Thursday, August 28, 2014


Last week I was so busy whining about my dying shutter that I forgot to mention one MAJOR improvement we recently made to our front facade...


You know the one....

It's no surprise I've had a serious love/hate relationship with this tree since day one. Sure the tree is big and beautiful, but it's a Christmas tree; and I'm sorry but a ginormous Christmas tree in your front yard only makes sense for about 1 month out of the year. 

We took full advantage last year and decorated the heck out of our tree. 

It did clean up nice, but even seeing it standing there in all of it's Christmas glory didn't soften our hearts and make us want to keep it for the long haul. The truth is, it was just too big and covered up half of our little house. It was out of scale and blocked the sun from shining down on part of our yard, causing plants and grass to die underneath it. 

So, a few weeks back, before Brent broke his hand, we got a wild hair and decided to chop her down. We did some quick research and were relieved to discover we wouldn't need a permit because our Christmas Tree, a pine, was less than 12" in diameter. Whew - full steam ahead! Brent sharpened his axe and went to chopping. I stood in front of the fence, yelling TIMBERRRRR for 10 minutes until finally.....

Down she went.....


Once the tree was officially chopped we drug it in pieces into the woods behind our house. Besides getting sap all over our hands, it was pretty awesome because the tree literally swept our driveway! Next, Brent started digging up the root, which was pretty intense. The roots were much deeper than he had anticipated and every time he thought he had reached the end, another ugly root would rear it's ugly head. The whole process took a while, but he finally got it all out and we filled the hole back up with the dirt, covered the space with mulch and it was as if the tree had never been there. 

We've long talked about what we would put in place of the tree, should we ever decide to remove it. We were sure the front of our house would look weird with the giant tree gone, and would be begging for another large piece of greenery in its place; but surprisingly it doesn't. Our curb appeal improved immediately and the house and  yard feel more proportionate to each other. As of now, we plan to keep the plants in this front bed low, so as not to block the house. 

This is the part of the post I would typically show you a shiny "after" shot, but I'm going to wait until next week because THIS WEEKEND WE ARE PUTTING UP OUR NEW SHUTTERS! But for now, just know a de-Christmas-tree-afied yard is a happy yard!

All photos are my own. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shambles & Shutters

                                                                a state of total disorder.

This word perfectly describes our life right now. They say, "When it rains it pours right?" Well, if that's true consider Brent and I drenched! This summer has been expensive with one fiasco after the other. It all started when my car overheated without my knowing, causing the head gasket to blow and things to melt under the hood. That took a while to fix so during that time Brent and I shared his truck. Yep, little Mrs. designer was tooling around Atlanta in a big ol' truck. It wasn't two weeks after FINALLY getting my car back that the air conditioner just stopped working. Poof, just like that. No air. In Atlanta. In August. Kill me.

::Insert picture of wet rat::

Whatever image comes to mind when you think of a "wet rat" slap my face on there and that is what I looked like the day the air went out on my way to an afternoon full of appointments. So chic'....

Back to the car shop went my car and back to sharing a truck went Brent and I. But it was OK because we had a nice long weekend planned in Highlands, NC with Brent's high school friends. Three days in the mountains to relax and have fun. All was right in the world until Brent broke his hand. Yep, he broke his hand sliding down a waterfall. He's right handed, so naturally it was his right hand that he injured. Upon returning home, injured and deflated, we realized our upstairs air conditioner wasn't working. Again, it's August in the South so one can live with no air conditioner for about 5 minutes before you are beyond miserable. We had a technician out and long story short, ended up having to bite the bullet and replace the whole unit. You can imagine how happy this made us (lie).

Oooooh, the joys of home owner$hip.

But we were done with our bad luck. We had to be. They say bad things come in three's, so with our third disaster behind us we just knew we were on our way to happier, less expensive times. 

We plan, God laughs right? Days later I walked outside and this is what I saw...

 One of our shutters had completely fallen a part. It was in shambles, just like our life.

Luckily we only have shutters on the front of our house so replacing isn't the end of the world, it just felt like the cherry on top of life as we know it right now. Shutters remind me a lot of eyebrows; you don't  really notice them until they get a bad wax and then it's like " WHOA, what happened there?!" This one busted shutter changes the look of our whole house for the ugly. So getting this situation fixed fast was a must! Of course, like all things when you set out to change/replace something and really start digging in to what you want to do, you realize there are options. Lots and lots of options...

This option is essentially what we have now. A classic shutter - simple, yet sophisticated. If we decide to go back with this option we have to choose between wood shutters like we have now or vinyl shutters sold at Home Depot. The vinyl option is cheaper and may hold up better, but there's something about real wood that I really like. Probably because real wood is more expensive and I just haven't spent enough money lately so I'm feeling the itch to splurge (lie).

These shutters have a very farm house chic vibe' and is something we could probably DIY. I see this shutter style a lot and I like it however, we are not sure if this look is too casual and current/trendy for our 1944 bungalow.

These paneled shutters are also interesting to me. I like the classic look in addition to the fact that you don't see this style as often. I could see these shutters working for our house and I believe there is a vinyl version available at the big box stores in case we want to go with a non-wood option.

Decisions, decisions....

I'm happy to report that things are on the up and up. We are currently car shopping (yay!) Brent is becoming ambidextrous (something to add to his many talents) and I have some fresh new shutters to look forward to. Now if I could only decide which way to go....what do you guys think? Option 1, 2 or 3?

P.S. Thanks for listening reading through my whining. I have to say, blogging about your woes is good therapy, but I promise not to make habit out of it! ;)

Unless otherwise noted all photos are from google search.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

HGTV Urban Oasis 2014

BIG NEWS! This year HGTV has chosen Atlanta as the home for their Urban Oasis Giveaway!

Bigger (in my world) news??? Bell Kitchen & Bath Studios  (the company I work for) provided a lot of the cabinetry in the space including the Kitchen, Living Room, Powder Room Vestibule, Master Bath and Master Wet Bar! The 2,000 square foot, 2 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath unit is located on the 37th floor of the Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta which sits right on Peachtree Road in the heart of Buckhead. 

The Mandarin is a luxurious place with fine finishes and beautiful views. This unit is no exception, with a nearly 300 sq. ft terrace balcony overlooking Stone Mountain. This furnished unit is part of a grand prize package valued at over $1 Million dollars to be awarded to a lucky winner this Fall!

This project has been top secret for a while, so we were very excited to see the press release from HGTV so we could share the news with everyone. Stay tuned as I'm sure more contest info and photographs of the finished space will be coming out soon!

All photos are from HGTV's website. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

White Marble - 1 Year Later

As many of you know, updating elements of your home can be an intense process similar to a game of domino's. Typically one decision leads to another, and so on and so on. During the 5 months between the time we purchased our home and the time we moved in we were in a WHIRLWIND. Smack dab in the middle of wedding planning and house renovations - things were crazy!  We spent nearly every moment we were not sleeping, eating or working, at the house getting it move-in ready. We had about 100 balls in the air and were making decisions left and right - hoping for the best. So, 16 months later I thought it might be fun to visit some of the selections we made and discuss whether or not we feel we made the right decision. And maybe more importantly, if given the opportunity would we do it again?
The first topic - White Marble. 

 Brent and I chose white marble for our kitchen and downstairs bath countertops. 


While we did have a lot going on we did NOT make this decision on the fly. Countertops are not cheap so we really considered the options - read all about the selection process here.  As a designer I knew all about marble and it's porous ways. However, I was also very much aware of the unique beauty marble has to offer. At the 11th hour we finally felt comfortable biting the bullet and buying the marble slabs we loved after the nice people at Construction Resources introduced us to a 15 year sealer from DuPont that protects marble from food and drink stains.

Photo from Google. 
DuPont's StoneTech Sealer was applied right after the tops were installed and has worked like a charm. We have definitely put it to the test by simply living our lives. Brent loves to cook and we've hosted many get togethers where red wine and other Marble Killers were present and over 1 year later there are no stains.

No stains = happy consumers. HOWEVER, while there are no red wine splotches there are water marks AKA light etching. As far as I know, and according to everything I have ever read about marble, etching is unavoidable. Etching is a chemical reaction between the calcium carbonate in your marble and acid. Acid can come from a slew of different foods, drinks and cleaning materials and etching can happen in a flash. Basically the chemical reaction instantly causes the marble to loose it's shine, creating a dull spot.

For us, our etching has been caused by water sitting on the top too long. For example, if I'm drinking a glass of water and sit it on the countertop and it begins to sweat, a ring will form on the countertop where the glass was sitting.

I took a picture of the peninsula in the kitchen and if you really look (and follow the arrows) you will see the spots.

Our etching/water marks are not glaringly obvious, but are more apparent when the light hits the spots just right. Because our marble is polished (shiny) the spots show up more so then they would if the marble had been honed (not polished). We went with polished for the texture. I know I haven't officially debuted the kitchen on the blog, but it's a whole lot of white on white on white. This may sound sterile and scary, but thanks to the layering of textures (cabinets, countertops and backsplash) the space has life.

Lucky for us, almost immediately after our countertops were installed we got married and headed to Italy for a 2 week honeymoon. While there, we saw marble EVERYWHERE! It wasn't pristine, it was worn and scratched and etched and stained, but it was still beautiful. We decided then and there that we were not going to stress about our marble. We were going to use our kitchen, entertain our family and friends and live our lives and  just let the marble be the natural, porous stone that it is. We invested in the 15 year warranty which gave us some peace of mind, but outside of that we knew that our investment would be wasted, no matter how beautiful the countertops were, if they kept us from really  enjoying the spaces we had worked so hard to create.

So, in summary, our love affair is still strong for our Marble. Aesthetically, we have absolutely no complaints. Function wise, it would be nice if water marks were not an issue HOWEVER, it's a small price to pay for the look of the marble we so love. If I had it all to do again, I would still go with marble, but this time I would have it honed to help camouflage those inevitable water marks!

Unless otherwise noted all photos are my own.