I first met Jill in her second-floor condo. She and her late husband relocated to Punta Gorda, a beautiful small city on the gulf coast of Florida, years earlier. As Jill took me on a tour of her home it appeared as though she had just moved in. This was just a basic condo. But right from the start I saw a pattern, it repeated itself over, and over again. There were paintings after paintings in various sizes and shapes in the bedrooms, hallway, and even inside some closets (I didn’t snoop—Jill actually revealed them to me). All the various paintings were on the floor, propped up vertically against the walls. It was clearly visible she had grown quite a collection of art. Periodically the homeowner stopped long enough to pick up a particular painting.
“This was painted by my Uncle, a self-taught artist,” she said with pride. As I took a closer look, I was surprised by the tedious details.
Jill told me she had been taking her time, living in her condo for a while before changing anything. Her plan was to display as many paintings as she could. Just Counters & Other Stuff was one of the three companies she phoned for an estimate. That’s why I was there. She wanted a quote for a large custom-built entertainment unit. Her wish was that the unit would take-up most of the space on longest wall in the great room. She asked that the new cabinetry to be similar to the style of her existing kitchen cabinets which could be seen a mere 10-feet away. She was ready to take her bare walls to the next level. Jill wanted to display her curated collection of stylish framed family heirloom paintings.
I pulled out my trusty tape measure. After determining the exact wall dimension, I jotted down the homeowner’s requirements for this entertainment unit. I believe good designers are able to listen to others wants and make sure that a product delivers what people truly want and are willing to spend their money on. Although I have been hearing impaired since I was a small child, I have always been told that I am a good listener. As you can imagine I might say, hearing is only a small part of listening. Since the homeowner wanted the unit to cover three-quarters of the wall, she insisted it would be 120-inches long and 96-inches tall. She did not want any drawers or glass inserts on the cabinet doors. She wanted her TV to sit on a wood top along with a back panel made of wood. Jill had a clear vision for what she wanted.
A few days later I met with Jill in the showroom at Just Counters. During my presentation I used an oversized TV screen to show the homeowner my designs of what the new unit would look like. She was impressed! However, she wanted to compare “apples to apples” before she committed to any of the three estimates. Ultimately, we earned her confidence, and she signed a proposal a week later.
About seven weeks later. Two of our professional installers, Tyler Mowatt and Ben Hanson, both who have positive attitudes and friendly demeanors were assigned to install Jill’s custom entertainment unit. Tyler and Ben are both a pleasure to be around, not only on the job, but also to work in the homes while around customers. These two skilled artisans installed the beautiful custom built-in entertainment unit without a hitch.
A short time after installation had been completed I had the opportunity to return to the condo. The moment I crossed the threshold and shut the door behind me, I felt I had arrived in an art museum. Immediately a flashback came to me. I felt goosebumps on my skin and the hair on my arms and neck stood on end.
Let’s stroll back in time for just a moment…I do not remember how old I was or what grade I had been in when our classroom took a field trip to an art museum. I do, however remember how I felt when I first saw orderly and well-arranged displays of various objects of art in the exhibition hall. Even at my young age I was fascinated how artists and painters used their brushstrokes to spell out a story on canvas (I loved good stories and still do). I saw many pieces of art that didn’t need words to tell a story. I believe if the art is exceptional, if it speaks to others, then the artist may be able to speak from the grave long after they have drawn their last breath. Look at Pablo Picasso or Michelangelo. The field trip had been more fascinating than I could have ever imagined.
Ok, now let’s get back to the end of the story about my last visit to Jill’s condo: I snapped out of my daydream as soon as I heard Jill’s voice, “These were painted by my mother,” she stated.
Now an art museum is pretty impressive, but one inside a home is even more impressive. Jill used her new entertainment unit and the nearby walls to tell the story of her family’s talent. There’s nothing I love more in a home than one with a unique gallery wall. These paintings were more than just pictures in a frame—they were unfolding stories. Every single one of Jill’s pictures told a story…without words.
I found myself captivated as I stood in front her family treasures that had been passed down from ancestor to ancestor. They truly and deeply spoke to me. The arrangements on the walls had been done smartly too. I was impressed by the large number of art pieces. But the five smaller ones that her late mother had painted gave the room a little more oomph, a simple look with a big payoff.
Sometimes the simplest room makeovers are the best. This was no longer just a basic condo. Nor a quiet one. Because, I imagine none of these magical canvases ever really stay quiet.