Downsizing? Here's how to edit cherished furnishings for a stylish new beginning

Downsizing is a big move, but as this Texas home shows, with expert help, the results – and the process – can be uplifting

living room with cream walls taupe sofa and mushroom ottoman with striped armchairs pale stone fireplace and texture artwork
(Image credit: Claudia Casbarian for Julie Soefer)

Moving house is stressful at the best of times, but if you're downsizing and preparing for a new chapter with a more compact, easier to manage home, there are often many physical and emotional challenges involved. One of reasons people find it hard to downsize is because they struggle to find an interior design scheme that successfully blends the furnishings they can't bear to part with, alongside newer pieces bought to fit the new house design and lifestyle. 

The owners of this home in River Oaks in Houston, TX, faced exactly this situation. They downsized to the townhouse as a convenient lock-up-and-leave to allow them to spend more time in their properties in Hawaii and California. 

How do you edit down furniture and furnishings from a much larger family home, and how do you give a new home a fresh look while still incorporating cherished belongings? These were the challenges facing the homeowners, who decided to call in expert help. Kiley Jackson and Aileen Warren, co-founders of Jackson Warren Interiors, stepped in, turning a potentially overwhelming downsize into a methodical and liberating process with stunning results. 

Take the tour, as interior designers Kiley and Aileen explain how old family favorites took on a stylish new look in this classic, transitional space

dining room with teal wainscoting and pale wood chairs and buffet with contemporary light

(Image credit: Claudia Casbarian for Julie Soefer)

'Our biggest challenge was incorporating existing items from the family home into the new space, weaving them in with new purchases for a more contemporary and whimsical feel than their previous traditional home had,' says designer Aileen Warren. 'We started by helping the client decide which special pieces to bring to the new house, drew furniture plans for each room to identify the existing and new pieces, and then began the selection process for items that we needed to purchase, which included rugs, furniture, lighting, and art.' 

The design duo's dining room ideas began with a new Oushak rug from Matt Camron. 'We then used the client’s existing Saarinen dining table and stripped and bleached the client’s existing breakfast chairs and had seat cushions made in the same blue and silvery gold Fortuny fabric as the walls. We love the juxtaposition of the mid-century dining table with the upholstered walls.' says Aileen. 'We sourced the antique French buffet and Louis Philippe style mirror from antique stores in Houston, as well as the Italian fluted table lamp.'

kitchen with white cabinetry and island with vintage rug

(Image credit: Claudia Casbarian for Julie Soefer)

Kitchen ideas for the new home showcase a subtle balance between coming up with fresh looks for the cabinetry, which had been installed when the house was built in 2015, and well-loved items from the previous home that still had plenty to offer the new room. Both demonstrate a sustainable approach to the room redesign, and the homeowners were delighted with the design team's painted kitchen cabinet ideas.

'Segreto Finishes dry brushed and edged the kitchen cabinets to add depth and dimension, as well as adding a painted bead detail on the island cabinets and range hood,' explains interior designer Kiley Jackson. 'We placed the client’s existing glass bell pendants from her previous home above the kitchen island, and sourced the antique Persian Mayaler runner from Matt Camron to pull the scheme together and soften the look.'

Pictured from left designers Aileen Warren and Kiley Jackson of Jackson Warren Interiors
Kiley Jackson and Aileen Warren

Founded by designer duo Kiley Jackson (right of picture) and Aileen Warren, Jackson Warren Interiors is a full service interior design firm based between Texas and Alabama. As displayed in this project, they believe that good design should effortlessly mix old and new, while embodying comfort, function, and beauty.

banquette seat in kitchen with blue glazed cabinet and star pendant light with art on wall

(Image credit: Claudia Casbarian for Julie Soefer)

Although this home is smaller than the previous home, there was still space to retain and update the compact and attractive eat-in kitchen. Plenty of storage options help to organize the downsize kitchen, including drawers under the banquette, and shelves in the glazed display cabinet and in the main kitchen cabinets.

'We reupholstered the breakfast banquette cushion in a Holly Hunt Great Outdoors fabric and placed the client’s existing star pendant light above the breakfast table,' adds designer Kiley Jackson. 'The client is an avid needlepointer and we hung her favorite needlework as a collection in the breakfast nook.'

A gallery wall is great way to personalize a new space, and this one creates a link between the old home and the new, a homey touch that makes the space less about size and more about the people who use it. 

living room with pale stone fireplace cream artwork and striped armchairs and mushroom stool

(Image credit: Claudia Casbarian for Julie Soefer)

It was with their living room ideas that Jackson Warren's designers really updated the traditional look of the old family home. Even though they reused a rug, upcycled the drapes and existing chairs, and placed the antique consoles and secretary in a traditional way, the finished effect is fresh and contemporary. 

'We started by using a local finishing company to limewash the stone on the fireplace to make it less yellow and blend better with the walls rather than stand out as a feature,' says Kiley Jackson. 'The client’s existing antique rug in was the jumping off point for the color palette. We added a Samuel & Sons tape trim to the existing silk drapery and reupholstered existing chairs in a Classic Cloth multicolored striped fabric. We sourced the alabaster lamps, Holland & Sherry embroidered pillows, and the whimsical boucle-upholstered mushroom ottoman. Everything lives together happily amongst the client’s antique inlaid secretary and side tables.' 

Aileen adds: 'We absolutely love placing contemporary art within a traditional framework, so one of our favorite elements of this project is the unexpected Donald Martiny art piece above the fireplace in here.'

stairway with cream walls and yellow contemporary bench and bright Hermes scarves in frames

(Image credit: Claudia Casbarian for Julie Soefer)

There are more tales of the unexpected in the staircase ideas, where graphic shapes and bold colors mark a departure in style. 'The clients came from a very traditional home,' says designer Kiley. 'They wanted to take more risks and be more playful, and we wove that modern flair in there in a way that still felt true to them.'

'We added a wool stair runner and hung the client’s Hermes scarf collection up the stairwell,' adds Aileen. 'The sculptural Dmitriy Bandra Ottoman is upholstered in a saffron colored Loro Piana wool. Colorful geometric pillows compliment the bright scarves.' 

The confident look sums up what the designers from Jackson Warren have achieved with their designs. It brings together the old and the new, the quiet warm white walls with the bright ottoman, pillows and scarf collection. 'It's eclectic, yet traditional. Maybe traditional with a twist,' says Aileen. 'There is such an interesting mix of styles in this home it’s hard to put a name on what it is – the client buys what she loves, and she loves a lot of different things!' 

And happily for all involved, the redesigned home is one of those different things that she loves. 

Design: Kiley Jackson and Aileen Warren at Jackson Warren Interiors
Photography: Claudia Casbarian for Julie Soefer
Styling: Jessica Holtam

Karen Darlow

Karen is the houses editor for and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.