Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How To: Prepare for a Project Involving Sanding...Lots of Sanding

Prepping for the big kitchen project this week was not fun, not fun at all. But I'm so glad we did because we hopefully will save ourselves a lot of unnecessary dusting by adequately preparing for the project.

First, we moved everything we could from the kitchen, dining room and living room, down to the basement.

Talk about feeling claustrophobic.

Then, we covered everything that had to stay upstairs with dropcloths of all shapes, sizes, and materials.

Finally, since our kitchen has two entrances and a cut out, we duct-taped more plastic drop cloths all three access points to keep as much dust in the kitchen as possible.

Finally, we turned off the air conditioning in the house. Thankfully it's been a cool couple of days in the DC area.

Here's hoping all this prep truly pays off!

Will post the new kitchen walls as soon as the house is put back together again. Anyone else in the middle of a big project?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today's the day

It's finally here -- today is "DT" Day, or "De-Texture" Day in our Kitchen. While I got a ton of fun things done over the weekend, which I can't wait to blog about, Christian and I spent a lot of yesterday evening prepping to have the horrid wall texture removed from our kitchen. I'll be back with pictures of the prep work tonight. For more information on the project, and a picture of just how awful the texture was, check out last month's post.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Summer's here!

It's official, summer is here! This weekend I've spent a few hours outside, adding to the curb appeal of our home. The project's not done yet, so in the meantime, here's a sneak peek:

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Louis: Latest Obsession

Some day... when I have an dining formal room... I wish for chairs like these to surround my table.

Camille Collection Dining Chair, Arhaus - $449

Louis Chair, Pottery Barn - $349

Louis Leather Side Chair, Ballard Designs - $559

They work with so many styles and are so classic. And if your taste in colors change over the years, you can reupholster the seats and backs for an instant update.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Style Advice: Shoe-In Suggestions

Yesterday Erica asked for shoe advice for a beautiful new Nicole Miller she snagged for an amazing price! Thanks to those who sent us your suggestions!

Last night I spent some time trolling around Zappos and Piperlime for metallic sandals for under $100. Because the dress is a dynamic saturated print, I think a light metallic sandal would work well as it's neutral enough so that it won't distract from the print, but will still add a little something more than the ivory peep toes. Besides it's summer -- what better time is there to wear a sexy sandal?

So, without further ado, here are my top picks for Erica's knock-out Nicole Miller dress:

Nine West Mushu:


Light Gold:Nine West MochaNotice I didn't pick any embellished sandals -- I think embellishment would take away from the dress and be a bit too busy.

Nine West's Mushu (in Light Gold or Silver) is my top pick -- I like the way the curvy straps compliment the flower print.

But what do all of you think? What should Erica pair with her fabulous find?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Style Advice

I recently found this amazing Nicole Miller dress at Lord & Taylor and now I'm looking for some helpful style advice.

Poppy Print on Reverse Stretch Charmeuse dress, original price $355.

The dress fits like a glove thanks to the fitted bodice inside, no under-garments required. And, the day I bought it L&T was having a 40% off sale for card holders (lucky for me I have a generous mother who put the dress on her charge card and I wrote her a check). Plus, by some miracle, I actually found it on the sale rack in my size, which never happens, so I ended up paying $147 for a $355 dress. Score!

Back to the advice though... I can't find shoes! I bought a pair of these ivory peep-toes but they are too boring for a dress this fun:

Gordona Ivory Patent Croc, Bandolino
- $68

HELP! I need to find shoes this week because I'm hoping to wear the dress on Saturday! If you have any suggestions, pretty-pretty-please send them my way!

Monday, May 18, 2009

ANTHROPOLOGIE: For the Gift Giver

If you're a "girl meets home" kind of a gal, you might find yourself shopping for bridal shower and wedding gifts this time of year. I tend to stick to the bride's registry for most of my gift giving (ask and ye shall receive), but for bridal showers I like to supplement a smaller registry item with something flirty and fun. My go to store: ANTHROPOLOGIE.

My favorite bridal shower gift for a bride-to-be has to be an apron from Anthropologie. What nearly-wed doesn't need a cute accessory for the kitchen? Pair a full or half apron with a few cook's tools; spatulas (in a coordinating color), rolling pins, cookies sheets, etc. That way your friend can look the part as she makes something sweet for her husband, or herself (in most cases). Here are a few of my favorites:

Sunny Rose Apron, $32

And, depending upon which apron you pick, you might find a coordinating oven mitt or pot holder... so cute!
And these Florist Measuring Cups ,$36 are too pretty to keep in a drawer... any bride would adore a set of her own!
So future brides, be prepared... chances are if I'm at your shower, you'll be opening up one of these beauties! Need more bridal gift ideas?... let me know and I'll see what I can do to help!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Waverly, Lovely Lattice

Just got a package with three yards of Waverly's Lovely Lattice indoor/outdoor fabric:

I plan to use about a yard for some extra details on the hutch I just refinished. (Post coming soon.) And save the leftover fabric for future use... I might make pillows or place mats in a few weeks. This print comes in several other colors, check them out here. I ordered from because the price per yard was around $11 and shipping was a flat fee of $10. You might try Joann Fabric as well because they typically have online coupon codes (I've seen up to 50% off a yard before.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Old Door - New Table

How cool is this idea? Turning an old 5 or 6 paneled front door into a dining room table? It's perfect for a narrow dining room and lends itself to a ton of creative potential. Design Sponge featured this dining table made from a re-purposed front door sometime last year. I love how the designer used decorative paper in each of the inset panels. Who needs a runner or place mats when your table looks like this?For a step by step how to from Design Sponge, click here.

I spent some time looking for other examples of 'doors gone table' and found a beautiful old, distressed, white door on simple saw horses being used as a desk. Just think how much of a surface area you'd have to work with on a desk this long!

For more about this DIY project, click here.

I wish I had a picture of my dining room table to show you... maybe I can take one tonight. It's a pretty inventive little table and has really withstood the test of time. My grandfather crafted it for my parents out of a small drop leaf table and a large piece of plywood sometime in the early 70's. They used it for years and years before they could afford a grown up dining set of their own. Then they passed it on to Jared and I when we bought our house in 2007. We love having a table large enough for family dinners but since the top is plywood... it always needs a table cloth. So when I saw this dining door table idea... I thought it would be perfect for our narrow dining space. Now... where can I find a vintage door?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Old Luckett's Store

If you haven't been to The Old Luckett's Store in Leesburg, VA then you are missing out. It's almost too good to talk about but since I hope they are in business forever... I had to share this gem with you. You might want to start by visiting their website for a sneak peak at some of the "Fresh Off the Wagon" items.

The old house is jam-packed with vintage items at great prices. You can find everything from furniture to knick-knacks to vintage clothing and accessories. There is something for everyone! You might find a vintage piece that needs a little TLC, like Erin's $40 gold mirror that she updated with a can of white spray paint for an instant chic-ification.

I've bought a few decorative items from Luckett's including a set of four Italian dishes and a white ceramic artichoke. On my next visit, I plan to look for an old 5 or 6 panel front door for a DIY project I'm planning. Let me know what you walk away with!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fashion Photography Tuesday

This morning I saw a post at Paris Hotel Boutique about fashion photographer Tom Palumbo's work. Check out PHB's post here, and Tom Palumbo's Flickr photo stream here. Thought I would share two of my favorite Tom Palumbo images this morning.

What I always imagined summers would look like.

My idol Grace Kelly.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Backyard Bliss

Now that the weather is warming up... I am craving an outdoor space where we can eat, drink, and relax. Living in a townhouse shouldn't limit your outdoor experience but it can be tough to bring the indoors out when space is tight. We have a small deck that leads down to our small yard... but I'm determined to make our little plot of land an oasis for the summer. Here's the vision:

It all starts with a new patio... stone pavers in alternating sizes will set the perfect platform for a dining, grilling, and drinking area. I've been trying (not so successfully) to convince Jared that we can tackle a patio ourselves... but the trouble is our sloping yard. It's definitely our biggest challenge.

But I won't let it kill the dream... a dining table for four, two Adirondack-like chairs that we already own (they sit right in the grass as of now, and it's good enough but looks a little trailer park if you ask me), a few new planters, lanterns, and a big ol' bucket-o-beer (with ice). I'd be perfectly happy sweating out the summer months in my own backyard.

My parents promised us their old wrought iron dining table (they just upgraded to a larger one) and I found chairs that would match perfectly for only $22 at Costco. Have any of you done a patio project? Is it something you'd leave for the pro's or would you fearlessly commit to building it on your own?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Goodbye, Gown...

Yesterday I decided it was time to take my wedding gown in for preservation.

Since I won't be able to touch it or look at it outside of a box ever again, I took the opportunity to say goodbye and snap a few pictures before I brought it to the preservation specialists.

This was my dream gown -- A strapless silk satin A-line gown with a sweetheart neckline. Bodice and hem accented by Alencon lace from France. Alencon "eyelashes" lined the neckline of the bodice.

The hem also incorporated my favorite element -- a pleated silk satin ruffle. (I wasn't kidding when I told you I love pleats!)

I'll miss you, gown! You made me feel more beautiful than I have ever felt, the way gowns are supposed to make their brides feel. If Christian and I have a daughter some day, I hope that she'll want to wear you on her wedding day. Until then, I must bid you au revoir. I hope to see you again -- outside of a box -- in anywhere from 25-35+ years!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Window Box & Planters: Herbs

I'm looking for a window box that I can hang from the railing on my back deck. Instead of potted flowers though, I'd like to stock this planter with herbs. Dontcha' just hate spending $2 for a handful of herbs at the grocery store when you could spend the same amount on a living plant and pull from it week after week?

As much as I'd love to DIY a window box, it would be easier to buy one that is ready to go. Check out this idea from Martha Stewart.

And here are a few tips for successfully growing herbs. Good luck!

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Little Reinvention Goes a Long Way

So, here's the deal. Remember the tall chest I bought for my bedroom? Unfortunately, we ended up having to return it. I was so sad to see it go, but apparently it wasn't meant to be.

Because it took me 4+ years to find the tall chest that didn't work out, and I refuse to spend money on anything that I "like but don't love," I've decided to save our money and reinvent what we have with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware until I find "the one[s]." ("The one[s]" being the perfect tall chest and night stands or side tables.)

We already have two matching oak night stands and one oak bureau that dates back to the 1870s. If we just paint these pieces a creamy white and add new hardware, they will feel brand new. And, when I find "the one[s]" we can easily move them to the guest room.

I think I already know which white to use -- Benjamin Moore's Simply White. It's so pretty with just a hint of cream, without being too ivory (in person).

But that's not all I have up my sleeve -- I want to make fabric drawer liners for the bureau!

I've done a little research and I *think* it will only take mat board or cardboard cut to fit each drawer, a hot glue gun or other adhesive, and some pretty fabric.

These are the fabrics I like right now:

Our bedroom color palette is silver sage, beige, white and espresso. We have RH's Hotel duvet cover and shams in silver sage and chocolate, and PB Matine Toile in espresso.

Clockwise from top left:
So, that's the plan for now. I'll keep you posted on progress, but this project may not be completed until the end of June. I am DYING to paint the kitchen cabinets and the kitchen walls are scheduled to be de-texturized, skimmed, and painted after Memorial Day, so that's the immediate priority.

Do you guys have any big painting projects or furniture makeovers in the works? Do tell!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Before & After: Accent Table

Inspired by Erica's gorgeous china hutch makeover, last night I grabbed my paint brush and refreshed a little pine accent table in my bedroom.

The tiny pedestal table was a freebie from my mother-in-law, and currently holds my bedtime reading...which includes the Domino book (oh how I miss you, Domino), plenty of Martha Stewart (what a surprise!...okay not really if you know me) and Real Simple, among other shelter pubs.

Three coats of Benjamin Moore Gossamer Blue semi gloss later, this petite yet shapely table feels like brand new, and for under $18 (the cost of a quart of paint).


Powder Room Update

Remember the five-paneled mirror I scored at Home Goods last November for a mere $60?

When I bought it I hoped it would replace the standard oval mirror that hung in our powder room on the main level of our townhome.

Unfortunately...the mirror wouldn't fit length-wise because the bulbs on the then-current fixture pointed down.

For a couple of months I searched high and low for a bath sconce that pointed up, rather than down, and was under $100.

Finally, I found exactly what I was looking for at Restoration Hardware -- the Vintage Double Sconce -- which was on sale for $64.99, and had the contemporary traditional look I like.

It ended up working perfectly! Because the powder room is so small, the much larger mirror makes it feel like a bigger space.

This powder room is a kind of like a little wall pocket, so please excuse the pictures -- it was really difficult to get a good one because it's so tiny!

Here's my Home Goods find:

Here's the sconce:

And here they are together (from the hallway...I'm telling you, this powder room is small!):

Not a bad update for under $140!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Italian Dishes

The wall above our kitchen sink has looked like this since we repainted the kitchen last year:

Empty... until I found a set of four dishes with black & white paintings of Italian buildings. (And they were actually made in Italy too!):

I must have been standing on one foot when I snapped this picture... sorry it's crooked.

I saw these plates at the Old Luckett's Store in Leesburg and decided to buy them, not knowing what I'd do with them... I think they fit nicely in the awkward wall above the sink.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Before & After: China Hutch

Back in February we bought this Ethan Allen hutch from a Craigslist seller for just $225, which we thought was a deal. At first sight I was in love with this piece but knew it needed a massive makeover before it would really feel at home in our kitchen. So I removed all of the old hardware, glass inserts, and took off the doors and drawers and got right to work. Here are some of the before pictures:

And after two weekends of sanding, priming, painting, and installing new hardware... the much anticipated after pictures:

It looks even better in person... so you'll have to just trust me! I am so happy with the results and love the clean white finish against the satin brushed silver hardware. I'll go into more detail later on the actual process and I have one more change I still need to make to really give this a finished look... but for now I'll be enjoying my brand spankin' new hutch and I hope you are too!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Some Like it White Hot

It's probably pretty obvious that Erica and I are partial to a particular color scheme in home decor: Black and White.

While looking around my living room, dining room and kitchen this morning, I noticed just how prominent the black accessories are in the black and white/cream decor. While I don't think it's too much, it would probably be a good idea to incorporate a little more white/ivory for added contrast.

So this afternoon I checked out a few of my favorite retailers to see what's out there in white/cream, and put together a mood board with some finds. This is my favorite mood board yet, check it out!

Clockwise, from top left:

1. Diagonal Selvedge Pillow Cover, West Elm: I love pleats and these incorporate one of my favorite elements in a light summery pillow cover.

2. Great White Heirloom Serving Bowl, Pottery Barn: This bowl will add a little panache to your table while used for its original purpose, but I also like the idea of incorporating it into a spring and summer centerpiece. For instance, imagine it filled with bright yellow lemons.

3. Cordoba Mirrors, Ballard Designs: Wouldn't a large group of these hung above a bed be interesting? I really like the pattern and texture of these whitewashed mirrors.

4. Ceramic Artichoke Sculptures, Bassett Furniture: {sigh} I can't get enough of these ceramic artichokes. For proof, click here and here.

5. Emma Pitcher, Pottery Barn: I love the vintage appeal of this pitcher, particularly the beading. What a pretty way to serve an ice-cold beverage on a hot summer day. And when not entertaining, I would fill it with hydrangea, peonies, or tulips and use it as a centerpiece.

6. Stella Vase, Crate and Barrel: The texture of this vase really makes it pop. A friend gave this to me as a shower gift last year -- I love it!

7. French Chair with Slipcover, Wisteria: I just want to curl up in this chair with a latte and a Marie Antoinette biography. With the ruffle slipcover, it looks like it belongs in a quaint apartment in Paris...or my home in the U.S. Maybe it will go on sale some time this year and I can think about making it mine!

8. Balustrade Lamp, Circa Lighting: When Erica and I toured a local ($1.2M) model home a few months ago, a pair of alabaster lamps just like this sat atop the nightstands on either side of the bed in the master bedroom. Love the shape and contemporary/traditional feel.

9. Cutwave Dress, J.Crew: And finally, I'm throwing in this white dress just's so pretty! Imagine it with pale gold heels, and large blue gemstone earrings. Love it! Will definitely keep my eye on it in case it hits the sale pages at J.Crew this season.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Girl Makes Shrimp Scampi on Couscous

This week I'm bringing back a feature we used to post weekly here on girl meets home -- "Girl Makes [insert recipe]." In this economy, who isn't cooking at home more often in an effort to save money and be healthy? I thought this would be a neat little way to share our favorite healthy (or semi-healthy) recipes.

Last night this "girl" made Shrimp Scampi on Couscous, courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis. We have all of her books...I think the fascination originally started on Christian's end because he thinks she's hot. From my perspective, this woman can cook and her recipes make it so easy for us mere mortals to be superstars in the kitchen.

This is one of my favorite recipes right now. Essentially a three-part process, I recommend this for weekend dining, or weeknights when you're feeling a little more ambitious.

Of course, I began making this dish by prepping all of my veggies and gathering all other ingredients.

Then I heated a large saucepan on medium heat, and poured in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Once the olive oil was heated through -- give it a minute or two -- add the onion, carrot, and garlic. Saute for about five minutes.

Here are the veggies after five minutes:

Add the diced tomatoes (1-15 oz. can will work for this recipe), the clam juice and white wine. Bring to a boil and simmer on Low for about 10 minutes.

Here's the sauce after 10 minutes.

Remove the sauce from heat. Carefully add the sauce to a blender and puree.

The recipe calls for using a food processor to puree the sauce, but I used my blender; I figured it would be easier to pour once combined.

Add two cups of the sauce back to the saucepan. Leave the remaining sauce in the blender -- you'll use it later to top the dish once it's plated.

Then add one cup of water and a tablespoon of olive oil. Bring it the a boil.

Once it's boiling, stir in the couscous. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside until the couscous absorbs the liquid...about 10 minutes.

In a large skillet or saute pan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the raw shrimp and saute until pink..about 5 or 6 minutes.

Once cooked, remove from the heat, add the freshly-squeezed lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt, and parsley (optional if you don't have it on hand).

At this point, your couscous should be ready, and everything's ready to serve!

Scoop some couscous onto your plate, add shrimp (don't forget the scampi sauce in the pan!), and top with the leftover tomato sauce in your blender. Voila -- now you're ready to enjoy!

$$ Tip: Don't forget -- any leftovers will make a great lunch or two over the next two days.