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  • Our Dining Room

    I've heard that formal dining rooms are passe, a waste of space.  I have a friend who used hers as a catch-all for her kids toys, and remember the folks in the giant victorian next to my old house utilizing their massive antique table as a shared desk space.  For a while, real estate wise, there was a trend of all-open floor plans...  Living rooms glided into dining "areas," and kitchen walls were open to both.  I'm not saying this is wrong; everyone has their own tastes and uses of space.  Personally, I just love a place to light a candle, center a dish of roast chicken, to relax with a bottle of wine and enjoy a few moments of quiet... or of crazy laughter, depending on the company.  I love a dining room, which is why we have one.

    Being in a townhome, we do have a smaller formal dining room.  At only 13' by 11', which includes a walkway to the kitchen, my grandmother's Duncan Pfife style dining table and chairs fit the space perfectly.  The seats of the chairs were reupholstered (an easy project with a drill, staplegun, and some material) in a black velvet.  Soon, that may be replaced with linen..  We'll see. 

    Two of the chairs frame my glass-front china cabinet- a steal from Macy's!- and above, original sketches of our old home as well as our current are framed and double matted.  Leopard-print pillows are a fun touch.  On the opposite wall, leading into the kitchen, are two simple paintings done by yours truly, in custom frames.

    The walls are painted in Pantone Jet Black, while the trim and ceiling remain bright white.  The floors are a chocolate-y hickory hardwood.

    Topping the room is a gold and black sphere light from Crystorama.  You may have noticed his smaller counterpart in our kitchen's breakfast area.  On the new hardwood is a super soft and shimmery rug in gold tones.  The light bounces off of it in such a pretty way, and it feels so nice underfoot.

    In the corner, under a clock my grandfather brought back from a trip to Germany, sits a huge peace lily that I haven't yet managed to kill.  She's fitted in a sleek metal pot. 

    Here she is, friends.  We've had intimate, 4-person dinners, and hosted over 20 for Thanksgiving.  Last Christmas, the table held mountains of appetizers and desserts when we hosted several friends for Christmas.  Our dining room is so used, and now, its a beautiful and comfortable place to host. 

    Sources:

    Flooring : Gilford Flooring, Glascow Hickory in Mountain Dust

    Paint : Pantone Jet Black

    Light : Crystorama 

    Table and Chairs : Vintage 

    Clock : Vintage

    Rug : Mitchell Gold Bob Williams

    Dishes : Vera Wang for Wedgewood

    Glassware : Williams-Sonoma

    Art : Custom

    Sketches : Wadia Newman Designs

    Plant Pot : Mahonia Studios 

    Frames : Hobby Lobby

    Gold Urchins : Target

    Alligator : Vintage 

    Aloe and Pot : Mahonia Studios 

    Petrified Wood Tray : Scout on Market

    Silver : Williams-Sonoma

    Carving Set : Williams- Sonoma

    Punch Bowl and Glasses : Vintage

    Pillows : Arianna Belle

    ** This post is not sponsored in any way **

  • Palm Springs Dreaming

    It's that time of year when all of the man's athletes are on Spring Break.  My social media is flooded with photos of rolling waves, videos of late-night pranks.  I keep getting Snaps and texts of sun-splashed co-eds laughing that I'm a little too old to travel with them, and sunburn...  So much sunburn.  While I have no want to be holed up with a dozen other people and at least three times that many bottles of cheap booze, I do find myself craving a vacation, and I keep thinking of sunny Palm Springs.

    ** via Realtor.com **

    Ah yes...  Palm Springs... That dazzling oasis off of Route 66, nestled between mountains and Joshua Tree National Park, just outside of Coachella Valley.  Home to mid-century modern homes, vintage style, and the long-time inspiration for Slim Aarons's iconic photography.

    ** Get your kicks... **

    ** Poolside Gossip by Slim Aarons **

    I'm craving a stay at the Parker Palm Springs, the happy, quirky, Jonathan Adler- decorated Spa in the middle of 13 acres...  Croquet, pools, private cabanas, incredible eats, and a fun bar scene.  I'm imagining palm-leaf print swimsuits, inflatable swans.  

    To me, the Parker is a reason to play dress up, wear flowers in my hair, accept a tiny bit (or a lot a bit) of a tan.  Morning yoga, funky beverages, and a quick jaunt into town for shopping, dining.  

    ** Parker Palm Springs **

    ** via Debutante Clothing **

    I'm definitely California Dreaming...

    What are your experiences, readers?  Have you ever been to Palm Springs? Surely you have a favorite summer vacation spot.  Tell me about it in the comments!

  • Wooly

    I'll admit that I'm a lover of all things fur.  I inherited my grandmother's coats, and have a raccoon fur collar that I just LOVE.  I knew that when it came to decoorating our home, I had to have something in here remniscent of the abominable snowman...  But preferably a friendly version.

    ** Monsters, Inc. ** 

    So many homes and home stores have touches of Mongolian Lambswool...  From small throws under $100 to incredible chairs in the $1000's, there seems to be an option for every home and every budget.

    ** Cote de Texas **

    ** RH Teen **

    ** Mitchell Gold Bob Williams **

    As much as I would have loved going a little crazy- I considered reupholstering our 6 dining chairs in the shaggy, white fur- I knew that with our new liing room furniture already leaning a bit to the feminine side, the Man would be less than thrilled to sit on a throne of fluffy goodness.  Instead, I brought in a piece that I knew I'd use and enjoy every day, and that has just the right amount of floof to not seem like I'd gone overboard.

    Enter the ottoman. 

    ** (insert me with googly-eyes here) **

    Here she is, folks!  My spot.  

    This furry little guy from Etsy seller FurMythology is incredibly sturdy, incredibly soft, and seems to pull this corner together just right.  The small amount of Mongolian lambswool gives me the fur fix I needed, and makes this corner just seem complete.  While I still think fur-bottomed dining chairs would be so good, the Man might be right- it may be overkill.  This, however, is just enough that our living room still seems as if it houses a couple, not just a female, and the fact that I can kick my feet up on something this soft?  Its a bonus.

    For affordable or faux options to add to your space, check out the options at Crate and Barrel, Target, and World Market.  

  • New Listing!! 496 Lincoln Drive, Elizabethtown

    Clean and very well cared for home just outside of Elizabethtown.  3 bedrooms and 2 full baths assure privacy and space, while a large living room and huge eat-in kitchen beg for company.  New hardwood floors, fresh paint, and a freshly-sealed driveway please the eyes, while new roof, new HVAC, and new water heater assure comfort and peace of mind.  

    All new (almost) everything in a peaceful setting.  Offered at $137,500.

    Brought to you by Joyce Duncan of Semonin Realtors.

    For more information, click here.

  • The Pinterest-Perfect Home

    Here's the thing: I love Pinterest.  The cyber idea-board of our dreams allows us to search for the best melon salad recipe out there.  It'll then lead us to the original souce (when available) of said salad.  Then, because it tracks your searches and movements, Pinterest will then take things upon itself to begin suggesting new melon salads, canteloupe sorbetto recipes, suggestions on how to grow your own mini-melons in a planter in your rear yard, and will offer leads to a melon-based facial cleanser, all because you- as the researcher and the consumer- needed an idea of what to bring to a barbeque.   It's really incredible.

    ** Melon Salad from Rye on Market **

    In the same way that Pinterest has become a go-to for those searching for what to wear to a winter morning wedding in Boston, or for gluten-free Thanksgiving dressing recipes, it has also become an incredible source for homeowners! A guy in Louisville can search for bachelor living ideas and be led to a London-based blogger who offers lists of how to start up house as a single man, while at the same time, he may stumble upon a couple of cookbooks focused on cooking for one, or meal prep ideas for his upcoming cholestorol test.

    Perhaps a soon-to-be mom of twins can research ways to make her small, two-bedroom condo more condusive to storing mountains of diapers and baby food.  Maybe she wants to research ways to maximize the space in her 750 square foot apartment that she shares with her husband who works from home.  There is a photo on Pinterest like a walk-in closet turned twins' room, and a blog entry titled "How to Raise a Baby in a Small Space." I guarantee this because a quick search for "small twin nursery" returned both of those results.

    It seems, though, that for those of us in the Real Estate industry, Pinterest can be both a blessing and a curse.  Since it's inception in 2010, Pinterest has been flooding the minds of consumers with the "Perfect" home.  Wide, open living spaces.  Penny-tile bathroom floors.  Flower gardens, flooded with bursts of color year-round. Glass-front kitchen cabinets. Privacy fenced yards. Updated garage doors. Freshly painted trim! Non-builder-grade lighting! High-efficency appliances! The list goes on...

    Here's what I need my clients (and you, sweet reader) to know: It doesn't always look like that.  Life doesn't always play out in an Hermes blanket draped armchair.  The candles aren't always burning. And, most importantly, the houses that are featured in blogs, on Pinterest, in Southern Living magazine may not have started out as beautiful and functional as they are now, under glaring lights of photographers and Realtors.  Want proof?

    ** used with permission of Listing Broker/homeowner, Brittany Walker, Rainey, Jones, and Shaw **

    Same kitchen, same angle, before and after the owner had the werewithall to move the fridge, remove a wall, paint, add subway tile...  All in all, these were not huge changes, but the difference is overwhelming.  I had the pleasure of showing this property after its facelift, and I have to admit that the property was crawling with Realtors and their clients. Why? Because this is a "perfect" kitchen, and that idea of perfectly done will attract attention.

    What if our homeowner didn't have the vision, the love or the guts to take a chance on a house that needed a little work?  I can almost promise you that the time and effort she poured into this house made her love it more than if she had walked into it post-remodel.  She kept her eyes and her imagination (and her heart) open to the possibility of building a home for herself and her family.  

    Need more proof?  Consider Erin Gates, the woman behind the Boston-based Erin Gates Design, Elements by Erin Gates, and The Elements of Style blog and book.  She describes buying her current home as seeing a man who was cute, comfortable, and safe, but not quite it- he didn't get her excited...  But she and her husband (along with her architect father) saw the potential, and have redone the kitchen, painted, finished the basement, added a huge master addition, widened the driveway...  Her home is now a showstopper.  (See her kitchen reveal here, and the master addition reveal here.)

    What I'm saying to you, sweet readers, is this...  Pinterest-worthy sometimes takes time.  Perfection is different to each of us.  As much as I wanted our home to be magazine-like when I first walked in, it just wasn't...  But it had potential. Especially in Louisville, there are so many homes just begging for a second shot at beautiful, and you'll be surprised at what a difference just fresh paint or new lighting can make.  In my industry, we need more Buyers with the vision and the excitement to move forward with the house that has the potential to become "the one."

    This isn't to say that a Buyer may not walk into a Pinterest- or magazine-worthy recent remodel and find that its perfect for their family.  If so, that's incredible!!  But, Buyers also need to keep their eyes open for a sweet little place that has potential.  From a Realtor's perspective (and from the perspective of someone who falls in love with every house **raises hand**), if you have the means to make a property your own- gut a kitchen, add a bay window, completely give an old fireplace a facelift- do it.  In the end, that house will really feel like your home, and the love you pour into it will shine through.  

  • Spring Dreaming

    I'm not sure where you are, sweet readers, or where you may be currently reading from, but here in Louisville, Kentucky, Spring has either arrived, else it's taunting us in the worst possible way!  The last several days have offered sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60's to 70's.  My sunroof has been open, the daffodils are blooming, and I swear I saw a few mosquitos Monday night.  

    The arrival of bright weather (no matter how eminent the dreaded late-season snowstorm will be) has me looking forward to greener days, to fresh pedicures and farmer's markets.  I always wait anxiously for the first local honey of the season from my favorite farmer, as well as the crazy burst of color that I know the dogwoods and tulip trees will soon offer. 

    Aside from the surprising bloom of florals and the farm-fresh goodies I know I'll be consuming, I find myself itching to add a little more Spring to my life:

    ** Essie Polish **

    Essie's Fiji nail polish is my first go-to pedicure come warm weather.  Pale pink, but not too Barbie-ish, it stands out well against the March-trip-to-Cancun tan, and can make the tucked-into-boots-all-winter fair skin look bright and healthy.

    ** Les Bonbons **

    Last year, I made the mistake of not buying a pair of Rebecca De Ravenel's incredible Les Bonbon earrings.  Maybe it's because I rarely buy jewelry, or because I really only have one pair of earrings I wear at all, but I was scared to take the plunge on these girly baubles... This year, it'll happen, and if I'm still too scared to make the investment, these are another more affordable (and customizable!) option.

    ** Linen Bedding **

    While I just LOVE the new faux fur blanket for our bed, as well as the incredible softness and warmth it has provided this winter, I can't see myself leaving it on in the crazy Derby-season heat.  Enter Target to save the day (when does Target ever not save the day?). The new Threshold linen bedding is soft, light, and remniscent of a happy, lightling-bug-lit Spring Kentucky night.

    ** J. Crew **

    I'm not usually one for overly-feminine colors or ruffles in my wardrobe, but EVERYTHING in J. Crew's Spring collection has me swooning.  Are you kidding me with that khaki/ruffle/pleating/collared shirt/ballgown number?!? I'm sure I could sell a house in that thing.

    ** Smith's Rosebud Salve **

    When the sun comes out, forcing me out of my Winter hibernation, and my skin finally gets a little color, I find that I wear little makeup other than mascara and lip balm- namely, Smith's Rosebud Salve.  The formula is rich, and keeps my lips almost as hydrated as good ol' Chapstick, but the sheer pinky-red tint gives me just a hint of color.  While the tin doesn't offer the most conveinent means of application, the flat, metal container makes itself easy to find when I'm digging through my bag in the middle of the day. 

    ** Coconut Cake **

    Without fail, as Easter would approach, my grandma would turn out these layered coconut cakes that were light, fluffy, and covered-covered!- in shredded, sweetened coconut.  More often than not, she'd get creative and present a bunny-shaped coconut cake, complete with green-dyed coconut flake grass and jelly bean features.  While I won't be getting that themed, I might be trying out this meringue-like option from Martha Stewart.

    Happy Spring-ing, friends! 

  • Our Kitchen

    It's the heart of the home, the gathering place.  It's the steady and only sometimes chaotic muscle that allows us to churn out meals, morning coffee.  It's where we sit to read the paper, to tune in to NPR or listen to Yo-Yo Ma over Sunday waffles.  It's our kitchen, and its finally, truly complete.

    When we purchased our home 3 years ago, a kitchen renovation was the most important item on my punch list.  I cook all the time, and while I knew that I needed a large, adjustable-shelf fridge, a deep sink, and enough counter space to roll out dumplings, I also knew I wanted white cabinetry, marble counters, black and white floors.  I knew I had to allow enough storage to hide at least a good part of my dishes, and- at the request of the man- I knew we had to have a tv in there, somewhere.

    I designed the cabinetry layout myself, focusing on symmetry and balance, and rejoicing in the fact that I could rip out the above-cabinet soffits that made the long, narrow room feel so closed in.  Now, instead of seeing the blank wall that was there previously, when I look through the arch separating dining room from kitchen, I see my oven head-on, surrounded by matching cabinets on either side.

     

    My grandmother was the one who taught me to cook, to host, and I've honored her in here as best as I could; her portrait hangs on the wall in the breakfast area, and her recipe for Italian Creme Cake- a staple at birthday and holiday celebrations- is framed at the far end of the galley.

    Comfortable, beautiful chairs surround the breakfast table (a gem I bought at Target at least 10 years ago), and a sisal rug keeps the marble floor from being too-cold under foot when I'm eating while shoe-less. The silver-plated horns remind me of the cattle I had on my farm, and makes me feel like the table never really needs to be "set."  It's decorated enough as is, with the help of two glass candleholders and silver salt and pepper shakers.

    Now, we have a comfortable, beautiful kitchen that functions perfectly, and is a traditional enough design that it allows any future recdecorating to be a breeze. 

    Sources:

    Cabinets : Kraftmaid

    Appliances : Samsung

    Dining Table : Target

    Chairs : Mitchell Gold Bob Williams

    Curtains : Amazon 

    Gold Frames : Target (custom mat)

    Gold Urchins : Target

    Black Frame : Hobby Lobby

    Glass Candleholders : Z Gallerie 

    Horns : Scout on Market

    Salt and Pepper : Williams-Sonoma

    Books : Carmichael's/Scout on Market

    Tray : Z Gallerie

    Decanter and glasses : Williams- Sonoma

    Aiplant : Mahonia Studio

    Espresso Machine : Williams-Sonoma

    Teapot : Williams-Sonoma

    Oil Bottle : Target 

    Carafe : Crate and Barrel

    Sisal Rug : Scout on Market

    Light : Crystorama

    ** This post is not sponsored in any way **

  • New Listing!! 1360 Eastern Parkway #11

    Gorgeous Highlands condo, just a quick walk from Bardstown Road. 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, original hardwood and French moldings. New windows, new Levolor blinds, new appliances, and new washers and dryers in the building laundry room. Secured, keyfob entry, or dial-in access that can be accessed via the new owner's cell phone.

    Bright and airy, in a historic (1920) building. Offered at $131,500.

    Brought to you by Joyce Duncan of Semonin Realtors.

    For more information, click here.

  • Open for Business

    Friends, readers, I can't tell you how much I appreciate the patience you've shown over the last year. Between taking what felt like months off between posts while losing Daddy and adjusting to life without him, then disapearing a few weeks ago to deal with the death of our pup, then suddenly losing my mom, I know I haven't stayed remotely consistent. Yet, every day, I log in and see that you've been here. You've been reading, you've been pinning, and you keep the blog alive- I can't thank you enough for staying with me. Thank you.

    I had the pleasure of showing a house today that boasted a line of open shelving in the kitchen.  A sweet little 1950's ranch, with only 1,200 square feet above ground, the owners had removed the wall between the living room and kitchen, tore out a too-obtrusive built-in eating area, and made this could-have-been-cramped-if-there-was-company home into an open, airy, easy-to-entertain-in space.  

    I've always loved the notion of open shelving, and it's an idea that's always been around; built-in china cabinets, rounded nooks in hallways...  It seems that designers have been using display shelving throughout our lives without us taking too much notice, then, all of a sudden, someone had the idea to remove the doors to their kitchen cabinets, and the trend took off.  

    ** original source unknown **

    ** from diy in pdx **

    ** Kristin Cadwallader **

    ** Martha Stewart's coffee bar **

    With resources such as The Home Edit, and almost-consistently styled shelves of Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel catalogs, we as consumers (as well as lovers of houses) have inspiration at our fingertips.  Add in art, cookbooks, potted plants... whatever makes you happy.  The purpose of open shelving is to see the beautiful things we own; our grandmother's teapot, monogrammed salad plates.  There's no limit to your imagination.

    ** Williams-Sonoma **

    ** Williams-Sonoma **

    I realize that having such a well-curated kitchen isn't always the best option, especially if you- like me- would lose your mind to see a soup bowl missing, or could easily spot the chipped edge on your Le Cruset (it makes me CRAZY), but a singular shelf, or area of shelves to display barware, a funky collection of casserole dishes, or your copper pots would be easy to maintain, as it would be rarely mussed.  

    ** The Bayou Party Barn, Garden & Gun **

    As for my clients? If they move forward with this home, the wife says she'd "need prettier dishes." I'm excited at the thought!

  • Stripes for All!

    Last night, I had the pleasure of visiting with a potential new client whose home looked like something out of Apartment Therapy or a West Elm catalog.  The space was perfect- a sunny condo near our parks, with two bedrooms, a large living space filled with French molding, and one of the coolest rugs I've ever seen!

    Simple in design, yet bold in it's pattern, the black-and-white striped rug in her nursery/office was a graphic pleasure for the eyes, and I thought about the darn thing all night.

    Really, a bold, striped rug can be used in almost any room of the house, and- as evidenced by the photos below- compliments almost any sort of decor.

    From traditional...

    ** From A Thoughtful Place Blog **

    ** From Lonny **

    To masculine...

    ** From Lonny **

    ** source unknown **

    To small spaces...

    ** From Coffee Stained Cashmere **

    ** From 346 Living **

    While large textiles are usually a more expensive change to make to a room, sites like Overstock, Houzz, West Elm, and Target always offer inexpensive options.  Personally, my eye is on the 8' by 10' Reze Striped area rug for our soon-to-be-finished (I hope) basement family room.  Find it here.

    Happy striping!