Renovation is Hard! – Top 5 tips

September 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Starting a renovation, while you are living in the space, is really hard.  A few of my brave clients underwent a major renovation of their homes while they were still living there.  Of course, the reward is huge!  They kept telling me “I love my kitchen” or “I love my bathroom”.  It is a very satisfying feeling when you can create your own “favorite” space. Our surroundings will surely impact our daily lives more than you realize.  So, here are my 5 top tips if you are thinking of taking the courageous step towards renovation!

1. Setting your expectations for the process and timeline

No matter how much we try to prevent it, there will be dust. (Make sure you request to cover the return and supply vents before starting construction!)  You may have to relocate some of your smaller appliances such as microwave and toaster to laundry room or other areas.  You will not be able to cook too much and may need to eat out. You can certainly travel for part of your remodel if you have a trusted designer or contractor to oversee the process. Many of my clients have done so.  With current technology we can communicate over the phone and/or Skype!

Speak about your project timeline in detail with your contractors.  You may ask the contractor to provide a project schedule.  You may review it every 1 to 2 weeks.  It is also important to add some wiggle room for your schedule – both mentally and physically.  Something will always come up when you are undertaking a major renovation!

2. Select and order materials with enough lead time

Sometimes clients say “I would like to start the remodel of my kitchen next month.”   In this high tech era, you would think the renovation could be faster.  Unfortunately not that fast!  For example, the lead time of cabinetry (not even speaking about design) may be 3-6 weeks depending on your cabinet manufacturer.  You would also want to give 2-3 weeks of lead time for most materials such as lighting, plumbing fixtures, and tiles including delivery.  That will give time to correct any damages, which occur during delivery.  Request contractors (or perform yourself) to inspect all materials for damages and colors long before the installation – preferably upon receipt of the materials.

 3. Document!

To avoid uncomfortable miscommunications, I strongly recommend having detailed documentation.  What is included in the contract for installation?  Is the cost of material included? If so, what types of material? You may hire designers who can provide you and the contractors with a set of drawings such as floor plan, elevations, and details.  So all of us are on the same page and fewer mistakes will happen.

4. Balance between now and later

Renovating your entire home at all once may be ideal, – get it done!   Doing it one at time such as kitchen countertop may feel slightly easier and cost less than tackling the entire kitchen remodel.  But there is a balance between cost and time effectiveness and inconvenience during the renovation. If you have two bathrooms, perhaps start with one of them first. So you will still have at least one working shower. The more inconvenient your life becomes, the more you will feel stressed during your remodel.  If you are considering one room to remodel, I would recommend completing the entire room at once instead of remodeling one element at a time such as paint, countertop, and cabinetry.  Not to mention that would take more time, also you may lose a complete vision.  Do you want to select a countertop, which matches existing cabinet or new cabinet that you have not yet decided upon?

5. One step at time, enjoy the ride!

When you are looking at an entire project, it may be overwhelming.  But everything can be decomposed to smaller tasks.  We often try to reach a goal in full control and forget the fact that the process should be fun as well as the outcome!

Categories: Interior Design

Freshening Up for Summer

May 23, 2011 Leave a comment



Spring blooming flowers are fading away recently.  This weekend, I started to switch around and add new flowers to dress up my containers for summer.  Primroses and Ranunculus, which brought such a bright color to early spring garden, passed their peak of bloom.  To keep my container looking fabulous, started to replace some plants.

Yellow twig dogwood started to grow variegated leaves.  Two different shade of Snapdragons, and violas.  Kept Black Mondo Grass in the back.

This container got a full make-over.  Light pink Snapdragon, Dusty Millers, and Petunia. (Photo on the below right).   The arrangement introduced in Spring Container Idea 1 is updated as below photo on the left.   Click here to see more pictures!  You can see better quality photo by clicking the each image.



Categories: Flower Containers

Slab Art – Reclaimed Beauty

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Table by Slab Art

I have visited the showroom of Slab Art – Salvaged Lumber Art Builders ( in the Ballad neighborhood of Seattle.  Initially I imagined some arts related to natural stone slabs based on the name of the company.  It is not!  When you go in, the showroom is filled with beautiful wood slabs and wood smell.  They use “salvaged wood” to create new art objects and furniture.  “All these salvaged wood have stories to tell – history, where it is salvaged, shape, and grain of wood” they say.  Eric, a co-founder of Slab Art, lived in Japan and appreciates aesthetics of Japanese architecture and woodwork. I was also born and raised in Japan surrounded by temples and gardens. (I grew up in Nara prefecture, the oldest capital of Japan.)  My design style reflects certain principles of Japanese design naturally.  I love its constrained elegance, negative space, taking out elements to add balance and impact, and flow of space.  Nature – the shape of tree branches, texture of leaves, color of flowers, and entire composition – is an art form and inspires me.  The visit was very inspiring and made me want to sketch my own design ideas and objects.  Every piece is different.  If you are looking for a truly unique piece of art or furniture, you may want to check it out. Or design the piece with Hatano Studio!

Categories: Interior Design

Spring Container Ideas 3

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment
Deep, Bright, and Sculptural

People ask how do I start.  I was arranging this container to The Ashram Yoga where I practice yoga religiously. (the best Hot Yoga!)  So I look for inspiration or connecting thread – color or structure – something related.  This is the same thought process I use for Interior Design.  I wanted it to feel rising energy and sculptural and incorporate their website color orange and yellow.   I walk around the nursery, I pick one plant that catches my eyes – Apricot Queen Flax.  It has a dark red edge and height.  Dark red color is accentuated with Red Twig Dogwood branches, which add sculptural shape.  For orange and yellow colors, Begonia with deep green foliage, Viola, and Pansies accompany them.  Soft flower-like Hosta volume up the whole.  Black Mondo Grass for deepen the palette.  Trailing Lysimachia (Persian Chocolate) to complete the design..  Most of plants have to be shade tolerant.  That added a bit challenge, of course!

Categories: Flower Containers

Spring Container Ideas 2

April 27, 2011 1 comment

Blue-Purple and White for Shaded Area

Creating f flower container is addictive.  Compared with Interior Design, which takes months and months of planning and installation, it is very inexpensive and quick. (Still I love Interior Design and enjoy the process.)

This time I wanted to brighten up the shaded area of my deck.  So I mixed Creeping Jenny, lime green Hosta, blue-purple hue of Chocolate Chip Ajuga and bright white primrose for finishing touch.

I hope all plants will grow and fill up container soon.

Elegant Pink and Silver-Grey     





When I found Dusty Miller at nursery I cannot resist purchasing it – even though it is not cold hardy.  The mix of Soft pink Ranunculus, white viola with tint of purple hue, and silver-grey foliage of Dusty Miller looks so elegant and romantic.


Flower is the best tool to complete your space or add colors! I cannot live without them.

Categories: Flower Containers

Spring Container Ideas 1

April 26, 2011 1 comment
Lime Green and Cool Pink Combo

Spring is finally here!! How about dressing up your porch or garden with splash of color? Sure it makes you smile!

Photo- Left: A lot of texture but color brings modern look. Fuchsia Lewisia, Lime Green Licorice, Cute White Bacopa, Light Pink Diascia, and Tufted Hair Grass in the back.

Orange and Yellow - A lot of Energy


Photo – Right: Bright Orange (rose like) Ranunculus,  Libertia Peregtinans  (golden bronze spike for height and texture), yellow primroses.

 For more photos, please click here!

Categories: Flower Containers
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