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A kitchen to love

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we bought another house and are embarking on another renovation. We are giving ourselves about 6 weeks prior to moving in to do the following, gut and renovate the kitchen, add hardwood floors to kitchen and then refinish all floors on top level, paint everything, add HVAC system, reconfigure framing in downstairs and re-sheetrock, remodel 2 bathrooms, re-carpet, put up new light fixtures…It’s completely unrealistic that we will get it all done. We already know it – but you can follow along and see how far we actually get during that time frame. Since the kitchen is the most important room in the house & I am going to start from scratch, it has most of my attention these days. Since this is going to be a home we live in for awhile and then turn into a rental we aren’t going to go crazy (that being said, we have a really hard time not going crazy). Here’s what has been decided already. A wall is coming down to open things up, White shaker style cabs are going up, grey quartz counters, some sort of a free standing island, some open shelving over the windows, stainless appliances and some sort of subway tile back splash. Here is some of my inspiration (keep in mind it’s a tiny kitchen on a under 10k budget):

{Originally found on countryliving.com}

I love the white cabinets, but what really inspired me is putting the shelves right over the window. In order to make the most of our space we will be doing this in our place.

Love the open, airy feel this has despite it’s small size. Also the counter top is very similar to what we chose.

{originally found at ShootFactory}

love, love, love how functional this looks with all your pots, pans, oil and such within reach}

{originally found at Breakfast in the Morning Tram}

This takes the cake for form & function. Our kitchen won’t look like this, simply because I think a renter would have a hard time seeing the charm in no closed shelving, they would just think we were just being cheap. Maybe in my next home though.

{originally found at You Are My Fave}

Such a nice combination of traditional looks with the surprise color. I think we will insert something fun with our back splash tile or our island, whatever it is, I am inspired to have something besides just the safe white/neutrals with this lovely kitchen as inspiration.

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More art inspiration

Here is some more lovely art in a variety of styles and prices (see the March 28th post for the first part):

Two Chairs, Michele Maule

{I bought a print of this for my husband’s birthday this year & my dad looked at it & said “you have weird taste in art”, don’t let anyone deter you- if you love it, buy it. Unless of course it is a velvet painting of a wolf or something}

Paris, Latin Quarter, Laura Amiss

{she has loads of beautiful, colorful textile art & whimsical prints}

Ice Crusher, Coffee Pot, Waffle Iron and Tea Kettle, Harold Reddicliffe

Spring Tide, Clare Elsaesser

{notice the charming stitching around the print}

US Map, Rachel Austin

{another Portland based artist – I bought a print of this for my girls bedroom}

Come Over, Nik Bresnick

{such a cute letterpress piece for the kitchen – he also has some fun abc cards that would be cute for a kids room}

What art are you loving? I’d love to know.

Light, beautiful light

We just bought another house. Yay! So the next few posts will be short on words with loads of pictures of products I am looking at for remodeling the place. Today is all about light fixtures. These are mostly on the higher end, but a girl can dream for a little while. When I come back to reality and actually have to pay for our fixtures you may see a post with some more frugal options.

Murray Feiss Stelle Long Pendant:

Currey & Co. Longhope Chandelier

Arteriors Sheldon Iron Pendant

Lazy Susan Steel Large Lamp

Regina Andrew Cage Pendant

Currey & Co. Lowell Pendant

Arteriors Parrish Floor Lamp

Who needs art when lights this beautiful can decorate a room (ok, you need art too, but if you could consider these art the price would be easier to justify). Now onto looking for something that won’t break the bank…

Choosing art for your home

When I was 19 my sister and I took a trip to Europe {compliments of Mom & Dad} to celebrate her college graduation. It was January & rainy & she is a true art lover (while other girls were doing their nails, she was digging into gigantic ancient art history tomes). So, we spent much of our time looking at art. I was out of shape and in a bad mood about spending hours trecking to and from art museums, and didn’t appreciate my knowledgeable, personal tour guide adequately…But now, 14 years later, the thing that stands out most in my mind from the trip were a few works of art that really moved me (both at the Musée d’Orsay). The first was this gorgeous piece, The Floor Scrapers, by Gustave Caillebotte:

The next was the only piece I actually looked forward to seeing because I had already fallen in love with the beautiful work, The Angelus, by Jean-François Millet (his painting the gleaners is also breath-taking). Seeing it in person did not disappoint. It is a stunning, serene painting:

I think there is a glimmer of the magnificence of God in truly great Art. That is the allure of seeing these gorgeous works in person. However, we can’t all own these, so we must settle for more earth-bound art that pleases us and gives us daily satisfaction to look at.

Art taste is one of the totally unpredictable things about a person. You can’t look at someone and guess what kind of art they would like, you can’t even always look at their home and guess. It is such an individual thing – because art that can “speak” to some people, is something another would walk by without notice. I’m not really sure how tastes are shaped, it’s just so individual. That being said, we are living in a super accessible time for every taste in art, primarily due to the etsy craze. Lots of art is still out of reach, and some people don’t love any art enough to spend real money on it. My sister, on the other hand, has made it her only investment. She has good taste and can spot trends (has since we were tiny, really) but mostly she just buys what she loves. Not Sotheby’s material, sometimes Saturday market finds, lots from etsy. It may never be worth anything, but she will have a lifetime of enjoyment out of it nonetheless.

My art taste is all over the map (as you will see), but I always know it when I see it. The first piece of art we bought was something we saw in a coffee shop exhibition in our neighborhood. It is by the artist Nat Meade. The truth is what we loved was a little painting of cumquats, but it was already sold. So, for my birthday my husband surprised me and bought a different still-life by him, that we have loved ever since. It has some oddly shaped avocado/nose suck bulb item that we have never been able to identify, which makes for a conversation piece:

We bought these sweet prints (over the crib – for a better look click on the link) by marisa at creative thursday for our daughter’s nursery. She has so many adorable & affordable prints:

Here are some more favorite artists and pieces we hope to own someday (if you follow the links you will get to some great sites to browse and discover what speaks to you):

In the depths, by Lisa Golightly

The Road, by Daniel Robinson

{love, love, love his work + he lives and works in Oregon & paints many places my family has lived}

Book of poems, by Anna Magruder

Bison Buffalo, Lucy Snowe Photography

{I have had a mild obsession for years with finding a close-up of a Buffalo in black & white. The one I dream of is so close that it is just a head shot and it’s taken on a cold day so you can see the Buffalo’s breath – this is the closest I’ve come, &  it is stunning. I may give up on the one in my head and buy this one}

I also love her photo entitled Ewe in the Fog:

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Blue Door New Orleans Number 1, Lesha

time to plant your garden

Time to plant your garden…only problem is (as you know, if you’ve been reading) we are homeless, which means garden-less. The location we are currently residing in gets much of it’s beauty from loads of large, shady trees. Which means I can’t even plant a make-shift container garden. March in Oregon basically means rain (snow the last few days, strangely enough), which could be a downer, except if you are a gardener.

Here is the upside to all the rain (I am hoping to convert a few non-gardeners):

1. It keeps the soil really easy to work with

2. It gets me outside during a time of year that I normally would stay in all day.

3. Once outside, I realize how pleasant it is to be outside in the March rain.

4. The rain keeps you cool when you really get into the pitch-fork motion and start to get all sweaty.

5. Your kids will love it – rain or shine (give them their own little section and some seeds & let them have at it).

Since I probably will not be moved in time for a garden this summer, I am soothing myself by looking at our old garden & daydreaming about some new ideas for our next garden. Here are some pictures of our backyard, which was made up almost entirely of weeds when we bought the house (not the good kind with worms and such). This is the summer we moved in:

Husband building boxes and laying cover for the rock (this took a lot of math to get the angles right so the tops would be level, lucky for me my husband is meticulous about these sort of things):

This is the first summer of planting (that’s me in a sweet hat my mom got me at a yard sale, that is perfect for face sun-coverage). I adore the process of seeing the fruits of my labor unfold in neat little rows of beautiful food (not to mention the eating):

Each raised bed usually sees 2-3 different crops each season (or replanting of the same crop) & the perimeter bed is reserved for longer growing periods (like winter squash) & perennials (like raspberries) & things that climb (like beans).

some beans waiting to be pickled & some carrots waiting to be roasted:

Let’s face it, I could scour the internet or my favorite pinterest boards for hours looking for the perfect garden inspiration OR, I could just look at Martha Stewart’s AMAZING garden and start the daydreaming right there.  Some people like a free-form, here there and everywhere appeal to their gardens, with surprises and such. Not us, we like order (pretty much everywhere around the house, the garden being no exception). My husband and I both love having things tidy & organized. Martha’s garden takes this idea to a whole new level – It is a thing of beauty (just try not to be inspired):

you can find the full tour (& truly helpful garden information) here.

Hope you have been inspired to get outside, get a little wet & put your first seeds of the season in the ground. You won’t be sorry!

details matter

I recently went with my husband to help one of his clients choose paint colors for her home, prior to putting it on the market. As we were leaving she threw in “hey do you think it would be worth it to change out the house number & mail slot?” (picture old, boring font, brass numbers screwed to the siding and a matching mail slot). The answer to this question is always YESSSSSSS! Of course. Especially when you have a $500k+ house that you’ve spent oodles of money on (and are even having the whole exterior painted). Don’t fall short of the finish line, the details make the house.

A few years ago we bought an enormous project of a house, in a really great neighborhood. I took my sales partner (at the time) over to the house and he looked it over and said, “that house looks like a bag lady!” He was right. BUT, it had a pretty lot, in a great location and potential (turns out by the time we finished the project we spent so much money we could have ripped it down and rebuilt it – oh well, live and learn).  It also, unfortunately, had cedar siding. There is nothing wrong with unpainted or stained cedar siding weathering to a soothing grey at the beach, but other applications tend to never quite look clean and finished. It’s all those darn grooves. That being said, we did the best we could and painted it a super dark brown to try and make it look it’s very best. We think it turned out nice – I think that was in large part due to the choice of details (porch light, good front door, house numbers, mail box). Here are the before and after shots (the before one is pretty poor quality, which makes it look kind of charming english cottage – trust me, it was much more cobwebby ‘Wuthering Heights’):

front door after

It is true that to get nice finishing touches you may have to spend a few bucks, but it makes a big impact. I put together a few collections that would look nice together:

{  mail box – Umbra, numbers – Seattle Lux, light – Geoform }

{ light – Kirkham, mail box – Waterglass Studios, numbers – Hamilton Sinkler }

{ numbers – Atlas, light – John Timberland, mail box – Ecco }

{ light – Bellacor, numbers – Ecco, mail box – Ecco }

My personal favorite would be a splurge at $275 but you get 2 for 1, with the combined house numbers & mailbox ( by Austin Outdoor Studio):

Hope this gets you inspired about sprucing up the front of your house. There are SOOOO many options I may follow-up with a second post on this theme.

new construction – So good, or SOOOO bad

I used to work for a very large home-builder. In fact, they often have “#1 home-builder” on their sign. Which, I can say from first hand knowledge must mean that it is simply the largest builder & not anything as lofty or admirable as being chosen from a peer review group as being somehow #1 at anything other than mass production. Which, when I think about it, really means nothing to someone buying the house and actually in my opinion has negative implications like, a. we’ve so streamlined the home building process that there is no charm or thoughtfulness in our homes or b. we take no consideration of what an individual actually wants in the home, we are just trying to make as much margin as possible on the sale (I don’t fault a builder who does this, since it is the business they are in- I just don’t particularly want to own one of there homes). I think a real statement for a home-builder would be “local & meticulous home-builder”. Probably not that catchy.Anyway, I was driving by a neighborhood today that was developed by my former employer and noticing something that has driven me absolutely nuts about mass-produced neighborhoods forever. They have a facade to them, as though they are a set for a play. The front of the home gets masonry accents (usually poorly conceived) and trim around the windows – sometimes they get shutters or other decorative accents. What do the other 3-sides get? Nothing but siding. Not even trim around the windows for crying-out-loud! And it’s not as though the other 3-sides are hidden, considering the hallmark of these types of neighborhoods is typically barren landscapes or tiny seedlings of trees (which are often poorly placed and will need to be removed by the time they are big enough to be lovely and shady). I can almost instantly write-off a construction project as something I will like if I drive-up and there is only window trim on the front of the house!

On the other hand, these projects stand in stark contrast to a new home that has been lovingly considered and executed. You know these homes when you see them. Here are just a few examples:

My husband and I were walking in NW Portland years back and stumbled upon this little in-fill development (Jake’s Run – developed by Nick Stearns of Salient Properties) that I just couldn’t get over- it is so lovely! And it will stand the test of time (it already has, at over 10 years old. Think about most new construction from 10 years ago, already outdated, like a wedding dress):

These next homes are from the prolific architect Ross Chapin. I fell in love with his tiny houses years ago & he has gone on to create beautiful houses of all sizes. A few years ago we stumbled on a mixed development of his tiny cottages and full-sized homes in White Salmon, WA. As soon as we drove by them (& then got out and poked our head into all the windows) I freaked out, yelling at my husband that they had to be Ross Chapin Plans. I recognized his attention to every detail and sweet elevations (that is the fancy term for the way the front of a home looks). For more of his fabulous work check out www.rosschapin.com

In beautiful Bend, Oregon there are 2 new construction projects that have been developed in the last decade that are note-worthy. Actually the entire town is note-worthy, but I’ll save that for another post…First, is a town home project in the Mill Quarter (where an Old Mill was converted to a fabulous shopping/living/events hub). Again, we drove by this when it was being developed and had to go inside (we can’t help it – there is a reason we both got into real estate) so we wrangled a sweet, local agent into giving us a tour. In this case, the exterior far out-wowed the interior details…But really the majority of the world will only ever experience the outside and the developer really out-did themselves when they planned these gorgeous homes (one that we saw even had an amazing roof-top deck).

Lastly, Here is a home in Northwest Crossing. A new neighborhood (also in Bend) that has somehow captured the charm of a long-established neighborhood. Again, I think the thoughtfulness of the architecture (much of which is from the Bend based Bungalow Company) will stand the test of time.

I hope you are inspired that new construction can be done really, really well. I am!

p.s. ANY home is a blessing, whether or not it has trim around the windows on all 4 sides – I get it.

A Fireplace makes everything better

I am spending a rare weekend away {sans children} with my husband at Skamania Lodge, along the Columbia River Gorge, in Washington. We’ve come here a half-dozen times, & what brings us back again & again is the massive wood-burning fireplace and the view {it’s definitely NOT the food}. The size of the logs used in the fireplace are gigantic.

Skamania Lodge Fireplace

Logs waiting for the huge Skamania fireplace

My favorite smell of all time is wood smoke {followed closely by the smell of daphne}. Cedar is best, and while on a crisp fall walk is the preferable time. But really, I like it at anytime and anywhere. Even when I go into a home where the fireplace isn’t properly venting and it has that weird, musty, wet wood smoke smell, I like that too.

I have a pretty short list of absolute wants in my next home:

1. Wood-burning Fireplace (2-3 would be nice too).

2. Some place that gets good afternoon sun for a garden.

3. Gas cook-top.

4. Potential.

I know…not closet space, not a huge master bath, not a 3-car garage, not even the more virtuous home attributes like hardwood floors & original charm. Those are all nice, but I think a fireplace covers over a multitude of house flaws. In one of our previous houses we took out the perfectly good, relatively new, gas insert and converted it back to wood.

Fireplace before (after insert was taken out)

Fireplace After (back to a functional wood-burning fp)

Some people thought it was weird and very un-modern of us. But other true fire lovers understood. I hear all the time about all the mess & effort of real wood – – but if you are honest with yourself is gas even remotely in the same category as homey, delicious, soothing, inviting, ancient wood fire? I think not! Here are some of my favorite applications of the wood-burning fireplace:

originally found at the elements of style blog

originally found at chictip.com

This Wittus design is my personal favorite because it can be added to a home that didn’t come equipped with a fireplace and has a real minimal beauty to it:

Wittus fireplace original found on trendir.com

The Kitchen Island

I have a pet-peeve about homes with tiles counter-tops, all that grout, all the cleaning. I realize solid surfaces are more expensive than tile, but they are also much, much more practical for the person who actually uses their kitchen to cook. Since we can’t all afford to rip out that awful tile and replace it right away, why not at least consider a kitchen Island {one with a solid surface of course}. There are so many options and almost every kitchen can find space to tuck one away. Rolling out pizza dough will become an enjoyable task once again, when all you have to do is grab your pastry scraper, pull up the trash, whisk all the post-dough rolling junk away & give it a quick wipe-down. No more wasting time cleaning out all the flour goo from the grout. Here are some beautiful & functional options:

2 carts from the thrifty Ikea Stenstorp line. One is a smaller sized cart {a mere 31×20 inches & only $199} and the other a more substantial full-sized Island {50×31 inches & $379}.

Smaller sized cart {with wheels to easily move around}

Full-sized Kitchen Island

They both have Solid Oak tops and have nice straight, simple lines that would work with a variety of Kitchen styles {plus, you could always paint over the white if you wanted a bit of color in your kitchen, or if you wanted to match them to your cabinets}. I like that they both have open shelving on the bottom where you can store your prettiest {& most used} pots & pans, or you could get some baskets in there for kitchen linens & odds & ends.

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For the DIY lover, or if you just like something a little more unique {i do}, I think this island is completely fabulous, with one obvious exception. It needs a solid surface on the top. You could get a few pieces of nice wood & glue them together, or splurge and find one solid piece for the top, or possibly carrera marble, or quartz, or anything that would fit your style. The possibilities are endless.

Kitchen Island made from Pallets [originally found on jennyshus]

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For the ultra modern home I think this Island by Shulte Design is pretty hard to beat:

It’s huge, it’s gorgeous & underneath that little plexi-glass looking thing there is a plug-in station for all your goodies, so you can listen to the splendid table, while cooking up a feast & have your laptop open to your recipe {& then hide it away when things get messy}.

Plus it is available in a variety of wood options, so you can choose what works with your space. {I personally love this walnut one in the photos, just gorgeous!}. Unfortunately, I can’t find where you can actually purchase it in the US, and on their website there is no price, which generally indicates high price – – so for now I will just have to look at it longingly.

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My absolute favorite find during my hunt for functional island options were the many re-purposed furniture items that made there way into the kitchen as an Island. Really you could use anything, so long as you put it at the right height {which depends on how tall or short you are, but generally around 36 inches} & put a solid surface on top. Some of what I saw was a little kistchy for my taste, but I would LOVE to have this one in my next kitchen {originally on bh&g}:

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