Projects on deck for 2017

Now that we’re feeling pretty settled in our house, and we’ve been here officially four months, I wanted to lay out the projects we’re prioritizing for the rest of the year. We may not get to everything, and our priorities may shift, but I do want to set some goals:

1. Finish the guest bedroom

We have a June deadline for this room (promised my mom and dad they’d have somewhere to sleep when they’re in town) and BIG plans that I can’t wait to share. I know we naively started the One Room Challenge on this room just after moving, but there was just no way we could prioritize the room in the way that we needed to. So alas, it’s at the top of the list for real this time.

2. The sunroom (phase 1)

I shared my inspiration for this space earlier this month. We’re making some temporary updates so the room can be functional space for us until we decide structurally what we’re doing with the space.

3. The guest bathroom

I did a quick lite makeover of this room before our housewarming party, but we have plans to gut the entire space to make a modern and fresh bathroom that makes us excited to have friends and family stay over

4. Replacing the main beam

This is a boring but necessary one. We have a wooden main beam that spans under the original part of the house (entryway, kitchen, entry seating area) that is totally stable and was to code when the house was built in 1940 but is no longer up to today’s standards. So we’re planning on upgrading to a steel beam and replacing the joists so that we have a 100% solid foundation for the future. I’m a firm believer in making sure the foundation and base is solid to ensure all the future work we do can be perfect and last indefinitely.

5. Designing our outdoor patio

This house is blessed with two outdoor decks/patios and one of the things that attracted us to our town is the coastal, outdoor vibe. So we’re so excited to have a very large and recently installed stone patio to use daily during the summer. Out here, we’re going to be putting in a barbecue, a dining area and a seating area.

6. Miscellaneous projects

Widening the doorway from the front hallway to the living room, hanging window coverings, painting the windows, upgrading our exterior lighting, recovering our brass dining chairs, creating a storage solution for our coat closet, fencing off the propane tank in our backyard, etc.

And on the ‘if we get to it list’ (but likely the 2018 project list)

7. Creating a master suite

Our bedroom is huge and is one of the only houses we looked at that had both a master bath and walk in closet. We know we need to gut both spaces to create a much more functional bathroom with a double vanity, stand up shower and fingers-crossed, a soaker tub, in addition to a more functional and organized closet. The challenge for us is nailing the right floor plan, since we can steal some space from the oversized bedroom. We know that if we ever want to sell the house, this is going to be a major selling point and we should want to maximize it as much as possible and that’s contingent on a really effective floor plan.

8. Decorating my office

This shouldn’t be too hard, just painting the walls, figuring out a floor plan that works and swapping out hardware. This could happen in 2017, but isn’t a top priority.

9. The laundry room

We have a small laundry room tucked off our built in pantry but I was horrified to discover that the room isn’t insulated. So like we try to set foot in there as little as possible and end up hauling the clean clothes through the kitchen and into the living room  in order to fold them. Not ideal. Getting this room warm (or at the very least less cold) and looking chic would make me very happy.

Wish us luck! Can’t wait to see how much of this list we can accomplish over the next 11 months.

Eclectic Black & White Bathroom: Before & After

And just like that, the first room in our house is done. Well, at least for now. Backing it up, as I wrote about previously, this bathroom is on our main floor and is the one most frequently used by guests, so I wanted it to make a strong impression that was true to our style.

We started out with a slightly sad butter yellow room with dingy board and batten, an old builder grade vanity, mirror and light fixtures. I have a whole post dedicated to the before photos over here, but I’m sharing a few here to set the tone.

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And then I set forth the design plan, which leaned heavily on high contrast black walls with white board and batten, a warm brass mirror and faucet and a high-gloss black vanity. I also incorporated some natural materials, like a bamboo wastebasket and wood tray to bring warmth and character to the space.

Looking at the design plan, I’d say that the final room definitely stayed true to the plan.

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A few small things that changed: I ended up going with a slightly different Schoolhouse Electric sconce with an articulating arm in order to amp up the drama and make the most of the vertical space visually.

And here are the after photos.

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So. Much. Better.

I’m going to do a full post on the faux Roman shades, because they were definitely an exercise in nailing the look I wanted in a creative way without spending nearly as much as I should have for a Roman shade in a stunning designer fabric.

I also wanted to speak to the black walls – they’re dramatic and totally unexpected, and I’m completely obsessed with them. But, we definitely get less light into the room now with fewer reflective surfaces. It doesn’t bother me at all, because this is a bathroom, not a space we’re constantly using, but I do think I would hesitate to go super dark in a frequently used space in the house in the future.

And the sources:

Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams Black Magic in Semi Gloss

Trim Paint: Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White in Semi Gloss

Vanity Paint: Benjamin Moore Advance in Black

Lucite Vanity Knobs: Etsy

Brass Sconce: Schoolhouse Electric

Brass Mirror: Restoration Hardware (found at the outlet)

Brass Faucet: Harrison Brassworks (sourced off Craigslist)

Towel Ring: Vintage

Monogrammed Hand Towel: Pottery Barn

Persian Rug: Vintage from my fave rug shop on ebay

Flushmount Light Fixture: Pottery Barn

Brass Toilet Flush: Amazon

Wastebasket: Homegoods

Art Print: Mai Autumn

Frame: Framebridge

Toilet Paper Holder: Anthropologie

Shower Curtain Rod: Overstock

Shower Curtain Rings: Homegoods

Shower Curtain: Pottery Barn

Roman Shade Fabric: Schumacher Zimba in Charcoal

It’s funny, in looking over the list of sources, I realize a lot of pieces came from Pottery Barn. And yet, to me, this room doesn’t look like Pottery Barn. It’s a nice reminder of how you can make individual pieces your own in a space that mixes and matches both new and vintage and different retail shops. It’s ALL about the mix to make a style feel unique to your style and like it represents your own personality.

Vintage Door Hardware

Since our house was built in the 1940s, I’ve made it my mission to update all the door hardware with vintage glass and brass knobs that were popular through the late 1940s. The challenge, I quickly discovered, with vintage hardware is that the cap around the knob (more fancy folk refer to it as an escutcheon) has to be a lot larger in diameter to cover the round cut-outs for the lock mechanism in modern doors than their vintage counterparts.

As detailed in my last post, we painted our doors black and tossed the builder-grade doorknobs.

So, I ordered three sets of doorknobs off Ebay for a steal and naively thought I’d be all set to install them. As soon as we took the doorknob off the door, it became quite clear that this was going to be a more involved process, since you most definitely need to cover the hole where the doorknob + lock live. I finally found House of Antique Hardware these beautiful solid brass escutcheons that are designed for modern pre-drilled doors. I ordered one set to make sure it would work and when they arrived I was seriously impressed with how beautiful and well-made they are. But then I tried to fit the doorknob into the escutcheon and it was too snug to work. We sat on it for a little while and I tried to source new vintage doorknobs to fit. A few weeks later, Cory had a stroke of genius that he could just sand down the brass doorknob piece that needed to fit into the escutcheon in order to fix the fraction of an inch difference between the doorknob and the escutcheon. Success.

We know have beautiful vintage + new that looks vintage doorknobs, and at a price point that was a third of the doorknobs that I was considering in lieu of vintage. Between the doorknobs that I sourced for $8 each + $28 in brass escutcheons, for under $40 our doors look awesome. Now, I’m on the constant hunt for vintage doorknobs, so we can keep making our way through the doorknobs in the house, one room at a time. If you know of any good spots in the New York / Connecticut area, please let me know!

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Bringing some drama to our interior doors

When we first walked this house, I was horrified that previous owners had swapped all the original door hardware for cheap, builder-grade brass hardware. Yes, I know I love brass, but this is not the good stuff – it’s quintessential 1990s – and I’m happy to do without it. In addition to that, at some point the original doors were replaced with hollow-core 6-panel recessed doors. To me, they scream cheap, so I did some digging into how I could make them feel expensive, without replacing all the doors.

This hunt, landed me on the intel that both Martha Stewart and Nate Berkus are proponents of upgrading cheap doors with black paint for that luxe look I was seeking. So, I found some inspiration photos of interior doors painted black and I was smitten.

 

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Source: The Everygirl

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

Source: Manhattan Nest

So, I ended up using the same black paint as in the above Manhattan Nest doors, Benjamin Moore Black Onyx. It’s a slightly gray black, so it is a bit softer on the eyes than a pure black would have been. We used the Benjamin Moore Advanced formula, which we used when painting our bedroom campaign furniture and completely adore. For a finish, we went with semi-gloss to match the sheen on the trim-work.

We did one door at a time, taking down the door, sanding it on a sawhorse and then nailing two large nails into the top of the door and one into the bottom so it could be rotated easily. The cure time on the paint is 16+ hours, so the rhythm we got into was to do one coat of paint on the sawhorse, give it two days to cure and then hang the door with new hinges and touch up all the imperfections in the paint while it was hanging. Once that coat was cured, we’d install our new(ish) hardware, which I’ll discuss at length in the next post.

So here were the doors before painting commenced:

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And here they are today:

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The black feels clean and chic, but also modern yet traditional. Of the four doors on our main floor, we’ve completed three, where I’m contemplating whether we can do a fun half-glass door to our laundry room, to allow the room to feel more connected to the rest of the house. We still have many, many more doors to tackle upstairs, but I’m excited to bring all the doors in the house back to life.

 

Dining Room: Before and After

For a while, I believed that a large cowhide rug was the missing piece in our dining room. I scoured the internet for black and white salt and pepper cowhides that would be large enough to make an impact in the space, inspired by the below image. Yes, those are the same dining chairs, and the designer, Elizabeth Mollen of Slate Interiors in Nashville is a genius.

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Source: Lonny Magazine

But when we ordered an XXL cowhide, it just felt too diminutive in the space, so I started to consider other options. After some online inspiration hunting, I realized I already knew what the perfect rug would be: the Ikea Stockholm black and white striped rug. This rug is a gem with a fabulous price tag ($300) for an 8×12 wool rug, which is pretty much unheard of. Some quick searching for how the rug worked in high-end spaces sold me immediately.

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Source: Rebekah Gainsley 

Source: Unknown

So, here’s the thing, Ikea furniture and accessories are the top items on Craigslist, so while the rug is a steal new, I knew I could do better used. I didn’t have to wait long for the rug to pop up on Craigslist for $75, so as of last week, our dining room is looking much closer to ‘done’. The bold graphic stripes pack a huge punch in the room and play SO nicely with the David Hicks La Fiorentina fabric of our dining chairs. That pattern mix makes my heart so happy.

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The finishing touches for this room are roman shades for the windows and reupholstering the Milo Baughman brass cantilever dining chairs.

And because everyone loves a good before and after, let’s throw it back to move-in day:

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And to October, before we had painted the walls or hung the West Elm waterfall chandelier.

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We’ve come a LONG way in a few short months, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how this room is shaping up.

 

Art that matters

Moving from an apartment into a house with 3x the square footage, there are a lot of walls to fill. I have, however, over the years started to become more particular about the quality and meaning behind the pieces I bring into my home (and my wardrobe). Like many, I buy into the movement toward fewer, better things and want to make sure that I’m investing in pieces that I can hold onto for a long time.

So, when it came time for my bridal shower over the summer, I was extremely reticent about having a standard bridal shower, where you’re gifted lots of stuff for your home. While, I know it works for many brides, we were in a position where we already had a fully stocked kitchen, hadn’t yet made an offer on a house and didn’t want to transport lots of stuff from Toronto to Connecticut. So, I put forth the idea of my friends and family contributing to a piece of art by a Canadian artist, that Cory and I could cherish forever. While it’s not right for everyone, it worked for us tremendously well.

When it came time to choosing the art, I narrowed in on Zoe Pawlak, a painter from Montreal. I’d seen her work in design publications that I follow and was always transfixed by the soothing yet dynamic abstract compositions. Not only did I get to fulfill a bucket-list item of commissioning a painting, we also now have the most beautiful painting hanging in our dining room. Every day, I have an opportunity to think about my loving family and friends just north of the border. And, I know we invested in a piece of art that will stay will us infinitely longer than linens or appliances.

I can’t express enough how much I love this piece of art.

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The Perfect Brass Sconces

As a follow-up to this post, we now have sconces and they’re magical! After two months of staring at exposed junction boxes and electrical cables, our new brass sconces are a welcome sight. After much debate, we ended up going with the Vivianne Sconce from TripleSevenHome on Etsy. These sconces checked all the boxes: pretty brass finish, modern meets traditional in design and very easy on the wallet. We got them installed with only a few minor headaches, all related to poorly installed junction boxes in our house (lame, but Cory engineered it, as he does).

Since we’re in an old house in which few things are square, we were meticulous in using a level at every step in the installation process to ensure they were 100% level and even with one another.

Since these sconces are handmade in Florida, there was definitely some added anticipation and waiting time from when we placed our order in late November to when they arrived on our doorstep on Friday, but it was absolutely worth the wait.

And now for the photos:

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And a reminder of how far we’ve come with this entryway nook:

 

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It’s so. much. better. And pretty awesome to see my vision come to life in just a few short months.

The only downside to these sconces is that I had to shuffle some lamps around to keep it from getting monotonous with the brass base and black shade, so my architectural vintage brass lamp has a new home in the living room.

Sunroom Inspiration

Our house has mostly an open floor plan, and will be even more open when we take the wall down between the kitchen and the dining room. But, we do have a sunroom that runs the width of the house, alongside the dining room and living room. This room has been a challenge for me, but I’m determined to make it into usable space for us. The room is long and narrow (8″ x 26″), has incredible sunlight with 3 walls of windows but also has a disproportionate number of radiators and baseboard heaters plus a depressingly low ceiling.

The long-term plan is to open up the sunroom into the living room and dining room, but due to the expense of the work that would need to be done to make that happen, we’re putting that on the back-burner for at least another year. So, whatever we do now needs to be on the cheap, but also needs to flow well from the rest of our house and create an incremental space for us to use, especially during the morning when the sunlight is fantastic.

I started gathering inspiration photos for the room, where the vibe I’m going for is, as always, glam meets eclectic, but with a heavy dose of bohemian coziness. You should feel like you can kick back and enjoy the brilliant light with lots of warm textures.

One thing we’ve already decided on is that we’re going to be ripping up our carpet and laying black and white vinyl tiles. Originally, I was going to do a similar harlequin pattern to what Brady Tolbert did in his rental kitchen, below, but I think that stripes across the room will be more interesting since the space is so long and narrow. But I’m going to try both pattern out before adhering them and will make a call based on what works best in the space.

DIY-Vinyl-Kitchen-Floor-Tile-Peel-and-Stick-Retro-Brady-Tolbert-Kitchen-Vintage-Dining-Room-After-768x1024-1.jpgSource: Emily Henderson

Beyond that, I’d love to bring in another seating area with a settee or daybed you can curl up on and read a book, a hanging chair and lots of plants. We’re also going to be using our newest Milo Baughman brass etagere as a bar space.

And for some visual inspiration:

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Source: unknown

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Source: Apartment Therapy

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Source: Pencil & Paper Co.

 

 

What I’m crushing on: Mirrored Cube Side Tables

I love the now ubiquitous mirrored side tables and dressers, but always felt like they were a bit too ornate for my style in our house (plus my husband has some sort of vendetta against them). So when I stumbled across the mirrored cube side table, I felt like I’d found my mirrored furniture soulmate – these tables are super sleek without any knobs or drawers but offer that luxe, glam mirrored look. I can’t wait to order a pair for our guest bedroom (yes, we’re working on that room again – an update is upcoming). In the guest bedroom, our side tables don’t need to offer any real storage and just need to be a place for some fresh flowers, inspiring books, a ring dish and a carafe of water. We’re going to be installing sconces, so we don’t need real estate on top of the tables for lamps (huzzah!).

But look how chic these cubed tables are:

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Source: The Decorista

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Source: Wendy Labrum Interiors

And I’ve even found a pretty great looking one on Amazon for a totally reasonable price.

 

Easy DIY Polaroid Art

So I accidentally took a month-long break from this blog, whoops! Surprisingly, it’s not because we didn’t get lots accomplished (we did), but mainly because nothing feels quite done yet, since we have lots of light fixtures on order that have yet to arrive and have a few finishing touches remaining on our other projects.

For our wedding, we made the last minute decision to pick up two Instax Mini cameras and encourage guests to snap themselves (or other guests). At some point in the evening, I got my hands on one of the cameras and selfies with most of our guests ensued. Instead of stowing the photos away in a guest book, I liberated the photos. One evening I did a quick art DIY and framed them so we can be reminded of our wedding daily and have a conversation piece for guests when they come over.

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What you’ll need:

  • Assortment of polaroid mini photos
  • IKEA Ribba Frame
  • White poster board
  • Double-sided tape
  • Cardboard

Step 1:

Lay out your photos in a grid on a table and visualize how they’re going to layout in the frame.

Step 2:

Cut the poster board to size, so it covers the entire inside of the frame.

Step 3:

Cut cardboard down into roughly 1×1 squares.

Step 4:

Mount your polaroids to the cardboard squares with double-sided tape and then mount the cardboard to the poster board so all your photos are elevated. I wanted to accentuate each polaroid by floating them on the cardboard to get them closer to the glass in the frame.

Step 5:

Close up your frame and hang on your wall. Voila, you have sentimental but cool art!

In an effort to travel lighter, on our most recent trip to Miami, I left my DSLR at home and just brought one of the polaroid cameras. It made documenting the trip more fun and interactive for my family (there’s nothing like huddling around together waiting to see how a photo came out). I’m planning on mounting them in a smaller IKEA Ribba frame using this technique with the photos we took, so we always have a reminder of the vacation.