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Design

The No-Reno House That Looks Completely Renovated

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Remember two weeks ago when we shared the tour of this kitchen and laundry room? And everyone LOVED it (including us). WELL, that house is back, and today we’re sharing the rest of it.

If you missed the last post, you should 100% go check it out, but here’s the quick recap – Allison and Benjamin bought this cute home back in 2018. Over the course of a year they freshened the whole place up without ripping out any flooring or tearing down a single wall. And yet, through the magic of paint, wallpaper, new hardware, beautiful vintage pieces, and hard work, they managed to give new life to their home. I think what we all collectively love so much about this home is the fact that Allison and Benjamin worked with what the house already had, versus starting over. I feel like there’s this standard in the design world that when a house is bought the new owners are expected to have all these plans for how they want to change the property they’ve just purchased. But, not only is that not financially viable for every home buyer, it’s not always necessary. Some homes are great as is, and just need some tender love and care to really shine.

Allison was once again kind enough to chat we me, interview style, about her home transformation. And just like last time, I’ll be in italics (mostly for the cool factor, but also to make it clear who’s “speaking”). Let’s get into it…

I’ll start by saying that your home already some very cute features, and good bones (like the parquet style floor in the entry). But, even with those moments considered, you didn’t change much in terms of structure in the home. Could you elaborate on why you kept so much of the homes original architecture? Was that a stylistic decision to keep as much of the original character of the home intact, or a budgetary decision?

Hot Tip

Old, dark wood paneling on the walls or ceilings making a room feel too heavy? A fresh coat of white paint will brighten the space, while still keeping the character and texture of the paneling.

It was a bit of both! The house has so many lovely features that are original to the house that I wouldn’t have changed if you had paid me, like the scalloped vent over the stove in our kitchen that I am OBSESSED with. I had initially wanted to renovate the bathrooms. But to do them the way I really wanted to was decidedly out of our budget.

Let’s jump right into those next then, because they are two of my favorite moments in the house. Both bathrooms are really extraordinary – any story to deciding the stylistic direction behind either of them?

I think the biggest challenge in the home was figuring out how to give the original tile in the bathrooms new life

When we first moved in I looked into renovating both the master and guest bathroom, but realized it was not in the budget (and wouldn’t be for a while). I had wanted to open up the master bedroom to the master bathroom, which you have to enter via the hall, to make it en suite. But to do it how I wanted it would have been well over $50k. So I thought, “how can I make these beautiful, feel more functional, and bring new life to the original tiles?”

This is what the master bathroom looks like now (above). I almost put up chinoiserie wallpaper, which would have been gorgeous, but there is no exhaust fan in there so it would have been a mess (wallpaper and moisture don’t mix – but if you get a good fan you can do it). My sister suggested painting the walls blue to compliment the blue tile. It was a bold decision, but I experimented with it, and ended up using Farrow and Ball Inchyra Blue. I absolutely love it.

We think that keeping things tonal (with a moody element) was the way to go with that lighter blue tile. Now it looks sophisticated and modern but still looks like it belongs in her wonderfully vintage home.

I was not very fond of the yellow tile in the guest bathroom at first, but I really love it now with the red and white ticking wallpaper. I used Farrow and Ball Red Earth on the doors and molding and it is a very happy combination. I folded up a yellow scarf I found at St. Vincent De Paul’s thrift store and nailed it up to make a valance. I also had this one roll of vintage Schumacher chinois wallpaper that I was dying to use but didn’t have enough for the whole room so I put it on the wall behind the toilet, and it seems to work together!

These two bathrooms were my least favorite rooms in the house, and they took the most creative juices to get them right. But now I love them so much that I don’t think I’ll ever want to renovate!

Hot Tip

Mixing wallpaper patterns is the same as pillows or bedding - Make sure to vary the pattern scale so they don't visually compete. Allison did it perfectly with these two.

One of the changes that was made by the real estate agents to prepare for the sale was to remove the original sink in the guest bathroom (so sad) and replace it with an IKEA cabinet. I found a vintage pedestal sink with a gorgeous vintage brass faucet on Craigslist for $200, and it made all the difference in the world.

When you moved into the home did you have a budget in mind for any of the improvements you wanted to implement? And do you mind sharing what that was?

Hot Tip

If you have wall to wall carpet in your home or rental that you're not a fan of, but can't remove, just throw another rug right over it. A layered rug will steal the attention of the eye. Just make sure the piles are different. A flat weave or big fluffy flokati rug are good options - just choose something with big contrast from the traditional pile of wall to wall carpet.

I did not have a specific number. In the end, I think we spent about $20k, give or take. That included the appliances in the kitchen, labor to paint and install wallpaper, all the hardware, and supplies for the entire home.

What aspects of your updates do you think made the biggest impact throughout the house?

Our house had been in one family since it was built in 1939, which is why so many of the original features were still intact (like the cute built-ins in the dining room). We didn’t want to lose those. In the end, I think putting colors and patterns on the walls made the biggest impact, without sacrificing any of the original character.

Hot Tip

Try matching your trim to a tone in your wallpaper (other than white) for a bold, yet pulled together look.

I love color so much and it never ceases to amaze me how it can transform a space. Choosing the right color, though, is quite a challenge and can drive a person completely insane. But when you finally find the right one, it’s like angels singing!

Where did you source all your amazing wallpapers from, and what paint colors have you used throughout the house?

I looked at SO MUCH WALLPAPER. I was dreaming wallpaper by the end of it. wallpaperdirect.com and decoratorsbest.com are my go-to sources. They’ve got pretty much everything you could need, and sometimes at lower prices. I also bought a bunch of vintage wallpaper on eBay and Etsy.

Lastly, any favorite sources for vintage items in your home?

I live for estate sales. There is no greater joy for me than getting to explore beautiful old houses and finding treasures and seeing how people lived. I also spent a LOT of time on Etsy and eBay. I’ve found that most vintage and thrift stores in LA are either tapped out or too expensive (for what it is), so I don’t frequent those as often as I used to. 

One last BIG thank you to Allison and Benjamin for not only letting us into their home, but letting us take it over and shoot it for two days, and then annoy them with questions for this post. Their home is a true testament to “making it work,” which is something I’m going to putting into practice in my own kitchen VERY soon. And as always, if you’ve got any “make it work” or old home charm stories I love reading them endlessly in the comment section.

Credits: Home of Allison Pierce, styling by Velinda Hellen & Erik Staalberg, photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp for EHD

Fin Mark

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Lisa

Oh wow this is truly just the most beautifully designed house! Everything is stunning but I truly didn’t think I could love bathrooms as much as I love these bathrooms!! (last time I totally fell in love with the laundry room – what is it about this house making me love on all the weird spaces?) Thank you thank you thank you Allison and Sara for sharing more of it! Allison and Benjamin did such a great job, I’m in total awe – and if this doesn’t show the magic of a good eye and a great paint selection I don’t know what does! Loooveeee <3

Also I know that they're just not showing up right, but the first hot tip that at the mo only reads "Hot: Old" is somehow the funniest thing I've seen all morning 😀 Thanks for lightening up my morning as always folks! 🙂

Hi Lisa! I agree that Alison’s house is STUNNING. It’s like a big beautiful hug.

O and for a very boring tech reason our “Hot Tip” feature is a bit out of wack and we are trying it figure out. But it’s all fixed now! Glad it made you smile though:)

Victoria

For a couple of weeks now viewing in Bloglovin the images sit on top of text and other images so that I can’t read half the text.

Hmmm not sure why this would be happening. I will ask our tech guy to look into it!

Rachel

I’m in awe of the pure genius of this lady, especially the bathroom transformations. WOW. They now look amazing. A true testament to making it work.

Molly

Same. Truly. Please fill the “hot tips” boxes with details on how Allison managed to pull off different colored mouldings in adjacent rooms. I’m feverishly scrolling the photos and zooming in to see where to start/stop the color on one side vs. the other, but none of the shots clearly show the transitions 🙁 Also, gah, you’re killing me with that shot of the blue bathroom with just the tiniest glimpse/sliver of the new sconce. You know we’re going to need to see that, right?!?

Sahaja

I LOVED seeing this home, especially the bathrooms and dining area. Going tone on tone in the bathroom was such a genius idea. It’s truly beautiful. I loved the striped wallpaper, too. So modern but works with the era. I’m so glad to see that pedestal sink find! It works so perfectly there.

What’s with all the hot tips being broken?

So glad you loved the post!

It’s a VERY annoying glitch that we are trying to solve once and for all but right now they should be all set xx

Molly

Nevermind (on the colored trim). I went back to the first post and answered my own question….looks like they split the color exactly 1/2 way through the door casings. Looks awesome. This is one of my favorite house tours. Thanks EHD team for highlighting a “regular” but spectacularly beautiful house!

This is great design. I would MUCH rather look at this kind of updated house than the slash-and-burn style updates of HGTV. It’s total eye candy and takes WAYYYYYYY more creativity and design chops. Loved it, thanks!

Emily

Yessssss

Katie

Agreed!!! I’d love to see a roundup of making existing tile look great. The before’s looked so dated but these afters were amazing.

Paula

Yeah, because HGTV is not about decorating anymore. It’s all about selling you new stuff. 😥

Janessa Olney

Agreed! I love this idea of “making it work” with what you have with remodeling houses and with decor.

Heather

This is magical. I love the bathrooms so much. Allison, what a vision you have!

Janine

I know I’m not the only one but the hot tips are coming up as just “Old” and “Try” which is really funny, and oddly motivating.

I’m so impressed by the bathrooms especially! It’s amazing what a great eye, paint, wallpaper, and the right light fixtures can do!

Gwen

Ahahaha, no, me too! I giggled, so I got a double dose of joy out of today’s blog reading session.

haha Well, I am very glad that those were motivating and funny but now there are all squared away! It’s an annoying glitch that we are figuring out:)

hahaha. that’s hilarious (and also very weird). “Hot Tip: Try”, is the most passive aggressive IT flub we’ve ever had….

Hana

They came up that way for me too! I just laughed at them and then at myself for trying to understand their meanings before I realized it was a glitch!

The power of well chosen paint and pattern. The bathrooms are everything!

Rachel

Most beautiful and inspirational house ever..in love with it all especially how the blue tiles look with the walls painted blue.

Annabelle

Er, are Allison’s design skills for hire?

Allison Pierce

They sure are! DM me on my insta page makelifeanart xx

Karen

So much good design in this house. I really love how she let each room be itself. It wasn’t about color matching throughout the house (zzzz). Each room has its own vibe. Let’s see more like this! Beautiful home.

Erin

Psst… most of your hot tip boxes don’t say anything. This house gives me hope for making big design impacts without major renovation whenever I buy my first home.

The hot tips are all fixed! It was just a fun (read: annoying) tech glitch.

So happy you are feeling inspired!!

Jessica

UGH the rest of the house is as good as the kitchen? :heart-eyes:

Ally

Congratulations on making those vintage tile bathrooms sing! I hope your will never feel the need to sink big bucks into transforming them into this decade’s tired cookie-cutter versions, which will be out of vogue in another 10 years! Amazing that an item selected in 1939 can look so good (and be in such great shape!) in 2020.

Louise

This was such a great post. There is so much inspiration in these rooms.

I think small budget renovations would make a great series of topics for future posts. Many people do small renovations when they move into a new home (We did a similar 20k budget renovation when we bought our house) and there’s not a ton of online resource for renovation that focuses on working with what you have, like those bathrooms which look incredible now. So, this is super useful.

Thanks for keeping up the stellar content during Covid!

jen

Totally agree! Would love to see more affordable and truly creative transformations than just ripping everything out and spending thousands. These rooms are so inspiring and beautiful. I cannot get over those bathrooms! Genius!

Emily

Those bathrooms are so inspiring for those of us “blessed” with vintage colored tile!

A.B.

Allison is so talented – she blends tones together so well that it makes a lot of these dated features look new again by her choices of paint, wallpaper and furniture. Wow.

Chloe Chapman

I really enjoyed this post! As much as I enjoy all the content on here, this is the most relatable. I was so impressed by how good the bathrooms looked without having to renovate them. I would love to see more posts like this!

Molly

I’d love to know about her rug sources! So many gorgeous rugs in this home.

Allison Pierce

Mostly eBay and Etsy!! 💗

Jaclyn Wright

Any you can share links to?!

Kat

yes yes yes! more like this! We bought our condo about a year ago and are slowly sprucing it up, but all we can really do is cosmetic. It seems like everyone is just like “take down the wall!” but I have one wall downstairs that has plumbing, ductwork, and is load bearing. It’s gotta stay. Our place has some nice features – hardwood floors, penny & subway tile in the bathroom, but also weird stuff, like a 8 sq ft powder room under the stairs and the minimum number of legally required windows. Show me how to work with weird!

Okay, this post was SO wonderful — those bathrooms are jaw-dropping-ly beautiful! We have two really really similar bathrooms that I’m stumped on (but instead of light blue tile, it’s just solid brown) and I’ve struggled with what to paint above it for so long! I’m thinking the answer is tonal and I’m thrilled to have some relevant inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing your home!

Vicki Williams

Oh find some wallpaper for the brown. Brown is my least favorite color but as soon as you said this I could envision some great wallpaper above. I love the sources that Allison has given but honestly when i looked they were still pretty high budget. Brewster has so much. sometimes at $25 a roll. and I mean I’ve found some bespoke there. Anyway Good Luck!

Jenny B

If you look at Hunted Interior blogs latest post about her hallway, I can see her Rebel Walls wallpaper colors working with brown tile as well.

Allison Pierce

Try Cocoa Sand or Cream Soda by Benjamin Moore💗💗💗

Roberta Davis

They say the more constraints you have, the more creative you will be. This is a great example. I doubt it would be anywhere as great if it had all been ripped out and done over. By the way, I have these same shutters in my house and they are the best window coverings I’ve ever had (and I’ve had them for like 19 years and they still look perfect).

Alison

Would love to know where you got them! I need some for my master bedroom to help with the black out situation as we have a vent right under our window, so curtains that block our airflow are out and miniblinds are just awful/too sheer!

Any chance you know the maker/pattern for the blue striped wallpaper in the entry?
Very inspiring post; thank you!

Allison Pierce

It’s Schumacher 💗

Carmen

I LOVE this series showing how others made existing things work. Big renovations are fun too, but this is much more relatable and really shows off the creativity involved!

Camilla

That blue bathroom transformation blew my mind! Amazing and so inspiring!

AC

Such a wonderful makeover! Love seeing these posts! Would you mind sharing where that wonderful beige slipcover sofa is from?

Allison Pierce

Restoration Hardware!

Karyn

Can you share where Allison found her area rugs? They are gorgeous!!

Allison Pierce

Mostly eBay and Etsy!

This is one of my favorite house tours/before-and-afters ever. So. Good.

Lisa

Such a great post because the befores look so regular (white/simple) and the afters are also simple but have so much more life and layers.

Samantha Deitch

Ohhhhhh yes yes yes. This reminds me of Meta Coleman – Emily you need to check her out for English Granny-chic inspiration!

Bren

I loved reading about every detail of this house! BRB gotta go google ALL THE WALLPAPER options…

Catherine

Absolutely LOOOOOOVVEEE this house and what Allison and Benjamin have done with it AND what they have NOT done with it!! OMG those bathrooms!!! Gorgeous!
It really goes to show what some paint and/or pattern can do to totally transform a space.

Kara

My jaw literally dropped with the blue bathroom. All the heart eyes for this home. Please design my future house, Allison!

Diana

This is gorgeous. Thank you for sharing and pointing out all the details!

Also, thank you for the rug-over-carpet Hot Tip! We have wall-to-wall carpet in our living room. It’s got a very plush pad underneath and feels amazing on feet. If I put a flat-pile rug over it like I want to, will the furniture legs make the rug behave oddly because they push so far down into the rug pad already?

Allison Pierce

They make non slip rug pads for this exact problem! They have a bit of stick to them. You will definitely be needing it!!!

Ellen

That blue bathroom!!! Can you tell me what color the dining room is? Dreamy!

Allison Pierce

It’s Oval Room Blue by farrow and ball 💗

Kerrie

I love the snake and rabbit prints. Mi d sharing where they are from?

Allison Pierce

The snake is from Etsy and the rabbit was done by a homeless artist in NYC!

sg5785

Suggestion – can we ask Allison to prepare a post about shopping? Not just resources, but also strategies for shopping. The transformation is beyond belief. Allison, you obviously have a unique sense of color, and that’s hard to replicate, but it’s nurtured by shopping (or this is how I justify my endless browsing:).

Kerrie

Great job! Mind sharing where you got the cool snake and rabbit prints?

Allison Pierce

The snake is from Etsy and the rabbit was done by a homeless artist in NYC!

Emily D.

This is one of my favorite homes ever featured on the blog or in the book. I think it is more than “making it work” – it’s just phenomenal. Anyone with deep pockets and Pinterest can renovate – this is next level artistry.

I have two questions:
1. Can you ask Allison to do a post about how to plan colors that work from room to room – like how you can see into the living room from the entry-way – how much does she think about how colors roll from one room to another – or how many colors in one house for an example?

2. Can you talk about your covered sofa cushion on the RH couch? Is it just a blanket or did you get the whole cushion recovered? I’d love to learn how you chose the material, etc.

Fern

Love this—especially that blue bathroom. Is there a source for those cute floating marble shelves?

Allison Pierce

I got the gorgeous brass corbels at signaturehardware.com and the marble I got at my local tile store 💗

Jaclyn Wright

What gorgeous choices!! I’m super into painting the walls and trim the same color!
Any chance you can link to the rug in the main post photo? The one with pinks in it!?

Hana

Please provide a link if possible for the black and white art on the gallery wall!

Alison Faye Shelley

I live in Los Angeles, and the only apartments I am looking for are Art Deco. In my search I have definitely seen some bath rooms where I thought, oh god how will I make this modern and keep the Deco integrity? This article is everything I have been looking for!! This house is my dream 😻 So happy to have such a lovely source of inspiration.

Eryn

Wow I love this! Not just because she did a beautiful job, but because she was willing to work with what she already had. We’re so quick to throw everything away and I really respect people who can make it work!

Now that I said that, y’all should do a post for those of us who have orange oak cathedral cabinets and can’t change them for the time being!

Hilary

This home is so special and GORGEOUS – can we please have a million more posts like this? It’s so nice to have a regular sized budget and a regular sized house with regular non-fancy solutions! SO AWESOME!

P.S. Give me that blue bathroom x a million.

mallory

Totally in awe of those bathroom makeovers. So unexpected and incredible! Love!

Suzanne

That blue paint really transformed the bathroom! And the use of wallpaper is perfect (and I’m not usually a fan of wallpaper). What an amazing example of the power of color and pattern. Thank you for sharing!

J.

WOW this is soooooo beautiful and awe-inspiring and gorgeous– I love the colors so much!!! The RUGS are incredible too – would love to know the process, source, or thought train of picking those (and which order of operations? rug first? walls first? some of both?). Thank you so much for this post I loved it! (and also the italics!!!)

Megan Lec

Such an inspiring home, I love all the thought and care that went in and a renovation that focuses mainly on cosmetic changes. It’s amazing how different the spaces look.

As an aside, I mainly read the blog on my phone and wondered if there’s a way to enlarge the photos on the mobile site (particularly the afters with all their dreaminess.) Perhaps a carousel option in the future?

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