Friday, January 31, 2014

Equestrian Chic: Happy Year of the Horse!

Mom is somewhere near the equator bathed in 20-degree plus sunshine, and it's been an extremely busy week for me at work, so I don't actually sense too much of the holiday spirit around me. However through phones calls and texts from friends and family, I was reminded that today is the first day of the Chinese New Year - Year of the Horse.

My mom was born in a Year of the Horse, and every bit about the traits of this zodiac is true on her: honest, genuine, easy-going, friendly, animated, active and energetic, and they have a straightforward and positive attitude towards life. They are known for their communication skills and are exceedingly witty. I am a Dragon, and it is said that Dragon and Horse together represent high energy. Therefore, this is going to be a good year for Dragon in both health and wealth - thanks Mom! 

I have every intent to bring a bit of equestrian chic into my house this year. 

Clockwise from top left:
Blue zebra plate: Smiling Planet.
Seahorse brass bookends: Indigo Chapters.
Carousel Horse Pillow: KalstekPhotography Etsy.
Large ceramic horse: Jonathan Adler.
Horse in Snow: love this energetic oil paintings by Laurie Pace. I've been following a daily art blog for-ever. 
A little vintage and fun horse rocker made of brass: hodihomedecor Etsy.
Jackson Square Andrew Jackson Monument in New Orleans: photo by yours truly.
Photo by ApplesAndOats Etsy. 
I am really digging this horse shoe knuckle ring by LETTERSEARRING on Etsy. 

Have a great weekend everyone! And Happy Year of the Horse!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How To Choose A Kitchen Faucet (Design Blogger Edition)

I am sure you have come across similar topics way too many times, and I am sure a lot that I have to say has been said before. Consider this the kitchen faucet guide, a design blogger edition. Was my old kitchen faucet broken? No. Was the style no longer working with the kitchen? No. Believe it or not, key reasons for the replacement can be as trivia as the angle of the arc and the pullout spray. 

For the replaced faucet, I chose the Moen's Arbor One-Handle Kitchen Faucet in classic stainless steel (product code 7594CSL). 

Here are the aspects I would consider when choosing a kitchen faucet, or my F.H.H.S.S.P. formula. 

There are brass, antiqued brass, bronze, aged bronze, polished nickel, satin nickel, chrome, stainless steel and other painted finishes (like glossy white or black) to choose from. The rule of thumb has been to choose a consistent finish throughout the kitchen (or bathroom) for a more cohesive look.

Picture below: my new Moen's Arbor kitchen faucet

It just so happens that I have the euro bar pulls in the same stainless steel finish as the new faucet, a lucky coincidence. But really, I think it's about time people break the "same finish" rule. For example, if you really want your faucet to stand out, you could pick a trendy brass finish faucet as a statement piece; while the rest of your kitchen appliances and handles can be in a different finish. It is however important to keep the finish consistent in the same *zone* - if you have a drinking water faucet and a soap dispenser like I do, then you probably would want to keep them all in the same finish. The same goes to the styles.

If you are replacing an existing faucet, the fastest and cheapest way is to choose a new one that requires the same number of holes. You can go from a one-hole to a three/four-hole one (4th hole for a separate sprayer), but it's a lot more difficult to go the other way around. Unless, you change the countertop, or use a cover plate to cover up the extra holes. I personally would prefer not to use a cover plate because it only cheapened the look of the faucet for me.

Typical kitchen faucets have either one handle that rotates to choose a water temperature/volume or two handles for mixing hot and cold water. Lever taps are often easiest to manipulate, and I like the flexibility of using one hand or elbow action so I opt for the one-handle option.

The style of the handle also matters. Although single-handle faucet tends to look more contemporary and two-handle is often more traditional, the style of the handle and spray head often sets the tone. My kitchen can go either way so I chose a more transitional one.

Some people would add a separate sprayer for hard-to-reach corners of the sink, but most of the faucets these days come with a pullout spray to save countertop space.

The pullout spray relies on simple physics to retract and dock, like Moen's Reflex Pulldown System. The location of the weight kit (see the red circle in the picture below) determines how fast the spray hose retracts - the closer it is to the counter, the faster the hose retracts - simple physics.

I even took a quick video to show you how the Reflex works - this is really handy when both of your hands are occupied which is often the case when you are in the kitchen. 

Size of the sink that is. Now this I learnt the hard way. It is one of the key reasons to prompt me to replace our faucet.

I have a large double sink (30" x 17") and the old faucet could barely reach a 1/3 of it. I always had to lean forward to wash anything, like that's really great for someone with constant back aches. The picture below shows you my old faucet. The spray head faces straight down which sends the water stream down the same direction.

And look at the angular arc of the new one - the 30-degree angle makes all the difference. It sends the water stream closer to me, and that means 1. instead of I reaching out for water the water comes to me; 2. it projects the water closer to the four far corners so cleaning the sink itself gets easier.

Another aspect you should consider is what you wash in the sink. If you wash a large number of bulky pots and pans, you would want to choose a faucet with a tall arc neck to give you the clearance you need.

If money was no object, I am sure you could choose whatever faucet that offers us the best F.H.H.S.S. Fortunately, there are a lot of kitchen faucets in the $300-500 range that offer all the above. Faucet is one of the most used element in a kitchen, so don't cheap out on it.

*This is a sponsored post.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TV Gallery Wall and Credenza

I have this not so attractive wall in my living room which I've been trying to put off dealing with. I am not the most friendly person in the morning, so in order for my day to start right I absolutely need to have my morning tea and watch my morning news, alone. So as much as I want my living room to look picture perfect and magazine-worthy, I need the TV to stay. We purchased this TV from gazillion years ago when people were still happy with the chunky black boxes, so understandably it's dated by today's standards when LED/3D TVs are bigger, thinner, lighter and more colourful. That media console was from EQ3, again purchased from two houses ago. 

So enter my latest gig, #projecttvgallerywall (did I just use a hashtag?! You know I am like my grandma who doesn't Tweet or Instagram right?!), which involves prettying up the TV wall and replacing the TV and the media console. I am not sure yet if I want to mount the new TV on the wall because cutting huge holes in the wall makes me really nervous; plus I can be indecisive so what if I need to reshuffle the layout in the future? 

This is the overall aesthetics of my living room - I can't quite put a style on it, so let's just call it eclectic. One type of furniture I am yet to introduce into my house is the mid-century modern wood furniture, most specifically, those with crisp sweeping lines and sharp geometric shapes. I had always thought it would be difficult to pair them with furniture and decor of other styles. But lately I am really drawn to the warmth of the walnut or teak wood tone of mid-century mod. This is also a great way for me to embrace something new out of my comfort zone. 

So here are a few walnut/teak credenzas that caught my eye. I am going to need a much shorter one though because the TV wall is only 3/4. There is a decent selection on Etsy but unfortunately most of the listings are in the States so having a large piece of furniture shipped all the way across the border doesn't make much economic sense. 
Etsy SelectMidCentury 
Etsy SelectMidCentury

If this console was not as tall, it would've been my number one choice. 
Quartersawn Black Walnut Credenza

This would've been perfect if it was 15" shorter. 

West Elm has this Mid-Century Media Console that seems to be the right size and style, however, it doesn't have open shelves and I don't like the flare/angular legs. Is it really so hard to find a mid-century style walnut or teak media console in the right size, with middle open shelves, and straight square legs? You betcha! So my search continues. I need to curb the urge to explore custom furniture again - it's so much fun to go custom but it's not cheap. 

Now onto the TV gallery wall. Here are some of my inspirations. I will probably go for a less busier arrangement due to the size of my wall. 

Burlap and Lace Blog

One Kings Lane 

TidbitsTwine: love the black white gallery.

Sarah Richardson: clean, organized and a TV on a stand! 

So do you think a mid-century modern credenza will work as a media console in my living room, or is it too much of a style clash? Would you design a gallery wall around your TV to make your TV blend in? 

Friday, January 24, 2014

She Did It Again!

Happy Friday! Today is a good day my friend. My Mom just surprised me with this ultimate beauty - this super luxe drool-worthy Hermes Avalon cashmere blanket! Remember she also gave me this pair of gorgeous crystal obelisks just because she was cleaning up her house?! I love this woman! You can see I am all giggly right?

I can think of so many places to use it in my house, like on a couch similar to Tommy Smythe's. 

Or spread it at foot of bed. 

Or somewhere it becomes a showpiece?
Jennifer Ferreira for Canadian House and Home
Have a great weekend everyone!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pink Valentine

I don't feel super excited about Valentine's Day. It's not because I don't love or feel loved - I just don't like all the commercial gimmicks, or see people use this holiday as a way to gauge/show off personal worth or the commitment of their partner. That said, it wouldn't be so bad if I was surprised with these pink goodies either. You know how much I love pink! 

Clockwise from top left: 
  • COACH Mini Boyfriend Watch Breast Cancer Awareness: pretty with a good cause.
  • Cara Accessories Love Bracelet via Indigo: sold out online and mostly in store. I am still trying to hunt down one. 
  • IVANKA TRUMP Toulouse Earrings with Pink Opal Black Diamonds.
  • Indigo Expressions Pillow – Love Letter, Macaroon.
  • Cara Accessories Large Flower Headband via Indigo. 
  • Valentino Pink Satin Bow Platform Pumps via Lyst: I think they might go well with a peplum dress I have in mind for my cousin's wedding in September. 
  • DIOR Creme De Rose: it smells heavenly!
  • Solstice Sunglasses Kate Spade New York.
  • GUERLAIN Météorites Powder Brush: hands down the softest brush I've ever used! 

Now onto the home front,

  • TCL HD LED LCD TV in Pink: guess whose home we might see a pink TV like this?
  • KITCHENAID Artisan Stand Mixer in Pink.
  • BEATS BY DRE Pill - Nicki Pink: not a big fan of Nicki Minaj but I do like this shade of pink. Her Sparceships number once stuck in my head all day and almost drove me insane. 
  • Pink Glass Nesting Set Measuring Bowls Spice Pinch Dish Ring Cups via Etsy: I call dibs!

You can see more of my colour boards here

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Antique Shield Back Chair Transformation

If you like lots of pictures in a post, then this one is for you. A few months after my initial purchase, our kitchen dining chair upcycle is finally a wrap. I am pretty thrilled with the outcome. 

It started with these antique Lenoir shield-back dining chairs from Creighton House Antiques. I was debating whether to take up the task of spray painting these chairs myself. After all, I did pull off a few decent paint jobs before. These chairs are for our kitchen dining room which we use almost every day, so I need the paint job to live up to daily wear and tear. Having thought over that, I quickly came to the conclusion that I should leave the paint job to professionals, and I can't think of a better place to send them to than Paint It Like New! Paint It Like New sanded the chairs thoroughly, cleaned, rinsed then primed, sanded again, primed again, and finally finished with two coats of zero-VOC acrylic paint. Having our master bathroom vanity painted in oil-based lacquer which stank for a very long time, I totally appreciate the zero-VOC latex acrylic paint Paint It Like New uses. I have no doubt that these chairs will survive our use and abuse for years to come. You can read more about Paint It Like New's process here and here

My upholstery guy was very thoughtful to preserve this original Lenoir label for me in the new upholstery.

I am also pleased with my decision to go with Faux Ostrich vinyl fabric from Discounted Designer Fabrics (thank you Tim from Design Maze for the positive reinforcement).

This is the Shield Back. Paint It Like New does live up to their company name! 

With these vinyl chair cushions, I don't have to constantly worry that I might accidentally spill my food and make a mess. Instead they are designed to deal with daily messes - all I need to do is to wipe them clean! 

Compared to wrapped upholstery like this, seat cushion upholstery is less permanent and looks more casual - just what I want for an everyday dining nook. 

The Marlborough leg. 

The see-through shield back chairs make my kitchen dining room appear so much more spacious. 

Now I just need to find a new lighting fixture over the table. Maybe I should start buying lotteries so that I can afford one of these :).

Antique shield-back dining chairs: Creighton House Antiques in Jordan Ontario. 
Chair painting: Paint It Like New.
Paint: Benjamin Moore Cloud White. 
Ostrich fabric: Discounted Designer Fabrics
Upholstery: Donovan and Bev. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chair, Mirror and Pillow

Creative title I know. Back-to-work day today and it's obvious my artsy right brain is still playing catch-up.

Good news on the upcycled antique shield-back dining chairs - they are ready for pick up from Paint-it-Like-New! This is why I like this company so much: they sand the furniture thoroughly, clean, rinse then prime, sand again, prime again, and finally finish with two coats of paint. This process not only makes the furniture look new, it also keeps the finish more durable and resilient to scratch.

I am going to guess this is my chairs after primer. More on them later once I pick them up and send them for re-upholstery.

Now back to this super duper gorgeous antique reproduction mirror from Anne Quinn. I was going to lean it against the wall over the mantel before I realized the mirror is not tall enough (I wanted it to go all the way to the ceiling), plus installing anti-tipping brackets can be tricky. It is a top-heavy mirror so I really don't want to risk it tipping over one day. So we went with the old-fashioned way and securely hung it on the wall. Since it's majorly glamourous, the mirror pales other accessories around it into insignificance.

I think swaping out those vases with a pair of these obelisks, and throw a head bust sculpture or two into the mix might be the answer. What did I say about serial decorating eh?
In an effort to balance out the glorious gilt mirror, I picked up this fun black white Union Jack pillow as a way to introduce more dark colors into the room. Me likey!

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