Michele and Dave Roehler built their beautiful two-story farmhouse on the scenic, rolling hills of Lehigh Township six years ago. The landscaping around the house has grown significantly since they moved in, looking particularly lush when The Morning Call Makeover team arrives on this first day of summer.
Inside the home, the furnishings have grown to suit Michele and Dave's country tastes. Michele notes that she is particularly proud of her oak dining room set, custom-made by Amish furniture makers in Lancaster county, a bargain quilt that was "a steal," and some attractive antiques.
The family has expanded as well. Daughter Emily was born 21/2 years ago. And Homer, a 4-year-old Jack Russell terrier, joined the household three years ago.
With its pristine view, modern conveniences and room to grow, Michele is sure she has just the right house. But, she says, she feels like "building it took forever" because home-building requires so many decisions -- the kind of homey decisions she continues to struggle with today.
"I'm design-challenged," says Michele. "I know what I want, but I can never pull it together. I can't accessorize."
One of her greatest challenges was the well-used family room. "The room is OK, but there are a few things that we just 'put here for now' when we moved in that are still in the same spot six years later," she complains.
"I have more of a 'scientific' mind. I am not creative. I just need that extra something to pull the room all together, and I just don't seem to have the ability to do it," says Michele, who works as a manager in the pharmaceutical industry at PharmaNet in Blue Bell, Montgomery County.
She also struggled to choose window treatments. "I didn't know what to buy. I just bought something to match the couch," she says.
Michele says she's always felt there's just something missing in her family's favorite room. So, she did what any scientifically minded, designed-challenged homeowner would do -- she requested a Morning Call Makeover at www.mcall.com.
Readers nominated her home along with two others in online voting and Makeover designer Nancy Carroll chose to take on Michele's challenge.
Nancy started by visiting Michele to assess what was needed. They browsed through catalogs, got a clear picture of Michele's tastes and settled on a $1,200 budget to purchase accessories, window treatments and at least one new piece of furniture to cozy up the room.
As I pull into the driveway, Nancy is already at work, putting together a new console table from D&D Home Furnishings, just one of the items she gathered on what she calls her "power-shopping" spree. I grab a screwdriver and jump right in.
With the table assembled, Nancy takes me inside to show me why she selected Michele's home. The home already has a good start, she explains -- nice furniture, some great accessories, some beautiful antiques. "It feels great to be here," says Nancy, as she makes her way through the rooms.
Like a tiger in a cage at feeding time, Nancy paces, eager to get started as our photographer takes his "before" shots of the family room. Her head filled with ideas, Nancy can barely contain her enthusiasm.
When she finally is set free to decorate, there's no stopping her.
First, the window treatments
Nancy quickly removes the blue panels, leaving the sheers. In a matter of minutes, blue-and-white Waverly panels hang in their place. Leaves in the Waverly pattern speak softly to the subtle leaves on the sheers, giving them new vitality. The overall look is much more vibrant.
She keeps the conversation between fabrics going by adding a four more pillows to the sofa in front of the window. One pillow, made with the same Waverly print as the curtain panels, ties everything together, while a gold pillow will "talk to" gold accents to be added elsewhere in the room, Nancy explains.
She also adds a touch of blue-and-white Waverly print to the pretty, daisy-adorned sheer valances Michele already has on the narrow windows in the eat-in area of the kitchen at the far end of the family room. Alone, the valances looked a bit weak but when framed with the Waverly fabric, the daisy pattern pops. As we admire the look, Nancy confesses that she couldn't find valances in the Waverly pattern. With a little seam-ripping and re-stitching, she cleverly crafted the valances out of pillowcases.
On to the foyer
Nancy moves to the foyer, where she plans to recycle the blue curtains from the family room to set off the large, second-story window above the entryway.
There Michele has displayed a collection of antiques, including a high chair used by her and her mother, and some wooden boxes purchased on Friday jaunts to The Green Dragon farmers market in Ephrata.
Nancy climbs a tall extension ladder
and hangs the blue panels on each side of the large window, framing the amazing view of the countryside.
To emphasize the "Barnesville, Pa." theme of the foyer -- the words printed on one of the wooden boxes -- Nancy puts red silk geraniums in the boxes. The flowers speak to the reds in a large quilt Michele has hanging on an adjacent wall. As a finishing touch, Nancy hangs an antique carpet-beater above the door to lead the eye from the entrance up to the antique display.
Family room revisited
Back in the family room, Nancy moves the rocking chair Michele had as a child to its new spot next to the fireplace. And several members of Emily's stuffed-cow collection find a home on the rocker that Michele's mother, Holly Fatzinger, repainted just the right colors -- cream with decorative yellow flowers, green leaves and little blue butterflies. (Nice job, Holly!)
Next, Nancy rolls out a new floral area rug, centering it under the square coffee table. Blues in the rug bring new life to the blues in Michele's Broyhill sofas from J.C. Penney. Yellows speak to the flowers on the child's rocker and the new pillows on the sofa. Even more magical is how the reds in the rug suddenly make you notice the red brick in the fireplace.
With just the fabric additions alone -- the drapes, pillows and rug -- the room has come alive significantly. Everyone already is "oo-ing and ahh-ing."
Focus on furniture
Nancy makes a few minor changes to the furniture floor plan. She offsets the blue plaid sofa at an angle to the eat-in area to open up the room and increase traffic flow between both areas of the large room. On the empty section of wall behind the angled sofa, she positions the new console table assembled a few hours earlier.
The only other piece of furniture Nancy moves is a small A-frame table that she brings from the foyer to a new spot under the window in the dining-area of the room.
Time to accessorize
Now it's time to really turn on the finishing touches.
Nancy fills in some of the blank space to the left of the mantel by placing another large silk plant to join the one already there.
She removes Michele's static row of family pictures, scattering the framed prints instead into groupings on the occasional tables throughout the room. With just a few at each place, they now actually are much easier to see.
She then removes a large wreath from above the mantel and relocates it to an empty wall in the kitchen. In its place, she hangs a large, colorful print that previously hung behind the sofa. The colors in the print come alive in the company of the new drapes and rug.
Nancy then adorns one end of the mantel with a copper container filled with luscious green silks. Next to it, she places a blue-and-gray pottery vase. On the opposite end of the mantel are more silks, more blue-and gray pottery, and gold-trimmed books from Michele and Dave's library in the next room. A Longaberger picnic basket goes at the bottom right corner of the hearth and -- voila! The fireplace has instant eye-appeal.
Nancy can't resist the handsome books and returns for two more short stacks to place under the lamps on the end tables on each side of the sofa to add a design touch and give them more height. Mom Holly observes it's been difficult to read while sitting on the sofas because the lamps were a bit too short.
Nancy throws in one more decorating accessory for Holly -- an attractive wall clock now graces the wall opposite the sofa by the window. "My mom says she never knows what time it is when she visits," says Michele.
Finally, Nancy finishes the console tabletop, which has received several family photos, with a newly assembled lamp with creamy silken shade and a brick-colored vase. She fills the bottom shelf with a large silk philodendron, a blue and white vase and a matching plate in a cast-iron stand. On the wall, in the place of the large photo now hanging over the mantel, she hangs a collection of three scenic prints purchased at Marshall's.
Among Nancy's favorite accessory additions to the room is a cream-colored box she puts on the coffee table. The hardware on its drawers is identical to the hardware on the coffee table's drawers. The perfect place to tuck away TV remotes, it also serves as a design element. Nancy tops it with silk yellow gerber daisies, a pillar candle on a tall chunky stick and a small, framed photo of Emily. The colors speak perfectly to Michele's old rocker next to the fireplace.
Nancy puts a large silk on top of the tall, handsome entertainment center and removes a photo of Emily placed much too high to view.
To complete the room's transformation, Nancy rolls out another rug to add a bit color and warmth under the light oak kitchen table. Its tan and blue fibers beautifully complement the room's decor. And, it feels good under your feet, Michele adds.
Everyone stands back to take in the finished project -- a transformation from stark to absolutely stunning.
Giving the final nod of approval, Michele says, "Now, this finally looks like a home that's lived in."
Irene Kraft, Lifestyle Editor
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