Design Week Ja 2020

Sunday, October 18, 2020

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Know When To Cash Out

I am always thinking of how I can increase value for myself or others. Initially, like most new homeowners, I took a 30-year mortgage to benefit from lower payments over an extended period. Typically, homeowners refinance their mortgage in the hopes of reducing their monthly payments and extending the duration of the loan. After a few years I took a non-traditional route by increasing my monthly payments and reducing the duration of the loan to 15 years. I made that decision as my financial situation had changed. By doing so I saved significantly on interest and was able to pay the principal at a much faster rate. This propelled my overall net worth as the equity in my home also increased at a faster rate.

Once the mortgage was paid off, I was able to leverage the situation and go in search of greater value. Over the years, the real estate market had made significant changes and not all properties appreciated at the same rate. I also realised that the appreciation value of my home had essentially reached its peak based on the age of the home and the location. I then started the search for an area that would be poised for greater appreciation over the years based on the shift in demand trend.

If I had to do it over again I would have asked the lender for 20- or 25-year options because the difference may not have been great and I would have saved significantly on interest in the early years of the mortgage.

My neighbours were astonished when I told them I was selling my house and leaving the big lawn behind. I called my adult children and discussed the selling plan and with no hesitation they said, “Go for it!” In fact, my daughter said, except for the dining table please give away the furniture! Those words were the start of my #budgetdecorator journey since I had no intention of tossing away all my furniture.

Challenge Accepted — #budgetdecorator

After living at my old home for 15 years, I was not really up to date with new design trends, so I started researching immediately. The timing was perfect as my daughter had just purchased her home in New Jersey. I was quite happy to be visiting her when she was remodelling and realised that she was on-trend with home design. I became attracted to the industrial décor look. While I was awaiting my new home, she also bought a kitchen remodelling franchise and spoke about kitchen trends with me almost daily.

I bought this new home, pre-construction, allowing me to add input in the final design, incorporating my taste and style.

I attended the Jamaica Observer Design Week 2019 and started to make mental notes of design trends from the various participants. By the end of the week I knew where I could get tiles, fixtures, lights, mirrors and paints right here in Jamaica. I love creating and decided to do the project myself and save on interior designer costs.

I moved into my new home in February, just before COVID-19 work- from- home protocols. Conveniently, this became my weekend at-home project. I approached it month by month, room by room to even out my expenses.

My décor style at the old home was eclectic, so the dilemma was now to convert the new space to what I call “urbanology ease” but had to incorporate many of my somewhat outdated furniture and accents, along with new pieces, without breaking the bank!

Eclectic Style: A décor that comprises heterogeneous elements – a mixture of textures, time periods, styles, trends, and colours. It includes greens, browns and dark colours.

Urbanology: Using cool tones, white, black, neutrals, mixing metals and woods, open beams/plants, exposed lighting and piping. Bringing the outdoors in.


I love to cook and this #budgetchef spends a lot of time in her kitchen... I wanted the space to be cosy, functional and full of character. In keeping with my theme, I worked with the contractor and created the kitchen design and colour. I used grey on the lower cabinets and white on the upper cabinets, with shaker doors, and added some inexpensive but cool pulls I picked up on my travels. I added wooden floating shelves to display my growing copper collection and I also converted the pantry as a nook to display special photographs. For the backsplash, I used the trending white hexagon tiles to connect with the white countertop and installed grey custom window blinds to pull the look together.


I go basic on floor tiles ensuring that they are light-coloured and large to give the feel of a bigger space. Bear in mind that a lot of the floor space will be covered by furniture and carpet so I don't have to break the bank using marble tiles. For the master bathroom and powder room I decided to add some floor drama throughout and kept the wall tiles simple. The tiles I selected complemented the black floating vanities.

Light Fixtures and Mirrors

The purchaser of my old home did not like the eclectic style light fixtures so I was happy to take them, change the colours by spray-painting, and they have now made an entrance in some of the rooms. New black metal rectangular lighting fixtures were purchased for the living and dining area along with a floor lamp to add height in the living room.

I added my own shower enclosure, fixtures and bathroom mirrors. I carefully measured the space and selected frames and mirrors for the vanities and showers. Google is my BFF, so I ensured that I researched standard measurements for hanging pictures/mirrors from ceiling, floors or over tables. I don't leave out these details. I manage the workmen, ask a lot of questions at hardware stores, and a tape measure is always in my bag.

Living Room

While I awaited the construction, I started refinishing my furniture and decided what I would keep or toss. I enlisted the help of the talented Gail LynShue Patterson (my daughter's friend who is now like family), who connected me to every artisan possible.

She has now since started her own design firm, LynShue Design and Build. We would discuss price range and skills of the various workmen and every time we spoke, I would get some great ideas from her. She convinced me to throw out a love seat I wanted to keep. I was defiant but by the time she introduced me to her upholsterer, Nadene Mignot of Farm House Living, they, along with my daughter (Shara), convinced me and I relented.

I hit it off with Nadene when she offered to visit the space to see the size of the seating area, refusing to take my measurements over the phone. We agreed on a sofa that she would eventually make, and by then I had given away an old sofa that we could now use as the base and save money. I selected the fabrics and she rewrapped all my upholstered pieces, changing arms and legs to modernise them.

I kept a traditional bookcase but purchased two metal end tables as I always liked mixing metal and wood. A new entrance table was made to fill the space, but I was conscious of the ratio of furniture to square footage of the living room as I wanted free walking flow. Metal and wood furniture blend beautifully together in a room and is never out of style. The combination of iron and wood such as guango or mahogany is timeless, and furniture designers nowadays are fusing wood and metal for chic designer pieces as end, entrance and coffee tables.

The splurge was a new centre table from Tamara Harding of Mara Made Designs since I decided to use the then coffee table/ottoman for seating now. The table design is the first of its kind for the talented Tamara who always makes the wood tell her what it wants to become. No two pieces are alike and for this table, she wanted to utilise the thickness of the slab in a functional but creative way. It is indeed a conversation piece when you walk into the room and I was careful to select the accents most of what I already had — Gene Pearson masks resting in a gold tray along with a Chanel coffee table book completed the look. The table lip can easily hold a tray when entertaining and I also commissioned the kitchen stools from Tamara, as well.

I went very light on the walls and window treatments throughout as my art collection is quite vibrant as you enter the living room.

The rug was the final piece of the challenge but I must admit that it was very difficult for me to select the right one that would pull the space together. When I sent my daughter the updated picture of the living room, she was very blunt and said that the space did not come together despite the fact that all the pieces were nice on their own. We started searching for a rug, but that day I also called LynShue and asked her to help me with the rug search as well. She decided to come and look at the space for the first time because we were all in lockdown mode since I moved. Immediately, she said that everything was relevant, but the placements of furniture and accents were wrong.

It took her no more than 45 minutes to organise the space and incorporated even accents that I was about to toss in the storeroom. We divided the living space in zones with furniture placement. The sofa was placed facing away from the dining area and defining the conversation area. Furniture was pulled away from the walls and we measured the space to get the right size rug, ensuring that at least the front legs of the bigger furniture would sit on the rug. All end tables were placed at arm's length to seating and we added plants to give a feeling of nature. Accents were grouped and we carefully added just enough to avoid cluttering.


Principal Bedroom

The King sleigh bed used at my old home is up for sale as the carpenter who refinished my furniture also made a bed. I always wanted a painting as a headboard and for my birthday in August I was gifted a commissioned piece by Mabusha Dennis — Water Lilies — to add calmness to the room. All the furniture in the principal bedroom are from my old house and I used both brown and white wooden pieces. I painted the walls beige and added a dark brown accent wall. The occasional chair was rewrapped in dusty pink to add some femininity, and I selected a damask rug to finish the artsy look that I was going for.

The second bedroom is my home office with more than enough space to hold a twin bed or inflated queen bed when I have guests. I decorated the space using eclectic pieces such as an old dial telephone and a swing wall clock.

The third bedroom is still a work in progress, and I can't wait to have my granddaughter Sage for Christmas taking over the room and the bed her dad gifted me when he was migrating. The room was painted in beige with a sage accent wall.

The latest project is a space saver L-shaped desk I designed from metal and wood. I commissioned the base made from 2” metal square and painted it black. I then called my carpenter and we set out early to get wood and screws for the top. I bought ply board but at the end of the day, I was not pleased with the finish and #budgetdecorator was not happy that money was wasted on ply. I contacted another carpenter who introduced me to Jatoba and he made a new desktop in 24 hours. The finish was marvellous. It was also heart-warming to know that we still have reliable workmen!

I also made a planter box for the patio from pallets that were lying around the property. I received a lot of messages about termites when I shared the project and the wood is now treated using simple gas oil.

I enjoyed sharing this project with you especially at this time when we are all at home wondering when this COVID-19 will end. It was a way for me to capitalise on my weekends amidst the lockdown and clear my mind after a hard week of looking at numbers. Since March, if it was not decorating, it was planting a herb garden, attending to my growing plant collection or cooking on a budget each weekend. Life is all about balance and everything gets done.

More than anything else I hope the takeaway is that you can #DecorateOnABudget, don't rush, work with what you have and do enlist the help of friends and family.

Selling was the best investment decision I made as it is less than two years and already the value of my new home has increased more than 30%. Know when to let go; life is short! We don't have to stay in the same place and do the same things.


Eclectic living room — showcasing heavy green paint on paintable wallpaper throughout the living room. The dining room was painted in a softer yellow using the same wallpaper, as well. The book-themed red and green centre table and end table were tossed. Light fixtures were redone in black and are now used in the new home.

The love seat with wooden arms was tossed after a fight with my 'design assistants'. The armchair was reupholstered in a blue and beige stripe and I changed the shape completely, in line with modern trends.

Beige ottoman/table that was in the TV area was redone and is primarily used as seating and now accompanies the new arm in a space I now dub a reading corner.


Note the copper collection displayed on the kitchen cupboard and the old-style cabinet glass inserts. The stools were tossed, and all the appliances updated.

Principal Bedroom

The room was painted in blue/grey on wallpaper, as well. The sleigh bed is up for sale and was replaced with a modern bed and an art headboard. The wooden night table is now in the new bedroom.

Patricia Henry
Chartered accountant
E-mail: pattiers@yahoo.com

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