Monday, August 24, 2009

lock me up + throw away the key

i had a hay day with this house going new design directions.

but sometimes, when it ain't don't fix it.

in our first house, we worked in a back entry area right off the garage, and we loved the convenience of dropping coats, shoes, hats, and bags right into the built-in lockers on our way into the house. we also were crazy about our first home's set-up of laundry, powder room and pantry branching off the locker room. about as easy breezy as can be when you're hustling back into the house with armfuls of groceries, wearing dirty lawn-mowing clothes, or those times when you just gotta..[ahem]..go.

ahhhh. memories.

the design came from a combination of photos i'd found in magazines here + there. we kept things pretty airy, open and easy to use.

believe it or not, those woven west elm baskets you see weren't bought before the lockers were built, but they fit perfectly within each nook. [and thanks to the help of my girlfriend those nifty storage bins were snagged for the online sale price at the store in chicago! pays to do your homework, folks....and to have friends willing to go outta the way for you]

so the functionality of the back locker room was impossible to forget and silly to change for the sake of changing [at least i'm telling myself that].

and with that, i present....our new lockers!

so, i maybe didn't branch out too much in this spot of the house. but we are still loving this space just as much as ever. the lockers are located directly across from our back door, and to the left is our powder room, and to the right our laundry + coat closet.

and the kitchen island and pantry are just steps away through the arched doorway! so plunk down your meijer bags and away you go!

the most obvious change that we made is the addition of doors on the bottom shoe shelf. while shoes can look pretty sexy when on display, who needs that pressure day-in, day-out?!

i liked the idea of being about to stow + go and not fret about pointing toes, perfect placement, and lining things up juuuust right. we also switched up the hooks to a lovely matte silver version from ikea that are nicely stark and functional in appearance. and lastly i also tweaked the trim on the side of the lockers to make it more three-dimensional and finished looking.


this area of our house wasn't always so much to our taste. on the original print it was a whole 'nuther situation going on.

the half bath was next to the dining room [we thought this could get awkward quickly], there was an office nook squeaked in by the back door, and since the original house plan was on a 45 degree angle, everything was a little more tight + angled. while none of these elements were necessarily terrible, we knew what we wanted and worked with our architect to customize the space to the ultra-functional landing spot we'd been accustomed to in the last casa. and i'd highly recommend a similar set-up to anyone remodeling or building!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

i've been dining to see you

while our dining room is far from complete, decor-wise, its come a long way from the little design seed that first sprouted in my head.

something appealed to me about having some 'grown-up' elements that would make our house a little more transitional of a style and not purely modern. in particular, i really loved the thought of having coffered ceilings....but i did want them to be done in as simple a way as possible so that the lines would still be clean + pure.

here are the first stages of the dining room ceiling being framed may not look like much to you, but the sight of these beams had me thrilled with thoughts of what was to come!

you can also see that we were able to save some cash by not using 'real' beams but instead by having them framed + drywalled in like so....

shhh! its our little secret.

at the final stage here [in this slightly blurry shot, sorry!] you can see the paint applied. crisp, fresh 'superwhite' on the ceiling contrasting with cool, dark charcoal 'grey' on the walls....both by benjamin moore. superwhite may be a lot scary for a lot of peope but i wanted our trim, cabinetry and ceilings to really pop and to show as true, bright white.

i am also super pleased with the sheen shown here on the walls and ceiling. we chose to go the way of eggshell in this house, hoping it would scrub up better for future kid phases than our previous home's ceramic, matte paint did. while we really enjoyed the matte finish, we're finding so far that the eggshell gives a great depth to the wall colors throughout and it also contributes a bit more glam feel to the house. we're really happy with the choice so far! [it was also a cheaper option than going with that]

backing up a little, here is a view of the pillars that frame the room on two sides. not surprisingly, i wanted the pillars nice and plain....but also bold and not flimsy looking. they measure 12"x12" around the main pillar and of course the trim adds a little width on top + bottom.

i like that the large scale of the pillars helps to close off what is potentially a very exposed formal dining area.

the first + last pillars are made to have that built-in-to-the-wall they're not full size

hanging out amongst the squares of the ceiling is our double drum pendant, another restoration hardware beauty.

here you can see how the exaggerated squares on the ceiling are somewhat reflected in the paned look of the front window....even though each pane is technically rectangular.

parting glance. our little friend in the corner there is a 4'x4' canvas pier one print kevin gave me for christmas when we lived in our first house. i'm loving the look of it in this dining room.

and lest you think this room will sit empty forever, fear not! we did already find one treasure that'll sit right in the middle. her name is torsby and she is equal parts glossy white glass, shiny chrome and sleek minimalism.

Friday, August 7, 2009

merci. gracias. danke schön. dank je wel.

this note is for my husband. and all his hard work over the past year.

[eyes are already watering. i'm a major softie!]

while it might seem from posts + pics so far that our new house project was a blissful process of pointing at what we wanted and having it magically show up at or be built into the house....there was a lot of work done both behind the scenes and on the job site, day after day as the months went by.

we were blessed to be able to contract out more of the labor this time around [than on our last home]. and that was wonderful. but i want to take a minute to thank kevin specifically for all the hours he poured into this project as general contractor.. manager of the finances, budget and timeline.. installer of flooring, stone, and hardware..and builder of many miscellaneous things like our mailbox, columns, and deck.

from the very beginning he was making a million minute decisions about tree removal on our wooded lot, placement of the house, foundation and framing details....[the list goes on] with me regularly on my opinions and letting me stick more to the design and "looks" department of the project.

he even came close to losing his life! just kidding. but this photo kinda makes it look like he's about to fall backwards off the second floor to his death, doesn't it?

these two pictures were taken on an extremely cold michigan winter day, when the snow was piled high and despite that kevin placed drainage tubes around the entire perimeter of the house, which was still sitting in a giant hole at that point [it was the day before they backfilled so we had no other chance to get this done].

i'm kind of proud of him.

so....thank you! i appreciate every single thing, from your overseeing the big stuff to taking care of the tiny stuff....and every last thought or action in between.

....and this last picture? well for anyone who has installed a house-full of ikea hardware + accessories, you will understand that "thanks" is the least i could say.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

all that glitters is not gold [!]

just to quell the myth that every room in our house started with a lightbulb - er - light fixture inspiration, i give you....our grey, dark + sparkling master bath.

the first couple of shots were taken before some of the finishing touches had wrapped on our bath: the shower wall was yet to be installed, the front of the tub surround needed to be re-attached....etc. but you get the drift. we were going for calm + luxurious, sleek + elegant. a modern spa, so to speak, that could be a peaceful retreat for years to come.

here you can see the addition of the glass wall done in a floor to ceiling euro style. i love that it adds no bulk to the room and merely provides another reflective surface for the shimmering, glimmering lights in the room. it also means this isn't a shower for the shy!

peeking out from the corner is one of my favorite items in the house - this metallic silver drum [or garden stool, its other alias]. fun fact: while perusing an In Style issue this summer I saw that actress Kristen Bell has two of the very same, in her living room! [which is totally eclectic + gorgeous, by the way]

i was pretty set on the flooring for our bath from the beginning. i had seen similar linen-y tiles a few times and i loved the built-in linear nature as well as the price point....amazingly, these puppies were at the lower end of the food chain. hallelujah!

a color called "gris", meaning grey in french [yes i got special pleasure outta that], the main hue is indeed grey with some lighter and darker linen-like strands running throughout each tile. not only does this make each and every tile unique and eye-catching, but every individual tile then adds to the vertical lines flowing throughout the space.

pardon the dust....the above shot was taken during construction and those doggies do belong to your truly.

the grey tile on the floor was also a must in that i have dark hair and i didn't want to feel like i had to sweep, vacuum + swiffer every time i brushed out my hair. and did you notice we had the tile pattern placed in thirds?? like in the laundry room?

you may be able to see from the photos, but it was kevin's idea [i'd call it genius, but i'm terribly biased] to base the entire floor and shower tiling along one center line so that from the moment you enter our bath, the tiles run literally straight from floor to ceiling....even up the one corresponding visual line.

when you're in the shower, it gives a subtle effect of rain [or bamboo, if your imagination is really working]....which has a lovely calming effect when you're hanging out in there. and no, don't run to get your eyes checked, we did use a lighter shade of tile in the shower [called "silver"] so as to avoid a dark + cave-like feeling in there, and also to create some variation.

well hello there!
this handsome gent below is a custom-made cabinet built by our gifted trim carpenters, who willingly went along with each of the drawings + pictures we presented them with and did a fantastic job of it. the doors on this armoire and our vanity are all in-set, to add to the sleek, slim look of the cabinetry and to make details like the euro bar pulls, flat crown piece, and the furniture "legs" stand out even more.

our carpenters also built the tub surround - truly something i'd been dreaming about for months during this process. i'm not ashamed to admit that i started bawling [one of many times] when i saw this beaut for the first time in our bath. you'll see more of the finished version in a minute!

i had a vision for this tub in my head from the beginning, and found some pictures online to back up my thoughts for the carpenters. i wanted the slat spaces to be noticeable, about 3/4" wide, and the wood to look like three thick slabs - like something you'd see in a spa.

if you're wondering, i did battle some fierce resistance about encasing the entire tub in wood....but i'm not a huge bath-taker and i really wanted to love the look of this piece every time i walked in the door.

now. last but not least. what is a tub area without mood lighting, i ask you?!

while my thought process for this bathroom didn't START with this fixture, it certainly got its exclamation point through it:

even though this was one of the final touches in this bathroom, it really has made all the difference. if you think you recognize it, it is an ikea pendant that is based on the famous artichoke light by poulsen.

and when i saw IT lit for the first time, i didn't cry. i screamed.

and fell for it, head over 4" heels.

i love how its fanciful form is captured throughout the our mirrors, which are along an angled wall, and here, on the glass wall....

and here it is in that picture of the finished, stained tub deck that i promised you.

well folks, i could go on + on about this thoughts, ideas, steps along the design inspiration pictures....but i'll save that for another time. time to enjoy a bit of this beautiful summer day!

Monday, August 3, 2009

counter offer.

so we had a plan for our kitchen from the get-go: we wanted to go a different direction from our last kitchen's dark cabs, and instead go light, bright + more modern. with an industrial edge. kinda like so, as seen on HGTV's site.

or like so. love the fresh + crisp feeling this image from Apartment Therapy evokes:

all along we'd been planning on white painted cabinets, in combination with the dark asian walnut hardwood we'd fallen for. as for the countertop material we really wanted something sleek + minimalist....i love quartz for this look, as you get the cool, shiny surface of stone but without all the veins or distractions of granite. [you also get built-in stain and bacteria protection. bonus!]

here was my #1 pick:
silestone's unsui - part of the zen collection. i loved that while it was a clean, totally plain look, it wasn't too cold looking. i'd also seen this used in one of candice olsen's designs and thought it looked so smooth and chic!

however, as we rounded the corner on the very LAST phase of building this spring, we were kindly informed that we could NOT in fact get this option after all [yes, we had asked all manner of questions along the way to try and avoid this situation]....the slab size apparently would not fit our island shape + size. this was wonderful news to receive, the day the paint had gone up on the walls further cementing the color scheme....which was based on the unsui tops! ugh.

so we received the shortlist of available options that would fit our island [i wasn't too keen on visually breaking up the look of the tops between island + outer area]. most of them looked like this:

or this:
ummmm, no thank you. so i was thrilled beyond belief when THIS color was on the list, in all its pseudo-polished-concrete glory!!!

i was a tiny bit hesitant because of the possible 'cold' look mentioned earlier. but funny enough, i had a sample at home since it had been on the early debate list - and looking at the 4"x4" square, i realized it was meant to be! ....a happy accident.

since kevin and i simply must research things before acting, we did make we sure had some online assurance of this stone's overall appeal. thanks to a couple of galleries we stumbled across, like jenschulze's on flickr, we could uncross our fingers and take the leap.

a little dust wasn't going to deter us! we knew this color would be just right. [we did also take the sample square to the house, since often the color of paint, carpet + other materials will change in different lighting and every room seems to get its own strength of natural light]

aaaand here it is, in the new house!
it may be hard to see, but we requested the very SQUARE-est edge that they could possibly cut, barring anything that would injure us or our future offspring, of course. usually when you go for clean or modern looks the items are inexplicably at the top of the price scale....thankfully with quartz + granite, squared off edges are the least expensive choice. yippee!

and an action shot....i was going for that super slick Dwell magazine look. my mom makes a greal model, doesn't she?

banana-zucchini bread + one very high maintenance ikea towel

and to round out the rest of the kitchen....can't live without these!

hey everybody, come see how good i look!

so what do you think? did we achieve the modern-industrial kitchen aesthetic i had hoped for?
as far as the grey countertop, i think it's right at home.