Making My Ugly Fireplace Pretty….

This morning, before I left for my studio, the sun was shining on my newly renovated fireplace and I took a few quick pics and thought I would update y’all on my latest home improvement DIY.

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When we moved into the house almost five years ago now, the kitchen and the fireplace were the two things I hated the most. The kitchen was torn out in the first 4 months but the fireplace was kind of put on the back burner…yes, it was ugly but we had to remodel the kitchen and master bath and paint and the list went on and on…..I mean there was a whole lotta Hunter Green tile…Ick!!!

So, I worked around it and lived with it (and its green tile)….then this summer we had a stone mason at our house for the exterior job. He inspected this fireplace and really recommended we tear it down. Yikes!!!! We are land locked on that side of the house with our neighbor plus the roof was built around the chimney. HUGE undertaking!!! So we went around and around in our discussion….and finally we were all in agreement we could repair this old guy. I mean it is pretty cool….this old field-stone fireplace does add to the cottage look….so instead of getting a new one and throwing tens of thousands more into this house, we will repair and rework it.

Demmo time!!!!




Can you imagine how happy I was when we tore off that old oak mantle? I was literally jumping for joy and…..surprise! We found photos of the old homeowners from the ’90’s who put it in! How fun is that? I always wanted to find keys to the past in our house….but I was just not thinking it would be in such the recent past. Either way, it was fun! And one of the pics had the father and daughter standing in our great room with all of the walls torn down to the studs….so that’s when the drywall was replaced?!?!?


Demmo was complete and my stone masons got to work to raise the hearth for me with a bit of limestone. They took off the doors and raised those too so it made a bit more sense. Yes, we lost a few stones and we broke a few in the process, which was sad but luckily, my yard was full of field-stone when we moved in and we still have some left even after the landscapers built retaining walls with most of it. They took a couple from the yard and worked them back into the face of the fireplace.


After a week, the dust settled and they guys left us with this. The mortar is still wet in this photo and the doors were still off, but it was still an improvement!



Now, it was our turn to build the mantle. I, of course, came up with the design and my talented husband built me what I wanted. He has become such an amazing carpenter….and I think he loves it as a hobby! I hit the jackpot ladies!!!


We added Car Siding to a focal wall in our family room and we thought we would repeat it over the fireplace. When my new sectional, chairs and entertainment cabinet get here I will post about that project we completed over Christmas….stay tuned.

I really just wanted to keep the mantle simple. Our dining table sits in front of the fireplace so I wanted the mantle to draw your eye up the wall above the table and also break up the long expanse of wall on that side of the room.


Here is the finished product as the sun came up over the lake this morning and streamed in the windows. Once my new table arrives you will get the full view. I think we did the right thing by keeping the old stone and altering/repairing the old girl. This fireplace was part of the original structure and hopefully she will be sound enough to last for may years to come.



Historic Bath update!

Last summer, I began to transform my Westnedge Hill Project. I was there with the client in the spring when they looked at the home with their realtor initially and I have loved it from the first time I set eyes on it!

The home is a 1914 colonial in Kalamazoo’s Historic Westnedge Hill neighborhood. The house also has historical significance because it was built for the local  prominent Gilmore Family as a honeymoon cottage. The previous owner left the house in pristine condition and really respected the historic features of the house.

My clients absolutely fell in love with the house and how comfortable you feel as soon as you enter. They even moved from a much larger new construction home outside of town where they had a typical Master Suite….This master bedroom did not have an attached bath! Huge issue but they loved the house.

The master bathroom is across the hall and is the only bath on the main floor so it also has to be used for guests. Below is what it looked like the day we looked at the house with the realtors.

Ridge Road Before

We loved some of the historical elements but the original claw foot tub had been removed and the shower had been remodeled about 20 years prior. Who doesn’t love that sink, though??? I think about how much people pay to get a reproduction like this and here sits this pretty sink with a beautiful crackle aged finish!!

Unfortunately, when the claw foot tub was removed, so was the gorgeous marble hex tile and instead of matching it, they put in this white ceramic hex that did not match up….it sickens me to say this but we had to redo all of the flooring!! And since we had to that….should we rip out the shower as well to open the space?

My wheels were turning…..


We needed to keep the historical elements that remained in good condition like the built-in with original knobs, sink and original medicine cabinet.

Carerra Marble choices

We knew we wanted to make the bath look like it belonged to the home, so we chose a Carerra hex for the floor, including the shower, and added a matching subway to chair rail on the walls which is very classic 1914. We took the shower wall tile up even with the window to draw the eye up and make the space seem larger. We painted the walls a warm gray for contrast.


The clients wanted to keep it simple and we really did. We opened the shower with a glass enclosure and my genius contractor came up with a way to attach the shower head to the glass.


The existing historic faucet on the sink was a bronze and the original plan was to try to match it with antique brass fixtures. Unfortunately, The sink faucet fell apart with age as it was removed from the sink so we had to entirely replace all of the faucets but we special ordered Newport Brass fixtures.

Gorgeous with the marble! Brass is trending and in this house, it is also historically correct!


We also added a fan light over the shower that looks like a simple can light and appropriate antique brass sconces on either side of the medicine cabinet from Circa Lighting.

So what do you think?

Just a little transformation…..





Finally The Wall Lake Cottage is done!!

The Wall Lake Cottage is done and open for summer fun for my clients! I have learned so much on this project. The main thing I learned is respect for anyone who is a General Contractor….not that I did not have respect before but, now I know what they go through. When we began this project in the fall, we were naive enough to think we didn’t need one. As the months wore on, we learned a few lessons and the project grew a bit in scope. Its funny because I spent months on construction and just a few short weeks filling it to make it pretty. From now on….I want to stick to the pretty!!

So back in the fall when we began, this is what this place looked like….

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The previous owners looooooved Navy Blue! The trim and cabinets were all navy….yikes!! I like Navy too but this was not done correctly as you can see.

The first thing we did was decide on a color scheme. My client and I chose a soft blue green called Stratton Blue by Benjamin Moore for the cabinets and the rest fell into place. Below are the initial concept boards I came up with.

OB-Wall Lake Cottage Family Room OB-Wall Lake Cottage Bathroom OB-Wall Lake Boys Bunk Room

We decided to accent with Coral because it compliments the blue perfectly and add in warm grays as our neutral because that is the color of driftwood.

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We chose a laminate floor to lay throughout the entire 1200 sq. foot house (except the bathroom) to make the space seem larger….plus it is easy care for a lake cottage.

We painted the entire cottage, besides the cabinets and bathroom, white. It is crisp and clean….and really opens the space!

So, are you ready to see the end result?

Lets start with the Kitchen because this room is in the center of the house and contains the color we began with.

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We kept the 1950’s solid wood cabinets. We also kept the stove but got a new range hood and refrigerator. I did have to shop a bit for the fridge to make sure it fit under the cabinets and when I found this Maytag, I knew we had to have it with the stainless handle. It has an updated vintage vibe.

I bought the wood butcher block from Menards and had my carpenter cut it on site and install it. The sink is from Ikea and the faucet is by Moen. That cutie coral striped rug is by Dash and Albert, which is a must have for any lake cottage.

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The light fixtures are round flush mounts that mimic nautical lighting but not in the cheesy sense….I just bought these from Home Depot. We have low ceilings and wanted to keep them tight to the ceiling to make the space seem more open…..especially since this is the center of the home.

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The knobs are all mixed, as all kitchen should have! There is nothing I hate more that a kitchen with 52 of the same knobs!! The drawers are nickel cup hooks, the doors in the kitchen are glass knobs for the vintage appeal and the doors on both built in units have stainless ship cleats purchased from a marine supply company. Mixing up your hardware just add to the character of the space.

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So whats next? Lets reveal that living room…..

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It made a pretty cute transformation! We had a white blank canvas to work with. I ordered this slip-covered sleeper sofa from Pottery Barn in Textured Linen for a comfortable relaxed look. The rug is a chenille and jute from one of my rug lines that is super soft on the toes.

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The tables and pillows also came from a few scattered lines I carry at AHID. The reclaimed map of the Great Lake was done by a local artist in Kalamazoo. My client was the one who found him….and this is my favorite thing in the room!! I just ordered one for myself too! What a talent!

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The sconces were replaced with new nickel outdoor lighting from Home Depot. I love these sconces and why not use exterior wall lights inside a lake house?

The fireplace and mantle made the biggest creative transformations.

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The old fireplace was two different kinds of brick that by no means matched. We had to paint it or cover it. I chose to paint it and keep the budget down. I tried to explain to the painter what I wanted and she wasnt getting it, so to keep this project on track, I just dove in and painted it myself! I got on Pinterest, found the look I wanted and followed a bloggers tutorial. I wish I remembered who because I would totally give her credit! It turned out great! It was just white-washing with the right amount of wall paint (which we already had) mixed with water and a rag technique.

The mantle was just a solid piece of wood….kind of non-descriptive. My decorative painter was at the cottage one day dropping off a table and suggested I put barn wood up there.

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Months later, we bought a few 100 year old barn boards and my carpenter showed us how talented he is.

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He skinned the old mantle and it turned out beautiful….like it was here all along!

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Right off the Living Room is this cute little porch addition. The windows face the lake and this small space leads you right to the water. I guarantee that this is going to be my clients favorite spot in the house.

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We decided to put another sleeper sofa in here for overflow guests as well. This little 1200 sq. feet can sleep 10 if you can believe it!! This sleeper sofa is also from Pottery Barn and slip-covered in Texture Twill Metal Gray.

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The ottoman actually belongs with a PB chair we are still waiting for. Both are covered in Pottery Barns new Performance Awning Stripe, which is actually an indoor outdoor fabric. Dont you want to curl up on this sofa with a beer and relax?

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I also added a sideboard with board game storage on the opposite wall. The sideboard and all weather wicker arm chair are from World Market. A couple more pops of coral in the lamps and accessories to tie all the rooms together.

Off the living room is a tiny hallway that leads to the master bedroom and only bathroom.

Look at this hot mess….


I just found the before photo of the bedroom and need to share it!


It is a tiny bedroom, but we kept it simple.

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I kept the same color scheme in here as the living room, kitchen and sun porch. Just pops of coral but I went a bit further with the dresser and artwork to add some fun. The Client needed to have a queen bed in here for comfort sake, so we were very limited on space. The bed is from Ikea and so is the floor lamp. The bedding is Pottery Barn.  wall lake 9

My decorative painter found me this cute antique dresser and painted it coral….she thought I was nuts when called her and told her the color, but loved it all when she came to deliver it. I am so glad I took a chance and went with my gut. wall lake 36

I think this room made quite a transformation, don’t you?

Across the hall is the only bathroom in the cottage. This room was in terrible shape and had to be gutted. Lets look at the before again… actually looks better in pictures then it did in person!

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We put up new drywall and replaced the 3 foot shower stall with a 6 foot tub. I kept the decor very simple and just painted the walls Rockport Gray from Benjamin Moore. The shower curtain is a basic white. We had extra space left over in the corner after the shower was installed. My carpenter built me floor to ceiling shelves and skinned them with white laminate for easy cleaning.

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The vanity is from Home Depot. It is all white with a white marble top to add a bit of luxury at the lake. The light fixture is Murray Feiss and the faucets are all American Standard. The anchor towels and rug are all from West Elm.

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I kept the flooring very simple with standard white hexagonal tile sheets from Home Depot. I used a darker grout to match the warm gray in the driftwood flooring throughout the house. I did this for two reasons…I hate white grout (who wants to keep that clean?) and I wanted the tile pattern to stand out and add interest to this tiny bathroom.

On the other side of the house, just beyond the kitchen, are a few other rooms.

Lets start with the small dining area. Its so hard to imagine that a few months ago, this is what it looked like….seriously only in my nightmares!

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We started with a white blank canvas again.

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Then, I found this cute table and chairs from my super talented decorative painter, Becky at Urban Revival. The chandelier is from Pottery Barn. The table accessories are World Market. The rug is still on order and is just a simple braided jute.


Off the dining room is the clients boys Bunk Room. Above is what it looked like before. Man, did these people love an oak ceiling fan too!

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The room has two sets of bunks decorated in more primary red and blues. The sheets and bedding are Tommy Hilfiger. This room got closet doors, which were in the attic? and we carried the driftwood flooring in here as well.

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Becky painted these cute side chairs as well….this room is so close to the dining area, that I made sure there were extra scattered for visitors. If we can sleep 10, then we need to seat 10 to eat, inside and out!

The last room has made the biggest transformation. This is the laundry room, and also how you enter the house from the garage. Check out that before….

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Yes….that is a stack-able washer and dryer in the middle of the floor. Yes, they are draining into that hideous sink. What are people thinking????

We ditched the sink and my awesome carpenter from CE Squared Construction came up with a solution. What do you think of this????

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While he was solving my laundry problems, he also made this useless coat closet into a mudroom directly across the room!!! So talented!! I love how this turned out.

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Check out the Before compared to the After….

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The seat opens up for storage and the coat hooks are boat cleats straight from the local marina.

I think these clients are officially ready for summer in Michigan!!

Thanks for visiting my latest project. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

It’s been awhile….

I know its been a long time since I posted….. I have been busy busy for the past few months and now need to get some of these projects out there to share!

I decided to take advantage of this snow day to work a bit on my neglected web page.

 I took on a large project in the fall for an existing client. This is my first time acting as a general contractor and I am learning as I go on this small 1200 sq. foot Wall Lake vacation home. Finally we are getting toward the end of construction with tile, appliances, trim work etc. going in….its almost time for finishes!

I have some idea boards that I have made for the client that I would love to share first and then as each room is completed, I will update you.

I have quite a few projects in the works right now and my photographer is on call to start taking official photos when they are complete.

The Wall Lake Family Room

  OB-Wall Lake Cottage Family Room

The Wall Lake Master Bedroom

OB-Wall Lake Master Bedroom

The Wall Lake Bathroom

OB-Wall Lake Cottage Bathroom

The Wall Lake Sun Room

OB-Wall Lake Sun Room

The Wall Lake Boys Bunk Room

OB-Wall Lake Boys Bunk Room

I promise to update with more soon!!

2015 is going to be a very exciting year for AHID as I continue to expand and offer new services.

I am now beginning to offer E-Design Services.

Stay tuned for details.

Update on my Master Bathroom Reno

Today, we leave for a much needed Spring Break family vacation but first, I wanted to update you on the progress of our Master Bathroom Renovation.

It has been a loooooooong winter here in Michigan and unfortunately, we have had some set backs on this project and it seems, every other client’s project too!

I have been playing the waiting game a lot lately.

All of my current clients are waiting on painters mostly so we seem to be at a stand still….my own house is no exception!

Today we are waiting on plumbers actually but, after I arrive home, I am hoping to wrap this project up.

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Does everyone remember how ugly it was before?

Pretty basic….and pretty ugly!


So, first things first, we did demo! My favorite part!

We busted up all the tile, which was no easy task because it was porcelain.

Typical of this house….lets spend the max on the ugliest tile we can find so the next person that wants to change it has a heck of a time.

Do I sound bitter?

Its been a long 2 1/2 years remodeling this house!

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We tore out the floor, shower floor and vanities.

It got even uglier before it got better but, thats pretty standard on any renovation.


I bought Penny tile for the shower floor and Carrara Marble for the bathroom floor and shower surround.

Love it!!!

So excited to get it all installed!

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I also came up with a plan to eliminate the white grout that drives me crazy on the existing subway tile we kept.

The white grout would drive me crazy when cleaning the shower.

I decided to dye it gray and go with gray for the entire tile project.

Easier said then done….would I do it again?


I am a perfectionist and my picture should be on the side of the bottle with a line threw it…..crazy, OCD Interior Designers need not apply!

I may have even gone over the edge one afternoon and busted out the niche to add a bit more penny tile just so I did not have to dye the grout in that area.

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It took us a few weekends but, we laid the floor tile and the shower tile.

We went with a hopscotch pattern on the floor which really widened the small room.


I also decided to add height and character to the wall we would install this paneling from Home Depot. I really wanted Ship Lap siding but my tight budget would not allow for it.

I found this product instead and decided to hang it sideways.

It looks fantastic!!!!

It looks exactly like ship lap for a fraction on the cost and for such a small space, it only adds 3/16″ to the surface of the wall.


The paneling is painted Behr Ultra White, as is all the trim in the rest of our home.

We painted the walls above Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, which really makes the gray veining in the marble floor pop!

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The grout is finally all gray and the marble floor and surround are in!

The shower door is on order and I look forward to using the shower soon!


We installed medicine cabinets to add extra storage. Unfortunately, we could not recess them because the wall behind them is load bearing, but I think they turned out fantastic! They really add the character we were looking for.

We did have to put up the old lights….maybe temporarily? Maybe Not? We have limitations on ceiling height that is making it a challenge for me to find new fixtures I actually like….stay tuned on that one!

It may take some time!


Last night, we installed the vanities and that brings us to where we must wait for a plumber. In order for the bottom drawers to close on both vanities, he needs to move the water shut off valves a bit. It has been a slow process of trial and error and, ups and downs this last two months but, I am really proud of the way it is turning out.

We still have loads of trim work to do and a few faucets would be good but, we are getting there!

Up until this point, My husband and I have done all the work ourselves too!

What a a great feeling of accomplishment!



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?

Halloween Mantle

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!

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??

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!