(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )
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.
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )
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.
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

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."

Images: Marv Bondarowicz