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Find Your Comfort Zone

In my last article about my home renovation, I discussed how important it is to take a risk and step out of your comfort zone. In this installment, I want to remind everyone how trying a home renovation project can be and how important it is to find a few things to help keep you comfortable in the construction zone!

When I think of any photoshoot, project, or collaboration I’ve ever completed, this was clearly the hardest and most stressful project I had ever done. There were days I really just wanted to give up, tell all the workers to go home and just get a semi-life back and by living in a half-completed house.

And then there were other days when I was happier than a girl at a Bergdorf’s shoe sale! I was so excited to take on my painting projects, my 900 phone calls of the day, my micro-management duties, a multitude of math problems, and of course negotiations with everyone under the sun.

Do you know what truly kept me sane when I was in the house with all the projects and all the workers were getting in my zone? I had three Pandora Radio stations that made me so supremely happy: Ella Fitzgerald Radio, Motown Radio, and Rihanna Radio. Singing along to Gershwin classics, boppin’ along to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On (my favorite song of all time), and dancing to a little Rihanna just made everything so much better.

Another thing that also made me ridiculously happy and slowly became my obsession was a large iced peach green tea from Starbucks. With no AC in the house and 90 degree days, it was the treat that kept me cool, literally and figuratively.

One of the first things I did when we moved into our home and the renovation hadn’t yet begun was plant myself a little rose garden. I made a nice home for David Austin English roses at the entrance of the front door and right by the side door. Every time I walked in and out of the house, their mesmerizing smell made me feel like I walked into a surreal rose garden.

The ironic part was the juxtaposition of the elegant pink rose bushes smelling in all of their glory and the monstrous dumpster a mere three feet away (not even exaggerating) smelly in all of its pungent glory. As simple as it sounds, these roses were my sanity saver on so many days!

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There was that one day when I asked one of the electricians to bring up from the basement the enormous box in which my dining room crystal chandelier had been stored. It was quite the scene watching him struggle with this box but refusing any help. I held my breath until the very last step, which apparently was not long enough. The next thing I knew, that box landed on the floor with a thud followed by a shattering sound, followed by a, “are you f’in kidding me?!!” One of the crystal arms of the chandelier broke in half, and it took every last ounce of energy I had left to control the flood of tears that had accumulated behind my eyes. I went outside, took a few deep breaths, picked up my sharp gardening shears, and no, I did not stab the electrician (although tempting). Instead, I went to my roses and started pruning them. Sounds crazy, I know. But for me, something about being outside, smelling their hypnotizing fragrance and keeping busy by cutting myself a beautiful bouquet just zenned me out.

Bringing my roses and hydrangeas inside for some happiness 

Bringing my roses and hydrangeas inside for some happiness 

For some people, it’s good music or taking a jog or good food or something as crazy as pruning roses. My simple suggestion is to find something, anything that will put you in a happy bubble for even five minutes so you can collect your thoughts, find the funny in whatever situation you’re in and keep chugging along in your little adventure. It has to end eventually, right?

Yes, this is exactly how one of my sinks was shipped to me. Just a sink and a box. 

But, not before a few more crashes. Yes, this is exactly how one of my sinks was shipped to me. Just a sink and a box, in pieces.

You’ll get to that finish line and who knows, it might be the next day, or like for me, a year later. Eventually, you’ll stand there and look around at your creation and think, holy shit, I cannot believe I just went through all of that. I cannot believe I cried over a broken sink. I cannot believe I spent a king’s ransom on frickin’ plumbing that no one can even see. I cannot believe I sat on 10 different toilets in the middle of Lowe’s Goldilocks-style to find the perfect throne for my king. I cannot believe they didn’t put me on the payroll at the tile store and Home Depot after the number of hours I clocked there. The biggest disbelief? I cannot believe that it’s finally done and that I did it all by myself!

Here are my ever-precious before and after photos that I never thought I would look at with a huge smile while listening to Ella Fitzgerald Radio seated in my perfect kitchen…

BEFORE~

Original kitchen from 1951. Even the inside of the cupboards were lined with 50's style wallpaper 
Original kitchen from 1951. Even the inside of the cupboards was lined with 50’s style wallpaper!
Looking into old family room from the kitchen 
Looking Into The Old Family Room From The Kitchen

LET THE DEMO BEGIN!

This is looking at what was the kitchen sink and countertop

This is looking at what was the kitchen sink and countertop!
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French doors arrived from California and I couldn't have been happier! 

French doors arrived from California and I couldn’t have been happier!

BEFORE

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AFTER

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BEFORE

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Demo of the wall between the old family room and what will become the new family room.

AFTER

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BEFORE

Progress... Photo taken from the old family room facing into the kitchen 

Progress! Photo was taken from the old family room facing into the kitchen

AFTER

2 months later...
Two Months Later
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Standing in the new family room looking into the kitchen

BEFORE

Wall was taken down and opened into what is now the new family room (from where pic was taken) and facing the kitchen

Wall was taken down and opened into what is now the new family room (from where the pic was taken) and facing the kitchen.
2 months later... French doors put in and new hardwood floors
2 months later… French doors put in and new hardwood floors
Cabinets are finally in, just waiting on the countertops 
Cabinets are finally in, just waiting on the countertops 
One of the best days of that summer was when my countertops were finally installed
One of the best days of that summer was when my countertops were finally installed

AFTER

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My boys sitting at the counter as soon as they were installed.... What I've been waiting for!
My boys sitting at the counter as soon as they were installed…. What I’ve been waiting for!
Done!

Done!

BATHROOM RENOVATION

BEFORE

Original 1950's bathroom, including rust stain on the sink. I had to add my own personal touch with the Target shower curtain to even bear using this bathroom while waiting for our permits to demo... for 3 weeks. 
Original 1950’s bathroom, including rust stain on the sink. I had to add my own personal touch with the Target shower curtain to even bear using this bathroom while waiting for our permits to demo… for 3 weeks. 
Classic 1950's tile 
Classic 1950’s tile 
Goodbye rust stains, gray tile and broken window

Goodbye rust stains, gray tile, and broken window
From that one tiny bathroom, we took out a closet and a linen closet to make a kid's bathroom and a master bath.

From that one tiny bathroom, we took out a closet and a linen closet to make a kid’s bathroom and a master bath.
Master bath: Wallpaper done, sinks in! 
Master bath: Wallpaper done, sinks in! 
Looking into the master bath shower 
Looking into the master bath shower 
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Cabinets are in, marble being placed 
Cabinets are in, marble being placed.
Hardware on, marble "mat" in 
Hardware on and marble “mat” in!
My beloved faucet
My beloved faucet!
Crystal knobs against marble with a chrome finish 

Crystal knobs against marble with a chrome finish 

DINING ROOM

BEFORE~

Dining room:  I think this was Aladdin's original magic carpet and I'm thinking this must have been the color of the year in 1951 because why else? 
Dining room:  I think this was Aladdin’s original magic carpet and I’m thinking this must have been the color of the year in 1951 because why else? 
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Time to brighten it up! I painted all the windows white. New chair rails and moulding
Time to brighten it up! I painted all the windows white. New chair rails and molding.
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This was one of my biggest and hottest (literally) projects- the painted floor. Three coats of primer that definitely made me high from little ventilation and the 90 degree days.
High school geometry finally came in handy. Measuring out the right size and direction of squares that I wanted.
High school geometry finally came in handy. Measuring out the right size and direction of squares that I wanted.
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I don't  know which project was harder for me, painting these floors or installing this wallpaper... but all well worth it!
I don’t know which project was harder for me, painting these floors or installing this wallpaper… but all well worth it!

AFTER

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This antiqued mirror glass feature was something I've always wanted in my home, and finally for this home, it was the last piece to be installed in our renovation 
This antiqued mirror glass feature was something I’ve always wanted in my home, and finally, for this home, it was the last piece to be installed in our renovation!
Almost complete... Still trying to find the perfect dining room chairs and credenza

Almost complete… Still trying to find the perfect dining room chairs and credenza.
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My collection of blue Chinoiserie pots

The details I love…
My collection of blue Chinoiserie pots
I loved the texture of the metal starburst, chartreuse brocade with metallic print curtains and the wallpaper with metallic finishes in the zebra's stripes

I loved the texture of the metal starburst, chartreuse brocade with metallic print curtains and the wallpaper with metallic finishes in the zebra’s stripes.
My crystal garden with some lavender... who doesn't love the scent of fresh lavender?

My crystal garden with some lavender… who doesn’t love the scent of fresh lavender?

POWDER ROOM

BEFORE

This was the last room to be redone... this was the beautiful bathroom during the entire renovation
This was the last room to be redone… this was the beautiful bathroom during the entire renovation.
New door and marble tile installed 
New door and marble tile installed
I had the best time putting up the wallpaper in the smallest room ever but, I had my eye on this wallpaper for years before we moved to this home, and I just couldn't wait to finally call it mine! 

I had the best time putting up the wallpaper in the smallest room ever but, I had my eye on this wallpaper for years before we moved to this home, and I just couldn’t wait to finally call it mine!

BEFORE

Gorgeous, right?

Gorgeous, right? Hahahaha!

AFTER

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The details that I love…

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The amount of hours I spent searching for the perfect sink and faucet...

The number of hours I spent searching for the perfect sink and faucet…

My swan faucet that's always a mystery to guests as to how to turn it on... 

My swan faucet that’s always a mystery to guests as to how to turn it on…
Vintage mirror and gold light fixtures. This is the one place I used gold because this room was meant to look over the top and ornate

Vintage mirror and gold light fixtures. This is the one place I used gold because this room was meant to look over the top and ornate.
The rose gold spotlight over the throne 

The rose gold spotlight over the throne!

One of my favorite hobbies in life is gardening, so transforming the outside of this house was just as important as what was going on inside the house…

BEFORE

This picture was taken the day we moved in when the boys saw the house for the first time...

This picture was taken the day we moved in when the boys saw the house for the first time.
New door and hardware, my favorite lion door knocker, new lights, window boxes, rose bushes, just waiting for the hydrangeas to make their debut for the summer

New door and hardware, my favorite lion door knocker, new lights, window boxes, rose bushes, just waiting for the hydrangeas to make their debut for the summer.
It took a while to pick the perfect blue for the door... I wanted it to match the hydrangeas in front... that perfect hydrangea blue

It took a while to pick the perfect blue for the door… I wanted it to match the hydrangeas in front… that perfect hydrangea blue!

BEFORE

The opening to the backyard, where my new French doors will soon go...
The opening to the backyard, where my new French doors will soon go.

AFTER

A year after taking this photo, we finally built the patio that I’ve always dreamed of. Read about the entire makeover, with plenty of before and afters here… 

Now I can finally focus on gardening in my little oasis...

Now I can finally focus on gardening in my little oasis.

BEFORE

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AFTER

Perfect spot for my rose and herb garden... chillin' out here with my hubby, front row seats to the kids' slip-and-slide extravaganza

Perfect spot for my rose and herb garden… chillin’ out here with my hubby, front row seats to the kids’ slip-and-slide extravaganza!

There's nothing like coming out here and picking fresh herbs while I'm cooking

There’s nothing like coming out here and picking fresh herbs while I’m cooking.

What's better than English roses, lavender, basil and rosemary? 
What’s better than English roses, lavender, basil and rosemary? 
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My husband’s birthday falls on the year mark of our little project gone big, and there’s nothing more that he and I could have wished for than being with our little prince in our castle that we call home.

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Take another fun look inside Alisa’s home in this Houzz article.

For more design inspiration, find Alisa’s home and others inside the pages of, “Your Home, Your Style” By Donna Garlough.


Alisa Kapinos has been a fashion stylist and personal shopper for almost 15 years. She started her career in fashion working for a Boston based magazine as their Fashion and Beauty Editor and then went onto become their Editor in Chief. During this time she produced and styled countless photo shoots, working with top designers and top photographers. She has been lucky enough to attend many New York Fashion Weeks, also styling shoots for commercials and print ads, as well as assisting in styling Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel and the Jonas Brothers on their Boston stop during their musical tour. She then began her career as a personal stylist to some of Boston’s most notable people, as well as women and men from all walks of life. What her clients love about her is her attention to detail, her understanding of personal style (not just what’s trending), and her ability to mix high end with affordable pieces that fit everyone’s budget. Through her work in the fashion industry, she has also partnered with many charitable organizations to bring awareness and raising money for their causes. Recently, Alisa has taken her passion for interior design and has worked on a few interior projects for local clients. She has had her own home, which she renovated herself, featured in a home design book and a few home websites. Alisa’s greatest loves are her husband of 11 years, her two dogs and her three kids. She loves photography and taking photos, loves to travel, to write, to garden, to decorate, to cook and spend time with her family and friends.

If you love style and want to keep up with Alisa, check her out on Instagram @styleproductions. For more info on her personal styling and home styling business, check out her website, www.alisakapinos.com

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