Corned Beef with a Twist

I make my corned beef in a crock pot. I love coming home after a long day and hit with the delicious scent of cooking corned beef.

  • If you have a crock pot, get it out. Don’t? Get one!
  • Put the corned beef in fat side down.
  • Fill with enough water to cover the meat.
  • Add peppercorns and a bay leaf if you like.
  • Cook on low for about 6-8 hours.
  • When it’s fork tender take it out of the crock pot and let it rest in an oven proof serving platter for about fifteen minutes.

Now here’s the twist…

Slice the meat into pieces about 1/2” thick and smear the top of the corned beef with currant jelly. Stick the serving dish under the broiler for about 5 minutes-until the jelly melts and bubbles. Serve immediately.


Demo Day!

I love demo day!

The contracts were signed in August. After planning, designing, choosing, and discussing-lots and lots of discussing – we are finally ready to start my first big project of 2018.

This time we are in Pasadena, Md. A lovely home across from the water. The front of the house is deceiving; its not very wide so from the street you can’t tell that it’s very deep. Inside is an equally lovely family of 5. And 2 dogs, Teddi and Lucy.

This project incorporates a new kitchen, new wood flooring throughout the first floor, refacing the Family Room brick fireplace with stacked stone and adding a new hearth. We are also changing the look of this house from typical “builder grade” to a craftsman look. This is going to transform this home!

The biggest change will happen on demo day when the wall separating the kitchen from the dining room will come down. We are also getting rid of those fake pillars that seem to be in so many homes. What will eventually fill this large open space will be a new kitchen with a huge island.

The cabinet door style I chose is in keeping with the Craftsman feel but one I have never used before so I’m very excited for the cabinets to be installed but thats not for at least 4 weeks. Good things are worth waiting for.

Also on tap are ceiling beams, a barn style pocket door, new railing for the staircase, refinished mantel, and a custom made kitchen table. All these elements will have me making a trip to my cabinet maker to choose finish, wood, and texture. Will we have a rustic look on the beams? An industrial feel? Will the mantel look handscraped? I won’t know until we start playing with stain and texture.

But the fun starts with Demo Day!

It’s a Wrap!

This is the fourth post in my ‘The Real Story – Behind a Kitchen Remodel’ series. If needed, catch up with the first postsecond post and third post. All caught up? Read on…

The last few months have not been without headaches. But we all persevered and it is now a fact that Michael and Leslie have incredible patience and are wonderful clients.

When I last wrote the new hardwood flooring was in place and a stain was chosen. Fast Forward to June. The cabinets are finally being installed. We are on a time line because the counters are being templated June 17th for granite installation on June 28th. But there’s a problem. Matt placed the frame work on the floor to give us an idea of what the traffic flow will be like once the cabinets are permanently installed.


The spacing between the refrigerator/wall oven string of cabinets and the side of the island is not wide enough. We originally specified for a cabinet depth refrigerator which is not as deep as a full depth. Back in April it was decided to purchase the full depth(for a roomier refrigerator )and bring the rest of the cabinets out from the wall 6″ to create the built-in look that a cabinet depth would have provided. These are custom cabinets so why not? We also thought adding a book shelf to the island would give Leslie an area for her cookbooks and also provide more counter space. All of this took up too much floor space and a solution was needed immediately. It was decided the entire bank of cabinets were to be taken down 6″ from the backs and a cabinet depth refrigerator was now needed to be purchased.

With that problem solved it was smooth sailing installing the rest of the base cabinets and the counter install. Until the string of cabinets that divide the family room to the kitchen went in with the cabinet that was built to hide the support pole and provide storage.


In order for the pole to look centered in the line of cabinets I decided to have the cabinet sitting on the counter large enough to provide that look. The pole takes up just one end of the cabinet so there is lots of storage behind that door. But…with the island facing the family room Leslie felt the cabinet was blocking her view and not providing the open feeling she wanted. A new, much smaller,cabinet was made. Although it doesn’t look centered now I have some tricks up my sleeve to ‘fool the eye’. We are waiting for the new family room couch to be delivered to decide if we need to do anything at all.


And those pretty pendants in the photo? I ordered 3 for the island. They are just the look Leslie wanted and LED…just what Michael wanted. But the first 4 lights were delivered with broken shades. We finally got 3 good ones. They were definitely worth the wait.

The final headache was the vent over the cooktop. This was the last ‘appliance’ to be installed. The wall cabinets took a bit longer to get which held up the tile splash and installing the vent. Once the cabinets were set and the tile in Matt was to install this beautiful stainless vent over the range. But the vent was all wrong! This vent was for a completely different application. It’s used more in a commercial space not residential. We now needed to find the proper vent and once more getting to the finish line is being held up. The following week on Sept.23rd Matt installed the proper vent. The end is near.

The cabinet hardware was finally delivered and installed. The butlers pantry with its beautiful glazed cabinets was finished too. And except for a new mirror the powder room wallpaper is up, the new vanity is in and it looks great.

We are now waiting for a custom kitchen table and chairs, family room couch, furniture for the screened porch,and some finishing touches.

The contracts for this project were signed Feb. 26th. On October 3rd Tony had his final walkthru with Matt by his side. There were just a few minor adjustments but Leslie texted me and said “Now I know why people cry on those home renovation shows”.

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I hope you enjoyed this blog series. Periodically check my website for before and after shots of this 8 month project. The transformation is pretty spectacular!

Take Down That Wall!

And the story goes on…

Leslie and Michael have been without a kitchen for well over a month. And as of yesterday no powder room too.

But let’s go back to mid June. With the kids away at camp it was time to open the house to the great outdoors. The kitchen wall needed to come down along with the family room wall to create that beautiful open floor plan we are striving for. But first the Master Bedroom on the second story above had to be braced with metal beams and supports. This turned into an all day affair!

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By 4 PM the mission was accomplished with no cracks in any ceilings. Not even a nail pop! And the weather cooperated too. It was a good day!

With the walls down tarps went up to keep the outside out (sort of). Now on to opening up the other walls and ceiling in the existing kitchen down to the studs. Why? It’s time to run the plumbing, electrical, and come up with a lighting design for this new, much larger, kitchen.

But first we visited the granite yard… my candy store. Leslie and Michael met me June 27th. Our goal was to find a strikingly dramatic granite for the island. I had the cabinet and quartz (going on the perimeter cabinets) samples with me along with the beautiful tile for the splash. After narrowing it down to 3 slabs we came up with a winner! But, the tile splash was not working. The color was off and I knew I needed to reselect. Even though the splash was to be installed over the quartz counter the look was not right anymore. A few days later I met with Leslie and showed her another tile. With their approval on the tile I needed to make on more stop. The granite slab was already purchased by the fabricator. So off to Mt. Airy I went with the new tile and cabinet samples. It’s funny how the second choice is usually the best choice! The new tile looked wonderful with the granite. Whew!

My foreman on the job, Matt, drew on the sub flooring in the kitchen where the new kitchen cabinets will be including the island. This is crucial in terms of placement of ‘work’ lighting, ‘table’ lighting, ‘ambient’ lighting and pendants. Do we go with 2 pendants or 3? Should they be straight across the island or on a curve to mimic the counters? And it was about this time that my plans for skylights over the kitchen table were not to be. The line of the roof extending from the new screened porch took up more space then was previously anticipated. My original thoughts for lighting in this space will have to be adjusted. Leslie and I met with the electrician July 7th. We wrapped things up in an hour. Leslie was very excited!!

Then the old wood floors came up…what a mess.

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Before the new “stain in place” floors are installed Leslie, Michael, and I needed to get the wall colors decided. We are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel!

Leslie thought she might like to have wallpaper in the powder room…good idea! With wallpaper books and my paint deck in hand I arrived to their house and used the huge stacks of unfinished wood planks as my desk. The wood floors arrived but needed to ‘acclimate’ for several days to the space where they will be laid to expand or contract before installation.

After pursuing several different “looks” Leslie chose a beautiful color for the kitchen walls that will compliment the granite and splash rather then contrast. We needed to think about the family room walls as well. With the wall down between both rooms and the family room wall color (a pretty sage green) not changing where do we end the green and start the kitchen color? The new backwall of the kitchen runs right into the family room.

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I decided a wide piece of molding running vertically down the wall where the kitchen ceiling starts was the answer. This new molding will be painted the trim color and act as a ‘divider’ between the 2 rooms thus allowing 2 paint colors.

With the walls painted and the wood floors installed a stain for the floors needed to be chosen. Because the floors shouldn’t be walked on after the stain process and the odor is quite strong we recommended Leslie and Michael take a little vacation. With their son (their daughter is still at camp and Silo is at the kennel) Michael and Leslie took a week off from the ‘construction zone’ and left the stain choice up to me. After choosing, I had a Facetime call with them for their approval. Can you pick which one we chose?

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The floors are being stained now and cabinets go in next week! My next blog will be the big reveal! Stay tuned… it’s going to be gorgeous!

Let the Games Begin!

This is the second post in my ‘The Real Story – Behind a Kitchen Remodel’ series. If needed, catch up with the first post. All caught up? Read on…

Wondering what’s going on with Leslie and Michael? My clients in Clarksville wanting a larger kitchen? A screened-in porch? New hardwood floors?

When I last blogged we were waiting for approvals and permits. Fortunately the association approvals came in just 2 weeks! Having good architectural drawings, a complete design, and clients who filled out all the paper work correctly the first time were the secret ingredients.

Leslie and Michael asked for the work to begin the end of May. This way their kids will be away at camp in June when the construction started on the inside. Concerned where to have their morning coffee and, more importantly, where their beloved black Lab, Silo, will be doing ‘his business’ was enough with out dealing with the kids too. Smart move!

The month of April was the perfect time to make final decisions on the kitchen and timeline for construction. After all…with all the floors being replaced on the main level of the house Leslie and Michael needed to box up everything in every room as if they were moving…quite a big job.

On April 28th they met with Tony first and then Gael and I at their home. Three hours later we had everything signed, sealed, and, of course, delivered to Tony and Gael. We decided to get new cabinets for the small Butlers Pantry (a wine fridge too) off the kitchen. The following day my clients and I met at Gael Summerhill’s shop to sign off on finishes, hardware, yes on the farm sink or no (it was a yes), and all the goodies that go inside these custom cabinets. I brought with me the perfect tile splash. They loved it. We also chose the quartz counters for the perimeter cabinets (granite will be on the island) and the paint color for the cabinets too. After another long meeting we were done!

And then the rains came…

Holes were to be dug and footers poured in the backyard to support the new addition. The plan was to dig the end of May and pour the following week but the rain held things up for a week.

During the wait I thought I’d surprise Leslie (Michael was away on business), so on May 23rd I arrived at the house with larger samples of the marble splash, a sample board of the final paint for the perimeter cabinets, the chosen cabinet hardware samples, and 3D renderings of their new kitchen! Leslie was in heaven! We spread everything out on the table. She was then able to get a clear idea of the new space. It was perfect!

On May 31st on a beautiful sunny day Tony showed up with permit in hand and a team of guys to begin the ‘outside’ work.


There are decorating emergencies!!

Everything on the outside was going smoothly. Holes were dug, footers were in and plans to start the addition was on the schedule. June 3rd Matt, the foreman for this project, climbed into the attic of the home to check the support beams. Where we thought there were just 2 support beams to contend with, there were many. This would impede on the design of cabinets (already in production) on one side of the kitchen. Oh Boy!

Matt was on it. Dan Summerhill (my custom cabinet extraordinaire and Gael’s husband) and I meet at the house to get a better understanding of the problem. Matt then called the structural engineer for a meeting to see which of the beams could be taken out, moved, or replaced so we could stick to our original design while providing the necessary support.

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Disaster averted!! In fact, it was better then we could have imagined. Most of ‘the stuff‘ in the walls was useless. We were even able to improve the kitchen design!

On June 6th Michael sent out an email to Tony and me. After much discussion he and Leslie decided they would like the new screened porch larger by about 6’. Could this be done? Was it too late? After all the footers were in. If they decided June 7th it would have been too late but yes, the porch will be enlarged to provide a better space for entertaining. Wonderful!

The weather has been cooperating and we are actually ahead of schedule! The kitchen addition is framed out and next week the current kitchen wall will be coming down. Now we go shopping in my candy store…the granite yard.


The Real Story – Behind a Kitchen Renovation

Everyone loves a good ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture of a beautiful space. Over the next several months, I will be writing a continuing story (sometimes drama, sometimes comedy, but always real) that will take you from the ‘before’ to the ‘after’ and everything in between.

Meet Leslie and Michael. A Howard County couple looking to enlarge their current Clarksville kitchen to allow for a larger eating area, professional grade appliances (Michael loves to cook), a large island (Leslie swears her current island is the most dysfunctional one in Maryland), and perhaps a dedicated coffee station. Not a large list of wants and certainly a reasonable one.

Michael has always envisioned a screened porch much like the one in their previous house. Therefore this reno will include a new screened-in porch and deck off the new extended kitchen.

Well… thats the plan.

But first, let me take you back to Dec. 10, 2015 when I had my first consultation with this adorable couple. We discussed their ‘must-haves’ and ‘in a perfect world’ wants. We discussed budget (they did not fall over when I quoted a very general dollar amount) and I took them through the process of whats next and how to get this ball rolling.

Our next appointment on Dec. 23, 2015 was the first of many meetings with my contractor, Tony Deluca of A. J. Deluca Contracting and my kitchen designer, Gael Summerhill from Summerhill Cabinets. At this time we talked about the reno, replacing all the wood floors on the entire first floor (theirs are faded and worn), adding cubbies in the laundry room, and using some of the current kitchen cabinets, once removed, in the finished basement for a mini kitchen. The list was growing.

Approximate measuring was done so Gael and I could get started on the preliminary kitchen design. We discussed cabinet finishes (Leslie had lots of pictures of her perfect kitchen), counters and any bells and whistles they’d like to have inside their new cabinets (e.g. cabinet for the Mixmaster, knife block and utensil canisters inside a base cabinet, a specific cabinet for spices and oils). The list went on but I already had the design in mind with all their wants and needs. Things were falling into place.

Feb. 22, 2016 – Gael and I met at the house with kitchen designs, cabinets styles and finishes. Michael was out of town so it was just the three of us. Leslie was able to see the kitchen design in its early stages. I made some changes with the new island. Thank goodness Leslie loved it. We went over every cabinet inside and out. We measured Leslie’s tallest pitchers and largest trays so the cabinets dedicated for these items will accommodate them. Ahhh… the beauty of custom cabinets. We discussed sliding drawers behind cabinet doors, stationary shelves, a charging station for phones, iPads, etc. (definitely a sign of the times!), under cabinet lighting and switches, and perhaps some glass front cabinets for display. It was now time for Leslie and Michael to make a trip to the appliance store. Leslie was getting excited!!

Feb. 26th, 2016 – Tony, Frank the architect, and I met with Michael (Leslie was out of town this time) so the drawings needed for our permit with Howard County could be drawn to our specifications and the specifications of the county. More exact measures were taken, roof lines and sky lights were discussed, foundations and transitions. We needed the completed drawings to be submitted to the county in 3 weeks. If we missed this deadline it could possibly throw off the entire timeline of the project. The race was on.

Leslie and Michael spent a Saturday shopping for appliances but needed some clarifications so on March 16, 2016 Leslie and I met at the Fretz Showroom in Columbia to look at Wolf and Sub Zero appliances. So glad we got Amy to help us. She showed Leslie the 36” and 42” Sub Zero refrigerator. The wolf ovens and cooktops. We even discussed knob colors. Some final decisions were made so I was then able to make the call to Gael with the appliance specifications. One big hurdle over and done.

The next hurdle was to get the drawings back from Frank in time for the March 18th deadline with the County. On March 17th in the evening Tony arrived at Leslie and Michael’s with all the needed drawings.

We are now waiting for Howard County to approve the plans and give us the go ahead.

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting…

And The Color of the Year Goes To


In a world of infinite paint color possibilities how do you choose the best for your space? Seems like a daunting job but with a little ‘paint know how’ personalizing your walls with color can be a fun project, and may even tap into a creative side you never knew you had!

Look around your home. You may not realize but it is probably filled with a color or two of similar shades. A red pillow in your living room and a red cookie jar in the kitchen. The greens and blues in your comforter are in your family room rug.

These colors that may thread through your home (and very often your clothing too!) are your ‘comfort colors’. You are drawn to them, they make you happy, they are you.

Use these colors as a base or starting point when choosing paint colors and go from there. If you’re drawn to vibrant colors such as teals, terracottas, reds, or purples, but have them in your furnishings, pick a neutral for your walls to ground them. Taupes are very popular because you can go towards the greys or the browns but still have that organic ‘stone’ color on your walls that isn’t your typical beige that so many are use to because it’s safe. These taupey shades are perfect for large spaces too, like foyers, halls, and large family rooms.
Want some color? Powder rooms are a fun space to add a vibrant color you just love but are skiddish to put in a large space. If your dining room has chair rail add a splashy color under the chair rail but keep a neutral color over the chair rail. This way the walls won’t compete with artwork or window coverings.

Let’s not forget about the 5th wall… Your ceilings! I love to add color to ceilings especially if there is crown molding in the room. Be daring by painting a neutral on the walls and an accent color on the ceiling. Yes…this accent color can be one of your comfort colors. If you love navy put it on your ceiling. You probably already have blue pillows in your living room. Adding a color to the ceiling whether it’s an accent or a neutral will better show off your moldings too!

Now let’s talk trim and doors. As a rule trim and doors should be painted the same color. The most popular trim color is still white but not all whites are created equal! There are many many shades of whites. From bright whites to creams to antique whites. There are ‘trim colors’ that have a tint of grey, or yellow, or even pink. So be careful when choosing the right trim color for your space. Like wall color, these trim colors can ‘change’ during the day depending on natural light and lamp lighting. I always recommend getting samples of your desired wall and trim color and put it up in the room. Look at it morning, noon, and night. You’ll be amazed how one color can look so different at various times of the day.

Painting is the least expensive way to make a dramatic change to any space. But if the wrong shade is chosen a ‘do over’ is the only way to rectify it. So be careful with your selections but most of all have fun transforming your space with just a can of paint.

To Drape or Not to Drape

Window treatments can make or break a room. Yes! It’s true! What’s hanging on your windows is as important as the furniture in the room. And can be as costly. But very often the furniture is replaced way before the window treatments are. Before you address your ‘window dressings’ you need to have a budget in mind. Clients are always amazed at the cost of treatments especially if it’s been awhile since they last purchased any.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do I need privacy?
  2. Is keeping the hot, cold, and/ or light out an issue?
  3. Do I want function or just something pretty to complete the room?

These questions just scratch the surface but the answers can narrow down choices and make the process easier.

Let’s start with privacy. These treatments, whether they be shutters, shades or drapes, will have a lining on the back of them that will allow the light to come through but  provide privacy when you’re inside your home or office. For areas on the main floor of your home such as a family room or kitchen, where the hot sun can stream in, these treatments work very well. When closed it will still look like day time in your house but those bothering sun rays will be out of your eyes. In a bedroom situation ,when blackout is not necessary, light filtering shades and drapes  work very well in that they provide all the privacy you need but you’re not woken up in the morning with the sun shining in.

Now let’s talk thermal. Quite often I am having clients ask me about shades or drapes that can keep out the very cold and the very hot. Thermal shades and drapes can help reduce your heating and air-conditioning bills too! Time and time again I am surprised at how energy efficient these treatments can actually be. So what makes shades or drapes thermal? Instead of putting a privacy lining on the back of the treatment an interlining ,which feels like flannel, and then a heavier privacy or blackout lining is sewn on the back of the treatment. There are now two layers of lining which are heavier and therefore more able to keep out extreme temperatures that may creep into your home through the windows.  If you like your bedroom to be very dark into the morning then blackout lining is for you. Just keep in mind that shades can have some ‘light leak’ around the edges. If this is bothersome then drapery panels layered with the shades will take care of that issue.

Do you love the view outside your windows but still want to dress them up?Then drapery panels [non-functioning narrow drapes] may be for you! These can be in a fabric to introduce more color or pattern in the space. Or create a dressier room. Actually these simple panels,hung from a pretty drapery rod, can dramatically change the look of any room. Paired with a wood or fabric Roman shade you have a timeless look that can be enjoyed for years.

So the next time you look at your windows and think “What  I have just isn’t working for me” ask yourself these three simple questions and you will be on your way to exactly what you always wanted.

Don’t Hate, Love your Kitchen!

Do you hate your kitchen? You’d be surprised how many homeowners do. Whether its not functioning the way you’d like, you are using inefficient appliances and/or cabinets, or its just not pretty to look at, you are not alone.

For those of you who plan to move in the next 1-2 years take a good look at your kitchen. A kitchen can make or break the sale of a house; but you don’t need to spend thousands to give your kitchen a fresh look. Replacing old counters with an inexpensive granite (yes…granite does vary a lot in cost), changing out cabinet hardware or adding hardware if you don’t have any, updating that old valance hanging over your kitchen sink, or a fresh coat of paint can go a long way. If you have mismatched appliances think about investing in new ones for a cohesive look. Do it now and you can enjoy them before you move. These are just a few suggestions that you can pick and chose from depending on your budget and needs.

Continue reading

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Easy Reading & Decorating

In a world of E- Readers, Kindles, and Tablets I am frequently asked by my clients “What should I do with my old hard covered books?” Donating to your local library or used bookstore is a ‘good feel’ gesture but keep a few and lets do some decorating.

Books are an easy, free (you already have them), and fun way to add color,texture , and height to floating shelves, book cases,or any surface you’d like to display a cherished piece or great find.

Take those book covers off your hard covered books and you might discover some very colorful books hiding under them. Use these colors to your advantage. Stack 2-3 books in shades of blue and put a family beach picture on top.Take a yellow book, put a green book on top and place a yellow ceramic dish or urn on top. Put books with travel titles on a shelf with a special item you bought on a vacation.

Love a lamp but wish it was taller? A couple of books under that lamp will raise it up to your desired height and add some interest to the table it sits on. Arrange some framed pictures with a small dish or box in front and admire the beautiful table scape you just created.

How about a coat rack? Made out of books you ask? Yes!! Pick a theme, color palette, or words. Glue and adhere the books to a board of desired length, screw hooks on top of the books and create a one of a kind piece of wall art.

The ideas are only limited by your imagination. So go rediscover the wonders of your favorite books without even cracking one open!


We are Proud to offer the Following Services

  1. In-Home Consultations
  2. Large selection of wallpaper and fabrics
  3. Custom Bedding
  4. Placement and Hanging of Artwork
  5. Custom paint selection
  6. Custom window treatments
  7. Custom Upholstery and Reupholstery
  8. Flooring, Carpets, and Rugs
  9. Faux finishes and murals
  10. Furniture Placement
  11. Silk Floral Arrangements
  12. Staging and Redesign


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Traditional with a Twist. Minimalist Modern. Eclectic and ever evolving. Your Home by Wendy.

No matter your style or whether you’ve lived in your home for decades or days —Wendy Appleby, founder of Your Home by Wendy, will partner with you to enhance your home’s décor, in a way that reflects your personality and taste.

My trusted creative team and I take the time to listen to your decorating dreams and challenges and then play cupid to make your home a place you can’t wait to return to at the end of the day. Your Home by Wendy works with clients in the Baltimore and DC areas and beyond.

Sometimes it’s a matter of adding a few strategic touches or designing around an heirloom crystal collection or piece of furniture that you want to remain a focal point. I respect your budget and can work with you to breathe new life into pieces you already have. A sentimental piece of furniture that houses many memories but doesn’t showcase your style can be repurposed into a conversation piece.


Wendy is the only designer in Maryland to be the overall winner of the Window Coverings Association of America’s (WCAA) award for finest window treatments 2014. Quoted in local and national publications as an expert in the field of interior design, Wendy loves nothing more then to help her clients fall in love with their homes.