Aug 23, 2010

Interior: One-month makeover

By: Helen Racanelli

Interior: One-month makeover Author: Style At Home

Aug 23, 2010

Interior: One-month makeover

By: Helen Racanelli
Ever buy something amazing, only to find everything else in your home feels unbearably old-fashioned in comparison? For TV personality and thrifty DIY maven Karen Bertelsen, the purchase of a sleek on-sale sectional precipitated a clean-sweep of her antiques-packed ("Picture Granny's house without Tweety Bird!") home. "If you buy a chair here, a table there, and then wait around for the perfect lamps, it can take years," Karen says. "I wanted none of that. I decided on a basic look and went nuts." She sold nearly all the antiques, painted the walls and rounded up new furniture for an organic modern scheme rich in wood and balanced in white.

"I like things that are a mix of primitive and rough, and sleek and contemporary," says Karen. She also loves to do it herself, the crux of her blog at -- an exercise in frugal inventiveness that chronicles everything from her whirlwind decorating experience to her killer antojitos recipe. 




Foyer The big impact of TV host Karen Bertelsen's foyer is achieved with statement pieces like a hide rug, a stainless steel pedestal table and an Aalto vase filled with parrot tulips. The bookcase houses a pair of antique antlers passed down from Karen's grandfather.



Antique artwork Having sold or given away all but five of her antiques, Karen kept a life-size oil portrait she purchased at auction, which came from Argyllshire, Scotland. White Panton-style chairs were HomeSense bargains. "$800 for eight," Karen says. "Not expensive, but a lot of money for someone who usually finds her chairs on the side of the road."



Dining space
A lacquered sideboard provides plenty of storage for tableware and repeats the glossy modernism of the Panton-style chairs. A small sheepskin rug tossed over a chair -- one of Karen's signature tricks -- is a clever way to make a contemporary piece cosy. In cold months, Karen lays three of these rugs over the custom wooden bench.



Kitchen Karen is unapologetic about adoring her unrenovated 1940s kitchen and its painted solid wood cupboards. "It isn't perfect -- it's homey," she says. She refreshed the cupboards in a Depression Era-inspired green and deep-cleaned the drawers' original cup pulls. The table, chairs and pendant lamp are a melange of mod and country finds.



Living room The living room used to be ultratraditional and filled with an array of antiques. Today, it's light and bright, juxtaposing the microfibre sectional that sparked Karen's interior overhaul with a clean-lined, chrome-finish coffee table and a primitive side table she created by adding chrome legs to a woodcutter's chopping block.



White all over Karen repainted the house herself, drenching entire rooms in versatile Benjamin Moore fave Cloud White CC-40. "This was strictly a decorative makeover," Karen says. "It just goes to show what painting and getting new furniture can do."



In Karen's furniture purge, the antique bedroom set would have gotten the heave-ho had it fit down the staircase. She would have had to break open an old window, which was drywalled in a renovation, to get it out otherwise. She kept it and added a flat-weave rug and tulip-base side table to freshen up the room.



Bathroom If the bathroom looks gloriously old-fashioned, it's because Karen hasn't remodelled it. She kept all the original yellow brass hardware and painted the yellow wooden beadboard taupe.


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Interior: One-month makeover