Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt

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Floral designer and prop stylist Frances Harjeet isn’t afraid to use a little – or a lot – of color in her decorating. This small apartment in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, CO features tons of her signature saturated blues, which we couldn’t get enough of in A Victorian Home With Countless Treasures. Spending less than $8,000 on a revamp consisting of new paint, hardware, furniture, and finishing touches, Frances had a blast getting crafty while making the space feel fully styled. “It was an excuse to do some epic thrifting and Craiglisting,” she says. “I love to treasure hunt, and this project gave me a good reason to scout all around town for fun and affordable pieces.”

The 1912 Italianate building with interior Craftsman detailing gave Frances the perfect jumping-off point for composing an eclectic mix of the things she covets. Wanting to create an inspired and relaxing space with boho touches, Frances found opportunities around the home to showcase the character and cultural offerings unique to Denver. Playing cards, coloring books, and board games in the apartment offer some homeward-bound diversion, while lots of magazines for reading on a comfy velvet loveseat make spending time indoors refreshing. Just three blocks away from an art museum, the apartment pays its respects with handmade touches and art books scattered about, too. Frances welcomes guests with open arms, and is happy to see them enjoy the made-over pad just as much as they enjoy exploring her beloved home town. —Annie

Photography by Tara Bielecki

  1. Kate says:

    Wow. I’m crazy about some of those paint colors, particularly changing the fireplace tile green and, oddly enough, that turquoise-legged table!

  2. I love that chaise, that’s pretty awesome that it was free even if you had to reupholster it.

  3. Emmy says:

    Love the dramatic drapes and peach loveseat!

  4. georgia says:

    Not quite a before and after. Is it?

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      Our readers ask for a wide range of before & afters, from total gut renovations to small changes that make a big difference. This falls into the second category and it’s important to include things like this, as not all of us have the budget and resources for a total overhaul. Sometimes a nice coat of paint and subtle changes can feel more relatable.


      1. georgia says:

        You’re right about that. :)

  5. Cat says:

    Fun! It would be interesting to see a breakdown of budget. I do wish those curtains had been hung “high and wide”–it would make the rooms look more spacious, and the other advantage of which is that you don’t make holes in your unpainted woodwork…

  6. Dominique says:

    What an impressive job on a budget! I always yearn for a pulled-together home, but find that hunted pieces usually make a house homier anyway. Thanks for the reminder that a small budget and the thrill of the hunt can be equally as satisfying.

  7. Sarah H says:

    Really fun colors! And how lovely to have a tapestry woven by your great great grandmother. Love the velvet, too. And not too much stuff! Not at all minimal, but also not maxed out. You’ve turned a bare bones space into a home that is colorful yet restrained. Nice job.

  8. C A says:

    Being a Denverite myself, what fun it is to see a Capitol Hill apartment on D*S*! Living in Capitol Hill is a rite-of-passage for many a Denver adult. What memories…

    Great job of making it ‘yours’ on a small budget!

    And I do like seeing smaller reno’s that make a big difference. Not everyone can afford / needs / wants to do a huge gut job. And they’re great inspiration.

  9. Benji says:

    I am a long time fan of this blog but can you please return to featuring “after” looks that do not look all the same; white walls, kooky plants and thrift store chic? Surely there must be other types of interiors that we can oogle and learn from. Thanks!

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      We do our best to provide a range style of makeover styles, but it’s hard to fight what is most definitely a prevailing aesthetic right now (clean white walls, plants, vintage, etc.). We’re rapidly expanding our reach for makeover requests so try to find projects with more color, pattern, etc. But people really do love that particular look right now…


  10. Mary says:

    Fun article! I love the idea of an inexpensive and earth friendly redo. But not sure about painting the fireplace tiles. Lovely and unique before, now smothered and dark.


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