before and after

Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt

by Annie Werbler

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

Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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The main room in Frances Harjeet's Capitol Hill, Denver rental apartment overlooks a courtyard which lets in tons of bright light.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
2/18
A green velvet chair from Art District Antiques is fitted with a Mexican otomi pillow sourced on Bezar. The curtains were on clearance at Pier 1, while the pouf and side table are by World Market.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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A collection of earthy details in saturated colors is Frances' signature decorating look.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
4/18
A free Craigsilst chaise was made more costly with an upscale reupholstery job. Frances loves the vintage globe, which a passerby tried to purchase from her as she was moving it from the street into the apartment.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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A cozy moment on the tufted loveseat with Anthropologie and World Market throw pillows.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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Behind the living room, a bedroom is given privacy through glass doors with curtains made from an old tapestry woven by Frances' great great grandmother.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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Anthropologie bedding inspired the deep blue paintcolor - Benjamin Moore "Old Navy."
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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Many online and thrifted finds complete the living room scene, with a woven multipurpose bench coffee table from the Mid Mod Mall in Denver.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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Frances wasn't keen on the original state of the mantelpiece tiles, citing an out-of-place knight and castle upon close inspection. She painted the tiles with some leftover green paint from a past project to mask the unusual symbols.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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Vintage books and marble bookends over the fireplace hail from a Denver antique shop.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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The dining table is at least 75 years old, and found its way to Denver from a furniture manufacturer in Pennsylvania. When Frances found it on Craiglist, the past owner had already painted its legs turquoise.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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Indian brass decorative pieces come from a trip to the Import Market in Missoula, MT.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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In the kitchen, cabinets are painted a cheery green.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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The front hall features a Persian runner from hygge life at the Denver Flea.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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The office walls are covered in another saturated blue, this time Benjamin Moore "Blue Daisy."
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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A real old school desk comes from the local shop Art District Antiques.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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The top of this thrifted cabinet was in bad condition, so Frances made it pretty with a Guatemalan embroidered tapestry. The Denver Scout guide has proven a valuable resource for guests.
Before & After: A Fun and Affordable Treasure Hunt, on Design*Sponge
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Reproduction vintage bug prints and a fancy oakwood plant stand create an intriguing library feel in the small room.

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Comments

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

    • Georgia

      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.

      Grace

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Benji

      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…

      Grace

  • 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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