Growing up, Holly Reynolds dreamed of a career in interior design or architecture. She remembers begging her mother to buy house-plan books at the grocery checkout line so she could take them home and draw furniture in the floor plans.
A self-described “bad artist,” she would later decide she wasn’t suited for a design career, so she became a teacher instead, and then a stay-at-home mom.
Little did she know that her childhood dream would eventually come true — thanks in part to her husband, Anthony.
Anthony Reynolds started out in construction as a house framer, learning from his grandfather, who was a builder. He transitioned to general contracting and landed at a Lancaster-based home renovation company, where he eventually became a partner.
He often would come home and ask for Holly’s opinion or advice on a particular project. Soon, her natural eye for design earned her a job at the company, too.
The couple decided to strike out on their own two years ago, launching Harmony Redesign in October 2018. So far, their sweet spot has been breathing new life into Lancaster city homes.
“People say, ‘Oh, you flip houses. We don’t like to say that. We truly do renovate them,” Holly says. “Essentially, people are getting a brand new house in the shell of an old house.”
For their own house, however, they decided to build from the ground up in 2014, in what they refer to as their first project together.
Their two-story home on nearly 2.5 acres in Conestoga Township is spacious and bright, with modern farmhouse touches. A rear extension houses in-law quarters for Holly’s parents.
One thing you won’t find in the Reynolds’ home — even with two teenage daughters — is a lot of clutter. Or decorations. The architectural features, finishes and fixtures are the real stars.
“We tried to pick things here that we knew we weren’t going to get tired of,” Holly says. “I really like things that are pretty, but they also have to be functional.”
Favorite room: The kitchen
The kitchen may be the heart of a home, but in the Reynolds’ case they literally designed their home around it, so much so that it offers the best view in the house — a scenic vista from a two-story wall of windows that puts the standard kitchen-sink window to shame.
“I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It just seems to be where everybody congregates,” Holly says “Natural light is very important to me.”
Since the sun travels around the front of the house, they never have to worry about harsh direct sunlight through the north-facing kitchen windows. That makes the room a perfect gathering spot any time of day.
Not surprisingly, the large square island takes center stage. It’s a place to eat meals, mull the latest renovation project over a cup of coffee, or gather with friends and family.
That island is also the embodiment of Holly’s “pretty and functional” philosophy. Aside from its functional surface, the island houses hidden cabinet storage, a custom paper towel holder and a microwave drawer.
Holly notes that the microwave drawer addresses a question that often pops up when homeowners opt for a decorative range hood: Where do you put the space-hogging microwave?
The countertop wasn’t an option for Holly and Anthony, whose long stretch of quartz is nearly bare. Glass-fronted cabinets offer a peak at neatly organized dishes.
“It just makes me feel better when my kitchen is nice and clean and organized,” Holly says.
A small corner pantry with open shelving solves the problem of where to store — and use — all those little appliances that tend to clutter up kitchen counters, including the toaster, coffeemaker and blender.
Among other notable features in the kitchen: custom cabinetry by Stoltzfus Home Improvement, a hidden-panel dishwasher and pendant lights that hang 18 feet from the lofted ceiling. Because of their length, the downrods for the pendants cost more than the lights themselves.
And one last piece of beauty and function: a pot filler. The fixture adds a touch of useful elegance behind the range and, Anthony notes, it’s a fairly budget-friendly addition when it can be connected to the cold water line of a refrigerator.
“It’s not a major, major upgrade to add one of these,” he says.
Having a kitchen that is both functional and pretty isn’t just a personal preference for Holly and Anthony, who make a living buying, renovating and reselling homes. It’s also practical.
“You’re never going to go wrong investing in your kitchen,” Holly says.