Modernize Your Home on a Budget

Jul 13, 2021 | Home Decor, Style

A neutral color palette accentuated with distinctive furnishings gives this home a contemporary, yet comfortable vibe. 

Find out tips from a house flipper who loves to resurrect damaged homes.

Designer Tara Graves doesn’t shy away from a challenge. In the past year and a half alone, in the midst of a pandemic, she has flipped seven homes all around the city.

“The worse, the better!” she says of her most recent renovation project — a J-town home she recently resurrected from the dead. “That’s where you get the best deals.”

When she purchased the home off Old Six Mile Lane, originally crafted in 1798, it had been destroyed in a fire. So, Tara rolled up her sleeves, called in her crew, and took the house down to the studs. She first blew off the back of the house to create an open floor plan kitchen and dining area with additional living space above it on the second floor. In 10 months, a phoenix emerged from the ashes: a five bedroom, four bathroom stunner, unrecognizable from its four bed, two bath origin. 

This home off Old Six Mile Lane was destroyed in a fire, but Tara Graves brought the house (including the kitchen, pictured remodeled below) to life again, while remaining conscious of her budget.     Photo by Timb Photography/Tim Blanchard

Tara Graves’ remodel of the burned kitchen.

Tara’s style relies on blending contemporary and classic aesthetics to remain timeless. She loves a clean, bright neutral palette accentuated with handmade features, perfectly staged knick-knacks, and pops of color and texture. The paint throughout the home is bright and crisp with dark grey accent walls to add contrast. She also believes in utilizing all the space. For example, she turned the dead area under the home’s stairs into a children’s play area complete with a modernized tea set and thick tufted rugs.

A forgotten corner in the dining room became an inviting bar area by adding a live-edge wood wine rack she crafted and resin-coated herself. The most impressive DIY feature, however, is an accent wall Tara created out of the ends of 2x4’s featured in the main floor’s bathroom. By hand-staining and painting the ends of the discarded wood pieces, she successfully crafted a textured and rich masterpiece that is sure to bring plenty of pride to the new homeowners. While her years in fashion design help her save money in her DIY projects, she spared no expense in the bathrooms; she wanted the first-floor primary bathroom to have a “spa-like experience.” Modern mood lighting and bright white tile blend with wood and rustic features, and undertones of black and touches of gold add glam.

Tara describes her design style as modern, contemporary and rustic. “When you blend styles, they become more rich and eclectic,” Tara says. She also blends the high-end with found, refurbished objects such as in the primary bedroom’s closet. When Tara received a price estimate from a professional closet store that exceeded her budget, she designed the closet herself instead. She found two used pieces of furniture, had her contractor connect them with a custom-built shelf in between, added closet rods, painted the entire unit a monochromatic dark grey, and voila — a custom closet on a budget.

The newly renovated home features two primary bedrooms with attached bathrooms — one on the first floor decorated in pops of pink with feminine touches like a reading nook, and another on the second floor for an older teenager or a mother-in-law suite. The upstairs also features a seating area in the middle of the four bedrooms for an additional community space, filled with Tara’s favorite bric-a-brac: plants, horses, and books. “I love knick-knacks. I love arranging them! I can move a plant 20 times until it is perfect.”

Beyond the new custom mantel in the living room and kitchen blessed with new appliances, stove, eat-in counter, and pot-filler stove, Tara has designed a move-in masterpiece. She has literally built something from nothing, and the success of her project can be measured in that it sold on the first day it was listed. But no time to relish in the completion, for Tara, it’s time to move on to the next project.

P.S. Check out more home style features.

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