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text by   SHANI SILVER photography by  EMILY HART  &   NATALIE PITTS

Interior designers know when a room just isn’t working. They’re the people we call on to ensure no space is wasted, particularly when a home belongs to a bustling family with children. We spoke to Brooke Cariker Inabnett of The Interior Stylist and ask her to show us around the space she made function perfectly for one very special family–her own! See how unused space became prime real estate in her family’s bright and welcome Dallas home.

DESCRIBE THIS PROJECT TO US A LITTLE. IS THIS A NEW HOME FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY, OR A REDESIGN OF AN EXISTING SPACE? Redesign of an existing space. We bought our home 5.5 years ago. We knew there was some updating involved, but we thought the potential of the home was great. We’ve been taking on one room at a time since we’ve moved in and we still have more to go! The more we do to the house, the longer we imagine ourselves living here.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DESIGNING FOR A CLIENT, AND DESIGNING FOR YOURSELF? I’m more decisive when working for and making decisions with a client. With my clients, we usually have a timeline and budget, and that keeps me focused. With my home, I tend to take my time. I fear that I’ll finish a room and then change my mind!

DID YOUR FAMILY HAVE ANY SPECIAL REQUESTS? We had two rooms—a formal living room and dining room—that didn’t get much use. We wanted to make the space more functional, so we transformed them into an office and laundry/mud room. I’m in my home office every day—it inspires me!

HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THIS PROJECT? Lots of inspiration boards. And we tried to use pieces that we already owned. After we formulated the design, we worked with an architect on plans. Our project involved moving walls and electrical and plumbing work. So it was important to coordinate those aspects of the work with the design. We also have two young daughters, so it was important to not interfere with nap time!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF DESIGNING YOUR SPACE? I love the built-in that I designed for the family room. It’s a bold pattern on such a large wall, but I think it paid off—and the key is that you don’t see what’s behind the beautiful doors! I also loved choosing the bold color for the office—Rocky Coast by Benjamin Moore. We took another risk, but I’m glad we did!

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Fitting a laundry room, half bath, and exterior door and entryway into a room formerly used as a dining room was a challenge. We used every inch of the old space, but the flow of the new laundry room turned out great.

WHAT DOES YOUR FAMILY LOVE MOST ABOUT THEIR HOME? We love all the natural light and open space.

WHAT DESIGN ELEMENTS HERE SHOULD OUR READERS TRY FOR THEMSELVES? Custom built-ins (as seen in office and family room). They can take a generic room to the next level–not to mention they provide significant storage that can be lacking in an older home. Play around with the design to make a built-in a statement piece of your space.

WHAT DESIGN ADVICE YOU FIND YOURSELF GIVING OVER AND OVER AGAIN? Most of my clients already have some great pieces to work with. I help my client see them in a new light, and to take the space to the next level. I also tell my clients to buy original artwork. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can personalize your space.

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