Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Help Me . . . I'm Thinking about a New Floor for Our Cottage. What Do You Think About This Look and "Green" Product?

I've been thinking about Marmoleum, the 21st century version of 1950s Linoleum. You may recall seeing earlier this year a few posts about our island cottage. Here's the Before -- and the After -- should you like to visit for the first time or again.

Well, we need to replace the berber carpet we had installed in the two bedrooms. We've had issues with moisture . . . . While our house is pier and beam, it sits rather low to the ground. And with the Hurricane Ike hit two years ago and subsequent heavy rains . . . well, we're having issues. Once we correct all that, I want to replace the carpet. And I know I don't want wood -- for various reasons (even though I love 'em.)

So, back to Marmoleum. I've been reading a little bit about this product. It all sounds pretty good, based on some reviews.  And I rather like the look of it, too. I've been trying to mentally picture images of an expansive glossy white area utilizing Marmoleum tile, or perhaps a pattern using a combination of whites (light and dark checks, for example). 

Most photos above from GardenWeb and Home Portfolio

It seems to get a thumb's up on a number of fronts. It's durable. It doesn't burn (I guess that's always good thing, even though it wasn't a top consideration or concern of mine). Pure color saturation throughout the tile. (They can be sanded, if needed.) The tiles themselves are made from natural, sustainable materials -- such as pine flour and linseed oil. And it's antibacterial, which is good when allergy seasons rolls around. And, yes, these tiles are easy to clean (since my daughter just asked me that . . . she wonders if they easily stain, though. Does anyone know?)

So, any thoughts? Any other cool floor options worth considering?  Thank you!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Carefree Island Garden . . .

I am entertaining my parents this week so my attention has been more focused on them than my blog. However, while taking care of a little business this morning, I did run across this island garden tucked inside a file of mine. I thought I'd share it with you all. As you'll notice, the homeowners have ensured the main area features several planned focal points, but they've also nurtured some "casual corners" located off-the-beaten-path (away from the main large area).

I love gardens that seem so effortless, so natural. Of course, the gardeners who tend to such lush and colorful parcels obsess over them, I'm sure, as much as those with more formal and manicured gardens.  Hope you enjoy this one; here are a few more images:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Splashes of Color, Old Chipped Painted Doors and Comfortable Decor Turn This Victorian Cottage Into a Fun "New" Place

Just because you might be old doesn't mean you can't be hip. That's true of both people and houses!

This raised 19th century cottage, located in the Kempner Park neighborhood in Galveston, once conveyed a more serious decor -- back in the day, that is. However,new owners helped the old soul discover its more playful side. They decided to renovate the large, once-open area underneath their house, since space allowed, to create a master suite complete with study, den, master and bath. The owners' decorating inspiration for the new addition came from "found" items. A stack of old painted doors found in the house's storage area indirectly gave them the OK to lighten up, in more ways than one.

In addition to the door to the master bedroom, these doors -- donning original chipped paint -- charmed their way into the bedroom itself. Behind them are closets. 

The entrance door to the master.

The homeowners wanted an easy island lifestyle. Much of the furniture in this rather large space (even though it's now divided up into various living areas) comes from IKEA. In fact, the draped panel as well as the two hanging lamps over the bed came from the popular store. One of the homeowners then used her imagination to make them something other than generic:

Their decor is a marriage of both old and new:

She and her husband kept the color palette light, bright and fun. It's not too heavy-handed, thanks to color splashes here and there:

Stay cool!

Friday, August 20, 2010

How to do Faux Bois, Courtesy of Christie Chase

In my last post (below this one), I introduced you to Christie Chase. Yesterday, we completed a photo shoot at her Texas home. During the last hours there, I spotted another DIY project she did and thought some of you might like to see it and possibly be so inspired to tackle a similar project.

She bought inexpensive wood paneling (I think she said it was under $20 a pack) and applied a faux bois technique to give it character before installing it in a small window seat area in her dining room. Here's the chic look now:

Christie passes along instructions, tips and information about the process and wood graining tool she used; it's all here.

She also experimented with her wood graining tool when painting (she always uses oil for furniture) this side table:


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On a Photo Shoot for Kitchen and Bath Makeovers . . . Meet this creative homeowner.

When Rachel at Kitchen and Bath Makeovers magazine called me a month or more ago, she excitedly told me about this young woman with the amazing kitchen and bath. It's kind of retro-modern, a very individualized look, she relayed. "She (Christie) did it all." Needless to say, Rachel loved it ... the ideas, the house, the colorful palette, everything!  Well, now, so do I.  It's so cute. So hip. So young and fun. So original!  Photographer Gustav Schmiege and I just spent a half day there today photographing her bath. Tomorrow we return to shoot the kitchen.  I won't ruin it by showing the rooms the magazine plans to feature.  But, I will introduce you to Christie and share some of her fabulous "originals."

First, meet this lovely 30-something-year-old who lives in an older neighborhood in Houston with her CPA husband:
Christie sits in her new bright yellow porch swing, which is made from recycled plastic bottles.

Take note below of the green area rug in their family room. She took an old sisal rug and painted it with a glossy latex floor paint. Such a cool look, don't you think? So, if you've got an old worn-out rug, perhaps the lesson here is to renew it with paint! (She used a roller to apply the paint. And, say, maybe you want to check out the reject section of your favorite discount or paint store; sometimes you can find some terrific colors for cheap!)

Christie recovered this old chair with a green upholstery material along with a jazzy "fabric" she created using a large piece of un-primed canvas to capture her own painted design. Don't you love the new original look?

In the Dining room, Christie made and hung these huge paintings above a large new red credenza:
A photo in a national magazine inspired her to take $5 plain-Jane silver chairs and have them upholstered in a bright red "pleather." The other sits across from this one.

She mummified a little stool from Ross, a discount store, that now resides in her "closet," actually a spare bedroom. She painted the legs white and wrapped the brown stool tops in a broad twill ribbon. Take a look:

How about this cute little light switch plate ...

And I love the fresh subtle look she gave this old chest below. She painted it a flat white and then rather randomly applied strips of painting tape to the surface and painted it again with a glossy white. Voila:

For more inspiration and how-to tips, visit Christie's blog.

And visit Gus. He's not only a very talented photographer, he's also a wonderful person.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Joining in on Southern Hospitality's Thrifty Treasure Reveal . . . Look what I found!

When I discovered this rustic painting leaning against the side wall of someone's garage during a recent sale, I thought it was rather serendipitous!  A couple of years prior, this very same painting caught my eye during an art fair being held in our small mountain town. I liked its colors and country whimsy. I passed on it, because I didn't immediately have a place for it.

Well, I guess it was meant to be mine!  I picked it up at the garage sale for $15!  A much-much less price than at the art fair. 

It hangs large in my kitchen area.

Thanks, Rhoda (Southern Hospitality), for having me join your party. It's always fun -- as well as inspirational -- to see the found treasures others also discover.  Here's another find, posted in July, if you'd like to see it!  It's priceless in more ways than one!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Interior Designer Shares Valuable Remodeling Tips

In preparation for her debut on Mike Landry's 950 AM KPRC radio show (the segment is called "Purchase Like the Pros") in Houston on Saturday, August 14, from 2 p.m. to  3 p.m. (CDST),  Interior Designer Beverly Vosko shares now, with us, some of her insights and tips -- below -- on when, where and how to tackle remodeling projects. First, a look at her own project:
Here's Beverly in her remodeled kitchen:

Beverly is a remodeler who works within the footprint of the home. . . . She took a few questions and provided some great answers:

1.    When does it make sense to remodel?
"I think remodeling makes sense for anyone happy with the bones
of their existing space but not certain aspects of it. Or, they love their
location and don’t want to move, yet can afford to change their space to
the way they want it to look! Some of the best remodeling projects are
kitchen and bathroom upgrades . . . which add value to any home."

2.    How much money should I allocate?
"In my opinion, try not to be the least expensive or the most
expensive house on your block or in your area. Many people purchase a home
in a good area that needs work, remodel it by updating it, and add
necessary upgrades such as granite, butcher-block or quartz countertops, a
central island, a fashionable backsplash, new flooring, higher end
appliances and plumbing fixtures -- and get every bit of their money back.
However, do not spend so much money that you will never re-coop it when you
sell your home.  People usually are able to re-coop 75% of the money that
they spend on Kitchens and bathrooms – - especially if they work with an
Interior Designer to make it to look fabulous. Don't spend $100,000 on
a kitchen in a $200,000 home."  

A Before Shot of Beverly's Own Kitchen

3.    I want a colorful kitchen, but I don't want to offend potential
buyers in a couple of years?
"Many people are afraid to use color for a variety of reasons and end up
creating boring beige spaces. I believe that as long as one is tasteful,
color is an essential ingredient in a room to make it look interesting.
That is one reason to use a designer. Select someone who can help choose colors that will look great or blend together well but not in a garish way. There are
smart ways to use color. If you are planning on moving in a few years and
are concerned with resale, don’t purchase a red AGA stove; instead purchase
stainless steel appliances or use wood fronts  that match your cabinets,
that have mass appeal. Permanent fixtures in the kitchen that are expensive
to replace, such as kitchen countertops and flooring, could be designed in
relatively neutral colors. Color can be used in areas not so expensive to replace, such as walls that can be easily painted, backsplashes, furniture, accessories, drapes, rugs, etc. You can always take those items with you when it's time to move."   

4.    What materials do you like now and why?
"Because I teach continuing education classes to designers nationwide, I get to see what is new and popular all across the U.S. and then introduce these new items to my clients. There are so many new exciting items on the market today. 
From a remodeling perspective:
For countertops: I saw Honey Onyx for the first time in a showroom in San Diego and immediately sent my client a picture of it from my blackberry. I love Honey Onyx as a bathroom countertop because it is new, light and translucent; so, it can be back-lit for an amazing look. I love the new look of using White Statuary Marble as a kitchen countertop, especially in one area such as the island –- it looks fresh and clean. 
I love Ice Stone and Vetrazzo –- a new “Green”countertop that
combines recycled concrete and the gorgeous royal blue glass from Sky
Vodka bottles.  They look wonderful and are great for the environment. 
For tile:
I love floors laid in what they call “Versailles Pattern” that is comprised of different sized tile pieces that create an old world  yet new look. I love
the new linear 1” by 6” staggered glass mosaic tiles that are either all
glass or a mixture of glass and natural stone. They make great
backsplashes.  I love laying traditional subway natural stone tumbled marble
in a herringbone pattern, which creates a  new look and mixing them will
other mosaics, borders, chair rails and pencil rails –- all for an wonderful
overall effect.  
From a design perspective: Nowadays people want a great look that is
maintenance free. There are some wonderful  new maintenance free fabrics
that look fabulous and work for on-the-go families who do not have time to
worry about maintaining their fabrics and furniture on a regular basis. 
I love the new Sunbrella fabrics that are indoor/outdoor, can be cleaned
with bleach, are almost maintenance free and come in a wide variety of
colors and textures so you would never believe that they were indoor/outdoor
unless someone told you that they were. I love crypton, a fabric 
originally used in Health Care facilities, but I have used it in off-white on a sofa
for a 21-year-old who liked to entertain. That sofa still looks great five years later!"  
Beverly's Kitchen, which she finished a couple of years ago.

5.    If I want to do just one thing to my kitchen, what would you
"If  you can only afford to do just one thing to your kitchen and you have
ugly countertops, change them to either granite, butcher block, soap stone
or marble. If you can do 3 things . . . consider these: change the countertops, the appliances,plumbing fixtures and the backsplash. If the kitchen is an ugly color,
the easiest thing you can do to update it, is paint it! 
6.    How do I work with a kitchen remodeler and contractor?
"I am usually the kitchen remodeler on my projects – but when I work with a
general contractor, which is usually on new construction, I first sit down
with the client and find out what style they like, be it contemporary,
Mediterranean or Country French --  or whatever. I want to know  how they intend to use their kitchen. Then I go with the client and help them choose all the “fixtures and fittings,” as I call it, to help them achieve and create that
style.  The builder usually needs the plumbing fixtures first, so I help
them 1st choose the plumbing fixtures and write them up in a spread sheet so
that they are clear and easily understandable and give the spreadsheet to
both the client and the builder – to approve. Once that spreadsheet is
approved, it becomes the 'bible' for our job. This is a very important tool for
both the builder and the client -- and prevents arguments later in the job.
With paint colors, I always say to choose two or three colors and put them on the walls in several spots –- both light and dark -- throughout the room or the home, and stare at them for several days to insure that you like them. If you only put up one color, you have nothing to compare it to.  And everything gets written down in spreadsheets in the same fashion to be verifiable written documentation for the rest of the job." 

Thank you, Beverly, for sharing! Please visit her Web site for more information about her and her blog.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meet Liz Levin! An Interior Designer Who Decorates with Kids and Pets In Mind!

She's young. She's hip. And she digs color and pattern!
More importantly, Interior Designer Liz Levin decorates so the whole family (that includes the kids and pets) can all live together . . . both stylishly and comfortably.  Here, below, are images from her own "home lab;" plus, a recount of some of her own experiences, and a couple of must-have family friendly fabrics!

Interior Designer Liz Levin in her living room.

Even an experienced designer can be stumped. "I breeze into clients’ homes on a daily basis, and I instantly know how to make them better:  move this, add these and ditch that.  A different story prevails in my own house. I recently found myself flummoxed by my living room," she says
"What started as the innocent desire for a shot of color and toddler-friendly furnishings set off a domino-like cascade of changes," she says. 
First, she swapped two white antique arm chairs for more comfortable, stain repellent and shockingly fuchsia ones. 
Hold on . . . "what was I thinking? I know better than to add something unrelated to anything else in the house and expect it to work."

She reminds everyone that even if you've made a purchasing blunder, a shot at recovery still exists. To help herself focus on the next step needed in her own home, she took a photo of her living room. In doing so, she realized the repetition of several themes.
"I noted touches of slate blue in the rugs and artwork; the bronze nailhead trim on furnishings, the cache pot.  I needed a BIG, new element to marry all of this -- the fuchsia, the brown, the flora -- together. Throw pillows, perhaps? Patterned pillows possess the power to unite, but I found nothing with major uumph I was looking for. But what about wallpaper? Perhaps a bold accent wall behind my sofa --perfect location since it would be behind me when I lounged, and I would be less likely to tire of it."
You see the fabulous wallpaper she selected above. Here are more photographs of her home that she sent along:

Interior Designer Liz Levin share a couple of her favorite fabrics here:

"One of my go-to fabrics (shown on the Hollywood 2 chair in my house) we dub the "magic fabric"at the office. It's magic because it has multiple thread colors that make up the woven texture. It reads like a solid, but the range of color within the weave makes it versatile and marries color schemes together.  I have it in my house; I used it on a pair of wing backs for partner of a law firm  and on a multitude of family room sofas. (Shown as nesting grade G fabric (see search by fabric) on her Web site.) We call it "rough n tumble" because it is super durable. Made by Osborne & Little to the trade." 
"Another go to fabric is a pattern I love by David Hicks by Ashley Hicks for Groundworks (to the trade). I'm currently using it in green for roman shades in my office, in magenta for recovering a chair in my house, and in beige for my friend's ottoman down the street. I never tire of this diamond pattern and LOVE the colors."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Her Personal Space . . . at Home with . . . well, come see!

At the beginning of June, I began this weekend series, which I call "Her Personal Space."  I wanted to know where some of my blogger friends went -- at home -- to entertain private thoughts, read, rejuvenate . . . to escape the hustle-bustle of everyday life and stuff. They shared with me, giving me permission to show you all. It's been fun getting to know these lovely women. 
Now, I'm planning a short break with this series, which I hope to re-introduce next month.
In the meantime, meet Yvonne at La Petite Gallery, who lives on the coast of Maine. 
And . . . revisit some of your favorites afterward, which I've posted again. 
Actually, this isn't Yvonne. She's under the weather a bit and couldn't provide a photo of herself. This is a painting she did of her daughter. And I think this might be Thor, her dog of 15 years now. Thor has been with her through thick and thin. (I plucked this off her blog, because I liked the painting. Visit to see more of her work.)

Yvonne, it sounds like, has accomplished and done much -- from owning an interior design company to running a farm (complete with Scottish bulls). These days, she enjoys  time to herself by gardening, fishing and relaxing on a hammock situated on the banks of a refreshing lake. Here are a couple of her favorite spots:

In no particular order, here are the ladies I've featured so far -- and their favorite place, at home.

Thanks to all ladies. I think I've got everyone listed here; please let me know if my memory has slipped ....

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