sss-family-fixer-inspirationWe’ve been living, no scratch that… camping out, in our new Michigan house for three weeks now (how is that even possible?!). Just wait until you see (below) how we’ve been living for nearly a month. It’s straight up squatter status. Luckily (or rather not so luckily since it was over a month late), our movers finally showed up on Friday with all of our belongings from LA. So maybe we will get a little more settled soon, that is until we start construction, Lord help us. Somewhere between work and the kids, getting our bearings in a new city, and work and the kids I have only just now started to dig into setting a visual tone for our own house. Putting together the little inspiration/mood board above helped get my creative juices flowing for my worst/pickiest client yet (yes, me) and now I’m gearing up to get going on all the fun stuff, kitchen and bathroom designs, hard finish selections and allll the furniture.

Thankfully I had the “as built” floorplans drawn up while I was still in LA by the lovely local west Michigan folks at KLH Custom Homes, so I was able to work on the renovation plans and layout changes before we even set foot in the house. I made all the changes to the floorplan months ago, starting on them as soon as we closed on the sale, but I wanted to live in the house a little to see if what I had planned actually makes sense for how we naturally use the space. Surprisingly, I haven’t made any further changes (yet, at least). So without further ado, I’m sharing the tour and outlining our plans for the top floor of the house.

Starting at the very beginning, The entryway feels grand when you walk up to it, (see a video of our first time entering it here) but then you open it and walk right into a wall so one change we wanted to make was instead of two small separate pocket doors into the sitting room, we are going to move the opening to the center of the wall and mimic the size of the front doors.


Samuel family fixerIf you were able to walk straight through that wall at the entry, as it is now, you’d end up in the sitting room. A room with no windows. It does have an enormous round sky-light, which I love, so it is the brightest room of the house, BUT I do not want to spend time in a room with no windows, even with the skylight bringing in the natural light (thoughts of “The Room” come to mind). So, we are also going to take down the wall that divides the sitting room from the kitchen to make that all one big open space. With the changes, you’ll be able to see out through the wall of windows in the kitchen while in the sitting room as well as be able to be a part of the conversation in the sitting room while in the kitchen.


The loft area, you’ll see next, is at one end of the sitting room. Above is a shot looking down from the loft that I took yesterday, in its current ‘this is how we’ve been living for a little too long’ state with a halfway assembled crib (Clover has been sleeping in a Pack & Play for a month now!), random tile samples, a blanket for Clover to roll around on and Cracker the dog for scale. We let Archie and his cousins and friends paint on the wall that is coming down (the one dividing this room from the kitchen) and I’m currently working on a way to incorporate their art into the house because it is actually really cool!


This loft was possibly half the reason we fell in love with the house, with its’ cool unexpected features like the half moon shape spiral staircase leading to the lower level, it had me from the photos. It was however a death trap for toddlers and babies so we had to make some temporary changes until I can redesign it a touch to be kid and pop pop friendly (he already fell down the stairs once). So, the challenge is on to rework the staircase and integrate some railings and banisters.


The kitchen is getting a total overhaul. Instead of a small L shaped kitchen in the corner of the room, we are going to re-work the window and door layout, to center the kitchen in the space (you can see the changes in the floor plans at the top). For how large the house is, the kitchen feels small, so I am excited to open it up to the sitting room and extend it along the back wall. I am all about symmetry in the kitchen if possible so that’s what I am going to make happen. We are also going to tear out the bathroom that is just to the right of the refrigerator and convert it into the walk-in pantry of my dreams. woot!

Here is said bathroom that we will turn pantry, but don’t worry we are adding another bathroom just down the hallway so we won’t be losing one completely.


Off to the other side of the kitchen is the screened in porch, aka a three season room. Is this a Michigan thing? No one has these in LA I guess because bugs aren’t that big of a problem there. How far does the three season room trend span across the country? Holler at me southerners with a screened in porch. Either way I am obsessed with this space. We’ve been spending nights out here after the kids go to bed, just relaxing in the super comfortable seating above (insert eye roll). But seriously it’s nice on these warm summer nights to be outside but still under cover. We had our first rainstorm and it was magic. I kind of missed having weather (remind me of that come February will you?). Plans in here include a comfortable lounge space and a small dining area. Painting away that red and tiling the floor.

Now onto the “bedroom wing” of the house.


Oh the joys of moving, it’s so glamorous right? We currently only have two bedrooms on the main floor so Archie has been sleeping on a camp cot in our room, right next to our mattress on the floor with borrowed sheets and blankets from my parents. Aside from getting rid of the dark carpet in this room, getting Arch his own room is priority one. You


The master bathroom is also getting a total overhaul. Currently it is made up of two small rooms. Navy shag carpeting and yellow walls included. We are planning to open this space up by taking down the walls and adding onto the space by converting the neighboring old “hot tub room” into one big master bathroom. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH ALL THAT SPACE? A bathtub and a shower… I will never leave. I can’t even contain my excitement about finally having a grown up master bath.


And the view out the backyard won’t be to shabby either.


There’s not much to report from Clover’s room, new flooring, some paint and furniture. We also have to close up her access doorway to the hot tub room and maybe put a more comfortable chair to nurse in would be nice. At least the pack and play can go away now that her crib has arrived.


The laundry room is getting demoted to the lower level while we expand this space and turn it into the new kid’s bathroom and Archie’s new bedroom. I’m pretty exited to be able to have a dedicated “kids bathroom” in this house, I have to say. No more having guests over and having them step over bath toys and potty step stools to go to the loo.

Timing  wise I am hoping to get the hard finishes selected and on order ASAP so we can start construction, ideally, first of September. We are also hoping (oh the hope at the beginning of a renovation) that it will take roughly three months to complete. I have the powder bath designed and that is it so far. But heck if it isn’t one great powder bath. Design and finish selects coming soon!

Many of you asked questions over IG if we are getting a contractor or doing the work ourselves and if we are living through the renovation and the answer is yes to all! We are planning to use a contractor and sub-contractors for some of the projects (like plumbing and such), doing the work ourselves for everything that we can and we will be living through the renovations. Our plan is to concentrate on one floor at a time which is why I only have plans started for the top floor right now. We will be living in the lower level while all the work is happening on this top level. Then when that is all finished and we can move to the top level, we will tackle the lower. Wish us luck!! Until then I will be pretending our house looks like the inspiration. Good thing I am V good at visualizing. ha

To get caught up on the why and where we moved check here.

You might also like to see our LA home renovations or our Palm Spring A-frame renovations.


  • Nicole Schindler

    I cannot wait to see this come along!!! I always love your work, good luck with living in renovations, hopefully the time will fly by!

  • oh man do i know exactly how you feel – we moved from Maryland to Texas the same week as you moved and there is nothing glamorous or romantic about how long or how chaotic moving can be (and we JUST put our bed together after three weeks of sleeping on mattresses on the floor…there is light at the end of the box tunnel!). but to answer your question about three-season rooms/screened porches: they were a luxury in Maryland (most of our neighbors had them and i thought they were tacky until we tried to spend time in our backyard without one..and then i was forever jealous because Maryland mosquitos are ruthless), but we didn’t look at a single house that had a three-season room or screened in porch in Texas. that said, every house that my grandmother lived in in Florida had one, but they were called a lanai there. cannot wait to see all of the ways you bring beauty to your new space!

    • sarah

      Oh that’s right! The Florida lanai s. Sounds so much fancier. I’m going to call mine a lanai from now on. Haha

    • Elaine

      Screened porches are a thing here, in Illinois. Grew up in Texas and can confirm no one in the ‘burbs of Houston had one. Why when the mosquitoes were the size of small dogs? No idea.

      As a favorite target of bugs, would really prefer if they were more of a thing everywhere. (We had one at the house in Connecticut so they’re a thing there as well.)

      I always thought lanai rooms didn’t have a roof on them. Like the screening was on all sides.

    • sarah

      haha! love this and I think you are right about the lanai that is probably what sets them apart.

  • Lori

    I’m in Austin, TX, and everyone who loves to be outside either has a screened porch or constantly bemoans their lack of screened porch. The mosquitoes are horrible. I actually converted an attached storage shed into a screened room/office just so I’d have somewhere to sit and enjoy my garden and not get eaten alive!

  • Mailinh

    That’s a whole lot of space…woah… I live in a suburban area in Dayton, OH and we have wide ranch style homes with very spacious front and back yards. It so interesting to see how different a living space is from one part of the US to another. I remember helping out a friend with her workshop and her new house had the rooms that connect and share bathrooms. I was so intrigued by it since I only see that in the movies (aka dorm rooms in those young romcoms-ha!).

    So excited to see how it all turns out. I know it’s going to be amazing!.

    • sarah

      haha yes! the jack and jill bathroom. My parents put one in all of our houses growing up and there was one in the Mandy Moore house too! I actually love those and I don’t know why.

  • Lynne

    We live in the San Francisco bay area and we have a screen porch from the 1950’s! Also, wanted to let you know that washing with peppermint soap (Dr. Bronner’s has one) will keep mosquitoes away! I love your plans!

    • sarah

      someone else told me that! I just amazon primed it last week. haha
      They actually don’t bother me for some reason, but they go after rupe and archie like crazy!

  • Jocelyn

    Sarah your designs are beautiful! What tyoe(s) of materials are you using for your floors?
    Here in Seattle I can’t think of anyone with a screened in porch, but some people have covered areas, like pergolas so that we can sit outside when it’s raining 🙂

    I’m so excited to follow along and congrats on your AD cover!

    • sarah

      Hi Jocelyn, Thank you! I’m still working on finalizing the floor materials. Writing a post on it now!

  • I’m really digging how you communicated your reno ideas. The photos with the labels are so easy to read and understand. I will be borrowing this idea for sure! Looking forward to seeing how everything comes along. I’ve got the renovation butterflies now.

    All the best,

  • Maja

    We just moved to Atlanta and this is the land of screened porches as well as fully “glassed” porches, or really just porches period. They are mostly called sunrooms here and I love the name! Odly enough we live on a lake and have a completely open front porch but no mosquitoes!

  • Karen

    Wow, what an incredible journey ahead of you! So exciting.

    We went thought a major reno at our house (it wrapped up last summer). Our house is custom-built 1978 modern ranch, and when I look at pre-reno pics, I’m transported back to how it felt living in the house those 6 months before we renovated. A home reno is a crazy ride (cooking in the laundry room for three months… robust toaster oven and hot plate saved us!).

    And I hear you on “you” being your “worst client”. I agonized over decisions – I planned it all myself, then called in a designer to review before pulling the reno-trigger, just to make sure I wasn’t cray-cray. I of course had guidance from my incredible contractor, but he’s a guy and didn’t have any input on materials, nor did my husband. I appreciated the total design freedom, but man it was a BIG project for me – my biggest, greatest life accomplishment (second of course to my precious family).

    My only thought from seeing your kitchen floor plan is how far away the fridge is from your cooking area. We ended up extending our kitchen into the (previously closed-off/walls removed) dining room, so my fridge is on the other side of an open doorway – those extra 5 steps can kinda bug when I’m mid-cooking. Worth the design/aesthetic? YES. But still something that does ping my brain as I’m walking back and forth. Could you squeeze one in in the open kitchen, and have a second one in the pantry (who doesn’t love two fridges)?

    The design-function balance is so crucial in renovating, it can really keep your brain churning!

    Can’t wait to see this come to life…

    • sarah

      Hi! Yes isn’t it so satisfying after a big reno. It’s addicting really. Ha and totally agree the functionality is super important. For me getting the range off of the island was a much higher priority and walking a few more steps for the fridge doesn’t bother me. I’m going to put an under the counter fridge in the island for items like milk and sparkling water (la croix addicts here), that we are always going for but the benefits of moving the main fridge in the pantry far outweigh keeping it out for me!

    • Vanessa Beary

      Soda stream is awesome btw. A great alternative to La Croix. The carbonation stays longer!

    • Also, I am curious too about the decision to have the fridge in the pantry. I’ve never seen this done before, but am starting to accumulate designs/inspiration for when my husband and I renovate (possibly demo/rebuild) our house down the road. What’s the logic behind having it in the pantry? Just more of a streamlined space?

      Your designs are absolutely beautiful, Sarah. I’ve loved following you along over the years. (also I really want you to restock those light green + sign tea towels – I adore mine, happy and well-worn 🙂 !! )

    • sarah

      It’s pretty common in europe or at least England, where my husband is from. His family’s house has it in the pantry and I every time I go over there I’m reminded of how much I like that. I love that it keeps all the food in one place for one, super easy access to all dry goods and perishables in one room and it also gives you a lot more counter space in the kitchen, which this kitchen is fairly short on. Also aesthetically since kitchens are more and more part of the living space it makes the space feel less “kitchen-ey” for lack of a better word. Also the layout of this kitchen in particular… the pantry is right next to the range and it worked out so well!

  • ellen

    LOVE your new house and especially the renovation plans. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. I’m a huge fan of your style. I’m wondering what your plans are for the ceilings? Keep them like this, some sort of wood treatment or painting ?

  • I can’t wait to follow along on your reno! I love the bones of this house. If you need any hardware (obvs I assume you are using you own line in place) LMK. Maybe for a statement vanity or furniture. We would love to contribute!

  • Anne

    You can also call your new screened porch a piazza. My grandpa always called his that and it felt so fancy!😄 Can’t wait to see the transformation.

  • Isabel

    Cannot wait to see the progress stories! Your transformations are always so inspiring and I definitely took my sweet time taking in everything you plan to do with the first floor. Keep the posts coming (as long as kids, family, contractors, life, work (ha! permit)!

  • Mel

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with and look forward to following your progress. It looks like a great house, or it will be when you’re done with it!

    One thing that jumped out at me on your floor plan was the placement of the toilet in the master. Are you sure you want it sitting there on display as soon as you enter the room? It is hard to tell from plan, but looks like there is plenty of space for a better/more private location. Maybe a wet room that houses shower and free standing tub? Or maybe at least room for a pony wall to provide semi-privacy?

    • sarah

      Hi! Ha I guess we aren’t the privacy kind of people. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Out last master bathroom didn’t even have a door on it so this is actually an improvement. Having the tub in front of the windows was non negotiable for me with all the windows and of all the layouts I tried this was by far my favorite. I still might tuck the toilet closer to the shower as I plan to have a recessed cabinet next to it and could swap it’s placement with the toilet but that’s about it. But hey at least there is a door! 😂

  • You will love the screened in porch. The mosquitoes!

  • Amy

    Excited to se you transform this space. What beautiful bones. One thought on managing cold weather – will you want a wall or vestibule area when you come in to prevent the winter wind from blowing into the main living space?

    • sarah

      Yes! Good thinking and that’s exactly why those smart cookies designed it that way in the first place. The doors right now are pocket doors into the sitting room. So essentially I am just moving them to the center instead of two separate as we are going to do pocket doors as well so you can still close it off when needed.

  • to paint or not to paint? – Site Title

    […] we have cleaned the place up a little bit (so we no longer look like squatters) but more like devout minimalists. This room is SO big it is hard to even grasp from a photo. That […]

  • […] we have cleaned the place up a little bit (so we no longer look like squatters) but more like devout minimalists. This room is SO big it is hard to even grasp from a photo. That […]

  • JKim

    What exciting progress! Congratulations! One minor suggestion – in your master bath the shower looks quite long. What about shortening it and creating a little nook to tuck the toilet away so that it is more discreet? I always think it feels strange to look at the mirror while on the toilet. TMI 😉

  • Amanda Merchant

    Texan born and bred but lived all over. I’m back in South Texas and my house has a screened in porch. I call it a breezeway though since it connects our house to our garage but it’s big enough for a sectional couch and a small dining table. It’s my favorite place to be when it’s raining – I find it soothing!

  • Brittany Moseley

    My parents live in southwest Ohio, and last year they added a screened in porch. Let me tell you, it was the biggest thing to happen to their house since the kitchen rennovation more than a decade ago. They’re a bit out in the country and bugs get pretty bad in the summer. My dad told my mom she could have either a hot tub or porch and she chose porch. Should give you an idea of how muggy and buggy it can get in this part of the Midwest! As someone who has lived in Ohio her whole life, I can attest that screened in porches, or three-season ones if you’re lucky, are very much a thing. Enjoy yours!

  • […] for me to start sharing progress and process as we go! Thankfully I pretty much designed the whole kitchen before we even saw the house in person, so I am starting there! See my initial plans to get all […]

  • […] is SO important and when we first moved into our fixer the lighting situation was THE WORST. In the kitchen, for example, the only source of light was two outdoor/garage spotlights and even the bulbs were […]

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