Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wood Floors

So, the remodel is coming along really well.  For the most part.  One of my favorite developments of late is the hard wood floors.   Little Pink House III already had hardwood floors on the main floor.  And, surprisingly, they were in pretty good shape (miraculous, really, considering the state of the rest of the house).  They weren't the trendy wide planks. Not even the mainstream medium planks; they were the traditional, even old-fashioned skinny planks of red oak.  But they were not terribly scratched or dented.  And skinny red-oak planks are pretty classic.  So we decided to refinish them rather than rip them out and start over.

So our flooring guy, Josh, and his crew came over and patched some spots that had to be cut to fix pipes/vents, fill in holes from the previous island configuration, add wood to the office and new dining room, and remove hardwood from the old half of the enlarged family room (where we will put in carpet).  

Next we got to choose a stain.  Right now ΓΌber dark floors are very a la mode.  (Meaning "of the fashion" not "with ice cream" in case you're not up on your French translations.) (Although, now that I think of it, my floors are covered in ice cream often enough that you could use either meaning really).   So that was our first thought--VERY dark.  Espresso dark. But then we've also seen a few examples of floors done with a grey stain.  Sort of Cape Cod beach house looking.  It was intriguing.  And after every person we know with dark wood floors had told us that dark wood floors are of the devil (dirt-wise) we though maybe grey night be a better option.  Or a lighter brown.  Yes, indecisive is a good word for us.  So we had Josh paint us a bunch of swatches:

Immediately, we both decided we hated the grey.  It was very blue and brown.  Red Oak is a very grainy wood with a lot of light and dark variation.  And it seemed that the light spots turned very blue but the dark spots kept a lot of their brown.  And overall, instead of seeming beachy like it might on hickory or maple, it just looked hideous.

The two lighter brown stains were...blah.  Safe, practical, and pretty boring.  They look the same in this picture, but the one on the far left "spice brown" is more cool and the one 2nd to the right "dark walnut" is more red.   

The white glaze was thrown in on a whim.  And we both were immediately intrigued by it.  It also carried a sort of beach house look, but somehow more clean and modern.  And Josh The Floor Guy said that white is surprisingly good for floors in terms of not showing dirt. Probably the best of all of the colors, he said.  So that made us even more interested in the white.  But it also tended to look just a little bit unfinished. And we worried that people would wonder if we even had the floors stained.  We also wondered if we had the balls to carry off something that bold and unconventional.  Hmmm...it warranted some thought.

And then there was the black "Ebony".  Although we were both immediately drawn towards it because all the pictures in our minds and on our Houzz accounts had dark wood floors, it was VERY dark.   And very cool, not a warm espresso color.    And then there were all the horror stories about every speck of dust and every crumb of any kind standing out like dandruff on a priest.  So we just weren't sure.

A day or two later, Big Daddy had gone to lunch at a local favorite called The Dodo.  And as he looked down at their floors, he realized they were the exact size and type of wood as our floors, and the color was PERFECT.  So he snapped a picture, we sent it to Josh, and Josh made up a concoction all his own to produce a lighter warmer shade of brown than the Ebony, but darker and more dramatic than the medium browns.   With 2 parts Spice Brown and 1 part Ebony....

We saw the swatch and loved it.  It looked just right to us.  So we gave the go ahead.  And within a couple of days, our hardwood floors were done!

Behold!  Spiced Ebony!!

It actually turned out quite a lot lighter in real life than in this picture.  It looks VERY dark here, but in real life it turned out surprisingly light.  Almost too light.  At first we were both like, "....um..."  But the more we look at it, the more we like it.   It's light enough to be classic and timeless, but dark enough to be striking.  I can't wait to see how it looks with furniture!

Maybe this picture is more accurate?

And one surprise... 


We chickened out on doing the whole house, but we both liked the idea enough to do one room in it.  So Josh built in a threshold piece to divide the entry from the office and put on the white glaze.   And we love it!  Way more than I expected to.  In fact, now I kind of wish we'd done the whole house in it!  Hahaha.  Oh well.  I do love the color we chose.  And now I know that in some future world where I refinish or install wood floors again, the white glaze is beautiful and I don't need to be such a chicken!

Next up?  Carpet!

**If you stopped by, leave a comment!  I'd love to know what you think.**

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I hate grout.  Hate it with a burning passion.  If you've ever had tile, you'll know that grout is a complete nightmare.  It is always dirty, so hard to clean, rough, stained, traps dust and spills.....I'm not even close to being a germ-o-phobe, but the thought of what is down in those cracks gives me the heebie-jeebies.  And then there's how it looks.  Even though I steam clean (AKA sterilize) my floor regularly, nothing seems to make it look better.  I've tried everything!  Bleach, Lemi-Shine, even scrubbing it with Comet and a toothbrush.  But it still always looks grimy and stained.   Tile is also cold.  And really hard underfoot.  So when we bought Little Pink House III and began renovations, I was pretty determined not to have any tile in it.  But, the alternatives were wood (not good in wet areas like bathrooms) and laminate flooring (ew!).  So I decided to take another look into the tile option.

The upside of tile is that it can be really beautiful.  So the appearance of the tile itself wasn't an issue.  But that grout!  So when I went to tile stores, I asked around:  What products were there that could make tile more user friendly?  Less rough?  Less prone to staining?  Easier to clean?   I got several answers.  The first was, make your tile joints a lot smaller.  Back in the day, people used these giant  1/4" grout joints.  But for almost all tile, you can get away with 1/8" or sometimes even 1/16".  Done!  Then, as for grout products, I was told:  1) Epoxy.  This is a combination of grout and epoxy.  It has a more smooth plastic feel.  It doesn't stain at all so it stays looking nice and it's easy to clean.  BUT it was a nightmare to work with, I was told.  And at almost $200 a bucket, doing 5 bathrooms, a laundry room, and a mud room was out of the question.  2) Polyurethane grout.  Same idea.  Made of polymers mixed with grout.  Smooth, stain free.  But about half the price.  Still, at $100 a bucket I was looking at a fortune just for grout.  3) Finally, on the advice of a very knowledgeable tile guy at my tile store, we found that mixing the sealant in WITH the grout, and some other special additive, made the grout really even in color without the usual staining caused by sealing it, and it responds way better to cleaning.  I had my doubts.  I still do.  I still think I may end up tearing my hair out over this amount of tile I just put in.  But he seemed pretty sure I'd like the result so....I went tile shopping.

For the master bathroom tile, Big Daddy and I chose a cream colored, shiny modern tile. 13x35, so pretty big slabs.  It has a sort of bamboo-ish stripe pattern to it.  I love it!  It will go on the bottom half of the shower and the tub skirt.

We paired that with 3x6 sea glass subway tile for the top half of the shower, the tub backsplash and the vanity backsplash, 1x1" sea glass mosaic tile for the shower floor, and Big Daddy chose a dark brown slightly linen striped 12x24" for the floor.


The tile in the master bath is all finished.  Do you want a sneak peak??  (The walls are still not painted and the floor is dusty, so obviously it'll look better than this when it's all finished and clean.)

Pippa's bathroom upstairs got a retro look with black and white hex tile.  I need to pick out a fun, whimsical towel/shower curtain design that won't be too busy for this polka dot look.  Any ideas?

Daphne and Beck's bathroom got a very modern 24x24" beige linen tile.  It was on sale for $2/square foot! And because it was such a deal, we splurged and bought this absolutely gorgeous aqua hex tile for the backsplash.

The upstairs laundry I chose black and white checkered 12x12" tile just like in my laundry currently.  Only it turns out that the one I bought is SUPER smooth and shiny.  I'm a little afraid of the cleaning prospects. Just see how dusty it is now!  However, since no one else ever does laundry but me, once the construction is over and the floor is carpeted, it will probably stay a lot cleaner.

The main floor powder room and mud room both got a really cool grey 12x24 inch tile with a glossy stripe pattern in it.   It has a little bit of brown tones in the stripes, which will go well with the brown hardwood floors just outside the mudroom and powder room.

And then on a whim we decided to tile the entire back wall of the powder room with a gorgeous lantern patterned tile.   It will be so amazing when the lights are in and the shiny red vanity is installed!

The only room remaining untouched is the basement bath.  Big Daddy chose a wood-look tile called Eclipse Olive. It looks like this...

And the general look of the room we're trying to achieve is this.  Very spa-like.  (Only minus all the fancy shower heads and steam thingies.  This is a GUEST bath not an actual spa!  Sheesh.)

Unfortunately, we've fun out of money to finish this bathroom so it'll have to wait until some future date when money shows up again.  Probably 2019.

The fireplaces, also, will have to wait. They had these horrible faux marble and faux granite surrounds, both mauve!  So those got ripped out and will be replaced with a lovely herringbone pattern, maybe like this (but probably not limestone = EXPENSIVE!)  Someday....

Of course, the kitchen backspash will be tile too.  I'm pretty set on a penny tile or an oval penny tile.  But since the kitchen doesn't exist yet (supposedly its going in on Thursday), I just haven't gotten my brain that far.  I'll update on that later.

Anyway, that, my friends, is how tile came back into my life.  I will report back later on whether the measures we took to make my life less plagued by grout were successful or not!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Oscars 2014 Fashion Wrap Up!

You know what time of year it is, right?  It's that time of year where I take a break from whatever other nonsense I'm usually blogging about for something TRULY important:  The Academy Awards Gowns!!

This year my overall comment from the Oscars was "Meh."  Truly!  With one exception, and I'm sure we all know who that is, there just wasn't much that stunned me, for good or for bad.  But here are a few of the ones I picked out that warranted any comment at all.

1)  As if it needed any explanation, the beautiful Nairobi blue Prada gown worn by Lupita Nyong'o was breathtaking.  Just breathtaking.  Elegant, soft, ethereal, perfect.  And her darling headband and gold earrings were just the right touch of warmth.  LOVED it.  

2) Cate Blanchette's dress truly enchanted me.  The sparkley bits, the cut, the fit....I enjoyed every minute of it.  

3) My next favorite was on Portia Di Rossi.  I just adored the interesting pattern and the unique neckline.  She looked statuesque in it. 

4) LOVED Penelope Cruz's pink and black gown.  I am pretty sure she's pregnant.  And if so, she definitely wins for best maternity gown.  And if not, WHOOPS!  But still a totally gorgeous gown (FYI, it makes you look pregnant, Penny!)

5) I really liked Amy Adams' navy blue gown with the little folds around the bodice and at the hip.  The color was so sedate, though, that she could have used some dramatic jewelry.  Not sure what those weird rust colored danglies she had on were!

6) I don't know who Olga Kurylenko is, but wow!  Her amazing dark pink satin gown with that amazing twist of fabric along the top was stunning!  I can't believe she didn't get more press for that.  Probably because no one else knows who she is either.

7) I loved the intricacy of Kristen Chenoweth's gold gown.  The color suited her so well and it was just so fun to look at.

8) Along the same lines, the architecture of Lady Gaga's gown was so fascinating.  But...what the heck was she doing at the Oscars??

9) Kelly Osborne gets a serious honorable mention (or is that honourable?) because this is the most amazing and classic I've ever seen her look.  Is this picture photoshopped?  Because, Wowza!!!

 10) Emma Watson gets my final nod for this category.  It didn't blow me away, but I really liked the unique cut and the black and silver together, and I thought she looked more grown up and sophisticated than she's ever looked before.

The Middle
Making up the largest group of dresses were a whole bunch of really unimpressive, blah, flesh-toned dresses: gold-ish, peach-ish, silver-ish, blush-ish, off-white-ish BORING.  So many that they just did nothing for me and deserve no mention.   

 Then there were a few others which were just OK.  These include:

1)  Gabourey Sidibe.  I loved the color.  I loved the fabric.  But I thought the cut was a bit safe.  I realize she's a big girl, but I feel like so often the bigger dresses get the same exact cut, year after year.  I wish she would risk something more daring.

2)  Sandra Bullock.  Didn't hate it, didn't love it.  Interesting in the front.  The dark color didn't do much for me.  

3) Charlize Theron.  She's amazingly beautiful.  But another stark, structured gown on the red carpet?  No big surprise.  

4)  Jennifer Garner.  I actually would have LOVED this dress in another color.  I'm so glad she did something unique like fringe, and the cut was absolutely perfect on her.  But once again, that same bland silvery flesh tone....it lost big points for me.

5) Jennifer Lawrence.  She is so incredibly beautiful!  And she has such a lovely curvy body.  This dress was just so underwhelming.

6) Anne Hathaway.   Ya, we've seen this dress before.  You wore it last year, only it was pink.  I'm not a fan of the big metal studs.  The pink version was better.  Time to pick a new shape, Girlfriend.

The Bad
It seems like every year there are a few dresses that horrify me.  This year I can only think of one that stands out as awful.   But there were quite a few that I thought were just the wrong choice.  And here they are.  

1)  Absolute WORST dressed was Liza Minelli.  Seriously, Liza?  You couldn't manage a skirt or dress.? OR BRA???  A lady of your considerable age and bosom needs a bra!  I hate to get all Joan Rivers on you, but those things hang lower than a....(you fill in the blank.)

2) Angelina Jolie.  What was she wearing??  Something she stole from the set of The Golden Girls??  It was just awful.  AWFUL!!

3)  The worst thing about Anna Kendrick's dress was that the back was really amazing.  But the front...what was that weird red fabric in the middle?  It look like her dress had torn in half and they grabbed a nearby curtain to sew the two pieces together.  And that leg... AWKWARD.  She obviously hadn't practiced how to do an Angelina-Jolie, so she kept moving that leg around, trying to find a good pose in the high slit.  She didn't.   So unfortunate.  

4)  There's a great way to show off a baby bump.  The Santa's Giant Beer Belly look is NOT it.   Maternity FAIL.  (LOVED the fabric and color, however.)

5) Julia, oh Julia.  Why?  This dress...can you say Barbara Bush?  It's so matronly, and that weird lace peplum and bodice insert...it just looks cheap.  The fit is off, the color is blah.  I hate everything about this dress!  And the hair....have you just given up?

6) Julie Delpy.  Oh sweetheart.  There is flattering, and there is not flattering.  And this dress, in every single way is NOT flattering.  I remember those hips.  I have had those fatty hips, Honey.  But you've got to learn to camouflage them!  Yuck.  

Well, that sums up my takes on the gowns of 2014.  What are your thoughts?


Choosing Paint (AKA How a Decorator Saved My Sanity)

It's done!  ALL the paint colors are picked out!  (Oh wait. I haven't figured out the master bath.  But I'm leaning towards white. That room's got a lot going on in there already.)  But anyway, I'm rejoicing because after months of stressing out to the point of hives over what colors to paint all the rooms in the house, it's finally all decided.  I did end up having to hire a designer to figure it out.  This was due to a little incident where, after weeks of planning colors for the basement to go with our milk chocolate brown sectional, making 3 trips to the paint store to get more samples and more paint rollers, painting 7 different swatches on several walls to observe the effects of light on each color, and eventually mixing 2 colors to get the exact perfect shade of pistachio green, Big Daddy came to look at the color I'd picked and announced that not only did he hate the pistachio green, he also hated that milk chocolate brown couch.

Commence tearing out of hair.

Followed by some heated discussions about color, furniture, who's watched more hours of HGTV, and whether the couch might seem a fun place to sleep for the next 2 months.  But then we realized this might all be solved if a professional became involved.

Enter the decorator.  She was referred to us by friends.  I had seen her work, scouted her pinterest page, and felt fairly sure there was a chance she could find just the right colors to save our marriage.  But still...picking paint colors is HARD.  And it took a lot of faith to put these choices in her hands.  But I think we have it done.  The winners are:

Kitchen/mud room .  A lovely shade of subtle blue-ish aqua -  Copen Blue (Sherwin-Williams)

Pantry and Main Floor Mini-Laundry.  A pale creamy yellow - Open Window (Kwal)

The rest of the main floor (living, dining, powder room, office, master, master closet).  A warm beigy grey - Siberia. (Kwal)   (I know, "Siberia" just sounds warm and inviting, right?)

Then there's the basement.  This is where my previous favorites "Refreshing Tea" (Behr) and "Soothing Lime"  (Olympus?) got mixed to make the perfect pistachio.  Which got nixed.  So our designer came up with her own idea:

Willow Herb. (Behr)  It's hard to explain, but it's a sort of pale golden green.  Very neutral, but fun.

Upstairs things get more colorful.  Pippa's room will be pink.  "Canuck" to be exact. (Kwal)  It's a soft ballet pink.

Daphne's room, which is getting a vinyl raindrop treatment of coral, grey, aqua, and turquoise will get white walls underneath.  "Mistaya" is it's name.  (Kwal)

Beck's room, which will be nautical themed, will get a pale grey-ish blue called "Sea Fog"  (Kwal)

The hallways and laundry room will be "Siberia" grey.  For now.  I want to put an accent color in the reading nook and eventually some kind of fun wall treatment (maybe a stencil, or some stripes) in the laundry room. But that's enough for now.  Six colors, plus white.  Not too much, right??

The new/replacement baseboards, crown molding, and door frames are already going up and have received their first coat of paint in some of the rooms.  We decided to replace the existing rosettes and plinths, which had a Victorian bullseye design, with perfectly plain ones to modernize the trim a little bit.  I bet you don't know what a rosette or a plinth is.  Well neither did I.   But now I do so, here you go!

So those are the little changes in the house this week.  And although they may seem small, once the paint starts going up, this house is going to begin a LOT different.  I'm so excited!

Next stop....tile!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pattern Quiz!

And while we're on the subject of patterns, I found this fun pattern quiz in HGTV Magazine's August issue.
(Do you read HGTV Magazine??  I get the digital version for my iPad, and I luh-luh-love it!  For anyone considering doing ANY design project, it is a must.  It has great decor, color, DIY, and craft ideas.  And they always tell you what paint color is used in their featured rooms in case you want to try it out.  Two of the colors for my new house come from the HGTV Magazines!)

Ok, so here's the quiz.  Look at each picture and see if you know what the pattern is called.  If you're not sure, the descriptions below have some really good hints.

No cheating!  The answers are below, but don't look until you've finished the quiz!

How did you score?  I got 11/15.  I was really glad to have read this because I always wondered what that fuzzy damask looking pattern was called.  Now I know!  Ikat!  (Which I DESPISE, by the way.) And did you know that that Moroccan four leafed clover pattern had a name?  Quatre-foil (literally "four leaves").  A little more history about it, it's actually a Christian symbol, a variation on the cross.  How it got to be a Moroccan thing, I don't know.  Maybe during the Crusades??  Anyway, I hope you learned something new today.  And I hope next time you're shopping, you blow the people at Pier1 away when you ask if they have anything in a Ogee pattern.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Perplexed By Pattern


I wish I had a bunch of awesome updates to tell you about.  But the remodel has stalled out over the last 3 weeks.  No one seems to know why.  It started with bad weather that prevented the crew from digging the footings for the family room expansion, and then turned into a 2 1/2 week long vacation to Bora Bora from all I can guess.  At any rate, no one has worked for a while until yesterday when magically they all showed up again and started working!

In the meantime, I've been doing some behind-the-scenes browsing and shopping.  Although Big Daddy doesn't like to make any decisions he doesn't see as absolutely crucial until the exact moment they are needed, I prefer to actually plan ahead.  I fancy that what color of bedding we choose for the new king sized bed might, say, impact the color of walls we pick.  So I've been preemptively scouting out bedding.

I've also been considering wall stencils.  We have a small laundry on the main floor and a pantry, both off the kitchen, that I thought I would do a wall stencil on. They'll both have a lot of wall space covered by food/shelving/washer & dryer, so I figured something kind of busy wouldn't be too overwhelming there.

I'm in love with pattern right now, and it's taking every fiber of my self control not to want to put pattern EVERYWHERE.  But I'm forcing myself to be limited to drapes, throw pillows, and these few wall stencils. So here are the ones I'm considering.  The walls will be done in pale yellow with white stenciling, so nothing too overpowering...

Please, tell me what you think!!

So....any thoughts?