Please join Linda, Megan and me as we talk Hollywood and the most famous movie house ever with the woman who designed it, down to the last glass in the kitchen! You do NOT want to miss this one!!!
To listen go to The Skirted Roundtable blog HERE.
Please join Linda, Megan and me as we talk Hollywood and the most famous movie house ever with the woman who designed it, down to the last glass in the kitchen! You do NOT want to miss this one!!!
To listen go to The Skirted Roundtable blog HERE.
In the past year or so since I first showed Sally Wheat’s house, I’ve received many emails about her kitchen. While everyone seems to love her house – it’s the one story on my blog people talk most about – it’s her kitchen that really strikes a chord with so many readers. And for good reason – it’s beautiful – and at the same time, it’s attainable. While unquestionably luxurious, it’s not huge or over the top. It’s size is moderate and the appliances, save for the refrigerator, are all affordable. Because its size is more typical and there isn’t an antique limestone hood for a focal point, the kitchen appeals to a wide range of readers. Those with dated kitchens in need of an updating look at Sally’s kitchen and think: I could have something like that. I know I did.
Sally’s Kitchen: the inspiration behind my own small kitchen remodeling.
After I first went to Sally’s house, seeing her kitchen prodded me to finally give my own kitchen the remodeling it desperately needed. While I couldn’t afford the beautiful Sub-Zero refrigerator she had, I could afford a new stainless one. And while I couldn’t buy new cabinets, I could paint mine gray, like Sally’s. The major elements I chose to copy were the casement windows, the farm sink, and the polished nickel faucet. I had already replaced my hardware, but to do it over again, I would probably have chosen the bin pulls like Sally. Of course, the biggest expense was replacing the tile countertops. Although Sally also has white marble, I would have used it regardless of whether Sally had used black granite. The marble was without a doubt the most important element in my renovation and the one thing I wanted above all else.
My center island holds my cooktop, just like Sally’s does.
Another aspect of our kitchens Sally and I both share are center islands where our cooktops are located. If Sally’s kitchen had a fabulous limestone hood and a chef’s range – it would be focal point, and something that would be out of the price range of most who wanted to copy her look. But it is exactly the lack of such luxury that makes so many people look at her kitchen and realize they could have something very similar.
Case in point. This is quite a stunning kitchen with a gorgeous stone hood. The contrast between the black and white painted cabinets and the white marble and wood countertops keeps it all so interesting. But, copy this kitchen? No. There would be nothing you could do to a “regular” kitchen to make it look anything like this, not with a range hood like this that is such a bold focal point.
Another case in point: A beautiful kitchen like this is just a dream for 99.99% of the world. Even if you wanted to copy this kitchen, it would be virtually impossible to do so unless you had the basic elements: a gloriously tall, pitched ceiling with beams. Everything about this room is custom – the antique stone floor, the stone hood, the windows, the cabinetry. Even the island is a unique antique. I think when searching for inspiration it’s best to be realistic. Find something that you could honestly make your own, rather than reaching for something that will never look as good!
By contrast, Sally Wheat’s wonderful kitchen IS attainable: the size, the style, the painted cabinets, the stainless appliances. While some things in this space may be out of the reach of budget conscious remodelers, it is still full of wonderful elements that most could copy. So, it was no shock when I got an email from a reader in west Houston who had done just that. She had recently completed a remodeling of her house – the living room, dining room, kitchen and family room had all been taken down to the studs. She told me that her new kitchen was modeled after, of course, Sally Wheat’s! When I looked at her pictures of her kitchen, I could immediately see the elements she took from Sally to use in her own kitchen. The homeowner said she used the blog for much of her inspiration. She intently studied Sally’s kitchen, noting which things she loved and which she wanted changed. And though she says the two kitchens don’t look that much alike, Sally’s kitchen was an enormous influence on her. But, it must be noted that the redo was also this homeowner’s vision. And what a vision! What a remodel! Enjoy!
BEFORE: the house has a typical floor plan for Houston. At the entry, the living room, then dining room is located to the left. The family room is straight ahead and looks out to the backyard. The kitchen connects to the dining room and family room. Here you can see the yellow dining room with its large window connected to the kitchen through the door. The family room is on the left, where the bar is. The breakfast room is shown, right off the kitchen. The homeowner could have chosen to do a simple remodeling: freshly painted cabinets, new countertops, new appliances – and maybe new floors. Many people with kitchens like this do just that – and no more. But this homeowner had bigger ideas. She wanted to turn her unused living room into a dining room. The freed up dining room space would become part of the kitchen. The wall between the family room and living room/dining room would be taken down. The entire public area of the house would be open and airy, each room easily accessible from the next. To do this, the walls would have to be taken down to the studs.
DURING: The kitchen was totally removed. The wall between the kitchen and dining room was also removed so that the kitchen would be one large space. You can see where the old terracotta floor in the kitchen was – the dining room’s foundation is slightly higher. It’s so fascinating to look inside the walls at all the pipes and wires! And look how old the wood looks, it’s probably so hard and rigid after being encased inside the sheetrock for so many years.
AFTER: The stunning kitchen is revealed! Isn’t this gorgeous? It’s even more amazing when you realize the homeowner is neither a designer nor an architect – she did this all on her own vision!!! The small kitchen is now long – the former dining room has been added to the square ootage. What was once a small U-shaped kitchen, is now a long galley styled space. The footed cabinetry borrows its look from Sally’s kitchen – in both kitchens the Shaker doors are inset. While the inset doors are more expensive, just adding “feet” to cabinets is a wonderful way to simulate this vintage look when remodeling. Both this homeowner and Sally used bin pulls for hardware – the homeowner purchased hers from Restoration Hardware. Both used white subway tile and dark hardwood floors. A major difference though is this: Sally’s cabinets are gray and her countertops are white marble. This homeowner chose white cabinets and honed black granite countertops. Both are wonderful and highly personal choices – none is either right or wrong. The pendant lights are similar to Sally’s, but not quite the same: Sally bought hers at Brown, the homeowner bought hers at Lighting Headquarters on EBay. The cabinets are painted Sherwin Williams’ Divine White.
BEFORE: The U-shaped kitchen, with the dining room on the left and the breakfast room on the right.
DURING: Looking from the family room, over the counter, into the kitchen. The farm sink has been installed. This sink was one important element that the homeowner wanted to repeat from Sally’s kitchen.
AFTER: The same view looking from the family room into the kitchen. Here you can see an important element that the homeowner borrowed from Sally Wheat: the open overhead cabinets. This feature is quite prominent in Sally’s kitchen, as it is here. Just beautiful! I love the honed black granite – it doesn’t look like granite – it looks more like soapstone. Do you also see the influence of the Something’s Gotta Give kitchen?
DURING: The door between the dining room and the living room is closed off with cabinets and a desk. The dining room window remains in the same spot. Where there was once a small pass through bar – there is now a much more open space between the kitchen and the family room.
AFTER: Where the dining room once was becomes a work area for the homeowner with the addition of a built in desk. I love the leather bench instead of a chair – and I love the cowhide rug! Sally also uses cowhides in her home. The homeowner added pricey looking wooden shutters. The floors are Anderson, hand scraped hardwoods. And of course, all the appliances are stainless. Notice the refrigerator – a trick I used too. Instead of an expensive built in Sub Zero, the cabinets are built out around the refrigerator, where at first glance, it looks like a built in one.
BEFORE: The family room, looking into the kitchen and breakfast room. This entire wall between the kitchen and family room will be removed. The wall between the family room and living room, where the sofa is now, will also be removed.
AFTER: Here is how it looks from the family room into the kitchen. Gone is the doorway and the pass through. Instead there is a large counter and the two rooms flow into each other. So beautiful! The breakfast room gets the wooden shutters too.
BEFORE: A view from the kitchen into the family room. The wall where the sofa is will be removed to open up the living room/dining room to the family room.
DURING: The same view with the wall between the family room and living room/dining room removed. The wall between the family room and the kitchen has also been removed. Suddenly – the small rooms are all open to each and seem much bigger.
AFTER: the view from the family room into the new dining room, which used to be living room – and all closed off. Instead, now the two rooms flow into each other. The once rarely used living room becomes an open dining room which gets much more use and visibility. The former dining room is long gone – it now part of the kitchen.
BEFORE: The family room before the wall between the two rooms was removed. Here you can see the old flooring, the 60’s parquet that is found in every house in West Houston! The dated shelving unit was also replaced.
DURING: The family room is now open to what was once the living room, but will now be the dining room.
AFTER: The view from the kitchen to the family room. The shelving unit was replaced with an attractive console. So much more prettier!!
The homeowner’s new kitchen: notice the brackets placed under the bar; in Sally’s house the similar looking brackets are placed under the overhead cabinets instead. Here, the homeowner copied the bracket elements, but chose to use them in a different way – something to remember. Elements can be utilized differently but still give the same visual effect! Notice, also, the similarity in the overhead cabinets to Sally’s (see below.)
Another look at the inspiration kitchen – notice Sally’s inset cabinets – how similar they look to the homeowner’s and how important an element they are! Also, the farm sink is another important element she chose, as are the white subway tiles. Notice the brackets underneath Sally’s cabinets, the homeowner chose to copy these – but used them instead under her bar counter, thereby getting the same effect. Notice too – how similar the lighting pendants are – another important decorative item in both kitchens.
My kitchen remodel: I used exactly the same trick as the homeowner to make my refrigerator look like a built in Sub Zero does. By adding cabinets above that are the same depth as the refrigerator, the unit looks cleaner lined and more custom. My refrigerator was so inexpensive, yet I think it looks rather great! Asked how and why I chose my particular appliances, I was drawn to the handles. If I liked the handle, I chose that appliance over the next one with the same price.
And finally – one last look at the beautiful new kitchen! Job very well done! I just love this remodel – it is so well thought out by someone who is not a designer or an architect. Not sure they could have done a better job. Many thanks to the homeowner for sharing her new remodel! Congratulations, use it in good health and much happiness!!!!!
Remember – Be sure to share your remodel with us! We love them!!
If you are anywhere near my age and you look up and see these three guys in front of you at the grocery store check-out line, you might get a little thrill! If you are younger, you’d probably say, “who are those three fossils?” For those who don’t know, that’s the Beaver, his brother Wally and the neighborhood bully Eddie. Whoa – are we really THAT old?????? OK, maybe these three are a bad example of getting excited about seeing someone famous.
You have to admit they were a lot cuter back then.
Understand that I’m married. I’m not going to get excited over running into, let’s say, Brad Pitt, at the corner diner.
‘Yeah, sure. Who am I kidding?
Truth be told, this is a man I would actually be thrilled to see in the grocery line: John Saladino, interior designer. Now, a casual run-in with this man would get my elevate my blood pressure. It takes all kinds. I’d love nothing more than to bump into him and finagle a visit to his famous Villa di Lemma.
This past New Years Eve, since Ben and I don’t like to go out that night, he decided to pick up a “fancy” dinner to celebrate the new decade. His choice for “fancy?” A quail dinner at the Goode Company Taqueria. Don’t ask. New Years Eve was an uneventful night for us. Elisabeth was going to a party and then sleeping over there, so it was just the two of us. Ben didn’t even stay up for the big midnight kiss. But I digress. After Ben left to go pick up his fancy quail dinner (I ordered the chili cheeseburger) I promptly dozed off into one of those deep naps where when you wake up you don’t know what day it is, much less what your name is. So, when the delivery boy comes home all excited – it took me a while to grasp what he was saying: “Someone recognized me! Me!!! Someone at Goodes recognized me!!!”
OK, slow down big boy, “tell me the story again” I say as I’m wiping the drool off my face and computer keyboard. I’ll admit he’s cute when he gets all excited about something. He gets real talkative and animated – not his usual m.o.
“I”m telling you someone recognized me! I was getting ready to pay and this woman comes up to me and says ‘Excuse me, but are you Mr. Slipper Socks Man?’
Surely this is a joke. Mr. Slipper Socks Man? Recognized? You’ve got to be kidding me. No. Really? Someone recognized you from the blog?
“Yes!!!! And we talked for a long time too – she was with her husband and sons, she was really nice.” Oy. Now I’m worried about what he actually said to this perfect stranger in the Goodes take-out line. Certainly he couldn’t have talked about my blog, he doesn’t READ it!!! Well, it’s alright - he is quickly approaching his sixth decade and he deserves a small thrill. I know what it’s like to be recognized – and it is exciting!! Houston can be a small town and I’ve been spotted a few times myself. Recently I made a mad dash into a linen shop wearing my pajamas (they’re actually sweats,) no make up, and I had my desperately-need-to-be-replaced glasses on. I can only imagine how frightful my hair looked. I was slightly aggravated when I couldn’t find what I needed and was a little curt with the very young and quite beautiful clerk. After ten minutes of putting up with me being somewhat surly, she quietly says “I like your blog.” Whaaaaaaat??? Effusive apologies about my poor manners gush out from me like a geyser as a much nicer and gentler shopper suddenly invades my body. Yes, I tell Ben, I do know how it feels to be recognized. He was so excited about his New Years Eve rendezvous that it was infectious. I was thrilled for him! He’s a star! Mr. Slipper Socks Man!!! I’d created a character for him to revel in and he was practically walking on air over it all.
I’m feeling just a little bit proud too at this point. Awww. How cute is it?! My Mr. Slipper Socks Man. And then it starts to nag at me, I wonder, how DID someone know who he was? I haven’t put his picture on the blog but maybe three or four times at most. Still, you would need to have a real eagle eye to pick someone out like that in a take-out line, on New Years Eve, at a Taqueria no less. And then, it hits me. Of course! I look down. And I see them.
Yep, you got it! He actually WORE his slipper socks out on New Years Eve! Classy. I know. And I don’t need a million comments to tell me how classless we truly are – I totally agree.
“Are you serious? How COULD you? You wore slipper socks out on New Years Eve?! Have you no shame???? No wonder she knew who you were. She didn’t recognize YOU, she recognized those goofy looking SHOES!” Dufus. I take back everything I said about it being cute. I’ve created a character all right! Next he’ll be wearing zip-up sweaters and welcoming everybody to his little neighborhood.
If you DO happen to see someone dressed like this in your grocery store, just ignore him, ok? Don't encourage him. He’s had enough stardom to last a lifetime and I’m throwing out those stupid slipper sock shoes the minute he takes them off, if he ever does.
Here’s to prove to everyone that he really was a cutie when we married (and truthfully, he still is!!!!) That’s Ben before he was a slipper socks man, with our first dog Reggie, in the first house we owned – almost 19 years ago. The decor was blatantly copied from a Dan Carithers room I had seen in Southern Accents. To read about this room, go HERE.
And how was YOUR New Years Eve?
On to another topic. I was so excited to come home tonight to an unexpected package from Ballard Designs! They really do a cute gift wrap in green with a brown ribbon and a fleur de lis card. My secret admirer is none other than the famous commenter and RMS alum Linda from Arizona. You may know her by her aliases: Linda in AZ and Belle’s Mom. I’m not sure what I did to deserve such a kind gesture – but the card says it reminded her of me.
She sent a set of these adorable zebra files – and the cutest thing is they are khaki green inside. I really needed these – so a huge Thank You Linda! So Much! Poor Linda has been down with a broken back, so if you see her commenting, send a get well wish her way!!
And, there’s nothing I love more than holiday cards, they truly are the highlight of the season for me. This Christmas I got so many cards from readers and other design bloggers, I was thrilled!! I tried to thank everyone who sent a card – but it’s possible I missed a few. If you are one whom I didn’t acknowledge, please accept my sincere apology and thank you! I love all different kinds of cards, the ones with pictures of children and pets and the more serious ones with a religious sentiment inside. I also love the typed year end recaps, where all the highs and lows are reduced to one piece of paper. Ben and I never sent out holiday cards with Elisabeth all dressed in her season finery, which is something I now truly regret since she is too old to pose! Hopefully she’ll do it with her own family one day and I’ll look forward to seeing my grandchildren all dressed up in smocked dresses and suspender shorts!
Finally, don’t forget to listen to this week’s Skirted Roundtable HERE with House Beautiful editor Stephen Drucker. So far, all the reviews have been mostly very positive – so don’t miss out, especially if you are a fan of the magazine. We have a special surprise coming next week – I’ll just say two words: It’s Complicated!!!!
Reading my recently purchased book “Perfect Curtains” by Stephanie Hoppen – I kept stopping to linger over different photographs which all turned out to be the work of the same designer for the same hotel project. I’d never heard of the designer, nor the project – so of course being the nosey and inquisitive person I am – a cursory Google search ended up being an all day affair. I swear, sometimes I wish nobody had ever invented Google! I’d get a lot more accomplished around here if I didn’t have to go from one website to another to another just to scratch an inquisitive itch.
A bathroom in the Cape Grace featuring African Sketchbook fabrics.
What caught my eye in the photographs was the fabric – an unusual textile with words imprinted on it. At first I thought maybe the fabric was old feed bags – which I confess I am obsessed with these days – and I don’t care how trendy they are either!!! But on closer examination, this fabric wasn’t rustic at all - rather it was refined, as if someone had taken a giant ink pen and gracefully written all over a beautiful piece of silk dupioni. What in the world is it?
Curtains made of silk dupioni – with a story handwritten all over it in beautiful script.
The fabric, I discovered, was by African Sketchbook and 6500 yards of it was commissioned by interior designer Kathi Weixelbaumer for her latest job – refurbishing the classic Cape Grace hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. I pride myself on my knowledge of fabric, but African Sketchbook is a new one for me, as was the designer Kathi Weixelbaumer. For the hotel’s decor, Weixelbaumer wanted the 150 rooms to be different – so 50 new patterns of the fabric were created to satisfy. African Sketchbook recently won an award by Elle Decor for this commission – and with good reason. The fabrics are not just a backdrop to the hotel – they actually tell the story of Cape Town’s history. Through their murals and the writings and drawings on fabric the story of Cape Town’s maritime history comes alive. Much attention was paid to the 17th century’s Dutch East India Company which used the Cape’s Victorian and Alfred Waterfront, that the hotel faces, for their route between Holland and the far East. The Cape’s history is closely tied to this trade route: the Cape was actually developed as a halfway point for the ships, where they could be mended and fresh produce grown there would be for the famished sailors during the next portion of their long trip. Cape houses were furnished with the goods that the traders used for bartering: the porcelains, furniture, silver and paintings. Along with the fabrics, Weixelbaumer wanted to use the tale of the rich trading history in the furnishings themselves – so a massive buying spree ensued. Scores of antiques were bought in large parcels to outfit the lobbies and rooms. Weixelbaumer says that tourists don’t want to stay in a typical Tuscan inspired hotel – instead they want to be enveloped by local culture. By using the antiques and artifacts of the Cape, the area’s history becomes a story for the hotel guests. In the end, a large portion of the budget went into the antiques, they became a collection that would withstand future remodeling. As Weixelbaumer noted, antiques increase in value – new furniture doesn’t. She was, thus, turning her design scheme into a wise investment for the owners. This investment consisted of over 500 Cape antiques which are now part of a collection displayed throughout the hotel. To show off the smallest items in the collection, she hung metal display boxes along the long corridors for visitors to examine and admire. Guests of the Cape Grace stay among these fine antiques and textiles that together clearly tell the history of Cape Town.
This lobby vignette shows the Cape’s maritime history through the mural of the waterfront and the Cape antiques such as the furniture, the anchor, the copper.
When it came time to chose the fabric for the large project, Weixelbaumer didn’t have to look far – African Sketchbook was located in Cape Town. Their fabrics are all hand painted by artists who are hired locally and then taught the intricacies of fabric making. African Sketchbook is helping the economy by hiring people who would otherwise be unemployed in this country where vast numbers of the lower class struggle financially. With this large project, African Sketchbook set out to create fabrics that would continue the storytelling that the antiques began. The designs are based on the Cape’s history, the trading companies, the porcelains, the spices – its’ all there to be deciphered in the murals and silks. The fabrics became an important part of the hotel’s total design and it is hard to imagine the Cape Grace without these highly unusual, yet haughtily beautiful textiles flowing from windows and spread out on walls.
African Sketchbook was not the only local company that Weixelbaumer employed – she used a blacksmith to create historically accurate metal work and a lighting designer, also from the Cape, who created the one of a kind chandeliers found throughout the hotel. Today, the Cape Grace is enjoying a great resurgence in popularity because of the remodeling. Although it has a reputation of catering to the upper classes (there is a yacht parked out front that is available for rent) it’s prices are such that many travelers can afford its luxury and superb service. For me, though, I would visit for one reason – to examine in person all the antiques and fabrics – what a treat that would be!!
The Cape Grace has a prominent place on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the historical main route of 17th century spice traders.
A day view of the hotel with Table Mountain in the background. The hotel’s private yacht is parked outside. The boat’s interiors were also updated!
The lobby has much of Weixelbaumer’s design elements on display: the African Sketchbook fabric with script, the wide-striped painted walls, metal furniture, and one of a kind chandeliers. This patterned carpet runs throughout the hotel and into the rooms. The blue and white porcelains displayed here and in many other areas are reminders of the items that were used in trade during the 17 and 18th centuries. The tall wing chairs with the African Sketchbook fabrics are quite distinctive here.
The same room as above, but facing the opposite side, is lined with bookshelves and silk dupioni curtains with beautiful penmanship, telling the story of the Cape’s history. These curtains are fabulous – full and lush. The script adds such a beautiful touch to the fabric.
The Fourth Floor Lobby: Antique Cape furniture is featured throughout the Cape Grace. The wall hanging depicts a visual history of the area – hand painted by African Sketchbook. The yellow and white fabric with script continues the striped theme found elsewhere.
A closeup of the beautiful yellow striped fabric and mural depicting the maritime history of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.
A close up view of the same room, showing the striped silk curtains with hand painted script. I would love to know what the fabric says!
Another corner showing the gorgeous curtain fabric mixed with a complimentary striped fabric. The blue and white porcelains are wonderfully oversized!
The large main dining room is composed of several separate eating areas. A mirrored ceiling reflects it all. Here some of the chairs are upholstered in a script fabric, while others resemble corsets.
A close up of the main dining room fabric, upholstered on the back of the chairs. A large mural from African Sketchbook is hanging on the back wall.
Copper kitchenware hangs from an antique shelf in front of the striped wall in this area. And here, you can see the corset like upholstery used on these chair backs.
A valuable Cape antique resides in the dining room, in front of another African Sketchbook mural. Contemporary Louis Ghost chairs are mixed in with all the priceless antiques, keeping the decor from being too serious and stuffy. Weixelbaumer, a popular Cape Town interior designer, is known for her busy and cluttered interiors. She is not a minimalist, as the hotel shows!
This 18th century cabinet is considered the most valuable item in the hotel’s collection. It stands in front of a beautiful mural depicting the waterfront in Cape Town.
More antiques from Cape Town’s history are displayed here – great ladder!
In the Imari lobby (each floor has its own decorated lobby) homage is paid to Japanese Imari, another product traded during the early history of the Cape. African Sketchbook created the drawing of the large piece of Imari.
In one of the suites – another mural by African Sketchbook is used in the dining room. Notice the wonderful curtain fabric used here.
This fabric shows the ships from the trading company times. The ships are hand painted on the striped fabric.
Another view of the red striped Maritime themed room. The chest is antique. I love how the curtains throughout are so full and many have a ruffled header – very unusual in a hospitality setting.
This beautiful suite is furnished in fabrics that represent the blue and white porcelains that were traded during the Dutch East India Company’s time. More blue and white porcelain decorates the room. I adore the striped fabric in the light and dark blues – the same fabric is also made in red stripes. I think this is my favorite suite.
Another bathroom, with the same fabric, marble, and a small antique child’s chair. Weixelbaumer said that after she added the antique cupboard and chair to this room – “it instantly started to look different and exciting.” Again, antiques used in hotel rooms like this is highly unusual. It adds such a warm touch and makes the room resemble a home more than a hotel suite.
A view of a standard room, with the antique wakis in front of the bed – the stripes in this room are painted on the headboard.
And another standard room, showing the African Sketchbook fabric depicting the flowers of the Cape. The quilted and studded leather ottoman is a design element repeated throughout the hotel, as are the painted wide-striped walls.
From each room there is a view of either the Table, the large mountain, the waterfront or the marina.
The yacht for private excursion is a much touted feature of the Cape Grace.
This photo is taken in the Cape Town workroom of African Sketchbook. The artists are seen actually painting on the fabric.
Another picture from the workroom.
I hope you enjoyed seeing these interesting and beautiful fabrics from African Sketchbook. For more information on the fabrics, go to their web site HERE. To order the book, Perfect Curtains, by Stephanie Hoppen, go HERE.