Posts Tagged ‘interior decorating’

I’ve been reminiscing a lot lately.  Can you believe that 10 years ago this month a very shy, 29 year old girl launched a business called Amazing Transformations?!  Me either!   And boy have I been TRANSFORMED!

Here is just a small sampling of how my life has changed over the past decade:

1.  Met my trainer, mentor and dear friend JoAnne Lenart-Weary who encouraged me to follow my dream to create beautiful spaces.


2. Launched my business Amazing Transformations.


3.  Made weekly/monthly appearances on NBC56 news in Tyler, Texas.  (Yes this very shy girl actually asked to be on live television and they said yes!  Not sure if I would be able to do that now. :))


(No, I did not have the opportunity to decorate the set.  I sure would have liked to!)Image

4.  Had the privilege of working in all levels of homes across the country.

Here are a few examples:









5.  Opened 2 different studios (one in Texas and then one in Oklahoma) to teach decorating classes.  Oh how I loved that season of my business!  It was so fun to share so many decorating tips with my friends and clients.


6. Started writing Transforming Tidbits on a weekly basis in 2007.  I continued to faithfully write almost every week for about 3 years straight!  But because of #7 (see below), my ability to write as frequently, dwindled quickly.

7. Went from longing to be a mom (and having great difficulty becoming one) to becoming a mother of FIVE! (through the gift of adoption and fostering)


8. I began the homeschooling journey with my oldest two daughters.  I have to admit, although I never saw myself ever even considering being a homeschool mom, I can’t imagine my life any other way now!  I have enjoyed growing closer to my daughters and learning along with them.  I will say, this year certainly has its challenges with also raising three little ones 2 and under.  You can usually find them right on top of the dining room table while I work with the older girls.  At least I know what they are doing, right?! 🙂

9. About 1 1/2 months ago, I rid my home of almost all processed foods and started a very challenging but exciting adventure of eating whole foods.  As you might imagine, eliminating processed foods leaves one having to do a lot more work in the kitchen.    You may be asking yourself…”Why in the world would this open adoption, fostering, homeschooling, decorator mom even think about adding this to her already full plate?”  I know it is crazy, but I am finding it is totally worth it!

You see, about 6 months ago, a very dear friend who is just a few years younger than me was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Through her journey, she shared with me how much the food we eat affects our health.  She made the choice to fight this ugly disease through diet and I am pleased to say she is winning!

Once you learn information in life, you are then responsible with what you do with that information.  Well, what I learned has motivated me to make a huge change in the way my family eats.  It was tough changing at first, but now I can’t begin to express how amazing it makes me feel!  I have renewed energy, my clothes are much looser (woo hoo!) and best of all, my husband says I am more beautiful than ever before!

10.  And probably the most significant change, I am content with who I am.  For a long time, I was driven to be “known”.  Known as an amazing decorator, known for working with people I highly admired, known for writing an amazing blog, known by the world.  But now, 10 years later, I couldn’t be more happy.  Now I am a wife, a mom, a teacher, and a homemaker who occasionally decorates and I wouldn’t change this privilege for the world!


As I enter my 39th year of life, I can’t wait to see what the next decade has in store.  I have a hard time imagining being able to top the last 10 years!


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Remember about 3 months ago when I started this swell little article about my experience working on the “House of Hy” project with the Pioneer Woman’s great friend Cyndi and said something like…”Be watching next week for part two.”?  Well, here it is, Part II!

Really the timing of this follow-up is very interesting for several reasons. First of all, exactly one year ago tomorrow I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Cyndi in person at PW’s first book signing and this exciting journey began.  Secondly, just yesterday the Pioneer Woman posted the final pictures of the completed room and gave me a wonderful shout-out on her website (be looking about 2/3 of the way down)! And thirdly, my husband asked if he could take the older kids with him to work for the day yesterday which gave me opportunity to finally write part two!  I just love how everything works out in just the right timing!

So when we left off last time, I shared how I had been emailing back and forth with Cyndi about her room, usually after a new update was posted. We had the most fun writing back and forth.  It really did not take long for me to understand why PW loves her friend so!  And then it happened!  I received this email…

“If you did want to trade some design work for a PW shout-out, I will
need to put stuff on the shelves next to the mantle, and I’d love your

Well, needless to say I was ecstatic and wrote back immediately. Talk about perfect timing, it really did come to play so many times during this adventure.  It just so happened that the very next week my kids would be heading to their grandma’s for a visit and Cyndi’s schedule was open and she was willing to get together.  I was headed to her house to decorate!  I couldn’t stop pinching myself.  I was so excited! J

Have you ever dreamed about something for a long time and then when it is about to actually become reality, start to get a little nervous? Well, that was me this fine June day as I headed to Cyndi’s.  Don’t get me wrong, I knew I had talents and abilities, but here was an opportunity that I am sure many decorators wanted to get their hands on and I just couldn’t believe that I was the one actually getting to do the work.

Cyndi is such a beautiful, fun-loving and kind person. She had me relaxed very quickly.  After all, it was time to quit being nervous and get to work!  But before I actually began to “decorate” it was important to me to visit with her a bit to find out exactly what she wanted her room to “feel” like when it was finished.  I asked her to describe her ideal finished room in 3 to 5 adjectives.  She used words like: non-traditional, bold, artistic, and uncluttered.  I am so glad I did not skip this step.  It actually surprised me a little because some of the proposed designs for the bookshelves throughout her room redo were completely different from the description she gave me. Although her style was different than mine, I knew I could give her exactly what she desired now that I had a clear picture of the direction to take.

She also toured me around a few rooms in her home and she showed me a collection of items that were available on the dining room table as well as a couple of closets. I’m so glad she waited to “buy” additional items.  She really had oodles of great stuff to work with!

So here is what the bookshelf area looked like the day I arrived…

Her plan was to purchase glass shelves as soon as she found out how many she would need. For the time being, she asked me to use the existing wooden shelves and then she planned to replace them.  We were about to install a shelf so that I could get started and then discovered that they didn’t fit!  Turns out, the thickness of the glass installed in the back of the shelf was just thick enough to make the original shelf too deep to reinstall.  No problem!  Cyndi just picked up the phone and called the local lumberyard and asked them to trim the shelves down.  While she was gone, I decided to start choosing the artwork we would highlight.

In the past, Cyndi had used many traditional baskets and books in her shelves. She really wanted to do something different this time.  She had always had a love for fine art.  She herself had taken some art classes as well as (if I remember correctly) having a brother who is an artist.  As I mentioned before, she had so many great pieces to work with.  Now it was my job to narrow the field down.

Several weeks before, she happened to pick up some round, black, metal message boards. As soon as I saw them, I knew they would make a great “backdrop” for the art pieces we chose to display.   To install them, we used heavy duty double-sided adhesive foam.  One thing I quickly learned when using this project, be certain of where you want your item to hang because it will hang tight!

By using the adhesive, we were able to create a wonderful arrangement using a limited number of shelves (only one per side).  As you might notice, the arrangement was simple but so striking! I just wish you could take a personal tour.  My pictures just don’t do the room justice.

I’m sorry this photo is so blurry, but I did want to point out a couple things. First of all, on this side we used the metal dot to hang a piece of artwork using magnets.  I loved how the painting brought a little “pop of red” (the accent color) across the room and I thought using the message board instead of a “traditional” frame was just the whimsical touch the piece needed.  On a side note, the artwork was originally “too white” for the arrangement especially since the painted woodwork was “cream” colored.  To tone it down a little, I had Cyndi water down some black acrylic paint and gently wash the gray color over the painting.  It was an easy and quick fix!

Secondly, I created an unexpected 3-dimensional frame by placing a metal planter on its side and placed a favorite sculpture inside.

After completing the shelves, I did have the opportunity to also assist with hanging artwork throughout the room and gave a few suggestions on the completion of the window treatments.  It truly was a phenomenal day with a new friend!  Thanks Cyndi for letting me tag along on the journey!  The finished room looks tremendous!  You really should take a moment to check it out!

And the moral of the story:  Don’t give up on your dream, it may just become reality!

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A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I wanted to begin a series showcasing the stories that different furniture and accessories hold. With my upcoming 8th anniversary, I have found myself reviewing the archives of my wonderful experiences working in client friend’s homes and was reminded of this memorable story. 

Disclaimer:  Please be mindful that we are going way back…year 1 and 2 of my business, and I have become a much better decorator during the years.  I am seeing a few things I would do differently today! 🙂

Several years ago I had the opportunity to work in this home.  The mantle was an extremely challenging project for numerous reasons. First of all, the mantle itself was extremely narrow.  Secondly, the space above the mantle was enormous.  And to make it really tricky, an angle was thrown in!

The homeowner had no pieces of artwork large enough on their own to fill the space so I had to be creative. 🙂  I began to look around the home for items that related to each other by either color or subject matter to fill the space.

After a period of deep thought :), I came up with the decision to arrange several “whimsical” items. The homeowner had a fun personality and lived in a quirky house (the house alone, designed by a bachelor,  has quite a story) so it seemed like a great solution.  As you might notice, I hung the pieces of artwork over the mantle to follow the angled ceiling line.  By doing this, I created a small space under the “Lizard Mona Lisa” that needed just the right piece.  This was a tricky area to fill especially since the mantle was so narrow.  I simply began to collect items I thought might fit the space and tried them out until I found just the right one.

Do you see the small red suitcase by the blue arrow above? Well, this was one of the said items I thought I would try.  Honestly, when I put it up there I really wasn’t crazy about how it looked but before I could take it down the homeowner walked through the room.  Immediately she shared her approval and couldn’t wait to share with her daughters.  You see, this small suitcase belonged to her sweet daughter that died over 40 years earlier at the age of 8 or 9. It meant so much to her to have a special reminder of this child front in center in her living room.  As you probably have figured out, the suitcase stayed.  There was no way I would remove it once I heard the story.  In fact, I don’t think there could have been a more perfect finish to the arrangement!

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About a week and a half ago my thirty-something brother-in-law finally married a most beautiful bride in a picturesque chapel in the country.  It was a wonderful celebration of two lives coming together.   Our family honestly never dreamed my brother-in-law would ever marry on a count of a doctor’s diagnosis over 6 years ago giving him only 5 years to live.    As you can see, with lots of prayer,  he not only beat the doctor’s diagnosis, he also overcame a non-curable disease.  This wedding was truly a special occasion.

With any beautiful union of two thirty-somethings, there is the need for the union of two households and I was honored to officiate the blending of the two!

You might recall me telling you about my brother-in-law’s house in which I staged to sell last October (remember…the one built right behind a pork processing plant).   Well, it was a tough sell, but he did manage to sell it right in time for the wedding.  🙂

Now that his things were moved into her home, the new couple was a little overwhelmed by all the stuff.  Their solution…ask me to “fix it” while they were gone to Tahiti! 🙂 Great plan in my opinion and I was excited for the challenge.

Because of having a new baby and kids to home school, I wasn’t able to stay in town long enough to address all the rooms on this trip but I was able to create a relaxing retreat in their bedroom and and inviting living room while they were away.

You know it really is fun to work in a home while someone is gone:  shop for them (with their money), creatively arrange their beautiful things and hope they are happy when they come home. 🙂

Here is how their living room looked when I arrived…

The first action…clear the room. There were so many wedding gifts and artificial greens it was difficult to see the space I in which I was to work.  Actually, my first action was meeting with the new bride the day before to ask her about her desires for the space. This really was the most important step because I could work all day in their home but if it wasn’t a good representation of the two individuals coming together, then I would have failed no matter how ‘beautiful’ the room might be.

Some of her desires included: reducing the amount of greenery, using the prints she already had hanging in the space, and see if I could figure out a way to add another chair to the seating arrangement.  Other than those items, she was leaving all the rest of the decisions up to me. 🙂

I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to work with her stuff along with my brother-in-law’s things. I have arranged his things about 4 other times in various houses he has bought and sold through the years.  It was nice to get my hands on some ‘new stuff’!

By shifting the sofa to be parallel to the tv and moving the leather chair and ottoman to the left of the fireplace, I was able to create a larger entrance into the seating area as well as make room for an additional chair.  I also went shopping and purchased a floor lamp to add ambient lighting to the space.

Here is another viewpoint of the room…before

And after…

The end result was a beautifully decorated, simplified space reflecting his, her’s and our’s…

and the beginning of their ‘happily-ever-after’ story.

PS:  A big thank you to my sweet husband who helped with all the heavy moving and handyman tasks necessary during this project.  I usually do all the work on my own but I was simply too exhausted this time.  This baby created lack-of-sleep is slowing me down a little these days. 🙂

P.S.S.  And their reaction to the marriage of their two homes…they said ‘We Do’ (love it)!

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Hi all!  I’m glad to be getting back to a fairly ‘normal’ way of life…that is a new normal. 🙂  Fortunately, I am learning to function on a different level of sleep and still get most things accomplished that I used to before the baby came along.

It amazes me how life often inspires my weekly Transforming Tidbits and this week was no different!

A couple days ago, a friend did me a HUGE favor by helping me with a gift that I will be needing to give at the end of the week and then blessed me even more by delivering it to my home!  She had never come to my home before and she said the sweetest thing which caused me to think about sharing with you, my Tuesday Tidbit friends.  She said…”Isn’t your home decorated so nice.  It looks just like you!”

I have been chewing on the last statement for days. As I thought about it, she was right.  My house does look like me!  And realizing this fact has made my day.   I have achieved a great thing!  It isn’t that I have spent a lot of money or created the ‘designer look’ in my home, rather my home reflects me.

If you came to my home today, I do think you would learn a great deal about me by just looking around. For example, you would probably figure out my favorite colors by looking in my office or kitchen.  Just take a look and see if you can figure it out…

Yes, my favorite colors are pink and green. They have been my favorites ever since I was a little girl.  Now the shades have varied some during the years, but they remain my overall favorites.

How about my favorite season? You can probably figure that one out by looking at my living room, especially my sofa.  See what you think?

If you guessed FALL, you would be correct!

And if you looked at the dresser in my entry hall,

you would discover that I’m not a fancy person. In fact, my husband often stops me and encourages me to get out the iron to press whatever it is that I already have on for the day.  I absolutely don’t like to iron, not because I dislike ironing, rather I find that what I iron looks worse after I have ‘pressed’ it than before.  🙂

If you look very closely throughout my home, you will find little items which represent so many stories of my life. In fact, if you stay long enough, I am probably going to tell you a few! 🙂

Actually this thought brings me to a new idea that I desire to launch in the next few weeks.  I believe that everyone has an AMAZING life story. The difference between a famous person and a regular guy on the street is simply that one story has been heard and the other hasn’t.   Because of the nature of what I do, I get to hear many wonderful stories while decorating with the special treasures of people in whose homes I work.   So what is my idea you ask? It is simply this.  Over the next few weeks, I would love to highlight a personal story of several of my readers and the way we will discover what story to tell is by looking at some decor item of that person’s home. I think it could be great fun and just imagine what inspiring things we will learn about each other!

So, what does your home say about you?  I would love to hear what your walls have to say!

Happy Tuesday Friends!

PS:  If you would like to participate, shoot me an email (jennifer@atredesign.com) with a picture of a decorative item and a short story connected to the piece.  I can’t wait to see what you have to share!

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Several years ago I had the privilege of assisting my dad with an art show. He had a good friend hanging the art and I was her assistant.  I am so glad I was asked to ‘help’.  I learned more about how to hang a ‘gallery wall’ in that one afternoon than in any class I have taken.

This hand’s-on training came in handy this week during a consultation/redesign job. My client initially called me to give her decorating tips about a couple rooms in her home. But as happens so often, I couldn’t keep my hands off this wall.  I just knew it could be even more AMAZING!

The husband of this household is an talented photographer. He had the most beautiful collection of photographs, of which he earned many awards (I’m very sorry that my photos don’t do his photos justice.).  I could tell they were important to the family.

Most of the time, I don’t enjoy hanging art on a paneled wall. Often paneled walls make your art feel ‘boxed in’.  This was one paneled wall that was a perfect fit for my client’s photography.  Just look at how beautifully the photos are displayed now!

Isn’t it beautiful?! Nothing new purchased.  We simply used photos from around the home, a few nails, a hammer and a tall ladder to make a huge difference.

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What fun redesigns I had last week!  I so enjoy getting back to the ‘grass-roots’ of redesign…arranging the furniture and accessories one already owns.  Together with several clients, we solved problems and created beautiful spaces.  You should definitely try it sometime!

One client invited me to help her with her master bedroom.  Her main desire for having me come was to help her arrange a sitting area and hang artwork, but it was a spontaneous conversation that caused me to be most delighted.  We haven’t actually completed the project but I am so excited and can already ‘see’ what a difference the proposed solution would make that I had to go ahead and share it with you.

The above photo represents the ‘sleeping’ area of the room.  As you might notice, the windows behind the bed are much taller and wider than the window on the side wall.  In the past, the homeowner tried hanging a valance but took it down because it just didn’t look right.  I’m so glad she followed her ‘gut instincts’!

What you can’t see behind the curtain is a transom type window which is mounted above a standard set of French doors.  The combination of these two elements is what makes this ‘window’ so large in comparison to the side window.  (On a side note, this very large room happens to contain two sets of French doors.  The homeowner never plans to use the set that goes on to the front porch so she opted to maximize the space and place her bed in front of them.  The curtain panels create the illusion of a large ‘headboard’ in this huge space.)

As you can probably guess (if you have followed me very long), I encouraged the homeowner to mount the curtains of the side window at the same height as the curtains behind the headboard.  By mounting the curtains that high, we will be left with a fairly big space to fill between the trim and the curtain rod.  Just look at what we plan to do…

(curtains have been drawn in using Photoshop)

We created a faux transom window with a mirror the homeowner had stored away for an opportunity such as this.   To finish the window off, the homeowner will look for long deep brown panels that she will hang 9-12″ on either side of the window to create a wider window.  She plans on buying enough matching panels for the other two windows in the room so they will be consistent.

Won’t it look GRAND!  I can hardly wait to see the finished result.

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