Limewashed Brick

limewashed brick

     I have been wanting to paint my brick house pretty much since the day we bought it over 10 years ago.  Husband is against this idea and thinks it turns a no-maintenance house into a higher-maintenance house.  I don’t disagree, but when did I ever opt for a low maintenance anything?  The other problem with painting my brick is the climate here at the beach.  Warm and muggy and lots of harsh salt air.  So mold can be a problem on a painted brick house because the brick no longer breathes.  There is a gorgeous new house in my neighborhood that was built in what looked like Old Chicago brick (Gah! I would not paint over that!) and they painted it white.  And now a year later, I see mold all over the house.  So I have been investigating limewash – I love the look of the limewash because some of the brick still shows through.  I’m waiting to hear back from a company I have read some reviews on that boasts their limewash doesn’t get moldy and wears and ages with time to look even more beautiful than Day 1 of painting – I think Husband will like that!  If I’m going to do this, I will of course do it myself (any volunteers?!?!) so I need to get busy before it gets too hot!


limewashed brick 5

limewashed brick 4

limewashed brick 3

limewashed brick 2

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My Kitchen & Olympic Obsession


     I am always obsessed with the Olympics and this year is no exception.  I’ve had a few laughs with all the #sochiproblems from yellow tap water to strange toilets.   How does that segue into my kitchen?  Well, it doesn’t so just go with it!  I’ve written a lot in the past about my kitchen dreams like here and here.  Remember I created a two-tone kitchen here.  Well, painting your kitchen cabinets is NOT fun.  But it must be sort of like childbirth because I’ve pushed that memory far enough into the back of my mind that I’m ready to paint the lowers and the island.  I’m going to paint the lowers the same Sherwin Williams Dover White and then I’m going to paint the island Benjamin Moore Crystal Blue.  I recently had my kitchen dining table painted Benjamin Moore Majestic Blue and the chair are Crystal Blue.  Wish me luck!  I also ordered a beaded chandelier from World Market to go above the island.  I’m going to Scotts in Atlanta in March and hope to find some bar stools as well.

world market beaded chandelier

This is the chandelier I ordered from World Market  – only available online here.

Benjamin Moore Crystal  Blue 2051-70The island and kitchen dining chairs – Benjamin Moore Crystal Blue 2051-70.

Benjamin Moore Majestic Blue 2051-40My kitchen dining table – Benjamin Moore Majestic Blue 2051-40.

Here is a “before” of my earlier “after” of the kitchen taken in October – it should take me about 2 weeks to finish Phase 2!


And moving right along to the Sochi Olympics…

   I love the Dufour-Lapointe sisters from Canada – as a mother, I can’t imagine having all 3 of my kids competing in the SAME Olympics!  Justine and Chloe both medaled (gold and silver) – sadly the third sister came in 12th.

dufour-lapointe sisters



     Have you watched ice skating?  The 15 year old from Russia, Julia Lipnitskaia, is unreal.  If you didn’t watch it, find it on YouTube…her spins are epic.

julia lipnitskaia

julia lipnitskaia 2

 Gracie Gold from the US – lives up to her name…looks like Grace Kelly and is beyond graceful…and the perfect last name for an Olympian…

gracie gold

gracie gold 3

gracie gold 2


Check out this free Olympic printable here!

olympic printable

   In Valentines Day news, I made some delicious cookies I saw on Pinterest – they turned out so cute and are melt in your mouth good… I am actually making a 2nd batch today.  I found some cute red heart plates at Target and am passing them out to a few friends and teachers!  Click here for the recipe.

valentines cookies


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Before & After – a Beach Condo on 30-A

     Now this is what I call a top to bottom, fabulous renovation!  This condo, located in Seagrove Beach on Highway 30-A, was not much to write home about when it was on the market.  The new owners were lucky enough to purchase this condo well below the appraised value and did a beautiful, thoughtful renovation in my personal favorite style – coastal.  The home is now on an exclusive rental program and available for beach vacation rentals – a big plus is this management company launders the sheets AND comforters for each guest!  It is 4 bedrooms and is just steps to the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. 

Enjoy the before and after photos with sources and details at the end!

Before & After Beach Condo Reno

before living room 2












Before After Kitchen to LR

before kitchen

Notice they removed that awkward pantry!



These bar stools – gah!!!



before dining





Before After Master Bedroom


DSC_0553Before After Master BathDSC_0557

 Before After Front bedroom

DSC_0550before After bunk bedroom


Before After Beach bedroom











 before exterior

 Sources & Info:

Floors – the main living areas are a ceramic tile that looks like wood – $5/sqft; travertine in bathrooms and new carpet in bedrooms.  (Total Cost – $15,000)

Paint – All colors Sherwin Williams – main living areas “Softer Tan”, blue rooms “Sea Salt” and Master Bathroom “Comfort Gray”  (Total cost to paint the entire condo $12,000)

paint colors

Scott Antique Market -( omgeee I get to go to Scotts for the first time in March and I’m beyond excited..I need to sell 12 houses and rent a U-Haul before I go!) The kitchen barstools (I covet these), coral art in Master Bathroom and the driftwood bowl centerpiece on the dining table.

Ballards and Ballards Outlet – all rugs and the guest bedroom burlap bedskirt, curtain panels and linen headboard ($250)

Lighting – all lights purchased at Lowes except the dining chandelier is from United Lighting in Destin  ($380)

Kitchen – the cabinets are from Discount Cabinets in Panama City – best price after 4 quotes  (Total cost $19,000 for cabinets, granite, appliances and sink)

Living Room – furniture and artwork from Sugar Beach Interiors in Destin; fireplace mantle was custom made and distressed Cypress

Hallway Artwork – painted by the owner’s sister, an artist

Media – 5 televisions installed, dvd players and router ($7,000)

Resin Artwork – Sharon Kator of Glass-Eyed Seahorse

Other – most of the other accessories, linens, lamps, hallway art were purchased at Home Goods, Kirklands and Steinmart

Furniture – $25,000

Condo – we sold this condo (as a short sale) for only $436,000! 

TOTAL renovation cost – $100,000!

Want to escape winter and rent this stunner?  Click here!

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Happy New Year!



How to Create Your Own Two-Toned Kitchen



     Phase I of the kitchen update is complete.  Whew, it was a lot more work than I anticipated!  Since my dream kitchen is still in the early planning stages, I decided to take on the project of creating my own two-toned kitchen to lighten up the space.  I’ve been making changes in my house room by room, slowly but surely lightening things up…what a difference!  When we moved in this house 10 years ago, I was drawn to dark colors and woods and now I want everything to be in shades of white.

   After painting all the walls in my house Benjamin Moore Indian White, I tackled the kitchen.  I had quotes to have the doors sprayed by a professional, but it was too expensive considering this is hopefully going to be torn out in the next year.  So DIY it was!  I did a lot of research on how to do the best cabinet paint job, especially considering I was changing dark cabinets to white.  I started with a great primer call Stix from Benjamin Moore.  All of my doors and trim are painted Sherwin Williams Dover White, but I wanted to use Benjamin Moore’s “Advance” paint which my research showed to be the best paint for cabinets.  In all, my supplies were the Advance paint, Stix primer, Floetrol, a sanding block,  a “best” small paint roller, a small paint brush and a package of Solo cups which I used to hold the cabinets above the ground so I could paint the sides.  I allowed a lot of drying time in between coats, and in all I used 1 coat of primer and FOUR coats of paint.  I was not counting on 5 coats of paint and hence the small project turned large.  And mid-project I came down with a flu-like illness that kept me down for 2 weeks.  So we lived for a few weeks like this:


Here is what I started with:




I started with the backs – that way if any dents occurred after they were “flipped”, they would be on the least visible side.  I numbered the cabinets with sticky notes and I removed all the hardware…tedious but necessary. I also sanded the cabinets front and back and cleaned off the dusty residue.  With the Stix primer, they say you don’t have to sand, but I didn’t want to take any chances.


I let the primer dry for 24 hours before I started with the paint.  Because my cabinets are not a flat shaker front, I had to be very careful to watch for drips and pooling paint in the corners.  I used the end of the roller to try to get the inset part of the cabinets as smooth as the doors.


On top of the kitchen changes, I have ordered some new furniture for my family room.  On my dining table you will see the items I have slowly been selling on Craig’s List.



I also had to sand, prime and paint the cabinet sides and trim.  Once it was all done, there was a lot of caulking to be done where the ceiling meets the trim – you really notice any imperfections with the white cabinets.



And now the “after” photos…





And for the side-by-side comparison…

Kichen Collage - before and after

I told you in my last two-toned kitchen post that I’m not a huge fan of this trend.  And I’m still not.  I’m so busy this month, but I plan to paint the lower cabinets (not the island) in November.  Call me crazy!

Here is the round-up of the supplies I used…

I did a light job of sanding the fronts and backs.  My cabinets have a shiny, glazed finish so I felt this was important, even with the primer.

sanding block

  I propped the cabinets on Solo cups and primed and painted the backs

I used a roller from the home improvement store labeled “Best” for cabinets:

small roller

This Stix primer was recommended by the guy at the paint store.  You can paint almost any surface with this primer, even glass or tile.  It makes shiny surfaces like my cabinets paintable and promises no sanding. 
I loved it and it will be my go-to primer for any future projects, especially for painting furniture.

stix primer

I used Advance paint by Benjamin Moore, but I mixed a Sherwin Williams color in a semi-gloss finish.

Benjamin Moore Advance Paint

Even though the point of the Advance paint is it doesn’t show brush marks, I added some Floetrol anyway.  I will always add this to my paint for anything but walls from now on.  Loved it!


FloetrolThis is my paint color – Sherwin Williams Dover White.  Be sure to check it out in person – it is much whiter in real life.  I call it the perfect creamy white.

sherwin williams dover white

Well folks, that about wraps about the story of how I painted my kitchen cabinets, which then led to wanting to paint more kitchen cabinets.  I might be certifiable for doing this when I know I am going to tear it out soon anyway, but in the end I’m glad I did it. I much prefer the lighter feeling of the kitchen…as much as I dread having to paint more cabinets!


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House Stalking – a Beach Condo Before & After

after - balcony view   

     I sold a condo to a lovely couple earlier this year – they bought it right before spring break rental season so they didn’t start any renovations until the break between that and the busy summer rental season.  The building is called Pelican Beach – one of my top picks in Destin when customers are looking for great rental income.  You might remember the first condo I showed on my House Hunters episode was at Pelican Beach!  This condo had average interiors – good enough to rent, but the owners have really taken it to an all new level and I’m sure their rental bookings reflect that.  Here is what the owner said about her renovating adventures:

     “We still have a few things we want to do like stainless appliances and new occasional tables. The most important thing to have in a vacation rental is a comfortable bed. The mattresses are worth the investment. The floors were also worth the investment. We went with porcelain tile called Roma Beige that has a travertine look without the cost. For the small bath vanities my husband went to some of the granite places looking for remnants left over from other jobs and found some great pieces. He also added a backsplash in the kitchen glass and stone backsplash in the kitchen that was not very much. This just keeps the unit looking undated and new.

     In all of our condos, I like to use cotton quilts on the beds instead of big heavy comforters because they can be thrown in the washer often. These are from Steinmart and were $29 each. I like to layer them and add fun pillows. The bar stools and tiny white tables(less than $100) in the guest bedroom are from Pier 1 and the tall skinny lamps are Old time Pottery for $25. The dining room table and chairs are very unique and the tropical colors just jumped out at me at Gordon’s of Mandeville. The whole set was under $900.  You should have seen my minivan packed to the gills on every trip.

     Best bargain: The light fixture was a challenge. I returned 2 that were too big and was trying to keep the cost down. When I explained to the electrician that we may have to postpone until I found one, he starting sending me pictures of fixtures he had removed on jobs that people no longer wanted. I saw one I loved but knew in the store it was $400 and didn’t want to spend that. Turns out it was missing a screw cover and the metal rod so it hung from an ugly black cord. For $60 I was willing to take a chance. I grabbed a $2 fabric scrap at Walmart and some peel and stick Velcro and my daughters roommate made a fabric cord cover. We were able to salvage a screw cover from the old fixture and paint it to match.

     Repurpose: She also faux painted an old mirror that was left behind with $3 of acrylic paint. It works until I can spend some time there to find the right art work.

     Small World: I couldn’t find the right sized rug for the dining area anywhere and just as I was going to give up, and you recommended Rug Décor. So off I go to find it and they had the perfect size and soft seagrass that I wanted. The owners and I started talking and it turns out they were from New Orleans also and moved to their condo in Destin permanently after Katrina. As the conversation went on we realized that they were the couple who had bought our aunt’s magnificent house and were still living in it when Katrina destroyed it!

     Doing a remodel is quite a challenge when you don’t live nearby but we got it done in about 4 weeks thanks to my husband running back and forth and staying on top of the installers.”

  Enjoy the photos from this fabulous, beachy renovation!  The “Before” photos are from the original MLS listing and the “After” photos are taken by yours truly.  I also wanted to mention the entire condo was painted Benjamin Moore Feather Down and the trim is the same color in a semi-gloss finish.  I fell in love with this color and have added it to my personal favorite paint color list.  It is a dark white with brown undertones – not yellow or pink like many whites can be!


First up is the living room.  Gone is the extremely strange carpet/tile combo and the floral curtains.  The couches were in good condition so those were saved.  The new owners put tile throughout the entire condo – a great choice at the beach with lots of wet and sandy feet!

before - living room


after - living room

after - living room from balcony

after - living room fixed

 Next up, the dining area – this is the light fixture she was able to get for a song from the electrician – always ask your contractors what they have in inventory.  They usually have lots of faucets and light fixtures they’ve replaced for others!

dining area - before vertical


after dining room to kitchen

after - dining light

after - dining area fixed 

Moving along to the kitchen.  They added the stone/glass backsplash which really added an upscale touch for not a lot of money!  The dark rugs in this condo did it no favors – think light, bright and beachy when furnishing your beach condo – its what renters want.  They want something different from what they left behind at home!

kitchen - before

after - kitchen

The Master Suite opens to the balcony and has great beach views – gone is the dingy, dark brown carpet, funky lamps and art work…

before - master

after - master suite

before - master tv view

after master suite other view

The guest bedroom is dramatically improved…

guest bedroom - before

after - guest bedroom

The bathrooms both received new granite counter tops…  (Note to all – hire a Realtor who knows what white balance means!!!)

before - bathroom

after - guest bathroom

The balcony has new furniture including those reclining chairs that everyone loves…

before - balcony

after - balcony

I love this vintage looking chalkboard by the front door – it has a big piece of chalk resting at the top, just waiting for guests to write their messages…

after - chalkboard entry

The paint color is a must on your favorites list – Feather Down by Benjamin Moore…

benjamin moore feather down

     When furnishing your investment property, just like this condo at the beach, you can make it fabulous on a budget.  Think about what would be important to you if you were renting your own condo.  For me, I want a good mattress – not a cheap, hard one.  Invest in a good quality mattress and advertise that fact!  Paint can really transform a space – pick a light neutral color and jazz up the space with your accessories and art.  If you are replacing flooring, choose tile and tile the entire condo – you will find carpet will need to be replaced often as sand and wet feet are hard on it.  Plus, I think tile just feels more clean than carpet – I’m one of those people never takes my shoes off in a hotel room!  Take time on the details – stock your kitchen with nice flatware and dishes and stock up on extra cooking and baking equipment.  We rented a house in Orlando one year with a few other families and there was nary a cookie sheet or cake pan, ghastly dishes, cheap flatware and cloudy glasses – needless to say, we did not rent that house again!  Lastly – think of the kids.  Leave a pack-n-play and/or high chair in the guest closet.  Have a gaming system like an Xbox and consider a small library of books – that way everyone is entertained if there is bad weather.  Leave personal touches like a family photo and a guest book – it reminds your guests that this is not a hotel room and hopefully they will treat it accordingly!

If you want to rent this fab beach condo next time you are in Destin, click here!

Click here to see another fabulous before and after condo or here to see a beautiful beach house in Crystal Beach!


Coastal Colors


     I’ve mentioned the home I’ve been working on briefly in the past – a renovation to make a home handicap accessible.  Last week I had to choose all the paint colors, kitchen granite and bathroom granite from remnants.  Talk about stressful – what if I made a choice he didn’t like?  What if it looked terrible on the walls?  The only direction he gave me was “coastal colors”.  I did get a little help from a “real” decorator, but in the end its my tush on the line!  On Friday, the painters started.  I was out of town and got a freak-out phone call that the ceilings were painted tan and the rooms were the wrong color and everything looked dark.

     I should know better than to freak out – when paint is going over white primer, it will look dark at first.  And colors look shocking in a room with no furniture.  And change itself is always shocking – we were used to looking at the white primed drywall.  I went over on Saturday and was so relieved.  It looked absolutely fantastic.  I’m in love, love, love with the colors.

     First up is our main color throughout the house – Manchester Tan (all colors are Benjamin Moore).  This is a lovely neutral and is quite light.  It blends nicely with the wood cabinetry. 

    Next is the Master Suite – painted my all time favorite, Palladian Blue:

          And then a punch of fun in the office and laundry area that adjoin the kitchen.  You can see these rooms from all the main living areas, so I left it Manchester Tan, but then added a 50% blend of Palladian Blue to the ceilings.  In the South, we love our blue ceilings and in these rooms, it looks fantastic!  You can easily mix your paint colors at different percentages to get the exact color you are looking for.  By mixing it at 50%, the ceiling wasn’t too dark, yet it still blends and makes sense with the color story of the rest of the house. (Be careful mixing your tans…)

     The kids room is painted a lovely pale, cool blue called “In Your Eyes” – it will look fantastic with the yellow/gray/blue chevron bedding I picked out.   A boy and a girl will be sharing this room so it is not too feminine, not too masculine.  The guest bathroom is this color and the adjoining guest suite is painted Machester Tan, with In Your Eyes in the bathroom.


     Lastly, the trim and doors are White Dove.  In a “happy acccident”, the ceilings were also painted this color and they look fantastic.  Not that bright ceiling white you usually see.  I had actually selected “Dover White”, my all-time favorite white trim color by Sherwin Williams, but that got lost in translation.  Oh well, this color is equally neutral and a good white – not too yellow, blue or gray.

   The painter gave me an excellent painting tip .  He said if you use a cheap paint, you will always see the difference in the line you cut in at the ceiling and around the trim.  If you use a high quality paint, you will not see that line.  So true.  I always, always use a paint with a built-in primer.  It makes painting so much easier, no lines show and the quality is evident.

   For the kitchen I chose Colonial Gold granite – it was the lightest of the choices in the price range.  Actually this was one level higher in price, but they had received 4 extra slabs and said they’d discount it – lucky us!   I wish quartz had been in the price range, but I think this will look great with the wood cabinetry.  For the bathrooms I lucked out with creamy white quartz remnants.  This project is on a tight budget and thanks to donations and discounts from local businesses, we are able to have some high end finishes.

      Everyone keeps asking me when “my” House Hunters episode is going to air – I still don’t know!  Last I heard it was being reviewed by executives and then it will get placed on the schedule – stay tuned.  However, there is another Destin episode airing tomorrow night – January 22 at 9pm – be sure to watch it or set your DVR and check it out.  The buyer is actually the owner of a local Aveda salon who moved from a house just down the street from me, and they filmed last July – I know it will be a really good episode!


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