Love where you live. Sign up for our newsletter

Styling to Sell: A Living Room Makeover for the Original Curbly House

by on May 10, 2017

I have some pretty huge professional goals this year, and one of them is about redirecting the Curbly ship into new waters. Specifically, our whole team is committed to pouring all we have into creating original content (projects, roundups, and tutorials) and taking on more room makeovers. I believe in the power of transformation, so I’m committing myself to it.

We’re beginning this theme of transformation by revealing a little secret: for the past few weeks, we’ve preparing to sell our old house! You guys: I’m so excited about this! This house was our first home (the original Curbly House, which we’d been using as a vacation rental); it’s the home where we brought our newborn children, and interestingly, it’s the one we never talked much about. Today I want to give a little background of the house, as well as our efforts to get it in tip-top shape for whomever lives there next.

This post is in partnership with Shaw Floors, makers of the Life Happens line of carpet. This carpet has a fully waterproof backing (seriously, they even built a swimming pool out of it), and incredible stain resistance, all the way down to the bottom of the yarn.  


A black and white logo containing the words "Shaw Floors."

How Did We Get Here?

Bruno bought this house in 2003, at the age of 21, when we had just started dating. Pause to think about that for a minute. He was a baby, looking for housing with a group of college friends, and there wasn’t much available. So, his smart, generous father helped him buy his first house. What happened next wasn’t necessarily pretty, but it was pretty smart. Bruno moved into a quiet, residential neighborhood, blocks from the University of Minnesota, with a couple good friends. I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled to welcome these young bucks onto their quaint street!

Curbly  Living Room Before
Can you believe this is not a true, original ‘before’ photo? I painted a room goldenrod and used olive green as an accent color. I was 23 years old. I was fairly obsessed with the house in the ‘The Royal Tenenbaums”, and committed to painting each room a bold color. I beg your forgiveness.


The Royal Tenenbaums' Home Interior
My Inspiration, The Tenenbaum House
Production Design: David Wasco, Art Direction: Carl Sprague
Photo from Apartment Therapy


As roommates graduated and began moving out, I moved in. The house became considerably cleaner (with fewer musical instruments lying around), and we began tackling a long list of improvements. That included lots of painting, yard work, wood refinishing and several sewage-related projects.

Curbly  Living Room Before
I’m not sure ‘Sea Blue’ is an improvement over goldenrod, but our new sofa, chair, and room orientation sure were. This picture was taken approximately 6-months after the last one, so there’s hope my tastes were improving.


We got married in 2008, and had our little girl in 2009. After both of these life-altering events, we returned to our cozy little house.

Curbly House  Before
Things are starting to look up in this photo. A toned-down paint color, an attempt at styling cavernous open-shelving. If you ignore the highwater curtains, there’s a glimmer of promise.


Curbly  Living Room Before
Painting the fireplace was a stroke of genius. Painstaking and an enormous task, but worth the toil.


When our daughter was a few months old, we remodeled the kitchen and bathroom, and added radiant heat to the living room.

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After


Smiling baby sits in a chair on the floor of a room that is being reconstructed.


A young girl with her hands in the air and six fingers pointing up, she is sittng on a yellow booster seat in a kitchen.

… after.


In 2012 we had our son, bought a new house (the Curbly House), and in a series of insane decisions, moved out when he was just 10 days old. Adding to the craziness, instead of putting the old house on the market, we decided to keep it as a rental (becoming landlords, because we lost our ever-loving minds and seemed to believe we didn’t have enough on our plates).

Curbly House living room before

Before …

A living room with neutral colored furniture and bright, airy windows.

… after.


In 2016, after a series of wonderful tenants, we decided to try something new – redoing the house (hello, content!) and briefly trying our hands at managing the house as a vacation rental. We began by painting the exterior, to make it more charming and welcoming, and then set out to do a series of improvements, beginning with the living room.

Newly Painted Exterior - Poised Taupe


Why sell it now?

Great question! We’ve had wonderful tenants, and never had any problem renting the house. But renting out a house you’ve lived in is a strange thing, because the house automatically stops feeling like your own. Plus, having long-term tenants in there makes it hard to get improvements done. Knowing the house was aging, and due for a series of upgrades, we decided to take a break from leasing it so we could get them done. In the process, the house began to feel like ours again. We were ready to put work into it and document its new iteration.

We came to the conclusion that it was time to hand off this house to another family, and we wanted to leave it in the best condition possible before we put it on the market. So we began thinking about how to make our space special and functional.

While focusing on the aesthetics is all well and good, we knew we also had to come up with an intentional, practical, functional design. We wanted durable paint finishes on the walls, dependable furniture and decorations (we wanted to list the home fully staged), and new, traffic-friendly carpet in the living room.

That’s why we were thrilled to partner with Shaw Floors for this project. They have a stunning line of carpet called Life Happens, which has a LifeGuard waterproof backing and stain and soil protection that keeps the carpet fresh and clean. Not only are the carpets designs and colors beautiful, but they’re also designed for heavy traffic, eliminate odors, and make it easy to maintain a healthier, cleaner space. Perfect for a family home!

Different types of carpet ranging in different colors.
Just a few of the options in the Life Happens carpet line from Shaw Floors.


What makes a good real estate listing?

When we made the decision to sell, we began thinking about our top priorities and the things that made our first home a good candidate. Here are some of our reasons:


  • Great location. Our house is nicely located close to the University of Minnesota, the Luther Seminary, and it’s equidistant to both downtowns (Saint Paul and Minneapolis). Being close to public transportation is also a big advantage. Plus it’s in a quiet, lovely residential neighborhood.
  • An open floor plan. Our house naturally has a fairly open floor plan. We wanted to be sure we choose beautiful, durable, cozy flooring for these rooms. We initially looked into adding hardwood flooring throughout, but it became clear that carpeting was far more cost-effective, especially when we knew we could use the Life Happens line, which is heavy-duty, durable, and beautiful.
  • Accessible and welcoming. Our house has a naturally calm and cozy feeling, and we wanted to embrace that. A fussy house that feels like a museum is impractical and intimidating. We knew we wanted to bring in a combination of vintage and new, quality furniture, comfortable beds, and decor that felt intentional and relaxing. Not pristine and haughty.
  • Well cared for. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that when you love your space and take care of it, that practice is contagious. People are drawn to beauty, and they want to preserve it. When your space is thoughtful and intentional, others want to take part in it. That’s a beautiful thing.
  • Loved and lived in. I also have to admit right here that I love putzing with small details. I love the thins that make a space feel more home-like: flowers, candles, books all over the place, blankets, and cozy bedding. I’m a sucker for every inch of it, and I think people walking through our home will notice and appreciate that.

So, there you have it. A full history of the house and a plan for where we’re headed. Next week, we’ll delve into the process of selecting a carpet, which in our case, set the palette for the room’s complete transformation. We’ll get into the design choices we considered, and give you a few peeks inside the evolving room.



This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Shaw Floors. The opinions and text are all mine.

A table has a book, coffee cup, brush, ruler and small plant on it.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *