This Austin Creative’s French-Door Fridge Hack Saved Her Hundreds of Dollars
Wait until you see (or don’t!) the hidden AC.
Published Oct 10, 2023 1:45 AM
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The day Anastasia Casey, the founder of IDCO Studio, The Interior Collective podcast, and Design Camp, and her husband got the keys to their new Austin home, they began construction. Really, at first, it was deconstruction. “My goal was to reuse every single thing that we possibly could,” says Casey. The finishes the previous owners had selected weren’t bad necessarily, they just weren’t her, but the seasoned renovator didn’t want to send everything straight to a landfill.
Having worked with Casey on previous projects, her go-to crew at Austin’s Home Renovation knew the drill: They carefully popped up the LVP floorboards in the kitchen, stacked them by size, and waited for one of Casey’s local Facebook followers to swing by the house and pick them up to use in their own remodel. Casey was able to shift most of the basic white kitchen cabinets to the nearby laundry room, along with the old granite countertops, which she also reused in the guest bathroom and pantry.
But it wasn’t just about saving the things that were already in the circa-1982 Tudor-style house—it was also taking into account what they brought in. The bookcase in the dining room was a $200 Facebook Marketplace score that Casey framed out and painted to look like it had always been there. “So much of what people are pulling out of houses is better construction, better-quality wood than anything you can buy new now,” she points out. The bonus? The seller, who was moving into a retirement facility, included her entire library of books with the purchase. “She was so happy to see them going somewhere great,” says Casey. Discover more bright ideas from her scrappy remodel, ahead.
Put Your Cabinetry Before Your Breakfast Nook
The home’s floor plan before was—to put it lightly—awful, says Casey. The primary bedroom opened directly into the kitchen, and to get to the closet, you had to walk through the bathroom and laundry room. By adding a hallway from the former garage space, they were able to reconfigure the layout to accommodate a new spacious primary suite and double the size of the kitchen (before, half of the kitchen was essentially unused).
“There was an additional breakfast room past the bay window, with no cabinetry over there,” recalls Casey. “As soon as I walked in, I was like, this kitchen should be the whole room.” Now outfitted with cabinets from Casey’s collaboration with Unique Kitchens & Baths, the kitchen takes full advantage of the 14-by-25-foot area.
Fake a French-Door, Panel-Ready Fridge
The one cabinet that Casey couldn’t get from her Unique Kitchens & Baths line was one to disguise the refrigerator. The problem she encountered, however, was finding a panel-ready, French-door fridge that didn’t cost a small fortune. After scouring the Internet, Casey decided to buy two 24-inch-wide refrigerators from Forte Appliances that were panel-ready and only cost around $1,200 each. When placed side by side with matching custom fronts on them, the two fridges actually look like one big 48-inch-wide fridge. “I think that hack saved us $500,” she admits.
Buy Your Decorative Beams at the Hardware Store
Pondering how to make her 8-foot-high ceilings feel more intentional and less claustrophobic, Casey turned to Tanya Smith-Shiflett, the owner of Unique Kitchens & Baths. Her suggestion? Buy rough-cut cedar 2-by-4s from Home Depot, stain them in a dark walnut color, and screw them into the ceiling. The simple planks look like antique beams, except they cost only $300.
Make Your Shower Just as Cozy as Your Living Room
Because the bathroom isn’t a very bright space to begin with, Casey leaned into the darkness by opting for a cavelike shower swathed in dark green soldier-stacked tile with matching grout. “I insisted on a curbless shower, and the guys were so sweet; they dug that concrete out for me,” she says. The marble tile that wraps the surrounding bathroom walls was a budget save: Large-format rectangles require less time and labor to install than smaller tiles. To elevate the detail, Casey bought burgundy marble pencil trim (on clearance!) from Floor & Decor.
Shop Stock Vanities
The key to any speedy reno is relying on quick-ship, in-stock items when possible. The vanities in the primary bathroom and powder room are from Pottery Barn. Casey opted for two individual pieces in their own space for the simple fact that one long vanity tends to become a junk collector. “I think this keeps us a bit tidier,” she says.
Check the Herringbone Floor Box With Carpeting
Carrying the wood herringbone floors upstairs to the remaining three bedrooms wasn’t feasible for the couple’s budget. Carpeting was the next best alternative: It requires a lot less prep work, plus it acts as a soundproofing barrier. In order to keep some level of design consistency, Casey went with a herringbone-inspired fiber floor treatment from Empire Today.
Don’t Leave Doors, Trim, and Ceilings Out of the Paint Equation
Wanting the house to feel more historic than it actually is, Casey steered clear of bright white paint. Instead, Benjamin Moore’s Fossil hue, which “feels warm and a little buttery,” she notes, became her go-to. Another way she makes a place feel older? Contrasting trim. All of the baseboards, as well as one of the guest bedrooms, are covered in Nantucket Gray, also by Benjamin Moore. “And always paint the trim around your door the same color as the door. It’ll make it look bigger,” she suggests. Casey also swears by color drenching: If you’re painting the walls a color, you should use the same shade on the ceiling, too. “It feels so much more intentional and higher-end,” she adds.
Keep Cool With Even Cooler Cabinetry
Given the Texas heat is so strong, Casey wasn’t inclined to remove the mini split in the living room. To help hide the eyesore, she took a cabinet from her collection and inserted it around the AC unit. The holes drilled in the top allow air to flow normally when the doors are open, although Casey and her husband will open the cabinet completely when they want to crank it up. The lower drawers house all of the couple’s barware—because a chilled martini is also a good way to keep cool.