Bringing Fresh Life To a Home

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As I walked into the Markle’s home, I was greeted by a homemaker who I could clearly see loved making home. The way she mixed trending with traditional, floral with funky, rustic cottage with classy chic was just interesting to me because it really helped me “get to know her.” I loved it! She is what you think of when you think of a “delightful” person! Joy just oozes through her!! But as she described what she felt and saw in her own home, I heard words like … drab, boring, lifeless, … she was not enjoying her home as much as she was wanting to because she felt “stuck” in styles that just weren’t working well for her and her husband’s new home.

They moved to Madison recently and had purchased a home in a beautiful lake front community called Lake Caroline. As much as she loved the home and the view, she was still feeling “dated” in her decor inside the home. So, we toured – we talked – I took photos – and left feeling fairly certain that I understood, not just where she was hoping to go in bringing fresh life to her home, but I understood her as a homemaker. She is fun! She loves art! She embraces color and contrast! And more than anything, she wanted to be comfortable in her home, while also enjoying beautiful spaces.

So, I got busy!  What does that look like? It typically goes like this –

I bring all the photos home and upload them on my computer and begin studying each one. I look at what my client currently owns (furniture, accessories, etc.) and begin drawing up a potential space using those elements as much as possible. If some pieces can be moved to another room, to a new wall, positioned to face incoming light, etc., then I make those changes on the photo. Taking what I “see” in my minds eye and begin “playing” with it on the photos can take hours, but it is the only way I can begin to really imagine what the spaces and rooms could be, based on what my client has asked that it would be when it’s all said and done.

Then, I begin shopping. Shopping online and then making a few trips to some of my favorite places, depending on what I would like to share with my client once we get together again.

Here are Donna’s before photos of the main rooms and spaces she wanted me to help her in recreating.

As I stood at her fireplace and looked out, I saw a lot of dark heavy pieces. Dark recliners, dark sofa, dark ottoman, in the background, where you see the dining space, is a dark round copper top table, dark small console table, and a tall & rice stained antique cabinet. The stain on the cabinet didn’t concern me as did this overall “view”… so much dark woods and furnishings. Keep that dining space in mind…we completely re-purposed it!

II Donna BEFORE family room view

As I came through the front door, I saw a table lined at the bottom with totes spilling over with toys. Loved the sight because it showed she was one prepared grandmother, but right at the front door? And all the knick-knacks on top of the table seemed to be rather busy. The antique table in the foyer was pretty, but too low for an entrance piece and the collection on the wall with the lamp was a little off for me.  The built-in in the family room had items in the shelves, but they were all very small “pretty-pretties” and nothing really balanced the scale of the TV.

II Donna BEFORE foyer

Guest room #1 – I loved the bed linens, however the woods were not working with the fun and funky style rug and bed coverings she had purchased.

II Donna BEFORE guest room 3

As I stood in the kitchen, it was the breakfast area that caught my eye….a long wall with one small sideboard and a run of photos all hung at the same height. With the a wood stained ceiling, it made the room feel “capped off” because there was nothing on that wall that went up, it needed a vertical something.

II Donna BEFORE Kitchen long wall

On the wall opposite the sideboard was a vertical piece (a bakers rack) but because it was not a solid piece, I knew we would still not be accomplishing the look or meeting the storage needs if all we did was swap pieces. And I noticed the oblong table taking up so much of the space, and plenty of “set-a-bouts” everywhere. Again, more art hung at the same levels.

II Donna BEFORE kitchen short wall 2

This shows how the space was rather tight with the oblong table – and the rack only seemed to keep the room busy.

II Donna BEFORE kitchen short wall

So here is where we started….

First, we lightened up the space making a few purchases that she had planned to make within her budget. Found a great 1 cushion sofa and a lightly stained coffee table and a new end table (in photo on right) at Interior Spaces in Jackson, MS. The larger square end table is one she already had, (in photo on left), but I rubbed the entire piece with gold wax. It was a gray metal, now it is all distressed gold and looks much better in the room.

Some of the new accessories we purchased at The Outlet and ordered from Joss & Main and Wayfair. But the goal was to lighten, brighten, freshen up and help her have the space she would enjoy. So, if you look in the back left corner, you will see a peek of what was once her dining room, is now what she really wanted – a sitting room. A “just for her” room, because she is an artist and wanted to sit in that space and see beautiful Lake Caroline. To be able to sit in a space to draw, read, drink coffee and that is what we gave her. (More photos in this post will reveal that special new space of “hers.”)

II Donna Markel house AFTER 1

This is a closeup of what was once a dark gray metal table, is now gold … reflects light and looks fabulous with her simplified decor!

II Donna Markel family room AFTER 3

I don’t have a before photo of the builtins, but if you can imagine small trinkets and lots of books. But now we used what she had to give her what she really wanted…

II Donna Markel family room AFTER 5

Oh, and the animal printed chair that you see with a great small antique table beside it, and the lamp that WAS in the foyer that is now being used….well, that chair was tucked in a corner in their bedroom. I pulled out of their den, a light grayish leather oversized recliner that once was in the same place as the animal printed chair is now and put it in the Master Bedroom.

This is Donna! She is a “mix a farmhouse style coffee table with a fun cheetah printed chair” kind of homemaker!

Remember the front foyer with the table of toys? Well, that table is now in the grandchildren’s room and when someone enters their home, they see this – the foyer table is now behind the sofa displaying two blue vases and a few birds from her Wolfe collection. She had a dark framed art piece above her mantle, and I replaced it with something that would reflect light, and capture attention against the brick background. She has a tasteful mixture of metals in her home so the gold simply worked so well with the copper based lamps.  The candlesticks on the mantle were, again, a dark stained wood….now they are chalk painted a light French Linen and Home Cooked Bread sealed with wax and you can actually see them now against the dark brick.

II Donna Markel Family room AFTER 2

Here you can see the runner she purchased at Farmhouse in Canton, MS. The table needed something to help soften it up since it was going behind a bright neutral sofa.

II Donna Markel family room AFTER 1

And here is her simplified and welcoming foyer – the photo is one of her sons when they were very young sitting side by side, both with smiles from cheek to cheek! The rug we gave a slight turn – when you turn the rug with the flow of traffic, it actually invites people to walk right where your rug is pointing…which in this case, was the kitchen.

The chest of drawers was a yellow and elaborately painted piece, but after Rip sanded it all down, it was time for a very clean coat of Home Cooked Bread – a chalk paint I love to use by Blackberry House Paints.

II Donna Markels foyer

The guest room had these wood pieces that we both agreed needed to be painted so the room would all speak the same language…fun and inviting! The pieces started off like this –

II Donna BEFORE guest room 3

II Donna BEFORE Guest room

II Donna BEFORE guest room 2

Now we have this …

II Donna Markels guest room AFTER 4

II Donna Markels guest room AFTER 5

II Donna Markels guest room AFTER 3

II Donna Markels AFTER Guest room 2

II Donna Markel's AFTER guest room

Next was the kitchen dining area – We moved the sideboard off the longest wall and added a new kitchen hutch because Donna wanted a piece that would be serviceable; a place to store all her kitchen serving pieces, her McCarty collection and set of dishes. Again, this darlin hutch was discovered at Interior Spaces.

II Donna Markels kitchen hutch AFTER

II Donna Markels hutch AFTER 2

The shortest wall was the perfect place for her sideboard. The lamps were a dark metal, now they (along with the lazy susan) have been chalk painted and touched with gold wax. The oval mirror is one we found at a great price at The Outlet in Jackson, but we got a steal of a deal because it was missing the rope that is supposed to be knotted on the side handles and hung by the rope. Rip got his magic hands on it and hung it in the studs because that is one heavy mirror! The round table and chairs that was in the front dining space is now in her kitchen. The bakers rack and the oblong table found a new home on the back patio…it’s a win win!

II Donna Markels kitchen table AFTER

II Donna Markels sideboard AFTER

Lastly, is the room that she and I both had more fun creating …  Now, when you come in the front door and look to the right, you do not see a towering dark antique cabinet with a dark round table … you see a beautiful rug, with matching light-wood and heavy distressed end tables with matching lamps with a small “hers” settee for reading. She bought the double mirrors, end tables and the square centerpiece table at Interior Spaces, lamps from Joss & Main and the beautiful wall hangings are her children and grandchildren. She said, “There is only one thing that must remain in this space and it’s my babies.” Well, there they are, and I went out to her garage and found 4 absolutely perfect floral art pieces and hung them on the wall, too, because Donna likes color. The legs on the chairs were dark stained, so again, a little chalk-painting and I had them fresh and bright! The pillow is over 100 years old and was in her Master so we pulled it out to help bring together all the pops of color and photos of her babies that now decorate the wall in her space — it literally whispers her heart. Peaceful. Inviting. Family. Beautiful. Simple and fragrant with the love of the Lord!

“I love the house where You live O Lord, the place where Your glory dwells.” Psalm 26:8


II Donna Markels Sitting Room FAVORITE AFTER

If you would like some help in your home, I’d be honored! As you look around on Instagram, or Pinterest or even as you watch your favorite TV program that spotlights homes, keep this in mind….this is YOUR home. And it is only going to be Home Sweet Home when you do what only you can do as a home maker — put your heart into your home. And I love so much helping my friends do just that.

You can reach me at lisa@ and I will be in touch within 48 hours.

Happy Homemaking, y’all! Have fun!! Because … it’s meant to be!


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lisa rippy

1 Comment

  1. Lynnette on April 5, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Such great inspiration! Thanks!!!

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