ALL THE REASONS TO STAY

by ANGELA CARAWAY-CARLTON / photography by MATTHEW NIEMANN PHOTOGRAPHY

Extensive renovations were made in the kitchen, which also earned the design award “Best Kitchen Over $50,000” at the ASID Legacy of Design Awards, Texas Chapter. The custom stainless hood with antiqued gold strapping is the focal point of the room. A Bianco Caraibi marble backsplash adds a bold touch.

LIKE A SCENARIO THAT YOU’VE probably seen on an episode of the hit TV series “Love It or List It” on HGTV, a San Antonio couple couldn’t decide if they wanted to remodel their existing home in the Fossil Creek neighborhood, where they’ve lived for 18 years, or build a new one. Ultimately, after looking at new homes, many too cookie-cutter for their taste, they decided to “love” their 5,000-square-foot home. One year after an initial call, they committed to an extensive remodel with the husband-wife dream team of Haven Design and Construction: Jana Valdez has a know-how for creative interior design, and her husband, Armando, is an experienced contractor.

The home’s living room/family room earned the top residential design award for “Best in Show” at the ASID Legacy of Design Awards, Texas Chapter. The marble backsplash from the kitchen is anchored here with a modern fireplace. Once a small space, the room has been reimagined to create a larger space where the expanding family can gather.

“Clients love that we provide everything from the initial architectural drawings to the design and the construction, along with the home’s furniture and detailing,” says Jana Valdez, co-owner and principal interior designer. “For this home, we did all of the design, remodeling, and furnished it with drapery, furniture, artwork and more.” The couple not only took the older house from drab to fab in 10 months—thanks to a neutral contemporary palette, sparkling chandeliers, sleek black doors throughout and timeless touches of brass—but captured awards for its design. “Usually, I have a favorite room in a home,” says Valdez, “but with this project, I can’t pick a favorite.”

The homeowner wanted the breakfast nook area to feel like a hotel. Metallic wallpaper and a sputnik chandelier made of Lucite and antiqued gold help accomplish that.

Into the Closet

Ironically, the entire remodel centered around something most visitors never see: a tiny master closet. When the home was constructed 18 years ago, the foundation was mistakenly extended over the property line, forcing them to shave off five feet from the closet. The homeowners challenged Valdez with the task of transforming it into their dream closet, while creating a more functional master bath. “This was very daunting because the only way to make the master closet larger was to take space from the master bath,” explains Valdez. “We had to move the master toilet room, which shared a wall with the closet, 14 feet away to the opposite side of the bathroom. When we moved the toilet, it took two men eight days of digging to locate the home’s plumbing sewer main. So, it was a true labor of love.” Now, the his-and-her closet looks like something you’d find in a swanky boutique, with custom cabinetry that features plenty of drawers for clothes and jewelry, shelves for displaying designer shoes and handbags, along with a rolling ladder for hard-to-reach shelves and pull-down closet rods for easy accessibility. “For years, the wife had stashed her purses and shoes in the garage because she didn’t have enough room in the closet,” says Valdez. “This is a dream for her. It’s her favorite room in the house.”

The family has two dogs, and the wife fosters rescue dogs, so a dog shower was a must on the renovation list for the laundry room. A window was added for light, and a closet was torn out to make space for a custom drying cabinet. There’s also a deep laundry soaking sink and an epic dog shower with a quartz material curb and tile backsplash.

The master bathroom is just as dreamy, even scooping up an award for “Best Bathroom Over $50,000” in the ASID Legacy of Design Awards for eye-catching details like the brass hexagons of the Akdo “Ethereal Stella” Calacatta tile that cloaks the wall behind the oval soaking tub, and a shower wall swathed in quartz countertop material. For the team, the most challenging part would be getting the showpiece of the bathroom, the Corbett Dolce chandelier in aged brass and shell, into the 22-foot-tall cupola, which meant renting a chandelier lift. “That chandelier was a lot of work. It was raining, and it took us an entire day to drive that chandelier around the outside of the house for installation,” says Valdez, adding that all the work made winning the design award even sweeter. Always one to tie in standout features to make a room flow better, Valdez enveloped the wall behind the bed in the master bedroom with Seabrook wallpaper that mimics the geometric design of the bathroom tile, along with another sparkling chandelier from Corbett.

The master bedroom features Seabrook wallpaper that mimics the geometric design of the bathroom tile, along with another sparkling chandelier.

Award-Winning Spaces

Extensive renovations were also made in the home’s living room and kitchen, which also earned the top residential design award for “Best in Show” at the ASID Legacy of Design Awards, Texas Chapter, and the award for “Best Kitchen Over $50,000.”

“The house creates a horseshoe shape around the pool, so it left us with some funky angles to work with in the kitchen,” explains Valdez, who created a better layout and made the custom stainless hood with antiqued gold strapping the focal point of the room. “We have a thing for amazing range hoods.” Custom cabinets in two colors, Sherwin-Williams “Snowbound” and Benjamin Moore “Gunmetal,” and pulls in lacquered, burnished brass, add interest to the room. A Bianco Caraibi marble backsplash offers a bold touch, and Valdez spent a month finding just the right countertops to match in Shadow Storm quartzite; the countertops are surrounded by white and gold Ace counter stools from Vanguard.

The remodel centered around the master closet, as the homeowners wanted to create a dream closet while creating a more functional master bath. To build the closet, space was taken from the master bath. The closet features custom cabinetry and a rolling ladder for hard-to-reach shelves, as well as pulldown closet rods for easy accessibility.

With the kitchen opening into the living room, Valdez anchored that same stunning marble backsplash in the living room for a seamless flow, along with a modern fireplace. “The living room was extremely small before. It was painted brown, including the ceiling, with a fireplace
in the corner,” explains Valdez, who removed the original fireplace and reclaimed that corner of the room from the exterior porch to create a larger, rectangular living room. “I wanted to create a space where everyone could gather. They’re recent empty nesters with an expanding family, and they love to entertain.” A small pair of French doors in the living room were swapped for sliding glass doors that open to the pool-patio area.

The study also underwent a transformation. The homeowner wanted a feminine touch to the room, which was never used in the past. The heavy oak furniture and carpet were replaced with an Isabelle desk from Chaddock and ornate Cabot chairs by Bernhardt. The chairs’ metallic accents subtly pick up the shimmery York wallpaper with its delicate floral print that lines the custom wooden bookcases painted in Benjamin Moore’s “Chelsea Gray.”

The wife also wanted to feel like she was in a hotel, so Valdez added touches of glamour to the adjoining breakfast nook, with metallic wallpaper from Thibaut and a dazzling sputnik chandelier made of Lucite and antiqued gold from Aidan Gray. “I saw the chandelier at market, and it was just stunning. It took seven months to arrive, but the grand unveiling was worth it,” Valdez says.

The dining room is formal yet inviting for large gatherings. Here, two chandeliers from Hudson Valley Lighting take center stage alongside an Alex Turco custom art panel.

This Will Make You Want to Do Laundry

To Valdez’s surprise, another room in the home that unexpectedly garnered a lot of attention on the team’s social media account was the laundry room. The family has two dogs, and the wife lovingly fosters rescue dogs, so a dog shower was a “must” on her renovation list. Valdez transformed the once small, cave-like room into a bright destination, by adding a window to allow light to pour in and taking out a closet to make space for a custom drying cabinet. There’s also a deep laundry soaking sink and an epic dog shower with a quartz material curb and tile backsplash.

The master bath earned an award for “Best Bathroom Over $50,000” in the ASID Legacy of Design Awards for eye-catching details, including the brass hexagons of the Akdo Ethereal Stella Calacatta marble tile, which cloaks the wall behind the oval soaking tub, and a shower wall swathed in quartz and tiles.

For the team, the most challenging part was getting the showpiece of the bathroom, the Corbett Dolce chandelier in aged brass and shell, into the 22-foot-tall cupola, which meant renting a chandelier lift.

Another transformation took place in the study, where the owner asked for a feminine touch to the room, which was never used in the past. Valdez removed the heavy oak furniture and carpet that dated the room and created a relaxing respite with an Isabelle desk from Chaddock and ornate Cabot chairs by Bernhardt. The chairs’ metallic accents subtly pick up the shimmery York wallpaper with its delicate floral print that lines the custom wooden bookcases painted in Benjamin Moore’s “Chelsea Gray.” Now, it’s a place where the homeowner sips coffee in the mornings or gets some work done on her laptop. “A few days after living there, the homeowner texted me and said, ‘I keep walking through the home, and I can’t believe it’s mine,’” says Valdez. “That was so special to me because that’s why I do it, to improve the lives of my clients.” Ultimately, they created a home that the owners will never want to leave.
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Angela Caraway-Carlton is a Miami-based freelance writer, travel and lifestyle expert, and television producer. Her works have appeared in Indulge Magazine, Time Out, Elysian, Aventura, South Florida Luxury Guide and Modern Luxury Weddings South Florida & the Caribbean. Caraway-Carlton has covered lifestyle trends in South Florida and beyond for more than a decade.