If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.
To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.
“After plans to build a new dream home fell through, I curiously went to visit a 100-year-old abandoned mercantile store. As soon as I walked the space, I knew this dilapidated building was meant to be my family’s next home,” says designer and DIY blogger Mandi Gubler. “During construction, the living and dining areas were a main focus, as I wanted to create a space where my family and friends could gather and socialize. The ceilings are tall so I had to make a lot of smart scale and color choices plus figure out a way to reopen the original windows, which had been boarded up and stuccoed over on the exterior since the 1960’s—seeing old pictures of the building made me excited to bring back the original design.”
Meet the Expert
Designer and DIY blogger Mandi Gubler of Vintage Designs describes her style as historic modern—she loves showing the imperfect history of a space, filling it with vintage finds, greenery, and touches of modern-day.
“In the 1940’s, what is now the main living area served as a mechanics garage, so we had to perform environmental soil tests—stressful! The walls are built from water adobe, meaning they are made out of dirt, packed into forms, dried, and stacked. There were some pretty ominous cracks and water damage that needed to be repaired,” shares Gubler. “There was also no electricity, water, or hvac in the space so we had to find creative ways to install all so as to not impede the design.”
“I love how the end product celebrates the old and new layers of life in this building. I kept the original adobe, repairing it with mud from our own yard yet I also put in some new finishes, including the unsealed maple floors and the steel staircase. I love living greens so wanted to make this space feel as close to a greenhouse as possible, filling it with potted plants, a green wall, and adding (18!) skylights!” notes Gubler. “Yet one of the biggest hurdles was finding a way to install new windows into the old adobe. I ended up building an exterior wall adjacent to the old exterior, which allowed for the replacement windows.”
- Color theme: Black + white + neutral wood + brick are the backdrop for the room’s punches of color that include mustard, jade, burgundy and navy.
- Floor: Hand-cut ¾” raw maple boards are laid in a unique geometric pattern while large vintage rugs add color and warmth to the space.
- Ceiling: The original cedar wood beamed ceiling and trusses were uncovered during construction and skylights were added to bring in natural light.
- Green wall: A 12-foot living wall is filled with tropical philodendrons, ferns and aroids to create a jungle-like vibe.
- Pendants: Beachball-sized globes with brass accents hang asymmetrically over the dining table.
- Wall sconces: Oversized sconces with long arms and frosted globes, along with ceramic flush mount sconces with a matte black finish fill the room with light.
- Leather sofa: A low-back modern leather sectional has a warm cognac hue.
- Canvas chairs: Natural sling-style canvas chairs with black metal frames provide additional seating.
- Coffee table: A white oak coffee table has a heavy grain and Scandinavian style turned legs.
- Dining table: A rich walnut dining table adds a hint of modern and provides a place for meals and family game nights.
- Dining chairs: Vintage arched dining chairs have a burl wood veneer and black woven seats.
- Bookshelves: Glass front floor-to-ceiling bookcases have a gray exterior and a bleached walnut interior; a ladder rolls along the rail for easy access to colorful vintage books.
- Windows: Large 3.5 x 7 Andersen Windows with black casings replicate the original design.
- Plants: Potted plants, including an oversized rubber tree, are displayed in white and black planters around the room.
- Paint colors: The windows are painted in Sherwin-Williams Tricorn Black; the bookcase in Sherwin-Williams Iron Ore; and the walls in Sherwin-Williams color Mandi White.
Shop the Look:
“I love the oversized look and fun feel of these globe pendants,” notes Gubler.
“This table is simple, modern, and family friendly,” notes Gubler.
“The arms on this matte black iron sconce rotate so you can focus light on whatever it is you want to illuminate,” says Gubler.