Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Plant Hospital

So, guess what I got??? 

A green thumb!

Somewhere along the way I have gotten good or at least better at plants; i.e. I am keeping numerous plants alive and I have even managed to bring some back from the dead.

This is my plant hospital. It sits in a corner of the foyer where loads of sunlight pours in. Last year I started moving plants in here that were struggling and with a little consistency and a new trick I have been able to revive and maintain 6 house plants!!

I am no plant pro, in fact as late as last month I was writing about my inefficiencies when it came to the subject, but I have found two things that have helped my results.

1. I water my plants on the same day every week with the same amount of water. This might sound obvious, but for years I would either water my plants too much OR I would forget to water them entirely. One day while talking to my Grandmother, who has the greenest thumb around, she told me she waters all of her plants on the same day each week. Seeing as I am naturally a creature of habit, this concept really appealed to me. I have made Fridays my "water the plants day" and I actually do it, and when it's not Friday, I leave them alone. I also use the same cup to water my plants each time, no more, no less and it has worked!

2. I pour coffee ground into the soil of my plants.

This little tip came from Brent's Grandmother, "Dandy." Upon seeing some of my dying plants she suggested mixing some coffee grounds into the soil, so I gave it a whirl and BOOM the plants were revived. I have no idea why this works, but n ow if I have a plant that looks to be struggling I sprinkle some coffee grounds around in the dirt before I water and before long the plant is looking alive and well again. Sometimes, I even pour coffee grounds on plants that are doing just fine, just to make sure they stay that way.

The plant in the above picture was hospitalized for a long time, but a few months ago he was discharged and now he is thriving. My weird ways work and I'm so thankful to the ladies in my life who were blessed with green thumbs for all of their wisdom. Now I look like I know what I'm doing too and that's half the battle right there! ;)

All photos are my own.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

DIY Pizza Oven - Part 2

Wow, it's been a minute since we last talked about our DIY Pizza Oven progress. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we have started up our work again, but as I began writing this post I realized you guys aren't 100% caught up on the progress we had made before we took our winter hiatus. Let me catch you up... last time we talked (back in October) we had just finished forming the dome and were in the process of sanding the facade. It looked something like this....

After that we built-up the smokestack aka chimney, 28" high and it looked like this:

It was at this point that we retired our efforts for the year but during the winter months we tried out our pizza oven multiple times. The verdict? The pizzas were good and they were considerably better than the pizzas we were able to make in our 1st pizza oven, but they could be better.

The issue(s):
  1. It was difficult to to get fires to light which we figured out was because the smokestack was not drawing enough smoke because it was too short.
  2. The bottom of the pizza was not cooking as quickly as the top of the pizza. We think the reason is because the heat was being absorbed into the concrete instead of pushing out from it. 
  3. The heat from the fire caused some minor cracking and heat was escaping through the cracks.  
Brent did a lot of research, mostly on-line and a little bit by eating/observing local pizza joints with wood burning pizza ovens (I was especially helpful during this part of the research process)  and came up with a game plan. A few weekends ago while I was touring southern mansions in Eufala, Alabama and Croix was playing with his aunt and uncle, Brent got to work ironing out some of the kinks. To start he added more bricks to the chimney taking it from 28" to 48" high.

To address the cracking and heat escape, Brent filled the cracks with fire mortar and then rolled on a ceramic fiber blanket

This particular material had great reviews and is specifically intended for wood stoves, pizza ovens, kilns, etc. The Internet suggested 3" or 3 layers of the insulation, but he felt like 2" or 2 layers was sufficient. As a point of reference, our pizza oven is just under 5 feet wide and it took us just under 3 boxes to cover the whole thing twice.

After the two layers of the insulation Brent wrapped the dome with chicken wire in preparation of the mortar application. 

Once the insulation and chicken wire was installed he spread cast able, insulating refractory mortar around the entire shell.

This step/material is great for a few reasons: 

A.) It helps the dome hold it's shape (i.e. cast able). 
B.) It helps keep the heat in (i.e. insulating)  
C.) Refractory means it won't crack or break under high heat. 

So basically, this little jewel solves a lot of our problems in one foul swoop!

At the end of this stage we will be ready to pull the trigger on the finish work for the facade of the pizza oven. We are moving right along and I just know I will be writing the title " DIY Pizza Oven REVEAL" soon!

All photos are my own. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Junior League Of Kitchens Recap

This past weekend was the Junior League Tour of Kitchens and I got to hang out in this beautiful space all day.

Lucky me, right?

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I. love. this. house. It's just so good and so refreshing to see a space, so well thought out and considered in every single way. For those of you who didn't get a chance to stop by, I thought I'd share a few behind the scene shots I took throughout the day.

Charles Willis Atlanta styled the island with their beautiful china topped off by cute little bunnies in baskets. Also note the pewter countertop on the island by Francois & Co. it was a BIG hit all day long. 

Right off the kitchen/breakfast room sits this beautiful wet bar.

Giant steel doors sit directly across from the hood and open up to a screened in outdoor kitchen and eating area that overlooks the pool. However, with a kitchen like THIS, I'm not sure which view is or pool....hmhm...

It was a great day and Bell Cabinetry & Design was proud to have our name associated with this beautiful home! 

All photos are my own. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Adding a Little Cracked Pepper to Our Outdoor Kitchen

We took a nice long break from our work on the patio project. It sounds so dramatic to say we got burned out, but I think we did. Not only is this project big, but it's messy, time consuming and expensive! Most free weekends last spring/summer were spent working on this project and by early fall we were TIRED. So, we took a long winters rest and now we are starting to feel motivated to get started up again. But before we crack into the heavy lifting we feel compelled to correct a mistake (ish) we made in terms of color. You may remember we opted to paint the back fence/wall the same color as the house (a light taupe) and the brick + front facing fence the same color as the trim (white).

While we liked the look, the white brick is not so white anymore from the smoke that comes from actually using the pizza oven. Yes, the pizza oven is functional even though it's not pretty and we have used it numerous times and each time we do the white brick gets less and less white.

It just looks dirty and it's obvious it's only going to get worse the more we use the outdoor kitchen. So, we decided painting the brick a dark color was the way to go. I wanted something dark, but not jet black. After bringing home a few samples we landed on Cracked Pepper by Behr. It's a deep charcoal with a hint of blue. While Croix napped on Sunday afternoon, I got busy and painted most of the brick. I left the meticulous painting (edges) to Brent, so you can still see bits of the white popping out but I think I like this direction....

What do you guys think? 

All photos are my own. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Fake Plants and the People Who Love Them

I love plants but they can be tricky, tricky little beasts. I've gotten better at tending to my plants over the years but I still struggle to keep some of them alive. My two biggest areas of struggle are my succulent wall and any plant/flower I try to keep on our coffee table.

The succulent wall is hard because a.) succulents in general are just such divas, water them too often they die. Don't water them enough, they die. And b.) my succulents are housed way up high above the built-ins in my living room, so climbing up to them, water in hand and tiny boy child wanting to assist is a task all on it's own. As for the coffee table, the only issue here is Croix likes to touch, move, knock off, rearrange and play with any and all the things on the coffee table. So, putting anything with actual dirt and or fragile petals/leaves atop it is just a bad idea.

Lucky for me, I was recently contacted by Silk Plants Direct to try out one of their products. A fake plant that looks real, is not fragile and requires zero upkeep sounded like an idea I could get on board with. The website is full of great options in a range of sizes, price points and variety of plant. I finally I ended up choosing this plant with my coffee table in mind. When it came in the mail I was luke warm about it. The container was a little more country-eque than I prefer, but I fluffed up the leaves and arranged them to hang down around the planter like they do in the photo on the website. Once on the coffee table I was pretty happy with it.

While I was on the whole fake plant train I happened upon some great fake succulent options at Hill Street Warehouse here in Atlanta and at Scotts Antique!

Both had tons of options and you could buy them individually to create the fullness and arrangement you were looking for. I picked up a few and added them to my succulent wall.

Now, the wall is a nice blend of real and fake plants and I'm pretty happy with it.

Gone are the days when fake plants automatically equal tacky. There are and will always be cheap (looking) options out there, but there is a whole world of fake plants on the market that just make sense to incorporate sometimes. As is always the case, make selections for your home that works best for your lifestyle and maintain the overall vibe you are going for in your decor. In my season of life right now, faux plants are a lifesaver and I'm a fan!

All photos are my own. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Junior League Tour of Kitchens 2017

One of my very favorite projects is going to be on this year's Junior League Tour of Kitchens! 

Photo from Junior League Atlanta's website
For those of you unfamiliar, The Junior League of Atlanta hosts this event each spring. 14 kitchens are on display for self-guided tours throughout the Atlanta area. Bell Cabinetry & Design, the company I work for, has featured kitchens on this tour for years, and while we are always excited for our projects to be included, I am especially excited for everyone to get to see this year's house.  

As a designer, I see a lot of pretty spaces, and have a lot of fun clients, but this house and the family behind it are special. These homeowners have incredibly good taste and have been collecting pieces from all over the world to incorporate into their home. They wanted to create an environment that mixed old with new and they did so beautifully. Every single element was selected and collected with purpose and loads of consideration.  The house is layered with details and pieces that have heart and depth. Everywhere you turn there is a conversation waiting to happen; whether it's because of the age of an individual item, the story behind the find, or the fact that certain pieces from current stores like Restoration Hardware can sit alongside elements from centuries past and work so beautifully together.  The kitchen sits as the true heart of the home and is striking with white shaker cabinets, a pewter countertop on the island (!!!!), a Scagliola Stone hood and french limestone on the floors. 

Photo my own. 
It's a stunner for sure and a home you definitely want to check out while you have the chance. The event will be later this month - March 25th and 26th. You can buy tickets here or at the door the day of the event. Our kitchen will be open on Saturday from 10:00 - 4:00 and I will be hanging out all day so please stop by and say hi! 

The full write up and more pictures are in this month's Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine on stands now. 

Unless otherwise noted all images from Junior League of Atlanta.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bye Fan. Hi Chandelier

I hope you are not sick of hearing about our living room, because I'm back today to talk about it's newest addition...a chandelier!! 

The room started with a fan and while I like ceiling fans and certainly enjoy the cool breezes they create on a hot summer's day, sometimes a room just needs something a bit more special. You all have seen this space take shape over the last year, and with each layer we added the modern (ish?) inspired ceiling fan just felt more and more blah and out of place.

If you've ever worked at putting a room or a house together, you know that each element is like a piece of the puzzle and the more you force a fit, the more frustrating it can be.  I had a general idea of what I would love, but knew that I would know it when I saw it. And I was right....Last weekend we headed to Chattanooga for a little family hang-out and popped into one of my favorite spots - Southeastern Salvage, where I saw the light. A 36" wide x 36" high, 8 arm chandelier with a dusty putty finish.

Standing in the store we loved the finish and feel, but we questioned if the light was too big, specifically tall for the room. We have 10 foot ceilings in this space so we thought it would work but knew we would have to hold it up in the room to see for sure. So, the next day we did just that. Brent and his assistants got busy removing the fan...

And then he and my Dad attempted to hold the light up with all of the protective covering on it (for ease of returning if it didn't work out) so we could see if the scale felt right. Trouble was, with all of the extra wrapping around the light it did appear to hang too low. So, we bit the bullet and unwrapped the beast to get a true sense of what the light would look like in the room.

Thankfully once stripped down the height was fine and the light felt proportional and fitting for the room.

We are loving the finished look the chandelier gives to this room! 

There are two more items on this room's to-do list: Find/buy a leather chair (Brent wants recliner) and design/buy built ins for the back side of the room. Neither of these are at the tip top of our priority list so I truly feel like this will be the last time we talk about this room for a while. Insert all other rooms in our house saying a silent prayer that this is true.

All photos are my own.