Bennett Kitchen: Sconces

Every time I start a remodel project I do an initial walk through with Chuck the electrician before rough-in. He always says (use southern accent) “have you got sum fixtures you wanna design the house around”. Lighting is so absolutely important and easy to get wrong, whether you choose a fixture that’s the wrong scale for the room or you don’t have enough.

The plan at the Bennett kitchen calls for sconces on either side of our custom range hood. It’s time to start thinking about the right pair of fixtures. Here’s the roundup,


Bennett Kitchen Sconces

1 Hudson Valley heirloom old bronze  2 Schoolhouse Electric Princeton junior factory shade  3 Schoolhouse Electric Princeton freshman  4 Cedar & Moss Tilt Cone  5 Rejuvenation Carson L-Arm  6 Shades of Light vintage traditions  7 Barn Light Electric Garden City  8 Schoolhouse Electric Princeton junior

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The White TV I’m Hoarding

I was cruising through my internet friend Danielle’s Pinterest board that she shared with me a while back when she was renovating her kitchen.

When I say my internet friend Danielle, I mean a person whom I’ve never met in person that lives in another state and reached out to me because she reads this blog. We’ve exchanged some emails, opinions about design and other design bloggers, her kitchen remodel and her dining room design plan. Danielle has a love for design and she likes good stuff, the kind of stuff I like too, so we’re internet friends–would you agree Danielle?

So I was cruising through her Pinterest board and she must’ve been trolling some old Martha Stewart maybe because she had a couple of oldies but goodies in there and then I came across this image,

martha stewart kitchen white TV


This kitchen was on the cover of Martha Stewart Living, maybe 2007. Doesn’t it just make you want to bake something like… now. It has elements that are still lovable 7 or 8 years later, like grey & yellow paired together, grey island paired with white cabinets, marble counters, bin pulls, bridge faucet and a subway tile backsplash.

I liked the kitchen well enough at the time but what I really fancied was that modern, perfectly scaled, white Samsung TV. We had just moved in to our first house and it was our first big renovation and I knew exactly where I could mount that little white TV. My parents gave us the TV for Christmas. We mounted it under the upper cabinet as pictured above and it was great. The TV moved with us and was used in the next two houses after that but now in our current house, the TV is sitting sad and alone in the attic.  But I’m hoarding it.

white samsung TV

Even at 7 years old roughly, it still looks sharp. Recently, my husband Dan was trying to persuade me to get rid of it, after I went on a diatribe about getting rid of every single thing that we didn’t need—oh the hypocrisy.

And this image that my friend Danielle posted on her Pinterest board only justifies keeping the unused TV–I think.

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Best Kitchen Accessories

Chances are you’ve seen one or all of these accessories in all those dream kitchens you’ve been pinning. From serving boards to canisters, we’ve rounded up six must have accessories for the kitchen.

accessory kitchen mix


Best Kitchen Accessories


best kitchen accessories2

Schoolhouse Electric Brass RailHammam hand towel, West ElmServing board, General Store

Anchor Hocking canisters, Walmartolive wooden bowl, Lulu & GeorgiaWire baskets, Brook Farm General Store

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Trends: Metal Shelves in Kitchens

Metal shelving and brackets…making kitchens special everywhere.

Sometimes they are made out of pipe which I know you’re really thrilled about and even better if there’s a DIY prospect in it right? We love that industrial look. Kudos to those of you that can pull that kind of stuff off or who have partners or roommates that are all handy like that.

Have you noticed this phenomenon?

This is just the right kitchen to kick this off,

metal elle decor
























If you know with a large degree of certainty that you have to have this type of your shelving in your kitchen talk to us about it.

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White Appliances on a Comeback?

Speaking of a comeback, have you watched or are already a dedicated viewer of The Comeback on HBO? We recently watched 2 or 3 episodes and it was almost entirely too painful and awkward to watch. But Val is a train wreck and you have to return to see if she ever gets a break.


I’m working on two kitchen remodels right now, the Spring Hill kitchen and the Bennett kitchen.

We are keeping our gaze firmly locked on a budget for both projects but more so for the Bennett kitchen. Because we’re keeping a budget-minded approach here, a more economical choice would be to re-use the existing gas range because it isn’t that old and is still in good working order. The existing range is white, as are the other existing appliances.

We will need:

  • a new fridge
  • add a dishwasher

We will be re-using existing:

  • microwave
  • range

For the most part everyone is using stainless appliances these days. The choices are actually a lot greater now in stainless than they are in white. So as a compromise, I briefly considered the possibility of mixing white and stainless.

green cabinets

We don’t know what color the fridge is here from this image but I’d wager a bet that it is a stainless steel Sub-Zero or Jenn Air to go with the white dishwasher and black range,

checkerboard floor

We’ve got a black microwave, vintage white range and a stainless steel dishwasher going on here,

vintage stove checkerboard


This is my favorite example and one of my new favorite cottage kitchens right now. It’s a cute southern cottage kitchen designed by Milk and Honey Home. The stainless gas range looks fairly comfortable sitting next to the white dishwasher.

mix appliances


mix appliances3

You probably already noticed like I did that a lot of the mixing takes place with a vintage or very expensive range in place. And we don’t have either of those in the Bennett kitchen.

So…we move forward in matching our existing white appliances. Let’s look at a few inspirational images with white appliances,

white appliances


GE artistry appliances



White fridge happening,

mix appliances2





white appliance range



white appliance swedish home


So besides the normal white appliances we’re all used to, what else is out there? Let’s start with a reasonable price point.

The GE Artistry line is reasonably priced and has this cool retro styling with a white exterior and stainless accents.


The fridge is a little deep though so I’m considering using only the dishwasher from the Artistry line and pairing that up with a white fridge.

Whirlpool also offers sleek, white appliances in their White Ice collection. I can’t say that I like them as well as the GE Artistry line.

whirlpool white ice

I’m leaning more toward a slimmer, economical white fridge like this one,

white whirlpool


But what if you had a much larger budget? Well…then the white appliances get a lot prettier,

white viking


white heritage range


white wolf range




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Green Kitchen Cabinets

Green Kitchen Cabinets  |  A 2016 Kitchen Trend to Love!

Certainly blue, in different shades like navy and blue/grey, is having it’s moment for kitchen islands and lower cabinets … but green?  Green Kitchen Cabinets are pretty happenin’ too.


Let’s see if any of these images set your wheels spinning, like they have ours.

One person who pinned this kitchen said, I can’t get Bailey McCarthy’s kitchen out of my head. It’s fairly easy to see why she can’t–cause that is kelly and it’s high gloss. McCarthy’s kitchen was featured in Southern Living.

Kelly Green Kitchen Cabinets


Another designer who chose to go green in her own kitchen is Erika Powell from Urban Grace. Erika had her cabinets painted a couple of years ago. I wonder if Erika considered painting the open shelving white? We really love the selection of a more subtle sage hue. It’s decidedly more neutral, while still quite modern. Hence, it gets an A+ from us!

Sage Green Kitchen Cabinets by Urban Grace


Betsy and I are big fans of CA designer Kishani Perera. Like the McCarthy design above, the Kelly Green choice seen here is also pretty freakin’ bold. Go big, Kishani!

Kelly Green Kitchen Cabinets by Kishani Perera

Another option? You could go more on the camo / Army green side of green. We whole heartedly support this idea, since army green everything is pretty good in our books lately.

Army Green Kitchen Cabinets


Of all the green kitchen cabinets that I found, this is my favorite. The suspended shelves with those cable brackets are very cool. And how about that beam? What would you call this color? A muted Pesto? Olive?

Sage Green Kitchen Cabinets

The hue looks great with brass and gold metal finishes, that is for certain. This mix is so lovely with the nice organic wood tones too!

Hunter Green Kitchen Cabinets

Here we find a green on the more neutral side of things. The ideas is still pretty pretty sweet in celery. I have noticed that most of these are best paired with white uppers and a classic subway tile. It sets a nice stage for statement lighting.

Celery Green Kitchen Cabinets

Ooh, now this looks like pesto and it pairs really nicely with a toned creamy beige up top. Just look at all that carefully planned kitchenware in those cabinets.

Pesto Green Kitchen Cabinets

Since we can’t seem to get enough of green kitchen cabinets, here is one more with a sage on top and bottom, just because it looks so great on these tall cabinets.

Tall Green Kitchen Cabinets

So what do you think? Seems like we are totally into it. Are you prepared to take an official position on green kitchen cabinets? 

If so write to us…in the comments. Most of all, we want to hear your favorite hues, the best hardware finishes and how you’d apply this look to your dream kitchen!


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Spring Hill Kitchen: Inspiration

I’m starting a new project; the Spring Hill Kitchen project. I’ll be helping the client with remodeling and adding some character to a little house that’s only about ten years old.

Important things to know about the client –

  • likes to stay organized and tidy
  • not afraid of DIY projects, taking on parts of the project to cut costs
  • enjoys cooking & baking (a good kitchen is kind of important)
  • likes the farmhouse/industrial style

The lady of the house is ready to kiss her honey oak cabinets, black appliances and popcorn ceiling goodbye. Also-there’s no love lost over the laminate countertops and electric range. Builder grade kitchen be gone.

It’s time to press the classic white kitchen in to service (when is it not time?) with max storage, a banquette and some cottage style spernkled on top.

Let’s see what we’re working with,

Kristan kitchen before


This is just the start of things that we’d like to change,

kristan dining before marked


After having a conversation with the client about the key changes and shaping the wish list for the space, we narrowed it down to these;

  • removal of linoleum & carpet in select areas of the house, replace with hardwood
  • smooth ceilings
  • level out raised bar @ sink
  • new paint
  • mount/wire TV in wall in living area
  • new kitchen
  • switch to gas range


In addition to the changes above, I’d suggest the following;

  • adding a banquette
  • adding additional lighting in kitchen for multiple levels of light
  • replacing solid panel door with more glass to allow more natural light in
  • purchase new stainless steel appliances
  • add free-standing or built-in bookcase in living area
  • plank ceiling limited only to kitchen/living area


Here are the inspirational images that we’ll be working from that we agree on,

Planked ceiling, stacked cabinets, metal stools, banquette w/rectangular table–these are all things we’re focusing on in this image,

kristan inspire

Yes to soapstone or a good substitute, glass cabinets on either side of range,

kristan inspire2


If we don’t want to just dot our ceiling with 4″ recessed can lights we can always get a little more creative and put a sconce on either side of the range over some open shelving. I also like the narrow cabinets with two small drawers on the bottom, close at hand storing the spices you need. I also like how they made a tight turn with open shelving.

kristan inspire6

There are a lot of budget-friendly things happening here, IKEA faucet (with no sprayer), Home Depot subway tile that I’ve used many times, RH hardware, relatively inexpensive stainless steel appliances–all of this yields a really nice looking kitchen. I also like how the reclaimed wood shelving breaks up the white party for a minute, so far the client doesn’t like the reclaimed shelves.

kristan inspire5


I think everyone involved likes the industrial metal pendants and the square, shaker-style range hood. I also always think cabinet brackets are a beautiful detail but the client could skip those.

kristan inspire4

We’re looking at a chalkboard element here which will incorporate somewhere in the space. We’re also liking the traditional cabinets on either side of the stainless range hood.

kristan inspire3


The road map is beginning to come together for the project. The next step is to begin designing and creating a cabinet layout for the kitchen.

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Lamps in the Kitchen

This post is written mostly for my lovely, patient and gentle mother-in-law. My in-laws recently moved in to a new home and they have an abundance of counter space in their kitchen, including a long bar section of the counter that separates the kitchen from the living area where they line their grandchildren up to eat when they visit.

All of these counters and a straight line of cabinetry make for a lot of straight lines. I’ve suggested that she place a pair of lamps on each end of the bar. It creates an extra level of lighting (ambient) and it breaks that long bar up by varying height and giving it more dimension.  To illustrate my point I offer you these images,

I’m leading off with one of the most well-known examples, Ina Garten’s kitchen,

lamps on bar2



lamps on bar5



lamps on bar6

I know you love the kitchen below, traditional warm furnishings mixed with a lot of white and a simple striped rug–go on say you don’t,

lamps on bar1


lamps on bar3


elle decor, Daily, montana, big sky, yellowstone


lamps on bar4


lamps on bar8

All images via Pinterest

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A Chairish Chair Challenge

Decorating tips for accent chairs a chairish challenge by the estate of things

We love a lot of layer and texture in our homes. Adding a vintage piece as an accent chair is a great trick to achieve this. It creates warmth, depth and interest to an overall room scheme. If you are seeking a casual and eclectic aesthetic, one thing to keep in mind is the mix! This maximalist approach requires mastering a combination of complimentary colors, textures and styles from multiple eras. You don’t want to lean too mid-century by placing all large pieces from the same era into one room, but a vintage accent piece is a step in the right direction!

Practice mixing up eras and styles by selecting a traditional if not timeless anchor in your sofa, then layer on a more brilliant selection with your side chairs and accessories. Don’t forget to pull in some organic textures by selecting woods and grasses, and you don’t have to shy away from color either. If it feels overwhelming, just have a look at how we’ve done it here, as each of us were challenged to design around a Chairish accent chair.

Sarah says:

I don’t live in CA but I love a SoCal look that is modern, bohemian, eclectic and laid back. Achieving SoCal cool is my objective here.

Chairish Room

Sources: Jaxon Sofa I Chairish Accent Chair I Table Lamp I Flower photograph I Accent Table I Coffee Table I Mirror I Seagrass Cube
Block print pillow I Striped pillow I Mudcloth pillow I Rug I  Floor Lamp I Chair I Abstract Painting

Betsy says:

If taking advice from Billy Baldwin, which we all should, his suggestion is that your large pieces of furniture sit quietly permanent, while your floating chairs are free to be brilliant. With this design board, I took the nod, (well – assuming that a light pink sofa is “quietly permanent”) and I paired it with some candy colored accessories. The overall on-trend indigo theme keeps the looked pulled together, and all of that colorful garnish gives off an eclectic warmth. Using a disciplined color palette creates a cohesive design while mixing pieces and patterns that span time and culture.

The Estate of Things Chairish Chair Challenge pick by Betsy

Sources: Chairish Accent Chair  I  Embroidered Pouf  I  Kilim Cubes  I  Macrame Wall Hanging  I
Over-dyed Rug  I  Custom Sofa by Jaxon Home  I   Grass Rug  I  Safavieh Lamp  I  Selamat Coffee Table  I  Light Fixture  I  Indigo Pillows



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Recessed Lights No More

For a while now I’ve been thinking very seriously about this whole not using recessed can lighting in kitchens and baths. Some designers utilize it with more frequency. I’d like to attempt it but the right opportunity hasn’t presented itself yet.

Here’s a little exercise–go in to your kitchen, if you have recessed lighting in the ceiling, imagine they are all small flushmount fixtures.

It is in the numbers and the scale but the trickiest part I think is getting all of those smaller fixtures to make sense with pendants over an island. Things could get busy in a hurry.

Have you put any consideration in to this course of action?
light Gambrel
Really simple enameled base with a retro bulb,
light edison bulb
light robin bell kitchen
pendant heavy in a beautiful white kitchen,
light pendants2
Food 52 apartment kitchen reno on a budget,
light food 52
light CA ranch
light galley
light bilhuber
light scheerer bath
light pendants
light o'brien
light mark sikes
light this is 40 set
all images via Pinterest

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Trends: Patterned Tile

Have you ever demo’d any of those 80s or 90s patterned backsplashes and tiled countertops?

Patterned tile is coming on, but it’s not the ivy borders of the early 1990s. The mosaic tiles installed now are most likely imported and have a Moroccan or Mediterranean lean. Patterned tile appeared on my radar as I began gathering inspiration for a small kitchen remodel we are planning for a friend. See the beginnings of that project on the Pinterest board.

I was cruising through Domino and saw the revisit of this kitchen,

domino kitchen

marrakesh tile

Marrakesh Imports

And that pretty much got the wheels turning and I quickly found my images of this kitchen initially featured in Cottage Living and revisited by Design Sponge. The whole house tour there is a treat, I recommend checking it out. This is by far my favorite application of patterned tile as a kitchen backsplash,

Condo 353

Ann Sacks is showing off her patterned collection in ads running in our favorite home mags and then patterned tile recently showed up on my blog feed in Isuwannee’s Friday Chat. A Mosaic floor tile takes front and center on the cover of the May 2014 issue of Country Living,

country living cover

Villa Lagoon Tile

So I feel like the point is made here, clearly folks—it’s popping.

Scheerer kitchen2

Scheerer kitchen

bath floor

Scheerer nook

moroccan tile etsy


domino kitchen2

purple backsplash

Sikes bath

domaine kitchen

AT backsplash

all images via Pinterest



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Dining Room or Library?

Couldn’t it be both—a dining room and a library? I say, uh-yeayer.

I really, really like this concept. It feels like a warmer space among those books, much more conversational, made for hang out time. And in a smaller home like mine for instance, combined spaces only makes the best of sense.

DR Elsi

DR Sleisen

DR ceiling shelves

DR Dunham


DR white2

DR gray

DR white

DR green chairsDR giacometti

DR kleinberg

DR Maine

 all images via Pinterest

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a Quick Bath Upgrade

Before I officially listed my previous home for sale one of the things on the punch list was to give the master bath a quick upgrade without remodeling the entire thing. Out of necessity we had the entire shower re-tiled months before. The whole story about the mystery leak is here.

I previously posted the before of this bathroom and talked about the plans I had for the upgrade. I needed a fix that stayed consistent with the overall style of the house and a look that would be pleasing to most. Here’s what I set out to do with this quick fix-up:

  • upgrade cabinetry
  • replace existing mirror with 2 framed mirrors
  • eliminate recessed lighting and replace with sconces
  • paint walls & ceiling
  • replace window
  • install new hardware
  • install new vent fan

The cabinets were clearly the biggest eye sore in the room. They were vinyl coated, particle board cabinets with flat fronts. Some of the vinyl veneer was pealing away revealing the particle board.




We needed new lighting, some new jewelry (hardware) and to make the biggest impact we needed to tweak the cabinets and replace the dated mirror. Clearly I’m stoked about taking photos of myself at 7:00 am and likely the Crossfit workout!


sarah master bath before2

To avoid ripping all of the cabinetry out and everything with that I decided that the most cost effective and attractive way to go would be to have the Quality Cabinet Co. fabricate new drawer fronts and new cabinet doors and install them on the existing cabinet frame. After measurements were taken the building commenced and this is what we ended up with,

CT bath before


The next big element to tackle on the list was the very ugly and huge frame-less mirror that was glued to the wall. The regular carpentry crew came over to remove the mirror and remove the recessed lighting and patch those holes. The electrician followed closely on their heels to rough in for the sconces. I had our regular painters do the ceiling for me because I like to avoid holding things over my head for a sustained amount of time whenever possible and then I painted the trim and walls myself with Benjamin Moore’s Dove Wing.

dove wingSconces are the Steiner from Pottery Barn which are really substantial fixtures for the price but unfortunately are no longer available. All  hardware including the pulls, knobs and towel rings are from Lowe’s.

And here’s the result,

CT bath

I think it turned out great without spending 10K. Here are some suggested things you can do to get a quick upgrade in your bath,

CT shower list




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Rachel Bilson’s Home in Lonny

Sarah and I were having a little texty chat about blending the masculine and the feminine today, when she pointed me to this Lonny feature of Rachel Bilson’s home. I love it when Sarah recommends that I look up a specific design. It’s like getting a music recommendation from KCRW’s Anne Litt, or having the Pope pray for your healing. It just doesn’t get much more spot on.

So, she laid this link on me, and the choir sang, lights all that.

Rachel Bilson in LonnyIt’s that BLUE VELVET couch that I haven’t been able to shut up in my head. She even suggested that I place my parsons table up in the window like that along w/ some lamps, which is a really good idea if we had the space. My room is too narrow for dreams like that.

Oh, and Heffe… look. No window treatments. I wonder if she and her dude (Hayden Christensen) make out on the couch for the neighbors to see?



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