Interiorssneak peeks

A Once Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest

by Lauren Chorpening Day

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

A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
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."
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
Sarah created visual interest behind the television with a gallery wall featuring pieces from favorite artists and prints and photos Sarah created herself.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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."
The neutral palette and clean design make the living room an inviting, peaceful place to be.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
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.
The dining room opens to the newly remodeled kitchen.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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."
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
Kalyn, Sarah and Finn in their gorgeous kitchen.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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."
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
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.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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."
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
The Gibson family's guest room is cool and casual with a neutral palette and mid-century pieces.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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."
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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!"
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
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.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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."
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
The nightstands in the master bedroom are vintage. Kalyn lacquered them and wrapped the bases with brass.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
Their dark dresser and modern candlesticks in the bedroom anchor the abstract piece created by Sarah and framed by Kalyn.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
The mudroom has all of the essentials (storage, hooks and a bench) with added beauty (a photograph by Sarah, rug and pillow).
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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.
A Neglected Home Beautifully Restored in the Midwest | Design*Sponge
"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."
The Gibson's floor plan.

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  • I just saw this house tour on Dana’s blog, HouseTweaking! I think I pinned every image. Every detail is spot on. I love the Oh Joy wallpaper in the hallway and that guest room is stunning!

  • This is my favorite home tour ever! Sarah and Kayln- are all did such a wonderful job, I’ve got a list a mile long of ideas to take back home :) The pops of green are gorgeous!

  • This is one of my favorite house tours to date! I love the mix of mid-century and traditional pieces. So many great personal touches, and the use of color is restrained but very impactful. Lovely.

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE!! Great work. Can you provide info on the Dining Room wall art?

  • Cute place! I love the small area rugs and that runner in the hall. I also have that CB2 bench that’s in the mudroom, and I’ve been so impressed with its quality (not to mention how awesome it looks!).

  • I love love love love the green in the dining room! What paint color is it??? Also, the living room is absolutely gorgeous. This is one of my favorite DS house tours ever!

  • Perfect balance of neutrals and color, love this whole house! Would you share the name of the paint color on the mudroom walls? I’ve been looking for a shade like that for awhile.

  • What a beautiful home! My home has a similar floor plan and I’m curious as to how you styled/arranged your front entry way. I too have the front door opening into the living room (without a real/full entry) and I love to see how others, in similar situations, arrange the entry.

  • Miss Sarah. Loving all the attention you are getting because you deserve it. Miss you and Kalyn. When you are down Stendal way please stop. Love and Happiness! Stacy

  • What is the name of the green paint in the dining room? I’ve been searching for a good, rich green just like it.

  • I love the colors you have chosen for your home. Can you give us a rundown of the names of each room? I’m especially interested in the grays, like the closet doors and dark grey in the bedroom. Thx!

    • Thanks, Katie! The closet doors are Benjamin Moore Nimbus, the black accent wall in the bedroom is Benjamin Moore Black Panther. Hope this helps :)

  • Sarah,

    I adore your space! Would you mind sharing the paint colors of your shutter doors and dining rom with us?

    I have been looking for a cognac leather bed frame too. Where’d you snag yours?

    -Garrett Fleming

    • Hi Garrett, the closet doors are Benjamin Moore Nimbus and the dining room is Sherwin Williams Evergreens. The cognac bed is custom designed in Titan Toffee leather, made by Lee Industries (a vendor we use at the design firm I work with).

  • Thanks so much Garrett! Of course, the dining room paint is Sherwin Williams Evergreens and the closet doors are Benjamin Moore Nimbus. I custom designed the leather bed. It was manufactured at Lee Industries (one of the lines we carry at the design firm I work with). Hope this helps!

  • Amazing home!! Loved every detail.

    Can you tell me where the TV stand came from please?

  • My husband and I are redoing a 1200 sqft home and I needed inspiration. I found it here . Your renovation is so refreshing . Thank you.

  • Beautiful beautiful home! Would you mind sharing where the fiddle fig planter is from? Thanks!

  • What’s the source for the tv stand? I’m looking for one right now, and that looks perfect!

  • I love this house! I’m from Dayton so I’m super exciting to see local style. Its nicely styled while still being homey! My fav is the entry.

  • Gorgeous house! Totally agree with Sarah – buy what you love and it will all hang together and look great ❤️

  • Hey Sarah
    Congrats to you and Kalyn on this amazing renovation.
    My husband are close to the end of our own renovation and I am in charge of the lighting.
    Live the lights you have used throughout your home; could you please share where you got them from?


  • Love, love, love this home. Every detail is beautiful and considered with nothing feeling superfluous or missing. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sarah, your home is beautiful!! Can I please ask where the floor lamp in your guest bedroom is from? Thanks!

  • Sarah, everything in your home comes together so beautifully. The hallway with the gorgeous wallpaper and wainscoting is lovely. Did you mention the wall color in your mudroom? I may have missed it. It seems a nice, warm neutral without being “beige.” Thank you!

  • Hi Sarah,
    Your place is just so lovely. Love the green walls …Particularly love your kitchen.
    Curious to know…Throughout the house, where you have white walls, I’d love to know if you chose the same shade for the creiling or if this is a different shade of white to the walls.

    • Hi Veronica- Thanks so much!! The ceiling and trim is actually a different color of white. For the ceiling, we just used a standard “ceiling paint” from Lowes. The trim is Benjamin Moore Super White in semi-gloss (the finish is different than the wall, which is flat finish).

  • Hi, Sarah. I’m joining the list of admirers and inquisitors. I’m originally from Toledo, and I love to see wonderful old Midwestern houses get love. You guys did a beautiful job on this one.

    May I ask where you had the large-scale mudroom photo framed? Thanks for sharing your source for printing it. If I submit an order, I want to make sure framing it won’t break the bank.

  • Hello! Thanks so much for your kind words. I had the same thought cross my mind with the frame! I had a local company price framing and it was way more than we were willing to spend (which I totally understand because of the size). Therefore, I had my husband build the frame. He did a great job; I should’ve posted a DIY on that one ;)

  • Your home is so beautiful! The green dining room is breathtaking! And oh my gosh, your dog is equally as gorgeous – what kind of dog is he?

  • I’m a little late in joining the list of admirers here- but is there any way you can share where you got the grey sectional? I’ve been looking for a neutral sectional to put in my living room.

  • Hello!
    How beautiful! Please share your source for the white living room fan.

  • omg!!!! I love it … I could just cuddle with the green dining room wall!!!!! beautiful job.. entire home

  • Hi Sarah – Your house is beautiful! I have the same dining room chairs, all with broken cane, and like how you redid them. If you did them yourself, would you please share how? Thanks – Rachel

  • Beautiful home! Thank you for sharing. I am curious as to where you got the photo of the white Porsche in your bedroom? I need that!

  • Green chair in the living room! Can’t believe nobody is asking about it. Where is it from? Planning on doing a green room or green accent wall and using a velvet green sofa or chair so I was very happy to see it.

  • Where did you get the closets from that are grey in the guest bedroom. I have been looking everywhere and cannot find something like that.

  • Where are the white and brass end tables from in the bedroom! They are amazing!

  • I found your beautiful house on Pinterest! Exactly my dream house!
    I’m looking closet doors if you remember I would like to know where did you get from!

  • Hi there! Your home is absolutely beautiful! What is the color/manufacturer of your countertops?

  • Hi we have the same concern with our Master bedroom. Where’d you get the bedside dressers for the master?

    • Hi we have the same concern with our Master bedroom. Where’d you get the bedside dresser for the Master? Thanks!

  • I love the design of the whole house through out and I want those paneled closet doors in my master and guest bedroom. Like yourself my closet is in the guest room! Where did you find them?
    xoxo Ari xoxo

  • 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! ❤️

  • I’d love to know what light grey paint color that is, on the guest bedroom closet doors?!

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

  • Did anyone find out what color this green is on the dining room walls? I’ve been searching high and low for the perfect green for my office and THIS is the green. Please share the color-maker!

  • Lovely design. Is the wall art in the mud room available for purchase? Looking for a large wall art piece for my hallway leading up to my laundry area.

  • Hi there!

    Do you know what color white the kitchen cabinets were painted? I too have white kitchen appliances and I’m hoping to find a complementary color.

  • Hello Sarah. Any chance you recall the name of the lovely fabric on the cane chairs in the dining room? Your home is so lovely!