For various reasons, Steve and I have ended up living in quite few different places over the years. While I can’t exactly say that I enjoy moving, there is definitely something exciting about a fresh space. I love finding creative ways to upgrade and decorate a place to make it feel like home.
While we’ve been through several smaller and larger homes since then, I was prompted to look back to our very first house by the folks at Urban Compass, a NYC-based company helping people find apartments in the city. My little sis recently moved to Manhattan to study at Parsons (I’m so proud!!), so I know that in a competitive housing market like New York or San Francisco, you definitely need every advantage you can to find a place to call home. And every space, however grand or humble, needs some finishing touches to make it your own. Our first townhouse was no exception. This little place was stuck in the 70s when we found it, but I’m glad we were able to see and bring out its charm. This is where I first started finding my style and developing DIY skills that can be used in any space!
Looking back, there were a lot of little projects that we did throughout the house, but most of the transformation came down to a few easy tools you could use in your new space:
- paint – update your home with colors you love
- fabric – dress your windows and furnishings; replace doors in tight spaces
- add molding – I built a special board and batten wall that serves double-duty by providing soundproofing for a shared wall
Our house was brown, brown, brown, when we moved in. As a special touch, our garage door didn’t match the attached unit to our left (top picture below)! I found a pretty gray-blue paint, and we re-painted all the trim on the house, including our neighbor’s garage door – proof that a little paint can go a long way in updating your home!
Here’s Steve up on the rooftop (like Old Saint Nick!) transforming our dreary brown house into a charming cottage!
Paint went a long way on the inside of our house, too. The top picture below is of our bedroom when we first moved in. The walls were boring beige, and the windows had functional, but unremarkable, blinds. In the second picture, you can see the tranquil space we created with some light blue paint. More about those window valances and the molding… keep reading!
Our house had functional, if uninteresting, mini-blinds on all the windows. Rather than spend money changing them, I sewed fabric valances for all the windows, which gave them a finished and warm look.
A lot of starter homes are full of tight spaces. The little bathroom off of our bedroom had a rickety bifold door that made the tiny space even more cramped, so I removed it and replaced it with a curtain that matched the valances in the bedroom. A curtain would be great solution for a small laundry area, too. Bonus: I trimmed the bathmat and shower door in the same fabric!
Board and Batten with Soundproofing!
DIYers are familiar with tricks like adding molding to give character to a plain space. The wall between our bedroom and our neighbor’s was paper-thin (and we had the detailed notes left by our curmudgeonly neighbor to prove it), so when I added trim to this wall, I put sound-insulating foam behind the boards to give us both more peace and privacy. The thicker trim also left a little ledge for display.
I had a lot of fun walking down memory lane to put together this post, and I love that many of the projects I did years ago would work just as well in any home today.
Look at this picture I found of moving day! Gone are the days of fitting a futon and a few boxes into a little rental van. It was a lot of work to move ourselves, but we had the help of friends, and I do feel nostalgic looking back.
I still smile looking back on this first home sweet home. I love the projects we did to make it beautiful, and I hope you are feeling inspired to make your mark on your own space!