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Making a Forever Home
By Tracy Dickinson | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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A Des Moines family transforms the home they love.

Remodel projects take place for a variety of reasons: adding more space, repairing damage, updating for resale purposes. For Scott and Stacey Johnson of Des Moines, it was raccoons that spurred their remodel project.

“We had torn off our rotting deck. The raccoons that had been living underneath it moved under the house, right below our kitchen table,” says Stacey. “That seemed like a good time to remodel the kitchen like we’d always talked about.”

After nearly 10 years in the home, the Johnsons knew there were things to be done on the house, and they had tossed around the idea of moving. But in the end, they realized they wanted to stay and make this their forever home.

The couple partnered with Ted Reeve of Legacy Homes on the design and construction, along with Angie Taggart of Paramount Kitchen & Bath, and then found interior designer Traci Baldus of Trieste through a friend. The kitchen renovation was the focal point of the project. However, it soon involved every other room on the main floor. Her expertise was paramount in pulling the design together.

A Unified Look

The Johnsons wanted the new look to reflect the home’s original, historic style but with a more open feel. A cramped front entry and narrow doorways made the living space feel smaller than it was, and the golden oak trim had become a bit dated.

“I think the first element Traci helped with was choosing the paint color for the kitchen,” Stacey says. “Scott had chosen the blue for the dining room. Based on that, Traci found the fabric for the drapes in the living room, which set the tone for everything else.”

The colors in the fabric pattern pop up throughout the main level in the entire first-floor color scheme in the flashes of color from throw pillows and upholstery fabric. Their bold pattern blends traditional and modern, much like Scott and Stacey themselves.

“The living room was the first room we really worked on together, so we took that a little slower. It’s not just a formal living room. It’s a room that gets lived in,” Baldus explains.

Stacey says that for her and Scott, it was the counter stools in the kitchen that proved Baldus was going to be important to the success of the project. “We spent most of a weekend dragging the kids from store to store while trying to find the perfect counter stools for the kitchen and just couldn’t find the right thing,” she says. “Traci sent me a picture on Monday of these stools. They were exactly what we’d been looking for. That was it for us. I knew I could never have done this myself.”

Those counter stools accent a stunning island in the kitchen that is the focal point of the room and the hub of the home now. Creamy white cabinetry and soft gray walls contrast with the rich wood floors. A wall of windows surrounds the dining area.

Personalized Style

Opening off the kitchen, the family room features a new fireplace, space for watching television and playing games, and a collection of artwork commissioned from local artist Sandra Gustafson. “Traci really helped with finding the right artwork,” says Stacey.

Baldus says, “Artwork is so personal. Scott and Stacey have specific tastes, but their individual tastes are different. I wanted to find something that would suit both of them.”

The interior designer believes that any design relationship involves some trial and error. “As you get to know a client and their tastes, and as you get the first few pieces, the rest becomes pretty clear,” she says.

Once that connection had become established, the Johnsons found that Baldus had the answer to every question, from the best furniture selections to suit their living style to how to hang the family photos.

Her expertise also resolved a dilemma with the living room fireplace surround. “The built-ins were custom-made by the previous owner. We hated to tear them out,” Stacey explains. “But the built-ins were all golden oak and were not going to match the new wood floor, so we thought it needed to go.”

Reeves advised painting the shelves and making some minor alterations to update the look. Baldus was key in selecting the color and then helping Stacey stage the items on the shelves. Those seemingly small changes have transformed the look and the livability of the room.

The same can be said of every inch of the main level, from the front door to the back entry.

“I always tell people if you’re going to do one thing, you should step back and rethink it. Every room flows into the next and one thing affects so much more” Stacey says. “You also need a phenomenal team that can generate ideas and complement one another’s input. Most important, have fun while doing it!”

This was certainly true for Scott and Stacey Johnson. The decision to remodel the kitchen resulted in what feels like a brand-new home that they plan to enjoy for decades.


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