Sunset Makeover: An Editor-in-Chief’s Remodel

June 9, 2016 | By | Comments (2)

A before shot of what will eventually be my master bedroom and dressing room. (Lynn K. Leonidas)

Four days after my family and I moved to the Bay Area with eight suitcases in tow and no permanent address, my husband went to an estate sale and walked away with our new home. It was one of those mythical real estate fables, except that it actually happened to me.


My family and I, pre-remodel. (Irene Edwards)

Buoyed by our immense stroke of good fortune, we blithely and innocently proceeded headlong into the next stage of the game: a major remodel, a process with which neither of us had had any previous experience. Needless to say, it was an education.


Two of the original chandeliers from the Victorian-era home. (Irene Edwards)

Six months later—behind schedule and over budget—we’re still in the thick of it, and over the next several months I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned. Check back here every Thursday for updates and tips from some of the top experts in the business, who will be adding their thoughts on fixtures, finishes, colors, and a multitude of other topics. Where can you splurge and save in your kitchen? How do you pick the right hardware for your bathroom? Should your ceiling match your wall paint? And how do you create storage in a home with limited closet space? Stay tuned for answers to all these and more.

Ann Sacks Tile

Designer Kelly Wearstler’s drool-worthy tile collection for Ann Sacks —which one will go on my bathroom wall? (Irene Edwards)

But first, a bit of background info on the house. It’s a 2,400-square-foot, 1878 Victorian that was well-loved by the relatively few owners it had had before us. Structurally, it was sound, and other than needing a new roof, the bones seemed good.


The stairway after my husband stripped most of the entry hall wallpaper with a steamer. (Irene Edwards)

The kitchen was small and outdated, the deck and porch stairs were falling down, and one bedroom was covered in ’80s pink tile that took my husband days to break up. But many original details remained: gorgeous moldings and millwork, 11-foot ceilings with medallions, and a staircase with a beautiful sweep to it that I could picture my five-year-old daughter descending one day in her prom dress.

Lynn K. Leonidas

Interior designer Lynn K. Leonidas and a powder room she designed with project partner Andrea Faucett. (L: Colin Price. R: Aubrie Pick)

A remodel is only as good as the team behind it. And we know how lucky we are to have Oakland-based Ethan Andersen—a master at planning spatial flow—as our architect, and the fabulously talented Lynn K. Leonidas as interior designer. You’ll see much more of their work and design advice in the months to come, and Lynn will be guest-posting on Sunset’s Instagram each week during #MakeoverMonday.

Lynn K. Leonidas_Balboa

Another image from Lynn K. Leonidas’s Balboa project in San Francisco, which she designed with Andrea Faucett. (Aubrie Pick)

Follow me on Instagram at @helloireneedwards for more on my remodel, and check back here for updates. You’ll see a sneak peek of it (if construction goes as planned!) in our upcoming September Makeover Issue, as well as a whole-house reveal next year. And cross your fingers for us as we move into one room at the end of the month with four sleeping bags, two mini fridges, a hot plate, and a microwave. If things don’t work out, there’s always camping in a rented Vanagon in the backyard.


  1. Stephanie

    How about posting a picture of the house, day one? You know, at its most tired and needy stage?

    June 16, 2016 at 12:02 pm
  2. Joyce Hermit

    First world problems, LOL. 😉

    June 9, 2016 at 2:09 pm

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