When Shantell and Ty Bassett agreed to buy their first new home, they knew months of hard work lay ahead of them. Just three months into their renovation, the Bassetts found out they were expecting a child. After baby Joseph finally arrived, life could not have been better—until Ty noticed a swelling in his left foot. One X-ray, an MRI, and a biopsy later, he was diagnosed with synovial-cell sarcoma, a rare cancer.
Ty had a below-the-knee amputation and underwent an intense treatment of chemotherapy. To make ends meet, Ty was forced to sell the screen-printing business he owned and Shantell took a job as a waitress. Through it all, Shantell tried to keep Ty focused on the life they were building together, and their unfinished home became a symbol of their future.
Soon, Nate Berkus was on the scene. "This is one of my favorite projects because I like the clients so much," he says. "They're connected to each other in the truest sense of the word. Ty and Shantell have a lot to give despite their fear of what could be taken away."
When Nate first walked in, he found a 50's-era fixer-upper with clean lines and—except for the bamboo floors Ty had installed—a serious lack of charm. "Ty has a great eye," Nate says. "It's my job to get rid of his to-do list."
In the kitchen, Nate is confronted with a cramped layout and tired white tile. The crew, supplied by Lowe's, gets to work.
Out go the tile countertops with their stained grout; in comes a cool swath of dark granite. The high-gloss zebrawood cabinets by KraftMaid and a glass-tile backsplash in seafoam green really give the space its snap! "This wasn't the house for a white kitchen—it needed more personality," Nate says. "The finish of the wood is sophisticated, but pairing it with glass tile and a stainless-steel worktable makes it feel a little younger."
To help Ty navigate while in the kitchen, Nate chose height-adjustable lucite stools and a stainless steel table on wheels—both easy to move around. For extra storage, Nate filled the empty space above the cabinets with frosted-door glass cupboards.
Although spacious, the Bennetts' combined living-and-dining area lacked a homey feel.
In the new living area, Nate uses grass-cloth-covered walls in a soft shade of putty ("to warm things up"), a cream sofa with tropically bright pillows, and a pale blue ceiling and blinds ("to keep everything from being too brown"). A carved Indonesian chair—one of the Bassetts' finds—sits comfortably next to a modernist-inspired zebrawood coffee table. Nate uses the bamboo floors as inspiration for the rest of the living room. He adds lots of textures such as a marble-topped side table and a linen sofa.
To carve the open living area into two zones, Nate uses a bookcase, bolted to the floor to make it toddler-proof.
The Bennetts lacked a formal dining area.
The now intimate dining area—with its Turkish chandelier and 40's-style, French-inspired table—projects casual hipness.
French doors brighten up the newly created dining area—not to mention Ty and Shantell's faces!
There's even a framed handprint from Joseph. "We had to negotiate with him," Nate says, laughing. "He didn't like the ink."
Credits: Shantell, Nate and Ty photograph by Laura Moss
Besides a beautiful house, what the Bassetts have now is a chance to breathe. "This makes us believe that it's going to be a good year," Shantell says. "We never expected all this." Get the full list of products and vendors from this makeover.