Today’s reveal is my favorite type of “work” and why I feel like the luckiest person on the planet that this is my job. Velux skylights approached me about doing a makeover for a family that could use some “brightening up,” and I said “yes” very quickly. When your job is helping others through design and style, you feel pretty darn lucky. We posted about the contest here, and hundreds of you entered to get the free makeover, which included new skylights. Raeann secretly entered Kristen for the contest, both being avid readers for years (THANK YOU) and their story was one that seemed perfect for what we were going to be able to bring to them. Here they are, with myself and the design lead on this job, Julie Rose.
Kristen and Raeann have been together for 7 years, married for nearly one. They live in Salt Lake City and bought their house a year and a half ago. Last year, Kristen (32) was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Cholangiocarcinoma, which she was predisposed to genetically. Typically, those who are diagnosed with this type of cancer are over the age of 65 and found more commonly in males. This is why it was very shocking that Kristen got diagnosed at such a young age. Obviously, that threw their life into a spin of fear and just so many unknowns. She began a clinical test and rounds of chemo, one that didn’t make her lose her hair (it’s a new clinical trial), but of course inside she wasn’t feeling good AT ALL.
So when Raeann entered her and we saw her bedroom, we knew that they were the perfect family for this. Kristen was spending a lot of time in her bedroom, resting, sleeping and recovering from the chemo treatments, and we were about to make that room so much more beautiful, comfortable and yes, bright and airy.
Here’s what Raeann envisioned for the space: “My wife just started chemo and is spending a lot more time in bed these days. I would love for our bedroom to be more of a haven for her—a serene, comforting, and light space that brings her peace and happiness when other things are tough.”
So Julie and myself flew out to Salt Lake City to meet them and get a sense of what their style was and really understand what they wanted for the space. I can’t tell you how wonderful they were and we clicked immediately and didn’t want to leave. I wrote about the process yesterday as it was fast and saved us a ton of time. They trusted us—with some guidance—which made the process so fast and easy plus we really loved their style and what they had pinned to a Pinterest board for the giveaway. I know that you guys are awesome, but to hang out with two that have been reading for years solidifies that I have the BEST READERS IN THE WORLD.
Their Functional Needs:
1. More light: The room needed more light and was honestly a perfect candidate for skylights. I am a firm believer that natural light changes the entire mood and feel of a room. In fact, studies show that people in hospitals with windows, who can see nature, may heal faster. By putting in skylights not only do you get more light, but you can see the sky, the clouds, the blue while you are laying down (and the stars at night). We put in two Velux No Leak Solar Powered “Fresh Air” skylights that are roughly 2 feet wide by 3 feet tall on the eastern wall because morning light is soft and prettier than afternoon light. Your Velux consultant or contractor can help you determine the best placement in your room so you are optimizing the light in the smartest way.
2. A bigger, cozier, bed: Right from the start, we determined that the bed should stay along the wall it was on initially but I convinced them that they had to get a king-size bed (which for them meant a brand new mattress from Tuft & Needle). They also wanted something more dog-friendly, i.e. lower so their pup, Izzy, could get on and off easily in her older years.
3. More nightstand storage: When you are in bed all day, you accumulate things around you (cups, books, etc.), so more space both in and out of drawers would be helpful.
Their Stylistic Wants:
Cozy and comfortable: After the initial small talk, we asked Raeann and Kristen to describe the feel of the room they wanted when they walked in for the reveal. Words like serene, cozy, comfortable, bright and Zen came out of their mouths and into our design minds. That, combined with being able to sit down with them and go through their pre-pinned Pinterest board, was a great learning experience to see what and why people are drawn to a random room from the internet.
Lots of layers, textures but not too many patterns: The wall-to-wall carpet was not bad but we decided to layer a lighter and brighter rug with some texture would make the space feel bigger and cozier. We went with subtle white Roman shades from Tonic Living (who were gracious enough to RUSH deliver these to us, thank you Tonic Living!) that filtered some light but visually “disappear” when needed. Oh, and as for things to avoid: NO velvet. Kristen HATES the feel of velvet for some reason, like my cats used to hate fur, she is repelled by the feeling of it.
As we wrote yesterday, we wanted it to feel serene but luxurious, neutral but with personality. So soft, so easy, so stress-less, with more storage and more bright (yet soft) light.
We planned from LA, and loaded up a big moving truck the Saturday before the week of the install. Within two days (with a lot of prep from my team, led by Julie), we transformed this space and absolutely brightened up their room (and yes, also their life). It’s so warm, happy, layered and yet simple and easy to navigate both stylistically and functionally.
The Color Palette: We kept all the major pieces neutral and calm, and then layered on some higher contrast. Honestly, this is really the safest and easiest route to go if you aren’t into having a risky bedroom. It also keeps it really easy to change styles and colors in accessories and bedding. That bed, from Living Spaces, is a STEAL at $450 (for a KING!) and that upholstered headboard makes it so much more comfortable than the original wood one they had in the space. Kristen and Raeann both liked navy (as do we, duh) so it was really an EHD palette that we are very comfortable with—gray, white, navy with a lot of wood and natural textures.
Textures: While we don’t have a lot of high contrast patterns, we do have a lot of textures throughout not only in the bedding but also the furniture. Please note the wood/woven nightstand from Serena and Lily. It’s very special and not just because it has leather pulls. The rug has a strangely soft texture (and is also so affordable for how soft and huge it is, a 9’x12′ for $338); it also brings in a slight pattern. Even the lamp has visual texture, with splatter paint all over it. Kristen loves woven window treatments but since we wanted to make sure the space could be completely dark during the day, we brought this element into the space through the nightstands and pendant over the bed.
Art: In an attempt to always have art be a more personal element in the room, we brought in a lot of family photos that we put into readymade frames.
But, we found the perfect large scale art for the space in the most kismet way. For our stay, Julie booked a house for the whole team through Airbnb not knowing at the time that it belonged to Holly Addi who is a local artist in SLC. Her abstract paintings are INCREDIBLE and also owns one of the cutest stores in town called Arte Haus Collectif. Her work is so beautiful and I wanted (still want) many pieces for my own home. If you don’t live in the SLC area, you can purchase her work through Uprise Art and she has a lot more in that collection that the whole team loved.
After hearing this story and seeing how perfect her piece would be in here, she was lovely enough to cut us a deal so this piece could live in the room. Look how incredible it is. We loved that it was overscale for that wall and yet fit so cohesively into the space. Thank you, Holly!
They were SO happy when they saw the piece and I told them the story.
I would be psyched, too. 🙂
We also added a ceramic sculpture over the bed from MQuan which was the perfect textural yet quiet piece that engaged the space without being too big.
Now for the reason we are all here:
The Skylights: The two new skylights transformed the vibe of the space a couple of weeks before we redecorated. We saw photos and sighed with relief, knowing that it was SO much better already. The morning light floods in but don’t worry, the remote-controlled room darkening shades keep it dark until they are ready to get out of bed.
I have a ton of experience with these shades, having them in our master bedroom at the mountain house as well and opening them in the morning is an absolute JOY. If you are worried about big blocks of light or too much light, just know it’s all about placement of the skylights. Overhead, around noon, yes you are going to get more of a block of light that is actually really beautiful (and you can close the shades for a daytime nap), but in the morning and evening, it’s soft and creates a diffused light ambiance. Yes. Call me a huge fan of these.
They also open to let air out which is great for this family because they only had one floor vent for their central AC and even had to add a window unit (that we took out for the shots) to keep the room cool and since it’s on the second floor, it can pull air from the house and let it out during the hot SLC summer days.
Izzy is very much loving the fresh air (and of course her new bed from The Wolf Nest).
Storage: Besides the huge nightstands, on the other side of the room we have this BEAUTIFUL dresser by Hedge House Furniture, which I’ve wanted for a while. It’s so simple, beautiful and handmade (in the US).
Look at those beautiful lines and the finish of the wood. Since this dresser was a bit smaller than the one they had previously, we later revealed to Kristen and Raeann that we bought additional dressers for inside their closet and yes, Raeann cried again which was very sweet.
Seating: Kristen and Raeann didn’t really need seating in here, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t give them a pretty cute little corner vignette with one of our favorite contemporary chairs from Article. The scale on it is large while still being simple, and the wood and leather tie in with the nightstands so they speak to each other. We got the stool from MidCenturyLA which we love (they might have more, we bought two, one lives in the mountain house). We added more family photos, a sculptural light from Target, and some cozy elements like the throw from The Citizenry and pillow from Lulu and Georgia.
Bedding: We wanted the bedding to be super comfortable and cozy, with enough texture and pattern to have interest but to mostly be neutral and calm. It’s a lot of more affordable (and very soft) Target sheets and duvets with some more splurge-y pillows from Filling Spaces and Lulu and Georgia—once again showing that it’s all about styling and context.
A massive thanks to my entire team, led by Julie Rose…you killed it! And to the most lovely “clients” who really gave us creative freedom to make their lives better. When we did our first surprise makeover (or Feel Good Flash Makeover) it was never intended for them have a partner, but my god, if this can be our new business, companies helping us fund these makeover that make lives better, then it’s such a win.win.win. And yes, we’ll be able to do so many more than we ever could on our own.
Thank you, Velux, for making our job more fun and fulfilling and for helping us make this room, and this family’s lives, brighter.
Speaking of which…did they like it???
The answer is YES. They couldn’t really believe what we had done in those two days and were shocked that it was their new bedroom, that everything was now theirs.
And good news: Kristen finished her first round of chemo and is awaiting tests but she feels decent…she’s still excited to get a lot of use out of this bedroom on the weekends and nights.
They wrote to us after the makeover and said this about their experience:
“We feel so lucky to have had this experience. We LOVE our new space and we were blown away by the kindness and generosity of Emily’s team and at Velux. We love waking up in our serene bedroom because it really feels like a retreat from all the other chaos we have in our lives right now. And Emily was so right, the upholstered headboard really is like another pillow. :)”
Please watch the video of the full makeover and reveal, here:
Thanks again, Velux Skylights for being so darn wonderful, both in product and throughout this process. And a big thank you to Kristen and Raeann for being fun, easy and so open to our ideas, and, of course, thank you EHD team (Julie Rose and Emily Bowser on the design, install and styling, plus Mallory Wackerman and Chandler Frame for assisting day-of) for all your hard work, long nights, creativity and care.
We honestly can’t wait to do more.
If you want to know what product we used and who we love, here you go:
1. Bed Frame from Living Spaces | 2. Stoneware Discs by MQUAN | 3. Rattan Basket Light | 4. White Duvet Cover | 5. Sheet Set | 6. Throw Blanket | 7. Moroccan Oversized Bedding Throw | 8. Rug from RugsUSA | 9. Sheepskin Rug from Article | 10. Lumbar Pillow from Lulu and Georgia | 11. Lumbar Pillow from Filling Spaces | 12. Table Lamp from Lulu and Georgia | 13. Nightstand from Serena & Lily | 14. Ceramic Planter | 15. Marble Bowl | 16. Wood Vase | 17. Gold Ring | 18. White Vase | 19. Wood Tray | 20. The Flower Expert Book | 21. The Home Edit Book | 22. Lumbar Pillow from Lulu and Georgia | 23. Alpaca Throw from The Citizenry | 24. Window Treatment by Tonic Living | 25. Velux Skylights | 26. Art by Holly Addi | 27. Stool from Midcentury LA | 28. Chair from Article | 29. Floor Lamp | 30. Calm The Chaos Journal | 31. Pause Journal | 32. Olive Canvas Dog Bed | 33. Unisex Perfume | 34. Round Box | 35. Tray | 36. Square Frame | 37. Wood Frame | 38. Rectangle Frame | 39. Mirror | 40. Dome Light by Shades of Light | 41. Table Lamp | 42. In The Company of Women Book | 43. Homebody by Joanna Gaines Book | 44. Custom Dresser by Hedge House Furniture
*This post is in partnership with Velux but all words, designs and selections are our own. Thanks for supporting the brands we love that support the blog.
**photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp for EHD