Friday, July 27, 2012


Happy Friday everyone.

Today is the day I reveal the project I had been working on in Central Florida for the past several months.

I had met my clients through a mutual friend during their birthday party. She had mentioned her "mancave" home and how she desperately wanted to red update the great room. She knew of me as a writer, illustrator, and artist, but not an interior designer.

She was thrilled when I told her how I would recreate her space. Without even seeing the home, I was hired. I am one of those people that have a sixth sense about what a client wants. It is a gift and I am very thankful to have it.

A few days later I arrived at the lovely riverfront home. Nestled between two rivers on a small barrier island, this brick and timber ranch looked quite polished from the outside. With lush landscaping the "A" framed home welcomed me.

My jaw dropped as I entered. What I had faced was the nightmare my client had described ... only ten times worse. It was like walking into a time warf. Dry cedar, hung diagonally on each EVERY wall. The unfinished cedar-beamed ceiling sparkled with frosted popcorn... YUK! The sunken living room, affectionately know as "THE PIT" was surrounded by cedar fenced railings, with only a small opening to descend the two steps into it.

The heavy stone fireplace LOOMED over restricted space. It seriously looked like something you would see outdoors.

As my eyes glanced around the dark burgundy leather sofa sectional weighed down the room even more. The space was split in two- floor wise- half terra cotta tile, the other half a soft cream colored carpet (the only light thing in the space).

The dining furniture consisted of even more wood... oak this time, ranging from the 1930's to the70's. The crowning jewel was the etched paneled 70's chandelier.

The kitchen had been remodeled about six years prior, but the paper screamed 80's and the very heavy burgundy stools added even more weight to the NINE FOOT breakfast bar. No backsplash had been installed, only more of the dated wall paper.

Now don't get too discouraged. I certainly didn't, the space HAD AMAZING bones and potential. Two eight foot sliders and one six foot slider opened up to a stunning huge patio, pool with birdcage screening, and an AMAZING river view.

The space was open with four different sections. My job was to marry these four disjointed spaces into one stunning cohesive, functional, and modern space.

After my eyes adjusted, we signed the contract and a second later I was on my iPad. First things first ... get rid of the ugly huge leather barstools. Within fifteen minutes I had ordered six fabulous new low-rise contemporary ultra suede and chrome stools.

This was the first of MANY purchases. My clients wanted EVERYTHING new.

Believe it or not it took me some time to convince them to pull the cedar and drywall the space. The next feat was to scrape the popcorn off the ceilings and refinish and seal the beams. That took a while too. After 23 years in this space, they had a hard time finally letting go. But, I knew they were up for it. Once the demo started, their excitement rose.

Well are you ready for the Pics? I guess I have talked enough. Pictures speak louder than words.

I will show you two before and two after. Again the space is huge ... about 2000 sq. ft. I don't really have a good after pic. The kitchen was too cluttered when I was taking my pics. Not too much work was done in their anyway.

Prepare yourselves .... And now .... here they are!

As you can see this is the kitchen and dining area. SO MUCH WOOD....

Now for the afters....

This is my favorite pic ... and yes ... this IS the same house!

This pic is a daytime pic with a glimpse of the kitchen backsplash and new kitchen island stool.

Here you can see the heavy leather sectional and the Danish recliner, which is the ONLY piece of furniture the client insisted on using. 

Here you get a good feeling for the "Pit."

In the "after" pic two things are missing, the window treatments and fireplace glass enclosure. They are installed now, but not at the time I had left.

Now the afters. The pit literally has been transformed with the stone demoed and replaced with drywall and gorgeous glass tile.

Here is a lovely view from the dining area facing the living room and the Pit on the left. Notice the lovely custom railings i had designed specifically for this space.

A close up of the PIT... Isn't the fireplace stunning? I also tied in a LOVELY 19th century Seth Thomas clock in with this new contemporary space. 

Mixing a few choice pieces adds personality and warmth to contemporary spaces.

Well I hoped you enjoyed the shocking remodel. After ten weeks of countless hours I have two very happy clients.

Remember everyone, you too, can change your space. No matter what period your home was build in, you too, can transform your home. With proper planning any transformation can be done, even on a limited budget. Believe it or not, I was able to do this WHOLE remodel, including EVERYTHING including electronics for less than it cost for me to remodel my kitchen four years ago. It's amazing how prices have come down and depending on your geographical region, you can do something major for any budget.

Have a great weekend everyone... I'll be dropping by, still catching up with old and new friends.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Hi, all,

It has been ages since my last post. I do apologize for that. I arrived back to Chicago two weeks ago, and for anyone that has been away from home for months at a time will surely understand getting back into the grove of things takes some time.

FINALLY, I am easing back into my routine and that includes visiting my blogger friends and posting on a regular basis.

I have noticed some new friends, WELCOME. I will drop by and visit you soon. I remember the days when I had welcomed each new friend individually and I am certainly going to maintain that ritual. It pleases me to acknowledge each and every one of you.

Hello and welcome Manisha, Kela, Evalina, Constanz, Beautiful Dees, Simon, Willowlive, TK, Teresa, Susan, Huntress, Alyson, Caterina, Carol, Grandma Yellow hair, Kiru, Morgan, Katie, Kimberly, Kellie, Nissa, Lexa, David, and Antonio. Phew, that was a mouthful.

I have had the pleasure of already speaking to a few of you, but I can't wait to get to know all of you more personally.

And know for some news. My friend, fellow blogger EXTRAORDINAIRE, Roland Yeomans, is featuring his latest book, RIGHTS OF PASSAGE. And IT'S FREE for the next few days! Isn't that a STUNNING cover?!!!

So please drop by his blog and tell him I sent you over. I know many of you know Roland, but if you don't, you NEED TO! His blog ALWAYS has great writerly advice and he is a true supporter to all in need.

His writing style is lush, descriptive, and intriguing. No other author has his heart and soul. It gushes through each and every word of his writing. So don't miss out on his free download.

Also, check out his many other amazing works with more evocative covers.

Another amazing blogger and friend is DL Hammons. With only one more week to sign up for WRITE CLUB 2012, the blogosphere is abuzz! Have you not yet heard of this event? Well, it's not too late, you can still sign up for the challenge.

What is WRITE CLUB, you ask?  In DL'S words ( Sorry DL, you can explain it better than I can. I hope you don't mind me quoting from your blog.)

" ... let’s talk about just what WRiTE CLUB is for those of you may be new.   The essence embodies simplicity, good-natured competition, and a lot of fun.  Over the course of twelve weeks we’ll be holding weekly bouts to determine winners that will advance to the play-offs, which will ultimately lead to a single champion.  Bouts between who…or what…you ask.  Anonymous 500 word writing samples, submitted by anyone who wishes to take part, that’s who.   The submitted samples should be identified only by a pen name of your choosing (be creative) that nobody has ever seen before.  The writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction.  It’s a way to get your writing in front of a lot of readers, without having to suffer the agony of exposure.  We’ll start accepting these submissions today and will continue to take them during the entire twelve week preliminaries, but beginning on July 30th, the first WRiTE will be held. "

TO sign up visit DL'S Blog, Cruising Altitude. I can't wait for this event to begin. It sounds like such a blast. And why not have some fun with our writing, right? I hope to see you all next week!

As a final note ... to all my wonderful friends who are waiting to see my latest design job, I am still waiting for the before pics to be sent to me. Posting a finished design will not have the impact it should without the before pics. I hope to have them by the end of the week. Note to self ... NEVER rely on others ... take your own pics! I learned my lesson.

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone. IT'S SO GOOD TO BE BACK!!!!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Hi, All,


I hope you will have the opportunity to spend the day with close friends and family doing what we all like to do best .... is it writing? Not today.... IT'S PIGGING OUT!

Now, as you know I watch myself like a HAWK. But one could still enjoy all the festivities of a BBQ without piling on the weight. Stick to grilled meats, salads, and lots of fruits and veggies. If you can manage to stay away from high calorie drinks, chips, popcorn, pretzels, and all sorts of breads and buns, you should make it though fine.

As you know I have been in Florida for all of this year so far. I FINALLY finished the design project I have been working on and it is AMAZING. I will definitely share pics with you as soon as I get the before pics from my source. They are taking FOREVER. I am leaving for home (CHICAGO) on Thursday. Two days driving in above average temps WILL not be a good time, but thankfully my car has air and so do the hotels.

For today's post for Insecure Writer's Support Group, I would like to use my design job as an example. With our writing we tend to put a time frame on it. "Oh, I can write the first draft in 30 days!" So you diligently write for hundreds of hours, stressing yourself out trying to make this INSANE deadline, which, of course, is self inflicted .... WHY? Why do we do this to ourselves?

I did the same thing for my design project. AND it cost me BIG! I priced it wrong and it took TWICE as long for the project to be completed. Unexpected obstacles plagued me especially in the end. So you see, this can happen in writing too!

WE get caught up in the plot, there may be several holes, which of course need to be addressed. Our characters are flat and unappealing. Again, another pit fall. Our dialogue is less than desirable. Do you see where I am going with this?

We need to take a breath, step back, and focus. All this rushing about for NaNo this, and all the other INSANE events are sometimes just not right for an author. Yes, it is a great challenge and if you make it though BRAVO! But many don't and end up beating themselves up because of it. This is not healthy and will breed much anxiety and stress to the writer.

So for this month's advice I say, plan ahead, pace yourself wisely, and you will finish that first draft when it presents itself to you.

I wish all of you a very happy and safe fourth of July... Please say a prayer for our military men and woman, because they deserve to be remembered on Americas birthday.