It all started with a sofa.
Rebekah Westover, an interior design photographer based in Utah, wasn’t initially planning on a major overhaul of her 3,000-square-foot Orem home. When she redecorated the living room eight years ago, her goal was to pick classic furniture pieces with timeless style. Still, she knew that after plenty of use from three kids and a dog, her old couch could use an update, so when a favorite sofa was put on clearance at Gatehouse No. 1, she had to purchase it. Immediately, the design team at Gatehouse—who Westover considers both colleagues and good friends—added to her to-do list. They suggested a new rug, a smarter layout and a complete furniture overhaul. Then, Westover met with another friend: Steve Tiek, of Tiek Design Group. He suggested some additional changes to the room, including a replacement of what Westover calls “my old ugly river rock fireplace.” Now, the project had grown from a simple sofa purchase to a comprehensive remodel.
“The scope grew and grew, which I was a little nervous about,” she admits. “Now that it’s all done, I am so glad we did this.”
The fresh remodel revamped the home’s underwhelming interiors, adding some much-needed pep. The au courant furniture pieces, all from Gatehouse No. 1, deliver lively shapes and colors to the living room, and the previously clunky fireplace now boasts a sleek yet cozy design. New window treatments from Park City Blind & Design bathe the room in natural light.
Westover says the home’s bold new color palette was developed with the encouragement of her friend Stephanie Holdaway, co-owner of Gatehouse. “It helped to work with someone who knows me really well,” Westover says. Westover’s initial design was “really safe,” defined by neutral tones and a traditional aesthetic. Holdaway urged Westover to ditch the beige and embrace her love of color. “She was pushing me to be authentic,” Westover explains.
Together, the duo picked a blue rug that brightens up the living room and a spunky red fabric for the reupholstered spindle chairs. Mixed metals add a touch of sass, with brass matching Westover’s favorite gold jewelry and pops of black bringing eye-catching contrast to the dining room. Westover craved paint colors that created warmth and coziness. She chose two colors from Benjamin Moore: Gray Mist for the main room and Iced Marble for the entry door. She selected this palette at the recommendation of Rachel Parcell and the team at Alice Lane Interior Design: Both colors were used in Parcell’s home, which Westover photographed for a spectacular feature in Utah Style & Design magazine.
The office redesign resulted from a period of stir-crazy inspiration. “Honestly, when we went into quarantine, I was so bored,” Westover laughs. The room features a moody dark green paint color on the walls, ceiling and baseboard. Westover loves the contrast against the wood floors. She also bought and installed a new mantel and added a mirror inside to create a clever new focal point for the room. “Even though it’s not a real fireplace, I love that it makes the room look a bit more sophisticated,” she says.
Westover is a master of making bargain finds look luxurious. The carefully curated office décor is comprised of items she already owned or purchased secondhand through KSL, estate sales and consignment stores. “I appreciate homes that are collected and not too perfect,” she explains. She also kept and reupholstered the living room’s timeless spool chairs with fabric from Red Fox Furnishings, which delivered a fresh new look without having to buy pricey new furniture. The living room gallery wall, which replaced an outdated plant shelf, displays Westover’s own family photos. She bought the frames secondhand for $1 each and painted them in an antique gel resembling gold leaf.
Westover’s home may be smaller than many of the expansive estates she photographs, but clever design elements make the most of the space. She replaced a tired ceiling fan with a large light fixture and added a dramatic chandelier over the dining room table. (Both are from Hudson Valley Lighting.) The statement lighting combined with oversized furniture paradoxically make the room seem less cramped. “It feels more grand and elevated,” she says. Westover also added a space-expanding mirror above the console, and she replaced ordinary dining chairs with a chic and compact bench. The Gatehouse team helped Westover rethink the living room’s layout, filling out empty space and making the newly replaced fireplace the room’s focal point. These tweaks turned the space from what Westover calls a “pass through room” into a full-blown statement. “Everything’s more cozy, more intimate, more conversational,” she says.
Throughout the home, Westover chose thoughtful details that reflected her taste and interests. She already had an extensive collection of chinoiserie that is now displayed on mantles and tabletops. The collection of coffee table books are both aesthetically pleasing and a reflection of Westover’s inspirations: female artists like Annie Leibovitz, Mary Ellen Mark and Georgia O’Keeffe are prominently featured. Of course, Westover also left room for some more personal collections, including her own photographs, paintings by her father and images from treasured family vacations.
These personal touches are the perfect addition to a home refresh that started off cautiously but now reflects the owner’s vibrant creativity and eclectic taste. Westover recalls a key piece of advice that Holdaway offered during the redesign process: “You don’t have to play it safe in your own home. Just be you.” Now, the photographer who has captured the beauty of some of Utah’s most spectacular homes from behind the camera has a new, magnificent place of her own.