In Los Angeles, if you aren’t lucky enough to have an obscene amount of money in cash or parents willing (and able) to gift you a down payment, buying your first home can be quite a challenge. After eight months of nonstop looking (as in literally four to 10 open houses every weekend with our real estate agents for eight months), my husband Damien and I finally found our dream home. Scratch that—we found a home in our favorite neighborhood with great “bones” that was recently flipped and that we knew we could turn into our dream home.
Let me explain: L.A. is full of people with the aforementioned criteria. Because of this fact, every home we bid on would get 15 to 25 offers, and the lucky person who could pay in cash got the house ($750k–900k in cash!). Damien and I simply didn’t have that. Then one day something clicked. These houses we were bidding on were beautifully designed and located in great neighborhoods that were move-in ready. Of course they were getting 20 offers—they were already perfect!
It was then that we started looking at houses that weren’t perfect but had potential. This shift is what got us our home. We found a newly flipped three-bedroom, three-bathroom house with a yard in our favorite neighborhood. The catch? It was newly flipped and not at all to our design taste. The good news is that because it got only five offers instead of 15 to 25, we landed our very first home. We did a month of cosmetic renovations and hired Caroline Wolf of Homepolish to help with the decorating.
Two and a half months later, our place with potential is now our perfect home! Keep reading to learn how we created the home of our dreams.
First off, this house had laminate floors that we hated and carpet in the bedrooms. We replaced the flooring throughout the house with real red-oak hardwood floors. It brightened up the entire place and gave it a much more modern feel.
Since this is our first home and we plan to be here for a while, we wanted to invest in quality furniture pieces. We walked into a Design Within Reach and sat on one of the store’s leather couches—it was love at first “sit.” The Como sectional would be our statement piece, anchoring the entire open floor plan. While there, we also found our media console and dining set.
The gallery wall was an idea I got from Pinterest, and Caroline skillfully plotted out the layout in Photoshop. All the pieces on the wall mean something to Damien and I. It includes photos I took on our honeymoon safari in Africa, a photo of NYC where we met, and art pieces by our friend Ryan Garvey. Frame Monster in L.A. custom-framed most of the pieces.
Since the open floor plan has very clean lines, I wanted a round table to soften it up. We went with the DWR Cross Round dining table in oak and six Eames chairs in three different colors and two different textures. Finally, we installed the DWR Nelson ball pendant lamp over the table. The storage piece on the floor is from IKEA and houses family china given to us by Damien’s parents. On the side wall hangs framed records we used as guest books for our wedding.
The kitchen was in pretty good shape, but it had a very busy backsplash. We switched it out for classic subway tile and changed out the cabinet pulls to brass ones I found on Amazon. We had the island cut smaller for more space and painted the kitchen door blue to match the front door that we changed out.
The biggest thing I learned from our renovations is the power of tile. Before our upgrades, the bathrooms looked dated and dark. We replaced the floors with mint penny rounds in the guest bathroom and soft blue hexagon tile in my bathroom. (Yes, I got my own bathroom.) We also changed out the vanities in two bathrooms and painted the vanity and walls in our master. New sinks, mirrors, and light fixtures completed the transformation.
Being an actress and fashion blogger means I work from home and get to take the smallest room in the house as my own. I worked with California Closets to design a beautiful walk-in closet and office where I can work and be inspired to get dressed. It just might be my favorite room in the house.
Luckily after the floors were changed, there wasn’t much that needed to be done in our master bedroom. We changed out the closet and bathroom doors and went to CB2 for our floating nightstands and bed frame. A dresser from Dot & Bo for Damien, decorative details like cactus planters and books, and we were done!