Archive for the ‘Reinvent It’ Category

Cabinets: If you have a good enough layout and solid wood cabinets, don’t go to the expense and headache of ripping out and starting anew.  Paint ’em and replace the old knobs with some sweet new hardware and you’re on your way to a new-to-you kitchen.

Appliances: Shop for floor samples at high-end appliance stores and stores recommended by your plumber and/or electrician…chances are you’ll get a better brand, better design, better service and lower prices than at some of the major retailers.  Also, make sure you investigate and act on all possible rebates…we saved nearly $500 using rebates alone.

Countertops: I always assumed swapping out our mid-century laminate for a new surface would be a major production and a major expense, but as it turned out, it was neither.  The countertop came off with a couple of turns of a screwdriver (watch out for built-in lazy susans, as the guts are often anchored to the countertop).  As for the granite, we went through a company specializing in counter surfaces, rather than a big-box home store.  The price was competitive and we felt the owner had a strong sense of pride in his workmanship.  When the first counter cracked coming off the truck in our driveway, the company immediately located a similar slab, cut it and had it ready for installation the next day.

Measure twice, shop once: There are, for example, different sizes of undercabinet hoods.  Make sure you know the size before you spend time driving to pick up what you think is the right one.

Get a guy with a truck: Preferably a pick-up.  You can save hundreds if you’re willing to dispose your current appliances, transport new ones and install them yourself (or arrange the installation yourself).

Sourcing: Find contractors and tradespeople through a local real estate agent.  Agents can provide a veritable yellow pages of you-can-rely-on-me plumbers, painters, electricians and so on.  If an agent is recommending a home professional, you can be fairly sure that he or she has delivered on time and on budget.  You can also be confident that they’re going to continue to do so for you, as contractors don’t want to risk a bad report since agents provide a direct line to new business.

And a few personal thoughts:

– If  you’re someone who struggles with decision-making, redoing a kitchen can be torture.  So if you can’t decide, go with white cabinets, black granite and stainless appliances (with as little black accenting as possible).  The look is timeless, transitional and peaceful.  If you want to go bold, amp up the surrounding wall color and fabrics.

– If possible, do everything you can to avoid buying a counter-depth refrigerator…choices are limited and they cost about 50% more than their 30-inch cousins.  Unfortunately, we had no choice.

– For a subtle, unexpected countertop, go with honed, rather than polished, granite.  Honed granite has a matte finish, rather than a glossy reflective one.  Honed granite can be more susceptible to surface staining, but there are products to help combat such risks.

Ultimately, a kitchen renovation doesn’t have to take over your life or your wallet.  We hadn’t moved ahead with making the most-used space in the house our own because we just assumed that the expense and disruption (but mostly the expense) would be too much.  We won’t be making that mistake again…

So how about it, all you kitchen remodelers, have anything to add to the list?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Photo credits (from top): Marston Knob from Restoration Hardware; Onyx Marble & Granite, Inc.craigslist


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Yesterday, one of my friends commented what a shame it is that just when you get everything exactly how you want it in your home, it’s time to leave.  Never were truer words spoken, particularly as it related to our kitchen.  My husband and I had talked about redoing our kitchen since the moment we moved in…the layout was good and cabinets were of excellent quality, but it was terribly dark and stuck in the 1950s.  I tore out countless shelter magazine pages, built my inspiration board, picked colors, picked knobs, hemmed, hawed and trusted that we would do it …someday

But then when my husband landed his new job and we were faced with the stark reality of putting our house on the market, our big dark kitchen faced us too. Our real estate agent, a consummate professional and trusted friend, advised that we think seriously about redoing the kitchen if we wanted our house to move quickly.  He said to trust him, and although it was hard for me to swallow that we were going to make such a substantial investment, just to turn around and leave it sitting there in the honed granite and stainless steel, we went for it.  I even said I’d kiss his feet if we made our money back. 

Guess it’s time for me to pucker up.

BEFORE (in case you couldn’t guess)


AFTER (hear the angels singing?)

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Miss me?





It’s been a looooong time.  Miss me?

Over the past six months, my family has had a *few* changes, causing me to take a little unexpected break from The Mudroom.  Between the husbandlosinghisjob-goingbacktoworkfulltime-startingasidebusiness-husbandfindinganewjobanhourandahalfaway-puttingthehouseonthemarket-gettinganoffer-havingtheofferfallthrough-puttingthehousebackonthemarket-gettinganotheroffer-searchingforahouseinatownwithnoinventory-lookingintorentingforayear-finallyhavinganofferaccepted-researchingnewchildcareandschooloptions-finishingkindergarten-packingpackingpacking-movingclosingmovingagain-anddecidingthatmyhusband’sformercompanymayhavedoneusafavor-{breath}-                                                              eventhoughitdefinitelydidn’tfeellikeittwodaysbeforemybirthday, it’s been a little busy, y’know?

Anyway, I have missed The Mudroom so very, very much, and among the many wonderful things that have come out of this last six months is that I now have a new house (well, not *new*, but new to me) on which to make my mark!

To whet your appetite, check out some rooms that I designed and decorated from the asoflastTuesdaynolongerourhome…

Hope to see you again soon!



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…if I wasn’t the ONLY girl who lived there.  Somehow, I don’t see my husband or my muddy boys working in these gorgeous spaces.  Too bad for me…

Since I wouldn’t be the woman I am without my three boys, then I’ll just need to slip in some pink and green where I can…

Image credits: All images are the work of the uber-talented Palmer Weiss

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I am so done with rectangular placemats on my round kitchen table.  It drives me nuts.  Just NUTS.  But a standard issue round tablecloth is a no-go either with my two jumping bean boys who would most certainly rip the thing off, dinner plates included, the first minute I put in on.

But a chalkcloth tabletop?  I could get behind that.

Spotted two weeks ago on one of my daily reads — Sweet Sweet Life — I haven’t been able to get the image out of my head.  Amy just bought some yardage from a local Etsy seller and cut it to size. 

Voila!  Table covering and kid distraction all rolled into one. 

Image credits: Amy Hanson of Sweet Sweet Life

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DIY Nouveau Wreath

Four days to go until Christmas.  Do you still need a little holiday kick to brighten up your house?  Try this easy wreath that I made in an hour, inspired by a recent post on Apartment Therapy

Get to your local craft store and pick up a styrofoam wreath form and thumbtacks. I used a 12-inch form and 800 tacks {seriously}.

Park yourself in front of A Christmas Story and get to work…

An hour later.  Easy peasy.  

Not your style?  Try this DIY lovely from one of my favorite design blogs…

Via {frolic!}

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When hosting a party, I enjoy cooking (sort of), but my favorite part is creating fun, interesting and unexpected tabletops (elegant is great too, but they’ve gone the way of the Dodo since kids…too much pressure).  If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, click over to Boston Mamas for some last-minute easy ideas to make your tabletop shine.  (Yep, it’s true…two Boston Mamas columns in two weeks!)

What easy tabletop ideas do you have?  Share them here!

Image credit: Randy Weiner, Flickr (cool pic, don’t you think?)

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I’ve made it a personal mission to ensure that my kids don’t grow up creatively stunted (like their mama who didn’t find her inner creative streak until age 35).  So when I was given an opportunity to test IdeaPaint, I was stoked (as were my kids).  Check out the full review in my latest column at Boston Mamas.  Enjoy!

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Color Palette Web Tool

When choosing paint and fabric for my home, I’m often inspired by fashion — the way textures and colors play off of each other in a terrific outfit. Using an ivory cashmere cowl neck, skinny camel wool pants, chocolate suede boots and gold bangles as a starting point will result in a room very different from, say, a classic Lilly cotton shift and lime green Jack Rogers. 

The next time you start a decorating project, snap a picture of your inspiration (whether it’s a Michael Kors ad or a Vermont farm) and check out the Color Palette Generator from BigHugeLabs — a freakin’ fabulous (and free) web tool that converts photos into color palettes.

An ensemble created by Mrs. O (one of my MOST favorite blogs) at Closet Couture

Mrs. O J. Crew Styling Contest

…turns into this palette!

Mrs. O palette

Cool, huh?

So tell me, when it come to decorating, are you most inspired by nature, fashion, homes or something else completely?

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Paper Plates = Art

Is anyone else totally inspired by the interiors of Anthropologie stores?  I’ve always favored their clothes and housewares, but even just walking into their retail locations is an experience.  I love that every store is different  — each location has its own interior stylist/visual artist, going way beyond the “merchandising” at regular retail that follows a prescribed map of where and how items should be laid out.  Without fail, I gather inspiration from the walls, ceiling, music, floors, etc. each time I visit Anthro.  Just check out the latest installation at the store in my ‘hood…

Anthro clouds 2

Cloud sculpture made out of paper plates…amazing!  Reminded me instantly of the brilliant paper plate chandelier that Nathan Thomas created for the dining room in his winning townhouse on Bravo’s Top Design

Nathan Thomas, Elle Decor

Both of these are definitely going on my Flattery Board (or Inspiration for Imitation Board)…

Image credits: Paige Lewin’s Blackberry, Elle Decor

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