My Sister’s Living Room


I’m sure I’ve told you guys before that my sister and I are identical twins and as close as any two siblings could be.  Here we are at 18-months, circa 1983.  I’m sure you can do the math.  That makes us 22. Plus ten.

The Grit and Polish - Cathy and Terry at 18 months

I’m pretty obsessed with those shoes.  What girl doesn’t need a pair of double-strapped mary janes?!

Anyway, living in different cities is not easy for us.  We talk every day, but it’s not enough.  We really miss each other.  And if either of us could manage the move, we’d be living next door to each other in a heartbeat.  Visiting each other is really important and we try to do so at least monthly.  But lately we’ve been lacking in visits and I really needed some sissy time.  So for the New Years holiday Garrett, Wilder, and I packed up and headed her way.

Today I’m going to show you the awesome living room my sissy and her husband have created in their 1926 Portland, Oregon home.  It’s nice and bright and has the perfect mix of comfy furniture, antiques, and family photos.  You really have no choice but to feel at-ease in this room.

The Grit and Polish - Sissy's Mantle 2The Grit and Polish - Sissy's Living Room FireplaceThe Grit and Polish - Sissy's Living Room CollageThe Grit and Polish - Sissy's Gallery WallThe Grit and Polish - Sissy's Living Room Bench All

It’s beautiful, right?!  I have a ton of favorites in here, but lets talk about photos, paint and flooring.  I absolutely love when a room has something personal and interesting to look at.  I mean I could stare at all those family photos for hours.  Granted sis and I are related so they’re of my family, but I think I’d be equally excited if I walked into a stranger’s house and saw photos like these.  I mean how great is that picture of my Granny Annie standing by the fish in Mexico (bottom left):

The Grit and Polish - Sissy's Living Room Pictures Close Up

Okay, on to the paint.  My sis and Doug chose to go with BM’s Simply White, which must mean that color preference is genetic, because it’s my g0-to white as well.  I’m not sure they’re sold on quite how white this room turned out (especially since their living room has 7 windows on three facades so it gets a TON of light), but I think it really helps the decor and wood pop in this room.  And speaking of wood, did you notice those droll-worthy floors.  They’re not original – the house was built in 1926 and unfortunately the floors were beyond salvaging – but the new floors are oh so lovely!  Uncle Dougie’s family owns a hardwood company so when it came time to install new flooring, he knew exactly what he wanted: wide-planked quarter sawn white oak (hand selected for extra medullary rays – described best as character in the wood) with old-school plugs.  Doug laid the floors himself with help from Garrett, his dad, and my dad and than had them professionally finished and plugged.  And now not even kids with tonka trucks can scratch those things.  They. Are. Amazing.

And can we just talk for a minute about the books 18-month-old Winnie is reading?  Wilder is here reading baby books and Winnie is reading the classics.  I mean talk about literate!

The Grit and Polish - Sissy's Living Room bench close up

Okay, that was a joke.  But aren’t these cloth-bound classics beautiful?!  I’d love to buy the whole collection!

So what did you guys like about my sissy’s living room?  Would you dare to go this white or display so many family photos?



p.s. A beautiful Apartment Therapy home tour I stumbled upon this month.  This one is pretty great too!

p.p.s. Obsessed with Emily Henderson’s old Spanish home makeover.  Did you guys catch the living room?

p.p.p.s. I made this wintery dish from Joy the Baker last-night.  It was ah-mazing!

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I Have My Eye on You: Portland House


Well we’re back from Sonoma (more on that after my wine fog clears) and I have to show you guys a house I’ve been eyeing.  If you’re been following the Grit and Polish, then you know that I love old houses,  especially ones that are in some state of decay.  And this house fits the bill.  The only problem is that it’s 200 miles away in Portland, Oregon…

1711 NE 72nd Ave Portland OR 1

Isn’t it lovely?  I particularly like the blue tarp on the roof!  Here’s the interior:

Portland House Collage

Photos via Windermere Steller/Scott Anthony

I make no claims on the neighborhood/location, but as far as the house goes.  Love.  Big full-heart love.  I mean yeah, it needs a lot of work.  But the built-ins, unpainted millwork, box-beams, clawfoot tub, wallpaper…it calls to me.   Loudly.  Kind of like an angel’s trumpet.  And at $204,900, it’s listed for about $95k below the Zestimate and $165k less than they foreclosed on it for earlier this year, so seems like it could be a good deal.

Why do you guys think?  Am I crazy?  Or does your heart swoon when you see a house like this too?




Someone Else’s Amazing Kitchen in Portland

I ran across this amazing kitchen via Jessica Helgerson Interior Design and I had to share it with you guys.  It has all my favorite elements: steel windows, wood beams, classic cabinets, and white for days.  And don’t even get me started on the brass lighting and floor tiles!  If we had a kitchen to renovate right now, this would definitely be my inspiration.

Jessica Helgerson-Alhambra Kitchen

Photo by Lincoln Barbour.

This gorgeous kitchen is in a 1926 Mediteranean-style condo building in Portland, OR.  Now I may be a little biased (I was born there), but it seems like they’ve got the best old buildings.  And breweries.  But that’s another story.

You can read more about the renovation here and check out Jessica Henderson’s other projects while you’re there.  You won’t be sorry!

What do you guys think?  Digging it?  Too Mediterranean for you?  Want to curl up on that bench?



p.s. One of my favorite bloggers has a new old house to renovate.  Can’t wait!!!

p.p.s. Sarah Jessica Parker’s real Manhattan townhouse.  It’s for sale!

p.p.p.s. Emma Watson on feminism.


A Peak Inside an Old Country Farmhouse


Last weekend we went on one of my favorite house tours ever.  Seriously!  And I’ve been on more house tours than I care to admit.  So what was so special about this one?  Let’s have a look and find out, shall we?

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse

This beautiful home was built at the turn of the century and even with some additions/alterations along the way, it feels relatively original.  Best features: the wrap-around porch, 10-foot ceilings, original millwork, two full baths, 3 bedrooms upstairs, hardwood floors, and a guest house.  Sure the house is a little rough around the edges, but if you know me at all, you’ll know that makes it even more enticing.

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse front door The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse fireplace The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse dining roomThe Grit and Polish - Farmhouse kitchen 2The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse bedroomThe Grit and Polish - Farmhouse backyard

Usually I would have developed a plan for the property by now and thought through an offer.  But honestly, I’m just not sure what we’d do with this house.  Sure it would pencil out as a rental or flip, but I’m not sure my heart could stand to part with the house if it were ever ours.  Unfortunately it’s located too far from Seattle for us to live here full time (insert tears here), and we’re not really ready for a vacation home.   So where does that leave us?  I suppose nowhere.  But that hasn’t kept me from dreaming about iced-tea on the porch, the pitter-patter of young feet on the hardwood floors, and impromptu picnics in the backyard.  Sappy much?  I know!

Let’s have one more look:

The Grit and Polish - Farmhouse Front




Someone Else’s Kitchen

I don’t usually do this, but I have to show you guys a kitchen that I ran across in The New York Times.  It took my breath away.  Literally.  And Garrett, who’s a little harder to impress, called it “ab-sol-ute-ly stunning”.  Honestly I’m having a love affair with the whole house and the beautiful article on it.  I found myself completely wrapped up in the family.  Author Penelope Green had me at “they were lovers of houses.”

So on to the kitchen.

New York Times kitchen photo by Bruce Buck Photo credit: Bruce Buck for The New York Times

Glorious, right?

It’s like that quote from the Sex and the City movie when Big and Carrie look at that amazing apartment and Carrie says, “So this is where they keep the light.”  Enough said, right?

Except I want to say more.  I mean those windows are the closest thing to Heaven I think I’ve ever seen!  Plus the cabinets and millwork are impeccable.  The lights and marble and stove are perfect and how about that courtyard view…!

One complaint I have about houses – yes, even old houses – is that there isn’t enough natural light.  Tall ceilings and an abundance of windows are probably the architectural features I look for most in a house.  But that’s a hard combination to find.  Why can’t more houses have walls of windows like this one?!

Anyway, enough of my rant.  Do yourself a favor and check out the article.  I think you’ll fall in love too!


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What I’m Loving About YOUR House: Winnie’s Nursery


I spend a lot of time talking about my house.  It’s always “me” this and “we” that.  Well it’s time for a change of pace.  Today, I’m going to show you a room in someone else’s house.  A very sweet, happy, beautiful, someone that just happen’s to be my niece.  The lovely, Miss Winnie.

Winnie in her Eclectic Feminine Nursery

Winnie just turned one on Monday.  And she is cute as a button, but that part is obvious.  I mean can we talk about that hair?!  Sooooo cute!  She lives in Portland (way too far away from her Auntie) with her parents, older brother Walter, and doggie Perdita.  Here are the details…

Winnie’s Tiny and Eclectic Nursery

  • Who: Winnie, 1
  • What: eclectic nursery in colonial house
  • Location: Southwest Hills, Portland OR
  • Size: House is~2500sf, Nursery is 86sf
  • House Built: 1926
  • House Remodeled: a few times, most recently 2013

I’m pretty obsessed with Winnie’s nursery.  It’s only 86 square feet, but jam packed with character.  Her mama decorated it almost exactly how I would have  if I had had a girl (hey, we’re twins after all).  A mix of patterns, lots of white, an unexpected color combination, and a mature but girly vibe.  One might call it “classy eclectic”.  Or maybe “natty bohemian”.  Either way, the room is simple, fun, and eclectic.  It’s comfy for an adult and fun for a kid.  A perfect space for Winnie bear.  And occasionally, when we come to visit on the weekends, she shares it with her younger-but-oh-so-much-more-wild cousin, Wilder.

Here’s what I’m loving about Winnie’s tiny, eclectic nursery:Sis and Winnie in her NurseryWinnies Nursery from hallwayWinnie and Wilder in Winnies NurseryWinnies ClosetWinnies Nursery Toy Basket from Serena and LilyWinnies Closet 2Winnies Nursery Basket

 Wall Paint: BM Simply White | Trim: Matched to original | Rug: Pottery Barn (similar to this one) | Glider and Ottoman: Land of Nod | Changing Table: Pottery Barn | Crib: Pottery Barn | Dresser Knobs: Anthropologie | Baskets: Serena and Lily | Bedding: Land of Nod | Stool: Vintage | Artwork: Vintage | Ceiling Light: Rejuvenation | Curtain Fabric: Serena and Lily 

Let me just boast that my sister made those beautiful curtains.  I know!   And where to start with that rug?  I’m head over heels for it.  I tried to get my sister to give it to me before Winnie was born, but she wouldn’t budge.

The closet is one of my favorite elements in this room.  It’s tiny and completely impractical for anyone with more than a 3-year-old’s wardrobe, but it’s just so quaint and sweet, I love it.  Truth be told, I could say the exact same thing about the entire room – so quaint and sweet.  Sometimes rooms are just better small.

I asked my sis a few questions about Winnie’s tiny nursery.  Here’s what she said:

What is your design inspiration for this room?

I wanted Winnie’s nursery to be light, bright, and feminine, but not too girly pink.  A space I wanted to be in yet felt right for a baby girl.  I added reddish-orange accents to toughen up the pink a bit.  And then I layered interesting colors and patterns for my baby girl to look at when she is supposed to be sleeping.

What’s your favorite element in the room?

The rug.  Every day when I walk by the room, I look at the rug and give myself a mental pat on the back.  I mean, how great is that rug?  I still can’t believe I found it and for such a great price!  It’s a Pottery Barn Kilm rug that I picked up on clearance when I had one of those 15% off any item coupon emails sitting in my in-box, so I got it for a steal.  The only size left was a 5×8′, but since the room is so small, it worked perfectly.  It feels feminine without being girly.  I can stare at it for hours-and I have.

Winnie would probably say her favorite element is her bed.  She sleeps really well in there.  It’s nice and cozy for her.  She likes to stand up and yell at the door from above the railing after nap time until mama comes to get her.  It’s adorable.

How do you use this room?

When Winnie was younger, there was a lot of time spent nursing in that rocker by the window.  But now we use the room mostly for sleep and afternoon story time.  If we have some free time after nap, Walter, Winnie, and I snuggle up in the chair and read through a few books that Walter picks out of the book basket.  At that time of day, the sun streams through the old leaded glass window and makes that corner the best place to be in the house.  Winnie usually only makes it through a couple of books before she loses interest and starts watching the birds in the trees outside the window.

What do you want others to feel when they come into this room?

Envy.  No, I’m just joking.  I want people to get a sense of who Winnie is by looking at this space.  So it’s a happy, welcoming, and fun space.  The room is really small, so it took a little work to achieve that.  Between furniture layout, window treatments, and paint, I maximized the efficiecy of the space and kept it feeling light and bright.  I think the small size is a real plus to how cute the room is.  Nurseries don’t need to be big to be functional.   I mean, babies are tiny creatures.  A changing table, a crib, a rocker, and somewhere to put a few books, and you’re set.

Who’s your favorite designer?

Sarah Richardson!  I really love the way she mixes patterns and uses unexpected color pallets.

Is there anything else you want others to know about this room?  Any fun stories or design elements or uniqueness you want to share?

This room has always been a nursery for us.  It was Walter’s nursery before it was Winnie’s.  It is only steps from the master bedroom, so it is in the perfect place for those frequent nighttime nursing sessions.  When we originally designed our addition/remodel, we thought the nursery would be turned into the master closet, but our architect was able to save it.  And now, our master closet is the same size as the nursery.  It is a happy space for my happy baby, who is no longer a baby.

I promised myself after having Walter, and realizing how much time you spend in it with a new baby, that I would get a proper rocker and ottoman.  And it’s the best decision I ever made.  It’s really comfortable.  I’ve fallen asleep more times then I can count in that chair with a sleeping Winnie in my arms.  Plus Winnie has puked all over it and it’s cleaned right up.  It’s a nice size too.  It fits one mama, 1 three-year-old boy and 1 baby just perfectly!

That’s it for other people’s houses, at least for now.  I’ll be back on Thursday with something about me and oh so self absorbed.  In the meantime, I want to wish Winnie bear a very, very happy first birthday.  Auntie Sis loves you sooooo much!


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