But Pam, trained as a set designer, was unruffled. She knew minor adjustments could yield dramatic effects. She relied on three foolproof methods to renovate the house:
1.Use satin and glossy paints, which are easier to maintain than flat or eggshell. The shinier finishes clean up easily and reflect more light.
2.Mirrors pop light into a room and wake up dead space. They also add new vantage points. You can have mirrors cut to fit at hardware and home-improvement stores—smaller ones can be attached to surfaces with glue or double-stick tape.
3.Keep seating heights the same—you don't want some people positioned higher than others.
In the kitchen, a square butcher-block counter anchors the skylit room. Comfortable woven leather stools by Henry Beguelin surround it. A samovar from Iran, Pam's native country, sits on top of an old Wedgewood gas stove
Pam blended interiors and exteriors and combined modern styles with vintage fixtures. In the bathroom, green trim connects house to garden, while black paint on the claw-footed tub's underside modernizes the vintage fixture
A sofa designed by Pam's company, Commune, sits below an ingenious gallery wall: Wood slats allow for easy rearrangement of the art, all of which is hung with "S" hooks
2.Bringing Nature Inside-
For Kimberly Dellamonica, a perfect house is one that's "tropical, tranquil, luxurious and really inviting—I want people to feel comfortable as soon as they walk in the door." Mission accomplished, says Nate. "This place is like a sanctuary, a Zen retreat."
When Kimberly and her husband, Mark, began renovating their lagoon-front condo near San Francisco, she took her cues from her favorite holiday destinations: Southeast Asia, which she frequented in her 10 years as a flight attendant, and Mexican resorts such as Las Ventanas al Paraíso and Esperanza, both in Cabo San Lucas.
"I love the beach lifestyle," Kimberly explains. "So I told my husband, 'Let's just do it in our house.'"
Nate surprised winner Kimberly Dellamonica with an orchid, which fits perfectly in her tropical-themed home.
3.Home Swiss Home
Scattered throughout the house, these flea-market flower paintings might come across as mere kitsch. But grouped together, they make a strong graphic statement. Kirsten propped the paintings loosely atop two Ikea floating shelves to let guests know that she knows the pictures are more about fun than fine art.
4.Mix and Match in Beverly HillsRewind to 2005, when Jenn left New York to be with her fiancé, Todd, in Los Angeles. The couple bought a run-down condo in Beverly Hills, enabling Jenn—who had lived in rentals all her life—to finally realize her dream of renovating a home from top to bottom. She wanted to fix up the place before they moved in, so she gave herself a 30-day deadline. "I work best under pressure," she says. And she got to it, hiring a crew to lay new ebony-stained hardwood floors and repaint every surface of the apartment.
Each weekend, she'd scour the city's flea markets in search of hidden treasures, snagging a Buddha head sculpture on one visit, more glass decanters the next. "No one believes that the stuff in our house is from flea markets," Jenn says. "But I see potential in everything."
The bench at the foot of her bed is a reupholstered flea market score. She found the pillows at Target and Restoration Hardware.
Jenn cut a dozen flower photographs out of a book and hung them in identical frames to create a larger composition.
Nate admires Jenn's gutsy mix-and-match, high-low approach. "These rooms look like they were assembled over time," he says. "You can't create a house like this in a day." But if you're Jenn Feldman, you can—somewhat miraculously, and with much gusto—do it in a month.