In about a month’s time I will be waking up in one of my absolute favorite cities, Charleston. I haven’t been to Charleston in a couple years but we talk and dream about it often. We’re also super lucky that my brother owns a house there, so our visit frequency is sure to increase!
But one of the most fun parts about a trip to me is the packing — and before the packing comes the shopping! I have been super drawn to flowy, comfortable sundresses, fun patterns, and the texture of rattan. Rattan has been popping up everywhere from bags all the way to earrings. I just ordered these cute rattan earrings, that are such a steal, and raved via Instagram about how much I love these rattan mules!
Another random hunt that I’m on is for all the kaftan like dresses. There’s something super chic and simple about a kaftan and some slides. I joked about only wearing kaftans last summer but as soon as this one arrived, I’ve been on the hunt for more! (SALE ALERT!) How chic would this kaftan be to run errands in… I say we give those yoga pants a rest and be equally as comfy! Here’s a few of my favorites ones out there right now…
If you remember a few posts back I was searching for dining chairs and landed on the windsor style. Well thank goodness I finally found the ‘one’ but in the process I came across so many amazing dining chairs. And although I didn’t want to mismatch the chairs in my dining room, I love the look of two different chairs and it’s even better when they’re complete opposites. Plus I love navy blue and dark green… especially in leather so when I saw these dining chairs I instantly wanted to mockup a dining room for them to live.
I’m going to try and mock up some rooms every so often – preferably on Mondays to keep the ‘Monday Mockup’ theme going – so I can get my design juices flowing and hopefully inspire a few of you who are looking to redo a room or make some one off updates in the future!
Simple, clean, and natural. The boxy table has an unexpected twist with alternating leg directions, and the shade is a creamy dream. I played on the color with the black cane chairs from DWR while adding contrast, and pulled out more natural shades by going with an olive green leather wrapped chair. (Mouth watering.) To give an airy view, I’d place the cane chairs on either end and the wrapped leather chairs on the sides. A muted cowhide rug will add additional texture and an eye catching shape to the room full of rectangles. I love love the whimsical look of an olive tree so tuck that in a corner and let the fluted chandelier shine in all it’s simplistic glory.
Life has changed a little bit over the last month and despite a few less hours of sleep, my heart is filled with a little bit more love. To give a little bit of a back story, over the past three years about every three to four months J would mention how great it would be to have a dog. We’d be cooking dinner and he’d say, wouldn’t it be fun to have a dog just laying in the back room keeping us company? Or if we’d go out to a vineyard or any place with open land he’d make a similar sentiment. I always had an excuse. We had some trip coming up or I wanted to enjoy our new furniture without teeth marks or scratches. And although those were legitimate concerns of mine, there was also another big reason and that reason was that we had decided to start trying to expand our family. (A puppy and a baby is a lot to handle.) But the fact is we’ve been trying to expand our family for well over a year… over a year without success.
It’s been a long year + of ups and down and feelings of hope and hopelessness. We’ve both been poked and prodded and yet none of the doctors we’ve met with can explain why we’re having difficulty. It’s been exhausting. And even more exhausting that for some reason it feels embarrassing, it’s a topic that no one discusses, and when you do bring it up, I hear “well at least you’ve got time on your side.”
We’ve tried to stay positive and distract ourselves with vacations, work, a kitchen renovation, and even a deployment– but every month we’re reminded and every month the house seemed to get a little quieter.
So it finally seemed like there was no better time to expand our family and hearts in a different way. After reaching out to a few different breeders, we came across Florence. Florence not only had the cutest little face, her name was on our “list” anyway since it’s J’s hometown, so it seemed like it was meant to be.
We traveled up to meet her, and when her siblings went off to play in the yard, Florence came over to meet us. She’s brought in a little bit more noise to our house, a lot more joy, and one day– hopefully in the not too distant future– she’ll make a great big [fur] sister.
So meet Florence. (Also known as Flo, Flor, Flo-Flo, munchkin, babes,.. and the list of names go on.) She’s a red mini-goldendoodle (F1B) who loves nothing more than to cuddle and chew on the corners of anything she can find. We’re expecting her to be about 25-30 lbs and a medium sized dog, but for now we’re loving her puppy stage and soaking in every puppy kiss she gives!
2 shots apple cider syrup (see first line of recipe below)
1 shot fresh lemon juice
2 strips of orange zest (for the apple cider syrup &/or to garnish)
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 clove, optional
Add the bourbon, apple cider syrup, and lemon juice to the shaker.
Boil the apple cider, 1 cinnamon stick, and orange zest over high heat until reduced. (I boiled two cups down to 3/4 cup). Set aside to chill. Break cinnamon stick in half. Add the bourbon, apple cider syrup, additional cinnamon stick pieces, and lemon juice to the shaker. Add ice above the level of the liquid and shake. Pour over ice and garnish with your choice of a clove, cinnamon stick, or orange peel! Cheers!
So in true ‘me’ fashion I decided to sell our dining chairs a couple days after our reno started. So on top of the kitchen renovation and work, and life, let’s just throw in searching for new dining chairs! I have good news and bad news when it comes to this. Good news is I think that I’ve narrowed down to a style, bad news is there are about a million variations of such style! Gah! So here we are, scrolling away on pinterest and finding some inspo to help narrow down which Windsor to choose. High back, low profile, mid-century inspired… What’s your favorite?
Statement – High Windsor:
Modern – Mid/Low Windsor:
Mid-Century Inspired Windsor:
This is our table for some reference, which is a dark stained solid wood, walnut table with clean lines and angled tapered legs. I love this table, which makes picking out dining chairs that I love just as much a feat!
Kitchen update: We have no more wall, no more holes in the floor, and the drywall is up! We deviated from our project plans just a tad and asked the electrician to add recessed lighting instead of figuring out which fixture to put up. Dedicated lines have been run to the backroom, and we have tons of new outlets! Might sound a little crazy since it’s a dusty mess, but I was almost sad to see the cabinets be installed. The openness is so nice, especially since it felt so cramped for the year we lived here, but big changes are about to start happening every day and all the decisions that I’ve lost sleep over are coming alive!
The countertops, picking out paint colors, choosing a sink and the faucet are all on the horizon and I am happier than a kid on Christmas morning! I’m notorious for making quick decisions– and learned that quick decisions aren’t always the right decision, so I’m feeling reassured that this design process has taken some time. All these decisions are expensive choices to get wrong, so getting them right is important.
Here’s a few more of the choices I’ve made…
Color scheme: As you’ve learned from this post, the color scheme is my favorite of all time… black, white, and gray. Simple and clean.
Appliances: We went primarily with GE Cafe appliances. I’m most excited about counter-depth fridge that is super squared off (read not rounded) and a flat front. Since you’ll see the fridge in the distance as you enter our front door, I didn’t want any water or ice makers butting out. (The GE Cafe fridge still has a filtered water dispenser inside the door which is amazing!) I’m also giddy to use our slide in range. We went with a dual-fuel, six burner range with two ovens. …Yes you read that right, two ovens! With our small footprint, double wall ovens wasn’t an option at all but the GE Cafe range gave us the ability to have two ovens to make future Thanksgiving dinners a little less stressful!
Hardware: All of our appliances are stainless steel including our sink and faucet. I spent many a night looking at different knobs and pulls and decided confidentially to go all black everythannnng. It’s my favorite color and I love the edginess it adds.
Shelving and Decor: During the design phase we went back and forth on open shelving and ultimately I decided to go with shelving in the backroom in addition to adding a piece of my artwork to add dimension. (I’m currently working on a DIY project to frame a canvas – stand by!) The shelf is black, and three tiered and I’m planning to “decorate” with some of my cooking books, glassware, and wood accents.
Paint: Right now most of our house is painted Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. It’s a good neutral, and I’m sure as heck glad that the sellers painted it that shade instead of some crazy colors we saw on our house hunt, but since our kitchen and dining room are in the middle of the house, I’m leaning more toward painting a shade of white. Not stark, but a softer calm shade to brighten the space up.
There’s all the updates I can think of for today but follow along my Instagram for more live happenings! Wish me luck and patience!
Gallery wall, take 2. Last time I gave some tips to consider when creating a well curated gallery wall so today I’m creating a gallery wall and explaining how I picked each piece.
To begin, you have to start with one piece of art. The piece I started with ended up being my anchor piece but that doesn’t have to be the case! Can you guess which one the anchor item is? Ding ding ding… if you guessed the top left, Valley by Jess Engle , you’re correct! This piece immediately jumped out at me and although sure I could have picked it’s mate, I decided to spice things up and build a gallery wall around it.
The white space and shapes are what I used to help decide on the complimenting pieces. For example, the bottom right print, Escape Routes #8 by Massimilano Massimo Borelli, matched the half circle and contained lines. They’re diagonal from each other so it doesn’t look too matchy-matchy but continues the same vibe. The splat print also mimics the lines and diagonal direction. I primarily used black and white pieces of art and photographs, however I pulled the yellow out just a bit more by adding the watercolor, New York Street via Minted. Again the yellow isn’t right next to each other, allowing your eye to venture to all the photographs, not just the ones with yellow. Three of the photographs have a primarily black background, creating a very edgy theme. And the two photographs that feature people, are opposite. One is David Bowie’s face, facing forward, and the other is a man waiting for the train, with his back to us. This opposition also creates a good balance and repetition without being duplicates.
I totally picture this gallery wall in a loft, over this sweet daybed, draped with a mongolian sheep skin in front of some white washed brick scenario. Yeah- I’m taking this gallery wall a little far by now envisioning a whole room around it but hey, a good gallery wall warrants it!
You guys. Demo day is less than a month away! The architect has been by, permits have been pulled, cabinets are being made, appliances are ordered, and it’s now almost not moving fast enough! I wish that it was August 27th, yesterday! Here’s a few images that inspired the end design that we came up with!
We’re going with a shaker style, stacked cabinet. The lower cabinets will be black and uppers white!
Countertops were a debate. We weighed the different materials – granite, marble, quartz and even porcelain! Each material has its own pros and cons but we ultimately decided on quartz. Low maintenance and being able to predict what each slab is going to look like (read: reduce my stress as much as possible) contributed to it became the clear winner! It was SO much fun going through and seeing all the giant slabs in person. So much fun that we changed our minds about 5 times on what we wanted! We narrowed it down to three and then two and after seeing the samples in our space (which I highly recommend because of lighting) and comparing to the color of our cabinets we picked a winner. We’re going with Calacatta Verona quartz!
The veins are lighter than other slabs, yet still defined and will hopefully make a really beautiful match for the island’s waterfall edge and slab backsplash. Which brings me to the next piece of inspiration… backsplashes. Pretty much from the very beginning I knew that I wanted waterfall edges on the island and a slab backsplash. I love the look those two features both create. Unfortunately this meant that we needed to get a second slab to cover the sq. footage, but I thought it was worth the extra cost. Changing to a subway tile (which is everywhere) or some sort of design would change the whole look that I was going for and since our space is smaller, the less busy the better to create an open and larger appearance.
Not all gallery walls are created equal. Sometimes I think they’re too kitschy with the mismatched frames and colors, other times they stop me in my tracks. Like most decor, gallery walls can make or break a room’s vibe. It’s so important that if you’re creating a gallery wall you keep these tried and true tips in the back of your mind during the creation:
Use art that you really love. Art should speak to you and not something that you pick up just because. Plus good art is expensive! Even prints end up adding up when you mat, frame, etc. Sure you can find some good prints and pieces at homegoods, but if you find a piece that makes your heart flutter just go for it because I guarantee you’ll kick yourself for passing it up, or spend hours searching to find it again!
Pick an anchor piece. The anchor piece of art should be the decider of how much cohesion and difference is in your gallery wall. And don’t be fooled- anchor pieces don’t necessarily have to be the biggest piece of artwork on your wall but make sure it’s not lost with the other pieces displayed!
Have the right amount of cohesion and difference. I’m a big fan of mixing mediums and gallery walls is the perfect opportunity to do so. Choose different metal frames, add wood frame in there too. Try to keep it to 2-3 different color frames depending on how many photos are included. Another way to not get too mismatched is to stick with all wood shades, or the same color such as black or white but mixing between wood and metal frames. Always, always mix photography and prints and paintings. Pull out certain colors and/or shapes from your anchor piece to help balance the differences and similarities.
Don’t overwhelm the space. Gallery walls do not need to cover corner to corner. In my collection above I picked 4 pieces that spoke to me. I could have kept adding pieces but I tend to lean toward simple rather than complex. If you have a small wall sometimes adding a bunch of art brings that wall to life. If you have a large wall sometimes adding a bunch of art just looks messy. Make sure you consider other elements in the room when designing and organizing your gallery wall.
I’m in the process of slowly but surely developing a gallery wall in my upstairs guest room. It’s the back room behind my office/closet so I’m having a fun time figuring out the vibe I want back there. I’m thinking modern meets library. Here are a few of my favorite gallery walls done right for some inspiration:
Another house project checked off the ol’ never ending to do list! Completing projects are always satisfying but this DIY project turned out exactly how I imagined. The before and after of our backyard is night and day so I’m super excited to share!
First let’s start with a little before action (look below). How sad!!! Behind our house there’s an alley and vacant brick building. A lot of our neighbors park their cars behind their house so sitting out on the back patio area was never really that relaxing. We watched cars and people go by, and felt like everyone was looking in on us. It wasn’t private, it wasn’t relaxing, and if/when I was sitting out eating dinner at our little bistro set, I was just staring at a line of trash and recycling bins. Not really my first preference of scenery!
In December I started looking at the cost of replacing our fence. Given that we want to start planning our kitchen remodel soon, the $$$$ estimates coming in weren’t really feasible. I started thinking. And googling. And pinteresting. I knew that I could figure out a way to make this chain link fence not so chain link fence-y. I considered purchasing more of the bamboo cover that the right side fence is covered with, but considering I don’t love the look, I opted not to. After running by a few other options with J, we decided to give covering our chain link fence with a wood plank facade a go. So spoiler alert, the chain link fence is still there, you just can’t see it!
So our backyard went from this:
Wondering how we did it? Don’t worry, I’m about to share!
*Disclosure: I would recommend having two people assist in the actual putting together.
Since it’s two swinging doors, and ideally we wanted to still be able to open the doors if needed, we measured each “door” and figured out we needed two sets of 72″ H x 81″ W for each. (We had Home Depot cut the planks to the length that we needed to save a step at home plus it’s free.)
We picked out the stain that we liked, and stained. And stained. And stained for a total of 3 coats on each side. We realllly didn’t want water to warp the planks so we made sure we used up the gallon of stain and then purchased this Thompson Waterproofing spray to seal the deal.
Once all the planks were stained we laid them out and picked the sequence. We wanted to make sure we put the best planks with the coolest wood grains at the top, and ones with drips or nicks at the bottom since they’d be covered by the loveseat or other furniture in the future.
I painted the side posts of the fence an aged bronze/black to go one step further in removing that chain link feel.
We then used the six 1″x3″x6′ boards to create the “frame” on the fence. We braced one on each side, and one positioned in the middle with the brackets at the top and bottom to secure to the fence and prevent the planks from sliding.
Then plank by plank, position, level and screw away! (We used a screwdriver wedged between the planks to create a consistent gap between wood planks.) After we had all the planks up, we sat back and enjoyed the transformation for about 5 minutes before I wanted to get started on gardening 🙂
We went back and forth on whether to position the wood horizontal or vertical, and I’m so happy that we landed on horizontal. It gives it a little bit more of a modern feel, and goes with our patio furniture. I’m debating what we should do with the bamboo covering on the right end, and divider fence on the left… maybe paint them black? Or cover with the faux boxwood screen squares?
If you’re renting, this option doesn’t ruin the existing fence so it’s an awesome option for renters too! If you don’t want to put in the effort there are actually a ton of privacy screen ideas to consider if you want something less permanent or even more affordable than covering your chain link fence! I ordered this faux boxwood screen squares and was pleasantly surprised at how great it looked when I covered the single door next to the wood fence.
The total cost of the fence ran us about $450 for the wood, stain, screws, and brackets which is considerably more affordable than having a company put in a new fence.