Photo Gallery: Michael Penney’s New House
Learn his budget decorating tricks.
Michael wanted to add curb appeal with more flowers and greenery. He also envisioned the window trim a tad darker, with shutters to add a country feel to the house.
Michael transformed his façade with affordable plants and flowers, new shutters, and a freshly painted door and garage. He transplanted the iris from a seller on Craigslist and picked up peachy poppies from Walmart: smart ways to spend less when you
They lucked out with a wide front hall, but it was hard to see past the red carpet and orangey wood trim.
To lighten up the entryway, Michael and Sara spent a labour-intensive 18 hours painting the staircase white. They ripped up the old red carpet on the stairs to reveal the original oak treads, and left the handrail au naturel as well. For pops of colour, they added a bright turquoise console, art, greenery, umbrella stand and a striped runner, all in tones of green and blue for consistency. Read more about decorating his main floor.
Michael loved the natural light, wood-burning fireplace, and built-in bookshelves in his new living room, but knew a darker surround and painted trim would make the fireplace pop.
Michael decided to paint the original wood mantel white and the brick surround a warm grey to update the look of the living room. The two bergere chairs from his old apartment were recovered in a striped Sunbrella fabric for durability and style, and they add to the nautical look of the room.
Michael placed a pair of occasional chairs by the window for even more seating, in addition to two bergere chairs to the left and the sofa to the right. He also layered the coffee table with books and collectibles for added interest in the centre of the room. Behind the sofa, a vintage piano is topped with another thrift-store lamp, framed bird art, fan coral and more books for a casual and eclectic look.
Michael tossed around the idea of leaving the dining room trim and wainscotting untouched — to the shock of many fellow H&H editors. He found the original dining room french doors in the basement, cleaned them up, and hung them back up between the dining room and living room.
After much deliberation, Michael left the wainscotting and trim alone, balancing the original woodwork’s orangey tones with white-painted furniture, slipcovers and light drapes. He also kept the original chandelier and updated it with new shades on the cheap.
After deciding to keep the wainscotting and trim as is, Michael realized that his dining set was going to be too matchy-matchy all in the same room. To balance out the orangey wood tones, he decided to paint the sideboard black and the chairs and hutch white.
The entire set of hutch, sideboard, table (with leaf) and six chairs from Craigslist only cost $750, so Michael and Sara saved a ton of money. They recovered the chairs in a colourful chintz fabric — a splurge from Lee Jofa — which influenced many of the colour choices throughout the home. Read more about the hutch transformation.
Michael saw potential in the tiny kitchen of his new house. The tiles and floor were dated, but there were ceiling-high cupboards that allowed for plenty of storage, and decent counter space for the size of the space.
Michael and Sara decided to embrace the kitschy features that made the old kitchen charming. They wanted a bistro/farmhouse feel, so they painted out the cabinetry in a soft blue with a touch of grey, and splurged on new stainless-steel appliances, an American Standard farmhouse faucet, and Carrara marble counters.
Michael and Sara tackled the tiles after a family barbecue one day, and scraped them off one-by-one. This wall is where they planned to put the refrigerator, but needed new white tiles as a backdrop.
Michael and Sara chose glossy white subway tiles in the kitchen to keep the attention on open shelving baskets and arrangements. Woven baskets overhead and underneath conceal clutter, and a rolling table is the perfect spot to create a vignette with carafes and plants.
Michael and Sara discovered this built-in ironing board when they first walked through the house. It spoke to the age of the home, when laundering was often done in the kitchen. Charming? Yes. Practical? Not so much.
Michael and Sara loved the ironing board, but love storage even more. They drywalled over the cupboard and used the same white tiles along this wall. Michael hunted through thrift stores like Value Village for months and months, gradually adding to his Julia Child-inspired copper pot collection. Read more about their kitchen inspiration.
Michael wanted to use the bright room at the back of the house as a den/media room/reading area. The large windows didn’t leave much wall space for furniture, however, and the long layout made it difficult to arrange furniture.
Michael and Sara decided to place their TV to the right, along the longest wall, and added plenty of seating for entertaining and movie nights. They dub this the “almost free” room, because they bought the sofa from a friend for $100, used hand-me-down armchairs, and found the drapes (a steal) at Ikea. The coral sofa was the starting point for the colour scheme, and Michael picked up the blue by adding toss cushions, pottery, and a striped rug. The walls were painted in a soft, muted green.
Because this room is quite small, Michael incorporated furniture that was fairly shallow. The bookshelf at the end of the room is only about 12 inches deep, for instance. The side table (right) was a junk find that he painted out, and tucked away neatly beside the sofa. Again, he picked up the blue in the sofa pattern with affordable blue vases from Value Village and Pier 1 Imports.
The owners before Michael and Sara converted this main-floor closet into a powder room, but it needed a bit of personality and a lot of warming up.
A vintage Canadian flag, picked up for $1 at a thrift store, adds edge to the prettiness of the blue wallpaper. Michael and Sara replaced the toilet, but saved money by adding a new faucet to the existing sink. Read more about decorating their main floor.
Michael wanted a more cheerful paint for the second floor guest bedroom. And the dated drapery needed to go.
Michael chose a warm shade of yellow for the second floor guest room. He found these beds at a Toronto thrift store for a cool $125 each, then painted them black for contrast against the custard walls. The wicker trunks were only $70 each — perfect for storing extra bedding and for guests to set their luggage on. And he swapped the teal drapes for raw linen ones that wouldn’t compete with the floral shams and plaid rug. In this room, he tried to balance everything that’s cute and pretty with pieces that are more sober and humble.
The front room of the second floor was also bright and sunny, so Michael thought he could use it as his office-away-from-the-office. The old wallpaper made him cringe, but he saw potential in the soft green drapes that were left behind.
Michael decided to keep the apple green silk slub drapes left behind by the previous owners. He chose a fresh aqua wall colour that shakes up the traditional fabric of the wing chair — picked up in Maine for $95 as is. The colour palette is unexpected — the paint goes, but doesn’t quite match the chair, which is the contrast Michael was going for. His inspiration board (right), is a convenient spot to pin up magazine cutouts, fabric samples and inspiration photos. (Learn how to dress up your own bulletin board with paint and ribbon.) The dresser was another affordable find from Maine.
Michael and Sara thought they would use this upstairs room as their own bedroom, but the red drapes made the space seem dark. Michael envisioned flowy white drapes and a patterned wallpaper in a soft hue to lighten up the room.
Michael decided to wallpaper all four walls for a traditional farmhouse style, so he kept other patterns to a minimum. Instead of buying new nightstands, he painted the ones from his former apartment taupe and added classic hardware to suit the room. For art above the bed, Michael framed seaweed images found online in $3 frames from Value Village. The dressing table (left) was purchased new, but was only $300 from Ikea.
Michael was aghast when he first saw the main bathroom in his new home: orange drapes with matching shower curtain, peeling wallpaper, and linoleum flooring showed the neglect of years past. This was the first room he tackled — with a crowbar.
Michael and Sara were inspired by a hotel in Maine that used a similar pink hue in their hallways, and decided to brave the colour in this upstairs bathroom. Sara wasn’t sure right away, but Michael convinced her by emphasizing the flattering reflective light it would create. They loved the existing pedestal sink, so decided to pinch pennies by keeping it. They traded the beige linoleum for hexagonal white floor tiles with grey grout — easier to keep clean in bathrooms and kitchens. Read more about decorating his second floor.
The exterior of the 1950s addition was taking away from the yard’s prettiness, despite its ample size. Michael brainstormed ways to conceal the wall and blend the greenery with the home.
Michael transformed the lacklustre 1950s addition on his old home with affordable lattice sheets and windowboxes he made himself. He painted all the wood an outdoorsy green, added a table covered in a bistro tablecloth, comfortable wicker chairs from Ikea, and fresh flowers.