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before and after

before & after: budget-friendly apartment redo

by Kate Pruitt


It’s been a while since I’ve lived in a space like this one, but it just takes one glimpse of this “before” image to remember all the decorating challenges that accompany a small city apartment. Niamh of Seek Design managed to inject this space with cheer and energy by adding the right colors and patterns and refreshing pieces that the client already owned. Wonderful work, Niamh! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: 2 weeks

Cost: €9,000. This excluded a sofa and chair the client already had and wanted to reuse. It included repainting the entire apartment walls and doors, repainting some of the furniture, repainting the bathroom and kitchen wall tiles, new appliances, repainting the kitchen cupboards, new flooring in the living room and hall, new furniture, soft furnishings, new fitted storage, new bathroom suite, new blinds, new curtains and labour throughout.

Basic Steps: The brief for this artist’s city apartment was to design a clean, simple interior, which would allow the artist to display her art and inspiring collection of unique objects gathered over the years. When the client approached us, she was afraid her limited budget would mean she wouldn’t be able to do much. To keep costs to a minimum, we sourced vintage furniture pieces and repainted furniture sourced at flea markets and auctions.

The biggest investment in this design was good quality floor tiles and wooden flooring. To save costs, the existing bathroom and kitchen wall tiles were painted with Ronseal white tile paint. For the living room, we sourced a secondhand table and chairs at a flea market, which were then repainted. We considered getting a budget kitchen fitted at a cost of €3000, but we decided we’d paint the kitchen units and replace the handles instead. We fitted new open shelving to house additional dry food items, which means the small kitchen isn’t crowded with bulky kitchen units that can make a small kitchen look even smaller.

If you like the form and shape of a piece of furniture but you don’t like the color or finish on it, repaint it! Spray painting gives a better finish but make sure to do this work outdoors. Don’t under estimate the power of painting something. It can change it more than you ever imagined. Replacing handles on furniture also modernizes it.

If the space is small, choose neutral, light colors for the walls to make it appear brighter and larger. Use accessories you love and that inspire you, and keep an eye out for vintage furniture pieces you can use. Looking for vintage furniture is a long but enjoyable process, and it makes your interior unique.

Fitted shelves are a great and lasting way to utilize an unused space and mean the rest of the living area can remain clutter free. Shelves designed to fit a specific area also mean you are getting the best out of that space. Getting shelves and units made from MDF and fitted generally cost approximately €300–€500 more than buying shelves, but you will have them for life.

Lastly, managing your contractors well is key. Be very clear about how you want finished joinery or painted items to look. We put CAD line drawings together so the end result is set in stone and we don’t get any surprises. If you’re on a strict budget, get the basics right. Good quality flooring, tiling and a good finish on the walls are key; the rest will follow. — Niamh

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