Home Remodeling on a Smaller Scale

By Chicago Residential Architect Elissa Morgante

Not all home remodeling jobs are large-scale gut projects. Sometimes, refreshing and renewing is the goal – it’s faster, less disruptive, less expensive, and can truly transform the appearance of a house. This Grand Beach, Michigan vacation home is a case in point. Here I answer some questions about this project to give you some helpful (I hope!) ideas for your own house:

You’ve described this project as being “approachable.” Why?

Well, because it incorporates a number of updates and upgrades that are relatively easy to accomplish.

Such as?

A lot of what we did to this house was to make it feel fresher and more appealing. It was originally built in the 1970s, and had some of what I call “frou-frou” features. There were wrought iron New Orleans-style balconies, which were pretty grandiose and not what anyone would really want on their house today, so we took those off and replaced them with more traditional, wood railings. That one change made a huge difference to the exterior, and really set the tone for the changes inside.

Give us a tour of some of those interior changes.

We removed and replaced the original stair banister, which was pretty sparse and builder-looking. The balusters were four inches apart and incredibly minimal, which meant the staircase was totally lacking in character. We put a new banister on the existing stair, which added tremendous detail.

We also replaced all the trim on the first floor. It was very small and had no profiles to speak of, so we installed much richer-looking trims that really amplified the architecture of the public spaces and gave them a higher -quality look and feel.

What types of cosmetic alterations did you make?

We changed all the lighting, which was a huge improvement. We got rid of all the cans that pock-marked the ceilings and replaced them with decorative lighting that’s not only prettier to look at, but also lends a much nicer ambience.

And of course, we painted! You already know how much I love paint because it’s such a powerful change agent. Before, everything was beige. Now, the house has personality and life and makes these rooms feel like spaces you actually want to spend time in.

You updated the décor, too, didn’t you?

Yes we did. It’s always fun for us to marry architecture with design, and we love it when we’re able to do both so a project feels truly unified. In this case, it was all about updating color schemes to make the house feel bright and happy. This is a place where generations gather, so it needed to be fun and flexible. We put four chairs in one area instead of a more traditional sofa to encourage conversation; we also created a bunk room to sleep eight so no matter how many people show up for the weekend, there’s a bed for everyone. Our clients wanted every space to be used, and it is.

For more ideas on how you can update your own home, visit us at www.morgantewilson.com. Or give us a call – we’re always ready to talk!

Elissa Morgante
Morgante-Wilson Architects
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Read other posts related to home renovation design ideas by Chicago award-winning residential architects Morgante-Wilson:


Home Renovation Ideas: How to Make an Old House Feel Open, Airy, and New

How to Fnd your Style by Working with a Professional Interior Designer

Inspiring Outdoor Living Spaces: Design Ideas to Turn your Backyard into an Oasis

Morgante-Wilson Architects provides residential architectural services in Chicago, Evanston, Winnetka, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Wilmette, Northbrook, Deerfield, Northfield, and Ravinia

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