before and afterInteriors

Before & After: A Home Gets a Charming Overhaul in Portland, OR

by Erin Austen Abbott

It’s not often that you can find an older home on the market that’s only had one owner. But that was exactly the case for Portland, OR couple David and Brandt with their 1928 Cape Cod style, 1,700-square-foot cottage. They are only the second family to live in the home, just blocks from the restaurants, shopping, and coffee shops in the neighborhood of Beaumont Village.

Before they could get to the point of looking for a home, though, they had a list of boxes they wanted to check off before taking the plunge into buying. They knew that a fixer-upper was not out of the question, so they spent a year prior vetting contractors, researching vendors, and consulting with a structural engineer. Once they found the home they wanted to make an offer on, the couple worked with the sellers and were able to have all of the “unseen but necessary” things done before closing on the house. “We decommissioned an oil tank, replaced electric, replaced plumbing, replaced water line, replaced water heater. So that left the ‘fun’ stuff,” Kimberly says. After planning and ordering materials, their contractor, Kevin Pasion of Grebs Kitchen & Bath Remodeling, knocked out the entire renovation in about 10 weeks. “Would’ve been quicker if we weren’t hit with an epic snowstorm in the middle of it,” Kimberly notes.

With a new kitchen, bathroom, and living room, their home is now a mix of a British country cottage and a beautiful, streamlined Scandinavian aesthetic. “Our goal was finding a balance of both of these, while creating a welcoming, family-friendly space,” Kimberly shares. “Nothing is off-limits to our kid or pets. Everything was selected with the ‘Hound Dog’ filter in mind.” The living room fireplace was what really sold them on the home in the first place, with its curved, brick lining. The cabinets on either side of the fireplace were added during the renovation. One side holds their son’s toys, and the other side hides a TV. “Our woodworker had the genius idea of putting the TV on a lift, so the top opens and the TV slides up at the push of a button! It’s so hard to solve the TV dilemma in a tiny space where you want to be able to entertain,” Kimberly says.

All the gorgeous cottage details and smart, functional living solutions are no doubt thanks to Kimberly and David’s careful planning before even setting sights on this home. Please scroll down to see this amazing transformation. — 

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Photography by Kris Seymore

Image above: After giving the kitchen a modern cottage makeover, the Brandts now have the kitchen look they dreamed of achieving. 

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“Selecting a floor surface in this space was a challenge,” Kimberly begins. “I knew I did not want wood; transitioning from the original flooring in the dining room to new in the kitchen would’ve been difficult and I didn’t want the upkeep of a wood floor in a wet room. I explored concrete tile like we executed in the bathroom, but eventually landed on this beautiful Saltillo brick. I decided to lay it in a herringbone pattern to better contrast against the vertical lines of the wood floor in the adjacent room, and to add a bit of tonal interest in the small space. It’s such a lovely material and SO easy to keep looking clean. It’s suitable inside and outside; eventually, I’d love to carry it out into the cuddle room and onto the back patio.”

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

From 1940s mint cabinets to serene marble tiles and soft wood tones.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“The kitchen, just like the bathroom and cuddle room, had also not been touched since the 1940s or 50s. We lived with it in this state for about a year to really get a feel for how it functioned,” Kimberly says.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“We’ve loved having the combination of closed cabinets and open shelving. Our everyday dishes are out on the shelves for ease of access. They are rotated out often enough that we avoid the build-up of dust and grime that plagues open kitchens.”

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“This sink is a life-changer. We absolutely LOVE how the cutting board can mount to the top. It helps expand our working space (which is critical in a tiny kitchen) and makes it so easy to drop scraps into the garbage disposal,” Kimberly shares.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“This fireplace sold us on the house and set the stage for all our cottage dreams.” 

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

The before and after look at the living room, complete with original plaster walls.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“Our built-ins to the left and right of the fireplace are where the toys are tucked and the TV pops up. Besides the fireplace, my favorite part of this room is the original plaster walls. The previous owners only used the picture rails, and they’ve survived almost 100 years without a single nail hole. It’s magic,” Kimberly muses.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

A close-up look at the built-in cabinets next to the fireplace.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

A few details from the cozy living room. “That’s our hound Lazlo snoozing in the background,” Kimberly points out.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“I found that mirror at an antique store on a family trip to Maine last year. It was my first time to that part of the country and I was blown away by all the amazing Americana antiques. I feel pretty lucky it made the haul all the way back to Portland,” Kimberly shares.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“Ah, the workhorse that is the entry table. This is where we dump all of our daily ‘stuff’ and it almost always has a coffee ring that needs to be wiped up. I have the worst habit of taking my coffee mug into the car with me every morning on the way to work, and I always manage to place it down with a splash as we’re scrambling to get out the door,” Kimberly laughs.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“This space was actually really cool on the surface. We considered keeping it as a time capsule; it was a 1950s-esque ‘tiki room’ complete with an indoor BBQ and television with speakers throughout. But, the DIY electrical and leaky corners convinced us a facelift was necessary,” Kimberly shares.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

The sunroom, or as it’s affectionally called, the “cuddle room,” before and after.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“Our three-year-old son named this space the cuddle room. It’s our favorite spot to snuggle up; especially on a rainy day! We’re slowly building our plant library, and I can’t wait for the Boston Ivy to grow in around the windows.”

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

A lovely matte black floor connecting to the brick walls only makes the “cuddle room” that much cozier.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“When we first looked at the house, I immediately knew I wanted to put French doors in here and open the space up to the backyard. By far, this was one of the most dynamic improvements we made to the overall feel of the house. It opens the space up, brings the outside in, and draws in beautiful light,” Kimberly says.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

The bathroom before was dark and dimly lit, with pink tiles and cream walls.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

From a light pink sink and cream walls to beautiful handcrafted black and white cement tiles against black walls.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“We didn’t change the footprint in the bathroom at all; but every finish was updated. With such a small space, I was nervous to do such a bold patterned tile; but I feel like the warmer wood tones help balance it out and it ended up working,” Kimberly notes.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

A closer look at the new black and white cement tiles.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

“The bathroom had not been updated since sometime in the 40s. Fun surprise, when we started demo’ing, it turns out that all those tiles were plastic.”

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

A before and after look at the bathroom.

Kimberly and David Brandt on Design*Droits-Humains

Connecting to a bedroom, the new bathroom is now a beautiful, calming room.



French Doors – Anderson Windows and Doors
Arched Window – Anderson Windows and Doors
Sink –
Sink hardware –
Gas Range –
Fridge –
Dishwasher –
Bar Light Fixture –
Sconces –
Tile Floors –
Countertops –
Range Hood –
Cabinet Hardware (Pulls) –
Cabinet Hardware (Upper) –
Backsplash –
Dishes & Glassware –
Area Rug –
Paint –


Bathtub – Craig’s List
Sink –
Faucet –
Storage Basket –
Medicine Cabinet –
Step Stool – Vintage
Shelves –
Flooring –
Toilet – Ace Hardware
Sconce – School House Electric (no longer available)
Shower Head –
Shower Curtain Rings –
Towels –
Robe Hooks / Towel Bar / Towel Ring / Toilet Paper Bar –

Living Room

Couch –
Rug –
Coffee Table –
Entry Console –
Ceiling Light –
Rattan Chairs –
Prints over bookshelf –
Square Prints – made by their son
Ceiling Medallion – 

Dining Room

Table –
Chairs – Vintage
Rug –
Chandelier –
Ceiling Medallion –

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