Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday House Tour 2014 + a NEW RUG!

Never do houses look more charming and alive than during the holiday season. I love pulling onto our street after work each night to see house after house twinkling and festive.

This is our second Christmas at our house, but in a year's time a giant part of our Christmas decor was removed....THE CHRISTMAS TREE.

I'm not gonna lie, there was a part of us that was a teeny, tiny, wayyyy in the back of our minds worried that without the big, giant, decorated Christmas tree our house would loose some of it's charm. There was also another part of us that was a little bummed we had spent money on big ornaments that we no longer had a tree for.

First world problems, right?

Regardless, we were excited to deck our halls, so we jumped right on it the weekend after Thanksgiving. With only 4 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, we wanted as much time to enjoy as possible.

Welcome to Our-House-Decorated-For-Christmas-Tour -2014

What tree, right?  I can tell you the right side of our house, namely the kitchen window is ecstatic to finally be seen! We ended up repurposing the giant ornaments we bought for the tree last year by placing them on our garland across the white picket fence which worked out pretty nicely.

Inside, some mini nutcracker soldiers joined Brenta the horse head to add some holiday pizazz to our dining table.

And the most adorable black and gold reindeer salt and pepper shakers bring some Christmas cheer to the kitchen.

In the Living Room, Luke likes to sit under his stocking waiting for Santa to pop out of the fireplace. 

You may also notice the tree isn't the only thing warming up our living room....Christmas came early and we finally got a new rug!

We had been quietly looking for a rug for the Living Room since we moved in, but we were bound and determined not to rush into anything. The rug needed to be pretty big, because the room is so long and big rugs = more $$, plus any color/pattern used would really set the tone for the whole space. A few months ago we came across this rug, and BAM we knew it was right. Around the same time Rug Pad USA had reached out asking if I would be interested in reviewing one of their rug pads on my blog. Perfect timing.....I was interested indeed! 

I'd never purchased or picked out a rug pad before so I sat down to peruse their site to figure out which rug pad I wanted. As soon as I hit the homepage I realized there is a lot more to a rug pad than one might think. The choices are endless, not only does Rug Pad USA have a large offering of sizes that can suit any surface (carpet, hardwoods, outdoor, tile, etc..), but there are all kinds of different features to consider pertaining to non-slip, eco-friendly, low profile, cushioned, etc..I read through the different options and ended up selecting the Eco-Cushion. This rug pad is 1/4" thick with an open weave for extra cushion, plus it is made with plant based oils as opposed to petrochemical oils used in a lot of rug pads. The rug pad comes with a 20 year warranty and is made right here in America. Comfortable, affordable, eco-friendly and American made, does it get any better?

After living with the new rug/rug pad set up for a few weeks I'm happy to report we couldn't be happier.  The pad really does add some nice cushion to the rug and I love how everything stays in place, even with Luke rolling around on it. Because the rug is in a heavy traffic area of the house this non-slip feature was a must. I also love the added texture the rug itself adds to the room, it's like instant warmth! But I think the biggest fan of all is Luke, he loves the new rug and pretty much thinks it is his new, giant, soft bed. 

Well, this bring us to the end of our tour. I hope you enjoyed it! From the Cows that hang in our tree, to yours....MOOry Christmas!

All photos are my own. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

2015 Color of the Year

And the 2015 Color of the Year is...


So good, right?

My nails are pretty much this exact color as I type the post....winning? I THINK SO! ;)

Each year Pantone dubs a color THE color of the following year.  Typically the choice is not too surprising if you have been paying attention to colors you see popping up in everything from clothing and shoes to rugs and pillows. As of late I have seen a LOT of this Marsala hue, especially in fashion. In fact several items in this shade made it on my Christmas List! 

Both shoes (shock, shock) but definitely Marsala! 

The Executive Director at the Pantone Color Institute, Leatrice Eiseman says, "Marsala is a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth." 

I think this is a pretty good description of this color. It's lively and happy, but warm and classic at the same time. 

If this shade has been a long time favorite or a color you just know you will love for years to come, paint those walls and buy that wallpaper, but if you like to change things up as new trends come and go it's always a good idea to  incorporate these new shades into your decor or wardrobe through accessories. Accessories can definitely make a statement without being such an investment that it breaks the bank and makes you feel guilty when the new hot color on the block rolls in next December.

I perused the web for some fun accessories you could use to to bring Marsala into your home.

Serving pieces...

Pottery Barn.

A vase...

Maybe a cashmere throw...

abc carpet & home.

Or, if you are ready for a little more of a commitment, this Paula Deen Porcelain cookware could liven up any kitchen:
As for fashion, this color is perfect for Fall/Winter and looks good on anything from your nails to your purse. Below are some of my favorites:


Nasty Gal. 
Tory Burch. 

So, what do you all think...Marsala, yay or nay? As always if this color isn't your thing, just sit tight for 360-ish more days and a new Color of the Year will be on the scene!

Unless otherwise noted the photo source for item is linked under the photo.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We've Made our Bed

Happy December everyone!

Before I take you on a tour of our Christmas-fied, gingerbread like house I want to talk Spring.

I know it may seem odd to talk Spring before Christmas BUT apparently Fall is THE best time to plan for Spring planting, so we've had some serious front yard prep work to do before we decked our halls this year. After removing the giant Christmas Tree this summer we were left with a large center island needing some love.

We have a rock path, rock steps and stack stone around the flower bed, but for some reason only one side of the bed was outlined in the stack stone. This type of non-symmetrical weirdness became widely more apparent with the tree gone. The bed was naked and all it's flaws were hanging out for all to see. 

We took some photos of our existing stack stone and headed to the "rock store" to pick up the stone needed to finish off this bed.

These rocks look innocent enough, but they were HEAVY. One of my jobs during this process was to help unload the rocks from the truck and then transport them to and fro the flower bed. 


Before I carried them over we first had to dig a trench around the flower bed.

I started off in charge of this part, while Brent dug up yet another stump....

Random, super apparent flaw #2. 

Brent dug up that stump only to find me 1/4 of the way through my trench digging. He took over...Womp Womp. Truth is I'm too ADD to dig a trench, plus there were roots everywhere from the stupid Christmas tree and my shovel kept getting tangled. ANYWAYS.....

With the trench dug we were ready to mix up the Quikrete...

And begin laying the stone. We dug the trench and laid the stone to follow the curve of the bed. Because the bed slants upwards we changed the elevation of the stone 3 times. 

Installing the wall was relatively fast paced and before we knew it we had a complete rocked in flower bed, with no stumps and no ginormous Christmas tree. Things were looking up. 

Next, we headed to the nursery to figure out what in the world to plant in this giant bed. After taking wayyy too much of a nice worker's time we ended up with azaleas, pansies and tulips. 

It looks simple now, but we are hoping all of our hard work will pay off and this bed will explode with color and interest come Spring!

All photos are my own. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Have you ever wanted to stab a deck?

Living and learning is the WORST. 

I mean, can I get an amen? 

Mistakes, we all make em' and yes, they are a part of life but sometimes they can leave you wanting to punch something. This was the case a few weeks ago when we stained our deck.

It all started innocently enough; we were having a party and thought it would be nice to give the deck a refresh. There was nothing wrong with the existing deck, it was just looking a little drab especially in the presence of the newer outdoor kitchen.

Before we could dive into staining, we (Brent) first had to power wash everything to thoroughly clean the planks, railing and lattice all of which would be getting stained. That process went smoothly enough so we headed to Home Depot to pick out our stain. Let me just say, there was ZERO research done prior to selecting the stain. We literally stood in the stain isle and picked something out. If you've ever picked out stain at Home Depot, you know they have a display showcasing the different stains on wood, so you can get a better idea of what your end results will look like. We settled on Acorn Brown, which was a nice light, light brown with a natural vibe going on. Or so we thought...

As is typical when preparing for a party, the days fly by and the projects and tasks, both large and small start to add up. Before we knew it, it was Wednesday evening, 3 days before the party and we knew we had to start applying that stain. We started on the far end of the deck, the part with the swing and pergola. Brent began applying the stain to the higher areas with a roller attached to a long stick while I used a paint brush to paint the lattice. About 10 minutes in we both realized this was going to take forever and was really, really messy. The stain is really thin so in order to get coverage you had to literally slosh the stain everywhere which resulted in residual stain spray and drips galore. OK, well maybe you didn't HAVE TO slosh it on, but going all slow and meticulous would of taken days, and days we did not have. In addition to the mess and the torture that was applying the stain in all those nooks and crannies, the color was coming across pretty dark and kind of reddish.  You all know I'm all about instant gratification, so had the stain been pretty I may of been more motivated. But as the minutes passed I got more and more depressed because it was getting uglier and uglier and the ugliness was spreading with every stroke of the brush.

We forged on and finished all of the railing and pergola that first night. Eventually the sun went down, which made painting more difficult, but at least we couldn't see the red. The next day, we had no choice but to finish, an all red deck was better than a half red, half drab one.

Yeah, so it's not so much that the color is terrible in general, just terrible next to the outdoor kitchen wood and not at all what we had in mind. 

Oh, oh, oh AND as if the color wasn't bad enough it started raining just as we were finishing up so some areas ended up darker than others and some of the stain literally washed away leaving a spotty appearance. Fabulous, I know. 

Needless to say we were feeling REALLY smart right about now. The end results were terrible and we had nobody to blame but ourselves. In hindsight there are two obvious things we should of done differently: 

  1. Allotted more time to this project so we could take the more meticulous approach, we went fast and it showed. 
  2. Tested the color in a small little patch before committing and applying the stain color everywhere. 

We lived with it for weeks, trying to figure out how to fix it, remove it, change it...etc...then, one day while we were having a guy give us a quote to paint the house we asked how much he would charge to power wash the deck and re-stain. The quote was good so we decided to go for it. DIY is all fun and games until a mess up costs you too much time and $$ and then you know it's time to hire a professional. 

The guys came out and began power washing, only to find that in doing so they were messing up the wood. Because Brent had power washed weeks before and the stain was brand new, the guys said power washing the wood to re-stain was not a viable option and the wood wouldn't hold up. So, we decided to have them paint everything. After a little deliberation we decided on white for the rails, pergola and swing. 

Doesn't the white make it look 10 times fresher already?

For the lattice on the back of the deck and the deck floor we decided on a light gray. 

Clearly Luke is a fan!

The new colors work SO much better with the house AND the outdoor kitchen, don't you think? Now the deck compliments the wood surrounding the outdoor kitchen instead of fighting it. 100% improvement in my book. 

Here's a shot of the back of the house:

So fresh and classic, eh? 

It's amazing what a difference a little paint can make, both good and bad. Thankfully we are on the good side of color again, WHEW!

All photos are my own. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fireplace Refresh

White paint is my jam. 

Photo from Google.
I mean, what's not to love, right? The color white is just so easy and polished, not to mention it perfectly compliments nearly any color you put with it, near it or on it. Not surprisingly, I opt to use white paint around my house, but in doing so I've uncovered an ugly truth....

White paint is all fun and games in it's bright, light, happy glory until it gets dirty. White paint that gets dirty is no longer polished and happy, it's dingy and sad. 

I'm constantly torn, because while I love how white paint can instantly lighten up any space, making it feel instantly fresh; actually living with white paint on a daily basis, especially in areas that see a lot of traffic or get touched a lot has started to drive me bonkers. 

Exhibit A. My fireplace....

You all may remember when we purchased this house the tile around the fireplace was peach. 

I painted that tile white so fast it didn't know what hit it. In typical, white saves the day form - the tile instantly felt fresh and clean and the room as a whole felt about 100% more cohesive. All was well until I started to notice, early on that the tile on the floor was getting dirty thus looking dingy.  It wasn't so much that it was literally dirty because no matter how many times I swept or vacuumed over it the appearance was the same. The truth is, the tile is smack dab in the middle of a main traffic path and gets walked on regularly. In addition, Luke, our giant fluff ball of a dog likes to lay on the tile, especially in the summer because it's cool to him. Neither predicament is going to change so I decided it was time for the white to go.

My plan was to paint the entire fireplace the same color as the wall, Benjamin Moore's Sea Haze, but in a glossy finish. I know it's a little different, but I had a really good feeling about this idea. Brent however wasn't 100% sold so we compromised and decided to paint just the tile to start.

We taped her off and went to town. 

Unfortunately I don't have a picture with just the tile painted in the Sea Haze (bad blogger, bad) because it only stayed like that for 2.4 seconds before....SPOILER ALERT....... the rest of the fireplace got painted as well. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad look it just came across a little too choppy for this space. I was looking for a quieter look, something that was pretty but subtle.

So, I forged on and painted the rest of the surround and mantle. With every stroke I became more excited. My vision relied heavily on the glossy finish and it did just what I had hoped - it accentuated the heck out of detailing around the fireplace. Little moldings I'd barely noticed before now popped and the whole piece felt more architectural.

It seems weird,  but believe it or not the fireplace being the same color as the wall, albeit a darker color than it was originally, actually makes the space feel larger.  The living room is long, but narrow, which means when you walk through the front door you can see the room in it's entirety right away. Spaces like this can easily become too busy,  with too many different colors for the eye to take in, especially once we add a rug, curtains, an ottoman and more art. Having the fireplace blend right into the wall adds a quiet drama to the room while increasing the interest and texture.

I love projects like this, because sometimes you get a wild hair, go for it and fail, but that's OK because it's only paint. Other times you get a wild hair, go for it and it's AWESOME, in which case you feel like a genius. I'm hoping you all see this as an example of the latter..............yeah, me too.

Unless otherwise noted all photos are my own.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Kitchen Part 3 - Backsplash

Remember that time, I designed my own kitchen and then took F O R E V E R to show it to you? Yeah, sorry about that! Good news, I'm back today to tell you all about how Brent and I DIY'ed our backsplash.

So, last we talked our marble countertops had been installed and the space was really coming together.

The finish line was in sight and with 3 weeks left until our wedding we were grasping for that light at the end of the tunnel. If you've ever renovated a space before, you know that the whole process goes really fast and then really slow and then really fast and then really slow. It's the whole hurry up and wait scenario. So, we demoed, which wasn't exactly fast, but fast-ish compared to the 6 weeks we waited for cabinets. Then, the countertop people rushed out to template the tops and then we waited for a week for the install. Once the tops went in, it was time to put rush into overdrive and get the backsplash installed. We had from Friday afternoon until Sunday, exactly 2 1/2 days to install our backsplash before appliances went in on Monday. 

We had long ago decided we wanted a brick backsplash. We planned to paint it white and take it to the ceiling. Because the space is small and we already had some focal points in the yet to be revealed refrigerator panels and the veining in the marble, we wanted the backsplash to be powerful, but quiet.  So we researched around and ended up purchasing brick pavers from a local tile store.  

All green space (in the first picture above), aside from inside the refrigerator opening, would be getting bricked. Looks simple enough, but there were a lot of cuts to be made, around the window, at the ceiling, where the brick would meet the underside of the cabinets, around the vent opening, etc. There was a lot to consider and it is at moments like that when I am SO thankful to be married to a brain. A brain that rises to the occasion during uber technical situations like this. Brent took measurements and began cutting the bricks with his wet saw.  Because we have neighbors and the wet saw is loud, we didn't want to be cutting too late into the night, so Brent made sure to get a lot of the bricks cut before the sun went down so we could get them installed as late as we wanted. Once the bricks were cut and ready to go, we applied thin-set mortar, like butter to the back of each brick

and stuck the bricks to the wall. 

Initially we had planned to grout in-between the bricks, but after lining it up, we decided we liked the look of the bricks butted together with no mortar lines between.  The process was messy, but thankfully there was a clear film on the countertops which protected them from the brick dust and thin-set mortar drips. All brick had to be installed by the end of the day on Saturday so the thin-set mortar could set up and dry and we could begin painting on Sunday. It was late and we were tired but we got it up there.

Bright and early Sunday morning we got out the Benjamin Moore White Dove Paint (same color as cabinets and wall) and went to town.

Because we didn't have mortar lines between the bricks, there were gaps where many of the bricks met, as many of the pieces were not perfectly rectangular.  We liked this look because it gave the wall depth and texture. However, painting these little nooks and crannies was THE hardest part. Trying to push paint in tiny little holes, with no drips and without getting paint all over the other finished parts of the kitchen was challenging to say the least. The painting literally took hours and a few coats, but the transformation was so powerful it was incredible watching it come together right before our eyes. 

Standing back and looking at our work that Sunday night was SO satisfying. Every step of this project was fun and important, but for some reason these bricks really made the space feel alive. As I've said before, anytime you design a space with a reoccurring color (for this space it was white) it is imperative to mix up the textures to create interest and depth and the bricks did just that. Once it was all said an done we were SO happy we skipped over the grout because the spacing between the bricks (the black part) creates the perfect amount of drama.

The next day the appliances rolled in and our renovation train kept on chugging along, but that's a story for another day, another blog.

All photos are my own. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Home for the Holiday Showhouse 2014

Is Halloween too early to talk Christmas? I was thinking the answer was yes, and had planned to wait until next week to share my news, but then I saw Target's shelves are stocked with Holiday goods and I'm pretty sure I saw a Christmas Tree lot setting up on Piedmont Road, so I figured if they were getting in the holiday season a tad bit early, so could I.

The truth is, I've had Christmas on the brain for months now, because for the third year in a row the company I work for, Bell Kitchen & Bath Studios is designing the cabinetry for the Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse.

No holiday season in Atlanta would be complete without a beautiful show house, adorned with festive decor and holiday cheer.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this event, each room in the house will be decorated by a different designer. But the cherry on top of this show house is that in addition to the beautiful decor and creativity, the house will also be decorated for the holidays. The halls will be decked, Christmas music will be played and the rooms will be full of inspiration. What more could you ask for?

This year's show house is located in the heart of Buckhead, off Habersham road. The house is a new construction project built by Sheehan Built Homes, here is a rendering of the house:

Show houses are always fast paced and hectic, but this one has been a fun project to work on and I've enjoyed watching it come together over the last few months. I'm just as excited as everyone else to see the finished space come to life, all decorated and festive! 

Here's some info for anyone interested in checking it out:

The house opens for tours Wednesday, November 19th and goes through Sunday, December 7th

Wednesday - Saturday: 11:00 - 5:00
Sunday: 1:00 - 5:00

2865 Habersham Road
Atlanta, GA 

General admission will be $25 at the door.
Tickets purchased before November 19th will be $20. 
Tickets can be purchased online here or from various outlets including Bell Kitchen & Bath Studios Alpharetta showroom. 

To get you in the holiday spirit, check out these images of some of our past Holiday House Kitchens:

This kitchen was from the 2012.....

And this one was from last year's house, 2013.

Now, don't you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Me too...Christmas (or Bourbon...) will do that to ya. 

If you are anywhere near Atlanta you really should put this show house on your holiday season to-do list. I can assure you, you won't be disappointed! Happy Halloween and a Merry Christmas, folks!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Yesterday was The Cow Spot Blog's 3rd Birthday.

...3 Years...1,095 days...147 posts...

 Each week a new post, a new project, a new discussion. 

As I reflect back on this 3rd year as a blogger it's hard to believe all the projects that have been completed, all the topics we've covered and all the life that has been lived. 

Birthdays are the perfect time to look back and remember so let's talk year 3 highlights:

There have been milestones....
Fun facts....

Top 5 posts this year:

Top 5 posts of all time:

It's been a whirlwind year full of hard work and fun projects and I really appreciate each of you for tuning in each week! Cheers to birthdays, cows and readers with a sense of humor!