Home Front Newsletter Preview: domino

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Home Front is a weekly deep dive into the rising—and returning—trends, decor, and teeniest of design details fresh on our radar. Last week, Lydia, Domino’s home editor, put her favorite renovation hacks under the microscope.

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The other week, I was interviewing a homeowner about her family’s Santa Ynez vacation home (coming soon on Domino!) and pointed out how I loved the bookcase at the bottom of her staircase. But it turned out it was much more than that: Push on the shelves and the whole thing opens up into the office. “When I was a kid, I always wanted a secret door,” she told me. You might be surprised to hear it, but there’s nothing I love more than being mistaken—when it comes to design details, that is.

On Board

“Oh, that thing you thought was a headboard? It’s actually just paint.” “No, that oven didn’t come in pink—it’s wrapped in vinyl.” I’ve interviewed hundreds of homeowners, designers, architects, and contractors overseeing Domino’s before-and-after content, and the cleverest of them always remind me that the best transformations are never as they seem. Sometimes the deception lies in the material itself, like durable porcelain countertops that only look like marble. In other cases, it all comes down to the way something is applied. Want to avoid spending thousands of dollars on a slab of stone? Line up smaller-scale tile for the same effect. I can show you better than I can tell you. 

Can you spot these renovation tricks right away?

  1. DIYer Leah Hodson camouflaged her bathroom in this Calacatta Viola–inspired wall mural and, well, it rocked.
  2. Little-known fact: Real concrete is pricey. That’s what has DIYers running to imitation treatments like Ardex’s Feather Finish, a self-drying, cement-based mixture.
  3. Talk about a disappearing act. These Reform cabinets are sure to fade into the background—exactly what you want in a small space like my apartment—thanks to their reflective stainless steel fronts.
  4. Salvesen Graham covered this London bedroom in De Gournay wallpaper to streamline the many closet doors in the space, but I love how it turned into adding a secret bathroom.
  5. Home and garden blogger Cynthia Zamaria is no stranger to butcher block, but in this tiny galley kitchen, she told me she wanted to push herself. Cue stonewood, a golden quartzite that looks like it came from a tree, except you can actually set a hot pan down on it.
  6. By using black grout with these dark large-format tiles, one Texas homeowner fooled me into thinking her shower was swathed in seamless slabs.
  7. Combine two shades of blue paint (one light, one dark) on basic paneled doors, à la this Jersey City living room, and your space will feel plucked from a Renaissance painting.
  8. Beloved British designer Beata Heuman disguised a powder room underneath a staircase with reeded detailing that I’d guess is easy to re-create with hardware store supplies.
  9. Here’s hoping that making a walk-in pantry door indistinguishable from the rest of my cabinets will curb my 3 p.m. snacking habit.
  10. An oversize dough bowl is an opportunity for a fresh powder room sink—just be sure to waterproof it with a combo of Watco Tung oil, a Varathane urethane oil–based sealant, and Olympic waterproofing sealant, according to DIYer Camille Styles.
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