what I do

what I do

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Going with the flow ...

Right now I am listening to the hum of a wood sander on my kitchen floors. I love construction. I love the process and I love the progress. But sometimes it is just not what you had planned.

We had a water leak (uh, refrigerator) and have to refinish our beautiful maple wood floors. The wood extends throughout the kitchen, mud room, small bath and the family room, which means the entire space has to be redone. When we had the floors installed 12 years ago, we were able to put an oil based finish on them. But now, with the environmental restrictions, we can only use a water based product. With the oil base finish, and a little help from the sun, the floors turned a rich golden color. This time, our choices were to stain the wood to achieve that same patina or embrace the lighter color.

The funny thing (funny?) is that this all happened in the middle of redoing our kitchen. We recently replaced our dark granite (12" squares) with white quartz and put in a honed Carrara marble backsplash. Those changes came about because our oven died and in order to get the range I wanted we had to replace our counters ... remember this post? 

quick iPhone photo at Christmas - new counters / old cabinets / range half-installed!

Last November I decided it was finally time to get a new range. Our oven had gone out the previous Fall but the broiler still worked and I discovered that if I put a cookie sheet on the top rack to keep the food from burning I could still use the oven. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with that because it bought me an entire year. I made my Christmas cookies and even baked a cheesecake that way. But then one day the broiler went out too and I knew I would have to make that decision to replace the oven. The problem was that we had an under-the-counter oven and a cooktop but what I really wanted was a range. And that would require new counters. 

I used to pray wish that the oven would go out so that I could replace those old granite counters but when it actually happened it wasn't where I wanted to spend my money. And so I struggled. Should I just replace the old oven with a new under the counter oven and call it a day (the less expensive option) or should I do what I really wanted (a range) and move forward with something that would bring the kitchen more up to date with the look I wanted. 

I wish I could say I was that person that would have been happy with just replacing. I tried. I went down to the appliance store and selected a decent replacement. But in the end, I couldn't do it. I went back and bought the range and had the counters replaced. And if this story isn't long enough... I then had to decide to paint the old (23 years old) cabinets that didn't match the refrigerator and dishwasher panels that I changed 6 years ago trying to move forward or get new fronts and be done. It's just never ending! So that is where we were, in the middle of replacing the cabinet doors, when the refrigerator died and the ice melted and the floor in front of the refrigerator buckled.

Here is what the floors looked like before the damage:

If you look close you can get a glimpse of our new counters and backsplash and the new cabinet door fronts that are waiting to be finished and painted. 

Here is the floor all sanded down:

In this image, you can see the old with the new:

What looks like a shadow is where they had not sanded yet. At first I was wanting to hold on to the old look but I think the lighter floors will be a nice change and will look great with our new kitchen. I am thinking they will look something like this once they are sealed and the final coats are on:

I am trying to just go with the flow and embrace the change(s). Out with the old ... in with the new!

images: pinterest

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thoughts of home

We have some beautiful Liquid Amber trees in front of our home. In the fall they rain down leaves of red and orange and yellow. And in the winter they drop little prickly balls.

When my sweet granddaughter was living here, she loved to collect them. I don't know what the attraction was for her, but she loved those prickly brown balls.

Last week my daughter (the one who just moved) texted me a photo of one of those balls that had gotten stuck in her car windshield wipers. She wrote, "Aw, a piece of home."

I thought it would be fun to gather up a bunch of them and send them up my granddaughter. I am not sure who will love them more, Adeline or my daughter. I painted one of them pink for Adeline and a sprayed one gold one for my daughter.

What reminds you of home?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A couple of mood boards

I was playing around on Olioboard (I am still in the learning phase) ... I wanted to give a new client a better idea of what I was proposing. You know what they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words".

We are redoing both the family room (above) and the living room (below). The client already has the leather sectional in the family room and a "man" recliner. She asked that the living room be less formal and along the same lines as the family room so that when she entertains people will feel comfortable going into both rooms. I didn't realize that I used the same rug until after I was finished ... I guess I am consistent with what I like, haha.

Everything in these rooms are just "conceptual" and will all be adjusted when I meet with my client but it will give us a good place to start.  If she likes what she sees, it will be easy to replicate these looks with actual pieces. I will keep you posted on our progress :D

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

White legs

These were delivered today in a fun and beautiful new house I am working on ...

It is hard to see the fabric with my quick iPhone photo but it is fabulous and has a bit of a sheen to it:

I am currently obsessed with white legs (gee, are you surprised?) like this chair from Jonathan Adler:

The white legs were the perfect choice for this kitchen ... especially when you see what we are doing in the room next to it. A couple more weeks and I should have some nice photos of the finished space.

But to tease you ... this is the area rug that will be going in:

Hope your week is going great ... thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Take me to the zoo

This was a continuous marathon of a working weekend for me (starting on Friday) ... sometimes that is just the way it works out and trust me, I am not complaining. It was wonderfully productive and Monday (although a holiday for some) will be the same. I love getting things done / checking off the boxes, especially those things that have dragged on for a while. You know, those last little details that sometimes take longer to get done then the other 90% of a room. 

But there was one thing that I needed wanted to squeeze into the middle of my work day on Saturday and that was to attend the birthday party of a darling little girl who just turned three. She is now the big sister of twins and this was her day to be celebrated and the center of attention and I wanted to be there to be a part of her special day.

I snapped this with my iPhone as I was walking towards the zoo entrance ... it was so beautiful!

It was a beautiful and unusually warm day and was just perfect for a party at the zoo. I was told that this sweet little girl loves books (don't you LOVE when a kid loves books?) and so I thought how perfect to give her a few of the books that my own (very talented) sister has illustrated. 

images via here and here

It was a nice coincidence that this book has zoo animals in it (I love a theme!) and surprisingly I happened to find some wrapping paper in my house that had zoo animals on it too ...

It was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours and gave me the mental energy to continue on with my otherwise non-stop working weekend.

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? Have you been to the zoo lately? :D

Monday, February 11, 2013

Styling to sell

I don't stage houses often (like Linda does), but occasionally a client will ask me to help them with a home they are selling and I will do what I can. Staging a home to sell is not all that different then how I approach decorating a home except that it usually requires a lot of editing (removing, de-cluttering, and re-arranging) and instead of appealing to the client's taste, I try to anticipate what the average buyer will be attracted to. The goal is to help a prospective buyer see the house at its best and also help them see themselves living there. Last week I started the first phase of a small home that is going to be put on the market soon. 

In the process of de-cluttering and pre-arranging

On our first visit we talked about the client's (and my) vision; a calm, uncluttered space with a coastal feel. We discussed what needed to be removed or replaced, and I spent a little time moving a few pieces around, measuring and taking a mental inventory of what we needed to add. Because the bookshelves were such a huge focal point in the living room, and also the most daunting task, I tackled it first. I started by removing what I knew we didn't need (about 80% of the books and 50% of the accessories so they could be packed up or donated) and did a little pre-arranging to help me assess what we would need to add.

Freshly painted ... awaiting new carpet

Then my client and I went shopping. We went to Ikea, HomeGoods, Target and a few consignment shops nearby. We brought home a truck load (literally) of small furniture, artwork, mirrors, bedding and small accessories. The client had brought some items from her own home (this is her mother's house she is selling) and had it all put in a storage closet for me to pull from as needed. We also selected new carpet and had a painter come and put a fresh coat of white paint on everything. 

The new chair from HomeGoods looks right at home with the newly styled bookshelves

After the carpet was installed, I went over and began the first phase of the staging / styling. I started with the bookshelves. Previously it was crammed filled with a lot of books, a small TV and a lot of other objects. It needed to be pared down and lightened up. I used a combination of things that were on the shelves already and added a few new items from the client's home. 

This home is in a retirement community so we wanted to have the home not only look pleasing to the prospective buyer but help them envision themselves living in the home. Our choices were made accordingly, from the carpet selection to the accessories we used to style the home. For example, even though the kitchen is small my client explained that the buyer will most likely want to have an eating area in the kitchen. 

We replaced a larger kitchen table for one that would seat a party of two without making the space too crowded. The white table from Ikea and the open weave chairs help the area feel visually clean and less cramped then it was before. 

This was a quick start and I will need to spend another day finishing the bedrooms, styling the bathrooms and hanging artwork. And then it will go on the market and hopefully our hard work will pay off and the house will sell quickly and for a good price. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Work with all your heart

My youngest daughter, the one who just graduated from college is applying for her first "real" job. You know, a job in the career that she actually wants. Not the student store job she has faithfully worked at for 4 years, or the campus magazine she helped start and dedicated endless (understatement) volunteer hours writing for, editing, promoting and publishing, or the summer and non-summer internships she put her heart and soul into (for no pay) to learn the ropes. This one is the real thing. It is not the job of her dreams but it is a good first step towards her goal.

A couple of summers ago, she interned in an art gallery full-time. It required an hour commute each way and was not the easiest job. It was stressful and hard, and if you have ever interned you will know that you are often overworked and not always treated the best. But she persevered through it and on her last day we drove up to take her to lunch and met the man who was her boss. He did nothing but rave about her work ethic and her skills and told us that not only would the gallery be lost without her, she was well equipped to go into the art gallery world that she thought at the time that she wanted to be in.

However, that fall upon returning to school, she made a 180 degree turn and with two majors already under her belt decided to go a completely different direction and pursue a third field of study and a career she felt much conviction for (which is what she is doing now). In preparing for her recent interview she received a letter of recommendation from her boss from her summer internship. It was a pretty incredible letter of recommendation. In the letter, he talked about her professionalism, her good natured spirit and friendliness, and her abilities to handle the work put in front of her. At the end of the letter, he wrote, "If you have the opportunity to work with her, my only statement would be ... Do it. Now."

This man is well known and getting a recommendation like this from him is like gold. When she shared the letter with me, it reminded me of the importance of giving your best always, of working hard even when the job you have (or who you are working for) is not what you wish it was, and persevering even when it seems you are getting nothing out of it. It also reminded me that everything you do, even if indirectly, is preparation for your next step.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD, ..."
-Colossians 3:23 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Color dipped

image via my iPhone

I popped into Anthropologie the other day and wanted to bring home so much (oh, the temptation!).
This table was one. Have you gotten onto the paint dipped wagon yet?

images sources here
I just purchased this to make these:

I thought it sounded like a fun weekend project! Hope your weekend is going great ... Happy Saturday everyone :D

Monday, February 4, 2013

A fresh and inviting new kitchen

I have the nicest client ... and she lives right next door! We have had so much fun re-designing her house over the years - bathroom remodels, bedrooms and endless furniture arrangements and accessorizing. Last year I helped her with a beautiful new living room and then soon after we updated her dining room. But what really needed help was her kitchen. It was in great need of being re-done. Not only was it quite outdated ... but drawers were literally falling apart and the appliances needed replacing. I don't think she ever thought she would get a new kitchen! (Sadly, I never took any before photos. I know, bad blogger skills. I am thinking she would have probably not loved them being shown anyway). 

It is a small kitchen and the space was being maximized quite well so we only had to make a few changes to the basic footprint. Their biggest issue (besides things being worn out and aesthetics) was a lack of counter space and storage.

We moved the refrigerator over about 18" to allow room for a nice sized 36" range and replaced the old refrigerator with a new counter depth refrigerator that gives more room to move around the peninsula. To make up for the cabinet space we lost by moving things down, we relocated the existing water heater that was taking up valuable storage space.

You can see to the right of the refrigerator the new cabinet where the water heater was before. I love using drawers whenever possible and the pantry space above is larger than what they had before. We also relocated their microwave from the upper cabinet area next to the range to a space behind the peninsula:

The previous counters were 4" white tiles with a dark brown grout. We knew always knew the cabinets would be white but the counter was a harder decision. Although she wanted a solid surface, she was not excited about granite (there were none that she really loved), didn't really like quartz, and marble, although she loved the look was too high maintenance for her. On our first trip to the stone yard we both fell in love with a creamy white quartzite but it ended up being too expensive. She went back to the stone yard and found a soft green granite that goes perfectly with the look she was trying to achieve; a soft and inviting kitchen that goes well with the dining room that is adjacent to the kitchen and allows her to accent with her favorite color ... turquoise.

I knew from the beginning that this white Moroccan tile would be perfect for her. I love how it ties in the chairs in the dining room that is adjacent. She chose the decorative pieces above the range and they are one of her favorite things about the new kitchen.

Dining room chairs: Pindler and Pindler Hearst Castle Outdoor Collection 2648 Mudejar in Verde 
Adjacent dining room:

Previously, she had a kitchen table under the window which she used primarily as a desk. We replaced the table with a smaller desk and replaced the dining chairs with one desk chair. It gives more room to access the pantry area and there is more room to walk around. When her grandchildren come to visit she can replace the desk chair with the previous kitchen chairs.

We found an inexpensive chair at Pier One Imports that just so happens to look almost exactly like the curtain fabric in the dining room (don't you love when that happens?!).

I love how the new kitchen fits in perfectly with the rest of this beautiful home ...

And although I am not sure a house is ever "done", I think we are close ... just one more room to go (the family room!).