Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday, Alas

I thought this week would never end. After a total of 13 meetings, 3 conference calls, and a four hour awards dinner, I'm spent. I worked hard, so this weekend I'm going to unwind by doing a little home cooking with my boyfriend.

Like decorating, cooking is one of the many ways I try to relax. So naturally, I am constantly fantasizing about one day having an amazing kitchen with lots of storage space, double ovens and pristine marble counter tops. I can't wait until that day comes. Until then, I have these beautiful images to remind me of what I have to look forward to.

Images from Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wire Chairs

The Bertoia wire chair has been a popular design choice for some time now. It was originally created by Harry Bertoia, an Italian designer who first marketed his line through modern furniture company, Knoll. Bertoia is classically-trained in jewelry design, which explains a great about his choice of materials and design approach.

The Bertoia chair is considered a sculptural masterpiece in the design world. I love its airiness, simple curvature, and how it can easily be paired with any style or wood tone. Here are some of my favorite images of the Bertoia chair.

Images from Domino and Living Etc.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Global Art

I love maps, vintage, new, land, sea. They add masculinity and a sense of culture to a space. Most often, maps are seen hanging in studies, but I love the idea of using them in unique ways in different parts of the house. If you're going for a nautical theme, use ocean maps as inexpensive art in your space, or if you're looking for something to display from your favorite European city, frame a vintage map and make it the focal point of the room. Aside from looking great, it will also make a great conversation piece!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chalkboard Paint

The possibilities are endless. I love what Lauren from Pure Style Home has done with it in her son's room and kitchen.

Chalkboard paint isn't just for kids. Here it's used in kitchens to plan recipes and scribble down to-do lists.

Images from Young House Love

I also recently discovered that Hudson Paint makes colored chalk paint! There are 24 different options- my favorite is the yellow color below.

Image from Cookie Magazine

Monday, February 22, 2010


This weekend I had the distinct privilege of visiting one of the South's finest cities- Birmingham, Alabama. The purpose of the trip was to attend a wedding, but since the ceremony and reception only lasted a total of two and a half hours, we found ourselves exploring more of the city than we anticipated. 

 Our first stop on the road was in Decatur, Alabama. Thanks to Yelp, a website that allows you to recommend, review and search for restaurants, we stumbled on a jackpot of a bar-b-q spot called Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. Big Bob's makes pretty much every "greatest" claim imaginable- greatest sauce, brisket, ribs, pie, etc.- but in their defense, they've got the award recognition to prove it. Their walls are covered with first place awards ranging from places like the National Bar-B-Q Association and Chili Pepper Magazine to the New York Times. They also display a 5 foot tall trophy by the cash register from the World Championship BBQ Cook-Off, entitled, "Best Pork 2004."* 

I had chicken with a side of vinegar-based Cole Slaw, which was excellent. What I should have ordered, however, was the meat trio consisting of brisket, turkey and pulled pork. The plate was piled high with tender meats dripping with juice. I tried some of my boyfriend's brisket and it tasted like it had been slow roasted for hours.  An additional "unnamed source" told me that the potato salad he had as a side dish wasn't great, but that the baked beans were AMAZING. We finished our lunch each with a piece of pie, and it was, indeed, one of the best pies I've had. 

After arriving at our destination city, we visited English Village, a charming little neighborhood of shops and coffeehouses.  What really surprised me about Birmingham was the English-inspired architecture, and English Village was obviously no exception. I was disappointed that HenHouse Antiques, one of the shops I saw online, was closed early. But The Continental Bakery across the street helped me forget about it with their delicious ginger snaps and chocolate- flavored macaroons. After a visit to the bakery, we drove through the nearby neighborhood of beautiful Tudor-style homes with perfectly-manicured lawns and BMWs in the driveways. I was hard-pressed to find a house (or car) that I didn't like.

The next day, before heading back to Nashville, we had a lovely Sunday brunch at Little Savannah.  I had the Mexican Tostada with Chorizo, Black Bean Purée, Avocado, Queso Fresco, Poached Egg, and Lime Crème Fraîche and my two fellow travelers each had the Crab Cake with Hickory Bacon Creamed Spinach and a poached Farm Egg. Both dishes were incredibly delicious. Mine was a hearty, spicy dish with just enough crunch from the tostada a hint of coolness from the Creme Fraiche. I was told that the crab cake and creamy spinach had a perfect balance of flavor and textures.

Overall, Birmingham was a great city. A day and a half was a perfect amount of time to visit a few great restaurants and get a feel for the city and people. It was a wonderful way to spend the weekend!

*The trophy is topped with a copper pig being chopped by a cleaver- an obvious offense to some, but a clear display of pride for the restaurant. 

Exciting News!

I got the exciting news yesterday that I'm the lucky inheritor of our family's early-twentieth century pedestal dining room table! My brother has been in possession of it for the last few years and recently had it refinished (thanks for doing the dirty work, Zach). I'm excited to replace my $80.00 Craigslist table with this beautiful claw foot pedestal mahogany piece- not only is it nicer, it also has much more sentimental value as it has been in the family for several years.

To incorporate some contrast into our dining space, I would like to get four upholstered chairs to go with our new table and I've narrowed down my search to a few possibilities. Frankly, I'm not at the point in my life where I'm willing to spend several thousand dollars on chairs like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware think I am (seriously, RH has a chair ON SALE for $340 right now!), so the plan is to find some used chairs on Craigslist, at estate sales or antique shops that I can upholster to look new and fresh.

Pottery Barn has a few great options:

I really like the nail-head trim on these chairs. Also, finding chairs with a wooden frame would make the upholstery project more affordable since I could do it on my own.

These chairs are a good size and I like the rounded backs of Louis style.

These chairs have lovely old-world charm. In this instance, I would make seat cushions.

Ballard Designs also has two intriguing options:

Purchasing a sete or bench seat like this would allow for more seating. I love the idea of creating an eating nook to host long dinner parties or wine tastings.

This Parsons chair frame can be purchased for a mere $129.00. If I found a reasonably-priced shop that could upholster the chairs, this give me another affordable possibility for the dining room space.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Laura!

It's all about YOU today!

I hope you get lots of these today...

And that you can do lots of this!

Images from The Bottom of the Ironing Basket

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Functional Art

Last week, the New York Times ran a great article about Zach Motl's 178 square foot apartment in Brooklyn. For anyone who has lived in a large city, you know that space is both limited and extremely pricey. And because of this, it's not uncommon for someone to live in a shared space for much of their life. If you do have the option to own or rent your own space in a metropolitan area, chances are it's small (just to give you an idea of how pricey even a small space can be, a 500 square foot studio in Washington, DC averages in the 300K range).

Using limited space to the fullest potential takes good planning, creativity, and constant organization. You can tell that Motl's tiny apartment layout has been meticulously planned with a place for each of his belongings. I love how Motl uses books as a nightstand and on the open shelving above his bed. In the kitchen, the pot rack and cup hooks are all he has for kitchen storage. These carefully placed items together create a cohesive space and provide an asthetically pleaseing backdrop for his apartment. To me, the space actually looks larger than 178 square feet because of his ingenious use of the room.

The first step to make a small space both workable and attractive is to assess your needs and get a solid grasp on what you own. You may think you already know how much stuff you've got, but I guarentee that you have twice as many belongings than what you think. Then, come up with some creative ways to store your belongs.

Here are a few ideas:

- Use a bookshelf for clothing storage. The shelves are thinner and have more stacking space than dressers since they are taller. Cover the shelves with a curtain to hide your belongings. You can also use baskets on the shelves to store socks, jewelry, etc.
- Use every possible inch of space under your bed. There are plenty of options for this kind of space utilization from risers to bins.
- Like Motl, use books in unobvious ways- as a nightstand, coffee table, or tv stand.
- Hang your necklaces or ties on hooks as wall art. Check out what Lauren at Pure Style Home did in her bedroom.
- Use magnetic spice containers to store either spices, or small desk accesories like push pins and paper clips. Bed Bath and Beyond sells a set for under $20.
- Create a framed office organization board like Brooklynlimestone's. I love this idea!
Organization is also key when living in a small space like Motl's. Otherwise, there's just too much stuff in too little space. The last thing you want is to feel like the walls are closing in on you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mosaic Tile, Part II

I love, love, love Ann Sacks' mosaic designs.

The $500 Mosaic Tile Look Alike

I'm completely impressed by The DIY Show Off blog's masterful painting technique of her bathroom floor. Using porch paint, painters tape and a doily stencil, she created a highend, custom look with little more than a few hours work. To complete the makeover, DIY Show Off painted horizontal stripes on her walls, purchased a new shower curtain and mirror, and even painted her faucets. On a budget of only $500, she really transformed the space! I love the Andalucian look of this stencil, and although this project must have taken both patience and a steady-hand, the outcome is worth it!

Mosaic tiles can run up to $70.00 a square foot, so painting the floor to get the same look is definitely a great option if you're on a budget. If you're one of the lucky few who doesn't pinch your pennies, the sky is the limit when it comes to tile. Right now, we're seeing a lot of floral mosaic patterns. Currently, these are some of my favorite designs.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ad Hoc at Home's Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Thomas Keller is arguably one of the best American Chefs out there right now.  His new cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home, features a variety of soups, desserts, jams, jellies, sides, salads... you name it, bringing his seemingly complex recipes down to earth.  So far, I've made the buttermilk biscuits, sweet potato and lentil soup, as well as the buttermilk fried chicken. I wouldn't call any of these dishes quick, but they all turned out great and I'd recommend making any of them again.

The buttermilk fried chicken involved brining the chicken for 12 hours before frying (and he says not to leave it in a minute more!). Keller puts together a relatively unique group of ingredients for the brine: 5 lemons, 12 bay leaves, 1 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley, 1 bunch thyme, 1/2 cup clover honey, 1 head garlic, 1/4 cup black peppercorns, 2 cups Diamond Crystal kosher salt, and 2 gallons water.  

It's amazing the depth of flavor the brine adds to the chicken. We had leftovers tonight and I can still taste the lemon and thyme flavor throughout the chicken.  A picture of the amazing concoction is below. 

Decorating with Black

I'm hoping to spruce up our guest room in the next few months. We have a black futon, desk, shelf and dresser that aren't changing color anytime soon. My goal is to seemlessly incorporate these pieces into the space while making it less dark and more inviting. Here are a few bits of inspiration thus far.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Lobster Killer Lobster Killer"

If you've seen the movie Julie and Julia, you know what I'm talking about. After watching the movie twice over Christmas vacation, I decided to embark on a Lobster Thermadore cooking journey.  I survived my first lobster steaming, and after 4 hours of cooking butter, wine, cream (and more butter), I came up with this.

Bon Appetit! 

Botanical Prints

Images from Oliveaux, Paloma 81, Country Living and Rare Prints Gallery of Franklin

Last Saturday I attended Nashville's annual Antique and Garden Show. This 3 day event features some of the most exquisite antiques from around the country. Vendors travel from all over to partake in the event. This just happened to be the 20th anniversary event. More information is at

One of my favorite vendors was the Rare Prints Gallery, located in Franklin, TN. RPG sells fine antique prints. I love botanicals, especially which look great in pretty much any room of the house.