30 June 2011

Happy Holiday.

Well, folks--Maple and I are venturing off on a little weekend escapade to the mountains of West Virginia to watch Maple's college friend walk down the aisle. We're headed out this afternoon, with an overnight rendezvous in Charlotte, where we'll spend a few inevitable hours in Ikea (outfitting my office and picking up a few accessories for current interior projects) before checking out the city with our good friends. This morning's been a whirlwind: I've already mowed the lawn, watered the garden, worked on my maters, had the oil changed, run through the grocery, vacuumed for our oh-so-generous house and Poppy sitting friends...and I've yet to pack. Off to do so!
Hope it's extra safe and full of good food and very best times with your loved ones.
Mine will be!

P.S. Don't you just love the colors in the retro mag cover above? I'd say a room could certainly be contrived around this piece of art!
 Inspiration is everywhere :)

29 June 2011

Gold gild.

Quite possibly my favorite accompaniment to Charleston's balmy summers? Afternoon thundershowers. My work day is winding down, and Maple and I are gearing up for a weekend getaway, but for the moment I'm posted up on the couch, in front of our big, partially open picture window, coffee in hand (of course), watching the rain pour down on my happy front yard flowers...soaking this drizzly weather up as much as they are.

I should be taking care of looming chores...like...packing...but I couldn't help but take advantage of this couch-calling rainstorm. Anyway, here's a peek into what's been inspiring me and my design outputs as of late...I'll give you a hint: it's shiny, ultra-chic, reminiscent of an awesome, vintage era, and working it's way into just about every room in our house...and my client's (don't worry, Williams--not you).

Gold casserole dish? Brilliant addition to any dinner party.

Those hammered gold studs are calling my name....

Shiny-clad calling cards? I say yes.

I'll forgive the fact that it's Martha's kitchen that dons gold-plated cabinet hardware...it's amazing.

This gold-hued, geometric lamp would be stunning on my (somewhat imaginary) bedroom dresser. Furniture collecting takes time, right? Yes--if you're broke.

Instant art: planning to outfit a bare wall with marbled gold paper. My office, perhaps? Somehow I don't think that would fly with my Maple anywhere else...


Alright, friends.
Back to the rain.

28 June 2011

Strawberry muffin recipe

Per reader request, below is my highly-adored, simple strawberry muffin recipe that I used to swoon our new neighbors into thinking we really aren't all that bad. Having a bad day? Hoping to spread some good cheer? I suggest you make these:

{photo via sipsandspoonfuls.com}

1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Oil an 8 cup muffin tin, or use paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine oil, milk, and egg. Beat lightly. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Toss in chopped strawberries and stir to coat with flour. Pour in milk mixture and stir together.

Fill muffin cups. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until the tops bounce back from the touch. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans.


Totally obsessing over the casual, eclectic style manifested in Scout Designs' interiors. TradHome named them one of their top 20 up and coming U.S. designers to keep your eye on, and after fervently studying their design repertoire and mirage of scouting photos, I couldn't help but envy their treasure-troving, antique-scouring lifestyle--not to mention their well-seasoned, multifarious design taste.


What do you think?
Worthy of TradHome's generous nomination?
I certianly admire their panache for well-styled interiors.

23 June 2011


I like having a garden :)

20 June 2011

Hello, Monday.

It's you again. I can't entirely say that I missed you, but that's alright...my Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were filled with date night, good food, good friends, surf, sand, and the arrival of visiting family. So, I guess I'm ready to conquer you and the work that you bring.

And here's a little gray inspiration to help make your Monday (and mine) a little brighter :)

I think I need that coffee cup. Okay, I pretty  much just want that coffee cup.


13 June 2011

Sunday funday.

Yesterday was really the epitome of what a Southern Sunday should be: morning church service that involved bagels, coffee, and chatting with friends; a Charlestonian brunch with old, Kentucky college friends on historic King Street; window shopping on our walk to the car, including a drop-in at Blue Bicycle Books, which we walked out of with three beloved purchases; an afternoon nap followed by an Italian-roast espresso (the grounds hailing all the way from NYC); a bikeride to a neighborhood seafood shop, followed by a ride in the opposite direction, through hidden marshland, to the neighborhood grocery; and, to top it all off, a simple, healthy, and exquisite homemade meal accompanied with a glass of wine and ample couch time.

 Please excuse Maple's shirt, messy hair, and overloaded backback :)

What a really good meal should absolutely leave behind: the prettiest array of scraps.

 The most simple, colorful, flavor-filled dish: three parsnips, a bunch of carrots, and a bunch of radishes, all sliced in half or quartered. Drizzle with olive oil, and pour this mixture on top: 1/4 cup bourbon, 1/4 cup water, 2 teaspoons brown sugar. Throw in about 8 cloves of garlic, smashed, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 400 until veggies are soft, but haven't entirely lost their color or crispness.

 Save the greens from the radishes--they make the perfect, plush bed to bake salmon atop. We did just that, brushing the salmon with olive oil, sprinkling with a bit of salt and pepper, and topping it off with sliced lemons. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until salmon begins to turn white. 

And here you have it, our Sunday Supper: all dished up and ready to be devoured. We did just that, and it really was the perfect melding of flavor, texture, and health. Oh, and see that heap of brown rice and peas? Equally delicous and easy: cook 1 cup of brown rice according to package directions and set aside. Saute one minced shallot until begins to brown on the edges; add 2 cloves of garlic (minced) and the zest of 1/2 lemon and a cup of fresh or frozen peas. Add the cooked rice to the skillet, and leave on the heat until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper...and enjoy.

It really, absolutely, no doubt in my mind was a perfectly perfect Sunday.
Hope yours was enjoyed all the same.

10 June 2011

Almost: The Kitchen.

So, our kitchen has been quite the time (and money) consuming task as of late. If your recall, this is what it looked like when we bought the house (please excuse the working mess) :

It's very much the reason I fell in love with the house. It had the good bones...a terra cotta tile floor...huge windows that crank open...and space for our heirloom butcher block. And that's all that really mattered in my book. The rest I could work with. And that, my friends, is what we've been doing.

I actually really love the dated cabinetry (gasp...I know...a huge faux pas in today's design book). But here's the thing: they're custom; they extend all the way to the ceiling and are finished with crown molding; they're simple and plain; and someone painstakingly created them by hand, just for that kitchen, 50 years ago. I cherish those stories, and the time and effort that person put into their design. What I didn't cherish was their ultra-white paint job and that glaring black hardware. So Maple and I painted them this color by Sherwin Williams (who's always having major paint sales, by the way):

Yes, maybe it's a bit daring. But that's me...and my design style--always looking to break the norm. Life's too short to be boring, in my book at least. It's really the perfect concoction of gray and brown--just what I was seeking. It's warm, and inspiring, and disguises the imperfections and stains that are pretty much inevitable in our no-holds-barred cooking environment. Best of all? It melds perfectly with the tones of the countertop (which we so badly want to replace but must keep for a bit) and the orange tones in the terra cotta flooring. 

Here's a glimpse of the result, but please be forgiving. She's far from being done:

 See the exposed wood on the side of the slanted pantry? 
It, of course, was slathered in laminate and will soon be sanded and painted.

The new cabinet color doesn't perfectly suit the outdated stove. Instead it makes it pop. But that's ok for the time being.Just imagine in it's place a stainless, slide-in gas range. 
Someday...hopefully relatively soon.

Lots of sweat still to be shed, but she's getting there at least. See that miserable gray backsplash? It's vinyl paper. Sweet--or not at all. We're still taking that down, but of course it's not as simple as peeling it's misery away. There's laminate underneath, which extends behind the counters, so that's a chore in itself. Soon, though, that will all be painted white. And someday, when the budget allows, it will be marble, or something of the likes. Not only do the walls need work, but so do the facades of the cabinet. We've chosen the hardware, we simply need to find the time to install them all. The walls will get coated with a warmer shade of white that works with the existing tones, and the windows will be outfitted with simple roman shades that are in keeping with the plain cabinetry. I really wanted to work with the vintage charm of the kitchen instead of glossing it over and trying to pretend it's brand new. That's simply not my style.

Last, but quite far from being least--the dishwasher went out a few days ago. It's probably 10 years old, and a base model GE. Instead of replacing the pump and still loathing it's appearance and terrible washing and drying perfomance, we decided to replace it. Lowe's had this sleek, plain-front Whirlpool super duper on sale, and I scored a $600 dishwasher with three sprayers and an adjustable top rack for just over $400.  

And, while I was perusing the back-aisle of major deals....guess what else I spied:
This beauty, which a customer had special ordered and decided to return. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, except that it didn't suit that person's taste as well as they'd hoped. What was originally a $1400, 4-burner, slide-in gas range was marked down to $1053. And, in conversing with the sales guy, I talked him into marking it down 15% from that already-slashed price. I was ready. Maple was on board. We were going to take the plunge. After all, we'd allocated some funds to replace the miserable glass top we're currently stuck with. And then I felt selfish, because Maple wants a boat (although he does very much want a gas range, too). And we want to build our patio. And plant a few trees. And build an outdoor oven and grill. And buy window treatments. And my word, that checklist goes on and on. So I left her behind...which is so hard for me to do when I know she was pretty much the best deal of the century. But, I don't need her to be happy, and that's pretty much that.

Anyway, I thought it was time to give you a glimpse at the little bit of progress we've made in the house. It was hard for me to do; for some reason I'm entirely too reluctant to let people in on the imperfect state of our house. But it was time to get real...so I hope you've enjoyed :)

08 June 2011

Design Portfolio: Being Frank.

I recently had the pleasure of working with Fran, a brilliant/witty/well-versed client who's jet-setting around the world as a newly-trained flight attendant and, in between crossing those oceans, is exploring the bounds of her new city: NYC. Envious? I certainly am. She wanted a blog that reflects her warm, girly, vintage-loving personality. I quite like what we came up with :) Take a peek at her blog--Being Frank--it's worth the detour, and just as cute and clever as it sounds.

Happy reading.

06 June 2011

Summer. It's here.

Hello, long-lost friends. I'm beginning to think maybe you were a bit worried about me...like...I'd fallen into a pit, or something equally incapacitating (Parks and Rec watchers--you know what I mean). Life's actually had me pretty unbelievably busy these past few weeks: I made the giant/scary/exciting transition to being 100% self-employed (umm...what?!) and have been so incredibly blessed with a constant stream of work which = deadline after deadline. Fingers crossed it stays that way :) So, my apologies that blogging has been pushed to the back burner. Here goes my 42nd attempt to reviving Maple and Shade's regular scedule... :)

Summer's certainly set-in here in Charleston. And you know what? This year I think I'll embrace it. Shocking...I know...but no more wishing away that sweltering sun in high hopes for boots, scarves, and steamy cups of coffee. Maybe the fact that we now have central air has helped my outlook a bit, but, I've also come to the realization that in order to be a devout Charlestonian you pretty much have to worship summer's weather. Maple and I have made a pretty good start by conquering house-projects galore (ohh...home-ownership) and making batch after batch of summery strawberry muffins (duh)

Anyway, it's so fun settling into our new house. We've been homeowners for nearly three months now, and although progress has been a bit slow...it's also been steady. It's good to remind myself where we started, and how much more I'll appreciate the home we make for ourselves if it takes time, sweat, and maybe a few tears. 

Anyway, we've been knocking out some small-scale projects little by little...this trellis being one of them. Just look at this little gem my handsome Maple made me. There's a very bare wall outside our kitchen window, so, being the handy hubby that he is, Maple tacked together some individual pieces of lumber he found and attached them to the exterior wall (so much cheaper than pre-assembled trellises). We stained the wood black and planted some sweet-smelling confederate jasmine, which by next spring should have climbed the trellis with gorgeous white blooms. Can't wait :)

Mmm...now for those strawberry muffins...