before and afterInteriors

Before & After: A 1990s Suburban Home Gets a Colorful Makeover

by Erin Austen Abbott

Stacie and Nathan Bloomfield were just 11 and 12 years old when they met while growing up in Missouri. They began dating in high school and have been together ever since. “We went to a small private school and were a part of the same friend group,” Stacie shares, “My senior year of high school I asked him on a date. I didn’t realize he would fall in love with me! We got married during my junior year of college and we immediately purchased a little cottage to live in. Together we have purchased and sold several houses, although we think we will stay put in this house for the foreseeable future.” They now live just outside of Fayetteville, AR with their three children, ages nine, six, and three.

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Stacie is an illustrator and owner of a stationery and home decor line called Gingiber and Nathan is a math professor turned home software developer. “I have a degree in Graphic Design and Fine Arts from Drury University in Springfield, MO. My entry into small business began with selling art prints on Etsy, but soon my business began to outgrow my dining room table, and somehow I had accidentally fallen into my future career as an illustrator. My husband has a PhD in Mathematics (Algebraic Combinatorics, to be exact). Last year he quit [his] tenure-track professor position and now works as a software developer,” Stacie says.

In the 10 short months since they moved in, they have turned their 4,000-square-foot suburban home in Springdale, AR into an artist’s dream. Each room is more colorful and unique than the last — but it didn’t start out that way. “What sold me on the house was the fact that there were herringbone wood floors in the entryway and in the dining area, and the house did not have an open layout (I am not a fan at all of the trend to have a house feel super open),” Stacie begins. “There was plenty of space for me to have a studio, for my husband to have his own space, and for each of our kids to have their own separate bedrooms. The house is big, so we are still figuring out how to live in it! It was very formal, with lots of honey oak trim and dark 1990s colors, but I knew we would be able to transform it into something light and bright.”

Stacie went into the home renovations with a plan: Start a room and see it through before moving onto the next room. “Having a plan helped me to see each room through to the end without getting too distracted by the next big thing to tackle,” she notes. Doing almost all of the work herself, Stacie spent weekends and evenings sanding, priming, painting, removing wallpaper, hanging art, painting stair rails, changing light fixtures, and so on. “I did some of the wallpaper installation myself, and then I hired a friend to do the entryway and the hall bath. Decorating and transforming this house has become my little stress reliever after I come home from work. It gives me such joy to see my children living in their rooms and appreciating all of the details that I have put into their spaces,” she shares. There are still parts of the home that will change in phase two of the reno, like the main bedroom’s bathroom. “The main bathroom is a maroon dream. 1990s to the max. The tub is large enough that our entire family could sit inside of it. The tub is maroon, the toilet is maroon, and the sinks are maroon. It honestly needs to be fully gutted, so we are saving up for that project.”

Aiming to design a home that felt creative, inspiring, and classic, Stacie worked very hard on having a cohesive color palette that felt unexpected yet harmonious. Stacie shares, “Visually, I love how there are unexpected elements in the house, like a half painted mural in the piano room (that I’ve since decided that I like unfinished) or the animal motif wallpaper in the entryway that feels high-end and not at all childish. I design nursery decor, draw animals, and create patterns for fabric and textiles for a living, and I wanted it to look like the person who runs Gingiber actually lives here.”

Scroll below to see the full transformation. This certainly has opened up my eyes to what is possible in a home you might not be able to envision past the builder-grade materials. —Erin

Photography by Ashley Kamara@geezlouise

Image above: The fireplace, now the focal point of the living room, is painted in Ultra Pure White and Oyster Bay. The painting above is by artist Amber Perrodin

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The outside of the 4,000-square-foot home is Coastal style, which is unusual for Northwest Arkansas.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Stacie, in her piano room, which doubles as her home office.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The foyer before was full of honey oak wood with brown walls. Now, it’s covered in wallpaper and a fresh coat of paint on the woodwork.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

A fun thrifted bench that Stacie painted greets you when you arrive.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Before, the dining room was a mix of navy, patterned wallpaper and honey oak wainscoting. Stacie brought in a large chalkboard that gives her kids a place to be creative and painted the wainscoting navy. Next she stripped the wallpaper and painted the walls white.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Another look at the dining room before and after. The makeover gives the herringbone floors a way to shine.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The pop of mustard from the curtains works to balance the navy and the herringbone floors.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Before, the kitchen was all tan and yellow. With a little paint and updating the hardware, Stacie was able to give it a more modern look.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Another look at the finished kitchen. Phase two includes replacing the countertops and cabinets, but the family is happy with the changes for now.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

With wooden trim and staircase and beige walls before, Stacie continued the navy tones from the dining room and painted the trim Cracked Pepper and the walls Ultra Pure White.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The gallery wall in the living room is a mix of artists — “Sunflower: My Grandmother’s Print, Abstract Print, Golden Days and Picnic in the ParkGirl Print and Landscape Print Block Print and Large Abstract, Large Chamomile Print.”

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

From a solid wooden staircase before to a wallpapered one.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Working with thrifted pieces and a little paint, the living room has become a wonderfully bright space for this family of five.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

This thrifted chair was recovered in buffalo check fabric.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Another corner of the living room.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The once formal dining room — which the family has named the piano room — also serves as Stacie’s home office. She continued the Oyster Bay color from the living room to the wainscoting in this room. Stacie also hand painted the floral design on the wall.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Mixed with thrifted pieces, Stacie blends her own artwork into the room.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

From lots of brown tones to a bright white room, the natural light now pours in.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

A lovely plant sits atop the piano that once belonged to Nathan’s grandmother.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Before, the ceiling was broken up with wood trim to create a layered look. Now it feels seamless with a fresh coat of all white paint.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The piano that once belonged to Nathan’s grandmother now takes center stage, mixed with thrifted pieces, such as the octopus lamp, and art from Lulie Wallace.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The main bedroom was once a dark sage green with dark wood trim. It’s now a bright and inviting space. Art above the bed can be found here.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

A great blend of patterns works so well against a bright white wall.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Stacie gave the wooden built-in bookshelves a makeover by painting them white and lining them with removable wallpaper.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Another look at the updated built-in bookshelves.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Before, the tiles around the fireplace were dated squares, but have since been replaced with white subway tiles.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The bedroom is now a place where Stacie loves to sit and read.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Before, a two-tone green paint job broke up this bathroom, causing it to feel disconnected. Now, with wallpaper (an old design from Anthropologie) and an update to the cabinets, it feels fresh.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

With the wallpaper and painted cabinets, the original floor doesn’t feel like it needs to be updated.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

In their new home, Stacie and Nathan’s two daughters each have their own rooms. This one previously continued the dark tones of brown and sage. Stacie wanted to make each room special for her girls, so she added her own designs into the room. The leaping bunny print is Stacie’s own design for Chasing Paper.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The deer print and wallpaper are Stacie’s own designs. The chair is also her design for Land of Nod.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The angles of the 1990s design made the room dark. Now it’s a place that her daughter loves!

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Stacie used tea towels to create a new focal point to the storage containers, while the dormer works as a perfect spot for the twin bed.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

This is one of the only spots where Stacie kept the wooden built-ins the original honey wood color. With a bright white and floral wall paper, it’s a great room for a girl to go from child to pre-teen.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

A wonderful blend of patterns drastically changed this room. Stacie was able to mix a lot of her own work into the design, too.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

Before, the wall was cut in half with the white ceiling and brown wall. Now the floral wallpaper and the white ceiling seem to elongate the room.

Stacie Bloomfield on Design*Sponge

The unicorn head above the bed — another one of Stacie’s designs — gives a whimsical touch to her daughter’s room.

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  • I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this home! What a dramatic transformation. Who is the artist for the abstract art hanging over the living room fireplace? really fantastic job. alot of sweat and elbow grease went into this.

  • It looks beautiful Stacie! I’ve so enjoyed seeing you work on the house via Instagram, you’ve painted so much and it looks incredible:) Thank you for linking to my artwork too!

  • What an amazing transformation! It is inspiring to see what can be done to dated decor and walls. It feels so fresh now. Stacie definitely has her own style which shines through in all the details.

  • Wow, this house was EAT UP with 90s! What an incredible transformation. I am impressed with not only what they did, but what they didn’t do–way to keep the 90s bones and thoughtfully bring them up to 2018.

  • This is such a fantastic transformation without being a total gut. This truly exemplifies what a difference a coat of paint makes. Really lovely!

  • WOW! This is SO well done. Not for the faint of heart to take on, an NOT for an amateur to try and copy! This type of reno can go so wrong, but this lady has KILLED it. Well done!

  • This is my favorite DS post ever, and I’ve been around A WHILE. I live in suburbia. The chances of me living in a house of this vintage are high to accomodate our lifestyle and needs. I no longer get depressed when I think of it. GAME CHANGER.

  • Thank you for sharing this. Many of us are looking for inspiration for homes built in the past 20 years or so that don’t have the same inherent character as most older homes. I also loved that this home has so much style without feeling “styled” or stripped of the personality and imprint of the family who inhabits it.

  • This is awesome! Such a creative transformation. Amazed by Stacie’s stamina too – so much achieved in such a short time.

  • Carole and Katie P above are right on – I love looking at design sites for inspiration, but I get super depressed thinking about how to update my boxy suburban home with no inherent character. Dreaming about owning a bungalow just makes me unable to move forward with the space we have. This is such a treasure trove of ideas for making a recent-ish build seem personal and unique – no shiplap or shabby chic dressers or “Live Laugh Love” signs to be found (and even making wall-to-wall carpeting work!). Please do more of these! Thank you thank you thank you!

    • Courtney,

      I hear you and Carole and Katie P! My own home is the same way and I also found this to be very inspiring. I’m hearing a lot of you echoing these same sentiments so we’ll make that one of our goals over the next few months – to seek out and feature more homes that have reinvented the feel of their 80s-90s-even early 2000s box. Pulling off a big transformation without tearing down walls is something many folks are looking to do. I think it’s probably applicable to a lot more readers than we know. Thanks for reading :)


  • What a lovely transformation! It doesn’t even seem like the same home! All of the home’s beautiful features (that FLOOR!!!!) are now highlighted and it seems so much lighter and airier. Well done!!

  • Amazing article. You’ve spoiled your readers. I love that the before and after photos are taken from the same perspective or nearly the same perspective.

    I see hundreds of dated homes like this online and I am always wondering how to update them w/out spending mega bucks. Painting the wainscotting blue and the annoying chair rails etc is brilliant. Love the wallpaper staircase. I love that she uses removable wallpaper in places.

    Just really creative and brilliant.

  • So happy to see this transformation. I am in the market for a home and it’s been a revolving door of 90’s style homes similar to this. It’s great to see they have aesthetic potential!

    Now… if anyone knows how to disguise the 90’s tan-ish rose pink painted walls of a 90’s rental, let me know.

  • I totally concur with the above comments. It is one thing to make a beautiful space even more beautiful with finishing touches but so many of us live in relatively recent builds without much architectural interest or character so it is great to see what can be done with paint and a ton of creativity. These are always the most inspiring stories. Well done! Definitely more of these types of stories please.

  • Thank you to everyone that took the time to comment. I’m so glad you loved this home before and after as much as I do! As I was writing it, I just keep thinking about what simple changes I could make in my own home, without tearing anything down. Paint really can go a long way. Stacie really did a beautiful job on her home. Thanks for reading!

  • I absolutely love this. It’s so refreshing to see a house that looks utterly changed without being completely gutted. Sure, it might be nice to tear everything out get all new cabinets… But if the cabinets are in decent condition, it feels so wasteful to send them to the landfill. Bravo for a beautiful transformation that didn’t create a lot of waste! DS, I would love to see more home tours like this.

    And is it just me, or does the “before” part of image 10 feature a portrait of Kevin Bacon?! Lol!

  • My comment is an echo, but your home leaves me feeling hopeful. So much appreciation for the before and after format. You infused so much personality in such a generic space. Your home is radiant!

  • This is great. I love how everything was transformed but nothing was wastefully gutted. I am going to borrow the bed rug styling trick.

  • I rarely take the time to read and “study” these blogs, but this one drew me in. I love the Gingiber animal panel fabrics we have carried at the quilt store/fiber arts store where I work part time. (Hip Stitch in Albuquerque, NM) I have made 2 quilts with Stacie’s cat prints, and just love all of the ones I have seen. Her home re-make is lovely!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Really nice updates, and a great job mitigating all that oak. I especially love the gallery wall under the banister, the daisy print, and the wallpapered built-ins.

  • Lovely transformation. Wondering where the dining table light fixture is from, I love it?