Wednesday, April 12, 2017
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
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
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
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Thursday, March 9, 2017
After a long winters nap I think it's time to check back in with my friend in Connecticut and her ongoing renovation project (s). If you will recall, she opted to buy the cheapest house in the nicest neighborhood and do as much as she could with a sad ranch to make it more modern, roomy and fun. Last time I was with her, holding a hammer in one hand and cocktail in the other, we had accomplished many things (with the help of my great contractor); we removed several walls on the main floor to create an open concept living/kitchen area with brand new appliances, an enormous island housing a gas stovetop and double ovens, relocated the front door to create an extra bedroom, turned a porch into a dramatic dining room, removed hideous carpet to reveal (and redo) lovely wood floors, gutted the lower level and added windows, new floors, sheetrock, lighting and new fireplace, updated the electrical system, added air conditioning and painted the exterior. I'm exhausted! Now it's time to attack the refreshing of four bathrooms, each of which is more hideous than the other. The day I walked through this house with her last March I mentioned that EVERY SINGLE SPACE AND SURFACE needed attention, and I wasn't being dramatic. The bathrooms all have carpet over dated tile. The vanities all look like something you'd find in a crack den. The showers and tubs...same goes for them, and the toilets all look like they've had more action than most politicians in D.C. Need I say more? Because this isn't her "forever home" I suggested she NOT go nuts with the bathroom designs, yet make them look unique, comfortable and fresh. So, let's start at the beginning with a PLAN. What does she like? Well, she mentioned seamless glass doors for starters and I quickly whipped out my needle to burst her bubble. She referenced a bathroom I did a few months ago (photo above) in a basement. The seamless glass door cost $1,700! I told her I could furnish one entire bath on that budget. How? Well, let's start with the doors and a new find at the Home Depot. Delta just introduced seamless doors that are as easy as 1, 2, 3! Step 1) Choose door style and finish, Frame style and finish. Step 2) Choose glass type and Step 3) Choose knobs/handles and finish. The cost? $350!! Unlike the doors above that take up to seven weeks for install, you walk out of the Home Depot with these and pop them in the back of your wagon and off you go...with a few extra pennies for a Starbucks coffee!
Thursday, March 2, 2017
WRAP IT IN PLASTIC: For bigger projects at home, The Home Depot and Lowe's sell plastic walls that have zippers for easy access (don't let those dirty minds wander). For smaller tasks like mine I still prefer building room around my work rather than simply covering furniture. I get painters tape, plastic drop cloths and tape away. Spending a few extra minutes prepping saves a lot in booze...and frustration!
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
WHAT NEXT, YOU ASK? I know I've just shot down two major components to a kitchen today, so if I don't like granite or stainless steel, what do I think is the next hottest thing? I'm a big fan of Quartz these days as it comes in many colors and tones, is fairly budget-friendly and (for the most part) can take a beating. I also love stainless steel COUNTERTOPS (polar opposite of appliances, as I love the beat-up, used look of stainless countertops) and poured concrete is another favorite. As for appliances, I'm finding more and more clients wanting them hidden behind panels that match their cabinets. My problem with this option is A) they tend to be far more expensive if they're "panel-ready" and B) believe it or not, they can be a tad confusing. I recently spent a chunk of time in a beautiful kitchen with hidden-panel appliances and kept opening the pantry assuming it was the refrigerator, sliding open the drawer microwave thinking it was a drawer, etc. That gets old fast. Speaking of getting old, I'm not getting any younger so need to get back to my stainless steel cleaning before I replace them entirely!
Friday, February 10, 2017
Friday, February 3, 2017
Friday, January 27, 2017
After removing siding and ugly carpet, we installed a vapor barrier on the exposed concrete floor with a thin layer of insulation and plywood (to protect from mildew, changes in temperature and humidity, etc.). We insulated the ceiling and added sheetrock, installed two windows on the new exterior wall and repurposed the original porch door. We added shiplap pine to the back wall to tie in with other areas in the house where we added the same accent and installed unfinished hardwood floors from the Home Depot. We added new lights and outlets to code and brought the heat into the room with new radiators. The goal handed to me was to create a dining room where she could place a massive table able to accommodate at least twelve, and we achieved that!
Monday, January 23, 2017
FEW TIPS OF THE TRADE: the simple canisters are from Target, white plates from the Williams Sonoma outlet and oversized lights are from Ikea. The bronze faucet was purchased at Lowe's for $110!
Monday, January 16, 2017
I've purchased a similar set of curtains from Pottery Barn for $180/set and one at Ikea for $29.99/set. While the selection at Ikea is fairly limited to color and length, the quality is actually quite nice. If you're staging a house or just trying to cover a window with something simple, Ikea is the way to go! Silk curtains I purchased at Pottery Barn for $400 were misshapen, and after returning them twice and getting the same result each time, I gave up and headed for Ikea. TIP: The inexpensive curtains at Ikea also make great slip covers for chairs, small sofas and ottomans. I've often sprung for the slightly more expensive velvet curtains ($39-49/pair) and covered club chairs and ottomans!
DINING ROOM CHAIRS/BARSTOOLS:
My friend who did the total house renovation wanted new dining room chairs for her new dining room (I'll show you in a later blog). She wanted simple metal chairs that are popping up everywhere, from Design Within Reach ($350/each) to Crate & Barrel ($100/each), I found the exact look at www.overstock.com for $100 for TWO. They look and feel exactly like the expensive ones, took a beating over the holidays and still look incredible!
This is always a tough one for me, especially when shopping with picky clients. With sofas, chairs and beds especially, I always insist a client try in person. Buying online can be tricky (I've ordered sofas site unseen on overstock and the quality is CRAPOLA). Ikea's prices are creeping up, but the Ektorp simple sofa for $399 is a solid piece if you're staging, decorating a weekend home or furnishing your place for the first time. For the long haul I'd upgrade to Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel (sofas are over $1,000.00 but last). Ethan Allen has also surprised me lately with fresh, new products and great prices (quick ship sofas are around $900 and have several fabrics to choose from). In a pinch I ordered a sofa from Bobs Discount Furniture (believe the company is only on the east coast), and while the service was impeccable upon delivery, the product was pretty cheap looking and in feel. Eight years ago I ordered to faux-leather chairs from overstock for $150 and have staged them in several homes, and upon retiring them moved them into mine. Only recently did I notice the tearing and chipping of the fake leather (photographed). For the price, however, and incredible use and abuse these have received, I'm pretty impressed!
When designing homes of any size on any budget, I love to mix and match. I pop into local antiques stores and zip into a Target whenever I see one. When I need inexpensive mirrors and accessories that like lamps and vases, Home Goods is my go-to!
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
1.) If I'm hanging a group, I'll often use grocery bags or newspapers to create cutouts of each print then hang them on the wall and tweak as necessary. On each cutout I'll indicate where the hanger or picture wire falls so I know exactly where to place the nail.
2.) Sometimes, like in a hallway, I'll want a perfectly straight line of prints, so to achieve this I place the prints on the floor to get an idea of spacing then measure end to end. I measure the wall space, placing a nail on each end to indicate the first and last prints in the collection and link them all together with painters tape or a string so I can easily hang all in a line.
3.) Before painting a room, I will play with placement of artwork, hanging over and over until I get the look I want (nail holes don't matter because I'm repainting the wall). Once I settle on a design I patch the unwanted holes and leave the ones I like, snap a photo of the finished look, paint the room then replace the nails in the open holes.
By the way, speaking of mapping out a look, I LOVE maps (and incorporating them into my designs) and recently discovered the US Geological Survey website, www.store.usgs.gov where county and state maps are available for as little as $5! I bought the top 24" x 36" copy of a geological survey of our county for $8 and will place it in a frame I bought at Ikea for $29! Less than $50 for a conversation piece on any wall!
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Friday, December 9, 2016
Friday, December 2, 2016
Materials: (new sheetrock for behind bookshelves, molding around mirror, drawer pulls, paint, grout for tile we found in garage: $495)
Bathtub by Brisso: $2,250
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
1.) Plumbers pipes come in black, copper and this more rustic silver.
2.) Because we were trying to cover a window of slightly wider than 14', we needed a middle brace.
3.) This system included brackets attached to the wall at each end and one in the middle (these MUST go into studs or use anchors because pipes are quite heavy). Two corner bends for each end with threaded connectors and a "T" in the middle with a threaded connector (which links it to the wall mount)
4.) If you have NO CLUE what I'm talking about above, ask the guys in Lowe's or Home Depot and tell them exactly what you're doing. It's far easier than you'd think and MUCH cheaper than curtains!
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Here's how we did it:
1.) We bought cherry tomatoes (duh...)
2.) Turn on grill and place directly on, watching carefully. As the tomatoes being to look grilled (I know this sounds like an idiot typing, but once grill marks appear YOU ARE DONE)
3.) Place tomatoes in bowl and add salt, pepper and balsamic vinaigrette.
Friday, September 30, 2016
1.) In renovating a friends house in Connecticut, we researched the best deals for appliances for her new kitchen and landed on a packaged deal from Lowes. After waiting six weeks for them to arrive, one of two double ovens were broken, so we had to wait another month. The other problem? While saving a few hundred dollars, Lowe's did NOT mentioned that the "package deal" included different brands, so the refrigerator is Frigidaire, the dishwasher Kitchenaide, ovens GE. If you don't care, no problem, but just a word to the wise.
2.) I found an incredible deal at Lowes on a stainless steel sink and faucet combination for $215. They look incredible together and a similar combination from a kitchen store could run as high as $1,000.00 or more. The problem: the grading of the sink here is a bit off, so water sits on the outer edges of the interior of the sink and have to be guided into the drain. If you don't mind the extra work, I'd say go for it.
3.) The burlap project above...wrapping ugly metal support beams in a basement...certainly looks good in the end but was a little more work than I thought. A roll of burlap rope from Home Depot cost $8.75 and this 8' pole took about four rolls. I attached with liquid nails after my hot glue gun bailed after the first time. Lesson here: give yourself a few hours and use liquid nails. Hot glue guns SUCK!
4.) For another client and a different kitchen renovation, we ordered a higher end dishwasher from Kitchenaide with noise-dampening technology..this proved to be a MUCH NICER feature than I'd imagined (it's basically wrapped in insulation) especially in an open concept home as after dinner conversations won't be interrupted by the noisy dishwasher. PROBLEM: new dishwasher don't hold bigger dishes because of the interior mechanisms so MEASURE when you are in the store to make sure your dishes fit. Thankfully the upper deck was designed to carry dishes, so my client found a solution without returning the unit she waited four months for!
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
IN THE END...
I understood what my client was going for..she wanted simple, bright and clean. The reality of her space, however, high atop a mountain in the woods of the Hudson Valley of New York, darker afternoons made the pure white look drab and dirty. Adding a splash of ANY color created vibrancy. I often suggest, especially in an area like the northeast where weather (and light) changes constantly, add those fun splashes of color in accessories, artwork, carpets, etc.
***If you've ever painted red or tried to PAINT OVER red you know it takes about ten coats to get results, and white is the same way. If you live white, PREP the space by sanding, cleaning and patching any holes or everything will show up like a zit on your cheek on prom night!
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
1.) I wouldn't use this on a bigger scale as they've already scratched a bit when dragging a drawer unit with spices across it gently. If, however, this appeals to you more than porcelain or other solid surfaces, consider a higher quality vinyl (still major cost savings to solids)
2.) They are easy to break, so cut with care and grab a few more just in case.
3.) Because we won't be getting to renovating our guest bathroom until next year, I might consider these if we have guests over the holiday just to get a cleaner look on the floors without moving the toilet, vanity, etc. as we would if installing real tile.
4.) FOR THE MONEY AND QUICK CHANGE, you can't beat it.
With a list of projects longer than Santa's list of bad children, I knew the pantry would fall close to last (pantry was once a closet in our living room used as coat closet then bar and is now part of our newly renovated kitchen). Because I wanted it up and running for the busy cooking of the holidays, I decided to make do with what we have (the bigger plan is simply to add a few more shelves and stepped shelving units for spices, etc.). In the meantime, my floor project turned into priming and painting the whole closet, so instead of ONE hour it took me FOUR.