Making a home light, bright and inviting!

I wrote about part of this project recently, so now let's look at the whole thing.  It's quite a change:


Above is the Before of one corner of the Family Room...


...and here's the After!  The room was always attractive, but it was time to lighten things up.  


I showed you this entertainment center in this previous post, but I can't get over the difference between then....


...and how that same wall looks now.   Are you loving that accent rug?  Me too.  Meeee-yow!


Here's another camera angle of the room.  Since these photos were taken, the coffee table has been replaced.  No pretty objects have been placed on it yet, but I want to include it:


Pretty fandabulous!  The metallic finish on the top makes my heart beat faster!


We took down the sheers on the back windows and replaced them with my favorite roller shades that go up and down with the touch of a finger.  When rolled completely up, they just disappear.


Such nice nailhead detail on the Sherrill sofas!  Custom accent pillows, window treatments and that fab rug add color and pattern to an otherwise neutral room.


The Family Room is open to the adjoining Kitchen.  Above is a Before that gives you an idea of how it looked.  I need to find a pic that shows the old light fixture....

Found it!



Here's the After:


Morning coffee in here will really put you in the right mood to start the day!  


We used french returns on the metal rods for the custom cafe curtains.  Tres bien!

Then we tackled the formal dining room.  The Before will show that it was already a gracious, traditional space with lively colors, custom window treatments and a gorgeous table.  These clients were just ready for a change.  A general updating with a calm vibe was the goal.

Here's the Before:


And here's what we did:


The heavy top treatments came off the windows, a new custom rug was designed and the dining chairs were reupholstered.  This room is still formal, but in a lighter, brighter and more modern way.


I always try to use 2 upholstery fabrics on dining chairs.  It's a subtle touch.  When you're in the room, I want you to find little design surprises slowly but surely.

This entire project was a treat to work on.  We were able to make big and small changes that added up to a refresh that flows from room to room and really reflects the personalities and lifestyle of the clients. 

Life is good!



Embrace vibrant colors!

The fact that it's January seems to make me focus on color.  I really miss my leaves. So I scrolled through my photos and look what I found:

When you see that purple, don't you want to just fall into it?  Wouldn't you like to see some of that color every single day?

When I heard that Pantone had named Ultra Violet as their Color of the Year, I was thrilled.  The world needs more purple.  I probably wouldn't paint my walls with it, but I definitely look for this kind of purple--strong, vibrant, saturated--in accent pillows,  on throws, in art and definitely in fresh flowers.  

But maybe I would paint my walls with it.  Here's some serious inspriation:

It's the prettiest kitchen I have ever stepped into and I'll never forget it.  Those walls!  Look at how they're balanced with white, light wood finishes and sparkling natural light.  Using soft neutrals: gray, taupe, cream and white gives the eye some relief when using a showstopper color.  The eye always needs some relief, otherwise it's hard to take it in for a sustained period.  At least that's how I am.  

After the flowers in the first picture were gone, I still had a reminder because...

I painted an old frame to create a vignette with art!  That pop of purple on gray walls sure does make me happy.  That's what vibrant colors do--they make us happy.  

Then there's this:

A friend is using color to put his own stamp on a beautiful old home and the above pics show two of his rooms.  is this something you could live with?  I didn't think I could when he started painting, but now I can see they would make me incredibly happy.  And creative.  Like, all the time. The picture on the left lets you peek into an adjoining space.  The moldings in that room are painted the orange you see in marigolds and they're gorgeous with the red walls.  The guest room (pic on the right) is softer, but still unexpected.

You can get vibrant colors into any room with accessories, paint or fabrics. Whatever suits you best.

The top photo in the above group shows drapery panels in a vibrant pattern on red wall - I need to tell you about that color-happy client in another post.  I wrote about those sassy office chairs in this post and the blue chair with the cute-as-a-button orange pillow was in this post.  The gorgeous blue walls showed up in this very recent post.

Look for a favorite color that gives your brain a little jolt of happiness and put it in your house!








How About Some Color On Those Interior Doors?

I've always wondered why most interior doors are painted white.  Maybe because they match the trim color, or because it's easy on the eyes (nothing going on here!), or because by the time we looked at the doors we were tired of choosing colors.  I'd like to suggest that some of your doors should be painted or stained to look different than the others.

Here's a couple:


Benjamin Moore's Heritage Red (HC-181), high gloss paint makes sliding open the pantry door a real treat! And can you see the natural hickory door next to the white back entry door?  All the doors aren't the same, even in this tiny space!

Another great door color is gray.  Look at these:


I recommended Sherwin Williams Tin Lizzie (SW 9163) in a semi gloss finish for these french doors.  My client painted them himself and did a fantastic job!  He kept the door moldings a bright white.

Want to see another one?


I chose Benjamin Moore's Amherst Gray (HC167) for this client.  They painted the door molding the same color.  There are two other doors in the room that I don't have photos of.  One is this color and the other a much darker faux finish.  They all tie into the french country vibe of the space so well.  Ignore the spirit in the glass.  She's a friendly ghost.

As soon as it's warm enough (it's winter as I write this), I'm going to paint the door to our garage a  pretty color--maybe a dark green, like a pond scum green.  I always like that color in paintings, go figure.   

How about this one:

BM 483.png

It's called "home on the range."  How perfect is that?  Benjamin Moore #483.  I'll show you when it's done!

Do you have a fabulous color on any of the interior doors in your home?  I sure would love to hear about them if you do!



What I'm reading now.

It's snowing -  a big event here in NC.  It is really piling up and the perfect opportunity to pull out a book.  Today I'm reading "Theft By Finding" by David Sedaris.  As is usually the case with Sedaris, it's a laugh out loud book, with plenty of serious stuff tucked in

You can buy it here, or by clicking on the book photo.


I love David Sedaris and his kind of humor.  It's dry, sad, honest and hilarious--a quirky combination that's very human.  I can't take his books to waiting rooms because they make me laugh too hard.

Here's an update as I finished the book - this one isn't as consistently funny as some of his others.  It's still a good read and often very funny, but it's more of an interesting story of what he was doing and going through during 1977-2002.

The link is because I'm an Amazon affiliate.  That means if you buy something through the link, I get a small payment that doesn't affect your price at all.  I appreciate your use of links I post.

Whenever you have the chance, grab a book that makes you laugh.




Blogging, pretty pictures and an awesome recipe for a winter meal

Today's post is just a bit of a ramble.  Don't you think we should all sit down with a cup of coffee, put up our feet and ramble every now and then?  Today's my day.


I wish I was one of those designers with endless energy who can seemingly run a business AND write interesting blog posts featuring pretty pictures of world travels, incredible rooms and adorable children in riding habits.  However:

A) I am not

B) I strongly suspect they're not either, but it's not my job to call out the huge amount of smoke and mirrors it must take to pull that off.

I'm a working woman with an average amount of energy. Smoke and mirrors are nowhere to be found.  My house is charming and we love it, but it's not Pinterest worthy, if you know what I mean.  Housework and I don't pal around a whole lot, but most rooms have some semblance of order going on.  The usual exception is the kitchen island.  It's always covered with mail, lists and stuff that appears out of nowhere.  And recently our sweet dog, Raven, has decided that the couch is quite comfy, so that's a new place to find large amounts of dog hair.  But we're working on the island and shooing Raven off the couch. 


About the blog: I like writing, but it takes way more time than I usually have.   If you're reading this, you should follow my Instagram account--I LOVE taking pictures with my iPhone and it's fun to put them on Instagram because it's super easy.  I generally take photos of things or moments that give me a quick dose of joy and of course I want to share that joy, hence the current love of the Insta.  


About the pretty pictures: as I know I've mentioned before, my darling hub and I are raising our grandson.   Grandboy is 12, almost 13.  He's a super kid and we love him madly, but it's a tough age, reeking with hormones.  Our days are filled with activities and eye rolls, snarky comments, deep sighs and being told that we are annoying or embarrassing him.  Sigh.  Yeah, the deep sighs are coming from me.  Moments of joy sustain me.  They sustain every mom--and every grandmother.  Those pretty pictures are reminders of the beauty that's all around us.


Slow mornings, flowers, pets and fairy lights on timers in my china cabinet give me long moments of joy.  I hope you have special things in your home that do the same for you.

Here's the promised easy recipe for a wonderful winter meal.  We'll call it "Mom's Lamb Recipe" because my mom made it and I have no idea what she called it. 

The ingredients are as follows:

Lamb - bone in.  Mom used to make this with lamb neck pieces, I think.  They were usually a cheap cut in the grocery store. I happened upon a sale price for lamb chops, so used those. Lamb is an easy meat to cook with.

Carrots (a regular size bag, cleaned)

Potatoes (I used 4 medium ones, peeled)

Green peppers (1 1/2 or 2, cleaned and seeded)

Onions ( 1 1/2 or 2, peeled)

1  14-16 oz. can Hunts tomato sauce

Garlic (I use up to a tablespoon of the prechopped garlic)

Salt and pepper (you decide how much you like)

Bay leaf if you want  (my mom always used bay leaves, what they add is a mystery to me)


roasted lamb recipe step 1.jpeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cut everything up, including the lamb, into big chunks and spread out in a large pan.  I'm not sure if a cookie sheet would work.  I always use a broiler pan or a big roasting pan.  Sprinkle some garlic (not a lot),  salt and pepper.  

roasted lamb recipe step 2.jpeg

Pour that can of tomato sauce over all.  Give it a big stir.  Put in preheated oven.  Cook for 2 hours, stirring one more time after an hour.  Your house is going to smell SO good!  Yes, it cooks for 2 hours.  You can throw this together any day if you work from home.  Otherwise it's a weekend dish.  Would make a fabulous, old fashioned Sunday dinner and takes MUCH less effort than roasting a chicken with all the accoutrements.  Everything is in this pan.

roasted lamb recipe done.jpeg

Two hours later, take it out and serve.  You can add a salad or bread if you want.  It's so so  good.  The tomato sauce cooks into everything.   

Thanks for letting me ramble.  Enjoy your day!



3 Tips For Fireplace Updates


Are you ready to update your fireplace?  If so, I've got 3 tips to share with you, along with a couple of photos from a recent project.  Above is the "before" fireplace photo.  My clients wanted to put the flat screen tv above the mantel and bring a more transitional style in the room. 

Here's what we did:


It's like someone turned on the lights!

Tip #1 - create more visual space on the fireplace wall.  We did it by pulling the new custom window treatments over to the side.  This gives a more open feeling.

Tip #2 - use a new material.  In this case, we tore the whole sheetrock, brick and wood face down and rebuilt it with stacked travertine.  The stone wraps to the wall, creating 3" sides so it doesn't look flat.  The mason had to replace the old sheetrock with Durock cement board, but that's standard when working with heavy tile.  The hearth floor got a sturdy porcelain tile.  Looks fabulous!


Tip #3 - Consider using a nice chunky board from the lumberyard as your mantel.  This piece of poplar, stained a walnut color by our crackerjack carpenter,  is less rustic, more refined than a reclaimed beam.  He also created what I'll call a backsplash with the poplar because we made the whole shebang a little lower than the old fireplace.  With 9' ceilings, we needed more breathing space for the TV.  I think the sound bar (sitting in the center of the mantel) looks better in front of wood rather than a painted sheetrock wall.  


Tip #4 - this isn't really a tip, it's a thought.  I understand the desire to get rid of entertainment centers, so the TV has to go somewhere--often it's above the fireplace.  But look how pretty the room is with a piece of artwork on the wall!  This is "Misty No. 1" by the talented Michelle Woolley Sauter of One Coast Design.  I photoshopped it in, with her permission.  I love the frameless style.

Take a look at where the TV used to reside in the room:

entertainment center.jpeg

This was a perfectly nice custom built entertainment center, about 16 years old.  Isn't it amazing how things have changed over those years?  It's hard to keep up with everything about TV's, including how to install them!

To recap - visually lighten the space, change out your hearth material and use a chunky piece of wood as a mantel.  Then light that fire and enjoy!