Home decorating · Opinion Piece

Finding Our Way Home

Blueprint of Success
Blueprint of Success

My family and I have been in the same house for 16 years.  Two of my children have never lived in any other house.  As someone who moved so often when she was a child, this is an unreal fact.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved moving so much as a child–it was an opportunity to start over fresh somewhere new.

I also hoped that each new house would hold my dream bedroom, but they never quite did.  One house on Levering Mill Road in Bala-Cynwyd, PA came very close.  The room had this black and white shag carpeting and the walls were a thick, real-wood knotty pine.  The ceiling was sloped and the bedroom had a walk-in cedar closet with its own window in the back on the right.  I always used to slide out that window with a friend and sit on the roof staring at…well, the roof of the garage and a really tall pine tree.  Not much of a view but an excellent place to throw crab apples into the mean neighbor’s driveway!

The room was dark and cave-like which for an introvert for me was perfect.  The room wasn’t big but it was big enough for me to fit everything I had.

Our houses were never very nice because my mom was a single mom raising two girls in an insanely expensive area outside of Philadelphia.  This area was known as the Main Line.  My dad was as close to deadbeat as you could get back then, so we mostly survived off my mom’s salary which meant that things were oftentimes secondhand or from the flea market.  Those same things I considered junk are probably all antiques and worth a small fortune right now.  My mom had a good eye for selecting pieces and there I was thinking they weren’t good enough because my friends all had mansions with live-in maids who cleaned vases from the Ming Dynasty.

I was always embarrassed about the houses we lived in.  I never brought anyone home unless I really liked and trusted the person.  Very few people were fully let into my life.  The combination of being a poor introvert living in a rich neighborhood meant it was usually pretty quiet come Friday and Saturday nights at my house.  And that’s probably why I snuck out through a window somewhat often via ladder to go see friends in their homes.

But I digress.  I wanted to talk this morning about finally getting to a point where it’s time for a remodel of the home I’ve been in for 16 years.  I am so excited because after waiting for so long, it looks like it’s finally going to happen.  We hired an interior designer for the job because my husband and I figured out that we lack talent for interior anything, let alone a remodel.  We’ve handed over the position to Michelle Strausbaugh of Reveal Studio.  My husband and I were referred to her by a planner at Pirch located in La Jolla after I “revealed” that I didn’t think our current designer was going to work out (turns out I’m a mind reader.  Our other designer quit the next evening).

The first meeting with Michelle was just a meet ‘n greet.  We took her on a tour of our lower level and told her what our house dreams looked like.  She took a lot of notes.  Michelle gave me some homework of looking at kitchens on Houzz.com and creating a portfolio which I didn’t because I’m not very good at homework!  I thought by sending over the model home that that would be enough but Michelle wanted a more complete picture of my personality, not just one facet.

The second meeting was for measuring the remodeling space and talking more about house dreams.  Michelle and I drove over to the model home my husband and I want to copy and we went room by room looking at everything.  She encouraged me to tell her everything I liked and didn’t like.  She got to know me so well that she could tell me why I liked one thing and didn’t like another.  Seems like Michelle’s business should be called Intuitive Studios!

Michelle pointed out a couple things in the model home kitchen that I hadn’t noticed before.  One was a bank of cabinets that was so boring; she told me how she would have created the space and it not only made sense but it would have been so much better.   The builder should have hired her! Had she not mentioned the boringness of the wall of cabinets, I would not have noticed the range hood and realized I didn’t like it.  I was able to communicate that to her and tell her that I wanted something more eye-pleasing.  The hood the designers used in the model was nothing but a couple of stainless steel pieces put together.

Viewing the model with Michelle was such a great exercise–we got to chat a bit more, get to know each other better and she got to see in living color what it is I like and what I don’t.  She demonstrated her artistic ability through describing how she would have made something better.  I think this was extremely beneficial to me because I became more sure of Michelle’s talent and eye for design.

After two meetings with Michelle, I am sure she is going to turn my house into a home.



NOTE:  The opinions are my own.  I am not receiving any compensation or gifts.  My only goal is to document the process of going from a bland, blah house to an aahhhh house.


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