the house

before and after: pantry

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greetings friends!

no, i’m not here with the finished kitchen renovation yet…but i promise it is coming soon.  y’all, it gets dirty like 5 seconds after our cleaning lady comes and i just don’t know what to do about that.  she comes again this week so maybe i can rope it off from the curtain crawlers and snap some quick pics!  in the meantime though, here is our pantry.  ok, first of all – i feel lucky to even have a legit pantry.  sure, it’s not humongous and it’s not even in our kitchen….  but in old homes, they are rare.  a lot of my friends have to use precious cabinet space to store all of their pantry items!  also, i feel like there is a story about this pantry that i don’t know – it looks like it has original hardwoods, an original door (one of those heavy, solid woods ones) and a crystal knob like we have on some doors that are original to the house.  but there’s a deadbolt on it that you can latch from the inside…  so unless a prior owner had major food issues, i just can’t figure out how or why this door would have at one time led to the outside or need to have been locked from the inside.  hmm.  i love the way old houses are peculiar!

one thing i DON’T love though…  is a leaning tower of groceries and a hideous adjacent, very visible pipe.

pantry BEFOREbtw i never remember to take photos until things are cleaned out and being demo’d in 10 minutes.

you can see the original hardwoods,  base molding, original door/knob and random deadbolt in that picture. and who the heck knows what that pipe’s usage is – our plumber said it was OK to cover it up because it was probably one that was replaced at some point.

we also used this elfa over the door shelving unit from the container store…  we had it in the condo and it fit perfectly here.  it was great for chips, trail mix, bars, on the go stuff.

IMG_5327we had our carpenters take out the shelving…

pantry demo'd…and sheetrock over the pipe to create a new flush wall.

IMG_5355then it was ready for its new, efficient unit to be installed!  we used creative closets, a local atlanta company, and kim kelly was our consultant.  LOVE HER!  she covered every last detail and really assessed what kind of storage we would need.  they did our pantry and master closet at the same time, and i was so impressed with their sketches, well thought-out plans and execution.  and their installer only took a day to install both closet systems!  here is the final result of the pantry makeover…

IMG_5506i love love love it.  we have room for ALL of our pantry items in there now; everything that was in the over-the-door system and on the leaning tower!  plus, in the vertical shelving on the top left, i had room to store my entire collection of michael aram serving dishes (“molten” and i adore them still, nearly 6 years later), which cleared out a lot of room in my entertaining closet.  also, i should mention that my install occurred on the day of SNOWJAM in atlanta (bless my installer’s heart – i hope he made it home before sunrise!) so my pantry was pretty bare.  i’d rather eat year old canned soup than trek to the grocery store the day of a snow scare in the south :)

now i have separate shelves for: {top to bottom on the right} sweet baking items (chocolate chips, cocoa powder, cookie cutters), cereals/granola (what is typically in those clean plastic bins with the blue clasps), baking ingredients (sugar, flour, etc. in glass jars from target), grains (couscous, pasta, rice), pantry strongholds (chicken broth, canned tomatoes {in paper containers of course!} and let’s be real – annie’s mac & cheese boxes), nuts & dried fruit, bags of chips and at the very bottom, random stuff like lunch boxes and plastic containers for bringing people food.  the left side is more backstock – extra mustard, canned veggies, teabags, nut butters, snacks for the kids, juice boxes. at the very top above the shelving unit (not shown), we store all of our smushable coolers.

IMG_5507yay for being organized!  still to come: before & afters on our hallway bath, living room, master closet and KITCHEN (swear!).  plus we are working on updating rinne’s room from a nursery to a real big girl room.  well, a big girl room with a crib for a baby in it too :)  the poor dear 3rd child…  i think if it’s a boy i’ll spring for a blue crib sheet and call it a day.


renovation diaries: finished master bathroom!

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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 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…


renovation diaries – month 2

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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…


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.


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!!


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):


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.



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. :)


the renovation diaries – month 1

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alrighty…we left off post-demo with the asbestos scare (that was nothing but a scare, thankfully).  so next, the tile guys come in and prep the kitchen floor as well as the bathroom floor.  let me say – prep takes FOREVER.  we were probably 2+ weeks deep into this thing and hadn’t seen one shard of tile laid…but lots of prep is GOOD.  these tile guys were so so so thorough!  they are margaret’s primary tile layers and are wonderful.  in fact, it was their schedule we worked ours around, and man, they were worth it.  a day or two in i got that call into the kitchen…  you know, the one that goes “hey callie?  can you come in here for a sec?”  in a hesitant voice.  oh sh*%.  i had just gotten one of those from the demo guy and was dreading what i would find. it was THIS.

photo-196 copy 12in having to remove the original 1940’s hardwoods (sounds like a travesty but trust me – they were covered in asbestos laden black tar – had to go), our subfloor was exposed.  and what’s funny is there was always this slight slope in our kitchen floor and we couldn’t figure out why.  we just assumed it had to do with that concrete slab that was later added onto the kitchen, but weren’t sure.  well, lo and behold, there was some pretty serious termite damage hidden underneath the sub flooring that was never taken care of when it occurred.  i kind of felt like i was on an episode of property brothers…  like: here’s your problem.  it will take an additional $X to correct said problem and loss of X number of days.  luckily it only slowed us down about a half-day and lumber isn’t that expensive.  it also led us to have the rest of the house inspected for termite damage, which there was none.  phew!  but i did manage to get a hard sell on termite insurance.

in no time at all, it was repaired and back in action.

photo-196 copy 11

while all of this was going on at the house, i still had lots of stuff to pick out.  like FAUCETS!  i learned that i have a slight obsession with beautiful faucets.  i went to home depot to look early on and was revolted by everything i saw there.  it was all just so usual and none of it beautiful.  it all just screamed “builder grade” to me.  i tend to like pretty, special things and i ALSO like to make things difficult.  perfect example: plumber and tile guys say that they need the drain to install by thursday.  ok.  how hard is it to find a drain?  so monday i set off to buy a couple of faucets and shower drain / head.  place #1 pretty much turned me away, saying that they only thing they could get would be at LEAST two weeks out but maybe four to six.  um, that is just not going to work seeing as how the plumber is coming in three days.  so instead, i went to the european sink company and had a much different experience.  my sales guy alan picked up the phone when i called them in a tizzy, freaking out about how the HECK am i going to find a drain for thursday so i don’t mess up all of these workers’ schedules.  i explained to him my dilemma.  he said, “oh no no, we have drains here that you can take home?!” in a what’s the big deal voice.  i immediately LOVE HIM.  oh, i should mention that i also have both kids with me, since i ran out of time going to the mean faucet  store when they were both in school.  he was SO accommodating and let me browse, let the kids absolutely terrorize his beautiful store, and was just so helpful all the way around.  and i DID walk out with a drain.

i ended up getting the bathroom faucets and shower head / drain from the california faucets line that they carry at the store.  oh – did i mention i was doing brass?  this was my inspiration – these are beautiful but from great britain (company: barber wilson) and realllllly would have messed up my schedule and not to mention budget…

photo-1so at first i thought i wanted some pretty goosenecks with cross handles…but then i opted for a more simple option.  i ended up with two of these exact sink faucets:

photo-196 copy 8in the “satin gold” finish (look at all of the beautiful brasses they had to choose from! BRASS IS BACK Y’ALL.):

photo-196 copy 7

oh, and circa lighting!  margaret and i had a ball there picking out fixtures for the bathroom.  (she is pretty famous in there, too.)  with her guidance, we chose some lighting that i am absolutely obsessed with!  this flush mount in the “hand-rubbed antique brass” finish for the vanity ceiling:

photo-196 copy 3actually, here it is in the finish.

m_AH4200HAB-FG.jpgand then sconces for either side of the vanity (smaller version in the brass finish):

IMG_5014so many light fixtures, so few rooms…

IMG_5015the folks at circa lighting were kind enough to give me a finish sample  – people, i toted this little thing around *everywhere* to match things to for the bathroom.  holy smokes!  i never realized how many things in there, from all separate manufacturers, needed to match.  we’re talking faucets of course, but then you have cabinet hardware, towel rack, paper towel holder, doorknob, pocket door handle, toilet flusher, shower door handle and wall attachments.  geez louise!  it ended up being sort of a finicky finish to match (see above: like to make things difficult) but i think the end result is fantastic so all is forgotten.  but here’s what i did all over town:

IMG_5031by the way, WHO made so many shower door handle options?!  i think this industry has gotten a little overzealous.


IMG_5107(drexler shower door co. is the best in town and the drexlers are old family friends of the brunettes!  joe is the man.)

we also finalized the countertops – 3cm honed carrera for the kitchen (middle block) and 3cm caesarstone in “blizzard” for the bathroom (right block, but a little thicker).  i found countertops to be a bit like paper – the thicker the better.

photo-196 copy 2meanwhile, back at the ranch – we have a floor going down in the kitchen!  i think i may have mentioned we were doing checkerboard (of some variation – leaning towards grey/white) tile in the kitchen.  that’s what margaret and i both thought as we walked into the tile store.  we needed the tile and we needed it then, so we were limited to options that were in the store’s warehouse.  grey/white – nada.  on to plan b!  i love love love what we ended up with.  a very light taupe/warm grey (looks almost white in sunlight) laid diagonal with medium grey grout.  LOVE how it turned out!  also, if you hem and haw over decisions…just take on a project with a very compressed timeline.  it will make things oh so much easier :)

IMG_5019it took them 2 or 3 days to lay the tile in the kitchen.  it was the first thing we fully finished and we were stoked!


simultaneously, they were still prepping the bathroom.  i see a bench!

IMG_5020and then the tile started to go in… i would go and check out their progress every day after they left, and one day did not realize that i was stepping into a freshly laid slap of cement they were using to even out the floor.  i needed to replace those gold flats anyway. :)  the next day, here is what i found…

IMG_5059they were awesome.  always looking out for me!

phew…that was all of month 1 / november 2013.  while all of this was going on, i was buried in a sea of holiday cards and working some super dodgy hours.  it was really nice to phone in my thanksgiving meal duties due to lack of a kitchen!  (thanks little tart bakeshop)


IMG_5079we also were entrusted with the care of rush’s class mascot, cubbie.  so what do we do?  take him to jalisco’s, of course.

IMG_5032alright, i’ll be back with month 2 of the renovation diaries and then the big reveal!  also, some reno life savers if you’re planning one.  ttfn!


p.s. after my Facebook page giveaway of these new “Enjoy!” tags, i’m offering FREE personalization for orders placed this week (last day to claim offer: 3/15)!  just put the names you would like in the “notes to seller” box upon checkout. yea!!


renovation diaries: getting started and demo

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SO!  let’s get down to business with this renovation stuff so i can show you the final result, which we are living in now and LOVING.  (refresher: the BEFORE)

before i get started, you need to meet margaret.  here she is at a recent charity event we attended together.

margaret & i margaret and her husband jason are two of our very favorite people – and how lucky are we to live a mere five houses down from them?!  i met margaret years ago as one of jen’s roommates (and interior design classmates at georgia), and then became neighbors almost three years ago.  let me tell you, it is SO FUN living down the street from a good friend!  we always carpool to girl’s dinners and a quick pow-wow is oh so easy.  love it!

you may remember i blogged about her and her interior design company a while ago here…and commissioned her to help me with the kitchen and master bath renovations.  OMG she is the real deal.  i was SO impressed with her professionalism, relationships she has built with vendors and laborers, and all around great taste.  i had a loose idea of what i wanted (white kitchen, marble with pops of brass in the bathroom) and could point to things i liked, but had NO IDEA how to go about finding said things (and in my budget), finding people to then do the work, and just pulling it all together in a workable timeline.  enter margaret long designs, who solved all of these problems!

here are images that i used as inspiration…

i loved the bump out on the vanity cabinets:

marble and brass together = lovely:


a white kitchen:

72aa12e979f50ab532b4e1a580718a63white kitchen take 2:

185773553349897945_f5KCde21_cwhite kitchen take 3:

090113_hf_private01075to get started, i enlisted some of the vendors that were referred by margaret, and some that were referred by friends.  (of note: a good lot of the vendors were margaret’s contacts that she uses exclusively for her clients, so i will not be sharing them here.  i am happy to share the others, though!)

first up was cabinet guys.  my friend lindsay had recently completed a renovation (which was featured in JEZEBEL magazine here, and done by blake shaw homes) and i had always loved her kitchen.  it is so pretty…

lindsays kitchen 2i knew she had done inset cabinets (as opposed to overlay) and loved her cabinet people, and asked if she would refer them to me.  i am so glad she did – they were absolutely wonderful to work with.  andy perkins with custom kitchen design is the man.  everything they do is custom, so you’re not getting pre-fab cabinets at all, and you can customize every inch of them.  i can’t wait to show you what they were able to do!  we started with a consultation at my house while the old kitchen was still intact, and went over what i envisioned in the final space…and there was a lot of measuring.

next, countertop peeps…never knew a slab yard could be so fun!!

photo-196 copythen, there were electrician visits, plumber visits, tile layer visits, tile samples, a frantic search for faucets (will expound next post) and look-sees at lighting and hardware.  oh did i mention i acted as the general contractor?  yes, ME.  i used to work for a construction company doing marketing and would always get in trouble for wearing heels on jobsites.  (i mean, who would wear tennis shoes with a skirt suit?  ever?)  in actuality, it really made a lot of sense – i was the one that would be home all day and could “direct traffic” so to speak, and get in touch with the subs if we needed something, or to tell them it was their turn.  turns out there is a LOT of in and out in home remodeling; i felt like sometimes i just acted as a butler opening the door all day.

but i’m getting ahead of myself.

margaret only works with one tile layer; she has found him to be the best in town…and he could squeeze in our job in mid-november between two other jobs.  he told us this in late october when we contacted him, so that meant we needed to MOVE.  i was literally calling people and saying, “yeah….so i heard you do demo?  can you by chance demo my kitchen and master bath…this monday?”  we miraculously found someone to do it that was recommended by a neighbor.  and just like that, we were on – ready or not.

****  best advice margaret gave me:  she said THINGS WILL GO WRONG.  of course she did not know what, but something during a renovation of an old house ALWAYS GOES WRONG.  while scary, this was great to know going in – i was expecting bad news.  it can’t all be good news all the time.  ****

demo begins without incident on november 5th.  it is to take 3 days total.  i delight at the old wallpaper (complete with bad-a border) found behind the cabinets in the kitchen:

photo-196 copy 4

i chuckle at what a heap of junk our kitchen looks like broken down:

photo-196 copy 5i think “how charming!” when original black and white tile is uncovered beneath two layers of linoleum and one layer of plywood:

photo-196 copy 6…and then on day 2 the demo guys proceed to pull up the original black and white tile…which is from the 1940s…which is 9″ x 9″…folks, that all equals ASBESTOS, i now know.  eek!  let me also add that 1) the kitchen was not taped off by plastic (i asked but was told that taking out kitchen cabinets and vinyl flooring doesn’t create all that much dust),  2) we were living through this renovation…like 3 feet down from the kitchen entryway and 3) the guys on the demo crew actually doing the work were all new, bless their hearts.  so all of a sudden, asbestos-laden dust has been spread all around our house and my kids who live there are breathing the air.  before i could even begin to freak myself out reading what all there is to know about asbestos exposure on the internets and how my kids will be stunted in growth and development forever, i had some sense talked into me by several calm and reasonable people who all told me that it’s definitely not ideal, but as far as asbestos exposure goes, this is a best case scenario.  our demo guy (the head of the company) felt TERRIBLE and had his cleaning crew come over with a HEPA vacuum and go over every single surface in our home…and the sweet ladies told me they took an extra long time in the babies’ rooms to be sure they got every little particle (which made me cry).  he also had his environmental crew come in in those space suit-looking things and take up the original hardwoods that were underneath the tile, covered in the black tar that contains asbestos at no extra charge (margaret said this is generally very expensive).  he also paid for an air test to be done, which came back 100% negative for asbestos particles – yahoo!  so everything was fine in the end, but a tad stressful for a few days there.

see why i am so glad margaret told me not to expect all good news?

here is the kitchen after stripping it down to its skivvies (the subfloor).

photo-196 copy 11…and the bathroom too!  this is the side with the vanity and sinks.

photo-196 copy 9and the tub/shower/toilet.  (sorry so dark, i must have taken these at night!)

photo-196 copy 10more bad news to come, but i’ll save that for next time :)


kitchen and master bath renovation diaries: THE BEFORE

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so… we have a little dust being kicked up around these parts.  before you think i’ve absolutely gone off the deep end for scheduling a home in upheaval during the busiest part of a stationer’s year, i’ll tell you that you’re right – but it’s also kind of perfect, too.  i don’t have time to cook anyway, so it’s not like my kitchen is getting any kind of workout in oct/nov/dec.  plus, i’m here all day working so it makes it easy to let workmen in and answer questions they have along the way.  during holiday card season, i honestly don’t have time / am too exhausted to pick up the house and make it look presentable, so some cardboard taped down on the floor along with some construction dust is nothing.  if you want to feel better about the state of your house, come on over!

today, i’m here to show you the BEFORE state, and there’s nowhere to start but at the beginning…

flash back to january 2011.  we had been living in my 1 and 1/2 bedroom condo (i say 1/2 because sweet rush’s nursery was in a sunroom…with lots of blackout curtains).  we had been casually house hunting and put a few offers in, but nothing had worked out.  we found out we were expecting another baby and thus, had to move IMMEDIATELY if not sooner.  we scheduled a full saturday and sunday of intense house searches with our agent the following weekend, and were determined to make something work.  i should also preface this with the fact that rbb and i are what you would call finicky homebuyers.  we don’t want something that is turnkey…where’s the fun in that?  we wanted to be able to put our own mark on something, and get a little renovation experience under our belts.  but not TOO much – we couldn’t handle a full gut job or anything – and remember we had a baby on the way so the whole thing was time sensitive.   we needed to find something that was just right.  not too nice, not too dumpy.   something that we could live in without having to renovate right off the bat, but that also needed a little love.  this lead to us looking at a bevy of total POSes.  houses that had been sooo badly and cheaply renovated, estate properties that hadn’t been tended to properly in at least a couple of decades, and foreclosures that had everything down to the faucets ripped out.

our agent set up a dozen or so homes that we had chosen, all across town in different neighborhoods and school districts, and the house that we ended up buying was the very first that we looked at that weekend.  we were in love from the first minute we walked in.  it weirdly felt like our house.  it had the charm of an old house, somewhat updated bathrooms and kitchen (meaning: they only minorly sucked, and we could live as is for awhile), was on a fabulous street and was in our preferred school district.  and being a foreclosure and not having been lived in for a good 9-10 months, it definitely needed some love in more areas than one.  after a little bit of craziness that comes with buying a foreclosure, we closed at the end of march 2011 and promptly moved right in.

and here we are…two and 1/2 years later.  we’ve put countless coats of paint (we….i mean rbb of course) throughout the interior, hung curtains, replaced carpet, etc., etc.  but the master bath and kitchen remained largely untouched, because we were waiting to overhaul them.  here is where we started – i’ll begin with the master bath.

also – remember how i said we had been looking primarily at dumps?  let me tell you, we both walked into this master bath and closet (which i’ll show you another time – she’s getting a little makeover too!) and FREAKED.  we were both all, DOUBLE VANITIES!!!  SEPARATE WATER CLOSET!!  LOOK HOW BIIIIIIG!!!!!  (the three of us had been sharing a 50 SF bathroom at the condo.)

in short – it’s totally 80s.  we’re rocking crystal knobs, one of those frameless mirrors, crappy lighting, low low low countertops and for good measure, wallpaper covered with blue latex paint.  awesome.

here’s rbb’s side…

(i took these hours before the demo so everything was already moved out)


and my side, looking into the closet…

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standing outside the closet looking into the water closet/shower (door on the left goes to bedroom)…

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and looking into the water closet/shower.  you can see some side effects of that fabulous paint-over-wallpaper situation going on in the corner.

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one of my biggest bones to pick with this bathroom – NO DOOR TO THE WATER CLOSET.  just wide open right there.  SO no bueno.   we are totes remedying that with a pocket door.

so now the kitchen.  when we first moved in, the kitchen was this horrible, horrible red.  like a blood red.  i know i say all the time i love color, but i am just not much of a red person beyond lipstick and pants.  that’s about all i’ll ever have that’s red.

(styled by previous owner – and check out that sweet blue ceiling)

hr1988199-8see?  not terrible, just not the best kitchen you’ve ever seen – but works fine.

about eight months ago, we did phase 1 of the kitchen renovation.  it entailed:

– new paint (duh) – a light, light aqua on the walls and white on the ceiling.  p.s. i have a major crush on the painter.

photo-195 copy 5

– new windows – three of the four big glass panes at the end of the kitchen were perma-fogged.  we replaced them and all of a sudden had a bright and sunny kitchen!  (all before pictures)

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– new window treatments – the wooden blinds were dingy and, well, boring.  the nail in the coffin was the crazy long cords that were choking hazards waiting to happen.  kate with just kate suited us up with some white roman shades trimmed in an aqua lee jofa trim.  (those are staying so you’ll see more of them.)

– new linoleum – looking back, we shouldn’t have bothered…but the old stuff was peeling up and secured by DUCT TAPE in some places.  duct tape, people.

– a little drywall work on the wall by the entry so the left fridge door would open.

that put us here…

kitchen BEFORE

kitchen BEFORE 1

kitchen BEFORE 2

this kitchen is kind of like a monet (clueless – still such a great movie).  from far away it looks alright, but if you get up close, you see the cheap flooring, peeling up laminate countertops, cabinets that are past their prime, old old sink and unfunctional uses of (little) space.

i loved this little cookbook nook right when i saw it.  sadly, we are changing it out for extra cabinet space…  and who am i kidding, i never kept it tidy enough to look good anyway (see middle shelf with burgeoning coupons, notepads and clipped recipes).

kitchen BEFORE nook

file under “what in tarnation…”  who would put a microwave over a fridge?!  i could never see what was in it, even standing on my tippy toes.

kitchen BEFORE microwave

we were happy with this kitchen, but also knew that we would need to fix it up to sell it – which we aren’t planning to do anytime soon, but we still want to be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor before we move on.  so we decided to just go for it – eek!!

so now comes phase II for the kitchen and phase “out with the old, in with the new” for the master bath, in which every little thing that you see in the photos above, and then some, was pulled out.  stay tuned for WEEK 1 of the renovation diaries!!


october things wrap-up

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can i still say happy halloween?  we had a great time hanging out with princess jasmine and an astronaut on 10/31.



they got lots of mileage out of their costumes with wearing them at school, a children’s museum party, a party my in-laws took them to, and a spooky playdate.  i thank heavens i have cute friends who do things like spooky playdates, because i sure as heck ain’t going to.

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adorable, right?  she even had a craft for the kids to do!  i feel like i’m doing really good if i find a pair of matching socks.  it was precious and the kids just loved it!

one of my super cute clients asked me to whip up some fall-themed “cheers!” tags that she could tie to pumpkins to deliver to friends.  first of all – what a fabulous and creative idea for a gift!  who wouldn’t love a pretty pumpkin for their doorstep in october?!  just love how the whole package looked – perfectly festive!

sally pumpkins

cheers pumpking

this is not really october-y, but happened in october…  rbb and i casually mentioned getting a new faucet for our hall bathroom.  the one that was in there was just kind of cheap and started acting like it.  i happened to be at home depot and passed a clearance end cap with a bunch of stuff…and i can never pass a clearance rack of any sort and not have my eyeballs zero in on it.  i saw a pretty martha stewart faucet with no price tag.

photo-195 copy 3

there was only one of this kind, but the others around it were all marked down in the neighborhood of $60-$80.  i took it up to the cash register to get them to price check it…they scanned it and it rang up for $0.01.  well, obviously that can’t be right.  the cashier called a manager over to look at it – the manager looked at me and said, “i’m sorry ma’am, we are required to sell you this item at what it rang up for.”  i’m sorry?!  lady, you just made my DAY!  lest the universe think you’re ahead in life for more than 5 minutes, rush spilled iced coffee all over my keyboard the next day.  so i thought the universe and i were even, and went on my merry way after a quick visit to the apple store.

a few days later, rbb set forth to install the new faucet (those tech guys – they’re handy ones) and after toiling over it all day, he found that the pedestal sink had cracked and thought it might topple over at any minute.  cue to immediate ordering of a new pedestal sink from home depot.  universe, you got me on this one.  we had a plumber come over to install the new sink with the faucet and i just had to laugh when he asked if it was supposed to look like this.

photo-195 copy 4

um….no.  that would be a basin and a pedestal from two totally different sinks.  most expensive, annoying penny faucet EVER.

lots has happened since around these parts, but i will have to save that for a post next week.  think: demo crews, studs and all kinds of workmen traipsing around.  back with more when i crawl out from under the construction dust and holiday cards!!


tuesday tidbits

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greetings!  i feel like it’s been awhile…lots to catch up on!  i suppose the biggest news in this house if you ask the littlest member, is that rinne is two.  (“I TWO!”  never get tired of hearing that.)  we commemorated the occasion with cupcakes, just the four of us.  we had never done that and it was really nice to do such a simple celebration.

rinne is twoi also had to whip up some big girl notecards for her to write some thank yous to sweet friends…in love with the hearts!

little girl stationery

they are here in the etsy shop if you love the hearts too.

ok, so we are about to paint our house.  the current state is sort of a warm grey with black shutters and door, which is all fine and good.  but not me.  if you know anything about me, you know i ADORE color. bold colors.  it needs to be punched up.  not in the way of a purple door or lime green shutters, but just a little more pizzazz.  (btw, this was a real estate photo taken circa 2007 when the prior owners bought the house – not present day.  I WISH we had grass like that.)

hr1514423-1i don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but we have shingles…and painting shingles are tough.  white looks kind of odd on shingles, and grey is the next best light color to do.  but the right grey – that’s tough. and then you still need trim, shutters and door colors!  i had started looking for other shingled houses with paint colors i liked and was coming up empty, until i got out of my car at an estate sale one saturday morning (fave thing to do any day of the week!).  i glanced at the house i parked in front of and just fell in love.  such perfect paint colors, and what an adorable home!  i snapped a pic and showed it to rbb – he liked it too.  so then i threw up this photo on instagram

photo-195 copy

…and asked on a scale of 1-10, what is the creeper level of leaving a note in a mailbox complimenting the home and asking for paint colors?  i got responses all across the board ranging from “slightly creeper…” to “oh i’ve done that and they were super nice and helpful, do it!”  so i was planning to drop a nice note in the mailbox the next morning, when one of my friends commented that she knows the wife of the couple who lives in the home, do i want her to put us in touch?  um, SO much better and eons lower on the creeper level than a note from a stranger!  within 30 minutes we were facebook messaging and she had already emailed the prior owner of the house for the paint colors.  she is a DOLL, and i had all of the paint colors in my inbox in the matter of a couple of days.  it was amazing.  isn’t life so funny?  even in this great big city we live in, we’re all connected somehow.  i love that.

oh, and NBD, but the house has been in southern living not once, but THREE TIMES.  (of course i used this as leverage with rbb saying that i clearly have excellent, extraordinary even, taste and should win any future design-oriented arguments.)


by the way, i am breaking up with pinterest.  i have come to grips with the fact that i am just not a DIYer  – i really love paying people to do things that they know how to do.  and since i can’t make anything with food dye in it (rinne = allergic), that cancels out like 95% of the cute food items i see there.  and honestly – i just do not have a desire to keep up with all types of social media.  i’m keeping the blog, facebook, and instagram.  that’s it!  no twitter, pinterest, vine, foursquare, whatever the next thing is.  who’s got the time?

but – my blog sometimes has traffic coming in from pinterest, so if a few people have clicked on a photograph, i’ll go and see what it was out of curiosity.  99 times out of 100, it’s this pin:

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 12.08.51 PM

ok, look past the spelling error – but there was absolutely nothing DIY about that balloon arch at rinne and billie’s 1st birthday party, and i can’t think of how disappointed people must be when they come to the blog expecting to see a DIY for an ENORMOUS balloon arch!  no, no, there are balloon professionals for that.  call them.

i will leave you with rush’s new “al pacino snoozing” impression…he’s getting pretty good.



dining room – before & after

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wow.  i have lived in our house for a year and a half and am just now doing my first complete room reveal.  um….i don’t know what to say about that.  except that hopefully we’ll be knocking ’em out more quickly from here on out!

ok, here is where we started…  (shown with prior owner’s furniture)

red toile wallpaper, boring chandelier and lackluster sconces – but good details with plantation shutters, chair rail molding and gleaming wood floors.  oh, and the most charming arched entryway that i fell in love with the second i saw it.  but the red toile had to go.  immediately if not sooner.

we hired a wonderful guy to strip the red toile away (do not try this at home, folks…sounds easy but it’s not), and then had a quite sterile dining room for a while with all white walls.

but we did have my chandelier brought over from the condo to liven it up a bit.  i think i’m going to need to be buried with this.  i can never part with it.  it was an antiques & beyond find that i have been so happy with – i mean, it’s award winning you know.  (this was ages ago, but it was chosen by erin gates at elements of style as a top 5 “best bargain”)

this was taken the day the new wallpaper was hung.  it was pretty messy in there.

the wallpaper was a little bit of a labor of love.  jen and i searched high and low for just the right mix of colors, whimsy and pomp.  you know – elegant without being stuffy.  bold and fun without being over the top crazy.  different and unique without being weird.  bright colors but overall, not too bright.  (btw, don’t ever take me on as an interior design client.)  i stumbled onto the makelike site somehow – i think maybe from the design*sponge blog? – and fell in love with their “lush” pattern.  it was shown in kind of a hipster styled room, but i knew it fit all of my many requirements and would look great in a more classic setting too.

it was sort of slated to break my bank…but then as i was randomly clicking on the flash sales at one kings lane….there was my wallpaper, 40% off.  score!  so that was that – the hard part was finding a wallpaper installer that did not think they were worth a king’s ransom.  i ended up finding a good one if you are in need – email me and i’ll send you her contact info.

anyway.  this is too much chatter, when i’m sure all you want to do is see the damn room already.  alright, here it is!  sources listed at the end.

i love ranunculus.  or is it ranunculi?  i did take latin in high school y’all.  i should probably know.

wallpaper: makelike.
table & chairs: on loan from my in-laws, but i know they got the table at the gables in miami circle.  the chairs happened to be upholstered in a simple cream pattern, so they worked perfectly.
side table: a garage sale in my now-neighborhood, years before i lived here.
ceramic bowl for lemons: it was $5 at another garage sale in my neighborhood (my neighbors sell some good s&#*!)
curtains: design is by the extremely talented jen (jen, maybe you can provide specifics in a comment?  i know they are double width, french pleat…right?).  ivory linen fabric procured by jen in texas, grey grosgrain trim along the leading edge.  kate at just kate made them.
sconces: here when we moved in; i spray painted them gold.
mirror: ballard designs – it was on sale!
chandelier: antiques & beyond

this room is such a happy room for me.  we eat all of our meals here (at least, we do until we get our kitchen banquette installed!) and i love that it can be dressed up or down.  high chair and children’s place mats with mac & cheese…or fine china and linen napkins with a holiday meal.  the table is also a great place to trace envelope liners, i’ve found!

thanks to jen, as always, for steering me in the right direction – because i always want to go a million different ones!  :)



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one of the reasons i love old houses is the quirks that come with them.  the fact that you never quite know what transpired in the decision making process to bring your house to its current state.  for instance, in both rush and rinne’s rooms, there is only one window.  i would love for there to be just one additional one to get a little more natural light in both of their rooms…and as we were playing in the backyard one morning, i saw a window cutout with the shutters turned in on a wall of rinne’s room.  like so.

now, why would someone NOT want an extra window in a room … anybody chime in … that’s it, i’m stumped.  but of course i get to thinking, how much would it cost to blow out that window again…  and then i really start to get in trouble.

anyway.  this is not why we’re here.

we’re here to discuss the fact that in the year (yes, year!) that we have owned this house, every one of those 365 days i have wanted to replace the carpet in the calliespondence worldwide HQ.  it’s a brown and green pattern, kind of masculine, and just cheap looking.  the nerve.

so, i got samples from myers carpet (there is nowhere else to go in atlanta if you want carpet or even a custom rug – they are the absolute best) and settled on a gorgeous white wool with a small trellis pattern, as seen here.  so pretty!

i was finally ready to pull the trigger.  i went in week before last to place my order and schedule the installation.  this past friday was the day.  the installation guys arrive on the tail end of their window (why…always…??), and i have just enough time to finish moving all of the stuff i was supposed to have already moved out of the office, show them the room and explain a little intricacy of the exterior door threshold, and to get the kids’ shoes on before i have to ferry rush to a doctor’s appointment.  get the kids in the car, check back in with the guys to make sure they’re OK and know that when they close the front door behind them it locks, when i just catch out of the corner of my eye as they had just pulled up the old carpet already…

HARDWOODS.  beautiful, gleaming, covered up this whole damn time, hardwoods.

i was so stunned i didn’t even know what to say except a sputtering, um, how much do i have to pay for you not to install the carpet you’re here to install?  because i don’t want you to do that anymore.  but i have got to get to the pediatrician…thanks so much for coming anyway!  byeeee!!

they must have thought i am the biggest nutjob.

but i am so elated.  and i cannot tell you how bizarre it is to feel bare hardwoods underneath my feet in this room.

but can we just talk about why you would cover up hardwoods with carpet?  i really want to know the thinking on that.

let the rug shopping commence…!!!  and i have lots of other fun plans for the worldwide HQ that i will of course document along the way :)