Happy New Year!

Hey All.  Sorry for the extended absence, but not to worry, everything is great over here.  The past month + has been spent with family cherishing the good life.  On top of a very merry Christmas and New Years, we celebrated my dad, Andrew’s 60th birthday.

Last year was a year of contemplation- which direction to take the business, how to grow and plan for my dad’s eventual retirement, and how to make my own life happier.  I think my lack of blogging had a lot to due to the lack of clarity in my own life.  While I’m not going to sit here and claim I now have it all figured out, I will say this; life is good, business is good and I’m excited for the future.  2014 holds a lot of exciting projects and adventures for DM and also marks my 10th  year in the business!  I plan to share all of it more regularly along the way. Until then, here a few shots of me and the fam.

Happy New Years, friends.  Hope you’ll stick around for the ride.



stein pic - med

Papa Bear and his clan

eliana nay santa- med

pelegs goofy- med

bec nay baking- med

stein sibs

parker clan silly- med

eliana and grammy- med

Living {Real} Life

Lately I’ve been noticing that I’m living my life a little differently. Whereas in the past my free time has been spent decorating my home and blogging all about it, recently I just don’t care.  I guess I’d rather be gardening in my new yard, taking really long walks with my pup, exploring my spirituality, or finally learning how to cook.

I started blogging four years and one month ago. When I first started I was just a twenty-something dreaming to break into the decorating business and since then I’ve learned and accomplished more than I ever did at Penn State University.  In the past few months, with business being more busy than I can even manage, I’ve been feeling a bit like I’ve graduated to the next phase.

But can I really graduate from blogging? Can I give up the community and validation? I have to admit that I worry if I’ll still be relevant. Will any magazines want to publish my Cottage?  Will I become the design superstar I always wanted to be?  Does it even matter?  Will press and validation make me happier and richer?  How am I supposed to balance it all and enjoy the true pearls of life?


living room fireplace before

{My fireplace wall; the week I bought the Cottage}


Real Life

I just had the most wonderful weekend.  I hosted my high school best friends and we had our own intimate reunion.   Spring has finally kicked in here in Philadelphia so we got to have lots of outdoor time both in my own back yard and exploring the farmers market, shops and watering holes in my adorable town.  Highlights included an after-hours dance party in my kitchen and some really really terrible karaoke.  I’m totally tone deaf and apparently all my high school girls are too.  The best part though, was just connecting with old true friends and sharing my home with them.  The Cottage was built with entertaining in mind and I’m just so grateful that I have dynamic, intelligent, hilarious, authentic people to come over.

naomi and friends in kitchen

reunion fireplace shot

naomi and friends on sofa

I’ve so enjoyed the break from the blog to catch up on client projects and just enjoy a little real life.  I’ll be back to blogging soon with a mix of Cottage updates and client project reveals.  Posts may be short and sweet for a bit, but somehow I doubt you guys will mind.  In the meanwhile, you can probably spy a few real life house details above.  Not finished, not perfect, but dayum I love it!

Scenes from Mexico

Mexico was amazing.  Pure Heaven.  The first two days, in typical Me fashion were purgatory.  I was totally sick and the weather was cold and rainy and let’s just say my spirits weren’t high.  (Literally, I couldn’t drink while my whole fam took advantage of free unlimited cocktails.)  But then the sun came out and I got a strong Mexican decongestant and had a perfect 5 days.   I flew on a trapeze, climbed a sacred pyramid,  swam in pristine waters, kissed fat baby cheeks, ate dessert every day and just tried to soak in the beauty as much as possible.  I love my family so much and it was such a treasure to spend time with them in this relaxing magical setting.  I got back last night and am ready to dive back into LOTS of work, but I hope I’m able to hold that peaceful Mexican spirit in my heart just a little longer.

scenes from mexico

I tried to embed a dorky video of me on the trapeze, but I still don’t quite understand this wordpress site.

You can see it HERE if you want 47 seconds of acrobatics.

Going on a trapeze has been one of those random Lifelong dreams for me.

Since I’m a former competitive gymnast, I thought I would kick ass, but I was surprised at how terrified I was to do it!

Sadly, I won’t be running off to join the circus, but at least I stuck the landing.

Cottage Update: The Part Before Being Put Back Together

I bought my little cottage on September 18th and in a matter of weeks the DM team had done some drastic renovations.  (See here, here and here)  I was optimistic and excited for my new home and my new beginning.  As I was a pro and had an amazing team behind me, I had little doubt this total gut job would be a piece of cake.  Yet something happened in late October, right around the time my home was stripped to its studs; I fell apart.

I don’t know if it was the impending holidays, my own personal fiscal cliff (ie in typical fashion, the renovation budget went thru the roof,) my personal design doubts, or the extent of ungratuitous work that needed to be done, but I lost all joy in the renovation.  Buying a house and diving head first into a massive project just two months after ending a long term relationship may have slightly contributed to my state of depression.  Looking back now, its all quite clear to me, but at the time I was surprised and upset with myself that I couldn’t enjoy the process.    

1- I could look up at my kitchen ceiling and see my empty bathroom

2- Brand new plumbing pipes and electrical wiring inside my kitchen ceiling

3- Blown-in Insulation will keep my cottage cozy

4- My new 200-amp electrical panel was an expensive but necessary addition

It just seemed like each time I visited the cottage more things were torn apart.  Weeks would pass, walls would come down, we would break to work on real (paying) projects, then come back and tear more things apart.  My dad was amazing throughout the whole process.  He re-wired the entire house (as in every single wire in the house,) and meticulously ran all of the duct work to avoid awkward bumps and soffits.  (He knew his decorator daughter would just about die over an unsightly bump-out.)  He was patient and loving in the way only a father can be as I changed my mind, added work, fretted over details and kept hounding him for a move-in date.   

My dad took such pride in transforming my 100-year-old cottage  into a mechanically new home.  He would excitedly show me my new plumbing pipes and I would feel like a terrible bitch that I couldn’t even fake half his enthusiasm.  I was ok with feeling depressed- I believe we need to experience lows to appreciate our highs- but it killed me to think he might feel I wasn’t grateful for all his hard work.  I understood that important stuff goes on behind the walls and floors to make a solid home but it didn’t feel like it would ever come together.  People would ask me about the house progress and I would feel further guilt that I wasn’t more excited.  I was sick of the hard work; I just wanted my happy ending.

1  I thought demolition was over, but then I decided to remove the dividing wall up in the 3rdfloor
2 A fancy high efficiency air conditioner was built into the eaves of my roof

3 My dad surprised me by ripping open a wall in my master bedroom.  
He saw more space- I saw more mess.

4 Ceilings were torn down and walls were built to accommodate my HVAC Ducts

But throughout the whole process I had faith.  Faith it would get better and faith I would feel better.  It started slowly- first it was the stairs, and then it was the bathroom tile.  Now I’m happy to report that my cottage renovation is moving along at super speed.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve gotten drywall and wood floors and now it’s time to start thinking about scheduling movers.  I’m surprised that we have gone from tedious to transformed so quickly and amused that I suddenly feel so patient and zen with the process.  As for myself, I feel fantastic.  I’m so hopeful and excited to begin my life here.  I’m ready to take on my next challenge- decorating- but I also don’t feel rushed or stressed to get it done.

I know this mechanical stuff isn’t the prettiest, but it was such an essential part of the process that I wanted to share it with you before we get to the fancy Afters.  Next week, stay tuned for some big changes.

This post is dedicated to my father.  A man who cares about the things you don’t see and will always go over and above the call of duty for his family.  
I Love you, Dad.

Me and Dad, around 30 years ago.


– Plan thoroughly ahead of time.  Making changes mid-construction increases stress and delays the job

– Have a job calendar. Knowing a timetable helps you manage your expectations

– Communicate with your contractor.  I was able to discuss all ideas and doubts with my dad and that made the process much easier.

– Have a retreat.  If you are staying in the house during the reno, plastic off a room where you can escape from the dust and the mess.

– Don’t get hung up on the _____.  Things will go wrong or not be exactly as you imagined.  Flexibility is essential in staying sane.

– Wine or whatever your preferred poison is makes everything better.

– Don’t renovate a house to get over heartbreak.  Or do, if you must, but it won’t be easy.