This Deserving Nashville Family’s $5K Garage Makeover Turned an Unused Space Into a Teen Lounge
The Doyle Family, who have three biological and three adopted children, got the surprise of a lifetime thanks to a no-cost makeover courtesy of Bloom Family Design, SoFi and designer Jenny Reimold
Lindsey and Ryan Doyle, parents of six living in Nashville, dreamed of transforming the dark and dusty storage space above their garage into a lounge where their kids — ranging in age from 5 to 17 — could spend time with friends, study and enjoy movie nights. But the day-to-day of taking care of a family of eight has kept the project on the back burner for years, until now.
SoFi, a personal finance company, brought together Nashville interior designer and lifestyle expert Jenny Reimold (a mom of seven herself!) and Bloom Family Designs, a non-profit that facilitates home renovations at no cost for families with adopted or foster children, to bring their dream space to life for the Doyle family, who have three biological children and three adopted children, including one child with epilepsy.
"It was just kind of surreal," mom Lindsey, a full-time teacher, tells PEOPLE exclusively of the room makeover. "We're just deeply grateful."
The renovation has been a bright spot amid the ongoing pandemic, allowing the family more space to spread out while staying home. "It was such an unexpected joy for us in a hard year with the pandemic," Lindsey explains, adding that she's thrilled that it has "given our children a place that they feel celebrated, and I can hear them just laughing and giggling, and it's just been a place of joy."
"Being a sibling of a child with special needs is hard sometimes, seeing a lot of the trauma that goes on," she says, adding that her daughter experiences seizures daily. "I think that's what meant so much, not only is [the room] stunning, and not only is it that we literally love just to be all together watching movies, it was a celebration of them."
"It was something that we have wanted to do for years," she continues. "But with six kids, the energy and the time just has not been able to go forward. And so when we were told that we could pick any room in the house, we immediately thought of that space, which was used for storage and kind of dark."
Lindsey envisioned the space — which originally featured wood paneled ceilings, wall-to-wall carpeting, a small sofa and an unused fireplace — as "the hangout place" for her kids and their friends.
Reimold and Bloom Family Designs founder Melissa Whitlock managed to transform the space on a $5,000 budget in just over a week. "The first order of business for us was to lighten the space, and so we did that by just a fresh coat of white paint on all of the wood," says Reimold. "That immediately changed the entire look of the room. It went from a storage space to this kind of youthful, bright, airy space where it was inviting for kids."
Swapping out the old carpeting for a brand new rug was another quick-fix that Reimold swears by. When working on a budget, "you may not be able to get new flooring, you may not be able to get all new carpeting, but what you can do is get a very large new area rug," suggest Reimold, who adds that it "sets the tone" of the room. "With a kid space, this is where you can do a more fun and funky pattern." The one they opted for is a navy blue and white Chevron rug, which they chose for its neutral and youthful color palette.
Another of Reimold's quick tips for transforming a space is swapping out light fixtures. "We utilized funding for an electrician to do that because we're creative people, but we're not necessarily handy people," she says with a laugh.
"I think sometimes people overlook the importance of a good handyman," says Reimold, who suggests budgeting for professionals when it comes to installing lighting or built-in shelving.
"We did a lot of built-ins," explains Reimold. "They had a lot of angled walls. A lot of these kinds of attic spaces have short walls or the angles are just odd." Built-ins are a great way to maximize the use of those spaces, says the HGTV stylist, who had a Lenny & Jenny desk built along one of the shorter walls. "It's a great space for learning, distance learning, Zoom calls and homework."
One of the priorities in remodeling the space was for the teenagers to be able to have sleepovers and move nights with friends, which led Reimold and Whitlock to the navy blue Wayfair fold-out couches which convert into extra beds.
"I think when you are designing these big spaces, you have to keep in mind functional design. You need a place to hide your toys and hide your crafts and things like that, but you want to hang out in there as well," says Reimold. "As a mom, you want it to [be easy to] put it back together, so we got a lot of neat little storage bins from HomeGoods."
Bins, as well as smaller accents like pillows and plants, can completely transform a room, says Reimold, whose go-to formula for throw pillows is "a bold print, then a neutral and then maybe a smaller accent pillow that kind of coordinates."
"I think those small accents are equally as important because if you just have a great white space, that's great, but how are you accenting it?" she says. Curtains are also a quick way to add "texture and softness to the room," she shares.
Speaking of the co-design, Whitlock says she's gratified that "this space is now being used for schoolwork, sleepovers, and even the family's ministry work. But most importantly, the kids are hanging out together again because they now have the space to do so!"
"It far surpassed anything that I had hoped for," mom Lindsey says of the makeover. "It is just stunning. And yet it's just welcoming at the same time. It's kind of a little haven that we have now."