Thursday, September 21, 2017

Shaker Design Inspiration

I've always been a huge fan of Shaker design and Shaker architecture. Every time I took a visit to Shakertown, or Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky--not far from where I grew up--I would come away inspired and in love with the beauty scattered all over the village's rolling hills.

Me and BJ at Shakertown (photo by Orange Sheep Photography, 2011)

Numerous volumes have been written on the architecture of the Shakers and their well-known, simplistic designs for furniture, use of materials, and interior arrangements.


I feel like Shaker design and furniture has a timeless appeal--it almost never goes out of style if used in the right context. I love the clean lines and the look of a well-made, primitive piece.

We choose to go with several Shaker-inspired designs for our new house--mostly embodied in our cabinetry, simple interior trim, stair and stair railing, and shelving with Shaker peg rails underneath. I'm not strictly married to Shaker principles because, after all, I still want an overall farmhouse feel, but I love the simplistic look enough to opt for it over something else more fussy when forced with making a design choice.


For example, we decided to forego any crown molding--including any on the top of our cabinetry in our kitchen and our built-in bookshelves in the great room. We do have baseboards--but those are common in farmhouses of all types and serve a practical purpose rather than just decorative. Our cabinets are simple, Shaker panels with inset doors/drawers and wood knobs--no beading or any other decorative detailing.

Below is a sneak peek of some of our kitchen cabinetry. Sorry for the poor photo quality--I've only had time to take pictures on my phone at this point:

I think Shaker design goes well with a farmhouse and I love that I'm able to pull inspiration from one of my favorite places in Kentucky to visit :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Flooring: Hardwoods, Tile, Carpet and More

So. many. decisions.

I thought I knew what I wanted going into this house build and I have surprised myself so many times with our final choices for materials. Flooring is no exception. There are certain types of flooring that simply couldn't fit into our budget and also other types that I had no idea I would end up using but am excited to see installed.

looking from second floor down stairs into living room

Since we are building a farmhouse and I love the look of classic farmhouse style that will stand the test of time, I knew I wanted wood floors throughout a good portion of the house. We decided to lay hardwood in most of the downstairs (living and dining rooms, kitchen, pantry, powder room) and are using a standard oak hardwood with a dark walnut stain. I would have loved to have done reclaimed heart pine throughout but it proved to be too expensive to fit into our budget.

first floor oak hardwood flooring, dark walnut stain
Our master bedroom is also located downstairs and it (along with all the other bedrooms) will be carpeted. We did this to make our budget work but also I just love the feel of carpet in a bedroom (even if I don't like the look as much). We chose Mohawk Smartstrand Natural Splendor II in "soft linen" for the master bedroom. The entire upstairs (except bathrooms) will be carpeted as well since most of the rooms are bedrooms anyway. For the upstairs we chose Mohawk Horizon Collection in a light beigish grey color. None of the carpet has been installed yet (it's the last thing that happens), so I don't have any pictures to share yet!

The bathrooms are the only rooms we chose to do in tile and the girls' bathroom is actually vinyl plank. We chose Armstrong Luxe Plank in "Farmhouse Plank."

the girls' bathroom flooring

girls' bathroom flooring, Armstrong vinyl "Farmhouse Plank"

Picking out the tile was so much fun and I ended up choosing some tile that was way out of my "comfort zone" in terms of classic tile patterns and colors. Still, most of it is pretty neutral in color, classic in pattern, and hopefully will give the rooms a timeless appeal.

master bath tile flooring

The master bath floor is a white hex tile with grey grout, white subway tile walls in the shower with grey grout, and a (surprise!) "pebble" or stone shower floor in a white-grey-black color scheme. I've been told it feels super nice on the feet. The shower threshold and shelves are a grey quartz.

master bath shower "pebble" tile flooring

The guest bath is a classic white and grey hex pattern tile for the floor and shower floor and grey subway tiles with white grout for the shower walls. The shower threshold and shelves for the guest bath are a white quartz.

guest bathroom tile flooring

guest bathroom grey and white tile shower

 Can you tell I'm afraid of going with anything too trendy or committing to color?!?

laundry room flooring, vinyl plank "Meridian Stucco"

For our utility spaces, like the laundry room, we chose a vinyl plank in order not only to save on costs but also because wood flooring in a laundry room can be problematic with moisture issues. We chose Adura Max in "Meridian Stucco" for the laundry room which has more of the look of a light colored tile or stone.

laundry room flooring

With so many different wonderful options for flooring it certainly can get overwhelming at times. The key is to have an idea in your mind of what you like best, then chose an option that will match that but also be practical for your needs and your budget.

Another tip I highly recommend is going to one or two local flooring stores to make your selections--it keeps your options much more limited and manageable rather than having to search and compare everything on the internet and at all the big box stores.

living room oak hardwood flooring next to brick fireplace hearth

The house is moving along fast--our lighting fixtures and plumbing fixtures have been installed and all the little details are getting completed. Looks like we will be moving within the month (*deep breath*). Can't wait to share pictures with you!

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Cooking from Deep Run Roots Cookbook

Y'all--I'm obsessed with this cookbook.

If you haven't watched the show "A Chef's Life" or heard of Vivian Howard and you love southern food--you are missing out! We have watched the show since Season 1 came out and I fell in love with all the recipes, the stories, and the culture of Eastern North Carolina foodways.

Vivian Howard stars in "A Chef's Life" and recently released her first cookbook--Deep Run Roots. If you are not familiar with her story, after being in New York working in the restaurant industry for some top chefs, she returned to where she grew up and started her own restaurant--Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, North Carolina. It features local ingredients and showcases food grown from farmers all within something like a 75 mile radius of the restaurant. We have been once to the restaurant and it was amazing!

I got the cookbook for Christmas this past year and I haven't been able to put it down--I just love how it's organized and I can't wait to try all of the mouthwatering recipes. The commentary, stories, and photographs are wonderful as well. The cookbook is quite large--it contains 24 chapters each showcasing a different but significant Eastern North Carolina ingredient.

I'm gradually working my way through the cookbook and have been pretty pleased with the results of the recipes thus far. Some of them are a bit more involved and time consuming than you might want to take on for a simple week night meal, so I try to save them for weekends or a special occasion. So far, I have tried a handful of recipes including:

  • Sage Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Bacon-Roasted Rutabagas
  • Mom's Cornpone
  • Turnip Root and Green Gratin
  • Crispy Ginger Rice with Leeks, Shiitakes and a Fried Egg
  • Grandma Hill's Hoecakes
  • Salt and Butter Roasted Pecans
  • Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Pomegranate with Blue Cheese Honey Vinaigrette
  • Slow-Roasted Beef Short Ribs with Herb-Scented Turnip Puree and Turnip Gremolata
  • My Favorite Beet Salad
  • Squash and Onions
  • Blueberry Rosemary Pudding
  • Grilled Corn with Bacon Mayo and Pecorino Romano
  • Shirred Eggs with Stewed Tomatoes and Ham Chips
  • Blueberry Cobbler with Cornmeal Sugar Cookie Crust
  • Squash and Fontina Casserole Pudding

Today I'm going to make Fried Okra Hash since okra is in season and we are getting it from our CSA!

The recipe is as follows (on p. 402 of Deep Run Roots):

1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups okra sliced 1/3 inch thick (about 15 medium okra)
2/3 cup vegetable oil

Combine cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl. Rinse okra well with water and toss the damp okra with the cornmeal mixture. Set aside. In a cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add okra once oil begins to sizzle, spreading it out in a single layer. Lower the heat slightly and sizzle on one side for 4 minutes.

Toss the okra around and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer okra to paper-towel-lined-plate to drain with a slotted spoon. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Serve warm.

I'd love to know if any of you have Vivian's cookbook and which recipes are your favorites. Happy cooking (and eating)!