Neat & Nifty

in these eight cases, designers and space specialists get things organized, from the kitchen to the garage


(page 1 of 8)

Case 1: An Empty-Nesters' Refresher

By Megan Swoyer | Photographs by Justin Maconochie

The Goal

Often, getting organized includes creating a unifying, fresh, and clean look as well as adding storage solutions. One Rochester Hills couple needed all of the above, because they wanted to upgrade their home for their current lifestyle needs and tastes. With their children grown and moved out, their everyday routines changing, and a desire to stay in their home rather than move to another home or downsize, they called on designer Kristen Armstrong, of KCID LLC in Birmingham, “to make everything more efficient,” says homeowner Cindy Yearwood. “Our house is really fine as is,” adds the retired schoolteacher, who has a penchant for stylish living and a keen eye for décor, “but there were things my husband (Paul) and I wanted to do to make it more comfortable and updated for us, for our routines, for everyday things like storage, (and we also wanted) to display various items we’ve collected over the years but didn’t have a place for.” Overall, she wanted her home to be serene and hardworking. Yearwood especially needed organized space just off the garage leading into the home, “so I can quickly and easily store … Costco purchases upon returning home and coming in the side door,” she laughs. She also wanted her laundry room overhauled, with an accent on creating storage space for cleaning items, the ironing board, and more. In addition, Yearwood needed a central area in the kitchen for her notepads, calendars, and phone-charging (now in a lift-up cabinet in the buffet off the kitchen), and she wanted a spot to keep the toaster, coffeemaker, and other small appliances out of sight (also now hidden in a lift-up storage area on the counter). A breakfast-bar area was on the wish list, as well.

Getting to Work

While Armstrong created more organized-living solutions, she also brought to this makeover a strong sense of current style. “Their home is already gorgeous; what I did was to help them with some main spaces on the first floor — to open it up and bring a lighter, fresher feel to everything.” One of the jumping-off points was a painting the homeowners purchased in China during their travels. It had hung in the upstairs hallway, but Armstrong sensed it would be a great focal piece in the living room, above the fireplace. “The fireplace is very tall and had a mirror that didn’t reflect anything — I thought the painting would work perfectly there,” Armstrong explains. Armstrong then set her sights on a beautiful silk fabric from Designer’s Guild called Rosamund Birch, in grey and citrine, for pillows that complemented the colors in the painting; she had the sofa reupholstered in an Osborne & Little fabric called Peregrina. The room was painted (Birmingham-based Deighan Painters) with  Benjamin Moore White Dove (OC-17) trim and Pashmina (AF-100) walls (“a deep, warm stone color), all befitting the colorful painting. The designer also called on Beaver Stair Co. in Oxford to update a stairway railing. She had built-in shelving created (by Dan Murphy, a general contractor and finish carpenter) in the living room to showcase the couple’s art, books, and special objects. She chose a coffee-brown stain for 4-inch and 5-inch-wide oak plank floors, installed by Rob Oshea, which run throughout the spaces (tile, carpet, and faux wood were removed), unifying the look.

Armstrong also updated the powder room by removing the tile floor and the existing vanity, laying hardwood floors, installing a freestanding vanity in dark mahogany with a burano (leathered uba tuba) countertop, and adding two sconces on either side of a custom mirror. The new wallpaper is from Nina Campbell. Armstrong opened the dining room (she made the entryway wider), updated the existing dining room table/seating, and created a sitting area in the breakfast room. “Before, the kitchen was closed off to the main floor,” Armstrong says. “Now there’s an open feeling between the dining room and the kitchen, an area for sitting in the kitchen, and a beautiful buffet that anchors the kitchen wall seen through the dining room.” Yearwood loves that her family can now sit comfortably around the dining room table, and there’s space for chairs to move in and out from the table. New cabinetry with much-needed lift-ups for storage is by Kendal & Co., a cabinet showroom and supplier in Rochester Hills.

The Results

“It was great to work with clients who had an open mind about designating the spaces for different uses,” Armstrong says. “It's a polished, tailored update.” Adds Yearwood: “Kristen made our home work better for us. At this point in our lives, it’s great to have everything more efficient and easily accessible — and (because) we have new space for our art pieces, we can see everything now.”

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