Making the Most of Existing Spaces

November 3, 2021

When Harry and Errin contacted me, they were excited about the possibilities their new home purchase in Marion offered.  They wanted to know if their ideas would work and how to make the most of the existing spaces.  At first glance, the interior of the house is awash in sunlight, streaming down from an open 3 story atrium that included the staircase.  Look again and what you saw was a sea of oak balusters moving at 45 degrees when the remaining house sat squarely at 90 degrees.


Simplification was the key to this project and re-purposing existing spaces.  First, the staircase.  In addition to being at an angle different than the rest of the house, the first leg of the stair emptied onto an oversized landing that was neither on the first floor or on the second floor.  We considered a variety of design options that boiled down to two concepts.  In both concepts, we would reduce the size of the jumbo landing and claim that space on the first floor as a walk in pantry complete with a second sink and second dishwasher.  The difference between the concepts was that we would create an enlarged sitting area at the second floor, or keep the 3 story atrium to the sunlight.  Harry and Errin opted to keep the sunlight as they did not need additional room in the home and were drawn to the changing light throughout the day in the space.


Second, the mechanical room, laundry area and entry from the garage was chopped into a variety of small spaces.  By removing a wall, we created a welcoming garage entry that still functioned as the work horse of the house. The mechancial room was enclosed with an antique pine sliding door, handcrafted by Harry; and we wrapped the entire room in horizontal white ship lap while adding built in cabinetry to house coats, electrical panels, and laundry baskets.  The addition of good lighting was key to the design and accented with a painted ceiling in Borrowed Light by Farrow & Ball.


Working with Angela Kimball and White Wood Kitchens, we were able to modernize the kitchen and open it up to both the walk in pantry and dining room.  The kitchen and dining room design were outfitted with decorative light fixtures by Visual Comfort that are not only complimentary of the kitchen design, but complimentary in scale to the volume of the original house design.  The Darlana extra large chandelier provides dimmable light in the evening to both the second and first floor and its matching linear pendant over the dining room table compliments the handcrafted dining room table for 10.  A perfect setting for Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends.


The details of any renovation do not end with floor plans, we worked through cabinetry details with White Wood Kitchens as well as Russell Noonan, the general contractor.  Russ and his trusted cabinet maker Tim, designed the living room built in that eliminated much of the open railing on the first run of the staircase and the laundry room cabinetry.  Harry and Russ made trips to Cataumet Lumber to the perfect piece of wood for each carpentry detail.


Meanwhile, Errin, Angela and Anthi made other design decisions, including where to hang parts of their existing art collection.  Additions were made to the entry hall, such as the original oil painting, Hank, by Providence-based artist David Witbeck; and an oar paddle wall hanging by Maralyn Menghini of Westbury, NY.


Sometimes, knowing how to repurpose existing space is just as useful as building new space.



  • Living Room Paint – Skimming Stone Estate Emulsion by Farrow & Ball
  • Sun Room Paint – Borrowed Light Modern Emulsion by Farrow & Ball
  • Front Door Paint – Hague Blue Full Gloss by Farrow & Ball adorned by a vintage sailboat door knocker by Colby Smith
  • Countertops – Fantasy Blue
  • Kitchen Cabinetry – Fieldstone
  • Lighting – Visual Comfort Darlana, Armillary Sphere, and EF Chapman library lights
  • Artwork – David Witbeck, Maralyn Menghini