Friday, July 8, 2011

Friendly Friday - Empty Nester

For this Friendly Friday we are visiting my neighbor Ralph's house.  He is a widower with a son in college. 

Here is the front lawn decked out for his annual summer get together.  Stick around for more party photos. But first, let me show you the beauty of an empty nest.    

Ralph's son left for college two years ago.  During that time Ralph has transformed his house from a space focused on the needs of a teenager and his friends, into a sophisticated home that caters to adults, but is comfortable for all ages. 

The living room sets the tone for Ralph's home with rich olive taupe walls, creating a perfect backdrop for boldly colored artwork. Pine cones are a nod to natural found objects displayed throughout the house.

A floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace is the centerpiece of the family room which has the relaxed feel a north woods lodge. The mantel is solid unvarnished ash and the artwork highlights foliage from native trees surrounding the Great Lakes.


Outdoor design elements are carried into the kitchen seating area with iron pine tree stenciling on the overhead lamp and rust colored granite counter tops.


Brick red cabinets and a natural stone backsplash complete the look.  A pastel sketch of Ralph's son as a young boy brings a personal touch to the space.

The second floor of Ralph's house has seen the most dramatic change since his son moved out.  This office was originally one of three bedrooms.  To create this space, the wall between the hallway and bedroom was opened up and a ledge built. 

The burnt orange walls are variations on the color schemes used throughout the first floor.

All the photos in Ralph's office picture someone reading a book.  Notice that the frames are the same size and are black.  This brings symmetry to the room.   A close-up of one photo dating from the early 1900s, shows a hospital patient reading while convalescing in bed. 

Until two years ago, this upstairs bedroom was used by Ralph's son.  Now it is a meditation room!  Simplicity is the defining design element.  Long gone are the days where sports gear and dirty clothes covered the floor.


Hardware on the cabinet was replaced and the wood stripped bare to blend with the calm natural color scheme of the room.

Small touches, like this sconce, add to the stark beauty of this space.

Ralph has carried the serenity of his meditation room outdoors.  This is the view to his garden.

And now for my favorite empty nester home renovation made by Ralph.  He took out the bathroom tub and created an adult mini-spa! 

Yes, that is marble on the walls.  Just beautiful!

 Notice the built-in ledge for toiletries.  Sigh...

This is my dream bathroom!

Back to the party.  The 'Ice Cream Station' with a choice of ice cream and toppings was a huge hit.

And here is one of the youngest guests.  Ralph is the elegant bald gentleman in the background.  The party was epic!

Enjoy your weekend!



  1. Love Ralph's house! He has chose some very cool colors and accents. I especially love the black and white "readers". Where did he find them? Looks like a fun neighborhood party. Kelley

  2. Hi Kelley! You are so right, the colors are really vibrant! It is a beautiful home. Let me ask Ralph where he got the photos of 'readers'. They are very striking. And each one has a date and story.


  3. wonderful is this!... what a great role model ralph is for his son..i especially love love love those red kitchen cabinets...know what you mean by an empty nest...but just rememeber...there is no empty nest as long as one heart is there beating...

  4. Laney, I'm officially appointing you the Poet Laureate of Jewel Box. Your 'phrasing' is extraordinarily beautiful! "There is no empty nest as long as one heart is beating". Just lovely! And we all need to congratulate Laney on her new grandbaby who is just a few weeks old!



  5. I'm ready to move! Ralph's home is amazing and I too love that kitchen!

    Congrats Laney on the new grandbaby. Genevieve and I have a bit of a wait for that day to come.
    I love your analogy of a home not being an empty nest as long as one heart is beating.

    Just had that chat with my husband today as we prepare to send our youngest who is eager to start college, into his final year of high school.

    Sure would love an update from Charlie.


  6. Hi June! How nice of you to give a shout out to Laney about her grandbaby. And yes, we do have to wait awhile for our grandchildren. But I hear from Laney, it is worth the wait!

    Thanks for the reminder about Charlie. I do have to follow-up with him.



  7. ...oh thank you both genevieve and special you make me feel...and let me tell you (and anyone else in the world who is listening)...there is nothing like holding your grandbaby...that is one precious jewel that is worth waiting for...and certainly one that is beyond price...blessings and hugs...

  8. Hugs back.

    I can't wait to become a Nana. My good friend just had twin granddaugters and they are super sweet. Our time will come and boy will we celebrate:)



  9. Love your blog! Could you ask Ralph where he got the fold-down seat in his beautiful (handsome) shower?