Real Estate

Remaking home

Menlo Park moms train fresh design lenses on family life

When Sasha Chriss and Ashley Callahan became friends, one of their favorite pastimes was compulsive furniture rearranging in each others' homes. Eventually, their shared eye for space and decor became Home Remaking, a 3-year-old, family-centered interior design company.

Chriss and Callahan, both mothers of three young children, found they enjoyed working with other families, many, like Chriss, who are renting their homes, or, like Callahan, who are living in a smaller home.

"We believe everyone deserves to live in a beautiful home that reflects their story and their values," Chriss said.

They don't do kitchens or bathrooms, and they only come in "after the walls are up," Callahan said, to help clients with furniture, colors and flow.

Some clients live in rental homes, which can't be changed much from the outside, but the duo can help them refresh the inside.

"Our work stems from our belief that all families can enjoy each other when the home is created well," she said.

Generally, the duo, who mostly work on projects together, walk into a home and go on the "tour." Then they spend time listening and asking things like, "Where is your home bottlenecking the life you want to have?"

For example, one couple couldn't figure out how to make a couch configuration work for their family. It turned out, all they needed was another chair so the father could sit at eye level with their teenaged children and be included in family conversations.

"Our work is highly relational and unique to each of our clients," Chriss said.

Often, a client will have already hired an architect or designer for their home, but comes to Home Remaking saying, "I had a designer do my house but I want to make it family centered."

"No one wants to feel imprisoned by design and feel like they live in a museum," Callahan said, but often it takes a while to figure out the exact problem. "We are home detectives."

They often start by simply rearranging furniture. Usually the projects include buying new pieces of furniture, sometimes reupholstering old ones and adding accessories and art.

Sometimes the project is a 3,500-square-foot newly built home without any furniture and their job is to completely decorate it.

Recently, they were hired to make a home more inclusive for a new wife who had recently moved into her husband's home, which had previously served as a bachelor pad for him and his three teenaged sons.

There was a 10-foot-long "shuffleboard kind of table" in the middle of the living room and Nerf guns "stashed in every corner," Chriss said.

Their clients didn't want the kids to feel displaced, but at the same time, the home wasn't an accurate reflection of their family.

The challenge, she said, was to give the rooms (living, family and office) a clear purpose focused on connecting the family.

"We wanted to make the house feel inclusive for the new wife and still feel like home for the boys," she said.

Callahan and Chriss created a gallery wall of photos in the living room, printing all of the photos in black and white to create a sense of timelessness and cohesion, and included photos of the husband, his new wife and three sons. Ultimately, their home became a better reflection of their new family.

Sometimes, Home Remaking helps people figure out how to use their spaces better.

One woman was using her dining room table for work, forcing the family to eat at a smaller kitchen table. Callahan and Chriss got them a better-proportioned table for the room and found a different space for the woman's business.

While many new homes have an open floor plan, Chriss sees this as a trend and not necessarily the right one for everyone.

When a home has an open floor plan with few walls, the duo tries to create more intimate spaces for their clients.

"In a big open space, we like to use rugs to define a space, and we configure the furniture so that the purpose of each space is clear," Chriss said.

For young families, the answer may be a multipurpose space where a coffee table has storage in it so that it doubles as a play table for the children.

The company offers complete interior decorating services but also offers what they call a "Refresh" a minimum of two hours of time to listen, evaluate flow and set up or re-create spaces. They also offer paint consultation, helping clients find the right colors for both the interior and exterior of their homes.

For more information on Home Remaking, go to their website at homeremaking.com.

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