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Lighting Designers Incorporate High-End Fixtures During Update of Oak Forest Craftsman
By Marsha Canright

When lighting designers Sarah and Lance Gandy purchased a three-bedroom Craftsman in 2014, it was ripe for a remodel. Located in Oak Forest, the house had good bones, a broad front porch and room to expand.

With two daughters and a third child expected, the family needed more space than was offered — at least one additional bedroom and another bath.

Still, they liked the location, which shaved time off their commute and they believed a few key changes could make the space work.

“My husband and I like to tinker with houses; we enjoy making a good house better,” Sarah Gandy says. “We never think of where we live as a forever home; it’s more of a project.”

The house at 2322 Gardenia was built in 2001 after Tropical Storm Allison flooded the previous home. The new structure had been raised about four feet on pier and beam, which has protected it against subsequent storms.

Before the family moved in, the couple swapped the kitchen tile for hardwood floors that matched the rest of the downstairs and removed wall-to-wall carpeting upstairs. They also repainted the interior from baby blue to light, neutral colors.

“We knew that we could add a master bedroom on the second floor by extending over the driveway but the planning went through many possible iterations,” she says.

Over the next two years they planned and executed a master bedroom addition along with renovations to the kitchen and all three bathrooms. The end result is a “tree house” bedroom with a vaulted ceiling and windows on three sides and a reimagined master bath that is both airy and functional. 

“The bedroom was all new construction and the bath was a total redo with a new layout, a window, vanity, tub and shower,” says Gandy.

The couple was able to economize by minimizing changes to the infrastructure. The new tub is where the old vanity was and the new vanity is where the old tub was.

“The challenge of remodeling a home is to create a beautiful space with a pleasing layout in as few strokes as possible,” she says.

The Gandys, who both have architecture degrees, selected finishes and layouts that pleased them personally but always considered how those changes would appeal to a range of people for resale purposes.
“Everything you move costs money — especially electrical and plumbing — so you want it to be beautiful but to keep it cost effective,” she says.

The master bedroom and bath combination took about three months from start to finish; the builder was Daren Bartula with Bartula Brothers Construction and the Gandys say the process was executed carefully and quickly considering the breadth of the project.

The kitchen changes were smaller in scale but the reorganized space made a huge aesthetic difference for the couple.

A small, bulky island with a black granite top dominated the kitchen. By moving it to an adjacent blank wall the Gandys were able to increase counter space and to have a new island that looks like a piece of furniture.

“Visually it works better. The wood top is lighter and the open storage below gives the room an airy feel,” she says.

As lighting designers, they updated most of the decorative lighting fixtures in the house and on the front and back porches.

“We retrofitted the exterior with all LED lighting to maximize efficiency since they tend to stay on for more hours,” she says.

“Lighting in the master bedroom, bath and upstairs is all new including the recessed cans. We used adjustable LED fixtures to allow us to highlight art or other features like the tub and vanity.
They also installed new pendants over the kitchen bar from Lightology.

Redoing the children’s bath was a simple project — mainly new paint, vanity and tile.
“We went from a single sink to a double one to maximize functionality with very little difference in price,” she says.

They also added crown molding to the kitchen, bedrooms and powder bath to give each room a tailored, finished feel.

There’s always something to learn when you remodel a house. For Sarah Gandy, that lesson is simple. “Stick to classic, updated looks. We work on our homes over several years, so we don’t want to remodel a bathroom that will look dated when we’re ready to move,” she says.

“I like our updates to look smart and fresh, so I stay away from trendy looks. I see ideas in magazines that I love but I know they will look dated in a few years so I don’t go that route.”

Now that the work is done, the Gandys have put the house on the market so they can move on to their next project. At press time an option was pending on the home; we knew it wouldn’t last long.


Bartula Brothers Construction

215 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago

Lithonia Lighting

The Detering Company
6800 Helmers

3510 Ella Boulevard
4418 North Shepherd
4721 North Main
Multiple locations throughout the Houston area


Grogan Building Supply Co.
2419 Yale
300 Garden Oaks

Expressions Home Gallery
6867 Wynnwood Lane
7071 Southwest Freeway

Golden Teak
15 Union Street, Lawrence, Massachusetts

2808 Richmond Avenue
11850 Hempstead Highway

Houston Web Design Company