Laura Winstead and Jeremy Robison purchased this Craftsman-style house in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood back in 2013, before they were busy parents to Luke, 7, and Caroline, 5, and before the COVID pandemic changed their way of life some more.
“When we first moved in, there were two bedrooms downstairs and two upstairs in what was obviously a converted attic,” Laura recalls of the formerly compartmentalized 1,796-square-foot house.
Like most older homes, this one had been tweaked over the years. But Winstead and Robison launched an extensive remodel in January 2020, just before the COVID pandemic hit, and wrapped up in July 2020, smack in the middle of it. Fortunately, they couple had a dream team to faithfully—and safely—execute their vision: Morris Construction for the remodel and addition, and Julie Riggin of Julie Kay Design Studio to help select finishes and lighting, design built-ins, and furnish the home.
“Our wish list was to have a large kitchen in the back of the house, with vantage points to the dining and family rooms,” says Winstead. “We were also looking to add a dedicated home office, a spare guest room, and a playroom for the kids. And a mudroom was a must!”
The three-level addition, including a basement, resulted in a great room (the family room and kitchen) in the back, as well as space above for an en suite bedroom/bathroom for Caroline. Luke’s bedroom received a built-in bed and bookshelves. The kids have a playroom in the newly finished basement, which also includes an office for Robison. Winstead’s home-office nook is tucked into the newly enlarged master bedroom upstairs. The home’s overall square footage increased to 2,540 square feet.
Meanwhile, custom built-ins created a much-needed mudroom for the family. Bookcases were also added on one side of the redone fireplace in the front living room. The new gas fireplace in the family room is now flanked by built-in benches on either side.
Morris Construction replaced all the wood trim for a more contemporary feel, seamlessly combining the older parts of the house with the newer ones to remain respectful of its origins.
“I was hired initially to help confirm the lighting selections and design the furniture plans throughout,” says Riggin, who ended up staying on board to furnish the entire house, mostly from scratch—the homeowners kept only their living room furniture.
Lighting selections included a beaded chandelier in the new dining room, which also features crisp white wainscoting and patterned grasscloth wallpaper for spatial definition within the open floor plan. Two airy glass-and-brass globe pendants now hang above a new kitchen island.
“I grew up at the beach in Wilmington, North Carolina,” says Winstead, “so when it came to decor, I wanted a sophisticated take on a beachy feel.”
The home’s palette adheres to a range of coastal blues, from the deep navy of the living room to the soft denim in the family room. Woven wood blinds throughout, a rattan-wrapped bed frame in the guest room, and a jute mirror frame in the family room all play with the subtle seashore vibe. The elegance comes from clean furniture lines, not getting too nautical, and gold hardware finishes.
“It was very important to the family to have modern yet comfortable furnishings,” says Riggin. But everything had to stand up to daily use for a young family with pets because the family has a cocker spaniel. The furniture is covered in performance fabric, resistant to spills and easy to clean, while the coffee tables have rounded corners or are upholstered. The mudroom provides even more efficiency with its individualized storage options.
“We started this project one week before the COVID lockdown,” says Riggin. “We installed in the middle of everything! It was a beautiful transformation that we all needed to see come to life during such a strange and challenging time.”
“The redesign has such an excellent flow and has turned out so well for our family,” says Winstead. “We have very much enjoyed the additional space since we have all been home during the pandemic.”
Still, by design, the front facade looks hardly different, despite its fresh palette and quiet remodel, blending in with the older homes around it.
“We love being out on the front porch,” says Winstead, “especially now, to connect and say hi to our neighbors.”
What young families should consider when remodeling:
- Choose durable and family-friendly materials— quartz counters and performance fabrics are a must.
- Factor in storage needs for all those toys and books, and create built-ins where you can.
- Select unique light fixtures that are both beautiful and functional.
- Mix materials and metals for a unique, interesting home.
- Be intentional about traffic flow in your space, and devise a furniture plan that works best for your everyday life.
Source: Julie Kay Design Studio