Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black & White, or not?

The other day I posted about some of my lasting loves in design and a few of them are soon on their way to becoming a reality.....or are at least being considered for it.

Here is the current state of our living room - at least structurally.
Obviously you can see that that fireplace needs some work. We considered taking it back to the original brick, but it's that sort of rigid dark red brick (aka ugly), so we quickly gave up on that idea and began thinking elsewhere. You can't see it well because if the screen in front, but there is a boring yellow brick on the floor that also needs some work too. To keep things classic, but yet still modern, we're hoping to add some white built-ins under the windows, enclose the painted brick with a nice wood surround and add black subway accent tiles. We're also considering taking the molding off of the mantle, stripping it down to the original wood and staining it to match the floor. I'd love to do a glass paneled sliding door on the built-ins, but depending on who and how we do them, we may just go with something stock.

This is the inspiration.
It's exactly how black and white should be done in my mind. Crisp but warm with lots of texture.

I also posted these pics of black trim.
You may recall when we were considering painting all the window trim in the house black. Well, because of privacy & lighting issues, it looks like we're going to put cafe style plantation shutters across the front of the house (including the living room). I don't love the look, but they are popular here and will help to give us privacy but still let in lots of natural light. So unfortunately that means that the black trim probably won't work since the shutters will be white. That doesn't mean that we can't ground a white room a bit with other black trim work.

We also have these great french doors that close off the living room from the dining room. We're liking the idea of painting them black along with the crown molding and the inside of the front door.
It's still classic & tasteful, but different. We like different. Different is good. Add some black drapes and all the white will surely be grounded. In addition to the black, we're also toying with the idea of a gray ceiling to warm things up a bit. I better decide quickly. The painter is coming soon!

The dining room is also getting a makeover with tall white wainscoting and a picture ledge.

I'm not sure yet exactly how it will be used, but this shade of blue will be used somehow in there too.
If not on the walls, then the curtains or a painted buffet. We'll see what I come across in my searching.

I think it's a nice compliment to the black and white and will help transition into the softer styled kitchen. And the teal will be carried on subtly with the cafe curtains that will eventually be hung in there.

In a fabric similar to these that I scored at a closeout for $3/yard.

What do you think?

Are you feeling the black & white or do you think it will be a big mistake?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Moving right along

Unlike most weeks at our ugly little bungalow on Pecan, work seems to have picked up around here. I guess there's nothing like a big turkey dinner to kick us into high gear. While I've been waiting for the moment when random men enter my home and take it over with their sledge hammers and pneumatic nailers for what seems like months now, I must admit that I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and unprepared for the chaos that we now live in. Hello light at the end of the tunnel, shine a little brighter please because I CAN'T SEE YOU!!

I'm not the only one who is feeling more than a bit displaced.

Here's what's been happening since last weekend.

1. Gustavo our trim guy came and went and we now have half finished (it's not painted yet) wainscoting on our dining room and bathroom walls. All of our windows have been framed out with beaded stop and some other random pesky projects involving trim have been completed.

2. With no company knocking on our door, we whipped up a Thanksgiving dinner that could easily feed a family of 10. Now we eat leftovers morning, noon and night.

3. While Ben has seemed to get things a little more under control at work and therefore is able to spend more time at home, I on the other hand have been punching in and out a whole lot more than before. (Oh and if I didn't mention it already, I'm currently working a seasonal job at Pottery Barn.....more on that later).

4. 3 Mexican "sheetrockeros" (our Mexican painter's word for sheetrockers) came out to put a new ceiling in our living room (the old one was a nasty textured plaster mess). In a matter of minutes they found that it wasn't possible to just put the sheetrock up over the existing plaster so they had to tear the whole ceiling out. Unfortunately they didn't properly cover our recently refinished hardwood floors and now they are severely damaged in that room. The good news is that the painter (who hired the sheetrockers) is taking responsibility for it.......supposedly.

5. Our 2nd flakey Colombian electrician flaked on us and isn't able to do the work we need him to do in the time frame that the sheetrockers and painter need him to do it, so in turn this halted the work of the sheetrockers. They didn't like that they couldn't finish the job when they wanted to and apparently didn't feel like doing the other part of the work that they painter hired them to do, so they walked out this morning. I'm biting my tongue from making some comments that I may later regret, but let's just leave it at they sure don't have the work ethic of a Guatemalan.

6. Ben spent the better part of Sunday trying to get as much of the electrical work done as he could so that they sheetrockers would be able to finish their job. He got a lot done, but now it feels like his day could have been better spent.

7. While Ben was finishing up his electrical projects last night, Mia and I were trying to stay warm by cleaning and baking. Nothing goes better together than dust and chocolate chip cookies. The mudroom where Ben was working isn't insulated yet and it's connected to the kitchen by a door that was hanging wide open, so the house was absolutely freezing. Turns out it worked. Baking does help keep you warm. And the best part of it all was that while I was baking a got a Skype call from Teale in Colorado who just gave birth to baby Ayla a few days ago, so I got to meet the baby and chat with my much missed friend. (Big smile.)

8. It's not even noon yet today and already I have spent several hours cleaning up the mess that the sheetrockers left behind. Just one room and the shop vac was filled up with dust and debris. And since they pretty much ruined my mop over the weekend doing their version of clean up, I had a difficult time getting the damaged floors to a clean enough point in which the damage is visible for the repair guy to see. At least now I have good reason to buy the Bona mop I've been hearing such great things about.....but probably after all the mess is done.

9. So now we're waiting on baited breath for some other dudes that the painter hired (of course) to show up and work at fixing the cracks in the walls which need to also be done before the painter can get to work. Are you catching a theme here? This painter is anxious to get to work.
And if these new guys don't show, we're bailing out of this runaway train that our painter/conductor is driving and looking elsewhere.

10. And if you were wondering why all of our workers are immigrants, it's because we have a soft spot in our hearts for people who are trying to work hard to make a better living. Most of our past experiences have shown us that they really want to work, they really need to work, and usually do a good job and are very appreciative. While we are more than slightly annoyed at the happenings of the past few days, we still do believe that the sheetrock guys wanted to work and wanted to do a good job, but also were getting taken for a bit of a ride by the infamous painter and had to stand up for themselves. We really can't blame them for that.

With luck, hopefully I'll be back later this week with better news. Until then, I'm going to remain focused on choosing the paint shades, a task that has already proven to not be easy for this very type A, perfectionistic, terrible decision maker!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lasting Love List

I've always been a little bit more than "into" design and decor, but it hasn't been until more recent years that I've really began to define my style. I don't think I can put a label on exactly what my style is, but if I tried it may sound something like "traditional meets modern, California classic seaside bungalow that is warm, light and airy with pops of bold color." How's that for a definition? Needs some work, I realize this. I have my likes, my loves and my definite dislikes (like a new build Colorado home covered in builder beige, multi-colored slate & the equally popular beige granite). Now that we're getting to the point of making design choices for our home, I am feeling the need to really honor the age and style of the home (1929 classic bungalow). I'm finding that with some tweaking, most of my loves can fit right in here. That's the part of my style definition where "traditional meets modern" - traditional in form & design, modern in color & pattern.

We realize that this home is far from our "dream home" or "forever home"; it's more like our "dream right now, practice home". We want to make good choices, smart choices for the house that will pay us back in the long run so we have more freedom to get carried away when we finally meet our "forever home". Unfortunately that means that some of the ideas that would take this house from great to amazing won't be making the cut (due to the home's footprint and our budget), but we're going to try to squeeze in as many as we can. Other things, like furniture, is a lot easier because we can begin investing in pieces we love now and then pack them up to take with us later.

Still though, I can't help but to dream about those "carried away" features that are and will continue to be on my forever lasting love list. Here are a few a bunch.

Open staircase
(We're hopefully going to make this happen, at least partially, in this home)
Dark hardwood flooring

Tall wainscoting
(already under way)

(it's a front runner in the upstairs finishes)

Gallery style artwork

(perhaps when with open staircase)

Deep bold color (used sparingly)
(loving this marine/teal for the dining room)

Large scale maps
(just you wait and see!!!)

Black and white (in a warm way)

(living room dreams)
cowhide rugs
(yes yes yes...please)

Black windows & trim
(it's being considered for the living room & bathroom)

(living room for sure & maybe upstairs)

A fun bar cart

(this sounds like a good DIY project)

Wood plank & beam ceilings
(upstairs? a beam for sure)
cut out mirrors
(a headboard?)

Tufted ottoman
(again, upstairs)
(maybe not on the walls....)

A giant corner desk unit
(custom desk currently being built)

Eames-like chair (to sit at the desk)
(gotta see the desk first)

Stripped metal furniture
(I'm searching, but vintage metal is hard to find)

A breakfast nook with built in window bench & bamboo chairs
(no space in this house. tear.)

Acrylic furniture
(possibly a finishing touch)

Classic display cabinet with sliding doors
(we've got a spot reserved in the living room)

Upholstered nailhead trim bed
(hmmm...King or Queen?)

Fun accent furniture
(sounds like a Craigslist find)

Campaign style furniture
(currently stalking Craigslist)

Nailhead upholstry
(remember my wingback chair?)

Seagrass rugs &/or carpeting
(rugs for sure. carpeting?)

Got any other great ideas I can add to the list?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

You say turkey. I say chompipe.

Mmhmmm. That's right. You heard me correctly. Chompipe (chom.pee.pay). And no, it isn't a dirty word, but it is one of my favorites in the Spanish language!

I don't think a Thanksgiving (or any turkey sighting for that matter) will pass ever again without me thinking about the
chompipe. It's quite an entertaining story actually. If you speak Spanish you know that the word pavo is Spanish for turkey. Well in Guatemala they use another word too - chompipe. But if you ask a Guatemalan if pavo and chompipe are interchangeable, most will be quick to tell you no. But trying to get them to explain what exactly is the difference is somewhat humorous. Some will tell you that chompipes live in the wild (like turkeys don't?), others will tell you that the chompipe is chewier than the pavo. Many will swear that they look different, but can't explain how. I think that Ben & I spent several hours back during our classes at ICA trying to get to the bottom of this one. And here's what we eventually learned. There really is no difference, but a proud Guatemalan will never admit it - especially to you!

This post was going to start out with me paying homage to all the things that I'm thankful for this holiday season. Don't get me wrong. I am thankful, but that's so expected - maybe we'll do that another day. Instead let me tell you another little story about how our very first North Carolina Thanksgiving went down.

'Twas the night before Turkey Day, and unlike those little mice, all the creatures of this house were stirring. We're not quite sure how she knew, but our 4-legged creature must have sensed that today was not just any other ordinary day. While her papi and I were sacked out on the couch hunting out some good online deals, our little turkey was doing a bit of hunting herself. Bird hunting that is.

Look what she caught......and killed.
Her oldest buddy. Gallo.

Just for kicks let's go back to the moment when Mia was introduced to Gallo, a gift from our friend Greg & his boy Sol.

Meeting Gallo from Krista on Vimeo.

OMG. Wasn't she so cute and little? Who would have ever guess that the chicken she was so irritated with would become her very best friend?

She must have wanted to contribute to our Thanksgiving dinner, so she stalked and killed poor old, smelly Gallo who had been put "away" for safe keeping. She was so sneaky about it and the next thing we knew, the bird was dead.

Okay so he not exactly a turkey, but close enough!
She must have been really hungry!

We've know she absolutely loves chicken ever since she got sick when she was a little pup.
She wasn't eating and had a bad tummy ache so Ben took her to the vet and he told him to feed her chicken and rice instead of her regular kibble to see if she would tolerate it better. I was working late when a text came through to my phone. Baby loves chicken. And from that day on, she has been wild about chicken. So wild in fact that I can hardly cook it without her little nose right up at counter height, sniffing it out.

I do think she did have a small moment of regret when she stopped picking at the stuffing and just layed down, but before long she was back at it again.
And that folks, is how Gallo kick the bucket. At least his death wasn't in vain. All in the name of Thanksgiving dinner.

Fast forward 12 or so hours to the real feast. Since we once again found ourselves celebrating alone, I decided to stray from the usual green bean & sweet potato casseroles (yes our family loves a good casserole - or hot dish, like they say in Minnesota), and try something a bit different. In steps Good Housekeeping. We'll it's a good thing that my mom dumped off all her old magazines on my doorstep when she last visited, because I found some recipes for a big feast that looked absolutely delicious. In addition to the 13 lb. all natural, never been frozen bird we splurged for, we had ourselves an array of sophisticated non-casserole dishes too. Let me share some of our menu (and reviews) with you.

  • Green Beans and Mixed Mushrooms: So very excellent. Quite possibly the best part of the meal! The perfect combo or green beans, tasty mushrooms & sweet caramelized onions.
  • Savory Pear Stuffing: A bit bland and boring (what stuffing isn't), but the pears did add a nice touch.
  • Celery Root Mash: A fancier, creamier version of mashed potatoes. We liked it & will most certainly make it again.
  • Citrus-Apricot Cranberry Sauce: We both loved it & Ben normally passes when it comes to cranberry sauce. A bit strong in the spice department, so we suggest cutting the star anise down from 2 to 1.
Take a look at the spread.
(Ok, so not exactly an Eddie Ross table setting, but we are in the midst of renovations and all seasonal decor is packed away.)

And our lonely little pub table for 2.

Of course, the bird hunter got in on the action too. And since her normal dehydrated dog food (Sojos) is comprised of turkey and veggies and really does smell like a Thanksgiving herb stuffing every morning when I dish it up, we figured why not eat the real deal for once?

She even got to dine alongside us in the dining room.
Although she clean her plate before we barely got started!

And as luck would have it while I was cooking (and Ben was assisting) our temperamental old garbage disposal began to act up and started leaking into the cabinets below. Great timing. Of all the days to not have a sink at my disposal. Even better timing when Ben decided to tear the drain apart.......

So here we are.

One half of the kitchen is clean.

The other half is a disaster.

And my husband is making a Walmart run to purchase the necessary supplies for repairing this uninvited holiday guest. Of course, it's like the one day a year that Home Depot is closed.

Happy Thanksgiving!
We hope your tummies and hearts are full as you celebrate with those who are special to you!