As Melanie and Kevin Brown eased into their new empty-nesting phase of life, they contemplated their living situation. With friends in similar circumstances seizing the opportunity to sell, downsize and start fresh in a new space, the couple considered their options. “We ultimately decided to stay and renovate because we love our house and neighborhood. Our children also visit frequently, so we still use our extra space,” says Melanie. F To start, the Browns envisioned a lighter and brighter color scheme, ultimately selecting blues and ivories. Their next step?
“That was a Susan question,” Kevin simply states.
A seasoned guide
Ever since founding Susan Berg Design in 2005, Susan has been the Browns’ trusted resource for their interior décor solutions. “Susan knows us and our tastes. We particularly appreciate that she’s always willing to work with us to incorporate existing pieces we love, yet take us forward into a new design,” Melanie explains.
“Kevin and Melanie’s home had been beautifully designed the first time around, so we had good bones to work with,” says Susan. “For example, they love to cook and entertain, and the flow and layout of the kitchen and great room already supported that without the need for significant construction.” To refresh the kitchen, Susan suggested painting and adding new hardware to the existing wood-toned cabinets, which had been custom made and remained in good condition. An ivory color was selected for the wall cabinets, and the island cabinets were painted a deep blue.
A striking quartzite countertop was installed, the large, long slabs as impressive as a piece of art. Unlike its man-made counterpart, quartz, quartzite has the graceful veining of marble and a free-form motif. Susan also helped the Browns select sinks, lighting and a backsplash to complement and enhance the counters. “One of our favorite things in the entire renovation is the stone mosaic backsplash which Susan found for us,” says Melanie.
Contemporary woven leather barstools provide a pleasing texture to one edge of the kitchen area, smartly contrasted by the sleek gleam of the new stainless steel appliances on the other.
Susan did recommend and design new cabinetry in three areas. First, in the kitchen a dated and cluttered built-in desk was seamlessly swapped out for a guest-friendly coffee and drink station.
A greater challenge was redesigning the family room’s bookshelves for the fit and function of a modern-day television while keeping the visual symmetry of the existing structure.
New cabinets expanding the right section to the far wall allowed the television to migrate from a corner table to a hanging focal point with the ability for multi-directional angling.
Finally, the laundry room received an overhaul. “We had cobbled together old kitchen cabinets in our laundry room, and that area had become a catch-all storage space,” explains Melanie. They started over, gutting the room and lining it with custom cabinetry.
Schlabach Cabinetry was hired to build the cabinets, and they in turn suggested Beverley Builders for the installation and general contracting.
Starting at the windows
The couple’s jumping off point for textile decisions was the family room’s drapery material, selecting from samples Susan brought over to consider in the space itself. The rest of the fabrics flowed from that and were a mix of patterns in the blue and ivory palette.
In the dining room, Susan proposed a deep blue grasscloth covering for the upper walls with faux ivory wainscoting below to transform the room. An applied molding was installed below the existing chair rail and then painted, creating the look of wainscoting without the premium cost. “With only one window in the room,” describes Susan, “incorporating a lighter color was essential.”
The home’s side entrance has a direct line view of the half bath, now a definite eye-catcher due to the distinctive wallpaper. “Kevin and Melanie wanted to keep their antique vanity which has a green marble countertop. This design harmonizes the piece with the new blue tones in a very dramatic way,” says Susan.
My home is your home
The renovation required making many decisions, a process the Browns say Susan Berg made easier for them. “We trust Susan’s design ideas so much, we basically asked her what she would do if this was her house and we did it,” says Melanie.
“I view myself as a temporary guest in my clients’ homes, respecting their wishes and creating a partnership,” Susan says.
The Browns have welcomed many guests into their home since the remodeling work was completed, reveling in their home’s rediscovered appeal. As they gather for meals at their new kitchen table with its built-in lazy Susan, they are reminded that the true Susan was anything but, having worked tirelessly to create an endearing backdrop for their life’s next chapter.
RESOURCES General contractor Beverley Builders; Interior designer Susan Berg Design; Cabinetry Schlabach Wood Design; Kitchen lighting Robinson Pendants, Visual Comfort; Kitchen paint Benjamin Moore White Dove and Van Deusen Blue; Wall treatments Asian Scenic by Thibaut; Flooring Plaid rug from Couristan; Family room window treatments Ralph Lauren; Kitchen countertops Mont Blanc quartzite; Kitchen backsplash Maravilla marble mosaic; Appliances Jack’s Appliances