Ten Tips for Renovating and Our New Living Room

1.  Determine the overall Style you desire.  For our 1950's house, I wanted a clean lined "Beach Cottage."  Nothing grander.  As you proceed,  keep your design style in mind and it will give your individual selections focus. 

2.  It seems obvious, but remember to have a camera with you at all times to take photos for your inspiration file (in addition to blog and magazine pictures).  While in a gift shop, I noticed this 7.5" oak planked floor and took a photo.  Later, it was easier to remember and find the source.  
3.  Be cost efficient by getting competitive bids on labor and materials.  Let's face it.   
In these economic times, contractors and suppliers have had to lower their prices to stay in business.  Everyone has had to "tighten" their belts and we are included.  I obtained at least three bids on everything, painting, flooring, windows, carpentry, etc.

Do not overpay but be Fair.  Get reasonable prices that still achieve quality workmanship.  Pay in installments with a sizable amount left for completion.
4.  Ask for due dates upfront to maintain your timeline.  It is a little easier to get workers to show up now while building is slow,  but you still need to know when they can start and finish.

5.  When renovating, think about Energy Efficiency.  Although it increased the cost initially, we added insulation to the ceiling and installed double paned windows.

6.  You are internet savvy, right?  Sell your used items on Craig's List (like our patio bricks) or donate for the tax deduction.  Also, purchase items on Craig's List and search for bargains using the internet.   After researching, Overstock.com was a good source for door knobs.  I discovered what the comparable prices were for appliances and other household items.  
7.  Ask your subcontractors if they know of any deals.  For example, the granite surrounding the fireplace was a leftover remanent taking up space in the stone fabricator's workshop.  He sold it to us for much less than the tile/stone store would have as we paid him for his labor to install it.  
8.  Do as much of the labor as you can.  I am not as handy as a lot of you, but I did save money as the owner/contractor/interior designer.  Use the experts where you have your limitations and check daily on their work.
9.   Keep records of your expenditures.  You'll need this later for your taxes...from the energy efficiency rebates for windows, insulation and appliances to capital gains  if you plan to sell your home.  Ugh!  I need to work on taxes now--but I have all the receipts in a handy file.  You'll also need these to show the bank if you plan to refinance.

10.  After construction, relax and decorate with the things you already have 
edited down and love.  Move accessories around.  Have fun playing.  It's just decorating.

Best Wishes, 
Mary Ann

Participating in Transformation Thursdays.


Anticipating Spring

Looking forward to Spring with a visit to
Fashion Island in Newport Beach, California.

First stop,  Kate Spade.

Not just for clothing, it is a good place to find one of a kind furniture like:
Wood and zinc topped table
Iron and Wood Shelving
1920's Butcher Block Table

Trina Turk

Maison Midi has colorful Palacek bistro chairs 

also available in bar stool heights.
I considered these for our kitchen.  Fresh and timeless.

Good bye for today Fashion Island.

Taking a couple purchases home...

This phone case makes me happy every time I use it.
For some other really cool cases check out Style Beat.

Are you ready for Spring??

Best Wishes,
Mary Ann


French Stone Fountain Before and After

 It started with a family trip to the Dordogne region of France a few years ago 
where we saw lots and lots of ancient carved limestone.

"All this cool carved stone is giving me an idea", I thought, a bit dramatically...

The "before" photo of our little patio

Some internet research helped find Charme d'Antan ("Charm from the Past")
 just north of Malibu.  My husband and I took a Sunday afternoon excursion north
and met the friendly French owner who gave us a tour.
His knowledge of stone carving craftsmanship along with his respect for his ancestor’s work, 
motivated him to bring architectural pieces and antiquities from Europe to 21st century
 homes and gardens (paraphrased from his website).
It's really a fun place to visit.

This 19th century French blue stone 
animal trough was the perfect size and shape.

We also purchased this weathered sunflower spout.

The garden wall was smoothly plastered.  
The base was formed and a trellis from Restoration Hardware (end of summer sale) was hung.
A small hole was drilled in the bottom of the basin and two in the wall where we 
threaded the fountain hose.  The pump is hidden behind the concrete block.
The base was also plastered and the contractor installed an electrical switch in the house 
(good idea, Adrian) to turn off the fountain before the cement floor and slate was installed. 
Some new landscaping was added.

Can you see the little hole in the front of the trough?  
That used to have a stake where the animals were tied to to quench their thirst.
Which reminds me (smile), when our son had his basketball team here for dinner,
we filled this with ice and bottles of Gatorade.  
The fountain at night. 

Kirsten is featuring our home HERE.
  Check out her blog and her stylish online design service.

How have your travels inspired you?  

Best wishes,
Mary Ann

Participating in Outdoor Wednesday.