Home tour: See inside this First Ward home renovation, with budget-friendly design tips

Home tour: See inside this First Ward home renovation, with budget-friendly design tips
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Designer Melissa Lee of New South Home transformed the downstairs of this First Ward home with fresh paint, some wallpaper, updated light fixtures, and new furniture. These non-invasive projects created a calming, comfortable oasis — something we can all appreciate right now.

“We were able to create a completely new feel to the bones of the home with these easy changes,” Lee says. “Adding new furniture and accessories completed each room and allowed us to show the client’s style and each room’s personality.”

Typically, when you a hire a professional, a project of this scale costs around $15,000-$30,000 per room.

But DIY materials have come a long way the last few years. So Lee shared some designer tips on how to create a look you love for less.

9th street before

9th street living room before

This is before Lee worked her magic

9th street living room

9th street living room details

And after (after photos courtesy of/by Laura Sumrak)

(1) If you don’t know where to start, consider the rooms where you spend the most time in first.

“These days we are most likely in our kitchens, living rooms, and home offices,” she says. “There are a ton of opportunities for reorganization and small updates you can do in all of these rooms while stuck at home.”

9th street fireplace

9th street entry

(2) Buy some paint.

Painting your home is the cheapest way to make the biggest impact, Lee says. A can of paint is typically under $50.

“This whole home had the walls, kitchen cabinets, and ceilings repainted and it completely updated and changed the mood of the home,” she says.

You should be realistic about your skill level, though. Walls are OK for beginners, but kitchen and bathroom cabinets, for example, require more expertise.

9th street bar stools

(3) Upgrade your hardware with satin brass or matte black cabinet knobs/pulls.

Hardware are designer favorites at the moment, and you can replace the knobs/pulls yourself with minimal cost and effort. A pack of knobs on Amazon clocks in under $30 (I have this 10 pack and this 25-pack in my shopping cart).

“The easiest method is to stick with the same size and type of hardware so that you don’t have empty holes or the need to drill additional ones,” Lee adds.

New light fixtures also make a huge different. You can find gorgeous options for less than $100 from places like Wayfair or Target.

9th street dining room

9th street powder room

9th street powder room wallpaper

(4) Use peel and stick options.

Replacing tile or getting professional installed wallpaper is expensive. But peel and stick wallpaper and tile have improved a lot recently.

Lee says peel and stick wallpaper is a good option for those living in apartments because it’s easy to remove.

And if you want to upgrade your kitchen without spending a fortune on tile installation, peel and stick tile is a thing, too.

Lee recommends using it for an inexpensive kitchen backsplash. “This is the only place I would recommend this product. It’s definitely an easy and inexpensive way to upgrade your kitchen appearance.”

I like this faux marble backsplash on Amazon; it’s $40 for ten 12-by-12 sheets.

(5) Accessories are your friend.

Woven baskets (for your walls or storage), low-maintenance plants, art, pillows, rugs, and curtains can make a big difference. You can buy these items to layer in more personality and texture over time.

Lee says it’s best to keep large furnishings neutral and classic, then add in color and trends in accessories so that a room refresh is easy and inexpensive down the road.

9th street living room

9th street living room art

9th street plants  9th street dining


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