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Spring is an inspiring season for design refreshes and home remodels. Three interior designers took on major remodel projects to transform outdated or uninspired spaces into artistic, functional and beautiful homes.

These houses aren’t just on trend. They’re centered around the client’s idea of a dream home. Whether the project focused on preserving history or making a statement, these designers overcame challenges and obstacles to deliver stunning results.

Transformation with vibrant details

The Raffle family wanted a home in midtown but had been struggling to find something that was just right. After touring a new construction home in their desired area, Piper Raffle decided it was a great opportunity. The family purchased the home before construction was finished so they could make changes to the color palette, fireplace and other fixtures.

To transform this new-construction home into their dream home, they called upon Mel Bean, owner and designer at Mel Bean Interiors, to help reshape the space.

“The home was modern farmhouse style in a way, but pretty safe with grays and whites to keep it simple and universally appealing,” Bean says. “We were able to update, add color and architectural elements and really transform it.”

The transformation process began before the Raffles closed on the house. This meant Bean had a tight timeline. However, the starting point was a solid green sofa the couple wanted to utilize. They also loved the sofa’s Schumacher Shockwave and Chiang Mai Dragon pillow fabric and wanted to see those colors throughout the space.

“My philosophy is custom design for each client,” Bean says. “I love to get inside a client’s head and push their boundaries, taking the design further than they imagined.”

Bean used the rich and vibrant colors inspired from the fabric selection and used navy blue as a base color to transition the design to each room. The design also mixes patterns to provide variety.

“The kitchen, entry and dining rooms all open to one another,” Bean says. “Navy becomes the visual anchor, taking your eye to each area.”

With so many interesting elements within the space, it was hard for the Raffle family to pick a favorite. However, the fuchsia and navy wallpaper in the study is one of the family’s favorite details.

“All of the elements work together to provide continuity and playful use of color, but it’s still sophisticated,” Bean says.

Casual, colorful comfort

Joe and Emily Padalino knew they wanted to make the move from Jenks to midtown. When a traditional-style, 1930s-built home went up for sale in the Lorraine Terrace neighborhood near Philbrook Museum of Art, they hired homebuilder and interior designer Jennifer Strickler to redesign the home and to add additional square footage.

“The home was a blank slate, but we wanted to stay true to the time period of the home,” Strickler says. “I came up with the overall floorplan, then we formalized it with an architect and began putting it into the plans for permitting.”

The Padalino family knew they wanted a comfortable home accommodating five children, three of whom still live in the house. The family also loved color and wanted to modernize while keeping the original elements of the home.

“They are a casual, comfortable family. I was immediately drawn to the idea of making it a Craftsman-style home,” Strickler says. “I wanted it to feel like an old home, not modern with new construction.”

Strickler was able to salvage elements from the home, including the original hardwood floors, exterior brick that was added to the walls of the entryway and Moroccan tile where the dining room is now located.

“People definitely told us we should have torn it down,” Strickler says of the home. “There were challenges of matching old framing with new framing. It’s not perfect; it doesn’t have perfectly square walls. It was such a learning experience, and everything went well.”

Looking at the home today, no one could imagine tearing it down to start over. This renovation and rebuild process took nine months and was a labor of love for both the homeowners and Strickler.

But with so many meaningful details, how can anyone choose their favorite element? Strickler says the Padalino family loves the colors, tiles and wallpaper that make the home not only functional, but also fun.

Focus on function

Julia Kirkendall had the opportunity to shop for homes alongside her client, who sought a midtown home for entertaining that fit his lifestyle. Owner and principal designer at Kirkendall Design, Kirkendall knew the perfect home had been found when they came across a 1920s Tudor-style house within walking distance of Utica Square.

“It needed a transformation inside,” Kirkendall says. “A larger kitchen to entertain, a large front room. This house was cut into three sections with rooms about two-thirds the size they are now.”

This wasn’t Kirkendall’s first time renovating a house from this era. In fact, she grew up in a house built in the 1920s and knew what had to happen to gain extra square footage. “The house was built around a coal furnace and the chase (enclosed space around the flue pipe) that went through the middle of the house,” Kirkendall says.

Because these elements are no longer used and have no structural effect on the home, her team removed the coal furnace chase, allowing for a larger kitchen and living room and eliminating unnecessary hallways and closets.

Once the floorplan opened up, Kirkendall began updating the house from a cottage-style Tudor to a modern Tudor, which focuses on the character of the home and functional design. However, the design team ran into some challenges, including the adobe-style fireplace.

Kirkendall managed to salvage all of the hardwood floors in the home, but laced in new red oak floors to match. She also updated the floor furnace, and its wooden grates were changed to steel for more durability.

The designer retained some of the home’s original charm by restoring the original doors and finding decade-specific doorknobs to replace broken ones. She also kept the hallway’s original phone stand, and restored the hall bath with original tile, updated facilities and timeless black-and-white print wallpaper.

The former sleeping porch turned study was updated with a modern HVAC system for year-round comfort.

Although the home is modern, the elegance of the original design remains. Kirkendall’s favorite part of the home is the kitchen.

“It’s highly functional and great for entertaining,” she says. “The island can seat five people, and there is still space for a dining table.”

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