Before and After: A Look Inside Our Editor in Chief’s Home

Ceding control is never easy, especially when it comes to something as personal as the design of your own home.

But as Make It Better’s Editor-in-Chief Laura Hine recently learned, sometimes it pays to bring in a professional, in this case, Chris Garrett, of Garrett Paschen Interior Design in Evanston. “I feel like this house is a lot more ‘us’ than it was before,” Hine says, of the Italianate-style bungalow in Wilmette that she shares with her husband Clarkson and their three kids (ages 19, 19 and 14). “We loved Chris’s taste, so we were able to have a lot of faith in her recommendations.”

According to Hine, Garrett was able to help them to solve problems that had been vexing them since they moved into the home in 2001. “We couldn’t all sit and watch TV unless somebody sat on the floor, and we didn’t have a coffee table, so there was literally nowhere to put up your feet when you were reading,” Hine explains, pointing to the new swivel chair in the family room, which can easily pivot to face either the TV or the conversation area.

To contemporize the look of the family room, which had originally been used as a dining room, Garrett had the ornate wall moldings removed and papered the walls in an enveloping shade of brown. “We’d never had brown walls, and we weren’t sure how they would look, but it’s so warm, dramatic and beautiful,” Hine says.

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In the adjacent living room, Garrett designed a more formal conversation area around an oversized upholstered ottoman that has plenty of room for everybody in the family to kick back and put their feet up.

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A bar cabinet helps bridge the space from the kitchen at the back of the house to the dining area at the very front. “We start with cocktails in the living room and move into the dining room for dinner,” Hine says, pointing to the sofa table, which also serves as a serving table. The dining area itself doubles as an office for Clarkson when he works from home.

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The Hine family is thrilled with the result. “Chris helped us to make our home more stylish, but she also helped us increase each space’s livability,” Hine says. “ We could have never done it without her.”

Semi-Custom Design Ideas

High design at a lower price point—you don’t have to be into DIY to appreciate the benefits of semi-custom design.

Rugs—Rather than searching for a fine rug for the living room, Garrett had a large carpet bound. “Binding a piece of carpet is much less expensive than buying a rug, and your choices are much larger,” Garrett explains.

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Lamps—Garrett had the lamps made custom from colorful ceramic vases. “It’s so hard to find the right lamps,” she says.

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Cabinet—It was important for Clarkson that the room include a cabinet that his grandfather had made by hand. Garrett thought that it was too short, so she sent it to her craftsmen who added height and put doors on the bottom. To create a matching cabinet, Garrett bought a stock piece from Crate and Barrel, which her craftsman modified to complement the family heirloom.

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Paint—In the entry foyer, a new antique white finish freshens up a formerly dark and dated vintage cabinet. Garrett also hired a decorative painter to create a softer finish for the large brick fireplace in the living room.

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Laura with Chris
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Photos also by Tate Gunnerson