Behind The Scenes of The Ueno Home Photo Shoot

Having recently gone through my first home photo shoot with Kristyna Archer, I can confidently say it was fun, challenging, exhausting, creative and rewarding.  On one hand, I am relieved it’s over.  On the other, I want to go back and savour the moments that were caught on camera.  Yes, I know.  For someone who doesn’t have an obsession a passion for interior design and photography, you may think I am nuts. And that’s totally fine.  But the mere fact that I was able to merge the design of my house with a professional photographer gave me a little slice of heaven.  And so, while I patiently wait for the images to be edited and perfected, I am here to share with you some of the behind the scenes I snapped with my iPhone.

The Flower Prep

The Staging

Kristyna Working Her Magic

The Mess That Nobody Talks About
(and this was a FRACTION of what the mess actually was throughout the day!)

The Portraits Slash Outtakes 


Post Home Makeover: An Interview with the Homeowner

If there is one thing that working in corporate America for 12 years has taught me, it is that feedback is a gift.  And you should not only ask for it, but actually consider changes as a result of it.  Therefore, when I finished my first “extreme home makeover,” I actually couldn’t wait to get the feedback!  After putting so much time, energy, heart into a project, I really did want to grow and learn from this so it was critical that I reflect with Jennifer, the homeowner.  Check out our e-interview below as I wrap up my final post of the Hamilton Home Makeover (holding back tears…).  Oh and if you missed any of the before and after reveals, scroll all the way down the links are there for you to check them out!

AU:  On a scale from 1-10, 10 being the highest, how would you rate the overall makeover?  Feel free to elaborate!  

JH:  I would rate the entire project a 12.  The main reason for this was the EASE of making it happen (FOR ME that is!!!).   Ann, you asked me questions on how involved I wanted to be, how I would make decisions, etc.  I essentially told you that I would be overwhelmed going through a ton of fabrics, paint, etc so you always gave me 4 – 6 choices.   It was PERFECT and easy.   I knew after the day of “choosing”…paint colors, carpet and fabrics, that we had similar taste.   This was based on the process of elimination and me asking you after every “removal” if your top pick was still there.  Which it was in most cases!

The place is BEAUTIFUL…me, Chris, my nanny and my weekend babysitter all LOVE it!   Funny story.   My babysitter, who I’ve used a dozen times and is getting married next year said to me “I LOVE what you have done with the place….would you ever help me decorate my apartment?”   The look on her face when I said “NO” was priceless.  I then of course proceeded to tell her that I had absolutely nothing to do with the phenomenal-ness (I know not a word) of the place and had NO talent is design/décor. 

AU:  What were three words that came to you when you saw your new first floor?

JH:  BEAUTIFUL, meaningful and home.

AU:  Out of the seven rooms, which room were you most shocked by?  Why? 

JH:  The LIVING ROOOOOOOMMMMMMM!!!!    The Piano…the piano that has spent the last 5+ years against that East wall.  Yes, I know Avdo had the idea, but then the rest of it.   The yellow chairs/lamp/reading area.  The gallery wall, the old pictures, the one my mother painted…the DOORKNOB…I mean how COOL is that little item!????   And the chairs….THANK GOODNESS we reupholstered those drab gross chairs.  I mean really.  I now love this room!!!

AU:  Out of the seven rooms, which room do you like the most?  Why? 

JH:  The dining room.   I absolutely love love love the color!  I also love the décor.  The wall of plates, the mirror above the fireplace…the man/booze area (Chris switched out a couple of bottles for more “high end” booze)…he’s taking it very seriously and appreciates that you thought of him in all of this.  There may be a tie for favorite room but isn’t it weird to want to stay and linger in my new BEAUTIFUL French inspired bathroom?   Et tu ecrit “salle du bain” on the chalkboard.   I was pleased I studied French for 8 years.

AU:  Out of the seven rooms, which was your least favorite?  Why?   

JH:  No comment.   No really…I have thought of this because I am so happy with every square inch of what you have done. I can’t even say the hallway because you put my sentimental painting there…in the most perfect spot…that other people may not stop and look at but I do. every. day.

AU:  My overall vision for your place was personalization and secondarily, it was to combine old with new for a modern vintage feel.  Do you think that was achieved?

JH:  Yes!  We said goodbye to grandmothers rug and updated other grandmothers chairs with the yellow fabric and kept all the old mirrors, the vintage entryway table and grandma’s piano.  The modern meshed with the vintage beautifully.

AU:  Do you think, overall, that the new design and decor fit you and Chris’s personality and style?  Why or why not? 

JH:  Yes.  I actually have started dressing better at home (ha).  On a serious note yes.  It is not “girly”…no florals as  requested, but still masculine colors and a sophistication that Chris and I both try to pretend we have when we are truly dorks.

AU:  One of my personal challenges was to ensure that your space was child friendly while still maintaining an adult perception.  Do you think it does that?  Why or why not? 

JH:  YES and it took me several days to figure out how Avdo secured that shelf to the wall!  Our home was actually never that “child proofed”.   I didn’t want my home to be taken over by my children and also didn’t want to put giant rubber protector things around every table, chair and fork.  They sell so much crap to protect your kids that they never learn that perhaps running head first into a coffee table isn’t such a great idea.  I guarantee it will only happen once however.    They haven’t even touched the cool red and white straws since the first day!

AU:  For each room, tell me your 1-2 favorite things about them!

  1. ENTRYWAY:  LOVE the chandelier…it has a very cool reflection at night.   Also LOVE the piece you created for us.  It’s beautiful and incredibly thoughtful.
  2. LIVING ROOM:  The yellow chair/lamp/reading corner.   The gallery wall.
  3. DEN/Playroom:  The pictures….especially the one of Luke and Chris sitting on the dock at the Hamilton cabin.  The rug.  SO fun.
  4. DINING ROOM:  The color.  The plate wall….very cool.
  5. KITCHEN:  The Subway tile, the new freshness of the white.   Also love the use of the classic mason jar…and that my favorite hors d’oeuvre plates are on display.  (On that note…did you buy the larger plates that match my little ones before or after you saw my little ones?)
  6. BATHROOM:   WALLPAPER!!!  Love it…truly.   And the gold mirror.
  7. OFFICE:  The color!  The RUG!!!

AU:   Do you think what I delivered was under value, valuable or above value for the money you spent? 

JH:  Above.  I immediately thought you MUST have gone way over budget and that to get some good material to launch your design career you emptied your savings account!   You bought SO much stuff…I had no idea all of that was going to happen and I was THRILLED to say the least.

AU:  After doing your very own ‘extreme home makeover’, would you do it again? 

JH:  YES YES YES.   A lot of people say they could “never do that”  as in leave and let it happen without picking out everything.  I am so much the opposite.  I showed up at my own wedding not knowing how the tent would be set, I didn’t choose the menu or anything….it was so much more fun for me!!!   And by “would I do it again” I mean get started on the second and third floors!!   Okay…Chris said I have to wait a bit.  We just paid the tax bill…ugh.

AU:  Anything else?  Budget process?  Meeting process?  Feedback is welcomed and needed!  Bring it on!

JH:  Ann, I can’t say anything negative.  I can’t…and if you really truly knew me as a person as a leader of others, you would know that I am extremely comfortable with feedback…positive and negative.  I appreciated you informing along the way about the budget and letting me decide about increasing it, etc.  Meeting was great…you were drawing out of me what my thoughts were and not necessarily saying anything negative about the former space….except for my table not being under the chandelier bugging you! Ha.

{Related Posts} Dining Room Before and After  |  Family Room Before and After  |  Bathroom Before and After  |  Front Room Before and After  |  Home Offers Before and After

{Reveal} Kitchen Before and After + Anthropologie Zinc Letters

Okay, so it’s taken me about a month longer than I anticipated to do the full Hamilton Home Reveal but low and behold, here is the last reveal…the kitchen!  The kitchen before and after goal was simple:  to brighten it up and create a clean, crisp environment with a smaller budget (we used the least amount of money in this space vs. the others).  With the dining room being a darker gray and the office being an island blue, the kitchen needed some contrast so white was our main color.  The few foundational updates included new paint and new subway tile backsplash.  Those updates combined with some new curtains, rugs and a few decorative elements created a more inviting and calm space.  Take a look and as always, share your thoughts and opinions!

Kitchen Before and After: Sink Area

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Just a few tips here.  Small mason jars (which are all of $1 each – or less) with fresh tulips on top of French cheese plates.  New hand soap and a basil citrus candle from Anthropologie.  A lighter colored rug to again, offer contrast in the space, from FLOR.  And the white curtains are a very simple, inexpensive option from Bed, Bath & Beyond to allow natural light to flow a bit better and marry up against the windowsill and walls.

ann-ueno-kitchen-before-and-after-2IMG_1965Kitchen Before and After: Stove Area

It’s hard to tell in the pictures but there is now white subway tile backsplash to create a more modern vintage look and add a bit more character and texture to the space.  Oh and you get the added bonus of Jennifer and Chris’s son bending over in the after shot.  Love it!

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Kitchen Before and After: The Sink Nook

Had to feature this as thanks to my friend, Sarah, she inspired me to frame note cards from one of my favorite photographers/artists that derived from the book, Paris in Color.  You can view the notecards on Amazon here.  Pottery Barn has the perfect 4×4 frame and there you have it…a mini wall gallery for the kitchen featuring beautiful shots of flowers and food in Paris!  I hope Jennifer is inspired every time she is washing dishes 🙂

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paris-in-color-notecardsparis-in-color-notecards-2Last, here is my kitchen bonus!  I bought Anthropologie Zinc Letters and put them above their pantry.  I LOVE these letters and it’s easy to do what you want with them.  Use them for monogram, spell a word, whatever.  It’s the little things, right?!  anthropologie-zinc-letters{Related Posts} Dining Room Before and After  |  Family Room Before and After  |  Bathroom Before and After  |  Front Room Before and After  |  Home Offers Before and After

{Reveal} Home Office Before and After

Coming down the home stretch here!  Just two more room reveals from the Hamilton Home project and next up is the home office before and after.  It’s a tight space that needed some color, organization and a pop of personality.  Below you will find a visual entree of their home office as well as source links.  We ended up going with a beautiful Fiji blue paint by Benjamin Moore and I have to say that my favorite score of the space was the trio of West Elm artwork that I found on clearance!  Take a peak and let me know what you think.

Home Office Before

ann-ueno-designs-home-officeHome Office After

ann-ueno-designs-home-office-2ann-ueno-designs-home-office-3ann-ueno-designs-home-office-4ann-ueno-designs-home-office-5ann-ueno-designs-home-office-6{Sources} World Market Desk  |  FLOR Area Rug  |  Urban Outfitters Wire Photo Clip  |  West Elm White Collaged Paintings  |  Urban Outfitters Magazine Rack

{Related Posts} Dining Room Before and After  |  Family Room Before and After  |  Bathroom Before and After  |  Front Room Before and After

{Reveal} Dining Room Before and After

The dining room was a great space to update as the canvas was fairly clean and again, I knew even just putting new paint on the walls it would give this area a whole new life.  We decided on Benjamin Moore Whale Gray.  Rich, not too dark and a perfect shade of charcoal gray to cool up the space with the wood tones.  Since this room has a few different areas, I thought I would highlight each of them separately and explain the tips and resources there!  See below for the reveal and share your thoughts.  Happy decorating!

BEFORE (fireplace)


AFTER (fireplace)

I scored these mirrors on Joss and Main and knew exactly where I wanted to hang them.  This gave the space more dimension as across from the mirrors are windows so it opened up and brightened up the dining room, all the while bringing in a weathered, vintage look and feel.  I also wanted to subtly dress the mantle but not go crazy.  These accent pieces serve as a place for Jennifer and Chris to collect their corks (they collect them all year and get a good laugh at the amount of wine intake they’ve had come December), candle holders from Jayson Home for intimate dinners and dinner parties and a book on Tuscany to flow with the wine theme.  Specifically, the monogrammed canister jar is from Pottery Barn.




AFTER (new bar cart)

This was a bit risky as they have two young children which makes this area a potential glass breaking disaster.  But, I figured if it didn’t work, it’s an easy area to re-purpose.  Fortunately, Jennifer and Chris love it and so far, no accidents!  All I did here was re-use the existing table (because it’s beautiful and awesome), bought a bar tray and ransacked their cabinets for liquor bottles which was super fun.  My favorite focal point here are the vintage liquor ads from the early 1900’s.  I tore these out of an old Stage magazine I found at an antique shop in Vermont, framed and voila!  Trying to keep in line with modern vintage (and a fun wine/liquor theme), the bar cart was one of my personal favorite pieces of the home.




BEFORE (hutch)


AFTER (hutch)

Ahhhh, my first ever plate wall gallery!  I collected plates from all over for months and couldn’t wait to create a mosaic of art in their dining room. We have the wine and liquor theme on the one side of the room and here we bring in the food (sounds like a great night to me!).  I made the gold plates the centerpiece (from World Market) and worked all the other plates around it.  My favorites are the vintage French cheese plates (yes, please) I scored on Joss and Main.ann-ueno-designs-before-and-after-dining-room-10



BEFORE (table)ann-ueno-designs-before-and-after-dining-room-13

AFTER (table)

This is simple. I just bought new napkins/placemats from Anthropologie and styled the table to give it some flair.  Fresh flowers in a medium mason jar.  An easy table setting.  A unique way to place the fork and spoon.  That’s it.  Nothing crazy but I wanted to tie in the table with the rest of the space!

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So, could you see yourself enjoying a glass of vino and some cheese in this newly refreshed dining room?!

{Reveal} Bathroom Before and After

I have one word for this salle de bain:  WALLPAPER.  Yep, the hero of the bathroom is the wallpaper!

This is what I call my “risk space” for the Hamilton Home project.  Wallpaper is risky.  Why?  Well, for one thing it’s expensive (to buy and install).  I have yet to find inexpensive wallpaper.  Okay, not true.  You can find it, it’s just not great quality and the patterns and colors are usually blah. And for another, if you don’t like it, it’s not an easy change.  Of course, you can remove it.  But, that process is pretty much a pain in the you know what.  And for me, depressing to think about.

When Jennifer agreed to take a risk and wallpaper the bathroom, I was beyond excited! Here is the reveal and below the photos are my simple tips and resources for the space.  Tell me what you think!


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  1. Let the wallpaper be the hero.  Don’t put much up, if anything, on the walls.  I went to Urban Source in Chicago and worked with April and she was a gem!  Highly recommend checking them out if you are in need of wallpaper or fabric.  My only warning is the fabric there is pretty pricey.  They are worth it and beautiful, but if you are on a budget, it may be tough to find something.  I gave them that feedback and actually, they are looking to bring in more styles and patterns at a lower cost so they may have done so already!
  2. Simple, yet impactful wall art (again, wallpaper needs to be the hero).  Another Ruby Begonia’s find!  When I saw this I KNEW it would be perfect in the bathroom right above the toilet.  Who doesn’t love vintage Ladies Home Journals from the early 1900’s?
  3. Recycled mirror.  This mirror used to hang in their entryway and I snagged it, painted it gold (made a mess doing so) and hung that bad boy up.  Total cost = $5 for paint supplies.  Love it when that happens.
  4. Bath linens from World Market.  Simple, inexpensive, visually perfect.
  5. Accessories – Home Goods, World Market, Anthropologie…all three great places to style any space!  I love putting extra rolls of TP in a cute basket or crate.  Also, always good to have nice hand soap and guest towels if you have the space.
  6. Fresh flowers.  I personally think all bathrooms that guests may go into should have fresh flowers.  A simple bouquet of roses.  A trio of single stem picks.  A mason jar with lilacs.  Whatever it is, spruce up the toilet or the sink (or even the floor).  Check out my decorating with flowers post for more tips and tricks!

Yay or nay on the wallpaper?!

{Reveal} Family Room Before and After

Onto the third room reveal of the makeover.  The family room!  This is a room that combines cozy adult living with lots of toys and books. My vision here was playful adult.  Give it some pops of color and energy, but don’t sacrifice the adult character of the space.  Here are my tips, tricks and sources.

  1. FLOR it up!  I knew right away I wanted to add a colorful rug as the centerpiece of the space and of course, I scored a perfect design and color pattern at FLOR.  You can see all of the design options they gave me in this post.  And below was the winning choice!
  2. Paint, of course.  Oh Benjamin, what shall we do with these maroon walls?  All that kept popping into my head was sage green. I was on a mission to use sage green on those walls at all cost.  So weird.  But, as always, the gut prevails.  Speaking of gut, I did yoga tonight and man oh man I have some gut work to do before bikini season gets here.  Which, I suppose, could be months from now based on the weather in Chicago.  Whew, I have some time.  Oh and I went with Benjamin Moore Budding Green.
  3. Pictures, pictures, pictures.  This was the perfect space to be a little playful with the pictures.  So, I blew up and edited awesome shots of their kids.  I rocked the great Pottery Barn wood gallery frames.  And voila!  A simple gallery wall which would make anyone smile (Luke and Cameron make awesome art).  I also blew up two pictures that Jennifer and Chris had taken.  One of these was of amazing Adirondack chairs from their wedding and one of Chris and Luke having the most special father-son moment on a deck.  Melts my heart.
  4. Storage for ttttooooyyyys!  Bookshelf from Ballard Designs + harvest wire baskets and linen charcoal gray bins from Container Store = organization, color flow and a lot of great Dr. Seuss books.  OH and let’s not forget about the major score of the extra storage + extra seating World Market milk drum stools for a mere $50 each (on sale).  I almost peed my pants when I found these.  Seriously.
  5. Minor, but necessary.  Paint that tile on the fireplace!  The pictures speak for themselves.

And, here is the reveal!  And P.S. the reason there is nothing above the fireplace in the after pics is because they are mounting a new TV there.  Just had to clarify that.







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