Tennyson on the Quarry- Part 2 A Semi-Custom Ikea Kitchen

When we started this project the kitchen was all white with lower cabinets from Ikea. I personally love an all white kitchen but we really wanted to bring all the beautiful earthy colors in from the granite of the quarry. We also removed the wall of cabinets below to open up the flow of the space.

We removed the cabinets going into the living room to allow for better flow

We removed the cabinets going into the living room to allow for better flow

A Before picture

A Before picture

When we removed the the wall of cabinets we lost much needed storage so we decided to add upper cabinets. Custom cabinets were out of the budget so we went with a blend of off the shelf Ikea cabinet boxes and drawers with custom doors. We had the doors custom made and then sprayed by our painter. While I'll always love full custom cabinets,  Ikea cabinets are by far the best option for someone on budget or with a tight time frame. They will perform better than any other stock melamine cabinet box (what you find at any big box store for both stock and semi-custom options). They use the best quality Blum hinges, offer more size and style options, have by far the best drawer box designs, and offer a wide range of drawer organizers.  A lot of designers and architect I know now spec Ikea cabinets for these reasons.

The new semi custom doors.

The new semi custom doors.

We also added a deeper countertop by the sink for more counter space and a place stools.

The deeper counter top and bar stools. 

The deeper counter top and bar stools. 

One of the biggest challenges about using Ikea cabinets to fit existing layout is the sizing. There are a lot of options but the cabinets still come in set sizes and that can make designing and installing the cabinets a logistical nightmare! Oh, and don't forget the dreaded trip to Ikea!

In mid-coast Maine we are about 4 hours to the nearest Ikea. This makes the trip even more stressful. I won't add my personal shopping drama here, but believe me crazy things can happen.


Sofa/Bench Dining Table Combination

For as long as I can remember I've wanted a sofa in my kitchen. I love the idea of curling up with a glass of wine while someone is cooking for me!

However, I haven't had a large enough kitchen to fulfill that dream so I went with the next best thing- a sofa with my kitchen table. This is a great idea for anyone with a small space. Right now we have an teak bench with a comfortable seat cushion and throw pillows at the table. This is a favorite spot for my kids especially on a chilly morning. They love to sit there wrapped in blankets with their books waiting for their breakfast.  I love it as a spot to linger after a dinner party.

There are lots of options to achieve this look but you do need to be careful selecting sofas that are the right height and depth. I would choose a fairly firm cushion with only one seat cushion (instead of 2 or 3). The top of the cushion should be at 18-19"h which is a standard dining chair height. To me 18" feels best.  If you have a sofa that is a little short you can find new legs on the web that are a little longer. High back sofas tend to work in this application. Vintage camel back sofa are a great fit. I favor narrow arms for extra comfort.

A round table is a great option for this!  I also find this generally works best with small tables. When you have a table designed for 10 a bench or sofa never feels practical to me. I think the people in stuck in the middle can feel, well, stuck!  One option to solve that is to use two matching pieces side by side.  Also, the sofa should be longer than the table.

Here are a few examples of sofa/benches that would work well.

ISO Barrister Bookshelf

I see barrister bookshelves, also known as a lawyer bookcase, at antique stores all the time. Until I really wanted one! I'm hung up on the idea of a barrister bookshelf for a client bathroom. Wouldn't it make a great a linen cabinet? I love the height and scale they usually come in.  It would be the perfect amount ofstorage for towels and toiletries with display on the top. 

Originally design for....you guessed it, Barristers, they have a glass front and each section is movable to allow the barrister to travel with the only the selection of books they needed.


If you see one let me know!

10 Design Questions in 10 Days: Grasscloth for Entry

This is day 2 of our 10 day series 10 Design Questions in 10 Days. You can read the first part here

Q. I'd like to add some wallpaper to our condo and was wondering what you thought. I would like to add the grass wallpaper in our entryway but I think that would make it feel really small and cramped so I'm thinking about wallpapering. Its medium sized entry with tall ceilings. We'd like to keep resale value in mind. 

A. I'm so glad you asked this question. Grasscloth was first popular in the 70's and has seen a huge resurgence in popularity.  Based on your photo and the fact that you'd like to keep resale value in mind I would recommend the grasscloth. It won't make the entry fell cramped but it will bring out the architecture in the entry and add a natural organic elegance.  There are so many styles and colors available but we'll focus on the natural and neutral ones. 

This view has so many good things going for it.The layering, textures and styling is fabulous. Designed by Krista Ny Schwartz from the blog Cloth & Kind (one of my favorites)

Design by Lauren Leiss for a showhouse.

Fresh and clean from Lonny's online magazine.

Doesn't this home look like its been lived in and loved forever? Also by Lauren Leiss

Here are some things to keep in mind when installing grasscloth- It's  a natural material (unless you go with a synthetic version) that can vary greatly in texture and color, usually made from sea grass, reed, arrowroot or jute.  You will see seams in the wallpaper after it is installed so make sure you're ok with that. It doesn't bother me.  It can be delicate the reads and grasses are most often tied together with cotton thread.  I love DIY, but this is usually an installation I would not DIY the grasscloth can be hard to install and is best left to a professional. I've also heard that people with severe grass  allergies may have a reaction to the wallpaper especially during installation because of the dust it can kick up. I'd assume that reaction dies down but if you have allergies do some research. 

When purchasing and measuring take note of the manufactures role size. They can vary in both length and width.

1. Schumacher Sisal  (oatmeal)     2.Thibaut Designs  (Colony Raffia )  3  Allen and Roth from   Lowes - Stripabl e. 4. Allen and Roth  (Brown Grasscloth )    5. Seabrook  (Eastern Exposures)   6.  Design Your walls (AJ168)  .    7. Philip Jefferies (Fine Arrowroot in maple)  8.  Philip Jefferies (Coppermine)   9. Philip Jefferies  (Fine Arrowroot in Khaki) 

1. Schumacher Sisal (oatmeal)    2.Thibaut Designs (Colony Raffia)  3 Allen and Roth from Lowes - Stripable. 4. Allen and Roth (Brown Grasscloth)    5. Seabrook (Eastern Exposures)  6. Design Your walls (AJ168).   7. Philip Jefferies (Fine Arrowroot in maple)  8. Philip Jefferies (Coppermine)  9. Philip Jefferies (Fine Arrowroot in Khaki) 

A here is a fun imagine to show all the colorways grasscloth can come.  Good luck with your project. If you have any design questions you'd like answered please email me at info@jessietobiasdesign.com  

Design Question: Bathroom Sconce

I've been getting a few inquiries with specific design questions from the readers of my blog so I thought it would be fun to do a series I'm calling it 10 Design Questions in 10 days. Each day I'll pick another reader's question to answer. Here's the first! 

Q. I can't stand the bathroom sconces I have but I'm not sure where to find ones that look cool/unique, and yet also provide good lighting. Please help. 

A. It's not possible for me to give you a specific recommendation without seeing your space, but here are some guidelines to help you  choose your bathroom lighting. 

Lets start with the how to layer your lighting properly.  In the bathroom you need a combination of overhead lighting, usually in the form of a recessed or flush mounted fixture, and task lighting, usually a sconce located above the vanity mirror or a pair of sconces on either side of the mirror.  Sconces on the the side of the mirror are always my first choice because they will light your face evenly and are less harsh than one above you (no shadows on your face). If you must have one above the mirror it should be centered on the mirror and the faucet. It should be installed around 6-8" above your mirror.  Side sconces should be located at 64" to the center of the fixture above the finished floor and equal distance on each side from the mirror but not outside the width of the vanity (and at least 28" apart). Unless you are installing them in the mirror.  Are you still with me?  

Next lets talk illumination/wattage. If you're lighting a full bath you should use fixtures that provide 60-100 watts of illumination (or a 20-25  watt LED). A powder room can handle a little less wattage. Remember these are just guidelines. rules can always be broken!  OK, enough of the details lets look at some one arm  fixtures! 

There are so many great choices out there not only online but through your local reasources as well. You can see more lighting inspiration on my Pinterest lighting board (Here).  I hope this helps! If you have question you'd like answered email me info@jessietobiasdesign