House Tours
Jun 1, 2014

Interior: Modern classic on a budget

By: Iris Benaroia
Interior: Modern classic on a budget

A warm and tranquil living room. Author: Tracey Ayton

House Tours
Jun 1, 2014

Interior: Modern classic on a budget

By: Iris Benaroia

Blogger, designer and savvy DIYer Sarah Swanson decorates her sophisticated transitional Calgary home with smart solutions.

When it comes to new construction, it's easy to go wild with tantalizing upgrades: granite, stainless steel, marble oh my! It's all so inviting. And expensive. But as a blogger, painter and designer with a few tricks in her tool belt, Sarah Swanson of the blog Flourish Design and Style declined to go overly deluxe when she and her husband, Kevin, bought their house off the blueprint in a suburb of Calgary five years ago. The three-bedroom 1,400-square-foot abode - where they live with their daughters as well as a cotton-white puffball of a dog named Denver - was builder basic, but Sarah felt up to the task of making it feel like home.

Sarah's DIY projects and pretty personal aesthetic - mellow, modern, uncluttered - are evident from the moment you step through the front door. On the first floor, for example, homemade panelled wainscotting in lieu of pricier architectural moulding gives the walls panache.

The house, which Sarah describes as "traditional with a twist, in a palette of white with tonal browns and hints of purple," is also adorned with clusters of her own artwork: Abstract smudges in watery hues recall orchid petals and lavender buds in the rain. She sells the mini creations through her website for $10 each - an outrageously low price that fits with Sarah's philosophy that not every piece of decor has to be precious."

The family has since moved to a brand new home - a place for fresh DIY projects and art days for the family to tackle. After all, living spaces are never really about the glamorous upgrades, they're about making memories. Because sometimes - actually, often! - it's the simple pleasures that are most rewarding.
 

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Interior: Modern classic on a budget

Calm living room

A modern aesthetic pervades the living room, where varying shades of taupe feel warm and tranquil. To keep costs down – and because DIY projects are just plain fun – Sarah did the wainscotting herself with the help of family.

By: Iris Benaroia Source: Tracey Ayton Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Modern classic on a budget

Secretaire

Sarah made the most of an odd half-wall by adding a secretaire to create a cozy mail-sorting spot. The old-school-style desk feels updated next to the transparent chair.

By: Iris Benaroia Source: Tracey Ayton Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Modern classic on a budget

From closet to office

Homeowner and designer Sarah Swanson devised a smart solution for an underused closet off the kitchen by turning it into an office using kitchen cabinetry and a countertop from IKEA. She carried the wainscotting from the living room into the nook for cohesion. Pink decor accessories and a whimsical African headdress round out the charming space.

By: Iris Benaroia Source: Tracey Ayton Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Modern classic on a budget

Black and nickel kitchen

As sharp-looking as a tuxedo and top hat, Sarah’s kitchen sports a black backsplash and matching laminate countertops, a welcome change from the all-white look. For bling, the original builder-basic black handles were replaced with polished nickel knobs and pulls.

By: Iris Benaroia Source: Tracey Ayton Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Modern classic on a budget

Bar station

The elegant gold glasses from Italy on the sideboard bar station were a wedding gift from Sarah’s grandparents, while the artwork above got a cheap DIY treatment. “I taped out the frame and painted the corners gold, campaign style,” she says.

By: Iris Benaroia Source: Tracey Ayton Credits: Style at Home

Interior: Modern classic on a budget

Family time

Sarah, Calleigh, Lauren, Kevin (and Denver the dog) enjoy a cuddly family moment in the inviting master bedroom.

By: Iris Benaroia Source: Tracey Ayton Credits: Style at Home

 

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Interior: Modern classic on a budget