Good as Gold


black lacquer 5This kitchen by Black Lacquer Design is making me re-think my choice of black cabinets, but we’ve got that gilding in common, though my choice was more muted. Image Source 

I’ve heard it said that cabinet pulls are like jewelry for your kitchen. And I like jewelry. When I started looking at kitchen jewelry, I kept running into gold and brass beauties as I browsed Pinterest. Many people can’t get past their negative associations with the brass and gold of the past to even consider thinking about putting the cuties in their current space. But the new gold or brass feels much more modern (and much less Donald Trump) than what we found in the kitchens and baths of yesteryear. Think 1989, the T-Swift album, not 1989, your middle school picture. There are matte and brushed options, and the lines are considerably cleaner.  But if after considering your options, the gilded hardware still gives you the heebie jeebies, you should absolutely not use it. The Universal First rule of Design is to only use what you love. And I was head over heals for those gold/brass tones.

Thankfully, gold handles don’t necessitate gold everything else. Just because you choose gold or brass handles doesn’t mean you have to choose a gold faucet or a gold microwave (do those even exist? If they don’t, they should.) I decided on 2 different lengths of gold square t-bar pulls for my lowers, and tiny cone knobs for my uppers. I love mixes, and a mix of handles not only keeps things interesting, but can help you to save a little money too. If you’ve fallen in love with handles that are a little more than you wanted to pay, you can use them strategically and fill in the rest with a coordinating but less expensive option. Usually, there is some sort of natural delineation in your cabinet configuration that can help you make the decision. Divide by uppers and lowers or drawers and cabinets. Go Wild.

Brittany MakesI just *might* have the same faucet/sink combo as Brittany. Image Source

I ordered my handles, and apparently, a lot of other people did too. It would be a long while before I could get my hands on those handles. If you need to order hardware, do so as soon as you know you need it. For some reason, hardware manufacturers like to create demand for their handles by only crafting enough for the people who have fake Pinterest kitchens. The rest of us normal people have to wait forever, and by the time we get them, the Pinterest people have moved on to handle-less cabinets. I spent the first month in our new kitchen with classic, yet modern blue painter’s tape for handles. This makeshift hardware works by attaching the tape to the inside of the drawer so a little folded tail hangs out over the top and acts as a handle. Half of the time, that tail gets stuck inside, and there is no handle. When that happens, you start by grabbing the lip on the bottom of the bottom drawer and pull each drawer out, all the way up until you get to the drawer you want to open. By then, you’ve forgotten what you needed in the first place, and you don’t care if you have handles or not.

Stick around! I’m hoping to be able to reveal my kitchen sometime in the next 2 weeks…unless, of course, I chicken out.

wood counterThe gold in this kitchen (featured in an Apartment Therapy article on gold) is gorgeous, but I can’t get over that live-edge counter. Image Source




How to Choose All the Cabinets

Blair Harris Kitchen Is it a bad idea to show you such beautiful kitchens before revealing mine? Probably. Image Source

While I decided against using the black and white floor tiles (for now) I knew for sure that I still wanted a very black and white kitchen. Black cabinets on the bottom and light on top are often referred to as a tuxedo kitchen. This color scheme is ideal if you want the drama of dark cabinets, without the heaviness. The black bottoms keep the space grounded, while the light uppers keep it open and airy.

I also decided I wanted to mix cabinet styles. That may elicit a cringe from my friendly readers (the three who aren’t blood related). I’m not sure exactly what drove me to that decision besides Pinterest and a fear of commitment. I do think it’s a kind of amazing illustration of my personality. As I’ve firmly established, choosing is not a thing that comes easy for me. I’m naturally an optimist, and I often believe that there will always be something better. It’s a good thing my husband wasn’t lacking in the self-confidence department when he wooed me. At some point early on in our engagement, I was very honest about how scared I was to be making such a big decision (we were babies, by the way). He remained completely unshaken and responded with, “If you don’t marry me, who the hell are you gonna marry?” Clearly, he was the one for me.

Dana-Miller-House-Tweaking-Kitchen-Remodelista-10-733x1100Ikea, for the win, in this kitchen by House Tweaking. Image Source

Unfortunately, cabinets don’t speak quite as clearly as young, overly confidant fiancés. I vacillated between having the cabinets custom made and going the Ikea route. Ikea cabinets are basically magic. All it takes to be under their spell is to walk into an Ikea. Granted, it might take you 3 years to find the kitchen department, but once you do, you’re toast (that was a kitchen joke.) Ikea kitchens are Nordic fairy lands where spices stay organized, cabinets flaunt their spacious quarters, and trash doesn’t stink. You really do believe that you will instantaneously become a hip, yet organized Swedish model/chef if you simply get your hands on one of those Fyorjofferståtinkis. (Did I make that up? Maybe you should learn Swedish and find out.) Since Ikea cabinets are affordable, easily acquired, and get rave reviews from users, I decided to put my money on them.

In the end, I chose black shaker cabinets for the bottom and modern, high-gloss, white uppers. I also added some custom open shelving in walnut, and a custom walnut island. A few years ago, if you would have told me I’d be putting shiny, modern, white cabinets in my kitchen I probably would have told you to stop cussing. Before moving to the West Coast, I was not a fan of modern anything (except medical practices). But the more I saw those clean, unfussy lines, the more they grew on me. I took a chance on not choosing just one style of cabinet and prayed that all these disparate choices would play nicely together.

Robe kitchenHere’s another kitchen, because it’s just so cool. Image Source

Choosing a Backsplash


Williamsburg kitchenNot my kitchen, but isn’t she a beauty? Image Source

A backsplash is one of those things that you can live your whole life without having and be perfectly okay. I’m pretty sure that if you look for backsplash on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it would fall just below Netflix and sit a few rungs above fur pillows. In our previous rental, my “backsplash” consisted of 4 inches of laminate with a pinky beige paint in a FLAT FINISH on the wall above it. And as Ana, one of the trainers at my gym would say, “But did you die?”

Backsplashes probably didn’t even exist until people had time to stop worrying about their crops freezing or their family members catching the plague from the fleas who lived on their house rats. Before there were backsplashes people just had…walls. Then a sneaky tile maker named Howard realized he could make a mint if he convinced people that they shouldn’t just tile their floors; they should keep going ALL THE WAY UP THE WALL. We should actually be grateful to Howard for beating the rug guy, Harry, to it, because cleaning bacon grease off of a Persian rug or (worse!) shag carpet on the wall behind the stove would be super gross.

Jenny Wolf kitchenStill not my kitchen, but maybe it should be. Image Source

Thankfully, choosing my backsplash did not create the level of internal conflict in me that choosing my floor did. In fact, I felt as though my backsplash decision was clear, and for this, I rejoiced. The white brick in the den and master bedroom was one of the characteristics of the house that made me fall in love with it. In a house that seemed very confused about who it was, the painted brick gave it a sense of history. It felt old, yet clean and fresh. The kitchen shared the white brick wall with the den, but the kitchen side was tile. Knowing that I wanted to incorporate a few modern design elements in my kitchen, I felt like using the brick as a backsplash would keep the space grounded. Although a painted brick backsplash isn’t quite as easy to clean as tile, it sure beats cleaning a shag rug.

IMG_7640Actually, this IS my (mid-renovation) kitchen. Stick with me on this photo thing. I know these pics are depressing, but I included the other pictures of beautiful kitchens so that your eyes would have something pretty, well-photographed, and finished to enjoy. 

Also, because it’s the best, you should read this post from Victoria Elizabeth Barnes about kitchen madness. It’s an oldie, but a goodie.


How To Make the Right Decision (or not)



Demo on my kitchen had begun, and the clock was ticking. I had to make a decision about these darn tiles, and it it had to be the right one, because everybody knows that interior design is a TEST.  There are right and wrong answers. If you make the wrong decision, people will secretly take pictures of your house and pin them on their Pinterest board entitled “Design Fails” and you will get famous for failing so hard.  I did not want that to happen. So I did a lot of research, which is obviously the best way to do interior design.

I’m only joking…ish. I think one of the reasons redesigning a kitchen is rough for those who are decision averse is that the decisions being made are not small, inexpensive decisions. This is not like buying that pillow on the clearance aisle at Target that you may not like a year from now (or when you get home from the store). And it’s definitely not like picking a nail color at the salon  (which, as my friends can attest, takes me an embarrassingly long time). I’m talking about choosing floors that I actually have to pay people to INSTALL in my house, with like, tools and grout and stuff.

I spent a lot of time looking at tiles here , here, and  here. And occasionally, I had the fortune of stumbling upon one of these gems in person. IMG_7349

I had to choose from the in-stock tiles on these websites, and while I really did love so many of them, I had little nagging doubts about every design. One felt too trendy. Another felt too ornate. The scale on another just didn’t seem right. If time is not a factor in your kitchen reno, you can actually custom design your tiles. This was not the case for me, though. I couldn’t allow my procrastination about this decision to hold up the whole renovation. I was starting to have flashbacks from my high school junior year Research Biology science project…and we all know how that turned out.  At one point, I thought I was nearing a decision, but when I put the tiles in the price estimator, I got a sinking feeling. Was the price doable? Yes. But did I have that “know that you know” for the price? I couldn’t say that I did.

After many hours spent with the black and white encaustic beauties, I bailed. I decided to go with good old white porcelain hexagon tiles. While part of me felt as though I was missing an opportunity for something funky and fresh, another part of me felt relieved.

While decisions can be challenging for me, I’m a huge fan of taking risks in design, as is evidenced by my very orange, very large, velvet living room sectional. But sometimes a particular risk just doesn’t sit right, and you don’t really know why. Maybe it wasn’t the tile that I was so drawn to in Jessica Helgerson’s kitchen, maybe it was that high contrast black and white overall color scheme, the open shelving, and the swaths of wood to warm it up. But I know what you’re thinking, “Can she  get the same dramatic feel without that gorgeous statement tile?”  These are the kinds of deep, soul-searching questions we will fearlessly face here together my friends. Be brave.

Also, I still have some bathrooms to renovate, so you know, those tiles and I just might have a future together.