This all started very innocently with my husband seeing great value in a silent auction item at a Brookside Mothers’ Association fundraiser. As we viewed the items, he caught my arm and said, “We should really try for this one. Coffee and bagels, cheese and wine fore five friends, that makes it worth it right there!” Fortunately, I had not had too many adult beverages at this point and knew to just play along. I really wanted to win it because I could use the help of a professional designer in our home but whatever he needed to believe was fine with me. So sure enough, my wise husband stayed close to the auction table and won it for me. What a sweet guy!
The package was for a Room Redesign by AJ Miller of Ready, Set, Gorgeous and included:
- Consultation with AJ Miller to select the room
- Coffee and Bagels for 5 friends of the room BEFORE
- AJ Miller’s time to redesign the room
- Wine and Cheese at an AFTER reveal party
We met with AJ and selected our living room for the redesign. As many friends know we completely remodeled our house last year. I am willing to say that I think I am good at designing the hard spaces of a home. Things like where to remove a wall or how to layout a bathroom, etc. But I freak out when it comes time to pick out the soft elements like a lamp or picture or a rug. I often just buy something neutral or NOTHING at all. We have lived here a year and in my entire house, I had hung up 9 pictures total. Three of which are over the toilet in the master bath and are a black square that matches the black squares in the tile work on the floor.
Sorry, I digress… to sum it up, I have:
- Confidence issues in my abilities to pick out nice things that go together
- Commitment issues due to my husband’s need to keep everything we ever buy for the rest of our lives
- Clutter phobia which likely stems from spending my workdays in the mindset of staging your home to sell fast!! The less is more concept to show off square footage, keep your home neutral to appeal to the largest number of buyers, etc.
As I tell my real estate clients, LIVING in your home is very different from SELLING your home. Well, it was time to embrace LIVING in this home!! Here are the before photos of our living room.
As you might guess, we have a baby. He is 10 months old and spends a good amount of his day in this room learning and playing with his nanny. It may be less obvious but we also spend many dinners in this room trying to keep caught up on the Kardashians and the most recent Shark Tank episode. Those dinners have been painful, since I typically spend them sitting on the floor next to the coffee table trying to balance eating with keeping the baby from cracking his head open on something.
A final thing we struggled with in this room was feeling like we had room for more than ourselves and two guest to sit and feel comfortable. It always felt a bit awkward.
Now the AFTER photos…
It has been over two weeks and the room still looks like this. Seriously, there are not kids toys everywhere again. She found a new home for them as well! We have not changed a thing! I cannot tell you how much I love this room now. For the first few days, the only thing we wanted to do was go be in this room. It is incredibly relaxing and fits our family life so well. I now have a place to sit and eat dinner or work while Maxwell plays on the floor. I also love that the table is right by the fireplace. We often light up a fire for dinner which is always a nice touch and will be great for the next romantic dinner.
So some people may be like, wait you went and bought all new stuff!! This is not true. We had the majority of these items in our house. She basically took the couch, table and brown chairs that I had crammed into our sunroom and moved them to the living room. She was amazing at finding things in other rooms and closets to use. She also insisted on going to the basement and garage to look at other things we may have that could be used. Here is a list of the only NEW items, that I picked out and purchased:
- Two lamps (on end tables)
- Black table lamp
- 2 silk ruffle pillows
- 2 small rectangular pillows
AJ was very generous and helped with a few more spaces. Here is our sunroom now. It is home to the baby toys and the couch that use to be in the living room.
This room has also been used so much more than before. We often come out here to play with Maxwell. The doorway is wide enough that you can still watch the massive TV and feel as though you are in the same room.
Another one of my favorite changes was that she re-purposed our china cabinet that I was struggling to find a use for in this house. She removed one of the shelves and it now sits in the entryway, housing more pictures and some keepsakes.
One thing I appreciated about AJ was that she did a great job of communicating that we would not hurt her feelings if we did not like something AND she asked great questions. One of those great questions was if there was anything that was really important to us that we wanted to make sure there was a place for at the end of the day. This picture has a big back story for me and Tim. She found a great place for it that allows us to walk by daily and remember how this whole love affair started…
AJ was great to work with and used so many things in ways I would never had thought of. We were able to chat throughout the day and I learned that she is great about being thrifty in designing spaces so you do not have to spend an arm and a leg to make something look great.
Here are a few other things she taught me:
- Pillows with down inserts are better for getting them to fluff and look pretty. But you can always just purchase a down insert pillow for $10 to replace what comes with the pillow. We used old down bed pillows that I had upstairs in storage.
- Curtains are great for hiding diaper pails.
- When you are trying to figure out where to place a TV in a room you should group it with other main features (example: fireplace) this way you do not have to split the room up to make them both a focal point.
- At Home Goods you should always purchase now and return rather than return to purchase something.
I wanted to thank AJ from the bottom of my heart. I am so very grateful for my new living room. I cannot wait to have her back to help with other rooms in our house. She has an amazing gift!!!
If you are struggling to think of a gift for a loved one… hiring AJ for a few hours may be the biggest and best gift you could give that person. AJ is happy to walk through rooms with clients and make suggestions of things homeowners can do to improve the design of their home. EASY THINGS like move a couch…
Here is AJ’s contact info. Happy holidays!