Feel-Good Design Energizes a 1940s Ohio Home

Valerie Esiso abides by the design philosophy “Function first, then feelings” When she, a interior designer, and her physician husband, Michael Essandoh, had only 1 weekend to get a house in Columbus, Ohio, they were able to see past its obsolete beige tiling and carpeting. “I’ve got three little children, so I think of the performance of my design choices within their context first. I then rely on my feelings and instincts to make the ultimate choices,” she states. With new hardwood floors, upgraded bathrooms and added doses of bold colour, the 1940s Cape Cod–design house is presently a feel-good, inviting space.

at a Glance
Who lives here: Michael Essandoh, Valerie Esiso and their 3 children
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Size: 3,600 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

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“For me great layout should awaken feelings, hopefully great feelings. I want to walk into a room and be enveloped by whatever emotion it was designed to elicit,” states Esiso. Her affinity for bold colors, classic pieces and hand-made things comes out of her upbringing in Africa, time spent in Madrid and other travels around the world.

Paint: Lightweight Beige SW6092, Sherwin Williams

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Esiso rescued and re-covered these midcentury armchairs, made by Paul László, to get a fresh, modern appearance. The fabric is out of Robert Allen.

The cutout wall opens the kitchen up to the main living room and makes it easier for the couple to keep an eye on their children.

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Because of previous homeowner additions, the kitchen is currently in the center of the house. This has been shown to be one of Esiso’s largest design challenges, one she addresses with a “no playing at the kitchen” principle for her young children. “The design is off, with the placement of the fridge on the opposite side of the island in connection with the cooktop and the sink,” she describes. “I would have made it with the cooktop in the center, due to the children running around.”

The couple replaced the present ceramic tile floor with slate and picked a new backsplash to match.

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This playroom area, the kitchen off, is meant to elicit feelings of pleasure and creativity inside her twin boys and kid.

Tables: Lack, Ikea

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This formal dining room “is reflective of my style,” states Esiso, who draws inspiration from artists such as Jonathan Adler, DD Allen and Caitlin Wilson.

It took a while for Esiso to get the perfect rug for this room; she travelled with this one from Pottery Barn due to its African American feel. The artwork on the wall is a unique item by Esiso.

Paint: Internet Gray SW7075, Sherwin Williams

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The twin boys share a room upstairs. Esiso refinished the hardwood floors here and everywhere to make them uniform with additional flooring. The slanted ceilings and dormer region are accurate to the home’s classic Cape Cod layout.

Most of the house has low ceilings, except for the two kids’ bedrooms, which have ceilings higher than 8 feet. “I don’t believe the ceilings are a lot more than 7 1/2 feet. It would have been wonderful if it were just a tiny bit higher,” she states.

Paint: Decisive Yellow SW6902, Sherwin Williams

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Esiso chose broad stripes to perk up her daughter’s room. A favorite piece of outgrown clothing is styled as art.

Pink paint: Exuberant Pink SW6840, Sherwin Williams; Dark gray: Software Gray SW7074, Sherwin Williams

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Esiso had the master bedroom gutted after they moved in, because she wanted it to be the calmest spot in the house — a retreat from all of the craziness. “I narrowed the colour palette down to calming blues and greens and ended up using this specific blue for the walls because it had the modern vibe that would function with the rest of the house,” she states. She used the exact same paint shade lighter for the ceiling. She also added a walk-in cupboard.

Paint: Lakeshore SW6494, Sherwin Williams

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The master bath was also gutted, and the couple installed a dual sink, bathroom, separate shower and bathtub.

Paint: Hearts of Palm SW6415, Sherwin Williams; tiles: Hamilton Parker; bathtub: American Standard, Plumber Surplus; habit acid stained concrete countertop: Del Col Concrete

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Esiso relaxes in the hub of her home, the living room.

Julie Ranee Photography

The front of the home’s Cape Cod–fashion outside has remained relatively unchanged. Most of the prior homeowner additions were made into the rear of the house.

The household feels at home in Columbus. “I love it’s a little town with big-city ambitions,” Esiso states.

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