Monday, August 31, 2009

Think Ahead!

That crafty Chip realized that in order to bring our over-sized office furniture into the space without absolutely killing our movers (one almost did pass out that day...sorry Rob!), we would need to leave a 5' wide opening in one of our interior walls to bring the furniture in.

After the last piece was brought in, our contractor finished framing, sheetrocking and mudding the opening. Now, you'd never know it had been there! (Well, at least you won't after it's all painted.)

As I have mentioned before, planning ahead can sometimes make all the difference.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Our new design studio.

You may already know that we undertook our own building project a few months ago. We tore down our old garage (which was only full of "stuff"...never a car), and designed a studio space that will serve as our design office.
The new building had to conform to Architectural Review Commission design guidelines for Hyde Park, and of course to Tampa codes, including new hurricane codes. That involved raising the floor 15" above the old floor.
By raising the roof with 2 dormers and windows, and adding a large window on the garden side, we were able to create a bright workspace, while efficiently compact.

In order to meet historic guidelines, the front must have the "appearance" of a traditional garage.

Updated pictures will follow...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Front entrance treatment.

I am really excited about this front entry treatment. In lieu of a "storm door", a beautiful 6-light glass and wood door has been mounted in front of their very traditional exterior wood door. The new door exactly mirrors the raised panels of the inside door, but with beveled glass for the panels. This will allow a lot of light in to the foyer when the interior door is left open, but still keep out the Florida elements. (Like HEAT and MOSQUITOES!) Then, for more privacy the interior door can be closed as well. The best of both worlds!
Now, add great door hardware, a pendant light above, and I'm ready to move in.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Overhead landscape view.

One of my favorite garden views is always from above. (Okay, so yes, I have been known to climb up on the roof of our house to look at the garden. And yes, maybe I did break an ankle that way, but it was worth it...I think?)
Luckily, this couple has a wonderful upstairs balcony off of their master bedroom that gives them this beautiful view, with little danger involved!
In the photo above, it's easy to see one of the pitfalls of Florida landscaping. A portion of the new sod has succumbed to fungus. Luckily, Joe of Joe Argentine Landscaping and his great crew will resolve this.

The homeowners found these neat trellises on-line. I think they were perfect for the side of the garage. They have great interest while bare, and really break up the brick wall, and they'll look even better when the vines start to grow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Hey, I am a total sucker for garden ornaments! I mean, it's gotten so my friends have to tie my hands, take my wallet, or blindfold me to keep me from buying more for my own garden. (Ahhh, but there's still mailorder!!!)

These homeowners had this cool birdhouse commissioned in replica of one they have at another property. Needless to say, I'm jealous!
(A thoughtful correction was sent to me today by the homeowners. This beautiful piece was actually commissioned by good friends of theirs, as a replica of a birdhouse they own, and was a housewarming gift to our couple. Where can I get friends like that?!)

Hey, if this isn't still around when they move in, do you think they'd miss it?

Monday, August 24, 2009

More garden views

In the rear of the house, we were able to create a very intimate garden area, with the help of Joe Argentine landscaping. The two biggest design challenges here were to block the view of the neighbor's house on one side, and to block the view of a very large utility pole at the rear of the property. Missy designed a Southern Magnolia as the centerpiece for the new garden. This beatiful tree with foliage to the ground effectively eliminates the view of the utility pole from the back porch and most viewing angles from inside the home. Well done Missy and Joe!

A row of mature Wax Myrtles were places along the property line adjoining the neighbor. These are Florida Natives, and extremely drought and insect tolerant...what more could you ask for?

This new brick walkway leads from the back porch to a patio-seating area in the rear of the garden. The beautiful fountain was nestled into the tiered plantings, and will create a visual focal point and great water noise for the seating area.

The four brick pads along the walk way that extend into the plantings are waiting for fantastic concrete urns which have been ordered from Pondscapes. Joe Argentine's men lugged 5 different planters to the site for us so that we could photograph each one in place. We then sent the pictures to the homeowners for final selection. These urns should arrive in the next couple of weeks, and we promise to share new pictures as soon as they're planted and installed.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Painting problems solved!

In addition to our design and space planning services, these homeowners enlisted the help of talented designer Connie DeGood. Among other things, Connie helped choose paint colors and finishes throughout the house. Here you can see the painters hard at work and if you look back a few days you can see the difference in how the room is coming together.

There is no doubt that matte finish paint is probably the loveliest and most elegant wall finish. However, as the contractors found out the hard way on this job, paints with no sheen will tend to show every blemish in the wall. Once the new wall areas were completely finished in this renovation, all new and existing walls were painted. Again, due to the diligence of Ray who is William Stone Contracting's foreman on this job, many walls both new and existing were completely re-mudded, sanded and repainted. Obviously a lot of extra work, but the end product will be well worth it.

In the formal dining room, the traditional wainscoating and deep crown moulding that were added will go miles in adding character and warmth to the room.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cabinet bases delivered

Today, the base cabinet shells started going in. This large island is going to make a wonderful place for food prep and serving when entertaining. It's so exciting when major parts of the renovation happen. It makes all the tough parts of the process disappear....well, sort of.

Chip is admiring the newly installed beveled mirror over the vanity shell. Next step, drawers and doors, then granite and sink installation!

Friday, August 21, 2009

HG-Master Bath

This is the master bath, cleaned, gutted and reconfigured. (Why does that make me think of fish for dinner?)
As always, William Stone Contracting has done a great job, and every day leaves a clean job site. Trust me, you'll really appreciate that when your own job starts!

The shell for the vanity is in place. You can see the simple and elegant detail that Chip has designed into this cabinet. I love the way the cabinet sits up on the substantial legs. (Never use that phrase with your spouse.)

Giving a cabinet even a little bit of air space underneath can make it seem much lighter, and the room seem larger. (There's a free design tip...don't worry, many, many more to come!)

Thursday, August 20, 2009


In our planting design for the front of the house, Missy has created new curved planting beds to give the house a lot more interest as you approach. I got to watch her in action the day she created the bed shapes with a can of the ever-useful orange ground spray paint. She managed to create beautifully shaped beds, and walked away without a speck of the orange paint on her shoes...something I've never managed to do! (Anybody need a pair of gardening shoes, size 7 with fluorescent orange toes?)

As in so many of our homes in South Tampa, this sun/shade combination yard presented one of the biggest challenges. An elegant and simple combination of plantings was chosen to work with the homes elegant brick exterior.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Family room

You saw one of these pictures before, but I wanted to illustrate again how the new kitchen space will flow into the family room. This beautiful opening replaces what was originally a pass-through. You can imagine the light and view that this allows into the kitchen!

The gorgeous family room space has all windows on one side, and three sets of French doors that lead to the brick porch, and then to the new garden. The coffered ceiling, window surrounds and fireplace trim detail were all parts of the new design. Chip designed several bookcase treatments into the new designs, both downstairs and up, for the new homeowners, one of whom happens to be a wonderful writer.

I can just imagine sitting in a comfy chair in this space, reading a great book, and gazing into the garden now and then....I'd never leave the house!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gutted kitchen

Here are 2 more views of the gutted kitchen. In the first photo you see the newly added kitchen window, which will offer a wonderful view from the sink.

The second photo shows the view through the new arch (replacing what was a single swinging door) opening into the family room. The transom detail above the arch and door that Chip designed will add both a touch of traditional and elegance.

Custom cabinets are under way from What Would You Like, and installation should begin later this week. That's when the space always really starts to take shape!

Monday, August 10, 2009

One thing we thought we would be fun is for you to send us a picture of your own design challenge. We can't "redesign your home" in this blog, but we'd be happy to offer some simple advice.

Maybe you have need of an exterior design element that would help, are wondering where to fit a bookcase for recipe books into your kitchen, where's the most logical placement for my birdbath, or...

Remember what I said earlier....there's rarely an absolutely "right or wrong" answer. But I can almost assure you, we'll have an opinion!

Email your pictures and questions to We'll post the pictures, along with our ideas onto this site. And who knows, maybe one of our readers will have another great solution to offer!

Kitchen after demo

In this pictures, you see the kitchen after demo, wall, electrical and plumbing reconfiguration.

You can probably tell from this project that it is mid-stream in process. The actual design work was started early this year. We were very excited when realtor Rick Miller referred this wonderful couple to us for an almost complete redesign of their new home purchase. Though currently residents of Wisconsin and Cape Cod, they purchased a home in South Tampa with lovely bones, and a lot of potential for updating and beautifying.

We came to the project along with William Stone Contracting, who we have had a great deal of experience working with. When we have complete confidence in a contractor's abilities and attention to our design detail, the building process can just be that much more pleasurable.

Though the homeowners has made numerous trips to Tampa during the building, the fact that they were not in residence during construction was undoubtedly a big plus for all involved. Hey, trust me, living through renovations can really put even the best of relationships to the test! The stories I could tell of our own studio construction project...well, more about that in future entries.