Designer’s Notebook: A Little Big Living

Jackson & LeRoy makes a small house feel larger with the help of an inspired designer and her creative family.

authors Jackson & LeRoy Remodeling | June 3, 2020

Beneath the signs of age and degradation, designer Anne-Marie Barton of AMB Design recognized the classic, stunning character of this little Salt Lake City home. She was captivated by the artistry of the rooflines and delighted by its traditional bones. She could see this home had a dignified and wondrous charm waiting to be reborn.


The narrow tree-lined streets, scattered with neighborhood markets and eateries, painted a sublime picture of the potential the home had to be—a true treasure. The allure of the quaint home and neighborhood had Barton hooked. She decided she must give the abode the love and attention it needed.

The restoration of the humble gem became a family affair. Barton, her husband and their creative and inspired children used their talents as interior designers, musicians, fashion designers and artists to create a home brimming with a poetic spirit.

The deep-rooted character of the home’s original architecture, brick and windows gave Barton an ideal palette to create something extraordinary. Starting with such strong bones made updating the exterior of the home rather uncomplicated. With some repairs, fresh paint and a gorgeous front door, the home’s exterior was complete and perfectly inviting.

From the beginning, Barton wanted the experience of walking through the front door to take you back in time—to a place where detail and more layers were a part of the story. As they thoughtfully designed every square inch of the little home, every pattern, color, texture and material were carefully studied. In such a small space, it was a challenge to balance the adequate amount of elevated style without going over the top.

In the orderly front entry, the floor-to-ceiling dark walnut wall treatments paired with a leathered bluestone herringbone floor to create a warm, dignified welcome. Coats and bags hang from hooks that resemble miniature fox figurines, while the bench below is home to incoming mail that drops through the original mail slot. In this small corner of the home, Barton created a space of beauty, intrigue and utility.

The deep paint colors and materials in the modest living room create an intimate feeling that reads as spaciousness—in an unexpected way. The blue-gray paint color used in the living room and throughout the home was created by Barton and her family by mixing and sampling colors over and over again at the paint shop. The warm, rich color proves that dark paint can truly amplify a small space.

As she worked on gathering inspiration for the home, Barton sought to create something that did not reflect the current rage. Using the blue-gray paint on the paneled walls was fundamental to moving away from trends of the late 2010s and building upon the home’s traditional bones. However, while harnessing the traditional roots, Barton recognized that the person who may someday desire to live in this home’s hip neighborhood might want a younger, less proper vibe.

For this reason, she sought to incorporate a fresh approach to the home’s traditional elements. By combining the dark painted wall paneling with modern design pieces such as the limestone fireplace surround, brass inlay detail and fireballs, Barton succeeded in putting cool into classic. These modern details work well with the thin mullioned panes of the home’s original windows.

The dark wall paneling of the living room continues into the kitchen space. The cabinetry was painted the same blue-gray color, and the door panel carries the same trim profile as the wall paneling. The continuation of these design elements creates a cohesion between the two spaces, despite the fact that it is not as open in concept as many modern homes.

The windows and open shelving bring light and openness into the rather narrow galley kitchen. The hanging rack over the oven was part of the initial dreamscape of the home. Barton designed the custom-made brass piece to provide both style and usable space. It hangs over a small, white Bertazzoni range. It was very important to her to find an oven that added personality and interest to the small space. This piece was perfectly suited to the traditional style with a modern edge.

Although congruent with the style of the rest of the home, the bathroom possesses a distinct sensibility. Barton used a variety of design elements that came together to create a one-of-a-kind space. The uniqueness of the vanity is achieved by an unusual door pattern and a thin 2cm countertop.

The high-gloss brick pattern of the flooring also stands out as a unique element. For Barton the most important physical element in the home was the use of the authentic brass of the past. It’s seen throughout the home, but in the bathroom the use of more brass on the hardware, lighting, décor and wallpaper creates a bright and radiant space.

Barton and her family’s passion for design and style gave this quaint little home new life. Inside and out, they succeeded at their goal to put cool into classic. The home’s renewed spirit speaks to the soul of each person who has the opportunity to live in or visit the big little home. QR

From its foundation Jackson & LeRoy was built differently, on the basic principle that clients deserve more. So they built a company committed to delivering just that—a company who believes, at its very core, that it exists to serve clients and enhance lives through building and remodeling the physical edifices they call home.

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