happy days

I’m a terrible friend. No matter how hard I try to sit down and blog, something breaks. Well not today! Who needs some love??? Because we have a lot of love to give today. Let’s start with my favorite charity that I’m involved in, Dwell With Dignity

We did an install just prior to Thanksgiving last year for a sweet mother of two. All three were previously homeless and there aren’t enough words in the English language to describe the amazing ride it is to be right there, on the front lines, making a difference for folks who truly NEED OUR HELP. Pile on all the love and support from our social network of friends (you blast “we need help” out to Facebook and they answer the call!) and you’re wishing you could do this everyday. 

Take a look at the before and after pictures of their two bedroom government-assisted apartment (where our country gets it right for those that need it). I was honored to be asked to design the living, dining and kitchen spaces. I had participated with Room Service Atlanta in the past and knew whatever the task, it was going to be a beautiful week. Taking a week off to so the Lord’s work is the best (and free) therapy out there my friends. If you can swing it, do it. It prompted all these rainbow and unicorn ideas, like why don’t we, as a country, make it part of our culture to take a week or two off work, excused, to help others? Make it cool. I happen to think its already cool, but you know what I mean.  

I received SO MUCH help from my friends to paint these walls! And what a difference it made in the kitchen and dining spaces. 

Two of the sweetest faces you’ll ever meet.  Is there anything cuter than a child in footy pajamas? I think not! 

My friends of Gordon Dunning made these sweet babies a MAGICAL place! You need to click on their link and meet them. I adore them! I feel like a little mama bear, or middle-aged Auntie when I’m around them. So proud of their spunk and go-after-it outlook on life. I remember “they” saying my generation, the X gen was a bunch of slackers “and the one after them worse.” Well I’ve met Y and Z and I beg to differ ;-))) we are in good hands. 

melt me. 

Brook and Canaan created Mama a sanctuary! Another dynamic duo of love and goodness. I’m blessed to have spent the week hanging out with them. We had a ball! And they came through in the clutch if you needed it! 

The Container Store, a big awesome sponsor, donates elfa closet systems for each new install and Ashley Home Furniture a sofa. Both the refrigerator, freezer and pantry are PACKED with healthy groceries for a growing family and a local chef cooks the family’s favorite meal, hot and ready, on their first night in their new space. It’s an incredible and loving organization. The big reveals are a day you’ll never forget. We asked Rosie what her favorite color was…”I’m not sure, no one has ever asked me that.” I also learned when she was growing up, she wanted to be a police officer. I told her now’s the time! She currently is a full-time cook for Chik-fil-A which offers support, second-chances and a million other amazing things for our community. 

One more thing they provide is a professional photography session for the family and all the prints are framed and placed throughout the home, like this WINNER below. All these photos were taken by Thomas S. England at englandphoto.com. Awesome. 

Dwell With Dignity hopes to achieve another dozen installs this year in the city of Atlanta. Wooooo hoooooo!!! Please consider adding them to your list of charitable contributions this year. The positive results from these living spaces is astronomical and proven! Better grades, better jobs, family gatherings, birthday parties, the list is endless. 

Next up, a new feature Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles started running, in replacement of their “Ten Under 40”. Its called “Young Guns” and you’ll never guess who March was. Best part was Mom being mentioned and her photo making the cut. Tons of gratitude for the Editor and the sweet gal who wrote the feature. Banner day for sure. 


Big lesson here is, I can remember turning 40 and thinking, well there goes that dream. Moving on. Exactly why we listen to Journey and don’t stop believing! We truly do not know the surprises and the POTENTIAL each new day may bring. Remember that on those days when the world is knocking yo a__ down – WE ALL HAVE THEM. 

One more happy to report…

If you go to Schumacher’s website you might spot this.  Still processing. Never in a million years. 

That’s all the news to report. However, I am heading home this weekend to work on Lori’s house and see the fam!  Its all going down this Summer team! My goal is to have it all renovated, styled and staged for a THROW DOWN #downloadubernow

Can’t wait for you all to see it! Stop by anytime this Summer if it looks like we are working…I’ve got a lot of furniture to transform so I’ll be out there painting away. The home’s palette is black, white, gray and camel. Farmhouse with a twist. The kitchen will have antique brass hardware and be a little bit more zip pity do da than the rest of the cottage style home.  I’m going to cry when it sells -shocker. But then I’ll set my sights on the next 1930s fixer upper. My favorite era of home building. My dream is to go around my hometown, selecting cottage-sized homes and make them fairy-tale charming.

I wanna find a little cape cod dumpling and paint it deep deep charcoal, almost black, with white trim, flower boxes and a pale pink door. ;-)))) 


And they’ll all have names, the best part! And I love styling the outside of the home too…its highly underrated in my town and I’d like to educate and change all that. You never know, there may be a lot of undiscovered decorators that just needed a little pinch in the right direction. 

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away” – Pablo Picasso 

Cheers to the weekend!!! And I’m so happy to have the time today to catch up with you all! Thank you, as always, for stopping by the road! Happy trails! 

jenny from the rock 


Happy New Year: A look back at 2016

Happy New Year friends!!! I hope your holidays were EVERYTHING. We’re cruising down memory lane today on the road. Let me start by saying thank you for all your support and KINDNESS this last year. It never gets old chatting with you all and still makes me smile thinking I started this blog many years ago as a way to honor Mom and our hometown her family founded. 

Let’s start with a sprinkling of the projects we worked on (and the awesome human beings living inside them!). I lucked out again with my clients this year! They were all so good to me. 



These wonderful things happened and completely blew me away. I was invited to join the Southern Living/Coastal Living/Sunset Magazine Designer Network and see my name listed here among so many designers I love and admire! Get outta town! 

My showhouse kitchen was featured in the 50th Anniversary Issue. Get outta town! 

Jezebel featured me in their design issue with these greats…

I literally did get outta town a bit this year, which is always good for the design mind and eyes. 

Napa Valley with the Hubs and laid eyes on one of my FAVORITE designers, Erin Martin, and her bad to the bone showroom in adorable downtown Saint Helena. 

Left my heart in Santa Fe…

Made memories with my Spartan gals in Scottsdale…

Touched down in London town on my birthday! That was pretty rad and probably the topper. I want to blog about this trip with you all. The Connaught, Sketch, Bob Bob Ricard, Portobello Road Flea Market, tons to see and talk about.  

Liberty of London Department Store. 

And took an amazing family trip to Chicago for Labor Day weekend, one of our favorite vacations yet. I forgot how much I love that town and to see it through your children’s eyes, even better. Ever since moving South, its no longer a four hour drive from the mitten for a long weekend, like it was growing up. 

I bought a fixer upper on my childhood street, named it after my best friend in heaven, Lori, and started a charity called CHARM SCHOOL that will take greater shape in 2017. 

It will be styled  and completed this Summer and we are throwing a BIG party to honor Lori before we put the home on the market and move on to making another awesome turn-of-the-century home pretty, until all the forgotten homes are pretty and I’ve named them all after friends and family. And the ones I cannot buy, I will help redesign for charming curb appeal and increased home values. This is the goal of Charm School. Helping folks realize the potential of their homes and making minor (or major) exterior upgrades to achieve it. 

Because of the renovations taking place at Lori’s House, I made it home to see Mom’s Dogwood in full bloom in May. There’s something so symbolic and comforting to see all the pretty things Mom planted reappear year after year. Its like a part of her lives on that you can still see and touch.  

This is still my favorite house :-))) It was a cozy box of delight growing up. 

Spent the usual glorious Summer in Michigan and would end up breaking down YOU ALL in Richmond, Kentucky (the kindest town) with ALL THIS STUFF in my truck…can you imagine?! I was like “I swear I’m not a hoarder! It’s my job”. That’s quite a story. A day and half, Rip and I took residence at the Red Roof Inn and made the best of it. 

I would return home again in September for the most magnificent weather weekend to celebrate our class’s 25th reunion at the annual Homecoming game. This was also my Sister’s 30th reunion, which doubled the fun. I got to see allll my big sisters. It was such a chicken soup for the soul weekend that for days following, when anyone asked me how my weekend was, I’d literally choke up like the true sap I am. It was absolutely PERFECT.

(How cute is my Dad in an original Gulf trucker hat) 

I went to the same High School as my parents. We are very small town here ūüėČ I met a lady in the stands, also having their reunion (like I say it was quite the celebration weekend) who dated my Uncle Tommy. Uncle Tommy is Mom’s brother who passed away tragically in a motorcycle accident before I was born. She told me what a special brother, sister bond my Mom and Uncle Tommy had. How incredibly talented he was, the beautiful letters he wrote her, how well regarded Mom and her siblings were. It was wonderful to have heard all this by sheer chance and made an already special weekend, that much more. 

In November all the Spartan roomies trekked it down to the ATL for our annual Christmas party we’ve been having since college. You know how those girls weekends go! Perma grin for days. We do secret santas, stocking stuffers and donate to a charity of the hostesses choice. I chose Dwell With Dignity

I was honored to design a space for Dwell With Dignity in November and another for The Orphan Foundation the following week. I wanna share more pictures with you from these installs and tell you more about these two awesome foundations in a later post but here’s a peek of the dining space for DWD and the master bedroom for Orphan Foundation.  

New to our family, we became foster parents for Angels Among Us pet rescue and brought home this little cutie. He added so much fun and excitement to our gang and lucky for us, our good friends adopted him! So we get to love on him all the time. He’s such a nugget and has the BEST name…Swizzle. Rip and Swizzz were best buds for two weeks of fun. 

For years, I’ve wanted to have our home photographed, all gussied up for the holidays, and finally made it happen this year! 

Managed a family photo session and sent out a card for the first time in three years.  Ugh, had no idea my family would be so opinionated about which photo to use. I almost bagged it. 

And lastly, we sold our condo on 30A in Santa Rosa Beach and spent our last time there together over holiday break. At ages 13 and 11, its so nice to have your kids all to yourself for three days. 

The end of an era! That condo was very good to us and my career. It was one of my first renovation opportunities to showcase my design eye and was well-received because the before and afters were pretty incredible and EVERYONE loves before and after posts.

Joni at Cote de Texas, my favorite blogger, would run a story on her blog and that was a very special day for me. One I will never forget. The kindness of the comments from Joni and the readers made me cry. Shocker. ;-)) 

What a year. No wonder I’m so tired. I think I’ll take 2017 off. Hah! I wish! Would you believe my project roster is already booked for 2017. I have plenty to plan and install until Fall and may re-evaluate at that time, but doubtful with Fall being such a busy time. People don’t realize how long it takes to implement a space and when they ask you to do the whole house, well its a six month proposition easy. When I’m not scheming colors and patterns this year, I’ll be streamlining my business, updating website, photographing projects, blogging more, creating a new logo and page for Charm School, already changed  the way I charge for services, condensed my contract and continue to educate myself on the history of design while researching the best and brightest products for my clients. WHEW plenty to do! Thank you for following along on this look back post. It was a great year and I wish the same for you! 

I’ll be back soon with more exciting news for 2017! 

Much love, 



Our Holiday Home Tour

What’s shakin bacons? THREE more days ;-)))) The greatest birthday ever is almost HERE. And here we are flying in on two wheels with our holiday home tour. Come on in!

I spent an awesome Sunday afternoon with my yard and clipped all this stuff for the front and back doors. Went all naturale with Mom Nature…

I love a red door. Good feng shui.

My childhood skates…they always hurt like heck, or maybe it was because we were freezing in Michigan.

We put a tree in the foyer this year so you could see it from the front when you pull up. Its artificial and was in the man cave last year. Like most things in our home, it got put on rotation.¬†My faux finisher and I experimented and painted over my grasscloth. Bold! But the color just wasn’t jiving. Tried to be something I’m not and coming full circle back to my neutral ways. In the end I’m really happy with it and its a completely custom finish, done with love. Here here!

I carried these limelight hydrangeas home from the neighborhood white party last Summer and they dried beautifully. I recalled seeing Lisa Luby Ryan’s Christmas tree with fresh hydrangeas in vases¬†in a favorite Veranda spread and thinking how luxurious! Fresh flowers on a tree?!



(Elf-y had the bright idea to show up, top left, the day of the shoot. And God forbid he moves during the DAY!)

It was interesting to see the lights on, lights off picture difference. I think I prefer lights on. Id wanted to try a flocked tree for years and finally pulled the trigger. This is kinda like Mom’s designer tree. ;-)) Whatever she’s in the mood for this year and neutral wins again. The kids help me with it every year regardless. I may move an ornament here or there when their not looking, wink wink, but the majority of it was all them…and then they get bored…and go find their phones :-(((

I recently acquired this coffee table from Scotts. It was all colorful and I sprayed it black. I’m loving the lines and texture it brings to this space. Probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give you, is to look at the LINES of a piece or object you are contemplating. You can always change the color to fit your theme. Scale is way more important than color. If its the perfect fit, go for it and customize it later.

I had Jen shoot this cozy corner that had only seen that light of my awful iPhone pics since we moved in. I layered up some old gold frames over a leaner mirror and floated a favorite piece of art (both from Scotts) in front of the drapes. I think I’ll bump it up a few inches, the artwork, so you can see it better. Which is why its always a great idea to take pictures of your interiors. You almost always notice a detail you may not have otherwise – blaring! ¬†You’re like how the hell did I not see that?

With new coffee table up here, the old bleached out cypress trunk from High Point, down here, ¬†rotated to the keeping room…I still haven’t gotten this room quite right in my mind. It’s close but my alter “farmhouse style” ego keeps creeping in. Secretly I want a white farmhouse with a red barn so I’m thinking one room in my house can be farmhouse-y to keep the peace.

This room is where we spend the majority of our time, the smallest space in the house, our keeping room, kitchen area. Very telling if you ask me! ;-))) #biggerisnotalwaysbetter. BTW notice the tomatoes in the windows, the kitchen garden was a hit this Summer (see HERE) and I cannot wait for next year! ¬†Especially now that I’ve learned some things. WE were pullin tomatoes out of there til early December. Our first garden, as we NEVER had the sun or space in our old yard to plant one and what a game changer! NO idea a vegetable garden could bring such joy. We were able to plant four little raised boxes (in a small piece of our back yard that was basically a bunch of nothing) and a kitchen garden was born. ¬†You don’t realize how small a space it takes to produce major amounts of food. I just can’t say enough about it. No wonder people LOVE to garden.

Okay I’m happy we talked about that, back to Christmas…the exposed shelves in our kitchen, all decked out for Santa and sugar addicts…

Couldn’t resist this sweet sign to the North Pole from The Queen of Hearts. 1,998 miles thatta way…Santa better haul some a-s-s

Across the hall from the Kitchen is our dining room. When this space was originally designed it was intended to be a dining room/library and the dining table actually creeped out into the main galley way leaving space for a bench or piece of furniture in back. That drove my symmetrical ass nuts so I moved the chandelier back to center and I’m learning to love the built ins and not freak out they are styled with pretty things instead of practical things. ;-))) Let it be.

I mean I do read all the design books so that’s something functional…

In addition to the flocked tree, we got craz-A and tried another new species of tree in the man cave, a Silvertip Fir or as we like to call it, our Charlie Brown tree, chuck full of homemade, vintage, family heirloom, childhood ornaments. All in one breath!

This cross-stitch ornament below is two-sided, and I remember being SO excited about picking your patterns in the fourth grade! I went with the sleigh and a Christmas tree on back. I’ve hung onto it ever since. Rest in peace Miss Angelos. You were an awesome teacher.

Another thing I tried with the family tree was taking the left over “snow” from Mom’s village and make it look like snow on the branches above, because after 18 years in the ATL this Michigan girl is ALWAYS dreaming of a white Christmas…just like the ones I use to know…


Sophia and I have started to add some additional Department 56, Dickens Village buildings from antique stores for $7 and $10 a pop. This year we added the bakery ūüėČ ¬†Bonus, she lovvves putting it together every year…which is huge! She gets all excited when the boxes come out and says “its our tradition Mom” and my heart smiled (I’m sure Moms did too).

Speaking of Sophie Sunshine, she decorated her own tree this year in her room with candy colored ornaments. We took perfectly-colored Tiffany boxes and wrapped them in some old school Martha Stewart for Kmart Christmas ribbon. Her Kmart Christmas stuff was the best! I’d drive miles to the nearest Kmart twice a year for her Christmas and Spring stuff. The wreath is also from her Kmart line. Sophia had asked for some pillows and Christmas stuff for her birthday to make her room “cozy for Christmas” (who’s child is this?!) and I was lucky to find the sweet throw draped over her bed from Target to gift her and ratchet up the texture factor. Designer Mom approved. Target’s like the best boyfriend a girl ever had. Never breaking up with Target.

Merry Christmas friends! I hope you enjoyed the tour and have your sweetest, most gratifying, peaceful, perspective holiday yet! The blessings are endless in this great Country of ours and we need to stop and smell them. We made it another year! Think about that. A lot of folks hurting this time of year and no other season lays it on thick like Christmas. So much talk about “movements” this year. Well I’ve gotta movement. Its called kindness. I sprinkle that s*** on everything and it hasn’t let me down yet.¬†¬†Super contagious. Super addicting. Love to all! Be back soon with some more awesome kindness to spread from this year’s charity installs. TIS THE SEASON! Get out there and smile big!



Serious Holiday Inspiration: Home for the Holidays Showhouse

How are you friends?! Once again, its been too long since we last talked. Boo. I’ve been working like a dawg and trying to be all things to all people. I’ve already decided one of my new year’s resolutions is making more time for ME (and my family of course ;-)). I’m helpless lately. I love helping folks find happiness inside their four but bite off more than I can chew. Thank God they have been extremely patient with me this Fall.  Soooo with all this busy bee-ness I started decorating early, like before Thanksgiving early and then hit a WALL. That was until I toured the Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles “Home for the Holidays Showhouse” last Saturday. Hubba. Hubba.


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Lori’s House Update!

Hello friends! I’m just off the plane from Homecoming and our class’s 25th reunion. I cannot begin to express in words what a meaningful and touching weekend it was! I will try at some point, but right now I’m so exhausted from it all. A good, grateful exhausted. But not too tired to rally up this update post on Lori’s House after seeing this weekend’s progress!


I haven’t been able to share with you all, ALLLLL, the things that transpired after the closing, I will be brief and give you some history but it was daunting and kind of depressing to find out the basement was leaking and needed to be entirely waterproofed. That sure took some wind out of the sails and forced me to reevaluate my expectations while at home last Summer. With the weather so beautiful, I decided focus all energies on getting the outside looking good and worry about the inside when Winter comes.

A day after I arrived, they dug up the entire perimeter of the home. Gone were the front porch steps and we took this wonderful opportunity to create a new, and badly needed, front porch entry. Bring in the X motif! A favorite practice.


And while we were at it, added a french door (that needs painting) and now the front porch inside, is a legitimate, functioning, added space that can be utilized 75 percent of the year. ¬†And outside there is space to stand, grab your mail, ¬†plant a flower box, etc. Here is a shot of inside before…


And now with a fresh coat of paint and ceiling porch blue…


A very traditional, classic black lantern was scored on clearance at Lowes for $32 and will hang in the center and some form of laminate flooring that resembles something like below will be installed. I’m working with our partners at Shaw to see if they make a similar “whitewashed” look that I suggested last Summer at a designer network event. They have wonderful products coming out of Shaw!


I have an outdoor drapery rod standing by and will have some sort of striped outdoor drapery here by the Christmas season. ;-)))

The garage received some major upgrades, including electricity! There was none. All the rotted wood was replaced, board and batten detail added, new gutters and a fresh coat of paint. Yeah man!



Eww remember all that junk back there?! So many random pieces of hardscaping, hot tub, rotted door, deck in the middle of nowhere…and the city hauls it all away?! I’m so impressed with the City of Flat Rock’s municipal services thus far, being a new tax payer in town.


All gone now!



Lots of folks tried to talk me into replacing the sliding garage doors with automatic. No way. They are one of my favorite details and add so much charm. And there is plenty of space back here to add a third parking space if needed. The Fall colors were on their way!


I planted two lilac bushes back here last Summer and was happy to see them still alive. Big Poppy was on strict orders to water accordingly. ;-))


New concrete pads were poured at the garage and back doors. You want a what? A circle? Yes! I wanted it to feel approachable from all angles and still have earth close by to flank the back door with landscaping and climbing vines. The entire home’s trim was painted a fresh coat of “Alabaster” by Sherwin Williams. The doors are “Wyeth Blue” by Ben Moore. Sweet.


I managed to rip out and transplant a ton of the irises that were planted in the front stone wall. That was no easy task. They were rooted deep. Replaced them all with hydrangeas to bring in more of our color palette of lilac and light blue. Notice my furry friends :-)))) ¬†They hung around all Summer and watched me work. I think its good karma when animals like hanging around your space. I’m convinced they know more than we do. After last night’s debate, I’m sure of it.


The remaining front and sides were landscaped. I used as much “stay green all winter” varieties as possible as things can get pretty bleak here in the dead of Winter. We need all the green we can get.


Transplanted a bunch of Mom’s hostas, and will continue to do so, for good luck. Wishing I had one day to plant this past weekend. The weather was perfect for it. I did manage a couple of pumpkins for the front porch. ;-)))) Feel free to carve them for Halloween if anyone’s reading.


Here is a shot of the kitchen with all cabinets and appliances removed. You can see where the hall closet from the living room jets right into the kitchen making it nearly impossible to place the appliances in a functioning space while trying to successfully utilize the random closet in the corner.



Here it is last Summer, yikes, getting demolished.


We widened the opening to the dining room and it made such a difference.


All the plumbing and electrical was replaced. More not so fun money to spend but completely necessary. ¬†We saved this house. It was rotting away with its leaky foundation and completely out-of-date wiring. And someone is going to fall in love with it and want to live here when we are done. That someone is me! LOL. I wish. But I am absolutely loving this project and all the joy and satisfaction it brings. I already can’t wait to do the next one! BUT simmer down Jen and learn all you can from this one first.


Here is the kitchen now, ready for the electrical and plumbing inspection this week. They were unable to salvage the wood floors so that leaves us a new option for flooring in here, which is exciting. We like it when we get to pick out the pretty stuff!

The awkward closet is now removed and will act as an appliance garage atop an Ikea blind corner cabinet that will allow us to use the space all the way to the back of the closet, while accessing it from the front. Its so cool. I can’t wait for you all to see it. I’m super pleased with the function and storage this space will provide now. Stay tuned! hehe.


More good news from the weekend,  Ikea will come out and measure for all your cabinets for $200 and reimburse you when you purchase the kitchen. Winner! Let someone else do the math. I hate that part. 

Other fun updates, Pauly wired for another sconce on other side of the window for symmetry. We lovvve that.


The upstairs bathroom is ready for phase two as well. We ripped out the shower/tub insert and are going with a custom shower only.


All shower walls and niche will be white subway tile with darker grout and this pale river rock on the shower floor with warm gray grout. The Y71 tile pictured will be the floors. We used this in a clients beach house and loved it. And I’ve been dying to use some river rock tile forever. There is something so natural, organic and durable about it that I’m contemplating it for the kitchen and back door entry as well. I think it could be cool BUT I’m still sorting out the kitchen in my mind.


This wall use to consist of the toilet on your left, tucked behind the door, and the sink to your right, facing each other. It was all wrong. Moved them both to the larger wall, side by side, and flip flopped so you stand in front of the sink, where the ceiling is the highest (and sit where it isn’t). What a novel idea. ;-))


I ordered a gray vanity cabinet with marble top and changed my mind mid-shipping and sent it back already, thinking its not quite the right tone of gray with the tiles selected. I’m hunting down the perfect white, affordable, stylish vanity right now and will let you know if I have any luck. A vanity bar light was purchased from Home Depot’s Hampton Bay line. All very classic, cottage style for wide appeal.


So now its onto the fun phase! Interior paint, floors refinished, new kitchen and bath. And I cannot wait to stage and style it all for one big, bad, open house party to celebrate Lori’s life, life in the Rock, life in general. All the joy and blessings this fixer upper journey has provided. So many to talk about! ¬†But another time. I’m still rolling in what a wonderful weekend was had by so many folks back home. There were several different classes, different generations celebrating their reunions and it was great to witness all that. All the proud parents celebrating Homecoming with their kids. Just the most genuine, down-to-earth, pure Michigan peeps everywhere you look. It was priceless! I hope yours was every bit and then some!

Much love and gratitude,

jenny from the rock.



A before and after renovation

Hello my friends! How are you? Has it really been July since we last talked?? Good grief. In that case, I’m feeling damn lucky to be here. ¬†And thank you for being here too. Let’s jump right into a whole home BEFORE AND AFTER renovation I “completed” this past year. I say this in jest, because ha ha ha we all know its never really finished.¬†img_1776

This sweet family and I stayed very busy these last few years on our design journey. We started out at their first house, changing lights, styling built ins and converting an under used bonus room into a cozy, family movie room.  Including the precious art install above.

A beach house shortly followed and we banged it out in two working days, all on line. It was a lot of fun to do it that way for once. Order on line and shipped right to the door, DONE.




I love the interior doors. They really help make a statement.




My client did a great job of pulling it all together and adding finishing touches. There are bedrooms for days and we would laugh keeping track of it all. The key is to keep mixing the finishes until you get a perfect combo you like. Our favorite word from that moment forward, CRUST, we need more crust!



You can stay here too.

Then it was a new house which brings us to the thrill ride, the before and afters. This will be fun. Our take-a-way: never ceases to amaze me the transformation of paint. It’s not just about walls and trim either. So many opportunities to add style and layers with paint. Another huge change, the home went entirely hardwood with a rich ebony stain. The white and black together felt so fresh and modern. It truly felt like a new home.

Formal living room before…


And here it is now as more of a place to lounge and enjoy some wine and a fire.



This home (and somedays it feels like every home) in Atlanta, ¬†have an abundance of built ins. I’ve come accustomed to immediately thinking take out all the shelves and use as niches for art or large objects. Especially when they have a great shape like these below. Hear me cry friends, styling bookshelves is A LOT of work. It takes a lot of ¬†STUFF. And you’d love for all of it to mean something and if it doesn’t it better have a dramatic impact .



However, they also offer a lot of style opportunity if you think beyond the shelves. Don’t get me wrong, I love to style shelves. Its one of my things, shuffle, shuffle til its just right. But I also like to challenge myself to something new and different. Maybe pick one type of object that means something to that family and go wild with it. Its the nature of the beast, when you keep coming across the same ole, same ole, to do something exceptionally different with it.

Family dinners here…


If you know me, you know I’m itching to cover that octagon in paper or paint. ;-))


The keeping room, where life and lounging happen…




Fresh painted cabinets, a backsplash of back-painted glass and new hardware in the open kitchen concept.


We tried to paint the stone. We lost that battle.



The dining room and a peek of the foyer.



A new light sparkles in the grand two story foyer. What would you select for that sweet oblong space on the ceiling? Another opportunity. Stripes, graffiti, splattered paint, wallpaper, gold leaf, a soft hush of color, nothing at all – the possibilities are endless, the wallpaper options alone. Side note:¬†I’m so happy wallpaper’s back. I feel like Mom! She wallpapered our entire home (same here :-)) with her key hanging on a string by a nail concoction, to get her lines straight, into the wee hours of the night. Wake up and pow, and entire room was transformed. Go Mom.


I wish I had a before of the Mrs. home office but basically it was all brown wood. I couldn’t wait to see all that texture and trim work shine with new paint. Selecting the lighting plan for this house was bade to the bone fun.


Big picture window adorned with white silk.



The entire office was bathed in “Comfort Gray” by Sherwin Williams and its true! It gives you this comforting feeling ¬†when you walk in.


Our third set of built ins ;-)) we layered with metallic paper and took all the left over Cole and Sons wallpaper from the dining room ceiling and covered books with it for some consistency. I wanted each set of built ins to have its thing. Cole and Son here, crusty twined books in the living room and wood and bling in keeping room. An element to keep them all from looking too hodge podge.




First floor powder room with new bubble light, crunchy yummy grasscloth and a 1940s art deco mirror from Scott Antique Market. We painted the existing console and added new modern RH fixtures and hardware.


The original master bedroom


And after. I love this light! I was so happy to have the opportunity to use it again in this setting. Suzanne Kasler for Circa. She rules.



The fourth and final set. I was like kill me now but thankfully everyone was on board for omitting the shelves! Tres bien!


Upstairs, we styled the girls rooms, and two guest bedrooms and then party on, down to the basement…



We made three critical decisions: the floors, the white walls with black trim and painting the fireplace. This was one stone battle the Mrs. and I won. Yes!


But to me, the floors steal the show.


You want to swim in them! Or dance all day. Remember  dancing to Rock Lobster? Down, down, down.

Swimming in the ocean, ooh, ahh.

We went with black walls for the poker room and I envision¬†a bright bold masculine oushak rug here, wouldn’t that be a fun juxtaposition with the marble floors and snakeskin? ¬†Some classic Easy Rider oversized black and white photography, Tombstone, Goodfellows. A classic Hollywood vibe in red frames maybe?



The bar area was painted black and new backsplash added.



This house screams ENTERTAIN ME. ¬†I hope you’ve enjoyed! We’ll fill a few holes, add some crust and get it up on the portfolio page, which, we made some tweaks and added some updated photos if you’re still awake :-)). Werk, werk, werk. A huge heartfelt thank you to my wonderful clients for all these amazing opportunities to stretch the creativity prism. Happy days to you! Much more ahead on the road. Amen.

jenny from the rock


thumb’s up: the village of Port Austin and beyond

Happy summertime friends! We are winding down our annual escape from Hotlanta’s heat, traffic, stress sabbatical, here in Michigan. I’ve lost track of how long its been, but its been GLORIOUS. The weather gorgeous from day one! We visited many new places this trip, including the village of Port Austin, located at the tip of “the thumb” on beautiful Lake Huron. ¬†If my love for Michigan wasn’t big enough already, I’m convinced now, more than ever, what a special, one-of-a-kind place it is and determined to motivate you all to visit!


My sister had been vacationing in Port Austin for years, and last July she closed on her “up north” cottage here a block from these beautiful sunsets and the downtown business district. We all couldn’t have been happier for her!!



  • – Lana Del Ray


This year we started a new Fourth of July family tradition and spent the holiday here. It was awesome! ¬†Talk about the quintessential town to celebrate our country’s independence…a legit and lengthy parade through town and epic fireworks on the beach. It was all SO LAID BACK AND EASY. As soon as the first firework was heard from Jackie’s home, we walked right down to the beach and found a spot, no problem.

But first, a few shots of her sweet cottage. This front porch was made for napping! I told Jack she needs to put a daybed in the far corner for napping or sleeping to the sound of crickets at night.


Her sweet-as-pie kitchen window overlooking the backyard that is chuck full of towering lilac bushes, perennials galore, fresh mint, Mom’s hostas from home, you name it. Its always fun to buy a new home and see what pops up in the garden come Spring. And of course, a family favorite, lawn jarts was played all weekend. I chased down the same vintage set for you on sale here!¬†


Our love of starbursts runs in the family ;-))


I spent my mornings walking and drooling over these adorable cottages, this one right around the corner from hers just sold for $160K?! There is still great value to be had on the East coast of Michigan…


This patriotic house makes me want to start singing John Cougar’s Pink Houses every time I look at it…ain’t that a America for you and me


Go STATE ;-)))


Each block you pass, you catch a slice of the beautiful azure colors of Lake Huron. All roads lead to the lake.


These sweet little dumplings are available for rent, a block from the beach





It seems everyone wants to live in a modern farmhouse these days, myself included, and this one under renovation is no exception…


“God Bless America” is right! We need you big man, now more than ever.



Folks were securing their spot for the fabulous parade. Don’t you just love all the flags?!


The views from this screen porch gah!


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I snapped a shot of this home for charm school inspiration…the shutters to one side and flower boxes were adorable.


All the flower boxes throughout Northern Michigan are on steroids. So pretty.


The perfect place to watch the parade


The Port Austin Lady Stompers. These gals know how to boogie, and boogied on down the whole parade.


A shot of the beach at Veteran’s Park. There is a big pier to walk. It was the first thing I did after the drive up.


On every corner throughout downtown, they spray paint inspirational thoughts and quotes, adding to the town’s undeniable charm.


Port Austin is known for its Farmer’s Market every Saturday. I didn’t get to experience it, but enjoyed a ton of great food from it. Thank you family.

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(photo courtesy of port austin farmers market)

The village is also known for its great kayaking, and main attractions Turnip Rock and the Port Austin Lighthouses. My family made it to Turnip Rock the day after I left. Hated to miss it. Next year.

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(photo courtesy of the most amazing places on earth)

In case you were wondering what the homes and terrain were like along Lake Huron, here is a shot of a family friend’s home, his back yard is all beach!¬†Just East of Port Austin is the Point Aux Barques private family community of 66 “cottages” and a 9 hole golf course, dating back to 1896. Check out their website here. The homes are magnificent!


After the fourth, I headed West to our family’s cottage on Torch Lake, which took me down the thumb’s coastline and across the state. This was my view for a good portion of the drive. Windows down, music up, cruising in Big Poppy’s hooptie (a 1997 Lincoln Town Car that feels like your sitting on a sofa while driving). Complete with hood ornament! I have a secret fascination with hood ornaments. I think we need to bring em back.


I passed through some great old towns, some deserted with such potential. You could just see and imagine life here in its heyday.


Ain’t that America for you and me…





How cool would this old service station be recreated as a restaurant with open air seating. I’d leave the brick patina EXACTLY as it looks now…



On my route, there was one town that BLEW me away – Bay City! I had never been. Always heard of it growing up, had some college friends from here, recall Mom and Dad visiting here for some famous Italian restaurant, but truly had NO IDEA how charming and authentic the homes would be. Here’s me trying to snap some from the car as I rolled own Center Avenue.¬†I finally had to pull over and get out to take pictures because I couldn’t take it, they were all so great!

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A stunning white beauty!

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My favorite was this cream painted brick beauty…

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The color palette on this one was perfect with all that beautiful stone.


With a pea gravel drive…


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They just don’t make em like they use to. Look at all the detail. Its insane.

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I left that town feeling all giddy and grateful I had stumbled upon such greatness. We will definitely make a point to visit again! I’d like to ride bikes and weave my way up and down all the streets of these historic neighborhoods. Here’s my attempt to get a shot of the riverfront area from my window…


That’s all for now. I’ll be back to share some of the other coast of pure Michigan and finally, the shots I took of the Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island years ago. Also, I’ve been working on #lorishouse here and will have some exterior updates to share. But first…back to painting the porch and landscaping at Lori’s House today (Its going to be a “motrin me” day for sure), before heading downtown Detroit tonight to experience one of the first Michelin star rated restaurants to open up in the city in decades. GREAT things are happening in the D. But time is ticking! Come Sunday I’ll be driving back to the South SOBBING ;-))) ¬†School starts early August for us. Nooooo! Cry!

Cheers friends! I know you all are enjoying the greatest season of the year…when we all let off the gas a bit, spend more time with family and soak up the beautiful outdoors. Summer is pure straight LOVE.


Jennifer Sunshine


The Butter Beans Antique Barn Sale Going on NOW

I was so thrilled to be home this weekend to catch this talented antique dealer’s barn sale! If you live anywhere in Southeast Michigan, you need to jump in your car and go! The name is Butter Bean’s Antiques and you can like their Facebook page HERE. Believe me when I tell you, it’s a beautiful collection of Americana antiques and vintage items and just an overall FEEL GOOD kind of place, that preaches kindness, patriotism, among many other great qualities! The proprietor, Amy Nolfo’s eye, staging and styling skills are off the chart as you will see…scroll on down!

Great, great prices on all of the case good pieces.


this windmill!




This guy was a STEAL at six hundred and change, oh and everything is 20 percent off the price marked for making the trek. So worth the backroads, country drive! And there is a nice family garage sale going on across the street to raise money for a mission trip to Africa. If you don’t see anything you like, maybe you can make a small donation ;-))))


Really wishing I had room in the truck for this pie safe for my farmhouse style client back home!


The whole place made me want to sell everything and move to a farm! Simplify and surround myself with all this crusty, yummy goodness (and some pigs, chickens and dogs). I enjoyed reading all the sale tags of the antiques from all over the Midwest…Indiana, Ohio, Michigan…makes being home feel even better.



An all time favorite quote of so many of us…beautiful quotes scrolled everywhere…kinda bummed I didn’t get to meet Amy, the talent behind all of this. No doubt she is a beautiful soul and true talent!





Be a great spirit! No haters¬†mediocre minds welcome here…





Amazing shelf unit SOLD to one lucky customer…I wish it were me.




God bless Flint Michigan! Picked this up for $8 for the hubs. I guess I’m into collecting ash trays for him lately. He enjoys a good cigar from time to time.¬†IMG_5475 IMG_5472



HOLD the phone! These birch branch arbors?!?!



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Lots of love for the mitten! I don’t know what it is, but Michiganders have an overwhelming sense of pride for their state (Texas comes to mind too). I don’t know if its from the recession when the government wanted to leave the auto industry for DEAD, or the fact that Detroit has been trying to make a comeback for almost 50 years and finally showing true promise (knock on wood) but its palpable. Everywhere you go, its all about “made in Michigan” and supporting the home state economy.


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Some great unique options for coffee tables…


These guys were $35 bucks and in my humble opinion would make a great cottage, cabin or farmhouse coffee table…


More finds outside…

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And lastly a “cheap and chix” area where you just make a pile and they give you a price. I found a 100 year old wooden altar hook for two bucks!

This fab chair?! If I wasn’t up to my ears in chairs #chairobsessed

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And there you have it! Get yourself on over to Butter Barn Antiques Sale at 5541 Consear Road, in Ottowa Lake, Michigan 49267. The sale ends on the 26th and opens again July 28 – 31. Check out their Facebook page for all remaining sale dates in 2016!

Much love from the mitten!


Jenny from the rock



Scottsdale and Santa Fe

So I’ve been on a bit of travel tear lately. It all started with the college roomies trip to Scottsdale (we try and take a trip once every 12- 18 months, if we can swing it), while a friend here in Atlanta offered up the opportunity to visit Santa Fe – all in the same week. Santa Fe has been on my hit list for years so I somehow finagled both (the Hubs is really rocking that “hubby of the year” crown I coronated him with last post ;-)). And away I went for ten days. No one to take care of or worry about but me???? Glorious. Admittedly I was a little bit intimated, worried I’d get homesick, but alas, I returned a recharged, grateful, wife, mom, designer and sold the whole fam on returning to Santa Fe again someday soon.

Here are all the great colors and inspirational pics, starting with Scottsdale, great climate, great hikes, great views, including this one of Camelback Mountain from our rock star rental.


Hit some well-designed, trendy spots and the spa at the Fairmont.

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Shopped in Old Town Scottsdale and discovered an amazing vintage clothing boutique, maybe the best ever. You can follow her HERE.

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I had a day to kill in between so the hubs scored me a rental car and I shared a few laughs with strangers – rolling dirty with my smart cart, into the airport car rental…”going somewhere?!” ¬†The Sparty girls sent me on my way with all the leftover food and wine.


The views were absolutely amazing. Such a beautiful country we live in! It was a great road trip. Took me back to the days Mike and I drove from San Fran to Atlanta. To think about what life was like back then, pre-children, no worries, jobs waiting for you in the next city, just rolling.

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Once I made it to Aunt Betsy’s house in Santa Fe, I had an entire day to kill before the Atlanta/Birmingham contingent showed up. I was absolutely enamored with Aunt Betsy’s home! So collected and styled to a T!

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Every time you turned around, something new and shiny to catch your eye…

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So much awesome color, texture, architectural elements. The home reminded me so much of Papa Maurice’s and Grandma Jan’s first cottage on Torch Lake. Cozy, collected, loaded with textures and colorful patterns, all weaved together so eloquently. I have to dig out some pictures, you all would love it. I still dream about it and wish I could bring it all back, but with a little of today’s twist thrown in.

Then it was time to investigate one of the most amazing, charming and unique towns this country has to offer. Truly!

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The lobby of The Saint Francis Hotel. Amazing cocktails.


the most beautiful drinking fountain I’ve laid eyes on…

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The shopping in Santa Fe, to use a beaten-down term, SICK.

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This guy’s candy shop was off the chain. Such an artist!

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Mom had these awesome beaded ornaments from the 70s! I wish they would make a comeback.



These boots! What a dream. Too bad they were the price of a small car. I just can’t help but think how many people you could feed for the price of something like these. You hope whoever buys them, spends ten times that amount helping others. Luckily for us Americans, they probably do. We are a very philanthropic nation, thank God. Let’s keep it up! We can always do better. Too many babies hungry. I keep telling myself to set aside a day to investigate and research philanthropies that are near and dear, and get those donations set up on automatic draft. Ten, fifteen, twenty, any amount makes a difference.

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The floors in this studio were magnificent!


I spotted this ribbon in the studio and it had actually come from the candy shop above?! Does that man have a great eye or what? Folks like him set my world on fire. God bless the creatives, the artists, the renegades.

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Pretty much every building and home looks like this, unreal.


Highlight of the trip was hitting the rail yard flea market and farmer’s market. Total party!


Just take a gander any which way for beautiful vistas.

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We met fashion designer Randolph Duke and his business partner Tracy. Two of THE most fashionable, colorful and fun people I’ve ever met. They were an absolute blast. Every time I rock one of their necklaces or piece of clothing, I think of them and wish good things for their adventures in Santa Fe.


This mirror, all disco. I told Randolph if you lived in Atlanta, I would bring every single client I had to your shop or warehouse. Such great objects to layer in that little bit of sass, texture, authenticity to any space, style.

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Jesus! My savior!


I should have asked how much the sunglasses were. Dang it. They are awesome.


Found another great booth where everything was half off (it was the last week of the flea, feeling even more lucky having known this). Did I mention my suitcase weighed in at 68 pounds? Yikes.


Really wanted this Last Supper painting and wishing I’d made room for it in my suitcase…its the Last Supper Jen?!

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Grabbed this killer ashtray for the hubby and his cigars. He LOVED it. Good call mama.

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The Farmer’s Market…so good! So fun! Great music and amazing food.

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And if that wasn’t enough goosebumps and goodness for one day, we came across this amazing home store…


Again, one of the best I’ve been to. So well curated! Immediately I started firing off pics to my designer babes back home. Every one see inspiration and details differently, you just never know how you might inspire someone else. Hence, why blogging and sharing these pics is so fun and a lovely art form. Even as I add them to this post, I’m spotting new colors, patterns, (sunglasses?! arrrr) ¬†I didn’t noticed before.

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This type of fence is EVERYWHERE in Santa Fe and a gorgeous, affordable option. So much great texture and crust…two of our favorite words! And so functional too. The perfect axis of design.

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Fell hard for this table, what a great bar table it would make!

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And last but not least, some beautiful hiking at Bandelier National Monument. Incredible! If there is one thing our government does really well, its our national park systems.


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Overcoming my fear of heights! ;-))


Last night in paradise!


It was a beautiful tour of the Southwest. A great, chicken-soup-for-the-soul trip in such a scenic, artistic part of our country.

I hope you have a great week! I spent this past weekend with hosts Shaw Floors at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival and some of my design sisters from the Southern Living Designer Network. It was fantastic to see them again and the folks from Shaw were hyper generous and so informative and passionate about their products. A great collaboration. I will be back to share those details, a Charm School update and my tour of London town for my birthday! Cheerio!



I bought a house on my childhood street!

Can you stand it?! I thought my little pipe dream of plucking up some of my favorite cottages on my childhood street, was a way-off, distant daydream for when the kids were old and off to college. But thanks to my hubs (hubby of the year!) as well as a friend who told me about somewhere like Money Expert, it happened last month! He gave me the green light to purchase a charming 1928 cottage I’ve been in love with for years (it has a unique sloped roof line for our town – my first attraction to a home is the roof line) and that I actually played here as a child is kinda cool too. I just couldn’t stomach to see it go again to someone who wouldn’t love it as much as me! :-))) And what better way to cook up some major momentum for my hometown charity I’m launching, “Charm School” than this great new design project/journey?! So without further delay let’s take a look at the work we have ahead of us. I want to use every creative outlet, budget-friendly, earth-friendly, recycle, course of action possible to make her SHINE AGAIN and showcase the fact that great STYLE does not cost a fortune.
Here she is, the little dumpling!

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And she already has a name, more on that in a bit.

So whenever I see “home build in 1928” my mind thinks tons of character, original hardwood floors, solid core doors, vintage hardware, plaster walls, probably a small kitchen, one or 1.5 baths, hopefully a cloths chute ;-), lots of great trim work and character…kind of like the house I grew up in across the street from here.

Detail of the plaster work on my parent’s ceiling…

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More original trim work and interior door detail of my childhood bedroom and our favorite thing growing up…the cloth’s chute!

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I’ll never forget building our first home here in Georgia, and the realization “they just don’t build em like they use to!” I walked around my parent’s home and said DAD do you have any idea what this home would cost you to build in today’s world? But yet these little jewel boxes back home, go for peanuts!

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(martha stewart)

The color palette for the home will be white, black and light blue. I fly home next month and will plan the entire home in three days! When I’m there, I’ll videotape the home for our next post.
I plan on landscaping the entire front yard this Summer, in a blue hydrangea, purple lilac, French lavender kind of color palette. If there is one thing we all miss terribly from our childhood, it is the enormous lilac bushes that grew across the street from our home. We would pick them for days and never make a dent. They were third base during some heated baseball games…”third base are the lilac bushes!”… and when the wind blew, the smell would fill our home. It was the BEST.

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First thing’s first, the entrance. Gotta make one right? Everything here is so rigid, too tight and straight. No more! I’d love to blow out the front steps and take em the width of the porch, so you’re not all discombobulated walking in and out but not sure budget is there at this point. So expanding and making the front door more welcoming would be a plus. I’d like to roll a path to the edge of the driveway and along the side of the house to the back yard (the back yard has major garden potential. It’s almost as if no one ever planted a bush or tree back there ever – really sad). We’ll mark off every beginning and end of paths with pairs of sculptured boxwoods, adding layers every Summer, until we have this great collection garden vignettes. Maybe a lamp post too or a little white picket fence accent? Key words here are welcoming, inviting, charming.

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This home down the street has always been an inspiration to me. My whole life, Mrs. N. was cute-as-pie working in her yard with her big Holly Hobby sunbonnet hat.

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Love her light post too! The world needs more charming light posts, or better yet gas lanterns.

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She also has a side-entry garage, like our new charm school house, and I hope our side view is as pretty and polished someday too.

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So there are a lot of these red pavers things, like everywhere. I’m thinking we can repurpose these in a fun, tasteful and creative way at some point this Summer.

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I want to repurpose as much as possible, except for the hot tub, hah, and this awkward floating deck in the middle of the yard. I think platform decks are cool, when placed in the right vicinity and scale of the property. This one, not so much. Maybe we relocate it towards the back yard, back of garage or next to the house?

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All the landscaping will flow in waves instead of the straight and serious. And I’d like to add real board and batten shutters (they are easy to construct) with real hinges and shutter dogs to hold them in place. Our goal is authenticity. I’d like to paint all the exterior window mullions a pale pretty blue this Summer and the house needs a good ole power washing for sure. I’ll be putting Big Poppy and the Hubs to work! :-)))

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Can we please outlaw the chain link fence (and metal awnings!) like now? The actual chain link part isn’t so bad, hey its geometric, maybe framed in wood would be a cool modern take for a Midcentury house, but by itself, it’s depressing aeh? So this section is history as well as the overgrown bushes (go figure the only bushes they planted are constricting your entry). We will replace it eventually with a white picket fence and arbor and expand the footprint towards the driveway so it’s not so cumbersome to get through gate, in back door, with groceries in hand. And I want the arbor to be visible towards the street.
In my daydreams, I want all the homes I hope to fix up, to have a big American flag, tasteful house numbers, an arbor with climbing roses and some white picket fence flavor somewhere on the property.

Here is a beautiful example of a custom gate with arbor. So lovely!

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More of those pavers I was telling you about…we’ve got our work cut out for us! All of this is getting blown up and the hot tub is for sale if you know anyone interested.

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This picture of the deck gives you a better idea of its not so great placement. The stain color is the worst. Sorry not sorry.

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Good news is the house has A/C, which was not all that common back in the days when we were fighting over fans. Bad news is, they couldn’t have picked a worse spot to locate the unit so I’m going to see about getting it moved to the side of the house, other side of the fence. Hoping my big brother can handle this for me. I’m going to paint the entire stone foundation black, so it disappears behind new landscaping.

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Let’s talk about that garage AND how cute its going to be wrapped in board and batten ;-))))) More lilac bushes and Evergreen trees along the back property line

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Our garage inspiration photo…

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(keller williams realty)

If money grew on trees, I’d cut out this entire two door mechanism, hardware, etc., and relocate it to the back of the garage, where you could open it for entertaining…wouldn’t that be cool? Block party! And then install a more conventional, automatic garage door. But for now she stays.

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Can’t decide if I should paint the doors black and/or add my favorite “x” motif to each panel? Have to see what Uncle Pauley, my carpenter, says about that.

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I love that it is a side entry garage. I’ll trim the edges of the driveway so they are looking sharp and tight. The poor home just needs love!

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I’ll be poaching a ton of Mom’s hostas…not an ounce of landscaping back here. I figure we’ll start in pockets, key places of interest and build from there.

Okay, time for the inside!

Front porch, carpet, eew, and the fan, gone-zos. Ceiling will be painted “ceiling porch blue”. No brainer. Again, everything needs a good scrub, power wash.

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We started demo on the floors and nothing but particle board underneath. Bummer. No pretty wood floors to paint a pattern on. So I’m thinking the painted porcelain tiles. Give it some muted color and pattern. They are low maintenance, affordable, durable and stylish. We’ll finish off the look with some outdoor drapes (and hopefully start a trend…can’t say I’ve seen any outdoor drapes around town yet?) and make it cozy and create lots of interest from the street. As a kid, I rode my bike past homes all the time and wondered what it would be like to live there and would like little dreamers to do the same when passing by here. BTW the front yard has a 100 -year-old tree with all these big arms perfect for a tree swing! I’m thinking there use to be one when I was little. I can’t quite recall.

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Big beautiful original front door with original hardware. This little niche will be covered in some left-over grasscloth from our foyer. The look on airport security’s face when they scan my suitcase next month…wallpaper, scones, drapes, hardware. Although I’m sure they’ve seen it ALL.

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All the interior knobs are original glass. Notice the two mismatched screws. This kind of stuff drives me nuts. Designers are very detailed (or insane). Take your pick. ;-))

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All interior doors will be painted black and the walls and trim “Swiss Coffee” from Benjamin Moore. Contemplating painting all interior mullions black too. Because we are on a budget, we have to get as much design bang for our buck with PAINT. I’d love to be able to bring in some professional interior house painters to make my life much easier, but my budget doesn’t quite allow for that. The living room is wired for two sconces – yay! Love sconces. And you know that ceiling fan’s day’s are numbered.

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I LOVE the stair rail and how the bottom stair rounds the bottom.

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I had a feeling the home was chuck full of original hardwoods and happy days – it is!

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To the left, is this great bonus room with all these windows (and this funky chandelier that’s coming home to Atlanta with me if I cannot find a worthy place for it here).

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I’m thinking a big paper lantern might be a neat juxtaposition to the ornate ceiling medallion and look really cool from the street, through all those windows. Blinds are coming down and I’ll outfit this room with black out lined drapes. Whoever gets to rent this house, I hope will appreciate all the great window treatments I’m putting in it.

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(the exuberant home)

And maybe we get a little crazy with the ceiling medallions and add a few or five or ten clustered around the center ceiling? That might be fun!

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Decorating this place will be a blast, I have heard about a few furniture companies out that are interesting especially when it comes to finding beds and mattresses. If you’re interested you might want check out something like Leesa. This home is a two bedroom, tough sell, so we are going to line the entire back wall of this bonus room with IKEA cabinets for major closet and storage space, making it a third bedroom. Here’s a few examples.

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(little green notebook)

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(jenna sue design)

One of the other key selling points of this home, for me, was that the basement is partially finished and stubbed for another full bath so we’ll have to trick it out down there and make it feel not at all like a basement but more great living space. It has some decent natural light too. Better some than none!

Here is the dining room…I’m not really sure if the ceiling is original. I think it might be one of those paintable wallpapers. I’ll have to get a closer look. If it is in decent shape, we’ll accent it with a pretty color. I’ve been stalking the lights at World Market, Lowes, Home Depot and IKEA trying to come up with a cohesive, affordable but stylish lighting plan.

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These ugly glue down floors were ripped up as well, revealing originals underneath.

And rounding out the first floor, the very small kitchen.

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But we love a good kitchen design challenge! Here it is gutted and ready for some serious help…

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We’re going to steal from the coat closet (the bump out you see on the left…all the more reason to add those IKEA closets in the bonus room) and possibly knock down the wall between the dining room and kitchen for obvious reasons. Again, I’m dying to get in there and start measuring and sketching out a more functional, cottage kitchen. We’ll be using IKEA cabinets, a countertop that looks like marble and exposed shelves, for starters.

Down the stairs to the basement. Notice all the hodge podge trim work everywhere (and the flipping cable cords). Drives me nuts. Because the finished basement is going to be such a necessity for a home this size, this back stairway has to be well designed and feel comfy and inviting. I promise, it will. Pulling out all the tricks in my bag for this project!

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Starting with this small square landing when you walk in. We are covering it in brick. The nice thing about a small cottage home is you have all this opportunity to add great texture and style in small, affordable doses. I think brick will be a great first impression at the back door, with your wet and snowy boots. The stairs will be covered in a rough and tough berber. Remember it gets really COLD in Michigan. We gotta keep things cozy where we can.

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This poor home, it so needs a good paint job! Clients are still surprised when I tell them to paint all their interior doors dark. If this door was black, we’d never know it was so DIRTY. I’ll get some great pics of the basement next month to share.

Upstairs hallway and more carpet. All has been ripped out. The entire home top to bottom is hardwood, except for the kitchen. So we need to decide on a floor finish! I really want to do a white wash kind of look. Keep things bright and cheerful.

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I’m crazy about all the angles up here. Angles look great wallpapered! ;-)))

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The cable cords are really annoying ;-))

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And lastly the full bath upstairs that will get a total face lift, again, because of its size, it won’t take much. The le toilet is conveniently tucked behind the door, out of sight. We like that.

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Old school medicine cabinet stays. Strip the hardware.

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I really like the idea of painting the trim around the medicine cabinet black, and maybe all the trim in the bathroom and bedrooms upstairs, black like the picture below. This house will have a very cohesive, consistent black, white and textured theme throughout.

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(country living)

I can’t help but think of Tobi Tobin’s home in House Beautiful when I think about this home’s design. I went wild when I saw it featured! And blogged about it here.

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So team what do you think?! I’ve completely lost my mind? Hah! I will admit every time I think about this house, it brings a big fat smile to my face. I’m super excited to see it come to fruition. I hope you’ll follow along as I embark on my very own fixer upper / rehab attic in my little hometown of Flat Rock, Michigan!

And I’m counting on all my hometown friends to help spread the word, check in here (and on Instagram) on the progress and ask for help on their own homes! I want this home to serve as the poster child for charm school and inspire and ignite others to get EXCITED about their homes!

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Now that I’m officially a taxpayer, I filled out the city planning survey, and suggested the city award folks a beautification award (like the home above). I know they use to do this for businesses in town, why not homes? Maybe even section off the neighborhoods and start a Home Owner’s Association for each quadrant. It will do nothing but help home values and put money in people’s pockets, while instilling a sense of community pride and knowing your neighbors better. I don’t know what I would do without the love and support of my neighbors here in Georgia. I totally get where Moses was going with “Love Thy Neighbor” :-)))

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The sweet folks that moved into this house, painted it red and line their entire curb with flowers every Summer, like Charlevoix in Northern Michigan. I’d say that’s worthy of a mention. I’ve started a pinterest board HERE called “Level Pebble (CHARM SCHOOL)” loaded with easy and stylish ideas to get you in the spirit.

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Mom was a big fan of this home and did an amazing sketch of it below…

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NOW about the name of the house…I’ll never forget the day I finally had enough money to buy my first Kate Spade bag, you know, the black rectangular nylon shape everyone was carrying in the late 90s. However, I didn’t want to be like everyone else, so I chose a different style. It was called the “Elise” I believe (one of my best friends -perfect) and the sales lady explained that Kate names all her bag styles after her friends and family. Wow HOW COOL is that, I thought,as I sat there a second day dreaming about a day in the life where I made something I could name after my badass family and friends. Then again recently I read about Gwyneth’s new make up line and how all the lipsticks are named after her girlfriends. I don’t know if I’ll ever have enough homes in “The Rock” to remodel and name after friends, but this first one is FOR CERTAIN going to be named the Lori Ann house, after my best friend who lost her battle to Lupus weeks after her 40th birthday. I can’t even begin to describe what a shock that was to all of us or what its like to drive by her childhood home we played in when I’m back and cry in front of my kids. :-((

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(Lori’s childhood home. When she lived here, her Mom had a dress shop downstairs, The Julia Shop, and they carried Esprit cloths! Remember those?)

I never in a million years thought Lupus could take her life. So without a doubt, my first little dream cottage will be in her honor. Mom’s got her house, my Sister has hers, my Mother-in-law built her dream cottage on Torch, this one’s all for Lor. xoxo

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So there you have it! Thank you all so much for stopping by and sharing this new adventure with me! I want to take a moment to thank my reluctant Husband again in helping me get started and make a difference in my hometown that was so good to me growing up. Giving back is the spice of life.

Have a beautiful and CHARMING day team!