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before and after

Before & After: A Labor of Love for a Designer and Contractor

by Annie Werbler

When thinking about purchasing first homes, excited buyers envision not only the changes they want to make, but also the times that will be spent there. Five years ago, Rachel and Tyler Grace weren’t just dreaming about sophisticated crown moldings upon finding their single-story 1920 Craftsman bungalow in Haddon Heights, NJ; they were also planning for the future arrival of now-two-year-old daughter, Selby Lake. Rachel, an interior designer and manager of furniture and lighting product development for Anthropologie, chose to put special emphasis on her home’s architectural details while keeping the place family-friendly. Tyler, an interior remodeling contractor, is the principal and head carpenter of TRG Home Concepts. Through various collaborations on professional projects as well as their own residence, Rachel has learned about the technical side of renovating, while Tyler counts on Rachel’s aesthetic design eye.

The homeowners completed one room at time. In total, it took them five whole years to redo the house to their specifications, as Rachel found herself booking Tyler’s time as would any of his customers. Beginning with the bathroom and finishing in the kitchen, Rachel and Tyler introduced at least one type of molding in each area. For overnight guests, walls paneled in white-painted wainscoting await. Selby’s room received an intricately-coffered ceiling. The living room fireplace is surrounded by built-in bookcases, and shiplap in the kitchen lends traditional texture. The bedroom closets were not even deep enough to accommodate standard hangers, so Tyler also rebuilt and expanded them to accommodate clothing (and Rachel’s few too many pairs of shoes). She’s thankful to have such a talented partner “who jokes that renovating has been a labor of love,” Rachel shares. “A labor for him and love for me.”

The home’s 1,100 square feet won’t hold the brood forever; with two adults, one small child, and eight-year-old chocolate Lab Shammy, Rachel anticipates wanting more space in the not-too-distant future. “We’re going to outgrow it and it’s going to break my heart,” she admits. “We started our family in our house and have literally put our blood, sweat, and tears into it.” —Annie

Photography by Courtney Apple

Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
1/22
In the Haddon Heights, NJ kitchen of Rachel and Tyler Grace, banquette seating was installed to save floor space. Tyler wrapped the shiplap used throughout the room on the benches as well.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
2/22
At some point in time, the back dining area of the kitchen had been an addition. The Grace family took advantage of the gable roofline and raised the ceiling, also removing a partial wall dividing the main kitchen.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
3/22
Satisfied with the galley layout of the kitchen, Rachel and Tyler were most excited to raise the drop ceiling.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
4/22
Removing the addition's wall enhanced the flow of the kitchen dramatically, as did demoing the soffit and running the cabinets up to the ceiling.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
5/22
Light and bright finishes as well as mixed metals give the kitchen a breezy, contemporary vibe.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
6/22
Tyler built a new closet to house a full-size stackable washer and dryer unit.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
7/22
To the left of the closet, gray cabinetry holds supplies for laundry and cleaning.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
8/22
The stackable washer and dryer has a smaller footprint than a standard set.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
9/22
The kitchen was opened up by swapping in a counter-depth fridge and building it into a cabinet.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
10/22
Wall ovens were replaced by a full-height pantry.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
11/22
After debating installing a range hood or a microwave, the couple realized they wanted maximum counter space and lower cabinet storage, so opted for an above-range microwave. Blue Linen Willoughby sofa in Denim from Anthropologie.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
12/22
The poorly-insulated glass front door was replaced by a Craftsman-style wooden model.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
13/22
Living room chairs were found at a garage sale in upstate NY, then painted and reupholstered in Caitlin Wilson's Charcoal City Maze fabric.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
14/22
The living room fireplace was reimagined in a Craftsman style with flanking poplar bookshelves. Above, the homeowners IKEA-hacked a Grundtal Mirror with rope and eye hooks from The Home Depot.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
15/22
In a hallway, gold removable adhesive Small Triangles by Mur pop against zinc-painted sheetrock.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
16/22
A new coffered ceiling and vibrant area rug in the nursery.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
17/22
Tyler built out an entirely new master closet with enough hanging space for him and Rachel.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
18/22
The homeowners decided to introduce at least one type of molding in each room in the home. For the guest room, they selected wainscoting.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
19/22
The guest room walls are painted in Martha Stewart's Spring Melt, and trimwork in Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
20/22
"Sayonara drop ceiling!," Rachel jokes. In the bathroom, she and Tyler also replaced hollow core doors with classic five-panel models to match the originals found in the home.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
21/22
In one day, Tyler installed a built-in wall cabinet for bathroom storage in place of the enclosed closet which made the room feel smaller.
Before & After: A Raenovate Labor of Love, on Design*Sponge
22/22
Rachel and Tyler set out to make their detached garage resemble a carriage house. Tyler built the doors and the couple covered them in Benjamin Moore's Kendall Charcoal.

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