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

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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

Time to Cozy-Up the Bedroom!

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We are seeing cooler temperatures here, so it is finally beginning to feel like Autumn in Pennsylvania.

Photo from Visit PA website

One of the seasonal changes around here is to make the bedrooms even more cozy.  I only make a couple of changes to get bedrooms ready for the cooler months.

I take the down comforters out of summer-storage, clean them and slip them into duvet covers.  I found a very light weight duvet cover from West Elm, that is made from Tencel.  It feels like silk.  It is not heavy at all, but with the down comforter inside of it, we will be warm and toasty this winter.

To read more or purchase this duvet from West Elm, click here

Adding a chunky textured throw blanket is also another way to add some of that coziness to the room.  I wish I could knit because this would certainly be on my DIY To-Do list!

Image from Pinterest

If you don’t have curtain panels in your bedroom, consider adding them. The added texture on the walls makes the room look warmer, and they will help keep the cold air out.  I tell all my clients they might be able to use ready-made draperies.  There are so many great resources out there.  I’ve had the best luck with JCPenney, sometimes they do need to be hemmed, but the bang you get for your buck is fantastic. Below are two pictures showing the same room before and after the addition of ready-made drapes. The room looks more cozy and the space also appears larger since we hung the panels as high as possible. It’s an amazing change.


Adding a real or faux fur rug on the floor is another addition to your room that makes it cozier.  Placing it next to the bed certainly makes getting up in the morning a little easier.

Ivory Sheepskin Rug from Pottery Barn

Consider wallpaper. No, it’s not a seasonal change, but one that will make your room cozy all year long.  I think the right wallpaper in the bedroom, whether it is on one wall or the entire room will certainly set the tone for a restful retreat that you can enjoy every day.  Wallpaper has come a long way.  You may still be stinging from removing wallpaper that was installed in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s.  But check out York Wallcovering’s Sure Strip paper.  It is easy to install and it will come down in one sheet when you are ready.  Here is one of my favorite patterns, by Carey Lind Designs.

For more information on Sure Strip and to see all the patterns, click here

Background music is important! You can easily place a small bluetooth speaker on your nightstand.  Adding music to a room has never been easier.  So many great choices are available from Amazon, Target, Best Buy, etc. Look how small this one is!

 

Finally, don’t forget your sense of smell.  My favorite candle is from Capri-Blue.  The favorite scent–Volcano.  I wish you could smell it.

Capri-blue Products

If you have any questions or need help with getting your bedroom ready for the cooler nights ahead, please reach out to us. We’d love to help!  Here is the current state of my Master Bedroom…


~Karen

From Christmas Wreath to Winter Wreath

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I used to hate to take down the Christmas decorations.  There was something about the glow from all the lights that I wanted to continue on forever.   But this year, I was ready to get it all cleaned up since we have so many projects going on here in the new house and putting everything away was the first step.  Of course there might be one or two gold reindeer out still out to give the Winter decor a boost.img_3133

One thing I have always struggled with was the wreath on the front door this time of year.  It is such a narrow line to have something on the door that looks Wintry but not Christmas.  But, I think I’ve got it this year!

This year for Christmas, I purchased a natural green wreath that was preserved.  I had it on the door, but from the street it looked just black.

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So, I added in some pinecones, old picks for texture and some gold balls to help reflect the light.  That did the trick.

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Here’s a view of it from further away

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To transform this wreath into a Winter Wreath, I removed the picks and balls, and I added silver and white branches.  I also had an old wreath on hand with branches that had little pieces of hard plastic on them–I assume someone thought these looked like ice crystals. So, I tore apart and added those to the wreath also.

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Voila–a Winter Wreath

Rethink your own holiday wreath before tossing it out, maybe you can extend the life of it a bit more by just simply removing some of the Christmas elements, and adding in some branches.  Either you can use branches from your own yard and just paint them.  Or, run out and grab some from a big box store because they are on sale now!

Happy New Year to all of you!

~Karen

We’ve Moved….again.

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I am so sorry that I have not been blogging.  I cannot believe that the last post  I published was in March!  I will be making an effort to update this blog more often.  I guess we need to recap what has been happening since the last time I posted.

First of all, that bathroom that I showed you in the last post ended up winning The 2016 Best Bath Contest from Susquehanna Style. What an honor!

Read the Article Here

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On a personal note, Phil & I decided that as much as we loved the house we built (that inspired this blog to begin with), we really wanted to downsize.  And this would also be an opportunity for a new project.  After house hunting for a very long time, we finally found something that checked off a lot of our boxes.  And the funny part about the new house is that it is in a neighborhood that was not even on our radar!  I will certainly post about the progress we make on the new house.  We have many ideas, and a very long wish list.

But first, I thought you might like to see one last look at the old house, empty.  Funny, with nothing in it, it really did not feel like “ours” any longer.  I must admit, I miss this kitchen very much.  But you know I am already planning my next one…emptyhouse-kitchen-1

emptyhousekitchen-2emptyhouse-kitchenemptyhouse-brkfstrmemptyhouse-fremptyhouse-officeThe above photo is my office.

emptyhouse-lremptyhouse-mbremptyhouse-guestrmThe photo below was taken on the morning we left.  The sun could not have been more beautiful in that hallway.

emptyhouse-hallwayI hope everyone is getting ready for the holidays.  We have done our best to deck the halls here.  Somewhere in this house is a box with our outdoor lights and decorations.  But we can’t find them.  This is all we have done to the outside of the new house.  The door color is wrong…the paint store did not match the color correctly.  It is supposed to have a little more orange in it to make it a warm yellow, but it is too cold out now to fix it–so we will wait for next Spring to do that!

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~Karen

Sweet Bathroom Renovation

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I thought you would enjoy some pictures of a bathroom project that was recently completed for a client. The house is a 1920’s home in Hershey, the Sweetest Place on Earth. We wanted to marry the new materials and modern amenities, such as large shower and double vanity with the home’s history and architecture. I think this turned out fantastic.

The mosaic floor is such a great focal point in the room.  We used this same hex shape on the shower floor, but in a small black tile, and notice the hardware on the vanity–hex knobs.  The subway tile is not flat, but rather it has a wavy texture to it, really giving a nod to the period of this home.  The mirrors are framed in an un-lacquered brass. The lighting is fun, with the red cords.  We needed to make the space a little fun, it is the bathroom used by the clients’ young boys.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

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FullSizeRender 10IMG_8047 2~Karen

Can We Talk…About the Budget?

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Nobody likes to talk about “The Budget”.  I think clients are afraid of revealing what they are willing to spend on a project because they are afraid we will just spend it all. While this might end up being true, the reason we ask this question is that we need to know what we can buy for your project. It is our job to get you the best product for your budget.   If you have $4,000 to spend on a sofa, but you tell us you have less than $1,000–we may shop at Ikea for your sofa.  It may look nice when it arrives, but you will be receiving something that is not the quality that you imagined.  Be honest with your designer!  Even the client who says, “I can do $4,000 but will be happier if we keep it around $2,500” will end up having a better experience.   Of course, if your budget is $1,000 for a sofa–we will make that budget work!

Sometimes a client won’t answer the question about their budget, but will say, “I don’t know, show us what you want to do and we’ll see if we want to pay for that”  (We’ve heard that a lot.)  This puts us in a bit of a bind–we may end up spending hours searching for products.  After we present the options to the client, they  tell us that they love it, but it is not in their price range. Unfortunately, we still need to bill the client for those design hours spent researching.   So, when you are asked by your designer what your budget is, just answer the question to the best of your ability.

We can do something with most budgets, but the results will be completely different for each one.  Be careful when comparing the different levels.  Remember to compare apples to apples when comparing products. Below are three examples, Medium, Med-High and Low budgets.  The West Elm sofa, the Lee Industries Sofa, sold at Crate & Barrel, and the Ikea sofa are all velvet sofas, but they are different price points and very different quality levels.  The old saying is true: “You Get What You Pay For”.  If a client has a low budget for the space we are doing, and wants it completely furnished, we cannot suggest the Crate & Barrel sofa for the project even though it’s the better sofa.  We will need to use a sofa that is more budget-friendly for the client.

Here are three Design Boards in the different price ranges.

Medium Range

The Medium budget items are from Pottery Barn and West Elm.

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Medium-High Range

The Med-High is a mix of middle & high-range custom and trade-only items.  The trade-only pieces are what will set your design apart from other rooms. It is very important to remember that the “Med-High” can escalate quickly and can become tight if the client is looking for high-end antiques & upholstery, etc.


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Low Budget

The low budget is based on pieces from Ikea.

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**Items not in this chart include wallpaper, paint, installation, shipping, labor (electrician, painters, carpenters), special treatments on furnishings, etc. all of which can add thousands of dollars more.

When a client tells us the budget, we aren’t judgmental.  There’s a lot of thought that goes into how we can get them the best room for the money available.  At times a client will tell us they want high quality, a quick timeframe, on a small budget.   We have to be honest and explain to them that for the amount of money they are allowing, they’re not going to be happy with what products we will be using to stay within their budget and timeframe.  It’s The Golden Triangle at work.

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Part of our job is to educate clients, and I feel that is what we do in these situations.   In these cases, we typically recommend that we create an entire plan that the client will be happy with and one that can be implement in phases.

In my own home, we are able to do things for less by going to consignment stores, flea markets and by sourcing on Craigslist. We also do everything ourselves, we want a certain level of quality with our items, and we are usually not on a tight timeline.  We are able to save money but it takes a lot of time.  If we do this for a client, the amount of money they would have had to pay us for our time to find an item at a consignment store or auction, pick it up, and have it repainted or reupholstered would have considerably increased the cost and possibly make the item not even worth it.

We like to use vintage items to stretch a budget and add personality to the project.  If you are willing to do projects yourself and shop for vintage pieces yourself,  you can really stretch your budget.  If you don’t like to do these things yourself, paying a designer to do it isn’t necessarily going to save you any money because you will be billed your designer’s fee, but it is going to give you the mix of old-and-new. The results are going to be great, and you will end up with a space that is uniquely yours.   It’s a valuable service and worth paying for.  Our clients are always happy when we use a good vintage find for them.  It’s something that they never would have chosen or found themselves, and yet it is the item that makes the room special!

What do you think about talking about budgets? Are you a straight shooter, or do you dance around the topic when the designer is asking?  Just remember, they only want to help you get the most for your money.

~Karen

Insta-Tszuj!!

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Just updated our website! We are now offering a really fun new service:

INSTA-TSZUJ 

We are so excited to announce the launch of our newest service.  You can spend 8 hours with one of our designers and a design-assistant shopping and making your home go from nice to FAH-BU-LOUSSS!

Check out all the details here!

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So, what are you waiting for?

Let’s Get Tszujing!

~Karen