kitchen renovation notebook: butcher block

Earlier this year we went into Manhattan and way, way downtown to Green Depot to look at the linoleum samples in person, and ended up looking at countertops as well. As the store’s name suggests, they focus on renewable and sustainable design, so their countertop selection consisted of composite materials like quartz, and butcher block. I’ll admit, I automatically gravitated to the marble-like quartz options, but my husband really loved the butcher block.

You might think that butcher block is substantially cheaper than stone counters, but it’s not, unless you go the pre-cut route at a store like Ikea. According this Remodelista post, custom butcher block counters run between $75 to $150 per square foot. But the warmth of the countertops is undeniable and definitely evokes a country kitchen.

My only concern with butcher block is having it near the sink. Some articles indicate that unsealed butcher block near a sink will get discolored. I’m okay with an even patina, but not straight-up rotting sections of counter. So do you have butcher block counters and if so, how is the maintenance? Any issues near the sink?

yes to… chinoiserie

yes to chinoiserie

I fully realize this is a category that encompasses many things. I could have very easily done “yes to faux bamboo” or “yes to ginger jars,” and I probably will in the future. But I love the whimsy of all the different pieces together so here we are: chinoiserie.

Chinoiserie is a French word that means Chinese-esque. (The French are very creative). I’ve been researching 18th century decor this year, and chinoiserie pieces pop up quite a bit, but it entered the Western design consciousness in the 17th century. Europeans attempted to recreate Chinese porcelain and wallpapers, and the result was a blending of Chinese and European styles. Lacquered tables, painted tin (tole), fretwork–these are all a result of Europeans imitating East Asian artisans.

The style eventually fell out of favor in the late 18th century, but in the 20th century designers like Dorothy Draper infused their rooms with Chinoiserie elements. Chinoiserie can have a very society feel in a formal apartment, but when mixed with mid-century pieces in modern interiors, its whimsy is in full effect.

I have at least one chinoiserie-inspired piece in every room. They add lightness and humor–there is nothing serious about faux bamboo or rattan. So if you ever find yourself with a room that feels too stuffy and formal, get thee some faux bamboo.

Mary Katrantzou Maxi Dress – Net-a-Porter / Gilded Chinoiserie Pagoda Mirror – Chairish / China Rose Green Pillow – Biscuit Home / Dana Gibson Cachepot – Belle and June / Bungalow 5 Jacqui Navy Table – Layla Grace

crouching tiger, hidden chrysanthemums

crouching flowersDespite my attempts to hermetically seal myself inside the apartment this winter, I finally got a cold this week. So I spent most of the afternoon the other day on the sofa, indulging in some daytime Netflix.

I ended up watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a movie I should’ve seen years ago but never did. It’s a gorgeous film; the fight choreography is incredible and the scenery is lovely. But I kept getting distracted by one detail: flowers!

hidden mums

They’re chrysanthemums, and I am obsessed.the green thumb destiny

My meager research suggests they’re done in the Japanese kiku ogiku style, which coaxes a single bloom per stem. (My research also told me the New York Botanical Garden did a massive show of this style of arrangement this past fall, so now I am depressed).

I doubt I’d be successful growing (and coaxing) these myself, but boy do I want to get some sort of flowering plant going in a gorgeous container now. So I want to know: have you had success with indoor flowering plants? Which ones?