We moved into our current home in August 2008, after living in our very first house — a charming 1939 cottage brought back from the brink by the sweat of my husband’s brow — for eight years.
Change has come slowly. I’m just not the kind of person who can move in and have all my treasures hung on the wall in the first week. Or the first year for that matter. Making a house my own seems to be more of a courtship: minimizing flaws, enhancing attributes, learning to bring out the best in each other.
Our first task was to strip the not inconsiderable embellishments of window treatments, fabric, wallpaper and faux finishes to get to the bones of the house. You’ll note from the “before” photos that the previous owners had very charming taste — it’s just wasn’t my taste. So we’ve spent a fair amount of time wiping the slate clean.
What seemed to be cavernous space in the beginning – we more than tripled our square footage, and for quite some time, it showed – has steadily been filled (and, in some rooms, overfilled) with kids growing in size and number, and a mother with too many “hobbies” that entail too much stuff. Eeek.
Over the past couple of years, my husband and I began ogling other castles with three-car garages and bigger yards. As we’ve gotten more serious about finding a “long-term” abode, getting the current castle into sellable condition has taken on a greater urgency. Most of which consists of our whittling down the “to do” list into a manageable form. Ergo, we have my “If Money Was No Object And Neither Was Time” List and then the “Hey, We Might Actually Need to Do These Things to Help Sell the House” List. And said lists don’t really get along much.
It’s kind of a problem.
Nevertheless, here are a few “before and during” comparisons to show our progress.
The original wall color, used here and throughout the kitchen, living room and upstairs hall, was a very aggravating putty color that looked different on every wall and in every light. Even at its best, it looked not only boring but cold. So our first major change to the house was painting most of the downstairs a color called “Woven Straw” (Behr Ultra Premium). It’s a warm, golden brown, almost a taffy color. I was very happy with it.
Until I fell in love with white walls a few years ago. Now I’m my wandering eye is lusting after the crisp, placid hues of oyster shell and snowy owls.
The saga continues.
WHAT I DREAM OF DOING: I want to repaint the walls something white. I also hate “fake stairs.” I want to refinish the banister in a dark stain, replace the carpet with actual wooden treads (also a dark stain) and add a Dash & Albert stair runner. Also, the downstairs woodwork is painted off white instead of the perquisite crisp white.
WHAT WE’LL PROBABLY DO: Clean up some chipped paint and walk away. We might replace the carpeting. Maybe. I’ve threatened the hubs with a demand to paint the off-white woodwork the aforesaid crisp white. (His reaction can only be described as mortal dread.)
The Study is currently Scott’s office and a bit of a catchall room. Mostly with my junk. As he keeps reminding me. We’ve done nothing to it yet.
WHAT I DREAM OF DOING: I would like to repaint to a color that complements the dining room, and decorate the room as a formal Living Room/Study. (Yeah. I’ll get right on that.)
A new photo is in the offing, but not yet posted.
We repainted the ceiling white and the walls a Behr color called “Urban Mist,” which is lovely — except that it made the woodwork look positively yellowish by contract. After mewling over it for several months, I finally finagled white woodwork out of my sweet husband. Unfortunately, said white paint begins and ends in the dining room.
WHAT I DREAM OF DOING: I might change the light fixture, but this room is pretty much complete. Yay!
Again, the walls are Woven Straw. Our fridge instead of theirs. We added new double-ovens, a new cooktop and a new dishwasher. (I dearly love my appliances… Is that wrong?) The doors of the display cabinet next to the ovens had been altered to accommodate chicken wire “windows,” which we replaced with glass.
WHAT I DREAM OF DOING: I’d love to do a top-to-bottom kitchen remodel, but for the expense. Yikes. In lieu of the full enchilada, I would settle for white cabinets and a white subway tile backsplash. If I’ve learned one thing in this house, it’s that I loathe yellow. And yellow with gray is worse. I’d also like new light fixtures, particularly over the cooktop.
WHAT WE’LL PROBABLY DO: Touch up the paint on the cabinets. And maybe, maybe re-tile the backsplash. Short of winning the lottery, I doubt a full kitchen reno is in the cards.
Paint: Woven Straw. Much denudation of excess of fabric and fringe. I recovered the window seat in a blue-and-white ticking stripe and added a couple of pillows.
WHAT I DREAM OF DOING: I’d really like to add white wainscoting to the breakfast nook area, along with a new paint color. A new light fixture might be nice, too.
The wall color. Could it be… Woven Straw? Why, yes.
WHAT I DREAM OF DOING: I’ve thought about painting the brick fireplace surround white. (It’s very nice brick, but it just craves white, to me.) I would love to replace the carpet with hardwood flooring.
WHAT WE’LL PROBABLY DO: We might replace the carpet with new carpet. No guarantees.
The Powder Room was recently painted the same color as the Dining Room (Urban Mist). We also replaced the mirror with a faceted sunburst mirror. When we remodeled our master bath, we took the scrap of carrara bianco marble and used it for this vanity.
WHAT I DREAM OF DOING: I wanted to redo the walls with tongue-and-groove siding or board-and-batten, up to about 4′ or so and painted in white satin. And maybe cover the ceiling in old maps. But I’ve settled for the new paint job and the new marble vanity top. Finito.
The “before” photo makes the Master Bedroom wall color look much lighter and nicer than it actually was. Very dark brown and splotchy. Of course, my photography skills being what they are, the second photo doesn’t offer much in my favor. The wall color (Behr Wax Sculpture) looks yellow here, which it is not. There’s also the little issue of the floral chairs, which have yet to be reupholstered… We did replace the crumbling plantation blinds, though.
WHAT I DREAM OF DOING: I’d love to replace the carpet with wood flooring. I also dislike the architecture of the ceiling — it looks clunky and awkward to me. If we stay in this house, we might choose to finish out the attic (which sits directly above our room) and flatten the ceiling here to allow for more room upstairs. In which case, we might put beadboard on the ceiling.
WHAT WE’LL PROBABLY DO: We actually had it in the budget to do hardwood floors in here. And then we bought a piece of property and that money said TTFN. It’s still on our wish list. We shall see.
The “before” photos show much more clearly what the master bedroom wall color looked like before we painted: a dark brown faux finish that created a very cave-like atmosphere. Dated fixtures, cultured marble, gold faucets, carpeted floor, ugly tile, etc.
We did a major remodel here, which I’ve sporadically documented for the blog. It’s been almost two years since completion and I have yet to post about the final product. Life happens. Until then, the buzzwords are: carrara marble, pedestal tub, polished chrome, inset cabinets, Venetian glass mirrors, frameless shower door.
The paint color here is Behr Sliced Cucumber, desaturated by 50%. (Incidentally, the purchasing of this paint was quite the ordeal, including – and I do not exaggerate – a sobbing breakdown at the checkout by a heavily-pregnant woman whose identity I will protect. I will also protect the creep at the paint counter of
the 91st & Delaware a certain Home Depot store, who made said pregnant woman cry, by not getting him fired. I’m a nice person, really.)
WHAT WE’LL PROBABLY DO: I have done a lot more decorating in here: artwork, plate wall, new linens.
The wall color is Behr Cumberland Fog. We also replaced the ceiling fan and the plantation blinds.
WHAT WE’LL PROBABLY DO: I’m doing a menswear theme for this room. The bedskirts (not shown) are made from old ties. I’ve also got fedoras hanging over the door. Menswear prints will soon be hung. It’s not done, but coming together.
No “during” photo as this is now my Office and in a constant state of “creative” chaos. I like the wall color but it’s starting to look faded. Eventual painting may be indicated. Right now, I’d just like to get it clean…
We painted this room Woven Straw (contain your shock) and added a whole wall of Ikea Expedit bookcases. New ceiling fan and new plantation blinds on both windows.
WHAT WE’LL PROBABLY DO: I have some artwork to hang in here eventually. Our oldest child christened the carpet with the clothes iron shortly after we moved it, so patching or recarpeting is indicated.
Looking at these photos, the phrase: “It’ll get worse before it gets better,” comes to mind. I’m not sure if that’s my crap-photography skills showing through or just cold, relentless reality.
But, progress, right? Chugging inexorably on, we go.