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A Modern Makeover for a Traditional Maine Cottage

See how "flip master" and budding interior designer Tyler Karu transformed an old, rickety Maine cottage into a smart and soulful home. It's a complete makeover that retains the essence of the property.

Tyler Karu took to flipping houses full time when the economy took a dive. When she started renovating this charming 1920s cottage in Maine, she decided that a mix of old and new accents would best suit the space. A few months in, she realized that she was actually going to move in for a few months, so she decided to add a few customized details to make the space feel like her own.


In the end, she sold it to a young family from New York City, who was thrilled to find a home with both character and attention to design detail.

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The exterior of the house before.

This makeover project was a full-scale gut renovation. "No piece of Sheetrock, drafty window, or stained carpet was left remaining," says Karu.

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The living room before.

In only 5 months, she revamped every square inch of the property, from structural improvements to insulation, plumbing, and reworking the floor plan to increase functionality.

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The living room after.

Karu wanted to add an element of the past to the home, so she opted for a mix of old and new. "I wanted to make the home as functional as possible," she says, "while adding elements that looked like they were original to the home." This helped maintain the cozy feeling that a cottage should emit.

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The kitchen before.

The layout of the kitchen was great, so a full makeover was not needed. The counter opens up to the living room, which is ideal for a family and for casual entertaining.

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The kitchen after.

Karu kept the general structure and layout of the kitchen the same but installed some much-needed updates. The hand-glazed taupe subway-tile backsplash and the reclaimed-wood peninsula countertop made a big impact in the relatively small kitchen. She also added some vintage design details (that were sprinkled throughout the house), like the gorgeous lighting fixtures and the reclaimed kitchen stools, which created a cohesive mix of old and new materials.

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She continued to mix old and new in the dining room. The centered circular table allows for easy maneuvering and is perfect for casual family dinners.

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Bedroom before.

Each bedroom got its own makeover complete with new windows and period architectural details. The carpets were removed and the walls fixed up and repainted. She also reworked the floor plan, and managed to add a much-needed en suite bathroom adjacent to the master bedroom, bringing the bathroom count to three.

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The bedroom after.

To create a cozy room perfect for sleeping, Karu chose to paint this bedroom a beautiful shade of deep blue.

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Second bedroom before.

The second bedroom had excellent lighting, but Karu wanted even bigger windows to really brighten it up.

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With larger windows and a fresh shade of gray on the walls, the bedroom feels so light and airy. It's the perfect room for someone who loves to wake up to bright sunshine every morning. The floating nightstand creates balance and helps direct your eye up toward the window.

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Bathroom before.

Everything in this bathroom was outdated. The color scheme, the fixtures, and the flimsy countertop all had to go.

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Bathroom fixtures after.

For the bathroom, Karu chose to go bold and modern. She really allowed herself to make the space unique to her, despite wanting to appeal to as many buyers as possible. "Because I knew I would be living there for a period of time, I added pieces that I wanted in my environment," she says.


The hard work and keen eye for design paid off in the end. "I was very happy to sell it to buyers who appreciated the design. It almost felt as though I unintentionally designed it with them in mind!"


The moral of the story: Sometimes sticking to your instincts is the way to go.


Interior design by Tyler Karu, Landing Design