About four years after Dani Harris and Kristin Jordan founded Louisville interior design firm Knot & Co., the pair began working on their first residential project: Harris and her husband’s 1950s home in Wildwood. Harris and Jordan had already designed interior environments for various commercial properties around town — including an office for nonprofit Seed to Oaks, as well as the former Scarlet’s Bakery properties — but they were hoping to add some houses to their portfolio as well.

© Alton Strupp/Courier Journal
The living room inside the home of Dani and Tim Harris is open and light with hardwood floors, a large rug, and a light blue sofa that complements the warm leather tones of a vintage chair. The space has two mid-century furniture pieces, a dresser, and a media console, used for displaying books, artwork, and plants. Nov. 24, 2020

“My home was kind of our test run in really diving into the residential sector and working well with general contractors,” Harris said. “It was great to have (it) as kind of a guinea pig for us to learn before we dove into residential client work.

Making moves

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When Harris and her husband began their search for a new home, they were already living in a newly remodeled house.

“(It) was great, because everything was nice and new, but a lot of it was things that we wouldn’t have chosen — but we weren’t comfortable ripping out things that had been installed the week before,” Harris laughed. “So, we were kind of looking for something (where) we could really put exactly the finishes and touches that we wanted.”

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They also knew they would eventually outgrow their current dwelling. “Since Kristin and I had started our business, we were working from home,” Harris explained, “and (my husband and I) knew that we wanted to have kids soon; and we (were living) in a two-bed, two-bath shotgun.”

Improved interior

Never shying away from a project, Harris and her husband knew when they discovered a 1950s ranch home in Wildwood with good bones, they’d be able to craft it into a space that would accommodate their needs. The state of the house, however, required immediate changes.

“We basically started remodeling as soon as we bought the house,” Harris recalled. “When we moved in, there was the original shag rug carpet; it was horribly stained. We had (it) all taken out; we had someone come paint the whole house. … then we started going room by room, as far as design. We’ve taken it slowly, in phases, like most normal homeowners do.”

Underneath that old shag carpeting, the home’s original red oak flooring was still intact. “We just had them all refinished,” Harris said. “They were existing and in gorgeous condition.” Once the oak flooring was revamped with a walnut stain, the rest of the house was ready for a full remodel. 

“It’s hard to believe it’s the same house,” Jordan said, explaining that every part of the home looks drastically different, especially her favorite room: the kitchen.

“I feel like it’s a comfortable place,” she explained. “You walk in, you want to go and make yourself something to drink and have a seat and hang out. I think it’s really, like (Harris) was saying, what she was shooting for — with that casualness and lived-in vibe, I think it is that.”

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Contributing to that lived-in look is the vertical tongue-and-groove paneling, which, combined with floating shelves instead of upper cabinets, makes the room feel taller than it is.

“It is very rough,” Harris said, describing the wood panels. “There’s still lots of knots in it and it’s not perfectly finished, which I love; that textural architectural element.”

The Knot & Co. duo complemented the kitchen walls with flat panels on the drawers. “(It’s) a nice mix of a traditional shaker and modern look,” Harris said.

Professional perks

She describes the overall look of her house as, “very minimal, simple, casual and comfortable — but also very functional. My husband and I definitely wanted a very simple, clean home; but you know, sometimes that feels stark, so we wanted to make sure that was done in a way that is still really comfortable and casual.”

She achieved this by mixing new pieces with vintage ones, like the dining table and the chest of drawers in the living room.

“I think it just gives a nice depth to each space,” she added. “I think that really helps with the simple spaces not looking quite so flat.”

In addition to having professional know-how, as well as a business partner to help pull off certain looks, Harris also has the advantage of access to atypical furniture. The large living room sofa, for example, is commercial grade.

“There are a lot of technical aspects to that,” Harris explained. “The fabric is a huge part of it. They measure it in something called double rubs; basically, someone has gone through a test of rubbing a fabric and they tell you how many double rubs (it can withstand).”

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The Harris home’s dining room chairs are also commercial grade. They’re the same chairs Harris and Jordan used in a restaurant they designed, so they knew they would be an aesthetically pleasing yet durable addition to a space that now also serves the Harris’ canine as well as their infant son, Thatcher.

“(The sofa and dining chairs) probably get the most wear and tear of any furniture pieces in our home,” Harris laughed.

Armed with furniture that can withstand just about anything, Harris can now sit back and enjoy the fruits of her interior design labor.

“Having a 1-year-old and a dog,” she said, “it’s really nice to just have a simple, spacious area that we can just hang out in as a family.”

Know a house that would make a great Home of the Week? Email writer Lennie Omalza at aloha@lennieomalza.com or Lifestyle Editor Kathryn Gregory at kgregory@gannett.com.

nuts & bolts

Owners: Tim and Dani Harris. Tim is a marketing director and Dani is an interior designer. Also in the home is their son, Thatcher (1).

Home: This is a 3-bed, 2-bath, 1,600-square-foot, ranch home that was built in 1959 in the Wildwood neighborhood.

Distinctive elements: Original refinished hardwood throughout; white paint throughout with black trimmed windows; kitchen includes quartz counters, tongue-and-groove backsplash; farmhouse sink, and black fixtures; bathroom includes slate floor tile, subway tile tub surround, marble vanity top and gold fixtures.

Applause! Applause! Kitchen remodel contractor: Abundant Redemption Contracting; cabinets: Cornerstone Kitchens; hardwood refinishing: Kaiser Flooring. The Harris family would also like to thank their family members who helped tear down many layers of wallpaper and pull up lots of original shag carpet.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Interior designer’s Wildwood home is effortlessly comfy with a functional minimalist vibe

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