After living in our house for over three years, I finally finished off our living room. I had tried a few temporary set-ups using some chairs we had, but I knew the room wouldn’t feel balanced until we introduced a couch.
Thankfully, the Wayfair Way Day sale at the end of April gave me just the push (and price!) I needed to finally pull the trigger. After much research, I went with this white sofa – and I couldn’t be happier. I am so happy with it, in fact, that I decided to resume blogging after a year hiatus – huzzah!
The reviews on this particular sofa were outstanding – and it looks just like the Pottery Barn Carlisle sofa that I have been eyeing for a few years, at a fraction of the price. I was nervous that a sofa may feel too big in this space, but the white fabric and interesting shape actually make the room even brighter – and therefore, larger. It is also insanely comfortable. It gives the front room the light and airy, yet polished vibe I was looking for.
Last week we had to choose the floor stain which was REALLY HARD. The wood floors will be throughout the entire first and second floor and are not easy to refinish – so we have to like it. Plus, they set the tone for the whole house. After seeing the the unfinished wood installed in the house, we loved how the light bounced off the light floors and kept the space nice and bright. We also knew we wanted light floors to keep the dog scratches down to a minimum (my friends with really dark floors love the look, but hate what their dogs and kids can to do them!).
So I scrolled through dozens and dozens of photos on Houzz finding finishes I liked, like so (right?!):
Only to realize that the base wood product was different than the red oak which was installed in our house, so it is going to absorb the stain differently and have a different overall appearance – which makes a whole lotta sense. So then I dove deeper into Houzz and researched red oak and some specific Minwax Stains I had in mind, which is when I found this baby, light and clean without looking unfinished:
So I relayed this to our contractor and he put some samples down of the Classic Gray Minwax and the Pickled Oak Minwax:
The Pickled Oak was pretty, but I was afraid the floors would look unfinished in that stain – the pink of the red oak was still very prevalent. The Classic Gray looked great, but it was much darker than what we were looking for. So next on the sample board was a 50/50 mix of the Pickled Oak and Classic Gray, as well as some Provincial Stains as I wasn’t sure I wanted to totally rule a brown tone out just yet:
The 50/50 Classic Gray and Pickled Oak mixture was exactly right; it kept the floor light enough that the space wouldn’t feel too heavy without being so light that it looked unfinished – and it is interesting. Now if only I could have realized that before I picked the Classic Gray, had a major freak out moment, and then went back and changed it to the mixture – whoopsies, luckily they had not started yet…
We wanted more of a matte finish to show some texture and keep the floors from ambering later on, so the floor installer used a water-based satin sealant as opposed to an oil-based high gloss. Here is what the final product looks like:
The cabinetry is being installed today and I can’t wait to see how they all look together. Heeeere’s hoping! I hope this post saves anyone else an ulcer that is trying to pick their stain.
Now that all the tile is installed (!!), we had to head over to the house to choose the grout colors that will be poured next week. Here is a glimpse into the master bath (as it currently stands).
The photo on the left is a corner of the Master Shower, which I am very excited about. We wanted to create a calm oasis, if you will, and this arabescato carrara marble seems to do the trick. The photo on the right is a view from the entrance. The shower sits in the nook at the top left of the photo, with a tub (that we will never use) centered as the focus. Not seen: a window over the tub, which seemed like a great idea during the planning phase (yay natural light!), but in reality is a front row seat for our neighbors to hang out on their balcony and get a free show (note to self: make appt with a window treatment company immediately). The tile on the actual floor of the bathroom is an Eleganze Varese tile, which is meant to look like poured concrete. This should look pretty cool (fingers crossed) contrasting the hard and industrial concrete look against the soft and elegant marble. Next up: choosing the hardwood floor stain!
Whoops! Looks like someone (and I’m not going to name names) forgot she had a blog. I have been super busy at work/ working on the house that I am a bit behind…
Anyways, I have been stresssssing out while on the search for the perfect white paint color for the walls. Who knew there are so many shades of white? Luckily, it seems I am not the only one who has faced this dilemma and found some great advice on the interwebs from the Hunted Interior, Thistlewood Farms, and of course Houzz.
Since there is already going to be a lot going on in the kitchen with the black & white cabinets/counter tops, I wanted to use white as a nice grounding color for those louder elements and let them breathe a bit. I, like everyone else lately, am a big fan of grey as a neutral, but did not want to add one more color of weight into the mix. Confusing?
Here is the space as it currently is – the progress has been amazing btw.
Plus the space is already inviting and bright with just the drywall that I would not want to take away the lightness of the space with a darker color. Alas, the white.
Now added to the list of things I never thought I would care about: mullions. Most of you are probably asking “What the h are mullions??” and a few weeks ago, I would have been in that exact same boat. Mullions, you see, are window grilles. But what the h are window grilles? Window grilles are simply the pattern that goes into (or not) your windows. Por ejamplo:
The first step of the process was to decide: do you want any mullions? Sure, why not? I actually have always liked the look without ever really knowing what they were. I like that mullions can add a bit of interest to your facade without being something so in-your-face. Just a nice delicate touch.
Step 2: what color do you want your mullions? Ughhhh. Well, the windows will be black, so how about black? But do you want true black or black bronze? Oye.
Step 3: do you want these mullions applied to your window, integral which is within the pane of the glass, or true separated light (meaning that instead of just adding a grid on top of one large window, the grid outlines 15 mini panes of glass – ie $$$ cha ching). How about applied? Oooh about that, we just looked into your windows and that’s no longer an option. Okay, integral it is.
Step 4: now where exactly on the house do you want these mullions? Everywhere? Okay, but that will cost extra (of course). Ooookay, how about just the front and back facades? But do you want them on every window on both facades? AHHHH!!
This is where I jumped ship because a la Jay Cutler I just “dooooon’t caaaaare.” Then I thought about it some more – well I will be living in this house…I want to enjoy it….maybe I would regret not putting these in.
Alas, Step 5: Research the hell out of Houzz and see if anything resonates with you. I was putting in search phrases which, surely, no one has ever bothered to type in the history of the internet: exterior french door mullions,grilles, window patterns; living room sliding glass doors; back of house windows; mixed window mullions. So here are a few of my favorite grillz that are awesome, but would probably never work on our skinny mini house:
Do you remember when Brooke Hogan had grillz? Or let me try that again: do you remember Brooke Hogan?
Now I know you are on the edge of your seat after reading this really important, mind-bending of a story…SO we ended up going with Colonial style errywhere on the front and the back. All colonial everything.
So next on the to-do list is to confirm all the plumbing fixture choices for the house. I thought I would have an opinion about this and let me tell you, I just don’t; except for the brass faucet I ordered for the powder room.
Brass is so back – is there anything chicer than black and gold? Obviously that’s what Wiz Khalifa was referring to in his song “Black & Yellow.” I wish I could make all the faucets in the house brass, but alas, the husband isn’t too fond of the look and always taunts me with Goldmember Austin Powers quote, “I loooove goooold!!” And he is absolutely right.
Anyways, we will be going with the Moen Kingsley in the “antique bronze” finish. It is just the right shade of gold – not too shiny, not too yellow – and fits right into the Parisian Bistro powder room experience I am going for. Yes, an experience (my dream job was to be an imagineer, after all).
Everything else in the house will be stainless steel or chrome; I actually prefer chrome in the bathrooms as it lends itself to a nice retro vibe. I’m still trying to work in a brass faucet for the kitchen (it’s so on point), but I might just have to let this one go…
Now that construction has actually started, we thought it might be time to get our ducks in a row and start nailing down some finishes. On our contractor’s recommendation, we ventured out to Stone City in Humboldt Park after a deeelightful breakfast at WHISK (those salty caramel pancakes – omg!).
Upon entering the warehouse, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Marble! Granite! Quartzite! Galore! It was so cool to see and touch these giant slabs o rock. It was a very educational trip and Lizette, of Stone City, was an absolute gem to work with.
Here is what we learned.
If you want Calacutta Gold Marble look, consider: 1. White Mystery Marble 2. Eureka Danby Marble
Calacutta Gold is currently the most in-demand marble on the market for its obvious good looks and warm tones, so unfortunately, that also makes this Italian marble the most expensive. We wanted to use this slab for our kitchen island – which is rather large at 4’x11′, so any type of savings would help. With that in mind, we discovered Mystery White Marble, which also had the same characteristics as CG, but with a whiter base – and here’s the kicker – half the price tag. Mystery White is also sometimes called Misty White. Eureka Marble (sometimes called Danby) has a more dramatic, darker veining, but also the same warm tones as Calacatta Gold, at also half the price. We also learned that the largest slab we could get would be ten feet – so in order to achieve the seamless, one slab look we are going to resize our island to 10′. These stones are also sourced in the US – Vermont to be specific.
Our kitchen finish design has a darker, contrasting counter on the perimeter. I wanted something a little rougher to contrast with the smooth marble, so I was thinking a soapstone would do the trick. Here is what we learned.
If you want the Soapstone look, consider: 1. Honed, Virginia Mist Granite
Soapstone is a very porous material, which means that it would quickly absorb stains into the stone itself and require a lot of maintenance. I, personally, am a little of tired of the granite look, but the Honed version is so different. It has a matte finish and really looks more like a soapstone or concrete. Granite is also one of the most durable materials on the market – with a much smaller price tag than the soapstone. With the Virginia Mist (also sometimes called Jet Black) we can achieve that same look with more durability and spending less. Honed granite FTW!
Here are some real kitchens found on Houzz using these materials for your perusing pleasure.
I have always had a penchant for vintage things with loads of character, but after taking Woodworking 101 at the ReBuilding Exchange in the Spring, I want salvaged everything. I took the class with my future sis-in-law and we absolutely loved it. We hand selected our own timber and used real badass power tools over the course of the 4 week class. I will eventually be using my tabletop as the basement bar counter top – chyea! Sidenote: if you live in the Chicago area and have never visited the ReBuilding Exchange – GO! I have found many a pieces there for projects – including the mantel that turned into our headboard and is my favorite project to date.
So naturally, I now feel compelled to sprinkle the magic of reclaimed wood all over the new house: the recipe for instant character. I have already designed built-ins around the family room fireplace that will be using the wood pieces as counter top and shelving (contrasted against white cabinetry) which I am incredibly stoked for. Also, as mentioned above, I will be using the tabletop piece I made in class as the counter top for the wet bar in the basement – I also plan on taking a trip to ReBuilding Exchange to select a few thick pieces to turn into open shelving above the cabinets. I have been hemming and hawing about adding beams in the family room or the master bedroom and I think we are settled on the master (I was worried the dark beams would bring down the ceiling height in the family room). So without further ado, here are some of my fav uses of salvaged wood that I found on the interwebs that will *hopefully* be incorporated more or less into House Wagner 2.0.