Young and Fun: Home Makeover

counter intelligence
See how a Virginia couple transformed their ranch home from dull to darling and get decorating ideas for your home.

Young and Fun

We¿re John and Sherry, and we¿re 27. Our house is 50. It¿s old enough to be our parent, but we treat it like our baby. It¿s our first home, located in Richmond, Virginia. Armed with a bit of know-how and a lot of enthusiasm, we didn¿t waste a second transforming our little brick ranch and documenting every detail on our blog

Carving Out Curb Appeal

Hidden among the oaks, it didn't even look like a house existed when we drove by to check out the "quaint brick home" listed in the newspaper. But where the previous owner saw privacy, we saw promise. After closing the deal, we quickly began thinning the forest and letting the light in.

Entryway Envy

What We Did: Without a formal entry (the front door opens into our living room), we decided to create one on the fly. A console table for dropping keys and mail certainly comes in handy. And accenting our entryway with graphic black-and-white art really draws people in from the moment they step through the door.

DIY Tip: Tinted primer is extremely helpful for establishing a rich, glossy tone when using vibrant colors. Apply two or three coats of semigloss paint to achieve a truly perfect scarlet.

Window Treatment

What We Did: Adding crown molding polished things off, and hanging the drapes high and wide around our big picture window framed the view without blocking the light.

DIY Tip: Hang your curtain rods well above the top of your window -- about 3 inches below your ceiling or crown molding. By hanging bamboo blinds right under the rod, you can create the illusion that the widow is much taller, thereby adding height and drama to any space.

Room to Dine

We created a dining area off the kitchen on one end of our expansive living room for a truly multifunctional space. Floating shelves + pendant lamp + cozy table = instant dining room.

Dine in Style

What We Did: Bright green runners and white ironstone pieces add to the casual and cozy atmosphere in our dining area. We love hosting relaxed get-togethers and laying things out buffet-style on the table. We even propped one of our favorite backyard wedding pictures nearby, which makes us smile every time we share a meal.

DIY Tip: Unifying the frames in your home can make rearranging your artwork a snap. Every room in our house features sleek white frames (many from inexpensive stores such as IKEA and Target), so when we want to move something into another room we don't have to worry if the frames will match.

Kitchen Update

We hit the trifecta with our 50-year-old knotty pine kitchen: dark, dingy, and dated. So we temporarily spruced it up just in time for our at-home wedding and saved our pennies until we could spring for a full-fledged renovation (which was oh-so worth the wait).

Cabinets and Counters

What We Did: White cabinetry and pale granite counters keep things looking light in our newly spiffed kitchen. And scoring deals where we could (from our eBay faucet to a free dishwasher thanks to a generous rebate) made splurging on the stone counters positively painless.

Keep It Light

DIY Tip: Small spaces benefit from light and bright cabinet and counter colors. Reflective surfaces such as stainless steel and glass keep the light bouncing around for an open and airy feel.

Built-In Benefits

Carve out extra space where you can. We closed a doorway to the dining room to create space for our built-in fridge and a nook for our microwave. Upper and lower cabinets give us extra storage that's so needed in a small ranch.

Counter Intelligence

One of the only reasons granite can be tricky is because it's a porous stone, so it can absorb stains. And since our counters are not exactly the cheapest thing in our kitchen, the idea of a permanent pink square (caused by blueberries) freaked us out in a major way.

Needless to say, we were intrigued. So we ran next door to get some bleach from our neighbor (since we make an effort to keep chemicals of that caliber out of our home). The care card suggested pouring bleach right over the stain and letting it sit overnight with plastic wrap over it to keep the granite moist. We didn't have any plastic wrap, but we did have those big plastic freezer bags, which seemed to work just as well.

We didn't even have to wait until morning. Within about an hour the stain was nothing more than a dark shadow and in another two hours it was invisible. And today I couldn't tell you where that pink square used to be!

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