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Traditional Home Blog

I’ve made so many mistakes in my life as a “mad renovator” – many just common sense lapses.  I asked Chip Brian and Mike Daddio, the principals at Design Development, to share with us their expert thoughts on the top 10 most common renovator mistakes.  In looking them over I realized I have committed every single one.  So much for the “seasoned” renovator tag! Design Development... More
When asked who their style icon is, many women answer Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy. Mine is Helen Ballenger, my late maternal grandmother, poised and impeccably slim with a Hollywood smile. Her dark flashing eyes and Alpine cheekbones were often emphasized by a hat. She loved to tell the story of applying for a job at Chasnoff’s, a toney store on Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza.... More
This week’s post gets down to one of the fun parts of renovating – the kitchen. I’ve done many kitchens in the past and it always seems to slip my mind how difficult this process can be until the task is before me (yet again). Designing a kitchen is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  Since my cottage has limited kitchen space, the trick is fitting all the appliances in effortlessly.... More
There are many elements of renovation that don’t necessarily sound sexy or moving. But that’s what I’m here for, to make you realize that things like storage can actually be as delectable as the Met Ball images you’re perusing online. Yes, storage…you heard me correctly. When we moved out of Easter cottage in 2002, we were expecting to buy a house in Stonington, so we moved the entire contents... More
In this renovation—about which you've been reading with what, I'm sure, is bated breath—I know it seems many a disaster has befallen us. But I can honestly say a true one did last week, when something near and dear to my heart had a near-Dumpster experience! Near-Dumpster is to furniture what near death is to humans! There is a piece of furniture John and I have had for almost 20 years: It was... More
We had a big meeting at the house last week with Chip Brian, Mike Daddio and the rest of the blessed team at Design Development. It was the first meeting we had all together walking through the house. Mike—our construction guru—gave us his take on the progress. Lo and behold, good news? It seems even in the midst of our great renovation saga, Mike was quite happy with the progress we’ve been... More
Before I can select the Kohler fixtures and furniture for my bathroom, I have to make some hefty tiling decisions. I’m not so sure why selecting tile is so difficult for me, perhaps it has something to do with its permanence. Then again doesn’t that sum up house renovation in general? If you could snap your fingers and replace the horrendous carpeting you swore looked great as a swatch,... More
While much of renovating can be (in my opinion) as gripping as a Tom Clancy novel (especially if you’re the renovator), some aspects are a little more commonplace. They’re just as important, though, because they set the stage for the entire project. So I’ll try to make this week’s story about our electrical plan as thrilling as possible. Exposed rafters and wiring in the great room... More
Believe it or not, when it comes to renovating, there is a method to my madness. I have created three books that are basically my holy (house) grail! Encompassing all the different aspects of the renovation, I use them religiously for the project. The first book is my Inspiration Book – this is where all things creative coming to fruition in the house first start. Divided up by room, the... More
Progress, progress, progress…there’s a word I feel we haven’t seen on this blog for quite some time. I went to the house last weekend and finally everything seems to be moving in a forward motion rather than the plateauing one you’ve all been hearing about.  Thank you Design Development! The upstairs and downstairs bathrooms are all framed, and the ceiling in the upstairs bedroom is... More