Trust. It’s arguably the most important factor in any relationship. And that certainly includes the relationship between an interior designer and their client. A remodeling project can be a formidable undertaking, with budgets and timelines and tastes up in the air. Throw in a large remodel on an entire level of the house and it’s understandable that nerves might be involved.
Luckily, there are designer-client matches that are destined to succeed. Such was the case with Excelsior homeowner Ann Maranzano and The Sitting Room  designer Megan Jackson Meder. The two tackled a large-scale remodel of the main level in Maranzano’s older home, which transformed the residence into a family-friendly and fresh abode.
“When we moved to Lake Minnetonka three years ago, we knew we wanted to be in the area but couldn’t find the house we liked,” says Maranzano. “We bought our house based on the character and charm, but it needed a healthy update. We wanted to keep the balance of the house’s warmth, but we also knew we needed help to know how to update it in a way that fit the character of the home.”
“Ann was so trusting of me and the contractor from the beginning,” says Jackson Meder. “The whole family was involved and excited. They were super-flexible; their main focus was getting stuff done right.”
Jackson Meder is a design veteran who owned her own company before joining the team at The Sitting Room. “I loved being a designer and wanted that to be the focus, rather than having the responsibility of running the ship,” she says. “At The Sitting Room, we’re all independent designers that support each other. The comfort and flexibility we have helps us better serve our clients.”
Maranzano approached Jackson Meder about a remodel that centered on one major pain point of the house: the kitchen. The original kitchen layout was closed off from the rest of the house, which didn’t fit the way the family used the space.
“We use the kitchen for eating, but it helps to be able to see my kids doing their homework,” laughs Maranzano.
“They had younger, clean taste, and their home had the craziest, darkest kitchen,” says Jackson Meder. “It didn’t match the home and the changes they had made.”
Maranzano had an idea of the type of look she wanted; Jackson Meder helped translate images from Pinterest and magazines into a cohesive and updated look.
“Megan helped me find solutions,” says Maranzano. “It was so overwhelming to start from scratch—picking every knob, and type of flooring, the order of how things should be decided. With Megan, I could trust her to use my ideas, or run with it when I didn’t know exactly what I wanted.”
It was The Sitting Room’s style that led Maranzano to choose them for the design. She passed by the storefront and knew she had found the right partner.
“When I walked into The Sitting Room’s design studio, it absolutely reflected what I wanted,” says Maranzano. “The Sitting Room embodies the style I was looking to convey, and I felt really confident starting there.”
Jackson Meder gave the main level a fresh start by taking down nearly all of the walls to create a new mudroom space, an open kitchen, an office, a powder room and a walk-in pantry. The living room got an upgrade with a little bar buffet area and a fireplace.
Jackson Meder started the design process by focusing initially on the overall layout of the floor, saving the furniture selections for when the space was decided.
“The more I got to know them throughout the construction process, the more I got to know their personalities,” she says. “At the very end we picked the furniture and fabric, which I brought to them to look over. I wanted to make sure they were the right indoor, kid-friendly pieces.”
The remodel wasn’t without its challenges (including a pesky load-bearing wall that made it difficult to get an exact picture of the layout), but Jackson Meder and the Maranzano family were able to partner up to get the main floor the family had wanted for years.
“I’m in love with my kitchen, and I love the way it looks,” says Maranzano.
For those thinking of a remodel of their own, Jackson Meder has a piece of advice: “Make sure you know where you are going to live while your home is under construction.” This detail is often overlooked and can turn the remodel into a bad experience if it’s not well planned.
And other than a housing contingency plan? “Make sure to have an open mind,” she says.
Maranzano recommends being open to ideas, and to find someone with expertise who is going to really think about how you will use the space.
“Between our contractor and designer, there was so much creativity in the process,” she says. “There’s no wrong idea for how your family uses the space, and having the right partner and designer can bring solutions you probably didn’t think about before.”