Small Updates Reaped Big Rewards in This Contemporary Home

Lots of mini changes add up to one seriously inspiring North Carolina home. HGTV Magazine shows you around.

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August 20, 2020

Photo By: DANE TASHIMA

Photo By: DANE TASHIMA

Photo By: DANE TASHIMA

Photo By: DANE TASHIMA

Photo By: DANE TASHIMA

Photo By: DANE TASHIMA

Photo By: DANE TASHIMA

Photo By: DANE TASHIMA

Photo By: DANE TASHIMA

Photo By: DANE TASHIMA

The Story

Dramatic transformations aren’t just the stuff of gut renos. Designer and stylist Erin Wheeler and her husband, David, fixed up most of their 1989 Raleigh, North Carolina, home to suit their tastes with simple yet jaw-dropping cosmetic changes. They wiped out the place’s stuffy, traditional vibes (think dated fixtures and finishes, and lots of cream) with all sorts of mini tweaks, including fresh paint, contemporary cabinet hardware and new light fixtures. “Those updates kept us going, room by room, while we saved up for a master bathroom makeover,” says Erin. But the truth is, she’s not totally finished, and that’s the way she likes it. “The joy of small changes is that you can keep playing around,” says Erin. “It doesn’t cost much to swap stuff in and out — and you can keep having fun!”

Exterior

How do you make a traditional white house a little edgy? Paint the front door and shutters dark gray (they were green before). The Wheelers used Evening Hush by Behr. “It made the house much more our style,” says Erin. Small Upgrade: Dark gray door and shutters.

Entry

Patterns are a tried-and-cute way to refresh a room — even more so if you choose two that play off each other. Erin juxtaposed a subtle floral peel-and-stick wallpaper with a graphic black-and-white rug from Lulu and Georgia. When an entry isn’t that large, a chic console, mirror and rug make a major impression. Small Upgrade: Petite console by OrWa Designs.

Living Room

Adding texture makes a space more interesting, and Erin layered it on. She traded in the old ceiling fan for a woven pendant and complemented it with a rattan chair (both by Serena & Lily). The tone of the leather sofa picks up on the legs of the plush armchair (both are from West Elm). The supersoft rug is from Boutique Rugs. Small Upgrades: Ledges for art, a black door and lots of white trim.

Kitchen

The Wheelers got theirs to look all new without even changing the room’s footprint. Having the cabinets painted white (Extra White by Sherwin-Williams) and replacing unmemorable knobs with brass ones worked wonders. Although Lucastone Venatino quartz countertops were an investment, they cost a lot less than gutting the space. Leather counter stools from West Elm warm up the white. Small Upgrades: Brass knobs from CB2 and cabinets painted white.

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Dining Room

Once the red walls were painted over (the new shade is Aloof Gray by Sherwin-Williams), Erin and David were all about decorating with old and modern pieces — a combo that always brings flair. They paired a vintage rug and table with chairs from West Elm and a bar cart by Serena & Lily. Quirky finishing touch: a print from Schoolhouse. Small Upgrades: Ikea drapes hung high and a Serena & Lily light fixture.

Main Bedroom

Peachy pinks and blues and a low bed from West Elm give this room a retreat vibe. Bedding — always a simple switch-up — plays a big role in setting the serene tone. Linen euro shams and a chunky throw say “Come chill out here.” Small Upgrades: A watercolor-y print from Minted and a faceted metallic vase.

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Master Bathroom

This room saw the largest transformation, complete with new subway tiles installed in a straight herringbone pattern laid at a 90-degree angle on the walls for a cool take on a classic. A wood window frame stained walnut plays off the walnut mirrors over the vanity. There’s fabness on the floor, too: “A vintage rug is a great way to incorporate a little history in a brand-new space,” says Erin. Small Upgrade: A vintage rug.

Zora’s Bedroom

“When people ask Zora what her favorite color is, she says ‘rainbow,’ ” says Erin. So she chose a sky mural and a happy spectrum of colorful accessories — garland from Bright Lab Lights draped over the canopy, the throw from Furbish, and the neon wall light from Target. Small Upgrades: A wall mural by Anewall and a hanging canopy.

Wyatt’s Bedroom

The 7-year-old’s room recently got a big-kid update, with nods to cars and travel. The navy wall color (Stiffkey Blue by Farrow & Ball) feels sophisticated next to the warm wood tones in the West Elm bed and the bench from Target, but the art keeps things fun. Small Upgrade: A gallery wall and a striped rug over solid carpet.

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