Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Free Your Mind and The Rest Will Follow

 (a lil desky-table I picked up at Habitat for Humanity a coupla' years ago & a simple sculpture, lovingly crafted by artist Michael Dutcher)

Although I am an interior designer by trade, life's events have funneled me into wearing many other hats lately. Most specifically, I have been staging quite a lot of properties for a couple of the best real estate agents in my area.

During these staging stunts & stories, I have come across ohhhhh so many different types of properties, (and personas that go with it).
By and by, the most resonating theme is: stuff.
We all have stuff.
Too much, usually.

Being impartial, and psychologically removed from other people's said "stuff," I have this PSA to put out in to the universe: edit. Edit please. Please!

If your things don't meet the three requirements of being beautiful, purposeful and inspiring—just get rid of it. Donate it. Trash it. Sell it. But purge it, nonetheless. Frankly, it is no matter if someone gave it to you ten years ago, and you love them dearly. Please choose to love yourself enough to know there is no place for a doe-eyed-figurine of an angel telling you to "live, laugh and love" on your mantle. You're smart. You know how you should be l-i-v-i-n' without a mantra being proclaimed to you in miniature everyday, collecting dust, and eerily staring at you.

As it turns out, I will be selling my dream-house-in-the-making in a couple of weeks, (after the end of a 13-year-relationship and 2 homes we rehabbed). My two kiddos and I will be moving from my current 5-bedroom-home, to likely a 2-bedroom apartment.  I am currently in the same mindset that I implore all my sellers to have: less is more.
And ya' know what? I am thrilled about having less stuff! To hold on to just the pieces that meet my above three requirements, and to truly hone in on my personal aesthetic, seems freeing, and cultivated, and deliberate.

So get rid of your stuff.  The stuff that is in the way of letting you lead the life you want to live, or the stuff that no longer energizes you. Whether you, yourself, are moving or squatting or staking claim in your place for the long haul, as Nike would suggest, "just do it."

Thursday, October 8, 2015

One year, and four days later...

 photo cred: ravelry

It has been one year and four days since I was rushed by ambulance to
The University of Pennsylvania with a brain bleed (an acute subdural
hematoma). It unexpectedly occurred exactly one week after I had a
concussion from that classic kid apparatus, a Slip 'n' Slide.

In that year so much has happened:

I am able to use a computer, again.
I am able to use my phone, again.
I am able to watch television, again.
I am able to sleep without wearing an eye mask.
I am able to walk/run/jump/play/exercise independently.
I am able to cook, again.
I am able to multi-task, again.
I am able to read, again.
I am able to write, again.
I am able to draw, again.
I am able to go to concerts, again.
I am able to go to the movies, again.
I am able to do laundry, again (ugh).
I am able to fully parent my children, again.
I am able to bike, again (with a helmet).
I am able to listen to loud music, again!
I have learned to drive at night, again.
I have learned to take care of myself, again.
I have learned to appreciate the important things, again.
I have learned to see who the truly important people are, again.
I have cultivated my business.
I have cultivated my sense of self, again.
I have been a single mom since this past July.
I have changed.
I have grown.
I am better.

I am one of the lucky ones. Although there are stories and anecdotes
to each of the above declarations, the core of the matter is that I am
grateful.  Grateful for the possibilities of today, tomorrow and the
many, many days, and years, and decades that I look forward to after

I just want to publicly say thank you to all my "people." You know who
you are.  By blood, or by heart, you have all been my family.  You have
literally held me physically or emotionally to a standard I couldn't have mustered
up alone. I see you in your struggles too, and you have battled with me
through mine.

Through emotional scuffles and successes that I am currently enduring,
the light at the end of this tunnel is blindingly bright.  This past
year has brought me such defining clarity, and I am honored to be a part
of the circles I spin with.  Personally, professionally, and parentally,
I have gained great strength through the people that surround me. 
Thank you for your wisdom, strength, and commitment to me and my kids.

I am eternally thankful for you all.

xx -c

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

This "Shoemaker" Finally Got Some Shoes!

Six years ago when we moved in to our second house, I was 29 years old and 7 months pregnant with our first kiddo. Our soon-to-be-home had been on the market quite some time and I had even said aloud a couple times, "Who the hell is gonna buy that?" upon seeing it online, in 70s-era-condition, listed for wAAaaAAay too much money. But eventually the sellers did some cheap, half-assed staging fixes, and dropped the price considerably, so Ken and called our realtor and we went to take a look at it.  It was vanilla, still pretty dated, and at the top of our price range, but in a Beaver Cleaver type of neighborhood in one of the best towns out there—we were hopeful.

The layout was quintessential-turn-of-the-century-twin, which we loved.  It had [and is now painted until further notice], faux wood paneling all over the entire third floor, paneling in one of the 2nd floor bedrooms, and in the kitchen. The light fixtures all looked like boobs, there was some kind of play on a Japanese screen posing as the 1st floor banister, and a bright-green-plastic-coated chain link fence encircling the garden.
So of course we bought it with ideas of grandeur and pre-kid ambition...

Six years later, after working on adulthood, and parenting, and bathing our now 2 kids in a bathroom that looked like a 70s frat house, (and with a floor I had ripped up months ago that was down to the plywood and crumbling Thinset)—here we finally are with a new bathroom!
Mind you, it was not free and we didn't 100% DIY it, but it was for sure on a budget.
(We are not Main Line-ers.)

After removing the wallpaper and seeing the ripped up mess of drywall that remained, I went with it, and did a play on dark Venetian plaster. This part was free because I used paint that we had.
The pressed paper ceiling tiles got a few fresh coats of Martha Stewart metallic silver paint.
Rather than keep the cream and tan wall tiles with the gold fleck as they were, we had a pro reglazer come in to spray them all pure white.  No tile in a landfill, but the paint was by no means "green," as that paint smell lingered in our house for longer than I would have preferred.
A great contractor came in to patch up part of the sub floor, install our new tile floor, and changed out our commode.
My husband and father-in-law replaced the shower spigots (which took way longer and had way more issues that expected), so thanks to them for all their hard work.  I know it was really annoying to work so hard in such a tight space: so seriously thank you guys.
After I built 3 shelves in the nook behind the john to gain some more storage, Four Sons Glass came in to add mirrors on that wall above the shelves.  Even if you just see the mirror a little, it's sole purpose exists to reflect in more light and give the illusion of space.
*This was cheap people.  Do this mirror idea if you take away anything from reading this.

Oh—and the light over the existing medicine cabinet: itza builder-grade-snooze-fest.  I'd like to get something really special there one day.  But until that day comes I took off the horrendous white glass bell shades and added in oven bulbs because they are way cheaper than Edison bulbs while executing the same visual effect.

Anyway, we finally got the will, so we found a way.

Many thanks again to Four Sons Glass, Josh Mitchell of Classic Stoneworks, Designer Tub & Tile, my husband, and my in-laws for getting this project off, running, and splashing.
Check out all the pics of our new space on my site too!

(The two pictures below are from 2008 when we came to get the inspection on our home)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dreams for Sale

 (entry of a staged home I did that was in contract in 3 days)

As of late, I have been in a few new clients homes who are getting ready to sell.

These homeowners have big dreams of the fun future in their new homes with their growing families. But often, their wallets aren't growing as fast as their dreams and they need every bit of their budget to figure out the logistics of spending their hard earned cash for moving trucks, pizza for dinner, closing costs and a new furniture piece or two (or three), for the new digs.

Because of this, these clients have opted out of getting their homes fully staged (by me), and rather have hired me to come in to their current homes and "walk and talk" them through what they should do to get their house market-ready. Think: real-estate-reality-check.

Wisely, they have made a minimal investment for an hour or two appointment with yours truly, and gotten a bevy of information about what to specifically do to their place to receive top dollar for their listing. After all, they need to sell "the dream" too,  to all the potential buyers that will be coming in to their home.  And buyers are pretty savvy these days. Who hasn't seen HGTV at least once in their life? Moreover, most buyers check out pictures online before they even attempt to go to an open-house, so it's imperative to put your best foot forward or they may pass over your home in sheer seconds if those pictures on their laptop aren't pretty!

You only get one chance to make a first impression in real estate. But you know this. It's not a secret that staged houses look better. But did you know that they sell faster, for more money, and for less concessions by the buyer? Well now you do.

So when you decide it's time to put your house up for sale, what will you do—stage it or roll the dice and hope that someone dreams of moving in to your place as-is? What dream are you selling to buyers?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Shop ME!

Yep, I went and reinstated my Etsy shop! Maybe you can't walk in my perfectly sunlit, and wonderfully symmetrical shop on the main street of my town (as I imagine it in my head), but at least you can shop these patina-ed &/or pleasurable items that add a splash of hefty personality to your home. You're likely to find a treasure all your own, or one to give.  Find me direct on Etsy or click on my SHOP tab on my interior design page. And shop-back often: as I will always be adding new items.

Here's to wishing one day I'm a brick-and-mortar shop! Hope your dreams come true too. We all need a little faerie dust...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March Forth!

159 days ago today, I went and broke m’brain,
I did it on a Slip n’ Slide without resounding pain.
Although it got real bright, and I felt my noodle hit,
I figured I’d be ok, and I continued to get lit.

I was camping on a farm, in the middle of PA,
with some radaroni folk, who concert there annually.
That night I back up sang, and shot potato guns,
in the day, and through the night, alla it was tons-o’-fun!

A few days after that, with pain that failed to leave,
my doc proclaimed: I was concussed, “stay off electronics and breathe!”
So I did as I was told, and went cold turkey from my ‘screens,’
but the Saturday morning next, I awoke in screams…

Awaking from my slumber, (and writhing in the bed),
I ran to barf repeatedly, from the pain searing in my head.
Amid my pain I thought, “would I rather birth a kid?”
When the answer was an undoubtful YES, the ER’s just what we did.

Arriving at the hospital, I was scrunched up like a troll,
I was weak from all the pain, and handed a barfing bowl.
After a firing line of questions, and a CAT scan to my head,
“an Acute Subdural Hematoma, is what you’ve got,” doc said.

“Is that bad?” I asked him, while he gripped my hand and frowned.
“Well…an ambulance will be here in 5.” Dude wasn’t messing around.
A moment after that, he & my husband stepped out to talk.
They whispered behind the ugly curtain, and I knew that I was fucked.

I was loaded on a gurney by 3 medics donning flight gear.
My nurse came and kissed my face, and said “Oh you poor, sweet dear.”
Speeding through my town, and then en route to Philly,
we made it to UPenn and the ICU got all ready.

I was there about a week with tests about every 2 hours,
stuffed with tubes, and tied to machines, (having crippled mental powers).
I suffered seizures, scans, injections, and swings of every mood,
I even made it out alive, despite the hospital food.

The first two weeks at home, I wore a helmet of thick foam,
this prevented my toddler-boy from impacting on my dome.
I don’t remember much then, spotty moments at best…
Like: I couldn’t read my kids bedtime books when they laid upon my chest.

Every pixel was blinding, many sounds so ear piercing,
it was difficult to be near my babes, unless the two were sleeping.
TV was not allowed. No computers, books, or bright lights.
When I wasn’t wearing an eye mask, I stared at the ceiling most nights.

But one thing I could do, was think and think and think.
I thought about the world I knew, and why I had this brink.
About week three or so, I started books on tape!
I listened to music too, and took salt baths to heal my aches.

When 5 weeks came around, I was cleared to take slow walks,
around my neighborhood, but no more than just 3 blocks!
All this was sooo profound: me who rarely before asked
for help of any kind, cuz here I’d been forced to sit on my ass.

As every day went by, for sure there were ups and downs,
but I made it a daily point to feel more appreciation than frowns.
For this is the life I have—the only one I’ve got,
and through hell or Slip n’ Slide water, I’m gonna reflect what time has taught.

The depth of what had happened, often swirled in my braising thoughts,
But you’ll be damn sure I knew of the rare second chance I got.
Most moments as I laid there from day one to this moment in time,
I’m gonna carve out a more meaningful future for my kids & I to shine.

Now when I get stressed out, (and want to chuck half my house in the street),
I try to remember when I stopped breathing in my gurney, and I knew that fate I’d meet.
The moments I wanted to quite literally die (from the suffering I was in),
was forced to battle with the future that I sought with “blood” & “by-heart” kin.

Now with gratitude in my soul, and aspiration in my chest,
I will not be put to pasture, my laurels now find unrest. 
I plan to cultivate the “me,” that I've always wanted to see,
I know I'll fail, seek more, and soar, with fervent authenticity. 

I still can't drive much at night: feels like my retinas will rip—
or stand too long, bend or walk quite straight, from the sciatica in my hip. 
But you know what I CAN do? I can plan and plot and sew!
I can live a more present & ambitious kind-of-life,
(*It took my scare to grow)!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Walk The Line

Photo Courtesy of Elephant Journal

I was thinking back today about one of my early potential clients...

Walking up to his adorable cottage, I was greeted with a maelstrom of his demands (or were they commands!?) for the direction he thought he wanted his space to go.  Demand or command, the would-be client insisted on me delivering his clear-as-mud version of what he envisioned as good design. I was horrified by his tunnel vision (and the nasty collections he wanted to include). It further seemed HE was horrified at any of my aesthetic digressions from HIS ideas.

It took me many deep breaths and forced smiles and nods, not to say, "Then what I am here for? If you have it all figured out, just do it yourself!"  

But, of course I didn't.  I do maintain my professionalism. And eventually, I politely bowed out from his home (and the unseemly project that had no legs).

I like to think that I achieve great balance in creating spaces for my clients that speak volumes of who they are—while pushing them outside their comfort zone—and still maintaining good design integrity in their environment. I like to think that I am good at what I do.  I like to think that someone hires me not only for my budget-gourmet-achievability, but also my capacity to design in and around challenges and obstacles, whether financial or structural. I like to think that people hire me because they like what I do and how I do it.

But of course we don't all have the same vision, do we? 

Sometimes it's just best to walk away from a project, a person, people, or a paradigm where you're not appreciated for being authentic to your own value system. And that's okay.

And I will walk the long walk if I have to.