Before and After: A Retro Home Gets a Dramatic Makeover

Julia Millay Walsh

DOSSIER: NAME: Melanie Bromley. TRADE: Chief News Correspondent for E! VIBE: Fresh, colourful, and clean. ABODE: A renovated three-bedroom, two-bath house in Studio City, Los Angeles, CA.

Most buyers would run the other way if they visited a home with a disco room -- complete with red velvet curtains and a disco ball. But Melanie Bromley, Chief News Correspondent for E!, saw a sparkly silver lining to its American Hustle-esque vibe. "The house has a nice history to it," she says. "The couple who lived here definitely had fun. I mean . . . there was a jacuzzi and a red vinyl bar. They partied in this house." Moreover, she wouldn't let a few renovations stand in her way. From sourcing materials to project management, Bromley took on the renovation entirely by herself. "I don't even think I knew to get a general contractor," she says. "I went about it in a very strategic method, just identifying what I needed to have done and calling someone to do it." The downside to going it alone, Bromley says, "is that I probably did it out of order. A contractor would have helped me organised the time."


When Bromley purchased her three-bedroom, two-bath midcentury modern home in Studio City, Los Angeles, the previous owners -- the home's sole occupants -- had been there for 53 years. "It looked like it had been frozen in time," she says of the house which was likely decorated in the '50s and again in the '70s. Wallpaper coated nearly every wall (including a silver floral design in one very pink bathroom), astroturf decked the patio; and mustard and avocado were the colours of choice.

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"Cool Aqua" #2056-40, From $37, Benjamin Moore "Coromandel Wallpaper" #P446/04, Price Upon Request, Designers Guild Grayson Chair, $899, Crate & Barrel


Going into it, Bromley planned to renovate the kitchen and bath, install a new roof, and of course, make cosmetic updates. But as things go, "it was a bigger renovation job than I expected," she says. "Only when you open up the walls do you see what needs to be done." Bromley ended up needing to replace the plumbing and the electrical, among other things. "One time I cried, and I thought, I don't know if I can continue," she admits. "I felt like I'd been through a war."

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Papier-Mâché Animal Sculpture, $90, West Elm Midcentury Tray, $44, West Elm Ranarp Floor Lamp, $60, IKEA


Bromley, who's very dedicated to her job, shopped everything online to make the renovation as time- and cost-effective as possible. "Google Shopping was absolutely a Godsend," she says. "It became this incredible resource that I would literally spend hours on. I found subway tiles for just 22 cents a tile -- and the $11 tiles on my shower floor were selling elsewhere for $19." Spending her budget primarily on the renovation, Bromley shopped affordable retailers like IKEA, West Elm, and even Urban Outfitters for furniture and décor, splurging on more permanent fixtures, like faucets and taps from Restoration Hardware. And one of her favourite pieces, a round marble and brass coffee table, was left behind by the previous owners.

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Arteriors Jana Brass and Marble Adjustable Desk Lamp, $648, Lamps Plus Kenza Moroccan Pouf, $205, Lulu & Georgia Midcentury Desk, $599, West Elm


As stressful as home renovations can be, Bromley says she's definitely been bitten by the bug. "The process of doing it yourself is so thrilling," she says. "It was fascinating to teach myself. I don't know if I would do it differently."

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Copper Shade Pendant, $425, Y Living Riviera White Low Windsor Side Chair, $299, Crate & Barrel Mosaic Triangles Jewellery Box, $49, West Elm
Want to see more inspiring makeovers? Visit our Before and Afters board on Pinterest! Photographs: Aaron Fallon

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