The townhouse was the first home Hubby and I bought, and the reason for starting this blog (aptly named “Dans le Townhouse”). Sometimes I look at before photos of the townhouse and wonder, “what on earth possessed us to buy it?” Take a good long look at the before shots and picture us walking around, nodding our heads, and saying to one another, “yes, this is perfect.” I’m so happy that we were able to see past the tiny room full of giant sofas, the pink & yellow 1970s bathroom fixtures, the miles and miles of stinky carpet and SpongeBob SquarePants (who was clearly traumatized by this formerly ugly house). We turned this dated disaster house into a happy and cheerful home on a budget. We’ve since moved on and into our new home: a diamond-in-the-rough lakehouse. We’re ecstatic with our new place (and excited to give it an even bolder makeover), but we will always love the townhouse. Because we made design decisions always with re-sale in mind (which turned out to be disappointing but it’s okay), and because I favor white walls, I think there are a lot of ideas below for rentals and other temporary abodes.
The exterior only got a tiny little freshening up, thanks to condo rules!
But the rest of the before/afters are pretty dramatic.
|Master Bedroom – BEFORE|
I’ve started the tour with my favorite room! We actually used a secondary bedroom as our master bedroom because it had the best light (and view) of all three bedrooms (we switched the rooms back when we listed it for sale). Removing the wallpaper border, painting the walls and ceiling a clean white, and installing solid maple hardwood flooring helped brighten up the room. We took down the torn blind and hung sheer curtains my Grandma sewed on a simple black curtain rod. We also replaced the dating ceiling fan, installed complementary light wood closet fittings, and furnished the room with a welded headboard my Papa made and colourful triptych I painted myself. We replaced our black and white tree-patterned bedding and boring black bedskirt for white textured bedding from West Elm, which suits the angular headboard better than any bedding we’ve had before. DIY silk pillows, thrifted accessories (like an enamel bowl and beauce trays) plus a pink Marimekko throw (a serious splurge) added a little colour. The white Robbert Abbey lamps, with light up bases, were something that even Hubby got excited about!
|Guestroom and 2-piece Ensuite – BEFORE|
The proper master bedroom was used by us as the guest bedroom and its size was perfect to accommodate guests’ suitcases, plus the two-piece ensuite was an added convenience. A vintage chair reupholstered in mint and turquoise fabric, along with a vintage table I painted mint, created a sweet place for guests to relax. As with our bedroom, fresh paint, new flooring and a new ceiling fan were key top updating the room. We also replaced the damaged shutters with handmade curtains (see here and here for tutorials). The beige baseboard heaters were also painted (throughout the whole house, actually).
This room became a catch-all for furniture, including a maple armoire I had a hard time parting with and a vintage teak table that used to be in our living room, but we did purchase a new bed (painted white) and white linens (paired with DIY silk pillows) so this bedroom had a similar look to ours. Paintings by Hubby’s Grandpa really took centre stage with the all-white backdrop. When we didn’t have guests, we used this room for our treadmill, which we stashed in the closet.
The two-piece bathroom got new everything: vinyl flooring, white vanity and marble top, toilet, mirror, lighting, faucet, towel bar – everything was replaced and installed by us. A DIY text painting was a fun and casual touch.
|Office – BEFORE|
The smallest bedroom became the office. We removed the closet doors to make the room feel more spacious, and it became a convenient place for the filing cabinet, DIY magnetic board and silhouette collection. Two DIY desks
(my treadle sewing machine desk and Hubby’s welded desk) gave us each a space to work without seeming too office-y. An artful Expedit hack turned DIY canvases into swinging doors to hide unsightly clutter. Silk drapes and art (see here and here for more info) made the room feel even less like an office. I really splurged on the Robbert Abbey lamps (seems to be my weakness) but accessorized with vintage finds plus my childhood rock collection (well, one of them).
|Main Bathroom – BEFORE|
Like the guest half bathroom, the main bathroom got new everything, including a new vanity, marble counter, flooring, lighting, and art (including a DIY painting and one from the thrift store). The yellow added a much-needed dose of colour to this windowless room (these rooms were my inspiration). The machine-washable Marimekko Tuuli shower curtain wasn’t cheap, but after four years it still looked brand new.
The carpeted stairwell was transformed with hardwood, the railing brackets were spray-painted black, and the light fixtures were replaced. The framed vintage postcards were my favorite addition.
|Stairwell – BEFORE|
|Front Hallway – BEFORE|
The entryway boasted a weird remnant pattern of cream and teal tiles that we couldn’t afford to replace. New light fixtures, door hardware, paint and art (notably my framed embroidery) helped distract from the tile (I hope!). First a little painted uesless table, then a painted bar cart, served as a handy place to drop my bag.
|Main Floor Half Bath – BEFORE|
The mainfloor powder room originally boasted wallpaper and the same 1970s cabinetry found throughout the house. We stripped the wallpaper, and then painted the walls and vanity for a thrifty makeover. We did eventually add a new grey laminate top, glass vessel sink (because the vanity felt so low), new faucet, light fixture, mirror and towel rack. We actually started off with beige paint and decided to brighten it up with a pale turquoise paint (see the transformation here). Adding trim to the heating pipe cover made the room look more finished.
|Dining Room – BEFORE|
Luckily the dining room and living room already had beautiful maple hardwood flooring (we matched the flooring installed upstairs to it). In the dining room, DIY sheer curtains and a simple white drum pendant fixture helped modernize the space while painting the walls a brighter white made the room seem sunnier. Colourful artwork (including the large painting by Hubby’s Grandpa and DIY agate art) added interest to white walls. A petite vintage teak credenza was perfect for this tiny space.
|Living Room – BEFORE|
I always wanted to paint the brick fireplace in the living room, but Handy Hubby was adamant we keep
it au naturel and I grew to love the warmth of the brick. New fireplace doors helped update it and large scale DIY art (a poem stenciled on an antique mirror I saved from the bathroom renos) prevented brick-overload. DIY sheer curtains softened the large patio doors but let in a lot of lights. A cream leather sofa, scored from the classifieds, showcased DIY pillows in a mix of patterns. A vintage print and more artwork by Hubby’s Grandpa personalized the white walls. The vintage teak side tables were a $20 steal at an estate sale, while the Lotte lamps (they match the one in the guest bedroom), were found at an antiques show, without their original shades sadly, for a fraction of what they usually cost. My DIY billy buttons can be spotted beside the sofa.
|Kitchen – BEFORE|
Hubby was also against painting the kitchen cupboards so I stripped and re-varnished them to give them a fresher look. New brushed silver hardware completed the makeover, but I still kind of wish I could have painted them. We replaced the chipped, off-white laminate counter with budget friendly grey laminate counter that had the look of concrete – I loved that counter. We replaced the square tile backsplash, with weird, awkwardly placed accent tiles, with simple subway tile in a herringbone pattern. We bought a new sink but kept the existing faucet to save money. After unexpectedly having to replace the fridge, we were happy we chose budget-friendly choices in the kitchen. A vintage teak table and chairs upholstered in black and white houndsooth was my way of making peace with the existing black and white floor tile. 1960s Hungarian posters added colour to the otherwise neutral kitchen.
|Basement – BEFORE|
The basement was painted a dirty white, with two different kinds of peeling wallpaper. The unfinished laundry room was bleak. We removed the wallpaper, disguised flaws with textured paint (I know, I’m sorry), and painted the whole basement (ceiling tiles and all) a warm, unifying griege. It was a slow process. The laundry room was framed, dry-walled, and painted as well. For fun, we painted the concrete floors in the laundry room turquoise and added a
black and white curtain (made from our old duvet cover) to hide the washer, dryer, pipes, and water tank. The door leading to the basement was turned into a minty message area and the railing was given a $1 makeover.
|Garage – BEFORE|
The former homeowners left such a disgusting mess in the garage when they left that even cleaning it (bottom right photo in the collage above) made a huge difference. We bagged and hauled away a truck load of their stuff, including unmentionables. Once it was clean, pale blue paint and a blue-wood storage unit we built made the space functional and much less dreary.