Friday, January 25, 2013

hallelulujah! it's time to paint....

after a year of living with flat paint beige walls, we're finally painting the house! I've chosen two versions of warm greys for the majority of the rooms. I want the living/dining room to be a little bit darker and more dramatic...

so I chose Benjamin Moore Thunder. 
It looks lighter in this sample photo, but on the wall it is much more grey. 

For the rest of the house -- living room, kitchen, upstairs loft and hallway -- I chose Cotton Grey from the Behr Home Decorators Collection. 

I had them colored matched to Sherwin Williams Satin Eggshell Finish so the rooms have the same sheen. It's happening in the next couple of weeks and I am so excited. 

We're also painting the downstairs bathroom and my office so maybe it will finally kick-start my efforts to decorate my office. Which currently looks like a bomb went off in it. 

The walls are going to be a soft green/blue/gray. 

The downstairs bath color is currently under discussion. We're considering grey, blue or a mustardy gold. I want a deep bold color but the hubby is afraid it might be too much. But if you can't go dramatic in a small bath, where can you do it?! 

I'll be posting pics as soon as the rooms are complete so stay tuned! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

empire state of mind....

I'm heading for a three-day weekend to visit one of my best girlfriends. She lives in Jersey but we're spending a couple of days in NYC. I can't wait! I'm sure there will be lots of brunches, wine, and shopping on our agenda. I'm hoping to find some fun items for the house while I'm there.

Follow me on instagram (@jenlifebydesign) and I'll be sharing all the sights, sounds and cool finds from my trip!

Monday, January 14, 2013

musical interlude: the new single from JT...

today I'm taking a break from design talk to discuss one of my favorite things – Justin Timberlake. This morning at 12:01am he dropped his new single Suit and Tie.

It's the first new music from JT in almost six years. It's got a classic 70's soul R&B feel to it. It's quintessential Timberlake falsetto at its finest, but is this style of music radio friendly? It doesn't seem to be, just ask Robin Thicke. In 2008, he put out one of the decade's best albums, The Evolution of Robin Thicke. 

It had silky vocals, smooth tracks, lots of horns and a radio hit in "Lost Without You." But even with that CD's critical acclaim, Robin Thicke's music hasn't been found in heavy rotation on Top 40 radio. Not that that's a bad thing. He's found great success on Urban AC stations. 

Based on the first single, I'll be interested to see how Justin fares on popular radio with this new sound. Will he discover what Robin Thicke, Raphael Saadiq and Musiq Soulchild have already learned? Or will his popularity be the catalyst for opening the doors of pop radio to this rich, soulful genre of music. Only time will tell. But if any one can do it, Justin can. 

Do yourself a favor and check out some of the artists I mentioned above: 

(many of you may know him as a member of Tony, Toni, Tone)

PS: If you're looking for a great site full of music reviews, discussion and new music suggestions, check out my husband's blog!

Friday, January 11, 2013

transitioning the family room...

Green has been my go-to accent color in my last three homes. It added the right pop of color without ever feeling outdated. 
From lamps to rugs...

seat covers to vases....

and oh so many pillows...

it was all about the green. 

But all good things must come to an end. As I mentioned in my recent kitchen chair makeover post, the green just isn't working with the open floor plan of our new house. Our countertops are a green, blue, brown marbly laminate. You may say to yourself (if you're in the habit of talking to yourself, like I am), "Well then, self, green should be a great accent color." Except, it's not the right shade of green and it ends up making both the accents and the counters stick out like sore thumbs. 

So I'm going neutral with hints of deep blue. It's calming and serene, just what I want in the room where we do all of our relaxing. It will also be a good complement to our gray couch, cream carpet, and brown wood and leather furniture. We'll soon be getting our walls painted a subtle warm gray, so that will complete the room just perfectly. 

In the meantime, I've been searching for inspiration photos to achieve just the right level of blue while still making it feel very neutral. 

I love the tealish-gray blue in this photo and the way the velvet makes it so warm. 

I love the way they mixed all the blues in this room without making it feel too busy. 

This is one conveys the level of calmness I'm looking for. 

I like the pairing of blue and white in this room. It adds a nice crispness that I am really fond of when decorating.  

Now begins the process of slowly phasing out the green and introducing in the blue. I have to say it's a little hard to say goodbye to some of my green decor. I feel so bad storing it away when it's a perfectly good piece. But it will find a new home in another room at some point, I just have to keep reminding myself of that. 

Stay tuned for more updates on the transition.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

brussels sprout salad...

I have been stuck in a side dish rut. I make the same things over and over which are usually potatoes and then a canned or frozen vegetable. snoozapalooza.  In an effort to eat healthier and cut out unnecessary starches, I perused the interwebs for some inspiration. That's when I stumbled upon a recipe for a warm brussels sprout salad from The Fit Cook.  It sounded healthy and delicious but also comforting for the cold winter months. I tweaked it a bit and honestly can say I've eaten this as a lunch three times since Christmas. I am obsessed. And I know you will be too. Here goes:

What you'll need for this recipe is:
A bundled of brussels sprouts
Half an orange
Bacon bits (about 1/2 cup)
Feta cheese
2 Tbs of EVOO

First cut the stem off of the brussels sprouts, then cut them in half, remove the leaves and place them in a bowl. You will not used the core of the sprouts for this recipe, but you can certainly save them and use them in another fashion.

In a skillet over medium high heat, add the EVOO and the bacon bits. Let these warm for a few minutes. Then add in your sprout leaves and cook until the leaves start to brown and wilt. Tossing every so often.

Once these are cooked, transfer them to a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle with feta cheese and squeeze the juice of 1/2 an orange over the top. Toss together and salt and pepper to taste. 

It's great as a side dish or a healthy dinner salad. Like I said, I have eaten it for lunch three different times since Christmas and I can't wait to have it again. Yum! 

It's low in fat and very satisfying. I hope you enjoy it too! 

Send me your healthy recipes, I'm always looking for new ones to try. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

kitchen chair makeover...

one of the first DIY projects I did when I moved into my first solo apartment was to reupholster my grandparents' old kitchen table and chairs. They were covered in a pastel floral pattern that I updated to a modern striped fabric. 

I was so proud of myself. That cute little table enjoyed a long life in that apartment, my first apartment with my husband and even this new house. But the busy pattern didn't really work with our new kitchen finishes and design. Plus the kitchen flows into our family room and I want to transition the space into a more neutral palette.

So it was bye bye stripes...

Hello gray...

See how nicely it works with the couch?

It was a pretty easy change, but I had forgotten how many staples are needed to keep the fabric taut. Oy vey! It took me forever to pop off the old staples and then I got a blister stapling the new fabric. No pain, no gain! 

The fabric used to be the first thing you noticed in the room. Now it blends seamlessly while adding a little bit of warmth to the space.  

It was an easy change that makes a significant impact. 
What project have you done that's made a big difference in your decor?