Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

When her last child graduated from college, Ingrid Meenen did something she had been wanting to do for 20 years — renovate the first floor of her Upper St. Clair home.

photos by Erin Alvarez Photography

For Ingrid Meenen, her dream first-floor renovation started cooking in the kitchen — and grew from there.

Meenen lives in Upper St. Clair with her husband and, for years, her focus was on raising her three children. After her last child graduated from college, Meenen turned her attention to renovating her home, something she had wanted to do since she first moved in more than 20 years ago.

“I’ve had every intention of staying here and not downsizing, and I wanted a space for the kids to come home and bring their families,” Meenen says. “It was the perfect time.”

The renovations began last summer with Lisa Scalo McMenamin of Canonsburg-based LSM Interior Design and contractor Dante Oliverio of Peerless Renovations LLC.

To increase the amount of space, Meenen’s kitchen was expanded over her driveway. Beams were added to make the ceiling higher, and a 6-foot by 6-foot window was installed to open the kitchen up to the outdoors and allow more natural light to flow into the room.

“I absolutely love my huge window in the kitchen,” Meenen says. “The window lets in more light and makes it more cheerful.”

Other additions included a new kitchen island that seats four people, Taj Mahal Quartzite countertops and a chevron-patterned New Ravenna-brand tile backsplash. White cabinets add to the brightness of the room.

Meenen also wanted to create a space in the kitchen just for her husband, who enjoys making protein shakes every morning. The space now includes refrigeration drawers for storing ingredients and a hidden garage for the blender.

One of the renovation's biggest changes came via removing the wall between the kitchen and family room, creating one cohesive space.

“For holidays, the entertaining space just wasn’t right,” Meenen says. “By opening up some walls and redoing it, it made all the difference in the world.”

One of Meenen’s favorite things about her renovated family room is the German Smear-style fireplace facade featuring white-washed bricks with antique corbels holding up the mantel. White wainscoting in Benjamin Moore “Chantilly Lace” also was added to the walls.

From the start, Meenen’s vision included a blue-and-white color palette. 

“She has beautiful gardens out back, and we used lots of blue and white, so when she brings cuttings in, she has a neutral palette and she can mix it with colors like yellows and pinks,” Scalo McMenamin says. “It’s a calming color palette and she loved it, and it worked well with everything we tried to accomplish.”

Two pieces of artwork that hang on Meenen’s wall match the family room’s blue-and-white color scheme. This art is particularly special to Meenen because it was created by one of her tennis teammates.

“I just love the fact that I have art from a friend that ties in with all of that,” Meenen says. “There’s little pieces here and there that are nods to certain people and parts of my life, and that’s kind of fun, too.”  

Hardwood floors were added to the kitchen and family room, and Meenen decided to extend them throughout the entire first floor.

“I hadn’t thought about redoing the foyer or powder room, but once you see a vision that looks great, to stop halfway is diminishing the effect of the project,” she says.

The powder room received a complete upgrade, including a new vanity and walls covered in grasscloth wallpaper. Gold-accented sconces by designer Kelly Wearstler add a modern touch.

Besides the white wainscotting added to the foyer walls, the updates included a new stair runner.

“I would say just in general, the overall theme is old world, but modern,” Meenen says. “It just creates the perfect feel in here. Comfortable and upscale, but friendly.”

Categories: Nest