Does the Word “Unique” Describe Your Bathroom?

My last post was all about making your kitchen unique, so how about your bathroom?  I was inspired to write today’s post after I saw a photo of this beautiful bathroom, found in “Colorado Homes and Lifestyles” 2010 Home of the Year.  This image proves that bathrooms don’t need to be sterile or cold.  On the contrary, they can be cozy and inviting, and representative of your own personal style.  Designer Andrea Schumacher of O Interior Design used her clients’ love of travel as inspiration for the space, and Moroccan-themed tiles from Waterworks set the tone.  Elements such as the wooden linen closet, and the herringbone-patterned walnut floor topped with an oriental rug contribute to the warmth and character that exude from this bathroom.  As in any space, carefully selected elements that reflect your own personal style can make any space in your home unique.   

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Make your kitchen uniquely…you!

Pendants

Adding character and personality to your kitchen is really part of the fun of design.  For me, I would rather my kitchen not look like everyone else’s..I want it to be a true reflection of my personal style.  So, while I have traditional cabinets with a white painted finish, I thought that it would be fun to add a pop of color with some funky light fixtures.  I visited the home of a family friend who had had pendants made by a glass blower in Rhode Island, and when I saw them I knew instantly that they would be the perfect addition to my kitchen.  When I met Eben Horton, owner of The Glass Station, he showed me how the glass shades would be made and then told me that I could pick any color combination that I wanted.  The shape that we selected with the wavy edge would be just the right complement to my angular cabinets and countertops, and the blue & green color, edged with just a bit of red, made them the perfect accompaniment to my white kitchen.  

I am a believer that a kitchen can be both functional and beautiful.  Today we live in our kitchens — they are the central gathering place, and the hub of activity in our homes.  Why not make them beautiful?  We all know that great design comes from taking some risks.  Did I know exactly how my glass shades would turn out?  No.  But did I trust the artist who made them?  Absolutely!  And while my little illustration doesn’t do justice to these glass shades, I can assure you that they are beautiful and fun, while adding character and personality to my kitchen, making it uniquely…me!

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SieMatic — so sleek!

On a trip to pick up my son at school, I decided to stop at a cabinet showroom that I have passed many times along the way.  In addition to their own custom cabinet line,  they carried several styles of cabinets from other manufacturers, one of which was SieMatic.  The SieMatic kitchen was a new addition to the showroom floor, and as such, its installation was not yet complete.  The saleswoman assisting me was clearly excited to show me the new cabinet line, as it was completely different from anything else on the showroom floor.  I was instantly drawn to the clean lines of the cabinets, the sleek hardware and the whisper-quiet doors and drawers.  I was amazed at how many color options they offered  — 1,950 mat and gloss lacquer colors in all!  Full disclosure:  I didn’t know much at all about this German cabinet manufacturer, but in their words, they’ve been building “first-class kitchen furniture — and nothing else — since 1929,” so I was intrigued.  The saleswoman gave me SieMatic’s catalog titled “Interior Design for Kitchens,” and inside I found this beautiful kitchen.  The combination of classic and contemporary is exemplified in this kitchen representing their BeauxArts collection.  The refrigerator, for example, is hidden in the collection’s “Chinese Wedding Cabinet.”  And if you look closely, you will notice that the marble backsplash behind the Wolf range has a sliding section which opens to reveal storage shelves, and the microwave is built right into the marble side wall.  Clever indeed.
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Not Another White Kitchen!

 

I admit it, I like white kitchens.  My own kitchen is white.  I even have a Pinterest board filled with pictures of beautiful, white kitchens.  A white kitchen can be classic and timeless or sleek and contemporary.  Yes, some can appear cold, and yet others can be warm and inviting.  BUT…if I had to change my kitchen tomorrow, I might consider a color palette that resembles Houston designer Sally Wheat’s now-famous gray painted kitchen . There’s something so serene about this kitchen.  The gray paint, Benjamin Moore’s Fieldstone, coupled with honed statuary marble counters, make for a very quiet, calm space that’s truly elegant.

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Where’s Your Microwave?

MicrowaveRecently a friend, who is planning a new kitchen, asked me a simple question.  What’s the best location for the microwave?  Wow, simple enough question…not such a simple answer.  The answer truly is “it depends.”  The location of the microwave is best determined by how (and how often) you plan to use it, and whether or not you want to see it.  In kitchen design we all need to make choices, and today nobody wants to bend down to reach anything — whether it’s the oven, a low drawer or an under-counter microwave. So, it all boils down to usage.  

I decided to take an informal poll of several friends, all with new kitchens, to see what the current trend was (if any).  While the microwave really isn’t the most attractive of the kitchen appliances, almost everyone has one.   Locating it above or below the counter, or even out of sight in a pantry closet, really is a matter of choice. Microwaves located above counter height are often front and center and not always visually pleasing. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends that the bottom of a microwave placed above the counter should ideally be 3″ below the principal user’s shoulder, but no more than 54″ above the floor.  For undercounter microwaves, the bottom of the microwave should be at least 15″ off the floor.  For those who choose to tuck it under the counter and out of sight lines, there are a few drawbacks. Bending down to see what’s inside is simply inconvenient. And spilling hot liquids retrieved from under the counter is certainly a possibility.  If, like most people, your main uses for the microwave are reheating coffee and popping popcorn, then perhaps visual aesthetics and available space should be your guide. If you cook in your microwave and need to peek now and again, then you might find a below-counter microwave somewhat of a nuisance.  

And so, after my little research project, I have confirmed my initial suspicion that where you choose to place your microwave (assuming you have options!) depends on how you plan to use it and whether or not you want to see it.  So, the bottom line is:  it’s entirely up to you! 

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From Trash to Treasure

Marble Sink Top

It all began with an old marble sink top that lay discarded in the grass, propped up alongside an old barn.  I had spotted it from the road and told my husband that we needed to pull over so that I could check it out.  The name of the business inside was simply “The Strip Joint.”  Inside this dilapidated building I found a treasure trove of old antique furniture, most of which had seen better days.  Some of the items inside were not for sale…they were pieces that had been dropped off and were waiting to be refinished.  Other antiques were stacked precariously up the walls and on the second floor the furniture was up to the rafters in some places.  We spotted several old doors with great beveled glass lights that had been taken out of an old courthouse, and of course the footstool that I was eyeing was buried deep beneath broken caned chairs, old headboards and various other finds.  The owner of the shop was only too happy to help me dig out what I had spotted.  And the old Carrera sink top that I found laying discarded in the grass outside had a story of its own.  It had been taken out of an old house — completely unusable in its present condition.  The faucets, originally there had been two, were corroded, and only the faucet dedicated to hot water remained.  All that was left of the cold faucet was the hole that had been drilled for it many years before.  Underneath, the clips that held the original sink in place (which was nowhere to be found) were completely rusted an immovable.  I knew instantly that I had to have this vanity top for my new powder room.

Restoring this old beauty would be a project that ultimately required the help of an old Italian marble restorer, who was able to carefully remove the old broken plumbing fixtures and rusted clips without damaging the marble.  After that, he cleaned and polished the thick marble, which when restored betrayed the most beautiful patina that can only result from many years of use. I knew that the best way to showcase the sink top in my small powder room would be to mount it on chrome legs.  Adding a deep sink bowl and a traditional three piece chrome faucet would be the finishing touches.  

Since this powder room was brand new and in an old house that was built in the late ’20s, I knew that adding a vanity top with some history would make the bathroom so much more interesting. And this is one of the design principles that I tried to employ while renovating.  If my kitchen and baths were just like all of the beautiful examples that  I found in countless magazines, then they wouldn’t have been unique.  Designing a powder room around an old vanity top was also so much more gratifying than having bought one pre-made, which I have certainly done before.  It demonstrated to me that with a little bit of ingenuity I could have a powder room built around a piece with some great character.  And that 1 1/2″ thick Carrera marble top?  Well, I paid $50 for it. A worthwhile investment.

 

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