A California Family Sacrifices Square Footage for Soul

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Oftentimes we’re led to believe the bigger the home, the better. Grand staircases, chef-worthy kitchens and walk-in closets are what we’re all supposed to long for, right? I’ll admit I’ve occasionally fallen victim to this “keeping up with the Joneses” virtue of more, but I have to say it’s absolutely exhausting. So much so, I’ve begun to prioritize something totally different. Lately, I long for a house I can craft into my very own and a space that feels safe — no matter the size.

Like me, Shavonda Gardner is one homeowner who isn’t afraid to trade in a sizable home for one she can inject with some soul. Two years ago she convinced her wife Naomi to cut their square footage in half in order for them to snag a new house with more character, a cozy vibe and projects she could sink her teeth into. Luckily, right before closing on a house they admittedly weren’t crazy about, a 40s-era bungalow in Sacramento, CA that needed the perfect amount of love popped onto the market. They snagged it real quick.

Soon after moving in they kicked off the rehab, totally gutting the kitchen and updating the den. Black-and-white tile, new butcher block countertops and shiny new fixtures sit pretty in the cottage-inspired space now. Open shelving even shows off some colorful accessories, and a unique stair-step tile backsplash gives anyone cooking something eye-catching to gaze upon. Like the kitchen, the home’s outdated den was also given a new look. With little use for a second living area and in desperate need of more bedrooms, Shavonda and Naomi claimed it for themselves. It now serves as their owners’ suite and features a global mix of colorful, thrifted finds including stellar drapery and rich textiles.

As you’ll see, their bedroom isn’t the only space to be peppered with eclectic, patterned goods. Every other room in the quaint home — from the living, dining and even the back porch — is adorned with something unique. At the end of the day, the couple tells us that decorating and layering with these little additions has made an undeniable difference in how at home they and their two children feel in their new house. It’s been so successful, in fact, the couple works every day to find new ways to beautifully fit double the square footage, twice the number of bedrooms and three times the number of bathrooms worth of style into their new Golden State abode. Click through to take a peek and enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Shavonda Gardner

  1. Kelsey says:

    What an inspiring home! And Shavonda, you have a gorgeous family!

    1. SHAVONDA says:

      Thank you so much Kelsey!

  2. Mr Peacock says:

    Beautiful home! Love the stenciled patio!!

    1. SHAVONDA says:

      Thank you so much! It was a little time consuming, but totally worth it!

  3. Lyndsey says:

    This is beautiful! Thanks for the tour.

  4. Heidi says:

    My dream home!!!

  5. Anne says:

    I’m deeply in love with the front door color. Also inspired to see all the affordable furniture sources used in fresh ways in this home.

  6. Nicole Potter says:

    So beaitiful–love the color theme throughout! What is the element above the fireplace??? It seems related to their bedroom one too (which looks like feathers maybe???), but different materials…..i Love it and just want to touch it!

    1. Shavonda says:

      Hi there!! Thank you so much! You’re correct…they are feathers!! It’s called a juju hat and they are handmade in Cameroon, Africa. I sell them in my online shop actually:)

      1. Lynette says:

        Love this gorgeous, colorful non-minimalist home! Where is your online shop? I didn’t see it on your blog.

  7. Sally says:

    Great wall colour inside and outside. This is a gorgeous home.

  8. Cassie says:

    i love shavonda’s eclectic style and gorgeous home which radiates personality. she’s just as fabulous and warm in person, too!

    1. Shavonda says:

      Thank you so much my dear Cassie! Love you lady!

  9. Ms. Ainee C. Beland says:

    lovely home.

  10. Kirsten says:

    My style is much more minimal leaning than this home’s decor, but I would live here in a heartbeat! It is so beautifully done and full of love, color and texture. Great job to this family on creating such a cozy and amazing home.

  11. Lulu says:

    Well done! Color, comfort, style–you’re a triple threat Shavonda! XL

    1. Shavonda says:

      Thank you Lulu!!

  12. Jessica says:

    Beautiful! You’ve managed to make it look “done” while still giving me the feeling that I could walk in and hang out right now. Love it!

  13. Marie says:

    Gorgeous, so personal and welcoming! Thank you for sharing this beautiful space! We also have a just-right-sized 1920s house with a concrete patio, and now I’m inspired to try stenciling it. Any chance Shavonda would share a tutorial?

    1. SHAVONDA says:

      Thank you Anne! I absolutely love having a bright and fun front door! It makes me smile every time I pull into the driveway:)

    2. SHAVONDA says:

      Hi Marie! Thank you so much! I actually shared this project originally on the Home Depot blog! It will also have all the products I used as well. Here is the link http://blog.homedepot.com/boho-patio-makeover-power-of-paint/

      If you have any other specifc questions I’m happy to answer. Just shoot me an email:)

  14. Lynn Fontaine says:

    Love it.

  15. mm says:

    I just keep thinking, i love this home. So beautiful and inspiring

  16. ellietown says:

    So much lovely here, from the front door to the back porch, (especially that sky blue-ceilinged bedroom and the gorgeous corner sink/butcher block combo in the kitchen), but nothing is more lovely than the picture of a loving family in their happy place. Beautiful!

    1. SHAVONDA says:

      Thank you so very much! My tribe is a gang of cuties, right!?

  17. Joan says:

    I second Marie’s comments, any chance of a Porch stencilling tutorial or how-to tips?

    1. SHAVONDA says:

      Hi Joan!! Of course! Here’s the link to my how to for the floor. You can find the links for all the products used as well:) Here you are: http://blog.homedepot.com/boho-patio-makeover-power-of-paint/

  18. I LOVE following Shavonda on Instagram, how cool to see more of her home here. <3

    1. Shavonda says:

      Hi Staci!!! Thank you so much sweet friend!

  19. Julia says:

    Love you, your home and family Shavonda! The photos and your home look amazing! You are so talented my friend!

  20. SS says:

    Please excuse me if this question is intrusive – but if there are only two bedrooms, where does your son sleep? I understand if you don’t want to answer my question.

    1. SS says:

      PS. You have a beautiful home. I enjoyed “looking” through your home as I want to downsize to a smaller home as well.

      1. Shavonda says:

        Hi there! Of course Ill answer! No intrusion at all! Our children each took the 2 true bedrooms we have in the house. My wife and I turned the room the previous owners used as a den into our “bedroom” by bringing in custom PAX closets and adding a barn door for privacy. Its not super ideal but it definitely works until we can afford to build on a true master bedroom suite addition. I hope this gives you a better idea of how things are laid out. So if you look in the floorplan you’ll see the bedrooms and then the “bonus room”. The bonus room is what we use as the master for now.

  21. sm says:

    This is spectacular! What a beautiful home.

    1. Shavonda says:

      Thank you so much!

  22. Katrina says:

    Loved Shavonda’s home tour its so welcoming and inviting and love love the Juju hat over the fireplace, so pretty :)

  23. Carmeon says:

    Gorgeous, my friend. Simply gorgeous.

  24. Nina Leung says:

    The stenciling on the patio is brilliant! It looks so professional and finished. Gorgeous home!

    1. Shavonda says:

      Thank you so much Nina! Its definitely one of my most favorite DIYs in our home. I really really wanted patterned tile floors but couldnt afford the expense so this was the perfect solution:) I love it!

  25. Peter says:

    May I offer a quote from Quentin Crisp?

    “Never try and keep up with the Jones’ –
    drag them down to your level”

    1. Shavonda says:

      :) I like that!!

  26. Caroline says:

    Beautiful home. Beautiful family. So important in these times that Design Sponge continues to show that families come in all shapes and sizes x

    1. Shavonda says:

      Thank you so much Caroline! I couldnt agree more!

  27. Cat says:

    Beautiful home and family.

  28. Cara says:

    Beautiful home!

  29. Usually, I would have steered away from black walls in such a small space but it actually looks amazing. I think this could be due to the fact that it’s matte. Even though the home does have a lot going on it really works, making it so that every piece has a place makes the home come together. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Shavonda says:

      Hi Charlotte!! Yes, most people would never dare to paint the main rooms in their home black….especially not in a small home, but I’m a bit of a rebel! I like to be daring when I design and I always end up loving it:) The finish of the paint is actually eggshell, but it does read matte, right! I like to have a little bit of wipeability with black walls bc in such an active household we are constantly bumping up against them. Flat paint leaves a grey, ashy looking mark when you rub up against them. Thank you so much for your kind words:)

  30. Melissa says:

    Well this is now obviously one of my favourite home tours evvver. As a renter I could never do such a dark wall (weeps), but I’d love to know the colour anyway! Your living room is what my deams look like!

    1. Melissa says:

      Dreams, not deams!

      1. Shavonda says:

        Hi Melissa!! I’m so so glad you enjoyed the tour! Renting can definitely present its challenges…especially if your landlord restricts color choices:( Our black walls are Francesca by Martha Stewart. We color matched it to Behr Marquee formula. :)

  31. Becca says:

    I am so in love with the porch stenciling that I am now on a mission to do this on a balcony we have. I read your home depot blog and have a couple of questions:

    1. How hard would it be to do the stenciling for someone who is a total novice? You mention you have a lot of experience.

    2. Do you think stenciling would work on a stucco-like (think bumpy) ground? Wondering if the edges might turn out weird.

    Anyway, beautiful home – and so lovely to hear about people making smaller spaces work. We have been debating whether or not to upgrade to something a bit bigger now that we are expecting a second child, but I agree completing that a smaller and special home is worth more than square footage along.

    1. Shavonda says:

      Hi Becca!! Ok so first off yes, if you’re a total beginner you can absolutely stencil! It’s so so easy. It just takes patience. This was the second floor I’ve stenciled, and have also done a wall. Floors are waaaay easier bc gravity is on your side with floors.

      Second…I wouldn’t suggest stenciling on a bumpy surface. It will be difficult to keep the stencil in place, plus, i would worry that the pattern wouldn’t actually come out as you’d expect. It’s not impossible, but I highly recommend keeping with smoother surfaces.

      And thank you so much! Congratulations on your new addition. Small homes are so special and can be the perfect canvas for creating close families.

  32. Miachel says:

    Omg. Her family and home are gorgeous.

  33. Cle says:

    Wow, this is one of my favorite homes ever. Beautiful! I love the colors, and this is coming from a color commitment-phobe…

    1. Shavonda says:

      Ha!!! Thank you so much:)

  34. Gretchen says:

    I want to be you neighbor! LOVE your home and that stenciled porch floor.

  35. sara bayer-blessing says:

    I follow you on Instagram, and I always love when I see your home pop up!!! I love your vibe and the home you’ve made for your family! Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Shavonda says:

      Hi sweet Sara! Thank you so much! You’re so sweet:)

  36. April says:

    So darling. I love it. Good things come in small spaces. Cute family too!

    1. Shavonda says:

      Thank you so much April!

  37. Homegurlnextdoor says:

    So pretty! Love every picture.

  38. schoollady says:

    This home is stunning! I look at home tours quite regularly but this one had me at first photo. I sort of wish we were neighbors so I could possible see it in person. :-) Beautiful home, beautiful family.

    1. Shavonda says:

      If we were neighbors you could ABSOLUTELY come by anytime:)

  39. Robin says:

    I love what you did with your kitchen and porch. I like the butcher block counters and the creativity that went into the faux tile in your outdoor space. There’s so much to be said for a small cozy home with soul over a huge sparse house that leaves you cold. Good job!

  40. Robin says:

    This is gorgeous! Would you mind sharing where the night tables in your bedroom are from? Thank you!

  41. Robyn says:

    Really gorgeous home. There’s so much attention to detail!!! The stencil on the patio makes my back hurt just thinking about how much work went into it. Just amazing!!

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