DIYers Find Fixer Upper Success with a 2nd Home Reno

DIYers Find Fixer Upper Success with a 2nd Home Reno

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Name: Suzannah Hamlin Stanley and Jason Stanley
Location: Beaverton — Portland, Oregon
Size: 1,683 square feet
Years lived in: Owned

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You may remember Suzannah Hamlin Stanley and Jason Stanley’s first home just outside Portland, where they created a soft, light-filled space with color and gold pops. The dynamic do-it-yourself duo has struck again with their second home renovation project! Once the design of the town home was completed, the couple started looking for the next fixer upper, one where they could explore their new-found interest in bold contrasts, natural textures and fun materials. Their next home was going to be a celebration of their new style and a test of their DIY skills.

Any project worth being proud of has a lot of sweat, tears, laughter, and several stories of ‘do-overs’—but that’s the lure of the fixer-upper. Suzannah and Jason had a hand in everything of this home’s renovation, from cosmetic projects like custom upholstery jobs, to more complex architectural work like the complete demolition and rebuilding of two and a half bathrooms. They even laid new plank flooring throughout the home, which proved to be both trying and rewarding.

Besides just having great taste, what really sets them apart is their ability to see beyond the dirt, grime, nail holes and other calamities; it’s their perseverance to push through to finish the project. Their new home is a testament to their teamwork-style relationship, growing set of DIY skills, and maturing design look.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My style has changed a lot since I decorated our townhouse a few years ago. I had stopped buying new things for the townhouse and so the decor got a little stale, and I had slowed down with soaking up inspirations and generating new ideas until we started really searching for a fixer upper house. It’s hard to sum up my current style in a few words, but here goes…light and fresh, with bold contrasts and natural elements. West Coast relaxed and simple. It is definitely less girly than it was a few years ago, and features some higher quality pieces!

Inspiration: I’m a longtime Pinterest user but have been following a lot more decor bloggers/social media folks on Instagram since getting our fixer upper. Now I get ideas and inspiration from everyday people updating their homes just like me, as well as from the decor magazines and high end interior designers!! But, I do still love looking at professionally shot home tours and designs by Amber Interiors.

Favorite Element: Our kitchen reno really feels comfortable to me and like it shows off the updated style I wanted. The straight herringbone backsplash was a sort of last-minute decision and it just makes the room, I think!! Our kitchen update was on a super low budget and we did a really good job of using what we had, and yet I’m still really happy with how it turned out.

Biggest Challenge: I can answer this in two ways. Biggest design challenge for me, I think, is the lack of natural light in our bedroom and the living room. The house was built by a tract home builder and they went cheap, and there isn’t a single window on the western side of the house!! And not many on the east. We do have great natural light in a couple spaces but as usual, I would like more.

Biggest challenge in decorating and renovating? Well, we had a lot. This house had literally thousands of nail, pushpin, and doorknob-sized holes in the walls after damage from the renters, including some with mystery cords coming out of them!, so we did a lot of drywall patching and texturing. But I think the most challenging project physically was the floors. I was excited to find a home that could be a blank slate, where we could redo every square foot of flooring everywhere, but it was a LOT of work. We laid the flooring ourselves (it’s from Select Surfaces, a laminate with underlayment attached, and clicks together WAY easier than other laminates we’ve used elsewhere) but actually, because of my husband’s work and certification study schedule and because I had more flexibility over the Christmas holidays, I laid most of the flooring myself. I cut it in the garage because it was 23 degrees outside during a lot of that phase, so it was still freezing in there and all of our stuff in there got covered in laminate dust (and some of it still is). But dang, the floors look good!!

Oh—removing the wall in the master bathroom was harder and slower than we thought. Lots of tricky electrical, plumbing, and drywall repair and work in that whole area. But it was so worth it for a spacious master bath and accommodating a 72″ vanity.

What Friends Say: They love it!! They are so sweet and complimentary. I’ve heard “this is my dream kitchen!!” and had several people ask where I got the globe chandelier in the dining room (Designer Living online, Ink & Ivy brand). People have also been excited to see the green sofa in person (ComfortWorks slipcover on an IKEA sofa I got for $100 on Craigslist years ago). I still notice every little mistake on the walls, baseboards, tile, grout, and more but friends are so sweet and reassure me that they don’t notice those details and it looks great to them!

Biggest Embarrassment: I have a lot of embarrassments throughout the house but I don’t want to tell them to you!!

I can say that it was pretty awkward that we didn’t do the flooring on the stairs until nine months after we moved in—seven months after we finished the rest of the flooring—so for a looooong time the first thing you saw when you walked in the door was bare subfloor and paint-spattered previously-carpeted steps. So ugly and I’m pretty sure terrible feng shui. But that project was a pain!! Glad it’s done now and the entry matches the rest of the house!

Proudest DIY: I think just the fact that we did two bathroom renos in two and half weekends including replacing subfloor and tiling both of them was a big win for the house. I feel totally confident in tiling now, especially flooring! And I loooove how the hex tiles look in our powder room and guest bath (both from Thomas Avenue Ceramics).

Biggest Indulgence: I went back and forth and back and forth on options for our bathroom vanity in our master bath. We did the other two bathrooms on super tight budgets but the master was larger and storage and function were really important to me there. We wanted about a 70″ wide vanity, and those are not cheap!, and we didn’t want add a second sink but one-sink options are very limited in that width. We seriously considered a makeshift IKEA vanity combination with a custom marble backsplash and sink, but it got complicated, and ordering a ready-made, one-piece vanity seemed so much easier that it was worth the cost (once we plumbed for the second sink!).

However, the vanity was also one of the slowest parts of the reno—it took more than two months to get here and installed since the first one was broken and the moving companies that deliver them do not specialize in fast customer service, let’s just say. We did get to sell the broken one so it helped with the cost, but if you ever want to order a vanity online, give yourself LOTS of time!!

Best Advice: Block out time when you can work and when you can’t. We worked during almost all of our free time for the first couple weeks when we were excited, but besides that we get really burned out if we have to do work on weeknights or all weekend. It’s been really good to understand that we won’t have energy two days in a row (or would rather go hiking or wine tasting) and just plan ahead with reasonable expectations for what you can get done in your set work time.

Dream Sources: I am a pro budget shopper so I’ve spent hours looking for affordable versions of the styles I like. There are a few I haven’t found many options for, though…I would love some really quality wishbone chairs and a big wooden ladder for towel storage. And maybe a warm tan leather sofa!


Benjamin Moore — White (OC 151) — Walls and trim in every room
Kitchen upper cabinets — Benjamin Moore White
Kitchen lower cabinets — Benjamin Moore Black Beauty

Curtain rods — Amazon (“room darkening” but modern look I wanted)
Curtain clips — Amazon
Curtains — IKEA Ritva
Bamboo blinds — Steve’s Blinds, Steve’s Exclusive Collection Good Bamboo Woven Shades in Bamboo Mix

Ceiling light fixture — Amazon
Rug — Estate sale
Console table — Target
Painting — HomeGoods
Black mirror — thrifted

Light fixtures — Amazon
Gold square mirror — Ross

Green sofa cover and mid-century feet — ComfortWorks
Sofa — IKEA Karlstad (but mine is from Craigslist)
Ivory chairs — thrifted, with DIY covers from Organic Cotton Plus fabric, post on my blog here
White mudcloth pillows — DIY, similar at Target
Jute rug — Craiglist; similar
Marble side table — Target, similar and similar
Tripod lamp — Target
Arc lamp — Target
Large black/ivory wool pillow — City Home
Checkered pillow — Amazon
Black/multi pillow — Target
Ivory wooly pillow — Target
Gold sunburst mirror — Target, similar
Dresser used as TV unit — Craigslist
Fern art prints — City Home

Rug — Target
Table — World Market Donovan table
Chairs — Amazon
Light Fixture — Designer Living Ink & Ivy Cyrus Chandelier
Art — By Jason’s grandpa
Sideboard — Habitat for Humanity Restore
Ivory lamp — Target
Mirror — Target

Countertops — Lumber Liquidators maple butcher block
Vent hood — Amazon
Sink — Wayfair
Faucet — Orchard Supply Hardware
Pendant light — Amazon
Hand towels — World Market
Cabinet hardware — Orchard Supply but no longer available; similar

Bed — DIY from ’90s-era Sears bed from Craiglist, painted; similar
Green pillows — World Market
Ivory metallic pillow — Target
Art above bed — Blue Nude
Storage bench — Target
Rug — Target
Left nightstand — Vintage
Right nightstand — Target
Bedside table lamps — Target
LEGO storm trooper alarm clock — Amazon
Console table — Craigslist
Ivory lamp — Target Base, Target Shade
Armchair — Tommy Hilfiger Two-Tone Wingback Chair, Amazon
Black/white cross pillow — DIY, tutorial on my blog here
Art by chair — Nordstrom

Sconce — Amazon
Wallpaper — Walls Need Love Banana Leaf
Mirror — Estate sale; similar
Faucet — Amazon
Sink — Craigslist; Kohler; similar
Hexagon towel ring — Hobby Lobby, no longer available; similar
Turkish terry hand towel — HomeGoods; similar
Tile — Thomas Avenue Ceramics

Light — Amazon; similar
Mirror — Target
Vanity — IKEA Hemnes with modifications; my post/tutorial here
Vanity pulls — Amazon
Faucet — Delta Faucet, Amazon
Rug — thrifted; similar
Turkish terry hand towel — HomeGoods, similar
Tile — Thomas Avenue ceramics

Sconces — Amazon
Vanity — Wayfair
Vanity handles — Amazon
Faucets — Amazon
Vanity lights — Amazon
TP holder — IKEA
Hand towel hooks — IKEA
Towel bar — Amazon
Mirror — IKEA
Turkish terry hand towel — HomeGoods, similar
Tile — Merola Twenties Vintage tile, Home Depot

Round mirror — Target
Sofa — West Elm Henry Sofa
Sofa throw pillows — DIY from fabric, see post on my blog and direct links here
Arc lamp — Target
Ceiling fan — Westinghouse, Amazon
Rattan chair — Target, no longer available, similar
Rug — Craigslist
Side table — Target; similar and similar
Turquoise lamp — Vintage, thrifted
Ottoman — DIY with leather from Leather Hide Store, post on my blog here

Thanks, Suzannah and Jason!

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