Our Tiny Coastal Maine Retreat: Nautical Style on a Budget

When we bought our coastal Maine home, we knew the apartment was going to be a huge asset… a perfect mother-in-law apartment and fun place for our guests to stay. This space definitely underwent the biggest transformation in the whole house… and now is the asset we knew it would be.

We’re pretty sure this apartment was originally put together very rushed… the reasons are pretty sad, it was put together for the original owner’s daughter when she was diagnosed with cancer as a place for her to stay so her mother could care for her. Fortunately, it has a happy ending and she did recover. The rushed nature did show and  everything was very unfinished down the walls… which were just primer.   The floors are not installed well peel and stick with butting joints and different dye lots.

It was very bland, but despite all this, I could see that it had a lot of hidden potential… starting with a kitchen, albeit pretty boring. There was no storage, the countertops were just several pieces of wood hodge-podged together and were in rough shape. There was no storage space, the microwave worked, but was extremely heavy, dated and not very attractive. The stove, while it definitely has some vintage charm, filled up the apartment with smoke that smelled like a skunk. It was really bad.

In the above picture, you can see the butting joints of the peel and stick flooring. It had a nice wall divider for privacy to the bedroom area (which actually is quite large and comfortably fit a king size bed).

As for the bathroom, it was equally bad. Now I am not sure if this was actually built to be a bathroom vanity, because I am very short, but this was kid-sized.

The shower was about the best thing this room had going for it.

The flooring was very boring 1980s that had a utility knife cut in it and had started to curl up in several areas.

Now… are you ready to see what we did to it? I think the amount of money we spent will be the most shocking based on how bad it was before.

Let’s start with the kitchen.  This room finally was completed a few days prior to our moving! The paint was basically still drying as we pulled away in the moving van. The first thing I did was paint, paint, paint which is the number one tip in my eBook 21 Ways to Add Value to Your Home Now! (link on how to get this book for free coming very soon), and you can see why. It never ceases to amaze me the power that paint can have in a room. I painted the cabinets in a navy blue cabinet enamel that I got in the Oops section for $2!! **Side note- Prior to painting the cabinets I did add a little bit of trim to the wood just left of the stove which hides the apartment’s water heater to make it look like the other cabinet doors.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the blue/gray wall paint, as I left the paint swatch in Maine. On the swatch it looked a little grayer than it ended up on the wall, but I decided to keep it because I felt like it looked okay.

The biggest upgrade happened when we added the White G granite countertops, which only ended up being around $800 including the under-mounted sink. This was huge because it was barely more than professionally installed laminate counters. We got them at the same time as our counters in the main kitchen.  “Hmm…. should I get granite for the same price as laminate?? Ummm… yes!”

The faucet was brought up from our main kitchen after we upgraded to a one hole unit down there… so it was free!

I wanted to hang some curtains to hide the trash can, but due to time constraints, some things had to be pushed off until later.

You will notice that we got a new apartment sized stove that we got an incredible deal on at a Surplus store in the area… $350. Believe it or not, the tiny stoves can run just as much, if not more, than their full-size counterparts. The fridge was the original one and works great.

I added open shelves with a beadboard backsplash to add to the coastal cottage-y feel and for the price. I probably have around $125 into these shelves.

The little red microwave was a vintage reproduction that I had salivated over for months before finding one on an online yard sale site for $20. Talk about the law of attraction!! The red toaster was purchased at Walmart on Black Friday for like $10.

The dining table was purchased at a yard sale for $40 and painted out white and the two dining chairs were purchased at a yard sale for $1 each and painted red.

The red cafe curtain was a remnant purchased for a couple of dollars and the rod was less than $5 at Walmart. The rug was on clearance at RugUSA.com for $30.

I don’t know if you have noticed, but the top portion of the wall is just beadboard that I placed above the original molding that was already there and a bit of additional trim… less than $60 for this feature.

All the accessories are pretty much leftovers repurposed in this room and from the Goodwill except for the Lobster sign up top, which was a splurge off Etsy.com at $75 and was customized with our name and tied the whole color scheme together.

I painted the door the same red as the chairs to give it a little personality. The china hutch I got at a yard sale… you’re going to want to sit down for this one… $2. Yep, 2 whole dollars. I decoupaged some anchor wallpaper I found at Joann’s for like $5. The artwork and accessories were no more than $50. The misty beach art was a gift from my dad who took a picture on our beach one foggy morning. He blew it up onto a canvas and I absolutely LOVE it!

The nautical blue striped wall was also an Oops! paint score for $5 for a gallon. The white was leftover from doing the trim. This really amps up the nautical feel. The TV is a Black Friday deal of $125.

The shelves in the little alcove were built literally from scrap wood from other projects, so this was free, but a huge addition for additional storage space.

The boat art was purchased at Goodwill for $8. The set of chairs were purchased at the Habit for Humanity Restore for $30 for both. I then slipcovered them with white canvas for an additional $50. The lobster pillow was a sweet housewarming gift from my friend Naomi. The navy end table was $20 from Big Lots.

You can’t tell in this picture, but the navy blue corduroy pillows with red piping actually have tiny embroidered Lobster kind of reminiscent of Ralph Lauren. This fabric was a splurge at $18 a yard, but not too bad when I got 3 pillows out of 1 1/2 yards. The lamp was left over from something else.

The bedspread was a clearance item on Target.com and was $35. The bed skirt was $15 and the sheets were $30, both off Amazon. The ahoy pillow was on sale for $5 at Hobby Lobby.

The nightstands were another steal for $59 each brand new, still in the box in a furniture clearance store and have a USB charging port which I thought was a fun feature. The lamps were a Goodwill find at $6 each.

One of my two favorite things in this room is the red lobster buoy which belonged to a man very dear to us, Dick Merryman, who passed away too soon a couple of years ago. He was a real Maine Lobsterman…a real man’s man with a good heart. He is my brother-in-law’s father and my husband lobstered for him for a couple summers when he was a teenager. Having one of his buoys means a lot.

The bathroom makeover really couldn’t have been more dramatic… and with a surprising total makeover budget of just $350!! The vanity was one I had been ogling over for months for $400. It went on clearance and I was able to pick it up for $128. The faucet was almost as expensive at $100, but it was beautiful and I had to have it.

The mirror was a $20 Hobby Lobby find and hung on a bracket. The light fixture was $35.

The floors believe it or not are just a peel and stick faux Carrera marble, that I laid in a staggered pattern and grouted to make it appear like the real thing.

The walls were painted with leftover paint and I got an anchor stencil which I did on two walls.

We have yet to replace the original peel and stick floors. They are NOT my favorite and will be eventually replaced in the future.  Overall we are probably into this apartment less than $2,000 and considering how huge the transformation was, it is really quite amazing. It goes to show, that if you are smart in your choices you can add value and create a wonderful transformation without breaking the bank.

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