Chelsea & Matthew’s Creative “How-to” Home

published Apr 21, 2014
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(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Name: Chelsea and Matthew Bieber, and kids Shire, Colin, and Mason
Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
Size: 1,700 square feet
Years lived in: 3.5 years; Owned

Chelsea maintains the home decor and furniture refinishing blog Chelsea’s Garage (and an Etsy shop of the same name); she and her husband, Matt, live in a partial split-level home outside of Washington, DC with their 4-year-old twins, Shire and Colin, and 3 1/2-year-old, Mason. Their style, informed in large part by Chelsea’s hobbies and the presence of children, is an appealing mix of family-friendly furniture and DIYs (for which Chelsea has shared several “how-to’s” behind links in the source list).

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Shire, Chelsea, Colin, and Mason (Matthew was at work). (Image credit: Natalie Grasso)
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Nothing in the home is excessively precious (again: three kids under four), but it’s all full of meaning. The kids’ rooms, especially, have a cheerful, light, and down-to-earth vibe, a look that’s threaded consistently throughout the house. And despite Chelsea’s interest in furniture and home decor, she insists that it’s important not to take decorating too seriously.

“I’ve probably broken hundreds of rules,” she said. “But our home reflects who we are as a young, high energy family, and I love that.”

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I like beachy and laid-back, rustic, industrial, edgy, vintage, and mid-century modern; I’m a style mutt! In general, I definitely prefer a more casual, less polished look. You can wear your sweats, make yourself comfortable, and we’ll probably be ordering pizza for dinner.

Inspiration: Not to get corny, but my Mom! She has always not only made do with what she has, she does pretty amazing things with what she has. It was such a blessing to grow up around such a creative soul. And now I see that creativity blooming in my kids; what joy!

Favorite Element: All the sunlight! It’s so lovely and rejuvenating to me. I’ve definitely taken a cue from the natural light by keeping the rooms light and airy, with snaps of bright colors.

Biggest Challenge: I love working on our home with my own two hands, but I’m so bad at completely finishing projects! I’ll get to the very last tiny little touch, and then move on to something else before it gets done. Before Natalie came to shoot photos of our home, you know what I was doing? Touching up our kitchen cabinets that I painted 8 months ago. As soon as I re-hung them last August I noticed spots that needed more paint, but I was so happy to have the bulk of the job done that I washed my hands and left them as-is! Also challenging: My youngest son is wearing his 3rd shirt of the day in the photos. And it was only 11AM.

What Friends Say: “You changed things up! Again!” As a furniture re-finisher, I often bring finished pieces that I really like inside to ‘borrow’ until they sell. So furniture moves around quite often. The kids don’t even bat an eye!

Biggest Embarrassment: Our house does, in fact, have bathrooms. There’s a reason they’re not on this tour. Ooh, maybe we’ll have a Before/After to submit to Apartment Therapy soon!

Proudest DIY: Well, I just bashed myself for not completing projects fully so I don’t expect you to be impressed. BUT, our kitchen was truly a huge transformation. Our nearly 30 year old cabinets, original to the house, were in sore shape. Dark, reddish wood, covered in years of grease and grime. As an inexpensive solution, we decided right from the beginning that we’d paint them. Then we were approaching our 3 year mark in our house and still hadn’t gotten around to it. Finally, one hot morning last August, I was listening to my kids chat at the table over breakfast and had the sudden urge to get it done! I wanted to surprise my husband by doing it myself, so I spent 3 long days, working mostly while my kids napped in the afternoon and slept at night, (and every moment they were occupied without me), and got it done, (well, mostly; 99% at least). The lighter cabinets (painted in Old White by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint) have definitely made our kitchen lighter and brighter.

Biggest Indulgence: I really enjoy mixing found, refinished pieces into our home, but the dining table (World Market) and gunmetal chairs (Restoration Hardware) were a real treat for us to purchase. However, after we sold our old 7-piece dining set which was a generous hand-me-down, we were able to practically break even when purchasing the new table and chairs. Still, buying something brand spankin’ new was certainly an exciting change for us.

Best Advice: Don’t take decorating your home too seriously! If you overthink everything I think your space will reflect that. I don’t presume to know what I’m doing when it comes to decorating. I’ve probably broken hundreds of “basic” rules, hanging things too high, too low, too far apart or close together, and so on. But I so enjoy the process of transformation and seeing the fruits of my labor. Our home reflects who we are as a young, high energy family, and I love that. Your home should be as unique to you as your fingerprint.

Dream Sources: Urban Outfitters Home, Anthropologie Home, art on Etsy, creative friends, creative kids.

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Resources of Note:


  • Living room – Ultra Bright White by Behr
  • Dining room – Above chair rail is Ultra Bright White by Behr, below chair rail is Travertine by Valspar
  • Kitchen – Walls in Spring Mint by Behr, cabinets refinished in Old White by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
  • Shire’s bedroom – Gallery White by Behr
  • Mason & Colin’s bedroom – Marilyn’s Dress by Benjamin Moore
  • Master bedroom – Marilyn’s Dress by Benjamin Moore


  • Mirror – HomeGoods clearance
  • Chest – Craigslist and refinished in Old White by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
  • Sconces – IKEA
  • Coat rack – Homemade from a floating shelf and thrift store spoons
  • Yarn heart art – Homemade (how-to here)
  • Shoe basket – Target clearance and painted
  • Red toolbox (used as bench) – The Old Lucketts Store


  • End table – Aqua cabinet found at friend’s pre-move clean-out and refinished in Duck Egg + Old White by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
  • Wrought iron table – from Chelsea’s Mom and refinished in Old White + Paris Grey by ASCP
  • Metal geometric table – Target
  • Lantern – Pottery Barn clearance
  • Coffee table – Thrift store (Matt found it and gave it to Chelsea for Christmas)
  • Sofa – Ektorp style from IKEA (found on Craigslist, white slipcovers bought new at IKEA)
  • Pillows – Large aquas from IKEA, White and greys from Bed Bath and Beyond, Small teal Lumbar from Target
  • Tabletop task lamp – Target
  • Industrial floor lamp – HomeGoods
  • Rug – Lappljung Ruta rug from IKEA
  • Club chairs – Ektorp Jennylund chairs (found on Craigslist, white slipcovers bought new at IKEA), Chelsea added pom-pom trim to the bottom
  • Lumbars on the chairs – homemade from Target placemats (how-to here)
  • Bench along wall – Old church pew found at Lucketts Spring Market
  • Wreath – Homemade (how-to here)
  • Curtains – World Market
  • Tall wooden shelf – Found at a retiring barn and fixed up


  • Table – Garner Extension table, World Market
  • Chairs – Gunmetal Remy chairs, Restoration Hardware
  • Blue cabinet – Craiglist and refinished in Duck Egg by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
  • Chairs in corners – Craigslist and refinished in Old White by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
  • Lumbar pillows on chairs – Homemade from Target placemats (how-to here)
  • Curtains – Simply French Market on Etsy
  • Chandelier – Original to the house, refinished (how-to here)


  • “These pretzels…” cupboard – Any Seinfeld fans out there? Cabinet from Walmart and refinished in Old White by ASCP, stenciled quote done in Travertine by Valspar
  • Cart with fruit on top – Yard sale and refinished in Spring Mint by Behr
  • Chalkboard shelf – Urban Outfitters


  • Green and white painted chest (under TV) – Craigslist and refinished with Krylon Spray Paint (similar herringbone design how-to here)
  • Green clock – Target and refinished (Chelsea sprayed the frame and painted the numbers gold)
  • Sofa – Gracious hand-me-down from Chelsea’s parents
  • Lamps – Waffle weave lamp on metal base from IKEA, others found at thrift stores and refinished
  • “Love you” painting – Chelsea made (how-to here)
  • Geometric ottoman – Thrift store and recovered with homemade fabric (how-to here)


  • Bed – Matt built from pallets (free from Home Depot) (how-to here)
  • Bedding – Ebay
  • Curtains – Gift from Shire’s aunt (originally from Target)
  • Round lantern over bed – Thrift store (originally from IKEA)
  • Window over bed – Window found on side of the road, fabric added (how-to here)
  • Brown wooden chest (under paintings) – Chelsea’s Mom’s old dresser
  • Pair of paintings – Chelsea made by painting over a pair of IKEA canvas’, (how-to here)
  • Lamp on chest – Thrift store


  • Red hanging airplane – Chelsea’s Dad made for the boys
  • Paper airplanes – Chelsea made (from online tutorials)
  • Blue shelf – Found at the Lucketts Spring Market
  • Blue rug – Home Depot and painted (how-to here)
  • Beds – Matt’s childhood bunkbeds
  • Bedding – Target


  • Bed – Family heirloom from Chelsea’s side (along with single drawer table and dressers), ornate headboard removed and replaced with a lighter homemade piece (how-to here)
  • Bedding – Duvet Cover from Bed Bath and Beyond, sheets from Target, Shams from World Market, accent pillows from HomeGoods clearance
  • Bedside shelves – Homemade from Home Depot supplies
  • Lamps – Crate and Barrel with chicken wire added for interest
  • Leaning “ladder like” shelves – Amazon and refinished in Chateau Grey by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
  • Antlers – Flea market, recovered in passed-down antique linen, plaque painted in Old White by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Thanks, Chelsea and Matt!

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