before and after

The Little NoPo Farmhouse Makeover

by Grace Bonney

One of the things I most admire in people is the ability to see beyond what’s directly in front of them. When it comes to home design and renovation, it’s a valuable skill to have and it can lead to not only savings and real deals in real estate, but it can really open the door to great creativity and the possibility for a space that truly reflects the people living inside.

Andrea Selkregg, a lawyer, and her husband Malcolm, a graphic designer, recently moved back to Andrea’s hometown of Portland after they realized that their growing family would get more space and house for their money up north than in their adopted hometown of Los Angeles. So they packed up, met with a realtor and looked at house after house until they stumbled upon this 100-year-old farmhouse. It had been on the market for months and viewed by over 50 people, all of whom deemed it a “tear-down.” But Andrea and Malcolm were up for the challenge and excited for the opportunity to make a space entirely their own. Through smart space planning and a liberal use of white paint (always great for making rooms feel bigger), their 960-square-foot home now feels like an airy oasis. I’m blown away that they made all of these renovations between October 20th of 2014 and right now, but they lucked out by having a contractor in the family who could help them navigate the process and speed things along. Andrea and Malcolm still have plans to work on the home some more (they want to open up and raise the ceilings), but for now, they’re so happy to live in their own little historic farmhouse. They put together this makeover to share with Malcolm’s family in Hawaii and I’m so glad they were open to sharing it with us today. This house really made me smile and I’m so happy to see how much love went into this one space. xo, grace

Andrea's North Portland home kitchen, before & after. Click through for the full renovation story...
The exterior before.
The exterior, after. New paint, a new porch light and some fresh landscaping give this old farmhouse a fresh and welcoming feel.
The living room/entryway before, facing the front porch.
The living room/entryway before, facing the kitchen.
The kitchen, before.
During renovation, the floors and walls were removed to widen the space.
After the walls were bumped open, the floors were painted white and the new kitchen cabinets, windows and lighting were added in.
The kitchen, after! This view faces the living room/entryway.
The dining area, between the living room and kitchen. I love the black window frames!
The view from the kitchen to the living room. I love all the black paint accents, from the front door paneling to the drawer handles.
The kitchen is now brighter and more modern, but the traditional red patterned rug brings some much needed contrast and warmth to the room.
The view from the renovated living room into the kitchen.
The front door even got a little black & white detailing with a fresh layer of black paint around the door paneling. Details like this always make me smile.
The bathroom, before.
The bathroom, after! More storage was added for more functionality and less clutter.
The bathroom also got a new curtain and a cute wooden stool for candles, plants or books.
The bathroom has an interior door that leads to the back porch...
This was the back porch before...
This is the back porch now! The combination of a fresh coat of glossy white paint (everywhere) and the black lighting and window molding makes the space feel brand new. But all the wall paneling and the more traditional rug bring the room back into a more traditional space so it doesn't feel cold or too minimal.
The bench/seating area on the porch.
The porch's entryway.
The master bedroom before. Those walls are in major need of some TLC.
The bedroom, after!
White walls and warm red rugs (this house's rug game is seriously on-point) throughout the home really make each space feel inviting and connected to the overall house.
I love the interior windows in the bedroom!

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  • Andrea I love your home – it’s wonderful! Could you share where you got the lights above your bed? thank you!!

  • I have an old farmhouse in North Portland too! Same house numbers (different house though). Great job you two.

  • I’m so happy and excited for you guys! I knew it would look awesome. I always thought Andrea had great taste. Love the coffee table, Very you.

  • I lived in Portland for 18 years, and North Portland is indeed referred to as NoPo (just like Portland itself has many nicknames such as Stumptown, P-town, and PDX).

  • I’m over here starting a slow clap if anyone else wants to join in…

    Absolutely beautiful house. Maybe even my favorite makeover. Feeling inspired. :)

  • Love it! Just goes to show that living in style does not necessarily mean the space has to be large. I wouldn’t change a thing here.

  • I really love the B&W details of this house. The white floors are so pretty. I wonder if they are hard to keep clean. Any idea where the bench on the back porch comes from? :)

  • This is the first before & after that I thought “These people are geniuses!” and kept nodding my head excitedly as I clicked through each image. So wonderful!

  • This is my first time commenting on a blog ever, but I couldn’t resist. I love, love, love this house. My husband and I just closed on a teeny tiny condo and this has given me faith that our small space can be both beautiful and functional. Andrea, what did you use for the headboard of your bed?

  • Rebecca M,

    The bench was a craigslist find here in Portland. The owner said it was vintage but had little other information. Sorry I can’t be more help.

  • Kay & Lulu,

    The floors were not original to the house. In fact, the house didn’t really have any floors at all! It had one layer of wood flooring that we have to assume was the sub-floor since you could see straight through to the basement between the planks.

    We knew we wanted white painted floors (it’s one of my favorite Fench Farmhouse looks) so it gave us the ability to buy inexpensive wood with flaws. We bought 7 inch English pine planks from lumber liquidators. I think the total price for all of the wood throughout the entire house was about $1200. My brother installed them with a hardwood floor nailer and we used two screws at the end of each plank to give it the “rustic” look I was going for. After that we covered it in Behr Nude White.

    My husband is from Hawaii so we have always lived in a “no shoes” house. This means the floors rarely need cleaning! Also the more scuffed up it gets the better it looks (in my opinion) because it looks “worn in”. The best part is that if you get a major scuff or stain, you just paint right over it!

  • Annabelle,

    We removed each widow by pulling out the wood moulding holding into place (very carefully so we could preserve it) and removing the sash rope. Once removed it is really easy to get into the window well to paint and its a great opportunity to clean the class really well and paint the removed window. It’s time consuming for sure but the cost is whatever you spend on paint.

  • I find it amusing that people feel the need to point out the smallest little mishaps that are not the point of the article at all and make a mountain out of a molehill. Grace, you are an inspiration with how calmly you respond…

    Anyhow, this home is absolutely gorgeous. Living in Portland, OR and currently in the market to buy a home myself, this definitely gives me hope I can also find a fixer and make it shine. I am absolutely drooling over the painted wood floors, butcher block counter tops and farm sink. Love love love!

    I have a question for Andrea- would you mind passing along the info of your contractor? If I read your blog right, you said it was your brother… any chance he would be available for any future work? I’m collecting as many names and referrals as possible! Thanks!

  • What an inspiring story! Every square inch of this home is a delight. Andrea, can you elaborate a little more on using eBay to find rugs? I’m outfitting a new apartment right now and am searching for rugs very similar to those featured in this home, but the number of options is overwhelming. What phrase do you use to search rugs on eBay? Traditional Rugs? Persian Rugs? Vintage Rugs? Hoping to narrow down the results to be more like those shown here. Thanks!

  • I think it was Elsie de Wolf who said something like – ‘no house is so bad that it cannot be made good’. This little house is just great, so inspiring!

  • Absolutely love this one! We’re looking into buying a fixer upper here in Portland as well, most labeled as “tear downs” but I always see the potential of a house, especially when it’s over 50+ old. I’m so glad they renovated this sweet house rather than tear it down! And those rugs are soooo good.

  • Kylie,

    I can’t wait to see your before and afters too! My brother was indeed our contractor. He had his own renovation business for a while but has since left to become an electrician.

  • Lindsay,

    Searching for rugs on ebay can be so overwhelming. I really have to be in the mood to do it. I usually start by searching “persian” and “turkish” in the “vintage” category. Then I narrow it down on what I am willing to pay. The prices are all over the place but why waster your screen space with rugs that $6000 when you only have $600 to spend right? Then I usually have specific colors that I am looking for I scroll through really quickly until the color I want pops up. I hope that helps!

  • I’m confused. This house was for sale around a year ago. I peered in the windows and it was remodeled but vacant.

  • Andrea, nice work! I need that white bench on your enclosed back porch. Please, do tell me where you got it!

  • Such a beautiful home. I agree with previous comments in that the rugs help make the space! Andrea, what size is the rug in your kitchen? Looking at getting a rug for my kitchen and that seems like the perfect size and colors.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Oh, I forgot to ask where Andrea’s lovely stools are from? I have 2 little munchkins and those stools are so cute.

  • Courtney,

    The white bench on the enclosed porch is a Craig’s List find. The owner did not have munch information for me. He just said it was “vintage”. When I bought it it had a blue vinyl seat cushion but I had it recovered in black linen.

    • Hello Joyelle. I got my bedroom quilt from overstock. It is the same as the rusched quilt from West Elm only about $100 cheaper!

  • Hi Andrea. I know I’m a little tardy to the party :) , but if you still have access to these comments, I’d love to know more about your kitchen counter-tops and sink. My husband and I are buying our first home and I’ve been going through some of my favorite DS bookmarks. Yours is truly one of my favorites. You’ve been so generous with sharing your resources in the comments…am hoping you’ll see mine. Thanks so much in advance. Kindly, Robyn

    • Hello Robyn. We got our sink and counter-tops at IKEA. My brother and his wife just bought a house and got the same sink and counter-tops so I am pretty sure they are both still available. Good luck on your kitchen re-do!

  • Hi there,
    What a wonderful transformation! And all done with a toddler at your heels! Thanks for sharing this, it has given me a few ideas on our still-under-progress-renovations. You may like to check out my story over the other side of the world in New Zealand.

  • Hi ! I love your home. I just moved into a farmhouse myself in the East coast Portland area and there is much work to be done. Can you tell me where you got your bed frame? Love the simplicity. Thank you!

    • Thank you. We actually made the bed frame. I couldn’t find anything I liked in my price range so we made it ourselves. We made a simple slate frame with left over hardwood floors. If you go to our blog: http://littlenopofarmhouse.blogspot.com/
      there is a photo of the bed while we were making it that shows how easy it is to do. Good luck!

  • Have you given the source of where you got your bed frame and duvet cover from? I tried looking through the comments but may have missed it since theres so many. I love it! Exactly what Ive been looking for. Any help would be great!

    • Hello Dana. If you look at my response to the comment above I provide the same information about the bed. It was a DIY and took maybe an hour to complete. Thanks!

  • Hello again! I have another question, in addition to my one above. :) I’ve been searching for a globe pendant like the one you have above your kitchen sink and I’ve found single ones, but not three together like yours, which I LOVE. Would love your source. Thanks so much in advance!

  • I ordered it from a manufacturer out of China through aliexpress.com. I just went and looked up the old order and the manufacturer is no longer selling. However, if you search aliexpress for “globe pendant” there are plenty of sellers out there. I didn’t search through to see if any offer the three pendant version but most of them have the same products so I bet it wouldn’t be too hard to find.

    • Thank you so much for your response, Andrea. I truly appreciate it. I will certainly check this out. Ugh, I hate to bother you again, but may I ask you also about my first question above? Have been going nuts researching butcherblock countertops and love the look of yours. Am wondering what type of wood they are and how thick they are? IKEA’s real wood butcherblock is only 1 and 1/8 inch. Doesn’t seem very thick…and trying to guess how thick yours are and it’s hard to tell. MANY, MANY thanks for your time! :)

  • This is a beautiful home. I am getting ready to paint my home’s exterior and I love how yours turned out. Would you mind sharing the white and black you used? Thank you!

    • Hello Sarah. Thank you. We have not gotten around to painting the white yet so it is the same paint that came with the house. Sorry. The black however I remember is called “caviar” and I believe it is from Sherwin Williams. Sorry I couldn’t be more help on this one.

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