The 1893 House

This suburban New Jersey project has been under way for us for about 6 months now, with DBK involved for a little over 2 months. They found the home last summer and immediately started seeking out contractors and an architect and I didn’t step onto the project until the architects plans were complete and the crew was about to break down the walls.

I love this project. I love this old home, the clients, the character in the details, the things we are able to salvage and retain and the things we are working so hard to incorporate to get it back to it’s hay-day style. (The pictures above are from the real estate listing which didn’t share photographer information, but since I came on board late there was already a bit of debris around the house so I wanted to share something so you could at least envision the space before it became a construction zone.)

I love being able to walk in and envision film reels of this house’s glory days. I can’t wait for this couple to be able to enjoy their own glory days in the homes renewed beauty when we are done with it.

That said, when I first walked in and walked through with the client, I was awe struck. The details truly are magnificent and they really don’t make homes like this anymore. However, upon seeing the architects plans for the house, I had to proceed with making a few adjustments, and without hesitation, I brought up my concerns with the client.

Basically I had concerns with the layout of the master suite, and the flow of the kitchen. There were some minor issues with the hall bath that we caught and addressed before they would become an issue, and we have more recently been combing through the electrical plan and making sure the lighting is enough and that we have our proper layers of light in each space. (The lighting I will have to share more on another day, because I get so excited just mentioning it… I can’t wait until it’s actually all in place.)

For the Master Suite (first five images in this photo group), the changes were made but didn’t get to the construction crew in time, and because of this, we had to re-frame the master suite (relocating closet space and bathroom space). It was extremely frustrating for the crew and I’m pretty sure the GC is still upset with me, but honestly, these are the details we need to make sure are done with 100% accuracy so that when move in date comes and the client is using the space, they are moving through it with complete ease.

Good design of a space isn’t just fitting it all in. It is making sure there is good function and flow… making sure that the end user can function well and thrive in their new environment. I truly believe that is key to any successful design project.

So, the changes were made. The space is really beginning to take shape and the home is opening up beautifully. (The last picture in the lower grouping is of the kitchen space opened up now into the dining room area… I can’t wait to see how the light and space feels when framing is complete!)

I will share more progress as we move through and make more progress. All of the photos here are obviously rough and in the works as the construction team has been working through all the rough work. Hopefully I can give you an update next month that is a little more resembling of a place you would actually enjoy spending time.

What do you think so far of this project? Would you be brave enough to buy a 100+ year old home and take on it’s restoration? I have been sharing a lot of in process images from this space over on my Instagram and you can follow along with the hashtag #dbkproject1893 to see some updates and selections along the way.

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The Life Changing Magic

So this year one of my goals was to spend more time reading and to make my own home a priority in getting it to the same level of comfort as I work so hard to help my clients get to in their homes.

"The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up", Marie Kondo, KonMari Method, KonMari, LIfechanging Magic, Life Changing, Tidying UP, Organization, Spring Cleaning, Sorting, Home, Japanese art of decluttering, declutter

Well I’m busy, so time to read ends up falling pretty low on the totem pole, but I had heard so much about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo that I thought maybe that would be a good way to get two birds. Read something that helps me get my own home more in order.

So again, with no time to read, I posted on Facebook about audio book apps and what people thought of them. Most of my friends left comments raving about both Audibles and Overdrive, and I would be willing to try either, however Overdrive is a free service that works in connection with library systems so it is only as good as the library you are linked to and Audibles is a monthly fee for one book per month or a higher fee for multiple books. You can look into more on that here, but I ultimately decided to download Overdrive and connected using my Mom’s library card to start and see about the service.

Her library is amazing and so far has had every title I have searched for and I’m on my third book with more on hold… I might be addicted to audio books. 

That said, the first book we listened to was the life changing magic, to learn the KonMari method. I say we because I wanted to make sure that P and I listened together so that we could work on the process together, sense after all we share the 525SF space equally with equal amounts of possessions that add to our chaos and do not bring us joy.

We started listening to the book on Monday the 18th I want to say. On Friday the 22nd there was a blizzard brewin’ so I stopped at Home Goods on my way home to buy some organizational baskets and things. Friday night we listened to more of the book and Saturday morning we listened throughout brunch until we got to a point where we felt we had heard enough to get the concept and start working on it. (This was about 2/3 through the book where she had completed discussing the order of the process and how the process works, so we were in a good place really to start.)

"The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up", Marie Kondo, KonMari Method, KonMari, LIfechanging Magic, Life Changing, Tidying UP, Organization, Spring Cleaning, Sorting, Home, Japanese art of decluttering, declutter

Everything all laid out, ready to sort. No judgement!

I have to say, at first it was hard and I did end up with a lump in my throat sorting through some items. P and I discussed it and he said that he learned after a few ‘tough’ items to figure out, he realized that he really knew which way he should go on them and some things were just harder to detach from, but if they don’t look good, feel good, etc., then do they really bring you joy just taking up space?

We moved past the hump, finishing our clothes and by Sunday morning our closet was put back together in such a stunning way, and we had rearranged our bedroom minimally but gained so much space in the process! (Can’t wait to share more on this down the road!)

The order that Marie Kondo discusses in her book is first clothing, then books, papers, komono and mementos. Komono is a Japanese term that basically covers all of the miscellaneous items you may have, such as linens, cleaning products, medicines, accessories around the home, kitchen goods (from dishes to the items in your pantry), etc., so this is a vast category to get through.

Sunday we worked through all of our books, then started on the komono (there is a specific list/order to follow mentioned in the book).

Monday after work, we went through our papers, realizing we had skipped this necessary and evil step.

Tuesday we sorted through a few more areas of komono in the morning, and then started taking a few things to the car to donate.

Tuesday night we took out our narrow dresser that had been in our closet along with our old filing cabinet, both now empty, down to the street (in JC if you put any furniture on the curb, people will come pick it up in under 24 hours) and someone else had picked them up by the time I got home from work the next evening. The last few nights and mornings upon coming and going to work, we have taken a few more items and loaded them into the car.

This morning, I took the first car load to the Goodwill Donation Center. In this car-load alone, we donated 10 garbage bags of clothing/shoes/accessories, 2 boxes of ‘komono,’ 2 folding chairs. At home we still have 3 bags of closthing/komono, one box of books and one more folding chair to donate that wouldn’t fit in the car this time around. That and we still have about half of the komono category to go through. Not to mention, we have also taken something like 6 bags down to the garbage and recycling (mostly recycling when we can!) since we started sifting through everything, and we have one stuffed bag to take to the shredder.

Here is what I am feeling throughout this process. First of all, holy shit. How is it possible that we even had so many things just sitting around, stuffed in corners and hidden away in the back of our closet that we truly don’t love?! That in and of itself is crazy. Second of all, I feel amazing. I am starting to feel lighter in my space.

When I would come home from work before, it was always hard for me to feel calm. I always felt like there was something that had to be taken care of because there is always stuff everywhere and surfaces covered. Especially doing what I do I have always felt a bit of guilt that my home doesn’t look and feel as beautiful as my clients do.

Homes should be lived in, and that means they should have stuff. You should have things that are meaningful to you laying out on your surfaces. Things that when you see them bring you joy. But you shouldn’t have a seemingly bottomless pile of junk mail covering a section of your kitchen counter no matter how many times you clear away that section. You shouldn’t have your electronics (laptops, iPads, etc.) just laying around on the coffee table. And you shouldn’t have a pile of miscellaneous crap just sitting on the table for no good reason. For these reasons, I am completely absorbed and invested in the KonMari method. The life changing magic is no joke.

I can feel our life changing. I can feel the weight of the things that don’t matter to us that have been filling our lives being lifted away.

For now, things are still in a state of chaos as we are still sifting through things one day at a time and around the time when we are at work or my client appointments, etc., because this takes time. The more you have, the longer it can take. In the book Marie Kondo says that it can take up to 6 months for some people… I’m aiming to be done in less than one just because I don’t do well with things up in the air-I need some sense of finality, but I also want it to be done right, so we will get it done when we can.

We have still been listening to the book and are just about finished with it. I have started to get really excited about what this ‘life change’ means for us moving forward. I think we will be so much more comfortable and relaxed in our home.

I will report back once we are truly finished with the process and the book as a whole, but I had to share what we have been up to and how amazing it has been so far. It is certainly not easy, and I wouldn’t recommend starting the process without considering what it means and if you are really mentally/emotionally/physically ready for the grueling process. I also have to say that having your spouse (or house-mates) on board is HUGE. For me, knowing that P is in this with me has been so wonderful. I feel supported and that it is a joint effort to move forward with a tidier lifestyle, and thus I feel my efforts are not wasted but matched.

Have you heard all the rage on the KonMari method and this book? Do you buy it? Do you want to try it? If you have questions, chime in in the comments section, I’m happy to help if I can!

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Dressing Room Details

Last week, I shared a dressing room in progress with the promise of more to come. So this week, while I await the final details to come together, I want to share with you the furnishing selections and accessory choices for the space.

For this space, offering a seating space –where she could sit to put her shoes on, or he could relax while she was finishing her make-up — was key. But I wanted the seating space to feel inviting enough to act as a place to escape when they just wanted to relax as well.

I had first wanted a settee or a chaise lounge, but for size and space reasons also considered chairs for the space.

Options 1 & 2 felt too linear for the space, like you would always have to sit in them with proper posture. Option 3 is a great shape and option 4 is a good style, though a bit too long and lean, but both were slightly out of reach for the budget on this space. Options 5 & 6 were perfectly relaxed but just a hair too long for the space, both coming in at a little more than five feet in length. Option 7 again, is a bit too straight, but the velvety texture makes up for that. And Option 8 was just right!

For the rugs, the option was to go shaggy or tufted for the texture and solid or patterned with the coloration. Here are the options we narrowed it down to:

The first option is a tonal shag, with a pattern that felt too large in scale both for the space and for the size of rug we would be getting. The second option was beautiful, but again, was just too large scale for the space. The third option, I really fell in love with everything about, but overall the pattern was a bit too abstract for the space we were putting together. The fourth option is shaggy in a super lux and silky texture, which fit perfectly with everything we were aiming for in the space.

The client found this great mirrored vanity for a steal, and we sourced this very similarly detailed stool to accompany the piece:

The last decorative pieces are the window treatments, art and accessories.

I found the art (Audrey|Chaplin) and immediately knew it was perfect for the space, well everything except the size. The prints were too wide! After much searching we found similar prints on art.com that have been ordered. The window treatments were narrowed down to these two options, and although the black and white had a great velvety texture, the silver was the right move for this space. I played around with a lot of pillow and throw options for about a month, online, in stores, you name it. But finally, the day the install started, I landed on the two options above while playing around at West Elm. We quickly decided that the first option would shed too much on clothes while getting ready and wasn’t worth the risk no matter how cozy. The alternate was a great way to incorporate the velvety texture I keep trying to bring into the space, the larger pillow nods to the paint color, while the smaller pillow keeps things feminine, and that throw is incredibly soft.

So, there you have it! Now for the last few little details to come in and we will be home free! Can’t wait to get them in there and finish the space so that I can photograph it and share it with you all!!

WIP|Dressing Room

One of the projects I am really excited about right now is a dressing room I’m working on for a great couple. The house is an older home with tiny existing closets, but at the top of the stairs to their second level, there is a larger bedroom to the left, the master, a bathroom directly across from the stairs, a linen closet next to the stairs on the right and a smaller bedroom on the end of the hall just past the linen closet.

A look at the exiting extra bedroom just after moving into the home:

Since they have two additional bedrooms on the first floor, we’ve decided to convert the second bedroom upstairs into a large walk-in closet, or dressing room, creating a full master suite upstairs. The room has stunning hardwood floors, an existing closet, and for resale purposes it may need to be converted back into a bedroom, so we are anchoring all of the shelving into the walls which can be patched and painted easily enough when the time comes.

Personally, I think that the dressing room would be an excellent sales feature on its own without being converted back, but resale won’t be for a while.

The first thing we did upon my first visit to the home was take a look at all of the shoes, clothing and handbags that they were hoping to house in the dressing room. I then needed to see the space. I took my measurements and hit the drawing boards.

I came up with two options for them in the space calculating the number of items each could potentially hold and presented each to them. To help them better envision how each would feel in the space, I measured out some of the key pieces and marked them with blue painters tape on the floor, and once we could all really see how the space would lay out, a plan was very easily selected.

From the plan, we began furnishing the space. The largest piece of the dressing room is obviously the cabinetry, which had a lot of research involved. Although similar in many ways, the cabinetry for closets are very different from kitchens and baths.

That said, we began looking into a happy medium between big-box stores and Ikea options which turned out not to be customizable enough to fully customizable cabinetry lines. We found our happy medium with a local shelving systems company, Bella Systems, who thus far has been a breeze to deal with.

It took some back and forth between all the parties involved to find the exact right use of space and components involved before we settled on the final layout (the above left floor plan) and placed our order. While we wait for the cabinetry to come in, we are working on selecting seating for the space, a new makeup vanity and coordinating stool, new jewelry storage, art/details for the walls and other accessories.

I promise to update with some selections soon and I can’t wait for this space to come together! It is going to be a dream for the homeowners and the envy of all of their friends and family (myself included)! All digitally created images provided by Bella Systems, some modifications have been made from these plans to fit the current plan moving forward… I can’t wait to share this space with everyone!