The dining room's surfaces hadn't seen an update in a generation or more. Worn carpeting, dated wallpaper, and a tired light fixture conspired against the room's simple charms.
The Solution: Surface updates -- tearing out the carpet, wallpaper, and chair rail -- let the period windows become the room's focal point. Mixed textures of woven grasses, rustic woods, and nubby linen provide a backdrop for the couple's ever-changing accessories.
To bring a more modern look to the dining room, the standard-issue chair rail and brass chandelier were replaced with chalky blue walls and a simple oil-rubbed bronze fixture.
Editor's Tip: Keep dining room decor understated to allow centerpieces and table settings to shine.
Tag sale treasures and vintage-inspired art give this dining room a personal and casual attitude.
An arched display alcove opposite the buffet in the dining room stands out thanks to contrasting paint colors.
Editor's Tip: Lighten the interior space of a deep bookcase by wrapping a few dark books in white or softly colored vellum covers. Layer small mirrors for extra sparkle.
Inspired by examples they saw in Europe, the homeowners designed shutters for windows on the front of their home. The recessed-panel, bifold-door design is quaint yet practical.
Editor's Tip: Use foam-core board and tape to create a variety of shutter templates. This way you can see how much light they would block and confirm dimensions. Using your template, cut MDF boards, trim with molding, and install hinges.
A long oak shelf gave the fireplace area in the living room a low-slung, horizontal look. The 1980s mirrored wall and brass fireplace doors also felt at odds with the character of the 1912 home.
Solution: The new fireplace, complete with built-ins, lighting, and an arched soffit, is better suited to the home's vintage look. It also creates a brighter, more comfortable spot for talking or playing board games. To complete the conversation area, two worn-out $20 chairs were revived with new slipcovers. The chairs' simple patterned runners can easily be changed each season.
DIY Tip: Before buying (even if it's a steal!), ensure an old chair has a solid frame. Then rework it to meet your needs. In this case, collapsed cushions gave way to lofty feather ones, creating the necessary height to sit comfortably at the table.
To create your own custom bookcases follow these simple steps.
Build the bookcases. Use MDF boards for the bookcase structure, then embellish with clear white pine trim. Simple purchased bookshelves provide the same look -- sans major power tools.
Add doors. Use the same trim material to build doors for the upper shelves. Skip this step by ordering doors at a home center. Glass panels were cut to fit the frames.
Spray it with paint. For a smooth look, spray the built-ins with one coat of primer and two coats of white paint.
Apply the finishing touch. Sconces and knobs with an oil-rubbed bronze finish complete the design.
Artwork doesn't have to be expensive to look great. Flea market paint-by-number masterpieces and even empty frames create a stylish entry. For unity, look for common wood tones.
Shop the garden shed for entryway decor. Here, small plants and simple fern clippings are covered with glass cloches to help them thrive in the dry winter months.
DIY Tip: Put little-used items such as platters and pretty cups to decorative use. A mix of materials such as terra-cotta, wood, silver, and china suggest a look that has developed over time.
Try these simple DIY tricks to give your home a boost.
1. Refinish your floors. Rip up old carpet and refinish your floors for a rich glow.
2. Add architecture. Thoughtful architectural detail, such as this home's new fireplace cove, lend a home a sense of place.
3. Make practical fixes. The home's old wood-burning fireplace filled the living room with drafty air and a smoky smell. Retrofitting the firebox with a convenient, efficient gas unit solved those problems.
4. Mix up the furnishings. A brushed-twill sofa combines with a wicker ottoman/coffee table, a jute rug, a bamboo side table, and a vinyl footstool for an eclectic personal look.
5. Add your personal touch. Layers of favorite books, found items, and flowers make a home feel intimate and comfortable.
See how the living room in this historic home went from overlooked and tired to classic and polished.