Angel Holding Holly

Angel Holding Holly

Something happens when the Christmas decorations become covered with Snow.  The Greens become more crisp and the Reds are more vibrant.  Like a finished off chocolate crinkle cookie which a dusting of powdered sugar makes perfect, my outdoor decor is complete.  Thanks to Mother Nature.

Merry Christmas Everyone.  From our Home to yours.

Merry Christmas! Welcomes Friends and Family at the side door.

Merry Christmas! Welcomes Friends and Family at the side door.

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I love the way the spruce look with snow covered tips.

I love the way the spruce look with snow covered tips.The old Egger sleds have been reinvigorated as Holiday Decor.

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The Hollys in the ground are bursting with berries.

The Hollys in the ground are bursting with berries.I couldn't bear to through out all the dried hydrangea from late fall, so I made the urns work with my Christmas scheme.I couldn’t bear to throw out all the dried hydrangea from late fall, so I made the urns work with my Christmas scheme.

I love lots of green organic window box filler with a pop of red and a bit of other colors.

I love lots of green organic window box filler with a pop of red and a bit of other colors.

This year I splurged on Magnolia stems.  I love the reminder of the South at Christmas and they add a level of sophistication to the arrangements.

This year I splurged on Magnolia stems. I love the reminder of the South at Christmas and they add a level of sophistication to the arrangements.

  The kitchen is the heart of the home and the new kitchen at 4820 Washington Boulevard certainly has my heart. Tripled in size from the original kitchen here, it is pleasing to the eye and pleasing to the busy cook.

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The original kitchen was a postage stamp size flashback to the 60’s, when I think it was remodeled. I think this because when we demolished the space, there was a doorwary or cased opening leading out to the hall (see prior post). Also, the former owner remembers the carpenter building the cabinets on site when he was a boy. The closing of the door to the hall left only one entry to the kitchen and that was through the Dining Room and the Breakfast Nook and into the kitchen. In all fairness, there was a door leading outside through the pantry area so groceries did not have to be hauled through the entire house, but it was still discombobulated. It must also be noted that many women, at the time of the design of the kitchen space, had “help” and having the kitchen tucked away from the rest of the house was the norm. I know at one point there was “help” in this house, as the hole for the server’s buzzer is still in the Dining Room Floor.

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As mentioned in an earlier post, I tried and tried to figure out a use for the angled walled original Breakfast Nook. I can be pretty creative, but ultimately I was designing the Heart of the Home, so it had to be just right. The decision was made to slice off the entire Nook and rebuild the space as a section of the kitchen.

Before the Demolition of the Breakfast Nook.

Before the Demolition of the Breakfast Nook.

Literally Chopped off the house.

Literally Chopped off the house.

Squared out and featuring two original leaded glass windows, this section houses the sink, which I call “the most used appliance” in the house. My sink is a large, deep, single bow, stainless steel model made by Vigo. The faucet is also Vigo and looks rather industrial. Perhaps a bit trendy, but since the whole wall of cabinets is devoted to clean up, I thought it was fitting.

Sunlight beams through the two re-purposed leaded glass casement windows.

Sunlight beams through the two re-purposed leaded glass casement windows.

There are no uppers on the sink run. Instead, the lower cabinets featuring many drawers, provide storage and convenience. The furniture like open shelf cabinet to the left rests on the Carrera Marble counterop and holds the small television and the glasses we use every day. The wall in this area is covered in a medallion Natural Linen Cartouch wallpaper. The large round medallions are a subtle contrast to the diamond panes of glass in the windows.

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Yes…….I have two dishwashers. A luxury, turned necessity, as I have quickly gotten use to the power of two! The panel front Bosch dishwashers on each side of the sink make clean up easy.

The little window facing the front was original to the house and is actually half of the set which was above the sink in the old kitchen. This is the space where we house our coffee station. I believe that things you do every single day should be made special. Since drinking coffee is part of our morning routine, I have placed two silver trays, one keeping the maker and one keeping the accoutrements conveniently in the corner near a shelf with hooks for mugs.

There is always room for our permanent coffee station because the countertops on the sink run are 9 inches deeper than standard.

There is always room for our permanent coffee station because the countertops on the sink run are 9 inches deeper than standard.

In order to get an island in the center of the kitchen, we moved the wall separating the kitchen and the dining room toward the dining room by about 42 inches. This allowed space for an ample island. 9 x 3 feet to be exact. The island is handsome, painted a medium grey called Fawn Brindle. It houses the silverware, a double trash station, measuring cups, cake pans and all my pots and pans. The GE Advantium convection microwave is built in the center of the island and it is a convenient and often used appliance.

The island holds the convection microwave oven, trash, and many drawers for storage.

The island holds the convection microwave oven, trash, and many drawers for storage.

Since Carrera Marble can read somewhat cold, I knew I wanted a warm top for the island. Wood was the natural choice, as that is what worked for us in our last kitchen.  Originally, I dreamt of finding an old table top which could be used as the countertop, but I realized that the size of the island I had designed was ruling out many options. Then I came up with the bright idea to create a top in a chevron pattern, made out of strips of wood. What I landed on was actually a herringbone pattern made out of Hickory boards. The best part is that it was made by my very own dad! He found the hickory, which is hard as nails, planed it, cut it into strips and put together the puzzle of angled boards to create the perfect top. It looks as if it could have been an old, long French table top. 

The Hickory top in a herringbone pattern is distressed, stained, glazed and sealed.

The Hickory top in a herringbone pattern is distressed, stained, glazed and sealed.

There was a spot carved out by removing the hall closet between the stairway and the kitchen.  This space was perfect for another furniture like piece which features two more of those old doors, plus a specially designed wine drawer.  The doors and drawers are all inset and the inside of the cabinet holds all my glass serving pieces.  To have them out and on display makes using them very easy.  Underneath, the large deep drawers can hold heavy items.  When I entertain, this cabinet is my go-to spot.

 

I got the idea for these wine drawers from an antique wine cabinet I saw online.

I got the idea for these wine drawers from an antique wine cabinet I saw online.

 

 

This useful cabinet features wine drawers, heavy items storage and a beautiful view of my collection of glass serving pieces.

This useful cabinet features wine drawers, heavy items storage and a beautiful view of my collection of glass serving pieces.

 

There is a walk-in pantry in the kitchen which extends to the back hall.  On the kitchen side, the bomber door which was orgininally between the breakfast nook and kitchen swings both ways.  To the back hall, another original door allows access from that area of the house.  It is a busy area, where I store many food items, but also small appliances, buffet plates and the master list of needs.  Before I leave for the grocery I snap a picture of the list and I have it on my phone for reference.  I also put motion detecting lights in the pantry so switches don’t need to be touched while cooking.  I also have an entire floor to ceiling wall of pegboard and hooks for those much used, but sometimes hard to find items such as tape, measuring spoons, extra keys, bottle openers, flashlights, etc.  Junk drawer-esq stuff, but now easy to locate.

 

The original bomber door allows easy access to the walk through pantry.

The original bomber door allows easy access to the walk through pantry.

I placed a sixteen inch round sink with both a pot filler faucet and a reverse osmosis spicket to the left of the 36 inch range.  I wash vegetables here and also fill it with drinks and ice for parties.  Two large upper cabinets flank the simple range hood.  I store the most used dishes in these uppers, with the exception of the top shelves, which are simply for display. 

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To warm this wall up, I chose a beautiful honey, white, cream and grey marble for the backsplash.  It blends perfectly with the Carrera Marble tops and adds a welcoming warmth to the kitchen. 

The details in this space seem to go on and on, but rather than describing, I will end this post with pictures. 

Howard, Jenni's and Charlie's silver baby spoons serve as art in the kitchen.

Howard, Jenni’s and Charlie’s silver baby spoons serve as art in the kitchen.

 

A must at any busy sink!

A must at any busy sink!

 

Separated drawers make organizing a breeze.

Separated drawers make organizing a breeze.

A chalk message board is placed between the kitchen and the side door.

A chalk message board is placed between the kitchen and the side door.

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I like a formal dining space in a house. If only to look at most of the time and relish in how pretty it is. Many will use their dining room as a “catch all” or a dump space. Not here at 4820 Washington Boulevard. It’s job is to serve as eating space for more formal gatherings or meals with guests and generally to look beautiful.

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We see the dining room from the kitchen, from the foyer, from the Living Room and from the Den, so it has a lot of opportunity to show off it’s good looks. It is bright, light, detailed and a very happy place to both use and to view.

The decision to make the Dining Room smaller than the original footprint was an easy one. There was not enough space for the kitchen to house the large island I wanted, unless 2.5 feet was shaved off the Dining Room. The large opening created between the Dining Room and Kitchen on one side, the large windows on the opposite side and the widened opening to the foyer give the illusion that the room is larger than in really is.

The original Dining Room.  This small arch thru the breakfast room was the only access to the kitchen.  We opened up the wall the the left.

The original Dining Room. This small arch thru the breakfast room was the only access to the kitchen. We opened up the wall the the left.

While the built in China Cabinets look mammoth, they are really just tall and skinny. The drawers are a mere eighteen inches, but as you will see, they pack punch. Heavy weight slides allow me to pack them with china and silverware and since there are twelve of them total, they hold everything I want to store out of sight. For the display items, four huge glass front doors enclose two large China Cabinets. Glass shelves let the built in lights stream through all of my crystal and colorful glazed ceramic while creating a nice ambiance at night.

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These furniture doors were acquired when searching for such things on Craigs List last Spring. I wanted tall glass -front doors, preferably with some details fitting with how the house was shaping up. The owner of these posted at ten p.m. one night, just as I was searching. The next day they were mine and I learned that they came out of a hotel downtown. The seller was a member of the wait staff and noticed that the remodelers were trashing everything taken out of the grand dining room. She knew she had room to store the beautiful doors, so he asked if she could have them. Thanks to her, as they are the perfect focal point in the Dining Room. I bought a total of six and used the other two in the kitchen.

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Shamrock Cabinets built the china cabinets for the doors.  All painted Sherwin Williams Sedate Grey are inset drawers on the bottom accentuated with large, contemporary chrome pulls. The soft close feature of the drawers is dreamy, as I never have to worry about drawers gaping open in this busy traffic area. Curved French feet at the base of each cabinet draw out the curves of the doors and the handles.

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I wallpapered the backs of the upper cabinets with a cherry blossom print in metallic ivory and strawberry pink. The colors, which are my favorite combo, are used in a sophisticated way with the rather Asian print on the back of the chairs and the green silk like wallpaper used above the millwork around the top of the room. I railroaded this green wallpaper, not only to avoid seams, but to create a horizontal line around the room. It is a contrast to the large vertical accents of the china cabinets and panelling.  Had I run it the “intended” way, it would have looked striped and heavy, rather than lineal and flowing. 

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The dining table, I ordered from One Kings Lane during my search for a trestle table which was not too wide for the small room. I wanted to fit six around a table for every day use and up to ten for larger gatherings. (We have gathered as many as twelve adults for a meal.  Cozy to say the least, but it worked!)  This handsome sandblasted wood table fit the bill.  It has two large leaves for those larger dinners and the chairs I got from Home Decorators work nicely with it.

I have two rugs for this room. A bright green Dhurrie rug for Spring and Summer and a more neutral one for Winter. The Dhurrie is great because it can be rotated and flipped with ease, so it will hopefully not look worn for many years. the 8 x 10 size fits perfectly. The panels on the window, which hang on the original rods and hardware, are a store bought linen and ivory weave which I embellished with a leading edge trim. It is a simple and elegant look and it lets the centerpiece of dried flowers in center of the room be the focal point.

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After

After

The back yard has been a little more stubborn taking shape than the front at 4820 Washington Boulevard. It is just tricky. Areas which I thought would be full shade are in fact part sun. Beds where I need symmetry are sunny on half and shady on the other. And the Grass needs a lot of work, as there was much rock left behind once the big pile of earth was spread out and the dust settled.

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All in all though, we are very happy with the large, square back yard. We have entertained a great deal on the patio and played countless games of volleyball and badminton on the flat grassy part. The views from the inside are softened by four evergreens planted in the back. Blue Spruce to pick up the slate on the roof and the stamped concrete on the patio.

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Outside the Den walls, we planted a Firebird Crab which screens the patio views from the street and provides pretty color in the Spring. Along the South fence line I believe Hostas will be the ground cover. I planted several and even split two I salvaged from this yard into five. They all took nicely but I will be adding in twenty or so more this late summer and by next spring, the whole area should be filled in.

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When I was designing the back patio, Howard was a bit overwhelmed by how large it was. I told him then that no one ever looks back and says “honey, I just wish we would not have made the patio so big”. I was right and the dimensions really work with the scale of the house and how we live. Ron Heck did a beautiful job stamping dark grey dyed concrete into a pattern and texture very reminiscent of the slate roof. He then colored it with a Shrek green powder that brought the concrete to a bluish grey hue. We get loads of compliments and it is very pretty under foot. The contrast of the new concrete with the old stones we used for walkways makes me very happy.

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The moss covered creek-stone which once lined the original patio swirls along the side of the house and draws the eye in or out, depending on where you are standing. It also acts as a little work of art when taking in views from the Den. The limestone pavers which served for years as the top of the patio here, where used to create a walk along the garage, from the patio to the drive. The add interest and seem much more natural than a concrete walk would have been. Along the Drive on North Side, we planted Stella D’Ora lilies on the sunny side and put dow pachysandra as ground cover and ferns in the window boxes on the shady side. It is quite the juxtaposition, but it works with the varied sunlight. I planted a vegetable garden along the back of the neighbor’s garage. It is wild and crazy and I have learned a lot my first time out as a gardener. Next year a flower cutting garden may be in order instead.

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The wall of stones here needed to be re-purposed.

The wall of stones here needed to be re-purposed.

Laying down the stone for a path on Den side of thee house.

Laying down the stone for a path on Den side of thee house.

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The mossy stones with grass growing around them look as if they have neem there for decades.
4820 Washington Blvd. was a train wreck a year ago.

4820 Washington Blvd. was a train wreck a year ago.

A year ago, the project at 4820 Washington Boulevard was in full swing. The curb appeal of the house was non existent. In fact, a train wreck may be the best way to describe the way the house looked from the street. Just as inside, the outside had to be torn apart before it could be put back together. There was really no landscaping to speak of in the front beds. Large overgrown Juniper, many layers of ground cover and what I call “weed bushes” and “weed trees” grew out front. Once the large trees and bushes were removed, I myself, tackled the gnarly ground cover. Once it was out of the way I could see an opportunity for year round color.

Just a few days ago.

Just a few days ago.

I designed soft curved beds in the front which contain knockout roses, holly, magnolia, and are maxed out with limelight hydrangea. I may be the most patient person I know, but when July 15 rolled around this year and I still had no buds on these promised beauties, I panicked a bit. Sure enough, just a few days later, the buds and then blooms began to appear. Right now, the Limelight are about 2/3 of the way to Full Bloom status. It was amazing to me how in a matter of days, the front of the house was softened and brightened by the large, light green, cone shaped clusters of flowers. The reward of the late bloomers is the color changes of the flowers all the way through October. I look forward to watching the show! image                     20130730-213740.jpg

We kept two trees in the front from the original yard. The smaller pink Dogwood rests in the bed right outside the dining room widow. Next to it sits a bird bath. The birds oscillate from Dogwood branch to bath……..bath to Dogwood Branch. The large white flowered Dogwood was one of the most beautiful in the neighborhood this Spring. Finally, not overshadowed by all the other elements of the old yard, created a lovely canopy of Spring beauty. A Robin chose it as the perfect place to build her nest and lay her eggs. The constant on the left side of the house is the moss covered bench discovered during the excavating. One of the original foundation bases was broken during construction so I got two new ones and placed the unbroken original leg in the center. I found out from the former owner of the house that the bench was there when his parents bought the house in the 50’s. I would love to know just how old it is.

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I have changed the window boxes out four times since the onset of Spring. I started out with Lavender, Heather and Pansies in the early Spring. Once it got warmer I placed New Guinea Impatiens in the large planters in bulk. Realizing the East facing front gets too much sun for the Impatiens, I replaced them with a mix of Geraniums and Calla Lilies. The Lavender will make it’s home in the South facing bed along the back walk and the Heather and Impatiens are living in the beds surrounding the patio right now. I placed the Calla Lily plants in front of a trio of Evergreens which we grouped in the back corner of the yard. For the remaining days of Summer, the window boxes in front are filled with Pink Geraniums and Purple Vinca. In mid-September mums will bring a Fall like feel to the house and in November it all will be replaced by greenery and pinecones for the Holidays. I really could not be happier with how the curb appeal is shaping up a year after we started this project. It makes me smile when I see walkers smile as they glance at the front yard. I imagine they are remembering the train wreck they saw this time last year.

The window boxes filled for the Holidays.

The window boxes filled for the Holidays.

The view out the front door last September.

The view out the front door last September.

The view out the front door today.

The view out the front door today.

Wouldn't you spend time among the hydrangeas if you were this color?

Wouldn’t you spend time among the hydrangeas if you were this color?

We have been waiting for a big snow to enjoy the view from the Den on the South Side of the house. It came today in the form of a windy Blizzard. The ground was covered when we woke up and throughout the day, Old Man Winter dumped several inches on Central Indiana. Howard has been looking forward to sitting in the room, windows on three sides and a fireplace in the center, and bask in the whiteness of it all.

Had someone told me that I would have a room painted entirely white, I would not have believed them. Until this room transformed from a dingy side porch to a retreat room. A place to put your feet up and get away from it all. The room to read in, chat in, relax in, all while being surrounded by the outdoors. I wanted nature to be the color in this room, as three sides are windows. Ever changing, ever natural color is what we will see as one season fades or blooms into the next.

The furniture here is a mix of natural yellows, greens and linen, with a splash of pink for a bit of drama. I counter-acted the slightly feminine with more masculine wood treatments. On the floor is the recycled pine and on the fireplace is a handsome, simple, molding. I ended up letting the floors get naturally distressed and the day before the furniture arrived, I cleaned them well and applied a coat of Watco Danish Oil in Rich Walnut. The color is warm and rich and accents the subtle dings, dents and scratches provided by months of wear and tear.

The sofa is a soft corduroy/chenille and is comfortable, big and welcoming. The transitional chairs are swivel, high armed chairs and can be moved from room to room if extra seating is needed. In the front window I placed a small writing desk and a Parsons chair. From the sofa, there is a view out the front, to the South side and to the entire back yard. The columns on the front porch and on the back porch can be enjoyed at the same time as the roaring fire in the fireplace and the goings on outside in the neighborhood.

Small rooms can be so comforting, cozy and relaxing, and this one is all of those. It is made to feel a great deal larger though, as it opens up to the outdoors and to the large Living Room through the cased openings and the double sided fireplace. Lamplight and sconces are the only lighting in the den. Somehow I felt that an overhead light or cans would damage the intimacy this room possesses.

So call me crazy, but the snow was a great excuse to sit in this room most of the day, this day after Christmas. I felt connected to what was happening outside but cocooned in the warmth of our new home all at the same time. The Den delivered what we had expected from it. Comfort and Joy.

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I suppose technically we live in all the rooms of the new house, but we call this one the Living Room for a reason.  This is where the majority of our time is spent.  It is the largest room of the house, and I firmly believe that when presented with the biggest room in a house, one should live in it.  Of course, living in a room these days likely means that the television inhabits the room too.  In the case of this Living Room, the t.v. is front and center.  Mounted over the original fireplace, which has been decked out to accept such an important element of a room, such as the t.v.image The original fireplace was simple, but of course not clad with enough trim for my taste.  I wanted a wall of picture frame moldings, framing not only the television, but two sconces flanking it.  The t.v. surround was created in such a way that the screen was flush with either side.  The mantle was beefed up, crowns were placed over each cased opening leading into the den, and appliques were applied in the center, under the mantle.  The original brick was covered with a beautiful honey onyx medley mosaic tile, which I chose because it reminded me of a honeycomb.  This tile from The Tile Shop is accented nicely with the honey onyx large tiles on the hearth.  Angie Lane did a lovely job mitering the corners and spreading the slightly grey tiles throughout.  It is warm and cheerful, and dresses up the fireplace in a very elegant way.

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It made sense to preserve the crown molding chosen originally for this house.  Since we did not have to take any walls in the Living  to the studs, I wanted to add to, rather than re-do.  The result is a chunky horizontal line that defines this space.  We added one opening leading to the back hall and basement staircase to the North, and opened up an existing opening to the den.  Along with those cased openings, we squared off the arches leading to the foyer and the sitting room, creating a great deal more light and a height that we could not have achieved had we kept the arches.

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The original hardwoods were finished by The Great Indoors, and Brian Depp and I went out on a limb here.  I wanted a look that was not pristine, rather a more casual but refined and forward finish for the floors.  He told me that he had been playing around with some grey-brown finishes and when he put it down, I knew it was what I was looking for.  I have had the high gloss, heavily laquered floors before, and for this house, it just didn’t feel right.  While these look more matte, they should age nicely with the house, serve as a neutral base for all around them, and be very forgiving as we live here.

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Under the front window is a sweet loveseat which I purchased from an estate sale in our neighborhood.  It has french lines and is comfortable.  I had it covered in a simple check with a hint of blue on a neutral base.  Blue is the accent color in this room and gold, beige and grey serve as the neutrals.  A  special Thank You to Heritage Fabrics and Design Center, Steve Burroughs Upholstery and my dear friend Janey Toone for all the upholstery and pillow fabrication.

image  Every room has to have a hint of my favorite neutral which is green, and the living room is no exception.  The various stained wood pieces and the leather sofa warm this room up and make it a place where people want to kick their shoes off and stay a while. In a big room like this, lighting is extremely important.  I have the belief that a room this size needs at least three types of lighting.  I chose an antique pineapple chandelier in the center of the room, the sconces on the fireplace surround (bought off the shelf at a big box store), various lamps, and of course the light of the roaring fire when we choose to enjoy it.

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From a spot on the sofa, there is a panoramic view of the entire South side of the house.  You can see Washington Boulevard out of the large front window, all along the side yard out of the  den windows, and into the back yard and patio through the leaded glass sitting room windows.  It is an unexpected view, but one we are enjoying a great deal.

I know you all love to see the “before” shots too, so here you are. What the Living room looked like a few months ago.
4820 LRLiving Room Fireplace Before