Tudor-style Decatur home filled with finds, DIY ideas

Karen Cooper describes herself as an “old house person.” That’s one reason why she and her husband, Phil, immediately toured a Tudor home after they learned it was going on the market.

The house is the oldest on its Decatur street and four decades older than the Dutch Colonial home they owned. The stained glass, exposed brick and window mullions — vertical bars between the panes of glass — were architectural details that caused the couple to put in an offer that night.

Now, the bungalow’s decor demonstrates her spin on budget-friendly items from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and thrift shops. The best compliment, she said, is when people walk in and comment, “It’s so you.”


Residents: Phil and Karen Cooper and children, Dylan, 10, and Maddie, 7, and dogs, Bear and Hank. Phil is partner/attorney at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, Karen is a former attorney and legal writing, research and advocacy professor at Emory Law who writes about DIY and home projects on her blog, Dogs Don't Eat Pizza (dogsdonteatpizza.com).

Location: Decatur

Size: 2,800 square feet, four bedrooms, three baths

Year built: 1929, with an addition in 1990

Year bought: 2014

Architectural style: Tudor bungalow

Contractors: Hunter Reising Design Build

Renovations: Replaced two rotted joists (under the laundry room and a bathroom), the roof and some siding. The attic stairs landed on the basement stairs, creating an unsafe situation, Karen said. The Coopers removed the attic stairs and installed a sturdier set in the hallway between the kids' bedrooms. They also replaced the gutters, added spray foam insulation to the attic and made structural, plumbing and electrical repairs.

Recent DIY project: A mini-renovation of the kitchen, where Karen removed the cabinets and faced nasty stuff, such as cockroach poop coating a plug covered by an old cabinet. She installed open shelving from IKEA. "All the things on my shelves are things I use every day, and I can reach them," she said. A sliding door, for $1.99 at a thrift store, replaced pantry doors that blocked the dishwasher. She snapped up a porcelain cast iron sink from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $12. She also replaced the faucet with one from Lowe's, removed the desk in the pantry and added shelves from The Home Depot, and changed the drawer pulls. The cost was $1,072.

Interior design style: Eclectic. She mixes modern and rustic, vintage crates, typewriters and washboards, and colorful art. "I am a repurposer, salvage-yard-shopper kind of girl," she said.

Favorite piece of furniture: The Pennsylvania House dining table, found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The table expands to seat 10, and as a mom, Karen said she loved that it already had some nicks and scratches on it.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity ReStore, IKEA, Overstock.com, HomeGoods, Target, Finders Keepers Consignments, Way Out Variety & Thrift, The Home Depot, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Scott Antique Markets, Last Chance Thrift Store, Marshalls, Pier 1 Imports, Lowe's, Floor & Decor