Archives

May, 2014

renovation diaries: finished master bathroom!

FINALLY!  an end result over here.  the kitchen got messy again five seconds after the cleaners left, so i’ll have to show you that next week when i get back from a quick beach trip.  but today, here is the final version of the master bathroom!  woo hoo!  all credit goes to margaret of margaret long designs – she drove the bus and did a damn good job doing it.

let’s start with the before again to refresh our memory!   here is the vanity – super low countertops (why??), bad lighting, wall-to-wall 80′s mirror, not terrible cabinets, but out of date faucets and tile floor.

photo-195another view of the vanity, looking into the closet, which had one big door that opened into it, covering up a good chunk of rbb’s clothes in the process.

photo-195 copy 2and here is the new vanity area!  the footprints and walls all stayed the same.

vanitythese countertops and cabinets are at standard height now!  works much better for the 6’2″ rbb.

bathroom cabinets…and looking toward the closet door(s) now – much more closet-y.  i’ll take you for a spin in there too; we redid that as well (it was a dump).

closet doorsi really love the bump out :)  you only need an inch or two.

cabinet bump outthe lighting was totally revamped – the only lights we had in this room were those two awful cans coming out of the soffit above the sinks!  we tore out the soffit, added two sconces and a ceiling lighting fixture – the lighting is much, much better.  i feel much more confident in my makeup application now :)

ceiling fixturethe countertops are caesarstone and so so durable.  we are loving them!  and the matte brass faucets with the cross handles….  be still my heart.

bathroom sinkyou know what’s great about working with a designer?  they suggest things that you don’t even know exist.  margaret thought that since it was such a small amount of exposed wall space, why don’t we do a marble base molding?  i think it finishes off the space perfectly.

base moldingalright, moving into the shower…  first, remember how it was just an open walkway?!  NO DOOR!  (ew)

photo-195 copyvoila…pocket door.  small things make the biggest difference.  i feel like this space is so much more functional now. (it extends all the way; i just propped it halfway for the photo)

pocket doorand the before of the sweet tub/shower combo…

photo-195 copy 3here is the after.

full shower

shower headwe also redid the lighting in here – before it was just a fan/light combo (again, ew).  we added a new fan, two cans and we still have a little natural light from the porthole window.

shower ceilingthe niche in the shower is one of my favorite parts.  i put all of my birchbox samples and small items on the top – i love trying new products.

nicheok, this one small item drives me crazy… i went to great lengths to make sure all of the finishes in the bathroom matched.  well, the one thing i handed off to rbb was the toilet.  i just told him to go wild on homedepot.com and just make sure to buy a kohler.  that is all.  well, he paid no attention to the handle and here we are with a nickel flusher.  i know i can buy i new one but i think it’s a bit of an ordeal…one of these days.

oh and the bench – we bought a remnant of marble from our countertop guy.  and the little toilet paper holder on the back of the potty, i found at goodwill!  LOTS of brass things to be found there. :)

potty and shower benchi just adore the warm pops of brass against the cool, grey marble.

shower fittingsthe basketweave tile on the floor and the niche makes me really happy too.  and there is so much detail work in a tile job – margaret told me probably half a dozen times, it doesn’t matter how expensive the tile you buy is, if you don’t get a good installer – it will not look good.  those guys are worth every cent!

basket weave shower floorhere are the sources:

floor and shower tile (carrera marble): via margaret long designs

sink faucets, shower fittings, drain cover: california faucets via european sink company

cabinets and mirror frame: custom design kitchens

mirror glass (he also hung it): brian diamond glass

shower door: drexler shower door co.

countertop, sinks and slab for shower bench: via margaret long designs

sconces and ceiling fixture: circa lighting

towel rack, toilet paper holder, cabinet hardware: masterpiece lighting

pocket door and new closet doors: renato schwenk home improvement – 404.312.1131

potty: kohler via home depot

 

and here are all of the diaries if you missed any along the way:

the before

getting started and demo

month 1

month 2

 

i think that’s it for the bathroom!  also, if you would like to work with margaret on a project, give her a call at 404.783.6000 (the number on the website is an old one – she’s working on her new site now!).  she’ll do you right!!!  and just wait ’til you see what she did in the kitchen…

xoxo

renovation diaries – month 2

greetings!!!

i know i have left you SO hanging on the renovation diaries.  i am truly sorry!  but, here is the installment of month 2 – and my housekeeper in coming on friday (let’s be honest, that’s the only time it’s ever photo worthy) so i will snap some pictures and do the big reveal next week!!!  now that i am feeling a bit better, i am ready for some blogging.

ok, we left off with faucets on order, kitchen floor laid, tile prep work nearly done in the bathroom.  it’s hard to believe that + demo took a full month, but it did!  the second month was HAPPENING though.  exciting stuff coming through the doors nearly every day!

at the tail end of month 1, i made a trip out to my cabinet maker’s showroom to pick out the finishes for the cabinets.  margaret had already picked the paint color (sherwin williams eider white) so that part was easy.  as for the cabinets themselves, they had SO MANY different styles to choose from, ranging from modern to super traditional.  they said that 70% of the cabinets they install were this style – shaker style with a bead around the edges.

IMG_5024what is so amazing about custom cabinets is that i said that i wasn’t really crazy about the beading…and they said, “ok, no problem – we’ll take it out!”  love that.  so they did and i love the nice, clean look of them in my kitchen!

and you remember that i like to make things difficult.  well, i couldn’t find any cabinet pulls and knobs that i LOVED at their showroom (i mean they only had like 400) so i ordered some from restoration hardware.  i found these ephram knobs in polished chrome for the cabinet doors:

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 4.21.10 PM

and the chatham pulls, also in polished chrome, for the drawers:

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 4.21.35 PMi went with  polished chrome because the kitchen faucet i found on ebay was polished chrome.  i sort of blew the faucet budget with my beautiful (but pricey) brass faucets and fittings in the bathroom so had to procure a deal on the kitchen faucet!  i really wanted a bridge style faucet but had to repeatedly tell myself that this will not be my last chance to get one.  and this one works fine and looks good :)  it’s an 8″ kingston brass model and i think i paid $200 for it on ebay.

41zKaAwQ5JLbut here’s a couple of bridge style faucets just so we all can drool…

51b0fc95f33675e363968ab7a6caa7ae

e84b00154cada01a32916bdc18f4124eanyhow.  back at the ranch, the shower tile was coming together.  and i loved seeing the tile guys’ good will hunting-ish calculations on the new drywall (we had to get brand new drywall because prior owners committed cardinal sin of painting over wallpaper and it would not come off!).

IMG_5040how cute is that niche?  margaret just explained to them what she wanted and they built it.  it was kind of amazing.  the bottom piece is a touch wider to allow for more storage.

IMG_5060

soon after, it was CABINET DAY!  this is when things really started taking shape and i began to have hope that we wouldn’t be living in a construction zone forever.  funny story about the bathroom cabinets: since all of this happened during a busy holiday card season and in a compressed time frame (8 weeks start to finish), there was just not all that much time to hem and haw over a lot of things.  so whenever i would ask margaret for a paint color or instructions on how to install something, i would just repeat exactly what she told me to the contractors (remember we had no GC so it was me dealing with all of the subs, which i loved and turned out to be a great decision).  so when the cabinets for the bathroom showed up, they were a beautiful dark grey – i had just told the cabinet guys what color to paint them and had no idea what color it was.  plus i trust margaret implicitly so i knew it would be gorge!  i loooove them and they add the perfect amount of contrast!!

IMG_5111

also, i was worried about those feet at the bottoms of the cabinets being too decorative or traditional or something, but i ended up LOVING THEM.  they are so pretty and add just a touch of flourish to the cabinets.  and i love love love the bumpout in the middle!  (remember that from the inspiration pics?)

IMG_5112oh, and those cabinet pulls and knobs had not arrived yet so my cabinet guys came back to install those at a later date.

and the kitchen (one side anyway – and that big hole on the right is for the microwave drawer, which was a fab suggestion from the cabinet guy):

IMG_5130

not long after all of this, it was COUNTERTOP DAY!  omg so exciting. you can tell this install guy is totally stoked too.

IMG_5131we bought sinks from the countertop people too; made for a seamless install.  i opted for an undermount stainless steel sink in the kitchen – just felt it was more timeless and practical than a white farmhouse sink.

IMG_5134

IMG_5135

oh, and our carpenters added an arch and enlarged the doorway leading to the kitchen.  i’ll do a before/after on the smaller jobs we did around the house like that.

IMG_5136YAY!!!  after this, there were small installs like the bathroom mirror, glass shower door, towel racks, painting, kitchen backsplash, appliance install but that is all BO-RING so i didn’t take any pictures.  plus i was exhausted from all of those holiday cards. here’s what i was up to behind the scenes:

tying hundreds of pieces of twine around cards…

IMG_5120holding late late night picture-affixing, ribbon-wrapping and envelope-lining sessions with carly and laine (total lifesavers, those two)…

IMG_5129and…  in case you want a good laugh.  so i saw my good friend from college, portia, at some point during the renovation and she said her house was a mess.  i told her she should come over, because our house would make her feel so much better about hers, as it was a total and complete disaster zone with &($* everywhere.  she did not believe me (i don’t know why; she’s lived with me before) and told me to send her a photo when i got home.  so i did.  displaced furniture, layer of construction dust, faucets and lighting waiting for their turn, holiday card surplus, our kitchen table and chairs in the dining room (alongside dining room table/chairs = you could barely move) and don’t forget the fridge crammed in there too.  this should make anyone feel better about the state of their home – we lived like this for two long months!!  #omg

IMG_5115that picture reminds me of an episode of hoarders…i’m going to go clean out a closet or something.

back next week with the final result!!! thanks for being so patient and i promise never to do a series of anything again. :)

xoxo

err in the direction of kindness

greetings, folks!  i’ve been taking an obvious blog sabbatical.  because of THIS:

photo-197

can you even believe that bump is only fourteen weeks old in this picture??? y’all – the 3rd baby is not messing around. i have been showing since i peed on the stick and basically in maternity clothes since then too.  i tried to do the whole rubber-band-around-the-button-thing and then decided not to be a hero, and promptly started wearing full-fledged maternity pants.  much better.  anyway, we are all elated / scared / excited / scared.  and i apologize for going MIA, but i have been feeling just awful.  anytime that 2nd trimester golden age wants to kick in, i am ready!!!!

this past weekend, a gaggle of girlfriends and i celebrated the wedding of our very good friend, dorothy, on daufuskie island, SC!  it was a blast and SO beautiful.  full blog post to come, as i did many of the paper items.  here is a quick picture of us on the way to the rehearsal dinner. (l-r: amy, dorothy aka THE BRIDE, betsey, me and jen)

photo-197p.s. i love that green dress – i bought it from a v. stylish neighbor & friend who had used it as a maternity dress of sorts too.  it’s a generously cut DVF!  love that diane.

we all arrived on daufuskie on thursday; betsey and i driving together from atlanta and catching the 6:30 ferry from hilton head.  i pictured us completely wind-blown and maybe a little damp from the surf during the ferry ride, but turns out ferries have come a long way – we sat in an air-conditioned room with cushioned seats!  who knew.  we were shown to our golf cart and started on our trek to our house, a simple 20 minute golf cart ride away…  except for a plethora of roundabouts, forks, windy roads, is that a median or do we veer left?  that kind of thing.  this sweet, sweet old man saw that we were lost and asked where we were headed – we told him our address and he said, “ah – i’m going that direction.  follow me – where i turn right, you turn left!”  so we did.  and we got to the point where he was supposed to turn right, and he said “you know – it’s kind of tricky back there.  i’ll just take you all the way.”  how kind of him to take time out of his night to show two gals on their way.  i think he is a perfect example of george saunders’ commencement address — have you read this??  you must.  it is so good.  i want to “err in the direction of kindness.”  and watch out for monkey poop.  rush has recently made the proclamation that when we reach the age of 100, we will all shrink back into babies.  maybe he’s not all wrong; babies are generally pretty loving and kind.  here it is:

——————————–

George Saunders convocation speech, Syracuse University, 2013.

Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).

And I intend to respect that tradition.

Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?” And they’ll tell you. Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked. Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.

So: What do I regret? Being poor from time to time? Not really. Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?” (And don’t even ASK what that entails.) No. I don’t regret that. Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked? And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months? Not so much. Do I regret the occasional humiliation? Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl? No. I don’t even regret that.

But here’s something I do regret:

In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class. In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be “ELLEN.” ELLEN was small, shy. She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore. When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.

So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” — that sort of thing). I could see this hurt her. I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear. After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth. At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.” And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”

Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.

And then — they moved. That was it. No tragedy, no big final hazing.

One day she was there, next day she wasn’t.

End of story.

Now, why do I regret that? Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it? Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her. I never said an unkind word to her. In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.

But still. It bothers me.

So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

Now, the million-dollar question: What’s our problem? Why aren’t we kinder?

Here’s what I think:

Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions that are probably somehow Darwinian. These are: (1) we’re central to the universe (that is, our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story, really); (2) we’re separate from the universe (there’s US and then, out there, all that other junk – dogs and swing-sets, and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people), and (3) we’re permanent (death is real, o.k., sure – for you, but not for me).

Now, we don’t really believe these things – intellectually we know better – but we believe them viscerally, and live by them, and they cause us to prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what’s actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving.

So, the second million-dollar question: How might we DO this? How might we become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional, etc., etc?

Well, yes, good question.

Unfortunately, I only have three minutes left.

So let me just say this. There are ways. You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter. Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend; establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition — recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.

Because kindness, it turns out, is hard — it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include . . . well, everything.

One thing in our favor: some of this “becoming kinder” happens naturally, with age. It might be a simple matter of attrition: as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish — how illogical, really. We come to love other people and are thereby counter-instructed in our own centrality. We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defense, and help us, and we learn that we’re not separate, and don’t want to be. We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now). Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving. I think this is true. The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”

And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE. If you have kids, that will be a huge moment in your process of self-diminishment. You really won’t care what happens to YOU, as long as they benefit. That’s one reason your parents are so proud and happy today. One of their fondest dreams has come true: you have accomplished something difficult and tangible that has enlarged you as a person and will make your life better, from here on in, forever.

Congratulations, by the way.

When young, we’re anxious — understandably — to find out if we’ve got what it takes. Can we succeed? Can we build a viable life for ourselves? But you — in particular you, of this generation — may have noticed a certain cyclical quality to ambition. You do well in high-school, in hopes of getting into a good college, so you can do well in the good college, in the hopes of getting a good job, so you can do well in the good job so you can . . .

And this is actually O.K. If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously — as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers. We have to do that, to be our best selves.

Still, accomplishment is unreliable. “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.

So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.

Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been. I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.

Congratulations, Class of 2013.

I wish you great happiness, all the luck in the world, and a beautiful summer.

—————————–

hoping to not be as much of a stranger; i’ve missed y’all!

xoxo