Monday, September 29, 2014

An old barn gets a new life!

Did you hear the news?? My 1850's barn renovation was featured on +houzz! This was one of my all time favorite projects because I felt like the barn really spoke to me! Have you ever had that feeling? It's quite surreal.

The Barn was tired of it's old ways and years of being a storage facility. But it had so much potential and it just begged me for a makeover!

Check out this BEFORE photo!

Before Photos by Exeter Interior Designers & Decorators Mandeville Canyon Design

So with much careful planning and thought, I set out on my mission to create a family-friendly space. I wanted a space that served a lot of purposes, so this wasn't going to be easy. I needed a mudroom, an eating area, and a comfortable gathering space for a family of lots of friends! Oh, and I can't forget the pets!

I also wanted color, lots of color! A bit unusual for a barn renovation, but I'm a designer that is not afraid to infuse color into my design whenever I can! And I think the end result is quite beautiful!


If you are a lover of breathing new life into old barns or buildings, then be sure to Click Here to read the entire article written by +houzz and see more pictures.

I love to see what other designers can create with old homes or old barns. In particular, I loved this feature from +1 KindesignClick here to read their article, 43 Fabulous Barn Conversions inspiring you to go off grid.

If your house, or barn is speaking to you, be sure to listen! Keep some of the old, but it's ok to refresh with some new.

Don't forget to read our feature article on +houzz! Just click here!



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Who doesn't like a good "BEFORE & AFTER"?

There is nothing more exciting for a designer than to see a room transform into something fresh, new and beautiful. Sometimes though, we are so entrenched in the details that we forget how far along a room has come!

Nothing speaks volumes like a good "Before & After" shot. It's like when you finally decide to color your hair a different shade, or go for that new style, and you walk out of the salon and everyone says "Wow, you look fabulous!" It's not that you didn't look great before, it's more likely that your new 'do freshens up your look and makes you look even better.

I highly recommend that before you embark on any interior design project you take lots of "before" pictures to show your friends just how far you've come! And of course, you'll need to take lots of "after" pictures too! 

Take a look at these BEFORE pictures of a bathroom remodel I recently completed. You will be shocked at how we transformed this bath into a stunning oasis.


Nice shower area, just needed a little updating.

Does this remind you of a bathroom in your house?

Now take a look at our AFTER pictures and you will wonder how my clients even get out of the house in the morning! With a  bathroom like that, I'd want to stay all day....turn the fireplace on, read a good book while luxuriating in the beautiful soaking tub...but I digress..!!


It can sometimes be shocking what new paint and flooring can do for a room! But the addition of this tub and the fireplace really make this bath something special.

I love adding a piece of furniture to a bath. It's a bit unexpected, but looks lovely while offering additional storage for the homeowner.

So long fiberglass shower! Hello, gorgeous tile! A special thanks to G & N Flooring for showing us just how fun tile can be! I love the mix of styles and colors chosen here.

All photos of the newly renovated bath were taken by Nat Rea
Talk about storage! I was lucky enough to collaborate with my good friends at PK Surroundings to design these gorgeous cabinets. They are so functional yet so beautiful at the same time!

 When it comes to bathroom renovations, the possibilities are endless. Style and function CAN work together! 

Until next week,


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Small Space, Big Design

I often hear friends and clients say they don't want to hire a designer for their small living room, or guest bath because of it's small size in comparison to the remaining rooms in the house. However, designing a small space is equally as challenging as designing a large open space.

Many homeowners don't know where to begin and find themselves buying the wrong furniture or artwork, or whatever it may be. And they are left scratching their head trying to figure out where they went wrong...the space either feels too cluttered or like the furniture just doesn't fit.

Trust me, it certainly takes practice, skill and a little leap of faith to design a small room. Just because it's small, doesn't mean that it can't be stylish, functional and serve a useful purpose!

+1 Kindesign posted 51 Inspiring small living rooms using available space. Be sure to check it out. The photos you will see will just about prove that everything you were doing to decorate your small room is all wrong! These beautifully designed rooms use all available space without making you feel claustrophobic!

Here are a few tips I like to keep in mind when designing a smaller room for my clients.

Embrace the space!
While your room may be small, it does have it's benefits too...I won't begin to mention the cost savings in heating, lighting etc. What I'm talking about is it's coziness. A room full of intimacy and charm.

Think about how you will use the space.
It's always best to plan ahead, especially in this case. Think about the functionality of the room before you begin your design. How are you going to use the space? Do you need seating areas, or is it a small bedroom? Do you need storage? If so, how much?

Furniture and Lighting.
You don't need to buy mini pieces because you are designing a mini space. But you do need to make sure your furniture is appropriately compact and that it 100% serves the function you need it to. Think of pieces that can perform double duty, like an ottoman that can also be storage. And clear furniture (i.e. coffee table) can work wonders! I used a clear table in this small cottage and I think it looks fabulous!

As for lighting....think lots of it! In a small room you really need to maximize the lighting because shadows and dark corners can work against you and make the space feel smaller. Think of multiple light sources and lots of lamps!

Paint and Color:
Don't be afraid to be "loud and proud"! Often times clients hesitate to use a bold color in a small space, but I say "Go for it!" As long as there is unity in your color scheme, a high impact color can work well. Use a glossy finish so that the light will reflect off the walls. Artwork is another way to add a statement. I tell clients that "bigger, is most often better when it comes to artwork" It will actually make the space feel bigger, where smaller pieces have the opposite effect and will tend to make your space feel smaller.

Wallpaper is another great way to make an impact and trick the eye into thinking the space is much larger than you think!

If you need more inspiration check out this post from +Style Motivation with great ideas for small bedrooms! Click here! They also did a great piece on functional and creative design for small apartments

You can also see some more of my design work for small spaces on Pinterest!

And remember small space CAN mean big design!

Until next week,


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Doing Good With Wood

I was lucky (and I don't believe in luck).  A canyon filled with dirt, eucalyptus, and assorted reptiles. An unobstructed view of the city of angels and a home filled with wood...wood floors, wood walls, and wood ceilings. Growing up here I was fairly sure that if God had a vacation home, it would be mine. 
Still am.

Like most people, I had no idea why it made me feel so comfortable, it was just home. I didn't know it could lower my blood pressure (what blood pressure?), reduce my resting heart rate (that sounds boring!), or relax my prefrontal cortex (can't relax something that isn't even developed yet, right?).
 But thanks to some nifty neuroscientific discoveries, what we knew all along was probably good for us, actually is.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Ester Sternberg in her inspiring book, Healing Spaces, The Science of Health and Well-being, speaks about the importance of bringing this essential element into public spaces such as hospitals and other places of care to help speed healing and promote cognitive health. 
In their book, Your Brain on Nature, Selhub and Logan engage in the dialogue about the importance that nature and, in specific, forests have on the psyche. Shinrin-yoku, known as Forest Bathing, has taken on international importance in places like Japan where down time is at a premium, but stress is at an all time high.

Photo courtesy of

Now, no one is saying we should replace the health benefits that are derived from being outdoors. The healing properties of cypress, the benefits of negative ions at the beach, the vitamin D of sunshine, but what can we do to supplement this in our own home? 
Well, it's easier than you think!

~Warm to the touch. When thinking about additions to your home, opt for natural wood table tops for dining and desks. The energy from the wood helps with focus and peace of mind. Tabletops (like people) only get better and softer to the touch with age (provided that they get loved regularly). Consider replacing your breakfast bar with a piece of live edge reclaimed wood. No better way to start your morning!
Photo courtesy of

~Look around and take stock of what already exists in your home. Chances are the answer might be right underfoot.
Don't discount the warmth, comfort, and convenience of wood floors. 
Photo courtesy of
Aim for a wood with the most natural elements and the least amount of chemical applications. Think water based poly for your top coat. Recycled and reclaimed woods are a wonderful option to keep wood out of the landfill and extend the history. 
We are currently remodeling our mudroom and using old barn wood for our shelving. When we bought our siding the vendor warned us that it might be troublesome wood because it had been removed from a barn that was thought to be haunted. We are pleased to report that our wood has been nothing but cooperative, and we do enjoy the idea of it having a life beyond the current.

~Surround yourself. Gone are the days of faux wood paneling, but very in is the idea of using wood on your walls. I have a client right now that is using horizontal plank barnwood loosely place so to allow Ben Moore's Van Deusen Blue to peek through beneath. The effect is stunning.
Here is the staggered look used on one of our favorite local cafe's, Good Karma
Photo courtesy of Good Karma Cafe, Exeter, NH

Ben Moore Historical HC 156

~And don't forget to look up. There is nothing as comforting as wood on the ceiling. I was at a house that a realtor was showing recently and she remarked what a joy it was to show this house. She had no idea what it was, but she would go out of her way to show it. She just couldn't help but want to be within it's walls. The moment I walked in, I knew what it was. The ceilings and beams were blanketed with the most beautiful, natural pine. You could smell the sweetness. It was like a big hug, the kind where you can rest your head into someone's chest and get a little rub on the back kind of hug.

For my barn reno, we knew the importance of maintaining the integrity and history of the space. It also just made sense that this family room would have that safe and protected feeling by keeping the surrounding wood.
photo courtesy of

And who wouldn't believe that this bedroom is absolutely dreamy with the natural wood canopy and truly inspired LED lighting nestled within.
Photo courtesy of

 Get outside, bath yourself in a forest or two and then bring the woods indoors. It'll seem natural.

For more inspiration, click here to link up to my Pinterest board and take dip in some truly soothing designs.

In good design health,



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tips for a stylish and functional Mudroom and Laundry

So, I have to admit my cleaning spree has continued into a second week, which for those that know me, realize this is a big deal. I have a small attention span for repeated tasks that seem to bring no lasting value, i.e; the kids just mess it up again.
We (read: my husband) has taken over the task of remodeling our mudroom/laundry room complete with tiling, barnwood shelving, and mega organizational items. This, I am convinced, will change our lives and certainly put us on the path to whole house organization, and at the very least has allowed us (again read: husband) to hone our formerly non-existent tiling skills.
I took the advise I would give my clients and made a list of: Must haves, Would Like to Have, and Dreams (this is where the indoor/outdoor shower complete with rainforest foliage fit it).
I figured it might be good to pass this list along and also take it as an opportunity to get it out of my head and onto paper!

 ~ Define the purpose. A mudroom is only as good as it's easiest entrance. The best laid mudrooms have become pantries because the kids had to pass easier entrances like the front door to get to them. Make sure this much needed room is attached to your garage or as close to the bus stop is geographically possible.

This bright and functional space is right off the garage. It practically requests you to hang up your coat and boots, especially if they color coordinate.

~A Place for Everything and Everything in it's Place. Your grandmother was on to something (and probably tired of picking up your stuff). Take an inventory of what you have and where it should go. Whenever we design a kitchen or bath, we have the client empty everything out before we design. They end up needed about a 1/3 less than they thought because it turns out stuff like the gardening tools don't need to be in the spice drawer.

This great system from Pottery Barn gives even the most hopeless of organizers a fighting chance!

~Everyone Accounted For? How many family members will be using the space? How much room do they need? Make sure you take into consideration that your 5 year old will someday be bigger than you (trust me it happens!) and a cute little bench now will have them eating their knees years to come. Plus the size of backpacks doubles from year to year.
Are there room for guests?
This dream mudroom from Peace Design respects both present and future company.

And don't forget the four footed friends. It's great to at least have a hook or two for our companions, but here are some fun ideas that are on my Dream List.

 Whether you just have a corner to devote or a room the size of a Manhattan apt (my current mudroom reno is the size of my first Manhattan apt), devoting some time to planning and organizing will keep you ahead of the clutter ahead.
There are some great inspirational ideas on both and Pinterest to help get you started on your own road to organizational paradise. Just click here to check out my inspirational board and get more fun tips! 

Happy Organizing!