The Hand-Me-Down House

This Phoenix, AZ, home has been in the same family since 1968, but HGTV Magazine found that it feels thoroughly modern, thanks to a host of clever DIY upgrades.
By: Jessica Dodell-Feder and Jennifer Berno DeCleene

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

Photo By: Victoria Pearson (styled by Heather Bullard)

A Family Home

When it came time for Fallon and Christopher Liles to find a new home for their family (from left, Cannon, 3; Asher, 5; Easton, 1; Branson, 7; and their Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Bentley), they knew just where they wanted to go: Christopher’s grandparents’ place. With its big yard and location in Phoenix’s lush Arcadia neighborhood, the 1950s ranch house felt perfect. “My dad grew up here and my family celebrated holidays here, so we felt a familiarity with the house,” explains Christopher. But the place wasn’t exactly move-in ready.

The Big Update

After Christopher’s grandparents passed away, the home sat vacant for two years, its rooms buried under old belongings. When Christopher and Fallon bought the house in 2012 (it was being held in a family trust), they had their work cut out for them. Luckily the Lileses co-own a building and remodeling company, Rafterhouse, so the overhaul wasn’t entirely daunting. During the four-month gut reno, they upgraded everything from the worn-out wood floors to the leaky roof and bumped up the square footage from 1,600 to 2,400. “Even though the house looks very different now, we tried to do things that would preserve the memories that were created here,” says Fallon. 

Living Room

“With so many kids running around, I like things to look clean, simple, and bright,” says Fallon. Neutral furniture—leather armchairs, a vintage wood coffee table, and a tufted gray sofa—keep the room classic, while patterned throw pillows and a colorful Lulu & Georgia rug add playfulness. The TV and other techy stuff are hidden behind custom barn doors painted crisp white.


The Lileses took space from the old patio to enlarge the kitchen so it could accommodate a 10-foot-long Carrara marble–top island. Factory-style stools from World Market and three industrial brass lights—$30 each from a vintage market—add warmth. For color, Christopher painted the pantry door, which he’d salvaged from a job, minty green using a custom mix of Annie Sloan chalk paints. "We’ve never had a pantry before, no less one that’s like a walk-in closet." says Fallon.

Dining Area

To pay homage to the original dining room, which had windows lining nearly every wall, the Lileses installed banks of windows wherever they could. The Dutch door, which leads to the yard, is another throwback—it was the original house’s back door. A weathered table and a vintage-looking light fixture, which Christopher made using a metal rod and old-school bulbs, give the room a historical feeling.

Master Bedroom

To lend this room a calm feeling, Fallon embraced her love of white, pairing snowy linens that have touches of blue with furniture painted alabaster. One of Christopher’s sisters gave the couple the bed and the nightstand in exchange for Christopher working on her stairs. The lamp is from T.J.Maxx—Fallon painted the base white so it coordinated with the furniture.

Boys' Bathroom

Getting the boys ready is easy thanks to this trough sink with double faucets. Made by Kohler, its pipes and faucets came coated in chrome, but Fallon had them stripped to brass for a more rustic look. Because she hates traditional medicine cabinets, she topped the sink with a vintage mirror; essentials go in a painted salvaged metal locker. "Even the bathrooms in our house have character," says Fallon. "I love it."

Boys' Bedroom

Two bedrooms were combined to create this playroom and sleeping spot for Branson, Asher, and Cannon (baby Easton will stay in his own nursery until he graduates to a bunk bed). Christopher and his dad built the ultra-sturdy bunks. The pendants are made from vintage metal baskets, and the fluffy rug is from Rugs USA.

Boys' Bedroom

Painted navy and white, the room reads boy and will also work when the kids get older, says Fallon. Christopher made the storage bench, shelves, and wainscoting, complete with a built-in chalkboard.

Front Patio

Because the neighborhood is known for its active, tight-knit community, the Lileses created lots of outdoor living spaces, something the old house lacked. "Our patio feels so welcoming, friends always drop by for a glass of wine or to just hang out, " says Fallon. This seating area features two daybeds Christopher built and an antique mining cart turned coffee table. The pillows are from World Market.


This landing pad, located in a hallway off the garage, has a cubby for each kid. “Without it, we’d probably have shoes and baseball mitts all over the kitchen island,” says Fallon. Crates she and Christopher built and locker baskets from Junk in the Trunk, a local vintage market, hold boots and sports gear.

Playhouse and Chicken Coop

“When I was young, I used to have so much fun climbing trees in this backyard,” says Christopher. Wanting to give his sons equally fond memories, he converted a shed into a mini version of the main house, complete with dormers and a front patio. Next door lives a brood of chickens in a custom-built coop.

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