April 27, 2016
Whelp, winter is finally over… Thank Fu*king god. Although who can really complain, it barely snowed at all and was really pretty mild. And since global warming is just some made up thing that has no scientific proof (cough, cough…Not) we can all just assume we are being rewarded for surviving last winter. With all of the non-snow weather we had I feel as if it rained way more than necessary, maybe not, but this is my blog so what I FEEL is obviously 100% factual and not up for discussion. And since it basically rained every day for 3 months there was an insane amount of mud in my yard, which in turn became an insane amount of mud on my carpet. So RIP carpet, I should have never bought you in cream.
Who else out there always buys super nice things in cream and white and really modern light grays only to realize they spill spaghetti sauce down their shirt on a daily basis and should really walk around with a post-it note on their forehead that reads “I CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.” Anyone? Anyone? Also, I forget sometimes when I’m shopping that I live with kids because I get caught up in all the shiny pretty things, (one mosaic glass bowl and I forget who I am for a while)…ohhhh glitter… and well, don’t get a cream carpet with kids anywhere within a 30 mile radius. It’s all fun and games until chocolate ice cream meets a beige couch…
So I am now on the hunt for a NEW carpet, but alas carpets are EXPENSIVE as _________. Which is totally _________ up and I hate people who make all the things I want so expensive. But I have an alternative for all the people out there that want nice carpets but can’t spend a million dollars on the perfect geometric pattern rug at some fab boutique.
ENTER RugsUSA.com !!! In what appears to be the most creative rug website name on earth, you can find some super cool rugs at prices that don’t make you want to overdose on Malbec if your kid spills an entire bag of Doritos on your white carpet, and then rolls around on top of said crushed Doritos for 45 minutes before you notice (that has never happened to me, it happened to a friend of mine… that friend is me).
The other amazing thing about this website (aside from the fact that you will NEVER forget it’s name) is that they have a SALE literally every day… Flag day? Earth Day? Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday?… 70% off… try me, check it out…today is a Wednesday in spring, they are having a sale…You’re welcome!!!!! Here are the ones I am contemplating buying:
March 25, 2016
Day 14 of my new diet consisting exclusively of MUSH!! Ok let me catch you up a bit… So Beyonce who is basically my spirit animal because she is awesome (all hail Queen B) has been repping this “Plant Based Diet” thing all over town. It’s basically a vegan diet high in plants and nutrients (organic, non gmo, soy free, gluten free, made of glitter, blah blah blah). So obviously after a winter of gluttony I needed a pick me up to attack this spring real estate market – enter the Queen B diet. Long story short, Beyonce and her posse of vegan supermodels made up this company called 22days nutrition which is basically a 22 day Vegan challenge that is supposed to reboot your system and get you on the health track. The theory is that it takes 21 days to break a habit, so if you can stand being a Vegan for 22 days, you will basically look and feel like Beyonce. So obviously, I paid the million dollars to sign up and they deliver your meals weekly in a box of pre packaged vegan-awesomeness (minus the awesomeness). So for the last 14 days I’ve been lying to myself and convincing myself that I love eating lentils day in and day out!! I honestly am totally on board with the vegan lifestyle thing because it’s healthy and way better for the environment (did you know it takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce 1 lb, of beef?? – talk about sucking the life out of the planet) but at the same time I realize cheeseburgers are delicious. The only real issue with my pay-to-look-like-Beyonce-diet, is that everything they send you is just pile of mush with random veggies mixed in. I can’t imagine this is what Queen B eats on the daily.
With all this MUSH and nowhere to vent, I have become obsessed with kitchen design this week because I am literally starving to make something delicious. So let’s talk kitchens before I stab my eyes out with a turnip.
Here I am cooking up a vegan mush pile...
Ok when designing a kitchen here are some things that are important to keep in mind:
1. Layout and function: Make sure the measurements of your layout make sense! I can’t tell you how many people don’t leave enough space between say the refrigerator and the counter and you’re stuck squeezing by them when you want to grab something. Working with a kitchen designer is also very helpful to makes sure your space and layout flow properly.
2. Storage: Storage is so important and often overlooked. Yes, we all love visible shelving etc. but unless you live in a decor magazine you need a lot of functional storage space. Think tons of under cabinets and then do your open shelving up top.
3. Lighting: Awesome lighting is key to a fantastic kitchen. Even if your space is small if you have proper lighting and great light fixtures your kitchen will feel luxurious and well thought out.
4. Counter space: Shoot for long linear counter areas instead of choppy spaces. Don’t have a stove next to a small work space, next to another cut up area, next to a refrigerator next to another small work area. Get yourself a linear space to spread out and do your food prep.
5. Islands: obviously islands are a huge trend right now but not all kitchens have room for them. You can do a lot with a peninsula or a small bar style space to create the modern feel but not take up your entire kitchen.
6. Trash: plan out a space for your trash and recycling. There is nothing worse than an amazing kitchen with a huge, sticky trash can sitting out in plain site. Plan for a trash/recycling drawer or cabinet to keep the ambiance of the kitchen clean and organized.
7. Don’t be cheap: this goes for any project. I’m not saying you have to spend $70K on a kitchen cabinet package but if you by cheap shit, it’s going to look and last like cheap shit. Pay for quality and you will be happy you did. Get solid cabinets (if you can’t afford the full cabinet change out the doors with a quality door and keep your old cabinets), pick quality appliances, and tiles – you’ll be glad you did.
8. Safety and visibility: especially if you have kids you need to think about the safety of your kitchen layout. Don’t put the stove in a place that someone can easily knock off a pot (like by a door or entrance way), pick tiles that aren’t slippery when wet, and get a vent hood so that you can circulate out air and not be huffing all your food grease. Think about where your children will be when you are cooking and plan your kitchen around the ability to keep and eye on them while multi tasking in the kitchen.
Ok here are some of my favorite kitchen trends:
Display cabinets, wood counter, farmer sink and that olive green, LOVE LOVE LOVE!!
Modern kitchens are all about sleek lines and hidden cabinets, open space and a minimalist feel.
A dream TINY kitchen! I love the paneled refrigerator!
Great layout of a smaller kitchen and brass hardware is back with a vengeance.
My lover built this kitchen for some of his clients - I'm obsessed.
Another kitchen my lover built for his clients. Two tone cabinets and center tile is very in right now.
February 25, 2016
Was just recently in France and Italy for a couple weeks, exploring, shopping and mostly eating, lots of eating. Europe as you probably know is amazing for many reasons, with so many countries so close to each other there is such a unique melding of culture, food and fashion. Europe also features some of the most jaw dropping architecture you could ever want to see. My creative vibes were flowing at an all time high while in Paris. I literally would LOVE to move to Paris, but really what would that cost me??? Well naturally I had to find out:
After a solid research session I found that in 2015 prices in Paris were on average: €7,880 (US$ 8,868) per sq.m. So If you calculate that out into feet, it’s approximately $824 sqft. Compared with Boston which has a Median price of $533 sqft. It looks like I’ll be living in a miniature apartment in Paris! But that’s ok because Tiny houses are in! It is important to also consider that all cities cover a large area and a multitude of neighborhoods – so it really depends on what neighborhood you want to live in.
I want to live in the Latin Quarter of Paris which is where ALL the food is (well it’s everywhere) but I love this area, bars, restaurants, shops, and food, food, food. Yeah well there is NOTHING in that entire area for less than $1,000,000.00 Soooo Moving a long. Here are some of my Paris Photos!
I love all these little doors and store fronts.
November 24, 2015
Inside the Notre Dame de Paris
Random alley way shopping area, I'm obsessed with black/white tile.
Exposed post and beam structural elements left visible
I love Carbs!!
I’ll post some Italy photos soon. Paris is the best!!!
If Donald Trump is elected President of the US, I am moving to Paris and going to overdose on pastry and coffee, you heard it here first!
Because I’m clearly a psychopath, I took on a new house project after finally finishing my last house. I fell madly in love this gorgeous house on Allerton Hill, in Hull, MA and HAD-TO-HAVE-IT! The only bad part was that it was way over my budget, and when I say way I mean like $100,000 more than I could afford. Thankfully, my lover suggested we just offer what we could afford, and thanks to some small miracle – they accepted the offer!! (I used this as an excuse to drink excessively in celebration for about a month – go me!).
In that I’m dating a contractor who is awesome at his job, I figured; why not take on a bigger project than the last one?? Well… here you have it.
When I submitted the offer we waived the home inspection contingency which I wouldn’t recommend unless you have done this before, but it helped me get the house – so it was worth it. I also waited 5 months to close on the property to give the seller more time to get out, also one of the reasons I was able to get this house. Sometimes when you are trying to get a deal, you have to be flexible – actually ALL THE TIME when you are trying to get a deal you need to be flexible. If you want to score, be prepared to wait it out.
Long story short, once we closed and got the keys we realized how many problems there were with my dream house… commence the drinking again!! Also, I had my mothers words reverberating through my head, “don’t buy that house, too much work, Hillary DO NOT buy that house, you will be miserable, you have to fix everything!!”
I mean, who really LISTENS to their mother anyway, am I right?
Anywhoo – I still love the house and don’t regret taking on this massive project. I went to work one day with the house looking like this:
- “DO NOT BUY THIS HOUSE” – My mom, enjoying Wine on the front porch
Then I got home from work one day and APPARENTLY, the entire porch was separating from the house so we had to rip the WHOLE thing off. So What I thought was going to just be a porch rebuild, turned out to be ripping off the front of the house and rebuilding the whole thing!!! Good times…grabs vodka bottle, locks herself in bathroom…
From the Back yard:
Although this has turned out to be a pretty large “first project” on the house, not counting that I’ve painted every room in the house. (We are also going to gut the entire first floor, move the kitchen to the middle of the house, open up all the walls, do new electrical, lighting, add a bathroom and finish the attic…just to get started) – I STILL LOVE THIS HOUSE.
I mean, this is the view from my bedroom:
View from my bedroom
This is Allerton Hill from Aerial view – Our house is three up from the giant one on the corner (The Honey Fitzgerald Mansion)
SO stay tuned for more updates as the project progresses! That is, if I don’t give up and move first!
October 21, 2015
I’m sure (unless you’re living under a rock in a dark cave) you’ve heard the term “Feng Shui” thrown around in regards to interior design. But you may be asking yourself, what really is “Feng Shui”? I come across this term on a very frequent basis due to my location (working in Quincy, which has a large Chinese population), and with many of my clients who are concerned with making sure a property they are buying has the right mix of Feng Shui elements. I’ve had deals fall apart solely based on a door placement, or which direction the structure is facing – so understanding Feng Shui, and what makes it so important can come in handy for anyone.
Feng Shui in short is a way to harmonize people with their environment. It has to do with the spatial arrangement of items in order to help with the flow of energy. The theory is that if the Feng Shui in your home is done properly, it effects the energy flow in your life, which helps your personal harmony and in turn helps you achieve life goals and a better life. Feng Shui is all about placement and position to create harmony in a persons space, which transcends into their life.
Feng (wind) and Shui (Water) are the two natural elements that humans need to live, they are the cornerstone of life and therefore the essence of life – which is their “Chi”, their life force. Your “Chi” is really your life force, it is the essence of you, and there for the Feng Shui of your space effects your Chi, and your life as a whole.
Now before you go thinking to yourself, what is all this new age zen junk that I’m reading ??? – consider this; 28,000 years ago Neanderthal cave men chose their caves and living habitats based on the direction the cave faced, the elevation, and the access to water. As early as humans have existed, there has been a connection to location and living environments based on the flow of water, wind, and life.
So what does this mean for you? And how can you incorporate elements of Feng Shui into your everyday living environment?
* First and foremost you need to Clear out your clutter! Clutter and mess is an all consuming problem that whether you know it or not can really effect your Chi. You have to get rid of those extra clothes, papers, junk on tables, unnecessary furniture. Clear the space, to clear your mind.
* Good quality Air and light is essential to good Feng Shui. Open up those old shutters, clean your windows, let natural light and air flow through your home bringing positive energy your way and letting you breathe easy.
* The front door or entry way into your home is a key factor in Feng Shui, it is where all energy enters and exits the home. Make sure you don’t have cracked front doors, or squeaky hinges, make sure the entrance to your home is tranquil and welcoming. This will effect the Chi that enters and exists your home.
* Live plants are an important part of this as well. Having plants in the house to catch and rejuvenate energy and oxygen is a great part of embracing the Chi.
* Let water flow towards the center of your home because water carries prosperity in towards the house. Many people chose to have a water element or fountain at the entrance to their home facing inwards. Also check leaky faucets, and where water drains – you don’t want prosperity draining out of your life.
* Fix broken items around the house which create added frustration. Have a broken door, closets aren’t opening or closing, handles are missing, windows are broken, outlets don’t work, etc etc. fix these small items. They may not seem like a big deal but they are small irritations that contribute to the demise of healthy Chi.
* Feng Shui in your bedroom is the most important space in the home to pay careful attention to. Because we spend so much time in our rooms sleeping it is imperative that your bedroom have good Feng Shui to it. Your bed should be up against a solid wall with no windows behind your head, this give you a safe surface behind you. If you have a head board try to have it made of solid wood which will help promote good Chi by providing additional support behind your head. Foot boards however are considered bad for Chi because they block forward progress. And NEVER have your feet facing the door as this as seen as a ‘death position’ as the dead are always carried out feet first, so this is seen as a potential way to drain your life force. Your bedroom is a place to relax and turn off the stress of every day life, it is important to not have loud music, or TV’s blaring in your room, you need to invite tranquility into your space. If possible, avoid having your cell phone on your night stand, and the TV at your feet on all night, work towards tranquil colors and peaceful lighting. Another surprising No-NO when it comes to bedroom Feng Shui – King size beds are bad for Feng Shui, I’ve always agreed with this but the principle behind this is that it creates too large of a space between you and your partner. Also, many King size beds are on a box spring that is split or has a line down the middle, which acts to separate the two halves, this is very bad for intimacy and good bedroom Chi. The goal of bedroom Feng Shui is to create a safe haven of comfort and tranquility, think soft sheets, nice lighting, flowers and candles, natural woods, calm and quiet with very little clutter to create a relaxation zone.
October 19, 2015
Although not technically a real estate event, I thought it was absolutely necessary to discuss last nights Met Gala and some of the must see looks. What is the “Met Gala” you might ask?
The Met Gala or Met Ball is a huge fundraising event to benefit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. It’s held every year in NYC and pretty much every celebrity you can imagine comes to it and it’s ALL ABOUT the Fashion. The building itself is pretty spectacular and was built between 1910-1914.
Now let’s talk fashion -
Here are the good and bad..
July 8, 2015
That color, barf.
Burlap sack dress
You’re VERY WANG, step it up.
That’s how you do the Met Gala
My personal Favorite
Queen of the Ball, you have to love her.
About 2 years ago a purchased my first house in Squantum, MA. (North Quincy really). I was, and still am totally obsessed with the location. I bought a little bungalow for myself and figured I’d fix it up as I went. Apparently, fixing a house on your own isn’t easy, at all! I did have some help from friends, family, and concerned passerby (Thank you random shirtless man for making sure I didn’t fall of my ladder and die while cleaning my gutters in the pouring rain, I owe you one sir).
What was a major love/hate relationship with fixing stuff, turned out to be an amazing learning experience. In two years I feel like I have learned years’ worth of useful knowledge and am a regular fixture at Home Depot and Curry Ace Hardware (special thanks to the late night Home Depot crew who dealt with me while I was drunk and ran out of whatever material at 10pm). I now can walk into any house and have a much more in-depth understanding of what it takes to make a home exactly how you want it to be. Trust me, it’s not at all like HGTV, AT ALL, it’s a million times harder, and messier.
Below are some photos of my finished product. I got an AWESOME tenant (I love her) and have now bought and even BIGGER piece of Junk house that I can document the progress of on this blog (although, I pretty much always forget to update this thing). Before I share the “After” photos, I wanted to give a few tips to my fellow “Do it yourself-ers” who are just getting started or considering remodeling a house or condo on their own.
1. However long you think it’s going to take…Triple it.
Seriously, things take a lot longer than you’d like. For example. I decided to put a front porch on my house to make it look less like a trailer. Just a small little porch for friends. Well a porch requires permits, and inspections, and an actual contractor who is AVAILABLE to build your porch (everyone is busy right now who is in the trades so get ready to wait). Aside from buying all the materials which may or may not be in stock and need to be ordered (yes you have to SPECIAL ORDER even the most obvious things), you have to handle all these other unforeseen things. Let’s say you have a hose on your house, hoses are nice to water plants and whatnot, but if you want to build a porch on your house, well you have to move the hose, and in order to do that you need a plumber, and well plumbers are busy! See where I’m going with this?? IT TAKES TIME!! Sit back, get a cocktail and get ready to wait. Building a porch doesn’t take a week, it takes a month or more, and there you have it.
2. However much you think it will cost….Double it.
So I wanted a new front door, pretty normal right? I went to Home Depot, they have nice doors for $175.00…SCORE! Well no; are you going to install a front door yourself? …SURE!! I CAN DO ANYTHING – I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR! No, actually you can’t, I’m smart and I couldn’t either, so don’t feel bad about yourself. Call a contractor or your favorite uncle who lets you pay him in beer (this takes 3 times as long fyi and is usually crooked). And then you have to pay people, even if it’s in beer, it still costs money. New front door? $600.00, easy.
3. Get the right tools to do stuff, it makes it a billion times easier.
You want to paint? Sure! You should, you can save a lot of money painting yourself! But get the right tools, like a Roller extension (easy little thing that you put on your roller for high walls so you don’t have to climb up and down a frigging ladder all day, saves you hours and back pain). Get a small set of your standard tools, screw drivers, pliers, MEASURING TAPE, hammer, etc. and keep them handy. Tightening up a toilet, or changing out hardware on cabinets is easy peasy – IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS. (Ikea screw box and tools DO NOT COUNT).
4. Don’t be cheap.
If you buy the cheap stuff, it breaks, and also sucks. Don’t waste your time and money, just get the real thing the first time and get to work.
5. Nobody’s going to help you so don’t get all teary when they don’t.
Your cousin, Uncle, Friend from band camp, all said they would “totally come over on a Saturday and help you remodel your entire house!!!” … NO, they won’t. Literally, it seems glamorous, but after about 2 hours of painting Peach Pagoda on your bathroom walls you can pretty much guarantee yourself they never call you again.
6. Think about something for a long time before you do it, and do it in the CORRECT ORDER!
I can’t stress this enough. Before you decide to do a project, get an understanding of what it entails so you don’t have to do it all over again because you didn’t realize it corresponded with something else you were going to do. For example, you decide to re-finish your floors, but then want to take a wall down? Well what do you think goes where the wall once was? FLOORING, and if you want it to match you should probably do them all at the same time, know what I mean? And really think about the whole picture before you do something, you may end up moving stuff around and all your hard work and more importantly all your MONEY gets wasted.
7. Don’t over improve.
I mean this in the most sincere way. Some people have a moderate house and they think they are building the friggin Taj Mahal. Know your neighborhood, know who your end buyer is going to be and don’t over spend. If you are in a moderate area, don’t do a $70,000.00 kitchen and expect to make that $70,000.00 back. You don’t necessarily make back what you put into a house and you need to keep that in mind. And not everyone has the same taste as you. You may love bead board and starfish…guess what, NOT EVERYONE ELSE DOES. Keep that in mind.
The most important thing is to take your time and not waste money!
Here are some of my before/ after pictures. A lot of the updates don’t really show up in the photos but trust me, this place is like night and day!! Moving onto another project!! Stay tuned for updates!
after with porch!
Kitchen after! Took down 1/2 wall, granite, new sink, crown molding etc.
granite, new sink, lighting
These were my floors
yay new floors, also - recessed lighting!
bedroom and broken closet
This closet rocks! Took down the whole wall and rebuilt
made this a dining room
Laundry room nightmare, I wish I had a before photo! Turned out ok!
February 25, 2015
I recently took a trip to Greece – Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini and it was TO DIE FOR. We’re talking totally amazing, knock your socks off gorgeous. The architecture is so unique and bright when juxtaposed against the dry desert like climate and geology.
Check out some of my photos:
The colors, the light, the people – gahh I want to live there forever! It was an amazing trip with some really beautiful spots. The hotels we stayed in were so unique and had gorgeous design elements to them. I’m channeling my Grecian woman in all houses I look at from here on out.
Here are some Grecian inspired design ideas I’m feeling lately:
Wood rafters painted white, with royal blue accents.
Classy and modern all in one. Need these in my new room.
Everything about this bathroom ... I want.
For those winter days in Boston that you want to feel glam.
I'm dying over here. I need THIS, now.
Modern and gorgeous - GOLD is a must.
I’m really glad gold is coming back into fashion. The 90′s brassy/gold hardware really killed the look for quite some time, but fortunately people are moving back around and reusing true gold toned fixtures and hardware – PERFECT for my Grecian dreams. YES YES YES. I could sit here all day foaming at the mouth over how much I love Greece and it’s style.
November 6, 2014
Ok, this may sound strange (like most things I say) but I am OBSESSED with trash picking. I mean, I don’t like rummage through looking for snacks or anything but in the city I live in, everything gets put out on trash day. I kid you not, there is so much awesome stuff (in 30 years I’m destined to be a hoarder) on the curb. I love getting random furniture off the side of the road and bringing it back to life! You can get some really unique stuff, which is generally old and WAY better quality than the ikea crap everyone buys these days.
I was driving down the street and found this amazing piece of furniture that had lived in an old lady’s bedroom for 40 years, and was all yellow and nasty from cigarette smoke but it was this amazing shape – kind of a retro mod style that really grabbed my attention so I HAD TO HAVE IT.
I set up shop in my drive way and got to work. If you want to do something like this (and do it right so it doesn’t look like crap), here’s what you’ll need:
It’s important to use OIL paint with a HVLP sprayer (which stands for High Velocity low pressure). Using a sprayer is way better than a brush as it helps you avoid brush strokes and
keeps the paint going on evenly to give you a factory finish look. Wilbond is important to use before sanding as it takes off all the old lacquer and shine. Then Sanding to make it all smooth and also remove old smells/stains. Dry Dex is a very versatile product you can use all over your house, to fill nail holes, to fix little things that need to be painted etc. it’s an awesome product. You should also wear a breathing mask (not pictured) so you don’t huff all the chemicals.
In the beginning
Remove old hardware
Fill holes with drydex
Spray with primer (white), keep coats light, let dry
Spray with color. OIL PAINT takes longer to dry so be patient!
Add new hardware and BAM! Trash - CHIC!
November 6, 2014
I wish I had a better camera because this thing looks awesome in real life. It’s very sturdy and is made with quality materials so I was super happy with how it turned out. The entire project only cost me $30.00 (but I had a lot of the materials, which are worth investing in if you like this kind of stuff). On to the NEXT!!
Have you ever gone to Home Depot looking for something unique and just can’t find it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with Home Depot just as much as the next DIY woman, but it’s generally all stock material and it can get boring if you’re looking for something different. I was lucky enough to ride along with a contractor the other day and discover and amazing hidden gem right here in MA that I wanted to share with you. Anderson McQuaid in Cambridge is a super cool local business that creates custom moldings, trim, lumber, flooring and what not. Which is basically like finding someone who can build you your own custom unicorn!! So cool. You can pretty much design any pattern you want and they can make it for you. Or if you travel somewhere and see some amazing trim that you want to recreate…Anderson McQuaid can do it (if you’re not on a Home Depot budget).
Moldings can really make a huge difference in setting your home apart from every other stock house, and working with a company like Anderson McQuaid it gives you the opportunity to really get creative. Plus, you can support a locally owned business which is really where it’s AT!
You can check out their website which is not that great (1997 called, they want your site updated) but they’re located at 170 Fawcett st. Cambridge, MA . Although, don’t be surprised if you get yelled at by the guys that work there. I was running around trying to snap pics and kept getting yelled at, which was obviously worth it so I could share a few photos!
Located in Cambridge
All kinds of lumber to choose from!
Ok this is really cool. It filters out all the saw dust from the wood being milled and designed/cut. Basically a massive dust collector.