Life in tight quarters isn't easy, and after years spent living in San Francisco and New York City, lifestyle blogger Alicia Lund and her husband Tanner were craving space and a backyard. When the opportunity knocked to relocate back to the West Coast, they found room to breathe in a charming 1940s home in Sacramento's East Sac neighborhood.
But going from a tiny West Village apartment to a four-bedroom house that needed a complete gut job isn't the smoothest of transitions, especially for a busy couple with plenty on their plate (she's an editorial stylist on top of keeping up with her blog full-time, Cheetah Is the New Black, while he works in private equity). To make their transition smoother, they called on the help of local designer Deborah Costa from Design Alchemy to bring their vision to life. Their brief: an updated open floor plan with a classic black-and-white color scheme and layered bohemian touches.
We chatted with the blogger and editorial stylist about every last detail of her remodel—take the exclusive tour.
"I couldn't have imagined undergoing a remodel on our own," says Lund of her newly remodeled ground floor—"especially since we took many of the rooms down to the studs." Gut-renovating the 1940s home took a bit of convincing for Lund's husband, but she had a vision and knew the potential of their new home: "I wanted an open space for entertaining," she says. "I also knew I wanted to keep the color scheme classic black and white—mainly inspired from my time living in New York."
They found the perfect match in Costa. "She understands my style so well and helped me execute my vision perfectly while keeping with the original character and charm of the home. She really made the entire process so stress-free."
Naturally, a lifestyle blogger needs adequate entertaining space, and the kitchen and dining room in the original house simply didn't work. "Aesthetically, my main goal was to brighten the space," says Lund. "We wanted the downstairs to feel inviting and open. I love entertaining and wanted to create a happy space for friends and family to feel welcomed."
"We opened up the wall dividing the dining room and kitchen—reconfiguring everything to make it one large eat-in space," she explains. "A game changer in this room was increasing the island size and window size, which lets in so much more natural light. The large island with stools is great for more casual hanging around, while the dining table gives us a place for sit-down meals."
Lund also had a clear vision on the finishes of her kitchen: "I had just gotten back from a trip to New York when I made our tile and hardware decisions, and I went with classic white subway tile in the kitchen," she says.
The kitchen renovation wasn't without issues: "Since it's an older home, we ran into electrical and plumbing issues that we hadn't originally factored into our budget," she explains. "This, of course, set us behind schedule as well, but I guess that's par for the course when it comes to renovations."
To complete her entertainer's dream, Lund added a wet bar next to the kitchen: "We turned a desk area in the back of the kitchen into a dramatic bar," she says. "This functions as the coffee bar in the morning and cocktail hour in the evening." To keep the aesthetic in line with the kitchen, she kept the scheme black and white, but selected brass hardware and a mirrored backsplash to add dramatic flair.
The space that once served as a formal dining room became Lund's office: "We're not formal people, so we wanted to make this room more functional for us," she says. "Since I work from home, we decided to make this room dual-purpose—a den and an office." To achieve this, they opened the wall in her office to flow into the main family room. "This isn't something I would have thought to do on my own, but thanks to Deborah, it now gives an open flow to the entire downstairs, bringing in more light to both rooms."
The downstairs powder room also got a much-needed face-lift, and was accented with a Moroccan flair. "To make the room feel larger, we layered the decorative mirror I had chosen on top of another mirror," says Lund. "This made such a difference!"
The room that originally sold the couple on the house was the family room. "It has amazing light," says Lund. "The challenge for this room was just figuring out the furniture arrangement, as the room is long yet narrow." They opted to have a three-seater sofa face the fireplace and set up other conversational areas around the room.
One of the blogger's biggest challenges: filling out the bookcases that flank her fireplace. "This took me months of raiding my grandparents' garages and vintage shops," she jokes. "I'm convinced shelfie styling is its own unique talent of which I do not have."
We beg to differ after seeing her expertly styled shelves. "We were fortunate to inherit some amazing family heirlooms from both sets of grandparents! I love the eclectic feel they've added to our home, and ultimately the stories and memories that they tell," she says.
"The back nook used to be filled with more bookshelves, which we decided to remove to give a few extra feet to the space," says Lund. "The wicker chairs really make the space, adding that bohemian California touch that I love so much." The area can now be used as a breakfast area or a place for winding down at night.
"I think the light fixtures really make it much more interesting," she says." I love that all of the lights are unique, yet they complement each other as you move room to room. We have most of them on dimmers so I can really set the vibe in the evenings and when entertaining."
The couple is currently wrapping up the home's upstairs remodel, and they're already getting a taste for living large. With plenty of room to entertain and space to wind down, we can't imagine they'll be moving back to the city anytime soon.