Interiorssneak peeks

A Once Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest

by Lauren Chorpening

As much as homes protect people, people, in turn, protect homes. Over time, the elements of nature have a way of transforming an abandoned home into shambles. It takes extra work to bring a neglected house back to life, but the savings and the accomplishment it brings can be worth it. It was completely worth it for Sarah and Kalyn Gibson and their 1920s home.

Sarah, designer and blogger, her husband Kalyn, a financial controller, and their giant schnauzer, Finn, began searching for a home two years ago. The homes they first found were all move-in ready — but at the top of their budget. When the couple toured a 1920s home in Dayton, OH that was in disrepair, they got creative. “It had been neglected and sat empty as a foreclosure for over two years. It was a complete disaster, but we fell in love with its charm and potential,” Sarah says. “It made sense for us financially and we were capable of completing the majority of the construction ourselves, so we pulled the trigger.” Sarah and Kalyn have renovated the entire space beautifully with Sarah’s eye for design and Kalyn’s pursuit of high-quality touches and efficiency.

The process was intense but rewarding. The Gibsons worked on the home together, restored it to its full potential and became truly connected to it. “It was an insane amount of work and took over a year to complete the renovation, but I’m so proud of what we’ve created and more importantly, the fact that we built this space together. Along the journey of transforming our home: we found artifacts in the walls (postcards, toys, documents, etc.), filled six 40-yard dumpsters full of trash and debris, had a fast food Thanksgiving with no heat at a camping table in our makeshift dining room, and discovered what a lot of elbow grease and sleep deprivation would get us,” Sarah says. “We made so many amazing memories during demo, construction, and finally moving in and adding the final details to our home. We definitely can’t envision doing it any other way.” Looking through their tour, it’s almost impossible to remember that this home hasn’t always been loved and cared for. The Gibsons have brought this house back to life and are able to enjoy all of their hard work. –Lauren

Photography by Dana Miller & Sarah Gibson

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Sarah and Kalyn's style blends mid-century, traditional and transitional pieces seamlessly. Their mix of neutral colors and occasional pops of green the primary palette for their home's design. "It’s difficult to label our personal style … the rule has always been, if we see something we like, we’ll buy it, even if it’s not classified as modern," Sarah says. "I believe if you fill your home with things you love, it automatically becomes cohesive and tells your story."
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Sarah created visual interest behind the television with a gallery wall featuring pieces from favorite artists and prints and photos Sarah created herself.
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"Kalyn loves having a large, obnoxious TV (hey, I can’t complain about our Netflix marathons), but it was tough deciding where it should go. It wouldn’t fit above the fireplace, and having three windows and doors in the living room, it left only one wall for the television. Therefore, we have two focal points in the space, which really bothers me… but it’s functional for our lifestyle, so I’m learning to live with it."
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The neutral palette and clean design make the living room an inviting, peaceful place to be.
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"I didn’t want our entire house to be painted in whites or neutrals. I’ve always been comfortable with green tones and decided to go for it in the dining room. I’m so happy with how it turned out," Sarah says.
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Sarah found these vintage Breuer chairs and had them reupholstered. They are paired with a tulip table and large-scale artwork. The design is new and lively while nodding to great design from the 20th century.
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The dining room opens to the newly remodeled kitchen.
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"We spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It’s probably our favorite room in the entire house. With a tight budget, we purchased standard cabinetry and appliances and tried to make them look custom," Sarah says.
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"Efficiency is really important to Kalyn, so it’s safe to say that was one of his major renovation goals," Sarah says. "He reworked the insulation, plumbing, electrical, etc. Pretty much everything is new and energy-efficient, including our appliances and every lightbulb."
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Kalyn, Sarah and Finn in their gorgeous kitchen.
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"Having only one bathroom isn’t as bad as you’d think. It’s really fine for just the two of us. Sometimes when guests come over, it gets a little crowded, but for the most part, we’re happy with it," Sarah says. "We did sacrifice a small linen closet during the renovation to expand the bathroom."
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Sarah and Kalyn got these gorgeous mirrors from a small woodworking studio in New York. The mirrors bring balance to the hard lines of the vanity. Originally, Sarah painted the vanity blue and instantly realized that black would suit the space better.
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"When renovating we tried to keep many original features or match new millwork to the existing. We really wanted to preserve the historical integrity of the home," Sarah says. "Kalyn built secret hiding compartments throughout the house. Haha! I don’t even know where all of them are."
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"The hallway is probably one of our proudest accomplishments. It was really claustrophobic and boring when we purchased the home. We removed some doors, widened the traffic path, added wainscoting, and wallpaper. I think it’s anything but boring now. It’s located in the heart of our home and you can pretty much catch a glimpse of it from any space," Sarah says.
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The Gibson family's guest room is cool and casual with a neutral palette and mid-century pieces.
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"The built-in bench actually hides the pitch of our basement stairs. I would love to add floating shelves above it some day! This bedroom has the best light in the entire house. It’s really my favorite hangout to read or shoot photography."
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"I actually spend more time in the guest room than you’d imagine because my closet lives in that space. With only two closets in our house, Kalyn took one for the team and uses the small closet in the master," Sarah says. "We still have a few things to add in this space, but for the most part, our guests seem to like staying here!"
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Sarah collects vintage cameras. While some are still in storage, several of the cameras are displayed around the house -- each one with a story and special attachment.
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"Once moving into our home, we decided to upgrade to a king; even though our bedroom is small and it’s a little tight in the space, we agree it was well worth it! I custom designed our master bed. I sketched out how I wanted the waffle tufting, dimensions, leg style and even the leather color," Sarah says. "We also tried to add little details that can’t be found anywhere else in the house, like the ceiling medallion."
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"This is Kalyn’s side. The vintage letterform “G” used to hang in a marquee above a theater in Chicago. It was one of our favorite wedding gifts," Sarah says.
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The nightstands in the master bedroom are vintage. Kalyn lacquered them and wrapped the bases with brass.
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Their dark dresser and modern candlesticks in the bedroom anchor the abstract piece created by Sarah and framed by Kalyn.
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The mudroom has all of the essentials (storage, hooks and a bench) with added beauty (a photograph by Sarah, rug and pillow).
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"The mudroom is located at the back of our home. We use it to hang coats, bags, kick off shoes, etc. It’s Finn’s favorite spot in the house! 90% of the time, you can find him snoozing under the bench," Sarah says.
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"I’m incredibly thankful we were able to renovate and learn so much about the construction process along the way," Sarah says. "Without Kalyn and our family, our house wouldn’t be nearly as nice. He really took extreme measures to make sure everything was just right and functioning properly. To us, it’s the perfect first home because we made our visions come to life together."
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The Gibson's floor plan.

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Comments

  • I am so very surprised nobody asked this before me, but I’m dying to know the paint color on your living room walls. Also, is it the same color on the fireplace? In the process of renovating our new home and I have been searching high and low for that shade.

  • Yes me too! What wall color is this? Re-doing our den and I want a bold wall color–this one is perfection!

  • Your home is beautiful, Sarah! I love it even more that it’s been restored. I had a question – I see that you have two of the plants we want in our home – snake and fig – and wanted to know if your dog goes near them. We are curious because we have two cats and our vet told us they are supposed to be toxic to pets. Thanks so much and love your home! ❤️

  • Your space is very well done.
    The footprint of the house looks like it might be in the Belmont neighborhood. Is this correct?

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