3.25.2014

My Decorating Formula

If you look around my house, you'll notice I do certain things the same way in each room. There are  colors, textures, patterns and other details that tend to pop up in every room, although not always in the same form. I think this consistency makes the entire space feel cohesive. I call it my "decorating formula." Whenever I stick to my personal formula, I'm pretty confident I'll be happy with the space when it's done.

Almost all of the paint colors I gravitate toward are in the "cool" color family. Most of them are shades of grey, blue and white. But I don't want the house to feel cold, so I try to balance those colors with warm accents like cognac leather chairs or weathered wood furniture. Add some shiny, reflective surfaces and a couple of healthy plants, and I end up a room that feels just right for us!

My Decorating Formula


Our den is a great example of my formula in action. Note the grey walls, white cabinetry, warm leather chairs, sparkly accessories on the built-in shelves and two live plants.


Same story in our master bedroom:


Our formal living room is a bit more formal than our den, but I tried to dress it down with wooden mirrors and pops of color on the sofa. I think those small details help balance the coldness of the grey walls and slick surfaces on the mirror and coffee table.


I remember working on our dining room and thinking to myself, "Something is missing." I added the greenery in the vase on the shelf and instantly felt better!


Even our laundry space follows our formula. The small details really help this room, and I love the contrast between the rugged shelves and shiny hardware.


The formula isn't quite complete in our master bathroom. If we added some fresh flowers on the counter, it would feel a lot more lived in and homey. Right now it has a clean, spa-like vibe, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for a bathroom. 


Now that I've figured out my personal formula, I always consider these elements when I'm working on a room. If it feels a little too sleek or cold, I often swap something shiny for something organic, like a rustic wooden bowl or a plant. If it feels a little too rustic, I try to dress it up with a crystal vase or flashy mirror. I'm a huge fan of striking the right balance between rustic and glamorous. 

 While working on the new guest bathroom, I thought about these elements and made sure to incorporate them into our plans. The materials we bought first – the floor tile, paint and back splash – were very white and cold. I knew I had to balance that with a warm color for the vanity, which I why I was immediately drawn to the vanity from Home Decorators Collection below. 

Guest Bathroom Plans 2


In the kitchen, we're warming up the white cabinets and corian countertops with some cottage-y open shelving and traditional library pulls.


Beyond my simple formula, I have other things I keep my eye on in each room to make sure it strikes the vibe we want for our home:

- Is there a good mix of old and new furniture?
- Are there a couple of quirky flea market/thrifted finds that add personality?

I always think each room needs a conversation piece, like a salvaged item you grabbed from your neighbor's curb or a cool vintage accessory. It's just something you can't buy at Target, you know? (Not that I have anything against Target; we all know I have a major weakness for the red bullseye.)

So, does this make you think about whether you have a decorating formula? Maybe you have one and didn't even realize it! I never thought about the particulars of my decor taste until recently, but now that I know I find it really easy to shop and make choices that will work with the rest of our house. 

Take a look around your space and see if you notice patterns and trends from room to room. I'd love to hear what the keys are to your particular style. No home's formula is the exact same, which is what makes decorating so personal– and fun!


Best Blog Tips

3.24.2014

New Kitchen Hardware

I was having a hard time finding affordable kitchen cabinet hardware to help us keep the costs down on this mini-renovation. I knew I wanted satin nickel cup pulls for the drawers and coordinating knobs for the cabinets, plus I wanted to spring for new hinges for every cabinet. (Our previous hinges had been painted over more than once and were showing their age.)

Once we tallied up the damage, we needed 12 pulls, 41 knobs and and 41 pairs of hinges. I had a feeling it was going to really add up if we couldn't find nice hardware at a low price point.

I checked all of our usual suspects– Home Depot, Lowe's, MyKnobs.com, Build.com. I picked out my top option from each website and compared prices.


Untitled #95

Clockwise from top left:

• Home Depot: Martha Stewart Living Bedford 3" Nickel Canopy Hardware Pull, $4.98
• Build.com: Amerock Satin Nickel Allison Value Center Cup Cabinet Pull, $2.96
• MyKnobs.com: House of Knobs 3" Cup Pull in Nickel Satin, $4.10
• Lowe's: Rusticware 3" Satin Nickel Traditional Cup Pull, $8.07

I wasn't too thrilled with any of those prices, so I did what I always do when I'm hoping to find something cheaper online– I checked Amazon. Seriously, Amazon sells everything. Whenever I find something I like on another website, I make sure to copy and paste the product name on Amazon to make sure I'm not overpaying. I even did this for a necklace I wanted from Etsy and bought it cheaper on Amazon!

Once again, Amazon didn't let me down. I found these Cosmas 4310SN Satin Nickel Cabinet Hardware Bin Cup Drawer Handle Pull - 3" Hole Centers for the bargain price of $2.19/pull. They are practically identical to the $8 pulls from Lowe's!

Kitchen Plans

The best part was that they had coordinating knobs for $1/each (Cosmas 5560SN Satin Nickel Cabinet Hardware Round Knob - 1-1/4" Diameter, 10-Pack) and self-closing partial wrap hinges with the same finish for $2.99/pair (Cosmas 27550-SN Satin Nickel Self Closing Partial Wrap Cabinet Hinge 1/2" Inch Overlay (Pair) [27550-SN]). Buying from the same company and the same "satin nickel" ensured we would have hardware that coordinated well together. I've never heard of Cosmas before, but I read all the reviews and felt confident that they would get the job done.

We ended up buying a few extra knobs and hinges, so the final tally was 12 pulls, 45 knobs and 42 pairs of hinges. With shipping, our final total was $212.81. Not bad!

The hardware arrived today and the husband got right to work installing them. Right away, we ran into a couple small issues. The holes from our previous pulls weren't big enough for the "thingamabobs" that stick off the back of these pulls. See what I mean?


The husband solved this problem by using a 5/16" drill bit to enlarge each hole. Also, the screws that came with each pull weren't long enough, so we had to use our own screws. Again, not really a big deal, but it's worth knowing if you are considering buying these pulls.

I will say that the pulls feel heavy and substantial. They do not feel cheap at all, which is always a risk when you buy online. The finish is exactly what I hoped for, and I'm really happy with how they look in our kitchen. I love how cup pulls add instant charm to our new space.

As for the knobs, they were installed very simply with the screws and holes we already had. No hiccups there! Although they aren't sold or marketed as the counterpart to the Cosmas pulls we chose, I think the details on the knobs and pulls work together perfectly.


Final verdict? I'm thrilled with the Cosmas hardware from Amazon. I'm grateful the husband had the right tools needed to make the pulls work with minimal extra hassle, or I might not feel as positive as I do. I'm really happy we found some nice quality pulls that fit our small budget. Woohoo! I'm a firm believer that hardware is a really important detail in the kitchen, and I am loving the personality these new cup pulls add to our space.

As for the rest of the kitchen, we're slowly making progress. I've decided to go with regular glass cabinet fronts instead of beveled glass, and I want to thank each of you who weighed in on my other post. We ended up getting pricing options for both, and the beveled doors were going to be $240, while regular glass was only going to cost us $90. In the end I decided the beveled detail just wasn't worth it.

We're still finishing up the hardware, glass doors and other small details. I wish I had "after" photos, but it's just taking longer than we wanted. (Doesn't every project do that? UGH.)

Anyway, I'll continue keep you posted! Thanks for following along. :)

Best Blog Tips

3.21.2014

To Bevel or Not Bevel?

Two important kitchen questions today:

1) Should we carry the dark cabinet backs all the way to the top? 
I was planning to keep the wooden cabinet doors on those top cabinets, while the doors in front of the dark shelves will have glass doors. I was texting my mom photos of the progress, and she suggested taking the color all the way up to the small cabinets above the dark shelves. I think it's a great idea for taking the eye all the way up. However, it adds some hassle at this point because we were thought we were done painting the kitchen, and that would mean we have to spend more time and money converting those top doors to glass.

I'm leaning toward doing it, but what do you think? Is it worth it?


Thanks to everyone who answered my late night question on Instagram last night!

2) Should we splurge for beveled glass doors on the cabinets or go for plain glass? 
For regular glass, were quoted at $15/each for the smaller doors on the left, and $20/each for the doors on the left. They weren't able to quote us on the beveled glass option until tomorrow (no idea why), but they did say it was more expensive. The question is, how important is that detail? I think it will be a really nice touch and make the kitchen feel more custom and expensive, but I'm not sure how much extra I want to pay for it.

How much more would you pay for beveled glass? Or do you think I'm being ridiculous and no one would even notice that extra touch?

via Dulles Glass & Mirror

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section! We'll be making these decisions over the weekend, and I'd love to have your input.



Best Blog Tips

3.18.2014

Kitchen Plans

We are in the process of sprucing up our kitchen! As I type this, I'm breathing in the lovely fumes of oil-based paint. Don't worry, Mom – I promise not to overdo it on the paint fumes.

When we bought this house, I liked a lot of things about the kitchen. I appreciated that the materials were nice quality (corian counter tops and travertine backsplash) and the layout was excellent.

Here are some photos from our first tour of the house:



The kitchen walls were painted three different shades of yellow, so that had to go right away. Yellow is probably my least favorite color in the world.

We painted the walls our favorite color, Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore. We painted the peninsula and frame around the fridge the same color as the cabinets, a creamy off-white. I don't have great photos, but these show you what the new wall color looked like.


Then we replaced the appliances...


Our plan has always been to paint the kitchen cabinets because the last person who painted them did a very poor job. The inside of the doors was very streaky and pieces were chipping off various doors. We got a very affordable quote from a painter and decided to go for it!

Right now the cabinets are being painted my favorite white, Pure White by Sherwin Williams. We're using an oil-based semigloss paint for maximum durability. It smells terrible right now but it will be worth it! It's the same white we painted the built-ins in the den...


And our custom built-in closets in the master bedroom...


And the cabinetry in the master bathroom...


Basically we're systematically working our way through the entire house to replace every bit of creamy off-white/beige paint (cabinets, trim, doors, etc.) with a crisp, bright white. Eventually the woodwork in the entire house will be Pure White and it should all feel very cohesive. We can't wait to see the trim painted bright white because this beige/almond-colored trim is just not cutting it! Our plan is to have the trim painted in the rest of the rooms over the summer.

Now, let's chat about the kitchen. My kitchen board on Pinterest is filled with bright white kitchens, so choosing a paint color for the cabinets was easy. Here's my inspiration for the rest of the space:

Kitchen Plans



Once the cabinets are painted, we need to add new hardware and complete a couple more small tasks before this room is finished. I'll be back soon with "after" photos. As always, thanks for reading!

Best Blog Tips

3.17.2014

Because I'm Always Tweaking...

When I first read this blog title, I thought I typed "Because I'm always twerking." False alarm– but that would have been an unfortunate typo!

Before I get to the twerking tweaking part of this blog post, I want to touch on the current projects.

We made great progress on the guest bathroom makeover this weekend, but we still have a ways to go. It's crazy how renovating these tiny rooms (I'm looking at you, laundry room) can take so much longer than you think they will. My impatient self can hardly stand it!

Halfway through the bathroom project we were forced to switch gears to the kitchen. We scheduled a painter to come paint our kitchen cabinets today, so we had to do all of the prep work beforehand. Our best guess is that one of the previous owners bought a bunch of cabinets and installed them himself, stacking them on top of one another. Some of the seams were uneven and the cabinets were just a little sloppy in general. The DIY paint job on the cabinets certainly leaves a lot to be desired, which is one of the reasons we are having them painted. Anyway, we had to do a lot of wood filler, sanding and just general tweaking before the painter arrived. It's the kind of work that is definitely not fun, but it has to get done. We know the hassle will be worth it in the end.

While the husband was busy in the kitchen, I was grouting our penny tile accent strip in the guest bathroom. (Note to self: Don't wear your wedding ring when you're grouting tile!) I'm in love with the penny tile, but it didn't really come alive until we added the bright white grout. You can follow along with our projects on Instagram (@JordanG106) and Facebook if you want live updates!

Anyway, I wanted to update you on some of the tweaking I've been doing in the den and formal living room. When you last saw the den, it was decked out in its holiday finest and we had just installed a new travertine floor.


If you were paying close attention, you may have noticed another tweak we made since this room was originally painted. Remember this (circa June 2013)?


We originally didn't paint the ceiling, but we quickly realized we should have originally carried the dark grey color all the way up to the trey ceiling detail. We did add that a few months later, and these days this room is one of our favorite spots. We spend almost all of our time in this cozy space.



I have so much fun decorating those shelves. The best part is that probably 75% of those doodads and decorative objects are from the flea market or thrift store!

Meanwhile, I spiced up the formal living room with some bright new pillows from World Market. I wanted it to feel brighter and more spring-like in this room. You can't beat $10 for a throw pillow!


I'm always fiddling with the house to make it feel fresh and new. Sometimes I move plants/throw pillows/blankets/decorative objects from room to room until everything feels right. I've learned the best (and most affordable) thing to do when rooms are feeling stale is to shop my own house. The same piece of furniture or accessory can have totally new life in a different space. 

So tell me, what have you been tweaking lately? Or maybe you've been twerking? No judgment here!

Best Blog Tips

3.13.2014

Guest Bathroom Renovation Update

Update: The guest bathroom makeover is finished!

First of all, I'm really sorry for the recent blog silence. The husband and I combined one of my business trips into a personal vacation and spent five days in Washington, DC! Plus my workload really ramped up before that DC event, so I was drowning and just couldn't find time to blog. Now our schedules are returning to normal so I'm back in the saddle. Yeehaw!

Once we got back from our trip, the husband got right to work on the guest bathroom makeover. He's on spring break, so it's the perfect time to tackle a big project. 

Remember my plans from last week's blog post?

Guest Bathroom Plans

Most of the plans have remained the same, but I wasn't sure what tile I wanted for the accent strip above the bead board. Since the walls and bead board will be white, I thought it might be nice to have a little bit of color in that strip. And by color, I mean gray. I'm so wild with my color choices!

I went to my favorite tile store this morning before work (Floor & Decor opens at 7 a.m.) to pick out the tile. My requirements were that it must have a touch of gray in the design and had to be back splash tile that was already on mesh (to make for easy installation). I was walking to the cash register with some of this brick carrara marble tile that was almost $11/ft when I spotted this gray penny tile in a separate part of the store. The liked how the tile had a vintage vibe and thought it would be charming with the wooden vanity. But what really sold me was the price– $3 per sq. foot! We needed at least 24 sq. ft, so it was a significant savings compared to the first version.

Here's the new vision with the penny tile:

Guest Bathroom Plans 2

We hope to finish it by this weekend. So far we've ripped out the old tile floors, vanity and toilet. We tiled the floor with a new ceramic tile that resembles carrara marble and installed the tile accent strip, but we haven't grouted it yet.

The vanity is here, but it will take some MacGuyver action to make it work with our existing plumbing. That should be fun! ;)

We also installed bead board where the old vanity used to be and need to sand down the textured walls that we dislike so much. Then we'll paint the walls and beadboard and put on the finishing touches. Unfortunately there is still a lot to do! I have a feeling it will be a race to the finish line on Sunday.

Follow me on Instagram (@JordanG106) for real-time bathroom reno updates!

Best Blog Tips

3.04.2014

Sneak Peek: Guest Bathroom Makeover Plans

Update: The guest bathroom makeover is finished!

***

Spring break is coming up, and you know what that means: project time!

Whenever the husband has a decent break from work, we usually come up with a relatively large project to tackle. This spring break we plan to tackle the guest bathroom, which hasn't been updated since the house was built in 1987. It's a decent size, but it's dark and dingy and dated. Plus the vanity is super low, which is really annoying when you're relatively tall.


Sorry for the yellow-ness of this photo– it's from the online home tour when we bought the house. The realistic coloring is what you see above.



Here's my vision for the space:

Guest Bathroom Plans

We already ordered the Montaigne Double Vanity (currently 50% off!) from HomeDecorators.com, so that should arrive in the next week. We also plan to sand down the texture on the walls (which I highly dislike), paint the walls, carry the beadboard detail all the way around the room (but painted white, re-tile the floors, replace the toilet, add recessed lighting, add a vent and install some interesting wall tile. We plan to keep the mirrors, wall lighting and shower area the same to save some money.

I think the husband will be mighty busy during spring break! I can't wait to see this bathroom match the rest of our home. I know our guests will be grateful to have a nicer bathroom, too.

What do you think of our plans? What are you working on right now?


Best Blog Tips