End of the Year & End of an Era at HGTV.com

Long before blogging, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest took over the Internet as a source for home enthusiasts to share "How To" home improvement projects, makeover photos, and decorating tips, there was a TV network who reached out to its community for engagement with a website called Rate My Space. Some may laugh at RMS, some took it as a competitive platform, some used it for inspiration, and some used it for help with their own design dilemmas. You could say HGTV pioneered the interior design and decorating social sharing we know today, from interior photography to vignette + tablescape styling to writing those How To posts we read on blogs, plus online magazines. And as of today, December 31, 2014 - the site Rate My Space will no longer exist - which is hard to believe it would cease to exist when it started back in 2007. 

 NYE Tablescape shared & featured at HGTV and on my blog - read here.

I can still remember seeing the commercial on TV (I think during Design Star or Devine Design with Candice Olsen) asking people to "Share their photos" and thinking - Hey - I could do that - I can share what I've done here (which was, at the time, our townhouse we bought in October 2006 in  Florida). The first share was an epic fail - filled with so much criticism, I deleted the photo. The photo was of our bedroom, and I hadn't yet decided whether to lean wall art on the night stands or hang above. Afterwards, I decided to go with above arrangement, retake the photos, and repost the room, which this time was a hit - no mean comments (yes, negative commenting was rooted back in '07!). 

 From RMS photo share to
 The show aired 2008-2009-2010-2011 on HGTV.

From that point on, I had begun my own personal online sharing -- and -- engaging with other people who were posting and leaving comments. That was back in 2007, and I continued sharing up until 2013 (wow!! SIX years of photo sharing). Within those six years, I became friends with many of the people who were commenting - some are still friends today, from sending Christmas cards (Linda), to our Facebook connections (Patrick), and even meeting in real life Rate My Space commenters and contributors such as the Visual Vamp, Valorie in Miami and Janelle in Phoenix. Ironically, Janelle and I decided to meet for lunch back in 2012 (after we had connected on Facebook). I had a rough time getting settled in Phoenix, but meeting Janelle for lunch those three years was probably one of the highlights! We even drank our first Mint Julep together at lunch during the Kentucky Derby weekend this past Spring - and I bring this up because it all goes back to having formed the connections back on Rate My Space.

Our second Thanksgiving in our FL townhome - 2007

Sharing on Rate My Space helped me develop my ever changing seasonal style - but one thing didn't change: keeping my concept of repurposing, and using what you already have in new ways, with refreshed colors - even if shifting from room to room - to restyle, refresh, renew a home's space - without breaking the bank. The photo sharing, along with detailed room descriptions evolved into blogging - which Valorie had already tapped into, and who was a huge encouragement to me when I first started blogging back in late 2009. The two key points I learned from her were. 1. It will take a while to find your voice, but 2. Don't stop blogging.

Fast forward to today, and thanks to sites like Houzz and Pinterest, interior decor photo sharing has exploded on the Internet, and has changed not only magazine publications, but also site designs them-self - which is why I'm sure HGTV let go of some of their start-up photo sharing platforms.

Thankfully though, many of the photos and posts I had shared as NYCLQ on Rate My Space were featured in many of the HGTV specialty posts - although I don't think the RMS show or podcast (one of the first video bloggers aka vloggers, Angelo Surmelis) is available.  I have a link list (in my features tab above) but some of the most viewer favorites were the first bedroom I posted called Sweet Retreat, the yellow black and white living room called "Cash Cab" (I still get people complimenting me on that - Thank you!!), my Thanksgiving tablescape in brown & white, "JOY" mirror project from a Christmas Bedroom, New Years Eve tablescape called "No Reservations Required" and a few others...


The Internet has evolved, especially the way we get inspiration for interior design, holiday decorating and entertaining. And so to have the style and decor tastes of homeowners, dorm dwellers and even renters! I feel blessed and I'm grateful to have been a part of this design industry game changer - because not only did photo sharing on RMS grow, so too did the diy industry and building an online presence. Yes - there are still plenty of home improvement projects that should be left in the hands of a professional - even licensed professional, but there is a certain pride in ownership when one can share what and how they made an improvement or turned a house into a home, over time, on their own.

Although the first RMS posts I shared have already being deleted from the site in the past two years, some of the newer ones had remained...

So thank you HGTV! Thank you for having the foresight to see so far into the future and pioneer the online diy decor social experience - and also for having us create one of the first online "User Profile", where I so proudly came up with my NYCLQ user name, and I had my license plate personalized with it too! lol But mostly thank you for giving creative minds a place to mix and mingle, without worrying about watermarks and branding and making a photo pinworthy as we need to be today.

Thank you to the staff contributors who shared my content such as Kayla Kitts and Camille Smith, and thank you to those who commented, saved, or shared one of my posts! Thank you for the opportunity to have had the chance to inspire you to make your home your haven - and all with a little shift and shopping thrift! A special thank you also for having had the opportunity to meet so many good people (you know who you are!!)

While this may not be an end of the year recap of 2014, it is still a time of reflection (we all started somewhere!) and a time to show gratitude. My personal Rewind 2014 will be coming up next - In the meantime, head over to HGTV and check out their new site design at HGTV.com
 Good-bye Rate My Space - and thanks for keeping it real!

Thanks for stopping by!
Have a Happy and Safe New Years Eve!

Cross-Country Relocation Recap - Settling In & Sneak Peeks

It's been a grueling and hectic past few weeks - but we finally moved out of Arizona and back east! This time, we're living in a house we bought North Carolina! Being built in 2006, it's not an historic house, but it still needs a few tweaks and updates, we're planning to do over time. Since we moved in just before Thanksgiving (literally - just a few days before!!) the main objective has been to just get the place cleaned, get the common areas painted, and get somewhat organized, to still be able to enjoy a little bit of the Christmas holiday season...

 Harmon House Christmas 2014

To say it's been grueling or exhausting these past few weeks is really an understatement - just before we found out we were going to move, I had just given the AZ house a Fall cleaning and closet purge (in September) ... which did help somewhat when it came time to organize, pack and move in October. Although my husband's company had professional packers come pack up the house (in 2-3 days), I still spent some time grouping like things together, so it would make unpacking a little easier - well easier in theory. 

The unpacking process though happened on the SAME DAY the truck arrived and was unloaded. I do NOT recommend this be the process for anyone moving across the country. All of the time and effort that went into getting and keeping the home items organized, got shot to  hell within the last two hours - even though I had asked the movers to stop - they kept right on unpacking. And because of this, not only did things have to be moved 2-3 times, but some items were even thrown away (for example the lids to porcelain Chinoiserie jars) and one packed cabinet (coffee mugs) ended up in about five different places between the kitchen and the living room. I was upstairs unpacking wardrobe boxes into the closet, and after a long day, walked into this...

 I put on my "It's gotta get cleaned up NOW" - hat day after movers left.

Be that as it may, I forged on. Thankfully, the relocation specialist assigned to our move apologized for the chaos and did send another two unpackers two days later (which is how the relocation to Arizona was done and what I had asked the mover to stop and do). This was a huge help because I had time to put away and organize the chaos of what did get unpacked. We were somewhat more pulled together to be able to enjoy our first meal in our new home, which was actually for Thanksgiving...

This Thanksgiving included HUGE leaves for our table for two, I gathered from our backyard!

Although we didn't cook a turkey this year (no time to since Jeff had to work on Thanksgiving Eve) we did manage to make a few of our traditional sides and I baked a pumpkin pie. Even though I didn't have time to bake Jeff some chocolate chip cookies, our new neighbor, Linda, welcomed us to the neighborhood with a plateful she just baked. (They were still warm!!) And so much to be grateful for - especially for this year with our relocation...

 Moving truck loaded and leaving Arizona - Thursday November 13...

 Snapshot while in flight - Leaving AZ for the East Coast! November 15!

 Landed in Charlotte, NC - Saturday November 15 - Flew out up to Greensboro...

 Closed on Harmon House - Monday November 17!

 Fall Driving - North Carolina - November 19...

 Moving truck Arrival: Saturday November 22!

Before the moving truck arrived on Saturday November 22, Jeff was able to get the door locks changed, I painted trim and doors (loving the black doors!) and this time, we hired a local painter to paint out the rooms and walls of most common areas (vs. Jeff & I painting everything before the movers arrived to our AZ rental home). Hiring the painters was a HUGE help and definitely a worth while investment I highly recommend to help lift some stress off you during a cross country relocation. 

 Picking paints for Harmon House (on closing day!) - So much easier to select when swatches painted around the house, to see color changes in the light. Painting happened from November 18-21 - stopped for weekend move in - and picked back up Dec. 1-3.

I'll share moving details, paint colors, local painters info, packing tips, and additional pictures in an upcoming post. Right now I really just wanted to touch base with Focal Point Styling blog readers because I know - it's been quite a while since I've posted (sorry!!).


Next year (2015) we're planning on a bathroom renovation, switching out lighting fixtures, and continue painting other rooms - including setting up guest rooms (the list of guests is growing now that we're back east!!), exterior painting (shutters and trim), a little more gardening than I've done in the past 3 years (can. not. wait for Spring!!), setting up our home office, and even creating a mancave for Jeff! Right now - I'm just UBER thrilled and grateful to be back HOME on the east coast!!

 Had so much fun picking out a fresh tree this year! We haven't had a real tree since 2005! Finally got our tree, Friday night, December 5!

In the midst of the move, doing a few home repairs, and getting settled, I did do a "little" simple holiday decorating, shopped for a few new pieces for our home (online here in NC and at HomeGoods in AZ before moving!), attended a local holiday party (at Madcap Cottage - High Point!) I was invited to (thanks to friends & connections on Facebook), enjoyed a great Italian meal at a local restaurant (Giada's Trattoria), explored a historic home - decorated in Victorian period style during a candlelight tour - and even check out a few area thrift stores and consignment shops -- again, photos to be shared in upcoming blog posts (but have been sharing via Facebook and G+!!) , so please stayed tuned -- and a HUGE THANK YOU for sticking around!!  I'll also be posting my 2014 Rewind before the end of the year (lol - in the upcoming week!)

I'm very much looking forward to learning my new area (may even be planning a thrift road trip!), collaborating with local shops, and also getting to attend east-coast market events, such as the Design Bloggers Conference coming up in Atlanta in February and Spring High Point Market coming up this April! You can read more, from an interview I was honored to have with the gents over at Madcap Cottage... (read post at: Always in Fashion)

 Met long time Facebook friend Cathy Smith during the Holiday Bazaar at Madcap Cottage in High Point - Sunday, December 7!

Jeff and I touring the historic Korner's House for a candlelight Christmas tour, Saturday, December 13!

Thank you Focal Point Styling blog readers!
(especially Betty, Gail, Scribbs, Linda, Janelle, mom and many others!!)

Time to get baking some Christmas cookies now!!
Warmest Wishes to you and your family for a wonderful holiday season, Merry Christmas  and a Happy NEW Year!

Thanks for stopping by to read my Cross-Country Relocation Recap - Settling In & Sneak Peeks!


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