Gratitude for Awesome Awards and Achievements

Gratitude changes everythingAn “Attitude of Gratitude” Helps!

Top innovators award 2019The phone rang at 7:15 am on October 4, not an unusual time for a client or contractor to call. My husband, Jay, answered the phone then said, “It’s a lady from Kitchen-Bath Design News.”

I thought, “They probably want to renew my subscription.”

“Hello, this is Diane.”

“Good Morning, Diane, this is Autumn McGarr. I’m an editor with Kitchen-Bath Design News. I’m calling to tell you that you’ve been included in this year’s ‘Top 50 Innovators.’ Congratulations!”

“Wow, that’s fantastic! Thank you so much!”

This couldn’t have come at a better time. I was in the final stages of a kitchen project that had taken a toll on my confidence. I knew that this experience had multiple learning opportunities. I know that a positive “attitude of gratitude” can help, especially when I’m going through challenges. In the few minutes after the phone call, I re-visited the highlights of the past 35 years, feeling deep gratitude for everything. I’m sharing this personal history with you, hoping that it provides inspiration to keep going, even in tough times.

Subwoofer + Satellite Speakers1979 – Sound Systems and Interior Design

In 1979, customers at our stereo stores in San Francisco and Palo Alto wanted great but visually-unobtrusive music in their homes. At that time, the satellite+subwoofer and surround sound concepts had just become popular. Our employees were eager for Sound Systems to become an early advocate for this new technology. We offered a round flat top with a floor-length skirt for the subwoofer that would make it look like a side table. I learned that the heaviest fabric won’t affect the deep bass notes at all.

Our Palo Alto store manager figured out how to build top-quality speakers into walls, and we’d provide custom grille cloths to blend with the walls. We also figured out how to effectively hide the components so customers’ living rooms didn’t look like a recording studio with a multitude of blinking lights and volume gages.

Furniture placement is very important for serious listeners to sit in the “sweet spot” for maximum realistic stereo effect. Jay and our employees would take care of the technical details, and I would help our customers rearrange furniture to achieve the look they wanted. Jay observed how much I enjoyed doing this. “Why don’t you think about taking interior design classes?” he asked. I thought about it — for about five minutes. It took another ten minutes to find a local college that had an interior design department.  I could work with Jay at Sound Systems while taking two classes a semester. Was I filled with gratitude? You bet!

Going out of business sign1982 – Sound Systems, the Recession and Repercussions

Three years later, the recession killed Sound Systems. Interest rates rose to over 20%. At the same time, video and computer technology affected consumers’ spending habits. We had already closed the San Francisco store. With dwindling sales, we decided to close the Palo Alto store, too. I was in the middle of finals week, working with Jay and our remaining employees to sell everything at a huge discount. We had big “Going Out Of Business” signs on all the windows.

After working all day, I drank strong coffee to stay awake, studying and working on final projects.  Negative thoughts tried to invade my brain, “You’re a failure!” or “What are you going to do now?” and worst of all, my mother’s harsh words, “I told you so.” But I powered through. Concentrating on the creative projects helped tremendously.

One night in particular is an experience Jay and I will never forget. He agreed to drive one of our employees home, so I drove home by myself. When Jay got home around 8:30, he discovered me on the kitchen floor, incoherent and unable to talk, with blood around my mouth and on my chin. He said that my tongue looked like a piece of raw hamburger. He took me to the local emergency room, where they confirmed that I’d had a grand mal seizure. Too much stress and not enough sleep caused an electrical storm in my brain. They gave me a whopping dose of medications to prevent another seizure, and told Jay to watch me carefully.

Around 2:00 a.m., the phone rang. It was the Palo Alto Police Department, “Sorry to tell you this, but thieves backed a van through one of the front windows and cleaned out your store. You’ll need to be here to identify the equipment we recovered and supervise while the window is boarded up.”

The next day, Jay confided, “That was living Hell for me. I didn’t want to leave you alone, but I had to.” The equipment, worth over $100,000.00, was damaged beyond repair or sale. We gave away the equipment, closed the doors and walked away. We  paid our employees’ salaries and severance, and we paid all of the manufacturers’ invoices instead of filing for bankruptcy. It was a real test of a positive attitude of gratitude. We learned lessons, and we could start over.

Career Journey Graphic After Sound Systems: Gratitude for New Beginnings

I recovered from the seizure and became a sales-designer with a local custom cabinet maker and remodeler while finishing the design classes. Jay became a salesperson for computers and accessories. In June, I graduated with multiple degrees in Interior Design, Lighting Design, Bath Design, and Kitchen Design. Interior design was interesting, but the kitchen and bath classes had whetted my desire to specialize.

All of the classes and mentoring provided the foundation for the rest of my career. I also learned a lot about myself.  For every assignment, I was compelled to work harder and longer to get what I believed would be barely-acceptable grades. I was shocked by the high grades and accolades I received for the assignments and tests. “Not good enough” feelings plagued me constantly.

Interior Design Education, Graduation and First Award

I admired and respected all of the teachers, but there was one in particular that I’ll never forget, Hub McDaniel. I’m filled with gratitude for his impact on my professional life. He was an advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act, advising us frequently, “Learn everything you can about accessibility and start using it in all of your projects.” His advice stuck with me, one of the major reasons I became a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. He also said, “Pass the NCIDQ examination. It’s the best way for you to prove a high level of professionalism with education, examination, and experience.” I added the NCIDQ to the Certified Bath Designer and Certified Kitchen Designer examinations, and successfully passed all three.

Accolades FLW DoghouseHub’s biggest impact on me, though, was being a raving fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. He included examples of Mr. Wright’s genius in his lectures. The final exam for his class was to design dog houses, showing knowledge of different types of roof styles. One of my examples had a flat roof with deep eaves. There were banks of  narrow windows on three sides, and a doorway on the fourth side flanked with two flat bowls on pedestal bases. The “architect” signed the perspective: Frank Lloyd Woof. Hub’s influence on me is the reason that Jay and I are living in the dream home that I designed, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Gordon House” in the Oregon Garden.

Newspaper article about Henry Adams AwardEvery year, teachers and students in the Interior Design Department selected one graduating student to receive the “Henry Adams Award.” There were many students who were top contenders. All of them had more talent and ability than I did. When they chose me for the award, I was sure they had made a mistake, or I was having a dream. Clarellen Adams announced the award, and said that the person receiving the award had proven a high commitment to becoming a professional interior designers. That’s when it sunk in that attitude and effort guarantee better results. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

I was lucky to have a few minutes of private conversation with Mrs. Adams, who had developed the famous Design Center in San Francisco with her late husband, Henry. They were dynamos in the interior design community, and masters of marketing. She gave me advice that I followed immediately, “Send out press releases about your award to all local newspapers and magazines. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.” She was absolutely right!

June, 1984: The Birth of D. P. Design and First Clients

It was hard to believe how many people read the articles and called me to help them redesign a kitchen or bathroom. It was time to quit my job at the cabinet shop and establish D. P. Design. One lady who called reminded me about meeting I’d had with her and her husband when I was still employed with the cabinet maker. “I saw the article about you in the Mercury News. We haven’t remodeled our kitchen yet, and we’d like you to help us.” Gratitude filled me like a glass with bubbling champagne.

Accolade kitchen beforeThe original kitchen felt like a dungeon. It had dark stained cabinets, olive-green carpeting and olive-green tile counters. The only light source was a glaring fluorescent fixture that encircled a large skylight. We worked together to achieve a well-lit kitchen where they could display their collection of Red Skelton clown figurines. The couple also collected original Red Skelton clown paintings, which were used as inspiration for colorful accessories.

Accolade kitchen in magazineThe remodeled kitchen included a custom induction cooktop, a commercial wok, a gas cooktop, Sub-Zero refrigerator and a Thermador micro-thermal oven. Induction cooktops are popular now, but at the time this kitchen was created, there was only one manufacturer of induction cooktops, “Fasar.” I recommended  a local artist  to paint the hot water heater door in the walk-in pantry. It was a portrait of the wife, who was pregnant at the time, a golf enthusiast, dressed up like a clown. She’s sitting barefoot on a stool, in front of a window, with a frying pan in one hand and a golf club in the other hand. The bottom of her apron reads, “I’d rather be golfing.”

A Brunshwig fabric that had a circle of flowers was perfect for window treatments in the adjoining eating nook. The same fabric was inspiration for hand-painted 12×12 “Fasar” tiles and a mural behind the gas cooktop and wok. Three-dimensional custom stained-glass doors had the same motif of colorful flowers and butterflies. With Jay’s help, I created a way to light the stained glass with low-voltage automobile dome lights. It would be more than 30 years  before LED strip lights became popular. One aspect of an “attitude of gratitude” is openness to possibilities and creative problem solving.

I had an “itchy-twitchy” feeling about this project, about all of the unique features in the kitchen. A well-known architectural photographer captured the kitchen with his 4×5 camera. Remembering Clarellen Adams’ advice, I sent press releases to local newspapers and magazines, but no one was interested. Then I remembered a discussion with the editor of Kitchen & Bath Business magazine at a seminar I’d attended. She said, “We’re always interested in projects. Send us copies of photos and detailed information.”

First Major Accolade

Accolade Kitchen PantryI sent everything about the project to the magazine in April, 1986. Five months went by and I was ready to give up until one of the editors called in mid-September. “We’re thinking about including your kitchen project in an upcoming issue. Do you have time to answer a few questions?” That phone call lasted for over an hour. I anxiously anticipated arrival of the October issue. Nothing about the project. The November issue didn’t include my project either. “Okay,” I thought, “this project wasn’t good enough for such a well-known publication after all.”

In December, the first west-coast Kitchen-Bath Industry Show was being held in Long Beach. The huge convention hall was packed with hundreds of exhibits featuring latest technology and design elements. Thousands of attendees from all over the country and several foreign countries played “bumper bodies” in the aisles, trying to see the exhibits. Kitchen & Bath Business magazine had a large booth at the center of the exhibits. As we approached, I saw a continuous row of their December issue displayed on every inch of countertop. Then I saw the cover. There was my kitchen project!

The Impact of Awards, Accolades, Medals, and Prizes

Ever since that wonderful day in December, getting third-party acknowledgement for a job well done, I know the gratitude that athletes feel when they win gold medals at the Olympics; how medical researchers feel when they discover a cure for an insidious disease; the pride and gratitude that Nobel Prize winners feel; how performers feel when they are given a lifetime-achievement award; the over-the-moon joy that new parents feel.

This is how I felt when Autumn McGarr called in October, filled with gratitude about inclusion with 49 innovators in my industry. In no way does the inclusion in the Top 50 Innovators mean that I’m better than anyone else in my profession. It’s an acknowledgment for commitment to excellence in all ways, at all times. An accomplishment, award, prize, or medal for one of us is a major achievement for all of us — inspiration and motivation to be better and do better. Above all, to have gratitude for everything in life.

To see a complete list with links to all Awards and Press that D. P. Design has received, click here to visit the page.  If you want to update your home with a home addition, a remodeled kitchen or bathroom, call today! 503-632-8801. I’d love to chat with you about your goals and how D. P. Design can help you achieve them!

Best Bathroom Details Help to Make Great Decisions

Best bathroom details for a personal retreat

Best Bathroom Details Help To Make Great Decisions

You need the best bathroom details to help you avoid confusion and frustration, to make great decisions for a safe, functional, and relaxing personal retreat! There’s so much that you can include in your new master or guest bathroom, so many details to think about. Do you know that remodeling a master bathroom can be a higher investment per square foot than a kitchen? That’s why it’s important to use these authoritative bathroom details, to make informed decisions about everything, and avoid expensive mistakes!

When homeowners are thinking about remodeling a master (or guest) bathroom, the first inclination is to look at countertop materials and tile immediately. This is okay, but it may lead to confusion and delay other more important decisions, like plumbing and plumbing fittings, and cabinetry. Your first decision for your bathroom remodel is: what style do you want? If you didn’t read my last blog (or listen to my podcast), “Essential Details Are Critical For Your New Kitchen,” I suggest that you read at least the first part, where I list the different styles to choose from.

A standard bathroom includes a toilet, a lavatory sink, cabinetry, a tub and/or shower, plumbing fittings, and fiinishes (countertop/backsplash, floors, walls). What’s the big deal about  bathroom details? Let’s look at each one of these items separately:

TOILET DETAILS:

Yes, you can have a toilet that’s similar to the one you have now, but your new toilet will be equipped with water-saving features which will save you money. Your investment can be less than $200 for a white, two-piece, short-front toilet with exposed P-trap on the side below the bowl. Your investment can grow exponentially if you want a toilet with the following features and benefits:

  • Wall-mount (can be installed at any height; easy to clean underneath);
  • Floor-mount with a skirt that hides the ugly P-trap (easier to clean);
  • Elongated bowl (provides better ergonomics);
  • Dual-flush buttons (extra water saving);
  • Bidet seat (better personal hygiene and healthier than using tissue);
  • High-fashion color;
  • Composting.

Several manufacturers offer a wide range of toilet styles, including models that provide ultimate personal hygiene and luxury:

If you want to be scandalized by really expensive toilets, here’s the article to read: https://moneyinc.com/the-five-most-expensive-toilets-in-the-world/

LAVATORY-SINK DETAILS:

The word “lavatory” is derived from 1325–75 Middle English lavatorie which came from Late Latin lavātōrium washing-place, equivalent to Latin lavā(re) to wash. “Lavatory” in Britain refers to a flushing toilet. Americans use “sink,” whether it’s for a kitchen or a bathroom. Sinks are available in four shapes: (1) Oval; (2) Rectangular; (3) Round; and (4) Square.

There are six specific installation methods:

  • Top-mount (set into the countertop with the rim exposed);
  • Top-mount “vessel” (the entire sink sits on top of the countertop);
  • Under-mount (installed under the countertop; rim must be flat and unfinished);
  • Under-mount with front edge overhang (often referred to as “European”);
  • Integral (manufactured from and part of a solid surface countertop, i.e., Corian);
  • Wall-mount with or without a supporting pedestal or legs.

Vessel Sinks:

Vessel sinks have been very popular for several years. Vessel sinks are wonderful for powder rooms that don’t get used often – and they make a great focal point. There are limitations or requirements to keep in mind if you’re interested in vessel sinks:

  • If the bowl is tall, you’ll need to lower your countertop so the top of the bowl is at the height your countertop would be (more about this in the cabinet  section).
  • They require a taller faucet than normal, or mounting the filler and valves on the wall.
  • Think about how difficult it might be to clean the base of the vessel sink; I recommend that you resist the typical round (or oval) bowl that creates a tight “V” where the sink meets the countertop because you’ll have to use a Q-tip to clean the area.

Sinks can be made from a plethora of materials: Brass, bronze, ceramic, copper, glass, porcelain,  resin,  solid surface (i.e., Corian), stainless steel, stone, and wood. Your investment in a lavatory sink can range from a low of $150 to over $1,000.

CABINETS:

Cabinets can be any style, made of natural wood or painted wood. Homeowners prefer kitchen-height cabinets (36” finished countertop height) over shorter heights (30” – 33” finished countertop height) for two main reasons:

  • Provides more storage (equivalent to one more drawer)
  • Reduces back strain (no cantilevering of the body when bending over the sink)

All-in-one units that include the cabinet, countertop, lavatory sink, and faucet have grown in popularity because the decision-making time can be greatly reduced, and these units are competitively priced. But you may have to forego one or more features (like the countertop material or cabinet color) to get other features. An online search for “lavatory vanity cabinets” yielded 2,380,000 results! Popularity verified!

TUB OR SHOWER:

The majority of homeowners remodeling a master bathroom prefer a large (two-person) shower to a tub-shower combination, unless bathing is a necessity (usually requested by the wife). House Beautiful has an excellent article about this subject. If you have the room for a large shower and a separate tub, that’s great! However, your tub decision is a critical detail to consider. The popularity of free-standing tubs has grown in the past five years. Yes, they’re beautiful, but they’re unsafe because they require the bather to straddle the tub while getting in or out. Think about this: What if the floor or the tub is wet and slippery? The best way to enter and exit a tub is to sit on the edge and swing your legs in or out while you’re holding onto a grab bar. Most free-standing tubs do not support sitting on the edge.

Yes, grab bars are an essential bathroom detail to include. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 235,000 people over age 15 visit emergency rooms because of injuries suffered in the bathroom, and almost 14 percent are hospitalized. More than a third of the injuries – about 78,000 – happen while bathing or showering.

PLUMBING FITTINGS:

These include your sink faucet and tub-shower water supply and water controls (valves). Your sink faucet is named by the type of water control:

  • Dual control (valves on both sides)
  • Single control (valve on top or on the side)

Your investment in a sink faucet can range from $300 to over $1,500. It’s popular to have an electronic control in addition to the valve(s) that turns the water on or off when you wave your hand in front of it. Of course, you’ll pay extra for this feature.

There are hundreds of different styles of plumbing fittings available, from ultra contemporary to ultra traditional and everything in between. The available finishes are also part of your decision, especially if you want all of your bathroom fittings to match. Not all manufacturers have the finish you like in the style that appeals to you, so you may end up buying all of your plumbing fittings from one manufacturer. Here’s a list of finishes to consider:

  • Brass (antique, burnished, polished, satin); should have a “lifetime protective finish” to prevent tarnishing
  • Bronze (the finish may be affected by exposure to hard water)
  • Chrome (brushed, polished, satin)
  • Copper (the finish may be affected by exposure to hard water)
  • Nickel (antique, black, brushed, polished)
  • Powder coated (black, red, white, and other colors)
  • Stainless steel

Shower Fittings:

If your bathroom will include a new shower, you have many options available that can be confusing. Understanding the Different Types of Tub & Shower Valves is an excellent article to explain what valves are and how they work. There are also diverter valves that can switch different water supplies on and off for maximum control. Diverters can be a separate valve or they may be included with the temperature and pressure valve that turns the water on and off. Then there are choices for water distribution:

  • Fixed shower heads with multiple types of spray
    • “Standard” wall mount
    • Rainhead wall mount
    • Rainhead ceiling mount
  • Adjustable shower heads
  • Personal shower heads on a slide bar
  • Body sprays

Here’s a list of bathroom plumbing manufacturers that I recommend to my clients:

BATHROOM FINISHES – COUNTERTOP:

Confusion creeps in when you think about all of your available choices and patterns for your bathroom countertop. You have to think about your color scheme, whether you want your countertop to blend or contrast. Of course, you must consider your investment, too, because your decision has to fit into your target budget. Several years ago, I wrote a blog entitled “Bathroom and Kitchen) Countertops – An Overview” that had three follow-up sections that detailed the pros and cons of the different types of countertops: 1/3, 2/3, and 3/3.

BATHROOM FINISHES – BACKSPLASH, FLOOR, WALLS:

Your bathroom finishes can be anything you want them to be. For inspiration, visit the Houzz website, where you can see inspirational pictures. A certified bathroom designer knows about the best materials for your lifestyle and budget. You can find a certified bathroom designer at the National Kitchen and Bath Association website.

SAFETY AND ACCESSIBILITY:

Bathroom safety should be your highest priority, followed by function and appearance. Your bathroom flooring should have a texture for safety. Shiny tile or polished stone will become slippery like ice when wet. Matte or honed finishes can also be dangerous, as I discovered two weeks ago when I fell in our bathroom because there was a wet spot on the floor. A previous blog talks about why bathroom safety is so important. Curbless showers with linear drains are being requested by many homeowners. A recent project converted a powder room into a fully-accessible bathroom. Click on the link to see details.

IN CONCLUSION:

In this blog, I’ve covered the best bathroom details to help you. Remodeling a bathroom can be confusing and frustrating, if you don’t have access to an experienced, certified bathroom designer.  A qualified designer has education, training and experience to personally guide you through all of the important decisions, and to prepare detailed plans reflecting all of your decisions.  I hope my podcasts and blogs help you make informed decisions about all of the important details for your remodeling and building projects, to reduce stress, limit confusion and frustration. My goal is to help you achieve a personal haven of tranquility and safety that reflects your lifestyle and priorities within a reasonable budget.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: BEST BATHROOM DETAILS HELP TO MAKE GREAT DECISIONS


As a Certified Master Kitchen-Bath Designer, I can (and will) help you make all layout and product decisions for your remodeled bathroom. Read more about me, then call 503-632-8801 so we can talk about your remodeling needs.

How Can You Avoid Construction Horror Stories?

How Can You Avoid Construction Horror Stories?

How can you avoid construction horror stories? You can do it! These are not the typical ghost stories you hear around a campfire. But you may have heard your family and acquaintances talk about construction horror stories at social gatherings.  Exceeing the budget. Not meeting the deadline. Contractors not showing up, or doing lousy work. D-I-Y disasters. In 35 years, I’ve heard and read about, and experienced similar horror stories. What makes me sad is that most of the problems encountered could have been avoided.

Avoidable Horror Story: Wallpaper That Ended Up On the Floor, Not The Wall

I worked for a custom cabinet and remodeling company after finishing design school. It was fall and business had slowed down from the peak summertime projects. A couple in Half Moon Bay, California had been saving for years and hired my employer to remodel their master bathroom. I helped them make all the product decisions which included heavily-textured vinyl wallcovering. The husband worked swing shift at the San Francisco Airport, and normally got home between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. Knowing that the project was winding down, he went into the bathroom to see what had been done when he got home from work. Later, I found out that he sat on the toilet for over four hours, watching the wallpaper slide down the walls like a slithering snake. When he called me at 6:00 a.m., it was easy to tell that he had a hard time controlling his anger.  What had happened?

I learned later that my boss had sent two of the cabinet manufacturing employees to install the wallcovering. They assumed that it was prepasted, and soaked it in water then applied it to the walls. The only thing that made the wallpaper stick to the wall was the heavy texture that acted like tiny suction cups! My boss had to replace the wallcovering, and hire a professional wallpaper hanger to redo the job that his employees had botched.  The homeowners were satisfied with the results, but not without frustration and hassles. They had done absolutely nothing wrong, assuming that my employer would take care of them in every way.

How to avoid this nightmare: Unfortunately, there’s no way for homeowners to know who a contractor is hiring, unless they ask for a list of everyone who’s going to be working in their home. The important lesson is — whether it’s a contractor or a homeowner — don’t let the lure of saving money cloud an important decision that has a high probability of negative results.

A Ghoulish Tale About Lack of Communication

With my first client after establishing D. P. Design, I learned the importance of communication among the remodeling team members. The homeowners had a general contractor who they wanted to hire. They demanded to hire an independent electrician for their project instead of letting the general use one of his subs.  I didn’t realize until later what a problem it would create. The G.C. and the electrician refused to communicate. Everything seemed to be progressing smoothly, until a heavy storm system rolled through our area. The day before, the electrician was penetrating the roof and running wires into the kitchen and didn’t tell anyone about the holes he’d created. The contractor called me to report that the new custom cabinets were all wet. He demanded that I call the electrician and the homeowners to report what had happened, to let them know that he wasn’t going to clean up the mess.

The homeowners were caught in the middle of a dog fight.  They demanded that the electrician pay the G.C. for cleaning up the jobsite and repairing the roof. Fortunately, the cabinets weren’t damaged.

How to avoid horror stories like this: Ask questions — lots of them! Discover if the contractor you’re hiring has employees and regular subcontractors. More important, talk with the contractor about tradespeople or suppliers you know. Be especially careful about hiring friends or family members to work on your project. These relationships have a high failure rate.

The Root of Most Construction Horror Stories: D-I-Y

In the past 35-plus years, I’ve heard and read about D-I-Y horror stories, and I’ve lived them firsthand. Often, the decision to tackle a project is driven by the need or desire to save money. But homeowners can also be lulled into a false sense of  “I/we can do this!” — especially after watching how easy a project seems to be on TV or videos on the internet.  My husband and I have had our share of construction horror stories. Most of these nightmares happened because we thought we could save money. We didn’t!

I’ve written about D-I-Y remodeling disasters before! Read this blog for more information! I’ve also written about the problems created by remodeling reality shows setting homeowners up for serious problems.

Floors are a BIG Challenge For D-I-Yers!

We had major problems refinishing the wood floors in our first home.  Looking back on it, we can laugh. But at the time, it was not funny. The first disaster was when we were refinishing the floors in a den adjacent to the entry hall that we intended to convert to a dining room. The oak strip floor had been covered with carpeting and needed to be freshened up. My husband did the sanding around the perimeter of the room. I decided to sand the middle of the room with the drum sander we’d rented, while he was at work.  Everything was going fine until I had to change the sandpaper and didn’t pay attention to how the metal plate held the sandpaper in place. When I turned on the machine again and started moving the sander across the floor, I noticed big chunks of the floor were being spewed out. The screws that held the plate in place were digging and carving the floor with every pass! There was nothing to do but pay a flooring company to extend the parquet from the entry hall into the dining room.  It turned out beautiful, but it was an expensive learning lesson.

Did we learn a lesson? Yes, and no. We didn’t make the same mistake when we refinished the floors in my home office, but that project turned into a horror story, too. After we sanded the floor, we decided to work together to apply the urethane. I was on my hands and knees with a wide brush intended for refinishing floors. My husband stood over my shoulder and carefully poured puddles of urethane that I then spread uniformly. So what was the problem? I noticed that no matter how hard I tried, there were millions of “fuzzies” in the finish. My husband was wearing wooly socks! We had to re-sand the floor and vacuum it thoroughly before applying the urethane. This time, my husband was barefoot! We got the results we wanted, but it cost more for extra days for the drum sander rental, plus more urethane. And it nearly tripled the amount of time we’d allotted to do this project.

A friend of ours had a floor refinishing disaster when he was doing repair and maintenance for his landlord in exchange for a lower rent. He lived in a beautiful Victorian three-story home that had been converted into apartments. Victorian homes are known for rich and ornate woodworking that includes heavily-carved wainscoting and moldings. Everything seemed to be going fine — didn’t we just read this? — until the drum sander stopped working. Dead. Then Ed remembered the age of the building and realized that he’d probably blown a fuse. So he went down to the electrical panel in the basement and verified that he had blown a fuse. Fortunately, there were spare fuses available, so he replaced the bad fuse with a good one. Immediately after the last turn of the fuse, he heard the drum sander come to life over his head. Although he immediately ran up the stairs, he was too late to stop the mess that the sander had created. It had bounced off the walls, tearing up all the beautiful woodwork, and dug a trench in the floor.

“Let’s Take Out This Wall” D-I-Y Near-Disaster

Homeowners called me to help them solve a problem they’d created. Empty-nesters with a five-bedroom home, they decided to convert a bedroom that was adjacent to their master bedroom into a sitting room. They bought or borrowed a sledge hammer, and on a Saturday morning, the husband started swinging the massive tool of destruction at the wall between the two rooms. After removing several studs, he heard the ceiling and roof creaking and groaning, and he could see the ceiling sagging. He realized that he was taking out a bearing wall! He immediately grabbed a hammer and nails and reinstalled the studs to stabilize the structure. When I met with the couple, we talked about what needed to be done: hire a structural engineer and a contractor so they could have the master suite they desired. It was relatively easy, and the end results were wonderful. They didn’t know what they didn’t know, and they hadn’t thought about everything before they started removing the bearing wall. They ended up replacing the carpeting in both rooms, because they didn’t realize that there would be a gap where the wall had been.

Hints, How-To, and Tips for D-I-Yers

How To Avoid D-I-Y Disasters: Yes, it’s difficult. But not impossible! Before tackling  any D-I-Y project, we need to research the logical steps involved and the tools required. We also need to read about other people’s experience with a similar project. The biggest challenge to overcome is our mindset.  What’s really driving the need to do the work instead of hiring a professional? There are many reasons why homeowners get trapped by D-I-Y projects, but the most obvious one is money, or the lack of funds to hire a professional. Before doing the work, think about how much you have for the project, and how much you think you’re going to save. Statistics verify that most D-I-Y projects end up being a higher investment than the budget allotted. Often, the actual investment exceeds what homeowners would pay a professional to do the work. Additionally, it usually takes three to four times as long for homeowners to achieve the results they think they want.

One of my first instructors in design school frequently said, “There are only two ways to pay for anything. You can take it out of your bank account, or take it out of your hide.”  Not all D-I-Y projects are disasters. The successful projects are most often done by people who know their strengths and weaknesses. My husband is an excellent tile setter. Slow, yes. But he takes his time to do it right, and gets  consistently straight grout joints. And he’s a master with a spray gun, whether it’s applying paint to a room or lacquer to cabinets. But I don’t let him lay his hands on rollers and brushes!  He’s also very knowledgeable about anything electrical or electronic. Because of his talents, we’ve saved a bundle of money over the years.

I’m going to be brutally honest. As a D-I-Yer, you’re not likely to achieve the same results that a professional would, in the amount of time it would take a professional to do the job. What is your time worth? Are you willing to live with a daily reminder of a botched job? My husband says this often, mostly in reply to a “honey do” request: “If you want a professional job, hire a professional.” Here’s one of my favorite quotes that applies to virtually all construction horror stories:

The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

In Conclusion

What I shared with you is a very small sampling of construction nightmares that I’ve heard and read about. To satisfy  curiosity before writing this blog, I did an internet search for “construction horror stories” which yielded millions of results. But reviewing the past 35 years in this business, the number of successes that my colleagues and I have achieved exceeds horror stories by a ten-to-one ratio.  To be perfectly honest, I believe that there are very few absolute successes and absolute failures.  The desire, the hope for success is what keeps us all moving forward.

Listen To The Podcast: Construction Horror Stories

I can and will help you with your home building or remodeling project! I truly care about helping you stay within a reasonable budget, and achieve the best results possible. Contact me today! Let’s talk about your goals.

Recent Topics: An Astounding Mashup!

Recent Topics: An Astounding Mashup For Homeowners!

Recent Topic #1: Appliances

Recent Topics: Whirlpool Appliance, New ColorRecent topics are being revisited in this blog, starting with appliances. I was excited to visit the largest appliance store in Oregon, Standard TV & Appliance, to see the new Whirlpool “Sunset Bronze” appliances. They are elegant! The brushed finish is a warm gray, like nickel. I love the handles, which are a cool stainless steel color, blending the two metals perfectly! For my listeners in the greater Portland area, the Beaverton showroom at  3600 S.W. Hall Boulevard, is selling the floor models of the “Sunset Bronze” appliances at a fantastic price! The suite includes a french-door refrigerator, dual-fuel range and a microwave-hood. It’s difficult to hold my frustration at bay, though.   I really wish manufacturers would listen to professional kitchen designers and discontinue making microwave-hood combinations. They’re not safe, and they don’t provide good suction! Safety has to be the #1 priority in all home remodeling!

While I was there, my new dedicated salesperson, Christi, showed me the Dacor “Modernist” display with clean no-nonsense lines. Oh, it’s gorgeous! Their full line of products is available in black stainless steel or stainless steel. One of the many things I love about the new Dacor products is their Wifi integration. Christi showed me how the hood automatically turns on when she turned on the range. This is a wonderful safety feature!

Exhaust Hoods: Safety Features and Code Requirements

Here are safety tips I share with everyone:

  • Remember to turn on your exhaust before you turn on your cooktop.
  • Your hood should be 6” wider than your cooking surface. This gives you more area to collect steam and grease while you’re cooking, and it protects wall cabinets on both sides of the hood.
  • There should be 30” clear vertical space from the top of your cooking surface to the bottom of the hood.
  • You’ll need make-up air if:
    • You’re interested in a new high-BTU gas cooktop or rangetop
    • If your hood is rated at 400 cfm or more.

Your exhaust hood should be powerful enough to clear the air. But in today’s tight homes, you’ll have to add another source to maintain equal pressure balance inside your home. Your investment in make-up air will add $1,000 or more to your project. Make-up air is a code requirement in most states, and there’s no way to avoid it.

Recent Topics #2.1: Behr Paint Colors

Recent Topics: Behr Color Palettes 2020

Two weeks ago, I talked about color and paint. August is when major paint manufacturers start introducing their new colors for the coming year. Behr and Sherwin-Williams have announced their new color trends for 2020, and Miller Paint has introduced new colors, although they avoid the word “trend.”

The paint giant recently released a trend-driven collection of 15 shades they’re predicting will take over interiors in 2020. The collection is named Restore, Worldhood, and Atmospheric. The colors include a range of balanced neutrals and earthy greens to “lavish oranges.” In a recent press release, Behr said, “The new palette sources inspiration from the desire to engage with the world around us and restore balance in our everyday lives.”

Back to Nature delivers the most literal interpretation of the landscape around us. It includes soothing shades of green and blue, to “provide restorative qualities to encourage balance,” says Behr. Because of their calming, de-stressing effects, the shades within the Restore palette are great choices in a bedroom or home office.

If you’re looking for something a bit bolder, Behr’s Worldhood palette is your best bet that includes warm red, yellow, and burnt orange. The palette is reminiscent of electric sunsets and “natural rugged landscapes.” Try it in a room that sees a lot of guests, as the overall warmth of the shades translates to an inviting environment for hosting.

Behr’s Atmospheric palette delivers “new neutrals” in a collection that’s anything but boring. This palette is perfect for every room in your home, and you can choose colors from the other two palettes for accents.

Here’s a link to Behr’s new 2020 color palette: https://freshome.com/behr-2020-color-trends-palettes

Homes are a living example of the family that occupies them. Each family member -– each room — has its own personality, but every one complements the others, to create a unique, unified environment.

Recent Topics #2.2: Sherwin-Williams Paint Colors

Recent Topics: Sherwin-Williams Paint Colors 2020

On August 13, Sherwin-Williams announced its color palettes for 2020. There are five distinct categories for the new colors: Alive, Haven, Heart, Mantra, and Play. Here’s what Sherwin- Williams says: “The new 2020 Colormix Forecast palettes work to create restorative spaces for relaxing, recharging and inviting creativity. This forecast resonates with designers for its warm and nature-inspired palettes. In nature, it’s always right. The new palettes also bring a sense of joy. Whether your happiness comes from people, nature or spirituality, each palette evokes happiness. It’s about the balance of color and the striking shades of blue and the soft pastels throughout the color story.”

“With so much going on in the world, it’s important that we give ourselves space to escape and recharge. Using colors derived from nature provides us the connectedness and restorative powers that we need to tackle our day-to-day lives. This year’s color trend palettes foster focus and balance for mind, body and spirit — something most of the experts agree is needed in the world right now. 2020 is going to be a big year for everyone. We are starting a new decade, and it’s an election year. All of this change affects us, making us crave balance in our lives, so it makes sense that these palettes offer visual balance for our surroundings.”

It’s interesting that Sherwin-Williams created special mandalas for each color group, and defined each with positive influences:

Alive: Optimism, Authenticity, Glocalization*, New Local

Haven: Simplicity, Wabi-Sabi, Conservation, Material Health

Heart: Bauhaus, Bohemian, Fusion, Humanity

Mantra: Minimalism, Serenity, Scandinese*, Sanctuary

Play: Escapism, Humor, Joy, Energy

I love to learn new words! *Glocalization is the practice of conducting business according to both local and global considerations. *Scandinese (or Japandi) is the fusion between Scandinavian and Japanese design that are based on simplicity with a strong reference to nature, first introduced in 2017.

Here is the link where you can see Sherwin-Williams’ new 2020 color forecast: https://www.swcolorforecast.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SW-Colormix.2020.pdf

Behr and Sherwin-Williams are large companies with big advertising budgets. By contrast, there’s a paint company based in the Northwest that’s my favorite: Miller Paint. The company was formed in 1890 by Ernest Miller, Sr., who purchased a stone mill and began manufacturing his own paint. I just learned that Miller Paint is employee owned. That’s a keystone to their success, and an important element of the company culture that’s both empowering and exciting. Love their logo: “Made here, for here.”

It was interesting to discover that Miller is the only paint company that talks about environmental commitment. They say, “Miller Paint was first in the market to convert our main line of interior products, ‘Acro,’ to a zero VOC product line in 1996. it has received rave reviews for its performance qualities. . . and demonstrate the company’s commitment to being an environmentally responsible manufacturer in the marketplace.” Most recently, Miller Paint started the move to FSC certified recycled content paper for their product literature. In their corporate offices and stores, Miller Paint recycles bottles, paper, cardboard and cans.

Miller Paint currently participates in two utility-based environmental programs: The Green Power program through PGE, which helps to fund renewable energy, and NW Natural’s Smart Energy program – a carbon-offset program that supports projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Miller Paint works directly with Metro, the directly elected regional government that serves more than 1.5 million residents in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties, as well as the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, to recycle unused or unwanted latex paint. Metro Paint is sold by Miller Paint. There is a great internal program for recycling and re-purposing latex paints into workable products. WOW!!!

Miller does have a palette of 15 new colors, the “Color Now” collection. They also feature a “color of the month” that’s in their ColorEvolution collection. Other paint companies use flowery marketing words and flashy advertising to sell their paint. But for a local gal whose family always used Miller Paint, this is what I recommend if you are thinking about updating your home’s colors. Here’s a link where you can get more information about Miller Paint colors: https://www.millerpaint.com/color-choice.html

New Topics #1: Homeowner Problems (and how to avoid them!)

Hiring A Contractor Without Checking License and References

I’m so grateful to homeowners for providing me with current topics to talk about! Last week, I had a meeting with a homeowner who told me that her husband hired a contractor to build a deck for them and didn’t bother to check the contractor’s license status or check references. You’re way ahead of me! Yes, the project went sideways, and the homeowners don’t have any way to get the deck fixed other than hire another contractor. She didn’t tell me how much money they paid for a lousy deck, but I’m guessing it was thousands of dollars. The bottom line? Always verify a contractor’s license, bonding, and insurance status. Ask for and check references!

Verbal Change Orders

Recent Topics: Change OrderI received an email from a client, telling me that the contractor verbally told her about change orders that amount to over $1,000. Change orders do happen, unfortunately. There’s at least one mystery story behind the walls in every home. Change orders (even small ones!) need to be detailed in writing before the work is done! Change orders should include:

  • Written description of the work to be done
  • Breakdown for materials with a subtotal
  • Breakdown for labor, including the number of hours
  • The markup or margin
  • Total for the change order

There should be a place for you to sign and date the change order. You should get a copy for your records and the contractor should keep a copy.

These incidents were a motivator for me to add more questions to the “Questions For and About Contractors and Designers” that’s available as a free download. Recently, clients confirmed that having and using the questions was a big help. Experience has proven time and again that honest communication and having up-front information will ultimately make your project go smoother, with fewer hassles and cost overruns.

Do you provide detailed written change orders for extra work before it’s done? (For contractors and designers)

Were detailed, written change orders given to you in writing before the work was done? (About contractors and designers)

New Topics #2: Why Hire A Kitchen Designer?

Last week, I received a link to a wonderful article in Better Homes & Gardens, “Why Hire A Kitchen Designer.” The article doesn’t specify, but the same information is true for bathroom design. If you’re thinking about remodeling your home and you’re on the fence about hiring a professional designer, this article will change your mind! I’ve been saying these same things, and more, for years. So good to read it from a reliable, trusted source!

After reading the article, I signed up to receive more information from BH&G, and learned that they have 11 sweepstakes for you to enter. The prizes are significant! For all of the sweepstakes, there are no purchases necessary, but you may get emails from the companies offering the prizes. That’s the way marketing works in today’s world!

In Conclusion:

Doing this “recent topics mashup” was fun! I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and hope that it will help you.  Did you catch the difference in emphasis between Miller Paint and the other two companies?  Behr and Sherwin-Williams use sales-oriented words and phrases in advertising to evoke an emotional response to nature, relaxation and balance. But Miller actively practices all of these concepts with their commitment to make our world a better place, starting with employee owners who really care.

Podcast: Recent Topics — An Astounding Mashup For Homeowners!

Listen now!

 

The topics in this blog are all an important to what I do, to help you achieve a successful building or remodeling project. I’m here to help! Call me today to talk about your goals: 503-632-8801.

Ten Awesome Remodeling Products For 2019

Ten Awesome Remodeling Products for 2019

Ten awesome remodeling products are featured in this blog. Pro Remodeler recently listed 100 products, but most of them are for people in the construction industry, or products I’ve written about before. Honestly, the selections were disappointing. Maybe it’s the season, maybe it’s a sign of the times. I selected these to help you plan for an upcoming (or future) home improvement project.  There’s everything from appliances to plumbing, exterior products, and flooring.  Every one of these wonderful products will enhance your home and your lifestyle!

Unique Remodeling Product #1: New Color Introduced By Whirlpool Appliances

Whirlpool is touted as the No.1-rated appliance brand and used in three out of four homes, according to independent studies. Whirlpool brands, including Amana, Maytag, KitchenAid, and JennAir, provide a full range of major kitchen appliances. There’s versatility that gives you choice from multiple styles and colors across multiple price points. Many of the products are designed and manufactured to be compatible with other smart home features.

Whirlpool Kitchen Appliances in Sunset BronzeA full suite of Whirlpool kitchen appliances is available in the new Sunset Bronze,  a fingerprint-resistant brushed satin finish with subtle warm undertones that reflect natural light, delivering a soft glow. I hope that this color becomes popular with other manufacturers, just as black stainless steel has. I’m going to visit the local appliance showroom to see how the new Sunset Bronze looks with different woods and colors, and will report my findings to you. Whirlpool has  a wide selection of appliances in  Black Stainless and Stainless Steel, too.

Whirlpool gets an A+ for this new finish, but they get an F for showing a microwave over the cooktop or range. I’ve written about this before; it’s definitely a negative safety and function issue! https://www.whirlpool.com/kitchen.html

 Bosch Oven With Side-opening Door#2: Unusual Side-Opening Oven Improves Accessibility

A complete suite of kitchen appliances from Bosch delivers thoughtful details, such as the Benchmark series’ side-opening oven doors and flush installation. This is perfect for access by people with limited mobility. Various finishes are available for wall ovens, cooktops, refrigerators, and dishwashers, including the popular Black Stainless Steel. Manufacturers have listened to consumers about wanting finishes that guard against scratches and fingerprints. Bosch also offers small-scale appliances for apartments, ADUs, and other tight spaces. https://www.bosch-home.com/us/

Azek Deck Waterproofing ProductsAmazing Product #3: Capture And Use The Space Under A Deck!

Azek’s under-deck water management system definitely qualifies for a marvelously unique product! It’s available in white to help brighten under-deck areas. Ideal for second-story decks, the system channels water under the deck boards to a gutter and downspout. It’s a great idea! The “DrySpace” system can be used with Azek and TimberTech decking. Using it with natural wood decking or other brands of manufactured decking may negate any warranties. It’s best to check with the manufacturer before committing to use this product. Kits are available for 12-inch on-center spans in 12-foot lengths and for 16-inch on-center spans in 12- and 16-foot lengths. https://www.azek.com/

Cabinet-Tronix Exterior TV Lift

Stunning Product #4: Fantastic Exterior TV Lift System

With so many outdoor living spaces being created, it makes sense to have a TV as part of the ambiance.  A patio cover to protect the TV may not be possible, so what do homeowners do? Here’s a wonderfully unique system: a TV lift cabinet that’s meant for ourdoor use! Cabinet Tronix has introduced 10 handmade outdoor TV lift cabinet designs. There are multiple weatherproof material options for both the cabinet top and bottom, to seamlessly incorp­orate into a homeowner’s outdoor space. Materials include porcelain tile that mimics the look of wood, and Honey Natural Stacked Stone. Each cabinet is fitted with a TV lift system and backed by a 10-year warranty. The company also makes lift systems for interior use.  https://www.cabinet-tronix.com/

Strong-Tie Outdoor Accents

Extraordinary Product #5: Enhance A Pergola With Wonderful Accents

A pergola or pavilion can create an outdoor room while it enhances your garden. But the structural connectors have to look good as well as provide the long-lasting strength you need for safety. Simpson Strong-Tie, a longtime leader in structural connectors for contractors and engineers, has developed the “Outdoor Accents” system to provide both beauty and strength for outdoor projects using nominal and rough lumber sizes. The line features an innovative screw and washer combination that has the look of a traditional bolt but doesn’t require pre-drilling to ease installatio. The connectors also meet building codes for high-wind and seismic conditions. Available in a black powder-coated finish. https://www.strongtie.com/products/go/connectors/outdooraccents

Delta Magnificent Product #6: “Tesla” Plumbing

Delta’s “Tesla” Collection is a full line of bath (and kitchen) faucets that draws inspiration from organic forms found in nature. These marvelously unique products have a soft yet modern look that fits users’ hands for maximum control. They incorporate innovations that result in easier installation and better performance. Diamond Seal Technology reduces leak points and lasts twice as long as the industry standard for leak-free operation for the life of the faucet. The “Tesla” collection is available in chrome, polished nickel and stainless steel. https://www.deltafaucet.com/search-results?searchTerm=tesla&searchType=Delta_Products#resultPage=1&offset=0

Kohler Continuous-Clean ToiletsWonderful Product #7: Continuous-Cleaning Toilet Minimizes Your Effort

A housecleaning chore that everyone dislikes is scrubbing the toilet. Kohler has released its ContinuousClean technology, a system housed directly in the toilet tank. It automatically dispenses a consistent amount of toilet bowl cleaner with each flush. A three-step process keeps it simple: (1) Insert two puck-style toilet bowl cleaning tablets; (2) set the dial to the desired dispensing level; and (3) monitor the blue LED indicator light on the back of the tank to ensure the system is working. The light will turn red when it’s time for new tablets. The system houses the tablets in a reservoir separate from other toilet components to ensure that toilet performance is not affected. It operates on two AAA batteries, so no access to outlets is necessary. https://www.us.kohler.com/us/s?Ntt=continuous+clean&Ns=onSale%7C1%7C%7CP_is_AddToCart%7C1%7C%7Cnew_product_s%7C1

Cali Bamboo FlooringSpectacular Product #8: Fantastic Herringbone Bamboo Flooring

Cali Bamboo launched several new bamboo floors, including two—Riverwood (shown) and Outer Banks—made for herringbone-style installations. The other new floors are Savanna, Bordeaux, Bourbon Barrel, and Treehouse. All feature solid Fossilized bamboo construction, Cali’s proprietary manufacturing technique, which the firm says is the world’s hardest floors. Herringbone wood flooring is ideal for formal living rooms and dining rooms. The flooring is backed by a 50-year residential warranty and a 15-year commercial warranty. https://www.calibamboo.com/bamboo-flooring.html

California Faucets Hot-Cold DispenserImpressive Product #9: Cold-Hot Water Dispenser

California Faucets has added the Combination Hot and Cold Water Dispenser to its Kitchen Collection. It sports a single-handle design for a streamlined look. Homeowners may select a traditional or modern faucet body, and choose a handle from nearly a dozen options, ranging from traditional-style Porcelain Lever to contemporary Black Blade and Stick designs. Over 30 artisan finishes are available, one reason why California Faucets has always been a favorite manufacturer for my clients. Dispensers are solid brass and hand-finished at the firm’s U.S. factory. http://www.calfaucets.com/product/traditional-style-single-handle-combo-hot-and-cold-water-dispenser-9623-k10-xx

Elkay Farmhouse SinkImposing Product #10: Farmhouse Sink With Flexible Design

Elkay has unveiled the awesome Crosstown Stainless Steel Farmhouse Sink with Interchangeable Apron (shown). Homeowners may choose from a mix of seven different materials and colors, enabling them to change the apron in minutes for a new look to match the season or their own personal style. The company has also introduced its Quartz Luxe Single and Double Bowl Sink, available in metallic-flecked Silvermist or deep Jubilee colors to enliven any kitchen. http://www.elkay.com/farmhouse

In Conclusion:

I hope these ten awesome remodeling products inspire  and help you as you make product choices for your  home.  If you see any products that you’d like to share, please let me know with a comment (below). You can also send me an email: diane@dp-design.com.

“Today’s Home” Podcast: Ten Awesome Remodeling Products for 2019

Product research is one of the many things I love, to help you make informed decisions. Contact me today! Let’s talk about what you want to achieve!

Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

Music is the best solutionMusic is a profound and powerful influence in our lives. From birth until death, music is there at every stage to comfort, inspire, motivate us in the most personal expression of who we are.  Music has been the most important part of my life. I started taking piano lessons when I was 8. My first teacher was my godmother, Mama Chinn. She taught me the basics of technique and timing. Her greatest gift, though, was a love of music that has endured. That’s what music is all about. It touches us in ways that nothing else can. It’s a universal language that everyone understands. It’s the loom upon which our individual fibers are woven into the miraculous, colorful tapestry that blankets our precious earth.

Podcast Discussion With Jay Plesset

I asked my husband, Jay, to join me on this week’s podcast, because he’s the most knowledgeable person I know about this subject. Not just music, but how we listen to music. Music is what brought us together! I met Jay after I moved to San Francisco and had problems with my stereo picking up truck drivers’ CB discussions. He was the only one who was able and willing to help me. The rest, as broadcaster Paul Harvey said, is a wonderful story.

Paul McCartney Music

Music is the voiceLast week, Jay and I were fortunate to tune into a rebroadcast CBS program produced by James Corden that featured Paul McCartney. If you’re a Beatles fan, I know you’ll love it. Everywhere they went – okay, they were in Liverpool! – crowds of people gathered around. Paul was so gracious with everyone. Don’t know how word got out when they visited Paul’s childhood home, but the streets were lined with cheering fans of all ages. Yes! And in the local pub where Paul and his band played shortened versions of many Beatles’ hits, the audience included old and young, and every generation in between. Wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the room had four generations of Beatles’ followers. This is a tiny example of music’s influence.

It’s obvious that Paul McCartney loves music. When he talks about it, when he plays it, his inner light shines. Did you know that he’s composed classical music? His first was the “Liverpool Oratorio,” in 1991, followed by “Standing Stone,” recorded in 2001, and “Behold My Heart” that was recorded in 2007. He has a new composition, commissioned by the New York City Ballet, “Oceans Kingdom.” All of his music has been at the top of different charts.

We are lucky to be surrounded by thousands of composers of all genres. We fall in love with music for the way it touches our soul, whether it’s country, rock, blues, jazz, spiritual, cultural, or classical, or a mashup of them. Many composers and performers cross over from one genre to another, like Paul McCartney has over the past 59 years. As the oldest daughter in an alcoholic family, I could tell Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Debussy and Rachmaninoff about everything that burdened me. After hours of conversation with them at my old upright piano, I stepped away feeling and knowing that everything would be all right. Have you had similar experiences in your life, where music has helped you get through tough times?

Mannheim Steamroller Music

Jay and I met because of a shared love of music. When we started dating, he introduced me to Mannheim Steamroller. I’ll never forget our drive through the Sequoias National Park in his convertible, listening to “Fresh Aire,” on a hot day in July. The air was heavy with the aroma of the evergreen trees. We have been avid fans of Mannheim Steamroller to this day. When I decided to launch “Today’s Home,” my internet radio program, they allowed me to use “Wolfgang Amadeus Penguin” as the theme song. Every time I hear it, I’m filled with child-like glee, wanting to get up and march around the room.

Music’s Inspirational Influence

Music can change the worldMusic inspires us, motivates us, connects us in ways that nothing else can. I love this quote from Leopold Stokowski, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” Music is a very personal form of creative self-expression, whether we’re listening to it or playing an instrument. Whether we’re in a large auditorium with 30,000 other people, or riding alone in our car on the way to work. Whether we’re “rockin’ out” to the oldies while we clean our home, or centering ourselves with soft meditation music in the middle of the night.

Several years ago, after I learned about Louise Hay’s positive affirmations, I decided to record them to overcome the anxiety that’s plagued me most of my life. The recordings were okay, but became a listening staple after I added soft background music. Last year, when we had a special dinner, we played the same music. I have made a list of this music for you as a personal gift. All of our guests commented about how the music created an unforgettable ambiance. I’m fortunate that Jay knew how to create this ambiance in our home. One of his first jobs after college was making Infinity speakers, before he went to work at Sound Systems in San Francisco. We have speakers in every room (and outside) that can play from anywhere through a small computer, an “Orange Pi.”

Jay is a member of a worldwide group called D-I-Y Audio. He learned about the “Raspberry Pi” from another member who used this small computer – the size of a deck of cards – to access his massive collection of music. We also have a massive collection of cd’s and vinyl records. It’s fantastic to have everything so easily accessible! Jay tells all about it in our podcast discussion; to listen to the podcast, just click on the link below!

When I’m in the mood for loud music like Blue Man Group, Japanese Taiko drum recordings, or the sound track from “Blast,” all I have to do is turn up the volume and sit in the living room. Jay figured out how to turn four non-structural columns into sub-woofer enclosures, with 10-inch Dayton Audio speakers. Right now, we’re using KEF 101’s as the satellites until Jay finishes building new speakers. Can’t wait to hear it! Jay has provided links to sites where he’s purchased audio parts:

Parts Express

Meniscus Audio

Madisound Portal

The true beauty of musicTechnology has made it possible for more of us to enjoy music anywhere without investing a fortune – unless we want to. Not going to bore you with statistics. You know how you love to listen to music, and you know what to listen to, to help you get through the daily challenges that life presents. The absolutely glorious thing about music in our world today is its universality, its ability to touch the spirits of everyone around the world instantaneously, simultaneously. Music doesn’t care what our cultural heritage is, or what political party we belong to. While we’re listening, we’re connected to everyone else who is, has been, or will be listening to the same music.

Music is the greatest gift we have!

Listen Now!

“Today’s Home” Podcast: Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

 

I care about helping you achieve your home improvement dream! Contact me today to talk about your goals.