“Bargain Mansions” is back! After a hiatus in the middle of Season 3 in June (COVID-19-related, perhaps?), this HGTV show has returned, with Kansas City–based home designer Tamara Day pulling off yet another budget-friendly renovation that offers big bang for your buck.
In the episode “Soffit Saga,” Day has bought a 1979 house in Mission, KS, for $350,000. This home has serious midcentury modern style, but it’s hidden under years of unsightly updates. Day sets aside $120,000 to shed the past owners’ misguided makeovers and uncover its original glory.
Read on to learn how Day turns an outdated house into a glamorous midcentury modern home—and learn some cool upgrades you might be inspired to try on your own abode.
Add wood paneling to the exterior
When Day buys this house, it has a yellow exterior, green trim, and ugly French panels on a wall. Day hates it.
“I kind of have a vision of cedar treatments on different spots of the house,” Days says, “giving it the idea of architectural elements that they were trying to do with the French panels but missed.”
Day repaints the exterior a clean, crisp white with modern black accents on the front door and garage. She then adds a little midcentury flair by installing cedar planking.
In the end, the wood panels look amazing. They complement the black and white paint, and give the exterior some much-needed dimension.
New pavers can create more curb appeal
While Day is able to do wonders with the home’s exterior, there’s still a big problem with the front yard: the dated walkway.
“This whole sidewalk has got to go,” Day says, looking at the stone path. “It’s just seriously dated. It doesn’t match the house.”
While Day tries hard to include many classic elements in her midcentury modern design, she knows that sometimes it’s important to include something fresh.
Day replaces the walkway with sleek gray pavers, which include pathway lighting for extra convenience. The new pavers are a big upgrade from the old stone walkway, and they give the home a modern look.
Replace the mantel instead of the entire fireplace
One of the first things on Day’s renovation to-do list is to bring down the soffit hanging from the ceiling between the entryway and the living room. Not only does the soffit make the room feel closed off, but it also blocks sightlines to the gorgeous 22-foot-tall fireplace.
However, once the soffit is down and the layout is improved, there’s still a problem with the fireplace: the dated mantel.
While Day wants to keep the original stonework, she decides that the white mantel should be replaced with something simpler.
“This is a supertraditional mantel,” Day says, looking to the stone, “and this is really midcentury looking.” She decides to update the mantel with a modern, simpler style.
Her team removes the mantel, and is surprised by what is underneath: another mantel!
This hidden mantel is simple and rustic, which is just what Day wanted to install over the fireplace. Of course, she’s thrilled with the coincidence and has it painted black.
When the living room is finished, the fireplace looks amazing. The black mantel gives the space a sleek, modern look, while the classic stone preserves the home’s midcentury charm.
Accent tile makes for an unexpected statement wall
Accent walls have been design must-haves in recent years. Designers love adding a pop of color to a room with a splash of paint or stretch of wallpaper on just one wall. Day is no different. But in this renovation, she gives her dining space a fun accent wall made from an unexpected material: tile.
She installs floor-to-ceiling, black and white tile, then gives it an extra bold look by using sparkly gold grout. To finish the look, Day adds built-in black shelves wrapped in brass.
“I know it’s going a little over the top to do floor-to-ceiling tile,” Day says, “but these are the pieces that people remember when they walk through my houses.”
In the end, Day loves how the accent wall came out. The tile is unique, the grout is bold, and the whole thing ties into the home’s midcentury modern design.
Wallpaper and shiplap add visual interest to a stark staircase
Day knows there’s a difference between dated features and stylish throwback designs. For instance, while the mirrored wall on the staircase is a midcentury look, she knows it won’t fit with her modern home.
She takes down the mirror and replaces it with a midcentury-inspired, black and white wallpaper. Then, to add extra style to the staircase, she adds vertical shiplap with a gray-wash stain.
“The midcentury modern style uses a mix of different materials and clean lines,” Days says, “and this vertical wood treatment we’re putting up in the stairwell will not only accent the 22-foot ceilings, but it’ll add a unique textural element to the space.”
In the end, the staircase looks great. The panels and wallpaper are a big upgrade from the mirrored wall, and they help the space match the home’s midcentury modern look.
How does Tamara Day’s latest ‘bargain mansion’ turn out?
Day had bought this house for just $350,000 and set aside $120,000 for the renovation. And it turns out, she’s able to stay on budget, which means her total investment is $470,000.
After the renovation is finished, the home looks incredible, so she plans to list it at $650,000. While the episode ends before we see whether she’s able to sell this house, if she gets her offer price, it would mean a profit of $180,000.
As far as we’re concerned, any price near that would add up to a job well done!
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