How Budget-Friendly Projects Revived This 1920s Portland Bungalow

Follow along as this Oregon couple tackles budget-friendly projects to create a cozy bungalow—and build a life.

Not everyone has a photo of a pile of used razor blades on their Instagram Stories, but Jordan Woodward does. When she and husband Nick were redoing their 1920s bathroom, they removed the original built-in metal medicine cabinet. Her dad, a home builder, suggested she look for a slot in the bottom corner. "He said people used to drop old blades through it, and they would just collect in the wall cavity," Jordan says. "I looked and said, 'Oh my gosh, Nick, there's a slot!'" Sure enough, when they pulled out the cabinet, Jordan got her pic.

Jordan has chronicled the icky Befores through the pretty Afters as they DIY their Portland, Oregon, bungalow. An interior designer, Jordan posts projects, shares ideas, and seeks advice online for their petite home. Like when she wanted to replace the hardware on the original vanity in the bathroom but didn't know what to do about holes from pulls that had been screwed in diagonally. "A designer friend told me to just embrace them and make them decorative," she says. Now, small brass plugs fill the extra holes, and the refurbished teak cabinet shines anew.

Oregon couple dog home projects cozy bungalow
Nick and Jordan Woodard and their friendly Labradoodle, Beau, love their fenced-in yard. They stacked the cedar boards horizontally with nickel gaps to add visual interest to the small space. Adam Albright

Giving the house sparkle and personality was the couple's main ambition. It was in good structural shape, so they focused on enhancing its features like improving light fixtures and painting kitchen cabinets while they saved for the bathroom redo.

"We kept a spreadsheet so we knew how much we were spending," Jordan says. "The house is a great representation of living within your means. By not having a big space to tackle, we could save for other things like exploring the West Coast."

living room soft bed coffee table wine rack
Adam Albright

A pull-out sofa bed and a coffee table with a top that lifts to table height give extra function to the living room. Jordan also squeezed in a bar by adding wineglass racks to a shelf and tucking a tiered table underneath.

Jordan was eager to get house projects finished before daughter Lucy arrived. Fortunately, the kitchen only needed a cosmetic facelift. A vintage-style small fridge fits snugly under the 1920s upper cabinets.

kitchen table woman dog sweg fridge aqua cabinets
Adam Albright

The previous owners installed the bamboo countertops, but Jordan is not a fan because they stain easily. "The moral of the story is to save up more money and put in quartz," she says.

kitchen bamboo countertops colored cabinets sink
Adam Albright

The bungalow was owned by the same family for almost 100 years and still had the original solid-wood kitchen cabinets. Nick and Jordan refreshed them with vintage-inspired aqua paint.

The cabinets were painted a vivid blue-green. "I like the idea of them being a color," Jordan says, "But I wanted a color that fit the home's era. This muted green feels more vintage."

shelves coffee bar brass brackets
Adam Albright

This section of countertop turned into a coffee bar after the couple added an outlet and shelves for all the sundries. The brackets started out chrome, but Jordan wanted them to look like the brass cabinet hardware. She used Rub 'n Buff, a wax with metallic powder pigment, to get the desired look.

nursery crib artwork pattern texture greenery
Adam Albright

When Lucy arrived, this art arrangement was waiting for her. Jordan shops for inexpensive artwork online. "I have a ton of it that I swap out continually, so it's rare for me to spend a lot of money," she says. In any display—on the wall or shelves or tabletop—Jordan says it's important to add a bit of greenery for layers of color, texture, and pattern.

Jordan Woodward, Homeowner and Interior Designer

In a small space, you collect things that mean more because you don't have the luxury of buying a lot.

—Jordan Woodward, Homeowner and Interior Designer
nursery floating display shelves books chair
Adam Albright

Floating display shelves for books and artwork consume no floor space in the 7×9-foot nursery. A vintage-style wall sconce provides just the right amount of light for reading bedtime stories.

built-in shelf closet counter shelves nursery
Adam Albright

The refrigerator's water line runs through the back of the nursery closet, so Jordan worked around it with a built-in shelf and ready-made pieces. She measured the closet's dimensions, then clicked through drawer options online to find units in a size she could stack. She and Nick built a maple plywood frame around the drawers to make a countertop and shelves.

Jordan and Nick tackled this wall of their 1920s bathroom themselves but hired a plumber to redo the toilet and shower. "This is our only bathroom, so we had pros do that part because they could do it fast," she says. After removing the original medicine cabinet (and the pile of razor blades), they filled the hole with a drywall patch and wired in new sconces.

bathroom circle mirror wallpaper wood sink
Adam Albright

The bathroom didn't originally include a fan, so "the vanity's old wood was stinky," Jordan says. They wanted to keep the teak piece so they hand-sanded it, cleaned it with Murphy Oil Soap, and applied teak oil. A final coat of Howard Feed-N-Wax took care of any residual odor. New brass hardware plays off the brass sconces and towel hook.

bedroom simple storage bed artwork clock lamp
Wall Color: SW 7649 Silverplate by Sherwin Williams. Adam Albright

Jordan painted the walls white throughout the house to make the rooms feel larger. But in their small bedroom, she wanted a bit of a cozier feel and painted the walls.

To gain as much storage as possible, the couple chose a storage bed and matching C-shape side tables so they can access the under-bed drawers from either side.

custom storage file papers utility room baskets
Adam Albright

A module storage system in the laundry area off the back entrance is über-customizable, Jordan says. "That area is also our drop zone for mail and where we file papers. It's the pantry, and it's also a utility room for storing batteries and cleaning products," she says. "Every six months or so, we move the parts around to see if we can crank out any more function."

laundry room plywood counter wall cabinets
Adam Albright

Jordan and Nick spent about $100 on the wall cabinets and maple plywood counter to make the laundry area even handier.

Updated by
Natalie Dayton

Natalie (Mcllwain) Dayton is a digital strategist, content creator, editor, and freelance copy editor. She is one of the co-founders of The Drop DSM based in Des Moines, Iowa.

Natalie's home writing has been featured in newspapers and magazines nationwide, and she has been a contributor and editor at Better Homes & Garden. She is also the former editor of the Do It Yourself Magazine at Meredith Corporation.

Natalie attended Iowa State University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in French Language and Literature in 2009.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles