The masculine study project is coming together!!

Sorry, I have been neglecting my blog the past two weeks. I took a little Fall trip to see my family at our cabin in the Pocono Mountains. It is so beautiful up there in the fall….I came back with some inspiration for sure!

My study project is in a home here on the lake but, very different than my house. The style of my home is more ‘lake cottage’ while, this one is a bit larger, on a heavily wooded channel, and it was built as a custom family suburban home. When designing a room, you have to make sure your are keeping the style of the home in mind. That is why we came up with more of a ‘masculine lodge’ look for the study, but my clients are young and pretty trendy, so we wanted to squeeze in a bit of the ‘Industrial Chic’ style they are drawn to.

Last night I stopped by to see the progress.

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The Chairs and Sofa have arrived but we have a lot more work to do!

Love those chairs by the way!!

 We definitely need to add color with throw pillows, need a new paint color and a new desk and end table…..and artwork!

We need to warm up those walls!

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On our Thursday meeting, I may suggest some of these pillows from Pottery Barn.

I love Pottery Barn pillows because they sell covers and inserts you can change with your mood or seasonally.

Anyone who knows me, knows I have many moods, so changing pillows is a requirement, in my world!

It gives an entire new look to a room.


We have some blank walls that need to be filled up.

I am thinking a antiqued mirror like this one over the console, flanked with some tall candlestick lamps like I specified in the last post.

I am holding out for an antique brass lamp with a black shade, so we haven’t ordered those just yet.

Some nicely framed memorabilia and a map of Gull Lake were also discussed.


We did order this coffee table last night instead of the black ottomans.

The clients had originally wanted one or two large ottomans in the center of the seating area but, we compromised on this table, which I think will look great and add the rustic quality they like.

Imagine some books stacked on top about Sailing and Golf…..after all, that’s what living on Gull Lake is about!


We also talked paint colors.

The common area of their home is Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter, so we wanted to play on that a bit…..maybe a few shades darker?


We are thinking about going a few shades darker with Benjamin Moore Squirrel Tail, because the room is large, bright and needs a cozy grey to warm it up.

The beige that exists now needs an update and, the trim desperately needs to be white, to give the room some depth.

I also chose a few other similar colors and we will put samples up to make the choice.

This room gets lots of light, and I have found that this is the safe way to choose a color.

Every color is different and the same color can look different in two separate spaces.


The desk that exists now is too deep so we are going to need a smaller desk.

The client has had his eye on this one from World Market, so I am hoping he decides to go with it.

Well, off to shop for lamps, pillows, paint and artwork!

I cant wait to share the next steps in the project with all of you!


Client’s Masculine Study Project….

A few weeks ago I was commissioned for  a Study project.

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This room has great bone structure!

High ceilings and lots of light with new hardwood floors!

It is a blank canvas!

I am so excited to see the transformation!

My client loves a mixture of modern and traditional. He has also expressed some interest in throwing a few industrial looking pieces along with a deer antler or two. I am off and running with ideas.

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These are some of my inspiration photos.

My vision for the space is painting the walls a darker gray or blue color because the room can handle that kind of drama with the ceiling height and large windows. We will take down the formal drapes and move the chandelier to another room to make make room for a new light fixture.


Maybe an Antler chandelier like this one?


We chose a rug from pottery Barn and it came in last week. The clients love it and so do I! Just need a rug pad…Perfect start!

This photo actually makes me think we keep the table as his desk….maybe paint it? Or do a gray wash?

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We ordered a sofa, two chairs and a console. The console is here….I will see it later today. So Excited!

It is all very neutral so we can add color and character with accessories, lamps and pillows.

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Today, I am going to present them with two of these ottomans in the seating area, and a lamp option or two….I am thinking brass….envision a library lamp?? I like these from Ballard Designs because they are 40″ high and give us the height we need but need a better shade, for sure. Gotta love Suzanne Kasler! I used to wait on her quite often when I worked in a high end Interior Design shop in Indianapolis….She has fabulous taste!! OK, back to work,  Maybe an apothecary lamp for some task lighting by the sofa?


We are going to talk desk chairs, today as well. My client has some specific thoughts on what he wants for his desk, so hopefully I can come up with a good fit. Wish me luck!

I know right now it looks very black and neutral, but those are just the basics of the room….color is coming!! I promise!

I can’t wait to show all of you the finished project!


I am a big fan of “Upcycling” and/or using what you have in your home to redecorate a bit.

“Upcycling” is basically taking something you would throw away and making it new again.

Maybe that means re-using it for its original intent or, re-purposing it, to make it something else entirely.

This inspires creativity and it is easy on your wallet so why not have fun with it?

This time of year always gets me motivated to make a few changes here and there….maybe some big changes too, but with my daughters activities, we don’t have tons of time right now to take on huge remodeling projects. We usually save those for the dead of winter when we can’t enjoy the lake.

So this past week, I wanted to update a few things.

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I began with these pictures.

When I bought them 12 years ago, I was in my ‘English Country Phase’ and they were cute botanicals.

I do remember they were kind of pricey because, back then I thought you had to spend more to get a high end look. I have had them in every house we have lived in but, now I am just over it!

They need to change…..

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I will reuse the frames and rip out the old print! Hmmmmmm? New prints or photos?

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Oh yes!

I bought these vintage ‘Paint By Numbers’ this summer for a total of $8 at an antique store… they fit?

Sure do but, I need to add matting….off to Hobby Lobby I go!

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So excited!

They look great!

It cost me $8 for the paintings I bought in July, $3 for the matting and it took me 10 minutes to change them!

Instant new art!

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Don’t they look great?

Next item on my list is this wall in my Family Room…..I need to do a Wall Collage here I think?

I hate this big blank wall that faces the lake!

It is just screaming for something fun here.


I have an old oar, the sign you see, some old photographs I can display and maybe a wall shelf?

Gotta start brainstorming….

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I need a porthole mirror to reflect light? or a clock? Or a vintage sailing poster?

Love me some Pinterest for ideas!

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I do have these old postcards that I ordered off Ebay?

Vintage Gull Lake and happen to be from the camp that was on the very spot where our house stands!

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I know I can work them in but they are going to need frames….off to Hobby Lobby again!

I think I may have $18 in each framed postcard plus a piece of local history!

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They look great, but I need to do a bit more shopping.

I am obsessed, by the way, with these barn wood frames.

This is the third time I have used them in my house. Each one is so different and they look so vintage!

Love them!

Off to do some more Upcycling……Lets see what I can come up with for this room?

Falling into place….

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Today is cold and rainy. The leaves are turning finally here in Michigan and I am drinking my favorite tea, as I type this and I have a yummy pumpkin scented candle burning. It is just the kind of day where you want to stay home. This is my favorite time of year. It is nature’s last hurrah before things get cold and ugly. I feel like autumn reminds me every year, like spring, to relax and enjoy the little things in life. I walk my dog more. I bake with my daughter more. I look forward to being outdoors more because I know, its gonna be darn cold here soon! Every year during this time, I also start redecorating….my husband says it is like clockwork. It drives him crazy! I do have some small projects in the works, which you will hear about later, but today I want to share with you, my fall decor.

I absolutely love Halloween! My daughter and I start planning what she will be months ahead of time. This year, she and the puppy have a theme, as usual. Hysterical! I cant wait to see it! Last year, she was Bat-girl, her dad was Batman (he is such a big kid), the puppy was a bat and the cat was a criminal. It gives me great joy to come up with these themes…..see, Autumn brings me such pleasure in the little things!

One of the other small things, is Fall Decor. I love to decorate my house for all of the Fall holidays. I think I started decorating for Halloween a month ago?

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Here is my mantle. My daughter is obsessed with the spider webbing…..for the past five years we have done it together! I know it makes a mess, but I can over look it for the pure joy it brings us to put it up each year.

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Normally, I hate spiders! I actually did not want to put any of this out the first year we were here, because when we moved into this house it was covered in its own community of huge spiders! Thank god for Exterminators! But, it is fun for my kiddo, so we put it up together.

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I also like to just take natural things from the outdoors and bring them in, like these pine cones and this bowl of acorns, and place them on various end tables. Or, fill glass containers with candy corn, and mix with bowls of chestnuts on my kitchen counter.

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In my family room, the focal point is the TV, so we added a little Fall decor above it….My kiddo is also obsessed with Owls, so she has added those here and there.

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We like to add a spider in an unexpected place too! Who would expect it under the glass of my Mackenzie Child’s Cake Stand in the Butlers Pantry, lol? Kind of gross, right?

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This year we expanded beyond Spiders…..and I two years ago when we moved in, I never would have done this! This house had enough Spiders and Critters, but I thought it was cute. My daughter loves it too….it makes us giggle every time we walk up and down the stairs, so it is worth it!

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And that is just a tiny bit of what we do inside….outside is full of Mums, Pumpkins and Gourds, too!

Happy Fall!

I am all about a budget….

Have you ever heard of “Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget”? Basically, that is the story of my life….

My husband is an “Obsessive Saver” and, when let loose, I can be a “Big Spender”. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, when choosing between two things, I will always pick the more expensive one.

It is the cross I must bear! I gravitate towards a ‘high end look’ or product every time but then, reality sets in.

There is a very small percentage of people in this world where money is never a consideration….I am not one of them and probably, will never be. So, my reality is how do I get the look without paying the price?

Ever since we purchased our first home in 2000 and began that remodel, this question has led me to find creative solutions. The most positive of all the solutions is that my Hubby and I have become die hard “Do It Yourself”-ers! We have made it a hobby, which is totally not for everyone, but for us, it works.

So, when we moved to this 1960’s Fixer and, the kitchen had to go, we knew we could do it!! But, as with all projects, it came with a very strict budget from the Hubs….Boooo!

Well, that is what I always say at first. After the initial shock wears off, I always see it as a challenge…..and funny, I always end up using my creative abilities to keep costs down. The kitchen project was probably my biggest challenge to date in all of our homes and the budget I am most proud of.

We did it over a period of 6 months, performed most of the work ourselves and paid cash for everything.

First came the unexpected initial cost of tearing down the drywall. The old drywall had been skim coated with plaster around the old cabinets, so it was more cost effective to have it all redone. This cost plus, the initial tear out of the floor by the contractor, cost us $1300. Money well spent and boy, were we happy we did that! That opened Pandora’s box of electrical issues, so the Hubby rewired the kitchen before the new drywall went up. We replaced all the insulation too, after we found a few critter dwellings….Grossss! Then my contractor came, put up new drywall ready for us to paint. We knew we could physically put up the drywall, but would rather not finish it. In our previous home when we finished our basement, we learned that drywall is something you leave to the professionals. It saves you time and money in the long run!

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Then we installed the new hardwoods which saved a ton of money! We researched installation online and rented the flooring nailer from Home Depot. One weekend of our time and a fabulous flooring sale only cost us about $470. Golden!

The next big expense were the cabinets. I did tons of research on this and had a very long list of requirements. I went to three major home Improvement stores and bid the kitchen. Home Depot came in at the lowest price with the best value.


The funny thing was, I had this Martha Stewart inspiration photo from Pinterest (above) that I was carrying around with me everywhere. Home depot carried the cabinets and I could actually afford them?!?! The stars were aligned. I was so impressed with Home Depot’s kitchen designer, Brian! He threw in a few ideas, I had not thought of, and we came up with a great design. Above and beyond that, the Martha Stewart Cabinet line came standard with so many requirements on my list.

My two main concerns, ‘Quiet Close Drawers and Doors’ and ‘Pull Out Drawers’ in the base cabinets…..Got it! Done!

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Check out the above picture. I have those pull out drawers on both sides of my oven for pots and pans. Organization! Woot! Woot!

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All three corners of the kitchen have tons of storage now. I love Martha’s Lazy Susan. I have had one in each house we have lived in, but, other cabinet companies, like Merillat and Aristokraft, have plastic shelves which start to collapse under the weight of canned goods. This one is all solid wood and looks pretty too!

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Martha had fantastic drawer choices. The one under the microwave is perfect for my daughters dishes and cups….totally self service! The other ‘Drawer in Drawer’ action holds utensils galore along with my cutting boards and knives, right next to the sink.

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I got a pull out Trash and Recycling cabinet which, was a must for someone who has OCD and hates to look at a kitchen garbage can. Love it!

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We even made our own tray cabinet on a budget. We just ordered a 12″ base, and installed the wire tray dividers you can buy for $15! We saved about $75 on this cabinet alone.

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For the rest of my serving platters, we ordered an extra shelf in the refrigerator cabinet for $20. It is crazy deep and, turns out, I needed it for all of those serving trays.

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I really did not want standard upper cabinets. I wanted my kitchen to have a custom look and, I think I achieved it, with installing the cabinets on top of the counter top. I added the glass cabinets stacked on top of the 42″ wall cabinets, for display. We saved on the glass cost by getting ‘doors cut for glass’ and then, using Plexiglas instead of real glass. I saved about $300 by making that small modification. Does anyone know they are not glass? No!

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My husband installed all of the cabinet lighting after we pre-wired for it during the electrical rough in. I also could not seem to find pendant lights I loved and, this being a remodel, I had to leave the pendant lights in this spot. There was no option to hang them over the peninsula… the wheels started turning. I made my own pendants out of Ball Jars, as seen on Pinterest. Minimal money was spent…..about $30 total. Do I like them? Yes! Will I have them forever? I like to change things up way too much for that but, they will do for right now!

The back wall of the kitchen has become a focal point. When we first moved into the house, my father in law told me not to look at the kitchen, just turn around and look at the lake view in the opposite direction. Now, when I look into my house from the deck, on the lake side, I love the kitchen view!  The focal wall left the rest of the kitchen walls open….just what this 1980’s dark oak kitchen needed.

So where do you think we are on cabinet cost? When I look back at the Hubby’s spread sheet, I can barely believe it myself! $6150!

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And that price includes knobs!! Lets talk about that for a second. This is an old lake house and I want it to have charm and character. I always look at knobs for cabinets as “jewelry”….maybe someone said that to me once? I don’t know? But, I do know, I hate things to be “matchy-matchy” and contrived. When I chose my knobs, I did not just choose one style, I chose three. I really think this gives the kitchen more character, that it has evolved over time, rather than just your standard ‘Builder grade’ kitchen that is in every new suburban home.

Next came appliances. We knew that we would save if we used what we had and really, the dishwasher and stove were in great shape, so we kept them. All we needed was a larger refrigerator, hood fan and new built in microwave. I got a great deal on the fridge because I had time to wait for a sale while we remodeled. Frankly, I struck gold on Black Friday! I knew I wanted the largest refrigerator money could buy and, I planned my kitchen cabinets accordingly. I am not a fan of “counter-depth”….it sacrifices much needed space inside the fridge, so why not extend the cabinet out? I also sold the old one on Craigslist which kept costs down and afforded me more money for the budget.

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The microwave was a counter top model, plus a trim kit, to give it a built in look. Why spend the money on a ‘microwave cabinet’ if you are not going to trim it out and make it look finished? Notice all of those different knobs working together in that photo, by the way….who says you have to match everything?

The hood fan was a bit tricky but we did our research and ordered it online. We installed it ourselves and saved there too.

The total cost for all three was $1630….pretty much the cost of a mid range refrigerator and we got all three just by taking the time to shop it!


The next piece of the puzzle was the counter top. For this kitchen, I really considered wood at first. I thought we could install it on our own and, it would go great with my lake house theme. Well, after discussing the logistics nightmare with my contractor, and my husband, and asking about 4200 questions, I wimped out. So then, I went to price the ‘Carrara Marble look’ in Silestone or Quartz….very pricey! This lead me back to Granite. I found a great fabricator and picked a slab they had in stock for a very low price. The dark gray will still allow me to have the marble on my back splash. It really was the best option and, the install will allow me to have that apron front stainless sink that I have always wanted! Deal done! $3800 plus another $800 for the sink, faucet and plumbing done by the contractor.

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The last step was the back splash. I bought all of the tile and supplies at Home Depot. We laid out a plan and away we went. We have done other back splash projects in other homes. In my opinion, every kitchen should have a back splash. It adds so much to the character of the space and makes your space unique. Since I did not have upper cabinets, we only tiled two rows plus a trim piece on two sides of the kitchen, which saved a ton on cost.


The focal wall got tile up to the hood fan and a river rock mosaic that kept with the coastal theme. The back splash was so simple but, adds so much to the overall design.

So, the kitchen remodel is complete. Now it’s time to be shocked by the numbers!

On average a Kitchen remodel with new cabinets etc. will cost around $30,000.

Mine cost $15,000 total!!! I cut that in half…..Champagne Taste on my Beer Budget plus what I learned along the way was priceless!

The Land of Ugly Kitchens….

When I moved to the Detroit area 7 years ago, I was shocked by what I saw. Every existing home we looked at was over priced, outdated and beyond that…..OAK! There was Oak trim, Oak floor and Oak Cabinets. I think prior to this, I may have had a nightmare about this exact situation. Here is the deal, people….this was 7 years ago!!! Am I still seeing Oak? Yes!! Does it bring me back to 1991? Yes!!

We bought a spec home with Cherry Cabinets, because at that time we had a two year old and did not think we could handle a remodel. Years went by and I met a neighbor who had just relocated to Ann Arbor from Atlanta. She was sharing her house hunting horrors with me and I think she asked the best question, “Why is Michigan the Land of Ugly Kitchens?”. Of course, I laughed but really, there is no reason it should be. Maybe its just the Detroit area….but no, when we moved here to the West Side, same problem! OK, Grand Rapids is Furniture City and full of Interior Designers!! Get With it people!!! And then my best friend from Indy moves to the Detroit area two months ago. She calls me immediately and the first question, “What is up with the Oak? This is not OK!!” So, my mission is to get rid of each and every oak kitchen one by one….Just Kidding! But, this leads me into the story of our kitchen remodel…..

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When we bought this house, I fell in love with the view….the rest was cosmetic and had to be changed. The kitchen…..gutted! In the pictures it really doesn’t look terrible, although I noticed photos of the kitchen were never displayed on the MLS listing. Also, excuse the cat…we had just moved in and I figured she was probably cleaner than the kitchen counter itself, so she got to sit there. Let me just give you a brief overview of what we had……

Cabinets that were from the 1980’s that were greasy and dirty with 72 layers of shelf paper

Very few cabinets were deep enough for plates….kind of an issue…and all three corners were dead space

Live electrical wires above the cabinets were hanging out of the wall….why leave it like that?

The walls were originally drywalled but someone skim coated plaster after the cabinets were in place….hot mess!

A dishwasher in the corner of the kitchen….I am not even going to try to guess why?

Tile counter tops with oak trim laid over the laminate counter….talk about thick! Oh, and they used 12×12 Green and White fake Marble floor tile! Why not?


The same sweet Green Marble on the floor….Yesssss!

Enough said!!!

I was not cooking in this room… this became our first project. We moved in August and by September we were gutting it!

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The happiest day of my life when the Hubs is starting to rip it out. Oh! But we hit a snag! Layers upon layers of floor….we had to call in the contractor for assistance. He happily tore it all out in 2 hours, cabinets included!

Looking better already!


And how were we living with out a kitchen?? It was pretty rustic….almost like camping! (Sorry, the cat is very photogenic…she likes to be in all pictures)

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The more we opened it up, the more we decided that we needed to remove the drywall as well….


It was a good thing we did because, we found electrical problems galore plus a few bonus critters mainly dead in the hood fan!


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So the weeks went on and we worked like crazy along with our contractor, who did the drywall and plumbing.

I went to Home Depot and collaborated with the designer there and we came up with a fantastic and cost effective design.

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My husband and I painted the walls and laid the hardwood floor ourselves. The floor was not my dream wood floor but it matched the rest of the house so we went with it. This was our first time laying hardwoods and I have to say, it wasn’t bad. I am thinking we will probably rip out the rest of the carpet in the house and put it in all the bedrooms to keep things consistent. Did I mention I don’t like carpet? Or that I don’t like 42 flooring breaks in a house? Yes, I have lots of opinions…just wait!

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By Christmas, it was starting to come together! We installed all of these cabinets ourselves as well. Thank the lord The Hubby is handy… saved us thousands on installation costs. We did keep the Kitchen Aid Gas Stove and Dishwasher. We bought a larger refrigerator and notice that cabinet above where the refrigerator should go….Doors with glass?? That was a mistake by the cabinet company but they sent me new doors. A lot of silly little things like that happened through the process but you just have to take a deep breath and roll with it! It will all get fixed.

I did have to concede on my dream granite to keep costs down. I wanted the white Cararra Marble look, but marble in the kitchen is always a bad idea for function. The granite that looks like Carrara is pretty pricey. Then I went to wood, but it made me nervous (I did get that in a later project though). So, I did a dark gray that isn’t common and got a great deal on the slab.


But, the backsplash is all Carrara Marble Subway Tile with a river rock inset over the stove. I worked it in and am happy. My Hubby and I did the back splash too….so proud of our skills!

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By St. Patrick’s day of 2012 the kitchen looked like this!!

I could not be happier with the outcome. I got everything I wanted and more. In my mind it is still not totally done but, I am sure I will blog about all the little tweaks here and there in the future. Some have even taken place since these photos were taken. The kitchen is truly the heart of my home now and I am so glad we chose this project first. Next time, I will have to tell you about our budget and how much we spent….you wont believe it!

How much do you think it all cost??


“Renovation-aholic” is my term for what this house has turned me into. Let me give you some background….a few years ago, my husband and I were going through a pretty tough time personally. We were living in Ann Arbor, and we needed a change. I had no idea what that change was, but one day, I had an epiphany! I wanted a boat!! Water is the best therapy, right? On a boat you can get closer to nature and we are a family that loves the outdoors…we grew up on Lake Michigan…and that’s what we needed! Water! Around that same time, my husband was offered a job in Southwest Michigan, so off we went to find a house on a lake. Well, after lots of research, I learned two things…..

1) A lake house is never going to be your standard two story colonial suburban home

2) they can be very expensive the larger they get

So, I find the perfect lake….really, its the best lake in Southwest Michigan by far. I fell in love with the area first! Now I had to find a home within our budget and make it work….I can do this! I am a designer who can transform anything, right? Well, we searched and searched but were very limited in our price range and knew no matter what we had to renovate. My hubby and I are known to be “Do-it-yourself” er’s so we also felt like we could take on a project of this magnitude because in the end we hope to actually gain sweat equity…..the last few homes we have had were new and there was not much equity left when we moved if you know what I mean….our new motto, never buy a new house, always renovate!

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So, eventually we found this 4 bedroom 2 and a half bath 1961 Lake House on Gull Lake. It has some great bones and we knew we could shape it to what would work for our family. The photos shown in this post are all before pictures. The pictures dont do the house justice. They were all taken when the house was occupied….but when we saw it, no one had lived here in quite some time. In my future posts I will share with you my journey on the renovation…still ongoing….but I am never satisfied because, I believe design is always evolving. If I hung a picture up on the wall and left it for 20 years, it may date itself, right? My grandmother was the perfect example of that….her house looked like the “Leave It to Beaver” set until she died 9 years ago. I have an entire blog post on her home but that is going to have to wait until later….I have too much to say today about this Crazy lake house idea I had.

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Looking back, two years later, this was the best project that we could have taken on. Everyday, we discover something new that needs our attention, but we have the beauty of the lake and woods that sounds us. The inside of the home is getting there and that’s OK, I am working on patience with each project still. This house has taught me about what we can do together as a family, how to relax and have fun, and how you don’t need the largest most expensive home to be happy. I love my 2200 square foot lake house. Downsizing has had its challenges but we use 80 percent of the house….when we were living in 3500 square feet, we used maybe 50 percent. (And I don’t have to clean all that square footage! Woot! Woot!)

The most “shocking” thing that has come out of this entire experience is My Hubby and I take the summer off from renovations! We never used to stop home projects during the summer but, our time outside on the lake seems to take precedence, which is has been great for our family!


Summer on Gull Lake can not be beat, that’s for sure!

Welcome to my new website!

I am so excited to share my new Website and Blog with all of you. I have an Interior Design obsession and am so lucky I decided to make this my career so many years ago. I love working with people, space planning, using my creativity, and making every clients home a personalized retreat just for them.


The quote above is from  Elsie De Wolfe, who is historically known as the first Interior Designer. She could not have said it better!

So, as you read my future posts, you will get to know me and my personal style.

I plan to share with you what is happening in my own home as well as my clients, some resources and projects!

Design is a process of evolution and I believe its never done……I can’t wait for all of you to take the journey with me!