Introducing the Kalvakota family, our dear friends and next project!
How Does Your Space Make You Feel?
How does your space make you feel? That was the first question I asked Nithin and Rachel Kalvakota, our dear friends, neighbors and every-day-hangout buddies. They have two young girls – one close in age to Lucy – and from the start, our friendship has always left us feeling fulfilled, happy and inspired. For years, they’ve lived in a home that was designed for the previous homeowner, someone with design tastes and sensibilities other than their own. When I asked how that made them feel, they both agreed: Bummed. Heavy.
Meet the Kalvakotas!
Follow along as we help Nithin and Rachel transform their first floor from dark + heavy into a space that’s a reflection of who they are. Let’s give them the freedom to love the place they call home.
How Do You Want Your Space to Feel?
Then came the harder question. How do you want your space to feel? After a beat, Rachel replied: Calm. And joyful. Can you do that? Yes! Yes, we can!
Nithin and Rachel are bright, thoughtful and light-hearted. Their home is a reflection of someone else entirely, and they’ve consistently felt paralyzed with where to start! While I’ve helped them with one-off dilemmas from time to time, they recently came to me with a budget and a white flag. Their ask was modest – just a little help to get them started – but in typical Kim fashion, I want to see them through from start to finish. My goal is to help them achieve a home that tells their story, complete with vintage artwork (painted by Rachel’s grandmother!), smart storage solutions (toys, toys, toys!), and a playfulness that gives them the freedom to love the place they call home.
They live in a style of Chicago homes we’ve nicknamed the ‘eco-box,’ meaning that the home maximizes its city footprint with modern efficiencies, tall ceilings and a street-facing wall of windows. These homes are long and narrow, coming in at about 20′ wide. This makes the living space about 15′ wide, once you account for the staircase. Fellow Chicagoans, you are probably familiar with this exact style of housing!
The previous homeowner used shades of beige, raisin and charcoal to show off the open floor plan, and they even painted black and white stripes in the entryway:
The Design Goals
We love a moody paint color (and fully believe that dark paint can still feel calming and joyful), but the color palette and application doesn’t match their personalities. I think I see what the former homeowner was doing – dark paint in the living room, with softer taupe in the kitchen and dining room (beyond) to create a sense of separation. We actually have plans to reverse that thought and welcome the open floor plan with one consistent color! At the same time, we have a few fun ideas to still create zones and nooks to create the coziness they’re craving.
In fact, we’ve already painted since I took these photos! Every single wall – the living room, kitchen, dining room, up the staircase and down to the basement – were painted in the prettiest, creamiest white, Sherwin-Williams Greek Villa. In the mornings, the light filtering through the trees offers hints of green, while in the evenings, soft lamp lighting brings warmth.
We have some exciting plans in the works for the cabinet storage area! It was initially picked by – you guessed it! – the people before Nithin and Rachel. It’s nice, but it’s too short to maximize storage for larger toys, and the cabinet above serves little purpose. This is where they play albums on their turntable, and we want to highlight that!
We also want to give them cubbies for toys, books and grab-n-go supplies (such as diapers, wipes and baby essentials). This dead zone in the middle of the floor is where the girls (and Lucy!) play, spread out and dizzy themselves in circles. We’ll lean into this by defining the zone.
The dining room is at the back of the house, and I personally love how it’s a part of the open floor plan, but it still feels somewhat secluded (in the most special way). We’ve enjoyed countless dinners around this table, and it’s already at a great starting point!
For example, the wall of white cabinetry is perfect for hiding away dining and kitchen overflow, but I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure what’s behind all those doors. Storage is only as good as the way it’s organized. Meaning, a whole wall of cabinetry serves little purpose if each door is hiding chaos. Luckily, we have a plan in place for this area, too!
We’ll be implementing a work-with-what-you-have attitude, while also incorporating a handful of upgrades (paint! lighting!). Most importantly, we’ll be reimagining better laid storage solutions so that everything has a place. Here’s a breakdown of the steps to get from A to B to Z:
- Purge, donate and sell underutilized items
- Remove gloss brown wall cabinets and replace with a nook of cabinetry (more on this in a later post!)
- Count, measure and assess what needs to be stored, and make a list
- Shop for baskets, bins and dividers and give them purpose
- Paint all the walls one color – DONE!
- Wallpaper the dining room and entryway
Lighting + Electrical
- Swap every last light switch to a dimmer
- Swap all bulbs for warm LED bulbs (2700-3000K for calm, welcoming light)
- Add lamps to tabletops and floor lamps to dim corners
- Replace the 3 main fixtures with large pendants (living room, kitchen island and dining)
Furniture + Accessories
- Order a modular sectional to invite more comfortable seating – DONE!
- Replace coffee table with a trio of storage ottomans that double as a place to set a drink + snacks
- Add large area rugs to define the different zones within this one large room
- Add greenery, textiles and artwork
We’re excited to dive in and transform this open floor plan with simple upgrades and smart choices. We’ll be sharing so much more in Stories today, so be sure to follow along with us on Instagram @yellowbrickhome!