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!


That’s a Wrap – House Hunters

     I finished my last and final day of shooting for House Hunters!  Hooray its o.v.e.r!!!   This picture says it all – this camera was right in my face while I was driving along Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach.  Along with the Producer and the sound guy in the backseat.  Somehow they make it look natural on the show – pay attention next time you watch.  They show the Realtor in her car talking about her clients.  But in the moment it felt really weird – like I was the Realtor who forgot her lithium that day and is driving around talking to herself or maybe one of her split personalities about my clients!  LOL, can you say awkward?

     The last day was the best – because it felt more natural and I was getting used it.  But I still felt like the minute the camera was on me, I turned into a different person.  And not in a good way.  When the camera turned off, I was my usual cracking jokes/sarcastic self but when it was on I was a deer in the headlights.  I do not think HGTV will be calling with a deal for a show…sorry, Mom!

     There were a few things I thought you might find interesting – some behind the scenes kind of stuff.  Before we can begin shooting in any of the condos, they have to take down all the artwork.  I guess they don’t have the licensing agreement to be able to show it on tv.  So if you see bare walls, now you know why!  They also go around with black tape and cover up all the brands of the tvs and appliances.  So where the tv might say “Samsung”, it is covered up with black tape.  Pay attention to the next episode and see if you catch that!  The sound guy is not a fan of jewelry – it makes noise in your mic.  So we went round and round with me promising I’d be more quiet with my necklace or bracelets and in the end I had to let my double wrap necklace hang practically to my waist and he had to stick a big piece of tape behind my bracelets to try to quiet them down.  I was excited when I read my itinerary that stated craft services would be available.  I felt like an official movie star – but really it was whatever the Producer picked up at Target the night before…cheese sticks and Gatorade!

     Here are a few more Instagram pictures from the last day – maybe, just maybe, I will let you know the air date.  I will be locked in my closet and I’m pretty sure I will refuse to watch it.  I mean really – can anyone stand the sound of their own voice? 


Tomorrow I will be posting the Christmas Miracle Project gift list!!



Time flies when you’re  having fun!  Let me be as short and sweet as possible to get you caught up on everything:

1.  Halloween – its really a bummer when its on a school night – the kids think the next day should be a  no-school sort of holiday.  We had fun anyway – a little pre-party at our house with chili, cornbread and lots of treats.  Then off on our gaggle of golf carts to trick-or-treat.  Son was, as usual, a football player.  Today he announced he is not going to be a dentist/orthodontist when he grows up because he is going to play football until he’s 80!  I like a man with a plan.  No photos of him – because, he’s him and doesn’t care to stop to be photographed.  Daughter was a witch that collided with Lada Gaga.

Remember Chuckie from last year?  Well that house was even scarier than ever.  They had monsters and even a clown jumping out of the bushes and “Chuckie” had a dead body with guts that she was throwing on people.  I can’t make this stuff up!  The kids love it and hate it all at the same time.

2.  Son’s Birthday – We had a fun outdoor party and had a flag football game with kicking and throwing contests.  I got all the kids team shirts with their names and numbers on the back and a team logo on the front.

3.  Football – the season is now over.  I’m kind of like the kids with the dead body and guts about football – I love it and hate it all at the same time.  Its harder than hard to watch your baby boy get tackled.

4.  House Hunters – I have been shooting an Emerald Coast episode of HGTV’s House Hunters!  My clients had submitted to be on the show long before they even met me.  I was wary about doing it – I’m not a big “do things in front of others” kind of person – I’m the anti-Leo.  I convinced myself I could do it and that the Realtor doesn’t have that big of a role anyway.  It was fun – the crew was so nice and interesting.  I loved hearing about their travels and the other shows they have worked on –  like our cameraman did a 3 year stint on “Cops” and told us stories about running around alleys and railroad tracks chasing after criminals!  I shot 2 consecutive almost 12 hours days and have one more day this weekend of shooting.  The buyers have to shoot 5 days!  All this for a 30 minute show.   It was very unnatural to have a camera in your face and a sound pack in your back – I know I did not act like myself and am worried about what I will look like on tv.  I felt a little bit like a bobble head, nodding my head in agreement too often during the buyers commentary.  So if you catch the episode in 2013, go easy on me – its much harder than you think!  Here are a few iPhone photos of the experience:

 This is me doing the “confessional” – this was the hardest part for me!  How does everyone else make it look so easy?  I was bright red like a tomato and probably talking about 100 mph which is what I do when I’m nervous.  I begged them for white balance…

This is me with the buyers and the crew after our 2nd long day of shooting.

We were shooting right as Hurricane Sandy was hitting the East Coast which brought a freakishly unseasonable cold front – yep, it was 46 degrees with a 39 degree wind chill and I was in summer clothes determined that it would not look cold in our episode!

 During breaks I put yoga pants under my dress and bundled up in a North Face.  For real I went to lunch dressed like this! 

     Please check back tomorrow – I am putting together a humbling and heart breaking post about the family I would like ALL of us to help and bless this year for Christmas.  



Coastal Living Dream House in Rosemary Beach, FL


     I’ve been dying all summer to check out the new Coastal Living magazine Dream House in Rosemary Beach, FL – a quaint little beach town along famed Highway 30-A in my neck of the woods.  I waited until after Labor Day, hoping for a less crowed tour of this beauty!  So, last Friday I went “house stalking” with a few friends and a client who was in town for the week.  I took a ton of photos – but it was hard to get photos of the entire room without people in my way – it was a busy day for tours!  I’ll have to break this down in a few posts – today I’ll start with the outdoor living spaces.  And just because I love you so much – I will also share all of the paint colors.  For me, the highlights of this home were the paint colors and the cabinetry.  Trust me, you’ll agree.


 I love me a white house – love, love, love.  I’m sort of addicted to white lately.  The trim color was the real standout here – it is Pratt & Lambert Steel Wool (33-14) and the front door was soft minty green – Pratt & Lambert Coos Bay (19-31).  The front door was huge and had an oversized  Christmas ornament door knob.  Super cool and unique.  Anything white in the house – from walls to trim, was all painted Pratt & Lambert Seed Pearl (27-32).

Here’s a close-up of the front door.  The source for the door knob, which is ten times this size in real life, was not divulged….darn…

And here is the pool – isn’t she pretty?  I love the spouts coming from the wall.  This whole pool/courtyard/loggia is to.die.for.  Some lucky family bought this house pre-construction and reportedly paid around $2.7M for it.  For their 2nd home – see what I mean about lucky? 

The pool furniture is by Barlow Tyrie and covered in Sunbrella fabric.   

For real – teak chairs in the pool.  Any questions? 

We loved this oval opening.  So much so that this friend wanted her picture by it – yep, that’s how we goofballs roll.  Maybe it will be enough to covince her husband to buy a house in Rosemary?  Pavers are Dublin Domino in Oak Run by Belgard Hardscapes.

So are you ready to move in yet?  I’d just be a squatter in the back yard and I’d be happy.  This summer kitchen and dining space rocks. 

 The grill (with rotisserie), fridge and ice-maker are from Lynx.  Never heard of Lynx – will have to Google that shortly.  The outdoor cabinetry was gorgeous and had wonderful pull-out drawers.  The counter is called “Fossil”.

The beautiful ceiling – lights are French Quarter 24″ By Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights.  The “steel wool” door leads to the garage.

 I think/know the outdoor shower is nicer than my shower.  For real – a rain head and spray jets for the pool/beach shower.  I’d die.  Its all by Kohler and it even had some computerized menu to go along with it.

     Well, I hope you enjoyed the exterior views of the Coastal Living Dream House!  Later this week I will post the interior of the home – equally incredible.  The interiors were done by Erika at Urban Grace – I’ve followed her blog for a long time and I’m sure you will enjoy it too – her most recent post is about the project and the grand opening party.

Click here to subscribe to my blog and never miss a post!

Happy Monday!




The Beach House is Finished!

     Pardon the Olympic sized pun, but this was no “Bolt” across the finish line.  But nonetheless, the Beach House is finished and a darling family of 4 has moved in!  I had lofty ideas of taking magazine style photographs for this page of the blog, and an unveiling party for our friends and family to show off the house once it was complete.  But in my non-Martha world, none of those things happened.  Instead, we returned from vacation just a few days before the family moved in.  I battled horrendous traffic on a rainy day to arrive at the house on the eve of the move and snapped the photos.  It was a rush at the end  to have the house ready – the blinds were installed just days earlier, insulation was blown in through the attic, additional electrical outlets were installed to accomodate a 2012 family with  computers,  tvs  and  all that necessary stuff, and the home was professionally cleaned.  Now that the home is complete, we need to build up the coffers and look for the next project.  Or, perhaps work on some projects in my own home that I have been dreaming of!

Living Room – Before & After

     We removed that awkward fireplace, and added beachy wood paneling throughout the living room, new baseboards and crown molding, recessed lighting, concrete floors, new front door, window blinds and of course a fresh coat of paint (Benjamin Moore Mascarpone).  This room is so large and accomodates any kind of furniture arrangement.

Kitchen – Before & After


     The kitchen is my favorite room in the house – I wish this kitchen were in my own house!  The cabinets are painted wood and have the upgraded soft close feature.  Again, I wish my own cabinets had that!  The counter tops were another splurge – they are Cambria “Whitney”.  Cambria quartz costs about double the price of granite.  The appliances are all Frigidaire Gallery and the stainless steel farmhouse sink was a steal from Overstock at under $400.  The clear glass lights are from Home Depot.  The pantry is super spacious with nice pull out drawers.  The kitchen was extended by removing a window that looked through to the sunroom.  The wood paneling was also extended throughout the kitchen and serves as the backplash and really adds a lot of beachy charm.

     I don’t even have any great “Before” pics of the kitchen because it was so.Scary.Larry.  The cabinetry was red and each cabinet was a different shape.  A friend did take a few of the cabinets and painted them to hang in her kids’ playroom…I’m sure they turned out cute.  I’m also sure she removed the naked people cabinet hardware, but she has yet to confirm.  I tried to find a home for everything we removed from the house so it didn’t end up in a landfill somewhere.  In the end I think we only filled 2 small dumpsters, which, considering the amount of demolition is pretty darn good.

Sunroom – Before & After


     The Sunroom saw a lot of change as well.  All new windows and a french door leads to the newly landscaped back yard with a brick paver landing and patio.  We removed the french doors to the bedroom and removed the sort of cool (but extremely rusty and severly painted over) vintage window to the living room – I think this room was enclosed at some point and that was an original exterior window.  This room also has concrete floors, fresh paint, new baseboards and molding, new lighting and a new front door.  This room also has a large closet that we revitalized.  Oddly enough, this is the “true” front door of the house because this is the street of the home’s address.  This is where we added a new gravel driveway and sidewalk leading to this door if you remember from my earlier exterior photos.

Master Bedroom – Before & After

     The Master Bedroom is another of my favorite rooms.  You might remember it was accidentally painted Benjamin Moore Pallian Blue and it is so pretty and peaceful.  In addition it got a new french door that leads to a covered brick paver patio, a new wall for better furniture placement,  new blinds, new ceiling fan and light plus 2 revitalized closets and a fresh new bathroom.

     Check back later this week for photos of the rest of the house!  I want to leave you with one last photo – a birthday surprise.  One of my dear friends loved the post I did way back when about the Greek church that sits very near the Beach House.  She didn’t know it existed and drove over to see it with her mom and 11 year old daughter.  Her mom loved the church as much as I do!  So my friend surreptitiously had her daughter paint my photo at her art class and then gave me (and her mom) the framed painting!  She is a talented little artist for sure and it warmed my heart more than words can say that she painted this for me – sniff, sniff, this is my most treasured birthday gift!





House Stalking – The Inspiration House is For Sale!

     Remember the house I “real estate stalked” and used their paint colors as inspiration for our beach house?  This house, from the outside, is my favorite in our neighborhood, Frangista Beach.  It is a second home and has never been used as a rental.  Must be nice, eh?  Last week I saw a For Sale sign go up and was excited to see the interior photos.  I am not going to lie – it was a little bit disappointing.  For $1.85M, I would expect better furnishings – like something out of that movie “Something’s Gotta Give” – my favorite movie beach house!  But I can tell the home has a good floor plan plus 4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths…and a killer view!  Here are some photos from MLS:

 Wouldn’t something like this, from “Somethings Gotta Give” look better?  I loved that movie – and Diane Keaton was as cool as the beach house because she wore some shade of white in the entire movie!

Happy Friday!