Thursday, February 26, 2009

Twin Nursery

Oh, this could be the longest post ever. I'm sorry. See, it's a bit more than just a 'post'. It's a baby nursery for some special babies. See, I'm a twin and guess what? Okay, saying this doesn't really get old at all . . . . My Twin is Having Twins! Yup, two girls! Kim lives 7 hours away but I made several trips and did LOTS of work in between the trips in order to pull off her nursery.

I'm really trying to edit all this but also want to show you everything as we both worked really hard to get this room as over the top as we could! Ha! She's been trying to have a baby for only 8 years so please just follow along on our whim . . . . Oh, I should also add that I have 2 boys so as soon as I heard 'girls' my mind got busy!
Okay, here is the bedding she picked. This is of course where it starts--fabric. Note a few things as I am the queen of Altering! The window valance came with the bedding set but was not interesting enough for us to use. The mobile is adorable but doesn't everyone have it mounted on the crib on the plastic arm thing? Can't have that! Ha! The sheets are cute but with the bold bedding, we decided they were really too busy. But we don't waste! So as you see the room, look for these things as they were all used, just not as they were supposed to be!

Here are some before pictures. Painted room! We got the cribs put together and moved in all the shower stuff and started piling all we needed. Lots of fabrics, ribbons, canvases and stuff! The cribs piled full of more stuff! A white rocker that our Mom found at a yardsale for $30. An outdoor metal shelf that Kim painted. This is what we started with and had many projects going and nothing done!

Cribs are made with cute and fun bedding (notice we used a solid sheet, so much easier to look at don't you think?) and now we need to make the room match the bedding! It is time to WORK! Kim's 8 year old daughter (she also has a 10 year old son) delivered drinks--how cute is she?
I shopped where I live and sewed a ton before arriving for our busy weekend! I wanted to pull the flowers and fun colors into the window and here is what I came up with! We decided to have fun with ribbon too so that is what we used for the tieback. Kim loves pom pom trim so I had to work that in. I showed Kim an inspiration picture for this but didn't let her know exactly what I was doing so that I could surprise her and she loved it!

I don't know if I need a better camera but I can NOT take a picture showing you the entire room. But it's not a huge room. It's a 4 bedroom home and this room is closest to the master. The door, closet and window are all on different walls and the only complete wall has the door opening onto it so it ended up TIGHT! We really struggled with the crib placement and everything traditional did not work. After a couple creative ideas that did not go over well, I put the cribs back to back and finally we all sighed with a bit of relief. It's certainly unique! It's tight on the left side of the crib but will work really well! Next was to create a great focal point for the cribs and Kim saw a picture that inspired this canopy! Here is the basic mobile but off the plastic arm and hanging in the center of both cribs on lots of ribbon!

Next, I must sew something to jazz up that boring white rocker. I have some pink fabric left, those crib sheets we didn't use, that valance that was cute but too boring for the window, some sheer window panels I saved from my old house and some green polka dot fabric that I bought. Here's my fabric mound. By the end of the sewing project which took way too many hours, my back was killing me and I never wanted to sew ever again, but we were all thrilled with what I created!
Here are pictures of the room put together!

And some details! Kim painted the canvases and then used uppercase Living for the words. It is a bit surreal to see my name in their room and I am honored that 'baby B' will be named after her aunt, ME! She also painted the shelf and the dresses will be replaced with christening gowns one day soon. I used the same flowers that are on the window topper and these are on a tiny table to the left of the cribs in the corner. She had some Southern Living at Home items sitting around and rubbed paint on the wall art to tie it into the room and I added ribbon to the door buckets for a bit of color.

Do you think she's ready???? These pictures were taken 3 months before her due date and LOOK at all she has? She has great friends and had fabulous showers!

I can't wait to meet these baby girls and will share that with you once that happens!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

A kitchen rebuilt after a devastating fire

Here are a few 'before' pictures of my friend's home that was hit by lightning almost 2 years ago.
They were blessed to at least, in this situation, have a clue and somewhat of a plan! He is in the building industry and he and my husband Jim worked together on jobs at Disney Long, Long ago. As I mentioned in my 'before' post, they had basic plans drawn of a home they wanted to build someday and they have a relaxed, Italian style which led them through their design process. It's so much easier to plan a new home when you know how you want to live in that space and visually how you want it to feel and they had this pulled together from the start.
When the plans were given to me from the first design phase, the kitchen had a large L shaped peninsula. It was just too 'builder grade' for what they wanted and I started drawing different options, hoping that they would be trusting and let me move forward with a double island plan which is not 'standard' at all! It's hard to wrap your head around "two islands?" if you haven't seen it before but I love the way it functions and looks. They loved it!
Here is their new kitchen, taken from the coffee bar area.
We had a couple challenges, as any kitchen design has. One was that the actual wall space was sparse. The new open space designs that are so prevalent today create easy flow from different living spaces but its only draw back is the loss of walls! With the window and a hood, there's not much space left! I had to fit the microwave in and decided to built this into the center island. I have mine in the same area and it's so nice when your young children can pop their own popcorn and I love NOT seeing it as a focal point. This next area really fell out of the kitchen area in regards to function--all things that are needed in the working area are in between the 2 islands (DW, sink, trash, microwave) and the range and refrigeration area. We decided this area needed to be set up for a food service area or drink bar area with great storage. They moved back in right before school started and have finished lots of the decorating that is on their long list. One thing she is looking for is a unique wall scroll with an Italian saying on it to go above this window and I can't wait to see what she finds!
Another detail I had to work through was how this space would look as you entered their home. If you look at the first picture, the front door is to the right on that back wall; the kitchen is essentially their entry. I threw out a rather fun idea that I felt would really transform the back of the center island which is what you see first. The 'norm' would be to finished it with wood panels and while that would look great, I really wanted to do something unique that ties into the way they live and would fit well with their style. I had NO idea if they would want to 'play it safe' or really work in something fun. They let me do it and we all love the end result! Here it is--a chalkboard! Isn't it so Pretty and Neat??? Here is their kid's after school schedule for the week! She also writes menus on it during parties.
My next challenge was to somehow define the entry area from the kitchen. I accomplished this by placing bookcases at the ends of both islands. There are plugs in both bookcases which is one thing I always try to work into bookcases and office cabinets since we have SO many handheld items these days. My goal is to NOT see charging phones on any kitchen counters and I work this into any kitchen I transform! She has a gorgeous table on the main wall of the entry and it really flows nicely. These end cabinets create a barrier from entry to kitchen yet still tie into the islands as a cohesive piece and maintains the open feel that was the ultimate goal. Oh a side note, check out those cool stairs! They are not the main stairs which are right behind the entry and are very traditional and lead up to a landing area that leads to 4 bedrooms and a fun Family Room. You can see behind the kitchen is a cafe style sitting area and a dining room and the wall behind the range is a home theater, complete with projection television right onto the wall, theater seating and a popcorn machine! These stairs that you see are 'ladder style' and each foot goes on a different plank, don't know if the way I described it makes sense but it's really unique and one of the many things that makes this home such a fun relaxing home. Oh, they lead to a huge family/game room that you don't expect--it's a fabulous space.
Okay, I'll stop talking about the rest of the house and won't go on and on about her fabulous 2nd story decks that look over a horse farm or tell you about the large back patio area that they are currently transforming and will instead get back to the kitchen. Behind the entry and kitchen is the cafe! How cool is that? They have a cafe! Yup, I'm jealous too. And I have curled up in those fun chairs with coffee and she truly has created a relaxed, comfy home that is so perfect for their family. And there is the coffee bar!
The coffee bar was quite simple on my end--lots of drawers for storage and they found a really cool sink and faucet to finish it off! Here is a straight on view. Gee, now I think I need to end this and get some coffee!

I really enjoyed not only working on their kitchen but being there to support friends through such a nightmare. They were able to take a mess and at least turn it into a stored away dream, though the path required to get there was not enjoyable at all. I am thrilled they are back in their home and wish them happiness in their new space.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

How's this for a "Before"?

This Before occurred in June of 2007.

Great friends of ours had their home hit by lightning and it was stunning to see first hand how life can go from 'all is well' to this.

Both of them as well as their 5 year old son and 8 year old daughter were home one early evening when they smelled smoke during a bad storm. Within hours of what one can only imagine was terrifying to watch, their home looked like this. They went to a family member's home that night with less than what any one of us would head off to college with. Even things like a toothbrush or address book or favorite hairbrush--gone. Baby pictures, wedding mementos, your shoes, your spare contacts, even a change of clothes for bed that is in a few hours--gone. I really couldn't imagine what this must feel like . . . for the adults let alone their children who had not even their comfortable pillow or favorite toy.

Because I am a fun decorating blog, I have to tell you that a fabulous kitchen 'after' is coming for you to see! But before I do that, I thought their 'after' couldn't be told without their 'before'.

My brother is a fireman and though I certainly know nothing more than the average person about the science of fire or the aftermath of fire, I am someone who always paid great attention to any news of fires and read stories about fires. Yet when I walked into this home I was stunned at things that I didn't quite understand about what a quickly extinguished lightning fire could do! So, I thought I'd share some of that with you. When the topic of my friend's home being rebuilt has come up, I often am asked "So, it burned to the ground? Nothing was left?" With the assumption that if it wasn't 100% soot that it wasn't quiet so bad and perhaps something could be salvaged. I recall being told it happened in the roof and mostly engulfed the second story and I went over the next day thinking "maybe I should see if I can help clean out the kitchen"--as if it wasn't a 'total loss', since it was still kind of there. Well, here's a collage of a few things:

My most surprising moment was when I saw the paint that was melting off the wall (bottom left). Then I was confused by the spider web like feel of wires and didn't know what it all was until it was explained that all the pretty white and blue and other colorful, plastic coated wiring and cables and cords installed in your home melt and all that's left is the exposed tiny lines of wire. It's so thin that you can barely see some of the thinner lines (top right) but it felt like you were seeing a metal spiders web and you couldn't just walk through a room without moving around all this. You can clearly see (bottom right) that the fire didn't reach the downstairs family room but look at how that strong metal rod bent from the heat and how the ceiling fell in from the 2nd story into that room as well as onto the staircase (top left). Between the water from the fire hose and the soot and burned mess that fell, you can imagine now how bad a home that has sustained fire damage is, even if you can see the outside walls and think it wasn't a 'total loss'. It was!
I am certain that you can't say that there is a 'light at the end of the tunnel' with this kind of loss and I am also sure that if they could go back and have this not happen, they would. The inevitable thing does happen though to a family with homeowner's insurance and you do somehow get through the next day and get through the next day and eventually end up with a NEW HOUSE! I was privileged to be able to design and create their dream kitchen and I can't wait to show it to you! They had always dreamed of building a new home. They had plans drawn and had hoped to one day find a lot and looked forward to the process and excitement that comes with building one day. They have great style and got their gorgeous home but accomplished this through great loss and amazing stress throughout the entire process. No planning, no dreaming, no excitement--just urgent reaction. I wouldn't wish this for anyone but am thrilled they ended up with a beautiful home and will show you how I was involved in their project later this weekend!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Drowning no more, a New Office is complete!

I really enjoyed helping this family take this space from piles of stuff that they didn't know what to do with to an area where there is now a space for everything. They were so frustrated with not knowing what to do in here that not only did they give up on organizing their office items but they allowed kitchen and garage items to end up in here as well. Just allocating those items to their rightful spaces really made a difference.

Here is where things were when we started:
This is to the left of when you walk into the room:

This homeowner is very handy so phase 1 was for them to get some things handled--remove the left file cabinet from under the desk to open that space, remove the armoire that was too dark, short and limiting in this space and build shelves. I provided exact specs and materials but instead of having to bring in an handyman that would require payment, he was able to do all this himself! He also agreed that the monitor was too large and that they wanted a wall mount monitor so that was handled prior to my arrival as well.

The use of these walls were so needed and finding homes for all the small items and creating zones was the top priority. I organized their file drawers years ago before they had 2 kids and they have kept up this system rather well.
Here are the new shelves completed! Behind the curtain is the other file cabinet and lots of storage for scrapbooking and family memory items.

The use of a Family Resource Binder, as well as binders for other often referred to resources, helped group together all the paperwork that had no home or always seemed to be left out. Drawers that can sort and house their office items complete this area along with bins and baskets that group together crafts, projects and decor items.

Part of the wall solution was a track that displays their son's artwork and an organzing system for their pens, stapler and craft items. All the little papers that come in now have a home with the clips. Most people need coupons and gift cards on clips as that is what some seem to have piled but each family has to create clips based on thier needs. This family has 4 clips for 4 things--internet log in info, tax deductible receipts, bills and events. One mistake made when trying to make your space 'perfect' is to not allow spots for the 'stuff' that you don't want there. Everyone's 'stuff' is different. In my home, it's the seemingly bags full of receipts that my husband manages to pull out of his pockets and won't allow them to be tossed as he 'needs to go through them'. In this home, it is small tools and items that need to go to an outside shed. If a spot isn't allowed for these items, they will just get piled. I have a pretty container that holds the receipts and this home now has a fun bin. Sure, he needs to put things away when he uses them and no we don't want to 'enable' a stasher, BUT we also want life to be lived without make a big hoopla over a screwdriver. SO, if he leaves it somewhere, it goes in the bin and he knows that the next time he goes out, he needs to take out whatever is in the bin. Finally, we needed some pretty things! A big part of this was to sew two skirts, one to go under the shelves and another for the side of the desk to hide the filing cabinet and the large bin that remained, full of kids color books and other large craft items. Then we added many things to tie it all together through pops of color! Flowers, great artwork that was being stacked in a bin created by their 4 year old and fun tags! These things aren't 'needed' but they sure take the space from boring to fun!!! And wouldn't you want to put your stuff away when all your bins and baskets are so cute?

Here is this area, complete!

The space to the left of the entry into this room didn't need too much. The book case blocked their laundry room door and made it difficult to move around so we switched it out for something a bit smaller. Their son's backpack now has a home, their bulletin board is a bit more organized, and they have a spot to set things like a purse or library books or item to return or anything that they need to handle that day. The fun bin for shed items is right there and is easy to take with him. Here are some fun side by side "Before and After" comparison shots! I know they were thrilled when it was complete and it was a rewarding project to see such a large transformation!

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