Aimee’s Happy Home Makeover: Before & After


Aimee and her 5 children

This weekend Irene’s sister, Aimee experienced a makeover so big that by the end of the day Saturday, she said to Irene, “I never understood the term ‘eye candy’ until this happened to my house. Now, everywhere I look, there’s something pretty to look at.”

This project started March 4 when I launched a campaign for donations for Irene’s sister and her kids (above). None of this would have happened without your generous support, thank you so much to all of you!

We raised over $12,000 on this site, other donations brought it up to $17,000 and with all the donated labour and materials, the final total was close to $30,000!

Benjamin Moore generously donated all the paint and Irene’s painter, Kevin Spafford arrived several weeks ago and painted the main areas of the house for a ridiculously low price. We had other donations which I’ll tell you more about in this post.



Irene put me in charge of choosing the furniture and accessories for the main areas including Aimee’s master bedroom, after she gave me her colour preferences.

Irene and Aimee’s mom was here with us this weekend too and she said she remembered when Aimee and her ex-husband had bunk beds in the living room and no sofa. The house Aimee is now renting is 3,000 square feet and it has enough rooms so that each kid got a room of their own.

I’ll show you the children’s rooms later this week — the only part I can take credit for is wall colours. Irene interviewed each of her nieces and nephews to really get a feel for their interests and she came up with ideas so creative, well they deserve to be featured all on their own.

LR 1


Most of the main areas of the house were painted a darkish pink-beige. The brick fireplace was brown and the window wall was painted dark blue.

I chose BM HC-171 Wickham Gray for the living and dining room. It’s a light, fresh, blue-gray slightly on the green side.



IKEA provided $750 of free furniture, gave us a discounted price on many items and provided free shipping from their Vancouver location all the way to Port Alberni.


I donated the fish. Bought them downtown months ago and never found a spot for them.

Because Aimee has five children, we decided on a colour scheme that included navy so we ordered the denim slipcovered, Ektorp sofa and loveseat from IKEA. We wanted another good size upholstered chair but white was not an option and the other available colours didn’t work, so Irene approached The Brick to ask if they would donate a $1,200 leather chair which would obviously be more practical with kids.

They gave it to us for $400 so that was great, but it was cream not white.

So now everything else was already painted off-white. I chose Cloud White because there was no way for me to find out in advance what colour her existing white cabinets were so I could decide on the perfect trim colour, so I chose Cloud White because it’s right in the middle of bright white and cream.

Irene sent me this photo (below) as I sat in my car on the ferry on the way to Port Alberni on Friday afternoon so I decided the only way to make the creamy chair work was to distract the eye from the cream by repeating the denim blue on the sofa and loveseat on a cushion and adding an orange throw.

Then I repeated the cream two more times, I’ll show you what I did next.

Aimee's Living Room - During

Irene, her husband Kevin and a team of volunteers were in town three weeks ago on a weekend after all the IKEA furniture had arrived to assemble it and position everything in place.

We received five art prints and framing donations from Canadian Art Prints which Irene chose with her sister’s input. Irene had one of them sitting on the mantle while they waited for me to arrive to hang all the artwork as well as arrange all the lamps and accessories I had been sourcing.

Friday morning, I walked around my house, poked through my storage room and filled my car with vases, random faux flowers I was not currently using, frames, and all kinds of miscellaneous accessories I could easily spare. My SUV ended up so full I was barely able to add the extra pillows and lighting I picked up from a big box store in Nanaimo which is where the ferry landed and on my way to Port Alberni.

Fireplace Mantle

When I arrived, I replaced the art Irene had plunked on the mantle with this wavy, beachy one that seemed fresher and more like real art to me than the other one. Also, I liked that it had a dark frame to repeat the shelving on either side of the fireplace.

Irene added the single shelf on the left to balance the TV on the right side.

Bookshelf Styling

I overnighted at a beautifully decorated B&B called The Sequoia House and the couple that owned it told me about an 18,000 sq ft. thrift store called SOS in Parksville that they go every week. They showed me some fabulous lamps they had picked up for a song among many other furniture pieces, etc.

SailboatArtwork, candlestick and mini vase from SOS Thrift Store.

They said during dinner parties they play a game where they go around the table and everyone lists their finds from this thrift store.

I moaned that there’s really nothing that great in Vancouver — we have very few antique/vintage stores in this town. I speculated that it’s because housing is so expensive here that once people buy a home, they end up mortgage broke and don’t have a lot of discretionary income left for furnishings and home decor.

The stores that seem to do well in this town are the get-a-TV-with-your-sofa, big box places.

Green & Blue

I coordinated the books to relate to the vase.

It’s the reason why HomeSense is so big here. I have been in many high-end homes where the homeowner has walked me through their entire house pointing to all their HomeSense finds.

Anyway, Ron mentioned that the reason garage sales and thrifting is so big on Vancouver island is because so many people move there to retire which means they have houses full of furniture when they pass on.

Whimsical Teapot

Found this whimsical teapot without a lid for $2.99 so I substituted a fake succulent.

I texted Irene at 6:45 am Saturday morning and told her I would be there at 8:15 am to pick her up for a trip to the SOS Thrift Store!


Irene & Emily on our way to SOS

We hopped into her sister’s van so that we’d have lots of room in case we found something great and Emily came with us.

LR 2


Irene said she had fantasized about finding someone to build a window seat in the bay window, but that didn’t happen.

Living Room window

Instead, we found a creamy yellow upholstered, skirted, half moon ottoman that was perfect (above), for $44.99 at the thrift store. The fake peace lily was $4.99 to add a hit of green and fill in the spot beside the ottoman.

Target End Table

This little end table I picked up at Target on sale for $23 a few weeks ago. The little cream whimsical vase reminds me of Aladdin’s lamp. Like a genie will come out at any moment!

And for this family, through all of you, magic happened here this weekend!

Oh, and you can’t see it here but there’s a creamy inlay on the top of the end table that relates to the cream in the chair. Along with the creamy ottoman, we made it work in the end!


This piece of art (above) was Aimee’s. I loved it and thought it would be perfect in such a visual spot in the living room.  The baskets and chevron throw are from HomeSense.

Ottoman Vignette

Loved the permanent white, faux roses on the tray. As you’ve figured out by now, I am not a snob when it comes to fake flowers. If they look real and you know you’re not someone who buys fresh flowers every week, why not?

Throw them out the second they look old and dusty. You’ll still have saved a bundle buying real.

SquirrelThe little acorn container also came from the SOS Thrift Store. It was perfect on this little corner IKEA table. I loved how it repeated the natural colour in the basket I placed below the table.

LR 3


Here’s the other side of the living room where you can see the split level entry.


I chose all the colours via photos online.


The candlesticks, plant pot and basket were from IKEA. The wood carving and lamp came from HomeSense. The two tiny teardrop vases from the SOS Thrift store.

Orange vases



This is basically what Pale Avocado looks like when the sun isn’t shining through the amber, tinted windows. We found this cute little chair at SOS for $14.99 (and the basket on the stairs). The art was donated from Canadian Art Prints.

As you can see, I chose to totally ignore the bad, mostly solid looking, pink-beige entry tile. This worked because the tile didn’t have three or more colours in it. If this tile had been multi-coloured like the kitchen linoleum, we would have had no choice but to choose a colour to work with it.


Before (Dining room)

Aimees Dining room

After (Dining room table and chairs, curtains, light fixture from IKEA).

Here’s the dining room photo not taken at the same angle as the “Before” shot.

Does the sunburst mirror look familiar? I had it in the guest room in my last house but as soon as my new headboard arrived (pic here on Instagram) it had to go.

I love how it visually fills up this whole wall and brings it to life!

Dining Room vignette

The sideboard we found from SOS Thrift store for $174.99. Also the lamp for $14.99 and the candlestick, $8.99.

The art above the sideboard was donated from Canadian Art Prints.

Yellow & Green


Upstairs Main Bathroom Before

The painters who donated their time did not have time to paint the main bathroom and we really disliked the bleak muted purple in this space. Then, while walking around the house, placing art in the best possible spot, we tried these two pieces donated by my sister, Elizabeth.

Upstairs Bathroom

They were perfect! Covered up lots of wall space because they were so big and picked up the wall colour! Then the $5.00 sea shell on a hand towel and a starfish brought from my home. You can see the second piece reflected in the mirror.

So many homeowners do bathroom renovations without even thinking about the style of the home and what the rest of the house looks like. See the square, modern faucet (repeated in the shower)? So wrong for this house and doesn’t relate to anything in the house.

Aimee 2

Before (Aimee’s bedroom)

One of the biggest transformations was the master bedroom. Officially, this space was another family room but because all the rest of the bedrooms were for the kids, she turned this room into her bedroom.

Aimees Master Bedroom

The wall on the right she built herself with bead board! On the other side, there are two desks which make up her office with an adjoining small two-piece bathroom.

See the IKEA Kivik sofa? That came from my house, because this $600 sofa we bought when we moved in two years ago, stopped being a good placeholder in my family room a few months ago. In a bedroom though, it works great! So this sofa didn’t cost us anything (technically).

Aimees Sofa

This set of four folding tables (existing) slid into another end table which didn’t look good as one piece but when grouped together as a set, looked so great.

Two lamps on either side of this sofa would have been perfect, but it wasn’t in the budget. And of course I would say that, since I’m obsessed with lighting.

See the navy throw on the chaise? A great way to keep it clean since there’s nothing on the end of a chaise but feet!

Guildford Green

The green is HC-116 Guildford Green. Love it with the blue and white. Are you impressed that the bed is the same shade of purple as the existing carpet ; ) ; )

Blue Dresser

So the art from the living room ended up here. Lovely with the green walls and the white gourd lamp is perfection.

Bath 2


Aimees Bathroom

Another two pieces of art donated by my sister Elizabeth. The candle sconce I picked up from the SOS Thrift Store for $5.99. And we repeated the same green here.


This low, shallow vase (above) I found from a church yard sale in our neighbourhood for 25 cents. I added some sand and cut up a branch of succulents.

Irene, her Mom and I were on the 7:30 PM ferry last night. Tired but so happy with the result!

I’ll show you the transformation of her nieces and nephews next!

Thanks again to all of you for your help. There’s nothing that makes me happier than creating spaces that feel like home. Thanks for making this possible for Aimee and her family!

Love you all! xoxo Maria

Related posts:

Update on Aimee’s (Pink Beige) House

The Enchanting World of Atmosphere

The Rule of More

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  1. Very inspiring how this all came together! So many great stories in each piece here to reflect on with joy. The bedroom transformation is just incredible!! Beautiful warm joy filled home. So happy for Aimee and her family. Bless you and Irene for doing this!

  2. SO happy! (even to be a small part of this.) You and Irene and everyone did an awesome job – of course. All the lives that touched this project are enriched thanks to your spark that started this. Blessings to this family.
    (Still wondering if the 6th child is ok…)

  3. That is just amazing! I love seeing how you were able to work with colors that would have utterly frustrated me. All the explanations are so helpful. This family will be emotionally impacted by this in a very positive way – that is wonderful. I hope you do this again at some point and I will definitely contribute. It was very generous of you and moving to read.

  4. Wow, Great Job Maria and Irene. You have totally transformed this home and for such a deserving family. Kudos to everyone who donated. I love that you pulled together such an amazing space without breaking the bank. It goes to show that almost anyone could use this as a model to
    create a space for any budget. Congratulations

  5. And now it’s a home! Bravo everyone! I can’t imagine the joy and jubilation that is occurring under that roof! Blessings to all of you.

  6. “Decorating Angels”—perfect description! This is love in action! What a joy for not only Aimee and her kids, but for the two (4 or 6+) of you! GIVING of your time , talents and care is really the best feeling in the world, isn’t it?
    So proud of you guys!!!
    There is a proverb that says “The sleep of the laborer is sweet.” Sleep tight & sweet tonight….Irene & Maria :).

  7. Wow, now that I know that Maria shops at the SOS, I will definitely shop there with a designer eye!!
    Great job!!

  8. Quality is taking things from thrift stores, donations, and that everyday store around the corner and making them sing together. This is beautiful. The new master bedroom is wonderful.

    The entryway walls that turn blazing yellow make me smile. Once a day they erupt from a pale and lovely peaceful green to a scintillating brilliance — just to remind you the sun is always shining somewhere. Such a transformation should be written into a fairy tale.


  9. Really nice job all around! Dont remember seeing the story of Aimee and why she needed this makeover but was generous of you Maria and Irene. One question…what was the starting point or inspiration for the master? The bedspread/duvet? Just wondering cuz light yellowish green is not usually used w Navy Blue. Usually its a brighter cleaner green. Just wondering. Maybe the homeowner just loves navy since it was also the main accent or secondary color in the LR.

  10. Maria,
    I love that you point out little details that show HOW you tie together pieces that might otherwise not quite work, in terms of colors and style. I also really appreciate your practicality in showing how and when to ignore fixtures that aren’t in budget to replace, and that even you sometimes have to deal with a wall color not working the way you envisioned. You all did a beautiful transformation!

  11. I am so happy to see this beautiful design put together! Thank you for allowing us to participate in this miracle! I am sure Aimee and her family will enjoy this blessing for many years. It is their time to thrive, and now they can!!