The Upside of Downsizing
Holding on to the dearest treasures in a new chapter of life
As the empty-nester story often goes, Bev and Greg Paterson decided to downsize about a year ago to a home better suited for the couple and their desire to travel south for winters. However, the Patersons’ present home is a living testament that less space need not be synonymous with a decrease in style. In fact, quite the opposite may be true.
Bev Paterson left behind the home where she had raised her children and, in a serendipitous play of events, returned to an area marked by special memories of her own childhood. Her parents often visited friends who lived there.
“This was where we played . . . as kids it was a playground,” says Bev, as she describes ice skating in a swamp that is now just a memory and tripping along the reeds as they ran through the brushlands in warmer seasons.
The present Paterson home sits in a gated community on Spokane’s South Hill. Cozy individual homes, built in the 60s, surround a larger common area. The arrangement feels like a spacious yard with little upkeep, as individual homeowners have minimal plots of land to care for while still enjoying the surrounding common areas kept up by the Home Owners Association. Bev appreciates the security of the neighborhood, especially when they are away.
Remodel plans began immediately upon moving in, and Bev most appreciated the clean slate for a new style.
“You have to function a certain way with children,” Bev says, adding that between the kids, dogs, and whatever else the kids wanted to experiment take of meant decor choices were often more functional than anything else.
Bev’s decor style eclectic, as she deeply treasures furniture and relics passed on by family members and searches for ways to meld these into a cohesive style with her own findings. Doing so proved to be a challenge, until Bev met Cindy Ebel, Interior Designer and owner of CSI Design.
The two met after Bev mentioned her desire for design help to her banker, who recommended his wife. The two met up and found chemistry right away. And just like that Bev had a remodel comrade.
Ebel says relationship is key in the design process. “It’s really about the relationship at that point because you’re in their chest of drawers and measuring their stuff.”
The relationship bloomed as they laughed and shopped a lot through the remodel process, forming a friendship that extended beyond the project timeline.
Design decisions took time, a little angst, and resulted in some overall personal growth according to Bev.
“It’s a process to learn about how you function in making decisions and sometimes you just forego all because you want something and then you give up on others. You have to figure out where you should save money. ‘Will I hate myself in another six months because I didn’t make this purchase, or should I have been more cautious in another area?’”
Bev praises Cindy for being good at understanding the cost-benefit ratio.
Differing opinions presented another remodel roadblock. “It’s a compromise the whole way through because you are working with a designer and contractor. They have their own opinions and sometimes you get outvoted and feel unhappy,” says Bev. Yet she says she can laugh about things in hindsight.
One particular challenging decision presented itself in the way of paint colors. “It was a circus,” says Bev, describing an onslaught of paint swatches and samples in various hues graffitiing the walls for a time. Bev’s daughter saved the day. She walked into the home, condemned every sample as awful and then returned with a few new samples that struck gold (or rather the proper hues) with the team.
“What she did was what I had intended but couldn’t do, even though I thought I had a sense of color. I am forever grateful,” says Bev.
The story brings a nice connection to family, a theme congruent throughout the fibers of the home. Design decisions, furniture selections, art and the trinkets all somehow seem to relate to family.
“Behind everything there’s a story, whether it’s my story or a relative’s,” says Bev.
“She loves Spokane,” says Cindy. “It’s her home. It was all about using her family things, heirlooms and travels. Everything is about her family and the way she grew up.”
The kitchen and formal dining room certainly shout family and community. A great reformation took place in the kitchen remodel. “Kitchens were just a dot. There must have been a point where they quit cooking and went out. I wanted to center around the kitchen and entertain,” says Bev.
Together, Cindy and Bev redesigned a more open space by opening the wall to the adjacent family room. A large central island down the rectangular kitchen provides more than enough room for a simultaneous workspace and gathering point.
Simple whites and grays exude relaxation in a space where Bev can practice her favorite pastime—cooking and baking. The minimalist kitchen is ingeniously packed with supplies thanks to creatively designed custom cabinetry from Tapley Cabinet Works out of Coeur d’Alene.
“I admire and respect their work,” says Bev, the third generation to use the trusted cabinet makers in her family. “They are very accommodating to make things functional.” One such functional fantasy is a knife block built into a drawer to avoid a cluttering countertop block for kitchen blades. Another is the appliance cabinet, spanning the far wall where a set of doors folds back to reveal an entire counter of appliances plugged into power and ready for use, able to be tucked right back behind the simple doors when through.
A double stacked oven sits to the right of the appliance wall.
“When I went shopping for ovens the angels started to sing,” says Bev as she swings open a set of french doors to reveal the interior. “I had a love affair with these ovens.”
A Thermador cooktop and spacious Thermador fridge round out the luxurious appliance collection that all get their fair share of use from the entertainment enthusiast.
A salad bowl that could hold portions for 18 sits perched atop one cabinet, providing a perfect splash of color as it waits for the next dinner party—which is never too far away. “I had to have a formal dining room,” says Bev, adding that she loves the feeling of serving people in a dining room separate from the kitchen and having wonderful conversations about the world and life and everything one can imagine. “Let’s fill the table! That’s always been my motto,” says Bev.
An Asian-inspired table and complementary wall-to-wall hutch command the formal dining room, just off the kitchen. Bev loves rugs and pieces with an Asian flair because, to her, those lines are timeless.
A wet bar across the hallway accomplishes another great entertainment stop as well as a chance to showcase a collection of decanters that bear a story. Like the red decanter, which Bev purchased along with 24 glasses at a store in Rome shortly after college. When the items, which were supposed to follow Bev home via the mail, never arrived, her father’s attorney contacted the Italian council to protest. Bev eventually received a red decanter and 12 glasses—not quite the style or number she had originally ordered—but still cherished decades later.
Stories spring up in the living room, just off the formal dining room. Removing the mantle in the remodel infused a more contemporary vibe, allowing artistic accents like bronzed African sculptures and an antique painting to shine without clutter. A silk rug souvenir from China defines the space and floor to ceiling windows allow light to permeate the room with energy. A vibrant orchid adds life to a grand piano set against the back wall beneath an Asian-inspired tapestry.
An eclectic collection of artwork fills the home, yet it all seems to fit just right. “Some of the art has great value and others aren’t much,” says Bev’s husband Greg. He points out a piece of street art purchased in Paris that he says has no real value, though it has great value to them. The Patersons were married in Paris 12 years ago. Paris is also the name of their beloved dog.
A panoramic picture of a much older Spokane lines the hallway to the office, an heirloom from Bev’s father who used to own a lumber business on an island in the Spokane River. You can spot the business across from a functioning railroad depot that is now the beloved clocktower in Riverfront Park.
Style and stories continue to weave throughout the space, and always with a dose of comfort.
“I was arrogant to want it both ways. I wanted style and I wanted comfort,” says Bev. And the comfort was often added in stylish ways.
Gray and white hexagonal tiled floors in the master bath are heated from below and equipped with LED lights for seeing at night. Wall-to-wall mirrors expand the feeling of the room.
The master bath remodel proved challenging. Bev wanted many things in a minimal space, and despite her begging, the contractor could not push the walls out—not even six inches. Yet everything came together in the end, including Bev’s bathtub. “Cindy was brilliant in coming up with an idea and a plan for making the master bath friendly for both my husband and me,” says Bev.
Overall, the Patersons are very happy with their new space, though it’s still a work in progress. “I was really hesitant to leave our family home that we had been in for 35 years,” says Bev. However, health issues began to slow Bev down, and she felt guilty her husband did the majority of upkeep around their large home.
“I think that was the beginning of me letting go.”
She says she’s glad they found the opportunity to purchase their current home where they both felt comfortable.
“It was a transition, a way we could make a move and still have enough space and have kids and grandkids come. They might be on a few blow-up beds but who cares,” says Bev.
There won’t be a shortage of stories. Or salad.
An avid traveler, Joni Elizabeth constantly snaps photos to document inspiring architecture and design. Writing about such spaces melds Joni’s love for design and decor with that of sharing an individual’s story, as she believes spaces are often a small reflection of the owner. She’s also convinced no space is complete without a dog.
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