Project Makeover: Kathy’s Family Room/ Home Office

How often do you get to change someone’s life…..I mean really change it ?  I have the honor of being involved with the most fabulous group of professionals who do just that. The group is called Project Makeover.  The group’s mission is to offer a complete Makeover to a member of our community who selflessly gives to others.  Our most recent contestant is Kathy Shaw Spenser. Kathy was an early pioneer in the whole extreme couponing  rage. She originally began shopping for free simply to help meet expenses for her large family of six. Eventually, Kathy lead classes to teach others how to do the same thing.  As Kathy’s reputation spread; books, news articles and TV appearances soon followed. Kathy is a truly a raising star in the extreme couponing world (you will see her on TV soon as she is about to start filming a TV special this Summer).

Most recently, Kathy’s free shopping has taken on a bigger goal. Kathy now shops to fill food pantries and donates free items to those in need. She also spends a considerable amount of time teaching low income Mom’s and families how they too can shop for free. We chose Kathy because she is a true giver and an inspiration to so many.

Like many other busy Mom’s and “givers”, Kathy had neglected her own needs.

This is where Project Makeover steps in. Kathy receives hair, makeup, nutritional and exercise training. She also gets relationship coaching, spiritual coaching, money coaching, etiquette classes, sessions with a wardrobe stylist and shopping trips to pick out fabulous clothing from 3 different boutiques. There is assistance with upcoming events from an event planner, a marketing pro, a local restaurant and even a musician…it is a very talented and diverse group.

This brings me to MY roll with Project Makeover.  Since I believe our home environment affects how we feel about ourselves and function in the outside world, I donate a room Redesign. In Kathy’s case though, there was not enough “stuff” to work with to do a Redesign. Kathy lives with only a very minimum amount of things. She does not like clutter and has nothing in her home that she does not absolutely need or use. Since what Kathy does own is old and needs to be replaced, Kathy asked me to make up an Inspiration Board for her. Kathy will use the Inspiration Board as her guide while hunting for free items, or finding low cost things at yard sales or on Craigslist.

Kathy choose her family room/office as the room she would like to redo. Here is how it currently looks.

Kathy's Family room


You can’t see in the photo but the sofa is torn and the stuffing is coming out (hence the blanket covering the cushion). She has no window treatments, no carpet, no accessories and no art work other than the large clock on the wall. The metal coffee table has very sharp edges and since Kathy has young children it is not very safe. The other side of the room functions as Kathy’s office. Here is how the office side currently looks.


Kathy's office

Other than the industrial gray file cabinet there is no place for storage.  Again, she has no art work, window treatments or rug.  We talked about some kind of privacy screen or room divider to keep her office separate from the TV area. Lastly, lighting is a big problem (as in there is not enough) since the only light in the room currently is a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling.

Kathy and I talked about what she likes, her style (very uncluttered) and she showed me several catalog items she would like to purchase for the room. She likes the current wall color (they had recently painted), and she has had her eye on a sage green sectional from a nearby store that she will probably buy. She loves letters and graphics, and her preference for rugs are more toward the “oriental style”. Kathy also showed me a corner desk she likes.

Kathy admitted she is very hesitant about bright color. Her house is currently filled with mostly brown, gray, and olive tones. As someone who could not imagine living without color we talked quite a bit about this. Over the course of our working together she told me she is willing to step out of her comfort zone and embrace the color Red. She found a beautiful large wrapped canvas of a red flower with graphics (from the Ballard Designs catalog) and this is where I started….so…here is Kathy’s Inspiration Board for the Family room side.

Family Room

I started off the board by choosing a rug which incorporates both her current wall color and the color of the sofa she is planning on purchasing.The rug will bring some much added warmth and color to the room. I replaced her current sharp cornered metal coffee table and gave her two soft ottomans with removable lids that will double as storage. Natural fiber shades work as both light control as well as add warmth and texture to the room. The room has built in book cases and inexpensive baskets will hid toys and make clean up easy. The red flower art work Kathy found herself and the red graphic pillows for the sofa complement it. The red striped slipper chair is for additional seating and the red arc lamp adds light for reading and one more pop of color.  I also love this wicker side table for it’s texture but it also doubles as additional seating.



And here is the Inspiration Board for the Office side of the room.

Kathy's Office

I chose the brown and cream graphic rug as my starting point for Kathy’s office. Kathy had pointed out she liked this rug as well as the white desk ( both from Ballard Designs). Fabric shades for the windows, and a movable IKEA open storage unit would give Kathy some privacy and  act as a divider from the Family room area. She can use the baskets for coupon storage.  A beautiful cork board will be an ever changing source for inspirational clippings, photos, and quotes. I also thought it would be nice for Kathy to surround herself with photos of her family and children. Inexpensive frames from yard sales, all painted the same color and hung in a group would be nice in her office as well. If Kathy needs even more storage,I found another large unit also from IKEA that she can place where the grey file cabinet is currently. Lastly, a few red accessories will tie the two sides of the room together.

I know Project makeover has had an amazing effect on Kathy. She is such a wonderful and kind person and I feel so privileged to have been a part of her journey. Tomorrow night is the big “reveal” party for Kathy.  She will have her hair and make up professionally done, her picture taken, and she will be surrounded by her family, her friends, and 15 very excited Project Makeover team members who couldn’t be prouder!

Up next for Project makeover…a military wife and mother..can’t wait!












You say I-KAT, I say E-KAT

I first started seeing these beautiful tie-dye looking fabrics a few years ago. These beautiful Ethnic designs are called IKAT and for the longest time I pronounced them phonetically, “I-Kat”.  Much to my embarrassment, I later learned they are pronounced “E-Kat”.  Ikat is a very old method of weaving that originated in Indonesia.

Wikipedia defines IKAT as “a method of weaving that uses a resist dyeing process similar to tie-dye on either the warp or weft fibres. The dye is applied prior to the threads being woven to create the final fabric pattern or design.
Double Ikat is where both warp and the weft are resist-dyed prior to stringing on the loom. Traditionally, and still commonly, a back-strap loom is used, though any variant or modern loom may be used.


Okay, not being a weaver, I have absolutely NO idea what this means. What I DO know though is that IKAT fabrics and designs are one of 2011’s hottest trends in both fashion and in home decor. They add a punch of color and energy to a room and fit in with almost any decor.

Ikat Pillows. Photo House Beautiful


Don’t you just LOVE these red, blue and yellow drapes?

Elle Decor

and I can just picture this over-sized Ikat design on the walls of my imaginary Summer house guest bedroom.

Steven Gambrel design


Ikat patterns have become SO popular that they seem to be crawling onto everything from dishes to bags to shoes.


So now that you know what IKAT  looks like, you just have to remember how to pronounce it……E-KAT…..Oh, and one more thing…My imaginary Summer house would not be complete without this happy colored IKAT lamp.




Inda Home

So..Does your home have IKAT?



Starting From White….how to choose color for an empty white box

My dear friend Barbara is starting over. For the past 24 years she has lived in the most beautiful 100 year old Craftsman style home. It is meticulously decorated with rich warm colors and it is such a warm and welcoming home. She has filled it with a lifetime of family memories, travel memorabilia, collectibles, and art work.

Her soon to be built new home is an open concept, contemporary penthouse condo just minutes from downtown Boston…completely different from what she currently owns. She is ready for a fresh start, a new look, and is bringing practically nothing from her current home.

She recently asked me to help her pick colors since her contractor is almost ready to paint.

Barbara in her new condo which is currently a white box

Barbara is in the medical profession and has a highly stressful job. She spends her days in white, sterile, operating rooms and does NOT want bright white walls in her new home. She DOES want the same warm and inviting feeling that she has in her current home but she likes the light, open and airy feel of her new home….so, where to begin choosing color?

She is planning to purchase mostly all new furniture and decor for her new home so I didn’t have the usual “go to” items I would usually use for color inspiration such as existing carpet,  fabric or art work.

The kitchen is where color maven Maria Killam advises people to start with color direction in new construction ( look at the counter tops) but Barbara has chosen white cabinetry with white quartz counter tops…okay, not much help here.

A BUNCH more questions and Barbara picks some color inspiration words...Asian inspired, light neutral colors, warm,  pops of red, maybe an accent wall….okay, now we are getting somewhere. Barbara finds an inspiration fabric to work off of….BINGO!     She  has decided to bring two chairs from her current home and have them reupholstered in this beautiful cream and red Asian inspired print. Now I have a starting point.




cream and red Asian inspired fabric


Using the creamy background of the fabric as our jumping off point we choose a few soft neutrals as possibilities for the main walls. We also discuss using the warm red of the flowers as a possible accent wall color.



fabric with color possibilities


In the living room there is a free standing wall on the left ( with all the blond wood leaning against it) where we discussed  having some sort of accent or focal wall. The sofa will go against this wall and the two reupholstered chairs will face it. We considered  painting the wall completely red or possibly  having a decorative painter do something creative using the red flower blossoms in the fabric as her inspiration.

location of possible focal or accent wall on left

The next step is to paint up some large sample boards of our chosen colors and see how they look at different times of the day in her condo. My friend is so excited to have a color direction and she can now start to visualize what will soon be a spectacular new home.


Next up..the bedrooms!




Numero Uno!

Welcome to my first blog!! After spending the past two years as an avid blog reader and follower I decided it was time to take the plunge and start joining in on the fun. That, and the fact that I was tired of everyone around me asking “ do you blog??… You should really have a blog …Why aren’t you blogging???” My intention is to keep my blogs short, informative and heavy on beautiful photography of fabulous interiors and inspiration.

Nantucket sunset

Recently, I attended a seminar by Design legend Charlotte Moss. She said “to know how to decorate, you first have to know how to see”. This struck me because although I am relatively new to the interior design world, I spent 25 years as a working photographer and this experience, without a doubt, taught me how to see.

So, I thank you for checking me out and I value your feedback and comments.

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