A quick glib-kill: this series was a scary one to write because this “budget” space matters so much to me and it’s been really amazing having you guys share your own, similar ventures as well as your ideas and kind words. THANK you. “Good enough” is feeling good enough. In fact, when I put my mind on starting my own Makeover Takeover projects (a huge perk that comes with my job, thanks to an incredibly generous boss), I’m split. On one hand, I’m filled with new ideas (and I’m honestly not sure how much longer the springs in our couch are going to hold up). On the other hand, I think, “but my mom painted that door. It shall never be anything-ever-again but blue.” As piece-meal as this 980-square-feet may be, I’m not sure there’s more to want…though it’s fun to think about.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…THANK YOU, Burnie Bros, for reading and commenting this week. We’ve really entered a new phase in our relationship. And on that note, please join me in the…
First Impression: “Cracked walls and cat pee? We’ll take it!”
Wall-to-wall carpeting was stained by urine and the yellowed walls were cracked in a way I worried meant foundation issues (inspection cleared suspicions). The closet is quite small. So is the room (10’x12′). Upon lifting a corner of the carpet, we discovered (circa 1970s) vinyl linoleum and started praying for more hardwood below. Our prayers were answered…we just had to walk through hell first. The ENTIRE two weeks we had prior to moving in (weeks we thought would be enough time to scrape all popcorn, paint all walls and see all floors refinished) were spent melting and scraping through TWO layers of glued linoleum—Inch. By. Inch.
We sleep (very snuggly) here now. Someone gave me the bed when I was 24 finally broke recently and we found a quick replacement on Craigslist for $75. It’s a full like our last one, but is somehow shorter, so a bit cramped for two women 5’8″ and 5’9″ (Katie would deem it amiss if I didn’t mention she’s an inch taller).
That watercolor is a gift from my artist friend, Ramlah Yavar, as a thank you for posing for her series when I was 23. It’s one of her concept/mini pieces. I love it so much.
The dresser, rug, bedside tables, tension pole lamp and burlwood mirror (not photographed) were Craigslist finds from many years ago and I’m still into them. The bedding, wardrobe rack, cosmos tapestry and ’60s curtains were updates when Katie moved in a few years ago (and the pretty black and white abstract on the dresser is by MaryAnn Puls…a holiday gift from Emily). Prior to that, the room was painted a grassy-green to the same line. Due to curved ceilings (which we love), we’re forced to either paint every surface or color block/create our own paint end-line. Being frugal, we used the new window we discovered in the dining upon moving in (but didn’t need due to new french doors) to replace the janky one and added a sill in attempt to make it slightly more interesting.
I wish we had at least priced out having someone else handle the floor restoration in this room, doing it ourselves delayed EVERYTHING else and lead to a quick burn out. I’m sure it would’ve shot the budget up $10K… but how would I know? Too gung-ho…we didn’t even call. DIYers, do the research, have the numbers and then decide what to take on yourself. When the bed broke, we stuck to the same size (full) because we didn’t want to buy a new mattress. Cheapskates!! It’s time for a queen. It’ll mean having to get creative with bedside tables as the closet door opens toward the bed, very much limiting the width of that 10-foot wall. But there are worse things than a narrow side table. Reusing the dining room’s window in this room saved a few hundred dollars, but it secured the style-decision for several other windows. I wish I had just gone with mullion-free windows across the board. But I’m annoyed by it only .02% of the year, so there’s no chance that’s changing anytime soon. Bedroom Two
Just kidding. That room’s hiding because there’s nothing in there but an elliptical runner. We’re currently trying to dream up a multi-functional office-guest bed-gym space. Elliptical runners are giant eye bullies! HELP?! (Side note: we’re very happy with our $1,250 Nordictrak that folds down and is easy to lift up and out of the way. We just need to figure out the best way to hide it.)
First Impression: “Prison cell with just a dash of rat maze.”
The footprint of this all-beige-tiled, lightless room was 5’x5′ and yet for some reason, had two entrances…meaning two doors that both opened INWARD. If both were open fully, the toilet would be trapped in the corner. There was zero storage. OH, and someone had shoved a towel down the toilet, which we discovered when we flushed for the first time and soiled water poured down the hallway and into the kitchen (thanks, double entrance!). So, this only bathroom was tight, drab AND unusable. Yay! I’ll take two!
First thing: We fixed the layout, closing off the door from the kitchen/utility room and rehanging the remaining door so that it opened outward (not conventional, but you no longer have to dodge doors within the tiny space). We placed the sink between the toilet and tub, collecting all free floor space into one “walkway.” Keeping in mind the house was built in the ’20s, I wanted to make sure the overall design vibe was still classic. A clawfoot tub (the staple of a “classic” bath) and vintage chest-turned-vanity provide visual space beneath surfaces…anything to help fool the eye a bit (though a tad more annoying to keep clean). Our contractor actually gave us that tub after it was left over from another project. He gave us the antique chandelier, too. We just had to refinish both.
A much larger window brightens this sad room…and look, a functioning toilet! We added horizontal beadboard, DIY shelves (made from leftover material from our living room unit), a vanity light (which I’m pretty “meh” about) and a vintage mirror found on Etsy. The custom vanity ended up enduring a candle-explosion and had to be painted/stained due to deformation. It was once a very pretty solid wood. A vessel sink maximizes drawer space…but may be a past trend? Once again, you’ll spot cheap faucets from China. The splurge in this room was the hand-poured, cement tile.
I give kudos to Young Velinda for figuring out it was possible to add a built-in cabinet/shelf between wall studs. It’s needed storage and is easy to reach from the tub, so the soaking area remains free of cluttering bath products.
Here’s what cabinet “drawings” looked like in these pre-designer days:
Guys, clawfoot tubs are NOT fun for showering. My original shower solution failed! I had an affordable “carousel curtain ring” enclosure (that luckily, Signature Hardware doesn’t sell anymore) because I wanted to have a single curtain instead of multiple trying to avoid water leaking. Multiple curtains are usually necessary for clawfoot shower enclosure designs due to the way they are mounted. You wouldn’t know it since every gorgeous clawfoot you see on Pinterest is photographed either without a curtain or w/ a “sliver of curtain” that would actually result in minor flooding. The track/sliding design of the enclosure I chose was a great solution, in theory…but it rusted! AND the corners were angled vs. rounded, so it was not easy to slide the curtain. Good concept. Bad design. Too cheap. There was once a simple mount on the wall for the handheld piece of my shower to attach, but the gap in the shower curtain and that “showerhead” solution created water leaking onto the wall, which meant a full wipe down after each shower (and begging my roommates to please do the same). As an extra treat, the shower curtain closed in on us from all sides while we rinsed. So for now, as we prep the next solution. WE ONLY BATHE! Not okay. If I repurposed a piece of furniture as a vanity again, I’d probably choose something other than a wood top/surface. And while I love mid-century lines, the style isn’t really this house. I’m not sure I would’ve chosen a different stone/material or color, but I didn’t realize my “splurge” tile would yellow (er, “patina”) overtime/with every reseal (done every couple of years. High maintenance.) Once again, cheap faucets from China failed me. The tub faucet shows a lot of corrosion and the sink faucet, horrible water spots. I get that at that time, I couldn’t spend $500-2K per faucet…but at what price point do these things start working/looking good without looking completely basic? Any better experiences out there?
That’s all 980 square feet! So, now what? As mentioned, a perk of working here at Emily Henderson Design is creative fulfillment that comes from doing Makeover Takeover projects (as examples, here are Jess’, Arlyn’s, Sara’s). But I couldn’t progress to the next chapter of this house without documenting this one, because this is the home the women in my family built! And THAT, I’m proud of…and incredibly content with as is. Any changes from here would just be cherries and ice cream. But what flavor?
Here’s what I’m craving. I don’t need to replace every old street-find with something new. I still like so many of the pieces I was drawn to years ago. But if I did a Makeover Takeover, I’d lean, overall, a bit more into what this house is at its core; an Art Deco-era Mediterranean bungalow.
There’s also a sudden appetite for color… evidence collected from hidden surfaces (in particular the dearly-departed, original plaster fireplace) has revealed there was an outright bloodbath of varying greens in the original design. It’s what inspired the current exterior color (which we so gracefully settled on…real pros!) But I wonder if we’ve “fixated on this verdigris” enough in the current design? I’m having doubts.
What if we kept a lot of what’s here, but leaned a bit more this way…these are the vibes I’m loving, that hint a bit more toward Art Deco and Spanish… with a dose (or more) of green:
image via wescover | design by salt + bonesimage and design via arent & pykeimage via house beautiful | design by studio ashbyimage via est living | design by smart design studio
I’m not saying we end up looking exactly like any of these, but maybe pull in some elements/feels…AND A SHOWER!!? Okay, just a few more:
image via ana degenaar | design by framework studioimage via residence | design by artilleriet studioimage via yatzer | design by takenouchi webbimage and design via bang interiors helsinki
That’s it. We made it, team. Would love to hear what you think still works and what you think should stay moving forward. Drop your good ideas (considerately) in the comments! And now as promised, for better or worse, here are the final numbers…alllllll combined as we look back, we’re standing at just under $55K (holding breath the walls don’t fall down):
Thanks again for joining me for a recap of this journey… really could’ve used your extra hands a few years ago. But, all forgiven. Cheers!
***photography by Veronica Crawford
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