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Casa Covet Living: Plumbing & Lighting & Tile – Oh my!

Casa Covet Living | Demo

Good LAWD where do I start?  …probably by telling you that there’s SO MUCH TO TELL YOU since we haven’t blogged about Casa CL in so long, so you prolly oughta either take a bathroom break or resolve to look at pics today, cuz this one’s gonna be meaty.  Casa Covet Living, as of last Friday, is all kindsa gutted and looks about like this:

Casa Covet Living | Demo

Cuz support beams went in… which means those interior walls that rendered the living / kitchen / dining each like, 4 ft x 4 ft are no more:

casa covet living | walls be gone


And the rest of the house looks about like this:

(From Living Room, Looking at Entry and Dining Nook)


(Dining Nook / Kitchen)




(Back Kitchen Window and future French doors)


(Back Family Room French Doors and Hall to Master)


(Master Bedroom, future French doors at left, backyard straight ahead… also, that skinny window up top is gonna get way taller to leeeeeeeet the sunshine in)


(Master Bedroom, back corner… prob where Karrie’ll get put when she’s in timeout, or if she has another Backdraft episode)


(Master Bedroom, headboard wall with closet/bath area to right)


(Future Walk-In Closet, then Bath)

We’re in that stage right now where the rubber hath met the road and the contractor (Boston Joe!) needs ALL DECISIONS like, yesterday.  And even though we’ve been fiddle-farting around with this stuff for awhile, it’s tough to pull the trigger on everything all at once, stay within your budget, all the while making sure it all works together – ye know?  At this point it’s REAL EASY to throw up your hands and go – “Just put in whatever and get it done – I don’t care.”  But HAYLE NAW we won’t do that, cuz this lovenest needs to look but more importantly feel like Neverneverland.  Here are the decisions we’re grappling with:


Actually, we hammered it out and made all these decisions last weekend. The good news is that according to Accurate Electric Plumbing Heating & Air we’re still right on schedule. We’re obviously bracing for setbacks and surprises, but so far we haven’t seen any which is good. Karrie tried to do some preliminary scouting for plumbing fixtures one weekend when I wasn’t in town, which in hindsight was a mistake:

casa covet living | karrie shopping for plumbing

She probably had nightmares for weeks afterward, b/c if you’ve ever been to a kitchen/bath fixture showroom, you know you leave the place feeling like this (#bubububububub):

casa covet living | overboard

It’s not just that there are so many choices… it’s that there’s so much that goes into each fixture – the interior components, how it’s made, who the vendor is and if they have good or crummy customer service, etc – most of which is a sea of mystery to me.  Some vendors make great bath faucets but stink at kitchen faucets.  Blah blah blah.  But I do know this: generally speaking with plumbing fixtures, you get what you pay for.  Now y’all know I love Goodwill and a good DIY / budget anything more than life itself, but I’ll also shoot you straight when it comes to what you can cut corners on and what you can’t.  A lot of the stuff at Lowe’s/Home Depot, for instance, has interior components that are made from plastic and may not last quite as long.  So if you ask me, it’s better to spend an extra $100-$200 now on a fixture that could save you from getting slapped with multiple $150 (minimum) bills from the plumber, potential leaks etc.  Case & Point: I once had an el-cheap-o dishwasher in my house in Charleston that I was renting out, which then leaked when the tenants were on vacation, which then destroyed the hardwood floors in the kitchen.   So I had to replace the DW, the hardwoods, and pay for mold remediation – which was basically the same cost as a semester at Harvard.  See what I mean?

ANYWAY: I went to my resident plumbing homegirl Kelli O. at PIRCH in San Diego, who helped me do all the legwork (side note: I know peeps are scared to go into PIRCH, because it looks so baller that you would assume it’s only for Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous budgets, but did you know they’ll match ANYONE’S pricing?  Yeah. Plus their customer service is amazing, they are all crazy knowledgable about all things kitchen & bath, and thank GOD, because it is a big riddle to most people.  Plus I mean – they have complimentary exotic fruit-infused water and lattes, so there’s that)… anyway.  They make a regularly mind-bending process super easy, so there is tremendous value in using them (and really no reason not to).  In the end, we had to order through the contractor’s peeps – cuz ye know – those guys usually “got a guy,” but nonetheless this is what we picked:

~Kitchen Sink & Faucet~

casa covet living | kitchen plumbing

We did consider a faucet with a pull-down sprayer, but the warranty on the hoses (which vary per vendor) was a concern, plus some of them end up looking like this sad character.  No bueno.  ALSO, Karrie likens the look of a fat pull-down sprayer to “an elephant penis.”  So there’s that.

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.06.19 AM

The Kohler Artifacts faucet was a stunner – in a classic Something’s-Gotta-Give kitchen sort of way.  And the vibrant polished nickel finish was gorgeous in person (we also considered ORB).  For the farmhouse sink, we looked at the infamous Shaw apron sink from Rohl – which is gorgeous, but is pricier than most and made of Fireclay (meaning it will stain if you leave spaghetti sauce / beet juice / red wine in the sink basin).  In the end we did the Kohler Whitehaven Farmhouse sink – because it is: a) cast-iron coated in enamel, meaning much more resilient when it comes to stains, b) more cost effective, and c) has little wings / returns on either end for a finished look.

~Hall Bath Faucet~

Remember the hall bath?  It’s gonna look about like this:

Casa Covet Living | Hall Bath | Stephanie Ballard Interiors

…so we did the Astor Faucet in Satin Bronze from Newport Brass.  Good quality, moderate price point, you can customize in any of like, 20 finishes, and Newport Brass is HQ’d in SoCal so if we ever need anything, they’re right up the street.  Shower fittings to match.

Casa Covet Living | Hall Bath Astor Faucet, Newport Brass

~Master Bath Faucets~

Master Bath has this sort of vibe going on… we just ordered that blue glass subway tile.  Flooring TBD.

master bath | blue glass tile

So, we’re doing the Chesterfield in Polished Chrome from Newport Brass.  Lever handles are a little easier for every day use, and polished chrome is generally the most cost-effective finish you can do.  I would usually go polished nickel for this look, but I saw them side-by-side and honestly couldn’t tell the difference.  Doing shower fittings to match.

Chesterfield 930L_26_largealt

~Bath Sinks~

Lacava 5485 Spring Undermount Sink in White

lacava undermount sink

~The Johns~

Have you guys seen this 15 second video yet of Karrie on the commode?  …probably best to watch it now.  PPS, if anyone has any two cents on the Squatty Potty situation, please weigh in in the comments.  King Kuruzar is dead-set on one.  Whereas I personally like to take a nice leisurely rest and don’t like to do a wall-sit and have to “work” while I’m on the throne, but that’s just me.

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 11.29.12 AM


Casa Covet Living | Vegas Peacock

Thanks, btw y’all, for helping us decide between Vegas Peacock & Navy!  Obviously, Vegas Peacock panned out.  Did I tell you guys that in addition to design gigs on the side, I’m doing kitchens & baths for San Diego Custom Cabinets now?  But anyway – since they can match any stain/paint color easy peasy, we get to rig a custom color for everything.  The images above are the jam we’re working with…  Top left is Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue No. 289, which looks pretty spot on, bottom middle is pretty perfect but they refused to tell me what color it was b/c it’s “proprietary” (yawn), but I’m gonna have some door samples made and we’ll see where we land.


casa covet living | master vanity

In the spirit of trying to mix things up and not be the one trick pony who gets lazy and puts the saaammmmme white vanity / cabinet in every bath, we’re thinking of moving from a white vanity in the master bath to stained vanity – maybe a European Oak-esque something or other.  If we weren’t doing that super Caribbean / serenity now beach glass tile in the shower, I would’ve gone bananas and done a navy or even an olive green vanity… but we kicked around the stained idea over the weekend, and while we haven’t nailed the finish yet, we’re trying to go with something that complements and doesn’t compete with the shower tile (which is the star in that room), something that doesn’t read too Country-Living-driftwood-trendy, and something that feels a little bit contemporary.  We can also change the cabinet door style in there from a shaker to a slab front door, or float the vanity (meaning, it’s affixed to the wall and will be about 9″-12″ off the floor) to get that vibe.  Or, we can do a deeper tone, comme ça:

casa covet living | master vanity finish


So, you know these Gracias Madre pendants are happening in the kitchen, right?  I showed Karrie a million other options, but girlfriend had tunnel vision for those, so we had them custom made.  And Amen, cuz they’re gonna be the crown &#^%’n  jewel of that kitchen.

And you know what you do when you need to know the size for proportions’ sake? …you make politely ask the manager come out and help you measure.  Thank you, kind sir!  PS Wendy Haworth designed this restaurant and needs a da*n trophy for it.  I may just make her one myself.



After you look at plumbing all day and then configure tile and then measure the house, then you should probably have a margarita.  Or 3.

casa covet living | stephanie of covet living

PS this was the situation after 3 margaritas… and after I licked the delicious sugar/salt mixture off the rim of my glass.  In public.  If that’s not enough, Karrie posted this video last weekend.  See Bachelor contestants!  We’re all special in our own ways.  (PS I promise I’ll resume Bach Posts asap…)

casa covet living | margaritas

Moving along.  This is what Karrie’s pendants will look like to scale in her her & Tim’s kitchen.

casa covet living | kitchen CAD drawing

And if you remember from last time, we’re doing these sconces at the sink:

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.05.37 PM

For the DINING NOOK, which is right up next to those baller custom pendants, I don’t want to do another set of pendants, or anything with more glass, since we have the iron & glass pendants in the kitchen like 10 feet away.  So, looking to do one larger fixture – something that introduces a different texture, maybe some shades, etc.  The Antibes from Currey & Co is my el-favorit-o:


Also looking at the Vendome Chandelier from Visual Comfort.  I like this one for it’s curvy lines, and because it does a good job of introducing a softer texture / shades… and I also wanna swap the existing shades for little burlap ditties.  FUN FACT: Reese Witherspoon has 2 of these in her living room, so there’s that.

casa covet living | dining room nook chandelier

Slash I have a dream… to do a beaded bad a$$ like the Hedy from Currey & Co in the dining nook, if only it didn’t cost $5 million dollars.

Hedy, Currey & Co

Also in the running are the 30″ Roark from Visual Comfort/Ralph Lauren (left) – which I love – and the Etoile (…meh) – also from Visual Comfort.  PS if you click those links you might ruin your drawers cuz those are retail prices, and I’m passing my wholesale discount straight to the owner of my shared brain and her hubs.  Trying to find a knock-off of the Roark from RL – anybody seen one around?

casa covet living | dining room

For the MASTER BEDROOM, because it’s a tight squeeze and we only have 24″ inches on either side of the bed for nightstands, we opted for wall sconces vs. lamps to save space.  Here are the contenders:

Casa Covet Living | Master Bedroom Sconce Contenders

(Clockwise from top left): 1. Alto Sconce (fave) | 2. Ellerbe Sconce, $199 | 3. Drake Wall Mount Sconce (fave – duh), $573 | 4. Monroe Swing Arm, $590 | 5. Flynn Wall Sconce, $195 | 6. Elkins Double Sconce | 7. Envoy Swing Plug-In Sconce, $274 | 8. Brunswick Wall Lamp, $1,150 | 9. Parisian Wall Sconce (fave), $247.50

Nuts, I forgot the Clarkson Double Sconce from Visual Comfort ($588).  Also baller.

Clarkson Double Sconce, VC

We also have to do flush mounts for overhead lighting in the Master, Office, Bedroom-in-the-middle and *cough* My Room. Looked at the Siena Flush Mount from Visual Comfort for $272, but this chick rigged a doppelgänger from a $45 Home Depot fixture + a $6.89 can of spray paint.  Done.  ‘Spesh since we have to have something in the ceiling to – you know – see to walk and pass inspections & such – but we haven’t had time yet to flea market our faces up and dabble in some antiques and more unique pieces, so doing a budget overhead light in a few rooms that looks A-ok for now but can be replaced later with zero guilt is a good move.

DIY Home Depot $45 Flush Mount

I also liked this schoolhouse-y feller below… which has similar friends like Otis and Edmond and Satellite.

Flush Mount Classic

PS since Karrie told me she wants me to decorate the front bedroom My Room however I want, then if we’re playing the pipe dream game, I’d like this 1950’s Italian semi-flush mount in mine, pretty please & thanks:

italian 1950's flush mount

Plans on the jobsite… how bout them apples??  I can actually hear Teem groaning as we speak.  fjkdl;sajfjdsakjajjahjahahahah


OMG are we there yet?  ……….moving along.  We may do a similar flush mount in the ENTRY, though I do have pipe dreams about doing one of the below… probably the Noreen from Arteriors (top right).  Maybe with a sweet little ceiling medallion.

Casa Covet Living | Entry Lighting Options

(Clockwise from top left): 1. Moravian Medium Star, $1050 | 2. Osgood Pendant, $900 | 3. Noreen Pendant, $630 | 4. Strada Medium Flush Mount, $1000 | 5. Midcentury Sputnik Semi-Flush, $240.

Or… lest we forget… we still have this gorgeous guy from Jamie Young hanging in Karrie’s current dining room, so gotsta use that somewhere too.

jamie young flowering lotus

Last but not least, MASTER BATH.  What say you guys?

Casa Covet Living | Master Bath Sconces

(Left to Right): 1. Barbara Cosgrove Polished Nickel Sconce with Shade, $325 | 2. Pimlico Sconce, $399 | 3. Vendome Single Sconce, $200 | 4. Bryant Sconce with Glass Shade, $315…slash if I’m being honest, Karrie and I are both kinda snoring b/c these are all so safe.  I pulled ’em b/c the shades (all but the Vendome) are glass, which bodes mo betta in a bathroom vs. a fabric shade… but we’re shifting gears to funky.  Stay tuned.

Oh I lied.  KITCHEN BACKSPLASH.  I love me some Amiel at Country Floors in West Hollywood.

Casa Covet Living | Amiel, Country Floors

Casa Covet Living | Amiel, Country Floors | Tabarka

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 7.58.50 AM

He’s who we originally ordered allllllll our samples through… and he’s also the one who spent too much time to mention with me last weekend trying to figure out the best way to lay out the Tabarka backsplash.  After which, we were both like this:


It was his genius idea to turn the backsplash diagonally, so that the 4-5/8″ squares are diamonds instead of running linear.  Because we only had a certain amount of space between the top of the range and the bottom of the range hood, and then inside the chair rail frame, it meant we were going to have to cut the tile at a funny place if it was running horizontally.  But it doesn’t look seh funny cut when they’re all turned.  He so smarts. #ittakesavillage.  Also – every time I’ve been in there, there have been no less than 2 celebrities shopping for their kitchens, who are probably doing entire mile-long backsplashes in Tabarka, and we’re just doing a wee inset.  And he always devotes so much attention to little ‘ol us, which I swear is the mark of someone bad a$$.  It’s like that one quote about how classy people treat Princess Diana and homeless folks with the same kindness.  Not that we’re homeless, but ye know.

Tabarka Inset Design | Casa Covet Living

Phew!  That’s the tip of the iceberg but that’s what’s goin’ on at Casa Covet Living!  Feel free to weigh-in on (anything/everything) – cuz we love hearing from you guys!  And let’s be honest…  Kar Bear may need some help making decisions.


I need another one of those margs, now.


Steph's Scanned Signature

6 Things that are knocking my socks off

1.  First of all, this guy.  BANG.


Holy pamotherfreakingjamas, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything so beautiful.  A very talented California designer & shop owner named Serena Armstrong had that bad boy stripped and reupholstered.  I stumbled on her lovely blog when I was looking for lights over the weekend, and bam.  There it was.  I’d give my 1st born for that thing.

2.  The best bra, EVER.


Let it be known:  I hate buying bras.  Like, with the fire of 1,000 suns.  I hate trying them on…  I hate fiddling with the straps and the itsy bitsy hangers…  I hate hanging them back up…  and most often, the underwires and straps are so sharp and tight that by the time I leave the dressing room, I seriously look like I got taken out back and beaten.  I hardly ever find bras I like, so when I do, I gotta grab my megaphone and help my girls out (meaning you girls..  not my girls).  Anyhow, I snatched the lace ditty above on a whim at the Free People store in Venice, CA last week, thinking it was kind of sweet and pretty…  and part girl-next-door, part sexy (rawr).  I usually reserve underscoobs like that for times when I think I might have to get half naked (plug your ears, mom & dad), because they’re usually otherwise impractical for every day, but this thing is STUPIDLY soft and comfortable…  so much so that I never wanna wear anything else.  So, I will promptly be stocking up on a few more colors (it comes in about 12 of em.  Radical.  $38 a pop.)

3.  Takin’ it back to the old school.

No joke, last week a boy (*cough* – a very cute boy I was eyeing when he wasn’t looking) passed me a note.  Yup, you heard me.  I’m talking about a straight up, little folded up note – the kind I haven’t passed or been passed since I was 13.  Outside of Mrs. Watson’s science class.  I didn’t even know people still did that, but oh.  Gurl.  The thing came at me in slow-mo, and as soon as I caught a glimpse of college-ruled paper, I’m pretty sure a little pee came out.  Talk about painfully cute and (ah) kind of refreshing.  The only thing that could’ve possibly been more thrilling was if he’d called me on the rotary phone in my parents’ kitchen, and I had to pull the cord halfway down the basement stairs and shut it in the door, so no one could hear me talk.  Long live the 7th grade.

4.  This year’s Ravinia schedule…

…to include James Taylor, Sarah MacLachlan (omg, it’s like Lillith Fair in Chicago, circa 2012), Natalie Merchant (all hail the 90’s), Train (hello, college), and Duran Duran (I die), among others.  For those of you who haven’t been, Ravinia is an outdoor concert venue in the north suburbs of Chicago.  The Metra (train) carts you from the city to this secluded, lush fairy wonderland – complete with grassy knolls and shady trees and hanging lights.  The idea is that you pack a blanket and a picnic, grab a spot, and get cozy and hopped up on little rosé an hour or so before the show.  I saw the Counting Crows there last year, and it was a large slice of heaven.

5.  Gigantic industrial jug lights.

We’re currently revamping our Chicago walk-up apartment (me and platonic boy roommate, that is), and I was super-swooning over these jug lights from Hudson Goods for the living room.  But alas, since I had a sizeable Pottery Barn coupon, I ordered a similar style from the big box store…  which I plan on hanging with a gigantic ceiling medallion.  The light itself is 25″ long and 18″ wide…  yummy.  Traditional + Industrial Modern makes me giddy, so our 10 ft ceilings and late 19th century Victorian architecture will be a killer backdrop for that sucker.

6.  These little floral hot pants.

…from Zara, as seen over at my Charleston homedog Chassity’s blog, Look Linger Love.  Girlfriend’s got some style.  And anybody else who says “y’all” is a friend of mine.