You awake each morning to the sight of that popcorn you planned to scrape from the ceiling last year. A squeaky floor board has needed fastening for so long that you can hear it before stepping on it. Friends have tired of listening to your plans to replace the kitchen counters, someday soon.

Certainly, such problems would be solved in the blink of an eye if you were a talented professional who dealt with such matters daily. Well, maybe. But then again, maybe not.

We asked several gardeners, interior designers and other home improvement experts in Charleston a question: If you had a magic wand, how would your home or garden be different tomorrow? Here's what they said.


Elizabeth Beak, founder, Crop Up: I would have a lot more fruit trees and vegetables, like asparagus, crops that take more than one season to grow. Then I could have a long-term relationship with them. I am usually working with institutions, private residences, nonprofts and schools or creating a program for a community. Most of the time, I don't know if we will have the land to work on the next season.

Susan Epstein, tours manager, Charleston Horticultural Society: I would get those spring bulbs that are sitting in my refrigerator planted. (They've been there for a month.) I've got narcissus and species tulips, which come back every year. Dutch hybridized tulips only last one season. They are beautiful, but they are just too much work for me. Life's too short. I want something that is going to reward me year after year.

Pat Harpell, founder, South Carolina Herbal Society: I would have a beautiful hand-painted mural of a beautiful floral tropical garden (painted) on the back wall of my house. If I can't have that, I'd like a group of people to come in and weed, please.

Interior designers

Sandra Ericksen, interior designer, Sandra Ericksen Design: I would change my kitchen. I would update the appliances to stainless steel. We live in a house built in 1989 and it has all the original appliances. They are all black and work fine, but they just won't die and I get to deal with the pretty things all day long. The cabinets, we have painted white, but I would give them a fresher look with brass, not shiny like in the '80s, but more of a burnished brass. The countertop, I would go with the quartz, which has such carefree maintenance, instead of the granite, which has to be maintained. They are coming out with such pretty designs.

Sandra Gaylord, interior designer, Gaylord Design: I would change my kitchen. I would lean more toward current cabinet styles. I would have more open shelves and fewer upper cabinets. It would feel open, happy, new and fresh. I always lean toward those wonderful warm whites because they represent happy, warm and new. I would bring in brass instead of polished nickel. Even the toe kicks would be brass. I would bring in some light green to reflect the greens in my backyard. It would all go so well with brown hardwood floors. I would feel younger and it would look cleaner.

David Huckabee, interior designer, Southeastern Galleries: I would add a Tibetan rug with corals, greens and blacks and a new fabric-covered sectional sofa in neutrals in my den and a fitted coverlet in creams and blacks with Roman shades in correlating fabrics in my bedroom. Those are the things that would add beauty and enjoyment to the two rooms that I live in the most.

Caroline deVlaming Farrior, interior designer, deVlaming Design: I would love to rewallpaper my bedroom. I already have wallpapered it in a dark red with gold fleur-de-lis design because I thought I wanted it to be dark like a cave for sleeping. Now that I've lived with it for three years, I want it to change it to Beaufort Damask in ivory by Thibaut because I want it to be light and bright like a cloud.

Home improvement

Pete Loy, owner of Citadel Enterprises: I would expand the kitchen, adding about 46 square feet. I'd replace all of the cabinets with a high-quality factory-made cypress ones with glass doors and indirect LED lighting. Right now, I have laminate counter tops and I would replace those with quartz.

Van Herridge of Rapid Repairs: I'd redo the downstairs bathroom. I'd get rid of the sand-colored fiberglass surround and tub and put some kind of ceramic tile or porcelain on the walls and floor. It would have accents and splashes of color. And I'd put in a cast-iron tub instead of the fiberglass one that's been there about 15 years. It still functions but it's not very pretty. My wife, Vicki, would have picked out the colors."

Ricky Spell, owner, Residential Tech: I would have organized my garage. It would have to have built-in shelves and cabinets. I would like to have one wall with nothing but a set of closets with doors where I could store all of my things by category and the dust would not get to them.