Save My Reno: Karen + Matt’s Main Floor Facelift

This was hands-down one of my favorite renovations of the season.

Not only was it the closest to my personal style, but we were able to address an entire floor of a house, and anytime you can takeover that many rooms is a good time in my books. Missed this episode? Watch it here! Then continue for all the juicy tidbits.

For Karen and Matt, square-footage and function weren’t huge issues. More-so, they disliked what the space looked like and how it flowed. Having previously lived in a condo, their furniture was dwarfed—and there wasn’t enough of it—and when it came to the colours and materials in the space, they were pretty, well, un-pretty: butter yellow walls, old stairs that were falling apart, and black counters and blonde wood cabinets didn’t speak to their taste in the kitchen.

As for the floorplan and flow, they craved open-concept for better nightlines for their two adorable kids. Sounds like a job for these cool cats…

With $60,000 to work with for an entire main floor, we had to get a little creative. The solution? Re-use as many aspects as we could and spend the money where it would really count. Our plan involved reconfiguring and re-using their existing cabinets, spraying them out in a rich deep green, updating the counters and hardware, finding savings with end-of-the-roll textiles and DIY projects, and spending the rest on removing the wall, updating their furniture, and giving them the fireplace and extra storage they so desperately needed. Something that didn’t get shown in the episode was the main-floor powder room renovation we did as well. And yes, which we included in the final cost of $60k!

Demo was quick and mostly painless (although carrying out the appliances and in-tact cabinets and climbing inside the base cabinets to unscrew the countertop left me so sore the next day). To everyone’s surprise, Karen chose to stay with Sebastian to handle construction, which meant an apprehensive Matt was coming with me to handle design. Honestly, they were both such good sports and super hilarious, so it would have been win-win either way.

On the design side of things, Matt cracked me up. A man after my own heart, he too was a pun-master like yours truly, and in a world where dad-jokes don’t always land, we found each other very humorous—which was helpful in our case because he really had no idea what he was doing! Matt, admittedly, didn’t give much thought to design, so I had to get interactive in order to step up his game (see what I did there? What did I tell you)…

Jokes aside, a very real drama moment happened when we discovered that their existing staircase couldn’t be salvaged. We had planned to outfit their existing stairs with new treads and a railing, but the whole thing had to come down for safety reasons. In my opinion, while it was an added cost, it was totally worth it in the end and gave us the opportunity to find something really show-stopping and unique.

As you can see from my floorplan drawing on the left, the powder room was tucked behind the right wall of cabinets. Initially, the door to the room was at the back of the house in the kitchen, and in the reno plan, we flipped the bathroom so it was less off the kitchen and more off the living/dining area.

Using the stringers (essentially the sides of a staircase that hold the risers—see below) from their old staircase, Matt and I transformed them into a storage bench for the entryway and outfitted it with a cushion top made from the same fabrics used throughout the main floor to add some design continuity. It blended the old charm and history of the 100 year-old home with some new pretty aspects. I love how this DIY turned out!

(Watch the whole DIY video here!)

And those stairs! Ugh! We may have spent and extra 3k for them, but it was well worth it in the end. Not only do the stairs going up look great, but we nixed the way leading downstairs and installed glass so the room feels wider and lets light into the stairwell.

In just a few short weeks this home went from basic, sparse and chopped-up to open, eclectic, layered and show-stopping. It looked like a cool New York loft or Paris flat. One of my favorite aspects has to be that we used a variety of patterned fabrics and textiles. A lot of people think of curtains, drapes, shades and pillows as afterthoughts, but they not only add depth, visual interest and function, they have a way of making any space feel finished.

Most of the fabrics we sourced for the entire show were through Tonic Living (full source list below). But really, the real beauty of this space was the reaction it conjured from Karen and Matt:


And you remember that bathroom I was talking about? Here’s a little slice of it. I love that we continued the spotted motif in here, too:


How ’bout them apples? Be sure to check out all the before and after photos on, get my tips for mastering an open floor plan and peep this super-cool 360° tour of the room from Seb and I.

Get The Look:

  1. Graphic Black and White Ottoman
  2. Flock Pillow and fabrics: Swaying Palms and Dalmation
  3. Neutral Wingback Chair
  4. Glass + Brass Pendants
  5. Cream Club Sofa
  6. Gold Decorative Accents
  7. Green Artwork
  8. Buffalo Check Rug
  9. Marble + Wood Cutting Boards

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