My new favorite kitchen

Ok – so I am doing a terrible job at blogging. I went to a talk at ADAC yesterday and saw one of my favorite bloggers, Sherry Hart, speak. Girlfriend has been blogging for 7 years consistently. And she’s busy with design work. I’m still figuring out how to keep up with design work and get all of the laundry washed, folded and put away!

On the work front, I’m in the homestretch to finish one of my favorite kitchens. I love the x’s on the side of the island – aren’t they cute? I can’t wait to see this one finished!



The lanterns are so awesome – I’m so glad my clients went with them. They are from Shades of Light.


Rustic Galvanized Lantern galvanized_tin


I also love the custom vent hood. It’s hard to see, but it has shiplap on it. It’s so cute!!!! This makes me want to totally redo my kitchen! I guess it’s a job hazard!!!



New carriage lights!

Well, it’s been a minute since I’ve written anything, hasn’t it?  I made a HUGE life change in May. I left my job doing design work at the remodeling company because I got about two seconds of vacation time and it was becoming very stressful having three children at home and no time off. I made the leap to being in business for myself, with the blessing of my thankfully very supportive husband.

I completed my first kitchen on my own in June. It turned out really pretty. We used Thomas O’Brien Katie pendants. LOVE them!!!!


I’ve since finished another kitchen that has pretty open shelving and a bit of a midcentury vibe. My husband will hopefully  photograph it this weekend. I’m also about to finish a kitchen that has an awesome rustic beam and I am also about to finish a zen bathroom.

In October, I was hired to decorate three rooms in a house. The homeowners were thinking about moving and their real estate agent told them to get rid of all their furniture so the house would sell faster!!!! Wha’????? Well, they decided they want to stay, so I helped them furnish their den, the keeping room in the kitchen and their dining room. And…the homeowner wanted everything before Christmas! To say it was a whirlwind is an understatement.

I specified two custom sofas, two custom club chairs, custom pillows in four fabrics, custom sisal and seagrass rugs, custom bamboo blinds and curtains, two end tables, a coffee table, a console, two wicker chairs, another coffee table, three upholstered stools, three barstools, a dining room table and dining chairs. Whew! It was a lot of work and hectic, but my client was so sweet and awesome. I hired an assistant who helped me style everything on the install day and it was so sweet when my client texted me later that day when she saw everything – she was so happy! She gave a me thank you gift of a bottle of Verve Cliquot – yum! We enjoyed toasting with it on Christmas day!

I also worked on two spec homes and three custom homes for builders. I love doing the spec homes – they give me a budget and I go to town selecting all of the hard finishes. Lighting is the hardest part to choose. For a five bedroom home, the budget is $4,000 – $4,500, which sounds like a lot, but once you choose all of the the utility lights, under cabinet lights and the door bell, I have to find chandeliers that are in the $300-$400 range. It takes a lot of time to find pretty lighting that doesn’t cost much!

And on a personal front, I finally!!! found my carriage lights (after a year of having no lights on the front of my house!).

I ended up going with carriage lights that are handmade in North Georgia. They are so pretty. This is the first one we considered. It looked too small.


We ended going with these, which I love!


They are 24″ tall, which I think is a much better scale for the front of the house. Don’t look at the sad, sad urns that are naked. I just got rid of the evergreen boughs that were in there. I need to find something that can work in the deep shade of the porch. Maybe some camellias?



Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Decorators’ Show House

This past spring, my mom and I visited the Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Southeastern Showhouse. The show house is held every year – it used to be The Atlanta Symphony Show House, but now it is run by Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Magazine. (This year was the first year it was held by AH&L.) The show home is always in Atlanta’s toniest residential area, Buckhead. This year was special – two of my favorite designers had rooms – Suzanne Kasler and Phoebe Howard!!!


This is the front hall. If you look past the hall table, you see a couple of ladies admiring the chandelier in the dining room designed by Suzanne Kasler.



Here is the study/library which is on the other side of the front hall (on the front of the house).








And here is the dining room by Suzanne Kasler. It is so elegant and refined. The chandelier is so gorgeous! I love how her style is luxurious and elegant, but not stuffy – I like how she has a little edge added in with the accessories.




Check out the lacquered ceiling – isn’t it gorgeous!!!! A better picture of the chandelier-



I love the clean lines of the fireplace. Notice the herringbone pattern in the fire box – so pretty!




I like the funkiness of this lamp – just the right amount of glam.







If you like Suzanne Kasler, but, like me, can’t afford her services, more accessible items designed by Kasler are available at Ballard Designs.


Here are more pictures from the show house. So much gorgeousness! Enjoy!


This is the living room, which is off of the kitchen. If you are facing the fireplace, the kitchen is directly behind you and the backyard is to your left.



This wall of windows in the living room is on the back of the house – the fireplace is to the right. You can just see the pool over to the left through the windows.




Look how tall the windows are! This room gets incredible light!




You can see the kitchen to the right as you walk in from the living room. Love that painting! Isn’t the lantern in the kitchen yummy!




A built in coffee station in the kitchen-




The kitchen cabinets are a warm gray. The counters are some sort of quartzite – I don’t remember the name. Love the proportions of the backsplash tile.




That hood! It is really the star of the kitchen!




Here is the island sink – the faucet is so pretty and feminine.




A mirrored cabinet in the kitchen. I love the “x”s!




And this – taxidermy has been popular at the show homes!



Here is one of my favorite rooms (other than the ones by Kasler and Howard). I love the green of the plates and pillows – it just feels so fresh!




Aren’t those pendants awesome!!!!






Someone give that poor cat a sandwich!




Here is the butler’s. Love the “x”s on the glass doors.




A powder room. Love the gorgeous wallpaper and the backsplash shape.




And the fabulous master bedroom by Phoebe Howard!  Love this screen on the wall – it feels like a piece of art. Love the black against the neutral walls and sofa.




The pretty fireplace. Love the brick in the firebox.




A desk in front of a window facing the rear of the house.






This aqua is so soft and pretty. My iPhone photos don’t do this room justice!




Phoebe Howard is very inspirational to me – she is a “decorator” rather than a designer, if you are following the strict definition of the terms. She talks about this in her book, “The Joy of Decorating.” She did not go to school for design, but rather learned on the job working on projects with her architect husband, and at her store, Mrs. Howard.

I think design is a career that if you have a good eye and style, you can educate yourself about design (learning on the job is the fastest way!) and running a business. There are many top tier designers who are technically decorators because they don’t have a degree. Just to name a few are Kelly Wearstler, Vincente Wolf, Darryl Carter and Charlotte Moss. They all have fabulous taste and have figured out how to parlay that into a busy career.




I’ve learned so much from doing the design work in my job, and spending lots of time looking at the work of designers I admire. And going to lots of show houses!!!!!




Here is the master bath. Wall to wall and floor to ceiling marble! Luxurious!










Here is the lady’s dressing room. The window is on the front of the house.




A secondary bathroom – love the stone on the vanity.




A sweet lamp in the “mudroom.” This is more stylish than any mudroom in my house! Mine would be full of muddy sneakers and backpacks!




More mudroom.




Ceiling in the mudroom – gorg!




Outside on the terrace level.




A secondary bedroom.




Love this tile. It looks handmade – lovely. The color is still neutral, and is an nice break from white subway tile.






A sitting room with snack station.




A secondary bedroom designed by Parker Kennedy Living. I saw them speak about color at ADAC not that long ago. Love the exuberance of their designs (and the chinoiserie, of course)!













Here is an upstairs game room.




My favorite – blue and white! This is an outdoor vignette right off the dining room. So cute!






The beaded chandelier over the little sofa:




And… the pool. Aren’t those umbrellas the best? Perfect!



Here is a console in the pool house. This window overlooks the pool.




The pool house kitchen. Do you think anyone but caterers work in this kitchen?




This was a lovely house – really the vast majority of the rooms were home runs for me. There was a quiet elegance that ran through the whole house. I love going to show homes because they are inspirational, and also, experiencing a designer’s work in real life is so different than seeing it in a magazine or on the computer.

Do you think I can write off the tickets as an education expense?  😉…

Have you ever been at a point in your life when you know things aren’t working, and changing them is scary, but you know you have to do it anyway? Well, I’ve been living it for the past few months.

I’ve not been able to write since May because I’ve had some big changes in my life that haven’t left me any room for extras. After staying at home and working for my husband’s business for thirteen years, my most recent job has been working full time for a remodeling company doing design work. I jumped right in to 40 hours a week at an office after many years of having schedule and work location freedom. Jumped right into the deep end without a life vest!

Thing is, I really loved my job. Working with my clients was the best – I designed their spaces and I helped them select finishes such as tile, counters and paint. My greatest pride was when the job was done and they were so happy! I love it when clients are thrilled at how their home turns out – it really is the best!

I have to say, I learned tons on the job – I feel like I got all of the learning of a degree while getting paid! I feel very blessed that I was given the chance to design for the remodeling company. Working in my design job showed me my path in life, and for that, I am so grateful. I loved my job, the design work and working with clients – but the hours, not being able to work from home, and the lack of time off just became too much (I only had one week off a year, which is really challenging with three children). After many discussions with my husband, tons of research, writing  and re-writing pro and con lists, I decided I wanted to continue what I’ve been doing, but with a more flexible situation, so I decided to freelance.

It was a huge scary leap, and thankfully, with my husband’s support, I went out on my own in mid-May! We had been talking about me freelancing for awhile trying to figure out what I should do. Having the extra income has been very nice, and I didn’t want to let that go!

Luckily, a neighbor who needed help with her kitchen renovation found me through the grapevine. She was pregnant at the time, and wanted to get her kitchen done before the baby came – I know that sounds like extreme nesting, but it is not all uncommon to take on a major reno right before a baby comes!

This kitchen was so fun to work on. My client wanted a black and white kitchen with a blue island. I keep hearing that blue is the new black, and I just love it – it feels so fresh. The kitchen started as an ok 80s reno in a 1960ish ranch. My clients are very lucky that their kitchen is pretty large for the neighborhood – most kitchens around here are not eat-in. Theirs is big enough for a kitchen table and an island!

Here’s how it turned out:



Don’t you love the vent hood my awesome cabinetmaker made? And check out the knobs and pulls – y’all those came from Home Depot! Don’t they look sweet!

What I love the most in this kitchen are the Thomas O’Brien Katie pendants in polished nickel. I want them in my house so badly!!!! We mixed the brushed nickel of the knobs and pulls with the polished nickel of the pendants – so cute!!! Right after the electrician installed the pendants, my client’s husband called me and said, “The pendants look weird.” I though, oh no, what can be wrong. When I went over, I saw that they had installed filament bulbs, which normally look cute, but in these fixtures, the filaments reflected off of the inside of the glass globes – and it did  look weird!!! They changed to a normal bulb, and it looks just fine. Phew!

Most of the blue and white is mine – the little plates and wine glasses are my client’s. Photography is by my lovely husband! I tell you, it really helps having professional photos made. I’ve started a Houzz page, and a bunch of the photos are by moi, and they pretty much look horrible next to my husband’s photos! Oh well, you’ve got to start somewhere, right? I can’t ask him to go back and photograph my past projects – it just takes too long. I’ll sweet talk him into photographing my future projects, so the photos will get better!


Here you can really see the gorgeous blue of the island. We had the face plate of the outlet painted to match. Check out he floors – they are Squall slate – aren’t they pretty? What I like about this line of slate (there are other colors) is that the colors really don’t vary. There will never be a bit of orange in it. It is very consistent, which I love. This is my third project using this line from MLW Stone, I just am so happy with it.

The perimeter counters are my favorite granite, Leathered Black Pearl. It is pretty much the only granite that doesn’t feel “granite-y” other than Virginia Mist. I use this granite pretty frequently. The island has Caesarstone Frosty Carrina. I like this color because it is a subdued stone-look. I like how the pattern is subtle – you really have to get close to see it. Very pretty!




Here’s the fab vent hood! I am partial to cabinet vent hood cover – I just love the way it finishes the range area. So elegant! These clients were so nice! I love everything they picked out – it came together so nicely. And…their neighbors came by and loved it, so I am starting on their kitchen next week! I feel very blessed that I’ve had work come my way. I just hope that it keeps on coming!   😉     Keep your fingers crossed for me!


I don’t know if this is just a southern thing – but folks down here are CRAZY for YETI!




Here is the version that has been a workhorse for sportsmen.It has become sort of a thing for everyone else, the way North Face has for outerwear. When we were in Kiawah last summer, YETI was everywhere.

Yeti cooler


From what I know, YETI coolers started out as the cooler of choice for fishermen and hunters because they have exceptional cooling ability. There have been pictures circulating the inter webs showing YETI insulated cups surviving truck fires with ice cubes still intact!!!!!


My father, the man who officially is impossible to buy gifts for because he needs nothing, has gotten on the YETI bandwagon, for which I have breathed a sigh of relief, because FINALLY I can get him something that is not movie tickets!!!!


For Father’s Day last year, I got him a YETI hat and little can holder attachment that you put on the cooler. Thankfully, there are endless cooler attachments and YETI gear that can fulfill my dad’s gift requirements for awhile now! 😉




Or, you could get your dad (or husband or brother) this:




So, is your dad as difficult to buy for as mine is? I think this is the fun kind of gear that most men can get excited about. What do you think – is this a good gift for Father’s Day?




Painted Brick

I just love a painted brick house – it looks so fresh and cheerful. My favorite color for painted brick is a soft grayish white – that’s what I painted my house. If you are thinking about painting your brick, here are some gorgeous inspiration photos.


I love the painted brick on this one. Often I like unpainted brick on classic two story houses, but this house would not have been as charming, and I don’t think the Chinese Chippendale railing would look good against red brick. I love how the little “roofs” of the bay windows look sort of like a pagoda. Cute!


1930s Colonial



Here is a nice example of a contemporary home. I like how the white is a soft white – the texture of the brick and the softness of the paint color are nice against all of the straight lines. Don’t know if I’d like living with all of those huge uncovered windows – kind of like living in a fish bowl! Maybe they have a really long front yard and lots of tall bushes out front?






This house is so charming. I love how the brick and the trim are the same color. It’s like a clean-lined version of an English cottage. I like everything about this house: the pitch of the roof, he porte cochere, the front entry and the arched front door. So charming – I’d move into this house tomorrow!



Majestic Oaks Residence


Here’s a more formal house. Or should I say “manse?” This looks pretty big!!! I love the black of the windows against the soft white of the brick. About the only thing I would change is the front door. It feels like it needs something more solid there.


Symphony Design Home


Another charming stripped down cottage. I say cottage meaning style – this house definitely ain’t little. It’s probably more than double the size of my house! I like the details like the dovecote over the upper window on the left. I also like the color of the trim against the white brick. It’s hard to tell whether it’s gray or a sage green. Either way, it’s pretty. Love the copper downspouts, too!


Cotswold House Exterior


I’m pretty sure this is a poolhouse – isn’t it fabulous?  Love the dark of the doors and window against the brick. Also LOVE the orange and white stripes on the chairs – isn’t it fun? Doesn’t this look like a place that Slim Aarons would have photographed?


Torrey Pines


Here’s a good example of a more creamy white-ish color on the brick. It’s darker than I personally like, but it still looks good. I like how the cream unifies the different materials used on the body of the house. The bump out to the right has different materials than the front of the dormer window above the roofline. If these were different colors, it would be too much. This is one where I think it would look better if the corbels and shutters were lighter – they feel a bit heavy now. The windows could stay dark, though.




Here’s a sharp example of modern white brick. I love how clean this is. The brick really warms it up. So pretty.


Brisbane Street House


Here’s a stripped down farmhouse style home. Again, I like the dark windows against the white of the brick.




Here’s another charming “cottage” style home. I love the swooping roofline of the second story. I would be happy in this home!


Modern Rustic Renovation


Here is a nice contemporary in white brick. Again, I love how the texture and color of the brick softens the hard lines of the architecture.


Hickory Residence


Here’s a bigger home – love the shutters and the gutters (hey that rhymes!).




Here is a lovely formal home. I love the repetition of the planters. The taupe-y color of the trim is pretty with the brick color. It’s a very soothing combo.





Here’s another cute house – couldn’t this be a Nora Ephron movie set? I like the soft grayed down blue of the shutters against the white brick. Charming!


Urban Building Group: Charlotte, NC


And dovecotes again! So pretty. Love the espaliered plants on the front wall. Very pretty house.


Trimble Road


So, do you think you could take the leap and paint your brick?



Onyx fabulous

Today, the weather was great – it was a little cooler than normal, but it was nice. When I got home from taking my youngest to gymnastics, I picked an organic roasted chicken I got from the farmer’s market and made chicken salad with green apples and toasted pecans for their lunch tomorrow. (And I do mean picked a chicken – picked off the meat – rather than picked up a chicken. Maybe I am more southern than I realize!) This is not a normal occurrence for me to be so ahead of the game! 😉 I did some straightening up and planted a few strawberry plants in a container as well.

In the evenings, I am usually too tired to do much – most days, I wake up at 4 or 5 am, start the coffee and then make the boys’ lunches. The easiest days are when I have leftovers to send with them. Some days, they buy school lunch. Not ideal, but we are in survival mode.

After 13 years of working at home for my husband’s business, it’s been a huge challenge working outside the home full time with minimal holidays off (we had to work Christmas Eve last year), one week off a year and no benefits. Needless to say, I am a few loads behind folding and putting away the clean laundry.

Working with great clients is really what keeps me going. I love getting to know them and helping them get the room of their dreams. I recently finished the kitchen of one of my favorite clients. He loves to entertain and wanted to have a kitchen where he could cook while he entertains. His old kitchen didn’t have an island, so adding one was super important to him. The counters are one of my favorites, Caesarstone Organic White. (I took these photos, so they are not the best. My husband is editing them for me, so I should have more soon.)




The kitchen opens into a den (on the other side of the island). On the wall to the left of the island we added a bar. My client wanted to do a backlit onyx backsplash on the bar. When he told me this, I started researching where I could source onyx. I called my fabricator, and he said a slab would cost around $5,000! What!!!!! So, I found these 12×24 vanilla onyx tiles from Artistic Tile. Still expensive at about $65/sf.

We placed them vertically – my cabinetmaker made a little rail at the bottom to hold the tiles in. The electrician put some strip lights on the wall behind the tile. Isn’t it fabulous?

Wouldn’t you love to be invited to a party at this home?


Country road, take me home….

It was spring break for most of the schools in Atlanta last week. Most of my friends and neighbors were posting pictures from the beach on Facebook. A few of my friends broke with the crowd and went to the mountains.

My family loves to go to the mountains in the area where northeast Georgia meets western North Carolina. A couple of years ago, my parents rented a house in Highlands, North Carolina for a month at a time. Highlands is only a little over two hours away from Atlanta, so it was so nice to go up to the mountains for the weekend whenever we wanted to.

I love Highlands because there are tons of outdoor things to do like hiking and exploring waterfalls. There is a great nature center right in the center of town – I love to take the boys there – there is a bog garden, a garden full of native plants like mountain laurel and rhododendrons, lots of taxidermy of local wildlife and several live snakes, turtles and lizards. Perfect for boys!

There is also a cute gourmet grocery store where we go for coffee during the day. In the evening we like to go to the Wine Garden at the Old Edwards Inn for a drink before dinner. Here is the bar area  –  we like to sit a table rather than at the bar.




My sister in law’s sister got married at the Old Edward’s Inn several years ago. She had her rehearsal dinner at the Inn right by the pool – it was so pretty.


Old Edwards Inn 2


Here is the entrance to the Inn when you are on Main Street. The Wine Garden is on the left. Hint – if you stay here they have mini fridges around the Inn that have Dove ice cream bars!


Old Edwards Inn entrance


Here is The Farm, where my sister in law’s sister held her (spectacular!) wedding:




Here is the main “barn” – I danced the night away with my youngest, who was just a bitty then (he is 8 now, sniff).






Here is a view of the entrance to the property:




There is also a house on the farm property that my sister in law’s parents rented for the wedding. It is amazing!




Here is the kitchen. We went for drinks on the back porch – this house was so cute!



Highlands and its sister town (20 minutes away) Cashiers hold a special place in my heart. It’s an area surrounded by spectacular waterfalls, hiking trails and gorgeous views of the Smoky Mountains. The air has a fresh smell that you just don’t get in the city. There are lovely rhododendrons and mountain laurel everywhere.


North Carolina also was a favorite for designer Charles Faudree. I love this home that he designed in Cashiers.


Charles Faudree 12


Most of the homes in the Highlands/Cashiers area have lots of wood on the walls and ceilings. I like how Faudree used it just on the ceiling here.


Charles Faudree 4


I’m not usually a plaid lover, but this is perfection. I love how Faudree painted the ceiling in the dining room. I love the walls, aren’t they gorgeous! And the antler chandeliers – everything is just perfect!


Charles Faudree 3

Love the railing here. We’ve rented several homes in the area, and people can go crazy with the “mountain” theme. Faudree was so excellent at creating an environment. This home feels like you are at the mountains without having to have bear doodads everywhere. Love the fabric on the chairs!

We spent the last half of spring break in the North Georgia mountains. It was fun, but it’s not as pretty as Highlands. We came back Saturday, so I had a couple of days to get ready for the week, but it sure was hard getting up at 5:30 yesterday and going to work!


Charles Faudree 2


So, are you a mountain person, or a beach person. Or both?



Cheap date night with tapas and tile!


Last Thursday, Porcelanosa had a grand opening party for their new showroom. One of the perks of my job is that my vendors have events from time to time – there is always good food, music and drinks. We get a babysitter and have a cheap date night out! It’s always fun! Porcelanosa is a Spanish company, so the party served tapas and had Spanish music and dancers for entertainment.


This grand opening party had more guests than any other vendor event I’ve been to. Guest were very chic, too! I tell you, designers are some stylish people – there was fashion inspiration everywhere! I learned a new thing or two!


I really like Porcelanosa tile – I haven’t used it yet, but I’m going to get more familiar with it. The store manager made me a sample kit a few weeks ago with a bunch of pretty gray and white tiles. Porcelanosa has a more contemporary European feel, which is just gorgeous in the right situation.  Here’s a pretty gray and white bathroom with Porcelanosa tile. That’s an impressive shower, isn’t it?



I like the texture of this tile running vertically. It’s a nice way to add interest while still keeping with white tile (you know how I love a white backsplash!)
Here’s another gray and white bathroom. I like the soft variation of grays in the wall tile.



Here’s another bath with this textured tile. It’s pretty obvious I like this tile, isn’t it? Do you think you could use textured tile in your home?




Black and blue and white all over

Recently, a neighbor needed help with her kitchen renovation, so I’ve been designing her kitchen with her. She really likes the idea of a blue island with white counters and white cabinets with black counters for the perimeter cabinets. Here is one of our inspiration pictures. Aren’t those pendants pretty?



Black and blue has been big in fashion for awhile and now it’s showing up in design. I love the clean lines of the cabinets in this more contemporary kitchen. The blue of this island coordinates really well with the black counters on the perimeter cabinets. I love the black pendants. I also really like how the island is on legs – it makes it feel lighter.



I really like the deep indigo of this island. It’s almost black, but just blue enough to be different than the black counters. For me personally, I feel like these pendants are a bit too small. I’m really into large-scale pendants right now.



This is my favorite of the black and blue and white kitchens. The blue is just perfect. The pendants are so beautiful – I just love them! My client does not want hardwoods in the kitchen, so we are installing tile. She has selected a slate, so that is a color we are going to have to work with. I feel like hardwoods are more of a neutral, so we are going to have to make sure the blue of the island works with the slate.



Here’s what we have selected so far:


Perimeter cabinets will be white shaker with a Leathered Black Pearl granite counter. The island will be a blue color with Caesarstone Frosty Carrina counters.




The floor will be a 12×24 slate tile called Squall.


Squall is so pretty in person. It’s an even gray with no orange. I just love the way it looks. I’ve used it and it’s darker cousin Black Blizzard. I really love the way natural stone looks. And, believe it or not, it’s not terribly expensive – right now it’s at about $7 a square foot retail. It’s not Home Depot prices, but for natural stone, it’s very reasonable.


This is the drum shade pendant we are considering for over the table:


drum shade pendant



Here are the Circa Lighting pendants we probably will do over the island. LOVE these!


katie pendant                                                                katie pendant



Do you think you could mix blue and black in your kitchen?