When Julie Almquist bought her SE Portland cottage in 2003, people weren't afraid to call it a dump. Five years and thousands of dollars of sweat equity later, the "comfortable retreat" inspires neighbors to stop by and say that they love what she's done.
From demolition to drywall, Almquist did much of the work herself, saving anywhere from $13,000 to $21,000 on improvements. House framer and younger brother Mike came for two visits; one to extend the bathroom and one to build the enclosed front porch, the biggest and most impressive part of the renovation.
Aside from the new entry hall, another unusual feature is Almquist's bedroom trompe l'oeil, that looks like a wall upholstered in velvet. According to the article, following a diamond template, she painted a light color on top and a deeper color at the bottom of the diamonds, blending with a medium blue between. She used a circle stencil and metallic pearl-color paint for the buttons.
Says Almquist, "I had the idea that I could make this into something. I felt this house needed some TLC."