This DIYed Missouri House’s Style Is European Cottage Meets MCM

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Name: Abby Luebbert, my husband Ian, and our 1-year-old Australian Shepherds, Denali and Dakoda!
Location: Springfield, Missouri
Type of home: House
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My husband Ian and I are by no means fussy people, but we do take our home design and decorations quite seriously. When we we our home in December 2020, we came in knowing that we were purchased super excited to put our finishing touches on the place, make some upgrades, and create our first home ever together. What we didn’t expect is that despite the home being normal when we toured it, the entire house (fireplace included!) was painted gray-blue when we got the keys after finalizing the sale. The paint job was so abrasive that after we picked our mouths up off the ground, we honestly just had a good laugh at how weird our new home situation was.

We used our new-blue gray home as a blank canvas to cosmetically renovate the entire space. Our home’s design choices really came down to a compromise between the two of us. Ian likes moody colors and lots of rustic touches, and while I like these features too, I’m also really into mid-century modern antiques and style. More importantly, I ADORE contrast, and in every sense possible related to home design. So we met somewhere in the middle, and decided to go for a blended European cottage overall aesthetic with pops of MCM throughout the rooms. Between the natural textures and softness brought on by cottage design and the boldness and structure of MCM, I was hooked and ready to go!

To start the design process, we mapped out how we planned to use each room in the house, and then came up with a coordinating vibe that we would want that room to carry. And while all rooms in the house needed to follow the overall European eclectic cottage aesthetic, we were really excited to lean into our closed floor plan and make each room unique. After settling on a general idea for each room, we began to earnest with designing the large kitchen and dining room space. The space as a whole is surrounded by windows and looks out onto our backyard, and we knew that we wanted to create a space with a feeling that could hold its own, but also blend well with the nature and neighbors and harken back to the cottage -style kitchens that we love so much.

One of the most prominent features in our kitchen/dining area are the ceiling beams, which had unfortunately been painted white when we moved in… what a waste of beautiful wood! We knew that if we could figure out a way to get the beams back into their natural state, they would become an excellent touch for our cottage vibe. Considering that they had already been painted (possibly multiple times), normal staining wasn’t an option. We initially tried to chemically strip the beams, but quickly found out that there was simply too much paint. So after lots of research, and a little bit of blind faith, we opted to try using gel stain to mimic the natural grain of wood. Success! We bought one teeny can of Minwax gel stain in Walnut, and were able to brush apply the stain to the beams. While you might be able to tell that the beams are not real wood by looking up close, the gel stain did a good enough job that they seem real from floor level.

To opt for the most personalized kitchen, we repainted the kitchen cabinet bases Sherwin-Williams’ Mattasaurus Rex, and the uppers Sherwin-Williams’ Creamy. While we had considered using a more subdued green color for the bases, we opted for the more blue-green/turquoise color to really contrast with the existing walnut flooring (and to bring a bit of that MCM back into play). To contrast with, yet complement, the cabinetry, we installed natural river pebble backsplash (Solistone Alor Crystal Tile) to bring more of an organic feel back into the space. I was really nervous about this piece because although we had gotten a sample, I had only seen the tile installed in a bathroom application… but we love it and think it turned out looking great!

To really tie the design together, we replaced the cabinet handles with brushed brass MCM-style bar handles from Wayfair and found 36 antique brass cabinet hinges at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore for $4 (yes, you read that right!). To cap off the decoration for the space, I asked my grandma to sew a custom red gingham valance to add an additional cottage feel. Because we went pretty bold with the kitchen, we decided the keep the adjoining dining room color palette a little more subdued by simply mixing and matching various wood tones and natural textiles in our furniture against the subtle backdrop of Sherwin-Williams “Creamy.” To achieve this look, we found an amazing deal on an MCM style walnut wood table from Ashley Furniture, and added in cream/gray linen blend end-cap chairs along with faux-leather MCM slope dining chairs. To frame in the room a little bit, we also sourced and refinished some furniture to add visual interest and functionality to the space.

After many hours of searching, we were lucky enough to snag an amazing antique MCM credenza that we now use for a buffet and vignette feature. To add further storage to the room, we also spray painted an old dresser in Rustoleum’s matte black paint and then added in antique-style crystal knobs and aged brass half moon pulls from Hobby Lobby. We topped the room off with my cookbook collection as a focal point in the corner, along with a locally handmade pallet wood wine rack, a French country chair to act as a wine glass serviette, and lots of indoor plants to tie in with our natural motifs. After wrapping up the kitchen area, we focused next on creating a living room with a “wow-factor” that we could use to enjoy spending time together or hang out with guests. To achieve this, we planned to paint the wall behind the fireplace in Sherwin-Williams’ Cavern Clay for a bold and bright focal point, and then complement the focal wall with a limestone-wash fireplace for visual contrast.

Considering that our fireplace has been painted blue (whomp), I was presented with another design dilemma… how to get the fireplace to look limewashed. Once again after lots of consideration, I decided to repaint the fireplace white (yes, another coat of paint!), and then took an electric sander and whittled back layers of paint until I was left with a lime wash type finish that perfectly complements the Cavern Clay wall. To decorate this room, we snagged an MCM linen blend cream couch from Facebook Marketplace (but originally from West Elm), added in two armchairs, and antique Chinoiserie panel paintings with an antique mirror to bring extra light into the space. After working on the house non-stop for weeks straight, we rounded out our design plan with finishing our bedroom. We wanted the space to feel very relaxing, calm, and even a bit sensual (LOL I feel weird saying that but its true!).

We chose Sherwin-Williams’ Emerging Taupe to complement our rustic wood bed frame, and added in a cream linen bedspread, an antique rocking chair, and other earthy decorations to bring the natural feel into the room. We added an extra layer of cottage flair into to the space with antique lace curtains, botanical prints, and a faux fur throw.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t be afraid to use a lot of color! Although the trends are turning, using mainly neutrals in the home is still mainstream. But if we’re being honest, how many of us would ever say that white is our favorite color? None of us, right?! So pick your favorite colors and go for it. Your house is yours alone to love, and adding in bold colors with paint or decor is one of the easiest changes you can make to let your personality shine through.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

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