Style Defined: Tropical by Kimberly Reuther

As we approach the heat of the summer months, I am inspired by the tropics where it is warm all year round.  The ocean is near, palm trees are in abundance and daily life is about staying cool.  The vacation-inspired vibe is envious and actually pretty accessible in your own home.  Here a few photos and tips to help you achieve your own oasis!

1.  Crisp white color palettes are always refreshing and fairly easy to achieve.  Using a semi-gloss paint on walls and floors is more reflective and easier to keep clean.  White linen slipcovers and gauzy drapery panels evoke the casual, relaxed atmosphere of the tropics.

2.  MIxing bold, bright colors and multiple patterns are easy ways to create the drama and intensity of the sun.  Saturate your walls or floors with an intense hue derived from the sea or refinish multiple picture frames for a quick colorful collage.

3.  Incorporating natural and organic elements into your design will create a sense of harmony.  Sisal or seagrass make perfect rugs in high traffic areas.  Palm trees and tropical flowers are increasingly popular indoors even as far inland as Missouri.  If nothing else, create your tropical retreat in an outdoor area which can be put away during winter months.

Previously written by Kimberly for St. Louis AT HOME’s website.  Read more of Kimberly’s work and view her portfolio at www.kimberlyreuther.com.

Bottom Line: White Kitchen Countertops by Kimberly Reuther

You’ve seen them everywhere lately, it seems.  No, I’m not talking about holiday decorations (although that is true, too).  I’m talking about white countertops, mainly marble.  They are in design magazines, on TV shows, in hotels & restaurants and even your neighbor’s newly renovated kitchen.  They are beautiful and alluring yet you are wondering if they are right for your home with 3 kids, 2 pets and a less than tidy husband.  But mainly you are asking yourself, “what’s the bottom line?”.

Kitchen Inspiration

Kitchen Inspiration

Here is some insight into the more popular choices and how they work with your lifestyle and your budget.

White Marble: Marble is a very porous natural stone and is less durable than granite, which is why it is isn’t commonly used in American kitchens.  It is prone to scratching, staining and chipping.  While it is very beautiful, there is a good amount of maintenance that keeps it looking that way.

All natural stone needs to be sealed (and re-sealed periodically) to keep out moisture and resist staining but it is not an impenetrable shield.  You have to be more careful with marble and acidic liquids (lemon juice, red wine) which will stain or etch the marble.  Also, some bath products, like sugar scrubs will etch marble.  It is a good idea to always use a cutting board, both to protect the sealer and your knives as well as guard against bacteria.  Lastly, use hot pads or trivets to protect the stone from heated cookware.  Of note: most marble is available polished or honed (matte) and has a variety of edge options.

Before you get discouraged, keep in mind that Europeans have been using marble for sculptures, building facades and of course countertops for centuries.  It has proven that it will stand the test of time, it just won’t look the same as the day it was installed.  Here are two of my favorites:

Carrera Marble: This is a more readily available white marble with a slight grey cast.  Slabs will very greatly from light grey to a mid tone grey.  There is a lot of soft movement in the dark grey veining; some slabs maybe more “busy” than others.  It is very important to hand-select your slabs to your personal taste.  Carrera marble looks beautiful with polished nickel fixtures and is available in a range of coordinating tiles to complete the space.

Price Range: approx. $70 – $80/sq. ft.*

Close-up of Carrera Marble

Carrera Marble Bathroom Countertop

Calacata Marble:  If you are looking for a creamier white marble with warmer, taupe or camel colored veins, this is it.  These marble slabs are more exotic and therefore come with a much higher price tag and possibly longer lead times.  You also want to hand-select this stone as it has a lot of variation.  Nonetheless, from a designer’s perspective, Calacata marble has such an exquisite aesthetic that it almost doesn’t compare.

Price Range: approx. $120 – $150/sq. ft*

Close-up of Calacata Marble

Calacata Marble Kitchen Countertop

Quartzstone:  Manufactured quartz has become an increasingly popular choice in recent years, for both commercial and residential projects.  It is more durable than granite, does not have to be sealed, requires little or no maintenance, is anti-bacterial, has multiple edge options and some colors even include recycled content.

Manufacturing stone to give it the best possible features & benefits is a little like gene mutation to me.  However, once I saw slabs of this installed, I was very impressed.  I do think the granite-looking color choices need a bit more work but they have really excelled at the marble and limestone alternatives.  In fact, they keep getting better at it.  I often refer clients to explore these options as alternatives to white marble if maintenance is a major concern.

Price Range: approx. $65 – $95/sq. ft.*

Caesarstone Misty Carrera: One of the first of its kind and still a favorite.  It’s soft grey background with darker grey veins has a subtle movement that fools the eye into thinking it may be marble.  It is available in both honed and polished finishes.

Close-up of Caesarstone Misty Carrera

Caesarstone Countertop

Zodiaq Bianco Carrera: I love this because they have succeeded in adding large scale movement to a manufactured product.  It is also of the creamy white family which is rare to find and is equally stunning in traditional or contemporary applications.

Close-up of Zodiaq Bianca Carrera

Zodiaq Countertop

Concrete:  Want something more modern & less busy? I have to mention this because I am also a fan of this material for several reasons.  I own a white concrete countertop (2 years & counting) and it is beautiful and durable.  It was manufactured by a St. Louis company and it is made of concrete in the form of a powder.  They are able to make any color out of a paint fan deck, can make integral sinks, and have several unique edge options.  They mix it together, mold it, put a sealer on it and deliver it just like a regular countertop, no on-site pouring.  It is not porous so it doesn’t need to be resealed as often as natural stone, it is stronger than granite, has recycled content and is made here locally so it is very good for the environment.   I had them do a custom “pure white” for me and I love how the color turned out.  Of note: different finishes are available but there is no movement or veining in this product.

Price Range: approx. $70 – $80/sq. ft.*

My white concrete countertop

Bottom Line:  Americans tend to base their selections on how well things “age” and we are inclined to replace things without letting them age “gracefully”.  Keeping longevity and your budget in mind will help you make the best selection for your lifestyle.

*Note: pricing by square feet is for general use and is best for budgeting purposes.  Actual pricing for your project depends on a lot of variables including size, cutouts, edge options, color, etc.  Pricing estimates provided by CK Concrete, Hallmark Stone & ISC Surfaces

Originally written by Kimberly for AT HOME’s website.  View the post here.  You can see more of Kimberly’s work here.

 

DIY – Chevron Pattern Dresser – Kimberly Reuther

Those who know me best are well aware of my ability to envision possibilities in almost any space and are always pleased with the finished product. However, knowing my visionary ability means they are also cognizant of my low tolerance for detail work and executing these visions myself.

Therefore, when I conceptualized transforming this drab dresser into a modern classic a mere 2 weeks before my Habitat for Humanity deadline, I received a lot of eyebrow raises and not a lot of paintbrushes raised. Which is not quite what I had hoped, as I am also acutely aware of my shortcomings. But alas, I couldn’t let my weakness (nor sleep) stand in the way of my imagination.

See before shots of the dresser and a pillow which provided inspiration (and most of the eyebrow raises, I confess).

before shot

 

inspiration photo

Luckily, my dad was willing to help with the basecoat of paint and then turned it over, in his words “you’re on your own, kid”. He didn’t want to touch that chevon pattern with a ten foot pole. Neither did my aunt, the queen of DIY projects, who I thought would surely have some sage advice.

So, I guess it really was up to me…hmmm, where to begin? On top of my habitat project, I had quite a few other things on my plate and didn’t have a lot of time to devote to getting this completed. The first few evenings were spent trying to get the dimensions of the chevron pattern down and figure out a template to apply the contrasting color. I painted the drawers white and was using the orange as the contratst. I would give you pointers but I honestly don’t know how I figured it out and I threw away the paint-crusted template as soon as I was done. I got so frustrated at one point that I almost gave up. The template moved while I tried to apply the orange paint which required 6 hours of touching up the white and creating “edges” where there were none. My dad came back on the project to apply the clear coats and the handles since I had run out of time & energy!

 

chocolate paint coat applied

chevron pattern on drawers!

After all the work, I am very happy with how the dresser turned out. The homeowner is extremely pleased as well. I don’t know that I would attempt it again but I feel proud that I was able to execute my vision on my own. I now have a much greater respect for other DIY-ers and especially my dad. Thank you for the help!

finished product - voila!

Originally written by Kimberly for St. Louis AT HOME’s website.  View the post here.  You can see more of Kimberly’s work here.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland by Kimberly Reuther

As many people know I am a huge fan of anything white. White has been a very popular trend in design in recent years from the casual, Coastal Living style to the minimalist ice white design. During this time of year, how do you incorporate holiday spirit without adding color? Actually, neutral color schemes require the same balance all year round: texture, texture, texture. Layers of texture and subtle color changes make neutrals work.

For the holidays, adding in a bit of sparkle transforms your space into a wintery escape. Clear glass, mercury finishes, glitter, metallic sheens coupled with earthy burlap textures, wool fabrics, tweed, raffia, and twigs create just the right balance of textures. Here are a few ideas to try out in your home. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Gray has become the new black as of late. What better way to show off white elements than to put them in front of a gray backdrop. Notice how the textures of the pillows and screen work to reflect light and soften the deep gray sofa. Also, the simple glass vases in a multitude of shapes and colors add a bit of whimsy to the space.

Woodland elements with a modern twist are perfect for adding the layers of texture to a white space. Adding in garland and oversized ornaments can transform any mantel, console or buffet in an instant.

Originally written by Kimberly for Freshome.  View more of Kimberly’s work at kimberlyreuther.com.

 

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