Builder-Basic Home Makeover

floor plan
A builder-basic home gets a Bali-meets-modern makeover that takes an ordinary look into extraordinary territory.

Before: In the Dark

With the help of interior architect and design specialist Susanna Samaniego, the couple refreshed their digs -- which felt heavy from a combination of slate floors, dark wood, and brown furniture -- with a wall-to-wall makeover. The dark, ornate cabinets weren't flowing with the family's style, but they seemed too nice to tear out.

After: Bright Outlook

The homeonwers kept the boxes but refaced them with Shaker-style fronts, saving tons of cash. (All-new cabinets would have cost $25,000.) A waterfall countertop on the island also updates the look.

The Right Mix

Moroccan tile on the island and backsplash exudes a cultural vibe that’s carried from the kitchen to the dining room. Rustic barstools offset the clean-lined white cabinetry, countertops, and pendant lights.

Exotic & Everyday

Exotic tile and bold wallpaper were the homeowners’ starting points; everything else had to fit around those elements without feeling like a resort. With clean-lined cabinets, plain white countertops, and hints of different woods, the home strikes a balance between beachy Balinese and low-key modern that’s both beautiful and livable.

Gather 'Round

Now adorable and cozy, the breakfast nook once housed a clunky kitchen table and a never-used sliding glass door. The graceful new tulip table set the tone for the change, and the space has become the preferred hangout when company comes. 

Before: Missing a Spark

An important spot for family gatherings, the living room fell into the dull category -- definitely not worthy of the vibrant goings-on that happened there.

After: Let's Hang Out

The homeowners dub the living room the most important in the house, and so wanted to anchor it with an inviting couch. It had to be big enough to lounge as a family and also make the seating arrangement feel like it was part of the kitchen conversation. That wish dictated the furniture placement. The homeowners arranged two statement chairs adjacent to the couch, creating an open floor plan conducive to chatting. 

Before: Dull Dining

A unique alcove was begging to be part of a room with a little personality, but the dining room was held back by heavy-handed furniture.

After: Sparkle & Shine

The crown jewel of the home, the dining room features a niche wall covered in hand-painted Moroccan tiles. Nearing the end of their budget, the homeowners gave their formerly dark brown dining set a facelift with a good sanding and a coat of bright white paint. Vivid decorative details -- a bowl of citrus fruit, a vase of greenery, and creamy decorative urns -- draw out the crispness of the color.

Before: Underutilized

A front room with a fireplace was essentially a pass-through from the front door to the rest of the house.

After: Updated and Fabulous

With new wallpaper and mantel (yup, that's the same fireplace) and a different furniture setup, the family now uses their front room as more than just a pass-through. The room's design spawned from the domed chairs. Interior designer Susanna Samaniego suggested a twist on the standard setup of two chairs, a couch, and a coffee table and instead configured the room with the two chairs and a pedestal table, perfect for playing games or hosting wine nights. The family often pulls up extra poufs as additional seating to accommodate more people

Decorating Mantra

The mantel mix is the house in a nutshell -- a save (existing fireplace), a splurge (wallpaper), and a salvage (reclaimed wood). The run-of-the-mill fireplace felt tired in the like-new digs, but a fireplace reface wasn’t part of the makeover budget. The solution: swapping the tracthouse mantel -- basically a shelf mounted to the wall -- for a more on-trend look. The homeowners picked up a piece of reclaimed wood from the lumberyard and had their contractor cut it in half, stain it, and mount it. The result is a texture-adding mantel on a dime.

All Together

Tying the entryway and the front room together, a statement sofa nestles in an arched nook and serves as a side area for people to chat. The floors, which were once slate, were replaced with wide-plank hand-scraped oak that warms the house. 

The Floor Plan

The homeowners made their old house feel like new again with bold tile, exotic wallpaper, and clean-lined designs. Careful planning makes bonus spaces like the breakfast nook and entryway seating area functional and stylish.

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