Hi, I’m Sandy. My whole life has been about designing, creating, making and building. I’m a creative who has been renovating houses and designing interiors for many years. It’s at the heart of who I am.
In 2016, my husband and I bought our 37 acre dream property in Sonoma County, California. Right smack in the middle of the property was a dilapidated 1951 two story stately Colonial. I was immediately struck by the undeniable magic her walls and the surrounding acres exuded. I started blogging to document our renovation adventure to create Rock Haven Farm. It wasn’t long before a host of loyal followers, who also appeared to have consumed the magic, joined me on my adventure. As the excitement started to build, the fitting name for the house, “Mrs. Colonial”, was born.
It was the biggest project I had ever tackled, and every skill I had learned over the years would be required. After many starts and stops, delays and chaos, an estimated eighth month project turned into excruciatingly painful years. Anything and everything seemed to have been thrown at us: wildfires and resulting skyrocketing budgets, vanishing architects, incompetent superintendents, unimaginable city requirements, firings, floods, family tragedy, and yes, pandemic. Somewhere in the middle there was a major roadblock unleashed by a neighborhood angry mob; and I even had an audition for a major network television show. The executive producer loved it, I was in! However, Covid wouldn't go away and the show never materialized. You see, we experienced it all, and ALL almost killed me. I lost all desire and ability to share. The blog went on semi retirement. I felt like I was using all my strength just to get through each day and to jump over every hurdle thrown in the way. I remember sitting at my drafting table with one last run of cabinetry to design, and I couldn’t do it, nothing would materialize. However, that wasn't the worst of it. What occurred on January 28, 2021, was the worst part of this whole thing. It felt like one big explanation point at the end of a bad paragraph. You can read about it at the "dedication" tab above.
Fast forward to February 2021. As I sit here designing my new website to begin a new chapter, I can feel my mojo coming back. There is still a small construction punch list to complete, all the sliding French doors at the sunroom need to be replaced for a second time, and there is a likely a legal battle ahead, but I feel myself coming out of the coma and renovation PTSD.
You're here, thank you! Let’s celebrate this beautiful home together, and life itself! Let me take you on a journey of what was in my mind "behind the design" here at the farm, and let's tackle new projects, DIY, reimagine spaces, and spend some time in both the kitchen and the garden. The renovation may have come to a close, however, not one room is fully finished. Let's do it together.!
Hometown: Sonoma County, California
Are you a professional designer?
No. I'm just a small town girl who left the corporate world to raise my children. Along the way I began a long love affair with homes and interior design. The pull to create and design was too strong to deny. I studied everything I could find to develop the skills I needed. I began with small spaces and quickly the passion moved to designing full house renovations. One of my earliest projects made it into a national magazine. My creations have encompassed all flavors of design, including everything from your standard track home; a 1950's traditional turned slightly modern; a lake house; a mountain home; nightclub; an 8,000 square foot Colonial mansion; to this magical Colonial and entertainment garage here at the farm.
When did you know you had a fascination with design?
When I was a child growing up on a cattle ranch in California’s Alexander Valley, I made many trips to a mountain of discarded lumber. I would “pile dive” to extract materials so I could transform them into wooden treasures of function and style. I had a short affair with clothing and garden design, but ultimately I headed back to the wood pile. My wooden treasures morphed into larger pieces, like my pergola in the shape of a grand piano. Eventually, I put down the hammer and nails and my focus began to shift to interiors. I started to become increasingly unsatisfied with rooms that sat idle, void of new design or layout. I couldn’t help myself from walking into a room and tweaking a detail, or changing the entire layout . . . and my love for interior design was born.
How do you approach your re-design of a space?
My first step is to listen very carefully to what the structure is telling me - walls really do talk! I spend a lot of time reading the architectural elements, the natural light, the outside views, etc. I love creating the story of how rooms relate to each other, and enjoy elevating the experience of traveling from one to the other.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Absolutely everywhere. Wherever I am I’m transfixed on colors and textures, shapes, styles, and often times my inspirations have nothing to do with interior design. It could be a metal car part with a texture that gets my creative juices flowing. The light bulb will go off, and before long, that texture may become the leading element in one of my room’s design.
What’s your favorite room to design?
I think we often like most what is the easiest to achieve, and for me that’s a good kitchen design. It’s such an intricate process with so many crucial elements that require a lot of math. It’s a puzzle that I love putting together. There’s nothing more satisfying than arriving at the end of a project and finding that the function equals the beauty.
What is your favorite project to date?
I’ve been lucky enough to create some really beautiful and successful projects, however, I have to say my favorite is right here, Mrs. Colonial. The process was horrendous, however, the after is spectacular! I usually lean toward using a lot of color in my designs, so designing a black and white neutral home and interiors was something new for me.
What are some of your favorite aspects of interior design?
There are absolutely so many things, however, I love trying something new. Here at Mrs. Colonial I designed a number of features in the kitchen I've never seen used before. Stay tune for all the reveals!