Mirror, Mirror…

In renovating, as in life, sometimes you have to make sacrifices.  Especially when your house is on a small, sloped lot in an urban-suburban area with neighbors close by and setbacks to abide by. In order to get a functional garage AND a nice size bedroom above it (that could be accessed through a full height doorway) we had to make the tough call to build the addition more towards the front of the house and thus eliminate a window in our dining room. Which only has two windows as is. Here it is now- no, we did not just have a raging party- we had to take all our glassware and china out of the wall cabinets while they are framing. :)


I am going to mourn the loss of one set of drapes. Truly. Also, I really need to find a rug.

On the plans the loss of this window didn’t bother me, but now that the framing is up I see just how much light we are going to lose (until we open up the entryway with more windows which will help a TON- but as I mentioned, phase three is not happening until I win the lottery or sell an organ- a vital one).  What we are gaining is well worth it, so I have to find a way to make this work for us.  And where my brain is at right now is a large mirror.  As much as a statement piece of art would rock my socks off, I need something that can bounce around the light I DO have. So I’ve gone and found a bunch of contenders (click images for links):

This french panel mirror is my favorite I think, but I wish it were slightly antiqued. I did find this tutorial on how to antique a mirror. I’d try it on a cheap plate glass small mirror first to see how it comes out before attempting it on this beauty.

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Vintage gilt wood could be cool too…

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Brass framed options- maybe too much brass.

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Love these simple mirror framed Venetian styles too!

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I also have these two amazing vintage candle sconces that I could flank the mirror with. They are AMAZING.  I have them flanking the window on the opposite wall now and they look incredible on the grasscloth.

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I’ll keep you posted on what we end up with- and wish me luck when they do finally close that window up next week! :(


Party Down.

A few images from our small party for Andrew this weekend- I was so frantic I didn’t get to take a single shot but thankfully Sarah was there and capture a few snaps (mixed in with my pre-party instagrams).

The cutest pic of Andrew from when he was little- double stripes? No wonder I love him.


Yep- I went with the sputnik light. And I LOVE it. I also rented a black and white stripe tablecloth from La Tavola Linens,  ghost chairs from PBD Events and pulled together a centerpiece from bunches grabbed at the flower market (in a Target vase).

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Subconsciously bought Line 39 cab- perfect for turning the big 4-0. :)  Bought a bunch of glasses from IKEA because they were cheaper then renting- a pack of 6 wine glasses for $4.75!  The napkins I got through For Your Party.


Details from the house I’m loving.

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A quick pre-party shot of the living room with our new coffee table, side tables, lamps, rug and pillows. :)


The flowers- wanted them to be more English garden then uptight. Love how they came out.

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Living room shot featuring my fave side table (similar) and Mitchell Gold chair– complete with arrangement sent over by friends.


The party begins.


Andrew’s favorite things- scotch and North Carolina BBQ!!!

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The sunroom with our new Peter Dunham pillows which I looooove and a Dash & Albert indoor/outdoor rug.

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My mom made one of her famous cheesecakes (Andrew’s favorite).

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Another sunroom shot (complete with Baxter butt and knocked over books– but hey, it’s life).

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Yesterday I spent in this spot on the couch ALL DAY with this view (never drinking champagne AGAIN.  At least not until next weekend.)  I have not spent a whole day in sweats on the couch since I can’t remember when and you know what? I needed it.

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The party was great incentive to get our house done and now that it’s in a good place (minus dining chairs) we can get back to enjoying our weekend doing OTHER things like spending time outside, going to museums and movies and soon- working in the yard.  FINALLY.

Adventures in Custom Furniture

I’ve been designing specific custom upholstered pieces for my clients for years now, which is incredibly fun and usually results in JUST what the space needed… down to the millimeter.  And over the years I have found that dining tables tend to be the items that most need to be customized to fit a space and are most deserving of the attention, time and money.  But I have had many a client shy away from taking the custom route due to intimidation.  It can seem like a scary process to those who have never done it!  But when it comes down to it I always find that those who go the custom route are the happiest.  But it’s all about who you work with.  I got to meet the fabulous people from Huston & Company while on a trip to Maine at the English Meadows Inn.  One of the innkeepers suggested I swing by their studio and see the way these guys work (and by guys, I mean the father and son team who run the business!)  What a serendipitous connection, let me tell you…

When it came time time to think about dining tables for my own kitchen/dining room I decided to pair up with Huston to design something special and to show you how the process works.  Until this point in my life I have not had a dining table of my own- all previous tables have been hand me downs from my parents or Andrew’s grandparents.  That’s the thing about dining tables- they tend to be passed down generations.  If they are made well, that is.  I loved that for years we ate a table Andrew had his beloved “egg mush” at when visiting his Grandma and Grandpa.  It wouldn’t fit in our new home, and so now that table is my conference table in my office, so don’t worry, it’s still in the family. :)

In our new space, our first real “home” together as a family, Andrew and I wanted and needed something different- and something that was our own.  The new space is rather square and I just knew I wanted a round table from the get-go.  I kept the style in mind as I picked finishes and pieces for the kitchen and when it came time to get down to the table I knew what I wanted….almost.  I was going for a rustic meets modern look- kind of hard to pull off and not exactly what Huston’s signature collection of designs represents.  That is the first thing to know about designing custom- it’s all about the craftsmanship- if the furniture builders are good, they can help you design anything your brain can imagine.  You don’t need to be a designer, they can do the designing while you do the tweaking too!  The Huston fellas were up for the challenge of building something different and working with a perfectionist designer!  So I sent them some inspiration pics to work from- some more rustic than I wanted, some more modern and some too “finished” and formal.  I told them I wanted all these tables to get together and produce and offspring table blending them all!


And they did just that- they took what I was describing and sent me some drawings! I loved the table off the bat!  Now, not everyone lucks out with a shot effort like that- sometimes it take a few rounds of drawings to get it right!  This doesn’t mean it’s not going well, it just means the conversation has to continue between the client and builder. That’s the beauty of custom- everything is up to you.  The only change I made was making it bigger- these drawings were at 54″ inches round and I went up to 60″- since it was a fixed top I wanted to make it as big as I could so maybe I could squeezer in 8 people in a pinch. Super easy.





So next was picking the finish- the real tricky part! This is where the “rustic” came in- but not TOO rustic because unfinished raw, reclaimed wood STAINS and is super hard to clean.  I wanted the look, but not the hassle!  I described it as a white/grey washed distressed oak and waited to see what they came up with, as it’s not a typical finish they do. The first two samples were a bit too uniform:

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So I asked for a couple more after sending a sample of something similar I picked up to them to see. The next two they sent had a winner (the one on the right)! And we were off!

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They sent me images of the table in process and I loved that not only was it being made locally in Maine, but by HAND.  I mean, in a day in age when everything seems to be mechanized and mass produced it’s so nice to go back to hand-crafted goods.  Even the bottom is signed and dated by the woodworker who spent time and energy making a gorgeous piece of furniture just for me.  I absolutely love that.

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(The stamp and signature on the bottom of my table!)


TA-DA!!!! Here she is!


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Here it is in my space- I need a rug, chandy (going up today!!!!) and chairs, obviously- the decorating continues!



Now I know what you are going to say- “but it’s totally mind-blowingly expensive to have a table made custom!” Not true. Yes, it’s pricier than picking one up at some retail stores, but it’s not as much as you might think.  This table, a 60″ diameter solid oak piece retails for $3,275.00 (* full disclosure, I did not pay this amount).  I’ve quoted mass produced tables for clients in that size for double that price!  And when you consider this is a bespoke item that can and most likely will be passed down to your kids after many, many happy family meals around it, it’s really quite reasonable.  As I’ve said before, I am a believer in saving and buying the best you can afford when it comes to staple long term items.  Just as I did for my kitchen renovation.  I waited to buy a house and do this until I could afford to do it exactly the way I wanted so it would last a lifetime and not leave me wanting to redo it in five years.  Same goes for large long term items like a dining table.  My advice: spend your money as well as you can once, instead of three times poorly.

Huston does more than just tables- they build so many things- bookshelves, desks, chests, chairs, wine storage and one of my favorite things- this rocking horse with leather ears, a wonderful heirloom piece for new parents.  After such a wonderful experience working with them, I would highly recommend any project you might ask them to craft for you.



Renovation Update: Big Progress!

There was MASSIVE kitchen progress last week- we have about a week to go before it’s pretty much done! I CANNOT wait- constructions dust, eating crappy, living in my bedroom- it’s all gotten very very old, even though my crew from Wellbuilt is moving REALLY fast!  But it is quickly becoming so worth it as I see everything come together! I think halfway through the process it’s easy to think “Ugh, why did I even start this?” but now that I see the finish line I am thrilled.

But of course, I had a mini-meltdown on Friday about the decisions I’d made- the cabinet color was bugging me and then my counters went in and they looked darker than when I saw the slabs in the warehouse AND they came will huge water stains in them.  Seeing as I paid a FORTUNE for these special Brazilian quartzite slabs that I was told would NOT stain like marble because they were “harder than granite”, I was furious.  I still kind of am, but we have someone coming to look at them tomorrow.  And when I woke up yesterday morning and came downstairs to see my backsplash in it brought everything together and I fell in love.  I didn’t do so bad.



The grout has not been applied yet but it is the same grey color as the cabinets.  I love how crisp and clean it looks. And the brass hardware, which I was doubting as well, now pops.  They are the 306 pull from Colonial Bronze in matte sating brass (they have SO MANY brass finishes!!!)


I SUPER LOVE my Blanco sink from Waterspot. Huge, sleek and a fab mix of traditional and modern- in fact it’s double sided- one side has a more rounded country look the other (which I installed facing out) is a bit more squared off. GENIUS!!!


While there is drama with the counters they are pretty awesome looking with their linear veins (it’s Luna de Luce/ Bianco Macaubas quartzite).


I’m glad we did a glass door into the mudroom (paper not removed from panes yet) to let more light in. And the lower cabinet color now works for me (it’s Benjamin Moore’s Cape May Cobblestone).

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And my cabinets. OH my cabinets. They are the most well made, amazing things I have come across in the biz.  The soft close drawers actually CLOSE (I’ve had many before that just stick open) and all the woodwork is exceptional.  Never mind all the special interior dividers and such that will make organizing a breeze.  I highly recommend Vermont Custom Cabinetry who made them and helped design the layout.  I got the name from my Dad who has used them many times before and I’m very glad for that.  Cabinets are the most important part of the kitchen design process( and the most expensive) and I feel like I got every penny worth of value.

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And these babies will go up Tuesday… I ordered the other ones too (which are from England BTW) just in case.  Whichever pair I decide not to use I’ll be selling, I’m sure! :)


It’s still a mess, but you can see how much it opened up the dining room ( I guess it’s more like dining AREA) too.  That opening will be cased this week and crown molding will go up!


We’re SO CLOSE!!! :)

Renovation Update: Living Room Inspiration

As the temperature drops and I spend more time inside I am aching to nest and start decorating even though every last cent I have is earmarked for our amazing kitchen renovation which starts in the next month or two.  As I said before designing for myself is SO hard, but I’ve committed to making this home a study in neutrals as to keep it feeling light, calm and cozy.  I spent a good chunk of the week in LA speaking to women about designing their homes and repeatedly told them that the most important thing is to have patience and wait and save for ONLY things you absolutely love.  Of course picking up super affordable basics is a big part of design on a budget, but make sure that there are lots of pieces with character and patina layers with those items.  I need to take this advice MYSELF and wait for things like a lucite and brass coffee table like the one below. I also have been obsessed with the Mitchell Gold Major chair in leather with stain brass since it came out and so I think that might be something I start sacking away for.

sofa/ rug/ chair/ side table/ floor lamp/ tulip table/ coffee table/ art/ sconces

blanket/ pillow fabric/ candle/ shades/ tray

Proof that vintage pieces that you fall in love with don’t have to be pricey- this console was $75 at a estate sale YEARS ago and I still love it. I’ve painted the interior cubbies two colors so far and am about to change it again to a grassy green and find a finish carpenter to make wine racks on the inside to store a few bottles.  I’ve been stumped as to what to put in those little cubbies forever and finally have found a great purpose! This area will be great once drapes are up- I am LOVING my Ballard Designs/ Suzanne Kasler antlers I put up on either side too.

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And I can’t believe I’m doing this after I was like, a zillion percent sure this was going to be my sofa for the next 10 years but I am selling my navy velvet sofa. Our new home HAS to have a sectional with chaise or else Andrew and I might kill each other.  The dogs take up 75% of the sofa and so my 6’4″ husband and I are relegated to basically sitting on the arms crunched up and pissy. Email me [email protected] if you are interested. Pick up ONLY.

(fabric is darker than appears in this pic)