Wednesday, January 26, 2011

So Long Faux River Rock!!!

It's a big week in these parts, well actually, a few big weeks! And for my clients, a few big weeks that are going to feel very long while they are living out of boxes and cooking with a microwave. But they say good things come to those who wait, and baby, this is a GREAT thing. Remember the house I posted about last week when I mentioned the builder to custom remodel? Well the cabinets arrived this week from Pennsylvania and demo started on the kitchen and attached sitting room. Just to give you an idea of what it was like before:

Great appliances were about the only thing the builder had splurged on so they are being re-used in the new kitchen. Other than that, low-quality cabinets in mid-tone wood and pre-fab granite. (Forgive the photo, we're feeling a little shy, aka, we did not know that photo was being taken!)

The beautiful media wall o' boxes and the three little pigs chimney. Why the builder thought it was a good idea to make a grid system, regardless of opposing drywall confounds me. Also, my client could literally FIT in these if she wanted to because they are SO deep! Who wants cubbies that deep at 14' high!?

And now, in progress after today:

Popping off the rock - I wish I had a picture of it with nothing, it's amazing the difference it makes, even at this stage and a few moments after this was taken, the top boxes were drywalled over and later the fireplace is being reshaped.

The wall where the range used to be. In the new kitchen, this wall is shortened and holds the bulk of the appliances - fridge, double ovens and microwave.

The biggest transformation: We ripped out the wall that used to separate the butler's pantry from the kitchen. The new plan opens up the space and gives the room a huge run of counters and it's now a wrap-around kitchen -- no hidden areas that don't get used and her desk area is actually a part of the space. Not to mention direct access to the dining room and another bonus is that it makes the soon-to-be-installed grasscloth visible from the kitchen. Gorgeous!

I'll continue to keep you posted. I also have a few more pictures of before and afters in this home and I can't wait to share more. It's truly a great example of what can happen to these "big box" homes when you have great clients and the opportunity to make it happen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Clients and friends always ask me how I feel about color continuity in a house . Do I think you should have a color story or theme that's carried throughout the entire house or can you change each room.

While I don't like themed houses (Ala french country, mid-century without any other era, or shabby chic), I do like continuity in a house. For me, there should be some relationship between each room. Whether it's complementary colors, finish work, or consistent architectural elements, the house should have some flow. That said, the inside of the house should also take it's cues from the architectural style of the house. There's nothing worse than a house that feels like a theme park or a where the owners ignore all the architectural elements with their own personal preferences. We've all seen those houses - it just doesn't work. It's not relaxing as your eye has no where to rest.

This French inspired house in Utah designed by Alice Lane, courtesy of the blog Verdigris Vie, is a great example of flow and continuity with the owner's personality shining through. Unlike a lot of new construction, the outside of the house sets the tone for the inside. A timeless foundation that will grow with the owner as their life and taste changes. Best of all, each room, while unique, still feels like it's in the same house.

The consistent architectural elements and materials also helps bring the large scale, a whopping 14,000 square feet, down to earth by making it feel comfortable and relaxed vs. something out of Real Housewives of New Jersey. All to often these new houses try to incorporate every wood species or new trend, which just leaves them feeling disjointed. Like the owner just couldn't decide what they liked - so they liked everything.

A restrained and consistent design palette can create a relaxing and timeless house regardless of your style preference.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tile Scouting on the Fly

I spent yesterday running around looking for tile and I snapped a few pictures of some options that make me feel all warm and fuzzy. I thought I'd share them, as some are on the top of my dream list, and others are very do-able -- so much so, that I fall back to their timeless good looks and classic feel all the time.

I'm in love with these. I cannot wait for the right project to use them -- they just make me happy looking at them. Perfect for even just a small backsplash above the stove if you can't commit to the whole sh-bang.

Another one that just makes me weak in the knees. Herringbone in any width makes the biggest, easiest statement because it's all about how it's assembled, more than the material. Marble can't be beat though. Love it.

Traditional long and narrow subway in a Calcutta. What's great about this one is it's actually pretty affordable and the size is stunning.

1x1 Hex. My personal favorites are the larger sizes, 1.5x1.5 or 2x2, but the marble version of an old classic is a great upscale option and with marble outlets online, it can be affordable. Promise.

I saw this yesterday too, and I think it's stunning. I've been waiting for a project with a small kitchen reno in it to use something like this in. Can you imagine how amazing it would be? Small kitchens are such a good opportunity to use something this statement-y because you don't have to worry about it being overwhelming. AND more importantly, it's way easier to justify the cost of detail work like this. Small spaces give you so much more license to play and this is totally my game.

And this feels like a total aside, but I wanted to show you a really great border I found for a client and it's easy to pull off. I have a project with a guest bath that needs some "pop" and I think this might just be it: Mixed in with my classic marble hex: a Greek Key border. I think it's a great choice for a powder room and not too pricey either.

Forgive the weird formatting, Blogger is getting the better of me today, and I cannot handle it. Blogger won this battle, off to open a bottle of wine.

Happy tiling!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Builder to Custom: Entry Project

Things have been crazy with a capital "C" ever since New Years -- I guess when it rains it pours. Everyone went dark during the holidays, but they are back and motivated. Not complaining, but I've been lacking on my blog posts because I'm just trying to keep my head above water.

One of the projects is transforming a builder spec house to a custom house with all new wainscoting, mouldings, open staircase, master bathroom, dining room and kitchen. This client wanted an old Seattle house look but with the convenience and community of living in the suburbs. It's been a fun project and it's and coming along nicely. I will post some before and afters as we get a little farther along.

But, here's a quick glimpse of the vibe we are going for in the entry: We are going for casual elegance that can withstand 3 young kids... Imagine dark hardwood floors, tall creamy white wainscoting and french doors, with pale blue, navy blue and a hint of aqua fabric. The fabric in my boards is in the living room, but somewhat visible from the entry (and blue not green as pictured). It's going to be gorgeous. I thought I'd share a few of the client's furniture options with you. Which one do you like?

Option One

Option Two

Option Three

Bench Fabric

Monday, January 10, 2011

Kids and stuff

When you have kids, you have stuff. Especially when you have 2 very active kids. I have sports equipment in every corner of my house. This mudroom by Suzanne Kasler is the perfect solution to a busy family. Everyone has their spot so it's super functional - but the design is so simple that it's unexpectedly gorgeous and at the same time calming. A mudroom full of stuff calming? Really? In this case, yes.

The master, Suzanne Kasler, has done it again. Taking the everyday and making it jaw dropping.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Soul Kitchen

I've been drooling over this kitchen by Interior Designer Kathy Bennett since I saw it in our dearly departed Southern Accents. As I'm working on a grand kitchen/great room I've been wrestling with the best location to place the everyday eating area as there just isn't an ideal spot due to window and door placement. The creative process takes time people - really - and we sweat over these details.

Banquettes are always a good solution when space is an issue and they always up the cozy factor. But, this one is different. This one makes me want to live in this kitchen. REALLY.

I love how the banquette is placed against the island and they didn't try to do traditional bar seating. It creates a dining area that is still part of the kitchen, yet has a completely separate vibe. The best part is you can't see the mess in the kitchen so you can actually enjoy your meal! I'd be okay having to carry my food around the island, instead of sliding it across, so I could sit in this beauty.

While the banquette is the focus of this picture, the rest of the room is swoon worthy. No detail was overlooked. Hello black Parisian doors, old brick back splash, detailed wainscot ceiling, antique chandelier, antlers, and incredible hardware. This is a kitchen with a soul that is meant to live in.

Maybe it's the perfect solution for my client.... or me someday. A girl can dream...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No better time than the present

Since you're fresh off the holiday entertaining season, there's no better time to set up or restock your bar. You'll be happy you did when you're friends pop over for a last minute get together.

Here are a couple of my favorite bars and the tools you need to make it happen.

(Martha Stewart)

(Tori Mellot for Domino)

(Eddie Ross)

(Phoebe Howard)

Barware essentials: Ice, Bar Spoon, Muddler, Jigger, Cocktail Shaker, Strainer, Ice Cube Trays

The Liquour: Cognac, White Rum, Gin, Bourbon, Vodak, Tequila

The Mixers: Cointreau, Red Vermouth, White Vermouth, Bitters, Club Soda, Seltzer Water, Limes and Lemons

There's a couple of bowl games left so get going.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

As I come out of my holiday stupor and welcome in 2011, I feel a huge sense of excitement. 2010 was a year of tremendous personal and professional growth for which I'm very grateful. As we age each year brings us more wisdom and more reflection on what's really important in this life. I feel like 2010 was a year of re-prioritization of what makes me happy and whole. I feel like I'm on the path (although sometimes bumpy) to achieving my dreams.

2010 laid the foundation for 2011 - and I'm ready. I have a feeling it's going to be even better than 2010. Now, I can tend to be a pessimistic person (I know, I'm trying to become more positive - maybe I need to do daily affirmations like the lady on the Today Show suggested - um, no!) but I can feel the possibilities of the new year.

I'm excited for the opportunities, challenges, new experiences and new friendships. I wish you, my readers, the same.

So, if you are back at work or back to school today, take a deep breath and exhale. Take on the year with gusto - it's going to be a great one.
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