PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Once our holiday decorations come down, we often notice all the things in our house we want to change.
A local interior designer and her husband converted a century-old school house into a stylish pad – all on a very small budget.
They shared their tips with KDKA on how to make your home look designer, without spending a lot of money.
When Leanne and Brad Shaffer found a 1907 Sewickley school house for sale, they knew it was home.
But when they first bought it, it looked like something straight out of the 1970s.
The first thing they did was paint all the walls white, for a blank canvas.
Their first tip: go white, but add texture.
“We added these boards to make the windows wider and more interesting,” said Leanne Shaffer. “We brought the bead-board back, which makes it not a boring room, adding the white texture anywhere we can get it.”
Tip two: if you don’t have the storage for all your pots and pans, basic peg board turns your kitchenware into an interesting visual.
They replaced old kitchen cabinets with new white ones. That can be expensive, but the ones the Shaffer’s used are from Ikea.
Tip three: make affordable basics look expensive by adding designer hardware like the handles they got at Anthopologie.
But designer doesn’t have to be expensive.
Tip four: scour antique shops for unique finds.
“We got this at an antique sale in Butler, my hometown,” said Brad Shaffer. “It used to be from a bakery, so it worked well as an island.”
They also salvaged a skull from a shop in Bedford.
“It was all red and blue and painted,” Shaffer said. “They had fabric glued to it. It was $6, we took it home, fixed it up and it’s back to its cool condition.”
The sink was $3 from a junk yard in Butler — the faucet from an old chemistry lab.
Their other favorite shopping spots: Construction Junction in Homewood, Tri-State Antiques in Cannonsburg and Craigslist.
Tip five: a unique way to get overhead lighting without ripping out the ceiling is to install can lights.
“The classic porcelain fixtures that you can buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot,” Shaffer said. “They’re like $2.50 -$3, but they come in an off-white porcelain color, so we spray painted them all glossy black. Cheap light fixture, but they look cool.”
Tip six: disguise the TV by not making it a focal point.
“To make it feel less noticeable, we just did a cluster of art around it, which I think is a really easy way to do that,” Shaffer said.
Leanne and Brad wanted more space upstairs, so they ripped out those false walls that hid storage, making room for a day bed in the hallway.
That’s tip seven: use all of your space.
And when you still don’t have enough – tip eight: double the use of a room with a dividing curtain. One room in the Shaffer’s house serves as an office, or a guest room.
Tip nine: go without a curtain at all in the bathroom. It opens up the small space.
And tip 10: embrace imperfection.
They ripped out carpet and vinyl to find the original hardwood floors.
“It’s imperfect, but we don’t mind at all,” Shaffer said. “I mean it’s not the cleanest, it has holes in it that are natural – actually, the schoolhouse floors, they have holes from the desks so if you see the imperfections and patches which I love, makes it more interesting.”
Leanne and Brad recently formed a design company called Acre Goods and Services, where they sell interesting finds and design homes and businesses.