Domestically Distinguished

Designed | Staged | Sold

The Reveal: The Daughter’s Room

Part two of completing my daughter’s bedroom was the fun part.

My lovely child volunteered (under protest) her room and gave me carte blanche to stage it in such a way that would be appealing to buyers.  I still tried to keep in mind that she has to live in and be comfortable there.  Also of great importance was BUDGET.  I had none.  I bought nothing new, just pulled from items I have tucked away.  Even the paint I used was leftover.  Without further adieu….

(I’m still working on getting better pictures, there is so much natural light in that room it always comes out very washed out).

After staging


I went through a couple of iterations of accessories below is look #1.


In case you forgot here’s where we started.Yikes.

I started with layout.  Moving her bed under the window and pulled off the wall slightly added floor space and added some visual space.  I painted the wall behind her bed SW Comfort Grey, the desk next to her bed got a coat of BM Revere Pewter and the knobs were spray painted satin nickel.  I hung discontinued Ballard Designs panels that are nearly identical to these (below) from Pottery Barn.  I moved them from the master bedroom.

Alternate View

The bedding was existing from HomeGoods. Pillows on the bed are from a local vendor at a nearby antique market.

My goal was to create a space in a way that I would for a staging client on a budget – using only what they have on hand and working toward maximizing the spaces’ good features. Here that meant highlighting the high ceilings, natural light, and hardwood floors.

If you have questions, or would like to know more about staging and real estate email me at



Domestically Distinguished Gets Official


As a facet of my real estate business I recently became a certified Home Staging Expert.  Interior design/decor is something I’ve always been passionate about and is an enjoyable creative outlet for me.  It made so much sense to add this credential to my name and add it to the list of services for my clients and others.

In spite of the fact that most areas of my home are in a constant state of design flux there are a few highly neglected rooms. The first room (in my own home) that desperately needed some attention is my teenage daughters bedroom.  Short on square footage, storage space and wall space this room has always been a challenge to organize and keep looking nice.  Well, frankly impossible.  Between her packrat ways and my willful denial this room was a disaster.  Just look…



Step one was declutter and organize.  No small feat.  She hadn’t gone through her stuff since we moved in several years ago and it had really started to take on a life of it’s own.

The easiest method that I’ve ever used for decluttering is just to keep it simple. Donate pile, permanently store pile, and trash.  As we went through each item it either went into one of these piles or got organized and put away.

Deciding what to trash is pretty simple.  I use the 6 month rule.  If you haven’t used it or seen it in 6 months is goes to donate or trash.  If you are emotionally attached to it and aren’t ready to part with it for the time being but don’t need access to it – perm store.

To add some dearly needed storage to the room we bought a great wardrobe (Brimnes) from Ikea.  This added essentially a whole other closet space to the room.  It made a world of difference for little cost.


With the mirror to reflect a little light and the white of the cabinet it takes up relatively visual space.  It houses her day to day items and current seasonal wardrobe.  Her actual closet is behind the door, so the two doors back into each other.  A definite design flaw that makes it more difficult to access the items in the closet so it made sense to delegate that closet to lesser used items.

After the arduous task of getting the clean up done I was exhausted.  We put the wardrobe together, cleaned as we went and it took ALL day.  We decided to take a break and come back to the design/staging portion the next day.  Which I will also do now, and share the process and after pictures tomorrow.  Lots more to share but all in good time.  🙂

Fearlessness + Pumpkin + Gratitude

In the honor of pumpkin everything, and the fact that I had the ingredients readily available, I made this bit of amazingness.

Almost Paleo Crustless Pumpkin Pie 

Not baked                              Baked

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One of my biggest pet peeves is when recipes don’t first tell you what temp to pre-heat the oven, and what type/size pan to use.  So…325 for lightly greased, glass 9″ pie pan.

1 Can Pumpkin

1 Can Sweet Condensed Milk (could use the lower fat version, lower sugar version etc.I will try whole fat coconut milk next time to make it #whole30)

1/4 Coconut flour

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp vanilla

2 Eggs

Pour well combined ingredients into pan. Bake for about 45 minutes or until butter knife comes out clean in the middle. Mine was lightly golden on the edges.

I (again) modified a recipe I found online.  The coconut flour and vanilla were not in the original recipe.  I’m not a huge pumpkin pie fan, I actually hate pie crust of all kinds, and the texture is just too mushy for me.  The coconut flour made the texture a cross between a flour-less cake and regular pumpkin pie. It turned out divine and pretty healthy as far as pies go.

On a totally unrelated to food note over the course of the last year my life has had some major shifts.  I changed careers, my kid started homeschooling, my other kid graduated (early I might add) from high school, my husband got promoted and changed jobs, and a few other personal issues and one radical change in the last month that I will discuss another time.  Through all of that, clarity,and refinement has occurred in all areas of my life.  Finally I feel as though I know what my gifts are, what I’m passionate about and how to parlay them into my career.

Since we met my husband has praised me for being fearless.  I honestly didn’t know what he was talking about.  Things I did, my reactions to life, and the direction of my thoughts didn’t seem fearless to me.  Slowly over time I’ve come to realize he’s right.  That it’s actually one of my spirit gifts.  I’m so grateful for it, that it comes naturally, and mostly because it is what makes me a powerful encourager of others.

Fearlessness doesn’t necessarily mean jumping out of airplanes or skiing out of a helicopter.  It can simply be not being afraid to ask a question, or not being afraid to kindly say the hard thing.  It is also not taking anything personally.  I’m not afraid of anyone’s reactions to me, whether or not they like me.  I frame my thoughts, and my life around what I want, I treat people with kindness, and allow the Universe and God to do the rest.

I am grateful for all of you who read my little blog.  I’m just getting started, there is more to come.


Fall Decor, Painting and Puppies

Fall is just my favorite season in Georgia.  The weather is perfect for outdoor activities and the evenings are cool.  It seems especially long (compared to MN) because the leaves don’t begin to change usually until the end of October and the temps stay mild into November.

In the spirit of fall I’ve begun phasing out some of the seafoam blue. I still love it but were on a break for a bit. It’s no easy task as much of my decor, pillows, candles etc are that color.  So without breaking I did some painting, hit up Homegoods and moved a few neutral items around.

One of the major changes was painting the doors dark and the kitchen walls BM White Dove.  The kitchen was formerly SW Sea Salt (arguably the best color of all time), but changing the decor and leaving the walls was not an option.  After I painted the walls it was pretty white.  I’d been debating painting the doors for quite some time.  I’ve done it in other homes and loved it.  But our doors are really tall and I was worried about it being too dark.  So I just went for it and it turned out great.  I used a Martha Stewart color Seal, they used to carry it at HD, but they’ve phased out that paint.  They can still make it though.

kitchen white kitchen doors

I re-used fall garland from Target that I bought last year for the mantel.  Still not sure it’s working there.  I’m thinking some white pumpkins and green hydrangeas will happen.

fall decor mantelLR fall

You can barely see her against the grey fur pillow but we’ve added to our fur family.  Little Izzy came to us as a foster with a sister.  Her sis got adopted right away.  After a few introductions to other familes,Izzy picked us.  We just couldn’t imagine her living with anyone else.  And the other two love her.

dogs fall


We are Souls with Bodies, not Bodies with Souls

We are at it again!  Today we are starting fresh on Whole 30 as a family.  The chicken is pre-made, the eggs baked in muffin tins are done, and the fridge is stocked with veggies and fruit.

I am much better prepared this time than the last and have a cache of whole 30 meals to try.  This time I am starting off with a hybrid of Whole 30 and the Quick Weight Loss Phase 1.  Basically for the first few days (until you reach your desired weight, but not longer than 7 days) you eat 2 eggs for breakfast, 1/2 orange for a mid-morning snack, leafy green salad and lean meat for lunch, 1/2 orange for afternoon snack and green tea, dinner is leafy greens (cooked or raw) and lean meat.  All the food is whole 30 so killing two birds with one stone here.  I will share recipes as I go along.

In addition to my usual work out regimen I am incorporating evening meditation and yoga.  You can use your thoughts for you or against you and historically this has been where I struggle.  So this time I will be filling my mind with gratitude for my healthy body, and loved ones, victorious thoughts of my next road race and nourishing my soul along with my body.

In addition we have decided to put our house on the market.  For those of you who have sold a home while attempting to live in it you feel me here.  It is tough.  The cleaning doesn’t end, and you have to be able to get the kids and dogs out on a moments notice.  We aren’t exactly certain where we go from here, planning to stay in our current neighborhood, but don’t have a real plan.

Since the house is on the market it seems to makes sense to FINALLY share a quasi-home tour.  I already need to update a few of them, things change fast around here!


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Your Style vs. Resale Value in the Kitchen

With the real estate market heating back up and interest rates staying low a bit longer many will decide now is the time to sell and move up, take out some equity and renovate, or make their first investment into real estate (either new or resale).

As I have mentioned in previous posts, seldom do we plan to stay in homes until they are paid off.  It’s time to start looking at decor with that perspective. In the same vein as last week when I had bathrooms on the brain having recently been in a few BAD ones (brand new too I might add).  This week it’s kitchens.

Bathrooms and kitchens are two core areas of your home where careful thought and consideration should be given to resale value and sell-ability versus your personal style, particularly when you are buying/selling(staging), renovating, or building.  As with bathrooms there are ways you can blend your own style with sellable, enduring kitchen selections that won’t turn people away when it comes time to sell, and if you are a buyer/seller then consider the below breakdown when you see a kitchen that doesn’t line up with your taste.

1) Classic, neutrality in permanent fixtures. Cabinet doors should be in a style that has endured, like the photo below.  This also applies to flooring.  Wood and tile are the primary choices for a kitchen space.  As kitchens tend to be incorporated into living spaces these days flooring will likely be continuous throughout the space. Making neutral, go-with-everything choices will be particularly important.  Buyers/sellers – Cabinets and floors are expensive to change.  If you LOVE the layout of a house but HATE the style choices of these areas try to factor the cost of replacement into your decision.

I love these…

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These are some timeless door style options.  (I will get to color options in just a minute)


(photo courtesy of

2) Counter Tops – These days in newer homes, and most renovated resales people are using solid surface counters; granite, soapstone, marble, silestone etc.  There are many beautiful choices and some that are very style specific.  If this is not your forever home stay within the range of neutral, minimally patterned stone.  Loud colors, and patterns will only appeal to a certain group of people which could affect the sales audience for your home.    The below pictures are some popular, timeless, neutral choices that have tons of style.

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(Pic 1 is Quartzite Luce de Luna Pic 2 is Soapstone and Pic 3 are Granite)

3) Choosing appliances – stainless steel.  That’s pretty much all you need to know.  Stay in keeping with the price point of your home.  Buyers will expect stainless steel and the cost of those upgrades will pay off in spades.  AND buyers will expect high-end appliances in high-end homes so keep that in mind.

4) Light fixtures are an area where you can inject personal style into a home.  They are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace. I love these.

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5) Cabinet hardware is another quick change item that can pack a major style punch.   Knock yourself out with personal taste in this area, but do try to make the whole aesthetic cohesive.  Buyers and sellers, overlook the hardware, it’s relatively inexpensive to replace and easy to DIY.

6) The world of cabinet color is a rabbit hole.  Rather than a suggestion I have words of caution.  Stay away from anything too bold, like Red or orange-y tinted stain or paint, and avoid color fads.  If you’ve ever watched an episode of Property Brothers on HGTV you know that changing the color of cabinets really isn’t that hard, while not cheap it isn’t cost prohibitive either.   When it comes to buying or selling I wouldn’t consider cabinet color a deal breaker.  If you are happy with every other aspect of a home but don’t care for the kitchen cabinet color just keep in mind it can be changed with a little money and/or effort.

In this fluctuating world of real estate the homes that move are those that are priced well, and have model home appeal (aka. neutrality).  By focusing your personal taste on those items that are easily changed, painted or removed and keeping the permanent fixtures of your home classic and neutral you will be maximizing your homes’ value and sell-ability!

Happy Decorating and House Hunting!

6ed7e70e9e9339ca2b7188cc84c104ec 8a8df542cc9bc311e1b89c4dfcf568c9 97eed671a9312a1b1812d9a5974586b0 22367566b2ea6d289ae91b0d9f4d1bd5 a2b1a36b5517de34f0cc8edd9ced4d37(Some of my favorites from my Kitchens board on Pinterest)




Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July!! I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the soldiers out there, those still fighting, those retired and those who didn’t come home.  Specifically, my sweet Pops, who fought his tail off in Vietnam 212 Infantry Delta Co 1969.  Love you Dad!  Thank you for your sacrifices I know they were many! I love you!  And my beloved, thank you sweetheart for your service! You are loved larger than life!

After such a long bloggy break it’s fun to be back blogging about one of my greatest passions and one of the reasons I started this blog, décor, specifically décor for the purpose of maximizing a home’s value.

I recently became a licensed realtor.  Something I should’ve done long ago as the profession combines my desire to help people and my love of all things home and design, and it’s something I have been doing in my own homes and for friends throughout the years.

Without going into a long litany of houses I have decorated, redecorated, staged, and sold fast for top money, suffice it to say I’ve had success with each home and/or project I’ve worked on.  (Sadly because it was before I even thought about doing it professionally I have no before and after pics.)

There is a whole internet full of tips on designing a home, staging a home etc.  Today I’m going to offer suggestions you may never have heard before.  In fact are likely the opposite of what you have been told.  At the moment I’m going to focus on one of my favorites, bathrooms, but these tips also apply to other areas of your home and should be taken into consideration when selling, buying or building new.

So, lately I have been in quite a number of homes in a wide variety of price ranges, styles, and ages.  In so many of them there was a stand- out theme; bathrooms ranging from no way, to meh.  We all know how bathrooms can affect a homes sellability or value.   They are expensive to renovate, difficult to DIY, and so easy to get wrong.

Let’s face it in today’s economy the majority of America does not stay in the same home for their entire lives. The big house you thought you needed when the kids were little no longer makes sense when everyone heads off to college, the awesome loft intown that worked in your early 20’s presents some challenges after the first kiddo comes along, job changes that keep you moving from city to city every few years, people move around, sometimes a lot.  These days it makes more sense to carefully consider the future before you make choices or changes to your home.

We all want “our style” in every room, and I know we all have great taste… but everyone’s taste is different.  You will never appeal to all people all the time, and appealing only to yourself could land you with a house you can’t re-sell, or something you hate in a few years.  Making choices that take into consideration the taste/needs of a future buyer while allowing for some personal style is the way to go.  There are LOTS of ways to do this.

One way is classic, neutrality. At least in the permanent fixtures.  If you want a wild, colorful bathroom, use wallpaper and paint.  Don’t use your grandmother’s crushed teacups and grout for the countertop.  Stick with neutral, classic tile and fixtures that will stand the test of trends and time, then choose wallpaper, stencils, and paint to put your personal stamp on it.

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These bathrooms have flawlessly integrated personal style and classic fixture choices.  If I walked into any of these houses I would not be calculating how much it would cost to replace all the tile, fixture, lighting and cabinetry, but simply thinking that wallpaper removal or paint is all that’s needed.  The one caveat here is that if you know you are going to be in your house forever and have money to burn do whatever you want, with whatever you want.  These suggestions are intended for the budget conscious and/or design challenged.

Another way is accent tile.  Slightly more expensive and difficult to change but a great way to inject your flair while keeping most things neutral.

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(all images from

I have had the opportunity to build a couple of new houses.  Through good decisions, mistakes, and ignorance I have a lot to say on the subject, but will stick to bathroom advice today.

1) Don’t settle for builder selections.  Go out, shop and supply what you want.  Builders tend to upcharge when you “upgrade” your tile, lighting, flooring, etc.  Were you to go out and purchase those same selections they may be less expensive.  With that said, shop for deals and sales on what you want, supply it to the builder (in their timeframe) for installation.  A builder’s flexibility to do something like this varies so make sure you vet this possibility with them when choosing a builder or in the very early planning stages.

2) The upgrade threshold…you don’t want to upgrade yourself out of affordability, nor should you under-upgrade.  The base selections for builders will vary significantly from one to the next.  I am a firm believer that you can do a lot with a little.  So consider slightly upgraded tile laid in a particular pattern, with some accent tile, or bordered. Consider very neutral tile on the walls, and putting something different on the shower floor.  If you need ideas is the answer!

3) Upgrade your faucets, shower door, and door knobs.  They seem like small things but can make such a HUGE difference, not to mention are challenging if not impossible (think bath tub faucets) to replace without considerable expense.  Satin nickel, and oil rubbed bronze finishes have stood the test of time and are offered with most new construction. (Tip #1 also applies here-many builders will let you supply these items and you may even be eligible for a credit – but CHECK WITH THEM FIRST).

Realizing that there is an entire design/decor industry that is built upon personal style and my advice may be in opposition to the industry line.  This advice is intended to increase the future sellability of your home, and help you appeal to a greater audience when it comes time to make a move.  Maybe even give your choices longevity and endurance…with that I leave you with a few of my favorites.

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Furniture re, re, rearranging







It’s about time I share a dirty little secret with you.  I am a compulsive re-arranger.  Sometimes it is for good reasons, the holidays for example. Other times it just feels necessary. An end table here or there, this chair for that etc. It’s evolution.  As we have lived in our home (right at a year now) each room goes through a transition as we learn how best to use it, live it in, love it etc.

Below are photos of when we added the dining table to the family room for Thanksgiving.  It was the best way we could think of to accommodate all of our guests.  Though not in this picture we added two more small “kid” tables.

The kitchen opens to the family room so we were able to seat folks at the island, and tables.  It worked out great!  Then we had to move it back…

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Just this past Sunday we rearranged again.  This is for the most part how it is the majority of the time, with the exception of the very large Christmas Tree.


IMAG0232_ZOE006_SHOT living room


These pictures were taken before I re-accessorized so they are devoid of personality, but you get the idea.  Soon when I get all of our before and after pictures in one place I will show you how far we’ve come in a year.  Nearly every surface painted including kitchen cabinets, chairs recovered, items repurposed… Sometimes when I think back on it I bow my head in gratitude for such a patient and willing husband.  There’s a break in sight dear! I Promise!  April to October is no projects time.  We (mostly) successfully did that last year and it gives us (mostly him) a break from the demands of household stuff, and leaves our weekends free for fun for a while.

This room has gotten painted, the doors, and fireplace (until we replace it) surround painted.  The walls are BM Baby Fawn, the french doors and fireplace surround are BM Stonington Grey.

The couch on the right is the Carlisle from .

The one on the left is from .  The coffee table is from, it was called Renata.

From the Thanksgiving arrangement the table is a repurposed one hubs had painted BM White Dove, and a Martha Stewart dark gray, it was charcoal something…I will find it and add it later.

The skirted chairs are from – we love these chairs.  They were a great price and have the look of a higher end chair.  The bench came from a local store, Outrageous Interiors.

The lattice backed chairs were re-purposed as well.  I blogged about it a while ago, it can be found in the home decor section.

This home has been a labor of love.  It loves us back I like to think 🙂  It is becoming very reflective of who we are as a family.  That’s my favorite part.  It shows all who enter a bit of our love.





Nerdy Newsletter Take Two

carly dinner

Carly just published the follow up blog posts to her inaugural post some time ago.  Her writing is so funny and unique.  Though I don’t share her Dr. Who/Star Trek/Sherlock fangirlitis, the style is hilarious and so her.  She would love some feedback from the bloggy world!



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