Saturday, May 5, 2018

GIDDY UP!

HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO YALL! Doesn't quite feel the same here on the east coast as it did in Southern California where this day was a huge celebration everywhere, but we are going to make it work! Tonight we are having friends over for dinner, and while this isn't a traditional Mexican meal in any way, it's darn good!! We've served this with bbq chicken in the summer, steak in the winter and tonight we are serving it with pork tenderloin, good ole cowboy beans. Joe took a recipe from Bobby Flay and tweaked it into his own pot of deliciousness. Naturally, we make this in a cowboy pan and serve it hawt!
AWE COWBOY!
So, here's what you need:
1 LB bacon
2 x 15 ounce canned cannelloni or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 Bell pepper, chopped
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
1 poblano or jalapeno, chopped
2 limes
cilantro, shopped
HERES WHAT YOU DO:
Cut the bacon into bite sized pieces and cook until crisp and fat is rendered, remove the bacon, add onion and peppers to the pan with bacon grease and cook until softened and starting to brown.
Add beans, stir to combine and allow beans to heat through, once hot mash 1/3 or 1/2 of beans in the pan to create a creamy texture and stir to blend (we do this with a wooden spoon).
Take off heat, add bacon and cilantro and juice of limes, salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

TURNING THE TABLES



More times than I can count, I've met a client desperately searching for the perfect accessory to no avail, and I come in and find it right under their nose. While helping with a bath renovation and other projects in this home, the client asked if I could help track down an ottoman for her "colorful" family room (bright furniture, high gloss light blue walls, orange and red accents...in person, it looks amazing, on paper sounds like a nutball designed it). As we walked around her home, I asked what pieces she liked and what she might want that perfect ottoman to look like. We landed on a coffee table plopped in-between her sofas and she said, "actually, I'd love for it to look just like that!" So, I threw out a wackado idea...a red leather top to put on the bottom of her table!  Yup, we literally flipped the coffee table over (the bottom was wider than the top making it more accommodating for multiple feet), placed a piece of plywood with small cushioning and wrapped the leather around it. Next time you're turning things upside down in your house searching for the perfect thing, try turning IT upside down!
**while my client chose leather for this top (we actually had to buy an entire cowhide to cover a 4' diameter table) costing slightly over $800 (still a bargain when many ottomans of this size and weight cost well over $1,000), I had also shown her options of pleather fabrics for far less money (probably in the neighborhood of $100). While hard pressed to tell the difference, she opted for real leather. As a note, durability of pleather today is far better than the past and is actually stronger in applications like this!

Monday, April 16, 2018

RUB A DUB DUB




Who doesn't like a good before and after shot, I say?? As I've got bathrooms on the brain this week (I'm designing my tenth one of the year so far) I thought I'd look back on a few of my favorites from the last year and see if you could spot the trends? Survey says...FREE STANDING TUBS AND MARBLE FOLKS!! One of the bathtubs above cost close to $5,000 while the other was under $500, can you guess which was which?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

MAKE IT SIMPLE


It has been a long, cold winter here in the northeast and one way we've passed the time on weekends is to curl up next to the fire with a nice cocktail! I'm sure I've blogged about this before, but as we start the journey into summer, it's worth repeating. Simple syrup is incredibly easy to make and a necessary ingredient for several drinks. First the recipe, then a few drink tips: Get yourself ready for this tough one...
1.) Same parts sugar and water, bring to boil. GOT THAT? If you're like me and struggle to focus at times, that means for a nice batch of simple syrup take one cup of sugar and add one cup of water. Bring to a boil and the sugar will dissolve. Let cool then place in container (I put in a small bottle I bought at Target for $1. This can be used for a few weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
2.) For a delicious margarita I place two shots of good tequila (like Patron) in a cocktail shaker with ice, add half a shot of simple syrup, half a shot of triple sec and fresh lime/lemon juice combo. Pour into a glass with ice with a salted rim (or not). YUM!
3.) To make a quick and delicious cosmo, I fill a cocktail shaker with ice, two shots of vodka, splash of cranberry juice, fresh lime juice and half a shot of simple syrup. Shake and stream into martini glass, garnish with lime wedge.
4.) We LOVE a whiskey sour in the hot sun, so I make up a batch of freshly squeezed lime juice (are you seeing a theme here...I use a lot of fresh lime juice in many of my drinks), add ice to a cocktail shaker, two shots of whiskey (don't waste the good stuff on a whiskey sour), half a shot of simple syrup and fresh lime juice. Shake like you're washing a dirty shirt in your hands then pour into a glass of ice, garnish with lime.

Monday, March 26, 2018

ONE DESIGNERS OPINION

For whatever reason, I felt the need to raise my hand and point a critical design finger at something that has bothered me for years.  I do not now, nor will I ever understand the point of countertop mounted sinks. When someone asks me about them I simply reply with, "have you ever used one?" In my humble opinion the design of this type of sink makes zero sense. In public applications (like in a restroom), men wearing suites get their sleeves soaking wet when bending around the wash hands. In residential applications, have you ever tried washing your face in one of these? It's like dipping your face into a bucket of water. SO, to wrap this little blurb up..don't top mount! Got it?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

STICK TO IT

Several years ago I shared a few tips about staging items I've used that are simple ways to update a drab, dreary space; temporary wallpaper and sticky tiles, both easy to install and remove and both transformative. At the same time I was also fixing up a vintage travel trailer and used both the sticky tile I found at Lowes and the temp-paper and loved the results from both. A few years later and the options are even better, like this example of a stick-tile I found at Lowes. Would I place this in a kitchen? Probably not. Would I stage a bathroom with it or update a bar area, absolutely! The options on the market today are so good in quality and price they are often hard to differentiate between their real counterparts. So, if preparing a home for the market on a tight budget or updating an area of your house but aren't sure about committing to a certain look yet, try using temporary wallpaper or tiles to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Monday, March 5, 2018

FEELING BLUE

Some days I am surprised by how many people can not visualize change whatsoever. Given my career choice, I should be grateful for the zero-visioners out there, but it's still somewhat shocking to me something as simple as a paint color can send someone into a tail spin. I was recently approached by a client to "fluff" her upper east side Manhattan apartments dining room. The one request (well, two); don't change the curtains or the dining room table AND don't spend a lot of money (okay, guess that was three requests). My easy quick fixes; paint dark, dated cabinets in a matte white, add a new chandelier and the biggest sell of the project...paint the ceiling BLUE. Sometime I hide a few details to surprise clients, this one I shared my idea of painting the ceiling a dark color and you would have thought I told her to spray paint herself pink and parade down the street. Eventually she gave in and trusted me after shouts of IT'S GOING TO MAKE THE SPACE LOOK SMALL, DARK, CLOSED IN...No, no and no. In the end she hugged me, cried a bit and has sent emails almost every night about how much she loves the room. The point; when in doubt, PAINT and when hiring a designer TRUST THEM!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

BAR FLIES

I love collecting anything and everything bar related, especially vintage cocktail shakers, glasses and tools, because no matter what part of a home you're focused on, why should it be boring? I'm currently designing a unique bar for a clients entertaining room, so will report back with photos once I'm finished.  It's not my first, as I've designed a tiny bar out of a flight attendants cart for a Manhattan apartment, I've built a bar out of a Volkswagen bug hood, I've created a feature wall in a bar made of the bottoms of wine bottles...while I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, I hope to make it more interesting each time. One of my go-to places for bar essentials is good ole Amazon, where I find rubber bar mats of various sizes, always a good place to start any bar. Recently, I got frustrated by the grime and grit left behind from soap dispensers next to a kitchen sink, so grabbed one of the rubber bar mats to place underneath. Not only does it create nice non-slippery zone for kitchen sink items, it's easy to clean up!

Monday, February 12, 2018

HAPPY HOURS

It's always five o'clock somewhere, or so they say (by the way, who in the hell are THEY anyway?) so if you're looking to make someone happy this Valentine's day, I've found just the way! As I was click-clacking away on the Internet before the holidays looking for unique gifts to give, I found this cool company, Cocktail Courier www.cocktailcourier.com introduced to the world (or at least MY world) via Williams Sonoma. The idea is simple: send the gift of incredible cocktails created by some of the countries best bartenders to your favorite people. Want to send your best friend in Nashville cosmopolitans for Valentine's Day? How about margaritas to your parents just for fun? Cocktail Courier asks you to choose the cocktail, the amount of drinks (two-minimum) then they do the rest. From fun cocktail napkins to the recipe and all ingredients (including booze), now you can give the gift of happy hour to anyone with just a click!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

MOD-URN


I often chuckle when someone tells me they want a "modern look" because ideas of what, exactly, constitutes modern design is a varied as the people who request it. The literal definition of modern is anything relating to the present, current moment. But what if you're currently sitting in a modern restaurant in the birthplace of mid-century design, Palm Springs, California? On a recent visit to the desert oasis to visit my parents, we popped into one of the latest, most chic modern restaurants in the area. Once again I had to chuckle when I sat down on chairs that looked like something I saw at a garage sale the week before and ate off a table most would plop on the sidewalk with a note that read, "FREE." The difference? I was eating a $25 salad on that table. How did they make it "modern?" A very creative designer found these old pieces and updated them by painting them in high-gloss white. Yup, it's that simple to go from shitty to chic! As we exited the hip establishment after the expensive, unfulfilling meal, I stopped at a collection of urns as they looked vaguely familiar. I picked one up and there it was...a true sign of modern design...AN IKEA STICKER. My point is not a new one, it's plain and simple; to create a cool look, WHATEVER YOU WANT, doesn't have to cost a lot of money. This popular, expensive establishment took furniture from someones grandmothers basement, painted it white and said it was COOL. And guess what? We all bought it!

Monday, January 22, 2018

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

For whatever reason, I'm totally obsessed with these "penny" tiles lately. While I tend to be fairly conservative in my tile choices (I lean toward more evergreen looks, like subway tiles, that won't fade with changing trends) I love these for pops of color and visual interest. My latest project found me placing these on a shower floor (kind of an obvious application, if you ask me) but as a fun weekend project, I bought a square foot piece for $4.99, glued onto a piece of wood and added simple trim to create a trivet for hot pots next to our cooktop! Now there's an inexpensive gift idea!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A WINDOW INTO DESIGN



If I had a dollar for every post I've written about repurposing a piece of furniture I'd be on a beach now sipping something fabulous! While I love so many different aspects of interior design; from designing a house from the ground up to the actual emotional investment of watching someone fall in love with their space, I'd have to say one of my favorite things is to....get ready for it...REPURPOSE a piece for a client. Two weeks before Christmas someone approached me and asked if me and my team could design and build a half bath in her early 1800's home. The challenge: she wanted it finished before Christmas (we had just under two weeks) and for less than $5,000.00. Not to give away the punch line, but we did it with several days and a few dollars to spare. The job started with me roaming through a cool old barn in Connecticut searching for windows, and I grabbed three to use in totally different ways, the first of which I'll share today. Because the bathroom was carved out of a corner in a large room we needed to bring as much light into it as possible, so I thought a transom window would both maintain the integrity of the period AND bring light into the small space. The  cost of the window: $60.00 and was taken out of an old barn. What's not to like about that? How did I repurpose the other two? Check back soon to see!

Monday, December 4, 2017

ON THE HOOK

Clearly I hit a brick wall with my blogging, so I apologize for my absence, but during my hiatus I've been gathering fun tips and ideas to share. Several of the homes I've worked in lately have brick interior walls, which can often be a challenge to design around. In one home in particular, to make brick walls (behind a fireplace and in a dining room) feel more modern and clean, I painted them in high gloss white. In a dining room, with 10' high walls by 20' wide, I was faced with the question of how to hang artwork on the brick without drilling into it. Combing the aisles of our local hardware store, I found "brick clips" (pack of four for $4.99). The clips attach securely to bricks and, if tight enough, can hold heavier items like artwork or other decorative items. With the holidays approaching, clips can also be used for hanging garland or stockings above a fireplace.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

MISSED THE TARGET



After the much anticipated launch of the mid-century inspired line at Target, I decided to give the pieces a little test run.  Quite honestly, at least in my area, it felt like a huge build up to an event where no one showed up. Actually, I'd say it felt more like the election of 2016, but that would sound far too dramatic. Because I love Target for so many things...I loved the Orla Keily line of melamine dishes several years ago, I love the lamps and other textiles, I'm crazy about the seasonal decor, and while the Nate Berkus line (In my opinion) is blah and over-priced, I appreciated the unique designs and total anti-walmart taste level of it all. 62, however, left me feeling like they rushed to put the product out and forgot where to put it. It felt like Santa left the presents under a lamp...in JULY. Like poor Tom never catching Jerry, just coming ohhhh so close; something was off about the whole collection and display. At the end of the day I think they missed the mark just a tad with execution, but the product wasn't half bad: a cool leather-like mid-century chair was well priced at $125, dining room table and chairs with a bench for under $500 total wasn't terrible, but while I hate to cheat on one of my favorite stomps, I'm going to head back to other less expensive retail stores like World Market and Ikea for my mid-century fix until Target gets it together!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

AUTO-MATIC UPDATE

Why is it that every time I turn on my computer or cell phone it asks if I want it to perform a software update? On the rare occasion I click, "perform update now" by the time it's finished updating it's time to do it again! Or maybe I'm just another victim of the culture of today; the, I MUST HAVE IT NOW bunch, whatever "it" is at the moment. Have we really become that impatient? Maybe you're wondering right now, as you sip your whatever, WHAT IS HIS POINT? WHAT ON EARTH DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH DESIGN? Well, calm yourself down. I'm getting to my point. I've had the good fortune in my career to work for a mixed bag of clients; those who just want it done now, no matter the budget vs. those that task me with finding the least expensive light bulb for the cheapest lamp I've ever purchased. There are both good and bad in each side of the design spectrum, and last week I had the pleasure of working with clients who were fairly hands-off. In a relatively new country home they wanted a look that blended old and new yet looked fresh and inviting. The hook: they gave me one week to fill an entire house (which means no ordering furniture with long lead times, no building special pieces, no moving walls, etc.). While the clients are incredibly patient, their time frame is not, so I hit the ground running in every direction. With a bland backdrop of neutral colors in the house, the owners (from Miami) asked that I add pops of "Floridian flare" throughout...flamingos and yellow Cadillacs?? Nope, pops of aqua, orange, and yellows. In the northeast, our outdoor living pieces must endure humidity, passing summer thunderstorms and harsh winters. One thing I love to do is take flea market finds to the local auto body store and have them sprayed with high-gloss auto paint. Not only does the finish look incredible, it will withstand just about anything a tough guest (or storm) has in store! Traditional Adirondack chairs I've sprayed in high gloss navy blue. 1960's outdoor dining sets I've painted bright red. A dear friend of ours turned an otherwise unattractive side piece into a high gloss pink bar in her living room. For a touch of Floridan flare, I took a traditional farmhouse table to the local auto body painter and had them spray it turquoise and paired with more modern metal chairs. If you want a piece to pop and not crack, don't waste your time (and money) on thousands of spray cans, head over to your local auto body shop and let them perform magic. Prices obviously vary, but I've found that smaller town shops tend to be pretty reasonable (dining table was sprayed for $150)!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A PENNY SAVED



I've often said one of the more challenging aspects of what I do (and sometimes most rewarding) is dealing with big ideas on little budgets. While managing budgets of any scale is an important piece to any job, managing expectations is key to keeping a project on track (and clients happy). This month I find myself with a lovely couple renovating their children's bathroom. When I first met them they asked if we could completely transform the space for less than the cost of a prom tuxedo rental. While I love a challenge, this one seemed a bit off...but, sure, why not? Paint is transformative (as I've always said), add a new mirror, lighting, artwork and you can make a huge impact if done properly. They were looking for a little more bang for their few bucks, so this is where my managing of expectations comes into play.  Things like tile and vanities can get out of hand in a bathroom and cause budgets to burst, so I explained that there are incredible choices at places like Home Depot and Lowe's (which usually leads to an eye roll or noise of some kind). So, I brought a few choices from an expensive tile store and one from Lowe's. I can't tell the difference, can you? While they wanted a shower floor with river rock, I explained that that's both overdone and slightly expensive, and these "penny tiles" come in a variety of colors, look beautiful and are incredibly budget friendly. This unique, cool, unexpected look was worth every penny!

Friday, September 1, 2017

ON THE MARK

A few weeks ago I popped into Target to grab a few essentials and before I reached the carts pivoted on my sneakers and headed right back out. The place was as packed as a Taylor Swift concert, jammed full with teenagers wearing inappropriate clothes, screeching like wild animals and oblivious to their surroundings while engaged in intimate affairs with their cellphones. To say I'm happy they're back in school is an understatement of grand proportions! Last evening I roamed the aisles of my favorite store in peace and quiet, grabbing a few things for home while shopping for clients...I've always loved the selection of lamps at Target, kitchen items are also of higher quality at great prices, bedding and bath items often compete with higher end retail stores. I noticed a new section that said "coming soon" and didn't pay any attention until I got home and flipped through my current Architectural Digest and found an advertisement for the new line at Target called "Project 62." Project 62 refers to the boom of mid-century design in 1962 and is the name of the new line Target will introduce online September 16th and in stores September 19th. The tease is already on www.target.com where everything from dining room tables, side chairs, bookshelves and lamps to dishes and sheets will be offered.  I'm always exciting to find cool things for good deals, so look forward to the launch of this line. In the meantime, I'm off to a junk store to see if I can find something to repurpose. STAY TUNED!

Monday, August 14, 2017

MY TWO CENTS

I'm in the middle of a (somewhat) tedious renovation project with a client and had to share a story from our adventures today. Our mission this morning was to set out and focus on items for three bathrooms. Because I know this lovely lady is about as distracted as a politician in a strip club, I decided we would only focus on SINKS. My feelings on sinks: they're SINKS for Christ sake, choose it and move on! A kitchen sink is one thing, but fussing over a bathroom sink, at least in this designers humble opinion, is a foolish waste on many levels. Have you ever walked into an overdone bathroom and thought, why'd they waste their money on this? Yeah, so have I! My client today was absolutely determined to find the vessel sink of her dreams for her master bath. As hard as I tried, I couldn't convince her to stray away. My issue with vessel (or counter-mounted) sinks is in the functionality; they are next to impossible to use. As luck would have it we popped into a restaurant in the middle of our search and they had vessel sinks in the restrooms...plopped ontop of be-glittered, be-dazzled countertops in an already overdone bathroom. So, I asked her to go in and attempt to USE it. Try washing your face, picture brushing your teeth (sans the smell of public restroom loveliness). In short, they're hard to maneuver around! After test-driving the sinks in the restaurant we headed out in search of the perfect oval undermount sink for her master bath!
TIP: WHEN IN DOUBT TRY IT OUT.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

RESTORING MY FAITH IN HUMANITY

While living in Los Angeles I did one of the coolest things I've ever done on a Saturday...I helped build a house in South Central LA with a group of friends for Habitat for Humanity. I spent the better part of the day on a hot roof installing tiles (sure, I did it wrong for a few hours until a supervisor corrected me, but I learned a lot). At the end of our hard work day the family that would occupy the home dropped by to check out our progress and to thank us. I can honestly say it was one of the more humbling experiences I've ever had and gave me a new appreciation for how we see (and define) home.  More recently, a friend of mine who antiques, owns an estate sale business and, well, just loves a bargain, introduced me to ReStore, a chain of retail stores run by Habitat for Humanity. To my shock and surprise there were incredible items...from plumbing bits and pieces removed from homes to dining sets, lamps, plates, beds and bookshelves...all at incredible prices. Inventory rotates and refreshes constantly and proceeds benefit the incredible work of Habitat for Humanity. Google "ReStore Habitat for Humanity" and find your local store.  Have a cabin to fill, a room to re-design or a college dorm to make cozy? Pop into a ReStore and find something good while doing a little good!

Monday, June 26, 2017

YOU SAY TOMATO, I SAY YUM!



Remember the time we had a President who challenged a kindergarten student about the correct spelling of tomato? And we thought that was pathetic! I digress...one of my favorite things to do in the summer months is to grill outdoors, and at least in the northeast, we grab onto every second of nice weather while it lasts, as winter is right around the corner! I also adore fresh vegetables, often hard to come by in winter months in our hood, so to combine fresh air, fresh veggies and grilling...what's better than that? Here are two ways I love to serve tomatoes, either to a group or just the two of us:
1.) We grill cherry tomatoes by preparing them indoors in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Let them sit in the mixture before placing directly on grill, then continue rotating until nicely browned. Place back in bowl with olive oil mixture.
2.) This seems incredibly simple (and it is) and is wonderful as either a salad or appetizer. We find incredible tomatoes at either our local farmers market or grocery store, slice it up and lightly dress with olive oil, salt and pepper. The juicier the better!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

THE COMMON GOOD

Clearly I've been a bit lazy in the posting department, my apologies. Work has been nuts as the summer heats up and clients want to attack projects, and when the weekend rolls around we've been inundated with house guests. Don't get me wrong, I love entertaining, but it leaves very little time for posting witty, innovative TIPS. Several guests made comments about how I actually DO practice what I preach at home (yes, I do use my tips whenever I can). Last weekend one of our guests, and dear friends, introduced me to my new favorite gift website, www.uncommongoods.com. I LOVE maps and have several framed in our home, including a vintage school map on a spool hanging in our hallway. At uncommon goods you can personalize many gift items..from serving trays and throw pillows, to cocktail napkins and coasters. Our guest gave us coasters with our neighborhood on it and was able to personalize with our address and name of our home (a * indicates exactly where our home is on the vintage-feel map). Ms. Manners once said it is incredibly rude to search for the price of a gift, but because I plan on using this one for host/hostess gifts, I had to do my research. Custom maps with your neighborhood and town take a few weeks to fulfill and cost around $65 for trays, plates, coasters, etc. Next time you're staying with friends, leave a lasting impression with a cool gift!

Monday, May 1, 2017

RAISE THE ROOF




Contrary to popular belief, interior design isn't always about fluffing a pillow or buying overpriced wallpaper, sometimes it's about taking an ugly space and making it, well, less-ugly! Another contradiction of sorts; I actually prefer working with people who have budget challenges, because it forces me to be more creative and think way outside the usual idea box. Take the top photo, for example, is a challenge I faced a few weeks ago; how to make this basement bathroom less hideous with a tiny budget. THE FACTS: House was empty for several years so rodents had moved in (GREAT), bathroom in basement smelled like mildew, toilet leaked, vanity was dated, floors were carpeted, fan didn't work, ceiling was a musty drop-ceiling typically seen in basements. SO, how did we fix this?
VANITY: $169.00 at Lowe's
TOILET: $110 at the Home Depot
NEW FAN from the Home Depot: $29.99 plus installation
TILE FLOORS: $65.00 plus installation
PAINT: $25.00
NEW MIRROR: 19.99 (from Ikea, painted with high gloss paint, slightly darker than wall)
REPLACE CEILING PANELS WITH WOOD: $36.50
Because functionality often trumps beauty, we needed to keep the drop ceiling for a few reasons; A.) it concealed pipes from bathrooms above and B.) Sheetrocking would be cost prohibitive, SO, I decided to take this one into my own hands and ran to the Home Depot where I found 3/8" thick lightweight wood. I removed each panel, traced them and cut accordingly. I've not decided what color to paint the metal railing at this point nor what stain to use on wood (it's a bathroom, so stain, even clear, is essential to keep wood looking good). For now, however, an hour later and less than $40 invested, I think the results are great.
UPDATE: Upon closer examination, some of the wood pieces bow up and appear to not fit properly, a quick pop down to the hardware store for drop ceiling clips solved that. The key pieces here are the lightweight wood (so the frame will hold) and remembering to stain the pieces for moisture protection.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A FEW TIPS


This morning, as I sipped my cup of morning Joe and attempted to catch up on the days headlines on my iPhone, a message popped up, "not enough storage to view." I turned on my iPad where I saw the same message. My new iPad, charging, screamed, "downloading latest updates. 1 hour 20 minutes remaining." My iMac was also busy charging. And my incredibly sleek, totally cool desktop decided to take the day off.  Only a few sips into my morning, I wondered how it was possible to have a technological world so incredibly advanced yet completely unreliable? So, in a world filled with complicated checks and balances, I decided to revert back to a few of my incredibly simple tips today. I also happened to have a few minutes to kill this while waiting for my devices to wake up!
RUB-A-DUB-DUB:
We tend to shop at big stores like Cost Co and Sams club for home goods, so with that comes enormous, ugly packaging. Because I don't want a bottle of dish soap the size of bag of flour on our countertop, I use various smaller bottles to use in plain view. Several years ago I purchased beakers in various sizes to use as vases, water jugs for dinner parties and mixers for cocktails (often fun, for example, to have fresh lemon juice, freshly squeezed orange juice and other mixers out for guests during cocktail parties). For dish soap, I grabbed a smaller beaker and added a cocktail pour-spout to the top for a fun, simple holder of dish soap.
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE:
I love to save interesting bottles for various future uses. In the past I've placed cool bottles on tree limbs so things like apples or pears could grow into them (then add vodka and let sit for a month for flavored vodka), I use them for water during dinner parties, vases, or water for guests on bedside stands. After cleaning them it's often difficult to get them to DRY. My quick tip to do that...roll up a paper towel in a funnel-shape and stick in the bottle. 24 hours later the towel will absorb the water and you'll be ready to go!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

THE BEAUTY IN UGLY

Please remember before emailing me about the poor quality of this photo, I'm NOT A PROFESSIONAL photographer! Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about a few secrets in house painting. Some people think I'm crazy, but I actually enjoy painting, and added bonus, save a lot of money by doing it myself. Last summer I painted the outside of our mostly-brick house (I used a special paint specifically for masonry, stucco and brick) and after my long-winters-rest I've started the process of painting the interior.  For this project absolutely every room, every surface (ceilings, walls and trim) need patching, priming and painting. In short, it's going to be a long road to the finish line, but the final results will be well worth it and save us around $10,000.00 by doing it ourselves. Grey tones have taken over the tans of the last several years, and Benjamin Moore has an impressive line of grey, from warmer (more traditional) to more modern darker greys. While most of my clients insist on using Benjamin Moore, I've never understood why; I don't think the product is any better than Valspar at Lowe's or Behr at the Home Depot and the average cost of a gallon of Benjamin Moore paint is $65 compared to $20 of the previous mentioned brands. For the amount of space I need to cover in our home I'd bust our budget if I used Benjamin Moore, so off to the Home Depot I went where their new services include matching ANY other brands color! I simply told them I wanted Benjamin Moore's "Light Pewter" and they matched the exact same color in Behr for $25/gallon. On some of our better looking trim surfaces I use high gloss (Benjamin Moore's high gloss finish is $85/gallon compared to Behr's $35/gallon). Because many of our windows are unremarkable (typical 1960's boring ranch trim) we didn't want to draw attention to them so we decided to paint the trim in the same color and same finish as the walls, essentially helping them disappear (note photo above...right side of trim shows painted version). While some people love putting lipstick on a pig, we'd rather let ours go au naturale.
BEFORE YOU ROLL, DON'T FORGET THESE TIPS:
1) If you like more expensive paints like Benjamin Moore or Farrow & Ball but would rather not spend the money, take the color and code to your local Home Depot and have them match it for you for more than half the savings. In addition to color and brand matching, Home Depot will also take any object you have and match the color. When we lived in California I wanted to paint our kitchen the color of one of my favorite yellow ware pottery bowls, so took it to the local hardware store where they did the same for me. Now the Home Depot will do it too!
2) If you have beautiful trim, show it off by painting it in high gloss. To really make it pop, paint it white.
3) High Gloss is different from Semi-Gloss and, while it gives a beautiful finish, surfaces MUST be prepped and primed as every imperfection will only be highlighted by the incredibly shiny finish.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

FROM BLUES TO BETTER HUES




I'm probably the only sicko who remembers a repulsive reality show from 2004 called "The Swan." In this repugnant excuse for entertainment (yes, I was addicted to it at the time) participants, all women, who were down on their luck underwent physical, mental and emotional "transformations." The overweight nerd whose husband cheated on her with her mother gets a nose job and new shoes. Ms. Sad Pants with one short leg gets an extension, new cheek implants and a tacky dress from Nine West. The skinny teenager gets new tits and a pair of sunglasses. Every episode, no matter what the story, the answer was PLASTIC SURGERY WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY. What a message to send, huh? It's no wonder the show only lasted one season. What in the heck is my point, you're wondering? Well, just because you're ugly doesn't mean a nose job will make you pretty and happy. Wait, nope, that's not my point. Drastic measures, like plastic surgery or expensive remodels, are not necessarily the answer to creating a happy space (and/or life). The photos above are one of the four bathrooms we recently renovated in my friends house (please note light green carpet in first photo...if it looks like pee, it smells like....). While she wanted to bust her budget on tile and vanities, this one bathroom cost less than $5,000 from tile to toilet paper. The big reveal proved to bring a big smile to her face!
WHAT'S OUT: We took one look at this old broad and new she needed a makeover from tits to toes, so we ripped out the carpet (yup, that's right), the hideous tile underneath, tossed the vanity, toilet and jacuzzi tub and installed a new subfloor and durock for tile (previous owner removed tub and shower to install jacuzzi and added shelf unit for towels. To create a space for the tile-enclosed new bathtub and shower AND to give more space to the master on the other side, we bumped into the bathroom two feet to achieve that.
WHAT'S IN: Lowe's actually has some incredibly good looking vanities and bath products, so we spread our wings and headed over to find a deep grey vanity with marble top, Kohler cast iron bathtub and splurged on a Todo toilet. For a unique twist, I suggested wall tiles for the floor that looked like brick pavers. Total spent with plumbing and electric work: $3,650.00

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

OH BUCKET!


Our President and his team seem to love using the word "robust" as much as I adore "repurpose," so guess what I'm doing today? Yup, you guessed it, I'm REPURPOSING. Because we've repealed and replaced our old coffee tables, I started a campaign to find better solutions. I love unique people and I love unique pieces, so it's only fitting that my friend Mackenzie (a pro at finding totally cool things) tracked down an awesome vintage storage bucket for me to use as a cocktail table. Last year I found a cool one in a consignment store in upstate New York for $10, so when I wanted more I reached out to Mackenzie, who tracked this one-of-a-kind bucket down in Connecticut. The house majority leader (Joe) loves it, so that's all that matters. While I won't try to swing your vote about blah coffee tables, I will attempt to sway you into thinking outside the boring design box and into something new, creative and unique!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

THE BEAUTY IN UGLY


If I can offer any advice to someone attacking a home renovation project of any size it is to PREPARE and BE CALM! Renovations are dirty, they're loud, they cost a lot of money and just like a relationship, sometimes you want to drop it and run away in the middle...but DON'T!  We are day one into a four-bath remodel and my friend is about to lose her marbles. Because she is living in the house during renovations, I told her to do three baths completely in phase 1 (leaving the fourth to use during construction), then loop back around and finish the fourth last. Impatient Patty we will call her, went behind my back and told the plumber to gut everything at once. Hummm. Not a great idea unless she has a composting toilet or lovely hotel nearby. So, here we are. The top photo is her tiny master bath which shares a wall with the main floor bath. Like an old Hollywood dame, this house has evidence of a few nips and tucks, one of which was the hall bath where the previous owner removed a tub/shower combo and replaced it with an enormous jacuzzi bathtub. At first glance I noticed an opportunity to push into the guest bath a few feet to allow the master to breath a bit, while not jeopardizing space in either one. My lovely friend couldn't picture my vision until the walls were gone, so now she's getting excited..as she taps her heel and demands the men work faster and harder. While I make her a cocktail to calm her nerves, if you're planning a project at home, log onto the APP store on your iPad or computer and download HOME DESIGN 3D. Well worth the $10!