Summer is in full swing, which means your seasonal to-do list may be a mile long. This issue of Good to Be Home is here to help you dwindle it down with inspiration for your next home improvement projects and guides to ensure you have a successful move.
When overhauling a midcentury modern home in California, designer Gianpiero Gaglione worked to stay true to the character of the house, bringing together modern and antique pieces for a cohesive, welcoming feel. You're not going to want to miss the closer look at his process in the enclosed article.
If your current home feels like it no longer works for you and your lifestyle, you may be debating if it’s time to move or renovate. There are many pros and cons to either depending on your specific needs and budget. Before you decide, be sure to read the article in this issue to help you determine which option is right for you.
Twenty-five-year-old designer Emily Rayna began posting videos of her home improvement projects on TikTok during the pandemic. Since then, she’s found success sharing her content with millions of followers. Get a behind-the-scenes look at her journey and find out more about her current whole-home renovation.
When you sell a home, it’s important to highlight the best features of each space so they appeal more to potential buyers. However, this staging process can often cost a pretty penny. This issue includes money-saving tips that can help you get your home ready for the market without breaking the bank.
Here’s hoping you have a successful rest of summer! As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
Gianpiero Gaglione of GG Interior Design shares how he redesigned Rosilla Place, a midcentury modern home in Laurel Canyon, California. Gaglione took care to stay true to his clients’ love of antique, inherited objects while also ensuring that the results felt modern, fresh, and ready for entertaining.
What is your background in design?
I’ve been designing for about twenty years. I initially worked for a lighting company and then a furniture company back in the UK designing different ranges of products for clients, which taught me to apply myself stylistically to a variety of tastes. I’ve also worked as a designer in New York, Mumbai, and Singapore.
Most of my projects have been for hospitality clients, but once I moved to Los Angeles, I started freelancing for friends who work in interior design. Now almost all my work is residential. One of my oldest, closest friends got me involved in the Rosilla project. They introduced me to the homeowners, Nicholas and Caroline, a film producer and podcasting agent, respectively, who wanted to redesign their first home together. They’d recently purchased a 1950s post-and-beam that a previous owner had remodeled. It was very out of step with what they—and the house itself—wanted to be.
What were their overall design preferences?
They wanted their house to feel more personal—more like a home. It already had really good bones: the ceiling was timber, and the central fireplace was stunning. But there were a lot of different items from different places, so it was missing a sense of cohesion to pull everything together.
How did you get to know the clients’ tastes?
I like to spend a couple of hours with someone and just chat with them. Where do they like to go? What do they like to do? Through these conversations, I learned that the homeowners love hosting and appreciate antiques.
Another good way to get to know a client’s design tastes is to look inside their wardrobe and learn about colors or patterns they like, what they’re comfortable with, and what they enjoy. I could see in my clients’ clothing, and their art, that they had a really eclectic, bohemian sensibility.
How did you approach this project’s design?
Left to their own devices, the couple would have imbued mostly traditional and inherited items. It’s easy to put antiques in an older home, but this midcentury one was less suited to that. A complex scheme helps make a home feel lived-in and comfortable. If everything is from the same store or era, a space can feel untouchable, almost like it doesn’t really belong to anyone. So it’s important to blend different styles, though balance is necessary.
I didn’t want to just dump everything and start over, however. I thought, How do I make sense of all these different items and pull together a story? That was where I started.
What did you do to achieve a cohesive style?
There were plasticky and metal materials that just didn’t make sense or weren’t welcoming—a chrome table, for example. We replaced them with items made with natural materials, such as barstools with embroidered fabric. All the materials in the house now are honed or worn for a soft, character-filled look. In the main living space, we reupholstered the two-piece seating with a new fabric that worked nicely. The room also has custom wooden cabinets for housing the TV and other storage and a beautiful rattan door lining for both ventilation and style.
The couple loves old-fashioned materials like wallpaper, so I gave them a few touches of older style here and there. For example, the smaller bathroom has a very intense English William Morris wallpaper balanced with dark, burgundy features like the windows and trim.
Because good lighting is incredibly important, we also added features, such as picture lights and flush-mount lamps, throughout the home that are incredibly modern and warm. At night, the lighting makes this one of my favorite projects I’ve ever done.
What structural changes did you make to the home?
We installed new brickwork and floor tiles in the kitchen and improved the layout, which was initially so cramped, all while keeping a vintage, homey look. It’s more of an entertaining-ready kitchen now.
The main bathroom used to be incredibly dull—it had no door, little storage, and a weird layout that made poor use of space. I added a bay window, placed a bathtub there, and enclosed the doorway, all of which made room for a double vanity and created more privacy. This was the most major renovation.
How would you describe the resulting design?
I describe this home as a midcentury tree house. There’s a lot of wood and warm color, so we embraced that and added even more wood—replacing vinyl windows and baseboards, for example. It’s welcoming, balanced, and inviting overall.
I try to ensure that my personal design style isn’t so cut-and-dried that people see a room and think, “Gian did that.” I don’t think it helps the homeowner when the designer is imbued into the project. My goal is ultimately to give someone what they really want but can’t put together themselves.
What design advice could anyone take from this project?
I’ve had clients whose homes just don’t represent who they are or how they want to present themselves. I view an interior as an expression of yourself. If your home isn’t you, then it doesn’t suit you and it won’t comfort you. Partners should come together to decide on what they enjoy so the resulting space feels balanced and responds to both of them. When I design for couples or families, I work to bridge a balance between each of the different residents.
I don’t think anyone should have things that are meaningless to them simply because other people have them. Everything in my home functions for me. If you want to surround yourself with Star Wars stuff, then go ahead! You just need a good design eye. I could make that look amazing.
For more info, visit gg-id.com
As much as you may love your house at move-in, the reality is that it won’t stay perfect forever. But deciding whether to renovate or move to a new home is not always straightforward, especially because of the emotional component. After all, it’s not easy to uproot your family from where close relationships with your neighbors and community have been forged or where family members are just a stone’s throw away.
So whether you want something more comfortable and livable or you need more space to accommodate an older parent moving in, you’ll need to determine what your long-term goals are and what your budget can support. Use the following tips to help you weigh all the factors associated with renovating and moving and, ultimately, make the best choice for you and your family.
If you’re considering a move, you’ll need to research whether home values are increasing or decreasing in both your current area and any areas you’re interested in relocating to. Knowing this information can help you decide what you can feasibly afford and whether it’s more cost-effective to renovate or sell. A real estate agent is a great resource to help you get the answers to these questions.
Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, but your decision will ultimately come down to your specific needs, finances, and desired lifestyle.
Renovating is a great option if it will allow you to reasonably accomplish your goals. Whether you want to add an extra bedroom or office to increase your home’s square footage, extend the size of your kitchen, or reconfigure the layout to create a more open floor plan, this may be the best way to get precisely what you want. Some of these projects can, of course, get a little pricey, but if you’re committed to staying in your home for the long term, it might very well be worth it for you to renovate.
There are several reasons why relocation may be a better option for you. For example, perhaps you want to increase the size of your current home but are unable to because of property-line limitations. The expected return on investment (ROI) of a renovation project may also not be as great as you initially thought, or your list of desired changes may cost more than buying a new home. Or maybe you simply want a bigger house with modern amenities situated on a larger plot of land. Whatever your motivation, moving can often be a simpler and more effective way to achieve your goals.
Both moving and relocating can be huge expenses, so you’ll need to look into all of the costs associated with each to determine which works best for your budget.
Because the price tag of a renovation hinges on the size of the project, it’s important to consider the scope of work you want to have done. For example, do you want to remodel your home fully or just do a handful of minor repairs? Once you have your vision in mind, seek recommendations from friends or family for a top-notch general contractor who can help you determine if the renovation is affordable and cost-effective and whether you want to, or can, do any of it yourself to lower costs. But even if you can save on labor, you’ll still need to account for the cost of materials and equipment, such as lumber, roofing materials, paint, concrete, insulation, or machine rentals, that you or the contractor will need to complete the renovation.
On top of the cost of purchasing your new home, you’ll have to factor in the price of moving, whether you’re tackling it yourself or hiring a moving company. This expense will depend on factors like the distance of your move, the size of your home (a two-bedroom will cost a fraction of a four-to-five-bedroom home to move), the weight of your belongings, and any specialized crates needed for artwork or other fragile items. And, of course, don’t forget about travel expenses to your new location.
In addition to the typical costs of renovating, there are ancillary costs that may pop up.
Permits and architectural plans
Depending on the type of renovation, you may need to hire an architect to plan the design. Also, any excavation, plumbing, electrical work, or structural alterations you want to make to your property will require you to apply and pay for the necessary permits through your local building and construction department.
If your renovation is extensive, you may be displaced for some time; therefore, you’d need to find temporary housing while the work is being completed. While this situation may be unlikely, factoring it into your total costs will prevent it from becoming an unexpected expense.
There are plenty of reasons to renovate or relocate, including wanting a larger space or more modern amenities or being interested in a more prestigious neighborhood. Each option is likely to be quite expensive, so it’s essential to take the time to evaluate not only the financial aspect but also the lifestyle you desire and the social and emotional impact either decision will have on your family.
Twenty-five-year-old designer Emily Rayna first started posting her projects on TikTok in 2020. Since then, she’s found immense success sharing videos of her colorful and unique home renovations with her millions of followers.
Tell us about yourself and your background:
I was born in Florida but grew up in New Hampshire, which is where I live today. I attended Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, and graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in interior architecture. As a result of the pandemic, school abruptly came to a halt without any closure or graduation ceremony, and I lost my dream job at an architecture firm. All the chaos left me in a negative place mentally, so I needed an outlet for my creativity. That’s where TikTok came in.
You started posting TikToks of your parents’ home renovation during the pandemic. What made you decide to work on their house?
After college, I moved back in with my parents. One day, my dad asked me to paint the ceilings. This gave me the idea to renovate their house entirely—I was desperate for a creative project. So I asked my parents for their permission. They were hesitant because we had no money, but I assured them I would try my best to keep costs as low as possible by selling items, thrifting, and upcycling. Ultimately, they trusted me to do it; they even stayed with family during the monthlong renovation so it could be a surprise.
I decided to post clips of my journey on TikTok, mostly as a means of self-accountability but also to meet new online friends. I didn’t anticipate that I’d gain 100,000 followers overnight or three million within a month, and I never could have imagined that it would snowball into a life path for me.
How would you describe your design style? How has it changed over the years?
I’d say it’s unexpected and inviting. I take a lot of influence from midcentury modern, postmodern, and industrial design styles. My ultimate goal is to create my own style, separate from all predefined aesthetics, but every day is a learning experience. Over the years, I’ve become a lot more comfortable being experimental and exploring my biggest ideas thanks to my newfound confidence and financial security.
What advice do you have for people who want to renovate a room but maybe don’t yet know their style?
The only thing that matters in the design of a space is how you feel in it. Start with functionality first, making sure you have all the supplies you need to live your life comfortably. From there, you can take inspiration from the clothes you wear, the activities you’re interested in, and your personal mission. If you don’t feel like you fit a mainstream style, that is completely normal. Just pick pieces that personally make you excited, and the rest will follow.
You recently purchased your first home. How did you decide on it?
The actual process of finding and purchasing a house was very chaotic due to the nature of the housing market in late 2021. But I had outgrown my old space and was ready for a change. I was looking for a fixer-upper because I wanted to incorporate the charm and character that type of house often has into my designs; the one I ultimately chose had so many quirks that instantly gave me ideas for how I could bring the space back to life. I fell in love with it during my first visit, and that love has only grown through the renovations I’m doing.
What was the first project you tackled?
I revived some of the wood surfaces that were covered in a thick lacquer by sanding down and refinishing them. It was a messy process, so it had to come first! I love including natural wood in my designs, and my house has a lot of it—it just needed to be uncovered so it could shine.
Do you have an overall vision for your home renovations?
I want my home to be a place that feels warm and inviting. I plan to have my friends and family gather at my home often, which means it needs to easily facilitate guests. But even more than that, I have yet to live in a space that I am fully confident in and proud to show to others, so my goal is to create that sanctuary for myself now that I’m in a position where I can. I’ve surprised so many people with spaces that suit their needs, and I can’t wait to have that same excited feeling myself.
What has been the most exciting part about renovating your home?
I enjoy the freedom that I have. When I was renting, I had to limit my ideas to fit the owner’s guidelines. The main reason I bought a house is so I could fully explore my creativity and see how far I can transform a space not just with decor but also architecturally.
What advice do you have for other young people looking to purchase a home?
Personally, I believe that homes deserve love, so you shouldn’t buy one unless you feel love for it. I love my house so much that it doesn’t feel like a chore to fuss over every detail and nurse it back to health. Homeownership is a massive responsibility, especially if you’re young, and if you’re not in love, it has the potential to drain you both mentally and physically. Motivation is key, and you’ll only have the motivation if you’re passionate about it.
When it comes to selling your home, staging is one of the most important steps you can take. In fact, the more you do, the more likely it is to improve a buyer’s perception of your home and, consequently, your chances of fetching a higher sales price. Aside from the customary staging tasks, such as decluttering and organizing, there are several simple yet cost-effective techniques that can help you sell your home quickly, especially if you’re on a budget and short on time. Use the following staging tips to show off your home’s best features without breaking the bank.
Staging goes beyond decor and layout. It’s also about making your home sparkle—the more it shines, the better it will show and attract buyers. And your only cost is cleaning supplies and time! So use this as an opportunity to get into the nitty-gritty of cleaning: recaulk showers, tubs, and sinks and scrub the grout; replace worn or moldy shower curtains; and wipe down switch plates, doorknobs, walls, and baseboards, all of which can accumulate a lot of dust and grime. Your home’s exterior is also important, so be sure to remove and clean debris from your balcony and pressure-wash your siding, back patio, and steps.
As important as those details are, however, don’t neglect the obvious—clean and clear the kitchen counters, wipe down bathroom counters, toilets, and sinks, deep-clean floors and tiles (including touching up scuffs and deodorizing carpets), clean windowpanes, dust and polish wood furniture, and remove any cobwebs collecting in corners, light fixtures, and window frames. Finally, if you have a pet, take time to remove any hair with a lint roller or vacuum and clean their eating and sleeping areas (and if you have a cat, their litter box).
One of the biggest turnoffs for buyers is strong smells. Even a fantastic house that’s priced right, beautifully decorated, and located in a great neighborhood can send buyers walking away if it has undesirable odors. It’s easy to become desensitized to pet and cigarette aromas or pungent cooking spices when you’re exposed to them 24/7, so ask your real estate agent, a neighbor, or a close friend to tell you if they detect anything unpleasant. If they do, take the necessary steps to remove the smells, such as by sprinkling baking soda on your furniture fabric, which is an inexpensive solution to an expensive deterrent.
Accentuate your current lighting by discarding and replacing fluorescent lights with daylight or soft-white bulbs. These give off a blue hue, which can increase the overall brightness of any room, whether it’s the kitchen, bathroom, or home office. And, of course, don’t forget to open all shades and blinds to let in as much natural light as possible.
You can enhance the light and size of most rooms by strategically placing mirrors in them. For example, try adding a decorative mirror to your front entryway wall, a standing mirror in the corner of your living room, or a wall mirror behind your dining room table. Just make sure to keep them away from windows to prevent an annoying glare.
It can be difficult for buyers to envision themselves in a home if it feels overly cramped. Although the current layout may work for your lifestyle, it may not for the buyer, so experiment with ways to create a more open living space. One solution is to simply rearrange your furniture, though you may need to remove a piece here and there to help clear walkways and make the room appear bigger. If you find yourself struggling with how to achieve the best layout, ask your real estate agent for a few expert tips you could try.
If your home feels a bit outdated or is showing signs of wear and tear, now is a great time to freshen things up. But don’t feel like you have to run out and purchase new furniture or shop for expensive accessories. For instance, if your sofa, pillows, or chairs are stained, a slipcover can solve this problem for a reasonable cost. You could also take a friend and go thrift shopping to pick up some new decorative pieces, such as a vintage print, a table lamp, or an accent chair. You may be surprised at what you can find when staging on a budget.
Repair or remove any broken furniture or visibly damaged items in your home that may catch the buyer’s eye, and peruse each room to see if there’s any outdated decor. For example, if you have silk flowers (which gather dust too), replace them with affordable fresh-cut flowers such as daisies. Remove statues, old figurines, and dark or worn curtains, and consider picking up a new lampshade or two to modernize the room.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to refresh your kitchen. Instead, polish or replace hardware, spray-paint your cabinets, and add a colorful rug by the kitchen sink or underneath the kitchen table. Also, set the dining room table with simple, contemporary plates, flatware, and placemats for an extra touch.
Today’s buyers tend to be shrewd and savvy, and when house shopping, they want to be able to visualize their belongings in a home. So approach home staging with a less-is-more attitude to make yours more enticing and get the best offer possible.