Renovation Updates: Kitchen, Floors and My Self Doubt

There was a ton of progress made last week on our house!  We are about 2 weeks from being completely done with the kitchen and I am feeling both insanely excited and “not sleeping” nervous-  my self doubt about design decisions are creeping in in dark corners of my mind and I have to work hard to bat them away in favor of gratitude and confidence!

Lets start with the floors- we are still living upstairs where the floors are done while the Wellbuilt crew waits for for the appliances, counters and cabinets to be finished up before they do their last coat of poly.  But one thing I am VERY happy about is the color! Dark but not too dark and shiny but not glossy. Perfect!


A close up of the finish- as I mentioned before, I have white oak floors and this was a 50/50 mix of Minwax Ebony and Jacobean.


However, even while these are not super dark floors, you guys were right- vacuuming daily is going to be a new hobby for me!  One thing I am pondering is whether or not to paint or banister railing white like the spindles or attempt to match it to the floors- because it’s so old and darkly stained my dad and others have said it’ll be nearly impossible to get it the same color…. which will bug me.  So I keep coming back to this image.  I’m doing a similar runner, our floors are close and this even looks just like our banister!  Thoughts?


The amazing team at Vermont Custom Cabinetry worked tirelessly to fit my new cabinets onto my somewhat uneven floor (damn old subfloors!)  Seriously, they stayed until 7:30 on Friday night to make sure we could get our template done for our counters the next day!)  I am thrilled with the layout and insanely solid quality of the cabinets so far!  Our kitchen is small, but we are going to have so much storage and it opened up the space SO much!


I lost a lot of sleep regarding the color of the lower cabinets- I thought I should have done all white, then though I should have done grey uppers too- then decided I had made the right call given our space except…. I wish I had gone a little darker on the grey.  The color choice TORTURED me as you might remember…. and I was too scared going any darker would make our already dark kitchen too bottom heavy with the dark floors.  I should have listened to my gut and kept testing.  BUT, I have a sneaking suspicion that once the amazing Bianco Macaubus counter tops go in and white subway backsplash and grey/white grasscloth in the dining area are up I will feel more confident in my color choice (which is Benjamin Moore Cape May Cobblestone).

What I do know for sure- it’s lightyears better then my current basement “kitchen”. Glamorous, no? Lamp with no shade. Solo cups. Paper plates. BUCKETS of wine. All class.


My grout decisions compared to lower cabinets…. slightly darker than cabinets or exact same color? Andrew looked at these and insisted I was tricking him as they are the SAME EXACT COLOR! I was all, are you blind? They are SO different! Mars/ Venus….sheesh.

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I’m going with the one on the right. Unless y’all confuse me.

Also, I chose this AMAZING Rohl facuet that blended modern and country styling and did it in chrome- even thought my hardware is matte brass.  Mixing metals is all kinds of hip now.  And of course now I’m thinking I should have done an unlacquered brass faucet. I want to punch myself with these thoughts!!!!!!

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One other doubt I am having is about the thing I BASED MY WHOLE KITCHEN ON!  My Hicks pendants.  There are design elements out there, like the Hicks, that are everywhere.  Seen all over Pinterest, blogs and the like.  I am fighting the internal battle over something I truly LOVE vs. using something that tons of people have.  I also am a little concerned about them being so heavy in the low ceiling/ small kitchen.  Andrew held one up in the space and I did like the look- I can;t help it, I love those darn pendants.  But I also found these online and like them too – the brass and glass might be lighter and more open. I DOOOOON’T KNOOOOWWW.  I am my own worst client.

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Speaking on this space, I still have not decided on the dining room fixture right next to discussed pendants.  I did finally see the Arteriors one I love in person, as we put it in one of my client’s spaces this past week. It’s THE HOTNESS (and this was taken mid install- she’ll probably kill me for posting) :)


But I just don’t know! God, I suck!

One thing I DO know about is the powder room wallpaper, Hicks Hexagon from Cole & Sons– another case of something seen a lot but I do not care because it looks AMAZEBALLS!!!!!!! I came home Friday to it complete and nearly feel to my knees in happiness. I cannot wait to have everything reinstalled and my window treatments to be made and put up!!!


Andrew says he might get a seizure when he goes in here, but tough stuff, big guy. It’s worth it.


One fun weekend win- this awesome vintage brass fireplace screen complete with lions on the corners. A score at $130 at the Sowa Market!  I continue to try to blend traditional and modern and  vintage and new in this house!


Counters go in Thursday, appliances Monday and tile after that!!! We are getting close!


  1. Love the updates. Love your blog! Random question… In your basement kitchen, what is the coffee maker? Do you like it? Our keurig just broke and I am on a desperate hunt for a new coffee maker! Thanks!

  2. I’m loving all your choices and your truthfulness through the process. It’s refreshing to see that everyone struggles with indecision in their choices. That being said, your house is looking SICK!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

  3. Looks great–cannot believe how much progress you have made! And great score on the fender; I have one that is very similar, and I know it cost me more.

  4. Erin, I painted my banister and spindles in our staircase and I absolutely love it. Go for it! I struggle nonstop with the whole “it’s everywhere I look but I love it anyway” thing too. Sometimes I wait so long I end up changing my mind completely, or become frozen and can’t make a single decision. But your taste is amazing so go with your gut! Love love love the cabinet color. We chose a light grey grout for our subway tile as well and it’s perfect. The pics are so obviously different ;)

  5. Go for the Hicks. If you love it, you love it. And I am glad you went for the chrome faucet. More practical, in my opinion,and its nice to mix it up.
    Totally relate to you on the being the worst client part. I think I changed my bathroom design 3 drastic times. (All of which I shared online- how embarrassing!)

  6. Erin,

    Not sure if your stairs are stained yet, but I would go black on the handrail…especially with the gray, white, black backdrop of your house. If the treads and risers aren’t painted yet, I’d do black on the treads and white on the raisers too.

    Also, my vote is for the Hicks pendants…it was your gut choice, which is always the right choice in my book:) Can’t wait to see the finished spaces!

  7. I went dark brown on my bannister to match my floors (though mine is just on the wall – no spindles) and am kicking myself for not going black. Just a thought. I also think that both grouts will work great. The lighter one is going to give you plenty of pop! Everything is looking great!

  8. You have seriously made my morning. I LOVE everything you have done thus far. I’m indecisive too…so I feel you!
    Go with what you love. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  9. Just power through, you are going to get so confused from all the comments you get today! It’s all going to be an improvement. Those pendants are totally blog central right now and you have a small space so clear will open it up, but they will both match perfectly. Can you bring both home and hold them up? That’s really the only way to test out. Do you have to decide on the bannister right away? Can you let it simmer? BOO on the runner. Lion heads on the fireplace, lion head at the front door and lion hide/leopard on the stairs! Are you kidding? Sense of humor. Tell the husband after it’s installed. It’s a neutral and your trademark. Smile everytime you come home? Jonathan Adler would approve! Ok so I just confused you more…

  10. Love your floors! Just asked my husband how much it would cost to redo ours the same color. He laughed. I’m living vicariously through you! Don’t second guess yourself. Your choices are beautiful.

  11. I would paint the bansiter white if getting the color right is going to be too tough, its going to drive you bananas if its off. BUT, it might be far enough away from the floor to where close might not look off… hmmmm…

    The Hicks pendants are awesome. Defintely should keep those.

    And the powder bath wallpaper is fantastic. Small spaces with busy wallpaper is always a win.

    I love the vintage find, and it will carry the brass theme into the house.

    It’s going to look so great! Congrats.

  12. I think definitely paint the bannister black. The white will grime up over time with hands running over it. The grout choice is perfect and I think go with your gut with the Hicks lights. Everything is going to be amazing!

  13. I loooove the SOWA vintage market and we hit it every time we pass through Boston! I’m also notorious for passing up things I love because I see them everywhere or everyone has it. Seth is pretty good about talking me down and making it about “me” again, not everyone’s perception of me. There’s a reason everyone loves them. And just think, every time you see and love them on pinterest or in magazines you’ll look up and see yours and be happy you’re one of those people lucky enough to enjoy them in real life!

  14. love it all! Where are those clear pendants from?I have been looking for clear pendants for my kitchen for some time, have not seen those before! Thanks!

  15. For what it’s worth, I died a little when I saw the clear glass and brass pendants….I love light and airy things. I also have this major problem with wanting to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Regardless, I’m fairly confident you can’t go wrong either way.

  16. It’s going to be amazing! I had the same problem of trying to match my stair railing to my floors so I painted the spindles white and the rest black. I love it!

  17. I agree with the hicks pendents and think they might be too heavy in your kitchen. you don’t want them to be an obstacle in the view line when you are cooking. how low would they go? I really like the glass/brass because they provide the light you need but since they are glass are not such a physical divider. I am going to redo kitchen hopefully in a year but our house is very old and I love you are updating but not going truly modern. nice work!

  18. I would consider black on the banisters vs. brown.
    And advice on sources for sisal stair runners?
    I’m looking to do one (with a coordinating floor runner for my hallway) and haven’t had much luck.
    Hang in there! The house is looking amazing!

  19. Good Morning! Clearly the grout on the right (silverado?) – Stick with the Hicks, they’ll look beautiful in your space – as for the banister…if your runner has a black edge I’d do a black rail but if it’s brown/beige I’d go with the tone of the floors. Doesn’t have to be a perfect match – Beware of white rails in a family home, they become dirty/dingy and will make you crazy – The powder room paper is beyond! You’re doing an amazing job!!

  20. All your choices are wonderful, can’t go wrong either way. Your bathroom will make you happy every time you go in it. I happen to love the glass and brass pendant – is it to the trade only or can you share the source?

  21. Funny to see my dining room on the blog today! Please ignore the overflow junk in the background ;-) I love the Hicks pendants…trust your instincts, it looks fab so far. Plus, that means I can put the glass/brass ones in my kitchen!

  22. You are going to go crazy with all the comments today, so I say go with your gut feeling. I would also suggest that you try not to second guess yourself but that is probably not possible. Love the wallpaper in the bathroom and the cabinet colors and I agree with your choice of grout. Although you see the pendants all over blogs and Pinterest, are they really being installed everywhere, or are they just on everyone’s “want” list? If you truly love them, stay with that choice. I hate having what everyone else has or wants, but your house will truly be unique and will reflect your taste even if it has the same light fixtures. If there is anything that I would second guess, it is the brass faucet. I don’t mind mixing metals but I am loving brass right now (the real thing with a little patina) – especially brass fixtures. The only drawback would be that it is never going to look sparkling clean. Can you live with that? If not, stick with the chrome.

  23. Hi Erin. The house is looking beautiful. I wanted to ask you about your floors. It looks like you stained the floors without removing the floor moldings. Did you do anything special to protect them or did you just use blue tape? I would like to do my floors but am very worried about ruining my molding. Thank you!

  24. A couple quick opinions…

    Stairs: Love the white painted spindle idea, but not in love with the matching white handrail and end posts… Maybe stain those to closely resemble the floor color, if not a touch darker. Or, paint the handrail and posts black if your stair runner has any amount of black bits in it.

    Kitchen backsplash grout: Love your choice: the lighter option on the right.

    Pendants: Although the Hicks pendants are gorgeous, the secondary option is an amazing option- I totally prefer it. It has a bit of Italian modern with the traditional satin brass core, and besides pioneering these because they are not so overdone, the juxtaposition between your traditional bits and these pendants alongside your more modern kitchen faucet will look amazing!!

  25. I LOVE your grey cabinets, you made the right choice!! Also I love the inspiration picture for your entry, I think painting the bannister and handrail white looks fresh and clean with your dark floors and seagrass, another option is to paint your handrail and bannister glossy black. Also the hicks pendants are AMAZING, don’t second guess them, they will look great!

  26. Hi Erin. My husband and I are in the process of buying our first home, and I imagine I’ll be in your indecisive shoes in the coming year(S). EVERYTHING you picked is amazing. Specifically LOVE the pendants (both of them), faucet and wallpaper. I feel like you can’t make a wrong decision at this point, everything you’ve narrowed down to is gorgeous. And your client’s home looks amazing, wow girl!

  27. Good Morning, Erin. Your home looks wonderful so far and it has been a small thrill to read your blog and see updates on the renovation. Although I think the Hicks pendants are a design classic, my gut says go for the second option. It is fresh, a perfect compliment to your modern + classic sensibitities and different! If you’re worried the Hicks lights are overdone…you’re probably right. Cabinets, floors and trim are so tricky to change, but a light, not so much. I bet if you install the brass/glass option you’ll love the look, feel like a design pioneer and smile every time you walk downstairs.

  28. Everything looks amazing thus far!! If you want the banister to remain the background, keep it in the creamy white. But if you want it to stand out, I agree with many of the ladies above–Go with a high gloss black banister. I suppose it depends on what the rest of your entry looks like. Is it a really clean space or is there more pattern and texture? A black banister in the photo featured above would certainly draw your eye in towards it and away from the rest of the features of the room. In a hallway with more going on, black wouldn’t stand out quite as much.

    I love the faucet and the pendants! At the end of the day, you can always change your hardware if you get tired of the brass, but to change out the fixtures poses much more of a hassle and an expense. While I am a MAJOR brass lover, I think chrome fixtures, particularly in the style you have chosen, are always a classic.

    Keep up the great work!! You’re doing an amazing job! I think we have the same problem in that we love too many things and too many different styles. If you were a design robot with one look, honestly, you’d have an easier time. But that’s the best part about your work…it reflects your love for so many different eras and aesthetics. That love for everything is precisely what makes your designs exciting and always surprising!

    P.s. That vintage brass fireplace screen…I die. It killed me. Seriously, I’m dead. This isn’t even me typing anymore.

  29. It looks amazing, since I was wondering what color you selected for the cabinets your timing was perfect. I love the new light, who makes it?

  30. Love it all! Trust your gut, it hasn’t let you down yet! I have major home envy!!! Who makes the clear/brass pendants? I’m in love!!!

  31. Hi there – amazing work and so fun to follow, congrats! your stairs and banister will look wonderful any direction you go but here is my $0.02 – we have very dark floors and white spindles with a light stair runner and we just painted our banister (that originally matched the floors) a glossy black and we love it. it’s the perfect update and it matches the front door which is in very close proximity. it works for us! good luck and get some sleep!

  32. Wow your home is really coming along! I’m in love with that wallpaper!!! Definitely the right choice on the grout colour, go with the one that matches exactly. Also love the chrome faucet. I love the Hicks pendants, but I have to say those other pendants are quite tempting and may leave the space feeling more open, like you said. Either way, this kitchen is going to be amazeballs and I have serious, serious design envy!


  33. Remodeling can be so fun and yet so stressful, somehow more so when its for your own home. I can dish out ideas for friends all day long and then second guess every decision when it comes to my own home. Not sure why that is!? I will say I always find great inspiration from your blog and of course today I am lusting after those hardwood floors. Way on the top of my need list:)

  34. Everything looks amazing! I too become almost paralyzed at making decisions for my own home..its so frustrating. For vacuuming your floors go buy a swiffer’s only like $40 and is awesome for “in between” vacuuming. It has saved my sanity and made me love my dark floors even more! Good luck with everything…its looking amazing!!!

  35. I too love the Hicks pendant and was wandering what the largest one would look like over the dining room table instead of 2 over the island? But you obviously know what your doing and it will turn out amazing any way you go. I’m so jealous!

  36. Congrats on everything so far! It’s really moving along at a great pace.

    As far as the banister, I would avoid painting it white. It will get dirty in no time, no matter how clean you keep your hands. I would go for the brown banister and white spindles. I had brown banister, white spindles and white risers with carpeting. Our hardwood floor was close to the same color as banister, but not exact. Not sure if you remember it when you came to my house. I’ll send you a picture.

    Also, I had to laugh about your conversation with Andrew about the grout and tile. I saw the difference immediately and my husband thought I was insane and couldn’t see it.

    You’re doing a great job!

  37. We’ve just moved to San Francisco from Australia and I am furnishing our new apartment completely from scratch – we wanted to start fresh and didn’t bring a stick of furniture with us. I COMPLETELY understand the decision paralysis: I order things, then second guess myself, overthink what will look good where, meticulously plan and budget and research for hours only to change my mind completely. Its the challenge and the liberation of a blank slate I think – there are so many directions you can go that you literally don’t know which way to turn! Having said that, your place is looking great so just stick to your guns. Your choice of grey for the kitchen is lovely… and if in the end you decide it does need to be darker, its just paint! Easily fixed :) I really enjoy seeing your house renovations and I appreciate your honesty during the process. Can’t wait to see more as it all comes together!

  38. the glass/brass pendants are gorgeous…and not played out (even though the hicks are classic). there’s a reason you’re second-guessing the hicks. also seems the glass/brass combo is a better sync w/that amazing light you used for your client if you decide to pull the trigger. i died when i read “no regrets” comment…the lion on the door, fireplace screen + a leopard runner would be pretty insane (in a good way!).

  39. Don’t second guess the Hicks pendants! That has been one thing you have been sure about from the beginning. I still think they look great and I don’t think they are over-used. Maybe in the design world, but for normal people like me they are still fabulous. Everything is coming together perfectly!

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