Design Bar extended

For Natalie McCluskey, remodeling her home was much more than a labor of love.  She proudly calls it “the best education of my life.”

Natalie, a designer whose business is called Paradise Design and Consulting, bought her home along the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt in 2015.  She originally planned to remodel the house, which was built in 1973, and then sell it.  But that changed as the remodeling process progressed.

“The more blood, sweat and tears I poured into it,” Natalie says, “the more I fell in love with it.  I just couldn’t sell it.”

Natalie had designed restaurants, still the core of her design consulting business, and had also been involved in scores of interior design projects.  But she had never remodeled a house … until two years ago when she served as her own general contractor.

The first striking feature that stands out when entering Natalie’s home is the vaulted, multi-tiered ceiling in the front room.  Natural light combines with LED lighting to give the entire area a soothing glow.

Returning to eye-level, Natalie removed a wall at the end of a long, wide hallway so the greenbelt can be seen through a patio door while still standing in the entryway.

Like most of the houses in the Laguna San Juan neighborhood, Natalie’s 2,140-square foot home included four atriums when she purchased the house from a family estate.  Because atriums can’t be calculated into the square footage of a house, when she had them removed it expanded her home by 240-square feet.

Another original feature found in homes throughout the walled community was a fireplace built into the middle of front rooms.  However, Natalie’s fully-functioning fireplace takes up most of one of the front room walls.  She had a stunning contemporary finish applied on its bricks and added a sleek natural-wood mantel, so the fireplace looks more like a piece of sculpture than what Natalie says she uses to heat the house in the winter.

The house is “gorgeous.” Soft colors illuminated by different tones of LED lighting and modern, low-profile furniture not only create a total contemporary environment, they also reflect a feminine touch, impeccable taste and someone who has a gift for design.

As she glances around the blended kitchen/dining area, she says: “I think it all has a positive aura.” And she’s right.

When it comes to enjoying certain rooms of the house, Natalie, who shares her home with her two Corgis, “Willow” and “Delta,” gravitates to her spacious kitchen.  But it’s the master bedroom with a huge walk-in closet that she calls, “My sanctuary.”

Taking on the job as general contractor wasn’t easy.  Natalie recalls there were times when it was tough coordinating the various vendors’ schedules.   She also recounts, not so fondly, working long days and nights in the middle of summer’s sweltering heat. “I have some really amazing friends who helped push me through it to finish,” she says.

But she’s not quite finished.  There’s still the garage and the Ramada area in the back yard overlooking the greenbelt that both need to be completed.   And until she’s ready to resume work on the house, Natalie says her home is “everything I dreamed it would be.”

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