Rustic Meets Modern in This Amazing Remodel

built-in book case
Always on the go and always in the middle of a project? So was this family, who revamped their century-old home by salvaging midcentury elements, cleaning up an old banquette, and reusing kitchen cabinets.

Modern Revival

This polished and practical house was a renovation project for the entire family. The owners were ready to transform the Colonial Revival-style home with a rustic yet modern vibe they'd always dreamed of. It was time to take out the old wallpaper and carpet and replace them with sleek new surfaces.

Style Step-Up

The foyer's once-orange oak steps and wall studs went contemporary with a simple coat of white paint. The gray paint on each tread provides a stepping stone look. Polyurethane protects the handiwork and keeps the two-tone stairs looking fresh.

Before: Dark, Curvy, and Dated

Wood paneling and curving floor materials made this midcentury-style living room feel dated and dysfunctional. The dark walls dimmed the room, even with a large bay window letting in plenty of sunshine. The room's modern update made it unrecognizable!

After: Focal Point Fun

The homeowners said good-bye to dated wood paneling in favor of gray-painted drywall in their living room. For a contemporary twist, they amped up the character of the fireplace with a three-dimensional product made of recycled sugarcane waste. It installs like tile—but costs less—and it's paintable, so you can choose any color you want.


See how this stuck-in-the-past fireplace became an up-to-date show-stopper with a few smart updates.

Fireplace Makeover

See how this out-of-date fireplace becomes a total showstopper, and gain inspiration for your own fireplace makeover.

Dining Masterpiece

For a dose of pattern, a black-on-white geometric design was added to a dining room wall. The motif was drawn with a yardstick and pencil, then the lines were traced over with black paint using a small brush. The dining room chandelier was built by the homeowners: The couple threaded the cords of five light sockets through a salvaged board and hung it by a chain.

Before: Wall Refresh

Dated '60s wallpaper cloaked most of the house. The homeowners dutifully stripped off the old wall treatment throughout. Their secret recipe for wallpaper removal? Hot water and vinegar in a spray bottle.

After: Painted Beauty

The kitchen's existing banquette and pleather cushions were still in good shape. But to separate the table from the benches, the homeowners gave the seats a kicky new coat of cobalt blue paint. Charcoal gray walls, white window trim, and quirky wall decor completed the modern update.

Backsplash or Wall Decor?

Removing upper cabinets from around the sink opened up the kitchen but left a visual void that begged to be artfully filled. By running marble tiles from countertop to ceiling, a subtle mosaic was born. Before the couple secured the pieces to the wall, they laid out the natural stone tiles on the floor in a herringbone pattern to get the right arrangement of light and dark tiles.

Watch our step-by-step guide to learn how to tile a backsplash.

How to Tile a Backsplash

Add color and pattern to your kitchen with our tile backsplash tutorial.

Country Cooking

A true testament of a rustic kitchen is open shelving and mounted dishes. This space has both! Reclaimed wood shelves show off a collection of country dishware, while the chic charcoal-color wall proves rustic and modern really do mix.

Child's Play

The second-floor bedroom was reimagined as a playroom. The homeowners laid luxury vinyl tile over the existing '60s floor tile, painted the wainscoting white, and gave the kids a huge canvas for artwork, spelling practice, and math problems by dressing the walls with black chalkboard paint. Three-dimensional art hangs on the wall inside chalkboard frames.

Before: Boy's Room Blues

The first-floor bedroom wasn't fit for a little prince. Oak paneling in the boy's room had to go, as did the funky baby blue and cream floor tiles.

After: Space-Age Style

Oak paneling and rooster wallpaper in the little boy's room was replaced with serene gray walls enlivened with black triangle decals. The Sputnik-style chandelier fosters a fun midcentury modern mood. The playful feeling gets a boost from a pop of orange introduced via an upholstered headboard.

Personal Note

An antique bedroom door, original to the home, was revitalized with a sweet tribute using paint and a stencil. The homeowners painted inside the stenciled letters with the same black milk paint used for the door, which creates an inviting entrance to a little girl's room.

Cottage Dreams

A pink house-shape headboard, complete with roof and chimney, was built with fun fabrics to add playfulness to this little girl’s room. The fabrics were tacked to the wall with a nail, then liquid starch was poured into a paint pan and lightly rolled over the fabrics. Liquid starch dries overnight and peels off without gouging or scraping when it's time for a change of scenery. Bands of gray ribbon, also secured with starch, outline the roof.

Bathroom Beauty

The contemporary yet rustic powder room vanity was built using a flea market dresser and stylish vessel sink. The top two drawers were removed to accommodate the plumbing, and the drawer faces were reattached with wood glue. 

Cool Revivals

The home office, imbued with rustic charm thanks to salvaged wood paneling from an old barn, was a long renovation project for the homeowners. You can now buy wood paneling with adhesive backing, but this project was done before that product was widely available. The chairs were spotted in a dumpster at a local restaurant, which had discarded them as part of a remodel. The homeowners snagged them and added modern appeal with two shades of decorative chalk-finish paint and gold-dipped legs.

Before: Office Features

The home included the bones of an amazing office when the homeowners moved in. This built-in unit, while large and sturdy, was in need of an update. More wood paneling was removed from the home for this process, and additional gray paint was added to the docket.

After: Shades of Gray

The built-in floor-to-ceiling shelves and cabinets were standouts for storage—they just needed a fresh face. Two shades of chalk-finish paint gave the wall a graphic, attention-grabbing quality. Painting the backs of the shelves showcases the room's colorful and unique accessories.

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