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Four days away from my due date and the artwork is hung, the shelves are styled, and the drawers are organized — the nursery is complete, without a moment to spare! This is probably one of my favorite rooms in the house now. My husband painted it (Kentucky Haze by Benjamin Moore), installed floating shelves and hung up all of the artwork, and I stood in the corner and directed (A little to the left! You missed a spot!) — team effort! After all of that hard work it’s one of the rooms in our home that has a sense of completeness — and will feel even more complete when our little tenant arrives soon. I am so excited to share a few more details below! 

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We are getting into the holiday spirit over here with a few festive little decorations popping up around the house! I have to admit that I almost scrooge’d out on Christmas this year — the task of putting up a Christmas tree during month 9 of pregnancy (and perhaps taking it down with a newborn baby at home?) exhausted me just thinking about it. Luckily my husband pushed me to be a bit more spirited, particularly since my family is going to come and stay with us at the holidays for the first time ever! read more

With a blink of an eye it seems as though the holiday season is upon is! Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and once we finish our turkey, December always speeds right by Christmas and New Years are popping up on the calendar. This holiday season is a little bit different for us, since I’m inching through my third-trimester, we’ll be doing a bit less traveling to see friends and family out of state, and instead having some visitors stay with us! I’m sad about missing a few traditions that my family does in NY, but I’m actually really excited for mix things up and have family stay with us for the first time ever. Making everyone feel at home and special — since it’s a new tradition we’re starting this year — is top of mind for me right now. I thought it was the perfect time to share a few of my tips for how to prepare for house guests and make everyone feel welcome!img_5787 read more

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared some house updates! In general a lot of our home improvement projects slowed down after I got pregnant — not being able to paint has put a damper on some of my DIY abilities. One room that has gotten a bit of a makeover since we moved in that I’m excited to share today is the dining room. We painted the dining room, and removed all the doors that close it off from the kitchen and living room only a few months after moving in. After that, we just popped in some hand me down furniture and craigslist pieces from our apartment and walked away. With the holidays coming up, I really wanted to “finish” this space and have it be a place where we could entertain friends and family. Of course no space is ever really finished, but we did tackle a few improvements to give it a fresh look.img_5790 read more

So, nesting is a real thing, huh? I love me some decorating, but I’ve never really been so meticulous about a “plan” for a room before, until I started thinking about how we’re going to decorate Baby B’s room. We were both on board with finding out the gender, so it’s nice to go into the planning process with a girl-scheme in mind. It’s been really fun to research the pieces we want to use in the space, and now I feel like I have some clear marching orders for what we need to invest in, what we’re adding to our baby registry, and what little details will pull it all together. nursery-mood-board-modern-coral

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We’ve been busy chipping away room by room at our house to bring things up to date, I still feel like none our rooms are totally “finished” (let’s be real: will I ever?), but gosh are things starting to look better (aka a little more 2016 and a little less 1974). Figured it was about time to finally share some updates here, starting with our kitchen. We outsourced two major projects in the kitchen over the winter: removing the coal stove that took up a major part of the room’s footprint, and installing new hardwood floors — bye bye to the linoleum straight off the set of That 70’s Show!  Those two projects have already made it into a totally new space. IMG_2182 read more

I finally feel like we have our first ‘complete’ room in our house after a mini-makeover of our downstairs bathroom. Of course this is the one room in our house that I forgot to take ‘before’ pictures of, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that these small projects made a huge impact on this little space. The bathroom was a dark rust color and had a huge dark wood cabinet on the wall and a beat-up, yellowed laminate vanity. Our first order of business was giving it a fresh coat of paint with a really rich blue color — Hamilton Blue by Benjamin Moore — I love how it looks.  Once we started painting, it made the laminate flooring look so dingy and gross, so I made a brave decision to try to tile the bathroom floor myself. I did lots of research online, and got some advice from a friendly sales associate at Home Depot, and managed to do a pretty solid looking job of installing a marbled hexagon penny tileProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset read more

A few weeks back a member of our Boston Bloggers group approached me about photographing our apartment for Houzz. I’m sure anyone who rents would agree with me, that apartment living isn’t always perfect — you have to work with what you have (in my case, crazy zig-zag carpeting and a kitchen with no cabinets!). Knowing those imperfections can be the things that I dwell on, I was a little apprehensive at first — but Faith from Design Fixation photographed our space and I’m so touched seeing the images that she captured of it. We’re in the very beginning stages of house-hunting (exciting! terrifying!) and I’m so happy to know that this imperfect little apartment where we got engaged, married, and built a pretty cool adult life is preserved. I pulled a few of my favorite details from the shoot below, if you’d like to see more of the images and interview (plus lots of product resources) head on over to HouzzScreenshot 2015-06-25 08.49.11Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.49.53Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.49.40 Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.50.38 Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.50.59 Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.52.08Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.52.47Screenshot 2015-06-25 08.51.41All photos taken by Faith from Design Fixation

 

I was super lucky to be invited to a sneak-preview tour of this year’s HGTV Dream Home back in December and in all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I’m just getting around to sharing some photos from the day (taken by my co-pilot on our adventure to Martha’s Vineyard, Taz of Bring to Light Photography). I’ve been entering the Dream Home sweepstakes for years and was so excited to not only get to tour the 2015 home in Edgartown but also to get to meet the planners and designers that have been working on these Dream Homes for the past 19 years.

aHGTV1Tell me a little bit about how Martha’s Vineyard influenced the design of this year’s Dream Home, how did you use the island for inspiration?

HGTV Design Team: We tried to bring in as many local elements as we could — we worked with local builders and architects on the build and collaborated with local artists and artisans for some of the accent pieces in the decor. It was important for us to meet with artists and learn the stories of the pieces and how they related to the island. The space itself also has an island feel — we used a lot of traditional New England and Cape Cod architectural elements but kept the concept modernized with an open layout. aHGTV2 aHGTV3 You definitely can feel that island vibe in the home, but it doesn’t feel too ‘theme-y’ — any decorating tips for how to get the beachy-feel without being overtly nautical? 

HGTV Design Team: Editing is a big component of what gives the space that clean, airy feel. Sometimes taking something away is just as an important part of the design process as does adding something in, so we were very conscious about keeping things simple and not having too much ‘stuff.’ We also kept the common spaces a little more neutral and then brought in the more obviously nautical pieces into the guest rooms where you can have a bit more fun — like with the oversized anchor and painted oars on the wall. 
aHGTV4 aHGTV5 The great room is one of my favorite spaces in the Dream Home — what was the concept behind having on large open living space? 

HGTV Design Team: The main living space was all about celebrating natural light, even on a gray rainy day on the island this room really feels bright and airy. The floor plan also gives a lot of flexibility for any type of family size, and we always the Dream Home to be adaptable to the family that wins it. We thought about how you would use this house if you were here for vacation with friends and family — that’s a big reason behind having the kitchen open to the rest of the living space. The kitchen is usually where people gather and are part of making meals together, so it’s nice that everyone can be part of the action. And a lot of the materials that were used also keep it flexible and family friendly — like using durable Sunbrella fabrics on the upholstery to stand up to lots of use. aHGTV6 aHGTV7 aHGTV8 aHGTV9 aHGTV10A big thanks to the HGTV team to inviting us to visit the island and the Dream Home, and an extra special thanks to Bring to Light Photography for these images. 

 

As I pack up for Thanksgiving this week I’m including a few favorite kitchen tools in my overnight bag — totally normal, right? You see, I’m really quite particular about the tools that I use – which makes my family really laugh when I pull my own tongs out of my purse — but the right pieces can make all of the difference when making a meal. And after years of living in apartments with teeny-tiny kitchens, combined with a real love of cooking, I feel like I’ve honed a pretty well-curated collection of just-the-essentials kitchen tools.Best Basic Kitchen Tools 1 It hit me that maybe this list of  kitchen items (that I so passionately feel the need to pack in my suitcase) is something worth sharing with my readers as you prepare for the holiday cooking season. Check out the list below for my top 10 basic kitchen tools: Best Basic Kitchen Tools 2

  • I have tons of knives, but I always keep going back to this simple 8″ Calphalon chef knife; it works for most tasks, has a good grip, and bonus: this knife isn’t going to break the bank.
  • The Ikea Tekla dish towels are maybe the greatest deal on earth — at less than a dollar a piece I don’t ever worry about them getting stained or ruined. They’re also a staple ‘prop’ and tend to end up in a lot of my blog posts! I’m also a big fan of Williams-Sonoma classic dish towels for bigger clean-ups, they’re super absorbent and come in a really nice range of colors — shown here in the background.
  • We registered for our wedding at Pottery Barn and were gifted tons of their Great White dishes — the dipping bowls are probably my favorite item from the collection because in addition to being great serveware, they also make the perfect prep bowls to mix up spices, portion out ingredients, and bring things like butter up to room temperature; I grab these all the time when I’m prepping a recipe.
  • The Oxo y-shaped peeler is one of those items that makes you realize how terrible your old cheap kitchen tool was before you replaced it. I tossed several broken peelers before finding this great version; the shape of the handle and the grips on each side make it so much easier and faster to peel veggies.
  • My Kuhn Rikon garlic press is probably the biggest splurge on this list, but I can not stress enough how amazing this thing is — it just works so well. You’ll get much more garlic out of a single clove with this tool, and the way that the press pieces separate make for a really easy clean up (something that was so annoying with my previous garlic press!). I can’t recommend this model enough, as someone who cooks with a lot of garlic, this has changed my life in the kitchen!

Best Basic Kitchen Tools 3

  • If I could choose just one item in my kitchen to work with everyday, it would probably be my Oxo 9″ tongs; I use them pretty much every time I cook. They snap open and closed really easily and they’re the perfect length — not too big!
  • I don’t love using too many silicon kitchen tools when I’m cooking with heat, but I did need a solution for avoiding scratched pans. So a few years back I purchased Pampered Chef bamboo spatulas that I use all the time for moving things around the pan. Bamboo doesn’t transfer much heat so I always find that these are a good tool for forgetful folks like me that leave them sitting on the edge of the hot pan.
  • The Kuhn Rikon fish spatula is designed for flipping fish but I actually use it for a ton of other cooking purposes. The spatula is just flexible enough that gives you some great leverage and maneuverability for flipping delicate foods like pancakes, but is sturdy enough to handle something as substantial as burgers. I’ve had this one for years, it might be one of the oldest items in my kitchen from this list!
  • Similar to my notes above about using bamboo spatulas in lieu of silicon, I always grab my Williams-Sonoma Olive wood spoons – they’re perfect for stirring up a pot of sauce and sneaking a little taste test. Olive wood is really dense so it doesn’t absorb flavors or smells from the food, and they’re pretty darn good-looking.
  • On the rare occasion that I’m putting on my baking hat versus cooking something, I grab my Williams-Sonoma spoonula – it’s got all of the functionality of a great spatula for scraping the sides of the bowl, but the slight curve gives it utility as a spoon too (and I’m all about multi-purpose tools in a small kitchen like mine).

This listen isn’t completely comprehensive, but these are my go-to items that I use every week when cooking. A few other favorites include a good cast iron skillet, an all-clad stainless steel fry pan, a quality whisk, an olive oil drizzle bottle, my marble pastry board, and glass tupperware. Okay now spill, what are you essential kitchen tools?