Design “Doula” For a Kitchen/Bath Reno

By | Room Makeovers | 6 Comments

I do a lot of design consulting on the side and the best way I can describe the type of service I do most is a “design doula.” Haha! I swear this will make sense in a second. This scenario is pretty typical—let’s use a kitchen project as an example. A homeowner hires a kitchen/bath company to space plan, order materials and complete the renovation work. They are the professionals and the ones leading the project. And along the way there are so many decisions—grout color, floor tile orientation, lighting placement and more—that the homeowner feels completely overwhelmed with. I get it—there are a ton of questions to answer and they all feel like big, make-or-break decisions. That’s where I come in. Just like a doula in a delivery room, I work with the homeowner on the task (ha!) ahead of them, help them interpret/make sense of the contractor’s questions and ultimately, help take the project to the next level in terms of finishing details, character and more.

All of this to say—I have some awesome before/after photos for you from exactly this type of service. This project hails from Columbus, Ohio—a kitchen/bath renovation in a historic home. The marvelous SemBro Designs did all of the heavy lifting, from the initial design to the actual renovation work. The kitchen had some great character to start from—wood moldings (that we didn’t want to paint!) and a stained glass window. But everything else had to go—the flooring, the lighting, the cabinets, the backsplash… all of it!

Renovation Doula Columbus Kitchen

Let’s just jump right to it, shall we? Here is the after…

Renovation Doula Columbus Kitchen

The two main reasons for the renovation was to 1.) update the space but then 2.) add a half bath to the first level of the house. By reconfiguring the staircase on the opposite wall, they were able to squeeze a decent sized powder room into this space. Awesome.

Renovation Doula Columbus Kitchen

One of the first things I suggested based on the contractor’s renderings was to remove the set of upper cabinets to the right of the stove. Otherwise, the sink/window space felt a little claustrophobic with tall cabinets on either side. Plus, it was the perfect opportunity to bring more dark wood up to the walls, to help balance the dark trim around the floor and windows. The 12″ deep wood shelves are from Smokestack Studios. The depth was important because we wanted to be sure larger plates and bowls could fit easily.

Renovation Doula Columbus Kitchen

Here’s another “before”, this time facing the back of the kitchen, where the future bathroom would go.

Renovation Doula Columbus Kitchen

And the after, with an all-new powder room!
Renovation Doula Columbus Kitchen

I’ll share more about the bathroom, but real quick—those floors! That is faux wood ceramic tile and I absolutely love doing a longer, skinnier tile laid in a herringbone pattern. It took some convincing to go this route (the original plan was to lay them in a brick pattern) and I’m so glad he agreed to shell out the extra cash. (Installing it this way often means more material waste, which means more $$). The herringbone pattern kept an otherwise modern tile choice in the right era.

I cannot remember the source for that barn door, but I remember this one being a hot contender.

Ok, so back to the bathroom. This is perhaps my favorite part of the entire renovation. We went really industrial/masculine in here… and bold! You know the rules—the smaller the bathroom, the bolder it must be! The original thought in here was to do black tile on just 1/3 of the wall, to about a chair rail height. Here is another time I pushed—it was just too small a space to pull something like that off. It would have looked too choppy. So I suggested an entire wall of matte black tile, with black grout.

Renovation Doula Columbus Kitchen

The mirror is the smaller version of what I have in my entryway. And then that sink! Sure, we could have gone with a simple pedestal sink in here but where’s the fun in that? Sinks are one of my favorite ways to add character/an unexpected element, especially in a small bathroom. It’s from this shop. And yes, it was expensive but we balanced that with super affordable floor and wall tile from Home Depot and The Tile Shop. The tiny WC sign is from Rejuvenation. The storage shelf is from Country Corner Goods.

Here’s a look at the entire kitchen/bath space from a new angle, where you can see the washer/dryer stack. One the of challenges in this space was the ceiling! The ceiling had two outdated can lights in weird spots, plus a giant skylight (which was awesome… and is still there!). There wasn’t room in the budget to move the can lights, so we decided to embrace them and convert them to install these black barn lights. I love how it turned out, plus we needed some black to tie into the black countertops and cabinet hardware. If any of you are Lauren Liess fans, I was totally inspired by her kitchen—these are the lights she used in her kitchen renovation in lieu of can lights.

Renovation Doula Columbus Kitchen

Renovation Doula Columbus Kitchen

It was so exciting to be a part of this project. I can’t at all take credit for the major heavy lifting—huge kudos to SemBro Designs for their talents (and for these photos!). And a big ‘ole thanks to the homeowner who was willing to bring me along for the ride (and listened to all of my crazy ideas.)

Now on to the next one! I am taking new clients again in July, so if you need some design doula help, just shoot me an email at emkmay@gmail.com

xo,

emily

 

The Mirror Of My Dreams Becomes A Reality

By | Room Makeovers | 5 Comments

Back in May of 2016, I was in the throws of the entryway makeover. I was on the hunt for a ginormous mirror and stumbled across this one from One Kings Lane. I absolutely loved it, but as I mentioned in my Instagram post (below), it was a little too wide and way too expensive ($450 before taxes and shipping). I put it in my mental “Dream Decor” file in my brain and went on my way.

Fast forward to February of this year. Lo and behold, check out what was awaiting me at our local discount furniture place. Despite it being just short of 5′ tall, I nearly missed it! I walked right past it at first as it was off in the lonely “damaged” corner of the store, with a giant sofa in front of it.

It was pretty banged up, with damaged corners, but the mirror itself looked great and I absolutely loved the gold color of the frame. And did I mention it was huge? Huge things that I can actually afford are hard to come by these days—I just wrote a whole post about living in a house that seems to require big-everything. So yes, I bought it! Not without a little haggling of course. I got it for $140! (Hey, it never hurts to ask and he didn’t seem too offended with my lowball offer. I think the mirror had been there for awhile…)

I tried to bring it home right then, but my attempt to stuff it in the truck of my Honda Accord was laughable. Aaron returned the next day to pick it up, although I had failed to mention that it was absolutely giant and weighed around 80 lbs. Here’s his reaction of that. Oops. 🙂

Now it was time to hang the thing… and where?! I first thought maybe the first floor, just because I hate to hide the pretty mirror away, but Aaron reminded me of another space—the master bedroom. Our master bedroom is on our to-do list for this year (it’s so, so bad), and this mirror is just one piece of the puzzle. I used this picture hanging trick to get it perfectly mounted without measuring, and as luck would have it, we struck studs at both anchor points. To keep it extra secure, we used lag screws (a bolt/screw hybrid) and heavy duty D-rings to hang it.

Zig Zag Dream Mirror in Master Bedroom

Now, back to the damaged corners.

Zig Zag Dream Mirror in Master Bedroom

Zig Zag Dream Mirror in Master Bedroom

The mirror frame is made of a thick fiberboard, wrapped in a thin, gold overlay of some sort. I’d imagine all the transportation and handling of this mirror on its journey from warehouse, to full retail, to discount warehouse left it pretty banged up. These two corners (above) were the worst of it. I didn’t have the perfect solution, but I came up with a pretty good one—Rub ‘n Buff, which is essentially gold-colored wax. I had it leftover from this DIY where I made a simple white mirror look like it had campaign-style bracket on its corners. (I can’t believe that was four years ago!)

Zig Zag Dream Mirror in Master Bedroom

Here’s the after… the gold isn’t a perfect match, but good enough! I also like that the texture of the gold wax is similar to the original finish.

Zig Zag Dream Mirror in Master Bedroom

Zig Zag Dream Mirror in Master Bedroom

It’s helped breathed a little bit of life into the decor of this otherwise boring space… we’re getting there!

Have you had any great bargain finds lately? These are the things that I’ll hold on to forever!

xo,

emily

The Arrival of Otto Richard!

By | The Brothers May | 8 Comments

Otto's Birth Story

Otto Richard May

March 17, 2017

9:07 am

9 lbs 3 oz

21.5″ long

Oh Otto! What a wild ride you have taken us on. Wild, but awesome and blessed and yes, crazy and all of those fun things that happen when you add a newborn to an already chaotic house! We are so happy you are finally here… we’ve been waiting for you!

Otto's Birth Story

The days leading up to Otto’s birthday were full of uncertainty. This whole “wait for baby… who knows when/where I will go into labor” was an entirely new ballgame for me. With the twins, I was on hospital bedrest leading up to their arrival, so I was literally steps away from where I needed to be day and night, surrounded by professionals. But with Otto? Shoot…  I had no idea! I had a silly, irrational fear that I’d get stuck, blocked in by cars on all sides, in a fast food drive thru lane. Or what if it was in the middle of the night? What would we do with the boys?

Otto's Birth Story

But of course, it all worked out. I had been feeling pretty good all day on the eve of his birth, minus some belly discomfort, which I chalked up to my pants being too tight (ha!). I left work a little early to get my hair done… an appointment I never thought I would make being 38w5d along. (By the way, can I just say how awesome it felt to be able to go full term with this kid!?). We finished my hair and as I was signing the credit card receipt, I felt my water break. I knew instantly what it was… and thank goodness I had a long coat on that day.

The nurses took one look at me when I arrived and deadpanned, “Yup, that’s a rupture” and admitted me. I’m glad they were calm, because I wasn’t! I realized about halfway through the triage process that I may have gone to the hospital too soon (you know, these things take awhile) but for whatever reason, we were all convinced it was go time. And it sorta was… in about 16 hours. Aaron showed up 90 minutes later… he had been with the boys waiting for my parents to arrive (they flew down the interstate from Indiana).

I labored throughout that night… all I wanted to do was walk. It was the only thing that felt good. I must have worn a path in the floor, going round and round, with Aaron at my side to lean on when the contractions hit. (Aaron continues to be the best birth coach, ever. Who needs a doula?) Finally, around 6 am, I asked for the epidural. I was about 5-6 cm at this point and ready for some help. There’s some sick part of me that likes to feel the pain, to know the pain, for as long as I can stand it. But then I’m all about some relief so I can focus on the pushing, enjoy the process and be present for his arrival.

Otto's Birth Story

The active labor part was very similar to the twins. Little boy was ready to arrive, because after just a few pushes/minutes, he was here. The relief I felt… that immediate lift of worry/anxiety/questions/uncertainty… was lifted when I saw his beautiful face. The best moments of my life are seeing my boys for the first time, and watching Aaron see our boys too. I loved my doctor… she is all about being present… and I distinctly remember her saying “Look at him!” as he was being born. I didn’t take my eyes off of him for hours. Also, Aaron watched the whole thing this time around and you should have seen his face! A mix between wonderment and pure terror.

Otto's Birth Story

And unlike the twins, I didn’t have to leave my sweet boy there at that hospital. He was by my side always… something you notice when you’ve done the NICU thing in the past. We stayed for two nights after he was born, which I was originally against, but I needed the rest. And I needed time to be skin-to-skin with my boy as we waited for my milk to come in. The big boys came to see us, with my parents, at the hospital on Saturday and it was amazing. Aaron got them each a Big Brother balloon from the gift shop, which was the best distraction for two excited toddlers. Teller and Nixon did so well with him at that first meeting and continue to do so well with little brother. They are loving, yet curious. They touch his nose, eyes, feet… examining them as closely as I did when he first arrived. They could say his name immediately, “Ah-TOE!” and Aaron and I have since adopted the super cute pronunciation.

Otto's Birth Story

Otto's Birth Story

Otto is one-month old already, if you can believe it. I know time will escape us faster than it ever has, so I’ve been trying to stay in the moment and soak up every ounce of this newborn phase. We’re still trying to figure out our routine and getting to know our little man. Right now, my main goal is to make sure everyone feels loved and cared for. The twins and I have special time together each night, just like we’ve always had, whether it’s me reading to them or playing with cars, and that has helped tremendously with the transition.

That’s all for now! Welcome to this world Otto!

xo,

emily