Our New Kitchen reveal, plus we cook now

Most of you know that I don’t cook and topping my excuse list has always been that I’ve hated my kitchens and as a ‘visual person’ its just always bummed me out to be in there. They’ve always been rentals, and either tiny (in New York), run down (two houses ago), or both (our last house).

To prove my ‘ugly kitchen’ situation I give you exhibit A and B:

gross-kitchen

See?? You might be wondering what we ate then, right? Well it was a combo of take-out, going-out (pre-charlie) or most likely ‘making food’ which is normally a salad or a microwaveable meal. I’m not really a foodie (clearly), but Brian is very emotionally invested in EACH AND EVERY MEAL and literally every night from 7 – 7:30 is the ‘what are we going to do for dinner’ debate. I say, ‘I don’t really care, I’ll eat anything’ and then he spends the next 30 minutes torturing himself trying to figure out what he wants and debating the not so endless possibilities.  It’s literally groundhog day every night. Our biggest issue is that we never have food in the fridge and if we do, it doesn’t really create an easy meal – or one good enough to actually put effort into.

Anyway … Our new kitchen (that is not a rental) was pretty ugly but fairly doable (see the before photos and what the plan was here). We started cooking a bit more (mainly because I can watch TV while I make my one weekly chicken soup), but I mostly still ‘made food’. Then we updated it and it looked like this for a while (which is what is in Domino) and all of a sudden I liked being in it:

emily-henderson-kitchen

Photo by Brittany Ambridge for Domino Magazine

Wildly better, obviously. I love the white, the hardware, the brass “grout” (which I’ll tell you about once I get some detail shots), the pendants, the faucet, the appliances and that baby. I love that adorable baby. I love all of it EXCEPT for the refinished lower cabinetry that looked even more retro than before, and besides those beautiful schoolhouse electric handles just didn’t pop off of them.

Ok, this is not ‘The Kitchen makeover post’. Nay. I’m working on that post (trying to get more photos of what was in Domino, fishing through my library for the ones I’ve taken and then probably taking more photos of details for ya) but I figured I’d may as well show you a sneak peek of the kitchen because we changed it even after the Domino shoot. Because i’m crazy. 

Yes, you heard me. We have painted that kitchen since that shoot. 

Around that same time, Blue Apron emailed and asked me if I wanted to try out their product – delivered meal plans, with all ingredients, ready for you to cook, always different, and delicious meals. I figured I’d celebrate my new kitchen with a photo shoot (who doesn’t?) of me proving to the world (you) that I now cook. And yes, this is a sponsored post but since i’m not a food blogger I figured clearly a reveal of my new kitchen would make it even more fun, no?

ingredients

Here’s the deal: Blue Apron allows you to create delicious, chef-designed recipes at home and takes all the guess-work out of it as they send all the farm-fresh ingredients you need, right to your doorstep, in exactly the right proportions. No trips to the grocery store and no waste from unused ingredients. Its wonderful, and completely dummy proof.

Blue Apron will send you three meals per week – for two, four, or six people. The meals are $9.99 per person with free shipping and in case you are worried about all those fresh ingredients spoiling they are one step ahead of you and everything arrives in a refrigerated box so ingredients will stay fresh even if you’re not at home when your package arrives.

fridge instructions

When I first started getting Blue Apron I put it in the fridge. Five days later we hadn’t made any of them. I was like, ‘whoops, guess I’m going to have to cancel that sponsored post’. But then that night I was like, just make one and see. I turned on the tv, poured a glass of wine and started cooking. After about 10 minutes I texted Ginny and Brady with a ‘I’m blue apron-ing it and I kinda love it‘. And then I ate the meal and I was even more psyched (I think that one was beef stuffed poblano chili).

neustadt-11

Here’s what I liken it to – it’s like a personal trainer for cooking. Sure, i can cook on my own, but I don’t. Technically I know how to do the basics but I don’t know how to do anything interesting so I never try the new stuff and therefore I’m never super excited about what I’ve spent my time on. Like a personal trainer you are kinda taught how to do the more innovative things, and are in a way forced to do it (because it’s staring at you in the fridge) and then afterwards you are just so proud of yourself because you are good at it. Click through to see more photos (even a few pulled back ones) of the new painted kitchen.

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Sneak Peek of house; A Domino Mag Video

Hey y’all.

I’m working on the house posts (you’ll see a peek into the kitchen tomorrow :)) meanwhile I wanted  to show you the video that domino magazine made of the shoot, which gives you a pretty good overview of a lot of the rooms, live in action.  Plus I’m wearing lashes and there is a very cute baby.

Photo produced by Domino, directed by Krissy Tiglas

Wardrobe Styling by Jordan Rudd

Hair and Makeup by Laura Peyer

And thanks Target for putting it all together. xx

Happy Hump Day, y’all. What do you think?

The built-in bookcase design

Bookcase

There wasn’t a lot that we needed to do structurally to the house. No walls to knock out or rooms to build – just flooring, painting and changing out all the finishes and fixtures. But it lacked any storage for books, or built-ins, etc, and I have books and pots and vessels galore over here and I want to show them off. I didn’t want to just have a bunch of random bookcases all over the house, because I promised that I wouldn’t over clutter this house. So I decided to do one big built-in bookcase in the main space. Behind that black gate above is the walkway to the family room/kitchen area and that wall seemed like the perfect place to put it. Besides then it would be the massive, beautiful focal point when you walk in. I could style them out to my hearts content every day.

So I started trolling for inspiration.

Bookshelf Ideas

I knew I wanted something that looked original to the house. I wanted the shelves to be tall enough to house art and lamps inside as well as books. And I wanted it to be an interesting/fresh design. So then I found the inspiration, y’all. This dude:

floor-to-cieling

Ah yeah. We had the beams in the ceiling to make it make sense. It was functional, and interesting without being trendy. Now we just needed to actually design it … which involves measuring, numbers, drawing … I just fell asleep between measuring and drawing ….

Here was the space that we were living with:

Bookcase

And in case you thought it was easy to design these things it ain’t. It’s just hours and hours of work, playing with numbers, making sure you’ve thought about everything you can, and making sure that it looked as amazing as it could. Ginny started jumping into it and she did a bang up job. It was tricky figuring out what the widths of the fronts should be  - should they be the thickness of the beam? thinner? how much thinner? thin enough that it looks intentional, but thick enough that it holds the space – that wall was big and tall, so It needed to feel proportioned. And then you’ll notice the top left had a weird indention that was just lovely to work with that we didn’t account for at first. Anyway, click through to read the whole process and see the result.

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Kitchen backsplash tile design – a fail

Ok y’all. Its update time (although no reveal, sorry!).

To recap:

When we moved into the kitchen it was OK, considering it was from the 60′s with very few updates (thank god). We planned on refinishing the cabinets (boy was that a mistake, more on that when we’re allowed to show the pics) and I knew we would get these beautiful handles from School House Electric to update them, so everything was pretty simple, clean, and classic midcentury so far. The place that I could go crazy and do something interesting was the backsplash. So the amount of hours I thought about this stupid backsplash was ridiculous.

Here’s a reminder of what it looked like when we moved in:

Kitchen-05

A pretty great layout, simple cabinetry and just needed updates on appliances, countertop. sink, faucets, lighting, etc.

Designing for yourself (and fast) is actually really difficult when you have a large audience that is going to see it, share it (or not) like it, hate on it, etc, etc. Here is what i’ve been battling:

I want to do something amazing, but also something that is a “good idea” and something that might inspire other good ideas in you – aka I could have just called up some super expensive and beautiful tile company and gotten tons of handmade tile for free (and yes, I was tempted), but what is the ‘idea’ in that? Its like “here’s a tip, folks!- spend 5K on your backsplash tile!”

But at the same time I really wanted it to be amazing and generally anything that is common and relatively inexpensive is just not amazing. And I wanted it to be simple and mid-century because a. we are going to sell the house in probably in a year so as much as I wanted to bring in a weird color palette, its just not good for resale. And b, I don’t want to get sick of looking at this thing because its attached to the family room so its the room that we spend most of our time in.

I even met with ceramic artist Bari Zipperstein because I love her work and thought I could commission tiles from her but again the tip is ‘collaborate with an amazing artist that is going to give you a deal for exposure!!’

And then part of me was like,”just do whatever you want and screw the fact that it may or may not be pinned for the rest of eternity!!!!”

Anyway, to recap, here’s what I wanted: 1. something midcentury-inspired, 2. a good ‘idea’ (in other words do something creative with something common), 3. something relatively inexpensive (EVERYTHING was just adding up so I really had to think about budget), and 4. something that you/I haven’t seen before (but still good for resale).

No pressure. Here’s are some patterns that I LOVE that helped get the inspiration going:

Tiling Inspiration

My first idea was to create an interesting pattern/design with penny tile or small 1″ square tiles (which is super common and cheap). I thought about doing a watercolor effect in tile, something organic and soft, but ultimately there just weren’t enough different soft colors of penny tile to make that look good.

So then I thought maybe its all about a graphic pattern. Stripes seemed a bit uninteresting (although classic), but something diagonal could be cool, I thought. I really wanted to bring in ‘Oregon’ somewhere since Brian and I both have ties to it. So my first idea that I really pursued was doing a mountainscape along the back wall. It would be mainly white, taupes, grays, blues and gold tile forming the shape of the mountains. Maybe there were multiple colors in each mountain or maybe each mountain would be a different tone. A la so:

mountain motif

So we ordered a sheet of each color that we kinda liked and started playing:

Kitchen tiles

Hmm. It was looking bathroom-y and just kinda bad. So what if it was just the outline of the mountain and what if it was more abstract? I thought … So we turned to our blue tape friend and just taped it up.

Kitchen Tiling

I liked that, I did … in the blue tape. So we tried taping up tiles … Sure, you can spend hours on renderings or you can just sample it.

Kitchen Tiling

Meh. I also wanted more of a solid color in the tiles – not where the edges are lighter (I actually don’t mind that normally, but i wanted the line to be more solid and look more like one piece). So I went out tile shopping again. I found a lot more tile options (some awesome, some not) but it still wasn’t there. My camera was FULL of tile photo after tile photo.

tile options

And then I started thinking that triangles (a classic geometric shape) are having a moment right now and I was scared that it would look super “2014″, and while I don’t mind things referencing the era that they are designed in, I didn’t want it to be “Emily’s Super Hipster Kitchen” redo.

Besides, the installation of this could be really difficult to relay properly to our tiler who doesn’t speak perfect english (I mean, it was difficult to explain to Brian) and the idea of doing a rendering for this sounded so daunting and boring and I don’t know how accurate it would be anyway because you have to account for grout lines and just normal irregularities. The tile dude at Classic Tile thought that the installation for that small wall would be around $1500 and thats just the installation. Ugh.

Kitchen Tiling 05

I couldn’t seem to pull the trigger on it. I just didn’t feel confidant about it and it was risking too much money (and the horror of it being hideous) to just go for it. Some people who I trusted agreed that with the right tile it could be awesome. And some other people were against the idea completely. I felt like if I could find the perfect carerra marble tile (or sheets) for the background and the perfect gold and gray tile or strips for the mountain scape that it could look amazing, but time was running out and finding those elements (and making sure their depth and size matched for installation so they really needed to be from the same company) was proving very difficult.

So on the way home from the tile place I got the idea, THEE IDEA, that we ended up doing, one that I felt extremely confidant about immediately. Unfortunately (I know its annoying, i’m sorry) I can’t reveal what it is until it comes out in Domino (september issue, comes out mid-august) but I will say that I’m 98% in love with it and i’ll show you how you can do it and avoid that mistake and make you 100% in love with it.

But again … when the magazine drops in August. So rude, I know.

For now, what do you guys think of the mountain scape plan? Can you see how it could be amazing if done right? Or are you terrified?

 

House update | A very sneak peek

The house is dunzo (well besides the bathroom and landscaping). I can’t show you much because the next Domino Magazine issue (with a lot of the new fall Target pieces that are awesome) drops in August so its only like 5 weeks away.

But here are some sneak peaks with many, many, many, many more to follow.

Bookcase Paint Colors Carerra Tile

Artwork Caesar Stone

Sneak Peek 1
That hanging wood sculpture piece is a beautiful wood mobile by FortMakers. Its kinda perfect.

Sneak Peek 2

All photos by Ginny and Brady (and not necessarily styled in my house). That amazing string art piece/sculpture is by Nike Schroeder. While you can’t really tell what its like, in person its one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life – I just didn’t want to give too much of it away so its kinda a weird shot.

Now I must go and take turns with Brian who has been trying to get Charlie down to bed for a while…. And then watch the bachelorette while I style out the kitchen with autumnal vegetables that I have no idea how to cook … as you do.