If you missed it, last week we introduced this before and after post about our kitchen. As for the rest of the house, the story stayed the same: my design magazine dreams came crashing against hard, cold reality and the resulting rooms landed somewhere in the middle.
First up – the living room. Or shall I say dining room?! When you are married to a professional piano player and he insists on bringing a grand piano into your little tudor home, rules get broken. Rooms gets swapped. Living rooms get furnished with dining room tables. Traditional floor plans go out the window.
John often reminds me that his piano is the only thing which he still possesses from the time he met me. Not a single chair, picture or table remains, he claims! What can I say, isn’t it customary that when two lives becomes one, the wife’s things remain and the husband’s get kicked to the curb? I think it may have been in our vows or something. Maybe even the Bible. Somewhere official, for sure. Anyway, I digress. Here’s the new living-acting-as-a-dining-room room.
I tried to make it as dining-room-ish as I could without any permanent consequences for the next owner. So I opted out of a chandelier, and relied on the custom built display cases full of dishware to set the tone. (Built by Noal Yungeberg – the same longtime SW employee who built our kitchen cabinets from scratch!) Otherwise, this room simply got new paint, Scovell Wolfe’s electrician to pop in some canned lights and then, of course, new stain on the hardwoods.
No, that’s not exactly true. This room (and every room for that matter) got a little something else that I would be absolutely remiss not to mention. WE DID AWAY WITH ALL POPCORN CEILINGS!! You can’t quite see them in these original pictures, but don’t be fooled. They were like extra-popped popcorn with butter on top ceillings. In fact, with all the yellow walls, it almost felt like I was living inside a popcorn bag!! (I wouldn’t know what that was like or anything given that I’m doing the Whole30 cleanse right now and popcorn is apparently the devil.)
Anyway, our favorite thing about this living-dining arrangement is that it kicked our family space into what used to be the dining room. And given that that’s connected to the kitchen, it gave us a taste of “open-concept” living without officially having it. And with two little kids, we loved, loved, loved having their hangout be in full view of the kitchen. In order to accomplish this, we more than doubled the doorway between the two rooms, relocating ductwork and a laundry shoot in the process.
Here’s the new framed opening.
The family room was a hard, hard, hard room to shoot with the dark walls, so you’ll have to just use your imagination. But I will tease you with this pretty little bar table in the corner.
The stairwell was a slow-grower. Aside from the floors being refinished and paint going up, not a lot happened here for quite awhile. That is until a dear sweet friend bought a new house and no longer had a place for the antique runner that was in this new house. I’m certainly not gun shy when it comes to begging friends to give me their goodies that they no longer want. I snagged that rug as quick as you can whistle dixie and installed it myself by day’s end!
Needless to say that beautiful rug got the ball rolling and I finally wrapped up the stairwell by installing a gallery wall.
Now, regarding the gallery wall. I went at it with extreme precision and meticulous forethought. I’m feeling generous, so I’ll share my thorough method with you. While watching American Idol and feeding my kids macaroni and cheese, I used Annie’s craft scissors to cut cardboard to approximately the same size as the frames. Then I arbitrarily taped the cardboard templates with blue tape on the wall.
Then I made adjustments. Then I crossed my fingers and started hammering nails. And then boom. I finished and ate a bowl of ice cream. Because at the time I was not silly enough to be doing Whole30. The whole picture hanging ordeal, as you can see, was pretty intense. But I survived.
We knocked this sucker to the studs and started over. Went back with saltillo tile on the floors (swoon), true wainscoting on the walls, and for the kicker, wallpaper. Wallpaper on the walls. Wallpaper on the ceiling. Wallpaper everywhere. It was glorious. And then it was gone. Yes, may it rest in peace. A candle caught fire and scorched my sweet, precious Thibaut wallpaper.
Thankfully, only just the wallpaper was ruined, not the wainscoting or trim. But it certainly, certainly was a sad moment! Especially after having had it professionally hung just weeks before! When people ask why we didn’t re-wallpaper, I joke that my bathroom budget when up in flames along with the wallpaper. Except it’s not really a joke. True story.
It’s still one of my favorite rooms we did though.
Another favorite spot is our little entryway. A big ole framed photograph I took of our dog Griffin years ago keeps watch over the door. Sadly for our children, Griffin went to a “birthday party” two years ago and has yet to return. Annie told me the other day that dogs sure must know how to party! Hello mom guilt.
And now for the really surprising room in the house: the den. If not for the den, the house was just a pretty typical Diebel Tudor. But the den really made the place special.
It had this great Ralph Lauren feel to it that I loved. But the red carpet was badly damaged and had endured long ago water issues, so it had to go. And in person, the staining on the wainscoting clashed horribly with the ceiling stain. I was adamant that I wanted to try to work around the existing original curtains though, because I thought they were a great legacy to the woman who’d lived in the house for 40 years before us.
We brightened the room up only in so much as we painting from ceiling down. We even kept the chandelier. But otherwise, all the work in this room was behind the scenes. Patrick, one of our lead carpenters, rebuilt the subfloor entirely (which had also suffered water damage) as well as essentially rebuilt the entire exterior of this room to prevent any future leaking. Beyond that, this room stayed a total throw back to its former life.
Believe it or not, this room actually has a discreet little door that takes you into the first floor master suite. We reworked the space, converting the hallway and closet into a new laundry room and closet system. We thought a lot about permanently closing off the den from the master, but just couldn’t shake the desire to have such easy access.
And here’s the master. Again, other than behind the scenes floor repair, the removal of the popcorn ceilings, some paint and new recessed lighting, this room didn’t see a major remodel either. As an aside, I do want to mention that as far as these older homes go I think that recessed lighting is one of the best things your can invest in. To me, there’s nothing more aggravating than not having a light switch to flip when you walk in a room. I’m all about ambient light, but I’m also all about not tripping in a dark room on my way to a lamp. Have you ever stepped on a lego barefoot? I rest my case.
Rounding out our little tour we have a few pictures of the upstairs. This upstairs bathroom was in such great shape for the age of the home, we stuck to a cosmetic makeover and called it a day. New fixtures, countertops, window treatments, paint. Done.
And finally, there’s Annie’s room. I really wanted to go bold or go home, hence all the pattern and grasscloth. A little risky but I loved it.
That same friend who had just bought a new house and let me have her stair runner, also ‘gifted’ me these drapes. And by ‘gifted’ I mean she was going to throw them in the dumpster and I snatched them before the trashman came! I used the dated valences as a bedskirt and the measurements happened to be spot on. It was glorious!
Anyway, that just about does it for the inside of the house, aside from the basement and a couple of bedrooms that never really got photographed. There’s also the garage that we converted from a 1 car to a 2 car, landscaping, a new driveway and a deck that our carpenter Dennis built. But, again, no pics! All in all, I’d say we touched every square inch of the property. But we’re movers at heart – nearly nomadic! So once it was finished, we were itching for a new project.
We actually put the house up for sale on a whim in November with my aunt Aimee and quickly sold it (major shout out to our realtor friend Erin Miller who brought a buyer the first showing and sealed the deal!). So we’ve now been out for about a month, hard on the hunt for our next project. Here’s to hoping we find one soon. Lord knows I’m ready for another remodel!
****All the amazing photographs were taken by Chad Jackson. The very mediocre ones were taken by yours truly.