Tag Archives: natural

Quartz Countertop Shopping

Shopping for quartz countertops can be overwhelming due to all the wonderful options out there! We’re skipping all the major brand names (Ceasarstone, Silestone, Cambria) and going for the lesser-known ones to make our selection for our new kitchen! We found that the generic ones (that usually “copy” the major brands’ designs) are cheaper in price and slightly lesser in quality (90% quartz versus 93%).  But the 3% difference is not a big deal according to all the quartz vendors we’ve been talking to. So far, our top choice is from LG Viatera quartz in Cirrus.

LG Viatera Quartz in Cirrus
Cirrus

When you look at it in person (which I recommend that you do for any countertops/flooring/back splash tiles, etc.), it’s grayer than what the website describes it to be (“White with subtle hints of gray”). Since we’re going with white cabinets and a gray island (IKEA BODBYN), we wanted the countertop to be in the gray family but nothing too dark or crazy. There were many contenders in the last few weeks but so far, this is the winner.

IKEA Bodbyn Kitchen

IKEA Bobdyn Kitchen

Ideally, we would love to have a Carrara marble countertop. But the maintenance seems too daunting for all the Korean food we’re going to be cooking! Can you imagine spilling kimchee jigae all over your beautiful marble top and having red stains all over your expensive investment?! But we do LOVE the look of Carrara marble… It was funny how we were immediately drawn to it every time we went to a showroom. One time, we saw a sample of it with a bunch of quartz samples and thought, ‘OMG! We finally found THE ONE quartz manufacturer that got it right!! They made their quartz look exactly like Carrara marble!’ Ha! We were promptly told that it was marble with a chuckle.  Wishful thinking…

So we had no choice but to resort to quartz stone that resembled marble (we didn’t want to deal with the maintenance of granite either.) Most of the marble-like quartz we’ve seen were too blue-cheesy for our taste. Or the veining was too dark or pronounced against the light background. But close contenders were: PentalQuartz’s Onixaa, Silestone’s Lagoon, Silestone’s Ariel, MSI Q quartz’s Cashmere Carrara and a few others. I’ve been Pinteresting like crazy to my kitchen board of all of these options. Feel free to check it out here!

We’re starting our kitchen remodel planning waaaaay early, like several months before.  But we wouldn’t be the Lee Sisters if we didn’t start this early! Last year’s remodel was getting rid of our carpet throughout the house and re-flooring with laminate, painting the house inside and out, replacing our central AC/heating, updating our electrical, and refurnishing a few rooms from scratch. This year’s going to be gutting out the kitchen, combining the current kitchen space with the adjoining dining room to make one big kitchen with an island. In the last few weeks, we’ve measured, drew up our own blueprint, shopped and researched countless hours online (Google image search to the rescue!), drove over to the Anaheim stone and tile district, Home Depot/Lowe’s trips, Floor and Decor (which we just got in our town a few weeks ago), and talked to as many pros in the industry for estimates and tips.  It feels so much better now that I have a ballpark of what things are going to cost. We’re hoping to meet our budget and I think we will if we balance our splurges with economic options. But we’re also being realistic and setting aside some contingency fund (for possible mold, asbestos, termite – the three monster problems I really wish we have none of!)  This planning stage is exciting but also could be anxiety-producing, as there seems so much to do and go through to reach the end. But I’m just imagining a pristine white kitchen with just the right accents to be the reward and that would be worth all the trouble.

My next post will include a design board of all of our kitchen remodel components. Stay tuned!

Outdoor Wedding Altar – Hawaiian Style

The next series of posts will be on the decorations I designed for my friends’ wedding last month. I had the privilege of transforming someone’s spacious backyard into an outdoor Hawaiian wedding venue! The theme was Hawaiian but more specifically incorporating the elements of earth-water-fire (sand, water, candlelights) with accents of blues and purple.

Back in April, I visited the wedding site and did a rough sketch of what the place should look like:
Ceremony Diagram

And here’s how it turned out!
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Rough sketch of the altar design:
Altar Diagram

And how it actually looked:
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It was really neat how the sketches came to life one by one. Like someone said, I had an overload of creative inspirations from all over the internet and frankly driving myself crazy. hahaha. (My Pinterest wedding boards were exploding with images during the month before.) It was very difficult to narrow down my ideas to a few, because I wanted to try so many things! But the original sketches kept me grounded and helped me stay on course, maintaining the simplicity the couple wanted.

The altar being the focal embellishment of the wedding, I wanted to create an airy and celestial feel. I got about 6 yards of white curtain fabric at $2/yard (found it in the clearance section but further bargained with the owner and shaved off 50 cents/yard) that would hang down in the shape of a steeple. I looked around for a super long curtain rod but couldn’t find one at the local stores and the ones online were way too pricey for our budget. I even thought about getting a PVC pipe and cutting it down to size. But I found a better solution at the 99 cents store of all places – Bamboo sticks!! They came in a bundle of 5-6 long skinny sticks and man, did I get so much use out of them! I grouped about three of them together and tied them up with some jute twine to create one strong “rod”. Then I connected the rods with more twine to make one super long pole.
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The location of the altar were flanked by two magnificent pine trees and the challenge was to figure out how to hang the curtains between them. There were branches hanging down between the tree trunks but they were too high up and dangerous for us to reach even with a ladder. So we had no choice but to tie the ends to the trunks and hoped that the weight of the curtains wouldn’t cause the rod to snap overnight! The rod was slightly bending in the middle when we were done setting up but thank God, everything stayed intact well after the ceremony! The resilience of bamboo and jute twine…
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The flower backdrop was made out of cheap plastic leis from Oriental Trading Company that looked rather elegant when put together (if I may say so!) 🙂 And we hung a glass lantern down the middle of the curtains as an accent piece.
Flower Leis Backdrop

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I’m SO GLAD we set up the altar and other labor-intensive items like the paper lanterns the night before. It was a lot of work and I had lots of help! My first outdoor wedding decoration was a blast!
Altar

Happy July 4th by the way!! Have a safe and fun celebration everyone!! Up next, tablescape…