A Grand Rochester Renovation by SKC Designs

The interior redesign of an 11-year-old home breathes new life into each space

Photos by Drew Gray  

What began seven years ago as a modest bedding project has transformed into a complete interior renovation for a home in Rochester’s Mayo Woodlands neighborhood. As a longtime client of SKC Designs, the homeowner put her trust in Sarah Conti, founder, when her husband passed away a few years ago—yearning for a refreshed space that was personalized to her and her lifestyle. The homeowner’s goal was clear: Infuse the interior with a warm and welcoming ambience. Conti says, “She wanted the home to be family-friendly, but she also wanted the home to be beautiful and aesthetically pleasing for all the entertaining she does.”

From the start, Conti sought to balance the architectural grandeur of the home with the homeowner’s personal style. Guided by both the client’s prized collection of original artworks and her love for Lake Superior, Conti crafted a color palette and selection of materials that effortlessly balanced one another. For instance, she used the client’s favorite colors, blue and orange, to infuse the design with personality while also complementing the original architecture’s natural elements, like the grand stone fireplace in the great room. “Weaving these threads through the design, honoring nature, speaking to the client’s interests and lifestyle, and bringing balance to all of that creates a beautiful interior that feels very natural,” she explains.

When embarking on the redesign, the first step involved updating and arranging furnishings for the spaces. “The furniture arrangement and quality of furniture was not very functional,” she explains. “I worked with [the client] to select fabrics, patterns, and textures that would bring more harmony and cohesiveness to the home.” In the great room, specifically, Conti was able to calm the space and make the grand room feel cozy, incorporating furnishings that “hug you,” she says. Most of the furnishings throughout the home were custom, some of which Conti designed herself, ensuring color and fabric selections would work well for the home’s many visitors.

Downstairs, a casual-style family room, which Conti just recently finished, prioritizes family-friendly functionality. “When her grandkids come over now, there’s a place to play games and watch movies,” she says. “I created an experience for her in that space that has really changed the way she interacts with her grandchildren and family.” And with a flexible layout, the room also acts as a secondary dining area when the homeowner is entertaining.

But Conti’s favorite room in the home is the lower-level guest bedroom—complete with a dramatic G P & J Baker wallpaper that features blue hydrangeas and birds. With goals of making the room feel warm and inviting, Conti also custom-designed an upholstered bedframe and worked alongside a cabinetmaker to craft perfectly sized nightstands. The resulting room is described by Conti and the homeowner as “cocoon-y,” with Conti stating, “I’m so drawn to this space. The client said to me, ‘Sarah, if you ever need a break, you can just come and sleep in this room. This could be your room.’”

As the project nears completion, Conti’s focus is now on the finishing touches—from updating the lighting to refreshing the window treatments. “To be honest, I’ve touched every space in this house,” she says. And although the team is still wrapping up the final details, the client now truly feels at home. “All her friends and family that come to visit, whether it be for personal, social, or business gatherings, continue to compliment her on her house. They stay. They linger. They feel at home in her home.”

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