Just because a house has family history doesn’t mean it can’t be updated with some modern touches while keeping its original charm. Case in point: Actress Jenna Fischer’s family home in St. Louis, Missouri, that her sister currently lives in. Originally designed by their grandfather, it now belongs to the third and fourth generation of the family.

Fischer says that while the space worked for her sister, Emily, and her sister’s husband at first, the house started to feel more cramped as the couple began to have kids. So, “The Office” star used home design website Houzz to help give them the surprise of a lifetime. It’s all documented in the latest episode of the makeover video series “My Houzz.”

The project: Knock down the walls between the great room and kitchen making it an open concept floor plan. That way, when Emily and her husband are in the kitchen cooking dinner, they can still keep an eye on the kids. Fischer also wanted to update the space with less bulky furniture and clutter to keep things from feeling crowded.

She enlisted the help of designer Jenny Rausch to design and organize the renovation in St. Louis. Fischer’s father, Jim, also helped with some of the work, including striking the first blow with a sledgehammer to a wall his dad built.

One of the biggest obstacles they faced was figuring out what to do with the staircase in the middle of the main area — it was not as if they could relocate the stairs to the basement. But Rausch and her team were able to make it work, wrapping the stairwell half walls in wainscoting to make them look nice.

They also gave the kitchen a much-needed refresh with new appliances, cabinets, countertops, flooring and lighting to brighten and update the space. A 30-by-60-inch island will give the family more surface area to eat and work.

Before the renovation, the living room and dining room were overrun with toys and art supplies. But now, integrated built-in storage in the dining room conveniently hides all of that.

Even the front door got a much-needed makeover! The knob was awkwardly in the middle of the door beforehand, but has since been upgraded to a paneled design that allows a bit of natural light into the interior.

“It feels so home-y,” Emily said of her new space. “I like the openness of it. I think it will make life so much easier.”

Houzz

Jenna Fischer (left) poses with her sister, Emily.

“The future’s gonna be a lot easier for Emily now,” Fischer added. “I love thinking about her family doing movie night cuddled up on the couch with a fire in their new fireplace.”

To see more of the renovation and to shop the space, visit Houzz.

Todd Delahunt
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Todd Delahunt

Delahunt Homes is a residential, custom, luxury home builder serving the Portland Metropolitan area and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. We've been building custom dream homes featured in The Street of Dreams since 1992.
Todd Delahunt
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