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kitchen

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on the left: the tile i wanted | on the right: a very close second

as you may have seen on instagram (hii, are you following @_thegrandapt yet?), i am having a BIT of a tile dilemma. #champaaagggneeeproblems

the tile i so desperately wanted after seeing it in kate arends’ kitchen is out of stock. til october. no can do, folks.* this unfortunate news means it’s time for plan B. i have two choices: to go with a tile that is practically identical, but slightly darker (and a little more in the taupe family of greys), or to go back to the drawing board completely. i am REALLY not into going back to the drawing board, mostly because i am oh so ready to get this show on the road, but also because i really do love the “star” pattern i had already picked out. it’s a statement without smacking you in the face. it’s moroccan-inspired but not overly so. it’s not cheap, but it’s also not ludicrously expensive. it’s practically perfect in every way!

so, what’s a girl to do? visit a tile store, and more importantly, talk to someone who really knows their shit.

enter: chelsea arts tile + stone, and specifically, alison, the owner. i heard about CATS (i mean, has there ever been a store with an acronym more suited to me?! I THINK NOT!) through a friend of mine, nika, who i met in GREECE of all places.

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me petting a street kitten approximately 30 seconds before we met nika and peter

nika and i met on the cobblestone streets of paros, one of the greek islands, last september. my friend sara and i were strolling along shortly after our ferry had docked, and i was busy petting every (and i mean EVERY) cat in sight. down the street, we heard the familiar sounds of the english language, and sure enough, soon two friendly folks ambled around the corner. those folks were nika and her friend peter, and they were all, “HI! YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?! WE SPEAK ENGLISH!” and we were all, “WHERE ARE YOU GUYS FROM?!” and they were all, “TORONTO!” we became fast friends, and ended up inviting peter and nika to spend a night with us in santorini.

when nika saw on instagram that i’d purchased the grand apartment and was on the hunt for tile, she reached out and was like:

“yo. you HAVE to contact my best friend alison. she runs the only female-owned tile shop in NYC and she’s the bomb.”

to which i said something along the lines of, OH HELL YES. female owned? #girlboss #girlpower #allthefeministhashtags

at the time, i already had my eyes on the cement tile shop’s “star” pattern–so i didn’t really need a fancy tile shop. but then things fell through, and i decided to reach out to alison, and see if she could offer a little guidance.

as it turns out, she not only had guidance, she had my tile. in a sliiiightly different colorway.

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the pattern i wanted, in a taupe-ier grey, paired with marble-look quartz countertops and amazing mirrored glass tile.

alison kindly set up not just one tile, but four, so i could see the full scope of the design and the coloring. and contrary to what all my instagram friends had said (thank you all for your thoughts!), she felt that it would NOT be that much darker overall than the colorway i had originally wanted. in addition, she showed me what it would look like paired with the marble-look countertop i’m planning on getting, so that i could see how the grey would play off the slightly warmer quartz sample.

and you know what? i like it! in fact, i don’t just like it. i might even love it! am i sad that my original choice is out of stock? sure. but i trust alison’s vision, and i think she makes a good point when she says that a) i’m going all white everywhere else, and b) my reclaimed wood will need a little warmth to play off of (which this darker colorway gives me).

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alison’s shop was CHOCK FULL (and i mean, to the brim) of amazing tile. that you see above? it’s sourced straight from a factory in morocco. if i had a spanish style home in los angeles, i would be ALL OVER that blue and white situation on the top right.

she also showed me other options for cement tile–but most of them felt either too french cafe, too modern, or too busy moroccan. in my gut, i feel like the “star” pattern i’ve picked out is perfect in its simplicity. it’s graphic, but not overly so, it feels fresh, but not scarily modern, and it’s got a hint of global flair without feeling full on fez.

so: here’s the consensus. i’m sleeping on it, but more than likely, i’ll plan to order the “star” tile in the darker colorway seen above. it’s in stock, alison can get it easily from the warehouse in new jersey to the curb outside of the grand apartment, AND it looks fabulous with the countertop i’ve already decided upon.

WIN WIN, folks.

want to see some more pretty? check out a few snaps from the CATS showroom, and stay tuned next week to see a post on bathroom tile, and whether i’m leaning marble hex or simple penny.

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*watch me smack myself upside the head when october rolls around, and i’m still in early construction phase, and i tooootallly could have waited til october!

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so, remember all the pretty above? that was my kitchen design plan, which i shared a month or so ago. it included all the finishes, the flooring, the paint colors and the inspiration–but it was missing one crucial piece of the puzzle: the appliances.

as i wrote about yesterday, i AGONIZED over the purchase of my refrigerator and oven (and to a lesser extent, my dishwasher). why? because i love to cook, and so i wanted to make sure i was getting the very best. but also, mama’s on a verrry tight budget, so not only did i want to get the very best, i wanted to get the very best bang for my buck. that meant that although i would have loooved to go all spurge-y on viking and sub zero and wolf, there was simply no way. my finances helped to narrow things down…somewhat. see, there are a surprisingly large amount of appliances available in the median range of things.

speaking of ranges, another thing that complicated the issue was that i was VERY particular about the kind of range i wanted. see the oven below? it can be yours for just $400. and it will probably work JUST FINE. but that ugly back panel, with its ginormous buttons and oversized screen? i did not want that. AT ALL. NO BACK PANEL FOR ME.

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this simple fact complicated things. i quickly learned that ovens like the above are called “freestanding” ranges. as in, they can stand on their own, floating in space, unanchored by silly things like countertops. if you want an oven with no back panel, you need a “slide in” range. and that immediately a) slims your pickins’ and b) makes things WAY MORE EXPENSIVE.

of course, me and my stupid expensive taste had to go and ruin things again. instead of $400, i was now in the $1500-$2000 range. YIKES.

that being said, the one item i was willing to splurge on was my stove. see, i’m a girl that LOVES to cook, and loves to bake even more (like, to the point that i’ve toyed with the idea of opening a bakery someday). so while i could live with a not-so-fancy fridge and dishwasher, i simply could not live with a sub-par oven. and i really, really couldn’t live with a freestanding range with that UGLY BACK PANEL STARING AT ME EVERY TIME I PUT A TRAY OF COOKIES INSIDE IT.

my family tried to talk me out of my “no back panel” obsession, but i could not be swayed. so i looked at a few different options. first was this kitchenaid model, which was straight up REALLY, REALLY pretty. i have a longstanding love affair with my kitchenaid mixer, and so i thought sure, why not? kitchen aid is reliable, there’s no back panel, this baby is beautiful, let’s do it.

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kitchenaid oven, $1498 | rated 57 by consumer reports

HELLO GORGEOUS.

then i started reading the reviews. and consulting consumer reports. and it turned out that for all its beauty, and the fact that it was selling like hotcakes, people didn’t really love their kitchenaid ovens. they didn’t even really like them, in some cases. and consumer reports gave it a 57 (for reference, the highest rated stove on their site gets a 79). WOOF.

the next contender was this GE model, which was relatively well-rated by the folks online. commenters liked it, but consumer reports gave it a 73 (not terrible, but also, not great). i’ve had GE appliances in my rental apartment for the past 7 years, and they’ve held up great. GE is generally known to be a reliable brand, but a deep drive into the online reviews revealed that GE wasn’t what it used to be, and that many people had issues with their newer GE appliances, this stove included.

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GE cafe oven, $1598 | rated 73 by consumer reports

of course, there was also the fact that it simply wasn’t as pretty. out it went.

the final contender was the very first stove i had fallen in love with. it was a samsung model that was as pretty as the kitchenaid range–AND it had better reviews! unfortunately, it was also the most expensive range by about $200. but i mean, look at it. it’s BEAUTIFUL!

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samsung oven (the winner!), $1798 | rated 77 by consumer reports

that’s some restaurant style shit right there, amiright?! but a budget is a budget, and i was determined to stick to mine (i had given myself $1600 for the oven). so i had to find $200 somewhere else.

that’s where the fridge came in. i needed a 30″ model (#apartmentliving), which narrowed my choices down quite a bit. but i also really wanted a french door on top, bottom freezer design, which narrowed things down even further (most french door style fridges are around 33″-36″ wide; a fine size for someone in suburbia, but not for a single gal in new york city). my top choice was this samsung model, which i first came across at home depot and fell in love with almost immediately.

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samsung fridge, $1298 | rated 74 by consumer reports

it was oh so sleek on the outside, and oh so functional on the inside. there was an ice maker in the freezer (non-negotiable in my book), and it boasted 21.8 cubic feet of storage in its itty bitty 30″ body. but it was also sort of pricey. i was ready to take the plunge, but before i did, i decided to run my choices by a home depot online chat associate. being the amazingly helpful person that she is, my new friend elizabeth informed me that there were a few very similar models i could look at before selecting the samsung above.

one of those was this LG model, which was basically identical, but also, $200 cheaper! HALLELUJAH!  SEND THE LITTLE ANGELS DOWN TO DANCE AROUND ME! i had found my $200 savings!

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LG fridge, $1098 | rated 75 by consumer reports

i immediately freaked out to elizabeth about how excited i was to find this fridge, and thanked her PROFUSELY for her help. i’m sure she was all, someone get me off this online chat, this woman is a crazy person, but really, i was so thankful! home depot, if you’re out there, your chat associates are seriously the best, and have been SO helpful throughout this process. it is RARE to find good customer service out there, and so far, HD has hit it out of the park.

so, i now had the oven and the fridge covered. that left the dishwasher.

my parents raised me to be a bosch girl, all the way–they are the undisputed leaders in dishwasher land. but here’s the thing: i was already buying a pricey oven. and while many dishwasher brands are all, “IT’S SO SILENT YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT’S RUNNING!” “CLEANEST DISHES EVER!” “SHORT CYCLES” the reality is that all a person truly needs is a box that washes their dishes in a relatively short period of time. silent is nice, sure. so is a stainless steel interior. but i have been washing dishes in a white plastic GE box for seven years now, and i don’t feel as though i’ve missed out on any of the amazing benefits above.

would it be nice to never have to hear my dishwasher? i mean, i guess so – but i don’t really mind the sound of running water. if i close my eyes, i can almost pretend i’m sunning myself under a waterfall instead of sitting on my couch watching house hunters.

all of this is to say, i felt very strongly that i did not need to spend $600 on a dishwasher (yes, that’s what nice ones cost, and that’s the STARTING POINT! crazy!). but $400…$400 i could do.

and lucky for me, this whirlpool gold (which a salesman at PC richards told me was basically equivalent to buying a bosch!) model was on sale at home depot for that exact price.

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whirlpool gold dishwasher, $400 | rated 75 by consumer reports

was it the fanciest? no. did it have a stainless steel interior (which would have cost an extra $100)? no. but as consumer reports said, “if you only run your dishwasher while you sleep, you’ll find lots to like in this low-priced whirlpool, which had superb washing, drying, and efficiency.”

SOLD! as a bonus, consumer reports informed me that whirlpool was the most reliable dishwasher brand. SOLD AGAIN!

so, as a reminder, here’s where i landed:

samsung oven: $1798 on sale at home depot (originally $2499)

LG fridge: $1098 on sale at home depot (originally a staggering $1799)

whirlpool gold dishwasher: $399 on sale at home depot (originally $599)

total price for kitchen appliances: with tax, i ended up paying just about $3500. if i hadn’t bought during a sale, that price would have skyrocketed up to almost $5k. can i get an amen for buying on sale?

do i know, with 100% of my being, that these are the VERY BEST APPLIANCES for my budget? no. but i don’t think i could ever know that. here’s what i do know: minerva at home depot west 23rd street told me that i was buying well, and that i had made good choices.

and guess what? all any newly-christened 30 something wants to hear is that she’s made good choices.

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sometimes, when my mother wants to demonstrate that things are really taking off, or really going well, she’ll utter a rather funny phrase: “now, we’re cookin’ with grease!” it rarely applies to any instance where a person is actually cooking with grease, or doing anything kitchen-related.

but for today’s purposes, it actually DOES! because guess who pulled the trigger and bought her kitchen appliances this past weekend? that’s right, this girl. after spending the past 2 months reading review after review, soliciting feedback from family, friends, coworkers and even random strangers on instagram, i finally settled on my choices, and took the plunge.

back when i thought this process would move merrily along, i figured i’d purchase my appliances over memorial day weekend, the rationale being that summer holidays were bound to produce big sales. but memorial day came and went, and i still hadn’t closed, so i wasn’t about to go march my ass into PC richards and plunk down a couple thousand dollars on an oven.

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instead, i spent the next month researching appliances. i posted on facebook, asking my “real adult” friends to tell me about what they’d owned, what they’d loved, and what they wouldn’t buy again. i read the reviews on homedepot.com like a FIEND. i had daymares of buying the wrong fridge and having it quit working within the first few months. i agonized over whether to splurge on the more expensive oven.

here’s what i learned:

  1. read the reviews, but don’t put all your stock in them. for every 5 positive reviews of any given appliance, there will be one negative one. happy people are less likely to share that their happiness online. but angry people? disappointed people? LET ‘ER RIP. at the end of the day, you have to read the reviews, but go with your gut. my general rule of thumb was to look for appliances that had a high 80% and above approval/recommendation rating. you know, 4 stars land. anything less indicated an issue, but a 5 starred item with a few negative reviews? those people probably got a lemon.
  2. someone else’s favorite appliance might not be your favorite appliance. initially, i had my heart set on a matching kitchen aid series of fridge/oven. i’d seen them on a design blog i read, design manifest. i figured if kitchen aid appliances were good enough for naomi,  a one woman design powerhouse who does a LOT of kitchen projects, they were good enough for me. but i did a bit of digging, and it turned out that the kitchen aid reviews weren’t great. naomi bought hers because they were beautiful, but guess what? she’s not a huge cook. so while pretty is great, pretty doesn’t bake good cookies. functional does.
  3. the “big names” aren’t what they used to be. i spent a good two weeks going back and forth between this samsung oven and this GE one. i’ve had GE appliances in my rental apartment for the past 7 years, and they have yet to let me down. GE = reliable, right? so said the man i spoke to at a western mass appliance store, who (with no shame, mind you) also told me that the only people buying samsung appliances were idiot millenials who “liked the fancy name.” and yet, the GE oven had consistently worse reviews than the samsung model, was rated lower by consumer reports, and straight up wasn’t as cute. so i decided to go with the samsung, which i truly loved, and guess what? when i got to home depot to order it, my girl minerva let me in on a little secret: since they moved all their manufacturing to china, GE isn’t what it used to be. and samsung? surprisingly good. SCORE ONE FOR ME!
  4. sometimes, stuff breaks. but that doesn’t mean you need to pay $250 for an extended warranty. look, there is no way, and i mean, actually no way to guarantee that the appliances you buy will not break. sure, you can read 900 reviews. sure, you can check up on how easy it is to find a repairman in your area. sure, you can spring for the extended warranty. but you cannot control whether your appliance will or won’t break. all you can do is be prepared when it does. a little bit of sleuthing revealed that despite extended warranty plans seeming like god’s gift to appliance buyers, they’re generally not worth it. here’s why: first, just because things can break doesn’t mean they WILL. more than likely, your appliance will run just fine. second, those seemingly magical extended warranty plans? they’re not actually run by the nice folks at home depot. they’re outsourced to places that, unlike my friend minerva, don’t give two shits about you and the fact that you took a day off for your maintenance appointment. third, almost all appliances come with at LEAST a year of parts and labor warranty. and most appliances, according to my home depot associate, break within 18 months, if they’re going to break at all. so you probably don’t need to drop an extra $200-300 on that 5 year warranty. if something’s going to go wrong, it’ll probably go wrong pretty early on. but that being said, 18 months is longer than a year, which brings me to my next point.
  5. your credit card = an extra year on your warranty. in my extended warranty research, i came across an AMAZING PIECE OF INFORMATION that legitimately made my day (#adulting). get this: many credit cards (including mine, chase sapphire, hi chase i love you!) will add an extra year onto the manufacturer’s warranty of your appliance (and not just appliances! many items!) if you pay for the purchase in full with your card. 1 year manufacturer’s warranty = 12 months coverage + 1 additional year of manufacturer’s warranty covered by chase = 24 months coverage. BINGO! there’s your 18 months, and then some! CAN I GET AN AMEN? that is something AMAZING SHIT RIGHT THERE. all told, 3 year warranties on my three appliances (fridge, oven, dishwasher) were going to come out to just around $500. i hadn’t budgeted for that $500, and i didn’t really want to spend it. but my future guilt – the guilt i’d experience if something DID go wrong and i hadn’t bought the warranty – gave me serious anxiety. this benefit from chase gives me an extra year of carefree cookin’, and if something DOES go wrong by year 3? well, that’s why i have a savings account.

so, what did i buy? that, my friends, is a story for tomorrow. but WAIT TIL YOU SEE MY OVEN! SHE SO PURTY!

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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.

ANYWHO.

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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{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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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{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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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you know, like this.

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or this.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.