Thursday, August 19, 2010

Help with picking kitchen backsplash

I am a big fan of Bianco Carrara marble but since I can't use it as kitchen countertop, I have to close for a granite in the similar color tone. I didn't expect to sign up for Kashmir White Granite until I saw these two slabs.

This is one of the Kashmir White slabs I picked at the countertop company. The picture doesn't do its justice. They are extremely clean-patterned and low-grained with little garnets and overall in a white-grey-taupe color tone. I fell in love with these two slabs immediately, and had to stick my name on them before they were taken.
This is a close-up of the slab.
So that was the story about picking out a countertop, and it was relatively painless. Now comes the part that's hard to decide: the backsplash to go with it. My kitchen cabinets are maple shaker in espresso finish, so you could consider it modern style. Since I wasn't able to use Bianco Carrara Marble as countertop, I was hoping to use it as backsplash, though I haven't ruled out funky stuff like stainless steel or pearl mosaic tiles.
Here are a few types I am considering...what do you think?
Option 1: Bianco Carrara Interlocking Strip/Straw Option 2: Bianco Carrara Mini Brick Option 3: Bianco Carrara 1x1 Mosaic
Option 4: Stainless Steel Interlocking Strip/Straw (too modern?)
Option 5: Mother of Pearl (fancy but is it durable?)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Design on a dime - Kitchen Table Set

My brother-in-law is moving into his new bachelor pad closer to his hospital in November, so we've decided to give him our Le Corbusier Dining Table Set from Virez that no longer fits the transitional style of our overall decor. I was in the market again looking for a new kitchen table set (YAY!). Christine's Custom Furniture, recently re-branded to Anne-Quinn Furniture, is always one of the first few stores that came to my mind. A versatile and timeless round pedestal table like San Montego in solid mahogany undoubtedly tops my preference. Within weeks, it has been custom made to my kitchen and now en route to Canada! I expect to receive it in late September, and can't wait to pair it with the Napoleon chairs I painted (read on).

Here is a picture of the table sent by Christine's supplier. The table is 45" in diameter, perfect for my kitchen dining area. I will take more close-up pictures when I receive it.

Napoleon chair made of solid hardwood is generally not available through big box stores, and it can go for anywhere between $250 to $500 a piece. I wasn't going to spend $2,000 for four dining chairs in my kitchen, so I turned to local classified web sites such as Kijiji. Upon first attempt, I couldn't believe my luck that a lady was selling four Napoleon dining chairs, in mint condition, made of solid maple, for $100!!! Yes, you heard it right, 4 Napoleon chairs = $100! I wanted to paint these chairs in solid paint to begin with, so I didn't care much about the wood grain (or lack of it) as long as it's made of durable and sustainable hardwood.

Here is a picture of the BEFORE and AFTER. After sanding, I used a very good and soft brush ($15, it's almost like watercolor brush leaving little to none streaks behind) and a small can of Martha Stewart semi-gloss paint in Chinchilla MSL264 ($25), and I was all set to go. This is Martha Stewart's Chinchilla MSL264. It was very easy to apply, and the finish was very smooth and even. This is the chair from another angle. They are sitting in the basement now screaming to see the sunlight in my kitchen. I will be adding dark color seat pads/cushions to make them more comfortable. And this is the look I was trying to accomplish by combining a dark espresso round pedestal table, and dove-grey Napoleon dining chairs. This is a picture taken from Greenpark's Princess Margaret Lottery Grand Prize Home. While I wonder how much a kitchen table set in a $3.6 Million Dollar show home costs, the only certainty is that my cost will beat theirs -- my total price tag including the table, four chairs and makeover materials only comes to $1,200! There is always a way to achieve the designer look without breaking the bank.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Paint, Decorate, and Do It All Over Again

Isn't that the fun of being a self-proclaimed domestic diva? :-)

I am so glad that things finally taper off a bit at work this week. I've been able to work out of the comfort of my home office without having to spend the majority of the week in between airports/cities. We've also started to plan our London UK vacation this exciting.

Home front, I was able to squeeze in a few small projects during lunch breaks and in the evening after dinner. Here are some pictures:

Upper hall is now painted in Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter HC-172. We are going to leave it to a professional to paint the rest of the open-to-the-above foyer that's almost 20 feet high. This is the upper hall with the light on. I need to have my camera checked as the color tone turned out a bit surreal lately (hint to the hubby that's reading the blog: perhaps I can take a better digital cam as whatever-I-make-up celebration of ours? :-)).
This is a picture of the upper hall with the lights off. It doesn't have that warm ambiance I was looking for, but the lighting was just right and it most truly represents the paint color.
This is my precious gold-leaf bombe chest now with the new paint color as the backdrop.
And these are those DIY headers I was bragging about on my last week's blog. The most painful part was to remove the existing door casing, cut off two triangle pieces from the top corners to create a flat surface for the backband moulding to sit on.
Remember that dining room wall I kept changing my mind on what to put on, and that yellow color that I so didn't fancy? Guess what? Surprise surprise, I changed both! The dining room is now also in Revere Pewter, and I added two of these candle sconces from Bowring. The wall is by far the most challenging part to decorate in the house: it is off-center from the dining table and hard to achieve a symmetrical feel entering the room. Hopefully these two sconces will define that balance on the wall. I am still not sure what to put in between the lights, if anything at all, so any suggestion is welcome.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Powder Room DIY Reno.

Confidence is a vague and tricky emotion resulting from the memory of a last similar experience. After a few successful DIY reno projects at home such as dining room wainscoting, and door headers/pediments, etc., I under-estimated the time, efforts and skills involved in a bathroom renovation. From finding the right vanity/counter top/sink/faucet to buy, to plumbing and re-routing the cutout inside the vanity, to wainscoting, we ran into hiccups almost every single step along the way. That goes to prove an old saying: good planning is halfway to success -- or in our case, poor planning almost sent us halfway to failure. If I wasn't traveling so crazily for work over the past few weeks, if only I wasn't so anxious to dive into the project, I would have had more time to plan and think twice beforehand.

Anyhow, after committing two days' worth time to our ground floor powder room, I am pretty content with the outcome. Here are some pictures.

This is the BEFORE picture I hope to erase from my memory for good. Everything was builder basic, and poorly put together. The laminate counter top was peeling off.
AFTER: Freestanding maple vanity in glossy espresso finish, topped with Bianco Carrara Marble counter top and a white porcelain vessel sink. Wainscoting is just over 60" height from the ground. The rest of the wall was in Light French Grey, leftover paint from the guest bedroom renovation.
This is another angle of the AFTER PICTURE.
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