Interior: The Dark Side

Ask anyone who has known me a long time and I have always had an affinity for black.  I remember being 13 years old and being tempted to paint the trim in my bedroom black.  Ultimately, I decided that white would work better with my Dove Gray walls.  Did I mention that my older brother was really into Miami Vice and chose to paint his room in Flamingo Pink?  This is statement is totally dating me, but it was a bold choice that also highlights how colors can be part of a fad. Black on the other hand will usually stand the test of time, it just depends how you use it.

Over the years I’ve used it as an exterior paint color, as a cabinet color, as an interior paint color and as a trim color.  It goes pretty much everywhere, you just have to be thoughtful about what you pair it with. You’d think that black is black, and it’s not hard finding the right one, since black is the absence of color.  You’d be right when you are thinking of the color spectrum, but when it comes to paint you are still dealing with pigments and not all black paints are created equal.  Since I haven’t done a paint post in ages, I thought I’d share 4 of my favorite blacks:

Favorite Black Paints


**As with all paints,  I recommend trying out a sample so that you can see how the paint reads depending on the quality of light in your home.

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Midcentury Kitchen - White Walnut


I’ve been a little MIA these last few months as I try to figure out how to balance things so that I can take care of myself and focus on my health and my family. The beginning of the new school year is like New Year to me; it is full of promise and hope. So, my hope is that this school year will be better than last, as I refocus my attention on my priorities of family and health.

Our older son recently started Middle School and I am reminded how quickly time flies. He has grown in so many ways, not least of which he is now taller than I am. He is entering an important developmental phase that I believe can set the stage for the type of man he will become, so I want to be around for when he needs me, while trying to give him enough space for self discovery.  He’s becoming quite independent.  He may need me and he may not, but I want to pay attention.

Our younger son had an exceptionally tough year last year, from health to social exclusion.  The emotional scars are still there, both for him and for me. There is nothing quite as debilitating as seeing your child suffer. So, I am making every effort to be present for him in obvious ways, to help him rebuild his confidence and his joy. But in all honesty, I don’t know how to help him sometimes and it makes me feel so helpless.

As for me, my own health has been far from stellar.  I have to make some changes if I want to be around for the long haul. Also, my design work has evolved since the day I first started this blog six years ago, so I plan to work on reflecting those changes here.

In the meanwhile here are a couple of photos of a kitchen I completed at the beginning of the summer. Clean white quartz, warm walnut cabinets, and with just a hint of glam with brass accents.

Midcentury Kitchen 2 - white and walnut






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Before & After: Modern, Black Farmhouse Kitchen

A long time ago I shared a Farmhaus tour where you got to see what the house looked like when we purchased it.  Everything needed work, but the room that arguably needed the most work was the kitchen.  As a reminder, this is what the Farmhaus kitchen used to  look like:

Farmhaus Kitchen Before 1

Farmhaus Kitchen Before 2

Farmhaus Kitchen Before 3

Not exactly my cup of tea.

I came up with a plan and a mood board (which you can check out here) and then we tore it all up and started from scratch.

Farmhaus Before 4

The big changes that really allowed me to switch up the layout were 1) opening up the wall even further and 2) changing the size and placement of the window.  The removal of the wall allowed me to bring in a large island, and the change of windows enabled me to run counters along the whole back wall and move some of the appliances around.  See here for more photos during the construction phase of the kitchen.

We finished the kitchen ages ago, like 1 1/2 years ago, but there have been so many other projects to take care of that I never felt that I had the time to sit down and do a full before and after.  Proud to present to you what the Farmhaus kitchen looks like now.

Modern Black Farmhouse Kitchen After 2Modern Black Farmhouse Kitchen After 4

Modern Black Farmhouse Kitchen After 7

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and get dirty, but for the kitchen I brought in professionals for some important jobs: plumbing, electrical, drywall and cabinet installation. Sounds like there wasn’t much DIY on our part but we actually took care of framing, tiling, flooring and painting. We could have probably done the drywall and cabinet installation ourselves, but this made things fall into place faster. I love how it turned out and when we spend time at the Farmhaus the kitchen is everything I had imagined and more.

Here are some close ups.

Modern Black Farmhouse Kitchen After 10

I really wanted to tile the back of the island to break up the black and add a pop of interest.  See here for my inspiration. I’m so happy I added this element.  It takes the kitchen to another level.  Plus, I love that when the kids sit at the counter the tile can handle their kicks and scuff marks.

Modern Black Farmhouse Kitchen After 11Modern Black Farmhouse Kitchen After 12

The shelves were made from the left over butcher block scraps we had cut off from the counters.  No waste here.

Modern Black Farmhouse Kitchen After 13

Love my organized utensils. The pepper mill and salt cellar are from one of my favorite shops in Australia, a shop aptly named Country Road. Wish they had a store in the U.S.

Modern Black Farmhouse Kitchen After 9Modern Black Farmhouse Kitchen After 8

The sconces from Pepe and Carols add a refined industrial touch that works perfectly. Plus they bring in a hint of brass that gets echoed through the hardware and some of the vintage accessories I collect and display.  I had the sconces customized so that the light would fall at just the right spot over the counters.

It was a labor of love but well worth the effort.

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DIY: No Candy Classroom Valentine 2018


Ever since our oldest started preschool (he’s 10 now), I’ve been creating DIY Classroom Valentines. You can check out a few of my past efforts here and here, and the ever popular on Pinterest You Rule DIY here.

I’m big on doing no candy.  For some kids it’s important because of potential allergies, but based on how well my kids brush their teeth (not well), I prefer to do no candy simply so that I can minimize the whole cavities thing.  This year my DIY is a simple pencil.  I found cute pencils that came as a pack of 5 for $1 and decided to work my DIY around them.  I created a “You’re Just Write” punny holder to make the pencils feel more special.

What you’ll need:

  • Cute pencils
  • Card stock
  • Color Printer
  • Scissors
  • Exacto Knife
  • Ruler

First buy cute pencils. Enough for everyone in the class.



Then print the free printable I created on to card stock.  Slightly heavier paper is better as it holds the pencils. Regular paper is too flimsy. Each sheet has 3 pencil holders, so print as many as you need. Next cut off the excess paper.


Once your excess paper is cut off, you’re ready to cut the slits that will hold the pencils.


Don’t make the slits too long or the pencils will slide right through. I placed my 2 slits about 2″ apart.


Slide your pencils through and voila.  You’re done!  How easy was that?  It will literally only take you a few minutes. More of course if you’re making them for the whole school.

Hope you enjoy this cute, super easy DIY.  Post a picture on Instagram or Facebook if you end up doing this.  I’d love to see the end result.  Tag @relocatedliving #relocatedlivingDIY


For printable, click here!

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Interior: HGTV House Tour

2018 is off to a lovely start with a feature of our home in HGTV.  Yep, that’s right HGTV!  I’ve been watching the channel religiously since 2003, when we started looking for our first house in LA.  Through the shows, we used to go on virtual house tours and it helped make the process of first time home buying seem less daunting.

For those of you who have followed Relocated Living since the beginning, you know that our house in the Bay Area was a labor of love. For those of you just joining in from HGTV, welcome I hope you’ll follow along as I have more projects in store.

To give you more back story on our house, it was 2012, we had just moved up to the Bay Area. We were renting, paying a mortgage on the new house AND remodeling the new house from the studs up.  We stretched our budget as far as it would go. HGTV really captured how I managed to maximize the style of the house, while keeping costs of the furnishings low, since all our money was going INTO the walls.

You can see the full house tour below.


If you look at some of the my early construction posts, you’ll see what the house used to look like.  It needed everything! What’s great about the HGTV tour is that they show you some of the rooms I never got around to featuring on the blog in a Before & After.

I love design and would much rather spend my money on the pretty stuff, but the truth is that shoddy construction will come and bite you in the end. Very few of the pieces we had in our old home in LA worked in our current house, so I had to get creative and resourceful when furnishing 3,300 sq ft, and my Vintage Finds were a big part of achieving style on a budget, while injecting soul into what was essentially new construction.  Hope you enjoy. We certainly like living here!


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Lena Margulis - Love your home! We are also in the middle of gut reno of a 50’s fixer upper and have similar style to yours, so this post helps to see what we will have once all the work is done 🙂
I was wondering where you have found the fabric you used for the dining chairs? It is lovely, and would work great in our dining room! 🙂

isadorag - Hi Lena,
Thanks for stopping by. The fabric is from Joann’s. I upholstered them a while ago, so I’m not sure they still have that same fabric.
Good luck.

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