See how one determined couple reworked the worst house on the block into a comfortable space perfect for raising a family.


The underdog. That was the homeowner's name for this 1950s era ranch purchased at an estate sale. But with a little love and a lot of handiwork, the homeowners transformed their underdog into a winner. Cozy accents, lots of windows, and a neutral color scheme became the secrets to creating a warm, welcoming space. See how they did it—and get ready steal some of their ideas for your own.

Statement Storage

Because the front door opens directly into the living room, the homeowners defined a mini entry using a few clever and functional tricks. DIY wood shelves line one wall; baskets on the bottom shelf store toys and outdoor wear. Next to the door, peg hooks give guests a place to hang coats, and the bench below is a drop spot for purses and packages.

Before: Red Tones

The dated living room had brown, wall-to-wall carpet and a red brick fireplace feature wall. With white walls and heavy white curtain panels, the room had a little too much contrast, making it look smaller than it was.

After: White Light

The living room's decorating focus was centered on one key element: comfort. A coat of white paint makes the brick fireplace recede visually. Unfussy wood elements that handle wear and tear repeat throughout. A soft, neutral rug layered over sisal defines the gathering area and gives the kids a place to romp. A DIY plank bump-out frames the TV. White mullions ensure the view is the focus through the large windows.

Wall Color Tapestry Beige (975), Benjamin Moore

Before: Walled Off

Before the makeover, the kitchen was inefficient and closed off from the rest of the house. The cabinets were ready for retirement, having served well for many decades. The walls enclosing the kitchen reduced the amount of natural light and separated the cook from the activities of the house.

After: Open for Eating

The homeowners created a central hangout by tearing out a wall between the kitchen and living room. A vaulted (and shiplapped) ceiling increases the sense of open space without adding square feet. A walnut slab island top creates the feel of a table while clear globe light fixtures give an industrial feel.

Kitchen Office

Homeowner Dana Miller carved out a corner of the kitchen for the office, where she runs her blog, House*Tweaking, and keeps her family organized. Glass-front cabinets create a lighter feel than solid doors. A mix of brown-black and white cabinets (from IKEA) personalizes the look.

Triple Duty

The family's dining room pulls triple duty, also serving as the mudroom and laundry. Two IKEA wardrobes provide much-needed storage and stow seasonal items. Stained wood accents around the room bring natural elements to the forefront of this dining room.

Secret Laundry

Fabric panels on curtain wire conceal the washer and dryer when not in use. A wood slab built from old boards found in the attic makes the perfect spot for folding laundry and doubles as a buffet serving area for parties. Hovering built-in cabinets leave the countertop open.

Wall Color Besalt (191-A), Ace Paints

Open Up

The homeowners created a sleek "fauxdenza" by hanging IKEA upper cabinets wrapped in stained plywood on the back wall. A gallery wall with white-matted artwork brings brightness around the room. Glass doors open the dining room up to the patio, perfect for letting in fresh air on a summer night.

Before: Gray Box

Light gray walls and carpet left the master bedroom feeling dull. Horizontal windows, although plenty large, look small with long curtain panels.

Master of Stripes

The 11×15 master bedroom needed clever rejiggering and editing to fit the homeowners' need for more storage space. Trading closet sliding doors for drapes makes the storage space easier to access. Stripes plus sunny yellows and gold tones make for a happy space. Matchstick shades are a better fit for the windows.

Wall Color Half Moon Crest (1481), Benjamin Moore

Black, White, and Yellow

A claw-foot tub was on the homeowners' must-have list. They found one on Craigslist and painted it black. Setting it on a wood pedestal gives it a fresh look. The high-contrast tile is eye-catching and good design: Black travertine floor tiles hide dirt while white subway tile walls are easy to keep clean.


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