Friday, October 26, 2012

Year Updates | Part 2 | New Painting

This isn't exactly a "room update" but something I still love/wanted to share so I'm passing it off as one!

I blogged about the painting gift that Mike gave me for my birthday back in August. He commissioned it from our artist friend Susan from LA. If you want to read more about the setup and initial direction for the painting, that post is here

So — I finally have the final painting up on the wall and thought I'd share the process!

From the initial direction, the first in-process photo that Susan sent us is this (just to show the general blocking of the piece):

Loved how this looked honestly and could have been "done" here—
but the living room where this painting is going is big and white.
I knew we needed something bolder to really hold its own in there.

As she continued, she sent us this as her next phase.
I told her I thought it was going in a great direction
but maybe needed a bit more of the same. From here
Susan really ran with it and said she had an idea of
how to finish it...

.... and here we are! She went pretty drastic with the
last round but I love how bold it is.
The iphone pics are pretty crappy, but the frame
is actually a thin-facing chrome, with a white 1/4" recessed
molding gap in between it and the canvas.

And here it is hanging in the room! (to note: with the freshly
painted  black fireplace courtesy of my hubby — who almost
knocked himself out with the vapors from the spray paint
as he sealed himself off with plastic in there!)

More progress in this room soon...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Year Updates | Part 1 | Powder Room

Well — we've officially owned the house on Norton Road for just over a year! I of course wish we were "done"... we're not ... but we have a lot less to do on the house than we used to :) And don't people say you're never really done anyway?!

It's been forever since I blogged — although not for lack of things going on, really. We had a big push to finish up a few loose ends when we had two sets of houseguests a few weeks back – one set fell through, but it was still a good forced "goal" to make some headway. Love it when that happens.

I'll show those updates over a few posts:


Our powder room started out like this:

This is one of my favorite "before" photos b/c the house was
sold with the bathroom just like this - air freshener included!

We debated over what to do in here forever (ok, well you already know, for a year). Originally I hadtohave this shiny silver wall tile from a bathroom I found on Houzz, below:

Photo of a powder room we liked (minus the floor)

So much so, that we built the rest of our powder room to match that one:

Our very "original" bathroom!
This is where I'd left it for a couple of months, waiting on the wall tile...
I looked for weeks and weeks and weeks on end to find that shiny wall tile, till I finally found it... and THEN realized that just to tile that one small wall, it was going to be about 3k. 

So that was out.

Well kind of, I still wanted it. Until I finally waited so long – wanting it – that I got completely over tile in that bathroom altogether! I realized it was really tile-heavy in the kitchen already, and then we do already have a slate tile floor in the powder room, so there was a lot going on. I wanted simpler. But still wanted a little color somehow so it wasn't boring.

I found (and purchased) this wallpaper on a whim from

Did I say simple? It wasn't at all! This idea came to a peaceful ending when the guy installed it incorrectly. We didn't have enough paper left for him to re-do the job. It was

My friend Margaret, an interior designer designer, then suggested a tinted mirror for that wall: "green or blue" to tie into the art in my surrounding area.

I'd never even heard of such a thing. Nor has anyone else apparently.

I called oh-maybe 15 places locally. Looked around for a good 5-6 nights online.
Dead ends.
So I started thinking that I should go a different way with the mirror.

And that's when I discovered the world of drop-dead beautiful mirrors:

Wall mirror in extra-light glass with degrading silver shading. Fiction by Suite NY.

Standing mirror in smoked glass. Upper and lower parts are smoked. Center section has a special mirroring effect cause by lamp place on the backside. Red cord to switch light on and off. Diva by Jean-Marie Massaud, Suite NY.

I Massi Specchi wall mirror by Claudio Silvestrin. LED backlighting. SUITE NY.
The sizes on those mirrors did not work with the parameters I'd set up in the powder room already with the vanity and the lighting. It's a good thing, because not one of those three were remotely in the realm of a reasonable price. (That being said, I have to have one of these mirrors one day! Aren't they works of art in themselves?)

Back to the tinted mirror... I called a place in Charlotte that someone else had recommended, Accent Glass on South, and they gave the same answer as everyone else: "We have bronze tinted mirror only." Well, I had blue or green in mind but went over there anyway to look at the bronze as I'd about given up at this point.

When I got there, the guy helping me recalled having a single piece of scrap green mirror in the back. It had been there for years, because, who wants green mirror?


And the best part: $86! I almost died.

A week later, $86 green mirror installed by Mike.
You can see it here off the kitchen with the door open.
Not for everyone, but love how it turned out...for us. 

 Parts 2+ to come...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Who would have thought....(Chimney Caps)

Has anyone ever noticed chimney caps before? I'm impressed if so, because, admittedly, not me. I suppose I just sort of thought they were all the same!

Well in light of fall coming soon and a desire to check out the functionality of our fireplaces, we had someone come evaluate the situation. Turns out we need a new chimney cap.

So now of course this has turned into another one of those things where, once you are presented with making a choice, you suddenly "have" to go down the path of good design :) And this about something you didn't even notice before!

In researching modern chimney caps, Mike found the following photos which really showed me the possibilities:

Clean solid metal piece
And a third
"Lines" of metal
And a different take with the top piece added on

I thought those "lines" as seen above would look great on our house with
its' long horizontal shape and horizontals on the windows
And decided stainless was the finish that would work best
with the other hardware we have going on
Sold! Now where to get...

We called a couple of local places, and no success. So we found the source of one of these photos, a guy out of Chicago, of course called the Chimney King – he had a style similar to the one we liked in his arsenal, but each cap is built custom. Which is good, with our house being a ranch style, we don't need anything nearly as tall as some of the ones in the photos.

We've started down the road with this guy on plans, and it's not "as bad" as we thought so far in the quoting process.

Updates to come!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Product Design: Cats

Short post, but these two well-crafted products just cannot be passed over. Coincidence that they both happen to be cat-related!

First of all, how cool is this cat lounger/scratching post?
By PetFusion via Amazon

In our den with a happy loungey cat on it.
 Love that this looks like a piece of sculpture in our house.
And finally, a good-looking litter box
(warning: not cheap, but well worth it IMO!)
By Modko

Very nice to see good design in an segment where most things are not thought through from this angle...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Long Awaited Love

The long awaited Onda counter stools have finally arrived and I am happy to report that they did not disappoint!

I literally spent days upon days looking online for stools—we really wanted just the right look in the kitchen and knew it needed to be something contemporary, yet elegant. I found the Onda stool early in the search from Design Within Reach back in December, and placed the order, but the lead time was 16-18 weeks from Spain.

In our impatience to get something quicker we cancelled the order after the new year. About 12 weeks after that, we decided to RE-order [of course by that time the first order would have been in if we'd stuck it out!]

Even though I was about to pull my hair out at hindsight, it's been worth it.

Onda Stool, by Jesus Gasca for Stua
Our three in the kitchen
They have a matte white back, matte taupe front, and stainless legs 
The final touch to complete our kitchen!

In other fun news, we moved a piano into our living room a couple of weeks back. It's a baby grand and was generously passed down from my in-laws. I called Modern Piano Moving to go get the piano and bring it down from Connecticut — they are nationally based but were recommended by a local store here in Charlotte. The whole process took about a month and was pretty seamless.

Modern Piano arrives to Norton Road
The guys rolling it up carefully on the sidewalk 

Unpacking it

And done!

In hindsight, I wish we'd turned it the other way so that the curved back part faced out, like this:

Although, his is Jennifer Aniston's house and clearly much more well designed than mine! :)

But it's going to take an afternoon with three strong guys here to experiment with that plan...

The piano is going to live in our living room, but we're making that room more of a 'music room' by moving in Mike's guitars too — so we'll actually use the space, instead of having a room nobody ever goes in. I have been doing lots of searching on furniture/next steps in the living room and will post about that soon.

But in the meantime, I'll be calling a tuner and seeing if any of those years of lessons stuck with me!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Happy Birthday (to me)

My birthday was about a week ago and Mike gave me the best present (!) -- a commissioned painting by the very talented Susan Carter Hall, who also happens to be a good friend of ours from our LA days. Just what a girl wanted :)

The painting will be going in the living room. Since Susan is making it for us, the canvas will be sized exactly to the size of the fireplace opening (I like some good balance!) Once Mike told me about the gift, I was able to share my thoughts on what I wanted with Susan.

I think this is such a fun process so I'll share the direction that I sent to her, below, in case anyone else is also interested:

I first sent pics of the space it's going in so she could get a feeling for the whole environment.
This is the living room as it stands now.

CAVEATS: The interior of fireplace still needs to be repaired and will be painted black. The little pile of tables in the corner is not there permanently and Mike's family's baby grand piano has just arrived for that corner (but -- full post on that later!!)

Only other furniture I have in this room so far are these Barcelona chairs
Then I sent pics of what was near the painting in the house. I'd ideally like that the pieces
somewhat visually flow together from room to room.

This photograph is in the foyer, which preceeds the living room as you enter the house.
And this photograph is in the dining room, which is adjacent to the living room.

Since we had 2 photographs in the rooms flanking the living room, I really wanted a painting
with all that beautiful texture for this middle space. 
Then I sent some other references of pieces I liked. 

Susan has a lot of great pieces, but these are two that she
just finished that I was initially really drawn to.

I also mentioned that I really liked this older one of hers b/c it's strong and bold yet simple. A good mix of visual
resting space + visual interest. I also think the lines have some elegance and softness to them.

I have a good bit of "red" art though and didn't want to go red with this new piece...
This is by another artist I am obsessed with called Madeline Denaro.  Again here I liked the mix of
resting space + areas of interest created by the texture, paint drips etc. Also really liked this color palette –
especially the hit of hot orange/red and limey yellow mixed with neutrals. Liked the elegance and detail of
the strokes and texture of the drips.

Only comment against it is that it has a majority of neutral space and I think I'd prefer it be just a touch bolder in feeling...
Another Madeline Denaro I love, too. Obsessed with that focal pop of orange and all the
interest with the paint drips right there and everything converging into that spot.

While I really like the color palette here, I think I prefer the overall look to be a teensy bit lighter

than this one which has a darker cast to it.
And a third Madeline Denaro, my favorite reference for where I wanted to go in this space.
I love this overall. It's my favorite color palette (neutrals mixed with those pops of hot orange/red, limey yellow,
and lavenders and blues). Really like that there is a lot of interest yet some resting space on this one too ––
the resting space is not too white or too dark but has a nice neutral tone still. Also great texture overall with the strokes.

Ok and where does that leave us on Susan's finished piece? Stay tuned...
(But I can't wait!!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ready for Happy Hour

I love wine. My uncle is a distributor and my Dad ran restaurants for years, so I think it was destined to be! Mike and I did a good bit of wine touring while living in California and even got married in Santa Ynez wine country.

Long story short —we drink a ton of wine so we buy wine frequently.

We are out of storage already in the refrigerated wine bar area we put in the house. When we were in planning phase, my Dad tried to get us to dedicate a whole room to wine in our house and we said "oh we don't need anything near that extravagant" but sure enough, we have extra cases hanging out in our pantry instead.

On a separate timeline, I had this blank wall in my kitchen for a bit now (in the breakfast nook) and I had a photograph already in the kitchen, and then the Nelson clock, so was trying to figure out what to do there on this big white wall.

This is the wall in mention, before we renovated
Photograph, already in the kitchen
Nelson clock, already in the kitchen

I felt like more art would start to look like an art gallery because you can see paintings in the DR and den as well as the clock and photograph, from the kitchen vantage point. A TV was suggested which made me absolutely cringe :) I didn't want art, but wanted something industrial that went with the contemporary feel of the kitchen. 

I started toying around with the idea of wine racks when Mike sent me these for another reason:

But as the bottles come out perpendicular to the wall, I was afraid it would be too obtrusive in the room.
Not to mention they aren't for sale yet.

Then I found these restaurant style racks from Wine Enthusiast, and thought this idea would be great for storing extra 'everyday' bottles.

...where the bottles sit against the wall
Not sure where this pic came from but seeing it on this white all made me think it would work in our kitchen

So off we went. We decided to only hang three on the wall b/c we were looking at odd numbers of either 3 or 5 based on design principle. In this case I have to say I think I could have gone with 4, but here's the end result with 3 and I'm still over the moon with the look, not to mention the storage factor!

These were MUCH harder to hang than it looks. It took four of us several hours to
get the spacing calculated, and the racks installed!

Here's the finished product in the breakfast nook