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Friday, September 19, 2014

French Replica - Limestone Fireplace Mantel Surround

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Once upon a time, what seems like a very long time ago (actually, just about nine months ago), I embarked upon the conversion of the ranch house living room to the farm house dining room.  To say that there have been a few twists and turns along this road would be an understatement. Thankfully, I had planned for most of them.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Choosing Kitchen and Bathroom Tile

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Shower display at Floor & Decor
Choosing tile for the kitchen and bathrooms at the farmhouse has proven to be one of the easiest selections that I've made to date.  For me, the wide range of materials that's out there has made the job easier rather than more difficult. Like I did last week, today I'm sharing my choices and showing you what I found at Floor & Decor. 


When I began designing the farmhouse, I chose to make the color palette for the floors, tile, counter tops and cabinets completely neutral. Since I tend to like redecorate about every fifteen minutes often, keeping the more permanent parts of my home neutral allows me to introduce color through paint and fabric.


I know myself well enough to know that this is the best way for me to decorate. I also know that I like to use natural materials whenever possible but if the price is right and the quality is good, porcelain that looks like natural stone is a cost effective alternative for some areas of my home.


Since I'll be using hexagonal terracotta tile in the stable hall and the hall to my studio,  I feel that it's a good idea to use that same hexagonal shape on the floor of the master bath or in the shower,  for continuity. I've found that using larger tiles with just a few accent pieces saves on installation as well as tile cost.


First, let's talk about my new kitchen. It will be a combination of shades of gray and white with dark wood flooring, a natural wood island and open shelves. The the style of my new kitchen is French country farmhouse (with the emphasis on farmhouse, of course!)  I'll be using rustic finishes like painted cabinets and honed counter tops. I'm considering poured concrete or soapstone for part of the counter tops but will have Vermont Imperial marble on the island.  My kitchen cabinets and shelves will be similar in color and feel to the fabulous kitchen above from Our Vintage Home.

Source: Kvanum Kitchens
The only area that will have back splash tile is the space between the cook top and the exhaust hood.  This is because the wall where the sink is located has four windows that extend to just above the counter top and those windows are flanked by cabinets with glass doors that sit on the counter top. Similar in layout to the photo above but, with four windows instead of two:

Photo: Home of Colette of La Brocanteuse
I've chosen over-sized subway tile in white for my kitchen. I think that it will blend well with my gray cabinets and  gray and white counter tops. Installing oversized the tile will provide a updated feel and proper scale while giving me the traditional feel that I'm trying to achieve. 

I think that the tile on the bottom of the display below would work nicely as a kitchen back splash, don't you?   Of course, it would be pretty spectacular in the shower i the upstairs bath, too!


There are two and one half baths in our home. The half bath is tiny and  is located on the main floor near the family room. The floor in this room will probably be a natural stone like travertine because it's rustic enough to blend well with the dark hardwood that will be in the rooms around it and still sturdy enough to hold up to traffic. I'm adding character to my little bathroom by using a vintage chest as a sink base with a vessel sink and wall mounted faucet similar to this one: 

Source: Decorpad.com
There are so many elements of this bathroom that I love; from the wall mounted faucet to the mirror ad the architectural salvage above the shower curtain...but I digress....

                                                                                                 Where was I?  Oh yeah, vessel sinks.

I was really pleased to find that Floor & Decor carries what I consider to be a pretty substantial selection of vessel sinks. I'm sure that I'll be find something that will be perfect.


There are two full bathrooms in our home, one in the hall of the second floor and one is a master ensuite. Both will have gray and white tile, both will likely have gray cabinets, both will have white fixtures. Color wise, that may seem boring, but using an interesting tile layout and things like mosaic accents or carved pieces like this one that I found will help to make them simple but beautiful.


I haven't made final selections yet... but I'm close. I've still got to find a cabinet for the powder room but then, I'm going to sit down with a F&D designer to choose a sink for the powder room and lay out the patterns for the tile in the bathrooms.  I'm still drawn to the mosaic border in this photo...
                                                                               
                                                                                             and that harlequin....maybe just a little?!


However, before I do any of that, either today or tomorrow (September 12th and 13th), I'm going to the Grand opening of the new Floor & Decor at 3300 Oakton in Skokie, IL to check them out! You know that I love to shop and I want to make sure to check out all of the latest options before I purchase.

If you're in the area, here's what's going on at the store this weekend. Maybe I'll see you there.

Friday, Sept 12
9:00 – 11:00    Ribbon cutting
10:00 – 6:00    NASCAR Simulator
11:00 – 2:00    Ice Cream Truck – free to the first 200 customers
  Chicago Mix popcorn available

Saturday, Sept 13
Chicago Mix popcorn available
10:00 – 6:00    NASCAR Simulator
11:00 – 2:00    Hot Dog Cart – free to the first 200 customers
11:00 – 3:00    Face Painter/ Balloon Artist
11:00 – 3:00    Inflatable Sports Challenge
12:00 – 2:00    $250,000 Dice Roll Challenge

Yeah...that $250,000 dice roll got my attention. But to be honest, so did the Chicago Mix Popcorn (for those of you who don't know what that is, it's a 50/50 mix of caramel corn and cheese popcorn...I know, it sounds odd but trust me, it's amazing!) 


Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this post. However, my account of my experience with Floor and Decor as well as my opinion of them  is my own.  I only write about products and services that I use personally in my own home and it is my policy and promise to you, the reader, that all reviews are genuine, 100% honest, and reflect my experience with the product or service being reviewed.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Embroidered Canvas Dropcloth Fall Pillows

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Fall Halloween Thanksgiving Canvas Drop Cloth Pillows by Serendipity Refined

It's a little over a week into September.  My youngest  is back at school, Labor Day is over and I've retired my white shoes and purse for another season it's feeling more like fall. It's time for me to make a few fall-themed pillows and get out some warm blankets!

Friday, September 5, 2014

How to Choose Hard Surface Flooring

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On the cart: Wood grain ceramic, natural stone and marble
Today, I'm going to talk about flooring choices for the farmhouse, specifically, hard surface flooring. Just what is hard surface flooring? Well, I'm not certain of the technical terms but for me, it refers to any type of flooring that's not carpet.

Wood look porcelain tile
During Phase 2 of the renovation at the farmhouse, all of the flooring will be replaced. Yes, all of the flooring.  There are a couple of factors contributing to this decision.  First, and admittedly the biggest factor is that my sons and I suffer with seasonal allergies. Second, the  floor plan is changing so much that patching and replacing large sections of the existing flooring would be more expensive than simply installing new floors.
 
Wood Look Porcelain. Photos from Floor and Decor

The requirements for my flooring and floor store "wish list" are as follows:
  • Hold up to the traffic of our daily life (as well as that of  a certain 65 pound yellow Labrador retriever) without a lot of maintenance.
  • First quality materials (no "seconds")
  • Last for the lifetime of my home.
  • Low Price
  • Single source for everything that I need with a staff that can educate me about products that I may not know about
  • Eco friendly and able to be installed and maintained with low VOC products.
Flooring materials that I plan to use are these:
  • 4 inch Cabin Grade White Oak Hardwood with dark stain (first floor common areas)
  • Terracotta Hexagonal tile or natural color slate (Hallways, pantry and laundry)
  • Marble Tile in Carrara, Vermont Imperial or other white/gray color (Master Bath)
  • Ceramic, Glass, Travertine or Wood Look Porcelain in Gray White and/or Ivory (Powder room and hall bath)
  • Bamboo??? Wood-look in a dark color (potential for 2nd floor bedrooms and hall)

While I have chosen flooring for homes several times in the past, it has been ten years since I last made this type of decision and new options have been introduced that I wanted to know more about; specifically, bamboo flooring which is a lower cost alternative to hardwood that I can use on the second floor. It is also much more durable than hardwood and I like the fact that it's a sustainable product.

Ceramic and marble bathroom ideas from traditional to contemporary
Big box stores don't  have the selection that I'm  looking for and I don't have days to spend driving to dozens of places to look at different options. So, I asked my neighbors and a couple of general contractors where to look for flooring and the same name kept coming up: Floor & Decor. 

My favorite: Carrara marble!
Just before Labor Day, I went to the Floor & Decor store in Lombard, IL. Fortunately, there are three locations near me and another store set to open in Skokie, IL on September 12th!  (There are also  Floor & Decor locations in ten states outside of Illinois) and wow! am I glad that I did! They've got over one million feet of material in stock....yes, over a million! 

Terracotta 4x4 tiles
As soon as I walked in the door, someone asked if there was a particular project that I needed help with. I explained that I needed information about different types of flooring and I was directed to a great guy named Chris K. who sat down with me to discuss my project as well as to provide an overview the products and services that Floor & Decor offers including DIY installation classes every Saturday, one hour free design service, and a Pro Desk to handle installation questions from DIY'ers as well as professional installers.


I spent a couple of hours looking at the products that you see in the photos. Chris K answered all of my questions about bamboo flooring and why it's a great, economical, Eco-friendly choice. I learned about sound-deadening underlayment and saw the latest trends including wood look vinyl, random width plank floors, and  Carrara marble. I also checked out tile setting products and tools as well as the floor care products that they carry.


I took photos, and notes. Chris K. gave me his business card and told me to call if I thought of other questions. He also offered to schedule a time for me to sit down with one of their designers before I make final selections. I'm excited about this service because although I know what products I want, I'm not always the best at designing the tile layout. I did, however, already get some great ideas from their in-store displays.


As I finished looking around, I realized that I hadn't seen 4-inch white oak in the store. I need to use this material in the kitchen, master bedroom and hearth room since they are connected to each other as well as to the dining room which we just renovated.  When I asked Chris about it, I was pleased to learn that they can special order some products so, if you don't see something that you're looking for, just ask!
Bamboo flooring; Photo courtesy of Floor & Decor
On September 12th, I'll be paying a visit to the brand new Floor & Decor that's opening in Skokie, IL to check out their selection during their GRAND OPENING! I already know that their staff will be great and that their prices can't be beat (you probably noticed that from the photos too, didn't you?)!

Ceramic tile bathroom  Photo courtesy of Floor and Decor

P.S. Stop by next week for details on the Skokie Grand Opening and to see what I'm considering for my kitchen back splash and bathrooms.  Some of the gorgeous tile in the photo above just may be included!

Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this post. However, my account of how I discovered Floor and Decor as well as my experience and opinion of them  is my own.  I only write about products and services that I use personally in my own home and it is my policy and promise to you, the reader, that all reviews are genuine, 100% honest, and reflect my experience with the product or service being reviewed.









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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Final Drawings French Farmhouse Renovation Phase 2

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You may be wondering why I haven't been around much. 

Wait, who am I kidding? Even my family probably wouldn't notice if I was absent for a few days so let me rephrase:

                                                      Here's what I've been up to lately.  

The photos that you see here are the final drawings for what I've been referring to for the last ten months as "Phase 2 of the renovation at the French Farmhouse." In reality, this is the portion of the renovation where the true transformation from "1950's red brick ranch" to "French Farmhouse" will take place.


Over the next several months (probably around ten), 3/4 of the existing foot print of the house will be gutted to the studs and all of the existing rooms (with the exception of the new dining room) will "change places". Through it all, the house will remain a three bedroom, 2.5 bath home and YES, we ARE living here during construction!

Bedrooms will become a kitchen, the kitchen will become a bedroom, current bathrooms make way for a new hearth room. Why? Well, I haven't gone into too much detail until today but this house has a bunch of problems, some of them serious...some, just annoying.  


Things like the fact that the windows have been caulked shut for so many years that the wood frames have rotted to the point that they can't be repaired.  Or the fact that ice forms on the electric outlets in my bathroom in the winter. Or the fact that condensation runs down the walls in the hall in the summer. 

The list goes on...and on...and I've spared you the "really bad" stuff. Trust me, there is NO OTHER choice...well, except tearing it down...which I won't do...because I LOVE this house!


So, I've been working with an incredibly talented architect named Dennis Parsons who has, over the last ten months, "engineered" my vision and found a builder named Dan Roberts who is almost as excited to do this project as I am.


We're currently applying for building permits, and clearing trees...and removing a pond and thirty foot stream that was built against the house and eighteen inches above the top of the foundation...which is a part of the reason why the crawl space filled with water last fall when it rained. Not glamorous stuff...but necessary. 


Today, my back yard looks like this. To most people, this is not a pretty sight. To me, after almost twelve months of waiting, it's beautiful!

I hope that you'll stick around for the next few months while things aren't lovely and there's not really any decorating to share.  I'll be doing a few projects and I'll also be sharing the process of selecting tile and fixtures and designing the new kitchen and bathrooms. I truly appreciate every single one of you and the fact that you're here.

Bring on the construction fence! Let's DO THIS!