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Posted on January 9, 2012
My Latest Before and After: I’m a Little Bit Country and I’m a Little Bit Rock ‘n’ Roll


What on earth does this super funky duo have to do with my latest “before and after”?  I’ll admit, the connection is tenuous, but let me explain.

Unable to resist the latest bit of facebook navel gazing that prompts us to post fascinating things about ourselves, I found that my mother earned my undying gratitude by refraining from bringing me into the world the week Donny Osmond’s “Go Away Little Girl” ascended to number 1 on the charts. 

Rod Stewart’s “Maggie Mae” and I are sandwiched comfortably between the aforementioned and Cher’s classic, “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.”




One thing that I find interesting about this….has anyone else spotted it?….although the three artists could not be more different, all three penned songs that were pretty much paeans to creepy illicit love and apparently America liked it. 

Now, I can totally imagine Rod Stewart lounging spent and naked in a hashish den with his Mrs. Robinson kicking him in the head and Cher, popping out illegitimate kids in the back of her dad’s gypsy caravan, but Donny Osmond?!?!?  Quelle horreur!  Go away little girl indeed!

Alright….time to reign it back in here and connect the dots….The whole birthday thing put me in a Donny Osmond frame of mind, yeesh!, AND, more relevant, this “before and after” features a more traditional look than my previous projects.  Although I will hasten to add, I do not consider this kitchen, or client, to be country and I don’t think anyone would describe me as rock n roll.

On to the “befores”!

This kitchen and dining room belong to Diane and John Hanberry, recent transplants from Macon, GA.  They came armed with a load of beautiful antiques and bought a home on a hill with a lovely view, but unfortunately, the actual home left a lot to be desired. 




It was basically just old, ugly, and cheaply done.  The laminate countertop wasn’t even attached to the cabinets.  Guess the previous owners wanted to keep things portable…unfortunately, they forgot to take it with them.

So, while Diane CLAIMED to like my previous work, she made it clear that she was a more traditional kind of girl, and I was glad to stretch my wings and comply.  I am not a one-note-sally after all!







We gutted and snazzed up the kitchen, replaced the faux wood floors with the real deal, took out a wall between the kitchen and living room, reupholstered and reconfigured the antiques, put up a cool stone wall, reframed Mr. Scary Owl, and jujjjed the whole thing when done. 

OK, there was some other stuff in between, but I think you can tell from the pics….we did a lot!

And because this project made me feel really really good….I want to leave you with this:


I hate to disagree with Marie, but I think they are 100% rock and roll.  ’Nuff said.

Posted on November 1, 2011
The Choice is Yours - Help Me Pick the Colors! (Maybe)

OK kids…if you read my last post, you know that I was sort of stuck on paint colors.  Here’s the canvas:


I’m going to let you help me narrow down the options.  True, I might totally ignore you, unless you follow up your choice with a commitment to buy, but , if there’s an overwhelming surge in the direction of something I was going to pick anyway, I’ll gladly agree with you!

Here, thanks to Mr. Ed Gerber, who helped me narrow it down to this point, are our options. (Hint, one option is a ringer…I’m just seeing if you’re really paying attention).

Option number 1…we’ll call this option: Sylvan Charm (I’m pulling these names out of my derriere, btw)



Option #2:  We’ll call this scheme Valhalla Ice Palace (to say you’re pulling names out of your derriere is not very ladylike).



Option 3 is called Joanne’s Chili Bordello:


I kid you not, there was a restaurant in Jacksonville while I was growing up called Joanne’s Chili Bordello.  Don’t know why, but we never went there.

Alright, weigh in with your choices please…I’m waiting with baited breath!

Posted on November 25, 2010
Kitchen Inspiration for Turkey Day


Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  As I sit by and let my family labor in the kitchen, I’ll tell you about what’s shaping up in the Starnes kitchen, someone has to tend to the empire building after all.

I think the kitchen is going to be one of those pleasant surprises about the house.  The comment that everyone seems to have when they walk into Starnes is that it’s much bigger than it looks based on the street-level assumptions.  The kitchen is no different.


The kitchen was an add-on to the original structure and has some great windows, so tons of natural light.  The window placement, however, necessitates a bigger footprint than I would normally give a galley kitchen.  It’s too big to be a traditional galley, but too small for an island. 

Conventional wisdom in kitchen design calls for between 42 and 48” of space between countertops for traffic flow.  Because of the window placement, one lucky homeowner is going to have 65 ½” between work surfaces.  So, while cooking for your endless parade of parties, you’ll have an efficient set up and room for plenty of cooks in the kitchen.

If I was going to live in this house, I would take out the window on the right hand kitchen wall and build a deck off of the kitchen and master bedroom.  This would turn this space into even more of an entertaining mecca, or just give you a nice perch on which to contemplatively cradle your morning cup of coffee (my brother makes fun of me for doing this).

I’ve taken out the wall between the dining room and the kitchen at Starnes.  Some bungalow purists tsk tsk at this.  Well, for one, the kitchen was an add-on, so the traditional bungalow ethos kind of got sidetracked anyway.  For two, I kind of err on the side of making the home more livable and enjoyable.  Now, I’m not saying, tear all the walls out and install chrome track lighting, but if you can make palatable changes that aren’t design abominations, I say, why not?

I took out the wall between the kitchen and dining room in my own bungalow:


When this made it onto, I got a couple negative comments about this.  I personally, though, don’t see much that’s historically significant about a wall.  Plus, no presidents were born here, so I don’t think it’s going to make it onto any historical registers anytime soon. 

As I mentioned before, I’m going to use IKEA Tidaholm oak doors and have them sprayed white.  This is a nice heavy Shaker-style door and takes nicely to paint (see this blog for evidence of the Tidaholm in some snazzy spaces in Toronto).  I’m going to add crown moulding as well and take it all the way up to the ceiling.  This can help the affordable cabinetry look more custom and bringing your eye all the way up to the ceiling brings a grander scale to the space.

Following are some inspiration photos:


@House Beautiful: Gil Schafer  


@House Beautiful: Ruthie Sommers

@House Beautiful: Jonathan Berger

I like the use of mirror on the cabinets in this last one.  Occasionally, mirror can look a bit Miami Vice, but I think this is tastefully done.

Alright, I’m starting to feel a teensy bit guilty for sitting here while my sister works in the kitchen.  Incidentally, I don’t think this guilt is shared by any of my brothers…what can you say.  The gender divide prevails.

So, happy eating everyone!