Staging a Victorian–Waking Sleeping Beauty

Today I wanted to show you a really cool house I recently got to stage in Tenafly, New Jersey.  My friend asked me for some help staging his childhood home and we got to work.  Here are some before and after’s and a couple of tips for preparing your house for sale.

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Isn’t she purty!!!???  Have I mentioned that I love old houses? 🙂  A clean landscaping job and welcome porch and entrance is important for a good first impression.

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Welcome to the foyer…look at the amazing original woodwork!  We freshened that up and put down gorgeous hardwood floors.  My friend found that amazing custom door for a steal and we kept our paint choices neutral and light.

Check out this huge living room.

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Losing a lot of the furniture and showing off the floors and original plaster ceiling helps to show just how big this room is!  I loved hearing stories about the parties that took place in this room through the years!  Another tip is in addition to making sure your house is sparkling clean, make sure the windows are spotless as well.

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The original dining room had, over time, switched to a sitting room and we brought it back to it’s glory with it’s restored fireplace.  Mirrors add light to any room.

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This was one of my favorite rooms to transform.  This was what my clients called a walk-through room that was later made into the dining room.  Check out the 80’s wall of mirrors on the left.  We used existing furniture and our amazing carpenter made a built-in half wall to hold a television and, voila, we have a family room.  Another tip, do you have dated window treatments?  Tear those babies down and let the sunlight in.

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Let’s head upstairs and look at that amazing woodwork with gleaming fresh paint.  Here’s a look at some of the bedrooms.

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This room had nice floors, but the interesting and soothing sky light-boxes on the right side of the room had to go.  We put some lights up top instead and set this up with two twin beds as a sunny girls’ room.

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The rest of the bedrooms got a facelift by losing the dated wallpaper and putting down quality carpet.

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The master definitely looks more spacious with fresh paint, carpet, open windows and simple bedding.

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And we didn’t forget to have fun up in the attic. 🙂

To see more of this gorgeous house check it out HERE and let me know when you move in…I’ll help you make it your own.

Thanks for stopping by!  – kate


All photo’s by Willow Interiors and Sotheby’s Tenafly.

For more info on this house, please call:
Susan Zabinksi
Phone: ­1 201.417.6371­
Phone: ­1 201.568.5668­



It’s Friday and I’ve Got Men on the Brain

Checking in with a quick happy Friday and a recap of what’s on my mind this week…men.  LOL!  Let me explain.

I just watched Derek Jeter clinch the final win of his career at home.  The Yankees have a very special place in my heart and so does Jeter.  I went to Fordham University in ‘da Bronx’ and I remember those years and my years as recent graduate going to many games.  Back in the day, my man was Paulie (Paul O’Neill) and Derek’s rookie year was 1995, the year I graduated.  I remember always thinking he was ‘fine’, but as the years went on and I was working in Public Relations I marveled at whoever his interview coach was…he always said the right ‘we are a team’ message.  Now, like any other celebrity, we don’t really know what they are really like, but I think it does say something that over 20 years (crap, have I been out of college that long??) he has been consistently a great role model and hard worker on and off the field.  It’s pretty hard to find someone who will say a bad thing about him.  As we were watching the pre-game, the announcers (Michael Kay…Go Rams!) said something about him never embarrassing the organization and my husband said, “Why is that such a big deal?  You not supposed embarrass your employer?”  I think it’s so true and sad that there are not more role models like Derek Jeter in the sports world.  Not to say that every other sports figure isn’t a good role model for our children…but hell, we could definitely use more.  To say I was a sobbing mess at the end of the game was an understatement, but when he hugged his parents…I went into the ugly cry.  Props go to them…well done!

Derek Jeter/willow interiorssource

The other man on my mind is also from my college days.  I’m not sure what I did in a previous life to deserve this person and I think I’m a pretty good judge of character, but we were just babies…  How could I have known that this guy:


would become this man?




I have no idea why I lucked out, but I will be forever grateful for my best friend.  It hasn’t been perfect, but boy do we laugh A LOT (and isn’t that what it’s all about?)

So Happy 16th Wedding Anniversary a day early Kevin.  I adore you!

– kate




Table or Island? #537 on the First World Problems List

Scrolling through Facebook today I was reminded of a design favorite of mine:

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If you were renovating, would you ever consider a large table instead of an island?  I love this look!  It has a very European feel.  Here are some of my favorites.

Beautiful Kitchens: Contrasting Cabinetssource

Wendi Young-lookalike kitchenWendi Young Design

Loi Thai, Tone on Tone

Bill Litchfield Designs

fabulous mixsource


Tim BarberTim Barber Ltd.

Open cabinetssource


white cabinets and black subway tile  benches and trellis table  black trim windows and doorssource

cool lightsource

white kitchen, marble counters, dark wood, lantern and tons of windows!source

table as islandsource

These were all in my Kitchen folder on Pinterest, so I guess I like this look.  Thanks for the reminder Traditional Home!  What do you think?

– kate

A Powder Room for the Birds

I made some changes to our half bathroom on the main level yesterday and then last night I had a dream and glanced into my future and saw this:

Bird Lady of Central Park

But I guess that’s better then ending up a cat lady:

You pet your lifeAnimal Hoarders

I’ve been hoarding birds, but thankfully only paper versions.  Now that I’ve collected enough of them I decided to add them to our main level powder room.

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This is a tight room to shoot, but it is a powder room off of our mudroom with a pocket door.

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Above the mirror, is my butterfly taxidermy (that freaks the kids out).  I found it while on a trip with my husband to Denver and the two birds over the mirror are from one of my local stores, Town Home and Garden, that I mentioned HERE.

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Over the toilet I was excited to hang my framed vintage birds.  I saw these in a consignment shop and left empty-handed.  I laid in bed that night picturing people going into the store and picking them off slowly by pairs or, horrifically, by ones!!  What a sad and lonely life for this family of birds!  So I had to go back and get them all! 🙂

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The two long frames on either side of the sink are also consignment finds.

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And I made the relaxed roman shade a couple of years ago with this fabric.

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The details in these prints are so pretty and the brass hanging rings shined up beautifully!

So, there’s my bird room.  Please be nice to me when I retire and spend my days on the park bench feeding and talking to my friends.

On a side note, we were recently telling the kids about this movie…imagine if we watched it!!  They would never use this bathroom again…hey, but then it wouldn’t get as dirty…hmmm. 🙂

The Birds (1963) Poster
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds

Later, – kate

Estate Sale at Something’s Gotta Give House in the Hamptons!!!!

I love that I’m not the only design nut out there.  Shortly after posting yesterday about my obsession with a rug from Something’s Gotta Give (okay, I’m obsessed with the whole damn house), my friend Linda posted on Facebook that there’s an estate sale at that house TODAY!!!!!!!  I am dying!!!  I immediately MapQuested it (that’s a word, right?) and it told me that the house is 2 hours away in the Hamptons on Long Island.  Now if you are from the tri-state area you know that two hours to get from New Jersey, through the city and over to Long Island on MapQuest translates to a possible 3-5 hours….maybe even a week and that’s just to get there!!!!  So I’m going to sit here in New Jersey and stew over this while I check out some pictures of the sale.

Something's Gotta Give house/willow interiors

Before we look at the sale pictures, I should mention to you that just the front exterior of this house was used in the movie.  Imagine pulling up to that every day!  The interior and pool scenes were all created in studio, which is fascinating too.  Here are some of my favorites:

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Now do you see what I mean!!!?

I thought this was pretty neat…it’s amazing the beauty and ‘fakeness’ they can create in a studio:

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(All of these photos are from Hooked on Houses…highly addictive if you are obsessed with movie houses and celebrity homes…Love it!!)

So back to real life….hahaha, I crack myself up!  The real 8,000 sq.-foot house is right on the beach in Southhampton and, I’m sorry to say, is not for sale…shucks!  It never even made it to the market!  Hotel tycoon, Jimmy Tisch, CEO of Loews Corporation, just bought this 11-bedroom summer cottage for $41-million!!!  According to The Daily News, it’s previous owner, Alan Meckler, CEO of, made a killing on the sale, having bought the two acre lot for just $5.5 million in 1999!

Okay back to the sale.  I was trying to see the house and they didn’t help me out too much.  But you can tell that there are amazing built ins and mill-work through out…  I also love their American art collection and pottery:

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Somethings-Gotta-Give-Art Sale/willow interiors

So a giant thank you to Linda for being a design fanatic like myself.  Now I just need someone to pop in at the estate sale and get me some better pictures on the interiors.

I know what movie I’m watching this weekend.  Happy Friday! – kate

Combining Two Smaller Rugs–A Match Made in Heaven

combining two rugs/willow interiors

As my kids would say…”Epic Fail” in posting this week!

So let me show you a quick project I did a couple of months ago.  I’ve been holding off because there is so much more I want to do to our family room, but life isn’t perfect and neither is my family room.

We had this old rug from our condo days, it’s perfectly fine and it fit in the family room.  So that’s where it went…but it’s always bugged me.  I envision making our family room “funner” (sure that’s a word) than the rest of the more traditional 95-year old house we live in and this guy wasn’t cutting it…

willow interiorsSidenote: I know my fiddle leaf tree is dead.  My children tell me I have a black thumb (and that’s pretty accurate). 🙂  Meet Ralph… (his container now reads R.I.P. Ralph). 😦
RIP Ralph/willow interiors

So I had been on the hunt for a large “fun” rug.  I love Madeline Weinrib’s cotton, colorul rugs, but did not want to spend the money on something my kids literally eat ice cream on every Friday for Family Movie Night.  And then there’s the Something’s Gotta Give rug that I spied:

Something's Gotta Give in Architectural Dig/willow interiors

Y’all watch movies and freak out over the interiors, right?  That’s not weird or anything?  If not, rent this movie today or click here to see this entire beauty!  I could move in tomorrow and die happy. 🙂

So then started my obsession with dhurries (The Wikipedia gods will tell you that a dhurrie is a thick flat-woven rug or carpet used traditionally in India as floor-coverings.)

The brilliant people at Aspen Carpet Designs now sell their Beach House Striped Rug they say is inspired by the rug in that movie!!

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I was all set to order one and then walking through Home Goods. I saw these navy chevron rugs and fell in love!  But they weren’t large enough and then it hit me could I connect two…they were $50 each!!!  Worst case scenario, it was a $100 mistake…Sold!  I made sure the lines matched up right there in the store and headed home to figure it out.  I knew I wanted to tie blue and orange together because of the kids’ artwork that I had framed for the room.  I had also found a great large rustic orange tray for my ottoman so I was thinking orange.  Off to Michael’s for some orange yarn…

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Here are the quick easy steps:

combining two rugs/willow interiors

Needed: yarn, large sewing needle, duct tape, ruler, sharpie and scissor

  • Flip the rugs over (making sure they are exactly how you want it to look) and duct tape them together.
  • Using a ruler, draw two straight lines an inch apart (so a half inch off the center).
  • Make hash-tags every inch down both lines.
  • Thread the yarn onto the large needle (I doubled threaded the yarn so it would be thicker).
  • Start one end, making a knot of the bottom side of the rug and then head up using whatever design you choose (i made x’s on the top side).  Knot securely at the end.
  • Voila!

So in the end my two 5×7 cotton dhurries got me a $100 10×7 rug that I can replace once it gets too much ice cream on it.

I forgot one tip…it can take awhile to sew so I recommend pairing the job with a nice Cabernet while enjoying above mentioned Friday Family Movie Night.

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Thanks for stopping by! – kate