There's no place like home

rajuretic@sbcglobal.netJune 22, 2011 

  • TIPS:

    A CASE FOR SUITCASES Vintage suitcases are versatile for storage and decorating. Stack them for an impromptu end table, place them at the foot of the bed for storing linens, or use a small one to add height to a tabletop vignette.

    GET KIDS INVOLVED Make it easy for kids to lend a hand with chores. Keep closet rods low so they can hang up their own clothes. Adjustable rods can be raised as the child grows. Stash bins near their activity table so that they can put away craft items. Keep their plates and cups on a low shelf so that they can set their own place at the table or, if older, grab a snack or a drink for themselves.

    START WITH WHITE Keep your primary color scheme white, or in a light neutral. You can then change things up with new wall color, pillows, vases and accessories.

On any given day, the San Luis Obispo home of Sean and Lindsey Cheney is a classroom, an office, a workshop, and a hub for extended family. The space is designed as an efficient multi-tasker, but also as a nurturing and comfortable haven for the couple and their three young children.

When the Cheneys purchased the pre-1920s built home in 2005, they knew it would require extensive upgrades, including new plumbing and electrical systems. As with many remodels, one project snowballed into another.

“We had to restructure most of the roofline, which led to tearing down almost the entire structure and starting over from scratch,” noted Lindsey. Although the Cheneys enlisted the help of architect Bob Griswold and general contractor David McCoy of Topflight Construction, they are no design lightweights themselves. Sean owns San Luis Obispo company Onesource Home Solutions which sells and installs window coverings, storage systems, garage cabinets and epoxy flooring. Lindsey’s business is The Pleated Poppy, for which she blogs and creates handcrafted accessories. Prior to this, she was a faux finisher and purveyor of vintage goods.

The goal of the remodel was to make the home more family-friendly without drastically altering its historic character. They kept the look of the exterior the same, but expanded the front porch to make room for seating and dining areas.

“We had heard that it’s a front porch neighborhood where people come by and just hang out,” said Lindsey.

The home was taken from under 1,500 square feet to 2,150. Careful space planning makes it seem even larger. The team opted to combine the main living spaces into one open great room. Bedrooms are located at each corner of it, eliminating the need for space-consuming hallways.

At the front of the house is a large sun-drenched playroom which the family uses for multiple activities. It is Lindsey’s sewing, crafting and blogging room. Sean runs his business partly from it. The kids not only play in the room, they are homeschooled there.

“We planned the house envisioning the great room as where we'd spend most of our time as a family, but in reality, 90 percent of our days are spent in the playroom,” said Lindsey.

Several features cater to the family’s busy lifestyle. The master closet includes a laundry area which is connected to the playroom. It allows Sean and Lindsey to quickly toss in a load directly from the clothes hamper, then fold clothes while keeping an eye on the kids.

Sean’s business is home storage, so naturally each room is ultra-organized with custom built-ins. In the playroom, a long desk area has a station for each child, with drawers to organize their art and school supplies. Each child’s bedroom closet has rods and shelves low enough for them to put away their own clothes. As they grow, everything can be adjusted higher.

“I’m big on kids doing chores and helping out around the house,” said Lindsey of their three children, aged three to eight.

The couple has remodeled three homes together in a signature style they call “California cottage.” The hallmark of their style is detailed woodwork such as wainscoting, crisp white trim and tongue-in-groove ceilings. Vintage elements include built-ins, beadboard paneling, pedestal sinks and honeycomb tile.

Lindsey’s color scheme begins with a base of white. She adds pops of color through handmade pillows and accents which are rotated seasonally. Her current favorite accent hues are mustard yellow and turquoise. She takes steps to ensure that everything is easy to clean, including the pristine white living room sofas which have washable slipcovers.

“If we spill juice on them, I can just pull them off and throw them in the washer with some bleach,” said Lindsey.

The couple decorates mostly with vintage furniture picked up at flea markets and yard sales. This isn’t just budget-friendly, it’s kid-friendly as well.

“Nothing is so precious here that it can’t be climbed on, pushed around the house, or banged into with Matchbox cars,” stated Lindsey.

A master at making pretty coexist with practical, she finds clever uses for her flea market finds. A large yellow dresser serves as an entryway table, but also has ample drawers to store assorted items like toy trains and wrapping paper. Old suitcases are stacked up to double as side tables and storage. A favorite old chandelier has been repainted to fit into each home the couple has lived in, and now adds sparkle to their dining area.

The remodel took a year to complete. Their second daughter was nearly one when the family moved into the house, and they have since welcomed a son. Their businesses have also grown; Lindsey now uses their home to host semi-annual boutiques. The house has adapted well to each change, a testament to the creative abilities of these two young entrepreneurs.

“Between the two of us, we both like a home project,” said Sean, “and we enjoy living in the results.”

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