Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Home Remodeling, Graduating Kids and Life!

Hello  I've been meaning to write a little more about life and some thoughts about decorating. I'm kind of emptying the contents of my head here, so I understand if you click away early.

Things are always busy in the springtime, but this year exceptionally so as both my boys are graduating -one from 8th grade and the oldest from high school. I can hardly believe it, but yesterday caps and gowns were handed out and it really hit home for me. I'm not sure I'm ready for this next stage!

Life has been a whirlwind as my dad and I finally got my grandmother's home sold after a year of cleaning it out. Amazingly it sold within a week thanks to the talents of my dear friend Gail and her husband Stephen who managed to turn it into something unbelievably pretty with just paint, carpets, refreshing the details and staging.

Gail has an eye for this and it's part of her service when selling a house. Honestly, I couldn't be more shocked it turned out as well as it did. It was a huge burden off my dad and I as we got multiple offers and a lot more than asking which helps as it will fund my grandmother's care. Our next step is to find grandma a place to call her own that has more services and meals. At age 98 she was still doing everything for herself and has finally agreed to more help so she can enjoy life and we don't have to worry she'll fall or leave the stove on.

My darling grandma Jody.

My 8th grader Griffin is excited to be heading to high school. How that can be happening already I do not know. Our oldest, Jackson hoped to go to college in Northern Cal and as the schools here are seriously impacted, it's been a challenge. Everyone from this area has fantastic grades and accolades, so no matter what he's done, it seems not enough for California schools. He's gotten into some he's not sure about and the ones he loves he is on a waitlist for. We are still not sure what he will chose. Making sure to pay and sign up for grad night, senior ball, graduation tickets, 8th grade dance, Great America trips, rent tuxedos, making a senior memory board and visiting more colleges has consumed all my brain capacity. I just pray I don't drop the ball on something. I've got both a paper and electronic calendar in case and am sometimes scared to look at it in the morning!

Hard to believe these are my babies.

Besides all this I am finally getting rolling on revamping our home and garden. You know that feeling that your home isn't living up to it's potential? We've been here over five years and though we adore our house, it needs some updates. I've really been in holding pattern on this as we carefully considered how much we want to spend. With college coming for both boys pretty fast we want to make good decisions, but we also know this is the time to do it if we are ever going to. I think your home is your nest and it's always worth working on. It should be your sanctuary.

One of the issues is the house needs a better flow between the kitchen and dining. A wall needs to be taken out or partially removed.

 This is the wall that has to go..

My kitchen in it's natural state!

At the same time the roomy kitchen may need a better spot for people to gather and the small peninsula we have is a bit small. I wonder if we should make an island? We have to replace our greenhouse windows which are falling apart, and at the same time may reconfigure the kitchen a bit. I absolutely want to change out the granite counters for marble and add some open shelving. I'd like to move the frig to the place the ovens are and add a big range where the current cook top is. I just want a classic look though that won't seem dated in 5 years. I'm thinking some combination of wood/ marble...

Are these all not gorgeous? I want to preserve my cabinets, but add some new elements. Love drawers vs, cabinets and these soft grey colors and pedant lights are all beautiful.

So you know how remodeling becomes a slippery slope? We also need and want to replace the wood floors in the house and add wood where there is old carpet. The kitchen floor is beyond refinishing. It may even be more affordable to get all new pre-finished wide plank wood floors than refinish the very old wood here. At the same time there are two funky fireplaces that are on opposite sides of the same wall, but surprisingly not back to back.

This is one of my fireplaces which is classic. The other is white brick.

They are on the wall I need partially removed so I am thinking of replacing all of it with one two-sided fireplace that might look something like this..

There are a lot of good points to this home. It has a terrific living room with built-ins, and a good front house layout. We love our court and our yard. I just want to add to the enjoyment of our home without changing the charm. The very generic look remodels I see now is something I want to avoid. I like quirky, and I'm hoping with just with a few tweaks it will be all it is and a bit better. One thing I really care about is choosing quality materials for the updates done. That is always worth paying for and goes a long way making your house look and feel wonderful.

Our front door and entrance needs updating and that leads me to the curb appeal. Right now it has zilch!

We were forced to remove this beautiful, hut huge Sequoia from the front yard last year and it left a terrible hole. After that we knew we had to relandscape as the porch was lifted up and almost crooked due to the tree roots. The steps to the house were the same. It all has to come out so we are finally getting a new patio and we designed a mid-century kind of walkway with offset steps. We also are adding an olive tree which I have always wanted. Next to that will be gravel and native plants and still a small bit of lawn. Sort of like this..

I am trying to keep to what the house was. Cement with a small border is all I wanted as pavers or pressed concrete are a bit trendy for the style of this ranch home. Our house also has a very funky front. One side is stucco. One side has vertical boards. There is rock on one side too. I joke to my husband maybe our house was the model to look at and choose your options for your facade back when these were built in 1965. Lol. I want to match the boards so both sides look the same, keep the rock, and paint the whole house a off white or cream with oversized black lantern lights and add a sage green or a very light blue door with a big window. Some ideas I'm liking..

 This color Colonial Verdigris by Ben Moore is wonderful with white or off-white.

Wonderful door, but I'd do without the mullions.

Love this color combo and the lanterns!

Our backyard has an interesting pool that includes a lap lane, but the plants needed some TLC. After firing my usual mow and blow gardeners, I managed myself for a while and had my kids mow. The upkeep was too much though with all the plants, trimming etc. I was spying on a guy who did the neighbors and spent hours at her home lovingly tending roses, using a broom and other things you never see gardeners here do. I finally hired him and slowly we are transforming my backyard to it's former glory. When I bought the house many of the plants had died and we are replanting vines and redoing the drip and the borders. I'm hoping by summer it will look swell again. We put in natives like lavenders and such and love the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds they bring. My goal is to have all lavender over the pool edge. Kind of like this..

We have brick and the lavender will hang over the edge more. Is this beautiful or what? via Anthony Paul Landscape Design. I'd hire them, but they are in the U.K.

I also replaced some older yard furniture with outdoor wicker and I love it.

My yard before the paintings were put in.

 I like these 'cozy chairs' as they are called because I can move them in any configuration. I was thinking a sectional, but for the size of my yard this gives me more options. I couldn't believe the prices of yard furniture. So many of the sectionals were in the many thousands. I found this set at Orchard Supply and it was on sale at a much lower cost and is quality. Honestly as nice as Restoration is I don't believe some of the prices warrant that much better of a product. Some people need to have name brands, but have confidence and look around there are high quality options for much less -and you can use the money you save for a nice vacation!

Speaking of vacations we just pooled all our frequent flier miles and are planning a family trip to Switzerland, Germany, Austria and a few days in London. I have no idea what we will do, but I know Munich, Vienna and Salzburg are on our list. My husband and kids want to take the Chocolate Train to Gruyere. Does that sound great or what? Seriously, that's a real thing you can do! 

Do any of you have any good hotel or other recommendations for these areas? We've been to Germany before yet know less about Austria and Switzerland planning. 

I love to hear your home thoughts and idea. My wheels are spinning. I've been studying the book Habitat by Lauren Liess. She's one of my favorite designers right now. Her blog is great too if you're a design junkie like me. Her look is a very hip mix of natural materials yet a modern and almost eclectic aesthetic I really like.

A room in her last home is a great example of Lauren's kind of look. This is cozy, yet chic and natural. 

Can you believe I almost took a part time job starting this month? It was a great opportunity, but I decided I just couldn't make it work now without having a breakdown. My father thinks I am nuts and he is right. Maybe next year.

Thanks for made it to the end!


p.s I really truly am still working on the Hawaii post! It's almost done.

Images mine and via Pinterest.


  1. Kim so many good things going on! First of all I have to say that I adore your sense of design and style. Everything you want to do to your home, this is exactly what I would do. As you know we renovated our entire house in 2015 and it has been so worth it. The work we did in our garden is just gorgeous too, I think those spaces deserve the same attention the indoors receives, and we can only use our terrace from May to October! Gosh love the lavender around the pool. A terrace in Provence is always my inspiration for my garden too and I plant lots of lavender even here in my cold climate.
    Like you my youngest is graduating from grade 8, oh busy times. And our oldest is graduating from University with his physics degree, and starting grad school (Masters Engineering) and starting a Real Job with an engineering firm (he'll be going to grad school part time for 3 years and working 35 hours a week, he's a young man with big plans). He's also moving into a beautiful condo with his girlfriend, and he's ecstatic about his new awesome kitchen, that's my boy.
    Our older daughter is going to Germany this summer to immerse herself in the language, she needs 5 languages for grad school which she starts next year... she'll be travelling to all the places you'll be! Oh boy I have to tell her about the chocolate train, that sounds like a dream.
    How sweet is your Grandma? My own mother-in-law is at the end right now and we are spending as much time as we can sitting with her and visiting my father in law. Hard time for the family but sticking together makes it all okay.
    I just loved this update and I look forward to seeing the changes you make in your home. Good luck with everything you have going on and I'm with you a list is key!

    1. Dani, Love you for reading all this. Your home and all you have done inspired me to no end! I love the quality of what you chose and your kitchen. The best part is you seem to really enjoy and use your home so much. That is what I want too.

      Wow so exciting about your oldest! he sounds like he is on his way and knows what he wants. That must be such a good feeling as a parent to know he's on the right path for him and loving it! I had no idea you had two at that age. Your daughter sounds amazing as well and so cool learning all those languages. Maybe she'll have some tips for us traveling there!

      I am so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. We are all dealing with these things at our age right? I think being with them as much as you can is everything isn't it? You guys sound wonderful.

      Take care Dani and thanks for being a sounding board about this life stuff! I admire you so much and appreciate your perspective on it all. xoxo Kim

    2. Gosh thanks Kim! :)
      You know the thing about my older two is that I was so young when I had them, 22 when I had my son, still in Uni, unplanned pregnancy... but married the father thank goodness because then I had my older daughter when I was 24, then I was a single mum two kids and STILL in Uni (took me 9 years to finish my degree). It freaks out my kids so much now that they are the age I was when I had them, it kind of lights a fire under their butts actually, they often say the stuff they are doing is not difficult compared to the situation I was in at their age.
      And the time really just flies by, I remember like it was yesterday the day Michael graduated grade 8. XOX

  2. Lots of great ideas! For garden design I recommend Tara Dillard's blog and books. For house and home Maria Killam's blog is one of the best out there. She has great ideas for a timeless kitchen.

    1. Thanks so much Jenny! I will check those out.

  3. I would definitely wait on the part time job until next fall....get through all of the graduations and summer travels before you start thinking about that. Remodeling will seriously become your part time job. So many fun things going on right now, but so bittersweet about the boys, right?! I agree about the whole CA college issue....they are losing out on alot of great kids like your son. You know I could go on and on about this issue. He will do great wherever he goes because he is a great kid with a wonderful family! Your grandma does not look 98! Go grandma! You have some good genes, Kim! Love all of your remodeling ideas and you have great taste! I'm sure your husband is nervous! Your summer trip sounds fabulous and I can't wait to hear more about it! A great time to head back to Europe with your oldest graduating from high school. A nice way to celebrate the graduations. Look forward to seeing you soon ! xo

    1. Thanks so much April! You are very sweet. I'm looking forward to seeing you and catching up on all you are up to as well! You are so right about a job. Crazy right now. xo

  4. I hope your boy gets good news on the waitlist front. College admissions has become such a dreadfully pressurized experience. And how fun to redo your kitchen etc.! I've been trying to get my house up to date, over this last year, and I'm still working on it. Thanks for the new blog recommendation, her style looks very refined but natural. Nice.

    1. Thanks so much Lisa! Yes check out Lauren's site!

  5. Enjoyed reading your updates! You have a lot going on! Your grandma looks great! Glad that you are looking for a place where she'll be able to enjoy life more!

    Kids do grow up so fast! Our older son graduated from high school six years ago, and it felt very unreal. Definitely an emotional time. I hope your son will end up at one of the schools he prefers. Great photos of your boys - then and now - by the way!

    Enjoy your home remodeling adventures! Looking forward to updates!

    1. Andrea wow I didn't know your son was that old. Yes you must know it's going way too fast. Thanks so much.

  6. So flattered that I share a name with your gorgeous Grandmother!
    Love this post, all the things that have occupied us for years! LOL.
    I am loving your home as it is! and so envious of your pool, it just simply makes a backyard to see that slice of vacation right there.
    I too love that pale shade of teal-blue.
    Re the college stuff: best of luck! You have awesome kids with incredible parents and values and they will always do well, wherever they go!
    I confess I have not been absorbed into the college process with the exuberance of my friends. I suppose I am of the mind that they will do well after college anyway, that it can help with the first job but after that...its their hard work and personality. Maybe I'm deluded but I've seen too many who've been to Ivy leagues who can't work with people and just don't do as well as expected...

    1. Jody- you two would get on! Well thanks about the pool. Wish I could live in your home. It's so amazing and inspiring. I loved your tips for what to choose in your home.

      I totally agree with you on school stuff. Jackson hasn't had a counselor and has been doing it himself. We wanted this to be his thing. What he does with his degree I think will matter more than where he goes. More people need to think this way though. Too much pressure to go to the right schools. It's silly. Some of the new grads in the workforce cannot even do their jobs, have no people skill, but degrees from prestigious schools. This is the schools favoring those with high GPAs. They are getting what they deserve- kids who have figured how to get grades, but can't function in other aspects of life.

  7. Knightsbridge Hotel in London! A fabulous boutique hotel that is decorated beautifully and centrally located. We have stayed there twice and adore it. Thank you for all your help with SF accommodation recommendations in the past!
    From Joanne

    1. Thanks so much Joanne! I will check it out. I am glad I was able to help with the SF hotels! Thanks for letting me know.

  8. Your home is lovely and I love American houses so I am a bit biased.

    The process of selling and clearing out is so symbolic of the life step but at least now it is done and settled agian. Your grandmother is lovely!

    I say if in doubt get lavender - I have pots of lavender for the bees - they love it so.

    In London - I say get a air bnb - for half the price you get so much space!

    Vienna is just so darn underrated and I must say I loved it but it doesn't have the same popular film references so people related to it differently. But you have to go to the Schonbrunn palace - it is one of my favourite royal homes anywhere! xx

  9. NO WONDER.............sounds like your moving along!LOVE your kitchen with ALL that LIGHT!
    Everything will FALL into PLACE.
    Adore your picks for a new front door..............
    Keep TREADING WATER............there will come a moment when you can RELAX!

  10. Congrats on the sale of your Grandma's home, Kim! I know that has been such a huge project for you and your dad this year. Hard to believe your boys are both graduating this spring. My nephews are the same 4 year spread as yours and it made for a very busy season a few years ago. Love your pics for kitchen and front door finishes. It's fun to freshen it all up but keep some of the charm of your lovely home. It's raining like crazy here today (purple rain?).
    Have a fantastic weekend!

  11. Nice post Kim! I am not good with designing and such, so I look forward to your updates on what you decide. I agree that name brands are not always the best. I need to feel like I am getting my money's worth and often don't get that from name brands. From the photos I have seen, your place is already quite lovely. I do like that green door, it feels fresh! I am so glad that everything has worked out well for your Grandma's place. Feeling mighty jealous of your European excursion!! Kelley

  12. I'm so glad your Grandmother's house sold. She looks bright as a button. You do have a lot of excitement going on. Let's squeeze in lunch soon. I want to hear all about your upcoming trip. I've always wanted to visit Switzerland.
    Xxx Jennifer

  13. Kim,

    What a wonderful post! It was like I was sitting and having coffee with you, and you were updating me on everything that's been going on! I love your inspiration pics for your kitchen, and I think it will be great when you get that wall out. Also, when I refinished my real hardwood floors four years ago, we decided not to spend the money adding them to the living room (there is carpet there) and I so, so regret that! Also, refinishing real wood is hardly ever as expensive as putting in the new pre-fab ones so I would encourage you to check it out. Either way, I say put wood anywhere and everywhere you can afford it! I wish I would've done it when I had the chance. On another note, Lauren Leiss seems like the perfect muse/inspiration designer for you! She has just the right amount of classic with quirky, I love her style. Keeping her in your head as you are doing all this will steer you in the right direction!

    Good luck with the graduation and all the festivities that go with it! And enjoy it! My son's graduation was truly one of the best nights of my life. Very special:)


  14. Oh, and I've never been to Switzerland but just went to London and Germany and liked both of my hotels very much. Email me if you want the info!