flown by and we’re already on our 3rd week of living here. We’ve already had dinners in our dining room while Frank serenades us; we’ve drank wine under the twinkle lights on the front porch; we’ve had big breakfasts on a lazy Saturday morning (if you follow me on Instagram you know that’s one of my most favorite things to do on a weekend); we’ve taken walks at sunset along picket-fence lined houses; we’ve had movie nights in the tiny, cozy, dark living room; and we’ve already begun dreaming for our new garden(s).

Moving itself was a lot of work. Who knew one could accumulate so many things in a short amount of time?? (We lived in our first home for only 5 years.) Needless to say I’m in a down-sizing mood. Is it useful? Do I absolutely love it? Fine. If not, it goes. Why do we need 8 sets of dishes?? 16 champagne glasses? 10 tablecloths? Clothes I haven’t worn in over a year? It’s just the two of us so I have to keep that in mind when I look at our belongings. Someday Paul and I are going to live in a much smaller house (think Tiny House Hunters but a few more 100 square feet) so purchasing and decorating needs to be intentional over here, for my sanity and for the sake of our old house’s creaky beams.

While it was a lot of work, we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful neighbors/friends & family. Kraig, Bruce, and Traci helped so much on our first night here (the guys + Paul moved almost every single piece of furniture in here in one haul. I am still so grateful when I look at all our stuff). My sister Toni came to help that night, too, bringing with her a sense of home and belonging with some lovely house-warming gifts. Having her there helped truly make it feel more like home (sisters are good like that) – between us 3 girls we made sure the boys were fed and had enough beer and wine to drink (I hear that helps achy moving muscles). Of course I cried when they all left and kept wanting more hugs as they backed out of our driveway…

Paul’s brother Joe and my niece and nephew (Emily and Ethan) came over the following day and did even more good to our home. While Joe and Paul tackled big moving tasks and hung up TV’s (very important around here ;)), Ethan and Emily carried in more boxes from our moving trailer, I unpacked, and together we were able to make this place a little more liveable. At one point all the boys went to Home Depot for more tools/necessary just-moved-in items (like chocolate) so Emily and I turned on the music and began decorating. She helped me move the big rug around and lay it just right under the dining room table; she carefully unwrapped my tea things and made my tea cart feel at home with all the teacups and teapots nicely arranged; she helped me decide which pretty books would go on the bookcase and which ones would have to wait for another bookcase (we left the fireplace at our other home for the next owner so I’m without much needed shelves). With girl talk and decorating and sipping tea, she was the other big reason this house felt more like a home that night.

And once the dust settled and things began to come even more together, we had my entire little family over – only 3 days into moving! We unpack quick. It’s still so new to me when we all are able to get together as a family. You might remember from previous posts that my brother and his family lived in New York for quite some time and only just moved back to Minnesota a little over a year ago. So these times with them all together are precious to me. Having all four nephews over at once is the highlight of my day and sometimes I can’t help but join in on their fun or snuggle with them during a good movie. (They keep getting bigger each time I see them. Noo!! Stay little!! Hold my hand forever!!)

I tried to document the first weekend here with all the help coming and going (except for the first night with the neighbors and my sister – ’twas a fast-paced-all-work-no-play night and they did it wonderfully). Be warned, there are a lot of photos, but I barely documented the beginning of our last house and I don’t want to miss anything this time. :)

And now that life is settling down again, I’ll be back on here at least once a week. I’ve got loads to tell you, lots to show you, and my long list of blog ideas are waiting to be crossed off. :)

We close on our first home in just a few weeks – I know I’ll be a mess after signing the house away, but I know I’ll learn to love this house the way I loved our first. Ah! Just thinking about it gets me all teary-eyed. :'( I recorded a few videos of life in the country before we left so I could always hear those sounds and almost feel like I was in our garden or among the cornfields.

Anyways!!! No more sad talk! :) Enjoy the new home, friends! And excuse the mess, of course. :) xoxoxo

We closed on a Thursday so right after signing Paul and I took our already-packed trailer to the new house. :)

Welcome to my new office! The light is absolutely dreamy in here.

We know what’s important – kitchen table and chairs with a cozy lamp was the first thing in the house.

We. Have. A. Storm. Cellar.

The bright dining room! See the details on the trim?? Even the electrical outlets are so beautiful.

We didn’t spend the night the first day. Instead on Friday, Paul and I met at the new house after work (I brought food, he brought another packed trailer) and we started our first official day in the house with dinner on the front porch. :)

Not the best photo, but document we must!

I told you about the new couch – here it is!! We moved it in, just us two, and it’s my favorite place to be now. :)

These were taken after Kraig, Bruce, Traci, and Toni left. (So sad I didn’t think to take photos during!)

Rusty exploring his new place. :) He wasn’t so sure about it…

So. Much. Stuff.

The aftermath of eating pizzas, drinking wine and beer, and moving with friends.

Our first night! Our box spring wouldn’t fit up the stairs so we’ve been sleeping on the mattress for the last few weeks. (Paul forgot to bring the pillows/sheets hence the couch pillows.) Can’t complain!

And the next day Joe, Ethan, and Emily came to entertain us. :)

Moving In Weekend 2017 | Nikki Tran Blog |

They love their cousin.

This is when the house really started feeling like home. Kids have that magic with them I suppose. :)

Then two days later the rest of my family came over, and the big camera came out of the box! How do you like our box collection? :)

My family (minus 3 little boys – probably playing hide ‘n’ seek in the storm cellar). :)

Rusty’s still not sure about this place…

Haha Chaser’s face.

Another aftermath from pizza and wine in the kitchen.

My little loves. :)

:) :) :)

They gave us all a concert. :)

We never had a photo taken of us in front of our first home, so this time Toni took our photo. :)

It’s a lot darker in there than the photo shows – the perfect movie room.

And just the other night we had my Nana an Gramps over for a big, delicious crab and shrimp dinner, complete with records, wine, lots of laughing, and good family stories. Each day it’s feeling more and more like a home, especially when close friends and family walk through the door.

Move In Weekend 2017 | Nikki Tran Blog |

And here’s what life looks like now; Rusty has found his new spot, in our bedroom on a pile of pillows looking out the window, keeping watch for us.

More things need to be condensed and gone through in this house, so don’t mind the clutter. :)

:) :) :)

What the office looks like now! More downsizing will happen plus some painting. I’m thinking a white with a blue tint – every time I paint a room blue it’s just too blue, so I’m trying something else. :)

The kitchen so far! It’s bright and cheerful and I’m thinking about painting the walls white, painting the yellow table a dark brown (make it look like dark wood), and continue a theme of white with dark brown wood…like a farmhouse. :)

Moving in Weekend 2017 | Nikki Tran Blog |

The living room is my favorite room in the house – utterly romantic and cozy. (There’s me saying “hi” in the mirror! :))

It’s amazing how well our furniture fits in this house. It all used to feel so out of place in our 1990’s home, but in one built in 1907, it just fits. :)

Fall is alive and well in our home! Cannot wait to cook pumpkin pies…soon, friends. :) xoxox

  • MacsSeptember 26, 2017 - 3:09 pm

    Congrats to your new home. Your home looks just so nothing but amazing.ReplyCancel

    • NikkiOctober 16, 2017 - 3:45 pm

      Thank you so much!! You are too kind. :)ReplyCancel

  • MomSeptember 19, 2017 - 11:55 am

    Like :)ReplyCancel