Catastrophe to Calm

A leaky refrigerator spurred these homeowners into a total home overhaul.

By Shannon Craig    

Photography by Anne Matheis


In nature, catastrophic events usher in balance and calm. Fires create space for seedlings to grow. Winds and rain erode rock, releasing nutrients and replenishing tired ground. And kitchen floods can kick off whole-home remodels, bringing new life to well-known spaces.

Such was the case for a pair of St. Louis homeowners, whose newfound peace and serenity came courtesy of a leaky refrigerator.

“We have found this to be a typical scenario,” explains Dana Dunbar of Lorrien Homes. “A single event can initiate a total review of the homeowner's most valued asset—their house.” 

“We had been talking about a remodel for a long time,” the homeowners say. "So, when the refrigerator ruined the floor, we quickly decided to go all in.” The home was, in their eyes, charming and comfortable as it stood. The original wooded interior lent to a coziness that was great when their children we’re still in the house. “It was wonderful and exactly what we wanted at the time,” they explain. But being just the two of them, they “were ready for a new look.”

Translating the homeowners’ vision would be a task. “I wanted cool, he wanted vibrant,” one of the owners laughs. “I didn’t know the color…but I knew the feeling.” But Jill Oliver Brown of Castle Design is always up for a good challenge and took the project on without hesitation.

“Honestly, I just listen,” she says. “I hear what homeowners want, and I reflect that in our design choices. The homeowners wanted calm, so I balanced color with serenity.” Fresh taupe, beachy blues and icy grays ground the majority of the house in cool, while a sunroom practically pulses with color and sunlight. With Oliver Brown’s selection of versatile neutrals, the homeowners’ individual needs can easily be melded. It only takes a few pillows and pictures to dial the color factor up or down.

“We used Duane’s Cabinets in Union for those beautiful cabinets in the kitchen and Wilson Lighting to replace all of the lights in the house but one,” the designer describes. “Every surface was touched but the beams in the great room, which bring some earthiness to what’s really a very airy space.”

And the transformation came full circle in five short months—a non-negotiable to Dana Dunbar and Lorrien Homes, and a welcome surprise to the homeowners. “We approach each project as if it is our only project!” he says. “We've all heard the horror stories of remodels that take forever to complete due to poor planning, delays in procuring materials, and inefficient work crews. At Lorrien Homes, we take great pride in our remodel construction process—we develop a construction timeline prior to initiation of the project, and we stay on that timeline.”

A listening ear, structured timeline and superior design took this home from utter catastrophe to complete calm. And for these homeowners, there wasn’t a single detail that hadn’t been bettered once the storm settled and the waters receded. “It took a lot of small steps and starting from scratch to get here,” they say. “But now we look around and we think how everything is exactly how we’d wanted it be…it makes us feel very calm.”



Appliances: AUTCOhome

Builder/remodeler: Lorrien Homes Remodeling 

Cabinets: Duane's Cabinets

Flooring: Countryside Flooring America 

Granite Fabricator: Stone Fabricators

Interior Design: Castle Design 

Lighting: Wilson Lighting 

Plumbing: Premier Plumbing 

Tile: The Tile Shop