Time For A Home Makeover?  Here’s A Transformed Master Bedroom Gone Sleek and Modern

Time For A Home Makeover? Here’s A Transformed Master Bedroom Gone Sleek and Modern

Finding the perfect house for your family can be fun and exciting, especially when you’re moving from the “burbs” into town.  But many times the houses available to you aren’t exactly your style.  When that happens, it’s time for a home makeover!  I know because I’ve been there a time or two.

Since most homeowners want to move in and get settled before tackling any major renovations, it gives them a chance to get a feel for their new home.  And it also lets them take their time and put some thought into what’s most important to them.  This is exactly the path my client travelled when she hired me to transform her classic white master bedroom into a room that was sleek and modern.

Design Dilemma:

My client purchased this existing home and was never happy with the dental molding throughout the house. Since she preferred clean lines and darker wood, replacing the traditional white bookcases with flutes and rosettes was the number one change to be made.

The open shelves had become a clutter magnet, when what this couple really needed was more storage for clothing and linens.

Because the wet bar was never used, they also wanted it removed and replaced with cabinetry.

                                    cabinets with wet bar

What I noticed immediately in the space, and was anxious to change, was the soffit and cove built around the room.   It was used to house recessed can lighting, but it also made the ceilings seem lower and the room smaller.


                                    cove molding image

The last design change my client wanted was a more contemporary fireplace with a TV that blended into the wall.

                                    outdated fireplace wall

What we did:

  • The white traditional bookcases and bar were replaced by smooth, sleek Shaker doors
  • Polished nickel tubular cabinet pulls in sizes proportionate to the cabinets were installed.
  • A new fireplace wall was constructed so that everything is pulled forward and flush.
  • The lower section is stacked split-faced travertine.
  • The black horizontal firebox has a flame strip inside and uses ethanol to burn.
  • The homeowners wanted the fireplace to be high enough to see from the bed.
  • A sleek new mantel was created from cabinet material.
  • This same material was used to frame the new niche for the TV and equipment, keeping cords hidden from view.
  • New carpeting was installed
  • Paint colors were changed

                                master bedroom fireplace wall

Replacing the crown molding around the room became a problem when it came to matching angled corners.  So to stay with the contemporary feel, we all made a decision not add it to the new room.


Your Design Action Plan:

Does your home have a room or two that’s in need of a makeover?

Make a list of the features that you don’t like about the room.

Next make a list of the features you do like about the room.

Compare the lists, and start a new list of everything you would like to change.

Create an idea binder or folder where you keep photos from magazines or online sites.

7 Key Ingredients of a Summertime Porch

7 Key Ingredients of a Summertime Porch

Outdoor living spaces, are becoming more and more popular and are a wonderful way to enjoy nature, relax, and watch the world go by.  There was a time when a front porch was the place to greet your neighbors after dinner, or spend a lazy afternoon reading. 

Today the nostalgia of the front porch is showing up not only in new in-town homes and walk-able neighborhoods, but in the way we use our backyards, screened porches, patios, and decks.   What I’ve noticed is there are 7 key ingredients of a summertime porch that seem to show up again and again.  Maybe you’ve discovered this too.

Every spring, as soon as the pollen slows down, I’m craving some time on our porch.  You see, until a few years ago, none of the homes we lived in had a covered porch.  Now I’m making up for lost time by dreaming, planning, and shopping to make even small improvements to what we have.

The best way to get started is by taking an assessment of what you already have. Do you still love your existing colors or would you love to have a brighter color combination?  Ideas are everywhere, including photos of porches in magazines, social media, and websites.  And don’t forget visiting decorator show houses!

Ask yourself, “what do I really want”?  What do you want your porch to look like, feel like? And then let your imagination kick in.

Let’s get started!

porch with hydrangeas

Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Southern Living Magazine

#1:  Seating  

No matter how large or small the space is, seating is the first thing to consider. Whether you prefer a sofa and chairs, or only chairs, it’s your choice.   Do you want a private space that’s just for your family? Do you want a cozy romantic area for two?   


#2:  Accent Tables 

We all need a table to place a drink or a book while we’re enjoying our outdoor space.  The size and number of tables you need is based on how many people will use the porch…and how much space you have.


pergola with outdoor seating


#3 Rugs 

Rugs are the anchoring point for any seating group.  They pull everything together and create a more inviting space.   An added bonus for using a rug is to cover up unsightly decking.

#4 Accessories to Make It Yours 

Adding your own accessories will truly make the space your own.  They also set the tone for how you want your porch to feel.  Pillows, outdoor draperies, and flowers all add to a room that says “Let’s relax here.”

#5 Plants 

Everyone knows that plants and flowers add beauty to our spaces.  But plants add a sense of calm to any space, and outdoor rooms are no exception.


porch with swing and plants

Credit: Laurey W, Glenn; Southern Living Magazine

#6 Dining Table and Chairs


porch dining table and chairs


#7 Lighting (and a ceiling fan)


Summers can be hot, humid, and stifling, with no breezes to cool you off.  When you include a ceiling fan into your porch design plans, comfort is always just a click away.


porch ceiling fan with light


Bonus: Fireplace


stone fireplace


If have a fireplace on your porch, consider yourself blessed!  Nothing says “cozy” like a roaring fire on a cool evening.



1. Grab a pencil and note pad and make a list of what you have on your porch.  Then make a list of what you need.

2.  Are you using any of these 7 Essentials in your outdoor living spaces?

2.  Look for ways you can add some of these features to your own porch. 





Guest Rooms That Say “We’re Glad You’re Here”

Guest Rooms That Say “We’re Glad You’re Here”

Whenever vacation time and holidays draw near, it’s time to start thinking about the guests that might be staying with us for a night or two…or more.  I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I’m a little less thoughtful about the way our guest rooms look when I know family will be staying there.  Like the time last summer when our guests thought we had three extra bedrooms and we only have two.  Sadly, the very comfortable inflatable bed popped a seam and the bed collapsed in the middle of the night!  This was definitely NOT a guest room that said “I’m glad you’re here. 

Rule #1: Don’t be so busy that you forget to check out these things before you need them.  On the other hand, when I know that friends will be staying overnight, I might add a pretty new detail or two.  Can you relate to this?

Because I love to travel, I’ve spent many a night staying in hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and with friends.  While I’m there I always notice how I feel when I’m in the space.  Do I feel welcomed?  Does it feel creepy?  Is it adequate, but could use some work?

welcoming bedroom

I know that, as an interior designer, I’m more aware of my surroundings than most people.  And I truly believe that each space has it’s own energy.  But these stays have let me discover a thing or two about what the “perfect” guest bedroom could be.  And in the end, it comes down to these three questions:

  1. Is it Welcoming?
  2. Is it Comfortable?
  3. Is it Private?

A welcoming room will let your guests know that you really want them to be there.  It has little added touches like flowers, magazines, and good lighting.  One friend introduced me to the idea of Pillow Presents, which are gifts you place on your guest’s pillow before they arrive.  I loved this idea, and started doing it when our family comes to visit.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  Sometimes I forget, and leave a little bag of candy.  Or completely forget and am reminded by my youngest granddaughter.  And now my daughters have started leaving them on our pillows when we visit!

luxury bedding

To feel comfortable, room size isn’t as important as the bed, the pillows, and the temperature in the room.  Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to these three things. Giving options to your guests is so appreciated…especially aging parents, pregnant daughters, and “hot flashing” girlfriends!!!  We’ve rented a house in Florida for a few weeks, and I’m already wondering if the bed and pillows will give us a good night’s sleep.

Finding a private space for everyone when your home is overflowing with guest can sometimes be a challenge.  When this happens it’s helpful to think out of the box and have a plan before your guests arrive.  But, basically, guest appreciate a place to store their “stuff”, and maybe get away from the crowd for a minute or two.

Do you have a checklist of guest room favorites?  Here is my Top 10 list.   Some were borrowed from my friends, hotels, and inns.  Others were suggested to me by family.

  1.   A comfortable mattress with mattress pad
  2.   Tiny paper cups at the sink, stacked on a pretty plate
  3.   A full length mirror, or at least a mirror for makeup and hair
  4.   A folding screen or some type of room divider if other guests will be walking by or sharing the space
  5.   Bottled water or a small pitcher and glass
  6.   Down pillows, or at least nice fluffy ones (some people sleep with two pillows)
  7.   A throw to cuddle up with for an afternoon nap
  8.   A place to hang your clothes and open your suitcase…and empty hangers
  9.   Lamps tall enough to read in bed
  10.   Blinds or draperies to cover the window at night

Do I have each and every one of these in our guest room?  Not at all!  But I’m working on it with each and every guest.  And when I travel, the list grows as I discover some new little nicety that I hadn’t thought of before.

In the end, it’s all about enjoying your time with house guests, welcoming them into your home, and being together making memories that will last a lifetime!

Your Design Action Steps:

  • Look at your guest room from a visitor’s eye…objectively
  • Make a list of what you see that is welcoming, comfortable, and offers privacy
  • Now make a list of what could be added to the room that would add to your guest’s comfort, and make them feel really welcomed

Remember that it doesn’t have to be expensive or over the top in luxury.


You Get What You Pay For:  The Up’s and Down’s Of Shopping On-line

You Get What You Pay For: The Up’s and Down’s Of Shopping On-line


Has anyone ever told you that sometimes the lowest price doesn’t always mean it’s the best choice for a project?  I know that I’ve heard it from my parents, my contractors, and other designer friends, “You get what you pay for.”  I even pass on these words of advice to my own clients.

But with the ease of internet shopping and today’s supply shortages, it’s so easy to hop on-line to find exactly the look and color you want.  With the ease of comparing prices from one vendor to another and faster delivery times, who wouldn’t want to give it a try?  After all, ordering a custom sofa, or even having your old one re-upholstered can take several months.

We all can think of a few things for our home that we would pay almost anything to have.  It’s beautiful, the quality is excellent, and the color is exactly what we need to make the room go from drab to fab!  When it’s finally ours we’re so happy and excited that we can’t wait to share! 

Then there are the other things that we need for our projects that aren’t so important to us.  They might be a filler piece to finish off the room.  Or an appliance that we know we won’t use every day.  That’s when finding a bargain really gets our excitement flowing.

A while back, my words of advice came back to haunt me when I did my own on-line shopping.  Let me tell you a story of my first experience…..

When I was staying in Singapore several years ago, I bought a beautiful  hand knotted tribal carpet runner.  It’s made with vegetable dyes, which I love, and the colors are deep and rich reds, blues, and ivories. This rug has traveled with us from house to house, and I still have wonderful memories whenever I look at it.

Tribal runner

Imagine my surprise, when I was browsing through an on-line weekly sale and saw a small area carpet in the same exact pattern and the same exact colors.  And the best part was that it was more than half of the price I paid for the runner!

While I was thinking it was too good to be true, I checked their return policy.  Good to know that not only was shipping free, the return freight was free.  Once I discovered that important fact, it took about a minute to hit the “order now” button…and it was mine!!!!

My excitement mounted as I waited for the package to arrive.  Finally, 4 days later, it made it to my front porch.  I ran for the scissors to cut the bag.  I pulled off the bag.  I unrolled the carpet.  And then…..a total disappointment over the purchase.

Online tribal rug

You see, what I couldn’t have guessed by looking at the on-line photograph, was the dull colors.  They were the same reds, blues, and ivories, but definitely not as vibrant.  The patterns are almost identical, but there are many more knots per inch on the expensive carpet than on the bargain carpet.  And lastly, the height of the tufting doesn’t compare with the runner.

By itself, the “bargain” tribal carpet would look beautiful in any home.  But because I wanted to show them in the same room, it just wouldn’t work.  The comparison in color intensity and quality would have always bothered me.

Tribal rug comparison

Since that first experience of on-line shopping for our home, I’ve made several other purchases.  Some were perfect, and others not so perfect.  Items have been returned because they didn’t look like the on-line image or the description.  An accent rug was kept simply because it met the criteria we were looking for: fast delivery, washable, inexpensive, and puppy-proofed. 

It all comes down to what you value most at the time you’re ready to purchase.  If it’s something you need to replace because the one you have is broken, waiting 3 months for a perfect quality piece might not be an option.  But if it’s an item that you really love, then waiting for a piece of furniture that is customized for your room is worth it.

on-line counter stools

When we discovered that our custom made counter stools couldn’t be repaired and the finish was discontinued, it was finally time to decide on a replacement.  With a newly renovated kitchen, and company coming, what I valued at that point in time was a swivel stool that looked good, in colors that would work with our cabinets and countertops.  For me, it was more important to have them delivered within the week than to wait months for custom stools

After carefully reading the specification to make sure they would be the correct size, the order was placed.  They arrived within the week, just in time for our guests!  Are they exactly what I would have chosen given patience to wait for custom? No.  But for now, the color is perfect and the seats will be covered soon in a fabric that coordinates with the other fabrics and colors in the space.

These stools, when compared to the custom swivel stools we had, are definitely a “you get what you pay for” purchase.  I mean, they were a lot less than a custom stool would cost.  But because I carefully read the product details, and studied the on-line image, I knew what to expect and wasn’t disappointed. 

Lessons Learned:

  • If your design project requires you to have two or more items that are identical or even remotely similar, buy them at the same time.
  • If the price is really low, it just might be too good to true.
  • Carefully read the product description and specifications for length, width, seat depth, arm height
  • Seeing a product in person so that you can touch it and feel it is a good thing.
  • On-line shopping is great!  But make sure the return policy is one you can live with.
  • Keep a list of what you need or want for your next design project.  And from that list decide what you’re willing to splurge on and what you would rather bargain shop for.
  • Don’t buy your main upholstered pieces online unless you’re familiar with the manufacturer. 

When it comes to shopping online, there are good deals to be had, especially during sales.  But remember to do your research, read the fine details, and decide if settling for less than your dream is worth it.  After all, no one wants to be told “you get what you pay for.”


Adventures in Renovating: The “Morning Room” Edition

Adventures in Renovating: The “Morning Room” Edition

What a difference a year makes! We had just moved into our new (18year old) home.  Most people were still avoiding gatherings.  There were no Holiday Fairs, parades, or tree lighting.  And basically, I was overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done to turn this house into a home.  Between planning our renovation and having rooms painted, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for Christmas decorating.  And so began our adventures in renovating! 

I’m sure you’re wondering what is a morning room?  This was the description in the MLS listing for this 10×10 room off the kitchen.  We had never heard that term before.  Some people would call it a keeping room.  Other’s call it a sitting room.  We go back and forth.  And since it’s used all the time, it seems a little silly to call it a morning room.

Like the rest of the house, it needed a lot of updating.  But in the early planning stage, fresh paint and new lights were the only things on the plan.  Unpacking and settling in came first.  And then the interior designer in me took over!

The furnished room shown on the MLS listing.

Stage 1:  Make the room work with what you have.  Live in it a while and get a feel for how you’ll live in the space.  If you have plans for a full renovation in a few months, it’s wise to not make costly changes that will be taken apart later.


Filling the bookshelves with our own accessories and making it work…for now!

Stage 2: When you “can’t take it anymore” and need to do something. Discovering an unused can of paint from the last house.  Anything to get closer to our own colors!  It’s amazing how a little change of color can help you relax and feel happy.


First the back of the cabinets, and then the fireplace was calling out for new color.

Stage 3:  Finding inspiration.  Sometimes projects evolve and change.  What starts out as simple fixes that you can live with for a while, usually end up in major changes that add to your budget.  A girl can dream, right?  In the long run it adds value to your home by updating it.  Since we tend to move every 5-7 years,  re-sale is always top of mind.


This photo was found on the Rustica website and became part of the new vision for the space.

Stage 4:  Getting the dream out of your head and onto paper.  Sometimes those dreams change as you live in the space and see how it can work better for you.  And then you need to have patience while you wait for bids, demo, and construction.

Walls are cut to fit the new windows.

Let there be light!  What started out as a room with no view to the backyard, is now light-filled.

Stage 5:  The excitement of the reveal and seeing your vision become a reality!

We have windows!!!…and storage benches.

money,  be sure to grab a copy of the guide below.

Stage 6:  Highlighting imperfections.  We all love to have as much natural light as possible in our homes.  It brightens the room and lets us see nature all around us.  But sometimes it also shows us the flaws in the room that were never noticed before.  It’s hard to stay calm and take a deep cleansing breath when you’ve just had the room painted, and are now seeing new imperfections. 

There’s an old Amish saying that “only God is perfect”.  And I have to tell you that’s a VERY hard thing to deal with when you’re a perfectionist!  Over time, I’ve learned to let it go…for now.  It’s helped a lot to have a Brain Dump sheet that lists all the “not perfect” things I want to fix over time.  And the funny thing is, after a while you don’t see the “not perfect” things as much because there’s something more pressing to take care of.

Yes, my friend, renovating is an adventure in dreaming, planning, and seeing it through to the end.  It’s a lesson in patience, kindness, tolerance, and faith that it will all come together in the end.

Here’s to your own Adventure in Renovating, big or small, high or low budget, DIY or designer guided.  To help you get on track and avoid making some mistakes that might cost you time or money,  be sure to grab a copy of the guide below.