Old Becomes New – Katie’s Bedroom Project

My friend Katie lives in a 100+ year old home in Baltimore, Maryland, and has been working on renovating it with the help of her dad and her awesome dog Joey. She was kind enough to share her bedroom renovation with us. I just love how it turned out.

Katie found these vintage shutters for $30 at Second Chance, a great resource for architectural salvage in Baltimore.


Then she and her dad turned them into this:

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(That’s Joey peeking in there!)

The bed was made to complement the radiator covers her dad also built for the house:

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(See the close up of Joey framed on the wall?)

To make the headboard the same width as the bed, they added wood in the center and finished it with crown molding:


They then painted it to match the trim in the house and hung it on the freshly painted wall:


Isn’t it beautiful?

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The nightstand is made from a Pier One plant stand Katie found for $15 with a 12 inch marble tile from Home Depot glued on top. I love the galvanized bucket she used for the plant!

Thanks so much for sharing, Katie!


Shutters: Second Chance, www.secondchanceinc.org (Second Chance is more than just architectural salvage store – it’s also a training and employment program. See their website for more info!)

All other materials from Home Depot.

Wall Paint: Benjamin Moore Silver Fox

Headboard Paint: Behr Pure Ultra White



Behind Closed Doors

Hello! It’s another snowy day here. I’m itching to get out and hunt down some Design Finds, but that will have to wait! Instead, I thought I’d continue to make good on my promise to show you some more of the little details that I love about our remodeled kitchen. Today – inside the cabinets!

I am a huge fan of tall pantry cabinets. Look how much you can store – and the 15″ depth of these cabinets is just the right size to fit everything in and be able to see it!


The next pantry cabinet over is customized to hold our cheese/carving boards, baking sheets and muffin tins:


We didn’t have space in our layout for a Lazy Susan, so we opted for a blind corner cabinet with Hafele LeMans pullouts:


The pullouts are S shaped and snake out of the cabinet, allowing use of the normally wasted space in the corner. The bottom shelf shown here holds the food processor and the popcorn maker.


To keep the countertop as clutter free as possible, we installed an appliance garage for the toaster:



The appliance garage cabinet also provides a great place to end the tile backsplash.

We don’t have a ton of trash, but we do seem to have a ton of recycling, so we installed separate pullouts for each. This one is for recycling:


And this one is for trash:


The trash is right next to the sink and the main prep area. I have a large drawer right there to hold my knives and cutting boards. Everything I need in one place!


I’ve saved the best for last – this cabinet is in the dining room. As most of our mail sorting and bill paying gets done downstairs (even though our office space is upstairs), we installed a pullout drawer and an electrical outlet in one of our dining room cabinets so we could put the shredder downstairs. Very handy!


If you’d like to see to overall kitchen, click here.

Stay warm today – have fun in the snow!




The Kids Lounge

The Kids Lounge. We don’t ever call it the Playroom. The Playroom was the space that made me crazya room filled to the brim with toys that were always all over the floor even though no one ever seemed to be playing with them. I felt like I spent every waking moment cleaning it up and still it always looked cluttered. When my youngest went to kindergarten, I quickly set to work erasing the Playroom. I got rid of a ton of stuff (the kids never even noticed!) and relocated the few remaining things to their bedrooms and one designated cabinet for games and art supplies. Then I set about making them a space they could use that wouldn’t make me nuts. I didn’t want to spend a fortune, as I knew full well that it was the Kids Lounge and things were likely to be used and abused and that someone was probably going to be eating yogurt on the sofa when I wasn’t looking.

I’ve already shown the workspace side of the room here. This side is for TV watching, reading, and some occasional hijinks involving the ottoman on wheels.


All the furniture had a life elsewhere before it ended up here – the Crate and Barrel couch and chair were a lucky hand-me-down from my mom. They are about 15 years old but in great shape. (A steam clean once in a while does wonders.) I laughed this week when I opened the Design Within Reach Catalog and saw almost the exact same design:

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The leather ottoman on wheels was part of a living room configuration from a previous house and makes a great kid-friendly coffee table – free of corners and hard edges. If Ottoman Gymnastics ever becomes an Olympic sport, my kids are sure to win gold medals.

Across the room is a cabinet that we originally purchased in 2000 as a dining room sideboard to hold our dishes. At the time we lived in an adorable house in Denver that was so small there was actually no room in the kitchen for dishes! It now holds TV components and DVDs. Across the room a matching tall cabinet holds games and art supplies. The TV is a Dell, from the days when Dell actually made TVs.


I decided on graphic black and white accents to pull the couch and ottoman and silver cabinets and pale blue walls together and connect it to all to the black cabinetry in the adjoining dining room.


I looked at tons of rugs and discovered that Overstock.com is a great source for wool rugs at really good prices. This 8×10 rug and a nice pad to go underneath totaled $311 with free shipping! It does a wonderful job of defining the space and making a statement all at the same time.



The pillows are an Etsy find – covers made to order in the fabrics of my choice for $15 each. And washable to boot!


The mirrored wall art has hung in several different rooms over the years – it fits nicely in the space between the windows.


The orange clock we purchased on a whim at CB2 a few years ago but it sat in the box for a  long time until we figured out what to do with it. It rotates – one side says GO and the other says IDLE. I have to admit neither side ever displays the correct time. I love it, but I tend to forget it’s a clock.

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The side table is actually a box that my Eames Elephant came in. It was so great looking and so sturdy that no one wanted to get rid of it. It became a side table and also a place to stash stuff.


The kids love their space and now finally I do too!

Sources (not mentioned above):

Ottoman: Room and Board

Remote Control Knit Basket: Container Store

Mirrored Wall Art: West Elm

Elephant Plate: Thomas Paul, Burkedecor.com

Throw Pillows: Etsy, Castaway Cove Decor

Blanket: IKEA

Wall Color: A Breath of Fresh Air, Benjamin Moore






Faucet Fabulous

I realized the other day that I had promised to share all the fun little details from our kitchen remodel but I have been remiss in doing so. My apologies!

Today let me share my touch faucet – the Brizo Vuelo in Stainless Steel finish. I chose this faucet because it met all my requirements – plus it looks like a swan! I love swans – even though I hear that they are mean birds.

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I wanted a faucet with a pull-out spray head that pulls down, not out. Sprays that pull down make it much easier to rinse out the sink than those that pull out. It was important to me that the handle be easy to operate – our previous faucet was very confusing to people who were not used to it – the handle mechanism moved in odd directions. This one is much more simple and straightforward.

I also wanted the matching soap pump to feel substantial. I really liked the button on top of this one – much easier to use than the pumps where you have to push the whole top down to get the soap out. This is one of the reasons I highly recommend shopping for faucets at a showroom and not just online. I had done a ton of online research, but as soon as I walked into a showroom, the correct faucet choice was obvious.

When I initially went faucet shopping, it was not my intention to look at touch faucets – mostly because I didn’t have any experience with them. Once I chose this design, my husband and I consulted with our plumber and decided that the upgrade to the touch faucet feature would be worth it. (This design comes with or without.) Why remodel if you’re not going to add some fun new technology?

The touch feature is not only fun (the kids love to demonstrate it for guests!), but useful too. It’s great to quickly and easily turn the water on and off when washing dishes or prepping food just by touching the arc of the faucet or the handle – you can even use your arm or the back of your hand instead of your fingers if you’ve just been touching raw meat or kneading dough or something like that. The touch component is powered by a battery pack which is mounted inside the cabinet below. I was worried that it would run through batteries quickly, but it’s been in use over 4 months and we have not needed to change them yet.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to a regular faucet now that I’m used to it!

Purchased From: Ferguson (http://shop.ferguson.com/)


Spotted: Coffee Shop Cool

Hello! I still have several “big” posts to write about design adventures in London, but I wanted to share some little things that caught my attention as I was out and about. Inspiration can be found everywhere if you keep your eyes open! Here’s the first in a series:


This was a coffee shop that I happened to be walking by near St. Paul’s Cathedral – I loved the grouping of mismatched vintage lanterns and also the reclaimed wood patchwork wall. I saw them out of the corner of my eye and had to stop and take a picture! Either of these ideas could easily be a great design element in a home. The patchwork wall idea could be a done as a whole wall like this one but it could also be scaled down to be more like artwork. This picture is also a great reminder of how much fun chalkboards are! This one with the aged wood frame is wonderful.

Hole in the Wall

Here’s a great little side project we did during the kitchen remodel. The return air vent for our house’s HVAC system is in our living room – right next to the kitchen. During the remodel, my husband took the cover off and taped a disposable filter over it to keep dust from the project from getting sucked into the HVAC unit and spreading it all over the house. Instead of putting back the old cover at the end of the project, we bought a new one. It looked like this:

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It was just as ugly as the old one, just not painted over quite so many times. We couldn’t bring ourselves to use it. We decided we wanted something better, so we made our own instead, inspired by the radiator covers in a house I lived in as a kid.

First we painted the metal sheeting on the inside of the hole a matte black so it would disappear behind the new frame:


Then we built a simple wooden frame and used perforated sheet metal for the center. It was attached to the wall with two screws so that it would be easy to remove for HVAC repairs if needed (hopefully we won’t need to!).

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And then we painted the wooden part of the frame with the same paint as the wall (Benjamin Moore Misty Gray):

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A close up of the “Union Jack” metal pattern we picked:


Love how the finished product turned out!



All building materials from Home Depot.



The Kitchen – It’s in the Details

It’s always the little details that make any project special. I spent an outrageously long time looking for the perfect knobs, lights, faucet, tile – you name it. As a result, when the right option came along, I absolutely knew it was the right thing.

The cabinets have bin pulls in different lengths so that they are in proportion to the door and drawer sizes. I chose a rectangular bin pull because it had more of a modern vibe than the classic rounded ones. Pulls like this are great in the kitchen because the way you open them keeps fingerprints and dirt off the doors.

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The knobs on the dining room cabinets are large in scale and have a wonderful concave surface. Notice how the drawers in the kitchen have a solid slab front, and the ones in the dining room have the Shaker detailing. I thought this, along with the different hardware and countertops, would help differentiate the kitchen from the dining room just a bit.



With all that black, white, and gray, a little bit of color is important (since we can only have that Halloween pumpkin out for a little while!). Here’s our fab orange teakettle and a close up of the backsplash. We are coffee people, so it’s pretty rare that we use the teakettle, but I love the pop of color it provides.

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One of the coolest things we used were these screwless switch plates:

218Stainless steel plates on the backsplash.

photo-2 (2)White plate on the wall. Notice this one also has a double switch on the right side – using one opening for two switches allowed us to use a smaller (4 opening instead of 5 opening) plate, so the wall is less cluttered with switches.

photo-3 Black plate on side of tall black pantry cabinet. (This is solid black, but photo shows glare from patio door next to switch!)

Once you see that clean look, the switch plates with screws in them are so hard to look at! Eventually I’d like to switch all the plates in the house over to this screwless style.

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The pendant lights in the dining room have Edison-style filament bulbs, a black cloth cord and shades that are mirrored on the underside. They look beautiful at night!


Here’s the dining room wall, complete with the mercury glass vase and Elk antler mentioned in my last post. The aged iron window-style mirror makes up for the fact that there’s no window on that big wall. The handsome fellow in the photo in the corner is my late grandfather, lifelong Boston resident. Every time I look at it I can just hear him say, “It’s awfully nice to see you!”

UPDATE: After I wrote the above post but before it had been published, my daughter upgraded the Elk antler by adding lights. I just had to share – it looks great!

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The details of the details:

Kitchen Pulls: Duluth Pull, Satin Nickel, 4″, 6″, 8″, Restoration Hardware

Dining Room Knobs: 1 1/4″ Asbury Knob, Satin Nickel, Restoration Hardware

Backsplash Tile: AlysEdwards Mod Rocks collection, 1×1 Mod Dot Mosaic blend  in Ebony, Flannel, Carrera. Purchased at Country Floors. (Grout Color: Delorean Gray)

Teakettle: Rachael Ray 2 qt. Curve Teakettle, Amazon.com

Wall Plates: Claro by Lutron, www.lutronstore.com

Pendants: Reflector Filament 7½” Pendant in Polished Nickel, Restoration Hardware

Dining room mirror: www.wisteria.com

Antler lights: Starry String Lights, Diamond Lights on Silver Wire, 10 foot strand, purchased at Restoration Hardware Outlet.





The Kitchen – Almost There

Here it is with countertops, backsplash, lighting and appliances installed!


The cabinets are by Executive Cabinetry, and are maple with a painted black finish. The appliances are all GE Profile, except for the range hood, which is by Best. The hood is 36″ wide over the 30″ stove, and really makes a statement. We chose a counter depth fridge, which provides more of a built-in look than a standard depth fridge. It’s a good thing we gave up carbs a few years ago, because a pizza box would never fit in it. The reduced depth does mean that everything is easy to see – no more food pushed to the back of a shelf and forgotten. As our house is all electric, I wasn’t able to get the La Cornue range of my dreams, but I’m very happy with the double oven smooth top slide-in range we ended up with. I haven’t actually experimented with using both ovens yet, but isn’t that why they invented Thanksgiving?


The countertops in the kitchen area are honed Cararra marble. I know a lot of people are terrified of marble because it stains. We were comfortable using it because we’re pretty tidy (although some of our friends would probably describe us more as ridiculously Type A neat freaks). In any case, we tend to clean things up pretty quickly, and we’re also comfortable with the countertop developing a patina that reflects its age and use.


The dining room sideboard countertop is honed Absolute Black granite. I’m really pleased with the way it turned out, especially because it’s one loooong (over ten feet) single piece of granite. The granite template guy and I spent a long time figuring out where the seam would go, but then on install day, the guys carried one giant slab into the house. I was beyond thrilled. In fact, there is only one seam in the entire kitchen, and most of it is hidden in the appliance garage near the peninsula area.


In my next kitchen post we’ll look at the details up close.

The Kitchen During

Our kitchen remodel was not just about having a prettier kitchen. We wanted to solve some real problems. The main thing that drove me crazy was having the sink across the room from the stove – with a doorway/line of traffic between them. It seemed that every time I took a pot of boiling pasta across the room from the stove to the sink, my youngest would come cartwheeling through the doorway at that exact moment. Or I would have to carry dripping wet vegetables across the wood floor from the sink to prep and cook them by the stove. And then the trash was in another corner of the room – more dripping across the floor to throw out food prep trash. I wiped up the floor a lot. The traffic pattern through the room also meant that everyone was always in my way as I cooked. That may have made me a little bit grouchy sometimes.

We removed most of the wall between the kitchen and dining room.  The prep area and the peninsula were relocated against the inside wall of the house. These changes redirected traffic to the outside wall of the house, away from the prep area. Now the fridge, sink, stove, dishwasher, and trash/recycling are on the same side of the room. Much easier! This switch allowed us to add 15″ deep tall pantry cabinets for storage on the outside wall, and also add another patio door out to the deck. More light! More storage! And everyone out of my way! Win-win-win!


Removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room.


Wall removed, new patio door installed where small kitchen window used to be. The large picture window on the right replaced the cantilevered garden window. The new window allows much better views of the yard!


New cabinets installed. Coming soon – the (almost completely) finished product!

The Kitchen Before

Our new kitchen is the subject of my next post. Here are the before pictures to give you an idea of what we started with. The cabinets are original to the house, circa 1979. They had been painted white – I believe they were originally a dark walnut color. I forgot to take photos of the insides before my husband gleefully ripped them off the wall, but the inside shelves were all severely sagging. I was convinced that the shelves would give way in the middle of the night and send all our dishes crashing onto the floor. I may have actually prayed for this to happen so we could get a new kitchen years before we actually did, but no such luck.

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