The Fashion Magpie White Kitchen Ambient Style Interior Design

Ambient Style.

I’ve shared that one of my guilty pleasures is watching House Hunters with Mr. Magpie.  We love to poke fun at the formulaic show (the people on it must be coached / fed lines — that or every other adult on the planet uses a set of idiosyncratic phrases that I somehow never learned, like “soaking tub” (why not just “tub?”) and “craftsman style” (which I now know, but — how does every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the show have a grasp on architectural styles?)) and put on our judge-y hats (“ew, they went with #2?  so hideous!”).  One theme we commonly return to in our sardonic commentary is the ambient style of our times.  About 9/10 couples on the show cite the following must-haves:

+White cabinetry

+An open floor plan concept

+A “gourmet” kitchen (*Mr. Magpie always grimaces at the word ‘gourmet’ here)

+Stainless steel appliances

+No formal dining room

Of course I understand that home design, like clothing, is subject to trends.  And I am a particularly willing (guilty?) accomplice to those trends, as I shepherd them through this blog.  I like the idea of my home, like my duds, looking fresh and new and fashionable — so I, too, am drawn to the currency of the all-white kitchen with a marble slab countertop.  But I am also aware that in about 10 years, stainless steel and butcher’s block and white cabinetry will look very…passe.  “Ugh, that’s so early oughts,” our children will say to each other, in much the way we turn our noses up to the heavy pine wood kitchens and frosted glass and brass/gold hardware of the 90s.  (Also, like every bathroom sink had this kind of faucet.)

Mr. Magpie is more able than I to live above the trends.  He’s the same way about his clothing — I think he’s worn the same “style” since he was about 4 years old, and it involves corduroys and oxfords and thick sweaters in the winter, and khakis and polos and boat shoes in the summer, and nothing ever looks dated.  He’s long been unconvinced by the “open floor plan” concept.  Don’t get me wrong — we’ve enjoyed the open concept in our last two homes, but he’s been known to say: “I don’t mind the idea of a dining area separate from a kitchen, and a kitchen that’s closed off by doors.  There’s something nice about being able to cook in private, and serve a dinner without the din and chaos of the kitchen in clear sight.”  He’s also much more flexible on kitchen style.  In our last home, the cabinetry was sleek and modern but a sort of cherry wood color — a far cry from the stark white so en vogue right now.  It worked well against the sleek silver hardware and dark granite and deep foggy blue of the walls.  (BTW, paint color pro tip I picked up from an interior designer: you should never be able to identify the color of the walls with one word.  The color should always be hard to explain: “it’s sort of a bluish-green?” “somewhere between a peach and a yellow?” “gray with a tint of green?”  If it’s too on-the-nose, the color isn’t sophisticated and will make the whole room look too too.)  I do agree with his assessment of a separate dining room — I like the idea of entertaining away from the kitchen, where the mess and occasional stress of last-minute prep is enclosed and out of the line of sight.  And, I like what it suggests about dining, too: that it should be a separate and special activity in its own space.  Mr. Magpie and I have been guilty of eating too many meals in front of the TV, but we’re hell-bent on ensuring that mini eats at a proper table now that she’s getting old enough to appreciate the ritual and significance of it.

But, as with everything, I’ll take a little of Column A and a little of Column B.  I’m no purist.  I like the idea of being au courant, but I also appreciate tradition.  Mainly, though, I revere the aspects of home design that reflect the way we like to live our lives — that are functional and aspirational both.  So in an ideal world, I’d love an enormous kitchen and oversized pantry to accommodate the amount of cooking we do, but a separate and formal dining room (maybeeee with like pocket doors or something that you can slide open to the dining room?).  And, you know, I’m flexible on the kitchen style.  Doesn’t need to be all white or stainless steel for that matter.  Our current apartment in New York has a white fridge and, you know what?  I much prefer it to our old one because it’s ultra wide and we can slide entire cookie sheets in or, as is currently the case, a whole turkey dry-brining, without any issue.  (In Chicago, we’d occasionally have to store oversized food outside…)

Thoughts?  What aspects are most important to you?

Also, 10 picks for today.

Pick No. 1: The Lucite Coffee Table

And speaking of ambient style: lucite and acrylic have been mainstays in the trendy bloggerina home decor category for a long while, but with good reason: it adds an element of airiness and modernity to even the most staid of living areas.  I’m considering it for our coffee table in our new apartment in an effort to add a little liveliness and airiness to our living room, which otherwise has a lot of wood, brown, gray, etc with a few pops of orange and green for good measure.  See below for inspiration:

The Fashion Magpie Lucite Coffee Table 1

The Fashion Magpie Lucite Coffee Table 2

The Fashion Magpie Lucite Coffee Table 3

Some pieces I’m considering:

+My top pick.  I love the generous length.

+Tied for first, and much less expensive.

+Not long enough for our overlong couch, but I love the spunk of this piece.  Anthro has a similar-ish style in a longer length, too.

+Budget buy!

Pick No. 2: The Electric Toothbrush

I’ve used a manual toothbrush forever and always, but am very intrigued and possibly sold on the effusive reviews this Philips toothbrush has received ($178).  I also love the design of Quip toothbrushes, but would probably favor the strong reviews of the Philips one first!

The Fashion Magpie Philips Sonicare Toothbrush

Pick No. 3: The Brush Cleaner

I’m guilty of letting my makeup brushes go a little long without a proper cleansing.  I’ve long used this spray, which I like because it’s easy to apply directly to the bristles and then wipe off into a tissue, but I recently discovered this little doo-dad ($5) and think it will make the job much easier.(Alternately, you can place this mat directly into the base of your sink and rub them against it!)    This stuff also gets incredible reviews,  even though I believe it’s intended for paintbrushes! — and I definitely need some of this for my beautyblender, which, incidentally, remains my favorite tool for applying makeup.

The Fashion Magpie Makeup Brush Cleaner


Pick No. 4: The Bow Shoulder Blouse

An easy, fun, inexpensive way to liven up your weekend wardrobe ($29)!

The Fashion Magpie VNeck Bow Top

Pick No. 5: The Cable Knit Sweater

I’m telling you — you will never regret buying a cable knit like this one in a versatile color ($98).  As perfect with trendy sneakers as they are with traditional Chanel flats.  Also love this chunkier turtleneck style.

The Fashion Magpie Polo Cableknit Sweater Gray The Fashion Magpie Polo Cableknit Sweater

Pick No. 6: The Jeweled Hairbow

How gorge is this ($29)?  Perfect with your holiday best.



Pick No. 7: The Eyeshadow Palette

I’m pretty sure this eyeshadow palette was custom-made for me ($49).  I love all the colors, but especially those neutrals, which I’d wear at daytime and then amp up with a little bit of the dark color in the crease of my eye and along the lash line for a little nighttime look.

The Fashion Magpie Bobbi Brown Palette


Pick No. 8: The Dyson Blowdryer

I can’t legitimize its purchase, but this blowdryer ($399) is supposed to be NUTS.  In a good way.

The Fashion Magpie Dyson Hair Dryer 2

Pick No. 9: The Black Tight

I love a good pair of black tights in the winter.  Cases in point:

I’ve worn Spanx for years, but someone recently referred to these as the perfect opaque winter tight, so I’m intrigued.

Pick No. 10: The Floral Dress

Similar to the chic pea in the snap immediately above, I love this well-priced floral dress ($118) and would style it exactly as she did!

P.S.  10 things you need in your kitchen.

P.P.S.  Great, space-saving apartment gear.



  1. The Philips toothbrush is life changing. I’ll never use a manual toothbrush again. If there was one beauty item I could take with me on a deserted island (biding there was electricity) it would be this (tweezers second)!

    Also, I own the CB2 peekaboo coffee table. I do like it, but beware it scratches easily. Find it high maintenance to care for, including with fingerprints.

    1. Well isn’t THAT timely — so good to know about the CB2! I hadn’t thought about keeping it clean / scratching. Hm. Good points!!! Also, thanks for the vote re: toothbrush!!

  2. How timely! We’re finally (!!) moving into our house and have to completely redo the kitchen. I was having a conversation with our cabinet people about how people now want “timeless” white cabinets without realizing it’s totally a current trend. Yet, it’s still what I’m going to do with our kitchen – it’ll be a vast improvement on the ugly fake-oak/brick red laminate (!!!!) that’s currently in the house.

    Also, love that lucite coffee table!! I considered buying one for years before I ended up with the brass/glass bamboo one we now have. But am considering buying something more kid-friendly since the baby is DETERMINED to stand – she’s not even 8 months yet!!! – and that means walking (and more falling) isn’t too far behind.

    1. That’s a good point — the lucite tables aren’t quite as much of a hazard to babies as other ones (glass, wrought iron, etc!) Your new house sounds incredibleeeee! (YAY for moving in, finally! I’ve been thinking of you!)

  3. GelPro kitchen mats! They are amazing. We have two in our kitchen- one by the sink, and one by the stove/main chopping area. I love to cook, but standing for a couple hours on our cement-and-engineered-hardwood floors makes me a little achy. The GelPro is like standing on a a combo of gel shoe inserts and a gymnastics mat. My back and legs are thankful for it! It also wipes clean easily. We vacuum or mop directly over it.

    We use the Earth Rated dog dispensers and bags. I put it in my top ten picks because I’m mystified by the people in my neighborhood who don’t have a dispenser clipped to their leash. Upgrade your life! Don’t carry around a single bag in your pocket or walk over to the communal neighborhood dispenser and then walk back!

    Another item for my top ten are Wean Green glass food containers. We bring our lunch to work in these daily, and have never had a leak. Durable, wash easily, and can microwave directly in the container.

    1. Love all these picks, and totally get what you’re saying about the dog bags — we have the same ones you do, and now that I think about it, I can’t imagine how annoying it would be not to have it. I just thought it was standard issue! HA.

  4. My mom & I bond over (among many other things) HGTV shows, and we have had this same discussion about ambient style many a time! I was chuckling as I read this post. I think I am more like Mr. Magpie in the sense that I don’t get too bogged down with trends, at least when it comes to home decor (I have my fair share of bell-sleeve tops ;)) I see value in going against the grain, even just slightly, to ensure that I won’t have to change my entire home in a few years.

    That said, I have never owned a home and still live in an apartment where I can’t fully control everything, so I feel I can only speak in relative terms about what my style is. My furniture ranges from some midcentury pieces to more classic/traditional ones, with some quirky ones thrown in (like a huge steamer trunk that we use for storage & book displays!). I am lucky enough, though, to live in an apartment that has enough room to accommodate a small, 4-person table in the kitchen AND has a formal dining room. The dining room is particularly well-suited to our needs as it facilitates entertaining, and I also use the dining table as a makeshift desk during the week since I work from home (our home office is a bit cramped with two desks, and my current actual desk is not well-suited to doing actual work, so I use it more for a bookshelf! Ha!) I love thinking/talking about home decor as much as I do fashion, though, so I appreciate your posts on the subject!

    1. It’s funny how that happens. In our old home, I had a proper office to work in, and I always worked downstairs at the kitchen counter on a bar-height chair. I just preferred to be closer to the kitchen. In our new apartment, I have my desk set up as a little station off the living area and I am obsessed with it. I think it just depends on the flow of the living space! I never liked being all the way upstairs in an office — I wanted to be closer to where the action was, which, in our house, is always in the kitchen.

  5. I’ve picked up on the idiosyncratic phrases of House Hunters (such a great mindless tv show), too. My least favorite is that everyone on that show always calls the grill the “barbecue.”

    As for toothbrushes, definitely get a Sonicare! My husband is a dentist and he got me one years ago and now my teeth don’t feel clean if I’m without it. I originally had one similar to the one you linked that had a bunch of different settings. After that one bit the dust, I bought this much cheaper one (in pink!) that seems to work just as well, just without all the settings: Either way, you will love it!

    Also, any suggestions on holiday dresses for those of us expecting? I’m due at the end of February and have a black tie event coming up when I’ll be 30 weeks. I’m completely stumped on what to wear. I’m also getting to the point where I don’t really want to buy any more “maternity” clothes. Thoughts?

    1. HA! Now that you mentioned it, Mr. Magpie and I watched two episodes of HH and both referred to the grill as a “barbecue.” That is HILARIOUS!

      Thanks for the rec on the Sonicare!!

      And, AHHH. Black tie and 8 months pregnant! I feel you. My first thought was to get something inexpensive and intended for maternity from ASOS. I found that towards the end of my pregnancy actual maternity clothes were very handy for making me feel put together. Maybe something trendy like this ( with black tights and black pumps and a bold red lip OR this (, which is a little more demure. Both are well under $100. This is more of a splurge, but could be very chic: BUT, if you are hell-bent on avoiding a maternity dress you’ll wear once and then chuck, consider these: — chic with an updo and dramatic eye. — with heeled sandals with a bow detail, like my go to Alexandre Birmans — not sure how much give there is in this dress, but could work — might need to size up.

      Finally, I wore a Self-Portrait dress VERY similar to this (in white, too!) for my December baby shower, and I paired it with black tights and black pumps and my black Chanel and it totally worked:

      Towards the end of my pregnancy, I wore a lot of babydoll dresses, too. They worked on me because I’m petite, but if you’re tall, they might be too short with the bump. But I’d have favored pieces like these, though not all are appropriate for a black tie situation, or for winter (not sure the climate you’ll be in!):

      Happy shopping!!! Let me know if you need more thoughts!

  6. Maybe because I live in a rented apartment for the last 7 years with no style, but I love the beautiful white kitchen that are “in” right now and dream of having my own “gourmet” kitchen (hehe). I think if you are going to design a home with a modern kitchen you better have enough money to update it when it becomes old and stuffy.
    I think a formal dining room is nice but most families have a formal dinner several times a year, but spend a lot of the time in the kitchen cooking. I like the idea of a big open kitchen that the family can hang out in while I’m cooking. My childhood home’s own dining room got about as much use as the hand wash only china (not very much!) and we ate most of our meals in our big kitchen with a little table in it, serving ourselves out of the pots things were cooked in.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post!

    1. VERY true, all of this — the main thing is finding a space that suits your lifestyle and needs and preferences. Maybe formal dining rooms are just a thing of the past in general, and I’m digging myself into a hole by wanting one, which will in turn make the house more difficult to sell in the future. And maybe I’m being impractical by assuming we’ll sit at it a lot? I also get the allure of a big open kitchen where family can gather. The kitchen is the heart of the home. My parents have a great middle ground — it’s closed off on three sides, with doors leading to the formal dining room and to the hallway, but then the fourth side opens up into a casual living/family room. Perfect compromise!

  7. GET THE PHILLIPS TOOTHBRUSH! It’s lifechanging. Being able to pick the style of electric pulse you want is phenomenal. If I eat too many acidic foods too many days in a row, my teeth become quite sensitive. Being able to use the “sensitive” setting helps! My husband and I share the brush base and switch out the heads. My head is painted with a thin line of nail polish near the bottom to distinguish it.

    I also own the Quip toothbrush, and do not like it nearly as much. The Quip has been relegated as a travel toothbrush, and I look forward to that first brush with the Phillips upon returning home.

    I occassionally think of your list of top ten purchases for the home and try to figure out what my list would be. The Phillips toothbrush would be #1, without question. Other items would include our dog bag dispenser, dog collar light, and our gel mat in the kitchen. Working on what the other six worthy items would be!

    1. AH! I love these recommendations! Like, what’s a gel mat?! I needed to google that. And what kind of dog bag dispenser do you have?!? Is it better than my standard issue one? Thanks for sending!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *