When Daeaun Messer and her husband Steve moved into their Plymouth home 12 years ago, she wasn’t particularly fond of the golden oak cupboards or the golden oak hardwood floors or the golden oak baseboards—not to mention the light-colored carpeting throughout or the lack of built-ins. She was, however, crazy about the neighborhood.
“This is such a wonderful community and one that’s very hard to duplicate elsewhere,” Messer says. As a first-grade teacher in a school that’s close to their home, she felt truly connected to the area; when their son Jack was born six years ago and they started putting down roots, that feeling only grew.
So when the Messers started thinking about a home with more living space, an updated kitchen and, of course, some color other than gold, they paused, reminding each other of just how much they loved where they were. After giving it much thought, they opted for an interior “refresher” instead of pulling up stakes and moving.
“Our remodel didn’t include moving any walls or anything of that nature,” Messer says, “but we really wanted to address some of the issues that had been bothering us about the house.”
This wasn’t the first change; the couple had been fine-tuning along the way, including adding a built-in bookcase for some much-needed architectural interest in the dining room right before Jack was born, and painting the kitchen cupboards black.
Now, it was time for all of the furnishings on the main level to be removed; for approximately six weeks, the Messers cooked dinners in a microwave in the basement. They hired painter Joe Hannen to apply white enamel to the oak cupboards, doors and baseboards, and hardwood floors were added where there once was carpeting; the floors were stained a dark, rich tone (Joe Hannen Painting and Decorating; 763.843.1769). The walls were painted a warm neutral and sumptuous brown (think Elephant Tusk and Bittersweet Chocolate by Benjamin Moore from Hirshfield’s Plymouth, 1797 Xenium Ln. N.; 763.577.9864; hirshfields.com), and a chair rail was added to some rooms for more impact.
Once the groundwork was laid, interior designer Gayle Crummer, who just happened to be the Messers’ neighbor, was brought in to help.
“It was kind of like moving into a new home,” Messer says of the finished product. “I didn’t just want to move everything back in the way it was. There were some things I wanted to change, and I knew Gayle had the expertise to help me figure out how to do that.”
Crummer, who spent more than a decade designing for Gabbert’s before venturing out on her own, has made a career out of infusing beautiful design with functionality. “I helped Daeaun to really look at the rooms and how she was using them; we reworked the spaces, and found solutions to her problems within those rooms,” she says. “It was very important to create a home that truly reflected Daeaun and Steve.”
The first space Crummer addressed was the underused dining room. Messer longed for a comfortable room free from television and other distractions; she could count on one hand the number of times she used the room in any previous year, but she still wanted to have the space available for those times when she did gather around the table with her loved ones.
Crummer’s solution: A library that was the perfect spot to read a book with Jack, or take a phone call, but that, with a quick switch of furniture, could be used for those special family meals.
To achieve this dual-purpose room, Crummer gathered two small club chairs Messer had in different rooms and created an intimate conversation area; an ottoman from Jack’s room was topped with a wooden tray to become the perfect table. (“Ottomans can act as a table, an ottoman or additional seating,” Crummer says.) She reworked the bookcases to include books and other accessories the couple had procured during their travels and left much of the silver collection (some pieces were Messer’s mom’s wedding gifts) that meant so much to Daeaun and added to the overall ambience of the room.
When a more formal dinner is on the docket, “She can just move these chairs to the bay-window area, bring in the table from the eating area in the kitchen and cover it with a dressy tablecloth,” Crummer explains. “It’s not as if she’s setting herself up to never have a dining room; the flexibility is there.”
Paisley drapery panels and new slipcover for the ottoman, each created by Plymouth resident Kathy Melnychuk (Kathy@melnychuk.com), are on the to-do list and will add some texture and warmth. The re-thinking of the space definitely worked, as Daeaun now calls it her “favorite room in the house.”
Crummer worked her magic in the office, too. Shifting the armoire from the corner at an angle to the center of the wall created a focal point and the perfect backdrop for the well-used space. She moved the large writing desk forward in the room and faced it towards the new library; a newly recovered ottoman is tucked underneath the desk for a bit of color and additional seating.
To disguise the numerous electrical cords essential to an office setting, Crummer recommended a large fern to hide the offending wires and add just a pop of color. The Boston fern, in turns out, was a remarkably affordable addition ($9.99; Lunds, 3455 Vicksburg Ln.). A plethora of Abraham Lincoln books and a bust that were handed down from Steve Messer’s grandfather adorn the desk.
In the family room, the TV armoire (previously—what else?—golden oak) was painted black to match the kitchen.
The space featured other design and décor challenges as well. Crummer had to work around a definite traffic pattern that went through the family room and up the stairs. “I took out one of the chairs and replaced it with the same smaller-scale table that was here before, and Daeaun found the perfect lamp to fit the space,” she says. The 22-inch carved block lamp cost $71 at Sterling Industries, available through CSN Lighting (csnlighting.com). “Now you can walk through here with ease,” Crummer says of the space. “We also moved the sofa to create a bit of separation between the eating area and the family room.” New neutral Roman shades warm the space without being too overpowering, and two low ottomans are situated right under the window so as not to obstruct the view of the lovely backyard—or interfere with TV viewing. A tin frame with a photograph of Jack pairs with a hexagonal mirror ($19.99; HomeGoods, 4190 Vinewood Ln.; 763.550.0382; homegoods.com) on a family-room wall.
Last but not least, Messer spent some time in the kitchen, where she added a glass front cupboard door perfect for showcasing her Limoges porcelain dinnerware, her gold platters from Italy and the platters her grandmother received as wedding gifts in 1934. She also showed she definitely has a creative side when she took a $20 piece of tin from a local hardware store and had it framed.
“I am so pleased with how everything turned out,” Messer says. “I’m so excited to start entertaining.”
Décor Tips for the Day-to-day
-Start with the larger pieces in a room, and work from there.
-Sit in each chair to get a feel for the view from that perspective.
-Be conscious of sight lines.
-Use butcher paper and painter’s tape as a template before hanging pictures/artwork.
-Display items that are important to you.
Tips courtesy of Gayle Crummer, Gayle Crummer Interior Design Inc., 763.458.3812.