a big move.

Well, I’m not sure how many of you, my loyal and true readers, are still following along with this semi-annual blog (hopefully you subscribe by reader or email and so never have to check!), but I have some BIG news to share!!

After eight (8!) amazing years renovating and loving our house, we are putting it on the market. Yup, we are selling our home. It’s kind of crazy to say, because, well, I started this blog partially to document our renovations, and some of you have followed along from the very beginning, seven years ago, when I shared our diy kitchen remodel. This house (and the love and hours we poured into it) put us on Brooklyn Limestone, the Nate Berkus Show, in Cottages and Bungalows Magazine, and even now, a little birdy told me our sideyard garden will be showing up somewhere special very soon (sh!).

Why are we moving? Well, we bought an old house! A charmer by the park! However, that is a story of its own, and worthy of its own blog post. 😉

Honestly, I’m just popping in here to give a little tribute to my home that I have loved. And I know a home is just a thing, that you can’t take with you when you leave this earth, but I like to think that all the joy and memories, and making as many things just as beautiful and thoughtful as we could, are worth a little reflection and love. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted a full home tour, this is your chance!! I’ve never done one before here on the blog.

Here we go!

This is our home:


I don’t know if you remember the front, but this is how it used to look back when it was builder beige:

House before with kid in street(Look how tiny Cameron was!)

The biggest changes we made to the exterior were paint (5 shades of grey to pop out the architectural details!), a new carriage house style garage door and larger scale lighting. Oh, and a new custom-made front door with an antique lion knocker we found at the Paris flea market.

This is the backyard:






Do you remember the before of this little sideyard? No?


The bocce court was there already, but we’ve resurfaced it to keep it happy. We added curtains to the pergola, and Matt’s fabulous reclaimed wood farmhouse table looks as good as new. The sideyard was one of my favorite additions, and one I’ll miss desparately. Even now, charming tomoatoes, squash and herbs are growing this very moment in what used to be a gravel dump. Ah, sideyard garden, I will miss you.

Behind the wooden gate next to the bocce is Matt’s woodshop, which he built and shaped out of a lean-to shed into a crafty man’s paradise. And deep in the big redwood trees, up high and so hidden you can’t even see it, is every little boy’s dream tree fort with rope ladder and swiss-family robinson style railing, built by Matt, of course. Over-engineered, of course. 😉

But let’s back up to the front of the house and head inside!

This is the view from the front doorway:


Yes, my living room has changed since you saw it last! The floors, wood beams, paint and art are all the same, but I’ve reupholstered the chairs in a durable navy performance velvet (because: boys) and I finally got a new sofa! With no loose back cushions!! Aaah! Also, a rug on clearance from West Elm adds a graphic touch while lightening up the space.

Here is the space from a few different angles so you can see how it all flows together:




I don’t know if you remember, but we changed the surface of the walls A LOT (see this post for details, can you say “90’s niches”? No really, try and say that 10x fast.) and added bookcases, hand-scraped walnut floors (removing all the huge beige tile ourselves! Gah!), and big beams for architectural character.

This is the dining room, which is simple but lovely, with a large window looking at the prettiest Japanese Maple ever


And the kitchen. Oh the kitchen. If you remember, there is a whole series of blog posts on that, and all the crazy diy work that ended me on the Nate Berkus Show.

I have loved on this kitchen and cooked crazy stuff in it for eight years. I will miss this place.




It’s pretty much the same since 2008, and has held up bee-you-tifully well over eight years of heavy use. The only thing here you see that is new is my fridge, which dispenses sparkling water(!) and has a built-in fruit and veggie drawer and is definitely coming with me, unless someone pries it out of my cold, dead fingers. 😉

But memory lane calls – here is the 90’s builder before:


kitchen_remodel_before_2 kitchen_remodel_before_3Next to the kitchen is our breakfast nook, which as we added kids in to our family became a tight squeeze, until we thought of custom building a banquet


Now it can fit like eight kids, and two grown ups! I know because of cousin week, and not because I’m planning to have more than three. 😉

Here is the study (which you can see our refresh of it in this old post):


I no longer have a computer at home, as I do my work entirely at the studio, so my hairpin desk is all about paintings we never got to hang in this house that will move to their new abode.

For posterity, the before:



And what used to be the nursery, but now houses a custom-made murphy bed that I never got to show you on the blog! We had plans to get a piano and turn it into the music room aka “conservatory” with guest murphy bed, but never finished the piano part, and the fact that there is a big open space and the dress up closet is in there has actually caused it to be labeled “the combat room” as in, “go wrestle in the combat room” or “no light saber battles near my lamps! take it to the combat room.” 😉


That murphy bed though! Love it! Sad we didn’t get to use it more. Built by our favorite D’Amato and Lee, it is functional and beautiful at the same time.

Here is the kid/guest bath, which remodel got a feature in Cottages and Bungalow magazine:




And the before:


Heading to the hall bath, which I’m not sure I’ve shown you:


It’s tiny, but mighty. Matt installed the wainscot, and I finally(!) touched up the black trim just this Saturday. It’s only been bugging me for 8 years… #sigh

This is our master bedroom, which we remodeled in 2010. We installed chevron hardwood floors, black french doors, and we painted all the doors in our house black. I love this room. It’s simple, spacious and a serene retreat.


Here’s the carpeted (including bathroom! Yuck!) before:


And my favorite room in the whole house… my bathroom. So much love and thought (and marble!) put into this thing:



We added the soaking tub, the chandelier, aaaaalll the marble, and the custom cabinetry and vanities. Oh, and we did it the same time as our other bath to save lots of money (and keep us very stinky for a few months). You can see a full FAQ about the bathroom here.

This was the before:

master_bath_before_3  master_bath_before_1

Lastly, let’s head upstairs to the boys room! Another place where you haven’t seen how it looks recently:


Yup, all three boys share this lofty space! We tore out the carpet, added wide plank pine (diy install on a budget), and it doesn’t usually look this severe, but we trimmed the loveys down to two each for the sale, and moved the toy kitchen and tool bench up to the attic temporarily. It’s a happy little place.

You might remember it from before when we had just two boys up there:


And this was the vanilla before:


Other bits the real estate pictures don’t cover include our laundry room and staircase which you can see here and here.

But wait, what happened to our letterpress studio? Well, when we moved downtown, Matt converted it into a game room:


We painted the acid green into a boy-friendly grey, and added a ping-pong table, foosball table and pool table, as well as dartboard and stash of board games. Clearly we’re trying to compensate for not allowing our kids any tv or video games.

I don’t have a super good shot of the other direction, other than this grainy panorama I did Christmas 2014, with Matt looking appropriately fierce as he shows off his new man cave:


The red wall is a chalk wall, hides the bathroom, and gets drawn all over by kids! It’s perfect for Cam’s cubscout troop that has met here this past year.

But for reference, this was the before:

first tour: inside before first tour: inside before 3

And here it was back when it was a teeny letterpress studio (before we outgrew it and it got terribly messy):

first tour: inside after 1 first tour: inside after 2And above the studio is an attic. With a treadmill and a pull-up bar and lots of storage. Storage that used to be messy (what can I say, Matt and the boys were in charge up there!), but is now neat as a pin:



That’s a wrap! Our home that we have loved. We have had easter egg hunts, a grand opening, a rabbit dinner party, a sit down dinner for 40 guests, and the world’s tallest christmas tree each year. We’ve used every little inch of the space (from woodshop to garage to sideyards to attics!) and loved every little bit.

My one sincere wish for this home, is that it would find someone who would love and appreciate it. Not keep everything exactly the same, per se, but genuinely enjoy it and use it and LIVE in it as we have as a happy family.

The end. If you want to see the listing you can find it here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, friends! I’ve missed you! What’s your favorite part of what we did? Should I blog about the new house and remodel? Am I ready to start all over and charm a place up? Ack! Glad to be back talking to you. Happy, happy weekend.





Behind the Stationery

I guest posted this on Oh So Beautiful Paper in December, but I thought I would share it here with our readers who may not have seen it. 🙂

Hello! Rebekah Tennis here, owner and designer and general boss lady at Wild Ink Press, and I’m delighted to take you behind the scenes of our stationery company!


I started Wild Ink Press­ in 2009, springing out of a desire to create a cherished, finished product. I have a BFA in Graphic Design, and after working in a corporate design firm, while I loved my job, I found the nature of branding design to be frustrating – Websites getting tweaked over and over, logos stretched out of proportion, with no finality to the work. I longed to create art that was both finished (forever!) and loved. Hence Wild Ink Press was born, to create beautiful paper goods that others would value and enjoy. My husband Matt listened to my wild-haired ideas and we both took a series of letterpress classes at the San Francisco Center for the Book, then made the plunge and purchased a 1908 Chandler and Price Platen Press on Ebay.


Our Original Chandler & Price 10 x 15 Platen Press

Our company has grown and expanded over the years, believe me through  lots of blood, sweat and tears, and we now are a staff of seven, have a retail and printing space in downtown Chico, in Northern California, converted from an old-soda bottling shop. It houses our letterpress machines, inventory, and also our creative and packaging space. When we bought the building it was abandoned, and it has been very rewarding to restore it to its former glory and let it shine as a 3200 square foot open studio workspace. We now have three Heidelberg Windmills, a 1912 Golding Jobber, a Vandercook Universal I, and a baby Kelsey 5 x 8 press (for the kids) in addition to our original C & P. And yes, we do print on all of them!



We have a small gift shop in front of our studio where we sell our cards as well as a select, curated group of other maker’s work that we admire. It has been so fun to have the retail space to connect more with our local community, and it really works for us because my packaging staff can run the shop without interrupting their activities too much, as the studio opens right into the front brick and mortar space.





Scenes from our little brick and mortar shop.

We are primarily a letterpress and foil print studio that prints our own greeting cards (which keeps us quite busy!), but we take a limited amount of custom wedding invitations each year, as well as custom printing on the occasional project for our local community. We have dabbled into combining offset with letterpress this past year, and it has been very rewarding to get to try new methods and experiment with new techniques. One of our claims to individuality is that we are not afraid to run a 3 or 4 color letterpress job, or multiple foil passes, to get that final, perfect card. Details matter, and we like them to be rich and sharp.


Ink mixing station.

IMG_5340We track our print jobs on a big chalkboard wall in the studio.

Also, from the beginning, I feel like our card mission has been a bit unique. Our greeting cards are clever and humorous and colorful and kind, without jabbing or malice. Dare I say, sometimes it is possible to be funny without snark?! I feel a good card should make both the person sending it and the one receiving it feel smarter, happier and more valued. Our pressman and production staff are true artisans who love what we are crafting, so the attention to detail that goes into even a single letterpress card is amazing. When you send a card from us you should know it has been labored on for hours and touched by at least four people who believe in excellence.

ss-256-you're-souperOne of our new Valentine’s day releases. A bit corny, a bit sweet, a bit Andy Warhol.

On a typical workday at our studio, you’ll find our shipping manager sending out the day’s orders, our packaging team packing up product in the main studio space as well as running our little retail shop. We have two close to full-time packing employees because of our larger clients (like the Container Store which buys our gift wrap rolls) and we prefer to keep it all in-house for quality control (and keeping jobs local!), so that means a lot of hands-on production.


Our shipping area. Single card orders still get old fashioned stamps on each flat mailer.


Our card storage and inventory system.


Rolls and rolls of wrap each month


Our packaging area

We now have a full-time pressman, along with my husband (who has trained all of our operators and is a general machinery whiz), and usually we print two or so runs on our presses per day. The majority of time in a letterpress run is spent setting up the job, with precise measurements, registration, calculation, ink mixing, and make-ready on press all take a significant amount of time and care. We usually use all three Heidelbergs at once for one job, setting up inking, foil, and diecut/scoring all at the same time to guarantee accuracy and the perfect run.


I’d love to say I spent most of my day just designing cards, but that would be far from the truth. In the morning I answer emails, respond to shop inquiries, update our website, photoshoot and edit all of our product, design our catalog, purchase for our retail shop, and do general marketing for Wild Ink Press. (We are on the lookout for a quality part-time assistant to help me out on a lot of these items if you know someone fit for the job.) Then, in the late afternoon/early evening I settle in with my sketchbook and work on my latest drafts.


A photoshoot usually involves standing on a stool. Very high tech.




A cozy little nook to meet with clients in my office.

We produce 25-30 new products to correspond with each of the major trade shows (NY Now twice a year, and the Stationery Show in May), so there are always ideas in the hopper. I do all of the art and concepting for our entire line. I keep a little pocket size notebook with me at all times and jot down inspiration as it comes to me. (Of which, about 50 percent comes in the evening hanging out with my husband with a glass of wine or two, and another 10 percent comes when my attention drifts off in church. Truth talk.)


It seems we are always working on a new catalog (we’ve had two since this one!)

My design process is pretty traditional. It starts in a sketchbook with a pencil, followed by pen work (Pigma Micron 08 and 05 all the way baby!), along with tracing paper and multiple iterations of each design. I occasionally get to dabble in paint (I prefer goauche as it what I used in school), but mostly pen and ink is where I work.


Endless possibilities.


My drawing desk is seperate from my computer desk. It helps to separate my creative ideas from the day to day running of our business.


Three or more tracing drafts per design to work out the kinks.


Lately I’ve been working on exploring other mediums combined with letterpress.

From there, honestly, I take picture of the sketch with my iPhone(!) I found the scanner and the iPhone to be not that different as long as my lighting is good, and it is a quick and snappy way to keep the process moving and get the artwork onto my computer (through Airdrop, so fast and simple). I then clean it up in Photoshop, then move it into to Illustrator to turn it into a vector, clean up the lines a bit and add any color that I am planning for the card. I then send it to plating, either copper plates for our foil runs, or polymer for letterpress. On the occasions that we use a local offset printer, I usually bring my original artwork along to the press check – its the very best way to dial in the color and ensure the job is true to the original.


An offsite press check.

IMG_7557 2

The finished product, a 14 page Cocktail Calendar  filled with illustrated recipes, hand-drawn and painted and then offset printed locally, and foil-stamped and lettepress printed in house.

This year has been a major year of growth for us as we bought and renovated our new studio, opened a retail space, hired (and lost a few) employees, expanded to exhibiting at three tradeshows per year, as well as started on some major collaborations (which I look forward to sharing as soon as we can!). It has been rewarding, but also incredibly challenging. I have three small boys, two of which are still preschool, and dividing my time, growing a business, managing a family and still having a life that is healthy for ME is the balance I am constantly working on. Things I have learned this year include be true to your brand (if it’s not you, it won’t work, no matter what the opportunity) and perfect is impossible, but finished is not, and that that is nearly always what makes the difference between success and failure.

IMG_8215Front sitting area in our studio.


Our storefront.

Thank you all so much for joining me behind the stationery at Wild Ink Press, it’s been a true pleasure to share our studio with you here on Oh So Beautiful Paper! I’ll be hanging out in the comments and welcome any questions you may have!



Hostess Gifts (that are not wine)

Well, hello there! Popping in today to share with you a quick little gifting guide for some ideas to get you through the last three weeks of the holiday season, which, let’s face it, includes a lot of holiday parties and get togethers. A hostess gift is a must, and soooo many people bring wine (which is okay, bring on the wine), I just wanted to give you a few options for a more imaginative thoughtful gift.

BONUS: these are ALL available at the Wild Ink Press Brick & Mortar shop! With free parking and no mall crowds! Chicoans, you’re pretty lucky. I’m just sayin’.

For the hostess with the mostess:



Clockwise from top left:

  1. Mason Jar Lights (battery-operated), to make her home look like fairy town.
  2. Adorable animal ornament. These little guys are made of the palm sago bush and are fair-trade from the Philippines. The fox may be sold-out but we have llamas and frogs and owls, oh my!
  3. Holiday Coasters. A set of six little christmas trees with a cloth muslin bag. Designed by yours truly, etterpress printed here at Wild Ink Press.
  4. A lovely seasonal candle. PF Candle co. is based in California and makes some amazing holiday scents. Spruce is GREAT (but Apple Picking is my favorite).
  5. A set of tea towels. These lovelies are by the fabulous gals at 1Canoe2, but we have more than five styles of tea towels in stock, including holiday.
  6. A happy little notepad. Edge-painted and letterpress printed, this little gift by my friend Meg at Moglea is sure to give a smile.
  7. Dried Lavender Bundle. This is my current favorite hostess gift. Fresh 2015 crop, already dried and wrapped in brown paper tied up with string, ready to give. Who wouldn’t want to receive this as a hostess gift?!

Hope you enjoyed this little guide. You can find these online, or if you’re in Chico you can pick them up at our little shop downtown!



how to remodel a boring building.

August marked the one year anniversary of buying our studio downtown! It’s hard to believe that it has only been a year (really only nine months since we actually moved in), it feels like it’s been home to Wild Ink Press for a long time. We’re already running out of room (a bit!), and the space feels loved and lived in.

In honor of the anniversary (and similar to how I shared my kitchen remodel a year after the fact), I will be posting a whole series of before-and-after pics of the space!! If you know me at all, you know before-and-afters are my favorite, so I hope you like them as well. I feel like they sort of demystify the process of a design and remodel, and make it more accessible to your average DIY hack (read: me). So hold on to your seats – we’re starting with the exterior, but we’ll be covering, in no particular order: the pressroom, retail shop, shipping room, packaging area, my office, and a couple how-tos – how to tile a word, how to plan and layout a space on a computer (or on paper) and how to ombre paint a wall.

I hope you enjoy the ride! First off, to start at the beginning. We were desperately running out of space in our little two-story converted garage studio behind our house. You can see it in its original heyday here:


Lovely seating area, old presses, cabinet storage. Good for the occasional greeting card, and to meet brides and design custom invitations and print them on old presses.

But with our company, the greeting card section took off, and we had to hire employees for shipping, packaging as well as bring another pressman on. Also, we had to store our growing line of cards and gift wrap. So, around last summer, it looked more like this:

clutteredstudio_1 clutteredstudio_2 clutteredstudio_3

I’ll spare you the mess that was the attic stock room. With all that stuff, plus four employees coming each day, it was clear we needed to find a new space and find it fast.

I won’t bore you with huge long tale, but basically after poking around all over Chico, we found this empty office building downtown:

builidingbefore_1 builidingbefore_2 builidingbefore_3 builidingbefore_4

5200 square feet of blank dingy beige structure. It had been the assessor’s office for about 20 years, but for the last two it had been empty. Prior to that it had been a local title company (their space is now next door), but its original use was as a soda bottling plant – owned by Bowman’s Beverage Company and built in 1941. I searched around as well I could and these are the two best items I could come up with for the building’s history – the first, an ad for Bowman’s Beverage (bottom left) listing our address and what they bottled here:

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 4.14.55 PM


And this bottle of squirt which lists Bowman’s Chico as its place of origin:

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 4.15.46 PM

Apparently they also bottled Nehi soda here, We found a big vat of Nehi grape concentrate shoved in the rafters of the building when we remodeled (perhaps stopping a leak? Holding it up?). It was pretty wedged in there, so we left it right where it belonged.

Back to the story, we saw potential (rather I saw design/remodel potential, Matt saw space/equipment potential and we trusted each other to know what we do best), so we made an offer to buy the building and it was accepted.

So the fun begins!! How do you take a beige box and make it interesting? Turn it into a jewel box! First, a moodboard…


The plan was to use a really dark palette – rich green/blue (almost black), with glossy black subway tile, bent metal signage, revamped lighting, and a tile entry.

Next came a digital mock-up so we could get the city’s approval:





And then, the dirty work of tear-down. In taking off the seventies-added fieldstone and stacked rock, we found a couple discoveries:


The original title company signage, and… windows!! Windows in the concrete that had been boarded up and stuccoed over previously.builidingduring_2

Even another large window in the front, which balanced out the building greatly.

Also, beneath each front window we uncovered a little niche which had been sloppily filled in with brick before being  covered in stacked rock…


Perhaps it was for advertising, or a special tile design, but we wanted to keep them open of course, despite it adding cost to the project. They added a great deal of dimension to the front of the building.builidingduring_4

Meantime, our sign was being bent out of raw steel by the talented Dave Richer at Earthen Iron:


Bent and welded. Aren’t those overlaps amazing? Such a cool process, I just had to show you a tiny bit of it.

Well, not belabor things, are you ready for the after pictures? Here goes…




Old school gilded lettering on the doors…


And here’s a “glamour” shot at twilight:


My favorite bit of the front:


And our hanging sign (different from my original concept, but I love this one):


We love our little shop, and I was so happy to transform this little empty spot and become a vibrant part of downtown Chico. What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Up early next week… stay tuned for the interior (it’s a doozy!)