Category Archives: interiors

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?

kitchen renovation notebook: linoleum

After much budget crunching, wine drinking, and Pinterest stalking, we’ve decided to go ahead with our kitchen remodel this year. We’re going to attempt to do as much as we can ourselves (with the help of my electrician dad), and then fill in with the pros where needed. We’ll be on a tight schedule with my dad, so the goal over the next few months is to make design decisions, start working on orders with long lead times, and basically try to have everything on site at the start of the project. (You can cackle at my naivete now).

I have a clear idea for the cabinets, counters, and the backsplash. Floors, however, leave me a bit stumped. Currently we have ceramic tile, which can be a hard thing to stand on for long periods. Not to mention the fact the tile is at least an inch higher than the rest of the apartment floors. New thing I learned: old homes typically have hardwood subfloors, except in the kitchens, where it’s probably plywood. So you need thin flooring if you want everything flush. Not tile.

That leaves us with vinyl or… linoleum.

Yes, linoleum. Period-appropriate, durable, eco-friendly, and affordable. I always associated linoleum with vinyl flooring, but I’ve learned they are two vastly different categories. Linoleum is made from renewable resources, is biodegradable, and it’s been in use in homes since the late 19th century. A sheet of plastic, it is not.

The cool thing about linoleum is it comes in planks, squares, and sheets. With that kind of flexibility, you can create graphic patterns or just do a mega-dose of solid color, like the orange linoleum in the above room of a working horse ranch, no doubt meant to remind you of Hermes orange.

For our utilitarian galley kitchen, linoleum makes a fairly compelling case. Any other linoleum lovers out there, or at least linoleum-curious?

behind the scenes with ruthie sommers

Do you remember this colorful home in House Beautiful, designed by Ruthie Sommers? I started following Ruthie on Pinterest, where I then discovered she started a blog. She recently posted about the above living room and its origins, and I was so very excited to get some of the behind-the-scenes details. I particularly loved her description of the design:

Lets make this feel like a preppy 80′s house that Mark Hampton may have designed so we never have to decorate again and we smile when we walk in the rooms.

Isn’t that wonderful? I also just love hearing designers and decorators talk. Sometimes seeing rooms in print, you get this distinct feeling that decorators are a little self-serious. But honestly, after making rounds at the Kips Bay show house this year, the overwhelming impression left by designers is they just really, really love this stuff. I mean, when I interviewed Miles Redd he talked about his Frydaddy. Decorators, they’re just like us with deep-frying mishaps and a love for good preppy houses.

As far as news around these parts goes, I have things to share–dining chairs came! living room painted! the purchase of a pair of slipper chairs! curtains!–just lacking the wherewithal to write it all up. I have a feeling once I buy my first bouquet of the season (don’t judge: my neighborhood seriously lacks good flower selection!), I’ll take a bunch of photos and be basically obligated to blog them. It’s some sort of blogger commandment, I think.

6 cottage entry essentials

cottage console

Original image by Paul Whicheloe

I’ve been looking for entry inspiration, especially anything with storage that doesn’t amount to pre-school cubbies. So when I found Janet Gregg’s home in Cottage Living, I took note of this vignette. Lots of clever containers with laid-back style.

Jaeva Table Lamp – Lulu & Georgia / Atlantis Clam Shell – Z Gallerie / Mandarin Altar Table – Home Decorators / Elephant Hamper – Home Decorators / Java Tribal Ikat Pillow – Society Social / Tortoise Bamboo Chair – Maison Midi

a colorful ruthie sommers project

green and pink living room

All photos by Simon Watson

I’m beginning to think Ruthie Sommers is my dream decorator. Her interiors never shy from color or pattern, and this Lake Forest home, featured in House Beautiful, is no exception.

There are those decorators whose rooms are lovely, but I –wisely or not– think I could pull off the same thing with the 100k budget of their clients. But then I look at a home like this, and know, no, I could not do this. Between the striped bathroom and the gorgeously colorful dining room, I bow down.
pink sofa green and yellow room blue dining room striped bathroom floral bedroomgreen bedroom