Before and After: This Dark, Dated Bungalow Gets an Unrecognizable Bright Makeover

updated Dec 19, 2019

Before and After: This Dark, Dated Bungalow Gets an Unrecognizable Bright Makeover

updated Dec 19, 2019
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Name: Magdalena and Scott Fisher
Location: Ocean City, New Jersey
Size: Approx. 900 square feet
Years Lived In: 1 year, owned

Photographer Magdalena Fisher and her husband Scott’s house-buying journey lasted a couple of years before they came across their perfect fixer-upper: this foreclosed home that was dark, dated, closed-in, and covered in beige carpeting. Thankfully, not only was the creative couple willing to get their hands dirty, they were helped by Scott’s talented family, which includes his father (a contractor who flips houses) and his sister, who helped cut and place tile, as well as plenty of other friends and family who pitched in on everything from knocking down walls to painting. As Magdalena explains on her blog, it was a true family affair. “It’s been quite the process and I’m so happy with how it turned out,” she says.

When asked about her favorite room in the newly renovated home, Magdalena says it’s the bright and open living space. Though the whole house was updated, the now open-plan living room, dining room, and kitchen had the biggest transformation: the wall closing the kitchen off was removed, and they replaced the home’s attic space with a shiplap vaulted ceiling and a guest loft, which is accessed by an adorable, industrial ladder. “I love the way we transformed the living space into a community space and how it’s peaceful and cozy, and reflects our style,” she says. “We love to come home to our space of peace and tranquility. We love using candles, incense, and diffusers and thrive on a cozy, zen space! We enjoy have friends and family over, too.”

Though the couple still has more renovation plans for their home—they’re currently working on the porch, patio, and exterior siding—it’s clear this is a space that was built with love, and loved immensely now that the interior remodel is finished. You could say that love was a theme for this remodel early on, actually: the couple found a stack of love letters from the 1970s in their drywall during construction!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Minimalist, beachy, boho with a hint of mid-century. It’s very Big Sur, California—lots of natural textures and plants!

Inspiration: My photography style!

Favorite Element: The lofted ceiling and skylights! It adds so much space to a small room. My father-in-law had the idea to remove the attic for the lofted shiplap ceiling, and added the skylights in.

Biggest Challenge: We were given a grant by the state to raise the house, since we are on an island and in a flood zone. However, there were so many hoops to jump through and delays. The whole grant didn’t work out and we decided to do everything on our own, but it really held us back by a few months and we spent a lot of time making plans, hiring an architect, and complying with the grant, all of which delayed us working on it ourselves and moving in! We’re so glad we ended up doing it all ourselves our way!

Proudest DIY: Absolutely everything was DIY by my family! My father-in-law is a contractor and flips houses, and he did all of the work with my husband, and our family and friends. I think the industrial ladder in the living room leading up to the loft was one of my favorite projects to creatively think through! We had a few different ideas—bookshelves, a sliding ladder, and the industrial pipes. We went with the minimalist version to save space!

Biggest Indulgence: Café Kitchen appliances!

Best Advice: Something that really helped me visualize was sitting in the room, walking through it, and feeling what the space needed, before jumping into any purchases. I kept organized lists of ideas, possible furniture and decor ideas, and ordered pieces slowly. I also kept a Pinterest board that was categorized and really helped me nail down my style!

What’s your best home secret? We tried to maximize space with under-bed wheeling storage, behind the door storage, and using storage in every nook and cranny we could! Our breakfast nook has storage, and we have a blow-up mattress under our couch for extra guests. We really utilize the space!






  • Coffee table — Amazon
  • Sofa — Joybird




Thanks, Magdalena and Scott

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This submission’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.