NICE AND EASY
You don’t have to go through a
major overhaul to quickly update a
room. Here’s how I put a fresh spin
on things without a lot of drama:
1. REPLACE KEY LIGHT
A cluster of fixtures is the new
look in overhead lights. Hung at
different heights, these matte lamps
by Tom Dixon look dramatic above
a dining table or hung low in a living
room corner as functional sculpture.
2. ROLL OUT A NEW RUG
This new chunky seagrass
carpet in deep, rich tones will
give a living room or bedroom
a chic cottage feel.
3. UPDATE HARDWARE
The right knob on all your
doors elevates the overall look
of your home.
4. SLIPCOVER SOFAS AND
Since I have four cats, slipcovers
are a way of life for me. Not only
do they protect the upholstery from
claws, they also offer more than one
look. It’s always fun to change them
with the seasons.
I caught the renovation bug 15 years ago, when I was remodelling my
first house. Every day I’d rush home after work like a kid with a new
puppy, anxious to see what my contractor had done. As the walls came
down and light fixtures went up, I could picture a new life unfolding
in my beautiful new space.
Since then, I’ve completed dozens of renovations, both for myself and
for clients. A couple of them missed their completion deadlines. One
time, a pregnant homeowner had a meltdown over a two-day delay.
And there was the time my boyfriend moved into my house halfway
through a reno, forcing us to double the closet space on the fly. But
despite all the headaches and drama, I’ve stayed hooked on renovating.
My most challenging reno to date happened a few years back, when
the condo next door to my parents’ came up for sale. I casually
suggested they think about buying it and expanding to take over an
entire floor of the building. On a piece of tissue, I quickly sketched
out the type of space they could create, and two days later they called
me, declaring, “We bought it; you’re hired!” They promptly headed
south for the winter, leaving me to navigate the reno alone, with a
no-room-for-movement return date in the spring. The pressure was on.
It turned out that breaking through the condo’s walls was more
complicated than I’d anticipated: the engineer rejected the design
from my original tissue sketch, and I had to rework the plan. Getting
approvals from the condo board wasn’t any easier. In the dead of winter,
I drove a group of them to a friend’s house to hear his air conditioning
unit — the same one I was hoping to install in my parents’ place. There
we were, standing in his driveway covered in snow, turning the air
conditioner on and off while I tried to convince them it wasn’t too
loud. They didn’t buy it, and I had to come up with another new plan.
To top things off, my mother and I disagreed on some key design
choices, which evolved into some heated, um, …“discussions.”
Now that the reno is finished, however (it only went two weeks over
deadline!), not a week goes by where my mother doesn’t call to tell me
how much she looks forward to coming home after being away. And at
my current house, not a day goes by when I’m not grateful for the way
my new spa-inspired bathroom helps me unwind. No matter how
frustrating or difficult a reno becomes, the bottom line is
improving your home can improve your life. It can make
you better organized, more inspired to entertain or, like
my mother — and me — simply happier to be home.
Portrait photography by Gabor Jurina/Hair and makeup by Jenia O’Connor/Beat pendant lights, Tom Dixon; Stark Carpet seagrass rug sample, Red Carpet & Rug Co.; knob, Baldwin Hardware; chair, Absolutely North.
Find out Suzanne’s golden rules for surviving a
reno. Click Design at Houseandhome.com.