Friday, August 20, 2010

How I Made Over A Sorority House On A Tight Budget

So here's the scoop. The sorority does not own this house. We lease it from a fraternity (they are not currently on campus). It is not our ideal chapter house by any means. But it's what we have right now and we have to make it work. I did not pick the paint color. It was chosen by someone else. Years ago. I loathe the paint color. It's fleshy. It might not look that bad in the photos given that most were taken at night. But trust me when I tell you it is the color of flesh. It's creepy and gross. But I had a very limited budget. And it was either paint the many colors of furniture to match or paint the walls. So the flesh is still there. And still gross. But I am hoping that everything else in the room takes away a bit of the creep factor. And I hope to be allowed to paint soon. Even the molding is that dreadful color. Ugh. This whole re-do really was a work with what you have project. Including paying for labor to move furniture for a few hours, this was done for about $800. It would have been less if I didn't need help moving stuff. But damn, furniture is heavy!!


This is the shelf in the front foyer. I had actually removed about 1/3 from the before photo too. But this is the after. Again, not my chosen shelf. It was there already. But I think I did a good job editing down. I bought out two Wallmarts worth of those plate/frame stands. They really make a big difference in display areas. The middle shelf (with the flag) is dedicated to a sister who passed away several years ago as an undergrad. Very sad but nice they still do a good job remembering her. The red compote dish is inexpensive glass from a thrift shop. I just needed something with a punch of color on there. It can be seen from the living room just to give you a reference.


This is the mantle in the dining room before. Could they fit more fake flowers up there? I had actually removed about five candles before I remembered to take this shot. This mantle is not original to the house, though it is in the old part of the house. I think it was likely added in the early 1900's though. The white doorway to the left leads to the living room so this actually cannot be seen from the foyer or the living room. The three wood letter tiles originally had plaster tiles with the fraternity letters in them. They removed them and made those wood tiles. They are quite clever in person but challenging because there is tiny writing on each of them.


Mantle after. Because of the tiles, I could only justify a few bolder pieces. The green leaf plate was a Big Lots purchase. I like the shape and color it adds.


Star before. Baby blue. Bought on sale at Big Lots. I just liked the size of the thing.


Silver thanks to spray paint.


I took two of these fabulously 80's pink lamps and gave them a little spray paint make-over.


Close up of the miserable pink lamp. The color reminds me of the Golden Girls home. In the worst possible way.


Lamp all shiny and new.


Everything in the house is hung about six inches from the ceiling. And these are 12 foot ceilings, mind you. There were two others on this wall but the 3 x 5" frame up at the ceiling line is my personal favorite. It's not even of an actual photo- just some cheapy poster art from Walmart. Not that it mattered as it couldn't be seen from the ground level anyway. Ha.


Another fabulous example of a cheap cardboard poster hung inches from the ceiling. Oh college kids!


There was a giant pool table (left over from the frat) in this space. That was never once used by my girls. So after a year of pleading with our (fraternity) landlords, I had it removed. But they then just used the space to store bikes (don't get me started!) and crap. Notice the floodwater black curtain!


This love seat just appeared in our basement with all the other random furniture down there. It's actually very nice- looks brand new. But the green color, while nice, didn't match my room. So it gained a nice tan slipcover.


Small coffee table before. I also fixed the legs that were about falling off.


I bought this awesome frame with nice mat and glass for $5 at a local thrift shop. The art was ugly but the frame was totally worth a little elbow grease.


No more ridiculously high wall art. This is the small coffee table I painted. I actually painted LOTS of tables but this is the after shot of the one shown above. And the formerly green love seat. I wanted a matching slipcover for the grey sofa but I accidentally bought two love seat covers. I tried to exchange the extra love seat cover but they were suddenly sold out of the sofa size in all area stores. I don't think the grey looks terrible though so I am OK with it staying that way until I find the matching slip cover.


There is a coffee table back in the corner to fill that awkward space. One of the new silver lamps sits on top of a giant art book on top of the table. The framed art work is actually quite nice and from a thrift shop. Decent frame, mat, glass and nice signed watercolor. And I made the framed letters above. Glass and frame are from a thrift shop. The red fabric behind the letters is leftover curtain fabric.


See the framed print over the grey sofa? That's the $5 thrift frame with the southwest print. I replaced the print with some fabric. Well actually, that's not the full truth. At first I thought I could replace it with my own painting. Painted at 1AM in between sewing curtains. But when I awoke the next morning, I thought a toddler came into my home and left me a painting. Bad! So then I remembered this fabric. The colors are perfect. It has sort of an Asian monkey theme. I love how large the frame is. Really helps to bring some red over to that side of the room to balance out the giant red furniture.


This is the only thing I am not thrilled with. The chair is not staying. But I ran out of time and budget to find something else. So it's really just a fill in until I find something better. I wanted a bench but didn't find one in my price range. Yet. Oh I am on a roll now and am getting so great at bargain hunting. I will find something great to go there before the semester is over! This is the same window that I indicated the floodwater black curtains above. Big change! Notice how much higher the drapery rods are too. I actually now wish I hung them higher but I hemmed them to length already so for now they are staying put. They are half way in between the ceiling line and the old rods. And I overlapped the drapes by a few inches to help conceal just how low the windows are. Not sure if you can really see all that from this photo.


Once again I forgot to really take a before photo. I had already cleared stuff off here. But you can see all the books and some candles (which they cannot burn so they are decor or as I call them, dust collectors) and collage photo frames (my pet peeve). Ha- and my pink and green Bean bag of course!


The red love seat was in front of a window. The black TV unit blocked the other window. Not to mention the black curtains on the crappy rods that didn't allow for easy open/close. It was a bat cave in there. Oh and let's just go ahead and discuss the red furniture. That was purchased before my time. My dad said it reminded him of (and excuse me if this offends you) whorehouse red. I am not as bothered by the color as I am the style, as it reminds me of sort of a Gothic theme. Either way, not great. But the furniture is in very good condition and is steam cleaned regularly. So they stayed. Remember, I was in a work with what I had mode.


I flipped the red love seat and the red chaise. I painted that table. The chest holding the TV was scavenged from the basement. They never used it. The shelf with the DVD and cable box were there from the fraternity. Ugly. But if I removed them, I would have had huge spots without paint. They became useful in the end anyway. There is a small red step stool that I found in the dollar section of Target so that shorter sisters can actually reach the DVD player. This window with the chaise used to have the love seat directly in front of it, blocking most of the natural light. The other window on the right had the giant black TV center next to it, blocking most of that natural light.


Found this art piece at Big Lots too. It's cheap- the frame is some sort of plastic I think. But unless you touch it, I swear you can't tell. And it does have glass in front so that helps to give it more presence. I just liked the colors and size. That table with the attached lamp was in the house already but it was falling apart and oak. Took it apart, painted it (biggest pain out of all the furniture to paint!) and had my dad put it back together. Again, not a great piece of furniture. But it was a big improvement over it's before. And it fits nicely in that space. There are no ceiling lights in this room so all lighting has to come from the windows and lamps.


This is the stone wall corner before. Actually not really before. I suck at remembering to take before photos. See how the black shelf and the top of the TV entertainment stand are all cleared off? Now try to visualize them packed with tchotckes and papers and who knows what. And take note of the black curtains and how well (laugh) they are hung. Also notice that they are completely different from the black curtains in the other photos. We had three different sets of curtains on these oddly small windows. Two of the sets were highwaters. Bonus!


The red section from behind. I'm not sure if it really comes across as different in these photos but I promise it is!


I could live without these shelves but I know they girls like the idea of having personal photos and whatnot. But I moved them to this corner and edited big time. They include some of the most recent awards, a very few photos, some old trophies that I thought were fun, and other decorative touches. That large red platter is from either Walmart or Target. Less than $20 and adds a nice punch of color against all that dark. I did leave three small things of fake yellow roses. I abhore fake flowers and dead (dried) flowers. But I tried to recognize that I don't actually live in this house. And they like them. So those three bits are my compromise. The silver vase/urn thing is another thrift find. I liked it so much I wanted to keep it for myself.


The star has no special meaning. I just liked the size and price and whimsy. That wall is so dark that it just needed a little light and shine. Though looking at this photo I am not sure I like the color. It might change at some point if I feel so motivated.

The girls won't see it until they move back in tomorrow and I am beyond nervous that they will be up set and hate it. I made this work on a very tight budget that included hiring a guy to help move furniture. I think my dad also spent close to 10 hours helping me. And I spent about 60 hours on everything from sewing to painting (oh my word, I spent about half that time painting!). If they hate it tomorrow, I won't be able to let that roll off my back. I am actually very sensitive (not the best character trait) and will be heartbroken if I spent this much time on something people hate. Cross your fingers!


Preppy Girl Meets World said...

Wow. You sound like advisor of the year here. I know that our tastes often don't match what collegians think makes for good decorating choices, but I think you did a great job!

Buford Betty said...

Good job, girl! You worked your butt off! I hope they love it and appreciate all your hard work!

nomo wino daph said...

You did a great job!!!

I know that's a great feeling:)

Thanks for playing along for Follow Friday!

Ruth said...

I tink it looks great. I hope the girls like it.
I totally understand not liking a paint color and not being able to do a thing. My first 2 years in my sorority the dining room was what we referred to as pepto pink.

Wendy said...

I always forget to take the "before" shots too. With what you had to work with and the budget you had I think it came out fabulously! It's amazing what a can of spray paint can do too.

Erica said...

I really like what you did with the place and on such a tight budget. Nice work! I especially like your new TV area, I can not stand those huge old entertainment centers, they can just look so trashy. What you did with the elevated components and the colonial-esque dresser actually looks very homey and classy.

I'm sure your girls will love your hard work!

Maureen said...

They will love it. You did a TON of work. Looks so great and a katrillion times nicer than any place I ever lived in while a college student.

Pink, Green, and Southern said...

Everything you did looks great! I recently discovered the amazingness that is spray paint. I'm sure your girls are going to be so excited!

Preppy in Pink said...


Cas said...

Holy heck! How did I not know you were an Aplha Gam? I'm a sister : )

xo Cas

Mary T said...

Great job, love it!

Dr. Blondie said...

I LOVE it and bless your heart for spending your time doing this for them.

Anonymous said...

I love this makeover! I think your girls will be incredibly moved by how much effort you put into remaking their space. My humble opinion: it looks fantastic!

Peachy Keen said...

You really stretched the budget! Everything looks fabulous and so different (and better!) than the before shots! Great job!

Michelle said...

I think you did a great job! It is hugely improved!!!

Deviled Megs said...

WOW -- looks amazing. I hope the girls appreciate all of your hard work!!

Deviled Megs said...

WOW -- you did an amazing job, it looks fantastic. I hope the girls appreciate all of your hard work!!

Piper Ellice said...

This looks fabulous! Way to go!!
♥ Piper Ellice


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