Author Archives: Hannah Wilson

About Hannah Wilson

Blank Slate Renovations is a Dallas-based home renovation and design company owned and run by Hannah Wilson and husband, Chayce. When she's not designing spaces, consulting with clients or running their social media platforms, you can find Hannah at school (once again) studying architecture. Her love for Midcentury Modern design mixed with Scandinavian/Boho vibes leads her to incorporate lots of texture, organic materials and natural lighting into their projects. Outside of work, she loves running, biking, hiking—anything active outdoors—and traveling (fun fact: about five years ago, her and Chayce lived in England for a year, exploring 14 different countries and making lifelong friends and memories!).

DIY or Hire Out?

 Thanks to the budding romance between HGTV and Pinterest, a new lovechild was born—DIY. Unfortunately, the two lovers had another kid that eventually outgrew the first one; they named her “DIY Fail” and she has since spawned many offspring.  Have you been a part of propagating this lineage? True, you can save some cheddah, but the never-ending stream of “Pinterest Fails” beckons you to tread carefully. So, how do you know when to turn in the hammer and just hit up your local general contractor?





1. Do you intend to sell?


If you’re planning on selling your home soon, making sure things are done correctly the first time is important. This can be the difference between an offer and a customer walking away.






Hiring professionals with years of experience and all the right tools usually works in your favor—not to mention, they usually provide a warranty which is transferable to the new buyers. On the other hand, if you’ve got the time and the “know-how,” applying your creative juices to your own space not only saves you dolla-bills but it can make your house stand out against the competition. 


2. Time is money—how much of it do you have to spend?


We’ve learned the hard way over the years by spending waaaay too much time attempting to do things ourselves trying to save a buck.  But 8 times out of 10, we could’ve saved way more by simply hiring a professional to knock out the job in a fraction of the time! 




Often, we have to spend extra time learning the basics, buying the necessary tools and then doing (and redoing) the actual work.



The creative process is rewarding and enriching, but it doesn’t always make sense in every context.  ANY TIME you attempt a DIY project, take the allotted hours/budget and double it…no, triple it. 



On the flip side, Chayce and I have also been able to save lots of money by demoing, painting, tiling and staging on our own—the less skill-intensive tasks.


3. Do you have any experience?


The advent of the YouTube age has produced millions of great tutorials that enable normal people to do amazing things. And while we love the spirit of this movement, we also recognize its limitations. 




Turning an old pallet into a headboard is a great place to start but rewiring a new addition may be better approached after you have some more experience under your belt.




At the end of the day, we are always quick to say that it’s not our intention to take the wind out of your sails; we just want to point out a few things to think about before you begin. So you do you, and don’t listen to the haters!


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To Paint or Not to Paint? A Fireplace’s Tale

When it comes to painting a brick fireplace, you’re either a lover or a hater. While some adore the thought of modernizing a space with a fresh coat of color, others see it as stripping the home of its character and story. Before you break out the drop cloth, here are five things to consider.



1.  Does it clash with the rest of the house?
If you own an original Victorian home, a Scandinavian, matte-black hearth may not exactly blend well with the surroundings. I’m all about making statements, but be sure this update will complement the atmosphere, not distract from it.

2. Are you planning on selling soon?
Always consider a) your neighborhood and b) your potential customer. Take a peek at the homes for sale in your neighborhood to get an idea what they’re doing—this is your competition. Think about your typical customer; if the buyers in your area are, for instance, retirees (e.g. an older generation), trendy or modern styles may not be as greatly appreciated. Remember, if you’re selling, you aren’t styling this home for you!

3. Is your hearth in good condition?
If not properly prepped (repaired, properly grouted, cleaned, etc.), sometimes painting brick can actually accentuate its defects. Be sure to fill all holes, cracks and defects before beginning.

4. Do you have the right paint?
Choosing the correct paint is also important. You’ll want to make sure to use paint that is made for masonry and is safe around higher temperatures. I recommend a good “block primer” as well for the base coat.

5. Remember, it’s hard to turn back time!
Painting over decades of history and warmth can take just a few hours, but trying to restore that original charm if you change your mind can be painstakingly difficult—if not impossible! I’m not saying don’t do it, but just take your time and make sure it’s the right decision.

Here are some of our fireplace updates. The first one needed some serious help, maybe even an exorcism. Since we completely altered the rest of the home with a contemporary update, we were able to get away with making such a bold statement in the living room.

Before



After




The second house had old, pink tile (12X12) previously on the fireplace. Uh, buh-bye… We quickly replaced it with a brick mosaic, and painted it matte white. We designed this home to be more minimal with Scandinavian elements, so we didn’t get too crazy.

Downstairs: Before





Upstairs: Before



Downstairs: During



Downstairs: After





Upstairs: After




Although I’ve mentioned some red flags to consider, I definitely don’t want to kill your vibe. Remember that this is YOUR abode and if a hot pink hearth gives you all the feels than by all means, pink it up!

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Transforming A Dated Wet Bar Into A Home Office

Part of the fun of renovating super dated spaces is coming up with imaginative solutions to strange layouts that serve no purpose for the modern home owner. Since remodeling is our full time gig, we come across these situations ALL. THE. TIME.



The most recent offender: a small wet bar in a living room—complete with a miniature sink and built-in wine racks. Now I understand that this was “high fashion” in the 70’s and 80’s, but when the living room couch is equidistant between the minibar and the kitchen, can we say that two sinks are better than one? Um…No; just no. Additionally, this particular home was only 1,300-square-feet, which meant every area needed to be utilized efficiently. Although my husband wanted the prestige and pomp that necessarily comes with owning an 80’s minibar, we decided to transform the awkward spot into a more useful space—an office nook!





The first step was to completely gut the little niche and start fresh. Since there used to be sink, we had to cap off all the plumbing as well as retexture and paint the lower half. As I mentioned in last week’s article, NEVER throw left over materials away! By using only scraps from other projects, we were able to create a desktop (leftover pieces from the IKEA butcher bock), two upper shelves and a textured backing with some left over white washed wall boards.





From there, we simply added some under mount lighting, an additional desk, and some floating IKEA boxes to really tie the whole space together. With a little creativity and some leftover pieces, we were able to add a whole new function to our tiny space and spend next to nothing!


 


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Six Money-Saving Reno Tips

Owning our own design and renovation company, we’re often asked how we achieve the looks that we do while staying in budget. The answer is that it’s been a painful and expensive process—and we’re still learning! Overbuilding the neighborhood? Check. Hiring the cheapest contractors? Yup. Under-budgeting? Guilty. Thankfully, however, every new remodel presents an opportunity to learn and improve.


Our most recent project was a 1,300 square foot condominium that was in desperate need of some updating. It was much smaller than our previous flips, and since the finished home would sell for $200K or less, we had to be extra careful with our remodel costs.



We got super creative with how we spent money and transformed spaces, so here are the top 6 ways  we saved big:


1. We used IKEA (whom we love) for all kitchen and bathroom cabinets, countertops, shelving and vanities.

Most people think of IKEA as being lesser quality and lacking style, but this is the second house we’ve used them in and we couldn’t be happier with the results! Obviously, a more expensive home would demand something more custom, but again, for this condo, it was perfect (not to mention IKEA has really upped their style-game and offers a great warranty!).



2. We did the IKEA installation ourselves.


If you’re anything like me, you look at a set of furniture directions (let’s be honest, any directions) and you completely zone out. Thankfully, IKEA caters to humans like me and gives step-by-step directions, IN NOTHING BUT PICTURES!


3. We installed hardwood look-alike vinyl flooring throughout the entire space.

This was our first time using this product—and we were definitely skeptical. But again, due to the price point of the home, it made the most economic sense. It was also easy to install!



4. Reused leftover tile from previous projects.


Advice for future renovators: think outside the box and ALWAYS keep leftover materials! You never know when they’ll come in handy.








5. Instead of replacing the tub/shower tile, we used a white epoxy to refinish it.

This was another first for us, but we wanted to give it a whirl since I actually liked the style of the old tile. It’s a bit of a process and requires someone that knows what they’re doing, but it saved us tons of $$$.






6. Used leftover chop block (from the IKEA kitchen) as a floating vanity in the half bath, computer desktop in office and mantel for the upstairs fireplace.



As I mentioned before, NEVER throw out leftover material! We had enough chop block remnants to fashion a bathroom vanity, fireplace mantle and shelving.


These are a few of the tips and tricks we used for renovating this cozy condo and we couldn't be happier with the results!



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