A Boring Builder Grade House Was Turned into a Cozy, Earthy, Moody Home

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Name: Zenia Olivares, husband, and two dogs
Location: Mount Holly, New Jersey
Type of home: House
Size: 1500 square feet
Years lived in: 4 months, owned

One of my favorite upcycles, this dresser

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Believe it or not we bought this 1875 colonial sight unseen. We moved from Texas to New Jersey (for my husband’s job) the day right after Thanksgiving. We didn’t want to live in temporary housing, so we made the bold decision to buy a house without seeing it first. To say making that decision was scary is an understatement, but we did it with the help of our realtor.

The vaulted ceilings in our tiny dining room make it feel bigger than it is.

When we first saw the house it wasn’t impressive, if I’m honest. This abandoned 1875 colonial had been flipped into what would considered a boring builder grade home, but despite this I saw the potential. It’s still a beautiful work-in-progress, but I’m so excited to continue this passion project that is our house!

The other side of the “pass through.“

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Cozy, earthy, moody, transitional.

My favorite space so far, "The Pass Through."

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room at the moment is the “pass through” (it’s the space that has the house’s original staircase I painted black). When we first saw this house after buying it I wondered what would become of this weird space. I knew this space would eventually be the home to an epic gallery wall. Too big to be a hallway, too small to be its own room, so I named it the “pass through.” Mainly because you get from the front of the house to the back of the house through it. I wanted to play with all sorts of ideas here! I considered a gallery wall (on the opposite wall that didn’t work) I thought, “Oh! Maybe floor to ceiling shelves!” Nope… too expensive. You see there are two walls here in this space: one is 61 inches long, the other, a stair wall. The plan all started with my friend, Ashley, suggesting doing a board and batten wall; she had done one on her weird entry wall, and I figured, why not. I had already done a couple throughout my home. Why not one more? I ended up DIYing this space myself and I love the end result!

You’ll find rugs everywhere in our house.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? This really cool mini face vase from Jonathan Adler. I love everything about it! It’s weird and quirky and adds a touch of whimsy!

Gallery walls are a thing in our home.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Bring items into your home you love, things that inspire you. Don’t be afraid of what people might think, in the end your home is your space and your sanctuary so make it a place that brings you joy and you love to be in.

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.