Thursday, April 18, 2019

Our Home | Where to Buy and How to Care For Seagrass, Jute and Sisal Look Alike Rugs



One of the most frequent questions I get about our home is where did we buy our seagrass rugs.  They are not fancy but they have held up incredibly well with kids, dirt, muddy paws, food, etc. I love natural fiber rugs!  For the texture they add, for the layered and cozy country home vibe they bring and their cost and practicality too. I've always been happy to share the source, but the problem is the website is so difficult to navigate. My girlfriend, Carrie (Hi Care!), and I were just talking about the frustration of shopping for rugs on Overstock because you can find one you like but not in the right size.  I have no idea why each is listed separately instead of with a drop down size feature.  We have the seagrass with grey banding in an 8 x 10 (which is linked below, along with other popular sizes), which I prefer to beige banding b/c it is more forgiving with dirt and stains.  We have the same rug in our dining room and living room.


We had a Jute and Wool rug in the playroom for years, which is softer under the feet, but Quincy had so many accidents on it when he was little and had a parasite infection.  No one even wanted to attempt to clean it up. I will link that one below too.  In general, I think Jute /Wool is comfier and Seagrass is harder wearing and easier to clean.  That's just based on our experience.    In our family room we used to have an Ikea jute rug, that came unraveled so we pitched it and bought a sisal look alike rug that is actually an indoor/ outdoor rug and virtually indestructible.  It has a subtle stripe and is a dream for children and pets. 

To answer some of your most common questions...
1.  How do you clean your seagrass rugs?
I have two products I could not live without.  One is a spray, called Folex.  It is linked below.  It is awesome for completely removing stains on the twill banding.  I've used it on upholstery too.  It's basically magic spray.  Even removed red Sharpie off of our our white slipcovers.

The other is a dry carpet cleaner, perfect for seagrass as well as wool or synthetic rugs.  It looks like a powder but it's really a bunch of mini sponges that you sprinkled over the stain and let sit to pull the stain and odor out, then you vacuum the powder up.  It is an amazing product.  Quincy also had terrible diarrhea all over our antique rug in the living room.  We thought it was beyond repair, but three applications of the Host powder and it removed every last stain and looked better than ever.  (He went on to chew the same rug exactly one week later, and sadly that is damage that the carpet cleaner cannot fix. Haha. Real life with pets and children is messy. )


2. Are they comfortable?
It's not plush carpet, but when you live with them all over your home (we have wall to wall seagrass in my office upstairs) you just kind of get used to the way they feel.  We are adding a seagrass runner to our staircase at some point this year and no one really knows any difference.  When Charlie was a baby I had a wool rug layered over the jute in our family room.  Honestly though, we only have hardwood floors throughout most of our home and those aren't comfy for babies learning to crawl either.  Maybe that's why Charlie was an early walker? ;)

3. Do they shed?
Yes, underneath the carpet. Seagrass less so than Jute. If you are very allergic, then it would not be a great choice.  I vacuum regularly and have never been bothered by this. I also use rug pads.

4. Do they get clean when you vacuum? 
Ok, I LOVE my vacuum cleaner.  It's been with me for 20 years! TWENTY.  My mom has had hers even longer, 30, 40?  I would put it right up there with my top 3 household purchases, maybe number 1.  Nothing else comes close in the floor cleaning department.  And no one is paying me to say this.  Miele vacuums are exceptional when it comes to bare floors and flat rugs.  We have the C3 Cat and Dog Vacuum but I also linked another less expensive model.  Yes, it's still an investment, but I wouldn't go with the cheaper $300 version, which I didn't even link.  It is missing some of the features that make mine so indispensable.  If you have pets and you have floors and rugs, you need one. Sorry, not glamour stuff here. And, yes, my rugs feel very clean when I vacuum.


5. Do they have a funny smell?
Not really.  Certainly not after they've been in your home for a few weeks.  I have read that with some reviews, but I have never experienced it.  They are a grass and do have an earthy smell at first, but not a chemical one.


6. Sisal vs Seagrass
I prefer seagrass. We had sisal in our first home and it stained very quickly. I have seen other sisal weaves that look exactly like seagrass and some vendors use the terms interchangeably so you sort of need to know what you are looking at.  This is the sisal we had and didn't love.

7. What kind of banding should I get?  
When working with clients my preference is to go the custom route and do a self serged edge instead of the twill. If going with twill, I like the neutral grey in the ones I've listed below.  Very forgiving.  I would avoid beige or ivory. 

I believe that covers the big topics.  I hope these links are helpful!  We have been super happy for many years with the items I'm sharing in this post!

**UPDATE - thanks to a reader for finding this rug on Amazon too, which is easier to shop than overstock.  Amazon link is included below. I have the natural/grey banding option.**


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

England | Two Days in Bath


So many of you have reached out saying you've been inspired to recreate our trip to England which makes me so happy!  I hope these posts will help you navigate what you would like to do.  See here for a rough outline of our 2 week itinerary.  This post will be followed by three others, each detailing a little more of our stops. We arrived in London at 6:30 in the morning.  None of us slept on the 6 hour flight from NYC.   We actually arrived 50 minutes early - when does that ever happen?! We had decided to start our journey in Bath rather than London for a few reasons.  One is that if we started and ended in London we would be breaking up that city, finding two separate accommodations, also London is crazy busy and not the ideal landing spot for weary, jet lagged travelers.  We took a two hour bus from Heathrow to Bath. It was not necessary to buy tickets in advance. The other option would be to take the train.  You would need to take a train from Heathrow to Paddington Station and then transfer onto a train to Bath.  You will also spend more than double to take the train.  The bus ride was pretty easy, so long as you aren't prone to car or motion sickness, which our youngest traveler was and it made for a long bus ride.





Bath is a beautiful city about 90 miles outside of London in Somerset.  England is divided into regions, Somerset being a region.  It was confusing when I first started researching England because sometimes people would only refer to the region and not the city, or I would think it was a city, only to discover it was a region.  I did a lot of map googling to get my bearings and understand the lay of the land.  The city has ties back to 60 AD and Roman history when the Romans built a temple and spa around the warm springs that come up from the ground. The baths were used for about 300 years and were thought to have magical healing powers.    Bath's heyday was really during the 1700s and early 1800s when it was built up with the beautiful Georgian style limestone ("Bath Stone") buildings that predominate the architecture of the city.  It was the place to be seen for high society and the well to do. I read somewhere that the reason the sidewalks are so wide was to accommodate the elaborate Victorian dresses. There are cobblestone streets, plenty of tea rooms, cozy pubs, charming shops, as well as chain retailers we see in the US.  There are live musicians and trolly's selling warm nuts.  It is very much a walkable city bordered by the River Avon with the stunning Bath Abbey (originally built in the 7th century) at the center.  Truly a town that invites you to wander and explore on foot and feels classically English in the very best ways.  The perfect spot to start an England vacation.  Many people that go to England visit London and combine it with a couple days in the Cotswolds, I would strongly urge tagging on a day trip to Bath too.  It was different than any other place we visited.  You don't need a car to explore Bath, which is a big bonus. 

We rented a classic Georgian style townhouse through Airbnb.  Link to our place here.  It was an ideal location, plenty spacious, with wonderful hosts. The rooms were clean and bathrooms up-to-date with a large kitchen, even though I didn't prepare anything other than tea.  You are also very close to a grocery store which we stopped in to pick drinks and snacks.  The home is owned by a young couple that uses it for holidays.












We had perfect exploring weather, not too chilly and no rain.  We had a wonderful full English breakfast the first morning at Blue Quails Deli, that I highly recommend. (tons of good breakfast and brunch spots in Bath though!) We spent a couple days wandering and discovering every little corner of the city.  We especially loved the old bookstore and the little tucked away alleys and tea rooms.  We had afternoon tea at the Ivy which came highly recommended from many people.  It is a chain however, and very "posh" inside.  The food is excellent but I prefer the atmosphere of a smaller tea room with pretty floral china and a smattering of mismatched antique tables and chairs.   A visit to the Roman Baths is a must and we discovered getting there 30 minutes before they stop selling tickets was ideal.  They stopped selling tickets at 5:00 but remain open till 6:00.  We had the place almost entirely to ourselves (mind you, this is off season! I can't speak for summer).  We navigated everything through google walking maps on our phone.

We all loved Bath and would happily return. Two days is plenty time to see everything and get a good feel for the city.  On our third morning, we stopped at the Bridge Coffee Shop for cappuccinos and Cornish Pasties before picking up our rental car and heading to Stonehenge...   

Friday, April 12, 2019

England | packing for a two week trip

This post is going to be a bit different for me.  I shared in my last post what I packed for England yet, I still got a handful of DMs saying you would love details and links to clothing. So this post is for you! I often get questions about fashion and requests to share what I'm wearing, what I'm buying, what I'm eyeing....  You get the idea.  I've been reluctant to steer the blog or my instagram feed in that direction but there are times when I do think it makes sense.  I don't anticipate many posts like this, so if you aren't a fan, don't worry, it will remain 99% interior design focussed.

The items I'm sharing here should all link to the liketoknow app too, which I'm hoping is an easy reference tool rather than a pushy sales one, which I know it can certainly feel like. Bear with me if there are glitches. I've had a RewardStyle account for years and this is the first time I'm actually attempting to use it. Might be the last. Haha.  Not the most tech savvy here.

Packing for 2 weeks in England in the spring was a challenge for me and I searched high and low for suggestions or inspiration and never found anything, so I'm hoping this post will help others in the same conundrum.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted everything to fit into a carry on suitcase. Since the weather can be unpredictable, I needed things that were good in sun or rain, warm or chilly temps, and comfortable for walking many miles.  I'm most comfy in dresses and skirts, which I know isn't for everyone.  The key for me was packing light weight things that can be layered and worn multiple ways. Dresses and skirts that can be worn with or without tights or even layered over leggings, with flats or with wellies.

Here is what I took along and how I wore it...


I loved this because I could layer a sweater or cardigan over it.  Wear it with or without tights. Flats or wellies. Chambray dresses are everywhere this season,
even though I don't think of them as a trendy item. 
I'm linking other options below too.

This was my "thicker" sweater and I wore it a ton. Perfect over a dress or with a skirt or jeans, easy to layer over a long sleeve t-shirt or wear under a jacket or tie around your waist if you get too hot.

I had a lot of questions about this one.  I wore it the same way as the chambray dress above.
Super comfy material and flattering length.

I love cotton sweaters and this one is slim fitting but still fits over a dress. I wore it over my striped tunic as well. It has pockets and side slits too. I usually wear an XS in Old Navy, but went with a small in this so I could layer it over dresses that have sleeves.  

I bought these because they were more light weight than traditional Hunters.  They say packable but I wore mine on the plane and then kicked them off and stashed them under the seat when flying.  They were comfortable and perfect for rain, which we didn't have, so I could have gotten away without them.  They were ideal for walking in the muddy countryside though. 

I had this in the striped version, which seems to be sold out.  I also brought the short sleeve version in navy, white and gray, which I'll link below. I wore this with jeans and the rollneck sweater.  It is slim fitting so size up if you want a less body hugging fit.

I love wearing this with leggings and a cream cardigan. Would work with wellies or flats depending on the weather. Perfect for traveling on long flights too.

The softest leather, no need to break in, perfect to walk all over Europe in flats
If you need a lot of support or cushion, then these probably aren't for you, but if you are looking for a traditional ballet flat that is supremely comfortable from the first time you wear them, then this is your shoe. And they go with literally everything. 

I bought my typical J. Crew size which is XS.  A lot of reviews suggested sizing down.  I didn't because I wanted to be able to layer it over any thickness of sweater or even add my Patagonia sweater jacket underneath.  I like this jacket because it's light weight and covers you in the back. You can use drawstrings to cinch in the waist.

I wore this with a t-shirt and cardigan in London.  I feel this one looks best with bare legs. I bought it in a size 2 and it fits true to size. 


Super easy to pack because it folds up to nothing and it's crazy warm.  I wore this under my Rain Jacket on really chilly days or for walks in the evening.  Mine is hot pink, which I don't see available anymore, but any color works! I would probably prefer the gray or off-white.
 I wear a small in all Patagonia.

I'm linking my favorite jeans, tote (I had an extra large, which I took on plane for anything that didn't fit in my suitcase), and a few other items below.  There were a few other things I packed that were older and no longer available online. I truly hope this is helpful.  The key word is LAYERS and not too many patterns! :)