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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Hatfield

Building Away from Builder Grade

When we first met the Smiths, they were interested in multiple upgrades for their beautiful Bellbrook home. Although the house was constructed with some really lovely features, there was a lot of room for updates to infuse the home with some more personality and make better use of wasted space. The two projects that the Smiths decided to start with were the shared bathroom for their teenage daughters and the family room fireplace wall.


The Smiths felt like their family room was a little lackluster with the builder-grade fireplace which featured a firebox that sat level with the floor, stacked ledger stone, surround, and a wooden mantle. Although the fireplace was nicely done, we agreed that the space felt pretty disproportionate with the vaulted ceilings. They envisioned custom built-ins but the fireplace bumpout was only about 4" deep, so they had hit a stumbling block with the overall design. We went to work taking all of their ideas into account and landed on a design that ultimately gave them the facelift they had been hoping for.


The Design Plan


We raised the firebox to allow for a hearth to help give a more upgraded feel and also provide a bit more seating when the family has a houseful of people. Pulling the fireplace wall out with the addition of the hearth also gave us a cohesive line for adding new cabinetry on either side to give purpose, function, and style to what had been largely wasted space before.

We added stacked marble ledger from floor to ceiling to really capture the height of the room visually and a custom mantle stained to match the butcher black tops on the built-ins.

The addition of hidden outlets above the bookcases that operate off of a switch provide up-lighting for ambiance but also gives some versatility so that the Smiths can opt to easily swap out their up-lighting for Christmas garland and lights or any other seasonal decor throughout the year.


The girls' bathroom had a number of design issues that the Smiths weren't crazy about. The cream-colored countertops leaned yellow (which was not in the Smith home color palette) and the build-grade tub and surround felt dated.



We gave the bathroom an elegrant upgrade by adding elements to enhance the style and function of the space. The vanity cabinets were in good shape, so we opted to keep them and just freshen them up with new quartz countertops and brushed nickel hardware. We adding lighting and new mirrors to tie the space all together, so the center cabinet could also serve as a prep station.

We removed the tub and surround and added a new soaker tub and tile surround that extended to the ceiling. We added a double pocket in the back wall, so storage would be within reach whether someone if sitting in the tub or standing in the shower.

To give a little pop of color and visual interest to the space, we added a fun patterned floor tile. we topped it all off with new overhead lighting and a bluetooth exhaust fan/light combo, so the girls can connect to their music easily while getting ready for the day.

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