Hell’s Kitchen Design Heaven

Have you lost your mind, Laurel? What’s with the wacky title? Trying to be cute or something?

I truly wish I was. First of all… the kitchen I’ve been working on for the last several months IS heaven. Seeing the kitchen design come to life is one of the best things that’s happened to me in a while and for that, I am most grateful. But before we delve more into the good news, here’s the fresh hell that faced me two days ago.

Remember our beautiful French Armoire?


After much ado (and exorbitant expense) getting it here from France and the ensuing debacle at Newark Airport, this is how it arrived at my client’s home on Monday. (and yes, that is the reflection of my very nice, albeit justifiably horrified client in the shattered 160 year old glass.)

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THAT, my friends is WHY I only work with nice people; people who understand that we humans are largely idiots and if something can go wrong, it will, despite all of our great intentions. This, disaster, however, is inexcusable. This is an exceedingly fragile antique, circa 1850 and that WAS the original mirror. And folks, they put it on a JUMBO jet (ostensibly in a crate… hmmm… maybe) that undoubtedly got caught up in the Jet Stream for seven+ hours as it bounced around, all the way from France. Basically, they wrapped it in tissue paper. Why, I wouldn’t wrap a croissant in such flimsy wrapping.

Don’t worry. It’s going to get fixed. It is insured. The lovely woman in France did return my email and was gracious. And most importantly, my wonderful clients are being incredibly nice. I am on the task, however, to get it fixed as quickly (and perfectly) as possible.

I arrived at the house and said hi to the guys working on the kitchen and waiting for Stuart our amazing contractor who was so kind to give me a hand— literally. (please see above) As I was standing in the middle of the kitchen… all of a sudden, I OPENED MY EYES… and my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! The mouldings are all in now and we are in the home stretch!  Although, there are still many details to be tended to— like the painting of these glorious cabinets, which will take about 10 days. Yesterday, we selected the section of the Calacatta Gold marble slab for the island that we want to use and we finalized the bathroom floor.

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The view looking towards the dining room!

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Nickel fridge handle.

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Le hood (better wrapped, here, than that armoire) and now encased in its glorious cabinet. As an aside. I know that I drove JEM’s kitchen designer bonkers with the detail of the mouldings over the hood. But, it was worth it. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

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This photo looks the same as it did here. Right? 30 Bonus points if you can see what’s changed. :]

Oh, one last bit of news. My clients’ windows do not afford much privacy. The designer in me, says… sooooooo??? How can we ever justify covering up any part of those glorious windows; however, you really can see in even though the house is set back quite far from the road. Sooo… here’s what we are going to do. We are going to do the most elegant cafe curtains that God ever created.

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Kitchen by Phoebe Howard and if Phoebe can do cafe curtains, so can we!

After searching high and low for just the right fabric,

to go with our Cole and Son wallpaper.


I found it in this Barbara Barry for Kravet glorious linen toile in silhouette called Indo Day in green tea, of course.



This afternoon, I spoke to a lovely woman out in Denver who does business coaching for interior designers. Her fee should I decide to go for it and fly out to Denver? $7,500. (it does include dinner and lunch out in Denver, however.) :] I’m sure that she’s worth it, but one thing she said. “Laurel, you’re writing your own blog???????”

I said, “yeah, and I really enjoy it.” (I tried to say confidently)

“Well, it’s not a very good use of your time… All the big hitters have ghost bloggers that can write in YOUR own voice.” hmmm… Obviously, she’s never heard my “own voice” before. haha! However, if y’all ever hear of a Jewish, Hungarian girl from Indiana, now living in Westchester, NY floating around, who also knows a lot about interior design and is OCD about her photographs and is a tad on the sweet but saucy side, please let me know.

I certainly could use the help, however, but for now… I know that my fave bloggers DO write their own blogs. You can tell. Don’t you think? And besides, I look at it as an enjoyable hobby as I also love to write.

(we would never have guessed that, Laurel)

Warmer days on the horizon!



6 Responses

  1. I have to agree with Dolores, I stumbled upon your blog on easiest one of the most difficult days in a long time (teenage daughter, dad working out of town, I am the WORST mom in history).

    I decided to paint her room *pink and hideous green from former owners) to a sophisticated (I HOPE) gray with warm white ceiling. I found you because I googled gray paint, but I stayed until my breathing returned to normal and my heart rate settled.

    Thank you for your warm and funny blog. I LOVE your photos of paintings (Sargent!), I even found a modern painting that I am going to copy in watercolor to improve my own technique. It is easily one of the best ways to improve your own technique and frankly, my brain is too fried to do much of anything lately. NO I am not a forger (I am so tired that I just spelled it phorger!)

    It is 3:45am and a strange noise outside just woke me up, another joy of single parenting. I thought it was this computer that magically wakes up in the middle of the night! it wasn’t, so out to the toads and other scary things on the patio.

    Thanks for sharing your creativity and your spunk. it is nice to remember that there is a life outside of the boondocks of PA! 🙂

    1. Hi Lee! Take it from me, there IS light at the end of the tunnel, I promise!It is a hard life, but soon enough your children will grow up and acknowledge that you were a good( wonderful!) mom and eventually, your husband will trade airport lounges for his comfy living room chair, and when the grandchildren arrive, he’ll marvel, seeing how much work they are- how you could have managed it all on your own.
      The good news about living now, as opposed to when I was in your shoes, is that when the kids go to bed, you can enjoy adult company and escape via wonderful blogs like Laurel’s. Aren’t we lucky :-)All the best to you!

    2. oh Lee… I raised two boys into young adulthood and we only lost 3 or 4 pints of blood in the process. lol
      One of my sons has special needs too. Not the kind of special needs where people feel sorry for him. The kind of special needs where everyone stares and scowls at the parents! The other one however, is now a doll (helped by the fact that he lives 200 miles away and has an adorable GF!) Depsite all the tears of years past, he has thanked me many times in the last few years. He’s 25 now.

      Please come back any time!

  2. Laurel:-) I would read your wonderful blog even if it wasn’t about design secrets.Your blog is all that, and soo much more; love it. I am still catching up on all the blog entries that you posted before I found you.There’s never enough time- but I consider it time well spent.
    Of course, that joie de vivre must be acquired through your Hungarian ancestry.I recognize it because I married into a Hungarian family many years ago- never a dull moment since.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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