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Modern Design from an Ugly Bar

Modern Design! That’s what screamed at me when I walked into the Midsite property, so many areas had DIY written all over it, the potential was overwhelming.  I really didn’t know where to start. Once my purchase escrow was closed, I prioritized what a buyer would see when they first walked into the house.


Just beyond the entry was the living room with a nice fireplace and a impossibly ugly bar left over from the 50’s. Frankly, I don’t think it was really ever an “in style” look, but I wasn’t around then to know. My dilemma was to keep or demo it, but it also acted a small divider to the dining room and it kind of needed that. The only problem was it was a little too closed in. Always wanting to open rooms up for light and modern design, I decided to keep it, open it up and modernize it…so this is what I did.

I demo’ed off the overhead cabinetry and patched the ceiling. I knew I was going to have the crew scrape and repair the entire living room ceiling so it was a natural to texture the patch at the time the ceiling was being done, no real extra expense there.

Since budget is always a factor, I didn’t want to totally rebuild the bar, nor spend on new cabinet doors or for that matter prime and paint the existing unit because it still would still just look like a painted old bar….Once again, bead board to the rescue!

Midsite 20000

So to give it that true modern design transformation, I simply covered the sides with bead board which, eventually wrapped into the dining room next to it creating a continuous look for the entire space. Once the tile on the fireplace, dining room, and entry was installed, I simply had the crew use the residual materials to cover the bar top and sides of it. Next, I hung inexpensive pendant lights (thank you Lowes) flown overhead to modernize it. The final detail came from creating a quad-toned color scheme using two different shades of golden beige on the walls and a third shade on the bead board. The last color being glossy white I used on the baseboards. Staging the entire home with trees, books, pictures, mirrors and nic-nacs brought it all the pop it needed.

Midsite 30000

The nice part of this project was the house sold within hours of the sign on the front yard. It never even made it to the MLS for public showing before it was sold. So curiously, I asked the selling agent, just what was it that made the young couple want the house…her answer, “they loved the house curb appeal (see the before after video) but when they walked in they saw the bar and said”… “I see a party right there at the bar”. That’s all I needed.

So I pose a closing question: If you notice, I painted the bead board in the dining room a shade of tan, usually painting it white in most projects, I pose a question: Does bead board always need to be painted white?

This post is written by (me) Don Gilmartin in order to inspire the DIY, design & flipping community. As CEO and founder of Fliptechs I have over 20 years of design, construction, and real estate, experience to share

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Don Gilmartin


    • Don Gilmartin -  January 9, 2014 - 1:04 am

      Thanks! It was a fun one. Ill be posting the back yard patio transformation in a day or so for this house. Its one of the best patio transformations I’ve done on the cheap…turned out pretty cool. Please keep an eye out for it, I’d like to have a real talent like you comment as often as possible. I was really impressed with your site.
      Thanks again


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