100 Year Old Basement Renovation In Process

This project started out a lot like many others. When I first met with the homeowners, the wife was timid and anxious about even letting me see the basement, but upon seeing it and discussing the space with her, she became very excited to be moving forward with renovating this space.

When I presented the plans to the husband and wife they both became very excited about the space and anxious to keep things moving. This basement needs to consist of more organized storage for household items, their extra refrigerator, an appliance pantry for larger counter-top appliances that get used only a handful of times throughout the year, a laundry room, and gym. In addition to these shared spaces, we needed to create a space where family can crash when needed, so there is also a shared mud room with exterior entry and a full private suite with a kitchenette, living room, bathroom and bedroom, and knowing how amazing this space is going to be when it is finished, any member of the family who gets to crash in this basement is going to feel like they landed at a 5 star hotel.

Through shopping trips, research, planning and revising plans, I have become pretty close with the family and they have had some unfortunate news come to light. That said, we are doing everything we can to finish this project as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.

The space has been fully gutted and the french drains are going in. The space feels so much larger than it felt before and they are starting to be able to envision the plan within the shell of their basement now. We are at a pretty fun stage of the game with everything so raw right now. (All of the images above are pre-demo; below is where we are now.)

I wanted to share this seemingly nothing of an improvement so that you can see how these projects start. We have to knock things down in order to pick them back up again, and in this business it isn’t all pretty. Sometimes you might be ashamed of how your space looks now, but it will get there, even if it takes forever.

This basement is 100 years old, it has a lot of character, and we are intending to keep a good chunk of the character in tact. Can’t wait to show you more along the way as we progress.

Deadline City

Labor Day weekend is fast approaching, and aside from the holidays, it is one of the busiest times of year for design pros. Many people want to wrap things up by this weekend for a variety of reasons: from hosting an end-of-summer bash, to getting things finished before school starts back up, to coming home from their vacations and wanting to arrive to a finished space!

Whatever the reason behind it, designers this week are slammed! I like to think that I’m a bit more composed than a headless chicken, but when all is said and done, you can find me enjoying at least one day off with a cocktail in my hand and hopefully some sand beneath my feet. I’m coming for you Labor Day!!

Probably the biggest thing I have going right now is one of my clients will be hosting all of the festivities surrounding their niece’s wedding. After purchasing a new house, almost every room has a project that needs to be completed. We have been focusing on taking care of the rooms that are completely empty or will be high-traffic areas before we work on the spaces that are outdated and just need a change.

We have all been running around from Philly to New York and all corners of the internet to find materials, make selections and get things ordered. The thing is, despite ordering in advance and selecting “overnight” shipping options, we are still waiting for a few key pieces. Friday morning, I will be bustling around their home getting window treatments hung and placing furnishings that might only be placeholders just to fill the space before the parties begin.

I will take some pictures if I have time and share next week what the house looks like in it’s temporary state of completion, place-holders included. And then you can really see the transition of the space coming together. For now, all of the pictures included here are of the space as it was when I first came to see it before starting work on the space.

The one space I’m missing is their son’s bedroom, which I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo of, since even though we are doing very little with his space, the changes we are making will likely have a HUGE impact.

Anyway.. that’s what I’m up to! What are your Labor Day plans?

Finding | Creating

I read this quote the other day online somewhere, and the words have not left my head.

finding v. creating

I have had a whirlwind couple of weeks just running nonstop from meetings to job sites, tile shops and more, and that is all in addition to my 9-5 at the bath showroom. The thing that is keeping it all together for me is that all this running around is what I’m passionate about. Doing whatever I need to do to make my clients happy at the end of the day: that is what I love doing. I love putting these spaces together for my clients in their homes. This is me, creating myself, through creating a space for them.

I’m so fortunate to have a good balance at home with P offering so much support and love for these weeks that don’t seem to ever quit. I don’t know if P really truly gets it when I’m out of the house for 14+ hour days, but I know he is doing what he can to hold down the fort around his own crazy schedule so I don’t come home and feel like I have to keep going with housework and dinner prep.

From the looks of my calendar over the next month and with a vacation towards the end of August, I know that this busy energy isn’t going to come to an end anytime soon, so the balance we are creating is so key.

How do you find balance?

I’m very excited for everything that is coming with DBK and our projects lately. I cannot wait to share more. Thank you so much for tagging along for the ride!

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!

SNP Kitchen Progress

One of the projects I am currently working on is a small galley-style kitchen. The client’s previous kitchen didn’t have a very good working triangle, nor did it have good organization for food and other kitchen essentials. The plan in the new kitchen should take care of all of that.

The first step in any project is to get a plan. Once you have the plan, you select and order the materials. After the materials are scheduled for delivery, you can use that timing to figure out the start date for your contractors to begin demolition.

For this project, demo began about a month ago in the beginning of May. Once the demo was done, we started removing the old windows and framing out for the new ones. The rough plumbing and electrical was done and we awaited the inspections.

In New Jersey, the inspection process can be cruel. Each town has adapted it’s own version of the code and each inspector has a different list of things that they are particular about. The codes are there for a reason and they are so important, which is why it is always important to file for permits and go through the process. It is also very important to work with certified plumbers and electricians so that you can ensure a minimal amount of time wasted on delays due to inspections. For this job, we were delayed 10 days after needing to make minor revisions and have re-inspections.

Everything has now passed and the sheet rock is up! The client is getting antsy, and wouldn’t you without a kitchen for over a month!! But this is the way that renovations work. They take time and believe me, you don’t want anyone rushing your job through because that is when mistakes happen.

This project is coming along beautifully and I can’t wait to share more progress, and hopefully soon a finished reveal of the space. You aren’t going to believe the transformation once it is complete!

Elevating the Bed

If you follow DBK on social media, you know that my parents were in town visiting this past week. They were here for the whole week, and we had a great visit with them. We had good food, played tourist, spent some time with P’s parents and my parents all together and made some great memories.

Liberty House Dinner May 2015

While they were here, I made a little “daddy-do” list as my mom started calling it, for my stepdad. As I mentioned in the last post, I have all these plans for our bedroom space, but it’s more about making the time and getting things done. I think the biggest thing he helped with was elevating the bed.

P & I still worked our normal schedules while they were here, which made for some good chunks of time for P and Mr. Jay to work on a few things together. Good quality bonding time, and I LOVED coming home to finished projects, or even just progress made in some areas.

My in-laws are moving from their 35-plus-year family home into a beautiful new home in a senior community at the shore, that to be honest, has the kind of amenities that makes you wish you were 50-plus so you could live there too. However, in the process of their move, we are gaining a lot of old crap amazing childhood memories, as well as the things that we keep in their basement for lack of storage here at the tiniest condo ever.

So, where will all of this go in our tiny condo? But of course, we need to raise the bed up. We have a platform bed, with 2″ legs and an upholstered box-spring base, and while chatting with a friend we brainstormed that under the bed was the only good solution and that we needed to swap out the legs of the bed for taller ones. So before my parents arrived, we started planning, purchased some 8″ legs and some stain, and some under bed bins.

Once the legs were stained, we attempted to attach the legs. I say attempted, because after multiple tries and no success, we were sleeping on a bed propped up by books. #DIYFail! The problem was, I had assumed any furniture legs would likely be attached the same way, and that we could simply lift up the bed, un-screw the old legs, re-screw in the new legs and voila, new taller bed! But unfortunately for us, our old bed legs were attached with two screws and the legs drilled into place, and the new legs, as you can see in the images, have the one larger bolt coming from the end to just screw into place.

But worry not, because my parents were flying in the next day and Mr. Jay was sure to have a solution! Sure enough when I came home from work that night, my bed was taller and stable enough to hold the weight of at least two humans and a dog. But most importantly when my in-laws arrived that night, we were able to very easily transfer things to the under-bed bins and slide them into storage. Nice and neat and out of sight, it ended up working out perfectly!

The next project is to get the lighting ordered so we can get it installed before my personal deadline for this room (June 1). More on that tomorrow!

Addressing the Bedroom

bedroom before 1

I have decided that I need to change what I’m doing in order to really get my home in order. That said I decided I needed to stop working on little pieces of all the rooms in my home and work to complete one room. I discussed it a little bit last week, waffled around about which room would be best to work on and finally landed on the bedroom. I feel like this is a good place to start as it is where each day begins and ends for us. There are definitely areas of our home that need some attention too, but as P always says, one thing at a time, that way I won’t get overwhelmed with everything.

First things first, I want to give you a little peek at where things are now, and then we can go through the lists of what I would like to get accomplished throughout the course of the month. I’ll share a weekly or as-needed progress report, as well as some social media posts about what we are working on as we work through it.

Things that need our attention:

  • Window Treatments
  • Closet Area-Refold/Reorganize and hem-white curtains.
  • Work Space Completion-Address task lighting, project organization system, and chair.
  • Lighting-change overhead fixture and add desk lighting.
  • Storage-increase and reconfigure to work better.
  • Art & Details-styling the surfaces horizontal and vertical.

So it isn’t too bad. Things like the window treatments, we have (they are in the West Elm box on the floor) and they just need to be installed. Everything else I have a major plan for, I just need to lay it out, finalize and take action to implement. More on that through the course of the week, and hopefully these scary before pictures will just lead to a much better after with all the wow factor a transition can have!

Oh and for those who have been looking for the final office-space area.. these pictures show a sneak peek at where it is now…and although it isn’t fully finished, it is functional and working well for now.

I’m excited to be moving along with this space (and hopefully more in the future), this refocusing is just the push I need to get my ducks in a row and get this room finished!

Designing at Home

As a design professional, one of the largest challenges I face is trying to feel like my home is in a good place all the time. The truth is, your home is a never-ending cycle of projects. From day to day activities like cooking, cleaning, etc., to larger projects and renovations, there is always going to be something to be done.

I work with my clients on this all the time, but it is tricky to actually follow this rule myself. Focusing on one thing at a time, and working with what you have is so much easier said that done, especially when I don’t have a copy of myself to hold my hand and walk me through it. So, do as I say, not as I do!

That said, I have been working on being happier with my space, with what I have and where we are at, without everything being exactly as I hope it will be someday.

I thought it would be good to focus on one room at a time, create a list and tackle it for each space to really get them in a good place. This would focus on the cosmetic only, it’s not a knockdown, drag-out scenario where you are crashing through walls or anything like that, so it keeps things small, dealing only with the finishing touches.

My problem is I don’t know where to start! Maybe I should start small and tackle the completion of our entryway. Hanging those little shoe cubbies was such a great move in that area, but there is more I would like to do… we need to change the light fixture and I would like to add a mirror (or something).

The living room has a few issues too, we have everything we need in there but it’s a matter of fine tuning, finishing the window treatments and getting them up, and the same goes for the bedroom… apparently I have something against actually hanging my curtains.

Lastly the kitchen. We just have storage and organization limitations there, but I think that will entail more planning to get to, so I’m not sure I would start with that. And the bathroom is off limits. Nothing is going to change in there, it is what it is and it’s perfectly fine and functional as is… though I do still need to share the little things I did there to increase the organization and visual appeal.

Anyway, so that’s where my house is currently… and that is what I’m considering to get moving in the right directions with my home? What space would you tackle first and what space do you think I should tackle first in my house?

Just remember, it’s not about everything being 100% finished. Your home is the story of the progression of your life. It should grow and change with you, so even if it is 100% done, there will still be little things that change in your space as time goes on and things happen. That’s a good thing. Let your home be the expression of you and give it the room to evolve with you.

Work Space Lighting

I am still working on getting my little home office work space fully put together so I can show you the real ‘after’ look from the shelving post a while back. I know some of you commented that you really needed to see the space finished to get the full idea of what I was trying to do there… so it’s coming.

One of the last details I am working on right now is the lighting. The work space is in our bedroom, and currently we only have a hideous single bulb flush mount ceiling fixture in the room. That will eventually change, but for now, I just need some dedicated light shining on my work space for when I am working either early or late and there’s not enough daylight filtering in to balance out the space.

I love lighting, so sometimes it can be hard to nail down exactly which piece is the right fit, but here are the options and some of my thoughts on each:

My primary concern for table lamps is I don’t want something with a heavy base that has large footprint. Since I added the shelves to get things off the surface to give myself more room to work, I don’t want to now limit the work surface by filling it in with a heavy-bottomed lamp. That said, I love the textured white look (though even the thought of dusting those little hexagons… no thank you) and any combination of white and gold is just so pretty, not to mention the soft handmade quality of the brushstroke lamp. (Gold Brushstroke Lamp by Jana Bek/BEK Design || White Honeycomb Table Lamp from World Market)

An alternate option would be to add sconces, I might have a mild obsession with sconces. They have no footprint and take up zero space so they are so useful. Alternately, you either need to hard-wire them or leave a cord exposed and hanging down the wall, and you have to anchor them into the wall as well…which ends up being more of a permanent detail or feature in your home, so if you will be there for a while, no big deal, but as this is our starter condo and it’s tiny and we likely won’t be there for too long and thus, I don’t know if this is the best option. That said, we have several nail holes and things that we will need to patch and repair when the time comes to ready the space for resale anyway so it certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world and I could camouflage an exposed cord. I’ve also been trying to find a good way to incorporate sconces somewhere in our home basically since we moved in, so I don’t think I’ll nix these just yet. The industrial style piece is right up my ally I love it’s simple details and the glass shade and P was immediately drawn to the simplicity of the sleek white sconce. (Menlo Park Industrial Style Sconce found on One Kings Lane || Jax White and Wood Sconce from Crate & Barrel)

Lastly, there are floor lamps. They won’t take up any surface space on the desk, but I do have to be aware of how much physical space they take up in the room. They can be a great addition, help layer in the right amount of light for the space and even act as a focal point. The first option shown is just that-a statement piece-and it is glorious! I’m crushing on it hard, but at the end of the day, it might just be too much of a focal point for this area and end up pulling away from everything else that is going on here… plus I may not ever get any work done because I think I’d just be sitting here swooning over it all day. The second one is understated and simple while still being very visually appealing. I think the base is small enough that it could sit alongside the desk (or even slide partially beneath it) without taking up too much space, and I love that it brings in a touch of the gold tones, without being overkill. The black top mutes it down just enough to add an industrial edge to the glam gold base so the style is on point, but we have to consider the proportions and make sure the scale is a good fit for the space as well. (Studio Tripod Floor Lamp by West Elm || Black and Gold Crane Floor Lamp by CB2)

What do you think and which would you choose? I think I know which way I’m leaning, but I always love your input! Hopefully I can make a decision and get something ordered in the next few days so I can finish the work space and share the full reveal!