I have been an energetic, hands-on successful home-owner builder and home remodeler for over 20 years. Up until the late 2000s, I was in a perpetual building, remodeling, demolishing, rebuilding, interior designing, repairing, refinishing, constructing (and cleaning!) cycle. What sounds like a cross between an obsession, and a labor of love, my drive is to create beautiful spaces. Not a trained designer or architect, (as a payments and banking management consultant, I know just enough to be dangerous!), so I would say I have an affinity (and respect) for and with the process: managing projects, engaging contractors, reviewing designs, working with architects, reviewing tons of magazines, checking building code, meeting with inspectors, solving problems, course correcting, choosing product and checking in with interior designers for that last push of confidence – yes go for it!
My feeling is the inside and outside should complement an overall look, tone and feel of comfort and ambiance, function, safety, soundness and sustainability from an investment point of view. I don’t build intending to lose money later – at the same time, my price points don’t reflect a speculative approach (cheaper would be easier and faster). Bringing the inside out and outside in, so there is a flow of continuity in style and design is my goal. Trimming the outside topiaries, adding colorful annuals in the urns and planters, interior touches such as rich warm paint and finished carpentry, marble and granite to add sophistication, also shopping for that special item – looking high and low for that unknown, but I will know it when I see it. The Hamptons have given me inspiration for cedar shingles; while Carmel has inspired stonework and a carriage garage door for my Tahoe Chalet. The San Francisco Design Center gave life to interior upholstered pieces, acquisitions from Memory House Antiques (out of biz) for the Louie IVX, styled table and nine foot armoire for my Danville townhouse affectionately referred to as my “French Villa”. The graphics from Baume I hand-carried, added a European touch to the 70-year Knotty Pine - Old Tahoe original I restored to a year round residence.
The love of my life, second to my six year old Bouvier des Flandres, Handsome Hutt, has to be the Chalet de Huttlinger, located on Tahoe’s Magical West Shore, rents as a popular short term luxury spot. A six year project which began in 1998, this stunning expression of vision and sheer will, to take an undeveloped lot and original chalet cabin suffering from severe water damage requiring Hazmat, for what started as “just needed a spot to hang my skis”, ended up taking on a life of its own and tested me in many ways, personally, professionally and financially. The short building window due to weather means you need to hustle to keep the permits current, the logistics of hauling materials and furniture over the pass can be a challenge, importing skilled as well as dealing with local labor – building in the Sierra’s is not for the weak! The finished project, a gorgeous landscaped highly finished custom home includes a 4,000 square foot lawn, a carriage styled chalet, preserving the original 900 square feet and adding on decks, spa, garage & laundry, dining, and a private studio for a finished 2,000 square foot, 2 story, two bedroom, and two bathroom fabulous home. My big take away, girls can build too!