Saturday, January 31, 2009


I think it's fair to say that we love ourselves some Pottery Barn. You'll notice that Erin and I shop there frequently and often turn to the pages of their (multiple) catalogs for inspiration and decor ideas. Often times though, some of the items we long for are just over budget. Sure you can stalk the items online and visit the store religiously in the hopes of a stumbling upon a sweet-sweet sale. (Like my $45 nesting tables.) But other times... you just have to start looking for a look-a-like.

For example: I had been eyeing the Tanner Coffee Table for months but just couldn't justify spending nearly $400 for a couple of peices of glass shelved on an iron frame. So I searching online for a similar coffee table in the hopes of finding a better price.
As luck would have it, Jared and I visited a nearby Belfort Furniture Gallery one Sunday afternoon and found a serious look-a-like. It stopped me in my tracks, there on the showroom floor was the Tanner Coffee Table I'd been longing for... only it was $150 less expensive! (Not to mention, the sofa it was in front of looked strikingly similar to this but forgive me I can't remember the price tag now.) I mentioned to the sales man that I had seen a practically identical table at Pottery Barn. He said they sell tons of furniture that looks similar to styles found at Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel at a fraction of the cost.

Here's my new look-a-like Tanner table in our living room (still a work in progress). The glass top and shelf offer plenty of options for displaying books, magazines, candles, etc. Right now we are displaying our wedding album, (so it's easy to access when guests come over... no I'm not that vain, ok maybe just a little) a black leather tray with Greek key detail, and a set of ceramic canisters. You'd never guess it's not the real thing!
Anyone have other furniture shopping tricks they'd like to share?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dreaming of a Face Lift...

Not for me, silly, for my kitchen cabinets!

I have what one would call "builder-quality" honey oak cabinets. And wouldn't you know they don't coordinate well with ANYTHING in their current state. But they are in surprisingly good condition, so I've decided to take on a low-cost, high impact project this spring: Give this kitchen a face lift!

First: Paint the cabinets a pleasing creamy white. Our entire main level is black, cream, and caramel, with a red accessory here and there. A creamy white like Benjamin Moore's Mascarpone will work wonders to brighten and refresh the space.

Second: Add hardware. While I still can't decide on knobs or handles, I absolutely want the hardware to be black or dark bronze. When Erica and I visited a model home recently, the house was full of black/antique bronze hardware, and it was absolutely stunning. (We'll post more about our tour soon.)

From Cottage Living:

And finally, a slightly more ambitious goal this year: Install crown molding along the top of the cabinets.

Ours don't quite make it to the ceiling, so I want to dress them up a bit by cutting and installing a bit of crown molding along the top of the cabinets. In doing some research on crown molding, it looks like I can get molding for a reasonable price at our neighborhood Lowe's.

So there you have it, big plans in 2009 for the kitchen! (P.S. I've declared 2010 the "Year of the Granite Countertop." Hasta lavista laminate, hello year!)

Have you refaced your kitchen? Send us pics at -- we'd love to see your DIY kitchen projects!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Girl's been MIA

You may have noticed that it's been a while since I've posted anything but please let me explain. First of all, the "power supply" died on our home PC which made it impossible for me to upload any photos for the past two weeks. Second, given the extra time I found while the computer was out of comish... I decided to take on a minor remodel project in our master bathroom. You know how that goes... a two day project always ends up taking longer than expected so we are still working on the finishing touches. I'll be ready to reveal a before and after soon so stay tuned.

Until then I'll leave you with an obvious clue as to what you can expect from the big (errr, little) reveal!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WHAT?! Domino to Cease Publication??

According to Perez Hilton and Media Bistro, Conde Nast has announced that is ceasing publication of Domino. March 2009 will be its final issue. A sad day for young shelter-publication subscribers everywhere.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Williams-Sonoma Home: Extra 20% off

Did you see that Williams-Sonoma Home is taking an extra 20% off their semi-annual sale merchandise when you shop online through Sunday, February 1. Unfortunately I can't participate in this sale because of a little spree this weekend, but hopefully one of you, our faithful readers, can!

(I'll tell you about this weekend in a future post...but let's just say progress was made in the master bedroom and basement/Man Cave!)

If I were able to buy something during the W-S Home semi-annual sale, here are a few things that caught my eye:

The Greek Key table lamp

The Faux Fur Throw in Mink

And the Satin Stich Cotton Table Linens in Khaki.

Does anything strike your fancy at Williams-Sonoma Home this week?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Great Minds Think Alike

Erica and I recently added two new items to our dining areas: Two Sisal Rugs!

Since we love black as an accent color and are using it liberally in our homes, it's no surprise that we independently ended up selecting black-bound sisal rugs from two different merchants, within 24 hours of each other. Erica's is from Home Decorator's Collection, and mine came from Ballard Designs.

Natural fiber rugs like sisal rugs are a designer staple. Made from Agave sisalina, which is found in Africa and Brazil, they add an organic element to every home. Sisal rugs are stronger and more durable than other natural fiber rugs; they are naturally stain resistant and supposed to be a breeze to clean -- all you need to do is vacuum the rug regularly or shake it out to remove any debris that might sneak in there. And, they are much less expensive than other area rug options out there.

A rug that is easy to clean, durable, and inexpensive? Sign me up!

You may be wondering where we placed our new rugs, so here's a sneak peek:

Above: My (Erin's) dining room

Above: Erica's kitchen

I think it's safe to say this won't be our last natural fiber rug purchase. I can already think of a few others I'd like to bring home...

Ballard Design's Coventry Rug in the Living Room or Kitchen

West Elm's Jute Diamond Rug in the Master Bathroom

Pottery Barn's Flat Braided Jute Rug in the Bedroom

Do you like natural fiber rugs? Where have you used yours?

Friday, January 23, 2009

girl meets home, Girl Makes Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

While on the hunt for last week's soup recipe, I happened upon this recipe for Vegetarian Black Bean Chili. Perfect for the bone-chilling cold we've had on the East Coast, chili is one of my all-time favorite winter comfort foods.

If you're interested in making your own vegetarian chili, I altered this recipe slightly by adding one more clove of garlic, another onion, and also two tablespoons of hot sauce -- we like it hot, hot, hot in our house! I think I would also add one more can of beans -- either kidney or pinto to mix it up a bit.

First, prep all of the veggies -- chop the carrots, onions and zucchini, drain and rinse the black beans, thaw the frozen carrots, and mince the garlic.

Preheat your stock pot over medium-high heat. Once preheated (about two minutes), add one tablespoon of olive oil.

After another minute, add the onions and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Here's what mine looked like after five minutes.

Add the carrots and zucchini, chili powder and ground cumin. Cook for about eight minutes, stirring occasionally.

Here's what mine looked like after eight minutes.

Next, add the crushed tomatoes, corn, one cup of water, and hot sauce if you like it spicy. Simmer the chili on low heat for about 10 minutes.

YUM. This was quite tasty. I'm already looking forward to the leftovers! Enjoy!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I've Got a Secret...

...That of course I'm going to share! Tonight while on the phone with a Pottery Barn sales rep, I happened upon something I had never heard before:

Pottery Barn has secret weekly sales available only by phone!

According to the kind rep I spoke to tonight, the home furnishing and accessories giant has weekly unadvertised sales on an array of products -- window treatments, bedding, dining and entertaining products, and more -- and generally rotates the weekly sale items every Thursday.

And get this. The unadvertised weekly sale doesn't stop at our beloved PB.

PB, as most of you know, is a Williams-Sonoma company. And according to my reliable rep, these unadvertised sales by phone also take place at Williams-Sonoma Home and West Elm.

Lesson learned: Next time something strikes your fancy at any of these stores -- particularly a seasonal item -- check in with the phone reps at PB, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma Home. You never know, you may be able to take advantage of these sales on the DL!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Open Kitchen Storage?

So you may recall from my "Big Plans" post that I am dreaming of a kitchen built-in this year. While that dream is still very much alive, I thought it might be a good idea to explore some other options just in case my dreams are too far from reality; ie, my husband is an engineer not a carpenter. (That and I have a habit of changing my mind... like... all the time!) Here is a shot of the kitchen table and the sad empty wall behind it that is just begging for some attention:
Recently I've seen a ton of kitchens with open storage. I like the idea of using a series of matching wall shelves to create open storage in the kitchen because everything will be in plain sight. Not to mention the fact that installing a set of shelves is less expensive and way less permanent than a built-in. With so many items on display and at your finger tips, it's a sure fire way to remember to use the serving dishes, vases, and glasses you already own. Here's a look at the different ways people are using shelves to keep their dishes out in the open:

Pottery Barn's Modern Shelves:
And check out this awesome site,, they dedicated an entire entry to open shelves in the kitchen. NOTE: You must visit this site and stay a while. Add it to your favorites as I'm sure it will become one. It is a mecca for anyone thinking about remodeling! I am a big fan of these floor to ceiling shelves sporting a colorful display of dishes, books, and glass canisters:
Where to buy said shelves? I found several options and thought I'd share my findings here:
1.) Pottery Barn's Modern Wall Shelves
2.) Pottery Barn's Holman Wall Shelves
3.) Ikea's Lack Shelves
4.) CB2's Wedge Wall Shelves
5.) West Elm's Chunky Wall Shelves
So what do you think? Is open storage a good idea?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Custom Window Treatments

When it comes to window treatments the possibilities are truly endless. Depending upon your style, budget, and desired functionality, you can find thousands of looks for windows of all shapes and sizes. Drapes, shades, curtains, valances, swags (who came up with that ugly sounding name?), or padded boxes known as cornices. Styles range from simple to complex in their construction and are usually priced according to the quality of fabric used. Being the budget conscious gal that I am, I decided on two simple designs with clean lines and fun fabrics. I also enlisted the help of my mom to do the sewing!
The first project she constructed for me was a set of "Stagecoach Valances" for my bedroom. We saw the style online and decided to give it a try on our own. This valance calls for two different fabrics, one for the dominant side that faces out, and the other which is exposed only on the rolled portion. I found both fabrics on sale at Calico Corners and scooped them up. The dominant print is Malaysia Black and the backing is a neutral solid I found in the clearance section. We used a black grosgrain ribbon to tie the look together.

Next, for my guest bedroom, we decided to make a single Roman Shade. The same shade would have cost around $99 off the shelf. Instead I bought 5 yards of Pottery Barn's Songbird fabric for only $45 on sale (to match a duvet I already owned) and had my mom do the sewing. Amazingly enough, she finished in a few days and the window looks so much better with a little shade.
This is the best angle I could get of the room to show both the window and the bed. Our guest room is still a work in progress but I think we're off to a decent start.
Like any home design project, completing one means beginning another. This is a picture of our third bedroom that doubles as our home office. We've done the room in deep blues and bright whites and used a simple day bed as a place to lounge. What should we do with this window? Another roman shade, perhaps?

What a Steal: Hello, Fleur de Lis

What a steal! Last weekend Erica and I hit Calico Corners to get a quote for an upholstery project in her home, and to pick up some pillow covers that I had ordered.

When she got there, she noticed Calico was offering 50% off floor samples. So while she waited for me, she did a lap around the store on the hunt for a bargain.

As soon as I arrived, I was immediately pulled over to see a very large fleur-de-lis lamp that was originally $285 and marked down to $85!

I looooooved the lamp (hello, fleur de lis and black!), and what perfect timing -- last week I had just been thinking that I needed another larger scale lamp for my living room! Thanks to Erica's eagle eye, I brought home a nearly $300 lamp for under $100 -- thanks, S-I-L!

Monday, January 19, 2009

History Lesson: Toile

Toile -- one of my all-time favorite patterns. So classic, so French, and in today's more modern interiors, so transitional in unexpected colors like lime, mimosa, or fuschia.

Officially known as Toile de Jouy, toile is a type of decorating pattern that more traditionally consists of a white or off-white background, on which a pattern that usually depicts a fairly complex scene -- generally of a pastoral theme -- is repeated. Toile fabrics can also consist of arrangements of flowers, birds, or in more contemporary patterns, American urban dwellings.

The pattern most often consists of a single color, traditionally black, dark red, or blue. Greens, browns and yellow toile patterns are less common but becoming more prevalent in modern interiors, where you are also likely to find toile patterns in even less-traditional colors, like:

Green with magenta:

Electric orange with fuschia:

Black with a cream:

Toile de Jouy originated in France in the late 1700s. In the French language, the phrase literally means "cloth from Jouy-en-Josas", a town of north-central France. Although it has been continuously produced since then, it experienced a marked upsurge in popularity around the year 2000, and today you'll find it in interiors of all kinds -- traditional, shabby chic, transitional, and modern.

Do you use toile in your home? If so, how so?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

DIY: Custom Lamp Shades

Here's an easy DIY project to add a custom look to any old lamp shade.

  • lamp shade
  • fabric adhesive spray
  • scissors
  • large piece of scrap paper
  • pen or pencil

Step #1: Start by laying out your scrap paper on a table or large work surface. Find the seam of your lamp shade and place it at one end of the paper. Next, practice rolling the shade from one end of the paper to the other so that you know how much material you'll need to make your pattern. When you have a good idea of what your working with, use a pen or pencil to trace the edge of the shade as you roll it across the paper.

Step #2: Now you can start to see the shape of the lamp shade on your scrap paper. Draw a second line about an extra inch to an inch and a half along all sides of the pattern to allow enough fabric to wrap the edges when you apply it to the shade. Place your pattern on top of your fabric, print side down. Using fabric scissors, cut along the outermost line you just made. What you'll be left with is a piece of fabric that is larger than the shade.

Step #3: Practice rolling the paper pattern around your lamp shade to ensure that you've given yourself enough fabric to work with before you adhere anything to the shade. Once you're confident that the pattern you just cut will cover the entire shade, move onto the next step.

Step #4: Read the instructions on your spray adhesive before you begin to spray. (I used Krylon Spray Adhesive that I found at Michael's in the spray paint aisle). Spray the lamp shade evenly and then place it on your cut out fabric, be sure the print side is facing down! Next, roll the shade slowly onto the sticky fabric. Let the adhesive dry for a few minutes and then begin folding the excess fabric into the shade at the top and bottom.

Here's a trick: Cut a few slits every inch or two around the top and bottom of the excess fabric so that it lays flat when you fold it into the shade. Use your spray adhesive to make the excess fabric stick inside.

Step #5: Once the fabric has sufficiently dried, place the newly dressed shade on top of your lamp and enjoy! You can go one step further and add ribbon or a decorative trim to the top/bottom of your shade if you so desire. I had some extra black grosgrain ribbon laying around, so I added that to my shade to give it a more finished look.

This project was not only easy, but also pretty inexpensive. I used leftover fabric and ribbon from my custom window treatments, a $5 lamp shade from Target, a $15 lamp base, and spent around $5 on the spray adhesive. So my custom lamp shade cost a grand total of $25 and took a short time to complete. Go ahead, give it a try and send me a picture of your custom shade!