Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Part 1: Tear Down That Wall

I instagrammed a picture over the weekend of day 1 of the Rivermont kitchen renovation. Since I’ve had several people ask about it since, I thought I’d share some more pictures.

Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Phase 1: Demo | Hannah & Husband

Last Friday, a huge dumpster was delivered to our house. And in all our infinite wisdom, we thought, “Surely the kitchen alone won’t fill this up.”

We were wrong.

I snapped the pic above after day 1 of demolition. Saturday, I left Husband and his #squad* (if Taylor has one, we all should) at the house for 3 hours and went to teach a sketchbook workshop at our local art supply store. When I got back, they’d gotten everything out–cabinets, countertops, appliances–and were proceeding to knock down walls.

*It is definitely worth mentioning that if we didn’t have the amazing circle of friends that we do, we would not have been able to take on a project of this magnitude. Our kitchen is way too big to demolish alone–especially when I am no help! 

Anyway, one Saturday with the boys and several late nights since, the dumpster is now so full we’re wondering if we’ll go over the allotted 5 tons. What I’m trying to tell you is this: My husband is really good at tearing things down, and there is A LOT to tear out of a kitchen. 

Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Phase 1: Demo | Hannah & Husband

If you look closely, you can see a piece of the 1950s pink border with little diamonds that used to line the first ceiling.

Did I mention that there were two ceilings?

The ceiling you would recognize from previous pictures was actually two feet lower than the ceilings in the rest of the house.

Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Phase 1: Demo | Hannah & Husband

Once Husband got all the plaster down, the room was just covered in this wood lathe. You see that couple of bright spots near the floor? That would be OUTSIDE.

“Where in the world is that draft coming from?” The holes in the wall.

One cool detail: You can see how the plaster grabbed on to the wood in the picture below.

Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Phase 1: Demo | Hannah & Husband

Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Phase 1: Demo | Hannah & Husband

And this is what it looks like now. Most of the lathe is down, and it’s time to move on to getting rid of that old insulation. I am so excited about these next steps because the kitchen will really start to take the shape we have in mind. I’ll update you when it does. In the meantime, here are a couple links that may be of interest…

Rivermont when we first saw her.

The kitchen remodel in our 1st home.

Random Links Because It’s the Day Before Thanksgiving, and You Aren’t Paying Attention to Work Anyway

The Christmas cactus I got from a clipping of WooWoo's has bloomed for the first time in it's 7 years here! Rivermont is magic.

The Christmas cactus I got from a clipping of WooWoo’s has bloomed for the first time in it’s 7 years here! Rivermont is magic.

Happy Wednesday! At this time tomorrow you’ll be snuggled up on the couch watching Al kick off the parade at 77th & Central Park West. But today? Today you’re stuck in your cubicle counting down the minutes until you can make a run to the grocery store for (insert random item here). So I thought it would be fun to share few random links I found as well as a few pictures from Rivermont.

Husband got to work when he came home! #newoldhouse #rivermont #kitchen #reno #diy

A photo posted by Hannah B. (@hb_belle) on

I posted this instagram the other night so I thought I’d share a few more pictures. Basically, we’ve decided that the kitchen is going to be a long process, but we’re determined to go ahead and start redoing it little by little. First up, we’ll be switching out the old appliances for some used ones that we bought. Then, we’ll be moving the laundry from a small room in the kitchen to the second level. Since we plan on taking down the walls anyway, I came home to this set up the other night.

Kitchen demo begins | Hannah & Husband

Why yes, that is my husband in a sweatshirt. Demo is one of the few household activities with such a loose dress code.

Cooking dinner during some kitchen demo. | Hannah & Husband

The ladder made cooking dinner a little hilarious. But demo has begun, and I’m so excited! There’s a plumber here this morning running a gas line to the kitchen. Huzzah! So here’s the view from today’s workspace. That dog always manages to find the sunshine.

Dexter sunning in the parlor at Rivermont | Hannah & Husband

And now the links…

Words of Wisdom from Julia Child | Hannah & Husband

I didn’t think it was possible to love Julia Child more after reading My Life in France, but this article by Julia Moskin in the New York Times did just that. It recalls how the Childs’ phone would ring incessantly on Thanksgiving with strangers that had questions about their turkey.

“But Mrs. Child refused to unlist her number or turn off the phone; instead, she embraced the role of national Thanksgiving commander in chief.”

The Times also tweeted out this 1971 snippet…

Finally, we are watching West Wing again. (YES, AGAIN! Don’t judge me!) So here’s a little Thanksgiving clip to remind you that while Julia is no longer with us, someone is still waiting by the phone to assist with your Thanksgiving questions and concerns.

Happy day before Thanksgiving!

Our HOA Meetings Are Better Than Yours

When we moved to Rivermont, I was admittedly a little nervous when I heard there was a homeowners association. I’d heard horror stories about HOA meetings in friends’ neighborhoods, in which neighbors got up in arms about paint colors and flower choices. But we’d heard our organization was not a normal HOA. They were not kidding. I love our neighborhood even more now. The topics were the usual suspects, but peppered into the discussion of the neighborhood were little gems and adorable characters. The whole thing felt very Pawnee-esque so what was I to do? Naturally, I live-tweeted it. Here are just a few of the highlights:




Monday, Monday…

Monday, Monday. 
Can’t trust that day…

But no, seriously. This morning started out with coffee, makeup, and a little on-camera chat with Abby Ham. It quickly turned into the dog having a little party in our absence, and me writing this email to my coworkers: “Dexter made some bad decisions this morning. I’ll be in ASAP.”

Dexter | Hannah & Husband

Dog ownership is not for the faint of heart, people. You’d never know as he sits there so stoically that he had been a little tasmanian devil just moments before. I’m bringing realism today, folks!

Now onto the fun stuff…

I instagrammed this pic last night so I thought I’d better share a link to Alton Brown’s hot cocoa mix. It is delicious, and we always have some on hand.


This weekend, Husband did a ton of work outside including building us a little wood shed! Isn’t it cute? He is going to add shingles to the roof, and we’ll paint it white to match the house come Spring.

Husband built a wood shed | Hannah & Husband

I’ll show you a pic of my own weekend project later. It’s getting there.

Finally: This morning we talked Christie Brinkley, Aziz Ansari, and Luke Skywalker on Mornings with Fox 43. Watch the segment below!

Rivermont Lately

Rivermont Lately | Hannah & Husband

This is one of those “life lately” posts that doesn’t really have any particular point. There are a few happy things I’ve wanted to share that don’t fit in any particular box so I’m dumping them here. For instance, I snapped this pic of Rivermont on Friday night from the mailbox. I just couldn’t get over the colors. The leaves are almost completely gone, but while they’re here, I’m taking as many pics as I can!

Rivermont Lately | Hannah & Husband

Dexter love *love* loves the fireplace. He will lay there for hours alternately staring at the flames and warming his back. I have said since we got married that our next house would have a fireplace, and nightly fires are every bit as fulfilling as I hoped they would be.

Rivermont Lately | Hannah & Husband

On that same topic, I bought a decorative jar the other day just to replace the plastic bag so I could store my marshmallows by the fireplace like a lady. How’s that for adulting?

tie display, Rivermont Lately | Hannah & Husband

Finally, a little peek at the bedroom paint job. Truth be told, I am still searching for the perfect bedding, curtains, etc. But, in the meantime, we really dig the color. Also, men take note: Ties look like art if you display them right!

That’s all from Rivermont for now, but more soon! In the meantime, thank you so much for your sweet, encouraging comments on social. I love how the internet connects people. And I’m happy to have my own little corner of the interspace to call my own.

Related Reading: Opposites Attract

Weekend Foraging at Rivermont

Fall in East Tennessee at Rivermont | Hannah & Husband

If you follow on Instagram, you know that Fall is in full swing in East Tennessee!  Can you get over those colors? This weekend was good for my soul. We made some progress here on the home front, I did a little foraging, and I made meatballs.

Meatballs | Hannah & Husband

I know under normal circumstances meatballs aren’t really that big of a deal. But for our poor Rivermont kitchen, which seems to pride itself on always looking like a disastrous “Before” picture, that evening of smelling delicious was homey bliss. So let’s just celebrate them for a second, ok?

*/blissful thoughts about meatballs… Dean Martin singing in the background…/* 

Thank you. Maybe the best thing that’s happened in the last week was getting the chimneys inspected and repaired. A fireplace was high on my list of requirements for our next space so I was ridiculously excited about this. So excited, in fact, that we’ve been going through firewood like it’s our job.

Fire + Fall Mantle | Hannah & Husband

Kindly ignore the oddly-sized mantle decor and the wood box in the left of that picture; I couldn’t resist the snapshot. When your house is one big work-in-progress, you’ve got to just roll with it.

Nandina Berries & a white pumpkin atop our mantle | Hannah & Husband

On Saturday, I did a little foraging in the backyard. That’s where I clipped these beautiful berries from the nandina bushes. I’m pretty in love with their color, which is a very orangey red that’s perfect for autumn decor. I also went on a little treasure hunt for these beauties.


Pecan | Hannah & Husband

Guess who learned to shell pecans this weekend? I even have the little cuts on my thumb to prove it! And you see that guy below? That’s a brownie I baked with pecans FROM OUR BACKYARD! Foraging with delicious results is the best kind. I just can’t get over it. (Click here to get the recipe for Woo-Woo’s Quick-as-a-Wink Brownies.)

Woo-Woo's Quick-as-a-Wink Brownies with  Pecans | Hannah & Husband

So Happy November from Rivermont! I hope your weekend was absolutely lovely.

Happy November | Hannah & Husband


Last night, I got home around twilight. I pulled a can of champagne from the fridge (Yes, that’s just as ridiculous as it sounds. See comments below.), and proceeded to take a little walk around the yard.

The angel trumpets have exploded and there are several new flowers that I need to look up. There’s a path I’m hoping to line with bricks this weekend. Then, when I walked into our side yard, I looked up and saw the waxing crescent moon perfectly framed between the silhouettes of the trees.

Twilight at Rivermont | Hannah & Husband

Quiet walks outside can offer the most brilliant moments of peace, don’t you think?

Paint the Town Red… Coral… Tangerine… Persimmon

Here’s a dirty little secret: I am super unproductive as a creator of fabulous things when Husband goes out of town. I do not paint the town red. I kind of get in a funk and only do the bare minimum–laundry, dishes, shower. Last night, I went to an HOA meeting and then got completely engrossed in the Walt Disney American Experience on PBS. Also eating ice cream in my pajamas. My original plan was to write thank you notes and do some design work… Fail.

So to remedy this, I’ve made a To Do list full of mostly left-brained tasks that can easily be completed and checked off. At the top I’ve written:

“Pick out pretty paint chips.”

Tonight, I’m hoping for my own Mrs. Blandings moment… because my bedroom is currently beige. Beige! And that’s not a color I choose to recognize.

If you’re in a painting mood, here are a few posts I wrote about painting our first house:

Picking an Exterior Color Palette

Then, Hannah Went Over to the Dark Side

Four Generations of Rivermont

This weekend was off-the-charts epic beginning with a special visit on Friday afternoon. As we were running around getting ready for my 30th Birthday Bash, three very special guests stopped by.

We’ve been lucky enough to get to meet all four Kerr boys that grew up in this house including Chris, who lived here with his own family when we bought it. He is such a sweetheart, and, being a fellow history-nerd, we found an instant connection. So as a birthday surprise, he brought over two members of Rivermont’s living history for us to meet.

Four Generations at Rivermont | Hannah & Husband

(R to L) Hannah and James Slaughter, Christopher Kerr, Frank Pettaway, Whitney Dunford (and Angel) | Photo by Christopher Kerr

Whitney Dunford (seated on the far right) is the granddaughter of the very first family to live at Rivermont the Harveys. Next to her is Frank Pettaway. Frank lived at Rivermont with his grandparents who owned the house from 1936-1957. I’m hoping this will be the first of a few visits with these two! It was so exciting to hear about the house’s beginnings. Frank even started naming off the animals that lived on the land when it was still a working farm.

Frank is holding a painting of Rivermont done by W. Russell Briscoe in 1939. With the exception of a tree here and there, the “ol’ barn” as Nancy called it remains unchanged. It was so special to get a glimpse of the painting in person! Briscoe is somewhat of a folk art legend here in East Tennessee. He was an insurance man that served on several boards in Knoxville. But his wife, Deas Adams, seemed to be the one that encouraged his artistic side.

During the Great Depression, they started a toy company, and I’ve read that their dollhouses were even sold in FAO Schwartz. This painting of Rivermont is said to be one of his earliest–he wouldn’t actually start painting seriously for nearly two decades. But it does display the saturated colors of his other paintings. And bonus, it shows my very favorite angle of the house! (Click to see this eerily similar picture I took a few weeks ago.)

Briscoe’s paintings are bright depictions of small town life with a somewhat flattened style that brings the scene closer to the viewer. Each painting is a nostalgic view of the subject and will make you feel like you’re looking at memories rather than specific places. (Click here to see more paintings by W. Russell Briscoe.) 

Four Generations at Rivermont | Hannah & Husband

When we bought the house, Chris presented us with a framed print of Briscoe’s Rivermont painting signed by each of the “Kerr boys” that were at closing. It hangs in our dining room.

Cinnamon Almonds & Pics from the Weekend

Cinnamon Almonds & Weekending Pics | Hannah & Husband


We had such a great weekend. We spent some time with friends and also got some quality whittling done on that Rivermont to do list. We started on the yard when we got home on Friday, and Husband actually ended up laying grass seed ’til 10 that night! We discovered some new things in the yard including this beauty which shot up over the summer.

Cinnamon Almonds & Weekending Pics | Hannah & Husband

One thing I love about the internet? The free knowledge base for plants and flowers! I have so many friends that know more about these things than I do so anytime I learn something new, I just make a note so hopefully I’ll remember next time. The lovely lady is called an angel’s trumpet and the flower is 11″ long from stem to stern. I’ve never seen such a big flower!

Cinnamon Almonds & Weekending Pics | Hannah & Husband

This rose bush is tangled up in the rose of sharon.

Cinnamon Almonds & Weekending Pics | Hannah & Husband

We found this model airplane in the china closet, and I’m pretty obsessed with it at the moment. It looks like the dash in the cockpit was hand drawn.

Cinnamon Almonds & Weekending Pics | Hannah & Husband

Cinnamon Almonds & Weekending Pics | Hannah & Husband

While Husband was laying grass seed, I spent some time preserving tomatoes. You can read about how I peel tomatoes in this post. These frozen fruits will be like treasure come late fall!

Cinnamon Almonds & Weekending Pics | Hannah & Husband

Finally, I whipped up some cinnamon almonds, and I thought I’d share the recipe. I always need a little crunch with fruit and yogurt, and these are perfect! Plus, they’re so easy to make.

Cinnamon Almonds & Weekending Pics | Hannah & Husband

Cinnamon Almonds

1/2 cup sliced almond
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Toss until all almond slices are covered evenly. Set over to broil and watch like a hawk! These can burn quickly and truly don’t take more than 3-4 minutes.

Cinnamon Almonds & Weekending Pics | Hannah & Husband

Try them! They also make a great snack.