Repurpose, Use Salvage and Donate to keep Remodel on Budget


Hello again! Being a newbie to blogging, I have some catching up to do. So today I thought I’d share my most recent remodel ( a year and half ago involving  2 bathrooms) which came about a bit unexpectedly. Even when you plan the details and set aside a budget, remodeling any room in the house can be overwhelming, stressful and expensive.  So we were caught unprepared and disheartened when our master bath pipes froze during a frigid winter and days later our hall bath tub backed up, resulting in leaks through our previously remodeled kitchen ceiling!


The master bath had been an add-on, done by the previous owners who cut corners, running the pipes along an exterior wall.  My husband  removed layers of  wet plaster, drywall and cleaned up the muck and dust that traveled everywhere. When the tub backed up and leaked into another section of the kitchen ceiling two days later, my husband was not happy to be at it again! Not wanting to take any chances of repeating this mess, we called the plumber and decided to have the pipes re-routed into an interior wall (even though it was not covered by insurance.)

When we first moved into the house, we knew we’d have to tackle to the hall bath at some point. It had been done on the cheap (reoccurring theme) when the house had been flipped several years before we moved in. We gave it a good scrubbing, new paint and I sewed and hung a valance and shower curtain.  Then I got very creative with storage. (Note the table hung upside down, used as a shelf and towel rod). We figured someday we’d give the space a proper remodel.

IMG_0989Not too long before the stream of leaks came into the kitchen, I  dreamily mapped out numerous floor plans, looking for ways to re-configure this bathroom. Options were limited, as space and storage were really tight.  With a clogged tub the “someday” had arrived. Now that both bathroom’s pipes were exposed in the open kitchen ceiling, I convinced my husband that we  needed to turn “lemons into lemonade” by tackling  both bathrooms. By breaking through their common wall, we could steal  two feet from the master for extra space for the hall bath. (See below where a 2 foot bump out is being created the width of the existing vanity.) The new wall pushed the vanity forward,  leaving the shower to its left and an existing pass-through linen closet to the right.

IMG_2175 IMG_2173Months passes as we tried to keep up with which bathroom had a working toilet or running water. But we plowed along, first, painting the existing vanity, previously a bureau. We left the pretty cream marble, sink and faucet. The old lighting (as seen through the 2×4’s) along with the corner shower stall and faucet were sold on Craig’s List.

IMG_2265 IMG_2254 I scored  brass sconces on a local yard sale site for free! Around the same time, my parents were selling  their home, so I grabbed their old iron dining room chandelier. IMG_5110 All of the lighting received a chalk paint job, (yes, you cant paint over metal) giving them a new look. The new bump out allowed us to create a squared off shower where the corner, glass enclosed stall had been. New creamy subway tile and mosaic floor tile was from a local tile company’s surplus. Most of it was $1.00 per foot!
IMG_2255IMG_1293IMG_1301IMG_2269 IMG_2276While my husband and I were looking at the framing of the newly extended shower wall, we wished we could add more natural light in the shower. I remembered a transom window I had trash picked. So I pulled it out and held it in place… Perfect!  Just what we were looking for!

IMG_1298We saved the existing claw foot tub, added a thrift shop glass-front cabinet for extra storage and installed window shutters, salvaged from a 1912 Friend’s Meeting Hall. I picked up the mirror at an antique store nearby for $40, I sewed valances and a shower curtain in a patchwork of leftover fabrics. At an estate sale, I found an old  “roof ladder”, full of tar for $10. My husband removed all the tar, sanded it and re-stained it. After cutting it in half, we hung it to serve as a towel rack.

Finally, with essentials in place,  it was time to paint! Since my husband is always complaining about the stacks of paint cans in the basement, I mixed up some leftovers to create a muted peachy-pink color for the walls and used leftover trim for the doors and woodwork.

Take a look at how our master bathroom turned out!

















Stayed tuned for the unveiling of the remodeled hall bath….




You never know who you’ll meet while salvaging!


A few weeks ago I found out about an old building, in a section of Philadelphia near me, that was being demolished. It had been used to store salvaged materials. For a day, it was going to be open to the public to pick through and take (for free) any of the materials inside. I made it over about an hour before it was closing up. If I had only had more time AND a pick up truck…

As I was started to haul my small load to my car, a fellow salvager asked me if he could help me out. We go to talking and I asked him what he was going to do with the door doors and barn wood that filled his pick up truck. After admitting it was his second load, Marc told me that makes furniture using salvaged materials. He and his brother own restaurants, but he dabbled with carpentry on the side. When I asked if he had any photos of some of his work, he pulled out his phone and showed me some amazing pieces. But they were cluttering up his garage and Marc said needed a way to sell them. I gave him a few suggestions and then remembered an artisan fair that was scheduled to take place in my town  a few weeks later. Marc said he’d check into it.

Last weekend, Marc and his wife and daughter’s boyfriend set up a booth full of his cool furniture. Not only did he receive rave reviews, but he sold most of his pieces!

















I can’t wait to use some of his furniture in one of my client’s rooms (or mine)!

Best of luck to Marc in his new business (!


Francis in Philly: Biking to see the Pope


Pope Francis arrived in Philadelphia this past weekend for the World Meeting of Families. For security reasons, a good portion of Center City was closed off to cars. A limited number of train stations were open with very reduced train schedules. So after getting some tickets to Sunday’s Papal Mass, my family decided to bike in!

We hit a few road blocks, hills and some rough terrain along the Wissahickon Trail.

Tree down along the trail.
Tree down along the trail.

But when it opened up, it was kind of surreal riding  empty streets heading into Philadelphia!



Traffic was blocked off by National Guard
Traffic was blocked off by National Guard





Lunch under one of the murals done by Philly Mural Arts Program.
Lunch under one of the murals done by Philly Mural Arts Program.


A friend, Eddie and his wife, Kristen, offered to store our bikes in the courtyard of their brownstone.
A friend, Eddie and his wife, Kristen, offered to store our bikes in the courtyard of their brownstone.


"Pope-up" instead of pop-up Beer garden.
“Pope-up” instead of pop-up Beer garden.


National Guardsman passing the time...
National Guardsman passing the time…






We left a lot of time to get through security.
We left a lot of time to get through security.


Enough extra time to fit in a nap!
Enough extra time to fit in a nap!


The Mass was beautiful and people were very reverent.
The Mass was beautiful and people were very reverent.


However, the lines for communion were another story.
Distribution of communion gets a bit crazy with close to a million people lining up.

It was quite a day, one we will always remember!

Whew! Made it to the car before it got too dark!
Whew! Made it to the car before it got too dark!


Decorating inspiration can come from anywhere –even a Papal visit!  After all, the root of the word inspiration is spirit and I call on the Holy Spirit daily, for my creative ideas. Pope Francis talked a lot of preserving our earth, God’s creation and about his concerns that we are a “throw-away society.” He said “We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.” Repurposing old items for new functions is worth it, not only because we create something beautiful, but because it’s saving something that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

So here I thought I’d rouse your creativity with images of church-inspired decorating!


This old church pew offers extra seating in my dining room.

church-conversion_060815_07Beautiful stained glass windows and soaring beams in a modern kitchen.


Stained glass arched window in a serene bathroom.

122013_ALISONWESTLAKE_XMAS0812-550x739-copySimple arched window in a sweet white kitchen.

kitchen bicycle converted church home cococozy design filesLove these arched doorways!

secret bath tub double doors converted church home cococozy design files

93a5eb08acd208f083e5a5eeb9e1c95bChurch pew entry seating

IMG_6606WMWhite painted pew pulled up to the kitchen table

faa3cc0c804e60cae875cfdf6e13b2b0Extra seating or storage in the bedroom

handcrafted-antique-pine-farm-table-mPorch pew seating at a rustic table


A colorful pew with additional storage below.

That’s the end of my sermon. Go out and be inspired or be inspiring! Take care of each other and the earth!



Happy Labor Day!

This is my collection of summer decor that sits on top of my cabinets and boot bench in our entryway. It works for the beginning of the summer–4th of July, to the end of the summer–Labor Day. The pieces are a collection of trash picks ( the America sign),
IMG_4937thrift shop finds (the beach sign), salvaged (an Amish-made star from wood lathe), and original artwork. The hand made boat came from a student, we just hosted from Yap ( an island in Micronesia) who stayed with us until we moved her into her dorm at St Joseph University last month.IMG_4935 The small Cape May rowboat painting was one I did years ago while on our yearly vacation at the shore. The flag painting were ones that my daughter has done over the years. But the star fish painting is a new addition. While at Cape May this summer, she had an opportunity to take a painting class with the artist in residence, Carol King Hood, at the Willow Creek Winery. ( If you ever vacation in  Cape May, NJ, it’s a great place to stop for wine tasting, a tour or check out the many events that the winery has scheduled.)
imageYou see, you can add  a seasonal flavor to your home with items you have, your kids art and even stuff you pick up on the side of the road!  Now let your mind wander to turning leaves, pumpkins, hay rides. Get inspired by shop window displays or get lost in Pinterest. Then begin looking around your house, or outside, for items you may already have to create  your fall decor.  Happy hunting!IMG_4944

Enjoy your Labor Day off!


It’s Just been a Peachy August!

A few years ago we planted a small peach tree as part of our efforts to “live off the land” ( or at least do a little food shopping i n our own backyard). Well this summer the tree took off and began producing an abundance of peaches! I prayed that they would ripen to be juicy and sweet and not just food for the birds and squirrels.


I’m pleased to say that my prayers were answered…seven-fold!



We’ve been happily  picking peaches through most of August. Here’s my daughter, Maura, picking with a bag over her hand. When you grow organically there may be a bug or a spider here and there!


Here’s my husband hiding.


… picking …. and picking









I’ve made peach cobbler for a family barbeque, peach upside-down cake for dessert for an end of summer dinner with friends as well as peach smoothies for my daughter after her wisdom teeth were taken out. Each day we have cut up peaches over cereal and over vanilla yogurt. This week I think I’ll try a recipe that calls for grilled peaches! Friends and neighbors have also shared in our abundance.

The few little ones that were left on the tree have now been gobbled up by the squirrels. The remains of their feasts are all around our yard. Who knows, maybe another peach tree will pot up in our future!

Because my mind always drifts back to decorating, I started thinking about the color peach. When I was first married ( here I am dating myself), peach and seafoam green were the hot colors. Peach has come a long way since the late 80’s!

I love the soft peach back drop in this mostly monochromatic living room.


Peach can be very calming and sophisticated when matched with grey-blues.


A touch of peach, here in a dramatic mirror, goes a long way.


Talk about eye-catching… love this combination.


Peach floral is a nice way to bring some of mother nature inside.





Like peach season, summer is starting to wind down. My daughter starts school tomorrow and fall will be here before we know it. Thankfully, peach season and summer will return again next year!



It’s been peachy,




Welcome to My Folksy Home’s Blog!

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I love what I do! Sometimes I can’t believe I get paid to do what I love…thrift shopping, painting vintage furniture in fun colors, spending an afternoon at my sewing machine, looking for the perfect color for a client’s room… For the longest time I’ve been asked, “Fran, why don’t write a blog, detailing all the interesting ( and crazy) projects  that you’re always doing?” The problem is I’d rather being DOING the projects instead of writing about them. So setting up this website/blog and writing my story took time and work and ALOT of it!

Writing the stories about my journey and the process of remodeling my home forced me to think about that time, some of which was very difficult. What was tougher was the technical parts of setting up a blog and then choosing from so many cool templates…then so many font choices…. Any way I finally made it! It’s going to require some further tweaking, but as you can see I’m pulling out my hair. So it’s finally time to bite the bullet and just hit “publish.”

I need to go back to something more calming … like sanding a sideboard or rearranging furniture.