Our Budget Kitchen Makeover: Before + After

The kitchen is easily the busiest room in most homes – and that proved to be even more true after 2020. Finishing our budget kitchen makeover made our quarantine life a little easier, and a whole lot more aesthetically pleasing. We decided pretty early on that we would prefer to start small, and I’m glad we did. Read on to learn about how we dramatically changed our kitchen, all for under 10K!


The home came with traditional style, dark cherry wood cabinetry, ornate corbels, and busy granite counters. I wanted to brighten up the space while keeping the sophisticated vibe that I love, without doing a full gut job. We wanted to keep the high quality cabinetry and granite countertops that were in great shape. I don’t believe in being wasteful with materials unless it is really necessary, and in our case – it wasn’t!

Luckily for us, keeping the cabinets and countertops also meant we saved a ton of money. The entire makeover was less than 10K! Read on for details about our budget kitchen makeover, including cost, paint colors, and links to the backsplash, lighting, and accessories.

But first here are some visuals of the BEFORE:


The first and most dramatic change we made was painting the cabinets. The new taupe color actually made me appreciate the countertops more. The color we used was ‘Shitake’ by Sherwin Williams. We painted the walls around the cabinets the window trim, and the baseboards in Sherwin Williams ‘Aesthetic White’ for contrast.


The cost of painting your cabinets completely depends on the number of doors you have – so if you have a smaller kitchen or less cabinets, the cost will be lower. I got three quotes for painting – ranging from $3,500-20,000. Kitchen Design firms usually provide their design expertise and suggestions in addition to the painting so they are on the higher end. If we were going to do any major design changes I would have gone this route.

We chose a small painting company on the lower end of the scale, because we already had our chosen paint colors. We did end up paying more than we expected because we decided to paint the adjacent eat-in area and family room doors and windows to coordinate with our new pretty kitchen.

In total we spent $5,000 for painting. While budget was a factor, I really focused on choosing a painter with a great reputation and references. I also made sure the cabinets would be spray painted at a factory for the professionally painted cabinet look, as well as to keep the mess out of the house.

Next we removed the existing metal backsplash, and opted for a bright white beveled subway tile. I chose this style because it is classic and timeless. I wanted to really brighten up the space so we decided to remove the two cabinets that were flanking the window, and tile all the way to the ceiling.

The tile was approximately $100, and installation was $600.

We added floating shelves for both function and aesthetics. I was surprised how much use we get out of these shelves – they aren’t just pretty! I know some people think floating shelves are just a trend, but I love them – so even if they go out of style, I won’t care!

Last but definitely not least, we changed all of the light fixtures. I wanted to have something substantial over the huge island, and I wanted an aged brass/vintage look. I found these large globe pendant lights, some may opt for led pendant lights, and fell in love. For the dining nook, I chose a fluted-style pendant that coordinates with the colors and tones. For the kitchen sink area, I added a small clear globe pendant and some vintage style sconces over the shelves.

Overall I’m really happy with the makeover. I love having coffee in here every morning before the kids wake up, and enjoying our new space. Now on to the next project!


Paint Colors: Cabinets: Sherwin Williams ‘Shitake’ Walls and Trim: Sherwin Williams ‘Aesthetic White’ Inside of windows and backyard door: Sherwin WIlliams ‘Iron ore’

Backsplash Tile

Pendant Lights Over Island

Counter Stools

Floating Shelves

Pendant Light in dining nook (sold out Anthropologie but here is a similar style under $200!)

Sconce lighting above floating shelves

Pendant light above sink

Dining Room Chairs

Kitchen Rugs



New Year Life Update

Hi guys! Time for a New Year life update! As I sat down to write this post I realized how much I missed blogging. In case you haven’t been following along with me on instagram – I took a break from creating content last year. I started off the year 2020 posting weekly videos and instagram posts almost daily. I had some help with childcare for Sophia, and Adam was in school during the day – that was until everything came to a screeching halt mid-March 2020.

It felt as though an apocalypse was coming, and I’d argue we are probably still in the midst of it. We are in the biggest civil rights reckoning (at least in my lifetime), we have endured the obnoxious reality tv show that was the Presidential election (thank the LORD that is over), and of course there’s the worldwide pandemic. If that doesn’t define the apocalypse, I don’t know what does. Actually, the definition of apocalypse, (ok yes I looked it up to make sure I was using it correctly…) comes from an ancient Greek word literally meaning ‘an uncovering’, or a ‘revelation’. With all that is going on right now, that seems pretty accurate to me. What will be revealed, I am anxious to see.

While away from the interwebs, I rekindled my love for gardening, reading, decorating, cooking, and painting. I had to let go of what I thought I knew, my plans and goals, and just surrender to the universe and try to find the lesson in all of it.

I started therapy, and I’ve already quit, but that’s a story for another day, but I did pick up a few helpful tools anyone can use. Here are some of them:

I learned to manage my stress by squeezing in moments for ‘me time’. Early morning journaling while sipping an espresso before the kids wake, late-night reading a novel or a bubble bath before bed, and sprinkling in quick guided meditations (usually while hiding from the kids in a bathroom) during the day whenever I felt myself getting frazzled. Working out has also been a lifesaver – I notice the days I break a sweat I am usually happier and calmer overall. These seemingly small actions have been absolute game changers for my mental well-being.

Even though we aren’t out of the woods yet, I’m feeling hopeful for the future and I finally feel ready to get back to sharing things here on the blog. I really miss the creativity and connection I have with you all. Stay tuned for more regular posts soon! If you want to stay informed of new posts, please subscribe if you haven’t already. I won’t spam you, promise!

It should go without saying that I’m so grateful that as a family we were fortunate enough to be able to weather this storm. I feel for everyone who lost their job, or becomes ill, or lost a loved one during this difficult time. I’m not taking that for granted at all.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting my little piece of the internet, wishing you a safe, happy, and healthy 2021!

xx, Z

Sophia’s Big Girl Room Reveal

I am so excited to finally share Sophia’s big girl room with you today! When I say ‘big girl’ room I mean that weird period of time between baby nursery and kids room, in other words, the toddler phase. (If you are curious, here is what Sophia’s Nursery looked like in our old house). We stopped using the crib when Sophia was about two, and she started sleeping on the daybed, so it made sense for us to keep it for her new room. It is in great shape, we put a really great mattress on it, and the extra trundle bed is great to have in case we are called to her room in the middle of the night. I also pull out the trundle bed for a soft landing in case she rolls off the bed in the middle of the night.

I knew I wanted to use this cute Mitchell Black wallpaper, which is just so adorable and looks like a pineapple and a flower. Last time I collaborated with Mitchell Black was on my powder bathroom, and I was so happy with the results I couldn’t wait to work with them again. Almost all of their wallpaper is customizable, so you can change the size, color, and really make your dream wallpaper come alive! They created a custom colorway on the paper I loved, in order for me to tie in the color palette of the room.

I absolutely love the details of this room, from the fluffy cloud-like light fixture, to the vintage desk chair covered with scalamandre fabric. (Because every three-year-old needs a little bit of luxury in their lives right? ha!) We spend so much time in here, reading, playing tea party, or just lounging around. It just really makes me so happy.

I am still thinking about painting the wood trim around the room. Tom jokes that I’m never actually done with a project – and he isn’t wrong about that. This is something I am now leaning towards doing for the entire house. But I don’t paint myself because I am a terrible painter, and due to the current crisis I don’t think I’ll be hiring anyone any time soon. So, for now, the trim stays!

Scroll through to see the entire room, and be sure to check out the before pictures way at the end! I have listed and linked sources to products below as well. Thanks for stopping by! Xx


Wallpaper thanks to Mitchell Black | Rug | Pendant Light | Nightstand | Table Lamp | Wall Sconce | Bookshelf | Bench (reading nook) | Pom Garland | Ruffle Bedding | Bolster Pillows | Daybed | White Octagon Mirror | Round Brass Mirror | Play Tea Set |Desk chair: Vintage | Desk: FB Marketplace | Feather Dreamcatcher: FB Marketplace | Framed Art: Thrifted | Play table: Adam’s old table

And now for the BEFORE:

Six Spring 2020 Trends On My Wishlist

Get In My Closet!

(Bonus: Most of these are a part of the Shopbop sale! Get up to 25% off full-price styles with code SPRING)

  1. Sunglasses are the easiest way to incorporate a trend into your wardrobe. I’m really into this pair that is just as functional as it is stylish.

2. Strappy sandals are going to be the first thing I wear once the weather is even remotely appropriate for them. I love the heel detail on this Jacquemus pair.

3. Culottes – and board shorts for that matter – paired with the strappy sandals above will be perfect for everything from work meetings to weekend brunch. I love this pair especially because it is super high waist – I’d pair with a crop top that just barely grazes the waistline.

4. Loafers – besides my favorite sneakers I recently purchased, the other style of shoe I plan to wear all Spring, Summer, and Fall are loafers. They are so versatile – the slide on makes it really easy for everyday mom life, and it looks great casual paired with jeans, or even with dressy clothes.

5. Puff sleeves – A touch of a puff in the sleeve just makes it so much more interesting, and feminine. I love this tailored style with the simple collar.

6. Croc bags – I’m digging anything with a croc-effect texture, and this ivory bag is it for me – the color will work with everything in my closet, and it will brighten up my outfits for Spring!

Conscious-ish The Podcast

A long time dream of mine has finally come true – I started a podcast! I’ve been wanting to start a podcast for years. To be honest I feel like more than anything, this is my true calling. My mom said even before I could speak actual words, I was talking too much – haha. Seriously though, every single teacher in my elementary school had the same comment on my report card year after year – it read: ‘lovely child but…extremely talkative, which can be disruptive.’

I’ve also wanted a space where I can freely talk about the things that really matter to me. I have these types of conversations on group chats with friends all the time, yet I never share this aspect of me online with my internet family. Plus I just love podcasts, they are my favorite way to consume content, even more than video sometimes. I know it has become a major platform for marketing as well. Businesses can connect with their audience on a more personal level and it has the potential to be a key tool for digital marketing strategies. The audio production and content creation might sound complicated to a beginner, but you have the choice to leave it to the experts who can manage it professionally.

In this first episode, I am just venting about some things I care deeply about, and also encouraging people to get out there and vote. If I can get one person to vote who wouldn’t have otherwise, I would feel like this is a huge success. I do swear more than usual in this episode, I think I was just riled up from the topic, so please note that and maybe don’t play it aloud in front of your children.

In the future I plan to post about everyday topics like Beauty, Fashion, Motherhood, Spirituality, and pretty much everything that is interesting! I hope you enjoy this podcast, if you do- please subscribe, rate it, and share with friends! Right now you can listen to the link below, or you can find it wherever you get your podcasts!

Conscious-ish with Zahra Sandberg

5 Fashion Styling Hacks To Make Your Clothes Fit Perfectly

It’s not what you wear, its how you wear it.

I used to hate how clothes never looked the same on me as they did in the clothing catalogue on the models. Then I started this little blog where I have to-date taken thousands of pictures of myself in different outfits – and let me tell you I’ve finally figured out the secret – these five fashion styling hacks. The fact is, most clothes today are mass produced, which means they simply aren’t always going to work for your unique shape. Learning how to adjust your wardrobe to fit you perfectly is the key to making everything you wear look infinitely better.

Here are five fashion styling hacks that will make your clothes fit perfectly:

butt shaper fashion styling hacks
  1. Invest in the right undergarments. It is the easiest way to enhance your shape without stepping foot in a gym. These are my favorite body shapers that have really changed the shape wear game, they lift and cinch *exactly* where you need it.

2. Use hair ties to keep your sleeves casually rolled up. Take any hair tie and pull it over your shirt sleeve to your elbow. Roll up or push up sleeves (depending on your desired look) and tuck in to hair tie.


3. Belt your loose dresses or long shirts to cinch your waist. This is my favorite simple way to make an outfit really fit right, and it works on every body shape.

4. Use a clear elastic to tighten loose or baggy shirts. Slouchy shirts can be cute but often times they can look sloppy. If you want to make it look a little more neat and tailored, try this trick. Pull fabric together in the front or back and secure with elastic – it will look like a little ponytail. Tuck in to pants. You can also tuck the ‘ponytail’ under into the shirt for a cropped look.


5. Safety pins are your best friend! I use safety pins for everything from tightening my waist that one extra inch, to keeping bra straps from slipping out. You can use them to tuck and pin a sweashirt in the front to achieve a half tuck look that won’t budge. Or if you want to have the off-shoulder top look, pin one bra strap to your shirt. The options are endless.

6. Hem your pants to hit just above ankle. This is by far the most flattering hem length for most people and it works equally well with flat shoes and heels. You can do this yourself by using hem tape or scissors for a frayed hem look, or you can get a professional tailor to do it.

What are some of your favorite styling hacks??

Video: Muslim Women Interfaith Marriages

In this video: I talk to Imaad of @thelondonnikah about Interfaith Marriages. Imaad shares with us his own story, going from leading prayers in a traditional mosque for 12 years before completely changing course to where he is now, leading interfaith marriage ceremonies around the world. He has performed 200 marriage ceremonies to date, and therefore has a ton of great insights and advice to share.

Talking with Imaad and hearing his views on religion and spirituality was incredibly refreshing and inspiring. He also shares some practical tips and advice for interfaith couples who are looking to get married.

A little background: mainstream Muslims believe that Muslim women must only marry Muslim men. There has been some dissent on this, including an Imam who declared it is permissible, and a Muslim country that passed a law allowing women to marry outside of her faith. But despite all of this, the collective majority still puts these restrictions on women and most women tend to comply to this rule (however reluctantly).

Full disclosure: In my marriage, Tom converted. It was primarily for the purposes of convincing my family and community, but also as a way for me to ensure our kids would be raised Muslim. At the time I had also believed the mainstream idea that my husband had to be Muslim, which is something I no longer believe. I’ll talk more about my beliefs and how they have changed since I got married in my next video, stay tuned.

I sincerely believe this is one of the reasons why so many of my beautiful, successful, thriving Muslim sisters in the west are unable to find someone suitable to marry. For years I’ve been getting messages from Muslim women who are looking to marry outside of their faith. I’ve happily given my advice, telling them to follow their hearts and their gut instincts while also respecting their families. It is my hope that watching this video will give people some insight into interfaith marriage and the challenges they may face, and also some courage and hope for their future.

Video: Valentine’s Day Lookbook – 5 Outfits To Copy Now

My Valentine’s Day lookbook includes five outfit ideas to inspire! This year Tom and I are going to do a little staycation in Chicago, and my absolute saintly in-laws are coming in to watch our little ones. I was trying to pick an outfit for my night out and I decided to just film it and create a lookbook video. I hope you enjoy! If you do, please subscribe to my channel. As always, I appreciate you – thanks so much for visiting!

Look 1:

1. Faux leather pants: (exact available in Large) https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAi2 * Similar Style: https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAjm 

2. Top: Similar https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAjy 

3. Necklace: https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAix 

4. Shoes: Similar https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAih 

5. Bag: Similar https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAjU 

Look 2:

1. Dress: https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAnj

2. Boots: https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAlW (only a couple of sizes left) Similar style (under $100): https://shopstyle.it/l/bdApi

3. Ring: https://bit.ly/2SCzvCh

4. Bag: Chanel

Look 3:

1. Trousers: Similar https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAoh

2. Blouse: Similar https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAp9

3. Blazer: Similar https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAoG

4. Heels: https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAoP

5. Bag: https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAoU

Look 4:

1. Top: https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAo1

2. Dress: Similar https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAsw

3. Boots: https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAlW (only a couple of sizes left) Similar style (under $100): https://shopstyle.it/l/bdApi

4. Necklace: https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAqK

Look 5:

1. Pants: Vintage – Similar https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAsH

2. Top: Similar https://shopstyle.it/l/bdAsZ

3. Blazer: Similar: https://shopstyle.it/l/bdArI

4. Heels: Aquazzura (couldn’t find similar)

Video: My Morning Routine (That Keeps Me Sane)

What I Eat, My Workout Routine, and My Recipe For The Perfect Cappuccino

My Morning Routine

I wasn’t always a morning person with a morning routine. Far from it. For the old me, if I was up at 5:00 a.m. it was because I hadn’t gone to bed yet. But just like almost every other aspect of my life, having kids changed all of that. I know that quite a few people are in need of their caffeine fix as soon as they wake up so they can actually start their morning, that is why coffee subscriptions from companies like Iron and Fire as well as other coffee companies are pretty huge! Who wouldn’t love to wake up to that glorious smell, however, I wasn’t just about to do that yet as I needed to figure out my routine that included my kids.

All of the sudden I had zero alone time, and my to do list was never ending. By days end, I felt frazzled, irritable, and like I was suffocating.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom, I love being around my children – just not every.second.of.the.day.

I realized I needed to carve out some ‘me time’ on a consistent basis. The occasional massage on a weekend or bubble bath on a weeknight wasn’t cutting it. Evenings were too hectic and busy so, I decided I would have to wake up early and just fill my mornings with all of the self-care.

It wasn’t easy for me to wake up that early at first, but over time the value I found in taking the time out for myself, was worth more than that tiny bit of extra sleep. Sipping my green tea, meditating, journaling, bullet journaling, working out, and eating a healthy breakfast on a consistent basis has been a game changer for me. I’m much more relaxed, focused, and productive now during the day.

In this video I share my morning routine that I’ve been doing consistently for over six months. I show you exactly what I do each and every morning to combat the inevitable chaos that life and kids bring. What I do, what I eat, my (struggle bus) workout routine (leg day) and bonus: how to make the perfect almond milk cappuccino! Something for everyone in this one!

I had so much fun filming this vlog style video, which is new for me. What can I say? 2020 is going to be all about trying new things! I hope you enjoy, and please subscribe for updates on any new posts! (You can also follow me on instagram @zahra_sandberg for more updates and random fun stuff!)

Some of the products I mentioned in the video I’ve linked below. Note: Some of these are affiliate links, meaning if you purchase something that I’ve linked to, I may receive a small commission for directing you to that product.

Laneige Face Wash:


Green Envee Collagen Serum (PR Gifted):


Curology Moisturizer: (PR Gifted)


Levi’s Ribcage Straight Denim (Tango light light wash) https://shopstyle.it/l/bcMjz

Espresso Machine: https://shopstyle.it/l/bcMhH

Video: Busy Mom Approved Casual Winter Outfits

(As easy to wear as yoga pants)

I thought it would be cool to put together some casual winter outfits to solve my own daily crisis: what to wear when it is cold AF outside. I hope you enjoy the video! Scroll below for links to what I’m wearing.

I tried my best to find links to everything I’m wearing, although some pieces are thrifted and others are old, and a few pieces were rented from Nuuly – use my referral code to rent from them here: http://fbuy.me/ohJCF.

(Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning if you end up buying something after clicking on it here, I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you.)

Casual Winter Outfits:

Look 1:

Charcoal 80’s Jeans https://www.prpsjeans.com/products/hi…

Ankle Booties: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9qd

Look 2:

Jumpsuit: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9rk (Rent here: http://fbuy.me/ohJCF)

White Booties (on sale now! A few sizes left) : https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9qg

Look 3:

Blue Jeans: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb3CY

Similar Corduroy Jacket: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9ra

White Sneakers: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9ri

Look 4:

Similar Corduroy Pants: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9rq

Similar Boots: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9sM

Look 5: Jeans: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9sT

Similar Coat: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9r6

Similar Boots: https://bit.ly/2swXc5E

Look 6: Similar Duster Jacket: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9ut

Flat boots: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9uc

Look 7: Similar White Jeans: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9ui

Cropped Cardigan exact (one size left): https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9uK Cropped Cardigan similar: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9uM

Similar Cap Toe Slingback Shoes: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9wW

Look 8: Charcoal 80’s style jeans: https://www.prpsjeans.com/products/hi…

Cropped Cardigan exact (one size left): https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9uK

Cropped Cardigan similar: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9uM

White Sneakers: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb9ri

Look 9, 10, 11: Leggings Spanx Leggings: https://shopstyle.it/l/bb3CT

Thanks so much for visiting! Please like and subscribe so you don’t miss a future post!

xx, Z


Windy City Blogger Collective Member


all images and content, unless otherwise noted, are property of zahra sandberg. Please request permission prior to use of any of my images. if you have further questions, email me at zahra{at}lovezahra{dot}com.