Recreational Herb

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If you’re anything like my husband and me, you are already booking up your weekend with projects and perhaps even picking up some materials on your way home from work. Here’s a quick and easy DIY for your kitchen that will give you lots of satisfaction and good bang for buck.

We wanted fresh herbs on hand for all our cooking but don’t like the look of an over-crowded window sill nor did we want to install one of those greenhouse windows because—while luscious from the inside—they look completely tragic from the outside. So I came up with this simple solution—glass bathroom shelves with rectangular planters—and my husband sourced the below materials for a chic, minimalist, and bountiful kitchen herb garden.

Would be a wonderful way to bring greenery (and a little privacy) to a bath or bedroom window as well…they don’t need to be herbs!

Have a wonderful weekend and happy projecting!

Photography by Laura Moss
Glass shelves are 23 5/8″ wide HJÄLMAREN from IKEA and were $18/ea.
The 10x4x5″ ceramic containers we used were similar to this one, $7/ea.

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Born Again Kitchen

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Interior Design by Meredith McBride Kipp & Ryerson Kipp
Photography by Laura Moss
Shoot Styling by Karin Olsen

When we bought our dream home—a simple and classic farmhouse (built in 1805) in Franklin Lakes, NJ—the 50’s stained-knotty-pine kitchen was not part of that dream. Despite this fact, my husband thought we should abstain from a kitchen remodel for a few months…or a year even. I should mention now that I’m a renovation zealot? We owned the home for less than 24 hours when I demo’d one of the walls to open the floor plan up to the family room. Surprising as it may seem, we started work on the kitchen immediately.

With help from a wonderful builder (Mark Ferrero of Oakland, NJ. phone: 201.926.3967) and advice from the best local architect (my mother, Pam Watt McBride, phone: 201.805.3825) we realized our dream kitchen. Pam gave us the brilliant idea to use 4′ for an adjacent room to expand the kitchen to make space for the refrigerator and a deluxe little food pantry with french doors. By pushing the refrigerator back into the wall and adding a pantry, we were able to eliminate the need for upper cabinets—making the space feel much larger—and gave us room for a long, narrow island.

We wanted a classic kitchen—like one you might find in a formal townhouse from the 1800’s—but with a modern and industrial bent. Our farmhouse would have originally had a dirt floor kitchen with a huge hearth—still partly visible in what we are turning into a library. I’d always wanted a black kitchen, but since this room gets very little sun we went half & half.  For serious historical (yet moderne) oomph, we did an entire wall in a 6″X12″ Carrera marble tile and used modern stainless hardware and a chrome sink fixture to tie in our large industrial hood, range and ovens. We paneled over the existing brick wall to give it a more polished look and further drive out the 50’s juju.

We used a large antique banyan wood and glass case—originally from an apothecary in India, instead of more cabinetry—to give it a more eclectic, unique, and lived-in look. This element also tied in the butcher block island countertop nicely and gave a little more warmth and charm to the otherwise austere kitchen design.

I can’t imagine life without this kitchen; now the heart of our lively home. AND, a great national print magazine—to remain unnamed for now—is coming to shoot it for their publication later this month, so we did something right!

See my RESOURCES below for your kitchen renovations & CHEERS!

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LINKS & RESOURCES
Builder: Mark Ferrero of Oakland, NJ. phone: 201.926.3967
White Counters
Caesarstone, installed by Atlas Marble & Granite (in pantry as well)
Wood Counter (island): Karlby 98″ X 26″ from IKEA. Needs to be oiled regularly with mineral oil $140
Cabinets: Black ones are “Laxabry” from IKEA with a 25-year warranty. White ones under the island are from Green Demolitions, a fabulous salvage place definitely worth checking out.
Sink: 30-inch Undermount Stainless Steel 16 Gauge Single Bowl by VIGO
Faucetdanze Parma Single Handle Pre-Rinse Kitchen Faucet in chrome
Backsplash: 6″x12″ polished Millas Carrera tiles from Metropolitan Tile & Stone in Hawthorne, NJ
Open Shelves: totally custom
Light fixtures: three “Academy” semi-flushmounts from Home Depot customized to make them pendants $135/ea on dimmers
China Cupboard: antique banyan wood piece from India, bought at ABC Carpet & Home customized on the inside with shelves
Pantry Doors: 18″ tempered glass french doors from Kuiken Brothers
Range Stove and Double-Oven: both from JENN-AIR
Range Hood: by BEST and the chimney is custom fabricated and custom finished by Broadhurst Sheet Metal Works
Wine Cooler
(in island): Avanti Dual Zone for whites and reds with temperature control
Floors: Stained black bamboo flooring “Black Mamba” from Lumber Liquidators in Hackensack, NJ
Windows are original
Shingle-style architect: Pam Watt McBride, phone: 201.805.3825

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Backyard Decor Solution

Spring Cleaning can be both cathartic and frustrating. As you spend these next few weekends planning for your outdoor life, don’t get worked up about how you’re going to make your backyard look just right.  If you’ve considered refreshing your exterior decor, you’ve likely realized you’ll spend well into the thousands to do so. But don’t panic, I’ve got a solution for you. In an effort to find the right pieces for my own patio, I have searched high and low to find the right products for reasonable prices. Here’s my selection of eclectic & bohemian, yet classic backyard decor. Clickable links to each product below. Happy Spring!

Meredith McBride Kipp Backyard Decor Savvy Selects

1. Scalamandre Melamine Salad Plates
Set of four $24.50, FRONTGATE

2. Pagoda Umbrella in Maui
$199.95, Pier 1 imports

3. citronella grey candle
$19.95, CB2

4. Capella Island Deluxe Armchair
$379.95, Pier 1 imports

5. OUTDOOR IDRISS PRINT LUMBAR PILLOW
$59.50, Pottery Barn

6. chunky white block planter
$39.95, CB2

7. Classic Beach Fold Chair
$229.00, Navy/Sand, Ballard Designs

8. OUTDOOR LARACHE PRINT PILLOW
$49.50, Pottery Barn

9. Ceylon Whitewash Chaise
$549, Ballard Designs

10. Quinn Garden Stool
$119.95, Pier 1 imports

11. Farmhouse Hammock Cushion
$399, Canopy Stripe Taupe/Sand Sunbrella, Ballard Designs

12. dockside II dining table
$449.00, CB2

Guest Bath Makeover

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Here’s a good weekend project for you to tackle on this Saturday morning:
Breathe new life into that awful bathroom you have been aching to change.
Because I used a few items I already had, I only spent $150 to transform my guest bath in one weekend.

Here were my steps for the Guest Bath Transformation:
1. I removed wallpaper (Supplies: $30)
2. patched, primed, painted walls (I chose a cool grey so it would look nice with the existing green stone countertop. Paint: $50)
3. cabinetry: removed hardware, filled holes, and sanded the cabinets lightly all over
4. rubbed the cabinets with the wall color on a rag & let it dry
5. sanded the cabinets to the desired amount of distressed
6. drilled holes for new hardware and installed (New hardware: $40)
7. got bath mats to mask the flooring that I didn’t replace (New bath mats: $30)
8. hung a reclaimed wood mirror (that used to hang on the porch of my last house) over the existing mirror (you could do this with just a frame as well. Restoration Hardware Mirror: $$)
9. leaned an oversized photograph at the far end of the bath for drama (Garage sale from artist $20)
10. used a freestanding towel rack I already had for a little old world charm (Waterworks Towel Rack $$)

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A Proper Old Fashioned

010_drink_051For a proper butler’s pantry, one needs a proper Old Fashioned recipe…
Photography by Laura Moss
Styling by Meredith McBride Kipp

HOW TO MAKE A PROPER OLD FASHIONED
1 sugar cube
1 orange rind or (my husband’s favorite) grapefruit
3 dashes Angostura bitters 
2 ounces bourbon (Small Batch 1792—incredible value) or rye
1 Luxardo Marasca cherry

Place sugar, orange or grapefruit and bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Gently muddle until sugar resembles a fine paste. Add the bourbon or rye, along with a large ice cube (we like these cubes), and stir well. DO NOT top with club soda. Garnish with Luxardo cherry.

You had me at Butler’s Pantry…

Photography by Laura Moss
Styling by Meredith McBride Kipp 

When touring old homes (and new), a butler’s pantry is always the highlight for me. It was one of the selling features when my husband and I bought our 1805 farmhouse. Despite the charm of the home, the butler’s pantry lacked the proper character and polish. We believe it was added in the 1950’s, and was in need of a major facelift. First off, the upper cabinets needed to be moved up nearly a foot in order to actually accommodate the height of a bottle.

My husband tackled this project with full steam last year while I worked on our soon-to-arrive baby’s nursery upstairs (I will post that decor story soon). Our thought was that ‘if we’re going to have a child, we’re probably going to need a proper place to mix a cocktail.’ (SEE OLD FASHIONED RECIPE BELOW) So we bumped the project to the top of the list. With that he tackled the powder room and the back stairwell. SEE BEFORES AND AFTERS BELOW

Steps for transforming the BUTLER’S PANTRY:
Removed the overhead soffit and upper cabinets
Rebuilt the upper cabinets using only the existing doors (which we think are original from the home’s first kitchen)
Trimmed out the lower cabinet doors
Painted the whole room a delicious prohibition-era-inspired dark teal
Replaced the painted wood counter with black granite
Tiled the backsplash with 6″x12″ (subway style) hand-cut mirror tiles
Installed art spotlights, under-cabinet lighting, interior-cabinet lighting, and electrical outlets
Hung a beautiful oversized, overhead, brass light fixture
Hung lion-head door knockers for a bit of (Bowie’s) Labyrinth whimsy
Installed sleek brass hardware

Steps for transforming the POWDER ROOM:
Removed toilet, sink and tile floor
Removed wallpaper and light fixture
Installed paneling on walls and repaired, primed and painted walls and trim
wallpapered above paneling
installed Julisk light
installed new miniature sink with custom-designed marble backsplash and counter
Steps for transforming the BACK STAIRWELL:
Stripped the carpet & wallpaper
Caulked and repaired walls, trim and floors
Primed and painted walls, ceiling and stairs
Cut and stapled floor runners to create continuous look
Framed and hung important historical family photos

BEFORES & AFTERS:

BUTLER’S PANTRY CLICKABLE RESOURCES:
Brass light fixture
Custom teal paint color: click to see image of scannable barcode for home depot BEHR color
Lion head door knockers are antique, but here are some similar ones 

POWDER ROOM CLICKABLE RESOURCES:
Juliska light fixture
Miniature porcelain sink
Marble sink surround and backsplash custom designed by Meredith, cut by Atlas Stone
Marble sink surround and backsplash installed with love by Sebastian Martorana
Rose vase by his talented wife, Amanda Martorana

BACK STAIRS RESOURCES:
Chevron stair runners

 

 

Deck the Halls…

…with tasteful, interesting decorations.

In honor of a curated Christmas season I have made a small run of boho-chic Christmas stockings… to be hung by your fire with care.

They are made of printed vintage cotton (block print and batik) and backed with a gorgeous, dark blue chambray. I dare you to ditch your ratty, old polyester numbers and take it up a notch this season. Don’t be afraid to mix and match.

Here is my store on Etsy (priced $28-$36): www.etsy.com/shop/aMereLife

The Bee’s Knees


As we quickly approach the holidays, you probably need to relax…and want a good, strong cocktail to do so. I’ve just the solution for you. A delightful little drink called The Bee’s Knees: a heavenly blend of fragrant lavender and honey that will calm the nerves and soothe the soul. The recipe is from my mother-in-law, a Vermonter who—as a recent retiree—has mastered the arts of relaxation and laborious cocktails. This one in particular she picked up from the barkeep at a great little restaurant called Starry Night near Charlotte, VT.

Here’s how you make The Bee’s Knees. In a sauce pan steep roughly 1 cup lavender, 4 cups water, and 1/2 cup honey. Adjust/add honey to taste as needed (depending on strength of honey and lavender.) Steep the mixture over low heat (do not boil) until the lavender begins to lose color. You will see it start to turn brown. Stir all the while (about 15 minutes). Drain the mixture through cheese cloth and put the deep mauve liquid in the refrigerator to cool. This will make a little over 1 quart of your lavender/honey mix.



Once the mix has cooled, pour 3 parts lavender mix and 1 part gin into a shaker. We used Bar Hill Gin, a delicious Vermont-born-and-raised gin with notes of raw honey & juniper berry. Add the juice of 1 small lime, roughly a tablespoon of simple syrup (if needed to cut the bitterness: trust your taste buds), a handful of ice, and you’re ready to shake and serve. It will come out the most beautiful shade of pink.

This soothing cocktail is sure to give you the buzz you are looking for. Happy chilling.

Animal Instincts

Now that we are past New York Fashion Week, let’s talk about a real trend-setter with values deeply rooted in the earth, well-being, and humanity.

Before it was popular, Imelda McCain (seen above) opened her all-handmade toy store, Playing Mantis, in Tribecca in with the goal of providing families and children with toys she felt were worthy of—and that she was already making for—her own son, Lucas (seen below). Not only has she been providing smart, wholesome, green toys for local families for the past 8 years, but she has been giving back to craftsmen and their families and communities—around the globe—in the process.

According to Imelda, every toy has to have a story and a passionate creator behind them. With these altruistic standards in mind, Imelda has had many years of success with Playing Mantis as she has watched Lucas, now 14, grow up. She has been making toys out of felted wool (from her own alpaca & sheep farm) and wood since the get go, but this year she has started a new line that I think is particularly fabulous, and Lucas agrees.

So if you are left feeling drained from another overly-commercial Fashion Week, take a peek at these stunning creations of Imelda’s and feel inspired, refreshed, and perhaps a few years younger? Coincidentally—or not—Halloween is just around the corner and so is Playing Mantis where Imelda has all of her homemade, homegrown, felted-wool beauties on display and for sale! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! And if you haven’t been to Imelda’s shop, it’s well worth a visit.