Tag Archives: design

Picking a “Design Aesthetic”


Doesn’t that sound so pretentious? I can’t even, but I’m not sure how else to describe deciding on the vibe of our living area.

First of all – THANK YOU for your advice on the last post!! Super helpful, and now I have a whole new list of appliance makers to look at. I knew you guys would be wise.

So – one of the biggest roadblocks in this remodel was getting my husband and I on the same page about what we wanted the overall feel to be. Our design comfort zones are fairly diametrically opposed.

I’d call my style “Pottery Barn meets Norman Rockwell.” I grew up with Pottery Barn catalogues and something about the neutral couches/red accents/oversized country accessories really stuck with me. I loved the vibe of the pretty yet casual living rooms, complete with lounging yellow labs and the silver framed (and monogrammed!) black and white photos of beautiful families. If I could afford any painting by any artist, Norman Rockwell would be way up there. Something about his work speaks to the kind of domesticity I aspire to. BTW – his work was more important than you might think.

Darcy calls my design aesthetic “pedestrian.” I would classify his design taste as “fancy dentist office.” He loves everything super modern, white, stark and minimal. It’s – not for me. So, we’ve had to try to meet somewhere in the middle.

Over the last few years, Darcy has been working with some really talented people who specialize in writing about remodeling and home design. I think it’s safe to say speaking with them probably heightened his expectations, in a good way. He was very focused on making our remodel thoughtful and considered in every regard, which was frustrating in that the planning phase took two years. Yes, for real. And not gonna lie – I have gotten frustrated at the speed from time to time.

At one point, Josh Groves with Remodelista came over to speak to us about our project. In addition to giving great tips for the remodel, he had me focus on what place really resonated with me from a style point of view. And I realized it was London. In our neighborhood of Notting Hill, we were invited over to several neighbors’ homes, which were very old and beautiful on the outside – the buildings were Georgian in some cases. But the living spaces were modern and clean and stylish in a really fresh way. I wonder if it’s the weather, but I think no one has quite figured out how to make homes lovely and inviting like the British.

Once I made that leap, it was easier to gravitate more towards the modern, and meet Darcy in the middle. I could keep some warm, inviting touches yet be more contemporary.

Anyway, that’s where we are in terms of design. If you could design your home in any style, what would it be?



Filed under Design


Slowmomma, long one of my favorite bloggers who has been absent like me, recently put up a lovely post about how our stories matter. Even the boring ones.

So many stories I’d like to share here are literally not my stories to tell. But, I can talk about our remodel – long in the works, now officially begun.

When we bought this house, we knew we’d have to redo most of the living area. In fact, most of the house it’s safe to say, is butt-ugly and broken down. However, it was a good size for the area and we could afford it. So, we bought it. Five years now, we’ve lived in it. It’s seriously first world problems central to complain about an ugly and broken down house but I have to say living in it kind of depressed me in a very minor sort of way. First of all, I didn’t like hosting playdates or having people over, not because I thought anyone would judge me, but because it’s just not fun hosting people in a house that in one particular case actually stabbed someone. More on that later…

So let’s break down the problems:

Brokedown Non-Palace

It’s important to remind myself, because I am always going to read posts like this and feel like a dumbass for embarking on this remodel, that our kitchen is literally not functional. Why? Let me count the ways.


We have no hot water in our sink, and we have no water pressure. Oh, don’t be dramatic! I hear you saying in my head. Nope – we literally have no hot water that can come from our kitchen sink, and very little water pressure. Exhibit A.


That is the most water pressure we get. For real. Which means we do all our dishes, including our pots and pans, in the dishwasher. So, why no hot water and water pressure? Old broken down pumbing. We have had many reputable plumbers come out to give us the same sad opinion (which was also in the home disclosure packet) – all our pipes need to be replaced. Why is complicated, but it basically comes down to this. Don’t buy a 50+ year old home with galvanized pipes, y’all.

So, we’re looking at ripping up all of our downstairs and replacing all the pipes, already an intrusive, expensive endeavor. But what else is wrong?

Broken Appliances from the Early 60s

The appliances are original to the home. There are many, many problems with that.


1) Only two of the burners on the cooktop actually work. The others won’t actually heat up. So cooking Thanksgiving dinner is not really possible.


2) The oven door won’t shut. Enough said. These appliances are so old, that no one even has the parts to fix them according to several electricians.

3) It takes roughly twice as long to bake things as the recipe calls for. Probably because of the oven door that won’t shut. 😉 However, the oven goes from raw to burned super fast. So if I am baking, I basically have to monitor the baking really closely. When I made these cinnamon rolls for family over the holidays, I spent about three hours staring at the oven to make sure they didn’t burn.

The scene of the crime

The Tiles of Death

These heinous tiles are also dangerous. A friend leaned up against the bar one time and the tile crumbled, broke and stabbed him in the chest, drawing blood. For real, people! The ugly tile hates us as much as we hate it.

Questionable Design Choices

Let’s move on to the weird design choices that were made when the home was built. Yes, I am calling them weird. I am judging.

Weird Kitchen Cabinets


Hey – I know! Let’s block the flow of the open floor layout by putting some random cupboards up, making the kitchen extremely awkward.

Dirty Looking Linoleum


Here is the lovely original linoleum floor, which is impossible to clean and always looks dirty. IT COVERS THE ENTIRE LIVING AREA FLOOR, which means someone honestly thought that a family would enjoy it that much.

White Carpet


At some point, an owner thought the linoleum was an odd choice for the entire living area floor (word), so they decided to put down off-white carpet that shows every single possible stain, including in the DINING AREA (uh, what?). Worse, it’s a Berber carpet, so you can’t use those cheap carpet cleaning machines you can rent at Safeway. I had them professionally cleaned a few times, and someone breathed on them the next day and they turned grey. HATE THOSE CARPETS THEY ARE THE CARPETS OF SATAN.

Fireplaces! Fireplaces! Fireplaces!


Apparently massive ugly brick fireplaces with huge and deadly hearths were the height of fashion in 1962. Not only did multiple people trip and fall over those hearths, when my son was 2 he fell on the corner of one and got the scar in the middle of his forehead. I consider this incident my worst FAIL as a mother. But he likes the scar because he thinks it makes him like Harry Potter. And well, being like Harry Potter is definitely a good thing. So, I guess I can forgive the fireplace hearth.

So yeah. It’s time to make this a working, functional safe space. A non-heinous one would be a bonus too.

This is the point, dear readers, where I ask you if you have any advice. Either for living through a remodel (Oh yes, we are living here while we do it because we are crazy. And cheap.) or any appliances you love – looking for recommendations on convection ovens, refridgerators, cooktops, dishwashers.

And if you are curious what design aesthetic we’re going for (champagne taste on a beer budget basically) here’s our Pinterest Remodel board.


Filed under Design

Perfect Moment: It Was a Bodega Blissful Kind of Day

My computer works! Hooray! Just in time for Lori’s Perfect Moment Monday.

Yesterday, I had many perfect moments, chez Bodega Bliss.

Many of you know and love Bodega Bliss. I visited her yesterday (I know you’re jealous) and no surprise, her home is worthy of being featured on the pages of a glossy Design*Sponge book. She lives about five minutes from the sea in a small town. Her home is a converted barn and is full of quirk, charm and beauty in that uniquely personal way that is impossible to reproduce.

Some days I relax by pulling up a virtual chair at her cozy table with Esperanza and enjoying a bowl of her made-from-scratch curried butternut squash soup. Or eating a homemade whoopee pie. And talking and talking until the sun goes down and the winding road calls me back home to the burbs, where the air is less magical. Yesterday, THAT WAS MY REALITY!

I took some photos for inspiration. Not pictured: the smell of salt and delicious food, rolling hills dotted with picturesque cows.

Bodega’s husband is a devoted surfer.

Artwork wall and personal photos. Most of the artwork Bodega found on Etsy.

Pull up a cozy rocker

Bookcase against the original barn walls

Stag head

Salvaged chair, repainted and reupholstered by Bodega.

Chef and baker extraordinaire

Barn walls with hoofmarks! Rad.

Soaring barn ceilings

Le sigh.


Filed under Design, Perfect Moment

Know-Nothing Design On a Beer Budget: Living Room

I have absolutely NO talent in design. I tend to go stark. Because I am too afraid to clutter a room with mis-matched oddities. (Unless said oddities include legos, in which case, I make that happen!) Making it worse is that both my SILs are style geniuses in different ways. Kelly is a talented artist and she lives in a hundred-year-old farmhouse that she’s reinvented as chic and modern. She lives in Austin and her style is Southern Modern Chic.

My other SIL is also from the South, but she is more urban and modern. She just designed a black and white marble basketweave tile floor for her bathroom. It looks amazing.

Since we moved into our new home, we have transformed each and every room! Into a play area station for the twins. We have one grown-up area/living room which is a receptacle for chairs and more toys. Nothing goes together. We have art, but it doesn’t look right.

In other words, HELP! In other, other words: we have no money. So, clearly, great things are going to happen! I can feel it.

Let’s start with the enormous wall of light brick that takes up half the living room! It looks yellow in this picture, but it’s actually really, really white. Knocking it down would cost a fortune so I’m trying to figure out how to make do. I’m thinking if I got an ready-made white or grey mantle and put it over that fire hole thingy that might look better.

Mantle #1

Or Mantle #2

Which mantle do you prefer? And where the heck do I get a mantle for way, way cheap? Like $100 bucks? Are you laughing?

In terms of the rest of the room, I’d love for it to be seating, a built-in area for our TV and maybe a sectional. I don’t know what else. Here’s the glamour, the intrigue of our bizarre living room:

It’s a hodgepodge of uselessness.

Here’s Yellow/green inspiration! Love the sectional and colors. Don’t love the metal things on the wall. And where’s the TV?

I am quite partial to the whole Belgian grey/lavender thing since staying in a lovely hermitage there during my weird and unexpected business trip.

So I’m inspired by this photo. Where at least there is a TV!

What do you guys think? Mantle #1 or Mantle #2? Yellow and green or Grey color palette?

Thanks mucho in advance!!


Filed under Design, Discovering joy, redesign