Category Archives: THE RIGHT SPACE

Life is a Puzzle

Every summer, I complete a massive puzzle.  I break out the card table, dump the 1,000 pieces on top and begin the process of sorting and connecting.  In those moments, I am a puzzle zombie.   There’s only a certain amount of time I can dedicate to the hobby, but while I’m there, I’m nowhere else.   It’s just one of many reasons why I love summer.  I hate the ridiculous heat, but if it were not for summer, I’d be moving in a constant state of speed, rushing, rushing, rushing.  Heat slows things down.      And so I build it, piece by piece, enjoying the quiet of a hot afternoon or late night or morning.

I’ve come to learn a few things about life through this process.  In the beginning, the puzzle is hard.  You are not familiar with the big picture yet.  Over and over again, you must return your gaze to the puzzle box to understand where the piece you’re holding, belongs.  It can feel chaotic.  Frustrating.  So many pieces that fool you.

IMG_5770It’s easy to walk away after a few minutes of not finding one match.   You know when you’ve had too much.  So you take a break.   Breaks are necessary.   All muscles need rest and our brains are no exception.    We are no good when we overdo it.  You have to know when to walk away only so you can come back, ready to solve that puzzle.  Over time, the puzzle begins to take shape.

IMG_5769You must open your mind and see that each piece is unique and the one you are holding may not necessarily fit another in the way you expect.  Sometimes the piece connects upside down or sideways.   Or it’s yellow and it still connects to red.  Surprise!  You cannot believe you  know better or more than the puzzle.  You must follow its lead and open your mind to all of the possibilities of connections.   Kind of like life.  That magical moment always comes.   Suddenly the pieces fit, one by one.  You’re caught off guard because you didn’t see that piece fitting the other like the way it did.  Over and over again, this happens.

You have to keep trying new ways of seeing and doing things.   The moment you stop believing there is nothing more to learn is the moment you stop growing.   There are times when you have to step back and breathe in another avenue of happiness, but in the end, it comes down to keeping an open mind.

I think that’s where true happiness lies.  We cannot lasso and control life. It flows as long as we understand we are shaped by our ability to accept it isn’t supposed to go exactly as we planned.  As we do that, the puzzle begins to take shape.  The pieces become more and more familiar until you get to the point where you pick up a random piece and, without thinking too much about it, your hand naturally moved toward the exact spot it belongs.   It’s as if all of that dedication has begun to pay off.

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And that’s because you’ve earned it.  Your mind stopped trying to overthink, to make it work.  It’s a beautiful process.  And a good life lesson.  Slow down, recognize that there’s more than one way to see and do things and allow joy to spill into your space.

Forest Gump was right, but life isn’t just a box of chocolates, it’s a puzzle, too. ūüôā

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”!

I was feeling a bit colorful yesterday when I saw this ice cream sundae coloring contest in Food Network magazine.


There’s been such a resurgence to the 70’s in the design world. You see it everywhere. Colors, textures and patterns exploding next to each other, macram√© hangers holding long, unending trails of green.  Bamboo. 

That’s what inspires this sundae.  It’s a tribute to the summers I remember as a kid from the 70’s. The summers of color and joy and freedom.   Of being outside all day and at the drive-ins or front yard (capturing lightening bugs) at night.  


It was gritty, too. Food wasn’t so pretty or gourmet. It was hotdogs and hamburgers and corn on the cob. I’m happy for those memories. I hope to make them for my own children. Less Martha Stewart. more Janis Joplin.  OK a little easy on the Janis Joplin, but still.  

Supercalifragilisticexpedalidocious!   

“Welcome Home, Office.”

Patiently, my client and I waited for the day we could return to her home office and finish what we started.

She called me for some help to make her home office feel more inviting and peaceful. ¬† When you work from home, as I often do, you know it’s important to have a space that adds to your day. ¬†One that encourages happiness, which in turn, produces greater creativity and productivity. ¬† After all, it’s not about decorating stuff. ¬†It’s about finding you. ¬† Your best you.

In this case, we started in a lovely room with high ceilings,  pale blue walls with cream, crown molding in the far corner of her first floor.  Truly it already felt private, but it was lacking that connection you need with a space you spend lots of time in.

And one must be inspired to be productive.  The most important question:  What makes you happy?

You must bring it.

She loves everything about the beach. ¬†The colors, the sounds, the shells, the memories. ¬†The place to go with her husband and daughter. ¬†Years of diligently collecting, organizing and displaying these seashells is a passion they share. ¬† Many a wave was taken for a shell. ¬†And I’ve never seen such beautiful shells of all sizes and shapes. ¬† It was clear that we needed to bring the beach home. ¬†In the office, the place they all like to use.

Your bookshelves are that space for you to tell your story, provide memories and inspirations. ¬†In this redesign, we used everything she already had in her home, with exception of some baskets and magazine holders.¬† The biggest change is once again…paint color. ¬†Thanks to an amazing job by Juan Jimenez¬†, those shelves are alive and telling lots of stories.

Check out the transformation in this slideshow.

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My client texted me early this morning. ¬†She couldn’t wait to start work today. ¬†‚̧

That is music to my ears.

Cheers!

Stephielou

Paint color:  Sherwin Williams, Dove White

A Playroom Revisited

It’s a common complain among my clients. ¬†They like most of the furniture they purchased, but it doesn’t feel¬†the way they want it to feel. ¬†And it’s making them crazy.

In this particular case, it is the playroom of a sweet eight-year old girl in Cary, North Carolina.

It’s a spacious room. ¬†Pretty wall color, high ceilings, natural light. ¬†Here’s a look before we made any changes from each angle. ¬† ¬†IMG_2665That’s what¬† you see when you enter the room.

This photo below is from the other side.  Lots of potential to make it more inviting.  She has a beautiful pink kitchen in there.

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Last angle: ¬†this is the wall between the main entrance to the room and the bathroom. It’s time to roll up the sleeves and move a few things, starting with those big baskets and bookshelf.

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I love this part of the redesign. ¬†It suddenly becomes place of movement and laughter. ¬†And lots of lifting, pausing and sometimes moving again. ¬†It’s a process. ¬†And then you just know. ¬†It’s feels different.

Here’s how the room looks now.

IMG_3267By placing the black bookshelf behind the couch, ¬†it doubles as a console and¬†as place to access her books and crafts since it’s in the same area now as her favorite owl beanbag and table for creating stuff.

From another angle:

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Now this eight year old can use this area for pretend play, crafting, or even doing homework.

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By moving the couch closer to the front of the room, it creates two distinct spaces and purposes.  One is for independent, semi-private play, and the other is for family lounging, playing a game or just hanging out. Adding lamps warms up the space and allows for some cozy evening reading and relaxing, too.  The wicker boxes now serve as storage and end tables.  Add a square tray to place on top and it can holds the drinks and popcorn for movie-time.

The best part about this¬†is we simply used what they already had and didn’t have to spend a dime buying more stuff. ¬† Down the road, ¬†that beautiful back wall could be a built-in window seat with storage and shelving on both sides, but for now, I’m told a certain eight-year old girl loves her playroom.

Less stuff,  more connection.  And hopefully more opportunities for the whole family and friends enjoying time together.

Here’s a last look:

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Crustaceans in Cary?

I’ve seen all kinds of critters on my morning walks here in Cary, North Carolina, but this is a first. 


That’s right. Some form of crustacean. Is it a crayfish, a little lobster?   How did it get here?  Cary is at least two hours from the sea. And yet,  on a rainy Tuesday morning, here he is, just walking down the sidewalk in the suburbs.  ūüė≥

My friend’s dog was equally curious.  She cautiously approached only to be greeted by a most definite warrior, ready to do battle. 

Not so fast!  


We took our cue and kept on walking.

Curious though. 

Where did you come from little fella?  Good luck to you little lobster. At least it’s raining today.  

‚ėāÔłŹ

Hawaiian Dreamin’

Decorating or design in a home isn’t just about making things pretty. It’s about creating that space that you connect to. 

The place that makes you feel good. Peaceful. Home. 

This family in Cary North Carolina reached out to me late this summer when they decided that they were ready to bring that sense of peace they loved in Hawaii to their home in North Carolina. It’s an ongoing project, but I’m impatient and just had to share how it’s going.‚Äč  I hope you will watch and get inspired. Is there a room in your place that could use a second look? 

‚Äčwww.the-right-space.com

“Live and die, we’re the same.”

“Live like a Pharaoh, sing like a sparrow anyway. ¬†Even if there is no land or love in sight.”

-The Avett Brothers, “Live and Die”

Think about it. ¬†I know I had to. ¬† Not only are those Avett Brothers talented musicians and incredibly good-looking, but¬†they are wise, too. ¬†That’s why they are this week’s choice for Wednesday Words of Wisdom.¬†¬† ¬†What I take from above line from their song, “Live and Die”¬†¬†is this: ¬†Grab life and live it as best as you can. ¬†Until you die. No matter what comes your way.

That works for me.

It is also what propels me to create a home that provides that lift, that anchor that renews my spirit and just makes my life better.  Imagine if we all took care of our space like our lives depended on it.  I think there just might be many more happier people in the world.

Do you remember that chandelier I found at ReStore Habitat for Humanity a couple of posts ago?

Here it is in the Cary ReStore location, a diamond in the rough.

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Well, I hung it up in the master bedroom at last!  Miracles do happen.

Still need to finish painting the rest of the trim, ¬†but here’s what the space¬†looked before I replaced this not-so-lovely and kind-of-boring light fixture (aka nipple light).

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I still need to finish painting, but here it is!

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Closer view.

img_0746This makes my heart shine.

The house is always a work in progress. ¬†The work is in finding the things that bring you joy and eliminating the stuff that doesn’t.

And now, without further ado, I bring you The Avett Brothers!

Oh and Avett Brothers, in case you see this…

thank you. ‚̧