We completed this Wauwatosa bathroom moments before guests arrived from Argentina!

Since this was a newly married couple in their first home, this project began with a tight budget.  If, however, this is possibly your “forever home” and your main bathroom, you might just find yourself adding to the wish list and stretching that budget. In this case, we upgraded from man-made tile to natural travertine marble for both the floor and the field tile over the soaking tub. The difference is dramatic.

We also splurged on a deeper, more narrow soaking tub which allowed enough room to face the side with carrara marble and top it with a profiled barnes and partial deck. The look is pure sophistication.  The wish list included a handheld shower in addition to the tub faucet and shower head. Cost was kept minimal by mounting the handheld up high enough to serve as the shower head for now.

Lastly, my client favored the look of antique pine over less-expensive his/her pedestal sinks, so we custom retrofit the base of an antique pine hutch for a drop-in sink and finished the look with a small antique pine storage bench for bath toys. Old medicine cabinets were removed to the right and left of the sink and drywalled as niches with drop-in travertine shelves.

Lastly, we replaced the small original mirror with one that both balances the space and ties in with the antique sink cabinet. Everything is updated and upscale. Just in time for the next guest – a baby boy!




August usually offers a bit of a pause for French Country as most clients are either traveling, preparing for the school year or enjoying an end of summer vacation up north. Not this year. If you have stopped by the shop lately, you have either been received by my assistant or found a note on the door.  French Country is happily in the midst of a full two-story house remodel in Brookfield, a kitchen remodel in Shorewood, two bathroom remodels in Wauwatosa and three interior design projects. I have never been more thankful for such a devoted team of professional craftsmen who can plan and balance multiple jobs at once.  A special thanks to Scott, Elaine and my husband. I could not have juggled it all without your positive enthusiasm and hard work.

As if that wasn’t enough to keep us all moving, we sent off one of our own daughters to Smith College this week and flew up to Red Lodge Montana for a wedding & reunion where cowboy boots are formal wear, real men can get away with carrying a parasol, and guests are greeted by a baby bull.

This is French Country living at its finest.





While I would say that I personally do not have a favorite color, I  recognize that I am drawn to using my own interpretation of French Blue Gray as a starting base for numerous projects.  I find it to be a soothing neutral that is both aqueous and celestial. Something in the element of this color brings me to the inner essence of stillness as if floating. It acts as a balm to counter the erratic sounds and movements within the day. bird

Blue comes from the Old French “Bhle” which actually means light colored. I find this amusing seeing as all the French reproduction pieces from the furniture industry are white washed. The name “French Blue” first came into use in 1802 and actually refers to a deep azure color associated in the heraldry of French kings.

hardwareI prefer a gray interpretation of French Blue and find that Farrow and Ball of England has mastered the color with a splendid sweep of gray to blue to soft green. Try their Mizzle, French Gray, Blue Gray and Pigeon. Benjamin Moore offers White Whisp, Gray Lake and Gray Cashmere. Remember, if you love the color but it feels too dark, ask your local paint supply store such as Steinkellners on North Ave to mix it ¾ or ½ strength for you. Play with a few shades on the wall and live with them from full sun to full shade and see how they affect your mood.

 Where you put this quiet color is a personal preference. I have been using it everywhere but walls including doors and built-ins and loving the look as it plays off of an antique burlwood, pecan orwicker 19th century pine.  I am currently using it on our newest kitchen display in the shop paired with a gold wash, a touch of umber and a brown bee wax finish. Remember to sign up for eblasts and I will send you a picture of the finished display – or stop in to visit on a Friday or Saturday. I am sporadically in the shop Tuesday through Thursday now that we have started the Brookfield remodel job which includes kitchen, bathroom, library, living room, mudroom, garden room, game room and den. The design will be a white on white palette but I can already tell you that all of the interior doors will be FRENCH BLUE and our artwork in shades of azure.




bathroomIf you are planning a small bathroom which lacks natural light, embrace the masculine and employ dark, rich tones rather than try and fool the eye with all white on white. The truth is, you can’t fool the eye. Small is small and dark is dark but neither has to be a negative. Small can feel sheltered and dark can feel tranquil and quiet. Sounds like a great place for a long, hot bubble bath after a long work day.

In this bathroom, I created an arched niche under the stairs and wrapped an undermount tubsink in marble tiles. The tiles were less expensive than a solid stone top and side. Gold grass wallpaper was hung and reflects what little light is available and plays off the camel tones with the drapery, artwork and accessories. The gold branch sconce lights were used throughout the home for continuity and add an organic element to the room.

Seeing as I was limited in space for the sink (a pedestal would have been the usual choice but I don’t think along those lines), I scoured every antique shop I knew from here to Chicago and discovered an antique marble top with the most beautiful scalloped edging that just needed a good cleaning. I also procured a large Italian gold leaf wall sconce which serves as the base of the sink (once we drilled holes in it and found a way to mount it securely), a gold leaf mirror altered to accommodate the wall faucet and an old gold sink bowl. Certainly not your Home Depot bathroom.  

This one is pure French Country – Kirsten style.

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