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Four years ago when Mike Chervanick’s carriage-style house was being built in Reading, he knew the ‘’look’’ he wanted for the master bedroom and bath. But the overall design throughout the entire house he left up to his mother, Cathy Chervanick, owner of Cathy Chervanick Decorative Painting in Bern Township.  

Mike, who is big on function, knew he wanted a classic look without any clutter.  And Cathy, who has 26 years of design experience, knew without reservation how to achieve it for him.  

She started by selecting fixtures such as rubbed oil bronze and black hardware to echo the utilitarian ‘’carriage’’ theme of the house.  Years ago, a carriage house was an outbuilding used for storing horse-drawn carriages. Today, the term is used more casually to describe contemporary home styles that have some kind of living space above the garage.  

Time to Relax

For the master bath, Cathy chose a neutral color pattern with very little contrast in the way of permanent colors.  She treated the walls using multi-layers of neutral plaster tones that were waxed for a soft patina finish. The walls were completed in just two days; the entire project took less than three weeks. 

“The overall look is organic,” says Cathy, who selected natural stone flooring and a mocha-wood vanity.  The brushed nickel (on the fixtures) with its absence of sheen also relays a nondescript presence of functionality, she adds. 

The room features a walk-in closet, whirlpool bath, his and hers sinks and spacious tiled shower. The shower walls and door, made by Wyomissing Glass, West Reading, were completed last because they had to be custom built. Delta fixtures, for their quality and clean lines, were selected for the shower, tub and sink area. The toilet area is enclosed for complete privacy. 

The guest bath—with its dark color theme and highly textured plaster walls—is very different than the master bath. “The metallic color in the base makes it pop!” says Cathy, who wanted to add more drama to this room. “It has color,” she continues, “but it is still subtle enough to be considered neutral to complement the beautiful Peruvian stone that is through the house.” 

Mike, 30, a human resources information systems manager at Godiva Chocolatier and owner of Chevrock Property and Construction Services, Reading, was a bachelor when he purchased the house.  He now lives there with his wife, Terri, 28, a nurse at Reading Hospital & Medical Center. 

Cathy believes that Mike and Terri’s tastes will evolve into their own style and will be translated into accents and decor when they see fit.  “One of the things I tell my kids is if they need my help, I am available, but it has to be their style, not mine,” she says. 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

When Chris and Alexis Rakoczy of Wernersville began planning the color scheme of their custom-built, traditional-style home, they agreed on blues, yellows and different shades of grey. “We went through many, many samples of grey paint before we picked the right one,” says Chris. 

For their master bathroom they both agreed on shades of blue. “The color of the bathroom was really important,” Chris continues. “We wanted it to be calming and also to flow with the other colors in the house.”

Also, the couple wanted a beach retreat feel, but they didn’t want to use obvious shore-themed accents. To achieve the look, Chris used a picture of a bathroom that she liked and then custom-designed her own version of it. She played with the picture by changing colors, tiles, cabinets and other elements in Photoshop on her computer.  After hours of research and meticulous detail, Chris shared her interior design plan with her builder and cabinet maker, hoping that they would be able to do the work.  After months of construction, Chris says she was more than pleased with the result and that “it looked exactly like [her] picture!”

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According to Chris, Jason High at Dutch Wood Kitchens in Myerstown went through countless versions of the drawing, making little tweaks to perfect the cabinets. “They did all of the cabinets in our entire house and we never, ever once heard the word ‘no’ to a single request that we made,” Chris shares.  To get the cabinets to match, Jason created a version of Chris’s work in his company’s software program.  “We make everything from scratch, so it is no problem to copy off of pictures,” he shares.

For color and design work, Cathy was called in to paint intricate patterns on the ceilings in the great room and dining room and to paint the walls in the master bedroom and powder room.  

“Chris’s love of blue wound up in unexpected places,” Cathy says. “It takes a strong commitment to go bold and incorporate blue into custom cabinetry and granite.’’

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River Rocks

Sometimes all it takes is one great feature to carry out a certain look or color in a room. For Chris, it was cabinet knobs made of river rocks that she had custom made to complement the tile work around the whirlpool tub.  

Picking a great bathtub was the couple’s primary focus, though. For the ultimate in luxury and comfort, they selected an MTI Caribe Infinity tub with radiant heat and chromatherapy (color therapy).  A remote control Roman Tub filler assures that the water is the right temperature and volume level.  

The couple’s IO Digital shower spa system came with multiple body sprays and shower heads that can be preset for temperature and water volume level. “All you do is press a button on a remote control to have the shower turn on to the exact right temperature and water pressure,” says Chris. “The system also blinks to let you know when the water has reached the right temperature.”
The room with his and hers cobalt blue glass vessel sinks on Italian marble has high ceilings and an abundance of natural light. It is equipped with radiant flooring, hidden electrical outlets, a Dacor towel warmer, an iPad music system and a TV (hidden behind a mirror).   

The Right Builder

Chris and Alexis chose Elite Home Builders Inc. in Leesport to achieve their dream home, which took about two years to build.  “Allen, the owner, was great!” Chris says.  “He accommodated all of our requests for the bathroom and the whole house, and everything turned out even more amazing then we had expected.”

Allen Henn, president of Elite, specializes in custom, higher-end buildings. “Chris and Alexis’s project was very complex and challenging, not only for the building portion, but for the design and engineering needed prior to construction,” he says. 

The powder room, he says, like the master bathroom, posed many challenges from reinforcing the wall to hanging the custom-made vanity to installing electric eyes to operate the modified waterfall faucet. The cement sink, according to Chris, was custom made in Arizona.

Cathy did the faux finish on the walls. The finish, she says, combined a very soft undertone of metallic peeking through just here and there with depth coming from a wood-toned glaze.

“They wanted a Zen feeling in this room,” she continues. “There really is a wonderful sense of balance, harmony and relaxation as you enter it. The water comes on automatically and it gently flows onto pebbles in the sink.  It looks and feels like a gentle rain.’’

And it doesn’t stop there. Even the family’s pampered pups, Molly, 5-and-a-half years old, and Bailey, 5, have their own bath. This charming space located in the mud room features an above ground stainless steel tub with pull out wooden steps. Custom tile work with irresistible images of the two beagles adds life to the backsplash. A whimsical chandelier with glass crystals and beagles sets off the room with oodles of glamorous fun. 

Finally, Make it Your Own

Just one small modification can pick up the mood of an old, standard bathroom. Start with a coat of paint. “It’s the single, most cost-effective way to improve the bath,” says Cathy. She also suggests painting a tired vanity and replacing hardware, faucets and towel bars. For drama in the tub area, use eight-foot length draperies. You will still need a shower curtain liner, but the drapes would be stationary, as Cathy suggests for a fresh new look.


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This article appears in the November 2012 issue of Berks County Living

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Cathy Chervanick

Toni Reece: Hi there. This is Toni Reece. Welcome to the Get Inspired! Project. Today I am joined by a lovely lady. Cathy, would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Cathy Chervanick: My name is Cathy Chervanick. I am a resident of beautiful Bern Township in Berks County. I was born as a coal cracker in Mount Carmel, and we moved to this lovely area in 1986. I’m married to my high school sweetheart, Tom, and have three children.

I started my business as a custom stenciler over 25 years ago. The business expanded to include interior design, staging, exterior and interior color consulting, custom wall design, hand painting, specialty paint finishes, murals, designer faux artistry effects for commercial and residential uses.

Some of my services include the design consulting specialty plaster finishes, Venetian plasters, wall glazing, marbling, wood graining, murals, custom stenciling, gilding textures, faux artistry, dimensional stenciling, patinas, leather, and multilayered applications combining the above. It may sound a little Greek to you, Toni, but I make sense of all these beautiful textures and see what’s really appropriate for the individual client.

Toni: I see. It does sound Greek to me, because I am very illiterate in that area, but it sounds to me as though you are brilliant, and I’ve also seen some of your work, which is absolutely gorgeous. Let’s get into the first question of the Project. What does inspiration mean to you?

Cathy: I find inspiration when I go outside, Toni. I have a keen awareness of my surroundings, whether it be the moss growing through the sidewalk or the patina of the copper that’s on a rain gutter or part of a roof on a home or building. Inspiration is the ember that fuels my creativity. Nature inspires me, totally, whether it be the formation of puffy clouds or the peeling bark of a tree.

Inspiration is standing at VF Outlet last Saturday – it was a brilliant, brilliant day outside – and I stood there in the parking lot with my fan deck held high to the sky, trying to color match the sky. I probably looked a little strange to those surrounding me, but it’s what I do. The blue was so vibrant that day, and it was evident that as hard as we try, the colors of nature aren’t found in a fan deck. They’re found in enjoying the beauty of that moment; that fleeting, reflective moment and God’s gift to this beautiful world provides the inspiration for me to be creative.

As an artist and designer, I have the joy of looking at things a little differently – where others see falling rain, I’m inspired to create a wall finish that will use glass and paints to reflect the image etched in my mind of falling rain. Where others see a freshly fallen tree, I see a coffee table top. Where others see a shell, I see a pearl-inspired paint combination. Inspiration is knowing that nothing is unrealistic. Inspiration lets me embrace my childish wonder and curiosity, and allows me to color outside the lines and think outside the box. Inspiration allows me to create. I learn. I grow. I do.

Toni: Thank you so very much for that answer, Cathy. You’ve really given a lot of thought to this question, and there was a lot in that answer that I would love to be able to dive into. What I hear the most though is all about color. You are inspired by color, whether it is the bark on a tree or it is that sky – whatever it is that you’re looking at, that inspiration comes to you in the form of vibrancy and color.

Cathy: That’s correct, Toni. Not only the vibrancy, but it’s the textural relationships that I see in nature. Going back to that bark tree – how can I translate that texture to a visual surface that might be used in an environment, whether it be at home or commercial environment?

Toni: Building upon that, how do you put that type of inspiration into practice in Berks County?

Cathy: Last Saturday at the VF Outlet, looking at the sky. I was working on a sky mural for a client in Berks County, and just making some color adjustments and just visually making a note of how on Monday, two days later, I was going to translate, my vision, my afternoon out shopping turning into a resource for referencing the cloud formation that I was going to be executing that following workday Monday.

Toni: So really, it never leaves you, does it?

Cathy: No, it doesn’t. It’s surrounding me all the time. It’s so awesome that for over 25 years that my career has allowed me to get my wonderful Berks County clients excited about color – and not just antique white. It seems as though back in the 80s, it was either blue, mauve, or antique white. Now what I do is really entice people to see what makes them happy, and how interpreting their visions for their own home environment or commercial environment will result in the most pleasing interior atmosphere that we could possibly imagine. It doesn’t necessarily have to be bright, bold colors. It can be subtle colors with different nuances that would translate to a pleasant surrounding. Every day I awake knowing that somewhere in Berks County and beyond I’m making someone’s home or office environment a better place to be inspired in.

Toni: Who in Berks County inspires you?

Cathy: On a very personal level, Toni, my children. Mike, Dan, and Marie have inspired me. As children, they believed that anything was possible. They had to contend with me writing on every one of their school books and copybooks that famous Aristotle quote, “Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”

As adults, they matured in such a way that they are showing me how to become a better person by their example. They know me in a way that no one else has. They opened me to things that I never knew existed. They drove me to insanity, and they pushed me to my depths. They are the beat of my heart, the pulse of my veins, and the energy in my soul. They are truly who inspires me in Berks County. They’re 31, 29, and 27 now, and we’re still learning from each other how to be better persons and better citizens of our community.

Toni: Cathy, the way that they have been surrounded by your inspired sense of color and texture and your creativity, has that flowed into their upbringing?

Cathy: Yes. I would say that they have looked beyond what is to be expected of them, and they’ve taken it a step further. As I have always encouraged them to take risks, to take a flying leap, and sometimes you don’t know what is certain, and it’s with that sense of adventure that I look at things and they do as well.

I have to tell you that they are a source of pride for me, and just living in an environment where we really did paint outside the lines has allowed them to grow and mature and to take some steps with their career that others maybe would be afraid to.

Just like when I’m working on a project, whether it be an interior design project, sometimes you have to think beyond what is expected. It’s a journey. It’s an adventure. That’s what I’ve always told them – each day is an adventure. It’s kind of our family mantra.

Toni: But it is really interesting how things go together and run parallel, and that’s what’s so great about this Project and has been really fantastic about it in the past, which is when you think about what inspires you in your creativity and the beauty of things and the texture and coloring outside the lines and encouraging people to take risks with their color to think a little bit differently, you’ve applied that same creative thinking and inspired way of being to your children, and they’ve applied that maybe not to a career like you have, but in their way of life – that’s pretty magnificent. What do you want your legacy to be?

Cathy: For me, Toni, I guess I like to speak of others more than myself. Those who know me know that I’m passionate about what I do. I think I’d like to be remembered for helping others and never putting myself first, personally or even professionally. I would love folks to remember that there is color beyond antique white. I would love people to remember the laughter and the joy when I played with paint, the pride when I spoke about my family, and the ability to contribute to my community something which is much, much bigger than myself.

Toni: Cathy, it has been an honor and a privilege to talk to you today.

Cathy: Toni, it’s been a pleasure to speak with you and share these great questions on being inspired.

Toni: Thank you so much for being part of the Project. 

This article appears in the November 2012 issue of Berks County Living