Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Morning Shopping

Good news, bad news, friends. The Chairish bar stools have been purchased. I'm going to pretend that whoever bought them was inspired by my design board!  

If you love this look and want to replicate it in your own home though, you can still do it--and for less money!

While I was on a scouting trip for my One Room Challenge project this weekend, I found similar bar stools at Tuesday Morning. The Lansing-area store had two stools toward the back of the store and I think they were about $150 each. (If you are not local but have a Tuesday Morning in your area, I think it's definitely worth checking out.) 

Tuesday Morning also had a rug similar to the one I featured from Ballard, and it was HUGE!

Home Depot
This table from Home Depot is significantly less expensive than the one from Design Within Reach. 

The light fixture is already a great price from CB2.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Chairish the Glam Bar

Old and new. Vintage and modern. This contrast is what makes a room come to life! 

And that's how Chairish saves the day! Buy, sell, adore is their motto, and the company's aim is to make it easy and fun to sell pre-loved decor to one another. They asked me to style the perfect home bar, using stools from their bar stool collection, and there are so many great options to choose from!

stool / light fixture / wallpaper / dishes / bar / rug

I chose this leather upholstered bar chair. It's sold in a set of three from a Chairish member in Solano, CA. If you are local to the area, pickup is free; otherwise, white glove delivery is available for purchases in the continental U.S.

My creation is a breakfast bar -- don't you think it's a more modern concept than a breakfast nook?? Anyway, to get the effect, I added a wheeled, stainless steel work table from Design Within Reach. It's tall enough for the stools to fit underneath; I would put two on the open side and the third against the wall. 

This is how Design Within Reach styled the table--and you could find stools like that on Chairish, too.

This is how the stools I chose from Chairish look next to the work table. I love the mix of the white leather and dark wood legs against the stainless steel.

rug / wallpaper
To soften the industrial vibe of the work table and coldness of the leather, I added Farrow & Ball's lotus wallpaper in the greenish colorway and a neutral wool rug from Ballard. 

A Novogratz for CB2 light fixture picks up on the hint of green and rounds out the space (literally).

The only decision I had difficulty with was the dishes for the impromptu table setting. The blue & white from Mottahedeh are traditional and add a nice pop of color. But how about the Hermes tableware above?!? Either way, French toast, Froot Loops, and Folgers are all destined to taste A LOT better! 

So, why buy someone else's old stools and not a brand new set? Three reasons. 

1. Quality
If you could buy a used Ferrari or a brand new Hyundai, which would you choose? It's the same answer with quality home furnishings. Vintage pieces have proven they are built to last. 

2. Price
Used often costs less than the same item new. Which means more money in your budget for designer wallpaper, rugs, and dinnerware. 

3. Environment
Not only does buying a vintage or used piece of furniture mean that you are saving it from the trash, but it also reduces the demand for new products and all of the resources that get used in that process.

Ultimately, that's the perfect mix of high and low that I love so much!

Friday, September 26, 2014

High Five Hiatus-is-Over Friday

The past few Fridays I have not managed to post my favorite links, otherwise known as the High Five Friday, but I'm back, baby. The hiatus is over, just like lots of my favorite TV shows!

 1.  9 by Novogratz

Robert and Cortney Novogratz have been big influencers on my sense of design since I first saw their HGTV show. Their style is so kid-friendly, colorful, and happy. I was thrilled to discover that they've launched an affordable line of bed linens, furniture, and other home decor items at Wal-Mart. They're so super nice and you can't beat these prices. I also appreciate how easily the items can be mixed & matched with each other.

Gray Linen Futon

Rainbow Throw Pillow

2. Hooray

"Hooray" is the coupon code to get 20% off at Etsy store Lishy Lishy through Sunday. My favorite is the pink flamingos. But with the discount, why not get Happy in all five colors to create a rainbow effect on your wall?

3. Pumpkin Treats
The change of season has me craving some pumpkin treats like the delectable frosted cookie dessert from Beyond Frosting above, as well as Edie's chicken & pumpkin soup. Yum!!!

4. Autumn Blog Hop
The bright colors of fall have definitely influenced my choice of clothing lately and I'm also starting to think about how to decorate our house for the season. Some great ideas to copy can be found at the seven-blogs-in-seven-days tour here.

5. Skimm It
Maybe it's because school is back in session but I feel like I should be a teensy bit more serious in the fall. I've been getting the Skimm sent to my email inbox since earlier this year. Besides all the fun pop culture references, I'm happy to be more knowledgeable about what's going on in the world (even if the news is pretty depressing).

Happy Friday, friends! What do you have planned for the weekend? I've got a special weekend post coming up so come back tomorrow!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

ORC Linking Party: Get Ready

The One Room Challenge and accompanying link-up begin next week!!!!! 

Created by Linda of Calling It Home three years ago, the One Room Challenge (or ORC, for short) brings together twenty interior designers, bloggers, and DIYers to makeover a room in six weeks. 

It's always exciting to see who gets selected to be part of the official 20! I know for sure that Bijou & Boheme, The Pink Pagoda, and Because It's Awesome are in it again this year.

The ORC runs twice a year, beginning in April and October. 

Last fall Linda opened up a secondary ORC in which the rest of us can play along! The linking participants post on Thursdays, the day after the official 20. 

So get ready to see Thursday posts from me every week, beginning next Thursday. I've been taking lots of terrible BEFORE photos and can't wait to show you how I transform another area of our home!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

36 Hours in: East Lansing, Michigan

Last week I had to go to Saint Paul, Minnesota, for a work conference and since it was recently named the most romantic getaway, I took my husband. It was a brief trip but sometimes I feel like those are the best ones. Visiting a new place is fun, but after a few nights, it's nice to return to the comforts of home.

And our home is in East Lansing, Michigan. It's also home of the 2014 Rose Bowl champions, the Michigan State Spartans. Our next door neighbor is the state's capital, Lansing. I have lived in this area since I came here to go to college 21(!) years ago. Does this qualify me to write the unofficial 36 hour travel guide to the city?? Probably not, but I did it anyway.

Since this weekend is Homecoming for the University, what better time than now to imagine a trip to our city?


5 p.m. 

1. Parade
Line up on Grand River Avenue to watch the MSU Homecoming parade. The parade actually begins at 6 p.m. but you'll want to arrive a bit early to find a spot. The weather this year is predicted to be GORGEOUS. In fact, this is the best stretch of weather we have had in four years, according to news sources, which is both wondrous and slightly depressing. Book me a flight to FL in February, please!

8 p.m.

2. El Azteco

When the parade concludes, head up MAC Avenue to El Azteco, which is located one block to the north of Grand River, at 225 Ann Street. Known simply as El Az (pron. "ez"), the restaurant was opened about the time I was born. For it to have existed this long in a fickle college town really says something about how awesome it is. The rooftop terrace is the place to eat since the weather is going to be glorious on Friday. Order the blue corn enchiladas, which come in spicy or mild. One is a red sauce and one is white. I forget which is which, but spicy is not that hot, and goes great with a pitcher of margaritas.

10 p.m.

3. Call a cab
Since you're on vacation, I hope you drink a few margaritas. Now call a cab and head back to your hotel (unless you've stayed downtown, see below for lodging choices). Spartan green cab, a Honda hybrid, is a good choice for the environment and fun to ride in.


8 a.m.
4. Farmer's Market
Somehow find a way out to Okemos for the Meridian Farmers' Market. It has grown so much over the past decade that I've been going to it, and it's best to get there early so you can park. Vendor booths are set up inside the pavilion and out, winding all the way all over to the bridge to Meridian Historical Village. Buy a bouquet of flowers, some peaches, caramel corn, and hummus while you are there. 

10 a.m.

5. The mall
The farmer's market is directly across the street from Meridian Mall, which is not a landmark place in the least, but does now have H&M. Oh happy day! Please ask the cashier when they are going to start offering their home goods in the store. 


6. Blow out
Munch on some of your farmer's market finds and head over to Heat Blow Dry & Beauty Boutique for some pampering. Located inside the Michigan Athletic Club (known as "the Mac" to locals), it is a great spot to get a blow-out and have your polish changed. They do so much more, but really what beats a blow-out and polish change??

Sometime after 12 p.m.

7. Football
The game actually starts at noon this weekend; we're playing the Cowboys of Wyoming. But judging from what occurred at the game we went to this past weekend, the fashionable like to arrive late. The stadium, located on the banks of the Red Cedar River, across from West Circle and the Library, opened in 1923 and has a seating capacity of 75,000. A new pressbox and luxury suites were constructed in 2005, and a new HD video/scoreboard was installed before the start of the 2012 season.

4 p.m.

8. Campus
When the game is over, stroll around campus for awhile. The Beal Botanical Gardens are located across the street from the stadium, near the library. Heading north from there, you can see Beaumont Tower and the MSU Museum. Head a bit east to the new Broad Art Museum. Several dorms are open to the public for dining and are really (truly!) good. Near the Broad, try Snyder-Phillips, or if you are staying at the Kellogg Center, try Brody. Eat@ State has more info including menus and prices.

Okay, so that's only 23 hours and I haven't told you anything about the nightlife...


Kellogg Center 
This hotel and conference center is part of campus, and cannot be beat in my opinion. (That's me in the picture above.) The views are great and the location is not bad compared to everything you might want to visit during your stay.

Marriott MAC
I haven't stayed in this hotel, but I've been in the lobby lots of times as a resident. They give full-size candy bars to trick-or-treaters and let Santa visit kids there, which means they are OK with me!
Wild Goose Inn Bed & Breakfast
I have never stayed here and don't even think I know anyone who has, but it's cute and close to downtown.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Casual Monday

I once had a job where the bigwigs met on Fridays. Instead of Casual Fridays we got to wear jeans on Mondays. Which, when you think about it, is a brilliant solution. Fridays are already pretty much awesome, even without jeans. Whereas Monday? Eh. 

In that same way, my favorite links for the week (typically presented as the High Five Friday). Because today is meant to be anything but "eh."

1. Retro-Fitting

via Style by Emily Henderson
From the first moment I laid my cable-viewing eyes on her room designs, I have loved Emily Henderson. So I was pretty excited about her kitchen remodel since we are in the midst of our own. Bonus! She re-used her existing cabinets and called it "retrofitting."

2. Little Pink Komendas

Little Green Notebook via Domino
The day is finally here! Domino magazine with Jenny Komenda's house inside. All of her rooms are my favorite but I especially like this fun, colorful playroom (and she's got a special announcement on her Facebook page).

3. Twinsies

via NYTimes
I'll have to pick up a copy of Domino for some airport reading. My husband and I are headed to one of the most romantic places on this list later this week. Sadly, not Hawaii.

4. Perspectacles

All this reading means that I've been needing to wear my eyeglasses more. Warby Parker's Fall Collection is now online and I see lots of clear frames like the ones I wear. 

5. Birthday Girl

My baby turns eight today!!!! We celebrated all weekend with a family party and this tie-dye birthday cake. Her favorite color is Rainbow.

Hope your week is off to an amazing start!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fireside Reading

Brrrrr!!! The weather in Michigan just turned cold and now all of a sudden it's fall here. Weather like this makes me want to curl up and read all day. Maybe in front of a roaring fire??
Elle Decor

I have been reading a great series by Daniel Silva about an Israeli spy / art restorer named Gabriel Allon. Oh, the places he goes! It is so fun to read about Zurich and Munich, Vienna and Venice, all from the comfort of my cozy couch. I'm on book 4 and there are 14 in the series.
via Fieldstone Hill
I'm also really looking forward to a bunch of new books including a re-telling of Jane Austen's Emma by Alexander McCall Smith, who is the author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (another favorite series). 

via Home Adore
I want to binge-read all of Sophie Kinsella's books. Her new book Shopaholic to the Stars comes out next month and I'm headed to northern Michigan for an evening with the author (and my mom!) event.

That list of books should keep me busy ... at least until the One Room Challenge starts! Are you participating? Have you read any good books lately?  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Since almost everything had been taken out of the kitchen cabinets for our remodel, this past weekend was a good time to get organized!
Clockwise from top left: cooking pantry / coffee bar / snack cabinet / dish storage

Having lived in this house now for nine months, I have a better idea of how we use the space. We don't have one big pantry in this house like we did in our last one. And things had gotten somewhat randomly put away in different areas. I decided that the cabinets where we have been storing food should serve as different zones. So we now have a cooking pantry, snack cabinet, baking cupboard, and "extras" area--since we like to buy ahead at the grocery store when items go on sale. 

My two takeaway tips? 1. Sort like items together. I used a combination of rattan baskets, plastic bins, and wooden fruit crates to corral all sorts of stuff. 2. Decant. I consolidated as much as I could and took things out of their original packaging when it made sense, like fruit cups for lunches and cracker sleeves. 

I thought long and hard about what we had and where it could possibly go, and even researched(!) the best practices of real cooks (since they obviously are using their kitchens). Edie posted today about setting up a baking center and has some cool tips. Hurry to read it before 2 p.m. Eastern time in order to get her 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality for free!
And how about an update on our progress?
Clockwise from top left: husband preparing to take out stovetop cabinet / new range / empty oven cabinet
We removed the wall oven, stovetop, and stove cabinet over Labor Day weekend. The new range was delivered that week and installed (I've made taquitos, a pink cake, and brownies so far). Tonight we choose countertops. We are keeping the existing cabinets to $$$ave. 

So as not to lose any of our cabinet space, we re-purposed the cabinets we removed in new areas. The base and upper cabinets from our peninsula are in the dining area. And the stovetop cabinet has been turned into a rolling cart with the addition of casters from Home Depot. 

Follow along on Instagram for more updates.  

Mai Autumn on Etsy

At the end of the day, THIS is what my kitchen is really all about! ;) Currently 25% off!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Kitchen Detail Inspiration

Three ideas that may not happen in our kitchen remodel but I like enough to share with you anyway.

1. Built-in (microwave) oven
Our microwave lived on the peninsula that we ripped out so we could move the refrigerator so we could install the brand-new dishwasher. Do you feel like Mouse could use a cookie?? Anyway, the microwave could use a new home and one idea is to add it to the open hole where the built-in oven once was. 

2. Champagne service
Our new range went into the space where the stovetop had been. Since the drawers in the cabinet below the stovetop held all of our spatulas, stirrers, and other kitchen tools, we need to think about a new way of storing and/or displaying these items. I really love the look of a vintage champagne bucket. 

3. A little bit of open shelving

Eliminating all of the upper cabinets in our kitchen would not be a good solution for us, but one or two shelves near the new dishwasher for our everyday white dishes and glassware? That could be chic and make unloading the dishwasher less of a chore. Win-win!!

And, one last idea that totally won't work in our kitchen but I love anyway...  
This pot nook under an arch makes my heart sing.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these three ideas in your home?

All images via Pinterest.

Monday, September 8, 2014

How Retirement Factors Into Our Kitchen Design

Retirement. Whenever I think about that far off day, I picture this fabulous lady.

Perfectly styled hair, glorious caftan, perpetual drink in hand. Living atop a high rise someplace warm and tropical. It will be a bit like my freshman year of college except both saggier and more stylish.

All of which is only possible if we make wise financial decisions now--like not going into debt for a kitchen remodel. 

I mentioned that we opted to keep the existing cabinets in our new-old kitchen. When it came time to choose the appliances, we decided to wait until Sears offered its Family & Friends sale at the end of August. 

Besides getting the discounted prices from the sale, we made our purchase online through Ebates, where you get paid to shop. There was a double cash back promo at the time so we earned six percent back on the purchase, or about $72. Ebates is an affiliate program so when you sign up and make a purchase through this link, I receive a referral bonus. You can earn the same when you tell your friends and family!

We also used the Shop Your Way rewards program at Sears to earn points toward another purchase (like a refrigerator in a few weeks). That helped us get back an additional $350.

And all of it was purchased on my husband's credit card. He earns miles with his card so just maybe we can start scouting Florida high rises when the snow starts blowing this winter.

Friday, September 5, 2014

High Five Fall Friday

Hahaha!!! It's not actually fall. I walked out of my house today into the steamiest summer day of the year. But the kids went back to school this week so there's that.

I didn't get around the virtual world as much as I would have liked this week, but here are a few things that penetrated my orbital lobes.

via Design Indulgence
1. Kitchen Before & After
I have kitchens on the brain since we are working on our own, but did you see the one that Sherry posted this week??? The dark cherry befores are here and sources here. The deal on that sub-zero fridge, the different paint colors, and the lighting and hardware all blow me away. As well as the fact that the homeowners did the work themselves. That sounds familiar...

2. Table and chairs
Classes at our local university (my alma mater) have resumed for fall semester, and this batch of tables is for sale in the Surplus Store. I think one of these tables would look amazing with a set of wishbone chairs. The chartreuse one is from Design Within Reach and the green is from Amazon. The chartreuse is hard to resist except that it costs $855 and has a 12-14 week shipping window. You could buy seven of the Amazon chairs for that price... The table, though, is a steal at $55.

via Little Black Door

3. Use What You Have Makeover
Did you wonder all weekend what color Elizabeth was going to paint her wicker console table?? The answer has been revealed! And so has her amazing new office. I love that she chose to use only what she already to make this room a bright and cheerful place to work!


4. Can You Feel the Heat??
I love my hair stylist (in fact, he was my #3 on my gratitude challenge list today), but he is in demand. So, about the time I was wishing a Drybar would open here in my city, an amazing new business was launched. It's called Heat Blow Dry and Boutique and is located just down the street from my house. Do you hear the angels singing?!? Getting a blow-out before the weekend or at the start of a new week is a perfect way to make life so much easier. Anyhoo, they have been open about a month and are hosting a Grand Opening Celebration on Wednesday, September 10 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Locals should definitely check it out!

via Jones Design Company

5. Flower Craft
I don't tend to think of myself as crafty. After all I can't sew and I can't knit, despite several friends patiently teaching me again and again. I'm finding it hard to do any crafting. (Did you read this to the tune of Barry Manilow's Can't Smile Without You??). But I think I could handle this cute flower craft from Jones Design Company. It looks easy and I like that it's a great way to use up all the gorgeous catalogs I'm not going to buy anything from. 

Happy weekend!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Zen and the Art of Keeping House

Nothing beats clean. You'll never see a room in House Beautiful with dirty windows or cobwebs in the corners. On film sets there are production assistants whose sole job is to polish a single window for eight hours.

On the other hand, you can have a room full of old furniture, mismatched pieces, and no "real" art on the walls that feels like the most welcoming place in the world simply by being clean. 

The best part of all? Clean is FREE!

My mind is constantly racing four steps ahead of where I should be. It's like my brain has too many tabs open. Which helps me get a lot done, but is also tiring. To enjoy life more, I've been trying to embrace mindfulness. Being at one with the moment in a mindful way is how I define zen. And to be able to do that, I engage my five senses through some activity.  

Cleaning has turned out to be a pretty good activity for mindfulness. While I am washing dishes, sweeping the floor, folding laundry, or making a bed, that's all I do. I pay attention to just what's in front of me. Most jobs don't take that long and I find I'm better able to surrender myself to them when I set a time limit. So I fill the sink with hot, soapy water and submerge my hands in the bubbles. There's a rhythm to it, and it is its own reward. A gift I can give to myself over and over. 

I think it's nice to have routines that become more like rituals. Could cleaning ever be sacred time for you?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wood Cabinets in the Kitchen

If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen lots of photos over Labor Day weekend of our kitchen coming apart. 

The very first thing we had to do, though, was develop a budget. Our initial hopes were to work with a local architect who would design a new footprint for the space and manage the contractors. But then reality set in. That plan would have entailed a longer timeline and thousands of dollars more. It would have been totally worth it in the right house and situation. I cannot stress that point enough and am happy to put locals in touch with him. But for us and our house, we have a different plan.

A big HUGE part of that plan involves keeping the wood cabinets that are already there.

The cabinets are original to the house, which was built in 1957. 

They fit the mid-century modern vibe of the house, but can swing more glam...


Or more worldly.


I love that our cabinets have smooth fronts. Although I haven't ruled out adding hardware. Fingertip pulls or long stainless bars are both appealing.

This kitchen design mixes wood cabinets and blonde floors like our house. 

My dreams of polished concrete are probably up in smoke (like a lot of my cooking!)

So what do you think? Could you live with a wood kitchen? Besides being happy that we will save a lot of money and possibly a few trees, I'm excited to have something rather unique.


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