Kelly Christakos Stivers

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take me away: washington school house hotel

At first glance, you may think the Washington School House Hotel is located in some far away, chic European locale, but it's actually a fabulously restored 1889 limestone gem that started out as a school house in Park City, Utah!  Complete with reclaimed oak barnwood floors, locally quarried quartzite, a collection of antique furniture from all over Europe, amazing crystal chandeliers and beds piled high with crisp, white bedding, it's a wonder how guests get any skiing or shopping done in town!  Sophisticated elegance at its finest!

The building survived the Great Fire of 1898 and its amazing limestone exterior is amazing:

Soaring 16-foot coffered ceilings, a whitewashed brick fireplace and a gilt mirror make a dramatic first impression in the living area:

A reclaimed barnwood dining table and slipcovered chairs create a beautiful contrast against those STUNNING oak floors:

Tons of natural light and gorgeous white-painted millwork abound throughout:

Love the mix of iron headboards paired with the warm tones of an antique nightstand:

The whitewashed finish on the fireplace is such a striking detail:

Love those soft blue linen curtain panels and that antique brass side table:

I would be perfectly happy watching everyone skiing the slopes from this fabulous velvet built-in bed (and never leaving it!):

Happy Hump Day!


ashley putman's cozy country farmhouse 

One of my all-time favorite house tours EVER was of graphic designer Ashley Putman's Houston home in Lonny a few years ago - remember that gorgeous cobalt blue dining room?  The girl can accessorize a room like no one's business!  Lauren of Semi-Designed Life gave us another intimate peek (and a ton of amazing photos) when she blogged about a trip she took through Putman's house on a Christmas home tour.  It seems as though the ever-stylish Putman has done it again, revamping an early 1900's farmhouse in Round Top, Texas, into a cozy, country getaway for her family. Just like her Houston home, this country escape is the perfect mix of modern and traditional, with fabulously styled vignettes, gray-painted trim, white planked walls (the perfect backdrop to Putman's collection of funky art) and a gorgeous farmhouse kitchen.  The result is warm and welcoming - the perfect way to spend your weekends away from the city, don't you think?

Images 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 - Paper City

Images 2, 5, 7, 9, 10 - Hey Billie


diy: safe, nontoxic, eco friendly way to strip furniture

I get a lot of emails about refinishing furniture and pieces that I have worked on it the past and the best advice I can give anyone is to pay the most attention to the prep work!  Prepping a piece (aka stripping the finish, or sanding and scuffing it to make it paint-ready) is the most important step in the refinishing process.  When it comes to stripping furniture, I've always avoided chemical strippers, instead choosing elbow grease and lots and lots of sand paper.  I'm sure the chemical strippers are worth their weight in gold in terms of how quickly and efficiently they work, however, I never trusted myself with the mess it would make, not to mention the toxicity...I just don't need or want either. 

HOWEVER, after recently burning through what seemed like a million sheets of 80-grit sand paper with my orbital sander on a set of four dining chairs, I thought I'd give in and try Smart Strip, a biodegradable, non toxic stripper I found at Sherwin Williams:

 Everthing I needed, I already had on hand, including a cheap foam brush and a paint scraper:

Even though this stuff is biodegradable, I wore plastic gloves and laid a plastic tarp me, you will need both once you start scraping paint off!  To start, I put a heaping amount of the stripper on the brush:

Wipe the Smart Strip right onto your piece and don't be stingy with it!  The more you put on, the easier it will be to remove layers of paint and finish.  Once you've applied the stripper, just wait....the container says to wait anywhere from three to 24 hours, but, it started bubbling and cracking just 30 minutes after applying.  This is what it looked like:

After about an hour, I scraped away at the stripper and, believe it or not, it brought the paint and finish away with it pretty easily, right down to the original stain:

The stripper only removed down to the original stain of the wood, which was fine because I finished off the rest with my orbital sander to get down to bare wood:

Overall, I was very impressed with Smart was relatively fast and easy and cleanup was a breeze.  This stuff is great for pieces with flat surfaces - I wouldn't recommend this for pieces that have a lot of detailing.  This stuff is so gooey, that using a steel brush to get in to the grooves of a piece would be a mess. 

Stay tuned to see this set of four Queen Anne-style chairs' dramatic makeover!


inspired: bamboo blinds

Bamboo blinds are, hands down, my favorite type of window coverings BY FAR!  They are so versatile - they work in such a wide variety of rooms and decor styles, they add texture and warmth to any space and are relatively inexpensive, making them my go-to for most of my client projects. They look great on their own, but I especially love them paired with soft, linen curtains. It may have taken me almost six months after we moved in to put a nail in my walls, but I didn't waste any time getting bamboo blinds up in every window!  I hung these from Home Depot and love them because, even without a blackout liner, they do a fabulous job of keeping the rooms pretty dark and no one can see anything going on from the outside when they are closed.  Here are a few other rooms that wouldn't be half as cozy without the addition of fabulous woven blinds!

Steven Gambrel

Markham Roberts in Domino

Ashley Putman via Lonny

Cote de Texas

Jennifer Dyer

Ashley Putman via Lonny

Coastal Living

Phoebe Howard

Giannetti Home

Seleta Hayes Howard

House and Home


loving lately...

I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off lately, so last night it was nice to sit and catch up on some of my favorite blogs and flip through a stack of magazines that have been gathering dust in my living room.  In the spirit of the warmer weather we've been having lately, I thought I'd post a few lovelies that are currently on my radar.

Affordable art has never been so accessible, thanks to Etsy, and I'm loving artist Lisa Golightly's acrylic paintings!  I love the colors and calm, almost haunting, feel to all of her paintings and most are less than $50.  Here are a couple of my favorites:



I can't get enough of this rug - even though it's wool, that blue and cream cross pattern would make a beautiful statement for summer:

Look how fun and fresh it looks when paired with red and gold accents:

And speaking of gold accents, how about these amazing bamboo pulls?  I'm refinishing an end table for a client in a crisp, glossy white and these pulls would be a fabulous touch!

This round gilt mirror is so stunning in its simplicity and size.  It's not easy finding oversize round mirrors that won't break the bank and not only is this one a whopping 38 inches, but it's also on sale! 

Navy and camel are such a classic color combination and this Clare Vivier striped clutch is killing it for me!

Changing up your throw pillows is a quick and inexpensive way to shake up your decor for Spring and etsy seller Elegant Touch has some gorgeous designer fabric pillows for unbeatable prices!  Here are a few of my faves:



I need another watch like I need a hole in the head, but I'm thinking this watch just might be the perfect accessory for summer, don't you agree? 

What are you loving this Spring?