Delights and Diversions: 5 Fulfilling Things To Do at Home Right Now


As we find ourselves unexpectedly hunkered down at home, now is the time to tackle household hopes and dreams—or, at least, to find some inside amusement. Transform your living room by repositioning the sofa, clean overlooked workhorses (such as your washing machine), and get to those repairs and creative projects on your rainy day To Do list.

We ourselves are turning to the Remodelista archive for ideas and inspirations. Here are some favorites.

1. Finally Do It Yourself

Our own Justine Hand used a tree stencil to pattern the white walls of her son&#8
Above: Our own Justine Hand used a tree stencil to pattern the white walls of her son’s bedroom: see The DIY Boreal Forest. (She also roller-painted a pattern onto a wall in her daughter’s room: see that project and more in Editors’ Favorites: Our Top 10 Weekend Projects.)
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Above: “When I couldn’t stand looking at my bedroom’s bare walls another minute, I dug out some art supplies I already had and set out to create something to hang above the bed,” says former Remodelista editor Dalilah Arja of her DIY Block Prints. She used foam board and a piece of scrap wood for her blocks, and, in lieu of a frame, she hung each print from a nail and a binder clip.

Looking to upgrade your rental? See Expert Advice: 23 Genius, Reversible, Budget-Friendly Hacks to Transform a Rental Apartment. For many more ideas, such as the hugely popular Shingled House Easy Burlap Shades (for Less Than $20 Each), peruse our DIY Projects archive. Photograph by Justine Hand.

2. Rearrange the Furniture

Use what you&#8
Above: Use what you’ve got but shift it around—and see how uplifting it can be to enter what feels like a new room. Get ideas from 11 Ways to Make a Room Look Bigger. Nothing fancy required: low-slung pieces create an open feel, as designer Corinne Gilbert demonstrates in her low-key chic apartment shown here (as featured in Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home). Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Deletions can also be the answer: this small-space design by Workstead feels much roomier thanks to the absence of a rug and curtains. Find more pointers in Tips for Creating the Illusion of Space. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Above: Deletions can also be the answer: this small-space design by Workstead feels much roomier thanks to the absence of a rug and curtains. Find more pointers in Tips for Creating the Illusion of Space. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

3. Create Artful Order

Our all-time favorite approach to organization? Put up a Shaker-style peg rail and gain instant order. Shown here, a rail made by Michigan workshop Peg and Rail from our book The Organized Home. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Above: Our all-time favorite approach to organization? Put up a Shaker-style peg rail and gain instant order. Shown here, a rail made by Michigan workshop Peg and Rail from our book The Organized Home. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Our companion site, The Organized Home, is filled with artful ideas for every room. These Fabric-Wrapped Hangers are a Depression-era trick that brightens closets—and enables the clothes to stay in place. Photograph by Pez Madrid.
Above: Our companion site, The Organized Home, is filled with artful ideas for every room. These Fabric-Wrapped Hangers are a Depression-era trick that brightens closets—and enables the clothes to stay in place. Photograph by Pez Madrid.

4. Deep Clean

In Expert Advice: Editors&#8
Above: In Expert Advice: Editors’ Top 23 Cleaning Tips, we detail solutions that make use of on-hand ingredients, such as vinegar, salt, even toothpaste (it’s great for polishing jewelry). Photograph by Justine Hand.
Now that surface cleaning has become a daily ritual, take the scouring to the next step: Clean Your Washing Machine and Your Dishwasher (over time, grime takes its toll and they both deserve a scouring). On a roll? Clean your mattress and pillows, too. Photograph by Justine Hand.
Above: Now that surface cleaning has become a daily ritual, take the scouring to the next step: Clean Your Washing Machine and Your Dishwasher (over time, grime takes its toll and they both deserve a scouring). On a roll? Clean your mattress and pillows, too. Photograph by Justine Hand.

Go to our Domestic Science archive for more ideas, including a DIY All-Purpose Cleaner Made from Essential Oils and a DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner.

5. Love Your Bed

Even maximalists find it easier to sleep in a room stripped of excess stuff. This storage bed on Cape Cod doubles as a dresser. For space-enlarging approaches, see Justine&#8
Above: Even maximalists find it easier to sleep in a room stripped of excess stuff. This storage bed on Cape Cod doubles as a dresser. For space-enlarging approaches, see Justine’s 12 Tips for Making a Small Bedroom Look Bigger.  And get inspiration from 27 of Our Favorite All-White Bedrooms. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

Trouble sleeping? See our 10 Secrets for a Better Night’s Sleep. Also consider The Scandinavian Sleep Secret—Mine and Yours Duvets.

Another soothing approach: The Monochrome Bedroom. This all-pink design—see Blush in the Boudoir—is in architect Jess Thomas&#8
Above: Another soothing approach: The Monochrome Bedroom. This all-pink design—see Blush in the Boudoir—is in architect Jess Thomas’s Brooklyn townhouse. For many more design ideas, scroll through our Steal This Look column. Photograph by Kate Sears.

Stay home, everyone, and stay well. And if you’ve tackled any household projects while sheltering in place, we’d love to hear about them—please fill us in in the Comments section below.



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A London Townhouse Remodel By Architectural Salvage Masters Retrouvius


“Reuse is not a design trend; it’s an attitude, a mindset, and a behavioral approach that isn’t just relevant today— it’s vital,” says Maria Speake. Back in the early 1990s in Glasgow, she and fellow architecture student Adam Hills watched historic buildings being demolished. “The madness of this process wasn’t just about unnecessary waste, it disregarded the common sense that used to underpin construction: valuing materials and craft.”

In response, the couple founded Retrouvius, their now 26-year-old London-based salvage company, that all this time has been leading by example. “In the simplest terms, we rescue materials, furniture, lighting and fixtures, and continue their life,” they write. “Increasingly, we understand our mission as something more fundamental: to enable and inspire reuse, not just as a design preference but as a way of life.”

Adam oversees the reclamation side of the business, and Maria runs the in-house design studio, applying rescued components to inventive remodels  (House & Garden UK named her designer of the year in 2019). A recent project that caught our eye is this Georgian townhouse in Notting Hill. It belongs to a successful costume designer with a love of patinated surfaces, old wood, and peace and quiet. Maria and team transformed her quarters into “a country home in the city.”

Photography by Tom Fallon courtesy of Retrouvius.

Formerly a series of &#8
Above: Formerly a series of “boxy dark rooms,” the garden floor was opened up by relocating the stair to the back of the lounge, shown here. Other key moves: exposing (and repairing) the original beams and introducing a rescued 17th century stone fireplace.

“It was originally from Somerset,” says Maria of the mantel. “When we first got it—from a wonderful architectural salvage dealer called Marcus Olliff—I tried to put it in a house in Somerset, but our clients thought it was too raw, which is, of course, what we love about it.”

The house is located near Portobello Road—the costume designer bought her velvet-upholstered armchair on Goldborne Road, at the far end of the Portobello Market.
Above: The house is located near Portobello Road—the costume designer bought her velvet-upholstered armchair on Goldborne Road, at the far end of the Portobello Market.
The costumier loves living with old textiles, of course, but has an aversion to painted walls: as Maria puts it, &#8
Above: The costumier loves living with old textiles, of course, but has an aversion to painted walls: as Maria puts it, “she feels a deep sense of gloom about flat emulsion.” To give the surfaces depth and nuance, the rooms are painted with limewash from Bauwerk.
The paneled door in the back of the lounge leads to a tiny guest bath. &#8
Above: The paneled door in the back of the lounge leads to a tiny guest bath. “To distract from the scale, the walls here are covered in an old wallpaper, we think it’s 1920’s but it’s possibly 1940’s—it’s outrageously glamorous,” says Maria. “The door is clad in oxidized copper sheets with amazing color variations and texture. Adam salvaged these from a building in Soho.”
The lounge opens to the dining area and kitchen, which references the costumier&#8
Above: The lounge opens to the dining area and kitchen, which references the costumier’s grandmother’s kitchen in Italy. Reuse, Maria points out, starts at home: the dining table, and Wishbone chairs were already part of the place, as was the Falcon range (which originally stood where the stone fireplace is now).
The cabinets are faced with th century marquetry floorboards that came out of a building in Vienna. The backsplash is made of slices of onyx that Adam bought from a fireplace and sculpture restorer who was retiring.
Above: The cabinets are faced with 18th century marquetry floorboards that came out of a building in Vienna. The backsplash is made of slices of onyx that Adam bought from a fireplace and sculpture restorer who was retiring.
This end of the kitchen overlooks a new sunroom. The marquetry cabinet fronts have a light limewash finish &#8
Above: This end of the kitchen overlooks a new sunroom. The marquetry cabinet fronts have a light limewash finish “to keep them pale” and the rafters are treated with a fire retardant paint.
A tall refrigerator and two fridge drawers are built into the new back stair partition. The flooring throughout is a mix of the original pine boards—&#8
Above: A tall refrigerator and two fridge drawers are built into the new back stair partition. The flooring throughout is a mix of the original pine boards—”lifted for insulation and leveling purposes”—and reclaimed wood: “you’d be hard-pressed to work out which is which,” says Maria.
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Above: “The old stair had that vibe of cramped servant’s stair,” says Maria. “The hierarchy of arrival and ease had to change.”

The interior window, she notes, is framed in copper and probably dates to the 1910s: “copper lights are a little more refined and urban than lead lights.”

The laundry, with it cupboards of reclaimed maple, is a &#8
Above: The laundry, with it cupboards of reclaimed maple, is a “wee temple to wood.”
The cupboards are inset with a band of sculptural antique Dutch cigar molds and custom vents. &#8
Above: The cupboards are inset with a band of sculptural antique Dutch cigar molds and custom vents. “One of the delights—and frustrations—of salvage is that we have a finite quantity of everything, so we always have to change and adapt, but it helps make projects unique” says Maria.
In one of the guest rooms, the bed is set in a nook paneled in reclaimed pine cheese boards (a longstanding Retrouvius speciality, these were used for maturing cheeses, hence the faint circular patterns, but, Maria assures, are odor free). The cutouts are small glass windows.
Above: In one of the guest rooms, the bed is set in a nook paneled in reclaimed pine cheese boards (a longstanding Retrouvius speciality, these were used for maturing cheeses, hence the faint circular patterns, but, Maria assures, are odor free). The cutouts are small glass windows.
The room has a built-in dresser and, just out of the photo, a compact sink from an old train car.
Above: The room has a built-in dresser and, just out of the photo, a compact sink from an old train car.
There&#8
Above: There’s a steam shower with cedar fittings and Moroccan-style tadelakt walls. Read about tadelelakt in Remodeling 101.
The basin is made from an old wood bread trough. The copper fixtures are from Waterworks.
Above: The basin is made from an old wood bread trough. The copper fixtures are from Waterworks.
The master bedroom has limewashed walls and original moldings. The rug is Swedish. Note the 30&#8
Above: The master bedroom has limewashed walls and original moldings. The rug is Swedish. Note the 1930’s glass door:  Maria says you can find designs like it on UK salvage website Salvo.
The room pairs two longstanding Remodelista favorites: the Moroccan Pom Pom Blanket and Ercol Stacking Chair (see also Updated Classics from Ercol).
Above: The room pairs two longstanding Remodelista favorites: the Moroccan Pom Pom Blanket and Ercol Stacking Chair (see also Updated Classics from Ercol).
Centuries and styles mix in the master bath. The tub was in the house, &#8
Above: Centuries and styles mix in the master bath. The tub was in the house, “so whoopie, perfect to be reused, albeit in a new location,” says Maria.
Antique sideboard as bathroom sink table, rRetrouvius design, London. Tom Fallon photo. Above: An antique English sideboard serves as a washstand. (“A great place to look for English furniture is the Decorative Collective website, says Maria.) The vintage enameled sink came out of the Retrouvius warehouse: “We were using it to clean teacups and old light fittings,” says Maria. “Our client used it to explain what she envisioned and we realized the basin had found its new owner.”Antique sideboard as bathroom sink table, rRetrouvius design, London. Tom Fallon photo.

Above: The zelliges tiles are from the Mosaic Factory : “they’re cut in a way that gives them a subtle geometric pattern.” To see more of Maria’s designs, go to Retrouvius; the company shop and showroom is in Kensal Green, London.

Some more projects that make artful use of vintage and found materials:



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At Home and Work with the Nina Plummer of Online Interiors Store Ingredients LDN


When Nina and Craig Plummer left London for Edinburgh, they came seeking soulful living. The two met as psychology students at Dundee University and they take an analytical approach to interiors and the feelings rooms impart. Self-taught design aficionados, they share a love of antiques, quiet spaces, and applying care and intention to their quarters: “We like to think that if we use our values to shape our homes, our homes will, in turn, shape the life that unfolds within them,” says Nina. Together they founded Ingredients LDN, a quietly beautiful online interiors store that “celebrates a slower pace.”

Their apartment on the drawing room floor of a Grade A-listed Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh’s New Town serves as their combination living quarters, work studio, showroom, and entertainment space. As such, it continually gets shifted around and restyled to telegraph what Ingredients LDN is all about. The couple spent months restoring the rooms to their original magnificence doing much of the labor themselves, from the wallpaper removal to the replastering and limewashing, including on the 14-foot ceilings. And they say it’s still coming together. Craig works in finance by day and Nina mans the shop. We were so intrigued by the vignettes she creates and photographs for their site that we asked her to show us around the flat and to fill us in on the behind-the-scenes story.

Photography by Nina Plummer for Ingredients LDN.

In the 60s, the townhouse was divided into four apartments. Theirs came with many original features intact but in need of care and restoration: an enormous number of details went into making the space look the way it does now. For instance, the windows were &#8
Above: In the 1960s, the townhouse was divided into four apartments. Theirs came with many original features intact but in need of care and restoration: an enormous number of details went into making the space look the way it does now. For instance, the windows were “brought  back to their original six-by-six astragals” and the damaged and largely missing floor was replaced by wide oak boards finished in a hard wax oil.

Shown here, the Danish classic OGK Safari Daybed cushioned with Kapok Mattresses made in West Africa of hand-woven cotton stuffed with silky kapok fibers (note that goods often sell out on ILDN and get replenished). The Carron cast-iron radiator is new and took many hands to lug up the stairs.

The same corner becomes the dining area when Nina and Craig are expecting friends for a meal—or Nina is shooting tabletop items. The set of antique bentwood chairs were purchased for &#8
Above: The same corner becomes the dining area when Nina and Craig are expecting friends for a meal—or Nina is shooting tabletop items. The set of antique bentwood chairs were purchased for “no more than £5 each”: Nina finds antiques by meticulously shopping online sources, such as UK auction consortium The Sale Room, classified ads site Gumtree, and “a huge list of independent antiques sellers whose style I like.”

The fireplace had been walled in: the Georgian Carrara marble mantel is newly added as is the plastered brick surround and hearth. The bamboo and silk hanging light is the Z11 by Ay Illuminate: “I adore their lamps and their values,” says Nina. “They work only with natural materials and are mindful of ethical and sustainable practices, so I used them in almost every room.”

During the several months Nina and Craig were awaiting building permits, they lived in the apartment with just a sofa and a mattress on the floor. Decotique&#8
Above: During the several months Nina and Craig were awaiting building permits, they lived in the apartment with just a sofa and a mattress on the floor. Decotique’s Le Grand Air design shown here came with its linen slipcover; it showcases Kirsten Hecktermann’s hand-dyed Velvet Jewel Cushion Covers, a longstanding Remodelista favorite made in custom colors for Ingredients LDN.

The limewashed walls are in Stone from Bauwerk of Australia. (For the lowdown on limewashing, see Limewashed Walls for Modern Times.)

The double doors that open to the kitchen were built by the couple&#8
Above: The double doors that open to the kitchen were built by the couple’s carpenter who modeled them after the traditional Georgian pattern on the interior shutters. The brass handle and plates were “the only pieces of original hardware left in the house.”
The couple knocked down the walls of what had been a tiny unheated kitchen and windowless bath to create space for deVol&#8
Above: The couple knocked down the walls of what had been a tiny unheated kitchen and windowless bath to create space for deVol’s Sebastian Cox kitchen. The cabinet fronts are band-sawn beech in varying widths and the counter is honed Cararra marble. The range is by Smeg.
The bridge faucet is deVol&#8
Above: The bridge faucet is deVol’s Aged Brass Ionian Tap. The peg rail, sourced from a small British maker on Etsy, is handy for hanging all sorts of things, including Handwoven Trivets and Cloth Bowl Covers.
At Nina&#8
Above: At Nina’s request, the deVol team designed an island on castors, so that it can be rolled out of the way as needed. The porcelain light is deVol’s Crackle Pendant hung from a vintage French pulley bought on eBay. The blonde Maple Cutting Boards in the back corner are by Josh Vogel of Kingston, New York’s, Black Creek Mercantile.
Nina&#8
Above: Nina’s stock comes from far and wide: the stoneware Mixing Pouring Bowl is by Sheldon Ceramics of Los Angeles and the Small Bowl and Spoon are from Notary Ceramics of Portland, Oregon. She and Craig are avid cooks—they keep supplies and equipment in a tall cabinet and utility room/pantry opposite the island (but not visible in these photos).
A cafe table and window seat. The couple finished the kitchen walls with waterproof Marmorino Venetian plaster (see Modern Plaster Walls, Six Ways).
Above: A cafe table and window seat. The couple finished the kitchen walls with waterproof Marmorino Venetian plaster (see Modern Plaster Walls, Six Ways).
An antique French bread cupboard &#8
Above: An antique French bread cupboard “complete with original knife marks” stands alongside the Smeg fridge. The stacked Fluted Soup Bowls are by Judy Jackson of NYC; the gray Tallow Candle is a Dutch design. The brass hanging rail and hooks are from deVol.
Kapok bedrolls and Kirsten Hecktermann pillows on the OGK Safari Daybed, designed in 6
Above: Kapok bedrolls and Kirsten Hecktermann pillows on the OGK Safari Daybed, designed in 1962 by Danish architect Ole Gjerlov-Knudsen when his son was going on a camping trip. (It’s available in the US from Nordic Design Ambassador/Model Camilla Vest.)

Nina hope to eventually rent a work space, but says “in the meantime, our business and our lives are incredibly intertwined and our home was designed to meet both needs.”

The master bedroom is cloaked in Libeco Belgian Linen. Suspended from hooks, the bedside porcelain hanging lights, also seen in the kitchen, are by deVol. The bed is from Gervasoni&#8
Above: The master bedroom is cloaked in Libeco Belgian Linen. Suspended from hooks, the bedside porcelain hanging lights, also seen in the kitchen, are by deVol. The bed is from Gervasoni’s Ghost collection by Paola Navone.
Like the living room, the walls are limewashed in a warm neutral called Stone. &#8
Above: Like the living room, the walls are limewashed in a warm neutral called Stone. “The process is easy and very forgiving,” says Nina. “The effect achieved depends on the brushstrokes you use: you can get an almost solid color or more of a plaster look.”
The couple converted a bedroom into the master bath. The new roll-top bathtub was purchased from C.P. Hart and painted Farrow & Ball&#8
Above: The couple converted a bedroom into the master bath. The new roll-top bathtub was purchased from C.P. Hart and painted Farrow & Ball’s Off Black. The brass shower and faucets are a customized Barber Wilson ensemble. The ledge provides open storage and conceals the plumbing for this bathroom and the one on the other side of the wall.
The second bedroom is used as a guest room and office. It&#8
Above: The second bedroom is used as a guest room and office. It’s shown here when it was a work in progress, with moody stripped walls and a stained green plastic carpet that in desperation Nina “flipped upside down to reveal a sort of burlap that worked quite well for the time being.”

See more of Nina’s tabletop inspirations in Fresh Starts, Morning Edition.

Three more combined work/live spaces:



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DIY Terrazzo Table by Heju of Paris


In the moments when they’re not running their Paris design firm, Heju, 25-year-old architects Hélène Pinaud and Julien Schwartzmann love to make things. They post their DIY inventions on the Heju blog, and Hachette in France collected them in a book, Design It Yourself: 35 Objets Design à Petits Prix et à Faire Soi-Même. One of our new favorites is the duo’s DIY terrazzo table, their poor man’s answer to the labor-intensive and pricey finish. They came up with the project after not succeeding in including terrazzo in one of their architectural commissions: frustration fueled months of thinking and testing, and led to their little speckled table, which makes use of broken tile rather than marble fragments. They kindly agreed to share it with us.

N.B.: This is the second in a series of Heju projects we’ll be presenting. Over at The Organized Home, we recently spotlighted the Heju DIY Wall Organizer.

Photography courtesy of Heju.

Perfect for use as a coffee table or side table, the design is entirely DIY, including the wood-and-brass base.
Above: Perfect for use as a coffee table or side table, the design is entirely DIY, including the wood-and-brass base.
The tabletop is a mix of cement, sand, and grout inset with colored tile fragments.
Above: The tabletop is a mix of cement, sand, and grout inset with colored tile fragments.

Terrazzo is traditionally made of marble (or other stone) chips set into a cement matrix that’s polished to a high sheen. Decorative and hardwearing, it’s often seen as lobby flooring in historic buildings. Of late, the finish has made a comeback, thanks to, among others, British designer Max Lamb: See An Effortlessly Cool Cafe in Amsterdam. We’ve also recently admired terrazzo Chez Marie Sixtine in Paris and in a Danish Designer’s Handmade Kitchen. The Heju version is less involved, but requires a bit more time and labor than most of their DIYs.

The tabletop has a textured look but a smooth finish. It can be any color combination; Hélène and Julien chose a pastel palette.
Above: The tabletop has a textured look but a smooth finish. It can be any color combination; Hélène and Julien chose a pastel palette.

Tools and Materials for the Top

This is a two-part project: It involves putting together the table base and then the terrazzo top.
Above: This is a two-part project: It involves putting together the table base and then the terrazzo top.

Materials include panels of MDF, a 1.5-kilo (3.3-pound) bag of white cement, 3 kilos (6.6 pounds) of fine sand (available from pet- and garden-supply stores), pale-pink grout, and ceramic tiles for breaking into pieces. For the full specs and step-by-step on how to make the table base, go to Heju.

Instructions

An MDF tray serves as the base for the concrete-sand-grout-tile mix. It&#8
Above: An MDF tray serves as the base for the concrete-sand-grout-tile mix. It’s made by gluing precut pieces of MDF with a neoprene glue, such as Loctite; $8.10.
The fun part: hammering the tiles into fragments. &#8
Above: The fun part: hammering the tiles into fragments. “The goal is to get different sizes of stones and especially abstract shapes,” explain Hélène and Julien. “For a natural result, we advise against using too perfect or too square pieces.”
The tile fragments are evenly sprinkled over the tray and also mixed into &#8
Above: The tile fragments are evenly sprinkled over the tray and also mixed into “the dough.”
The concrete, sand, and grout combination are mixed with water until they&#8
Above: The concrete, sand, and grout combination are mixed with water until they’re “the consistency of a beauty mask.”
The mixture is poured like cake batter into the frame and then evenly troweled. The tricky part is smoothing out the concrete without displacing the tile fragments.
Above: The mixture is poured like cake batter into the frame and then evenly troweled. The tricky part is smoothing out the concrete without displacing the tile fragments.
After the top is fully dry—it takes about three days—the MDF panels on the side are removed, and the top is turned over to reveal the terrazzo effect. For a smooth finish, use a fine-grit sandpaper. Hélène and Julien left theirs as is, but note you can also add varnish, if desired.
Above: After the top is fully dry—it takes about three days—the MDF panels on the side are removed, and the top is turned over to reveal the terrazzo effect. For a smooth finish, use a fine-grit sandpaper. Hélène and Julien left theirs as is, but note you can also add varnish, if desired.

The Finished Look

The designers admit the project takes some doing, &#8
Above: The designers admit the project takes some doing, “but to have a homemade terrazzo effect, it’s worth it, no?”

Explore our DIY archive for more ideas, including:



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a vacation rental in Queensland, Australia


The term “loving hands at home” is typically applied derisively to crafts projects, but it feels perfect—in nothing but a positive way—for this high-style, DIY cabin remodel. That’s especially true when you know the backstory: emerging Melbourne interior designer Andrea Moore of Studio Moore teamed up with her father, Lindsay Moore, a semi-retired veterinarian with #skillz, to transform the family’s dilapidated farm property into a trio of vacation houses. Andrea’s mother passed away just as the Ross Farm project was getting started: “it has been a driving force to create something that she would be really proud of,” Andrea told The Design Files.

Today, we’re spotlighting the first, and most modest, dwelling the two tackled, a one-bedroom cabin built in the 1960s. It now comes with a Japanese bath and one of the most memorable Ikea kitchen hacks we’ve ever seen.

Photography by Lachlan Moore, courtesy of Studio Moore and Ross Farm.

Set on what was once was a small dairy farm, the cabin is a kilometer outside the township of Meeniyan, in Victoria&#8
Above: Set on what was once was a small dairy farm, the cabin is a kilometer outside the township of Meeniyan, in Victoria’s South Gippsland, about a two-hour drive southeast of Melbourne. Ross Farm’s two other rentals are part of the property, each with its own vistas, and are rented out individually or as a group.
Plywood meets sage and worn leather in the living room. The cedar-framed French doors were introduced to make the most of the views. (&#8
Above: Plywood meets sage and worn leather in the living room. The cedar-framed French doors were introduced to make the most of the views. (“We had acquired these a few years earlier and stored them for a rainy day.”)

“It was Dad’s big idea to turn these old buildings into interesting accommodations,” says Andrea. “Our intention was to experiment and make what we could. I designed most of the furniture, lights, and door hardware, and they were made by Dad down in his shed. Since it’s a vacation house, we could push our ideas a bit and try things you might not do in your own home.”

The photograph over the sofa is of Wilsons Prom, the national park down the road—it (and all of the cabin photos) were taken by Andrea&#8
Above: The photograph over the sofa is of Wilsons Prom, the national park down the road—it (and all of the cabin photos) were taken by Andrea’s brother, Lachlan Moore.
The combination of soft green and pale wood continues in the dining area. &#8
Above: The combination of soft green and pale wood continues in the dining area. “The cabin aesthetic is both raw and refined, drawing inspiration from the local landscape with a nod to Danish and Japanese sensibilities,” says Andrea. Here and there, Andrea and Lindsay incorporated designs by favorite small workshops: the hanging light is the Loop Pendant by Melbourne leather studio IEFrancis.
Father and daughter gave the cabin&#8
Above: Father and daughter gave the cabin’s Ikea kitchen an entirely new look with a concrete sink, hefty wood  chopping block, and shiny brass counter and backsplash. They upgraded the existing cabinets with blackened steel fronts and folded steel handles that they had a metalworker fabricate.
There&#8
Above: There’s a vegetable garden right off the kitchen and guests are welcome to help themselves. There are also fresh eggs from the Ross Farm chickens.
The Japanese bath occupies what had been a dilapidated shed attached to the cabin. &#8
Above: The Japanese bath occupies what had been a dilapidated shed attached to the cabin. “The whole room is lined with cypress sourced from the surrounding hills,” says Andrea. “It’s highly aromatic and the way the timber insulates the water makes for a memorable bathing experience.”
Pieces, such as the cypress stool, are prototypes designed by Andrea and made by Lindsay.
Above: Pieces, such as the cypress stool, are prototypes designed by Andrea and made by Lindsay.
The bathroom has a homemade cypress sink and one of the cypress-framed windows that replaced the existing aluminum ones. The mirror is cleverly positioned on a standing brass valet that also incorporates a small table and towel hook. &#8
Above: The bathroom has a homemade cypress sink and one of the cypress-framed windows that replaced the existing aluminum ones. The mirror is cleverly positioned on a standing brass valet that also incorporates a small table and towel hook. “Being our own project allowed for an organic approach,” says Andrea. “Most of the ideas were floating around in my head or nutted out on the back of napkins.”
Another new window brings greenery into the bedroom. The window bench serves as a table and a seat.
Above: Another new window brings greenery into the bedroom. The window bench serves as a table and a seat.
The bed is inset in a knotty plywood niche with an integrated closet on one side.
Above: The bed is inset in a knotty plywood niche with an integrated closet on one side.
There&#8
Above: There’s also a secluded outdoor shower and wash area tucked between the cabin and its garage. Go to Ross Farm to see more and book a reservation.

Here are three more of our favorite cabins:



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Ask og Eng’s Sustainable Kitchen Design


When you design and produce kitchens for a living, you get to use your own quarters as a testing ground. Kine Ask Stenersen and Kristoffer Eng are the couple behind Ask og Eng, the Oslo, Norway-based workshop known for its artful Ikea hacks: they specialize in making bamboo fronts for Ikea kitchen cabinets.

The duo have also begun to create their own fully custom kitchens. After living with one of their very first Ikea upgrades, they recently decided to replace it with a bespoke design that showcases their newest bamboo finish. See Ikea Elevated for a look at their initial line, and join us for a tour of their kitchen.

Photography by Kine Ask Stenersen, courtesy of Ask og Eng.

The couple and their two young sons live in Drammen, Norway, in a 30&#8
Above: The couple and their two young sons live in Drammen, Norway, in a 1930’s wooden house that they’ve made their own by taking down walls, installing French doors and windows, and exposing—and sanding and oiling—the original pine floor. The dining table is an Ask og Eng bamboo design, the A3.

Drammen is a 40-minute commute to the Ask og Eng workshop and showroom in Oslo. Kine and Kristoffer both grew up in Drammen—he’s an architect and she studied environmental geography (and brings a green mindset to their collaborations). Five years ago, they moved here from Oslo to be close to family, and say that it’s thanks to Kristoffer’s engineer fatherm and his know-how and many tools (plus relatives ready to help with childcare), that they were able to get their company off the ground.

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Above: “The kitchen is visible from the living room, so we wanted it to resemble a piece of furniture,” says Kine. The cabinets are made entirely of bamboo inside and out; they extend from wall to wall—nearly 23 feet—and are in a just-introduced, vertical-grained Ask og Eng finish called Rye.

Their former kitchen, which they had “sawn, sanded, and oiled” in their garage, got disassembled and most of the parts have found new homes in other projects; many of the furnishings and appliances stayed put.

Step stools enable Vilmer, 5, and Artur, data-src=
Above: Step stools enable Vilmer, 5, and Artur, 1, to reach the counter of jura gray, a durable limestone patterned with fossils and shells. The induction cooktop is by Bora of Germany. The light at the end of the counter is the Accent Swing Wall Lamp by Remodelista favorite Wo & We of Lyon, France.
Kristoffer assists in waffle batter production.
Above: Kristoffer assists in waffle batter production.
Ask og Eng custom bamboo kitchen, Oslo, Norway. Above: Like all Ask og Eng kitchen designs, the drawers have cutout pulls and are fitted inside according to use. 

Some of the advantages of working in bamboo, the couple say, are that it’s a fast-growing grass that’s lightweight and strong. They get their raw material from certified plantations “to be sure it’s not only sustainable but produced responsibly.”

A Birch Hook Rack keeps crucial kitchen tools off the counter. Discover more of the many uses for peg rails in our book Remodelista: The Organized Home, and for sources see Object Lessons: The Shaker Peg Rail.
Above: A Birch Hook Rack keeps crucial kitchen tools off the counter. Discover more of the many uses for peg rails in our book Remodelista: The Organized Home, and for sources see Object Lessons: The Shaker Peg Rail.
All of Ask og Eng&#8
Above: All of Ask og Eng’s drawer and cabinet fronts are made of bamboo that’s been sanded, treated with pigmented oil, and sealed with a hard wax oil from Osmo to make them water- and spill-resistant. The sink has a Quooker faucet in patinated brass.

Of the overhead storage, Kine says, “The room is very sunny but we have a lot of dark periods here. To keep the space feeling open and bright, we decided against wall-hung cabinets and instead used our A7 Cross Shelf.”

To protect the limestone, there&#8
Above: To protect the limestone, there’s a collection of cutting boards on hand.
Kine and Artur. The couple were able to reuse appliances such as the dishwasher, concealed here behind a bamboo front.
Above: Kine and Artur. The couple were able to reuse appliances such as the dishwasher, concealed here behind a bamboo front.
Neff wall ovens are incorporated into a pantry wall. The Ask og Eng A-7 Cross Shelf comes in large (shown here) and small (shown over the counter).
Above: Neff wall ovens are incorporated into a pantry wall. The Ask og Eng A-7 Cross Shelf comes in large (shown here) and small (shown over the counter).
There&#8
Above: There’s a breakfast table and &Tradition’s rice paper Formakami Pendant tucked into a corner next to the fridge.
Gubi&#8
Above: Gubi’s now-classic Semi Pendant from 1968 hovers above the dining table. (See the light in brass in A ‘Dreamiest Dream Kitchen’ in Yorkshire, England.)
The kitchen viewed from the living room. Explore the rest of the house on the Ask og Eng Journal.
Above: The kitchen viewed from the living room. Explore the rest of the house on the Ask og Eng Journal.

Here are some other standout kitchens that designers created for themselves:



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A Passive House Design in the Catskills by IdS/R Architecture


Maria Ibañez de Sendadiano and Todd Rouh met at work back when they were both young architects at Smith-Miller + Hawkinson. That was a while ago: the couple have been running their own NYC firm, IdS/R Architecture, since 2000, have two daughters who are now teenagers, and recently found themselves in the happy position of being able to build their own country retreat in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

After years of hiking and camping in the area as a family, they bought a choice piece of land in the township of Mount Tremper surrounded by DEP-owned protected property (it’s on the watershed that supplies NYC’s tap water). This was their first designed-from-the-ground-up house and gave them the opportunity to test ideas—and to get their own hands extremely dirty.

They wanted foremost to build a structure with as little impact as possible, and towards that end decided to follow Passive House standards, a set of stringent rules for creating an ultra-efficient, air-tight dwelling that supplies most of its own energy via solar panels. To save on costs and stay on top of an ambitious construction schedule, the couple also decided to act in tandem as their own general contractor. It took them six months to build the house and another six months to finish the interior. Join us for a visit into the woods.

Photography by Eric Petschek, courtesy of IdS/R Architecture and Vipp.

Modeled after a traditional longhouse layout, the structure has a central living space with bedrooms at either end and multi-purpose loft spaces stacked over them.
Above: Modeled after a traditional longhouse layout, the structure has a central living space with bedrooms at either end and multi-purpose loft spaces stacked over them.

The building is composed of SIPs (prefabricated structural insulated panels), the Passive House building blocks, which Todd notes helped determine the look: “If you using SIPs, then you’re not making a glass house.” The building rests on a steel frame platform raised on piers that, Maria explains, “limited the disruption to the existing site drainage.” Terraced steps lead to the front deck and four sliding glass doors (there are also four doors off the back). The mechanical room is in a concrete cellar and contains, among other things, the ERV system (energy recovery ventilation) crucial to Passive House design. The only trees that had to be taken down made way for the driveway.

The exterior is clad in larch, which was also applied throughout the interior. It has a standing seam metal roof, a favorite of architects (see Hardscaping data-src=
Above: The exterior is clad in larch, which was also applied throughout the interior. It has a standing seam metal roof, a favorite of architects (see Hardscaping 101), and on the nearby septic field there are 24 solar panels that between May and November generate enough power to run everything in the house (“we actually sell power back to the grid,” says Todd).

The aluminum-framed, thermally insulated glass doors are 8 by 8 feet—”the maximum size for a lift and slide door,” says Maria—and, like the triple-glazed windows, were supplied by Schüco. This one, on the north end of the house, opens to the kitchen, outfitted with a freestanding island made by Vipp of Denmark. That’s also the iconic Vipp Pedal Bin in the foreground (we singled it out in Remodelista, A Manual for the Considered Home in our roundup of 100 favorite everyday objects).

Maria and Todd installed all of the interior walls themselves. Their choice of the powder-coated steel island was both aesthetic and practical: &#8
Above: Maria and Todd installed all of the interior walls themselves. Their choice of the powder-coated steel island was both aesthetic and practical: “we love that Vipp’s kitchen designs are modular; this came as a prefabricated unit,” says Todd. (Vipp is a hands-on, family-run company: Sofie Egelund, granddaughter of the inventor of the Vipp bin, runs US operations with her husband,  and came to the site to oversee installation.)
The island is fitted with a sink, dishwasher, and induction cooktop. Additional storage is supplied by a cabinet wall pre-fabricated by Colorado-based CabParts that Marie and Todd painted (Farrow & Ball&#8
Above: The island is fitted with a sink, dishwasher, and induction cooktop. Additional storage is supplied by a cabinet wall pre-fabricated by Colorado-based CabParts that Marie and Todd painted (Farrow & Ball’s Strong White) and installed. In lieu of a range, they opted for a wall oven. The ladder on the wall leads to one of the two lofts at either end of the house.
Todd and Maria designed and built their kitchen table: it&#8
Above: Todd and Maria designed and built their kitchen table: it’s composed of furniture-grade birch plywood bolted to an anodized aluminum base assembled from parts they had in their office. In addition to using their own designs and Vipp’s expanding line (including this gray Wool Rug), the couple gravitated to furniture by Hay: the Danish studio’s Result Chairs are shown here in oak.
The table stands next to a built-in pantry with drawers of unfinished birch ply and white doors. It, too, came from CabParts, &#8
Above: The table stands next to a built-in pantry with drawers of unfinished birch ply and white doors. It, too, came from CabParts, “a good resource for DIYers,” says Todd. “Their cabinets are a bit better quality than Ikea’s, and they offer more custom specifications on sizes—but you need to fill out a very tedious form.”

“The pantry is really the key to our kitchen’s operations,” adds Todd. “It’s the place where all the small appliances and mugs, and things like water bottles go. When the doors are closed, you don’t know it’s there.”

The kitchen is open to the expansive central living room furnished with an L-shaped sectional Mags sofa by Hay and Wool Pillows by Vipp.
Above: The kitchen is open to the expansive central living room furnished with an L-shaped sectional Mags sofa by Hay and Wool Pillows by Vipp.

The passageways lead to a mudroom and small bath on one side and a bedroom on the other, all paneled in larch.

A Rondo stove by Rais supplements sub-floor radiant heating. (The niche is filled with logs from the cleared trees on the property.) &#8
Above: A Rondo stove by Rais supplements sub-floor radiant heating. (The niche is filled with logs from the cleared trees on the property.) “Our goal is to be as close to net zero as possible,” says Todd. “Right now, only our boiler draws power from the electrical grid, and that’s between November and April.”
The house overlooks woodland— the interior and exterior colors were selected to blend with the outdoors. Towards that end, the entire main floor is lined with Summitville quarry tile in rock-like Elephant Gray. &#8
Above: The house overlooks woodland— the interior and exterior colors were selected to blend with the outdoors. Towards that end, the entire main floor is lined with Summitville quarry tile in rock-like Elephant Gray. “Quarry tile is an interior-exterior tile traditionally used in bakeries and commercial spaces; it’s stronger than ceramic and is relatively inexpensive,” says Todd.
Paneled in larch, the bedrooms have a modernist cabin feel. The desk is the Copenhague 90 by Hay and the bedside sconces are Wall Spots by Vipp.
Above: Paneled in larch, the bedrooms have a modernist cabin feel. The desk is the Copenhague 90 by Hay and the bedside sconces are Wall Spots by Vipp.
Accessed by a stair, the loft on the southern end of the house is furnished with daybeds of cabinet-grade birch ply that Maria and Todd designed for the space. They can be moved together to form a larger bed.
Above: Accessed by a stair, the loft on the southern end of the house is furnished with daybeds of cabinet-grade birch ply that Maria and Todd designed for the space. They can be moved together to form a larger bed.
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Above: “Our place was a bit of a research project for us,” says Maria. The couple are currently at work for clients on another energy-efficient house in the area.
The floor plans detail the basement mechanical room, the longhouse layout of the main floor, and the two lofts (the one on the north end has an en suite bath).
Above: The floor plans detail the basement mechanical room, the longhouse layout of the main floor, and the two lofts (the one on the north end has an en suite bath).

Here are three more energy-efficient rural dwellings:



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A Shingled House with Style


On a trip to Paris’s Maison et Objet, our co-founders Julie and Francesca crossed paths with Mona Nerenberg, owner of Bloom in Sag Harbor, NY, a cult-favorite shop filled with Swedish antiques and white ceramics (now in its 18th year). Noting that the Gardenista team had been to her Hamptons home to admire the deer fencing—Mona is married to landscape designer Lisa Bynon—she invited us back to take a proper look inside.

Mona and Lisa live in a 19th-century shingled house that came untouched—and with a falling-down fish market attached to the kitchen. The two met as students at the Parson’s School of Design and have a shared aesthetic that’s all about poetic objects, a black-and-white palette, and not a lot of stuff. Others may have been deterred by the the jungle of vines and colony of bats that had overtaken the residence, but they vowed to keep the gracious center-hall layout as is and approached the remodel as an unveiling .

Their friend interior designer Mark Cunningham, a former VP of creative services at Ralph Lauren, who had joined Mona on early buying trips for Bloom (and with Sam Hamilton co-founded the great SF design emporium March), stepped in to orchestrate. Working in close collaboration, each contributed key elements: Lisa and her crew extended the house’s beadboard paneling in strategic spots, Mona supplied Pierre Jeanneret chairs and apple matting from Bloom, and Mark pulled it all together, new two-story kitchen included. Join us for a tour of a standout Hamptons classic.

Photography by Björn Wallander, courtesy of Mark Cunningham (@marked_ny).

Thanks to a great deal of clearing and planting, the couple and their chickens now live surrounded by three acres of lawn, hedge, and gardens. The shingles and windows are original.
Above: Thanks to a great deal of clearing and planting, the couple and their chickens now live surrounded by three acres of lawn, hedge, and gardens. The shingles and windows are original.

The house is in the hamlet of North Sea—the nearest beach is a quick bike ride away—and was built by a family in the Blue Book of the Hamptons. Mona and Lisa are only the third owners.

Double front doors open to a hall with a new pine floor and a grand stair cloaked in white: the couple used Benjamin Moore&#8
Above: Double front doors open to a hall with a new pine floor and a grand stair cloaked in white: the couple used Benjamin Moore’s Super White throughout (one of our Architects’ Favorite White Paint Picks). Mona and Lisa sold their previous house fully furnished—”we walked out with our cats and our clothes”—so they started from scratch here, and Mark played a big role in the the hunting and gathering.

A Donald Sultan lemon drawing hangs on the wall here over a French bench—ticking stripes are just about the only pattern welcomed in.

The living room is furnished with a trio of upholstered pieces from Ralph Lauren Home that are typically occupied by Charlie and Sam, the cats, and Ruby, the dog. Mark says the stone coffee table from Démiurge is what made the room feel finished.
Above: The living room is furnished with a trio of upholstered pieces from Ralph Lauren Home that are typically occupied by Charlie and Sam, the cats, and Ruby, the dog. Mark says the stone coffee table from Démiurge is what made the room feel finished.

On the walls throughout, Mona and Lisa used Benjamin Moore’s Super White, one of our Architects’ Favorite White Paint Picks.

A bay window overlooks the garden. The Jeanneret teak Chandigarh chair is one of two from Bloom. The rug is Bloom&#8
Above: A bay window overlooks the garden. The Jeanneret teak Chandigarh chair is one of two from Bloom. The rug is Bloom’s signature apple matting, a woven rush so-named, Mona explains, because it was traditionally made in England by apple pickers during the off-season.
The neediest part of the house was the kitchen, part of which had to be ripped off when the crumbling fish market was taken down. Mark came up with the inspired idea of removing the kitchen attic and creating a two-story space. The paint-splattered floor boards were salvaged from the attic, which, for a time, had served as an art studio.
Above: The neediest part of the house was the kitchen, part of which had to be ripped off when the crumbling fish market was taken down. Mark came up with the inspired idea of removing the kitchen attic and creating a two-story space. The paint-splattered floor boards were salvaged from the attic, which, for a time, had served as an art studio.

During the garden off-season, Lisa and her landscape team matched the existing beadboard paneling on the upper walls and ceiling. The room’s centerpiece is an old marble-topped ceramic artist’s table still chalky with clay. Mona tells us “I really don’t like much, in fact I hate just about everything,” but adds she’s ever on the lookout for pieces like the table.

A narrow pantry divides the kitchen from the dining room. A row of butcher&#8
Above: A narrow pantry divides the kitchen from the dining room. A row of butcher’s hooks hang over a watercolor of a rock by Mats Gustafson. The butcher block table is French.
One of the things that Mona least likes is lighting—she says she prefers natural light and notes that she doesn&#8
Above: One of the things that Mona least likes is lighting—she says she prefers natural light and notes that she doesn’t sell any lights at Bloom. In the dining room Mark stepped up to this challenge with a pair of plaster chandeliers by Stephen Antonson—see The Master of Plaster. The antique English cabinet was made for a veterinarian—Mona bought it for her shop but didn’t have room for it. The Swedish stick-back chairs with original paint are also from Bloom.
On a buying trip to the South of France, Mark made the first purchase for the house: this -foot-long dining table. He came up with the inspired idea of hanging Mona and Lisa&#8
Above: On a buying trip to the South of France, Mark made the first purchase for the house: this 14-foot-long dining table. He came up with the inspired idea of hanging Mona and Lisa’s Astier de Villatte plates en masse: a traditional approach “given a fresh face,” he says, “and a great way to bring in another texture and a graphic quality  in lieu of art.” (Lisa did the hanging: “it looks really simple but it wasn’t because each plate is irregularly shaped,” says Mona.)

More Astier de Villatte fills the cabinet: a romantic vine-covered shed in the back of Bloom is devoted solely to the French ceramics.

The library shelves are stacked with Mona&#8
Above: The library shelves are stacked with Mona’s World of Interiors collection dating back to the magazine’s early years in the 1980s. A collapsible wallpaper tables stands by the front windows with a restored and bleached Jeanneret chair in front of it
Ray, from Michael Dweck&#8
Above: Ray, from Michael Dweck‘s Montauk series, hangs in the library. (Dweck is one of a few who Mona represents locally.)
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Above: “I like to be surrounded by space and light,” says Mona of the all-white master bedroom. The cast-iron bed came from a local favorite antiques shop that’s no longer in business. (The vellum box under it holds an extra blanket.) 
An antique chest from Bloom and an armchair from Ralph Lauren Home. The floor is painted in a high-gloss white enamel from Benjamin Moore.
Above: An antique chest from Bloom and an armchair from Ralph Lauren Home. The floor is painted in a high-gloss white enamel from Benjamin Moore.
The bathrooms required redoing, but this one has it original claw-foot tub, which Lisa restored with several coats of black paint. The fixture is from Waterworks. That&#8
Above: The bathrooms required redoing, but this one has it original claw-foot tub, which Lisa restored with several coats of black paint. The fixture is from Waterworks. That’s another Michael Dweck photo hanging on the original paneling.
A guest room, also known as Mark&#8
Above: A guest room, also known as Mark’s room, carries on the black-and-white look to great effect with a boxspring in a ticking from Rogers & Goffigon.

In the years since the house was complete, Mark has opened his own NYC showroom, Marked, and been named to world’s best designer lists: “We were so lucky to have him,” says Mona, “Mark is in another league now.”

A glimpse of the elegant—and deer-proof—fencing that Lisa designed for the vegetable garden. Note the privet, trimmed to the exact middle of the diamond fencing.
Above: A glimpse of the elegant—and deer-proof—fencing that Lisa designed for the vegetable garden. Note the privet, trimmed to the exact middle of the diamond fencing.
See more at The Landscape Designer Is In.
Above: See more at The Landscape Designer Is In.

When we come across a design store we admire, we often ask if we can follow the owner home. Here are three more shopkeepers with inspired homes:



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How to Buy Household Goods on Craigslist: 10 Tips and Tactics


Whatever you’re currently looking for—a bureau, an extra place setting of your grandmother’s china, the elusive perfect coffee table—changes are good you can find it on Craigslist. It may not be exactly what you envisioned, but you’ll pay far less than retail. You may only have to travel around the block to retrieve it. And you’ll keep a perfectly good something in use rather than headed to landfill.

Like all treasure hunts, Craigslist shopping comes with challenges: you have to be willing to search and schlep, and to meet up with a stranger. Caveat emptor, yes, but for many, it’s the answer: take a look at The House That Craigslist Built, Philadelphia Story, and Buzzfeed Founder Peggy Wang’s Renovated Rowhouse.

JP Frenza and his wife, Kristen Kiger, became CL devotees when they decided to save the 1939 Red Rose, a shuttered motel and tavern down the road from their weekend place in the Catskills town of Roscoe, NY, on the Beaverkill River. While keeping their day jobs—JP works in tech, Kristen is a graphic designer—they bought the local gathering spot as a passion project, and partnered with Melissa Garrison Kawecki, who manages daily operations and serves as in-house stylist.

To get the place back up and running, they needed club chairs, butter knives, and bathroom sinks, among many other things—just about all of which they found at bargain prices Craigslist. Three years of tactical buying later, JP offered to share what they’ve learned along the way.

Photography courtesy of the Red Rose Motel.

The Red Rose living room is furnished with one of several Chesterfield sofas, club chairs, and old trunks acquired on Craigslist.  N.B.: Though JP&#8
Above: The Red Rose living room is furnished with one of several Chesterfield sofas, club chairs, and old trunks acquired on Craigslist.  N.B.: Though JP’s search skewed vintage, Craigslist has everything and the same tips apply—so minimalists and modernists should read on.

1. Crack the search term code.

Once you know what you’re after, it’s crucial to figure out what to call it—and how others might label it. We discovered this when our initial search for a Chesterfield sofa turned up cigarette tins and overcoats. On Craigslist, you often get radically different results based on the words you use. By typing “leather couch,” “leather sofa,” brand names like “George Smith,” and the popular “sofa with nail heads” we found what we were looking for.

A painted table for two at the Red Rose tavern. The collection of mounted antlers were gathered over time on Craigslist.
Above: A painted table for two at the Red Rose tavern. The collection of mounted antlers were gathered over time on Craigslist.

2. Set your radius.

You can find most household basics for sale on Craigslist close to home. But for more unusual or important pieces, we learned to broaden our reach. We also discovered that the more well-off the community, the better the stuff—and the prices, because these sellers tend to just be looking to unload. So in addition to searching in the Catskills and Upstate New York, we looked in parts of New Jersey and Connecticut—Darien, for instance, was worth a few hour’s drive (broken up by a good lunch and often a hike on the way home). And for farmhouse antiques, we went on Craigslist in Rochester, NY, and then road tripped.

The motel&#8
Above: The motel’s Art Deco fridge, 1960s stove, and new kitchen cabinets were all Craigslist purchases.

3. Create a search schedule.

If you only go on Craigslist from time to time, you miss things. We’ve found it’s more efficient to check systematically: we do our searches on Monday mornings, Tuesday nights, Wednesday mornings, and so on. We haven’t discerned a key time of day to check, but have noticed that Thursdays tend to get the most new listings, especially from people hoping to get rid of things by Sunday. So be prepared to pounce. And if you urgently need something, check on Thursdays at the beginning and end of the day.

JP&#8
Above: JP’s vintage trunk haul: they came out of a woman’s attic in Yonkers, NY, and were being sold for $20 each. The wrinkle: “it was one of the hottest days of the summer and we had to carry them out ourselves.” Like many of his buys, these also required considerable cleanup.

4. Check out moving sales.

Craigslist is a great source for estate and moving sale listings and you can target them by town. Under Garage Sale, sellers also list apartment and house clear-outs with photos of the items that have to go. A guy who was leaving the country gave us a roll of kilims for free because he didn’t want his landlord to have them.

5. Stay selective.

We keep a running list of things we need, and at times, in our eagerness to cross off items, we’ve ended up paying more than we should have—only to later find an even better version of the same thing for less. If you can, it pays to be patient.

The trunks serve as bedside tables (and extra bedding storage) at the Red Rose.
Above: The trunks serve as bedside tables (and extra bedding storage) at the Red Rose.

6. Be polite and present a plan.

I can’t tell you the number of times the seller told us we were the only ones who made the transaction easy. We begin by writing a note: “Is the item still available? If so, we’re interested and could come pick it up at your convenience.” People on Craigslist are typically getting rid of things on a deadline, so we always mention we have a truck and can pay in cash. We bought a 12-foot antique pine table for $200 this way.

Old wooden folding chairs and paint-by-number paintings are Craigslist staples.
Above: Old wooden folding chairs and paint-by-number paintings are Craigslist staples.

7. Haggle.

Craigslist sellers often have to deal with no-show buyers. After assuring that you mean business and will pay in cash, you can do some bargaining: “I can come whenever is good for you; will you take $200 for the chairs listed at $250?” Sellers typically counter with $225. Don’t insult: some people know what they have and what it’s worth, others don’t know but are wary. So when the item in question is something I really want, I pay the listed price—in general that’s considerably less than the prices at popular flea markets like Brimfield.

8. Play it safe.

It’s scary dealing with strangers, especially when it comes to going into apartments and houses. Let sellers know they’re dealing with a human being: I always mention that my wife and I can pick up—that puts people at ease, and when a family shows up, so much the better. I give sellers my phone number and an hour before I’m picking up, I have them text me the address. And when possible, we suggest a neutral location to meet: we’ve done many transactions in grocery store parking lots.

The motel&#8
Above: The motel’s six enameled cast-iron guest room sinks came out of a New Jersey kids’ camp that was being torn down. They were $20 each on Craigslist and in surprisingly good shape, though the bases required scrubbing and painting.

9. Don’t forget to mine “free.”

At the top of the Craigslist page, click the For Sale drop-down and scroll past “Antiques” and “Electronics” to “Free Stuff.” Here, you’ll find everything from surplus building materials to baby clothes. We’ve found some really good stuff for the taking: a woman across the river from us was renovating and told us we could have her Pottery Barn leather sofa “if you can get it out of here by tomorrow morning.” It was perfect for one of our rooms.

A Craigslist drop-leaf trolley with a fresh look thanks to a few coats of white paint. Like the look of the Red Rose? It has seven guest rooms that rent for $0 a night on Airbnb, plus a restaurant and bar, and is approximately two hours by car from NYC.
Above: A Craigslist drop-leaf trolley with a fresh look thanks to a few coats of white paint. Like the look of the Red Rose? It has seven guest rooms that rent for $150 a night on Airbnb, plus a restaurant and bar, and is approximately two hours by car from NYC.

10. Keep searching.

Yes, our project is complete, but like so many who get hooked on Craigslist, our hunt continues. Members of this club seem to always have a holy grail that keeps us going. Ours is a classic Swedish-style sauna—one we can take apart, move, and set up at the motel. Potential sellers note: we do our own hauling and are willing to travel.

Reuse is better for the planet than buying new. Here are four more buying guides:



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A Former Religious Retreat Remodeled As A Chic Family Home


Discovered on The Modern House: St. Francis House, a monastic retreat transformed into “an exceptionally chic modern home.” Located in Cambridgeshire, a 45-minute train journey from London, the late-Georgian structure was built as a country estate. It was in the 1950s that a religious order moved in and purpose-rebuilt the place as a silent retreat, stripping out just about all of  the original detailing and introducing, among other things, 22 spartan bedrooms on the second floor.

Ten years ago, when Anna Unwin and Willie McDougall spotted the property in a real estate listing, they were looking to relocate from London with their three daughters. Anna, who runs AU Bespoke, is an interiors stylist and sourcing specialist, and Willie is a developer—talents that enabled them to envision a new life for all 8,500-square feet.

They opened up the downstairs as a series of invitingly tranquil living spaces, and added one of the chicest pale pink kitchens we’ve come across. As for the upstairs monk’s cells, they converted those into five bedroom suites, glam bathrooms included. Their kids are now grown and the couple say they feel ready to roam—they both have business in Ibiza and plan to spend half time there—so their giant remodel is back on the market. Join us for a tour—and go to The Modern House if you’re tempted to move in.

Photography courtesy of The Modern House.

The brick house is set on one-and-a-half acres in the heart of the historic village of Hemingford Grey,  miles northwest of Cambridge. The front garden is shown here, as is a glimpse of the now fully glazed back of the house (the garden room at the far end is the AU Bespoke showroom, open by appointment—Anna formerly had a shop in London&#8
Above: The brick house is set on one-and-a-half acres in the heart of the historic village of Hemingford Grey, 15 miles northwest of Cambridge. The front garden is shown here, as is a glimpse of the now fully glazed back of the house (the garden room at the far end is the AU Bespoke showroom, open by appointment—Anna formerly had a shop in London’s Primrose Hill and now sells haute-vintage design.)
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Above: “It was pretty much a hostel when we got it, so there was a fair amount of structural work to do,” Willie told The Modern House. “We knocked down walls, changed all the windows, and just made it more domestic.” The couple are shown here on the veranda off the main sitting room.

The roof tiles are Welsh slate, one of many details that look as if they’ve always been here but were in fact brought in by Anna and Willie.

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Above: “The remodel took two years–we lived in one side of the house while the other was being finished and vice-versa,” Anna tells us. Among the things that got added: French doors, bespoke interior doors paneled with antiqued mirrors (from Rough Old Glass), and a vast herringbone floor (from reclaimed parquet specialists Eco Flooring UK) salvaged from the M15’s old London headquarters in Thames House on the Strand.
The low-slung sofas are from Caravane.
Above: The low-slung sofas are from Caravane.
The couple imported two th-century stone mantels from France. &#8
Above: The couple imported two 18th-century stone mantels from France. “Seeing trends come and go has made me want to stick with really good-quality materials and timeless forms that hold up over the years,” says Anna.
Anna slipcovered the furniture in vintage Hungarian linen &#8
Above: Anna slipcovered the furniture in vintage Hungarian linen “so everything is washable—important in a busy house with children and dogs.” The hanging lights are Tom Dixon’s Mirror Balls.
The herringbone floor extends into the dining room and adjacent kitchen. Sliding doors provide the glass-topped table with an expansive garden view. The black and white prints were made for Anna by her friend Louisa Grey of House of Grey. (Go to Kitchen of the Week to see Grey&#8
Above: The herringbone floor extends into the dining room and adjacent kitchen. Sliding doors provide the glass-topped table with an expansive garden view. The black and white prints were made for Anna by her friend Louisa Grey of House of Grey. (Go to Kitchen of the Week to see Grey’s kitchen.)
The new kitchen, installed in place of the religious order&#8
Above: The new kitchen, installed in place of the religious order’s canteen, has custom cabinets painted Farrow & Ball Setting Plaster. The brass lights are a vintage Italian design.
The Corian counters have undermount hammered copper sinks from The French House. The range is tucked into a hearth; the backsplash is made of the same Rough Old Glass mirror used on the doors. &#8
Above: The Corian counters have undermount hammered copper sinks from The French House. The range is tucked into a hearth; the backsplash is made of the same Rough Old Glass mirror used on the doors. “It’s easy to clean,” says Anna.

The World War I brass bullet cases on the mantel are from Anna’s AU Bespoke collection.

Opposite a classic china cupboard, the breakfast area veers modern with a Saarinen Table and Panton Chairs. The kitchen walls are painted Farrow & Ball Strong White.
Above: Opposite a classic china cupboard, the breakfast area veers modern with a Saarinen Table and Panton Chairs. The kitchen walls are painted Farrow & Ball Strong White.
The stair with under cupboard is one of the few original details in the house. The couple stripped the rail to reveal the natural wood.
Above: The stair with under cupboard is one of the few original details in the house. The couple stripped the rail to reveal the natural wood.
A linen-upholstered bed and sofa—both from Caravane—in a guest room.
Above: A linen-upholstered bed and sofa—both from Caravane—in a guest room.
Accessories hang from vintage ceramic butcher&#8
Above: Accessories hang from vintage ceramic butcher’s hooks in the guest bath. All of the baths have custom three-part mirrored cabinets.
The master bath is tiled in gray-veined marble that rises to enclose the tub. The trough sink and towel rail are from C.P. Hart.
Above: The master bath is tiled in gray-veined marble that rises to enclose the tub. The trough sink and towel rail are from C.P. Hart.
The estate&#8
Above: The estate’s original chapel remains—the wood floor is original; Anna and Willie had the walls plastered. Willie currently uses the space as a gym, but, says Anna, “we’ve left it as a blank slate for the next owners. A cinema room, a yoga room, a library—it could be so many things.”

Go to The Modern House to see more.

Here are some three more standout house transformations in England:



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