Cutting Clutter for a Fresh Start After Cancer

By Mitchell Parker of Houzz

While undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer, interior designer Sarah Stacey’s mother-in-law made a decision to edit down her life and get more enjoyment out of her home. “She had been living with boxes for years after downsizing and realized she wasn’t going to live forever, so she wanted to surround herself with the things she loved,” Stacey says.

After recovering from successful treatments, she approached her daughter-in-law for help revamping her living space, which was piled high with boxes and cookbooks. Stacey’s space planning proved the most beneficial, creating a bright and open layout filled with her mother-in-law’s original midcentury furnishings.

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Stacey created a half wall so the piano wouldn’t have to sit against an exterior wall, where moisture and temperature changes might have caused tuning problems. “It’s more applicable to older homes, but just to be safe,” she says.

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The living room opens to this dining room. Originally, Stacey’s mother-in-law wanted the reading nook in the dining space and the dining table near the window by the Eames lounge chair. “It would have looked totally different. She benefited the most from space planning, I think,” Stacey says.

Cats had torn up the dining chairs, so Stacey had them re-corded and had the table refinished. “She had some great pieces that I was able to work with,” she says. “I just had to finish things off and bring everything together.”

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