One of my passions is home decorating and renovation. I love to express myself through creating environments to suit practical and aesthetic desires. Many of you have visited my homes and experienced how I transformed four walls to into spaces that represent my family’s personality and needs. I have taken a house down to the studs and basically rebuilt it to the last final detail. When guests enter my home I am more interested in them feeling comfortable than impressed. With that in mind I tackle many home design challenges that cater to multiple functions for my family and beloved circle of friends.
My experience with decorating goes way back to a time when it was DYI or nothing at all. I would like to share a funny story with you from the DIY days of a struggling single mom who had a taste for elegance but a limited budget. One Saturday morning I purchased wallpaper for my living room from the local DIY store. At that time I lived in the London borough of Highbury & Islington, which is also where I grew up. I had moved away for a time; however, I returned as a young adult with a very adorable baby girl named Zara. With wallpaper in hand, I marched home determined to hang it myself and save some money.
While was on the ladder trying to get the lines to match, my attention wandered and I found myself tumbling off the ladder and landed flat on my back on the floor. For my first time wallpapering, I was not off to a good start. In fact, I was alone in the house as Zara was off at kindergarden and not able to take instructions to call the ambulance. While I lay on the floor I convinced myself I was alive, though in a great deal of pain. I decided not to try and get up right away, instead I laid there hoping the pain would go away. I was torn between laughing or crying, but refrained from either since I felt pain all over my body. My hope was that nothing was broken but my pride. Luckily, the impact of the fall was cushioned by the extra plush new carpet and padding from B&Q, which I paid a premuim for just a week earlier. I wanted that extra plush feel on my feet so I used a bedroom style carpeting in the living room despite advice to the contrary by my friends. I did it my way, as I always do, trusting my taste, and in this case it may have saved my life! After 25 minutes, I was back on the ladder again, with caution, but getting the job done.
This story took place in 1990, when I was a first time home owner feeling lucky to have acquired a council flat. It was a bit run down; however, for me it was a dream come true. Having little to work with helped me become creative and ingenious, learn to make something from nothing, gain confidence in my ability to create lovely spaces, and perhaps most important I learned to dream big and find a way to bring my vision to reality.
This flat had a lot of light and potential. I created a plan for the makeover, which relied heavily on DIY (do-it-yourself), which for my budget was the only way to go. The wallpapering turned out to be a success and I learned many things as a result about working with walls, understanding the different types of effects on wallpaper, and the importance of being precise. I took those lessons with me as I went on to own and decorate mansions and castles. Not bad for a girl from Highbury & Islington!
Though my circumstances have changed for the better, I still do a bit of DYI and while not motivated by cost savings, it gives me a chance to have a hand in creating the “it” factor in the moment as well as sharpen my skills and knowledge. I continue to use wallpaper in a variety of ways; however, I will never forget my first attempt at hanging paper those many years ago.
Work In Progress: My Latest Renovation Project
My current project is a 1920s Italian Style Villa. This will be fun as I have a fixed budget with no flexibility to fail, so to complete this project I need to be very disciplined and innovative to keep it on par with the expectations and deadlines. I was quite flattered when I was asked to manage a project of this scale and importance; however, I suppose my years of experience and a track record of producing high quality, spectacular results. make me the perfect choice of this challenge.
An important factor in renovating property is having a component team of professionals with the required expertise. My team consists of people I have successfully worked with on prior projects and includes a great architect, Trond from Norway, an engineer for the structural calculations, and my other BFFs Mario & Luigi (brothers) who are brilliant at cutting and measuring marble stone for the most intricate and complicated spaces. This team has a hardcore work ethic, not the typical 7am -3pm workers with millions of tea breaks in between. This crew works until the job gets done and if that means a 13 hour day, so be it.
This project will be exciting as its my first time working in another country where the laws and working conditions are different. Though I have my team lined up and ready to go, I need to open myself up to a whole new culture, mentality and style. Without this awareness, a project can easily spiral downward quickly if one does not carefully consider this factor.
The drop dead deadline for completion is the end of February 2017. Our task is to deliver a magnificent turnkey property ready to rent for a range of special guests. Join me on this renovation journey, which will include frequent updates via the blog, illustrated with lots of pictures, and even some video perhaps to chronicle the transformation.
I welcome your feedback so feel free to write and share your thoughts as we get up and running. If you see me start to climb a ladder to hang wallpaper, say a prayer or two that I manage better than my first attempt!