1920s cottage
Carlos Emilio

Cottage Style

"Our house was built in the 1920s, so it's filled with character," Caroline Willis says. She added a fresh coat of paint in soft, neutral tones and other inexpensive details to update the cottage while staying within budget.

Basket storage
Carlos Emilio

Keep the Character

Open shelving in the island offers storage for everyday kitchen clutter. Caroline removed the cabinet doors and slid baskets onto the shelves for easy organization. "When we first moved in, I thought, 'Those tiles on the backsplash and the island have to go,' " Caroline says. Now she appreciates them for their visual interest.

Caroline Willis

Willis Kitchen Before

Before remodeling, the kitchen cabinets looked dated and dark. The room had good bones, but needed cosmetic changes. Caroline dreamed of creating a brighter kitchen, but she had a limited budget.

White kitchen
Carlos Emilio

Kitchen After

Caroline painted the kitchen walls and cabinets a soft white, then replaced the cabinet hardware and hinges. Rather than installing new cabinets, she simply refaced a few with glass fronts; she also kept the existing white laminate countertops. A built-in banquette maximizes space in the dining area.

Dining room table
Carlos Emilio

Style on a Budget

In the dining room, Caroline added a skirt to the large round table. "I think a skirted table has such a pretty look, and it's inexpensive," she says. "You can change out the overlays whenever you want and have one for summer and one for winter." Next, to reduce contrast and create a calm space, she painted the room's trim a slightly darker shade than the wall color.

Cozy den
Carlos Emilio

Unifying Tones

"The den is the coziest room in the house," Caroline says. "It's where we spend about 80 percent of our time." Classic white shutters on the windows bring the outside in. Natural materials, such as the woven sea grass rug, give the room texture without overpowering the color scheme.

Living room
Carlos Emilio

Spend Wisely

Caroline made careful choices about when to save and when to splurge. In the living room, she slipcovered a beat-up leather armchair with inexpensive white canvas, then paired it with a more expensive silk throw pillow. She also took extra time to paint the insides of her bookshelves darker than the walls to provide a contrasting backdrop for her creamware collection.

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