Home Tour: Single mom transforms Sharon Hills home — and shares tips for renovating on a budget

Home Tour: Single mom transforms Sharon Hills home — and shares tips for renovating on a budget
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Being stuck at home, I’ve spent a lot of time on Instagram and Pinterest soothing myself with interior design photos. Whether you need inspiration for your own house project or just want to read something unrelated to coronavirus, here’s a look at a SouthPark home we toured earlier this year.

Who: After a recent divorce, jewelry designer Madeline Hughes and her two children had to move out of their newly built custom house in Montibello. Starting from scratch, again, she transformed a dated SouthPark four-bed into a Bohemian-inspired family-friendly home.

Madeline is a mom to 4-year-old twins, Eloise and James, and two rescue dogs, Poppy and Milly. She owns a jewelry company called elle + j that she started in 2013 after she left her job in healthcare marketing, and she’s on the ALA LUNG FORCE Cabinet.

The house: Madeline bought her 2,500-square-foot 4-bed, 2.5-bath home in Sharon Hills in February 2019 for $439,000. The renovation took almost a year total, after tearing down walls, repainting the entire house, laying down new flooring, gutting the kitchen, and making several architectural upgrades.

“This house was actually on the market and I loved the street and thought it had so much potential. Unfortunately the price was a little high for me, and I wasn’t ready to commit yet. It went under contract,” she says. “But when I was ready to start looking, this house came back on the market — at a lower price, too! … I feel like it was meant to be and the pieces just started to fall into place.”

Quick background: Madeline and her then-husband finished building a custom house in January 2018, but got separated in September 2018. She needed to find a new house for her and the twins.

“But since I didn’t work outside of the home, I wouldn’t be able to qualify for a mortgage until my alimony counted as income for a certain amount of time,” she says. “I think this is something a lot of people may not realize that stay-at-home moms getting divorced have to figure out. So I had a tight budget to work with. … I didn’t know if I would find something I liked in my price range, in the area we wanted to be — and as fast as I needed to do it.”

Here’s the before:

madeline home tour before

madeline home tour before kitchen

madeline home tour before living room

Madeline recently let me take a tour of her house, and I found myself jotting down every bit of information she shared. I was beyond impressed with what she was able to do on a budget. Here are her tips.

(1) Prioritize paint, hardware, and lighting. These three things transformed the house. (It’s also the No. 1 piece of advice mentioned by others who’ve fixed-up a house.)

Madeline spent anywhere from $50 to $1,000 on light fixtures; $4,500 to paint the exterior and $6,000-$7,000 for the interior; and $12,500 for all new floors and carpet.

(2) Mix high- and low-end pieces. “Not everything has to be brand new or designer. I have Ikea and Target pieces with Anthropologie pieces and custom-made items mixed in. I did the same with building supplies — some of my tile came from Walker Zanger and some from Wayfair. I did semi-custom cabinets, but full custom open shelves,” Madeline says.

(3) DIY when you can. Madeline worked with interior Maggie Crandall of Crandall Haus on their previous house, and she knew she wanted to work with her again. Some of the rooms in this house were styled by Maggie, but Madeline did much on her own. Madeline also hired a contractor but acted as project manager to save money. (Her ex-husband has his general contractors license and works in land development for a home builder, so she knows a lot about the trade.)

(4) Repurpose what you already own. “When I purchase a nice piece of furniture, I have to love it and know that I can make it work in multiple places,” Madeline says. For example, “The two sets of drawers I use in my bedroom as a dresser now, used to be our bedside tables. The navy velvet couch in my front room was one of two we had in our old family room. I’ve moved mirrors and lamps from entry ways to bedrooms to an office. … I also have many special pieces that were in my parents and grandparents houses.”

(5) Do your research. Madeline thought installing a carpet runner up the stairs would be an easy/cheap way to elevate the design; turns out, it was not. So she opted to paint the stairs instead — a stylish compromise that saved her at least $1,300.

And instead of doing all custom cabinets, she did custom open shelves only.

“My open shelves were custom made but not the other cabinets. They were $1,600, but I think the guy said in the future he would charge more because it was harder than he initially thought,” she said. “I’m not sure how much cabinets would have been to be all custom; I had quotes from $10-$20,000 and ended up mid range.”

OK, here’s a look around.

Madeline Hughes Home Tour entry

Madeline Hughes Home Tour swing

Madeline Hughes Home Tour ladie's lounge  Madeline Hughes Home Tour front of the house

Madeline Hughes Home Tour coffee table

Madeline Hughes Home Tour island

“My custom kitchen shelves are one of my favorite touches and were built by Josh Utsey,” Madeline says.

Madeline Hughes Home Tour kitchen cabinets

Madeline Hughes Home Tour kitchen

The waterfall edge island was No. 1 on Madeline’s must list — and one of her priciest investments. She spent $10,000, roughly double what she was quoted for an island without the waterfall edge.

Madeline Hughes Home Tour family room 2

The family room is Madeline’s favorite space. “We spend the most time here and I wanted it to be family friendly and cozy. When I first looked at the house, I knew I would love being in this room because of the view of the backyard,” she says.

Madeline Hughes Home Tour photo gallery

“I love using local women-owned businesses when I can. Maggie Crandall was a huge part of this project. I also used Amber at Re:Pop to paint cabinets, Charlotte Simpson Baucum to custom paint my bedroom wall and the twins’ bathroom. I have art from local artists — Kathleen Murphy, Amy Moffat, Sydney Durrett just to name a few. My gallery wall is all family photos by Erica Mark Photography. I’ve purchased items from House of Nomad, Cotswold Marketplace, and Slate Interiors.”

Madeline Hughes Home Tour family room

Madeline Hughes Home Tour books

Madeline Hughes Home Tour dining room

Madeline Hughes Home Tour powder room

The powder room is Madeline’s favorite room fully styled by Maggie. Fun fact: Madeline wasn’t planning on buying a bathroom vanity, but she actually found it to be a less expensive way to modernize the space. Madeline Hughes Home Tour girl's bedroom

Madeline Hughes Home Tour girl's room dresser

Madeline Hughes Home Tour kids' bathroom

A full bathroom renovation wasn’t in the cards. So Madeline had the twins’s bathroom vanity painted and hire Charlotte Simpson Baucum to custom paint the walls with this fun zebra print.       

Madeline Hughes Home Tour son room

Madeline Hughes Home Tour son's room

Madeline Hughes Home Tour bedroom

Madeline Hughes Home Tour dresser


Interested in inviting us into your home? Email hi@charlotteagenda.com for a chance to be featured. Want to see inside more interesting properties? Check out previous Agenda Home Tour features. Related Agenda real estate guides: Best custom home builders in Charlotte, Best architects in Charlotte, and Best interior designers in Charlotte.

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