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A Diamond in the Rough

Turing a foreclosed house into a home

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“People don’t realize, you don’t need a million dollars to have a dream house,” says Jordan Crompton. When the first-time homeowner and her fiancée Brett Reilly set out to find their first place, the two were typical of many real estate rookies: what they lacked in budget they made up for in ambition and spirit. So when their agent brought them to a foreclosed home that had good bones but was in shambles, they knew they had found “the one.”

“I knew it as soon as we pulled up to the house,” says Jordan. The three-bedroom colonial situated on a cozy culdesac in Tiverton blends warm community surroundings with ample green space for room to breathe. “It’s in a great family neighborhood and our yard is like a sanctuary; there are trees everywhere,” says the newly engaged Jordan. But when she and Brett first walking through the front door, the two knew they had their work cut out for them. “Inside was a mess!” laughs Jordan. “They ripped everything out; I mean everything was gone right down to the switch plates!” She likened the sight to a scene in the film How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when the misunderstood cave-dwelling creature steals all the gifts from the Whos of Whoville leaving nothing behind.

Focusing on the positive, Brett and Jordan looked past the clutter and saw what they had been searching for: the blank slate where they could carve out their stamp. “We had a creative vision for what we wanted the end result to be,” reveals Jordan.

Turns out, Jordan has a vision that inspires tens of thousands. The DIY impresario launched her design blog, Picklee.com, little more than a year ago, which chronicles her adventures taking trash to treasure and random finds from drab to fab step-by-step. “It caught on really quick and grew rapidly,” she says. While Jordan hunts for antiques and furnishings that have seen better days and transforms them in to stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces, Brett, a hobbyist photographer, captures the process in images. “Brett is a website developer, so he helped me develop the blog and he’s a super big support system,” Jordan explains. Though some pieces she picked up and refinished with the house in mind, others were simply projects, and soon they were running out of space to put Jordan’s creations. That’s where the idea for a retail location was born. Picklee on Spring in Newport opened just in time for the holidays and the charming shop boasts a collection of Jordan’s creations ideally suited for the City-bythe-Sea and anyone inspired by coastal living. She opened the shop with her mom, to whom she credits for her creative chromosomes. “I grew up with her doing this kind of stuff.”

Back at home, before they could get to the fun part of decorating with their combined talent, Jordan and Brett looked to create a warm, welcoming space reflective of their lifestyle; in other words, a combination of flair and function - on a budget. The key, says Jordan, is to be resourceful. “We got our floors from Craigslist and our bathroom vanities,” she says. “We sourced all over the place.”

After ripping out all the floors, the couple turned their attention to the kitchen. “Because that’s always the heart of a home - not that we cook a lot,” laughs Jordan, “but we spend a lot of time there.” The next phase was the master bath, and though they were anxious to get all the work completed, they also wanted it done right. “We spent a lot of time on it because we wanted it to feel like a spa,” explains Jordan. Putting the finishing touches on the bedrooms was next followed by painting. Stirred by natural hues reminiscent of the sea, the two chose muted tones of greens, blues and grays throughout. “We both grew up here; I went to school in Tiverton and Brett has lived in Tiverton his whole life and we both spend a lot of time in Newport, so we like coastal, light, bright colors. They feel bright, clean and happy.”

Since the couple was living in the house during renovations, they were also motivated to work quickly so they could enjoy the fruits of their labor as soon as possible. Working until 5am became commonplace. “We had no patience,” she laughs. But it all came together, as she describes, adding she hopes their home can serve as an example of looking at things like drift wood and weather-battered oars not simply as objects but as art. “It was our first house so neither one of us had ever done anything like this before,” she says. “We didn’t have a huge budget. We wanted to see what we could do with what we had. I’m always in antique shops and I know what I could find for next to nothing and make it look awesome.” From the back roads of New Hampshire to the beaches closer to home, the two never know where they’ll find their next treasure.

“Everything in our home, from the design to decor, was accomplished because our small renovation budget forced us to think outside the box, ”Jordan says. “In fact, that’s the reason I created my blog and the Picklee on Spring shop. Many people feel like they need huge budgets to create beautiful spaces, but I’ve always felt that the best  spaces are  created when you’re forced to be a little more creative, think different, and work with resources you already have. That’s how you build character and create a home.”