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Design

Bye Bye, Open Concept: When This Family Couldn’t Build An Addition, They * Added * Interior Walls (+ A Sweet Nursery Reveal)

Just when our kitchen was completed, our deck was done, and we thought we were finally finished with any home renovations for at least a few years, we decided to try for a third baby. Our two perfect kiddos had always been the plan, but my husband and I also always said that a benefit of starting our family while we were young was being at liberty to change our minds.

design by ilana saul | photo by stephanie todaro | from: a galley kitchen remodel that doubled the size and function (with some big help from actual legos)

One of the things that might have stopped us from trying earlier was that we loved our Los Angeles neighborhood and had no desire to move. (Would you want to give up this view?) But we also weren’t quite sure how a third kid would work in our current space. I’m all for siblings sharing a room, but with a bigger age gap, it felt less than ideal (my older two kids were already 5 ½ and 8 ½ when their baby sister was born).
Our first thought was to add another bedroom to the front of our house to make space for the baby, but when we went to get permits, we found out that most of our front yard is city property (!!!), meaning we didn’t have the space we thought we did for an actual addition. It was a major disappointment, but given our past renovation experience we knew we just had to get creative and find a way to make it work! (We’ve done so much work on our house that my 6-year-old recently requested in total earnest that we build him a new room for his LEGO creations.) Back to the drawing board we went…

Before this round of renovations, our front door opened straight into the living room. I always wished we had a more formal entryway with a good place to drop our shoes and bags. So, with that in mind, we came up with the idea to add interior walls to build a new bedroom and add an entryway at the same time. I have trouble visualizing things on paper, so my husband helped me prop up my kids’ Nugget play couch cushions and some seamless stands to see how everything would look in real life.

As it turned out, adding interior walls was also a huge money and time saver. My husband and his contractor father even did all the framing themselves, and we only had to hire someone to do the drywall, electrical, and paint!

Bookshelf | Framed 3-D Artwork | Framed Hallway Print | Bench | Flushmount Lighting | Sconces | Wallpaper

We got the entryway I always wanted, saved so much money versus a true addition, and made the most out of an underutilized spot in our super-long living room. Necessity really is the mother of invention, isn’t it?

Dresser (vintage from Bananafish Vintage Furniture) | Crib (Facebook Marketplace but here’s a similar one) | Lamp (unavailable) | Side Table (vintage)

I know there are no guarantees when it comes to getting pregnant, but as it turns out we found out we were expecting Story Salinger Saul not long after the new room was completed. We only had the space for a tiny 8×10 room (no closet, so we can’t officially call it a “bedroom” if we ever decide to put our house on the market), but it feels perfect for our family. There will most certainly be a loft bed in Story’s future to free up floor space once she’s out of the crib, but what kid doesn’t think loft beds are super cool?!

Mirror | Dresser (vintage from Bananafish Vintage Furniture) | Pear Basket | Canopy | Wall Hanging (DIY) | Mobile (DIY using wool ornaments from various Etsy sellers) | Changing Pad Cover (similar) | Framed Print (similar) | Play Mat

Mirror | Dresser (vintage from Bananafish Vintage Furniture) | Pear Basket | Canopy | Crib (Facebook Marketplace) | Wall Hanging (DIY) | Mobile (DIY using wool ornaments from various Etsy sellers) | Changing Pad Cover (similar) | Framed Print (similar) | Play Mat

While a small space has its challenges (layout can be super tricky), I find it much more manageable to decorate. I only had an 8×10 room to fill so I was able to focus my energy on a smaller number of really special design details, instead of stretching myself thin trying to furnish a giant room.

The inspiration for Story’s nursery was California Casual-Meets-English-Countryside. Scalloped edges, whimsical details, ditsy florals, and patterns mix with natural wood tones. It’s meant to be perfectly imperfect!

Scalloped Shelving | Quilt | Heart Pillow (no longer available) | Gingham Pillow | Curtains

Framed Print (similar) | Baby Wraps | Bookrack (in white) | Switchplate Cover

At this point, I’m big on challenging the assumption that having kids always necessitates more square footage, a huge car, more money, a move to suburbia, or more, more, more of anything. “Want better, not more” is my motto when it comes to design. I hope this project makes a good case for turning a starter home into your forever home, living with less stuff, and taking a leap of faith when something (like that third baby!) feels right.

We care a lot about the planet, so this solution also felt much more in line with those values, too. We shuttle our brood around to ballet, basketball, and gymnastics in a single car. I made a commitment not to buy any brand-new baby items this time and source most of Story’s clothes secondhand. I am a stickler for clearing any clutter and not buying things we don’t really need. I’d rather have a smaller, more efficient space that feels creative, comforting, and full of love.

Want to see more photos of our space? You can follow along here. And thanks to my friend and neighbor Lucia Tran of Her Studio for the beautiful photos!

*Design by Ilana Saul
**Photos by Lucia Tran of Her Studio

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Linda
3 months ago

Wow, I like this so much!!! Cudos! I especially love the curved transition from the wall to the ceiling. Such a cohesive look, as if it’s always been that way. A very cool detail.
Making do with what’s there, not a “need” of boys and girls to have their own bathrooms, etc….

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Linda

Thank you so much! We had curved ceilings throughout the room, so being able to keep consistent with the new room really helped keep everything looking cohesive!

Jeanne
3 months ago

Congratulations of both new additions-a human and a room! Great job.
Can you tell me the source of the blue pattern rug in the living room? Thanks.

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeanne

Thank you! Rug was from Lulu & Georgia (Jinnie Rug, Light Gray and Light Blue), but we got it a few years back and it’s since sold out.

Sarah
3 months ago

Absolutely love this!!!! I feel inspired to see how I might make use of a similar space…

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Aw, thank you!

Mandy
3 months ago

I absolutely love this post. My husband and I have always lived in larger cities with our current city being the exception. It is not a large city but also not small. We have made new friends here and the constant question we receive is – when are you moving out to (fill in the blank). Never is the answer. We live in a gorgeous historical neighborhood right downtown – close to our jobs and everything we do outside of grocery shopping. When asked if I feel bad that my toddler doesn’t have a designated playroom – the answer is not only no, but hell no. Want better not more if the perfect definition. Everyone is different, which I understand, but for me – this post was perfect. PS. I am absolutely obsessed with those scalloped shelves from home depot. Who would have guessed? Thank you!

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Mandy

Love this so much. Thank you for sharing that sentiment. (And home depot for the win, right?!)

Kristi
3 months ago

Love everything about this-space, the thoughtfulness, etc. Funny how the smaller living room feels so much cozier and visually looks more pulled together. Doing a reno of our kitchen soon–aiming for unfitted with lots of marketplace finds. Planning to close off a doorway for a solid wall. Life is stressful these days. My home needs to be as grounded as possible and less open concept achieves that for me–more nooks, less sight lines. Congrats and you’re brave too. I said I’m waiting for grandkids (rather than have a third) as I didn’t want to try to parent another round of kids with phones–but the joy in these pictures reminds me that: love and life always wins.

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Kristi

Aw, thank you! And good luck on that remodel!

Lisa
3 months ago

I REALLY love this, and the idea you can take your current space and add walls to create new spaces (it’s almost a “duh” moment, but it’s not usually the first thing that comes to mind!). We also cart around our kids in a single car and live in DC (not the ‘burbs), so I really appreciate the mindset of having kids doesn’t necessarily mean a conplete change in life. I’d love to see the rest of this house!

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Lisa

Yes, our thoughts exactly! We shared out kitchen on this site a couple years back: https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/galley-kitchen-remodel-ideas

Vera
3 months ago

Ahhh love this so much!! What a precious gift and an excellent use of space.

Hilary
3 months ago

Gorgeous! Proof that sometimes smaller is better, and that necessity is the mother of all invention.

Susan
3 months ago

Love it!

Kimberly
3 months ago

Love this nursery and Ilana’s outlook on life! Very cool that you are a one car family with three kids. We too are choosing to raise our three kids with one car and in a smaller space (1300 square feet is small for where we live in Utah) because it is more aligned with our values. By living closer to the city instead of moving to a bigger house in the suburbs we can take transit more, ride our bikes to things, etc. Also small spaces necessitate less stuff which means less I have to clean up! Anyway, very beautiful room (I especially love the pretty floral textiles layered in) and I’m sure it will transition well to a big girl room as she grows up.

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Kimberly

Love that! Unfortunately public transit isn’t amazing in L.A., but we still use it when we can, and we also have e-cargo bikes!

Kimberly
3 months ago
Reply to  Ilana Saul

Oh, that is awesome! We have an e-cargo bike too (a MADSEN) and it makes school pickup so fun. Would love to see more of your home on here! Truly lovely!

Summer
3 months ago

This is LOVELY! Thank you for sharing. It’s so encouraging to see an example of the beauty that can come of re-thinking cultural norms. We are a large family with a single car making similar choices. Our oldest is now 17, and we’re all so close. You’ll have multiple transition moments in life when people will say “now you need ___” but if you resist it, you’ll look back, and wonder why you even considered it. Space to spread out makes “normal” easier, but it comes at a cost, and I’m excited to see more and more people decide it’s a cost they are not willing to pay. You will never regret making choices to keep stuff small and family big. 🙂 Well done!

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Summer

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful sentiment. This is exactly the values we hope to convey and the closeness we aim to achieve. Your comment almost made me tear up!

Summer
3 months ago
Reply to  Ilana Saul

I’m so glad. All the best to you and your family!
Oh, and forgot to say before, but Story is such a sweet name!

Kat Selah
3 months ago

This is stunning!! If you ever sell, a closet only has to be 12″ deep (and the room has to have an egress window and certain other small requirements) so you could easily throw one in there to shoot up the home value. Great work!

MKK
3 months ago
Reply to  Kat Selah

Or, it can be marketed as an office. Bravo, the creative thinking on solving your space issue.
This is the first time I have loved a switchplate cover that does not blend into the wall.

Lauren
3 months ago
Reply to  Kat Selah

I was thinking they could market it as an office. Assuming it’s a 3/2 and there’s not another dedicated office space, I feel like a private office space for WFH is a huge selling point now.

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Lauren

Yes, it would also be a great office space! But luckily we don’t have any plans to leave anytime soon anyway.

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Kat Selah

Yes, it has the egress window, but we’d have to add a closet!

Elise
3 months ago

What a fun baby’s room she created. And the living room still looks great. My only comment is having that heavy mirror over the changing table in SoCal is not safe because of earthquakes.

T.
3 months ago
Reply to  Elise

I’m sure she used heavy fasteners. That’s what I always did, and through many many large earthquakes, I never had anything come off the wall.

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Elise

Good thinking. It’s quite secure! We worry about Earthquake safety a lot, which is why we have nothing over the bed.

Rebecca
3 months ago

Highly recommend checking out Yellow Brick Home’s kiddo’s bedroom for ideas when Story gets bigger. They did a lot with a small space. Loved what you did and that you did it with existing space, very inspiring!

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Wow, what an inspiring space they have! Thanks for the tip!

N.
3 months ago

Love this!! After growing up in a 5,000 sq ft home, I’m also leaning into NOT having a ton of space. Would like to see more of this content.

Kirsten
3 months ago

Not on the same scale, but we just did this as well. We relocated for work and scaled down our house size. We had one large bedroom upstairs (that our son and oldest daughter shared) with a large, attached closet that had a sloped wall. I could visualize a cute built in bed area for our girls (4 & 17months) if we moved a wall and created the space. It was executed beautifully, and I think my 4-year old’s favorite thing is her bed curtains. I love what you did and life with three kids is never dull, best of luck!

M
3 months ago

This is so lovely! And it especially resonates with me as an urban mama of 2 young ones, renovating a compact house.

Jorie
3 months ago

I must know where that gorgeous floral wallpaper in your entryway is from!

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Jorie

It’s Rifle Paper Co.! Linked below the photos of it.

AC
3 months ago

Love the new entryway and bedroom. Very smart use of that space, great design choices, and great perspective on meeting needs with creative rethinking/reuse of existing square feet.

Gretchen
3 months ago

So many sweet details. Not sure which is my favorite: the curvy switch plate, the DIY mobile, or the cute pear basket!

MBJ
3 months ago

Really, really love seeing some small-to-medium size living without it being a gimmick like the mobile tiny homes. Just a normal sized house like most of us have and a focus on quality materials and being happy with just what you need, instead of getting every.single.want. Lovely space as well, it’s sweet and light.

Stephanie
3 months ago

This is so pretty!! I love how the entryway turned out with that beautiful bench. Thanks for sharing with us! Great inspiration.

KWu
3 months ago

This project is so smart on so many levels! Especially for modeling out what it might look like using the Nuggets before committing to the work. I appreciate the other comments pointing out additional details to enjoy like the curved ceiling and the scalloped switch plate. Love this kind of project to balance the inspirational new builds vs. making it work within an existing structure.

Andrew Bennett
3 months ago

Thank you for sharing! Beautiful concept.

R
3 months ago

I really like the author’s style. Her home looks so … homey. Well done.

Hannah
3 months ago

This is so beautiful! And the timing is perfect: I’m currently setting up an 8×10 room for our baby boy, that’s really more like 8X9 because we managed to squeeze a wall bed in there when it was our guest room. It is a challenge to arrange, but I love the inspiration!

3 months ago

Such a timely post! As an artist who has spent the better part of 3+ years agonizing over what I just knew was a way too small studio in our home and driving myself and my husband crazy trying to figure out how to build and PAY FOR a detached studio in our backyard along with all the other projects our home needs, I recently came to a very similar, albeit less permanent solution. We’re taking part of a very underutilized guest room/office and building a floating wall to divide the room– creating much needed artwork storage on one side and a simple, small guest space on the other. Doing so will free up a large corner of my current studio and will add function to what has become just a dumping ground 99% of the time. We’ve also rethought plans to “open up” the space between our living room and kitchen so that we can keep most of the existing layout when we remodel the kitchen. “Want better, not more” is the perfect way to sum up how I’m now feeling about our home, and by extension, our life. By spending/needing to save up less money for home projects… Read more »

lor
3 months ago

Yes! Such a smart reno, looks gorgeous. LOVE this: “I’m big on challenging the assumption that having kids always necessitates more square footage, a huge car, more money, a move to suburbia, or more, more, more of anything. “Want better, not more”” #truth

Jb
3 months ago

My room growing up-age 5 to 20- was 8 x 10 and I loved it.
This is beautiful.

Sally
3 months ago

My favourite sort of post. Clever AND beautiful and very creative.
Also design within reach. About to go and read the kitchen post now.

Kasia
3 months ago

I’m in my 50’s, very good job, no kids, and my partner and I have never lived in a place greater than 1000 square feet. I tell myself it’s because of cost, but tbh it’s also because I just enjoy smaller, cozy, more interesting homes. But, I absolutely love that more people are considering smaller homes and the values that impact this decision. I have to check myself fairly often when visiting friends and their ginormous “grown up” homes (for lack of a better descriptor) and I find myself feeling a bit jealous or a little inadequate. I have to remember we all make choices and I can be proud of mine, not embarrassed as if I’m somehow not as successful because of my home choice. Anyway, thank you for this wonderful post and validating all my own reasons for small home living!

Erin Prohaska
3 months ago

This is such a cool, smart solution! What a great home. Would love to know the beautiful kitchen cabinet color if you have a moment. Thank you!

Gabi
3 months ago
Reply to  Erin Prohaska

Her Instagram said “The lowers are Wolf Gray by Benjamin Moore and the uppers are Carrara by Dunn Edwards.”

Erin Prohaska
3 months ago
Reply to  Gabi

Thank you very much, Gabi! Appreciate it!

M
3 months ago

I have to ask, what does that beautiful living room bookcase hold when it’s not a photo shoot? Is that where toys live?

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  M

Ha, that is actually how we have it styled all the time! Baby is only crawling so far, not standing, so we might have to rethink the picture frames on the upper shelf once she can reach them. But everything on the bottom shelf is non-breakable/accessible to her. There is a steel drum she likes to bang on and everything else is just books/durable wooden items. We have a couple of baskets of baby toys that we keep in the living room, yet it’s the kitchen spoons and remote control that she always wants to play with the most.

M
3 months ago
Reply to  Ilana Saul

Ah, brilliant. We have a 9mo and 3yo and you’re spot on, they prefer the rolling pin and kitchen pans anyway. Our toy shelves are full of nonsense and now I’m inspired to purge!

Julie
3 months ago

I LOVE your curated style so much as well as your intentionality behind it. It looks so bright and warm.

Danielle
3 months ago

I would love to see how you had the living room furniture laid out before and after the room addition!

Gabi
3 months ago
Reply to  Danielle

Pic from her Instagram looks very similar but they nixed the dining table and moved everything over:

IMG_6131
Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Gabi

The dining table is still there—these are actually our back doors, not the front. The front space where the new room is now was super under-utilized. We had the piano more toward the front of the room and then just had a circular rug/empty floor space. Now the piano is squished into the corner a bit but there’s still enough room to play it! I’ve been trying to find a good pic!

Mara
3 months ago
Reply to  Ilana Saul

Even better! How great that you didn’t have to lose your dining table.

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Danielle

I had to screenshot an old video, but this should give you a good idea! A lot more empty space with the piano more toward our front wall and a tall bookcase we’ve since gotten rid of.

Screenshot-2024-02-07-at-3.31.06-PM
Sara
3 months ago
Reply to  Ilana Saul

What a fabulous post. I agree with your ethos about everything stated here. This is the picture I was hoping to see! And it’s wild how much more useful the space is now and how creativity is the way! My husband and I live with our three kids (8, 6, 4) who share a room in our 2br apartment in center city Philadelphia and we have a huge open concept living/dining/family room that we daydream about doing this exact thing in to make an extra room. Wonder what the feasibility is for a renter. I remember seeing removable walls when we lived in NYC but they were so ugly. This is beautiful and I’m still ogling it (and you precious babe!). Great job and thanks for sharing!

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  Danielle

Another pic for reference.

Screenshot-2024-02-07-at-3.32.38-PM
Mary
3 months ago

Beautiful space and great idea to carve out additional room from entry area. Can you share where you sourced the stools/coffee tables, please? Thank you!

Indy
3 months ago
Reply to  Mary

Upholstered Natural Wood Ottoman – Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia In Indigo from Target.

JeffreyC
3 months ago

Our guest room is smaller than 8X10 and we have an entire wall of floor to ceiling closet cabinetry with a built-in drop-down desk, so it definitely can be done while still leaving the room feeling spacious. We had to keep it at 16″ deep so hanging clothes are done on a retail display type of hanging bar with the clothes facing forward.

Ilana Saul
3 months ago
Reply to  JeffreyC

That’s so smart to utilize the retail style hanging bar in a shallow closet! This room is 8×10 WITHOUT any closet so adding one would eat into that space, but at some point we’ll have to figure out some expanded storage solution once her clothes aren’t all teeny tiny (right now they are all in the dresser).

Kara S
3 months ago

I love this! I love smaller cozy spaces with lots of rooms, not a fan of open floor plans. This wall looks like it was always meant to be here. Also it was genius the way you built out the temporary wall out of cushions to see how it really felt. Just doing lines of tape on the floor doesn’t give the whole story about how it will “feel” higher up. It’s a small detail but I really don’t think I’ve seen it done before. I hope lots of people see your idea and get to learn from it. And share your beautiful rooms!