Inside a Fashion Designer's Fixer-Upper: From Bungalow to Dream Home

Updated 07/12/17
Product Disclosure
Courtesy of Cydney Morris

We've been fans of It girl Cydney Morris ever since we discovered her fashion line Stone Cold Fox (if you aren't already familiar with this Southern California–based brand, get ready to fall in love the ethereal, vintage-inspired gowns, boho-chic tops, and more). As the co-founder and designer, Morris embodies that coveted look of bohemian elegance like few can, and that extends beyond her wardrobe and into her home. So unsurprisingly, we were pretty excited here at MyDomaine HQ to find out that she recently bought her first home and is documenting the redesign process of the fixer-upper on Instagram.

Since we're always on the lookout for home makeover inspiration, we got in touch with the creative to hear all about her redesign plans, tips, and challenges so far. Ahead, check out our conversation with Morris, and then scroll through to see the before and after photos of the first few phases in the transformation. Stay tuned as we update this post each month with the latest behind-the-scenes updates of Morris's charming beachside bungalow, and follow her progress on @thefoxalow.

Rapid Fire With Cydney Morris

Courtesy of Cydney Morris

MYDOMAINE: When was this house built?

CYDNEY MORRIS: The house was built in 1924. Ninety-three years ago—that just amazes me! It’s from before my grandma was even born. I’m sure if those walls could talk, they would have some pretty good stories.

MD: How would you describe its style of architecture?

CM: I would describe it as a craftsman style bungalow with architectural salvage accents. It has an interesting layout from the original 1920s design, which has made it challenging yet fun to design.

Courtesy of Cydney Morris

MD: Do you have a directive for the space, or are you trying to leave room for improvisation as things move along?

CM: My main goals are to have a beautiful open space that is welcoming, comfortable, and airy to accommodate friends who pop over. There’s also going to be an outdoor area for lots of wine/pasta parties. I want it to be a home to start a family in yet also a place to resell and profit off of one day. Eventually, I would love to work out of it a couple days a week.

Courtesy of Cydney Morris

MD: How would you describe your style? Is it similar to your sense of style with clothing, or is it different?

CM: My style is pretty laid-back. I’m a Victorian vintage white lace top–and-Levi’s kind of girl. Otherwise, you can find me wearing a beautiful Stone Cold Fox silk dress pretty much always. Our clothes are comfortable yet so feminine and timeless, which I want my home to reflect as well.

I think if someone walked into my house not knowing who it belongs too, it screams me and the Stone Cold Fox name 100%! The reason I love vintage clothes is the same reason I like putting time into antique furniture. It’s nice knowing that no one else has that piece, and it tells a beautiful story.

The First Phase of the Makeover

Courtesy of Cydney Morris

Since this is a fixer-upper, Morris decided to pace the redesign process over the course of a few years. She’s currently just getting started with what she calls “phase one” of the makeover. To amplify space and allow for more natural light, Morris “took out the ceiling in the living room to expose the beams and add four skylights.” Before, “it seemed super low and claustrophobic,” she tells us, so “the decision was worth every penny.”

She continues, “It completely changed the house for the best. I love windows and light—I think I almost cried when they first put the skylights in, I love it so much.” The other priorities during this monthlong phase are bathroom and kitchen redesigns as well as adding French doors to the side entrance. Phase two of the redesign project is all about increasing the resell value of the property. This phase will include working on the landscaping of the yard, enhancing the office, and potentially even adding another bathroom.

Selecting a Color Palette

Coming up with a color palette can be both the best and the worst part of redecorating. It creates a cohesive aesthetic, sets the tone for the overall mood of the home, and communicates your personal style. In other words, the pressure’s on. But once you establish the right color scheme, committing to it will be easy, even if it’s strict. “I always change my mind and love to redesign rooms every few months, so if I stick to white as the basics, that allow me to have fun with art, décor, and rugs,” Morris tells us.

Plus, “the house is tiny,” so a color palette that opens the space up rather than making it feel claustrophobic is essential, she says. As such, she chose to go with a total whiteout, which will make it feel a lot more fresh and spacious. Think wood floors, bright white walls, honed marble, white linens, polished nickel, unfinished oak, sisal, plenty of greenery, and plenty of French antiques.

Her Styling Tips

Courtesy of Cydney Morris

Considering that Morris is pretty much a pro when it comes to patience and style, we had to ask her what her main takeaways have been so far, as well as her best advice. Since she’s sticking to a relatively tight color scheme of neutral hues, she suggests bringing in more dimension and intrigue by mixing textures and high and low pieces. That being said, she plans on staying open-minded about color, since a coat of paint and new knobs can make anything new again.

She also advises anyone starting the design process from scratch to prioritize and invest in things that are essential to health and hygiene, like quality bedding, a good mattress, and cooking supplies. This way, you get to “have fun looking for antique pieces like tables, headboards, and outdoor areas at flea markets,” she says.

What Makes the Wait Worthwhile

Courtesy of Cydney Morris

When we asked Morris what the most rewarding element of purchasing a fixer-upper is, she emphasized the luxury of building a house into a home from scratch. Owning a home means having the freedom to create a space that’s completely your own and custom-designed around your interests, lifestyle habits, personal tastes, and emotional needs. You literally could not feel more at home anywhere else, which makes the effort feel totally worth it. But as far as the actual process goes, it actually seems a lot less stressful than we’d imagine.

In fact, Morris’s favorite part is going to the property every morning to check in, since she’s couch surfing until the project is completed. Plus, communicating and working closely with the team working on her house have made her appreciate “all that beautiful craftsman work” they do. She admits, though, that it definitely requires a lot of patience. “Maybe I watch HGTV too much, but I’m always begging to break down a cabinet or wall,” Morris jokes.

Have you ever transformed a fixer-upper? Share your tips in the comment section below, and don’t forget to check back in for more updates next month!

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