Friday, September 23, 2016

Let's walk through some gorgeous houses!

Last weekend my boy and I attended one of my FAVORITE events here locally, our Indy Home-A-Rama. This is something I look forward to every year, and believe it or not, our son loves it too. That is, until we get to about the fourth house…then he's done. ;)

He was a trooper this year because there were 11 houses! I think that's the largest we've had by far. I can't remember more than maybe six or seven in the past. If you are near Indianapolis this one is so worth checking out! (This time it's located in Westfield.)

I always love to share the highlights of each home with you here and because there were so many I'm going to break this up into a few posts. All of the homes were beautiful, but some I loved more than others, of course. 

I did my best to keep each house straight -- I took a ton of pictures! I will share these in order of the tour, and the first house had windows I was drooling over: 
Indy Homearama house one
Builder: Wedgewood Building Company
Designer: Thomas and Jayne Interior Design

They were absolutely STUNNING. I'm obsessed with black mullions and if we ever build again someday, I. want. These were floor to ceiling and really amazing: 
modern tall black windows

Of course you'd live in a fish bowl and they'd be crazy expensive to cover, but if you live in this house you have the money. ;)

I loved the main living space -- those windows make the whole room, right?: 
black mullion windows

The ceiling was angled up with wood beams: 
family room with stone walls and wood beams

The stone wall was awesome -- not something I would pick but it was really cool:
stone wall around fireplace

Here's a look at my beloved windows from outside: 
floor to ceiling windows

The kitchen was beautiful, of course, but a little smaller than I expected: 
white kitchen with stone tile behind vent

This room was right next to the kitchen and I would have used some of that space for the kitchen: 
indoor outdoor room with large sliding doors

I LOVED it though -- what a fun hang out space. The doors to the patio open up completely so it's really a great indoor/outdoor space. I love the wood wall and shelves and that awesome built in for glasses (I see a tap in there too!). 

The pantry was a good size and the finishes crazy good. Wood shelves, granite, glass cabinet doors and shiplap walls, in a pantry? Dreamy: 
pantry with granite and wood shelves

I liked that there was a little butler's pantry-type area around the corner from the kitchen. It wrapped around over by the pantry and would be a great spot for a coffee or animal food station: 
butler's pantry with wood shelves

The windows sold me on that house -- I just loved them. I must have forgotten to take a photo of the outside of that one but it was beautiful exterior.

The second house had a "Fixer Upper" feel on the exterior:
modern farmhouse exterior
Builder: Old Town Design Group
Designer: Everything Home

I loved the modern farmhouse feel! Those window boxes were huge and beautiful: 
large window boxes

I was surprised by the fireplace in the living area -- it was more modern than I was expecting: 
skinny fireplace with tile

Most of the house had an elegant rustic vibe, but the skinny fireplace felt more modern to me. 

The eat in kitchen area was beautiful: 
wood chandelier over round table

There were definite trends I noticed throughout all of the homes -- I think I only saw one dedicated dining room. They may be a thing of the past! And there were no separate living and family rooms -- only one large gathering room off the kitchen (and additional space in the basements). These are both trends I would incorporate into a home if I ever did it again! 

This house also had a room off of the kitchen that opened to a patio:
outdoor fireplace and TV combo

I really like those slatted walls for privacy. 

This is the hearth room that opened to the patio -- so cozy!: 
interior windows in house

Another trend I loved -- interior windows. I've actually considered adding a couple in our house over the years so I was happy to see that I'm not crazy thinking that. ;) They really did allow for natural light to spread throughout the house. 

The kitchen had a darker island and light cabinets: 
dark island white cabinets

I liked this separate built in area for coffee or whatever: 
coffee station with shelves in kitchen

That dark shiplap with the dark shelving is so striking. 

The master had gorgeous wood beams and high ceilings:
modern four poster metal bed

Did I say it was four houses in that the Bub was done? I meant the second house in: 
tired Bub

Ha! Luckily there were some fun kid's spaces coming up. (I'll show you that house next week!)

This little office space on the way to the garage was a cool spot: 
small office space and mud room

You can see those interior windows again -- I just love that. 

The third house had a full brick front: 
Indy Homearama house three
Gradison Design Build
Gadison Interiors/Kittle's Design Studio

I was surprised at the inside -- this one was more modern:
modern fireplace with large tile

The basement continued the sleek design: 
modern basement kitchen and table area

The TV side was more cozy and I thought the stone wall behind the TV was really cool: 
stone wall behind TV in basement

The basements all killed me -- they all felt like the entire size of our whole house! And the finishes were so high end -- look at that waterfall counter!:
modern basement kitchenette

I thought the bedroom in this house was beautiful -- look at that detailed ceiling!:
hexagon ceiling treatment in bedroom

And I LOVED the bathroom!: 
hexagon tile in bathroom

I loved the vanity design, the hexagon tile that tied into the bathroom ceiling and that beautiful sparkly tile in the shower! (Those were small hexagons as well.)

The stairway was just lovely -- I thought this was such a beautiful idea for those big staircase walls so many of houses have now: 
painted art wall on staircase

It looked like it was painted on but it could be wallpaper. Love!

My favorite room in this house was the kitchen. Oh my, it was gorgeous and unique!:
Oven area with wood tone and modern vent hood

Isn't that hood and stove area amazing? I just thought it was awesome. It was more modern than my style but man, I can so appreciate it. The backsplash was a mirror with an antiqued/smoked look and it worked so well in here: 
two tone surround around cooktop

I wished that the island was the same beautiful wood tone as that cooktop surround: 
white cabinets with glass and lights inside

But, WOW. Stunning, right? I loved it! 

Finally, this house had an awesome mud room on the way out with tons of storage: 
gray mudroom built ins

Whew! That's enough for today! Like I said -- if you are near Indy this one really is a must-see. Of course I am barely scratching the surface of these spaces. ALL of the designs were stunning. I'll be back to share some more favorites next week! 

Where there any rooms you really loved? Any trends you've noticed in newer homes as well? Have a great weekend my friends!

P.S. You can see my round ups of the beautiful 2014 tours here and here!




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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Everything you need to know about butcher block counters!

Hello my friends! I'm back today with some more details on the DIY desk I made in our new office/craft room upstairs. I got a bunch of questions about the butcher block so I figured this would be a good time to recap how to finish butcher and share how we've used it in our house.

I'll number this info so it's easy to follow the steps of the process! 

1. The question I get asked more than any other when it comes to this material…where to get it? 

I've purchased at two places. IKEA is the easiest and honestly the best quality I've found. I just don't always purchase from there because it's a four hour round trip. :) (Next year we'll have one here in Indy, yay!!) Also, IKEA used to have an island size and I get mixed info on whether or not they still carry it in the Numerar butcher block. 

I've also purchased from a local lumber store called Northwest Lumber. They are more expensive but are maple and come in much larger sizes. They will also cut them down (for a fee). I used their island size for our kitchen and they cut it down and refinished it with a food safe protective treatment. You can also ask for that finish to be sanded off and that's what I did this time. 

Lumber Liquidators also carries butcher block. They don't typically have any of the island countertops in stock so you'll have to wait for those to come in, but if you are just looking at perimeter countertops in a kitchen or something on a built in, they would be a good option. I can't attest to the quality but the pricing is similar to IKEA. 

Bottom line -- if you are not near one of the stores that carries butcher, do some searching for lumber companies near you. I bet you'll be able to find it! (But it will probably cost more.)

2. No matter what you plan to do with your butcher block, the first step is to sand it. Every piece I bring home I sand, even if it's been done already. You don't have to go crazy with it -- just a light sanding with a fine grit is fine. You just want to even out the wood for whatever finish you'll use. 

Be sure to wipe it down with a tack cloth or a wet rag -- if you use a wet cloth it will open up the wood  even more to accept stain. (Just be sure to get all areas or it may look different in spots when you stain.)

3. This is a step I used to skip and I've now learned how important it is. If you are going to STAIN, use a pre-stain conditioner first: 


I never used it before because I thought it would slow the process down, and that's not true at all. It takes mere minutes to spread it on and you just leave it. You can stain immediately! It helps to even everything out and prevents blotchy spots. 

4. There are a few options when it comes to finishing butcher block and those depend on your design preference. You can leave it natural and put a polyurethane on it (more on that in a minute), you can stain or you can enhance the natural wood with Tung oil: 

When I first installed butcher block I was concerned about using anything on it that wasn't food safe. I've since realized unless you are literally eating off of the countertop, you are OK to use a stain and poly. But I did love the natural look and it was a nice contrast to our dark floors. 

This is the Tung oil I use: 

Remember if you want a high gloss finish to pick accordingly. I share how to apply it here -- it's very easy! You just need a soft cloth to put it on.  

It really enhances the tones in the wood and protects it from liquids and most stains. Every year or so I would sand down the island and reapply the Tung oil, so there is a bit of upkeep with this. Here's how this finish looks with IKEA butcher block: 

Can you believe how different our kitchen looks? Here's our new countertop (and island) with the larger butcher from our local lumber yard: 

If you want a stained look, that's easy too. :) None of this is hard, it's just time consuming! I used dark walnut by Minwax on the large desk in the loft: 

I love this stain and it is the color I use most on projects around the house. It's a beautiful dark brown with no red undertones: 
Follow the instructions on the can for the application -- there are two things to keep in mind when staining. Keep a "wet edge"while applying, meaning don't walk away from your project in the process. Don't let the stain dry in sections and then start up another one. Make sure you have time to stain the entire piece at one time. 

Also, it is really important to let the stain dry and cure the recommended time in between coats. It will become gummy and won't dry well if you rush it. 

4. After your stain has dried you need to protect it, especially if you will using the piece. I don't always add a polyurethane coat -- like on our wood wall in the basement: 

We don't use this sink a ton and even when water has splashed on it it's been fine. But overall, especially for countertops of any kind, you'll need to add a few coats of poly. 

I use this fast-drying version and love it: 



This version speeds up the process a bit because you can reapply quicker.

I use cheap foam brushes to apply both stain and polyurethane. They allow for a smooth application and I can just toss them afterwards: 

Here's how the wood stain and poly looks on our kitchen shelves

If you don't add that protective coat they will be very hard to clean and will not be protected against liquids. Blocking liquid is the most important aspect of having butcher block in your kitchen. There are a few different options for countertops so if you are considering them near a sink be sure to research the best protective coating. 

5. Final sanding -- my latest trick! 

So when I was finished with the desk in the craft room it still had a slightly rough texture that was bugging me. This is not typical -- usually it's super smooth. I think I must have jostled the poly around too much before I used it because it was just not the finish I was used to. 

I didn't want to use sandpaper on it because it can change the look of the wood and make it slightly cloudy. I could have tried steel wool but was nervous it would do the same. I remembered I trick I had heard about years ago and decided to try it out. 

I couldn't even believe how well it worked!: 

It was a paper bag! Can you believe it? Maybe you know of this awesome trick but I was so surprised with the results. I just used a little piece of the bag and it worked for the whole desk. You just rub it over the surface and it knocks down those tiny imperfections that make it feel rough. 

Isn't that awesome? I don't know how well it work work between coats but for a final touch it was perfect. It left the finish looking exactly the same -- no cloudiness at all. 

Here's a closer look at the finished product: 

They are easy to clean and look great!

Using an island countertop size allowed me to create a massive double-sided desk. We LOVE it: 

I'll link to a few more of my favorite butcher block projects below! Have you used them in your home or kitchen? I think adding them to an island is a perfect mix -- you don't have to worry about the area near the sink but you still get the warmth of the wood. 

Have you tried the paper bag trick for sanding? 


Some affiliate links included for your convenience! 

See how I made and stained a farmhouse table here: 


I used a section of IKEA butcher block, cut straight down the middle, to make the counters for the DIY built ins

Butcher block was the perfect top to the DIY mud room bench




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