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  • Lindsey Borchard

The Year's Best Before-and-Afters

We can all agree that in 2020, 'home' began to mean a bit more to all of us. It became not only a place of rest, but where we worked, schooled, and found what entertainment we could. Making a home is a passion of mine, of course, but there is something about a renovation that is just extra special. I love the process of bringing out the fullest potential of a house and allowing our clients' personalities to really shine. We completed several renovations this year -- some just as the pandemic began -- and here are our favorites...

The Power of Paint: Pacific Palisades Office

office with dark wood paneling

Photo by Amy Bartlam

Before: The office space in our Pacific Palisades remodel had great bones. It was clad in pretty wood paneling and had extensive built-in shelving, cabinetry, and millwork. But the natural wood tone felt a little dark and dated and didn't jive with the more casual, contemporary feel our clients were seeking.

office with soft gray shelves

After: It's almost hard to believe this is the same space, even though we did little more than paint and furnish it. We painted everything in the room a soft, warm gray, which instantly updated the traditional moulding. To add some interest and texture, we put a natural herringbone wallpaper behind the shelving and updated the lighting and window treatments. I decided to orient the desk facing the window to make room for a seating area, which was a happy coincidence as our clients began working from home almost as soon as it was installed. We installed this project just as the shutdowns for the Covid-19 pandemic were beginning, and are to report that this previously-unused space has since become a favorite spot in the house.

Tear it Down: Valley Village Kitchen

kitchen, before

Before: The tiny galley kitchen in the Valley Village house was oddly placed in the house and completely closed off. It really didn't suit the needs or aesthetics of our clients, so we opened it up to create a huge open living space with a much larger kitchen, gracious living space, and a dining space. To help visualize what we did, take note of the sink under the window -- it was the only element that kept its original location.

kitchen with waterfall counter and blue subway tile

After: Pretty dramatic, right?! We opened the kitchen to the living space and made way for a huge island with a gorgeous waterfall counter made of quartz (do you remember seeing the countertop fiasco on Instagram?). Our clients each have slightly differing tastes so we combined traditional elements like shaker-style cabinet doors, an apron-front sink, and a vintage rug with sleek hardware and an industrial faucet and hanging shelf. Again, this project was installed and photographed just ahead of the stay-at-home orders and we were glad to know that our clients could safely shelter in place in a beautiful, functional home.

Bright, White, and Open: Featherwood Kitchen

kitchen, before

Before: The kitchen in our Featherwood project had a lot going for it: plenty of space, loads of gorgeous natural light, and high-end appliances that were still in great condition. But it was very, very beige and had an awkward layout. So, with a little reconfiguring, inspiration from old-world European kitchens, and gallons of white paint, we took a good space to the next level.

white kitchen with brass pendants

Photo by Amy Bartlam

After: This kitchen is really a case study for keeping it simple. We extended the flooring from the rest of house in here and opened up the access to the living room. You can see above that the range and refrigerator stayed in their original locations, and keeping the appliances gave us a lot of room in the overall budget. The biggest impact came from rotating the island 90 degrees and just simplifying the cabinetry -- before, your eye moved all over and now there is a clear focal point. Our clients wanted a bright, white space which really shines in the natural light and we brought in some subtle layers with a light greige paint on the new island and handmade subway tile on the back splash.

Add Style and Function: Beach-to-the-Burbs Family Room

family room, before

Before: This is not the most helpful 'before' image but you can use your imagination to picture the family room in our Beach-to-the-'Burbs project. It's a room we've all seen before -- a rectangle of sheetrock with some furniture plopped in the middle. It opens into the kitchen and a casual dining space, so it's really the heart of the home for this family, and desperately needed some personality and function.

family room with dark painted vertical paneling

Photo by Amy Bartlam

After: The first order of business was to create a focal point on the back wall. The dark painted vertical shiplap helps disguise the dark television in the otherwise bright, white room and it gives the space a defined purpose. Much-needed storage is below in a wall-to-wall built-in storage, and the shelves above gave us a chance to bring in a few nods to the coast, which was the overall inspiration for the home. The big comfortable sectional has room for the entire family (plus some!) to get cozy and is covered in a durable performance fabric so spills are a non-issue. A cool leather lounge chair a custom piece of art by Lauren Williams Art round out the look.

Now that we've shared our favorites, it's your turn! Head to Instagram to weigh in -- Is your favorite featured here? Or did we miss a project that you absolutely loved?


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