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

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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

  1. nanci jean says:

    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!

  2. It looks like a warm, friendly place! I could live here! I think sunrooms are brilliant for winter/rainy-day play areas.

  3. Kim says:

    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.

  4. Claire says:

    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’.

  5. Vanessa Bailey says:

    Very pretty Jessica!

  6. Kate says:

    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!

  7. Christi says:

    This is so lovely! What are your paint colors in the living room and bathroom? They are so nice!

  8. Linda says:

    An amazing but doable transformation! Love it! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Jessica says:

    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.

  10. Sue Rooney says:

    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!

  11. Lyndsey says:

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

  12. Ali says:

    This is lovely & inspiring! Would you share where the beautiful red carpet is from? I love it.


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