reclaimed wood shelving (i’ll be shopping big reuse for mine) | brass breakfast bar pendants | mod flushmount lighting | white subway tile | silestone countertops | encaustic floor tile | white shaker cabinets (getting these through my contractor, yay!) | black hardware | farmhouse sink 

first things first: photoshop is HARD, you guys. i’ve been forcing my coworker to show me how to ‘cut things out’ and ‘put pictures in circles’ (can you tell i’m completely inept?) and she has been a wonderfully good sport. i know the above collage is no big deal for your average blogger, but this took me at LEAST two hours, if not longer, to put together, and i am proud of it. i’m also proud of that new watercolor-like font, which i purchased like a big girl blogger from creative market.


as you can see above, i think i’ve finally landed in a good place with my kitchen design. while making these collages is time consuming, seeing all my choices laid out together in a pretty little box helps to confirm that yes, i can mix brass with black, and yes, i can do modern light fixtures with a farmhouse sink. as you can see, my inspiration is a farmhouse kitchen, but with city style (who am i?). essentially, i want farmhouse, but i don’t want it to be so farmhouse that i’m all, “honey, here’s the eggs that our chicken just laid in our backyard.” lord knows no one will be laying any eggs in the grand apartment.


the overall scheme involves a lot of white. now, i know, white is boring, and white is blah, but as much as i wanted to go for grey cabinets, the reality is that the space is just a tad too dark and small for them. if i was going full on moody, i could make it work. but i want the kitchen to feel light and bright and perfect for cookie baking, and god, i can’t wait to place my freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on my faux-marble countertops (i’m going silestone; marble is notoriously fickle and hard to care for).

so, here’s the deal:

the back wall will feature white shaker cabinets (uppers and lowers), along with the fridge (stainless; actual model TBD, but i’m eyeing a french door with lower freezer option from samsung). white subway tile will comprise the backsplash, and the countertops will be silestone, but will (hopefully) look like marble. hardware will likely be black, though i’m also leaning towards going with classic nickel. i know it’s sacrilege to mix metals, but i really think i could dig brass with black or brass with nickel (gasp).


the front wall will feature most of my appliances, including the oven and range hood (i’m hoping to have money in the budget to “splurge” for an ikea version; range hoods are surprisingly expensive), farmhouse sink (also ikea), and dishwasher (probably bosch). there will be cabinets interspersed between these appliances/below the sink, but the wall above will be entirely dedicated to reclaimed wood shelving (a la the photo above). i haven’t yet decided if i’ll run the subway tile up this wall. it’s slightly more expensive to do so, but probably worth it, especially around the oven, where things will splash up and potentially stain my pretty white wall paint. i’m getting butterflies just thinking about all of my baking supplies sitting in pretty glass canisters like the ones above.


last but most certainly not least is the showstopper: my encaustic tile floor. i know, i know, i’ve been talking a LOT about this floor, and which tile to choose. though the one on the right looks way cooler as a single tile, i think as a full floor it’ll be a little bit overwhelming. i’ll save it for my someday bathroom (when i have, you know, a real house with actual square footage). the left, though not exciting as a single tile, comes to life as seen below. it makes a statement without slapping you in the face.


{image via wit & delight}

see? pretty, but it didn’t hit you too hard. it’s subtle, but beautiful. eeeeeek, i can’t wait. i just want to start construction NOW.

too bad i have to wait for board approval (snoozefest), and then submit to the city (boo) before i can touch anything. cross your fingers that i can start breaking down walls and ripping out ugly toilets by june 1st!


so, as you may have gathered from my last few posts (and instagram posts – if you’re not following me yet, please join us on my faaaave social platform!), i have KITCHENS ON THE BRAIN. mainly, i am deciding between wood or tile floors, and gray or white cabinets. all will be revealed in my next post, but for now, here are some thoughts:

  1. contrasting uppers and lowers (cabinets, people) are really in right now. as my newly selected contractor, shmulik (yes, that’s his name, and i love it) informed me, “the young people are really into dark on the bottom, light on the top…” that being said, my kitchen, while it has a window, doesn’t get a ton of natural light, so gray cabinets might be an issue.
  2. it remains to be seen whether the hardwoods underneath the layers of linoleum on the kitchen floor are in good condition, okay condition, or absolutely horrible condition. tearing up the linoleum will somewhat guide my decision, but i am leaning towards tile – mostly just because it’s pretty, it makes a statement, and then i can post a hundred million pictures on the #ihavethisthingwithfloors hashtag.
  3. i’m really feeling a country-ish kitchen with a couple of more “modern” touches. think subway tile and shaker-style cabinetry, but with slightly more modern hardware and lighting. i know for sure i want some reclaimed wood up in this hizzy, but i also know that i don’t want to go tooooo farmhouse because i’m, you know, in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world.

so, with those three things in mind, here are some kitchens that are making my heart go boom boom.


i’ve had this one pinned for years – it’s an eclectic bohemian kitchen that obviously has way more space than mine, but it proves you can mix ‘country farmhouse’ with ‘down ass bohemian chick’ and still have it look good.


this kitchen gives me heart palpitations, even though the full marble backsplash is a bit modern for my taste. i mean, hello, look at that stove. think of all the marvelous things you could cook on that range. and the crisp white cabinets with beautiful brass hardware…i can’t get enough. i think i’m going to stay away from brass in my own kitchen, mostly because i worry that it’s too trendy and overdone and that in ten years, i’ll wish i’d done something slightly more classic.


this pantry shelf situation belongs to author jane green, and was featured in the nytimes a while back. it’s the inspiration for my “front wall” – the wall above the sink, where i don’t want any upper cabinets, and instead, just want giant reclaimed wood shelves that could easily have been chopped down from the trees in my imaginary backyard. all white dishes, giant glass canisters for all my baking goodies…SWOON. HONEY, I’M HOME!


these brass drum pendants are the stuff dreams are made of. unfortunately, you need both a big space and a big budget to bring them home – but they sure are nice to look at, aren’t they? i love love LOOOOVE these stools, and am on a hunt for low-priced versions of them. beyond the hints of brass, this kitchen is somewhat close to what i want: simple white cabinets, simple hardware, and marble countertops with stainless steel appliances.


it’s photos like this one that make me consider ebony hardwoods and moody gray cabinets. i loove this kitchen. i want to cook in this kitchen. it’s so unassuming and cozy. unfortunately, i don’t think i get enough natural light for cabinets this dark. but heyyy wood shelving and white subway tile backsplash!


what i would give for a wall of reclaimed brick. that’s all i’ll say. my building is wood and concrete, so brick isn’t in the cards for me, even once we start tearing down walls. alas, regular old sheetrock will have to do.


i love the symmetry of this space. i’m betting that middle area used to be a fireplace that the owners closed up – but building out the shelving around it works so well. it looks like most of this is decorative shelving, not everyday cups and glasses – but still, it’s beautiful. i also love the mirrored backsplash (can you see it back there?). the rich patina adds instant age to an otherwise modern space.


ah, grey cabinets and brass hardware. such a match made in heaven. but are they MY match made in heaven? this i do not know.


a small space with big style. simple shaker cabinets: check. simple black hardware: check. marble counters: check. great shelving: check. i want it all.


this room has dark hardwoods, but still feels SO BRIGHT. this is why i’m leaning towards white cabinetry – just look at all that light! also, these pendants are verrry similar to the ones i’m eyeing from schoolhouse electric. HOLLA.


white on white on white on wood. i like. i want my wood shelving to be a little knottier, funkier, and darker – to look like it’s lived a life before me – but otherwise, i am loving everything about this.

well, folks, there’s my inspiration. as you can see, despite my best efforts to be the kind of gal who goes for moody grey and brass (moody grass?), it turns out i’m the kind of gal who prefers the all white look with hints of wood.

that’s what she said.

stay tuned for my actual kitchen design plan, coming next week. and in the meantime, if you’ve got any sources, ideas, or thoughts, please do not hesitate to send them my way!


{photo: kate arends of wit & delight}

the time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things. of shoes – and ships! – and sealing wax, of TILE FLOORS AND THINGS.

that’s right, folks, today, we are talking tile floors (and hardwood ones, too, for a hot second), in an effort to help me make a decision on what to do with my soon to be kitchen.

it used to be that funky patterned tile was reserved for scene-y restaurants like gracias madre in LA, but more and more, i’ve been spotting it in the homes of mere mortals like myself.

now, i know what you’re thinking. tile? for kitchens? groundbreaking.

i get it. kitchen tile, regular old boring kitchen tile, is nothing to write home about. it’s decidedly blah, and as my mother so kindly reminded me, causes anything you drop on it to shatter into a million little pieces.

but encaustic tile (the funky, patterned stuff you see above) is a whole different ballgame. encaustic tiles are ceramic pieces in which the pattern is not a product of the glaze, but instead, of different colors of clay. in other words, each tile is an art piece.

JHID-WhiteBrickMed-8872{photo: jessica helgerson}

encaustic tile adds an instant cool factor to any space it graces. check out another shot of kate arends’ kitchen, below. instant cool.


would regular hardwoods be pretty in this space? of course. but the tile makes the kitchen POP.

i’ve had my eye on encaustic tile (and specifically, the cement tile shop, where kate bought her tile) for months now, but i wasn’t totally sold until i came across this kitchen, designed by jessica helgerson, a badass portland designer who is the QUEEN OF FIERCE AND PRETTY.


not to sound all design nerd, but i DIE FOR THIS SPACE. i love this kitchen like joanna gaines loves shiplap. the marriage of that incredible tile with the BLACK AND GOLD STOVE, along with that insane window seat, vintage wooden island, gold pendants…ugh, all of it gives me heart palpitations.


here it is from another angle. can you IMAGINE cooking on that stove? MOVE OVER MARTHA. anything you make on that amazing range would be spectacular, i just know it. obviously, ovens like that one are gajillions of dollars and way out of my price range, but hey, a girl can dream!

so, back to the tile situation. between kate’s kitchen, and the helgerson beauty above, i am officially SOLD ON TILE. that is, until i see a kitchen like this, with ebony hardwood.


hello, my pretty. i want to be cooking in you!

white cabinets + open shelving = swoon city. but if i’m being honest, my hardwoods (which, by the way, are hidden under 3 layers of fuggggly linoleum) aren’t nearly as beautiful as the herringbone floors above. they’re just regular old hardwood floors. sure, they’re original to my 1929 building, but they’re not exactly special.

you know what’s special? this tile. it’s cement tile shop’s “star” and it’s modern and classic and moroccan inspired all at once.


it’s also, coincidentally, what kate arends used in her kitchen, which, in case you needed a refresher, can be seen below.


i’m torn between “star” (above) and “agadir white” (below), a decidedly more moroccan style that i’m worried might look a bit busy on the floor. star has the benefit of a simpler design, but adgadir is such a statement piece that i’m tempted to go for it.


so, tell me. which would YOU choose? i’ve ordered samples of both, and cannot WAIT to see what they look like in person.



the holy grail of kitchens, which belongs to alison cayne of haven’s kitchen.

recently, i read a post on food52 that proclaimed that subway tile was soo over. the market was over saturated, the blog posts overdone, pinterest ready to explode and vomit subway tile all over everyone and everything. and in typical new homeowner fashion, i felt a slight chill creep up my back. was i about to make the biggest mistake of my life?

was i about to use a tile that was soooo over in my kitchen?! 

i’ve been reading interior design blogs, and buying interior design books (shoutout to my two faves, erin gates and emily henderson!) for YEARS, now. like, almost a decade. and if there’s anything i’ve learned from them, anything can be trendy, and any trend can be overdone. but not everything can be a classic. and a classic, well, it never goes out of style.

today, riding the 6 train uptown, we stopped at 23rd street, and i meandered toward the exit, eying the walls in front of me. they were, of course, my beloved white subway tile. and as i looked at them, i thought to myself, screw you, food52.* subway tile is a CLASSIC. it CAN’T ever be over!

and then i went back to pinteresting the hell out of subway tiled kitchens. here are a few i’m using as inspiration for my own.


this kitchen belongs to michelle adams, formerly of domino. adams recently bought and renovated an adorable little house in michigan (you can follow along on her instagram account). her kitchen is the perfect example of classic done right: hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, marble counters, white cabinets, and white subway tile backsplash.


another look at adams’ kitchen. i’d like to do some open shelving, but i think i’ll go natural wood instead of white to warm things up a bit.


you know, like this.


or this.


or this (sans children, for now, of course).


this pantry gives me heart palpitations (the good kind).


white grout or black grout? HELP ME DECIDE, tile gods.


this looks more like light gray grout. a compromise! i love everything about this, and i already have mostly white dishes, so i could make this happen.


hiii, farmhouse sink. i love you. those brass accents ain’t too shabby either.


small but mighty. i will thankfully have a good deal more space than this –  but it’s proof that if i need to go budget and try butcher block countertops, it won’t be the end of the world.


can you imagine coming home to this beauty every night? who wants to pack me into a suitcase and take me to morocco so i can bring home ALL THE AMAZING RUGS?!

so. what say you? subway tiles: yay or nay?

*food52, i actually adore you, and respect your opinion greatly.



i’ve been watching HGTV for about 15 years now, and of all the things it’s taught me, the most important one is this: when you look at a home, you can’t fixate on the little things (paint, tile, lighting, furniture). you have to look at “the bones” of the place; ie, the moldings, the windows, the ceiling heights, the square footage. bones, for the most part, can’t be changed. but the little things can.

i can’t count how many times i’ve seen a woman on house hunters throw up her hands in disgust at a pink tiled bathroom, squealing, “ew. THIS TILE! this is SO NOT US.” at which point, the camera zooms in on the aforementioned pink tile, demonstrating to us viewers just how horrifyingly ugly it is.

here’s the thing, folks: pink tile is FIXABLE. as are puke green walls, or a bathtub so covered in rust that you can’t even tell it’s white.

which is what i had to tell myself the first time i walked into the grand apartment.

deep breaths. this is ugly, but it is fixable.

my broker, knowing my pinterest-heavy heart, had warned me that what i was about to see wasn’t going to be pretty.

“it needs a lot of work,” he said, “but it has potential.”

(this is a thing that brokers say to you when they want you to look past the fact that the electrical hasn’t been updated since 1936 and that the refrigerator has a sign on it that reads, “DO NOT OPEN. THIS MUST STAY CLOSED.”)

i first saw the grand apartment on a cold and windy night after work, and let me tell you, it is not smart to see a place that needs a gut renovation when it’s pitch black outside. see, darkness makes everything ugly look even uglier. daylight, by contrast, helps to smooth the rough edges; sunshine adds a sheen to even the worst 1970s linoleum.

i have to be honest, potential isn’t what i saw when i first walked in. i saw ugly, dated, and worst of all, SO dirty (a type A/OCD girl’s biggest fear). the cracks in the ceilings made them look like they could cave in at any moment. the only room with a true door was the bathroom, and the tile in there was gross enough to give me serious nightmares. the bedroom had no closet, the only lighting in the apartment came in the form of bulbs that dangled from the ceiling and could be turned on by yanking a piece of string, and the kitchen cabinets were straight out of an early 1900s tenement museum.

i tried to see the apartment like chip and joanna gaines would see it. i tried to channel the property brothers. but in my heart of hearts, all i felt was disappointment. disappointment that this ‘amazing lower east side 1BR’ was sort of a bust. disappointment that it would truly require a gut renovation. disappointment that the renovation would probably be out of my budget.

so i took a weekend and slept on it. and what do you know? as soon as my head hit the pillow, my brain turned into a pinterest EXPLOSION. my inner monologue was all, subway tile crystal doorknobs crown moulding tin ceilings and omg what about a farm sink i’ll need a lot of cabinetry and i wonder if i need a new kitchen aid mixer can i afford a smeg fridge how many burners do i need on the stove can i tear down the linen closet to open up the kitchen and create a breakfast bar how many types of penny tile are there how much does a clawfoot tub cost?

clearly, though my rational self was worried, deep down, i knew: just like my broker had said, this place had potential.

so i went back to see it again on a sunny day, and here is what i saw:

grandapt_before_entryway2 copy

standing in the living room, looking towards the entryway. that’s shitty linoleum you see beneath eric’s feet, but underneath it is relatively well-preserved hardwood from the 1930s, when this building was built. neat, right? if you look directly behind eric, you’ll see an ollllldy mc olderstein built in cabinet and drawer situation. there’s even a cutting board that pulls out of it! i don’t think i’ll be saving any of it, but it’s neat to think about all of the families that lived here over the years and stored their non-perishables on those shelves.

grandapt_before_entryway1 copy

standing in the living room looking at the entryway. when i first saw this archway, i was all, ‘awww, charm!’ except then my broker pointed out that it was fake, and we could bust it open to make a semi open-concept living/eating area. it’s hard to see in these photos, but i’m hoping to open the wall up to the right to add a breakfast bar, and maybe transform the space to see above into a giant (i use that term lightly, it’s manhattan.) hallway closet.


the living room, as seen straight on from the entryway. it’s not enormous, but it’s workable, and it gets great light. i’m thinking i’ll refinish the floors in a darker, ebony-like stain (all the better to hide the imperfections) – but they’re original hardwoods, which makes my heart happy.

grandapt_before_LR3 copy

the living room, as seen from the entryway, a little bit to the right. the floors can be restored, and i haven’t decided what to do with that odd trim. probably tear it down and add crown moulding on both the ceiling and the floor. as you can see, i’ve got space for a couch along that long wall, and hopefully, a little dining area at the right. the TV would go opposite the couch, and i might be able to squeeze a little extra seating along the windows. i wish i had the budget for a brand new sectional, but mama needs new electrical, so, current couch it is.


the bedroom, which isn’t nearly as dark as it looks here. the unit is a corner apartment, which means it gets lots of eastern light. the paint on the walls in here (okay, on all the walls) is PEEL CITY, PARTY OF THREE. but my contractor has assured me we can remedy it by thinning, scraping, and removing all of the years and years of bad paint and replacing it with smooth, beautiful, any-color-i-choose paint. isn’t it nice that the previous owners left a dorm light for me? #blessed.

grandapt_before_kitchen1 copy

the kitchen is definitely tied with the bathroom for “the worst room in the place.” that fridge literally has a sign on it that cautions you NOT TO OPEN IT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. i have to wonder: are there body parts in there? am i about to be on an episode of SVU? regardless, it ain’t pretty. the stove is super old, but in a cute country kitchen type of way. i don’t think it’s safe to use; otherwise, i’d try and save it. some of the other units i saw online in this building had amazing giant farmhouse-style sinks in place. it looks like this kitchen had an “update” in the seventies and got that fugly looking thing you see at right. if anyone knows of anywhere to get a farmhouse sink (used!) in the NY metro area, HIT A SISTER UP.


the bathroom is BAD. but it’s workable. it has space for a toilet, a pedestal sink, and a tub (clawfoot gods, can you hear me?). and there’s a window! the square footage in here is pretty tiny, so if i can afford it, this will be the one place where i splurge on tile. nothing like some marble hexagon business all up in your footsies, amiright? more than likely, i’ll end up with inexpensive, but classic: subway tile all around the tub, penny tile on the floor (white with black grout, maybe a black border), a pedestal or mounted sink, and a new toilet. just close your eyes and imagine a black clawfoot tub in here…ahhh, bliss.


standing in the bedroom, eyeing the linen closet (which will likely be knocked out to open up the kitchen) and the little bathroom. how about that medicine cabinet, folks? rough, right? but again, you can see that in its heyday, this little bathroom served its purpose. cleared out and freshened up, it’ll be a little beauty.

grandapt_before_moulding copy

taking a look at the doorframe between the back hallway and the living room. it appears all of the doors in the apartment beyond the bathroom door were removed and discarded (whatever happened to privacy?), but you can see that the moulding was, at one point, really beautiful. it’s simple, but i’ll take simple over my 1950s BORING doors any day. this too may be going away to open up the kitchen…but i’ve got the same thing around the bathroom and bedroom doors, so it will get preserved someway, somehow.

SO. that’s the before. god, i LOVE a good makeover. let’s just hope that my “after” is so freaking spectacular that someone puts their hands over my eyes before i walk through the front door and says, “SARAH, ARE YOU READY TO SEE YOUR NEW HOUSE?!” i can’t wait to squeal with delight at my so fresh and so clean clean NEW HOME.