FLORIDA DREAMING: Uncovering hidden treasures

Shopping for a new home can be daunting. There are so many things to consider and you likely have a very short timeframe in which to make such an important financial decision.

Thinking back when you purchased your own home or made a large purchase such as a vehicle – from shopping to purchase decision – the timeframe was likely really, really short.

So in my opinion, whether in doing a ton on advance online research (which is me all the way) or if you are totally reliant on your realtor for assistance, it’s critical that you view the home in person.

And when you do move forward to go out and view homes, it’s truly a mad dash… you have your appointment time, usually a 20-30 minute block… and when you get there, you need to quickly, very quickly, assess whether the home has potential. Try and use your time efficiently – attempt to take everything in – staying long enough to make an impression, but know that you need to leave sooner than later to make the viewing “window” on the next scheduled house. 

In addition, when you are making such a purchase, it can be confusing to remember what home had which features – so I always make an effort to take a lot of pictures during the walk through to refresh my memory afterwards. If you are lucky, you get to go back and have a second walk around before you put the offer in…. but honestly, who can truly get a sense of a house’s appeal or functionality in such a short period of time??? 

In truth, at the end of the day you just have to go with your gut and hope that it all works out.

I can definitely say that what evolved into Coastal Magnolia for me, was really just a result of my initial gut feeling and my vision for the home. I had two opportunities to visit the Sandpiper Village home before Closing – the initial walk through where I took quite a few reference pictures, and the Inspection, which happened about two weeks before the Closing.

In both instances, I was really trying to assess what would be needed to transform the dated beach vacation home and what I could do to rehab the space and the contents. And importantly, I was looking out for any major issues which would cause me to pause and reconsider the house.

Cosmetically, I focused on two main elements that would come with the house: the dining table and chairs at the front of the house and the three denim slipcovered sofas — for good or bad, they both made the largest visual impact in the overall space. 

I may not have initially liked them, but I knew that I needed to be able to work with them.


After Closing and before the house became a construction zone, I pulled the seat cushions off of the 7 (not 6 and not 8) dining room chairs and shipped them back to Michigan. Why there was an odd number, I cannot tell you… but I knew that I would figure out what to do with the oddball number at a later time.

For dining room chairs, they are very sturdy, super functional, and with minimal styling, so they truly could work anywhere. They were painted black and upholstered with gold – yes gold – and now dirtygold seat cushions. They had hidden potential, so I decided to rehab them to my coastal farmhouse aesthetic.

My neighbor, Janie, who is really like a second mother to me – offered to help me recover the seat cushions as I didn’t have any real world experience doing it myself. I had the seat cushions removed, and I boxed them up and brought them home with me as added luggage on the plane. 

I searched for fabric to find the right “coastal” light and airy vibe with a bit of woven texture, but importantly would have to be durable enough for the long term. I narrowed it down to these two selections, and ended up with the one on the right due to overall durability and availability.

On a cold Michigan Sunday, Janie and I practiced with some existing green sage fabric that she already had, but her upholstery gun wasn’t working. Ron (her wonderful husband), trudged out in the snow and got us the right staples and we were on our way again. 

It wasn’t as easy as it looks on HGTV or even YouTube for that matter… as keeping the fabric lines straight and tight on the corners took more than a bit of effort. In the end, it took about 5 hours to do 7 seat cushions over a long afternoon and into the evening, but they came out just great. Next trip down to house, I took them as extra luggage. 

Installing them back onto the frames was a bit of a challenge as the fabric was pretty thick at the corners, although we tried to trim back as much as possible. Fortunately Hugo, the furniture refinisher was bringing in the chair frames also had extra longer screws with him, so he helped me out and screwed the seat cushions back onto the frames. 

In the end, the chairs really transformed from old, dated dining chairs, to a cool coastal vibe that invites people to come and sit down for a while.


Likely the biggest transformation and frankly the biggest surprise to me, were the slipcovers. I inherited two large denim slipcovered sofas and one large love seat also denim slipcovered in the house. They were old, tired, and well — denim. As people popped in and out of the house, it was the first initial comment when everyone came into the house – and most comments were not good.

But surprisingly, the sofas werecomfortable – really comfortable – deep and inviting. Something “that you want to curl up into and read a book comfortable.” 

I estimated that it would be a big expense buying new slipcovers for the sofas, but less expensive than replacing the furniture altogether.

And then I won the Lottery – well sort of.

After Closing and wandering around the house on my own, I literally happened to find a large cardboard box in the Bunk Room closet. This room had been locked out previously and held a lot of the personal items of the previous owner that had been since removed…. Except for a large cardboard box in the back of the closet.

Foraging around, I opened the box and about died from excitement. Inside were the complete, and I mean complete, set of white slipcovers for all three of the sofas. Each and every seat cushion, seat back, and overall fitted main slipcover – for all three sofas. 

Yes, they were a mess, had not seen the light of day in years, and had orange soda pop (I think it was soda pop), all over three of them.  But they were all there and I was thrilled.

I took them down the road to the local cleaners that Shawna, my realtor, had recommended and they looked them over and said “no problem”. I could have them back at 3PM. They would be damp, and needed to be put right back onto the sofas to finish drying and they would then shrink back into place.

I had my doubts. They had orange soda pop all over them and had been in a box like this for years – many years. I was shocked when I went back at 3PM and they were done and they were fantastic. I couldn’t believe it. With $150 in cleaning, I just had saved likely $1350+ in new slipcovers and I was thrilled.

They looked fantastic on the sofas and the dark denim is gone and replaced with the light bright white aesthetic I was going for. I am still thrilled to this day.

In the end, my biggest take away from these two experiences would be to:

  • evaluate what you have right in front of you before discarding it
  • with a little elbow grease, a little luck and some ingenuity you can transform pieces in your own home into something special!

Here’s the link to the house:


Fabric: JoAnne Fabrics

Cleaners: Klean Wash, Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Sofas & Slipcovers: Rooms To Go | Cindy Crawford Collection

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