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.

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!

DIY: A 1930s desk with leather top

Restored

We found a beautiful desk at Father Time Antiques. The desk is from the 1930s and had a green leather top that was in good, but not perfect condition. The desk fit our room perfectly, has a great classic look with history and was on budget at $195.

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Father Time Antiques desk from 1930s with leather top, $195

After doing some research, I decided to replace the leather top myself with a new black leather top with gold tooling. I had a great experience doing this, it was easy, and the results speak for themselves.

My first step was to vacuum and sand out the interior of the desk and drawers. I waxed and polished the wood and lined the drawers with cork. It initially had a musty smell but that completely dissipated after these steps were complete. I am sure it also helped to have the drawers on the floor for a week airing out.

Cork-lined drawers with bakelite handles

When I removed the leather top, I noticed there was water damage on one area of the desk where the wood felt “soft”. I cut this area out with a utility knife and replaced the veneer with a piece I found on Amazon.

I removed water damaged veneer and replaced with a new piece of wood from Amazon

I measured the space with a piece of magazine, and cut the veneer with a pair of kitchen scissors.

New veneer in place and sanded

I glued the new piece of veneer with wood glue and placed heavy books on top. Then, I filled the edges with wood putty and sanded it down when dry.

I ordered the beautiful new leather top from Dave at DCT Leathers. They are based in Canada and did an amazing job!

Leather top from DCT leathers with gold tooling

All I had to do was follow his instructions: brush a layer of wallpaper glue, roll out leather and smooth with cloth. Done!

Cork-lined drawers in place

This desk will live in the den, which is painted dark navy / black Railings by Farrow & Ball.

The dining room, in process

Ellis green, a needlepoint rug, and Ikea hack woven leather chairs

I posted the “before” photos of the dining room many months ago, when it was gray (and boring!), and I am not quite ready to post the “after”, but I’ve certainly made progress. What makes this room special is that all of the major elements were either made by hand or procured second hand from Ebay and 1stDibs. The most expensive item in this room was the paint. We painted the dining room Ellis Green from Farrow & Ball for a big impact. While the dining room has a lacquered look and feel, it is actually a high gloss finish and not a traditional lacquered application which is why it is not a perfect mirror, but it is close. This saved ~$5k and it works. I love the high gloss green and it makes a big impact for less [than Swedish putty / lacquer]. The inspiration home (linked above) was painted with the traditional lacquer treatment. Otherwise the paint color and finish (high gloss) are exactly the same. Comparing the two rooms you can see a difference, but one that I am willing to live with for the savings.

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Farrow & Ball “Wendy’s Green”, Ellis Green high gloss paint in pre-war dining room

The ceiling and molding is painted Wimborne White. Similar to the guest room, the rug was from Ebay and is an Asmara needlepoint rug. It was a great price (<$1,000) and a perfect fit, in perfect condition.

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1stDibs Chandelier, South Loop Lofts credenza, Ikea hack chairs (I made them), Asmara rug

The chairs were an Ikea hack with a $25 Ikea frame and leather strips purchased from an online supplier, based in TX. I posted a tutorial on these chairs on my old blog that you can find here. The chairs were ~$90 each. My father made the table and the bar cabinet.

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High gloss Ellis Paint, Farrow & Ball, Ikea hack chairs, window will ultimately have drapes

The artwork is my own and flanks the large window while it awaits the perfect chintz drapes, TBD. I have pulled a few samples and am working on my final selection for long drapes, but haven’t made a final decision yet.

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Will add a large piece of art over fireplace and decorate mantle

The fireplace is marble and was custom made for the house (by the prior owner). We will hang a large piece of art over the fireplace this month. The piece that I have chosen is currently in a show at Downs & Ross in New York. I will post the great unveil when it is hung!

 

Decorating with Chairish

“Old” is new nightstand, for $113

I love Chairish, as you may have assumed from my previous post. What I am most excited by is the opportunity to give something “used” a new life, and to find great quality pieces at affordable prices, that are also unique and different!

I found this nightstand while searching Chairish and paid $113 for the nighstand + $80 shipping (negotiated down to UPS from white-glove). It is prettier in person than it was in the listing and there are two operational drawers that were not initially highlighted that made me so happy to see.

Chairish nightstand: a beautiful alternative to a big box store for $113

Am now searching for a new lamp with more color to add to this room – potentially an emerald green or a painted floral base. TBC…!

Decorating with Needlepoint Rugs

The inspiration bedroom for the guest is of course, Tory Burch’s Bird & Thistle bedroom in the Hamptons.

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Architectural Digest, Tory Burch – Asmara Ferncroft rug

While the wallpaper was easy to identify (Bird and Thistle), the rug was not and I had to deep dive the internet to identify the rug as the Asmara Ferncroft. Tory has layered multiple rugs in this room as you can see from a photo taken at an alternate angle. It is unclear to me if this rug is also Asmara, but it does not appear to be.

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Architectural Digest, Tory Burch – Unknown layered rug

Both rugs are beautiful, but at >$6,000 for the size we needed, they were out of budget, so I shifted the search to Ebay and found the perfect fit 6’x9′ for <$400. There are plenty of needlepoint rugs on Ebay to choose from. Most important for me was to find a larger floral pattern that would compliment the Bird & Thistle wallpaper well. Matching a rug to wallpaper is a bit like matching a tie to a shirt. You can mix and match patterns but the sizing should complement and the colors should coordinate, but don’t need to match perfectly. The rug that I purchased was $450 including shipping, a far cry from the thousands of dollars you could spend on a new rug, and this rug is new itself, but made in the 1990’s.

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Aubusson Needlepoint Rug, 1990s, from Ebay

You may remember the rug that is currently in the guest room from this post,  but here is a refresh:

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Surya, Grace cotton rug with crochet edging, in off-white

The rug lays flat, is an off-white color, has crochet edges and is 8’x10′. I am currently selling this rug on Ebay. Here is a picture of this rug in our room, before we swapped it out.

The Surya cream rug works well, but is basic
The nightstand – A Chairish find!
The pattern works perfectly with the wallpaper
And, more pattern with the Liberty quilt, made by my mom

The new rug in position couldn’t be more perfect and I love the play of pattern across the rug, quilt and wallpaper.

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!