The House on Joy Street: Renovating the One that Started It All

The home I’m sharing with you today is the one that started it all…the house on Joy Street. My husband and I bought this property when I started at a law firm in 2006, and it was our first ever home purchase. 

After several years of practicing law, I wanted a change. I knew I wanted to pursue interior design on the side, but I was still practicing law, so I didn’t want my design business to have my own name. My husband had the great idea to use our street name (he’s a keeper), and now, Joy Street Design is celebrating its 10th anniversary!

 Joy has become the foundation of our company’s soul, from infusing lively color into the homes we design to the way we make projects fun for our clients. Joy is so much a part of us, and so natural too, that I’m still amazed that we picked this house on this street. Call it fate.

Meet the House on Joy Street

This 1999 home is located in quirky Bernal Heights and has only had one other owner. It’s super San Franciscan in that it’s built on stairs, so you can’t access the house from the street. You have to travel up 38 steps to get to the front door. Yes, I counted. Many times, and usually when carrying heavy groceries. (Life before grocery delivery was rough, right?)

family home bernal heights ca living room bay windows
Before: Living room on the main floor…and in the treetops!

 At the time, the home was only 7 years old, so there wasn’t much that originally needed to be done. We mainly added minor design elements in the beginning, like custom shelving, new paint, etc.  

bernal heights family home refresh before empty shelves fireplace living room
Custom shelving I built by hand one weekend during my attorney days.

Five years later (2011), we moved and converted the house to a rental. For the last 10 years, it has been home to a half-dozen or so renters, and it’s safe to say it was showing its age.

Then, of course, the pandemic arrived in 2020, and it has been empty ever since. Like many homeowners these past couple years, this felt like the perfect time to make some updates. We were also considering another move, to open a second Joy Street HQ in Atlanta (which we did late 2021!), so it made sense to renovate the home and sell it first. I have to admit, it was bittersweet to sell a home with such a special place in our hearts… 

…but when you see the before and after photos, I think you’ll agree that the results are anything but sad. This is a home infused with as much joy as its namesake. So pour yourself a drink and step inside, because this little piece of Joy Street history deserves a toast. 

The House on Joy Street: Kitchen Renovation

before kitchen bernal heights oak cabinets needs renovation dated two sinks
Before: The House on Joy Street in Bernal Heights

To be fair, the original kitchen wasn’t all bad, minus that dated ‘90s honey oak. It was definitely progressive with its island and two sinks, and you know I won’t say no to a built-in wine cabinet either. But overall, it was definitely made for a different era of living. Now, families want a place to gather and sit in the kitchen. Plus, having a sink in front of the refrigerator wasn’t functional. Just ask my husband.

So we completely renovated it, and now it’s nearly unrecognizable…

after kitchen renovation bernal heightswhite countertops blue fireclay tile vertical oak range hood open shelving

We left the layout the same and added all new cabinetry that goes up to the ceiling. This makes the ceiling feel higher and offers more storage. You’ll also notice that the second sink is gone (the home isn’t really big enough to need two anyway), the appliances are new, and we added a custom range hood in white oak, which looks SO much better.

before after kitchen renovation bernal heights light fresh open joy street design

We added fresh color with this beautiful Fireclay tile in ocean blue, and modernized it with black hardware and white countertops. We also installed exposed shelving to help the space feel more open and spacious. 

light bright white kitchen bernal heights comfortable family home joy street design

Yep, there is now seating for two at the island. Bernal Heights is a family-friendly place, so it’s now perfect for a couple with young kids or really any couple who loves to entertain. 

The House on Joy Street: Two Bathroom Renovations

joy street design before and after bathroom renovation blue tiles fun pattern matte black hardware

If this before and after view is confusing, that’s because we completely changed the layout to modernize it. Now, the shower is against the back wall, with the vanity closer to the door. We also changed the location of the door to make it accessible to both guest bedrooms, which is ideal for a house with kids.

joy street design before and after bathroom renovation green vertical subway tile honeycomb floor joy street design

In the primary bathroom, we also changed the layout but converted the bathtub to a single large shower. Also, would you look at this stunning, joyful Fireclay tile with accent niches??

colorful tile inspiration light dark blue grassy green vertical layout joy street design atl ca

 This is how you make classic subway tile more fun and creative. Yes.

The House on Joy Street: The Family Room & Upstairs Loft 

joy street design family room decorating orange and blue white

This family room is a great space and didn’t need any updating at all, so we styled the shelves and added furniture so that the future family could envision themselves in the space. However… 

joy street design bernal heights home loft bright spacious inviting

In the upstairs loft, we did make some impactful changes. We added a wall and closet to create a proper bedroom instead of just a lounge area. This not only increased property value (who doesn’t want that?), but I can already imagine the future family fighting over it… this room has the best views in the house! 

And there you have it. A new era for the House on Joy Street (it sold to a great family!) at the same time as we embark on a new era for JSD. We’re entering our second decade with not one, but two studios on both coasts and with goals for additional expansion, team growth, and even a future product line. (Shh…that last one’s a secret.)

As we make this journey, I want to thank you for coming along with us on the ride. Whether you’re a client, a fan who likes to DM me on Instagram (you know who you are), or the silent fan who hangs out on our blog not saying a word (we know you’re there), we’re grateful for you. 

Stick with us, and let’s turn up the volume on life. 

— Kelly

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