Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
2:20 am EDT
Wed, July 15, 2020

Reviving A Happy Home

When a home becomes a family’s space in the universe, there’s really no reason to leave it—just make it better. Add the room needed for the new baby. Turn the married child’s room into a library. Update the foyer with a new light fixture. Find a new color to live in. Make it safer, stronger, more beautiful, but keep traveling the same road to home.

Story: Leigh Neely, James Combs, Theresa Campbell, Debbi Kiddy




In today’s home, the kitchen known as the “heartbeat” of the home, where family members and friends often gather for great food and warm conversation. The need to remodel usually has three main reasons: to add comfort and beauty, to add functionality through space and updating, or for resale value. Renovating a kitchen can provide as much as 85 percent return on your payout.

Ivy Irizarry, designer for Clermont Kitchen and Bath, says the kitchen is one of the first rooms a homebuyer view. “Current trends in kitchens are white-on-white natural looks. White or gray cabinets, with white, marble quartz are popular. The “distressed” look—for both cabinets and flooring—is also trending.”

If your kitchen is in need of general updating, or a major overhaul, here are some tips:

Paint: Remodelers agree painting walls is an easy and inexpensive way to update a kitchen. Popular colors include yellow, red, blue, white, green and gray. Once you select your favorite color, getting the right finish is essential. Because the kitchen often needs constant cleaning, a satin or semi-gloss finish is the best option. Satin finishes stand up well to dirt, stains, and mildew and clean easily.

Functionality: Manufacturers are trending toward hydraulic, multi-tiered drawers with easy-close doors to help add space and usage with the touch of a button.

Automation and Technology: Futuristic trends are here today—even in the kitchen. From meat thermometers that alert your smartphone when dinner is ready, to sensor-activated, energy-saving lights, or hands-free faucets, innovative kitchen technology will make your life easier.

Upgrading Appliances: Besides paint, the most popular kitchen update is energy-efficient appliances. Modern cooks enjoy duel-fuel ranges with double convection ovens as well as water-saving paneled dishwashers to make clean-up easier—and look good, too.

Flooring: Stunning flooring adds beauty and durability. Tiles with the luster and appearance of hardwood are very popular, and they can stand up to the wear and tear most kitchen floors get. It adds to the beauty of your new kitchen, as well as durability. Rustic, or distressed flooring is also becoming popular.




Home automation has become better and less expensive as electronics have improved. You can monitor everything from your smartphone or tablet. This will serve the gadget lovers as well as seasonal visitors.

AppleTV: Connects to all your Apple devices and apps so you can control everything with one device.

Wireless speakers: Listen to your favorites anywhere from the kitchen to poolside. They can be connected to your router, linked wirelessly, and you’re ready to go. There are also the portable speakers that can go to the beach or outdoor pavilion so you’re never without your favorite music. Kohler even has a Bluetooth-enabled speaker in its Moxie showerhead that holds a charge for up to seven hours.

Nest Thermostat: A thinking thermostat that learns your schedule and programs itself or can be controlled by your phone. It knows the temps you prefer, is red when in heating mode and blue when cooling, and saves you up to 20 percent on heating/cooling bills. Best part: so easy to install most anyone can do it.

Throw Out the 16 Remotes: Put your remote on your iPhone or iPad and control TV, Blu-Ray player, dim lights, play DVDs. It’s cool, but it does need to be programmed by an authorized dealer, which means it will definitely work correctly.

Electronic Locks: No worries about losing or misplacing keys. Now doors can be opened with a code or using your smartphone. You can even let people in when you’re away from home and they arrive early. Some locks also do amazing things like sending you a text when kids get home from school.

Video doorbells: Never worry about who’s ringing the doorbell when you can pick up your smartphone and see the person at your door. You can view the visitor even when you’re away from home.

Security cameras: Keeping an eye on your property is no longer just for the rich and famous. Video cameras that connect to your home computer and can be easily installed are now available. They also record, which means video evidence, which is often accepted in court cases.

Hot from the Cold: Though they’re more expensive, you can now get refrigerators that dispense hot water along with the cold.

Charge it: Leviton has a 20-amp USB Charger Receptacle (looks like a regular outlet), which charges your many electronic devices, leaving electrical outlets available for little things like blenders, toasters, or even lamps.




There are multiple reasons why homeowners remodel bathrooms.

It can improve the home’s comfort level, add to its overall beauty, and increase resale value.

Beatriz Taylor is owner of Clermont Kitchen and Bath Design. She says one of the most popular trends in bathroom remodeling is frameless, glass shower enclosures.

With frameless shower doors, there are fewer places water can collect and mold can grow in the shower. Conversely, traditional framed shower doors typically lead to water build-up underneath the door’s seals, resulting in the formation of mold and mildew.

“Frameless shower doors are very easy to clean; you only need to do a simple wipe then squeegee,” she says. “These doors are also aesthetically pleasing because they create a more open space and makes your shower feel bigger than it really is.”

Another growing trend is the addition of quartz countertops. Yes, that’s right. Quartz countertops in the bathroom. Just because the bathroom is a place where people shave, brush, their teeth, and it doesn’t mean it cannot be a luxurious haven.

“One of the great things about quartz is that it has the look of natural stone but also the durability of materials such as porcelain to stand up to everything a bathroom faces,” Beatriz says. “Another great thing about quartz is that it is typically one solid color, which is an advantage for homeowners trying to create an open, clean look in their bathroom.”


Remodel or Renovation

Before doing any extensive work to your home such as an addition or complete renovation, be sure to see if you need a permit for the work. The officers where you inquire about permits are available online from Lake County at and from Sumter County at

Both Lake and Sumter counties offer extensive information about permits on their respective websites.

When thinking about renovation, keep in mind these numbers for Best Renovation Return on Investment:

  • 101.8% for new steel front door
  • 91% for new fireplace
  • 85% for kitchen remodel
  • 83% for attic into bedroom
  • 77% for window replacement
  • 55% for upscale garage addition
  • 50% for home office remodel
  • 48.5% for new sunroom addition
  • 40% for master suite addition
Source: RSI Media



Outdoor Entertainment

Creating outdoor entertaining areas or even fun play spaces for children doesn’t have to break the bank.

There are numerous innovative and imaginative ideas on Pinterest to inspire creativity, such as building small bridges, a multi-level deck for a kiddie pool, and even a teepee playhouse from wood pallets.

Ro-Mac Lumber and Supply Inc., 700 Main St., Leesburg, often has a supply of free pallets available to the public, according to Rebecca Ballash of Ro-Mac, and they can be found on the the west end of the parking lot.

The company also has wood that can be used for a wide array of do-it-yourself projects.

Here are some ideas Lake and Sumter Style readers may want to consider in creating outdoor entertainment or play areas around their home in 2017: 

  • Make a mosaic hopscotch
  • Create a large yard chess game
  • Design a chalkboard on a fence
  • Create an outdoor music wall
  • Paint rocks with colorful letters of the alphabet
  • Embed a slide into the landscape to create hill slide
  • Make a backyard race car track design with cement
  • Turn tires into swings
  • Bring life to a dead tree by turning it into a fort
  • Repurpose an old sink into an outdoor play kitchen area
  • Establish low-maintenance gardens with drought-resistant plants
  • Create the soothing sound of water in self-contained systems, ranging from urns, fountains, to high-end water walls
  • Plant blended gardens that include edibles and ornamentals. Gardens with fruit, vegetables, and herbs can be an alternative to turf grass.
  • For some families, chickens or bees are part of their outdoor landscape, including Steve Knowles family of Leesburg. They have a decorative chicken coop behind their Palmora Park home.
  • The addition of pergolas or arbors can create a sense of privacy.
  • Consider having more rooms of the home open to the yard rather than one or two rooms.
  • Expand outdoor living space with small hibachi or full-sized kitchens.




Perhaps the easiest and least-expensive way to update the interior of your home is with paint.

The blah days of winter often bring a need to change your home décor. Are you looking for a brighter room that looks larger or do you want a warm, cozy feeling to the room? Whatever you’re wanting, the color is available is a multitude of shades and tones.

Choosing the right color for a room can be one of the biggest challenges. There are so many colors available that it makes the task seem overwhelming. Overall trends for 2017 might be a good place to start. They’re running toward dusky blues, shades of gray, pastel greens, blue, yellow, pink, and taupe.

Leah Conner, owner of Leah D. Conner Interior Design in Leesburg, offers this advice. “Paint is a reasonably inexpensive way to make a big impact,” she says. “When the right colors are chosen, that impact can be very positive.”

Trim work in the room can be monochromatic, which hides flaws, or lighter or darker than the wall color, which accentuates moldings. Leah recommends moving two shades away if you want to use different shades of the same color, adding, “Lighting in a room changes the way each color looks and often the same shade can look different in another room.”

It’s important to keep in mind the way colors affect a room or space. You may want to avoid colors that are too dark in a small space. “This can make a room seem smaller,” Leah says. “Sometimes with paint, it’s best to keep it simple. Don’t mix too many colors.”

Recommendations come from the International Housewares Association for 2017

Day Dreaming: Yellow Iris and a Nile green, are used to expand on the blue and pink.

At Ease: Neutrals, both cool and warm, blended with muted tones.

Native Instincts: Smoky Orchid and a Carmine Red along with softer earth tones.

Florabundant: Pink yarrow, chrysanthemum, red dahlia, Baton Rouge, and varying shades of green.

Acquired Taste: Orange chiffon, pale gold, mulberry, brandied melon, dove gray, and a muted pink.

Forest Bathing: Several shades of green and blue-green, which are contrasted by Grape Kiss and refreshing Acid Lime.

Reminiscence: Maritime Blue, Sepia Tint and rattan and mix of new colors like Murky Martini Olive and Bird’s Egg Green.

Raw Materials: Zephyr Pink popping among the many neutral tones.

Graphic Imprints: A base of black and white then pulling blazing yellow, dazzling blue, Prism Pink, Fandango Pink, Opaline Green, and Orange Popsicle.




The ambiance of lighting sets the mood of a home, and it can be key in entertaining or when placing a house on the real estate market.

Realtors often turn on lights in showing homes for a reason—to make a house glow and project warmth.

“Lighting is the jewel of your home. It’s what decorates your home, and it can add a style and add more value to your home,” says Kim Michaels of Besco Electric Supply and Lighting Center in Leesburg.

While showing an array of the latest in lighting styles—including an orb over candlelight fixture with crystals and mini crystal chandeliers that are becoming popular in women’s closets for a little bling—Kim believes a home has more appeal with stunning lighting fixtures over those that are mediocre.

Aly Prill of Babette’s Furniture and Home says adding additional lighting to overhead fixtures, such as buffet table lamps, projects a nice ambiance. Among the new 2017 trends are distress lamps, lighting made of oyster shells for an organic look, and ceramic-based lamps in colors of turquoise and denim blues.

“Anything coastal is just a timeless look,” Aly says. “Our clients from up north have a second home down here, or they are permanently moving down here and they want a lighter look—a Florida look.”

Here are other ways to create a tranquil ambiance and peaceful atmosphere with lights: 

  • Twinkling accent lighting in walkways
  • Wall sconces
  • Lights strung through trees; lights around umbrella of outdoor dining table
  • LED lights that are programmable or low-voltage lights
  • Ground light fixtures
  • Accent lights installed higher up and directed downward to simulate moonlight
  • Pool lights
  • Brightly colored Chinese lanterns
  • Sheer globe lights
  • Lantern table lights
  • Hanging paper origami lanterns with battery-powered lights
  • Tiki torches
  • Floating candles with large bowl or vase filled with water



Curb Appeal

There’s an old saying about older women and makeup, “Any old barn looks better with a little paint.” Though that’s an insult and may provoke a woman to violence, it’s worth remembering when you’re thinking about giving your home some great curb appeal.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, a whopping 83 percent of homebuyers begin their search for a new home online. As many as 63 percent will drop by to see a house in person if they like what they see in online photos.

“First impressions are everything,” says Lena Williams of Morris Realty and Investments. “Without curb appeal, you may end up on the market longer than you would like!”

The elements of curb appeal include the front, side, and back yards, the driveway, garage doors, shutters, windows, sidewalks, and landscaping. You may also want to add new house numbers that can be clearly seen from the road so there’s no problem finding your house.

To begin the process of giving your home a nicer curb appeal, examine it closely thinking like a homebuyer. Chances are, you’ll immediately begin to see the little things you’ve overlooked because you’re passing them every day and accustomed to the flaws.

“When trying to sell, start with sprucing up the outside. From the first photo showing the exterior, to the buyer driving by to check it out before choosing whether to go inside, it all starts with curb appeal,” Lena says.

The popular TV show, “This Old House” offers these tips:

  • Clean up your yard
  • Put fresh plants in containers or hanging baskets
  • Add drought-resistant plants to the landscape or plant an ornamental tree
  • Get a new lamppost or mailbox if yours looks worn or outdated
  • Replace outdoor lighting if needed
  • Make sure all sprinklers are working
  • Repair fencing

Then again, if you’re one of those people who enjoys yard work and keeps the outside as neat as the inside, you may just need to paint the exterior and add new plants for a colorful flourish. One thing to keep in mind: many home owners associations have rules about exterior painting. Be sure to check this before making a color change.

Leah D. Conner Interior Design suggests picking a paint color should be done carefully. “One of the biggest points I’d love to pass along when it comes to exterior paint, for both residential and commercial buildings, is to paint a few samples in several different locations prior to making a final decision on color and shade,” Leah says. “Don’t make a decision based on two-inch by two-inch color swatch from a paint store.”

Paint nearly always looks different on the house’s surface than it does on the paint sample. You may always want to paint the front door and shutters with contrasting colors.

Another simple way to add decoration to the exterior of your home is adding decorative handles or accents to garage doors. Find attractive ways to hide yard items like putting your garden hose in a bench with storage or in a decorative pot.

Make a good first impression with homebuyers by adding a “little paint to the old barn.”