Design Lesson: Empty Nest Makeover

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Design Lesson: Empty Nest Makeover

Transforming a main floor into an entertainer’s delight

By Sarah St.Amand Photography By Mike Chajecki

Two busy professionals plus one empty nest in need of a main-floor renovation equals one daunting task—too daunting to go it alone—the couple hired my design firm to eliminate the stress of a massive main floor renovation.


The couple whose home is featured on these pages realized, early on, that interior design wasn’t their forte, so they called in on the team at Sarah St. Amand Interior Design. They chose to rely on our expertise when it came to transforming their kitchen and main floor area into a re-imagined, fresh space. They took that leap of faith—sometimes difficult for many clients— and trusted in the design process, while providing a suitable budget to ensure a cutting-edge renovation.


First, we listened closely to the homeowners’ priorities involving the kitchen renovation.

When we draft a plan for a new kitchen, we always ask our clients to visualize how they see themselves using their space. Do you bake? Do you love to cook? Entertain a lot? Need a beverage fridge? Do you compost? These are just some of the questions we need answered before we decide on the functionality of our design plan.


We also give close consideration to where our clients see themselves storing and accessing their plates, cutlery, glasses and even appliances. That’s how we select new kitchen cabinets and have them made accordingly, with an eye to varying the cabinet colours so there is more than one colour of cabinet included in the design.

Choose your lighting fixtures prior to the electrician placing the junction boxes. This will allow for the position over the island to be placed in the exact location.

Consider the sheet size for a decorative mosaic accent tile behind your stove. Mosaics are typically 12”x12” sheet sizes, so you can eliminate the number of cuts for your tile layer (who will thank you!).


The owners of this featured home told us they love to cook and entertain. So, we started with a careful plan for the kitchen to provide plenty of workspace and ample seating. This open-concept design allows for a family-friendly atmosphere where the TV can be seen from the kitchen island. The island is complemented by custom counter stools in easy-wipe, faux leather.

Select your countertop, as there are countless sizes available. That way, the island can be designed according to the slab size to eliminate seams. Sometimes an oversize slab is needed if your island is large.


A timeless palette with a robust repetition of patterns in the overarching design was applied, and we used the new, brushed gold metal as accents— in both the lighting and hardware.

We installed a Wolf range and a quartz countertop, creating a generous cooking space on a strong, durable maintenance-free surface. We added a variety of light sources to the home, including pot lights, incandescent lighting in the chandelier and pendants, under-cabinet lighting and allowed plenty of natural light to filter in from the windows.


A neutral wall colour was selected so the cabinets and the details stand out—much like a little black dress with fantastic jewellery! We kept the core neutral and let the cabinets, lighting and fabrics be the main focus. Mullion details in the entertainment cabinet offer a subtle touch, while still allowing accessories to be displayed in behind.

To keep costs down, opt for an inexpensive subway tile for the backsplash (in this case, we used a soft grey hue) and accent the range with a higher end tile—only a minimal amount is needed.


Some finishing details, including drapery panels, flank the patio door. Sheer panels (not what your grandmother’s polyester ones looked like) were used, as these beautiful fabrics offer light-filtering capabilities, while the non-functioning side panels add visual weight and texture on the window edges.

Roman blinds were positioned in a pattern that mimics the metal details on the light fixtures, echoing the repetition and pattern in the overall design.

Choose appliances prior to your kitchen renovation so your designer can position the cabinets according to the appliance specifications.


A custom sectional to suit the family room and a comfy reading chair were selected, along with a variety of textures in the fabrics. A neutral monochromatic palette is our signature, as it is timeless.


Sometimes, the bigger the house doesn’t always mean the most thorough of renovations. With larger homes it’s harder to manage budgets in order to complete all the decor aspects. This house was featured as it’s a perfect size, and all the design facets of the main floor of this home were completed as planned.

The renovation went smoothly and our clients were so delighted with their brand new decor in the home they love.

Sarah St. Amand Interior Design Inc. www.stamanddesign.com follow me on Instagram: sarahst.amandinteriordesign and Pinterest View my portfolio on HOUZZ and view featured articles www.houzz.com


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