Bathroom, Bedrooms, Dining Rooms, Kitchen, Living Rooms

Color Pop

Have you ever been to Maine?  We go every year, and in my travels, I have learned that the least sad way to leave a beloved vacation spot is to bring something home with you.  This year, I brought home inspiration!

Maine is a beautiful place.  I use that simple sentence because it sums it up so well.  Mainers really have life figured out.  They live outdoors; biking, shooting, canoeing, paddle boarding, sailing, surfing, skiing, you name it.   But they aren’t spoiled by month after month of perfect weather.  Nope, Maine’s perfect summer lasts about 10 days at the beginning of August.  The rest of the year is a variety of rain, cold, mist, snow, you name it.   So you can either stay inside and feel sorry for yourself, or you can suit up for the weather and get outside and have fun!

One of my favorite things about Maine is it’s perfect little balance between New England and the Midwest.  It’s not considered East Coast; in fact, there are somewhere around 70 miles of usable beach on the southern end of Maine.  The rest of the place is logging forests, lakes and rocks. I think that’s what makes their style so subtly unique.  They understand that basically nobody lives in the perfect spot because no place is perfect year round; you just make the best of what’s around you at the time.  It’s that thought that is why, a month after getting home, I am still so inspired.

What happens when you live in a place that, for centuries, made it’s living off of logging?  You have a lot of natural wood interiors to work with!  So Mainers have mastered the art of the color pop.  In the imperfect weather that can sometimes drag on, they gravitate towards refreshing influences of reds, blues and yellows.  But it’s not always in ways you expect:

This is a great example of adding a punch of color to the rich neutrals on the walls, and the natural wood vanity.  I think this is from Minnesota, but the same concept applies.

Moving to the dining room, chairs are such a fun, non committal way to add color to a room!

The chairs are a nice reminder of how gorgeous the ocean is on a clear day.  I love the loads of natural wood, too!

A look in a bedroom is a sweet color surprise mixed in with tons of wood…

And then let’s look outside, where most people have an idea of what New England homes look like.  Is this what you were thinking of?

If you are looking for a fun Instagram account that has mastered the art of color popping, check out Jackie Greaney:


I just love Maine!








Night Lighting

I recently helped a friend renovate her master bathroom, and one of the things I insisted on was something that naughtily came to be known as ‘the pee pee light’.  The pee pee light is the light you turn on at 3 am when you aren’t really awake, you just need safe passage to and from the commode through the bathroom.  Pee pee lights work for any size bathroom, be they small or large, or oddly sized, where there is legitimate concern for safety in the dark.  That safety can be to avoid stepping on this evening’s towel on the ground, or throwing a tiny bit of light to make sure there aren’t any monsters on the far side of the room that will breath too loud and startle you while you are at your most vulnerable.  It is, for sure, on a dimmer, and it must only turn even barely on, lest you completely break your sleep spell and lay in bed for 30 minutes trying to blink out the black spots burned into the inside of your eyelids.

The pee pee light is typically a flush mount, or semi-flush mount luminaire.  I say usually because, while everyone dreams of 11 ft or vaulted ceilings in a bathroom, the reality is a bit more, well, realistic (let’s think 8 ft). It’s usually the only light on a particular circuit because, again, it’s for cheating certain death in the middle of the night, not contouring a day makeup plan.   And when I help specify one, it’s cute as hell.  The pee pee light is the jewelry for the ceiling in your bathroom.

Tilden Small Flush Mount in Hand-Rubbed Antique Brass with White Glass

This is the Tilden Small Flush Mount from Visual Comfort.  So fun, so cute, such a statement!

Newhouse Circular Flush Mount in Hand-Rubbed Antique Brass with White Glass

The is the Newhouse Circular at Visual Comfort.

Winston Small Flush Mount in Hand-Rubbed Antique Brass with White Glass

This is the Winston Small Flush Mount from Visual Comfort.

Garey Flush Mount in Polished Nickel with Industrial Prismatic Glass

Here is the Garey Flush Mount from Visual Comfort.

Montpelier Small Flush Mount in Polished Nickel with Frosted Glass

Montpelier Flush Mount from Visual Comfort

Lana Small Flush Mount in Polished Nickel and Clear Glass Rods with Frosted Glass

Lana Flush Mount by Visual Comfort

I chose Visual Comfort because their website is extremely easy to navigate.  They can be pricey, but when you look at the overall budget for the room, you are only buying one, so they can work!  There are plenty of other lighting websites that offer similar fixtures for less, but beware the return policies!



Bathroom, Kitchen

Cement Tile

Aren’t cement tiles just SO friendly?!

The above example is actually 4 tiles.

But here is just one.

Cement tiles, also known as encaustic tiles, have been on the design scene since the end of the 19th century.  They hit their hay day at the turn of the twentieth century, when people favored them for a high end floor covering.  If you can picture large expanses of these often brightly colored 8×8 tiles, you know that there very much ‘is such thing’ as ‘too much of a good thing’.  It stopped getting specified, and people kind of forgot about it.

So why should you consider cement tile for your next project?  Let’s consider a few different things:

First, they are ‘green’.  Each tile is set one at a time, by hand, by artisans.  They aren’t rolling off of a mechanized conveyor belt.  Each tile mold is set out, the color pigments mixed, and the tile is made layer by layer.  Speaking of color, their pigments come from natural sources.  And because the pigments are mixed, the colors can be easily customized.  Not every color palette has to make a Golden Girl giddy.  They can be neutral as well.  And when you are done with them, they are 100% recyclable.

Second, they are rustic, yet refined.  Because they are made by hand, there is a slight variation from tile to tile.  The pattern screen is rigid, so there isn’t a huge difference from far away, but up close, there can be chips and texture variations.  Some even have color variations within the individual tiles.  The unique nature makes each tile special, and the completed effect one of a kind.

Third, they don’t make sense in every space.  I scoured a number of pictures looking for bedrooms that had a spot on use of cement tile.  The problem is, bedrooms don’t usually beg for a punch of pattern.  I did find examples, but most were then covered with a neutral rug, so at that point, it’s not necessarily worthwhile.  Most beautiful examples are found in kitchens, bathrooms, or foyers.  You need a large enough space to have enough of a repeat so that the pattern tells it’s story, but not so large of a space that it becomes redundant.  Bathroom floors usually fit that rough space criteria very well, so do kitchen backsplashes, and some foyers.

Take note of what else is in the room.  Many times you see cement tile with subway tiles, and ship lap.

This one uses neither, but I like the way the designer used the strong chrome influences to balance out the room:

Now let’s take a look at some kitchens:

So beautiful!

You can also put cement tiles on the ground in the kitchen:

And in a foyer:

You can also carry it up the wall for even more of a punch:

I love how this one really defines that niche.

Cement tiles are a great, waterproof, alternative to textiles.  So if you are looking for an area rug, or a wallpaper, and haven’t quite found what you are looking for, see about these!


Bathroom, Sustainability

Fluffing Up

My recent ‘almost move’ has been literally taking over my vocabulary.

During the process, I walked through my almost new house with a contractor.  The first thing he asked me was whether I was looking to do major construction, or just ‘fluff it up’.  At which time I flashed to Chip Gaines saying, “It’s Demo Day, baby!” with a glint in his eye.

I already mentioned that I am not moving, but it did cause me to take a more realistic look at my own house and pull the trigger on some entire room re-do’s that have nagged me.  First up, the Powder Room.

Picture a wide shallow room, purple walls, white vanity with cabriole legs, oil rubbed bronze plumbing and lights.  Just generally dated.  Now I have a decision to make, am I going to sledge hammer and start over, or is there something here that I can use?  I am so glad I went conservative, because I was actually able to re-use almost everything.  Is it perfect?  No.  But did I have it done in a weekend with almost zero mess and maximum impact, and I am over the moon with how it turned out?  Totally!

I think it’s important to take a look at a space and re-imagine how we want it to function, then how we want it to look.  But then we need to take a third step and examine what is actually working for us, just may need some tweaking, or ‘fluffing’.   Because the wall paper guy had the light fixtures off to paper around the space, I wanted to try spraying them gold.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Spray paint is $5, let’s try!  So I cleaned them well, sprayed them, and they look totally different!

So the wallpaper was up, the lights re-installed, I just needed matching gold bath hardware.  I couldn’t find anything I liked, and I was annoyed with my dog because he figured out fast that the toilet paper was just sitting on the back of the toilet, and could be shredded whenever he felt like it.  I was looking at my old hardware, wishing it came in gold, when I remembered my handy spray paint and again asked myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”  Simultaneously, I had decided that we needed color in there, and painted the vanity a glossy Ben Moore Clover Green.  Already in paint mode, I got out my paint can and went to work.

The next day, faster than Amazon Prime, my gold hardware was installed, and my powder room complete.

I wanted to showcase this because not all dramatic change has to be ‘new new new’ or require major construction.  In this case, I did buy a new mirror (the old one was just a custom cut rectangle stuck to the wall), and it’s always in your best interest to have a professional hang wall paper.  But that took a day, with no dust, and it is beautiful.  The rest was ‘fluffing up’, and I have to admit, I am so happy with it!  (One item I will admit, I do not love the counter top.  So I am going to teach myself how to set a concrete one.  What’s the worst that can happen?)

Powder Room