Archive for February 2011

Springing into Home Makeovers

It’s my business to make homes better. As an interior stylist, I’m the new generation of designer that can seamlessly progress from a home staging professional to interior design consultant (always on a budget.) My job is to celebrate your home and make it beautiful no matter what chapter you may be on in it. From when you 1st move in, to when you sell - I’m there to make your home better.

My business philosophy is to spend it where you need to, and fill in the blanks with chic, yet cheap finds – The perfect mix of Rich with Poor. Like I always say …“If you keep your big mouth shut, they’ll never know…”

So… it’s almost spring.

Whether you are going or staying, the induction of spring seems to be the cue for home makeovers. Just like the longing for a fresh breeze through open windows, homeowners are ready for change. From simple updates like a fresh new paint palette, to the restless rustlings of bigger remodeling projects; this season seems to burst forth home makeover needs like the crocuses popping up in your lawn.

In this series of three articles, I’ll be offering insight on how to go about a home makeover project. The 1st of the series is “Where to Begin,” followed by two other articles “Style & Details Defined” and “Current Trending & Savvy Shopping Sources.” Hopefully, your makeover needs will be more defined, and if not, I’ll be getting a call (708.448.7500.)

Where to Begin?

The 1st step to home makeover projects is to define your room goals, create a plan, and be realistic of a budget. Unlike the makeover shows you watch on TV, unless you had stock options for an Internet IPO, any home project will cost you more than the materials you purchase.

DEFINE YOUR ROOM GOALS. Is it that darn lack luster living room in need of a décor boost and a color correction? Is it your kitschy out-dated kitchen that will never appeal to the 30-somethings that will be the ideal buyer for your home in need of an overhaul? By sketching out your goals, you’ll start defining the steps you’ll needs to complete the makeover.

When I work with my clients, my 1st step in defining your goals is to use adjective packed sentences to describe how you want to define the space. As an example:

“I want my lackluster living room to feel warm and inviting - a cozy place to curl-up on the couch to read a book, or engage in the latest news with my favorite neighbor. Buttery tones, soft, tea-washed fabrics, with simple, yet sophisticated French flea market inspired accents will fill this space.”

Or, “I want to update and redefine my kitschy out-dated kitchen, complete with duck-with-bows wall border into a turn-key ready, for a family of four, with smart, shiny new appliances, envy-evoking, trend forward cabinets and irresistible, yet no-fuss quartz countertops – so that the kitchen appeals to the target buyer of my home.”

CREATE A PLAN. Create a workable outline of all the projects you’ll need to do to complete your makeover. From wallpaper stripping, to accessory shopping, define, outline and calendar your plan. The best and most effective way of succeeding in this plan - is to take a hard look of what you are and are not capable of. Please, just because you once read in a magazine “3 Easy Steps on how you can reface your cabinets in a weekend with Contact® paper,” doesn’t make a saleable worthy kitchen remodel. Consider your time restraints, knowledge and expertise in all project details, and understand that if you really want to get this done in a timely matter, you’ll need to seek professional help in certain areas.

ATTACH A REALISTIC BUDGET. Once your goals have been described, a plan has been defined you can now attach budget estimates to each of the projects. By attaching a budget to each of the projects, you’ll get a realistic view of your financial investment. By far, the most faulted area of any home makeover is not being realistic of the costs to complete it. It is not an educated guess that your new complete furnishing dreams for your living room will cost $399.00 because that’s what the price quoted on the HGTV show. News alert, a side table for your living room is around $399.00 – Just the side table! Be smart, weed through catalogs and jot down home décor pricing, scour over Sunday newspaper flyers and the internet, and get estimates by referred professionals for deeded work.

Once you’ve established your budget projection, completed your goals and plan - you can proceed to “Style & Details Defined” step of your home makeover. This style definition exercise will help you understand the psychology of the home makeover, understand your home and your lifestyle - which will help you choose color, materials and the overall look of the makeover.

Since 1999, interior stylist Julea Joseph has owned Chicago area based interior design and home staging business - Reinventing Space.  Your can see her work on HGTVor in the news giving homeowners expert insight on how to refresh, style and celebrate their space -Whether prepping their home to go on the market, just settling in, or just in need of a change.  Julea also offers her expertise with certification training and mentoring  offerings to Realtors and Home Stagers in the industry. Visit her site, more information oe email her at

Bourbon ROCKS!

BACK IN STOCK 4/11 So for those of us who have friends that are avid bourbon drinkers (I think all of mine are), and never know what to give them as a gift....well, we've finally figured it out. These are our new "Bourbon Rocks"! Made of soapstone in Vermont, these are the perfect way to keep your alcohol cool/cold, without having the ice delute it. The box says it simply enough with "Ice Melts. Whisky Rocks. Ideal for putting a slight chill in your whisky without diluting the dram of your dreams." The set includes 9 stones (only 3 are suggested per drink) and a small pouch to store them in the freezer! The stones are non-porous, and will impart neither flavor nor odor. They will not react with household solvents such as water, alcohols, detergents, or mild acids. The soapstone is composed primarily of talc, hence the rocks will not scatch your glasses! We think these things pun intended! :) They are available in the store (located 1535 Delaware Ave, Lexington, KY 40505) for $19.95 OR you can purchase them at our online store, you can get there by clicking here!


Recently found this in Country Living! How much do you love it! I mean really! How simple can it be! It simply goes back to the idea of putting anything in mass, makes them special!

I have one vintage old I only have to find 10 more@!!!!

Old's the New Again

With our recent trip to market I couldn't help but be caught by this combination of "updated traditionalism fabulousness"! Now that's a mouth full! Seen here in this vignette is a company called Global Views, and to be honest with you, this company hands down gets it 100% right every year! Although, you won't find a single piece in our store. The true problem is price point, those incredible lamps (which were OMG huge) would have had to retail at over $1000. I love them, but not that that much. But it is without a doubt the coolest place to go to get inspired and to dream. This is one of the places where we go to drool!

But as with anything in the market, in 6 months, you'll see cheaper alternatives to these out there, and that's just fine with us! I mean, I understand that quality comes with a price tag, but there's a huge window of options out there in quality, and these are the top line Mercedes, when I would like the Honda, lol.

I can't help but love this setting. There's not a thing in this vignette that isn't updated. Now this is a little more formal than my taste, but it is fabu! I love the oversized scale to everything. The buffet came up almost to my chest (I'm 6'3) so you can only imagine the size of the lamps! What I also love is the nod between the buffet and the mirror, don't miss the silver ring showing up in both. The mirror reminds me of a pocket watch. TO DIE FOR.

I wanted to show this because I thought that it was a great example of taking old and redefining it to be new. There are still details of it that make it timeless and classic, but then the lines and finishes update it. While you may not be able to use all of this in your home. Be open to updating certain items. For when you mix these new with true old traditional pieces, it creates a whole new story.

The Perfect Valentines Gift

February 14th is here with us and as happens all years, the spirit of love is in its peak. Everyone is running up and down looking for that perfect gift for their loved ones. The red rose is the first and most obvious gift that everyone pounces on. The flower farmers are in their good times and the same goes for flower vendors. In fact, all the hawkers in town are flushing whatever red items they can put their fingers on, so long as it passes for a gift. Wineries and gift card makers are also counting fortunes from their products.  Restaurants are also in their best form and trying their best to outdo their competition in offering their customers, all with the ‘couple’ tag, the most memorable moments, whether in the heart of the city, beach resort or mountainous get away. 

And this year it is even getting better, mobile phone service providers are outdoing themselves with offers for the most feminine gadgets around. Even insurance companies have introduced packages most fitting for the season! In this society, it goes without saying that more gifts will be going from the masculine direction to the feminine than the opposite. There was even this opinion poll published in the weekend papers on various aspects of the famous day, ranging from the average amount a man is likely to spend on their wives (or girlfriends for that matter) to which house they will visit on the important. ‘Which house’ because it is very common these days for men to have more than one house to support.
  • ·         So, what is the perfect gift to give out to your loved one this Valentines Day?
  • ·         Just how much is enough to make the right statement to your loved one?
  • ·         What is really the meaning of Valentines Day?  
It is not questionable the fact that gifts must be handed across lovers. One of the things to note here is the fact that the gift that one gives must come from the heart and should depict the right impression of the feelings in our heart towards our intimate partners. This does not necessarily mean expensive as many may be tempted to think. It means that what you got for your lover is exactly what they might have asked for, had they the chance. It should be the considerable and reasonable wish they have had in their hearts, the dreams they have on you. It must not even be tangible, for what would be so wrong with a promise for the common future! Think of his proposal you have always postponed answer!  The cost of the Valentines Gift should not even be known by the receiver. I mused over a famous and most expensive package on offer around. This may not necessarily convert to a gigantic and overwhelming welcome by the receiver, for as they say, money cannot buy love. 

Another important thing to note is the fact that, Valentines marks the beginning of the year of love, just like January marks the onset of the calendar year. For this reason, the specific day is not as important as the days ahead, albeit its importance should not be underplayed. It would be more important to impress all year round rather than on one day alone. And while the day might fall on the wrong day of the week, keeping you away from your lover or your pocket might not support that bouquet of red roses; your love should not be regarded less.  Moreover, it would be more important to make ‘new year’ resolutions for your love and seeking ways to making it a better relationship than spending all your savings on an expensive dinner. I surmise it would be a better gift this Valentines Day to give up that mistress than an overseas trip with the mother of your children. The disclosure of the same would be priceless…but don’t kill her with a heart attack. Tell her the way you told her of her mother’s demise!

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Clean Hands and a Clean Conscience

So every buyers' dream at market is to find something that is truly incredible and something they've never seen before to offer their loyal following. Well guys...this year at market we hit the jackpot several times! Probably our most favorite thing we found was FURTHER Soap and Lotion.

Not only is it an incredible value, but it looks incredible, smells incredible, and has an incredible story! A triple threat of the giftware industry if you will!

The birth of these incredible items came from when Marshall and Megan (Pasadena, CA) decided to change their driving habits! Marshall decided to convert his car to run on used vegetable oil from surrounding restaurants. Over time he had acquired quite a bit of glycerin (its the byproduct of using this oil). His wife being somewhat of a "crafty cathy", knew that they could take this left over glycerin and create soap. When they added the perfect combination of scents, they got BINGO! It's incredible!
Here's what the back side of the labels says:
This product is derived from locally sourced depleted vegetable oil, refined and artfully converted into exceptional hand soap for clean hands and a clean conscience.

Our biofuel distillation process drives our vehicles, and the pure glycerin byproduct drives FURTHER. Essential oils of bergamot, olive and grasses are combined to create a products that is at once fresh, sustainable, and pleasingly aromatic. We hope you enjoy using FURTHER as much as we enjoy making it. Wash Responsibly.

We have FURTHER Soap, Lotion, and Candles. Make sure you see them on your next visit! I know what I'm getting myself for my birthday! :) Now I can wash responsibly! I wonder if I can use it wash out my mouth?

Smell My Finger!

You know those moments where someone walks in on a conversation and hears or sees something that out of context makes absolutely no sense or is obsene? Well that happened to me the other day in the store.

You see....I had just washed my hands with one of our new soaps that we just got in store . Upon exiting the restroom, I started a conversation with someone about how wonderful this soap smelled! Right about the time of I said "here, smell my finger".....another customer came around the corner. Ironically she was the embarrased one, not me, lol.

The soaps just smell so good! I have to admit that I think we hit the jackpot with great gift soaps! We just got in some hand made soaps from Moss Hill (pictured above). These soaps are made in Louisville, and we're the only place to get them in Lexington! We are featuring the Bourbon scented items right now! Now don't let the name fool you. You won't smell like Johnny or Maker's if you touch it! It also smells NOTHING like the bourbon candle we carry. It's something in it's own right, just incredible! You must smell it on your next visit.

It has this clean musk scent that is just divine. Before we actually thought about carrying it, Stuart had picked up a bar of it in Louisville, and we had it in the bathroom here at the store. Everyone who used it wanted to purchase it. Well, "mama didn't raise no fool" and the rest is history!

The next time you visit, you simply must smell it! An incredible Kentucky made product for a perfect gift! We currently have bars of soap, lotion, linen spray, and candle tins!

And please remember, if I happen to ask you to smell my finger the next time your in.....I'm not being crude! :)

Why Build and Not Buy

 (Taken from my series; What To Consider Before Building Your House)

One of the very distinguishing factors between construction and other industries is that construction deals with unique, one-time only products. In most cases, it also involves first and last relationships. Once you build your house, that's almost certainly the last time you build (Unless you are venturing into real estate in a commercial scale). One other important point to note here is that a house is a part of a family. It is a part of you and as such, you want it to represent all that you are. You want to be part of it from the start. You want to fulfill the quest to have you build your house instead of buying one, that is, if you like the thrill of trying something new and more so if you like an extra pocket in the interior of your suit lining!

A house needs to be where we have always wanted to live in. It needs to keep us closer to those that we can identify with and also in the kind of environment that we want to live in. While you might find a bigger percentage of these in a house on sale, there is still that small personal touch that will be lacking. You need a house with a pent room for your son, a small backyard vegetable garden for your wife and a small picket fence for your daughter. These specifics are hard to find in the ready-made market.
Another reason to build and not buy a house is to seek economic benefit of your own construction. It goes without saying that when you go out to buy a house, you are paying for overheads like those for the sales agents, the advertisements, the lawyers et cetera. Other costs include those of high flying contracting companies and management firms that are known to take percentages of the actual costs that can sometimes go as high as 40%. Although is hard to strictly build at cost, but it is still possible lower these overheads to very low percentages.

A house is a long term investment and needs to stand the test of time. The quality of the building plays a very big role towards this goal. It is common knowledge that when things are done in a commercial scale and especially when they are done en masse and by people who are not the end users, it is easy for standards to be lowered. It gets worse nowadays owing to the upsurge of fake and counterfeit materials in the market. It is not very alien to mistake plastic for hardwood these days! You get into a house and by the time you are doing the second year, things start peeling off and others loosening out. A two year house might easily be mistaken for one twenty years old. Another important thing to consider here is safety standards. While statutory bodies are there with the mandate of ensuring optimal performance, there is still the danger of little compromises here and there. And what is little today may prove giant tomorrow.

We cannot also downplay the fulfillment of being part of the process. Once you have decided to build, it is important to note when you will need a hands-on approach into the project if you are to be successful in this endeavor. This does not mean that you all of a sudden become a technical person in construction, but rather you will need enough background information on what to do, when and who to involve long before you shout about your aspiration to build. It is important to seek information from others who have built before you. This will acquaint you with the little foxes in first time construction.

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We're Moving!

That's right! We've been looking for a new space for a while now, well way into the last part of last year, but had given up. It was amazing how many spaces were available, but the rent was still ridiculously high! So truthfully we had given up. But as we know...things are meant to happen, they just happen! Our new space is literally 116 feet from our current front door! We are taking over the front building of Cowgirl's Attic at 1535 Delaware! Same side of the street! It's going to over double the size of our store! PLUS...we have more vertical space...which you know what that means....YES....GO BIGGER OR GO HOME! The three of us are very excited! We are going to continue to stay open at our current location through the end of the February! And plan on opening March 1 or somewhere around there, more info will come your way for sure! We have a lot going on in the next bit including, our year anniversary, opening the new store, as well as the Spring Open House, all of which you will get more information for! For the best way to stay up to date, friend us on Facebook or join our email list(there's a button back on our website) READY SET HERE WE GO!

I ams what I ams

It's finally time that I can announce that I am Kentucky Monthly's new home design blogger! It's called "Homegrown Design". This has been in the works for sometime, but is finally going! I am so excited about all of the new adventures that are coming our way! It seems everytime I turn around there's a new something going on! It's never boring, I can tell you that!

The first introduction blog has only been up for like a couple of hours and I've already gotten questions of how we came up with the name "Homegrown Design." Well the truth is, when I met with Amanda (KY Monthly's Creative Director) about this, she was asking me about myself, and the phrase "homegrown" just came out. I am without a doubt my father's son (if you only knew), my mother's son (emotional at the drop of a hat), and my grandparents grandson! I see them in every part of me! With that said, I also believe that I am a product of my surrounding, not only how I was raised, but by the community, and ultimately the area that I lived in then and now where I live now currently. With more discussion I also realized that this was also how I viewed design. Where you live (your home), is ultimately reflected in you.

I've always said "I ams what I ams." When I was younger, I thought that I was a genius for coming up with that, but then at somepoint in elementary school I realized that I had heard it from Popeye. In 8th grade wrote an article about this philosophy that ended up getting published in some school magazine. I find it kind of ironic that sticking to that principal has now gotten me to this new adventure!

I'll be updating it weekly! So please check in whenever you think about it! And leave me a comment if you can and let me know what you think! Also look in the Kentucky Monthly magazine starting in March to see editorials/stories from Stuart, Dwayne, and myself!

Thankfully I have an editor who goes through and fixes grammar issues and all of that jazz. On here, you get the unedited version with typos and grammatical errors. I wonder why they thought that I needed an editor? ;) Oh well it is what it is!

You can view the first blog by clicking here