House Demos- from dud to stud

If you’ve ever considered doing a major home remodel (since I happen to be in the middle of two house demos with clients), I thought I would share some helpful tips. There is a lot of excitement, anxiety, decision making and cash-flow that goes into these projects so you must be brave, a little adventurous and up for the challenge. What do they say- dreams don’t work unless you do, right? Fortunately for my clients, as a designer I help make homeowner dreams a reality and I’m always up for reworking a design dilemma! So let’s strip things down to the studs as we take a look at two very different home projects I am currently managing for my clients.

With any major home demo, once the sledgehammer goes through the wall, and your home is no longer the old version of itself, it can feel really overwhelming and daunting, in both positive and negative ways. Yes, the home you once knew is no more, but the memories will still be there as you create a space reimagined with possibility. I love this part of the process, because you get a chance to see what’s underneath it all and address much needed updates that will absolutely benefit the way you live in your new space. Major demo and remodeling allows you to update wiring, HVAC systems, lighting, plumbing, A/V and so on. Not to mention all of the surface finishes throughout. These updates of course are both labor intensive and costly so if you’re considering a full-scale remodel, you need to keep a few things in mind. For one, it helps if the home has good bones and you are satisfied overall with it’s layout. Also, consider property value in your area if you think you may not stay in your home long enough to recoup your investment. Maybe you love the neighborhood or the schools? If you plan to stay in your home but it’s not meeting your current needs, this is where demo will benefit you most.



C:UsersEmily LaMarqueDesktopEmily LaMarque Design StudioELD


C:UsersEmily LaMarqueDesktopEmily LaMarque Design StudioELD

This traditional ranch home nestled in the San Fernando Valley is being redesigned into an elegant, family friendly space with a slightly bohemian vibe; more details on the style can be found here. My clients are a family of 5, three of them being boys under the age of 10. The current home is roughly 3,000 sq ft and we are adding 500 sq ft to accommodate a new home office and bath. They are also cooking enthusiasts so a state of the art kitchen is a must, as well as a bigger laundry to keep up with the wear and tear of boys! Overall, the goal of the remodel is to create a more family friendly and entertaining space for company, while also adding square footage to meet the needs of  a home office. Since the homeowners are going for this nouveau elegant meets bohemian aesthetic, this is where I am really harnessing my creative resources! I think it’s coming together nicely. Take a looksy… emily-lamarque-design-studio-bohemian-elegance-concept-board



(First Floor)


(Second Floor)



(First Floor)


(Second Floor)


Built in 1922, this spanish colonial home is located in a historic section of Pasadena. More details on this home can be found from my other post, here. It is over 4,000 sq ft and since it was built in the 1920’s, it is in desperate need of a major overhaul. However, since it is in a historic neighborhood, the façade must retain it’s original integrity. This is a major challenge, particularly when the owners have a modern aesthetic and we are working with a Spanish colonial home! So I’m developing a modern Spanish style design, and I’m very excited to see this one evolve since it is definitely pushing the creative limits.

Here is my inspirational concept board for the home. It is still evolving, but this has been my jumping off point of color palettes, fabrics and finishes to start…


What interests me most about this home is how it becomes a historic viewfinder into the way people lived in the past. Originally, the kitchen was completely cut off from the living and dining areas. It was opened up to the dining sometime during the 70’s or 80’s, which is evident from a few aluminum windows and other telltale signs. Nowadays the kitchen functions as a central hub for gathering and entertaining. It is safe to say that with a home like this, complete with maid’s quarters, the original owners weren’t doing the cooking. Rather, they were entertaining in the formal living room where families used to congregate. Interesting how times have changed! In other older home formalities, this home has a porte cochère and a detached garage. It truly makes me wonder if it was utilized for a horse and carriage!

Lastly, in other surprising news to us, yet typical for this design period, there is no designated master. The four bedrooms upstairs share two barely functional bathrooms (gasp!). The bathrooms are tiny, with zero storage. Back then it was all about the vanity area and getting ready, but home spa retreat? Not so much. Thank goodness we are updating this home with the times! We will be reconfiguring the bedrooms to function as three full-size masters in the home with ensuite baths, while the downstairs maid’s quarters will function as a playroom for the grandchildren. This will also have a full-size luxurious bathroom, so this room could easily convert to a downstairs master as well. We will also be adding an elevator for added convenience. For outdoor entertainment, we will be redesigning the pool, adding a jacuzzi as well as a pool bathroom.

Here are some visuals of how I think this property can fully transform into a modern Spanish hacienda…


Architectural trees and plantings, still very modern and Spanish combined.



I love this fountain, the potted small citrus trees, the ironwork on the gate and the smooth white plaster finish on the chimney and walls.


I love these homes that are Spanish but still feel very modern and architectural.


This is interior, but still in the vibe and VERY pretty. Look at the top detail in the niches.



Rows of olive trees, drought tolerant shrubs and succulents… so very spanish in landscape style, yet can also lend themselves to a modern feel.


An incredible lavender color palette…


This one is a little modern, but still would work beautifully.


As you can see, there is a lot of attention to detail when it comes to home remodeling! It is truly wonderful when you have the luxury of time to plan your design and make design decisions before you get too deep into the construction process. But fear not, working with a designer eases you through the process to make sure the details are not overlooked, that your vision for the space is properly executed and that any issues that arise are resolved. My goal is to work together to make sure you love your living space, and yes, from time to time, I also serve as a design therapist, a hand holder of sorts, reassuring clients that “it will all look incredible when it’s complete”. That’s my job, and I love what I do! Stay with me and see how these two projects unfold.



Defining a style: Bohemian Elegance

One of the main questions that is often asked in interior design is “what’s your style?” It is practically an industry pick up line! We love defining style so much there are even quizzes on the subject. You may have heard of modern, traditional and contemporary before, but you may have no idea what that means and you may not necessarily conform to any one of those standards. After all, your individual style is both unique and subjective. So when my client came to me with multiple style preferences, we decided that her unique style should be called Bohemian Elegance.

I have been working with my client for two years and counting on her home remodel. We have redesigned the bedrooms and added on a new master bath…. more on that later.  Now, we are in the stages of finalizing the plans and designs for a new kitchen, laundry/mud room, family room, game room, play room, office, and guest bathroom. It’s been more of a Phase I and Phase II remodel, and they have even welcomed their third son to the family in the process!

What I particularly love about working with my client is that she is very specific about what she needs and what she needs to avoid. What flies and what doesn’t. But, she is conflicted between her styles. On one hand, she appreciates elegant, refined, modern, clean-lined, chic beauty, yet also appeals to natural, rustic, earthy, grounded, hippy, bohemian, spiritual bungalow style. Two very contrasting concepts! A challenge? Yes! But a very exciting and worthy one.

….And on this day, we give birth to a new style…

… She shall be sharp yet soft, classy yet casual, clean lined yet cozy, she shall be pencil skirted on the weekdays and fringey on the weekends…

…And we shall call her Bohemian Elegance!

Here are some BEFORE Pics for you. A little taste of our jumping off point…emily-lamarque-northridge-entry emily-lamarque-northridge-livingemily-lamarque-northridge-dining-1 emily-lamarque-northridge-family-1emily-lamarque-northridge-family emily-lamarque-northridge-kitchen emily-lamarque-northridge-office emily-lamarque-northridge-office-bath

And here are some inspiration pics that we have been gathering that range in style…

grey toned kitcheneclectic kitchen by Venegas and Company


bright + balanced



white black gray game room


Bathroom. Incredible bathroom with gray herringbone tiled. #Bathroom #Herringbonehorizontal marble stripes

like the window seat with storage underneath

kids built in desk workstation with pencil drawers

Amazing tree house

must be heavenly to lounge in this Balinese style gazebo...

And last but certainly not least is the style board I’ve put together so you can see what’s to come!  If you’re craving more of this design style, please visit my Design Dish board on Pinterest.


As a designer, working with clients is so personal and individualized because every client is unique and has their own style, personality, and way that they live. Tailoring an interior to a client’s specific lifestyle is such a crucial part of the process because that is where the project transforms into something AMAZING – something creative, well-thought, and detailed. Not your cookie-cutter, tract home, contractor-special house flip. It’s the details that define. It’s inspired, yet original, just like you!