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IS YOUR DREAM HOME A DUD? Smart Steps Can Transform Your Dump to a Delight

Here’s a situation I think many of us can relate to: living in a home that doesn’t architecturally express your style.

Last week I gave a consultation to a homeowner who purchased into a great neighborhood, but wasn’t necessarily in love with the house itself. Seattle is still a hot market, and if your dream neighborhood has something for sale, you gotta move quick.

The house was originally built in the 1940’s and has suffered at least three different upgrades and remodels since then. It feels choppy and busy.

In fact, one of the previous residents was a decorator, and let’s just say that Liberace would have felt right at home with some of the decor choices. It’s not often I get to see a mismatched pair of proudly over-sized crystal chandeliers, in the same room even nonetheless!, in a ranch cottage. Truly a mish-mash of styles from an overly enthusiastic decorator who didn’t subscribe to the “less is more” theory of design.

"Glamazon" just isn't the look for this home

The new homeowner is left with deciding what to do and how to move forward to make the house work for their young family, while also updating it for a more modern taste. Liberace is leaving the building.

What do you do when faced with a situation where you house isn’t your dream? Can it be rescued?

Not everyone gets to immediately trigger a complete remodel when they move into a new place; sometimes you have to execute it in stages. In fact, this is quite normal for the majority of homeowners; if this is your situation, know that you are in very good company.

Step One: Analyze What Can and Cannot Be Changed

In this case, the flooring in the main part of the home is a Tuscan-influenced radiant heat tile that’s not going anywhere. Remember those peachy tones from the 1990’s? Luckily, it’s still neutral enough to anchor the space with a few artful design choices elsewhere.

The client's floor is a bit more peachy, but this image gives you a good idea. Image source Pinterest.

The wood kitchen cabinets are overly decorative, but very good quality. The massive granite counters and heavy back splash tile…. All combined to make a “statement” kitchen. Yikes.

The inconsistent lighting fixtures all throughout the house range from dripping crystal glamorous to Home Depot cheapo.

Step Two: Erase Where Possible to Create a Blank Slate

This is where a unified paint scheme can be wielded like a magic wand. When faced with a choppy floor plan or disjointed spaces, a neutral wall color can really help to minimize a busy room and give the eye a rest.

With the 1940’s house, we chose a color by Benjamin Moore called “Edgecomb Gray” for almost all of the walls. It’s not too dark, it’s very neutral, and it is the correct shade to pull a number of disparate elements together, like that peachy-ish flooring that’s practically everywhere.

For the trim, we chose Benjamin Moore’s “Simply White”. White can be tricky for a lot of people, because the nuance of the color is difficult to see. This white works because the house is very shadowy on the main floor, and this white didn’t grey out like many others did. We tried “White Dove”, for example, but it looked quite muddy and dull.

In other areas of the house, we wanted to add a little more punch without a lot of distraction, so we used “Ashley Gray” to add depth and richness.

This ranch-style cottage lends itself to white painted trim. In a more contemporary home, a monochromatic trim would be more appropriate.

And the kitchen?

Farrow & Ball "Inchyra Blue", image c/o

Paint the cabinets. Current contender is Farrow & Ball’s “Inchyra Blue”. This blue will complement the orange tones in the orange-y granite, which will stay until it’s time for a full reno. Replace the overwrought back splash with something in better taste. Save a good $30,000 (it’s a big kitchen).

Step Three: Live in it a Little While

Since you have to make the upgrades over time, you have the opportunity to really think about how you what to make the house work for you.

Notice what I just said there? You get to make the house work for you, not vice versa. Think about how you live; do you cook a lot or eat out? Do you have kids with lots of sports equipment? How do you use technology in the home? There are many factors to consider, and you have a golden opportunity to make positive changes.

Dig deep and redesign your house for you. Focus first on design, then on decor.

Next Steps

If you are faced with overwhelm, or you wish you could feel great about where you live, hire an interior designer. You may find all you need is a fresh coat of paint and some new knobs. Or you can gain insight into creating and implementing a plan for the long haul.

Here’s how I work:

We start with an initial consultation. Think of this as your access to my designer’s brain available to you for your specific needs.

Our time together lasts about 90 minutes, and we can cover a lot of ground during that time. We can work on colors, discuss an overall vision, even pencil out some budgets so you know how to anticipate the next steps.

As we are meeting, I am taking notes like crazy, and I send them to you as we finish, so you have a record of all we discussed.

If, following our consultation, we decide to do more work together, I’ll create a scope of work outline on how to make the ideas we discussed a reality. If not, no worries, you have at hand the issues and potential solutions to go forward on your own. It’s a fun experience for both of us to work on solutions, and I am here to support you either way.

You can reach me at 206-794-0314 to schedule your consultation. Or you can email me at

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