Month: January 2016

Design Inspiration: Freestanding Kitchen Islands

The other day, I posted {THIS} picture on Facebook, which got me thinking about freestanding kitchen islands.  While not all kitchens are built with islands, some have the space to accommodate one and a freestanding island is the perfect solution!  It gives you move working surface and storage without requiring a remodel.  Win-win!  And you should think of it as a piece of furniture, meaning that it doesn’t have to match your existing kitchen cabinets in terms of color or style.  This means that you can update the look and feel of your kitchen by adding to it, as opposed to changing it.

{via Better Homes & Gardens}
{via Better Homes & Gardens}


There are so many options available for freestanding islands in terms of size, shape, and storage and just because your kitchen might now have one now, doesn’t mean you can’t add one, even if space is limited.  You can repurpose something else into an island, buy one ready-made, or even make one yourself!




Just because something wasn’t intended for use as an island doesn’t mean you can’t use it as one!  A narrow table, an old dresser, or even a vintage sideboard can all work as a kitchen island so long as they are properly sealed.  One of my favorite freestanding islands is from designer Annie Brahler.  She added rear cabinets and a marble top to a vintage demilune cabinet to create a unique and charming center island to this gorgeous kitchen!

Annie Brahler Kitchen
{via House Beautiful}


{via Country Living}
{via Country Living}
{via Tumblr}
{via Tumblr}
DIYShowOff Kitchen Island
{via The DIY Show Off}



There are some great retail options if you’re looking for a kitchen island that is done and ready to put right into place.  Here’s a look at some of my favorites.

{via Williams Sonoma}
{via Williams Sonoma}
{via Williams Sonoma}
{via Crate and Barrel}
{via Crate and Barrel}
{via Restoration Hardware}
{via Restoration Hardware}



If you’re handy, making your own island is also an option.  Plus, this gives you the ability to make it to your exact specifications!

Jenna at Rain on a Tin Roof has a great option if your space is limited.  You can check out her full tutorial {HERE}.

{via Rain on a Tin Roof}
{via Rain on a Tin Roof}


Whitney from Shanty2Chic has an awesome tutorial for creating a Pottery Barn inspired island!  Find the details {HERE}.

{via Shanty2Chic}
{via Shanty2Chic}


If you don’t want to start completely from scratch, Courtney at Golden Boys & Me has a fantastic tutorial for an IKEA Billy bookcase hack.  Such a great idea!

{via Golden Boys and Me}
{via Golden Boys & Me}




So if you could use a little more storage in your kitchen, consider adding an island that fits your needs and reflects your style!


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TV Gallery Wall Mini-Makeover

What better way to chase away the Winter blues than to freshen things up a bit!  With all of the Christmas decor taken down and put away, the house can feel a little bit bare.  One way to overcome this without breaking the bank is to just make small tweaks and as always, start by shopping your house.


TV Gallery Wall Mini-Makeover

My TV gallery wall has been in place for a while now and after taking apart its Christmas look {you can see it HERE}, I decided to move some things around.  I actually intended to make updates to this wall way back in Spring, but got so sidetracked with other projects that I tackle it until now.

You might recall that when we first moved our TV to this wall in our family room, it just looked bare.



I created a gallery wall around it a while ago {post HERE} and although my current changes are minor, I wasn’t ready to overhaul the look just yet, but I still wanted to freshen it up a bit.  I was too lazy busy to change the entire layout, so I simply used the existing layout and just moved a few nails to accommodate different sized frames.  Here’s how it looks today.



The idea for changing up my gallery wall started on my trip to Europe last Spring.  I was obsessed with the architecture and attention to detail and fell in love with the blue metal address numbers that are used in France.  When I saw some for sale, I grabbed them right away and decided to add those to the wall near the top to fill a gap that had been bothering me.  I’m sure mine are reproductions, but you can find some amazing vintage ones on Etsy like these from LaBelleRuche.

Vintage House Numbers from LaBelleRuche
{via LaBelleRuche on Etsy}



If you followed me last Spring then you’ll already know I took a gazillion photos while in Europe.  My picture of Notre Dame is one of my favorites because it was one of the few places I got to visit with Hubby {he was otherwise working most of the time}.  I swapped out the art that was in the top center frame for my picture of Notre Dame.

TIDBITS&TWINE-Notre Dame Spring 2015


Tip: It’s sometimes less expensive to buy fully framed artwork at a discount store like HomeGoods or Marshalls than it is to buy a frame at another store.  And if you don’t like the image in the frame, change it out for something else!  Simply cut three sides of the paper so and fold it back to access the artwork.  Then just take out the existing art and replace it with an image of your choosing just as would with any other store-bought frame.

I also collected some color prints of places and scenes that were memorable to me, so I decided to put those on the wall as well.



And while there’s no particular reason why I needed newspaper images of animals wearing diamond print sweaters, I just couldn’t pass them up when I saw them in the store.  They’ve been hanging out in my family room for a few months while I thought about where they might find a more permanent home, and so I ultimately decided to replace two frames on the wall with my new dog and fox artwork, whom I’ve named Willy and Chauncey, respectively.



Tip: Always decorate with things you LOVE and your home will always feel right to you {even if it means you come home with animals wearing argyle}!


And last but not least, I finally made use of the mailbox doors that I bought long ago at the antique fair.  Do you remember these???



The glass had been painted so that people couldn’t look into one another’s mailboxes, but I used a bit of nail polish remover and some manpower {or womanpower as the case may be} to take off the paint.  With clear glass, don’t you think they make adorable vintage picture frames!  I haven’t yet decided what to frame so for now, I just added decorative paper to each one to play off the patterns in the animal sweaters.



I’m always changing up the vignettes that sit on top of my media console but currently, one side is dedicated to glass.  I loved the feathers under the cloche that I used in my Fall Home Tour and used them again along with abandoned eggs from my finch, Lola.




Updating your home doesn’t require a renovation or major project – sometimes, just a little tweaking is all that is needed to give a room a fresh look and feel.



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Hardwood Floors – Refinish or Replace?

Hardwood floors have a great timeless appeal and add value to a home upon resale.  They are, however, expensive to install, although in theory, hardwood floors will never need to be replaced and won’t need to be refinished for many, many years, making them a great option for today’s homes.

But what if you have hardwood floors that aren’t your style or are worn and tired looking?  Should you simply refinish or replace them altogether?


This is the discussion we’ve been having in our home for the last month, so I’m sharing our decision-making process with you today including the factors that we took into consideration, as well as the pros and cons of each.




Factors to Consider


1. Is Refinishing an Option?

It’s important to note that not all wood floors can be refinished.  The refinishing process requires that the floors be sanded bare so that they can accept wood stain.  If the floors have been refinished several times before, or if they are thin engineered floors, there might not be enough thickness left to withstand the sanding process.  Usually, though, solid hardwood floors can be refinished 5-6 times without any issue.


The floor’s existing quality will also play a role as to whether it can be refinished.  If the floor has been badly damaged, is warped, full of termites, has structural issues, etc. refinishing might not be an option.  On the other hand, scratches, dings, dents, basic wear and tear, or even a few boards that need to be replaced, are easy issues to fix during the refinishing process and shouldn’t stop you from refinishing if that is your goal.


2. Cost

Cost is a big factor in the decision to refinish or replace.  Refinishing a floor is almost always substantially less than replacing it because replacing involves additional costs for demolition, new wood, and installation.  I received estimates for both options and was surprised that refinishing cost 1/4 the price of new floors.  The most economical approach to updating your flooring will always be to refinish, versus replace.


3. Time

While refinishing is less expensive, it takes a lot more time to do compared to replacing.  Refinishing is a messy and smelly process, despite efforts for dust containment and low VOC products.  The refinishing process can take 4-5 days the majority of which you cannot walk on the floors.  Obviously, this make living in a home during the refinishing process almost impossible.  Replacing the floor, on the other hand, takes much less time and if you’re using a prefinished flooring, you can walk on it just as soon as it’s installed!


4. Look & Style

While updating the color of existing wood floors can make a world of difference in their appearance, refinishing cannot change the basic look and style of the floor.  If you are unhappy with the species of wood, the width of the wood planks, or the direction the flooring runs, you’ll need to replace.  For example, 2 1/4″ oak is currently out of fashion in favor of wide plank flooring, which tends to help make a room look larger.

One other aesthetic issue to consider are gaps.  Small gaps can be repaired with refinshing, but large areas will require new boards to be put down which will increase the cost.  If you have a significant number of gaps to cover, you might need to replace.

For example, the previous owners of my home who installed the wood floors did a very big NO-NO!  They had the new wood floors put down WITHOUT removing the baseboards.  Why is this an issue?

  1. The height of the baseboards is cut in half since the bottom have is now essentially underneath the floor, which negates the whole point of a baseboard.  This happens most with new floors that are thicker than the old.
  2. You cannot get a clean finish where the floor and the baseboards meet, leaving a gap along the edge.  The easiest way to deal with this gap is to add a small piece of trim {known as a Quarter Round} to the bottom of the baseboard to hide the gap.

I removed the heater vent so you can see exactly what’s happening beneath my floors and the issues that are caused when you install new floors without removing baseboards…



Refinishing my floors will improve their current look, but even after I replace the baseboards, I’ll still be left with gaps because the floors were essentially cut too short.  The most economical fix will be to install Quarter Round again.


5. Return on Investment

Whether you’ll recoup your money really depends on your existing floors, the area in which you leave, the price range of your home, how many linear feet you’ll be updating, etc. so this is something each individual needs to take into account when deciding whether to refinish or replace.  A new floor might greatly improve the appearance of your home’s interior, but whether you’ll get a good return on investment will depend on the factors mentioned above.




  • Less expensive
  • Provides an instant color update and/or restores it to its original glory


  • More time-consuming
  • Won’t fix structural issues





  • Less time-consuming
  • Ability to get the exact look you want



  • More expensive



Assuming your existing wood floors are able to be refinished, the real debate comes down to whether the desire to fix any aesthetic issues outweighs the additional cost of replacing.  If not, then refinish is a great option.


In my own home, we’ve decided to refinish our existing floors because I’d rather take the difference in cost and apply that money toward updating something else in my home, like the master bath.  For me, that will generate a better return on investment and while the refinishing won’t provide me with the wide plank flooring I love, I still think it will give me the look I’m after.  With any luck, we’re starting this project mid-February so I’ll keep you posted!


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