The Remodelista 4: Show & Tell Home Tour

Sheri Reed | May 4, 2010 Home & Garden
The Remodelista 4: Show & Tell Home Tour

living room remodelista

Today, the four creative women behind the design sourcebook and blog Remodelista give us a Show & Tell Home Tour of the family gathering and work spaces inside their homes.

Come inside ...


Image via David Duncan Livingston

  • Meet the Remodelistas


    The Remodelistas (L-R: Julie Carlson, Francesca Connolly, Sarah Lonsdale, Janet Hall)

    Meet Julie, Francesca, Sarah, and Janet, the four creative woman behind the design sourcebook and blog Remodelista.

    Julie: My husband and I live in Mill Valley, California, with our 14-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter (plus one Abyssinian cat). Our house was built in the 1970s; we overhauled it completely eight years ago, which is what gave me the inspiration to start Remodelista. 

    Janet: I live on a steep hill in San Francisco with my husband, two "tween" children, and a Labradoodle we call Olive. For the first time in my adult life, we live in a rental home and are learning to be creative in working with the interior to make it feel like our own. Prior to moving to San Francisco four years ago, we lived in a maisonette on a communal garden in London that changed my view of community living (fantastic!) and my relationship to space in a home (small, thoughtful space design is the way to go).<

    Sarah: We’re a family of four: Two children, Conrad (12) and Imogen (8), and husband, David. After living in San Francisco for several years, we sold our house and moved to the Napa Valley where we currently rent an Arts and Crafts-era cottage. It has great bones and is quite a small space, but I've been impressed at how functional it is, which has made me reconsider how much room we actually need. When spring arrives, we set up a hammock and chairs in the garden and a dining table where we have most of our meals. For half of the year, we tend to spend a lot of time outdoors.

    Francesca: I live in a brownstone in Brooklyn with my husband and children, ages 14, 13, and 10. We bought the brownstone over a decade ago. It had been carved up into several small apartments and we fully restored it back to a functional family home.

    Today, the Remodelistas give us a Show & Tell Home Tour of the family gathering and work spaces inside their homes.

    Come inside ...

  • Julie: Family space

    living room

    Julie's living room serves as a central family gathering spot.

    Photo by David Duncan Livingston

    Julie, what's your current work/home life like?

    In addition to editing Remodelista, which is a full-time job, I also do some freelance writing for design magazines. I do all my work from home; because I work exclusively on a laptop, I tend to work in our main living area, which is a lofty, light-filled space with views of Mt. Tamalpais. I find it more pleasant than working in my study, which is really a corner of our family room.

    Tell us about your approach to decorating and creating storage in this living room. What was the most important thing? And with two kids, how do you get away with white furniture?

    We bought the house because it featured a high-ceilinged, open-plan living/dining area, which was our main requirement. Fortunately, our architect convinced us to build a storage closet and cabinet unit with drawers for keys, wallets, etc., which helps keep living clutter contained.

    All our upholstered furniture is covered in white denim slipcovers; I wash them when necessary, but for the most part, they're protected by a combination of sheepskin throws and simple white cotton Greek bedspreads that I cover the seats with.

  • Julie: Workspace


    Julie's dining table doubles as a community eating and working space -- even occupied by the Remodelista team for an editorial meeting every week.

    Photo by David Duncan Livingston

    Tell us about this beautiful dining room table. Where did you find it? And what about the lovely chairs? How does this space get utilized other than for family meals?

    We bought our dining table about 15 years ago in San Francisco, before the current craze for all things reclaimed and repurposed; it's made of wood from a Scottish distillery. We bought the Thonet dining chairs on eBay; my husband literally got up in the middle of the night to make sure we won them.

    A lot happens around this table: When our children were younger, they did art projects here (we have paint stains to prove it); now my daughter does her homework here after school, we have Remodelista meetings here every Tuesday, and on weekends, we have dinner parties.

  • Janet: Workspace

    home office

    Family computer work station tucked in the corner of Janet's family room.

    Janet, what's your current work/home life like?

    My time is split between Remodelista and being CEO of our family. The flexibility of working from home and managing my own schedule is fantastic. While I do have my own home office with a door, I can't overemphasize my love affair with my laptop. It allows me to move my "office" according to my mood, where I can find quiet when my family is home, and where I feel I'll be most productive.

    Your computer work station is located in your family room. Tell us what you were thinking when you put your desk here and about the pros and cons of having your workspace centrally located.

    We needed a communal computer workstation for our family. While we all have laptops that migrate around the house, this is a favorite place to be as it's in the heart of our family community space. I mixed old and new pieces with smooth white and natural textures, all with a pared-down, uncluttered look. I carved it out of an unused corner of our sunroom, which means organization and functionality are especially important.

    The biggest challenge with the communal computer station is keeping the desk space free for working. I use accessories like the Things for Bread and Butter Case from Design Within Reach to store our computer cords neatly out of sight.

    Love your desk chair. Tell us about that piece.

    When I created this workspace, I very much wanted to add some "patina" and searched high and low for an old chair that would look great but also function well. I found a vintage industrial chair from Toledo Metal Furniture Co. on eBay for $75. It's on wheels and, because it was built for heavy-duty use, it can withstand the heavy traffic of our family. It also is comfortable and "ergonomic" despite its age.

  • Janet: Family space

    dining room

    Janet's family dining table doubles as an art and crafts working area.

    Tell us about this wonderful dining room table and the chairs? Where did you find them? How does this space get utilized other than for family meals?

    We found this old teak trestle table made from reclaimed teak years ago at David Smith in Seattle. It's lived in three different homes in Seattle, London, and San Francisco. It's heavy and the rough surface looks great and makes it a practical table for a family who not only eats there, but also does homework, art projects, and game-playing. I like the dark stain, as it can be used for casual dining, but also dressed up when we have friends over for dinner.

    Currently it's paired with Danerka Rondo Chairs we picked up at Purves & Purves in London. The simple Lights Up Wee Gee Pendant Light illuminates the space and my favorite art piece in our home, an Anne Appleby print, is on the wall.

  • Sarah: Dining

    dining room

    Sarah's dining table is illuminated by a favorite Carvaggio lamp.

    Sarah, what's your current work/home life like?

    Remodelista has become a full-time affair and we meet weekly, but most of the time I work from home. I've worked freelance most of my life, so being disciplined and having the ability to multitask are second nature. Working is never a challenge; however, knowing when to close the computer and just focus on the family is something I really try hard to be conscious of.

    Love your beautiful dining room set. Tell us about it. And please tell us about that hanging lamp over your table. It's gorgeous.

    The dining table was custom-made for our previous house as I needed a table that was slightly narrower than the standard to fit in our kitchen. Ultimately, I plan on replacing the top with something slightly larger but will keep the steel base. The Jacobsen Series Seven chairs are reproductions that I bought 12 years ago, and they have worn really well. I have a couple of extras and like the fact that they're easily stacked when not in use.

    I first spotted the lamp over the table on a trip to Copenhagen. The Caravaggio pendant lamp (designed by Cecilie Manz) had just come out and wasn't available in the States at the time, so I contacted her design firm and ended up having one shipped to me directly. It has proved a really good investment and really helps define the dining space.

  • Sarah: Workspace

    workspace desk

    A desk in Sarah's house.

    Is this desk your main workspace at home? And, of course, we're also dying to know where you found the incredible wooden work table on wheels and the amazing woven chair.

    We have a small cottage behind our house with a guest room and an office for me and my husband. I use my desk when I like to spread out or get away from it all. That said, most of the time, I have my laptop on the dining room table.

    The wooden top is from my old desk, which I bought when I lived in Tokyo from a Japanese design shop called Sazaby. It has some simple wooden trestle legs that are now in my daughter’s room holding up a long white IKEA desktop. The French industrial trestles under my desk are a find at Erin Martin, a Napa Valley designer who has an incredible eye. I picked them up in a sale with the chair, which is also one of her finds. 
  • Francesca: Family space


    Children's playroom in Francesca's house.

    Photo courtesy of Steven Harris Architects

    Sarah, what's your current work/home life like?

    I work in my upstairs office if I need quiet. My children do their homework around the dining table in the afternoon/evenings, so I'll just bring my laptop down there to supervise. On a nice day, I like to sit on my front stoop.

    Your playroom is wonderfully minimalist. Tell us how you approached decorating and organizing this space for your family.

    During our renovation, we made the decision to invest more energy and money on the parlor floor and eliminate the top floor (playroom) from the scope of work. We painted and had the floors refinished, then waited a while to see how we might use the space. Our architect, Steven Harris, had the brilliant and economical idea of the round rug cut from broadloom and bound. I bought the B&B Italia Tufty-time sofa from their annual floor sample sale. Eventually, we added a ping-pong table. I never got around to hanging the kids artwork, which is fine, since the room has become a good run-around space with balls flying.

  • Francesca: Workspace

    workspace desk

    Homework space in Francesca's boy's room.

    Photo courtesy of Steven Harris Architects

    Your son's workspace is so practical, well organized, and such a space-saver. Can you tell us about this modular workspace -- where you found it and how it functions for your son on a daily basis?

    The Vitsoe shelving (available through Moss in New York) in my son's room was a big splurge, but I figured we'd have it for life. It's so well made and beautifully designed. My son is a big collector of stuff -- old Coke bottles, travel souvenirs, Kid Robot toys -- all of which looks great on this shelving. Most importantly, the collections will evolve, and I knew the Vitsoe would make the transition from little boy to teenager to adult. Super-expensive, but worth every penny.

  • Remodelista Favorites

    lemons pottery

    Sarah's collection of pottery, etc.

    To see more, visit the design sourcebook and blog Remodelista.

    What are your favorite stores to shop for home?

    Julie: For overall home needs, it'd have to be Conran. For kitchenwares, Divertimenti in London. For dishware, Heath Ceramics in Sausalito.

    Janet: I love a mix of furnishings -- high/low, old/new, vintage/modern -- which is reflected in sourcing from a variety of shops. Really, Remodelista is my go-to source when I need something new. My latest purchase was a collection of Ian Mankin pot holders from Ancient Industries.

    Sarah: Baileys Home and Garden is a UK shop with great everyday resources for the home front. In addition to their household staples, they have some great flea market/vintage objects. "Repair, reuse, rethink” is their mandate, so the shop is full of great finds. They sell online but they're well worth a visit if you're in the UK (although they're a little off the beaten track in the heart of the British countryside).

    Francesca: I love the new Conran shop located in the basement of ABC Home in Manhattan. It's a smaller space for them so they've had to do some editing, which is fine since the location is so much more convenient. I'm sure I'll be stopping in regularly to peruse their great selection of very useful things for the kitchen, along with lighting and furniture you won't find anywhere else.

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