Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Getting 1984 Out of the ‘Burbs

Our realtor clearly thought I was nuts.

No, I really do wanna see that 1984 Muirfield house—the one with flower wallpaper, pastel blue paint, hunter green laminate countertops, and carpet wrapped stair treads.

To me, it screamed “make me pretty!”

I walked from room to room, eyes wide with potential. Ten minutes into the tour and I was already drawing up my remodel plan. Thankfully I have a husband that has faith and patience in my creative vision. He must have seen the glimmer in my eyes because as soon as we got in the car he said, “let’s make an offer.”

What I loved most about this house were the things that we could not change: backyard view, overall layout, high vaulted ceilings in almost every room, and a gorgeous cedar plank ceiling. Everything else? All changeable. Perhaps that can partly be blamed on being surrounded by digital retouchers that can remove a kitchen island with a few clicks. But, it would be fun!


Actually, to me it was.

I found a new passion in planning cabinet placement, shopping for light fixtures, selecting tile combinations, brainstorming with contractors, and seeing it come to life on a daily basis. In those five months I’m pretty sure I shopped at Sherwin Williams more than I did the grocery store. Painting. Lots, and lots of painting. Oh, and did I mention I was pregnant at the time?

Prior to moving to Columbus, my husband and I lived in a charming 1910 row home in Baltimore, Maryland. Just thinking of the exposed brick walls makes me homesick. So we wanted to bring some of the character from our Baltimore City abode into this 1984 house; update to make it more functional for us and truly make it ours.

No doubt we miss our city life days, but we’ve been able to add an urban touch to this house in the ‘burbs, and truth be told, we’re really not that far from all Columbus has to offer.

I have to believe there are other young couples/families out there that are wanting to make the move to the ‘burbs, but get frustrated with the 1980s selection of houses on the market. And going with a new build usually means moving further away from the core of the city. So far away.

But there was hidden character with the bones of this 1980s house—all it needed was our personal design style to make it ours.

So, to all the house hunters out there: look past the flower wallpaper and ugly carpet, look at the bones of the house and get creative with ways you can add your personal touch to make it a home that is exactly what you want.

And to all the urbanities (as I used to be one), the ‘burbs aren’t that bad. You can design your home in a way that adds character and charm you’ll love it for years—just think of all the square footage you’ll gain!

Pro Tip: Product design over price tag

IKEA hacks are flooding Pinterest, but really all you need to do is look for design that matches your style. In our main level half bath, I paired a $600 pedestal sink with a $20 IKEA mirror. My thinking? The sink needs to last forever, the mirror I wanted to be able to change in five years with the trends and not feel guilty about the expense. But really what it comes down to is that I loved the design of the sink, and I loved the design of the mirror; so to me, they paired together perfectly.

Don’t over think it. Keep an open mind to all stores and all brands. Pick your investment pieces and spend less on accents to keep your overall look fresh.