In This Charming Fixer-Upper, a West Elm Dresser Doubles as a Bathroom Vanity
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:04 AM
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Chris and Claudia Beiler are an anomaly in the renovating world. When the design duo founded their company, The Chris and Claude Co., four years ago, they took a creative approach, often going out of their way (and sometimes too close to their max budget) to bring in unique finishes. As a result, the Beilers have made a name for themselves as anti–house flippers. Their latest project, a 1800s fixer-upper in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is full of sweet surprises. Take the master bathroom—you’d never know the stunning two-sink vanity is actually a West Elm dresser or that the luxe-looking floral wallpaper came from Urban Outfitters.
“We often ask ourselves if it’s worth it, because buying something ready-made would be almost the same amount,” says Claudia. “But to us, creativity and out-of-the-box ideas are what we thrive on. It’s what keeps the jump in our step.” Ultimately, the Beilers wanted to design a home that was as exceptional and fun as their clients, Jeremie and Hailey. The newlyweds chose to live in the house during the four-month renovation and, by some miracle, were able to squeeze in a wedding along the way.
“Living through a renovation was dusty—very, very dusty,” shares Hailey. “Our friends would walk through the house and say things like, ‘Oh, I thought you were exaggerating.’ But we learned a ton and grew a lot and got a pretty great home out of the deal.” Despite the inconvenience of living without a proper kitchen for weeks on end, the result was every bit worth the wait. Read on for the standout design lessons we’re saving from this head-to-toe makeover.
Elevate Kitchen Storage With Salvaged Gems
Luckily, the Beilers and their clients agreed: The house had great bones, and it deserved to stay that way. Already in love with the original wood beams, Claudia turned up the character an extra notch in the kitchen by bringing in an old ship door to use for the pantry. “I bought it at an auction four years ago and have been saving it for the perfect spot,” she tells Domino. The nautical addition paired seamlessly with the soft shade of robin’s-egg blue used for the custom island, the Etsy basket lights, and Italian marble backsplash.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to mix up your hardware types. As a general rule of thumb, Claudia uses one style of hardware (i.e., a pull) for the cabinets and goes with the alternative style (a knob) for the drawers. The look lends instant intrigue to a neutral room.
Consider Any and All Storage Options for the Bathroom
The best hacks aren’t always ones that save you money—sometimes they’re the ones you know no one else will have. Transforming a piece of furniture into a vanity wasn’t a foreign concept to Claudia, who pulled off a similar trick in another recent project, for which she used West Elm’s Penelope nightstand as the base for a sink. “I purchased this dresser on sale for around $300,” says Claudia. “The total was about $1,000, taking into account one day’s worth of labor for one of our crew [members] and the double faucets and sinks.”
“Our design process for this space was fairly easy because Hailey knew her style. She was a solid mix of boho, classic, and whimsical,” explains Claudia. “We loved this choice for more reasons than one: The designer of this wallpaper is a friend who lives nearby.”
Think Twice Before Committing to Noisy Construction
If anyone deserves a picture-perfect kitchen, it’s Hailey and Jeremie, who tried to survive on a plug-in burner while the kitchen reno was under way. It wasn’t long before the couple reverted to takeout. “In the first few weeks, we tried to use a makeshift kitchen we put together in a back room [upstairs], which, thinking back, is hilarious,” recalls Hailey. “If you ever visit Lancaster and need suggestions about what rice bowl to get where, just let us know.”
Today the couple has few regrets about the process, but if they had to choose one thing to do differently, it would be taking a step back from their dream home. “If we were to do it again, I think we would have slowed down, taken our time in all stages of buying and pre-renovating, and potentially moved into a rental or apartment if needed,” says Hailey.
Make the Attic Your Master Suite
The attic was a huge draw for Chris and Claudia, and if you know their backstory, it’s easy to understand why. “The first space that we ever renovated was an attic space in an old 1800s home, while we were engaged,” shares Claudia. “Jeremie and Hailey were engaged [when we started this project]. It just felt so similar to our story. We loved it and we loved them.”
In order to use the attic’s angles to their best advantage, the Beilers brought on a team of contractors to add plumbing and new windows, as well as expose the 100-year-old wood beams. Claudia kept the decor bright and simple with all-white bedding and etched glass pendants from Pottery Barn. “We loved the character that the angles added to the space,” she continues. “Attic spaces are so unique in that you feel like you’re living in the trees.”
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