the iconoclast

We did Heidi’s renovation in stages, over the course of several years – something I don’t normally recommend, but (maybe because of her background in theater) she was such a trooper we managed fine. She had that magic capability of enjoying the ride as much as the destination. At the point when her bathroom had been torn down to the terra cotta block, a moment when many a client might ask, “What have you done to my house?” Heidi exclaimed, “So amazing, it looks like Pompeii!” Below, the blow-by-blow of the process.

Also see the before and after video.


We started with the kitchen because the appliances had ceased to function. The budget was tight but we made it work with a variety of strategies: Ikea was a good fit for the cabinets and their butcher block counter made the huge center island affordable; wallpaper is cheaper than backsplash tiles (we even used it to dress up the backs of the glass cabinets); classic black and white hex tiles were $1 a square foot, and my stone supplier obliged with a scrap (leftover from a bigger job) for the counter. Heidi’s collection of theater posters in plexiglass frames was an inexpensive way to decorate the large expanse of wall that became available after we knocked out an awkward room divider. All the costs savings meant we were able to install a wish list item: A combo washer-dryer.

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In the bathroom, we went for a frankly hippie-chick vibe, starting with the window shade, which I requested Heidi buy months before any other choices were made. A collection of highly-patterned indigo-and white accessories was then assembled, along with an oak trunk vanity, indigo hex tiles, bronze towel bars and a hand-tooled copper sink. The bonus finishing touch was a hand-painted leaf mural, inspired by the accent rug.

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In the living room – picking up the indigo note and adding teal and grey – we did a Readymade Decorating™ revamp: new couches, lamps, pillows, drapes and carpet, a coffee table donated by a friend, and a new paint job that uses indigo to accent the back of the existing bookcase. As part of the facelift, we reworked the shelving to accommodate a large flat screen TV, still leaving plenty of room for Heidi’s books and mementos from all the Broadway shows she’s worked.


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