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My Studio Renovation; Before & After

By 12/22/2020July 31st, 202331 Comments

2020 wasn’t the year any of us expected. In this moment there is no question that our lives (and more specifically, our homes) are forever changed by this event.

It’s likely that spending more time at your own home this year has given you new insight into your intimate and not-so-intimate (hello zoom backgrounds) spaces. So, I thought it would be interesting to start a discussion on how your perspective of home has changed during this pandemic.

This photo shoot was taken before I learned never to wear colour with solid black

If these walls could talk…

I’d love to know what design changes you would make to your home now that you are living through this unprecedented event (and raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing the word unprecedented?) Nothing about this year has been normal – but I’d like to reflect on how it has impacted life inside your four walls? 

Speaking of walls… to those of you living in an open concept home, maybe you’re tired of overhearing work calls and virtual school?  Would you give up an open layout for more divided rooms? 

Does your home already have a dedicated office? Did you have to share it with a spouse or kids? Would you add another office or turn that backyard she-shed into a home office instead?

In nearly all of the paint colour of the year launches, the word “sanctuary” seemed to be underscored in every launch. Did your home provide you comfort or serve as a constant reminder of what it was lacking?

Were you lucky enough to have an outdoor space to enjoy? Or, has it increased in priority for 2021? What other amenities are you thinking of adding at home?

Did your home have enough pantry space for stocking up on all that toilet paper and hand sanitizer? Or, did you have to reimagine your bulk storage areas?

Maybe, just maybe, you are feeling more grateful than ever for your house, now that you’ve developed a more intimate relationship with it? I’d love to hear from you too. What is working for you? What would you do again in another home post-pandemic?

How our homes will adapt post-pandemic

3 Common Themes:

Home Office / Remote Learning Space / Multi-Use Rooms are a necessity

Priority of Wellness and Hygiene / Focus on Entryways or Mudrooms, Bathrooms, Kitchens

Bring Nature Inside / Priority of Outdoor Spaces and at-home Amenities (pools, movie rooms)

I also renovated the studio in my backyard so that it would be a much better and more functional space for video!

Styling Shelves for Zoom Calls

This is my new corner office:

I styled the shelf behind me specifically for Zoom calls:

This is Kelly’s desk. Waiting for her in the new year when she comes back from maternity leave:

This is where my rebounder currently sits when I’m not bouncing on it 🙂 (above)

This is the coffee & tea station:

I moved my living room rug in here, but it’s temporary. You can see I’m mildly obsessed with flowers!

I’m so happy to have a space to store all my large painted colour samples!

I still have a fabulous lamp coming that will replace the little one currently on the credenza. 

But now it’s a much better space for videos! 

Over to you my lovelies! Please let me know how you’ve changed or will change your home going forward:

Terreeia and I wish you a very Happy Holiday and a much better 2021! We’re all in this together! I so appreciate your love and support, this blog is what it is because of you!

Related posts:

Our Annual Holiday Party; Merry Christmas

Happy Christmas in New York; With my Mom

Holiday Tour of my House 2017

208 pins


  • Mary Anne says:

    Glad you got a great pic of you two in the snow! ❤️
    Wishing you and all your family the very best this season and always!
    Thank you for all the informative and fun emails/stories/reels!

  • Lynne says:

    Merry Christmas, Maria and Terreeia ❤️

    I remember seeing a meme a few years back that said “Make your home a place you don’t need a vacation from”. That really resonated with me and it became what I aspired my home to be. Well, this year has affirmed that I succeeded. I have a wrap-around garden with trees that I planted when I moved in 5 years ago, so they are now maturing and full of bird life. And inside the renovations we did to open up spaces and choosing a soft colour palette is very calming. I have in some ways been lucky to be an essential worker so lockdowns have not applied to me and I have continued to go to work each day. But being able to return to a home that has become a sanctuary from the madness has been a true blessing.

    • Viv says:

      Merry Christmas! Your changes look lovely. We renovated before we both retired a few years back. We have a great outdoor space with a lovely fireplace, ample two person office space, a craft room, some separate, if needed, TV-watching spaces but didn’t think of a home gym. We now have a weight rack in our upstairs hallway and move our living room chairs to throw down some yoga mats for Zoom training! Need to carve off some of the basement craft room space but the ceiling might be a bit low for an overhead press. Bench? Who would have thought we would be enjoying working out at home?

  • Alexandria C says:

    I’m happy to have sought your assistance last year with updating my open concept and having finished painting Nov 2019. I look around and think about how I would have been tortured the past months staring at a color I hated all day every day if I hadn’t! LOL. Having an active 1yr old, a 6yr old doing virtual school, a husband who’s an essential worker and myself having to work full time at home, the open concept has been such a life saver. At times difficult of course but being able to have eyes on everyone while having to work has helped tremendously. Being home took time to get used to in the beginning but I’m so comfortable being here now that I don’t want to leave! I have put so much of your advice into each room and every space feels just right. Your blog is definitely my go-to guide and I tell so many people about it!! Merry Christmas!

  • Cindy says:

    If not flowers, then what?

    One of the things I love about Christmas is that my home looks so happy, which of course makes me happy too! I love flowers, but flowers is not a them in my house currently. I seem to gravitate towards animals…..birds, livestock, etc. It was the way I brought color back to my overly gray house. I tend to be a monotone person when it comes to buying furniture. Not sure when that happened. I haven’t always been that way. 🙁

    So since flowers provides so much color and life in your space, what would you use instead of flowers. Maybe I should start trying them in small amounts. (I love flowers in the garden. Not sure why I haven’t brought them inside).

    Merry Christmas. I love your blog.

  • Sandy says:

    Merry Christmas Maria and Terreeia! We have been blessed by your love and I wish you both much joy and peace for the season and for the years to come. Sandy

  • Martha says:

    I am always thrilled with your advise I would reframe some of my important art and rearrange. I did have wooden look tile installed and it’s marvelous. I have ordered new sofa, storage ottoman and chair. Added container store closet to one last closet. Gave away a desk. I find another solution.

  • Merry Christmas, Maria & Terreeia!
    When I attend your class in Orlando last November we were just finishing up a full gut reno on our new-to-us home. I used gorgeous Schumacher wallpaper and fabric in my office. This is what my clients see when we Zoom. I am so happy I made my office beautiful for me because others get to enjoy it as well 😀.

  • Marguerite says:

    Your workspace looks so nice to spend time in doing work you love. Its so lovely and INSPIRING! Getting to work on more decluttering. I LOVE the dark flower painting on the credenza. Where did you get it? It reminds me of some beautiful wall paper, but its not overwhelming, its just enough. Can you please share the source? thank you

  • Maggie S says:

    Wishing you and Terreeia the merriest of Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

  • Karen says:

    The lovely portrait of you and Terreeia is a Christmas gift to all of us. I wish you a joyful holiday and continued optimism for 2021!

  • Angela says:

    We moved house yet again this year, and have an open concept with a corner fireplace. Had the main living spaces painted a neutral colour but have deliberated on having an accent wall, could use your advice here ,so will be in touch. Got rid of a lot of stuff in the process, and have a less cluttered home. Other than that we are enjoying the extra space, and making our home a sanctuary:)
    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to You & Terreeia

  • Kay says:

    Since renovating our house in 2013, after I had retired, I am happy in it all the time. We pushed out the back and expanded the stone flagged patio, which is now amply sized for all our needs. And our back garden is so beautiful that even workmen looking into it from their labors comment on it. It is a true refuge from the insanity of the world. My husband and I look around it and marvel that God has been so good to us. We watched four bird families being raised last summer, each a different species.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Amy says:

    Outdoor spaces, YES! I’m working on getting started with Maryann White to redesign our entire front and backyards! I am lucky enough to have a home office, but I also was home alone with two small kids all day everyday, so trying to work uninterrupted (especially during Skype/Zoom/MS Teams meetings) turned into a joke. Being homebound, though, did light a fire for my husband and I to really start moving toward a major remodel in 2021!

  • Dee says:

    Nice updates to your space. I would keep your floor lamp. It’s perfect for your space, both the color and style. But I understand how sometimes a change makes the heart merry. Throw it in a box and ship to me. Knowing how you like to share;) I’ll take it, lol!!

    Merry Christmas

  • Jennifer Milo says:

    Hi Maria! Merry Christmas to you and Terrieea too!! Hey, can you please share the source of the tall cabinets in your office?

    • Cindi says:

      Lovely sideboard! Where is it from?
      Did you add the molding to the ceiling? I did a similar thing in my Hawaii home and it makes such a huge difference. Yours just gave me an idea for my new build.
      Happy New Year!

  • Lorri says:

    Maria, your office space looks pretty and more comfortable and functional now!

    I’m not a fan of open-concept houses overall, except having living and dining space together is fine. It didn’t take a pandemic to tell me this because I’ve worked at home for ages.

    Merry Christmas to you and Terreeia!

  • Betty Monson says:

    So many of your followers are mature and have downsized. They are looking to modify their homes for living in until “the end”, but still want it stylish, comfortabe and reflecting their zest for life. Also, doable on a budget. Please do some blogs on getting the backgrounds right so that small changes can give a new look, as having to hire professionals to do work impacts budgets tremendously. Yourmother’s recent project is classic example of exactly that!

  • Lucy says:

    Merry merry Christmas! First I want to tell you that you and Terreeia look happy and healthy in your snow picture. So proud of Terreeia’s determination to change her diet and become healthy! She certainly is a real trooper!

    Your office remodel is perfection. How I wish that I could have had that space to work out of instead of a cramped corner in a bedroom. Instead of bemoaning this terrible lock down we need to find the positive things that have occured. You certainly have made it an example.

    Thank you for all of your wisdom that you share so generously! Happy New Year!

  • Fiona says:

    We are currently adding two rooms and a wide verandah around our house for more outdoor living. One of the old rooms will become my new study/office – tips on making a good background for zoom calls, while working within the context of the whole space would be wonderful. We are also adding large French doors to access the verandah. And finally, we have a garden plan to make the exterior much more attractive to spend time in. Can’t wait.

  • Lilli says:

    We had only lived in our house for a year when the pandemic hit, and we discovered how much we loved it. We are a family of 7 and we hate open layouts – we want different spaces so everyone feels they have privacy if they want – and so were properly set up for quarantine living. The only changes we made were finishing the basement and adding a theater (thanks, Warner Brothers!) and redoing our tiny village backyard. My husband is a realtor and as soon as he could work again this spring, he was flooded with clients who discovered that they hated their open layout houses! Truly walls are the winner of the pandemic.

  • Diana Tremblay says:

    My home definitely became my “safe place” this year. So grateful to have a backyard – I would add more electrical outlets so I can move around my outdoor heater to extend outdoor visiting time. My dining room has become my office and line dancing studio, so an extension would be great. But tgat’s not going to happen so I am reorganizing and purging what I can to take advantage of every inch of space I have.

  • Doris says:

    Our renovations are on-going but my husband just retired so I hoe we can get them done this year so we can move on to other things. Still lots to do! We completed one project last year that made all the difference in this pandemic year. We reduced the size of our deck ( I hate staining) and added patio stone, a firepit area and a gazebo off the back of the house where we have terrific privacy and a lovely view. The timing couldn’t have been better! We have made great use of it all summer and I even had my family over on Christmas Eve for our annual Acadian meat pie dinner under the gazebo! A memorable event, for sure. Hot food and drinks seemed even tastier enjoyed outside in the fresh, crisp winter air. Mind you, it was a relatively mild December day for Nova Scotia so that helped. I definitely do not take my 4 acres of field, forest and brooks for granted. Nature and its sounds were soothing to the weary soul during these past many months. As for in the house, it’s small and we are always renovating since we bought it ten years ago. We removed an ugly brick fireplace and messy wood burning insert and replaced it with a Jotel propane stove inside a European looking surround that my husband built from my design. It is a very hygge spot now. As for the future, I find am cooking daily so would love more kitchen space ( a reno for another day). And we have learned that we need more pantry storage space as we are shopping less but buying more per trip. We have no need at this point for an office space but I was planning on turning one of the bedrooms into a crafting/ sewing room in order to get back into being creative with my time until our son had to return home to live with us after his training program got cut due to the pandemic. The spare room now stores things from his apartment until he he moves out again. After Christmas, I will continue to declutter and make this older, down-sized house as functional and well-designed as I can get it to be. Storage is at a premium! Home life matters and it has never been more apparent than in the last year. Merry Christmas, Ladies and may 2021 bring us all a healthier world. Always learning from you and appreciate all you share!

  • Nice Job Maria, (as always)
    It’s so fresh and pretty. I have to say I’ve been a little obsessed over looking over everyones shoulder while they are on zoom! I know most people were thrown into early in March, but by now they should have updated it! LOL
    Can you share the white you used on your walls? THANKS!

  • It is so interesting, how differently we are using our homes in this season! The hero had to move to working at home and completely took over a corner of the living room with his set-up; so we can both have “air space”, I am fixing up the basement guest area for my own work space.

    I love your coat in the picture! Is it possible it is still available?

  • Hi Maria! This past year I have been so thankful for our home. Thanks to your guidance on timeless and classic style, we have begun choosing things that will make us happy for years to come. Of course, I noticed things I’d love to change- lighter kitchen countertops, new carpeting, and a dedicated office space. We do have an outdoor patio and fireplace so that has been wonderful. Have been wanting to add some warm blue and green colors in our accessories for a fresh look. Always love seeing your posts. Happy New Year!

  • Robyn Heath says:

    Hi Maris,
    I love your personal posts and have saved the one on over giving as it is my problem too.
    All of my family live in another state and our borders have been closed so I have taken the opportunity to have virtual dinner parties by skype with a themed cuisine style once a month. This has been fun as we have set our table decor to the theme and discussed our menus.
    Hope this is useful

  • Maria,
    I’ve loved your blog for years! Your studio looks fantastic. Thank you for sharing so much about your life, home and story.

  • Keira says:

    I love your studio, Maria. Do your boards develop a curve while sitting on the rails?

  • Vicki Maiorano says:

    I don’t know if you read comments on old posts, however I just want to comment on your outfit. It looks fabulous on you. The black is being picked up by your jewelry and also by your glasses. Your top is more a neutral peach rather than full on colour and relates lovely to your skin and lipstick. Overall a great outfit.

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