Designing my Kitchen: Inspiration for Phase II and a Phase I Plan

I would love to gut and completely reconfigure my kitchen, but right now my savings are focused elsewhere! So in the meantime I’ve begun Phase 1 of the kitchen renovation. This Phase is to hold me over until I can do a Phase II gut renovation and really move things around. Phase I includes a lot of cosmetic updates that have a big visual impact, but smaller financial impact: removing the sheet vinyl, refinishing my hardwood floors, painting the cabinets, and painting the walls. But while I’m elbows deep in those projects, I’ve still got kitchen planning on the mind. I’ve been pinning tons of inspiration of old kitchens and kitchens with old vibes, so when I’m ready to renovate, my vision for the space simply needs to be detailed out. In the meantime, I’m ready for Phase I to transform the space so it no longer looks like this hot mess!

Since I ultimately want my kitchen to speak to the age and historicism of my 110 year old home, I spent a lot of time looking for images of 1920s kitchens. This one below shows so many elements I’d love to bring into my own kitchen. Can we just talk about high backed kitchen sinks? I know that inset sinks are all the rage these days and they’re FAR easier to clean than a drop in sink which sits on top of the counter, but can someone please explain to me why high-backed sinks ever went out of style? The splash guard alone is so amazing! Never worrying about water getting behind the sink and damaging the grout / caulk where your backsplash meets the counter? Count me in. I have been on the hunt for the right restored sink for a while now. I love the aspect of the built-in dish drain rack too! So cute! I will probably place mine on top of the counter rather than having exposed legs though since storage is always an issue here at Berrybrier. Another wonderful thing about this picture is it shows a glass hutch in a kitchen. Something I loved about the kitchen when I first moved to Berrybrier. I’m also very curious about what the cabinet on the left held since it looks very similar to modern day pull out trash drawers!

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This is just a sketch below, but again, it really drives home some of the aspects of early 1900s kitchens that I want to incorporate in my future kitchen and preserve in my existing one. Here’s a high-backed sink shown placed on top of a counter with a cabinet below. I’d choose a closed lower cabinet for myself (my cats seem to think it’s such a fun game to play in open cabinetry), but the almost-symmetry here interests me. Again, the glass hutch makes an appearance, here as a duo framing the window. I love it!

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When I bought Berrybrier, one of the most charming things in the entire house was the glass cabinets in the kitchen. I adored them! They struck such a lovely vintage note and as a designer, I was so excited to have some shelving to style out! Within just a few weeks of living there, I filled the shelves with my things I used most frequently (note these aren’t styled at all). Even with the rest of the kitchen in chaos, I wanted to be able to use these dreamy cabinets. So seeing those kitchen above with their glass hutches makes me want to keep this aspect in a future kitchen. I loved the idea of a hutch with glass doors way back when I lived at the Duplex in Portland, so this is a nice continuation of that theme.

Okay, let’s get into some modern inspiration now. I loooove this image below which has so many amazing take-aways! First, the trim color obviously makes me ten kinds of happy since I love a bold trim paint. Second, the pot rack over a small island is exactly the kind of smart storage solution I need in my own space. And finally, look at that hutch. I mean, god help me, that thing is gooorgeous! I love the paneling on the lower doors, the beadboard, the accent color, the fact the the glass doors are sliders. They seem to not have a ton of storage needs however, since the cabinets hold a collection of vintage ware rather than every day necessities. While we’re taking design tips here, please note the picture hanging above the door. Such a cute and creative way to make use of high ceilings! I am 100% doing that in my kitchen now and for Phase II!

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This image intrigues me with the wood counters on wood cabinets look. It feels so vintage and folksy doesn’t it? This type of simple kitchen cabinet feels like it gets to the heart of my house. It’s not fancy, but it strikes a note of casual, antique charm. Should I do wood cabinets with a buncher block counter? Butcher block counters would be super affordable and this makes them feel so fetching in a non-farmhouse-y way.

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My kitchen has the 9′ ceilings and since it’s a smaller space they feel even higher. I’ve alway dreamed of a library ladder in my kitchen (or library!) and this feels so practical for upper storage too. If I could find away to make this work (and be reasonably affordable!) in my Phase II kitchen I would just about die every time I walked in and saw it! The down fall of these is that they take up a lot of space and constantly need to be shuffled around and out of the way. They work best on straightaways, like the one here in this galley style kitchen, so with my kitchen split onto three walls, it might not make sense. But! I admire it just the same and take a lot of other inspiration from this picture. Again, we see sliding glass cabinet doors on the uppers. We’ve established that I am HERE for that! But have you noticed what else repeats? Stained wood cabinets with wood countertops! Am I doing this you guys?! I really love this stylistically. Is it super practical? Probably not. Will I ever be able to install crownmouling without a butt load of caulk and paint to make it look right? No… the cabinets and crown themselves would definitely need to be professionally installed. Not exactly a moment for savings there. Hmmm…

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There are a lot of very formal traditional kitchen out there, stunning ones, and I love them all. But that kind of traditional formality doesn’t really work in my more modest house, which is why I’m looking for more casual traditional inspiration. This image below tiles that together well. I love the elements like the v-groove backsplash and the simple inset shaker style cabinetry. The knobs and bin bulls are simple without intricate ornamentation and the shelf above the range utilizes an affordable, simple wooden bracket.

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This kitchen is stunningly gorgeous and the deep green painted cabinets are calling my name. The woodwork here is a bit more formal and complex, but the hardware remains simple, which I like. I’m also a sucker for an upper cabinet that comes down to kiss a countertop. Such a simple, stunning detail. The green tied with copper and brass accents makes a strong argument for painted cabinets as well! Marble countertops would be a wondrous luxury, but one I’m unlikely to afford anytime soon.

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My kitchen is not quite big enough to have a proper island, and I don’t love the modern concepts of islands in every kitchen. Older kitchens had freestanding tables, sometimes counter-height, but often with chairs. In my space, however, I don’t have space for a true dining table. But an old wooden counter-height table with a few stools that could be tucked underneath would be a great place for guests to perch while I cook. Considering the current favored place to sit is the stairs, this would be a nice upgrade! This kitchen appears to be a bit wider than mine, but has a similar layout with a skinny table through the middle. I love how this table ties this recently finished kitchen in and makes it feel like part to the past. It’s clearly a well-loved antique and is the showstopper of the whole space. Maybe I can find something like this for my own?! It would be an amazing touch. Or is it possible to build something with this much character using reclaimed woods?

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Since marble countertops on the perimeter are more of a pipe dream than any sort of reality, maybe the island is a better place to make that dream come true. A remnant slab could make a great small, freestanding island top! This one sits on a rustic, reclaimed wood base which almost looks like something I could actually build.

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Or, to simplify, there’s always the option to buy a freestanding island. There a lot of metal islands with marble top readily available online. This one comes with shelves for storage, which would be a wonderful addition since I live with someone who seems to own every baking utensil, pan, and toy. As a packrat myself, I’ll admit I never seem to have enough space for my cooking items either! A freestanding island or table of some sort is definitely a component of the Phase I kitchen renovation.

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Then there’s the stairs. I have to admit, it’s been a year since the kitchen floors were finished and almost a year since the stairway was completed, but I never finished restoring the wood on the kitchen steps! I was in such a hurry to redo the floors I didn’t want to waste any more hours working on the steps that looong weekend. And then I just kept putting it off. A few weeks ago my roommate was gone for a long weekend and I planned to finish the steps while she was out, but then I was in such a rush to work on some other things and realized there was no point in stressing myself out even more trying to squeeze in refinishing stairs. So where the stairs enter the kitchen they are still half-stripped, half-sanded; and the landing still has sheet vinyl on it! I’ll get on finishing up that project…eventually. But let’s talk about what the stairs could look like in Phase II. I’d really love to open up the stairwell to the kitchen and add a wood railing instead. It would make the stairwell feel so much bigger! I could raise the ceiling above the stairs in the kitchen so the header height was more than 5’9″ and not having a tight U-turn framed with walls would make bringing furniture to the second floor much easier. For reference here’s what it looked like in February 2018, before the kitchen floors were refinished. This is a screenshot from the video I shared last week of the whole house during this crazy time! That door in the right of the picture used to be at the stairs, separating the stairway!

This picture is my inspiration for what the kitchen stairs could be in Phase II! I love the mix of the wood railing with the painted post and balusters. The dark risers look a bit like mine too, right? This little stairway is simple, yet stunning! I love the details of the small art pieces and open space on the walls too.

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Part of Phase I will definitely be a hutch. Since I have this one I brought with me from the Duplex, it just might finally be time to paint it to work best in the new space! I could paint it black to match the cabinets and then add the same cabinet hardware as the cabinets and I could add a fun pop of color on the inside like this below. If you scroll all the way up, one of the first kitchen inspirations has a pop of color inside the hutch too. I think this is just so fun. And for those of you worried I’m painting an antique, I am definitely not. My hutch is almost definitely from the 1980s!

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So, that’s a whole lot of ideas and inspiration, what am I actually doing for Phase I? Well, I made you a mood board, so check it out below! First up, all the cabinets will be painted Benjamin Moore’s HC-190 Black. I’m going to add reclaimed V-groove wainscoting that I was gifted from my Uncle Scott’s Uncle Dan and Aunt Sherry who live in Portland and work in construction. It’s exciting because this wainscoting doesn’t look brand new, it’s aged and full of marks and history. SO MUCH BETTER than brand new. The image on the mood board is from Emily Henderson’s Portland Master Bathroom renovation project. A gorgeous shot that really shows how a deep color can bring this wainscoting to life. It’s going to look even more amazing painted Benjamin Moore’s 1498 Forest Floor, which is the same color I painted the bathroom that’s off the kitchen and will continue to use on the trim throughout the rest of the house. The final color is Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue which is the color I painted my pegboard which I made for the kitchen at the Duplex. I’ll be utilizing the pegboard again in my new kitchen and I think it’s such a fun and unique combination when used with the moody dark green! I’ve also replaced the cheap hallow core slab backdoor with an antique half-lite door to let more light in to the kitchen. The door will also be painted Palladian Blue. I’m debating also using this color on the inside of my hutch! Either that or a pale, pale pink / calamine lotion color.

Wainscoting Inspiration | BM Palladian Blue | BM Black | BM Forest FloorIsland | Bin Pull | Knob | Hinges | Refrigerator

There’s more though: my fridge (which came with the house) bit the dust in June 2018, so I replaced it with a black one which ties into the black of the the kitchen cabinets, allowing the fridge to blend in rather than stand out like a stainless steel or white one would. Plus, black appliances are back, haven’t you heard?! I love this marble topped island from Crate and Barrel. It’s simply gorgeous and ties in a bit of an old world element, doesn’t it? I’d buy it in a second if it wasn’t over $1000. Plus my dad got a slab of butcher block and is building an island / baking table for my sister which will likely land in my kitchen for the time being. I’ve been hunting at all of the Rejuvenation Factory Sales for new hardware for the kitchen and snagged a bunch of these knobs and bin pulls in unlacquered brass for a steal! I bought as many as were available as I’m hoping to hunt down some cabinet door latches at one of their future sales and reuse all this hardware in the Phase II kitchen. FYI, the bin pulls I got aren’t quite these, mine are no longer sold, but these are equally beautiful. The hinges are from Hardware Hut and also incredibly affordable (though let me tell you, they’re about half the size I thought they’d be! Always, always check dimensions!). So that’s the Phase I kitchen plan! It’s been chugging along and hopefully my pictures can be recovered so I can show you the journey I went through along the way.

Have you ever done a Phase I renovation to tide you over for several years until you could tackle a much larger renovation of the same space? This one is such a transformation since the space was quite dilapidated – despite the charm – when I bought Berrybrier! Please tell me your thoughts on my direction. Are you on board for this look? What would you choose from the inspiration photos for Phase II? Should I eventually do wood cabinets or painted? So much to think about, are you excited? I am excited!

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Entryway Action

I have a goal and a plan and I’m ready for action! This is the final push to get the entry whipped into shape! I have a Galentine’s Day Party planned for all the ladies in my life the weekend of the 11th. My goal is to finally complete the entry way so I can decorate it up for the party! I have some cute heart ornaments that just need a place to be hung.

So, why is it the final push? Because I’ve been secretly working on this for months, slowly chipping away at the mess that this area was when we moved in! If you recall, it looked like this to start:

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

And when you first opened the front door you looked in at this:

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

Whew! What a hot mess it was when we arrived! The entry’s one redeeming feature (besides the coat closet) is the little nook right next to the door. This is a great place for us to stash all our shoes and jackets when we first come home. Of course… is started out as a whole lot of nothing!

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Well, nothing, but an electrical panel, a light switch, and a heating vent. Lot’s of mechanical stuff going on in this spot! You may remember my original plan for this area. It included the following items, some of which are now complete:

  • Get seating for putting on/taking off shoes
  • console or buffet for mail/purses
  • Hang art/mirror and accessorize
  • Paint back wall to hide electrical box better?
  • Organize closet
  • Shoe storage!

Since October – when I came up with this plan of attack – I’ve been slowly getting ‘er done! First I got to work hanging a big old heavy mirror I got for free from work several years ago when it was delivered with a hefty scratch. I bought this 50 lb drywall anchor set from Home Depot for a few beans.

Hanging a Heavy Mirror | Land of Laurel

Once I marked my location (I was hanging the mirror high with the plan to eventually put a console table beneath it), hanging the mirror was really easy. I simply tapped the plastic anchor in with a nail first, then screwed it the remainder of the way into the wall.

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The two other pieces in the kit – a screw and a picture holder, fit into one another, and were then screwed into the plastic piece. Easy as pie.

50 lb Drywall Anchor | Land of Laurel

You know what was not easy? Lifting the heavy mirror up and hooking the wire onto the picture hook. Boy! That mirror was heavy! I enlisted the assistance of both my parents who happened to be visiting that weekend. By the time we hung the mirror, I’d also bought an ottoman! It was an impulse buy one morning on the bus. I only semi-regretted it after. And by semi-regretted I mean I realized it was definitely not my favorite option, but it was cheap. I looked it up to link to it in this post and found out it’s now available in cream! Ugh. Cream would have been a great option. Instead I ended up with the cherry red. When I bought it, the ottoman was only available in red or black leather. I have an intense dislike of black leather furniture unless it’s on task chairs, so I went with the red option. I may reupholster it with some extra fabric I got for free from work. We’ll see… For now, let’s concentrate on the positives of this ottoman. A) I got it for a heavily discounted price. B) It opens up and becomes a huge storage ottoman! C) It’s deep enough to provide seating space while still being tucked under a shallow table, so I don’t need to drag it out to open it.

Progress in the Entry | Land of Laurel

Being quite the spend-it-all-at-once-er I also bought an indoor/outdoor rug at about the same time. I picked one that was made of polypropylene because it would hide the dirt and I could take it in the backyard and hose it off if it got really dirty. The rug itself is also heavily textured with the heathered dark parts of the rug being flatwoven and about 1/8″ below the height of the light part of the rug design. I wanted something that would make the silly transition between the sheet vinyl and LVT floors less obvious. The sheet vinyl part of the entry is 4′ x 7′ and rug I bought was 3′-9″ by 5′-8″ so it covers almost the entire entry area. Then on an IKEA trip I stumbled upon some welcome mats. Most of the mats at the store said “Welcome” in English, but I spotted one that said “Willkommen” which is the German translation. Being the Germanophile I am, I snapped it up instantly and stood over my cart like a mama dog protecting her babies. I took it home and paired it with the larger black and white rug for a modern look. Having this mat inside helps keep things even cleaner, especially since we do not have any outdoor overhang! Jacks was so excited about the rug, he even posed with it for Instagram (yes this was 3 months ago).

Kitten Door Mat | Land of Laurel

With the hanging of the mirror and the purchase of the rugs and ottoman, this entry had a completely different look and feel. Thank goodness! It wasn’t done yet – no there was lots left to do – but, progress had been made and the space was starting to feel like home. Plus I finally had a place to store my shoes (the ottoman!) and a place to sit while putting on my shoes (the ottoman!). No more hopping around on one foot like a clumsy flamingo!

Entry Progress | Land of Laurel

Now that my clumsy flamingo days were over, I also wanted a place to hang my purse and any wet coats (have you heard that it rains here in Portland, OR?). I inherited some pretty reclaimed wood planks from a friend a while back. I pulled one out that looked to be about the right size; its gorgeously beat up and has some paint still staining it. I love old wood (wink wink! No, gross! Bad joke! I take it back.).  Then I picked up some of these painted square tile hooks from World Market.

DIY Coat Rack | Land of Laurel

I laid them out on top of the wood plank on my dining table and spaced them out until they were even to the eye, before marking their location with a pen. Then I drilled shallow holes in the wood to allow for the screws.

DIY Coatrack | Land of Laurel

I finished it off by screwing the hooks onto the board. (Is it just me or did that sound dirty too?)

DIY Coatrack | Land of Laurel

I finished it off (oh my god, why does this sound so bad?!) by drilling holes at the middle of each end of the board and taking two 2″ screws to fasten it into the studs in the entry. The coatrack looks cute and holds my purse quite nicely!

DIY Coatrack | Land of Laurel

Now, why stop there when there’s so much more to do in this room?! If you scroll all the way up to the first picture in this post, you’ll see a weird box on the wall. What is it? I have no idea. Why is it there? To annoy me. How do I fix it? Classic answer: a gallery wall.

Entry Gallery Wall | Land of Laurel

Boom! A few pieces of art and now that box isn’t quite so obvious. Here is my map of England, a fun and funky art piece my Aunt Pat found, and a print I bought at a Museum in Milan. This entry has so many walls, I still need to add art to several spots! This is a good start though. Overall, I’m feeling good, because this entry is looking so much nicer!

Entry Progress | Land of Laurel

A vast improvement over the before, I just have to say!

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

Oh! That before picture makes me realize another couple of quick updates. See that ugly carpet sticking out under the door? Ripped out. Goodbye gross! The cheap mirror on the closet door didn’t even last through the first week in the Duplex. There are some things I can’t change – the yellow brown moldings, the door, etc, but in a rental, sometimes you gotta take what you can get! What’s on the horizon for this space? Lot’s of final touches, but first, a custom console. You may have seen this sneakpeek pic on Instagram a few weeks ago when I was test fitting my furniture build:

Console Prep | Land of Laurel

I’m still working on the final touches of that piece, but the goal is to knock that out this week and begin accessorizing and putting more art up next weekend. Wish me luck!

Do you have anything you’re working on that has a fast approaching deadline? Does that make you panic? Or work harder? Or both?! Let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments!

Styling a Bookshelf with Actual Books

So we’ve all seen them, the “How to Style a Bookshelf” posts, they’re everywhere! But have you ever noticed what’s most lacking in these bookshelves? Books! Almost ever tutorial, every blog post, every instruction manual I’ve ever read on styling a bookshelf maintains that you need many knickknacks and very few books. Well, for all my fellow bibliophiles, let’s take a minute to acknowledge how little that makes sense. If you’re anything like me, you have tons of books. You may reread them, they may be on your to-read list, they may sit untouched just looking gorgeous on your shelves, but doggone it, there’s tons of them! The joy of having too many books and not enough book storage has haunted me ever since I memorized the words to the Velveteen Rabbit and told everyone who would listen that I knew how to read. It has never been uncommon for me to have stacks of books sitting all over my home. After college, I stacked books 3 and a half feet high in my bedroom on my childhood dresser. Miraculously they withstood the 2014 Napa Earthquake.

Stacks of Books | Land of Laurel

Every time I see another “How to Style a Bookshelf” tutorial, I sigh, think, hmmm that’s pretty, and move on, because for me, that’s completely impractical. My bookshelves are groaning under the weight of years of reading material. They’re packed to the brim with thousands of pages of paper, trillions of words, hundreds of stories. And that’s how I like them: full of books. The bibliophile in me wants more and more, collects them even. The romantic in me dreams of home libraries packed to the brim and smelling of paper and ink. The designer in me pauses a minute and thinks, how can I make this collection attractive?

This past weekend I moved around the furniture in my room and this bookshelf got booted out and into the bonus room upstairs. I packed it full of as many books as I could, styled the top, and it’s beginning to set the tone for this whole room.

Without further ado, how to style your bookshelf with actual books! If you follow these guidelines, not only will you have an attractive bookcase filled with books, but you will also be able to store more books than you would normally. Booklovers rejoice! You can use any books for this, hardcover, paperback, falling apart, old, new, used! Is this the only way to style a bookshelf full of books? Definitely not. But this method is fun, fresh, and brimming with books!

First start with an empty bookshelf. The small hole drilled in the back for your childhood stereo is essential. Just kidding! Pretend it’s not there…

Styling a Bookshelf with Actual Books | Land of Laurel

Gather a stack of books in the same color family, you want the stack to be about as tall as your shelf when laid horizontally. Place that on one of the shelves.

Styling a Bookshelf with Actual Books | Land of Laurel

Gather another stack of similarly colored book spines. Place that next to the horizontally stacked books.

Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

Add more books in this spine color to finish out this half of the shelf. Begin gathering books of other spine colors. At this point you might want to pop in a special books you have. For me, this means a collection of dilapidated books on top of the bookshelf and a three volume series on a shelf below.

Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

Now things began to move quickly. Continue adding stacks of books vertically and horizontally until your shelves begin to fill up. Things will move around a bit as you adjust for different spine colors. Don’t be afraid to mix hard- and soft-cover books together! At this point your goal to to pack the shelves and keep your horizontal stacks misaligned for a more collected look.

Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

As you continue on past the first few shelves, you may vary between one horizontal book stack and two per shelf. This helps keep you eyes moving around the shelves.

dsc_0542Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

As you get further down your varying colored books help give the shelves blocks of color, creating a more appeasing and “styled” look over all.

Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

At this point, your shelves are full, but don’t stop there! Add an arrangement to the top of your bookshelf to tie the entire thing together. I used an old printed wooden box I have which mimics the blocks of colors formed by the books in the shelves below. The plant adds some organic shape and life; it’s long tendril down the side of the shelf visually binds it to the books on shelves below. A candle, a little metal house, a silver stein, and a happy painted armadillo fill in the remainder of the space.

Styling a Bookshelf with Books | Land of Laurel

And that, is a bookshelf styled full of books! I love this because not only can I fit way more books on this shelf, but it looks clean, collected and modern rather than cluttered. There are many ways to style shelves, I don’t have anything against most of them. But for me, it’s important that my styled shelves are packed with the books I need them to store, and not just interesting objects!

I made a gif so you can follow along with this step by step as well!

How to Style Your Bookshelf with Actual Books | Land of Laurel

I’ll share the bookshelf I have downstairs later, to show you how I style shelves with fewer books too. And guess what? I need more bookshelves… I’m out of room and there are stacks of books everywhere around my house, eek!

Do you run into the problem of not having enough book storage? Have you styled your shelves full of books in a different way? Let me know your secrets!