before and after

A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX

by Annie Werbler

“The biggest challenge with an older home is the unexpected discoveries that complicate and delay a project’s timeline,” explains homeowner Lauren Daniel, summing up the lessons learned from every renovation project ever. She would know, because along with husband Chase, she just finished a six-month renovation of their first home in Austin, TX — which was built in 1960 and not updated since. They purchased with the intention of doing a complete cosmetic overhaul, but ended up fixing much more. A cramped bathroom, awkward built-in garage, and inefficient 1,200-square-foot layout needed to go. Two layers of flooring under the carpet had to come up, some of the main bathroom’s studs were rotted through, and old wallpaper that had been painted over several years ago bubbled and flaked.

The Daniels both enjoy a modern minimalist look that still feels warm and inviting, but the original state of the home was anything but. Chase, an architectural project designer and freelance photographer specializing in travel, commercial, and architectural work has a strong aesthetic point of view. Lauren also works in the design field as a manager of marketing and graphic design at an ethical fashion brand in town, so she contributed to the look of the interiors as well. Within their new white space they incorporated lots of antique and homemade furniture, plus cozy hardwood flooring throughout.

Because they did the renovation themselves, the couple worked on the house after nine-hour days at the office and every single weekend. From the vintage clawfoot tub Chase restored, to the 100-year-old barnwood kitchen backsplash Lauren nailed into place, to the invasion of carpenter ants upon replacing a sliding glass door, “Every piece of our home has a story, which is all we could ask for.” The couple solved each piece of the puzzle themselves — along with some friends and family — and are most thankful for the hands that came out and helped. They scraped tile, taped and floated drywall, sanded wood finishes, painted walls, helped to lay floors, and installed fixtures. “I love that our house was put together with help from the people we love,” Lauren concludes. “It makes it a home.” —Annie

Photography by Chase Daniel

A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
The previously-outdated kitchen felt closed-in to the homeowners, so they removed some of the upper cabinets around the sink and painted the remaining pieces bright white. All the faux wood laminate was replaced by white marbled quartz countertops and the couple's favorite -- the 100-year-old barnwood backsplash.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
The garden window makes for an inviting spot in the kitchen, courtesy of the home's original owner, who loved plants. "I simply cleaned it and painted it white to make it pop," Lauren explains.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
The wrap-around counter and open shelving wall increase the utility of the small U-shaped kitchen. The homeowners use it as a perfect little coffee bar and storage space. Salvaged aged pine lumber complements the barnwood backsplash.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
From the dining room, the addition of a kitchen pantry and the removal of the living room wall significantly impact the space.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
The classic and simple dining room required a compromise between Lauren and Chase. "We finally decided on this gorgeous brass piece by West Elm. Our favorite part of this lighting is the hand-blown glass, it has bubbles and texture making it feel really custom and handmade," she says.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
In the living room, a back wall and hall closet were removed to open up the space. Chase and Lauren love the nook they carved out for the comfortable vintage leather chair by Swedish designer Gote Mobler, which they found at a local store.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
The living room is mostly filled with Craigslist and thrift finds, but they did source some special pieces like the brass wallhanging by Electric Sun Creatives. Chase built the live-edge tables in the house. "We get so many compliments on them, I love telling people they are handmade!," Lauren says.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
This living room credenza was originally an estate sale find. "We have really tried to acquire unique pieces so that home is filled with stories, not just mass-produced items," Lauren shares. The 1970 Pioneer record player was also thrifted for a song.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
The media room of the home's main living space was previously an awkward built-in garage before. The homeowners opened up the interior wall and divided the large space with another wall (on the other side is a second bathroom and laundry room). The step down is trimmed in a blackened steel plate for a unique accent.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
Texas flag by Wild Standard. Another of Chase's handmade live-edge tables relates the decor back to the main living room.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
The modestly-sized master bedroom serves Lauren and Chase's needs well. The only thing they'd change is enlarging the window overlooking their green backyard.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
One of the biggest changes in the house, the main bathroom had its original pink tile and leaky fixtures removed. A freestanding tub and floating vanity open up the tight space and make it feel bigger.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
Lauren wanted to convert one of the home's two showers into a bathtub, so she and Chase decided to track down a vintage clawfoot tub for this spot. Turns out the average model measures five feet in length, which the niche couldn't clear. After some research, they found this tub that required some refinishing but fit the space perfectly.
A DIY Interior Overhaul in Austin, TX, on Design*Sponge
Lauren and Chase wanted a pop of color in the main bathroom, and devised this tri-color Fireclay Tile scheme for the room. "The tile tones are muted but add the perfect touch of color with white," Lauren adds, "Tying together the floor tile, built-ins, and vanity."

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  • Love everything- especially the barn wood backsplash. Would love to hear from the owner how they did this.

    • Heidi,

      Thanks so much! For the backsplash we bought old barnwood, then ripped each piece to 3.5″ to have an even installation, then scraped the boards with a wire brush to clear with debris. Once that was done, all we used was liquid nails (can be found at lowes or home depot in a caulk tube) and a finish nail gun to secure to the wall. We applied it over the existing sheet rock.

  • Fantastic renovation! I love that wood backsplash in the white kitchen. Just wonderful. Every room is amazing, but the kitchen probably wins for worst to best.

  • Sublime makeover! Just spare enough to feel clean yet cozy. The live-edge tables made by the owner are gorgeous.

    Love this line from one caption, unintentional pun or not: “The 1970 Pioneer record player was also thrifted for a song.”

  • I am so appreciative of stories about little houses because that is the kind of house I am always buying. It is great to get the long view from the living room to the dining room too. I might not have thought to open it up that much but it was certainly the way to go.

  • It’s so impressive that a professional didn’t do this reno! My favorite is that bathroom–gorgeous. I’m sure there were days you wanted to throw in the towel; it really paid off. You have a beautiful place.

  • Chase and Lauren – love everything you’ve done here. I would love to know where you found the sectional sofa in your media room, if you wouldn’t mind sharing!

    • Kate,

      Thanks for the kind words! The sectional sofa we found on craigslist actually. I believe its an ikea sofa though, so I’m sure if you did a quick search you could find it. Hope that helps!

  • I like the look of the tub in the bathroom with the shower head and faucet in the wall, but I wonder if the backsplash while showering makes a big mess along that wall and under the tub?

    • Elle,

      Great question. The curtain rod wraps around the entire tub with two supports from the ceiling. We used two standard shower curtains that wrap each side of the rod until they hit the ceiling support. So there is actually little to no gap in the curtain when showering, so all the water is contained :)

  • It is stunning but this couple lives in a hot climate fans are a wonderful relief from humidity and heat. We just put in modern big fans saves on airconditioning.

    • Erin, our dining room table is from West Elm! (We got it at an outlet in San Marcos, but I believe it is still also available full price through their website.

  • Incredible job! Everything looks so bright and inviting and I love the simple, yet beautiful aesthetic! Definitely a well deserved round of applause Chase and Lauren!!

  • Love this! Definitely going to draw inspiration for my current renovation. Where did you source the double vanity for the bathroom. It’s the perfect size for a petite space :)

  • Love the coffee art — the right one looks like a Chemex. My hubby would love that. Where can I get one??

  • Love the light fixtures in the kitchen – – the trio above the kitchen table as well as the one over the sink – where did you source those?