Thursday, January 31, 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, January 30, 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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What is French polish? and why has it risen so much in price recently?

French polish has advanced much in recent years and modern polishes used
by professionals can now give a very hard & heat resistant finish when appropriately applied. They’re in some cases, every bit as good as modern lacquers. But also leave that elegant, lustrous and beautiful deep shine that only french polish can achieve.

French polish became prominent in the late 1800's of the Victorian era. Also known as Shellac Polish, it was found in the forest regions of India and Thailand. It is a secretion of resin from the Lac insect, Coccus Lacca. The female Lac insect sticks its teeth into the branches and bark of trees, which releases a secretion of resin from the tree to cover its whole body and secure itself in place on the tree. When the secretion is harvested or removed it often contains the bug itself and is known as Seedlac.

When removed, Seedlac is very brittle & flaky and normally comes in two different colours, Orange Bysaki & Blonde Kushmii. During production, the Orange Shellac is bleached with Sodium Hypochlorite solution to form white Shellac Polish.

Seedlac or Shellac as more commonly known was once used in many other ways other than just in french polish. This includes the outer film-like layer on common pills, candles, jewellery, dental technology, inkwells, old gramophone records, cycle handlebar tape & even Soviet AK47 Rifles. And more notably on fruit to replace the natural wax which is removed after the cleaning process. Interestingly, Shellac was also given an E number, E904 whilst used on fruit, but it was not classed as vegetarian as it may contain some crushed insects, causing it to have been referred to in the past as Beetle Juice!

Shellac sealer used by french polishers is used as a first coat barrier or primer coat on the wood to prevent the natural bleeding of resin or pigments into the french polishing process.

In the past two years because of the evident poor and inconsistent weather in the regions of India and Thailand, there has not been a successful harvest of the seedlac. Unfortunately, because of this the finished french polish product has risen considerably in price. CC French Polishing are expert french polishers in East Anglia and continue to use quality Shellac materials without passing any extra costs on to their customers.

Large Floor Tiles and This Year’s Tiling Trends

Large floor tiles are becoming an increasingly popular choice for interior designers. The unique and contemporary feel of a large tile surface effect, has propelled them to the forefront of modern interior design, with many choosing to employ them right throughout the home – as Hallway tiles, in kitchens, lounges and bathrooms alike.

But, along with a modern look, large tiles offer a range of other advantages, from practical reductions in workload, to visual interior effects.

Most notably perhaps, using a large tile in smaller spaces can really help a room realise its potential, by giving the impression of a larger floor space and greater room. Less grout lines not only means less post-tiling work, but it also helps achieve a continuous, monolithic look, that adds fluency and character to a lot of designs.

In particular the use of large bathroom tiles is growing in popularity, as many house builders try to make the most of the smaller interior spaces.

Other popular tile styles this season include the wood effect floor tiles, which offer an alternative to the classic vinyl wood flooring, and bring a unique texture and rich design finish to a variety of interior spaces. They are great in bathrooms, and becoming increasingly popular in living spaces.

Ballard Homes, a house building company based in South Wales, with a range of houses for sale in Neath and the surrounding area, said that their designers take great care when picking tiles. “With the right tiles,” they said, “indoor spaces can really change in character and atmosphere. We spend a lot of time making sure we get this right.”

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.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Fun Way to Beat the Winter Blues--Shopping

We have had amazing weather this winter.  And by amazing, I do NOT mean hot, dry gardening weather.  I mean two feet of snow, freezing rain, ice, cold, cold, cold weather!

Well, the best way to solve the winter blues (in my book!) is to go shopping.  Recently, I found the cutest shop and it's not far from me.

Just a Bed of Roses has so many fun things!  The first time I went there, I was paying my property taxes across the street and saw lots of galvanized goodness out front.  I went in and found a shop FULL of great stuff and the nicest people working!

I've gone back several times on my days off and have found something fun every time! 

Brenda, the shop owner, carries these FABULOUS magazines!  They are huge, have lovely photography and stories of very creative people!  I was looking for a gift for a friend for Christmas and knew she'd love this magazine.

When I was in the other day, I found this burlap pillow.  I love it on the chair my husband remade several years ago.

I cannot wait for spring so I can put some flowers in this rusty green and yellow bucket!  I love the handle too!

They were selling these lemon cypress plants before Christmas.  I had it on my dining room table for the holidays and now have it in the family room.  I soak it in a bowl of water once a week and it's good to go.

I've bought the old zinc lids for canning jars as well as these wooden spools of thread.

Everytime I stop in and see Brenda or Joni, I find something fun and have a great visit! 
What fun finds have you found lately?
Thanks so much for stopping by.
I am linking to the following parties:

Friday, January 25, 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.

Wednesday, January 23, 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.

Why Mozaic Tiles in Vinyl Is a Flooring Classic

Mosaic effect flooring is not only eye-catching it a design element that is featured in homes, which are incorporating styles ranging from contemporary to old world. The mosaic effect vinyl flooring, however, is more economically friendly and provides the benefits of being waterproof. This makes these types of flooring the right choice for kitchens and bathrooms.

The Traditions 573 Maroc vinyl features a pattern of blues. It has a 2 mm thickness and comes with a five year warranty. Investing in this product is a perfect up-grade for homes that are changing their flooring to a mosaic blue pattern. The floor features the look of tiles that are in harmony with different colours in the blue family.

The Traditions 574 Novecento Vinyl features a white background with a small blue diamond pattern. This is a solid option for shoppers who want to add blue to their flooring, but they do not want the colour to dominant it. The pattern is simple and elegant.

Mosaic flooring is a design staple that will never go out of style. However, for shoppers on a renovation budget, it may have seemed out of reach. The good news is that because these products are made of vinyl they are in reach of every home owner’s budget. By viewing samples of these products, before a purchase is made, shoppers can determine which option suits them best.

These pleasing designs are easy to install. However, it will give the look of having spent hours cutting each tile. The work can easily be done in less than a day in most cases. To review the options further, visit the Carpet Right website here:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Using Sliding Wardrobe Doors in a Modern Bedroom

In the modern home more and more people are utilising sliding wardrobe doors rather than the traditional free-standing or walk in wardrobe. When it comes to re-planning the layout and style of your bedroom it’s integral that your room delivers that certain ‘wow’ factor when you walk in. 

As the market for sliding wardrobe doors grows companies such as Forsyth Glazing are now offering extremely competitively priced made to measure sliding doors. With many styles, sizes, finishes and colours you can easily find sliding wardrobe doors tailored to your requirements.

Mirrored sliding doors are a fantastic way to add an illusion that a room is bigger than it really is. Doors that are mirrored from top to bottom can really give add that sense of space to a small room. Mirrored sliding doors are also a lot less intrusive than traditional wardrobe doors that outswing often making a small room feel cramped and in-adequate. Many websites have in built design and build applications where you can plan out exactly how you want your sliding door system to look in your bedroom.

Wooden sliding doors can also be implemented into your bedroom, offering a more subtle touch than mirrored sliding doors they are less of a focal point in a bedroom and offer a traditional feel. There are a range of different ranges of wooden sliding doors available on the market such as; oak, pine and mahogany. The choices are limitless and depend entirely on your existing bedroom’s style and character.

Coloured sliding doors are a fantastic way to add character, style and modernisation to your bedroom. Gloss black sliding wardrobe doors are sleek and sophisticated along with maroon and navy colours. If you are considering coloured sliding doors then dark, modern finishes are the way to go, your bedroom should adopt a calm and relaxing environment so avoid bright and brash colours that spoil the contrast of your room.

Once you have decided on the style of sliding door wardrobes make sure you correctly measure the dimensions so your doors can be made to exact measurements. The look of your bedroom could be compromised if the doors are not a perfect fit in their allocated space. The only dimensions needed should be the width and height of your doors. However don’t be afraid to seek professional advice before committing to an order.

Monday, January 21, 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.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A little something special for house...

As you can imagine, it sometimes so happens that while looking for pretty somethings for clients, we come across pretty somethings we want for ourselves.  ( = Why this job is dangerous!! ;)

That's what happened when my design assistant, Meghan, was doing a little shopping on 1st Dibs a few weeks ago...  I know when I get her emails saying she loves something that I might be in trouble.  She sent me a link to this:

 It's a 1950s capiz shell & brass lantern from David Bell Antiques (who happens to be local!!) and I fell in loooooove with it.  
I'd been waiting for just the right piece to come along for my dining room and had decided I'd be fine with the hole in my ceiling for a year or more, if needed.  I'd been making so many decisions on my house so quickly and really wanted something really special for my dining room, which I think is really the toughest room in my house because it's also a pass-through to other rooms... 
{My dining room "before..."  Even though the carpet and pictured chandelier are gone, it's still a sort of awkward space...  We've made it even more awkward by shifting the back wall two more feet into our dining room to make our kitchen larger and so the wall now hits the window directly.  waa waa waa.}
But I had decided I wasn't going to settle for any sort of instant gratification.  I wanted something vintage with a great patina yet still modern-feeling... so I was willing to wait however long.  
But I didn't have to!! 
(only a few months really)
As soon as I saw the fixture Meghan found, I was done & knew I had the perfect spot for it. 
 (I.e. excuse for it at my house.)
(You know how they talk about wedding dresses and "knowing" that you've found the right one immediately when you try it on?  That's kind of how I am with furnishings/ lighting/ house stuff and so I just "knew" like a bride;) ;)
David & Tom from David Bell Antiques cut the fixture to the size I needed & hand-delivered it to us this afternoon.  (They are soooo nice and I've found myself drooling over their things on 1st Dibs since we found them on a couple of occasions... I love their eye.  They've done a sale on One King's Lane too.)
Here are a few of my favorite things they have:
 {Ahhh love!!!  B. Koschmider Expressionist Painting on Paper, 1998}

{Vintage 1970's Yves Saint Laurent Gilt Bronze Cuff Bracelet... I've got a thing for cuff bracelets.}

{Intrigued by this photograph & would love it on my wall: A" gorgeous and mysterious silver gelatin print by 20th century master Japanese photographer Eikoh Hosoe (b. 1933), entitled "Bee and Woman".}

And now another close-up of my beauty which I'm sure you're sick of seeing:
{I love the mottled brass cage and the fine hinges where it opens)
..Anyway, this baby's going up this afternoon & I can't wait!!  I'll keep you posted!!
Also, I've gotten lots of emails asking why I haven't been showing many pictures of my house...  I am DYING to share more with you but it's also really important for our business that we get our home published, so I'm not able to post photos.  It's KILLING me, trust me, but the reality is that many design magazines won't publish homes that have been on blogs/online and I can't risk it.  As soon as I can, I'll share, promise!!
Hope you have a great weekend!!

To view more of David Bell's pieces, check out 1st Dibs here.  

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