May 5th, 2013
I remember showing this picture to Mr. Project before we went and looked at the house. His immediate response was “NO”. No point in even looking at it. Then I told him the price and the square footage, and he was willing to go look at it, but wasn’t overly optimistic…
I don’t think I’ve ever posted my full set of “before” photos for our project house. When we bought this house, we were on a very strict budget but wanted something big enough for our growing family. I was 9 months pregnant, and didn’t want to stay in our tiny apartment, so house hunting we went! Anything in our budget that was “move-in” ready was around 1400 sq feet. Since we work out of our home, that just wasn’t enough space for us. So we had 2 options: buy something small and grow out of it pretty quickly, or buy something larger and put some major work into the renovations. We had never really renovated a house before, but I figured there was a first time for everything. Mr. Project is such a hard worker, I had no doubt in my mind that he could jump in and just do it.
When we found this house, it was in pretty bad shape. No one major negative, but just years and years of neglect. The carpet was 35 years old and the house hadn’t been painted in years and years. Unless you’ve been in a similar home, you can’t imagine how badly 30+ year old carpet smells. We brought friends over to see it before we signed on the dotted line and they ALL thought we were crazy. certifiably nuts.
But I could see the beautiful swan in the whole thing. The floor plan was pretty awesome, the spaces flowed well, and there were 2.5 bathrooms. And the best part – the part that really sold me was this home office space:
It also had a beautiful backyard and was on a big piece of land that was somewhat secluded from the neighbors. That’s something we didn’t see in any of the other (newer) homes we looked at.
When we decided that we were going to go for it and buy it, I knew that we were going to have to renovate every single surface. Nothing that we could *see* would be visible in short order.
I was excited to remove all those dark pine doors, and 3/4″ baseboards. The orange peel walls needed to be re-plastered and smoothed, and the flooring of course all had to go.
New lighting, new kitchen, all new bathrooms and laundry. We had to gut out the whole thing and start from the drywall up.
We did have a few surprises here and there. The entire under-lament (what sits on top of the subfloor, but under the flooring) turned out to be particle board, Mr. Project had to tear out every inch of every crumbling sheet and replace it with a much higher-quality plywood sheeting.
Some of the plumbing was in disrepair and we ended up having a plumber come and replace the majority of the old copper pipes and fittings in the house.
The lighting was also outdated and sparse, so we had an electrician spend a few weeks rewiring and adding some more modern lighting.
But the bones were good, and with enough work we made the house look brand new again.
Every surface updated in some way or another. Think about every surface in your home, and how much work it would be to replace them.
I remember leaning against the wall in the living room that first day and imagining that very process and being terrified of it, but also excited to be the creator of something so massive and wholly ours.
And in the end, I think we did a pretty amazing job. Mr. Project really made it happen, I was mostly a cheerleader – he’ll say visionary, but I couldn’t have imagined anything quite so beautiful unless I knew he could pull it off.
He was there night and day for the 2 months leading into move-in. And then finishing up small projects and a few big ones like the kitchen and laundry in the days and months after we moved in.
I think we’ll be forever changed by this house. It changed our goals and expectations. It made us realize that any goal is achievable with enough effort and a clear vision. It also made us never want to stop creating and making things more beautiful than how we found them. Which is a big reason why we wanted to move on to another project house. We love the adventure of designing a home. (see the after photos)
May 4th, 2013
I get tons of people asking what paint colors I used in our home. We went with a coastal beach palette with a lot of light airy colors focused around warm grays, taupes, and aquas. Here’s a quick graphic you can pin (scroll over to see pin button) if you want to keep track of our colors. I LOVE all my paint colors. I have to say that both in person and online, the most asked about color has been the Abalone (benjamin moore). It is a light airy gray that sometimes reads as greenish, or purpleish, but always beautiful and full of life. If I had it to do all over again, I’d have all my sea-salt mixed at 75% and maybe a drop of black added to de-saturate it just a hair.
We used Abalone by Benjamin Moore on all the major areas of the house including all the bedrooms (other than the master) and the office space. It’s an awesome, bright, neutral warm gray.
All the white cabinets were painted in Duck White by Sherwin Williams – a great off white that doesn’t go yellow/cream. It’s more of a green/gray undertone.
Trim was painted White Dove – DO NOT confuse this with Dove White which is a much more yellow white.
The walls here are Sherwin William’s Sea Salt, and the laundry cabinets are Kelly Moore’s Acapulco Aqua. The countertops are made of solid alder and stained a custom mix.
We wanted to go darker in our master and went with Brindle by Kelly Moore. This color is absolutely perfect if you’re looking for something that’s darker than the Restoration hardware grays, and is still a warm color. In the day it looks almost brown, but it’s definitely a gray. The nice thing about it is that you can mix browns or grays, it’s an awesome dark neutral.
To carry the warmth from the master bedroom into the bathroom, I went with a taupe – Benjamin Moore’s Ashley Gray. At full strength it’s a bit too dark, so I went 75% strength and it was great for the space.
My Craft room was a medium teal – Gidget’s Secret (Kelly Moore). I would have loved this to be a little bit more green, but it’s a rich beautiful color if you’re looking for a more blue color.
Here’s another view of Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams. We used this in two bathrooms and the laundry room. I also used it for inside the glass cabinets in the kitchen. The color is very similar to Restoration Hardware’s Light Silver Sage.
Picking paint colors was probably the most stressful part of the renovation. People say it’s “just paint” but really it’s a lot of work to re-paint a whole house if you decide you don’t like the colors. Plus the paint you choose really does determine the look and feel of your house. My advice is to try a lot of samples – put big swatches on the wall – and look up pictures online of spaces using the colors you are thinking about. At the end of the day, you just have to bite the bullet and hope for the best!
May 3rd, 2013
I LOVE turning vintage/antique furniture pieces into bathroom vanities. It’s such a cost-effective way to get a really unique piece in your home. And if you’re a great budget shopper it can be cheaper than your average pedestal sink but with so much more style.
You may remember me altering a console table into a vanity in my first project house:
In our new house, I am planning on doing something similar, so I’ve been on the look-out for the perfect piece to remix. I heard about a local vintage market, and hoped in Mr. Project’s truck to see if I could find something magical. After going through nearly the entire market, I happened upon this gorgeous little lady:
I’m pretty sure thats an antique vanity (pre-bathroom/plumbing). The height is perfect – including these cute little roller feet, the depth is just big enough for a sink, and the width is going to fit my bathroom just fine. I had to have her and went a little over my budget. But she’s just so pretty and I knew she would be a great conversation piece in our guest/powder bathroom.
I rolled her on outta there, and brought her home (her feet are not on in this pic, but they are sooo cute).
I love how leggy she is, and that little under-frame is so unique. They just don’t make furniture like they used to.
Now I need to find a drop-in or vessel sink, and some sort of wall mounted faucet. I’m also planning on painting her black. What color would you paint her? I think black would be super elegant but I’m totally into black cabinetry right now.
April 8th, 2013
Okay things have gotten real over here with our new house. We’re going to break ground in a few weeks and until then we’re RUSHING to get the house designed so that everything is to our exacting specifications before we even start. We had to compromise on a lot of rooms/things in the house, but one thing that we both wanted was a large pantry.
I’ve been collecting pantry ideas and am so thrilled to be able to design my very own pantry. Here is some of my awesome inspiration:
Who doesn’t want a hidden entry into a pantry:
And this pantry design was the first inspiration that I had to create a butler’s type pantry with a countertop for appliances etc.
What an awesome place for your microwave! And more open shelving – love it!
Fun barn doors leading to a very open pantry really does make it like a second kitchen.
And if you’re looking for a more elegant butler’s style pantry. I love the idea of wallpaper or patterned tile. Or possibly planked wood.
And why not do it in a fabulous color??
Baskets, shelves, cabinets and coffee!
Might as well throw in a ladder!
This one is just perfection! I think mine will look closest to this room – though I think the color will be a more bluer version of this green – so a desaturated aqua/teal.
Aren’t those all mouth-watering pantries??? I get giddy just thinking about having something similar in my house. The space that we saved for a pantry is about 16′x8′ and is right off the kitchen area so that it can be used as a second kitchen. We’ll have a sink, dishwasher, fridge, and microwave in there. I’m also including a “mom’s desk” or “command central” for all the bills, mail, homework, tasks etc. The pantry also opens into the hallway right next to the garage, so it’s a good central exit/entrance.
I’ve put together my preliminary elevation ideas (using Adobe Illustrator), I’m sure these will change a bit before the final product. Check em out:
You can see the profile of the shelves on the right, And then there will be a small apron sink (24″), and a single dishwasher drawer to the left. I’m so beyond excited to have a window in the pantry.
A few things to note on this side – The door from the kitchen will be a pocket door – so no swing issues. I’m thinking a cute little cup cabinet next to the sink – I had an inspiration photo of this but can’t find it. Left of the door is a built-in microwave (counter height), and plate dowels above the microwave. A row of glass-door cabinets above all of that for serving ware storage. We’ll also have a full-sized fridge in here, and next to that a big metal or chalkboard message board. (the wall here is flush with the fridge because of a coat closet that is in the hallway.
This is where my big open shelves come into play. So excited about those (I just adore open shelving). I’ll have some pull-out baskets for onions & potatoes, and then my awesome command central with lots of mail slots, and a pin board for chores etc. We’ll also have a charging station for phones and electronics here, and a printer.
I thew in a little color just to play around with some of the ideas floating in my head. I saw this awesome black/navy hutch, and thought the color was perfect for my desk area:
And the rest of the cabinets I was thinking a desaturated blue/green color and a wood or butcher block countertop. Here’s my illustration with some color dropped in:
So that’s our pantry plan for now. I would have to say that this is the room I’m most excited about in the whole house. I can’t wait for it to be done just so I can dance around in it! What do you think? What would you put in a butler’s pantry if you were designing it?
February 22nd, 2013
After 2 great years of working on this great house, we’ve decided to put her up for sale and move on to the next project house. I will definitely miss living here and I’ll especially miss my lovely kitchen and laundry room. In 2 years we were able to renovate the house in its entirety, renovate the shed, and get a little landscaping done too. Onto the house tour!
ETA – here is the listing: House Listing
4 Bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, large bonus room – 2380 Sq Ft and a pool. All of this on more than 1/3rd of an acre in lovely El Dorado Hills, California. (I’ll link the listing soon)
(Pass this along if you know anyone who’s buying!)