Whistle While You Work…Quarantine Cleaning Fun

Hey Friends! How you holding up??? It’s a weird time for us all, I know. One day, last week, after my 3rd nap in the same day, I thought to myself “I should really take advantage of this extra time and blog.” So I sat down, opened up wordpress, and…… nothing. Turns out a side effect of having quarantine related work withdrawal is major writer’s block. (No joke, those last 5 sentences took me 4 hours to write.) Sooo, rather than allow the ole blog to continue to sit stale, I asked my good friend, Sarah Henry, if she would mind stepping in for a few weeks to share her writing talents with the Storybook readers. And guess what?!?! Not only did she agree, she had an idea for a full series before we even got off the phone. She thought it would be fun if I shared some of my cleaning games with you!….. (I’ll pause this paragraph in order to allow time for your excitement to catch up)……..

My cleaning games are one of those things in my life that I don’t realize are “different” or “abnormal” from the normal population until I see my friends’ reactions when I casually mention one in everyday conversation. I mean, how do the rest of you get thru the drudgery of cleaning your homes week after week after week for your whole entire adult life FOREVER and EVER?? If you didn’t have a good answer for that question, you’re in luck! As long as this quarantine doesn’t last longer than 32 weeks, I have enough games to share to last your entire sequestering!

Here is how I’m thinking this will work: each week Colby and I will shoot a video demonstrating a new cleaning game, then I’ll send the video over to Sarah who will use her gift of words to write up a blog to coordinate with the game. Then (if you so choose) you can brighten our days by leaving a comment or picture on this blog (or any of our social pages) letting us know if you tried the game. What do you think??? Will you play along??? Sarah, you ready for this?!?!?!

I am! Quick question…Do you whistle while you work or give a little whistle and have someone else clean for you? Whatever your preferred method to get the chores done, one thing is for sure, our fairy godmothers are sheltering in (a far off) place and we are left to gaze lovingly into the faces of the beautiful but messy people and pets we share our homes with…indefinitely.

Completely confused but also curious? Keep reading…

If you’re like most of the modern world, you’re accustomed to a tight, busy, if not completely filled but fulfilling schedule. Sometimes working from home but mostly, on location. If you have precious cherubs at home, they are most likely at childcare or school during the day and your evenings are filled with practices and various commitments. Then, a global pandemic invades the kingdom, giving you a bad case of whiplash. Said pandemic brings all things involving groups and gatherings to a screeching halt and forces us to hunker down in our homes. It’s fine for a few days but then, you notice that the space you’re all sharing is dirty…really dirty. Significantly increased time at home is making you hyper aware of everything. All the people. All the clutter. All the towels and clothes in the floor. The shoes at the back door. Dishes in the sink. Pet hair everywhere because Spring. It is endless. You make a bold but feeble attempt to wave the Xbox controller like a magic wand to clean up the place but alas, it doesn’t quite work that way for you. You resist the urge to play a solo game of Just Dance to avoid the inevitable. Instead, you hide the controllers and you call your people to you. They come running. Ha…another bold but ineffective attempt. You scream louder like the house is on fire and they trickle in slowly. They’re now staring at you like you’ve lost your mind (because indeed, you have)…so now what?

Still curious?

I’m glad you asked. Allow me to open a different kind of storybook for you, Storybook Homes fans. I have observed firsthand how our favorite designer, the fabulous Niki Thompson, crafts the most creative games for herself when she’s cleaning her own gorgeously renovated home. I will reveal to you a few secrets from our fave and hopefully, to coax all the people under our roof to pitch in with the housework. Share the load with a smile (fingers crossed, it could happen?). Over the next few weeks, or until we are able to leave our cozy homes, join me for a series of time-tested and perfected cleaning games appropriate for ALL ages. These games are sure to make a dreaded task fun and challenging under the craziest of circumstances. Believe me, some days, a roll of the dice or the flip of a card with the promise of a reward is the only motivation to get the job done. The game possibilities are endless and it has taken Niki years to develop, test and refine the games featured in this series*. However, I asked her to choose only the best of the best to film and roll out for you good people (Because honestly, she has enough material to last months beyond this quarantine.). We are kicking off this series with a Thompson classic …C-L-E-A-N Bingo. Print out the card, label each square with a task, choose your rewards and let’s get to work!

*This Storybook Homes series is filmed, produced and edited by Colby’s Productions.

Sponsored by “comfy socks”, stretchy pants and the cozy sweatshirt/t-shirt combo.


141 Oliver

141 Oliver is the second new construction home to join our Storybook collection. With it’s completion, I can confidently tell you that while renovations will always have my heart, there is something to be said for new construction. I mean, after the initial holding of my breath while waiting to see if what I drew on paper actually framed up to look like a house in real life, there were essentially NO surprises. It was soooo easy! The house practically built itself. Aaaaand I did not cry one time…like not even a sniffle! HOWEVER…. as enticing as a drama free construction site sounds, I desperately missed the story inspiration only an old home can give. You’d think the control freak in me would love the blank slate that new construction provides- essentially allowing me to take the design story any direction my imagination desires to go; but I have found, without the history of a past home and it’s previous owner’s design choices to study, I have a hard time committing and truly connecting to a story. It made me realize just how valuable demo time is to my creative process. While I usually have a general story theme nailed down before the first wack of the sledgehammer occurs, it is during the long weeks of digging thru the guts of a home that the details come out and the story comes alive in my head.

So, while 141 Oliver was still navigated by a story, the details never quite made it past the theme/outline phase of the process. Basically the story stayed 1 dimensional just answering the necessary questions to help create a cohesive design. Crazy thing is, despite the ho hum story-line the house still came out with its own unique character and I found myself, once again, saying “I think this might be one of my favorites.” Who knows, maybe this means I’m maturing into a real designer/contractor and will one day be able to wean myself off a story altogether …. Nah! What’s the fun in that!!!

Even though I don’t have a typical storybook tale to tell, I would like to share with you the fictional facts I told myself about 141 Oliver so you can see how they played out in real life. And as a consolation prize for not getting a real story…. this post is going to reveal all the final product pictures!!! (Let’s be real…. that’s what you really want anyway.)

First off, I started with this information: 1) the lot was skinnier than a typical old town Conway lot and 2) the house would be residing in the historic overlay district of our city. With this information alone it did not take long for me to fall in love with the idea of building a shot-gun replica popular in historic cities like Charleston and New Orleans. Honestly, I tried to convince myself it was modeled off of a Charleston style shotgun since I had already completed a New Orleans inspired project the year before… but I had so many people drive by and tell me that it reminded them of New Orleans I gave up and admitted I had landed back in the French Quarter.

To make the home feel “historic” I added architectural details to the house that would have been reminiscent of an early 1900 shotgun like the curvy corbels on the front porch (huge thank you to Erik Menzie and his team for making that dream come true), the functioning custom Shutters (Jimmy Bishop) and the trim detail around the windows and doors (Marty Tabor exterior, Chris Bise interior).

With the classic shotgun elements in place, I looked to the fictitious homeowner to help determine the individual flavor of the house. Because the lot size dictated a smaller size home (around 1200 sq foot to be exact) I decided to design with a single gal in mind. I pictured her as a free spirit, artsy type which meant the home would have a young, funky, modern vibe with a vibrant personality.

To me one of the best examples of how this played out was in the color scheme. On the outside I chose a serene light green for the siding that would sit nicely next to her neighbor, Cindedwella. But then tried to go with the unexpected for the shutter and door color. Normally I like to play it safe by choosing complimentary paints found on the same color strip but for 141 Oliver I tried to think more like an artist and ended up with 3 different shades of green- 1 sagey, 1 blue green, and 1 hunter greenish and somehow it just worked! I then brought the door color inside and splashed it on the cabinets and eating nook.

I loved how this funky almost black green color functioned as a neutral. We pretty much ignored it when bringing in the staging and no matter what color we paired it with…. it just worked.

Speaking of Staging, I must take a second to once again thank Donna Benton of Waterhouse Market for bringing in all the furniture, art and accessories to help make this story come alive for the Open House.

Ya’ll, she decked this house in ONE DAY! While I tend to overthink every design choice I make she just seems to have a natural knack of knowing exactly how to decorate a space to feel both magazine worthy and livable. I am so beyond thankful she continues to agree to share her time and talents to make these storybook debuts so special.

One of the nicest comments I heard at the open house was that “while the house was small in size it lived big.” I think this was accomplished by giving the living spaces extra tall ceilings and eliminating wasted spaces. Plus Donna did a great job showing how furniture could be arranged to make the most out of a small space.

To bring in the artist funky style I went with a long neck wall sconce for the dining nook light instead of a more common chandelier or pendant.

Big thanks to Pevia Electric for going the extra mile to retrofit this wall sconce and the ones flanking the kitchen sink from plug-ins to hardwired fixtures. (Cabinets by the one and only Jeff Perry.)

I chose a freestanding table for the island instead of traditional cabinetry for a more eclectic feel- stereotypical of most artists. And let us not forget the library ladder…. ah the library ladder….

Big thanks to Brent Rhodes for fabricating the library rail and ladder.

Not sure how this exactly ties into the story other than my single lady probably wasn’t 7′ tall so she needed a way to reach the top cabinets in her 10′ tall kitchen and library ladders are just fun. Plus it knocked off “do library ladder” on my 40 year old bucket list. This has been a dream of mine since first watching Belle roll around the Beast’s library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Other ways I added a younger touch to this otherwise historic feeling home was in the tile work. I used basic over sized subway tile in the master and brought back the basic 80’s square tile in the guest bath but had David install them both in a more modern way.

And how fun is that pegged chair rail in the guest bath?!?! This little free spirit could hang all sorts of tchotchkies like Turkish towels, hanging plants, soap on a rope, etc.

The other two bedrooms were left empty during the open house so the pictures are kinda boring but I’m going to leave them here just as proof that this 1200 sq foot cutie was able to fit 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths. The only picture I neglected to get was the laundry room- but trust me it’s in there!

Well there you have it. More of a picture book than a novel this time but I hope you enjoyed the visit. I’ve got some exciting projects in store for the spring- I can’t wait to tell you all about them!

Big Thank You to Makenzie Evans for the Beautiful photos!

Cindedwella: Before and After…. and After

Well this is embarrassing….. Here I am just days away from putting a for sale sign in 141 Oliver’s yard and I just realized I never wrote up a before and after blog for her block mate- 143 Oliver- also known as Cindedwella.

Seriously! If anyone knows the importance of before and after pictures it’s me! I mean, the ONLY show I flip past on HGTV is House Hunters (unless it’s House Hunters Renovation) because who wants to watch someone just shop for a move-in ready house?!? No thank you. I’m only interested in the shows that show me the transformation- the before and afters. So in an effort to keep you entertained and thirsty for more, I’m going to pack this post FULL of before and after pictures. Aaaand if that was not exciting enough I am also going to share pictures of how Cindedwella looks today after her new family moved in and made her their very own.

The Henry family moved in just a couple of months ago, but I swear, you would think they had been there for years the way Sarah Henry has already made the place feel like home. You recognize that name?? Yes, that is Sarah Henry, formally of Redeemed Home Goods, and resident artist for Storybook Homes.

Isn’t she the cutest?!?! Anyways…. Sarah fell in love with 143 Oliver when she came over to get color inspiration for the custom rugs she painted for Cindedwella’s Open House.

After taking her on a quick tour of the house, I thought she was just being her normal sweet, encouraging, and complimentary self when she told me Cindedwella was her dream home and would be perfect for her family. It wasn’t until I saw this facebook post the very next day that I realized she was serious about possibly moving.

That “hypothetical” facebook post sparked a ton of interest (I mean, of course it did- look at that adorable front porch) and within a matter of weeks the ball was rolling to move the Henry Family from Davis Street to Oliver (because once you’ve lived in old town it’s hard to leave). At this time I want to turn the blog over to Sarah for just a second so she can say hi and then I’ll start the before and after and after tour. And since she is a special guest, I’m going to let her speak in a special blue font so you will recognize when she is talking vs me. Take it away Sarah!

Hey, there! My turn to insert a bit of our family story…I’ve always said that each season writes its own story and this one is definitely one for our book! This specific story begins with a tragedy on Davis but ends in triumph on Oliver. Quick recap: my beautiful backyard art studio burned down in December 2018 damaging the back of our home and leaving a gaping scar on our backyard. As you can imagine, it was a shock and not surprisingly, a discouraging setback. The long and difficult process of repairing the damage to our home and rebuilding the studio initiated some really big questions. Was our current home of 3+ years meeting our family’s changing needs? Can our home be remodeled to meet those needs…do we even want to attempt it? What would it look like to sell our home and move? Where would we move? Whew…so much there.

Because our kids attend our amazing local schools, we definitely didn’t want to move too far and change our current school zone. And because I (not necessarily the hubs) adore old homes, I began to casually glance at homes for sale in our neighborhood on Zillow over the summer. Just like the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, I began to “try on” these homes (virtually, of course!). Some were too big. Others were too small. Many were just a “no”. None were “just right” for our unique needs and season. Until…that fateful August morning when I walked through that perfect shade of blue door with its charming, reglazed glass and EXHALED.

Seriously, one big, glorious exhale. So much open space. High ceilings covered in bluebirds, mid-flight, greeted me. White walls combined with white floors commanded me to remove my shoes and stay awhile. The most gorgeous master bathroom invited me to sink into the massive clawfoot tub poised atop whimsical gray and white marble floors. I took it ALL in and knew this would be our next home. The kitchen with its refurbished antique, single basin sink with double drainboards took me back to my great-grandmother’s home in the mountains of North Carolina. A memory I’d forgotten until that day. The peaceful front porch with its custom built swing. The transoms and built-ins throughout and surrounding the clean, white fireplace. The CLOSETS. The custom penny tile in the hall bath. The tastefully updated, cheerful metal awning over the stove and the refinished….EVERYTHING. The space for old friends, new friends and family from far away. I’d wanted an elusive Storybook cottage since the summer of 2016 when we moved to Conway. And this Storybook cottage was indeed, “just right”.

That morning, I wandered around inside this story in the making as its Storyteller was visiting with a curious client…the crew was still painting, installing and working feverishly toward the reveal of the home that would become known to us as “Cindedwella”. I’d heard our favorite Storybook Curator tell of this massive project she was in the midst of completing but I had yet to visit 143 Oliver before I was tasked with creating art specific to its story. I began to imagine a NEW story, OUR story, within its walls. This cottage literally checked every imaginary box and promised a fresh, new chapter to the story our family was writing only 3 STREETS AWAY.

The next step was to convince the hubs…so I tentatively “listed” our house on, you guessed it…the Facebook. Out of that informal post, a sweet family who had previously owned Davis for many years immediately responded. Their story wasn’t finished there, and we celebrated their return to their beloved home as we packed and moved to our new one.

Fast forward to this day, as January comes to an end, past the hard parts of closing a final chapter in a home you lived a lot of life in and loved well. Past the packing up and moving all of your little life to a new home with the same main characters. This new “just right” place is the long-awaited exhale after you’ve held your breath for way too long. The next breath you draw is a deep one…the fresh air of expectancy inside a cozy, new space…indeed the start of a brand new chapter in a story where the plot changes, the characters evolve and a familiar setting gets an update. I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.

Sarah!!!….. Seriously?!?!?! ……. that was an awesome intro. I kinda hate to bring my voice back on here after that…. But I did promise these nice folks some pictures so let’s go ahead and get this tour rolling.

First up I want to remind you what the exterior of this home looked like when we first met Cindedwella.

Pretty rough huh. Not exactly a porch you want to hang out on. I remember worrying for the safety of the previous home owners because the front door would not shut- it was left permanently ajar.

But now she welcomes all with her new pretty pink door and the porch is so spacious and inviting it really serves as a second living space for the home. And check out that sliding screen door. Big thanks to my Dad for building the screen door, porch swing and table for the open house staging of this front porch.

…and after with the Henrys.
A cheery winter welcome to our home!

Before we head inside, I’ll show you the other side of the house that occupies this corner lot. Here was the before…

What you can’t really see in the picture above is that a large portion of that exterior wall was leaning away from the house and had to be aligned back up during the renovation. We also tore down the wonky metal carport, added a brick skirt around the house, put on a new roof and gutters, poured a new driveway, landscaped (I will never look at pine needles the same again), and of course gave the entire house a new coat of paint. Ohhhhh! And I personally reglazed every last one of those window panes- it took me the entire length of Where the Crawdads Sing and 1/2 of Before We Were Yours on audible to finish them.

And now

Let’s go inside, shall we. Through the front door we enter into the living room.

Here’s that wall on the left as she was staged for open house.

…and after with the Henrys.
(All “…and after” pics were shot in the afternoon with my iPhone XR and are unedited.)
The family loves to be cozy. Our style is warm and personal, collected, rustic, eclectic and functional. A blanket ladder holds our favorites. A darker wood and of course, a few plants, welcome guests and also grounded this space with a warmer palette.
And side note: we ALL love our cheerful pink door!

Even though the fireplace was not functioning, I always love when a house gifts an architectural focal point. We ended up rebuilding the side cabinets but you’ll see in a minute that the actual fireplace cleaned up quite nicely.

At this time I would like to stop and take a minute to thank Donna Benton of Waterhouse Market for once again bringing her “A” game to the staging of this home. Donna is responsible for all the furniture and decor you see in all the (first) after pictures. She also was responsible for coordinating and inviting our special guest vendors to help make Cindedwella’s Open House extra Special- Sarah Henry with her art and custom rugs, art by Janetta Darley, fresh flowers by Southern Tradition Farms and custom candles by Sweet Home Candles. Gosh that was a fun day.

Here is another view from the living room all staged and ready for her open house.

…and after with the Henrys.
Here’s a shot of the “lived in” living room. As you can see the color palette, although much the same, has changed a bit to fit our family’s decor and style.

Before we go into the dining room let’s first go down that hall we see when we first walk in the front door. It leads to the bedrooms.

That hall also used to house the washer and dryer but we gave this home a proper laundry room and repurposed the space as a little office nook.

Prior to the renovation this home had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms down this hall.

We took out the tiny bathroom connected to the front bedroom and reconfigured the space into 3 bedrooms with 1 larger bathroom.

…and after with the Henrys.
One of the things that we love about this home is the extra bedroom.
Our families all live out of town and we have frequent guests as well.
This room allows for family and
guests to have their own space! Such a gift…

Take a second to look at that floor tile. I personally plucked out the blue tiles and replaced them with the white tiles to form those cute little whimsical flowers. Of course David get’s all the credit for actually laying the tile. Hey Sarah, can you get a better shot of that floor- I want these fine folks to really appreciate the symmetry and exact spacing of those little flowers.

…and after with the Henrys.
Look at that lovely tile!!

Ok, let’s go back to the dining Room. I failed to get a proper before picture of the dining room before demo started but here it is a couple days into demolition.

In every project I work on I like to incorporate several unexpected moments in the design that deviates from the safe obvious choice- in this home the blue wainscoting is one such example. I knew it was a little risky to stray from traditional white wainscoting (I mean after all this was a spec house) but as is often the case, this detail became one of my favorite features of the home and truly set the tone of the rest of the design and story.

Next we enter into the kitchen- always one of my favorite parts of a renovation.

Before the kitchen was closed off from the dining room and the rest of the house. During the renovation we opened up the floor plan and rearranged the kitchen layout for a more efficient work/entertainment flow.

That plate wall was probably my favorite feature Waterhouse Market brought to the staging,

…and after with the Henrys.
There are so many plants in our home! And the bright light in this kitchen invited ALL the plants! The plates were replaced by framed, colorful bird prints flanking the windows. The prints echo our home’s warmer color palette while including the trim and accent colors. Easily one of our favorite spaces…just look at that gorgeously restored sink!

Funny Story: I had an old metal awning saved in my shop for years just waiting for the perfect house to use as a vent hood. Well, last year, when Rory got on a kick to clear out my hoarding shop, I decided to finally let go of the awning and I sold it on facebook for $75. Fast forward 2 months later, I bought the perfect house for a vintage awning vent hood. After searching for weeks I finally found the one you see in these pictures at a local antique store for close to $200… sigh.

…and after with the Henrys.
A much loved and lived in area of our home. Our home has so much open space for friends and family. The light from the original windows is incredible!

On the other side of the kitchen is the side entry into the house. Before the renovation it hosted a pantry, 2 small rooms and a glassed in porch.

Now it serves as the cheeriest mud room in America.

Just try and have a bad day with those blue birds flying overhead.

…and after with the Henrys.
We are a very active family. Lots of coming and going. We needed a convenient, functional and accessible spot to keep the “things”… And of course the plants.
…and after with the Henrys.
Our little music nook in the mudroom.

This wing of the home, also houses a small office/bedroom….

…and after with the Henrys.
Afternoon light invites you to sit and read in this versatile space. Painting, reading, studying, napping, crafting…riding a bike trainer. This room offers extra space that we needed!

And one of the small rooms and previous porch were converted into the master suite.

…and after with the Henrys.
So much light spilling in! We love the stark white backdrop of our MBR. It feels clean and bright and is such a welcome retreat at the end of busy days.
…and after with the Henrys.
I joke and tell people that this is why we bought this house…but for real.

And there you have it! Oh my goodness that was fun. Don’t you love what the Henry family has done with the place?!?! It warms my heart to see Cindedwella so loved and cared for. Truly the perfect ending to this renovation story.

Cindedwella- the story of 143 Oliver.

once time

There is no more appropriate beginning to the story of 143 Oliver than this signature fairy-tale introduction.  For that is what has inspired this home- a classic fairy tale (Disney version, specifically). Even in its dilapidated state, there was something whimsical about the place. I can remember the first time I walked through the house (it was in the dining room to be exact) the song zippidy-do-dah started playing in my head and I could practically feel “Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder.”

(Ok, I admit, it might be hard to see it in this “before” picture, probably because we had already started demo, BUT TRUST ME the magic was there.)

From that moment on, I knew the story/design would be light-hearted and playful- but it was the circumstances of the renovation that ended up inspiring the details of the story.  You see, we purchased this property about a year ago, but because we were in the middle of renovating our Carl Stuart home and the Davis Street house we were very slow to start working on this one. Even when we finally did start demolition and construction the house continued to get neglected by only getting my leftover attention. Normally, I practically live at the reno site, but with this house on Oliver, I would give a subcontractor instructions and then abandon the job for sometimes weeks before checking back in on her. It was almost like the house was putting itself back together with no love, attention, or help from me- does that storyline remind you of anything?? Are you with me??? Can you see where I’m going here???

Yes!!! It’s totally a classic Cinderella Story! But this version is called… wait for it…. wait for it….. Cindedwella!!! Squeel!!! Did you see what I did there? Cinde-dwell-a- as in “dwelling” another word for house.


Oh my goodness, I’m probably a little too proud of myself for that one.

Annnnyways… once I was clear on the story I knew exactly the direction I wanted to take the design to give it the fairy tale ending it deserved. And with the house solidified as Cindedwella in my head, I no longer felt guilty about the lack of attention I was giving the house, I just told myself that while I was away she was getting plenty of help with the renovation from the neighborhood woodland creatures.  Which have you seen the enormous pine trees surrounding the house? Trust me, woodland creatures a plenty!

I even found myself lovingly referring to her as my stepchild…. until the day I realized that would make me the wicked stepmother…..

The challenge in designing a spec house around a Disney fairy-tale is to capture the whimsy of the story, but with a maturity that allows the average “grown-up” to envision themselves living in the home.  Basically, I didn’t want the finished product to look like a four-year-old princess party. I struggled to find this balance until inspiration struck with the simplest solution- I simply grew up the princess!

Instead of imagining the house for the young girl Walt Disney immortalized in his version of Cinderella in 1950, I pictured what she would be like now, almost 70 years later. I asked myself: What would she be like now? How would her life circumstances and experiences influence her house hunt? What would be her design style? How would she go about the renovation? Oh my goodness, I had the best time with this. In fact, over the last 6 months, if you saw me driving down the road, by myself, with a goofy smile on my face or laughing hysterically, I wasn’t talking on the phone or listening to the radio- I was telling myself stories about Cindedwella and her posse of middle age Princesses.

Now before you cast judgment on my active imagination, just remember around the same time that I was playing with aging Disney characters in my head many of you discovered the viral FB aging app and were purposely aging yourselves and posting your Senior Citizen Selfies on the internet for the world to see.  Which got me thinking…… what would happen if….

Wow! Time has been kind to Cinderella, I’d never guess she was almost 70! I’m thinking she might have had a little bibbidi bobbidi done over the years…if you know what I mean…I’m just saying.

Back to Cindedwella and the story of 143 Oliver…. Let’s dive in.

Sadly, the prince passed away last year and Cindedwella felt like the castle was just too big for one person- so she left it to her oldest son and his adorable family and decided to downsize. She fell in love with the house on Oliver because it reminded her of the simple life she had had with her father before he married her stepmother. She was not turned off by it’s broken down state because she herself was the product of an extreme makeover and she wasn’t afraid of a little hard work. Plus 143 Oliver checked off most of her wish list- a front porch for morning visits with the neighboring birds and squirrels, a dining room to host dinners with her friends, 4 bedrooms so when her children or stepsisters came to visit everyone would have their own room, and an extra room she could use for a craft/sewing room. Gus and Jaq (her best mice pals) had taught her to sew years ago but since living in the palace she had not had the need or opportunity to sew for herself and she was looking forward to getting back into the hobby.

Once she purchased the house she got right to work cleaning out the furniture, knick knacks, books, and other items the old homeowners had left behind.

The work was exhausting and reminded her of her days living with her stepmother and sisters.

Once she had the place cleaned out she called in the big guns to help with construction…

Now, I know what your thinking… “those dwarfs were old to begin with, how in the world are they still working 82 years later?” Well, it turns out that whistling while you work not only improves work morale it also has anti-aging health benefits. I’m telling ya those guys worked hard! They were on the job at the crack of dawn and often did not start their heigh-ho march home until well after dark. Overall, I was very impressed with their work. I just had to keep a close eye on Dopey, nudge Sleepy to work a little harder, and stay out of Grumpy’s way- which is pretty much the norm at all my construction sites.

Once the dwarfs had the framing (including the all new pier and beam foundation and new roof), new plumbing, electrical,  and HVAC systems roughed-in they turned the job back over to Cindedwella to take over the design and finish out. While Cindedwella had a ton of ideas pinned to her “new house” Pinterest board she quickly became overwhelmed with all the choices she had to make. She decided to invite a few of her closest friends over to the house for encouragement and to see if they had any advice or ideas to offer on the design. I happened to be checking in at the job site just as her friends were arriving so Cindedwella invited me to stay for tea as well. I was nervous to accept her invitation because of my phobia* but OH MY GOODNESS am I glad I decided to stay!

* SIDEBAR: One thing you should know about me- I have a fear of famous people. It’s true, If I see someone famous (even just a little famous) I freeze up, my legs become cemented in place, my tongue goes limp so no intelligible words are capable of escaping my mouth, and my eyes become locked on the said famous person while my eyelashes cease to blink. (hmmm now that I think about what that must look like, I’m thinking the ol’ platitude “They are more scared of you than you are of them” given for most animal phobias might apply here too.) I’m serious, I once spotted Paige Davis of “Trading Spaces” in a hotel lobby while I was riding up an escalator. I was so transfixed that I forgot I was on the escalator until the moving stairs and stationary landing collided and I found myself on the ground. Because I am aware of this phobia I try to avoid situations where I might encounter famous people. For example, when Rory and I made our pilgrimage to Waco to visit the great Magnolia Market I made Rory go inside and make sure Chip or Joanna were nowhere in sight before I stepped inside. end sidebar

Let me set the scene for you:

Time: Early Spring around 2 in the afternoon.

Place: 143 Oliver, Conway, Arkansas

Setting: The house has just been drywalled but otherwise is empty except for the table and chairs Cindedwella brought in for the occasion. She has lovingly set the table with beautiful china, fresh flowers, and place cards for all of her friends. It’s the tea party of every preschool girls imagination come to life.

Cast- are you ready for this…..

Snow White- Cindedwella’s BFF. It’s been 82 years since she had her Disney debut. Like Cindedwella she too is widowed. While still beautiful, the aging process has hit her a little harder. She has a slight stoop in her posture (probably from years of leaning over to visit with the dwarfs) and uses a walker. Her black hair is now a shiny silver and she needs hearing aids but refuses to wear them.

Alice (from Wonderland)- It has been 68 years since she fell down the rabbit hole. She moved from the UK to New York in the late 60s and attended the original Woodstock Music Festival. She has never married and currently hosts a weekly podcast on conspiracy theories. She is one of Cindedwellas most eccentric yet loyal friends.

Jasmine- Cindedwella first met Jasmin 27 years ago when she was inducted into the Disney Princess club. They bonded over the trials they both experienced marrying men from different socioeconomic classes. She helped Princess Jasmin better understand the challenges Alladdin might face going from street peasant to royalty. Cindedwella adores Jasmine and has been trying to think of a gentle way to suggest she give up the crop tops due to her middle age muffin top without hurting her feelings.

Aurora: This princess is almost unrecognizable from the sleeping beauty she was 60 years ago. Poor thing, ever since Prince Phillip woke her up from the hexed slumber she has suffered from all sorts of sleep disorders including insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and as of last year- sleep apnea. The years of sleep deprivation have resulted in deep bags under her eyes, weight gain, hair loss, and severe anxiety. Because of this she rarely leaves the palace.

Anna- Ok, to be honest, none of the older princesses can truly relate to this millennial, but Cindedwella thought it might be nice to get a fresh, young perspective on the design of her house so she invited both Anna and Elsa to the tea.  Elsa was unable to make it because she was meeting with the  IOC (International Olympic Games Commission) to make a formal bid for the Kingdom of Arendelle to host the 2026 Winter Games.

I’m going to skip the part where they first come in and Cindedwella attempts to introduce me to her fabled friends. Let’s just say drool was involved and while I heard noises coming out of my mouth, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t words. I could just die thinking about it. I’m pretty sure I overheard Alice asking Cindedwella if she was sure I was qualified to oversee the renovation. Luckily the awkwardness was short-lived because Cindedwella offered to take the girls on a quick tour of the home before they sat down to tea. While they were walking thru the house I positioned myself in a corner where I could just sit and watch their encounter- not creepy at all.

Once Cindedwella had given them a tour and explained the layout of the home they sat down at the dining room table for tea.  Here is a little snip-it of their conversation:

Cindedwella: Well ladies, what do you think?

All the princesses exchange nervous looks. 

Jasmine: struggling to sound enthusiastic Umm, I’m sure it’s going to be great Cindy. 

Aurora:  I can see that the place has plenty of space for you but gosh Cindy, there is a ton to do- it makes me tired just thinking about it. How do you even know where to start?  I’m nervous you are in over your head.

Alice:  And I‘m just curious. Why did you choose such an old house? I mean this house is as old as Whitey over there. Aren’t you nervous about the maintenance cost to keep up such an old home?
Snow White:  What did she say? I thought I heard my name.
Cindedwella:Speaking loudly Alice was just saying that this house was originally built the same year you were released- 1937. In a normal voice. Ladies, I do appreciate your concern, but there is no need to worry. Snow White sent the dwarfs over to make sure everything was structurally and mechanically sound. Everything inside the sheetrock is brand new and should function like a brand new house. And I have Niki to help oversee the remainder of the project. (all the princesses turn around to look at me- none look particularly reassured.) Besides, I really wanted a fixer-upper over a new construction house because I wanted the opportunity to take something old and neglected and transform it into something beautiful.

Anna: Im so excited for you! It will be like your living out your own episode of fixer-upper. What an experience! You should totally document the progress on social media!

Cindedwella: laughing Thank you Anna, but I don’t even have a Facebook account.

Aurora:  What are you going to do on the outside? No offense, Cindy, but right now it looks like the home of a wicked witch, not a princess.

Jasmine:  I didn’t want to say anything, but I agree. I just can’t see you living in a brown house.

Cindedwella: Oh I’ve got plans for the outside. I’m replacing all the broken panes in the windows; beefing up the front columns, putting in a new front door and of course I will be painting over the brown siding. I wanted to replace the vinyl siding with new Hardie Board siding but there were so many surprises uncovered during demolition that I just didn’t have the budget to replace it. And, unfortunately, home improvements are not covered under my Fairy Godmother’s bibbidi bobbidi policy.

Anna:   Oh girl, you gotta let it go! That vinyl siding is going to paint up beautiful.

Cindedwella:  I think your right. And Pocahontas came by earlier this week and gave me some great ideas for landscaping. She suggested I collect a bunch of pine needles to mulch underneath the big pine trees where grass will struggle to grow. It will look great and won’t cost me a penny.

Jasmine: What a great idea! Now your getting me excited about this project. By the way, where is Poky? I miss seeing her.

Cindedwella: Oh, she and John had already made plans to go camping just around the river bend at Toad Suck Park today.  
But enough about the outside, lets talk about the inside. Because I debuted in the 50s I have always loved a retro vibe. I want to  bring that vintage style to my home but at the same time make it fresh and current. I brought you all here today because I value your opinions and I would love to hear your ideas for the place.  

Aurora:  Well I’m neither fresh nor current but I can tell you that florals never go out of style.   


Cindedwella: So true! Maybe I can think of some fun ways to incorporate a floral pattern into my design.  Now what about paint colors? Any suggestions on the color pallet?
All Princesses:  answering in one accord “Pink!”
Cindedwella:   laughing Well of course there will be pink! But what other colors?

Snow White:  You can’t go wrong with white. It’s the fairest color of them all and makes a great neutral backdrop for colorful accessories. 

Jasmine: What about blues Cindy? You have always loved the color blue.

Cindedwella:  I love it ladies! I do want to surround myself with things I love and that make me happy. Any other ideas I should consider in the design or decor?

Aurora: Well, the most important thing to consider is a big, comfy, inviting, beautiful bed with pretty curtains to help block out the sun. she lets out a big yawn.

Jasmine:  And lots of rugs throughout the house. I’m telling ya, a good rug can transport your home into a whole new world.

Alice:  A clock. I know that might sound silly but too many people neglect a good clock in their decor. Believe me it’s the key to never being rushed or late to an important date.

Anna:  Maybe a feature wall or some really cool art that can serve as a fab backdrop for selfies! Oh! and a pool to ice skate on in the winter!!
All the girls clap with excitement about the pool.
Cindedwella:  A pool! I hadn’t even thought of that. What a great idea!!
Whoa!!! Umm No..no pool!” The mention of a pool magically untangles my tongue to speak. “We don’t have the budget for a pool.” (Oh great, now they are all looking at me like I just kicked their puppies.) I quickly add “And besides, it does not get cold enough in Arkansas to freeze over a pool for ice skating.” (There, they can’t blame the weather on me.) “But your other ideas are great…. really.” (Ok they can stop staring at me now)
Alice:  whispering so I can’t overhear (I totally could hear) Seriously Cindy, did you check her references?

Cindedwella:  obviously disappointed Oh well, the pool was a fun idea; but Anna I like your idea for art too. Any other ideas?

Snow White:  Don’t forget about Mirrors. Mirrors on the Wall make quite a statement.

Cindedwella:  Oh Ladies, I knew I could count on you. Those are all super ideas. You have helped me so much.  I truly treasure your friendship and I can’t wait to have you back over once the renovation is complete.

End Scene.

Wow! That was incredible. I will never forget that day. Cindedwella took each suggestion to heart and has been hard at work finishing up the renovation ever since. She is so close to wrapping this project up and let me just tell you- it is charming! Every time I step inside I can’t help but smile. It will be the perfect home in which to live happily ever after.

the end.

Would you like to see how this story played out in real life? Cindedwella’s Open House will be Sunday, September 15th, 2019 from 2-4pm. All are welcome. Watch Storybook Renovation’s Facebook and Instagram for more information about this event. House hunting? Be on the lookout for this home’s Zillow posting in the coming days.

We are having an auction!

My name is Niki and I’m a …..collector of treasures. No, um…. let me try that again. Hello, My name is Niki, and I…. rescue forgotten goods. No,…. repurpose the neglected….. store up for future glory….. salvage the dilapidated….
My name is Niki, and I am a hoarder. THERE! I said it.
You wouldn’t know it from being in my home- in fact since our move we have become quite the minimalist. No, where I hide my addiction is a couple miles down the road in my shop/shack on Reedy Road. Prepare yourself and hide the eyes of your children… I’m about to show you a picture of my shop/shack:
Cue Horror Movie Scream.

It’s green in real life, I chose Black and White to make it more ominous- you know how I feel about drama. 

Yep that’s her. I’m sure if you have driven down Reedy Road you have seen her. And if you live in Madison Subdivision you probably assume that nothing good could be going on in a place like this. Especially because I use to frequently come in and out of the place looking like this:

Now, I’m not exactly sure what people wear when they are cooking drugs but my imagination conjures up images similar to the picture above and it wouldn’t surprise me if the good people of Madison Subdivision jumped to that conclusion too. In actuality, I use to frequently sport the mask when I would strip or paint furniture during my “Painted Stache” days (Dad and I’s homemade and restoration furniture business).  And speaking of stripping…
Apparently, my shop/shack had a reputation long before Rory acquired the property. This is a picture of how the side room looked when we purchased it.

I don’t even want to imagine the stories that came out of this place. All I know is when I moved in, the pole came down and the boom boom room became my spray booth for painting furniture.  It was quite functional, for a while…..
The main shop area was once a dream workshop with over 800 sq feet of open space with some built-in workbenches. When I first moved in I just stored our Christmas decor and a few furniture pieces I would pick up at yard sales to refinish and sell at weekend antique events. Here is a pic of the space when I moved in, in 2014.

I had PLENTY of space to move around and work in. But when I transitioned from flipping furniture to flipping houses the ratio of things that came into the shop to those that left the shop substantially increased (or did the ratio decrease? The math is hurting my head- bottom line, more came in than out). Instead of bringing in things that I wanted to sale in a planned weekend event, I started buying and storing things that I “might, one day, maybe, use in a future storybook home.” Then the problem exploded when Rory and I (yes Rory, I’m throwing you under the bus with me on this one) got the bright idea that we should start a salvage business with all the things we pull out of these old homes during demolition. The inventory was endless but our time was not- so we gathered a lot but never had the time to organize and sell- it’s really quite a shame, I had some really cool ideas for the salvage shop, specifically how I would decorate it, you would have loved it.  But alas it never was.
All of that has led to the current state of the shop/shack…
(I can’t believe I’m about to show you this- Don’t judge….shoot, go ahead and judge, I deserve it)

And the current state of the boom boom room:
I think I could have happily continued stuffing items into the shop forever but the place stresses Rory out. I dread anytime he goes to the shop because it is impossible for him to step foot in the place (literally there is no room for even his foot) without giving me a lecture on getting rid of my “junk” (Yes, I do take offense to the use of that word). At one point he even threatened to evict me. So I can’t put it off any longer, I have to clear the place out. I tried posting a few things on FB online yardsale but most people who came to the shop were too overwhelmed by the mess to truly shop. So seeing that I wasn’t making much progress, Rory took it upon himself to come to the rescue and went and hired an auction company. I’ll admit, this freaked me out at first but I find if I focus on what I’ll be gaining (space to move around in, a place to store our tools, money to spend on a new mattress) instead of all the treasures I will be losing, I’m ok with it-kinda. 
But I will say I’m pretty pumped about an auction! How fun is that?!?! I have only been to a handful of auctions but each one was uber exciting! Even if I wasn’t bidding I found myself getting anxious watching others go after an item. Not the bad kind of anxious, more like the kind you get as you are standing in line to ride a new roller coaster. The thrill of wondering if you can win the item before you hit the top dollar amount you have assigned in your head. Then as you approach that number (or even go over) you wonder how much higher your competition will go before they bow out. Just $1 higher, $2, $3.  Then whether you win or lose that item becomes the most precious thing in the world to you, for that moment, because you fought for it. It’s an adventure, I tell ya.
YOU SHOULD TOTALLY COME!!! Even if you don’t leave with a single treasure you should come just for the experience. 
The auction is going to be this Saturday, July 20th at our Shop/Shack behind the fence at 377 Reedy Road in Conway.  The auction will start promptly at 9am but you will want to get there early to register if you want to bid on any items. 
What is going to be up for auction? you ask.
  • Lots of Furniture. Some are project pieces, some are ready to be taken home and enjoyed as is, some were found in homes we worked on, some from yard sales, and some were pieces we had at our twostorysister but just don’t work in our current home. 

I loved the blue circled parson chairs with the ruffle skirt at Sister but they just don’t fit the style of Carl Stuart. Sad Sigh. And I felt like I hit the jackpot when I found that plaid settee that fit the Caldwell Manor story perfectly. My loss your gain.

Oh! and the plans I had for those chairs. I soooo could picture them flanking the ends of a beautiful dining table in the perfect English cottage or sitting in a French Country living room (reupholstered in that scenario).
  • Tons and Tons of reclaimed wood salvaged from houses all over Conway. 

Mostly pine, but you will also find oak, Cyprus, and cedar mixed in the lot. Talk about the pinterest projects you could knock out with those treasures. 
  • Lots of old windows and doors.

Including over $5000 worth of storefront window frames and glass.  Oh and lots of window weights. Men get excited about window weights.  I hear they use them as anchors for their fishing boats. 
  •  some tools and what nots- more whats than nots if you ask me
  • Leftover tile and light fixtures

Some lights and fans are brand new never taken out of the box! What am I thinking?!?!
  • Christmas Decor
I have some beautiful Christmas decor that sadly will just not work in my new modernish home. So if you like whites, creams, burlap, and golds in your Christmas decor you could score big! Plus I have several Christmas Trees- including the one I flocked in front of my church family at the “Don’t get your Tinsel in a Tangle” ladies event. 

  • Tons of decor- knick knacks I had collected for staging along with a lot of farmhouse decor that I had hoped I could make fit in our new home but oh my goodness it just really doesn’t.  I have even tried to tell myself a story about a farmgirl who moves in with a bohemian family in the city in hopes to mesh the two styles together- but it’s like oil and water. I’ve given up the fight. 
Plus rumor has it that Waterhouse Market might be dropping off a few items to contribute to the auction as well. 
Speaking of Waterhouse Market, if we can find a free second in our schedules to get together and play this week, I’m going to see if Donna wants to go Live with me to give us some tips on how to properly auction. She is pretty much an expert, and I think she could really help us newbies feel less intimidated by the process.  How does that sound?!?! 
Ok, so if anything has caught your eye, or you just want to experience a real live auction, or you just want to see a real life hoarding situation- here are the details you need to know:
Date: Saturday, July 20th
Time: 9am – 11am
(be there by 8:30 to register)
Location: 377 Reedy Road
Auctioneer: Shawn Hammontree with 
(click on link above to see more pictures posted by Circle H)
Finally, if you did find something you think you can’t live without, please don’t ask me to presell it to you. I can’t! Even if you are my very best friend or my own mother- I legally can’t. I am under contract with Circle H Auctions that I won’t remove or sell anything before the auction. 
See you Saturday!

Conway meets the French Quarter

While in the shower this evening, I got to thinking (I have all my deep thoughts in the shower or while driving down Donaghey Road…..idk)
 this house flipping gig has really allowed me to travel the world. I mean in the last 3 years alone, I have been to Ireland, England, Nantucket and most recently, thanks to 705 Davis Street, New Orleans. These are all places on my bucket list to visit and now, after spending months renovating these Central Arkansas homes to reflect the lands from which their stories are inspired, I not only feel like I have been there but have been fully immersed into their cultures. 
Of course, my interpretation of the native architecture and design comes 98% from my imagination, 2% from Pinterest and 0% from formal study or experience so I can’t exactly guarantee their authenticity. BUT in the case of 705 Davis, with the help of its homeowner, I think we nailed the recreation of the French Quarter in the Historic district of Conway. This confidence is due largely to the fact that the homeowner frequents New Orleans, and had very specific NOLA features he wanted incorporated into his home.  And despite his original idea that he “wanted to be surprised,” he ended up weighing in on a lot of the major design decisions and was around for the majority of the renovation to make sure his ideas were implemented in a way that reflected his true life experience with New Orleans.

BUT, because he had originally expressed a desire to be surprised (and let’s be honest- my obsession with a good HGTV worthy reveal experience) I kicked him out in true “Property Brother” fashion at about 6 weeks before completion, right before interior paint started. We set a reveal date for Friday, June 14th and then the madness began as my team raced toward the finish line. Two weeks before our deadline my carefully planned timeline began to unravel as several key subcontractors did not show when expected (such is the life in this construction world). I stubbornly held on to our set reveal date until I finally cracked under the pressure.


(Actual Footage of me.)

So after several mornings in a row waking up begging Rory not to make me go back, Rory finally convinced me to call the homeowner and request we move back the reveal date by a couple of days. I dreaded that phone call… but Mr. Homeowner handled the news like a champ and we set a new reveal date for the following Tuesday at noon. Guys, I’m convinced I could have had a couple more weeks and I still would have used every last second to get that house ready but thanks to my heroes- Nicolas and his painting team, Edwardo the floor guy turned overall handyman, my family, and the Waterhouse Market team we had this home show-ready by 12pm, Tuesday, June 18th.

In the craziness, I forgot to snap photos but lucky for you Makenzie Evans, professional photographer, was on-site with Waterhouse Market and she snapped some highlights of the house right before Mr. Homeowner arrived on the scene. So now you too can experience the same “after” reveal as the homeowner. You ready??? I’m so EXCITED!!!

Ok remember, this is what the house looked like before we started:

The hints of Greek Revival architecture in the cornices, columns, and shutters made this the perfect house to transplant to the French Quarter. 
During the renovation, we moved around so many windows and doors we ended up replacing over half of the wood siding.  We briefly contemplated replacing the siding with Hardie Board but felt like the skinny slats of the original siding was more appropriate for a New Orleans style Greek Revival. We also demolished the old lean-to addition and rebuilt a structure that I hope fools you to believe it was part of the original construction.
And now…
BIG Thanks to Phillip Toll for all the Exterior trim and siding and Benny the brick guy and TPA metal works for the NOLA style courtyard. 
And speaking of NOLA style, we played up the Greek Revival by enhancing the window trim (green) and columns, adding the dental molding (yellow), and sourcing custom working shutters straight from a New Orleans millworks company (red). This house is hurricane ready!
Mr. Homeowner also found a New Orleans company to make these gas lanterns that flank the doors that lead out to the pool.
A quick reminder of what this side of the house used to look like:
The pool was not quite finished at the time of the reveal, so I don’t have finished pool pics for you, but I do want to show you a hint of the French Quarter courtyard he created with an 8′ wall that encloses his back property.  This pic also shows that we extended and enclosed the existing carport during the renovation.

I must admit, I had my doubts about that wall when he first explained his vision for the space; but by the end, it became one of my favorite features of his home and I’m trying to figure out how I can get a brick wall in my backyard too. 
Ok let’s go inside!
Let me remind you of the original floor plan:
So the first thing we did was give this home a proper formal entry.
Notice the brick pavers on the floor.😍 What I neglected to capture, in my haste to meet my noon reveal deadline, was the copper lantern pendant (original to the home, and lovingly rewired by the talented Gina at Hambuchen lighting) that hangs from the ceiling and the wainscotting that encircles the space and hides a hidden coat closet. You’ll just have to trust me, it’s pretty cool.
Peeking thru the French Doors, you can see you enter into his new dining room (located at number 2 on the original floor plan). Here’s how the space looked before:
And now:
Jeff Perry the cabinet man put doors on the old built-in for an instant china cabinet and Jacob Smith and his team did all the trim work seen throughout the house. Donna Benton of Waterhouse Market has been commissioned to help blend the homeowner’s current art and furnishings with new finds to help finish out its design story.  This table is the first of her finds, and I was so excited it arrived in time for the reveal to help define the dining space under that oversized lantern I found at an antique shop in Little Rock.
I’m sorry to say I didn’t get a great shot of the living room space in its finished condition, but without furniture, it’s not much to look at anyway. But here it is before (#3)
One of the coolest things about this space is the record storage space we created where that door is above. We unearthed 4 old brick stove stacks during demolition and was able to incorporate 2 into the new design.  Here is the first one:

On the other side of that brick stack is one of 4 doors that lead out to the pool. 

And now my favorite part! The KITCHEN!! Most of me wants to save it to the end, but I’m trying to give you an authentic reveal experience and at this point in the tour you couldn’t avoid seeing the kitchen because it is open to the living room. 
Here is the old Kitchen (#6)

And the location of the new kitchen (#4)

And now……..
Ahhhh. What do you think?!?!!? Did we nail the French Quarter??? I mean look at those lanterns 😍😍😍 And what about that brick?!?!?! Remember the 4 old brick stacks? The two brick stacks that got torn down during demolition got recycled into that backsplash.
At this time I would like to highlight 2 heroes of the renovation- Edwardo David, the tile guy, and Benny, the Brick guy:

Edwardo not only did all the tile and flooring throughout the house, but he also became a jack of all trades in the final days of the project helping me with WHATEVER needed to get done to meet our deadline. And Benny practically lived on Davis Street with all the brickwork he did to this home. No matter how stressed I got these two always had a smile on their face. 
Here are some more shots of the kitchen.

The pantry is located thru that pocket transom door beside the fridge- right-hand corner of #1 on the “before” diagram. 

As much as I would love to stay in the kitchen FOREVER, we must continue the tour.
Where the old kitchen was, we transformed that space into the laundry/dog spa.

There are some very blessed little beagles that live at 705 Davis street. Their human made sure their space was equipped with built-in kennels, water and food bowls and a window seat perfect for sunbathing and squirrel watching.  The dogs also have their own courtyard they have access to at any time of the day thru their own doggy door. 

On the other side of the laundry room is the hall that leads from the living room to the bedrooms (#11). It used to house a staircase that led to a creepy attic space.
We decided there was nothing to gain from keeping the staircase so it was removed and in its place we put a custom trophy case (made by Jeff Perry) to hold this homeowner’s beloved St Louis Cardinal memorabilia. 

Next on our tour are the bedrooms- which honestly are a little boring on a photo tour without furniture but I’ll still show you. 
Number 5 and 7 were the two bedroom locations of the original house. And I guess you could have called the lean-to addition a 3rd bedroom in the old house (#10).

Now the two spacious guest bedrooms are located in the addition. With the back bedroom having access to the pool and its own patio. 

Before I take you to the master suite I want to show you the guest bathroom. The original house did have two bathrooms with one being located in the lean-to.
And the other was at the end of the hall (#8)
The new guest bath got relocated into the old laundry space (#9):
And now looks like this:

This vanity was a last-minute find at the Peddler in Greenbrier.

And last but not least on our tour is the master suite- which I neglected to get pictures of the bedroom portion of the suite- basically it looks like the other bedrooms but it has two windowed doors that open up to the pool (the doors flanked by lanterns in the earlier exterior picture). The master suite occupies what was #5 and #7 of the old floor plan.
And then, through the french doors of the master bedroom, is one of my top favorite bathrooms in the world. (Honestly, the pics just don’t do it justice- no fault of Makenzie, it’s just hard to get a picture in the long narrow space). 
When you enter the bathroom you are immediately greeted by a fabulous copper tub that sits in front of a large picture window facing the pool courtyard. 
Then to the right of the french doors, you will find a vanity,  linen cabinet, and a transom door leading to his closet. (Yes, that is an in heat flooring system panel on the wall.)

And on the left of the door, you will find a mirrored set-up with a second vanity, linen closet, and transom door leading to a large walk-in shower. 

But wait! Where is the potty, you ask. Well, that my friends, is my favorite part! it is located inside the vanity cabinet beside the shower. No really. It is. I only wish I had photographic proof.  You’ll just have to trust me.
So there you have it! How did we do? Did you forget you were in Central Arkansas? Could you practically taste the Cajun food?
If your sad this tour is over, I’ve got GREAT news for you. I hope to take you on another tour of this home once my good friend Donna finishes illustrating this story with all her fabulous decor and furnishing finds. 
In the meantime, I’ll be working on finishing up 143 Oliver to invite you all over for an official OPEN HOUSE!! and I’ve started another custom project for a client in Westgate Subdivision. Fun times ahead!

It’s a "Before" Blog

Hi Friends!!!
Oh it’s been too long, but I’m hoping this next project will have been worth the wait! If you are a Storybook Homes follower you know that over the last year I have been working on custom projects for real clients, myself included:
First, there was the demolished and rebuilt Nantucket traditional house on Oliver:
Then there was my mid mod house on Carl Stuart:
I know I still owe you a complete “after package” on Carl Stuart but we moved in prematurely before the punch list was completed so there are a few more things I’d like to take care of before I post pics- you understand, right??
And currently, I am in the final days of the New Orleans Greek Revival house on Davis…
(come back soon for the after pics on this one)
While it has been a fun experience working with real-life people to help cultivate and create the homes of their imagination; I have desperately missed the creative process of letting a story dictate the design and renovation of a home. I mean, I did try to keep a vague story running through my head throughout these client projects, simply to help maintain a cohesive style, but the final design choices were made by the client, not the story- lucky for me my clients had great taste. I just find that when I focus on telling a story rather than pleasing a client I am more inclined to think outside the box and take greater design risks. Now granted most of these “risks” are not for everyone but it’s often these story led ideas in a storybook flip that captures the attention and the heart of the perfect future homeowner- it’s just cool how it happens. 
So when the mother/son realtor team, Chris and Cindy Bell, contacted me about a potential flip I jumped at the chance to go look. At the time, I was in the final days of the Oliver project, Carl Stuart was barely in the dry, and Davis was patiently waiting in the wings to get started, so I knew there was no way I could start another project. But I figured, if the price was right, I might be able to afford to let it sit for a while or even allow a renter to move in until we were ready to renovate.  Unfortunately, the renter idea was squelched before we even made it inside the house. The front door was broken and permanently ajar and the side door looked like it had been kicked in.  Inside we were greeted by the sweetest elderly couple. It was obvious their declining health had not allowed them to keep up the day to day maintenance of their home for quite some time. It was truly heartbreaking, the floors were sinking in multiple places and 1 side of the house seemed to be tilting away from the rest of the structure. They had held on as long as they could but needed to move to a safer and healthier environment.  With the help of the Bells and the couple’s bank, we were able to purchase the house at a price that allowed the couple to move on and gave us a workable budget to do the necessary renovation.  So without further ado let me introduce you to 143 Oliver:
She’s pretty big for a Storybook home at just under 2100 sq feet.  You wanna go inside??
I’ll take you in through the front door (the sweet couple had a new door installed before we closed):
The front door leads directly into the living room.
A fireplace!!! It doesn’t work, but I still love that it’s there.  
To the left of the fireplace you enter into the dining room:
Sorry, I neglected to get a picture of the dining room before the demo started. That lath and plaster debris is evidence that our dumpster costs and dust counts were high throughout the demolition. 
Through that small door is the kitchen:
That reminds me… I asked the demo team to save that hutch for me. Hmmm, I don’t recall seeing it for awhile…
On the other side of the house was a hall with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms:
Then past the kitchen, there was a pantry area and a cool enclosed porch looking area:
And then there was another small bedroom in that area:
Outside there is an attached storage area that I heard used to be part of a dairy farm. 
Believe me, I almost let myself get lost in a dairy farm story but I did not trust myself with all the cowhide possibilities. So rather, I waited for the space to be completely cleared out and gutted before I started looking and listening for the story this home wanted to tell. 
Over the last 6 months, we have ever so slowly been putting this house back together. In fact, it has been my lack of attention at this house that motivated and wrote her story. And oh I LOVE the sweet story she tells- I hope to get to share it with you before the end of the summer. In the meantime, thanks for spending a little time with me today. I hope it’s not too long before we can do it again.  
PS- If you’re curious…. The new floor plan hosts 4 bedrooms (5 if you count the office) and 2 baths. Projected price: Somewhere around $250k for the house with a fully furnished and decorated package yet to be determined by Waterhouse Market. Open House Party projected to be Late July or August! Can’t wait to see you!

Storybook Ghostwriter Edition

Welcome to a special edition of Storybook homes. If you have been following Storybook Homes for any amount of time you know that my Dad ALWAYS comes to town to help me on at least 1 special project per renovation. 
Here he is helping me with a feature headboard wall at Bruce.

Ta dah!
He built a vanity top for Oliver:
And helped me with the pine shiplap at Donaghey.
Here are some action shots of him working on some special trim projects at Caldwell.

And the fruits of his labor:

He built the master vanity at the cinder block house:

And here he is working on one of the most tedious jobs to date- the wood wrapped entry wall at Lee Street.

Those are just a few pics that prove, not only is he an incredible Dad that sacrificially gives up his time and joints (climbing ladders and crawling on the floor is tough on an old man) to help make his daughter’s design dreams come true, BUT ALSO, that he has some serious carpentry skilz. 
Sooooooo when Dad announced that he thought he might like to try his hand at flipping I was pumped and confident that he would do an incredible job. Plus, I was looking forward to being able to help him for a change in appreciation for the many times he has helped me. 
It took him almost a year to find a property to flip near his home in Harrison, Arkansas that met his criteria for price and degree of renovation needed; but late last summer with the help of his favorite realtor, Laura Ragland with Weichert Realtors, he found a house that checked most of his boxes.  
35 Mimosa Drive in Harrison Arkansas

The house was structurally sound, just in need of some cosmetic updates.  Plus it was a great size, in an established neighborhood, close to schools, and had recently undergone a major price drop after sitting on the market for awhile. Laura was able to negotiate a price that was in Dad’s comfort zone and by July of last year he and his oldest grandson were swinging sledge hammers at the old floor plan. 
Because Dad forgot to get “before” pics before diving into demolition, (Like father like daughter) I borrowed some pics off the old realtor listing to give you a brief “before” tour:
When you walked in the front door you entered into a closed off formal living room:

On the other side of that left wall was a small dining room:

Through that cased opening you can see the kitchen…

Beyond the kitchen was a nice size gathering or family room:
On the other side of this classic ranch style house there was/is a long hall
with 2 kid bedrooms (no good pics of bedrooms) and a guest bath:

 And a master suite:

Complete with single sink vanity and fiberglass shower:

BUT now……
When you walk in the front door you are greeted with a Dad signature feature wall:

And that formal living room has been opened up to the kitchen:

And speaking of the Kitchen…. What a transformation!!!  
Dad borrowed some space from the old dining room to expand the kitchen and converted the rest of the old dining Room into a Laundry/Pantry room. This was a genius use of space, if you ask me, because the old Laundry was located in the garage. 
Here is a view of the new gathering room:
And now down the hall…. don’t you just love a freshly painted house and those new hardwood floors.

The guest bathroom was overhauled:

And the bedrooms were refreshed with new carpet, fan, and paint. 

The master suite received a total makeover. 

And the old master bathroom was expanded to include a large walk-in shower, double vanity and private potty room.

What do you think?!?! Did he do a great job or what!!
I’m so proud of him that I thought he deserved to have his very own Storybook Homes For Sale sign.

If you love it too, you should call the number above because according to Dad this was his first and last flip so there won’t be another opportunity to own a Ghostwriter edition SBH in Harrison again!
Yep, I wish I could tell you that Dad fell in love with the reno biz but that is not how this story ends.  The job took triple the time he thought and (as is ALWAYS the case for me) went quite a bit over budget.  That, along with the everyday surprises and frustrations that come with renovating a home, led to his decision that flipping homes is just not how he wants to spend his retirement years.
Whether you are in the market for a new home or not, please stop by Dad’s Open House this Sunday, February 24, 2019 from 2pm-4pm to pat him on the back and tell him what a great job he did. 

35 Mimosa Drive
Harrison, AR
February 24, 2019
2pm – 4pm

Oliver- B&A

It’s Before and After Time for Oliver!!!
Ummm…. Is it fair for me to classify this post as a before and after? I mean, if you remember, this was the house we ended up demolishing due to ZERO footings. BUT! In my defense, because we did not realize the home was sitting on sinking dirt until the week before we were due to start reconstruction we already had the floorplan mapped out to fit inside the original footprint. The future homeowners had approved the new layout and did not desire to make any changes so we essentially built back the original structure with an added carport. Therefore, because we honored the original house I feel justified in claiming these are before and after pics. Soooo now that I cleared that up, let’s get going with the pictures already.
Here is a shot of the house in the before stage: (remember Oliver was a duplex in its former life)

And here he is now!

Isn’t he cute! My biggest fear about tackling a new construction project in old town Conway was that the end product would not have the charm of an old home. But I think by adding the wood trim around the windows and doors and topping the brick columns with the precast concrete of old this house could pass for historic. In fact, Mr. Homeowner paid me the biggest compliment when he shared that someone who had visited his new home thought the house was a remodeled 80-year-old and was shocked to find out it was new construction. 

Speaking of homeowners. If you remember, this was my very first project working side by side with clients and I was just a little (ok a lot) anxious about giving up 100% control. This fear was further escalated when I realized having homeowners on board meant their preferences would (of course) be driving the design ship instead of the Ken and Barbie story floating in my head. Without a story I couldn’t envision the end product, therefore I felt a little lost at first. But then, guess what? As I got to know the homeowners and their likes and dislikes they BECAME the story and I could totally see them and all their furnishings and treasurers living in the space. That, and I kept picturing the homeowners living in Nantucket. Not exactly sure why…. I have never been to Nantucket nor do I have any idea if “Nantucket” is or has a particular style, BUT if ever I was unsure of what direction to take in this project I just pointed North East and suggested finishes I thought would be found in a coastal Nantucket home.  
I truly could not have asked for a better couple to work with. They were gracious and understanding when things did not go as planned, and timely and decisive when it was time to make a design decision. They were very supportive and respectful of my ideas and yet were not afraid to speak up if something did not fit their taste or if they had an idea of their own. I found that I really enjoyed having someone to bounce ideas around with and was surprised at the relief I felt from not being responsible for all the design choices. I would simply present 3 or 4 (or 30 when it came to paint colors) options and they would make the final call.  In the end, we created a home I think we were all proud of.  (Here at SBH it is perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition.)
They moved in about a month ago but graciously welcomed me back so I could take you on a tour of their home. Let’s go inside…..

Remember how dark, dingy and closed off the duplex entrance felt… (Seriously, what’s with the footprints on the ceiling?!?!)
Well now you walk right into their open living/dining kitchen area:

Can you believe they already have pictures hung?? No lie, we lived at Sister AT LEAST 4 years before I hung anything on the wall. 
I usually like to save the kitchen for last on our tours but since it is peeking out behind the couch, I’ll go ahead and take you in there. 
Another fabulous job by Jeff Perry the cabinet guy. I think that is my new favorite vent hood- very Nantuckety. And shout out to my new friend Brent Rhodes of MBR Woodworks for the BEAUTIFUL oak island top. Mrs Homeowner says it is her favorite part of the entire home. Check out Brent’s portfolio of projects on his FB page: MBRwoodworks. So excited to have found Brent, I think he is just the guy I need to implement a few ideas I have had floating around in my head…. stay tuned. 
While I have you here, take a look at that antique door. I’m going to totally pat myself on the back for that one. It was not always such a glorious shade of antique wood. No, that wood only emerged after a gazillion hours of stripping and sanding layers and layers of paint by yours truly. 

Did I mention I did this in the hot July sun. Take a good look because this will be the last antique door I EVER strip. Alright, I’m done. I’m leaving my pity party… on with the tour. 
One of my favorite spots in the home is the little sitting nook to the left of the island.

Even while Ken and Barbie were still living in this story I had pictured ticking stripe chairs flanking that front window. I mentioned this to Mrs. Homeowner at our first meeting and the very next week she ordered this fabric to recover the chairs above. Love, love, love how they turned out and I think they fit even better inside this Nantucket story. 
Before we leave the kitchen let me remind you of the before kitchens:
Unit 1

Unit 2

Before we head down the hall let me give you a close-up of the dining area:

Waterhouse Market took the homeowners existing antique dining set and gave it a makeover for its Nantucket debut.  

I looked high and low for the perfect chandelier that would harmonize with the kitchen lighting without being too matchy matchy. Found this one at Conway’s very own Hambuchen Lighting.  Ya’ll that place is a treasure. Such unique lighting and surprisingly affordable. 

First door to the left down the long hall is the laundry room/pantry.

Not sure that the duplex had a designated laundry area so no before picture for that one. 
Next, let’s look at the guest bath. Here’s a before to set the mood:
And here it is now:

Couldn’t break the tradition of my Dad joining in on our project- he built the vanity top for this bathroom.

And remember that old clawfoot tub in the duplex? It too got a makeover. 

Flanking that guest bathroom is two guest bedrooms.

And finally, we enter the master suite where we are greeted by the adorable Temple (Shirly Temple that is).

Through that Navy Blue pocket door you will find the master bathroom:

I had a hard time getting a good picture that captured the layout of the bathroom. So I’ll just tell ya the shower is to the right of the vanity and the potty is hidden behind a wall across from the shower. 

If linen-like tile and a chair rail of subway tile do not scream Nantucket I don’t know what does.
Because I forgot to get shots of the backyard and porch it looks like this is where the tour will end.
Thank you to all the subcontractors who helped this project come together. And thanks so much to Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner for entrusting Storybook Homes with your home.

Carl Stuart Update

Well….we are at the 3-week mark of put-back-together mode at the Carl Stuart house and Wow! what a rollercoaster it has been. Thank you for all the kind words of encouragement after my last post. I was in a paralyzing state of fear and panic after I saw the height and drama of the garage/bonus room but your kind words helped me off the ledge. Since starting we have had to hire 2 different crews to take off the roof, wait out a couple of rain storms (roofless) and switch framing companies, but I think we are on the right track now. 
Here are a few pics to keep you in the loop of the progress:
Just to remind you, here is what we started with:
Stats: 1800ish sq feet 3 bed, 2.5 bath, Ranch Style with hints of mid century architecture.

Here is a little clearer, close-up picture of the house after demolition had started:
And now….

The second story addition has gone up. Now I am just waiting for the right side roof trusses to be installed before I decide how I truly feel about the design. I have a feeling this will be a house you either love or hate and I fully expect there will be members in both camps, and that’s ok, I just pray that Rory and I both end up on the love side.
Behind the main house is the garage/bonus room addition that cost me many nights sleep. I think it looks less monstrous now that the second story has been added to the main house, so I’m feeling a little better about it.
Here is a glimpse of the bonus space above the garage:
And now for a quick tour of the inside of the main house:
Welcome to the kitchen and living room:

 It currently feels nice and airy.
This is my feeble attempt at saving the hardwood floors from rain damage:

What do you think the likelihood my tarping will work?? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
And here is the mudroom/master suite side of the house.

See all that tape? That is my attempt to show the framers EXACTLY where I want the walls to go. It took me HOURS. I have no doubt the framers were laughing at me in Spanish. They basically framed up an entire second story in the time it took me to lay out the master bedroom, bathroom, and laundry room. But here’s the deal…whereas in new construction if you need more space you can just bump out an exterior wall on the blueprint before construction begins, you don’t have that luxury in a remodel. You are confined within the exterior walls the house gifts you, so you have to make every inch count and each wall work double time. This is actually my FAVORITE part of renovating an old house. I LOVE the challenge of making the most of every square inch of space. Hopefully, by the end of this week I will get to see my imaginary tape walls come to life. Stay tuned.