If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen!

by Lauren Setum

I wanted to share this kitchen, featured on the House Beautiful website, because it’s the second time it’s caught my eye. During the winter, you’ll regularly find my friend Val and me roasting marshmallows for s’mores over gas burners on the stove. I think I found the perfect solution to our makeshift method for making that dessert…

01-hbx-rustic-sleek-kitchen-0214-de Continue reading

Choosing a Color Scheme

by Lauren Setum

Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared design ideas for spaces in my friend’s new home. Today, I thought I’d post a summary, so to speak, of all the selections. The paint colors for each room are below. Notice that not only do they work in their respective spaces, but they also go well together as a group.

paint scheme

When possible, I usually lean towards choosing fabrics and finishes before a paint color. Sometimes, however, that’s just not possible (i.e. when you’re moving into a new home and want to get the painting done first). In that case, make sure that your colors work together to create a nice scheme. A solid scheme will inform and set the stage for future design choices that you’ll make for your home.

A recap of the Living RoomKitchen, and Master Bedroom designs…




Balancing Act

by Lauren Setum

Well, you’ve seen design ideas for the KitchenDining RoomMaster Bedroom and Guest Bedroom in my friend’s new home. Last, but not least, is the Living Room. The paint color for this space is…

sweet rosy brown

Sweet Rosy Brown by Benjamin Moore

As you can see in the space plan below, the Living Room is long and narrow, but by strategically placing furniture of the correct size, cozy conversation areas and reading nooks emerge. You’ll notice that the area rug is labeled as a 10′ x 14′. It’s important that the rug not be smaller. Smaller rug = smaller feeling space. The two lounge chairs across from the sofa are placed in front of the large window for a reason. If you want to see an interior designer cringe, place a large sofa in front of a window (CRINGE!). The chairs are more appropriate for this spot because they feel lighter in comparison to one big sofa. A sofa would make the window feel blocked off; we want to welcome the light in! Finally, end tables are drawn in at just the right size: not too small, not too big.


Now, let’s talk about focal points in the room and how they should be addressed. You probably noticed on the plan that the fireplace is tucked into one end of the room. While it should remain a charming architectural detail, it’s important that, in the interest of visual balance, not everything be directed toward just this one end of the space. First, let’s focus on how to include the fireplace as a focal point.


The photo above (walls are awaiting their new paint color!) gives you an idea of the fireplace’s existing brick. You can also see that there is an existing mantle. Instead of a single piece of art above the mantle, I’d suggest a look like (one row of) this…


It’s a great way to showcase special photographs. The layered look of these photos suggests that they’ve been acquired over time and  that there’s a real history to the home and the people who live there (which is true!). I’d also recommend replacing the chandelier you see in the Living Room photo with this spotlight fixture from Home Depot. The placement of the existing chandelier is a little awkward; this spotlight, mounted on the ceiling, would allow the photographs to shine. (Tip: when purchasing a fixture that’s meant solely for highlighting other elements in a room, try to match the ceiling color as closely as possible; no need for a big dark blob on a white-ish ceiling!)

Then, to complete the fireplace area, add a small lounge chair as seen on the plan. Notice that whichever way you look at it, whether from the kitchen or from the other end of the Living Room, you see a lovely composition at the fireplace. Plus, what a great spot to curl up and read a book!

Now for the other end of the Living Room. The wall opposite the fireplace needs some attention so that the space won’t feel visually lopsided. My idea, as seen in the elevation drawing below, involves a credenza and a few key accessories. First off, the homeowners would want to keep an eye out for a mid-century credenza that’s about 5 feet wide; vintage shops, like findfurnish in Northeast Minneapolis, are great places to find such treasures. The floating bookshelves from The Container Store designate a place for reading materials and create a great asymmetrical look on this wall (necessary because the doorway to the dining room is to the left and restricts any kind of wall hanging that projects). A large scale piece of art and 30 inch high lamp complete the look. Oh, and don’t forget these gold trays from West Elm; they allow the credenza to be turned into a great little bar at a moment’s notice!


And, of course, materials and finishes…


1) Sofa Fabric: This color did not work well the way the previous homeowners used it, as an accent wall. Toss this fabric from Pollock on a sofa though, and you have one fabulous pop of color!

2 & 3) Sofa pillow fabrics: A little pattern (Schumacher) and a texture (Pollock) with just the right colors can work wonders.

4) Ceramic art above sofa: Kimberlee Joy Roth is a Minneapolis-based ceramic artist. The piece shown on the board above is lovely, though I’d recommend going with one of her blue finishes. Check out the fabulous installations you can do with her art here.

5) Side table: You’ll notice on the floor plan that I’ve placed a small end table between the two lounge chairs. I love this one from Ballard Designs for that spot.

6) Lounge chairs: I found this pair of chairs (there are actually two of them) at findfurnish in Minneapolis. The shape of the chairs is absolutely perfect for this home.

7) Fabric for Lounge Chairs: The lounge chairs are indeed wonderful, but they definitely need to be reupholstered. This fabric from Schumacher does a fantastic job of picking up on the blue color seen here in the Living Room and throughout the rest of the home.

8) Pillow fabric: Repeating the red color on the chairs with some pillows using this Schumacher fabric.

9) Art for over the credenza: I’d shown some art placed above the credenza in the elevation drawing. A couple things that I feel are important: a) The colors; love that this piece has red, blue and gold tones. b) The subject matter isn’t too serious. While I love that this space is moody and almost a little dramatic, I think it’s important that the tone not be overly serious. The homeowners are young, vibrant people, and their space should reflect that. This artwork is fun and unexpected, but it still works.

And the all important rug, shown at the bottom of the board. This beauty is from Dash & Albert.

Don’t Be That Person!

by Lauren Setum

So far, for the Master Bedroom and Kitchen designs I’ve shared, the paint colors have been on the lighter end of the spectrum. Still, if you read through the posts, it’s all about balance, and there were some darker elements (furniture, rugs, etc.) incorporated into both of those spaces. Today, I’m revealing the (darker) paint color for the Guest Bedroom. It is…


Newburg Green by Benjamin Moore

Before I delve into the design selections for the space, I’m taking today to share some lovely Pinterest pins that feature this fabulous color. Too often, homeowners look at deeper colors like this and shy away. Don’t be that person! Yes, it’s a bolder color choice, but when a space is executed correctly, the color is just part of a larger composition. I mean, how beautiful are these spaces?! The color is just one part of the rooms, and look how well they turned out…



Seamless Shimmer

by Lauren Setum

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve shared design ideas for the Master Bedroom and Kitchen (complete with a custom cabinet) in a friend’s new home. From those posts, you might have gathered that the dining room is semi-open to the kitchen. This means that whatever is done in the dining room will need to acknowledge and flow seamlessly from the kitchen.


The Dining Room (and staircase to the basement) is just behind this (in progress) wall. Goodbye, green!

That being said, the existing layout infers that the Dining Room is still a ‘special place’. It is a destination; the area in which guests will dine and the homeowners will entertain. The design of the space should convey this. So, with that in mind, I present you with this shimmery Schumacher wall covering. Oooo…Ahhh…


The wall covering in this colorway works with the Kitchen paint color but still serves to distinguish the dining area as a separate destination. The shimmery design would read as more of a texture than a pattern so it would provide a nice backdrop for other wall hangings without stealing the show. Plus, my friend had pointed out to me that she liked the subtle gold shimmer in curtains that the old homeowners had left behind; this wall covering speaks to that aesthetic preference. Check out the other fabulous colorways that this wall covering comes in…




The Common Denominator

Ask someone to do a guest blog post, and you shall receive! Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Shannon. I’m convinced that she should probably open her own restaurant someday, and by the end of today’s post, I think you’ll agree. Now, I know. It’s true; there are a lot of people out there who post pictures of their run-of-the-mill meals to social media sites. Shannon’s posts, on the other hand, have me contemplating just how tacky it would really be to invite myself to her Chicago home for dinner. Just kidding. Sort of! Many thanks to Shannon for sharing her secret to Mushroom and Sundried Tomato Ravioli with Parmesan-Thyme Cream Sauce. Oh, and a rose cake, too. Yum…


by Shannon Daggett

New Year’s is all about celebrating the successes of the year, remembering the failures, and using both to propel you into a brighter year. We all find our own ways to celebrate; some quiet, some raucous, but the common denominator between it all is love. We surround ourselves with people we love and cherish the time we have together. We relish the moment. As I have experienced over the year, things can slip away at any moment, so don’t be hesitant to show your love. We all have our own love language; food is mine. Cooking is my passion and using it to make people happy is the most heartfelt way I can show my family and friends they are loved. New Year’s Eve dinner is the present between the past and future, and so I believe that each year should begin and end with a fulfilling meal made from the heart. Be fed with love.

There are five key components of a New Year’s Eve dinner that build the foundation for a bright year: vegetables, for health; carbohydrates, for practicality; protein, for restoration; dairy, to give you strength; and lastly, sugar, to remind you that life is sweet. My NYE was a small gathering among friends. When you are having dinner with a vegetarian, a meat lover, and an anti-pork person (hard to fathom, I know), the key is to find the common denominator. Well, everyone loves pasta. And who doesn’t love freshly made ravioli? Plus, I get my carb requirement in. Now, what to fill it with? Meat is out of the question, and butternut squash seemed a good alternative at first glance, but the carnivore might be scared off.  Back to the drawing board. A few weeks ago I catered a friend’s housewarming party and one of the hottest dishes there was my mushroom crostini. I figured, why not take the mushroom spread, add some cheese, and use it as filling? Vegetable requirement, done. I’m much more a fan of cream sauces than red sauces, and a nice rich, cream sauce would exquisitely compliment the mushroom filling. And, the dairy component! Now, a good pasta dish always has a little meat in it, and you can never go wrong with Italian sausage thrown in just before serving, for those who want it. So there you have it, the protein component wraps up the main dish. I would be serving Mushroom and Sundried Tomato Ravioli with Parmesan-Thyme Cream Sauce.

Lest we not forget the sugar component. My best friend had been asking me for months to make rose-flavored cake. I didn’t jump on the request because, after sampling some rose-flavored ice cream, I was not totally turned on to the taste. But, somehow in recent weeks the use of the phrase “rose-flavored cake” had exponentially increased in our conversations, so I figured, I might as well make this to be a good memory for her year, and let’s be real, to get it out of the way.

All of the cooking had to be done in one afternoon, so timing and sequence was of the essence, as it always is. While I was cooking but not hosting dinner, I wanted to do most of the prep work in the comfort of my own kitchen. This meant having everything as staged as possible prior to leaving the house.


First, to bake the rose cake, which will allow time to cool before frosting and assembling. The otherwise simple white cake batter contains a hint of rose water. For baking cakes, I am a proponent of using Springform pans. No, they are not just for cheesecake! Using these pans for cakes will allow you to easily remove it and transfer it to your assembly platter. In addition, buttering and lining the bottom with parchment paper will minimize those pesky pieces that get stuck to the bottom of the pan, which albeit are a delicious excuse for taste tasting, but they tend to ruin the evenness of your final product.




While the cakes are baking, this is the perfect time to make the mushroom filling. Since the filling is quick to make and can be left at room temperature for a few hours and not lose moistness, it is best to make this before you get into the thick of things. The filling includes three types of mushrooms: white button, cremini, and shiitake. These are all roughly chopped (no need for very small pieces as they will have a run-in with the food processor a little later) then sautéed in olive oil.


While the mushrooms are sautéing, the garlic, parsley, thyme, and rosemary can be chopped.


Once the mushrooms are lightly browned, the garlic and herbs can be added. No need to worry if there is still water in the pan from the mushrooms, the additions will soak that right up.


After a few minutes, it’s time to remove the mixture and run it through the food processor, adding more olive oil until it reaches a filling-like consistency.


Once you’ve got your basic filling, add the Parmesan cheese and a little punch – finely chopped oil-packed sun dried tomatoes.



Once that is all processed, the filling is complete and can be set aside. Time to remove the cakes from the oven!


The cakes are a nice, golden brown and need to be set side until they are completely cool. Because there wasn’t adequate time to allow the eggs to come to room temperature prior to mixing the batter, they didn’t blend well with the rest of the ingredients, causing the centers to fall. Not a big deal, this hiccup will be addressed upon assembly.





Onto the pasta dough. Tradition says to place your flour on the counter, make a well in the center, and add your eggs. In my experience, that just leads to eggs running all about your counter and a lot of crusty residue that you are left trying to scrape off. So, a simple solution is to place your flour in a bowl, make a well, and add your eggs.


Once all of your eggs are in the well, carefully whisk them until blended, then gradually bring the flour into the center until there is a nice dough. If the dough is dry, I add another egg. Of course, if it is too wet, more flour can be added. After the dough is formed, it needs to be kneaded until it is soft, pliable, and elastic. This will take at least ten minutes, and continually wetting your fingertips with water as you go will actually help prevent the dough from sticking to you and will make the kneading easier.

My pasta maker is one of my most loved kitchen tools. You definitely develop an appreciation for it after you’ve spent years rolling pasta dough solely with a rolling pin. To make ravioli, the dough needs to be slowly worked into thin, wide sheets. The ball of pasta needs to remain covered under plastic wrap as you work with it in sections, to prevent it from drying out. As you go along, the dough will become easier to work with as it sits at room temperature. If time allows, it’s helpful to let the dough sit for 20-30 minutes prior to rolling.

pasta machine


While I do have the ravioli attachment for my pasta maker, I find it cumbersome. I am old fashioned in some ways and appreciate the basics, therefore when making ravioli I use my hand roller. (On a related note, I only recently caved into buying a KitchenAid stand mixer; for years I insisted that I preferred my hand mixer. Now I am in love with it; it is kind of like having a sous chef in my kitchen. So, if history says anything, in a year or two I may be on to my ravioli attachment. Some things just take time.) The tool rolls over the sheet of pasta, creating squares for the filling to be centered on.


Once the filling is on the bottom sheet, the top sheet can be placed over it and the perimeter pinched shut. Then the tool is lined up and rolled over it all, sealing the ravioli sections. Using a pastry wheel, the squares can be cut into individual raviolis, transferred to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and covered with plastic wrap (simply to stage them until it is time to boil).






Two ravioli-lined baking sheets later, it’s time to revisit the rose cake. Remember the settling the centers did? This needs to be addressed, as otherwise the potential for the cake to cave in upon assembly is too great. So, there are two options. One, use a cake leveler to even it all out, but then you get so much less cake. Or two, fill the void with something. I chose rose petals. First the frosting needs to be made – buttercream infused with rose water. Then I placed the bottom layer of the cake right-side up, frosted, and filled with petals, then placed the top layer top-side down to cap the petals. Now I’ve got a solid cake, with no air gap in the middle for heavy frosting to weigh down on – and a beautiful center.

sm rose

After placing the top layer, the crumb layer of frosting needs to go on, then the cake should be placed in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set.


When ready, put the final layer of frosting on. I smoothed the sides with a fondant smoother, then placed rose petals all over the cake to give it the finishing touches.


The cake is now complete, and I’ve done everything I can in my kitchen. Time to go see my very hungry friends and finish up this NYE dinner. All I need to do is make the cream sauce, cook the sausage, and boil the pasta.


To make the cream sauce, thyme and rosemary is just sautéed in butter, then cream is added. When you start the sauce, throw a few Italian sausages into boiling water to cook the centers, then remove and finish in the pan to give the skins a nice finish.




While the sauce is cooking, throw the ravioli into boiling water, remove and keep covered until the sauce is ready.


Once thickened a little bit, add some Parmesan. The nice thing about cream sauce is that, not only is it quick to make, but you can also add more cream and cheese as necessary if you feel like you need more sauce.




Once the sauce has reached your desired consistency, you are ready to serve! Top with more Parmesan, of course. After starting the whole process at about 2:30pm and journeying through a snow storm, we finally sat down to dinner at around 10:30pm. We squeezed in one final meal in 2013 and transitioned into 2014 with satisfied bellies and warm hearts.



We were all much too full after dinner to even think about dessert, so the rose cake was eaten on New Year’s Day. Sometimes the sweetest things in life are worth waiting for.


Let’s Get Cookin’

by Lauren Setum

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone is enjoying 2014 thus far. Today, Salt & Pippa is kicking off the new year with a kitchen design. You might remember the Master Bedroom design I posted last month; this kitchen is in the same home and in need of a little updating. Let’s start with the paint color my friend and I selected for the space. It is…



Sundial by Benjamin Moore

We chose this color for a couple of reasons. First, there is an existing, exposed brick wall in the kitchen. Since it will be staying, the color needed to embrace and compliment it. Second, my friend wanted the space to feel a little more open and fresh. A lighter color selection does the trick. Finally, this color works perfectly with the Living Room paint color (to be debuted in an upcoming post). Since the Living Room is right off the kitchen, this was a must.

Now on to the space plan. The two floor plans below are essentially the same, as existing cabinetry will be refinished rather than replaced (for the most part…keep reading!). There was some deliberation as to where the refrigerator should go, but in the end, I think it’s best to leave it where it originally was; this is what’s shown on the plans. Though the doors will partially block the doorway to the living room when open, traffic flow disruption will be minimal since the fridge isn’t left open for long periods of time. Plus, you can also enter the space through the dining room, which is on the other side of the wall with the refrigerator and stove.

You’ll also notice that there is a free-standing custom cabinet drawn in on the plan to the right of the dishwasher. This piece gives the homeowners extra storage space…a welcome addition to smaller kitchens! Not only is the piece functional, but it’s also aesthetically pleasing. Who doesn’t love to gaze at an original piece of furniture?! It’s placement in the space is quite intentional as it is what you see when looking into the kitchen from the dining room; definitely important that this be considered when space planning.

Last but not least, the large window at the end of the room offers a lovely view of the back yard. Unfortunately, the low sill height prevents any sort of built-in breakfast nook. But never fear, there are still options for seating!

OPTION 1: An upholstered lounge chair and small side table offers a place to perch and enjoy a cup of coffee.



OPTION 2: A custom table with butcher block top would offer additional workspace when needed but could also double as an informal dining area for quick meals.


Moving on to material and finish selections…


Rug: This runner from Surya fits the bill for multiple reasons. Besides fitting into the aesthetic concept my friend and I discussed, it is also functional for a kitchen. Since it’s a flat weave rug, it will be easy to simply take outside and ‘shake out’ when needed; no thick, plush pile rugs for a kitchen, thank you very much.

Accent color: This color will provide just the right amount of ‘pop’; I picture it on the custom cabinet. My next post will go into its design more in depth.

Cabinet finish: This finish is called Honey Walnut. I’d suggest a warm brown stain color like this one as it will effectively update the space without feeling like someone ‘tried too hard’.

Cabinet hardware: This pull from Amerock is available at Brass Handle in Edina (for all you Minnesotans).The finish is the perfect golden color…subtle and pretty. I have an alternate plan for the existing cabinet hardware (think custom cabinet!).

Countertop: This quartz countertop can be found at Home Depot. Quartz is a great product. It’s less porous than granite so it resists stains better. Plus, it’s extremely low-maintenance. I chose a countertop with minimal texture and pattern because it will be right next to the brick wall, which has a lot of texture and multiple colors.

Backsplash tile: I currently have a kitchen of my own that I would like to redo. Until then, I’m going without backsplash tile, and let me tell you…my walls have some food on them. I definitely recommend investing in some tile. Product doesn’t have to be expensive. I like 1 x 1 tiles from Daltile (available at Home Depot) for this kitchen. Check out the drawing below for install details.

Pendant light: This pendant light from Rejuvenation would look fabulous above the kitchen sink. Great price, too!



This elevation shows the basic idea for the custom cabinet. It is also the wall with the brick, as seen in the photo below.




Now for the more major cabinet change I’m recommending. The photo above shows existing upper cabinetry on the wall with the refrigerator and stove. To make the space seem larger and more open, I’d suggest taking them out, tiling the entire wall and installing open/floating shelves as seen in the elevation below. The shelves can be used for displaying nice dish ware, or, if it’s preferable to hide certain items, decorative baskets and bins can be used. Add a new stainless steel vent above the stove for proper ventilation, and the cooking can begin!


The tile color, as seen on the materials board above, closely resembles that of the paint selection so as to not overwhelm or clutter the space. In order for a space to be successful, not everything can be a focal point. The neutral color tile blends in and serves to open up the space and make cleaning easier. It does not compete for attention but rather ensures cohesiveness.