The Best of Black & White in this Swoony South Hill Remodel
Two years ago, Hillary Peil and her husband, Shon, were ready to begin the process of building a new home. They loved their previous home of nearly a decade, but their family was growing and space was getting tight. They knew when they moved again it would be into their forever home. Just days from closing on a lot and well into the design process for a new home, they still found themselves looking at what was on the market, “just to make sure,” Hillary says. “As excited as we were to build, something about it just didn’t feel 100% right.”
And that’s when they came across the South Hill home they’re living in now. “Four days before our lot closed we found ‘the house,’” she says. “I put in an offer without Shon even seeing the house. He knew that if I loved it, then he would love it. It was definitely the one. We knew the family that we bought the house from and they raised a beautiful family there. We knew this is where we wanted our kids to grow up.”
On two acres, in a well-established area with a secluded lot and views of downtown, “it’s beautiful and private, yet in a neighborhood,” says Hillary. The location was perfect. The house was already pretty amazing and, with updates, would feel just right for their family of seven: Hillary, Shon, their 10-year-old twins, eight-year-old, four-year-old, and five-month-old.
After purchase, they took almost the entire main floor down to the studs. They built on a 700-square-foot addition to accommodate a new dining room and bar area, laundry room and mud room. They completely remodeled the kitchen. They opened up walls, replaced all the doors with oversized 8’ x 3’ doors to make the ceilings look higher, replaced windows with larger ones, and added a new fireplace. They also swapped out the existing flooring with 10-inch plank European oak engineered hardwood, which adds warmth and complements the whites and blacks that run through the entire home. The house now has the open concept they’d hoped for, allowing for functionality and easy flow.
They moved in six months into the remodel and lived in the basement for the next six weeks as flooring, appliance installation, and other odds and ends were finished upstairs. It wasn’t always easy, to put it mildly. “It was a total nightmare,” Hillary says with a laugh. “It always takes longer than you think it’s going to.”
The results, though, speak for themselves—and are frequently featured on Hillary’s gorgeous Instagram, @thehillarystyle, where she focuses on design, decorating, DIY, cooking, and all things home. One area that the family is thrilled with is the kitchen. The showstoppers in this room? “We absolutely love the double islands,” Hilary says. They opted for two, 8-foot islands versus one oversized one, which they would have had to orient in the perpendicular direction to fit into the space. The double island design also allowed for sink placement along the exterior wall to take advantage of the view. One of the islands is flanked with stools to seat eight for casual dining. The other island is available for prep space, food serving, and display. The countertops are infinity quartzite, a natural stone that’s more durable than marble or granite; they used the same material behind the stove for a seamless look. The full-size refrigerator and full-size freezer, placed symmetrically across from the islands, provide plenty of food storage space. Thoughtful touches keep everything in its place, like the island drawers that house dishes, everything kept neat and tidy thanks to pegged drawer organizers.
The dining room has more formal seating and is also home to a beverage station and bar area, with a hot water tap, coffee station, beverage cooler, and ice maker. The bar area “acts as our butler’s pantry,” Hillary explains, and gets lots of use every day. This room is bookended by the gorgeous fireplace (it’s about four full slabs of honed black granite), and the beverage station with its black leathered countertop, matte black picket fence tile, and wall of built-in dark-toned cabinetry (floating white oak shelves offer visual contrast).
The fireplace is one of the areas where a bump in the remodeling process led to a quick change of plans: the white marble they’d selected was so flawed it couldn’t be used, and a new choice had to be made on the spot. “We loved this black honed granite, and though I was nervous to pull the trigger with it being so dark, I agreed to it and we could not be happier,” Hillary explained on her Instagram feed. “It is bold, yet so simple. It is sleek, yet makes a huge statement. We absolutely love the hearth! I will say that probably my favorite part about the fireplace is that it completely camouflages my TV. We had the TV inset so it’s flush with the stone and it virtually disappears when it’s turned off.” The room gets plenty of light through the doors that lead off onto the deck, which was extended during the remodel. Black, used to great effect here, is an important part of the aesthetic in every room, whether that’s in the stair rails, the frames of the French doors, shelf brackets, tile, or furniture and accessories. The living room continues the same black and white theme, with comfortable seating and a full wall of windows, bathing the space with a light and airy feel.
Sometimes the existing bones of the house imposed design limitations. Putting in larger windows and more expansive doors added a sense of spaciousness, as did adding shiplap to the entry and kitchen ceilings, a feature that draws the eye up and makes the rooms seem taller and larger.
In addition to the open concept kitchen, dining, and living spaces, the main floor also has a luxe master bedroom and a nursery for the couple’s youngest. It’s also home to a stunning powder room, which is remodeled with a six-inch black and white granite countertop; the wall-mounted faucet set into the matte hex tile is another thoughtful detail in this space.
One other favorite space on the main floor is the mudroom, where lockers were added, one designated per family member. Another functional and essential spot is the small but mighty laundry room—part of the addition—which has plenty of cabinetry for concealed storage. The stacked washer and dryer units also free up space. Textural cement tile and open shelving above the countertop and sink are attached to the wall with sleek-lined steel brackets.
Downstairs are the kids’ bedrooms, a media room, a family room, and a storage room that was remade into a craft area. The kids “like the basement,” says Hillary of their favorite spots. “They love the media room.” The craft space is ideal for homework and creative projects, with built-in cabinetry and a spacious worktable and chairs. The flooring downstairs is luxury vinyl plank.
There are more plans for the future, like redoing more of the home’s bathrooms, possibly adding a sport court, and building on stairs to the deck. The exterior has been painted and accessorized, and last year they began landscaping, adding curbing and planting evergreens and boxwoods for year-round greenery. As things continue to evolve—choosing more light fixtures, making more exterior changes, adding décor—Hillary will be following her instincts, as she encourages others to do when remodeling. The key, she has found, is to “stick with what style you love.”
“Sometimes it’s good to go off and try something a little more bold, but stay true to yourself,” she says. She also recommends taking all the time you can to make decisions. Their remodel happened under a time crunch, with the speediness that is often necessary to keep a construction crew. “Hindsight, I wish I had slowed down and not felt pressured to make such quick decisions.”
Hillary says her best design choices are the ones she’s had plenty of time to consider. These days, they’re approaching everything as deliberately as possible.
“We’re just kind of waiting to see how the spaces play out,” she says. “It’s just a work in progress. You don’t have to rush it.”
McGee and Co
Hiller Custom Carpentry
Liz Mancini, Wallflowers
Share this entry
Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living
157 S Howard | Suite 603
Spokane WA 99201
Catering and Management
The Hidden Ballroom
Loft at the Flour Mill
Hangar Event Center
180 S Howard
Spokane, WA 99201
The Hidden Ballroom
39 W Pacific | Spokane WA 99201
Loft at the Flour Mill
621 W Mallon, 7th Floor | Spokane WA 99201
Hangar Event Center
6905 E Rutter Ave | Spokane WA 99212