Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Fall Porch.

Back in July Brent and I showed our front porch some love with the addition of new plants and planters.

With a little watering and a lot of rain from mother nature our plants held strong all summer and we really enjoyed them. However, with the cooler weather that's made it's way to Georgia as of late, our plants started struggling.

Like summer, these plants had run their course and we were ready to welcome another look for the new season upon us: Fall! With Halloween right around the corner we wanted our front porch to be visitor ready with a look that was appropriate for October all the way through Thanksgiving. 

A few weeks ago my PapaJack gave us some apple wood from his farm. He had given us the wood for Brent to use in his Big Green Egg and pizza oven. The wood came in various sizes, all on the slender side compared to the oak wood we already had in our collection. 

In the name of saving money and using what we already had, we decided to use the apple wood as part of our Fall front porch motif. I really liked how every stick was different, some with random knots and broken off pieces, making for some interesting heights and texture. So, we emptied out our planters and laid a few pieces of stack stone we had left over from the Outdoor Kitchen in the bottom of each planter to give the sticks some height. Next, we loaded each planter full of apple wood. It occurred to me as I positioned the apple wood sticks that this may be the best planter known to man-kind in that the contents  would require NO WATERING! Cha-Ching - genius status.

Crazy enough a lot of stores have their Fall decor marked way down because they are making room for  Christmas items, so I was able to snag a pretty Fall wreath from JoAnn's Fabric for 60% off. They almost had to pay me to take it. As soon as I got home I stuck it on the door and was so happy with the Fall colors against the bright red door, such a pretty mix! 

With my planters full of wood and the wreath on the door all that was left was adding a few pumpkins...

My sister Candace and her husband Jimmy brought us the white pumpkin!
....a model dog with black and white fur that strangely / awesomely resembles a tuxedo....

...and Hello Fall Porch!

The decor is subtle but offers a nice backdrop for Halloween and will transition nicely as we move into Thanksgiving. Speaking of Halloween, word on the street is we will be getting upwards of 50 trick-or-treaters on Thursday night and we are so excited! We decorated for Halloween (minus the front porch) on October 1st. We were literally  among the first on our street. Here's a view of our house from the street: 

With our house all decorated and our candy bowl fully stocked, we're ready for as many adorable 
trick-or-treaters as we can get! 

Happy Fall Y'all! 

All photos are my own. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

730 Days and 94 posts later.....

.....and The Cow Spot Blog is 2 years old!
 Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy 2nd Birthday to The Cow Spot, Happy Birthday to you!

Photo from google. 
It's hard to believe two years ago today I hit publish on my very first blog post. Never did I imagine it would become such a favorite past time of mine. But I guess that's life right? You never know what big thing is right around the corner, destined to be in your life for the long haul.

A lot has happened in the last year and The Cow Spot has been there every step of the way. From buying a house, to getting married, to countless projects centered around the new house and elsewhere, to being selected as one of the NKBA's first ever 30 Under 30 and being a part of the Luxury Living Show, this has been a busy/awesome/great year!  And of course we can't forget the fabulous makeover the Cow Spot recently received! So, to celebrate the ol' Cow's big day I thought it would be fun to do a little recap like we did last year to learn a little more about you, the readers. Who are you? What are you favorite posts? Where are you from?

Let's dig in:
As I mentioned there have been 94 posts on The Cow Spot (excluding today's post) and of those 94 posts these are the top 5 most popular:
  1. Three Shades of White
     2. Mirror Mirror on the Wall

     3. Hardware - Cabinet Jewelry

     4. Outdoor Kitchen Finale

     5. Outdoor Kitchen Part 2

Mirror Mirror on the Wall and Hardware - Cabinet jewelry are reigning top 5 popular posts as they were on the list last year as well. But  #4 and #5 - Outdoor Kitchen Finale and Outdoor Kitchen Part 2 are the post's that are most exciting as, they are from August of this year, just two months ago. Meaning in just two months these two posts have received enough views to catapult them to the top #5 list. Outdoor Kitchen = rock star status!

Who are you, my favorite readers?

The Cow Spot is read on the regular all over the world! From right here in the USA all the way to China.

 Below are the top 5 countries tuning into the blog weekly: 

1. United States

2. Canada

3. United Kingdom

4. Russia

5. Germany

I'm always working on blog posts, either literally on the computer or figuratively in my mind as I run, drive, shower and eat. I've even been known to work on posts on my phone on car trips. I'm a multi-tasking machine, always thinking, plotting and planning. Interestingly you too are great multi-taskers as many of you utilize your phones and iPad's to read weekly posts. The number one most used operating system is of course, Windows but iPad is second, followed by Mac and iPhone.

There's no doubt about it,  year 2 has been full of some big life moments and fun projects, but one thing has remained exactly the same - YOU, the readers, are the spot to my Cow and I'm so glad you have  been along for the ride. Thanks for joining me each week, The Cow Spot wouldn't be the same without you! 

Here's to year 3! Cheers!

All charts via Blogger. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chattanooga Project Reveal

Boy do I have a treat for you this week. As many of you know I'm from Ringgold, GA right outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. After college I moved to Atlanta where I have been working and living ever since. As fate would have it, last year I happened to answer the phone for a lady looking to remodel her kitchen.... in Chattanooga. What are the odds? As I talked with her about her project I learned she and her husband were renovating a home on Elder Mountain. It wasn't until I saw this home in person that I realized it looked like Tara, you know the beautiful home from Gone With The Wind? Except this Tara was literally hanging off the side of the mountain.

Photo from my cell phone.

Literally....the views are breathtaking and the house is beautiful. The homeowners were doing house-wide renovations, and I was brought on to help with the kitchen portion. Of course I was super stoked to work on this project, as I knew my job site visits would allow me to visit my old stomping grounds and pop in on family while I was in town. I dubbed this project my #ChattanoogaProject and tweeted and instagramed about it a few times over the last few months. I worked on this project remotely and it all started with a few conversations and sketch.

Photo my own. 

The kitchen space is huge. Walls had been removed and the entire space was opened up. While this sounds like a designers dream, sometimes really large spaces can be difficult to design because you don't want your clients to have to walk a mile to retrieve the pop-tarts from their pantry in the morning. Things have to jive and zones have to be determined. All the while you want the space to feel warm and inviting, not like a middle school dance with all parties clinging to the walls while the dance floor is empty.

Style/finish wise the homeowner had some very specific thoughts of her own. She actually came to us at Bell Kitchen & Bath Studio after seeing our display in Phipps Plaza. She and her husband identified with this space and wanted a similar vibe in their home. The cabinetry was to be inset bead with a painted perimeter and a stained island. As far as design/storage requirements go the homeowners wanted two refrigerators, pantry space, a mantle hood and a large island. The large kitchen space would house both the kitchen and breakfast area. The whole space sits right off of the living room which leads to the back deck with the amazingggg views. Because of all of the windows, certain cabinetry placements just made sense,  sink in front of window, hood on main wall facing family room, etc..The finished product left us with 4 zones of cabinetry all serving different purposes and all working together to make the space work to it's fullest potential.

Let me show you around:

The above shot gives you a pretty good idea of the space. This is the view standing with your back to the living room looking into the kitchen. As you can see the first area you come to is the breakfast area. For this space a hutch piece was designed that serves several functions: serving piece, bar and storage. This area is complete with a under counter wine unit, a wood counter top (that matches the island, but more on that later) and plenty of door and drawer storage for alcohol, serving pieces and dish ware. 

The custom mullion doors with mirror were designed to give the space some personality and help the piece look more like a piece of furniture rather than cabinetry. The addition of this hutch piece really helps give the breakfast area it's own identity all the while amping up the storage. 

Moving on into the kitchen:

You will notice we have three walls of cabinetry, let's start with the hood wall. 

The mantle hood creates a beautiful focal wall with a lot of symmetry and balance. This is a true cooking zone complete with several add-on features to increase functionality and add storage capacity. 

Deep drawers were put under the cook top to hold pots, pans, lids, etc...pullouts flank each side of the cook top. The pullout to the left holds spices while the pullout to the right holds cooking utensils such as wooden spoons and spatulas. 

The cabinet to the far right of the hood, the corner cabinet, was designed to come down to the countertop. This application is a good way to put a period at a cabinet run. Wall cabinets were nixed on the sink wall, so we needed a way to end the cabinetry run coming from the hood wall. By taking this   cabinet to the countertop, additional storage space was achieved and all was balanced and happy on this side of the room.

Across the way, the pantry is nestled between the two refrigerators. Because the original pantry for the house was part of the demo/remove wall phase of the project this pantry would be the only one so it needed to be functional with a capital F. 

The two center doors open to two stationary roll outs installed at the bottom portion with three adjustable shelves above. Below the shelves sits the microwave and a few more drawers and door to store additional supplies/serving ware/kitchen gadgets. You will notice the TV is tucked in up top, out of the way, but in the perfect position for the cook to enjoy while whipping up the next meal.

The island is a beast at 116" long, but completely in scale with the space. 

Funny story, when the client initially called me to inquire about our services she asked how long the island was on display at Phipps. I told her this island was over sized because it was in a mall and that most homes could not accommodate an island that big. She swore that hers could. I was all like, "OK, surrrrre...." soon enough I found out that she was 100% right, her large kitchen area needed an island this big. Sure showed me!

The island was constructed out of alder wood and stained dark walnut color. The ends of the island both received drawers with open shelving below which gives the piece such a unique look.

Shallow depth cabinetry was placed at the back of the island for seasonal storage. 

It's always a treat to revisit a job once the dust has settled and the family has unpacked and begun living in the space. This kitchen seems to serve there needs nicely and let's be honest, it's not hard on the eyes either. Speaking of eyes, the homeowner has a great one for decor, so needless to say, the whole house is furnished and decorated beautifully, this room included. From job site to home is always such a fun transition!

A big shout out to Tania and Zack of Gentle Giant Photography  out of Chattanooga, for taking these pictures. Beautiful shots of a beautiful space - well done!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Putting Lipstick on a Cow



Doesn't she look lovely?  As you can see, the blog got a little face lift of it's own. A little nip here and a little tuck there and voila, a new look was born! The content of the blog will stay the same but I've been wanting to revamp the look of the blog for sometime. Thanks to Shari of Little Blue Deer this was a super fun and easy process. Shout out to Sherry of DesignIndulgence for sharing Little Blue Deer with me through her blog. So many great Sherry/Shari's in the world, so little time :)

Working with Little Blue Deer was easy. Making decisions about the look of my beloved Cow was a process, but a fun one! The look of a blog is such a reflection of the writer and I thought it was time my blog looked a little more like me. Don't get me wrong, I loved the old look of my page, but with this blog's 2nd birthday fast approaching I thought it was time for a little make-over. Once I pulled the trigger on the look, it's been like waiting for Christmas morning to see her up and live...  And here she is... Finally! I'm so happy with the results.

On another note, would you believe this post marks my 93rd post since starting this blog back in 2011? We have talked about a lot over these 93 posts. Well, actually I've talked on and on and on and you all have been great readers. I think it's time for you all to get a chance to speak up. So, in the spirit of trying something new and to celebrate my upcoming 100th post I thought it would be fun to let you all ask me anything.

This is your opportunity to ask me whatever you'd like, whether it be specific questions about a blog post or just something you've been curious about.  A lot of you ask me questions on facebook, twitter, in person or in comments, but this is an opportunity for everyone to get the answers. Obviously this is more fun the more questions I get, so here's how this is going to go.

Think of your question and either:
  • Post it to this blog post down below in the comments. If you don't want me to know who you are asking the question then just post as "anonymous". 
  • Email me the questions at thecowspotblog@gmail.com
  • Ask your question on Facebook or Twitter. 
Then, for the 100th post, which should be sometime in November, I will answer as many questions as I can.

Sounds pretty fun, huh? Yeah, I thought so too.

So, off you go, think of some good questions and submit them. Meanwhile I'll be sitting here petting my computer screen, obsessing over the new look of the blog. Totally normal......

Thursday, October 3, 2013

White Picket Fence Fixing

Lord knows we've talked a lot about modifications we've made inside our house as well as on our deck, but we haven't spent much time talking about the front yard. Sure, I showed you how we prettied up our front porch with the planters, but what you don't know is that wayyyy back in December, a few days after buying the house, we took care of a major eye-sore, curb appeal killer...let's go back 10 months....

One of the most charming exterior features of our house is easily the  giant beast of a Christmas Tree white picket fence. Who doesn't love a white picket fence? I mean it's so "living the dream" American.   While we loved our fence it had some "issues" we didn't love so much. The first of which was a 3 foot wide arbor covered in rose vines complete with large painful thorns.

Rose vines had been removed before above photo was taken. 
This lovely arbor was the entry way onto our front walk from the street. It was awkward and undersized not to mention lethal with those thorns. It had to go and fast, we didn't need any of our visitors getting wounded trying to visit us! 

We knew we wanted to remove the arbor, but we had to consider what we wanted to put in it's place. As I said, the arbor sat right in front of the house, once removed the space needed to look neat and clean, not hacked up and crazy.  Plus the fence was built into the post of the arbor, so we couldn't just pick up the arbor and move it. We didn't want to start knocking it down too soon and then regret the way we went about it. After thinking things over we decided to utilize the parts of the arbor that made sense and demolish the rest. We decided to cut the arbor down, leaving only the front posts, which would be slightly higher than the fence itself to create the entryway onto the walk. 

 Brent broke out the saw-zaw and a few minutes later.......

ARBOR DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!

With the arbor down we began addressing the front legs of the arbor that were left. We picked up some pieces from Home Depot to help give the posts a more finished look. First we added a flat post cap directly on the post and then added a more decorative post cap on top of that. Brent's Dad and brother (recognize him with his shirt on??) were in town for the week helping us work on the house and helped install these pieces. 

The new pieces made the posts look like they had always been there. Brent added some white paint to the new pieces and white-picket-fence-issue number one was resolved. 

P.S. you may of noticed the photo above showcases a happy yard with green grass and flowers. This last step was completed this summer. The posts stayed two-toned for months...sorry neighbors ;) Better late than never!

How much nicer is this view now? 

While we had the saw-zaw out we decided to tackle picket fence short-coming number two. 

The fence ran down the side of our driveway all the way to the house with a little gate that opened onto the walk from the driveway. All very cute and charming, but this set up made the driveway an extremely tight fit for our cars.  Opening our car doors without it hitting the fence took major control and wayyy too much effort. 

Removing the fence completely wasn't an option. We had just de-arborfied it and we loved the curb appeal it gave our house. So, we decided to modify it some...saw-zaw style. The idea was to leave the fence untouched from the street side and down just a portion of the driveway, removing the part of the fence that was getting in the way of car doors.

Brent made a clean cut and carried the fence away. 

The little gate bit the dust too. Scott took an axe to it and it was carried away as well. A gate is no good if a large chunk of the fence is missing. Luke is smarter than that.....;)

Once it was all said and done, this modification MAJORLY opened up the driveway making life SO much easier. I know that sounds crazy, but it's the little things in life. Remembering to hold your car door every single time you came or went was just too much and made parking in the driveway a hassle.

This new set up works out much better and makes driveway parking much more enjoyable. Plus, our car doors still have all their paint. 

Some projects are big and glamorous and some are not. This one won't go down in the record books as the greatest thing we've ever done but we are darn proud of how we were able to problem solve our way through these little dilemmas without spending a lot of time or money. At the end of the day we still have a cute fence and a driveway we can park in without stress. Living the dream folks, living the dream. 

All photos are my own.