{Before & After} From Dark + Dated to Light + Bright Kitchen Reveal

A couple months ago I started a kitchen remodel with one of my favorite clients (am I allowed to say that?! ha!) She found me after we both got our puppies from the same breeder last summer and we were added to the same Facebook group. I posted a picture of our dog, Lincoln, into the group and she eventually found my instagram and realized I was an interior designer in Grand Rapids, where she also lives! Gotta love this aspect of social media :)

Anyways, she reached out to me via Facebook to see if we could get the dogs together and have a consultation for her home. When I went over to her house, she explained how sad her house made her because just two years prior to this, they hired another designer in the area to help them decorate and update the builder grade kitchen. I was honestly sort of surprised, too, because of how my client described the way she wanted her home to feel. She kept repeating "light and bright, cozy, yet not dark at all. Beautiful, comfortable and fresh. Just like your instagram!" ;) Ha! I loved her already.

What the other designer did was the opposite of all of those things! I am always puzzled when people don't get what they want when working with a designer. My main goal is to listen to what my client's want and then help them make well-informed design decisions based on my skill and knowledge, but also based on how they tell me they want their home to look and feel. The feeling aspect of the question is really important to me because our homes are where we LIVE. It's where our most joyful and most tender moments take place and because of that, these four walls are precious and should be a reflection of you, your family, and be the backdrop to living a meaningful life.

No disrespect meant to this other designer (I don't even know who it is), but this backsplash she had them put in...does it read light, bright, updated, and comfortable/fresh to anyone?! My poor client was distraught, so I was quick to remind her that this can be fixed! Every step of the way she was SO happy with the progress. Even JUST changing the backsplash was the biggest improvement!

Here's what we started with:

We changed out the backsplash and the countertops first, since we didn't want the installers to mess up the freshly painted cabinets. This order worked really well for us and I highly suggest doing this if you're doing a kitchen refresh that includes backsplash and painting cabinets.

The subway tile we chose has a pretty sheen and little bevel detail to give it some depth and texture. We went with a light gray grout to pick up the gray tones in the beautiful new quartz countertops.  

Before, the kitchen was dark and had a very orange-y shadow because of the orange cabinets. Now it's light and bright, just like my client wanted! To avoid it being sterile, I headed over to her house last week to decorate and style the countertops. Keep scrolling to see how it turned out.

The wall color here is BM Stonington Gray at 75%, which we chose strategically for its blue undertone. The previous color was a medium to dark gray with a subtle green undertone, but with the skylights they have in the room and the way the recessed cans and windows were positioned in the room, the color went VERY green in the afternoon and evening. They hated it and wanted something that would look more like a TRUE gray. So we found a lighter gray paint with a blue undertone to help counteract the green shadows in the living room. It worked like a charm and now they love their wall color throughout their main level! You can see here it really is a true gray.

And now with it styled...

We kept it simple by doing a few key vignettes and also pulled in the colors from the living room which the kitchen opens to on the left. The blues and greens marry the two spaces perfectly. One day we'll get them all professionally photographed so you can see the whole space!

 pineapple cutting board / blue spiral bowls / patterned bowl (sold out, but here's a link to the collection)

tea pot / small victories cookbook / 30 minute one pot meals / host cookbook 

So there you have it! A few key pieces in thoughtful vignettes across the counter to bring some interest and homey-ness to the kitchen! The goal was to bounce some color intentionally around on the counter top, but still have it feel like a white, neutral kitchen overall. I love how it turned out, and most importantly, so does my client and her husband! 

Remember how I mentioned we met through out puppies?! It'd be a diservice NOT to show them to you here ;) 

 Lincoln, Jake, Quinn

Ahh, melts my heart! 

Hope you enjoy your week, friends!

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3 Finishing Touches for Your Home that Make a Huge Difference

One of the things I get the most questions on is readers or friends asking me the best ways to finish off their homes. They have furniture but don't know how to put the exclamation point on the end of the sentence, so to speak ;) Another question I get asked often is about how to infuse personality into your space? Well, my answer to both of those question lies in this post. They're both great questions and can often leave homeowners feeling overwhelmed, so hopefully this helps!

1. Rugs. 
Rugs do a lot of things visually, but some of my favorite functions they have are how they zone off spaces and naturally create conversation areas, warm up your home and bring texture to the space. The thing with rugs that's important to remember is that they are laying on the floor, horizontally positioned, often with at least some furniture placed on top of it. This to say, it's a great place to bring in pattern and color to the room because it's not going to be overly bold being on the floor. 

I'm not saying rugs don't have power or impact, because they sure do, but I am saying it's a great place to experiment with design elements you're afraid to put on the walls or curtains! Rugs can take furniture that looks like it's floating in the middle of a room and bring it together, creating a cohesive and purposeful room design. 

You might be thinking your room has carpet in it, so that negates you from being able to use a rug in your space. FALSE! As long as it's a low pile carpet, you shouldn't have a problem layering a rug over it. I did this in my "Bachelorette Pad" and it worked out great.
I wrote this informative post about how to choose rug sizes for your home here + then gave you tons of my favorite rugs

I get asked a lot about where to buy rugs, so here are my favorite places:

Lulu & Georgia*
Pottery Barn
West Elm*
Crate & Barrel*
Restoration Hardware*
World Market
Home Goods
Nordstrom- especially the Dash & Albert line*
Joss & Main
Rugs USA (for cheaper rugs, but that don't last as long)
Annie Selke

* Favorite, best quality

Crate & Kids
Pottery Barn Kids
RH Baby & Child

2. Curtains. 
What DON'T curtains do for a room is the real question?! They add height by moving your eye upward (especially important if you have standard ceiling height or are trying to draw attention to an architectural detail), make the room feel bigger (via adding height), draw your eye to a pretty view outside by framing the windows, cozy up the space and make it feel lived in and polished, and of course, it's yet another way to add texture, color and design elements to your room. 

That's a lot of really good stuff, which is why I never think a room is finished unless it has curtains. 
And curtains that TOUCH THE FLOOR, mind you. I'll never forget when I was designing a builder's home and he thought it was actually wrong to have curtains touching the floor...HA! I started laughing immediately (don't worry, that wasn't unprofessional of me because that's just how he is and he knows it. He was laughing too!) I told him it was one of my top design no-no's and he thought that was hilarious. So we DID end up getting him the appropriate length curtains. The issue with short curtains is it actually does the opposite of what you want them too, which is to ADD height. 

Things to remember for curtains: to find the length needed for your room, measure from the floor to the top of your window molding. That will tell you the very MINIMUM measurement. Then you want to account for hanging your curtain rod as high as possible above the window, or at least halfway in between the top of the window molding and the ceiling.

The standard width of curtains is 50" wide. If you want to fully close your drapes to block light, be sure to measure the width of your window and determine how many panels you'll need.

Of course, there are other options for window treatments as well. You have fabric roman shades (love!), roller shades, woven roman shades, and can dress things up with valances.

A few of my favorite resources for curtains:
Pottery Barn
Ikea - nice and simple (usually you have to hem these as they come really long)
Crate & Barrel
Ballard Designs
Custom fabric for curtains: Caitlin Wilson, Rebecca Atwood, Robert Allen, Schumacher
Custom Curtains: Martha & Ash

3. Art.
Art really helps give your home personality and that cherry on top of everything else you have going on! Filling wall space can be challenging; there are only so many options. You have gallery walls (collections of artwork or photographs in a cluster), mirrors, canvas art, wood signs, single photographs (from your travels, family photos, etc.), clocks, metal or woodwork, etc.

It's sometimes hard to identify your art style and taste. But what I've found is usually people can see something and know if they like it or not, so what I always suggest doing is starting a board on Pinterest just meant to file away art styles you love. Search for wall art and pin anything that catches your eye. After pinning around 30-50 images, take a step back and ask yourself what those items have in common. Did you pin a lot of abstract pieces? Landscapes? Photography? Florals? Collections of art hung together? You'll also pick up on frame style and color that you gravitate towards as well. 

One thing I've also noticed about art and filling wall space, in general, is that some people tend to go overboard. I'm here to tell you that not every wall needs something. This can feel cluttered and then your eye doesn't know where to land. My goal with art is always to find a few really great pieces that we want to stand out and become a focal point!

Some of my favorite places to shop for wall art:

World Market
Ballard Designs
Etsy- House of Belonging and Between You and Me for wood signs
Feather & Birch for cut out wood words and art

Favorite Artists (love supporting artists first before big stores!): Chelsea Michal for incredible and colorful animals and florals, Hollyhocks & Hydrangeas for farmhouse flowers, Wildfield Paper Co. for florals and nature watercolors, Simply Jessica Marie for pretty calligraphy prints and custom watercolor paintings, Bree Maden for beach photography, Lily & Val for chalkboard art prints, Rachel Wadlow Art for Abstract, Parima Studio for abstract, Emily Jeffords for landscapes.

So there you have it-- 3 design elements that will really help finish off your house and make it feel like a cozy, inviting, and personality-filled home!

  What do you think makes the biggest difference in your own house or apartment?

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Friday Finds: My NSale Purchases

It's Friday! Every week has been so pretty the past couple weeks, but then weekends come and they're just so gloomy and sad. I feel terrible for my husband who works all week, then doesn't even get to enjoy the sun on the weekends! Hopefully Sunday will look better since Friday and Saturday look like thunderstorms. Maybe it's a movie weekend! Any movie recommendations?!

Friday is always a reason to celebrate, but today is a fun one because the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is finally open for public access. So if you don't have a card, now you can shop!

First up, here are the things I bought:

1. This easy, simple raw-hem tee:
similar shorts

2. Kut from Kloth Skinny Jeans: BACK IN STOCK!! Check their size guide, because they run a little big! I am wearing a 0 and they fit well, but typically I'm a 2. These are SO soft and have some stretch to them. Genuine pockets all the way around. Mid-rise, which normally I don't buy, but I love these so much. They are a little long, so I'll either have them tailored or roll them. At under $60, I think these are a must-have.

3. BP Sweater. (above) This is now only available in XXS, so if you're very petite this would work for you, as it does run a tad roomy. Some reviews said it's too short, but I didn't think so and I have a long torso!

4. This tie dress. It's super soft and cute, but you know what? I ended up returning it because I just felt I didn't totally need it. But I did really like it!

5. My favorite purchase are my waterproof Blondo booties! I got the Taupe Nubock color and they are great. I LIVED in my Blondos last year, so getting this higher heel and different color is going to be a great new option for me this fall and winter. So many readers have told me they got these last year and they are the most comfortable shoe they own! I did purchase the Cognac color as well in a 1/2 size larger than my normal size and when they arrive I'm going to compare color and fit. Some reviews said they sized up while others said true to size, so I'm curious. The pair I already received is an 8 and they fit, but I wonder if they'll be even better a tad larger with thick socks for winter. Stay tuned ;)

Now for some other finds that are still in stock! (I have quite a few in Nordstrom Notes, so I might grab one or two more things!)

1. This Norori Bra. I don't normally post this kinda stuff, but when something is THAT good, I will. The reviews on this one is amazing, so I'm reallyyyy wanting to try it!! Anyone have it and love it?

2. Yep, I'm just going for it today with the lingerie ;) These Hanky Pankies (LOL) are my favorite undies, hands down. They are soft, not too small in the area, if you know what I mean, and they stay in place. They come in solid and some pretty patterns.

3. Simple tee. Comes in a few colors. I love these for layering pieces for winter.

4. Over the knee boots. Still don't have a pair of these, but want to! Maybe I'll ask for them for my birthday :) Love the color and details on these.
5. Plaid button up. Perfect for fall! Layer with a sweater, throw on some jeans and booties and you're good to go!

6. Zella leggings. Great for working out and for those of us in the colder states, great for wearing under long sweaters all.winter.long!!

6. Moto Leggings. I have these from a few years ago and wear them often! The textured detail is great!

7. Barefoot Dreams sweater. I think if I get anything else, this (or one similar) will be it! I can imagine this keeping me warm (and happy) in the winter. I like this color and the dark gray.

8. For all your west coasters and people who live in places that don't experience winter (jealous!!) these Vince Camuto booties are perfect for fall and winter (and spring!) I have a pair of his similar to this from last year and they are my second favoite and most-worn pair of booties (second to the waterproof ones, of course!) The V cut out is so dang cute:

9. Stripe sweater. How fun and retro are these colors?!

10. Striped Ruffle Sleeve Top. So fun and flirty. I could wear stripes all day, every day ;)

That's it for now! I'm going to be adding to this post throughout the day with more good finds, once I have time to dig in even more.

Happy Friday!

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