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!


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?




Spa like retreat – green glass bathroom



Here is a bathroom that I recently finished. The existing bathroom was white, but it had 80s finishes  – it was brass, but not in a good way. My clients wanted a bathroom that was not white, and they wanted it to have a spa-like feel.




There are two vanities facing each other – one about 72″ and the other one is 36″. Guess which one belongs to the wife? 😉




My clients fell in love with carrara marble and had to have it on the counters. It’s so pretty, isn’t it? I love the floor tile they picked- it works so well with the cabinets and marble. We did a 1/3 offset running bond pattern for the floor. I love the sweet little knobs on the vanity – I’m so glad we didn’t go with any pulls – this is so elegant.








Doesn’t the glass tile feel like sea glass? It’s so pretty in person.




Isn’t this shower amazing? It’s about the size of my whole bathroom! It’s huge!!!!




Wouldn’t you love to use this shower everyday – it’s like a spa retreat in your home!



6 timeless design elements in the kitchen


There are certain elements in a kitchen that will never go out of style. I tell my clients that you should think about the cabinets, tile and counters the way you think about buying a sofa that you will keep for 20 years. Keep it neutral. With a sofa, you can change it up with pillows and throws when you get bored with a pattern. Much less expensive than reupholstering!


With a kitchen, except for contemporary kitchens, I think it is best to stick to timeless finishes for the tile, counters and cabinets. You can have more fun with the faucets and lighting, since they are easy to change out.


Here are six kitchen design elements that are timeless:


White cabinets:






Shaker style doors:








White subway tile:





Wood floors:





Marble counters:






A slide-in range:





What are your thoughts on these design elements – timeless or boring?












Why classic tile always works

When I’m working with clients, we usually start with the layout. Next, I set up an appointment for them at Ferguson so they can pick their plumbing fixtures (and appliances if they are doing a kitchen). Next, we generally pick out the stone – tile, cabinet hardware and paint are last.

I just met with some new clients today. They want to do a white shaker kitchen with carrara-look quartz counters. I brought my Caesarstone samples with me, and we narrowed their favorites down to three. Caesarstone has come out with some new colors lately that mimic marble and concrete – they are really pretty.

We are totally not at the place to decide on tile yet, since today was just our initial design consultation, but the subject of tile came up anyway. My clients are pretty design savvy, and were talking about wanting a light, a medium and a dark in their kitchen. I agree that you need to have some contrast – with a white kitchen, it looks good to have a darker tone on the floors or counters. My clients were a bit concerned about having white cabinets and white tile, but I told them that I really think that white tile is a classic.

For most people, it works best if you keep the more expensive things in your home simple. In the kitchen, the most expensive things to change out after the cabinets (excluding the appliances, since most people do stainless, and stainless isn’t going anywhere soon) are the counters and the tile. My philosophy is – the more difficult/expensive it is to replace, the more timeless it needs to be. I think that if you have the money to update your kitchen every five years, go with it – do something trendy with your tile and counters. When we see these beautiful living rooms in House Beautiful with club chairs covered in a big pattern, we have to remember that the homeowners probably have at least two houses and can afford to reupholster whenever they want to. For the rest of us, we buy a good sofa, and that’s the sofa we have for 20 years.

For most people, selecting a sofa that is neutral is the best way to go. If you’ve ever had a sofa with a print and gotten sick of it, you know what I am talking about. It’s expensive to reupholster a sofa – it’s much easier to put a wild print on your pillows. Then it’s not such a big deal if you get tired of them and want to change them.

It’s the same principle with kitchens. For the most part, it’s best to stick to white (cream, taupe), indigo or gray (darker taupe) cabinets, white tile and white, black or gray counters. Then, you can get creative with faucets and lighting – those are so much easier to change out if you decide you don’t like them in five years. I have to say, though, you will never go wrong with a white (or slightly cream) kitchen. White always looks great!!!

When it comes to tile, I think for most kitchens, a simple white tile is best. I deviate from this rule with modern kitchens since everything else is usually so simple. For modern kitchens, I usually introduce texture or subtle color. The cabinets and counters are usually so sleek, they need a little sumpin’ sumpin’.

When I’m working on a traditional/transitional kitchen or bath, I like to use white tile. In the bathroom, I generally like to stick with the classic 3″ x 6″ subway tile, but in the kitchen, I like to mix it up with different rectangle proportions.

My favorite backsplash tile right now is a more square shape like this:



I like a longer rectangle as well, but not too skinny. I think a skinny rectangle is going to look dated soon. This is a pretty example of a nicely proportioned long rectangle in marble.



Here’s a pretty example of a classic 3″ x 6″ subway tile. This is a look that never gets tired. It really is the little black dress of backsplashes.



Here’s another example of 3″ x 6″ subway. So classic.




Here is a pretty Ann Sacks 4″x 8″ subway tile that brings in texture:



What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of a white tile?


Shiplap and Sherwin Williams Alabaster

I was in Sherwin Williams recently, picking up 7 gallons of Alabaster and 1 gallon of Porpoise for a basement project. It hit me that three of my recent projects have used Sherwin Williams’ 2016 Color of the Year Alabaster! I think the reason everyone loves Alabaster is that it’s not a stark white – it’s got a bit of gray to it and a bit of warmth to it that softens it.

This kitchen has Alabaster on the cabinets and walls. And this mid-century kitchen has Alabaster on the walls and Porpoise on the cabinets.

We are in the middle of re-doing a basement in a house from the 1930s. The basement is not big – it’s maybe 20 by 20 feet at most. It has a brick wall that is about 4-5 feet high and then it’s open to the crawl space around it. We put shiplap at the top of the wall and kept the brick. I just saw it yesterday – they had all of the unpainted shiplap up and it looked really good. Here is one of our inspiration photos.

The basement is going to be a place where my clients’ three boys can play air hockey and video games, run around and be loud like boys can. Ahem, I know from first hand experience how loud they can be! I had six boys running around on missions with their Nerf guns inside my house because it was so freezing here (in the 30s) that they didn’t want to go outside. Chaos! I’d love to have a room for them to battle in. Our house is not that big – I’d love to convert our garage into a monkey room!

This was another of our inspiration rooms. We haven’t decided yet if we are doing a herringbone or basket weave pattern on the floor. After the guys are done painting, we’ll lay out the tile pattern on the floor and decide then. We’re leaning towards the basket weave, though.

Here’s another inspiration photo. I love the mix of the rustic beams and the elegant bell jar lights. The black doors are nice against the white ship lap.


The basement has low (7 foot) ceilings, so we are going to leave it open like this and spray it with Alabaster. It’s just amazing what a coat of white paint can do! It can take a dark basement and make it look so fresh!


Isn’t this charming? Wouldn’t this be a nice place to have your coffee every morning?


I would love to have a mudroom like this. That is tons of storage for shoes and book bags and coats and Nerf guns. We are overflowing with Nerf guns at my house and about to get more – my youngest is about to turn 8 and made a list of his top ten Nerf guns he wants for his birthday. So, I expect our arsenal will be growing. Hey, look! Another bell jar light!


Another pretty sunroom. This feels very southern to me. I love the lanterns.


Isn’t this kitchen so cute? I normally am not a fan of brick pavers in a kitchen, but it looks great here. I think it works here because it’s a rustic farmhouse, the walls are white shiplap and the cabinets are very simple. Also, the french doors bring in the outside. I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw a chicken walk by!


Here’s another view of this kitchen. It’s so charming. So, are you a fan of white shiplap and brick, too?






Progress on the Penthouse

We are almost finished with the Penthouse remodel. We should be done with phase two next week. All of the stone has been installed – we did travertine in the two bathrooms and statuary marble in the kitchen.

You can see a bit of the stone here in the backsplash. This was a vessel sink the owners already had that they wanted to use. We picked oil rubbed bronze finishes to coordinate. The sconces are going to be mounted through the mirror frame. You can see where the guys drew the outline of the frame on the wall.


Here’s another bathroom. The stone is protected, so you can’t see it. We used a Brizo wall faucet and a pretty sink. My client loves vessel sinks. I’m in love with that faucet. Too sexy!


The guys have tiled all of the floors and they started on an accent wall of tile in the dining area that we added. They finished the kitchen backsplash and the white glass tile is tha’ bomb! It looks so gorgeous. I think it’s the bling in the kitchen along with the faucet.



This is my favorite faucet right now – the Delta Trinsic. It looks as great in a traditional kitchen as a modern one. Check out the marble – we keep it protected, so you can only see a little, but isn’t it pretty? Isn’t that sink awesome? I love the sharp corners.


I am just in love with this tile. It’s so pretty. We will be done soon – I can’t wait to see it finished and all cleaned up!