Total Whirlwind

We had a CRAZY week last week getting ready to put our house in the market.  I don't even remember how many 2-4 hours nights of sleep we got last week.  We did pretty much every project we'd ever planned to do "eventually" in the span of 9 days.  Our house was full of contractors helping us and I attempted to pack up and keep things running in the office, which became pretty much impossible.

Saturday morning (the day of the first open house) we woke up early to get started on our unfinished projects.  At 6, Dave ran to Home Depot to buy a new drill because we'd packed ours up and sent it to live in the Pod for a month... he added the missing hardware on the extra kitchen cabinets we'd done a year or so ago. (Yes, until this point they'd been just sitting there, naked and topped with plywood... On Friday the carpenters came and installed the butcher block and did the trimwork.)  I ran around with only one contact in (I tore my left one in the rush) pretty much legally blind in my left eye, squinting to do the paint touch-ups.  (It was at this point that I almost lost it...  I'd been pretty chill the whole 9 days along but when I realized I couldn't see it was - Dave- "It's almost over."  And me- "But I can't see!!! How am I supposed to look at anythig with a critical eye if I can't see?!!!"  --- Yes, I really said that.  Not my best moment.  He knows me pretty well and just didn't say anything.  God I love that man. )  I frantically cut hyrangea & spread them around the house in jars, all the while worrying about the funny smell of the paint in our basement because the contractors had just finished with the ceiling.  Every time I finished with a room, I'd close the door and the kids' security clearances were revoked.

{Yes, that's a muffin squished into his eye.}

 (By the end they were relegated to the foyer as our realtor helped them put on their shoes and fed them cookies & that's when I knew it was the home stretch.) I jumped in the back or our minivan to feed (wailing) baby Luke as Dave turned the car on and "blasted" the air at my behest while people arrived early for the open house.   Dave ran through the yard with the lawn mower (Him- "A mowed lawn is important to men.") as Christian & Justin got extra allowance for picking up sticks.  I watched and thought about how I'd wished I'd gotten more weeding done in the gardens as the van (which was blasting air) got hotter and hotter.  I opened the door because the hot air outside was better than the inside.  The baby's tiny little body stuck to my dress and we were a sweaty mess.  When Dave finally showed back up to load the kids in the car it was, "Oh sorry babe, I'd had the heat on." 

We drove a few houses down so I could feed the baby before driving to the eye doctor's.  We watched as the cars came pouring down our street for the open house.  (I know that sounds creepy and I hoped no one would notice us, but with the hungry baby, we really had no choice.)  As more time went by and none of the cars had left yet, we felt a little better.  Anytime there was a lag in the stream of cars, we worried.  We noticed cars leaving, driving around and going back.  That was a good sign. 

Once the baby had had his fill, it was off to the eye doctors' and then to my mom's house where we showerd and promptly DROPPED.  (We had already decided we were not going home Saturday night because there was no way we could keep our house clean for even a night for Sunday's open house.)  We waited for news from our realtors and I was in total shock as they called and told us the good news.  (I typically worst-case scenario everything at the last minute, and by the end of the day had convinced myself that no one could ever want our house.)  Saturday night was great as two of my best friends stopped by to celebrate (One who I haven't seen in over a year just home from Paris!) and we gorged (or maybe it was just me who gorged) on food from the Lebanese Taverna. 


We stayed at my mom's all day Sunday and reviewed offers that night.  This (below) was the awesome note we came home to:

{The "Buy me" note was a last-minute attempt as I dashed out of the house before the open house}

...We are now officially under contract and are set to move mid-September!!!  I'm definitely sad to leave this place (getting teary honestly) but I am so happy that the people buying our house seem to love it as much as we do.  I think they'll take great care of this place we've poured so much into & I'm sure they'll make it their own in no time.  I'll miss some of our neighbors terribly but know that they're friends for life & moving won't change that. 

I'll be back this week to share some long overdue before & afters of our house...  sort of a little goodbye string of posts I have planned.  I am DEFINITELY making a video tour of my house before I leave so I can "visit" whenever I want.  (I know I have issues ;)

Also, thank you so much to all of the readers who came out to see our house!!  Hope you enjoyed & thank you so much for the support!!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Open Shelving in the Kitchen- the great debate

Wow.  Our house is officially for sale today!!!  I'm feeling really great about it.  But putting your house on the market makes you take another look at it, from a buyer's point of view and makes you analyze every little thing.  I used to do real estate staging & a large part of it is de-personalizing the home vs. making it unique & personal (which is what I do now.)  One of the things I think that's more personal & taste-specific in our home is the open shelving in our kitchen. (In our kitchen we have a mix of open shelving and upper cabinets but the main wall is all open shelving.)

{our kitchen}

People seem to have very strong opinions about doing open shelving in the kitchen instead of upper cabinets.  They either seem to love it or hate it.

I thought I'd share my experience with them since I've had them for three years now.

I orginally opted for open shelving because I wanted to give my kitchen an open & airier feeling. It's a great way to make a kitchen feel larger.  My kitchen felt a bit confined & heavy to me so I wanted to visually lighten it up.  The assymetrical angle of my kitchen ceiling looked too awkward with a row of dark upper cabinets calling attention to it. 

{my kitchen "before" with the awkward angles}

SO.. I thought I'd give it a go, more for form over function but I ended up loving the "function" side of it too!

{my kitchen "after" with open shelving}

One of my favorite things about open shelving is that I can see everything at a glance.  Guests too can grab what they need easily or put things back without searching through every cabinet. 

One of the biggest "cons" I've heard brought up about open shelving is that your things "get dusty" and dirty with cooking grime.  Dusty & grimey things have never been an issue for us in our kitchen.  We use almost everything on our shelving daily or weekly and it comes off of the shelf perfectly clean because it's constantly getting use.  I store a few barely-used items on my upper shelf and when I take them down once or twice a year, there is some dust on them and I simply rinse them off before using them.  (Just as I have to rinse off the rarely-used items in my dining room sideboard before use.)  Friends of mine who have open shelving have said the same thing.  I find it's people who've never actually had it (or who don't frequently use the things on their shelves) who seem to worry the most about this "dust" issue.

I also love the look of functional beauty in open shelving.  A kitchen is for cooking and eating & so I love seeing my "tools" displayed around me. 

I have collected my platters and bowls and pitchers over time and love being able to enjoy them even when they're not in use.  I think they're beautiful and I didn't want to hide them in cabinets.

Working in our kitchen is so easy because everything is within reach and I can get to it quickly.  (In our house, we move like crazy people.  It seems we're almost always rushing -gotta change that- and I can grab things off the shelves like  a speed demon.)  Putting away the dishes now seems like so much less of a chore than it did when I was putting everything into cabinets. 

{Sally Wheat}

Another "con" I've heard about open shelving is that it looks cluttered.  I think this is more a matter of personal taste.  For me, I think the key to our open shelving looking good is that we've limited what types of items we put on our shelves.  (In our kitchen I have white ware, glass ware and stainless steel for the most part and I sometimes mix in other colors/ materials seasonally.)  I do have some patterned and colorful dishes on my open shelving but from standing in the kitchen, they are viewed from the side and from below, so they look white.  However, there are some open-shelved kitchens look great because the homeowners are less rigid with what they put on their shelves and they come across as charming and homey: 

I reserve closed drawers and cabinets for food items and kitchen appliances and my open shelves for the things we use all the time.

As with many things in design, I don't think think there's a general wrong or right in uppers vs shelving, just wrong or right for certain people. 

Personally, I won't ever be without my open shelving in the kitchen (and plan to do it again in our new house because it's perfect for our busy, casual lifestyle- once you go open, you never go back ;) ;)  but it's all in the eye of the beholder.

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Our moving story & open house

Our house has been a serious labor of love.  When we found it, I was in love.  And I still am. 
...Which is why our move is so crazy.

But here's our story:

4 years ago, my husband (Dave) & I sold the townhouse that we'd bought as newlyweds at the height of the market... for a huge loss.  We moved into my parents' basement to recup & soon after, I started this blog.  I had just gotten my design business going & my mom generously babysat for our then-one-year old (Christian) so I could meet with clients and work.  Living with my parents was actually pretty awesome (free babysitting, good food, quick runs out to the movies while the baby was sleeping, getting to be with my little sister who lived there-  she's 15 years younger than me) .. but all we thought about was buying our own house again.  It felt like such a longshot.  

 {our basement family room}

Here I was designing houses for other people and I couldn't even afford my own.  We did as much as we could with our basement & would peruse real estate listings frequently.  Sometimes it depressed us & other times it got us dreaming about the future. 

We decided to start taking some drives with an agent and I started sharing the houses we were looking at... And in this area, it wasn't much.  Some of the houses actually scared my parents because they were so unlivable, but we saw potential in them.  My parents talk about how I looked over the yard of a ramshackle 836 square foot house with tears in my eyes because I thought it was so great & could picture our family there.  hahahah  

I thought about what we could do with the wrecks and how we could make them work. 

We finally find our house and I remember when I first saw the online listing...  I saw a living room wall of windows and so much green outside of the windows. 

 It was contemporary, which was a big change for me, but I was excited.  It had been on the market for 4 years and my husband drove by it one day after work and said it was in a culdesac and was actually surround by trees.   We went to see it with our agent.  It was the first house we looked at that day and we looked at 18 others but once I'd seen it, I just knew.  After that, we weren't interested in the center hall colonials we were seeing, we wanted the split foyer!!


I knew it wasn't pretty.
And that it was creepy.

Family members told us not to buy it and our agents weren't very keen on it either...  but we were set on it.

After begging & wrestling the house from the original owners (They bought in the 70s) we were thrilled to move in & start making it ours. 


I chronicled all of our projects in this blog showing you probably waaaaaay too many photos of the minute changes we'd make.  We've been in Heaven fixing this place up & making it perfect for our family.  We love the neighborhood and our town and pictured ourselves living here for years to come.

..Still I perused the real estate listings out of curiosity and always with a tiny hope in the back of my mind that I might find something we loved & something we could afford right near my mom.  

It was while checking out listings for one town that a listing in another town oddly popped up on my search engine and it intriqued me.  I was sitting in the back seat of our minivan holding the pacifier in baby Luke's mouth on the way home from the beach andI read the house's description aloud to Dave as he drove. 

We were laughing as I read more & more and it just sounded to perfect for us.  (me- "2 car garage."  him- "SOLD.")

I tried to understand the floorplan and figure out which rooms were where and how many rooms there were.  (Was the rec room the same as the family room or was it actually another room??  I had to know it all.)

I jokingly texted my little sister who was also driving home from the beach a few miles behind us that she needed to tell our mom to be scared because we'd found a house we loved.  We were laughing and kidding but the laughs were insterspersed with "what ifs?" 

There was an open house the next day and we decided to go just for fun.  As we pulled up, we could see that it was packed with people and I told them from inside my car to "Get outta my house!"  (Don't worry, the car windows were closed.)  We walked in and this is what we saw:

{yes, that's actually tile up the wall.}

I loved it.

We walked around the house and yard over & over.  I wanted it but couldn't get over leaving our current house and town. 
Dave was down.  (Grandmother, if you're reading, that means "up for it" or "game." ;)

I stayed at the open house almost the entire time & tried to work out ways to remedy the floorplan and make it better.  (All while trying to keep our exhausted kids from running around like the maniacs that they are.)  I didn't feel like I could think of moving to the house until I could envision how we'd fix it.  I finally figured it out and was okay to leave so we could think.

We called our families & told them we were seriously considering it.
And then we seriously considered it.

The biggest con for me was (and is) leaving a place we've poured so much into and a town/ community that I love so much. We've FINALLY gotten our house exactly where we want it to be and what do we do?  We go looking at new houses.

Add a 5 year-old, a 2 year old and a newborn into the mix along with a home-based business that both I and my husband support the family off of and we're starting to sound insane. 

I know all of this.  I really do.

But somehow this house is calling to us.

We did pros & cons.  We prayed about it.  I stayed up at night reworking the floorplan and envisioning what life would be like there.  And if I'd be okay leaving.

Still unsure, we took another trip to see the house to see how it felt. 
And it felt right.

I suddenly felt that it would be okay to move on, to start a new chapter.

I see so much potential in this house and I've never seen my husband so excited about something this big before.  We talked and we decided we wanted to put in an offer.  We went over again with our fingers crossed as my parents saw the house and we waited to hear if our offer would be accepted.  Someone else had submitted an offer too and as we ate dinner with my family at a loud restaurant, we strained to hear the phone's ring, hoping it woud be good news.

We got a call: The owners were deliberating between the offers and wouldn't be getting back to us until the next day.
Try sleeping on that one.

I went to meet with clients the next day and Dave drove with the baby in the car so I could feed him before & after the meeting.  During the meeting, he got the call that our offer was accepted!!!

It was so surreal.

Our house is going on the market this weekend.  My other baby.

It's very bittersweet.   I love our house and our life here and I'm sad to leave.  Yet I am sooooo excited for a new place to make home.  This new house is challenging & different and I can't wait to stretch myself creatively a bit. 

The real estate photgrapher came in this weekend and it started to feel more real as I cleared off surfaces and depersonalized the house a bit.  Our agents are having an open house both Saturday and Sunday of this weekend, so if you're in the area and are interested, feel free to email them for details.  (but promise me, no judging!!!  ;)  ;)

I'll be back soon to share pic & plans of our new house!!

To read the blogpost from when I first revealed that we'd moved into my parents' basement .. click here .  I was  so embarrassed at the time and will never forget my now-friends who commented on that post and how their comments really did make me feel better.  It was one of the first times I realized what true  friends my  'blog friends ' really were.

To read about my plans for our current house before we bought it, click here  ...  Reading through it just made me teary now...  dreaming about the wisteria-covered pergola Dave would build me one day and that I now have.

To read about our last house purchase, go .here  Again, the comments from my blog friends helped us and I won't ever forget it. 

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

We're moving!!!

I can't believe we're doing it, but just as we've finished with our labor of love, we're on to another one.  We're in the the middle of packing...

...And it's so surreal.  I'm off to a client's installation but will be back with details!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Kitchen Remodeling Tips

Eliminate Wasted Steps
Think about how and where you use kitchen items. Store breakfast foods and bowls near the breakfast table. Keep wraps and plastic containers in one handy spot near a work surface for wrapping leftovers. Locate dishware and flatware near the dishwasher to ease the process of unloading.

Add a Message Center 
  Establish a message center near the kitchen telephone. Put a bulletin board, chalkboard, or whiteboard on the wall, and store a calendar, notebook, and writing utensils in a nearby drawer.

Plug It In 
Install multiple outlets along the backsplash and on the island so you'll have electricity wherever you need it.

Break Up Cabinetry Blocks  
Avoid boring, heavy blocks of doors and drawers by adding interesting details such as glass doors and display shelving. Or try wine storage or windows.

Use Light Colors in a Small Kitchen  
Dark color schemes shrink an already small space and make it less inviting. Use soft shades on kitchen cabinets and natural light to visually expand a small room.

Find a Focal Point
Splashy tile, fancy floors, sizable range hoods, bright kitchen cabinets, and busy countertop patterns give the eye too much to look at. Pick one focal point in your kitchen design and complement that area with a few other quieter, eye-pleasing details.

Design Wide Walkways 
Paths throughout a kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide. Paths within the cooking zone should be 42 inches wide for a one-cook kitchen and 48 inches wide for a two-cook configuration. When planning, adjust kitchen islands and peninsulas accordingly.

Direct Traffic 
For kid-friendly kitchen designs, keep the cooktop out of traffic areas so children don't catch handles and cause spills when running through. Also, make the refrigerator accessible to both passersby and people working in cooking and cleanup areas.

Find the Right Height for the Microwave  
The best height and location for a microwave oven depends on the chef and the degree of kid-friendliness desired in the kitchen. For adults, 15 inches above countertop level is a good microwave height. For kids, a below-countertop setup might be safer and more suitable.

Determine the Island's Function 
When it comes to kitchen islands, form follows function. If you want to cook and eat on kitchen islands, plan enough space so the cooktop is safely separated from the dining area.

Plan Landing Space 
When designing your kitchen, allow 15 inches of countertop on each side of a cooktop and refrigerator. Landing space is also important near the microwave.

Consider the Countertops  
Those who cook frequently require more counter space -- ideally between the range and sink -- than those who cook infrequently or who prepare simple meals. Incorporating two countertop heights makes baking easy and helps kids who are involved in meal preparation.

Double Up 
A second microwave  oven and a mini refrigerator or refrigerator drawer positioned at the edge of the kitchen work center can keep guests and family members in the kitchen but out of the cook's way. A bar with stools doubles as an after-school spot for kids and as a gathering spot for dinner guests.

Arrange the Range
Place a shelf beside or behind the range to keep cooking oils, utensils, and spices handy. Place S hooks on the side of the range hood to hang frequently used pots and pans.

Colorful Kitchen Islands

Orange Zest Island 
Citrus-inspired hues are bold, sassy, and full of energy. If you love blazing orange but can't commit your entire kitchen, try it as an accent. Melding drama, style, and warmth, a punchy island mingles with black slab countertops for the perfect amount of sophistication in this kitchen. Stunning metal-mesh pendants illuminate the island with contemporary flair.

Taken by Teal 
Ease color into a room with an attention-grabbing hue on a kitchen island. Teal blue does all the talking in this French-themed kitchen. Color on the upper wall and the island pops against a black-and-white backdrop, creating a striking color scheme.

Sunny Disposition
Being bold is all about striking the right balance, and bold doesn't always have to be bright. Here, a saturated, yet muted golden yellow island gives this pretty kitchen a peppy focal point. When considering a contrasting color for a kitchen island, look to the hues already being used in your kitchen. The color on the island is a more intense version of the yellow tiles in the basket-weave pattern backsplash.

Inky Blue 
Denim blues aren't just for your wardrobe -- they're also perfect for a feel-good, classic interior. Deep, inky blue adds a note of drama to this 1950s farmhouse-style kitchen, and it stands in contrast to the white walls and countertops. A funky chandelier and open metal shelving infuse this composed space with contemporary flair.

Rich wood stains and white form a brilliantly contrasted palette that's both soft and luxurious. Although considered a neutral, brown wood finishes can be viewed as a color when played against neutral finishes, such as the white cabinets, beige backsplash, and white marble island countertop. Adding heft to this airy kitchen, a chocolate-brown island serves as the focal point in this interior. Wood floors with a matching stain and lighter-tone wood countertops on the perimeter ease the transition between dark and light finishes, creating a charming space that's easy to live in.

Serene Scene 
 Give an all-white kitchen a lift with a refreshing coat of blue for a classic, pleasing palette with a hint of color. With a cornflower-blue island and watery-hue backsplash, this white kitchen feels cheery and full of character.

Sunny Citron 
Good looks and practicality are equal partners in this gorgeous kitchen. A tempered chartreuse island blends the sunny side of yellow with the vibrancy of lime green for a warm, springy look. The island was outfitted with a roll-out baking station, fashioned in the island's likeness, to make baking a breeze, and the frame is painted the same zingy chartreuse as the island.

Neutral Variations 
Playing with slight contrasts is a no-fail way to spice up a neutral palette. Anchoring the heart of this open kitchen, the island's stone color, although muted, stands out against the white walls and perimeter cabinets. Industrial elements, such as the stools, light fixtures, and faucet, mingle with the room's traditional design.

Yellow Fever 
Inspired by a playful backsplash of yellow and green, this kitchen's golden glow is as rich as it is deep. A bold hue of mustard yellow on the expansive island is duplicated on the lower cabinets. If you are going for a more subtle look but still want to incorporate an eye-catching color, apply your hue of choice to the island only, and use the same understated finish or color on both the upper and lower perimeter cabinets. For a coordinated look, choose a neutral hue that¿s related to your kicky color. Here, creamy white upper cabinets have a touch of yellow, which helps to bridge the gap between subtle and bold.

Viva Jewel Box Kitchen 
White perimeter cabinets and countertops set a clean-lined stage for a playful emerald green island. Open shelving on one end of the island offers plenty of space for bright cookbooks and large display items. The contrasting butcher-block countertop on the island also heightens the distinction between the island and the rest of the kitchen. Sapphire blue wallpaper with pretty florals adds another splash of jewel tones, creating a color scheme that's rich yet casually preppy.

Robin's-Egg Blue 
A large furniture-style island cloaked in soft robin's-egg blue welcomes family and guests into an impressively detailed kitchen. Crisp white cabinets, a zinc range hood, and gleaming chrome pendant lights pop against the blue island, providing a light and bright atmosphere. Picking up the color of an accent island in accessories adds polish and completes the look. Here, the springy blue repeats on the cafe curtains on the window above the sink.

Gorgeous Gray-Brown 
Fresh color can give a room a hearty update -- without having to be bright and in-your-face. For colors with restrained impact, try saturated neutrals. A moody gray-brown island adds a sense of intrigue, taking center stage in this neutral kitchen. Red patterned stool cushions add a burst of energy.

Fresh Kitchen 
Garden bounty-inspired hues are fresh, flexible, and capable of laying groundwork for a kitchen color palette. With clever storage and a bit of whimsy, the asparagus-green island perks up this kitchen. The color also makes an appearance on perimeter cabinets and trim on the built-in shelves. A muted corn yellow colors the walls, and tomato-red and squash-yellow accessories complete the fresh-from-the garden look.

Fiery Red 
Pump up a kitchen with fiery hues. Red cabinetry frames and a red island energize the kitchen's otherwise neutral color scheme. The central island directs traffic flow while providing space for the cook to work along the back wall. An attached table -- rather than an eating bar -- creates a comfortable spot for homework, chats with friends, and family meals.

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