Friday, February 28, 2014

Beautiful Houses: the top architecture pins of February 2014

It seems like every time I pin a beautiful house on Pinterest, almost immediately the image gets repinned dozens of times.  Clearly there are a lot of people out there who love houses as much as I do! I find Pinterest to be one of the best places to go for architecture inspiration, and my architecture board grows by leaps and bounds every month.

I pinned a lot of houses this month, so I am devoting a post to the top architecture pins of the month.  There are some really beautiful houses and unique architecture features in this month's top architectural pins.

I initially saw just the front elevation of this house, and I was smitten. I love the color palette of the house, the portico off the front, the planters with boxwood, the dormers, the pea gravel driveway.  Then I saw this side perspective, which shows the garage – I suspect the house is new, but it was designed so the garage looks like it was added on many years after the original house was built.  It’s a beautiful house and looks wonderful in its environment. From Paul Davis Design.

A beautiful house exterior with a triple arched set of steel windows (one is a door), from the portfolio of Revival Construction.

A Birmingham, Alabama house that is on the market. The combination of classic style and an interesting and unique color scheme caught my eye, and the roses over the front door are the perfect touch. Note how the Chippendale pattern on the storm door matches the pattern on the side porch. The motor court is a great design element.  Image source.

A classic Georgian with a light color scheme, found on Pinterest.

Light color houses with dark shutters captured my imagination this month.  Found on Pinterest.

Although it is not a house, I put this gate in my architecture board as it is an architectural design element, and it caught a lot of people’s eyes.  A simple but stylish gate design, and the country lane is charming.  Image source.

A detail shot of the front door of this house reveals so many beautiful elements – the stonework, the limestone surround, the lantern style. Upon close inspection, it appears that the window has a shutter that is build into the window casement, almost like a storm door. Image via Carraway & Associates Architects.

This Charleston house, painted aqua with black accents, was one of the most popular pins of the month. Image source.

I like the light color and fully functional exterior shutters on this house. Note how the left two don't have the shutters...I wonder why (the left one could not have shutters and a lantern, but what about the second from the left)?  The upper windows don't either. The shutter and trim color are noted as Sherwin Williams Antique White (SW6119); the stucco color noted as Benjamin Moore Sandy Brown (CC-150.  Image source.

Last, but certainly not least, this beautiful house in Charleston, captured so perfectly by 21 Rosemary Lane.  This was the most pinned architectural image of the month, and it’s a beauty.

These images are the top ten pinned architectural images of the month.  Do you have a favorite?

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Monday, February 24, 2014

My kitchen sink and faucet

A few years ago, when we were building our house and designing our kitchen, I wrote a post on the kitchen sink decision.  It is a detailed post with lots of beautiful images and over 100 helpful and interesting comments from readers.  In this post, I discussed options I was thinking about for the sink itself, the location of the sink, and the style of faucet.

Many people are finding this post through google searches, and every week I receive questions about my kitchen.  A lot of people must have started kitchen renovations in January, because I have received dozens of emails over the past month asking for input and guidance on kitchen decisions, whether it be countertops, cabinets, appliances, or kitchen sinks. 

Lately I have been receiving quite a few emails asking what kitchen sink and faucet I selected for my kitchen, so I thought I would write a blog post on the topic. 

Here are the decisions that my wonderful kitchen designer Cynthia Ziegler and I made for my own kitchen, and how I feel about the decisions now that I have lived in the house for a few years. 

In my old house (which I did not build), I inherited a double bowl sink that had a smaller raised section above the disposal. I hated this sink, and when researching the topic of kitchen sinks, realized that I really don’t like double section sinks. I felt certain that I would prefer having a big sink with a single bowl.  I have been very happy with this decision. 

My kitchen designer recommended a Franke 30”x18”x9” sink because they have worked well for her on past projects.  The sink is stainless steel, and I have also been happy with the material. It looks great with the style of the kitchen, and can take a real beating. If it ever gets discolored I simply wipe it with a Mr. Clean magic eraser, which is one of the most indispensible items in my cleaning closet.

We have two sinks in the kitchen, and both have the same Franke sink.

Faucet style and location of the sinks:
We decided to have two sinks in the kitchen that each have their own function, and selected similar but somewhat different faucets at each of the sinks based on location and space constraints.

For the kitchen island sink, we used the Perrin & Rowe deck mount bridge faucet with high C spout faucet in polished nickel, with matching sidespray. My architect gave me a heads up that polished nickel gets water spots, but this has not bothered me at all and they polish right out with the Cape Cod metal polishing cloths (more about that later).  We picked this faucet because it is so beautiful, and the island is so visible in the kitchen – and therefore the faucet is very visible.  It’s a beautiful faucet, and quite sculptural.  Note – I had not polished the faucet yet when I took this picture, so this shows two years of water spots. The polishing made it look like new!

I was worried that I would not like having a separate lever for hot and cold, and a separate sprayer. However, I quickly got used to it and I love the faucet we selected.  I use the cold much of the time, and simply add a bit of hot when I want hot or warm water. I also enjoy having a lever devoted to hot water when I am filling up a pot for cooking or washing pots and pans (the island sink is where I do most of the cooking prep and clean up, as it is opposite the stove and range).

The little button to the left of the faucet is an air switch that controls the disposal, also in polished nickel.

As mentioned above, the kitchen island sink is where most of the cooking prep and clean up occurs.

We decided to place our second sink on a wall in the kitchen.   It was a bit of a design challenge but it made sense based on the kitchen layout. We used the same Franke sink as the one in the island, and a similar Perrin & Rowe faucet with a sidespray (in polished nickel), but a single hole style.  

When the counter was installed, and the sink was mounted, it was time to install the faucet. We realized that we had another design dilemma – we couldn’t install the faucet as it was designed, with the single lever on the right. If  we mounted this way, there would not be enough room behind the sink for the faucet handle to go all of the way back for the cold water setting – it would be prevented from moving in the full range of motion by the marble backsplash. So, we installed it with the handle in the front, allowing full range of motion side to side, and decided if it really bothered us we would find a replacement faucet.  Luckily, we got used to it very quickly, although guests often can’t figure out how to use this faucet.

This second sink is used for a variety of purposes, but it was designed to be the ‘scullery’ sink – the sink where all of the dishes are cleared to and washed up after meals.  My kitchen designer is very thoughtful about the processes in a kitchen and designing a kitchen so that everything has a work flow, and I have been really amazed at how beautifully our kitchen works and how it really works exactly as she had in mind from the time it was first sketched on paper.

I have also used this sink as a wine cooler/bar area during parties, filling it with ice and beverages.  Note how there are drainage grooves cut into the marble to the left of the sink. I got this idea from a friend, and I love how it looks – but in reality, I tend to wash my pots and pans in my island sink, and dry them on the range.

As I was writing this post, and looking at the pictures, I remembered a gift my sister gave me soon after we moved in – Cape Cod metal polishing cloths.  She said that her old designer swore by them for cleaning metals – including polished nickel – and making them look brand new. I pulled them out this weekend and polished my kitchen and bathroom faucets, and sure enough they worked beautifully – they got all of the water spots off and made the polished nickel look beautiful. I highly recommend them! I think they have a gentle cleaning substance on the polishing cloths, and the process is to polish with the pink cloth then buff with the white buffing cloth.

According to the side of the can:
Polish all your fine metals without the harsh chemical smell! Achieve a fast, fabulous shine on aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, gold, nickel, pewter, silver - just about any metal - with these easy to use, reusable soft polishing cloths. Due to the exclusive anti-tarnish formula, these unique pre-moistened cleaning cloths deliver an incredible shine that lasts! That means you clean less often - and they have a pleasant vanilla scent! The beautiful re-usable tin contains 12 individually wrapped 4" x 6" polishing cloths, one buffing cloth and one pair of re-usable gloves. Also available: re-closable foil pouch with two 4" x 6" cloths.
They can be purchased on Amazon here.

I hope this post helps anyone looking into kitchen sinks and faucets.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Another question I get all of the time is about my marble, and what I think about marble countertops after living with them for a few years. I am working on that post!

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Venetian mirrors

A few years ago, when I was driving past an antique store in Laguna Beach, I saw an ornate Venetian mirror in the window.  I visit Laguna Beach every year, and saw that same mirror in the window year after year; it would catch my eye each time.  One year I decided to stop by and see the mirror in person.  It was very, very expensive, amazingly ornate, and quite beautiful.  On my most recent trip to Laguna Beach last summer, I noticed that the mirror was not in the window anymore. I am hoping that it sold to a wonderful person who is hanging it in a place of honor in their house.

Recently, I have been noticing Venetian mirrors more than ever. My interest in Venetian mirrors is somewhat surprising to me, as the style is often ornate and I tend to like things a bit simpler (except for chandeliers!).  Also, they tend to be more ‘glam’ in style than what I usually gravitate towards. But for some reason, Venetian mirrors have really been catching my eye lately.

According to a source on Yahoo, “Venetian mirrors are made up of long lines and sweeping arches [with] polished edges and mirrored borders. They're available in a variety of shapes, including rectangles, ovals and circles. Some even have delicate etching around the perimeter of the glass. The feminine rosettes that adorn each Venetian mirror are gracefully ornate”.  The detail, artistry, and style in Venetian mirrors give them a distinct look, whether they are antiques or reproductions.

Here are some of my favorite rooms with Venetian mirrors – which one is your favorite?

This beautiful living room designed by Kendall Wilkinson has my favorite style of Venetian mirror, the octagon with an ornamental flourish on the top.  This particular mirror is an antique that was found in Paris.

A Venetian mirror fits perfectly within the paneling on the wall of a Paris apartment. Note the beautiful flower detail etched on the glass, and the lovely reflection in the mirror. Found on Pinterest.

This more clean lined Venetian mirror, with a band of black, looks perfectly at ease in this more streamlined décor by Kevin Carrigan (Elle Décor).

The detailed design of this Venetian mirror creates high drama in this small space.

I spotted this Venetian mirror on katiedid. It’s in a room designed by Josephine Fisher for the 2011 San Francisco Decorator Showhouse.

Another Venetian mirror seen on katiedid, from a local holiday home tour.

By placing a Venetian mirror in front of a window, a vanity area is created. The soft curves and feminine style of the mirror is ideal in this space designed by Miles Redd.

A beautiful mirror, although I wish the reflection were a bit more interesting! Maybe at eye level it is. Design by Eleanor Cummings.

A small and delicately styled oval Venetian mirror is the perfect touch in this ethereal room. Source unknown.

De Gournay handpainted wallpaper and a Venetian mirror seem like a natural fit – both are so graceful and feminine.  This dining room was designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, as seen in Architectural Digest.

Another example of a dining room with hand painted wallpaper (I think this might be Gracie) and a beautiful Venetian mirror. Design by Mark Sikes.

I found this beautiful picture on the de Gournay website – handpainted wallpaper (this pattern is de Gournay’s ‘Askew’) and a Venetian mirror is an amazing combination. I wish I could find a full view of this room – it’s a shame the top of the mirror is cropped out! This might just be my new favorite dining room picture – I love everything about it, the color palette, the feminine style.  Design by London based Alison Henry.

Here is the London house of designer Alison Henry – note the matching Venetian mirrors above the fireplaces (one is antique, one an exact reproduction).  She also has two Venetian mirrors in her bedroom – clearly she loves the style. This was a WSJ house of the day in 2012,  Image source.

I have had this picture saved for a few months – it was possibly the inspiration for this post!  Paloma from La Dolce Vita featured it as a room of the week in December. Design by On Madison.

A bathroom designed by Suzanne Kasler Interiors features a beautiful Venetian mirror mounted on a wall with an antiqued mirror.

A very clean-lined style Venetian mirror looks beautiful in this gray and purple room. 

Another purple and gray room with a Venetian mirror – I am seeing a trend here! Image source.

This is one of my favorite images found in January, and I didn’t really clue into the Venetian mirror until researching this post. The soft and feminine of the style works beautifully in this room.

A bold dining room has it all, including a statement making Venetian mirror. Image source.

I like this image because it shows the versatility of a Venetian mirror (albeit a simpler design) in more streamlined décor.

One of my all time favorite vignettes, designed by John Saladino – and it has a charming small Venetian mirror.

This much blogged about bathroom, designed by Tricia Huntley, deserves a spot in the Venetian mirror hall of fame – it’s a beautiful mirror made even more interesting by hanging it on top of a mirrored wall.

Another image from the Venetian mirror hall of fame, I couldn’t resist using it in this post – this space is so beautifully designed, and the mirror is the perfect touch. Attributed to the Gerald Pomeroy Design Group.

As a contrast, a more richly colored space utilizes a Venetian mirror to great effect. I always read that the powder room is a place where designers can use a lot of drama to great effect, and Venetian mirrors seem to be a favored way of doing this. Found on Pinterest.

I love the way this photo was framed up – the room is seen in the reflection of a beautiful Venetian mirror. Design by Ashley Whittaker, via House Beautiful.

The living room of the same apartment by Ashley Whittaker, via House Beautiful.

This space is beautiful for so many reasons – the architecture is lovely, and the chandelier looks right up my alley. However, it is the Venetian mirror that is a standout of the space, with its tall lines and ornate style.

This is one of my favorite rooms by New Orleans designer Gerrie Bremermann.  There is a matching mirror on the other side of the window.  Although this is not an ornately styled Venetian mirror, I would categorize it as Venetian in style due to the style, the rosettes, and the mirrored frame.  Photo credit Tria Giovan.

Here is a view of both mirrors. I love both the mirrors and the Italian consoles underneath – so beautiful.  Image via Cote de Texas, from the book Southern Living Style: Easy Updates*Room by Room Guide*Inspired Design Ideas. Click here to see on Amazon.

In the same room, on the other side, is a beautiful vignette – a more classic style Venetian mirror with blue accents.

So, what do you think of Venetian mirrors? I think this post shows that they can go in just about any room, and blend with many styles of décor.  Do you have a favorite picture? I would have to say this one below is my favorite – the dining room in Mayfair (London) – I wish I could see the whole room (and the whole mirror)!

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