Wolfe AFTER 1

And the Winner Is…

Before After

About 30-years ago I felt like I was in a desperate situation. I remember being told that prayers to St. Jude would help me. Kind of a long story, but I had some medical issues which required hospitalization. I was a single mom with two young sons.  I couldn’t afford to be off work, let alone be faced with a stack of medical bills. They say desperate times call for desperate measures. I needed cash—fast. I could count on one hand the number of times I had played the lottery. If only I could somehow—right then and even now—figure out the precise lottery numbers, and win. This would be the fastest way to get cash. I know, I know.  Yes, I knew what the odds were. But like I mentioned earlier: desperate times call for desperate measures. I believe in the power of prayers.

Prior to entering the hospital, I started praying the St. Jude Novena prayer over nine consecutive days. On the ninth day (by the way, Novena means “nine” in Latin), my nurse brought a special telephone to my hospital bed nightstand. The phone was “special” because the landline phone had a volume control built into the handset. The empathetic nurse had been trying to locate one of these telephones for days, but the hospital only had a limited amount of hearing impaired phones. “Let me write down your four-digit telephone number,” the nurse said right after she plugged it into the wall. “The first three numbers are the regular 893,” she continued. With a pen in hand she jotted down numbers 5791. (This was long before area codes were used as part of our everyday telephone numbers). “Here’s your four-digit number,” the nurse said as she handed me the slip of paper. I had been praying for a small windfall…just enough to get through medical leave. To be exact, I had been praying for winning lottery numbers.

Somebody was bringing my boys to visit me. So, I asked if they would stop by the local carryout on the way and play an evening “Pick 4” lottery ticket for me. With the piece of paper still clutched in my hand, I slowly recited the numbers out loud over the phone, “5-7-9-1.” If you spend just $1.00, the daily Ohio Lottery game pays $5,000 on a straight play whenever you match the exact four numbers winning lottery numbers. Although $5,000 might not seem like a whole lot of money, as a single mom facing an uncertain medical leave, that kind of windfall would have gotten me through.

My sons arrived shortly before the live taping of the lottery was aired. At 7:29 p.m. they were anxiously waiting for the balls to roll out into the chamber of the machine. I could barely contain their excitement as they watched the balls blow around inside the hoppers, watching, waiting for the first one to roll out. When it did, it was number 5. My preschooler was jumping up and down gleefully thinking we had won. I explained that all four numbers had to match. I knew the probabilities that I picked the exact four numbers were against the odds. The next number rolled out: number 7. My oldest son shouted, “We won! We won!” I reminded him that all four balls had to be exactly the same. The third ball rolled out the number 9. As I anticipated the final number, my heart pounded so hard I thought I would have a heart attack. The final number rolled out. It was number 1. Immediately the four of us started hollering, whooping, and screaming. Up until that moment, I had never experienced that kind of exhilaration in my entire life! It was so exciting!!! Nurses came rushing down the aisle ways…from different directions…all at once.  As they hurried into the hospital room, I’m sure they thought something had happened. Well, in fact, something did happen. I won the lottery! I knew this was no coincidence. There was no way I could have predicted these four numbers on my own. The St. Jude Prayer is a very special prayer indeed!  

In 2019, it had been my sixteenth year of designing, and I just had the greatest experience a designer could ever imagine. I felt as though I hit the lottery AGAIN, and even more than that, it felt like that three times in just one month. First, I met our new client, Debbie, through an email. Second, I was invited to Morty’s and Debbie’s beautiful Punta Gorda, Florida condo. And third, the homeowners signed the contract.

I received a lengthy email from the new homeowner. Debbie explained that they were relocating from Indiana and expected to close on a new condo. Even though they wouldn’t be taking immediate possession for another month, she and her husband were excited and anxious to remodel the kitchen. In Debbie’s email, she explained they didn’t want to change the kitchen layout, but simply wanted to replace the dark cabinets with white cabinets. She also leaned toward having Cambria Talbott as their countertop selection. Debbie included that her husband loves black stainless appliances. The homeowners also had a few more additional requirements for the space. They suggested I place a double stacked convention microwave/oven in a particular corner of the kitchen. They also wanted a cooktop and wanted to lower the bar-height peninsula to counter-height. Debbie attached a surveyor’s floor plan. In my email reply, I explained that I needed to measure the kitchen in person because the floor plan was itty bitty.

Eventually the three of us finally had the opportunity to meet in person. Morty and Debbie is a fun-loving couple. These were people who really appreciated the simple things in life. They wanted a kitchen that was warm, comfortable, and inviting space for intimate gatherings. After going over the previous email wish list, Debbie added a few more must haves. I totally understood her requests. Our clients truly wanted to make this condo “theirs.”

When I designed the kitchen the way they asked, I immediately saw awkward problems. I labeled it layout #1. But in the back of my mind I wanted to label it: problematic floor plan. So, I proceeded to design a second layout in order to “fix” those problems. A week later the three of us gathered around an oversized flat screen TV in our showroom to view the new kitchen.  It was clear that the three of us were excited and anxious. When I showed them the first floor plan with all their must haves, I watched their faces drop. They, too, immediately saw the problems this floor plan would have created. I gave them time to adjust to their disappointments. We then discussed why this floorplan would not have worked. I then proceeded to present layout #2. If only you readers could have been there. It was if I had pulled a rabbit out of a hat. The new layout was totally unexpected. As soon as Morty and Debbie saw it they were over the moon! They started hollering, whooping, and screaming. Their reactions reminded me of the day I won the lottery 30-years ago. When I designed layout #2, I hadn’t performed any magic. I simply used designer’s skills to solve the previous layout’s problems. That gleeful moment will always be memorable to me. Morty and Debbie carried on as though they had won the lottery. Winning the lottery is certainly an exhilarating experience. But then, so is having a stunning kitchen, such as this one.

Before After

Let’s take a look at why this kitchen remodel is a winner. The existing kitchen had a peninsula bar. This kind of layout had a trapping effect. There was only one way in and one way out of the kitchen. The new design replaced the peninsula with a big island. Now there’s plenty of room to move around the island, and out into the adjacent space. The large island now provides plenty of seating and prep space. We replaced cabinets the color of coffee without cream with white Shaker-style ones. We took this once dark, confining kitchen and brightened it up. The location of the existing refrigerator was replaced with a cooktop and a sleek range hood, both black stainless steel. Subway tiles are popular for kitchen backsplashes for many good reasons: they are inexpensive, easy to clean, and offer never-ending ways to install. We had the shiny tiles installed all the way to the ceiling. The homeowners purchased a Blanco farmhouse sink. They can abuse it however they’d like, because this material withstands food stains, high temperatures, and detergents. The gorgeous countertop is Cambria’s low-maintenance quartz. The color is Williston with a matte finish. We created a formal display for Debbie’s fine glassware. The dense seedy glass inserts slightly obscures the cabinet contents but does not mask them. This ensures her pretty glasses take center stage.

I believe we checked every box on Morty and Debbie’s must-have list, plus the want-to-have list, and then some more. This beautifully executed kitchen couldn’t have happened without the detailed workers from Imex Stone, the skilled crew from Coral Coast Construction, the talented team from Just Counters & Other Stuff, and Pucci Tile & Marble who provided and installed the beautiful tile backsplash. Everyone did an absolutely amazing job creating this stunning kitchen.  In my book, it’s a winner!

As always stay safe and well my friends.

Before After


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