Category Archives: Uncategorized

On Target for the Big Reveal



Progress continues at Calvary Church, and happily we are on target to re-open the Sacristy and South Ambulatory for Christmas Eve.  The painters have been busy at work staining all of the woodwork and patching and painting all of the plaster walls.  We had a slight detour last week after Mother Nature unleashed both snow and heavy rain on the roof, resulting in a leak into the powder room.  Thanks to the efforts of the painters and roofers, the leak has been repaired and the ceiling replaced — happily we remain on schedule for our big reveal in just a few short weeks.


A decision was made to re-finish the floors, which were in horrible shape, so now the area is closed off to all foot traffic so that necessary repairs and prep can be done.  With a heavy dose of sanding, some new stain and a few coats of polyurethane, the floors will be spectacular!

Work continues at a fevered pace, and we are all excited for the project to be completed so that everyone can see the transformation.  Stay tuned for the big reveal!


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Before & After

 A good Before & After story is always a great way to demonstrate how a space can be transformed with a little hard work and imagination coupled with a tremendous support network of craftsmen.  I thought it would be fun to document the progress of a project that has been in the planning stages for several months.  This truly is a labor of love for me, as this project is taking place in the church where I grew up, got married, and had my children baptized.

I have had the good fortune to have been hired to replace the cabinetry in the Sacristy of Calvary Church in Summit, NJ.  This space is of tremendous importance as it is where so many preparations for Sunday services take place.  Not only is this area used by the Minister, but it is also occupied by the Altar Guild.  The challenge was two-fold.  First, how do you design a space that requires storage for items used to prepare for the service as well as two sinks to assist in those preparations, without making that space look and feel like a kitchen?  And secondly, how to you design the cabinetry so that it is in keeping with the style of a church that was built more than 100 years ago?

Over the next several weeks I will show photographs of the work in progress so that together we can see this sacred space transformed into a room that is more seamlessly integrated with the style of the rest of the church.  Today was Demo Day, so here’s the before…

Sacristy Before
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For the Love of Tile


It’s been entirely too long since my last post.  My excuse is simply that life has gotten in the way.  Funny how one of my many jobs as a parent is to teach my children the important life skill of time management.  Perhaps I haven’t been modeling good behavior lately as I’ve quite literally been burning the candle at both ends, and a few things have inadvertently fallen through the cracks.  September is one of the busiest months of the year, and most moms often ask one another “What’s worse:  September….or June?”  Endless meetings for school, requests to shuttle children to sports events, daily household chores and the launch of my kitchen & bath business have swallowed-up the month of September.  And it all came to a head today when I learned that I had forgotten my mother-in-law’s birthday yesterday.  Ah yes, the wheels appear to have come off the wagon.  Happily, October begins tomorrow, and with that I suspect a more normal routine of sorts will ensue.  By October we are generally in a rhythm – the kids with school and sports, and me with work and other commitments.  So, rather than feeling as though my family is spinning out of control, I am hopeful that the chaos of September is behind us, and that we will all start fresh in October!

Lately I have been spending time in tile showrooms sourcing backsplash tile.  I had the great fortune to visit the Walker Zanger showroom and I was so impressed by their beautiful selection.  I have written about tile in previous blog posts, as I’m a believer that tile is a great way to make a statement in both the kitchen and the bathroom.  What struck me during this most recent visit to Walker Zanger was the incredible variety of tile that is available today, and the countless ways these exquisite tiles can be used.  In the kitchen above,  designed by Drawing Dept. of Cincinnati, Ohio, the tile choice is so fresh and modern and makes quite a statement behind the sink.  At first it looks like custom millwork, doesn’t it?

In this bathroom designed by Tatum Brown Custom Homes in Dallas, Texas, tile is used behind the sink in lieu of wallpaper.  What a fantastic way to add both color and texture to arguably the most important wall in the powder room?  Who wouldn’t notice this bold statement when standing at the sink?

While a traditional 3″ x 6″ subway tile is a classic shape for a kitchen backsplash, the use of  hand painted ceramic tile with its depth and variety of color makes this classic shape appear much more current.  This kitchen designed by California-based Fiorella Design demonstrates that subtle color variation can add just the right amount of interest to the backsplash.  
So, here’s to a fresh start to fall and to a renewed enthusiasm for making a beautiful design statement in  your own home.
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Liebster Award: Spreading Some Blog Love Around!



This past weekend I was delighted to learn that Jeanne from the fabulous blog Cozy*Stylish*Chic had nominated me for a Liebster award!  After a quick Google search I learned that the Liebster is an award given by new bloggers to other new bloggers as a way to build community, discover new blogs and hopefully attract new readers.  What a great way to spread a little blog love!  The rules are simple:

If the nominee decides to accept the award, he/she must:

1.  Answer the 11 questions posed
2.  Post 11 facts about themselves
3.  Nominate 5-11 bloggers
4.  Tell them they have been nominated
5.  Create a list of 11 questions for the nominees to answer

11 Questions for Me:

  1. How do you like your toilet paper — over or under?  Definitely under, but I’m not sure why I care!
  2. Why did you start blogging?  My friend, Angela (co-founder of the amazing blog, suggested it and I thought it would be a great way to keep fresh and current on kitchen & bath design trends
  3. What is your favorite vacation destination?  Italy
  4. What is the most “out there” food you’ve ever eaten?  Lobster (I know, not too “out there,” but a big deal for a non-seafood eater)
  5. What do you do in your spare time, assuming you have any?  Knit
  6. Vanilla or chocolate?  Definitely vanilla
  7. Do you do tequila shots and have you or would you eat the worm?  Tequila, yes…worms, no!
  8. What time of day do you write for your blog?  Morning
  9. What is your favorite flower?  Peony
  10. What is the craziest thing you did in high school or college?  Ate a goldfish at a fraternity party to impress a cute boy!
  11. Do you believe in karma?  Hmmm, sort of!

11 Questions for the Nominees:

  1. What’s your favorite season?
  2. What’s your best advice for new bloggers?
  3. Are you glass 1/2 full or glass 1/2 empty?
  4. Coffee or tea?
  5. What’s your favorite magazine?
  6. Pick four words to describe yourself
  7. List your three favorite online shopping sites
  8. Night owl or morning person?
  9. Which do you prefer: ocean or lake?
  10. Where do you get your best blog inspiration?
  11. PC or Mac?

And finally…a few things about me that you might not know:

  1. I have a bit of a paper fettish — I love pretty paper, pads, stationery…especially anything with my name on it!
  2. I have four boys, and in the fall three will be in high school and one in middle school (yeesh!)
  3. My favorite restaurant is Inn at Castle Hill in Newport, RI (I love having a drink beforehand out on the lawn)
  4. I learned to drive a car on a stick shift
  5. I’d like to be fluent in Italian
  6. Someday I plan to retire in New York City (although I’m not sure my husband agrees with me!)
  7. I’ve been knitting for thirty years
  8. Summer is my favorite season
  9. I love to cook and at one time had a small catering business
  10. I love monograms
  11. My favorite movie is Out of Africa (does that make me old?)

And my Nominees are (all new blogging friends that I met at Design Camp Seattle!):


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Design Camp: Inspiring Designers Everywhere!


Last week I attended Design Camp in Seattle and my business will never be the same.  Somehow I was lucky enough to win a ticket to attend from Leslie Wood, founder of the fabulous blog Hadley Court.  Not surprisingly, Leslie credits Design Camp with giving her the necessary tools and advice that helped her to win the Best New Design Blog of the year. When Leslie reached out to me and let me know that I had won the ticket, I knew instantly that this was an opportunity not to pass up!

Two leaders in the design industry; Lori Dennis and Kelli Ellis started Design Camp after meeting and participating in a panel discussion at the Las Vegas World Market.  These super-talented women share a long list of accomplishments including: author, TV personality, design professional, product designer and mentor (among many others).  Participants in Design Camp can’t help but be influenced and inspired by their enthusiasm and depth of knowledge of the design industry.  Together, they gathered a group of incredibly talented speakers to participate in Design Camp Seattle, each and every one of whom took to the stage to share a passion for their area of expertise.  They spoke about design trends and offered great blogging tips.  They also advised attendees on how to more efficiently run their businesses, how to take advantage of social media, and most of all, how to make their businesses grow and thrive.

Several speakers had recently published books, and many of us returned home with bags heavy laden and plenty to read on the plane.  I was so excited to hear the incredibly talented Nathan Turner — designer, author, entertainer and TV personality from the wildly famous show Million Dollar Decorators.   His design aesthetic is so fantastic and right up my alley, and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of his new book in the mail, Nathan Turner’s American Style.  Another speaker who had the audience hanging on her every word was Kimberley Seldon.  Her advice on setting goals, outlining fees and creating a process for successfully managing a project had attendees lining up to buy both volumes of her exceedingly popular book series Kimberley Seldon’s Business of Design.  The audience was also excited to hear from Ronda Rice Carman, founder of the popular All the Best Blog and author of the newly released book Designers at Home.  To hear her tell the story of how she never gave up on her dream to be published taught everyone in the room the value of being persistent and never losing your focus.

While I certainly didn’t intend for this post to be so long, there is still so much more to share.  I will highlight more of the fantastic speakers in a future post, so for now I will leave you with this thought:  Many have said that their heads were spinning with all of the information that was passed along during Design Camp.  While I agree, I have never been more focused, more inspired or more excited to be in this industry, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a worthwhile event.

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Making an Impact with Tile: Take a Risk!


Original content is king in the blogging world, but sometimes a beautiful picture ripped from a magazine is catalyst enough for a post — that is, if you have something meaningful to say about it!  The May 2013 issue of House Beautiful featured two bathrooms with stunning tile that I just had to talk about.  The world of tile has grown so much over the past several decades making options limitless, so it’s easy to make a big impact in your kitchen or bath with the addition of some fabulous tile.   The beautiful master bath above is from a home on Lake Michigan, designed by Martin Horner of Soucie Horner, Ltd..  This exquisite wall of tile, coupled with a classic marble tub deck and surround and handsome fixtures, is all you need to create a show-stopping bath.  Artistic Tile created this incredible pattern (called Danse Azul) using a combination of Azul Cielo and Thassos marbles.  The tension that is created by placing this tile with its organic pattern next to the hard angles of the marble tub surround, creates fantastic visual interest.

The Bath of the Month featured in the same issue of House Beautiful gave tile lovers another treat with this fantastic Manhattan master bathroom designed by Alla Akimova of ARCHIVESid.  Dark Emperador and Thassos marbles laid together in a chevron pattern on the floor help to give this sleek bathroom its modern flair.  It’s amazing that using a bold pattern on the floor of an all-white bathroom can make such an impactful design statement.  Just one element can make such a difference.  And during a presentation given by Joss & Main co-founder, Mitra Morgan, at Design Camp last week (more on that in a post next week) I learned that chevron is a trend that is here to stay.  
Yes, tile can be expensive, tile is a commitment, so why not make a bold statement with the tile that you select?  And why not choose to make that statement boldly on the floor or on an entire wall?  Sometimes design is about taking risks — and not on a whim, but with thoughtful consideration for the overall design impact that you are hoping to achieve.  One of the most important things that I learned at Design Camp is that if you don’t feel a little bit uncomfortable sometimes, then you’re simply not growing.  So, if your design decisions are always the “safe” choice, it stands to reason that you might not be growing.  When a design decision takes you somewhat out of your comfort zone, don’t fight it…embrace it.  Try something new, make a statement.  If you walked into either one of these bathrooms each morning wouldn’t you be energized?  I doubt you would have any regret.


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Kitchen by Tommy Smythe: How do I Love Thee?

This carriage house-inspired kitchen by Canadian designer Tommy Smythe has always been on my list of favorites.  Tommy is the assistant to HGTV host Sarah Richardson of Sarah’s House and Design Inc..  Showcasing homes that represent their design aesthetic alone would make for a great show, but their friendly banter as they work on design projects makes episodes featuring this duo “Must-See TV.”  So, just what is it that draws me into this kitchen?

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…

  1. Slate floor laid in a herringbone pattern —  great visual interest!
  2. Oversized, vintage lantern (love the scale and patina)
  3. Cabinets:  white uppers and black lowers for a more casual, mis-matched look — love!
  4. Marble backsplash — timeless
  5. Mixed materials on the countertops — stainless with an integrated sink and marble for the rest
  6. French doors painted black like the cabinets = easy outdoor access and tons of natural light
  7. Cabinets that reach all the way up to the ceiling — create the illusion of height (and no room for unreachable dust bunnies)
  8. Vintage pine table juxtaposed against sleek stainless steel on counters and appliances — creates great tension
  9. Caned bentwood kitchen chairs evoke that bistro feeling

When classic materials are paired with more contemporary elements, it allows a room to keep current while managing to stay timeless.  In his carriage house-inspired kitchen, Tommy Smythe is able to create a space that is visually appealing, functional and a little bit unexpected.  To me, that’s a winning combination!

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Time to Plan Another Road Trip to Brimfield

Several years ago I made my first trip up to the Brimfield Antique Show in Massachusetts.  Having never been before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but my friend assured me that we would have a great time and unearth some fabulous treasures (boy, was she right!).  We left at the crack of dawn before the sun came up, hitched a small trailer to the back of my Suburban and hit the road with great anticipation for the road trip ahead.

When we arrived at Brimfield, I was taken aback at first by the sheer size of the antique show.  Several thousand dealers were spread out in booths across multiple fields, which extended along Rt. 20 for almost a mile.  Comfortable shoes were a must!   It would be easy to become overwhelmed by the incredible volume of antiques and vintage treasures, so we quickly learned that it was best to have a plan.  We made note of what we were hoping to find and tried to keep track of where we had been, and ultimately we were delighted with the success that we had!  When we drove home after that first day, with tables and bureaus strapped to the roof of the car, the trailer filled and secured with bungee cords, and the inside of the car packed to the ceiling, we were both shocked when we realized that we could have used more room – there was so much more to buy!

{Purchased at Brimfield:  console table, glass cloche, two crocks, foot stool, linen fabric for foot stool}
{Brimfield Finds: console table, glass cloche, two crocks, foot stool, linen fabric}

Recently, while trying to figure out what to do with a bare wall in my house that just needed a little something,  I went into my garage and pulled out a pretty shabby-looking console table that I bought on that first trip up to Brimfield but never used.  One by one, I started layering different objects from around the house onto the table (some new, some old), trying to create a little vignette that might work.  When I finally finished, I realized that much to my surprise, several of the items that I decided to use had been collected over the years from trips up to Brimfield.  There’s no greater pleasure than when you realize that your house is filled not only with things that you love, but also with things that you have collected over the years that remind you of the places you’ve been.  When I look at that table, I remember the dealer from Kentucky who sold it to me.  And when I see that stone crock under the table, I’m reminded of how excited I was to find a crock with its original lid.  If you had seen what that stool looked like before I had it re-covered (with the brown linen fabric that I purchased at Brimfield for $10), you might have walked right past it.

For me, the fun of going up to Brimfield is not only in the fabulous finds, but also in the hunt itself.  Since that first trip, my friend and I have been back up to Brimfield several more times, and we’ve devised a strategy of sorts for covering as much ground as we can and for visiting the shows and vendors that we like the most.  It’s taken a few trips, but we’ve settled into a rhythm, and we’ll definitely be back again.  So, with the spring Brimfield market opening on May 14th, and another to follow in July, I’m thinking I might just have to plan another road trip!

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