Front Room Re-do

September 26th, 2012

I recently updated that we were working on our “room divider” in the living room. I needed Mr. Project to finish it really fast because I was hosting a bunco party. So he kicked it into high gear and start to finish he had the room divider and all the wall trim up and painted in less than two weeks.

Now I’m going to show you this before picture, but I do have to warn you that this is like SUPER before. This was what it looked like when we bought it:

Everything about this before is terrible, and let me tell you that if you had smell-o-vision that picture would stink to high heaven because of the 30 year old carpet and probably the 30 year old paint job. Let me point out some very special things about the before just in case you miss the subtleties. 1. Popcorn ceilings, 2. hideous 30-year old orange peal textured walls (like really bad bad texture, not new slightly bad texture). 3. old stinky carpet, 4. 1-inch stained pine baseboards & pine doors, 5. creamy old switches and plugs, 6. wall blocking the kitchen, 7. rickety metal railing (we tried to salvage the wood beam, but the stink had permeated it so we had to toss it).  Basically the whole space was repugnant and have I mentioned that everyone tried to talk us out of buying this house?

Well that was more than a year ago. Before we moved in, most of the work was done in this space – though I don’t have a good progress picture. So Imagine the space with the pretty stairs, hardwood floors, smooth white ceilings and walls painted gray. It was a nice space, but really boring and other than the stairs lacked architectural detail.  And for me, the biggest issue was that there was no clear division of space. I’m all for open concept, but I want spaces to feel like they have a beginning and end. Here’s my first progress photo to show about where we were at when we got started + the cabinets, beam, and columns:

So for the first part of this project, we decided the specs on the cabinets – we didn’t want them to feel too big and bulky, but yet they still needed to have some weight to them. We went with 12″ deep on the inside of the cabinets (standard size for an upper cabinet), 34″ tall (standard height for a base cabinet), and then 22″ wide (just a good size for the space).

Mr. Project built the cabinets – the face frames and doors are maple, the boxes and shelves are pre-finished melamine  board.  The outsides of the boxes are trimmed with 1/4″ MDF to create the paneling on the sides and backs. The cabinets are topped with a solid chunk of Black Walnut that we got from a friend who had cut down and milled some walnut trees on his land several years ago (whenever using solid wood, make sure that is is properly dried to avoid warping and splitting). It’s really gorgeous and Mr. Project was thrilled to get some solid pieces big enough to use without having to glue anything. Initially I had planned for the whole thing to be white, but I’m so glad that Mr. Project suggested walnut – it’s expensive, but in the end it brings some much-needed contrast to the very white space.

Once the cabinets were done, he installed them to the walls and bolted them to the floors. Nothing’s moving these suckers. Next he installed a 2×4 to the ceiling (screwing it into the beams above) and then built the beam out of 3/4″ MDF like a big U and screwed nailed and glued it onto the 2×4. The columns are built out of 3/4″ cabinet-grade plywood cut and mitered and affixed to one small square screwed into the beam and one small square screwed into the cabinet top.

Once all the main pieces were assembled and installed, trim work could begin:

Mr. Project continued the crown molding along the beam, and then trimmed out the columns and put baseboard on the cabinets. Then he started on the board and batten that we did all around the front room, one wall in the dining room, and then up the stairs.

Once all the trim was done the real work began… putting, caulking, sanding, priming, sanding, and painting. Mr. Project and nearly the entire house was covered in a fine white dust for a good 4 days. It was pretty awful. And all I wanted to do was keep cleaning and vacuuming because I couldn’t handle the dust. but in the end it was worth all of the hard work!

Here is the room divider all finished (missing the doors). It’s so so so so gorgeous, and just the perfect thing for the space. You would never know that it wasn’t always there either. It really is just a great focal point for the room. Especially since this is what you see first when you walk in the house.

And here from further back, you can see the expansiveness of the board and batten.

And head on with furniture in place, a peak of the stairs to your left.

And now the full stair shot – I loved my stairs before, but now I super duper love them with the trim.

And then a few days later Mr. Project installed the inset doors and shiny latches. This matches our kitchen cabinets & hardware to tie the spaces together.

And the over-all shot. Bestill my heart! Such a beautiful space, and completely unbelievable that it’s the same space that we started with over a year ago!

100 responses to “Front Room Re-do”

  1. Pat D says:

    I just discovered your blog and I’m loving each and every project. The built in me moldings re gorgeous…

  2. Heather says:

    I love it! I love the dark floors and the white trim & paneling. We have little divider walls between our living & dining room and this just gave me the idea to turn them into floor to ceiling bookshelves.

  3. Amazing! This is a great transformation – I love the way the divider defines the space and the board & batten unifies it. Great project that I’m going to pin & come back to when we open up the wall between our living & dining spaces. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. libbywilko says:

    Love it Jen, you guys did a great job it looks gorgeous! So stylish but feels homey too.

  5. Love! The flooring is beautiful!

  6. Nellie says:

    wow, this is such a beautiful transformation. It’s the room and the decor. You’ve got a special touch here!

  7. wow.. so amazing, I can’t believe it’s the same space!!

  8. Jeryn says:

    Holy smokes, Jen!! This is like my dream house! Can I borrow Mr. Project to build my dream house? LOL I’m coming over to visit, for sure. 🙂

  9. Sheila says:

    I have been following your blog for a while and am just utterly awed by your talented f husband. This redo knocked my socks off!!! Great job, Mr. Project!!!!

  10. Christene says:

    OMG! This is absolutely gorgeous. I am in such a ‘hate-my-house’ phase right now, and am stuck on solutions. I will be showing this to my Mr. Handyman. Here’s hoping inspriation strikes! Can you tell me what kind of flooring that is?

    Enjoy your beautiful house!

  11. Bekka says:

    I LOVE seeing what you guys have done with your home. So much talent and inspiration for the rest of us.

  12. Kaleen says:

    Wow! You have put so much work into your home and it looks ammaaazzzinnngg!! I absolutely love how you did the room divider. Everything just looks perfect.

  13. […] are a few of my favorite posts from the week….The first is this amazing before and after by Project Girl*… I can barely believe it’s the same […]

  14. Desiree says:

    Your house is beyond amazing. So much talent!

  15. Renee says:

    That is GORGEOUS!!! You have a fabulous eye for design! I love reveal posts!

  16. Sig says:

    What a great job and a good eye you both have. Congratulations on the inspirational project.

  17. Dee says:

    I love, love it all and I love that couch. So pretty!!!
    Dee, The CSI Project

  18. Tery says:

    Hello! I just found your blog after searching for board and batten on stairs. I must say you have a beautiful home and what a great job on the trim work!

    Your house is exactly what I love….dark stain floors, light walls and detail in the trim work. I am so glad that I found your blog and will subscribe to follow what you do.

    Congratulations on your gorgeous home. Your Mr. Project is very talented.
    Lucky you…I am envious.

  19. Laura says:

    So amazing. Love love love it.

  20. Anna says:

    I love it! Do you have any tips about keeping dark floor cleaned? I have dark hardwood floor in my new home and it never stay clean as I would like it to be. I see dried streak of water and dust, thought I sweep daily, vacuum and mopped weekly.

  21. kris says:

    I really needed to see this before and after as we are just getting started with our full house remodel and I was starting to feel a bit of buyers remorse like maybe we bit off more than we can chew with this house… seeing this project has reignited my original vision and more importantly my motivation!

  22. Shirlee says:

    You and Mr. Project did a WONDERFUL job! Be grateful he can do all that, because there are MANY men out there who don’t know a philips from a common-much less remodel the whole downstairs!! (MY husband & I do these kinds of renovations and I have come to realize we are “different” lol) SO we know ALL the hard work behind those pictures!Cudos to you both!

  23. Lesley says:

    Looks awesome! What kind of flooring did you use?

  24. Jen Allyson says:

    Rocco Oak engineered wood from Simple Floors

  25. Jen Allyson says:

    Thanks!! I am so grateful that he can make my vision come to life because we would never be able to pay someone to do all this beautiful work!

  26. Jen Allyson says:

    Our floor stays pretty clean. We have a matte finish which I think helps with streaking. Vacuuming it really well before mopping helps with streaks.

  27. Maggie Reno says:

    Thank you for sharing the WAY before! We moved into our new house a month ago and have almost the same before look! (Our carpets match yours in the before picture.) I’m dying to get things changed, but luckily the popcorn ceiling and the smell don’t exist so I’m making do. This makes me SO excited about doing all the work we have planned. It’s going to be a TON of work, but seeing this I know it will be worth it!

  28. Jen Allyson says:

    Good luck! Its definitely do-able and most definitely worth it!!

  29. Michelle says:

    I love your transformation, it’s breathtaking! And the floors are just lovely, I also love your wall color. So glad I found your blog. Do you mind sharing your wall color?

  30. Sue Barnes says:

    Oh my gosh…I wish you could by my designer! I love your style! It is so clean and fresh. Anyway, I had one question about the board and batten walls…what do you do under a window? I have wanted to do this treatment in our front room, but there are two windows low to the ground and applying the wood vertically would run into the apron moulding at the bottom of the window. The only solution I could think of was to those pieces of moulding out…if you or Mr. Project have any suggestions, please let me know! Thanks so much for sharing all your projects.

  31. Ashley says:

    SO beautiful! Discovered your blog through pinterest…I love the trimwork and finishes! I only hope that we can make our house as beautiful as yours turned out!

  32. Lissy says:

    WOW! Fabulous!

  33. Dforbes says:

    Love your space! Where did you buy the blue and white chevron rug?

  34. Jen Allyson says:

    our window is super close to the baseboard so we didn’t do anything to that space except paint it white. If it were a bigger space – more than 12″ i would do batten strips same as the surrounding area and have them meet the apron. IF the apron is super narrow, then you can remove it and have them meet the window sill and then put a small quarter round under the sill in the spaces between the batten strips. GOod luck!

  35. Jen Allyson says:

    Wall color is Benjamin Moore Abalone. LOVE IT!

  36. Vee says:

    Beautiful! The only thing I suggest is a big, wide molding on top of the board and batten in the living room/dining. Them you can set pictures and knick knacks on it and easily change them around.

  37. Bree says:

    This is my first time on your blog and wow! I am blown away. Almost gives me hope for my house haha. Where did you get the gray chairs, if I may ask?

  38. Maggie G says:

    I absolutely love the cabinets that separate the two spaces (along with every thing else you did!). Can you tell me what is the total width between the two cabinets? I’m curious if we have enough space to do the same thing, to separate our dining and living room. Love the house!

  39. Jen Allyson says:

    its 12 feet from wall to wall, and the cabinets are 24″ each – so 8 feet between

  40. Jen Allyson says:

    west elm. not terribly comfy, but cute!

  41. Amanda O. says:

    Jen- AMAZING transformation!!! I’m not sure if I missed this in the test part, but what material did you use for the wall (batten, I think you called it?). Thanks so much for sharing!

  42. Jen Allyson says:

    we used 3.5″x.5″ pre-primed MDF casing strips (trim section of local hardware/lumbar store) for the verticals and the horizontal was 5.5″x.75″ pre-primed molding.

  43. Judy says:

    Jen – This is absolutely stunning! I love everything you did. Could you tell me how high you went with your board and batten, as well as the width between each batten piece?

  44. Jen Allyson says:

    Hey Judy,
    The baseboard is 5″ the verticals are 48″ and the header is 6″ – all of the battens are 13″ apart. Best of luck!!

  45. Chelsea says:

    What a great job!! You have such a great creative imagination for home design/decor. Stunning!

  46. Bridget says:

    Please tell me where you got those plush chairs….

  47. Oh my goodness, just came across this on Pinterest and had to find out more – I love it! Your blog looks wonderful, looking forward to kicking back with a big cup of tea this weekend and delving into it.

  48. Jen Allyson says:

    West Elm!

  49. Lynn says:

    Hi, I came across your blog on Pinterest and was wondering where your coffee table is from?

  50. Jen Allyson says:

    Lynn – my husband built the coffee table with some reclaimed lumbar that we found at a reclaimed lumbar yard.

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