Sara Hicks Malone, a stationery designer, and Charlie Malone, an attorney; 3-year-old Gram, 2-year-old Adah, and Tag, a black Lab live in Nashville. Looking at photos of the house online, Sara immediately saw a diamond in the rough. "The openness, the abundance of light — it all felt so right."
Reno timeline: Seven months. "It was a challenge that I secretly found exciting," says Sara. "We knew this was a house we wanted to live in for a long time, so we made decisions that weren't necessarily the easiest."
Living Room, Before
Mottled red carpet and bulky leather sofas trapped the living room in a 1970s time warp.
Living Room, After
The room is barely recognizable with new bamboo floors, white walls and a cushy, blush pink sofa. And look at those poster-size baby photos on the wall! One is Dad holding 8-week-old Gram; the other is Mom holding Adah at the same age. Norton sofa from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Front Door, Before
The home had a flimsy awning, brown brick and a beyond-basic front door.
Front Door, After
A little bit of yellow goes a long way. Sara replaced the old door with a custom glass one and painted the frame a super-sunny shade that pops against the bright white they painted the rest of the house. “There isn’t a lot of contemporary architecture in Nashville, so I love how it sits on the hillside and is a fun surprise at the top of the driveway.” Door color: Try Sun Shower by Olympic.
Master Bedroom, Before
A weird wall mural and past-its-prime furniture filled the master bedroom.
Master Bedroom, After
"I adore this bed and figured it was an investment piece we'd have forever," says Sara. Little did she know it would double as a jungle gym: "In the morning the kids dangle from the bars!" Wall color: Try Antique Moss by Olympic. Iron canopy bed from Anthropologie
The kitchen was home to rickety wood cabinets, dingy countertops and stinky carpet.
The kitchen is the one room in the renovation that involved structural changes: Sara had walls taken down, giving her a clear sight line to the kids whether they’re playing inside or out. The island is freestanding and was added after the family lived in the house for a year. "I wanted to really figure out how we'd use it before it was built," says Sara. "All the kids' stuff is in drawers on one side: their cups and utensils on top, snacks below. They have it all figured out." Cabinet color: Try Stormy Weather by Olympic.
Dining Room, Before
An outdated dining set crowded the space.
Dining Room, After
Here's a family that actually dines in the dining room! So what if that means scraping mac and cheese off a marble table? "I never think of this table as sacred," says Sara. "I want to create memories around it, and I know that involves some mucking up." Saarinen dining table from Design Within Reach
Wood-paneled walls and sad little curtains left little to be desired in the playroom.
Replacing the Ping-Pong table, the teepee is now the best hide-and-seek spot in the house. "Gram's favorite color is yellow," explains Sara, so in came sunny pillows and polka-dot window shades, which hang on removable tension rods — a modern take on cafe curtains. The jute area rug was a great choice because it disguises dirt and spills.
Gram's Bedroom, Before
More gross carpet and decades-old patriotic curtain fabric
Gram's Bedroom, After
When Gram graduated to a big-boy bed, Sara gave him a double partly because she didn't want to deal with bed rails. "He has so much space that he never rolls to the edge!" she explains. What's with the birch forest in the room? It's wallpaper, inspired by the woodsy view out the window. Young and fun but not babyish. Birch Tree wall mural from Urban Outfitters