Designing in Stages – Step 2

Designing in Stages – Step 2

I previously posted about working with a client to update her lakeside home with new furnishings and finishes.  (Designing in Stages – Step 1)

This was a very special project because it started when my client had made the decision to make changes with her home after the loss of her husband.  Changes to a home can be emotional after a loss but can also be helpful and even therapeutic in the transition to their new reality.

Here is the rest of the story…

As we were wrapping up with the first part of the project, my client started dreaming about a 3 season porch and deck to extend her living/entertaining space.  It was something that she’d had in mind for some time and she found that the time was right to move forward with it.

We started by taking some measurements and doing up some drawings to see how everything would look before connecting with AZER Renovations to get estimates.

Our goal was to keep the views of the lake with lots of windows and include cozy furnishings for family and friends to relax in while visiting.

Exterior Deck Before

The sliders and windows above were all to remain in place while a new, enclosed deck was constructed.  While the work was underway, we refined the furniture plans and went shopping.

Furniture Plan for 3 Season Porch

This time, we worked with Stephanie at Coastal Furniture on Dover Point.  She was great about showing my client pieces that fit her requirements, were super comfortable and she eventually ordered a combination of traditional pieces and rattan.  Here are the fabrics and wall color we pulled together:

Furniture Fabrics & Wall Color

The finishing touches were completed in the space…including a gorgeous pickled paint ceiling treatment and arched windows throughout:

Pickled Paint Treatment on Ceiling

Large Arched Windows with Views of the Lake & Deck

Small Arched Side Windows to let in the Sunlight

Now, there is plenty of room for visiting, relaxing and even the option of sleeping on this beautiful porch that overlooks the lake.

Cushy Chairs Around the Windows

Additional Storage Closet with Conversational Seating

Sleeper Sofa with Existing Trunk

It’s so great to help homeowners update their spaces but more important to me is being a part of the personal transitions that they go through in the process.  Its projects like this one that remind me that it is my purpose in life to help others through a part of their life’s journey and I treasure every moment of it.




304 Dover Point Road
Dover, NH
(603) 749-0808



Chris Pike & Eric Bygd

Newmarket NH, 03857 | 603 534 3946


North Berwick, ME

Phone:  603-312-3252


State Farm Insurance – Office Update

State Farm Insurance – Office Update

I was contacted by Aileen Dugan from State Farm Insurance earlier this year to evaluate an office space which houses two of her employees.  She has made changes over time to this space, including the wallpaper installation, custom window treatments and new carpeting.  What we were focusing on with this project were the workstations (new furnishings & arrangement) and a new wall treatment (to coordinate with reception area).

Our first step was to work on the wall treatment to coordinate with the reception area – which had had a chair rail added and a darker color painted below.  It was decided that the wallpaper on the lower wall would be removed and a dark color of paint would be used.  It was a color that worked well with the Reception area, the existing window treatments and the large scale artwork that was remaining in the room.

Dugan Before














The next step was to create a furniture plan using an existing desk and storage unit (that were in a different part of the building) and a new desk that matched as close to the existing as possible (wood tone, edging and hardware.  A group of drawings using straight, L-Shaped and U-Shaped desks were presented then narrowed down to the final arrangement – seen here:

Dugan Arrangement

After the desk size was determined, it was placed on order and the focus went to ordering the side chairs.  New chairs that were similar to the Reception area chairs were purchased and it was decided that one per desk would work and keep costs down.

You’ll notice in the “after” photo that the artwork was given a new, silver toned frame that really highlights the colors from the painting and gives the office a contemporary look that mirrors the new furnishings.














Small changes can make a big difference in every space – whether it is residential or commercial.  This was a great example of using existing furniture and design elements as the starting point to create a plan to update a room.

The biggest perk of my job is that I get to know and work with such great people. It was so nice to work with Aileen and her wonderful staff, Cleo, Michelle and Scott!

For more information on how Parker House Design can help you update your office space, contact us here.

Home Staging 101:  The 90%

Home Staging 101: The 90%

Did you know that only 10% of people, including your perspective buyers, are able to visualize how an empty room would look when furnished?  The same applies to rooms that have an overwhelming amount of furniture or distractions (clutter, personal items).

This means that 90% need to be “shown” how rooms would function for them in order for your listings to seen at an optimal level – both online and in person.

Master Bedroom

In this example the “before” photo was the first impression, seen in the online listing.  It was benign with no sense of space.  If buyers had moved beyond the online view, to do a physical walk through, they may have wondered:  “Will our furniture fit in here?” or better yet…”How?”.

With the addition of a bed it made it obvious to the buyers the a queen or king bed would fit in the room comfortably with plenty of room for dressers and more.  It softened the space and created a more inviting feel.  These are the emotions that you want to capitalize on when you are selling.  You want them to feel like they just walked into their new home.

Conversely, here is an example of a room with an abundance of furniture and busy patterns:

Before_After Craft Room

It was hard to “see” how spacious the room was because it had been filled with furnishings that were not in use.  It was recommended that the seller pack away their personal items and move the excess furniture pieces to storage to open up the room.  One end of the room is a great craft area, complete with an island and plenty of storage while this end of the room now shows a study space as well as a bedroom with the use of a futon.  It is very clear to buyers that this room is very versatile.

If you want your home to stand out among the competition, keep this statistic in mind as you prepare for your listing photo session and subsequent showings.  If you have 10 potential buyers come through your home, make sure that you are visually reaching all 10, not just 1 of them.  Your chances of receiving an offer will increase significantly if you are reaching everyone!

Home Staging 101: Staging with Kids

When selling your home, it can be a bit of a balancing act when you have children and a busy life whirling around you.  It can sometimes be a challenge to keep your home in “show ready” condition when you are trying to live your life there.  This post includes a few tips for getting prepared initially and streamlining the process of preparing your rooms for showings when you have kids “stuff” to contend with.

Outside Clean Up – With small kids, there will be an abundance of toys around your home…both inside and out.  Create a storage location with a covered container and be sure to take a look around the yard to make sure that toys are stowed away prior to showings/Realtor Tours.

Inside Organization – Try to pre-pack as many excess toys/games that you can.  Kids will have their “favorites” so keep those toys available but in storage bins, baskets or boxes so they can be tucked away neatly when perspective buyers come through.

Take Out Large Scale Items – Remove the larger scale toys (i.e. plastic kitchens, ride on toys).  They take up valuable floor space in the same way that excess furniture pieces do.  You want to allow the rooms to be seen in their entirety without the distraction of brightly colored toys.

Bedroom Updates – Kids often have fun, theme-inspired decor in their rooms which include brightly colored walls and tend to be gender specific.  It is recommended that rooms be neutralized to allow buyers to have a “blank slate” to personalize the room to their child’s preferences or for another purpose upon moving in.

TIP 1:  Repaint brightly colored walls with warm neutrals and add removable transfers to have some fun elements in place until your move.

Warm Neutral Background with Fun Decals

TIP 2:  Start dreaming with your child about their “new” room.  Pull together a scrapbook of ideas to help them focus on the new home.  This may help with the shift from one home to another.

TIP 3:  In rooms with older kids, try to minimize the amount of items on walls and remove all items that might offend your potential buyers.  Carefully pack these items so the kids can recreate their rooms in your new home.

Clothes/Laundry – Pre-pack the next season’s worth of clothing to pare down closets in kid’s rooms.  Buyers want to see “ample” storage and tidy spaces.  Keep laundry up to date and neatly organized in baskets to eliminate the piles in rooms and bathrooms.  Be sure to remove any/all used towels from bathrooms prior to showings as well.

Bath with Laundry Messes

Buyers do not want to feel like they are intruding in someone else’s home…they want to be able to visualize it as their own. If you have ever rented a home or hotel room, you know the value of a neat, clean space that allows you to feel welcomed and comfortable.

This is the first of the Home Staging 101 Series of blog posts to come throughout the year.  I love your feedback and interaction so if you are interested in a specific topic, please note it here and I’ll be happy to address it in a future post.

Repurposing Tip:  Skis to Usable Home Items

Repurposing Tip: Skis to Usable Home Items

In a recent post to the SUNDAY FUN PIX on Facebook, I posted a photo of an Adirondack chair that was made from recycled skis.  It was such a novel idea to have winter sports gear creating an item that we’d most likely use in the summer.  As we shift from Winter skiing to Spring skiing here in New Hampshire, I thought I’d post some other fun ideas I found to recycle old skis.

Vintage Ski Rack

Vintage Ski Rack

This is probably a way many people have seen skis recycled.  I recommended it to clients a few years back for their mudroom and there is one like this in our local Orthodontic office.  The owner is a huge ski fan from Maine so it was a great way to let us know more about him, give his office a fun theme while providing a place to hang our coats.

Here are a couple coat racks that stand alone but are used for the same purpose – a little vintage and a little more modern.

Modern & Colorful

Modern & Colorful

On a smaller scale, some decor items to personalize your space.

Mug Rack from The Cabin

Mug Rack from The Cabin

Wine Rack from Forest Furniture Tahoe

Wine Rack from Forest Furniture Tahoe

The most unique way of recycling skis that I found was this chandelier made by Designer Willem Heeffer.

Willem Heeffer Chandelier

Willem Heeffer Chandelier

Willem Heeffer Chandelier

Willem Heeffer Chandelier

Could you imagine using any of these repurposed ski projects in your own home?  If so, which room(s) and how?

Repurposing Tip: Recovering Your Pillows

Laundry Room Ideas Are Piling Up

Laundry Room Ideas Are Piling Up

I have a friend who defines the area around her washer and dryer as her “Himalayas of Laundry”.  It seems to be the one task that is never done – especially if you have kids and pets in the house.  Most times, the laundry is located in the basement and is viewed strictly as a utilitarian and forgotten space in the house.

The trend we are seeing is that the washer and dryer are being incorporated into living spaces to streamline the process.  Homeowners appreciate the convenience and are now making laundry areas a stylized space in their homes.

I think I can safely say that we would all LOVE a walk-in closet that includes the laundry like the one shown below:


This Old House

If you are not able to completely renovate and create a walk-in closet with laundry like this one (that was done by This Old House) but still want to update the laundry area of you home, here are some other ideas to consider:


The Creative Juice Blog

I love this unit that was part of the Laundry Day post on the Creative Juice Blog.  It is built into a closet space and it covers all the bases.  Pull out storage below the appliances, a folding counter and customized door storage to houses all cleaning supplies.  If you were to omit the counter top, this option would work with a top loading washer too.

How about a dual functioning space?  The Better Homes & Gardens website offers this great option:


Better Homes & Garden

The fabric screens add a softness to a room that is well organized to complete more than one task at a time.  Throw in a load of laundry, then quickly wrap a gift for a party.  The cabinet between the appliances hides away the detergents and dryer sheets to keep the space free of clutter.

The major appliance makers are happy to accommodate this shift in home design.  They offer storage underneath the units to lift them off the ground along with front loading doors to make loading and unloading easier on your back.  They also come in a variety of cool colors.  I like to refer to those shiny gems as the Cadillac’s of the Laundry World and they jazz up a corner all on their own!

HGTV’s Green Dream Home Laundry

This unique laundry room,  that is located in the HGTV Green Dream Home, has ample storage, clean lines and is very stylish with the colors and artwork selected.  The appliances really make a statement and the extra sink is perfect for laundering or clipping your fresh roses from the garden.  Gorgeous!

How would you like your laundry room to look?  Do any of these ideas strike a chord with you & why?  I would love to hear from you.


Repurposing Tip:  Paint Furniture

Repurposing Tip: Paint Furniture

When we are talking about redesign or One Day Room Makeovers, it’s all about repurposing the beautiful items you already own.  Many of us have “hand me downs” from various family members that have sentimental value.  They tend to have beautiful details that are not found in the furniture on the market today but are not necessarily the wood colors we’d like or are worn from years of use.

Try a fresh coat of paint with new hardware to completely revitalize a piece of furniture that you love.

This beautiful piece has a lot of character that goes unnoticed until the green paint is applied.



All of a sudden, the details are visible.  The dark top and hardware really add a wonderful contrast against the lighter green.  This unit would have been lost against the wall if it remained as it was prior to the addition of paint.

To view more great before and after photos of this project and others, check out the Remodel-aholic Blog:


For this Blog post, I am super excited to introduce Al Koehler who is a local, professional painter that I have worked with for the last few years.  Each time we have done a project together, I  have learned something new so I thought would see if he would be willing to share some of this extensive knowledge with all of us.

Graciously, he agreed to an interview so that is the format that will follow.  The first half are questions from me and the 2nd round of questions came direct from my Facebook Fan page followers.  Sending out many thanks to all who participated online!

NOW…the answers to our burning painting questions…

Q:  What are the different types of paint that can be used on interior walls, ceilings & woodwork?  What are the benefits of each one?

A: There are many different types of paints for the interior of your home.  Popular options today are water-based paints that come in a variety of sheens and can be tinted to any color that you want.  The standards are flat, matte, eg-shel, satin, semi-gloss and gloss.  Each option is a special blend that create specific finishes on walls, trim, cabinetry and more.

For example, flat paint is great for ceilings and walls. Flat paint is not washable but hides imperfections best.  Matte and Satin paint are typically used on walls and  Satin, Semi-gloss and Gloss are mainly used for woodwork. These paints can stand a little more abuse and are washable.  Choosing the right paint is key.

There are many variables to consider when choosing your paint, including what the surface condition is, what your overall goal/design is, what type of primer will be needed etc.  If you are not sure about some of the specifics, it is always good to consult with a knowledgeable painter (like Al) and/or a reputable paint supplier ~ it could save you hours of time, money & frustration!

Q: What is primer paint? Are there different types? Do you have to use it on every project? Do you need a special type for dark colored paint?

A: Primer is the base coat of paint which is needed  for the paint to adhere to the surface. Its primarily used on non-primed surfaces but is also used over existing paint that could be hard to cover. There are many primers,  your basic latex all around primer that can be used on most surfaces and another popular primer is Bonding Primer,  which  can be used for glossy surfaces such as glass, countertops, metal and glossy surfaces.  Most primers can be tinted.

When you are using a dark paint, you should use a tinted primer.  They usually are mixed in a variation of gray based on the depth of color chosen for your wall paint – this is determined by the paint experts in your local storefronts.  Another option is to have the primers tinted to the color of the paint chosen.

Q: What is the best way to paint a front door that is metal?

A:  Use a primer that includes the word “bonding” in the label .   These primers bond to glossy surfaces such as glass, Formica, metal, kitchen cabinetry and plastic to create the perfect base for your latex paints to glide on and cure properly.  Most primers can be top coated within a few hours.

Q: I’ve noticed that paint rollers come with different sized “naps”. Why is that?  Which size is appropriate for what type of job?  How do I avoid getting fibers from the rollers on the walls?

A:  There are a few different sizes in nap for rollers,  the smother the surface the less of a nap you would need.  3/8 nap is regularly used for most surfaces.  If your dealing with textured walls or ceilings use a roller with a 1/2 inch nap.

IMPORTANT TIP:  “Don’t cheese on the roller,  a high quality roller will save you undue frustration and give you the professional look that you want on your walls.  Cheap rollers leave hairs/fibers on your walls.  I recommend rollers from Wooster, Purdy or the Contractor Series from Sherwin Williams.”

AND…the answers to the burning painting questions from our Facebook Fans…

Q:  What is the best paint to use in a bathroom?

A: The best paints to use in bathrooms is Ben Moore Aura or Sherwin Williams.  These paints do not need a primer,  which is a plus because it leaves out the primer coat.  Two coats of these paints and you have a beautiful finish so there is no need for extra work. When using higher quality paints, the key is to prep the surface properly before painting on your new color.

A primer is not needed if you are painting over an existing color but I recommend a light sanding using a 220 gauge sandpaper to rough up the surface (creating the same adhering quality that a primer would provide) and to remove any fibers/imperfections.

The newest advancement in the paint industry is the introduction of paints that include the primer and top coat in one can.  Aura by Ben Moore and Duration by Sherwin Williams are great options with built in primers.  You can expect to pay more for these options but they significantly reduce time/coats needed to complete your job.

IMPORTANT TIP:  “Make sure your exhaust fan is working properly.  Keeping the room free of extra moisture will extend the life of the paint in a bath.”

Q:  What should you use to paint textured ceilings to limit drip messes?

A:  A  1/2 inch roll nap is good for a textured ceiling.  A quality roller is important as it lays the paint on evenly and does not lose hairs/fibers in the process.

IMPORTANT TIP:  “If you need to wipe dust or debris from a wall or trim, use a tack cloth.  A tack cloth is like a sticky cheese cloth that will “grab” anything from the surface rather than just move it around.  Avoid using wet cloths to clean surfaces.  The moisture could create problems under the paint if it the area is not given enough time to dry out completely before application of paint.”

Q:  Why is the paint on my walls peeling off in sheets?

A: Paint peeling is usually caused by moisture under the paint which lifts the paint off in sheets.

Other reasons that may cause peeling paint are:

~No primer was used as a base coat.

~The primer coat or 2nd coat of finish coat were applied too soon.  Paint (primer or top coat) need time to dry/cure properly.

~Painting over a glossy surface without prep.

Q:  Why does anything that touches my walls leave marks?

A: Paint is a delicate, very thin coat of colored wall finish.  Anytime you touch a wall with your hands that has a flat finish, you’ll see the oil imprint of your hands.   That is why flat paints are recommended for rooms that have less traffic and people inhabiting them.

In all my years painting for a living, I’ve learned that paint is not mark proof.  There are better paints than others that can take the abuse.  This goes back to the very first question and how important it is to use the correct paint finish for the appropriate areas in your home.

Keep the following in mind:

Flat Paint – Best for ceilings and low traffic areas – not washable

Matte – Is a step up from Flat paint because it includes a very light sheen.  Achieve the same “look” as Flat provides with the bonus that it is washable.

Eg-shell/Satin – Best for walls in high traffic areas – washable

Semi-gloss/Gloss – Good for woodwork/trim – creates a sheen on all surfaces – washable

IMPORTANT TIP:  “The best way to guarantee that your walls will stay perfectly clean is to install hockey glass over all painted surfaces.  The only maintenance tools needed are Windex and paper towels.”

You can tell from Al’s answers that he is a fountain of knowledge and has a great sense of humor.  If you have more questions for him, please feel free to post them here and we will get the answers of to you right away.

I would to thank him for being my special guest this month on the Blog and for offering such great information about painting in our homes.

Here is a little more about Al:

~He’s been painting for 25+ years with additional background in home building Project Management

~During his career he has worked all over New England mainly working in Amherst, around Lake Winnipesaukee and on Governor’s Island.  For the last 14 yrs. Al has been  primarily painting interiors creating beautiful finishes with nice color combinations for many different types of rooms.  Some of his other skills include drywall repairs,  water damage repair, skim coating, textured ceilings and wallpaper.

~His specialty is with Venetian Plaster,  Marmarino Finish which is a glass feel finish with a stone look.  If you are looking for a classic finish in your home be sure to ask him about this beautiful option.

If you would like to connect with him, his contact information is below:


PHONE:  603.738.8578

He also has a Fan Page on Facebook – CLICK HERE to check it out and sign on as one of his newest “likers”.