What really went down over the course of the 3 days that we gave LaTanya’s home a makeover? Keep reading for all the details!
Casey from The DIY Playbook and I shared the reveal of LaTanya’s Feel Good Makeover last week, but do you ever what really goes down behind the scenes of a fast paced makeover? We’ve done several home flash makeovers the years, from a California living room to a Chicago laundry room to a Baltimore kitchen, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: There are always surprises. No different than the heart-racing few seconds of turmoil before an HGTV show commercial break, unexpected things will happen. Lucky for us, we had the most amazing team of people to help us through anything. Below, you can click through to see the makeover unfold from start to finish:
Meet LaTanya | The Design Plan | The Reveal | All the Items Used In the Makeover
The Video Team
I can’t wait one more second to share with you the incredible video that Jason from One City Films collaborated with us on! Jason is an old friend of Casey’s, and when she suggested we hire him to capture the essence of this makeover, Scott and I were all in. Plus, it’s always a treat when someone else is in charge of the documenting, allowing us to focus on the hands-on work. Not only does the video below share the joyous moment when we revealed the space to LaTanya, but it also includes our initial video call, a look into LaTanya’s pure heart, and our thought process behind the design plan. (Those last 15 seconds though! Friendly alert: You may need some tissues.)
The Makeover Team
Although there were months of actual planning in place before we ever stepped foot in LaTanya’s home, the majority of the makeover took place mid-May on a Friday and Saturday. Sunday was reserved for photography, video and the big reveal!
In two days, we had several amazing people pop in to help, including Casey’s brother and sister, as well as her assistant, Lindsey, aka Furniture Builder Extraordinaire, who flew in from Kansas City for the whole weekend to pitch in! (Life. Saver.)
Before The Weekend
As we shared in Stories over the course of the weekend, we actually received a handful of questions from people wondering if we would be painting the rooms. This made us laugh, because we did paint the rooms! As a reminder, here’s the color of LaTanya’s living room before we started:
She craved comfort, a home to call all her own, and we picked a color that embodied a warm hug. What we didn’t know is that when LaTanya was a child, her mom painted their entire living room mauve! She called me in tears to let me know our color choice much that meant to her. To be fair, I didn’t know this tidbit about her past, so I’ll chalk it up to kismet. She cried, I cried. (There were a lot of tears throughout the process, ha!)
That said, we did hire a painter ahead of time to save us an entire day of work. They painted the walls this color, which is a color match to Sherwin-Williams Dutch Cocoa, and the ceiling got a fresh coat of bright white. They also removed decades of paint from the vintage wood trim and applied a rich gel stain to bring it all back to life. For the finishing touch before our arrival, we had them refinish the original hardwood floors in both bedrooms! Casey and I are pretty sure the original hardwood runs throughout the entire apartment, but the hardest part was drawing the line somewhere. The carpet in the main living spaces was newly installed prior to LaTanya’s move-in, so while we wish we could have peeled back a corner – just to see! – we opted to leave it in place. The bedroom floors turned out stunning though!
The DIY Sideboard Project
Remember all my talk of surprises? The sideboards we ordered, while cute, were a bit smaller in person than expected. I 100% blame this on user error (ahem, measurements may have been glossed over); we were ordering hundreds of items at once, after all! The plan all along was to connect the two and create a SUPERsideboard to fill the dining room wall, but we ended up taking it one step further and creating a truly custom piece.
To start, Scott used this oscillating tool to remove the overhang on the sides where the sideboards would meet. We also used a bead of construction adhesive before attaching them with short wood screws.
I smoothed a bead of caulk on the front where the seams meet up. If the angle below is confusing, it’s because the sideboard is laying on its back so I could have easy access.
From there, we installed taller legs for additional height, and we had a piece of MDF cut down at the hardware store to put on top. We planned the dimensions of the MDF to be cut at a 1/2″ deeper and wider so it would create an intentional design detail.
You can see that design detail in the photo below. More short wood screws were used from below to attach the top securely.
Finally, I use color-matched paint to bring it all together!
The end result is way, way better than any of us expected. We think that the budget friendly price of these sideboards x 2 is well worth the effort for a piece that fills an entire wall!
We were so lucky to have only one other hiccup over the course of the weekend, and that was our plan for the sconces that flank the artwork:
They’re meant to be hardwired, but our plan was to nix the hardwiring and instead use these puck lights that can be operated with a remote control. Sadly, the pucks were too large to fit inside the globe, so we had to come up with a new idea. We ended up ordering some battery operated bulbs (Prime and overnight, whoot!), but the base plate was still too large.
In the end, we had to be okay with the fact that these were purely decorative, which initially bummed us all out. We gave it our all, but not all plans work out. LaTanya, our biggest cheerleader, told us that she loved the look and could care less if they turned on, ha! I wish we could have made them work for her, but short of having an electrician run wiring behind her plaster walls (which is always an option for perfect, as intended functionality), they’ll just have to look awfully cute for now.
The Lesser Seen Parts of a Flash Makeover
Aside from those two hiccups, surely you know that all makeovers have a less glamorous side! We were thankful to have a sunny and warm weekend, but to say it was quite sweaty would be an understatement. Our typical Chicago spring weather brought us a couple of 90-degree days of work, followed by a much cooler 70-degree day on Sunday (thank goodness). A large part of our work was sifting through boxes and organizing ev-er-y-thing. Ultimately, we hired a truck to pick up all our boxes for recycling, because they took up the entire backyard! Aside from that, we fueled up on Portillo’s (IYKYK), danced, hustled, and ended our days over a shared meal and drinks.
The Big Reveal
I can’t stop smiling when I look at these photos from the big reveal. Every single photo is of LaTanya with her hands over her mouth, and if you could hear her, she was saying, omg omg omg. My cheeks hurt so badly from all the good cheer! We were all crying and smiling at the same time, and I think these photos say it all.
Over the several days that followed the makeover, LaTanya would text us and let us know of all the new surprised she was still discovering! Coasters, a framed photo in her home office, new bedding, a faux fur for the foot of her bed, pantry organization, pots and pans in the kitchen cupboard. Although the living and dining rooms are what made it to the reveal, every room in her home was packed with function, organization and goodies. She deserves the world.
If you’d like and are able, you can also support LaTanya! LaTanya works for Cara Collective, a nonprofit organization helping those in poverty to find employment through education and access to resources, while also advancing employers toward equity and inclusion. LaTanya created an Amazon Gift List of items that will help further Cara’s commitment to the community, which you’ve already mostly fulfilled (thank you!). Anything you purchase will be sent directly to the Cara offices in Chicago. This is a wonderful way to directly help a nonprofit in assisting others.
The weekend was honestly one of the most fun, exhausting and rewarding times in my life. Casey is not only a dear friend, but our boss-hat personalities work so well together! She’s a wonderful teammate, and Scott and I still talk about how rewarding it was to do a project with her. (Casey, I love you.) I’m sorry to say, there was no bickering or ill will, we had the best time, and I sincerely hope we can do it again together!
PS: In case you missed it, here’s the big reveal, which includes the Amazon Home sources for every item in her home.
It looks so beautiful and attractive.
This is such a lovely makeover, and it was so fun to follow along with from start to finish. I love the sconces, whether they light up or not! :) I’ve got a couple places in my home where I’d like to have some accent lighting and have thought about doing the battery/remote operated puck lights, so note to self: make sure they fit inside the fixture first — haha! The sideboard is wonderful; I love the DIY alterations made to make it one huge piece and I feel like that’s something I could tackle, too. Thanks for sharing LaTanya and her work with us!!
Thanks, Ellen! Yes, please learn from our error, haha. They were perfect for the space regardless!
Great job all around!! I needed to read this uplifting story to be reminding of the good in this world. Thank you for sharing. ♥️
I’m feeling so good!!