Ch..ch..ch..ch..changes…

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:

 

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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!

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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!

 

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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!

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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.)

 

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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?

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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.

 

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

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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:

 

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

 

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

Atlanta Junior League Tour of Kitchens

This past Saturday and Sunday was the Atlanta Junior League’s annual tour of kitchens. My mom loves to go to show homes, so I invited her to go with me. Saturday, my youngest had a soccer game at 12:30, so I wasn’t able to leave for the tour until close to 2:00. I rushed over to my parents’ apartment building in Buckhead, which is an area filled with traffic, even at 2:00 on a Saturday, so it took me close to 45 minutes to travel about 10 miles.

I got to the building and pushed the buzzer at the main door. My dad answered – I asked him if mom was coming down. He said, Don’t you remember? We’re at your brothers? I thought you were picking Mom up here? Urghh! I didn’t have time to go back and get her – it would take me another 45 minutes to get to my brother’s since he lives near me! Argh! So, Mom didn’t get to join me Saturday since the tour was over at 4:00. She did join me on Sunday and there were some great homes that day.

I only had time to see four houses on Saturday, so I chose houses that were close to Buckhead. Pictures are from the Atlanta Junior League online brochure.

The first kitchen was pretty contemporary. They went with very high end appliances and plumbing. The faucet didn’t have a handle – there is a little light beam that comes out in the toe kick, you wave your foot to break the beam, and the water turns on – isn’t that crazy?

I like the color of the cabinets and the stone was just gorgeous.

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The second house was cute, but not my favorite. They had a big island and then a “table” built out of cabinets and stone and jammed into the corner of the island. They had a great laundry room, though. The laundry had pretty dark gray cabinets everywhere  – cabinets for the kids’ backpacks and shoes, cabinets for cleaning supplies and cabinets around the washer and dryer. It was so organized – I loved it! There are no photos of the kitchen, just this:

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The third house I went to was my absolute favorite from Saturday. It was in a little neighborhood of adorable homes that looked like they came out of a New England village (but they were relatively new). The kitchen was not that big, but everything was super organized and everything had a place. The cabinet designer was really sweet – she opened up just about every drawer and door for me. The colors were really pretty – the cabinets were soft greyed down cream and the stone was a gorgeous Taj Mahal quartzite. Loved!

Notice the ceiling – isn’t it gorgeous? There was amazing attention to detail in this house.

 

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One of my favorite details was the backslash behind the range. I love how the quartzite goes from the top of the range to the bottom of the hood. Check out that little scalloped detail at the bottom. So pretty. The hood was amazing – it’s a limestone that has been crushed up and mixed with a resin (kind of like how Caesarstone is made). That way, they can use less of it – solid limestone would be way too heavy to use. I just loved how this kitchen was so soft and warm – it had a bit of a French feel to me too. Well done!

 

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I got to my last house of the day at 10 minutes to four. This kitchen was really pretty too. The cabinets were cedar with a soft warm gray wash. The perimeter counters were a gorgeous Perla Venata quartzite. It’s amazing in person. I used it in the penthouse remodel – this stone looks good no matter where you use it!

 

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In my next post, I’ll share with you the homes from Sunday – there were some showstoppers! Which kitchen is your favorite?

The 3 most popular counter materials for 2016

 

 

Don’t you just love a gorgeous marble countertop? In my experience everyone loves marble. They just don’t always want to deal with the temperamental nature of marble. Marble will etch.  You just have to accept it. I always encourage my clients to get honed marble and not polished because etching shows up much more on polished. Honed marble is basically already etched and a new etched spot will blend in. And, it will chip – you have to baby it and be careful not to bang a pot on the edge. Staining has become less of an issue in the last few years as the sealer technology has gotten better. I always recommend a 15 year sealer for marble. You have to pay extra, but it’s worth it.

 

 

It’s so pretty, and I really think it’s the one countertop material that won’t go out of style. It truly is a classic. In ten years, are you going to be tired of white cabinets, white backsplash and marble counters? I don’t think so. You may tire of your pulls or your faucet or your pendants, but those are easily changed.

 

 

I’m finding that very few people are doing granite counters. If they do, it’s a leathered black like here.  But notice in that kitchen, she still used some marble in the island – it’s a really pretty Danby marble. Some people say Danby is harder than other marbles, but no fabricator or slab yard will tell you that.

 

 

Generally, if people don’t select marble, they go with quartz. Quartz is a manmade material – it is made from real quartz that is ground up and mixed with a resin. It is very durable and won’t etch or stain like marble. It is also non-porous, so it won’t absorb liquids and germs.

I like quartz – but I like to stick with the simpler ones. I’m not a huge fan of the ones with big chunks of quartz in them. They look kind of 90s to me. We use Caesarstone a lot and I really like their simple colors like Pure White and Concrete. I recently used Organic White in a kitchen and it is gorgeous.

 

 

I think quartz looks best when it’s only trying to be quartz and not trying to be another stone. Cambria recently hosted me for a lunch and learn at their new Atlanta show room. It was really interesting – they showed us how quartz is made, and, of course, why Cambria is better than all of the other manufacturers. They do have a nice product. One thing they said that I didn’t know about is that apparently there are a bunch of cheap knock off quartzes coming in from China that are not manufactured like all of the big brand names and they do not perform well. Good to know!

 

I’ve tried to like the faux marble quartzes. They had some that were stunning in the Cambria showroom. But, they still always look a little fake to me. I wouldn’t be surprised with the technology they have if they get a realistic quartz “marble” in a few years, but I just don’t think they are there yet. I think quartz should just be itself – it can look so pretty like in this kitchen:

 

Another stone trend is quartzite. If people don’t go with marble or quartz and they don’t mind spending the big bucks, they go with quartzite.

 

 

Quartzite is a beautiful stone – many quartzites have an even color without much movement (veining). I think people are attracted to it because they are over the busyness of granite. Quartzite also is harder than granite, but still can etch.

 

 

I recently used quartzite in a bar. It is so pretty. I like how is has soft veining and a pretty even allover color.

 

 

For people who can afford it, I think quartzite is going to continue to be a top choice in counter materials. It’s got a lot going for it – nice even color, not a lot of movement and it’s hard. And it’s so pretty.

 

 

In my ideal world, I’d still pick marble. It’s so pretty, and I don’t mind a bit of patina. I’ll take the temperamental stone and live with it’s quirks for the sake of beauty! What’s your favorite counter material?

Mid-Century Fabulous

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Here is a kitchen I recently finished. The house is really cool – it’s a groovy mid-century design. Notice the slanted roof – the ceilings get really high at the top.

 

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This is a Ceasarstone Organic White counter. I love the waterfall here. And the brass faucets – aren’t they gorgeous?

 

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This island is HUGE!!! This will be great for a dinner party. My clients love to cook for a crowd, so this is the perfect kitchen!

 

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Those doors at the end of the kitchen are actually a built in Fisher & Paykel fridge with panels.  We got the pulls on the fridge and the cabinets on either side from Rocky Mountain Hardware. They are a really pretty brass.

 

Wouldn’t you like to be a guest at a dinner party here?

 

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Phase one of the penthouse is done!

We finished the first part of the penthouse project! I am so excited to see this done. It’s been a really fun project. We used lots of cool tile and different surfaces. Here is the fireplace wall. This is my favorite tile that we used. It’s so pretty – it has a subtle texture that almost looks like wood.

We painted the walls, ceiling and trim the same color, but different formulations. This room used to be lime green and bright orange. I love how the paint transformed the room.

 

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Here is the master bath. I am in love with the pulls on the drawers – aren’t they cool? It’s hard to tell with the light, but the sconces are mounted on the mirror.

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Here is the bar area. I am so in love with these quartzite counters. They are just gorgeous. We are on to phase two now – we have started demoing the other condo, where we will do a kitchen, two bedrooms and two baths.

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Wouldn’t you like to relax here at the end of the day?