Remodel Update: the Kitchen

The kitchen came with original cabinetry from 1981…ohhhh vintage? Not really. While the dated look along with small boxed in kitchen seem overwhelming and limiting [seriously why was everything in the 80s’ boxed in with low ceilings?] the transformation was exhilarating. Looking at the before and after you may wonder… is that even the same place????









Keeping the basic gallery kitchen concept, the ceiling was raised,  the entrance connecting the breakfast nook to the kitchen was opened and the breakfast bar added thus extending the kitchen into the breakfast room with stainless steel cabinetry along the breakfast room wall. This gave more room for storage. Opening the wall dividing the kitchen and the formal dining room made a huge impact. Not only does it add the much needed natural lighting and great Galleria view but opened the space up for easy entertaining, open concept feel without a “open concept” per se.

Cabinetry and design:  Downsview Kitchens | appliances: Miele | pulls: Restoration Hardware strande collection | faucet: Danze | track lighting: Tiella | tray & kettle: Alessi


Remodel Update: Balcony Make-Over

When you don’t have a garden you can easily access the balcony becomes your connection to nature and outdoor relaxation. Some prefer the wild “I’m in a jungle photographing rare animals” approach to decorating their terrace while others mimic spas or pool sides where they visualize sipping drinks and tanning.

Our approach is to make the balcony and extension of the living room with a more lounge/ manicured garden feel. The tile is already down as we used the same tile throughout all the rooms. As you can see in the plans below the floor continues through the sliding glass doors out to the balcony creating the visual of a longer living room. The furniture decor plans haven’t wavered in these past months and while the balcony is way down on the priority list, patio season is around the corner and we are anxious to enjoy it!

 The vertical direction and full tile hallway layout is not only more visually pleasing but it saved tile cutting time and we even have boxes of left over.


To fully cover the balcony in tile required 3 full tiles and 3 inch more of cut tile, in our opinion that would have looked a little odd. Our solution was to lay 3 tiles down, uncut, and paint the remaining space grey turning it into a “gutter” for the water to flow easily during heavy rainfall or plant watering.


To bring in a green and garden like feel we were inspired by Restoration Hardware’s [surprise, surprise] store layout in Highland Village.  We imagine two long rectangular planters with a boxwood [or a more Houston climate friendly] plant placed parallel to each side of the balcony wall.  The building is already quite private but this will add more privacy and some lovely greenery visible from the living room and entrance as well.


Restoration Hardware

For seating we are slightly at odds. One of us [I’ll let you guess who so your opinions are unbiased] likes the idea of a lounge-y, comfortable spot to get sun and read [ blogs ] books; hello stay-cation!  While the other wants to still maintain comfort but go more with the idea that we are extending the living room- makes sense.

Restoration Hardware Ibiza Lounge Chair


With our lounge-y option we would have small side coffee table for drinks and snacks [wine, cheese and crackers, yum! ]. While the traditional seating route allows for a taller table with the option of dining outdoors, croissants and coffee?. We have not looked extensively for the outdoor tables but below are two viable options.

Crate & Barrel Bluestone Coffee Table

Homelegance Factory Square Wood End Table


The final question: settle the score what seating option do you prefer?

-Beatrice Brody








Five Ways To Stay [somewhat] Stress Free During Your Remodel

You got me. A stress-free remodel/ renovation doesn’t exist but out of personal and professional experience I can give you the easiest ways to insure you are less stressed during your remodel, short of hiring someone to worry for you.

1-Have a schedule: Be sure it’s clear and check it off, checklist style, as tasks get competed. It’s better to prepare yourself earlier and get work done ahead of time rather than postponing days or weeks because you think you have time to complete a job. That philosophy is rarely found in a typical contractor so it’s very likely up to you to delegate what you need done when your on a deadline. Completion of a job a head of time is one dream that will never come true as, more often than not, you will encounter obstacles and setbacks. Being prepared saves all the last minute rushing and possible late competition date.

2-Communication is key: Even if you think you and your contractor or workers are on the same page alway double and triple check. I advise to get things [ie changes made, or delivery notifications] in writing as often as possible. I’m not saying you want to draft up a new contract every time you have a change, something simple like texts or emails that way if a misunderstanding creates a bigger issue you will have it in writing.

3-Exercise: I’m never doing any hard labor, but the energy spent ordering shipments, overseeing work completion, meetings, certain defeating Lowes trips and just thinking about the remodel leaves me drained and headachy. I instantly feel better after a quick trip to the gym, walk or better yet dance class. Hello endorphins! My headaches are gone and I am (no longer a raging b–) in a way better mood to handle anything else that may come up.

4- Aromatherapy: Yes, I’m going to get all crystal-energy-hippie on you. Get a soothing sent of lavender or a special ‘calming’ blend. You can carry it around in your purse for handy access during stressful errands and/or dab a few drops on your pillow to help you relax at night.

5- Eat well: Depending on how you handle stress your diet can be greatly affected. Some people stress eat while other end up skipping meals, or [gasp] grabbing fast food! In turn your diet can affect your stress levels. Eating a nutritious diet will equip your body for all the physically and mentally draining work. For healthy eating tips let me recommend this great health and fitness blog by my good friend Holly Legare, since I ate a cheesecake for breakfast this morning.


-Beatrice Brody



Remodel Progress: It’s All Coming Together

The kitchen Cabinets, wardrobes and bathroom vanities all arrived at the end of April and began getting installed this first week of may. It’ so exciting [and stressful] to see everything coming together and watching these walls and empty space turn into the home we have been trying to visualize in our minds for months now- like “yeah I think floating glass cabinets in the breakfast nook will look good and still leave us enough room to walk into the kitchen” -they do.  Next on the immediate agenda is to have the kitchen counter tops made as we have already selected our marble slabs, get the two bedroom window treatments and have “the glass guy” [ as our contractor calls him] come in for the bathroom mirrors and some other glasswork. All this plus the continuation of the kitchen and bathroom installments, overhang cabinets, backsplash some grouting and finishing up the bathrooms. We are looking forward to seeing this transformation in completion and to begin some serious furniture shopping!

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a very special delivery

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beginning of glass cabinet installation

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the kitchen so far

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kitchen cabinets

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guest room wardrobe in progress

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master wardrobe in progress


-Beatrice Brody

Finding the Right Shade Of White Paint

Painting your walls white is no easy feat. Firstly you have to convince your contractor that, yes you want the purest white paint on the market, no beige or grey hues. And somehow even the paint dubbed snow white is missing its purity. I thought it would be as pure as snow, but it’s grey hue leaves me unsettled.

There are only two directions you can stray from basic white; the grey direction or the gold direction. At Sherman Williams I had a sample of paint taken from our white cabiniet sample color piece pictured below. I asked for them to make it as light as possible but still within the same family. The man helping me said the mixture contained 1 black drop and 2 gold ones and he would adjust it by taking out 1 black drop and 1 gold one. I also selected a couple of whites already in their catalogue. I left Sherman Williams with 3 paint samples: #1 the custom color we called Gardenia White, #2 High Reflective White #3 Extra White.

Back at the condo the contractor and I labeled the sample jars 1-3 and painted the samples on the wall number them in respect to their jar. Gardenia white was still too gold, and Extra White was on the gray side. High Reflective White was as Goldie Locks would say just right. The final step was making sure it matched the tile, which is extremely important of course.

 And our condo is one beautiful step closer to completion.

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I feel like Goldie Locks…

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a beautiful match!

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-Beatrice Brody

Remodel Progress: Marble Counter vs Porcelain Slabs

Kitchen installation is still weeks away but nothing beats advanced preparation when dealing in a business that fluctuates so much in material, labor, cost and availability. The goal right now is to have the kitchen and bathroom counters installed as soon as possible after the kitchen installation, like, 2 days after [!!] – so selecting the counter top material, reserving it and getting quotes is of the essence.

Typically you will not get the exact price of granite/ marble installation until your granite guy measures the counter out in the actual space. In this case the kitchen and master bath sinks.

However I wanted a quote asap so we sketched out the dimensions of how we expect the marble to be done; two kitchen counters with joints for the sink (unless they can do a cutout) and joints for the cook top. The master bath is a smaller vanity space but will need 2 cut outs for the under mount sinks, a backsplash and overhang, as well as 3 panels that will run up the wall on either sides of the mirrors.

I gave , and went over, these sketches to a granite/ marble guy referred by the contractor in order to get a quote soon. I then sought out an alternative to marble, out of curiosity. Porcelain slabs that are, exquisitely, made to look like the pricer marbles on the market. We are talking calcutta gold, onyx etc.. These porcelain are cheaper and stronger than their high end counter parts.

Photos below of our original sketches, picking out marble onsite and viewing the porcelain marble alternatives.

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[ our ultimate selection ]

Porcelain Gold Calcuta Slabs:

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-Beatrice Brody


That’s So Shady

Window treatments are very important when you are battling the summer sun from noon to sunset in Houston, TX. My ideal window treatments are not loud, printed or oozing with “personality”. They are, like the classiest people we know, demure, good quality, get the job done with little fuss.

Currently we are undecided between two styles of treatments: the contemporary vertical systems and traditional drapery.

Firstly I hopped over to a Hunter Douglas rep with my sofa, bed frame and paint sample, to check out the products they had to offer and get quotes. Though pretty set on white I toyed with the idea of grey.

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Not fully satisfied with what I has seen I went online and found The Shade Store. I could browse different window treatment styles, select samples to get mailed to me for free and calculate my quote. Of course if I choose to move ahead with them they can send out pros to measure properly for their product.

Below are examples of the two styles we’re considering:

The sleek vertical panels take up little space and is typically the right style for a high rise pied a terre.

Vertical System via The Shade Store


Drapery can look more formal and tradition which we also like.

Drapery via The Shade Store

There are many styles of window treatments out there, what are your favorites?