BETTER SPACE TO LIVE
by Zoey Anderson
“We layered natural textures with subtle color so that our space was compatible with the natural landscape & didn’t compete with the views.”
–Rachelle Johnson, Principal Interior Designer, Johnson Design Group
“Why isn’t my house selling?” is not a question anyone wants to ask. Luckily, Rachelle Johnson, principal interior designer at Johnson Design Group, can answer that question. This exact scenario occurred recently when a homeowner asked JDG for a renovation consultation to assess why his home had not sold after being listed for several months. Johnson instantly noticed that the house had a ton of potential but hadn’t been updated. The last renovation dated the house and had covered up all of the home’s mid-century character.
Johnson’s ability to pinpoint the problem is a result of having nearly 30 years of education, construction knowledge, and design-build experience in interior design and space planning. JDG combines the love of architectural detailing and the love of working with people to create award-winning design. The Salt Lake City-based firm has been featured on HGTV and has won Best of Show and Best Architectural Detail in numerous Salt Lake Parade of Homes and St. George Parade of Homes.
In pursuit of a better space to live, JDG gathers impressions at an initial walk-through. The home’s character, its views, and its flow reveal themselves as options for renovations. JDG’s goal is to tap into the inherent potential in a home and reprioritize space for better efficiency. Lighting, continuing education on materials, manufacturing, and market trends help inform JDG’s renovations.
“The way you live in your home every day changes after a renovation,” explains Johnson. “It’s akin to how you feel when you’re traveling and you stay in a beautiful resort or a well-done Airbnb space. It gives you a different perspective that ties into self-care. You learn to treat yourself better and you want a better space for your family to live.”
As their design process progresses, JDG sculpts positive environments that set the stage for experiences that are truly personal. JDG’s work is so transformational that clients have decided to make their renovated houses their forever homes.
MAKING IT YOUR FOREVER HOME
One such life-changing renovation started with a walk-through of the original space that was dark and segmented. It didn’t flow from one area to the next, and it didn’t work for contemporary entertaining. JDG recommended new windows to take advantage of the views. They hired a structural engineer to calculate taking out walls and moving exterior windows and large door openings to better capture the light, and they redesigned the kitchen to be a place where people could gather.
The client loved being active outdoors, so JDG played with the indoor/outdoor flow, adding an oversized sliding door from the kitchen out to a spacious deck with views. “We wanted to keep our materials neutral so that the focus remained on the windows and the beautiful views,” explains Johnson. “We layered natural textures with subtle color so that our space was compatible with the natural landscape and didn’t compete with the views.”
In addition to increasing the value of the home with tangible improvements, JDG’s renovation left a lasting impression on the homeowner. What started off as just a kitchen renovation expanded throughout the main floor, as well as to a full exterior update and landscaping. The client loves JDG’s work so much and is grateful to have this as their forever home.
Lighting can be very instrumental in creating maximum impact without major structural changes. It is functional, fairly budget-friendly, and can also be adapted to meet a client’s stylistic preferences. It also can be linked to automated systems and used for security.
BEFORE PHOTOS FROM THE FEATURED SACKETT HOUSE REMODEL
“There are so many possibilities when using light in our design palette,” says Johnson. “By creating positive and negative space through shadows and highlights, we create different zones and moods. I love bringing in detail through texture and light because it feels natural and timeless.”
Johnson’s love for renovation can be traced back to her childhood. At age six, she remembers her parents working on real estate projects. She remembers doing demo with her dad, and, in middle school, she was first exposed to space planning when her mom hired a professional interior designer to help with their family home. “I became acquainted with a different perspective and saw the fine-tuning and level of detail that a quality designer/space planner brought to our lifestyle. The way our life was changed and elevated by this process was profoundly moving and exciting to me as a young person. I realized the impact that our space and environment have on our quality of life.” Johnson studied psychology, business, and interior design at Utah State and went on to gain hands-on experience learning the ins and outs of the construction process, materials, space planning, and job costing to gain fluency in development, renovation, and interior design.
CONSTANT PURSUIT OF EDUCATION
JDG also brings its pursuit of knowledge and new applications for materials to any renovation project. Johnson continues to educate herself on current trends and products. She attends furniture and builders markets every year, and sometimes brings clients with her so they are involved in the process.
Travel is also one of JDG’s sources of inspiration and education. Johnson explains, “Travel reveals new stories that natural elements and textures can tell in combinations that we don’t necessarily see in our daily lives. That exposure translates to a new selection of materials and different compositions. I don’t inflict my design on my clients; I always look at the existing architecture and meld it with my client’s personality and lifestyle. Travel and exposure provides a lens that helps me translate that into spaces that feel right for them.”
Being up to date with the best practices in the industry does not mean that JDG only creates trendy spaces. Instead, sustainability is a key factor in JDG’s approach. Johnson says, “We try to integrate sustainable materials and work with manufacturers who are efficient and use their resources wisely. When we can use smart materials, it’s not so hard on our planet and we don’t have to spend a lot environmentally to create great design. It’s something very important to JDG.”
By creating positive and negative space through shadows and highlights, we create different zones and moods. I love bringing in detail through texture and light because it feels natural and timeless.”
–Rachelle Johnson, Principal Interior Designer, Johnson Design Group
DESIGN FOR WELL-BEING
In the age of COVID-19, comfort, quality, and health at home are more important than ever. Our houses must feel nurturing and supportive since we spend so much time in them.
“Our homes should make us feel comfortable and be places we want to spend time with our families,” says Johnson. “With fresh air, airflow, and the relationship between inside/outside living being priorities now, many of my current projects incorporate large openings that extend into outdoor living spaces of decks or patio garden areas.”
Oversized bi-fold doors, sliding doors, and window walls are some of the ways JDG blends the inside with the outside. Johnson mentions a current project that is integrating the top of the garage as an outdoor living space. JDG opened up a large walk-out area with views in the front of the house. The finished renovation will expand the main floor, taking advantage of the views and capitalizing on outdoor space.
Johnson says, “I want to help my clients and their families have better lives in their homes. I harness the potential of what I see the home can be, the energy of the space, and how the client lives, to create a positive transformation. It might feel daring at first, but every time we do a complete design renovation our clients come back and affirm that we made the right decision.”
Trusting JDG’s expertise is the difference between a quick makeover and living in an ongoing incredible experience. It can be truly life-changing.