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before and after

Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son

by Annie Werbler

With his collection of toy trucks, five-year-old Coban Lebold loves to help his mom Jessica McDonald update their 1905 Cape Cod-style home in Morgantown, WV. “More than anything, I like to transform or improve the looks of something,” Jessica says. “Last spring we transplanted a rhododendron by moving it to the backyard in his Tonka, and this winter he even helped me rewire a lamp (by pulling the cord through the other side of the pole).” When she first found their house in an established section of town called First Ward (right down the street from what Coban calls “the pirate park”), Jessica knew it had a lot of potential, but nearly cried when she saw the dated paneling and ceiling tiles on the second floor. Refreshing the finishes with the help of her family — including her doting parents — allowed Jennifer to tackle dozens of projects. “I even did the insides of closets,” she shares. “You know it’s bad when that’s the project you’re excited to tackle.”

Creating a home from scratch can be intimidatingly expensive, but Jessica has moved through the process slowly and waited for the right pieces to surface before pulling out her checkbook. Her renovation and decoration dollars have been spent on practical things that she and Coban will use long-term, not just whatever they want at the moment. “I like a mix of old and new, with clean modern lines, and lots of color,” Jessica notes. “I want the house to be neat and look great, but I also want the space to be easy and livable. I’ve really tried to make it fun and comfortable.” To tackle the inevitable parenting problem of living with kids’ items strewn about, Jessica devised a smart solution — the closed-in sunroom functions as Coban’s playroom, giving him plenty of space in which to play with his toys while Jessica has her own fun staging the areas nearby. “Though I might be able to see the stuff, it’s not actually in the living room. That makes such a difference.” —Annie

Photography by Jessica McDonald

Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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Jessica McDonald built a gallery wall around her TV to help it blend into the living room, and reflected a second collection of photos above the stairs.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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The space had potential before, but the furniture arrangement split the room in two.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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Jessica's father built shelves on either side of the fireplace on which to display her decorative collections. He also cut fireplace logs found around the property to its exact depth.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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Jessica felt this section of the room seemed really lonely before, and the hole for the fireplace seemed out of scale to her. Unifying all the trim work in bright white helped to brighten up this corner.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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Plywood floors were covered in plush carpet for safe play.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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Jessica found the aqua toy shelf on the side of the road for free. It proudly and neatly displays Coban's colorful toys.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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In the dining room, a green cabinet was bought at an auction long ago by Jessica's mother "We always called it the Green Monster," she jokes. "I love its very used patina and the cubby holes!"
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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Coban focuses on applying areas of color to the floorplan.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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The two-story home provides just under 1,500 square feet of usable space for the family.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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Four coats of paint were required to cover the stairs and railings, but Jessica chose to keep a natural wood runner down the middle so she wouldn't notice the dirt and scuffs from use.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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At the top of the stairs, a dedicated sewing room is refreshed with beadboard ceilings and contrasting trim details. The work table is made from a hollow core door and plumbing pipes.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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Part of Jessica's mom's childhood set, the green dresser contains craft supplies. The homeowner made the still-life painting on the right in college.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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The master bedroom received the same facelift treatment as the other upstairs space, with special attention paid to the open hole filled with insulation in the chimney wall. The window isn’t centered in the space, but Jessica faked a sense of symmetry by hanging a curtain rod all the way across.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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The master bedroom is a soothing place where Jessica can unwind after a long day.
Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge
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Some paint, a flea market sconce, new rug, homemade closet curtain, and a little black table from Jessica's favorite junk shop in town completely transform the look of the bathroom.

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Comments

  • Having had the privilege of visiting Jess and Coban in the home just two days ago, I can only say the pictures fail to do the home justice. The bigger picture of the house, inside and out is so much more. I would never have seen the potential that she clearly saw and I look forward to seeing what’s next . We will be back guys!

  • This is one of the most amazing before and after transformations I have ever seen! You have made your home amazing! And without doing much! Seriously. Wonderful. I love it. Oh. And the stair runner: brilliant.

  • What a transformation! So inspiring to see a stylish and funtional home that works for life with kids too. Just love all the smart choices and i feel like each room is a lesson in the impact of ‘good curtaining’.

  • What great transformations in each space! It’s amazing how much as little as only paint can make such a transformation, the addition of anything more makes it even better. Love it!

  • Thanks so much everyone–I really appreciate your comments! Christi, the paint in the living room is Filtered Shade by Valspar. I love it so much I’ve used it in two houses now and have gotten several friends to use it in theirs. : ) The bathroom color is also Valspar, but I’ll have to check at home to give you the exact name.

  • I’m remembering your valiant trip into NYC to experience Surtex with me so many years ago! So fun to happen to find you here in my favorite before & afters! So the creative bug wins again & you are using it in so many great ways! Great job & hope to reunite after too many years!

  • This is such a lovely home. I especially love the bathroom and the stairs. It is all very inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

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