Friday, August 31, 2012

A Silver Lining

When my sister and I were young, setting the table was most often our contribution to the dinnertime family ritual, and it's still something I love today.  Setting the table signifies that the meal you're about to share is special, even if you do it the same way every day.

My real love is sterling silver flatware, but the price of silver has gotten so high that it's a real investment.  There are some great silver plated options out there, though, which can give you that gorgeous glow and patina but without the price of solid silver. While we lived in Europe, we collected loads of mismatched silver plated flatware from flea markets and junk/antique stores all over the place for everyday use and love its warm color and mixed history.

Now you can start your own collection without booking a trip or digging through junk at a flea market stall.  Anthropologie has done the searching for you and now sells place settings of mismatched vintage silverware from all over the country for just $36 for five pieces.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Children's Party Part II

 Adding just a few floral arrangements to ANY party always elevates the event, even if you are just turning 6!  For this party, I used Dahlias and Zinnias, simply placing them in mason jars, which added to our look. We also had small mason jars filled with animal crackers and yogurt covered cookie stars as a take away.  I used striped coral tape to embellish the jars, and I think everything turned out lovely.

Happy Arranging!!!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bathroom Renovation: Demolition & New Walls

One of our biggest projects in this house has been to take the one upstairs bathroom and, together with two unused closets, create two upstairs bathrooms.  Obviously we needed professional help to be able to pull off something as important as major plumbing, so we called in the pros to get us to a point where we could safely take things over.

 It would have been heartbreaking to have to tear up a beautifully renovated room, but thankfully that was not our problem here!  The existing bathroom was comfortable enough, but hadn't been upgraded much from basic fixtures and linoleum floors, and the space was open but not well used.

The bathtub surround had been tiled already in a neutral beige/gray that I didn't mind, so we hoped to keep it in the new two-room layout.

It's funny for me to look back on it now, but both our realtor and our general contractor tried to dissuade me from trying to add a second bathroom.  They just didn't think there would be enough space up there for two, but I kept insisting-- especially after taking extensive measurements and drawing my own blueprints-- that it would work just fine.  Our general contractor relented and introduced us to an architect who drew up our plans for the project, including where the water lines and doorways should go.  We were honest with her that our goal was to gain an extra bathroom but at minimal cost, so she helped by designing a layout that keeps the new plumbing lines close to the old and preserves the existing tub.  Apparently adding new lines for toilets in distant corners of your house can add a lot of money, so we were thrilled that our bathrooms are back to back, making it easier to keep costs down.

Once we gave the go ahead, they got to work tearing down the walls!  It was so much fun to see it all open up and to picture the new space.  Here you're standing in the old closet, looking into the bathroom where the master bath will be:

Here you can see the seams of the old walls between the two closets and the old bathroom.  This will all be a part of the new master bath.

Next the walls started going up!  (In the background to the left is the new master closet.)

Here you can see where the old room is now divided into two.  The part behind the newly framed wall will be the small hall bathroom, and the existing tiled tub will be in the new master bath.

Here is a view from the master bedroom into its new bathroom.  Not exactly luxurious yet, but it's exciting to see it come together.  And you'll be glad to know that our contractor did at last admit that the new rooms would turn out to be great and plenty big enough:)

Around this same time I took a trip to Home Goods (one of the perks of living back in the US!) and found my instant inspiration for designing the rest of the room;  I love this shower curtain!

Next up in this bathroom renovation series, I'll be posting all about our first attempt at laying our own tile... 



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kids' Party

About a month ago a friend asked me to help throw a 6 year-old a party.  Since I love a good party, I said YES then began making simple plans for an outdoor kid's party. Whenever I approach party planning, I always begin with color. From there you can decide what is in and what is out. For this event, we went with a vintage carnival theme.

I selected all our paper goods from Paper Presentation, where they have paper straws, fun chevron wooden utensils, and an amazing variety of colors for our paper goods. I simply decided on corals, pinks, and blues for the party. P.S. the yellow ballons were a random bunch--we ended up letting the kids release them.

I picked up ALL the food at Trader Joe's and plated the food on fun colored and shaped platters. I think we spent $120.00 total on the adult food, which is not bad! You can even buy the pelegrino and sparkling lemonade there, too, plus they deliver EVERYTHING!

Here is how it all turned out!!

Thursday I will share our sweet flower arrangements that took the party to the next level, all within a 15 dollar budget.  You can't beat that!!!

 Happy Partying!!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Bathroom Renovations: The Vanity

 When we decided to buy this house, we knew that if we were going to stay here for more than a few years the upstairs layout of one bathroom would have to change eventually.  I don't know if you've looked into adding a bathroom lately, but you can spend an absolute fortune before you even realize what has happened-- which would be fun, but unfortunately isn't an option at the moment.

In order to keep our costs down and make it conceivably within our budget, we had our contractor give us an estimate for "roughing in" the two bathrooms, which we created using the existing room and two poorly used closets.  (More on this later!)  This means we were in charge of hunting down our own fixtures, mirrors, toilet, vanity-- everything beyond installing the actual electric outlets, walls and plumbing.  A fun, money saving challenge!

We started looking for vanities and desperately hoped to find something affordable with double sinks.  I can't tell you how many times we have tried to brush our teeth at the same time, struggling for space at the counter, so two just seems like the ultimate luxury for us.  Obsessing over double sinks with cool, smooth carrera marble tops did me no good, since even after lots of research I had to cross them off the list.  

But, after Jady and I had already looked and looked, we ran across this vanity in Costco.  Not exactly my favorite look, but it has plenty of good storage, the size works for our space, and the solid granite countertop isn't too busy or dark when paired with simple decor.  And it was an amazing deal!

The dark stain and brown hardware are fine, but definitely not the look I had envisioned for our bathroom.  But these are things easy to fix with a little effort!  First, I removed the hardware, sanded the  wood lightly to rough up the surface some and applied a coat of primer.

For new hardware, I love Martha Stewart's line of cabinet pulls and knobs available at Home Depot, and I'm obsessed with the ones I picked for this project, which match our chrome faucets.

And here is the finished product.  I'm so happy with how it looks painted white, and it's as fresh and clean as I had hoped it would feel.   We obviously have a ways to go before we are completely done with the whole room (ignore the propped up mirror and lack of baseboards:)), but we now have the ultimate luxury-- and don't have to fight over the sink anymore!



Friday, August 24, 2012

Rooftop Settings

First of all, last week my sweet Henry accidentally spilled water on my computer.  I took a deep breath knowing it was just an accident and made a trip to the Genius Bar in Albany.  After the "genius" saw my machine and concluded there was significant water, I opted to use the rice method to dry my machine for a week, then plugged her in again. Thank the Lord, my air returned to life after plugging her in and so I am so grateful to be blogging!!!  Have you ever spilled liquids on your Mac? Which tricks worked for you? 

P.S. I am now more careful about backing up my family photos. 

Following our Creative Arts Camp we hosted a Thank-You rooftop party.  I didn't have much time to plan, so I threw a simple menu together with a little decor.   The summer is the best time to celebrate with flowers, because they are so inexpensive and bring so much pop to any occasion.  I wanted to elevate our rooftop party with a mix in colors for our table settings. My new go-to for color and variation in table settings on the fly is wrapping paper.  I picked up a few fun coral sheets from Paper Presentation. 

Our simple menu included fresh fruit, corn and salad from our Farmer's Market.  We grilled chicken and steak.  The meal turned out lovely, including our weather.  I just love throwing together a simple meal with a little glam on the side. 

Happy Weekending!!!


Thursday, August 23, 2012


Now we have a bed in place, and I have been thinking about making my own headboard, but with our other millions of projects that desperately need to be done, I'm not going to lie... the idea of ordering something and having it arrive on my doorstep ready to be used is very, very tempting.

And this sale along with their many fabric choices available, is not helping:)

I'm still hoping I can hold out for a DIY version, but either of these sure would be great.  

Tufted or nailhead trim??  



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