7 Room-Refresh Ideas to Steal for Your Own Home
With clever approaches to underused corners, reenvisioned areas, and a whole lot of style, seven local designers provide inspiration for your own home-reno dreams.
A triple-threat team of Eddie Ross, designer Jason Thompson of J. Thom, and architecture firm McIntyre Capron turned a cramped ’70s kitchen in Ross’s Wayne house into an open and more functional one — and upped its wow factor at the same time.
Ross can cook for a crowd in his kitchen: It has Thermador professional-grade appliances, and the wooden case above the range hides a restaurant-quality vent hood. Two dishwashers simplify cleaning up after a crowd.
Ross had two main goals for his kitchen makeover: “I wanted it to be beautiful but also efficient,” says the Culinary Institute of America grad. “And I wanted it to feel like furniture and not cabinetry.”
This kitchen has some trompe-l’oeil features. Those painted cabinets may look faux, but they’re real brushed-grain white oak. The mix of classic painted oak cabinets, antique glass, marble and walnut counters, and hardware from Ross’s own line for Modern Matter makes this kitchen look like it’s always been part of the traditional center hall colonial he lives in.
When redoing a kitchen, Ross says it’s best to go with tried-and-true styles: “Trends go out of trend real fast.”
Christina Henck of Henck Design turned a garden-variety colonial in suburban Wilmington into a lighter, airier home with a contemporary farmhouse feel. The dining room, like the other rooms in the house, got livened up by contrasting walls and trim, plus natural wood and metal furniture and lights.
Natural wood, plants and brass lighting fixtures combine with board-and-batten walls for this study in contrasts of color and texture. “I love the drama” of black ceilings, says Henck, who adds color to the rooms through the addition of natural wood, like the stained oak beams in the kitchen.
Henck dispensed with a dining room staple when she made this one over: Instead of a chandelier, she used wall sconces and brass table lamps, for a more informal look. An enlarged photo from artist Greg Dunn, who produces works derived from images of the brain, hangs between the two conical lamps.
“If the base of your design scheme carries these high-contrast colors, find ways to infuse your space with warmth by adding nature where possible,” Henck says.
Moving from Bella Vista to Haddonfield brought a lifestyle change for this family of four, who previously enjoyed frequenting walkable restaurants. So the Shophouse team brought their favorite haunts to them. “We wanted to re-create that feeling of a destination within the home,” says designer Betsy Helm. The new build had an unused living room corner that lent itself to service as a home bar with a “subtle speakeasy” aesthetic. There’s a Nero Marquina marble countertop from Adesso and a small Sub-Zero refrigerator for mixers. The Gabby stools were reupholstered in a classic Ralph Lauren wool herringbone fabric to create a Polo-Bar-meets-parlor vibe.
Also cause for cheers: “When not in use, the bar provides a beautiful backdrop to the sight lines of the living space, instantly inviting conversation and an element of fun,” says Helm.
Located off the kitchen of the Phoenixville home of Christie Fleming of Lennon Nora Interior Design, this space was originally intended as a dining room. But it wasn’t big enough for the designer and her family, so she transformed it into a lounge for listening to music, sipping wine and chatting before meals.
Fleming wanted to create a moody, sultry but approachable ambience and used the green leather and crosshatched fabric of the two CR Laine chairs as color inspiration.
Fleming’s husband, Jordan, painted the walls and crown molding in Sherwin-Williams Ripe Olive. “It pulls from the deeper green hues on the chairs and is neutral enough that it pairs with the rest of the palette in my home,” she says.
The statement-making zebra-print bench and gold mirror are consignment finds. “One of my favorite tricks is to bring in something unexpected,” Fleming says. The mirror is flanked by one-of-a-kind Museum Bees by Trace Mayer, which Fleming has been collecting for years: “They’re always a conversation starter.”
“Think about how you want the space to feel,” advises Fleming. “If you have a piece you love, think about why: the color? Texture? Shape? Roll with that, and don’t play by the rules.”
As much as it’s overlooked for the more exciting spots in a home, the mudroom is one of the most utilized areas — and should be highly functional. Enter this revamped mudroom in New Hope. Formerly narrow and lacking adequate space for a family of five (with three kids under six plus a dog), the new multipurpose room is spacious and filled with clever creature comforts. “I wanted to create a cheery and organized space that wasn’t too serious,” says Heather Safferstone of Safferstone Interiors. She took over a third garage spot, then added a laundry cabinet for the GE appliances, a countertop, and storage space. Every family member, adult and child, has a locker cabinet. There’s a charging station in the upper cabinet for phones. And a toe-kick pullout in the side cabinet hides the pup’s bowls.
Safferstone had hoped to put in a sink and discovered during planning that the builder had installed plumbing in an ideal space. Today, the single-basin apron-front sink is perfect for washing muddy boots and the dog.
Moorestown-based Barette Widell of Widell + Boschetti wanted to make her nine-year-old son Dillon’s bedroom more functional during the pandemic, so she created a new space for schoolwork and arts and crafts.
Monochromatic. Sophisticated. Masculine. Those are the words Widell uses to describe her son’s room: “I always say Dillon is a sophisticated old soul, so we went with a very soothing, mature color palette.”
While the room was a decent size, it couldn’t fit a desk, so Widell turned one of the two closets into a workspace.
The white oak workstation and bookcase by Widell + Boschetti offers ample storage and counter space and plenty of room for Dillon to grow. The playful desk chair by CB2 features white bouclé upholstery.
“Visualize how you’re going to utilize each individual space,” suggests Widell. “Imagine yourself living in the space and how that feels and looks.”
Though this was always intended to be the primary bedroom in the East Falls home of Nicole Cole of Vestige Home, it felt like a “wide-open space without purpose,” she says. (It spans the width of the stone home.) So she separated it into a distinct sleeping zone and a reading area with plenty of storage.
Cole sought to design a “warm, layered room that embodies a sense of time and patina juxtaposed with modern elements.” The walls were finished in Portola Paints & Glazes North Woods Limewash, which “gives the feeling of being wrapped in a soft cloud,” says Cole.
A 1958 Serge Mouille light-fixture reproduction acts as a unifying statement piece between the two zones. “The scale of the wide, sprawling arms was just what this room needed.”
Moss green accent chairs by Article beckon any time of day. “We get wonderful morning sun, and oftentimes on weekend mornings, my husband, Adam, can be found here with a book,” says Cole.
“Think about how you want to feel in a space, and pull your colors and selections from that place instead of just what you see in magazines,” advises Cole.
Published as “Room Envy” in the January 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.