Resourceful DIYs and Thrifty Finds Personalize This 1935 Colonial Home

Armed with a tool kit of budget-friendly tricks, decorator Ruthie Jackson customizes her family’s private spaces.

In the process of updating every inch of her 1935 Colonial, which she shares with husband Greg and their kids, Emmeline and Everett, resourceful do-it-yourselfer Ruthie Jackson (@MiracleonThirtyFourth) has learned a few things about making a house special.

person sitting at wooden desk with marble top
Wallpaper: York Wallcoverings Garden Lattice Sure Strip in Blue. Adam Albright

Budgets flex, time is tight, and tastes evolve, but you'll never regret making your home feel comfortable for life right now. "I'm someone who is totally fine with placeholder decor."

However, some projects-like hanging hard-to-match-up trellis wallpaper in an office with three walls of windows-are best left to pros. Ruthie saves by doing finish work like caulking and painting.

white bathroom with marble countertop
Adam Albright

Damage from a leaky pipe prompted a strategic renovation in the primary bath. Ruthie was able to salvage the original tile floor and unique sconces, which helped offset the cost of a new double vanity. She repurposed a large mirror from another room and had a glass shop cut holes for the sconces' wiring. With Greek key trim glued to the edges, basic Roman shades look custom.

Ruthie Jackson

I like taking something that is pretty mundane and making it personal and custom.

— Ruthie Jackson
sitting area with dark blue walls and red chair
Adam Albright

A fruit tile fireplace surrounding Ruthie and Greg's bedroom and yellow tile in the guest bath are part of the old-home charm. "All the quirky details have so much magic to them," she says.

Ruthie emphasizes that floral + geometric + animal print equals success. Blocks of color create resting points. For example, she framed the fireplace tile in the primary bedroom by painting the mantel Smoke Gray (Rust-Oleum enamel gloss).

bedroom with dark blue walls
Adam Albright

To create a strong headboard wall that provides storage, Ruthie flanked a vintage screen with IKEA wardrobes. She refinished them with a laminate bonding primer and chalk-finish paint that she dragged a toothbrush through in crisscrossing lines for a raffia texture. An acrylic tray table makes a handy nightstand that's light enough to move.

child's bedroom with colorful rugs
Adam Albright

Ruthie scoured discount websites to furnish daughter Emmeline's room and scored the bedding from an estate sale. To get the best estate sale deals, Ruthie signs up for emails to preview offerings and often holds out until the second day when items are more likely to be deeply discounted.

Ruthie Jackson

I think layering over time creates the most stylish spaces. I love when rooms look and feel like the people who live there.

— Ruthie Jackson
child's bedroom with triangle wallpaper
Adam Albright

When son Everett requested Batman blue walls, Ruthie delivered with a half-wall treatment he won't tire of as quickly. A kid-height loft bed creates more playroom in the tight 7-foot-wide footprint. Wall decals add playful pattern without long-term commitment.

yellow and white bathroom with lined wallpaper
Adam Albright

To update the guest bath's original yellow wall tile, Ruthie installed a modern vanity and painted molding crisp white. She painted abstract raindrops on the walls for some restrained pattern.

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