Fresh and Almost Fabulous

I’ve always been pretty scrappy and able to figure out how to do most things, but decorating a house has never been one of them. My husband and I have always known what we liked, but how to get there was whole different story.

About five years ago knowing that we were well passed what’s considered acceptable to still have college furniture in our possession, I reached out to my friend Kristi Nevin whose home I had long loved. Kristi, also a mom to five and always the best hostess to her and her husband’s extended family, created a beautiful home that was elegant in every way, but also so incredibly warm. You could tell that a happy family lived there.

One day, I was standing with her at the bus stop and I asked her if she would ever consider stopping by and giving me some ideas on what I could do to give our house a refreshing. The next thing I knew, we had a double date with our hubbies for dinner.

The Nevins stopped by our house before heading to the restaurant and I showed them our biggest concerns: the family room, dining room, and living room.

“Are you attached to anything in any of these rooms?” Kristi asked and I could see her wheels were spinning. I pointed out a few sentimental pieces that we had inherited from my parents, namely: a piano, some wingback chairs, a secretary, a chest of drawers, and a dining room table and chairs that had been my grandparents.

“So everything else can go?” she wondered.

“I guess so,” I wondered too.

“Then sell what you can, donate the rest, and I’ll come up with a plan.”

And plan she did. Before we even left for dinner that night, she and her husband moved the piano from the living room to the family room and reorganized the seating in our family room from being up against the walls to framing what was ultimately the focus of the room…the television. Then, before the weekend was over, I unloaded all of the furniture, lighting, and rugs that we had decided to let go. It was the summer the Scheidlers lived like “pioneers” because there were months where we had to sit on the floor and in the dark because it took a while before the new furniture and fixtures arrived.

Within days of our meeting, Kristi masterfully came up with a punch-list of to-dos for me that I was incapable of coming up with for myself. She always shrugged off my awe by telling me it was easier for her to be decisive about my house than her own. I’m not sure I entirely believe her, but I was grateful none-the-less.

The wingback chairs, secretary, and chest were all sentimental pieces I couldn’t live without. Kristi Nevin showed us how these traditional pieces could become fresh and modern.

With five kids, my husband and I had to be really smart in how we spent our decorating budget. We knew we had to work with what we had while mixing in treasures from places like One Kings Lane, Ballard, Wisteria, Mayfair, Overstock, and Anna’s Mostly Mahogany in Highwood (many of these places and sites I had never heard of!). My sister-in-law Katie Hartman also connected us with an amazing furniture refinisher that brought some very tired pieces back to life. I actually say that’s what Kristi did for my entire first floor…she brought it all back to life, which did the same for me! It’s amazing how much old stuff and clutter can just way you down. When it’s gone, the sense of relief is overwhelming in the best of ways! (I also have to give a huge shout-out to my other sister-in-law Rebecca Hartman who has the most incredible eye for paint colors. Between her and Kristi, we will never make a mistake!)

So this brings me to why I’m telling you all of this.

Probably the biggest transformation of all…the dining room with a table and chairs my grandparents had custom built when my parents were married. To update this set, we added end chairs and a rug from Ballard, lamps from Homegoods, artwork from Mark David Designs, and accessories from One Kings Lane. And don’t get me started on how in love I am with the only wallpapered room in my house.
(The wallpaper is from Paper Dolls in Highland Park.)

This spring, I did what I said I never would do, I let Kristi take a peek at our upstairs. To my relief (and horror!), she thought our downstairs had actually been much worse than our upstairs. Kristi is way too nice to say this, but I know that’s what she was thinking.

The first project we’re documenting together is the redo of our girls’ room. Again, we’re on a budget and we have to work with a wall I thought would be cool to wallpaper years ago (now, not so cool!). The following pictures are the humble “befores.” (Feel free to judge me…it’s okay!)

At first glance, you’ll see a stripped down of the girls’ room. Kristi’s first suggestion is to always get rid of the clutter and anything that the girls and I didn’t like. This made their room a fairly blank canvas where we can watch Kristi work her magic.

The biggest challenge for Kristi will be helping us address the major storage issue the girls have (my 19 year-old and 14-year-old share this room).

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing how we rework this room and some of Kristi’s practical tips that anyone can run with.

Thank you for following along!


My name is Ann Marie Scheidler and I'm thrilled you've decided to check out my blog. I'm a pearl-loving yogi with a thing for travel, a weakness for beautiful bags, and a passion for storytelling. In this space, I'll be sharing stories about my family, go-to recipes, my wellness journey, fashion and beauty favorites, and my love for Chicago’s North Shore. I find new inspiration wherever I go. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride!


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