A Big Kalvakota Project Update

A neutral living room with Rifle Paper Co. Wildwood wallpaper and Interior Define sectional | via Yellow Brick Home #YBHxKalvakota
wallpaper | pendant light | sectional | rug

We introduced the Kalvakota Project in September, and it’s taken every bit of these last few months to make a decent dent in the makeover. Between supply chain issues (how tired are we of that phrase, really?!) and sometimes-decision-paralysis, we’re chugging along, slowly but surely. My hope is that you will find this makeover relatable, as none of us are immune to delays, pivots or uncertainty! This project is full of all of those things, and we’re approaching it one step at a time.

If you’re new here or simply catching up, we’re helping our friends Nithin and Rachel transform their first floor from dark + heavy into a space that’s a reflection of who they are – bright and upbeat. #YBHxKalvakota shows some progress updates, and you can see where we started right here!

Let’s take a look back on the list we made at the start of the project, check off what we’ve completed, and dive into the details that are slowly turning this house into a home!


  • Purge, donate and sell underutilized items
  • Remove gloss brown wall cabinets and replace with a nook of cabinetry | IN PROGRESS
  • Count, measure and assess what needs to be stored, and make a list | IN PROGRESS
  • Shop for baskets, bins and dividers and give them purpose | IN PROGRESS

Wall Cabinets | Before

Wall Cabinets | Progress

Two credenzas pushed together to create an L-shape nook with storage | via Yellow Brick Home #YBHxKalvakota

Let’s talk about that L-shaped credenza! We paired two Article Dako sideboards to make an L-shape, instantly creating a nook for their girls to use as an open play area. One of the biggest concerns the Kalvakotas have about their home is how open and cavernous it feels! We’re working to create zones and nooks that offer comfort and function. Our friends at Norman Leigh are currently creating a custom oak top that will connect the L – eek, can’t wait to share with you! – and Rachel and I are working together to gather and contain all the toys that’ll be hidden away inside. We have plans to hide away the tangle of cords (on the left), and we’re also adding a floating shelf above to display family photos.


  • Paint all the walls one color
  • Wallpaper the dining room and entryway
  • Added: Tile a kitchen backsplash

Walls | Before

Walls | Progress

A neutral living room looks into a kitchen and dining area with Rifle Paper Co. Wildwood wallpaper | via Yellow Brick Home #YBHxKalvakota
credenza | pendant light

Paint and wallpaper changed ev-er-y-thing! The walls are Sherwin Williams Greek Villa, which is a creamy white with a yellow undertone, and it works so beautifully with the light they receive (mostly eastern exposure). The wallpaper is Rifle Paper Co. in Wildwood, and we tucked it in the dining room (back of the house) and entryway (front of the house) for a touch of symmetry. I’m itching to hang art, but we’re currently in the gather and frame phase.

Kitchen | Before

Kitchen | Progress

White and dark kitchen with slate blue subway tile from The Tile Shop | via Yellow Brick Home #YBHxKalvakota
White and dark kitchen with slate blue subway tile from The Tile Shop | via Yellow Brick Home #YBHxKalvakota

Initially we were going to leave the kitchen alone, but I couldn’t shake the idea of a tile border around the perimeter. We gave into the whim, and I am SO GLAD we did! This portion of the project was sponsored by our friends at The Tile Shop, and after picking up a couple dozen samples from our local store, we all landed on this slate blue subway tile! It adds the prettiest pop and ties into the nearby wallpaper – without feeling overly matchy-matchy. To top if off, we used the matching square pencil, and the warm-grey grout is London Fog.

White and dark kitchen with slate blue subway tile from The Tile Shop | via Yellow Brick Home #YBHxKalvakota
tile + square pencil | soap pumps

We also put systems in place, from our favorite dish drying rack (it’s not just for bottles!), a sink caddy, and a duo of pumps for both hands and dishes. I will never tire of amber glass bottles with embossed labels. Never, ever.

Lighting + Electrical

  • Swap every last light switch to a dimmer | IN PROGRESS / BACKORDER
  • Swap all bulbs for warm LED bulbs (2700-3000K for calm, welcoming light)
  • Add lamps to tabletops and floor lamps to dim corners | IN PROGRESS
  • Replace the 3 main fixtures with large pendants (living room, kitchen island and dining)

Lighting | Before

Lighting | Progress

Mid century modern dining room set with a traditional touch | via Yellow Brick Home #YBHxKalvakota
linear chandelier | washable rug

Proof that lighting matters. A simple fixture has the power to elevate a space or fade into the background, depending on your end goal. And the proper bulb temperature can make a room feel cozy and inviting – just as the wrong bulb temperature can make you feel irritable and cold. We had the Kalvakotas swap out every last recess light for retrofit lighting in a warmer temperature (the exact ones we used are sold out, but these are identical!), with a temperature of 3000K. We’re also upgrading every switch to a Legrand dimmers and plates from the Adorne collection as part of a campaign, but some of the wall plates have fallen into backorder. It’s going to feel like such a treat when they arrive, and we can check it off our list!

Furniture + Accessories

  • Order a modular sectional to invite more comfortable seating
  • Replace coffee table with a trio of storage ottomans that double as a place to set a drink + snacks | IN PROGRESS
  • Add large area rugs to define the different zones within this one large room | IN PROGRESS
  • Add greenery, textiles and artwork | IN PROGRESS

Furniture | Before

Furniture | Progress

A neutral living room with Rifle Paper Co. Wildwood wallpaper and Interior Define sectional | via Yellow Brick Home #YBHxKalvakota
wallpaper | pendant light | sectional | rug

Nithin and Rachel have been using the same furniture from their single life, hodge podged together in a way that they could only describe as making them ‘grumpy,’ haha. I feel you!, I said. The IKEA sofa was replaced with this beautiful modular sofa in Fawn velvet, and we nixed the shag rug in favor of this larger wool + jute Loloi rug. I’m still hunting for some storage ottomans to double as coffee tables, and Norman Leigh will be adding a custom console (like ours!) behind the right side of the sectional which will solve three problems: 1) It will bump the sectional towards the left about an extra foot, 2) it’ll act as storage for their record collection, and 3) it’ll give them a place to set down a drink or snack.

Helping our friends turn their first floor into a dream space has honestly been so, so good for my soul. Not only do we get to spend more time with them, it’s been a joy to see them fall in love with their home again. Their current homework is to go through family photos and artwork that we can frame and hang, and there is no shortage to choose from – more on that as the updates roll out!

PS: Here are a few other makeovers for friends, if you’d like to see! Family room | kids room | small den | rental living room | vintage bathroom charm | rooftop pergola

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  • Guylaine12.14.21 - 6:43 AM

    It’s looking great!  (the blue tile is my favourite) and it’s so refreshing to see that these things take time….ReplyCancel

  • Is12.14.21 - 7:20 AM

    Thank you so much for featuring work in progress photos (of a real home with kids!)
    Seeing how changes are coming together is really interesting and instructive. ReplyCancel

    • meredith12.14.21 - 1:33 PM

      My thoughts exactly :)ReplyCancel

  • Christa12.14.21 - 8:48 AM

    So clever and tasteful! I am wondering if you have a plan for the range hood. ReplyCancel

  • Kelly12.14.21 - 9:27 AM

    I love seeing the incremental progress. It makes it seem so much more doable and less intimidating.  Thanks for sharing! ReplyCancel

  • Emily12.14.21 - 9:36 AM

    Any chance you have a source for the small plate/tray beneath the kitchen soap dispensers? I’m a sucker for a good tray and that one looks like it fits those perfectly.
    Fun that you can help out your friends! This room is already looking much warmer and more cohesive.ReplyCancel

  • Samantha12.14.21 - 10:23 AM

    This looks wonderful!
    I can’t shake the idea of custom credenza-to-ceiling shelves separating the kitchen from the living room. Have you considered it?ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.14.21 - 10:51 AM

      Ooh, that could be so pretty and unique! I think that their lifestyle would be better suited with less to dust and maintain, but I do LOVE that idea!ReplyCancel

  • Claire12.14.21 - 11:10 AM

    This all looks so great! Thanks for sharing! I am amazed at how much changing the paint color did for the whole space! It makes it feel so much more inviting!ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.14.21 - 11:55 AM

      I immediately saw their whole mood just LIFT.ReplyCancel

  • Victoria Monson12.14.21 - 1:02 PM

    I woke up thinking about this project yesterday! So excited for this updated! It Looks so great!ReplyCancel

  • Megan P12.14.21 - 2:05 PM

    Looking so good! I really love this real-life example of refreshing a space. Sometimes it’s not always a huge overhaul, but thoughtful decisions over time! I would love to know more about the decision paralysis part, which decisions were they (or you) agonizing over? Why did you choose the one you did etc. Can’t wait to see the next update! ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.15.21 - 11:18 AM

      Hi Megan! Happy to answer – some of the decisions include which type of coffee table (do we want storage? is storage necessary? will it hold up to the kids? will they play in the nook more anyway?) or which material to use for the credenza (oak would match, stone would be beautiful! but stone is more expensive and longer lead times). Overall, they’re a really trusting bunch and are happy for me to make most of the decisions, haha, but I want to ensure that they love every choice, every step of the way.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica12.14.21 - 3:07 PM

    Loving the color of the tile so much!! ReplyCancel

  • Sarah12.14.21 - 3:43 PM

    The space looks beautiful! And like other commenters have said, the hiccups are very relatable.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Reeves12.15.21 - 5:12 AM

    Can you tell me about the window covering over the sink? I’m looking for something similar in my Az breakfast room that can withstand the blazing sun here and look clean and stylish.ReplyCancel

    • Scott12.15.21 - 8:59 AM

      Hi Cathy! It’s a simple solar roller shade. We love and recommend Bali Blinds for all types of rollers!ReplyCancel

  • Alli12.15.21 - 12:08 PM

    It’s gorgeous and I love love love following along in real time! ReplyCancel

    • Scott12.16.21 - 11:51 AM

      Thanks! We’re having a blast lending a hand. It just means that we get to hang out basically all of the time.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay12.15.21 - 12:12 PM

    What a special way to honor your friendship! It looks absolutely beautiful. ReplyCancel

  • Pakster12.17.21 - 1:52 PM

    I love this project.  Back in the day there was a magazine article that had photos showing each change in a small living room: every addition, paint color, rearrangement. It was so helpful to my twenty-something self.  I could see the impact that simply switching out a table made to the progression of the design.  This reminds me so much of that. ReplyCancel


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