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

    and welcome to the blog! I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves the romantic things in life. Tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, old and worn books, slow-dancing to records, painting by candelight, lakeside walks with Rusty, and starry-night picnics with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just the two of us - I hope it brings you smiles and happiness as you snuggle in with your cup of tea and begin reading. Enjoy, friends! (Latest posts on the right!) --->

It’s finally here!! I’ve finally sat my butt down and blogged about our kitchen makeover!! And it only took me 5 months to do it. Ha! Oh goodness…

So, a little background on why and when this all started before you see the big revealing. (The prolonging will make it more exciting than it really is…:)) Okay! We moved in this little house (it’s not super little – we wish it were) a little over 4 years ago, back in spring 2012 when the market was at its low point. It was cheap, it was somewhat different than the other houses on the street and other houses we’d seen in our price range, and it had a wonderful view of the lake behind us. All in all, we couldn’t complain. We were home-owners!!

Fast forward to just a few weeks later, and the orange wood was starting to get to us. It’s not just in one room – it’s literally everywhere. It’s in our GARAGE. On our GARAGE DOORS. On the BASEMENT WALLS. On the TRIM. On the CUPBOARDS in EVERY ROOM. Our kitchen was saturated in orange because of all the wood cabinets and trim. We were able to fix up the upstairs bedrooms by painting the trim white but we were hesitant to tackle any other room because, like I said, there was a lot of orange. After hearing from one of our friends (hi John!!) about this cabinet painting kit that only took them a weekend to do in their kitchen, we bought it, thoroughly excited about shedding the orange. And although our intentions were good, that kit sat on our kitchen floor for years. We talked about it, dreamed about it, sometimes even reached to open it, but still the kit stayed untouched.

Until March 2016.

I don’t know why, but it was suddenly like, What are we still doing with this orange kitchen?!?! Are we mad?! So one random night, we ran to Home Depot to also buy wall paint (why only start one ginormous project? Why not add more work?) – I had this vision of a warm, brown, rustic, cozy, Italian kitchen – even though our cabinets were going to be stark white. So anyways! There we are one night, Paul starting the cupboards with the kit (which was expired so we had to buy another new kit while we were buying wall paint) and me tackling the walls. We turned on Pandora, going back and forth between 90’s R&B (“Alllll myyy liiiiffee!! I’ve prayed for someone like you!”) and today’s country hits with a little Backstreet Boys in between (my choice, obviously). We ate random snacks and stayed up way past midnight (Paul eventually decided to take a day off the following day to continue our noble quest) and before ending that first night, I talked him into busting out the gosh awful bar that stuck out from the kitchen bay window. YES!!! That had been on my list of to-do’s since day one but Paul was always against it. Not only did I use my charm to get him to take out the bar, but also the ugly, useless, 90’s computer desk!!!! SUCCESS!! Oh gosh, it was absolutely therapeutic taking a crowbar to all that orange. I was dancing around the kitchen, completely beside myself with glee. :)

And then of course as all home projects go, once you start one you can’t simply leave it at that. So our painting projects turned into new flooring, new countertops, new kitchen sink, new hardware, new faucet, new (used) furniture, new lighting, and even a new back-splash. Yes, that’s right. We attempted it all and surprisingly, did most of the work ourselves (I can’t take too much credit – I painted 1/2 of the cupboards and all of the walls while Paul did all the dirty work, like hooking up the sink and dealing with the disgusting garbage disposal, or screwing in 3 different kinds of hardware because none of them fit anymore because of the paint, or hammering out the bar and desk. Paul’s my rock, what can I say?), saved ourselves a bunch of money, and holey moley we are in love with our handiwork and my visions of a cozy kitchen come to life. We sit in the kitchen for dinners now, turn on the record player and the little table lamp for company; we’ll sit there during a thunderstorm and drink coffee (him) and tea (yours truly); he’ll sit there and watch me bake or cook dinner while we tell each other about our days; we’ll drink wine and admire our work, happy to have each other and this little house. ‘Tis not a bad life, friends. :)

So, without further adieu, let me show you OUR KITCHEN!!! Let’s start with the waaaaaay before, shall we?

Here is our little kitchen before we moved in. This was taken off the realtor’s site. It really wasn’t horrible, just a lot of orange. Also, notice the bar. It shall be gone soon!

Again, another one before we moved in…

And then here it is just a year after we moved in. I was apparently too lazy to have the curtains – made by Momma – on the top half of the windows. Again, notice the ugly bar and the ugly desk on the left.

And TA-DAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! Isn’t she lovely?! The bar was replaced with an old bistro set I found on Craigslist – something I had pictured for years. And do you see the cute café painting above the bistro set? It actually says “Café Nikki”!! My name is never naturally on anything, especially spelled the right way, so when I saw it at Kohl’s I HAD to have it.

The cabinets were painted white, we bought new bronze hardware, and you can even see a hint of brick wallpaper we used for our back-splash (yes, wallpaper!!).

The sink wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t feel the need for a two bin sink, nor did I care for the stainless steel. I hate the smell of it when it’s being cleaned and I hate the grime that accumulates so easily. We originally wanted a farmhouse sink, but it just didn’t work with the space we had. Instead, we opted for this beautiful white, deep, single sink and I LOVE it.

The faucet is so pretty and antique-like, I just love it! And the COUNTERTOPS!! Who knew they made laminate wood countertops?!? Not me! A cheap alternative to the butcher block look and it looks wonderful! Also, love our dish dryer. :)

Did you know that the pot rack and island didn’t come with the house? We found them at a neighbor’s garage sale just a few days after we moved in. Best $5 purchase ever. Plus, the island is also where our garbage is! Sneaky sneaky!

I just love this. So much brighter, but cozier too. (Paul says don’t mind the dishwasher – he didn’t raise it high enough when he had to remove it for the countertops (also a disgusting job) so soon he’ll be fixing that. :))

So cozy. I just love it. Have I mentioned I love it?!

See the rest of the orange in the other rooms?? Unfortunately, we’re not even attempting the railings. We must live with it. :)

My favorite spot! I read here, I write here, I dream here, I cuddle with Rusty here, I eat & talk about life with Paul here…all good things happen here.

New kitchen things call for new pretty coffee mugs. Watercolor poppies!!

And if you’re wondering what happened to the computer desk area…TA DAA!!! This used to be my mom and dad’s yellow table and we got it when we moved in this house. For years it acted as my lens table up in my office, but now that I’m retiring and a brand new working girl, there was no need for it. So it’s the perfect place to store baking essentials, cookbooks, Rusty’s food, and other random stuff that seems to accumulate over time, i.e the junk drawer that everybody has (top left drawer).

And there you have it, friends!! Was it worth the long, procrastinated wait?? I hope so. :) And I hope it gives you a little inspiration to do things yourself. You totally can! If we can do it, you can do it! Just jump in with a crowbar and see what you come up with! Ha! :) xoxo – until next time, friends! :) :)

  • MeghanAugust 30, 2016 - 10:02 pm

    Would you be willing to share how you did your cabinets? What you used? Did you have to sand? Your kitchen looks BEAUTIFUL ;)ReplyCancel

    • NikkiSeptember 10, 2016 - 2:40 pm

      Thank you so much Meghan!! :)

      Of course! We used the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit – honestly, I don’t think I’d use it again. It “eliminated” the need for priming, but you still use a chemical in the kit to basically sand it down. The paint color itself was not a quality paint. It actually took 6 coats!! All in all, I don’t think we’d ever use the kit again. I think we would do it the traditional way of sanding, priming, and painting.ReplyCancel

Hello dear friends,

What in the world have you been up to?? Have you been MIA all summer like I have? Are you anxious for the wonderful, slow-paced days of fall and winter like I am? (I know most people can’t understand my love for winter so if you’re yelling at me across the screen, I totally understand. :))

What can I say for my behavior? This summer has been all about adapting and going where the wind takes me. Remember when I told you I was quitting photography, never to return? (Not completely going away, but almost. :)) Well, the new chapter has begun in my life and quite frankly, it was a bit of a wake-up call to my glorious-days-of-doing-nothing self. No time for tea! No time for grocery shopping! No time to enjoy the birdies! No time for even (gasp!) making the bed!! The horrors!

What am I blabbering about, you ask? Well, I have been a steady, wake-up early, take a thermos to work (tea in a thermos is absolute blasphemy but I must do what I can) working girl for the past month!! And although it has thrown off my entire routine of not having a routine, it has been absolutely glorious!! I feel alive! I have a purpose!

Don’t get me wrong, I truly loved the idea of working from home, but only when I had a sufficient amount of work to work on. On days I had to think of things to work on, my spirit sank and I became lazy, slightly depressed, and I started resenting the idea of being at home. Sometimes too much of a good thing, is not always such a good thing. So for now until whenever the wind takes me otherwise, I’m an officially employed working girl and I love it.

When I first told you about leaving photography, I told you I had flirted with a bunch of ideas of occupations until I decided to stick with education. For months I was applying to as many education jobs I could find. And until I heard back from any of them, I applied to other places that I thought sounded interesting or suitable for the time being. Having not acquired an education job after a few months of trying, I took a job near our house that had wonderful hours (I was able to come home for lunch and snuggle with Rusty for an hour! Bliss!), good pay, and although I didn’t know it right away, a wonderful tight-knit group of women who I miss terribly. Yes, I already miss them because…I just accepted a dream job!!! Not too long after I started working with these lovely ladies, I received an email for an interview for a school librarian position!!! Yes!! You heard that right. Of course I went (you can’t fight fate) and during the interview I was told I had to actually submit my application (apparently I never did – ha!). I was emailed without even technically applying!! Oh that tricky hand of fate…:)

Fast forward a few weeks and last Thursday was my last day with my new friends at my short-lived job. It was a bittersweet good-bye – I didn’t want to leave them!! It’s really a wonderful thing that in only a short amount of time they grew into my little work family. But, I left a bit of myself there (Cinderella desktop background and a little succulent named Henry :)) and we’ll see each other soon. :) And just like that, one chapter ends and another begins because the next day, I got to finally see my new library!! Already the ideas are bouncing around in my head and I get all sorts of warm fuzzies being around those beautiful books plus an entire wall of windows facing woods. Woods! Could it be any more perfect? I don’t think so. (It doesn’t take much to make me happy. :))

So friends, that’s what’s been happening on the home front over here. I’ve really been having difficulty managing the rest of my life so when I did get a few spare days, instead of cleaning or grocery shopping which is what I should have been doing, I gravitated towards my brushes and paints and created a couple of things for my soon-to-be Etsy shop. I swear, someday that shop will open andhopefully, it will have things that make you happy and then you might even picture yourself admiring it in your own cozy home (that photo on the right is one of them in our own cozy home. And can I tell you something? I love it. Every time I walk by it in the hallway I smile a bit. :).  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?? Something I make because it makes me happy could possibly be in your own home making you happy? Someday perhaps…:)

Although the floors haven’t been swept in weeks and the bedroom still isn’t fully painted and the cobwebs are creeping in the corners of rooms and the laundry pile is falling over and the dust is getting thicker, life isn’t too shabby right now. New chapters are beginning (I can do those book puns now and it fits!) and soon routine will take hold of my life and all will be right in the world. I just finished editing our latest wedding (click here if you missed it!) and now the countdown is only 4 more weddings. Can you believe it?! Oh! I forgot to tell you amidst all the chaos – we were recently featured in Minnesota Bride for Kailee & Kerby’s wedding!! I’m so honored and it feels like such a nice, almost send-off to our years in this industry. It will be over 70 weddings when we finish and although it will be sad to not be a part of it all anymore, it will also be a wonderful ending to this phase in our life. Who knows where we’ll go from here?? That’s the magical part. :)

Teacups, pink blossoms, delicate baby’s breath, elegant lace, sheer pinks, floral prints…a dream wedding for me. Besides the intricate, feminine details, these people hold a special place in my heart. You’ll perhaps recognize Katie and her family from last year’s Irish wedding and if you do, you’ll know that Katie and her family have been in my life for as long as I can remember.

I considered her and her siblings my extended brothers and sisters and her parents, my second parents. Although time has made distance and lives a little more separate, each time I’m with them I feel like that 8-year-old self, listening to Katie’s music (Cher or Bette) blast down the hall from her bedroom, playing video games with Colleen, Erin, and Frank, or watching movies with the entire family. They all mean so much to me so I was all too grateful to be shooting another McGraw family wedding.

It’s been wonderful getting to know Jerry as a person, and Jerry and Katie as a couple and we just couldn’t be more happy for them. Their day was bright, sunny, calm, full of laughter and of course, lots of tears. :) Jerry fits right in to this welcoming and warm family and I cannot wait to see what their future holds together. :) Congratulations a million times you two!! Happy One Week Anniversary!! Pop a bottle of champagne and enjoy reliving your beautiful day! :) xoxoxo


Loved the dress, the pinks, all the feminine details.

Their entire day was held at the Water Street Inn, right on the river in Downtown Stillwater.

Love this!

:) :) 

Ahh!!! Gorgeous Katie!! :) :)

We did their first look in Katie’s room…

:) :) :)

:) :) :)

Love all of these so much!

I was so impressed that even the hallway matched the wedding colors. :) 


Love this!

Hahah!! Love this!

Larry getting Grandpa’s bout on. :)

:) :) :)

Awww Larrrryyy!!

Just married!!!!

See those two people on the left? :) That’s my momma and daddy. :)

Love how these turned out!!

The siblings. :)

Hahah!!! Love the one of Paul and Matt!! :)


Cutest dessert table.

Look at the owls!!

Katie cried quite a bit. :)

And then we stole them away for some moments in the sun. :)



Such models.

Love this one.

Ahhh!!! :) :) :)

I just love all of these.

First dance together!

So sweet – Jerry wiping away her tears. :)

These two had me crying the whole time!

So sweet!!

:) :) :)

My goodness. So sweet!

Love this!

There were some talented dancers that night…

:) :) :)

Congrats again you two!! I hope you enjoyed your sneaky peek!! Love you both and so happy for you!! xoxoxo

(Vendors coming soon!!)

  • MorganJuly 26, 2016 - 2:32 pm

    Beautiful pictures! I love their invitations and the setting. Absolutely amazing work!ReplyCancel

    • NikkiJuly 26, 2016 - 2:59 pm

      Thank you so much Morgan!! :) Her invites were gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • PatJuly 17, 2016 - 7:16 pm

    Very lovely!ReplyCancel