Thursday, 31 January 2013

So you know how I feel about cleaning...

...But it actually just got a little better.  

And if you don't know how I feel about cleaning:  Although I love a clean house, I STRONGLY dislike the act of cleaning itself.  A lot.  I mean, like buying the better-looking cleaning supplies they now offer and I'm okay with a little here & there, but when it comes to vacuuming and mopping & all of that... ugghhhh.  There's something about doing the same thing over and over that feels futile to me.  No thinking required in cleaning really, just doing.  The same thing you did yesterday.  (Or let's be honest... with me, a couple of weeks ago ;) ;)

A few months ago, I was contacted by someone from Black & Decker about doing a post on a product of theirs with an emphasis on showing how I "embrace the luxury in cleaning" with their product.  (With the way I feel about cleaning, I thought this was laughable...  Cleaning has never been luxurious for me and usually involves sweatpants and a ponytail.) I often say no to product pitches, but when I saw what is was, I said, "send it to me!!!"...   I was definitely seeing how this product could make cleaning more luxurious for me...

It's a dust buster.  But seriously the best dust buster ever.  It's from their Platinum Lithium Series.  

What I liked about it when I saw the photo was that it's small and light...

There were no cords to worry about...

 (Do you see where I'm going yet??)

It arrived and we charged her up.

It can be used effortlessly.  

"Hey boys! Look at this machine we got in the mail!!"

"What is it mommy?!!"

"It's your very OWN vacuum!!"

{Merry Christmas Christian!!!}

"And it's for you too Justin!!"

"But you have to promise me you boys are going to share it."

I have really embraced the luxury in cleaning with the Platinum Vacuum because I can literally be sitting as my house gets cleaned!!

The boys use it to clean up their messes almost every day (why does it seem like we could feed a small army with what falls on the floor under their chairs??) and we keep it right in the kitchen.  It's so light & powerful that they literally just have to walk around with it in the right general area and it sucks up all the crumbs.

But in all honesty, I use it a lot too.  I love it because I can just grab it from the kitchen drawer to clean a quick mess...  which usually leads to an entire floor vacuuming (It's addictive!!) but what I like about it is that when I take it out to vacuum something, I'm not committed the way I am when I take out the big vacuum.   This way, I can stop whenever I feel like it.  And I don't have to deal with the plug.  I've used other dust busters over the years and haven't really been impressed before.  But I've had it for a couple of months, it's still going strong, and I love this thing.  (And especially how it involves my kids in helping with free labor chores.;)

If you want to check it out, here's the link to it: BLACK AND DECKER PLATINUM LINK
Feel free to embrace the luxury of cleaning too ;) ;)

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Visiting Sadie + Stella

I'm over at my blog friend's Lindsay's today to be a part of her "Favorite Room" Series...  Lindsay writes Sadie + Stella and she's fun and sassy (yes I said sassy...  do people still use that word?? ;) and talented...

I shared more details on a favorite project of mine- the DC Row House that was recently featured in Small Rooms Decorating Magazine:

I'm thrilled & honored to be sharing over at Sadie + Stella today- thanks Lindsay!!  Click here to visit!

On another note, I've got some really exciting things in the works with the fabric line & I will share with you as SOON as I can!!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

A Different Take On Window Rods

Three or four years ago while trying to save money at every turn we got a little crafty when hanging cafe curtains in the kitchen and bathroom.  I simply had rods cut at Home Depot out of hollow tubing. I also found the cups they sit in at Home Depot as well, but it has been so long I can't remember what department they were in.  Probably near the pipes.  The clips were super inexpensive from I believe Bed, Bath and Beyond.  In fact, now I am not sure they are even meant for window purposes but they worked for us and I like the simple, industrial feel of it all.
 I still liked the look so much that when we did the bathroom I did not change it out for a proper rod.  As they say, "if it ain't broke don't fix it".

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Bathroom Re-Do Part 2

Yesterday I posted the progression of our bathroom up until this past Fall when we finally got around to taking the next step.  Part of the delay was the debate of how much to put into the bathroom since we really don't know our future with this house.  We might move in the next year or two, we might add on and then who knows what will happen with this space, we just don't know.  So we didn't want to do too much knowing that a lot could change.  Again the before- dated speckled tile and all...
 So what we did decide to do was change the tile and the hardware in the shower.
The walls received white subway tile (good for resale here) and on the floor I used Carrera Marble in a herringbone pattern.  I contemplated using something less expensive on the floor given the uncertainty of everything, but in the end I just went for it since it isn't a terribly huge space.  I also darkened the gray of the walls and changed the ceiling color to a blue/green/gray.  I am not really sure these pictures can show what a big difference these changes made.  It feels so good now.
The light fixture and vanity remained the same as before.  The previous mirror and frames that were once on the wall were needed in other spaces so I decided to do essentially a wall to wall mirror which is actually from Ikea.  I have to say, I love it.  It makes the space feel so much bigger.
Detail of the marble floor and antique rug...
I hope this gives you an idea of the bathroom redo, it is an almost impossible space to shoot.  
Wall color: Sherwin Williams Grizzle Gray 7068
Ceiling Color: Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray 6205
Rug: Antique from Scotts
Curtain fabric available through Marianne Strong Interiors
Hardware coming in another post

Monday, 28 January 2013

Our Kitchen Island Continued... And a note on Honed Marble

Hope you had a great weekend!!  We got the teensiest bit of snow (not enough!!) and hung around home for the most part.  The guys worked on our island and I'm loving how it's coming out:

The reclaimed wood from Lorimer was applied horizontally across the drawer fronts.  It's almost totally flat when you look at it and the guys did an amazing job of keeping the wood flush on the sides of the drawers.

Here, Spiderman is investigating the newly applied tape "pulls" on the drawers:

(This means he can now get into the drawers himself which makes my life easier.   The kids can grab cups and get water from the spout on the outside of the fridge..  They can ask for a snack and I can say go ahead & get it.  Ahhh drawer pulls- who knew?!!)

Anyway, they still have three more sides to go, so we're only part way there, but I am so excited with the results so far!!  To read more abou the process, check out my last post here.
And finally, we have white honed marble on top of the island and I LOVE it.  It's super-easy to take care of  and looks and feels so good.  I really wish it didn't have such a bad rap.  (And I have two boys and a baby, we entertain a lot and we are faaaar from careful.) 
In general I find that people (who've never been exposed to it & are listening to the stone companies)  are so afraid of using it & I feel like they're really missing out on something special.  Yes, some things can stain it (red wine is the only thing I've noticed when it's sat out for hours on there) but the stains turn into pretty gray marks... I don't even notice them with the movement in the marble.  I'm actually dying to dirty this thing up a bit.  I've left so much stuff on it in the hopes of seeing what it would do and not much has happened though it's definitely gotten prettier as it's seen more use of the past couple of months. 
 Like what I love about most natural things, life changes it and makes an impression on it. 
I don't get why unchanging and perfection should equal beauty.  I feel the opposite.  (Except about my face haha!! j/k)

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Bathroom Re-Do Part 1

Our hall bathroom, which actually serves as our main bathroom, has undergone several changes over the years.   Here it is before we moved in.  In these pictures it does not look too bad, but trust me, it was.
The walls were covered in some sort of texturing technique gone wrong.  The vanity was old with a scary interior and a heinous top. The tile was old, cracked across the floor and in need of serious TLC inside the shower.  The lighting was, well you can see that for yourself.
When we moved in our budget was tiny but we were able to scrape the walls, change the vanity and lighting and paint the tile- a temporary fix.  So this is basically what it has looked like for a few years.
This fall we finally got around to making some more permanent changes and the tile was ripped out and replaced along with new hardware in the shower.  
Our new bathroom pictures coming tomorrow!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Our kitchen island

In our kitchen, I went back and forth (over and over!!) on what I wanted in our kitchen, and I finally decided we needed some worn wood in it somewhere to add warmth and carry over the rustic feeling from the rest of our house into the kitchen.  I originally planned to do wood perimeter cabinets but then fell in love with a slab of black soapstone, so I liked the idea of the lighter-painted perimeter cabinets with the dark soapstone top and then a darker wood island with a white marble top.  Here you can see our mid-stage kitchen:

Our island is around 8 feet long & can sit four of us...  (Even though you only see 3 chairs above)

Our builders got the kitchen island fucntional and we've been doing this for a while:

This island is a WORKHORSE!! Oh my gosh, it's a beast.  I love it.  It holds our trash, recycling, junk drawer, pasta/rice/randoms, a little bar drawer, kids' snacks, my vases & mason jars, and then paper goods like paper towels/ plates/cups.  We've had parties where we've loaded it up with food/ drinks.  (And even beer pong I must admit ;)  For Christmas, it seemed like our entire extended family fit around it easily.  It's one of the most practical pieces I've ever had and I've never had anything like this in a kitchen of my own before.  It might be my favorite thing in my house...  And it's not even pretty yet.

{Reality: My dog is "vacuuming" up our crumbs.  Get it giiiirl.}

BUT... our reclaimed oak arrived this week!!!  It was an amazingly generous gift from David Ellison at the Lorimer Workshop who we often team up with for cour clients' projects.  David & his team are true craftspeople and everything that arrives from them is so much more beautiful than any photos could show.  Our clients are always over the moon with their Lorimer pieces and we were no less blown away when our reclaimed wood arrived:

(Don't mind the helicoptor ;)

The color was exactly what I'd asked David for...  It's stained sort of a warm (but still somehow grayish and not too orangey) medium walnut.  I love how it looks with our light white oak floors.
Here's a close-up where you can really see the saw marks: 


We are having the wood planks applied horizontally over the entire existing island & drawers similar to this:

 They're all random length, width & depths though, so it will be a bit rougher-looking.

I wanted something special for hardware on the island and on an ebay search Dave, my husband, found prettiest antique apothecary bin pulls:

antique bin pulls
{My computer is being evil and won't let me flip this photo around}

Thy're labeled with what the bins used to hold...

Here's a close-up:

They had the exact number of bin pulls we needed (7) so I'm convinced it was meant to be ;) ;)

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on our island's progress and can't wait to share 'afters' of it!!
Have the best weekend!! 

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Some Days

Some days....

You wake up at 5:30 to workout before your toddler gets up and at 6:45 you are in your workout clothes but the actual exercise has not occurred and even though you know you have been quite busy, you have nothing to show for it.

Some days....

You go to get your toddler out of bed and he is just so cute you can't squeeze him tight enough.  Then he grabs your face and sticks his against it and laughs and you think, "man this is going to be a great day".  Life could not possibly get better than this moment right here and now.

But the midst of this glorious love fest you take the diaper off carelessly thinking it is only wet only to find out you were very, very wrong and the contents are now e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.  Chaos ensues.  Details will be left off of here for politeness sake.  Let's just say Henry's changing table started the day with a full box of kleenex and a new box of wipes, both are empty now.  I don't even mind Henry emptied the Kleenex one by one because it kept him busy while I was holding Harry (dog) back with one leg and trying to clean up that which shall not be named at the same time.

Some days....

You think, okay we are only 20 minutes late after that fiasco, we can do this.  Then comes a massive Nila wafer spill, a cup of mystery liquid has been poured on Harry (dog), toothpaste everywhere but in an actual mouth, loss of a shoe and a battle over taking cough medicine.

That's okay though.  It is time to sit down and put on makeup with your audience of two (H&H).  This five minute routine takes another twenty because someone wants you to read him a book, a detour off schedule that is always worth it.  Henry laughing as I read the book- priceless.  Eyeliner pencil he takes to the sofa that immediately follows....not so much.

Some days....

You are running so late and you simply can't find a single thing to wear.  You leave your closet wondering if your house has a ghost that stole all your clothes AND acted as a tornado coming through in the other rooms because as you round the door you think, "WAIT, whaaaaaaat?  I swear I cleaned this morning instead of can this POSSIBLY be my house?"

Some days....

The last ten minutes getting out of the house might just about do you in- what's for lunch, where is that missing shoe, feed the dog, clean yellow crayon off your MacBook, spill coffee down the front of your outfit you already don't like, stuff the baby into his puffy jacket.....then stop for just a second to take in the image of him so small in the puffer at this moment because again, your heart might just burst at any minute over the love for this being.

Some days....

Even though you spent two hours in complete chaos and you are frazzled before it is even 8:30, you get in your car and your son starts dancing to Cyndi Lauper and you know, those were a couple of hours you would not give back if you could.

And on those days....

You might just pull out your lunch at the office and get a laugh out of the children's container you used to pack your granola.....because you are out of ziplock bags and all the Tupperware is either dirty or the matching lid has long since disappeared.

I hope you have a wonderful day, I promise, design posts are coming again.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Beautiful Mess

Every decorator has his or her own way of doing things but when I'm working on a project (that doesn't require any architectural work) I usually start with a fabric palette.  I typically have a general idea of the floor plan & of what types of pieces I'll need but it's the fabrics & materials themselves that drive the design for me.

As a fabric freak, I guess this makes sense, and I really like to start creating a mood and a feeling right from the fabrics.  I start out by putting everything that's going in the right direction on my big work table (or the floor) and making a huge mess.  At this point, I try not to think about what's going where, I'm more just working for a feeling.  

Once the mess is finished, I start organizing it & making general decisions of what goes where.

It's one of my favorite parts of the process and I love it because it's one of the moments in this job where I actually get to just go with it & create and let go.  It feels really good to just go with your gut and keep your brain out of it for a change.  

The fabrics in the plan below have been narrowed down & everything's got a place to go.  My client lives in a really unique rustic-modern home and has a beautiful collection of rugs in reds and oranges.  

We're looking to bring a more natural feeling into the home.  We're planning to use (below) my Fern Star on a pair of large pillows on the sofa along with a third pillow in the blue velvet, and then we'll do a window seat in the cream linen with pillows in the orange-red, my Pierced Porcelain in Olive with the Greek Key banding, and one of my favorites- Jasper's Indian Flower in Orange.

Hope you enjoyed a peek into the way we do it over here!! Have a great day STAY WARM!!! (Oh my gosh I'm literally in a furry blanket & hat right now!!  We still have some vent work to be done!! eeek)

I'll be sharing 5 of my favorite things in my home this afternoon on (super-talented!!) Haskell Harris's blog later today!  Check it out here!

My textiles are available at Pure Style  and the Jasper fabric is available through John Rosselli.

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Under Construction

Laurl (my wonderful design assistant) and I are busy, busy, busy with client projects so of course this the moment I get inspired to give the blog a face lift.  I swear, I drive myself crazy.  It might take a while to work out the kinks, thanks for hanging in there with me.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Aging Brass

Since I really started getting into design & figuring out my own style, I've really developed a love for brass.  When we moved into our old house (almost 4 years ago) my husband found an old brass bed on the side of the road and dragged it home where it became one of my favorite pieces.

  {our bed}

I love the warmth that brass brings to a home.  (And I'm not talking about the shiny "builder's brass" here... You know, the coated & lacquered shiny brass that feels almost plastic-y??  That still needs to go if possible.  )

{"builder's brass"... I know how common it is so bide your time patiently if you've got it.  I've had lots of it too.}

In our very first town home when we first got married, (7 years ago) our house was full of shiny builder brass door hardware.  Not knowing anything or doing any research, I bought a can of spray paint and "aged" my brass door hardware. hahahah  NOT a good idea.  My hands came away sparkly every time I opened my closet door.

In the next house, I never really got there.  We had projects upon projects and on my "eventually" list I planned to swap out the doors and door hardware but we ended up moving before we got there.

In our new house, I finally got the chance to get what I want as we had to buy new doors anyway because we changed the floor plan so much it didn't make sense to pay our contractors to put the old hollow core doors back in. SO...  I am finally getting a chance at that brass I've wanted.  (!!! yee haw!!)

I decided on black 3 panel Shaker-style doors & we had them painted in black.  (semi-gloss)

We've been collecting antique & vintage wooden warm orangey-brown door knobs for the doors:

And we took a leap on unlacquered brass escutcheons, deciding we'd attempt to age them ourselves.

We started slowly, with salt water to oxidize the brass...

My collection of beakers actually DOES come in handy for science experiments ;) 

Maybe I was supposed to completely submerge them in the salt water??  But apparently the brass- saltwater thing is for patient people.  (I'm not one of those.)  There was a bit of change to the brass but nothing big enough to warrant an "after" photo.

Next up, we tried BAKING the brass in the oven.  (** REALLY IMPORTANT WARNING!!***  We used unlacquered brass to do this so it's okay but don't do this if you have lacquered brass because the lacquer is flammable.  )  After we baked the brass, it became a bit more orangey but it still looked a bit too pristine and shiny for me.

We had heard about trying white vinegar and also that ammonia vapor is maybe the best way to age brass but not having either of those around, we were lazy.  Then, when posting some brass progress pics on Instagram, a couple of my friends mentioned Over Off Oven Cleaner.

It came in a spray can and my husband did it without me watching so I'm not quote sure how he applied it.  (The door plates have become kind of a joke as they've been hanging around for a couple of months and we do random things to them all the time.)  We let them sit overnight and here's how they looked after that:

You can see that they each do different things.

Here's a close-up of one:

{The shine is all but gone!!}

I'm completely new at this but I think my next step is to sort of buff them a little so it looks more natural??  I also might try applying it completely over the piece instead of spraying it (which gave it the speckled appearance.)

We went after our kitchen faucet too and I'm loving how it's looking:

There are some green spots on the pieces too, which I love.

The faucet is almost good to go but I'm going to need to work more on the door plates...  They are a little too spotty for what I'm looking for so maybe if I can get them fully submerged somehow?  I've also heard of gels??

ps- I came across this blog post which looks super-helpful
Yours Truli Blog on Aging Brass

Anyway, I'll keep you posted!!  I can't WAIT to show you how the pieces look when they're in!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.