It’s okay to try a new angle

We just had our tiled fireplace surround redone! Yay! I don’t have a “before” shot, but just picture bland oatmeal-colored square ceramic tiles and you’ve got the idea.  I knew I wanted honed white carrara marble in either a hex tile or a herringbone pattern on the surround and subway tile on the hearth, so I picked up some samples.


Honed white marble carrara tile samples — loved them all!

We were paying a handy neighbor an hourly rate to install the tile, and he took one look at the surround and the mosaics I had chosen and said that they would take a LOT of cutting (e.g., a LOT of hours). He said if we tilted the larger herringbone mosaic about 45 degrees so that instead of making a “V” pattern, it made sort of an up-and-down backwards “L” pattern (see picture below), it would reduce the number of cuts by a ton.


Larger (1″ x 2″) herringbone tile mosaic rotated 45 degrees to the left. Hmmmm….could this work?

Not wanting to break any design rules, I quickly searched high and low to find other examples of tiling jobs where a herringbone mosaic was installed at a 45 degree angle rather than in the traditional “V.” I tried Houzz, Pinterest, and even good ‘ole Google images, but I couldn’t find any examples of it being done this way.

In the end, cost won out. Because I didn’t think it looked TOO bad sideways, I made the call and had it installed that way to save money (it is back-to-school wallet-busting time, you know). Turns out, it looks great!




Okay, maybe it’s not the traditional herringbone I had in mind, but it’s kind of different–good different.  Today I learned that it’s okay to break with  traditions and do something new and unexpected–even if you’re not sure. I know that Billy Baldwin, one of the fathers of American interior design, once said, “The number one rule of decoration is that you can break almost all the other rules.” However, I’m pretty sure there are a lot more qualified people than me to decide which rules to break, when, and how. But this time I lucked out; I think it turned out just fine.

You know how it goes, though – one project leads to another. Now I’m itching to paint the wood and trim a bright, glossy white. That’s going to have to wait for another day, though, because if I paint the fireplace surround white, then I’m going to want all-white trim throughout the house. Another day, another home dec dream. 🙂


Quick Chinoiserie Change

I love quick changes!  I am a huge fan of, an awesome blog that features before-and-after transitions. BetterAfter is the brainchild of Lindsay, from Phoenix, who has been featuring pictures and brief descriptions of fabulous transitions since 2009. If you’ve never visited, check it out for some totally inspiring makeovers.

Anywho, I recently revamped an ugly $15 flea market chair, and it occurred to me that there is no better pick-me-up than taking something old and ugly and making it new and awesome…ESPECIALLY if you can do it in a short period of time.

Here are some shots of my chair during its transformation, which I think turned out pretty okay for an amateur like me.

1. Here’s what the original chair looked like. I LOVED the faux bamboo style woodwork, and I liked the fact that the chair itself was actually quite comfy – lots of cushioning and very stable and supportive. But the stained pea green and pale yellow plaid fabric? Yuck.


Flea market chair — BEFORE


2. Here is what I found when I removed the fabric and cushion from the seat back: the back fabric, support strip, cushion, and top fabric were ALL stapled into a teeny-tiny groove around the inside of the wood. Yikes.


Close-up of the inside of the seat back


3. Once I got the fabric (and of those itty bitty staples–there must have been several hundred) out and off of the chair frame, it was time to spray paint. I chose Rust-Oleum Universal in Pure Gold. LOVED IT. It has paint and primer in one, and it only took two coats. I probably should have sanded….but remember I like QUICK transitions and I’m not really patient enough for perfection. I applied 2 coats as per the instructions on the can. Here is the result. I think the paint looks more metallic gold in person than it does in these photos.


After 2 coats of Rust-Oleum Universal Metallic Paint in Pure Gold


4. Finally, it was time to put on the NEW fabric. I chose Robert Allen’s “Crystal Lake” fabric in a color called “Midnight,” which is a deep, navy blue sporting a modern take on a Chinese chinoiserie style pattern. I thought it would go perfectly with the faux bamboo chair frame. The two hardest things about reconstruction were sewing a T-cushion with a welt cord (I’m not much of a sew-er and I didn’t have a welt cord foot or a zipper foot on my sewing machine, so my welt cords look a little wonky) and–you guessed it–stapling everything back into that teeny-tiny groove in the seat back. I had to use a pneumatic 22-gauge upholstery staple gun, and even that was too large so I had to shoot the staples into the groove at a 45-degree angle. Not fun. But it turned out pretty well! Check it out:


Flea market chair — AFTER


All told, it only took me about a day to re-do this chair! Granted, had I taken a little more time I’m sure it would look more professional and perfect. But, then I wouldn’t have had the satisfaction of a quick transformation, right?  I dismantled chair and painted the frame in one afternoon, and then about a week later, I re-upholstered and reassembled the whole thing on a Saturday night.

I’m not much of a lengthy project person, but if it can be done in a few days, I’m all over it. This is one project that wasn’t too terrible to undertake and I would definitely do it again given a seriously awesome thrifted chair.



Chewy Coconut Macadamia Nut Cookies

Quick post to share a yummy new recipe I learned about and tried this past weekend: Coconut Macadamia Cookies. These are the perfect summer cookie (or honestly, the perfect ANYTIME cookie!). They are sweet, chewy, and crunchy to boot. Trifecta.


Chewy Coconut Macadamia Nut Cookies

Here’s the recipe for around 3 dozen:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1-1/2 cup whole macadamia nuts

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In large bowl, blend sugars and butter until well blended (helps if sugar is softened). Mix in eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture, coconut, and macadamia nuts and mix until combined. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake for 22-24 minutes. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool, flat surface.

These were delicious as per the original recipe, but I think this particular recipe would be well suited to personalization. For starters, white chocolate chips would be a great addition (I’d cut down the macadamia nuts to maybe 3/4 cup and add 3/4 to 1 cup of white chocolate chips).

Or what about something citrus-y? Those of you who are better cooks than I, would it mess up the texture too much to add a bit of PINEAPPLE into the mix somehow? Or better yet, maybe some lime zest and lime juice? Yum.