Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Casanova Style...A Little Slice of European Heaven

I was introduced to the "Casanova Style" 25 years ago when a friend of mine suggested we get together and meet for lunch.  It left a lasting impression.  Casanova simply encompasses all the things I find beautiful and charming and it's European ambiance has been a constant source of inspiration.

Casanova is a restaurant and local landmark in Carmel by The Sea and I'm delighted to show you around one of my favorite places on the Monterey peninsula.

The design is a blend of the founders family farm house in Belgium and the original character of the old residence that it once was.

Its European charm beckons anyone strolling by to go inside for a closer look

The intoxicating scent of locally grown lavender on the path to the front door. It smells as beautiful as it looks.

And whether you dine on the porch

the outside garden

the fountain courtyard

or one of their charming dining rooms, its sure to make a lasting impression.

Great attention was given to every detail.   Even their serving stations are beautiful!

The garden elements add to the overall ambiance

This wrought iron gate sent me searching for something similar for our guest studio's private patio. I found an iron screen from France that will add the perfect European touch.

Two of my favorite things to order....

a latte.... I love that they serve it in a latte bowl.  So European isn't it?

and a dessert called "Chocolate Nougatine".  Chocolate lovers.... this is divine!!

They even have "Van Gogh's Table",  the table at which Vincent Van Gogh ate his daily meals while boarding at the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers Sur-Oise, France on display in it's own little nook. 

Casanova is the perfect place for lunching with girlfriends or a romantic dinner.  If you are ever visiting our beautiful area, you simply must go and experience it's charm.

More restaurant information here

 I hope you enjoyed my introduction to Casanova, our little slice of European heaven here on the Monterey peninsula.

Take care,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tom's Rustic Fireplace Surround

I love beautiful fireplace surrounds and am particularly fond of antique limestone.  While seeking inspiration for our living room fireplace, I found many reproduction limestone surrounds that I would have been happy with.....unfortunately most were not within the budget.

So I gathered photos of the ones I liked and reviewed it with Tom to see if we could create or substitute something with a similar look but stay within budget.  I love a good challenge but I really had to convince beg Tom to give this one a try.

This is what I really wanted!!

 From the book The French Touch by Jan de Luz, Photography by Tom O'Neal
 Jan de Luz has a wonderful store in Carmel Valley, CA and a linen shop in Carmel by the Sea

 And this is what I was working with!

This is a photo of our original living room wall with existing fireplace.  It doesn't require much creativity to get beyond this!   We first built the surround, then  framed in a new wall to cover the existing white brick. And when I say "we", I really mean Tom!

In a previous home renovation, we had fireplace surrounds made from a cement based product so I asked Tom to try and make a mold similar to the style I liked and distress the finish to make it look a bit ruddy.....like old stone. 

It took some convincing but he was willing to give it a try.
He first measured and built a wood mold for each piece of the surround. After cement was poured and had cured, he would assemble the pieces, attach and grout in place. All the cement pieces were also reinforced with rebar to maintain strength and prevent cracking.

This photo is of the mold for the very top piece of the fireplace. Cement is smoothed into place in the mold and after a few days when cured,  the mold is removed around the piece.

He made a few practice pours to get the texture right.   Rock salt mixed with a little sand was sprinkled into the molds first (this created the ruddy texture on the face of the pieces), then cement was poured over it.  Once cement cured, he released from mold.  All the individual pieces were then ready to assemble and build the surround.


Assembling and attaching pieces to existing wall....

and grouting....

A close up of the texture the rock salt and sand left in the cement.  The cement also has varied colors throughout.  I think that gives it more of an aged look don't you think?

We originally thought we might use some of the limestone plaster we were using on the wall to do a light finish over the cement as in the Jan de Luz photo, but the more we looked at it, the more we liked the the original gray.

Here's an after shot

and another....

By the way, this was very inexpensive to make.  All supplies plus cement cost around $300.00 (yes that's three hundred)  vs. the least expensive reproduction limestone I found at $4500.00.

But the fact that he made it because I really really wanted it........Priceless!!

Take care,

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Story Of Our House

In 2009 Tom and I sold our family home that we had previously renovated and downsized to a smaller home.  We were suddenly empty-nesters and were excited about starting a new project.  We scoured several areas looking for the right project and found it less than a mile from our previous home here in Pebble Beach.

To say this little house lacked curb appeal was an absolute understatement. The exterior was hidden under a coat of dark brown paint and the old iron windows were painted with bright turquoise trim. Yikes!!

But with years of home remodeling under our belt, we learned long ago to look past the cosmetic things we knew we could change.  Once inside, it was love at first sight!  This house had a soul and character, and as we would later learn, a charming story.  All of that and a short walk to the beach....perfect!!

We purchased from the original owners who designed and built it as their retirement home back in 1968.  They were now both deceased and the family was selling the home.  They even gave us all the original house plans.  I display a few in our dining area inside a turquoise pot left behind in the backyard.  I love the whole connection to this home's past!

The design was very unique, it looked much older and resembled a small cottage or farmhouse complete with steep roof and tall iron windows.  We loved meeting some of the family and learning more about the prior owners (Mr. and Mrs. G).  We believe Mr. G's French Canadian heritage might explain some of the unique features in the architecture, but many of the decorative elements were all Mrs. G.  Together they created the soul and the story of this little house and provided the inspiration for our design, European Farmhouse.  And now.....we continue the story.  You can see more before and after photos here

We are remodeling every inch of this house inside and out, and are about halfway done. We do the work ourselves so while it can take a bit more time to complete these projects, it's definitely a labor of love.  While searching for design inspiration online, I got hooked on design and home decor blogs.  We have been remodeling homes for over 30 years and unless you were a family member, friends or our local Realtor, you wouldn't necessarily know of all our creative pursuits.  Well not anymore!  This blog was created to share our projects and adventures while renovating and highlight the beautiful Monterey peninsula communities we call home.   We hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading!

Take care,

My Recycled Front Door Makeover

I liken a front door on a home to a great piece of jewelry and an outfit...it can add the perfect finishing touch.  The original front door to our home was quite dated and had a stained glass insert.  While I love old doors, this one didn't have any interesting lines that would give me the european look I wanted.  So I saved the stained glass insert for possible use in a garden shed and went shopping for a recycled door.

Here's a photo of our original door.  This was taken right before we moved in

I found a recycled door at a contractors supply store.  I thought it looked a bit french with it's large arched shape window.  The only problem was the outside glass was a textured plexiglass...think 1970's, Ugh!

We had the plexiglass replaced with clear glass and I got out my Annie Sloan paint!!

 With the door hung, I went about mixing a few colors to try out on the door pediment.  The pediment is actually original to the home and was one of the few things I liked about the entrance area.  I planned to paint the door and the pediment the same color for a nice unified look

I used a two-colored distressed method I learned at an Annie Sloan paint workshop and was pleased with the color.  I used Paris Grey and Duck Egg Blue and it turned into a beautiful distressed shade of turquoise

The exterior of our home is a color coat stucco, called "Pebblestone", and this turquoise color complemented it beautifully.

Here is the finished product!

I plan to have a curtain made to hang on the inside window to complete the look.

Now that I'm happy with the front door......my focus is on that ugly door just to the right.  It happens to be a closet for the furnace and why it's there is beyond me.... but I am already planning to make it over with some of the beautiful gray board we used to reface our garage door.  You can see the post on my garage makeover here.

Another project down.....many more still to go :) Thanks for reading!

Take care,

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A few Before & After photos of our house

Our House Before
Tom loves to remind me that this photo almost prevented me from scheduling an appointment to see the house.  Zero curb appeal!

But this is what we envisioned when we saw the house in person :)

Our House After

Our detached guest studio and garage Before

Our detached guest studio and garage After

  A few of our kitchen and dining area Before
Our kitchen and dining area After

Our Living Room Before
Our Living Room After

We're renovating the inside of our guest studio now and will post more before and after shots when it's done:).

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