Family-Friendly Home Update
The Topkas teamed up with architect Heather Wilson and interior designer Jen Langston to rework their home with a more family-friendly layout and fresh, natural style. Because they didn't want a bigger house— just a smarter one—they focused their remodel mainly on the lower level.
Solution: Reconfiguring the layout, forgoing upper cabinets, lightening walls and floors, and designing a refrigerator surround that looks like furniture created an inviting room that blends beautifully with nearby living spaces.
Airy Living Addition: Two previous additions were removed to allow for a new vaulted living area that opens to the kitchen and the bigger backyard.
New Study and Dining Room: The formal living room, with its traditional fireplace, saw little use. To save money, they left the brick chimney outside, removed the mantel, and drywalled over the opening. A wall with pocket doors divides the space into two rooms.
Open Kitchen: The reconfigured kitchen works as an axis point for the whole space. A playroom that was located behind the stove wall was converted into a hardworking pantry/laundry room combo.
Solution: Removing the addition and reorienting the kitchen allowed for a new vaulted family room that is open and filled with light.
Vaulted the Ceiling To make the new addition feel more spacious, Heather went not out but up with a 17-foot-high vaulted ceiling. Reclaimed-wood beams, salvaged during demolition, ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room's height.
Designated a Focal Point Rooms with high ceilings need strong architecture to feel cozy, not cavernous. Heather designed a simple fireplace to grab the eye and hold it low in the room. She kept the details minimal to let materials, such as the steel surround and reclaimed-wood shelves, lend the interest.
Created Symmetry with Sofas Slip-covered in washed linen, the 100-inch-long sofas are scaled to the room's substantial size. They also provide ample seating for entertaining and corralling the Topkas' three children, ages 6, 4, and 2.
Solution: Removed the fireplace and broke up the large room into two spaces more suited to the family: a quiet study and a dining room with two sides of windows.
Lightened Up the Floor The Topkas saved money by retaining the original floor. "We just stripped down the heart pine to its natural finish and oiled it to get that silvery, driftwood look," says Jen. "It's very forgiving and can be repaired if anything happens to the finish."
Introduced One Bold Color Jen gave the otherwise neutral room a strong burst of energy by adding a pair of grass green velvet host chairs and lamps. The vibrant hue complements the use of blue in the kitchen, proving that carefully placed color can really pack a punch.
Kept the Accents to a Minimum To maintain a more modern aesthetic, Jen skipped traditional window treatments and a rug and edited the accessories for a pared-down look. "In a small space, less is usually more," she says.