Saturday, September 26, 2009


Hi Everyone! My lovely Design Grandmother has asked me to be a contributing writer to her fabulous design blog and I am most honored! I hope for this to be a fun experience for myself, sharing my thoughts and ideas on “Small Space Living,” and for this to be an open place for you readers to critique, learn and share your own thoughts. All that said, for the past week I’ve been rolling around in my head several places to start my entries, and what makes the most sense is to “start from the very beginning… “ as we all know, it’s a wonderful place to start! Let’s begin with experience, and then in future posts, we can discuss some ideas I have and how to decorate small spaces (often in renter friendly ways) and economical decorating ideas for all types of living.

Also, remember that in no way do I think that we live in a model of awesome apartment design! We will only be here for another few months probably, so we’ve done what we can to make it comfortable and as colorful as we can!

I’m a little long winded (my writing is proportional to how much I talk!), so here goes a long post…

In my adult life (only about 6-7 years now),I have lived in two dorm rooms and four apartments, each rented and temporary, and me living on a very (very) small budget where food and gas for my car was a top priority, thus not allowing for many design changes to make it a real HOME. For this entry I will focus on my current apartment, my very first home with my new husband, Adam (who is so ready to buy a house!).

Location, Location, Location! We chose this apartment community after only looking at one other place, and ultimately chose this one because through Adam’s job, he could get a discount on the application fees… and it has a spiral staircase! Adam moved in first and lived oh so sparsely as a bachelor, and since I’ve been here with him, we’ve gradually tried to do small things to make it a home… but more on that in later posts. This is our home:


We live technically in Arden, North Carolina, which is about two minutes from Asheville city limits and fifteen-ish minutes from downtown Asheville. There’s a great grocery store right across the street (which is nice to walk to for small visits) and right around the corner in both directions from a busy retail road, which leads straight downtown and a new upscale condo town center community, which is growing into a fabulous shopping venue. Homes right behind us in Biltmore Park Town Square are $300,000 to over a couple million dollars. We also live 5-ish minutes to Adam’s work and less than 5 minutes to both of my little jobs. Our unit also overlooks the main pool and right next to the main office at the front of the community. So, for this lovely location and for 931 square feet, we pay right around $850/month. We are mostly happy here, but every now and then we just get very frustrated and say… “We can’t wait to have our own home! How much longer until we can buy a house?” We both have our own gripes about our rented living, but there are benefits too (I see more benefits than Adam does, but that’s really just our difference in personality… I have more patience than him for sure!).

Visit http://biltmorepark.com/ for more info on our growing surrounding community.

So, as most of us tend to do, let’s start with our three main gripes of renting, our experience specific:

We have “crappy to fair” quality appliances.
We bought our own washer and dryer (I did laundry 3 times going up and down 3 flights of stairs and across the pool to the laundry facility caring my own weight in clothes… and that was enough of that!), but the provided appliances are a little… well, crappy! The oven is calibrated by moving the temperature knob off kilter, the bottom drawer handle falls off, the fridge’s crisper drawer falls out every time you open it, the dishwasher is ok, but not super, and the faucet drips. We are lucky to have a dishwasher and disposal so yay for that! And as a renter, there’s nothing you can do about it! Oh, and they’ve also started to renovate the kitchens and bathrooms, BUT not ours since we are already here. I’m sure this unit will get the update as soon as we move out.

The walls, ceiling, trim and doors are all WHITE WHITE WHITE.
You would think that maybe they could have painted the walls “eggshell” or “clean linen” or something, but no, everything is the same same same bright white paint! No depth or coziness, just harsh and sterile walls. I painted one wall upstairs in the loft space (my studio space!) but any wall we paint must be painted back, by us, before we move out. We both love color and we can’t wait to be able to paint whatever and where ever we want! I do have some thoughts on getting around this lack of color issue, but we’ll save that for a later post.

We live on the third floor and neighbors are close, sharing walls. and floors/ceilings.
We are glad to be on the third floor (the top), thus not having anyone above us, BUT we can hear any loud TV noise (like the base during an action movie) or music from the apartment below, and likewise they can hear ours. Adam loves to have his surround sound blasting and gets very frustrated with having to keep the volume down. We didn’t care so much a few months ago when there was a man below us who LOVED his action movies, but as apartment tenants do often, he moved and we got a complaint from the new tenants. We only share the wall off of the kitchen with our neighbors, but as my mom knows, I have a cabinet slamming problem and I’m sure they can hear that, as we hear theirs. We are lucky that this is all you can hear, but it would still be nice to have FREEDOM to live as we please. Another gripe about the third floor is moving furniture in and carrying groceries up. Gosh, I can’t wait until I can just walk right up to our door from the driveway!

Ok, enough gripes (although there are more, but this is getting long enough!). Things we like:

We have no maintenance to do (other than normal cleaning).
Adam would love to have a lawn and to take care of it (so he says!), but I am happy to not have to do any of that. Our community takes good care of the surrounding green spaces and has a lawn crew to tend to it! We also get a pretty quick response to any maintenance issues we have within our apartment and the fix-it guys are very nice. But we still have a drippy sink…

We have great closet space in relation to the size of the apartment.
We have lots of closets and good size ones too! Our closet count is FIVE, plus a laundry room: in the bedroom we have a mini walk-in, upstairs is a long double door closet, a coat closet at the entrance, a linen closet in the bathroom (and our bathroom is a good size too!) and an outside storage space. We also store our bikes under the stairs, which is a perfectly sized space for them! Yes, I do dominate the use of the closet space, but Adam said I could have it… so there! We try really hard to optimize our storage space, first by not keeping everything we’ve ever touched or thought we might need later (Adam is helping me with that concept), and by using all the space, vertically and horizontally. I actually love to browse through home storage sections at home improvement stores and we have tried to implement some of the most common storage solutions. I also technically have two dressers (Adam gets one drawer in the one in the bedroom…), and by fitting one in the closet upstairs, I can store out of season clothing in a hidden, yet accessible way. And per Adam’s gripe of not having enough counter space and too much clutter in the kitchen, we used our good size laundry room and rigged up the microwave to be out of sight, but still accessible to the kitchen. I know some new construction homes that have less storage space and a smaller laundry area than we have!

Ok, I’ve given you all enough of what we have to work with and my experiences with apartment and renter living. From here we can discuss your own gripes… and then try to find some easy, creative, and cost effective solutions to make small space living not a pain in the bootay, but a cozier HOME! We all have our limitations, whether it be renters limits, financial limits and/or creative DIY abilities, but my hope if that together we can inspire each other to do more than we have now, and to accomplish more than you thought you could!


PS: Adam and Mr. Peter Kiddy say hello.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009



I am so excited to announce a new feature that will be added to the blog starting on Sunday, September 27th!

Erica has agreed to write a feature one Sunday a month. She will specialize on spaces that not only are small, but ones leased. One of our loyal readers wrote and asked about decoration a bedroom for her apartment. She didn’t want to invest a fortune, but wanted a beautiful room. Erica had some great ideas, ones I never would have dreamed of. It was this that prompted me to ask Erica to add all her fabulous ideas to the blog.

Can’t wait to see the first edition Sunday…………..

Thank you ERiCA, I am so proud to have you as my “Design Granddaughter“.

Monday, September 21, 2009



Master Carpenter spent many hours engineering the “behind the scenes” make-up!

Sometimes his cleverness amazes even me. He knows how I HATE wires, especially all wrapped up like in a maze! That was a big part of our “marriaging”!!!! (I just made up that word)

What you don’t see …..

The back is a “false” wall! There is approximately 6 inches between the back wall of the unit and the actual wall. In this space he built a platform to hold a surge protector. The secret is a HIDDEN door on the bottom right section, behind the large urn! This enables one to get to the power, wires etc.!!! What can I say, I married a genius!!





Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The Design Team in Gainesville, Florida are the winners!

The "homeowners" have wanted to make over the large wall in their great room for a long time. A leak in the ceiling and a new roof, was what it took to put the Team to work!

They also had quite a time crunch.... adding to the stress. Family was arriving in 48 hours and the contractors for the roof and ceiling were running a day behind!

They stayed up all night and finished the project.....painting and arranging all the accessories. The overall result is FABULOUS! They now have the space they dreamed of !

The blue color with the darker blue color on the "back" wall works great! The effect, with the white trim, couldn't have been a more perfect choice.

Kudos to Pat, Happy, Max and MaryKate for their hard work. They have a beautiful room that they will enjoy for many years.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Close-up showing texture of fabric
"click" for a larger image


For the past 48 hours, I have made and remade the bed in what seems like 100's of different fashions! I had to "see" it all the ways I pictured in my mind. The labor intensive project has been exhausting!!! That little duvet is one heavy piece!!! I give you a lot of thanks for working with that fabric, Erica. You had quite a job!!!

My reason was simple. The fabric is soft, rich and luxurious. I wanted IT to be the star not the puff!!

I tried the arrangement of the fold, the pillows, the shams and the accessories in every imaginable form. Then the Epiphany hit!! Remove the two comforters from the duvet and have it flat and clean! It was a crazy idea, but I had to try it. As soon as I did it ....I knew I had the look I was searching for! Rich but Clean!! Now I just revealed a little secret I learned from bedding shops. Did you pick up on it? How do you think they make all the beautiful beds in the stores and magazines look extra puffy? Simple.....they use two ..... mostly three.....comforters inside the duvets!!! Sneaky little devils!

Some changes in the objects on the side tables and the removal of the throw ......and I believe the richness of the flocked, velvet fabric now is not overpowered. The overall look now flows with the rest of the house.

It's what I have always done and preached....... Trying things in different ways..... Open your minds and try different things with what you have. You might be surprised at the results!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Oh,.... Erica has been a busy little girl these past weeks!!!

I "commissioned" her to do another bed project. Needed a new "fall/winter" look for our new bedroom. She went with it, with only a note from me saying I envisioned something warm and inviting!

After numerous phone calls, pictures, and fabric samples, we came up with a "design" and a fabric. I Went WAY out of my comfort zone by adding a cream, warm color instead of staying with the safe cool whites. Erica felt that the cream tones of the fabric were the perfect compliment to the whites all ready in the space, and would give it the warm and inviting feel I was looking for..... And......she is right!!!

The surprise was the "special" front pillow with the whimsy coral button!!! I had no idea she was adding that to the package! She used her design eye and recognized it would marry her art work perfectly to the bedding!! So clever. I had the throw in another space, but after the pillow with that button was unpacked......it immediately went on the bed!

The fabric for that little jewel was a "scrap" from the purse she made for me while she was in college. This girl is just full of talents....... art, silk scarfs, bags, and bed ensembles! She has a website that is featured on the right side of this blog page. If you haven't seen her "work" definitely check it out. .......... Oh, and .... Did I mentioned she's for "HIRE".........!!!!!!!

The paint is still drying on our masterpiece....but hopefully we can do some installing soon. Might have to wait to add the STUFF, but it will be nice to get it IN!!!!! Master Carpenter has a lot of patience......only problem is......I have NONE!

Are you checking out the "Hits". We are getting close to 4000!!! Can't wait to see that magic 5000!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

......THE CLOCKS !!!!


Up and Running.......

The CLOCKS have returned. Found the perfect location and the perfect clocks on line. They finally came yesterday and with my painter's blue tape they are perfectly hung!!

For those that are puzzled...let me explain the "history" of the clocks.

Back in the "olden days" of 1996 we hung four clocks to represent what time it was where our cherished family members lived. It was a great aid to me when placing phone calls. We had one for each of our children, Bobby, Patti and Steve and a special one for Grandma Famularo. They were hung in all our homes until we moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Never found the perfect spot and the clocks were no longer in "prime" condition.

At our Anniversary Bash, Steve, mentioned the wall next to the entry to the laundry room in the kitchen needed something! I "marinated" his words and I few weeks ago, came up with the perfect items to fill the space.


Thank you, Steve, for bringing the empty space to my attention. I just have to remember that when I read your "time" it's 13 hours ahead, not 1..........


I would like to pass along some great hints and handy tips to enhance your design projects .

One of my favorites comes from my mentor, Kenneth Brown. He has preached for years the many uses of painter’s blue tape. Not for painting projects…..but for the placement of wall hangings and furniture arranging.

It is so simple…

You put the tape on the wall in the size, shape and number of wall hangings you are thinking of using. This saves unneeded holes in the wall and also allows you to visualize the proportions of the arrangements. You add, delete or move the tape as needed …..no extra HOLES in the wall!

The other and more cost saving use is putting the tape on the floor, the size of the furniture you are thinking of, and where you wish to place it. You can actually see how the pieces will “fit” in the room and how the proportions work. You can "see" and "walk around" the pieces ....allowing you to decide what your purchases should be. Think of the money you can save!

In the room pictures of our new home, you see MANY drapery panels!!! I discovered a fabulous find!

While looking for window treatments, I browsed through my Ballard Design Catalog. I wanted to have panels at each and every window throughout the house.... and I wanted them… all the same! My thinking …unify the space and have one room flow into the next. Our floor plan is open and chopping up window treatments would detract.

Ballard Design has a section called “The Ballard Essentials“. Under Ballard Essential “Panels” are Rod pocket panels, which I chose, and Grommeted panels. They come in three lengths--- 84” , 96” and 108” and are 54” wide. The choices of fabrics and colors are many including velvet, twill, linen and quilted cotton. AND ….THEY ARE LINED!!! BUT THE BEST FEATURE IS THE PRICE…….starting at $35 a panel. The quality and workmanship is tops and I have yet to see where you can find anything to compare. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the market for drapery panels.


Enjoy, and I hope these ideas will help in your next design project…..

Tuesday, September 8, 2009



Tuesday, September 1, 2009


All the entries are in ….. 21.… That’s fabulous. Now we just wait to see who “hits” it on target, or who comes closest!

Meanwhile, Master Carpenter is in the next phase………..Paint! I have to say this is not his best, or favorite thing to do! The enthusiasm is not as high as it was in the planning and construction phase.

Master Carpenter has a second passion…some will be surprised! He’s now a farmer! His first “crop” was picked yesterday!

I am working on a mini project. The “order” is in and UPS is in control right now… Nothing spectacular…..but an old favorite! To all my “family” readers, do you have any guesses as to what it might be?

Watch the hit numbers and “Good Luck” !!!