Monday, October 5, 2015

What is it about Fridays?

In a way, I should be thankful. Every time our little dog had a major medical problem, it happened on a Friday and we had the weekend to recover. As a puppy, he had an uncommon hernia (not the kind that many puppies get) and after a day of tests at our vet, we were told to rush to a trauma center in Richmond for surgery on a Friday night.

Post-surgery in when he was a puppy

In May, when we sent him in for an emergency surgery to remove his spleen, it was on a Friday. And now, our sweet dog decided to let us know that he was done fighting cancer on a Friday.

I got home from a frustrating trip to Richmond (it's home related and I'll write about it soon) and Marc told me that Baxter was fine, but Jack the puppy had been sick all day. We couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. We had a quiet night with the puppy feeling under the weather. Around 9:30 PM, Baxter got up from his mat and walked over to us at the sofa. He looked at Marc for a minute and we thought he wanted some food (his eating had gotten erratic) or to go outside. I got up to put a jacket on. As I turned, Baxter wobbled a bit and then collapsed.

I was convinced he was leaving us on the spot and broke down. Marc calmly moved him so he had plenty of room to spread out. Our little dog was conscious, but his breathing was very labored. We laid on either side of him and tried to comfort him. He picked up his head a few times, but was too weak to move his body. We wound up piling the floor with blankets and pillows so we could sleep all together that night. We barely slept. When I did sleep, I'd wake up startled and reach over to feel for Baxter's heart beat. I was so scared that he would die alone that night, but he made it until the morning.

"We're all going to sleep in a real pile"

Saturday was incredibly hard, but a devastating event was made easier by the amazing compassion of the folks at Georgetown Veterinary. We literally have the best vet in the world in Dr. Mike Fietz. 

We've been in tears a lot in the last couple days and I don't know how long that will last, but we've also talked a lot about the cute things Baxter did or fun adventures we had with him. Friends and colleagues have been so wonderful, sending us notes of support. Our neighbors even brought us a care package last night.

I don't know if I can hop back to home posts right away, so I hope you'll excuse me if I take couple days off.
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Friday, October 2, 2015

A Charlottesville Mention in House Beautiful

Did you get the September issue of House Beautiful? I think it was one of my favorite issues of 2015! Every article had some interesting information or inspiring images. I save all my HB issues, but I have a feeling I'll be flipping through this one for years to come.

My favorite article in the magazine was "All Around the Color Wheel", which featured design work by Catherine Brown Paterson, photography by Paul Raeside, and an interview by Lisa Cregan. I was enjoying the interview when I read a line that made me so excited:

LC: This living room definitely takes the preppy out of pink and green.
CBP: It's an octagonal room, and it's what sold my clients on the house. They both went to the University of Virginia, with all that Thomas Jefferson Palladian architecture, and they immediately fell for the place.
 If you haven't had a chance to see the feature, here are the scans of the pages. I hope to be able to share more from this gorgeous home soon!

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Small and Chic Home Featured by Elle Decor!

I was completely floored the other day when I get an email from an Elle Decor marked "TIME SENSITIVE." I opened it assuming it was time to renew my subscription! Imagine my surprise when I found a lovely note from an editor who was working on a piece about small homes. She wanted to know if she could lift an image of our old condo from my blog and how I'd like the image credited.

In what might have been my fasted email response ever, I replied that she was welcome to take whatever she wanted! The more I thought about it, the more it seemed unlikely that any images of mind would be used. I never had my condo professionally photographed. I took the pictures on the House Tour page with a rented lens (albeit a good one) and I'm well aware that they aren't fabulous photos. I kept an eye on Elle Decor's Facebook page anyway and waited.

This evening, I saw a post that I thought could be the one that editor wrote. I clicked over and was pretty sure my condo didn't make the cut. The cover image on the piece was a sleek, beautiful, and obviously professional decorated and photographed home.

I clicked through the gallery and saw one incredible home after another. All had credits of architects or professional designers, but the last image in the slide show was my little living room.

I am so paralyzed with our current living room and have been thinking about using one of those e-design services like Laurel and Wolf, Decorist, or Havenly to help me figure out a plan for it. Seeing my old space used as an example by a publication like Elle Decor is making me think I should trust myself make the room homey and welcoming.

For now, I'll just enjoy the pat on the back from that lovely editor.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Mixing Chrome and Nickel in the Bathroom

I wrote a post about mixing metals in the bathroom we are renovating a while because because my vanity came with a pretty, brushed nickel faucet. I prefer polished finishes and wound up buying a similar style faucet in polished chrome. The new faucet is by Newport Brass, which I think is a great company with a solid reputation. The faucet is beautiful and heavy.

After trying to assemble all the needed parts for the shower, I got frustrated and bought a "kit" that met our needs from Pottery Barn. It was expensive, but a little less so with a coupon code. That set is also polished chrome.

After I procured these items, I got busy with other things. When we started work on the bathroom, our contractor asked to see the other fixtures - towel bars, mirror, and shelving. I never got to those purchases.

So over the weekend, I was near the Restoration Hardware outlet and went in to see if I could pick up a few items at a discount. Though I loathe what they've done with their furniture, I love the plumbing fixtures at RH and easily found a few items I liked. I wound up with a Lugarno toilet paper holder and wastepaper basket. Most of that line is on sale on the RH website right now, so I figured I could round up the rest of the items up this week online.

I went to order a towel ring and hook tonight and realized that I have inadvertently mixed metals. The toilet paper holder I bought is polished nickel. The difference between the holder and a handle from our faucet set is pretty noticeable.

The toilet paper holder is going on the side of the vanity and isn't really going to be seen much, so I figured I would just move on and get chrome for the rest of the items.

But then I started looking at train racks. The RH train rack has hooks attached to it and I really wanted a simple towel bar. I wanted to put the train rack up over the toilet and have towels hanging under it with monograms visible.

Luckily, Pottery Barn has a train rack that looks a lot like the Lugarno line, the Mercer rack. The only hitch: the Mercer rack only comes in polished nickel.


So now I have to make a decision. Do I get everything in polished nickel? Just have the train rack in polished nickel? Find an entirely new train rack?

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Kelley Proxmire Sample Sale this Weekend!

I became a big fan of Kelley Proxmire the second I walked into this room at the 2012 DC Design House. The space was huge and I could have spent hours in it looking at all of the beautiful vignettes she created. It was called L'Orangerie.

More recently, she used art by John Matthew Moore (my fav!) in her room at a show house in New York City and won my heart all over again.The shells in the second image below are by JMM.

 I love the way she uses color! I also appreciate how she can make even a small space feel luxurious. Look at the size of the wall in this bedroom below...

Imagine my excitement when I saw that Kelley is holding a sample sale this weekend in DC! This is apparently an annual event that I have never been able to catch, but as I'm in the area with two hours between appointments this afternoon, I might be able to check it out!

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Daydreaming About a House

I've been driving the same route to work for the last two years. About a year ago, the yard next to a house became a construction site. I didn't realize that it was large enough for a home, but a foundation was poured, framing went up, and a house began to emerge from the lot. The house was finished in the spring and a "for sale" sign appeared. I didn't realize it was a spec home, but it looks like that is the case.

Being curious, I took a look at the listing on the MLS. The 6000+ square foot home has 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, and was originally on the market for around $2.5 million (the price was dropped a little bit since then). Looking at the MLS photos, I started to think about how I would change the home. I'm curious about your opinions...

The Exterior

The first thing I would do is paint the garage structure to match the home. The house is beige and the garage is gray. At first, I thought the garage might belong to the house behind the one that's for sale.

I would also have the arcs above the third-story windows match the one over the front door. I like the warmth of the wood and it would look nice repeated. I might also add shutters to the first and second story windows.

The backyard is cute and could look welcoming with a simple outdoor dining set and a couple loungers. Some landscaping could draw attention away from the utility boxes.

The railings on either side of the front could be a little more substantial to hold up the planters hung there. Or, the rail planters could be removed and the flowers could be put in the urns.

The First Floor

The first floor windows are great - almost floor to ceiling! I think white paint on the ceiling might bounce the light around a little more. I might also lighten the floors and go with classic, white trim. With over 6000 square feet in the home, these rooms are obviously large, but they feel dark and closed in.

I wish the agent had moved the painting gear before taking the photos. It's a little distracting.

I'm not sure what rooms follow...they could be the dining room, an office, or a first floor bedroom. For a home with a $2.5 million price tag, I'd invest in some more purposeful staging of these spaces. 

Dear agent, please delete the fuzzy picture! 

The Basement 

This wine room is really specific...I'm sure the iron doors cost a bit, but I would switch them out for something simple so it could be a closet. The racks don't seem built into the space, so the room could be storage.

There seem to be so many different kinds of lighting in this home. Style-wise, I would switch to metal fixtures and ban the inexpensive "boob lights" from the home.

The Bathrooms

Pet peeve: beige, "Flip This House" tile. I also noticed that the shower heads aren't mounted at a consistent height in each bathroom. For a high-end listing, I'd expect marble bathrooms and high-end plumbing fixtures, towel bars, and lighting.

This bathroom is in the basement, so maybe that's why the style is a complete departure from the ones above. I'd simplify the vanity and go with a classic color scheme.

The Third Floor

The windows make me I think these next few pictures are of the third floor. Again, some staging could show off how large this floor is.

The Master Suite

Now we move to the master bedroom suite. I don't think this closet is one I'd expect to see in a $2 million home.  

The master bathroom is huge! I'd love to have this kind of space, but I would completely change the colors and finishes to be more cohesive. The wood in here is too heavy for my taste. The lighting seems oddly placed and the mirrors are just three slabs. I would have gone with a seamless mirror and mounted scones on the mirror to throw light around a bit.

The bathtub feels a little random in the corner. I'd borrow space from the massive shower and give that tub it's own space.

It seems like the far wall is painted the same gray as the trim and the rest of the room is beige. I'd go with classic, white paint. The white tub (along with the toilet and bidet) looks odd against this paint.

This picture of the shower doesn't show any fixtures, but I would expect to see a rain showerhead, handshower, and body sprays. The tile looks like floor tile to me...I'd go with large, marble tiles.
I love the idea of a beverage center in the master bedroom! If that is what the niche below is to be, I would put a coffee maker on the self instead of the microwave. I'm confused by what is going on at the top of the niche. The exposed hinges on what looks like a sideways cabinet door with the arch sunk into the niche looks strange to me.

I'm not a huge fan of tray ceilings, so this master isn't my favorite. I would add recessed lights and a chandelier instead of a ceiling fan. A little staging would help, too.

The Kitchen

I saved the kitchen for last. I think the dark colors are making this kitchen feel small. The oversized bar chairs dwarf the island, too (and why are they green with floral cushions?). If this room is large enough to warrant a main sink and a prep sink, the colors and staging are hurting it. The light fixture is also a pot rack, but it is hung so high that I don't think the average person could use it. The recessed lights seem randomly placed.

From this angle, we can see that there are two dishwashers in the kitchen. Doesn't it look like the dishwashers are wider than the farm sink? I think something funny is going on with these photos. 

I can't help but wonder if this house will sell this way. At the very least, I think some better pictures and staging are needed. Ultimately, I think changing the color scheme and some of the fixtures would help. There's a home just down the street from this about the same size and a little lower in price. A lot of the details are the same, so I wonder if the homes have the same builder.

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