Tuesday, June 9, 2015

New Entryway Tile

Over the years, every house endures a new stage of life - be it through new occupants or renovations alone. We bought Holtwood House both for and in spite of all of the idiosyncrasies that come with those various life stages. It's funny, but walking into the house on that first tour, I looked down at the original, 1960's grimy, avocado green glazed ceramic tile in the entryway and I think it struck me as "cool". Original details usually pique the interest of a buyer like myself who was looking to purchase an older home. It wasn't too long after purchasing that I started to rethink that cool tile - partly because it never really looked clean, but also because I was trying to work in a lighter, more modern palette and the dark, dated tile in the entryway always bore such a challenging contrast to all the progress around it. 

We battled it for 5 years, largely based on budget and other renovation priorities. We tried distracting away from it with colorful artwork and covered it up with rugs and furnishings. I actually even painted it out once in my most epic DIY fail to date (please don't even think of doing this - just don't) and inevitably had to scrape all of the paint off it to live with it yet another year.  I have to admit we even thought about coating over it with feather finish to give it an industrial warehouse type look. Obviously I was getting a bit desperate.

Once we decided that we would finally make this a priority in 2015, we waffled between a colorful polished concrete and tile - eventually landing on the latter. We shopped various tile styles and budgets for our roomy 100sq. feet of entry and eventually made the decision to purchase an inexpensive plank style from Home Depot. 

We played around with different layouts right there on the showroom floor and in the end, decided to lay it in a herringbone pattern. A light gray grout complimented it nicely and will save us from scrubbing out stains that will eventually come in an entryway had we gone with a bright white.

What a difference it makes walking through the front door or looking on from adjacent rooms. It brightened up our tunnel-like entry so much. I also can't help but be amazed at how all of those furnishings that once clashed, now settled in and became part of the overall landscape of the space, the way they were always intended to.

*Tile is Marazzi 'VitaElegante Grigio' available at Home Depot
Grout is 'Delorean Gray'

Monday, June 8, 2015

Recent Event Work // Strawberry Dessert Bar

Chocolate covered strawberries can get a corny reputation- often synonymous with really only one holiday - Valentine's Day. That seems such a sad and unfortunate missed opportunity to indulge in one of the easiest, tastiest and even somewhat healthy sweet treats! For one- February is not even peak strawberry season so while you're feeding perfectly red, large stemmed berries to your Valentine, they are surely some hothouse grown specimen purchased from a restaurant dessert cart at a premium. I say, right now is best time to dip and enjoy those berries. 

So it was no wonder then that I recommended a strawberry bar when asked to create a dessert station for a recent engagement party.

Our grocery had just received their first shipments of local berries plucked right from the field- many of which were giant sized and perfect for dipping. I set out to make 4 dozen dipped and rolled in various toppings to give the guests variety and the presentation some visual variation. This could not have been easier friends (nor more fun!).  I presented them on tiered platters and a bed of shiso leaves which kept things looking bright and fresh.

Looking to do the same (and you should!)- here's my hot tip: Use your microwave to melt your chocolate. The trick is to heat it at 50% power for 90 seconds. The chips won't look like they are melted at first, but stir them up. If you still find you need a little more melting time - again heat at 50% power for 10 second intervals. Full power will surely burn the chocolate. I also found that Ghiradelli now makes "melting chips" akin to those little fondue fountain disks you see. They work great and offer a low risk option to your dipping chocolate. 

I also added a little flair to the adjoining coffee station. Remember these mineral decanters I made for our home bar? I used them to create a flavored creamer presentation. Sometimes you have to sell the coffee- especially at a celebration where signature his/hers cocktails were flowing until the wee hours of the next morning.

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