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My BLOG has moved!!!

I'm very excited to announce that my Blog has moved to my new website which can be found here:

Once you're on my new site, click the Blog page.  My new blog platform is super user friendly which should result in more blog postings!  If you would like blog posts emailed to you, please subscribe on my Blog page here.

Don't miss all the new portfolio pictures (like the one above taken by the talented David Burroughs) on my Portfolio page.

Thank you!


Our Kitchen Renovation, Part 2 of 2: Creating Our Sanctuary

Your home should be where the chaos of life is left at the door.  A place where you can relax and rejuvenate.   Creating a cozy, warm and pretty place to live is not about decorating styles but about creating an environment that includes items you enjoy and are important to you such as collections, special photos, antiques, or whatever makes you happy.   I also believe comfortable furniture, simplicity and order, and natural light are so important.

We are thankful that this year we were able to turn the first floor of our home into our sanctuary by completing a major renovation.  We are beyond thrilled with how it turned out and would like to share the results with you.

Our kitchen looked like this before demolition.

The picture below doesn't look like much but for us it was major progress.  A wall had come down, five new windows were added, and all the plumbing and hvac work had been completed.

Here's why the space below has turned into our sanctuary…the simplicity of the design, the addition of natural light,  and the addition of quality finishes, materials and workmanship.  We installed cherry wood inset cabinets by Dura Supreme.  The upper cabinets have glass to reflect light and display our glassware and pottery dishes.  The seeded glass pendant lights by Visual Comfort, sparkle and compliment our rustic design.  The custom roman shades and drapery panels by my workroom add color and softness to the kitchen.  The creamy 4x8 subway tiles are installed to the ceiling and were handmade and have slight color and size variations which adds subtle texture and interest.

The natural slate floor reminds us of the outdoors. 

Below are the 35 year old disintegrating cabinets that needed replacing.

Below the opening to our dining has been moved to the left.  This simple move lead us to rearrange our dining room furniture making the space much more inviting and cozy.

Below is the finished opening leading to our dining room.  The bookshelves allows us easy access to our favorite cookbooks and a place to display pottery we've collected over the past twenty years.  The new layout of our kitchen has greatly improved its functionality.  People no longer walk through our "work triangle".  We added a lot more storage, so serving dishes and kitchen appliances are no longer kept in our basement.  We also added a larger stove and an extra oven so cooking for large groups has become a lot easier.  The new counter height "live edge" table below was custom made by David Stein Woodworking.  We like the combination of the steel base with the natural look of the oak top.  David dropped off the table right before Thanksgiving, just in time for a large family celebration.

I do like symmetry, so the fact that our chandelier wasn't centered on the opening shown below always drove me nuts.

We took down a section of the wall, replaced four sliding glass doors with new windows that match the rest of the house, and continued the slate tile from the kitchen into the dining space.

Adding unique one-of-a-kind pieces, such as the custom table below and live plants was important to us.

We worked very hard to have our home furnished and decorated for the holidays.  There's nothing like throwing a party to motivate you to get things done!  Below are pictures from a recent holiday open house we hosted to celebrate the season and to thank the people who helped us turn our house into a sanctuary. 

My beautiful niece and her friends were a big help!  The rum punch was popular (here's the recipe.  If you make the punch, don't skimp on the steps and fresh lime juice is a must!).   In addition to wonderful food provided by family and friends and the oysters shucked by my husband and Dave (one of my favorite carpenters), Tastings Gourmet Market in Annapolis provided amazing cheese platters, hot smoked salmon, gourmet sandwiches, and more.

I do what I do because I love to help people transform their homes into their sanctuary.  If you would like help turning your home into one you love, contact me.

Happy Holidays!



Our Kitchen Renovation, Part 1

It still has not sunk in that we are renovating our kitchen.  I've been planning this moment for a long time and now that it is here, it doesn't seem real.  Even after four weeks of our family of four and our new puppy living in our master bedroom and eating frozen and carry out meals (with the exception of once a week getting a wonderful home cooked meal at my in-laws house...thank you Bill and Carol!), it seems like a dream.   We renovated our house five years ago which included new windows, new portico, some walls taken down, new bathroom, and exterior stone work, and more.  But a new kitchen was not in the budget until now.  

We bought our home 14 years ago.  Within a month of closing on our house, we covered up the yellow linoleum with grey linoleum (a good tile lookalike), replaced the green perimeter counter top with a light grey laminate to coordinate with the existing darker grey island laminate, and painted the unattractive builder grade cabinets cream and "weathered grey" and upgraded our appliances.   You'll see a picture of it later in the post.  It was a quick, cheap fix that worked for many years.  But we've become tired of fixing broken cabinets, looking at chipped laminate and paint, and our appliances were starting to fail.  Plus there was also a desire to upgrade our kitchen's finishes so that it worked with the rest of your home.  

So we dusted off the architect's plans from five years ago and started the design process.  The design process started the same way I start many client projects…reviewing inspirational pictures.  I have collected 1,000s of photos from magazine photo libraries, Pinterest and Houzz  and searched them for kitchens and finishes that I really like for our home.  I probably saved close to fifty images for this project alone.  I like so many different kitchen styles, but when deciding on a kitchen style,  I feel it's super important the kitchen design speaks to the architecture of the home and the lifestyle of it's inhabitants.  I also wanted our kitchen to be classic and stand the test of time.  

Below is an image that I come back to all the time.  I love the white inset cabinets, the mix of glass and solid doors, the creamy marble counter, the mix of wood island with white cabinets, the wood floors, and generously scaled pendant lights.  I thought for sure our new kitchen would be a close cousin to this one.  

Here's another kitchen I've admired for some time.  I like the white cabinets, shelving for dishes, herringbone wood floors, and the dark island cabinet finish.  We have black accents through out our home, so I liked the idea of having a black island.  The mix of counter top materials was interesting, but most of all, I really like the La Cornue stove and vent.  The mix of metals on the oven and vent is sophisticated and beautiful plus it's a go to stove for serious chefs.  We've always had a pot rack hanging over our island which we didn't want anymore but I've liked how they displayed the pans on the walls for a working kitchen feel so they are easily accessible.  

Well, after admiring these images for many years, we have decided to go into a completely different direction. As much as I like white cabinets, I felt they would be too stark in our home.  Plus Abbie, a newfie puppy and recent addition to our family would ensure they would have to be cleaned daily.  Abbie looked like this in December…

Here's Abbie at seven months and with a lot more growing to do.

It became obvious wood floors were not practical considering our family's pet choice.  Plus we are messy cooks.  One of the tougher decisions we made was not to use marble for the counter tops.  We are one of those families who usually doesn't change our filters timely, so sealing a countertop was guaranteed not to get done timely either.  Also, Abbie is a champion counter surfer, so basically we opted for an almost indestructible quartz counter top.

So our kitchen is going to look most similar to the kitchen below with some adjustments.  This particular kitchen won Kitchen of the Year by House Beautiful in 2013.   Like this kitchen, we've opted for inset wood cabinets, natural tile floor, Ceaserstone counter top, and creamy white walls.  There are several differences too, such as we are not doing a hanging pot rack, and our countertop will be much lighter.  I want our kitchen to be cozy but also reflect lots of natural light.

I really like the painted interiors of the glass cabinets below.  The plan is to paint the interior of our glass cabinets a light color too.  

When you consider the picture below of the front of our house, I think you can see another good reason why we went a very different direction with the kitchen design.  The warmer, more rustic feel of the kitchen fits the style of the home.

As much as I love soapstone countertops or honed black granite countertops, our flooring choice lead us in a very different direction.  Once I saw this natural slate tile, I couldn't consider anything else for our kitchen and dinette floor.  The grey/blue and orangey brown colors worked great in our home and it brings an outside feel to the inside of the home.  The manufacturer says the stone has significant "color variation".  I've also chosen to install the floor tiles in a random pattern for even more variation…a bit scary, but I feel this floor is going to have some definite personality, in a good way!  But because the floor is going to be lively,  it's the reason I've kept everything else in the kitchen very simple…one finish for the cabinets, a creamy light countertop and creamy tile backsplash.  

I have a lot more to share on finishes, lighting, layout, appliances, etc but it'll have to wait for another post.

Dry wall started getting installed this week and cabinets get installed next week so it'll be moving quickly over the next few weeks.  But in the meantime, I'll share a few before pictures and progress pictures.  

Here's what our kitchen looked like right before demolition.

Once they took the wall down behind the stove, I knew immediately, we had made the right decision.  Our kitchen had very little natural light.  Below you can now see the natural light pouring into the space.

The picture below may not look like much but it is amazing the amount of work it took to get it to this point.  Five new windows were installed to bring in as much natural light as possible.  Our stove and vent will be centered between the windows on the far wall.  The new opening on the left leads to our dining room.  All new electric was put in.  The plumbing was significantly reconfigured so we wouldn't need bulkheads anymore.  The HVAC was reconfigured, so much so, we decided to move to a two zone system, which was not part of the budget.

Below you can see three windows were installed.   These windows are centered on the existing bay window on the front of your house and the opening from the dining room to the kitchen.  The idea is that you would be able to see our back yard from the from the front of the house.  An architectural feature that I'm a big fan of.  Our sink will be centered on these windows.  We also pushed the windows out an extra 8" to give the kitchen a more expanded feel in that area.   My architect, Jeff Gallaher, suggested we do this, and he was completely right.

When you enter our house from the front door, you walk down a hall and see this room ahead.  It's always bothered me that the opening was not centered on the light fixture or the back sliding glass door.

Here you can see we've fixed this by opening up more walls and we replaced four sliding glass doors with new windows in our family room.  It took a heck of a beam to accomplish.  The white slab door on the left leads to your back yard and is temporary until it's replaced with the door below, which will be stained the same color as our front door.

Here's our new back door to be installed soon.

Manor Construction is our builder and they are doing a fantastic job.  They do quality work and are keeping the project on schedule.  Around The Clock Plumbing, Brighticity, and Bay Area Mechanical did a ton to make the plumbing, electrical and HVAC work with the new layout.  These companies are professional and quick.  Permit inspections were a breeze.

I hope you enjoyed the information I shared and find it helpful in case you're planning your own kitchen renovation soon!

Have a great day!



American Craft Council Show in Baltimore is THIS WEEKEND!

So much has happened over the last 12 months!  It's all good but it's been crazy busy so blogging has taken a back seat for some time.

I'll be catching up on posts soon but wanted to send a quick note about the American Craft Council Show that takes place this weekend in Baltimore.  Last fall the ACC approached me to see if I would be interested in taking part in their Make Room exhibit.  This is where four designers are given the opportunity to transform a 12x10 white box into a room that highlights artists work at the show. I had just made the tough decision to not submit a design for the 2015 DC Design House.  I decided that I would be insane to do it again this year with a new puppy, our own kitchen renovation and a crazy amount of work.  So the ACC show seemed like a manageable project with set up and tear down happening in less then a week.  Plus I have been a huge fan of the show for many years and was excited to be part of it. 

Part of the Make Room process is that the designer gets to select the arwork they would like use in their room.  After reviewing about 25 pieces I knew immediately I wanted to design my room around Michael Bauermeister's "Cloudy Towers".

Michael was inspired by a cloudy day on the Missouri River bottomlands that surround his studio.  The contrast of the towering clouds with the row of trees at the river's edge provides a powerful focal point for the space.  I wanted Michael's piece to be accentuated while the surrounding space provides a luxurious backdrop with a sophisticated mix of textures and finishes.  The ACC also asked that I design the room based on the element of "Air".  So I used glass, acrylic, lucite and a throw that mimics owl feathers in the design.  I also found a pretty bamboo silk rug from Stark Carpet that reminds me of swirling wind or air.  Here it is with some fabric samples I'm using in the room.  

I also chose this wood accent chair from The Phillips Collection to add curve and wood grain to the space.

 Below are pictures and the illustration of my room that ACC has been using for show promotion.  I'll share more pictures of the room after the show.

I highly recommend you make the trip to visit the show at the Baltimore Convention Center this weekend.  There are over 650 talented artists selling their work.  It is also an excellent opportunity to find one of a kind items for yourself and your home that you will treasure for a long time.  And please stop by the Make Room exhibit.  I would love to see you!

Have a great week and hope to see you soon!



DC Design House and more...

It's hard to believe the tour of the DC Design House starts this coming weekend!  My room was completed over a week ago.  The "press" gets access to the house before it opens to the public.  After lots of snow and hard work, over 35 spaces have been transformed in under 5 weeks!

The entire house is looking amazing.  I highly recommend you check it out.  It's guaranteed to provide you lots of inspiration of your own home.  The tour runs from April 13th through May 11th.  During the week the hours are from 10-3 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12-5 pm.  You can find more info here.

Old houses have lots of character but they also come with lots of issues.  Every room required tons of prep…including mine.  The plaster walls were in pretty poor condition.  Check out the old water damage below.

Luckily, my super talented painter, Peter Hawes, knew exactly what to do to make the room look like new.

I have to say that the support from the other designers and trade folks has been amazing.  Here's TJ, with Ibby, cleaning my windows for me!

Here's Dee with Deelight Design completing my red banding stripe.  Dee is a super talented decorative painter.  This project was an easy one for her but I wanted her to do it since it had to be just right.  You can check out her amazing portfolio here.  She has to be one of the nicest (and talented) person I've ever met.

I'm really pleased with how the striping turned out.  Dee ensured it's perfect, which on plaster walls is no easy task.

Dee gave me the great tip of using Goof Off for cleaning up old paint spills.  This product made the clean up so easy.  I highly recommend you get some!

Skip Doda, with Severn River Carpentry, did a great job on my radiator cover and custom seat in the dormer.   

Another great tip I received was to use Museum Gel in my room.  I'm using it in case folks who want to touch things won't accidentally move or break them.  The Museum Gel keeps breakables safe and in place.  What a great product for your home, especially if you have kids and pets!

My guest bedroom is on the small side.  In fact, there wasn't a place to fit a dresser, so luckily, Closet America, built me one in the closet!  Here's the before picture of the closet.

And here is how it looks now.

The top drawer protects your jewelry.

I recommend Closet America to all my clients.  They offer great quality custom closet solutions for a good price.  This month they will be transforming a client's garage.  

During the DC Design House tour, most of the items in the rooms are on sale…art, furniture, accessories, lighting, rugs, and more!  A portion of the sale goes to the Children's National Health System so you can feel good about donating to a good cause too!  

Here are some of my favorite items for sale in my room.

For sale, lavender and fern scented candle in brass container.

For sale, fun books such as "Parisian Chic".

For sale, bubble glass ceiling fixture.

For sale, "Chesapeake Girl" by the talented local artist Rick Casali.

For sale, "Female Torso" sculpture by Rick Casali.

For sale, custom twin headboard and pillows using Victoria Larson fabrics.  Also, for sale, bedding from the gorgeous bedding store, Isabellas, located in Charlotte, NC.  You can shop online here.

If you can visit the DC Design House, please let me know when you're going.  I will do my very best to be there.  Hope to see you!

Work on client projects continues too.  Here's a couple in-progress iPhone pictures of a home I've been working on for a few months.  When it's complete I'll share some proper pictures.

New pillows for the bedroom.

A new New Zealand wool runner with canvas banding was just installed.

It hasn't been all work and no play!  For my mom's birthday, her friend, Pat and I took her to the Philadelphia Flower Show and Barnes Foundation Museum.  If you like to garden, the Philadelphia Flower Show is a great place to visit for inspiration.  Here are a couple pictures of floral displays that are "Calder" inspired.

Another special treat was visiting the Inn at Little Washington with good friends.  My girlfriends and I usually go on a girls trip each year but this year we opted for an amazing culinary experience with our husbands instead.  The Inn is one of the top restaurants in the country and was a real treat.  

After our three hour dinner we got a tour of the kitchen.  They have someone who cleans the brass and copper every night!  I'm now inspired to keep my kitchen a little bit cleaner.

It was so much fun to find out that the london-based interior designer, Joyce Evans, who designed the interiors at the Inn, had her design illustrations framed and placed through out the inn. 

If you love good food, I highly recommend you add dinner at the Inn at the Little Washington to your bucket list.

Have a great week!