When we moved into this house the prior owner had made some changes - some good and some bad. He added nice deep crown molding to the ceilings in some rooms and nice chunky baseboards.  He framed the windows, too - but he also tiled the kitchen, family, laundry and powder rooms with 12" boring white-ish tile and abundant grout.  I wasn't fond of the tile, or the grout, but it was functional and we knew we would eventually replace it.  In the powder room he got a little creative and took the same tile 1/2 way up the wall as wainscoting.

It reminded me of a gas station restroom.

I lived with it as long as I could, but with the flooring being replaced throughout the ground floor, including the powder room, it had to go.

I told the contractor to remove the wall tile along with the floor tile.  I was so excited it was going, I didn't even really mind that much when he broke the pedestal sink in the process....

We found a beautiful new sink.

Then the snowball happened... you know, one thing leads to another... the job gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger - kind of like a snowball rolling down the hill - [like the cartoon] - and getting bigger and bigger...and taking out everything in its path...

We purchased a new toilet to go with the new sink... and I really did like the new sink better than the old one, but the old faucet - well it looked a little sad on that beautiful new sink!

We bought a new faucet.

And a tissue roll holder and towel ring because the old ones were....brown

Removing the tile on the walls left them beat up and needing repair.  It was the perfect opportunity to add a little charm.

A new wainscot from wide plank bead-board seemed like the perfect solution.  We painted it a soft white, and the walls above it Magnetic Gray - Benjamin Moore.

(I love this color - it's gray with a blue/green undertone... amazing)

I framed the egg prints I picked up on Portobello Road in London - 
using frames I picked up at Home Goods.  

The room was looking great with the new paint, beadboard, sink, toilet and faucet, but the old ventilation fan was super noisy and rattle-y.  I replaced the noisy fan with a quiet quiet quiet one...

and added crown molding.

Now the light fixture needed updating.  That was the plan all along, but it proved more difficult than it should have.

The new light fixture arrived in a big box and I left instructions for it to be installed while I was out.  I came home to the light fixture installed - but in brushed nickel (I'd ordered polished chrome) - and the contractor had taken the trash when he left, including the box and papers. I couldn't return it.  I was stuck with it.  It was beautiful.  It was just - wrong.

I ordered a new fixture.

Its installed.  Its functional.  I don't love it.
I have two great light fixtures.. going cheap...anyone?

Sometimes even designers have trouble finding the perfect fixture....I'm still looking...

But in the meantime, I hung my antique, worm-eaten, pine shelf behind the toilet and filled it with family memories...

The double decker bus tin from Harrods is there, and the sardine tin from my son's trip to Norway...home of our ancestry...(one of them, anyway)
and the SS United States ocean liner tin - a ship I traveled on as a child...

and an antique brown medicine bottle from a trip to Texas...

And the snowball - well, its as big as a house...
and growing...

Anyone else have a snowball episode?  Love to hear about it - tell me all about it in the comments!


In the meantime... a question from a reader.

Hi Claudine,
I am renovating my smallish kitchen. I am putting in glossy white cabinets, ice mist glass tile backslash, a dark gray silestone conter top and a charcoal gray floor tile in 12 by 24 tiles. Seeking a wall color to go with this kitchen. Kitchen flows right into living room. I need help picking wall colors. Living room has a lot of natural light and Kitchen not as much. Thank you for your help.


Hi Debby,
With the neutral palette you have described you have a lot of options.  Since the kitchen lacks natural light, you should test any color you like on poster board under the incandescent or led lighting of the kitchen - it will affect the color.  You haven't mentioned any colors you like, and I'm assuming you will carry the color into the living room, so we need to also look at the color in that room - but here are a few tried and true neutral colors you may like with the gray and white palette you have chosen.

Edgecomb Gray (light gray with beige undertone)

Gray Owl (sometimes a slight green undertone)

Accessible Beige (cool toned beige)

Magnetic Gray (muted blue green undertone)

Try painting some as samples on poster board and try them out in the room at different times of day and in different light -
Good luck!



I am redesigning the backyard.
I'm not really ready to get started gardening, but The Hubs is chomping at the bit to get at it.  
He spent two days over Presidents Weekend putting in 4 new rose bushes for me, including these two gorgeous specimens. 
Abraham Darby

Classic Woman
That's true love for you.  
The soil here is clay and chock full of boulders, 
but he managed to get the proper sized holes dug and these beauties planted.
 I can't wait to bring the blooms into the house - grow, grow, grow!

For him, it is relaxing and fulfilling.  For me, time consuming.

I do love a beautiful garden, and ours right now is a bit on the rough side.
Its a cross between overgrown/neglected and dying, 
thanks to our remodel/construction and the drought
.. and I'm looking for more of a cross between English Cottage Garden and Downton Abbey.

In other words, the free flowing feeling of a cottage garden,
with a little more order and structure
and a lot less work

So, to the internet I went to research English gardens 
and found this website called Pictures of England
The Cotswolds was the logical place to look for an English country garden.
It is, after all, the English countryside. 
Now England is calling me again.
After you see these photos, it will be calling you, too.

It would be rude not to answer....



I'm looking for a paint color for second floor hallway. Wall to wall carpet is navy blue. Wood trim and built in wood linen closet is Benjamin Moore white wing. I'd like a color that would be good so we hang pictures on the wall.

Right now walls are white wing. There is no exterior light to the hallway, just painted white wing paneled 1900 doors to bedrooms and bathroom.

Jan | 

Hi Jan,

I'm thinking a soft greige (beige with gray undertone - or gray with beige undertone...), not too dark, but enough of a color to pop against the white woodwork.  

Try Edgecomb Gray BM 

or Sea Salt BM.  

You could also look at Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige - less gray, but goes with everything!



Kathleen's kitchen was kind of perfect,
except for the wallpaper border
the outdated window coverings
and the oak cabinets

and the fact that she wanted to change


except the layout
[which was the perfect part]
and the floor - a wood look tile that she loved
But, other than that, she was okay with her kitchen....

Now, however, 
she loves it.

Who can blame her?

Gone are the dated yellow oak cabinets -
in their place... creamy white.

A new apron sink,
new window coverings...
and new appliances.

The new colors are beautiful, soft and calm -
a palette of grays, navy and mustard

We added additional recessed lighting
and pendant lighting [Pottery Barn]

We kept the table and chairs but recovered the seats.

We added new bronze knobs and pulls

Pental Quartz counters
and tumbled travertine (subway style) back splash

(we tucked the electrical plugs up under the cabinets so that beautiful backsplash
wouldn't be interrupted by ugly outlets)

We topped the island with warm walnut butcher block.

Added a custom vent hood

A few accessories

and an awesome magnetic blackboard
for the desk area
We also reupholstered this funky little desk chair - 
for a pop of mustard.  

The result is a warm and inviting kitchen

custom kitchen cabinets by


link within

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