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Your home is a TEMPLE, and we want to be the high priests.

Posts Tagged ‘renovation’

A Bit of Color on this Drab Day!

Monday, October 29th, 2012

The Unloved Little House!

Here's the former garage at Madcap Cottage in upstate New York when John and I purchased the property. The garage was a mess and was totally shrouded with out-of-control greenery. Our goal was to take this forlorn folly and make it fabulous. Hopefully, you can pluck ideas from our plan of attack to employ in your own home.


John and I are hunkered down in Brooklyn as Sandy terrorizes the East Coast… We have wine and I made tacos, and I am cleaning out my closet and am still wearing my pajamas at 1:30pm so it’s not all bad… John is listening to Christmas carols on Pandora for some reason. Curious, n’est-ce pas? Weenie and Jasper are snoozing.

As the day is totally drab and dull, I thought I would offer some color, a Technicolor-hued punch…

Here’s a photo tour of our former garage at Madcap Cottage in upstate New York that John and I transformed from a tumbledown structure into a rainbow-hued screened-in porch.

I hope you enjoy the journey…

Stay dry, and stay safe!

Al Fresco Elegance!

New roofing, screened doors, and a cupola that John and I purchased online take the exterior of the garage and make it gorgeous. The cupola is vinyl-clad, so it will never need painting. I am not a fan of vinyl siding, but here it makes total sense.

Interior Motives!

John and I had the interior patched and a new cement floor poured. And we carved-out screened windows that look onto our backyard. A pale blue ceiling helps open up the space.

Patio, Daddy-o!

John and I found some beat-up old garden furniture and had it powder coated a bright lemon yellow. The results are perfectly sunny and delicious! Find garden furniture at a yard sale, and have it powder coated to give it new life.

Fabric of Life!

John and I came up with a fun fabric scheme that mixes lots of easy-to-care-for indoor/outdoor fabrics in big, bold hues.

Dog Days of Summer!

Jasper eyes the work in progress. Almost complete!

Hello, Jasper!

And here's the finished product... John and I were lucky enough to have the screened-in porch appear in the magazine DIY. Jasper makes himself right at home in the finished screened-in porch, now renamed The Little House. Floor paint transformed a cement floor into something fabulous. John crafted the window treatments from Ikea using a stamp that he picked up at a flea market with fabric paint.

Et Voila!

Note the inexpensive Chinese lanterns that dangle overhead, an inexpensive way to add "punch" and "pizzazz" to any space. The cupola adds further "architecture" to a roofline that was sorely lacking interest.


Time for a Little Kitchen DIY!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Kitchen Confidential!

The summer issue of Do It Yourself magazine features John's renovation of his brother and sister-in-law's kitchen in Minneapolis. Scroll down to the "Kitchen Wisdom" link at the bottom of the installment to access the pdf of the story, packed with loads of ideas.


As you probably know, John is a contributing editor at several of the Meredith Corporation’s various magazines, including Better Homes and Gardens. He also produces articles for the likes of Do It Yourself magazine, a terrific and color-filled publication that gives readers gobs of, natch, do-it-yourself options.

The summer issue of Do It Yourself features a fun and whimsical kitchen that John designed for his brother and sister-in-law in Minneapolis.

Here are some of his tips:

-Be bold with color.

-Top it with tin.

-Clean up your cabinets.

To read the whole story and to get some terrific ideas to bring into your home, click on the pdf, Kitchen Wisdom.


P.S. We are so excited to follow our good pal and Meredith Corporation editor Lacey Howard’s upcoming trip to London and the Olympics on her blog, Howardgirlshopthepond. Check it out!


Train Spotting in London!

Sunday, November 20th, 2011


St. Pancras!

The exterior of the fabulous, just-revamped St. Pancras Renaissance hotel in London. The hotel sits above the modern, very chic train station where the Eurostar trains depart for Europe.


Greetings from London! John and I are abroad for the Thanksgiving holiday, and we are tooling about Europe… Our first start is London and from there it’s on to Amsterdam via train and then through Germany and Switzerland and on to Paris and back to London. Whew, what a delicious Grand Tour!

So here we are in London-town, and, as ever, we are smitten. John and I have checked into the amazing, just-opened St. Pancras Renaissance London hotel, the Gilbert Scott-designed, Victorian-era hostelry that rises above St. Pancras train station. The hotel closed in 1935 and saw decades of neglect until it was given a massive overhaul: And the results are stunning.

Step inside the brick-and-crenellated hotel, and enter a luxe, cosseting environment that maintains the building’s architecture with a fresh, contemporary look. Our room, in the main wing of the hotel, is double height and boasts original woodwork and a period stone mantelpiece, along with a cutting-edge bathroom with rain shower and soaking tub. And don’t miss a meal in the Booking Office, the train station’s former ticket room with its cathedral-like details–including a sky-high ceiling, Gothic-style windows, and elegant carved paneling.

John and I were never huge fans of Victorian-era design, but the St. Pancras Renaissance has changed our minds. We love the rich Victorian color schemes that take center stage throughout the hotel, from the sumptuous main staircase with its rich red walls to the gorgeous, opulent ceiling of The Gilbert Scott restaurant. Plus, there are amazing tiles, rich woodwork and wrought iron, and loads of stone and terra cotta.

If you are headed to London soon, check out the St. Pancras Renaissance. The history, the style, the elegance: The hotel is a winner. And let us know if you, too, fall in love with Victoriana.

St. Pancras Perfection!

John on one of the colorful stairs at the St. Pancras Renaissance with the train station visible out the window. Note the glorious, Victorian-era metal scrollwork upon the stair rail. Sumptuous Tudor roses, sublime.

Olympic Mania!

A view of the Olympic rings hanging above bustling St. Pancras station as seen from a staircase window in the supremely quiet St. Pancras Renaissance hotel.


The glorious ceiling of the St. Pancras Reniassance's Gilbert Scott bar. The colors are pure magic. John and I would like to create a rug with this color scheme and pattern. The bell-shaped chandelier is a modern addition by superstar designer David Collins.

Be a Wannabe!

Before the St. Pancras Renaissance underwent its renovation, the building played a pivotal role in the Spice Girls' first blockbuster hit, "Wannabe." Check out the St. Pancras as it hosts Sporty, Scary, Posh, and the other gals before they hit it big. Click on the image, above, to watch the classic music video.



House Tour: Scenes from a Renovation!

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Madcap Cottage!

Here's what the exterior of our little cottage looks like today.


Morning! As John and I prepare Madcap Cottage for our upcoming Nate Berkus segment, we have been going through photos of the house from when we bought it through today.

Here’s a little taste of Madcap Cottage along the way:


A vintage shot of the house. We tried to keep as many architectural details as possible, but the house needed all new windows and the canopy over the front door was completely rotted.


The garage before we transformed it into a screened-in porch. Mr. and Mrs. Mouse and friends lived here when we moved in, we asked them to move out.

The back porch "after!"

The former garage now transformed into a colorful screened-in porch.

The living room!

The living room during construction. What a mess!


Here's the back of the house and the kitchen during construction... That's my dad, Jary, standing in the house. He and my uncle, Lary, helped me and John with the renovation. And, yes, my dad is named Jary and his two brothers are Lary and Tary. Wacked, huh?

The Bedroom "Before!"

The bedroom before we started construction. It looked more like a closet, n'est-ce pas?

The Bedroom!

Our bedroom under construction... Farrow & Ball paint, naturally!


Our finished kitchen. But, wait!, this space will be transformed yet again for the Nate shoot. We can never sit still with our interiors, we think of our rooms as design labs that constantly shift and morph.


Weekend Warrior: Turn Your Closet Into a Bar

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

A closet "before."

This boring closet has ugly louver doors and could certainly use a pick-me-up. Luckily, John and Jason Oliver had big plans for this sorry-ass storage unit.

We have a fun project for your weekend: Transform that ill-organized, ill-used closet in your living room into a fabulous alcove bar.

“Huh, what?,” we hear you saying.

OK, doubting Thomases, bear with us.

Yes, turn your closet from a boring storage unit into a brilliant bar that invokes loads of tippling and perhaps end-of-the-evening dancing upon tables.

Best, of all this transformation is easy.

Says John, our resident Carrie Nation: “Take off the doors to your closet and add curtain rods and curtains that can be hemmed by your local tailor. Buy some simple shelves, maybe something from IKEA, or have a carpenter install inexpensive plywood shelves. Then go to your favorite flea market and stock up on vintage cocktail shakers. Next up, hit the hooch store for loads of vodka, gin, and other sundries. Open the curtains, and it’s a boozy beauty. It’s like Bob Barker revealing what lurks behind Curtain #2, only minus Holly Hallstrom (she was one of the Price is Right beauties).”

The closet "after."

The very same closet "after." Can you believe it? Take down the doors and add curtains and a bust from Oly and lots of hooch, and voila!

Says Jason, “Yes, it’s a fabulous transformation. What could be better than a tucked-away bar? Well, maybe an all-expenses-paid trip to Bali, but I don’t see Lady Luck sprinkling any of that fairy dust on my head anytime soon. God damn it, I need a cocktail. John, open the curtains to our former closet, and pour me a stiff one! It’s goddamn 3pm somewhere in the world!”