Is It Wise To Attempt A Home Remodel Without a Designer?

A while back, a reader named Sarah (No, not this Sara, or this Sarah.) sent some photos in of a little home remodeling project. This was after she asked me if it was sacrilege to paint pine paneling.

You can read about painting wood paneling here.

I loved what Sarah did to the small den/office/playroom. And so, shared that in one of my favorite posts about home makeovers; along with Nancy Keyes’ fabulous kitchen and the smashing exterior of her former home in Atlanta. That’s the one that set Pinterest ablaze with repins!

Well, about ten days ago, Sarah contacted me again because she had done an extensive home remodel.

Here’s what she said:

Hi Laurel,

You have given us as readers such fabulous advice and been so kind to respond to some of my inquiries, as well. In light of your most recent post, I thought I should finally share some before and afters that utilize some of your exquisite Benjamin Moore paint color selections.

By the way, I have bought both Laurel’s Rolodex and your blogging guide. I think it is high time I invest in your paint/palette guide! Thank you again and again for all you give to us.

On a side note, I have been slowly getting myself in gear to get my blog up and running. The advice in your blogging guide is incredible, not to mention inspirational.

However, not to make excuses, but it’s tough. I have 3 young kids and managing their summer schedules is a job in itself but I need something for myself so going to do it! Okay, to the photos–


Wait a sec sister. Forgive me for interrupting, but…


Stop being so hard on yourself! Man, I had little kids, (shortly after the flood) and I barely got jackshit done. Sure, I had a business, but there was NO internet OR email back in 1996. Well, yes, I realize that there was an internet, but those were my Luddite years. ;]

If you got through an entire home renovation with three little ankle-biters, then you’re way ahead of a lot of people!

Just had to get that out. I think a lot of us, myself included expect more of ourselves than is possible.


Below is a screen-shot of what Sarah sent me in her first email.


home remodel before
Oh, very nice, I thought. Great job she did, but I can’t use these photos because they are way too small and “fuzzy.”


But, then I looked a little further and saw more thumbnails and realized that THESE above are the BEFORE PICS!

Further down the page, I then saw the gorgeous after shots, but they too were way too small to publish.

(I gotta have a word with this girl because I would love to share what she did.)

And by the way, when I say what she did. Sarah did not have an interior designer helping her!


But, poor Sarah. I put her through hell. lol


Fortunately, we have the same I-phone and so I was able to share some photo tips.

She sent me a lot of photos and by the last bunch, they were beautiful, sharp and straight.

I’m only mentioning it in this case, because Sarah wants to be a blogger, so for all of you blogger-wannabees, it is imperative that you have good photography skills. And photo editing, too. It is not difficult to learn; it just takes practice. And, if you’re interested in learning everything I know, please look into my new blogging guide. I hear that it’s already changing lives! Blogging has sure changed mine!


First, let’s look at this home remodel from the outside.


exterior before and after home remodeling


The house color changed from a darkish blue-gray to a soft white. The soft white is one of the Laurel Home Essential Paint Colors Swiss Coffee.

You can see another home painted Swiss Coffee here.


Here, we can see that a lot more happened to the exterior than just paint.

Home Remodel after side viewAnd after. Wow! How lovely.

For more gorgeous exterior paint colors, click here.

In case you’re wondering. Sarah lives in Minnesota. That explains why she’s so nice! People in the midwest are usually very nice. I notice that every time I visit Wisconsin. Or maybe it’s just that people in New York are largely assholes? That’s probably it.

And a view of the new portico. Many beautiful and classical details for this traditional-style home. Love the black doors!

OH! Another important thing that bloggers need to learn is the art of stalking.

Yes, stalking is an art. You didn’t know that? You find it horrifying to learn that I’m a stalker? ;]

Fine. Be a fuddy-duddy and call it detective-work. Research.


It’s stalking.

While Sarah gave me some great shots, I found stalked her instagram.


The photo above is from Sarah’s instagram. (she gave me permission to share her page) You can see more pics of her home and her darling family too. Please follow her.

The beautiful front door area. Very gracious entrance. Me like.

For more great front doors, click here.


Let’s go inside and have a little look at how things were before the home renovation


Obviously a shot of the kitchen


young family home renovation beforeAnd another looking into the eating area into the dining room.

This is a very nice house but some of the elements are a little dated.

Also, while this is a common situation, I’m not totally fond of the kitchen eating area adjacent to the formal dining room. It’s like: Should we eat here, or should we walk another 8 feet and eat here? Again, it’s very common and sometimes unavoidable, so if you have this configuration, don’t feel badly.

However, in this reno, I believe they got rid of it. I don’t have enough images to fully understand what changed and what stayed the same.

But, here’s what Sarah had to say as an intro to the home remodel


young family home remodel kitchen with cute doggie - kitchen renovation This is my kitchen renovation. You had mentioned that you had used White Dove in your Bronxville kitchen renovation and that looked gorgeous so I went with that for my white kitchen cabinets.

It also ties in with the “kids office” above, which was previously honey brown wood paneling and is painted Benjamin Moore White Dove.

young family classic white kitchen - home remodeling

I’m sure that you also recognize the Morris Chandelier from Visual Comfort.

Small Morris Chandelier Dining Room Lighting- Suzanne Kasler Visual Comfort

[Yes, I do and you got the right size too. The small which is actually not that small. ]


Home remodeling butlers pantry - great home renovation
The island and butlers pantry cabinets are Benjamin Moore Deep Royal.

Another one of your favorite colors.

young family home remodel - kitchen-den-mud room
The walls are Classic Grey. Another favorite!


[That’s an interesting “rug” in the mud room.] ;]


young family home remodel kitchen desk area - mud room

and the mudroom is Chelsea Grey

THREE of your favorite Benjamin Moore paint colors.

I also painted the ceiling in our living room Quiet Moments. Another one!!


Do you need any more convincing for people that your color selections are on point!


[no, I don’t need any more convincing] ;]


I also included the dining room because it includes a Visual Comfort chandelier that you previously posted about – and I am SO in love with my wallpaperOh, and yes, that’s a Federal mirror that I saw after you did this post.


Lyford Trellis from China Seas available through Quadrille – to the trade

(Sarah has a friend who helped her get this, I believe)


By the time Sarah had sent me several emails with images, she was getting VERY good at taking them!


white dove kitchen renovationIn fact, I prefer many of them to the pro shots. While easy on the eyes, I feel that some of the pro shots look too flat and artificial. Plus they are over-exposed in an unnatural way. Something in between, would be my perfect interior photo.

Gorgeous shot of the mudroom that Sarah took. I’m putting this one on Pinterest pronto!

Shot of the den off the kitchen where the family gathers to watch TV. The upholstered furniture is from Lee Industries.

Love this space. Love the interior window and the composition with the square prints beneath it.

This window makes sense and is done right. These, windows, I don’t think so.

This is funny, but I did something similar in our basement 20 years ago!

young family home den rugThe rug looks super durable. I’m not sure what it is. It looks like jute from here.

And before someone pipes up and complains that the chairs are too big. No, the space is a little too small. But that can’t be helped and sometimes one just has to work with what they have and that is when the rules get thrown out.

I love the chairs and this area is all about hanging out and watching TV. So, no biggie about the overlap.

This is Lola the darling golden retriever in some of the previous pics.

Great bed! Awww… Why the punim? Did you lose your bone or something?


Schumacher Citrus Garden Wallpaper young family home remodeling powder roomThe Powder room off the kitchen with Schumacher’s Citrus Garden which you can see in this post.

Gorgeous. Powder rooms are a great place to do something you might not do in a larger space. And I love how this looks from the kitchen when the door’s open.

An evening shot of the beautiful dining room with the Visual Comfort Gramercy Chandelier which looks great. You can see a larger version of it in this post about a man who nearly lost his eye. ;]


visual comfort gramercy medium and gramercy large chandelier
This is the medium Gramercy Chandelier which you can see here.


Golden lab Lola - young family home remodeling home renovation
Well, thank you so much Sara and Lola for inviting us to enjoy your fabulous young family home. You did a wonderful job with the home remodel.  And, the furnishing and decoration, too. I think that it’s perfect.

I wish you and your darling family many years of happy, healthy moments, meals, holidays, birthdays, etc.

One day, if you’re like me, you will cherish those memories; even the greasy sloppy ones.


Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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