Meet the Faces Behind Our Renovation Issue

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By Dwell
The writers and photographers that made our September 2016 issue possible.
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Sharyn Cairns 

Photographer Sharyn Cairns captured the Edwardian house of Kate Tucker and Tom Crago that was overhauled by Nest Architects in Melbourne, Australia. "It was great to see the clever use of space on this unusual plot of land," says Cairns, who is based nearby. "The kitchen and living room now take in lovely views of the garden." Cairns specializes in food, interiors, and lifestyle shoots and authored Perfect Imperfect, an exploration of the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi. 

If you could renovate one thing in your house, what would it be?

 "This would not be a small undertaking, but I would love to purchase the apartment next to mine and join the two into one."


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David Hay

Based in New York, David Hay is a playwright and cultural critic. A story he wrote titled "The Anti-Condo" was featured in the inaugural issue of Dwell in October 2000. Back then, he recalls, "I was completing a 10-year restoration of Richard Neutra’s Bonnet House in the Hollywood Hills." When it came time for Hay to tackle a story about Marcel Breuer’s rejuvenated Snower House, he says he was "particularly sympathetic to the challenges facing its new owners."

Biggest renovation epiphany?

"I was initially afraid of adding color to my Neutra house, but visiting some of the architect’s other homes gave me the confidence to highlight interior wall areas using colors he favored."


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Elaine Louie

As a staff member of The New York Times for many years, Elaine Louie contributed to the Home, Dining, and Style sections. For this issue, the New York–based writer visited a house in Washington, D.C., renovated by Nader Tehrani. From the street, "it is absolutely discreet," she says, "but when you walk in, you are dazzled by the light streaming in from the southern facade, and by the beautiful woodwork in the staircase that goes up two flights."

Biggest renovation surprise?

"That an architect—in our case, Yann Weymouth—could design a home that was completely ‘us.’ I think having a home designed for yourself is the ultimate indulgence." 

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Mark Mahaney 

Photographer Mark Mahaney works for clients ranging from Nike and Herman Miller to California Sunday and Time. He traveled from the Bay Area to San Marino, California, to visit the creative compound of Mary Blodgett and Carlton Calvin. "Carlton’s collection of photography books was incredible," says Mahaney. "He was gracious enough to offer his guest house to me and my assistant any time we wanted to come back to peruse his library."

Biggest renovation challenge? 

"We bought a midcentury home that wraps around a deck that was completely dry-rotted. We endured about eleven months of efforts to secure a permit—it was worth the wait, though. Having the new deck has completely transformed the whole feel and use of our little house.


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Brooke McGrath 

 Kansas City–based writer and editor Brooke McGrath has covered the home design industry, both in print and online, for the past 10 years. In this issue, she interviewed architect Chris Fein about how he transformed his outdated 1950s family home in Prairie Village, Kansas, into a vibrant showpiece. "I absolutely love Chris’s modern aesthetic and the fact that he isn’t afraid to display bold and quirky art and furniture pieces," she says. 

 If you could renovate one thing in your house, what would it be? 

 "I would blow out our sunroom to make way for a new four-season room or lanai, with transitional style, comfy furniture, a wine station, and a linear fireplace."