Cover Story: Comfort Zone

02/21/2014 2:05 PM

03/05/2014 11:17 AM

Ally Whalen spends her days turning clients’ home remodeling dreams into reality, transforming gloomy kitchens into cheery breakfast nooks, outdated bathrooms into modern washrooms, and wasted space into the most coveted room in the house. So it’s no wonder that Whalen would ultimately want to invest in her own major remodeling project.

“My mind never stops. That’s always been the creative side of me,” says Ally, who, along with her husband, Scott, founded Simplicity Interiors Marketplace & Design in Cornelius. “I’m continually thinking of ways to improve the space that we currently have to make it more functional for the way we live.”

Ally admits that for the first six years in their Huntersville home, she “painted every room three or four times.” Yet it wasn’t until fall 2013 that she finally invested in a major project that ultimately revamped her entire downstairs and a portion of her upstairs. What first began as the addition of a screened-in porch eventually morphed into a rustic-meets-shabby chic 370-square-foot addition to the back of the home with a stone fireplace as well as a kitchen and master bathroom remodel.

General contractors proceeded to tear down the deck and knock out the wall, door and windows that had previously separated the deck and the house. About that time, the Whalens found out that their soil was too soft, resulting in a delay in the construction process as they reconfigured their fireplace. “We were going to have stone all the way around but the weight was going to be an issue because the soil was too soft and they were afraid it was going to sink overtime,” says Scott.

In spite of the obstacles, the addition features hardwood floors, a stone fireplace that Ally calls “the rock star of the room,” and rustic wood beams, which had been mined in North Carolina several years ago. Because the couple had abandoned the idea of the screened-in porch, they wanted to flood the room with as much natural light as possible, which they achieved by adding expansive windows. There are also a number of unique touches throughout the remodeled section of the home, as well, including a cottage chic-style sofa and chairs from Ally’s furniture line, Simplicity, a mantle made of a piece of old cedar that the couple found at an antique store, and a chandelier purchased at the local ReStore. “I didn’t realize how closed off the house was until we did this,” Ally says. “It’s stunning. It’s even more beautiful than I had imagined.” Now the family spends most of their free time in the new room. It’s the family’s living area, morning cuddle spot, reading nook and work space. “We spend every waking minute in there,” says Scott. “Our whole house has been transformed. Ally has made it really beautiful and a really comfortable place to live.”

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