Thursday, June 27, 2013

A truly heavenly kitchen

I'm pretty happy with the kitchen in our new home.  It is definitely a huge upgrade from anything I've had before.  Ideally I'd like to refinish the light maple colored cabinets in white, knockout one one to open it into the living room, and maybe even swap out the tile for hardwood.  For now though, it will do, and I'll get my fix by perusing amazing kitchens like the one below.

The brick comes from demolished buildings in Chicago, and the steel hood is custom.

I'm in love with the walnut floors! They gray/green cabinets are elegant, but I think I still might have gone with white.

What do you think of these glass pendants?  What do you think about the whole kitchen?

via Traditional Home Great Kitchens

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Creating a space for entertaining

More and more, Chris and I were finding our small apartment tough for entertaining.  One thing on our "To Do" list for our new home is to knock down the wall between the kitchen and the living room to create a breakfast bar. That would give us a little more space to entertain, but mostly it would vastly increase the flow in our home, making even our modest space more conducive to guests.

This seating area isn't particularly large, but the open concept layout and variety of seating makes for plenty of ways for guests to mingle.

via BHG

This kitchen bar can be a great addition to more seating.


Sometimes the bar stool itself can make a big difference. Having backless bar stools still gives you the visual space you need but allows for guest seating. 


I love this "campy" industrial wheeled cart turned bar.
via Country Living

This post in partnership with

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Extra space worth using!

I love natural light in a home and tall ceilings can add to that by making a room feel large and bright. A great way to add some of that in a smaller home is doing a loft conversion. Opening up an attic and using that space can really add a lot to a home.

That extra space could go towards adding more square footage and creating a room in the attic! With a nice sky light window you can open up a small space with gorgeous natural light.

Using the natural shape of the extra space can create some stunning designs. Some people are nervous about truss loft conversions but using a specialist can make this transformation easy with as little disruption as possible.

Some spaces are large enough to convert into an entire loft apartment. Using a wall of windows really makes this space feel more like a getaway than an attic!

Another option would be to just open up the space. This kitchen hardly feels small with the tall ceilings and windows.

This post in partnership with

Friday, June 21, 2013

Marriott Hotels - the amazing 10,000 square foot Innovation Lab!

Recently I had the very cool experience of visiting Marriott Hotels headquarters right in Bethesda, MD to visit and “play” in their absolutely amazing “Innovation Lab.”

 “What is an innovation lab?” you might ask. A 10,000 sq. ft. space right in headquarters that allows designers, architects, employees, and customers to rapidly prototype and manipulate “white box” guest rooms, lobbies, and meeting spaces by moving around rolling furnishings as large as a bed to accessories as small as a soap dish.

I was lucky enough to get to create my own ideal guest room along with other bloggers, designers, and writers and chat with SVP architecture and construction of Marriott, Karim Khalifa. His enthusiasm for the Innovation Lab was contagious. “This isn’t a space where sport coats are required or guests stand to the side while we speak. It is interactive and participatory… Marriott is dedicated to transforming the brand to make it relevant for a next generation of travelers – and we want these travelers to be a part of our transformative journey”

Drew Shepherd, Senior Director, Portfolio Strategy & Research started us off with an interesting presentation about gathering guest insights, and speaking to travelers' and consumers' heightened expectations for good design in everything from the razors they use to the hotels they stay in.

The then and now of industrial design.

We then visited a few "mock" guest rooms near the Innovation Lab to discuss what it is we like about hotel guest rooms and dislike.  I was very surprised at how varying everyone's guest habits were.  Some of us unpack immediately, some of us leave our things in suitcases, some always order room service, some have never.

With the current rooms fresh in our minds, we were given a tour of the Innovation Lab and introduced to the prototyping process.

The amazing space:

Next, we got to the fun part and mocked up some new guest rooms with pen and paper

And finally, we moved on to actually prototyping rooms- moving around furniture, lamps, appliances, etc...

Pretty awesome right?  As a designer, being able to "create" so quickly and instant feedback is so valuable.  This hands on method was a great way to test concepts out in a much more tangible and accurate way then sketching.

Last, but ABSOLUTELY NOT least....lunch.  One word: yum.
Vice President, Culinary and Global Corporate Chef Brad Nelson gave us a tour of his kitchens and garden before joining us for a truly delicious lunch.

Love this floating radishes centerpiece

Now I'm hungry!

What do you think about Marriott's Innovation Lab?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Deliciously chic and glamorous eye candy!

I've been running around like a chicken with it's head cut off these past few days preparing for my baby sis's baby shower, being a freelance web designer, trying to unpack and get settled into our new home, and wiping up puddles of puppy pee-pee.  Right now I just need some gorgeous eye candy to remind me that all my hard work CAN and WILL pay off!

This is actually an office! I love the look - and that wallpaper would look great in my home office!

Canopy beds always say luxe to me.

Gold, cream, gray, and a touch of pink...and horses...what else could a girl want!?!

all images vie Rue Mag Oct.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How to decorate around radiators

I love old homes and all their charms and quirks. One of these charms is usually an old radiator or other appliance that may pose a decorating "challenge." Personally, I think these quirks are worth the unique feel of an old home, and these days you can even find super sleek, well-designed radiators if that is your home or building's method of providing heat.

 I was actually surprised to find out how stylish some of these electric radiators are - see below:

These radiators look more like modern art!  These I found on Electric Radiators Direct.   They also don't stain or blacken walls. In my book the best thing about these radiators is that they are also very energy efficient.

Even though there are ways to decorate around old clunky radiators, like building boxes and covers, there's always the concern of decreasing efficiency or damaging materials.

Above and below show radiators with custom covers built around them.  If you are renting and aren't able to choose your own radiators, they can be good solutions.

via via Chez Larsson, via Houzz

This post in partnership with

Monday, June 17, 2013

Backpacking around Europe: A few days in Berlin

Berlin is a city that's hard for me to describe because it is so rife with troubled history that is very visible throughout the entire city. At the same time, it is so beautiful, alive, and modern, and I'm unable to come up with the words to describe the city in any way to begin to shed light on all of it's qualities and characteristics.  The basics: it's the German capital and most populous city at 3.3 million.

So instead I'll share some of our moments there and leave you free to do your own research should anything pique your curiosity.

We stayed near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, with only the base of the spire left after a raid in 1943.

The beautiful Old National Gallery

Beautiful sculpture "Amazon on Horseback" by Louis Tuaillon outside the Neues Museum

Berlin Cathedral

Neptune fountain

Reichstag (German Parliament building)

Berlin Holocaust Memorial, Berlin - this is a quiet place not too close to other touristy attractions.  I remember it well.

The Berlin Wall is definitely a place I will always remember and sticks out in my mind very vividly. I was 5 when it fell and remember watching it in class.

Checkpoint Charlie the best known East - West crossing point during the Cold War.

Berlin is truly an amazing place on SO MANY levels.  Highly recommended in my book - you won't forget it.

Obviously, this photo is here just for comic relief - I can't decide if having a Haagen-Dazs right next to a ladies gym is genius or madness.

Thanks to wonderful future hubby for all of the fantastic photography he did during our trip!

Here's that list again of all my posts from our travels that I've posted -


•Introduction to my European backpacking trip and a list of places we visited
• Galicia - Baiona and Isle de Cies
• Galicia - the coast, some charming vineyards, and Pontevedra
• Santiago de Compostela and gorgeous hidden beaches
• Gorgeous mountain lakes of Picos de Europa
• Stunning mountains - Picos de Europa
• Bilbao and San Sebastian
• Beautiful Barcelona
• The amazing Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona
• Art Nouveau dream house by Gaudi in Barcelona


• Not to miss - the gorgeous rocky coast of Italy's Cinque Terre
• More from my summer traveling Europe - amazing Rome
• From my summer in Europe - amazing Pompeii
• Turquoise ocean and vineyards on cliffs - the amazingly stunning Amalfi coast
• My Summer in Europe: Pictures from lovely Florence, Italy
• Enchanting Siena
Lake Como, Italy

Jungfrau region, Switzerland, Part 1
Jungfrau region, Switzerland, Part 2

• One of my favorite cities from my European backpacking trips - Ulm, Germany
• Lake Constance
• Cute HOUSE Overload - the charming medieval homes of Germany's Romantic Road
• Regensburg, Germany, and Salzburg, Austria  

• Salzburg
• A charming lakeside village, Hallstatt
Beautiful Vienna
Kunst Haus Wien in Vienna

Budapest Part 1
Budapest Part 2
Czech Republic
Stunning Prague