This was an exciting project, designing interiors for the key rooms in Ellen and Herb’s new home purchase. My task was to make it truly their home, merging some of what they had with a lot of new furnishings and accessories. They are very happy with the results. So much so that I arranged an interview with Ellen, and then a brief interview with me, about the project, as well, along with some photos of the rooms I designed.

What did you want to achieve for your spaces?

I didn’t really know when I started. My husband and I downsized houses to a smaller space. It was not only smaller it was very different than the previous house. Unlike our old place, our new home has very tall ceilings and open spaces. It has large windows at the rear of the house facing the lake. I just knew that my collection of more traditional furniture would not work in the new home.

What drew you to hiring Carmen?

I already knew Carmen from our Jazzercise Center. I had talked to her about her family, read some of her sister’s books, and felt comfortable in her presence. She has a great sense of humor. I’ve worked with decorators in the past that my husband didn’t get along with but that was never the case with Carmen (even though he is a Seminole and she is a Gator).

Talk about the end result.

When we set our moving date from our Winter Park house we had very little time to think about what we’d need in a new home. We hadn’t purchased a new one yet so I was panicky. My husband and I had to temporarily move to an apartment and so I had this house full of stuff but didn’t know what I wanted to bring with me. We had an estate sale and got rid of a lot but we still stored so much stuff (at great expense) for 3 months. In the end, we gave away or sold much of our old stuff. If I had it to do over I would have contracted with Carmen before we sold our home. It would have undoubtedly saved us money in furniture storage fees.

At the time of my first meeting with Carmen, we had placed a contract on our new home. Although we loved the new place I was nervous about where to start and what to do to pull it together. I felt a big weight come off my shoulders after our first meeting, as she explained her process and fee structure. I liked that it wasn’t overwhelming to me because she would select just a few carpet samples, kitchen tile samples, pillow fabrics, or rugs and I would pick from those few. If I didn’t like any of the selections she would find some different choices for me to review. For budget purposes, we worked on the master bedroom, kitchen, and living room first and then moved to other areas.

I worked with Carmen on rooms in most of the house with the exception of my office and my husband’s office. Our home is now so relaxing, comfortable, clutter-free, and beautiful. The look she created takes advantage of the big windows and the lake view with a theme of “Coastal”. We already had some art from our former Sarasota condo so she was able to suggest placement for some of those pieces to enhance the Coastal look. I had an heirloom fern stand that I wanted to keep and she contacted a painter to give it a new look. She suggested that a few of the items we didn’t use from our old place could be sold at a consignment store.

What was the biggest surprise – or delight – from living in the newly-designed spaces?

Every day when I wake up, when I move l from the bedroom to the kitchen, living/dining room area I say “WOW! This is my house!” It still surprises me. My husband, Herb says, “Nice place you’ve got here El.” We haven’t had scads of guests this year because of COVID but the ones we have had are truly delighted and impressed at the end product.

Carmen Discusses Designing New Home Interiors for the Heron Drive Project

So then I was interviewed for my thoughts and inspiration on the project. I discuss a few things that guided my thinking.

What did the home suggest to you at first viewing, first impression?

Well, it was definitely more of a coastal casual home, it has a beautiful view of a lake. My client, Ellen, wanted a change from her last home, which was more traditional, and wanted this home to have a totally different look.

Did you develop an overarching or foundational creative inspiration? (was there a particular kind of inspiration or vision that guided you throughout the process)

The inspiration came from the great view they had of the lake. The exterior facade also had a coastal look to it with the exterior paint color of the house and front deck. Nice high ceilings and a clean palette to work with.

Was there a big “Aha!” moment during the project?

Incorporating 2 pieces of photography artwork for the sunroom, was an “Aha” moment. It was photography artwork that they purchased from a local artist that lives by the lake. The artist captured beautiful images of the lake, so we had them produced and framed appropriately for the room.

Do you have a favorite space in the home? Something you particularly responded to?

I LOVED all of the rooms!

If you think you’d like to explore a “coastal casual” look for your home, or have been wanting to fall in love with your home again, just reach out to me, that’s what I’m here for! Here’s a link to a House Beautiful article on the coastal design style, which gives a good little synopsis of the general approach. And if anything you’ve seen here creatively inspires you, please let me know and I can consult with you on how to make your spaces perfect. Just message me here, right below this blog post or click this “contact” link, or you can email me at: And, of course, you can call me anytime at (407) 743-2399.