The Big News or Why We Didn’t Renovate the Kitchen

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Shortly after moving in to our new house, the whispers began of the possiblity of a job relocation for Phil. His company merged with another, who is located in the Charlotte, NC area.  With that in the back of our heads, we decided not to do any major renovations to this house, except the needed updates. Now you know why so many visions of mine remained just that, visions.

Recently it became clear, we are going to move. Luckily there is no rush, so we decided to wait until the Spring Market when the yard is looking its best. Phil has done some house hunting while he is down there on business (which seems to be about every other week).  We are concentrating our search in the Lake Norman area.

The current status of our house is that we are not on the market, but as of last week, we do have our listing price ready to go. We can list it any time. If you know of anyone who is looking for a 4 BR, 3BA home with 5 garages, in a great neighborhood , with a very private backyard and a wonderful pool, send them our way!

While we are looking at the positive side of this– moving to a beautiful location and great weather, we also recognize how many wonderful friends we have made here and how much we are going to miss them.  We are hoping that many of them will come visit us in North Carolina and without a doubt, we will be back to visit.

Lake Norman; Photo from Lake Norman NC Homes for Sale

And then there is the next question…what will I do with the business?  At this point, I just don’t know.  Building this business, and getting my A-Team assembled didn’t happen overnight.  It took a lot of time.  I may continue the business in some capacity.  I will need to get settled, and then see what happens.  I know there a few clients here who have already asked if I will return to the area to help them out in the future, and of course the answer is yes.

~Karen

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Selecting a Flattering Color for Every Exposure

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We are finally winding down on the Before & After Series.

We moved into this house a little more than a year ago and have been updating what we can without getting into major demolition mode. Just by using paint on these upstairs bedrooms’ walls, we’ve made a drastic change.  Here are these transformations. For the Before photos I’ll be showing the rooms as they were listed on the MLS when we purchased the house.

BEFORE

AFTER

Any chance I get to show off this dresser that I painted years ago I take it

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER

WHAT WE DID

These rooms were all painted with a warm gray/taupe color, Sherwin Williams Alpaca.   It is a very warm color that I just love.  As with all paint colors, it will read differently in each room, especially since each space has different sun exposure.  This color works in each of these rooms with their different lighting situations. We didn’t want to paint the trim at this point, but some rooms had a shell white, and some had a bright white, so the paint color needed to work with both trim colors without making the shell white look yellow. This color was the winner.

We removed all curtains that were left by the previous owner, but kept the blinds, as they were all Hunter Douglas, and just needed to be cleaned. The rooms all look fresh, updated, and inviting.

This concludes the Before & After Series of this house.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it. It’s amazing what can be done to update a house without getting into a big remodel just by using paint, wallpaper, and artwork.  Updating the hardware on all of the doors, and adding window treatments in some areas helped give the house a fresh look.

 

~Karen

 

 

Decorating Tips to Use While Waiting to Renovate

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Time for another installment of my Before & After Series. Now, it’s on to the back of the house where the kitchen and family room are located.

We moved into this house sixteen months ago and have been updating what we can without getting into major demolition mode. Lots of paint, wallpaper, artwork, and window treatments make a huge difference. I’d like to share these transformations with you. For the Before photos I’ll be showing the rooms as they were listed on the MLS when we first saw this house.

When I saw this space the first time, I thought we would be doing a major renovation to this space.  The housing market would allow it, the home was begging for it, and so were we! My first thought involved relocating the powder room, which is essentially a huge block in the middle of the kitchen/family room. I’ve circled it in red below.

Here’s the view of it from the kitchen side.  Removing this would make this so open!
I imagined a huge island running across the kitchen, with seating on one side. Of course, cabinets to the ceiling, in a painted finish to add more storage.  I wanted to swap out the electric stove for a gas one and add proper ventilation.  Well, I could go on an on with the “plan”.  But, I wanted to show you what I have done with the space while we were patiently waiting to renovate.

We weren’t ready to do those plans right away, so I needed to make this space “ours” while we waited for this project to get started.  Here are the before and afters, with explanations on what small changes we made to make the space work for us.

Kitchen Before:


The kitchen had a refrigerator that jutted into the aisle, making it feel cramped.  (The realtor’s photographer used a wide angle lens in the photos, therefore everything looks bigger and wider–trust me–that aisle in front of the fridge was not very wide).

Kitchen After:

What we did…

We swapped the oversized refrigerator for the one we brought with us from our last house, and also added our beverage refrigerator in that empty spot at the end of the cabinets. This really helped me with the flow of the kitchen.

Kitchen Eating Area Before:

Notice the geranium tiles scattered randomly in the backsplash?  Hey, it was “the thing to do” back in the mid-90’s. They were scattered throughout the entire kitchen.

Kitchen Eating Area After:

What we Did:

I’ve turned the eating area into a cozy seating area by using my vintage furniture pieces and layering a couple of rugs.  I love the idea of a sofa in the dining room or in the kitchen.  We also replaced the hanging light with this fabulous vintage lantern light.

The way I chose to handle the geranium tile situation was to block them with cutting boards and silver trays.  Not quite my style, but it worked.  Then one day I asked Phil to go to the basement and do a search for extra white tiles.  He found them!!  There were 21 tiles, and we needed 20.  The pressure was on. He was able to remove every red geranium tile, and replace with a plain white one.  We found a grout that matched. Voila.  No more geraniums!  And more importantly, no more clutter of cutting boards and silver trays.  If you don’t have the ability to replace tiles, go ahead and lean some interesting cutting boards on the backsplash.  It works!

FAMILY ROOM BEFORE

The family room has “suede” walls in a taupe color. The color actually works with our furniture and the colors I tend to use, so the plan is to leave it until the entire space is demolished for the renovation.  My painter was able to remove this texture in another location where the previous owner had the same treatment done.  He only needed to give it a good sanding.

FAMILY ROOM AFTER

 

All the windows in the family room and the kitchen are dressed in the same window treatments.  I’ve mounted the bamboo shades up at the ceiling to give the rooms more height, and added curtain panels in a  “Granny Chic” pattern (large florals pattern on a taupe background).

I hope I’ve shown you how making a few inexpensive changes to a space that you plan on renovating later will give you the patience to wait until the time is right to do your project, rather than rushing in right away.  Sometimes you need to listen to what your house wants you to do before you tackle the big projects.

Only a couple of spaces left to show you!

~Karen

How To Transform Your Powder Room Into A Must-See Space

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This is technically part of the Before & After Series, however, there are no “before” pictures.

I think powder rooms may be one of my favorite spaces to transform.  This is a space that most likely every guest in your home will eventually see, and they will experience it alone. They will take their time in there and check out the space as they see fit.

 This is why if you are having a party, make sure your powder room is the cleanest room in the house! They are looking…

If guests love it, they will let you know. How many times have you returned to the table at a restaurant and told your friends, “You must go see the restroom”? I know this phrase is overused, but it is so true– The Powder Room is a jewel box and you can do designs in there you wouldn’t do in any other room.  A small space where you can take a design risk.

BEFORE

Sorry, no photos available, but here’s a little imagery for you…

Our powder room was painted by the previous owner a dark brown, including the ceiling. The previous owner had changed the light fixture and mirror, to “update” the space, but the sink and toilet remained as they were originally in 1994.

I decided we needed to use the sink and toilet in this room as a jumping-off point, even with their shiny brass hardware.  Remember, we are updating this house on a tight budget.  I am really embracing the “Granny Chic” movement lately, so  I chose to wrap the room in a metallic floral wallpaper from York Wallcoverings.  The metallic sheen updates what some might consider to be an old-fashioned pattern.  We pulled a peach color from the flowers and painted the ceiling, trim and door in Benjamin Moore’s Perky Peach, in their Advanced line with a high gloss finish.

 We swapped out the light fixture for something more appropriate. The one that was in there was something you would find at a big box store.  This is the light we chose:

After adding a mirror, with a shiny gold frame, but with an updated shape the room really was looking elegant and updated. We used this mirror, but not with the double frame–we did not have the room for that since we were working around the existing faucet.

 When I complete a project, I know I am happy with it, but sometimes I wonder–“what will others think”…”is it too old fashioned”…will future buyers think “this room needs to updated”, etc.

AFTER

When you have a patterned wallpaper, such as this, finding the right artwork can be challenging.  I love how this 3-D shadow box with gold butterflies works in this space.

As many of you know, we have a 14 year old cockapoo, who has discovered the magic of tissue paper on a roll.  We cannot put a roll of paper on any of the holders in our bathrooms because she is obsessed with it and will pull it off.  After we wallpapered this room, I decided to not put up the tissue paper holder because we would never use it, and then guests just think we are lazy by not putting it on, so they do it for us, and the dog notices, and well, you get it.  In this bathroom, I’ve hidden the roll, but of course for parties, I try to help the guests out with a little note so they aren’t stranded…

After having friends here at the house during the holidays, I am convinced the design does not scream “dated”.  Not only were guests gushing about it, but they were in there taking pictures.  Of my powder room.  I think this room has passed “The Test”.

Are you brave enough to follow your heart and do something a little different? Push your boundaries? Or do you need someone to push you outside your comfort zone? If so, give us a call and we will make your powder room swoon-worthy!

~Karen

Designer Showhouse Reveal!

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I was looking back at old blog posts and I realized that I never shared photos on the blog of the showhouse I designed in 2014! I am not sure how I managed to miss doing this.  The Ware Mansion Designer Showhouse was located in Chester County, PA and we had just moved to the Harrisburg, PA area, so it was not a local project, but it was very enjoyable.  At that time, I did not want to reveal photos of the space while the show was running.  Click here to see the original post about the space when it was finished, and how pictures were revealed at that time. Click here a another link to a post that was written during the process, when we were moving furniture and accessories in to the space. And another post regarding the painting can be found here and here.

I thought it would be fun to finally share these with you.  This is still a space that I love to revisit through photos.  The room was filled with such wonderful light that it just made me happy.  The design was the Master Suite, which included a bedroom with a sitting area and fireplace, a dressing room and a small full bathroom.

Please Enjoy these photos that were taken by Donovan Witmer.

The Master Bedroom was painted a gorgeous color by Benjamin Moore, Pigeon Gray.  I fondly call this Gravender, because depending on who was looking at the room it was either Gray or Lavender.  The dresser was a vintage faux bamboo piece that was painted in a high gloss finish. The mirror is vintage, as are some of the accessories in the room.  The wallpaper in all three spaces is from York Wallcoverings.

 

The dressing room was painted in Slip, another Benjamin Moore color that I love. The chandelier is vintage.  The island was custom made for the space.  I loved the wallpaper pattern that you see in the frames.  This was a great way to incorporate that pattern in this space.

The wallpaper is an oversized damask pattern with a metallic finish by York Wallcoverings, from a Ronald Redding collection.  This space was being paid for by the client, so costs were a strong consideration on all the selections for the tile, shower, hardware, etc.  Everyone was pleased with how this turned out and it came in well within a target budget.  Although I will admit, I was never given the target budget–I was just asked to keep costs down, and give my pricing to the client for approval.

There is Big News for 2018, stay tuned for the big announcement!

~Karen

Before & After: Master Bedroom; Clever Ideas How to Add Instant Luxe

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Time for another installment of the Before & After Series.

Here’s the background….We moved into this house a little more than a year ago and have been updating what we can without getting into major demolition mode. Lots of paint, wallpaper, artwork, and window treatments make a huge difference. For the Before photos I’ll be showing the rooms as they were listed on the MLS when we purchased the house.

BEFORE

I’m not a practitioner of Feng-Shui but I do believe in doing “what feels right”.  The layout of this room bothered me from the first time I saw it when we toured the house. Typically I am not bothered by the way someone else chooses how to arrange their own rooms, but I know how influenced buyers can be by seeing how the former homeowner has chosen to live.  Remember, just because the person before you made one choice, you do not need to arrange your room the same way.

When it comes to bedrooms, I feel that it is important to have the bed be the featured piece in a bedroom.  The way this room was laid out before, when you entered the room you walked in to the side of the bed.   I like the bed to be facing the door when you enter the room, if possible.  Or at least be able to see as much of the headboard as possible from the door.

AFTER

What we did:

I feel that bedrooms need to be a calming space where you go to retreat each night.  I knew this room needed to be wallpapered in a soft pattern.  I ordered a few samples of different papers, taped them up, and made a decision. The colors are taupes with a little metallic gold in it.  Can you see the gold in the pictures below?

We ordered an upholstered bed.  I made the decision to not purchase anything too expensive, so this bed was found online from Home Decorators, and it was such a deal! I was able to add some accents in blush, nothing too overwhelming, just enough to give the room a slight tilt towards the feminine side.  The ceiling and tray area are painted Edgecomb Gray, by Benjamin Moore.  We swapped out the dark ceiling fan for a white updated model.  We did not hang any artwork on the walls, just a mirror above the bed.  I feel that the wallpaper alone is the artwork. I love this room, it is the perfect place to end each day.

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Healthy New Year!

Here’s to a great 2018.

~Karen

 

Before & After: One Hot Office Space

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This is the 2nd installment of my Before & After series.

This room was supposed to be my office. It was supposed to be a quick transformation…..take possession of house on a Friday, prime and paint the walls over the weekend and be ready for the movers on Monday. Well….that was the plan.

When we were prepping to paint we discovered that there was a soft spot near the trim on one of the windows.  After a little surgery we discovered that the wall was completely dry-rotted.  The studs would disintegrate when we touched them.  The professionals were called in, and the wall was completely rebuilt, along with replacing two windows, because they need to match, and the original one was not available any longer.

This ended up becoming Phil’s office since I needed my office to be set up quickly.

BEFORE

Just as a reminder, this photo is the room as it was listed on the MLS when we purchased the house.

AFTER

What We Did: We painted the walls in a warm white color, added a very graphic wallpaper to the ceiling, found a rug that had the opposite look (black with a white pattern), installed a great chandelier.   The vintage bar on the left is perfect in this space, it keeps Phil motivated to get his work done.  The photo, The Road, is a piece that we used in a client’s project, however this one arrived damaged.  The artist, Matthew Ehrman, told me to keep this one, and in return I promised I wouldn’t sell it. You can see more of his work here. On the right side of the room we installed Ikea shelving.

Let us know if you need help transforming any rooms!

~Karen

This Will Make Your Head Spin-or maybe just your tree!

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I wanted to do something fun with the tree in the office this year.  I found this rotating stand at Target.  It’s currently on sale, works with artificial trees 7 1/2′ – 9′.  It was a lot of fun decorating it while it was moving!  Yes, decorating has started here due to so many client projects in full swing, including our holiday decorating services.

You can purchase the rotating stand  by clicking on this affiliate link here.

~Karen

Before and After Pictures: Foyer and Dining Room

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We moved into this house a little more than a year ago and have been updating what we can without getting into major demolition mode. Lots of paint, wallpaper, artwork, and changes in window treatments make a huge difference. I’d like to share these transformations with you, room by room. For the Before photos I’ll be showing the rooms as they were listed on the MLS when we purchased the house. All the furnishings and decor in the before photos belong to the previous owners.

Let’s start with the Foyer and Dining Room since these are the two areas you see upon entering the home.

We did not rip up the tile that was original to this house. Yet.

Foyer: BEFORE

There was a lot of yellow, green, and periwinkle in these areas.

AFTER

What We Did:

The doors in the house have all been painted black, and the hardware has been updated to a polished nickel finish.  The color of the foyer is from Benjamin Moore, Sea Salt. It is a taupe-gray that is very warm.  The “trend” pendulum is swinging away from the grays and towards a more taupe version of the gray colors.  The wall behind the chest is Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron.  It is such a dramatic wall that guests see when they first enter. All of the trim was also painted in a bright white, Benjamin Moore’s Distant Gray.  We used a semi-gloss finish on it.

Dining Room: BEFORE

Again, the yellow and green colors were painted in here, all the way up, including using the green in the tray ceiling.


AFTER

What We Did

I should preface this with— this is what we did quickly last year, but this is not what our long-term plan for this room is.  My long-term vision includes a temperature controlled wine wall on that wall straight ahead.  The room would then evolve into a wine tasting room. More and more people are bringing their wine cellars up to the main floor.

Here’s what we did to make the room livable until that time.  We swapped out the light fixture for one I had leftover from the 2014 Harrisburg Symphony Showhouse.  The walls and trim are now both painted the same color, but the walls are in Benjamin Moore’s Aura Matte finish and the trim is Benjamin Moore’s Advanced High Gloss.  The color is Thunder.  The ceiling is Edgecomb Gray, which is a very nice neutral color, again leaning towards taupe. The ceiling color is used on all the surfaces above the crown molding.

The artwork on the one wall is all black and white photographs along with one of our favorite pieces of artwork.

Another grouping on a different wall includes various pieces we’ve picked up over the years. You can see we’ve mixed original artwork, prints, a mirror and even a piece that holds tea lights.  I picked up the zebra at a local auction.  His condition is not perfect, but I think that just helps with his character.

In the window nook, I placed a beautiful piece of furniture with vintage blue and white lamps that were from an Estate sale.  We seem to be collecting wine decanters, this ended up being a great place to display them.  As the wine collection is growing, so is the decanter collection.

We are happy to help you with any changes to help you turn a house into a home that is yours.

~Karen

Let’s Wrap This Room in Wallpaper!

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When you hear someone say “Wallpaper” what starts running through your mind?

It used to be when I suggested using it on a project (and I want to use it on every project) some of the responses we heard included…..

“Removing it is a pain”

“Oh, no! There’s only one room in our house left to strip and then we’ll be free.”

“It’s too difficult to install, we did it once, and we won’t do it again”

“Wait….Wallpaper is back in style?”

When I heard that last one, I always responded the same way…wallpaper never was “out”. Wallpaper is a luxury finish that many people have never stopped using because they never installed it themselves and they did not remove it themselves.  They only knew that it was gorgeous, added loads of personality & charm, it set the tone for the room, and made their home stand apart from their neighbor’s. Some papers add luxe texture to the walls that paint can’t achieve. And some are even more family friendly because you can scrub them more than a painted drywall surface!

I think those of us who are “a certain age”, remember when we installed wallpaper– there were the narrow trays on the floor with water in them that we dipped the paper into, only to have it come out sopping wet and stretched, which caused pattern matching to be impossible.  And when it came to removing the paper, we remember the spraying, steaming, and scraping to remove the old paper. And usually it came off in tiny pieces at a time. I remember removing wallpaper that was installed “professionally” using a spray bottle and a credit card to scrape it–it took this DIY-er weeks to finish.  I should have used the credit card to pay someone to remove it…but what did I know?….. we were young and full of DIY enthusiasm.

Here’s the big news….That is not the wallpaper that we use today!!

York Wallcoverings has developed a wallpaper backing that makes removing paper simple.  It is called Sure Strip.  You simply spray the back of the paper lightly to activate the glue, and put it up.  And when you are ready…you can peel it off the wall. Guaranteed.  And it comes off in one clean sheet.  Renters, Rejoice!! This paper makes a great option for those of you who are renting –which is becoming more and more of us these days.

When York first came out with this technology, not every pattern was being made in the Sure Strip, but now they have converted so many of the patterns over to this new backing.  So, check out your local wallpaper store and look for the Sure Strip label on the books.

Not only has the technology behind the paper changed, the patterns are also updated.  We are seeing the addition of metallics, textures, and rich colors to patterns.  Oversized patterns are being shown everywhere, especially florals.  This paper is from Ellie Cashman Design.

Another trend is the use of murals–many of these are customized to your specifications. This one below is from Murals Wallpaper.  Don’t be afraid to use an oversized pattern in a small space.  It makes the room feel larger, you will love the results.

We do receive a lot more “We trust you, let’s do it” when we suggest wallpaper these days.  We would be happy to help you pick out paper for your next project, just reach out to us!

~Karen