Designer Brittany Fleming remodeled her fixer-upper into the perfect starter home full of wow factor.
There were certain design ideas that Brittany knew she wanted to implement from the get-go, such as the aqua blue front door. “I didn’t want to be like every other house on the street,” she says. “The color is not as jarring as I thought it might be; it’s very peaceful.”
Fun, modern and girly — these three words describe Brittany Fleming’s self-proclaimed “bachelorette pad” to a T. Since the 28-year-old interior and graphic designer purchased her Cottage Hill house back in 2012, it has undergone a complete transformation. She took a graffiti-covered brick box that had been robbed of its copper plumbing and turned it into a charming, comfortable first place.
Even in its rough initial state, Brittany was able to see the house’s potential and immediately began scheming. She and her dad, Terry Fleming, took on the challenge of redoing the house themselves. “It’s been a true labor of love,” she adds.
Because of the major structural renovations that needed to be made, Brittany couldn’t move in until six months after she bought the house. While some rooms only needed a fresh coat of paint and new floors, the kitchen and den area required total overhauls. They had to knock down a wall and gut the entire space to create the open, modern floor plan that Brittany had envisioned.
For the decor, Brittany took advantage of her single status, taking risks with feminine colors, such as her bedroom’s hot pink and turquoise accents. “I’m a color person. I’ve never been afraid of it.” But, fusing those bold pops with a neutral backdrop helped her maintain a balance between youthful and adult styles. “I wanted it to be a little more grown-up looking,” she says. The result is an ideal transitional house, perfect for her twentysomething stage.
ABOVE Before the makeover, the home was a neighborhood eyesore; now it boasts charming curb appeal.
Brittany Fleming breaks down the steps she took to revive her Cottage Hill fixer-upper.
1) Paint the exterior. After closing on the home, my No. 1 priority was to fix the outside of the house. It had been vandalized with graffiti that read “Happy Holidays!” in black spray paint.
2) Fix the floors. They had definitely seen better days. We sanded them down to the bare wood. After applying the stain ourselves, we quickly realized that we needed to bring in the professionals.
3) Remodel the kitchen. It was in such an awful state, I refused to place anything on the counters. The kitchen was completely rewired, new insulation put up, and new dry wall, ceilings and floors.
4) Paint all the other rooms. We had a “paint party” where my extended family came over for the weekend and helped me. It made the daunting task much more bearable.
5) Move in. That was a task in and of itself. Bringing in my furniture finally made the house feel like my home.
6) Rebuild the back deck. This was our most recently completed project. We tore the old one down and managed to get the new one up in about a month. It is such a great outdoor space for entertaining.
7) Work in progress. Currently, we are converting the basement into my workspace and design studio. Next on our list is the bathrooms. The original orange tile has got to go!
ABOVE One of Brittany’s favorite finds is her sectional sofa. The piece, which she bought at an Olde Mobile Antiques estate sale was a navy and olive green floral. It originally looked like it belonged on the set of “That 70’s Show,” but with a little love and a custom-made slipcover, it transformed into something modern and unique.
ABOVE LEFT Brittany’s love of the coast is apparent throughout the house, especially in the living room, which is full of driftwood accents and aqua-hued pieces.
ABOVE RIGHT This dining room table is another of Brittany’s Olde Mobile Antiques estate sale finds. A pair of biege zebra print upholstered host and hostess chairs add a touch of whimsy without being too distracting.
ABOVE The cabinets were one of the biggest projects in the kitchen. To stay within her budget, Brittany ordered them from IKEA. They were delivered to her house in 120 boxes. She got to work assembling the cabinets and modified some of them to make the kitchen island. Fun, patterned fabrics from Richtex, such as the periwinkle and lime ikat used on the valance over the sink, pull the room together.
ABOVE Brittany’s style and personality shine through in her bedroom. Turquoise and bright pink pop against crisp white walls and linens, creating a modern, eclectic environment.
ABOVE Brittany continued the coastal vibe in her family room with nautical art and a cool, beachy color palette.
ABOVE The back deck is the latest project Brittany and her team have completed. As soon as she saw the custom-made Luke Phillips swing bed, she knew she had to have it. Because it is so heavy, Brittany and her dad had to come up with a support system to hang it, which evolved into the idea of the metal roof. Windows from Angel’s Antiques in Auburn and small fans under the roof complete the charming outdoor space. Click here for a supply list and instructions for the support system.
Brittany's Budget-Saving Tips
1) Try to do as much as you can yourself. It can save you a lot of money. My favorite thing to do is the demolition. It is easy and releases a lot of stress and frustration!
2) Go thrift shopping. You can find very unusual pieces for the best prices. Adding these finds into your current decor helps make your space look like you’ve cultivated key pieces over time and adds personality to your space.
3) Utilize slipcovers. The polka dot sectional in my living room is slipcovered and now I have a very unusual, easy-to-clean sofa that maximizes space and has become a great conversation piece.
4) Take it one step at a time. You don't have to overwhelm yourself with trying to do too much at one time! My project was so overwhelming to me at first. I have cried many a tear because of this house. But we broke it down into manageable steps that not only kept us on track, but also helped keep us motivated.
5) Know your limitations. Even though my dad and I are pretty handy, we know when to call for professionals. For instance, with the hardwood floor refinishing job, we took that project as far as we felt comfortable with until we realized we needed help to make sure the finish product met my standards.
To see more of Brittany’s design work and her home renovation journey, check out her blog at brittanymorgan.com.Edit Module