Extra Time at Home Inspires Upper Arlington Couple to Redo their Space
Two guys with plenty of creative cred rethink their space amid the pandemic.
Last year will likely be known as the year we mostly stayed home. Living through a global pandemic has changed so many aspects of daily life. Time typically spent in offices or traveling was quickly traded for time spent working (or not) at home.
It is not surprising, then, that extra time at home allowed people the focus to reconsider the styling and use of their interiors spaces.
Andrew Miller and Matt Coultrip began to rethink their décor shortly after the stay-at-home order was issued by Gov. Mike Dewine last spring.
Coultrip, who leads global store design for Abercrombie & Fitch, has a 5-year-old son whose playroom also served as his dad’s home office. When Coultrip’s work transitioned to home indefinitely, he and Miller knew it was time to rethink their space.
Miller, who has worked at RH and other local businesses, now owns Tru Grit Design, a full-service firm that offers custom interior design for existing homes and new builds. Their shared creative expertise made this a passion project for the couple.
The two men agreed on a modern farmhouse approach to style and décor as they spent the pandemic reimagining spaces throughout the home. They started with the office, relocating Coultrip’s son’s playroom to the lower level since Dad was now at home more. Office cabinets were painted charcoal to create a contrast against the lighter wall color throughout the room.
The room’s furnishings include a mix of pieces from Elm & Iron, West Elm and vintage finds from antique stores. Some things, they already owned. For example, Coultrip has had his desk chair, used in a former office, for nearly 20 years.
The built-in desk was an addition made when Coultrip purchased the home in 2012. The surrounding shelves are now artfully filled with a mix of vintage and purchased pieces. “We both have a lot of family heirlooms,” says Miller.
Designing built-in shelving can be a creative challenge. You want the space to feel complete but not too crowded. “Visually, it’s about symmetry,” says Miller. It is important not to overload the space. Stacking books is always a good place to start; you can add a décor piece on top for more detail. Miller also recommends adding some greenery—faux or real—to liven up the space.
“Even as a professional designer, it is challenging for me, too,” he says. “It takes a lot of finesse.” He suggests that it is also important to balance color throughout shelving décor.
The couple says this room also serves as a guest room. A nearby sofa has a pull-out mattress and a full bathroom is nearby. The sofa, though, also makes this a comfortable sitting room for entertaining other guests. “We recently had a friend over and drank martinis in the office,” he says. “It’s a cozy, nice place to hang out.”
Throughout the rest of the house, Coultrip and Miller agreed that they wanted to move away from the gray color used in the home, deciding instead on varying shades of white with black, navy and other subtle accents.
In the dining room, for example, the couple decided on new textiles to refresh the space. Repainted in pure white, alabaster was chosen for the trim. Coultrip and Miller agree that subtle changes such as the paint change, or adding new curtains or a rug can positively and dramatically elevate a room’s design.
The modern kitchen was completely demolished and renovated when Coultrip purchased the home, so little work was needed. “When you have a clean slate, it is interesting and quite challenging to come up with a layout,” he explains, adding that he sketched a plan that ultimately led to the current kitchen’s design at nearly midnight one evening.
“Usually those types of moments come in the middle of the night,” adds Miller, laughing.
More recently, they worked with a contractor to update the backsplash. It was previously white subway tiles, which they replaced with 2-by-4-inch gray subway tiles that resemble cobblestones. “It totally transformed the space and added more depth with the white cabinets,” says Miller.
Even the nearby mudroom was updated to meet their desired farmhouse aesthetic. They repainted all walls and replaced a door leading to the garage. New, glass lighting was added beside the door, and both doors in the space were painted black to align with a more modern look.
The design goal for this multi-functional space—which also serves as the laundry room—was clean and simple. A rattan bench was added to bring in more texture, and the original blueprint of the home is framed, adding a personal touch to the space.
Coultrip and Miller both love wallcoverings, so they added a new design in the home’s entryway and up the nearby stairwell. Additionally, wallpaper was used in Coultrip’s son’s room to create an accent wall. Miller says people are “coming around more to wallcoverings,” in part because modern coverings can be relatively easy to apply.
One of the couple’s favorite additions to the home during its quarantine makeover is the vertical batting on the living room walls. “We wanted to add some sort of interest in the living room,” says Miller. They also purchased new sconces to flank the fireplace. “The glow of the wall fixtures makes the space feel warmer,” says Coultrip.
“People don’t realize how much lighting does for a space,” adds Miller. “It is like the jewelry that accents your outfit.”
After a year-long collaboration, the two are enjoying their refreshed spaces. “We play our design eyes off of each other,” says Miller, adding that their independent sense of styles complemented each other to make the home uniquely their own. Both men agree that they find inspiration from many different places.
“I work in corporate retail and design, so I am always looking for what’s next,” says Coultrip. He adds that his day-to-day design focus helps him apply inspiration to personal spaces, too. Miller is personally inspired by travel.
“It is a passion of mine and I have done a lot of it,” he says. “There are so many different styles of architecture, interiors and textiles to appreciate.”
The pandemic not only inspired the couple to redesign their home, but also led Miller to finally start his own design business, which was a goal for many years. Like so many other people, he was laid off early in the pandemic and was encouraged by family and friends to finally take the leap.
Although it has certainly been a challenging year, Miller says he has been able to find silver linings. “You realize what is important,” he says. “You realize your passions.”