Full House Renovation – Westside Farmhouse

If I am to be honest, when the homeowner called me in the Spring of 2014, then again about 6 months later, and again another 6 months later, I thought this project was not really going to happen. Who knew it was about to be one of the most fun projects with a wonderful family full of kindness, good values, and complete trust in their designer!I want to set a realistic expectation right away, we started the process in 2015 and these photos were captured Spring 2018, at the point of completion. A major home renovation is a long process, may include breaks, and the more laid-back the schedule is, the more successful the project will become. This project definitely cold have been faster, but we took it slow and did the design process in phases. This allowed me to really get to know the family, and fully understand their needs as we worked together and became friends.

Living Room – Before – Originally, this home was centered through an empty, unused space that looked directly at the living room , and to the right was the kitchen.


This large existing beam was not structural – it was just for show.


That slight bump-out on the wall shows where the chimney is, and just beyond this room is the original kitchen from the 1920’s!


As adorable as a 1920’s kitchen is…functional, it was not. This family was bursting at the seams trying to make their kitchen work.


The red door leads to the basement. Not how, the cabinets slant to make room for the door!


The decorative molding was cute in a grandma sort of way, but blocked light from coming in!


This space was originally the dining space, just off the kitchen. These spaces were later combined to create the new living room!


We love the windows here, and these were a key consideration when making this room a part of the entry flow.

 This home instantly became very personal for me because it is so much like my own home – with the 1920’s farmhouse styling and need for an upgrade while preserving the original charm. We knew coming into the space that the family wanted to move their kitchen to where the living room currently was and the dining behind it. So, we had a head start. However, we needed to fine tune the layout of these spaces and determine the best route to expanding the downstairs bathroom.Concept DevelopmentOur first step was to sketch it all out. The real challenge was the upper floor preserve three bedrooms and add a bathroom in an already small space. I lost track of how many versions I did before presenting!

We talked about moving the chimney in one option and altering the stairs.

 We also discussed a different approach to the stairs, bringing them up to code. One option was to change the roofline, allowing unusable space to become usable. Another option was to bump the roofline up on one side of the house only, saving a bit of money and still gaining space. Finding room for a bathroom when a roof can be bumped up is excruciatingly difficult….but….In the end, I think this was the closest to what ended up happening. Rarely is the concept what the finished design ends up looking like!We also developed an early look at materiality based on the homeowner’s personal style and the aesthetics of the home.Design DevelopmentWe homed in on the lower plan pretty quickly and begin developing the kitchen design. We had several options here too, but this was the one that landed on:YOU MAY LOOK AT THESE PHOTOS AND SAY, WAIT – I JUST LOOKED AT THE GALLERY AND SO MUCH IS DIFFERENT! MAYBE AFTER SEEING HGTV SHOWS WHERE WE LOOK AT A DRAWING AND THE DRAWING LOOKS IDENTICAL TO THE AFTER SHOT (I LOVE CANDACE OLSON, BUT HER DRAWINGS ARE MOST DEFINITELY GENERATED AFTER THE PROJECT HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED AND USING A PHOTOGRAPH TO TRACE).While this is very much what ended up happening, several changes did still happen from here. An important thing to consider when working with a designer is that designs aren’t perfect from round #1, they are constantly changing and evolving to reflect what we learn from the owner as we go!So many steps happened in the evolution of this kitchen-zoning to ensure that the space could be used comfortable and with function and consideration for what the owner’s needed to store in each opening, heights of cabinets, working with the windows, door style, final colors, selections of appliances. I could go on forever….and that was just the kitchen. This entire home was completely renovated!During this phase, we began looking more closely at the home’s details – the ceilings upstairs and how we could raise them and align the spaces to the new shape of the ceilings.The downstairs bath ended up changing pretty tremendously from this go! Sadly, the finishes I applied didn’t look nearly as good in the rendering as they did as separate photos!Construction Documents and ImplementationThis phase tends to be less exciting because it becomes so technical, but by now we had finalized the materiality throughout and were ready to put this into what is essentially an instruction guide for the contractor to use. In this case, the contractor was the homeowner – and while I don’t typically encourage this, he did a fantastic job. Honestly, I think it was very stressful for him and his family, but they pulled it all together quite well, and were very good about continuing the conversation with us through implementation so that we could ensure that the design intent was carried through to the end.The homeowner often communicated through photos to get clarification on paint placement, lighting placement, etc.Templating for the counters is important because it ensures that everything is level, and flush to the wall, in the case of any wall or cabinet imperfections. This is also where the fabricator gets specs on the sink for the hole in the counter.This was a proud moment when stopping by to see how things were going and viewing the wonderful job on the tiles and cabinetry.Thank you Catie Bergman Photography for the wonderful shots as usual!This may have been the most satisfying project I have done to-date. Having such trust from the homeowners and feeling such design freedom led to a truly beautiful space that fit the homeowners functional and aesthetic needs. I am so proud to have played such a large role in the rediscovery of this perfect little farmhouse!Click here for the link to Rachel’s blog.

Remodeling a Life in Atlanta, GA

Our client had not only recently gone though a divorce, but quite literally, had her ceiling cave in on her. Due to years of neglect, the plaster ceiling in her office completely fell, just missing her by minutes.This was exactly the impetus that she needed to change her life around. Through the process of renovating, updating, and refreshing her home, she was able to leave the past behind and step into a new phase of life with a beautiful home in which she fell back in love.Not much was left untouched in her Atlanta home, every room was redone and the construction and furnishings were all managed by our firm. What started with new ceilings resulted in a major makeover throughout the house with the end result being a colorful and spirited home that finally reflects the homeowner’s personality.A dated family room was in dire need of a facelift.Design Process – We started with the TV and newly acquired art as our focal point and adjusted the layout for easy conversation and lounging. New lighting, comfortable furnishings and a rug were added as well as light controls for the windows.The end result is a cozy space for the family to relax and unwind.We turned this once very beige powder room into a stunning jewel.KitchenThe kitchen was transformed by simply painting the existing cabinets and incorporating a lighter color palette. More space was created by adding a banquette to the existing island and creating a casual dining nook. this also allowed utilization of the previously un-functional table area for more cabinetry and a desk. Feminine, beautiful and functional.  Dining RoomThe plaster ceiling in the dining room was also suspect so it too was removed but in its stead a wood ceiling was installed. Liming the wood added softness and the new wall trim added to the sophistication of the room. We reused the clients dining set but reupholstered the chairs and added removable slip covers for entertaining options. New custom curtains, lucite hardware, lighting, art and a rug complete the look. Living RoomNew everything for the living room as well – including a coordinating ceiling with the dining room. A cool color scheme warmed up with limed wood floors, brass accents, and grounded with a stunning rug. Existing upholstery was brought to life with new fabrics and paint. Post/Design Credit: D. John Design

Transformation: Tempered and Tonal Great Room

Before… After…Lifestyle updates, such as this family home on Chicago’s North Shore, are earning Susan Brunstrum and her team at Sweet Peas Design rave reviews from her clients. For empty nesters staying put in their homes, Susan relies on the “RE principle.” She RE-purposes, RE-finishes and RE-uses. In this great room, Susan blended elements of the client’s existing, traditional décor – the Habersham cocktail table, black media unit and the sofa table – with transitional colors and furnishings to create a quieter, more moderated look. Susan and her team chose a color palette of taupe, gray and ivory and they selected clean-lined furnishings juxtaposed with the clients’ heavier pieces. Specialty painting (RE-finishing) the fireplace wall paneling in a soft, mushroom gray, made a dramatic impact. It blends beautifully with the existing wall color and river stone surround, while still drawing attention to the handsome millwork. The new gray sectional has more seating than the previous sofa and loveseat and is slightly elevated off the floor on ivory legs. The pair of swivel chairs is a Sweet Peas Design hallmark – they can turn to face the fireplace or the sofa. An art enthusiast, Susan encourages her clients to choose original artwork for their homes, such as the muted painting above the fireplace by Donna Hughes.Before…After…The graceful glass column lamps flanking the clients’ weathered and treasured sofa table is a marriage of vintage and chic, warm and cool. The same contrast is echoed in the new table accessories and the ornate fireplace screen beyond which we RE-used. In place of the clients’ traditional rug (which was RE-purposed in the dining room), a chunky gray, tone-on-tone striped rug anchors the space.Before…After…This cushioned bench, where Rocky contemplates a morning snooze, is one of a pair flanking the media unit, which was RE-used. The geometric fabric of the bolster pillows brings a touch of pattern to the room. This same fabric was used in the adjacent breakfast room on the window treatment panels.Says, Susan, “We kept the existing paint color (Benjamin Moore HC-39) yet changed the room temperature from warm to cool. Not easy to accomplish! And, the home still has traces of traditional elegance, but it is more RE-laxed.”Great Room Selections Area Rug Stark Floor lamps Arteriors Two benches Pearson Bench fabric Coraggio Two swivel chairs Jessica Charles via Baker Chair fabric Lee Jofa via Kravet Nesting tables Oly Ottoman Custom, via Nelson Upholstery Studio Fabric Opuzen via Anthony Inc. Sectional sofa Pearson Sectional fabric Opuzen Specialty painting fireplace Fairy Dust Creations Artwork, fireplace Donna Hughes via Bradley showroom 

Kitchen & Bathroom – Before & After

It was a marvelous project. It’s a KITCHEN and BATHROOM in a co-op apartment that happens to be in a townhouse on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan. This client has a duplex. The rear of the Parlor and 2nd floor.

It was a complete GUT renovation for a dated kitchen and bathroom. In addition to new cabinets, appliances, lighting and stone, MOST significant was pushing the ceiling heights back to the original 13′ — re-routing all the electrical supply and HVAC.

BEFORE (Kitchen)Kitchen AFTER (Kitchen) BEFORE (Bathroom)Bathroom AFTER (Bathroom)

Westchester Townhouse Bathroom

This bath is the ultimate in a compact spa experience. The linear quality of our tile design precipitates your thoughts of bubbles and suds. I love the focal point of the mosaic leaf pattern that we used to create a deco panel on the back shower wall. Glass subway tiles, while glass floor tiles and a soothing shade of blue green paint are counterbalanced by a pure white custom vanity and bench. The steam shower offers a wonderful bench in ming green. We commissioned an artist to create the triptych on the vanity wall which is called “Sea foam” and was hand painted. The panels float on the wall in specially designed cleats.