Weekend Reading

It’s been quiet around here for the last two weeks, I know. That trip to France distracted me but I decided to soak it all in instead of worrying about blogging. Thanks for your patience with me. I’ve spent the last few days getting caught up, and recovering from a little jet lag.

While I was away, my home underwent a big change. The entire downstairs floor is oak wood and they’ve needed to be refinished for years. The polyurethane had yellowed and there was damage in several places. Before I left for France, we moved all the furniture to the garage, then Matt and the kids moved up to the studio for a week so an entire crew could come in and refinish the floors. It was a major headache but props to Matt for handling it in my absence. I’ll share the story next week!

Favorite links from the week below:

 

Don’t miss this farmhouse cottage makeover.

This beach house kitchen has a gorgeous backsplash.

I’m also crushing on this textured brick pattern tile.

Shiplap in a shower? Why yes it can be done.

Celebrity homes are usually quite posh, but this one is warm and welcoming.

You heard Trading Spaces is returning, right?

Weekend getaway idea: 10 fall hiking trails in the US.

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Three Days in Bordeaux

I arrived home last night from an amazing trip to the south of France and it was a whirlwind nine days. Once I landed in France I hit the ground running since there was a lot I wanted to see.

I toured Bordeaux and the surrounding wine regions of Medoc and St. Émilion for three days. I then took the train to Aix-en-Provence where I spent three days taking small trips to Cassis, Avignon, and the Pont du Gard. My last stop was Nice, with a few more day trips to Eze, Monaco, and St. Paul du Vence. Words cannot describe how amazing this trip was!

I wont bombard you with vacation photos all at once, but I did want to share just a glimpse of what I experienced in Bordeaux, France. As you know I live in the California wine country where we grow and bottle our own wine. I’ve grown up around it but I wanted to experience something different and it was one of the reasons I chose Bordeaux as my first stop.

I learned so very much about how they make wine in this region of France, and they’ve been doing it centuries longer than we have. They label their wines by appellation, not by grape like we do. The growth, blending, and marketing is all very controlled. A very small percentage of their wineries (they call them chateaus) are open to the public for tastings, but since I was part of small tours, I was able to visit a few.

There are several companies that offer small 6-8 person wine country tour groups, I signed up for one on my first day. You hop in a small air conditioned van with other English speaking people from all around the world, it’s great fun. I met the nicest people from Australia, South Africa, England, Ireland, etc. I did this on several days throughout my trip and as a result made many new friends, it greatly enhanced my travel experience! I also did a few DIY excursions while in France where I just hopped on busses and trains on my own.

In Bordeaux in September, the weather was hit and miss during my stay, sometimes cloudy, sometimes sunny, it’s unpredictable! Taking small wine tours allowed me to get out into the countryside and see the flatter Medoc wine region known for their cabernet blends. I went on a day trip with Bordovino, they are located in a central spot in town and have friendly and informative guides.

 

On another day, I took a train to visit hilltop St. Émilion, known for their merlot and cabernet blends. It drizzled this day but I loved strolling the cobblestone streets, admiring all the architecture and charming shops.

 

One must indulge in cheese and wine and bread while touring in France, especially after a hike around the town.

 

There is a beautiful church in St. Émilion that is also worth a tour. It was difficult to photograph on a cloudy day but I loved this courtyard with all its arches.

In St. Emilion, there are a lot of wine shops in a condensed area which do offer tastings, so if you only have one day to explore a wine region outside Bordeaux, I’d highly recommend this hilltop town. It’s so easy to get to by train, simply take the tram in town to the Gare St. Jean and buy a ticket to St. Émilion. Plan on a 45 minute train ride, walk to the town (about half a mile) and spending a few hours walking around, then the train ride back, it’s a charming little day trip!

 

Bordeaux is famous for little cakes called cannales, they have a caramelized exterior with a custardy center, don’t miss a taste of this regional specialty!

I stayed in a small hotel in the heart of town which made it easy to get around and see everything I wanted to see on foot. Another great way to see the city of Bordeaux is on a bicycle tour, I used Bordeaux Bike Tour and Jean-Christophe was an excellent guide. It was a leisurely ride around town, with our guide pointing out all the landmarks and sharing the history of the city. I recommend a bike tour as a great way to get acclimated and capture a feel for the city so you can explore it on foot later.

After my bike tour I spent the afternoon and evening walking all around town and had dinner at the most charming café surrounded by a mix of locals and tourists. You’ll notice again the weather is unpredictable, rain showers one hour, sunny the next. Bordeaux is a beautiful city, filled with meandering streets and cafes, lovely shops, and a great evening scene with people walking all around, sharing beer or wine and dinner at all the little cafes. I loved my three days here!

 

 

 

In the cities of France, you know many people ride scooters and motorcycles to get around. I ride a white Vespa around my hometown so I was always on the lookout for them while in France. This one parked on the sidewalk caught my eye, such a great color!

 

I put together a 2 minute video to give you a flavor for the region of Bordeaux on my new YouTube channel. Watch it below!

If you’re a wine lover (or just want to tour a really cool French city) put Bordeaux on your list of places to visit!

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Vacation Homes in France

Greetings friends! I want to thank you all for your travel tip suggestions for my journey through the south of France. I departed yesterday evening and I arrive in Bordeaux today. Follow along on Instagram, I’ll be sharing a lot of my experience in my stories there. 🙂 Also thank you for the kind comments on the powder room makeover, I love that new refreshed space.

There won’t be much time for blogging this week since I have planned excursions every day and don’t want to waste a minute! I booked a few small group tours (GetYourGuide is a great site for this) but I also am exploring on my own via public transportation, it will be an adventure!

I’m traveling on the cheap by staying at small B&Bs throughout, but I thought I’d leave you with a dozen dreamy vacation homes you can stay in if you ever make a trip to France yourself! Can you imagine renting any of these? Bliss!

Live the dream life in glamorous Parisian apartment filled with natural light.

 

 

This sophisticated apartment in Paris is beautifully decorated but also family friendly.

 

 

Enjoy sea views from this chic apartment in Biarritz.

 

 

Transport through time with a stay in this rustic farmhouse in Burgundy.

 

 

Rent this historic villa near Bordeaux with its own pool and adjacent vineyard.

 

 

Live like a celebrity in this villa with a sea view in Cannes.

 

 

Float away to paradise in this home with a private beach in St. Tropez.

 

 

Enjoy a retreat on the cote d’azur with a stay at this villa in Nice.

 

 

Explore the Loire Valley while you’re living in this charming chateau.

 

 

Stay awhile in this modern townhouse in the heart of Aix-en-Provence.

 

 

Or perhaps you prefer a private villa with vineyard and pool in Provence countryside?

 

 

How fun to gather up a large group for an event in this historic chateau.

 

 

Enjoy the tours! I’ll be back to blogging next week, au revoir mes amis!

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Powder Room Refresh

I’m so very happy to be sharing this powder room makeover with you today! I had a vision of a fresh blue and white coastal inspired space from the beginning and I’m so delighted with the final result!

 

I had a lovely powder room for five years, some might argue it wasn’t in need of a makeover at all, and I wouldn’t disagree, except when you live in a space and see it for so many years as the same old thing, it’s instinctual for those of us who do this for a living to want to refresh with a new look.

Sometimes I start from scratch, and sometimes I look at the pieces that exist and work with them. This makeover was a little of both. I loved the mirror so much since it fit the wall so well, also the light fixture and bamboo window treatment. No need to change them! What I was tired of was the pedestal sink simply because it offered no storage for toilet paper, soap, etc. I got by for years storing it in a cabinet outside of the bathroom but then decided I wanted a small cabinet in here, one with storage and one that had more surface space as well.

This is the image of my bathroom from a few years ago when it was photographed for Refresh Magazine, a special interest publication of Better Homes & Gardens. I always loved the dark paint above in contrast with the white beadboard wallpaper below. For this makeover, I kept the same mirror, glass wall shelf, light fixture, and window shade. To give the space a new look, I replaced the pedestal with a cabinet vanity with a marble top, and swapped the chrome fixtures for a matte brass finish. I also changed the beadboard wallpaper to a DIY shiplap wall treatment, and replaced the dark paint with a beautiful blue waves wallpaper.

Old:

 

 

New:

 

The blue waves wallpaper is from DesignYourWall, it inspired the makeover and I partnered with them on this project to give this small powder room its refreshed look.

 

 

 

 

 

On the toilet side, you can see the continuation of the DIY shiplap and the wallpaper as it wraps around the space. Above I hung two coastal prints that used to hang in my guest room years ago.

 

 

Installing prepasted wallpaper like this is not as difficult as you might think! It really comes down to preparation and following instructions. From the start consider two things.

1.) Circumference. When you wrap an entire room with wallpaper, in one of the corners the patterns will meet at a seam and not match up simply because the circumference of the room isn’t the exact same in inches as the width of multiple strips of wallpaper. You have to decide where you want that to happen. In this tiny powder room, I decided I wanted it to happen in the little strip of wall above the door where no one would really look. I did a little patch job there instead of choosing a corner where the patterns wouldn’t meet. If you’re covering a niche or less than three walls then you don’t have to worry, but if you’re wrapping four walls, it’s a decision you have to make.

2.) Wall Condition. The walls in this powder room (original to the home before the remodel of 2008) have an orange peel texture. Not my favorite, but at least in this space it’s not too bad, and the texture is very light. If you have heavy orange peel or knock down texture, before you wallpaper you’ll have to either retexture the walls or use a wall liner like this for the paper to lie flat. You decide.

Like I said, this project is all about preparation of the walls, gathering the proper tools, and following the instructions. These are the ones that come with the prepasted paper I installed. Easy to put up and if you read the note at the bottom you’ll see, so easy to remove if and when you ever want or need to.

 

 

First, measure and cut:

 

 

Turn paper pattern side down on a towel and activate the paste with a spray bottle. Follow instructions for “booking” the paper.

 

 

Matching the seams up is the most challenging part, it just takes patience. Flatten and smooth each strip as you go along. One little tip regarding the edges, I noticed sometimes they peel up a little bit in corners so I used a tiny dab of Elmer’s craft glue to hold them down, it worked perfectly.

 

 

The DIY installation took a few hours but it wasn’t too difficult! The result was this beautiful space!

 

I still love the ceiling fixture, so it stayed. The new faucet and towel hook are by Delta, it’s their champagne bronze finish which looks more like matte brass to me.

 

 

 

I was lucky to find the bathroom vanity on sale at Lowes. I purchased it for $399 at a bathroom sales event a few weeks ago, it was half of its usual price. The cabinet gives me the storage I wanted and a beautiful marble surface. I didn’t install the marble backsplash, I like it better without but if I notice too much water splashing over time, I can add it later.

I repurposed the glass shelf and toilet paper holder, I simply spray painted them with my favorite faux brass spray paint.

 

 

 

 

So much style packed into only 21 square feet, I love it!

Sources: blue waves wallpaper / vanity / faucet / towel hook / mirror / ceiling light

*This project brought to you in partnership with DesignYourWall. Visit their online store for hundreds of selections to start your own wall makeovers! All opinions are my own.

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