Laurel Libby gives her Auburn bungalow a sensible makeover.
TEXT BY VIRGINIA M. WRIGHT
PHOTOGRAPHS BY HEIDI KIRN
From the December 2019 issue of Down East magazine
The kitchen “island”? A holdover from college days. The living room’s mod credenza? Facebook Marketplace. The swirly blue wallpaper? Marden’s (and it’s not really wallpaper). “I can’t think of a piece in this house that we bought from an upscale store,” Laurel Libby says. “We’ve got lots of Ikea, lots of Craigslist.” Laurel and her husband, John, have opted for what she calls an “in-between” makeover of their 1949 Auburn bungalow. With five kids, four of them under 11, she says it makes sense to wait before investing in expensive furnishings. Plus, the Libbys haven’t decided whether the house is their home for the long haul. “This is an intermediate makeover,” Laurel says. “No gutting. Just paint, paint, paint everywhere.”
Among the Libbys’ first tasks was removing carpeting throughout the house. Laurel, an interior decorator, made this hallway hopscotch board with fabric squares and many coats of poly. In the kitchen (above), the Libbys pulled up several layers of vinyl flooring, exposing the subfloor and transforming it with paint and stencil. They updated the original cabinets by removing the doors (the color is Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter). John, a physical therapist, indulges his artistic side on the chalkboard (the kids like drawing on it too).
Auburn residents for about 10 years, the Libbys moved just half a mile for this 2,084-square-foot house, which has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. “The price was right, and we love the neighborhood,” Laurel says. “It’s just seven minutes to school.” The yard is big enough to accommodate several raised vegetable beds and a few chickens.
The Libbys spend a lot of time together in this large, sun-drenched room overlooking the backyard. It’s outfitted for play. Besides the teepee, there’s a large bookshelf jam-packed with children’s books. That’s Sophia, 10, coloring at the coffee table. With her are, from left, Laurel; Emily, 18; Dawson, 5; Ilse, 3; John; and in the teepee, Jude, 8.
A niche in the second-floor bedroom is a perfect fit for Ilse’s crib. “Upstairs is what we fell in love with, because it has all these nooks and crannies and angled ceilings,” Laurel says. This room, which Ilse shares with Sophia, is painted Almost Pink by Benjamin Moore.
Jude reads in the bedroom he shares with Dawson. He’s sitting on a soft, shaggy flokati rug that was a steal at $130 on Amazon. “I didn’t want to spend a million dollars on a rug that who-knows-what bodily fluids would get on it,” Laurel says, laughing. The play kitchen and cube bookshelf are from Ikea.
No wall separates the living room from the dining room, which makes for a bright, spacious feel but adds to the challenge of placing furniture. The Libbys also had to consider a picture window, doorways, a radiator, and a fireplace, and ultimately decided to put the sofa against the latter. The blue accent wall is covered in fabric affixed with liquid starch. The rug is from Rugs USA, and the credenza is a Facebook Marketplace find. “Nothing in this house is very precious,” Laurel says. “It’s very kid-centric.”