Kitchen Update, continued

Removing stainless backsplash

We are working on a very minimum (read: less expensive) “renovation” of our kitchen. To save money we are keeping all appliances, all cabinets and only replacing the granite countertops, faucet, and stainless backsplash. We will have a professional cabinet maker (thanks, dad!) repaint/repair only the cabinet doors that have water damage and otherwise we aren’t making any other changes to the space. That is the plan. Our budget was <$15,000 for this entire project including labor, freight shipping on stone, materials, fabrication and new fixtures, but as of now I’m tracking to $13,500 total and that is my expected total cost (or less).

I found the stone at Marmi Natural Stone channeling Waterworks Prunella Keystone. The stone that I selected is called Calacatta Violette and is the same material as the Waterworks Prunella. We were able to make two, 2 cm, honed and cracked (yes, cracked) pieces work for our kitchen to save a bit of money. The slabs were shipped from Marmi and arrived at our fabricator Stone City (Chicago) last week.

Stone City just taped up the slabs for approval.

Slab from Marmi taped up by Stone City Chicago

I have done this entire project remotely and have seen nothing in person yet, only online pictures.

I have yet to see these slabs in person!

This weekend we attempted to DIY the removal of our stainless backsplash. It was honestly really tough! We got 50% of the way through which is great, but we had to call in some help for the second half. It is still not complete.

The stainless backsplash is in process of being removed

The stainless backsplash was glued to the wall and behind the stove it was loose. This wall is now completely removed. We used an industrial suction cup (for removing glass) to pull the stainless out. We also used a heat gun, but unclear how much that helped us. The wall behind the sink is not done. We couldn’t get that off.

It took 2-days to take off this backsplash and we did minor damage

Wow. My husband did a lot of work here. It was hard and time-consuming. But – it was “FREE”! Only one more piece of stainless left to remove. Theoretically, it should be easier because it is smaller and a simple rectangle shape, but it is glued down more, behind the faucet, and it’s currently not lifting up for us.

Paint scratch from removal that we will repair

It was frustrating to scrape the paint on the cabinets, but my dad assured me that this wasn’t such a big deal (we can fix it). We will have a professional tile this wall. I have not selected tiles yet! Please send ideas! The wall behind the sink will be a slab of the Prunella / Calacatta Violette marble. I’m leaning towards cream fired square tiles for behind the stove.

Kitchen Update

Slowly renovating our kitchen on a budget

One of our first projects after we moved into our apartment was opening up our kitchen by removing the overhead cabinets. The cabinets were wired for lighting and were heavy, but otherwise the removal was relatively straightforward. (That being said, my dad and husband did the heavy lifting so I was merely watching!)

Before: Our kitchen

The kitchen is relatively small so the overhead cabinets took up a lot of space and closed off the kitchen even more than it already was.

After: We think this made a huge difference in opening up the space!

The peninsula granite has a hole in it from where electrical was previously installed in the breadbox – slightly annoying, but certainly not unlivable. We’ve gotten great use out of this kitchen for just over a year, and I’m ready to upgrade within budget. I have had the hardest time justifying an upgrade in this kitchen given how timeless it already is, but with a tight budget we were comfortable moving forward.
Our current Rohl faucet is badly leaking, so we removed the regulator to allow the water to flow more freely (vs. spray in all directions) and found a replacement faucet from Devol Kitchens. I wrote about our new faucet here. It was much cheaper than alternative options in the U.S. by Rohl on build.com and we saved a material amount of money importing this faucet from the UK, including duty and shipping. We went with with a similar Rohl faucet in unfinished brass with a separate spray. We will DIY remove and install to save $450 (the quote we received from our fabricator).

Our new faucet from Devol Kitchens, by Rohl, in un-lacquered brass

We are planning to keep our current Shaw’s farmhouse sink and all of our appliances, replacing only the counters and backsplash with honed marble. When we were working on our bathrooms, I found a material at Waterworks that I really loved. The material has become relatively “trendy” now, but I really like it and generally my philosophy is that everything including gray / white eventually looks dated so I’d prefer to just do what I want today and “use it up”.

Inspiration counter from Waterworks Chicago and a slab from Marmi Natural Stone

After some google image searching, I found two slabs at Marmi Natural Stone that matched my vision and I’ve worked with them to procure our materials. We are working with Stone City in Chicago on the fabrication and installation. Stay tuned!

The den, plaid makeover

Plaid carpet install

The den has been in process for quite some time and not including the kitchen, the last room to finish, but we have a great base with the walls painted Railings by Farrow & Ball to layer on mixed plaid and cozy this room up! As a reminder, this is what the room looked like before we got started. 

The den, from the listing photo

It is amazing to think that our cozy den was once a bedroom!

The first thing we did was paint the space and remove all traces of gray

It still makes me sad that the homeowner painted the entire home gray to sell it, just for me to immediately re-paint, but alas – the gray is gone, and so is the pink square that the mirror was hiding… 

The carpet selection for this room was simple. I knew I wanted a modern plaid rug in a navy tone and was immediately drawn to a carpet from Stark that could be custom cut to fit the room perfectly. 

From selection to installation, the Stark carpet was in place within one month

We had a couple of real-time decisions to make as the carpet was being installed. Namely, whether or not we left the “tail” of carpet alongside the fireplace and behind the door. While it is relatively “skinny” I decided to keep the tail as the door is often open and I wanted to see the carpet extend behind the door. I also did not want the door to get caught up on the edge of the carpet when opening and closing. After months of living with this carpet, I am happy we kept the tail. 

We debated keeping this “tail” or cutting it short and decided to keep it

The addition of the carpet made such a difference in this room and I am so happy with it. It is a perfect compliment to the Railings paint color. 

The carpet is a perfect match to the Railings paint from F&B

Still in process is a cornflower blue pull-out couch from Avery Boardman that will be delivered soon. Once the couch is in place I will select chairs from Chairish (or Ebay) to re-upholster.

Stark carpet in place, waiting for furniture

I’ve narrowed down the fabric to a selection of Colefax and Fowler plaids, pictured below. They all coordinate well with the couch fabric (below, bottom right), and the carpet. I’m debating introducing more than one plaid and am thinking about it all as a big mix and match project. It needs to coordinate, but it doesn’t need to match perfectly. 

Swatches from Colefax and Fowler and our chosen couch fabric from Manuel Canovas, bottom right

Keeping in mind the art that we selected for the room, I am leaning towards the plaid on the top right of the image above for side chairs. The fabric has a sense of plum which helps to pull in the tones of the artwork and it feels like a better coordinating fit, to me. 

Stephanie Hier artwork in the den, wall painted Railings by F&B

Once the couch is delivered and in place, I will make the final decision. I’m enjoying taking my time on this project! 

Halloween Chic

Simple Halloween decor that is classic and spooky

Our Halloween decorations were all sourced from Michael’s craft store. We spent less than $100 and will use all of the decorations again next year. I wanted to bring in the “spooky” and “freaky” without making the decor too dark or sensational, and on a white bookcase it was impossible to make the decor too dark anyway, so I worked with what we had and even incorporated some of our usual shelf decor, that with the black fabric looked spooky too!

The hand mannequin that is always on our shelf looks spookier with the Halloween colors

I flipped all of our books so that black, white and red bindings were the only visible colors facing out. I removed all items from our shelves that were out of the color scheme and hid them below. I layered a combination of black fabric, black stuffing and faux fall leaves across the shelves with a mix of styrofoam (read: cheap) skeleton heads, black crows and a “bag of bones” nestled in a chicken wire box.

All of the books turned out or face forward were red, white and black / B&W

The black stuffing went a long way to elevate basic shelves to Halloween chic with the mix of faux leaves. Be sure to stand the leaves up in the stuffing so that you can see them from afar vs. simply laying them down flat.

Leaves standing up in the black stuffing add more color and texture than leaves laying flat

The crows were a fun addition to the shelves and we were able to tuck a few away in some “surprise” places throughout the house.

A crow perched atop the Sapiens bookcase

Each fireplace mantle was decorated differently with a combination of small pumpkins, white and orange, and more faux fall leaves. In total, I used four bags of the faux leaves and they went a long way. I took all of the extra leaves and piled them at the edge of the fireplace on the ground.

Out of frame is a pile of faux leaves at the base of the den fireplace

The dining room fireplace was decorated with faux leaf branches from Michaels and a line of orange and white striped pumpkins from the patch!

The faux leaves look real against the [real] mini orange and white striped pumpkins on the dining room fireplace

The dark Calla Lillies that we always have in our living room in their bone vases look perfect for Halloween! The white pumpkins are simple and sweet. 

Friendly “Halloween” flowers in the kitchen

All of our mini pumpkins were purchased at the pumpkin patch. We bought 15 of these minis and scattered them through the house!

All of our pumpkins were cleaned before we placed them around the house. 

While we will have to toss the pumpkins at the end of the season, all of the other decor can be stored for next year. 

In our entry, we nested a bundle of dried corn against a cluster of larger pumpkins and more faux leaves

Happy Halloween!

Living Room Layout 2.0

Restoration Hardware Nea rugs and furniture layout

We’ve made progress on the living room layout since I last posted about it here. It is a particularly challenging floorplan because this room is effectively 1.5x size with 1.5 seating areas and a fireplace. Initially I had arranged the furniture with a chaise couch in the center, but ultimately the back of the couch was too high and it was awkwardly splitting the room. This was made most apparent when the rugs were delivered.

Before the rug was delivered, our layout looked something like this

The rugs are from Restoration Hardware Teen, called “Nea”. Strangely, while they are on sale, they are also back-ordered for months, which makes me wonder if they are the made-for-sale type rugs that are never intended to be full price and are perpetually always on “sale”. In any case, they are priced better than all the other RH rugs I saw, so I bought them and they look good. I bought two, 9×12 rugs for this room. The intention was to provide for two seating areas and to save money by not buying a custom rug to fill the whole room.

First RH Nea rug in place is already poorly framing my intended layout

I was committed to make this green couch work because it is ❤ years old and was intended to be a flexible piece of furniture that could fit “anywhere” because it is a chaise, and a smaller profile, etc. I first bought this couch from Room & Board in 2016 for a rental loft. I wanted something that would transition into any home and not be “too big”. However, this room was probably one of the more challenging spots to fit this couch and I found myself thinking more than once we’d have to get a new one.

Initially intended that this couch would divide the room, but the room is slightly too small

Thankfully, the new layout finally clicked into place and it works great. In hindsight, the layout is obvious, but it wasn’t initially so.

This layout is more open and proportionate

There were many false starts on layouts that looked terrible. I stepped away, looked at a few decorating books and magazines, and it finally clicked into place. We made one last transition and it worked.

The throw makes a world of difference!

A throw from Barney’s, purchased with a wedding gift card (thanks Cayla, Brad and Jeff!) softened up the room and tied in the Bowood chairs that are currently placed out of frame ( on the second rug).

Barney’s throw pulls in the Bowood chairs (out of frame)

 

Living Room Layout

The seating area is coming together with the addition of artwork and furniture transitioned from the loft. As a reminder, this is what the living room looked like in the listing (staged).

Living room in the listing photo

And, the living room when we moved in:

Delivery day!

The living room offers a good amount of space and light but as I’ve mentioned before, the paint job was not high quality (stray painters tape, drips and drops) and I am not a fan of gray, so our first step was to paint the entire space Wimborne White and start FRESH.

The moldings, walls and ceilings were all painted Farrow & Ball Wimborne White

The paint made a huge difference in unifying the space and making the moldings pop!

A fresh coat of paint unified and brightened up the space 

The paint brightened up the space and highlighted the woodwork, providing a great fresh slate for furniture and art, beginning with the Pink Eyeshadow Monkey.

The Pink Eyeshadow Monkey fit perfectly in this nook (Ralph Lauren upholstery)

The living room will have two seating areas and each will be anchored with two matching rugs. After some time spent swatching, I decided on two Restoration Hardware Teen rugs that were on sale in 10×12 size. Unfortunately they will not be delivered until August, but they were relatively well priced and the colors fit the space.

Our choice RH rug with neighboring fabric swatches and papers (Gucci, Room & Board)

We faced the chairs away from the fireplace which is a trick I first noticed at Twin Farms in Vermont and I like it here because it includes the couch in the conversation vs. facing the chairs towards the fireplace and away. The Sapien bookcase, artwork and furniture came together nicely to frame the fireplace until the rug comes in.

Final furniture layout in first seating area, pending rug

Our real estate agent purchased the horn vases for us in Africa, the bookcase is an Amazon find, the coffee table was a floor sample from Molteni, the chairs were reupholstered in Ralph Lauren fabric and the chaise couch is from Room & Board.

almost forgot. 🙂

I almost forgot the flowers!

Master Bedroom

Art finds a home in a traditional space

The master bedroom was painted Wimborne White and is a great fresh slate for art, which was installed last weekend!
As a reminder, this is where the master bedroom started:

astor bedroom 2
The master bedroom was all floral in the listing photo

Today it is a fresh slate, painted Wimborne White, for art, and for a more modern aesthetic, in a traditional space.

Farrow & Ball Wimborne White wall, perfect for hanging art

My favorite piece of art that we own has found a new home in this room. This piece is by Charles Mayton, who is represented by David Lewis Gallery.

Charles Mayton, David Lewis Gallery

A great improvement from the faded florals of yesterday!