Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Tip

Clean out the electronics graveyard. In my case, it was a deep drawer in the secretary in my office. It's was chocked full of old cell phones and cables, many of which went to whose knows what? 
Put it on the to-do list!

In my commitment to go through every closet and drawer before the months end, this was the last area to get done. Other than matching the various parts to each cell phone,  I didn't have a clue what most of the other items were for or if they were needed. I solicited some help and in no time my husband had it all cleared out.
Into the donations box these went.

All the cell phones and one desktop computer were dropped off to our local Goodwill, who will properly recycle these items with various partners including Dell. There are many other options and great organizations where you can donate or recycle these items that can all be found via Google. 
Our son is a sophomore in college and only uses a laptop. He's asked for 2 years to have this removed from the desk in his room. I am sure he will be happy to see when he comes home on his next break that we were listening,
even if it took a ridiculously long time!

I also recently noticed Best Buy has designated recycle bins in the lobbies of their stores. Not only will you enjoy that extra drawer space, but feel good knowing someone will use these items and/or that were properly disposed!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sit On Your Tuffet!

Stool or ottoman! Many or you asked about the little tuffet from this post. So this seemed the perfect time to finally finish a post that's been sitting in a draft format. What is a tuffet? Depending on the source you check it's typically described as a footstool or low seat, as it regards to furniture. The word ottoman has become the universal way in modern decor for describing any type of low or movable seating. Any of you recall the word hassock growing up...what would Miss Muffet make of that?
Lightweight and it works for every room of the house. At just $60, what a find!

This particular little tuffet was purchased from Home Goods and was slated for my closet. It's yet to make it upstairs. While it is not sturdy enough for adult seating, it has become a great place to pile books by a chair or sofa , a tray with a drink and yes, a convenient place to put my feet on!

A very convenient perch for books in the library!

I can not think of a single other piece of furniture that has more attributes than ottomans and stools. They are simply the most versatile (and in my opinion, necessary) piece of furniture for every room. I thought to prove my point, I would list every function they serve:

My hands down favorite ottoman, in leather from WSH.
 It's usually in the bedroom, but makes apearances in the living room
 whenever the occasion calls for lots of extra seating!

A rest for tired feet
A perch to pull on hose and socks
An extra seat for conversations
A fireside perch
A coffee table when a tray is added
A holder of books, magazines, blankets, pillows, purse and even a stack of folded clothes!

I had  a pair of these hourglass shaped Courbe ottomans from Ballard done COM
6 years ago in a beautiful harlequin muted teal & peacock blue chenille. They were an
 inexpensive substitute for the pair I fell in love with, but were more than quadruple the price!
They've held up well considering how much they pushed around.

I have at least oneottoman, stool or tuffet in every room. Some are cover in fabric, some in leather. Some were expensive, some were not. When a room lacks atmosphere, there are two things that are often the culprit. One is lack of lighting, or the right lighting (a topic for another day) and the other is flexible seating. If people are not comfortable, no matter how pretty the room looks, they won't fully enjoy being in the room.

I saved this image for the variety of flexible seating options in this room. The big gray round is truly a tuffet.
I've secretly wanted a hoofed stool with faux fur, and have several examples saved. Mr. A&A is perplexed by my
 recent admission of this desire. He says if I get one, then he will put a 6ft bear he saw at Plow & Hearth in the foyer.
If it comes to that, I'll have no choice but to dress him in a gentleman's black suit, give him a silver tray and call him Carson!

While every room must have a basic furniture plan, it's usually the ability to move pieces for conversation that make the best rooms. Flexible seating includes lightweight occasional chairs and ottomans, especially those on casters are indispensable.  
The hardest working ottoman in our house, still sporting it's trendy houndstooth fabric.
 Two chairs share it, as well as the sofa on occasion and whoever may be trying to sit close to the fireplace.
 At 24" square, it's the perfect size to easily push to any spot in the room.

Whether it's during the holiday season, a cocktail party where multiple groups are mingling, or just for everyday living, it's so nice to be able to pull up an extra seat wherever the conversation or need takes you!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tour Of Client's Kitchen Renovation

This was part of a whole house renovation. Top to bottom, nothing was left untouched. Final pictures were on Friday. During this reno, we removed a wall, added a full bathroom, expanded an existing shower, got rid of some mold, relocated a linen closet, replaced every vent, every switch plate, every outlet, every door knob, every hinge, created a lighting plan, installed new floors and carpet and made sure this 70's built house not only was ready for the 21st century, but many years into the future. It had to be completed in just 2 short months, which was no small feat when you factor in two major holidays and a kitchen backsplash that had to be done over!
I think the daffodils were a perfect choice for the rebirth of this kitchen.
And did I mention the budget was tight and timeline even tighter? During the design/selections phase of the project I had a few sleepless nights contemplating how to keep the overall budget in check, but deliver a kitchen design that was ultra functional as well as infused with style that would appeal to my clients (the property owners) as well as a range of possible new tenants from singles to professionals to families. 

My clients hire me for my reno experience and design vision. Definitely not for my drawing capabilities!

The end unit townhouse is in an area of Reston, Virgina close to some of the best shopping and restaurants (Reston Town Center) in the area and near where a new metro station is slated to be done in 2 years that will bring people into Tyson's Corner and Washington DC.  I kept all of this in the back of my mind with every selection from lights, to tile, to finishes. Stylish, durable, and budget friendly were key words for this project.

The tour:
The bulk head was removed and the new cabinets were taken up to the ceiling.

 You can never go wrong with a shaker style cabinet. Beautiful and resilient in cherry.

 The wall and door were removed to open the space and capture the light and woodland views.

 Now the kitchen sink has a beautiful view of the trees in the backyard and a bar for seating next to the living/dining area.
The little bump out on the end of the cabinet is where the new mircowave vent was hidden.
 A small consession to gain a microwave and get rid of the soffit!

 The peninsula completely cut the room in half  and created unusable space.

 Stylish and functional.

Look at all that storage for food and linens!
Drawers throughout have the automatic soft close feature.

We moved this refridgerator down to the basement utility room.

 The only appliance not to get relocated. Now it's just bigger and better looking!


The compacter is gone and now there is hidden trash/recycle bins.

 The sun was going down and this shot shows the wonderful glow from the under cabinet lights.

This was my little tongue and cheek reference to how far this house has been transformed.
The 2 little piggies left and took everything with them, but the kitchen sink...we threw that away!
We did spurge on many details in this kitchen such as cherry cabinets, granite counters and a travertine backsplash. The flooring was a high end durable laminate and used throughout the main floor and lower level (which I'll show you that along with the bathrooms in some upcoming posts). But saved on the appliances,  lighting and faucet. All from big box stores. And, the sink was provided for free from the granite company!

All before photos courtesy of A&A. All after photos property of RLI Interiors and may not be copied or reproduced without permission.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Tip

Make time to take inventory. I think most people want to be organized. It makes our lives easier and less stressful.  It's a popular topic of conversation every January both in the blogsphere and in life. And, definately one of my favorite topics! 
This is our everyday flatware. The rattan storage tray I've had a long time, the maple one came with my cabinets.

Since I tend stay organized, most of the time, this year I decided my mission would be to take inventory and then come up with a shopping list of what I actually needed. 
This organizer was a purchased a few years ago from Lowes.

Same with this one, just used in a different configuration.
I never understood the concept of the "junk" drawer? If you group like items together, whether it's in a desk drawer or a kitchen drawer and keep only what you use (after you take inventory) then there won't be any junk!

First up was the kitchen. I started by making a list of anything I was lacking (a meat mallet, I broke my wooden one over the holidays) or needed replacing (some of my baking pans have seen better days) as well as find a better solution to corral all my smalls in the butler's pantry. 
These are from the closet organization section at Container Store. It's meant for socks!

I think this one was for lingerie, but it's perfect for freshly laundered and pressed cocktail napkins
 as well as paper hand towels for the power room.

What are smalls you ask? In general terms, it's a group of tiny objects that are necessary for day to day living. In the kitchen area, they're often the pretty little things we need for entertaining, or gadgets that help us with cooking and baking.

One drawer done. 
 It's remarkably satisfying to be able to see and grab what you need and have it look good too!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Tip

Did your house get everything it wanted for Christmas? No? Neither did mine.
I'm crazy about convex mirrors and the arrival of this pair of tiny antique specimans was so exciting!
They are reflecting the columns that lead into the kitchen and make the ceiling look 15 feet tall.

And that's okay. Although I did receive a few new treasures. And new items, even the small ones, sometimes provide the push needed to inspire a few changes. And what better time to do it than the start of a new year?

I have a lock collection. My husband gave me this one for Christmas.
It's the first square one I've ever owned!

I think after the holidays, when everything is put away (I finally finished this past Saturday), a house can feel empty and even a bit lifeless. But that also provides a clean slate and the opportunity for little updates and small changes. Turn it into the winter version of spring cleaning. Just add fresh flowers and music and I promise it will be quite enjoyable!
The way the sunlight was coming into the living room today, it almost looked like spring,
except for the red berries that are abundant on the Holly tree just outside the window!

I definately don't think new things are always needed to make changes, sometimes the best place to shop is at home! Just moving a few things such as a lamp, the items on the coffee table, a chair or small work of art, not only gives the house a fresh perspective, but it's owner as well! Now where to put those convex mirrors...

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Chaise, Make It A Double!

So, after watching hours of Downton Abbey re-runs and the 2 hour Season II premiere last night, it got me thinking about being pampered. And my mind turned to the chaise. While the chaise has long been considered the distant relative of the French Récaimier, it's really more similar to the French Méridienne, which translates to rest in the middle of the day.

They tend to be thought of as furniture for women, but when you pair them, they take on a completely different context. Pairs immediately feel gender neutral and conversational. I'd prefer my pair (that I don't yet own) to be used in a library setting. But, they certainly looK appropriate for the study, living room or bedroom. And, while we lounge and look at some of my favorite images that I've saved, could someone ring the bell and ask Carson, the butler, to please bring us some tea or brandy?
Couldn't you just spend all day here with a pile of books?
 I imagine their is a roaring fire opposite the pair of chaise's.
Betty Lou Phillips.

A definite masculine take. Mathew Patrick Smyth.

Suzanne Rheinstein

Bright, cheerful and elegant. Eileen Kathryn Boyd.

An advertisement for Stark carpet, but I fell in love the the leather tufted chaises!

  I prefer the left/right arm combination so I have something to lean into.
 As well as take a nap without falling off! Veranda.

I love everything about this room! Matthew Patrick Smyth.

This would be a good substitute. Identical chairs and ottomans pushed together.
House & Home-January 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday Tip

Make a date with your DELETE button. And don't break it.

While I've been away enjoying the holidays, a little blogging break and some much needed time away from computer, it's time to get the first post of the year done. But, that couldn't happen until I finished my work...on the computer. While I don't make New Year's resolutions, I do make lists. First up on the list for 2012? Clean up my computer files. The pictures, in particular, were out of control! I started with our family Christmas pictures from this year and worked my way back. Way back. Three years worth of vacations, holidays, birthdays, and way too many random shots. You know the kind. The ones you look back on and have no idea what was interesting about anything in the frame?
I took a picture of these birds from a family trip to Orlando in 2010 because I thought they were interesting.
The actual truth?
  I took it because we all thought they were conjoined...until they started to move. Yes, we felt stupid. Delete.

I started with the most recent images. I deleted duplicates and any undesirable shots, then cropped/edited (I don't know how to photoshop, but it's on the list of things I want to try to learn one day) any photos that needed to be cleaned up, and finally dragged what remained into labeled folders and copied each folder onto a disk and labeled it.
Three years of neglect took many hours, over a three day span to clean up.  But it was absolutely worth it to finally complete this task and put an end to worrying about losing cherished images forever. And, the added bonus is that now I won't be wasting time in the future looking for a particular image! The next step will be to print and frame some favorite pictures. It's been awhile since I've changed any family photos and now I'm really looking forward to doing it! Then it's on to tackling all those blog images I've accumulated...