Kitchen Renovation Inspiration

{kitchen design sketch}

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!

Two-Toned Kitchen Renovation Design Ideas

Controversial Kitchen Design Decisions That People Love to Argue About

MHouseInc | Westover Hill Residence

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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!

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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.

Calacatta Verona Default Scene

Love the white recess-panelled cabinetry in this kitchen! {Photography by Donna Griffith}

Step inside the midcentury home of the founders of Rifle Paper Co. // Anna Rifle Bond's gorgeous Lacanche Range

Image result for calacatta verona quartz price

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Now that the big stuff is figure out it’s time to make a decision on hardware, faucet, sink and a wall shelf for the back room! Stand by for those posts!

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Gallery Wall – Modern Mood

 

From Right to Left: Harrison by JYoung Design House | Mid Century Modern via Etsy | Storm Clouds II by Sara Beckley and Laura Else | Little Bird in my Garden by Frederic Belaubre

 

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  

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Virginia Farms & Libraries

287 Old Bethel Rd, Edinburg, VA 22824

Tell me this thing isn’t beautiful. The front porch, the transoms around the door- ah! It takes you back to a bygone era where sitting on the front porch with a glass of lemonade didn’t have to be pre-planned and scheduled into your day. My gosh golly this house makes me want to stop tinkering around with ours and just move on out to the Virginia/West Virginia line. The stained glass, screened in porch, exposed beams – it’s all too good! I got some good messages from the previous post I did explaining some of my design ideas so I figured I’d do it again with this old farmhouse built in 1896 on more than 6 acres! The wheels were turning as I clicked through the post’s pictures and for less than $350k, this house really only needs a little bit of TLC. A couple cans of paint would do wonders, maybe some fun wallpaper or antique finds but who ever buys this house… please please please don’t knock down the walls. Don’t do anything to those beams, and please don’t replace the stained glass windows. In old homes like these I envision taking it back to the way it was intended. Working from home was working on the land at this estate so here’s my idea for an office/library in this room with these beautiful windows…

287 Old Bethel Rd, Edinburg, VA 22824

I’d keep the wood floors (they’re in perfect condition from the looks of it), build up the shelves to the ceiling and fill them with books, color coordinated of course., and probably give them a fresh new stain- potentially in a richer shade of brown. Remove the old ceiling fan and replace with a light fixture like this or keep a fan and replace with this one, wallpaper the remaining walls, and add some very old school furniture that you can’t help but curl up with a book on.

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Headshot Ready with Smile Brilliant

 

As someone who has found themselves in front of a camera lense quite a few times you’d think that I’d be jumping at the chance to update my professional headshot after my recent promotion but instead I was instantly stricken with the reality that my teeth are not as white as I’d like them to be. I started pondering – is there a teeth whitening that don’t cost an arm and a leg and provide real results?! Yes, yes there is!

Insert: Smile Brilliant. The easy, at-home teeth whitening program that made me go from closed mouth smiling to a proud owner of a headshot showing off my pearly whites!

 

The system is foolproof, seriously.  I was sent the package which included super easy instructions and I just went down the steps.

Smile Brilliant sends you a package with all the materials including an extra catalyst and base which totally came in handy. The first mixture I didn’t mix up well enough so it was a bust learning experience.

Step 1: Using one catalyst and one base you mix until they are totally blue. You might see a little bit of white marbling in the mixture is fine because if you mix for too long, they’ll harden and you won’t be able to make your impressions.

Step 2: Place the mixture in the trays. You have a top and a bottom tray and I recommend really trying to evenly distribute the mixture within 30 seconds. As soon as you’re done with step 2, move onto Step 3 fast and furiously! i.e. Don’t spread the mixture on top first, and then spread the mixture for the bottom tray. Don’t try to do them both at once! 

Step 3: You’re all ready to make your impressions! Press evenly into your teeth with your fingers, but be careful not to BITE down. The mixture will flow over into your teeth and gums. Hold in place for about 2-3 minutes. You’ll start to feel the mixture hardening, which will make it easier to gently pull the mixture out of your mouth without wiggling! i.e. don’t wiggle- it can mess up your impressions!

Step 4: After removing your trays from your mouth (without wiggling) check to make sure that your impressions clearly show your teeth front to back. If you see any error, you may use the tray again by removing the impressions and starting over with the extra set of catalyst and base that Smile Brilliant provides to you! After letting the impression sit for about 30-40 minutes (read until hard) you rinse under cool water, let dry, and ship them off!

Before Smile Brilliant:

After Smile Brilliant:

Once you’re sent your custom-fitted trays, you use a little bit of the whitening gel and desentizing gel each time.  I used Smile Brilliant for about 3 weeks for every other day before my headshot pictures. After week one I started to see a difference and after 5 weeks now I can’t stop #smilingfearlessly because I feel more confident in my smile and I have fun new headshots to use!

A few tips for a successful Smile Brilliant experience:

  1. Brush and floss your teeth- super important since you want to get the best and most accurate impressions!
  2. If you have a sensitive gag reflex, be sure to not just have eaten or drank anything heavy. While you’re doing the impressions the mixture does expand in your mouth a little bit so just be aware!
  3. Have a book or something to do that doesn’t require talking while you’re whitening your teeth! Talking isn’t really an option unless you don’t mind not sounding like yourself.
  4. Don’t try to use the whole whitening and/or desensitizing gels at once! Spread them out over time to make it last plus it’s way too much to use all at once!

 

Have I sold you yet?! Do you want to be headshot ready and #smilefearlessly?! Well then go ahead enter my GIVEAWAY  for $149 Smile Brilliant credit, open to USA, UK, Australia and Canadian residents! If you just can’t wait for the GIVEAWAY  to close and you want to get started on whitening your teeth, click on the image below and enter promo code: chelseacollection15 at checkout for 15% off your Smile Brilliant kit! Good luck!


Tooth Whitening Gel

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

We aren’t so good at planning vacations in advance. We kick around an idea for a week or two and next thing you know we have a flight booked and less than a month to figure out what we’re going to do in Germany. Yes, this year’s European adventure will be walking the Berlin wall, frolicking around Prussian Palaces and taking in all the beer… I mean culture!

Luckily, I have some tried and true travel tips & go to outfits that require no additional advance planning! Here are my top five, never-deviate-from travel tips:

  1. Hydrate: I’ve read that a plane cabin is drier than the Sahara Desert (seriously!) so I make sure to start hydrating days before I step foot into the airport. A few days before flights I start really focusing on loading up my skin and body with as much hydration as possible. I love rich oils and serums to deeply moisturize my face and hands and always pack them in my carry-on. I literally walk around with a water bottle making sure my body is getting at least the recommended 8, 8 oz. glasses of H2O a day and I typically purchase a bottle post security once I’m settled at my gate.
  2. Snacks: Typical airline snacks such as nuts, crackers, pretzels or chips are loaded with salt which is just going to zero out all the hydration work you put in. Pack a healthy snack such as homemade trail mix, carrot sticks or herbal tea bags. Packing snacks that aren’t high in sugar, carbs, and dairy will decrease inflammatory conditions and help to ensure you aren’t starting your trip off with a fresh blemish!
  3. Sanitizing Wipes: I don’t know why in the world this one took me so long to incorporate into my travelling, but packs of sanitizing wipes were basically made for traveling. Wipe down your seat, your hands, anything you want to prevent you from getting sick! Plus they’re only about a dollar so they won’t hit your vacation budget!
  4. Scarves: If you’re traveling in the winter packing a scarf is a no brainer but I love to travel with a pashmina or cape/blanket scarf any time of the year! The dry air and temperature in the cabin changes so quickly it’s nice to have something to cover up with if you get a little chilly on your flight!
  5. Comfort is Key: This is kind of a no brainer, but wear comfortable clothes (see tip above) and shoes that are easy to travel in. I recommend closed toe shoes that are easy to slip in and out of like mules or slip on sneakers so your toes won’t get run over by luggage. For longer flights I typically pack a pair of compression socks and put them on soon after take off before my feet can start swelling if I haven’t hydrated well enough!

I know these aren’t ground breaking tips but they’ve worked for me over the years and hopefully will be just a little friendly reminder if you have an upcoming trip planned! Safe travels!!

 

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Rouge

You’re never going to believe how much I practically s t o l e this look for. Top, pants, AND shipping came out to $30.03. Seriously! I can’t make this up! I saw the top featured in an instagram post and watched for my LikedtoKnow.it email to arrive in my inbox like a hawk. I knew the silky satin material of the cold shoulder top would be so romantic for date nights and perfect to throw on for holiday dinners this winter. I followed the link and to my surprise  the top was on sale for $12! I was even more surprised when I saw on the side of the screen these pants for a whopping 80 cents more! You better believe I was doing a happy dance, almost frantically clicking to check-out in case the pieces were priced in error! Both the top & pants for under $13 a piece… talk about a deal!!

I don’t visit Kohls often, but after this purchase I am definitely going to keep my eye on the LC Lauren Conrad collection. I mean how cute is this dress?! And these oxblood velvet leggings would be so sassy for Christmas dinner – not to mention the elastic waist would be oh so perfect for going back for seconds! A lot of the pieces out there right now are in blush, burgundy and navy shades which all are on my love list. I’ve linked a few of my favorites below, most of which are under $50, and my outfit details! Happy savings!..I mean shopping!!

 

LC Lauren Conrad Picks:

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Autumn Date Night in the City

You know all of the places that you pass every day and about every third day you say to yourself “I really should go there.” Yeah, that’s me. Every day to and from work I pass Gallaudet, Union Market, NoMA and tons of other little streets that I cannot wait to explore. But so often either I’m too tired, need to laundry, or something else “prevents” me from just going there!

One random night the other week it was like everything was working in my favor. I left work at a reasonable time with sunlight still shining, I wasn’t sitting in hours of traffic, the weather was just about perfect, and we had nothing to do. (Well, at least no chores that we wanted to do.) Insert: We had no excuse not to try out a new place for a spur of the moment date night! We strolled through Gallaudet University, which is beautiful – the campus is so much bigger than I assumed, and the grounds are really well kept- and made our way to Union Market. We did a round and decided to pick out a few cheese, order a glass of wine, and found a little table outside to enjoy our spread from Righteous Cheese. We sat, talked, and tried to keep our phones away for a couple of hours to enjoy the beautiful fall evening together!

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Belle

Back during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, my mom, sister, and I had a girls day shopping and celebrating  her birthday. It almost felt like years ago when we went out together back to school shopping and since my mom now lives far away from us, she wanted to buy us each a new top keep the back to school shopping feel going. This beauty immediately caught my eye and I have been counting down the days until the temperatures cool a tad to be able to wear it.

The color reminds me so much of the final dress Belle wore in Beauty and the Beast… which I finally watched! I was this close to booking a trip to the French countryside after that movie. So good! But back to this top-  I don’t have that much yellow in my wardrobe but after buying this golden yellow top and this sunshine yellow dress (now on major sale!) for a wedding this past summer, I know I need a lot more of it!

  

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Fall Shopping List

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I totally should not be shopping for clothes right now after doing a major furniture purchasing spree, but I just can’t help myself when it comes to big seasonal changes like Fall. The rich colors, thicker fabrics, and opportunity to layer has me all sorts of excited. I’ve tried to buy strategic pieces 1. Because it’ll help keep my bank account at a whimper instead all out screaming at me and 2. I don’t have the closet space anymore so I need to purchase items that are classics and able to be mixed and matched.
After many seasons of watching this J.Crew camel blazer, I finally pulled the trigger. I’m excited to style throughout the different seasons but especially for this Fall. I’m thinking jeans and white tee for the weekends and paired with these forest green pants & a blouse for work! I’ve been loving the newsboy cap trend right now. There are some super cute & affordable ones out there right now (like this ASOS one!) and if you’re unsure of the look, you can always give your baseball cap an upgrade with this cool one!
P.S. This scarf is under $10 & comes in three different patterns!

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Save vs Splurge – Chandelier Edition

 

While our almost 100 year old row home is in great condition, and it’s evident the previous owners really took care of it, there was one major thing that they did that completely bugs the heck out of me. (Even more so than the dated kitchen appliances!) They bought fans and light fixtures that are completely the wrong size – either entirely too big for the rooms, hanging down too low, or just plain ugly. I don’t know if it was what was on sale or if their taste is really that different than what mine is, but I knew switching out light fixtures and fans were a top priority!

Since we just recently settled on and purchased a dining table, my search for a chandelier and wall sconces are in full force! (I can’t wait to get rid of the fan they put over the dining table. Talk about cold food!) Here’s the first “Save vs Splurge” post rounding up some really pretty chandeliers & pendants to hang over your dining table! It’s amazing that if you want a certain look for a certain price, it’s out there! Or if you want to splurge because you know it’ll just make the room – go for it! Either way, pick the one that you love because lighting really makes or breaks a room!

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