Diamond in the Rough – Before and After Magic Voila!

“Our most significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest challenge.” – Thomas S. Monson”

Location Location Location is a common Investment consideration. In the case of this project these fabulous clients had an opportunity to purchase a 30+ year home on a beautiful street in a grand estate community. Of course your specific families’ needs are always paramount – so when you‘ve exhausted options on a perfect lot the cost of building from scratch “exactly” what you want – a reno is an amazing substitute for a perfect established site. A floorplan that can be perfected with the right tweak and consideration along with a great design plan and you’ll have your hands on your dream home in the making. I find my clientele often struggle with the value of a renovation vs. building new. The realty is renovating is daunting and costly – there’s no denying that fact.

Diamond in the rough

However, let’s not be fooled so is building!!! In fact, often even more so. When you build from scratch so often things can go awry just from the architectural plans. I know far too many clients to count who began with a 500 sf plan and ended up with 7500 sf – or worse double.  How on earth can this happen? Well it’s actually pretty easy to go FULL rogue when you’re unfamiliar with construction costs and are working with guesstimates vs. quotes. I see it far too often – mostly when working direct with an architect – especially if the architect is not involved past the drawing stage in the project as a team member. You ask they provide and then the vortex begins to spin. If there isn’t a team in place, to ensure the vision, concept, plan and therefore budget is being monitored in tandem – the requests can soon take you on a tour you hadn’t realized it would.

Before Den


Clients perceive if they build they get “exactly” what they want. Trust me when I share with you after 15 years in the industry – finances dictate where you finish. It’s the age old story the defining factor between Need vs. Wants. Trade offs and alternatives are often necessary as it’s simply part of the design world.   The key to a recipe for success: a plan, ingenuity, investment capital and a vision – and of course with a stellar design team an incredible outcome can be achieved.  With an older property your investment is often secure and the landscaping mature and often complete. If the bones of the home are sound the structure may require only tweaking when doing a complete overhaul – but not always depending on the diversity of the demolition.

BEFORE FAMILY ROOM (originally closed floorplan btwn the 2 rooms)

BEFORE FAMILY ROOM (originally closed floorplan between the 2 rooms)

In this case, we had a winner!! We all loved this house. The lot was huge (I think 5 acres) so the size was perfect with lots of privacy. Even the room sizes were all adequate excluding the kitchen/dining areas. Years ago, homes were built with a kitchen as the air traffic control center and large dining rooms to entertain. Today a less formal approach is taken. Kitchens are designed far larger and most people are happy to create a great room configuration – or multi-purpose space for entertaining. In this case creating a large kitchen and island, small eating area for every day and open concept dining area to seat several people when hosting was requested.


Photography: www.donnagriffith.com

Photography: www.donnagriffith.com

The original formal living room was transformed into a den with multi purpose and function being paramount. The writing desk was utilized as an office space for bill paying and a place to use a laptop in amongst a beautiful surrounding. There’s a cozy seating area incorporated into the family room floorplan with the hopes the added cohesion would allow these two separately functioning rooms to connect as one fluid space. The ceilings were treated as mirror images, the fabrics and colour palettes thoughtfully considered and entwined together to enhance the overall continuity throughout.

Lights out

Den walls

Inspiration white

Trim and ceiling Family Room / Den

Last but not least (again considering the families’ requirements and function top of mind) a small powder room was added to the main level taking space from the Den. This accommodated the need for guests to use the restroom without having to walk through the garage access hallway, thereby, considering beauty and the surrounding in collaboration with a need. A simple modification allowed the homeowners to live their dreams, address their needs and through good design improve their lifestyle and that of the guests that entered their home.

Living room

Photography: www.donnagriffith.com

The Family room is another spectacular space showcasing a large custom built-in finished in a soft gray tone used to house the function of a necessary component (the TV) and the warmth and softness of a fireplace. This area has all the comforts of home and although large remains cozy and inviting.


Family Room cabinet color

I believe this project shares all of the attributes of a client, a dream and a design vision which was executed with care and consideration with the family and friends being top of mind.

On this note I’d like to share an important bulletin regarding appearances.  This week I’ll be at the Whitby North Home Depot (4200 Garden Street, Brooklynn, ON) paint department on Thursday October 16th from 6-8pm selecting and assisting with paint palettes and collections.  If you’d like a consult come by as I’d love to meet you! Let’s chat about your space, what inspiration moves you and ensure we get you on a path to design success.

Hope to see you there!!


 “After” Photography by Donna Griffith


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