Calm and Collected, 5 reasons a DIY-er Should Hire an Interior DesignerYou are a DIYer, the very definition of which implies you don’t need professional help! You love to make and/or repurpose items for your home. You probably even have friends who come to you for home advice, so why in the world would YOU hire an interior designer, especially an e-designer?!

Sometimes you just need advice. Sometimes you can tell there is something missing, but you just don’t know what it is. You might be great with a hammer, but you’re not so confident about choosing wall colors. I can help you problem solve!

As an e-designer (or virtual designer) myself, let me tell you some ways I have been helpful to DIYers.

I can:

  1. Provide a Professional Assessment– I can objectively assess how your home works or doesn’t work for you. I will see and notice things that you may not and can help you determine what to keep in the space and what to edit out. Do you and your spouse or roommates want different things from your space? I can help remedy conflict and find the best way to marry your styles. I can help you come up with a solid plan of action for moving forward with arranging and decorating your home.
  2. Help You Determine Your Style– Knowing your style is like following a road-map. What color should you use to refinish that dresser for your foyer? Should you buy that squirrel statue at Goodwill? It’s 75% off and would look awesome painted white! When you have defined your style, you can use it as a guide for all your DIY projects. This will help you to know if any item is worth purchasing or revamping and bringing into your home. It doesn’t matter how inexpensive an item is or how easy of a DIY project it will be if it doesn’t reflect you and how you want to live.
  3. Save You Money– It may seem counter-intuitive to hire me to save you money, but see the example above for starters! I can help you keep your budget on track. I can also help you avoid costly mistakes by helping you choose items that are the right size, scale, color and texture the first time around. I’m a DIY-er, too! I think and shop like a DIY-er and I have some good resources that may not be available to you, other than through a tradesperson. I can also help you make changes that will add to the resale value of your home.
  4. Save You Time and Energy– With your photos and measurements, I can arrange and rearrange your room without you ever once having to move a piece of furniture. Space planning is my forte! I have helped more than one client work a baby grand piano into their living room along with all their other furniture!  I can also save you hours of researching products and prices! In just a few weeks, I picked out an entire home’s worth of furniture for a client who bought a vacation house. Left to their own devices (shopping only on their free evenings and weekends) it would have taken them months to furnish their new home.
  5. Coach You While You Maintain Control – I’m a collaborator! I’m not going to take all the fun away from you!  I am going to work with you get the most out of each room in your home. You’re a DIYer. You can still DIY. I’m sure you have tons of ideas. We can compare ideas and elaborate on each other’s thoughts bringing out the best possible outcome. I might have ideas you have never thought of before! Let’s see!

So? What are you waiting for? Shoot me an e-mail: jennifer@calmandcollected and let’s see how we can work together!

So, I’m driving to my doctor’s appointment on Thursday when I get this niggling feeling that my appointment was changed from Thursday to Friday. (Yes, I do things like that… with scarily increasing frequency!) I call my husband and ask him to double check this thought for me and yes, my appointment was for the next day. Luckily, I realized this when I was right near the exit for our closest Goodwill store. Of course, to not waste the whole trip, I decide to check out Goodwill. I walk in the door and right there, right inside the door looking at me is an old classroom type chalk board.  I look around the room thinking someone must have set this here while they shop. I tentatively pick it up waiting for someone to holler, “Hey that’s mine!” No one yells as I carry it to the counter and ask them to set it aside while I look around. It was mine! Oh, and did I mention? The price was $6.97! SCORE!

I knew right where I wanted to put my lovely new chalk board: on a blank wall in my kitchen.Kitchen Refresh Before PhotoI know- it’s really messy. I thought that would add to the dramatic “after” photo. I could have just hung the chalkboard here, but that brown paneling has annoyed me since we moved in 7 years ago. I kept saying I would change it, but not until I had a plan.

Now, I had a plan! I wanted to hang the chalk board and paint the wall. I looked into chalk painting the wall because you can supposedly paint over anything with chalk paint without using a primer. But when I saw the price of chalk paint and how much it would cost to paint this wall? Um, no. I knew I’d leave the chalkboard as is- green with a natural wood frame. My cabinets are white and I’ve been thinking about painting this dresser a different color for a little pop in the kitchen. I needed a paint color that would lend itself to that. In my head I decided on yellow before heading out to the paint store. A creamy yellow, no more specific than that. I’m pretty careful and cautious when choosing paint for a client, but I’m pretty rash about choosing color for my own home! I didn’t even bring a paint chip home. I just looked at all the yellows and thought, “That one!” It is called Rise and Shine by Clark & Kensington. So I bought it and brought it home and got to work with my 6’4″ son who can pretty much reach everything without a ladder! I have to say- it took a coat of primer and 2 coats of paint to cover that terrible paneling. We also had to touch up some areas 2 or 3 more times before it was really and truly covered.

Our kitchen looks so much brighter! I love the chalk board. I’m no chalk board artist, though! I picture this as a great place to leave phone messages, reminders and notes to each other. Now I just have to spiff up that dresser!

Thanks for visiting Calm and Collected! Please pop over and follow my blog with Bloglovin.

When it comes to design, I love textures!  I think I’m drawn to Industrial Design elements because I feel they are often very textural.  One thing I am drawn to repeatedly is pipe shelves!  Pipes and wood!  I’m going to make some for my living room.pipe shelves 1

Pipe Shelves found on the Nerd Nest

I’m having a hard time finding ones out there like the ones I want to build.  I really like the look of this library above  from Nerd Nest, but I don’t want to drill through the boards like they did.

I like the look of the unit below from Joanna Gaines, but I don’t want to attach every shelf to the wall.

pipe shelves 2

Pipe Shelves found on Magnolia Market

Finally, I found these shelves where they don’t drill through the boards or attach every shelf to the wall.  These are what I plan to base my own pipe shelves on:


Just right shelves from Constellation and Co.

Click the Follow button on the bottom right hand of the screen to follow along with me and be notified when I’ve built my own pipe shelves!

_0001Guess where I went on Monday!  If you read the title of this post, then you know:  I went to the Blogger Block Party hosted by HGTV Magazine!  Since my middle son, Matthew has been functioning as my assistant in some of my DIY projects, I brought him along.  (It is surprisingly cheap to take a bus from Philadelphia to NYC!  Both of us got there and back for about $24 each!) Being at the mercy of the bus schedule, we arrived a little bit early and were the first ones there!  So we had time for a few photos in the lobby.


We got our picture taken when we got in and that photo made it onto the big screen where it rotated in and out all day._0003_0004There were stations set up on three floors and speakers/demonstrations every hour. There was a Flea Market Flip contest between Brooklyn Craft Company founder Brett Bara and HGTV magazine lifestyle editor Jodi Kahn.  We were welcomed by Editor in Chief, Sara Peterson:


Laurie March demonstrated a DIY art project using burnt matches similar to some art projects she did in the DIY Network’s Blog Cabin:_0006

Jason Cameron’s talk was a bit more of an infomercial for Wagner paint’s spray gun, but he’s pretty cute, so it was easy to watch!_0010

I actually got invited to the stage with Stephanie Marchetti of the blog Sandpaper and Glue to help Danny Seo make an upcycled home version of Candyland using scrapwood and Wilsonart laminate sample chips.  _0011

We both got a copy of Danny’s book Upcycling: Celebrations and Stephanie got to keep Danny’s pre-made version of the game:_0016

We saw season 7 Design Star winner, Danielle Colding._0013

Matthew and I did the Chinet Challenge where we had 1 minute to do a pretty table setting.  The photos were tweeted or Instagram’ed and printed out and Sara Peterson & Genevieve Gorder judged the best one.  I’m pretty sure we came in second place. 😉
tableGenevieve Gorder shared her thoughts on coming design trends.  For 2016 she thinks we’ll be seeing more of a Scandanavian influence with black and white contrasted and timeless tribal print patterns with an emphasis more on triangles and less on circles and squares. For 2017 she thinks we be seeing a big Cuban influence with tropical green colors and bold leaf patterns with pops of coral-ly pink.

_0014After she spoke, Genevieve posed for photos.  She was very gracious and took the time to chat with everyone in line.  I hate to post this photo because she looks like Barbie and I look like…Mrs. Potato Head, but here it is…

_0015We did some fun activities throughout the day.  We created mini terrariums and painted tiny canvases with stencils.  Matthew won a Snuggle teddy bear by spinning a wheel and naming the flower that the spinner landed on.  We had some fun designing a shopping board on a giant smart board using products from  The event ended with a reception during which Matthew and I hung out in the lounge.  Quite a fun day!




So…here is something we haven’t talked about on this blog yet.  In addition to my design business, I own a retreat house.  You can find it here:  Legacy Retreat House, if you care to take a peek.  IMG_5448

It started out as a weekend retreat house for scrapbookers, quilters and other crafters and has begun to take on vacationing families.  When we furnished it, we put in a luggage rack for every bed figuring no one was staying more than a few nights.  Now with our vacationing families, people are beginning to stay for a week or two at a time.  As I was out running errands one day, I thought, “I really need to start looking for dressers for the retreat house.”  No kidding, on my way back home, there was a dresser on the side of the road with a big “FREE” sign on it!


Of course, I stopped and put it in my van with the help of a nice teenage boy who was riding by on his bike.  It’s an interesting little dresser.  There were originally four knobs on each of the three drawers, but many knobs were missing.  There were three left on the top drawer, one on the middle and three on the bottom.  I really didn’t want to invest in new hardware… and four pulls per drawer seemed excessive, so I decided to redistribute the hardware I had and fill in the holes where I was not going to replace the pulls.

See all the holes for the missing hardware?

See all the holes for the missing hardware?

Let me tell you… this is a really nice, high quality, much-heavier-than-it-looks dresser! Look at the stamp in the drawer and the dovetail joints!

Ethan Allen!

Ethan Allen!

Dovetail Joints

Dovetail Joints











So here is what it looked like after I filled in the holes:


I sanded the drawer fronts and spray painted them with Rustoleum Ultra Cover 2X Spray in gloss white.  The dresser top was looking a little beat up, so I decided to sand and spray that, too.

_0013_0005While the paint was drying, I tackled the hardware.

With salt and lemon juice...before adding the Bon Ami. Compare the top three to the bottom one.

With salt and lemon juice…before adding the Bon Ami. Compare the top three to the bottom one.

The knobs are real brass.  The pulls are brass plated.  Not that it matters, you clean them the same way.  First I tried a little Bon Ami, a natural cleanser that we use for cleaning our copper bottom pots and pans.  That didn’t really do much.  So I tried a mixture of salt and lemon juice with a tooth brush.  That did a pretty good job. THEN…I added the Bon Ami to the salt and lemon juice…score!








Look at that hardware shine in the photo below!





And lastly, a photo of the dresser in it’s new home:

photo 1 (2)Here’s a before & after side by side:





What do you think?

As I was putting together a summery front porch I noticed we had two rather large “blank” walls.And from the other direction...I realized that if this room was an indoor room, I would hang art on those walls.  I thought, “Why not?!?”  I had the perfect way to do it, too!

When Hometalk asked me to curate a board of budget DIY wall art ideas, I found an idea that used a shower curtain to create art.  You can see that project in the graphic below: the one with the whale.

My very own pinnable graphic! Please pin it!

My very own pinnable graphic! Please pin it!

The problem with this particular version was that it is an indoor project using a cloth curtain and a wooden frame.  I didn’t see any reason that it couldn’t be adapted though! I knew I could use a plastic curtain, but what to wrap it around?  Why not foam core?  It seems kind of indestructible.

Here are my supplies:

3 pieces of foam core, a shower curtain and packing tape.

3 pieces of foam core, a shower curtain and packing tape.

I bought 3 sheets of foam core, the only plastic shower curtain at my local Walmart that fit my decor, and a roll of packing tape.  I wanted 2 pieces of art in 2 different sizes.  For the smaller wall on my porch, I used the foam core as is ( 22″ x 28″). For the much larger wall, I decided to attach 2 boards together making a piece that is 28″ x 44″.  My middle son helped me! We taped the boards with the packing tape and added additional support with 2 used paint stirs from our basement (free!).


Attaching 2 pieces of foam core with 2 paint stirs

When I opened the shower curtain it was very wrinkled and full of fold lines.  This is the one step I would do differently next time:  I decided to use my steamer to get the wrinkles out.  It did get the wrinkles out, but the steam also puckered the curtain in a few places when it got really hot. I’m not sure HOW I would do it it differently, but I wouldn’t steam it next time.  Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments!

We just cut the curtain in two pieces and then further cut it so each piece was slightly larger than the foam core pieces.  We wrapped the curtains tight around the boards and taped them to the back with packing tape.  I taped down all the loose edges, so no bugs or debris would be able to get inside- this was especially important here because my shower curtain is actually clear on a white board.  The curtain is not white.  Any speck of dust that would get in there would be visible.

And the finished product:




With a different pillow…

I hung them with sticky back Velcro squares:  4 squares on the small one and 6 on the big one- not because they are heavy, but because I didn’t want the wind to take them.  The package said “For indoor and outdoor use”.

I would love to see if you decide to try this yourself!




Several weeks ago my friend Maggie posted a photo of her front porch on Facebook.  I could NOT stop thinking about it!  She wrote “And just like that, the best room in the house is once again open. Lemonade, good books, cocktails, and sweet dreams all happen on the porch!”  Look what she did. It’s so simple and relaxed:

Inspirational image of porch with day bed, rug, 2 chairs and a samll chandelier

Maggie’s Summer Porch

I begged her to be a guest blogger here and share what she did, but I couldn’t persuade her. So I copied her (in theory) and will write about it myself!  LOL!

So, first I had to analyze what was calling to me in this photo.  What was the essence I wanted to capture on my own front porch?  What calls to me is:  the privacy, the coziness and the inside-comes-outside feel of it.

I decided I needed to copy:  the curtains, the bed, the rug and the soft chair–the chandelier might be a bonus.

We do have an extra twin bed in our house. However it is currently located on the third floor in our walk-up attic and I was pretty sure I could not convince anyone in my home to bring it down for me for a few months and then bring it back up.  Our dusty old swing would have to suffice.

porch before with a table, chair and bench swing

Our porch–before

The curtains?  That was easy!  I found sheers at IKEA for $3.99 a pair!!!  Our porch has a very high ceiling, so I was worried about finding something long enough.  These are 98″ and I figured we could always cheat them down a little.  The sheers are 100% polyester, so they should last outdoors for a few summers.  Not a bad $8 investment!  We own property elsewhere that is loaded with bamboo, so we got a few long stalks of that to use as curtain rods= free!

My middle son helped me cut the bamboo to the right length and hang the curtains.

Son cutting the bamboo with a hand saw

Cutting the bamboo

Once we hung the curtains they began to blow in the breeze and they either blew up and out eliminating the privacy they were supposed to provide, or they blew in and buried anyone sitting on the porch.  I was going to try sewing washers to the bottom, but the only ones that were heavy enough to fight the breeze were going to put a whole in the curtain.  So… I sewed them down to the porch railing!  I sewed them only in the middle and on the end of each panel, so they still flutter in the breeze- just not into your face!

before shot-curtains blowing: after shot- curtains sewn down

Before and after shots of the curtains

Then we discovered the power washer!!! Oh, what fun that was!  We had never used a power washer before.  We borrowed it from my mom and everyone wanted a turn.  I wanted to get the dirt off the floor and take some of the gunk off the swing.  Wow!  The swing went back to it’s original wood tone.

A little trip to HomeGoods netted me a cute orange side table, 5 pillows and a small rug–all for under $135!

Score! A rug, 5 pillows and some kind of vessel that I will use as a table.

Score! A rug, 5 pillows and some kind of vessel that I will use as a table.

Next, I  needed chairs.  I decided to take an old, old one from my bedroom and make it an outdoor chair. (At least for the summer on the covered porch.)  Then driving home from work, I noticed a neighbor had a chair out on the curb.  It looked like an office chair that had been left in the rain so long, the finish wore off the wood and the fabric was a very dirty blue. I transformed them both, but we’ll talk about that in an upcoming post.

I think I will do a chandelier of some sort.  I’m not sure what yet, but here is how everything turned out so far…

The finished product.

The finished product.

And from the other direction...

And from the other direction…

Oh- what do you think of my out door art?  It was less than $20 for both pieces!  I’ll talk about that in an upcoming post, too!

_0031Happy summer!

Do you remember the Up-cycled art project that I posted on here a few weeks ago?  You can click the link here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The finished product hanging over the bed.

The finished product hanging over the bed.

It has garnered beaucoup attention! I mean, like, SERIOUSLY! I posted it on a new website that I found called Hometalk.  (The website is not new, but it is new to me!) My project was seen by 24,000 people in the first three days.  THEN Hometalk featured it in their daily e-mail and the views doubled!!  Look here!  As of this writing  my project has had over 53,000 views! Over 600 people have pinned my project on Pinterest!  That is CRAZY!  And the COMMENTS!  I am getting such a kick out of the comments.  Some people hate my project.  One lady used the words “insulting, appalling and shameful”.  If you know me, then you know no one has ever applied those words to me or anything I’ve ever done!  And so many people jumped to my defense.  It is so entertaining!  It slays me that people bother to take the time to point out to me that they don’t like what I’ve done. I’ve found the whole thing to be a hoot!

Anyway… THEN, Hometalk asked me to curate a “Clipboard” of Budget Wall Decor featuring other projects found on Hometalk. It was soooo much fun!  I found so many great ideas!  I will definitely be trying some of them.  So after I chose the projects, Hometalk made me the cutest little pinnable graphic!

My very own pinnable graphic! Please pin it!

My very own pinnable graphic! Please pin it!

Isn’t that cute?!?!  All my project ideas in one portable little place. I love it!  You can click on the picture above and it goes right to my clipboard on Hometalk.

Have fun looking at the projects and let me know if you try any of them!


Yep. You read that right!  Someone in the apartment building next door was throwing away a love seat.  You can’t tell from the photo, but the arm on the left was broken.  I waited a week to see if anyone wanted to claim the love seat as a love seat, but no one did.sofa

The love seat was covered in microfiber fabric and that stuff is pretty-near indestructible.  I’d been thinking about getting some to recover our dining room chairs.

The morning of trash pick-up, I went out with a utility knife and cut the microfiber off the love seat.  I was surprised to find it was largely constructed of cardboard! I know- I should have taken a picture of the naked sofa, but it didn’t occur to me at the time.  I brought the fabric in the house and threw it right into the washing machine.  Did I mention that stuff is practically indestructible?  Although I knew I could wash it, I wasn’t sure I could dry it, but I was anxious to get started.  I threw it in the dryer on low and kept an eye on it, taking it out when it was just dry.

So here is a before photo of one of our chairs:Old chair

Before Shot- the plastic is ripped and the seat is stained

Before Shot- the plastic is ripped and the seat is stained

Our dining set was given to us by a friend.  The friend’s mom had them covered in the plastic when they were made.  Over the years the plastic began to stretch and then tear.  Time for a change!

I unscrewed the seat from the frame and pulled off all the plastic and the welting around the bottom of the seat.  I laid the seat face down on the back side of the microfiber, pulled it taught and stapled it to the bottom of the seat.  Then I screwed the seat back into the frame!  Ta! Da!

Our new, practically indestructible seat cover.

Our new, practically indestructible seat cover.

 Trying something new! I’m linking to the October Blog Hop on