A Maryland Home Full of Deals and DIYs

When you’re a designer and a mom of five, thrifty-chic style rules. This home from HGTV Magazine proves just that.

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

The House

Lots of moms make sacrifices — think time, money and living room decor by Lego. But Saudah Saleem, an interior designer and mother of five, wasn’t going to settle for anything less than fabulousness all around. That’s clear from the yellow door of her 1920s Baltimore, MD, brick row house on in. She and husband Musaa bought the 2,500-square-foot home in 2000. “I was pregnant with our first, and everyone said, ‘What are you going to do with all that space?’ Little did we know!” says Saudah.

The interior was dated, with wallpaper everywhere and carpet in a pea green shade. Yet Saudah was drawn to the home’s original oak floors, moldings and tin ceilings. No reno’ing was necessary — just Saudah’s ingenuity. As the years passed, she decorated the rooms one by one with classic pieces in keeping with the home’s age, layered with modern global designs and lots of color. She’d always been a bargain-hunting, hands-on designer who wasn’t beyond reupholstering a chair for a client, but she morphed into a master of IKEA hacks, Craigslist revivals and genius DIYs. The result is a home that’s as fun as her family. “It took legwork and creativity to get the looks I wanted on a budget,” says Saudah, “but I wasn’t going to give up on style!”

The Family

The Saleem family, from left: Saleh, 14; Saudah with Samori, 5; Musaa with Zaria, 3; Sajayah, 11; and Jasirah, 17.

Dining Room

Like the rest of the house, it’s a combo of function and flair. Saudah painted a vintage oak pedestal table black, surrounding it with clear acrylic chairs “the kids can’t destroy” and $50 upholstered ones from a thrift store, redone in fabric by Genevieve Gorder. She transformed IKEA bookcases into substantial cabinets with paint, molding, glass shelves and new knobs.

Living Room

The older Saleem children often read here while the younger ones do puzzles. Since it’s also for company, though, Saudah wanted it comfy and impressive. “The room’s on the narrow side — I painted stripes and got mirrors to make it seem wider,” she says. She bought the chenille sofa at a local store. At $1,100 it wasn’t supercheap, but its timelessness has paid off: “Twelve years later, the high back and delicate legs still look great,” she says. A blend of metals merges traditional with modern: The $45 brass coffee table from an estate sale looks right at home with silver-painted étagères scored for $50 each on sale at Pier 1 Imports.

Master Bedroom

For a well-deserved escape, Saudah started with soothing grays, painting the wall behind the bed a deep, moody hue (try Falcon Gray by Behr) and complementing it with sheer curtains in a lighter shade. The feather piece above the bed is a Central African juju hat, like ones worn by royalty during ceremonies, which she purchased from the Instagram boutique Hoardaculture. As for the faux headboard, “at first I was indecisive about what kind to get,” Saudah says. “A painted one was supposed to be an interim thing, but I like it so much, it’s for life.” The duvet and shams are from Crane & Canopy.

Samori and Saleh’s Bedroom

Designing a room for boys who are nine years apart? No problem. Getting Samori to accept his big brother’s later bedtime? “That’s been the bigger challenge,” says Saudah, laughing. For a classic-cool vibe, she painted the room and bunk beds retro-ish colors and chose vintage accents — an old campaign desk painted Sunrise Red by Rust-Oleum and race car prints from allposters.com. The rug is from overstock.com.

Jasirah and Sajayah’s Bedroom

The centerpiece of the room, an armoire that’s 6 feet tall, is as practical as it is striking. “The girls each have a distinct side of the room — especially important when it’s time to clean up!” says Saudah. She painted the piece Black Beauty by Benjamin Moore and framed it with a pair of quatrefoil mirrors from Lowe’s. Perky pillows and prints add personality, including customized silhouettes beside the beds from the Etsy shop Soapbox Theory.

Zaria’s Bedroom

The entire Saleem brood has passed through this nursery, so Saudah has stuck with a neutral scheme, swapping art and rugs in and out. She paired the wall’s white and tan stripes with simple sconces from Pottery Barn Kids, then mixed in patterns with a blue cherry blossom print above the crib (from allposters.com) and a fuchsia-based rug from rugsusa.com. Zaria’s cute coats double as changeable wall art.


Bright colors (and Samori’s smile) light up the entryway. The mirror is one eye-catching antique: $200 at an estate sale. Sunny paint revived the wrought iron umbrella stand.

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