Country Living...Island Dreaming

June 24, 2015

My Fireplace - Before and After

Since we were changing our floors to hardwood, we thought it would also be a good time to give our fireplace a makeover!

Here is an unattractive 'before' picture from demo day...
because we all know it's much more dramatic having an ugly 'before'!

Otherwise, I might start missing when my fireplace looked like this...
Ok, now I feel sad...

Anyway, we wanted to build up the hearth, get rid of those broken down ugly glass/brass doors and basically give the fireplace some presence in the room!  Recently, I gave a few examples of the new look I was going for.. Fireplace Options.  My husband and I went back and forth for awhile and finally agreed to go with a cultured stone.  

After ripping off our old oak mantel, 
the guys got to work on framing the fireplace for the new stone.
It already felt much bigger with the raised hearth and additional depth.

And with the half wall gone the fireplace could be even more of a focal point!
By that point, the surface had been prepped for the stone.

And crown molding was added to the top.

As you can see, the new mantel was in place when they started stacking the stone.  The mantel is an old piece of barn wood from over 100 years ago...definitely a rustic touch.  I figured I would let my husband have some masculine features in the room to balance out my white girly kitchen at the other end!  I also let my husband make the final decision on the actual stone color.  We had decided on Boral Country Ledgestone and he chose the color Hudson Bay which I was fine with since it had a mixture of grays and tans.

We couldn't decide between stacked and grouted but ended up doing the grout.


And another AFTER with no lights...
Ta-da again!

Overall, I am happy with the new look.  The stone is a little darker than I originally wanted but I am excited with how it turned out.  I can't wait to start decorating the mantel.  What fun it will be at Christmastime!!  Yay!

All these decisions are making my head spin!

Any renovations going on in your home?

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June 18, 2015

Granite Obsessing

One of the hardest decisions in this whole kitchen renovation has been the granite.  I always knew I wanted white cabinets with a stained wood island but I couldn't picture what the counter tops would be like.  Actually, that's not true...I could picture marble in there but for our family and lifestyle (messy boys), I knew granite would be more practical and less expensive.

In some of my Houzz and Pinterest inspiration photos, I came across a granite called, White Springs.  It blended beautifully with the White Dove painted cabinets as well as wood floors.  Our granite supplier had a few slabs and I loved the colors in them - white background with a taupe/tan, black, and brown.

We needed 2 slabs but I wasn't thrilled with markings in one of the slabs the supplier had so he called me when some new ones came in.  When my contractor and I went to look at the new slabs, the colors were very different and I just couldn't picture it working.  We decided to take a look at the originals to see if we could make them work with the templates we had done.

Unfortunately, there were several splotchy areas I didn't like so the only piece that would work for the island was this one.  I was hesitant at first (should have been a sign right there) because the black marks looked a little snake-like and also kind of like bird footprints to me.  Because I tend to be a little indecisive at times, I tried to be more bold by talking myself into embracing the black marks for their artistic quality.

I wished the island looked more like this piece for the bar/entertainment area but overall I thought I was happy with the layout.  The next morning I started feeling hesitant and texted one of my best friends.  I asked her to come with me to look at the granite again.  She agreed that the granite wasn't what I would normally pick and advised me to go really bold with the island lighting to draw the attention away from the black marks.  Once again, I felt okay with my decision but over the weekend I started having doubts again.  First thing Monday morning I cancelled the granite order right before they were due to start cutting.  I just didn't want to spend the rest of my life staring at something I didn't love.

So to make a long story short...(much too late for that I guess)...I started shopping again!

I wanted to go with the general look of the White Springs but a little more subtle like this White Giallo Ornamentale.  (The original Giallo Ornamental sample I had at the top of this page was very brown and basically nothing like this in color...

Close up of a White Giallo Ornamental with my samples.
My cabinets are White Dove, the walls are Manchester Tan
and the piece of cherry is the island color.

 White Giallo Ornamental

White Giallo Ornamental

 White Giallo Ornamental shown with the White Springs sample piece.

Giallo Ornamental in better lighting.

Then I found an Ivory Ice at another supplier.  Very close in color to what I have been looking for...
 Close up of Ivory Ice

 Ivory Ice Granite
The black marks are more subtle than the White Springs bird/snake marks.

Ivory Ice

Then at yet another supplier, I found this White Ice slab...
 White Ice side view
It appears very gray but seemed more white in person.

 White Ice with my kitchen samples.

 White Ice Granite

White Ice

So basically, I plan to go with one of the 3 choices above:
1.  White Giallo Ornamentale
2.  Ivory Ice
3.  White Ice

I have to push myself to make a decision though or else I will mess up the schedule...ugh.  Time to go back and look at all my inspiration photos!

What granite is your favorite?

Linking to:


June 12, 2015

Renovation Progress - Major Developments!

Things are happening so fast over here that I barely have time to sit down and write about them!  It's been crazy busy!  One day last week within a two hour time frame, the appliances, cabinets and fireplace stone were delivered!

The next day the guys didn't waste any time unpacking them...

 It was like Christmas morning!

Before long, my kitchen was coming to life!

 And after a couple days it already looked like this!

Then the floor guy came with Minwax stains to choose from...
They all looked beautiful so needless to say,
I haven't committed yet!

I originally thought I would go lighter (you know the golden retriever fur) - but I think we are leaning towards the two on the right - Provincial and Early American.  (From left to right is Special Walnut, English Chestnut, Provincial and Early American).

Here is a better view of the island which is what I am comparing them to:
The Early American matches in color but the Provincial picks up the darker tones mixed in the difficult!

And I have to think about how the color will look throughout the house.  As you can see, the guys are sanding and refinishing the stairs as well.
I must say, we were pleasantly surprised when we removed the runner to see that the stairs really hadn't faded that much in 16 years.  For some reason I thought they had, but I guess they were always on the light side.  It made me relieved that we chose to do finished-on-site floors throughout the house.  The prefinished floors we had in our living room and dining room faded terribly over the years.  

Here is what my living room floor looked like right before we tore it out...
And this room doesn't even get a lot of light!

Oh and speaking of light...
The under cabinet and upper cabinet lighting went in.  I think I stood in here for an hour one night, just staring at the room...It's my favorite thing yet!

We are definitely making progress!  I just have to push myself to make some decisions.  The floor is a tough one because the hardwood will be almost everywhere!  And I may have gone a little wild on my granite selection...a bit out of my comfort zone.  I'll fill you in on that next time...

Any thoughts on the hardwood stains?
I would love your input!

Minwax Floor Stains - Special Walnut, English Chestnut, Provincial and Early American

Enjoy your weekend!

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June 8, 2015

World Oceans Day

Today, June 8th is World Oceans Day and I thought I would celebrate by reminiscing about our honeymoon seventeen (wow) years ago this week!

Sure, I might be coughing up construction dust at the moment but it doesn't stop me from dreaming of the gorgeous blue waters of the Hawaiian islands!  We spent about two and a half weeks island hopping without a care in the world.  Times sure have changed...we really need to go back someday.  This photo is from a helicopter above the Napali Coast on the beautiful island of Kauai.  I was much more adventurous before I had kids...actually I was a bit of a chicken then too, but I forced myself to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience!

While in Kauai, we stayed at the Princeville Resort and honestly words cannot describe the view from the hotel.  (My cheap film-camera pictures just don't do it justice!)

Here is what we woke up to one morning.  At the time we stayed there, I think the hotel was just called The Princeville but is now the St. Regis Princeville).  They have since renovated and added the Westin Princeville Ocean Villas.  Either way, I don't think you could go wrong at this amazing property!

Well, that's enough island dreaming for me today.  I have decisions to make in this crazy kitchen renovation.  Like I said, times sure have changed...

How are you celebrating World Oceans Day?  


June 5, 2015

Renovation Progress - The Half Wall

A lot happens in a week!  I ended last week with new hardwood floors and a new dilemma...should we remove the half wall or not?

This is the wall the separates the kitchen eating area from the family room.  Months ago, I mentioned to my husband, my kitchen designer and my contractor that I was thinking about removing the half wall.  My kitchen designer and my contractor agreed it was a great idea but my husband didn't.  I kind of dropped the plan right there because I had other "must haves" that I was trying to convince my husband that I "must have."

Fast forward to a couple days after the wood floors went in.  I had just climbed into bed and was already half asleep when my husband hesitantly starts a conversation.

"I probably shouldn't even bring this up...", he begins.

"Oh no, what is it?",  I answer

"Do you think maybe we should remove the half wall?", he asks.

"Of course I do!  Are you kidding me?..."

So there it began.  First thing the next morning I was on Instagram blabbing about my dilemma.  I wanted some reassurance that removing the wall would be a good idea.  After all, I hadn't yet asked my contractor how much it would cost to take it down, move the electrical and then feather in the floor boards which were JUST installed!  Luckily, since we hadn't had the floors stained yet, I had some hope that this little project wouldn't turn into some out of control, crazy fiasco!

I was thrilled that every single one of you who responded to my dilemma agreed that removing the wall was the right thing to do!  Thank you for your honest opinions by the way!  When I checked with my contractor, he assured me it wouldn't be a huge project but commented that removing the wall would have been cheaper before the floors went in...obviously.  By some miracle, my husband agreed to the extra expense and before long, we had the guys in there tearing it down!

No turning back now...

And now the kitchen/family room area is opened up.
I think I will have so many more options for furniture placement now!
(The flooring guys are coming next week to fix the floor boards.)

Yeah, I am glad we did it!
Here is a quick Before and After!

So, I think my husband is beginning to trust my design decisions.  He agreed that removing the wall was the right thing to do but admitted that he really couldn't envision how it would look until the floors actually went in.  I totally understand because before the wood floors, the family room had carpet and the kitchen had tile.  The wall made sense then.  Oh well, at least we did this BEFORE the floors were stained!

I am hoping that was the only afterthought 
we will end up having with this renovation!

Have you ever had any project afterthoughts that cost you extra money?

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