A Former Builder-Grade House’s Reno Means High Ceilings and Cozy Nooks

A Former Builder-Grade House’s Reno Means High Ceilings and Cozy Nooks

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Name: Krystle Perkins, my husband, and our 3-year-old son
Location: Dallas, Texas
Type of home: House
Size: 2,300 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, own

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: We purchased our home in 2018 knowing that it was going to be a fixer-upper. We had been shopping for homes in our $250k budget and when we saw this one we knew it was “it.” Most of the homes in our budget were small ’60s ranch style, but this was newer with tall ceilings and amazing natural light. We saw it Friday afternoon, placed an offer that night, and they accepted the next day. We quickly renovated the upstairs prior to moving in just to get it livable. The plan was to live up there and slowly DIY the lower level. Our plans quickly changed when we found out that I was pregnant and knew we needed to do the work fast. Now this house needed a TON of work, both structural and cosmetic.

I had always loved interiors and knew I wanted to try my hand at designing our home. My husband is Danish, which is perfect because we both gravitate more towards the core principles of Scandinavian style. One of the reasons we had so much trouble looking at houses was because so many of them were flips and we couldn’t handle the choices they made! I didn’t want to pay for someone’s poor stylistic choices. Plus, traditional Texas homes are very very beige. We decided to move forward with our remodel and hired a contractor, took out a loan, and began the most stressful 14 months of our lives. We had a horrible experience with a family friend that essentially ended up mismanaging/stealing funds. It extended the project and ended up costing WAY more than the typical twice as much. During the ordeal I was working a full-time job, designed an entire house, became pregnant, gave birth, and went back to work. All without a kitchen.

For the design of the home we knew we wanted to bring this 1980s basic builder grade home to a modern place. We removed some load bearing walls to make the home open concept. We focused on a neutral color palette of white, wood, and black knowing that we would use furnishing to add warmth and color. We were working on a budget so everything that I sourced had to be affordable while also giving us a more modern sleek look. I remember doing everything I could to pinch pennies on finishes. We finally finished the remodel at the end of 2019 and had a blank slate. No furniture, but a functioning kitchen, FINALLY. We were also severely overextended financially due to our remodel. But in 2020 I (like most of the world) was able to start working from home. It gave me some extra freedom to start DIYing some of the projects that I wanted to do.

My first woodworking project was a kid’s nook for my son in the awkward spot under the stairs. I love marrying form and function. Our house today is almost unrecognizable from where it started and we continue to evolve and tweak corners everyday. I still have a project list that is a mile long, but I love having this safe haven that is truly a reflection of our personal style. I am looking forward to adding some more color this year and redoing our upstairs (we’ve got some stuff that needs fixing after our quick flip four years ago!).

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Organic Modern Minimal DIY’d Scandinavian

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is our main living room right off the kitchen. It is one of the boldest design choices that I made, to have the wood slats on the ceiling and black beams. It informed a lot of design choices throughout the rest of the home. We also have our feature bookshelf wall — which created some mild controversy on TikTok. My husband loves to read when we finally had bookshelves to unpack his books onto after them being in boxes for so long he said “it finally feels like home.” It also features my kids nook, which I am so proud of and just overall it’s so cozy.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The most recent thing we bought for our home was a new fence! It was something that we have needed desperately since we bought the home, we kept thinking wood prices would go back down, but alas… we decided to bite the bullet (goodbye $$) and we are so happy we did. We have already spent so much more time out there since extending the side yard and making it more functional. More recently I just picked up my DREAM bedding from Dusen Dusen that I have had my eye on for years. I am working on a guest bedroom remodel and I can’t wait to use it!

Any advice for creating a home you love? I think a lot of making a home is trial and error. Some things that you try aren’t going to work out and you need to embrace it as part of the process. You are on a journey to find something that works aesthetically but also functionally for your family and sometimes the only way to know that is to try. Don’t worry about it being “Right” don’t worry about resale, if it’s something you love, go for it and live with it.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

Drew Barrymore’s DIY Kitchen Demolition Is Hilarious and Heartfelt

Drew Barrymore’s DIY Kitchen Demolition Is Hilarious and Heartfelt

Arielle Tschinkel

Contributor

Arielle Tschinkel is a freelance pop culture and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared on Shape.com, WomansWorld.com, FirstforWomen.com, Insider, HelloGiggles, and more. She loves all things Disney and is making her way to every park around the world, and is a die-hard Britney Spears fan for life. She’s also obsessed with her Bernedoodle, Bruce Wayne.

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This is the Most Stressful Room to Renovate, According to One Study

This is the Most Stressful Room to Renovate, According to One Study

Renovating your home, although rewarding, can be an extremely stressful process. The truth is, it’s unlikely it’ll be plain sailing the whole way through, but the ups and downs will be worth it in the end.

To find out which rooms of the house are the most (and least) stressful to make over, Toolstation conducted a study to find out people’s renovation regrets and how the process made them feel.

49 percent of renovators thought that the kitchen was the most stressful room to work on. This is likely due to the kitchen being the center of the home, and when it’s being renovated, cooking up a meal is going to prove challenging. Take out it is, then.

The second most stressful room to renovate, according to the research, is the bathroom. 22 percent of respondents sat that they dread bathroom renos, probably due there not being easy access to the toilet and shower. This, plus any plumbing or design issues make for a stressful time.

When it comes to the easy breezy renovation rooms, only 3 percent of respondents find dining room re-dos stressful. After all, not everyone has a dining room so it’s pretty easy to cope without one. Just skip the dinner parties for a while.

As for renovation regrets, 56 percent of survey respondents regret attempting any sort of DIY, wishing they had left it for the professionals, while 31 percent of say that they underestimate the likelihood of problems arising, wearing rose-tinted glasses and thinking everything will go smoothly. 16 percent of people say that they focused too much on the aesthetic, rather than functionality, when renovating, and 16 percent of people wish that they hadn’t automatically gone with the cheapest quote.

But in the end, 86 percent are satisfied with the finishing product of their renovation, which is the main thing.

7 of the Best “Game-Changer” Home Projects You Can Do for Under $1,000, According to Reddit

7 of the Best “Game-Changer” Home Projects You Can Do for Under $1,000, According to Reddit

Kelly Dawson

Contributor

Kelly Dawson is a media consultant based in Los Angeles. She is a prolific writer for notable publications including Cup of Jo, Vox, AFAR, Dwell, Martha Stewart Living, McSweeney’s and Architectural Digest. Kelly is the three-time guest editor for Refinery29’s “Voices of Disability” series, two-time guest host of “Call Your Girlfriend,” and deputy editor at Apartment Therapy.

A Brief History of Popcorn Ceilings

A Brief History of Popcorn Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings are usually the first thing to go on reno shows these days, but it wasn’t too long ago that they were widely popular. If you’ve ever wondered why this design feature was ever chosen in the first place, you’re not alone. Read on to learn more about the history of popcorn ceilings, according to those in the industry who know about its complicated past.

Why They Got to Be So Well Liked

“It was an inexpensive and easy way to hide imperfections and still give the illusion of a dazzling white finish,” explains Tina MartinDelCampo, founder of Tina Martin Interiors.

This ceiling trend began in the 1950s and continued until the ‘80s. “They could be found in many new low- to mid-cost housing developments and multi-story residential buildings,” elaborates Decorist designer Maria DeLucia. “The age and style of homes varied greatly because it was used in both new construction and renovations of older styles.” 

Popcorn ceilings were popular because of the helpful functions that they provided. For starters, applying this finish was quicker than making ceilings smooth, which have to be drywalled, primed, and painted. The texture of popcorn ceilings simply covers any minor to moderate irregularities and eliminates the need to apply, feather, and sand multiple layers or fill in holes, says Jordan Fulmer, founder of Momentum Property Solutions, a home renovation company.

Its quick and affordable application was especially useful in the ‘50s, which marked the start of a construction explosion. The decade saw a sharp increase in the number of houses being built to accommodate the growing economy and burgeoning suburbs following World War II. Popcorn ceilings could keep up with this need for speed, saving builders time and energy.

Along with being inexpensive and hiding imperfections, popcorn ceilings also had sound-dampening qualities. “They can reduce echoes in a room just like carpet or acoustic wall panels,” says Fulmer. In places where one might have loud neighbors — like apartment buildings and schools — popcorn ceilings became increasingly common.

What Caused Their Downfall

A key material in mid-century popcorn ceilings was the impetus of their downfall. Popcorn treatment originally contained asbestos, which was discovered to be harmful to human health. “Asbestos is a natural fiber mineral that can be released into the air and cause serious health issues, like cancer, if inhaled or ingested,” MartinDelCampo explains.

But popcorn ceilings containing asbestos typically aren’t harmful unless disturbed. When damaged, crumbled, or removed, they can be unsafe. When the use of asbestos was banned in all U.S. homes as part of the Clean Air Act in the late 1970s, manufacturers switched to tiny particles of vermiculite or polystyrene instead of asbestos, DeLucia says. Still, the association these ceilings had with asbestos ultimately caused them to garner a negative reputation. They steadily declined in popularity after the ‘80s, and popcorn ceilings haven’t made a comeback since.

Today, popcorn ceilings are rarely, if ever, chosen in a new build. “It’s viewed as outdated and can even lower the value of your home,” says Katherine Meyers, Design Manager at Guest House, a home staging company. They aren’t just passé — the design trend is actively disliked by many. “Almost all of my clients react negatively to a popcorn ceiling,” says MartinDelCampo. “It’s one of the very first things they have safely removed from the house.” (All of the designers I spoke to for this article agree, though there are still some supporters!)

While popcorn ceilings might be lacking love now, though, they certainly had their moment in design history and solved problems in their heyday. In recent years, a new technique has filled the same niche. “Many newly-built homes have utilized ‘knockdown texture’ instead of popcorn,” Fulmer explains. “This texture is a little more subtle, while still giving builders the benefits of masking drywall imperfections.” (Popcorn ceilings have a more brazen cottage cheese texture, which is why they are also known as “cottage cheese ceilings,” because the original mixture looked like the dairy food when sprayed on.)

As for what to do if you have popcorn ceilings? Removing them yourself is extremely messy and labor-intensive — and possibly dangerous. Otherwise, you can hire someone to do so professionally. “Expect to spend at least $1 to $2 per square foot,” Meyers says.

Or you might just let them stick around. With design trends always coming and going, you could just be one of the first to bring the infamous popcorn ceiling back.