Before & After – Rosemary’s Beach




Well, it’s hot in Houston.  BIG surprise!   The summer heat is at full steam and it’s got me thinking of the beach and beach houses in particular.   So, I was especially excited to receive these photographs of a beach house remodel in Rosemary’s Beach, Florida.  The designer is Jenny Johnston who currently leaves in Shreveport, Louisiana, but is actually a native Houstonian who was lucky enough to work for 8 years as an assistant to the great interior designer Cathy Chapman.  I adore Cathy’s work – so I had a feeling that Jenny’s work would be top notch too.  The Rosemary Beach house is Jenny’s client’s vacation home. 

As you will see, the before pictures are pretty cute which is no surprise for a house in Rosemary’s Beach!   But, Jenny has moved it into the 2010s - where interiors are a bit more quiet and toned down.  Jenny has captured that trend perfectly!    There’s a LOT to learn from these pictures if you are looking for ways to update your own house, so take notes.   To show you exactly what changes Jenny made, for each room, I will show you the Before and then the After picture.  



image BEFORE:  Living room.   Typical 1990s yellow painted walls with lots of patterned fabric.   Notice the humongous armoire – to hide the TV in and the orange stained floors.  


image AFTER:    Jenny has painted all the walls white – trending the house into the 2010s.   The patterned fabric is exchanged for a family/pet friendly white linen slipcover.   The slip is updated for the 2010s – it’s tightly tailored and as far away from Shabby Chic as you can get.   Instead of fabric shades, updated textured shades are placed in the French doors.  The British Colonial type sconces were removed.  The limed wood coffee table is another example of updating the interiors for today.   A striped dhurri rug in gray and white picks up the colors in the pillows.   And – the armoire is gone.  Instead there is a beautiful painted French buffet with a flat screen above it.  In all, the new interiors seem more sophisticated, quiet, and ready for the next decade.


image BEFORE:   Looking from the stairs into the living room.  Notice the pine console on the wall by the back door.   And, notice the wood stain on the banister – orange.   So 90s!



image AFTER:   A tall, linen skirted buffet replaces the dated pine console.  Modern lamps and artwork add an eclectic touch.   Notice the dark wood floor which really grounds the white walls.  The dark wood is so much better than the old orange stain!




image BEFORE:  British Colonial decor in a corner of the living room.  Notice the ceiling fan here.




AFTER:  The same corner.  Here you can see the linen curtains on the side windows and the contemporary floor lamp.  Notice the ceiling fan – all these contemporary touches work so good with a mixture of the more traditional pieces like the antique painted French buffet. 


image BEFORE:  Looking towards the kitchen and the stairwell. 



AFTER:  Notice how Jenny painted the stairwell banister dark, getting rid of the pine colored stain from before.  Also – notice the darker wood floors.    I love the way the curtains were made and I love the simple rods.  The simpler the better going into the 2010s. 





Close up of the living room’s pillows.  Youthful fabrics are perfect for a beach house. 




Notice the cute table next to the side chair.  



BEFORE:   Back entry – pine console with Ballard twisted barley lamps.  


image  AFTER:  Skirted buffet, contemporary lamps and art work, gray wicker chairs, textured blinds and rug.   LOVE THIS!!!!  


image BEFORE:  corner chair.  


image AFTER:   corner chair with darling turquoise blue table.  I love the touches of blue throughout the living room. 


imageBEFORE:   Granite kitchen with white appliances and eat in table.


image AFTER:  The kitchen was updated a notch – new countertops, new stainless appliances,  new industrial lights over the sink, new zinc and wood table with gray wicker chairs.  Notice the new refrigerator.  One small change really updates a look tremendously.


AFTER:   Here you can really see the great zinc top table and the gray wicker chairs.  There are also bar stools in the gray wicker. 



image BEFORE:  Downstairs study.


imageAFTER:   This room is now a daughter’s bedroom.    The two chairs from the BEFORE living room have been painted and moved into here – which is a great idea!  Love the curtains and the chandelier.


imageThe bed, which doubles as a sofa for the daughter.  I love that gray painted lamp.  Nice size.   


image Closeup of the pillows!


image BEFORE:  bathroom.


imageAFTER:   new marble countertops and backsplash.  White walls instead of green walls.   


image BEFORE:  stairwell with British Colonial type sconce and orange stained wood.


image AFTER:  Industrial light, white walls, dark banister, and textured blind.   



image BEFORE:  Bunk room – this room is very small and the beds really took up a lot of space.



image AFTER:  By building in the bunk beds, they become little rooms of their own.  Notice the built in lamps.  There is a TV built into the end of each bed.  Jenny says the room seems so much larger now.   The master bedroom is not yet completed, but hopefully, I’ll show those pictures as they become available. 



image A big huge thank you to Jenny and her client for sharing these pictures!!!  I hope you have enjoyed seeing how you can take a beautiful interior and update it for today!!!


Jenny Johnston can be reached on Facebook HERE, and by email at

Noted Author: Diane Dorrans Saeks



Do you have a favorite design book?   I know, I know, there are so many design books available that it is hard to pick a favorite.  But, it didn't used to be that way.   In the past there were much, much fewer design books published.   Today, the market for these beautiful books has exploded and it seems every well known interior designer has his own book.  My collection of design books was once manageable.  Now I have literally run out of space to store all my books - there are stacks of them in  my garage waiting for some miracle like a gorgeous two-story library to suddenly appear in my house.   What are my favorites?    The list would be long.



An early design book that I absolutely loved was California Cottages, written in 1996.  



image This small book is filled with pictures of charming California houses.  



image I remember I particularly loved these chairs!!! 




The year 1997 brought this book – I devoured it – cover to cover and then over again.  This book was a favorite for years and years.  



And of course, a more recent book – Elements of Style – is now in its 8th printing which is a huge feat in design books.   All these books I have mentioned have one thing in common – they were written by San Francisco author Diane Dorrans Saeks. 



imageimage Above are Diane’s books.   How many do you own?   I was surprised how many I actually had myself!  Besides writing books, Diane writes for many publications.   She is currently working on two new book titles.  And Diane still has time to write a wonderful blog, The Style Saloniste HERE 



image The author, Diane Dorrans Saeks.   Our honored guest this week on The Skirted Roundtable.   She is an intelligent and fascinating woman.  Be sure to listen HERE.


As always, your support and comments are very, very much appreciated.

A Little Blog Lovin’



image Trish’s backyard – showing her lavender garden.  Isn’t this the most beautiful photograph?


I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite blogs is Trouvais.   The first time I stumbled upon it – I stayed there for an entire night just salivating over all of Trish’s photographs.   This photo, above,  of her lavender garden just killed me!   OMG!!!  So unbelievable that someone lives with a backyard like this.   I immediately emailed Trish, asking her how to grow lavender.    Trish is a die hard romantic and her blog reflects this.   It is not only pure eye candy, but, also educational.   She is interested in the most beautiful and intriguing things, like old uniforms, clothing and shoes from the 18th century, manuscripts written in French, grisaille – anything!    Story after story on Trouvais is a visual treat.

So,  you can imagine,  how humbled and honored I was when Trish wrote a story about Cote de Texas.   What’s so funny about this, is the first time I was on Trouvais, I almost gave up writing Cote de Texas altogether.   Trouvais is the blog I wished I wrote.  It has a consistent aesthetic quality to it that I greatly admire and aspire to.   Please visit Trouvais HERE to read her story about Cote de Texas.   It was interesting reading the article myself – I didn’t remember writing half the stories she chose to highlight!

Below are a few of my favorite images that Trish has posted on Trouvais – these were all taken by her, at her home.  Notice that she is great photostylist. 



This photograph shows a dinner table Trish set up in her back yard.



image Besides lavender, Trish grows gorgeous peonies and roses.



image The old debate between books you read and books you buy to display!




Trish’s entry hall.  This looks like a photograph from Cote de Sud magazine.



 image When I first saw this photograph, I was so jealous of Trish’s fireplace!




 I love this image of Trish’s collection of zinc finials




A vignette from Trish’s kitchen.



   imageA view to the outside at Trish’s house.    So beautiful. 



image Another photograph of Trish’s lavender garden. No, this is not in Provence!


Thank you again, Trish, so much!  You are so sweet!   To read the article about Cote de Texas on Trouvais, go HERE.

Reader’s Remodeled Kitchen




BEFORE:   Reader’s kitchen before her remodeling.  Actually, this kitchen is truly charming as is.  That stove!!!!  It is the owner’s grandmother’s original Chambers!


Emails, I get emails!!   I recently got this email from a reader in Ft. Worth, Texas.  Here’s what she had to say:


I love your website and pored over Kitchen Design elements for months. I wrote you once about using white marble. I wanted it but was worried about caring for it. You were so nice and wrote me back and told me to go for it - get what I love - life is short. So I did!  I put honed Absolute Black on the one side and honed Carrara on the other. Our kitchen is still small -we could not get more out of the space, but we gutted it, made the door to the dining room larger, new electrical, new Pella windows, doors, hardwood floor to match the rest of our house. Out with my grandmothers Chambers stove and a new "baby" Viking to fit my small space and other new stainless appliances, THE gorgeous Shaw sink, polished nickel Perrin and Rowe bridge faucet, new cabinets, hardware and light farmhouse lights. I took all my furniture out of my dining room that I hated and we added another window. I hung some little sconces from Wisteria- best I can do till I get more money.  I guess in 10 years they will say - remember all those white marble kitchens? I think I will never get tired of it.

image AFTER:  Here is the same view – hard to believe it is the same space!!!  Notice the owner used black granite and white marble together!!


image Looking the other way – at the sink area.  The space is very small, but it is very functional.  I prefer small kitchens myself.   By using a combination range instead of a cooktop and wall ovens – the homeowner saved space. 



I love the cabinetry and the hardware.  Of course, the Shaw’s sink and the Perrin and Rowe bridge faucet are my favorites.  I used those two elements in my own kitchen.  I think they are so gorgeous.



The dining room opens off the kitchen. 


image The dining room used to be red, but the owner painted it a light yellow.  The chairs are from her grandmother and there are two different styles – repainted white, they blend together.   The prints had not been hung when she sent me these pictures.


image I love the white marble and I love the stainless appliances.   I said that I chose my appliances for their pretty handles and it looks like the homeowner did the same thing – I love the handles on her refrigerator and the dishwasher. 

Thank you so much to the homeowner for sending in these pictures!  You did a great job!!!!