• Reem Hassaballa

Updated: Jun 13

When I first set out to find some seating for my front porch, I knew I wanted something to withstand the harsh winters here in Chicago. Not only that, I wanted it to greet people upon walking up to the front door. I want them to be impressed and have it set the tone for the rest of my house. So, I decided to reach out to Serena & Lily** and they helped me get the Pacifica bench in driftwood.

**This blog post is sponsored by Serena & Lily

I knew the color would be timeless and stunning against my white brick. The Pacifica bench is made out of classic wicker with outdoor-friendly materials. According to Serena & Lily it is made out of an all-weather resin, expertly woven that lends to the look of woven rattan. The color tone is a sunbleached driftwood, which honestly reminds me of the cafes in Paris. As you know, my husband and I traveled to Paris several times and I am always looking for timeless pieces that remind me of Paris, yet have a coastal feel and Serena & Lily pieces are so well known for this! In addition, their quality just cannot be beat! I topped the Pacifica bench with a few of my favorite Serena & Lily throw pillows. I love that they also sell the cushion for this bench as well. That is something that is one my wish list.

In addition to this Pacifica bench, I also added 3 outdoor Riviera swivel barstools to our grill area and they are stunningly beautiful and I could not believe how heavy and sturdy they are. Think Serena & Lily's signature French inspired bistro design in an outdoor stool...ummm, yes please. Once again, that touch of Paris is just everything to me. These are the highest quality resin and while there may be copycats out there, the quality on these from Serena & Lily are so evident. They do not tip over and have the same gorgeous driftwood tone that I love.

The powdercoated aluminum frame is to withstand our harsh winters here in Chicago, and our rainy Spring. The woven wicker repels water, resists mildew (I've had this on some outdoor furniture, trust me, not fun) and stand up to extreme heat (we have west side exposure in the back by our pool, so this is so important). I have some items that are not from Serena & Lily outside and they have been fading, and they look horrible. I cannot wait to have my entire backyard set up with Serena & Lily items!

These stools are just so functional, as they are beautiful. I do not want to be switching out my outdoor pieces every year because they did not make it through the winter, so I know that the Serena & Lily quality will last me for years and years. And lastly, these cute Palisades chairs in natural have been so fun next to my pool. We move them around tirelessly and they add the perfect fun touch to our backyard pool oasis!

I hope this inspires you to freshen up your outdoor space!

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  • Reem Hassaballa

Last week my friends and I set out to create a stylish baby shower for our friend. We thought my pool would be the absolute perfect setting and it turned out so good, I thought I had to share the details. I knew I wanted a table for eating, so here was my opportunity to create a special moment. I have wood chairs that I use for special occasions and extra seating, so I started with these. I knew it would be super fun to add something to the back, so I added a simple burlap knot with some felt flowers. These flowers will be used again and again, I am sure for other occasions, so they are not a waste. I also added used cute cutlery and disposable plates from Amazon. Above the table we added some paper lanterns to make it more festive. The most surprising thing I did, perhaps, is adding a vintage rug below the table. I had this vintage rug sitting outside and it created a beautiful focal point for the table and made this area feel super special. Don't be afraid to try things outside the norm. I did just this and it turned out so beautiful!

I hope this encourages you to think a little outside the box for your next party!!!

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  • Reem Hassaballa

I have never been more excited about a project. This small project is something that I have always wanted to do. For 5 years now I have dreamt of having a gorgeous brick wall inspired by the Costwolds cottage homes that we visited 3 years ago. It was village that basically has stopped in time and is uninterrupted by the modern architecture of today. I felt like I was in a fairy tail when we visited and since my home is on the older side (100 years old), it fits this aesthetic perfectly.

an inspiration photo from Devol kitchens

I wanted open shelving backed by a gorgeous wall of Moroccan brick tile. When I first discovered this Zellige tile from Riad Tile, I wasn't sure if I was going to put it around my main range wall or here in the butler's pantry. Since we did not know if we will be doing further updates in the kitchen, I decided to go with the Butler's pantry. This gorgeous handmade clay tile has special characteristics that make each tile unique and individual. It is truly one of a kind. I received the 2x6 tile in the color Snow.

The first thing my contractor did was remove the upper cabinetry. Let's take a look at the before... At first I was not sure if I was going to remove the upper cabinets, but as soon as I received this tile from Riad tile, I knew it deserved it's own uninterrupted wall of tile from counter to ceiling. It deserves it. I was going for a European look and the cabinets would continue to bother me if I kept them in place, so down they came!

BEFORE: Pretty, but not functional for our family

When I first thought of redoing this area, the first thing I wanted to toss this weird sink. I did not know what this thing was made of when we first moved in. It always looked dirty so I started doing some research online and the middle line dividing the two sinks was quite unique. It was a squiggly line. I researched and researched online until I found the sink. Lo and behold, I found out it was a real silver sink retailing at about $5-6K. Because our home is older it is definitely a vintage piece and definitely a keeper. I thank God that I did not make a rash decision and toss this beauty to the curb.

This sink now makes sense with the addition of the tile. The whole area looks like it was meant to be, like it is from a home in the Cotswolds and that is the feel I wanted this space to have-a European vintage feel. My vision came to life, as soon as the tile was grouted.

Vintage silver sink

As my contractor was laying the tile, I started to become nervous, but I forgot that tile looks so different without grout. You must wait for the grout, you must! As the tile went up, huge sighs of relief started to really help my anxiety. I knew it was going to look amazing and my vision was being realized.

I told my contractor that I did not want any trim around the window. He removed it. He then asked me if I wanted the edges to be mitered or painted a similar color to the tile. I am so glad that I told him to miter the edges. This is a painstaking process that must be done by a professional or somebody very skilled in tiling.

mitered edge detail

After the wall of tile was completed, they were ready to grout the tile the next day. Then, he came back one week later to install the white oak shelves. I told him the thickness that I wanted as did I the length.

He brought the shelving and put a coat of poly on them on-site. Then he hung them into the studs. As the first one went up, I sighed a huge sigh of relief. Nailed it. This is exactly what I wanted. I was so happy I stuck with a light white oak. What I love about the opens shelving versus the glass cabinetry is that they serve as function and beauty. I can place our white dishes on one side and I can have a coffee station on the other side within easy reach.

I chose 2 simple picture lights to hang above each set of shelves on each side. These are the Ridgewood picture lights from Hudson Valley Lighting #sponsored. I chose the brass and I love the way they look against the zellige tile wall. I also, I planned to put art on the upper shelf, so it will serve as a great spotlight!

White dishes, cookbooks on one side
A coffee station on the other side

I hope this inspires you to remove some upper cabinetry and get creative. Do not be afraid to think outside the box/cabinet (no pun intended). I know I don't live in the Cotswolds, but at least I can pretend to everyday as I use this space. It seriously takes me to that world instantly. Happy renovating!

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