Rebuilding Your Dream Home

A fire destroyed almost everything—but not this close-knit family’s can-do spirit. They tell HGTV Magazine about their commitment to create a perfect new space.
By: Kathleen Renda

A Labor of Love

After three years of nonstop DIYing, Katrina and Hasani Sullivan couldn’t have been prouder of their 1956 home in Sacramento, CA. By July 2012, the couple—she’s in accounts payable for a law firm, he’s an HVAC technician—had refinished the floors, painted every wall, sodded the lawn, crafted a headboard, hung chandeliers, and kicked off a kitchen remodel.

Disaster Strikes

That’s when the fire happened. Spreading quickly from a neighbor’s property, the blaze destroyed nearly all of their belongings and gutted most of the 924-square-foot home. “It was devastating,” says Katrina. “But we were determined to rebuild our home and our lives.”

Back in Action

One year later, the Sullivans finally returned to their transformed rancher, and they’re thrilled with the new place. Thanks to floor plan tweaks, including the addition of a laundry room and a second bathroom, it’s now a kid-friendlier space for sons Tabari, 14, and Avery, 3. The rooms, filled with secondhand steals, have a relaxed vibe that encourages togetherness—not that the family needs any prompting. “This whole experience has brought us closer,” Katrina says. “It’s taught us what really matters.”

Living Room

Katrina nabbed the storage-rich campaign dresser at a thrift store for $120; three coats of high-gloss paint turned it into a showstopper. The Rowe sofas, upholstered in neutral gray, offer plenty of space for the boys to sprawl out. A hard-core fan of chartreuse, Katrina tries to include it in every room. Here, it makes an appearance in a graphic rug and the pillow covers she whipped up with fabric from


For the restaurant-sleek kitchen, classic subway tiles were teamed with grayish-white Caesarstone quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances. White Shaker-style cabinets that stretch to the ceiling give the illusion of taller walls—and maximize every spare inch.


The family gained more kitchen storage by tearing out a hall closet and converting it into much-needed open shelving and bonus countertop space. “The revamped kitchen is so glossy and bright, our friends swear it’s doubled in size!” Katrina says.

Dining Nook

A World Market bench in a velvety gray fabric brings banquette-style coziness to the breakfast nook. A grid of black-and-white photos commemorating family milestones, popped in identical Target frames, echoes the colors of the chairs and the 1950s table snagged on Craigslist. Painted gleaming white, it “gives a wink and a nod to the home’s age,” Katrina says. She made the citrine-and-sea-glass-blue floral curtains with Braemore fabric.

Master Bedroom

The Sputnik-esque chandelier from Lowe’s was a hard sell. “Hasani hated it, and my sister thought it was crazy,” says Katrina. But after pairing the atomic-inspired light with luxe touches—a soft-as-suede upholstered headboard, X-base stools, and a floral-splashed duvet cover—the fixture won everyone over. The blue ceramic Ralph Lauren lamp, one of a matching set, might be Katrina’s all-time favorite find—it was a jaw-dropping $8 at The Salvation Army.


“Since this bathroom is mainly for the boys, I wanted it to be fun but still chic enough for guests,” says Katrina. So she paired classics like the espresso-hued vanity, slate gray floor tiles, and bleach-white tub tiles with playful accents—a nautically striped West Elm shower curtain and wrapping paper framed as artwork above the towel bar.

Laundry Room

Pre-fire, the washer and dryer were in the garage, where temps could climb into the triple digits during sweltering summers. Pushing the garage forward five feet yielded space inside the house for a kitchen-adjacent laundry nook. The new machines sit beneath a piece of sanded and stained plywood for sorting and folding. The colorful prints are from Z Gallerie.

Tabari's Bedroom

With Tabari just hitting his teens, his room needed pieces that will stay stylish until he heads off to college, like the clean-lined wood bed, outsize barrel shade pendant from Restoration Hardware, and framed artwork of a lifeguard hut. Loads of bright patterns, from the tie-dyed pillows to triangle-print rug, make sure it’s not too adult.

Avery's Bedroom

With its freewheeling mix of wowza patterns and colors, “Avery’s room reflects his wild personality,” says Katrina. A bendable wooden giraffe, his only toy to survive the flames—he had it with him in a restaurant when the fire broke out at home—has pride of place on top of the bookshelf. The asymmetrical artwork arrangement reaches almost to the ceiling and includes one of his framed finger paintings. Katrina made the Roman shade with fabric from Richloom.

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