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Florida Ocean Life Goes Balinese

This is a home in Jacksonville Florida that I worked on for a good friend of mine. I had the pleasure of also living in this house, when we lived in Florida for 3 years over the winter seasons. It wasn’t always a pleasure, it had some bumps in the road for sure. But we made some pretty great lemonade out of the lemons. This was still a work in progress, in this photo, but we were getting close to completion…..

This is what it once looked like :

To tell you the truth, the picture above makes it look better than it looked in ‘REAL’ life.  The house was a diamond in the rough, purely based on it’s location. It is located moments from one of the most gorgeous beaches I have ever seen.  Atlantic Beach, Florida.

It all happened in a crazy way. When Michael ( my husband ) was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago, he was diagnosed with a cancer that occurs only one in a million. The odds were even crazier, because it only occurs .1 in a million at his age – he was 46 at the time. The primary cancer centre for his care was Harvard – Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Michael worked for a US firm and had US health care coverage. We needed to live in the States for a minimum of 6 months of the year for his medical coverage and care.  Hard to believe that a Canadian needed US health coverage ..I know, I know.  Rare things happen with rare diseases.

I happened to call my friend and told him that we were thinking of moving to the States – and we had to move soon for the health coverage to be legit. Well…..in true friend fashion…my friend said “Hey, why don’t you live in my house in Florida ?” He made his home open to us.  I said ” what house ?!” And there it all began. We, as a family, with 4 kids in tow, literally moved within weeks. The house was a second home to him and he warned me not to do anything because he wanted to renovate it someday.

Statue Purchased in BALI

Well…..NOTE TO EVERYONE …..never leave me unattended in your house.

 You are asking the impossible of me. It is like an ancient torture test to leave me alone in a house. I can’t help myself. Over the first winter in Florida, I moved all the furniture, paintings, and the decorative pieces. I hung curtains, brought in duvets, created new mosaics, and made the house a HOME. All the while, I never mentioned a word to the home owner. It was a hoot. Trying to keep the secret was a challenge at times. I had to bribe my kids and friends endlessly to keep hush hush. Wasn’t too hard to do…the beach was a few minutes away and we lived ON IT almost every single day. If you ever get a chance to see Atlantic Beach in Jacksonville Florida, I promise you ~ you won’t be disappointed .

I would ride my bike on that beach every single day of my life , if life would allow it.

Brett and I on the original staircase :

I made a few changes since then…..This is the hand carved balinese staircase now…..

J’adore doing the little details of projects . All of the hardware in the house came from one of the buying trips in Bali. Every door is hand carved and custom fit. The interesting part about all of this work is that we saved a lot of money on this project. It wasn’t about having a lot of money and throwing it out the window. On the contrary actually. We bought direct from Bali. I personally met every single artist in Bali who custom carved these pieces.


Nothing is factory made. Nothing is mass produced. No child labour. No bad mojo at all…All good stuff. This is extremely important to the home owner and it was to me as well. It feels good to buy pieces that MAKE A DIFFERENCE to another person. As a buyer in Bali, when you buy anything…you are supporting the local workmanship and trade.

Yes,we saved money by buying directly, AND we also made a difference to the person/family that created it. Those are definitely ~ feel good ~ ah ha moments.

Time went by and we moved back to Canada for the summer.  Since we were finally out, the homeowner had a chance to go to his OWN house in Florida. After arriving at his house, he rang me. I will never forget the phone call.

” Lynne, I am at my house. ” Me : “uhhhmmm, yes”

” I see you made some changes”.

I literally held my breath. Wait for it, wait for it, I thought.

” I want to say something to you “.

Me: speechless out of pure panic and anxiety of what he was about to say.

He said ” You have inspired me to continue to do some fantastic work on this house. I want to build a third floor and do a full reno job. I want you to be the interior designer”.

You could have peeled me off the ceiling from excitement. After that phone call, I hung up the phone and did a happy dance all over the house. It was a game changing moment for me. I loved the opportunity and I was so excited to jump right in and get my feet wet.

The home owner had been to Bali at the beginning of this project. He went for a shopping trip and literally brought a container load of goods into Jacksonville. For those of you who have never done such a feat, I guarantee you it is no easy task. He pulled it off though. I went to his storage locker one day to go and see what he had purchased. OMG OMG OMG OMG. I use OMG sparingly, but in this moment….OMG OMG OMG.

I stood there with my chin dropped to the ground. This was heaven. I was standing in heaven. I could have LIVED INSIDE THE STORAGE LOCKER, if it had better daytime lighting. I had found, from a work perspective, the LOVE OF MY LIFE…..BALI…..I had to go there myself. 

For those of you renovating…it is not always about happy dances and easy street. Quite the contrary sometimes. Somehow, eventually, it all comes together . I love making a house a HOME. I feel so inspired by so many things around me. It really comes down to the people you work with and for. It is what you make of it. It is about relationships and friendships and sticking together through the ups and downs. The contractors who I worked with on this project…made me laugh so hard. Lost count of how many times I almost pee’d my pants laughing. Ok, too much information…haha…but it was truly a LAUGH ~ so very often.  As importantly, the fruits of the hard work produced a beautiful result.  Pictured here is the dining room.  The dining room furniture pieces were all created from reclaimed fishing boats.


I was fortunate enough to travel and buy in Bali – more happy dances – to source all the goods to build out and furnish the  house.  This photo shows the finished master bath with everything from Bali. Hand made concrete tiles, lighting, sinks, towel racks. OK, those mirrors are not from Bali . Those are temporary and ugly…just sayin…


The plans to go to Bali started a new path for me.  We wanted to do the house as a Bali Inspired house. I scoured through Bali photo books with beautiful glossy shots of stunning Balinese homes. This is what I thought Bali was about. Gorgeous homes and surely luxurious Balinese massages. Duh, I was hit with the stupid stick. It is not what it is all about at all. What I didn’t know was that I had a huge learning curve ahead of me. This was only the beginning of the road leading to my buying trips/experiences in Bali. It was also the beginning of some pretty great friendships along the way. I met a FANTASTIC friend, by the name of Kim Rogers. She owns a Balinese store in Jacksonville Florida called BALI CARGO. Her store rocks out loud. if you ever find yourself in Neptune Beach, Florida, you would be doing yourself an injustice if you don’t stop in to see the store and meet Kim ! She is a spark with a larger than life personality.  We can barely look at each other without laughing out loud. Ha Ha Ha.

Bali is chock full of THE MOST INCREDIBLE , WARM, LOVING  SOULS. The Balinese are not only SUPER talented in wood carving and creative artisian skills, they are so down to earth, and extremely kind to others . This is a third world country. These people are poor. They have very very very little- financially. I have travelled a lot around this beautiful world of ours, but I have never been so impacted by  the warmth and kindness that I feel in Bali.

All the doors(25+), wood trim, flooring, bath vanities, furniture, sinks, lighting, porch railings, and accessories….all came from Bali. We had to buy 26 ‘Javanese’ homes ( they are very small homes) to create the flooring alone. That worked out great. The people of Java were happy to sell their old worn out wood and have it replaced by a new home with new wood. We were happy because we were able to buy some truly authentic gorgeous antique hand crafted wood and turn it into flooring AND that ~ is exactly what we did.

Now that is a home, made with LOVE…sprinkled with some sweat and tears… but we made it….Thank you to each and every one of you who helped me make this project come to life.  Onward and Upward to my next journey.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Ali Szkutnik #

    I don’t even recognize this house A LITTLE!!! It’s the most beautiful home I’ve seen in my life. Miss you and your family lots and lots.

    July 1, 2011

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