Renovation 1: Heart of the home
Athens-based interior designer Monica Stewart took her 1950s kitchen down to the studs because its galley-style layout was ill suited for her young, active family of five.
By removing several walls, she combined a former hallway, walk-in pantry, and dining room into an expanded kitchen and keeping room. She then conjured a modern-meets-traditional space that pays homage to her roots and community.
Describe the space pre-renovation.
It was a narrow galley kitchen where we were constantly bumping into each other. The kids would run through while we were cooking and hang out on the floor, which wasn’t safe or ideal. Even worse was the green linoleum flooring and cream-colored cabinets. The laundry room was located in the garage, and it was tricky squeezing a large laundry basket past the car.
What inspired the new design?
The white, green, and gold floral china I inherited from my great-grandmother. I enjoy combining beauty with sentiment. There is so much out there to choose from—colors, fabrics, and patterns—that it’s easy to get lost in the sea of trends. I believe timeless design begins with something that stirs meaning
Were you nervous about using such a big dose of color?
Dark green is classic and neutral, and it’s a great way to bring the feeling of the outdoors in.
What was your top priority?
Creating a look that was fresh yet historical. Something too modern would have been a disservice to the home’s architecture. For example, I designed a built-in china cabinet and sideboard to look original to the house.
What is your favorite design element?
I’m in love with the marble vent hood. It’s subtle but makes a statement. I sourced the tiles at Builder Depot. My husband jokes that we live in a government building with all the marble!
What’s the most useful?
The children’s lockers in the connecting mudroom keep the entry tidy.
What was the greatest challenge?
The crown molding, of all things. Although a small detail, our profile is no longer made because our house was built in 1952. We were able to create something that is very similar and blends in with the rest of the house.