“For me, what makes a home is the people in it,” says Taraji P. Henson (we couldn’t agree more). To prove this point, the actress partnered with Houzz as the latest participant in the home renovation platform's My Houzz series (former subjects include Kate Upton, Ashton Kutcher, and Kristen Bell), renovating her stepmother’s Washington, D.C., area home.
Henson met her stepmother Angie when she was 16 and "loved her right away. She made my dad a better man,” she says.
After a few years together, Angie and Henson’s father bought a home in Maryland, which, the actress recalled, “was the place where everybody gathered.”
Sadly, in 2006, Henson’s father away, leaving her stepmother with the house—which had fallen into rough shape over the past 13 years.
On a recent visit, Henson opened a drawer in the kitchen to see it fall apart in her hands. She knew it was time for a renovation. “I just want to bring more life and light into that house,” Henson says. “We want to make the house hers, and still keep my dad in it.”
The actress worked with designer Stephanie Gamble, who helped translate Angie’s “traditional, classic with hints of modern” style—and love of red!—into a new design scheme. Since she couldn’t be in town for the entire process, Henson delegated her cousin Nikki as her on-the-ground , accompanying Gamble throughout the renovation (and even delivering the first demo strikes!).
First, Gamble knocked down the wall between the kitchen and living room to create an open concept space better suited to entertaining, and installed a French door for added light.
She redid the kitchen in a two-tone scheme, where white upper cabinets add lightness while lower cabinets in a dark gray keep the space grounded. Plus, new appliances make cooking (a favorite pastime of Angie's) much more appealing.
In the dining room, Gamble installed grasscloth wallpaper for texture and found a statement chandelier (using Houzz’s Visual Match tool) that reminded Henson of her father’s metalwork.
There’s another ode to Henson’s father in the living room, where Gamble designed around a coffee table he made from a piece of driftwood and incorporated several of his art pieces.
In the end, the renovation transformed a tired, dreary space into a bright, cozy, functional home—with a bold, red front door. "It's a whole brand new house," Henson said through tears when she first saw the finished product.
Angie was similarly thrilled: "Oh, this is so pretty," she exclaimed on her first look at the space. "I love everything."
“She’s never going to leave home,” joked Henson.
Ultimately, the whole project was an ode to Henson’s father, who she recalled, “always told me, ‘if you’ve been blessed, you should bless other people.’”
And what better way to do that than with the gift of a fresh space? To Henson, if was the perfect way to give back to her stepmother and show how much she means to her. “The people that I love, I really love, and they know it,” Henson explains. Color us convinced.
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