A First-Time Home Buyer's Colorful Retro Reno

A First-Time Home Buyer's Colorful Retro Reno

Diana Paulson
Oct 30, 2017

Name: Brandon Bourdganis
Location: Ferndale, Michigan
Size: 900 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

"My home is a snapshot of my life...I try to incorporate memories from my family, travels, city, state and friends while making it look very personal and uniquely me. I like to think that any stranger can come into my home, without knowing anything about me, and they would instantly understand my passions, history and identity," says Brandon, the first-time homebuyer of this cozy 1920s house in Ferndale, a suburb of Detroit.

Born and raised in the Detroit area, Brandon lived in France after graduating from college, exploring as many cities and countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. It's these global experiences that have influenced his perspective, lifestyle and style. Along with the house's original architectural features — like hardwood floors and molding — he's added plenty of personality thanks to color, modern furniture and more.

"I love finding new pieces that complement the character of the house and my design eye. I like spaces that are both visually appealing and functional. I enjoy living in a pretty space but my friends and family can come over and feel comfortable and relaxed at the same time. For my first house, I am really proud of it and everything I have accomplished so far."

After moving back to Michigan from France, Brandon got a job in automotive digital marketing, and after renting an apartment for a year, he bought this house. And while he loves his community's vibrant character and walkability, his first house command a lot of attention!

"In my free time, I love making improvements on my house. Whether it is big or small projects inside or outside, I am always dreaming up or working on a project for my home. Even when I travel, I am always excited to come home and be in this space that I have worked so hard to realize."

Despite being a conservative size, the house feels large thanks to the layout and a lot of windows, including windows in the closets. And though Brandon's found plenty of ways to add his personal touch to this home, he respects the architecture, too.

"I love the character this house has and I always want to stay true to it while incorporating my own personal vision and design. I just finished renovating the entire kitchen and partially the bathroom. This was my first major renovation. The previous kitchen had little storage and poorly sealed concrete countertops. For the new kitchen, I tried to stay true to the character of the house while making it modern and functional. I love the finished product and I could not be more proud to see my ideas come to life."

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Mid-century modern with retro/vintage, sentimental accents and pops of color.

Inspiration: I'm inspired by mid-century modern elements, colors, my world travels, living in France, Detroit, life/family memories, retro and fun pieces, the vibe of the room, and how the room will make me feel.

Favorite Element: The Marshall Field's sign/lightbox. When a local Macy's (former Hudson's and Marshall Field's department store) was closing, I found the Marshall Field's sign at their liquidation sale. When I saw the sign, I instantly knew that I wanted to make it into a lightbox for the living room. It took years before I asked a woodworker friend to build the walnut frame and add the lights. I love the nostalgic touch and history it adds to the room. It is a statement for anyone who visits the house and remembers shopping at Marshall Field's. Plus, it goes perfectly with the green leather chair from the original Hudson's Department Store restaurant.

Biggest Challenge: The dining room rug. It took me years to find a rug that fit the room. I just wish it wasn't white, but it is far better than the previous one.

What Friends Say: My friends love my home and people always want a tour. They either love or hate the pink paint in the bathroom, but I think it's fun. I always get: "You should be an interior designer." "When can you come decorate my home?" "It's livable and cozy but really chic." and "It is very you!"

Biggest Embarrassment: I cannot keep houseplants alive. Despite my dedication and research, I've killed succulents, air plants, snake plants, and everything in between. I think my house might not get enough direct light. None the less, all the plants in my house are fake except the jade plant in the kitchen. Hopefully one day all the plants will be real, but for now, they're plastic.

Proudest DIY: My entertainment center. I came up with the idea of reimagining an old dresser into an entertainment center. With the help of a friend, we removed the top drawers, added shelves, drilled cord holes, and painted it blue. Now, it's a fun, unique piece. Plus, it's great storage for DVDs, records, and board games while housing my TV, electronics and speakers.

Biggest Indulgence: The Shinola wall clock in the kitchen. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it on a tour of the Shinola Detroit Factory. It served as my inspiration for my kitchen renovation.

Best Advice: Designing does not come together in one day; it takes time. Whether it is projects, money or design choices, it is nice to let ideas marinate and let elements come together over time.

Dream Sources: Jonathan Adler. But, to be honest, West Elm, CB2 and local Detroit shops are still dream sources as long as I do not have to worry about a budget. I often reel myself in so I can put money into traveling and fun activities.


Living Room – Sherwin-Williams Bosporus 6503
White Walls – Sherwin-Williams Extra White 7006
Entertainment Center – Sherwin-Williams Major Blue 6795
Dining Room – Sherwin-Williams Dill 6438
Kitchen – Sherwin-Williams Osage Orange 6890
Hallway – Sherwin-Williams Mindful Gray 7016
Bedroom – Sherwin-Williams Gauntlet Gray 7019
Bedroom – Sherwin-Williams Mindful Gray 7016
Bathroom – Sherwin-Williams Verbena 6581
Office – Sherwin-Williams In The Navy 9178

Runner – Target
Marshall Field's Lightbox – Walnut lightbox by Bristlecone Builds
Green Chair – Former Hudson's Department Store Restaurant Chair
Star Mirror – Target
Historic Detroit Campus Martius Print – Iconic Detroit
Console Table – West Elm
Yellow Lamp – Target
Pineapple Candle – West Elm
Gold Picture Frame – Target
Disneyland Tray – Eastern Market Antiques
Painted Detroit Brick – Motor City Brick
Brass Wire Cubes – CB2
White Vase – CB2
Gold Elephant – Target
Sofa – World Market
Gray Pattern Chair – West Elm
Couch Pillows – Target, West Elm, World Market, World Market, and Home Goods
Scalloped Pillow – West Elm
Coffee Table – West Elm
Gold Mirror Tray – World Market
Blue Vase – Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler
Side Table – West Elm
White Vase – CB2
Pattern Vase – West Elm
Brown Glass Vase – Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler
Gold Terrariums – West Elm
Wood Kangaroo – Australia
Mercury Glass Lamp – Target
Face Planter – West Elm
Rug – Home Goods
Curtains – West Elm

Table – West Elm
Chairs – West Elm
Table Runner – Z Gallerie
White Planter – AllModern
Buffet – West Elm
Chandelier – West Elm
Rug – Target
White Table Lamp – CB2
Gold Vase – CB2
Green Vase – HomeGoods
Eiffel Tower Wall Art – HomeGoods
Record Player – Urban Outfitters
Detroit Print – Marcy Davy
Reclaimed Wood Picture Frame - MutualAdoration
Bar Cart – Target
Animal Glassware – Happy Chic by Johnathan Adler
Tall White Vase – Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler
Horse Match Strike – Jonathan Adler
Curtains – West Elm

Wall Clock – Shinola
Chandelier – Lamps Plus
Jade Planter – AllModern
Pot Rack – IKEA
Canisters – Target
Soup Dispenser – DROUGHT
Walnut Cutting Board – EBAY
Michigan Cutting Board – Bed, Bath and Beyond
Fox Salt and Pepper Shaker – Jonathan Adler

Flower Print – Rifle Paper Co.

Bed – IKEA
Dresser – IKEA
Nightstands – IKEA
Lamps – Target
World Clock – Pottery Barn
Rug – IKEA
Bedding – Target
Chandelier – Lamps Plus
Birch Picture – Randy Nyhof Photos
Mirror – Home Goods
Deer Head – DIY

Vanity – IKEA
Mirror – IKEA
Shower Curtain – Target
Comb Print – Riffle Paper Co
Scissors Print – Rifle Paper Co
Canisters – The Container Store

Arm Chair – Target
Llama Pillow – Urban Outfitters
Side Table – Great grandmother's table
"We will always have Paris" Tray – Nordstrom
Brass Picture Frame – Umbra
Suitcases – Suitcases used by a friend's grandparents to move to Central Michigan University in the 1950s
Large Detroit Picture – IKEA
Rug – Overstock
Shelving Unit – IKEA
Bob-lo Island Pendant – The Detroit Mercantile Co.
1920s Paris and Dunkerque (Dunkirk), France Postcards – Flea Markets in France
"Not all who wander are lost" print – The Brown Dog Studio
Coaster Art – A La Mort Subite, Brussels, Belgium
Lamp – Grandmother's lamp
"If you can't say anything nice, say it in French" Tray – Nordstrom
Liquor Decanters – Decanters from great grandfather
Kwak Beer Glass – Brussels, Belgium
Dandelion Plate – West Elm
Decorative Box – Target
Splatter Vase – Target
Trumpet – Saugatuck Antiques Pavilion
Glass Elephant – Warehouse One
Wood Elephant – India
Desk – Target
Desk Chair – World Market
Desk Light – Target
Wall Shelves – Target
Picture Frames – Target and IKEA
Circle Picture Frame – Salvation Army
Portrait Drawing – 1960s Cedar Point Amusement Park drawing of grandma
Wedding Photo – Grandparents on their wedding day in 1949
Spice Market Photo – Trip to Morocco in 2012
Brass Teapot – J&L Antiques
Half Moon Planter – Urban Outfitters

Thanks, Brandon!

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