Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Home with Karen Sealy

Karen Sealy maybe new to HGTV but you've definitely seen her work at Cityline!  You can check out some of Karent's projects and tips at Sealy Design Inc. under "videos".

Summer Home is a new design series on HGTV premiered in June and after the first episode, I was in love!  I love Karen's warm and easy-going personality and the creative ideas she shared with us on her shows.  In case you've missed an episode, here is my recap for the first 5!

Episode 1: Bunkie (a.k.a. Snug)

This bunkie sits right next to the water and if you are looking for design inspiration, why not taking cue from Mother Nature!   The nautical scheme is perfect for the Snug, while the furnishings/finishes such as the pull-out couch and the wood look-a-like vinyl flooring are both practical and beautiful for cottage living.

I love the red in the blue/white/sand scheme.  It added the punch of color and energy in the room.  I'm totally doing using red as accent in my next project.   

With a limited budget, Karen gave us the wow factor in the living zone by installing the wallpaper on a feature wall and only above the chair rail.  I love how the wallpaper almost looked like art work as it was actually "framed" with trims.  It was such an ingenious idea to install off-the-shelve glass door as full height window ... you get the look for a fraction of the cost.  Not to mention this also freed up space for a causal dining zone! 

Karen also re-defined the sleeping zones by moving an interior wall slightly and relocated a small window to the living zone.  Here is the peaceful retreat and the inviting exterior of the Snug.

As I always say, a floor plan is worth a million buck! Here is the before and after for your future reference:

Episode 2: Big Family, Big Kitchen

This growing family is on top of each other to prep meals in the kitchen and running out of seats in the dining room.  Here is the original floor plan.

By taking out two interior walls separating the dining and kitchen areas, Karen created an open concept cooking/dining experience for the family, not to mention that gigantic island for added storage and prep surface.

This kitchen is about save vs. splurge.  To save, Karen selected maple instead cherry for the cabinetry, porcelain backsplash over stone, and installed DIY vintage glass containers as pendants.  

To splurge, Karen selected Caesar Stone in neutral palette: a heat, scratch, and stain resistance surface that can withstand the "abuse" when the family cook up a feast and still be pleasing to the eye.

Karen also designed a custom harvest table with old pine boards on the removed walls.  Love how attentive Karen was in preserving the heritage and sentimental value of the cottage.

Episode 3: Cape Cod Cozy

This lakeside cottage has great bones but in needs of TLCs.  Karen came to the rescue and gave this family of five a fantastic living room, gourmet kitchen, and a timeless bedroom for the three girls!

See the panelled effect on the wall? Not only did they add character and charm to the space, they also disguised the separating wallpaper seams previously on the walls.

The simple fireplace insert and painted MDF mantel draw your eyes right into the living room the moment you enter the cottage.  Large window dressed by watery blue drapes framed the breaktaking view: a priceless art work perfect for any room.  One tip to keep in mind when installing a fireplace: don't just place it at the centre of the wall, think about traffic flow and where it will be centred in the room.  So think about your furniture placement before finalizing the placement of your fireplace.

The kitchen looks brand new but it is not!  Karen painted the existing cabinet in light smokey blue and installed new butcher block counter top, undermount sink, and faucet.  Large scale subway tiles also gave the place a relaxed, timeless appeal.

To visually expand the space, Karen removed the upper cabinets above the peninsula and repurposed them for hiden and hanging storage at the entrance.  To give the family back the needed storage, Karen custom designed the floating shelves (made in butcher block as well for consistency) hanging from the ceiling by steel rods (perfect with the smokey blue cabinetry).

Now lets talk about the sleep quarter.  As requested by girls, the room must be cheerful and with touches of yellow.  How did Karen complete the task without leaving the room feeling juvenile?  The stripe wallpaper is calm and yet playful.  Fitting three girls in this small bedroom was also a tall order.  Karen used bunkbeds to maximize sleeping capacity and installed ocean-inspired wall scones for each of the girls.

Extra storage was built-in with the bed ... of course, girls will always need more closet space!  This bedroom will grow with the girls and be able to stand the test of time.

Episode 4: Lounge Lodge

This family of four lacks prep surface in the kitchen and Dad is short of a spot to write.  Here is how Karen improve the functionality of the spaces and pair contemporary elements with rustic cottage charm.

Stylish lighting were installed for ambience, while the low back pre-loved sectional sofa offered comfortable seating without obstructing the view.

To keep the budget on track, Karen repurposed the original upper cabinetry to create a peninsula for extra prep surface, storage, and causal dining.  A simple box frame was built to rise the cabinets to counter height.  New frosted glass upper cabinets were installed to tone down the pine and add a contemporary flair to the kitchen. 

Here is the before floor plan for our case study:

Here is after plan for entrance and living zone:

and here is the after plan for the kitchen:

Other tips from Karen from this episode:

(1) before buying vintage pieces, make sure they are solid and worthy for reupholstery
(2) when installing floating wall unit, keep in mind table height is 30", counter height is 36", and bar height is 42"
(3) use practical and less expensive fabric for larger areas and delicate/pricey fabrics as accents
(4) wax candle is your best friend when it comes to sticky drawers!

Episode 5: Great Room Greater

This project doesn't include structural changes but the transformation is equally remarkable.  Here is the plan:

By painting the entire space a warm white and installing vinyl flooring throughout, the great room is now airy and visually expanded its size.  The sectional sofa with durable cover in dark color is forgiving for sticky fingers, the linen drapery panels are UV resistent and "bud repellent", and the repurposed tv table is now the perfect coffee table!

The extended island provides more prep surface, seating, storage, and even a custom room for the microwave!  I love the shimmery mosaics on the backsplash: they almost look like mother of pearl to me!

Fireproof slates were installed to tie in to the antique bronze touches (lighting, knobs, pullls) throughout the spaces, while the river stone door mats now installed as wall covering and sea grass romans up the sea side/beach retreat design scheme.  

One trick to keep in mind when installing heavy river stone door mats is to install them on drywalls flat on the ground first and then put up the drywalls.  That way, you won't have to worry about the "tile" falling off the walls during installation. 

Here is my recap for the first five episodes of Summer Home.  Here is Karen showing ET Canada her very own cottage!

If you don't have a cottage but want to bring the "beachy oasis" into your own backyard, check out this Etalk segment for more advice from Karen.

If you've missed any of the recent episodes, Saturday July 9th is your chance to catch them again on HGTV Canada starting 9am!


  1. Love the show Karen does a great job.

  2. Totally! Can't wait to see the 2nd half of the show!