These Kitchens Give Me a Woody

It's almost Valentine's Day, the most stupidly expensive overhyped day of the year. Well just between you and me, I don't need roses or fancy chocolates or build-a-bears in pink tutus to get me all hot and bothered. I need wood. Big strong wood. And I'm not talking cherry cabinets and glossy glazed finishes, here. I'm talking 'bout this:

Shut your mouth!

Or actually, please don't. Because we need to discuss the viagrability of kitchen wood.

Everything about this kitchen says elegant, thoughtful, and practical. Probably those aren't the precise words that come to mind when you want to get the sex on, but maybe "tactile" moves us closer to that end. These kitchens just seem like they would feel good.

To cook in.

I'm kind of obsessed. I like wood with white counters, I like wood with black counters. I even like wood with wood counters. I would like wood in my kitchen.

But I'm more than a little afraid it cannot be. I investigated the gel stain some of you suggested and it appears to kind of sit on the surface of wood, sort of like transparent paint. I don't know how I feel about that. Maybe I'm totally delusional about the quality/style of my cabinets, but what I reallllly want is a bare, matte finish -- something that looks more like old wood and less like plastic impregnated woodishness.

This is super gorge. Someday our floors might even look like this. Of course those cabinets are repurposed from an Edwardian era storefront so it's not like this can ever happen in our kitchen. Except maybe the hardware.

Sorry about the dumb picture, but I think this cabinet situation is about the best we could hope for.

What I need to know is, should I even go down this road? Is it worth it? Is gel stain the only viable option or should I actually take on the possibly sissyphean strip/stain/wax triumvirate?

I love the idea of durable, touchable, delicious wood, but am I headed for heartbreak? Is this going to triple our work load only to look crappy with our dumb cabinets?

honey oak kitchen cabinets


No cheesy iphone filter can disguise that horror, so I didn't even bother. They really are that orange.

Would I just be better off stealing Bailey McCarthy's kitchen?

And the rest of her house while I'm at it?

Help me out, people. Lower cabinet finish/color is the last decision to make before we tear this mother down.

I promise no more kitchen posts until we actually do stuff.

Also I am hoping to put up some house tour action next week.

Please don't leave me in my time of need.

[pinterest kitchens]

Leopard Rug Update

For President's Day my leopard rug arrived. Thank you, Obama (and Overstock). So the rug is pretty -- it's by Safavieh and looks to be of decent quality. Better Half Ben rolled it out for me and three seconds later Ike and the cat were clawing and break dancing all over it (cat = clawing and Ike = break dancing, although I would prefer for the opposite to have occurred), so I guess it's plush enough.

What it's not is the right size.

I took this picture at night so the colors are all wonktacular, but maybe you can see the problem with this space. It's really long and narrow, and the 6x9 rug isn't working... I think. I could shove it up under the credenza, but then it would leave this awkward open space on either side where I had planned to plunk down a pair of matching chairs.

For everyone interested in buying the same rug, here's a daytime shot that better shows the caramel/tan colors:

I should really straighten up my furniture before I take pictures, right? Oh well.

So, what do you think? Can it work here, or should I move it to the front room and keep shopping? I'd like to maintain an open space in front of the console table so that I can roll out the benches beneath it for seating.

As a reminder, here's some newborn baby pictures of how the room is laid out:

First of all: don't panic! The fireplace has been painted and the tv is better situated (I plan to reveal it this week). The brown dining table is now in the dinette area (it looks terrible -- new dining table is on the list), and the black credenza is against the back wall. The open area between the credenza and console is where I plan to hold play convention 2012-2040 (holy shit I am going to be old when these kids are grown). I just need a rug to mark out the space.

It would be so easy to buy a crazy 4x10 or 5x11 Persian rug off Ebay, except I already have a red Persian rug (which I like) in the room, and I can't have two, right?

I was thinking I might could get away with a Nain rug (they tend to be blue), because it would be different yet similar to the one I already have... I don't know anymore. Rug overload.

What do you think? Leopard where I have it or leopard in the front room?

What kind of rug should I get if I move the leopard?

Or should I totally reorganize the entire living area?

Fireplace pictures to follow.

Wallpaper sample pictures to follow.

Damn I have a lot of things to do.

I (Don't) Know What Boys Like

It's been an eventful, loooooooooong weekend at Casa Erin. Our brand new cast iron sink arrived shattered in pieces, my in laws came to assemble cabinets and sew seat covers for us (yay!), and we found out that we're having a boy. Oh, boy! Now, somehow -- despite my initial instincts -- I had convinced myself I was having a girl, so this was a little shocker. And I hope you won't think I'm a terrible person for saying this, but it's kind of scary. I mean, I know what girls like. We like unicorns and rainbows, purple and pink, and we like glitter. Sparkles rule! But growing up with two brothers has taught me little about boys, except that the rubber wheels on Tonka trucks get excellent traction in long hair, and being drenched by a bucket of cold water is not a nice way to wake up in the morning. Decor for boys? Complete mystery.

For months I have been stuffing the guest room/nursery with thrifty toys, snippets and remnants from other projects, hoping the whole mixture will magically congeal into a happy baby wonderland. Now, I'm confused. Really confused.

baby deer

Will he appreciate my fondness for precious baby deer, other than to one day see them as dinner?

deer pillow

My dad is seriously going to jump straight out of his Carhart pants when he realizes we're having a boy. He's already got plans to buy baby hunting outfits and tiny rifles. I don't suppose they make pink camo?


And I'm guessing my frilly scalloped pillow shams with mystery messages (anyone speak Vietnamese?) will have to go. I think boys like dragons, but I don't think they like ruffles... unless I get really lucky and have a baby Miles Redd.

lion nursery

Maybe my favorite vintage piggy bank will make the cut. But I don't know about these guys:

creepy clowns

I think that coulrophobia is probably gender neutral. The little guy is actually pretty cute, but the fleshy one looks like he hasn't shaved for days and may be hiding a bottle of ripple behind his back.

marbro lamp

I wonder if my own little guy will appreciate the stellar deal I got on this gigantic Seguso for Marbro lamp ($25 at a thrift store). Or will it just end up all broken pearlescent glass, smashed into a hot mess by an epic Big Wheels accident?

Anybody want to buy a lamp?


Will he be soothed by the sounds of my Furby, or will he attack it with a hammer, ostensibly to figure out where the sounds come from? Not that I've ever seen one of my precious, precocious brothers do such a thing... (RIP, Happy Apple)

stuffed animals

I've been saving these since I was a teenager. Surely everyone loves monkeys and Pikachu? And Kermit? No one likes Miss Piggy, not even girls.



When he's older, will he enjoy the books I have so conscientiously selected for guests? Perhaps I should warn him that some are much better than others.

Or maybe it's best that he find out on his own.

While I struggle with tiny, inconsequential matters -- like how to raise a boy when I myself am completely wang-free -- I thought I'd ask you wonderful readers for ideas on how to decorate the nursery. Here's a few overview images to set the stage:




Don't mind the rolled up carpet and stacked piles of art in the corner; renovations have caused a fair amount of deco shuffling. We'd like to keep the bed and dresser in here, but I was thinking about moving the tall chest into the closet and putting this crib in this corner, so I can easily see it from the door.

This is the only room in the house that still retains its original band-aid beige wall paint (just say no to flesh toned paint!!!), so I definitely plan to paint over it. I was thinking of doing pale gray with black on the window wall, but now I'm thinking of gray all over and painting a colorful super graphic on the wall opposite the bed. I love this post that Molly over at Designer's Brew did for a chill, gender neutral baby room. How would pale gray, aqua, tangerine, and maybe a hint of tomato red look together? Plus black, white and gold as neutrals.

Don't worry -- I will be editing the accessories. Severely. (If you live in Austin, stay tuned for garage sale info!) But, if I can, I think I'd like to keep this guy in the room:


He might just make up for losing the deer.

Ok, readers -- especially those of you with boys -- any sage decorating advice for a first time, shell shocked, mother to be?

And for everyone who perishes the thought of decorating a nursery, not to fear! I'll be back on Thursday with expert paint advice in our very first Ask Sanders column.

But, wouldn't you know it -- all the rooms will be blue.