After searching for the perfect home for a year and a half, Kelli Lamb, Editorial Director of Rue Magazine, and her husband Tim could hardly believe their luck when they landed the 1928 Spanish Revival home of their dreams.
While the couple loved the home's original character, updates over the decades didn't quite fit. So, they set out to bring back the charm their century-year-old home deserved.
Gray, wood-look laminate flooring was first on the list to go. Kelli fell for Harbor - an oiled, natural hardwood floor with a smoked treatment that gives it serious warmth and drama. It was the perfect antidote to cold, gray laminate.
Read on for our full interview with Kelli. For more behind-the-scenes of her home (including a peek at her gloriously moody kitchen), pick up a copy of Rue's spring issue!
Tell us about your home. What spoke to you about it?
My husband and I had a lengthy home-buying process — we toured around 70+ houses and made (and lost) offers on twelve. When we first saw this 1928 Spanish Revival home, we were instantly charmed by the original architecture, including hand-hewn beams and Moorish archways. More importantly, the location and the property felt very calm and serene.
We were so discouraged by the real estate market that we joked to our realtor, “sure, we’d love to live there.” We submitted our offer almost as a formality, assuming we’d continue our search the following weekend. After a year and a half of effort, it was kismet that we were finally becoming homeowners AND it was our dream property.
We were excited to be able to make the house our own. There had been quite a few updates over the years, and many of them were not in line with the original architecture. The kitchen and bathrooms had received very modern, sterile updates. The original flooring had been destroyed and was completely covered with a very gray laminate, meant to look like wood. In fact, the first time we stepped inside, our realtor Steve said that the first thing he’d do was put in a beautiful hardwood floor and it’d entirely transform the home. Naturally, that was the first thing we did in our renovation journey!
Working in the design industry, you’re surrounded by inspiration. How do you stay true to your personal style?
Part of my job is reviewing each and every home tour that is submitted to Rue. I see hundreds (thousands?) of photos a week of beautiful, well-designed spaces. I think that when I was first getting started in the industry, I was easily swayed by spaces that were incredibly beautiful and would find myself implementing elements of those spaces into my home. As time has gone on, I’ve been able to differentiate between spaces that are incredibly beautiful and spaces that I would like to live in…it’s taken years to find that confidence!
My husband Tim is an artist and has strong opinions, and I feel that we’ve really dialed in our personal style over the years, but it remained abstract. I called in design help for our own home with Patrick Maziarski of Beau Geste. We were able to tell Patrick what our goals were—aesthetically and functionally—and he translated those goals into concrete design plans. For example, I referenced hotels and bars in Rome and London, while Tim mentioned artists and movies, and the result was an interior that felt original and true to us.
Many people were surprised that, given what I do for a living, I’d work with a designer. I think it should have been expected! My entire career is built on telling stories of beautiful homes and talented designers—I can tell the story, but they’re the ones creating. Throughout the process, Patrick was able to rein in my ideas and ensure I was holding onto my original vision.
What made you choose Harbor? Did you consider other colors?
I initially was drawn to Sisu—the herringbone pattern was stunning, and it felt appropriate for the era our home was built. But we lived with the Stuga samples in our dining room for several weeks before making a decision, and it was clear that Harbor felt most organic and authentic to the space. The home captures morning and evening light equally and seeing how Harbor transformed throughout the day influenced the decision. Though I’m personally drawn to the light oak options, the architecture of the home called for something with more depth and raw texture.
How has your experience been living with an oiled floor?
I’ll admit, I was initially nervous about the care of the floor! We have two older cats, often entertain (and love red wine!), and aren’t “precious” with wear and tear. However, once we applied the Satin Oil, the maintenance has been a breeze. We regularly vacuum and mop with the spray cleaner and the floors look beautiful.
Mostly, we’re in love with how the oiled floor feels underfoot. The texture has an organic warmth and is really comforting—like it’s the flooring that has been here since 1928.
What do you love about hardwood floors versus other options?
We knew that visually, changing the laminate floors would make the biggest impact on the home. And though we knew it was something that had to change, we initially thought we’d wait until we embarked on our kitchen and bathroom renovations. That said, once we were all moved in, we both agreed we couldn’t live with the laminate for long. It felt cheap—we both wore slippers or socks inside because we hated how it felt underfoot.
In our previous rental, there was a dark hardwood floor with a polyurethane finish. They were lovely, but the dark tones with the shiny finish showed every smear or crumb—not great for cats! So we knew something lighter and matte was key for us.
Having a natural, rustic wood floor is perfect for our lifestyle. It feels comforting and is less precious—it will patina over time versus show singular stains or scratches. We’ve been living with the floor for over a year and still regularly comment on how much we love it. Even when I do yoga at home, I find myself admiring at all of the hand-scraped texture instead of focusing on the poses. It’s a truly beautiful material that has brought a lot of warmth into our house.
What are your three best pieces of advice for renovators?
First, don’t feel like you need to rush. As a magazine editor, I felt an immense amount of pressure from the moment we moved in—friends and followers were excited to see what I did with my new home. However, if I had made snap decisions, I would have absolutely backtracked or had regrets. Take time to evaluate what makes the most sense for what you love aesthetically and what works for your home and your family. Pinterest is still a fabulous resource to create mood boards. Save what you love, and then you’ll discover the common thread in each image—that’s what you’re drawn to.
When it comes to flooring, take advantage of Stuga’s samples, and live with them! Move the samples from room to room, see how the light changes the color or texture, and then make your decision. Our homes are meant to be enjoyed long term, not shared on social media as a quick “before and after” and then changed again after that. I think there is value in carefully and thoughtfully creating a space you’ll love.
I’d also suggest interviewing a few contractors/installers. Our homes are sacred spaces, and it’s crucial to have a team that you get along with and are comfortable having in your home and working closely with. We were incredibly lucky—the team at Meneses Construction was incredible. Trustworthy, talented, and sensitive to the fact that this was our first renovation. I attribute a lot of the success to their skills!