Friday, June 29, 2012

product profile: dining table

I've literally lost sleep over choosing a dining room table. For as long as I can remember I've wanted a table by Lorts, a wonderful high-end furniture manufacturer that my family has ties and access to. They specialize in customizable, solid wood pieces and have recently shifted their focus to a more transitional look, which I adore. From the stain to the amount of distressing, they make wonderful pieces tailored specifically to their clients and the farm house table has always been my favorite.

What I thought was going to be an easy decision has since become complicated. You might remember from an earlier post that in order to stay within our budget we purchased these stainless steel beauties for everyday use that we will eventually pair with upholstered host and hostess chairs. Long story short, the Lorts table is simply too sophisticated and clean for the chairs.

Adding to this difficult decision is our undying love of walnut wood (yes, I named my blog appropriately). The rich coffee color and sturdy construction is our favorite but with dark hardwood floors it was clear we needed to add some variation. 

I must give credit where credit is due, I am so thankful to have a mom that happens to be a talented interior designer. She suggested going with a table that was a bit more "fun" and "casual" since this is our first home and I completely agree. Mom, if you're reading this thanks for the suggestion and also for lending your expertise (and vendor access) to this project! The Tradewinds table in river wash is the perfect compromise. It will mesh well with metal, isn't too rustic and will play nicely off of the grey tones in our Carrera Marble island. And it's not walnut.

I started this project thinking I would post my inspiration boards and then blog as they became a reality. I had no idea I would face so many twist, turns, mind changes and obstacles along the way. What I thought would be a modern-meets-traditional space is now taking on a bit of a rustic vibe and I'm excited to see what lies ahead. This deviation has taught me an important lesson: expect the unexpected in design and while a plan is always essential sometimes you have to modify your original vision to make a room work.

*As mentioned, these tables are not available for retail purchase. If you're interested in finding out more please feel free to comment below or email me at

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

man/mirror down

Today I am sad to report that we have experienced our first design casualty: the dining room mirror. It showed up to my apartment last week with a nice crack down the right side. At first I was devastated, however, upon further inspection it turns out the gilded gold is actually a splotchy yellow/brown so it would have been returned anyway. Online interior design can be extremely challenging and this is the perfect example of what you see isn't necessarily what you get.

This hiccup is going to change the entire vibe of our dining room. All things happen for a reason and since we scrapped the mirror, chose industrial pendants in the kitchen and verified that the original dining chandelier is out of our price point, it's back to the drawing board. We will keep the same color palette but make the space more relaxed and casual. This is why they call them "inspiration" rather than "reality" boards, right?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

color me bad

Let me clear one thing up: I don't actually hate color. In fact, I wear colorful clothing all of time. My husband often jokes that I am allergic to bold hues mostly because we are still putting together the first layers of our home. To me, choosing neutrals for the foundation is smart in our circumstance because we can always bring a space to life by layering colorful accessories. It's much easier to swap an end table or change a drape than it is to re-upholster a sofa or replace kitchen cabinetry. This way, we also allow ourselves the financial flexibility to ebb and flow with trends.

I the spirit of color (and an attempt to restore my husband's confidence in me) I've compiled some fun items that I plan to include in our home - or at least use as inspiration.

I am loving the combo of grey and bold colors, such a fun summer table setting. The above are sold out, but etsy always had fun and unique fabric napkin options.

To me, tortoise is a new-age classic. Found these glasses for a steal on One Kings Lane a few weeks ago. If you aren't already a member, just comment below and I would be happy to send you an invitation! By far my favorite daily discount site for home goods.

While I can't afford this beautiful Cozamia painting, I love the use of subdued hues. More lovely prints can be found here.

Lamps are the perfect way to make a bold statement. I am currently obsessed with this Regina Andrews lamp found here for our family room. It's sophisticated yet casual enough for Texas.

Fresh flowers are the perfect way to add class, color and a wonderful light fragrance to your home. Flowers can be expensive so one way we plan to save money is by including some of our favorite varietals in our own garden, such as hydrangea and lavender. Due to the dry Texas heat my ranunculus and peonies will have to be reserved for special occasion purchases.

We will always have this debate in my house: are throw blankets appropriate for nap time?
Husband says: yes
I say: no
While they can be used casually during family movie night, a nice throw adds color and life to a room much like art.  Cashmere is my favorite in juicy colors like vermilion and cerulean seen here.

I'll hide a cotton blanket in a cute basket for any sofa slumber that occurs.

Family photos. It doesn't feel like home until you surround yourself with loved ones.

From cookbooks to novels my husband and I really enjoy reading. Luckily, books are beautiful and when displayed correctly can double as art.

A dear family friend gave us some Le Creuset pieces in cobalt for our wedding and we are smitten...not to mention they add a great pop of color in our kitchen and my husband thinks I am miraculously a better cook.

Color is essential in making a home feel warm and inviting. I would never suggest a design based solely on what was "in" but I do like to mix and match traditional decor with small elements that are fresh, modern or on-trend. The best advice I can give when it comes to figuring out what trends or colors to follow is stick to whatever feels comfortable for you and your family. Don't lay down a grey chevron rug just because you saw it in a magazine, your home should be a collection of things you love and a reflection of who you are not who the mass retail chains tell you to be.

Monday, June 25, 2012

manic monday: wood you like to come over?


Wood floors are in! We still have many details to iron out but it's beginning to feel like a home now that the floors are down. We chose a very basic hardwood that was at a lower price point but came in a very classic color: coffee bean. We wanted to stay away from anything with too much red in it and neither of us are fond of the hand-scrapped look (must be our midwestern roots). Once again, keeping it simple and classic, we were able to stay within our budget yet still get a fabulous upgrade like wood floors.

Next stop: final coat of paint on the walls and molding.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

pendant plight

With an open "three-rooms-in-one" floor plan, lighting is key and must be coordinated. While the basic ceiling fixtures at the Design Center were decent, they severely lacked lighting with any character. To spruce up our house and take it from builder-standard to lux we want to invest in some unique, artistic chandeliers. Our dining room is at the center of the open floor plan so it was a no-brainer that we would invest in our own piece here. The kitchen is another story. The location of food preparation and midnight snacking needs good, yet simple illumination so to coordinate with our recessed can lights I wanted to include pendants over the island. In order to have the builder wire for these lights I had to purchase the fixtures through the Design Center (lame) and not only were they expensive but they also lacked any kind of style or sophistication. Refusing to pay for something only to turn around and replace it, I passed all together.

Just as I thought my pendant dreams were over, I mentioned my frustration to our contractor as soon as they began wiring and plumbing. Given that I keep a watchful yet respectful eye on the progress of our home I think I've built a decent rapport with the crew and out of the goodness and their hearts they threw in some wiring for pendants, gratis. It definitely pays (literally) to establish a good relationship with your contractor and obtain a basic understanding of the building process.

... or perhaps he is simply afraid of me, either way we got those lights!

True to character, I immediately began shopping for the perfect pendant. I wanted one that was clean, chrome and wouldn't steal the spotlight from our dining room chandelier.

1. In My Dreams

2. Too Dark

3. Too Simple
Home Decorators Collection

4. Too Industrial
Home Decorators Collection

5. Too Big
Progress Lighting

6. The Perfect Pendant
Circa Pendant

We were finally able to find the perfect pendant through an interior designer. The price is competitive with many fixtures we saw at home depot and lowes yet the quality is significantly better. They are a touch industrial without being overbearing and will be a wonderful high-end addition to the kitchen. Never be afraid to consult the experts if you can't find exactly what you are looking for.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

manic monday: she's a

Missed my cue yesterday, sorry. The man in my life returned and I got caught up in finally getting to show him our little investment in person. Luckily, he loved it. As you can see we finally have a brick house! Shutters and landscaping will turn this basic exterior into something more unique, but for now I am enjoying the timeless neutrality of our choice.

One of my favorite features, as I've mentioned before, is our walkout backyard. Finding a flat lot to build a new house on is rare here in San Antonio so I am ecstatic that we can have a great patio for grilling and mingling rather than a multi-layered deck.

Now that the brick is up I want to reiterate an earlier piece of advice that I gave, but this time about the exterior rather than the interior. Keeping it simple and classic in our price point has already set our home apart from the others in our neighborhood. There was an option to add stone facade to portions of our home and decorative faux accents but we declined. This may make our home seem boring to some, but in my opinion it will end up looking well put-together and classic once we get the accents up and landscaping done. From an investment standpoint this will hopefully add value to our bottom line without causing us to go broke in the process.

Monday, June 11, 2012

manic monday: white out

I've been accused in the past of being allergic to color. There is just something so clean, crisp and classic to me about white. I've been told that once I get a dog and have kids I will change my tune but for now, I'm not afraid to admit my love of neutrals. You can imagine my joy when I stepped into the house this weekend and discovered this white wonderland. We are still in the bare bones stage of our kitchen completion but it's fun to finally see exactly where everything in the space is going to go.

Next stop: more design inspiration!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

be our guest, be our guest

To me, there is nothing better than going to stay at a friend or family member's home and feeling welcome. Not like an imposition or an inconvenience, but like a treasured visitor. That is what I want guests in our new home to experience. Living away from family and friends has made me realize that I am passionate about making those who travel all the way to Texas feel welcome, loved and a little pampered.

Working with the Design Center on our bathrooms proved to be one of the most challenging projects I faced. First, they didn't have any tile options smaller than 12 x12 inches. Second, they did not carry a single tile in white. I am just as confused as you are. To me a bathroom should be clean and bright and that was going to be impossible to achieve given the builder's design I had to think outside the box.

I did a little research and found out that tile can actually be laid on top of vinyl flooring. This was the default option at the design center so I went with it, since the last thing I wanted to do was pay twice for flooring. I then spoke with my contractor and he graciously agreed to give me the name and number of his tile man. He will already be on site working in other areas of our house so he was able to reduce his travel and labor costs and had experience laying tile over vinyl. Jackpot.

A few other elements that we have added to the guest bath to make it extra lux include:

Mirrors: Straight from the home improvement mecca, these Diviana Mirrors from Home Depot run only $60 and will replace the sheet mirror that is initially installed. A huge design bang for our buck.

Towels: There are so many "luxury" towels on the market today, it's very difficult to know which ones are worth the extra money. To make my selection I asked a few of my Mom's interior design friends for recommendations and was shocked their vote was unanimous: Macy's Hotel Collection. I immediately scooped up two sets in Platinum during the Friends and Family event and the moment they arrived at my doorstep I was in love. Talk about plush. They aren't cheap but to me it's worth spending a bit more on something you plan to use everyday.

Tile: Once again, Home Depot pulls through with a very reasonable price on Hexagon Merola floor tile. In my dreams this bathroom is covered head to toe in Carrera Marble but that just wasn't realistic for our budget so I had to come up with a feasible alternative.

Accessories: I don't like a bathroom to be too cluttered with "stuff." A few accessories like a perfume tray, Jo Malone Candle and Perfume, Mint Julep Cups and some fresh flowers are as far as I'll go. I am also crazy about organization so I will use this Pottery Barn basket to store extra towels.

Faucets: This is the one area we chose to upgrade through the builder. Having chrome faucets will simply make the space look clean and classic.

Hardware: Since our home doesn't come with any kind of cabinet hardware I was on the hunt for an affordable, classic knob that would match our chrome accents. Home Depot was the winner yet again and for under $5 I found these rope-edged winners.

Now, who wants to be our first guest?

Monday, June 4, 2012

manic monday: sheet rock n' roll

I apologize for the recent radio silence, as you can see we are moving right along! The exterior hasn't changed much at this stage, but the entire interior is completely sheet rocked. I took the picture above while standing in the kitchen looking out at our family room and side yard. Coming from an apartment with only one window, I'm loving all of the natural light. The fireplace was an "extra" but I already can't wait to hang stockings from the mantle and enjoy a beautiful wood burning fire on Christmas Eve.

A funny side note, when I walked in to the house to take this picture the workmen were rocking out to some awesome spanish tunes. One in particular (must have been the pop star of the crew) was singing literally at the top of his lungs. He was so into the music it wasn't until the chorus, calling for a slight shimmy, that he swung around and realize he had an audience. I caught him by complete surprise but applauded immediately following his performance. A great moment.

I try to stop by the house every couple of days at this point since the walls are now officially closed up and most of the major decisions have been made. This paid off when I discovered they had forgotten to wire for our pendant lights over the island. Luckily, this was a quick fix that my contractor took care of right away but had we been further in the process it could have really set us back. Once the wood floors go down we will start getting into the customizable details, at which time I will no doubt pitch a tent in the front yard. Until then, I'm going to focus my excitement on the arrival of my husband this coming weekend! Back from a year long deployment I can't wait to see him and show him our new home!!

Next stop: more inspiration boards!