Destination Design: Part 1

A couple months ago, I received an email from someone that made me decide to jump on a plane to come help her. This is Part 1 of our story…

At 28 years old, Janice has endured more than anyone should have to in life. A few years ago, she was diagnosed with blood cancer and after surviving one round of chemo, the cancer returned and she had to move to Houston with her husband for months of intensive chemo and a stem cell transplant.

After her scans came back clear the second time around, she was able to move back home to Florida to begin her long road of recovery.

They decided to put down roots and buy their first home in Navarre, FL. Janice had always dreamed about having a beautiful home for her family, and after the setbacks of high medical expenses, she worked overtime and saved up every penny to hire an interior designer to bring her vision to life.

Janice’s husband is in the Air Force, and shortly after buying their home, they found out he was being deployed to Africa. They both agreed she could move forward with hiring the interior design firm and spend the next few months transforming the house—it would bring some much needed joy into her life, and something positive to focus on while he was away.

Sadly, the experience was anything but positive. The firm didn’t deliver on their design plan, they tried to charge her more than they had agreed upon, and after months of working with them and thousands of dollars gone, she was left with a half finished house.

Janice was devastated—she had just spent her life savings with nothing to show for it. She felt like she had let her husband down, and was embarrassed about what he would be coming home to.

In a last ditch effort, she reached out to me, explaining her situation and asking for help. I mean, how could I say no?

Her husband returns from deployment in mid August, and the goal is to have the home completed by then. That’s an entire 2000+ sq ft house to redesign in a matter of weeks.

For the past month we’ve been prepping as much as we can before my first visit. I reached out to a few sponsors who agreed to participate (thank you Schlage, eSalerugsGlobe ElectricGraham & Brown) and we’ve already begun ordering pieces to fill the home.

You’ll have to watch the video linked above to see what happened during the trip. I will say it was more of a challenge than I had anticipated, mostly because I really want to make these rooms special and complete. The problem is, good design takes a long time. It’s about collecting pieces that you fall in love with over the years, and waiting for that perfect vintage furniture or artwork that makes your home personalized and unique from the others. It’s not about thoughtlessly plucking everything from the pages of a catalog. I tend to obsess over every small detail when I’m designing a space, and the reality is there just isn’t time to spend one month searching for the perfect brass towel hook as I’d normally do.

I’m still trying to manage both of our expectations here given the timeline and budget restraints, but the next five weeks or so are going to be long hours and high stress—especially since I can’t be there to watch the progress and make sure everything’s moving along.

Here’s a quick house tour and summary of our plans:

Fortunately, not a lot needs to be done in the foyer. Janice has a wood/metal entry bench that we’ll use on the right wall, we need to fill those empty frames and find a nice runner. You can see we’ve tested a black swatch on the door—Janice wasn’t sure at first, but thankfully she has come around to painting her doors black!

The living room needs some attention. Janice ordered that couch from Restoration Hardware and she’s not a fan, so we’re looking for a new sectional to fill its shoes. We also need a large rug, and she wants to move the TV to the wall with the black botanical art.

Don’t mind the extra furniture pieces in there, those will be gone. We were able to score this gorgeous vintage marble & wood coffee table at a local antique store:

Janice will paint the wood portion a light warm gray to update the piece.

The ceiling fan will be replaced with a chandelier that’s currently in the dining room, and we need to replace the curtain rods with a wider set to hang the curtains further apart (they’re too close together!) We also picked up these inexpensive bamboo shades for all of the windows in the house to bring in texture and make them appear larger.

Something we’re most excited about is this antique fireplace we found on Craigslist for $100!

We plan to mount it on the wall where the TV currently sits, with some sort of tile surround on the inside, load it up with pillar candles, and add this stunning Anthro mirror above it:

The kitchen doesn’t really need anything, but Janice wants to personalize it so we’ll be replacing the nickel knobs with brass pulls, continue to look for a vintage wood & glass door for the pantry (no luck while I was there), and update the pendant lights with two of these beauties:


We’re going all out in the laundry room…

We decided on this show-stopping floral pattern from Graham & Brown:

We’ll cover all of the walls, and Janice’s contractor is going to install custom cabinets around the washer & dryer wall (still working on the cabinet color).

The dining room looks pretty good to me, but Janice isn’t feeling it.

I suggested swapping the chairs for something dark and upholstered to bring some contrast to all the light colors & wood, but she loves the chairs. We may bring in color through a rug instead, and we’ll add a large clock to the wall on the right. We’re also going to move that chandelier to the living room and bring in something sparkly.

I’m personally most excited about the guest bathroom.

Perhaps our best shopping score was this vintage dresser that will become the vanity (you already saw if you watch my Instagram stories):

Can you believe Janice talked them down to just $200 for this piece?!

The plan in here is to do a board & batten treatment on the lower 2/3 of the wall, with wallpaper on top. We’re still debating on which wallpaper and paint color combo…

Btw, the results of the Instagram poll was 31/69 in favor of the gray & green on the right. We’re both split evenly and still trying to make a decision! Honestly, we can’t go wrong either way.

The vanity will have a custom marble top made along with a wall mounted brass faucet set into a curved tall backsplash, like this

Can you see why I’m the most excited about this room? I really hope it comes together in time.

The master bedroom will receive a similar wall treatment behind the bed:

It’ll be painted a deep charcoal gray, and we’ve replaced one of the side tables with an antique wood desk at Janice’s request. We’ll also be adding a large rug, replacing the floor mirror, and beautifying the bedding.

The master bathroom will get an update as well, with the dark vanity repainted a soft white, brass hardware, new brass faucets, new mirrors and sconces:

In the first guest bedroom we’ve decided to try an experiment with lattice against the back wall.

I’m calling it an experiment because I haven’t been able to find any examples of this done how we’re envisioning it, but I think it will be such a unique touch!

We’ve also moved one of her existing wood dressers in to use as a night stand, and we’ll be bringing in a rug, adding a chandelier, along with new bedding and accessories.

For the second guest room, we found this gorgeous antique bed…

Such a steal. This room will also get an overhaul with a new rug, bedding, chandelier, accessories, and Janice will be painting a couple nightstands she has in storage to save on costs.

Lastly, we have the dogs room.

She wants their space to be playful and fun, so I suggested painting the walls with this gingham effect:

I’m also making two large personalized canvases of her dogs to go on the back wall, finding a rug to ground the space, and she’s looking for a tall glass storage cabinet to hold their toys/treats/etc.

If there’s time and room left in the budget, she wants to spruce up the front and/or back porch as well…

…though I’m trying to set realistic expectations as I’m already nervous about how much of the inside we’ll be able to wrap up in time. Rome wasn’t built in a day (or 5 weeks!)

I’m doing as much as I can from afar—scouring the internet for the perfect pieces, keeping track of our timeline and schedule in a spreadsheet and trying to stay on top of all these moving pieces. It’s almost like the Cottage House Flip all over again. But Janice needs me and I’m not about to let her down, so I’m giving her my very best until the end. I’ll be coming back for one last visit next month to put the finishes touches on the home before her husband arrives. We need all the good luck and positive vibes we can get!

In other news, we’re scheduled to FINALLY close on our 5-unit Bungalow tomorrow (I still won’t believe it until it happens), and we’re moving into the Riverside Retreat next week! I have several design & DIY projects coming up that I’ll be sharing over the next month. Finally after months of a dry spell, everything is happening all at once. When it rains, it really pours… just like these crazy Florida summer afternoon storms.

Back soon with more,

38 thoughts on “Destination Design: Part 1

  1. So exciting for Janice! It’s going to be beautiful and such a sweet welcome home surprise to her husband!

  2. What a wonderful thing you are doing to help Janice. She got the best when she got you. I can’t wait to see it finished.

  3. I love this, Jenna Sue! Yoy always inspire me. I am so happy you are doing this with Janice, and I am delighted she has received a clean bill of health. I can’t wait to watch this project unfold even more.

  4. What a wonderful project! What color will you be painting the doors? I couldn’t quite make out the name on the YT video you posted in conjunction with this entry. Dark doors look stunning and elegant! Will you also paint the door trim/casing? What do you think about dark doors against olive/dark sage walls? Thanks! Can’t wait to see the final reveal. xoxo from California

    1. Thanks Marie! The doors will be black (SW Tricorn Black) and the frames/trim will stay white. I think dark doors with dark walls can work, depending on the mood/style of the space and how much light it gets!

  5. What a lovely project to undertake. Good for you! If you have in mind any custom pillows, I would be happy to sew them for you as a gift. I’ve done a lot of home dec sewing for myself, family and friends and am a volunteer seamstress at a home related nonprofit in Raleigh. Please me if you’d like to discuss. I’d like to be a part time of making Janice’s home beautiful.

  6. Hi Jenna,
    If you need any extra help let me know.
    I just moved to Pensacola, and am a True Colour Expert and Expert Psychological Stager.
    Navarre is only about 30 minutes from me.
    Can’t wait to see how this all turns out!
    If nothing else I can bake something special, to bring over <3

  7. There is a special place in heaven for you girlfriend. I’m so relieved to hear that Janice got a clean bill of health. I live in Florida too, but I’m so far away, I wish I could help Janice out, painting, etc.
    I can’t wait to see the results, it’s going to be wonderful.

  8. Proud of you Jenna! What a cool thing you are doing. ?
    This will take some of the pressure off before her husband gets home. Happy that Janice is doing well! Can’t wait to see the end of the project!

  9. Hi Jenna! I love the idea of using an old dresser for the bathroom vanity. Is there anything in particular that you look for that makes a dresser good candidate for the conversion? Or is it just the aesthetics?

    1. Hi Allison, the size is the most important! The height has to be in the recommended 30-36″ range, deep enough to accommodate a sink, and of course the right width for the space. Then I look at the style/finish 🙂

  10. What a nice thing for you to do! It looks like Janice is at least starting with a pretty nice space (I love her floors. I put something similar in our 3rd bedroom and often wish I would have just done the whole house.) I have to say I’m most excited for the dog room!!

  11. I’m so excited to see this transformation. You are such an inspiration and I have no doubt the finished product will look amazing!

  12. Jenna – you are such an inspiration. You got this! Please let your sponsors know all your followers truly appreciate their generosity. Seriously, if I wasn’t in California, I would totally be in Pensacola helping you out~

    Please let Janice and her husband know they are in my thoughts and prayers. From one military family to another – thank you for your service…

  13. Jenna you are such an angel and God is smiling at your right now. Janice is one lucky girl to have you by her side right now.

  14. Your such a kind, sweet person. Congrats on the good news of the houses! So glad things are starting to go your way. I hope Luke likes his new job.

  15. I had to comment on your lattice on the wall idea. Back in the day….LOL especially in the 70’s people put painted lattice on walls. On That 70’s Show they have it over a wallpaper background. It’s very pretty. We put painted lattice on our patio to hide an ugly and cold wall and it turned out beautiful. I can’t wait to see what it looks like. I will probably then steal your great idea Jenna LOL

  16. I seriously can NOT wait until we see how this turns out!
    I’m so glad you were able to swoop in and help bring this woman some joy, what a treat for her AND you! <3

  17. This makes my heart so happy! I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I absolutely love your work and that you are doing this.

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