Rustic Re-do


Recently, I received a referral from a friend, to work on a cabin up in Spooner Wisconsin.   What a thrill it was to have a job, up here North.  Like going back in time, Wisconsin offers beautiful summer breezes, and sunshine-y days.  Even the storms are a treat as they light up the sky.  And the stars at night?……Shiny and bright!

The client wanted to keep things pretty much the same, in terms of the rustic feel. It was suggested NOT TO pretty it up too much.  This in itself was a challenge that I wanted to take on.  A new set of rules now applied.

The cabin itself is quite rustic.  All logs on the outside, and beautiful pine walls on the inside.  Right on the lake and wow, what a view!

With every project, there are always a few hiccups along the way. One big challenge? No running water,  I brought in lots of bottled water each day.  Let’s say that flexibility, and resourcefulness came in handy. So did the lake, for buckets of water to flush the toilet.  By the third week, I was just grateful for electricity.    And then came the plumber, and then the water, and then my happy dance!




The owners agreed to flip for new carpeting in the three bedrooms.  This was great news, as the existing carpeting was old and damp. There was no padding left after years of kids playing, wet towels and swimsuits, and just enjoying the summer dream!


I brought on my husband Mark to work with me on the start of this project.  Ripping out the carpeting was no easy task.  You can see that the rubber padding had turned to dust, literally.  So we had to scrape, and wet it down, and scrape some more.  We love the porch so much better, with just the terra cotta colored floor. It seemed to make it breezy and much lighter.

I removed all the window treatments in the cabin, took them home, washed them, then hung them out to dry. This was the start of my project.  My inspiration, hanging there one sunny afternoon blowing in the breeze. I happened to love the window treatments. Some were made of vintage barkcloth.  No doubt they were there 30 years ago.  So I wanted to keep those the same.  Some were tattered, but I was able to re-purpose here and there.






The bed was a low platform, and the futon mattress was a bit sad and tired.  Years of fond memories meant that the bed had to stay.  Anything else, fair game.  So down came the shelf, and out came the dresser.The bottom two drawers did not open more than halfway.


My husband made solid pine bed risers to raise the platform. Varnished to match the bed, they were pretty seamless.

                           MASTER BEDROOM – AFTER

Above, the master bedroom with the new carpeting, and the shelf moved over to the side of the bed.  It can hold a cell phone, a good book, and a radio. This is a  luxury, for the lucky one that get’s to sleep against the wall. There is only one outlet in each bedroom, so creative extension cords were in high demand. The vintage radio picks up the Milwakee sports, which was a thrill for the owners (coming North from Milwakee).


The client wanted to keep the flannel duvet cover, as it was an old time favorite for them. I loved it too. Crisp white bedding was added to all 3 bedrooms. Now that the bed was raised up five inches, storage bins were added to slide under the bed.  The guests can house extra clothes, bedding and whatever needs to be stowed. There were existing hooks for sweatshirts and PJ’s. The new space…efficient and cozy.

Next up………the kids rooms.




These are the bunk beds. As you can see, you walk in to the room, and get into bed.  There wasn’t room for much else. There was a shelving unit and a dresser in there but you couldn’t really get around it very easily.Storing clothes in there was not really convenient.


I am sure that when these beds were installed, the kids were beyond thrilled and had years of great fun making memories.  There are a few memories, still inscribed on the ceilings in both rooms.  Priceless.

It took 3 hours, an electric saw, and some serious manpower to take the bunk beds apart. Then the carpeting came out, and I began to imagine two sweet rooms for guests and the kids (now, the youngest of 4, is 15 years old.)

Kids Rooms – AFTER


It was decided to add two twin bed frames in one of the rooms.  I found them at Wal-Mart and they were perfect for this tiny room.  A headboard was out of the question. The good news though? There was ample storage space under the frame, to put two roll out tubs for anything you need.  Even room to slide a suitcase under.  Perfect!

The cowboy pillows were re-invents from the original curtains, which were a bit tattered around the edges. Reversed with vintage pillow cases from a favorite thrift store.

Below is a picture of Nan, my friend and now employee, making the curtains for the bedrooms and living room. I made the cowboy pillows, and few others around the cabin. Nan fell so in love with the Horse Print, that she purchased one for her husband’s man cave.







One of the things that made all the difference, in opening up these 7’8″ square bedrooms, was changing the doors to open out instead of in. You can actually fit a bit more as a result and it doesn’t feel as closed in as before.


The client still wanted one room with bunk beds, and asked if we could fit a double on the bottom and twin on top.  As you can see, there is still room for a shelving unit and a bedside table or two.  Hooks on the wall add more places to put wet towels and swimsuits.

We built and painted these square cabinets, one sunny afternoon. It adds an open concept, which is really optimum here.  Behind one unit is a Baseball poster that was found behind an old dresser. It gave the wall a pop of color.






The best place for storage was on the walls.  It was space that needed to be utilized.  Some canvas baskets or wire could be added to keep things sorted and neat. Simple neat folding is a cleaner, less cluttered look.

Living Room – BEFORE


Living Room – AFTERS

20150702_103200Sun Porch – BEFORE





Sun Porch – AFTER


Added a Mexican blanket with colors galore, and made two denim pillowcases for a cozy feel on the porch.  An afternoon nap comes to mind right here.


New upholstery for both the living room couch, and sun-porch chair really added a nice splash of color to the gorgeous sunny room.  Two long linen tablecloths fits perfectly as floor to ceiling drapes on both sides of the room, for a bit of shade in the afternoon.

Outdoor Patio – BEFORE20150601_120552

Outdoor Patio – AFTER20150702_124644

Other areas such as bathroom, living room vanity, and mud room were also given a fresh update.

I loved doing this project.  It was so rewarding, just changing the simplest little things. Having an on call seamstress and housekeeper was also a real bonus. Mark was as always, a huge help to me.  He is the best at jumping in and totally gets it.

Enjoy the rest of your summer! And send me your latest before, and after pictures of your current or past projects so I can post here on my blog.

Remember………Stop and hold on to a special moment in time, everyday!

An organized spot in your kitchen……..


blog (2)

Every summer that I spend here in Chetek, Wisconsin, I can’t help feeling my father’s presence. He was a lover of the North…….the colder the better.  And while traveling through the Great Lakes, I am sure he hit Superior quite often.  Brrrr!

My dad was a crafty guy, especially when it came to wood.  My husband Mark is very much a mirror image of him.

One of the last things that my Dad made, before cancer took him way before his time, was a rack to put in his Florida kitchen.  I always admired it when we visited.  A few years ago, my sister Pam ran across the inspiration for his rack, among his things.  She knows that I am the sentimental one, and quickly popped it in the mail to me.  The photo listed above, is dated 7/8/91. He died that September.

When my husband and I retired, we decided that fifty years was long enough to hang on to a galley kitchen. My Grandparents built the house in 1961. It was time for some updates.   So we blew out the walls, and opened it up to the living room.  Sadly, the rack did not make it in the new layout, but I knew I could transport it to Wisconsin for our summer home.

The plan is simple enough if you have a drill, some screws and nails, and some wood. You could probably use old pallets for that barn board look.  But my Dad loved Varnish!  So Honey is the color it will always be.

Every time I use a knife, or a kitchen tool, I think of my Father.  And when I look out the window, I am certain he is down on the water lying in the hammock he made, more than forty years ago. I still have it.   That was when he was in to Macrame!

Memories! 20150604_122107

To make your own knife rack………just follow the directions below.  If you run across any problems……….well…..Give Mark a call.  He’ll know what to do.

blog 1 (2)


“Unique” shopping….in the “Village”

Heading from Florida to Wisconsin for me, is so much fun,….mainly because there is always a stop in Chicago.  Chicago is my home away from home.  Where it all began.  I love having family and friends there, because now it has become a “nice place to visit”……but, well you know how the rest of the cliché goes. Florida and Wisconsin are my new normal.

20150525_123928 While there, I got my share of thrifting.  First up, with my sisters Pam, and Ginger at the Calumet City, IL. “Unique Thrift” store.   I was on the hunt for small furniture pieces. That was a bust.  I believe we left empty-handed. We said our goodbyes to Ginger, then Pam ran into Big Lots for an awesome 9′ Market Umbrella.  $40. Priceless.

Pam and I continued on to Hammond Indiana, for more digging at “The Village Discount Outlet”  Three for a dollar, on yellow and green tickets!  We found clothes for the guys,  and I scored a hat (that I snagged out of Pam’s cart) with turtles on it.  So chic!  Thirty three cents.

Next morning, Memorial Day, I’ve made plans to head to the North side, to see my niece Samantha’s new apartment. Wow! I was so impressed.  A sweet little studio, with an abundance of bright sunlight, and personality. Tons of storage, and the absolute best location of all. Just off LSD near Fullerton. Time to fill in the gaps. Let’s shop!

We started at none other than, the “Village Discount Outlet” on North Clark street.  It was really hard to stay focused, as we navigated to the very back area of the store where the furniture was.  There were people everywhere, and they were all on the hunt for the deal of the day.  We managed to get through it unharmed. Phew!

Next stop, you guessed it!….”Unique Thrift” store, this time on the North side of Chicago.    It was Monday, and Memorial Day. The store does 50% off every Monday. BONUS!    We picked up another bag of great textiles and pillows.  We popped into Bed Bath and Beyond, and TJMaxx.   Sam scored a few things like a soap dish and mail holder, that says it all!   Keeps stuff in order, and off the kitchen counter.


Samantha wanted to add a few furniture pieces, and change things up a bit.

This is phase one, of two trips that will complete it with some art pieces, and a few personal touches. For our first attempt, we made a nice dent.


We decided to place the TV in the window, but we needed something behind it, to make it look nice, while adding privacy. I had a vision of a sheer fabric, that would let light and fresh air in from the windows.



We added a sheer panel from a curtain.  It needed to be cut, and sewn, and Sam was quick to pull out her sewing machine. We even used the new counter top ironing board. Priceless! 20150527_181225


20150525_170327 20150525_095247



Sam wanted new bedding. The quilt she had,was not bright enough. We decided on a modern print with yellow, gray, and dark brown.



The duvet shown here is a designer item. It was four dollars!  Sam already had the turquoise and black pillow cases, and we splurged on the “Home Sweet Home”, down pillow at TJ Maxx.

20150527_183113 The cover fit over the existing quilt on her bed, gave her a modern update, and was thick enough to cover the pattern underneath. We moved the extra bar stool away from the kitchen area, to use as a bedside table.  We found a perfect flat square plate, to make it a usable surface.  When company comes, just lift the plate, and you have your seating back.


Below, take a look at the zig zag headboard Sam dug out of the dumpster, right there in her apartment building.  We were actually talking about getting something to cover for her to lean on when watching TV…..and here was the exact size of her bed.  Coincidence? Loot






On my next visit, Phase II, we are going to finish the headboard by adding a bit more padding and a pop of color. I want to find Sam an awesome vintage mirror for above the bed.  Also shown are the down pillows, the multi purpose table, the triptych that Sam spotted, a counter top ironing board, and a bag of textiles!


Sam spotted a perfect little wooden table/ottoman/stool to store under the air conditioner. We added a soft down striped pillow to use as a stool, or when Sam wants to hang out in her vintage swivel chair, a great place to put her feet up.  Dinner in front of the TV?  No problem, now it’s a table. Multi-purpose!  20150527_181225   20150525_170412 20150527_181329                 Samantha wanted some new pillows for the couch, which also serves as a guest bed. Maybe some new bedding, and a coffee table. I was up for the challenge, and it was ideal to have a shopping list of only what we absolutely needed.




We decided on dark reds, and gold tones mixed with shades of gray, and turquoise.  We managed to find four, goose down filled pillows for five dollars!   Sam hung the artwork above the couch, and I love the way it looks! 20150525_170405

The art was a score, professionally framed in California, in mint condition, and signed!  Great little arrangement, to bring all the colors together.

20150527_182700 20150527_180922Time for a late lunch. Sam had never been to Ann Sather, so we headed over there.  Of course we had to indulge in the cinnamon rolls too.  Got a six-pack to take home. Yummy!

Stay tuned for phase II of  “Unique shopping in the Village.”  Coming in late July!20150525_133917

See you a Round!


Recently, my Chicago bud Michelle, and her mom Kay came to spend the night with me in Englewood, Florida.   We had two full days of shopping and hunting for hidden gems at several of my favorite stomping grounds.   First stop……FUNKY THRIFTY!

As you can see, the girls left with a few items….Michelle fit most of them in to her suitcase but I think you can guess which item didn’t make the trip.

If you look closely in the background, you can see a small cylinder metal thing-y.  Yup, I spotted it immediately, as I had been looking for a glass coffee table to use in my very tiny living room.   We always eat while watching tv, so I needed something functional, but small.  This was an item that I had seen at a mid-century modern antique store, but it was definitely not in my “retired girl” budget.

“How much?”…..I asked the shop owner, who was sitting out on an old patio set (for sale of course), eating lunch with a friend.    “Five bucks!” he replied.  Hmmm, a little beat up, but I knew I could restore it to a beautiful table.  SOLD!

Here is a closer look……….






Now…………two things were going to happen……..

1- Mark was going to flip out on me, and tell me I was crazy, and that no way was that hunk of junk going in to the living room.



He jumped on it!  Before I knew it, he had the paint stripped off, and the piece was back in its original glory…..solid brass!   But, I don’t much love brass items………too 70’s, and not in a good way.

I headed to Lemon Bay glass company and ordered 3 new pieces of thick tempered glass. There were only 2 pieces with the $5 table and they were chipped.  $84.  So now my table is in for $89.  If I play this right and get Mark to pick up the glass for me, I will still only be in for $5.  That’s what I will do!

Time to add a good coat of Primer.  If I have learned one thing in my years of re-purposing, it is to PRIME-PRIME-PRIME!  Nice to have a carpenter on premise (that would be Mark) for creating props.

20150207_133230Now……….what color should it be?  We wanted a dark bronze but our floors are dark wood so that seemed too harsh.  I have always been a fan of copper but it looked too orange.  Mark found a hammered copper finish paint that was perfect.

20150214_134537This is just perfect for our colors in the house.

And the finished table is exactly what I was looking for.

20150214_135440 20150214_135444             HAPPY VALENTINES DAY TO ME!


A little goes a long way!

Over the summer, I had a skin reaction that made my face puffy and blotchy.  I am pretty sure that I over-exfoliated while showering.  Ouch!

I went to my favorite Skin Guru, Will, at Bloomingdale’s.  He immediately took one look and walked me over to his friend Cynthia, at the Sisley counter.  She quickly assessed that my face needed Hydration…….and NOW!  She applied a soothing application, sent me home with a few samples, and assured me I would love the product.

She was right,…..I woke up the next day and my blotches were fading fast!

The slight inconvenience?  $210 for a 2.1oz tube.  I went back and purchased the product.










As careful as I was not to use too much, 3 months later my product was leaving me, drop by drop.

Sniff, sniff!

I had heard from my friends at Rodan and Fields*, a skincare line that is also amazing, and one that I happen to be an Executive Consultant for…………that when you get to the bottom of a tube of your beloved product……take a scissors and snip the end as you will surely see more product in the lining of the tube.








That was an understatement!  I quickly got to work, and luckily had my little travel tubs that I put my Redefine regimen in.  Keep those fine lines and wrinkles away! *

Let’s see if I can fill up this container……










Well……..that was easy…..with more to spare!








I used a teaspoon to get the product out, filled up the tub, and still had product in the tube. So I packed the tube in a zip lock, and for the next 5 days, used a Q-tip to scoop up a morning application!

How far will I take this?

During the depression, my Grandmother used to make Q-Tips with cotton and a toothpick.

Even worse?  She used to add water to everything, including shampoo.  I will never forget when I got my first bottle of Herbal Essence shampoo back in the 70’s.

So luxurious, so thick and decadent………..

……….but not for long!

Here comes Nonnie! She decided to show me how to save…..sort of like what I did with my Sisley product?     Not so much…..she added water to it,  every time I finished showering.

It took a week or so for me to realize, something was not the same about my magic potion.

Anyhoo……….before you throw away those tubes of shampoo, skin care, or even prescriptions and ointments….snip the end and get a little more for your money.



Below is the Redefine Regimen!

Take a look at my website –  – for all of the amazing products Rodan and Fields has to offer you. And the prices?  A bit less than $210!

Rodan and Fields

Home sweet home……my sanctuary

For the past twelve years, we have been making changes to our cabin. When we purchased it in 2001……well, it was rustic to say the least.

The good news?  It was on the water where the sun set every night. Sold!

101_5776 (2)

What’s not to love about that?  Priceless.

So we began the task of planning one big project each year.

Mismatched kitchen appliances, no lighting whatsoever. The floors were several different types of linoleum with asbestos under them!  At some point, someone installed laminate in the kitchen…..only, they put the it right over carpeting, and it was lumpy and uneven.   The water smelled funky and was yellow, so taking a bath?  Oh, that’s right, there was no bath, just a shower.

Hey, Culligan Man!!!!!!

The downstairs area was like a dungeon.  It was basically an underground garage to store the boat.  But, for the past thirteen years, we did not have a boat.

This past summer, the big project was to separate the open bedroom from the living space.  We always used curtains when there was company.  How about a door? But that would mean closing the room, and adding walls. NOPE!

I wanted something rustic… my husband ordered some barn door hardware, and while I was in Chicago working with a client for a week…….he got to work on my sanctuary.

This was our bedroom before privacy.  Adjacent to the couch on the wall directly across.  The entire cabin is only about 900 feet.  It worked for the past twelve years.


When I came home……..this is what was waiting for me.






After I climbed in bed and closed the doors, I thought…..this is so warm and cozy.  I wonder if I could put a TV in here to watch reruns of SNAPPED, and Dateline?         Just when Mark thought he finished…..another project!!!!    But now, my perfect private sanctuary.    This was exactly what I wanted right?  But wait, there’s more!   I needed to paint it? Varnish it? Distress it?

One thing I knew for sure was that we did not need more varnished wood in our log cabin.  Color, that’s it!

I went on Hometalk (a new site that I love), and solicited some feedback…I wanted to paint it the color of my red couch to balance things out. Only one person liked that idea.  Why not?  I could always change it if we didn’t love it!

And on the inside?  I wanted to paint it a light, but bright gray.  How about Platinum?



Ahhhh!……peace, quiet, a place to read or watch anything but sports……..Love it!

Now for the outside, the color that would be prominent in the main room.

After much to do about nothing……I pulled the trigger!





That’s it for my bedroom makeover………love it!   Finally finished just a few weeks ago.

Then, in this months issue of Coastal Living?  Imagine my surprise and delight when I flipped it open to this photo……..Validation……it’s a good thing!

red door



Rain….rain, go away…..

Trying to look in Fashion, when it is raining cats and dogs is a true art. If you can pull it off, then you have a gift.

I love this slicker skirt in tomato red. I imagine this girl has a section in her closet labeled……“When it rains.”  So stylish!

rainy 10

I love rainy days. Ready with my arsenal of supplies, while others are standing under the awning or waiting in a shop for the rain to subside.

I like to march right out there ready to splash through it.

rainy 12

Taylor has it down……looking adorable in all black.

rainy 16

It’s not that hard ya’ know?!  Just google the weather while you have your morning coffee. Rain?  No problem, grab your big tote, your favorite umbrella, your classic raincoat, slip on your favorite rain boots……how about a rain hat? No wait!…that might be too much!

canvas tote143285

khaki trench

rainy 15

Now, throw on your jeans and favorite cozy t-shirt and off you go!

Did I mention this rainy day was on a Sunday?  So if all else fails…….you can go back to bed, and skip the whole idea of looking fashionable.  Your choice, brave the rain?

rainy 11

………or make a cup of tea and put on your favorite tunes!?


Which girl are you?

What’s in your suitcase?

We are getting ready to go on a trip up to Saratoga and Niagara Falls in Canada, in the next few weeks.








I decided to venture out of the cabin, and do a little shopping over the holiday weekend. There are always huge sales this time of year.

First and last stop, The Gap of all places, where I was able to check everything off my list.

When packing, I always start with my layers.  A jacket that will go over anything is a must for travel.  And a basic black cardigan.

Check, check, and check!

classic linen

white denim jacketcrewneck





Next up…. the bottom half….pair of shorts, a pair of jeans, and some khakis should do it.

boyfriend shorts

midrise straight skinnieskhakies




Now for the tops……

basicsleeveless henleypleated sleeveless shirtwhite shirtcute layering tank topboyfriend linen shirt









Shoes……..always adds weight to your suitcase.  I suggest wearing your running shoes while traveling.  Why not wear leggings, and a long tunic/sweatshirt?  This way you will have what you need for morning walks, or lounging around the lobby, while being ultra comfortable on the plane.

gym shoesleggingsworkout tunic





Then pack a maximum of 3 pairs that will work with everything.


slip on sneakerscolorblock thong sandal






Don’t forget an easy lightweight dress that can be layered for a variety of looks.  I like the tulip dress.  So classic and simple.

tulip dress


Accessories for the finishing touch.  Most important, Gap’s big and roomy tote! canvas tote

d ring beltfedorabandana chambray scarf Assuming you have the basics like sleepwear and undies, you are good to go on the clothing front.  The best part is that everything works together for enless combinations!

Optional items?

Rain slicker                              Shark slippers                        Cotton robe

rain jacketshark slippers

cotton robe






The best part?  Everything fits in my carry on suitcase, and oversize tote bag!

I am ready to travel!


Home sweet home – Episode 3 – Need more counter space?

About ten years ago, Mark added a counter to our very small kitchen here at the cabin. What I loved about it was the space for his All Clad, and Le Creuset pots.  They were bulky and heavy.

I love our kitchen here (let’s call it cabin sweet), but it does not have all the comforts of easy glide, soft close drawers, Lazy Susan cabinet, or a built-in spice drawer.

So here it is………not bad, and it served a purpose for awhile.  But that garbage can!! Those cords hanging from the coffee pot.  Too much stuff and not enough counter space.


Mark had an idea to make the counter larger.  We shopped around for wood, corian granite, cement, etc.  Expensive!  All we needed was a big flat prep space for Mark to cook.  Any of you that know Mark, know that guy loves to cook!

After spending hours, and thousands potentially, I hopped on Craigslist.  Mark soon joined the party, and we found an awesome table that we snagged for $375.  Mark could just cut it to size, and use it exactly the way we wanted.

So now, we have a much bigger work surface and it is awesome!

Here is the finished surface, with a nice big shelf underneath for all the pots and pans!


A place for everything, and everything in it’s place!  Love the way it blends in with the rest of the kitchen.

Mark hated the stainless, free-standing garbage.  And the step for the lid was broken so that made it even worse, and messy.  He got online and ordered hardware for a custom slide out garbage. He built a box (his answer to all wood projects), added the garbage, and it works like a dream!  Look out Kraftmaid!











Next project, a blackboard/planner for the side of the fridge. It’s getting a bit cluttered over there, don’t you think?  Not very organized for an organizer!   Stay tuned!


Should be a great July 4th bash this year.  Be safe, be happy!



Easy breezy, 10 steps to an organized closet

OK… now that I am semi retired…..I read magazines like REDBOOK, Women’s Day, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health….I don’t even know when the transition was made, but suddenly I began receiving these magazines at my door.  Such is life.

I buy old decorating magazines at the Thrift Store now.  Some are just a few months old, but once in a while I will get an Architectural Digest, or Traditional Home from 3 years ago, and  I realize how timeless some decorating can be.

So I was reading a Coastal Living from February of this year (a quarter from the thrift store) and there it was……….in a nutshell, pretty much exactly what I do when I clean a closet for a client.  But it is written so perfectly, that anyone can follow this and in no time, be done!

I suggest making an event out of this, so there were a few tips missing.  Like…….have a bottle of Champagne and some good music…….invite your very best friend (who also wouldn’t be able to fit in the clothes you are discarding).

And most important?  Have fun!

hang 10