For designer Velinda Hellen, a home renovation in East Los Angeles turned out to be quite the serendipitous job.  She met the clients, Meredith and Olly, both chefs, while she was in design school and later reconnected with them when they planned to redo their home.

“I was working for Emily Henderson at the time, and when she was looking to move to Portland, it was a good time to go off on my own,” Hellen says. “They were my first freelance design clients.”

Living room pre-renovation

Living room under construction

For the couple’s living room, which they requested a Scandinavian minimalism-meets farmhouse aesthetic, the goal was to weave in adult sophistication, while hiding their child’s bright toys. “They had a small space and wanted both closed and open storage,” she says. 

The solution: a built-in media center utilizing Ikea Besta Units and Semihandmade DIY Slab Fronts. “The slab fronts elevate it,” Hellen says. “It’s so subtle but you wouldn’t think it’s from Ikea.” Custom paint and lighting from both Build.com and vintage sconces off Etsy complete the high-end look on a budget.

“We used three doors, all the same size, but ended up making the far right one a drawer,” she says. Because of the sofa placement, a super cozy Sixpenny Neva, she wanted toys, books, and games to be accessible without having to use a hinged door. 

For the rest of the room, Hellen installed shiplap for a farmhouse nod, added a second window with top-down, bottom-up shades to conceal the view of the neighbors and vaulted the ceiling. Overall, the space is layered, clean and intentional with a Jean Palmer Home vintage rug, plus three coffee tables.

White Scandinavian style living room

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Renovation

We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.
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