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?
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!
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?
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.
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.