Friday, August 30, 2013

Powder Room Purchasing Power

That's a lot of "p" in that title, huh? I figured it was fitting for the Powder Room. Sorry, enough potty talk. What can I's 10:30 pm on a Friday after a long and tiring week and my brain is done and I'm okay with that.

So, my inspiration for the powder room is really nothing. As in, I have no inspiration board at the moment. Originally I wanted to model it EXACTLY like Sarah Richardson's blue plaid farmhouse bathroom...but when I excitedly showed my husband my inspiration...

Sarah Richardson Design

....his response was basically that plaid in the bathroom was not happening. Which really kind of surprised me because I find that room to be more masculine (colors, plaid, rustic wood, etc.) but if he feels THAT strongly about it I guess I can find something else and save my battle for when it counts (like when I tell him I want to paint all the cabinets white). And I will need a strong ole battle plan for that.

After making a very quick and basic "To Do" list, I am noticing that there is a lot on that list. Which is exciting and I truly can't wait to tackle it all.....but the problem with me is that I want to do all these projects...and I want to do them all at once. Patience never really has been my strong suit. Did I mention we also have a new baby? So yeah, I will be kind of busy with my little nugget of love in the midst of all this moving and decorating and glue-gunning. All this being said, I have decided to basically use what I already have (or leftover fabric, etc. from purchases for other rooms) to make the powder room purdy.

This is what the room looks like now:

The colors and tile/granite/etc aren't my first choice but the room is all brand spanking new and pretty neutral so those are all pluses. There is an overabundance of iron fixtures, which normally I like...but I almost feel like it's too dark in here with the cabinets also being dark. Oh, and see all those doors? There are 2 closets in the powder room. The one on the right contains the washer and dryer and the one on the left is for storage and also has a slop sink.

Home Fabrics Online

The fabric above was ordered for our mud room. I am so excited about that room because 1) never had a mud room and I've always wanted one...and this is like the mother load of all mud rooms - I mean it even comes with a fireplace! How awesome is that!? Getting that room all pretty is pretty high on my priority list, so I actually went and ordered the fabric I want to use for that space and that space ONLY. Overall I am happy with this fabric but in person it is very yellow and gray - not necessarily a bad thing, just different from what I was expecting (more of a gold and smokey blue). I will still most likely use it for an accent pillow in the mud room as originally intended, but I will have plenty left over and thought this would be a happy little number for the powder room. I think the yellows and grays will work well with the existing granite and tile, plus, it really is a cheery fabric, and it's different/bolder than what I usually choose, so I think it's the perfect choice for the powder room window treatments.

The closet doors are looking a little meh in their current state. I have had great success with chalk board paint in our first home, so I knew I wanted to spruce up those doors with a statement slate gray color (which will match the curtains nicely) and also add a lot of function and purpose. I'm thinking something like this:

Chalk Board Closet Door    I am determined to do something with Chalkboard Paint one of these days. Its my new obsession.
Chalkboard paint closet doors... she added quotes with a stencil and chalk marker Don't Disturb This Groove: Finally A Bedroom Reveal--Tween Boy Room Makeover

Chalk board sliding door.
Source Unknown
For now, I think these powder room ideas are small but mighty and the room will basically be done at that point. No need for a bath mat in there and I can repurpose art, towels, bathroom countertop accessories. If only all the other rooms could be done that quickly....!!!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New House!!

We are officially under contract on our new house!! Rather than jumping the gun and posting pictures of the house, I think I should probably wait until we've signed on the dotted line and it's legal and stuff. So, for now, I'll settle with typing up our "To Do" list. Hubby, you might want to avert your eyes...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Better late than never.....

So it's only been a few years, but I am finally returning to blogging. I figured 2 moves, a few new jobs and oh yeah a baby might be worth writing about. Said baby is napping right now, so hopefully I will have some time to re-learn the blogging process in 45 20 minutes. Here is a pic of the babe (Ryanne) while I get caught up.....



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Inspiration Board Numero Dos

I was recently asked to design a new space for a client that had a combo living room/home office/guest bedroom. She already had beautiful curtains (in a safari print - how fun!) that she wanted to stay in the room. Because these curtains were taste specific, I based my design specifically around these curtains.

Trying to maximize this space to serve the needs of three specific rooms was my biggest hurdle, as the room would need to achieve the following:

- Not "look" like an office and disguise not one, not two, but three printers (one of which was extremely in almost 3 feet tall) and a partridge in a pear tree fax machine
- Incorporate a stylish and comfortable sleeper sofa, that wouldn't require much furniture moving and wrangling when it was time to pull the mattress out
- Feel like a living room and serve as additional entertaining space

Here is what I came up with:

And, here is the floor plan:

While I know a picture is always worth 1,000 words, I feel like a few more words might help in understanding how this room will all come together. What can I say, I'm wordy. As the floor plan shows, the sofa bed will be against a window-less wall, with a vintage-style coffee table (on wheels) for easy transport out of the mattress's way when guests are staying over.

The other window-less wall will house all of the unsightly "office-y" supplies. Placed in the center of the wall is a dark walnut buffet with cabinet doors for stowing away printer paper, the fax machine, etc. Flanking each side of the buffet are file cabinets. Sitting on top of each cabinet are the two larger printers. In front of the printer/file cabinets are the most beautiful linen/nail-head trimmed screens. They are on wheels, too, for easy access to the printer as needed.

The desk is situated in front of three windows, providing a nice view when day dreaming calls. To the left of the desk is a tall bookcase, and the last of the three darned printers (which also happens to be the tiniest) sits on the bottom shelf. Slightly in front of the bookshelf and next to the window is a black wing chair and small end table.

All in all, both the client and I are thrilled with how this room turned out! It provides a welcoming space for overnight guests, an efficient home office space for the client's husband who works long hours from home, and lastly, the room looks and feels like a living room. Seeing it all come together has been thrilling!

If you are in need of design services and would like to receive a customized design board, floor plan, and a detailed source/shopping list within your budget send me an email - I'd love to help out!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

One of the World's Best Kept Diet Secrets...

It's no secret around here that I have a major sweet tooth. Unfortunately, that's not the only thing I'm a sucker for. I also love comfort foods, the cheesier the better......especially when the temperatures starts falling (like it rapidly is here in New England). So naturally, lasagna is one of my fave foods that I've been especially looking forward to eating lately. Having a lasagna a few times during the year really isn't a bad thing....but what do you do when you want lasagna on a weekly basis once the cold weather rolls in? Well, my lucky readers, I have the answer for you...................

Zucchini Lasagna!!! The idea is genius. I came across Gina's recipe on one of my favorite healthy cooking blogs: Skinnytaste. The recipe includes all of the typical lasagna ingredients - flavorful, thick sauce, ground meat, and lots of ricotta, parm/reggiano and mozzarella cheese. But no lasagna noodles. That clever Gina simply sliced zucchinis into long, thin strips and replaced the lasagna noodles with this low-cal, low-carb vedgie substitute. With the glorious sauce, fresh basil, loads of cheese and ground meat I can honestly say the lasagna noodles weren't missed and it 100% fulfilled my lasagna craving.

This recipe was simply too good to not share with as many people as possible, so I've posted it below. The only special comment I have regarding the recipe is be sure to read the entire recipe before you begin any steps. I always fall for not doing that, and sure enough, I missed a kind-of-important beginning step, which was to be sure and cut the zucchini and then sprinkle it with salt and let it sit for about 10 minutes before broiling it. This will help zap out moisture, as zucchini is known for retaining a lot of water. Other than that, the steps are easy and it's basically the same process as making lasagna the traditional way.

Wait, I lied - I do have one more special comment regarding this recipe. Gina's version below calls for 93% lean beef; I used 99% fat free turkey. It tasted amazing with turkey and by making this substitution it will definitely reduce the calories/fat in the nutrition information posted below.....that is unless you add in an extra handful of mozzarella cheese like I did.... :-)

Zucchini Lasagna
Servings: 6 • Serving Size: 1/6th • Calories: 418.8 • Fat: 17.6 g • Protein: 39.2 g • Carb: 20.9 g • Fiber: 3.1 g 
  • 1 lb 93% lean beef
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8" thick
  • 15 oz fat free ricotta
  • 16 oz reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded (Weight Watchers)
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 large egg
On a gas grill or in the broiler, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side.

In a medium sauce pan, brown meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8" thick slices, add salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well.

Preheat oven to 350°

In a 9x12 casserole spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. Then place some of the ricotta cheese mixture, then top with the mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. Top with sauce and mozzarella and cover with foil.

Bake 45 minutes covered at 375°, then uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand about 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

 Bon Appetit! Does anyone else have any other healthy recipes to share??! Do tell!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Inspiration Board for a Nautical Inspired Bar/Living Room

G'day to all of my lovely and faithful readers out there (if any of you remain after my extended summer hiatus from blogging).....for a host of reasons, I decided to take the summer off, and I am happy to write that I am officially back in the swing of things, including blogging and serial DIY-ing! What's my latest project, you ask?

I have been dabbling with the idea of creating inspiration boards to help me pull together all of the design visions running through my head - both for my own home and for others that have sought out my design perspective. There are many a talented designer out there currently using inspiration boards (both virtual and in the flesh, or, er, paper) and I thought I would try hand at it, too.

My first go around with a virtual inspiration board has revolved around a minor makeover plan for our living room. Overall, Mr. C. and I think the living room is pretty and for the most part all of the rooms on the first floor of our home are for the most part, finished. Up until a few weeks ago, here is what our living room looked like:

However, we spend the vast majority of our time in only half of those rooms - namely the kitchen and our family room. The dining room gets used on Thanksgiving and the living room, well, never. I want our rooms to not only look good, but to serve a purpose so we can actually use them on a somewhat regular basis.

Inspired by our recent vacation to Napa and our love for wine (and probably by our most recent fascination with "Mad Men,") we have decided to use this living room as more of a wine tasting/bar/lounge space. Mr. C. and I both have always had a love for reds (Mr. C's first choice is Malbec, mine = Cabernet) and we are starting to build a decent collection. We also enjoy a good cocktail, so we have a pretty decently stocked bar, as well. So, our love of booze (ughh, does that sound really bad!?) has helped us decide how we would like to utilize this space.

Turns out I'm not the only one to have this brilliant idea for their living room.....apparently between the 16-18th century, many homes contained "drawing rooms," which is where the owner of the home (and his wife) would withdraw after dinner for cordials and cigars. Although we won't be called this space a "drawing room," we will definitely be using it as such. That is, until AA comes a-knocking at our door. Bad, I know.

So, here is my first inspiration board featuring the design vision for our living room/lounge. I was feeling a nautical style (of course!), but I wanted the room to have a decidedly more formal look and almost resemble being aboard a fancy yacht bar...if that makes any sense. That's what I was picturing in my head, anyway.....and here it is pictured below in my first-ever inspiration board:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Red and White Striped Decor

Hi all! I’m Jennifer and I write for Arcadian Home Decor, a site that chronicles the work of top interior designers and home decor trends around the world. I've been writing about home decor since graduating university and have loved it ever since. I'm addicted to patterned fabrics, Jonathan Adler, chaise lounges, old doors, milk glass jars, antiques, and chandeliers. Erin, the owner of Stillwater Story blog, and I both have a love for everything Martha Stewart and reading blogs (I've always been a fan of her posts), so I was tickled pink (or red!) when I found out I'd be writing a guest post for her about red and white striped decor. Thanks Erin! Stripes are beautiful. They work in formal as well as casual spaces, they look great on walls, furniture and they can really be used to achieve any stylish look. Fat stripes, thin stripes and even those that are zigzagged, here are a few rooms boasting red and white striped decor. Give a transitional space like a hall or entryway some whimsy with bold red and white stripes. The traditional furniture is a pretty juxtaposition from the eccentricity of the wallpaper.
Red and white striped dishes on an open shelving display can become the showpiece of a kitchen or dining room.
Flex that patriotic muscle with a bedroom inspired by the red and white stripes of the American flag. Stripes run rampant in this space with lined furniture, carpeting and window treatments.
Striped bedding and vibrant wallcoverings add dimension to this bedroom with bunk beds - the pale-coloured furniture and flooring offset the loudness of the red and white stripes.
Give a tired workspace some life with red and white striped curtains - it instantly amplifies the plain space and becomes a place where the eye is immediately drawn.
What's sweeter than a sweet table flanked by red and white stripes? The wall provides a fun backdrop, while the colour scheme is carried through in the red and white polka-dot ribbon and white paper snowflakes.
Who loves red and white stripes? The Cat in the Hat, of course! The character who loves rhyme is perfect for over a crib and looks even more visually appealing when placed over a red and white striped wall.
The soft red and white tones of this bedroom are reflected in the fabric details of this space, adding just enough panache.
Content provided by Arcadian Home Decor, a site that specializes in top quality items at extremely affordable prices. Come visit us today!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Stainless Steel" Appliances for $10? Yes, Please!

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

In my post last week, I talked about how Mr. C and I stained Ikea butcher block countertops to give them a more custom look in our newly remodeled white kitchen. During the last phase of the countertop project, I started debating whether or not to spray paint our icky white trash compactor. I knew it would be perfect timing for such a project, since there were no countertops to contend with - we could easily move the appliance in and out....that is until the new butcher block got installed. It wouldn't be impossible to remove the trash compactor with countertops above it....but with all the blood, sweat and tears we had just put into that project I wasn't lovin that idea. So I figured it was now or never!!! 

I had read mixed reviews of other bloggers using stainless steel spray paint....some people with success, and some people that claimed to utterly regret the decision. I weighed the pros/cons carefully, and in the end decided to go for it because:

1) Our trash compactor is a small appliance - much smaller than spraying say, a fridge. I figured with less surface area, there is less room to mess up.
2) The trash compactor is old and always looks dirty - no matter how many times it's been scrubbed down. In my eyes...a slightly imperfect paint job (that was clean looking, at least) would be an improvement to a dirty appliance.
3) All of our other appliances are stainless steel. The white trash compactor sticks out like a sore white thumb.
4) If all else fails and I botch the compactor up something fierce...well, it can be replaced. It is an older appliance - probably going on 10 years, some point, we were bound to replace it. Why not spend the $10 on spray paint first to see if we can give the ole' compactor a face lift that will buy us a few years?? And lastly.....
5) My Mom, the mecca of all crafty, DIY projects, had sprayed my younger brother's appliances stainless in his first apartment and said it was a piece of cake....and she had tackled the big boys - fridge, dishwasher, etc. Even though I had read mixed reviews online, getting in-person feedback from a highly trusted source gave me the last bit of reassurance I needed to get in the rink with a measly little trash compactor.

I really wish I had taken more pictures of the icky white "before" trash compactor to show off the extreme difference in the before/after shots below...but I just couldn't bring myself to photograph that thing up close and personal when it was in our house. So, here are the best "before" pictures I have - with glimpses of the original compactor:

Compactor is in the bottom left corner...

Here are the afters:

Is my "new" compactor perfect looking? No. Would I do it again, though? YES! For an hour or so of my time and for $10, I am beyond pleased with the results.

Here are my tips for spraying appliances stainless steel:

* Clean your appliance! Get it as clean as possible so you have a nice, even surface to work with. Make sure you dry it thoroughly, too.
* If possible, move your appliance outside. Not only will this help to dissipate spray paint fumes, but you won't have to worry about carefully covering up your kitchen floor, counters, cabinets, etc.
* If you aren't an experienced spray painter, practice on something else first! Grab some cardboard boxes - anything! Practice until you're comfortable.
* Spray in even, thin coats. Multiple thin coats will always look better than one heavy, goopy coat.
* Buy extra spray paint. I thought I could get away with only one $3.99 can....then halfway through my paint job I had to make a second run to Wally World to pick up two more cans. In reality, I probably should have bought at least three more.
* Consider buying a spray gun handle. I actually don't have one of these (yet), but my carpenter brother in law suggested I get one...especially for a job like this. A spray gun handle is inexpensive and would make the job much easier on your hands. Here is one for under 4 bucks.
* Use a paint brand you trust. This is not an area to try and save a buck or two. If possible, go with a product brand you're familiar with, or ask a salesperson for a recommendation if you're a novice sprayer. I went with my old standby, Krylon stainless steel....Walmart sells it for $3.99.
* Let your appliance fully dry before moving it back inside - follow the drying time recommendation on your spray can.
* Make sure you get the entire area covered. I even sprayed inside the trash compactor; if I hadn't, you'd see the original white every time you opened the door. Who wants that?!?

Anyone else have success with spraying an appliance stainless??!?! Do share!!

I am linking up to the following blog parties: and

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bathroom Remodeling Advice

As I've mentioned in the past (here and here), updating our master bathroom has been on the back burner since we bought our house. Now that the kitchen renovation is coming to a close, why not forgo a break and focus all of my energy on the bathroom now?! Well, in reality I'll still probably take a nice, long break before even setting foot in the bathroom remodeling section of Lowe's....but that doesn't mean I can't still search for gorgeous inspiration pictures and make a mental list blog post of my remodeling ideas in the mean time, right?! And it just so happens that one of my friends recently asked for suggestions on remodeling her own bathroom....perfect timing, eh!?! She is drawn to white/gray colors in the bathroom, like me(!!), so there was no way I could say so no to dreaming up plans and ideas for a beautiful gray and white bathroom for my friend, and of course - for all my lovely readers out there!
Here are my tips for creating a classic white/gray bathroom that will stand the test of time (and trends), not break the bank and maximize the space (whether your bathroom is big or small):
Tip #1: Avoid trendy/highly patterned/taste specific/brightly colored/etc. big ticket purchases, such as your tile choices, vanity and shower/tub. Trendy purchases are usually not only expensive, but quickly become outdated as yesterday's news. Stick with classic, neutral colors for your tiles and other big purchases (such as white 3x6" subway tile, or carrara marble tile (or marble such as venetian/greecian marble and/or ceramic tile with similar gray/white coloring that is less expensive than carrara). If you like, let your trendy side come out through less permanent and less expensive purchases like wall paint, accessories, linens and artwork:

$24 bath mat from West Elm
Tip #2: Speaking of accessories - don't go overboard.  Having a lot of toiletries sitting around on your vanity will give the impression that there is no other place to store your stuff and make the bathroom feel smaller. If you are lucky enough to have a linen closet in your bathroom, organize it effectively so you can keep your vanity as clutter-free as possible.

Tip #:3: To make a small (or medium/large for that matter) bathroom appear larger, one of the best strategies to achieve this is by replacing your shower rod and curtain with a seamless glass door. Shower curtains visually cut into the space and square footage of the bathroom, making the eye believe the room is smaller than it actually is. The small bathrooms pictured below look much larger thanks to the seamless glass shower doors.

Tip #4: Stick with a color scheme of only a few colors - preferably neutrals - and mix and match these colors in different sizes and shapes of tile. By mixing and matching your tile, you can splurge on one or maybe two high end accents, and keep the rest inexpensive. For example, the bathroom below consists of mostly of white subway tile (very inexpensive yet classic and beautiful) paired with a splurge of carrara tile on the floor: 

Sarah Richardson via Pinterest
Another option would be to splurge on a solid carrara vanity, then save money by going with a honed venetian/greecian marble or ceramic tile for the floor to compliment the gray/white tones of the vanity, like Sarah Richardson has done in the bathroom below. Actually, she may have gone with carrara tile for the floor here, but a less expensive venetian marble would look virtually identical to carrara. She also saved money by using inexpensive white subway tile in the shower.

Sarah Richardson via Pinterest
Save even more money by using all white tile, but tile it in an unexpected pattern rather than the same old grid pattern - try herringbone, brick or diamond. These patterns are still classic and traditional, but not as overly used as the standard grid layout. The shower below consists of inexpensive white subway tile, but when paired with high end shower fixtures it looks drop dead gorgeous:
The next bathroom pictured uses inexpensive white tile, yet in a variety of different sizes and shapes for another inexpensive yet beautiful effect:

If you are lucky enough to have a tub in your bathroom, save money by using white tile around the majority of the tub and add a backsplash splurge that coordinates with the floor, like this:
Or, splurge on one wall of fancy tile behind the tub (here the accent wall is pictured behind the sink, but it could totally work behind the tub, too):
Of course, you can always just continue your white subway tile (in an interesting pattern!) up the wall behind the shower; in fact, when in doubt I say just stick with the white:
If an all white shower is too white for you, consider adding one row of accent tiles (such as carrara mosaic) tiles mixed in with the white tiles, like this:

Aubrey & Lindsay's Blog

BTW, if you like the accent shower tile idea, be sure to read Tip #5 for some major money saving potential with that!
For the shower floor, continuing with the white tile (perhaps in a different shape - if your walls are 3x6" subway, try miniature white hexagons or 2x2" squares on the shower floor, etc.) is your most inexpensive option....a moderate upgrade would be carrara (or any similarly colored tile) mosaic tiles, or if you have an accent row of tiles in your shower (or your bathroom floor) you could repeat this on your shower floor. A pricier splurge would be a river rock floor in a white or gray color - although this could be considered a bit trendy/taste specific.
Tip #5: If you want an accent row of tiles above your vanity, tub and/or in your shower, buy the easy-to-install 12x12" mesh sheets of tile and cut these sheets into equal halves, thirds, quarters, etc. and you'll end up buying a much smaller quantity of the pricier 12x12 sheets. For example, if this sheet of carrara mosaic costs $12/sheet....
Home Depot
...Rather than having a 12" tall accent, simply cut this sheet containing 10 columns with 10 rows into 5 rows of 2x10 squares, or 2 rows of 5x10 squares. Your accent strip will be smaller, but you'll save a lot of money here. Remember how pretty this shower looked?
Aubrey and Lindsay's Blog
The accent row of tile is small but striking and this look could easily be recreated by cutting out mesh tile sheets.
Tip #6: To add architectural interest, consider wainscoating and/or other trim details to your bathroom.  The most inexpensive form of this would be beadboard, followed by DIY board and batten or DIY frame wainscoating. Or, you could add a chair rail and paint the top section a very light gray and underneath a slightly darker gray. Crown molding "finishes" a room in my opinion and would be an inexpensive, DIY project for the bathroom, as well.  Pricier options would include having frame wainscoating professionally installed or installing a coordinating tile underneath a tile chair rail.

Tip #7: Space verses Storage. Before remodeling your bathroom (and this is especially important if yours is on the smaller side) it's very important to think carefully about how much storage you will need in your bathroom, not only now, but five years from now. Think long term. Will kids eventually be sharing this bathroom? Then perhaps a single pedestal sink that offers no storage isn't your best bet. However, if storage isn't a problem and you want to make your bathroom feel larger, a pedestal sink takes up very little floor space and will help make your bathroom feel larger. Another way to nab more space is to have an open vanity, like the picture below. Like the pedestal sink, the drawback of an open vanity is that you lose under-the-sink storage space; however, it is important to also note that baskets could be placed underneath the vanity and you could add medicine cabinet mirrors above the vanity for additional storage, like this:
If storage overrides making the bathroom appear larger than I would stick with a traditional vanity with cabinets and drawers, like this (minus the tall side cabinets - unless you have room for them, then by all means go for it!):