A September State of Mind

Hi friends. So sorry to go completely MIA on you. Between attempting online school with a five-year-old, much of California burning to the ground, and the general state total chaos in which we find ourselves, getting to the computer for any length of time has been a bit of challenge, to put it mildly. And then I blinked and summer is officially over.

But I had to finally get on here as I have big news for you!

They say you shouldn’t make major life decisions during times of extreme stress, right? Well, we decided to throw all caution to the wind and instead have purchased a coastal cottage in Washington State! Apparently a global pandemic, homeschooling a kindergartner and the most consequential presidential election of our lifetime wasn’t enough to keep me busy.

coastal cottage mood board on Apartment 34

In all seriousness, if the past seven months of Covid have taught us anything, it’s the importance of friends and family and so we decided to create a gathering place that can bring together those we love most for years to come. Nestled within the myriad of inlets and islands that dot the Puget Sound north of Seattle, the cottage enjoys sweeping views of the Olympic mountains and Hood Canal. I consider it my official respite from the impending doom. Sadly it looks nothing like the inspiration images I’ve collected here.

Instead, it is going to take a LOT of work to get our little coastal cottage visitor ready – and in a very short period of time. Over the coming weeks, I plan to take you along on the entire design journey. I will be sharing everything with you – from the cottage’s current state, to all of my design inspiration and through the remodel process. If all goes according to plan, I’ll share a major before and after reveal in time to spend the holiday season with our family rather than more than 800 miles away.

coastal cottage mood board on Apartment 34

Trust me, we’re going to have plenty to discuss, as I have to pick an entire household’s worth of things – from paint colors and kitchen cabinets down to dishware, bedding and everything in between. No design decision will be left unturned. It’s both exhilarating and incredibly daunting. These mood boards are just part my first ideation session for my dream vibe.

I’m hopeful sharing this process with you will offer you some fresh design ideas and positive inspiration as we all hunker down to weather what will undoubtedly be a stormy fall – be it literally or just politically. It’s been a rather dark year and I feel like this might be a way to share a little bit of light. I know I am very happy for the creative distraction. I hope you are too.

I can’t wait to share more very soon!

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The Property Brothers Reveal the Best Post-COVID-19 Upgrades

Property Brothers Gabe Ginsberg / Contributor / Getty Images

After almost a year of quarantine, it seems like everyone’s itching for a house party—which may explain the “Property Brothers” stars’ latest renovation on their show “Celebrity IOU.”

In the episode “Allison Janney’s Showstopper,” Drew and Jonathan Scott help the actress renovate the house of her assistant of 20 years, Ilana. The “West Wing” star says that Ilana loves throwing parties—especially in Janney’s honor! So it’s important that Ilana have a great space to entertain.

These upgrades for a party house will get you looking forward to a more social 2021. Read on to find out what you’ll need to get ready to host friends and family in the not-too-distant future.

Double up on your sinks in the kitchen

dining room
The Scott brothers knew this dining room would be better suited as a kitchen.

HGTV

The brothers start off by switching the kitchen and dining room spaces, creating a new, beautiful kitchen with a large island that will be a perfect place for guests to gather. But to make it even better, Drew and Jonathan decide to give the kitchen two sinks—one on the island and one by the window.

Allison Janney
Allison Janney shows up to demo day dressed to the nines!

HGTV

“We know Ilana likes to entertain, so this could be her sink for entertaining on this side, and then that sink over there is dirty dishes,” Drew says.

The extra sink makes for an elegant addition. It gives the house the feel of a cool wet bar area but keeps the entertaining space compact.

kitchen
With two sinks, this kitchen is ready for a party!

HGTV

Choose durable materials that will stand up to kids and company

Allison Janney
Jonathan Scott and Janney pick out materials.

HGTV

Jonathan and Drew want to make sure Janney is involved with the design for Ilana’s house because, after 20 years of working together, she knows her assistant’s tastes well.

She helps to pick out some gorgeous styles for the kitchen, but explains that the most important thing for Ilana is durability. Ilana loves entertaining, plus she has two kids, so she’s got to have a kitchen that will stand up to anything.

Jonathan shows Janney counter samples made of neolith, a durable material that he knows Ilana will love.

“Anytime I have somebody who entertains a lot, or who has kids in the house, you’ve got to have something that’s going to stand up to family life,” he says.

Janney selects a white neolith style with elegant veining—and Jonathan gets to work installing it. In the end, these counters look like marble but they’re extra durable, perfect for both big parties and messy evenings cooking with kids at home.

Give the fireplace an easy refresh

fireplace
This fireplace needed only a quick refresh.

HGTV

When Janney shows the brother’s Ilana’s house, they agree that the old fireplace needs an update. This two-sided fireplace is covered with beige stone, making it blend into the background when it should be a standout feature. Luckily, the brothers know how to fix it. First, they take off the old stone, exposing the brick underneath. Now, they’re free to give the fireplace a new look.

Jonathan suggests matching the fireplace with the same beautiful and durable material they chose for the kitchen counter. Then, they use sintered stone for the fireplace surround, finishing the style with a clean, white look.

fireplace
Now this fireplace looks modern.

HGTV

When the fireplace is finished, Janney and Ilana are impressed. The new, lighter color brings a fresh feel to the living room, and the matching material helps smooth the transition between the living room and kitchen.

“It’s so awesome that you don’t have to completely rip out an original feature,” Drew says of the fireplace update. “Just clean it up a little bit, make it look new.”

A wine fridge can be a real showstopper

empty wall
This empty wall was taking up space.

HGTV

When the brothers first see this home, they find a wall that closes off the space between what will be the dining room and the rest of the house. They decide to open up the wall and replace it with a refrigerated wine room.

While it may seem like this wine room is just taking up the space where the wall used to stand, closing the place up again, the modern glass design allows for sightlines through the wine room, making the home feel more open.

“There’s nothing bulky—it’s all open, it’s all glass, and it’s beautiful,” Jonathan says.

wine room
This wine room will certainly come in handy.

HGTV

When the wine room is finished, it looks amazing.

“It’s stylish, functional, and it’s going to be the centerpiece of every party at this house,” Drew says.

Solar tubes are cheaper than skylights

kitchen
This kitchen was too small for a large family home.

HGTV

When Drew and Jonathan switch the kitchen and the dining spaces, they realize that the new dining space is cramped and dark. They have to close up the one window, so they worry that the space will feel like a dungeon.

So the brothers use solar tubes, or holes in the ceiling designed to bring in sunlight.

“They are a great way to bring natural light into any room without the hassle and expense of a traditional skylight,” Jonathan says of the tubes.

While this natural light doesn’t replace electrical lighting, it does help a lot. At least during the day, this dining space looks bright and beautiful!

dining room
The brothers removed the window, but this room still has plenty of light.

HGTV

When the renovation is finished, Janney is impressed, and so is Ilana! Now, this house is ready for some great parties and some wonderful new memories.

Allison Janney
Janney’s assistant Ilana loves her newly renovated house.

HGTV

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