We started on this challenge a few days before we moved into this home, our first home, which is obviously huge for us as we waited a long time and overcome many obstacles, mainly infertility, to be able to do this for our growing family. To say its been a whirlwind is an understatement especially being in my third trimester, where hormones can send you into a tailspin about just anything including a chip in something you just painted. Or sanding a door thru tears cause you couldn’t attend your best friends wedding in Mexico. But I think the fact the plan all along was working with what we have helped heavily, no contractors in and out as we settle, no dust covers or toxic smells and no one coming to us for more money. There were some things I knew we couldn’t afford to change from the start, like the countertops, the backsplash, the floors , etc. Instead I just wanted this space to feel lighter, brighter and more us. It had to be a mix of vintage charm with modern touches because that is who we are. Even if all my plans didn’t work out perfectly, like being able to darken the floors, we are still so proud and wowed when we walk into this long narrow space. And I have a work space now, which is this breakfast nook with a storage bench to stash my computer and things at the end of the day before we enjoy dinner as a family. And what we did accomplish is still a great deal for our first major DIY project and I am very proud of us.
Repainting the cabinets, taking half the uppers down and adding new hardware was the perfect place to start. For this part I hired a friend to help which was a life saver (Thanks Charlie). It instantly gave this space a new feel of being lighter, airier and of the times vs circa 2000. The cabinet latches and antique style pulls from the House of Antique Hardware have been a game changer and I love the look they give the space making it feel more old world and classic. I actually can’t wait to see the brass age and am already contemplating how to speed up that process, but for now enjoying that gold sparkle. One other small hardware adjustments was adding a deco style switch plate and well now of course I want these EVERYWHERE! If you can only do two things to refresh your space paint and new hardware would be my suggestion, and don’t overlook places like your light switches as a way to elevate the space.
Now that we got rid of the dark cabinets it was time to bring in some contrast but in the right way, to me contrast can really make a space. Some call for all dark or all light but I usually settle on a light neutral palette with a few dark contrasts that really add definition. So I painted all the window casings black, and that has made a HUGE difference. It was actually easier than I thought, but it does chip easily so I plan to attempt to seal them sooner than later, not sure I would use it on windows I open and close often but we have a screen door we use instead in this space. After that we put the spray gun to the test doing 4 interior doors in an olive I am pretty much obsessed with. spray gun was the best $40 investment by far. The definition these changes gave this space is beyond, it may be my favorite element. We used the same color on the bench base and it ties it in so well. My biggest suggestion when it comes to paint is test 3. Yes, at least 3, spending the extra money and time now can make a HUGE difference. I thought I would be using the very hot right now Sherwin Williams Pewter Green, I’ve seen it in at least 2 ORC’s and tons of designers kitchens. After a test it was not at all what I wanted. And now I know it could have been no other color than Rosemary for me!
Now some of the easiest pieces to source were this vintage dining table that extends to 141," that is like fitting 14 people! Is that insane or what and we scored it for under $200 but it is worth at least a couple thousand more if it were in pristine condition. One thing that was overlooked about this table including by the vendor and my husband & friend who picked it up was that it had brass details on the legs. I knew that some shiny vintage brass was hiding under years of grime as soon as I got my fingers on it, and all it takes is a quick shine with Brasso to pull it back out again. When vintage shopping really feel anything that looks a little different from the wood. Its something that often goes unnoticed but these smaller details can make a piece. I knew I wanted to pair it with black chairs. Once the windows went black its like a drug, I needed more of it. Classic style but with a modern twist was exactly what I was hoping to find and I did with these babies from Eclectic Goods. They sit higher than most chairs (19”) making them a great choice for families and they have a wide leg base so I’m not worried about my son tipping them in his booster seat trying to wiggle away. To me these were important things and of course when it comes to black you need easy to clean and these fit the bill there too! The last black accent was using a leather rug since I couldn’t find an easy way to darken the floors and I plan to add a vintage runner in the kitchen eventually too. I still don’t love the color of the floors but its effect is very much minimized by the awesome texture and focal point this rug brings.
The biggest project of all was building a bench. This is where my handy husband who works way too hard and barely had the time came in. Instead he made the time and I tear up thinking about watching him work on my design that was given to him in a moodboard with minimal instructions and yet he brought it to life. Just like my late father did when I wanted a play house or cupboard for my dolls , etc. He really nailed it. Basically I wanted a long bench with storage that would have this beautiful Ekena Millwork moulding wrapped on the outside to give it a pop, and it really makes this bench unique, you can find it on amazon too. Plus a hanging cushion was on my wish list for so long now. My husband deals with numbers on a day to day basis. So what I couldn’t achieve in laying out exactly how to build he figured out pretty quickly and after several trips to home depot and a few weekends brought in this baby and it was magic! Can we talk about these cushions though?! I AM DEAD. They are everything I pictured and more. I gave Tonic Living my specs after deciding on this high performance fabric of theirs and a month later these custom cushions arrived. They are impeccable. The details and the way the lines match up etc has blown my mind. They give the space this masculine feel to counter the more feminine lines of the table and to me it is the perfect marriage, plus they are really comfortable which is what I needed for an office / dining space. If you can’t do an entire custom built bench for your nook consider checking out an Ikea hack and then adding these cushions!
Another piece of the puzzle that has made the space and left us blown away were these custom open shelves from Walnut Woodworks. If you follow me on Instagram you know I love small shops and brands with a story or purpose, like the husband & wife team of Walnut Woodworks which specializes in butcher block counters and shelving. I gave them the measurements and they crafted these STUNNING shelves. Now I love the light wood trend. Some bleached oak or wide plank light flooring does make me drool. But like anything even wood becomes a trend. Think about how many MCM pieces of furniture get passed up not due to the design but because the wood is too “orangey or red," I hear this from clients all the time. Or that dark brown stain of the 90’s, good riddance there. But walnut, never, it's timeless. It combines with light or dark, color or neutral, and as far as wood goes its a good strong one. I hadn’t even considered any other choice and I am so glad I didn’t, the grain on these babies is truly magnificent in person. Now to the installation. Word to the wise plan ahead. I had zero clue where the studs where in this wall, or that our wall is actually not level or flat! For that reason I am so glad I made them shorter than the actual space it gave is some wiggle room. Ideally you hit has many studs as you can. Each shelve had two brackets and each bracket had 4 points of attachment. Luckily the screw holes hit studs on at least 3 points across the entire shelf. I’d obviously feel better if it were more, these weigh about 50 pounds each. However that isn’t always possible and for that some wise man invented Wing Its! My husband researched and found these and I feel much better about these beautiful shelves staying right where they are having used these. There are many DIY versions on other blogs. But personally I think if you can swing adding some ones that are professionally done you won’t regret it. I priced out a few companies when reaching out to collabs and Walnut Woodworks was also the most reasonable, they do also do the brackets only should you want to DIY it. For styling them I collected a mix of vintage and new, which is usually my go to. I was originally planning to keep practical kitchen items on them but guess what, I already have an empty drawer and an entire cabinet left to use. So we really don’t miss those upper cabinets at all and now I have shelves to style and restyle for days! I love the way they look right here, however. What I need to work on is my countertop styling skills, those haven’t really been excersized enough and now its time to work that muscle.
There is of course one missing piece to this puzzle. It wouldn’t be my home without a touch of Mid Century Modern and that is where the Alchemy Pendant came in. I have been a long time admirer of the counterbalance MCM fixtures particularly of Florian Schluz, so when I came across this one from Hudson Valley Lightings, Troy Lighting brand, I knew it was the one! It’s a show piece. It is the perfect cherry on the top. It’s been a professional dream to work with Hudson Valley Lighting. I am from the Hudson Valley it has to be said, so there is some sentimentality there but I just love how they do it all from Modern Tradtional to Trendy. We are still waiting for these sconces, which will bring it up even another notch. We are eventually going to move the table in and swag it with a custom fitting to make it closer to how the original style is but both my husband and I swoon over this piece. And bonus is the light is perfectly cast, nice and warm without any harshness. If you do one thing in your dining space change your lighting. It makes all the difference. This is a place I say don’t go cheap. You can get knock off chairs, target accents, Home Depot paint etc, but here is the place to make more of an investment because good lighting is its own statement art. Trust me.
It's a wrap on my first ORC. Truth be told I still have some things to do mainly involving sealing and adding a hanging herb garden to the left of the sink but I can’t wait to plan my first dinner party. Last year we hosted Christmas Eve and had to bring all the food over to our neighbors (whose home we were house/ cat sitting) to accommodate the guests we had. This year we just add some leaves and there is always room for one more! Now I have to go catch up on everyone else's reveals. Check out the other guests and the amazing featured designers as well! And last but not least a HUGE THANK YOU to all the amazing brands who I had the privilege to work with and for whom with out this refresh would not have been possible.
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