Kitchens: Combining Function with Beauty

Kitchens are one of the best places to blend function with beauty. After all, the kitchen usually gets more use than any other room in the home. It’s not only a place to prepare food, but a place of gathering, entertaining, and memory-making. In good design, form always follows function. So I view the kitchen as a great opportunity to beautify the every-day, mundane tasks of life!
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There are tasks that can only be performed in a kitchen, and there are items that can only be stored there. Use this as an opportunity to create something pretty!

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How much better does boring old sugar and flour look in these glass jars than it does in the original packaging? Not only are these jars pretty, they’re also very functional. I can easily fit any size measuring cup in them, and they keep my ingredients fresh.

 

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I think everyone has a cookie jar, but consider using one that works with the decor of your kitchen. My kitchen is white and pretty simplistic, so this cookie jar fits in perfectly.

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Trays and canisters are a great way to corral items that get used everyday. I try to avoid buying utensils that are different colors if I’m choosing to display them on my counters. Sticking to one or two colors is much easier on the eye and keeps things from looking junky. One of the number one rules of organizing is to keep similar items together, and by doing so I can easily grab what I need quickly while I’m cooking.

And now onto the parts of the kitchen that can get a little scary… cupboards and drawers! Having a good organizational system in place for your cupboards and drawers is key to making them as functional as possible. Making them pretty motivates you to keep them organized. I like to start by lining all my drawers with contact paper. This makes them nicer to look at, and if a spill happens I can easily switch out the liner without damaging my drawers.

Spice drawer

I like to keep my spices in a drawer, because it’s much easier for me to find what I need this way. I purchased these spice jars from Crate & Barrel and found some labels that fit the lids perfectly. I keep them alphabetized so that I can quickly grab what I need. I do buy some of my spices in bulk and I keep the extras in the back of this drawer. I also store spices I don’t use often in a basket back there.

Drawer

Large drawers like this one can get messy and cluttered fast, so I like to use baskets to store similar items together. I have one for mixer attachments, one for can openers, and two for spatulas and serving items.

Baking Cupboard

This is a cupboard near my cook-top. Again, I use labeled canisters here to make everything look more uniform and to make it easy to find.

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The expandable shelf riser on my second shelf was a great investment as far as keeping this cupboard organized goes. I’m only 5’2″, so I can barely reach items past the first shelf of my upper cabinets. The riser prevents things from getting lost up there, and I can easily see what I have. Before this we had several bottles of soy sauce because I could never see any in there and I kept buying more!

Under sink

It’s hard to make that space under the sink pretty. Here I used a shelf riser to maximize space and I used a plastic drawer to corral my grocery bags.

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Having separate compartments for cookie sheets and muffin tins makes life so much easier! We had our builder add these dividers and it was definitely money well spent. And it looks nice!

Cereal

I typically don’t like the packaging that food comes in. All the competing patterns and colors make my pantry look chaotic. I store my cereal in these containers from The Container Store. The cereal stays fresh and the containers can fit a whole Costco sized bag!

You don’t have to sacrifice beauty to have a functional kitchen, and vice versa! I hope these tips will help you look for ways to combine the two.

How NOT to mix Neutrals: Transitioning from Brown to Gray

Gray has been a trend in interiors for a while now, but I still have helped several clients make the transition from a brown color palette to a gray one just this year. The process can be daunting, and most of us don’t have the ability to make big changes to our cabinetry, countertops, and flooring every time we want to change color schemes. The good news is, neutral colors can be mixed. BUT, it must be done properly in order for it to look cohesive and harmonious.

I’m a big believer in training your eye when it comes to design, so to start off, let’s look at some poor design selections. These pictures are from a hotel room I’m currently staying in. The hotel is in the process of remodeling and updating their decor (from brown to gray) so I can’t be too upset with them for the hideous colors. We’ll cut them some slack.

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What’s wrong with these pictures?? The problem here is Undertones, which is the secret to making your mixed neutral color scheme work. All colors on the color wheel are either a cool color or a warm color.

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Reds, oranges and yellows are warm colors while greens, blues and some purples are cool. Have you ever picked out a paint color at the Home Depot, brought it home and rolled it on your wall, only to have it look more yellow than you wanted? Or more blue, green, etc.? This is because all colors have undertones. These undertones are usually not very obvious and require some work to uncover, but neglecting to recognize them can totally ruin your color scheme. So how can you recognize them? The best way is to compare your swatch or sample to something from the same color family. This will help you determine if your chosen color leans more toward the warm side of the color wheel or the cool side. Is your gray paint looking more blue? This means it’s a cool gray. Is your white paint looking a little pink? This means it’s a warm white.

So what does all this have to do with changing your home from browns to grays?  The trick to a successful blend of neutrals in design is to stick to either a warm color palette or a cool one. DO NOT mix the two! This is what was wrong with the above pictures from my hotel room. This does not mean that going with a warm color palette means you can’t use any blue. It means that you will look for a warmer blue, maybe one with some red undertones.

Let’s look at some successful examples to demonstrate my point. Remember, training your eye is key here!

Warm Neutral Color Scheme

This is a perfect example of using warm neutrals cohesively. Notice the undertones!

 

This is a great example of using cool undertones. Can you see the blue? The use of black also makes the overall feel a little cooler.

This is a great example of using cool undertones. Can you see the blue? The use of black also makes the overall feel a little cooler.

 

Here's another example of using warm neutrals. Are you starting to see how this works?!

Here’s another example of using warm neutrals. Are you starting to see how this works?!

So when transitioning from browns to grays, try to stick to either a warm or a cool palette. If you don’t have the luxury of replacing large items, opt for accessories and easy changes like paint that work with the items you can’t change. (Use a warm gray on your walls if you have a warm cabinet color, or warm gray pillows on a tan couch). I hope this helps! You can contact me {sidney@kandgrayinteriors.com} with questions or any help you may need.

How I Know I’m Supposed to be a Designer

I’ve been a designer as long as I can remember. My first client was Barbie. I was never really interested in playing Barbies, I was more interested in designing her house. She had homes in my dresser drawers, in my closet, and on my desk. I even remember looking at a laundry  basket and thinking the cut-outs on the side of it would make the most beautiful full-length windows for her next house. I had the opportunity to live in a few different states growing up, and each time we’d move and I’d get a new bedroom it was so exciting to decorate it the way I wanted.

I took an interior design course in high school and loved it. I thought about making it my major when I graduated and went to college, but ultimately decided to take a more ‘practical’ route and went with Radiology instead. After a few semesters, I realized that Radiology wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wasn’t loving the classes and my heart just wasn’t in it. I had recently gotten married, and was still as infatuated with decorating and designing my new home as I was growing up. So,  I switched my major to Interior Design and registered for classes.

On the first day of Interior Design 1010, I couldn’t find the classroom I needed to be in and I parked in the wrong parking lot and ended up getting a $50 ticket. I was running late and was all sorts of stressed out. I took all of this as a sign that I was doing the wrong thing and I should just quit now. But, I calmed myself down, took a deep breath, and walked into class a few minutes late anyway. Class had begun and the teacher had asked everyone to introduce themselves and tell a little about why we had decided to major in Interior Design. While explaining her life story, a fellow student mentioned that she loved decorating her home so much that she would even select tissue boxes at the store that went with her decor. Instantly, a chorus of voices- mine included- exclaimed, “I do that too!!

And that’s how I knew I was in the right place and that I had picked the right career. All because I found a community of people who also match their tissue boxes to their surroundings. After that moment, I never looked back, and I have never regretted my decision. Now, I wouldn’t say a box of tissues changed my life, but it definitely reaffirmed the path I had chosen to take!tissuebox1

How to Get Designer Pillows for Less

I love throw pillows. I have tubs of them in my basement and I love switching them out ALL. THE. TIME. Especially for holidays. It’s hard for me to justify spending a lot of money on them because 1. I switch them out so often, and 2. I don’t believe in spending a ton on accessories. Accessories are one of the easiest, most inexpensive ways to change the look of a space, and since I do that so often, I choose not to invest a lot of money in them.

So today I want to share a little trick with you. This is how I get designer pillows for less:

I love Schumacher’s Imperial Trellis fabric. It’s classic and timeless and comes in a variety of colors. I’m a sucker for all things trellis, so it’s no surprise how much I love this fabric. This particular fabric costs over $100 a yard, sometimes closer to $200 a yard depending on where you find it. Obviously I needed a more cost effective option, so my secret is…….. One sided pillows!!

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The backs of my pillows are just a solid color fabric that matches the Imperial Trellis exactly. And it’s not even noticeable when they’re sitting on my couch! This way, I was able to get two pillows for the cost of one in my favorite fabric. Not bad, right?!

If you’re looking for a great place to buy designer pillows that isn’t to-the-trade, I suggest Etsy. You can find pretty much any size pillow in any fabric you want there. A lot of sellers give you the option of making the pillows one-sided or making the entire pillow in your fabric choice. OR, fabric.com and decoratorsbest.com are great places to find fabric if you want to make your own pillows. Trust me, making pillow covers is not as hard as it looks!

 

 

Christmas Lifestyle Pictures

It may still be August, but it’s time to start thinking about holiday photos! Photographers’ schedules fill up very quickly towards the end of the year, and it’s not something you want to be worrying about mid-December. Last year I hired a photographer to come to my home for a ‘Christmas Lifestyle Shoot.’ It was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done, and our family will treasure those photos forever! Our shoot was scheduled for the first week of December, so I started decorating the house immediately after Halloween. Our tree was up on November 1st! Now is also a great time to start getting holiday decorations before they get too picked over. Hobby Lobby is a great place to get decorations and they typically discount theirs 40–50% right now.

To prepare for the shoot, I came up with a few themes. I knew I wanted pictures in front of our fireplace and Christmas tree, but I also wanted some fun, more candid ones. First off, I styled our kitchen counter with cookie baking supplies, including cookie dough, frosting, and sprinkles. We were able to get lots of photos of our kids decorating/baking Christmas cookies and they turned out so cute!

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We also have a tradition of giving our kids Christmas pajamas every year, so I knew I wanted pictures of them jumping on the bed in their new jammies.

 

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A few other ideas I came up with, but didn’t carry out were:

  1. Pictures on the front porch with snow boots, winter clothes, cute scarves, etc.
  2. Building a snowman as a family
  3. Drinking hot chocolate around the table together
  4. The kids reading Christmas books together

I loved that these pictures were something different than your typical studio holiday family picture. It included our home and some of our traditions and made them so personal. I would highly recommend doing a holiday lifestyle shoot if you can!!

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Photography Credit: Sweet Paislee Pictures

http://www.sweetpaisleepictures.com/