Category Archives: Home Builders

Bringing a 1980s Relic Into the Light, Bright Modern Age

It’s never easy to restore an old home, but redesigning a home built in the 1980s – an era not particularly loved for its style – requires imagination.

Debbie Cederlind and Lora Lindberg, Seattle house-flipping pros and owners of Urban Squirrel, recently tackled a Bothell, WA home built in 1989 that didn’t have much going for it on the style front.

“With 1980s houses, it’s a challenge to put character back in,” says Cederlind. “We started with no character, but it felt good at the end. We made it stand out and gave it some specialness that wasn’t there.”

The traditional-style home had already been renovated before Cederlind and Lindberg got their hands on it, but the work was less than desirable.

“There were some hideous paint colors on the wall,” Lindberg recalls. “You could see they were trying to inject character with super bright yellows and reds. And there was a bathroom with no windows. It was livable, but pretty ugly inside.”

Let it breathe

When Cederlind and Lindberg first walked into the home, their main objective was to let some much-needed light inside.

They removed a wall between the kitchen and dining room and opened up the stairwell leading down to the basement. The stairwell was long and completely closed up with a door at the top, so the designers decided to open both sides of the wall.

“We let it breathe a little bit,” Lindberg says.

The kitchen was reimagined – taken from dark and unremarkable to sleek, light and modern, featuring a charcoal-colored island, white open shelving and a shiplap treatment. The designers also covered the appliances with paneling to make them less obvious.

In addition to revamping the kitchen and the main bathroom, which was lightened with a rectangular exterior window and some large-piece tile work in the shower, the designers also altered the awkward layout upstairs.

They decided to close off an outdated half wall that overlooked the living space and front entryway, then create a bedroom to replace the lofted office that previously existed there.

Inject character

The bulk of the work and style added to the home was in the basement. “The space was super creepy and weird and didn’t flow well,” Lindberg says.

Out of this blank, dark and uninviting slate, the designers created two bedrooms, a library, a kitchenette and an additional bathroom. The kitchenette and bathroom feature sliding barn doors, which open up to the large living space downstairs.

The kitchenette is every bit as stylish as the full kitchen, featuring open shelving, charcoal-colored open cabinets and stone counters.

The biggest quandary the designers faced in the basement was deciding what to do with the three posts in the middle of the room. After much deliberation, they turned the posts into a built-in library, adorning it with vintage-style hanging chairs on each side suspended from beams.

“We went around and around, and that was the trickiest thing to figure out,” Cederlind says. “But if you’re a family with kids, you want the whole basement to be a big playground.”

Get the look at home

  • Make your kitchen flow. “Now that we’re doing these open kitchens, people don’t want their kitchen to look like a kitchen. They want it to flow,” Cederlind says. Add artwork, pottery and other accessories to make the room feel less like a kitchen and more like the rest of your home.
  • Consider conversation. “We think a lot about our seating arrangements. We think about conversation and not about TV placement,” Lindberg says. Face couches and chairs toward each other – not the TV – to create a cozy space for chatting with friends and loved ones.
  • Incorporate contrast. “You need the balance of dark and bright,” Cederlind says. If you have dark hardwood floors, don’t feel like you have to match your cabinetry. Creating contrast will prevent your home from looking too dark or dated.

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This Hobbit House Will Have You Dreaming of Middle-Earth

Building tiny meant dreaming big for Kristie Wolfe.

Inspired by the “Lord of the Rings” stories she enjoyed as a child, the Idaho native set out to build a tiny home in a hillside for an unlikely client: a real-life hobbit.

“I grew up watching the 1970s cartoon, and I’ve read ‘The Hobbit,’” Wolfe said. “I really always loved the house and the type of house that they lived in.”

Wolfe found the perfect backdrop for her Shire in the small central Washington community of Orondo. (It’s not quite Middle-earth, but smack dab in the middle of the Evergreen State.) She had already built a treehouse in Hawaii; for her next project, she had her heart set on an authentic, buried hobbit hole inspired by characters from the famous “Lord of the Rings” books.

But what the soul wants, the soil can’t always deliver: The property offered million-dollar views, but getting construction equipment up to a rural hillside would prove challenging.

“I wanted the house to be buried, to be as authentic as possible. I tried to do a lot of research, but there’s not a lot out there,” Wolfe said. “I couldn’t get a concrete truck up here. We could have mixed it by hand, but it would have been really difficult. I talked to the building department, and they just said nobody’s ever done it, but you can give it a shot.”

Wolfe relied on the construction know-how she’d picked up from her parents – her mother remodeled houses when Wolfe was a child – and brought in a backhoe to clear the land. Wolfe needed to ensure the hobbit hole could hold the foot of dirt she planned to place on the roof, so she used marine-grade, pressure-treated wood.

“Any time you put dirt on top of a house, when that dirt gets wet, it’s basically having a swimming pool on top of your house,” she added. “It’s a lot of weight.”

Up next: an entrance fit for a hobbit. Wolfe wanted a signature round entryway, which she created using an industrial-sized cable spool. She enlisted a local designer to craft the hinges and the opening to the 288-square-foot space. He repurposed a trailer hitch to build the door handle.

When guests enter through the circular portal, they immediately stand in the bedroom. To the right is a fireplace, which helps heat the home in the winter, along with a woodworker’s bench. To the left is the bathroom, complete with a large, wooden tub.

Other touches were sustainably sourced. Wolfe crafted the cordwood floor from roadside logs she gathered, chopped up and glued together. She found some furnishings on Craigslist. The cozy wood Jacuzzi bathtub came from a used furniture shop.

With a location so remote, Wolfe installed solar panels to generate electricity. The dirt-covered roof has the benefit of keeping the home at a cool 55 degrees year-round (the oversized fireplace comes in handy in cooler weather). Wolfe’s sister, a landscaper, wove sticks and branches together to create a hobbit-style fence, greeting fans and friends alike.

Speaking of fans, they’ve made this spot as beloved as the books themselves. The home is available as a vacation rental and is so popular, it’s almost fully booked for the next year. Some guests come in full hobbit regalia, Wolfe said; others have used the home as a backdrop to get engaged.

Given the home’s popularity, it’s no surprise that Wolfe is looking to expand. She’s got two more hobbit holes planned for the same property.

“I want to build a communal kitchen … that will look like an English-style pub,” she said. “People from all over can meet, or come stay with their friends and family, and break bread together like hobbits would.”


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5 Signs You Need to Upgrade Your Kitchen

Your kitchen is likely the most loved room in your home – and the wear and tear proves it. It’s the hangout for hungry teenagers, the conversation station during the holidays and the catch-up room after a busy workday.

A functional and appealing kitchen is important not only for your family but for your guests, too. After all, a delicious meal is only so appealing in a messy and cluttered kitchen.

Here are five signs that your kitchen may need an upgrade.

1. Outdated appliances

Perhaps they were there when you moved in, or maybe they came with you decades ago when you bought the home. Either way, outdated appliances are usually less attractive and drain more energy than newer models on the market.

Consider their safety, too. If you have to press a secret combination of buttons and chant a spell to light your range, it’s time to upgrade to newer, safer appliances.

When you do upgrade, consult a professional electrician to make sure everything is wired properly and up to code.

2. Damage and wear

Nobody expects your kitchen to stay in like-new condition forever, but damage beyond normal wear and tear needs addressing.

Water damage from a leaking fridge or dishwasher can cause mold on and underneath the flooring or peeling on the countertops, floors and walls, depending on the materials.

Cracked, peeling or chipped countertops and floors are prime spots for dangerous bacteria to reside – and hide from cleaning supplies. Even clean counters and floors with stains can cause your guests to think twice when they’re invited over a second time.

Upgrading to newer counters made from a durable material like granite is a good investment that can last practically a lifetime.

3. Not enough counter space

If your counters are covered with appliances, utensils and food, you need an upgrade. Ideally, your counters should always be clutter-free, and everything should have an easily accessible place.

Adding more counter space doesn’t have to mean tearing down walls and rehauling the layout. If your floor plan allows, installing an island is a great and relatively simple way to add counter space.

If it’s not the space but the clutter that’s the problem, larger cabinets or deeper drawers will increase storage so you can reclaim your counters.

4. You can’t find anything

Do you look forward to cooking or dread the time commitment? How much time is actually spent on food prep versus searching for the right utensils, appliances and dishware?

A disorganized kitchen makes it difficult to find anything, which can cause anxiety over cooking and render your kitchen useless. A fresh design and organization strategy is a worthy investment to get you eating in your own home again and enjoying the cooking process.

5. Your house won’t sell

Saving for your new home is often the priority when moving. But upgrading your current kitchen before you go is an investment that may very well pay for itself.

Home shoppers often gravitate first toward the kitchen. So, if you’ve been having trouble selling your home and the kitchen’s outdated – that could be the reason.

Buyers are usually more interested in move-in ready homes that require little or no remodeling. A more appealing, upgraded kitchen can be a motivating factor for buyers, hopefully resulting in less time on the market and a better selling price.


Make the necessary upgrades when the time comes, and your kitchen will reclaim its rightful place as the heart of the home.

Photos by Timothy Riley and Luke Caldwell.


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10 Cozy Cabins for $300,000 or Less

Whether you’re looking for a vacation home or somewhere to leave the city behind and unplug the electronics for good, there are plenty of cabins to fit even a modest budget.

Grab your favorite flavored latte and a flannel blanket before settling in to look at these 10 cozy cabins for $300,000 or less.

Gore, OK

96077 S Redbud Ln
For sale: $294,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

This A-frame cabin has stellar views of crystal-clear Lake Tenkiller from the spacious back porch, and it’s just down the road from direct water access. After a long day out on the lake, you’ll enjoy the open-concept living and dining space, which has plenty of natural light from the French doors and the windows that stretch nearly up to the gable. Snuggle up with a book at the end of the day in one of the bedrooms or in the bonus sleeping loft upstairs.

See more homes for sale in Gore.

Lake Geneva, WI

N3211 Highland Dr
For sale: $275,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Located just minutes from downtown Lake Geneva, this log cabin has all the room you need to recover from the blustery, cold Wisconsin fall and winter temperatures. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill cabin – it boasts many interesting architectural details, including beautiful A-frame beams across the living room, a stone fireplace, wide-plank hardwood floors and a front door with stained glass. End the day by relaxing in the jetted tub, or enjoy the views from the master suite balcony with a hot cup of cocoa.

Find more homes in Lake Geneva.

Gaylord, MI

1449 Equestrian Ct
For sale: $299,500

Photo from Zillow listing.

Surrounded by 40 acres of nature, this cabin is sure to please those wanting to completely unplug and enjoy wildlife and foliage. The cabin is spacious, modern and updated, with vaulted pine ceilings, an open-concept living and dining space, and lots of natural light coming through the floor-to-ceiling windows. A large deck extends from the living room, perfect for taking in the sights and sounds of nature.

Search for more Gaylord homes.

Morganton, GA

215 Appalachian Trce
For sale: $195,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This Morganton home is the quintessential cabin in the woods. It features floor-to-ceiling wood planks, a stone fireplace in the corner, a deer-horn chandelier and a porch with rocking chairs. Located minutes from the Blue Ridge Mountains, this cabin is perfect for those who love to hike, bike or simply enjoy the peace and quiet of the wilderness.

Check out more homes in Morganton.

Sevierville, TN

3201 Stepping Stone Dr
For sale: $300,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This stunning cabin in Sevierville is truly a gem of the forest. With two stories of wraparound porches, floor-to-ceiling windows in the main living area, an updated kitchen with brand new appliances and real wood on the walls, floors and ceilings, you’ll be living stylishly in the middle of the woods. Enjoy the sweeping views with a glass of wine on the couch – or from the bubbling hot tub on the porch.

Find another home in Sevierville.

Bridgewater, VT

1031 Chateauguay Rd
For sale: $299,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Is there anything more picturesque than a cabin in the middle of Vermont? This rustic Bridgewater cabin provides the perfect space to warm up by the fire and enjoy all of those fall evenings. Wood planks and beams cover the floors, walls and ceilings, giving the space a snug, den-like feeling. Outside, a covered porch awaits your rocking chair, and a hot tub on the patio gives you a great spot to stargaze.

See more Bridgewater homes for sale.

Turners Station, KY

1429 Zen Forest Rd
For sale: $199,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

This turnkey cabin in Turners Station gives you all the luxuries of the city without any of the noise. An open, updated kitchen with new appliances is just right around the corner from your wall-mounted electric fireplace, ensuring you’ll be nice and toasty when you’re preparing a meal. Upstairs, the oversized skylit loft would be great for a game room – or for piling up a bunch of blankets to fall asleep under the stars.

Find more Turners Station homes.

Cleburne, TX

8449 Bruntsfield Loop Dr
For sale: $240,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

It may not get cold in Texas very often, but you’ll have the urge to cuddle up around a bonfire by this cabin in Cleburne. With cathedral-style ceilings, a covered porch and a modern, spacious kitchen, you’ll be set up to host friends and family throughout the year. Best of all, the home is located in a neighborhood known for its golf club, which is one of the best in Texas.

Search for more homes in Cleburne.

Elk, WA

13 Terry Rd
For sale: $300,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Lakefront living sure looks glamorous in this Elk cabin. Nestled on a beautiful property with plentiful opportunities for wildlife sightings, this home really does have it all: a beautifully designed kitchen, spacious bedrooms, a comfy covered porch and a private walkway to the shoreline.

See more Elk homes for sale.

Westcliffe, CO

510 Drunk Horse Ln
For sale: $199,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

With its quirky shape and rustic interior, this A-frame cabin in Westcliffe looks and feels like it popped out of a Wes Anderson film. Although the cabin may be small, the views from the front porch are spectacular – from the Wet Mountain Valley to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. You’ll enjoy some serious stargazing here, as Westcliffe is a certified International Dark Sky Community.

Check out more Westcliffe homes.


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The 9-to-5er's Guide to Keeping Your House Clean

If cleaning the house seems like one big chore, you’re probably doing it wrong. Before you put off cleaning for yet another month, here are some ways to make housework a comfortable and even enjoyable part of your daily routine.

Start small

If you begin and end each day with a little picking up, you’ll never get swamped with housework again. Keeping a clean house begins with good habits like making your bed every morning and cleaning the dishes while you cook. Nobody wants to navigate through a minefield of yesterday’s mess to make coffee, so never allow yourself to fall asleep with dirty dishes or a disheveled living room.

Before you leave for work in the morning, take one to two minutes to tidy up. That way, you can look forward to returning to a clean and stress-free house.

Enjoy yourself

Even the most reviled of household chores can be enjoyable if you have some headphones or a portable speaker. Truth be told, cleaning the house is a hidden source of me time that you’ll eventually learn to love.

For example, if you think vacuuming kind of sucks, listen to an energetic playlist of your favorite songs and sway to the music like nobody’s watching. If you haven’t had much time to read lately, listen to audiobooks and podcasts while you do the dishes. If you’re a parent and miss watching movies and shows without singing princesses, prop up your phone or tablet and use some wireless headphones to do a little binge-watching. Yay for chores!

Simplify your chore list

Rather than making a never-ending list of unattainable projects, break it up into manageable, bite-sized pieces.

Get a blank sheet of paper and make four columns: Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly. Everyday chores like making the bed, picking up the house and doing the dishes can go in the Daily column. Chores like vacuuming and dusting can go in either the Weekly or Monthly column, depending on what’s realistic for your lifestyle. Reserve the Yearly column for big projects like cleaning the oven, shampooing the carpet and wiping down the fan blades.

Even if you fall behind on your chore list, seeing it all laid out on one page will reduce your anxiety and make procrastination a thing of the past.

Stock your cleaning caddy

Instead of using one caddy to store all your cleaning supplies, only fill it with what you’ll use on a weekly basis: spray bottles of all-purpose cleaner and window cleaner, paper towels, a rag, dusting cloth, scrub brush, heavy-duty sponge and an old toothbrush for hard-to-reach places.

To ensure that you’ll actually use the caddy, keep it in your bathroom so it’s easily accessible. Store specialty kitchen cleaning products (stainless steel and cooktop cleaners) in the kitchen, and keep big bottles of bleach, vinegar and floor cleaner in the garage. And of course, keep any cleaning products out of the reach of young children.


Even though your sink is caked with toothpaste, soap scum and beard stubble, you still haven’t found the time to clean your bathroom lately. Well, fellow procrastinators, here’s a little secret: You can wipe the sink while you get ready in the morning! Keep a roll of paper towels underneath the sink so you can wipe the countertop and basin whenever you brush your teeth.

To keep the shower clean, fill a hollow dish scrubber with a mixture of half dish soap and half vinegar, keep it in the shower and scrub the tiles a little every time you shower.

To spot clean the kitchen floor and put off mopping another week, save any damp paper towels whenever you clean the kitchen counters. Before throwing them out, use them to clean up messes on the floor.

Aim for finished, not perfect

Nobody’s going to go over your cleaning job with a fine-tooth comb, so don’t bother sweating the small stuff. The goal is to make cleaning an attainable habit that fits in nicely with your busy lifestyle; worrying about not doing a good enough job will only make you procrastinate more.

Another problem is biting off more than you can chew. If mopping the whole house at once seems too daunting a task for one afternoon, settle for the kitchen floor for now. You can always move on to another room if you feel the urge.


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Mountain Bliss: A Creekside Cabin, Rustic Treehouse & Outdoor Canopy Bed

John “JT” Tredgold knows a thing or two about love at first sight. 

As vice president of bakery operations at Semifreddi’s in Oakland, CA, he needed a way to decompress after long hours of perfecting pastries and chocolate croissants at the handcrafted bread shop.

The London native sought a mountain respite to get away from it all. He embarked on a six-month search, which ended as soon as he set foot inside a rustic creekside cabin about two hours outside the city.

“It’s a funky cabin, but I looked at the design and proportions, and I fell in love with it,” JT said. “You walk out to the deck, and it overlooks this gorgeous creek. It just goes on and on. It’s overlooked by redwoods. It just gets better and better.”

The tiny-but-tough cabin that made the baker’s heart rise packs quite a punch into just 324 square feet. Built in 1959, it boasts a classic woodsy interior with thick, exposed wooden boards, plus a number of outdoor features – a treehouse! Zip lines! More on those in a bit.

Inside the main house, a clawfoot tub painted fire-engine red adds a burst of color in the bathroom. The copper-colored faucet and handles give off a warm vintage feel.

Upstairs, a lofted bedroom with an expansive skylight offers a view of the redwoods that surround the property. It’s JT’s favorite.

“Waking up in the morning and seeing the light break through the trees is incredible,” he said. “The same goes for nighttime. When it gets dusky, the sky turns deep blue, and I can hear the creek.”

“I don’t rush in the morning,” he continued, “and I don’t rush in the night. I just make sure I’m breathing it all in.”

And there’s certainly space to do that. On the deck, JT built a canopy for snoozing under the stars. A white curtain provides a wispy cover, while 200 hand-strung lights illuminate the space at night.

For more adventurous days, there’s a set of zip lines perfect for darting across the property. And the handmade treehouse that JT built, lofted among the trees, offers a spot for him to sleep in the summer or just to sneak away and read. The creek nearby provides nature’s soundtrack.

A roadside fence is also handcrafted – curvy and sinuous to mirror the wavy surface of the creek. Storage sheds are made of salvaged wood, while some of the walls were formed using repurposed shipping pallets from the bakery.

Parting with the property is bittersweet for JT, but important, he said. Wanderlust is calling, and so he must go.

“I’ve been here for five years, and I’ve never really been anywhere for more than five years,” JT said. “I just decided it’s time to go.”

“A friend of mine once said the biggest danger to an adventurous spirit is stability and security, and a free spirit needs to look for a new horizon every morning,” he continued. “And that’s always stuck with me.”

Kyla Brooke of Vanguard Properties carried the listingPhotography by Shidume Lozada.


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Do You Really Need to Rake?

Bad news: It’s time to get your act together and clean up your garden before winter makes the task more difficult. But the good news is, fall garden chores don’t have to be a pain. You might find you enjoy picking up branches or raking leaves in the brisk autumn air.

Whether you love or hate fall chores, here is a checklist of tasks and ways to make them easier.

Make a compost bin

Composting sounds like a lot of hard work, but it’s actually a perfect solution for lazy gardeners. Have a bunch of weeds, grass clippings and branches to get rid of? Don’t bother bagging it up and hauling it to the curb – just throw it in a pile and mix it up every month or so. Then surround the pile with landscape timbers or chicken wire to keep everything from blowing all over the place.

While you can make composting as complicated as you want, it doesn’t have to be.

 Rake leaves – or don’t

That’s right, raking the leaves isn’t always necessary. But before you proudly share this news with your significant other to try getting out of your chores, here’s the full story.


Leaves in the front lawn are not desirable, especially when they blow into neighboring lawns. Leaves in the garden, on the other hand, are totally desirable, and act as free mulch to protect roots and conserve moisture.

Another caveat: The soil around rose bushes and other plants that are sensitive to diseases like powdery mildew should be kept clean to prevent infection.

Collect fallen debris

We’ve all had a so-called ‘trash tree’ at some point. You know, the Bradford pear that drops branches at the drop of a hat – or the Osage orange that bombs unsuspecting passersby with rock-hard fruits.

If you’re one of the unfortunate souls with a messy tree, now is the time to collect all that debris for the year. Collect sticks and twigs, too, but once you’ve gathered them, leave them in the garden to serve as perches and homes for wildlife.

Mow the lawn

Cut the grass one last time, and mow it short to prevent diseases from spreading. Collect the grass clippings and add them to your compost pile.

Now is also a good time to complete your edging and string-trimming chores.

When you’re done mowing, winterize your mower and other outdoor power tools by draining the gasoline so it doesn’t become stale and gunk up your equipment for next year.shutterstock_203668357

Prune damaged branches

Fall is about using the anvil pruners rather than the hedge trimmers. Prune out any branches that are diseased, damaged or dead so they won’t succumb to winds or the weight of snow and ice.

If any arm-width branches meet those criteria, use a saw. If any large limbs or trees look as if they’ll break when loaded with ice, call a tree surgeon.

Look at it this way: If there’s anything that you think might fall to the ground on its own accord over the winter, remove it now.

Pull weeds

The last thing you want is a bunch of weeds spreading their seeds and taking over your garden in spring. Pull weeds on a pleasant day when it’s above freezing and the soil is a little moist so the weeds will come up more easily.

Since weeds have a tendency to shed their progeny all over the place, throw them on the compost pile or put them in trash bags.

Collect dead leaves

When cleaning and picking up indoors, you’d ideally leave things spotless. This is not the case in the garden, however, since seedpods, flowerheads and fruits add winter interest and provide food and shelter for wildlife.

Still, any dead leaves or other less-useful debris can be collected and composted.

Mulch beds

Mulching isn’t necessarily a cleanup task, but it is necessary nonetheless because it protects the plants’ roots over the winter and conserves moisture.

All of those raked leaves you saved will make an excellent mulch for your flowerbeds, or you can purchase the bagged stuff. Use a 1-  to 2-inch-deep layer of mulch, and resist the temptation to use landscaping fabric. Doing so might prevent weeds, but it will also prevent the soil around your plants from accessing rainfall or beneficial organisms.

Top photo from Zillow listing


Originally published October 15, 2015.

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Where the Caribbean Meets the City – House of the Week

Tracking down Malene Barnett is as simple as searching for the turquoise door. 

It’s not hard to spot in the rows of traditional brownstones that line Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Most have a conventional brick exterior in some rust-colored shade of burnt auburn or roasted carrot; Barnett’s has a clean coat of white with a pop of aqua smack dab on the first floor.

“They know me as the woman with the turquoise front door,” said Barnett. “I always wanted to live in a house identified by the color of the front door. And turquoise is my favorite color.”

The streak of bright colors continues inside the 2-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom brownstone, where Barnett, an artist and textile designer, painted rooms in shades ranging from Creamsicle to mint. 

Each room is inspired by her Caribbean roots. Barnett’s mother is from Saint Vincent, and her father grew up in Jamaica.

When she bought the home in 2008, Barnett figured she could bring that tropical feeling – quite literally – to her front doorstep.

“A lot of people like to paint white or beige. Teal is my neutral. My floors are teal. Instead of staining the floors, I selected a color,” she said. “I wanted the space to feel like I was in the Caribbean, because I can’t always get there, and one day I want a house there.”

The muted blue-green kitchen is a favorite spot for Barnett, who often unwinds by entertaining friends in the open space. She added a sea-glass tile backsplash to the wall behind the stove, where you might find her cooking up a favorite vegetarian dish, like sweet potato and kale soup.

The nearby living room is a brighter, but complementary shade of aquamarine that serves as a backdrop for the art and artifacts Barnett picked up in her travels worldwide, from ceramics in Ghana to sculptures in Senegal.

The front entryway is a radiant orange color, accented by a dark wood banister. It was the only thing Barnett was able to salvage while doing a complete gut renovation of the 1910 brownstone.

“There were holes in the roof, and water was seeping down, but I said, ‘OK, I’ll try for a mortgage anyway,’”  Barnett said. “It was run-down.”

She eventually found a bank to finance the two-year renovation, which included adding a 12-foot extension onto the back of the home on all three levels. The addition boosted space in the master bedroom, which she painted lavender from floor to ceiling. (No, really, the floors are a soft purple hue.)

The master bath features mosaic tile on the walls and floors. A large soaking tub is a welcome retreat for Barnett, who has been training for marathons.

“I love the space. There’s a double sink, there’s a double shower – it’s a room. Bathrooms can be so tight, but I didn’t want that because I am going to use this room every day,” she said. “I wanted it to be spacious and functional and pretty.”

While the designer has called the space home for nearly a decade, she’s constantly adding to it with art from her travels abroad. And, most of all, she’s become an advocate for others taking a risk on buying and renovating a home.

“I did this renovation on my own. I’m a single woman. Usually it’s couples doing this, or women are too fearful,” she said. “I bought this home and started a business at the same time. It was crazy, but I did it. It taught me about survival and my talents.”

“I didn’t have a lot of money,” she continued, “but I still found ways to survive.”

Custom photography by Sheena Kim.


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3 Easy, Clever Thanksgiving Decoration DIYs

Thanksgiving offers so many things to look forward to: the aroma of the turkey roasting in the oven, gathering with friends and family to share a meal, the excitement of the big game.

Get ready to celebrate with three Thanksgiving decoration projects that will make your home extra festive. Here’s a quick look at all three:

The party starts on the porch

Kick off the Thanksgiving fun with this welcoming turkey who’ll be there to greet your guests for a day of family, friends, and a little too much food.

Craft a tasty centerpiece

Between the turkey, the stuffing, and the mashed potatoes, we all could use something fresh before we tackle the pumpkin pie. This festive and fruity pumpkin turkey will be sure to wow your guests – and give them a quick snack between courses.


Who says you can’t play with your food? With just a bit of washi tape and a few apples, you can turn the kids’ table into a tic-tac-toe board that’s sure to be a hit with the under-20 crowd (and maybe even make the grownups’ table jealous).

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Sneak Peek: 5 Home Design Trends You'll Be Seeing in 2018

Twice a year, true interior design magic happens when the industry gathers in North Carolina for High Point Market. This massive trade show gives the design world an opportunity to show off the newest styles in furnishings, lighting and accessories.

We left the event with a wellspring of inspiration after spotting these exciting new trends.

Charcoal and honey

Deep, dark walls painted in rich charcoal and matte black, accented by lush honey tones and cream accents, created a dramatic look.

High Point Market featured plenty of furnishings and decor items that repeated the trend on a smaller scale, with glossy black elements and golden hardware and textiles.

Flouncy florals

Florals are always on point, but the market was flooded with heavily saturated, big-blossomed flourishes with lots of contrast.

Dramatic florals were everywhere, but most notably in large billowing fabrics. From drapery and wallcovering to club chairs and pillows, this look was a show front-runner.

If you’re looking to make a bold statement, consider a sofa with a colorful floral print on a dark background, or even a large art piece. For a more modest look, try incorporating smaller items, like a vase or toss pillow.

Velvety vibrants

We always see jewel tones in design, but this season we’re seeing heavily textured pieces with vibrant gemstone coloration. Think fuchsia velvet ottomans and multitoned boucle fabric on accent chairs – even a rich emerald-green tufted couch.

These intense hues can be a lot to take on, so start small with a throw blanket or chair to start.

This is a great color choice for any palette, and it ties into that jewel-tone trend we mentioned earlier.

Continuing the jewel-tone trend, deep teal is a shade you’ll be seeing more of. Sherwin Williams’ Oceanside, its 2018 color of the year, is a perfect representation of this hot hue. Mix metals with this color choice, and watch them sparkle. Consider painting a single statement credenza this enticing shade, and make it pop with hammered brass hardware. Or, paint your entire living room this rich color, and mix in shades of green and fuchsia. If subtle’s more your style, tone it down with cream or charcoal.

Blushing twilight

The high-contrast sophisticated combination of navy blue and a soft blush pink is easy to pull off and surprisingly timeless.

This soft pale-pink rug, paired with the artwork’s rich navy accents, pulls the look together, while mixed metals and cream accents finish off the aesthetic.

Marvelous marbling

One of the most prominent trends from the market was the use of marbling. We found chairs, pillows and art sporting this noteworthy pattern.

Artist Jill Seale handcrafted the art for this gallery wall – paired with a rich organic olive and soft gray blues – and it was quite a showstopper.

The trend was so popular at the market that they offered classes on how to create the striking effect. Try it yourself, and build your own art collection.


Whether you’re just refreshing your home for the season or planning a full decor makeover, let these styles from the fall 2017 High Point Market inspire you.

Photos courtesy of Kerrie Kelly.


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