Day 5 of 30 Exterior Decorate Positano Italy

Filed Under: Italy, Life, Tips, Travel - Kim Levell
Positano Best Villa

Positano Best Villa

Yesterday on my shopping spree I met this woman at a store. In the course of helping me she asked, “whya youa alonea”? I said “because I’m writing a book”. Then we worked out a conversation between her broken but much appreciated English and my zero Italian albeit hands a waving she learned what I was up to and suggested I go-a to-a the antique store to meet Giacamo pronounce Jauque-a-mo. He has the best house. I was to ask him if I could see it. I did and he agreed for 9:30 the next day.
Raffaele arrived at 8:30. Apparently there was a stuck bus which is very plausible considering Positano roads at two lanes are like American one way streets shoulders included. I hopped on the back of moped and was ready to go for another adventure! This time we were off to one of the most exclusive hotels, Pietra Santo. It’s just outside of Positano proper. Like most luxury hotels in Italy with property they grow some of their own food which usually amounts to a quaint side garden; however, this place had an entire hill side dropping down towards the beach. It was magnificent!

San Pietro Hotel Garden

San Pietro Hotel Garden

After this hotel it was off to Giacamo’s place. Funny thing is I had actually taken photos of this door the previous day. Giacamo, Giacamo, Giacamo…you unassuming little guy! Apparently not only does he own one magnificent villa, but 3. This being his latest edition it was decorated by a high end designer from Umbria. The villa was run by Domenico Cuom, a sophisticated city guy who left Milano for the simpler life hosting high end clients by the sea. I spent a good part of morning taking photos and imaging how nice it would be to spend time with my family there. 

Once back at the shot we reviewed my photos from the previous day and it was now agreed I needed a flash other than the one provided by the camera itself. As I said on a previous day the shop was well equipped and I was able to pick up a Metz which was according to Raffaele a very good German flash. I ha also asking why my big landscape shots weren’t vey crisp an he felt I could have a higher quality lens. Ey, yi, yi I am learning what it means to be a photographer!
With flash in hand I headed out for the sun setting light shots which made for one long, hot, exhausting day.

Positano Private Villa

Positano Private Villa

Day 4 of 30 Exterior Decorate Positano Italy

Filed Under: Tips - Kim Levell
Iron Gates of Positano Italy

Iron Gates of Positano Italy

I woke up several times throughout the night making sure I had not overslept because something happened to the alarm or whatever because I wasn’t going to miss my morning shooting pictures with Raffaele Mascole, the photographer of Positano! I  headed outside at 7:45. Raphael rolled up on a scooter that knew every bump and crack in the streets of Positano. He handed me a scratchy helmet with a broken strap and said here put this on, it’s for the police. I had my hair tied up in a bun so the helmet sat kind of on top and to the side. I was ready! Buzzing around the streets with the fresh wind in my face staring at this beautiful coastal town, I had never been so grateful for all that I had been given. 
Nouveau Photografia With Raffaele Mascole

Nouveau Photografia
With Raffaele Mascole

 The first stop…iron gates! They have beautiful iron gates that you can only see when then shops are closed. Shot after shot they just kept getting better. Then we proceeded to Le Sirenuse a beautiful 5-star hotel which is where I captured many beautiful details including white on white which is the true look in the “heal of the boot.” Each place we went we were offered an espresso and each time I said “si, gratzie”! I was wired by the end of our photo session and really liking every minute of it! The morning proved to be so fruitful that I asked Raphael for another day and he agreed. After we parted I spent the rest of the day going back to places he pointed out on the moped tour that I could shoot later by myself. If you have been to Positano you know that you climb stairs for days and if you haven’t then now you know. I was pretty beat but couldn’t stop. I was like a photography maniac twisting, turning, and squatting to get the shot. The sun went completely down and I dashed back to the hotel to meet up with Mary and Jack. They agreed to meet up with me for dinner and take me to their favorite spot. They were like the king and queen Americana of Positano having been such frequent visitors. We ended up at a place called (add that later) only a few doors up from the hotel. The place was run by a mother, father , and son. it was packed! We all had clam spaghetti, their favorite dish. Jack handed me a nap kin to tuck into my dress and said,”this one is messy.” I love this couple! 
Mary of Jack and Mary the Lifetime Italian travelers

Mary of Jack and Mary the Lifetime Italian travelers


Day 3 of 30 Exterior Decorate Italy

Filed Under: Italy, Tips, Travel - Kim Levell


Hotel Poseidon Positano

Hotel Poseidon Positano


Leaving Rome and headed for the coast I had to swing by the airport to negotiate a month long rental. Things just seem to have a tad bid of serendipity so far because my driver spoke pretty good English and through the conversation about what I am trying to accomplish he thought it best to pull over in the airport entrance and call the car rental car companies for me to negotiate in Italian. He was able to secure me a new Fiat 500 for 30 days at a cost of 1034 euro which was the equivalent of $1300 US complete with full insurance and a GPS. Could I have done better? I don’t know, but what I did know is the waits were long at most counters and Euorcar was able to take me right away. I also think it’s because of people like my driver that I feel very right about this trip. I was eager to leave the city and head for the coast. I suppose it’s one of the reason I never moved to New York City. I like it for a little bit but always happy to get back to a quieter setting. Once in my cute little car I quickly realized that addresses don’t always add up in Italy when it comes to using a GPS so I just set it for Positano City Center and away I went to the Amalfi Coast. I decided to wing my rooms for the night from this point forward and let my serendipitous roll keep going. Well so far that was the right move because as I would wind through the streets of Positano I saw a hotel called Poseidon and I thought god of sea is a good place to look because of my heart filled God call to write this book. The place looked good, the rate was doable because it had parking and a nice breakfast included for 120 euro a night. Most parking in Positano will cost you at minimum 20 euro and with my bags I liked the convenience factor of a bellman bringing things in after along drive. Once I checked in I asked the young woman about a photographer that might be interested in helping me with photography lessons. “Why yes”, Daniella said “my father who’s shop is just a few doors up from the hotel.” Seriously! I was so excited I headed right over to make his acquaintance. Raphael was a staple in Positano as I discovered most people in this town are generational and don’t leave. As one women told me, “we are born in Positano, we live in Positano, we vacation in Positano, and we die in Positano.” Raphael shop was also very well equipped. After we spoke for a bit I purchased a few 32G SD cards and we agreed to meet in front of the hotel at 8 am. I felt relieved knowing that I would surely get my shots. Who better to take me around then the towns biggest photographer and one of the friendliest I might add. Headed out to explore Positano after check in I saw this place as a treasure trove of photographic possibilities and that in turn meant that I just needed to go with the flow and see how long I needed to stay. While I was out I decided to shop for a little brighter wardrobe. Although black was a great choice for getting dirty….what was I thinking?! I was raised in Florida for that last 25 years only a recent transplant to North Carolina and I had a closet full of white and cream linen! Honestly just like a beach town in Florida it’s tough to find quality rather just a bunch of cheaper thin clothes that remind me of gypsy wear alla summer, but I did find a great shop called Pepito’s which had great linen clothes and clearly made with quality which I was able to score a beige pair of slacks that they hemmed for me by the next day. That evening back at the hotel I went up to the bar for a goodnight wine and ran into an American couple Jack and Mary from Philadelphia via a lifetime in New York City’s upper east side. They had been vacationing in Italy for the last 40 years and had more that some good advice to give me. One of which was confirmation that I had chosen a great hotel. They had stayed all over Positano and felt this hotel had the best comfort, value, location, and they genuinely loved the people who ran the place. I was already in agreement!


Day 2 of 30 Exterior Decorate Rome Italy

Filed Under: Italy, Life, Tips, Travel - Kim Levell
Via Tagliamento

Via Tagliamento: Best street in Rome for beautiful homes

Day 2: My dear friend Melissa happened to be visiting Rome at the same time as myself. She had a brilliant idea to find a photographer for a lesson and introduced my to Franceso Amorosino ( Honestly I had become a little lost after my first day of shooting. My camera was just not doing what my inexperienced manual disregarding self wanted it to do. I decided to meet him at one of the best streets in Rome for luxury and unique homes. The street was called Via Tagliamento. I sat down on the center fountain at 8 a.m. in the shade thinking it would be great if I could just lie down on the sidewalk but I’m not sure how that would go over for our first introduction much less the affluent neighborhood with the morning commute to work under way. Francesco arrived with a warm smile and lucky for me not only did he have 3 years at photography school but we also shared the same camera the Canon T3i. You see meeting up with a friend in Italy is great but drinking a few bottles of wine is not so great! The mornings here have been really hot and I was feeling like I had been out to sea after a stormy night. What I did learn is what I needed to know, which is how Francesco shoots and what symbols he selects on the camera. M good, move this button for light great, manual focus, amen…we were off to a great start. He suggested we get me a cup of Italian coffee for it surely cures all. After a little more lesson at the cafe we both realized I was under equipped and would need a telephoto lens. So instead of shooting at my insistence he offered to take me to a camera store and translate. While we waited for the salesman I wondered over to the tripods just to see if they had lighter ones. Oh yeah much lighter. In fact it made my tripod feel like a I was lugging around a 10 pound sack of potatoes. Ugh! Well the lens was around 300 euro so I passed. Our ticketed number was up and it was time to buy my new 50mm-250mm lens and a new charger for my battery. Before I left home I was packing and came across a grey cord that looked like it went to a radio. I guess it wasn’t just some random cord after all. In my opinion my photo lesson at 130 Euro was priceless because navigating the Roman streets to find the best camera shop Fotoforniture Sabatini on Via Germanico near the Vatican would have been a challenge much less knowing what would be the right gear. Francesco explained I didn’t want under 50mm because I already had that in others lens which was also very good to know! Although I was still a out of my element I was beginning to feel like I can do this. Sent from my iPad

Day 1 of 30 Italy

Making my way to my hotel in Rome I would be staying in an area called the ghetto. I found my hotel on which I found lists more European hotels then its counter parts. It was small with only six rooms. My room was neat, clean, the a/c worked, and the internet was free and not spotty. The place was called Regola Suites and the only draw back I found was if you come in late at night after having met up with an old friend for wine the door isn’t double locked you are just malfunctioning. However, this is day one and that comes later.

After I got cleaned up from my very long flight I had remembered someone who travelled a lot to Europe told me you have to rally and stay awake until it’s time to go to bed on their clock. So I headed out with my camera to start my architectural exploration. One thing that strikes you when looking at residences in Rome are the door pulls. They are always brass and you will see some very cool ones with unusual designs. Door after door, pull after pull I could tell I was in for a very long month of taking pictures.

Always stop to smell the roses! What is you favorite scent?

Filed Under: Life, Tips - Kim Levell

Always stop to smell the roses! What is you favorite scent?

Sheer Bliss

It never seems hard to come a upon a small rose garden when walking thru many parks in the US. I challenge you next time to stop and smell the roses. I like to make it a game almost smelling each one, finding the scented roses, then proclaiming my favorite. It’s really a fun idea for all involved. Doesn’t everyone enjoy a beautiful fragrant rose?

R.K. Witherspoon

The Sheer Bliss and RK WItherspoon passed my sniff test. They were both fresh and fragrant! I enjoy more citrus like scents.

 Make another game up by simply picking your favorite by beauty too!


Need I say more…

Why not consider the dry dead foliage of plants as architectural beauty in the winter?

Filed Under: Art, How To, Tips, Travel - Kim Levell



Why not consider the dry dead foliage of plants as architectural beauty in the winter?

Fall Garden North Carolina Arboretum


Just because the fall has come and winter is either already here for you personally or just around the corner the garden is still something to be considered and acknowledged as something beautiful. Dried landscape material can be tied back like an artistic creation of architectural art in the garden. These photos were taken at the North Carolina Arboretum in Ashville where the beauty of fall splashes against the deep green background of Carolina evergreens.

The North Carolina Arboretum

The North Carolina Arboretum

These grasses and hydrangea would even be pretty covered in a light blanket of snow.

Dried Hygrangea

The Carolina Arboretum Dried Hydangea

Tip: A nice balance of grasses against a back drop of evergreen looks great in every season.

North Carolina Arboretum:



A Southern Season: A grocery store that feels more like a fine department store. I loved the Thanksgiving pumpkin mousse!

Filed Under: Tips, Travel - Kim Levell

A Southern Season: A grocery store that feels more like a fine department store. I loved the pumpkin mousse!

*See link at bottom of page

A Southern Season: Chapel Hill North Carolina

I’m a good food junkie! Couple that with a fondness for shopping and you have the perfect storm at A Southern Season. Since I have been visiting North Carolina I make this a routine stop for tea in the am. They have an incredible selection of tea, know just how long to brew it, and make great blends. I like to get my cup of tea then stroll the isles and see what’s on the shelves. There is an incredible selection of just about anything culinary you can think of from edible to the well made pots, pans, and utensils you might need to cook up all the fabulous ingredients. On this particular day I was at the store it was Thanksgiving tasting day. Yum-mee! I let it all go on Thanksgiving and this year will be no exception. My usual favorite desert is a little chocolate cake from a company called Gateau in St. Petersburg Florida. It’s made gluten free with the finest organic fair trade ingredients. This year I will be topping it off with a little Pumpkin Mousse.

Here is how you make it: Pumkin Mousse Recipe

1 pint whipped cream

fold 1/2 can organic pumpkin puree ( can sub for sweet potato puree)

1 tsp all-spice

1/4 cup maple syrup

whip up the cream and fold i the rest top on your favorite dessert. This is heaven!

A Southern Season

A Southern Season: gourmet grocery store in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Of course besides the great tea…my favorite, the floral section. Great ideas, great orchids, and great over all selection!

A Southern Season floral department

A Southern Season floral department

This is a great place to order and ship a holiday gift basket as well. Just check out the site and you will see….Happy Thanksgiving! 

Under design: Contemporary Meets Mediteranean all under Screen

Filed Under: Homes in progress - Kim Levell

Under design: Contemporary Meets Mediteranean all under Screen

Exterior Outdoor Design Project by Kim Levell

Exterior Outdoor Design Project by Kim Levell


This isn’t exactly how it’s going to look although it will be ten times cooler! So far I have completed demo on entire back yard. We have permits to move forward and should be building at full speed by next week. Oh wait, that’s Thanksgiving! Argh…..”half steam ahead!”


Harbor View House: This client wanted a bug and leaf free environment having lived under two grand oaks for the last ten years. When I stepped on the scene they were already planning to build a screen enclosure. It’s a big step for clients who really do like to keep it natural. They enlisted my help to create a warm inviting space that they could entertain and still feel like they were in a luxury atmosphere. The challenge then becomes creating a cool creative space that doesn’t feel boxed in. I’ll be using reflective light on cut metal screens to create beautiful mood lighting. Oh and I’m super excited about the fire place! This job should take a little bit so stay tuned for updates…



Curb Appeal: A Plain Builders Spec get’s a make over…Bahama Style!

Filed Under: Tips - Kim Levell
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Curb Appeal: A Plain Builders Spec get’s a make over…Bahama Style!

Not sure what to call this style?


 I worked on this home awhile back. The design concept was almost fully executed except for new railings, front door, and garage door. At least if ever the clients ever want to take it up to the next level they’ll know what to do!  The items completed were strategically selected made a great impact. It looks great!  

When you have a large three story home like this it’s important to save some money in the budget for full size landscape material. It brings the house into scale and adds warmth. I replaced and redesigned the driveway, added a mixed combination of a small roof and arbor over the garages which will later have a flowering vine. The redesign also included matching royal palms in 18″ *gw (see explanation at bottom of page), a new metal roof, paint color change, Bahamian shutters, lighting, and am I missing anything?

Bahama Beautiful!


*GW= grey wood. It’s the total of exposed grey wood from bottom to top. This does not include the crown shaft or fronds.