Holiday Home Tour 2019

I love Christmas, and this year i’m even more excited than usual as we get to host my parents and some of our friends at our house for Christmas dinner.

Minnesota is a magical place to be over the Christmas holidays, it reminds me of Narnia with the snow covered pine trees, it’s beautiful. But Christmas is also a time for family, and being ex-pats we mostly travel back to the UK to be with our family. The drawback is, we miss our furry family! Our two Cockapoos Molly and Phoebe, have to stay with dog sitters, and we miss them dearly. So this year we get to enjoy a cozy Christmas together.

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This year, I moved away from my usual red and white Scandinavian style Christmas decorations, and opted instead for a palette of white and champagne gold with natural tones such as bark and greenery.

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I felt the color scheme better suited the newly renovated dining and kitchen area, which is neutral in color.

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I recycled some champagne gold feather tree decorations I bought from Hobby Lobby a few years ago as place setting decorations. And bought some new linen napkins with a slight sparkle to them from Home Goods. The charger plates I found through Facebook Marketplace.

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We re-used the white box planter we made a few years ago, and just swapped out the red berries for champagne gold berries, and added a few white Poinsettias.

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The tree has lots of sparkle from the champagne gold balls, but also plenty of natural tones from the woodland animals and pine cones.

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I added champagne gold and white berries to a plain garland to decorate the new staircase banister.

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I hope you enjoyed the home tour. Happy holidays! And happy decorating!

Jo (aka Britflipper)

Continuous Improvement

The subject of today’s blog is along the theme of ‘continuous improvement’. It’s a term we regularly use at work in a quality / lean process sort of a way, to signify the journey towards being world class in something. Never stopping with being satisfied with what you did today, and always striving to do better. It seemed like the perfect title for the design journey I’ve been on over the past few years.

The entrance hallway in our house is the perfect example of how skills evolve, and admitting that sometimes you don’t get it right the first time.

This is our hallway when we first moved into our 1969-built Prairie Style Minnesotan home. It was very beige, and very dated.

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Hallway when we moved in (circa 1969)

I set about renovating it to make it feel more like a modern cabin (as we live in the woods.) I tried to make it feel rustic with the use of the aged wood wall partition that we made, and the antler chandelier. To give it a modern twist, I added faux taxidermy in white only on the gallery wall.

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Hallway after reno No.1

To give it more of a British hunting lodge / country feel, I opted for flagstone style flooring, and added things like the antique umbrella stand and horse bit artwork. We gave the wall a gold paint effect finish to add some richness and the traditional feel.

But it felt dark…

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After living in the house for 4 years now, I’ve come to realize that living in the middle of the woods, with such heavy tree coverage, that the only time the house is ever bright inside is during the winter when there are no leaves on the trees. So the decoration inside has to account for this lack of natural light.

The other thing I’ve noticed whilst living in the US, is the growing trend for light, bright and airy spaces. Practically every new-build and renovated home has white-painted trim. The spaces are made bright from large white windows and white or light grey walls. Any wood is generally kept natural, such as natural white oak.

After living here for a while now, my tastes have evolved to the more contemporary side, so we set about with renovation No.2 to our hallway…

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Hallway today (after lessons learnt)

We removed the aged-wood partition wall we made, as we felt it made the space darker, and the dark wood made it feel a little dated. We opted instead for a more open half wall, which we painted in white and grey to match the new open-plan kitchen / dining room. And changed all the floors for natural white oak.

The biggest change was to the feature wall. Now when you enter the house, you’re met with a wall of white split-face marble, which adds depth and texture to the room, whilst still being bright, and yet at the same time, rustic.

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I had to keep the antler chandelier, it’s the little nod to the modern hunting lodge theme we were originally trying to achieve. I think now we’ve actually managed to achieve it. By keeping the colors light and limited, and introducing interest through texture, and pops of natural wood colors.

I’m the first to admit that my first attempt at ‘modern cabin’ was not that successful. But with a few more years of experience of both living in this house, in the US and having completed many more renovation projects, I can gladly say my skills have improved for the better.

To quote Lloyd Dobyns:

“Continual improvement is an unending journey.”

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Jo (aka Britflipper and continuous improvement seeker)

How to get the Restoration Hardware look for less

If you read my last blog about ‘5 tips to get the Restoration Hardware look’ and you’re now reading this blog, you’re probably like me, and don’t have a large budget. You can definitely get this look by following the 5 tips and shopping around for similar pieces.

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Our lounge before – English country style

Although our lounge wasn’t bad before (note this was before we put the TV on the wall!) it just didn’t feel like those beautiful images of the Restoration Hardware showrooms that I loved so much. In my last blog ‘5 tips to get the Restoration Hardware look’ I deconstructed the look into 5 elements to make it easy to reconstruct the same look in our lounge.

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The 3D plan of the redesigned lounge.

Walls:

Firstly the wall color needed to be darker. All the Restoration Hardware images have a warm grey / brown color on the walls to add drama and coziness. So I chose Caffeine by Behr to recreate a similar look.

Furniture:

Next, the obligatory balustrade coffee table was a must, and a French casement cabinet. I found a much cheaper version of the balustrade coffee table at Joss & Main. It’s usually $834 which almost half the price of the Restoration Hardware version, but I got it for around $400 on sale.

I really wanted a French casement cabinet also, and did find similar options for less. But being that my budget was virtually $0 for this make-over, I decided to repurpose an existing bookcase by painting it white with Annie Sloan chalk paint. Read how to do that here in my other blog post.

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Greenery:

I needed to remove all color from the previous design, and only add it back in through greenery in plants. So I added a couple of topiaries either side of the fireplace, which also added symmetry, and moss balls in a striking dish that I bought from Z Gallerie.

I also removed all color from the room from pictures and accessories, and only accessorized with neutral colored items.

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Mantel:

I wanted to get a more classic look on the fireplace, and less Mid-Century Modern, so I repurposed the fireplace mantel by trimming the length down and painting it with some more of the Annie Sloan chalk paint. I added corbels to it to give it that classic feel, which were a whopping $6 from a Goodwill store that I again chalk painted.

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Symmetry:

I really wanted to add these arched mirrors either side of fireplace from Joss & Main, however on the $0 budget I had, that’s something that will have to come later. For now I created my own version with mirrors I found on sale at Hobby Lobby for $16 each. They looked a little bit lost on the brick wall, so I made some white shutters to make them appear larger and less lost. In total they cost about $50 for the pair.

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Old prints:

A signature look of Restoration Hardware is the use of old prints or maps. Loving this look, but not the $1000 or so it costs to buy their version, I created my own. And actually, I’m glad I did as these prints have meaning to this house, as they’re the original architectural drawings for the extension they had in 1987.

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It’s not a total replica of the Restoration Hardware look, but on the shoestring budget I had to play with, I think the room is completely transformed and feels much more like the look I was aiming for. Whilst you can certainly get a similar look for less, you really can’t beat the real thing.

Thanks for reading!

Jo @britflipper