A Virginia Home That Expertly Mixes High and Low

This Virginia homeowner has a sharp eye for a few splurges with a lot of saves.

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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

When Jenny Foley and her husband, Jay, walked into the 2,200-square-foot house in Richmond, VA, that they would eventually buy, there was no doubt about it: This was an honest-to-goodness fixer upper. “Let’s see, the kitchen had teal cabinets and floor-to-ceiling tile, the dining room had maroon and mustard sponge-painted walls and the bathrooms hadn’t been updated since the ’50s,” says Jenny. “Ugly doesn’t begin to describe it.”

Still, she and Jay saw gobs of potential in the 1925 home with original oak floors, a spacious foyer and a sunroom. And — most important — they could afford it! Twelve years, two remodels and two kids later, Jenny’s clever decorating style is on full display. Her credo? Mix a few high-end buys with a mash-up of hand-me-downs, flea market finds and great-looking bargains. “I look at decorating a home the same way I do shopping for clothes,” she says. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money. Pair your nice things with some vintage pieces and steals, and you can make a whole room look more expensive than it is.” 


Jenny got this wingback chair for $25 at a thrift store, then painted the legs grayish white and had it reupholstered in tone-on-tone zebra fabric. A pedestal table with a beveled top, bought at a local store, sits on a cowhide rug from World Market. The crystal teardrop chandelier is a beloved hand-me-down from her husband’s grandma.  

Living Room

Jenny’s biggest challenge was making sure the living room looked polished while still being indestructible. “We do everything in here: watch TV, play games and entertain,” she says. The white slipcovered sofa that the couple bought when they moved in has stood the test of time “thanks to a lot of bleach.” And Jenny admits it wouldn’t be the end of the world if hot chocolate hit the blue slipper chairs from World Market, bought for less than $200 each. The glass-and-brass-finish coffee table is a relatively new addition to the room. “Once my son turned 5, we got rid of a clunky ottoman and upgraded to a table with hard edges,” she says. The pale-blue-and-white wool rug is from Lulu & Georgia.

Dining Nook

Before the Foleys reno’ed their kitchen in 2009, this space had floor-to-ceiling green-and-white tiles. To save money, Jay built the table and storage benches himself. Then Jenny chose wipeable gold-flecked aqua vinyl for the cushion covers and hung art made by a preschool-age Brooks on the wall. The black-and-white-striped pendant is by Stray Dog Designs, and the indigo-print pillows are from Pine Cone Hill.


Living with the dark and dated kitchen for four years was enough time for Jenny to have a clear vision of what she eventually wanted: white, white and more white! A local cabinetmaker built the Shaker-style cabinets, and Jenny paired them with Carrara marble counters. “Marble was a splurge, but we’d waited a long time for this kitchen — and I wanted what I wanted,” Jenny says. The real steal in here is the apron-front sink that she found deeply discounted at a charity store in town. “Someone got rid of it because it had a little nick on the corner,” she says. “You can barely even see it!” The lemon-and-aqua rug is from Loloi.

Dining Room

This space has gone through more transformations than any other room in the house. “It’s been seafoam green, then hot pink and now it’s painted this pretty taupe [Ashley Gray by Benjamin Moore],” says Jenny. The dining set, which sits on a Madeline Weinrib rug, was inherited from Jenny’s grandmother. To update it, the Foleys gave the set the full DIY treatment, painting the chair frames and the table legs white, and the tabletop dark gray. Jenny had the chairs upholstered (they used to have caned backs) in two fabrics. The abstract paintings are from local artist Claiborne Riley.

Claire's Room

“Claire is just starting to have an opinion about what she likes and doesn’t like, so putting this space together wasn’t exactly effortless,” says Jenny. What she and her 11-year-old could agree on: poppy colors and lots of patterns. Pale pink walls (Soft White by Benjamin Moore) are the backdrop for an every-color-of-the-rainbow duvet and sham set from PBteen. Jenny and Claire scored the shiny coral bedside table at a local thrift store. “We didn’t even have to paint it!” Jenny says. The aqua-and-cream rug is from Jaipur Living, and the flowery pendant light is from IKEA.


This room doesn’t have air-conditioning or heat, but it’s still hands down Jenny’s favorite in the house. “I basically live out here in the spring and fall,” she says. “Put a bed in and I’d never leave.” Jenny filled the room with pieces she’s had for years: old Martha Stewart for Kmart wicker chairs and cushions, and X-benches from Target. She bought the acrylic console a few years ago to complete the look. “I like that it doesn’t block the view of the rosebushes outside,” she says.

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