The kitchen and dining room haven’t been kept a secret like the rest of the house (which we are revealing soon), but I still have some new things to show you. Sometimes I wonder if I was that kid in 2nd grade who brought the same dried sea horse in a jar for “show and tell” every month with a slightly different lid on top. When I like a room or shot, I just feel the compulsion to show you it, slightly different each time. First, we shot the kitchen for the Frigidiare partnership, and then the dining room with Parachute. Meanwhile Real Simple wanted to take their own photos, styled differently and I certainly wasn’t going to argue. It gave me a reason to hang some new art, style out the shelves and buy a delicious looking pie that my kids were not allowed to eat for 3 days till we were done shooting – when it was too gross to then actually consume. My job both spoils and tortures my children. Don’t feel sorry for them. They got a a castle, and two perfectly styled rooms of which they have no idea how hard I worked. Yay for weird (but fun) careers 🙂
Now for the “reveals”.
The styling for this shoot wasn’t that much different than we shot in December and yet I like it a lot more. We switched out the stools, brought in some other dishes in the cabinets, added some art and of course some lifestyle-mafia foods (pies, cherries, cut grapefruits, etc). Here’s what it looked like when we first shot it:
Let’s chat Stool-gate, 2016. Listen, I liked those stools a lot from DWR, but many of you thought they weren’t the right vibe and that wood would be better. I didn’t disagree but I couldn’t find any stools that I loved as much (including the wood-toned version of those stools). I didn’t want dark. I didn’t want square. I wanted some white. It was hard. One day Mel came to me and said ‘I found your stools’. She was right and now that I have these new stools from Hedgehouse. I do think these fit the vibe more (and we moved those other stools up to the fixer upper). They are really heavy (which is great for the kids) have a classic schoolhouse vibe, but are really modern and fresh as well. The light wood pops off the counter more than the white did and yet the white helps it feel light (which is what I liked about the other stools). Plus the tone of the wood is beautiful and the powder coated metal cleans up really nicely. I even love how the black accents work with the black accents in the kitchen. It was meant to be. (FYI they come in different wood tones and many different powder coated metal colors).
Real Simple wanted to take a couple “cover tries” which is where an editor has an idea for a photo for the cover and they shoot it and show it to the Editor in Chief in hopes of it landing the cover. When we first took this shot I thought it was a weird angle, but then they told me that it would have a lot of negative space for copy (like the green island and windows) and I saw it. And now I really love this shot, regardless of the space for copy. Seeing the kitchen in a new way from a new angle feels fresh and fun. (Yes, we photoshopped out the bright white outlets from the island that we had to put in for code reasons. My photoshopping rule is, IF they could be somewhere else we take them out. We don’t remove cords from lamps in the middle of the room anymore, but if the cord could be going down the leg of the table and under the rug, even if it’s not happening in that room, then we do… does that make sense? It’s just a white lie to help the photo look more beautiful. Forgive us).
Then they took this cover try:
Every magazine does research on what their readers like and Real Simple’s readers apparently like grapefruits and canisters (p.s. they do not like kumquats which at first I found hilarious but then I was like… they are kinda pretentious and not particularly tasty – despite having 2 trees in our backyard). So for our cover try we gave them just that. They brought in those canisters which I like, but they aren’t 100% my style (a bit too bright and not quite hand-made enough for me), but admittedly they look great in this shot and tie in all the lighter teal Target dinnerware in the cabinets.
By the way the “canister and grapefruit’ shot did not make it on the cover of the September issue. As I picked up the August issue I saw a set of canisters in a kitchen and I knew our cover try hadn’t succeeded, but it was so fun to be part of the process and always interesting to know what happens inside the printed editorial world. I’d say for a ‘grapefruit and canister shot’ we nailed it.
Please note the patina on all the unlacquered brass – ugh, it’s just so pretty. Is it annoying to care for? A bit, but it’s exactly what I want it to look like, so I am so happy with it.
I have normal regrets in this house, but very few in the kitchen. The tile, the faucets, the roman shades, the marble countertops, the cabinetry, the grills on the cabinets, the beadboard in the cabinets, the flooring… I love them all. The honed marble is aging beautifully and many of you were worried about dust/grime on our dinnerware in the cabinets and I’m here to tell you that there hasn’t been any. This could possibly be because we cook 1-2 times a week so there is very little grease or smoke, but so far so good (it’s been 8 months).
We styled out this corner better this time, probably because the first time around I had only 1/2 a day after the construction ended in which to shoot. I bought those vintage English dog stamps at Round Top (with the mat included) for $6 each then had them framed for $22 at a local framer in simple brass frames. I was nervous to hang them into the cabinetry but at 10pm, after 2 glasses of wine, the night before the shoot but I insta-storied it and you guys voted that I should. Thanks, friends. Always good to know that I can count on you at 11pm, the night before a shoot to give me proper sober advice. (And, don’t worry, we used command hooks not nails)
That cake stand and cutting board are new from Threshold, the oil cruet was a splurge from Food52 and the blue dotted platter I’ve had forever. The salt pot and the vintage framed cow print were both from Nickey Kehoe and they were so expensive that my brain has not allowed my fingers to type the price of them. I was meant to just borrow them for the shoot and return them, but I fell in love and conveniently didn’t return them… then I saw it on my credit card bill …. Whoops. WRITE OFF. (For those of you who don’t know a ‘write off’ doesn’t mean free. A friend of mine recently told me about her write off and I had to explain to her that the car she was leasing was not free even if it was a write off, it was just deducted from the net profits and she would be taxed slightly less that year… she was unhappy with my vast accounting knowledge).
Here is a look at December versus June:
I wish these two images could have wrestling style matches. Clear winner, right? The December version feels a bit sparse, but when you pull back there was enough going on in the kitchen that as a whole it was certainly filled enough. But the June version really kicked Dec’s less perfectly styled rear. The art, the shades, the pie, the more curated perfect lifestyle of the olive oil + cows …. I want to be June pretty bad (lucky me).
That olive oil and garlic are still sitting there, by the way. They are vintage at this point. YUM. We did make a rosemary quiche with our fresh potted herb back there. Wait, I think that is like Anise or licorice or something weird. Fine we made anise quiche. The kids loved it and even offered to clean up the baking mess (of which there was very little as I’m very neat in the kitchen). We pulled spinach from the garden, I set aside an otherwise empty afternoon, donned a washed linen apron and thoughtfully created a dish full of hand churned butter, gluten free whole wheat, freshly harvested spinach and sprinkled in hilarious falsities of my life. Bull sh*t quiche!
That herb, whatever it was, died 9 days later, unused obviously. A life-span of which I was proud, actually. If there were a PETA for plants I would be covered in mud and dirt thrown by angry plant loving protesters at every red carpet event I attended. They would wear polyester shirts with ‘Plants are People, too’ scribbled in vegetable dye. I’d kinda want to have them over to teach me the ways of cooking vegan because I’m back at it and I forgot that you can’t just eat vegetables or you get HANGRY. Thus my irreverence in this post. Also I want a anise quiche. At least there is an egg in it.
Onto the dining room where no herbs were killed, however now that I see that plant in the corner doing so well I’m realizing how 3 months later it’s not nearly as happy as it was here… Here comes the mud…
We spend a lot of time there (unset, obviously) and I’m shocked I ever thought we would only eat at the island or outside. We thought this would be our family room with a sofa where the windows are and a tv on the opposite wall, room for kids to play in the middle. Hilariously we are now reconfiguring the house AGAIN to find a better place for the TV so we can turn that room into a proper play room. More on that later, but in case you are in the market for a TV right now, seriously don’t consider buying anything except this.
Back to this room. Remember the blog post I did about how I couldn’t decide on the perfect dining table/chair combo? Well, I did and I LOVE them.
Here’s the story: I found these chairs (above) on close-out from Shop-Candleabra. Sorry, they are discontuied by the wholesaler. The reason I love them is because they are upholstered (comfy) with arms (cozy) and yet super simple so they could work with my farm table and help modernize it without being like super modern. Oh and they are a great scale – not to small, not too clunky. Some big upholstered chairs are HUGE and many are too dinky. Originally they were beige but that was a problem mostly because my kids have spaghetti sauce literally shooting out of their fingers. Then I heard about Crypton Fabrics and even did the smoothie test on it on an insta-story (unsponsored). It came out immediately. This stuff is SUPER stain resistant, folks. Do they withstand every single thing that one or both of kids will purposefully smoosh into them? No. In retrospect I would have had slipcovered chairs or have them done in Crypton but a darker color. But they are the exact chairs that I wanted!! I’d say they are an 8 out of 10 on the stain resistant scale. If you have older kids or no kids or perfect kids and want upholstery in your kitchen (or anywhere) then Crypton is amazing. I’m still so glad we have the chairs we have, in the color/fabric we have them, I just wish that our kids weren’t quite so young and unaware of their disgusting paws. We actually have found that wiping down the dirt/food the next day or even a week later gets it out easier than when it’s fresh. I have no idea why. Most of you moms out there think that I’m still nuts and only saying that I still like them because I’ve committed myself to them, but I promise that they still look great despite the extra effort. I love sitting at our dining table for long dinners so it’s worth it to us.
For sofas/chairs/benches I will look no further than Crypton when I want linen. In fact I secretly regret not getting my sofa in my living room in it. Its navy so it’s fine, but Crypton just wipes up so easily and I want it everywhere.
We styled out the table to be casual, modern, warm and yet colorful. It’s a late summer, early fall and I definitely want to eat there. Who’s cooking??? SERIOUSLY?? WHERE IS MY ROSEMARY/ANISE QUICHE? I’ve got the apricots, jam and cheese covered, apparently.
My love of all things footed is highly showcased in this shot. The black footed apricot vessel (vintage) plus the footed almond bowl (The Foundry) and the footed vase (vintage) all show how much that personal trend will never die. It’s like Diane Keaton and white collared shirts – trends come and go, but that lady will always don menswear in the chicest way (not calling my footed-love chic, just consistent and enduring). In case you are new to the blog and wonder why I love footed things so much it’s because the ‘foot’ lifts the bowl off the table, thus creating a different layer and giving visual space between objects. Surfaces are flat, things lifted off the table give it visual movement that a stationary bowl or vessel can’t do. The curve of it is soft on the eye, without too much height or busyness.
Great. Now EVERYONE is going to buy every footed vessel before I do. It’s fine. Diane bounced back and reinvented, and stayed the course. As will I.
This shot (above) was another cover try and was the opener of the story. It hadn’t occurred to me to shoot the table straight down the line, into the window but I LOVE this shot. It really brings you into the table. I wrote about it before but that pleated hanging pendant is so perfect here. The scale (medium) style (classic but modern), finish (light but with black rod) and function (a great diffuser on the bottom) makes it quite perfect for us. Also those curtains are also by Calico and add so much warmth and texture to the room (especially in the winter when this room felt cold without them).
Last but not least is a personal favorite of mine – not this particular room/shot but where you get to see how the house flows. I love these kinds of shots. As you know magazines can’t run every single angle and shot from a house, and often they focus on vignettes rather than giving too much information where the shot get distorted or busy. Well, we blogs can post as many photos as we want and I personally love the super pulled back shots that really shows how the room ‘works’.
Here you can see how the dining room flows into the living room, with both opening up to the patio. This is one that we took the next day while the house was still styled (thus the diahlias are almost dead – more mud on dress!! See previous plant killing jokes for reference). For this shot we are standing in the kitchen with the TV room through the hallway on the left. The first story of the house is a circle, basically – of which our kids run around like a track. I love standing in the kitchen seeing the patio (through the french doors) the backyard (window on the right, shown above), dining room and living room. If you are a new builder or you are renovating your house, think about this – opening up a house isn’t about making it a completely open concept home, with no ‘rooms’. It’s about visual flow and creating depth which draws you into other rooms as well as makes the house feel bigger. Blocking off rooms completely is dated, but opening up everything isn’t always the best answer. You want different moods for different spaces and if it’s one shared space then you can’t really do that. So think about the ‘view’ from one room to another, not just making it one big room. Widen doorways, add hanging shelves instead of uppers, divide via open shelving or 1/2 height pony walls with built-in shelves. And when possible add as much natural light as possible. IF you are in the middle of a renovation ask yourself – could there be more light in this space? And if so, then please match the style of the windows to the style of your home (aka if you are renovating a 1923 Victorian think before you install vinyl windows).
Wow. A lot of weird rants and asides in this post. Must be the fact that I’m back to yoga and meditated for the first time yesterday. Or all those vegetables 🙂
A huge thanks again to Real Simple for featuring our house. We will be showing the rest of the rooms, but if you want a sneak peek into it and to see more of a tour then pick up the September issue and head over to RealSimple.com for more photos.
Thanks for reading and if you are into my kitchen/dining room and curious where everything is from, then here you go:
1. Sconce | 2. Handmade Subway Tile | 3. White Oak Herringbone Flooring | 4. Pendant (similar) | 5. Unlacquered Brass Drawer Pulls | 6. Cow Print | 7. Stool | 8. Unlacquered Brass Faucet (Hot Water Dispenser) | 9. Pot Filler | 10. Apron Front Sink | 11. Tall White Pitcher (similar) | 12. Oval Cobalt Plate | 13. Salad Servers | 14. Dutch Oven | 15. Wood Cutting Board | 16. Marble & Wood Tray | 17. Salt Cellar (similar) | 18. Glass & Brass Vessel | 19. Teal Dinerware | 20. Paint Colors: Farrow & Ball (Green Smoke, Strong White & Blackened) | 21. Marble & Wood Cake Stand | 22. Ceramic Vase (similar) | 23. Rustic Cutting Board (similar) | 24. Blue & White Stripe Towel | 25. Library Cabinet | 26. Painting (similar) | 27. Celadon Vase (similar) | 28. Candlestick Holder (similar) | 29. Curtains (custom) | 30. Drum Pendant | 31. White Pedestal Bowl (similar) | 32. Black Pedestal Bowl (similar) | 33. Round Serving Board | 34. White Dinner Plate | 35. Gold Flatware | 36. Wood Bowls (similar) | 37. Wine Glass | 38. Blue Tumbler | 39. Table Runner | 40. Blue Striped Napkins | 41. Rustic Table (vintage) | 42. Chair Fabric (Color: Cloud) | 43. Dining Chair (similar)
I am curious how you feel about the overall styling difference (we didn’t take any other pulled back or vignette shots of the kitchen in June). I know that many of you are kinda anti-“things looking too perfect”, but they are both pretty good. I prefer June because the scale of everything feels better – the cutting board in the back draws your eye there and the grapefruits don’t block as much in the foreground. The flowers in June do block the beautiful faucet, but I didn’t notice it til I compared it with December.
But Sara, for instance likes December more because it has less stuff and feels more real (because it was). Part of me knows I’m not a ‘hyndrangea/grapefruit/perfect-looking-pie’ kinda lady but then a lot of me wants to be that lady so I can’t help be attracted to that one more.
So you choose- December styling or June???
In case you want more on the whole process of the kitchen and dining check out: Our Main Floor Demo Plan, Our New Kitchen Design Plan, The REVEAL of Our Modern English Country Kitchen, Dining Room Update with A Lot of Questions, An Update on My Dining Room, Ask the Audience: Chairs to go with My New Dining Table, Setting The Table with Parachute’s New Table Linens
***Photos by Tessa Neustadt