The Bar


       Before we moved into our new home this room was being used as a home office. If you read my blog you know, I love my husband but he is not the tidiest person ever. Thus, there was NO WAY I was going to let his messy cluttered desk be the first thing you see when you walk through our front door. Sure we could have put French doors on this room but what I loved about our new house was how open our floor plan is and I didn't want to stunt the flow of our new airy design. 

I have always wanted a "parlor" or bar room and it wasn't hard to get Dallas on board with my idea of making this room our own personal saloon. When we bought this property, this particular room was simple with plain beige walls that felt unimaginative. My idea was to dress this space up in classy contemporary duds that felt both manly yet soft and feminine to keep with the tide of the house. 

Here are our before pictures of this room:

I wanted this room to be the best of both worlds, spotlighting each of our personalities, individually and as a couple. I used six principal pieces from our previous home to launch my creative style in the right direction. I wanted to play with textures in this room. I repurposed our old Pottery Barn Bar and Bar Sign, along with our Homegoods metal Strager "S" and linen chair. I pulled our old gray linen living room curtain into this room as well. They seemed to compliment the metals I was gravitating towards. (Budget hack: I took my two curtains and had a seamstress cut them into four. Saved me a ton!) Although none of these pieces worked together in the past, in this moment, it was the construction of this room that pulled all of my misfit furnishings together. 

Our contractor Gus of The Levi Group helped me design an elegant room with intricate molding and sleek glossy white walls. I told him "Before I put any furniture in here, I want this room to be beautiful on its own." Gus heard me loud and clear. I remember walking into our construction zone to roll out my new Homegoods rug as the finishing touches were being painted. I stopped dead in my tracks and said out loud, "God I can't wait to have a smoked Manhattan in this room!"

Another hurdle I needed to overcome in this room was the lack of light.  I had to have our contractor bring in an electrician to install wiring overhead and through the walls for sconces.

I REALLY wanted to use my old Pottery Barn wine glass chandelier that I saved from our old house but rod iron wasn't the right metal and Pottery doesn't make that fixture anymore. I looked high and low for another manufacture that might carry the same design but I kept coming up empty. Then someone suggested I refinish the piece myself. Now, let me just say I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into, but I did document this experiment if anyone is interested in refinishing one yourself. (Video below) 

Once the room was complete and furniture was placed it was time for the details. Our old "Bar" sign was constructed of silver metal and once we hung the centerpiece for the room I realized it needed to be gold. I had some leftover paint from refinishing our chandelier and our aupair Elena (Who has a design degree) offered to help paint the gold brush strokes through the once silver words. I found a silver and bronze cocktail tray from the Hearth and Hand collection at Target along with a bronze hammered corner barrel to displace wine on. I filled an empty vase with old champagne corks and ordered a bourbon smoker from William Sonoma. 

The room was almost complete. However, it was missing something I couldn't put my finger on and one day, while I was scrolling through Instagram, an ad came up for a "Press For Champagne" sign. Damn it Instagram, it's like you were reading my mind! (Or listening to my conversations, which we know you do.) I clicked the link and the moment I read the words "it really rings" I was all in! TAKE MY MONEY! 

With the missing piece in place, I walked behind the bar and made myself the best smoked Manhattan I had ever tasted. It tasted like success. I kicked back in my big linen chair and savored every sip. 

A Family Heirloom Nightmare


If you follow All Of The F-Words on social media (and why wouldn't you? @AllOfTheFWords) then you know the nightmare that ensued when I took this simple painting to be reframed. If you missed it, allow me to relive this bad dream with you! 

When we moved into our new home the painting above was moved from our old powder room to be front and center in our new living room. Although this piece of art looks like a quaint Italian painted landscape, it is so much more than that. This painting is an artwork that my parents bought together over 35 years ago. It was hanging in their home when my father passed away and my mother asked me if I would like to have it. 

Of course, there was no doubt in my mind that I would find the perfect place to hang it and that it would always remind me of my parents and the undying love they had for each other. However, moving the painting from the powder room to the living room also made me feel like I needed to change the frame. The old frame was gold and intricate and felt unsettling in our cream and navy living area. It almost clashed.    

Because this piece is a family heirloom I wanted to call my mother before I made any changes and out of respect, make sure she was okay with it. After all, she did have a hand in purchasing the original. She gave me her blessing and away I went to price out new frames. 

I had just finished working with Fast Frames in Pineville for two shadow boxes hanging in my "Cloffice" (Office/Closet) and I knew they did impeccable work. I couldn't have been happier with the job they did but they were on the pricey side and I didn't want to break the bank on a basic black frame. 

Next, I made my way to Michaels. I knew they had a framing department and I've always seen the 40% off coupons that you get in their flyer. Now normally I wouldn't throw anyone under the bus but my experience there was so traumatic with one specific employee that I feel the need to share. 

I should have known that it was too good to be true when I picked out a simple black "weathered" frame and it was 1/3 of the price I received with other quotes. As I filled out the paperwork at the counter I asked the gentleman if removing the original frame would damage the frame itself? I thought MAYBE somewhere down the road I would find another piece of art to hang in it. 

"No Problem," he said. "I'll remove it right now and you can take it home". We were off to a great start. He took my painting to the back room and returned with a fully intact frame. However, when he handed it to me I noticed that he also had some sort of black substance all over his forearm. As we both inspected the frame and painting we were alarmed to see the black substance was also all over the sky in my artwork! 

I froze! All I can imagine is that this guy walked to the back with my family heirloom and carelessly popped the painting out of its frame with the tip of his pen. As we stood there staring at each other I felt an eternity go by before I finally exclaimed, "YOU'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING!" He of course panicked and ran to the back room, returning with some sort of spray solution, claiming "This is the strongest stuff we have! It's gotta come out with this!" Before I could even rebuff he was spraying the ink. Nothing. That ink all but told him to go to hell and with that, I felt my blood boil. In my mind, I could see myself leaping over the counter. This was my dead father's f-ing hand me down 35-year-old painting for Christ sake!!!!

Somehow, I stayed calm. Feeling like I was going to snap at any moment. That's when another woman walked out of the backroom and said: "bring it here and let me work on it". I was desperate so I let her take the piece of art. Meanwhile, homeboy has disappeared, probably in fear for his job (or life).

I stood in the framing section of the store by myself for 5 minutes. 7 minutes. 10 minutes. As I fought back the tears anxiously waiting for some news, the woman finally emerged without her male counterpart and to my surprise she had a perfectly clean painting!!!! I almost jumped on her with excitement! "Lady!" I exclaimed. "I don't know what you did to clean this painting but I could make out with you!" 

I don't know why and I don't know how but after I thanked her for saving one of the only things I have left of my father, I actually left the painting there to be framed. Looking back, I can't believe I left it after the experience that I had. Maybe I was still in shock but the more disturbing thing is that other than a half-ass apology, no one on the staff even offered me anything to make it right. I wasn't looking for a freebie, but for the drama, I would have appreciated some sort of discount. Needless to say, I won't be framing anything else at Michaels. 

From Closet to Wine Cellar


You know what makes me happy (and sane)? Wine! I love it!  I love the way it makes me feel. The way it tastes and smells. The way it pairs with food. It's color! I love it so much, that in our last two homes it has even played a major role in our home decor.  

I have always fantasized about having a wine cellar in our house but it never really seemed like something in our reach. We settled for wine boards in our last home and it was always a big topic of conversation when we were entertaining or hosting holidays. 

When we bought our new home and decided that we were going to do some "renovations" it was an idea that I just threw out there. Never thinking it would stick or that Dallas would go for it. However, with the excessive amount of closets and storage we had on our first floor, to my surprise, both our GC and my husband, not only entertained the idea but dare I say, thought it was a good plan.

Everyone was excited about the concept that we would take a basic under the stairs closet and transform it into a temperature-controlled wine cellar. That was until we priced out what the temperature-controlled unit would cost us.  

We went back and forth for days. "Should we even do it?" After all, we already have two wine chillers in Dallas's man room for our white wine and champagne. After sitting down with our General Contractor (Gus Levi of The Levi Group) we decided to go for it. Gus asked us what kind of wine we would store in the cellar and after thinking about it we said, "mostly reds." He pointed out that red wine doesn't necessarily need to be chilled. It just shouldn't ever get warm and that the stone, in addition to the lack of direct sunlight, should keep the room cool enough for reds. 

We also collectively decided that we would make the cellar as close to being temperature controlled as possible, That way if we ever decided, later on, to convert it over we could. 

And so, our construction began...

As Gus's guys started to tear out sheetrock we were left with the difficult decision of what stone to dress the remaining cellar walls in. After looking at man-made vs natural stone until I was blue in the face we decided to go with the man-made stone that we had already chosen for our vault fireplace. (Details in a blog, coming soon.) We thought it would be a nice way to blend the two rooms. 

As the stacked stone was being installed, Gus ordered our glass wall and door to seal off the room. We chose black hardware to tie in the black wood railings and accents throughout the house and started searching for black floating wine racks online. 

After a ton of research Gus and I decided to go with Vintage View's floating wine racks and to stagger their hight according to the ceiling. 

Since there was already electric running to the cellar (for future endeavors) I establish that I wouldn't mind lighting to accent the stone walls. I went with a small plain black track lighting to be installed over the door frame just high enough to be out of sight but still provide ambiance.  

After seeing the finished product, I think this concept far exceeded our expectations. It is the perfect centerpiece for our home and it was so gratifying to see the process come to fruition. Something that I never thought was possible is now one of my favorite features in our home!

Our Powder Room Remodel


   Since finishing our home renovations I have probably received the most inquiries about this room. Our first-floor powder room really took on quite the transformation when we gutted the old brown mosaic tile from it's interior and replaced it with a clean, bright, and modern nucleus. It was a simple bathroom with tan walls, bland old school vanity, and mismatched mirror. 

   This room has come such a long way and to be honest so have I. I learned a valuable lesson while redoing this room. I thought I could design, hire out and project manage this adventure (while working full time and being a mom) to save a few bucks... What I've learned? Leave being a General Contractor to the professionals! 

    It was one of the only rooms in the house the previous owners hadn't brought up to date and it's identity was a little misconstrued. Take the closet for example, from the outside it looked just like a normal cupboard but upon further inspection, we noticed that it was, at some point previously, a shower. Now, the showerhead and faucet had been removed and plastered over but the telltale sign was the tile on the floor and drain. 

Not sure why they decided to go a different direction and modify it to become a basic powder room but here we are! 

Before construction began, we needed a plan. One normal Saturday afternoon, I was on Pinterest trying to find some inspiration for my confused little loo and I came across a wallpaper that I couldn't get out of my head. It was cream with explosions of grey sunbursts and although I didn't end up choosing that specific wallpaper, it became my muse for the room. Grey and white with a pop of pink became my color pallet and away I went.

I picked out our beautiful grey vanity from Lowes to save us about $500 since the vanity, sink, and countertop came as one piece at an amazing price. I refinished the old bathroom mirror to boast a pretty pewter frame, only costing me $10 in spray paint and finishes. I was off to a great start! 

For the decor, I hit up my favorite stop, Homegoods! I found a gorgeous bouquet of flowers in a grey and white pot, hand towels, a perfectly pink peony candle, toilet paper valet, towel holder and an elegant piece of art in pink and grey to really pack a punch. 

Here is what our half bath looked like before our renovation: 

I also love reusing pieces where I can but the remanence from this gut fest was pretty heinous, so I went to the bullpen! We were simultaneously decorating Cashton's playroom while we were dismantling the bathroom and I notice that the chandelier light we were removing from the playroom fit my color scheme in the bathroom! Bam! Something I could remove from my budget! Just like that, we saved $350 bucks!

This is where things went a little sideways for me. I handpicked all of my materials. I found my wallpaper at Celedore in South Park and had Jennifer from Carolina Wall Coverings (who I had used many times before) install my wallpaper.

 She did an amazing job but I feel like that gave me a false sense of reassurance because the tile install didn't go exactly as I had planned. Our handyman, who we love... assured us that he could install our tile floor as he has work in tile for years before becoming a painter. I should have known when he told us the install price that it was too good to be true. 

Apparently, when choosing my floor tile, I chose a smaller tile than he was used to dealing with. Our first install was terrible! The floor was uneven and had pieces sticking up so much that if you had walked on it in bare feet you would probably be leaving with a bloody foot or at least a stubbed toe. 

I felt awful but I thought the whole floor needed to be torn up and started again from scratch. Luckily, we were able to have the uneven pieces dug out and reset with new tile, without having to redo the entire floor. Although the floor turned out just fine, it did teach me a valuable lesson. Leave specialty jobs to the professionals!!! 

We also hired out the construction of our barn doors. They took a lot longer than I thought they would (8-10 weeks from order to install) and during our first install attempt, I noticed the wrong hardware had been ordered. An unfortunate set back, but it happens. 

This project took us a lot longer than I thought it would and having a bathroom out of commition for 2 months is a huge inconvenience. The wallpaper has to wait on the tile but has to be installed before the sink and the barn doors have to go in last. Everyone relies on someone else. Scheduling and learning (the hard way) what comes next was exhausting. 

I LOVE this bathroom but it really was a labor of love. My suggestion. Hire a general contractor and let them figure out the rest! 

Breakfast Of Champions


Happy home improvement month, at least that is what we are celebrating at All Of The F-Words during the month of August. We have taken all summer to handpick the best pieces and projects for our new home and this month we are sharing them with you in a "home edition mini-series". 

Today, I am focused on our breakfast of champions! Our breakfast nook. True, we didn't have to "construct" anything new in this room per se, but a lot of thought went into the details of this room because it is where we start our days. 

When we moved into our new home the kitchen had just been remodeled and I immediately fell in love with the warm cream tones of the cabinets and leathered granite that cascaded across our countertops and into the coffee bar inside our breakfast nook.

 Our main kitchen island featured a gorgeous continuous piece of tri-colored granite in shades of black, white and gold. Being the centerpiece to our house I truly believe that this specific piece set the tone for the designs to come (more about this inspiration in a future kitchen blog). 

When I envisioned a relaxing, warm and refreshing place to start my day, I brainstormed colors and patterns that I knew both myself, and my husband could live with. There was no way Dallas was going to let me pile shades of pale pink all over our new house in hopes to set it apart from the very brown rustic vibe that we furbished our previous home in. 

Don't get me wrong. I loved our restoration hardware feel in our prior house but this homestead screamed modern elegance, not french rustic. Sure we would still be able to use most of our old pieces of furniture but the rooms themselves would be decorated and accessorized very differently.

Take our breakfast nook itself. We still made our old table and chairs work but instead of our vintage jupe chestnut and ivory rug, I updated the look with a navy blue, gray and gold patterned rug I found in the target home section. Navy and gold will be a color pattern you will see throughout our new home.

I also kept our personalized wine barrel lazy susan from Pottery Barn and our AR Workshop sign that I made myself in one of those "girls night" classes. Except for this time, instead of being surrounded by iron and wood, I ordered an antique gold half moon accent table from Wayfair to finish off the room. 

Fun fact about this table... it wasn't exactly "antique" gold when I unpacked it. I was actually going to send it back until I learned that shipping it back to Wayfair was going to be $100 for my $299 table. So I took that bad boy out back with a brillo pad and took off some of the bright gold paint to give it a more antique feel. Now, I LOVE IT!

It just goes to show that sometimes you've got to get a little creative. Which we did in more than one room in our new house.  Sometimes, what is in your head is hard to find and you have a better shot of creating it than settling on a piece of furniture you will just come to resent.  

Happy Monday! 

Happy Wife Happy Life : The Master Closet


Happy wife, happy life! Our family had no intention of moving this year, but with a 2-year-old and a new Aupair, our old house suddenly felt much smaller. Cue new home. When we found our new residence, the former owner had already done a ton of upgrades to the property, but we wanted to put our own personal touch on the house to make it our home.  

Now that we are finished with our home improvement projects and all moved in, I am excited to share some of our "upgrades" with you! It's home improvement month on All Of The F-Words! This month I will be sharing with you the projects that we took on and the process to make them happen along with before and after photos! 

First up, our master closet! 

Much to my surprise, when we were setting our budget for these home projects Dallas brought up that we could use more closet space in our master bedroom. Luckily, we also had a fairly large room off the master bathroom that we were baffled by. 

What did the old owners use it for? And what would we use it for? Was it a sitting room? Workout room? Office? Closet? We had no idea. The room was rectangular with sloped ceilings on both sides, making it a challenging space to build anything in, to say the least.

Dal's sister (who is a professional celebrity stylist) had her studio closet done a few years ago by California Closets and he suggested we call around to get a few quotes. 

I met with 3 local designers from different companies to discuss our perplexing space and work out some ideas. I knew two things. I needed hanging/drawers/shelf space and I needed to stay in our budget. (Especially if I wanted to complete our other home projects.)

The quotes were all so different but I loved that some of the things that were important to us, like soft close drawers, were included in our California Closets quote. (This is where things were getting pricy with other companies.)

California Closet's designer Morgan Haynie met me at our home one chilly afternoon. She came prepared with a warm smile, tape measure, and hardware for us to choose from. As we started to discuss our ideas vs what was actually possible in our vacant space our vision started to come to life. 

Morgan did an amazing job "getting creative" while reworking our wants to fit the space we had, in the parameters of our budget. She took measurements and in a few days, we had a digital mockup of what our closet layout would look like, complete with a window seat. (I wish I could take credit for that but it was all Morgan's idea.) 

California Closets took our space from this:

To this: 

California Closets did such an amazing job making our space warm and functional that I decided to make our dream closet my office too! 

Sidebar: This was right around the time that sharing an office with Dallas started to become difficult. Love him (mean it), but I am too type A to work in his office and share a desk.

After a challenging start, this space came to have a personality all of its own. We later added a coffee bar and art to our now "Cloffice" and it feels like home! 

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