Remember a while back when I went to Brimfield with my work-friend Erin (and not Sage, it is a touchy subject) and promised that one day I would give you all the chance to see her awesome house? If so, then today is your lucky day! (And if not, then… surprise!)
Erin is fixing up an ugly, scary old home. Let this before picture stand as evidence of what she is dealing with:
Turning THAT into a nice place to live would be impressive enough, but the really impressive thing about Erin’s house makeover is how thrifty she is, and how she gets big style with very little expense. She describes it as “casual throwback with a healthy dose of free and cheap.” It is genius. While Sage and I happily throw money at our problems now and then, Erin and her husband Joel are made of stronger stuff and put in work to make the things they already have awesome. I’ve got a few of her rooms to share with you today, and then will share more down the line.
And yes, it includes a transformed half-bath for only $5. I don’t know how she does it.
The Upstairs Bathroom (not the $5 one):
When Erin first saw the house, the upstairs bathroom was terrifying, with neon pastel walls (apparently that is possible), dated cabinets, and, worst of all, a horrible built-in tub. Here it is in the listing photo:
But she saw the potential, especially with the wainscoting, and dove right in.
The most dramatic transformation was the bathtub. She found a beautiful old shape hiding behind that 1970s box! In her own words:
I could not wait to get my hands on the built in surround and free our precious tub and this was the exact first thing I did when we start doing anything in the bathroom. It was also one of the most gratifying things I’ve done since we moved in a year and a half ago because, well, that thing was nasty!
I bet, but it looks awesome now.
Can you believe that sweet thing was hiding in that room all along! And, yes, that is the iconic IKEA cart added for storage in place of the dated cabinet.
Also the pretty white floors (Lincoln Cottage, Valspar) seem like they could stay, but they are just a temporary solution.
We are looking to do more major floor work in the future so we opted to do just the bare minimum here for now. Sadly, the wood flooring was badly stained from the tar glue and felt that held the awful linoleum in place for so long. To keep it bright, we simply painted them white! Lesson learned from this: It’s really hard to keep white floors looking sparkling clean in a house with pets and small children. Thank goodness for small bathrooms.
She similarly worked with what she had (with selective supplemental purchases) in the rest of the room. The vanity was updated with paint (Indigo Blue, Sherwin Williams), new hardware and faucet, and a $15 rummage sale mirror.
Of course, this is Plaster & Disaster, so Erin wouldn’t try to sneak by without sharing a disaster story with us:
“Funny” story here. I swapped out a sink faucet for the first time ever with this one. I felt really proud – I used plumbers putty and everything! Then I turned the water back on and heard from below “Ah! There’s a waterfall in the kitchen!” Turns out I broke an old pipe will all of the jostling around. We brushed our teeth in the bathtub for a week while we figured out how to fix it.
She also did a personal and functional DIY: installing a picture ledge with thick trim beneath it where she attached mismatched hooks for towels. I think this is really clever and could work in a lot of different styles, so I am not sure why I haven’t seen more of these around Pinterest.
(I’m particularly pleased to share this because we shopped for those hooks together at Brimfield! Thus, I feel I can take credit for pretty much the whole room.)
She claims the room isn’t done (they have plans to tile the floor, put up a shower surround, etc.) but it is looking pretty good for now!
Erin has a baby daughter, Ruby, and an awesome son, Abbott (for whom we bought the toy train accessories at Birmfield). She decorated Ruby’s bedroom spending very little money. Here it was in the listing:
It had a ton of potential with such great light, but it needed a lot of work. They quickly dispensed with the terrible wallpaper:
And then cheered it up with paint. She achieves whole-house cohesion and also saves a ton of money on paint by using the same colors throughout: Sea Salt on the walls and Bohemian Lace on the doors/trim, both by Sherwin Williams.
She then decorated with what she had:
Many things we already had were hand-me-downs from past homes and from Abbott’s nursery. Because we opted not to find out the gender of our first child, Abbott, we had a lot of gender-neutral items. Even though we knew well in advance this time that we were having a girl, it still just seemed right to keep the feel of this room consistent with the rest of the house. Items in here are a mix of old, family, crafty, free and gifts. The armoire and dresser/changing table is a pass-down from my grandparents, the crib was Abbott’s, the book holder was a gift from my sister, and the rug was free.
And what was the big splurge that made the room?
The small side table is a $5 table we painted (Indigo Blue by Sherwin Williams – the same as the vanity in the bathroom) and switched out the knob for one of those gemstone/gold foiled items I found on clearance at Home Goods.
The $5 Half-Bath:
Most of these old homes in need of a makeover have some “head scratching” moments, and Erin’s house certainly isn’t the exception. It is actually one of the more extreme cases. Take this room as proof, which is right off of the kitchen:
Confused? Erin was, too:
This room is so awkward. Is it a pantry with a toilet in it? Is it a bathroom with too many cabinets? When we first looked at the house, the room was dark, hard to move around in and was a reminder of how much work was needed… BUT IT WAS ON THE FIRST FLOOR. I knew that it may be a pantry with a toilet, but at least it was a pantry with a toilet that didn’t require going upstairs to use the bathroom.
Sold. They took down the cabinets, fixed and painted the walls, took up the linoleum floor, painted the wood underneath black (having learned the lesson on white floors), painted the old light fixture, and replaced the broken light bulb with a new one.
Joel did this room in it’s entirety (aside from the light that I spent 15 minutes painting and replacing the bulb) as a birthday request last year and honestly it was probably one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. Once those cabinets were down, there was so much room! Light! A real wall!
It turned into a totally adorable and pretty little room:
Since we used the paint we already had for the rest of the house, all in all this room cost $5 for the light bulb.
Thanks for checking out Erin’s house! What do you think? Could you do makeovers with this little spending? Would you consider a whole house wall color (that wasn’t a white/neutral)? I love the idea, but I fear that I am too fickle to commit to one crazy wall color alone… I need them all.