Posts Tagged ‘transform’

Before and After: My New Foyer

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Let’s start from the beginning, or rather, the entry. I didn’t change too much about the exterior of my home in our recent renovation, but I did alter the front door in a big way. Formerly a single door with out-of-date sidelights, I wanted double doors for a more grand entrance. Additionally, I wanted glass doors to let the light shine through, but also solid doors for privacy. Why not have both, right? So I added both- double glass doors with a pair of solid doors behind them. All dressed up with gorgeous polished nickel hardware and glass doorknobs.

For the interior, I knew I wanted my entry to make a big statement, and these dated brown walls and lackluster paneling weren’t cutting it. I wanted something fresh, but also classic.

And what can be more classic than black-and-white? You’ll recognize this chest from my entry in my previous home; I just can’t part with it! This fabulous grey and white labyrinth wallpaper from Cole & Son provides a dramatic backdrop for my original art collection with pops of pink!

The flooring before was strange fragments of marble with no rhyme or reason in shape or size. And that chandelier put off essentially zero light.  I needed to start almost from scratch to brighten up this space and make it current. I also wanted to add some architectural interest to the room. So I beefed up the wainscoting and added those gorgeous pediments over the doorways leading to both the dining room and the study.

The new pediment adds interest over the cased openings, and you can see that I removed the doors closing off the dining room for better flow. That drab, boring chandelier has been replaced by my stunning Rothesay lantern in glossy black, which matches the shiny new checkerboard marble floors by Emser tile. And  black and white goes from the ground floor to the second floor by way of my custom New River Artisans stair runner- a design from my new collection!

I’m so thrilled to get to walk you all through my new home, one room at a time. Join me here more this month to see the dramatic before and after’s of every room in my home, plus see all of the details we couldn’t show you in the magazine. But first, leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the renovation of the entry. It’s quite the change, isn’t it?

xo,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before and After: My Dream Kitchen

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I have loved hearing all of your feedback about my home renovation reveal in the December issue of Traditional Home. Now let’s dig into some of my favorite details from my project, starting with the Kitchen.

As you all know, I love to cook, so of course, my kitchen is one of the hardest working rooms in my house and designing it was definitely a labor of love.

The “after” is full of amazing Thermador appliances, fabulous storage solutions, and all wrapped in the most calming shade of blue! But let’s talk about the transformation from drab, dark, dated and dysfunctional to my dream kitchen.

Ok, I’m cringing revisiting my kitchen before photos. The colors were dated with a sort of mauve and celery green speckled granite, glazed cabinets, celery walls, dark stained trim and a very 70’s pass-through over the sink into the sunroom. I honestly can hardly remember it looking like this even though I lived it in for TWO YEARS!

The overall layout of the kitchen before is actually not all bad, the U-Shape kitchen is very common and considered one of the most functional kitchen layouts. But this old space didn’t provide enough of a work surface for my cooking or my daughter’s baking. And with the upper cabinets stopping below a soffit, and having fixed shelving inside, they didn’t provide ample storage for all my china, serving ware and small appliances. It was definitely time for this space to go!

First, we gutted everything, and eliminated a laundry closet behind my range. This allowed me to extend the kitchen an additional 3 feet and to make room for  a massive island!

Seeing this photo of the space all the way down to the studs was still prettier to me than the before. After two years in this drab space, this looked like amazing progress to my eyes.

Just getting sheetrock on the walls made the kitchen look large and fresh. This is when things started to get super exciting!

Cabinetry was next and I was dying for the interior window to go in over the sink. Remember the old pass-through before? …

How could you forget, right?

My solution for a more classic style was adding an all wood oval window between the kitchen and the sunroom. This interior window now looks like it’s always been here. It feels architecturally appropriate for this 1960’s home and it’s many people’s favorite feature in my kitchen, including mine.

I love having a view out through my sunroom and to the pool beyond. And the gorgeous Kohler sink and faucet make this area even more lovely.

Everything in my kitchen design is so relaxing, and better yet, functional. I changed from the U-shaped layout to an island layout that provides me with so much more workspace. And in the 9′ long island I have included fun details like Thermador refrigerator drawers, microwave drawer, and warming drawer, plus baskets for fruits and veggies, a paper towel holder and a baking drawer that holds my dry ingredients like flour and 3 types of sugar.

And you can’t see it from here, but on the sink side of the kitchen are 2 dishwashers, which means my sink almost NEVER has a dirty dish!

Now after seeing how gloomy my previous kitchen was, you can see why I went with a bright white, pale blue, and polished nickel color palette! But before we go a few last details…

Remember my old and very odd refrigerator in the before? It was tucked under the entry stairs and accented with beauty mold around it like we wanted to highlight it, ha! It was next to a desk space that was a catch all for everything that made it’s way into the kitchen. And let’s not forget to mention that retro intercom system and gigantic doorbell hanging on the wall.

The after of this same wall is now my fantastic Thermador 30″ refrigerator column, 24″ freezer column, and an 18″ wine column.

And to the right of these is where you can find my steam oven with lots of storage above for baking sheets and small appliances and pulls outs below for anything else I want close at hand. Tucked into the wall where that old refrigerator was, this is definitely my favorite new gadget in the house!

My previous kitchen had a teeny tiny range with a microwave above that didn’t allow me to cook fabulous, big meals for my  family. The wall ovens were functional but equally dated. I needed to replace all these black appliances with some new, top-of-the-line Thermador pieces that work hard for my family and me.

Let’s get up-close and personal with my amazing new range from Thermador. This 48 inch professional series dual fuel range has 6 burners, a griddle, and 2 convection ovens! I can make literally anything and everything my family and friends would ever want to eat here. And the griddle can be switched out for an indoor grill. We created this custom hood with local craftsman. It houses a Thermador vent insert inside and has stainless steel straps on the exterior and is painted in my dreamy blue cabinet color called Slinky by C2 Paints. And here you get a great look at my marble subway backsplash Speartek, Daltile bistro floors that are actually glass tile even though they look like marble, and lacquer-look white Dekton countertops.

So there you have it…the sad before and the fabulous after of my new kitchen. I’m in love with everything about this space and I can’t stop singing its praises! I can honestly say, this kitchen has everything I could want. And I know my daughter and I will be cooking and baking in it together for years to come!

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about my kitchen transformation. What’s your favorite part and what questions do you have? And to see more of my home renovation pick up the December issue of Traditional Home Magazine. And be sure to check out all the online content from my year-long renovation column with Traditional Home on their website. There are all sorts of tips, details and inspiration there for designing your own dream kitchen and dream home.

xo,

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Saying YES to Yourself!

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How many days do you give yourself permission to follow your heart? To listen to your body? To be in charge of your own schedule? When I am consulting with other business people and creatives, I call this driving the bus. And it sounds great, doesn’t it. Many of us want to yell “Hell yes I am in charge of my own life!” but how many of us really are? Probably very few.

We are taught from a very young age that someone else is in charge of the “rules.” We are expected to meet other peoples’ expectations and deadlines and parameters. We learn that we “should” do a lot of things and that we “have to” be a certain way or check certain boxes or finish certain activities to be accepted, successful, popular. We learn that life is all about achievements and belonging instead of following your heart or your gut.

There is a lot of lip service these days given to being authentic, to “you doing you.” But I don’t feel like we give ourselves or others permission to really do that. And I have to tell you that I am over this masochistic way of living. It takes a toll on your physical and mental health but especially your happiness and joy. I have been a rule follower for about 45 years now. But I am tired of following the rules someone else created for me, or worse, that I set for myself based on achieving some level of success or attaining the approval of others – my family and society.

Whether your personal set of rules and expectations come from your parents and their core beliefs (this is where most of us start our rules), from society, from your professional industry, from your political affiliation, or just from your own super-high standards like I have, it’s time to challenge those rules, to dig deep and have the courage to design a life that really brings joy. It’s time to say YES to ourselves.

I want this more than anything for my daughter. Recognizing now that I am a recovering workaholic – addicted to work and achievement – I have a lot of wisdom to share with her about what an authentic life looks like. I know that no amount of success, accolades, awards, or accomplishments really feed your soul. And trust me, being on this sort of hamster wheel is exhausting. I’ve learned that the things that are truly meaningful in life are about connection – true connection with those you love plus loving and accepting yourself and a whole lot less proving, hustling, and trying to work our way to some level of happiness. Working your way to Joy just doesn’t happen long term.

So as you may recall, I have two resolutions this year – yes only two. That is saying a lot, because this major goal-setting, workaholic mama is crazy about goals and resolutions. I have had years where I had 10 or more. Geez! How did I think I could focus on 10 things at once?!? But this year my two resolutions are find more joy and love myself more.

And loving myself more means saying YES to myself. So what does that mean? It means when I feel like lying in bed all day on a Saturday or even on a Tuesday morning…I say YES and rearrange my schedule! It means when I feel my gut and my neck get all tense and tight because I have committed to something that I shouldn’t have and I ask myself if I can back out of it…I say YES and I make the call to un-commit! It means that if the old version of me is saying I “should” be accomplishing my next big goal or dream and my authentic self says I just want to lay low for a while and rest…I say YES! Saying yes to yourself takes courage. It means ignoring FOMO or “the fear of missing out” in exchange for putting your health and wellbeing first. It means taking a chance that someone will be mad at you, disappointed, or that they will forget you or not ask you next time and that’s scary. But it’s also empowering.

Most of us, especially women, spend a lifetime denying ourselves and our wishes in exchange for doing what makes other people happy. Especially in the South, we are taught to be quiet and look pretty. We are taught to go along with what other people want and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. We are taught to say yes to everyone and everything but us. We are taught the “responsible,” “admirable,” “appropriate” thing to do is what other people want us to do, or what we said we were going to do. We are not supposed to change our minds. In many ways, we are not supposed to be honest. We are not supposed to cause a problem. We are supposed to suck it up and do what makes everyone else feel good. And I am here to tell you that doesn’t equal health and happiness. That is not a recipe for joy.

So what would it take for you to stop telling yourself you have to, should, must, ought to, promised to and all those other absolutes you are pummeling yourself with, and start saying yes to your heart, your body, and your mind? What would it take for you to have the courage to say I thought I wanted that, but now I want something different? Or to say, that was great for a season of my life but now I am in a new season? Or as Maya Angelou said, when I know better I do better? What would give you the guts to do better with being kind and honest to yourself and saying YES to what you really want?

I know it’s hard, but it’s oh-so worth it. Be true to you before you commit to anyone else. Keep your word to yourself about what is right for you and what you really want. We’ve heard it so many times and it’s so hard to really believe, but life really is short. And it’s way too short to live a life that you dread every day or that sucks the life out of you on a regular basis.

We are supposed to feel good every day. We are not supposed to be constantly exhausted, stressed out, and overworked only leaving the miserable, grumpy, tired, and depleted version of ourselves for our families to deal with at the end of every day. If you are feeling that way on a regular basis, something is wrong. I’ve been there. And I am so happy to be in a much more relaxed state these days. I’m sure my family is happy about that too! (wink)

If you are creating a ridiculous schedule where your life is so full of noise and very little peace, how can you ever even hear your body or mind when it’s screaming at you that you’ve had enough?

Listen to yourself. Love yourself and say YES to yourself. Remember that no one ever says on their death bed, “I wish I had worked more” but most wish they had followed their hearts.

You deserve it.

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Tips for Solving Customer Service Issues

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We ALL make mistakes, it’s the nature of the business. But it’s how you deal with those mistakes that can make or break your company. And yes, maybe the customer was at fault or maybe the contractor or subcontractor is the one who created a huge mess, but none of that matters.

Playing the blame game will only get you in a bigger mess with your clients, so don’t start doing that. Your job is to remember the customer really is always right – or at least they need to feel like you’re going to make it right for them! Because the way you deal with mistakes is going to decide if your client is reasonable, AND how they are going to talk about you in the future…to other prospective clients! It’s that important, so always make it right.

So here are 5 things to do to get those customer service issues nipped in the bud:

1. Stop, listen, and ask questions. Yes, you have to really really really listen to them. What are they really upset about? What is the issue and how did it happen? Sometimes your customer wants to just vent and get it out of their system, so do not interrupt, do not try to give them a solution too soon. You want to let them feel like they have been heard completely and fully. If your client is more uncommunicative, you need to be the one to reach out and to get to the bottom of what the problem is. But be sure your tone of voice is caring and concerned, not like you want to interrogate them.

2. Think about things from their point of view. It’s oh-so-easy to just think your client is high-strung and way too demanding, but that won’t help anything. Think of it from their point of view. This is a lot of money for them, it’s one of the most personal places in their lives (namely their house) and they are worried about every aspect of it. They want it to be right, just like you do.

3. Apologize sincerely. You need to apologize fully and completely – don’t do any halfway or passive-aggressive apologies. People see right through those immediately. Again, you want them to feel that they are being heard and understood. If it’s your fault, take that hit and accept the blame. People really respect someone who can stand up and say “I did this and I apologize.” Too many want to hide behind someone else or just not accept that they did anything wrong. Don’t be that person. And if someone else is really to blame, the buck still stops with you. So you can say “I am so sorry this happened,” even if the contractor is the one who made the mistake. Just don’t throw anyone under the bus (especially your own team members) and don’t start pointing fingers. When emotions are high, that does not help.

4. Don’t get angry. Yes, clients can make us all mad, but we have to be the person in control in any confrontation with our clients. They are already stressed and uptight about spending money and allowing someone else to have control in their homes. So they probably aren’t going to react the way they normally would in any stressful situation that comes up. You have to be the calm, cool, and collected person, even when you want to scream. So do whatever you have to do to stay calm – count to 10, step outside for a second, think about fluffy kittens. If you get angry, it will only escalate the situation and that isn’t going to help at all.

5. Do what you have to do to make it right – and FAST. Sometimes, you’re going to have to eat the cost of that $5,000 sofa. Or you’re going to have to have someone re-hang all that wallpaper at your expense. It is what it is. But think about it this way – if you spend $5,000 now, you may have a client for life. Or at least a client who will tell others how amazing you are. So think of it as a marketing expense. Communication is KEY. Like it always is. This is the time to really over-communicate what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and when a solution will be ready. You want the customer to really feel that you’re resolving everything as quickly, efficiently, and painlessly as possible for her. So be sure you tell her that.

And yes, I know there are some mistakes or issues that are SO big that a client may not be appeased with anything at all. But it’s still better to try to make it as right as you can. Send them a note, email them, call them – even if they’ve said they want to cut ties with you.

It’s better to have tried and let them know that you do care. Most clients will come around eventually – but you have to do the hard work to get them back into a good place.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to smooth over any bumps in the road for your customer service!

xo,