Design Revealed: Mama's Makeover

Some of the most fun projects I get to work on are designing spaces that I know I’ll be able to enjoy too - like this full makeover at my parents' house!  Designing for family comes with quite a bit of added pressure, but this project will definitely go down as one of my favorites because it meant that I got to spend a little extra time with my mom.⁣

Prior to my parents moving in, this house was actually owned by my brother and several years ago I lived here with him. A few years ago he and my parents swapped houses, which gave his family the opportunity to move into the larger home we grew up in, which is much more suited for their family's size and needs, while also allowing my parents to downsize and enjoy the quiet simplicity of the acreage that this one-story ranch style home offers. Ever since my parents moved in here, we've been scheming renovation plans to help make this house a reflection of their own style and help it to feel a little more like home to them, and we were absolutely ecstatic to finally make their dreams reality in this space!

One of the major benefits of working with my parents is that I didn't necessarily need them to fill out the essential standard style + lifestyle questionnaires that I normally give to my clients, since I'm quite familiar with their style, preferences, and how they operate. However, we learned that my mom, much like myself, has an appreciation for a wide range of different design styles, so we did have to do the work to really narrow down her true design style. My dad leans heavily toward an industrial rustic farmhouse aesthetic, while my mom (while she loves industrial too) enjoys adding in more traditional and feminine elements...these two seemingly opposite styles actually jive very well together!

Major Design Updates

As you can see from the "before" photos above, we completely opened up this space by removing the wall separating the living room from the hallway/dining room and also opened up the closed stairwell by removing the walls and replacing them with a railing it (which my dad would love for you to know that he built with his own two hands! ;-)). These two changes alone transformed the space making it feel oh so much larger! We also removed a closet that was previously right inside the door from the garage, allowing us to gain a few extra feet of kitchen cabinetry on the fridge/range wall. The laundry room door was converted to a sliding barn door which both eliminated the swing into the laundry room to enhance the flow, and this adds such a cool design element that ties in with the kitchen, reinforcing the rustic industrial vibe. We also replaced all the outdated flimsy interior doors with stained, solid wood ones and replaced the old room mouldings with a light beige color that lightens things a bit, yet still has a beautiful warmth to it that works so well in this house.


Both of my parents appreciate wood elements in large doses, so wood cabinets were a no-brainer for their kitchen! We went with a stained hickory wood that has the slightest but perfect amount of gray in it that coordinates beautifully with the gray tones more present in the flooring. The natural movement in the knots and grain of this wood is gorgeous, and the simple Shaker frame style we opted for allows more attention to go to those beautiful natural details.

Island Design

I have to say, the island is the real showstopper in this kitchen! The beautiful gray color has tints of green and blue depending on the light or time of day, setting it apart from the wooden cabinetry in the rest of the room. We raised the backside of the countertop up for bar seating and covered it with a stunning rustic reclaimed wood top with waterfall edges to make this unique statement island. Because the wood has slightly more natural, lighter tones than the perimeter cabinets, it makes for such a beautiful accent in the kitchen - it is also the same wood that the barn door to the laundry room is made from, tying it all together perfectly without feeling overly matchy-matchy.

Kitchen Customization

Customizing this kitchen was so fun! Because I know how my mom uses her kitchen, this customization was a little easier than most projects, but we still had to make very smart use of each and every cabinet due to the general lack of storage in the house (and because we removed two closets to execute this design!). Included in the customization is a trash pullout in the island, appliance garage at the end of the cabinets right of the sink, and handy cooking utensil cups in the base cabinet right next to the range. Large drawers were strategically placed throughout for bulkier items such as pots and pans and container storage.

The coffee bar replaced what used to be a desk area, and makes for the perfect spot for extra kitchen storage and serving station - complete with its own mini fridge! To open the dining space up even further, we removed the bulky hutch that used to sit on the wall where the clock is now, which allows for so much more room to walk around the table when everyone is seated, and really helps to the space to flow better and feel dramatically more spacious.


As with every design, we were very intentional about the materials and finishes that we used throughout this space - every single element plays its part in making this space feel cohesive and really helping this design to work.

I love the GE slate appliances that we selected - they have such a pretty warm tone without being too dark, making them the perfect choice in this kitchen. We also opted for a drawer microwave in the island that hides it from view while still allowing for easy everyday access.

The Cambria quartz countertops you see in the kitchen and coffee bar have a beautiful matte finish and lovely warm tones that play so nicely with the other contrasting materials. The strong movement and pattern in the countertops make for a simply stunning statement! Another favorite element in this kitchen is the ceramic subway tile that we used for the backsplash - the gloss finish in these tiles brings contrast against the more rustic and matte finishes in this space and was just the icing on the cake. Backsplashes have a way of doing that!


We made very intentional decisions for the lighting fixtures in this space and kept flexibility of lighting in mind. The fixtures above the island, sink, and dining table all work together to help enhance that industrial vibe that my parents love so much, while the recessed lighting throughout the whole space paired with undercabinet lighting add layers of light that create a well-lit and super functional lighting plan. Every light has a dimmer (you know I love my dimmer switches!) allowing this space to take on different levels of desired coziness during different times of the day.

Other Kitchen Materials

We also used a lot of longer and some oversized drawer pulls throughout the kitchen to help to elevate the space and give it that designerly feel, and what a difference it makes! The flooring throughout the entire main living space is a luxury vinyl plank flooring with a gray-wash wood look. This gives the same look and feel of a rustic wood flooring that they were after while offering superior durability. One thing that I really love about this space is that we were able to take my parent's love for different colors of wood finishes and really make it work without everything feeling so formulaic and predictable. You'll notice that the flooring, cabinets, island tops, interior doors, and even the dining set all have different species and/or stain colors in the wood, but they work together to well to create a harmonious space that feels more layered and curated!

Living Room Design

While most of the major design updates happened in the kitchen and dining areas, smart design choices in the living room make it feel like a completely different space than before (I mean, seriously - just scroll back up to those before pictures and see if you can recognize this place)!

As mentioned, we completely opened up the space by taking out walls, and we also reconfigured the doorways into the adjacent bathroom and spare bedroom for added privacy after removing the hallway. We made use of the existing living room furniture, but added a beautiful 9x12 area rug, gorgeous wood carved wall decor above the staircase, and a couple of new industrial-style end tables flanking the sofa. The TV wall will likely be updated in the future, but for now even these smaller updates have helped to make this space so much more beautiful and functional than ever before.

This was such a fun project that I now get to experience the whole family using and enjoying, and I will always be so thankful for this extra time spent with my parents making this a place they love to come home to and share with others!

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