How to Transform a Fixer-Upper

Just call Lindsey and Grayson Cheek Mr. and Mrs. DIY! They painted, tiled, woodworked and decorated their first home all while staying within budget. HGTV Magazine gives you a tour of their made-over home.
By: Jennifer Berno DeCleene

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

Meet the Owners

Lindsey Cheek, co-owner of Poplin & Queen Interiors and a blogger at Fifi Cheek, and Grayson Cheek, an attorney, say their 1917 cottage in Wilmington, N.C., was the last "bad" house on a great block. They bought the home, which they now share with their daughter, Tilley-Gray, in 2009, right after a couple of local contractors got it into "selling shape." Their nesting budget was tight at the time, but there was still a ton of work they wanted to do.

A Labor of Love

Over the next three years, they became experts at home improvement projects. They hired pros for the work that was beyond their skill set and found many ways to economize, like painting the whole house themselves, using inexpensive materials where they could, snagging stuff at thrift stores and even rescuing a sofa from the dump. "We've invested lots of time in the house, but we saved lots of money, too," says Lindsey. "Nothing was immediate, but we appreciate everything more because we did it ourselves."

Living Room

Grayson teamed up with Lindsey's grandfather Roger, an architect and furniture designer, to build bookshelves as a weekend project. "It's the heart of the room," says Lindsey. Grayson wired industrial-style lamps across the top of the bookcase, which the couple bought on a pre-baby trip to Paris. Grayson found the sofa at the dump and they saved for a year before having it refinished and re-covered in white leather. They found the armchair and X-base stools at a local thrift shop and had those re-covered.

Personal Touches

A painting by Lindsey's friend hangs over a console in the living room. The mercury-glass lamp was a HomeGoods find.


The kitchen came without any backsplash, so Grayson watched YouTube videos to learn how to install tile. He used an inexpensive marble to cover between the counters and the upper cabinets. He also replaced the cabinet hardware with shiny nickel knobs, and hung a new pendant light above the sink. A Roman shade dresses the window and, for added prep space, Lindsey brought in a rolling butcher-block-topped island from Kmart. You can find ready-made kitchen islands at inexpensive retailers like Kmart, Target and Walmart, or even restaurant supply stores.

Dining Area

The vintage dining table was a thrift store find, as were the caned chairs. "We had the cushions upholstered in white vinyl to match the leather sofa. It was just $7 per yard," says Lindsey. The side chairs were hand-me-downs that Lindsey updated with striped fabric. She added a modern chandelier and a formal touch with French-pleat silk curtains. "The curtains are the biggest splurge in the house because they required 30 yards of fabric," says Lindsey. "They're definitely coming with us if we ever move!" A rug from World Market defines the area between the kitchen and the living room.

Guest Room

The twin four-poster beds were in Grayson's room when he was growing up. You can mix antique furniture with fabrics that have modern patterns, like this graphic carpet. Lindsey's hope chest, which her grandfather built for her mother using chestnut wood, got a second life as a bedside table. "I want to pass it down to Tilley-Gray," says Lindsey. The prints above each bed, by artist Mario Sanchez, were gifts from Grayson's uncle. Lindsey framed them with black mats and bamboo-style frames.

Home Office Space

The guest room also serves as Lindsey's home office. A Parsons desk from West Elm and a homemade burlap-covered corkboard keep things tidy. The wallpaper in the adjoining hall was Grayson's first wedding anniversary present to Lindsey, since one year is the paper anniversary.


Lindsey customized a white IKEA dresser with graphic laser-cut wood overlays (, which she painted hot pink before attaching. The overlays are made specifically to fit IKEA furniture, and they are attached using tiny nails in each corner. The rug is from, and the light fixture, another IKEA find, went from white to gold with spray paint. Lindsey's aunt sewed the curtains using fabric that Lindsey found on for about $20 a yard.

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