Construction: Progress Report 2

I am so excited to share the following images with you.  You will see how far along we’ve come since the last progress report, when we just had studs and electrical.  First off, we passed all our electrical, plumbing and mechanical inspections.  What does that mean?  Well it means we can start to close up the walls because what goes behind the drywall is all A-OK.

Future Living Room:

What do you notice?  We have drywall! Yippee!  Since this renovation began, the house has been bare until now.  What else do you notice?  The Before shot features a lot of wood paneling, which has been banished.

Future Dining Room:

In the Before shot of the dining room, you see that it is enclosed not only in more wood paneling, but also more specifically with walls.  We wanted to open the whole space up, so the big thing you will notice here is that there are no walls.  In fact, in the After shot you are not only looking at what will be the new dining room, but you are also getting a view of what will be the new open concept kitchen.

Future Master Bedroom:

What do you notice first? Probably the pretty view.  But once you get past that you notice that in the After picture there is not one, but two sets of windows.  That’s because we blew out the wall between the old master and the room next to it, to make one large master.  Yep. It’s big.  Notice the nice insulation?  None of the houses that we previously owned were insulated.  Insulation, plus the new double glazed windows means our house will be cozy but also way more energy efficient.

Future Office:

Remember I told you the Lower Level of the house used to be licensed as a dance studio.  Well, it came complete with changing rooms.  What you see in the Before picture is one of the changing rooms, with a small window and an entrance from a side stairwell. We got rid of the stairwell and the door and replaced it with one larger window.  This will be my new office. Hubby gets an identically sized office right next door in the other former changing room. Until now we’ve always shared an office, but because of how the house is built, there were some walls we just couldn’t move.  So we’ve ended up with his and hers offices.

Back of the house:

You’ve seen the pictures of what the front of the house looks like.  But seeing the house from the front doesn’t really give you a good idea of its size.  Seeing it from the back you get a better perspective, as well as a good view of the scope of the remodel, including all the scaffolding.  Notice all the shiny new windows?  We kept a similar profile as the old windows, but brought them up to code for safety egress.  The big change here is the addition of a French door.  We kept their profile is quite simple to echo the windows and the style of the house.  Also, the walls are being prepped for new stucco.  The old stucco had to be replaced in some parts because of water damage mentioned previously, but our contractor advised us to refinish all the stucco as the old stucco showed signs that it isn’t as waterproof as it should be.  They are going to use an acrylic stucco to make the surface more impermeable. Oh, and we also got rid of the brick planter boxes at the base of the house which were also the source of some water issues.

So there you have it.  A lot of progress. 🙂

Ilaria - Wow! Transformation. How long do you reckon the job will take? Why did you close of the big window in the living room ?

isadorag - Actually, the window is still there. But because we opened up all the walls, I took the Progress photo from further away.

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In the Mood: Le Look Marin


Growing up in Paris, you quickly become aware of fashion.  One of my earliest memories of fashion was when I was about eight years old and the big trend that Spring/Summer was le Look Marin, the sailor look. The design was first popularized Coco Chanel and featured blue and white striped shirts, over the years the look has been worn by countless celebrities seen here and here.  But did you know that it was originally part of the French sailor’s uniform?  And did you know that the original design featured 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon’s victories.

I’ve taken inspiration from this look, because I like its breezy, yet sophisticated casualness.  Perfect for a family room.

1. Kivik sectional

2. Flat Weave Stripped Rug

3. Marin Media Console

4. Alseda Stool

5. Black Leaning Wall Mirror

6. Cavett Leather Chair

7. Metal cage pendant light

8. From left to right: Blue Patterned Pillow, Coral Throw Pillow CoverBlue Stripe pillow

The centerpiece of any family room is the sofa, in our case it’s going to be a sectional.  In our last family room I opted for a charcoal gray fabric.  A more forgiving color for the inevitable spills, but I always thought I would be better served by I sofa with a slip cover; one that can easily be tossed in the wash. After looking at many slipcovered sectionals, I’ve opted for the Kivik from Ikea.  It’s not only affordable, I also love that the slipcover is not skirted.  While white is not the obvious choice for a house with two young boys, white is the cheapest slipcover, therefore the cheapest to replace if  need be.  The other pieces in the room serve to balance out the white sectional with the warmth of the wood, or the pop of color with the blue.  I love the media console and the accent chair from Crate & Barrel in my mood board, but at about $1000+ for each, I need to look for more affordable solutions.  So, I’m on the hunt for vintage pieces that will serve the same purpose.

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Vintage Finds: A Little Bling

A couple of weeks ago, when all the additional co$t$ were coming in due to structural work being demanded by the City inspector, I was not happy.  So, after a couple of days, I decided that a little treasure hunting was just what the doctor ordered.

I set my sights on Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.  I’d never been to a ReStore outlet, but had heard good things.  Not only do they have a lot of recycled building supplies, the also have smaller home furnishings.  I figured it was likely to be a hit and miss scenario, but worth investigating.  What did I come home with?  Gorgeous, sculptural glass pieces.  Granted, these are no vintage cut crystal Baccarat, the sort that my aunt likes to collect at her local vide grenier (it literally means “empty the attic”, but is the French version of a garage sale).  What the pieces lack for in provenance, they make up for with style.

I love the optical illusion created by the pattern in the punch bowl.  Can’t say I’ve ever really had much punch in my life, but with a bowl like this, I’m inspired.

I picked up this decanter, then put it back, then picked it up again.  A woman  suggested I use it in the bathroom for some bath oils, but I think I will stick with its original intent. While I am not much of drinker, I do fancy the idea of setting up a little “bar” area in our new home.  Perhaps on a tray, or perhaps on one of those cool bar carts that seem to have come back in vogue.

Lastly, is my little vide poche.  Literally, means “empty pockets”.  But I have more fanciful ideas for this bowl than just loose change and receipts.  I can see it on a little side table filled with something sweet for guests to nibble on when they visit.

Don’t you love all the geometric patterns?  The tally, a mere $13.95 with tax.  The punch bowl was $6.95, the decanter $4.50, and the vide poche $2.50.  That’s my kind of bling.

For the record I have an affinity for elegant tableware and the likes.  This goes back to my days of working in public relations for Christofle.  It would appear that in my case, you can take the girl out of the luxe, but can’t take out the luxe out of the girl.

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In the Mood: Making a Splash

via Pure Nature Photos on Etsy

For our Lower Level Bathroom, I want to go with a softer look than in the Boys’ Bathroom. This bathroom serves multiple functions.  It is the bathroom that my mother will use.  It is the bathroom that we will use from  the family room and the office.  It is also the bathroom that will be used when coming in from the pool.  Speaking of pools and water, that was my inspiration for this bathroom.  The image above beautifully evokes the watery feeling I’m going for.

I didn’t want to go with a more expected blue, I want more of an acqua.  Since this will be my mother’s main bathroom, I thought that a greener color would work nicely with the celadon pieces she collected in Thailand, including one celadon soap dish in the shape of a fan, which she procured during one of her stays at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok.  It’s one of her favorite hotels in the world, so I figured a subtle reference to a place she holds dear would be a nice touch given her most recent health issues.

1. ByGone Classic Light

2. Bancroft shower and handshower kit by Kohler

3. Bancroft faucet by Kohler

4. 48″ Bella vanity with white Carrara marble top

5. 25″ beveled edge frameless mirror

I want the bathroom to have nice finishes and be ever so slightly feminine. The bun feet on the vanity,  the rounded mirror and the curvy hardware add to that look .  BTW – on the mirror you’ve probably seen the look before, but when I found it at Lowe’s for way cheaper, I didn’t hesitate.  The items I hard the hardest time with in this bathroom, strangely, were the sconces. I was looking at some sconces at Restoration Hardware when they were on 25% off sale. I love their design.  But, the sconce I was looking at had a shade made of fabric.  Even though the silk is supposed to be treated to be moisture resistant, I was still not convinced, especially as this bathroom doesn’t have any windows.

I’ve narrowed down my tile choices for this bathroom.  Again, I plan to mix high and low and keep it bright.  All the white tile will be standard tile from Home Depot.  I’m planning on using the 4″x4″ at just $1.25 sq/ft, mixed with a chair rail, and a square mosaic tile for the shower floor.  The floor will have 12″x12″ Ming Green tile, with a mosaic detail.  My big splurge is the green accent tile for the shower stall.  It’s Walker Zanger  and is $15.95 A PIECE.  I’m 90% convinced I’m going to use it, but with the hits the budget has been taking, if I can find something pretty, but cheaper, I may change my mind.

So, this is the plan.  Like?

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A Table: Simple 5 Ingredients Tomato Sauce

My mother went into surgery yesterday.  She had a complete right hip replacement.

This inspired me to make one of her all time classics, Spaghetti con Sugo Rosso.  Literally, Spaghetti with Red Sauce.  Why?  Because this is her idea of comfort food, because when she first started to learn how to cook she was living in Rome.  The city where I was later born.

In her honor, I’ll be starting a series of recipes called “A Table“, which in French means “come to the table”, but its meaning is the same as “dinner is served”.

Our family loves food and this is definitely one of our go to recipes.  This is a really simple recipe but also very flavorful.  However, it does require a little elbow grease… you’ll see.


1/2 onion chopped finely

2-3 garlic cloves, smashed

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 medium cans peeled tomatoes

5-6 leaves of fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan heat up your olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add in your onions and make them sweat until golden.  Add in your smashed but still whole cloves of garlic.  Cook the garlic on medium heat. You want the garlic to cook and infuse the oil with its aromas.

Now for the muscle part of the recipe.  You will need a food mill, or as we like to call it, a passa pomodoro.  Pass your tomatoes through the food mill, letting the juices and puree fall directly into your sauce pan.  I like to cut my tomatoes into chunks that are more manageable, but my mother passes them through whole.  Some brands of peeled tomato also come in a chunk variety, so it’s up to you.  Passing the tomatoes through the food mill helps to produce a really fine puree, but also has the added benefit of removing the seeds.  It took me a while to pass the two cans through the mill, so I think this part of the recipe depends on how fit you are.  I am obviously not very. 😉

Add  your fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper to taste.  Let your sauce reduce on gentle heat, with no cover on the pan.  Stir regularly.  This takes anywhere between 30-45 minutes depending on your desired consistency.  Before serving on your favorite fresh pasta, fish out the garlic cloves and the basil leaves.  You want them there for their aroma while cooking, but don’t need to bite into chunks of cooked garlic or basil.

Serve on top of your favorite pasta. For a classic tomato sauce, I recommend spaghetti or rigatoni.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil, or with a generous grating of  fresh parmesan. Serves 6-8 depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta.

A Table!

P.S.  Pomi makes a ready made strained tomato product, which I used to use in college.  Not exactly the same, but close.



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