The Bathrooms: Before and After

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Oh, the bathrooms.

The bathrooms are the one place where I kick myself every time, because we actually bought our home pre-construction and at the time could have done anything with these spaces.  This was long before subway tile and marble were a trend, and when the tuscan look was still going strong.  By chance our master ended up looking more modern than the other two, but obviously if I had the opportunity to do it all over again, I would go a completely different direction!  Without ripping out the tile, there is only so much you can do in a bathroom, but I have to say paint and some beautiful shower curtains have gone a long way in these spaces.  With the curtains closed I don't even notice our previous missteps, but it is likely that if we live here another 6 years I may push for a mini renovation.   For now the rooms are fun, a little whimsical, and go perfectly with the other spaces in the home, and I am perfectly content with how they turned out. 



What a difference a coat of paint makes, right?  I like to call this my Golden Girl's bathroom, because it definitely has that Florida feel, and the paint and gallery wall (which spreads through the entire space) really detracts from that weird shiny tile in the back so much that I almost don't even notice it. 

The boy's bathroom, which is right off their bedroom, was the room that had the most challenges.  It is definitely in the tuscan vein, which would be fine if the rest of the house had the same feel, but it has forever stood out like a sore thumb.  The peach marble was completely my fault, because instead of picking the piece myself, I trusted a cell phone picture which turned out to be completely different than what we received.  People, ALWAYS see your marble/ granite in person!!!  I definitely learned this lesson the hard way.  This was a costly mistake and one we won't ever be making again.  Luckily, we had some butcher block and some paint left over when I re-did the kitchen, and it was just enough to swap out what was already existing.  That change, coupled with the bold shower curtain really gave that space new life, and a more modern feel. 

 Like most of you, I love the look of wallpaper, but just can't seem to ever justify the price, especially when it comes to a bathroom.  I had picked samples and had the space measured twice,  but when I saw a post on Pinterest  about stamping walls to save money I was so inspired that the next week I did just that!  I used a ruler and a laser leveler, and basically just went row by row, putting a pencil dot where the middle of the bee would be.  I then coated my stamp with gold paint and once the grid was done, and two hours later the entire room was finished!  I'll admit not every bee is perfect, but it gives the space a wallpaper feel and coupled with the star wars accessories it makes the room feel a little retro, like a kid who put some posters up over his mom's floral wallpaper.  The tub in there is incredibly deep, and surprisingly out of all the bathrooms, this is the one where I spend most of my time in. 



As I said before, our master bathroom was by far the best of them all.  White Cararra Marble, with matching penny tile.  A glass shower door with white subway tile.  Cherry cabinets, which aren't really my jam but actually look great in the space.  All we really needed was a little paint to give the space a WOW effect.  The now infamous Farrow & Ball Hague Blue did just that, and with some fun art, Kate which I found on ebay and that great print quoting Jenna Lyons from Posh and Prep made the space feel much more luxurious without any structural changes.  This room will never change in the future, and that makes me very happy. 



Most of us have rooms that we don't love, but that we don't hate enough to put in the money it would take for real change.  Those two bathrooms are just that for me.  My takeaway from all of this is that a solid paint job and some modern accessories can go incredibly far and since they cost so little there really is no reason not to give it a try yourself.  Dark gray, navy, and black can hide almost all sins and look incredible when paired with a simple white shower curtain.  The best part is, it's only paint so if you hate it you can always start over! 

Shop The Post

Guest Bath
Paint- Sherwin Williams Color Aloe in Ben Moore paint
Trash Bin (similar here)

Boy's Bathroom
Orange Furniture Piece was a purchase from Gilt, where diapers were stored in the nursery
Start Wars Nightlight (sold out)

Master Bath
Paint -Farrow and Ball Hague Blue
Jenna Print- Posh and Prep
Kate Moss Print from ebay

Tomorrow I'm heading off for a retreat with my best girl so I'll be scrambling to get the boys all set before I leave. My usual Weekend Links will be posted on Monday.  Stay tuned because next week I have a big (HUGE) announcement! I hope you have enjoyed the room tours so far, next week I'll be posting the kitchen and the boy's room. 

After photography by Sarah Winchester

Guest Room Before and After

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Our guest room transformation is probably my favorite of our house, not necessarily because of the dramatic difference in the room, but more so because for so long this was such a sad, sad room.  When we moved in to our home, the LM had just turned one and I was about 8 weeks pregnant with our second baby.  The upstairs room was smaller in size and we knew it would make a perfect nursery.  I had plans to turn it in to just that when I learned that I had miscarried somewhere along the way.  As devastating as this was, I was sure that soon we would be having another child, so I simply kept a pull-out sofa from our former residence in there in case we had guests.  After a few months I got tired of looking at the empty walls and eventually created a pseudo playroom for the LM which was great because I finally had a place to store the mountain of toys that come with a toddler.

I never wanted to touch the room until we had a baby, since at the time I was so sure would happen any day the "old fashioned way" and during the two years of infertility, 6 rounds of clomid, and 2 rounds of IVF, I basically just shut the door to the room and pretended like it didn't exist.  Consider me as the Elsa before my time (that's a Frozen reference for those of you without kids who haven't been forced to watch the film 20,000 times.)



Eventually I just let it all go (see what I did there ;)) and the happy ending is that we conceived our little Gray Gray during our IVF second transfer and I finally was able to fill the room with the love and joy it always deserved.  I won't go too into the nursery design, but again I roped in my mother-in-law to help me paint an accent wall (seriously, I need to send that woman a huge thank you) and at the last minute had the yellow stripes added. I think I might have actually been going in to labor as the paint was drying!  I would have painted the whole room in that navy (which is by Serena and Lily) but I was way too far into my pregnancy to make that kind of effort.  The room turned out better than I imagined and for three years it was the perfect spot for our early riser... as in it far away from the rest of us!

Once we made the decision to move the boys together I wasted no time in turning the space into the guest room of my dreams.  For real. After their first successful night together I took apart the crib and ordered the bed just so I couldn't turn back.  My sister, who is the closest person on earth to our family, lives an hour away and since she was kicked out of the LM's room I wanted to make sure that she would have a space in our home ASAP.  You long time readers know that I decided to take on the paint job myself, and as luck would have it my husband had just had surgery, and all four of us came down with the stomach flu in the middle of the project.  I had already painted over the accent wall and had to keep going before all my brushes dried, so against all odds I was able to finish painting the room and transforming the space in just four short days.  The second I washed out the last paintbrush and roller I looked at my husband and swore that's the last time I'd ever paint anything again.  So far I've stuck by that.

The design I was going for was clean, bright, with a Malibu Beach House sort of feel.  I knew I wanted to keep the stripes so I had to keep the rest of the room pretty neutral so it wouldn't be to juvenile.  I kept the personal effects to a minimum because I wanted it to have a hotel room feel.  Keeping that in mind, I cleaned out the closet from top to bottom and left only some white wood hangers, some of our linens, and a coffee pot for guests.  I probably would have picked up a terry robe if I thought my husband wouldn't have laughed at me for the rest of my life.

The room came together better than I imagined and I really thought it was prefect until I spent a night up there with a hacking cough and realized the bed was far to hard.  A quick stop on Amazon Prime for my absolute favorite product, and now it's just the best spot to sleep in the house.  Proof that you should always seep in your guest room before you have actual guests!   The curtains which remained from the nursery are black-out and I placed our "never leave home without it" noise machine behind the bed, and I'm not kidding when I say I beg to sleep up there!  It's as far away from the kids as you can be so on a Sunday morning it's just as close as you can get to a vacation!  On the wall opposite the bed (not pictured) I had a stunning Slim Arrons photograph printed on acrylic (such a great affordable framing option) and when you are lying in bed it really feels like you are looking out a window at the pool!

Okay, I'll stop fawning now and just let you all see the afters.

Master Bedroom Before and After

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I am so excited to share our master bedroom with you today, because as you will see the transformation could not be more dramatic!  When we purchased our home, the actual buying of our place nearly wiped us out and when I tell you we had almost nothing for the master bedroom, I mean we had almost nothing.  The year prior we had invested in a quality bed, but the rest of our furniture was from a friend which we purchased before they moved for a grand total of $50 dollars.  (Funny enough, with a new lacquered top and some new knobs, that dresser is the same dresser that is in the boys room).


To say the room was in need of a makeover is a vast understatement, it was just so plain and there was SO MUCH WOOD!  After our incredible friend offered up her designer discount, the next few years we began swapping out our well used pieces for some more quality ones.  The room was pretty much designed around the Eames chair, because well, it's an Eames chair, and the overall feeling I was going for in the end was moody and calming.  My mother-in-law and I painted the accent wall behind the bed dark (when I was very pregnant with gray) and after we had to re-do our floors and walls because a foundation leak I knew I wanted to carry the dark gray throughout the room.  I would read so much about how this can really make a space look smaller, because we get so much light in the room and it is already pretty large, I felt confident painting the whole space dark.


From there it was really playing around with accessories.  The art over the bed was the trickiest part, and when I finally moved the skateboards to the hallway and found that incredible print, the rest flowed from there.  When you have such a dark background, colors really pop, as does white so I tried to sprinkle both around liberally.  The richness really comes from the gold in the frames and sconces, and I even hung a few of my favorite necklaces off the frames to try to bring more of that lux feel in.  Because we had such a neutral space I felt like texture was very important and really played that up with the throw, the pillows in leather and Mongolian Lamb and the cow hide rug, which like leopard really is a neutral.  That crazy little stool was a unplanned purchase, but he adds so much whimsy to the space, I'm so glad I didn't pass him up.  As you can see, the bedding was difficult for me to settle on, but once I saw that gray/blue linen that was slightly lighter than the walls... I knew we were in business.

The after photos taken by the insanely talented Sarah Winchester pretty much speak for themselves so I'll let them do just that.  I included a source list at the bottom with quite a few similar items because these are definitely on the pricier side given that we were able to get them discounted through our dear friend.

Living Room Before and After

Monday, February 23, 2015

By now I know that most of you have seen the after shots from my Rue feature, but I'm sure there are very few of you who remember the way it looked before.  I'm talking before, before.  Before I ever read a design magazine, a blog or discovered Pinterest.  I'm talking the real before, like when I thought that everything should be brown and was terrified of color.  Before, when I was to afraid to paint anything for fear that it would decrease our home value.  Before we had enough money to spend on anything, let alone home furnishings. Yes, we are going way back. 6 years back to be exact. 

Here is exactly what our living room looked like the day we moved in, and to be honest about two years after that. 

Can you tell I thought "grown up" spaces should be brown?  It's crazy, I remember living in this space, and actually liking it.  Now, I see it for what it was, the first of many layers.  That's the thing with home design, unless you know exactly what you are doing and/or have about a ton of money to throw at it, you do things in stages.  I can't hate on this space too much, it was just the first layer of many more to come.

This was what the living room looked like about 2 years ago.  Better? Yes.  More layers, some art, some color... sure it's still brown but it's a nice space.  The problem was that the space still wasn't very "us."  In real life we are about as opposite as you can get from brown, and I wanted the space that we spend most of our waking hours in to reflect that.  Also, after nursing two kids on that sofa, we definitely had to make a choice... toss or save.  I went with save and you all know how wonderful that turned out.  

Now, the afters...

Weekend Links

Friday, February 20, 2015

What are you all up to this chilly weekend?  At this point we are all basically just surviving the cold, and crossing our fingers for no more snow!  The Little Man and I are going to brave the sub zero temps to hit the mountain for some skiing tomorrow, and my husband gently reminded me that there are only a few weekends left in the season.  Part of me is a little sad about this, but the other (much bigger part) cannot wait for Spring to get here!  Whatever your plans, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Here are a few fun links from around the web to start the weekend off right  (apologies for the heavy NYT content, but I really enjoyed them all!)

I'll be back next week with our room by room home tour! xx

The most accurate piece I've seen about what it's like living in a city buried in snow. 

... and this one just for fun. Well, as fun as mountains of snow can be. 

Instagram and middle schoolers, not a great combination.  It's hard for me to fathom what it's even like growing up during this technology age... it was hard enough when we just had lockers and school dances.  Right now the LM is in an all boys school and I'm hoping we can skip so much of this.  Hoping being the operative word. 

How one tweet can ruin your life.  I found this to be such a fascinating read. 

Monica Lewinsky's first speech in 16 years... and she says exactly what needs to be said

Love in the time of binge watching.  This is my husband and I to the letter!

Speaking of grey, my favorite pair of stylish sweatpants are on sale right now! To say I live in these would be a serious understatement. 

Bratz dolls get a much needed make-under.  I LOVE everything about this. 

An accurate video detailing why mom's (and dad's) can't get anything done.  I'm pretty sure this is why the phrase "nailed it" was invented. 

My absolute favorite purchase from last year and what I plan to wear the second the snow melts!

When my MIL was in town we were talking about the "olden days" and how my husband traveled to Europe with friends at an age now that would never be considered in these modern times.  An article discussing just this.  I'd like to think I'm somewhere between helicopter, and free-range but there are times that I certainly dabble in both! :)

The Honest Company is now selling formula and nursing accessories.  Very cool!

Finally, a wonderful post on my boy's room (with sources), written by the lovely Marni Kaufman Katz who wrote the Globe Magazine piece! 

Above is my favorite shot that didn't make the rue feature.  The animal print quoting the enviable Jenna Lyons, "as far as I'm concerned leopard is a neutral" is by Posh and Prep.  Photo credit: Sarah Winchester Studios. 

Have a great weekend!

The Time I Was On The Cover Of Rue Magazine.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to fully sum up yesterday and the truth is that I think I need some more time to process the events of the day.  My morning started long before the sun rose, lying in bed thinking about how that afternoon I would be attending the funeral of the daughter of my dearest friend, whose life was cut so unexpectedly short by something we all fear the second you bring a child in to the world; a car crossing the the double yellow line and taking away the only thing that matters to you.  She was 31 and she was so smart, so beautiful, and an incredible person all around.  The unfairness of it all has shaken me to my core, and ever since I heard the news it's pretty much all I can think about.  "Kiss your babies," that is what her mourning father told me after the service.  

Yesterday, was also going to be an incredible day for me personally.  I knew I had a feature coming out in Rue Magazine, but I had no idea what would actually be included.  I even told myself that morning that even if it was one or two pages, that I should still be so proud because it's freaking Rue! After checking the site about 100 times I left to take my mother-in-law to the airport and on my way back I learned that my feature was up.  I quickly pulled over between terminals and pulled up the newest issue and was floored, shocked, blow away (insert every word in the dictionary) to see my face starring back at me from the COVER.  The cover?!?!  I immediately called Sarah Winchester whose incredible photographs made this all happen, and somehow made it home to immediately pull up the full issue which features our entire home.  I'd say this is all a dream come true, but even I have to admit I've never dreamed this big!  I'm still trying to process it all and I'm sure I'll have more to say about this all later, but for now I just wanted to let all of you know how grateful I am for your support  not only yesterday, but for the last 7 years that I have been writing this blog.  I'll be back tomorrow with my usual weekend roundup, and next week I'll do a full home tour, room by room with before and afters and sources.  Below are some of the pictures that made the feature, and you can read all about our home it over at Rue in their February issue.  (I still can't believe I get to say those words!) xo

Again, a big thank you to Sarah Winchester and everyone over at Rue Magazine!

An Elopement to Remember

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

These days I feel like there are very few things that actually take my breath away, so imagine my surprise and elation when a few weeks ago I was mindlessly flipping through my Facebook feed and I read the most incredible news that one of my former yoga instructors Emily Phillips, who is the most beautiful person inside and out, had escaped a Boston blizzard and had eloped to the famed San Francisco City Hall.  Accompanying the huge announcement were some of the most incredible photographs that I had ever seen.  The boys were running around crazy, I had the tub running, and I'm not kidding, I stopped everything and locked myself if my room just so I could take it all in.  The images from their elopement convey so much love and beauty, and I was so incredibly honored when she agreed to allow me to share her amazing pictures with all of you.  The world needs so much more of THIS and if there was ever a doubt of how magical and elopement can be, this is proof that all you need for a wedding is love.  Clearly, a killer photographer doesn't hurt...

Below are the breathtaking pictures from her day, and the story of how it came to fruition.  

I asked Emily to tell me a little about how and why they decided to elope, and to give me some details from her incredible day.  I'm telling you, if I had to do it all over again I would follow her road map to the letter.

Mike and I were trying to plan a wedding in Martha's Vineyard but what we wanted didn't work out, and we just couldn't see spending thousands of dollars on a wedding.  In addition to that, we didn't want the ceremony to feel like a performance, which is what we felt it would be like with others in attendance.  We had a trip planned to SF, I used to live there, missed it, and wanted to show it to Mike who had never been.  Mike suggested we elope there.  I started looking into it, saw how stunning SF City Hall is, and how easy it was to get a marriage license and to book a ceremony.  It was a done deal.  I love doing research, so it was really fun to look for the right photographer.  We found a stunning apartment in Noe Valley (my old neighborhood) on VRBO which had a deck with a hot tub and a great view of Twin Peaks.  To keep costs down I got my hair done at Dry Bar and my makeup at the Armani counter at Saks.  The pearls I wore were a gift from my Mom, and the gold bangles belonged to my 96 year old Grandma.  I was most concerned with how they'd feel about being left out of wedding, so it was nice to wear their gifts. 
Before our ceremony we went to Zuni Cafe for drinks and we had just enough time to guzzle one down before we were meeting the photographer!  Afterwards we went back to Zuni for a romantic celebratory dinner.  (They are known for their roast chicken which takes nearly an hour to prepare.)  The wedding was at 2pm and we left City Hall just after 3pm.  We got back ago our apartment after dinner around 5:30 and hit the hot tub.  Mike was asleep by 6:30 and I passed out an hour later.  The woman who married us was so cool.  She is 85 years old, big dangling earrings, nose ring, silver rings on nearly every finger, and twinkly eyes.  We wanted to change a few words in the ceremony, and she was so open to it.  The best part is that this woman is a volunteer, she's been with the same man for 30 years, and thinks marriage is "meaningless"!!!  We announced our marriage to family right after with a video we made at Zuni. 

When asked if she would do anything differently Emily replied, "I would do it again in a heartbeat, wouldn't change a thing."  If that isn't a ringing endorsement I don't know what is!  While planning my sister's wedding she has often talked about how great it would be to just elope.  I only know one other couple that has done so, and it's so great to hear from someone who has actually taken the plunge! (pun intended ;))

Speaking of running away, at the end of the month my best friend and I are escaping to a wellness retreat that Emily is hosting near her home in Martha's Vineyard.  It's going to be a weekend full of good food, good advice, and some incredible exercise classes (yoga, spin, barre.)  I am beyond excited, I am actually counting the SECONDS until that ferry departs.  USA today named it as one of the top retreats this year, and she still has two spots open if any of you are interested.  You can read all about it here.

Thank you Emily for sharing your magical day with us all!  I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness!

Incredible photography by