The pandemic was a boom time for home remodeling

LAKE STEVENS – In February, interior designer Kelly DuByne’s renovation calendar for 2022 was already fully booked.

“When COVID-19 got here, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised,” said DuByne, owner and lead designer of Distinctive Interior Designs in Lake Stevens. “The rest of 2020 has been very busy, as has 2021, and now as we head into 2022 we are insanely busy.”

Your Snohomish County clients aren’t the only ones booking remodeling left and right: home renovations are booming in the US right now. A recent survey by online remodeling platform Houzz found that in our third year with COVID-19, we’re still renovating our homes in record numbers.

From kitchen refreshes and yard makeovers to bathroom and laundry room makeovers, we renovate our homes — because that’s where we’re stuck.

In the 2021 Houzz & Home study, 44% of Americans said they’ve always wanted to remodel their homes and now actually have the time to do so. Another 36% said they now have the financial means. And 18% of homeowners said their renovations were inspired by lifestyle changes.

Distinctive Interior Designs specializes in home renovations – Lake Stevens is recognized by Houzz for their kitchen and bathroom renovations.

We asked DuByne to share two pandemic projects her company completed last year for Lake Stevens residents Shelly Henderson and Mary Beth Kurtenbach.

Shelly Henderson’s Rambler was built in 1992. The Hendersons moved into the 1,148-square-foot home in 1998.

Henderson commissioned DuByne to redecorate the living room in 2018. The designer found new sofas, curtains, cushions, a rug, a sculpture, vases, candles, a mirror and a ladder bookcase to enliven the space.

Three years later it was time to hire DuByne again to renovate two bathrooms and refresh the kitchen and dining room.

Both remodeled bathrooms feature three patterned tiles — classic subway, river pebble, and sandy porcelain — but they’re laid in different ways, so each space has continuity and contrast at the same time. One bathroom got a new tub, the other a walk-in shower with two shower heads. Each room has an individual vanity with white quartz countertops.

In the kitchen, the lower cabinets were painted blue to add a pop of color, while the cherry red upper cabinets were painted white. A gray quartz countertop is complemented by a gray and white backsplash. An undermount sink and faucet were also installed. A new microwave and stove were ordered.

Next door, in the dining room, a wall-mounted buffet makes for a dinner party upgrade and offers more storage space in the kitchen. Interestingly, alder floating shelves have been added above the buffet.

“Our kitchen is small, so we’ve always stored all of our kitchen appliances in the garage,” said Henderson, director of brand strategy and communications at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland. “Can you imagine, ‘Hey, can you get the air fryer? can you get the blender Can you get the Pyrex casserole dish?’

“My dream was to renovate the kitchen, but given the budget and time commitment, it just didn’t make sense. Kelly helped us with an upgrade with additional storage.”

Mary Beth Kurtenbach’s split level was built in 1978. The Kurtenbachs bought the 2,438-square-foot home in 1993.

Kurtenbach has been advising DuByne on conversion projects for 15 years. With the pandemic on, she knew it was time to let DuByne renovate the bathroom and kitchen.

“We were freaking out in our house,” said Kurtenbach, a music teacher at Stevens Creek Elementary School. “The kitchen was ugly, the bathroom was ugly. I was just so fed up.”

In the kitchen, a peninsula was removed to make room for a buffet. The buffet is crowned with a natural stone quartzite worktop. White Spanish tiles, intended as a backsplash, now extend from the buffet to the ceiling. There was a false ceiling in the kitchen – nothing more. A desk was turned into a pantry. There’s a lot more light: a new light fixture over the sink, light bands under floating shelves, and step lights under the cabinets. A maple dining table with enough leaves for 14 people was ordered.

In the bathroom, the vanity now has custom cabinetry and a green soapstone countertop. A marbled light brown and red linoleum covering covers the floor. A new toilet is installed, but the next thing missing is the bath and shower.

“I just love remodeling,” DuByne said. “I love it when it’s ripped out and demonstrated and then we can start over and make it a new space for the client.”

She founded Distinctive Interior Designs in 1995. Her company has helped hundreds of clients since then, but DuByne still occasionally enrolls in design classes to further learn the craft.

“It was a learning and a work in progress,” she said.

As a certified color specialist, DuByne was also asked by The Daily Herald to consider Pantone’s color of the year. Working with color is DuByne’s favorite thing about her job. Her motto is “live colorfully”.

We have this Houzz poll of 70,000 Americans, but what about the numbers here? DuByne can give us a snapshot of Snohomish County.

In 2020, Distinctive Interior Design business grew 21%. In 2021, it increased by another 37%. And a booked calendar for 2022 means an even larger percentage of customers this year.

“There’s so much interest in conversions right now,” DuByne said. “They realize they want to transform their home because they spend so much time there.”

More information

Distinctive Interior Designs is a Lake Stevens home renovation company known for their bathroom and kitchen remodeling. It also offers space planning, color consultation and shopping services. Call 425-238-3678 or email for more information.

Design tips from Kelly DuByne

Quartz is queen. Homeowners and designers alike turn to quartz countertops for their beautiful colors and patterns. They are easy to care for. Unlike granite and marble, they never need to be sealed. They are non-absorbent which means they resist stains and won’t harbor bacteria.

Mix shapes in a space. Let’s say you’re renovating your bathroom: If you have a lot of sharp edges – maybe square tiles on the floor or in the shower and a rectangular vanity – then soften those corners with a round mirror, a curved faucet or an oval sink.

Paint your ceiling white. Whether you’re redecorating or renovating a room, you want all of those colorful new changes in your space to stand out. You can enhance the effect by painting your ceiling white. Also: if your wall is a different color than your ceiling, it will add contrast.

Match the furnishings in a room. The color of your fittings and hardware should match. If it’s a bathroom, these are the faucet, showerhead, mirror, and cabinet handles. Popular finishes are bronze, gold, black and nickel.

Don’t be afraid to repeat materials. If you have selected different tiles for one room and laid them out in a pattern, be bold and lay them out differently in another room. This practice brings continuity and contrast – which makes a space more interesting.

Washington North Coast Magazine

This article appears in the Spring issue of Washington North Coast Magazine, a supplement to the Daily Herald. Explore counties of Snohomish and Iceland with each quarterly magazine. Each issue costs $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four issues for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or visit for more information.


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