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Remodel: Inside a Family’s Light, Bright, Soothing Oasis

A renovation gives both a home and its family a new outlook on life.

By Paula M. Bodah | Photography by Brittny Smith

In 2020, Lauren Shaw suddenly found herself widowed with four young children. “I had to renovate my life,” she says. As part of that process, she plunged into remodeling the family’s Gilbert home, working with interior designer Brittny Smith. “It was symbolic,” Lauren recounts. “It takes longer to rebuild than it does to demolish, both a house and a life. To make something good takes patience and time and work.

I look back, and I can see how far we’ve come as a family.” The renovation went beyond giving her a prettier, more functional home. “Every room soothes my soul,” she says.

Music Room

With its calming white color scheme and cozy built-in window seat, the music room doubles as a quiet haven for a solitary book reader and a gathering spot for the musical family. “I removed the French doors and opened it up, so when you walk in the front door and look right, you see this beautiful room,” Smith explains. Lots of built-in shelves, cabinets and drawers keep sheet music organized. Smith also dispensed with overhead fluorescent lighting and installed can lights and sconces for a softer effect. The shelves hold carefully chosen mementos.

Photography by Brittny Smith

Primary Bedroom

Lauren’s bedroom underwent a complete metamorphosis, beginning with reducing its overwhelming size by forfeiting a couple of feet to the loft. The formerly gold faux-painted walls received a new coat of fresh white paint, and new wood laminate floors replaced worn gray carpeting. Smith also switched out some windows with a French door to add light and make the ceiling feel higher. Clean-lined, modern furniture in white and pale neutrals gives the room a true sanctuary vibe. A natural wood bed and a woven rug in soothing shades of gray and white add just the right touch of color.

Primary Bath

The room that saw the biggest transformation might be the primary bathroom, an early 2000s-style Tuscan-themed space with an inefficient layout that minimized airflow and maximized dampness. “We re-imagined the whole room,” Smith says. The tub, shower, vanities and toilet were all moved to create a more open area that lets light and air flow freely. The shower and tub sit in a “bathing room” behind a glass wall and are surrounded by glossy white tile for a spa-like sensibility. Smith outfitted the double vanity and flanking storage closets in a wood-grain laminate in soft gray-brown to keep things from being too antiseptic. “This is my favorite spot,” Lauren says. “I love to come in here, shut the door and just center myself.” 

Kitchen

The kitchen’s footprint didn’t change, but Smith lightened and brightened it to make it seem bigger. Function was streamlined by relocating the stovetop from the island and putting it against the wall and adding a sleek, unobtrusive plaster range hood. Light beige cabinets and off-white quartz counters are clean and modern. Smith added the reeded-panel detail at the top of the cabinets for a true custom touch. “The ceiling-high cabinets make my kitchen feel taller,” notes Lauren. A homey wooden table and black chairs warm the dining area.

Loft

The second-floor loft was transformed into a kids’ hangout, complete with a TV and a kitchen area for grabbing a cold drink or making popcorn. Smith took some footage from the large primary bedroom to make room for the new cabinetry. She kept the family’s comfy old sectional, using it to spark the playful yet sophisticated black, white and gray palette. “We really embraced making this space fun for the kids,” Smith says, pointing to cheerful accessories such as the gumball machine and checkerboard. 

Interior designer: Brittny Smith, Homesmith Design, Phoenix, homesmithdesign.co

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