A Baby Shower and Maternity Photos

Last weekend was filled with family, good memories and celebration. Even though the weather decided to be terrible (43 degrees and rainy…it was 80 degrees and sunny last weekend) we still enjoyed the outdoor festivities. Our couples shower was held at Camden State Park and was camping themed, which ended up feeling like real camping. We made hobo dinners, played games, and stayed warm by the fire while enjoying the company of our families.

The next day, the weather wasn’t much better, so Brian and I had a few maternity photos taken inside our apartment. I hadn’t set up a professional photographer, so my sister took them for us. I think she did an awesome job.

We only have 6 weeks left until we get to meet our little one. I feel more prepared now that we had our shower and are stocked up on baby items. We are so lucky to have the support of our families, our baby is already spoiled with the cutest outfits, coolest gear, and most awesome toys, all thanks to them.


Day 9 – 13 of Home Renovations

Welcome back to our home renovation story. This extra long weekend was packed with projects, so get ready for some big updates.

We arrived back at our house on Thursday evening, day 9 of renovations, and began hanging up finished cabinet doors. During the week away from our house, we brought the cabinet doors back to our apartment and finished them. Each door got 2 coats of Zinsser primer, and 2 coats of Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Enamel (1 coat on the backsides). The existing chunky dark metal hardware was replaced with more delicate, brushed nickle hardware. The results were drastic.

At this point, I was jumping for joy at how beautiful these updated cabinets looked. Painting them was a lot of work, but I think it was worth it.

We also replaced the brass hinges with matching brushed nickel ones. The hardware also goes really well with the stainless steel appliances.

Here are some before and after progress photos. The large cabinet doors needed a different kind of hinge, so those haven’t been hung yet, but look at the difference.

On day 10 of renovations we started building up the sunken floor. The difference in height was between standard board sizes, so all the boards had to be ripped down before being placed.

While the floor was being worked on, the cabinet drawers and doors that got left behind got their final painting done. Here is the primer we used for everything. We didn’t sand anything, just cleaned the wood before application. Two coats of primer seemed to be doing the trick of getting a solid color. An awesome tip to make painting clean up fast is using Press & Seal in the paint tray, which lets you use the tray again and again without cleaning it.

The old kitchen island also got primed and painted. It will be reused in the craft room eventually.

Eventually, we would like to do a white subway tile back splash with dark grey grout, but we figured that could be done later.

Floor leveling progress was going well.

It was awesome to see the sunken floor disappearing before my eyes.

By the end of the night, this was how far we got. The rest of the floor will need the plywood to be cut into smaller and irregular shaped pieces.

It’s now day 11 of renovations, and my family arrived late last night. So far today, the sunken floor has been completed! No more awkward stepping down and up to walk through the living room.

One more big project is checked off of our list!

We primed the kitchen island. For the time being, the kitchen is looking very monochromatic, but the island will be painted a dusty sage green once it’s had 2 coats of primer. More color will be added later with decorations, making it easy to change up accent colors.

Our new, larger island has 8 drawers and 2 doors. Without this island, the kitchen only had 3 drawers, and 2 of them are very narrow so they can’t fit a silverware holding tray. We are happy we were able to add more, larger drawers.

Day 12 of renovations brought us beautiful weather to enjoy. The foliage outside is filling in nicely with lush greenery, making our backyard more of a private oasis, which is ideal for us.

We started prepping the window trim for painting, as all the wood trim on this level will be painted white. Eventually, I’d like the whole house to have white trim, but one project at a time, right?. First, each window needed a good wipe down. The window fixtures were labeled and removed. Then, we taped off the glass only, because the walls will be painted after the trim.

We started priming the inner most window parts that could be opened, so they would have adequate time to dry before being closed.

Another project we started was trimming out our boring core doors upstairs. Since all the trim will be painted white eventually, we needed a way to update our doors because a solid, white, flat door isn’t very attractive. This also adds a little more character to our home. I’ll write more about this door update later when they are finished.

Late that night, we were able to finish up the final enamel coating on the kitchen island. We used Sherwin Williams Pro Enamel. Tomorrow, we have a counter top guy coming to measure for our island counter, so I wanted the island to be as complete as possible.

The bar stool is a collaboration of Brian’s and my dad’s. A while back, Brian and I found a similar bar stool at a furniture shop, and we really liked the industrial look of it. The price of it wasn’t in our budget, especially because we were planning a large island with space for 5 bar stools, so we came up with a design and my dad helped Brian weld them together. They aren’t quite complete yet, they will have a ring for your feet to rest on, and the other 4 wooden tops need to be stained and attached. More on this project later.

It’s now our last day at our house for a while. On this 13th day of renovations we got to see what our updated core doors will look like.

I think it’s a huge upgrade from a flat, boring door.

We hung up a few of the large cabinet doors in the kitchen, but we were a few hinges short, so that project will have to be completed next time we come up.

We drilled holes for the island hardware. This will have the same handles as all the other kitchen cabinets.

Here is one of the windows with a single coat of primer complete. It will need one more primer coat before a final coat of enamel.

A few of the doorways (the garage door, the closet by the garage, and the front door) got 2 coats of primer finished as well as a final coat of enamel. I think the door itself may need a new, non-yellowish coat of paint, too.

Finally, some before and after progress photos to show you how much we have accomplished!

The first ones are of the kitchen progress.

The second are of the living room progress.

Other projects that we worked on this weekend were:

  1. 2 coats of primer on all baseboards for this level were done
  2. We set up a drywall guy to come finish off the walls this week
  3. We visited a stone place to get a quote on our fireplace. They are ordering us a couple samples to look at next time we come up.
  4. Bought paint for the master bedroom, nursery, craft room, library wall, kitchen island, baby furniture, and trim
  5. Welded bar stools together
  6. Extended floor vents in living room
  7. Patched drywall
  8. Started to lay down resin paper on the floor, but we will need a different product before we can lay hardwood

So, looking back at my original list of projects, we have accomplished quite a lot.

  1. Tear out all flooring – DONE
  2. Take down “half” walls separating the kitchen and formal dining room from the living room – DONE
  3. Reconfigure the electrical – DONE
  4. Raise the sunken floor – DONE
  5. Raise the fireplace and give it a makeover – half done, stone samples ordered
  6. New hardwood flooring for the whole space – we purchased it, but haven’t installed it yet
  7. Paint the kitchen cabinets, update the hardware – DONE
  8. Replace the kitchen island with a larger island that fits 5 bar stools instead of 2 – DONE
  9. New, bigger island counter (we are thinking quartz) – ordered
  10. Paint all trim white, including windows and stair railings – started, a lot more to paint still
  11. Paint all the walls – will do after trim is done
  12. Library shelves to the ceiling with built in desk for the “study” room – not started yet
  13. Updated light fixtures – not to this point yet

It will be a while before we are back at our house. In the meantime, there are a couple projects that can be done while we are at our apartment. We have an old crib to refinish as well as a dresser that will be in baby’s room, bar stool tops to stain, and a bassinet to make.

In the upcoming weeks, we will have a baby shower and potential maternity photo shoot, so stay tuned.

Day 5 – 8 of Home Renovations

Welcome back to our home renovations! It’s day 5 and we are jumping right back in to work.

Since we are raising up the sunken living room floor to be level with the rest of the room, the fireplace needs to be raised first. Before, it was sitting directly on the floor, but we are raising it up so that it will have a hearth to sit on. So far, an opening has been cut out for the new location. Next, a platform will be built for the fireplace to sit on.

The kitchen cabinet boxes are starting to be primed. Visually, this is a huge difference from the wood color they were before. They will need 2 coats of primer to be solid white.

On day 6 of renovations, we primed the large cabinet drawers and doors that we left here. All of the other doors were brought back during the week to our apartment to finish.

After 2 coats of primer, this is what the cabinet boxes looked like. The wood grain still shows, but our goal wasn’t to get rid of it. I’m happy with how solid the color is. We decided to leave the inside laminate alone for now.

Day 7 of renovations brought us more dramatic results. The fireplace platform was built and the fireplace is now in it’s final location. How awesome is that!?

All of the kitchen cabinets got coated with enamel. We went with Sherwin Williams Pro Classic in Extra White.

The old kitchen island was used a lot during this process for a painting table. I’ve decided we will reuse it for craft room storage underneath my sewing table, so I went ahead and primed it, too.

On day 8 of renovations, the cabinet boxes and outsides of all the cabinets got a second and final coat of enamel, just to be sure the coverage was even and excellent.

Everyday of work is bringing us that much closer to our final vision and goal. It feels great to get projects checked off of our list.

Next weekend will most likely be my last up at our new house before baby comes. I plan on not traveling at all during the final month because you never know. We plan on next weekend being a super long weekend of work. My parents and brother will be joining us at our house, so hopefully a lot of projects get checked off our list with the extra help. See you in a week!

Day 4 of Home Renovations

Welcome to day 4 of renovations. It’s the next weekend, and we are back at our new house. This time, we were only there for one full day, so let’s see what got accomplished.

After a long sorting out, the electrical finally was removed from the “half” walls and the studs came down. You can now see the entire kitchen from the top of the stairs and it’s wonderful. We purchased a few builder’s grade cabinets for our new, larger island and roughly placed them with a makeshift counter top to visualize what the final layout will be.

The lack of walls made the space so much brighter, and we love all of the natural light.  It’s really awesome to see such a dramatic change already.

The space feels so much bigger.

Here is the future library wall. On the left are the 2 cabinets that will go on either side of the window. Underneath the window will be a built in desk. Above the cabinets and window will be bookshelves to the ceiling.

After a lot of research, we decided on using Zinsser Primer: Coverstain.  This is an oil based primer that is supposed to stick to all surfaces without sanding, plus it dries in about an hour.

Here is the first coat on some of the kitchen cabinet drawers and doors. We learned that you have to mix up this primer really well before each use. It covers pretty well and seems to stick to the surfaces. It will probably need 2 coats to be solid white, though.

So, from the first day to now, here are a couple before and during photos.

Since we weren’t going to be back for a week, we brought most of the kitchen cabinet doors (left the drawers and large doors) back to our apartment to finish priming and try out the finishing paint. We purchased Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Enamel in Extra White, so we will see how that goes.

We are happy will the progress so far. I hope you are enjoying our journey of renovations. See you next week.

Day 1 – 3 of Home Renovations

It’s day 1 of renovations. After signing all of the paperwork, we finally closed on our house and we can’t wait to get started renovating. Since our current living situation is 140 miles away from our new house, we will try to drive up and work on it as many weekends as possible.

We actually had a while to plan out our projects and decide our priorities, so we knew what we would start with. The first task was removing cover plates, light switches, and outlets in the walls we would take down. These plates and switches are all the old, cream colored plastic you find in any old house and will be replaced with modern, white ones.

Next, we decided to take the fireplace mantle and surrounding tile off since we weren’t going to be keeping it. Plus, Brian was dying to get his hands dirty and smash something. One sledgehammer, a pry bar, and 10 minutes later: satisfaction.

We didn’t stop there, the walls didn’t stand a chance that day, there was too much excitement happening. Slowly, the open floor plan started to reveal itself and it was better than we imagined.

The only surprise so far was all of the electrical running through the “half” walls. This would all have to be moved before the studs could come down. But, look! There is the kitchen. The space already feels so much bigger. Lastly, we took out all the old flooring and called it a day.

Day 2 of renovations brought us quite the surprise. In the sun room, we found a small area beneath a window that looked like mold, so naturally Brian tore into the drywall to check out the situation. We found the remains of an ant colony and it was pretty amazing what damage they did. Luckily, it was no longer in use and no ants were to be seen.

We removed all of the previously infested insulation, which was contained to just below the back wall windows, and spray foamed to seal out any future ant raids.

We removed all of the kitchen cabinet doors and hardware, but not before making up a numbering system so the cabinet doors could easily be re-hung in the correct place. Next, all the wood was cleaned because we were going to be painting it. It took a long time to wipe down all cabinetry, some of the doors had a build up of grime from years of use, especially the doors above the stove. We used a mix of 50/50 vinegar and water.

On day 3, we had a little time to clean up before hitting the road. It was a good couple of days, but we already felt exhausted, so we were glad to have a put-together apartment to go back to. No worries, we will be back next weekend.



Our First House: The Main Floor

Welcome to our new house! The main floor is the one we will be focused on renovating before moving in, so here are all the “before” photos. Beware, it’s slightly odd and a little outdated, but hopefully it will become what we have envisioned after a lot of hard work.

The main reasons we purchased this house, our first house, was the location, the space, and the potential we could see in it. It is not a bad commute for work, close to a park and many stores and is in a nicely developed neighborhood. The indoor space is quite big, perfect for our soon to be family of 3 and our lifestyles. I needed a room to run my business, Birds Kept North and to create in. Brian wanted a space for wood working and other projects we constantly seem to be working on. We wanted a 2 stall garage (because Minnesota winters, you know), a nursery, a guestroom, a decent yard, multiple bathrooms, and a large, open kitchen. We found nearly all of our wishes filled with this house, and what it doesn’t have, like an open floor plan, we will create.

So, here it is. The house was built in 1992 with some out of date features, like a sunken living room (does anyone know the purpose of these? UGH.) and black and white checkered linoleum. Notice those odd walls…the actual ceiling is 14 ft. high so the “half” walls make the space awkward. You can easily see over them and their only purpose seems to be to make the space as weird as possible. The door on the right leads to the garage.

Main Floor Entry

Turn to the right and you’ll see the front door. A ton of natural light streams though it during the day. This abundance of natural light drew us in because that isn’t an easy feature to add if you don’t have it. To the right of the door is a staircase that goes up to the bedrooms and down to the guest room and finished basement.

Front Entry

Now looking over to the left is the kitchen, oh, you can’t see it? We will be fixing that.

Looking into the Kitchen

Now, if you stand over by the garage door and look back into the space, you’ll see the formal living room with the sunken floor, the gas fireplace, lovely lace curtains, and where that odd wall ends.

Formal Living Room and Fireplace

The fireplace isn’t exactly what you’d call “modern” but hopefully will be after we are done with it.

If you look from the top of the stairs, you can really see how odd those walls are. You can also see a little more of the kitchen on the left. The room on the right was the formal dining room, notice the ridiculously long fixture for the chandelier.

From the Top of the StairsNow entering the formal dining room, you’ll find yourself in a tiny space that wouldn’t fit more than a small table and chairs. We are going to forgo a formal dining room and create a library/study space here instead.Formal Dining Room

Entering the kitchen, you’ll find yourself surrounded by standard oak cabinets, chunky, dark metal hardware, and not very exciting linoleum flooring. We do like the layout of the kitchen because it can be opened up to the main room and still makes sense. It has an abundance of storage and an island, which I really wanted. The counter tops are black granite, and those will be staying.

The Kitchen

Back up a bit, and you’ll see where the fridge is located. We got lucky that all the kitchen appliances are very new and don’t need replacing.

Kitchen from the Sunroom

Turn around and you’ll find yourself in the sun room. During the afternoon, this room floods with natural light and is quite beautiful. This will be where a dining table will be. It feels like a natural space to put a table and has the best views when all the shades are open.


Next to the fridge is the pantry. It is basically a set of 4 super deep cabinets with pull out drawers. I’m really excited about this because it frees up all the other kitchen cabinet space and leaves us plenty of room for food storage as well as our odd assortment of appliances, like a waffle maker and quesadilla press. There isn’t such thing as too much storage, right?


So, basically that is the main floor. The projects we hope to get done are as follows:

  1. Tear out all flooring
  2. Take down “half” walls separating the kitchen and formal dining room from the living room
  3. Reconfigure the electrical
  4. Raise the sunken floor
  5. Raise the fireplace and give it a makeover
  6. New hardwood flooring for the whole space
  7. Paint the kitchen cabinets, update the hardware
  8. Replace the kitchen island with a larger island that fits 5 bar stools instead of 2
  9. New, bigger island counter (we are thinking quartz)
  10. Paint all trim white, including windows and stair railings
  11. Paint all the walls
  12. Library shelves to the ceiling with built in desk for the “study” room
  13. Updated light fixtures

I’m aware it’s quite the list, and we may not finish it all before moving in, but I believe all the “dirty” work that causes dust and chaos can be done before moving. SO…..are you ready to start some projects? I know I am!



Welcome to Birds Kept North

Hello and welcome to my first ever blog post! My name is Kelly Korver, and I am firstly a wife to my wonderful husband, Brian.

Brian and Kelly on their wedding day.

I am also a modern day maker, adventure seeker and DIY enthusiast from the midwest. I was born and raised in North Dakota, but now live in Minnesota with my husband. My life has always been full of creative projects mainly focused on sewing and painting but my scope is ever expanding. I started my own company called Birds Kept North in the fall of 2012 while I was still attending NDSU for a degree in Apparel and Textiles. After I graduated, I jumped full time into Birds Kept North and have been learning and creating ever since.

A lot has been happening in my life lately. My husband and I just bought our first house, which is in Lakeville, MN, (we are currently in Marshall, MN) so we will also be moving in a few months, FINALLY! If you know me, I’ve been patiently waiting to move to a place that better fits our ideal lifestyle. My husband and I love the great outdoors and places with plenty of hiking and trails for bike rides. I love being able to spend time at a local coffee shop and visit unique boutiques featuring handmade and locally made items. There will be so many more opportunities for us moving from a city of 13,600 people to one with 59,800 plus being super close to the twin cities and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I can’t wait!

However, we won’t be moving right away for a couple reasons. One of these reasons is that we will be renovating the main floor which includes the kitchen, formal living room, sun room, entryway, and formal dining room. The rest of the house could use updates as well, and someday will be done, but for now our focus is the main floor. Another reason we are waiting until around August to officially move is that we have the luxury to take our time because my husband will be slowly transitioning jobs. I’m looking at this as an opportunity to get renovation projects done we might not have done otherwise, learn things about our new location like where the nearest grocery store is, and be comfortable and non stressed about living in a brand new place.

BUT.. the most exciting reason we are waiting around, which will also be the most life changing one, is that we are going to become first time parents! Yes, you read correctly, our baby is expected in just a few short months, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

As of right now, I haven’t quite decided what direction this blog will take. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you, offering advice, and talking honestly about how life changes when new babies and new places come into play. So follow along if you are looking for some creative inspiration, renovating a house or thinking about renovations, picking up your life and moving cities, starting your own business, expecting a baby, or seeking adventures to make life more satisfying. I’ll be here through it all.