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Thanks so much for the continuing positive feedback on the kitchen remodel I shared two weeks ago. I promised a follow up post on the tile installation so here goes.


There are so many tutorials for installing a kitchen backsplash on the internet and YouTube, mosaics and subway tile are always the easiest.  A lot of people are intimidated at the idea of tile installation but shouldn’t be! It really is as easy as gathering the right supplies and following the proper steps.

I’ve been doing it for years and have a lot of confidence in this particular DIY project having tiled several fireplaces, bathrooms, and kitchens over the years. I’m hoping to inspire any of you who haven’t done it yet to give it a go with these steps!

Choosing the Tile

Field tiles are rectangular shaped but come in all sizes. “Subway” tile gets its name from the walls of tile you see in subway stations like NYC and it has a 100 year old history. I grabbed a few samples for my project to see which one I liked best, narrow tiles, beveled tiles, and even a hexagon shaped tile was considered.



I ended up choosing the one on the bottom, this frost tile because of its imperfect edges and glazed...

A hot topic around here is home improvement and with spring on the horizon, some of you are looking to increase your home’s curb appeal.

For design lovers, interiors make us swoon but a great exterior is also something worthy of investment because it’s the first impression of your home. Today I’m partnering with James Hardie® to highlight why your home’s exterior is just as, if not more, important than the form and function of the interior.


My husband Matt is a real estate appraiser and broker. In the 20 years we’ve been together, I’ve learned a few things about increasing a home’s value so let’s loop him into this conversation. I see exteriors first from a design perspective, but he sees them from a value perspective.

A decade ago, we built five new homes on a split lot, and for those homes we chose HardiePlank® lap siding in varied gray and tan neutrals. The exteriors of those homes still look as good as the day they were built and because of that, we’ve been big fans of James Hardie® siding ever since.

If you crave color, get inspired by James Hardie’s® prefinished siding available in both vibrant and subtle hues that will achieve instant curb appeal. Their ColorPlus® technology bakes colors...

Happy weekend everyone! Today I’m up in Lake Tahoe with a group of friends, it’s girls’ weekend! We’re snuggled up in a cabin enjoying the snowy landscape, but hoping to get out and do some skiing. It’s so beautiful here! I’ll try to share some of the views on Instagram. Meanwhile… a few favorite links!


Such lovely layers of muted color and texture in this bungalow tour.

I loved reading the story of this converted school bus.

Don’t miss these HomeGoods shopping tips.

Isn’t this a lovely stair rail detail?

Wow, what a beautiful design with denim.

15 things to know when starting a small business.

Skating on thin black ice (that sound!)

25 lessons from 25 years of solo travel.

Home listing photo dos and don’ts.

8 rules for doing everything better.

Who will you impact?

Everyone is going through something.


Spring is coming my friends! March always makes me happy for that reason. I bought a few more green plants this week, I’m a big believer in every room having something living in it so I scatter them around my house.

Some of my little green friends do better in filtered light, others thrive in direct sunlight, it’s a learning process, but I just keep rotating them to figure out where they are happiest.



Last spring, I bought a few planters at CB2 including the basket planter and the ceramic trio (pictured above) and also this marbleized planter that holds and orchid in my bathroom. (They’re still for sale at CB2 if you want to snag one for yourself, I love all of them.) I’ll probably buy a few more as my plant collection grows. Thankfully there are so many good looking options.







I was feeling nostalgic last week, perhaps it’s because I just entered my tenth year of blogging. I was thinking back on when we used to spray paint stuff and get 100+ comments and have link parties where we added our latest project and also Twitter parties where we’d all tune in and watch The Bachelor together and tweet about it. Those were good times.

I had a lot of really amazing comments from the last post about the flip house kitchen remodel, thank you! I really appreciate all the positive feedback! One popped out at me because of the subject matter:



The brighton style chinoiserie armchairs you’ve seen before in this sunroom and I borrowed them for the kitchen photo shoot. I stumbled across them, buried under some quilts, in a great vintage/thrift store in Las Vegas several years ago .



So it kinda blew my mind when I spied this listing a couple months ago….



Twelve hundred dollars!

And then there’s this listing for $1,650!

Hello! Today I’m excited to share with you my latest kitchen remodel. This is the kitchen at the flip house in Las Vegas and it’s finally finished! For this space I chose a medley of taupe and white cabinets, white appliances and brushed brass fixtures. Mixed wood tones exist in the dark floors, the variegated tones in the bamboo shades, the ceiling fan, and decorative accents.



Here’s a fuzzy iphone picture of what I started with in late 2016, this space had dated 30 year old oak cabinets and dingy flooring. I kept most of the kitchen’s footprint in place, the sink and range and refrigerator all remained in the same spot but I modernized the space with new cabinetry and the addition of an island, also some floating shelves next to the sink.



I was going for modern yet timeless. Classic and fresh. Light and bright, but also warm with layered neutral tones.


I love smooth white walls, so they were retextured and painted White on White by Glidden. I’ve been crushing on taupe kitchen cabinets for so long, so that’s what a chose for this kitchen. I like that warmer grays are available...

I’m in Las Vegas for a few days working on my investment property here and visiting with my parents. I have extended family who live in the area, as well as real estate, and it’s an easy flight from the Bay Area, so I’m in Las Vegas a lot. In the past four years I’ve visited Vegas over two dozen times, for work and play.

Las Vegas is world famous for its casinos and restaurants that line Las Vegas Boulevard on The Strip. I’ve spent time there too, whenever there’s a show or band in town that I want to see. I admit, its a lot of fun to walk around the casinos on the Boulevard, and when first timers come to visit, I always take them to the Bellagio to see the lobby and fountains, and for a walk around The Venetian, two of my favorites.

However there is so much more to Las Vegas than the casinos on The Strip. Over the weekend, I went up to the snow on Mt. Charleston with my parents and shared a few pictures on my Instagram stories. There is so much to do here, these are a few of the places I recommend, plus some tips from parents and cousins who are residents.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead is a 30 minute drive from Las Vegas and a great place to go in summer. Rent boats at the harbor for a day of fun.

Hoover Dam

One of the greatest...

Today I’m flying to Vegas for a few days to visit my family and to put the finishing touches on the flip house before staging it and putting it up for sale. I’ll share photos of the kitchen and bathroom soon. My tile choices for that house were simple and neutral because the house was remodeled solely for resale and I need to appeal to a wide array of buyers. I chose white tiles for both the kitchen and bathroom (see this post for a preview), however if I was decorating for myself, I’d make bolder or more colorful choices.

When you follow certain hashtags on Instagram, you can get lost in a world of inspiration, and anything tagged with the word #tile is my newest addiction. I love a bold and beautiful tile installation and Instagram is full of them! Today I bring you Tile Installations of Instagram! I feel like I could write this as a regular series :)





via @alsyssarosenheck design by @amandabarnesinteriors



via @mosaic_del_sur project by @_onehundredandtwelve


This weekend I’m headed back to Vegas to photograph the finished kitchen and master bathroom in the flip house, both are finally done and I can’t wait to share them with you, hopefully next week once I edit the photos. :)

I was going through my memory photos on my phone and up popped the fact that at this exact time last year, I was visiting my cousin in Melbourne, Australia. Then I remembered OMG I totally forgot to share about my experience there. Bad blogger!

I’d been to Australia before, but hadn’t visited the city of Melbourne yet, so it was at top of my list. I envisioned it would be balmy and warm like Gold Coast but since it’s much farther south, Melbourne experiences more dramatic seasons, especially cold winters. I was there in February of 2017 (the height of summer) so I was lucky to have blue skies during my visit.

Melbourne impressed me right away as a very cultural city, it’s quite sophisticated. It reminded me so much of San Francisco, with its medley of classic architecture and modern high rise buildings in a vibrant downtown.



Here are the highlights from my visit, through the eyes of me, the willing and happy tourist, and my cousin, the local know-it-all:

Queen Victoria Market

My cousin Andrew was an...

Hello! Happy weekend to you all. I’m busy hosting a party for a bunch of 14 year old girls today. They’re so cute, they just want to go to In & Out Burger, and then eat cupcakes and “hang out together for a few hours”. Ha! It’s a nice change from all those years of finding a venue, making party bags, buying balloons, blah blah blah, all those details that go into planning a kid’s birthday party when they’re young.

On Sunday, I’m working on a few little projects around the house, mostly organization stuff, all those corners that seem to be out of control and need attention. Also headed to the theater in a neighboring town where they’re showing old black and white movies. Sunday’s screening is The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Have you seen it? I haven’t in years, but that duo is one of my favorites. Pass the popcorn!

Favorite links:


I loved browsing this stylist’s portfolio.

How fun: this colorful Brooklyn apartment.

Making a new home look old with limewash mineral paint.

Do you love farmhouse kitchens? Here are 30 to inspire.

I love the new look of Kim’s laundry room.

Want softer bed sheets? Read this.

Style tips from designer David Hicks.

I really enjoyed listening to this interview.

Tips on how to take better...

I’m so totally bored with the plain Jane linoleum floor in my laundry room. I’ve covered it up with a rug for years but today I placed an order for a patterned peel & stick vinyl tiles that will amp up the style factor in that space.

In my search, I came across a lot of really cool patterns for floor installations from several Etsy sellers, and many of these are available for use as a backsplash or stair riser.

The encaustic tile trend is still going strong, and these peel and stick versions are a nice alternative that can give you the look without the cost especially if you don’t want to commit to permanent tile installation. Here’s a roundup of several cool patterns that would look great in a bathroom, laundry room, basement, you name it.



modern geometric



chalk grey abba



blue geometric



blue star



gray geo



I travel a lot, and in the past two years, I’ve changed my preference on where I like to stay. Ordinarily, I’d look for a hotel room, but now the first site I always check out is Airbnb. I do some research on where I’m going, then pick a neighborhood somewhere central where it feels like I’m living like a local for a few days.

My first experience in Paris in 2016 was so positive I’ve been renting from Airbnb ever since. I still rent hotel rooms from time to time for the amenities like a pool or fitness center, but if the trip is more than a few days, you can be sure I’ll be staying in an Airbnb along the way for the following reasons.

1. Kitchen = Save Money on Meals

I’m all about saving my pennies as much as possible when I travel and little things add up. I like that with an Airbnb apartment, I get a kitchen for mini meal prep. One of my most favorite things to do when I arrive at a destination is to go shopping in the local grocery store. It’s there that I select breakfast or lunch items to enjoy during my stay, and carry with me when I’m out and about exploring the area.

Just last week in Bergen, my traveling companion and I strolled the aisles of the local market, picking out our coffee, produce, bacon, eggs, etc. for our 3 day stay, bagging it up and bringing it back to our apartment to cook together.

Hey there friends. I took a few hours off work yesterday. We’ve had a week of clear skies and temperatures in the 70s in Northern California, and I just had to go to the beach to hear the waves and feel the sun on my face, it’s so therapeutic. I posted a video on my Instagram stories of the view of the coastline from the top of Bodega Head, it’s absolutely stunning.

I’ve become one of those people who will strike up a conversation with any stranger standing next to me. It always leads to a human connection, and sometimes that only lasts a minute or two, but it’s real and one of the best parts about living in the moment. While I was standing there looking out over the cliffs, I spoke with a couple visiting from Chicago. Together we were just mesmerized, and felt so lucky to be there soaking up the sunshine and the amazing view. I loved that moment.

Favorite links below:


Every detail in this home. *sigh*

Excellent tips on how to furnish a long narrow space.

Wow, check out Ballard’s new cabinet hardware collection.

White cabinets & quartz countertops are still at the top of kitchen wish lists.

50 modern homes with floor to ceiling windows.

How cool are these modern cabin homes made in Finland!

The 32...

As you know, I love to travel and on average I take one plane trip a month either for business or vacation, sometimes near, sometimes far. Last year I wrote about my airplane travel essentials, today the focus is on skincare.

Most of us ladies take our skin seriously. Traveling adds an extra layer of difficulty because (at least for me) I want to maintain that glow but I can’t bring all my full size favorites. I’ve learned a few tricks in the past few years, and I’ve come up with a few tools for great skin even when I’m halfway around the world.


1. Airline Regulations. Sometimes I check my suitcase if there is no fee, but sometimes not. I’ve traveled for 3 weeks with just a carry-on suitcase and tote bag, so I memorized the TSA rules for carry-on liquids. They must be in a resealable container that is 3.4 ounces or less and all containers must fit in one clear, plastic, resealable 1-quart-sized bag.

Sometimes they will make you take this bag out of your carry-on luggage when passing through security, it’s happened to me a lot in European airports. Knowing this, I always have my liquid skincare or cosmetics inside plastic Ziplock bags and I carry extras for the ride home. Liquids can leak so this is just an extra precaution for you too, there’s nothing...

This week at the flip house, my plumber is installing the kitchen faucet. For that space, I chose a champagne brass single handle faucet with built in pull out sprayer and it is a beauty.

I also just replaced the faucet in my kitchen in California, again a sleek single handle faucet with sprayer in a matte nickel finish. And I’ve got my eye on a few different options as an upgrade to my studio kitchen after I replace those countertops. So faucets are on my brain this month.


gramercy in matte black


delancey in stainless steel

As with everything, prices vary, but you can find affordable and stylish kitchen faucets for under $450 and often for half that price. When you think of how many times a day you use a kitchen faucet, good quality and function are key. Style is also important since you’re the one who has to look at it every day.

Things to pay attention to when deciding on a faucet are the clearance from the handle to backsplash and also the spout reach, make sure it fits your sink! Other details to check on with these single handle versions are 1) the docking strength of the pull down sprayer, 2) the flexibility of the hose, and 3) the strength...

Greetings friends! My apologies for the radio silence this week, I was enjoying my last few days in Norway and decided to take the time to recharge my batteries instead of spending time on my laptop.

I just returned last night from an 8 day adventure in Norway and loved every minute! I spent a few days hanging out in Oslo which I’ve been to before. The weather wasn’t great so I spent less time exploring outdoors and more time just relaxing indoors. I especially loved hanging out in the hip neighborhood Grünerløkka and its cafes, bars, and breweries, all different but equally cool. I highly recommend spending an evening or two in that district if you ever travel to Oslo.

The last few days I spent in Bergen, Norway’s second largest city. I arrived by train from Oslo, it’s a 6 hour ride but soooo scenic and relaxing, I chose it over hopping on a one hour flight simply because riding trains through Europe is one of my favorite things in life. I can sit in silence for hours just staring out the window watching the countryside pass by. Also, I find it’s easier hopping on a train then going through the hassle of security at an airport!

You’ll notice a lot of Danish influence in Bergen, simply because Norway was in union with Denmark from the 1500s until 1814. This picturesque postcard view of Bryggen (the dock) shows the commercial buildings that line the harbor of Bergen, it struck me...

Weekend greetings from Norway! I’ve been out and about spending time in Oslo and the neighboring suburbs, seeing things I didn’t see last time I was here. I’m traveling with a friend who lives here in Norway several months out of the year, so it’s nice to have a companion familiar with the area and the language. Although most Norwegians do speak English so there really is no language barrier here, and the people are all extremely kind.

It’s cold of course and yesterday it snowed, but I’ve been fine with my parka and boots. Just like in other snowy climates, people just go about their business and stay really cozy! I’ve been offline mostly, but popping in to share a few favorite links, here you go.

“Scandi meets mid century modern” living room makeover.

Suburban kitchen transformed.

This light and bright Hamptons home renovation feels very fresh.

Smart changes in this modern bathroom makeover.

This wallpaper looks just like tile.

Life lessons from Dolly Parton.

Travel “resolutions” to satisfy wanderlust.

Made me laugh: air travel in real life.


I still haven’t remodeled the master shower in my investment property yet, it’s one of the last remaining projects to do before selling. While looking for inspiration, I stumbled across showers that go beyond one color subway tile and incorporate stripes with tile installed in both basic and creative ways.

It’s a universal design truth: stripes are classic and never go out of style. I’ve seen my share of showers with a singular accent stripe of tile, however these examples show stripes symmetrically balanced throughout the space.

Horizontal stripes widen, while vertical stripes elongate. These showers take on a variety of personalities, from happy to dramatic depending on the color and size of tile used. Her are examples of basic stripes on the wall, but also some creative applications on the floors and walls beyond the shower.


Horizontal Installations

subway tile with dotted liner

style at home

creative pattern with hexagon mosaic


gray marble and white subway tile


the leslie style

smaller scale navy and white mosaic penny tiles


I was in Paris during the summer of 2016, and I spent an afternoon strolling the streets of Montmartre, a district famous for its art shops. That day, one particular painting caught my eye, it was a small yet bright pastel abstract painting that I fell in love with at first sight. Art is something I always look for when I travel, it’s the best kind of souvenir. I bought that little painting that day and I look at it every day where it sits on the shelf in my home office.

I collect landscapes and charcoal illustrations, but abstract art I find most appealing and I’ve collected several of them as well. The medley of colors and brushstrokes convey a different feeling depending on the piece: moody, cheerful, ethereal, etc. If you also collect abstract works, you should know about these talented artists.

1. Patricia Vargas



portfolio / etsy shop / instagram


2. Yang Yang Pan

portfolio / etsy shop /

Hello and happy weekend! Today I’m finishing up some articles for publication on the blog next week so I can relax on my 8 day trip to Norway. I’m excited to see the country in winter having visited last year in late spring. Of course I’ll be taking pictures along the way and sharing favorites on Instagram.

Tomorrow I’m attending a baptism for my nephew, I’m his godmother so I’m quite honored to be a part. I’m also watching the NFL championship games. I don’t really have a favorite this year, but I’m rooting for the Vikings simply because it’s my brother in law’s favorite team and so there you go.

Favorite links:


I love absolutely every detail in this Mediterranean home.

Have you toured the 2018 HGTV Dream Home yet? Very cheerful decor :)

The backwards books trend, silly or stylish?

This kitchen backsplash is very bold.

These gorgeous wedding cakes are stunning works of art.

Jupiter’s clouds look just like a painting.

Interesting: raising a social media star.

I love this dad so much.

Work from home: 100 companies with remote jobs.

10 things learned from traveling to 75 countries.

As a Vespa rider, this tour appeals to me!