Interior Design

Staging to sell or stay!

the Artist


I am currently helping a friend stage her home to sell. A few weeks back we took a Friday off to shop for decor to freshen her very neutrally beige home. I decided on a palette of colors to base our decisions on. I picked that palette based on her current decor- the feel of her living room and much to her surprise- two wingback chairs in a pattern she dislikes. I saw cobalt blue, deep magenta and an off-white neutral. Her furnishings had a north woods lodge feel.

Armed with my color plan we took off and hit Home Goods, Hobby Lobby and Marshalls. She was on a tight budget and I knew I could find some nice items to build strong visual interest. We had a lot of fun and were quite successful.

We bought cobalt blue pillows, a beautifully textured off white shag rug for under her coffee table, not matching interesting lamps, picture frames in weathered navy and bronze, a beautiful navy wood sign for over her mantel as well as candles and navy patterned glass bowl. We also found a really amazing side console for her entry way that she ended up going back and buying the next day.

While at Home Goods I ended up helping a customer choose a rug for her living room. She was in the middle of a small remodeling project. It hit me again how much help people need in making decor choices for their homes. Especially in the midst of remodeling. It is very overwhelming. The customer asked if I was a designer and I said yes.. she said well your friend is very lucky to have your help.

It is amazing with what you can do using decor that you already have, and purchasing just a few items to freshen and update your home to sell. Well that along with decluttering!

Now my friend doesn’t want to sell her home. ;)

Hope you all are having a great week!

Just a few photos from our shopping. I didn’t take photos of everything. Will shoot some “After” photos and upload here. It is good to take lots of photos while shopping for comparison and decisions!

A perfect 7.

by the Artist

I started this post this past Friday in very early spring... I'm finishing it today in full on summer. 80 degrees! Yes let's talk about color! The season to be bold. ...

I am not a trendsetter. I'm a trend watcher. A trend emulator. At the beginning of each season I watch for the trends that rise to the top in fashion and interior design. For obvious reasons. This year is really exciting blend of bold fresh colors, organic materials, fringy embellishments, tropical foliage and brass! I'm probably a little more enthused after living with winter white for the past six months! Oh bring on the color!!!

I made a list of what I will call my top 7 picks for Spring/Summer 2018. Seven is perfection right?

1. Tropical-palm fronds, lush foliage real or fake

2. Brass- bright brass is back as well as gold. Pair with saturated wall colors of navy, dark plums and gray

3. Stone and natural elements- organic feeling stoneware, and countertops

4. Colors- Pantone ultra violet, lavender, inky indigo blues, golds, deep teals

5. Embellishments- fringes on pillows, drapery

6. Bold colorful florals- on materials, wall paper

7. Patterns- batik, geometric





by the Artist

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

A quote I have on my personal email signature that resonates with me. Someone commented about it recently and it made me pause. I could not remember who quoted it. William Morris a 19th century author, designer and craftsman. 

A few years back I dipped my toe into a bit of professional organizing. I loved it. It was always thrilling to see a space be transformed. It took work. For me to keep patient as we worked through "donate, sell, recycle or trash" for every single item. For the other person to stay focused and work with me through the process. 

The thrilling part comes at the end when the room is clutter free. I love to "stage" the room, rearrange furniture, bring in some fresh flowers for a table that formally was completely covered in papers- coupons, bills whatever landed there. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. It's kind of like my own little "Fixer Upper" reveal. It is really a rush for this beauty bringer.

It's spring as I write this. The trees out my window have tiny leaves and buds waiting for sunshine and warmth to burst open. It's the season of new beginnings. More so then January 1 in my opinion. Who doesn't have a desire to clean something out? A drawer or garage. Organize the clutter and debris of those long housebound winter months. 

Useful and beautiful. Sentimental? A good bargain? A later possible use? How to stay in control of all the things that flow into our lives. Coupons littered on the counter among the junk mail, receipts and store purchase bags, groceries that didn't get put away, old batteries and pens that don't work, paper clips and an old key (for what?). Life on this earth can and is extremely overwhelming. Just too much stuff. Stuff strangles and can own us. I've seen it shut a person down.

I know it is easy for me to say that. I am not overly sentimental. I keep heart memories over physical memory objects. Years ago I wanted to keep something from one of our dogs when she died. The Carpenter said..."let it go and keep her memory in your heart". Well that stuck with me.

These days I share my organizing gene with friends and family. Currently I'm driving almost an hour to help a friend who owns a farm and is recently remarried. We're making room for her new husband's belongings in an already full house with not the best storage. The hours fly by like minutes. It is intensely gratifying work and brings me such happiness to bring happiness to another person. And it doesn't hurt that it is a farm if any of you know me. ;) 






Creative blues.

by the Artist

We are deep smack in the middle of winter. We haven't seen the sun for days. No exaggeration. Even for me who usually can handle the gloomies.. I'm feeling... just a bit gloomy. No matter how you slice it. Winter will be around for at least 6 more weeks here in Minnesota! The hard core stuff anyway. 

I thought I'd share a little of what has caught my eye and inspired me.. to chase away the winter blues. Come along with me!

I love tiny houses! I love the cool interior designs and the creative use of space. This tiny house features copper details, and an excellently designed loft. Perfect. I think you will agree!

Green it is! I chose this color for my Mother -in-law's kitchen. It is a very small kitchen and was very blah. She loves green. Picked up a beautiful print as a focal point for over her sink. It's just darn cheery to hang out in there now! 

Check out this video from the Today Show. Pops of color and organic elements are being added to the modern look!

I love navy! I have to give a shout out to my "design mecca" Target! Passed by a lovely navy and white home decor display today. So clean and fresh after the holidays! 

I also was at Caribou Coffee recently. Snapped a pic of this very organic end table! Fits the organic trend! (and gave me a super idea. We have a bunch of large cottonwood logs that would make some nice tables... "hey Mr Carpenter.. are you doing anything??"

And last I love all things Joanna Gaines! I don't even need to say anything more. If you haven't been to her website lately... take a peek!

Well I had an entirely different post idea but look where I landed! I think I will continue posting home design in all it's forms as I run across it. 

At least for now. My "gloomies" are gone!

A person can change.

by the Artist

I had plans. dreams. A lovely large home. Built especially for me by the Carpenter on a pretty spot of land. Years ago I had even come up with some plans.

We built some larger custom spec homes a few years back and that only fueled my dreams. The last spec home we built was as close to my dream home that I could imagine. The Carpenter and I designed it from "scratch". Even though we built it to sell... I built if for me. And I did get to live there for awhile. And it was a dream. I wanted to stay forever. Not just because of the house but because of the quaint neighborhood where it was located. 

Well eventually you have to wake up. We moved back to our "real" home. I was determined to let that dream go. And I have. I now appreciate my smaller home, and in fact the desire for a larger home is long gone. The desire to live in that neighborhood is gone. (ironically the Carpenter wants to move back in a few years!) Maybe that comes with age. But I also think I've come to appreciate efficiency, smaller organized spaces. Minimalism. I even shop differently. I only buy what I need when I need it. 

And I think part of what has influenced this change in me is the "tiny house" trend. I don't think I could live full time in a "tiny house", but I can appreciate the lifestyle. And the creativity to be able to live that lifestyle. Here is a sweet "tiny house" from that is beautifully designed.

Our company's brand line "Helping you love where you live" resonates with me more then ever now too. Staying where you live, embracing the potential in your home. Making the most of every square inch. Who would have thought that small homes would be trending post decades of bigger is better. That some are downsizing before they have an empty nest. That it's more a lifestyle choice, an intentional choosing of a smaller efficient footprint.

I'm excited about this. Call us if you are too!



Where is the tv?

I remember my Grandmother's TV/stereo cabinet from the 1960s. It was long and looked like a side buffet. It had a built-in stereo that you accessed from the top and featured multiple doors across the front which were mostly fake. The only ones that opened were where the TV resided which was also built-in.

She had the most beautiful elegant drapes that she hung from wall to wall (the width of the living room) and ceiling to floor- that hung behind the cabinet. (she also made her own tailored clothing, my first pair of bell bottoms- floral corduroy, all my Barbie clothes, my wedding dress and all the drapes for my first home). That TV/stereo cabinet paired with the drapes was the focal point of the room. She was truly a trend setter!

Remember the 80's "entertainment centers" that came into vogue.. where VCR's, stereos and the TV all hung out together in one cabinet sometimes made of lovely fake wood? You can still spot one of these treasures sitting at the end of a driveway with a free sign.

We built two custom homes in the early 2000's that featured the emerging trend of full wall entertainment centers featuring book cases, fireplace, and TV/Stereo cabinet spaces. At that time the trend was still.. hide the TV/stereo behind cabinet doors. It was a beautiful seamless solution to incorporating entertainment systems gracefully into more formal rooms.

Somewhere in the last ten years (I'm just estimating here) TVs came out of their cabinets. They became thin and sexy- no longer resembling their former boxy selves. And to accommodate these new beauties.. a whole new styled cabinet came into favor.. sleek and low.

And somewhere along the way some TVs- or should I say.. flat screens? left their cabinet homes once and for all, and started hanging out on walls. What a change! This all leads to the link I'm going to give you. I find these ideas worthy of passing on to you. Ways to incorporate your flat screen TV onto a wall with grace. You can paint a section of wall, add a textured stone wall the color of the TV, mount in a collage gallery grouping etc. Just check it out here if this interests you.

Where possibly can the TV go next? I'm guessing there will be no TVs as we know them. Stay tuned for that!

My Grandmother's cabinet looked similar to this cabinet.. but it had wire mesh over the doors. Actually I think it is still sitting in my Dad's garage! 

My Grandmother's cabinet looked similar to this cabinet.. but it had wire mesh over the doors. Actually I think it is still sitting in my Dad's garage! 

Kitchen trending.

by the Artist

I threw them out! (I am not a saver which normally is a very good thing) I had beautiful brass hardware on my kitchen cabinets. Installed in 1998. I regretted going with brass in 1998 because brushed chrome rushed in and reigned supreme about the time I chose brass. I wanted to change over all the hardware in my home to brushed chrome. But I didn't. By the mid 2000's (approx) oiled bronze was the reigning king. For my birthday one year the Carpenter replaced all my kitchen hardware with oiled bronze bin pulls and knobs. I was so happy.

And now 18 years after renovating our Cape Cod... brass is back! Well thank goodness I didn't replace any door knobs or hinges! And really why is this worthy of a post? Because I am seeing a trend and I'm liking it a lot. Well more then a lot. Kitchens with black or dark navy painted cabinets- bases mostly- white painted walls, white or white with patterned tiles and brass fixtures and hardware. I have four words... bold, crisp, clean. Love. 

I don't write much these days about trends. But this has really caught my eye. Along with the fact that we just completed the Modern Farmhouse project which was full of beautiful white and black exterior/interior details. In particular because this winter I am planning on updating my home. I will start in the kitchen. I can easily change the wall color from sage green to white or pale gray, I can easily paint the base cabinets (well the Carpenter can easily do that), black or dark navy, and I can easily buy new hardware and sink fixture. Because I do have a white sink so the brass fixture will fit nicely. 

Here are just a few photos I grabbed from Pinterest. You can check out the boards I've put together for Applewood here

And just google or head to Pinterest and research this trend. Home design right now is so beautiful. There is a freshness that has been missing with the past trend of taupes and earth tones.

go to the above Pinterest link for photo credits!

No bumpy road!

by the Artist

I'm getting more design consults. That is a good thing. Basically if you sign on a project with us, you get me (the Artist/Designer) to help you navigate the sometimes bumpy decision road. It doesn't matter how large or small the project. It doesn't matter if you know what you want, but you don't know how to get there, or you have no idea what you want and don't know where to start, or you just need someone to listen to you work through the options. I'm your girl.

As Applewood grows.. and we are growing quite quickly these days.. I've been able to assist our homeowners in making the decisions needed for their project. Paint colors, tile, lighting, flooring. And here's the great part.. my assistance comes at no additional charge to you. It comes with the signed project. I will come to your home or meet you at a tile shop for as many times as you need till you are sure of your choice.

I've been told that I have a nice manner about me. I am not a "forceful" type person. I've been called "soft". I come alongside and gently lead you to your own decision. I do not push my own personal design sensibilities on you. I identify your style and go from there. It's all about you. It's all about updating your personal style. You don't think you have a style? You do.

So if you have a project in mind.. don't know an interior designer or don't have the funds for one.. you might want to consider Applewood Builders for your project. Not only will you end up with a wonderful new addition or remodel... but the journey to your dream might not be as difficult as you imagine.

A good idea.

by the Artist

While the Carpenter deals with the mechanics and the ordering and all the details of our current large project- The Modern Farmhouse- I've been assisting with design decisions when needed. It's been fun to work with the homeowners as they work through the many decisions that are needed to be made for the scope of this project. I am basically "on call" ready to lend a listening ear or do some research for materials.

I think.. no I know that this can be overwhelming with the amount of decisions that come along. Even if you have a good sense of design and know what you like and what you don't like.. it still can be taxing. 

I usually set up a secret board on Pinterest and an Ideabook on Then send out the invitations to start sharing and gathering styles– flooring, trim, lighting, tile etc. It's collaborative and I like that. I work mostly alone these days.. I no longer have co-workers to bounce ideas off of.. so boards and books and collaborations scratch that itch. I also work on keeping up with the latest housing design trends. Well that is the easy part as I tend to chase shiny objects. Unfortunately my ever changing design perspective has made the Carpenter crazy at times! Well and me too. just alittle.

Why am I sharing this? For those of you that might need that type of help. Perhaps you are leaning towards calling that other builder. Maybe we would be a good fit if you know you need design help, that you know it kind of makes you crazy, and to even think about it makes you break out in a cold sweat. My design assistance for whatever question or decision you may have or will encounter during the entire length of the project is included in the project. No extra cost or fee. It's part of the deal.

And that's a pretty good deal.

Circling back.

by the Artist

I seem to be on a white theme these days. Snow and now the resurgence of white in home design. 18 years ago when we renovated our home I embraced white. It seemed appropriate for an East Coast style Cape Cod. We picked white siding and I painted the entire interior "Floral White". That was a lot of white. But it was so refreshing after looking at a dark brown exterior, gray gutted interior and most of all.. old house dirt and debris. It was one dirty dirty project.

We moved into our "brand new to us" pristinely white home. Not only were the walls white but all the doors, millwork and cabinetry and countertops wore white. It was a good choice till I got bit by the color bug. It was a nasty color bug because it left me weakened with the inability to make a single color decision. We had paint swatches of color all over the house. I think I had the Carpenter buy 10 cans of "gold" for the living room alone. I could not decide exactly which gold would be the perfect gold. And it had to be perfect. 

I got bit by that pesky bug at my friend's beautiful new home. She painted it in rich bold colors. Stepping into her home was like stepping into a bowl of Beef Bourguignon. My house was like stepping into a bowl of whipped cream. 

My main stumbling block to making a decision was my very own color rule. Colors are either gray based (rich yet subdued with a hint of gray) or clear based (pure bright color). You could not mix gray based and bright colors in one palatte. (this was my rule at the time) Which did I want? Which would be best for my little Cape Cod? Oh it was awful. Indecision is awful. It's like you just can't pull yourself out of the indecision pit. It has slippery walls and no ladder.

Eventually I broke through and chose a yellow for the kitchen. It was intense. I remember walking outside and looking in the window and thinking as the Carpenter was up on a ladder slaving away... okay that is just a might too too yellow. I lived with it. Never loved it. Add here... that poor long suffering carpenter.

Then I painted the kitchen a historical color cream. Ben Moore Waterbury Cream. Toned down that intense yellow. Better.

Then we moved out to live in one of the spec homes we built to stage it in hopes of finding a buyer. (BTW I was able to pick out the entire spec homes interior color palette in about 15 minutes!) During the time we lived at the spec home we painted the Cape the exact same color palette. It wasn't my first choice but I had to make a decision.

A year ago we were at the Carpenter's cousin's house. His wife has a great sense of design. She painted her living room pure white. I remember thinking... wow white. Why would she paint a room white? A year later... I get it. She was ahead of the trend. She was on point. And she knew to balance her white rooms with rooms of rich bold color. 

I've come full circle. They say what goes around comes around. Well white has returned. But it's an improved version of white. I've been highly influenced by the designer and HGTV host Joanna Gaines style Just take a look and you will understand.

I'm redoing my home to embrace this new white. After the wedding flowers I'm doing for my nephew's upcoming spring wedding, after my furniture sale


And I do love whipping cream.