Designer Lookbook: Jessica Helgerson’s Authentic Mid-Century Remodel

When Portland interior designer Jessica Helgerson faced the daunting task of renovating a mid-century treasure, her first question was: “What would Saul do?”

The residence in question, the Feldman House, was designed by local architect Saul Zaik in 1956. The wood-clad home, which features a sensationally low-slung gable roof and floor-to-ceiling glass walls, was suffering from a bit of an identity crisis: The kitchen with cheap white laminate cabinets had been raised so it was not level with the adjacent floors, and the ceilings in the bathroom were taller than in the master bedroom.

And that was just the beginning. “There was a real disconnect between the front and the back of the house,” Helgerson recalls. “The living room was lovely and relatively unchanged, but the back of the house got progressively funkier.”

The interior floor plan, which had been altered over the years by a series of misguided remodels, lacked cohesion and seemed to detract from Zaik’s original vision – an experimental but harmonious marriage of indoor and outdoor spaces.

Helgerson made it her mission to be authentic to that vision, “to use materials that felt of the area” and make it feel as if the home had not been remodeled. “We weren’t slavishly recreating the past,” she says, “but we really were trying to think about the vintage of the house, and the goal of the house, and to be respectful of that when we were designing.”

A significantly different plan

Presented with three design plans, the young family who had purchased the home decided to go with “the most significantly different plan, which was the one we were advocating for,” Helgerson recalls.

That meant replacing the wooden shelves that had been removed from the living room wall, adding new windows, and overhauling the kitchen with new birch cabinetry and a custom screen that mimicked the original front door.


A mud room, which solved the problem of a front door and garage door that met in the same spot, was later added, along with a carport entry.

As the family oversaw the progress, Helgerson studied up on the little details that characterized Zaik’s work – his use of brass, and how his doorjambs climb past the doors, then meet a panel. The family room, which had an awkward post in the middle, was ultimately shrunk back to its original size, which in turn allowed the master bedroom to be relocated away from the noise of the children’s bedrooms. Speaking of those bedrooms, all were resurfaced to be in sync with the rest of the house.

“We don’t try to put our stamp on it,” Helgerson says of the vintage home remodels she tends to take on, “but then I hear, ‘Gosh, I can tell it’s one of your projects.’” This time, the original architect might disagree.

Get the look at home

  • Hire a professional. Renovating a vintage home is “tricky, and not everybody gets it,” says Helgerson. “We see a lot of funny stuff.”
  • Hold back a bit. “Some restraint is a good thing,” says Helgerson, who aims to have all the materials she’s picked for a home “fit into a really small bin, and all look good together when we dump it out.” Even for a really big house, “ideally the palette is consistent enough that it all looks nice.”
  • Embrace the space. “I advocate for letting spaces be … what they are,” says Helgerson, who doesn’t believe in painting a dark basement “sunny yellow” or trying to create a moody room in one that gets a ton of natural light. “Let spaces speak to you and dictate what they want to be.”


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Designer Lookbook: Jessica Helgerson’s Authentic Mid-Century Remodel was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: VW Fowlkes’ Simple-Meets-Sensual D.C. Home

In early 2011, VW Fowlkes, principal and founder of Fowlkes Studio in Washington, D.C., was struggling with a conundrum.

His clients, a husband and wife in their mid-forties, didn’t see eye to eye on the new design for their two-story, three-bedroom home in the historic Cleveland Park neighborhood.

The husband, who works in tech, “was a committed modernist who wanted everything white and super clean,” says Fowlkes. And the wife, who runs a public relations firm, “wanted everything organic and sumptuous and sensual with a natural patina. So we weren’t sure how to reconcile the directions we were getting.”

Bold patterns, rich textures

Choosing to tackle the kitchen first, VW chose a Mediterranean-style concrete tile that had a “timeless quality to it,” he says. “The graphic print was so bold, you could do nothing else to the space and it would still feel visually rich.”

The husband saw nothing modern in it, dismissing the rope-tie print as fuddy-duddy, but in the end, the pattern won out, and the solid walnut cabinet came next.

The wife “claimed to be super picky about the kinds of grains and wood species” she liked, Fowlkes says. “She said she wanted something natural, but she didn’t want it to look like a condo.”

After locating a woodworker who collected trees uprooted by Hurricane Irene, Fowlkes visited the property with his client, who walked around and chose the walnut tree of her choice for the cabinet.

The Maryland-based woodworker placed the wood in a drying kiln for four months so it wouldn’t warp, cup, or check while crafting the cabinets. Fowlkes also reinforced the back of the slab with steel rods for additional protection against curling.

“It’s clean and modern, but it’s also very sensual,” Fowlkes says of the cabinets, which feature a live edge on the bottom that reflects the tree’s shape. “We wanted to really express the nature of the material we were using. You can see some marks from the chainsaw at the edge where it was cut.”

The same woodworker provided the materials for the kitchen’s window seat and sliding barn door. The light pendants, made by Sundance Company, were chosen for their transparency, since they wouldn’t block the view of the cabinets from the dining room. “They’re not overly or self-consciously modern,” Fowlkes says, adding that they were hardly expensive.

Spacious room, warm accents

Upstairs, Fowlkes converted the tiny three bedrooms into a single master suite, which features the same walnut millwork and custom bronze hardware as the kitchen. In the closet, a little bronze hook pulls out for hanging up clothes, and the wide-plank pine floors lend warmth to the airy, white space.

Nature meets modern

For the bathroom, Fowlkes sourced a porcelain-style floor from Architectural Ceramics that resembles a concrete material. The bathtub and raised sinks are from Montreal-based company WETSTYLE. As with the kitchen, the plumbing fixtures have a living bronze finish that appealed to the wife’s interest in nature.

“We wanted it to feel like the whole room was a white box, and we brought in the vanity and closets almost like we’d bring in a Steinway or your grandmother’s Chippendale,” Fowlkes says. “They weren’t necessarily things that had always existed in the house – they’re more like furniture.”

Get the look at home

Fowlkes explains how to achieve a streamlined look in your own home.

  • Protect the wood. “The trick with using slabs of solid wood is to keep it from warping or cupping,” he says. “It needs to be very dry. Our slabs were in a kiln for several months.” Another tip: Make sure your hinges are sturdy enough to handle the extra-thick doors.
  • Spend wisely. Of course you want to love your home, but you don’t have to break the bank for every doorknob, drawer pull, or faucet. Noting the Brazilian slate tile in the wall of the shower, Fowlkes says, “You can use simple materials, and you can find things that’ll look great and kind of recede that are inexpensive.”
  • Hide the cable box. This is a common mistake that many homeowners make, Fowlkes says. “We forgot about them, and we had to go back and figure it out after the fact.” Not fun.


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Designer Lookbook: VW Fowlkes’ Simple-Meets-Sensual D.C. Home was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: Summer Thornton’s Mediterranean Home Makeover

Interior designer Summer Thornton turned a newly constructed Mediterranean-style house in sunny Naples, FL into a beautiful vacation home, featuring refined decor and a soothing color palette.

“The homeowner wanted it to feel bright, casual, and elegant, so I steered the interior design toward more traditional furnishings and a light color palette with pops of color,” says Thornton of the second home.”It’s on a beautiful lot that backs up to water, so they’ve got amazing, peaceful views from the lanai and pool.”

Thornton was also tasked with seamlessly blending the Mediterranean architecture of the house with classic styling and relaxed, casual furnishings to create an abode that encapsulates “refined Florida elegance.”

Along with furnishing the home, the designer also helped with the interior architecture, choosing finishes throughout. And since it was a second home, Thornton also helped choose all the accessories, from the decorative tchotchkes down to the dishes.

“The homeowner wanted a space where they could have the whole family down for holidays and gatherings,” she says. “They’re grandparents, and wanted their grown kids and grandchildren to feel relaxed and comfortable.”

Hailing from the Midwest, the homeowners visit the home in the winter, and they wanted to keep the decorative elements elegant and not overly tropical.

Since the homeowner was gravitating toward a tranquil color palette of blue and white, Thornton used the color scheme throughout, from indigo fabrics to graphic wallpapers and Chinese ginger jars.

And as a nod to Naples’ gulf setting, Thornton incorporated tropical plants, like a fiddle-leaf fig tree, along with Audubon prints of herons and smaller decorative touches, like coral.

“In total, I think we had more than 200 pieces of coral – about 600 pounds, I believe – and over 50 pieces of blue-and-white pottery interspersed throughout the home,” she says.

Thornton used metallic accents, wood, textured wallpapers, and natural fibers to add warmth and a layered look to the home.

“A few of my favorite features include the flora and fauna hand-painted panels in the foyer, the blue-and-white Granada tile backsplash in the lanai, and the faux-bois wallpaper in one of the guest bedrooms,” she says.

Get the look at home

  • Look to nature for inspiration. “Too often I see homes full of beige and tan because people think it will go with anything,” says Thornton. “But if you look at nature, there’s a variety of tones and colors and shades found throughout. Green and blue are so prominent in nature that the eye actually sees them as a neutral.” Thornton advises mixing and matching colors when choosing furniture, paint, and decorative elements.
  • Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. “Most homes I see are 80 percent complete,” says Thornton. “They have all the furnishings, all the must-have items, but they’re missing the touches that make a house feel like a home.” Layering and stacking decorative accessories gives a room a finished look. Starting a collection is a good way to amass items that can add personality to your home. “Once you do, your home will feel more personal, unique, and complete,” she says.
  • Mix your metals.“I’m a firm believer that kitchens often feel flat because everything matches too perfectly,” says Thornton. “By simply changing your cabinet hardware, you create a whole new look.” In this home’s kitchen, Thornton mixed three different pull styles, and used both brass and polished nickel.
  • Find pillows that pop.“Most of the upholstery in this home was white, so we made it pop with colorful pillows,” she says. Grab your favorite pillows and textiles, and layer them on your couch or bed to give your home an effortlessly collected look.

See more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Photos by Brantley Photography.


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Designer Lookbook: Summer Thornton’s Mediterranean Home Makeover was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: Jackson Thomas Interiors’ Classically Coastal Haven

A dated home on the James River in Williamsburg, VA was in need of a face-lift and a coastal touch to echo its waterside setting.

The home, located in Williamsburg’s beautiful Governor’s Land neighborhood, was gutted and updated with timeless materials. Wood floors were refinished in a darker stain, and the walls were painted in a creamy ivory.

While the walls were kept neutral throughout the home, color and personality pop in the fabrics and decor, thanks to the efforts of Jackson Thomas Interiors‘ owner and lead designer Christine Estep, and senior designer Stefanie Powell.


Drawing design inspiration from interior designer Barclay Butera’s coastal homes, the homeowner requested rooms filled with soothing shades of blue and white, organic textures, and brass. The homeowner also had several family antiques she wanted to incorporate.

“We focused on doing more of the blue and white shades in the great room, because they really pulled in the traditional feel that the homeowner was looking for, while also tying into the water,” says Estep.

The designers layered textures like wicker, seagrass, brass, and dark woods to warm up the cool, coastal color palette.

The living room’s fireplace facade was covered in a porcelain custom-blend tile with the appearance of a basket weave – a nod to the natural woven fibers used throughout the home.

Good enough to eat

In the kitchen, existing cabinets were updated with a coat of crisp white paint and accessorized with brass bamboo hardware. Berwyn from Cambria quartz countertops with cool gray veining were paired with a sea-glass backsplash.

For contrast, a butcher-block countertop was installed on the island, and oversized brass lanterns add drama and visual interest. Behind the cooktop, an antique tray was transformed into a piece of artwork, framed by sea-glass tile.

In the neighboring dinette, a banquette upholstered in turquoise and blue fabrics ties back to the sea-glass backsplash in the kitchen, paired with a more traditional wooden table and chairs.

Ready for guests

A grass-cloth wallpaper embellished with gold knots provides an elegant backdrop in the powder room. The cozy bathroom is furnished with a small vanity, topped with a copper sink that features a whimsical frog sculpture detail, along with a brushed-bronze faucet and mirror.

In the dining room, Estep covered the walls in grass cloth and introduced a deep orange to the blue-and-white color scheme to create a more formal atmosphere. Artwork collected by the homeowner adds an elegant and personal touch.

“For the dining room, the light fixture was a big launching point, because the homeowner liked brass, and it had a very nautical feel – like a ship’s wheel,” Estep adds.

Absolutely dreamy

In the master bedroom, all the furniture and accessories, from the window treatments to the pillows and furniture, were custom-made.

A vibrant peacock blue is paired with a subtle blue-and-ivory paisley fabric used to upholster the headboard and cornice boards. Behind the headboard, an accent wall covered in grass cloth adds subtle texture.

The biggest and most dramatic renovation project was the master bathroom, which was completely gutted and designed so the homeowners could age in place. Wainscoting painted in a cheery white is juxtaposed with a pearlized wallpaper by Fabrica.

Slip-resistant tiles were installed, along with heated flooring throughout the bath and shower. Cambria quartz tops the vanity and surrounds the tub. In the shower, a mix of marble and pearlized tiles are paired with aged brass fixtures, giving the master bath a luxe look.

Get the look at home

  • Use stone scraps. A small cut of granite or marble is an affordable and easy way to dress up and customize a ready-made vanity. “You can find a piece for next to nothing and have it cut to fit,” says Powell. The designers found a small remnant that they had cut to 30 inches wide for the powder room vanity.
  • Create cohesion with wall color. “In an open-concept home, we always suggest picking one color for common areas – the foyer, great room, corridors – to keep the space light and airy,” Powell explains. “In this home, we chose a shade that was a touch down from the trim color. It really expanded the homeowner’s space quite a bit.”
  • Layer texture and colors for personality. “You can make a monochromatic color scheme exciting by changing up your patterns and textures,” says Estep. “It can really make a space look unique.”

See more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Photos by Sara Harris Photography.


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Designer Lookbook: Jackson Thomas Interiors’ Classically Coastal Haven was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: Deidre Oliver’s Streamlined Master Bath

Designer Deidre Oliver, with Niwot, CO firm Oliver Designs, transformed her neighbor’s ’90s master bath into a contemporary spa sanctuary with high-end plumbing and beautiful finishes.

Oliver reconfigured the 432-square-foot bathroom’s layout to better utilize the center of the room, which had been empty, wasted space. The original layout consisted of an L-shaped vanity, above-mirror Hollywood lights, and quartz countertops.

Along with a contemporary freestanding soaking tub by Barclay, a beautifully designed double shower (with two entrances and a granite bench) was installed in the center of the space. “They wanted a big walk-in shower,” says Oliver.


Walls were painted in a light gray, and the floor trim a darker gray for contrast. “Gray walls with darker gray on the trim provide a beautiful visual contrast,” Oliver explains.


Structurally, another window was added to bring in more light, and heated ceramic tiles reminiscent of wood were installed throughout (even in the shower) to keep the bathroom warm and cozy while bathing on cold Colorado days. The shower wall was covered in large-format tiles to give it a clean and seamless look.

“The bathroom would’ve felt cold with all the tile and glass, so we contrasted with warm wood elements for balance,” says Oliver. “The wood provides a perfect organic counterpoint to the crisp lines of the walls and countertops.”


A new wood door with frosted glass gives bathers privacy, while also welcoming in natural light, and red oak cabinets were installed for the vanity, creating a “linen closet” for towels and toiletries.


Polished nickel Atlas Homewares pulls complement the Cifial faucets used for the sinks, bathtub, and shower head.


Decorative mirrors add a hint of glamour to the vanity, while sconces from Visual Comfort are hung at face height for optimal lighting when beautifying in front of the mirror.


Get the look at home

    • Layer your lighting. “You can’t rely on a single light source in a room,” says Oliver. “Sometimes you need ambient light, and other times you need task lighting to see your face. Dimmers are good for achieving all-around light, too.”
    • Choose large-format wall tiles. “These allow for fewer grout lines and give the shower a cleaner, more updated look,” says Oliver. “And they’re much easier to clean.”
    • Paint old oak trim. “This can really elevate and freshen up a space,” says Oliver. “White is a go-to choice for people, but if you’re a bit daring, consider painting trim a much darker color than the wall color.”
    • Balance hard and soft materials. “Anytime you can contrast hard elements – like stone, tile, countertops, and ceramic – with some wood elements, you provide a beautiful counterpoint to something that’s crisp and cool,” says Oliver. “The wood really warms up the space and makes it feel more inviting.

See more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Photography by S. Brenner.


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Designer Lookbook: Deidre Oliver’s Streamlined Master Bath was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: Rowland + Broughton’s Aspen Barn Studio

Colorado design firm Rowland + Broughton embraced original architectural elements and added new contemporary finishes to update a beautiful three-story dwelling in Aspen.

Located at the base of Red Mountain, the picturesque property consists of four parcels – two developed and two undeveloped. On an 8-acre parcels stands an 8,000-square-foot mountain home built in 1968 by Aspen’s first female architect, Ellie Brickham, and originally owned by Stein Eriksen, who helped form Aspen and its ski culture.

Rowland + Broughton updated the large mountain home to improve its functionality, and also renovated its neighboring barn structure, which sits on a 3.4-acre parcel and is connected to the main house by a subterranean tunnel. “It’s a place to read, think, and entertain,” says Rowland + Broughton senior project manager Sara Upton of the backyard retreat.

The barn studio, as the owners refer to the structure, was built in 1988; according to a building permit application, the barn itself probably dates to the early 1970s. The design firm didn’t do much to the stone exterior and interior of the studio, other than a little cosmetic maintenance.

“We left the original stone walls on the inside. We worked with them and tried to enhance them with lighting,” says Upton. “We embraced a lot of aspects that were already there.”

Inside, the design firm added new finishes and architectural accents, while keeping some of the existing interior elements to pay homage to the structure’s history. “It was important to meld the old and new within the space,” says Upton.

Updates that delight

The three-story, 3,197-square-foot studio includes an original 1970s green roof, along with a cozy kitchen, small bathroom, loft, and two-story library.

The downstairs originally housed a workout space, a reading room, and a wet bar. Rowland + Broughton transformed the workout area into a media room, where the family now gathers to watch movies and sports together.

The main floor includes the entry, living room, kitchen, and a sprawling deck with breathtaking views of the rugged Elk Mountains.

In the living area, Rowland + Broughton extended the millwork so it would complement the existing bookshelves.

“There were some pretty elaborate millwork pieces in the main two-story-high space, which featured fun carved animal heads from the former owners,” says Upton. “We wanted to keep some of that delight and work with it. Embracing that was important.”

Originally, the entry had heavy stone walls, so the design firm added plaster to lighten and brighten the space. They also added a lock to the original wooden Dutch door.

Rowland + Broughton updated the fireplace facade as well. While keeping the original firebox, moss rock was replaced with plaster, and a detailed metal surround was painted a crisp white, giving the room a more contemporary and clean look.

The original wood beams were cleaned up and refinished so they didn’t look as rustic. “We wanted the beams to play a role, but not be an attention-getter,” says Upton.

Bright spots

The kitchen and bathroom needed to be brought up to date as well. In the cozy kitchen, an 18-inch dishwasher, small cooktop, and refrigerator were added.

In the bathroom, carpet was replaced with wood flooring, and the walls were covered with 2-inch glass tiles. Using an all-white color scheme makes the small bathroom appear larger and brighter.

“We wanted to keep everything really light and white upstairs, then use more black for the subterranean space,” says Upton of the design concept. “When you descend, it’s all about dark and cool.”

The owners, who have impeccable taste, furnished the barn studio with an array of unique pieces. “Our clients have a high appreciation for design,” says Upton. “They were influenced by European culture and designs. They love Italian furniture, clean lines, and beautiful things that delight. They have very interesting pieces.”

Get the look at home

  • Strip out dated materials. Replace old-fashioned flooring, tile, and doors with architectural materials that are fresh and timeless.
  • Add solar shades. Installing solar shades cuts down on glare and allows you to appreciate views. “We did that for the two-story glass wall,” says Upton, who also replaced the expansive windows. “The sun just blasts in there. The shades make the home more energy-efficient.”
  • Beef up your storage. “Adding shelves is always a great way to improve the storage space within a home,” says Upton. “It’s a combination of adding drawers that can hide utilitarian things away, and open shelving as a place to show off pieces.”

See more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Photos by Brent Moss Photography.


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Designer Lookbook: Rowland + Broughton’s Aspen Barn Studio was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: Kerrie Kelly’s Subtle, Sophisticated Drama

At Kerrie Kelly Design Labs, our clients are anything but traditional. Though transitional style prevails in our Northern California neighborhood, we’re seeing more and more people gravitate toward a simple color palette, lots of great texture, and a few statement design elements.

Recently, we had a request for a fresh and feminine take on a builder home, and the outcome was the farthest thing from cookie-cutter.

The young couple who owns this home in Roseville, CA, just outside Sacramento, tossed around the idea of a simple and sweet aesthetic that mimicked their easygoing lifestyle.

The couple purchased the home in a builder community for its great location and proximity to the best schools, restaurants, and entertainment in the city. In an effort to break the mold of traditional colors and patterns often found in these suburban areas, our clients asked us to put a contemporary spin on their two-story space.

We worked with a neutral color palette to start – something to set a clean foundation that the couple can re-create and redecorate whenever they want.

We were inspired by the couple’s modern lifestyle and approach to art, colors, and prints. Our goal was to craft a space for them that echoed their eclectic style, but remained timeless for endless decor options down the road.

Most of the home is furnished in solid neutrals, like creamy beige with pops of metallic finishes and hardware. To add dimension, we opted for bold bursts of color and pattern in unexpected ways.

Upon entering the home, guests are greeted by a swath of pretty neutrals and feminine tones of blush and gold. But turning left, a big, bold black wall acts as the backdrop to a simply styled dining space, a testament to the couple’s yearning for something a little out of the ordinary.

Throughout the twists and turns of the home, flashes of feminine flair prevail, such as pink throw pillows, gold-accented lamps, and abstract art featuring strokes of gold, white, and blush to tie the room scenes together.

Upstairs, we painted a bold stripe on the master suite’s main wall, lending a touch of detail to an otherwise cleanly decorated space. The couple’s home office also remained simply styled, with clean lines via artwork and a sturdy statement desk.

We wanted the couple to walk into their space and know they were home. Each vignette and styled corner speaks to the couple’s love for art, music, color, and design. We were only too happy to create a subtle yet sweetly sophisticated home for them.

Take the full home tour:

Get the look at home

  • Incorporate lots of texture. Whether through window coverings, area rugs, or throw blankets, incorporating texture is integral to re-creating this look. Just because it’s neutral doesn’t mean it has to be one-dimensional!
  • Create dimension with varied tones. Blush, black, and white served as our foundation for the space. To make it feel more dynamic, we sprinkled in different shades and tones of our main color to expand our palette and create a layered effect throughout the home.
  • Don’t be afraid to be bold. Bold doesn’t have to be a brushstroke of black paint. If you only step a little outside your comfort zone and incorporate another pattern or a fun area rug, you’ll instantly feel reenergized.
  • Make it livable. Chances are you have a pet or a loved one or a family – or you actually live in your home! Incorporate technologies and materials into your space that are easy to maintain and clean. This home is chock-full of easy-to-clean fabrics, rugs, and surfaces to ensure the family spends more time enjoying their space than painstakingly cleaning it.


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Designer Lookbook: Kerrie Kelly’s Subtle, Sophisticated Drama was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: Board & Vellum’s Second Story Add-on

Bigger isn’t always better. In the case of this West Seattle remodel, the owners were set against a large, looming addition that they feared would overwhelm surrounding homes. They turned to Seattle design firm Board & Vellum, where they found the solution to their need for extra space.

In a surprisingly compact 740 square feet, their new addition incorporates space-saving techniques and unique design elements without overshadowing the neighbors.

The existing single-story home featured a finished basement, a small living room, two small bedrooms on the main level, an awkward entry, and few distinguishing features. “It just didn’t live large enough,” says Jeff Pelletier, principal at Board & Vellum. “There was no real breathing room at all.”

Understandably, the owners wanted more space, but they weren’t interested in sacrificing curb appeal to get it. Pelletier, who says he loves optimizing small spaces, was the perfect architect to take on the challenge.

A second story made the most sense to get the square footage the family needed, and Pelletier used a combination of bold structural choices and whimsical details to achieve the goal.

Moving up

A second-story addition naturally requires a new stairway to reach it. The typical approach of stacking the new staircase atop the basement set of stairs initially made a lot of sense, Pelletier says, but it “created a challenging second floor that didn’t really work.”

Instead, Pelletier and his team turned a former front bedroom into an entry hall, and placed the new stairway just inside the front door. Then, they added a large archway and glass cabinets between the entry hall and the adjoining living room.

A generous pass-through helps the room spill out into an adjoining space without adding any square footage, while double-sided glass cabinets increase the visual size of the room and help it feel larger. “It’s a great trick for small spaces, where you need storage and a more open feel,” Pelletier says.

Another of the home’s space-optimizing design elements is a 3-foot overhang of the second story at the rear of the house. Placing the bulk at the back of the house easily hides the added space, and also creates a welcome cover over the back deck and grill.

It’s the little things

While the bulk of the family’s new space came with the construction of the second story, a number of smaller design elements helped the family further realize their addition’s potential.

The two kids’ rooms in the new upstairs space offered the most potential for creative design. “The rooms didn’t have to be big, but they had to be interesting,” says Pelletier.

In the daughter’s room, he created a reading nook in a window seat, with built-in bookshelves and storage underneath. In the boy’s room, he opened up the attic to create a loft accessed by a wall-mounted ladder, and closet doors slide side to side instead of swinging open into the room.

Instead of adding doors to upstairs linen closets, Pelletier designed a series of drawers so the closet looks like a built-in cabinet. And in the kids’ bathroom, Pelletier held out for a bathtub that was just slightly smaller than a conventional tub (4 1/2 feet long versus 5 feet long) but fit just right in the available space.

“That extra 6 inches made all the difference,” says Pelletier. “Sometimes you have to look for solutions that are a little more custom but allow the home to feel larger.”

Make the most of your remodel

Sometimes small design changes are all it takes to let a small home breathe. Pelletier offers a few tips to homeowners looking to add space to their existing homes.

  • Turn an attic into loft space. Removing a ceiling to open up an attic can make small bedrooms feel larger. It also allows for the option of a sleeping loft – something kids especially love.
  • Maximize space with built-ins. Adding built-in nooks – such as the glass cabinet in the entryway of this West Seattle home – offers space to store linens and collectibles, while also creating a sight line between two rooms.
  • Blend two small rooms. Adding French doors between a small office and a small living area gives homeowners the option of combining the two. Swing the doors open to create a combined space, and close the doors when there’s work to be done.
  • Consider a finished basement. Remodeling an unfinished basement is a sure way to gain more space, and it’s usually less expensive than adding on vertically.

See more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Photos by John G. Wilbanks Photography


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Designer Lookbook: Board & Vellum’s Second Story Add-on was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: Rebecca Van’t Hull’s Colorful Weekend Retreat

A room with a view is always inviting, but you can’t overlook its interior. That’s what one family learned after rebuilding a weekend getaway on the West Arm Bay of Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka. They felt the new property lacked character, so they brought in designer Rebecca Van’t Hull. Her solution: more color – and lots of it.

Situated in Shorewood Lane, about 45 minutes west of Minneapolis, the weekend home struck Van’t Hull as a place where the owners could push design boundaries. The property’s sizable layout and stunning lakeside views also made it ideal for entertaining.

“In addition to a gorgeous master suite, the home features three bedrooms upstairs, with twin-over-full bunk beds in each, allowing up to 11 people to sleep on the top floor,” says Van’t Hull. “The lower level features 10 bunk beds and two trundle beds. The entire house can sleep 23 people easily.”

Bright ideas

Once the family agreed on a casual and coastal look – “Minnesota lake life is all about a casual and playful environment,” says Van’t Hull – the designer went full throttle on color.

She chose Benjamin Moore’s Bunker Hill Green, a muted take on the traditionally bright Kelly green, for the sleek kitchen cabinets. “It’s a natural choice, especially since the kitchen wasn’t the family’s everyday kitchen,” says the designer.

Planning the kitchen was easy, but maximizing the sleeping quarters and creating a user-friendly space that could accommodate several children at once proved to be more of a challenge. After gathering inspirational images, Van’t Hull to her problem to her brother, a custom cabinet- and furniture-maker based in New Orleans.

“We worked together to finalize the design for the space, which includes a cubby inside each bed for a light fixture and room to set down a glass of water or plug in a phone,” she says. The result is one of the most inviting – and incredibly stylish – bunk beds we’ve ever seen.

Van’t Hull went similarly bold in the bathrooms, installing a trough-style sink from Kohler in one of the larger spaces, which she expects will get plenty of use in the summertime.

She fashioned the upstairs powder room in a “preppy Americana look,” with a lipstick-red cabinet and white-and-navy striped wallpaper. With its classic white marble countertop, the cabinet feels unexpected, yet it somehow ties it all together.

“Often good design employs an eclectic mix of things both modern and old,” Van’t Hull notes. In the end, she says it’s all about balance.

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Get the look at home

Van’t Hull shares her tips to get an eye-catching look in your own home.

  • Be bold. That is, if you have the guts to follow through with your vision. “This will keep your home from looking mundane or typical,” the designer says, and in the end, it will be what stands out most. Van’t Hull says one of the touches she’s most proud of is adding several vibrant rugs throughout the home.
  • Get inspired. “Look for inspirational images to either emulate or share with your designer,” says Van’t Hull. It’ll help you define your vision and better explain your goals.
  • Have fun. “Acquire things that make you happy and tell a piece of your story,” says Van’t Hull. The Fay + Belle rug was rescued, bleached, cleaned, then overdyed in an eye-catching turquoise color. Now, the authentic accessory has a new lease on life, far from its origins in Nepal and Turkey.

See more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Photos by Troy Thies Photography


Home Improvement – Zillow Porchlight

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

Designer Lookbook: Rebecca Van’t Hull’s Colorful Weekend Retreat was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: Susan Jamieson’s Coastal Getaway

With an all-white color scheme and Moroccan decorative elements, this refined yet relaxed family vacation home in Florida’s Alys Beach offers an ideal coastal getaway. “We wanted to keep it minimal and light,” says designer Susan Jamieson of Bridget Beari Designs.

The homeowners, with whom Jamieson had worked on three other houses, had a definite goal in mind: wanted a no-fuss, comfortable getaway with casual open and airy spaces. And they asked Jamieson to incorporate cultural elements from Asia and Africa.

A warm welcome

At the home’s entrance, a stairwell makes a dramatic architectural statement with carved wood handrails reminiscent of rope, as well as floating steps and Moroccan-inspired molding framing the archway. Concrete candle canisters from Thailand add an ambient glow.

And at the top of the stairwell, sculptural metallic light fixtures twinkle like stars at night.

White Venetian plaster walls with a slight sheen give the interior of the home a clean and tranquil feel, while white-washed wood floors add warmth and texture.

“The challenge was doing an all-white house at the beach, where you will be entertaining people,” says Jamieson, who was conscious of the fabrics and textures she used in the home. Vinyl upholstery was used throughout so kids could sit down in their wet bathing suits without ruining fabrics. “We wanted things that we could wash and wipe off and not worry about,” says Jamieson.

Throughout the house, the designer eschewed rugs to make it easier for the homeowners to sweep up sand that would be trailed in from the beach. “It’s simple, clean, and easy for the homeowner to take care of,” Jamieson notes.

With an open and flowing floor plan, the unique home sprawls through four stories. An open living room seamlessly eases into the kitchen, where white oak cabinets in a gray-washed finish are set into the molded Venetian plaster. Luxurious Calcutta marble surfaces add to the kitchen’s clean and minimal look.

Cool and comfortable

In the family room, grass shades and ethereal white draperies hang from the ceiling, cloistering the room from the outdoors, while also welcoming plenty of natural light. An oversized wood coffee table anchors the living room, along with a sectional covered in washable linen. Jamieson accessorized the space with organic-looking cultural elements like a wooden hand chair from Noir, along with Indonesian accents.

“The homeowner likes a little bling,” says Jamieson, so she incorporated oversized sculptural light fixtures throughout to glam up the casual all-white space. In the living room, large black chandeliers add drama and visual interest to the airy crisp white space, while also emphasizing the height of the soaring ceilings.

“There’s a mix of modern glam in this beach house,” says Jamieson. “Mixing styles is more interesting.”

Step outside

From the terrace to balconies, outdoor living areas are plentiful in the vacation home. Retractable doors open from the living room out onto a balcony with casual rattan seating.

And off the kitchen, there’s a two-tiered patio with a raised dining area and pool on a lower terrace. The dining area’s banquette is topped with Sunbrella cushions, draperies frame the space, and Moroccan-inspired chandeliers add a far-off feel.

Inside, a television room for the kids is secluded by a Moroccan screen door, and spruced up with contemporary art, a lavender linen sofa by Verellen, and a glass-and-crystal chandelier.

In the powder room, earthy elements like a driftwood log and wood shelving pair with glamorous silver metallic tile.

On the third floor, the master bedroom and bath combine organic washed-wood finishes with crisp whites to create a relaxing retreat. The bedroom’s metallic table adds luxe texture, and a cabinet at the end of the bed tucks away a flat-screen television to keep views unobstructed.

A clean and contemporary master bath incorporates the same white oak cabinets in a gray-washed finish from the kitchen, and are paired with Silver Athens marble. Floating shelves and glass pendant lights keep the washroom pure and simple.

“We wanted to keep it minimal and free of fuss,” says Jamieson. The designer created a spa-like sanctuary by surrounding a contemporary Kohler freestanding tub with smooth river rocks.

Rest stop

In the other bedrooms of the house, Jamieson introduced subtle shades. A soft blue-and-white color palette makes for a feminine girl’s room that is accessorized with a rattan stool, African juju hat, and funky pendant lighting.

The boy’s bunk room is decked out in a gray-and-orange color scheme. Four white shiplap sleeping berths incorporate a ledge to plug in gadgets and a sconce for reading in bed. Sleeping bags in lieu of traditional bedding make for easy bed-making in the morning.

A sunny yellow-and-white guest room is glammed up with brass, from the bed frame to the curtain rods.

In the bathroom, natural surfaces like the limestone walls and gray wood cabinetry mix with sleek contemporary features like a trough sink, recessed mirror, and brass hardware.

On the fourth floor, a sitting room offers 270-degree views, with three walls of windows. A show-stopping gold zebra-print sofa makes a chic statement, and a chair covered in a washable linen slipcover and topped with a vinyl pillow offers up kid-friendly seating.

Get the look at home

  • Remove all your rugs. “That’s a way to keep the space nice and clean,” says Jamieson, who says this makes it easy to sweep up messes.
  • Experiment with vinyl. “It’s no longer your grandmother’s vinyl,” says the designer, who used the fabric throughout the home. “It comes in unique colors, and you can use it on kitchen chairs.”
  • Pare down. “Take away everything, accessory-wise, and then put it back in a very simple way,” says Jamieson. “Try to edit your room.”
  • In a neutral space, make a bold statement. “I always like to go big with chandeliers to make more of an impact,” Jamieson explains. “I could’ve created an all-white space and done a metal chandelier, but I found a large black one to make a bold statement.”

Photos by Joe Bernado

Get more design inspiration on Zillow Digs.


Home Improvement – Zillow Porchlight

Featured East Metro Atlanta Homes

Designer Lookbook: Susan Jamieson’s Coastal Getaway was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home