Friday, April 15, 2016

Our Office | The Perfect Green Gray Paint


My post title should really be... The Perfect Green Gray Paint - FOR MY HOUSE.  Because no matter how good a paint color can look in one room, under different lighting, with different furniture and textiles, it can look unrecognizable.  This is probably the reason paint will always be one of the trickier elements of interior design.  Yet, it continues to be one of the first sources I check in the back of magazines when I find a room I love and it is also one of my most frequently pinned items on Pinterest.  Even looking at the photo on the left isn't as helpful as I thought it would be because all the colors look so darn similar even though when they go up on the wall, they all look very different.  To me at least, my boys think I'm crazy and say they all look the same no matter what. :)

Finding a color for our office that I loved was actually pretty easy.  I really loved everything I put up. Nantucket Gray was probably my favorite of the bunch and would have been my top choice IF I wasn't also painting the ceiling and doors and trim all the same color.  After living with it for a few days, I decided it was just too dark, especially in the evening.  I didn't want the office to feel heavy and cave like - that might put a damper on productivity! Ha!  The French Gray was just a bit lighter and looked perfect when I put the sample up.  The Ball Green looked lime green, almost sickly, when I put the sample up.  And then the paint dried.  The Ball Green became the perfect mossy, not too dark, not too yellow, not too minty, shade of green.  The French Gray had turned too dark, too gray and a bit too cold for our room.  I went ahead and painted a sample on all four walls of the room, looked at the paint different times of the day and in both sunny and gray weather and it was perfect in every situation.  It was the most green of the three and the best compliment to the green found in the wallpaper of our adjoining bedroom.  Done.  Farrow and Ball Ball Green it is. (Glad all of you on Instagram agreed! :) Whew.)

Office BEFORE: I apologize for this, but it will make for a great before/after post in a couple months. Ball Green on left of secretary, French Gray on right. (desk chair will be road side soon. can. not wait. If you could have seen my face the day Jimmy brought that thing into our home....)
Top to bottom: FB Ball Green, BM Nantucket Gray, FB French Gray

My personal tips on testing + buying paint:
1.  Paint samples directly on the wall if you can.  Painting on a white sheet of paper and taping it up is ok for narrowing down choices, but it will always appear darker on the white paper than on the wall.  I don't know why, but this has been my experience. (Painting a large foam-core board would probably work well too.  I just don't usually have those on hand and I'm too impatient to test out the colors..)

2.  Apply two coats of the sample color to get the most accurate version of what the final color will look like. (All the samples above are two coats)

2. Paint large enough samples on as many of the walls as you can.  Paint can look so different depending on where the light hits.

3. Always test.  Always.  Even if your decorator swears by a color, or some design expert on pinterest says "no fail color. my go to. always works."  I have yet to find a color that always works.

4.  If you love Farrow & Ball colors, invest in Farrow & Ball paint, especially for walls.  (I'm not being paid to say this).  The Estate Emulsion for walls is so different than your typical hardware store latex based paint.  I do wish they made an oil based paint, so when I want oil I will have FB colors mixed for painting wood work.  I regret not using oil on our kitchen cabinetry, I used their recommendation for woodwork and I don't love it as much as I love their wall paints because it chips more easily than traditional oil.

Here are some examples of he above colors in use.  For the most part they look completely different than when I tested the colors in my room.  (For reference, our office has eastern and southern facing windows and gets good light the majority of the day, we also have lots of trees, so in the summer the light is very filtered.)

Nantucket Gray


FB French Gray




FB Ball Green



     





Friday, April 8, 2016

Our Home | Office Design Plan


master bedroom, office through doorway on right
It's hard to believe that we've lived in our home for more than 9 years and still have rooms that haven't been touched, but we do.  I tend to move slowly, part due to budget and part due to indecision.  When we bought our home we were a true dual career family.  After I quit my job when Charlie arrived, we really had to prioritize our spending and some years there just wasn't a lot of extra for pretty, but non functional updates.  I don't like to talk about money, because I know it is all relative.  I am grateful to live in a beautiful home, stay home with my children, and have a fun little part time business on the side, and if that means I can't always buy what I want when I want to, that is a very easy price to pay. (though I'm guilty of virtual shopping.. filling up the cart and not checking out...  tell me I'm not alone! :))

Our upstairs office has always been low on the priority list. However, it connects to our master bedroom (which I LOVE) and the two spaces couldn't be more inconsistent.  I thought this year it was time to prioritize replacing the 60+ year old carpet (Ew.), but once that decision was made, I really wanted to finish the rest of the space.  It is a small room that gets gorgeous light.  It looks out to lots of trees, with magnolias blooming in the late spring and the sound of birds singing at the first sign of a winter thaw all the way till the first frost.  It really does have potential!  It is farther away from the rest of the house too so it is a quiet and wonderful place to work.  While I call it Jimmy's office, I work in here often. (That's how I justified keeping this a very feminine looking space. ;))  I believe it was originally intended to be a dressing/sitting room since it has 3 closets, two for clothes and a linen cupboard.

A little green room inspiration...
Lauren Liess, her new study from Instagram
Laura Ashley favorite I've had forever and shared before


Here are my plans for the room... Blue and green, classic fabrics, dark wood antiques, and an English farmhouse feel (I'm consistent! )

The Lee Jofa floral (that Im obsessed with after using in a few client projects) is going on roman shades || the Les Indiennes small indigo print on a custom lamp shade for a large brass table lamp that sits on an antique bachelor's chest || the ticking will go on a wingback desk chair slipcover || the carpet will be a 100% wool berber || still debating on desk lamp versus table lamp (leaning a bit more toward table lamp) for on the desk but I love this desk light from Rejuvenation Hardware  || I just bought a 200 year old portrait (not this one) in an eBay auction.  Fingers crossed I love it as much in person as I do online since I exceeded my budget. || We have an antique secretary in the room already - not as nice as the one pictured here but same feel || the walls, windows, ceiling, closet doors, trim will all go green (I'll do a post next week on my paint contenders) || Lastly, I'll add blue and white pottery over the secretary and on the bachelor's chest.

I knew I wanted to find an antique portrait for this room and I've searched for a long time (2+ years to be exact).  They are tough to find in the right size, quality, and look.  1st Dibs has a great selection, see here but they are pricey.  Some can look a little creepy or mean, couldn't have that.  Many were just way too big.  I wanted a friendly, New England looking gent.  Graphically they are so great in a space and it is the one "masculine" addition I'm making to the office.  Here are some examples of using old portraits from pinterest...

Southern Living

Lee Ann Thornton via Coastal Living




I'll be back next week with before pictures of the office (they are scary) and a discussion on green paint.  I know my updates are coinciding with the One Room Challenge.  I thought about joining in, but I felt it would create unnecessary pressure.  I have painters and carpet installers scheduled and fabric ordered, so things should move along at a decent pace, but you never know with me. ;)  Looking forward to sharing the process with you regardless.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Perfect for Easter Brunch | Burnt Carrot salad | I'm addicted


I was so excited to photograph and then eat my lunch I forgot to sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds before the shot.  I realized only when I starting eating that they were missing.  Oops.
Hi friends. I can't believe Easter is next week.  I was starting to think about what I'd like to make for Easter brunch, though I'm not sure yet if I'm hosting or my Mum, but either way I'm making this salad.  The recipe is inspired by my favorite burnt carrot salad from Metropole inside the 21C hotel downtown Cincinnati.  They char their carrots in a massive wood burning oven, so they get this wonderful smokey flavor.  I made mine using a grill pan on the stove and while they didn't have the same woodsy flavor, the salad was still amazing.  I order it every time we go and find myself craving it constantly.  I could eat this every single day. The sweet, blackened carrots, creamy avocado, tangy lemon vinaigrette, the bite of feta and the crunch from pumpkin seeds, all alongside a generous portion of parsley and cilantro leaves - it's salad perfection.  It's nice to mix it up and have a salad constructed of carrots instead of greens too.  While the recipe is simple, it's the combination of flavors and textures that make it so crave worthy.  Metropole's version can be found online, but I made a few tweaks to better suit my liking.  It seems like such a perfect salad for an Easter brunch that I had to share it in time!  Enjoy!



See?  I added the seeds! :)
Recipe | Burnt Carrot Salad
(adapted from Metropole)

1 bunch of carrots, peeled and cut in half
2 ripe but firm avocados, peeled and cut in thick slices
4 TBS of cilantro, chopped or torn
3 TBS flat leaf parsley, chopped or torn
3 TBS pumpkin seeds, toasted and salted
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
the juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard, Maille is my go-to
3-4 TBS olive oil + additional for searing carrots
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

(*optional: Add 1/4 cup pickled red onions, julienne.  I usually fish the onion out when I order this at the restaurant.  It is a bit too over powering for me and I don't love the lingering aftertaste.  I did not miss it at all in my version)

Cut carrots into 3-4 inch strips. Bring a medium sized saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Blanch carrots for about 3-5 minutes depending on their thickness.  They should still be firm, not floppy, but you should be able to pierce them with a fork.  Remove and place in ice water bath until ready to grill.  Warm up grill pan or cast iron skillet over high heat.  Toss cooled carrots with a little olive oil until they are coated.  Place in warm pan and let them cook, without turning, for a few minutes.  Black, charred marks should appear in several places.  Then flip and sear on the opposite side. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Make vinaigrette (this is the biggest difference in my recipe and the linked Metropole version).  I just really like my own vinaigrette and it only takes a minute to make so I prefer it.  Either way is delish!  Squeeze all the juice of the lemon into a small bowl.  Whisk in 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp mustard.  Slowly whisk in olive oil, add more to make it less lemony and less to make it more lemony - extra lemony is very good with this salad!  Add kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Combine avocado, cilantro, parsley, feta, carrots and vinaigrette in a bowl (pinions too, if you are using). Toss gently and place on 4 serving plates.  Top with pumpkin seeds.  Heavenly and so ridiculously good for you!!