Highlight Travel Guide: Seattle, Washington

19 May

Seattle surprised me. For a city so full of culture, delicious food, fantastic museums, interesting architecture, and rich history, it was easily explored over a long weekend that felt laid-back and entirely unpretentious.

Seattle also shocked me. It was not all pretty pictures. Even coming from Austin, I was taken aback by the extent of their very apparent housing issues.

Travel has a wonderful way of opening our eyes a little bit wider.

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Pike Place Market Seattle Washington

No exaggeration, I have had some of the best, most memorable food in all my travels at Pike Place Market. We sampled many places, but if you’re looking for the short list of unmissables, I would send you to Ellenno’s Greek YogurtPike Place Chowder, and Piroshky, Piroshky. I cannot stress how good Ellenno’s yogurt and Pike Place Chowder are. I swear I would choose that yogurt above ice cream any given day. We ordered a sampler of chowder, and were not disappointed with a single variety. At Piroshky, Piroshky, go for a beef and cheese, the perfect, warm breakfast (or snack) on a drizzly day.

Piroshky Piroshky Pike Place Market Seattle Washington

While you’re at the market, take a moment to watch them throw fish at Pike Place Fish Market…

Fresh Fish Pike Place Market Seattle WA

…and pick up a flower (or a bouquet of flowers) at one of the stalls.

Pike Place Market Flowers Seattle

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Highlights of Savannah, Georgia

12 Apr

You can say Savannah had me at hello. I feel like every experience I had during my day trip from Charleston last summer was a touch of magic. Savannah filled me with wonder.

Our first stop was SCAD Museum of Art and I was sold. The words that come to mind are multisensory. Rashaad Newsome’s exhibit was auditory while visual while Ling Hongbo’s was visual and tactile. SCAD Museum of Art Colorful Rainbow Paper Guns and Bullets Exhibit

Looking to support some SCAD students? Shop SCAD is a cute boutique with student-filled works.

I am not exaggerating when I say that Chocolate by Adam Turoni is one of my favorite shops in the world.  Each shop is like a room in a fantastical house, the first I visited was a library, a chocolate library. Imagine: glass enclosed bookcases full of chocolate. The staff hands you trays reminiscent of old card catalog drawers. Each truffle or bar variety is labeled, in typewritten font, on library cards.  After visiting the first shop, I knew I had to also visit their second location.The second shop I visited was a dining room, that made you feel as if you had been personally invited to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The chocolates themselves are no less whimsical. From a George Milies Trip To The Moon chocolate to a made to order creme brulee truffle, each piece is a handmade delight.

Adam Turoni Dining Room

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Gray, Navy, and Copper Bathroom

30 Mar

It went from bad to worse before it got good, and I take full responsibility. I was so desperate to rid my master bathroom of its beige walls, that I hastily painted them a way-too-dark gray. It completely clashed with the orange-y wood cabinets and the fact that I lacked a big-picture vision when I dove in left me with an unattractive, mood-bending room.

Exhibit A (a.k.a. before):

After deciding on a bedroom color scheme and finding a little inspiration, I settled on reparation plans for the bathroom. It never ceases to amaze me what a little paint and hardware can do.

Behold! (a.k.a. after):

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When I painted the kitchen cabinets, I trusted the guy at the hardware store and went for latex paint and bonding primer. I opted to test out oil based primer and paint this time to see if it would reduce visible brush strokes and hold up better over time. I will report back.

The hardest part was undoubtedly going from knobs to pulls. I have a new found appreciation for cabinet makers. Getting two holes level, centered, and the right distance apart is more challenging than it should be. There may or may not be a broken drill bit still in one of the drawer fronts…

Truth be told, I replaced the standard builder-issued mirror with these wanna-be Venetian beauties some time ago, but they didn’t come alive until the walls were lightened.

Inexpensive Cheap Venetian Style Mirror

While the work is never done, the room just feels good now.

Have questions? Comment below.

Source list- Wall paint: Valspar’s Urban Sunrise from Lowes | Cabinet Paint: Behr Oil Paint color matched to Valspar’s Indigo Streamer from Home Depot | Copper Hardware: Amazon  | Mirrors: Wisteria

Highlight Travel Guide: Charleston, South Carolina

21 Jan

Charleston didn’t take hold of me quite the way I expected. Maybe it was the pouring rain and the late bus from the airport to the city, or dragging my suitcase down narrow, crowded, cobblestone sidewalks. Maybe it was the miserable humidity. Maybe it was because I had heard so many tales of people swooning over the city and my expectations were high. Maybe it had something to do with its ties to ugly parts of American history.

Row Houses Charleston.jpg

Or maybe, possibly, it was because I had to submit to the (s)Low Country pace of the city before I could really enjoy it. Sure, I live in Texas, but Charleston was my first visit to the deep South. It has a flavor all its own, and I had to get to know it, before I could love it.

Charleston City Market

Our time in Charleston consisted of lots of long strolls, a fair amount of history, and more than enough food.

Starting with food recommendations, I’ll spare you my criticisms of our first several meals, and instead reaffirm the idea that Charleston is a city full of great food. I think we were eating breakfast at Hominy Grill when Anthony and I had the realization that we had much better luck with Low Country cuisine in Charleston than when we tried to be fancy. You can’t get too much better than the Charleston Nasty Biscuit.

 

Husk started off with a bang. I fell in love with pimento cheese in Charleston, and Husk served simply the best. The rest of our lunch there kind of fizzled out, but I would go again and again for that wonderful cheddar pimento slathered on grilled bread.

I seized another opportunity to eat pimento at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit and again at Artisan Meat Share. Both places served wonderful, casual meals

wp-1453393028479.jpgOn the advice of a friend (who’s recommendations never fail us), Anthony and I went to Edmond’s Oast for happy hour. We ordered lamb sliders, and I fully expected to be served a ground lamb patty on a bun. To my sheer delight, they brought out house-cured lamb. They continued to impress with Japanese style street corn. I also had a cocktail called, “What time does Sean Connery show up to Wimbledon?” Though we only snacked, dining there was a true experience.

Edmond's Oast Charleston

We only ate lightly at Edmond’s Oast due to our late-night dinner reservations at FIGWe probably should have booked a table prior to arriving in South Carolina, but when we called, they squeezed us into a late night spot the next evening.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream graces Austin with its truck for SXSW, so I could not pass up my first opportunity to visit a scoop shop and have a sundae with a conversation cookie and sprinkles. The ice cream is top notch and their caramel sauce makes a wonderful souvenir. The stunning copper store front isn’t so bad either.

 

I stand firmly in the camp of room service is a (usually overpriced and tasteless) treat and breakfast in bed is the best. Charleston is exactly the type of city you can order in in without feeling like you’re missing out. You could even one-up room service by ordering  Caviar & Bananas for delivery. If you do head out, Caviar & Bananas was the perfect stop for an iced coffee, a welcome reprieve from the hellish humidity. It is a darling delicatessen stocked with locally sourced artisianal groceries.

I donut eat many doughnuts at home, but rarely pass up an opportunity to try a fancy local doughnut shop while travelling. Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts was not exempt. I preferred their savory pastries to their sweet ones, regardless, it was a tasty, inexpensive morning meal.

 

Anthony and I do not usually splurge on hotel, but opt to spend our money on other experiences. Had we splurged, I would have opted to stay at the newly opened Spectator Hotel. I still wanted to eye the stunning design in person, so we swung by for drinks one evening. A kind Texan on staff there recommended we go to Poogan’s Porch for brunch. We never made it, so go for me if you’re there!

Spectator Hotel Charleston Lobby

We stayed at the charming and art-filled hotel, The Vendue. I tend to refuse room service on vacation, but how could I when nightly turn down service included chocolate on my pillow? Free coffee in the morning, appetizers and wine in the evening, and cookies at night did not hurt either.

The Vendue Charleston Boutique Art HotelThe Vendue Charleston Hotel Art ViewMaster LOOK

The Vendue is less than a block from Waterfront Park. Somehow we woke up early enough one morning to swing on the dock during the last few minutes of sunrise.

Waterfront Park Charleston

Waterfront Park Dock CharlestonWhile it’d be nearly impossible to miss, you can’t go to Charleston without a stroll down King Street. When we didn’t feel like long walks in the hot hot heat, the free, air-conditioned Trolley saved our feet.

I felt like it was really important to see Fort Sumpter while we were in Charleston, where the first shots of the American Civil War rang out. If you’re looking for more American history, you’ll find plenty in Charleston. I would recommend a visit to the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

I also felt compelled to visit one of the many plantation houses while we were there. We opted to visit Magnolia, though if I had a do-over, I may have chosen Middleton Place. After our tour, we took a lengthy stroll through the gardens and I learned I prefer tailored French gardens over their  English counterparts.

Magnolia Plantation House Charleston copy.jpg

On the way back from our day trip to Savannah (post in progress), we stopped to see the Angel Oak Tree, estimated to be over 400 years old with a circumference greater than twenty-five feet!

Angel Oak Tree Charleston Oldest Tree.jpg

As a traveller I am a go-go-goer. I love to see the world! Charleston taught me, that sometimes seeing the world and experiencing a city, means just sitting still in it for a moment.

See more places we went or wanted to go on my Charleston map! Have you been to Charleston? Share your memories in the comments below!

 

The Comforts of Home and Sneak Peeks of Bedroom Updates

11 Jan

I know I am not alone when saying that, as much as I love travel, there is nothing quite like coming home. Anthony and I recently returned from a phenomenal trip to Europe (posts coming soon) followed by an extended trip back to Dallas-Fort Worth for the holidays. Setting foot back on Austin soil always feels like a big breath of fresh air. I often say I would not choose going somewhere I have been over somewhere new, but home is one of the few exceptions, more specifically, my bedroom I am slowly working on transforming.  No bed can compete with your very own.

I usually write about pretty things that make home LOOK better, but today, I want to focus on a few things that make home FEEL better: those familiar creature comforts that make home the cozy retreat to which you look forward to returning.

For me, those things include dimmer switches, blackout lined curtains, and rug pads.

I have a dimmer switch installed in our ensuite bathroom. I am a morning shower person, but I wake up slowly. Flipping a switch to full brightness was jarring to me, but was an easy, inexpensive fix. A $10 trip to Lowe’s a few turns of a screwdriver later, I can wake up at my own pace. Bonus points for Anthony and I not waking each other up if one of us has to use the restroom in the middle of the night.

Dimmer Lightswitch

Blackout lined curtains was the most recent addition to our bedroom and I will be forever singing their praises. They are especially nice for weekend naps and adjusting back to Central Standard Time after a far-away escapade. They range in price greatly, and are the most expensive of the three items, but are both beautiful and purposeful.

Copper Curtain Rod Navy Velvet Blackout Curtains

I’m not a huge fan of carpet, but stepping out of bed onto hardwood floors in the morning isn’t on my list of luxurious feelings. After ridding our room of a rug that shed too much to keep up with and laying down a silky, low-pile replacement, RugpadUSA offered to send me a wood safe, eco-friendly pad. It turned out to be very similar to one I had purchased off of Amazon for our living room, but working with them was great and their pricing is competitive! They cut the pad to precisely fit my rug dimensions and will offer guidance, if needed, on choosing a pad that won’t damage your floors and meets your expectations. Since my bed anchors my rug, for me it was more about cushion than grip, and protecting both our floors and rug. I was disappointed when I removed my old, unpadded rug to find that my bed had left several small dents in my wood floor. The added padding also ups the plush factor in our bedroom. Rug pads certainly aren’t showstoppers that transform the look of your room, but I have learned that they’re worth the (small) investment.

Rug and Pad

What are some of your favorite unseen material elements of home?

Navy, Lavender, and Grey Bedroom

9 Nov

Somewhere between travelling, making fewer but larger changes to the house, and trying to figure out what the future of Gusto & Grace looks like, I’ve heard that little whisper: get back to blogging.

The truth is, I haven’t been entirely satisfied with the quality of work I have put into the blog. I follow a lot of bloggers with already stunning homes that they tweak and photograph or majorly renovate, who have graphic designers and website techs on speed dial. I follow many bloggers whose full time jobs are to decorate, improve their photography, and network online. My social media feeds are a barrage of gorgeous work put out by gorgeous women. That, not being my story, seems to make blogging success and a strong readership unlikely.

But maybe I need to change my view of success. I love all the creative and inspiring content so many bloggers are putting out, and sometimes even wish I could do exactly the same, but I miss blogs of process. I miss blogs as a side hustle where the decor (fashion, food, etc.) featured is realistic for readers (those who aren’t getting the free product). I miss blogs that feel more authentic and truer to the everyday life I live.

Blog on!, that voice insists. So here I will humbly write, in hopes of finding my own voice, in hopes of being the blog, like the first few I discovered a decade ago, that is relatable and inspiring in a down-to-earth, i-can-do-that sort of way.

Vision finally struck for my very unfinished master bedroom, and I created a crude design board, completely void of accessories. I hope you’ll stick around for the next year or so, as I pull it together, piece by piece.

Navy, Lavender, and Grey Bedroom Design Board

I am excited about the challenge of creating a comfortable, peaceful, and rejuvenating space for Anthony and myself.

After quite the saga of hunting down the perfect copper curtain rod, I hung curtains last week, and ordered the rug pictured. Over the last two weeks I have picked up some euro shams and a new comforter on deep discount. The mirrored copper side table is on my Christmas wishlist while the armoire, peacock, and inlaid nightstands are dream pieces I hope to pick up over time. Photos and sources to follow.

As always, thanks for reading,
Dominique

Art Deco Accent Wall

10 Sep

Before stumbling upon Catherine Martin’s Metropolis wallpaper, I was completely against accent walls. I always thought they kept your eyes from moving around a room, usually to rest on a color that was too bold for my personal taste.

Apparently, when you go against your firmly held design beliefs, the best things can happen. Exhibit A:

Living Room Art Deco Wallpaper

The Gatsby inspired wallpaper would be far too busy for a room the size of my living room, and too dark for a room so well lit. Not to mention too expensive for my current budget. Boy, do I love it!

Dominique Paolini's Art Deco Living Room

This is the first project for which I hired a professional. You guys, I went on vacation and came back to skim coated walls. I went to work the following day, and came back to wallpapered walls. Heaven, I tell you: paradise.

Slowly, life is being breathed into my vision. This home is mine?!

Thanks for Reading,

♥ Dominique

P.S. If you’re new around here or need a refresher on what the room looked like before, click here.

Day Trip From Austin: The Antlers Hotel

22 Jul

I am very much a city girl. That being said, sometimes a weekend with very little phone reception, no laptop, and quiet surroundings is exactly what I need for a weekend.

For our second wedding anniversary, we opted to do the exact opposite of what we did last year. No big trip, no fancy meals, just a quiet weekend away from everything doing absolutely nothing. It was perfect.

We drove about an hour outside of Austin and stayed overnight in a train car at the Antlers Hotel in Kingsland, Texas. I devoured The Boxcar Children books growing up, though I think they were a bit more resourceful than us. Our green caboose had indoor plumbing and air conditioning.

Green Train Car Cabin Antlers Hotel Texas

It seems Anthony and I have a thing for strange sleeping accomodations. Now we have stayed in both a caboose and a tepee.

Yellow Train Car Antlers Hotel Kingsland Texas

Red Train Car Antlers Hotel Kingsland Texas

While we opted to eat at the Grand Central Cafe on property, which is the house used on the set of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (romantic, right?), there are grills outside the train cars, kitchenettes inside, and a grocery store just down the road (all of which I would recommend over the restaurant). Marble Falls isn’t far if you want a few more restaurant options.

Antlers Train Car Hotel Dock

Antlers Hotel Train Car Hotel Kingsland Texas Rowboat

The hotel had two private docks as well as a rowboat and a canoe for guests to use. We went for a leisurely morning row.

antlers hotel signantlers hotel patio

antlers hotel marker

We also spent some time at Sweet Berry Farms picking strawberries. And stopped at Apiary for brunch on the way back into town.

Before we left for the weekend, a for sale sign was put up on the property. I hope the property remains a hotel. It is a perfect weekend getaway from city livin’.

Lessons in Lighting

8 Jun

I heard once that lighting is the jewelry of a room. I can’t remember where I heard that phrase, nor do I know who originally said it, regardless, I love it.

If decorating my home had a focus for the year, it would be lighting. While my home is still home to many basic fixtures, I have made a conscious effort to customize my cookie cutter with lighting that reflects my personal taste. As with most areas of decorating, I wait for inspiration, hunt for a good value, and take it one small step at a time.

So what have I done in 2015 to up my lighting game?

  • Added dimmer switches
  • Installed ceiling medallions
  • Upgraded ceiling fixtures
  • Added floor and table lamps

Move over candles! Dimmer switches can add the same romance to a dining room that candles might. They can also add a relaxing ambiance to a bathroom perfect for a soak. I personally like to gradually raise the level of light in my bathroom as I get ready each morning.

Ceiling medallions add architectural interest. Last year, I installed a simple one Black and White Entry. This year, a more ornate medallion in the dining room.

Eryn Ceiling Medallion Dining Room | www.gustoandgraceblog.com |#decor #home #interiors #diningroom #chandeliers

Lighting can be costly, but I have scoured and scored over the past few months. My under-buyer habits made me walk away from a great deal on a vintage lucite and brass waterfall chandelier, but I didn’t get a mile away from the antique store before turning around, realizing that I’d regret not scooping up the steal. I ordered a new canopy and hung it in the hallway. The photo really doesn’t do it justice.

Vintage Lucite and Brass Waterfall Chandelier

For more than a year, I have hunted for a black glass chandelier for my entryway. Then, several months ago, I stumbled upon an affordable (!!!) glass company from Italy. It felt like a huge break, and I promptly placed a custom order for a chandelier made of dreams. It not so promptly arrived more than two months (twice as long as anticipated) later. I expected it to be plug and play, but it came vacuum sealed in pieces. For the price, I can’t complain, and I’m always up for a new challenge.

Black Italian Murano Glass ChandelierShe’s my sort of bizzarre, edgy, Murano glass beaut. Please excuse my continued drooling.

Black Glass Chandelier Murano Italy

For some time now I’ve admired the late French designer Serge Mouille’s lighting designs. Originals are cost prohibitive, but I finally pulled the trigger on a fantasic reproduction of his 3-arm floor lamp from France & Sons. At nearly seven (7) feet tall, the lamp has a considerable footprint and filled a large void in my living room.

Neutral Living Room | www.gustoandgraceblog.com | #decor #home #interiors #mouille #design #livingroom #brass #furniture #MyRH #Anthrofaves #mywestelmThanks for Reading,

♥ Dominique

Still Reppin’ Cheap Art

25 May

Large scale art can be expensive, and while I’m still working on gathering basic furnishings and decor as a first-time home owner, art just hasn’t made its way up the priority list. Just because splurging on an original painting from my favorite artist isn’t in the cards right now, doesn’t mean I want barren walls.

I’ve loved Ashley Woodson Bailey‘s dark floral photographs since the first time I saw them. Some of my favorite designers, like Kristin Jackson and Christine Dovey, have used her photograph’s in their homes and clients’.

via The Hunted Interior

I’ve also loved Ellie Cashman‘s wallpaper designs, which I believe are based off of Dutch painter Cornelis van Spaendonck’s work, but I’m not sure I am ready to commit to a fully floral bathroom yet either.

via Cupcakes and Cashmere

The affordable compromise? Framed Ellie Cashman wallpaper samples. They probably won’t stay forever, but I LOVE them. This time, I spent the extra $12 and had custom black core mats cut at Hobby Lobby. I still opted for my trusty IKEA Ribba frames.

Ellie Cashman Wallpaper Prints Art Black Paint Bathroom

Looking for more inexpensive art inspiration? Check out my free printable watercolour Prada Marfa print, the $2 marble art I made, and how I upgraded my IKEA Ribba frames.

Thanks for reading,

♥ Dominique

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