brass brass baby

Back to the kitchen.  Once we I decided we were going to use brass as a big accent throughout the house, I knew we had to find some good hardware.  It seems like all the interior designers I love out there say, “hardware is jewelry for the kitchen!” And, yes, I agree, but it’s more.  It needs to be super functional, work scale-wise for the space, coordinate with other metals (or complement them) and set a tone for the style of the kitchen.  It’s a big decision, you guys!

So, I took trips to Home Depot to look at what they had (not much), and when I realized I liked a bunch of what other bloggers used, I did what anyone would do…order one of each.  OK, not each one, but three of these (plus a few black pulls before I decided black was not happening):


The Lew’s bar series, the first upper left, was gorgeous.  The finish was amazing. Sarah Sherman Samuels put it in her kitchen here. I thought I’d love the cool geometry of the square pulls, but it felt chunky in my little space (scale comes in here).  So I ordered the atlas and amber bar pull.  I loved both but the atlas had a distressed finish I did not love, and the amber was a great shape but too brassy (that’s probably an oxy-moron, but you know what I mean.) So, I found the Lew’s bar pull in a round version and it is perfection.


lews bar pull here | stella sumner street home hardware here | successi it pull atlas hardware here | amber gold steel bar pull ckb brand here | purist/stillness cabinet knob kohler here | 26130 amerock pull brushed brass here | lew’s hardware round bar pull here | lew’s hardware round bar knob here

So, you need a coordinating hinge (if yours are exposed).  Let me help you out:

Amerock Polished Brass Face Mount Self-closing Hinges (Pack of 10):

find this guy here

It will not be a perfect match, but it’s a great color that will not clash with any type of brass.

For a faucet, I did not have the luxury of ordering one of each.  So, I looked at some Pinterest eye-candy and knew I’d love the one I got.  Here’s a peek:

Elizabeth Lawson Design | Photo by Jennifer Hughes Photography:

via elizabeth lawson designs 

I just realized that these are also the pulls I used.  I thought I did so much sleuthing on my own!  Dang.  Welp, at least someone else also picked my combo!



stev antique brass kitchen faucet with water filtering here | foldable double handle kitchen faucet in antique brass here | this comes in an antique bronze but honestly, if you’re doing a copper kitchen you need this in your life! here | manhattan double handle here | delta trinsic in champagne bronze here

bright white tile

We just finished the kitchen.  I’m so pumped to share…but it took some quick thinking and a lot of hard work in a short amount of time, so I’ll at least take you through a few of the steps. The first being the back splash tile!

I knew we needed it; the small space our kitchen occupies had to give the house some much-needed character, and something that would make it look bigger.  I had been saving tile ideas for a while.  I’m slightly obsessed with the cement tile trend.

EliteTile Annata 9.5" x 9.5" Porcelain Field Tile in Classic

via Wayfair

via Home Depot

SomerTile 9.5x9.5-inch Art Grey Porcelain Floor and Wall Tile (Case of 16)

via Overstock

Have you seen these installed as back splash tile? It’s stunning.  Take a look at this one from Emily Henderson Design’s team here:

California Country_Kitchen_Emily Henderson_blue wood concrete tile open shelving causal_2

This, too…what a beauty!

Glass and Brass Shower Enclosure Filled with Marble Slabs

via decorpad

But my kitchen is tiny.  Itty bitty even.  A dramatic statement tile was not what it needed.  It needed white, and texture. So, that’s what I looked toward.  I considered a nice carrara marble, but that’s the floor of my upstairs bathroom so I did not want a repeat (I’ll show you the bathroom one day…if I ever style and clean it up all pretty-like).

Here’s the carrara option I decided not to go with:

$11.15SF Carrara Marble 1x3 Stacked Mosaic Tile

via builder depot…the stacked pattern is so sleek.

White tiles I did consider, very deeply!

The Bella Collection 3" x 8" Glass Subway Tile in Snow

Back-painted white glass tiles via Wayfair. The glass gives amazing depth to the back splash, and catches sunlight so well.

EliteTile Greenwich 1.88" x 3.75" Prism Ceramic Mosaic Tile in White

These little prism white tiles from Wayfair would give a great texture to a wall.  We did not have much wall space to tile, so these little ones would have easily repeated the pattern even in narrow wall areas.

My third-favorite?

1x6 Super White Tuxedo Mosaic Tile Design

So simple, but clean and modern. I felt like it said, “hello, welcome to the architect’s house!” I really loved it.  Find here.

SomerTile 3x6-inch Malda Beveled Subway Glossy White Ceramic Wall Tile (Case of 136)

Second favorite is the one above. The modern and clean look of a bevel edge tile, this one from Overstock, totally spoke to me.  I was almost sold on this one! (And, I really loved the dark grout…read on for why I do not have dark grout)

Funny enough, I had looked at so many amazing and super interesting tiles from projects and I finally looked at a simple one I always liked: a 3×10 brick size that had a hand-glazed finish from Mosaic Tile.  I picked an icy gray for my project, but  kept the other colors around my desk.  The white was so pretty and clean.  After a call to see about the availability (and a designer discount) they had me sold!  Behold, our back splash tile:

via Mosaic Tile in Alexandria.  You should totally go to their showroom, you’ll be so inspired!

You might be thinking, “that doesn’t look like anything special.” But it’s nice and big, we set it 1/3 bond so it stacks offset, and the light from the two windows in our kitchen catch the uneven finish of the glaze.  It’s awesome.  Here’s a close-up:


But, there was a little drama.  I actually really, really wanted dark grey grout. Remember this picture I had shared here?


Yeah, I basically wanted to recreate the look of this, but with slightly larger tiles.  I thought it would be bold, but awesome…something that would give our kitchen it’s own identity.  So, when I walked downstairs one Saturday while our tiler was finishing up, I glanced over to my kitchen, saw a sea of white on the walls where a distinct offset grid should have been appearing, and yelled, “Whoa, NO, uh oh!” Poor guy was totally startled.  I made Nick come down, talked it over.  Stared at it.  The tiler said he could scrape out the white grout and replace it with grey the next week. I stared a little more.  And then Nick said what I was thinking…it looks good.  The all white was really very pretty, crisp and clean, even only half-grouted.  So, I let him continue.  I wonder if I would have loved the grey grout more, but I do really love the white.  IMG_1421


house reno: basement episode 2

House update: the cabinets were totally disassembled, half my cooking supplies were on the dining room table, the basement was barren and weeds were making their way through the garden, it was complete chaos!

OK, drama aside, we’ve got so many things done already on the house. I am so excited seeing it all come together!  So far we’ve…

Painted 75% of the house interior

Dug up the bamboo and kudzu vine in the backyard

Planted ornamental grasses that will hopefully take up root space and help eliminate the bamboo and kudzu

Took off the ratty awning over the front door, the faded shutters and the flimsy mailbox and old numbers (which I saved for nostalgia’s sake)

Put up awesome black shutters, a new mailbox, new planter and beautiful modern brass house numbers

Replanted the front yard with gardenia bushes, mini holly and dianthus

Replaced the ugly fan with an awesome chandelier in the dining room

Refinished the basement with vinyl wood flooring, made our dream closet and separated the awkward laundry/bathroom situation

Tiled the kitchen backsplash

And I just finished repainting the kitchen cabinets (along with some very welcome help from family and friends)!

Deep breath.

I want to show it all in bite-size increments, so for now let’s start where I left off, in the basement!

Our House Updates 024

The basement became a blank slate for furniture.  We ordered a couch here (Bob’s Discount Furniture…don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, it was the largest that could fit down the stairs!) and I bought this chair from World Market and a multi-neutral-colored shag rug from Ross (seriously, go there if you need random housewares, the 5×7 rug was $39.99!)

Our House Updates 041

I realized I needed to shop on a budget down in the basement as I have a feeling it will take some abuse being the more “loungey” area of the house, and things will get spilled on or messed up (especially once we get a dog!).  I’ll probably be replacing pieces throughout the years, or just not care about them.  So, when it came time for a coffee table piece I really wanted a DIY ottoman project.  Something like…

via Little Green Notebook

So, I started going to the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores around the area.  But then, I found a piece I actually liked…at $27 baby!  So, that upholstered DIY coffee table ottoman thing will wait until these nesting tables are smashed.

basement details 002

Although I would have loved to find some good art pieces to hang above the couch, Nick had the perfect “artwork.” The pillows we brought from our apartment, a vintage kilim and good ole’ Target find.

IMG_1029 (1)

basement details 001

I thought about making a floating credenza like this guy from A House in the Hills (bottom of her post), but when I stumbled upon this funky crate thing for $20 at Burlington Coat Factory, I had to try it out! It is probably supposed to go in a mudroom so people can hang coats on those little hooks at the bottom.  Maybe I’ll clip them off.  Or not.

It is awesome having a huge area to store our clothes and shoes, and NO ONE can tell we are hoarding so much behind those doors. They are mesmerized by the barn doors…all an illusion tactic.  I still debate whether or not I’ll put hardware on the doors, but For now they are great.

basement details 003

I promise, I also let Nick use the closet. Proof:

basement details 005


black, white, and mixed metals

When we moved into our house, all I saw was a livable, welcoming space with lots of light and wood floors.  After we looked a little closer, as you now know, there were a few things we needed to change.  This one, the kitchen cabinet color.  I swear, when I first saw them they looked white:


This looks white, right?!  Also, note the knobs in the middle of the cabinet doors.  What’s with that?

But the second time, I realized they were really more of a cream/off-white. When we moved in and painted the walls, I hoped the lighter gray color would help, but it did not (see how white the marble is compared to the cabinets?)


So, I’ll paint them to match the nice bright white trim.  Which means I will have to take off the pulls and hinges.  Which means I have the opportunity to fill the holes made by the oddly-placed knobs, and find new ones.  Heck yeah!

We’ve already talked about how much I dig the brushed brass/gold look for this house.  But, I already have stainless and black-colored appliances that we are not replacing, as well as the black granite that I like more and more (it has little amber flecks in it that sparkle, and I cannot resist a little sparkle).  Can I mix and match the stainless/black/white with brass? Exhibits, please:

via Veranda Interiors…good stuff here, guys!

White subway. Black grout. Kitchen backsplash.:

I love how graphic the dark grout is against the tile! Wish I could find the original link, via Pinterest

Wood Kitchen Shelves with Brass Brackets

via decorpad

via StyleMePretty

Elizabeth Lawson Design | Photo by Jennifer Hughes Photography:

via Elizabeth Lawson Designs

Kitchen Styling || Studio McGee

via Studio McGee

According to these kitchens, yes!  It seems like as long as some of the colors are present within each other, like the black of a knob relating to the black counter top or cabinet, it works.  We could also go with black pulls, but it’s nice to know I we have options!  Still torn on those two-tone kitchens white the white cabinets on top and black on the bottom.  Too trendy maybe?  But dang, they look good.

All these back splashes look amazing.  Which also means I want that, too.  Stay tuned!

gold mirror cover

[gold] mirror mirror on the wall

So do you remember when I confessed my love for my Ikea Grundtal mirror here?  When we moved, our bedroom felt way too symmetrical for mirrors above our matching dressers or matching nightstands…too matchy-matchy.  I knew I had to use them somewhere else.  One found an easy home in the basement bathroom.  The other, though, I had plans for!

I feel like just about anyone with an eye for design falls for this inspiration picture:

another bench/mirrror combo:

via Amber Interiors here

Let’s back up a second; I feel so crazy falling for all this modern gold hardware, but isn’t it a breath of fresh air?  I’ve specified numerous stainless steel switch plates, accessories, pulls, window mullions [more like a brushed aluminum, but still] and, of course, appliances for the last 10 years or so that people have trusted me to pick their hardware. But now, I can’t help veering toward the warmth of gold.  So, for our little house, I decided to have some fun!

First, I loved this mirror, but I think it was sold out as soon as it hit Target stores:

via Target, check to see if it’s at your local store!

This is a beaut, and it’s huge!  43″ diameter huge…damn I want this! Find here

I would have loved to search for a really large one like Amber’s design [or the second one, above], but I actually have no wall large enough for something like that!  So, this is when I looked at my poor little stainless Grundtal I was not using.

Engagement Party, Robinson House, 5037, Choker 070

I taped all the interior of the mirror with Frog tape (ask for it at Home Depot or Lowes, best stuff around), trying to get under the stainless “lip” that holds the mirror plate in place.  If you do not press your tape down, you can secure plastic bags to the sticky side of the tape and lay them across the mirror to cover the reflective surface.  Much easier than taping all the reflective surface, or having to scrape off over-spray.

sprayed mirror

Annoyingly, it started raining so I had to wait another day.  When I did get to spray, first I did the back side, waited about 40 minutes, then I did the front.  This way I could re-spray any finish edges and get the best finish for the most-looked at side of the mirror.

I used Rustoleum’s Metallic Gold, bought from Home Depot

After another hour, it was go time!  I think you are supposed to wait 24 hours for it to fully cure, but I was impatient [and I really did not over-spray the crap out of it, just light layers from about 12-16 inches away].


Living Room Gold Mirror

living and dining with mirror

[Gold mirror on point…now if I can only get that dining room fan down…!!!]

home reno: basement episode 1

As soon as we knew we knew the house was going to be ours, we brought in a contractor to take a look.  There were a few items in the house I knew I just could not deal living with.  Some I could tackle.  For others, it was time to bring in the big [pro] guns.

Our basement had dropped ceilings.  I specify these all the time…but for offices, not for homes.  They had to go, the sooner the better!  I even started pulling a few down on my own [until various remnants of bugs and evidence of mice fell on me…then I decided to let someone else deal with it.]  The other odd part about the basement was that the bathroom was open to the laundry room area.  I have dreams of turning the basement into a loungey space that can transform into a guest area, so that odd configuration just could not remain.

Ring Holder and house 019

Reminder: this is what the basement looked like before we bought it.  Dropped ceiling and all.

One of the truths about buying an old house is that storage is virtually non-existent.  We are super lucky in that our master bedroom had a walk-in closet [as in, we can step in and step out], but we definitely needed more storage.

So, we started brainstorming about how to get rid of the dropped ceiling [including the crappy fluorescent lights], how to partition-off the bathroom, and how to get more storage.  I made a few plans to see how it could look…

Basement Plan

The dorky architect in me came out…


I first wanted to drywall the ceiling, but the cost was rough…and, we would lose major height.  While searching for a house we saw a house whose staging designers simply sprayed the ceiling rafters white. It looked awesome!  I actually did not remember it until we started thinking about how to fix ours.  A few weeks later we went to another house where the renovating contractor did the same thing, but with black.  Choices!  Here’s a few I love:

Melrose interior designer Justine Sterling’s finished project room for her kids.

Image via Boston Globe, design by Justine Sterling 


Image via Homedit

Image via here

We had two contractors come in; one was double what we wanted to spend, but the other, Alex, came in just right.  While we describing what we wanted with the bathroom/laundry room dilemma and the two doors or door swing issues, he suggested a pocket door.  Bingo!


After day 1


After day 3

For storage, I knew what we were going to do.  I decided we would take the whole back wall of the basement and turn it into one large, long closet.  It would take up precious floor space, but instead of swinging doors we would have two large barn doors that would bypass each other.


Bypassing barn door hardware from Amazon, buy it here.  As in, this is the exact one we got!


I had to make sure I liked how it would look before giving it over!

Hubs was on board, contractor thought it was great, and so we started Monday morning!  Here’s the progress:


After day 1


After day 2


After day 3

Now, I need to start thinking about what these barn doors will look like!  Can’t wait to share more!

one glass craft – wrap choker

Have you seen chokers popping up, like, everywhere?  Hellooo, 90’s!

There’s this one at Nasty Gal:

Vanessa Mooney Ride Out Wrap Choker - Back In Stock | Best Sellers | Back In Stock | Necklaces | Booties + Accessories

via Nasty Gal here

Sincerely Jules wearing this one:

via Sincerely Jules here

Mary Orton of Memorandum here:

how to wear all black this spring

via Memorandum here

And honestly, the Gigi/Kendall/random other gorgeous models and starlets gang have also been sporting them which made me feel a little left out.  My favorite was that Nasty Gal one, but it seemed ridonkulous to spend $40 on a ribbon.  So, I did the easiest DIY ever.  So easy, in fact, I did not even finish my glass of wine while doing it [hence the one glass craft title].

First, your materials:

Engagement Party, Robinson House, 5037, Choker 055

-3 yds suede cording [I used about 5 feet for my necklace, but you can wrap around your neck to determine the best length for you]

-a box of cord ends

-some charm type thing

-needle-nose pliers

Engagement Party, Robinson House, 5037, Choker 061

Second, just unravel that cord and use pliers to clasp the cord ends to the end of the cord.  If it does not clasp straight, just go ahead and cute it off and try again.  You can see from my picture it happened to me!

Third, use the pliers to pry open the charm ring, insert on to cord end, and clasp back down.

Engagement Party, Robinson House, 5037, Choker 062

Engagement Party, Robinson House, 5037, Choker 064

If you can tell, the wine was even still cool!

Here I am modeling my necklace, no judgement!


Shirt: Old Navy sold out, but dress here | lipstick: Marc Jacobs Kiss Kiss Bang Bang