• Geometric Wallpaper

    I've known, since we moved into our house three and a half years ago, that I wanted some sort of funky, geometric wallpaper to be put into the powder room in the basement.  With the Bellaire project getting closer to being finished (cabinets are going in today!), I've started to think a little more about the next big project: Our basement.  

    With our home's decor leaning a little more towards funky with the addition of contemporary light fixtures, sleek furniture, and our ever-growing modern art collection, I feel like I can be comfortable taking a few more risks in how we make these new spaces our own.  An option that can be feasable, easily removable (if done correctly), and can really pack a punch is wallpaper!

    ** Cole and Son Hicks Hexagon **

    ** Seabrook Quartz **

    I've been leaning hard towards the Hicks Hexagon print from Cole and Sons, but the teal option of Seabrook's. Quartz has been pulling my heartstrings as well.

    Of course, there are endless options.  Whether we decide on something bold, like the black and white Tile from Cole and Son, or go a little more subdued with the Anders from AllModern in green or gold, I know that something playful, that plays tricks on our eyes will make me happy in a tiny space like a powder room.

    Other great, but more traditonal options include the Watercolors Large Lattice pattern from York Wallpaper and the Optimum White and Duck Egg from Graham and Brown.  For those of you in temporary living situations like apartments or rentals (or your parents' guest house or basement), or those of you who are nervous about a "permanant" decorating change, Graham and Brown offers a line of removable wallpapers that you can check out here.

    ** Cole and Son Circus **

    If you have that itch to go bold.... Really Bold... check out Cole and Son's Circus Panels.  Talk about making a statement!!  Whatever you may choose with your wallcovering, don't be afraid to let your wants and your personality shine.

  • Sitting Down with Home Staging Specialists

    One of the biggest challenges I face as a Realtor is telling folks that they need to ready their home for the market. Whether its a small project like decluttering their kitchen counters and dresser tops, or a huge take-on like repainting everything and bringing in new furniture, no one likes having a person telling them that their house is anything less than perfect. This is where I'm happy to offer the services of a professional stager.

    Staging is such an important part of the home-selling process. How a home photographs can mean the difference in having a flood of viewings- and offers!- within the first few days on the market, or sitting without interest for weeks. Photos are the first thing a potential Buyer will see of their hopeful new residence… Why not make that first impression an incredible one?

    I’ve been fortunate in my career to meet the professionals who can take over where my expertise ends, allowing me to serve my clients with a team approach. From professional photographers, to professional stagers, I want to bring my Sellers a full gamut of resources. After all, when I’m hired to help sell a home, I’m handling one of the largest- if not the largest- asset someone owns. I need to make sure I’m servicing them to the best of my abilities. I sat down with friend, partner, and professional stager Jill Gaynor of Home Staging Specialists to gain a little perspective from her end of this process.

    How does the staging process work?  I know that I usually send you in as a consult in the beginning, if needed, but after that, I’m out of my expertise.  What happens after that initial meeting?  Staging is an important part of the selling process. When we come into a property, we don’t have the relationship you may have with your client. We come in with “Buyers Eyes” and make sometimes difficult recommendations on the condition of the property and what it will take to get a property ready to sell.  Staging is NOT about your personal taste, it’s about appealing to the new owner, having them see themselves in the new space.  After the assessment, we will write a report, summarizing our review, provide any vendors needed if necessary to complete the process and provide an estimate on what it would cost to stage a property.  In addition, as part of our services, if the client uses us to stage, we will also connect your MLS listing to all of our social media as well.  We are definitely a team-oriented firm and work closely with the client and the Realtor.  We stay in touch with you and the client until the property is close to closing.  We definitely believe "it takes a village” to get a property SOLD! 

    You’ve mentioned that one of the easiest ways to begin a home refresh is to declutter.  Do you have any favorite ways to organize and store in places like the basement, the closet, or the dreaded junk drawer? I am a big fan of a labeler.  When my kids were younger and learning to do some chores, I would label the shelves so they knew what size sheets went where without going through all of them to figure out.  In addition, I have baskets in my pantry that are labeled for medicine, dental- extra toothbrushes and floss you get from the dentist, napkins, etc.  I try to identify where things should go so when I had “helpers” they knew where to put things.  In regard to the junk drawer, I would say, at least once a year, stand there with a garbage can and toss/purge all of those miscellaneous items that you thought you needed but didn’t and/or forgot why you were saving a particular widget.

    Do you have clients who will call you to stage their home, even if they aren’t planning on listing? What are those projects like?  We have been very fortunate to develop great relationships with staging clients that have turned into design clients.  A little bit different school of thought:  Staging is getting a product ready to sell to GQ Public.  Design is making a house a home.  We have had several clients who liked what we did from a staging point and when they were moving into their new home, we would often go to help them place their furniture into their new home, recommend paint colors, source any new pieces they may need and help them develop a plan to be in their new home.

    Finally, I have to ask- is your home just perfect?  (Laughing) I can honestly say I have never been asked that question!  Of course I don’t think my house is perfect…it’s perfect for us with a large family, and, I will admit, every time I stage a property, I drive my husband a bit crazy with cleaning out some closet, garage, section of a basement, etc.  Since our children are mostly grown and gone, the dust has settled and I am in the process of doing some “updates”.  With 4 children and a constant revolving door of their friends, our Derby festivities, etc., (which we both love to have the company!), our home has been well loved and it’s time for a few updates since we built it 15 years ago.  We built our home to be functional as well as welcoming where no room was off limits.  As you know, a home is constant maintenance, and when our youngest finished playing field hockey and moved to college, it was time to do some updating.  Today it’s pretty quiet, but they still pass through now with their dogs, significant others, and friends from college.  We are always ready for whomever comes through our door and love every minute of it...

    Dear readers, when I invited Jill over to chat, I felt that momentary panic of wondering whether or not my home was up to her standards, so I know that it can be nerve-wracking to ask someone to come into your home and make suggestions on how to make it better. When I asked Jill if she was judging my surroundings as soon as she walked in, she said she was only “assessing.” Smart answer!

    GIVEAWAY ALERT!! I’m thrilled to have teamed up with Jill and her Louisville-based company, Home Staging Specialists, to offer an in-home consultation ($150 value) to one of my lucky readers. Whether you’re considering selling your home, or just want a professional to offer an opinion on streamlining or making things a little more cohesive, Jill’s opinion can prove invaluable! Beginning at noon EST today, Monday, August 7th, 2017 until 5pm EST Friday, August 18th, any reader in the Louisville Metro area can enter to win by emailing me at yoursmostsincerely@hotmail.com. One entry per day only. The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email on August 18th. Good luck!

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

    ** this post was sponsored in part by Home Staging Specialists. all thoughts and opinions are my own **

  • Summer Dressing

    It’s hard- so hard!- to find a dress that can carry one through summer date nights. I’ll rephrase. It’s difficult to find a dress that can carry one through sweltering summer date nights in the Ohio Valley, where the humidity can creep upwards of 80% even on days it isn’t raining, and the heat index tops out at 110 near sundown. How is one supposed to find a flowy, beautiful dress that can fend off the dreaded underboob sweat and/or accommodate a garter-belt installed air conditioner?

    I’m a fan of maxi dresses. I always have been. When I saw this fun, feminine number on the Banana Republic website, I knew I needed to try it on before I made the plunge, and I’m glad I did!

    The graphic black and white pattern keeps the ruffled, off-shoulder sleeves from being too girly, and the length is perfect for this 5’2 girl once she puts on heels. While this version- the black and white- is sold out online, its cobalt blue twin and a knee-length red striped counterpart are both on sale now! Happy dressing!

    ** dress (similar), sandals, earrings **

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken, this post is not sponsored in any way **

  • Late Night at Eight Bar

    As you well know, I love my little neighborhood in Chicago.  I've stayed at The Ambassador East (formerly Public Chicago- more on that later) on more occasions than I care to admit.  The atmosphere of the tiny bubble which comprises Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood is comfortable.  Trees line the street, Division separates the hood from the bustle of the Rush Street bar district, the lake twinkles just a few blocks away, and couples walk hand-in-hand to 11pm dinner at places like gorgeous steakhouse Maple and Ash, and it's sister spot, Eight Bar

    Saturday night, the man and I wandered down for a late dinner, and were pleased to see that tables outside were still full and the bar still had several patrons sipping on fun cocktails.  We settled into a cushy booth facing both the Cubs game and the Indians game playing over the bar, and pondered the menu.  

    I'd been craving a good martini for quite a while, so decided on the 8 Martini, and our server was happy to replace my olive with a lemon twist.  B leaned towards the Ward 8ish- a combination of Bourbon, vanilla OJ, and Mezcal Grenadine.  My matini was perfect- the herb vermouth lended something extra to the flavor, and I had to tap out after two refills...  They were just that good.

    We split onion rings as an appetizer, but leaned hard towards the crispy artichokes.  Someone in our house always has to try the steak frites (medium rare), and he said that this version was as good as any.  Piled high on his plate was a mountain of fries, and the steak- pre-cut- came along with bordelaise and garlic confit.  Two people could have easily shared.  

    Speaking of sharing, I ordered the fried chicken, which our server politely informed me would arrive in a bucket.  I thought he was joking...  he was not!  My bucket of chicken had a bottle of housemade hot sauce as well as a jar of pepper honey inside.  The chicken was SUPER crispy, and reminded me of the fried chicken my grandma used to make where she would crush up saltines to use in the breading.  The man wasn't a fan- said that the honey was necessary to enjoy the flavor.  I disagree.  The crunchy skin combined with a super juicy meat was incredible.  The honey was a nice addidtion, and they weren't stingy on serving size- half a chicken cut into 4 pieces went home in my belly that night. 

    Friends, if you're in the Chicago area, I encourage you to try Eight Bar.  The patio was breezy and fun, while the bar inside was dimly lit and romantic.  There are still a few items I'd like to try, but I'll happily return again for that chicken any time. 

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

    ** all photos taken from Eight Bar's Instagram **

  • NEW LISTING! 6708 Brighton Springs Lane

    Cute brick ranch in conveinently located Brighton Springs! Three bedrooms and two baths couple with a vaulted family room (with fireplace), and a large, open eat-in kitchen to allow plently of space for a single, couple, or family to spread out and relax. In the basement, over 1,200 square feet of additional space is ready and waiting for a new owner to finish- a full bath has already been roughed in.

    With easy access to Bardstown Road and the Gene Snyder, this house really does have it all, and will not last long! Offered at $209,500.

    Brought to you by Joyce Duncan of Semonin Realtors.

    For more information, click here.

  • Bellaire Update

    Oh, friends, I’m so happy to report that we are moving along at a nice rate at the Bellaire house. In the last week, my contractor has completed all of the drywall work, all of our kitchen can lights have been installed, and the old, icky bathroom vanity, lights and mirror have come out, and the large walk-in closet in the bedroom has been wired and plumbed for a washer and dryer.

    And…. I’ve decided on paint!

    I love the thought of light and bright for the majority of the house. This will be vacation home, after all, and should look like one- airy, even though it’s gonna be dramatic and moody. The walls throughout will be Sherwin Williams’ Spare White, a slightly cloudy, lightly silvery white. All of the trim, as well as the fireplace will be painted in semi-gloss Extra White. My neighbor’s entire home is done in Extra White, and its just so clean and perfect.

    The bathroom is going to reflect the dark, gray-brown of the kitchen cabinets, courtesy of a gorgeous shade called Urbane Bronze. I cannot wait to see my new sconces against these walls! The sample sizes from Sherwin Williams are a full quart, so I was able to get an excellent idea of what these shades will look like in morning or afternoon light throughout the house.

    As soon as the walls are painted and the lights are in, I’ll have more updates for you, and I’m so looking forward to them!

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

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

  • A Very Pink Victorian

    Late last week, I had the pleasure of selling a GORGEOUS victorian home in our beautiful Cherokee Triangle. My clients are moving back to Louisville from the San Francisco Bay area, and fell in love with the way Louisville’s historic neighborhoods and the elaborate millwork inside reminded them of their home on the west coast.

    While spending time at their new home on Tuesday during inspections, I completely fell for the look and feel of the foyer and formal living room, and found myself fantasizing of how I’d put these spaces together if I were the lucky homeowner.

    ** Benjamin Moore **

    ** Stark Carpet **

    I’d keep the woodwork and ceilings bright white and paint the walls and french molding (in the formal living room) Charming Pink by Benjamin Moore. Girly? Yes. But, this is my fantasy Victorian… The floors are already a dark oak, which is beautiful. I’d rip up the stair runner and replace it with something neutrally colored but still a little wacky, like Stark’s antelope print.

    ** via The Jealous Curator **

    ** Bernhardt **

    ** Bourgeois Boheme **

    ** via Art and Shop **

    On that crazy good millwork in the stairwell, I see Marina Dunbar’s Horizon Series hung all willy-nilly. The circular wooden version would look dreamy just floating up that rear wall. I’d place the Bernhardt Miramont collection console on the wall opposite the entry fireplace, while its friends desk, chair, and coffee table would live in the living room, alongside the curved Arc Sofa from bobo interiors. A bright fuchsia sculptural piece from Jason Martin would hang above the fireplace, while a black grand piano would live by the front windows, with a view of the beautiful neighborhood.

    ** Sherwin Williams **

    I feel like I’m building a lady palace here, so while we’re on it, lets paint the first floor powder room Sherwin Williams’ Exuberant Pink, and call it a day.

    Cheers, my friends. I cannot wait to see what my clients do with this incredible space!

  • Dining at Decca

    Twice in the last week, I've had the opportunity to grab food and drink at Decca Restaurant in downtown Louisville.  I'll be honest- for some reason, Decca was never a place I took the initiative to visit on my own.  Instead, I've only ever visited at the invitation of someone else.  I don't know why this is...  The building and patio are absolutely stunning!  The second floor record room is a fun respite to grab appetizers and cocktails with a friend, and the Cellar Lounge is cool, candlelit, and the perfect spot to cuddle with a date over smaller bites and cocktails.  But, as we've discussed before, I'm a creature of habit, and it's so hard for me to break out of my comfort zone.

    Still, I've never had a bad meal at Decca.  Chef Annie Pettry consistently turns out dishes that are as delicious as they are beautiful, with a focus on locally sourced foods, meaning each bite will be as fresh as possible, with a true flavor and texture.

    Saturday night, a girlfriend and I headed down to the patio to grab some eats before a show at the Kentucky Center.  We were undecided on first course, musing on the avocado toast versus roasted beets, finally having both arrive on our table.  The avocado toast was a thin flatbread topped with not only everyone's favorite healthy fat, but sliced asparagus and pickled serrano peppers.  Both the crispiness of the asparagus and the heat of the pepper lent an unexpected- but perfect- texture and taste.  The roasted beets arrived on a wedge of chargrilled cabbage, a schmear of feta vinagarette, and topped with sunflower seeds.  I could have dined on that alone!

    For dinner, I leaned towards Crispy Redfish- perfect and moist- on a bed of couscous with cucumber, peanuts and leeks.  Our server brought out a small cup of broth, poured over the dish as it arrived at the table.  My dinner companion went heartier, with a wood-grilled pork chop and grits coupled with pickled peaches.  The bite she allowed me to steal was enough to convince me to order it the next time I'm in.

    While the dinner my friend and I shared was planned and reserved in advance, last night I unexpectedly ended up in Decca's 150-year old stone-walled basement-turned-bar, the Cellar Lounge.  Cocktails went all around, and our trio decided on simple, sharable plates- a pickle platter and a cheese plate.  While the cheese plate was a comfortable mash of two Kenny's Farmhouse cheeses, as well as a goat cheese and accompaniments, I was caught off guard by the pickle plate.  Yes, there were pickled cucumbers, but also spicy pickled carrots, still-crisp pickled beets, curried cauliflour and a salted, beet-brined boiled egg.  A cup of cheese straws floated out unexpectedly from the kitchen, light and soft, and very flavorful.

    We ended last night with a thin slice of buttermilk pie- a favorite dessert of mine.  Tart and sweet, with a rye crust and buttermilk sherbet and peaches, it was a perfect ending to the evening.  

    I'm hoping that the Kentucky summer weather lets up soon, allowing me to head back out to the patio here, but I've fallen in love with the cool feel (both temerature-wise, and vibe-wise) of the Cellar Lounge.  I'm sure that you can find me down there on Monday nights, where the space hosts live jazz- a wonderful compliment to a summer cocktail. 

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

    ** all photos taken from Decca's Instagram **

  • Mahonia Studios

    Here in Louisville, we are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by small business. From a ridiculous number of locally-owned restaurants, boutique hotels, and mom-and-pop shops of all kinds, my city boasts pockets of neighborhoods that seem to flourish in keeping our dollars local. From the Highlands to Frankfort Avenue, Nulu to Norton Commons, Louisville continuously tops lists for being small business friendly.

    With so many options available for daily purchase, it’s taken even the local-est of locals to discover some of the good we have here in town. Continuously, when friends check in to spots on social media, I feel like I see a treasure trove of new places to dine, to shop, while still keeping our dollars within the Greater Louisville area. One of my favorite spots to spend money? Mahonia Studios.

    Through shopping here for fresh flowers, houseplants, and unique greeting cards and candles since their opening, I’ve become friends with Mahonia owner, Bridget Davis. She and I were able to sit down over dinner on Saturday to chat about what she wishes people knew about her store and about the Nulu neighborhood, as well as plant keeping in the Instagram age of the “darling of the plant world,” the Fiddle Leaf Fig.

    Bridget has been in retail since she was 12. She bugged the folks who owned a pet shop near her home until they finally offered her an opportunity to perform odd jobs around the store. At 14, she was on their payroll, and she stuck with them for 7 years total- until she was 19. As she grew up, she became interested in flowers and plants of all kinds. She would buy her own, then make dried flower wreaths- much like the ones you’ll find in Mahonia now. After reaching adulthood, working as a chef in Portland, and managing sales for a bakery, she took a huge risk, leaving that career for $8.50 an hour working in a flower shop. She says her heart just told her she needed to do something creative.

    The vision was always there to open a space of her own, and when the opportunity to move closer to her wife’s family in Kentucky arose a couple of years ago, she said “Okay- this is our chance.”

    “The whole philosophy with Mahonia was that we wanted to beautify peoples’ home. We wanted to bring beauty into the home, whether that was with flowers or plants or accessories. When people walk in, they get super happy… They want to take that feeling with them.”

    If you’re anything like me and have a black thumb, rather than a green one, don’t worry- Bridget and her staff won’t just sell you something that will die in a week. Instead, the folks at Mahonia will spend time finding out what to send you home with. “We want you to be successful! That’s why we ask a ton of questions. We coach people on their plant selections based on their life and what they need. We want to know if you’re a super busy person. Can you water once a week, or is that too much for you? We will literally sit there and talk and talk and talk with you until we figure out what’s right for you.”

    What about that ever-popular fiddle leaf fig? Bridget calls it the “darling of the plant world” thanks to Pinterest and Instagram, and says it’s one of the most difficult things people take on. “A lot of people try to grow it without the right conditions, and they just will not tolerate anything less than what they want.” What are the right conditions? “They need bright light, for one, and they really don’t want neglect. They need regular watering, and they’re heavy feeders, so they need a well-balanced, all-purpose green plant food.”

    According to Bridget, 99% of people never feed their plants (I’m one of them). She enjoys the opportunity to teach her customers about plant care. Especially if you’re making an investment into a larger piece, you need to know how to care for it, and the staff at Mahonia will take all the time they need in order to educate you on your purchases.

    She loves her space in Nulu, and enjoys the relationships she formed with other local shop owners in the area. As we walked into Decca on Saturday I spotted a terrarium from her store sitting on the front counter. “Every single day someone comes in and says, ‘It’s our first time in! I love the store! We’ve never been here!’ This was such a hard neighborhood before and there are still people discovering it.”

    “If we can continue to offer awesome, beautiful things and make people feel like family when they walk in the door, then that’s what we’re all about. When we opened, we thought we would just be a store that sold a few flowers, and we are embracing the idea that we’ve become very passionate about our offerings, and the selection we carry is very unique. We try to continue to offer the most unique and most beautiful flowers that we can.”

    GIVEAWAY ALERT!! If you've never had the opportunity to stop in, now is your chance- I’m thrilled to be giving away a $75 gift card offered by Mahonia Studios! Beginning at 11am EST today, Monday, July 10th, 2017 until 5pm EST Friday, July 21st, any reader can enter to win by emailing me at yoursmostsincerely@hotmail.com. One entry per day only. The winner will be chosen at random, and notified via email on July 21st, with the gift card delivered via US Mail. Good Luck!

    ** this post was sponsored by Mahonia Studios.  all thoughts and opinions are my own **

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

  • Citrus in Honey Syrup

    I love sweets. LOVE sweets.  I grew up with a grandmother who believed in the healing power of ice cream.  For company, especially around the holidays, I remember the sight of a spice cake sitting on her dining room table.  I can still remember the smell that would fill her house when she had made a cooked caramel icing (a recipe that, 10 years after her passing, I still cannot locate).  My grandfather had an amazing way of making cinnamon toast in the mornings...  the closest I've come to that taste is the cinnamon brioche at Please and Thank You, where a hefty slathering of butter, sugar and cinnamon make your teeth scream but make your tummy so happy.

    Whether it was the influence of her mother's or not, my mom was diagnosed with gestational diabetes when she was 30.  Unfortunately for her, it was not a case that went away after baby, but rather stayed on, and ravaged her body with its associates- kidney disease and eventually failure, bleeding in the eyes, Alzheimers...  It was a sickness that ultimately led to her passing.

    When, several weeks ago, I felt that something in my body and was just off, I sat down with an expert and decided on a month long test of cutting out some of the major food bad guys.  For a month, I went without dairy of any kind, and cut out all refined sugars.  Honey was my savior. Luckily, it seems that allergies and pre-diabetes don't exist here, but I do seem to have a sensitivity to an overload of dairy and refined sugar.  Still, not going overboard after my diet restrictions were lifted was a little difficult, and when my body started fuctioning normally once again, the man and I decided that while whipped cream, a nice pecorino cheese, or a couple of lumps in my coffee weren't terrible on occasion, we needed to make some changes in our eating habits.  My insides- and my rounder-than-it-used-to-be tummy would thank me later.

    Still, I have urges to satisfy.  While I've been pretty proud at my replacing a milky, sugary latte with a plain double espresso, and only taking a bite of the shared dessert we order, I still have cravings for sweet. 

    Enter Citrus in Honey Syrup.

    Beautiful, tasty, and with zero white sugar, this dessert can be perfect on a plate alone, on a beautful flan (if you, like me, aren't watching your dairy intake), dropped into bourbon, or sliced up on a salad.  Simple to make, but with a definite wow factor, these little babies have helped me skip the Italian Creme Cake.

    Peel 8 citrus of your choice with a sharp knife, being sure to remove any pith.  I used navel orages, but blood oranges or grapefruit are just as beautiful, and just as tasty, if not more so.  

    Squeeze any leftover juice out of the peel and into a large saucepan along with the juice of a lemon, 2-3 cups of water, and a quarter cup of local honey, as well as a teaspoon of vanilla, if that's your thing.  

    Bring the mixture to a boil until it begins to thicken just a bit.  Remove from the heat and drop in the fruit.  

    Allow to cool in the pan, then remove fruit into a serving dish with a slotted spoon, and strain syrup over them to remove any lemon seeds or extra pulp. 

    ** I am not a healthcare expert. If you have questions about your diet, please consult a professional **