Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall Accents

Happy fall!

During my drive to the shop this past Monday morning, I actually had the heat on. The season is, once again, changing. The parched landscape will soon be rehydrated and revitalized. Golden hues will be replaced by rich jewel tones. And it will be time to focus on fall decor. What do you do to welcome fall?

The entry is always an easy place to incorporate seasonal accents. You can change out the foyer rug / doormat, add a festive arrangement, hang a wreath, etc. None of those requires major effort or expense. Keep in mind, also, that those are seasonal, so have fun!

At our home, I'm keeping it natural and neutral. Guests are greeted by a wheat wreath in a subtle honey color. I gathered a few branches and twigs from the garden (and the mall :) for a woodsy arrangement in a glass hurricane. For softness, stems of dried hydrangeas, especially Limelights with their autumnal rosy shades, would look pretty mixed with branches.
Our foyer is rather small with a low but charming barrel ceiling. The furnishings are simple and airy. Despite the room's petite status, it's appointed graciously with a large mirror to reflect light, a narrow console for guests' belongings, and stools should someone need to remove muddy boots.
As soon as the weather cools off even more, white Lumina pumpkins will go out on the loggia. Come October, my collection of brown-and-white transferware will be back in action for fall entertaining. See them here. By the way, I am thinning my collection, and will be taking some of the transferware to the shop.

Speaking of the shop, the tone-on-tone fall theme continues there. For this Belgian bleached dining table in front of a wall of ironstone china, I created a centerpiece using Lumina and Baby Boo white pumpkins, naturally-shed antlers, dried hydrangeas, and votive candles - all in shades of pale!  
With a monochromatic palette, there has to be texture to keep it from going flat. Notice the contrast of the creamy pumpkins against the driftwood-like patina of the oakwood. And how delicate the crepe-like hydrangeas look next to the antlers.

Here are more photos of the 19th-century Belgian table. I'd love to see it in a kitchen for casual dining. Or perhaps as a desk in a study. 
Now for something shocking: O R A N G E! 

This antique American stables sign was calling for something vibrant. Cheerful pumpkins were perfect. Hand carved and painted on both sides in autumnal hues, this is just top quality signage. Over a mantel, it would add authentic farmhouse charm!
Here I've grouped the sign with a mix of antique and vintage items: English Victorian wirework plantstand, French watering can, ironstone china and factory stool. The oak branches with leaves are real! They've been preserved / sprayed.
Enjoy the cooler temps! 
Cheers,
Loi

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Kitchen Makeover

Wouldn't it be nice to start over with a new kitchen? How many of you want to custom design, gut and renovate your own kitchen? But not everyone can or wants to tackle such an enormous and, almost always, disruptive project. Sometimes a makeover makes more sense.

When my clients, Ceane and her husband, moved into a charming historic home, they knew one day they'd make changes to their kitchen, which had been updated by the previous owner. Despite a few quirks such as oddly placed cupboards, pinkish counter tops, and a ginormous fridge that stuck out too far, the kitchen, for the most part, was pleasant.

After living with it for four years and adding lots of wear to the cabinet doors and appliances, Ceane knew it was time to do 'something.' A full-blown renovation was ruled out. While the family loves the house, it may or may not be their forever home. Plus the quality of the cabinetry is good - why toss out? So we all agreed on a makeover.

Well, what was once a hodgepodge of doors, materials and styles is now a beautiful kitchen with classic elements appropriate for a circa 1922 home. Ceane did an amazing job! I'm so pleased that she incorporated many of my suggestions. And those of family friend Ashley. 

Let's check out the before: 
My first reaction: this galley kitchen was too busy with all the different door styles and countertops. Ashley thought the crown moldings on the upper cabinets were too weak. And Ceane wanted the plain windows replaced with traditional divided-light windows that complement the period charm of the house.

We all decided that the cabinets could be repainted rather than replaced. A few of the doors did have to be modified. Luckily, all of the old brass bin pulls and knobs were reused; they have the most soulful patina! 
Note the combination of pinkish Silestone and orange butcher-block countertops. And that funky floating cupboard hovering next to the giant fridge. Those all had to go!

By the way, are you a fan of the divided sink? I had one that I  thought was awkward. I prefer an undivided sink large enough to wash pots, but not overly deep which can force you to bend down and strain your back. 
Are you ready for the transformation? Drumroll, please . . .

Here is the gorgeous 'semi-new' kitchen - clean, crisp and cohesive! 

I suggested the combination of honed Calacatta Gold marble countertops with white subway tiles in an updated contemporary size of 4" x 8." With fewer grout lines, the larger tiles look cleaner and less busy. They even add a fresh, modern vibe to this historic home.
All the cabinets were repainted Benjamin Moore Simply White to match the trim throughout the house. Don't you love the beefier crown moldings now on the upper cabinets? Such a quick and easy way to jazz up any stock cabinet - awesome idea, Ashley! Check out the new paneled vent hood also painted Simply White. And remember the supersized fridge? Gone! The new fridge is a much better fit, and Ceane had custom panels added on both sides. Those changes give the kitchen a more seamless look.
The other side of the island showing a bank of drawers and doors with the stunning brass hardware. Wall behind island is painted Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray.
BELOW: I found the gray Remington Factory pendants at Barn Light Electric. That's my new favorite shade of gray. Will be adding kitchen chairs and cafe curtains in that same color for the breakfast area - stay tuned!
Ceane selected the Easton faucet set from Waterworks. She originally ordered it in polished nickel, but I talked her into unlacquered brass. It's already starting to age, and will soon complement the bin pulls and knobs.

One of the family's favorite changes is the Shaws farmhouse sink, which is timeless with the marble. Like the brass, the marble will take on an organic patina with daily use.

Above the farm sink are new double-hung Anderson windows with divided lights.
A HUGE thanks to Ceane for letting me blog about her kitchen! She did an incredible job pulling it all together!! 
Cheers,
Loi