Thursday, May 12, 2016

What's Old Is New Again

Hello there, avid home decorator, designer, DIYer, contractor extraordinaire. Welcome to our first blog post of Inspired Home with Jason and Gretchen. A new blog series we are writing for WLKY. We are a husband and wife team who build and design locally in the Louisville area. Both Bellarmine grads, and parents to three terrific sons, we have literally built a life that we both enjoy and love. Jason is a local registered homebuilder and co-owns Artisan Signature Homes with his business partner Jimmy King. I'm a small business owner that runs a local boutique in Norton Commons, called Lulubelles, with my cousin Natalie Gerlack. I also work as a freelance interior stylist. Jason and I have worked together on many houses over the years, including building six of our own personal homes we've designed together. We also love to travel throughout the South together, searching for that southern inspiration to bring back to our clients. With that experience comes lots of access to the latest and greatest in home design and building. So with our new blog series The Inspired Home we will be sharing with you design and building tips to help inspire you with your latest projects. 

Today's post is about brass. Yes, brass is back in a big way in home design. The finishes of brass have changed dramatically over the last several decades. I am finding that it's not that 80's brass, that appeared really yellow and shiny. In contrast it's a beautiful brass that has a brushed finished, and a really beautiful gold tone. The good news is, oil rubbed bronze, brushed nickel, and chrome are all still very much in style, it's just that brass has got a new look and an update. So don't feel like you have to go out and change all your fixtures and door knobs immediately, but I am going to give you some ideas on how to incorporate this beautiful finish into your home. 
Let's start where it may be easiest to incorporate brass, home accessories.  Here are a few items that I think you could easily add without spending a lot of time or money.
Did you know that the pineapple symbolizes "welcome" in the south? So this pineapple tray serves as double duty, you can use it to introduce brass into your home, and also make your guest feel welcome. We actually have these available at our Lulubelles boutique located in Norton Commons.
Do you love to go antiquing like I do? Or maybe you inherited an old set of brass candlesticks like these...
These would be great in a dining room, or fireplace mantel.
I recently picked up these pineapple candlesticks at Anthropologie, and I have them sitting in our kitchen. Clearly I have a love for pineapples. :)
 And I collected both of these brass pineapples while out antiquing. They are currently gracing our fireplace mantel, stacked on some vintage books. 
So maybe you are looking to update the handles in your kitchen. You have two options, you can either replace them with new hardware, note to self, make sure you measure your current hardware to be sure you get new hardware that matches the drilled holes exactly. Or you can use spray paint to recoat your existing hardware. There are some really great finishes in brass tones at your local craft stores. 
Here is the brass hardware we have in our kitchen, and I love that it's a classic style and shape, with the timeless brass feel. 

I have seen very similar looks and finishes to these in the special order section at Lowes and Home Depot, so check with your local hardware store if you are up for the investment of switching out your cabinet hardware.  
Another great way to introduce brass into your home is by installing new light fixtures, or repainting existing ones. Many times over the years I have ordered a light fixture and not loved the finish. So I grab my sponge brush and change the finish with some craft paint in a color that I feel suits the space better. Don't be afraid to give it a try. When all else fails, and the budget allows, you can update with new light fixtures. We have a selection of pretty brass fixtures, like this one at Lulubelles.
Bathrooms are an elegant way to bring brass into your home. Maybe start with updating a powder room? You can find this pretty toilet paper holder at Anthropologie.
 There are lots of great options for brass fixtures. Places that we use locally for homes that Jason and I are building/designing together are Winnelson and Willis Klein. Both places have a lot of beautiful options.
photo from VanDykes
One of my favorite features from a recent project are these beautiful brass egg knobs. I feel like I'm stepping back in time, yet they have a modern feel to them. They are available locally at Willis Klein.
I hope that you feel inspired to bring a little brass into your home. It really is a beautiful finish, all the while being timeless and elegant. And if you would like to see projects that Jason and I are working on you can follow along with our Instagram feeds. We are both really active with our accounts, and love posting projects we are working on. :) You can follow me here, and Jason here 


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Letters of LOVE

Hope you are settling in to this winter weather we have been having. Since it's cold and snowy outside, why not find yourself an easy craft project to tackle? I have the perfect one for you, and it's very versatile. These are super easy to make, decoupaged letters. 
Here are the supplies that you will need.
*Cardboard letters (I found mine at Hobby Lobby)
*Decoupage
*Scissors
*Pencil
*Paint brush
*Craft paper (I purchased mine at Lulubelles Boutique it's from Rifle Paper Company)
The first step, after you have gathered your supplies, is to trace your letters on the craft paper.
Once the letter is traced, simply cut the letter out of the paper.
Next you will apply a thick layer of the decoupage on the actual cardboard letter. Make sure that you apply liberally.
I work in sections, applying the decoupage and the paper on the top portion first. Then I work my way down. Next you will seal the craft paper with the decoupage.
Be sure to smooth out any bubbles before the decoupage starts to dry, and remember that when your craft paper is wet, it may tear easily, so be extra careful
Continue on with the next letters. You can even cut out extra shapes and flowers, then add them for some extra interest like I did with the & sign.

Here is the finished product, along with another set of letters that I made just in time for Valentines Day next month. 


We have these beautiful Rifle Paper Company papers available at our Lulubelles Boutique located in Norton Commons in Prospect, KY. You could certainly create lots of beautiful decoupage craft projects with them.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found some inspiration to create some lovely letters for yourself. :)
XO~Gretchen






Friday, January 1, 2016

One Little Word 2016

Goodness, I can't believe it is 2016! This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. Believe was my one little word for last year, and I needed a whole lot of believing to get me through at times. Funny how our one little word picks us, more than we chose it. 2015 came with a lot of changes. I spent most of the beginning in and out of the hospital with three different attempts to get rid of a pesky kidney stone, which ultimately ended in a long 4 1/2 day hospital visit. Kidney stones=no fun! The silver lining was that I did get to catch up on my favorite shows like Fixer Upper, and thank goodness for the Hallmark Channel and all their sappy movies. :) I also took a watercolor art class last winter which ended up being comical and therapeutic. I had visions of becoming an amazing watercolor artist and be able create pretty floral scenes like Anna Rifle Bond, or Katie Daisy, however, we learned how to paint some fruit, and a barn scene. We did touch on painting some red and purple tulips, I like tulips, but red and purple ones, not so much. I was really hoping for some hydrangeas or peonies. #fail I did learn some great tips, and most importantly had some great laughs with friends. Needless to say, none of my art from the class is hanging up in the house. 

Right before Easter I lost my aunt Bonnie. It was unexpected, and heartbreaking. She was one of the sweetest ladies, and a hilarious jokester. Every Easter she had an Easter egg hunt for all of us, including us adult "kids." We had the best time running around her back yard looking for the high dollar eggs.  Some eggs were worth $20!!! I can still hear her giggling, while we are all looking everywhere, leaving no stone, or blade of grass, unturned. Every year there was one missing egg, so someday the new home owners are going to find an awesome treat in their back yard. This is a tradition that I will be passing on to my boys, they were so lucky to have known her.

Soon after that, I lost my beloved Granny. What an amazing blessing it was to have her in my life as long as I did. She was one of the most beautiful souls I've ever known. She always made me feel so special even though she had nine children, 25 plus grandchildren, and 25 plus great-grandchildren. Every year on my birthday since I can remember she called and sang the Happy Birthday song to me. Now what makes her version so special is that she added another verse. She always sang, May God bless you, may God bless you, may God bless Gretchen, may God bless you. So that is how we have always sang the Happy Birthday song in our home. I know that her birthday tradition will continue on for many generations to come. I miss her every day, but find peace knowing that she is up in heaven with my Pa-pa.

Spring came, and after a lot of talking and praying, Jason and I decided we were going to put our house up for sale. Yep, our gorgeous dream home, that we had poured our hearts and souls into, going on the market. It was around that time, with everything that had gone on, good and bad, that we both felt the need to just simplify. And honestly, six months ago I felt quite sure that my one little word was going to be simplify, but it's not and I'll explain why later. Jason was also making big changes in his life. He had finally decided to lose weight, and I could tell he was serious this time. I am so proud of him. To date he has lost 100lbs. He also decided to start his own new construction company. He was willing to leave everything behind that he had worked so hard at for over 10 years, and start fresh. He is still building beautiful homes, just under a new name, Artisan Signature Homes. Needless to say, faith and belief got us through a lot of sleepless nights during this time.

So the house went on the market, and then Natalie and I broke ground on our new business venture. We finally took the leap of faith and decided to build our own boutique in Norton Commons. Both Jason and I were now starting new businesses. Yikes!! A little scary to say the least, but again I still had faith and believed it would all work out, and it eventually did! We got a contract in the summer on the house, and finally closed on it in the late fall! So this fall we packed the house up, with our family, and moved, yet again. It's our ninth move together. I LOVE building, the move, not so much. This Spring we will move again into the house in Norton Commons we are building. We got this! Oh and I turned the big 40 in July!! Now can you see why the word simplify almost seems ironic to use as my one little word for 2016? 

Which leads me to my new word for 2016, which is BALANCE!!!! To balance means that you equally distribute. This will be my challenge this year. I want to make sure my husband and my boys get enough of my time, while managing a new boutique, giving time to devote to prayer and my bible study, finding time for dear family and friends, keeping up with social media, trying to blog a little more, find a little "me" time, and continue my Nerium and design businesses, which I am designing my cousin Abby and her hubby's Homearama house, along with the house we are building. I can make it work, I just need to figure out how all the puzzle pieces fit together, and always keep what's most important in the forefront. Despite what this world throws at you, good or bad, I think it is so important for all of us to find that balance in our lives. "Balance comes in the moments when you stand up for the life you truly want for yourself, by making choices that truly align with that." I truly believe that Jason and I both are the on the right path for building the life with our boys that we truly want, and I feel at peace and blessed to be starting off 2016 feeling that way. 
XO~Gretchen



Monday, October 5, 2015

Our Home we built, the "Greystone Manor"

We've lived in our dream house for three years now. This house is a collaboration of design work between my husband and myself, down to every last detail. Building homes together is something we both love and enjoy. So today I am going to share some photos of our home that our friend, and professional photographer Tim Furlong took. Our home was built by my husband Jason Black, and you can find his new company website here.
A tour of our home....



Wall color is Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams


Wall color is Grant Beige by Benjamin Moore

Granite surround is Calcutta Gold Marble


Sea Salt on the walls again, it's a common color theme throughout our home.


Cabinet color was a custom color blend. We have quartzite on the island.






Bar stools are from Ballard Design








We custom designed our railing

Sea Salt is the wall color















Sleeping porch

Sleeping porch with hanging beds







If you would ever like to share or repost our photos in a blog post or other publication please email me. Information is in the contact me area on my home page. :) And stay tuned, because we are building a new home and can't wait to share photos with you. You can follow me on Instagram here, or my husband and his building company here.
XO~Gretchen