• 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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  • Reem Hassaballa

Do you have to gasp for air every time you are cooking and cannot find that lemon pepper? Or, do you hate looking for a sponge under the kitchen sink? Well, I have been moving along with my determination to get organized this January. The next area I really needed to tackle was my kitchen. Two areas that gave me complete anxiety were my spice and under the sink cabinets. I set out to tackle that spice tornado first. Every time I cook, I find myself fumbling the spices and trying to get to the back of the twilight zone of spices to reach the cumin or the paprika. Enough was enough. Let's take a look at how this space looked first. You can see why it was nearly impossible to find that container of sumac!

I knew there had to be an easier way. I never liked the ready made spice jars that came with spices because I knew I had big quantities of some items, while others I didn't need that much. So, I hopped on Amazon and I couldn't believe how many options they have nowadays. In addition to function I wanted something stylish (of course). So, I found some clear glass jars with bamboo lids and I was sold. I immediately put them in my cart. I even found ready made labels that are chic, simple, and modern...in the cart they went too.

Here are the items I used.

I had an empty drawer sitting next to my range and I knew these should be in the drawer! So, I anxiously awaited my Amazon delivery and got busy....then, BOOM.

I have never been more excited about spices in my life!!! What the what? Where have I been! Seriously, I highly recommend this little activity. It will change your life. Below are all the items I bought from Amazon and the container store.

Look at everything that I will be tossing...

Ahhhh, I feel so much better now! Now I can find everything and if I really wanted to go the extra mile, I can alphabetize these too, or that would be a fun activity for my kids!

The next spot that seriously gave me anxiety was under the kitchen sink! Whenever I would need a sponge, or some cleaning supplies, I found my hands lost in another dark hole! Well, it was time to tackle this once and for all. I went to the Container Store to get some ideas. I did not want to spend too much, so I really thought about what I needed. I thought it would be so helpful to have something like a lazy-susan to have my cleaning supplies on so they don't get lost in the back of the cabinet. Next, I wanted to elevate one portion of under the cabinet so that I can double up on storage space. Then, I also wanted to line the bottom of the cabinet so that if a solutions spills, it doesn't ruin the wood. It also serves as a very clean looking bottom and it is easily wipable. Let's take a look.....



This may not look like a huge change, but believe me, it has made my life a whole lot easier! Little changes like this can make a big difference in your life. Trust me, now I love using my spices. I hope this inspires you to clean/organize just one drawer or cabinet in your home!

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  • Reem Hassaballa

One of the hardest things that I find to style is a shelf. But, over the years, I have learned that less is sometimes more. If you carefully choose what to place on a shelf, it should be much easier on the eye and draw your viewer in. I set out to declutter and refresh my living room shelves. Rather than completely clearing the shelves, I looked at the shelves and knew that I had to divide these up somehow. So, what I did is visually divide each section into two. It's much easier to work with a smaller section. I chose 1-3 items to place in each section. In this case, the stack of books I have counted as (one) item. Once I did that, I started removing things and editing until my mind felt at ease. I immediately knew I wanted


the shelves to be mostly neutral and maybe have a pop of color. So, I flipped the books over so that the pages show rather than the binding. Once I flipped all the books over, I started choosing items that are meaningful and work well together, leaving 2-3 items per shelf.


I kept editing, stepping back and I kept working. I even took photos over and over. I find that looking through the lens helps you see things differently than with your naked eye. Every time I would remove another item, I would hesitate, but once I did, the shelves looked so much better. I left areas that are void of anything and this is okay. I always tell my clients that you do not have to fill every wall or every inch on a shelf. Our homes need room to breathe. This process took a few days of revisiting, but at the end, I felt like I had accomplished a much more decluttered look, and simplicity is what I am craving during this New Year!



Now, let's talk about some must haves for your shelves... Books, are the number one thing you must have. I love mixing books with other items. I love mixing vintage or faux vintage pots, knots, vases, candlesticks, and vintage art. Some paper mache' bowls add texture, or baskets work well too. In my living room, I opted not to add baskets because I wanted it to feel very artistic and sculptural. I have linked some of the items that worked really well on my shelves for you below and some things that can really look beautiful on your shelves.


I hope this gave you some inspiration to freshen up your shelves or any little space or corner of your home. Just start somewhere and you will be so happy with the outcome!

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